WHAT DO WE TAKE? … C) from Marx

KarlMarx

FROM MARX:

We get the idea that capitalism is concealment: hiding its exploitation well.

It conceals through seduction: the enamoured victim of the seducer is always blind to the depths of the one-sidedness of their relationship.

“… things do not always immediately appear as they are. The divorce between reality and the way it appears is a central aspect of Marx’s dialectical thought.”[i]

What we learn from Marx is the need to be critical and vigilant of appearances. In fact, it is precisely when everything looks quite rosy that we must be especially on our guard.

Marx argued that in communist societies technological development would seek to eliminate repetitive, physically demanding, unsafe and unhealthy tasks; reduce overall labour time, satisfy basic needs and develop human potential.[ii] The failure of communism is usually estimated by its inability to achieve, or even successfully approach the achievement of these goals.

However, in assessing this failure, it is also true that the communist states were set up at times when technologies were not advanced enough to make this forward-moving cultural-leap possible. Very many of the technologies capable of transforming our lives were developed in the capitalist, not the communist world, and the great spike in technological development that we are experiencing now came after the fall of the Berlin Wall. In a sense, it could be affirmed that communism arose as a political alternative before its time. Ironically, the application of Marx’s Utopian dream is far easier to envisage now. Whilst, a development of our current AI and robotics technologies offers an alternative to human labour that could give us the means to nurture our potential, the pressing needs for systemic change that are demanded by the ecological crisis give us a sound reason for wanting to make such a revolutionary change as well.

One of the goals of all human societies, if they are truly human, should be to get humans out of the psychologically and physically tedious work spaces, and into environments where human potential can be focussed on tasks related to the full development of our human, homo sapiens, potentials. Technology is now our greatest hope, and the more utopian are our hopes for the technological world, the better. Nevertheless, it is also true, and it should always be uppermost in any technological thrust forward, that a Utopia will only ever be built once research and the production of new technologies are liberated from the profit-making obligations of the market place. (Capitalism + Technology = Dystopia) is the true equation behind the façade of the current System, but it is this same monstrous equation that has to be avoided at all costs.

One of the ways to achieve the liberation from tedious, repetitive work that offers no spiritual reward for the labourer, would lie through a complete automation of production – a process which is taking place, but which is unpopular because it produces unemployment, which produces, in our capitalist-monetary system, misery and poverty. What this implies, therefore, is another Marxist or neo-Marxist goal: the deconstruction of the idea of unemployment allowing for a conception of society to be formed in which being without a wage-earning occupation never has to be a problem.

[i] From Ben Fine and Alfredo Saad, MARX’S CAPITAL, Routledge, p.4

 

[ii] Ibid, p.8

Advertisements

EQUILIBRIUM

thSVXUVI9R

In the dystopian sc-fi-action film, Equilibrium, directed by Kurt Wimmer, we are presented with a totalitarian regime that controls society by abolishing feelings. In this dystopia, each member of society is provided with a drug, to be taken at regular intervals, that inhibits, like Prozac, the human side of humans – our feelings.

On a superficial level, this seems to be a critique of all dictatorial regimes, and of the evolution of power. Nevertheless, the real manipulation by the most powerful regimes today function quite the opposite: power today is ensured, not by inhibiting human feelings and allowing the logical mind to flourish, but rather by letting our sentiments and desires dominate us and, by so doing, inhibiting effective critical thought which would challenge the authority of the regime.

All totalitarian regimes have always identified their greatest enemies in the intellectual class. It is only knowledge and deep critical thinking which will be able to see through the lies they propagate and undermine the superficial veneers of happiness they have painted their societies with.

Governments and Ultimate Significance

Parliament

Governments are supposed to organise us, but … organise us to do what? To be able to answer this question democratically and function as effectively as possible in favour of the demos, the elected government would have to know the ultimate significance of what everybody knows and does, as well as the potentials behind what each one of us would like to do.

The paradox behind this fact is that no demos would ever want their government to know exactly what they know and do, or, perhaps, even what they would really like to do.

What this paradox means therefore, is that real democracy is an impossibility. Nevertheless, we have systems that call themselves democratic, and we are told that these systems are designed for our welfare, or for our security. But these claims are also paradoxical, because such justifications only make sense for a society that has already reached and understood its ultimate significance … which takes us back to the first paradox, and in this way the great leviathan of government swallows it tail twice.

To resolve these paradoxes, the demos needs to be able to have the faith that a democratic government that knew what we want, know and do, would be able to channel this perfect knowledge of its citizens into a collective, truly purposeful project directed towards real fulfilment.

