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Robert Allen
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I know why Obama "lost" the debate. First of all, remember awhile back when the Republicans invited Obama to their "retreat" whereupon he proceeded to mop the floor with an entire roomful of Republicans including John Mcain to the point where Fox News had to cut the feed-- the debate loss was an "Okie Doke", prison slang for a "fix is in", it was done on purpose. It was not a case of Obama being "too polite" or professorial or a "conciliator". I saw the odious Diane Sawyer asking Michelle Obama about whether there was "solidarity" among bourgeois candidate's wives and her affirmative response underlined what I already suspected since Obama's comment about wanting to be simply a "good one term president": his allegiance is to a class, the same class Romney's is, and that is the lesson of the most Marxist confirming debate I have bothered to witness. When Obama agreed with Romney about social security, he slapped all his cheerleaders and ardent supporters in the face in an attempt to lure the last thin sliver of undecided (i.e conservative leaning) voters into his camp, arrogantly thinking the election was in the bag. It was simply a bad chess move. The notion that Obama didn't want to seem an "angry Black man" is the opiate of a deluded liberal intelligentsia, the fallback excuse to obscure Obama's class allegiance, the "structural issue" Henwood asserts.
Wrote this on my blog as a note to self, although an imprecise note, "flip side" seems inaccurate: Listening to Jodi Dean discuss the "communist horizon" I had an epiphany about my recent epiphany concerning my melancholy vis a vis my financials etc. Previously I'd concluded that my humiliations and failures over a lifetime were not CHARACTER DEFECTS and I took comfort in the knowledge I have done the best I can and I am better off than many who have much more to complain about. But I only had it half right: yes, there were no character defects, but newly, the melancholy is a function of the cult of individualism that I live and breathe in which is capitalist society! The jouissance of feeling ":better off" is the flip side of the built in ideological bias against the class of working masses-- the situation of myself as opposed to the social Other, the antithesis of the communist hypothesis which posits the subject as "part of no part", as integrally situated in a social whole, i.e. the 99 percent, the working, dispossessed exploited class.
Interesting he was compelled to qualify himself as not a socialist.
Chris Hedges is less politically incoherent than his detractors for this reason: Any appearance of violence will turn off the great masses who need to be convinced it is right and good to join the resistance and grow the movement. Far left critiques which talk of the "mindsest of the bourgeoisie" seem to be nitpicking; Hedges may be wrong on the details but right about managing the message to the masses who still respect the cops. We must go to war not with the Boy Scouts of our choosing, but the Boy Scouts we have....
David Graeber's response to Hedges was key to my change of mind, I was too quick to defend him; as Lenin said "the workers are 100 times to the left of us (Bolsheviks)", although from my perch as a privileged worker it may not seem so, surrounded by Ron Paulites and other backward "middle class" aspirant white workers. I am flummoxed by the interpretation, or misinterpretation, of Graeber's awesome in my view "99 % vs 1%" slogan, as it seems awfully germaine to all this: does Occupy interpret the slogan, not as an expression of the working class vs. the ruling class, but as an expression of the truly greedy 1% vs everybody else, including a working class/petit bourgeois alliance? Louis Proyect's erstwhile pals, the SWP, bash Occupy with this charge which seems substantial, and yet I sense Graeber meant a more straightforward meaning. Can anybody help shed light on this? I defended the slogan to SWP cadre as "just a slogan", albeit a great one but they somehow pull a sow's ear out of this silk purse. And until the Hedges flap and its defense of anarchism generally, Occupy has done nothing to show any intention of challenging capitalism in its rhetoric (I dont think you can defend anarchism without challenging capitalism but I could be wrong there too).
