Young Treyvon Martin was hunted down and murdered in cold blood because ALEC / NRA machine-written law, in the context of the undead slave society legal and cultural tradition within the US, identifies all black male activity (including even walking to and from a convenience store to buy a box of Skittles) as a “threat” that legally can be “met with deadly force.”
That’s right. We find that our corporate overlords (including Walmart), via their venal, despicable ALEC (American Legislative Exchange Council), have been going from state to state, flogging the legalization of hunting neighborhood black children (The Castle Doctrine Act/ Stand Your Ground law. Yes, it is not a coincidence that the legislation titles sound like they were written by a penis. The Little King strategy). Corrupt policy for an apartheid military society.
Look, this is clearly a case where liberals should be in there, taking on the conservative corporate warlords. The ALEC / NRA legislation is nothing more than Klan policy in a Jim Crow country.
“You live in a country where your son can get A’s and B’s in high school, be well liked by his teachers, never get in trouble with the law, and run out to buy a snack during the NBA All Star Game, and never come home…because someone decides he has the right to execute your son…That’s the country you live in, if you are black in America” Lawrence O’Donnell.
The rotten-hearted US, devoid of the union strength required to set a brake on and break a corporate-feudal law that elaborates itself as a greasy film of excuses for abominations against humanity.
The militarized NYC police “elite gun unit” has been outed for systematically treating black people, and black people alone “like animals,” as policy.
“They didn’t care if it was kids in there, they didn’t care if it was women in there, naked women,” the detective said. “. . . They treated them as if they had no rights whatsoever. It was disgusting.”
“What white American majorities have been collectively attempting to redeem for the past 40 years, is a White Man’s Country. That’s why they have voted Republican in presidential elections since 1968, with Richard Nixon’s Southern Strategy. That’s why, in the wake of the Black Freedom Movement of the Sixties, white electorates in every state put in office politicians that methodically constructed an overwhelmingly non-white Prison Gulag that now warehouses 1 out of every 4 incarcerated persons on the planet, half of them African American. That’s the essential truth of Michelle Alexander’s New Jim Crow, under which Blacks are criminalized as a people in order to return them to the status of a subjugated class.
The Stand Your Ground-like laws that have been enacted by more than two-dozen states are very public manifestations of unreconstructed white nationalism on the offensive.”
I do have one thing to say to unpaid conservative internet trolls:
And, conservative pros, good luck with your Right-wing pro-feudal state terror spin. All your dogmatic court and legislative coups spew brutality and crisis. You don’t know how to rule worth a damn.
Researcher Fournier likewise finds a pattern of institutionalized racism in Anglo-American (Canadian) courts (forthcoming, Canadian Criminal Law Review 2012). The courts are lenient on men who kill their families in a fit of “passion”, iff the men are white.
The thing about conservative political strategy is that it is modular. Conservatives have got a playbook, and it’s not that elaborate. So if they do it to Sweden, they will do it to the Anglo world:
Canadian media sells “Honour Killings” as indication of “natural” Muslim seditionist tendencies.
Political strategy question: How do you get a people who see themselves as super-civilized liberators to support anti-liberatory conservative policies?
It turns out, this is easier than a level one Soduku puzzle. Start with flattery, and then they’ll turn on their own righteousness nozzle. Nationalism + defensive, instable, cul-du-sac liberalism = conservative-pliable mass psychology. Think of how conservatism has bloomed in contemporary Sweden, France & Canada.
On the advice of a elder feminist, I went to Sweden to study how their welfare state repressed immigrants. What I found there was a full-blown conservative campaign to destroy labor rights in Sweden, using the double-barreled politics of describing immigrants as both criminals and victims–criminals who make having a welfare state impossible (Because they can’t be trusted, and destroy civilization.), and victims of a welfare state thats de-commodification policies don’t let them “express” (sell) themselves. The conservative-fed media conclusion was that if you got rid of labor protections (and so by extension the labor confederation and social democracy), immigrants would be good and thrive, just like they do in Austria and the Anglo countries.