 

THE ROLE OF RELIGION IN DEMOCRACY

Religion has traditionally been an escape vessel for political leaders: if the ultimate significance is a religious one, beyond our control, except by ensuring that the religious idea is allowed absolute freedom of expression, then government can concentrate on fulfilling its four-year programme without worrying about the inconvenience of its own ultimate significance.

What this succeeds in doing is to create the removal of politics from any truly purposeful organisation. When the long term is ignored, so is authentic fulfilment. The result is a general feeling of dissatisfaction and pointlessness and a retreat into hedonisms and living the day to day. If there is money around, it creates decadence. If there is not, it creates the struggle for daily survival.

 

ENLIGHTENED GOVERNMENT

But how can we ever get over the first paradox. The idea of the enlightened government is terrifying. Traditional enlightenment and power has been a terrible, often tragic, combination for societies, and they usually add up to dictatorial dogmas enforced by megalomaniacal leaders. We need enlightened government, but we fear it will only bring about oppression and tragedy.

Nevertheless, once we start analysing the ultimate significance we are proposing and the ideologies that have created past dictatorships, we find there is a fundamental difference. Traditionally, ideologies have been initiated by and for a social group, or class, race or culture. The failure of these ideologies as enlightenment has been their intrinsic nature of pitching us against them.

What we are discovering now is that the struggle between us and them has got nothing to do with the current crises except in the fact that it must be overcome. The only way that our great universal problems can be superseded is by humanity coming together and making the ultimate leap towards ultimate significance which can only come through a real identification with what each one of us really is … a member of the human race. From the human race point of view, sovereignty is a constant distraction away from the ultimate significance.

AUTHENTIC REALITY

But whether we can offer an authentic ultimate significance for social action or not, the shadow of power still hangs over the reality of all social organisation. And the form of that shadow is that governmental power is, really, the power to create reality.

Our argument is, that authentic reality which is that which offers an ultimate significance for all human knowledge, activity and desires, can only be measured from a holistically human point of view. Power on the other hand, has been traditionally self-interested, serving the needs and desires of certain factions and using lies and persuasion to convince societies that their regimes are working for them. Or, if not, that they have no other choice but to work for the regime that wields ultimate power over their lives.

FAKE NEWS

When President Donald Trump brazenly whines about the Fake News of his media coverage he is unwittingly – as most of Trump’s disclosures are – proclaiming a very uncomfortable truth, i.e. the basis of all the news we receive is fundamentally fake. But that’s not what Trump is saying. He’s not proclaiming that all news in the media is false, only that which gives him a bad coverage.

On the HBO programme Real Time, comedian Bill Maher made the claim that viewers of Fox News (Trump’s favourite channel) when asked about Trump’s ties to Russia said they knew nothing about it, because, concluded Maher, on Fox News  they don’t talk about the Russia-gate enquiry; and as such, Fox’s news is fake by omission. On the other hand, Trump and his supporters, argue that the rest of the media use the same tactics of falsity through omission, by never talking about all the great and wonderful things his administration is doing to make America great again.

Both Trump and Bill Maher are right … and wrong. Falsity-through-omission is perpetrated by all the mainstream media outlets at all levels and, practically, all the time, and so they are right. But what neither trump nor Maher see is that the truly grave omissions in reporting are not the one’s spurred by ideological interests, but rather the great omissions concerning the structural organisation of our civilisation that ignore the root causes of all evils. Lack of systemic criticism and the complete absence of systemic culpability is where the Fake News really resides.

We live in a civilisation that preaches the virtues of competitiveness and successfulness. This is the motor of our lives and money is the oil-blood that keeps that machine working. From this point of view, when Trump stood up before the United Nations and told every member of those supposedly united countries that he was going to put America first and that every other leader should put their own country first, it was pure madness (how can we be united if we’re all competing against each other?) but it wasn’t hypocritical. Quite the opposite, Trump was proclaiming pure market-system ideology – compete and succeed, no matter what that the demands of that competitiveness are.

But the ideology that Trump so honestly adheres to, is also insane. Seen in the context of the United Nations and international diplomacy we immediately see the dangers behind it – such a doctrine leads to wars; and in the case at hand, a possible nuclear war.

Trump may or may not be criticised for making his honest claim, but what will never be criticised will be the system itself which Trump is just a loud symptom of.

