Tuesday, 1 February 2011

Theoretical Meanderings

Critique of Capital
The petty bourgeoisie want to maintain huge capital gains through exploitation of capital and fundamentally the workers, including the whole ecological edifice. Within capitalism the consequences of such action is of course, by the powers that be, negated.

An implementation of Minskian economics – that being the regulatory reformation of market capitalism in order for capitals profit mongering to continue in a regulated system - may preserve the life of capital exploitation as we know it and be able to curb capitalist’s inevitable devaluation, however the systemic failures of capitalism still remain.

The emphasis on profit as opposed to people’s welfare will remain dominant. More poignantly the culture which has come out of capitalism symbolised through; a symptom which is more prominent than greed. Greed is championed as the main tendency of capitalism, I tend to disagree. I believe it to be ENVY. Envy is far worse than greed and does much more to fuel capitalism than greed could ever do. Envy creates and maintains the culture of competition, and the culture of accumulating material possession, which is achieved through two means;

Firstly the exploitation of some means of production i.e. workers, ecology, poor/corrupt states and such like, secondly living beyond our means.

Both instances are unsustainable and therefore degenerate. What is needed is to radically reform capitalist dynamics in favour of emancipatory mechanisms which should exist, but currently do not exists, on the levels needed to provide for global welfare. Such a dynamic is far from actuality. Radical alternatives can only be created through an understanding of the critiques of capitalism whilst at the same time understanding the contemporary road which lies ahead.

Failings of the UK factionary Left
The UK Left wing fractions, in particular, the SWP and Workers Power, claim to already hold the alternative to capitalism or rather they don’t care for how to construct alternatives to capitalism (never mind the anarchist left, anarchism seems flawed from the start – we have no need for organisation or leaders! Then how is it you get together to effect change?!). Rather, those groups merely surmise that they want a word, that being ‘Socialism’ to replace Capitalism. This is not a serious or viable alternative to capitalism and is part of the Lefts failing in efforts to attract serious demographic infiltration of the liberal capitalist’s edifice. The UK left claim to want ‘revolution’ without an understanding of what constructs would be put in place after revolutionary change.

As much as I too champion the Revolutions we are witnessing in the Middle East and North Africa, in; Tunisia and Egypt, with the possibility of similar revolutionary situations occurring in; Algeria, Yemen, Jordan and hopefully one day soon in Iran and Saudi Arabia. What we the UK Left can learn from these revolutionary moments is that an organised solid socio-political organisation with clear thought out goals would have served to fill the power vacuum we are witnessing in Egypt. Egypt was unable to construct such forces under Mubarak, due to his dictatorship oppression. We in the UK are under no such forces and have the ability to achieve what the Egyptians were unable to enact.

On a positive note Tunisia seems to have an established Trade Union movement which is gaining power and with whom my solidarity resides (see - http://www.demdigest.net/blog/2011/01/tunisian-unions-eclipsing-parties-as-democratizing-force-2/).

Although it may be said that spontaneous and impromptu uprisings in the Middle East have been crucial to their successes, it does no harm in trying to form true alternatives proposed by the, alienated, minority Left in the UK.

To succeed in opposing the British government the UK left needs real alternatives as opposed to scape-goating this company, this bank, this resource and so on. That is to say, our global problem is truly global, the crisis, the imbalances, and the corruption in our global civility are SYSTEMIC, the whole system is flawed and whilst it is easy to stigmatises individual flaws within the system, our efforts would be much better served if we tackled the whole system, and not just fragmentary instances of injustice, which we know go on and which we should, indeed, have the facts in front of us as Wikileaks has enabled. 

We need to do better than just shouting abuse at individual companies exposed by insiders. Just think of all those corrupt companies we do not know about! They will be sniggering and rejoicing at how their competitors are getting abused whilst they get away with, possibly, worse injustices.

We need viable alternatives!
Rather than arguing over foreign policy, the UK radical Left should be setting up think tanks, committees socio-political events, conferences and such like - on a united front! together in attempts to “think the world” before we change the world.

The alternatives we have at the moment are not good enough and obviously do not create the substantial numbers the Left requires - arguably for good reason.   

We need to come up with solutions so that we can formulate new social realities. Both internal and external and in conjunction with our fellow Europeans with the potentials to go beyond, possibly one day to South America, or perhaps the Middle East, providing the Left gains power there.

I am an advocate for globalisation, but a globalisation much more radical than the one we see today. A globalised world which is truly global, would only be possible if those excluded from the flows and junctures of globalisation had an empowered and involved role in the dynamics which have alienated those excluded from globalisation for too long; the globalisation of sociological, political, economic alternatives to globalisations’ current construct need to be formed.