The Swedes were in complete denial about the potency of immigration politics in Sweden–Despite the legislative meetings and bills; despite feminist galvanization against the cruel, cruel, racist state and the cruel, cruel anti-Swedish civilization Muslim fathers; despite the massive media coverage of these conservative themes (and a very few, although of course always tragic, instances of violence within Muslim households) and simultaneous neglect of contextual data clearly showing that patriarchal violence is common across “civilizations” and hardly monopolized by Muslims; and despite the fact that Karl Rove was there in Sweden strategizing with a new conservative political coalition about this conservative campaign. One year later, the conservative coalition was the ruling government, and it has been ever since.
Now the exact same political trope is being used in Canada. Why now, eh?
You have to know your audience. On the other hand, there you have your data. Are you going to tell some unreconditioned, decades-old tool story about how the immigrants are super oppressed by the state and their fathers? Sure some of them are, sometimes. And they are oppressed by “authority” in a broader sense. So look, there’s something else going on here as well. Something rather pressing.
As Nancy Fraser has argued, people need to strongly consider that the contemporary incapacity of pro-liberation liberals to apprehend conservatism and conservative strategy is decidedly non-trivial. That incapacity decides labor policies and capital regulation in favor of capital. It feeds state-based working class institutional breakdown and reinstitutes full human commodification. It allows capitalist elites to confidently delegate to altruistic liberal managers the diligent pursuit of the task of imposing proletarianization, irrational and ideological privatization, and austerity. In an era of declining growth, it fuels capitalist expansion via primitive accumulation, rather than allowing humans to decrease our throughputs while rationally redistributing accumulated surpluses. Not really ironically, it exacerbates racism and sexism. It promulgates vicious war.
What I’m talking about is this problem: People can be very nice. People can be anti-authoritarian. People can be pro goodness and they can be all about extending moral consideration. Not conservatives, but liberals to lefties. (Though conservatives can champion elaborate decorum. Order, you know.)
All that fails to solve this problem: Without an adequate, socially-embedded theoretical framework (eg. Marxist), even self-identified progressives’ work (in the broad, materialist, Scarry sense) can be readily co-opted by conservatives to advance the conservative goal of shrinking moral consideration, monopolizing surplus and stunting human development. This is the problem of directive hegemony (Therborn. As opposed to legitimation — Habermas).
(Discuss Desai, Hall on the historical Thatcherite construction of conservative hegemony, around here.)
If structure is the accumulation of collective action, then conservative collective action creates the pathways that convert altruistic intentions and beliefs into dehumanizing hierarchy and tyranny.
Political-economic engagement (intellectualism, to use Perry Anderson’s term) is not just for conservatives or property-owning white men. Political-economic literacy and engagement matter. A lot. To everybody.
To illustrate this point further, I will discuss how the summer 2011 Winnipeg Rebelles gathering unfolded. Hint: To work together–to express our humanity, even feminist, multiculti lefties/progressives need to be able to distinguish conservatism. And in my personal experience in the technocratic, anti-Big Questions, anti-macro theory Anglo world, this has been an unmet need for over a quarter century, at a minimum.
We’ll see what happens to the Honour Killings conservative strategy in Canada. If Canadian feminists and the judiciary can avoid getting sucked in, if they firmly assert that violent patriarchy is not the exclusive property of Muslims (Obviously, in Canada there is already wide recognition that Aboriginal women are killed by their male relatives.), then maybe they can keep the neocon anti-Muslim “Clash of Civilizations” politics out of courtrooms and out of currency. And just maybe it will not justify, in the minds of Canadians, both Israel bombing Iranians (Yes, partly on behalf of Anglo-American geopolitical/energy strategy.) and domestic austerity measures.
”When people can’t use you, they ridicule what you represent. I was lucky that I understood that, because when one does not understand that, it is very easy to be broken and to be subdued”
In response to Brievik’s Judeo-Christian fascist political terrorism–77 murdered and 96 injured when he bombed Oslo government buildings housing the Labor Party, and slaughtered Labour Party children at a multicultural summer camp,
the Jerusalem Post wrote an anxious story demanding that we prevent the right-wing atrocity from overshadowing the “Failure of Multiculturalism” in Europe. What is the Jerusalem Post on about, you ask? Good question, because as much of a non sequitor as it first appears, it just so happens to get to the heart of the Breivik massacres.
