“The working class will acquire the sense of the new discipline, the freely assumed self-discipline of the Social Democracy, not as a result of the discipline imposed on it by the capitalist state, but by extirpating, to the last root, its old habits of obedience and servility.”–Rosa Luxemburg
Bernie Sanders’ reformist welfare state capitalism is not, in any way, shape, or form socialist, let alone Marxist. His way is just a prettier repackaging of neoliberalism for desperate Millennials emeeging from the warm nest of the post-WWII capitalist bubble into the cold reality of late-stage capitalism in crisis.
Sanders & his ilk seek to improve the material conditions of the middle, and to a much lesser extent, working classes WITHOUT addressing the system which creates and will continue to create the conditions seeking to be reformed.
Sanders’ kabuki theater “revolution” is a essentially a morphine drip for the petty bourgeois Millennials who are the first generation in the advnced post-industrial west to experiance the full savagry of late stage-capitalism in crisis. His policies would make the current generation more comfortable with their misery under the current system, and would have as a consequence the INTENSIFICATION AND PROLONGATION of the crisis and its’ attendent woes & brutalities. Only the overthrow of the capitalist system and its replacement with communism will ameliorate the condition of the working classes & disintegrate the class barriers that stratify society. Sanders is a new coat of paint on the walls of the same old reformist blind alley.
No More Nation States, for they are nothing but Kings without Crowns
No More Bankers, for they are nothing but thieves in $5000 suits
No More World Bank, for it is nothing but a caviar munching cartel
No More Austerity, for it is nothing but a scorched earth invasion without soldiers
No More Fascism, for it is the greatest perversion of politics ever conceived of by humans
No More Corporations, for they are Frankenstein Monsters assembled from the wealth of the People
No More Politicians, for they are nothing but a wall between The People and Power
No More Free Market Capitalism, for it is a death cult that feeds upon the dreams and labor and needs of humanity
No More Military, for the people can defend themselves
No More War, for it is just capitalism by violent means
This is A Coup!
And We Will Replace Austerity With Justice!
The following is an excerpt from an essay I am working on about the end of capitalism. Enjoy!
We forget, often and with deleterious consequences for the public intellectual exchange, that capitalism, or, a system designed for or in sympathy with an economy of exchange of goods for services and the requisite institutions private and public thereof, has no ideological leaning. Systems of capitalism, first colonial, then industrial, and now digital as well as industrial, have always sought to ingratiate themselves with the powers that be, so to speak. Capitalist economies have survived, and even thrived, under republican, democratic socialist, authoritarian and even totalitarian regimes. The pursuit of wealth in material forms as well as in the form of stock, cash, and credit, seems to be a uniquely human disorder. It is telling that in the mind of many a human there is a moment of consideration of making a profit by destroying human life before one comes to ones senses. Capitalism, in the form it inevitably takes when it is hindered only by the most token of regulation, is an economic philosophy of the sociopath and for the sociopath.
This is not in and of itself a bad thing; no product of human thought is “bad” or “good”. There is only relative consequences, for good or evil, that stem from people acting consciously or unconsciously in service of a philosophy. But history and the very structure and morality of capitalism in the real world show that capitalism allows far too many avenues for those who wish to exploit others for profit to do so. At the moment in the United States a conservative and proto-fascistic political party known as the Republicans represent the interests of capital. But it was not always this way. Capitalism benefited under the rule of such liberal paragons as FDR and JFK. Capitalism is an ideological chameleon, metamorphosing from one political shade to another, depending on circumstances.
Ukraine and Russia are at war, but it is not for the reasons you have been told. The issue is not Vladimir Putin being the second coming of Hitler and wanting to conquer all of Eastern Europe, nor is the problem a western backed cabal of capitalists and neofascists pushing Ukraine into a symbiotic relationship with the West. Both those things may be, and probably are, true to one degree or another, but both are SYMPTOMS of a larger, deeper, and more profound problem: Nationalism.
Nationalism is the irrational belief that the geography of a region has something to do with the moral and existential merit of a people or group of people. It is represented in superstitious worship of national symbols like flags and songs, irrational hatred for those deemed by the leadership to be “enemies”, a paranoid belief that other nations and groups are “out to get us”. Oftentimes this nationalism leads a population to follow its leaders blindly into misguided military (and social/economic) adventures that lead to death, destruction, and privation for the population itself and for victims in other nations. Nationalism is a disease that in its metastasized state can become Imperialism, the complete subordination of the economic, cultural, military, and intellectual engines of the state to the whims of a power structure that wishes to expand its power, and its markets, over as much of the world as possible. The chief imperial states today consist of the United States, Russia, the European Union and China, with many regional “great powers” who dominate others on a smaller geographic or demographic scale. Each Imperial state was born of a certain strain of nationalism, each has its own national mythology and belief in its own exceptionalism, and each wishes to extend and expand its power and reach over other nations and peoples. The Ukrainian-Russian War is not a war of “democracy” vs “tyranny” or “right” vs “left” or “capitalism” vs “socialism”, it is a war between an imperial state, Russia, trying to reclaim a territory on its borders that it sees as part of its cultural, economic, and political “manifest destiny”, and the emerging nation state of Ukraine, which wishes to join the imperial sphere of the US/EU alliance and to assert itself as a regional power in its own right.
