Tag Archives: Capitalism

Global Battle for the Soul of Humanity A primer for the road ahead.

adbusters_109_crimethinc_sFrom Ad Busters , – Radicals often think they are out in a wasteland, disconnected from society, when in fact they are its cutting edge – though not necessarily moving toward the goals they espouse. Resistance is the motor of history: it drives social, political and technological developments, forcing the prevailing order to innovate constantly in order to outflank or absorb opposition. Thus we can contribute to tremendous transformations without ever achieving our object.

This is not to credit radicals with the agency to determine world events, so much as to assert that we often find ourselves unconsciously on their cusp. Measured against the infinities of history, all agency is infinitesimal – but the very notion of political theory presumes that it is still possible to utilize this agency meaningfully.

When we strategize for individual campaigns, we must take care not to make demands that can be defused by partial reforms, lest our oppressors neutralize us by simply granting them. Some examples of easily co-opted radical programs are so obvious that it is practically vulgar to point them out: bicycle fetishism, “sustainable” technology, “buying local” and all other forms of ethical consumerism that mitigate the suffering caused by global capitalism without challenging its roots.

But this phenomenon can also occur on a structural level. We should look at the ways our calls for social change took place without shaking the foundations of capitalism and hierarchy – so that next time our efforts can take us all the way.

Today it must become a line of flight out of a collapsing world.

Not Working – Did It Work?

The defining provocation of our early years was to take up, literally, the Situationists’ dictum, NEVER WORK. A few of us decided to test out on our own skin whether this was actually possible. This bit of bravado showed us all the genius of untutored youth, and all the perils. Though countless others had trodden this road before, for us it was as if we were the first primates to be shot into space. In any case, we were doing something, taking the dream of revolution seriously as a project one might initiate in one’s own life immediately, with – as we used to say – an aristocratic disdain for consequences.

It’s tempting to brush this off as mere performance art. Yet we have to understand it as an early attempt to answer the question that still faces would-be revolutionaries in the US and Western Europe: What could we interrupt with our (dis)obedience? Contemporary insurrectionists are attempting to address this same question, though the answers many of them offer are equally limited. By themselves, neither voluntary unemployment nor gratuitous vandalism seem to be capable of jerking society into a revolutionary situation. Despite everything, we stand by our initial hunch that it will take a new way of living to bring about such a situation. The essential fabric of our society – the curtain that stands between us and another world – is above all the good behavior of exploited and excluded alike. Continue reading Global Battle for the Soul of Humanity A primer for the road ahead.

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G8 summit protest: riot police arrest 57 in raid of London HQ

G8 protestBy ,The Guardian –

Riot police raided the central London HQ of anti-G8 protesters on Tuesday and hundreds of officers were deployed in the capital as protests took place against next week’s G8 summit.

Squatters inside the building, a former police station in Beak Street, off Regent Street, accused police of heavy-handed tactics after they were led out by officers who forced their way in after a tense standoff lasting more than three hours.

TV footage showed officers in climbing gear trying to secure the roof, then grabbing a protester who appeared to be trying to jump off the rooftop.

The raid came on the day of the Stop G8 group’s Carnival against Capitalism, targeting banks, hedge funds, mining and oil firms in central London as well as Claridge’s hotel and Boodle’s private club in the runup to the summit in County Fermanagh. The protests were concentrated on Oxford Circus and Piccadilly Circus. Police said 57 arrests were made in relation to the G8 protests.

A Metropolitan police spokesman said the force obtained a search warrant for the Beak Street property “relating to intelligence that individuals at the address were in possession of weapons and were intent on causing criminal damage and engaging in violent disorder”.

A handful of squatters are believed to have arrived on Friday, with many more subsequently joining them.

People ejected from the building said about 200 people had been inside. A banner hung from the building said: “What if we smash the G8?”

More than 100 officers were stationed outside the property from 10am. During the standoff, some protesters, many wearing masks, dangled their legs over a ledge of the building while others popped their heads out of the window, occasionally chanting anti-capitalist slogans and “Fuck the police.”

At 1.40pm, police began using chainsaws and crowbars to enter.