And there are a lot more serious symptoms, not just Trump. Not only wars but all violence in societies stem from this structural emphasis on competition and success. Yet, when the media report this violence, there is never any attempt to put the blame where it stands, on the competitive market structure of the global economy world itself. Poverty is another result and poverty also intensifies violent conditions. But the media don’t report on that, or debate in their in-depth analyses on how the structure might be changed … and therein lies the great Fake News.

Crime in our civilisation is not an aberration in society, but an honestly determined expression of its values to be successful – no matter what – even if it means breaking the rules.

And, of course, there is our interminable problem of biodegradation that is also deeply embedded in the system itself. This is yet another manifestation of the violence perpetrated by competition and success. Of course, with the issue of climate change there is an awareness that things have to be done, but a great lack in reporting how the system of competition and success is incapable of making the adjustments that need to be made to halt the lethal degradation.

In a psychological sense, the media seems to be in a blind state of denial to the ugly truth. in order to clean the filthy pond we’re swimming in, we have to change the water – which means we have to stop swimming, get the water and filthy scum out of the pool, and find some clean water to swim in again. And that is a lot of hard work. Yes, Donald Trump himself promised to drain that swamp for us, but he is just making it murkier than ever, and, how could we expect a billionaire capitalist ever to clean up the neo-capitalist cess-pool?

The truth is: for humanity to succeed, we must clean out the competition and success and replace it with a new purpose based on the creative potentials of an authentic humanity that is allowed to be creative without carrying the burdens that competitiveness implies. We need a systemic revaluation, a vision of a different future, and … a revolution. That’s the real news.

Patriotism, Fascism, and the Death of Democracy

trump-and-flaf-2

Our Civilisation of Wealth has used very different kinds of political ideologies to sustain itself but its ugliest version is undoubtedly Fascism. That a vulgar and fascistic, personality-cult leader has now become President of the USA is shocking, but not so surprising if we consider that the fascism has always been there in a latent form.

The Great War against Fascism of 1939-45, that we call the Second World War, did not actually defeat fascism. Yes, it defeated Hitler and Mussolini and the personality cult regime in Japan, but it did not defeat fascism. It did not defeat fascism because it did nothing to eradicate the patriotic pride of the national states. There were victors and losers in the war: one way of perpetuating the patriotic spirit defeat another manifestation of those sentiments; in the Second World War “democratic” fascism defeated “authoritarian” fascism with the help of the national-socialist regime of Joseph Stalin.   

Authoritarian fascism is best defined by the term National Socialism and the key word in fascism is National. The patriotic spirit behind the democratic forces that defeated Hitler were nationalistic and therefore fascistic forces. All forms of wall building and border defining ideologies are inherently nestling fascist frameworks. All nationalism and patriotic feelings are essentially fascist sentiments. Even the great bridge building ventures since World War II, like the European Union and Globalisation have always clung on to the maintenance of state sovereignty, and by doing this we have maintained the roots of fascism under every progressive tree.

The problem of fascism is that, once the National State establishes its power it needs to extend its boundaries if it wishes to keep progressing. The fascist state is always a little empire, and the Fatherland Empire will always want to expand into neighbouring Fatherlands. The same expansionist need is also an essential part of neo-liberal capitalist growth. However, the capitalist powers that defeated Hitler, knew that they did not need the muscle of dictatorship to perpetuate itself and its growth, in fact, they understood that tyranny was counterproductive to expansion. Fascism had to be subtler, and democracy was a far more efficient machine for allowing the rich to get richer and for Wealth to legitimise itself. Civilian upstarts like Hitler, or military reactionaries like Franco were themselves a bigger threat to Wealth than the pseudo-freely elected parliamentary systems. Control from the unquestionable legitimacy of the ballot-box, contained within an easily controllable patriotic ambience, is the apotheosis of power that Wealth needs to maintain itself.

In theory, Democracy should be the system that favours the masses, but by restricting it within the patriotic bubble this is hardly ever the case. The seemingly illogical results of the Brexit referendum, the Colombian peace referendum, or the seemingly impossible election of a fascist president in the emblem of the Free World that has been the USA, seems to indicate that the democratic process no longer works. But, really, veiled with the mask of patriotism, democracy has always been an easily manipulated motor for the National Socialisms that pull the strings.

As for the United States, where democracy is so widely revered, a heavy paradox has always lain over that system; for an idea of politics favouring the masses is associated there with the “evils” of socialism, that most Americans think is an un-democratic process. By rejecting socialism, the Americans reject the role of the people in democracy. When the will of the people rejects the power of the people, then the situation lies in an essential paradox that is profoundly absurd and invites dangerously ridiculous solutions like authoritarian fascism.         

