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Buddhagem returns minus one tooth!!! The Authority Smashing! Hour
Chris Spanno’s Review of The Coming Insurrection at Z Net
Democracy Now! Reporting on Military Infiltration of SDS and other peace groups
Jonathan makes the argument that if a Green Party/Social Democratic Party came into power, they would have to “subordinate themselves to a certain degree to the balance of power in society.” He then paints this picture of doom that says either the businesses will pull out their capital, or institute a coup d’etat.
Perhaps I’m naïve, but this seems highly cynical and fearful. Even though businesses do have power, Jonathan makes them sound omnipotent. Is it really true that third parties in other countries subordinate themselves to the interests of capital? If so, then to what degree? What about all the countries in Western Europe? Don’t they have multiparty systems? Larger welfare and social services?
Sure the system isn’t perfect, but why not at least use the system to our advantage instead of expecting some improbable utopian revolution to occur? Maybe this distrust of the system, and this fear of the unknown is what enables those with wealth to get away with what they do. Maybe the fact that people are so afraid of third parties that they won’t vote for them helps to perpetuate the two-party duopoly.
I haven’t listened to the show yet and read your comment first. I feel I have to comment because this is a topic I’ve been considering for a while now.
I find that it’s often the case that socialists, even revolutionary socialists, tend to forget that green parties are subject to the same laws of the market and corporate power as any social democratic party. The reason revolutionary socialists ‘are’ revolutionaries is precisely ‘because’ they understand that the system can’t be changed from within and that the market controls the government. I can’t quite explain why they fail to apply this same logic to green parties.
If you accept, as I do, the criticisms of social-democracy, then the same principles must be adapted to green parties. Hence, if we look around some of the centre-left parties of the day, we can see that Jonathon is correct.
For example, the British Labour party (I’m British myself) was the socialist hope in the UK. Once in power, they made concession after concession to big business. Corporate tax hit an all time low, markets were further deregulated, Thatcherite policies of the past were pursued and all socialist policies were disregarded. This is despite the fact that our current Prime Minister, Gordon Brown is the former editor of the Marxist Review magazine, which should give you a clue as to his background.
The same is true of Gerhard Schroeder in Germany. In Brazil, the Communist Party is in a coalition government. Yet again, they can’t implement the policies they wish to, because the market performs capital strike or capital flight. This is a communist party!
It’s just as Chomsky says; the real power lies in the virtual parliament – the market – where one dollar represents one vote. The market’s decisions impact on our lives and there’s little a government can do about it. Therefore, if a party wants to introduce enviromental laws, but big business is against them (as big business almost always is), the government will be stopped on by those with a say in the market.
Whilst I’ve tried to explain what would happen if they ever did take power, I haven’t even approached the problem of taking power in the first place! The democratic system is designed so that they never ‘can’ take power through it. It is a system designed by capitalists in the first place. It shouldn’t be hard to demonstrate the truth in this. Look at the governments of Western countries. In Britain, it goes Tory, Tory, Labour, Tory, Labour, Labour, Tory, and has for the past 100 years (By the way, we do have a multi-party system here – but isn’t it funny that the same two faces always get in? The Liberal Democrats [Also rans] stand for the same policies as the two main parties as well). In America, you have Dem, GOP, GOP, Dem, Dem. The same in France, the same in Spain, Italy, Norway, Sweden, Australia…I could go on. Yet, people are constantly disillusioned with either of the two parties. Why is this? Because that’s how it’s designed to be.
Here’s the sad, sad truth. It IS doom and gloom. Those who attempt to make changes in the existing capitalist system, despite their good intentions, are bashing their heads off of a brick wall and will still be powerless as we all are.
My advice is that, if you care enough about the planet and the people living on it, focus all of your energy into some form of revolutionary organisation and help to lay the groundwork for the future. It’s certainly no easy option. It’s just an unfortunate necessity.
