Thursday, 21 July 2011

Communism for the 21st century

To understand what it means to be a communist is of great importance today. We do not have a proper understanding; the view widely accepted is highly controversial. It is seen as a destructive force which, once challenged this global capitalist world and shook it to its core. Stalin was and will remain a catastrophe of the past. He lived as a corrupt gangster and brute during his youth and was a brutally ruthless mercenary dictator till his death and beyond 

The contours of the question what does it mean to be a communist today is interesting... three hypothesis lie within: 
  1. That Communism was an intrinsic result of the type of Marxian political economy that emerged under Stalin and any movement trying to implement such theories into reality will result in a Stalin figure, or rather even if Lenin had survived or Trotsky had managed to come to power, similar results would have occurred. 
  2. That Stalin distorted the political economic maxims of Marxism and thus what occurred under the rule of Stalin was a horrific distortion and resulted in the worst human catastrophe of the 20th century. 
  3. Or  That the type of socialism created was doomed from the start. The wrong questions were being asked which resulted in total catastrophe.
The message that the third hypothesis teaches us is that, the left that existed at that time were fighting for the same things we fight for today, to end the class struggle, a struggle which necessitates a redefinition of the spheres of politics and economics, which ultimately means a new socio-structural engagement which deals with the current global structuring of the world. From the UN, IMF, EU, ASEAN, to state to state relations, and fundamentally, the way person to person social environments are constructed.

Today across much of the world gated communities exist, separating bourgeois affluence from proletarian slums. The construct of Western states is such that its citizens are not capable of engaging with the ways their state functions, as seen from the limited capabilities of the state to enact upon bankers or the Murdock Mafia .The true sentiment of the people, is not transferred from common sentiment into reality for one fundamental reason. The British establishment is structured in such a way as to literally cater for bourgeois capitalists in a brutally efficient manner, from upper-class schooling segregation to internships and beyond, it’s a section of society where social relations can only function through an incestuous nature and in particular the ways in which our conceptions of what is best in the world have been distorted to such an extent that there is a hegemonic hold over what our world is, and should be.

Our contours have been manipulated to sustain the global social domination of those who do not represent the majority. Is not this the task and the purpose of living to live in a world which, exists for and of itself, to not subscribe to any big other? Should not this be what we as a species strive for? There is only one majority and that is - all those who subscribe to class struggle.

Capitalist neo-liberalism is a perverse distortion of human relations and should be opposed if humans really wish to achieve a society which exists for the whole and to strive for a society in which society intuitively enacts a higher civilisation than the West inhabits today. Surely this is not radically different vision from the mission capitalism embodies. The false purpose of capitalism is to have a higher society for the rich; as such to completely dismember and rebuild human social productive capacities, to completely re-imagine the ways in which a political economy can be re-structured in such a way as to truly cater for the mass of society thus reaching a high civilisation, this is the pure and ultimate transition for capitalism, it is the next step.

Problems within capitalism are endemic and although capitalism is resilient and able to transform itself, to engulf what it needs and when, suggesting its power to be a true force - this is where the danger lies. What we have learnt over the past decade is that capitalism becomes ever more restricted in times of ‘terror’ and ever more limited in times of financial crisis. The end result is an ever-increasing authoritarian character which would seem to be, at this epoch in history, the only way to sustain growth, and maintain the current status quo for the megalomaniac bourgeois. It must not be under stated that the West has learnt this lesson from East and South East Asia; China, Singapore, Indonesia and so on. China is a supposedly crude Communist state but they have shown the world how to be ruthlessly efficient Capitalists. The cut back of the welfare state and social institutions here in Britain are the emerging signals of this new type of economy. The futures not bright and it is China. China are currently colonising Africa. I would rather the West take the recourses of Africa than the Chinese government, or rather Africa would actually what to sell its resources to the West rather than to China.

But here ends the of story capitalism. It is all too predictable, how capitalism has engulfed its worshipers to believe that to hold an indifference stance to political economy then they are somehow devoid of responsibility, in other words it is a fallacy to think that being non-ideological implies no ideological stance! On the contrary it is exactly the opposite. To dismiss ideology is acceptance of the dominating ideology, neo liberal capitalism. Now comes a huge dose of the fetishist disavowal, I know very well BUT.

This is the embodiment of the limits of the true lack in western civilisation; it’s complete inability to recognise its revolutionary potential. The system is running on default, the current structures of western economies have failed and are beginning to de-scale all the real vestiges of western civilisation, the arts. The transformation of universities should be the clearest sign that what policies are being enacted upon the population are destructive and violent, all in the name of making money, what will a philosopher earn? a novelist? a Sociologist? If one cannot see beyond this form of perverse wealth then one is truly lacking. Subjects are now all about specialising for specific ways to fix a specific problem. You do this one intricate niesh degree so that you can stop a gap leaking in the matrix. This is not what we should be doing when our civilisation is continuously driving strait past turn offs to a world where communism is the establishment of a new idea, to strive for a radical new re-evaluation of humanity, whilst always bearing the scar of Stalin and that this mission has the potential to go disastrously wrong, it is for this reason that the name communism should be attached to the radical left. 