“The Failure of Multiculturalism” in Scandinavia: International Conservative Politics
What has happened in northern Europe is that conservatives have been waging a campaign against labor, and the tool that they have been using is a spectacularly-conflicted (But who needs consistency? What you need is complete coverage!) dual politics creating a “multiculturalism crisis” out of immigrants–immigrants portrayed as both Muslim criminals and as victims of the social democratic welfare state and labor institutions. This political campaign has been raging unchecked since the 1990s. Breivik is the direct product of this conservative campaign.
The broad, intended conservative goal is to exterminate labor institutions in Scandinavia, and thus to exterminate social democracy. It’s been a more difficult project there than elsewhere, though certainly not impossible. Neoliberalism has made great headway for conservatism in Scandinavia. Leave it to a Scandinavian, however, to increase effectiveness and efficiency: You can also help to extinguish the Labour Party’s future by directly exterminating its youth.
The connection to neocon Israel lies in the conservative goal of promoting imperial, high-inequality, capitalist, Anglo-american-centric capitalist countries on the global political-economic stage. Scandinavia isn’t China, but social democracy is an alternative political economy that has the capacity to subordinate finance capital to socio-economic welfare and occasionally controls finance capital. It is thereby a threat to the financial-military domination of the global conservative hegemon.
Breivik was the product of global conservative conditioning. Not only did he target Labor Party representatives and children, Breivik wrote a 1500 page “manifesto,” in which Israel is mentioned on 170 pages, Norway on 135. Breivik: “So let us fight together with Israel, with our Zionist brothers against all anti-Zionists, against all cultural Marxists/multiculturalists.”
Studying Swedish immigration politics over the past 10 years, I have found the “failure of social democratic multiculturalism” trope to be a fundamental conservative tool in Scandinavia. There it is used to argue not just for stepped-up European harmonization with imperial Anglo-American-Israeli policy, but also for dismantling the labor protections that enable social democracy.
The conservative argument is this: “The Failure of Multiculturalism (in Scandinavia, not US/Israel-special-relationship countries) is the result of Muslim Criminality + Social Democratic institutions (eg. welfare state, labor rights). The solution to the Failure of Multiculturalism is to break down labor institutions, and to support Israel in our Clash of Civilizations.”
In this conservative political campaign, the problems posed by fascism (understood beyond the 20th century Jewish Holocaust) are eclipsed, by design (Thanks, Lyotard). These politics are neocon Zionist home turf. It is no surprise that J-post is anxious that such emergent crises of fascism will slow the conservative campaign in Scandinavia.
I initially went to Sweden with the PhD advisor-driven mission of discovering what the Swedes had done to violate their immigrants and how US-Canadian immigration could provide the Swedes with a proper immigration approach. Having extensively compared, in Sweden, the US and Canada, Swedish immigration policy and outcomes with Canadian, US, and other Anglo-country policies and outcomes, I can firmly say that the long legacy of social democratic multicultural policy and program development in Sweden is, if anything, more progressive, constructive, and preferable, from both overarching immigrant and native perspectives. It’s not the communist horizon, but as usual, actually-existing (not nominal) social democracy, even in decline, pretty much gives you the best you are going to get out of capitalism.
Why the Failure of Multiculturalism politics now?
Graeber points out that modern racism is a class-compromise byproduct in European societies, where elites wished to resume slavery in their countries, and working men and women refused the institution. Essentially, political-economic elites resorted to promoting modern racism as a means of securing broad consent to their right to superexploit someone…elsewhere.
(After the ‘Dark Ages’ rejection of slavery in Europe,) modern racism…had to be invented largely because Europeans continued to refuse to listen to the arguments of the intellectuals and jurists, and did not accept that anyone (in their own societies, whom) they believed to be a full and equal human being could ever justifiably be enslaved” Graeber 2011: 212.
