The world is in chaos. What was once a guaranteed global social order, global capitalism, is now laying bare, shattered and facing turmoil. As Mao once said “there is great chaos under heaven – never has the time been more prefect”.
Form the early 90s to 2001 we lived in an era of truly ‘Fukuyamaist’ western parameters, where there was no longer a need for political opposition to the ‘democratic’ capitalist system. Communism had fallen and capitalism had won. Enter the, devastating, conquest of Thatcher to Blair to Cameron. The ‘middle class’ was expanding, by middle class what is meant is those who have an expendable income, free to purchase beyond our means through the invention of credit, a further expanse toward a disassociation between cause and effect. The cause being purchasing beyond your means the effect of which resulted in boom and bust, a dynamic that Engels was writing about in his Outlines of a Critique of Political Economy of 1844!
“No worker can hold his own against his competitors if he does not devote all his powers to labour. No one at all who becomes involved in the struggle of competition can stand the strain without the utmost exertion of his powers, without renouncing every truly human purpose. The consequences of this over-exertion on the side is, inevitably, collapse on the other. When the fluctuation of competition is small, when demand and supply, consumption and production, are almost equal, a stage must be reached in the development of production where there is so much superfluous productive power that the great mass of the nation has nothing to live on, that the people starve from sheer abundance. For some considerable time England has found herself in this crazy position, in this living absurdity. When as a necessary consequence of such a situation, production is subject to greater fluctuations, then the alteration of boom and slump (bust), overproduction and slump, (bust) sets in”
Currently there is numerous accounts of the contradictions and fallings of the capitalist system, such critiques will continue to be presented for as long as capitalism, in its current form, continues to function, but what would be a true act would be for the left to move away from such a dynamic, and purely formulate a way to live outside the contours of a critique of capitalism. The most prominent critique of this era would seem to be Naomi Klein Shock’s Doctrine, where she systematically attributes all the horrendous contradictions, decisions and consequences of the catastrophe of Capitalism. What would be ideal in situations of global fragility would be to re-appropriate the way we engage with capitalist proponents and the system itself, this is the area where we need to be preparing the battle ground. A revolution may be caused through great unrest, caused from an expansive disenchantment with the ruling order, but what truly matters is the events after the revolution. To make an event after the revolution, ‘the true event’, the left needs more than just a critique of where capitalism went wrong but a new agenda of how we can move forward in such a way that would engineer a functioning emacipatory global civility. It must be recognised here that revolution cannot happen in isolation, for the Arab springs to be successful they all need to combine their new orders in co-operative with other Arab uprising and combine their efforts to construct new societies. And if those in Greece end up causing the biggest upset in European history and stage a full scale revolution then this will only work if Spain and other European states follow.
Owen Jones and his contemporary analysis critiquing the way the phrase ‘Chavs’ has been appropriated by ruling elitist discourse, has laid bare the way class functions in British society. What is more pertinent than the fact that ‘Chavs’ is derogatory terminology which, in the words of Owen’s book Subtitle, “demonises the working class”, this functioning goes further than its immediate cognitive function, it suggests a deeper psychoanalytic consequence: on the surface those who are working class are made to believe that they are of lesser worth than a bourgeoisie, and so do not want to be deemed ‘Chavs’, or more precisely worker! What, in effect, this means is that there is disillusionment amongst the workers of Britain of the potential they hold to escape this demonization and embrace their true reality, which would surely lead to a new class consciousness and class appropriation, or rather class re-appropriating its position.
That fact that they are not an equal in the domineering cultural agenda, where it is believed that those with wealth and possessions are worthy of their circumstance and that those without are ‘lesser’ people of not having. Incidentally and crucially the wealthy have attained such wealth in the past couple of decades through the invention of credit given to the workers, which turned out to be a false economy as we saw in the credit collapse in 2008. This has caused a double blow to the workers. Not only have they been coerced into accumulating large debts as a result of bankers deceiving its customers into believing that the credit was entirely legitimate and stable, but also their mantra that wealth trickles down was for a time deceiving many workers to believe, that capitalism is a system that works, creating a scenario where no longer would a working class exist, we can all be wealthy now, a dream the working classes clearly bought. But which has only truly been a mechanism for the rich to smother their wealth and power in their envious capacities of nothingness.
Never before has there been a more justified time for the rise of an authentic left. A left which would recognise now is the time to re-appropriate the contours of history! Owen Jones and his latest book goes some way towards a step in the direction of a left wing re-appropriation not only of history but of the reins of the future. We need to direct our lives against the contours of capitalist appropriation of the way things seem and the way they are and fight the system not within the liberal framework laid down by capitalism, but by undermining its functioning, whilst continuing to mobilise for strike action an integral part of the left, a dynamic which needs no re-appropriation!