I found Diane Gee's article on Wild Wild Left wildly idiotic except for the line about "non violent fundamentalism". It is good that Black Bloc is bringing class conflict back to the fore, taking the stage away from the peaceniks who have infested our Occupy group with blather about "corporatism" instead of denouncing capitalism in terms of class conflict. Shooting the messenger Chris Hedges, however, when he points out that Black Bloc idiocy will turn away the support of the masses just when it was within our reach, is astounding however, especially gross is connecting Hedges with the cancer that killed her husband. Extremely offensive; I am appalled that people would buy into such complete shit, and the above article, with its hissing anger at Hedges, is also ignorant in the narrow sense of the word-- as a revolutionary socialist I am for all out class warfare, and everybody knows the police are mean,, but to attack Hedges as if HE is the one dividing the movement is well, dare I say kind of idiotic and ignorant, though I would wish for a kinder choice of words but there don't seem to be any.
Zeitgeist is yet another vaguely rightist conspiracy theory movement which emphasizes 0/11 truth, international bankers, etc. It has a documentary associated with it, it is vaguely atheistic, "Jesus is a myth" etc. I think there is an opportunity to change people's minds; the "libertarians" do not have a well thought out political line except for the diehard Paulbots who've got Paul's liberal policies ready to copy and paste in each Facebook thread where the subject comes up. But there is a false equivalency I notice, and a real equivalency at once: Socialist or Marxian theory seems as remote and alien, even though it is based on fact and real material conditions, as the Zietgiest and Ron Paul malarkey seems, that is, the Bilderbergers and Illuminati based anti semitic bunk from the fifties competes and wins against the communist hypothesis but it's not much of a victory: while Paul continues to do fairly well, one cannot imagine, for example, the wider electorate not rolling its eyes at mention of the secret society controlling everything behind the scenes. In other words, it is almost a good thing the conspiracy theory stuff only catches on with a certain layer of would be John Galts. The bad news is how the movement has edged out, or marginalized, Marxism or the socialist groups themselves have abstained from OWS for the reasons you've mentioned, to the point where conspiracy nonsense holds sway in discourse, or at least background chatter, where the questioning of capitalism itself should be being discussed. In some ways, Paul's "liberal" foriegn policy has become just another liberal bullet point like all the others in a movement driven by a loose sense of petty bourgeois discontent-- I wonder sometimes why I support a movement that includes, or I should use prison slang and say I don't want to "get in the car with", Ron Paulites, Gene Sharp and Silicon Valley "entrepreneuers", as with the SOPA/PIPA business, i.e. the spectacle of incredibly two faced libertarians who don't mind stealing unless it is done to them. A good friend from California warned me, a mid westerner who heretofore knew few liberals, that if I ever found a clique of actual liberals, I might recoil from them after seeing them in action and now I see what he meant, kind of.
Toggle Commented Jan 22, 2012 on Occupy Wall Street and the Left at I cite
you know you're doing something right when you're damned with this faint of praise- at least you "made clear" the connection between OWS and Marxism!
Toggle Commented Nov 30, 2011 on Running Chicken: Occupation and Revolution at I cite
"This is a media war". well then it was lost before it began, as the ruling class owns the media. My priveleged white co workers let the media tell them what to think. It is in the OWS camp where human solidarity and real action for systemic change plays out; I guess what I'm saying is "local support" means support from petit bourgeois aspirant white homeowners with all their fetishes who do not favor any real revolutionary change as long as Dancing with the Stars is on. The OWS movement is both a reaction by petit bourgeois layers to the crisis AND a petit bourgeois liberal do gooder-led movement, hence the mantra about non violence and the misguided tropes about reform with its nebulous airy-fairyness. Beneath the surface however, we have some new militant young rebels in those tents ready to fight, along with homeless and marginalized folks who are sincerely depending on this movement to deliver for them in real, urgent ways. The degree that violence as a tactic is used may be determined by material conditions as the class continues to move. Handwringing of the type E.J. Dionne purveys is the default postion of garden variety liberals. I hope this thing spins out of their control, and it very well may....
Toggle Commented Nov 22, 2011 on Lessons from the Crackdown (Counterpunch) at I cite
Two nights ago at a rather cold (the city refuses to allow any heat source in the OWS encampment here in Des Moines) meeting of the Messaging Committee, one of my co workers and I proudly volunteered to put our names on a statement of purpose- type newspaper article, though it wasn't necessary as others stepped forward, but we felt confident to do that because we are covered under ironclad Teamster union contract such that we can't be fired for such public statements but others do have to worry-- "at will" employees, which means just about all non union workers, can be fired literally at will with no recourse for any reason. So yes, worry....