It is worth asking to what extent intellectuals and jurists today are again trying to convince these intransigent, vulgar ‘Europeans’ (or Americans) to accept slavery in their own societies. Where do race and immigration politics, including carefully-managed versions of anti-racism (“Antiracism = submit to capital” or “Civilized contemporary global capitalists are antiracist/antiracism.”) in Europe and the Anglosphere, coincide with the promotion of domestic debt peonage and international slavery?
Why are Scandinavians vulnerable to the conservative anti-racist/pro-racist political one-two punch? What I observed is that, hitting the wall imposed by the bourgeois takeover of social democracy, their tremendous historical social democratic capacity for problem solving stutters and stalls. Unwilling to accept that even Swedish (nativist), righteous liberalism is unable to solve the fundamental social problems of capitalism, they descend into an inability to admit that coerced human migration in capitalism is not potentially a picnic on the beach.
They hysterically swear to themselves that somewhere out there is a liberal-conservative model of social inclusion that is both cheaper and can achieve more inclusion than social democratic inclusion could. There is not. What Swedes have consistently failed to acknowledge, throughout the conservative ascent era, is that immigration is extremely hard, especially for non-elites. It’s hard for the “welcoming” society. It’s harder for immigrants. Refugee immigration is even harder still. It does not get done in any core capitalist country easily or prettily or cheaply.
The free-market formula for purportedly “masterful” immigration (touted to flourish in Austria, Canada, the US) is an unwholesome marketing combination of outright distortions and fractional truth based in ideal, exceptional, fleeting experiences blown up by marketing spin into a bloated department store parade float, distracting children and obstructing our view. The actually-existing social democracies do fundamentally-vexed immigration and social incorporation about as well as it can be done, and they have kept trying to improve (including counterproductively), in the causative context of global imperial war and exploded societies. And in that context, human mobility and the difficult work of rigorous collective restoration are essential.
In studying the intensely-marketed Failure of Multiculturalism campaign in Sweden, I had to conclude that, regardless of what righteous, altruistic feminists and anti-racists it grafts onto its project, it is a conservative political campaign to dismantle labor institutions on the back of immigrant victimology and stigmatization. That is ugly.
It is no prettier that this immigrant-exploitative war on the working class is intimately tied to international neocon efforts to push the more reluctant, social-democratic quarters of Europe behind the oil-dependent, finance-ruled, high-inequality, bellicose and belligerent conservative imperium. Only chronic marketing victims should be surprised that such an imperial military-finance alliance both ignites the E-Z/La-Z semi-laissez faire marketing imaginary (“All the Beautiful, Cafe-latte Multicultural Utopia needs is Walmartization!”) and, on its flipside, fosters contemporary fascism.
Doug Henwood responds: “There’s a right-wing critique of soc dem that says it only works in ‘homogenous’ places like Sweden. Relatedly, Hayek claimed that soc dem and socialism are fundamentally nationalist, since their planning universe need national borders. But your research shows that not only is that not true, but the war on immigrants is part of a war on soc dem.”
(Henwood’s friend Joel Shalit keeps an eye on some contemporary national conservative movements, and also does some damage-repair for Israel within the Western Left. He doesn’t have much to say about the Breivik case; but he does understand at least Israeli, British, German and Italian conservative politics, and following up on his “Actually Existing Israel” (April 2011), Henwood interviewed Joel Shalit on Israeli national identity and radical conservatism and superficially on Israel’s relationship to the European right on Henwood’s radio show Behind the News.
In response to the Jerusalem Post article, Shalit advocates in “Breivik and the Jews” that Jewish people should not be trying to hide the dependency of contemporary European fascism on Jewish conservatism, but rather should confront the conservative ideas.)
Hegemony via Confusion & Opportunistic Parochialism
Having recently viewed a succession of music videos from the 1980s (of which this is representative), and this depiction of modern postmodernism, I think it bears iteratation: confusion is a tool of conservative hegemony.