Protesters started emerging, most showing little sign of resistance, and were still being brought out 45 minutes later, suggesting officers had faced multiple barriers inside the property. More…

The Economic and Social Crisis: Contemporary Capitalism and Class Struggle

6-class-struggleBy Prof. James Petras,globalresearch.ca – The Motor Force for Historical Regression or Advance

One of the most important and yet most neglected determinants of the outcomes of the economic crisis and resultant deepening of social inequalities and immiseration is the ‘class struggle’.  In one of his most pithy metaphors, Karl Marx referred to class struggle as ‘the motor force of history’.  In this essay we will analyze the central role of class struggle, its impact and reflection in economic decisions and, most especially, the different methods and forms , according to the particular classes engaged in class struggle.

Having clarified the types and methods of class struggle, we will turn to the specific results of class struggles in different regions and countries: the different policies adopted as a result of class struggle reflect the balance of class power at both the national and regional level.

In the last section, we will compare and analyze a series of case studies of class struggles, highlighting the particular class configurations of power, the changing nature of class struggle (CS) and the concrete contingencies, which need to be taken into account in order for the ‘class struggle from below’ to effectively counter-act the class offensive from above.

The Two Faces of the Class Struggle: ‘From Above and Outside’ and ‘From Below’

Too often writers conceive of class struggle as actions taken by workers for working class interest, overlooking the equally significant (and in our epoch even more important) class struggle organized and directed by the ruling classes via the state.

The entire panoply of neo-liberal policies, from so-called ‘austerity measures’ to mass firings of public and private employees, to massive transfers of wealth to creditors are designed to enhance the power, wealth and primacy of diverse sectors of capitol at the expense of labor.  To paraphrase Marx: class struggle from above is the motor force to reverse history – to seize and destroy the advances secured by workers from previous class struggles from below. Continue reading The Economic and Social Crisis: Contemporary Capitalism and Class Struggle

Can Civilization Survive Capitalism?

can_civilization_survive_capitalism
Indigenous people protesting over climate change and mining. (KeithBacongco/Flickr/CreativeCommons)

BY NOAM CHOMSKY,inthesetimes.com On global warming, indigenous peoples and scientists face off against capitalist policymakers.

 The countries with large and influential indigenous populations are well in the lead in seeking to preserve the planet. The countries that have driven indigenous populations to extinction or extreme marginalization are racing toward destruction.

There is “capitalism” and then there is “really existing capitalism.”

The term “capitalism” is commonly used to refer to the U.S. economic system, with substantial state intervention ranging from subsidies for creative innovation to the “too-big-to-fail” government insurance policy for banks.

The system is highly monopolized, further limiting reliance on the market, and increasingly so: In the past 20 years the share of profits of the 200 largest enterprises has risen sharply, reports scholar Robert W. McChesney in his new book Digital Disconnect.

“Capitalism” is a term now commonly used to describe systems in which there are no capitalists: for example, the worker-owned Mondragon conglomerate in the Basque region of Spain, or the worker-owned enterprises expanding in northern Ohio, often with conservative support—both are discussed in important work by the scholar Gar Alperovitz.

Some might even use the term “capitalism” to refer to the industrial democracy advocated byJohn Dewey, America’s leading social philosopher, in the late 19th century and early 20th century.

Dewey called for workers to be “masters of their own industrial fate” and for all institutions to be brought under public control, including the means of production, exchange, publicity, transportation and communication. Short of this, Dewey argued, politics will remain “the shadow cast on society by big business.”

The truncated democracy that Dewey condemned has been left in tatters in recent years. Now control of government is narrowly concentrated at the peak of the income scale, while the large majority “down below” has been virtually disenfranchised. The current political-economic system is a form of plutocracy, diverging sharply from democracy, if by that concept we mean political arrangements in which policy is significantly influenced by the public will.

There have been serious debates over the years about whether capitalism is compatible with democracy. If we keep to really existing capitalist democracy—RECD for short—the question is effectively answered: They are radically incompatible.

It seems to me unlikely that civilization can survive RECD and the sharply attenuated democracy that goes along with it. But could functioning democracy make a difference?

