Russell Brand has been under attack over his recent article lately “Russell Brand on revolution: “We no longer have the luxury of tradition” But before we change the world, we need to change the way we think.”. The left took to him like vultures tearing up every opportunity we had to exploit this occasion and get real radical ideas discussed on a much larger stage. We can discuss the misogyny of his actions in this and in the past, but we also need to seize this moment to stand up for what was said.
Sadly if you are butt hurt he pissed on voting then you might not be as left or liberal as you would like to think, so maybe you should start questioning why it is you support this oppressive system.
For those of you who are still listening and talking you should understand that our system of electing rulers has failed us. It is time to call for revolution. I am not looking to reform our system this will only clean up the ruling class just enough for it to be slightly tolerable for a little while longer. We need to bring down the system.
I choose to highlight two paragraphs.
Total revolution of consciousness and our entire social, political and economic system is what interests me, but that’s not on the ballot. Is utopian revolution possible? The freethinking social architect Buckminster Fuller said humanity now faces a choice: oblivion or utopia. We’re inertly ambling towards oblivion, is utopia really an option? – Russell Brand
I am not sold on utopian revolution in the reality of a revolutions outcome, but that is the goal. Isn’t that the goal of every revolution? We can say that the outcome of revolution can far exceed the current system of the ruling class which is founded on and supported by murder and exploitation.
Along with the absolute, all-encompassing total corruption of our political agencies by big business, this apathy is the biggest obstacle to change. We can’t alter the former without removing the latter. Can this be achieved? Obviously this is a rhetorical question and without wanting to spunk the surprise ending the answer is yes. – Russell Brand
Not only can it be achieved but it must. It can and one day will be done. The question is always will you wait for it or will it happen when things are worse? I fear that too many are complacent and true change will be later when it seems too late.
What is an answer or a goal? I cannot speak for Russell, but myself, I look to the vision of the anarchists who have lived and are living now offering alternatives. Not to be redundant, but the two biggest actions I feel are needed right now are education and organization.
The vote is a passive complacency. Direct action is the active participation in change. So, no a vote is not what will bring any answers but only through direct action will we change the world.
The clear and concise truth and message both behind what I am writing and what I get from Russell’s article is this: The system and our rulers will not bring us any answers. We must rise up and create the tomorrow we want.
The message is resistance and revolution.
I hear workers complaining about their situation. I attempt to agitate “Doesn’t that make you mad?” but if you cross that line to “Isn’t it time we do something about your situation?” it is too much for most.
I just want to have a slightly nicer financial situation and I’ll be okay with the system. Our representatives will make the rules and changes. Change will never happen. I’ll chase the capitalist carrot a little longer.
The United States is distracted, complacent, fat and happy. I am doubtful sentiments in the U.S. will change until we face a more tragic future that awaits us.
If you have your eyes on the end result it might help, but the sad reality is that with the decline of unions and the sick hierarchical structure of many the reality is that organization of the people is at a low. Where we have seen people taking power through organization in history it did not happen overnight.
I’ll be honest. My end goal is revolution of the people and the abolition of the state and capitalism. Let’s be clear here. If you unionize the state and capitalism will still be here tomorrow. The system will still be up against us, a monolithic impasse which seems overwhelming.
Organizing which is being done to raise minimum wage is facing far too much cultural opposition. Fear of the two dollar cheeseburger grips the nation. The system is not even being challenged. God forbid we challenge what is. Why should we? The U.S. is still living off of the labor and resources of workers and exploited people around the world. The parasitic nature of the U.S. and the element of privilege of the capitalist nation is fragile. When you start to talk about changing the system you threaten power and wealth. We don’t look at the multimillion dollar raises the CEO’s get as a threat, only the raise of the workers. Of course we don’t because empowering the workers is a threat to power and hierarchy. So the powers that be only perceive the threat of the empowered worker as they accept their supremacy without question. In turn many workers hear this dialogue and do not question it. They find themselves defending their masters and perpetuating their rhetoric.
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Part 4: History as a continuous process
One of the real difficulties Holloway’s thesis on the crisis of capitalism poses to a critical analysis is that his very incisive critique of the failings of post-war Marxism is buried under his own terribly flawed grasp of labor theory. For instance, Holloway rightly criticizes the dominant Marxist view of capitalist crises as a potential trigger for a political revolution:
Part 3: History as a hall of mirrors
What I find really interesting about Holloway is his determination to carry his argument to its final conclusion, no matter how it appears to conflict with decades of accumulated Marxist dogmas and even his own poor grasp of the basics of labor theory. His attitude can be best summed up by his scathing response to a critique of his book by Daniel Bensaid:
“Spit on history. History is the history of oppression told by the oppressors, a history from which oppression conveniently disappears, a history of Heroes, of Great Men.
Spit on history. History, even our history, is a history in which the struggle against oppression is invaded by the categories of the oppressors, so that it too becomes the history of Heroes, of Great Men, of Marx, Engels, Lenin, Trotsky, Stalin, Mao.
Spit on history, because it is the great alibi of the Left, the great excuse for not thinking. Make any theoretical or political argument about revolution and the response of the Revolutionary Left is to bring you back to 1902, to 1905, to 1917, to 1921. History becomes a whirlpool, sucking you into the details of lives long dead. Present political differences become translated into disputes about the details of what happened in Kronstadt over eighty years ago. Anything to avoid thinking about the present, anything to avoid assuming the terrible responsibility that the future of the world depends on us and not on Lenin or Trotsky.”
Not to be misunderstood by his critic, Holloway adds this gem:
“Drive your cart and your plough over the bones of the dead. Yes. First your cart: show disrespect for the dead, for they have bequeathed us a world unworthy of humanity, a world of exploitation and of mass murder in the name of democracy.
And then your plough: plough the bones of the dead into the soil of revolt. Plough their legacy of struggle into the ground to make it fertile. Honour the dead by showing them disrespect.
Do not build mausoleums, or monuments, or even put gravestones for the dead, just use their bones directly as fertiliser. The disappeared are the great heroes of communism: not just those who have been disappeared by state repression, but all of those unseen, unheard people who struggled to live with dignity in a world which negates dignity, the knitters of humanity. The history we need is not so much that of the great revolutionaries, but of those who did their washing and played with their children.”
If History for post-war Marxism has become a hall of mirrors in which we are continually trying to separate the real and reflected images of history, Holloway set out deliberately to smash all the mirrors in this great hall of mirrors.
Part 2: Throwing Marx and Engels under the bus
In the first part of this series, I noted that one of the peculiar difficulties of Holloway encounters in his main thesis is that almost all of the criticisms he directs at post-war Marxism seem to equally apply to Marx’s and Engels’ own advice to the working class to fight for and within bourgeois democracy. In his attempt to show why Marxism has failed, Holloway throws Marx and Engels under the bus as well.
A decades ago John Holloway shook up the Marxist academy with the publication of his book, Change The World Without Taking Power”. Holloway’s argument was that the Marxist preoccupation with taking power was not only obsolete, it was counterproductive, serving only to divert energy and time to a quixotic effort that leaves Marxists banging their heads bloody against the brick wall of capitalist relations of production. Said Holloway:
The world cannot be changed through the state. Both theoretical reflection and a whole century of bad experience tell us so. ‘We told you so’, say the satisfied ones, ‘We said so all along. We said it was absurd. We told you that you couldn’t go against human nature. Give up the dream, give up!’
A decade after it was published, I think it an examination is called for, the purpose of which is to see how Holloway’s critique of post-war Marxism stands up to time.
- Avoid:- claims or arguments for certainty, predicting the future,infallibility,dogmatism, extremism,black and white thinking, utopianism, being ivory tower i.e. too abstract and theoretical,using too much jargon,claiming to know eternal fixed laws,claims to give a complete final worldview or the like.This rules out things like Ayn Rand’s Objectivism, Marxist-Leninism,Stalinism,Anarcho-Capitalism,Libertarianism,Communism etc.
- Systems like Capitalism or Socialism are values expressed in concrete form in institutions.They can co-exist to some extent since there’s no pure capitalism or socialism.The challenge is to make Capitalism a minority element of the system.
- It’s impossible to offer a value free economics, a value free criticism of the status quo or a value free argument for improvements.
- I think it’s safe to say that we should recognise that Marx’s communism of a stateless classless society is utopian and that USSR style complete centralized goverment is not desirable if we hold democratic values.
- There are no guaranteed solutions to problems.We must be open to alternatives and to experimentation.To some extent we don’t know what will work until we try it.
- Power can never be eliminated but may be used for good or bad purposes i.e. to harm or to help, to empower and lead to flourishing or to dehumanize.
- The State is influenced by many interests and not inherently pro-capitalist nor pro-labour.It’s influenced by many groups and this explains it’s conflicting policies and programs.
- Environmentalism must be a vital part of politics.It’s unclear what it will require and how it will be achieved and how it can be achieved quickly.
- There are no final victories.Social progress may be achieved but it can be overturned.All progress is a constant struggle. There is no guarantees of permanent success and improvements.Progress is not necessarily permanent.I view society as always having a certain amount of unavoidable debate and conflict.This leads to the conclusion in my mind,that we can never eradicate the Right wing for example and that there is never any final victory for socialism or anarchism or Communism or any political philosophy.
- I think Amartya Sen’s way of conceiving of freedom or liberty as about capabilities and opportunities is about as useful a theory on freedom we can have but there certainly is no easy distinctions between ‘positive liberty’ and ‘negative liberty’.
- I think we can take insights from things like Marxism or situationism etc without being dogmatic about it or assuming it’s a complete final worldview.
- Reasonable debate and discussion is vital for democracy.
- We should avoid any claims to having eternal absolute certain foundations for a political philosophy e.g. libertarianism has logical axioms and dogmatic marxism claims to be as scientific as evolution.
- We cannot know ahead of time what the best society we should/could have would look like.We can only compare societies and ideas of improvements with now.It would be undemocratic of us to tell future generations what kind of society to have and we also cannot predict the future so we are unjustified draw up blueprints.
- We can only react to political issues as they arise and we are limited in so many ways in what we can do in one lifetime.
- It is not at all obvious that the status quo is heading towards collapse or failure. It must be made to happen.
- Slogans and mottos can be nice motivating shorthand but obscure nuance and complexity.
- No progress comes overnight so the idea of a full scale revolution is utopian. All social progress has taken years to achieve and has been piecemeal.
- Revolution:- While I don’t believe revolution is impossible it seems unlikely given what we know. I consider it somewhat dogmatic to believe it is the only solution.Furthermore I have yet to see a coherent realistic explanation of how it could even possibly occur(granting of course that this is a difficult task) Reform is difficult enough so that revolution looks highly idealistic and unrealistic.
- Serious massive reform takes a number of years if ever achieved and it involves near constant struggle.