The Serious Ridicule Campaign — P.D. Adkin Singer Songwriter

On 11th November, 2016, we woke up to find that the most famously disgusting man in the world had been seriously, ridiculously voted in as the 45th President of the USA. Donald Trump is seriously ridiculous. Seriously ridiculous because his ridiculousness has to be taken seriously. But, the seriousness of that ridiculousness does not […]

via The Serious Ridicule Campaign — P.D. Adkin Singer Songwriter

POLITICS AS A DESIRE FOR NON-POWER

Image result for abolish money

The cry for Real Democracy demands a reappraisal of the voting systems that undemocratically favour two major parties, nearly always the centre right and centre left. liberal-democratic parties, who themselves ensure a continuation of the dominant capitalist-economy of the global world civilisation. Most Western-style democracies have cheating mechanisms which are designed, according to their supporters, to provide “strong” governments.

From a point of view of political comfort, the cheating mechanisms seem to be necessary for maintaining a desirable stability. We have seen in the last few years how the arrival of more radical parties into the governmental scenario (e.g.: in Greece, Spain and Italy) has done little to make any fundamental changes to the system. Anti-capitalist parties have been castrated by the global capitalist-economy. Because of this, the System falls into an impossible paradox in which winning power becomes political suicide for radical parties.

But what if the objectives of winning the elections were radically opposed to power itself: that instead of gaining power, the objective of the radicals is to create non-power? Can we imagine a political party with an anti-power ideology? Of course this sounds like anarchism, but let’s ask why anarchism is so scarcely seen in democracies? Why do we think we need power so much when, over and over again, we see how greedy and selfish it is?

The reason is that Power in our economics-driven society is inextricably tied to the flow of money. Power makes and distributes the wealth. It is an underlying belief in our society that without money we would die, and this means Power is related to survival, and only when Power threatens our survival, as it did in 18th century France or 20th century Russia and China, will major revolutions take place. That Power is inextricably aligned with Wealth is no secret, but when that alliance is seen as a threat by societies to our welfare and as an endangering force in our lives, it starts to be questioned, and the seeds of revolution begin to sprout.

However, a real revolution can only truly hope to succeed if it attacks the real source of the problem, which is the relationship between Power and Wealth, and which stems from the inextricable bond between Power and money. In other words, only by questioning monetarisation and envisaging societies in which money as we know it no longer has to play a part, will successful revolution or purposeful political change ever come about.

But for this to happen, political activists have to enter the political scene not with a thirst for power, but with a desire for non-power.

ON NEUROSIS

Image result for the scream munch

For the neurotic, reality is an intrusion. The neurotic is the one who says: “Life is awful; it is so full of reality.”[i] There is a paradox here: Is the neurotic disturbed because of his or her rejection of reality, or is reality itself something that actually makes life awful, and, therefore, creates the neurotic who finds it intrusive? The neurotic lives an illusion: but that illusion is that things should be better.

From a moral perspective, the neurotic is right – things should be better. But, if this is the case, why can’t we learn from the neurotic? If we listen to the one who thinks things should be better, we might be able to see how better things can actually come about. Instead we nullify the neurotic mind, tranquilising its Utopian-born anxieties with drugs. Civilisation tells us that neurosis is a terrible illness, not a path to enlightenment.

But, how is neurosis an illness? According to Horney the neurotic’s problem is that he or she makes claims on things that they are not actually entitled to.[ii] The result is indignation.

It is here that we see how neurosis seeps into the very fabric of society; through the fantasy of entitlement, which is itself created by the ambiguity of that same entitlement that is fostered by civilisation. How far do our rights go? How extensive are our entitlements? What does our democratic freedom provide us with? Once one starts to attempt to answer these questions, one is pushing oneself ever closer toward a neurosis.

But inspiration itself is a neurosis forming phenomenon. The illusionary reality of the neurotic is encouraged by the System itself: “You deserve that car that you can’t afford, and because you deserve it we will give you the finance for it – all you have to do is pay us back with interest.” The luxury car, in the neurosis creating system, becomes a neurotic need. Of course it isn’t an authentic necessity for anyone, but the system tells us that it is.

The neurotic is a passive creature, “all the good things in life, including contentment of soul, should come to him,”[iii] and the neurosis creating society must also fabricate passivity. A passivity which is linked through neurosis with consumerism.

[i] K. Horney, NEUROSIS AND HUMAN GROWTH, p. 40

[ii] Ibid, p. 41

[iii] Ibid, p. 50

Zombies, the Brexit and Dystopia

“…man is in the world, and only in the world does he know himself.”