This should be the only foreign policy the radical Left in the UK are concerned with. This would be a truly emancipatory mission, opposed to the current outdated opposition to imperialism and such like.   

My beliefs are that we should ban privatisation or anything which claims to have ownership over 'our' commons (see Hart and Negri), such a suggestion is farfetched but only through united substantial organisation could such radical reforms be implemented as opposed to fragmentary opposition over the fundamental message the radical Left shares... the emancipatory potentials of our global civility.



  1. I definitely agree that the issue is beyond that of political change and tinkering here and there, and goes beyond regulatory capitalism. However, the question is how to bring about genuine systemic change - to quote Marx - "The philosophers have so far only interpreted the world - the point, however, is to change it".

    Problematically, with the standard set by Capitalism, developing nations only have this model of prosperity to aspire to. Generating a mindset in which "keeping up with the Jones" - or Envy, is not relevant, is nigh on impossible.

    I wonder if this mindset - "beyond jealousy", can even be realised in any kind of education as we currently know it.

    If this is our problem, then I pose the question - what can politcal change do to help?

  2. Following on...We cannot simply educate people to think in a way which perhaps it is not possible for people (on large scale) to think - that is, without 'envy' or 'jelousy'. What you are asking for is outside the realms of possibility. The best you can hope for is regulated capitalism, i.e. a very good welfare state. Anything else is contrary to human psychology...and thats why it will never take off!

  3. I disagree, more and more people are becoming aware of our own mortality, we can no longer, consume and consume without consequence.

    Envy and jealousy although a powerful asset in our human psychology are not dominant, our most dominant asset is the continuation of our survival as a species.

    Saying this, it is of the upmost importance that we understand the need to change the way we are living. Firstly in a systematic political way which i believe the left can offer us on a global level. And secondly on an environmental front where the sustainability and nourishment of resources is an issue of global acceptance.

    This alone can achieve the a mind set and global community that the left sets out to achieve. People are ready to change if a change is given to them.

    "The emphasis on profit as opposed to people’s welfare will remain dominant."

    The Capitalist system provokes and cultivates envy and jealousy, it is the snake that whispers in your ear, urging you to eat the apple whole. We need a new system which urges people to share the apple and plant the seeds.

  4. The line I wrote in this article purposefully turned the Marx quotation on its head, and for good reason. Now more than ever we try to change the world without really thinking of the consequences. We need to retreat back to philosophy as a predicate to our actions.

    I think the contemporary problems we see today, directly correlate with this quote. In particular two dynamics; Fetish Disavowal, I think, a Freudian concept, meaning – I know very well but. An example of this would be - I know the world is imbalanced with the richest dominating our common space and subjecting the workers of the global economy to lower than minimum wage to make their profits... but what do you expect me to do, I’ll just carry on and keep calm, the same holds true for global warming. This is a classical mindset of our capitalist society and leads to the second contemporary problem – The way we experience ideology within a falsified reality. That is to say you can ask most people if they are political or not and allot of the time the response will be I’m not interested or these things don’t concern me “I’m more bothered with my life to bother” or along those lines... Such a position is an adherence to the ruling ideology, neo-liberal capitalism. In this sense we are living in a Fukuyama society (see Fukuyama – The end of History and the Last man)

    Envy is an emotion which should not and cannot be removed from the human psyche. However the problem with this emotion is that it dominates in capitalist societies a result of which generates the wealthy wanting to maintain and increase their wealth, at the detriment of global civility. – Envy dominates through cultural capitalism (see - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hpAMbpQ8J7g). You have probably seen this and disagreed.

    We need a collective mindset which opposes the domination of envy. The only way for this to occur is either through the whole system becoming so destructive that people feel huge guilt for the way capital functions (unlikely), or, by a political awakening of the left where people stand up to Fetish Disavowal and want to act and an acceptance that we are all ideological and standing up for what they believe in. Basically realising that privatising PUBLIC space, PUBLIC information, PUBLIC ecology and so forth is detrimental to the survival of human potentials. The left propagates this message. A shift to Left wing conceptions which will change the current path we are trudging down.

  5. I think you are a bit confused. The SWP does not simply resist this or that bank or company. They involve themselves in resistance because they understand that the most effective way to militate people against and entire socio-economic system is to engage them in a struggle with the state/bosses and so on. The SWP do have an idea of what kinds of institutions and what kind of social organisation would follow capitalism - but it is not the most pressing task of the left to ellaborate complex ideas about future utopias.

    Lastly, the SWP follow the classical Marxist tradition, so they do draw from a huge intellectual tradition to inform their actions.

    As for freud - i cant see how he provides a basis for radical politics.