The war in eastern Ukraine is like all wars since the advent of the nation state: a bloody conflict declared by powers that be of two (or more) nations and executed by the people of those respective nations. The aim is national expansion or at least national preservation. By “national” read the state, its mechanisms and markets, and its conception of the people living within its borders. The people fight the war not because it is in their direct interest to do so, but because the powers that be have made an argument, or a declaration, that the “other” is the existential enemy of the people of “our” nation, and that to let them win would be to destroy all that is loved and cherished by the people. It is a sort of emotional blackmail that leads people who otherwise would have no stake in such a foolish conflict to give their lives for the national “cause”.
The powers that be in nation states are themselves guided by the powers that be within the power structure of the larger imperial states and the corporations and interests who depend on them and who support them. In this case Russia, under a nationalistic and paranoid leader, wishes to expand his power base and sphere of influence and to make himself look like a conquering hero to the people and the elites of his nation. This is also based in an all too Russian fear of being invaded and dominated by other powers. They are pitted against an pragmatic alliance of the US and EU Imperial systems, who are attempting to absorb Ukraine into the Neoliberal economic sphere and the Neoconservative military and cultural paradigm. Stuck in the middle is the smaller, but no less nationalistically driven, state of Ukraine, which after being dominated by Russia for centuries is now taking tentative steps towards creating its own national mythology and mission. There is no “right side” in this conflict, and there is no “winner” possible; the outcome will be one Imperial State or another gaining temporary advantage in the great chess game that is international affairs, while the people will suffer the consequences. There is nothing “radical” or “new” or “21st Century” about this war. Imperial states have always used proxies to fight, they have always stoked ethnic and national tensions in target nations, and they have always tried to manipulate the media message in their favor. The only thing that is different now is the technology involved and the paranoia and anxiety of a world that is slowly beginning to realize that nationalism and free market capitalism are the two evils that are turning the world into a hell-scape for most of its residents.
The ambitions of Imperial states often culminate in world wide, or region wide, conflict. This has happened ever since the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars and continues to the present day. We have not seen a calamitous, world wide conflict since the end of the Second World War, but that does not mean it cannot, or will not, happen. Events such as those transpiring in Ukraine point to the fact that the world is still in thrall to the religion that is nationalism. Until we realize that we must unite as PEOPLE and not as NATIONS in order to reject the idea of separateness and profit over people we will never be able to “solve” or “win” conflicts like that in Ukraine. There are no winners in the great game of nationalism, only profiteers and power brokers.
Every child born into the American state can expect a life of frustrating and stultifyingly meaningless labor, the rewards for which will be ever diminishing returns and ever less security and comfort. That is of course if they are unbelievably lucky. More than likely that American child will become an American adult who will languish at different levels of the welfare state and struggle with debt that has no end because it is structured to be unending and to reinforce the economic status quo. This can almost be assured if that child is female, black, an undocumented immigrant or child of the same or disabled in some way. There is no future for an American child but inertia punctuated by dehumanizing toil rewarded with regressively structured compensation. The American system is collapsing into a Thatcher-esque privatized lassiez faire wonderland for he who find excitement and profit in exploiting and stealing the products labor of his fellow man. Such is the American system after the New Deal era.
I sincerely believe the last real chance we had for top down institutional change came and went with the first and second Franklin Roosevelt administrations. The the alphabet soup of socialist workers programs like the NRA, WPA, TVA, the Fair Labor Standards Act, CWA and the CCC. Under Roosevelt and the auspices of the Great Depression of 1929 a true top down statist socialist society was attempted. We will never know if that project would have succeeded; the Supreme Court and The Second World War saw to that.
Since that time there has be an creeping marketization of the entire apparatus of American welfare, labor, economics, and culture. The default position for the American political theology has become self-aggrandizement and profit for profit’s sake. If a problem cannot be solved by the free market then it is not a problem it is a consequence of the craven laziness of the workers of America. There is no love of labor in America. There is only the dollar. The time has come for each American, each human being, to define success and prosperity by his or her own standards and to fight any system that abuses or ignores these standards. We cannot depend upon a democratic system that now caters exclusively to corporate and capitalist interests. If a representative system no longer represents the interests of the working and bleeding and striving classes then it is no longer a representative system and must be rejected. The liberals are not going to save you, the Democrats will not, and surely the Republicans will not. If you are waiting for a change to this system from the political classes and their institutions, well, to paraphrase Lennon and McCartney you better start changing your mind instead.