- There will always be protests and injustices and we must always be ready to resist. All I am for is genuine improvement of ordinary peoples lives-if that’s reformist and weak then I make no apologies.I do not think the current system is perfect or anywhere near what it should be but aspects of it I prefer to alternatives e.g. I prefer having laws against At-will firing than not having them as anarchism would tend to require.I’m more even about practical improvements than philosophy really.
- Economics:- Economics is little importance.Much of it is either obvious or politics masquerading as science.Too much of it is abstract from real life.Mainstream Neo-classical/ capitalist economics is clearly flawed.I’m pretty uneasy about economics as a practice but it seems Behavioural Economics is at very least a better approach than traditional ones.Economics cannot be ‘value free’ it must by it’s nature involve ethics and political judgements.Economics must take into account culture,history and psychology to name but a few disciplines involved in it.
- No eternally true/useful theory:- In it’s day things like classical liberalism had worth i.e. They smashed state absolutism,theocracy,feudalism etc.But it came that the needs of individuals and society meant that it had outlived it’s purpose such that today it is irrelevant and worse,reactionary.Some elements of Marxism even are also much similiar to this.
- Democracy is a dialogue that never ends,it’s contested,it’s messy,it’s nuanced,pluralistic,allows diversity,deliberation,debate and makes some conflict unavoidable.Not all views can be taken seriously either if we’re being realistic i.e. fascism is ruled out by democratic values and anarchism is beyond what the majority consider practical or useful going forward.
- We should be willing to criticize any institution or policy or part of government or function of it when necessary. Critics, transparency and debate are vital to democracy.
- Majoritarianism is the best most fair system of organizing and decisionmaking.Unanimous agreement is desirable but often impossible especially in large groups
- Answering Anarchism:- I don’t want to get into discussions of whether a stateless society is possible or more just or whether one with a state is always necessary or more just.It’s irrelevant really and as John Dewey( or was it Richard Rorty?) argues we do not find final solutions but give up asking specific questions and move past them.We have a state now- this is our starting point .If you’re gonna make the argument that the state is unnecessary or inherently injust that’s a claim worth dealing with.To some extent just common sense can answer anarchism.But it still needs done.Anarchism serves a purpose.It makes us check our reasoning and justification ,make sure it’s not unduly controlled by those in power.
- I am critical of anarchism because I see it as unrealistic and undesirable.But should it become possible and even desirable and the majority work towards it then I will join with them and support it once I took am convinced.
It’s Christmas time again, and it seemed a perfect time to discuss the role of gifting within society. Nearly every child who celebrates Christmas will, at some point in their childhood, say something to the effect that “I wish it could be Christmas all the time!” and without fail, this wish is put down by parents. Obviously the parents wouldn’t be able to afford to buy presents for their children, as well as all their friends, relatives, etc every day, but that’s never the reason given. The reason given is something along the lines of “But then it wouldn’t be special any more.”
Communism is the idea that we should kick that view out of the water. Markets and capitalism are squashed into so much of our lives, but some of the greatest joy that people experience comes from the short times of the year when they reject all that: Christmas, birthdays, celebrations, etc. During this, we abandon notions of exchange and give gifts to each other. And we also gain a genuine sense of ‘from each according to his ability, to each according to his need’: the first time a child gives out Christmas presents, they probably haven’t given much, but it means a lot to them, and will inevitably be appreciated. In fact often children are very eager to give out presents; it gives them a sense of pride that they’ve been able to, and perhaps more importantly, a sense that they are just as much a part of the occasion as everyone else. No-one measures and quantifies their Christmas presents. People don’t make charts and check prices so they know the exact balance of how much everyone has spent on each other. In fact we’d laugh at such an idea.
So here is my question: why can’t we live our lives like this? Why can’t we make gifting the basis of everyday life? For what reason can the principles of gifting at Christmas not be applied all year round? Do we really want to keep the rest of our lives shit so that the times when we do feel special by comparison?
For the Christmas-isation of everyday life,
From new contributor Andrea Egizi. You can find the full piece, as well some of her other work, on the website “News Junkie Post“; previous works on that site can be found by clicking her name after “Editor’s note” at the bottom of each post.
The mission statement of FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) is to “support our citizens and first responders to ensure that as a nation we work together to build, sustain, and improve our capability to prepare for, protect against, respond to, recover from, and mitigate all hazards.” For those who have become victims of this never-before-seen super storm, most likely will disagree with this mission statement and response time of FEMA. One such hard hit area is Atlantic City. This East Coast gambling Mecca is a densely populated tourist region on the northern most point of Absecon Island and is know for it’s transient population of the casino industry. Before the storm reached the coast, the whole barrier island chain was issued a mandatory evacuation and ended up taking a direct hit from the storm sustaining major wind damages and over 80 percent of the island was flooded. The result has been a housing nightmare for not only homeowners, but for the poorer renting residents and who are being denied and/or have pending FEMA checks due to landlord illegalities such as unregistered/unlicensed multiple family homes and single rooms for rent.
Read the post in its entirety right here.
1. somebody in charge: somebody who is in charge of others, especially in a work environment
2. somebody dominant: the dominant partner in a relationship or the dominant member of a group, who tends to make decisions and give instructions
3. powerful politician: a politician who exerts a controlling influence, e.g. by applying pressure on others to vote in a particular way
Inferred in these definitions is the fact that one central authority figure is in charge and telling others what to do. In the political realm we would call this a dictatorship, so if as Americans we reject the dictatorship for our central form of government, then why should we accept it as the system which rules our careers and professional lives?
We have all had horrible bosses. It always seems that the worst people somehow slip into these positions of authority. The assumption that most of us believe, because of the rhetoric we hear all our lives, is that “The Boss” is in charge because they have qualifications that are better than the underlings and these qualifications give them the boost that they need to climb the corporate ladder a little bit higher than the rest of us. As most of us already know by now this just simply is not true.
I have worked since I was ten years old. I had a paper route, shoveled snow, raked leaves, mowed grass, and even helped people move to earn a buck. Most people were appreciative to have such a youngster willing to do these jobs and I was treated with the utmost dignity and respect by my bosses in those early years. When it came time to take on work as a teenager, when the law said I could legally work for a corporation, I learned that not all people in charge were nice.
I wasn’t a responsible teenager in any way, shape or form. So when I entered the adult work force, working in restaurants and retail establishments, I thought that me getting pissed off at my boss and quitting was due to my immaturity and utter lack of responsibility. In part it was, but the trend of hating the authority figures who controlled my work life continued.
My bosses came in all shapes and sizes, with all different types of personality disorders and varying degrees of sociopathy. It has been said that “power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” , but I am willing to take it a bit further and say the desire for power tends to corrupt as well. The system of corporate rule even at the most basic level, say a big box store like Walmart for example, allows for this to happen. Putting the welfare of so many people’s lives in the hands of one person opens the door for corruption, and this has been the case for almost every job that I have ever held. Allow me to give a few real world examples. Names of people, places, etcetera have been withheld to protect the innocent.
Boss #1 – The Bully
A low person on the totem pole at a big box store is really struggling. They are unhappy with the position they have held since starting with company three years prior. They have been unable to transfer to another position in that store and have been given many conflicting reasons why they cannot move to another position by all members of management. The work is grueling and the conditions are harsh. The pay is low. The treatment of workers in that position by all other people in different positions is inhumane and embarrassing. The average age for a worker in that position is eighteen but our worker is in their thirties. Being a member of this untouchable caste makes the worker always on thin ice with the management. Due to the harsh economic conditions of the country the worker is unable to find other work and has constant anxiety about this.
One day the worker goes home for lunch because they forgot their food and cannot afford to eat at a restaurant. Halfway home disaster occurs. The transmission in the car that they are driving goes out and they can only cruise home at a brisk pace of twenty-five miles per hour because the problem with the transmission will not allow them to move to a higher gear and go any faster. When they finally get to their home the vehicle completely craps out on them and they have no way of returning to work that day. The dreaded inevitable call must be made to a member of management.
The manager on duty that day is a late thirties early forties something man. Each day he comes to work he is dressed impeccably. Not one hair on his head with his forty dollar haircut is out of place. He is relaxed and comfortable at work, always cracking jokes about the other employees and how dim witted they all are. He enjoys embarrassing all the people under him and giving them verbal lashing as he see fits, usually when a romantic affair in his personal life goes foul. Several times he has made derogatory comments on the personal appearance and clothing of workers under him, most of who make just over minimum wage and cannot afford to dress like him. The size of his wallet is only matched by his ego, and the lengthy commentaries he has regarding sporting events and workout routines.
The call goes through from the front desk and the manager picks up. The worker obviously very distraught explains the situation to this manager. Relaxed and carefree as always, the manager acknowledges the workers situation, but does so in such a way the acknowledgement comes off as snide and leads the worker to believe that the manager probably doesn’t believe the story.
The worker has to junk the car that very same day and keeps the receipt to show the boss the next day to ensure that they stay employed and the story of the car hiccup is validated. Luckily the worker is allowed to borrow a vehicle from someone and makes it to work on time the next morning. The worker walks right up to the boss that morning to show him the receipt and asks with a smile in a hushed and polite tone “You didn’t think I was lying to you yesterday did you?” handing him the receipt.
The boss turns around perplexed and disgusted and begins yelling as loud as he possibly can.
“If I fucking thought you were lying to me I would fucking tell you. Got it?”
The worker is blinded with rage. The immediate reaction of the worker is to begin yelling. The worker wants to grab the boss by the collar and punch the boss repeatedly until unconscious but a sickening feeling overwhelms this worker. The worker becomes paralyzed and begins to shake. Then the worker begins to blame themselves and follows the boss to apologize and grovel, saying anything to make sure their job is still secure. It is, but the damage is done. The embarrassment, shame, and foul treatment have become too much. The worker becomes least productive and begins committing small acts of sabotage and pranks whenever the opportunity arises. The job becomes a target for revenge rather than a place of employment. The worker becomes an employee who dreads coming to work but delights in the idea of putting a monkey wrench in the works of the employer.
ANALYSIS- The manager we referred to in this story is typical of most management. He started out as a lowly employee like the worker in this story and worked his way to the top through the thought manipulation of other people. He hasn’t worked any harder than any other employee to get to where he is, in fact he has worked less than others, he just happens to have a silver tongue. As with most individuals who make it to the management level, either assistant or full manager, he has a degree of sociopathy. On the surface the masks he wears and the lines he feeds to his peers and higher ups is enough. He is on the fast track to becoming a big boss, but if we look just below the surface, the ruse becomes apparent and the lack of depth is exposed. We must remember that a boss is not a leader, they are just a boss, and it is the bosses who pick the bosses not the workers.
Boss#2- The Underboss
An employee has been working with a company for a little over a year. The worker has done well and worked their way from a temporary position to a full time permanent position. This feat is near impossible seeing as the head manager is a hardnosed slave driver who only wants workers who are able to give one-hundred percent all of the time in spite of the impossible demands they are given.