Merleau-Ponty, PHENOMENOLOGY OF PERCEPTION, Preface, p. xii

 

Man is in the world … And if this is true for humanity, we need also to remind ourselves of it whenever we examine societies and our civilisation.

Civilisation is only realistic when it is perceived within the context of the world – or, in other words, within its ecological context.

Nevertheless, democracies largely ignore their relationship to the environment and give precedence, time and time again, to their own self-made fantasy-reality that it calls ‘the economy’.

Civilisation has always been a challenge to the natural world; an audacious move by human beings to harness nature for our own ends in order to create a mode of existence that is superior to nature itself. But what Civilisation has gained by developing beyond the in-the-world context, it has also had to sacrifice its authenticity. It has become a fantasy form of its own potentialities, manifested in the madness of the economic doctrine of perpetual growth.

For authenticity to be returned to civilisation, there needs to be a re-establishment of partnership with the world, rather than a continuation of conquests of land-spaces and a pillage of non-renewable resources.

We are driving a juggernaut along a road which leads directly to a cliff edge. If we go straight, we will topple into an abyss.

To avoid this, we have two choices: we can either turn left toward a Utopia, or right into a Dystopia.

Given this scenario, why is it so hard to decide which way to go?

Driving forward the way we are, will only bring about deeper and deeper systemic crises. Technological advancement has to create more automation and the digitalisation and robotisation of societies, combined with the continual increases in population density, can only further decimate jobs. Concentration of wealth and the centralisation of job opportunities to the growing megacities will continually draw desperate, poverty stricken outsiders to those centres.

The easiest solutions are the Dystopic ones: the erection of walls to keep the immigrant invaders out. Ties between capitalism and zombie invasion metaphors have been made over and over again by many bloggers[i] and intellectuals like Slavoj Zizek[ii].

In the Brexit, we’ve been able to witness how easily a society can be swayed toward a Dystopic solution. When the outside world is too frightening to face, then the safest thing to do, say the Dystopics, is to retreat and gather together in a fortress with walls that are strong enough to withstand the encroaching invasion.

The idea of the Brexit is to allow Britain – probably in a diminished form from what it is now – to do its business with the world in a safe position, removed from the very chaos that that ‘business’ has created and will continue to create.

Essentially, the Brexit is riddled by the paradox inherent in all Dystopic solutions. The Dystopian is terrified by our world, but, instead of trying to imagine that world as a better place, it continues throwing more fuel into the motor of the chaos that scares it so much. In a sense, we have the capitalist Doctor Frankenstein hiding himself from his plague of monsters, but it doesn’t mean he wants to eradicate the plague. Quite the contrary, his retreat is merely a tactical one, in order to observe his beasts from a safe place: behind the walls that are heavily guarded, and with special forces that will occasionally venture forth to stir up the chaos even more.

Utopic vision, on the other hand, embraces our world, and looks for ways of turning technological advances into a working alternative that offers an immensely better world – primarily much better because it promises a long-term survival for humanity in this world.

[i] https://radicalscholarship.wordpress.com/2015/10/11/are-we-the-walking-dead/

[ii] http://revoluciontrespuntocero.com/the-walking-dead-y-la-ideologia-del-capital-post-industrial/

 

 

DADDY DEMOCRACY IS NOT THE FATHER WE THOUGHT HE WAS

alienation democracy – Bing images

There is a general feeling of alienation between the electorate and the political echelons in most of the so called democratic world, and it is important to remind ourselves that this alienation, which is real, is taking place precisely when our democracies have applauded the downfall of most of the world’s dictatorships. So, how can this be? If the world is more democratic than ever, how can it be that people are feeling alienated from the political system? The situation should be the opposite. Could it be that the accuser, now left with hardly anyone else to accuse, is now revealed for what he truly is and always was? That the accusations were smoke-screens in order to cover up his own guilt? Aren’t we now like the child who discovers indications that our perfect father is not so perfect after all: we don’t go out and openly discredit him, although deep down we would like to; we don’t run away or disown him, although we are tempted to; we start to rebel and stand up to his authority, but we don’t really believe we can change him … do we?

What we have now is quite a unique scenario. Perhaps for the first time in history, we find ourselves having to turn our backs on that which we never really had. We thought we were free, but it was a lie. So, what should we do? Try and recreate that which never was? Try and create in a real way that which we thought we had but never really did? But, how could we ever trust them again?

Once innocence is lost, it’s impossible to return there again.