Oy, seriously, reading that review recontextualizes the book into something so anti-everything, so adolescent, so against action (that it might as well been a cop who wrote it for shits and giggles). A little crazy AlexJones corner of my head is creating fantasies at the thought that cops and other arrangements of authorities made this book, just saying “these few things that showed themselves throughout recent history to have some potential to work… don’t do any of them!!!” in utter desperation and complete awareness of the public’s pulse (such types of people knowing about the overall pulse much better than the actual people nowadays). I mean, those are very familiar anti-reformist/ anti-having-anything-to-do-with-society-at-all areas of discussion that you constantly find being discussed in dissent-ish circles, but seeing as, well, it’s basically a big “don’t do shit, citizen!” hammered on for pages and pages (and the amount teenage-ish — suburban one, at that — material, selfishness and fantasies that border on violent right wing militia fantasies)… and the attention (and even publicity) it receives (show us how it’s such a non-threat, and welcomed for many reasons).
But I did enjoyed some rare bits of insights on the overall pulse, I have to say, as a guilty confession.
Sorry for not tuning in this week guys. I’ve been suffering with one of my periodic bouts of depression this last week. Hopefully I’ll be able to pull myself out of it by next week so I’ll catch up with you all then. [/dramaqueen]
I’ve just listened to the recording and I was particularly interested in one aspect of the Dalai Lama’s recent political statement concerning the desperate need for morality to be incorporated into the state sanctioned capitalistic free market model. I would just like to say that I believe that he has a point but only insofar as states or corporations can be held directly accountable to a population who on mass have adopted wholeheartedly such a high moral stand point. It’s an idealistic argument (much in the same way that our concepts of anarchy require a large degree of humanitarian cooperation). It’s something that *might* be worth working towards or hoping for. After all, to an extent is that not what reformation of the state partly encompasses. I’ve often wondered if such a thing as “friendly capitalism” could ever work but the court is still out on that one for me as I haven’t spent that much time dwelling on it. If friendly capitalism can be shown to be impossible then does this not negate the argument for institutional reform? I think this whole topic of morality is extremely important and could make for an interesting article for a future show as I’d love to hear your views on this to a greater degree.
Finally I’d like to ask Buddhagem if he’s ever attempted to apply in any way the principals of the “eight fold path” to anarchistic thought and theory. Just randomly curious.
Anyways, catch you all next week guys. Peace.
Loved the last section,
it’s profit or people, you can’t have both.
I am a dishwasher at a local restaurant. As soon as my partner left, I said to myself, I’m going to work a little faster so by the end of my shift I would be totally finished everything (the work sometimes drags on 10 or 15 minutes overtime). Because I sped up a little bit, I managed to finish my actual responsibilities 10 minutes earlier, and spent the rest of the time doing things I (emphasis added) found useful.
After I was finished, I had the strange feeling of actually being satisfied with doing work. I went home and explained this feeling to my father. My Dad then asked how this feeling affected my political views. I then started denouncing anarchism as a crock of shit. I started saying things like quoting anarchists in a very mocking kind of way to the great amusement of my father (who by the way hates anarchism/socialism). I then said “oh these anarchists are always negative. They’re just a bunch of crybabies.” I even flat out rejected the notion of a coerced set of choices, a notion I believed in for a while. When I brought this up, my father said “life is a coerced set of choices.”
Now that I look back at some of the things I said, and thought it over, I’m like, why did I say that? What about me has changed all of a sudden to make me so passionately renounce beliefs I held so strongly? Do I really love my job that much that I would suddenly say “oh great! Aren’t I proud that I’m not a lazy bum?” Do I really believe that everything I thought for so long is all of a sudden false just because I had a “good day” at work?
Maybe it’s just I don’t feel like I’m being exploited at work. Even though I could give very articulate reasons why I actually am being exploited, it just doesn’t feel that way.