Recently the worker has seen many of the seasonal workers let go because they haven’t met the demands sent down from management. One choice of seasonal worker that management has chosen to keep is a surprise to the worker. This seasonal worker has not worked much harder than the people who were let go. In fact, many of the other full time employees and lower level managers have complained that the seasonal worker is lazy and talks incessantly. The seasonal worker is put into a permanent position in the same department as the worker where the worker soon finds out how it is that the former seasonal worker has managed to stick around and soon become The Underboss.
The worker finds that their new peer does talk incessantly usually to fish personal information or opinions regarding anything work related. The worker also notices that the new peer is not only lazy but careless as well, often disregarding safety precautions unless a member of management is around. The incessant talking bit does not end however when the management is present. At that point it gets worse. The new peer becomes the worst form of sycophantic bootlicker. They chomp at the bit to have an audience with any member of management for any length of time. The peer soon ends up spending more time following around the management rather than doing actual work.
This ridiculous brown nosing does not go unnoticed by any of the members of the department with the exception of the direct supervisor (The Boss) who is on the receiving end of the bootlicking. Soon the other members of the department begin to gang up on the new peer and suggest that they do some actual work instead of sucking up to the bosses. Not long after this the bosses begin to come down very hard on these workers. The bosses bring up and throw in the faces of the workers personal opinions of the establishment that they told the new peer in confidence. Any mistake or deviation from protocol committed by any worker is immediately brought to the attention of the bosses by the new peer. When the same is done by workers against the new peer, the bosses claim it is petty retribution and nothing comes of it. Soon the only voice that is being heard by management is the voice of the new peer who has suddenly become The Underboss.
The Underboss holds no actual position of authority but begins passing out work lists and projects to the other workers and so called peers. The Underboss checks on the progress of these projects and reports back to the boss because he has become his lackey. Any involvement in any kind of actual labor is minimal for the underboss. When The Underboss does take part in work they only work when the boss is looking. The Underboss becomes fanatical in their devotion to the boss and has all the workers walking on egg shells, finding themselves an inch away from losing their jobs. The workers become quite paranoid. Suggestions are made about giving The Underboss a “blanket party” of sorts, but the economy is so bad that none of them can risk termination or jail time. They must deal with it until either The Underboss is moved from the department or they are. In a few short months the workers are both relieved and insulted when they find out that The Underboss has been promoted to Boss of another department and will no longer be directly working with them. Someone with less education, less experience, and less seniority than all the other workers has surpassed all the workers and been given a position of privilege and authority.
ANALYSIS- The Underboss is a true sociopath adopting whatever mask suits their purposes. They have but one goal, to gain as much power, prestige, and money as possible, by any means necessary. The Underboss has no soul. When confronted by others about their atrocious behavior The Underboss will feign guilt and sorrow, but in the end will only hold resentment and hatred for the accuser, often doing whatever they can to get them out of their way, even if it means getting their accuser get fired under false pretenses. Once The Underboss knows that someone is on to their ruse, it is only a matter of time before they set forth a plan of action to remove the menace. Nobody is safe from the relentless, ruthless attacks of The Underboss.
Boss#3- The Great Dictator
The Great Dictator is the boss of all bosses. They have turned management into a science with a bit of evil sorcery mixed in. The Great Dictator is usually a former Underboss who has attained their position through a wicked shrewdness on par with Hitler and Stalin. They have been systemized by the establishment and the robotic functions of their own sociopathy.
Once in power The Great Dictator sets a system in place to have complete control and wage total war against the people who work for them. The Great Dictator uses all tools at their disposal to ensure that they cannot be deposed for any reason by anyone so they can maintain their power, prestige, and income. The first step in this process is for The Great Dictator is to create a militarized police force.
The Great Dictator takes a good look at the midlevel management directly under them to see if they are up to snuff. They weigh and measure the personalities of the midlevel management to see who will be completely loyal and carry out orders without question. Those who do not fit into this uniform are either transferred out, rode so hard they leave, or are systematically removed through a campaign of falsehoods and manipulation. Once the opposition is removed, The Great Dictator puts in place the enforcers to carry out all orders without question in a malevolent fashion.
As they say, shit rolls down hill, and the pressure begins to fall on the lower level management. The pressure that is put on lower level management is measured, just enough to keep them one step away from breaking. A propaganda campaign is put in place to constantly remind all employees, especially the lower level management, of the rules, expectations, and values of the company, and that any deviation from them could be considered insubordination and make an employee subject to termination.
In an effort to ensure their survival under The Great Dictator, the lower level management delivers a swift crushing blow to all drone workers who do not fall in line with the new program. The building in which everyone works becomes a pressure cooker. An invisible psychic weight on the shoulders of employees makes them actually physically slouch. The imaginary whip at their backs is enough to prod them forward without regard to their morale, and personal well being. As long as orders are carried out to the satisfaction of The Great Dictator employees are left alone. If this is not accomplished, The Great Dictator ensures that pressure is placed upon the offending employee from all directions to reprimand them.
To make matters worse, The Great Dictator is an unapologetic micromanager. Instead of delegating responsibilities to the management beneath them, The Great Dictator is the overseer of every aspect of corporate life of all employees. Any detail that is not pleasing to The Great Dictator is berated and is immediately ordered to be changed to reflect the wishes of The Great Dictator. Compounding the frustration is the fact that Enforcers are still trying to exercise their own power by delegating responsibilities and projects to lower level management and drone workers, dictating details as they expect they should be. The details of these projects are often changed on the fly by The Great Dictator because they are not carried out to their satisfaction, causing projects to be done, redone, and redone again. This wastes valuable company time and money, and causes the employees to become a corporate Sisyphus.
This does not bother The Great Dictator in the slightest. To Them employees are simply cattle, lead to the slaughter when their usefulness has ended. The Great Dictators detach themselves from feelings and depersonalize all transactions. The personal problems of employees must be resolved through the rigid rules regarding their situation and strict translation of those rules by The Great Dictator. No quarter is given because no compassion or understanding is to be found. A worker who needs time off to take care of their terminally ill parent is reprimanded for taking one day off to do so. The worker believes this is unfair and does not fall in line with the values of the company and reports this to the level of management above The Great Dictator. The Great Dictator is notified that someone has reported the transgression. Although The Great Dictator does not know who it was, they suspect the employee who came to them with the problem in the first place and begin to watch over them like a hawk. Every simple deviation from corporate policy either real or imagined is dealt with in S.S. fashion. The employee is made an example of to keep others in fear, and fear becomes the tool to rule.
ANALYSIS- There is no level to which The Great Dictator will not stoop to maintain their needs. They are ruled by a severe narcissism, greed, or sociopathy. They have no regard for others, only themselves. They are ruthless, shrewd, and cruel in all their dealings. As with The Underboss, there is no reasoning with them. You are but a means to an end.
We must ask ourselves, how is it that such vile people get in positions of power and authority? The answer is simple. The system set in place to rule us professionally is unfair and unjust reaching to the highest levels of the economy. All efforts to work within current economic structures to maintain justice for workers have failed. We continue to promote the effortless rise of a criminal element into the corporate ruling class. Our efforts must not be to adapt to this system to change from within, but to abolish it completely, otherwise we will remain slaves to the slave masters.
Trinity Church Wall Street may be a nice place, but try waking up there. Not in the church, seems they have outside corporate interests that would prevent them from publicly helping anti corporate protesters. But the sidewalk outside, by the graveyard. Seems the proper place for a group that marches through Manhattan trying to make a better world. Thanks for thinking of that whole “casting out the money changers’ thing you bastards always preach. Hypocrite.
Not like the night before wasn’t a night of Chaos!!!!
But today is a new day. Wake up, drag our asses and our backpacks from Trinity Church to Foley Square. Due to the concept of occutime, we were not late. Occutime is however, a frustrating concept for those who are at least on time. Ten am event starts 1030. Event in question? Education and planning committees. Not my thing. AT ALL!
You guys have fun with that. I have other serious work to do. Article. Charging batteries for the livestream. Coffee. It’s been a rough night of sleeping on the streets on New York City, at a protest site with the damned Swine watching us and over us. Never a break from Badged Bacon.
Planning and education, for most of us who have been doing this for a year, is infuriating. We got this shit, and the plans never work out right. But, this is a new model of democracy. A new way of getting shit done.
Fuck that, the anarchists and the media don’t care. Oh wait, the Times and the like do, as they like to see us fail. Or at least report that we have. Until we fall apart. That’s why Occupy has a dedicated media team of people that follow and travel occupy for as much of a living as we can scrape by. Some maybe do better than others. But whatever, we are occupiers, and we take care of each other. That’s what we do. A horizontal movement where everyone head back to Lie has a job and something to say.
But fuck planning. From what I know from Mike Bloomberg’s thugs and swine, planning only can get you so far. Because those fuckers have it all figured out. At least according to them.
What do we know, so happy of what we want, we keep going,. The swine keep going on. Our Marches mean arrests. Our lives of freedom mean pain. This is not why we are here.
Tens or our brothers later, what the fuck is this. Another day where our voices mean nothing. Another day where the Swine kill us. Fuck the Swine. We March on. Fuck the swine. Fuck the swine.
ARIVE. There is nothing. What the fuck is this. The NYPD is just worse that a filth pen. We have rights.
There is no idea of realism. This is too surreal. Too weird.
The NYPD is nothing more than SWINE. Rights. These fucks don’t know rights, These sidewalks, crammed in to keep others safe, well fuck you. Know what an idea of safe is fuck you NYPD you can kiss our ass, you have no idea, just want to arrest us, you can only arrest an idea, and have nothing, another camera will kill your arrest, we are the the idea, so fuck you, NYPD, you are swine, so join us, join our cause, we are the ideal
You protect those that kill your pension, you understand, so join us NYPD, You are just swine!!! Lets celebrate! And
Fuck it, kill the beat.
It’s just a dance…
“A ANTI Capi Taa Lista A Anti Antica PITALISTA” And is Goes on and on and on… In The Streets On and on…. and on and on and…. on”
Then there was a dance, A Dance, Another Dance, a dance.
Are you Kidding…
Its my birthday
Go Fuck Yourself
New York Swine
Hi Its Our Birthday
Occupy Wall Street
What are these wall street white shirts doing following me like some kind of Terrorist
I’M A FUCKING JOURNALIST MAN!!! THE PROTESTORS ARE OVER THERE
Seriously, this prick has been giving me dirty looks for 10 fucking blocks
If you are going to arrest me, arrest me, but seriously, just doing my job, and I’m not interfering with yours.
Ugh, another blocked intersection. That was the point of the day, but hell, we wanted to do that. Chalk another victory handed to us by the Swine. This is way too easy. Thanks officer.
Back at Broadway. Back to Zuccotti. Interesting that every time we get back, we rally for another action, then we feel lost. Where is our original group? The cops are good at splitting us all up, but this is getting annoying. Sitting down finally, looking at this giant red cube and the “Tripod Fucking” attempt at art, I see some people I know from earlier in the day:
“What now? Where to from here, anyone know what’s going on?”