Let’s keep to the most critical immediate problem that civilization faces: environmental catastrophe. Policies and public attitudes diverge sharply, as is often the case under RECD. The nature of the gap is examined in several articles in the current issue of Daedalus, the journal of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Researcher Kelly Sims Gallagher finds that “One hundred and nine countries have enacted some form of policy regarding renewable power, and 118 countries have set targets for renewable energy. In contrast, the United States has not adopted any consistent and stable set of policies at the national level to foster the use of renewable energy.” Read more…

Late Stage Capitalism And The Shame Haunted Life: You Can’t Kill Trauma With A Gun

Phil Rockstroh
Phil Rockstroh

By Phil Rockstroh– “Memory believes before knowing remembers.” — William Faulkner

In an era of corporate-state colonization of both landscape and mental real estate, when the face of one’s true oppressors is, more often than not, hidden from view, thus inflicting feelings of anxiety borne of powerlessness over the criteria of one’s life and the course of one’s fate, often, to retain a sense of control, people will tend to displace their anger and shame. Firearms provide the illusion of being able to locate and bead down on a given target. (How often does a person without wealth, power, and influence have any contact with — or even a glimpse of — the financial and political elite whose decisions dictate the, day by day, criteria of one’s existence?)

Beginning in childhood, carrying the noxious notions of the adult world, the viral seeds of mental enslavement to shame and the concomitant attempt to protect ego-integrity through psychological displacement are spread child to child.

All too often, internalized shame robs a child of his innate identity before it has a chance to jell. This is one, among multiple social factors, by which the collective mindset of capitalist/consumer state forcefully usurps an individual’s mind and holds it in torment.

Therefore, it is imperative for an individual, marooned in the shame-haunted miasma of the capitalist/consumer paradigm, to reclaim his/her own name. Even if the process entails (as it as played out in my own story) a descent into the underworld of memory and a confrontation with the ghosts therein.

A personal encounter with the raging ghosts of memory: Late autumn. 1965. Atlanta, Georgia.

At my back, as I stepped from the yellow school bus, and hurried in the direction of the small, two story apartment building, a seething cacophony of taunts and insults seemed to buffet me forward. Marc Leftcoff had sneered that the apartment complex where my family dwelled was, “The Projects” — that he proclaimed to be “a roach nest for losers, unemployed rednecks and divorced hussies — only a place white niggers would live.” Continue reading Late Stage Capitalism And The Shame Haunted Life: You Can’t Kill Trauma With A Gun

The 12 Step Program for Recovery From Stupid Capitalism

imgresBy Ted Rall, RallBlog – When I talk to other Americans about what is going on, I see that they are puzzled, angry and addicted. They are confused that, even when they vote for liberal politicians, they get right-wing policies. They are angry because the alternative–voting for a conservative–would be even worse. But there they remain, stuck in a two-party trap to which they have become addicted. They know the Democrat-Republican duopoly isn’t good for them or the planet, but they can’t imagine anything different.

Please, people ask me, stop bashing Obama and the system and tell me what I should do. Me personally.

Fine. You are an addict. You are addicted to stupid capitalism and the political system that reinforces it. You need a 12-step program to recover.

  1. Admit that under the Democrats and Republicans you are powerless, that things will never get better under them, that their system of capitalism is out-of-control, immoral and unsustainable.
  2. Understand that a different way of organizing society, economics and politics could restore us to sanity.
  3. Stop believing in the power or desire of the two parties to make things better.
  4. Stop participating in or thinking about electoral politics, which are a waste of time and energy, a needless distraction.
  5. Understand that we face radical problems, such as climate change and income disparity, that radical imgres-1problems require radical change, and that radical change originates in the streets, never at the ballot box.
  6. Understand that radical change is usually impossible without revolutionary overthrow of the state and the destruction of the ruling class and the stupid capitalist system that sustains it.
  7. Accept that revolutionary movements require a combination of nonviolent and violent tactics in order to have a chance of succeeding.
  8. Make common cause with anyone and everyone opposed to the existing order, no matter how repugnant, because nothing else matters until we have emancipated ourselves.
  9. Make a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves, admit to the world our complicity in allowing the existing system to exploit, rob and murder their people and things.
  10. Make amends to people of other countries wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.
  11. After the Revolution: Continue to self-assess, and when we are wrong, promptly admit it and make amends.
  12. Try to spread the message of revolution, freedom and emancipation to other oppressed peoples, and to practice these principles in all matters.

Happy New Year!

(c) 2012 Ted Rall, All Rights Reserved

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