The conservative “immigrant crisis” political trope continues unabated, as where in March 2012, the right-wing Swedish press, apparently hoping that no one has memory in Sweden and claiming that the Left never let Swedes chat about all the immigrant problems, again lays the blame for the right-wing Breivik atrocity squarely on the shoulders of…you guessed it, “Left-wing culture politics.” Jävla galen propaganda.
The Anglo-american media spun the Breivik massacres in this way: “Norwegians are a lot more barbaric that they think they are. After all, they are Vikings, who once gleefully hurt the innocent villagers of Great Britain.” This interpretation of the meaning of the Breivik massacres is “backed up” by Wikileaks documents in which the US State Department whines that Norway should devote its income to a bigger militarized policing apparatus.
Huh. Of course the US State Dept. desires that other countries give their money to Halliburton. Where has that been shown to reduce harm, and how does that fervent wish demonstrate that Norwegians need to convert over to a similarly repressive state? And as regards purported Norwegian sub-surface barbarity: Norwegians simply do not engage in viciousness at the volume that people in right-wing societies do, and that’s because they have savvier social integration understanding and institutions (Not because they are “homogeneous”, which due to inter alia mass immigration, they are not).
By any valid measure (Though my review of the literature “documenting” the failure of multiculturalism in Scandinavia shows clearly that conservatives will fuck with the measures–so let’s aggregate the measures for ease of consensus.), the contemporary Scandinavian societies cannot compete in the violence Olympics with the Judeo-Christian Anglo-American societies. (Even if Zionism is your sole measure of civilization, Scandinavians have award-winning, government-mandated, early-to-late education programs focused on the singular tragedy of the early 20th century Jewish Holocaust. They have lots of advanced initiatives designed to combat antisemitism. Their press is not anti-Semitic.) The result of this vigorous socialization into Western “civilization”? When married to conservative politics, it has meticulously groomed a Christian Zionist terrorist.
Norwegians are not insulated from global civilization/hegemony, surreptitiously (yet lazily!) cultivating their genetically-cruel culture in the backwoods. That’s a cockamame story. That it sells at all is dependent, in fact, on the parochialism and Halliburton investments of the Anglo-american press’ audience.
… A lesbian couple heroicallysaved 40 children from Breivik.
Race politics working their magic on this side of the pond:
Brad de Long ponders a Republican Bangledesh-American arguing hopefully that white American conservatives are not racist; they’re just protecting good things from bad people, Virginia. De Long answers the Republican in “Why Don’t Republicans Like Illegal Immigrants from Mexico?, where he argues that illegal immigrants from Mexico logically should be the posterboys for Republican ideals, and yet still Republicans hate illegal immigrants.
Here’s my rejoinder to the conservative-liberal debate on conservative racism:
It is true that Republicans degrade or hate Mexican immigrants, surfacely because they are “colored” and often have an accent. Wah-wah. But inasmuch as such complaints gesture lazily towards some vaguely-natural “problem” and echo historical charges against some people by other people, it still is something of a random problem construction, as De Long points out. Why is active racism characteristic of conservative politics today?
Because racism is dehumanization and it is not random; it is a conservative “Little King” institution that allows tyrants to maintain a popular base in a high- inequality political-economy.
Racism encourages zero-sum thinking that co-opts people to a high-inequality agenda. When Republicans enjoy bonding together by actively degrading Mexican immigrants (and other people they want to perceive and remake as low status and powerless), they are sharing a symbol of their tribal project, working together to promote their own material benefit at the expense of other people. In the race-besotted US/Israel, conservatives set up this classic stratification credo, typically without any confirming evidence whatsoever: If we don’t savagely degrade and super-exploit the weaker tribes, they will eat us and everyone we love.
Racism is a conservative coalition-building tactic. From a top 0.1% ruler down to their media lackeys down to a conservative convenience clerk, what these capitalist conservatives have always wanted is to privatize (someone else’s) commons, and the perpetuation of cheap labor that they can exploit. So no matter whether they’re trying to transfer the wealth of the dwindling US middle class into their own off-shore hoard, or whether they’re suffering stagnant income and related hierarchy indignities–no matter their horrible alienation, at least they’ll always share the high-inequality market and the militarized police to force someone more vulnerable to provide them all a compensatory Chemlawn yard.