“I’m tired, hungry and thirsty, and protesting here is a mess. I miss DC” Said one of OccupyDC’s members.
Someone from NYC comes up to us “Big rally down bu the bull! Head down to Bowling Green!”
Looking down Broadway towards where the bull was, all I see are white shirts, protestors, and a lot of loud messages about sidewalks and streets. It just seems like confusion is the name of the game.
Roll another cigarette, chug the red bull, we head off to Bowling Green, hoping to not piss off anyone and enter the Swine’s injustice system.
Which was actually one of the easiest walks I’ve taken here so far.
“So we going to the bull or what? Gonna kick the bull in the nuts or what”, Thanks for the ideas Chino.
In front of the American Indian Museum there is a large rally. People from the Green Party, Reverend Billy and the Church of Stop Shopping, The Anarchist Alliance are all there giving speeches and pumping this crowd up.
“If you see a cop say ‘A COP!!!” screams a protestor, pointing at 2 no necked buzz cuts pushing obvious police issued bikes through the crowd. I actually thought that NYPD would have invested something in undercovers, but I was wrong. These are obviosly cops.
And a chorus of yelling and finger pointing ensues… these two undercovers disappear through the crowd and out the other side, knowing that we are a little smarter than they think.
Over to Bowling Green Park, where the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island are visible from the coast. Instead of the midday planning meetings, and a desire to get a way for a second, I leave that boredom to those who believe planning these things in detail works (were any of you here this morning? Plans + NYPD= CHAOS!!!) I walk to the coastline there and have a little prayer to Miss Liberty;
“We are working on it still hun. Right over here in the park we are still fighting, and will will always be fighting. We love you, and bless us if you can. We need all the help we can get not just for today, but all week, and all throughout this next year.”
I’d like to think she smiled, as the tourists, bewildered and sometimes angered by the motley group at the entrance to the park yelling and who knows what else, gave me evil looks or just rolled their eyes. Kinda wondering when something bad will happen to them, or something will happen to open their eyes to why we are here. Life is perfect for you now, but you might want to get some practice sleeping on the streets. Your day will come too.
Back to the park, and we are off to the march. March to where? Missed it, and ya gotta love those impromptu autonomous marches that just up and leave. I head back to Zuccotti,, meet some friends, and right now, we can think of only one thing. Nerves are shot. Sick of the leering glances by horny to arrest swine. This is just getting ugly. It’s not supposed to be us versus the cops. It’s supposed to be us versus Wall Street. It’s not Occupy the Jails. It’s Occupy Wall Street.
I’m going to occupy the bar. Food is needed. Beer is needed. A time to sit, reflect and rest. Just an hour away from the madness.
A time to sit and think, about what this is we are doing. Should we keep up these marches? Is it doing any good? It is our one year birthday party, and the only thing that has changed is that we don’t have tents? No we are only a year old. This still isn’t going to be as fast as getting a big mac. This will take longer than a year. We know what’s coming. We know how this works. They have stopped laughing at as. Some even know the joke is on them. We know we have nothing to lose. Right now the only way we are winning is we can still breathe, and we can still sleep. We will always dream. We will always be there. We just want justice and truth. We need a bigger sign.
Capitalism uses investment as a the crux of the claim of property or ownership of a collective. Collectives are a reality. The company you work for is a collective. To be liberated we must end the claim of property over the productive association of the workers. Workers must stand up and claim the product of their labor which is stolen by the capitalist.
Those who oppose this often respond by pointing to the investment made to claim dominion over the workers. This assumes we are still functioning in a system of capitalism where the investment is made by an individual and this gives them dominion over the worker. The worker submits to the dominion of the capitalist out of necessity because of scarcity that capitalism creates. Surplus is simply what the capitalist calls the stolen product of the workers labor. This is the right of increase Proudhon spoke of.
By eliminating the right of increase workers owning the means of association organized and distributed necessities and products through a federation instead of through a market monetary system we find that resources can be obtained through the federation of freely associated workers. Federations of mutually beneficial exchanges and access to services will be able to provide to enable the worker to begin a new venture in production or service.
Through the federation the people will have direct power over their economies and needs. Without a diversity of federations we shall have tyranny of democracy. Free association of a diversity of federations is a necessity.
Those who oppose this and claim investment as the crux of ownership of property ignore the reality that it takes privilege of wealth to produce. It maintains the current rule and maintains a class divide. To produce you must already have a claim to the ownership of the means of production, in a capitalist society this is money or wealth. Wealth is found through dominion over the labor of others. Wealth had been maintained by the exploitation of workers, slaves, genders, races and other class divides. This claim to property is enforced through the state or in some cases wage labor and privatized versions of the state. This power is maintained by ones claim to resources and the power this gives them over others. To have access to basic necessities one must submit to the proprietor to have access to the resources the proprietor claims dominion over.
Investment by a proprietor as a basis for production must be abolished. Resources must be liberated from the capitalist rulers and delivered to the people so that we can be liberated.
Some of you may know that there is an atheist concept known as ‘Last Thursdayism’ - an idea intended to mock and satirise creationists who claim that the world was created 6,000 years ago with the appearance of it being billions of years old. According to this logic, the idea goes, you could just as well claim that the world was actually created ‘Last Thursday’ rather than 6,000 years ago based on the same reasoning.
Of course, it’s an amusing satire of the idiocy of creationism, but it got me thinking, particularly in conjunction with a quote by Murray Bookchin in his legendary essay, ‘Listen, Marxist!’:
When the hell are we finally going to create a movement that looks to the future instead of to the past?
Bookchin was mostly attacking Marxists, as well as some anarchists, who constantly look back to previous revolutions as guides to how revolutions ‘should’ proceed. However, I believe his words have a more important message than that; let’s build a society where we live in the present and in the future, not to the past. This is where ‘Last Thursdayism’ comes in – if your entire system of social relations is dependent on things that were started and finished longer ago than Last Thursday then you’re doing it wrong. If we want a free society, our reasons for relations must be in the moment.
To pick an easy first target that also makes the concept simpler to explain, the propertarian concept of ‘homesteading’. Under the logic of this theory, being as authoritarian as you like on your own property, even to the extent of acting exactly like a state is totally OK, as long as you ‘homesteaded’ it. The state doing the same thing on it’s territory isn’t OK because it didn’t. This fails the ‘Last Thursday’ test pretty conclusively. If the entire world was actually created Last Thursday with the appearance of being older, then no-one has ‘homesteaded’ anything. Yet we’re in the exact same situation.
But I’m not just bashing the propertarians here, this goes for everyone. Specifically, it goes for the many anarchists who unfortunately have picked up the propertarians’ bad habits. While the propertarians claim that human relations regarding objects is a black and white issue (i.e. something must be ‘private property’ with the proprietor holding the right of absolute and exclusive control over it, or ‘unowned’ in which no-one has any right of control over it), many anarchists now play the ‘possession’ card against them. This basically claims that ownership relations can be either of the two already mentioned, but also a third category, known as possession, which basically just means private property but without the economic exploitation of surplus value, interest, rent, etc. But this is still too rigid and restrictive. It’s replacing black and white with black, white and one shade of grey in between. There have always been shades of grey throughout history, such as the ‘Right to Roam’, which existed as convention long before it was enshrined in state law. What a truly free society must be able to have are infinite shades of grey. Rights regarding things must be flexible, always with the potential for exceptions due to need.
But let’s link this back to Last Thursdayism. You might have thought while reading this that capitalism actually corresponds fairly well to the idea, as wage labourers are by definition the people who don’t accumulate capital, and so do indeed live with regard to the present. But no. Even if we ignore the importance of debt to keeping people as de facto serfs through wage labour, the reason workers are in the situation they are in is capital accumulation. Capitalists, while always seeking to accumulate more and so looking to the future, must always look back when they get to that future, in order to justify their position. So if we live true to the ‘Last Thursday’ test then accumulation must go out the window too. And to the mutualists: if we’re going to get rid of capital accumulation and non-labour income, why on earth would we want to keep the market system that enables it? If ownership is to be based on use, how can one ‘buy’ anything, given neither the seller nor buyer can be the exclusive and absolute owner at any time?
A society based on Last Thursdayist principles means a society where people live in the present, not in the past. If something can be put to use then put it to use now. We live in a world where we have millions of unemployed people (not to mention those employed in useless bureaucracy) and millions of uninhabited houses. Where overproducing companies are actually incentivised by the market to destroy surplus goods rather than give them away. Where the state routinely spends up to 5% of GDP on weapons, something with the sole purpose of destruction. And yet people still talk about ‘scarcity’?! When all productive facilities are utilised, when everything that can be used to satisfy wants is put to that use, then we’ll find out about scarcity.
Now, some of you might be a bit disappointed reading this, as what I’m advocating here just seems to be communism, a gift economy. And yes, you’d be right, that is what I’m talking about. But why do we want communism? Is it because we think it is more ‘efficient’? Possibly, though probably not, as communistic societies do not have the drive for constant unending growth that capitalistic ones have. Is it because we value community? Possibly, but there are those that want to keep themselves to themselves, and communism must accomodate them as well. Is it because we think it to be the ‘freest’ form of society? Yes, but what does that mean? Freedom means your freedom to your everyday life. To be able to live for then, no need to justify your freedom now based on the past. So what better an idea than to base it around the idea that, for all we know, there may be no past, and so we should live as such?
Someone wondered the other day why I would ever want to identify as an individualist. Unfortunately, “individualism” is a term that today is very misunderstood and sometimes maligned. So what does it mean to me to be an individualist anarchist?
It means that:
Like Benjamin Tucker, I advocate artisanal socialism. I believe in the law of equal liberty, that “interest is theft, rent robbery, and profit only another name for plunder.”
Like Federica Montseny, I advocate the liberation of women in a world dominated by men, and believe that the “emancipation of women would lead to a quicker realization of the social revolution.”
Like Emile Armand, I stand for the right of those whose sexuality and gender identification is outside the established norm to pursue love and happiness in their own way free from the oppression of the state and society.
Like Joseph Labadie, I stand for Labor against capitalist domination and advocate social change through trade and industrial unionism.
Like Enrico Arrigoni, I think there’s a time when you try to pop Fidel Castro, just because he fucked with your friends. There’s a time to say, ‘fuck it, I’m a keep throwin’ rocks!’ And there’s a time when you stroll in like ya own the place, even though you don’t have your “papers”, because you can.
Like Max Stirner, I believe that people only have as much liberty as they are willing to take.
Like Han Ryner, I am an anti-racist, believing that race is “a dangerous idol”, “…especially when it is allied to religion”.
Like Maria Lacerda De Moura, I am an anti-militarist.