In America all too often to identify oneself is to indemnify oneself against the wrongs and crimes done by our ilk in the past. White America has convinced itself that whiteness brings with it a sort of dignity and wealth that is inherent, or at least self-evident, and this fact overrides the grievances and pain and struggle of other groups, specifically black people. No white, when it comes right down to it, will deny the privilege that comes with white skin but White America has a resentment towards those who would even suggest that privilege is unearned or built upon a foundation of violence and theft. We live in a nation built on the backs and with the blood of black slaves, on the land of Native peoples, improved with the labor of exploited and abused workers and immigrant laborers and the profits glide upwards into the pockets of those whose only hardship in life was having to decide which elite institutions one would be associated with. What began and continued as exploitation of black bodies continued into the exploitation of all bodies that had the misfortune of being born outside of the circle of inherited wealth and property. The white body politic has understood for a long time that the circle must be relaxed here and there in order to bring more people into the white “inheritance”: certain immigrants, certain economic groups, even certain people of color as long as the toed the line and gave up on justice for all and any sense of being wronged as a group. We arm ourselves against the “others” and we turn our homes into unassailable castles where there is no law and no respect for anything but our possessions and our sense of self-importance. We expected to be “protected” from…god knows what. Those who have the least to fear, fear the most, while those who have the most to lose, lose it all and are laughed at and spit upon while they lose it all. Every black body is a weapon aimed at our pure, white heart. Only an all powerful, unaccountable blue wall can save us from the fear of losing our place at the top of the pile.
As Steinbeck saw all too clearly, the American Dream (the dream of whiteness/wealth/power inherited and “earned”) is and has always been a lottery whose main purpose is to provide the illusion of meritocracy, of social mobility, of economic self-determination. Decades of government action on behalf of those who already had a centuries long head start, a welfare state for those who had all the welfare they could ever need, a bait and switch that gave the trappings of an illusory and always lily-tinted middle class to some in exchange for obscene and ever expanding wealth for the very very few who had always resided at the top. And when black or brown or female or gay or poor bodies dared speak up and question this moral foundation for the nation, dared to ask for their fair share of what they had built with their blood, sweat, toil and tears, when these wretched folk dared to make a peep the great white house on the hill, that home of the great beacon onto a dark world, would convulse with rage and self-indulgent fury. How dare those people imply we have not earned all of this largesse? How dare those people question our right to all that our forefathers gave to us, no questions asked? How dare those niggers and sluts and faggots and bums and illegals suggest that this system is anything but the most fair, the most amazing system ever created? All this self-importance, all this self-delusion, just so we can say “at least I am better than those people”, while clinging like barnacles to a luxury liner that steams ever more resolutely forwards, first class passengers popping champagne bottles and laughing at our pitiful pretensions all the way.
We sold our souls for whiteness; we sold our sense of decency, our sense of outrage, our sense of right and wrong, justice, intelligence, fair play, and brotherhood. And for what? For a chance to say that we are better because of what we own, where we live, and what we look like? We have made ourselves dunces, fools who can only nod their heads when their betters tell us who to hate and who to glorify. We vote against our own interest and the interests of our brothers and sisters and friends and family just so we can say we voted for the winners instead of “those people”. Whiteness has given us a culture of consumption and greed that eats us from the inside out like some sort of galling medieval blight. We are lepers whose only balm is the material we grasp at with fingers bloodied and broken in the fight for precious lucur and capital. Our wealth resides in things and our worth is derived from what objects we use and what people we choose to abuse in order to obtain them.
And the lies we have to tell in order to maintain this fragile facade! Decades, centuries of history distorted, edited, misplaced, erased, shoved like so much garbage down the memory hole. Every day has been remade into a relentless march forward towards this moment, this time, these purchases, these jobs, these trinkets and prizes and fixtures. In order to justify our empty consumption and greed we had to remake history into one grand and meaningless disney-fied ticker-tape parade, with white banners flying and patriotic odes sung with ever increasingly shrillness and desperation. We wanted whiteness, now we need it. We need it because what else is there? To reject our privilege, to even question it, is to look ourselves in the mirror and acknowledge all the crime and filth and dirty deeds done to our brothers and sisters. To reject whiteness is to reject the idea of America as a blameless, beautiful, god-blessed nation with nothing ahead of it but destiny and nothing behind it but laudatory deeds. But you can only deny truth and history and justice for so long before those you have stood upon, trampled over, begin to try and force you to confront reality. If we do not choose to look into ourselves we will be torn apart and forced to contemplate a shattered wreck of a body and spirit that never even gave itself a chance at decency or transcendence. The cost of whiteness is our humanity and that is a price that none of us can afford to pay.