And while preventing immigration historically tends to allow labor to organize and take a larger share of social wealth, creating a special class of dehumanized and legally-vulnerable laborers definitely does produce loads of cheapened labor to use and abuse– with fun moralistic fervor!
Conservatives are an organized political group that strives to dictate to us our true value (abysmally low), and what we owe them (the sun and the moon and the stars). Paraphrasing David Graeber, conservatives seek to transform the very foundations of our being–since what else are we, ultimately, except the sum of the relations we have with others–into matters of fault, sin, and crime, and to make the world into a place of iniquity–an agonized, writhing hell that they rule, a little crowning fraternity of the damned.
Let me give you a representative example of the framework problem I see with so much of the professional neoliberal civilizer staff, by recounting two examples of pertinent antiracist history that I can say with a great deal of assurance that antiracists don’t know or cannot remember–because it doesn’t fit in the official multiculti Anglo settler country anti-communist plot line.
2) Socialists and communists in the US North:
A century ago, in the early 20th century, socialists in the interior, in Minnesota, worked in coalition with the Twin Cities African American community to promote and host anti-racist movie and discussion nights in rural towns. It was immensely successful anti-racism and progressive rural mobilization (Jennifer Dalton. “Making MN Liberal”). It created the conditions for such unusually progressive politics that in that era, the state even saw its forests run for ecological goals (Mark Hudson. “Fire Management in the American West.”), the preservation of urban public space, the nation’s strongest teacher’s union, the preservation of family farms, and its workers’ lives defended by the National Guard (which only happened one other time in US history–under Pinchot’s PA governance.)
For at least 5 generations (and, really, we know more), socialists have known–and were capable of acting upon the knowledge–that to build and maintain working class consciousness and mobilization in North America, partly we need to combat the tool of racism across geographies–combat it by engaging people’s sociability. (Kind of like how today, a hundred years later, it is still socialists who work with First Nations folks to develop some of the most innovative antiracism initiatives in central Canada, such as Neechi CED initiatives.)
The Minnesota socialists’ early and effective anti-racism efforts were disbanded, eliminated by a small group of liberals who used the threat of fascism to take over the Farmer-Labor Party. Today rural Minnesota is instead organized by the far right, via churches, and rural people there are again “naturally” racist and sexist and, well, sort of feudal rural idiots, just like how we imagine they should be to sustain the rationale for our jobs as professional civilizers in a gloriously unequal–ahem! ambition-rewarding!–society. And the result is that rabid anti-inegalitarians rule unfettered throughout.
That’s how much we have progressively improved our anti-racism by imagining that working class consciousness and a strong anti-inequality critique is a problem because it must “subsume race,” which we know because we have accumulated our tremendous liberal intellectual endowment of identity politics theory and initiatives that we somehow imagine, despite all the evidence, that conservatives cannot manage the hell out of (the combo racist and antiracist politics harnessed by conservatives in the destruction of US mass public education being but one case in point).
I am always impressed every time I realize that liberals think they personally discovered anti-racism in 1968, possibly at a cocktail party in New Haven or Toronto or London–maybe in the coffee shops of Paris, and that their job is to be as boorish as humanly possible whenever Marxists suggest that This is America, land of identity politics and that North America is rich in hugely-overdeveloped identity politics theory and initiatives, which are materially-supported by universities, governments and foundations across the political spectrum, and which help political-economic elites bond globally, as a class (The ultimate multicultural camaraderie). Whereas the US is absolutely, forcibly poverty-stricken in working class consciousness and historical-materialist understanding.
This intellectual poverty and self-sabotage underlies our inability to sustain a critical mass of alternative mobilization to address our failing, persistent, zombie political-economy, or race and women’s poverty– inequality problems, or our market-besotted, energy-drunk failure to contribute to a greater, barely-initiated project of building a decent, judicious, healthy environment, society and world. When liberals insist that we don’t need a Marxist understanding of racism, they breathe life into racism, which is also a tool for predatory rulers.