My main reason for rejecting state socialism is, as Miguel Giménez Igualada said, “[t]hat which we call capitalism is not something else but a product of the State, within which the only thing that is being pushed forward is profit, good or badly acquired. And so to fight against capitalism is a pointless task, since be it State Capitalism or Enterprise capitalism, as long as Government exists, exploiting capital will exist. The fight, but of consciousness, is against the State.”
Echoing Adeline Champney, I ask, “For who is society but myself and yourself and all selves? And what is human joy but my joy and your joy and the joy of each? And every joy of mine and every joy of yours and every joy that you or I can bring to any, all are so much added joy in the world. For how shall humanity rejoice while you and I are sad? ”
Like Rachel Campbell, I don’t believe in state marriage.
Like Voltairine De Cleyre, “Sometimes I dream of this social change. I get a streak of faith in Evolution, and the good in man. I paint a gradual slipping out of the now, to that beautiful then, where there are neither kings, presidents, landlords, national bankers, stockbrokers, railroad magnates, patent right monopolists, or tax and title collectors; …”
Like Luigi Galleani, I see communism as the final fulfillment of individualism.
And like the countless individualists of yesterday and today, who are out there practicing individual reclamation, smoking pot, breaking “dress codes”, black-blocking, dodging the draft, squatting, hoboing, going topless at the beach as a post-op transwoman, and otherwise thumbing their nose at “The Man”, I know that individual acts of disobedience create political instability, which in turn creates pressure for social change.
That’s what it means to be an individualist.
Don’t hate, appreciate.
I am going to point to a problem with capitalism and the Non Aggression Principle(NAP). I am going to point to a simple situation that comes from this. The NAP is an idea many libertarians and anarchists build their philosophy upon. It is an idea stemming from Ayn Rand who was a capitalist and abhorred anarchism. It was taken to another level by Murray Rothbard who painted a picture of stateless capitalism. The NAP states that it is wrong to initiate force upon a person or their property. In this property is perceived as an extension of the person. Property is often perceived as a synonym for liberty. Yes, property can be liberty but liberty is not property. Companies are also considered property based on investment, so the capitalist concept of property is ownership of the collective.
The non-initiation of force is something I support. The concept I do not support is that it is justifiable to defend property as dominion with violence.
The situation that divides
The Business owner sit in his office watching the workers down on the manufacturing floor. The boss makes one dollar a day for every worker producing on the floor. Each worker makes one dollar a day also. There are one hundred workers. This means the boss makes 100 dollars a day or five hundred in a work week while the workers make one dollar a day or five dollars in a week. The workers decide they want to keep all the profit they make. The workers claim control of the means of production so they can keep their two dollars a day.
The dividing line is this. The definition of property by the capitalist and the definition of initiation of force the very act of claiming the product of their labor is considered the initiation of force. The capitalist is now justified in the use of force to maintain dominion and control of the working collective he maintains power over. This is property as theft. This is why a state exists, to insure the capitalist maintains property of this sort. This is property as theft, property as dominion and property from a state or a private institution that can take the place of the state.
I am more inclined to support the worker ownership of the means of production, because the workers can claim the full product of their labor. With an authority over a collective we see rulers claiming the product of the workers labor. The capitalist needs the state so that he can continue to claim the product of the workers labor.
Lately I have been reading more Kropotkin and Bookchin. Both of them have elements of post-scarcity found in their visions for anarchism. I have always perceived this as a utopian ideal that I liked. Post-Scarcity: is a hypothetical form of economy or society in which goods, services and information are free, or practically free. This would require an abundance of fundamental resources (matter, energy and intelligence) – Wikipedia. In looking at the concept I have been trying to understand it on a level I find real and practical. I have been trying to see how this non-market system would work, how it is implemented in a real world situation. I am, not rejecting it, I am not claiming it is possible, I am simply trying to gain an understanding of it and see how it might be possible.
Saturday was hot. I don’t have central air and it has been getting into the hundreds around here. My spouse and I decided to get out of the ghetto and go somewhere there is air conditioning so we drove out of the city to the exurbs to walk around the mall. I have not been to a mall in years. As we walked around this vast structure of non-essential commerce we grew jaded. Store after store of the same crap. I could not believe how much stuff there was. There was stuff made for the sole purpose of selling stuff. Most of it served to fill no real need whatsoever. This massive monstrosity of mindless shopping and endless commerce just got under my skin. Nobody actually needs a misogynist t-shirt that says ‘I have the dick so I make the rules’. Everything being bought and sold was surplus. It was all non-essential goods being marketed to create a need within the mind of the consumer. As much as I love books and I love to read I walked in to the book store and saw the very same thing. It was discouraging.
As I looked around I began to see something I have not seen before. I began to see potential in all of this. Lots of mass manufactured crap made in China and sweat shops by slave labor I saw as potential. It began to become painfully obvious to me that this much surplus production has potential to lead to a society of post-scarcity. The problem I started to see is a problem of property and ownership. It became more clear than ever just how capitalism as the ownership of the means of production was blocking access go goods while claiming the wealth and paying workers nothing to perpetuate this mindless consumption. Holy shit. I saw the potential of post-scarcity in the suburbs.
I saw that supply and demand was not actually working. It doesn’t work in the ghetto and it is obvious. Take housing. There is supply and demand but the supply is not getting to the demand. If it were there would not be people sleeping on streets while so many houses and buildings sat unoccupied. Go to this middle class neighborhood and the real illusion is present. Everything is okay, buy this popular item. Capitalism has become the opiate of the masses. Endless bikini women, rock stars and cell phones serve to distract as we piss away the product of our labor so that the capitalist can buy a second home in the Hamptons. The private security worked with the police to keep out the desperate and to keep the peaceful illusion that everything is fine so that you could go about your way consuming and throwing wealth to the capitalist.
The production that occurs is surplus. The labor is non-essential except for the fact that those who do labor do so out of desperation so that they can attempt to meet basic needs because the product of labor is owned by another. I began to see quickly that this amount of surplus production could easily be redirected if it were no longer hindered by the rule of the capitalist. I began to see exactly where we could begin to build a society of post-scarcity.
My neighborhood always has colorful people and just as colorful incidents. The cops like to swarm in here like we are some kind of war sieged country. I don’t smoke in the house so I head out to my front porch to smoke. I come outside and yell conversations across the street to my neighbor Frank while the neighborhood kids play basketball in my front yard. I stepped outside to smoke as I saw three cops running from their car back behind the houses. One had a shotgun with a little orange flag on it. The other two pistols drawn. Oh boy I thought. They are after someone again. I always get nervous around cops. I get even more nervous when they are running with guns drawn. I went right back inside to hide and listen for gun shots.
As time progressed more showed up. One was running behind the cops with guns drawn carrying a medical kit. All I could think was ‘well if you don’t shoot anyone you might not have as much need for your medical kit’. The drama unfolded mostly out of my sight. I had no idea what was going on until the neighbor started talking to me after it all cleared. I found out that they were here for a suicidal man who was cutting himself. The absurdity of pulling all these guns and a shot gun on a suicidal man struck me as being possibly one of the worst ways to deal with the situation. But! They are cops and they are trained that pulling a gun and using aggressive force is the way to deal with any situation.
Stressed, broke living in the ghetto. Yeah the guy is suicidal. While the bourgeois sit in their suburban paradise the workers commute from the ghetto to the wealthier neighborhoods. We clean their houses, do their lawns, serve and prepare their food and work on their houses. All the while seeing the same people who own our houses, have control of the banks and flow of money as we do what we can to get a few table scraps thrown our way. Submit and play the game! Akerika is a meritocrcy. If you are rich you are better and more deserving of wealth. They won’t acknowledge the priveledge wrapped up in this. The priveledge of race is ignored and even denied. The priveledge of investment and control of the flow of wealth is also denied. We just keep on denying priveledge while compounding the pressure on the have not’s to pay the rent.
The power of investment is the most wonderful priveledge of the bourgeois. Those who have can invest in property and ventures that can accumulate wealth. Those who have not are stuck spending every last dime trying to get caught up on basic needs. We throw our money at the bourgeois just to keep a car or keep a house or feed our bellies. The generations of priveledge are sheltered from this. They have needs met so any money that is accumulated can be put towards further luxuries. It can be placed towards investments to claim ownership and property placing them in power over the have-nots. The ghetto is full of people just trying to scrape enough money together just to have a roof over their heads and a decent dinner.
The one thing that I’m completely fed up with is the meritocracy mindset of the middle class in the United States. This complacancy out of comfort and priveledge not ever leading to questioning the disparity that exists. It leads to justifying the inequality. They praise the property owner and defend the capitalist who claims the labor of the worker. They stand strong for their rulers and human poverty is not something that we have to deal with on a daily basis. They jump in their SUV and drive from their work to their suburban home with their central air barely ever worrying about how the other half lives.
An exert from her essay Anarchism:
Property, the dominion of man’s needs, the denial of the right to satisfy his needs. Time was when property claimed a divine right, when it came to man with the same refrain, even as religion, “Sacrifice! Abnegate! Submit!” The spirit of Anarchism has lifted man from his prostrate position. He now stands erect, with his face toward the light. He has learned to see the insatiable, devouring, devastating nature of property, and he is preparing to strike the monster dead.
“Property is robbery,” said the great French Anarchist, Proudhon. Yes, but without risk and danger to the robber. Monopolizing the accumulated efforts of man, property has robbed him of his birthright, and has turned him loose a pauper and an outcast. Property has not even the time-worn excuse that man does not create enough to satisfy all needs. The A B C student of economics knows that the productivity of labor within the last few decades far exceeds normal demand a hundredfold. But what are normal demands to an abnormal institution? The only demand that property recognizes is its own gluttonous appetite for greater wealth, because wealth means power; the power to subdue, to crush, to exploit, the power to enslave, to outrage, to degrade. America is particularly boastful of her great power, her enormous national wealth. Poor America, of what avail is all her wealth, if the individuals comprising the nation are wretchedly poor? If they live in squalor, in filth, in crime, with hope and joy gone, a homeless, soilless army of human prey.
It is generally conceded that unless the returns of any business venture exceed the cost, bankruptcy is inevitable. But those engaged in the business of producing wealth have not yet learned even this simple lesson. Every year the cost of production in human life is growing larger (50,000 killed, 100,000 wounded in America last year); the returns to the masses, who help to create wealth, are ever getting smaller. Yet America continues to be blind to the inevitable bankruptcy of our business of production. Nor is this the only crime of the latter. Still more fatal is the crime of turning the producer into a mere particle of a machine, with less will and decision than his master of steel and iron. Man is being robbed not merely of the products of his labor, but of the power of free initiative, of originality, and the interest in, or desire for, the things he is making.