The acceptance of our current circumstances and inability to imagine a world far better than the reality humanity inhibits is to be no member of the class struggle, and as such a regressive actor in the progression of civilisation.

Sunday, 17 July 2011

In Response to Alan Johnson

This Article has been written in response to an Article By Alan Johnson In the Jacobin Magazine found here To understand the context of this post please read this link, if not the post still should make sense.

I have come across Alan Johnsons writings before and his critique of Zizek is typical of this article. What frustrates me immediately is the absence of referencing to all the quotes he uses, as I’d like to see the full context. It is easy to pick something Zizek says and attack his work without fully understanding what he means. 

Alan Johnson is picking and choosing what theories of Lenins he approves of whilst not offering Zizek the same grounds completely dismissing Zizeks works out right; I don’t think that this is acceptable.

If he wishes to be consistent all theoreticians have aspects of work which have many empirical truths in them whether we like it or not. Off the top of my head, take Fukuyama as an example. I completely disagree with his analysis but what he is saying should be understood as a legitimate argument. I do agree that it is important to understand the pit falls particularly in Zizek who does construe jargon throughout his works, but the beauty of jargon is that in many cases is it a puzzle waiting to be unravelled and the nature of jargon is that it often holds different messages for different people. This aspect of theory particularly interests me as opposed to being something that is snobbery, and is thus nothing to be afraid of, and I feel the interjection of it is some of the best writings of Zizek. Take his approach to religion as an example. Although what he does with religion is controversial if an atheist sees no absolute value in religious text, but if it is to be understood as offering ‘value’ then inferences to religion can be suggested, such as; when Jesus died on the cross (Jesus in this instance is the embodiment of god and not Jesus the prophet), that it was no longer the case that people need to pray to god because he is dead. And so it is no longer that we should trust god (as he is dead) but that the death of god meant that god trust us, and so WE ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR OUR OWN ACTIONS. There is no redemption or forgiveness! As Zizek says “There is no big Other telling you what your duty is... it is up to you to come up with what your duty is.

On democracy thinking that zizek is anti-democracy is wrong in an abstract sense. When he is critiquing democracy as the greatest of all evils he is trying to encourage a debate over the real possibility of society ordering itself in a much more radical manner not yet conceived. Society is often and in this instance all too willing to maintain the way things function, as this is form of democratic organisation is what we know as opposed to approaching the much more difficult task of trying to conceive ‘radical new modes of social production’. In my understanding, if what would form as a result of taking a Zizekian approach would turn out to be a dictatorship suppressing and maiming the world population, then Zizek would see this as “an absolute failure” and far from the message he, somewhat awkwardly, tries to convey.

I would also mention here that I recently read a collaborative book called Democracy in What state?​cracy-State-Directions-Cri​tical-Theory/dp/0231152981 and I would like to write the closing paragraph:

When Rosa Louxembourg wrote that “dictatorship consists in the way in which democracy is used and not in its absolution,” her point was not that democracy is an empty frame that can be used by different political agents (Hitler also came to power through – more or less –free democratic elections), but that there is a “class bias” inscribed into this very empty (procedural) frame. That is why when radical leftists came to power through elections, their signe de reconnaissance is that they move to “change the rules”, to transform not only electoral and other state mechanisms but also the entire logic of the political space (relying directly on the power of the mobilised movements; imposing different forms of local self-organisation; etc.) to guarantee the hegemony of their base, they are guided by the right intuition about the “class bias” of the democratic form.

This is far from the simple assumption that Zizek dismisses democracy.

On Violence I do feel that the Liberal message of peaceful revolution and radical social change whether in the form of a workers democracy or a communist realisation would most necessarily end result in some form of violence. It is ignorant to believe that no violence would occur in the event of such an act. And so it is right of Zizek to contextualise that very possibility and to theoritise over the meaning and outcome of such inevitabilities. If such scenarios where to take place we must not cower over the reality that it was a good message turned bad and so therefore failed from the start but to move on with the understanding that violence is, whether humans like it or not, part and parcel of what it means to be a human. This is not to suggest that systematic violence, such as the atrocities caused by Stalin and Hitler is the same as the violence that occurred during the 1917 Russian revolution, and to jump slightly, it is not the same violence as domestic abuse, violence indeed needs to be contextualised and understood, it is not a topic that we can dismiss or claim not to be an inherent occurrence in the human social edifice!

An article by Zizek article in the same issue of the Jacobin Magazine​er-2011/the-jacobin-spirit​/ is a good accompaniment to this article. 

Whilst I recognise the need for these types of Zizeks works, as Zizek is indeed as this article suggests lurking in the realms of the unknown, a theoretical arena of how to come to terms with the mission to overhaul the current organisms of neo-liberal capitalism, and how to re-appropriate them if the revolution was to occur. I am very aware of the dangers that lurk in zizeks writing, as the task he sees is an empty space where conceptions for a new society, as he puts it, a blank paper have yet to be created and this is a dangerous almost taboo area to be dealing with. So it is only natural for people like Alan Johnson to view Zizek in this misconstrued way, a result of which leads me to conclude that he fails in his, necessary critique.