The GA's in Des Moines are too awful to watch; the anarchist types have been hippie punched out of the picture and liberal dogooders control the agenda (plus a few plain control freaks with no discernable politics), no, it's all about me and this geography, it doesn't matter how awful their stated politics, it is about the space thats' been carved AWAY from banal neoliberalism, and simply occupying it- I wrote this poem about it: Occupation Forces sometimes it's a good thing there's no there there so you can get on with the good things in life my co workers jumbled together then torn apart in the anarchy of the wake of our disciplined time together we barely touch because I don't reveal much of myself and they, trapped in ideology's netherworld, preoccupied, are so fucked in the head they talk and think the other person is listening but they are lost in their own private there was no there with my fat jeebus whore sisters there is no there with my in laws and no there with my privileged white job no there with my deer hunting racist friend or my rightwing henpecked buddy who said rightly I was a socialist who'd never survive in a kibbutz all no there there is the occupation there is the fight for socialism there is my body in the fight life is good right wing thugs beat up the guy in the wheelchair on security detail one late night he had to go to the hospital I helped put up tents and makeshift insulated flooring gonna be a bad winter it felt good to work against capitalism instead of for it
Toggle Commented Nov 9, 2011 on The Tyranny of Consensus --Mark Read at I cite
What a great story. Amazing how "politics", or the question of capitalism, is taboo while Christians can participate in this pagan sort of holiday with impunity from the powers that be.
Daniel, I'm amazed at your command of historical materialism, much like Ward Churchill was amazed at the concern of bourgeois pundits' response to "Chickens Coming Home to Roost" wherein he made his infamous Little Eichmanns" remark about WTC victims: "I didn't know there were so many Marxists in New York, (suddenly) concerned about the fate of poor and working people".
Ron Paulites are the useful idiots of this movement. Some people really are that stupid. They work hard and have no clue this is an anticapitalist movement run by petty bourgeois liberals. Until they start donning jackboots and little mustaches, I say use 'em.
Let's play a little OWS movement poker: I'll see what you learned in NYC and raise you what I learned in Des Moines Iowa, check out this Chris Farley soundalike's soapbox closer! http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=3KcNlPbg1vg I don't think Doug Henwood need worry about a "flame out"; these folk are hungry and ready for a long fight.
http://louisproyect.wordpress.com/2011/10/16/thoughts-on-zizeks-the-idea-of-communism-conference/#comments I'd like to see you fire back against this criticism of you but won't blame you if you didn't bother considering the source, a guy who wimped out of the Socialist Worker's Party's 70's industrial turn (a turn which I never made cuz I never joined, but I do support the party warts and all-- and besides I've always already been an industrial worker but that's beside the point)and has spent the rest of his life grousing about it from his perch at a Columbia University IT department. Not that he isn't worth reading though...
I visited the Occupy Iowa campsite at 2:00 am, when I got off work and helped put up a tent with a young Justin Beiber lookalike and an older woman wearing a hajib. Then I jammed with a long haired kid who claims to be a "street performer" (he's licensed, he tells me)on guitar and banjo. I kind of got the vibe that these were mostly unemployed or underemployed highly educated,very articulate young people. I caught myself trying to impart my knowledge of political theory, which I think is limited but solid enough, to them but I pulled back because I was in awe of two things: one, they are finding their way just fine and I was almost forty before I was radicalized, and here these kids are experienceing this sort of revolutionary moment half a lifetime sooner than me. I'm like, not worthy! Two, and this is huge, for the last 15 years since I was radicalized, when I go to a political rally or demonstration, everybody's from out of town, they come in buses, etc and it's kind of hokey. But these people were all locals! WTF? I get that they have sort of unorthodox, possibly futile methods and some have ideas that capitalism could be reformed instead of overthrown (although there was an anarchist streak in this crowd a mile wide) but the fact that they are LOCALS is something brand new to me. This is real! Very exciting.