Real wealth consists in things of utility and beauty, in things that help to create strong, beautiful bodies and surroundings inspiring to live in. But if man is doomed to wind cotton around a spool, or dig coal, or build roads for thirty years of his life, there can be no talk of wealth. What he gives to the world is only gray and hideous things, reflecting a dull and hideous existence,–too weak to live, too cowardly to die. Strange to say, there are people who extol this deadening method of centralized production as the proudest achievement of our age. They fail utterly to realize that if we are to continue in machine subserviency, our slavery is more complete than was our bondage to the King. They do not want to know that centralization is not only the death-knell of liberty, but also of health and beauty, of art and science, all these being impossible in a clock-like, mechanical atmosphere.
copyright Tim Anderson 2012
A novel based in True Events, Covered in a Glaze of Fiction to Save the Guilty. There are no Innocents.
Part one. The setup.
How the fuck to I get myself into this mess time after time?
Boredom on an behemoth level. An intense feeling that everything is going slowly down the drain, there are only a few days left at a time, and each week alive is another victory over a voice inside my own head I am unable to control.
Lets call it “Bob”. Just to give this little demon a name. Doesn’t like this farce of a society. Not that I do for that matter. Seems so futile, bland. Devoid of color and noise. The noises this planet does make seem to be dissonant and chaotic. Nothing really that peaceful. War, gunfire, and horrible breaking news segments that hurt the eyes, the ears, the soul.
“So let us have ourselves a little FUN!!!!”
“Okay Bob, what you got in mind”
“Colorado Springs huh. Get in the car. DRIVE”
It feels like there’s a gun to my head, not just in my head. But off I go, laws, cultural codes, control constructs be damned. Filling a pipe with some bud, driving west, to see an old friend. Still have a job lined up, and this will be cake. The car itself, small, loaded with my entire life, drug paraphernalia, clothes and computers, across 3 states, towards the belly of Colorado Springs.
Sixteen hours later, I get to the soon to be dreaded Acacia Park. Only about the size of a block, and central to Colorado Springs, I’m about to find out what I’m in for. As I’d soon find out, a lot more than I bargained for.
“Hello Tanderson welcome to Colorado Springs, party favors abounds”
“Hello, I am Maggot, eat this”
And there is the beginning. A little lavender bit of paper, ingested, which amazingly set the tone of the next crazy month. However, it did take the edge of, and in a few hours, put a new edge on. Just what I needed. While I watched the trees of the park melt away, and the setting sun drip down towards the horizon, some words were spoken to me that I couldn’t at the time comprehend, or even hear. I just saw the lips move and the colors drip out. Odd that they were greys blacks and dark blues, but I took no notice.
Getting in the car, finding out where I was to call home was another experience all together. Glad i’m wearing this new lavender mental suit though. Make all this easier to swallow when I come to in the morning. Although it does seem at times, during this hellish trip, I may never fully come to.
A tiny 2 bedroom apartment. Nine to eleven people at all times, some of whom never seem to sleep. What is this then? What’s going on here? What the fuck just moved over there?
A cat. What the hell do you call it? Oh Schiz. That is lovely. Why is everyone wearing black? Yes I would love a hit on this bong. Hold on, gotta pee…
What is this strange place? I know, it’s an apartment, but it seems like something else is going on here. There is something called a Juggalo in the back room. He seems, ok at times, but mostly angry. Ah the bathroom. Good. What the hell is going on here. Constant shadows, I don’t know if that the drug, or are there more people here that I think. Trying to get it all together, trying to see when it will make sense. Then I finally notice the floor. Many things can be figured out by looking at the floor. Broken glass, empty bottles of all descriptions, and something intriguing going on with this carpet.
Count the colors.
FOUR? THIS CANNOT BE RIGHT. I’ll check that out in the morning. Something is wrong here. Something is very very wrong here. Who just puts down more and more carpet in an apartment? Is it the maintenance people? Is it these tennents? How long has this place been going on.
I need to get some sleep. Great. The Juggalo’s room. He’s yelling and screaming about something. I don’t care about what it is. I’m just tired. Been driving all day to get to this place. It’s 4am. I think this is starting to wear off. Good night or good morning, whatever. I gotta call the job.
Well, it was a good 4 hours of sleep. Because this house is buzzing, or at least the tv is. Some insipid talking heads. Whatever. I get up from this matress, find the bathroom again, and count the carpet. I hope I just imagined that from last night. GODDAMN IT! This is not a drill. Something odd is going on.
“hey Linda, just what the hell is with this 4 layers of carpet? What the hell is going on here? What kind of place have you brought me to?
“It is going to be ok. Calm down dude!! Here, let’s go get some coffee in you, coffee is good for you”
Once outside and away from this burrow of nightmares, I’m told what’s been going on. It’s basically a squat. Rent hasn’t been paid in who knows how long, it’s easier to just put down more carpet than cleaning us the stains, and no one has a job. Eviction notices are burned and laughed at, and the cops come around regularly. Hearing this, I wonder what other bad news is in store. Once inside I call the job.
“Hi, this is Tim. I’m a transfer from the store in Oklahoma City?”
“Hi Tim, we were wondering about you. We’ve actually got you scheduled for morning shifts, iis that ok? You were supposed to work this morning but we figured that you got here pretty late last night.”
“What!!!! I thought my transfer stated I was a night closer” I don’t do mornings very well!!! But ok, what time do I work in the morning”
“We will see you at 5:45am. I’m sorry for the misunderstanding”
You’ve got to be kidding me. Bad omens since I got here. Nothing but disappointment. First I live with 11 people in a tiny apartment, with no working coffee maker, a kitchen littered with the remnants of seemingly thousands of parties, or one continuous binge. The stench of a cat who shits in an uncleaned out cardboard box, what I think is some kind of lizard hiding in a cage, and nothing more than a matress on the floor to sleep on.
“Something tells me I need a drink!”
“Store’s not open yet man, but here smoke this”
At this point and time, I could care less. A couple more tokes, and I’m a little more level headed. But what the hell have I gotten myself into. Well, let’s see what this town has to offer. Start unpacking a little from the car, it’s overloaded anyway, save some gas. Bring a little bit up, find a little space between the back of the couch and the screen door, set up camp more or less. This will be ok. This will be fine. Just keep telling yourself that.
“Tim we have everbeer!”
Do I even want to know what that is.
“Here’s a 40oz, clear the top. Damn what’s wrong I didn’t mean that quick! We’ve got a live one here”
Various cheers from the spaced out peanut gallery.
“Now here, lemme see that, the ever part of the everbeer”
The motherfucker is filling it back up with everclear? One hundred ninety proof alcohol?
“That sir, is everbeer. When you are broke, that is what you drink. Tastes like beer, just a bitchload of extra kick.”
Ok, this isn’t that bad, and he’s got a point. I am broke. No food, not much cash, and I’ve gotta eat something. Killing a black cat is bad luck. Well, I guess I can live on beer for today.
“Dude don’t get too comfortable, it’s Sunday! That’s underground night!”
The Underground I soon find out, is a weekly goth club. Ah yes, pretentious little fucking goths. That explains the black clothing. I will not fit in for long here. Gotta do this the only way I know how. Finding the brightest colors I can, and figuring that these people are the joke they are stigmatized with, let’s head back down to Acacia and see what this is about.
It’s a shithole, but it’s these people’s shithole. Stereotypical in all senses of the word goth. Skinny little strung out people everywhere swaying back and forth to crappy tinny music, or some kind of generic industrial. OK, I can deal with this. Even though I look about as out of place as a minority at a Klan rally. But no one gives me shit, and actually some respect the hippie in the goth club. No worries. Handed a drink, and walk around looking at all these people. Interesting is not the word.
Then I see what no one could have ever prepared me for. Two dudes at a half destroyed booth. I think it was two dudes, although at this fucking place, you never know. Bleeding from the wrists. I try and getting a better look, secretly walking by this table, as if i’m going somewhere else. Yes, that’s blood. I’m not afraid of blood. But when I see these two start drinking each others blood, wrist to mouth, I head straight to my friend.
“Linda! What is going on here!”
“What is wrong with these people, and where have you taken me?”
“It’s ok Tim, they just think they are vampires. There’s a lot of them here. You do know the Church of Satan is about 5 miles away right?”
No, I did not know that. But the crazy carnival that is Anton LeVey’s Church of Satan does not excuse this. This is just straight out of crazy stupid. This is a mess. No amount of drugs, delusions, alcohol excuses drinking blood. I mean the disease factor alone makes this just plain wrong. I was not prepared for this. Yes, as a lover of all things decadent, of depraved acts, this sort of mess was just something of fiction. I turned my head back to these monsters, thinking nothing had prepared be for this.
“Linda, I have to be up at a stupid hour, I need to get some sleep. I’ll see ya tomorrow afternoon.”
Leaving, somehow remembering where my car is, I eventually find my way home. Or at least to my camp. I’m not sure how much of a home it is, given that eviction day could be any day. With no lock on the door, I find my little matress, and fall asleep, setting an alarm clock so I can wake up at this ungodly hour.
Work, which after the last 48 hours should have been a sanctuary of normalcy. Had I taken the omens of the last 48 hours, I would have learned that nothing in this town is normal. At least I could leave early. Slow day, slow mind, and burning anger. I didn’t want to go back to the stoner den, but hell, I didn’t want to be here either.
Starving, and there is only one place someone starving and poor can get fed. 7-11, you are a godsend. Coffee, donut, and the quiet sanctuary of my car. Wondering what I’ve got myself into, taking a deep breath, back to this hellhole I call “home”. Something better have changed. Although from the noise last night, I doubt it.
“Roaches I’m Home”
That’s one hell a way to announce a mood.
“Sorry, this place is too nasty for roaches. But I guess we do need to clean up a bit”
A bit? Clean up a BIT? Granted I am in no way going to win trophies for cleanliness, I am far from this goddamned messy. True, roaches would not live in this purposely forsaken mess. But hell, lets at least clean it up to the point a roach would maybe consider making this it’s humble home?
The kitchen. I assume there is a sink in here somewhere. Is that the faucet. Holding my breath, and moving some of these dishes around, I locate a faucet. And soap. In an apartment with this many people, this many drugs and four fucking layers of carpet, this is an accomplishment. A faucet, that works, with hot water, and soap. Scared, but in need of a sponge or rag, I tempt fate and look under the sink, expecting something to jump out at me.
Nothing does, but at least there is a sponge. At this point, I have never been so happy to clean something. Finally, after all these dishes are done, I call bullshit on the coffee maker. As a caffeine junky, fixing coffee makers is tantamount. It does work, just needed to be cleaned. After the ordeal of the kitchen and getting who knows how many months of trash out, there is no surprise in this place. Coffee brewing, I can finally sit down and relax.
In doing so, I have actually become somewhat the bitch. None of the 11 people in this hovel feel they have to do anything. Eventually, the only thing kept clean, is the coffee pot. Why bother with anything else. There is never any food, we live on drugs. This went on for weeks until one morning.
April 20th is supposed to be a stoner’s holiday. I had the day off, some unknown slut next to me, and just woke up from losing my virginity. I felt pretty good about life, I guess sex has that power. I had a plan to get out of this apartment, a pretty good job waiting tables at a good restaurant instead of some corporate chain. Life was going to be ok. The eviction was coming. But also something worse. The same insipid talking heads morning show, only their voice was a little more odd. They sounded very very intense. Very intense. Reaching for the MD20/20, pushing the slut off, I poked my head up over the couch.