David Montgomery’s Cambridge-published studies on Cold War-suppressed Leftist contributions in the US:
Montgomery, David. 1987. The Fall of the House of Labor: The Workplace, The State, and American Labor Activism, 1865- 1925. Cambridge Press.
Montgomery, David. 1995. Citizen Worker. Cambridge.
Montgomery, David. 1979. Workers Control in America. Cambridge.
(In contrast to Lipset’s classic liberal story “Political Man” about the good center and the bad peripheries.)
After 400 years, in 1918, the Austro-Hungarian Habsburg Monarchy and Empire was ruined, crumbled, done, and over. This left a pool of Habsburg Empire dependents—courtiers–out of work. Despite the end of their world, the most resourceful of these fortunate sons of empire yet had something important to contribute to the global capitalist order that subsumed them. Uniquely and perhaps more cynically than most, Austrian courtiers recognized that Anglo-American-centered capitalism was a system not dissimilar from their own beloved empire. Anglo capitalism also prospered by exacting tribute, by prosecuting war and exploiting masses of men, women, children, as well as nature, for the sake of the accumulation and concentration of power.
The imperial monarchy’s weakness had been that its plunder-and-mercantilism economies tolerated merchants’ (often, aristocratic merchants) limitless exploitation and ravaging, inter alia, of each other. This cannibalism capitalism accomplishes also (witness the massive self-destruction of capital today, in order to facilitate primitive accumulation), but within capitalist constraints, to a capitalist end: the concentration of global wealth and parameter-determining social power within a small coterie of capitalists of the future. This is the only element of equilibrium to the capitalist system, and while it is more equilibrium than absolutist or feudal mercantilism has to offer, it’s a preciously-narrow sort of equilibrium, grotesquely misrecognized as a global equilibrium.
For example, all that’s been happening in the world since the imperial Nixon regime is everyone is scraping and clawing, lying and self-promoting to make it into that 0.1% of the population that will be the holy elect saved, and in doing so, they automatically facilitate the violent primitive accumulation that will ensure capitalism’s continuance, along with national and regional economic destruction, the working class’ immiseration, and environmental ravishment.
Capitalism is an organized, highly-stratified system the Habsburg Empire courtiers could not just understand, but embrace as a sweeping advancement in rational despotism.
What the Austrian courtiers’ experience of the ultimate fall of their empire taught them and what they could appreciate above all was that all systems of human domination are vulnerable when their elites lose a strategic sense of whom to mine and wage war upon (less powerful groups of people) and what select group of men to organize with, protect, and promote (the capitalist class). The Austrians as well as Keynes saw that there is a potential strategic problem here in capitalism–that value is extracted and accumulated via exploiting potentially-creative human workers, yet capital is measured–baroquely–in more concrete exchange currency–making it sometimes individually-rational for capitalists to destroy whole economies in their unceasing, system-motivated efforts to use economic, political and cultural tools to monopolize social wealth. Keynes thought this meant that government has to step in to include the welfare and uphold the integrity of potentially-creative human workers, in order to protect value and the economy in a region. The more feudal Austrians simply recognized that capitalist supernovae first expand, then obliterate capital and the courtier job market. In the face of the Great Depression, the Austrians discerned a need for capitalist generals and marketeers. Perhaps there would even be a market for capitalist generals and marketeers.
When talking to people they would manipulate—the working class, politicians, the media–what conservatives proclaim to the staff is essentially this: “Capitalism is heaven. All you need to do is believe that capitalists are not the humans who disappoint us and over whom we fall into occasional misanthropy; rather, capitalists are the sacred, commanding, disciplining, all-wise, all-loving patriarchs of our ancient childhood desires and dreams. They are the lords. If we give our work, blood, sweat, tears, children, culture, food, knowledge, land, air, and water over to them, if we give them our lives and our souls, they will create heaven on Earth. To the extent that heaven does not exist on Earth yet—well, that’s the fault of our own failure to give ourselves faithfully over to capitalist command.”