Of course now my Dad really does think I’ve discarded anarchism. But I haven’t. The concept of wage slavery, is one of those things I wish wasn’t true. but it is. Somehow I find myself trying to convince myself not to believe in anarchism even though reason tells me it is right. I tell myself, oh well I’m just lazy and have a negative attitude, so it must be those nasty anarchists trying to bring me down. Sometimes I wonder, “should I be following the example of anarchists? will I be homeless if I do? What do these guys do for a living? I can’t really relate to people. Is it because I’m an anarchist?” I ponder these questions, and people around me who know I believe in anarchist principles, would almost reflexively say yes, without giving it any thought. Nobody wants to question the system. The system is just the way it is, so the best thing to do is not to think about it and move on. If you do think about it, it’s because (quoting Dad) “you’re just an armchair philosophical bum.”
Now my Mom who just came back from months on vacation is even worse. she keeps me busy. I dunno, I guess I like what she makes me do. After all it’s “for my own good”.
Oh well, I guess it’s just childish of me to complain about my parents. I just feel like now that they are back my life is being eaten up by their plans and priorities.
Is something wrong with me?
Tyler, This is Chomskyan,
I’ve had the same experiences at all of the jobs I’ve had, from cashier to delivering newspapers, to many years of working with special needs people, and I’ve always drawn a different conclusion and it reinforced my anarchist commitments.
First of all, I think you are mistaken our opposition to exploitation of work for actual work. We obviously value the work we do, or else why would we oppose the hierarchic exploitation of that work? I would argue that the satisfaction of the work you’ve accomplished is a large factor in the drive for better working conditions and wages, and in the long term, imagine the possibilities within a self-managed workplace, where you have full control over the work. So I really don’t see how the satisfaction of the work you did was an argument FOR the status quo…. if anything, it ought to reinforce your commitment to anarchist principles because even under such undesirable conditions we are still able to find satisfaction in work. It flies in the face of right-wing/corporatist argument that human nature is lazy and they need incentives, blah blah.
Life is a struggle and it’s harder for the radicals, no doubt. And it’s a choice we all make, over and over, because each situation in life brings another decision. And this following the examples of the anarchists…. I don’t even know what that means…. part of being anarchist is that we are all different people with our own interests and concerns and culture and personality and we should have a world where these things shines through, AND we are united in our solidarity and our opposition to hierarchy. So a Noam Chomsky works a 100 hours a week, and I am unemployed (at the moment); Buddhagem is a carpenter and I dare anyone to say that he is lazy and unskilled….
So my answer to your dad’s “armchair philosophical bum” comment is that of course he is going to say that, being a tool of exploitation. Then I’ll go create something, or work towards justice and classlessness in some faction, and keep learning and all that shit.
My Mom owned a restaurant a few years ago (barely made anything), and my Dad was a professor. Now he works for the city, and has employees.
Is there any hope of getting them to change their views? Is there any way to make them less authoritarian (in regards to their political views)?
My Mom could care less about anything intellectual, or remotely critical, and my Dad is just conservative as hell (though he thinks he’s liberal).
As for dealing with parents, I’ve been there. I think the main thing is to do your own thing, and as they mature (haha) as parents they’ll start respecting that. I don’t think anything you say or do at this point is going to change their views (and I question even wanting to) you don’t need their approval.
From my teens to mid 20s, I had tons of fights with my overbearing mother. But I think as I’ve matured and understand better what my commitments are, and what principles to live up to, I am able to earn her respect, and we now talk like adults. Though I never had a close relationship with her, I feel she at least respect certain choices I’ve made about my life, though at times (like recently) it seems like a struggle and a failure.
btw, I think the most effective way to change people’s minds about a classless, democratic society is to build it, at least pieces of it, so that people can live it first hand. That radicalizes people much faster than any book or lecture can.
Interested to see David and Jonathan take on all this.
I want to give hearty ditto to everything Chomskyan just said.
And I want to add:
Is there any hope of getting your parents to change their views and/or become less authoritarian?
The same reason that brought you here is the same reason that can affect them. The trick, as always, is how well we’re able to convey that reason.
You know your parents better than anyone else … as you gain in knowledge AND rhetorical savy you’ll be able to affect them.
Read, read, read … learn everything you can: learn about anarchist theory, learn about neoliberalism, learn your history. Meanwhile, practice your craft as anarchist propagandist.
PS: That book disciplined minds is great.
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