“What’s the hell is going on?”
“Shut up this is important”
Oh god. What I saw would impact every single person in this room.
“Yes, I am live in Littleton Colorado, where it appears the 2 students have opened fire inside and have taken a classroom hostage”
Yes, I can confirm that these students have opened fire, killing students and teachers, and have now help a classroom hostage. The room is barricaded shut. The students names are Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, And we are at the Columbine High School”
I couldn’t listen to it anymore. Except one thing did perk my ears just a little bit.
“It appears these students have a connection to what is dubbed the “Trenchcoat Mafia.”
Trenchcoat Mafia. What the hell? What is that supposed to mean? As those two words were said, I saw a few jaws drop, and a few people move slightly. As if there were immediately uncomfortable. Maggot left the room. Huh. This isn’t going to end well. The phone rang.
“Hello, yes I understand.”
“Everyone we have to go to the hospital. Raven is in intensive care”
Ok, nothing to worry about. In a place with this manny drug users, of course someone is going to the hospital. There’s a few wild cards about this though. Some drugs were sold. I knew them to be bad, almost experimental drugs. Begin slow stage freak out.
“It appears she took something that was supposed to be ecstacy. Fortunately, she had a little of it left, some kind of white powder. Anyone know what that was? Anyone know what Maggot was selling?”
“I think it was called DXM, pure dextromethorphan or something why?” I offered, somewhat knowing what was next.
“It almost killed her, and there are a few other people in the hospital. Everyone outside”
Outside, after a brief conversation, these drugs and these poor sould were victims of what Maggot was selling. Being that Maggot was Linda’s boyfriend, it was explained to me that I had to leave Colorado Springs in 48 hours. Otherwise wait for the eventual death sentence. Knowing full well what kind of blood drinking freaks these people were capable of calling in, I started packing my stuff up, lading the car and waiting.
“Tim, we know this wasn’t your fault. You had the foresight to warn people, you are not in trouble here. However, we can only protect you for so long. Linda left this number for you to call, so please, call her, you are going to Columbia Missouri. She said just get on I70, and head east. Ya can’t miss it. Get some rest, and get out of here asap. Here is something for the road. Good Luck”
At least I had some pot for the road. Driving across Kansas is the worst thing imaginable. And Linda has some fucking explaining to do once I get to where ever this place is. Missouri? Are you kidding me? What the hell. What the hell.
I left as soon as I could. Fuck sleep. If people are out to kill me, then fuck it. I need to get out now. I’ll call Linda from some payphone, just got to get out of here. But not across Kansas! Cornfield after cornfield, the plains of wheat, and billboards of God this and God that. And after what happened in the space of this month, driving through a state of Bible thumpers did not sound like my idea of a good time.
Fortunately, Kansas was uneventful. Stop for gas, keep mouth shut, get coffee, food I could eat with one hand, and keep moving.
Got a hold of Linda just outside this town called Columbia. Seemed like another boring city surrounded by highways, like an afterthought of some developers. Whatever. At least no one will try to kill me here. I hope.
“Is this Tim? Hold on.”
Well, there’s an adult of some kind here. That’s good. At least there might be some sanity. Maybe.
“Hello this is Linda, ok, we are kind of on the outskirts of town, yes, Maggot is here, everything is going to be ok. This you could get that old corporate job back?”
“Yea ok, I’ll be there when I figure out how.”
Another 10 miles till I get to a bed. This had better be good.
“Not now Bob. We can’t go crazy here”
“You’re in fucking Missouri for fuck’s sake?”
“Give it a rest Bob… Here eat this”
Assuming the best thing at this moment is another bowl of herbal goodness, putting the demon to rest, coffee, and back on the road. Twisting roads through the wilderness, but no more godawful snowcapped mountains to deal with. No more fucking goths, hiding in corners, drinking each others blood. Fingers crossed.
By the time I get in, everyone is asleep and Linda is out front.
“Shhhh… turn the car off. Everyone is asleep. Just grab what you need, and get some rest, you have to be tired.”
A few steps in the doorway, I am shown a room with a bed. My own room as it were. I crash out, and get some sleep. Tomorrow, something has got to give. Or do I keep traveling like this, one tragedy after another.
Feedback appreciated to email@example.com This is a life’s work, and a true story. Will be a novel, a true story. 12 years in the making.
I want to take a moment to sum up some of my thoughts regarding Marxism that has occurred to me during my occupation of the Marxist Academy. This is only a rough outline of those ideas and I welcome comments on them from readers of this blog.
Utter the words police and excessive use of force in the same context, and most people will instantly think of the US. Then in the same breath of air, mention journalists and censorship, and most might instead refocus to China. That is what I’ve experienced; reading comments on news sites, following discussions on forums and on Twitter and when talking with people regarding such topics.
Excessive use of force by police is often attributed to the US while silencing the media is attributed to China. It’s a stereotype, an unfortunate one.
Wednesday last week, 16 May, changed that perception regarding such presumptions about the US and China. The use of excessive force and silencing the media can happen anywhere.
A group of Indigenous Australians had set up a Tent Embassy in Musgrave Park to protest the lack of rights they have in their own country – which were taken away from them in 1778 by the British.
The day before, Tuesday 15 May, they had been served with a final notice by Brisbane City Council to move-on and disassemble their Tent Embassy. This refusal was met with a warning that on Wednesday 16 May the Tent Embassy would be removed and disassembled by Queensland Police Service.
6 am on Wednesday 16 may it had been announced the police would move-in on the Tent Embassy.
At around 6 am about 200 police officers surrounded the Tent Embassy in Musgrave Park with 50-60 protesters and few journalists that had managed to enter before the police started their blockade.
Musgrave Park, which the Tent Embassy was located in, and its surrounding streets were closed and blocked for all access. You could leave, but police would not allow entry or re-entry to the Tent Embassy. Telling journalists, that if they would try to enter or didn’t comply with police orders, they would be subject to arrest.
After a two-hour long negotiation between the Tent Embassy and police, the police decided to evict people from the Tent Embassy and disassemble it. During negotiations the police offered less and less to the point the Tent Embassy felt they weren’t given any choice than to stand their ground.
The police moved-in en masse on the Tent Embassy, first targeting the media; telling journalists that if they did not move-on they would be arrested. When most of the media had been cleared out and stood far away the eviction started.
Wednesday 16 May was a day Australians were reminded that the government still doesn’t really care about the rights of the Indigenous Australians. It is also a day that should not only remind Australians, but also the world, censorship and threats directed at the media can and will happen anywhere – even in western democratic countries.
That day, silencing a minority and the media, happened in Australia.
Capital’s power appears to be stable and solid. … the balance of forces appears to be weighted against the workers… and yet precisely at the points where capital’s power appears most dominant, we see how deeply it is penetrated by this menace, this threat of the working class.
Can I say Tronti cannot just be dismissed. His argument is very complex and rich; his argument in “Struggle Against Labor” is so absolutely precise and full it demands a reading. And, I think, Postone’s critique of Hardt points to a potential for synthesis of a reconstructed Marx’s value theory with autonomism or workerism. I want to explore that potential briefly by looking at Tronti’s argument in his piece, which, according to the poster at Libcom.org, is “One of the existing English language excerpts from Tronti’s influential book Operai e capitale”
Tronti begins by asserting
“No worker today is disposed to recognize the existence of labor outside capital.”
By labor, Tronti means the worker’s own activity. Thus no worker considers her own productive activity as anything but activity of capital. Tronti argues this is the logical precondition of the capitalist mode of production; it is a point of no return for human activity. This lack of recognition of its own activity as its own is, in Tronti’s argument, an expression of working class passivity, which, Tronti argues, is a spontaneous act of refusal by the working class from the logic of capitalist relations of production:
this passivity is recognized as an elementary, spontaneous form of refusal by the working class. For mass passivity always follows after the political defeat of the class, caused by its official organizations; alternatively, it follows a leap forward in capitalist development, in the appropriation by capital of socially productive forces. We all know that these two objective preconditions of working-class passivity have been combined in the past few decades.
In its spontaneous passive attitude toward its own activity, there is no pride in labor among the working class and no illusions regarding the dignity of labor and the laborer. Paradoxically, this passivity forms the core proposition of antagonism to the capitalist mode of production itself: To understand capital, the working class need only grasp the intolerable character of its own activity; to overthrow capital, it only need overthrow its own activity. Tronti argues in its struggles the working class does not merely confronts capital, it confronts its own labor as capital, as the enemy.
This very view is echoed in Postone’s argument in Time, Labor and Social Domination, that Marx did not critique capital from the standpoint of labor, but capitalist labor itself. Tronti’s assertion that the working class is hostile toward its own activity, lends credence to Postone’s definition of Marx’s theory. This parallel becomes even more clear when the argument of the two are laid side by side with regards to traditional views of Marxists. Says Tronti:
“The “pride of the producer” they leave entirely to the boss. Indeed, only the boss now remains to declaim eulogies in praise of labor. True, in the organized working-class movement this traditional chord is, unfortunately, still to be heard – but not in the working class itself; here there is no longer any room for ideology.”
“The [...] transhistorical understanding of labor, presupposes that a structural tension exists between the aspects of social life that characterize capitalism [...] and the social sphere constituted by labor. Labor, therefore, forms the basis of the critique of capitalism, the standpoint from which that critique is undertaken.”
In contrast to the traditional presentation of the relation between labor and capital, in both Tronti’s and Postone’s argument there is no pride in labor in the daily life of the working class; nor a critique of capital from the standpoint of labor in Marx’s theory. In Postone’s interpretation of Marx and in Tronti’s interpretation of the worker’s empirical life labor is capitalist labor and nothing else. The object of the worker’s practical activity and Marx’s theory is to critique, not capital on behalf of labor, but this capitalist labor. How these two interesting insights into Marx’s theory and the practical activity of the working class have remained apart is a big question.
I would contend they have been held apart by a critique of Marxism itself that has not yet been completely realized.
The difference between a critique of capital from the standpoint of labor and a critique of capitalist labor itself is essentially political; which is to say, a critique of capital from the standpoint of labor is merely a political critique, while a critique of capitalist labor is inherently anti-political.
Tronti, even in this fine piece, still succumbs to the political view:
“[The working class] has to recognize itself as political power, deny itself as a productive force.”
This statement is really quite ambiguous. What does Tronti mean by the working class denying itself as a productive force? Moreover, what does it mean for the working class to recognize itself as a political power? Tronti makes the argument in this piece that “No worker today is disposed to recognize the existence of labor outside capital.” If this is true, he is essentially arguing the working class does not recognize its own activity as its own. Tronti seems to be making the argument, as I argued against Ollman, the working class is incapable of recognizing itself — even in the form of recognizing is activity as its own. Tronti uses the phrase “disposed to recognize” in this context, which might imply this is a choice by the worker not an inherent incapacity. In his argument the working class might choose to recognize itself as a political power, while not recognizing itself as a productive force.