Winer's "Emersonian" self reliance talk is what is wrong with the American psyche.. I blame the suppression of Marxism and the valorization of anti-Marxism that somehow gets privileged workers to identify with, and empathize with, their exploiters. Unpacking this stuff is what Jodi does best... Am I the only one who's sick of the Steve Jobs love fest?
My first reaction was disbelief when I read a fawning libertarian diatribe in support of OWS. On further reflection, I think this is way more problematic for the rightist Paulites than it is for us. Or rather, the Ron Paul nuts, if they hang around long, will create problems for their corporate masters simply because their understanding of the world is so ridiculously flawed, tuned by talk radio zealots who have convinced a huge layer of people that wall street's collusion with the government equals socialism somehow. This can only backfire for them as this process unfolds.
Toggle Commented Oct 5, 2011 on The struggle to occupy #occupywallstreet at I cite
Ironies abound here, but I'll focus on the question, what if the anarcho-kids and the unemployed were the same? And what if the resistance to capitalism and its police brutality was the same here as in Egypt? I mean, should we all relax in front of TV )"stuck at home") and not raise hell because things aren't as bad here as they are in Egypt, yet? This is the atomization Marx was addressing in his notion of the "narrow horizon of bourgeois right" (ideology convinces each of us that we do't have a right to complain, since we are better off than a neighbor, etc.)only in a new context.
I'd pay forty and call it a bargain. Can't they invent a smarm filter for blog comments?
Not that I'm a big expert on this (and say so to my everlasting shame, btw), but anyone reading this and planning to attend any sort of protest, which I hope is alot (wish I could be there): Do not underestimate the possibility of police antagonism, that is, in Chicago I saw very agressive cop behavior. They will do stuff like "mean mug" you, like thrust their nightsticks at you and try to elicit a response from you. Stay with your friends, don't let them catch you alone or even lagging behind to watch a cop beat down of some young Black Block type such that you are detached from a larger crowd segment. They will actually taunt you with agressive body movements, while they march along in formation beside you. Do not take the bait. This is collective action, they've got you (right where they want you) when you start to resist as an individual in a big crowd setting. They can really hurt you. This is the point we've come to folks, it requires bravery and self discipline. I salute all the protesters and wish I could be there.
Buy them a cup of coffee, tell them you appreciate what they're doing, talk a little politics, introduce yourself as a political science professor, and refer 'em to your blog. You don't really have a party apparatus to try and absorb them into ala the SWP, so that's the most you could do for now,, I think.
The only good that can come from this is the workers begin to realize the forces of the bourgeois state arrayed against them, and the longer it goes on the more politically conscious most of them will become. A few will be radicalized enough to go into local politics as Democratic activists, maybe a handful will go over to socialist consciousness like I did. Facing the company thugs and police riot squads really sharpens your awareness of your political class standing. What is new/old is the complete snubbing of the unions by the Obama administration (unions must "embrace reforms..where needed") such as I'd noticed either Mondale or Dukakis told the UAW "things couldn't go on as they have in the pasT" just before he lost to Reagan. First time trajedy , next time farce?
Do you think the Militant and other papers have similar effects? Well from the SWP's standpoint, selling the paper is a way of getting out and pressing the flesh, in "meatspace" if you will- they pride themselves, again rightly or wrongly, on not being a group that emphasizes the internet or other passive means to relate to the working class (they sell at antiwar demos, plant gates, even door to door in working class and Latino neighborhoods) and secondly, the Bolsheviks had a paper and they consider themselves political descendants of the Bolsheviks, with some foundation to it ..alas, hawking papers isn't in my DNA, and their history of unfair expulsions leave me chagrined to say the least but I respect them for turning me on to the truth about how the world really is and the audacious idea that I can do something about it. (I must add I've even been snubbed by some of them for not joining the party, though that was long ago)... http://www.solidarity-us.org/node/3317 is an interesting critical article on the SWP
Toggle Commented Aug 8, 2011 on No Space discussion of communist horizon at I cite