The problem even here, however, is that if the working class can recognize itself as a political power why can it not simply take control of its own productive activity — that is, the total social capital of society? In this case, denying itself as a productive force would be nothing more than denying capital the employment of the total social capital of society as a mere means for producing surplus value. If this is an accurate restatement of Tronti’s argument, we are led back to the “traditional” Marxist interpretation of the task of the proletariat: to seize the state power and employ this power to free itself from capitalist relations of production. This is precisely the “critique of capital from the standpoint of labor” both Tronti and Postone criticize.
What makes me think this restatement of Tronti is flawed is that later in his argument Tronti asserts:
“The working class must cease to express the requirements of capital, even in the form of its own demands: It must force the bosses to put forward demands, so that the workers can actively, that is on an organized basis, reply ‘No!’”
“Demands” here can only be interpreted as “all demands”, both economic and political, which is to say the only demand is for the abolition of capital and the state. Once stripped of its ambiguity, Tronti’s argument is not for the working class to seize state power, but abolish it, i.e., the working class must recognize itself as the new society already present within the old one. The strategy of refusal is nothing else if not the refusal to recognize not only capital, but its political expression as well – the state. This idea is already expressed in both the Tea Party, with its refusal to recognize the alleged need for deficits during capitalist crises, and in the Occupy with its refusal to recognize the alleged need for austerity during capitalist crises. Taken together the refusal to recognize the requirements of fascist state policy is expressed as poles of political opinion within the class.
Tronti demands this division within the class be overcome in such a way that offers both capital and the state only a resounding “No”: “No” to deficit spending and “No” to austerity. Tronti’s strategy of refusal must result in the working class saying “NO!” to every alternative offered by the capitalist state and capital. It follows from this that all debates within the class over alternatives like austerity versus deficits are resolved in the answer “Neither! We will not accept your austerity and we will not accept your deficits. We will only accept the abolition of capitalist labor.”
And this is where Postone’s critique of the autonomist argument made by Hardt scores a direct hit on the target: It is not until value is reconstituted solely as a function of capitalist relations of production and no longer materially necessary that the possibility emerges for the abolition of capitalist labor itself. This is the great contribution of Postone: he offers a theoretical argument that makes Tronti’s strategy of refusal realizable.
In turn, Tronti gives Postone the revolutionary subject he lacks in his own argument: the worker, but not as a “worker”; rather this worker is already disposed to identify her labor with capital. To throw off capital, she need only throw off her own labor and appear in history as herself, a social individual. This throwing off of her own labor is not possible until her labor appears on the historical stage as an anachronism; until, as Postone argues,
“The system of wages, considered from the standpoint of material wealth [...] only appears to be remuneration for labor time expenditure.”
This is possible only when labor itself is no longer necessary, and not a moment before. But Postone’s argument is that labor continues to appear to be necessary long after it is no longer.
If you read Tronti’s “Struggle Against Labor” side by side with Postone’s critique of Hardt in the South Atlantic Quarterly journal, you can see in their synthesis the potential for a sword that cuts the Gordian Knot of working class direct action. It is the demand that extracts the working class from the false choices offered by fascist state policy: between inflation and unemployment; endless deficits and cruel austerity.
It is the demand for nothing less than abolition of labor, a reduction of hours of work until the needs of the working class are satisfied, and this demand must become the working class’s single demand no matter the consequences for capital and its state. In Tronti’s words,
“If the alienation of the worker has any meaning, it is a highly revolutionary one. The organization of alienation: This is the only possible direction in which the party can lead the spontaneity of the class. The goal remains that of refusal, at a higher level: It becomes active and collective, a political refusal on a mass scale, organized and planned.”
The destructive potential of “No!” was on full display in the first two years of the Obama administration when the GOP, to rally its troops in face of repudiation by the voters in the 2008 election, played the “Party of No” in the 2010 elections. The tactic threatened to swamp the GOPoseurs themselves as new elements turned on the Washington GOP to the point of threatening Washington itself with default on its debt. The disruptive power of “No!” predicted by Tronti appeared ominously enough for capital in the very elements it raised to tighten its grip on the fascist state. It appeared just as ominously within the Occupy as a movement, which offered no demands on the existing state and which could, therefore, not be placated by satisfaction of their demands. As Tronti wrote:
This today is the only possible means of overcoming working-class passivity-overcoming the spontaneous form which this passivity presently takes – while furthering its political content of negation and revolt. The first organized “No!” of the workers to the first “demands” of the capitalist class will reverberate as a declaration of total class war, a historic call to the decisive phase of the struggle, the modern version of the classic revolutionary slogan; Proletarians of All Lands, Unite!
A new article (PDF) by Postone is likely one of the best things written by a Marxist on this crisis. In the critical segment posted on Principia Dialectia, Postone critiques, and demystifies, Hardt’s concept of value. The critique shows why Postone remains the most insightful Marxist scholar today. His reconstruction of Marx’s labor theory of value is one of the single most important theoretical accomplishments of our time.
To understand the far-reaching significance of the argument Postone makes in this piece, substitute the term “socially necessary labor time” for the term “value”.
This May Day, as in all previous May Days going back almost to its establishment, will be marked by the indifference of the working class, at least in the United States, to its arrival. The odd thing about this is that May Day was born here in the United States as an expression of working class power and its determined struggle for the reduction in hours of labor. Yet here, more than in any other country, it passes almost unnoticed by the very class that created it through its own independent power. That it should be met with indifference here in the country of its birth is a paradox that requires explaining — if for no other reason than it points to a fundamentally troubling aspect of communist theory in its orthodox Marxist and anarchist variants: the apparent failure of the working class to rise to its historical mission as gravedigger of capitalism, to acquire what is commonly referred to as a class consciousness.
Part of this paradox can be explained by visiting a paper recently published by Alberto Toscano on the problem posed by Post-Workerism interpretations of Marx’s and Engels’ argument in which a worker, Nanni Balestrini, complains:
Once I went to May Day. I never got workers’ festivities. The day of work, are you kidding? The day of workers celebrating themselves. I never got it into my head what workers’ day or the day of work meant. I never got it into my head why work should be celebrated. But when I wasn’t working I didn’t know what the fuck to do. Because I was a worker, that is someone who spent most of their day in the factory. And in the time left over I could only rest for the next day. But that May Day on a whim I went to listen to some guy’s speech because I didn’t know him.
As I stated in a recent interview:
What I find interesting about this quote is that, obviously, May Day does not “celebrate work”, but celebrates a victory in the working class’s struggle for a reduction of hours of labor. What began as a celebration of a victory marking a step toward the abolition of labor became, over time, redefined as the celebration of the thing to be abolished, labor. But what is equally interesting about the quote is that the worker quoted, while apparently ignorant of this history, recognizes the idiocy of celebrating wage slavery. Even without realizing it, the worker reestablishes the original significance of the day.
This is an observation that seems lost on the critics of the Occupy and Tea Party movements.
It’s Back. A flood of flashing lights and fast cars, lights brighter that the sun. A cast of thousands, the flashy dressed high rollers, laughing at the amount they are pissing away. Tourists, dressed for the heat, ready to walk everywhere, every sight enthralling, yet, the soul is melting in this desert hallucination.
And everyone is wasted. Stumbling around, laughing, doing what they can to miss the homeless lining the skyways, the sidewalks, hiding in plain sight.
The homeless here are a special bunch, they are not run of the mill. Not down and out. These are a group of fighters. They are not a bunch of bums stuck here cause they lost everything at some blackjack table. They came here for a special fight for their own survival. They seem to not want to live any other way. So much money to be had in this town, everyone is sure to get a share. Seems they do get a large enough share.
Mickey and Minnie are here, albiet somewhat dirty, hiding the truth in a somewhat outlandish head. The truth of the dirty Disney idols on Fremont, is the wrinkled lines, the sun torn leathery skin, graying hair and lost eyes. They live here on this monstrosity of the cesspool, taking pictures for tips, each flashbulb taking part of the characters soul, in trade for a buck or two. They are among the cast of thousands, chasing something in this town, along with Sonic The Hedgehog, a ventriloquist, looking after themselves, looking after each other.
All of Vegas is not a sham, or a shame. There is a unity here. There is a spirit.
But alas this Strip. Miles of hotels casinos dreams and nightmares. Slot Machines and Blackjack tables full of empty souls looking for that jackpot, that hot streak, or hitting 13 they placed the last $5 in chips. This is an adult wonderland. An over twenty one playground. DO NOT BRING YOUR FUCKING KIDS HERE! No child needs to see mom and dad lose the college fund because they know this time they will hit black, a dozen golden Elvises, fire breathing midgets, let alone grandpa drunkenly crawling up the stairs after getting kicked out of the strip club. Take the kids to Disneyland, leave them at home, probably not with that old perv grandpa, just for fuck’s sake, don’t bring them here. This is a sanctuary for the party people.
Drinks are free, drugs are cheap and plentiful and the hookers and fetish artists are on every corner. There is a place for everyone, a price for everyone, and everything is for sale.
For some of us that place is the street, and those streets belong to us. For months, I had inhabited those streets in this nations capitol. The activists streets. A so called mild winter, on the east coast. Perfect weather for protesting the wrongs of a government that knows no rights. Kerosene and propane heaters going full force to keep us warm, and the full force of the United States Park Police to keep us uncomfortable, awake, uneasy. A movement of love, peace and equality, forced to live awake, on the streets, treated worse than the homeless, worse than the rats. Cat and mouse games get old, as do power struggles between activists. The mice never have the guns, and the mice don’t believe in them.
It was a daily struggle. Not just against the police forces. More factions against us than I could count. Including our own bodies. A constant struggle for a meal, a drink of water, heat, a place out of the wind.
But here is a paintbrush, a sheet, another fucking slogan, another fucking march. Even our powerful friends, have become our foes.
But not this monstrosity in the Nevada Desert. Billions of gallons of water and beer a day. Tons of food prepared in any way, anywhere, you want. And yes, you can eat the sushi off of her belly should you so choose. Just pay up.
Vegas is a destination, not a home. Those that do stick it out and live here, the locals have seen it all. Seen. Too. Much. Nothing here phases a local.
Just another day. No matter what the seen is, a tourist puking out the excesses, fire farting ponds, drug deals gone wrong, the roommate going out to prostitute for the rent the coke dealer, the food bill.
The wrinkles of the working class, the 4am humorless bartender, is a way of fighting the tears. Fighting the desolation of a town built to have temporary acquaintances constantly out on the next flight, bus, the next ride they can hitch. Between the insult to the planet for this obscene gesture to our Mother Earth, to the psychic cost extracted from the visitor, a toll by all those involved must be paid.