By contrast, democrats—the women and men who want to augment and expand the germ of democracy, equality, fraternity, and broad liberty and human development forged in the first bourgeois and working class coalitional struggles to overthrow feudalism—what democrats observe is that capitalism works because an organized capitalist elite accrues and hoards wealth in this way: disruptively, violently, and cripplingly, by exploiting workers and nature. Accumulation-via-exploitation results in concentrated wealth and power, produces despotism and belligerent imperialism, and fails to fall out in proliferated and dispersed wealth because it is enabled not by paying workers a comfortable share of the product value, but by coercive threat, by capitalists studiously manipulating and here and there deploying a vast, global reserve army of labor—the unemployed, interns, slaves, indentured servants, the elderly, women and children paid low “dependent” wages or nothing at all for their work, people paid “colored” or immigrant or low-caste wages, or nothing at all for their work, people who have to eke out their households in the margins and in ruined environments.
For a further discussion of the Austrian courtiers’ contributions to the making of a more political economics discipline (posing as scientific), see also: “Box 6.5 The Marginalists” pp. 125- 130, as well as pp. 132, 153-155, 161, 223-224, 259, 267, 295-297, 391, 413 and 487 in Varoufakis, Y., J. Halevi & N. J. Theocarakis. 2011. Modern Political Economics: Making Sense of the Post-2008 World. Routledge.
Radhika Desai’s “Secondhand Dealers” (New Left Review) briefly reviews the impact of the White Emigration to the UK. (That means that Stuart Hall probably treated this subject.)
Here is a political scientist discussing the central political role of demonstrative passion in conservative hegemony.
At this blog site, Joanne Namerow discusses the main Wikileaks outrage, from elites’ perspective: States’ use of surveillance technology, rendering subjects’ lives and political views transparent to rulers, can occasionally be used to make capitalist state and capitalist elite machinations transparent to the public. What Namerow doesn’t discuss is that transparency isn’t half of what’s required for political mobilization. The state has the advantage of being run on behalf of antidemocratic elite interests, whereas the capitalism in front of our faces remains illegible to most of the unorganized public. Further, the leaks can’t stop the great assembled masses of neocon strategists and secret polices from doing their job #1–suppressing democracy and promoting Anglosphere financial-militarist capitalist interests.
The public elite freak-out over Wikileaks is a nice, petulant, fascist law’n’order rallying cry and all, and it’s not like they don’t have the excess machinery to prosecute their campaign; but it is also a lot of wasted energy and resources. But hell– I’m all for elites & their retainers wasting their considerable, malevolent, ne’er-do-well energies, and they’re wasting our appropriated resources anyway.
Democracy Now! hosts a Dec 20, 2010 debate between a socialist feminist, Naomi Wolf, and a neoliberal feminist, Jaclyn Friedman over the international persecution of Wikileaks’ Julian Assange.
What’s at stake in this debate is setting the criteria for the circumstances in which socialist feminists coalesce with neoliberal feminists, and the circumstances in which socialist feminists must break off from neoliberal feminists and regroup as a separate network (cf Nancy Fraser).
When Karl Rove comes knocking at your door and tells you he will let you decry rape for 15 minutes on teevee if you sell imperial tyranny for him, and your reaction is “OK! Sounds like a bargain!”, you know you’re a fucking neoliberal tool. If and only if in the context of an international antidemocratic elite campaign, you do not believe that women have the capacity to make decisions, then you are not a feminist; you are a paid neoliberal shill. Since we are strict pomos and we must allow women to label themselves feminist if they want (or if it serves their career networking), we could gamely specify them as Karl Rove feminists. Which version of feminism led Friedman naturally to resort to yelping, “Fear! Fear! Fear is the reason!” at the end of the Democracy Now! debate.
Yes, most of us women and many men have been raped; it involved fear and other emotions, and rape is one of the overlapping abuses of power in a rapacious, proliferating, inequality-based political-economic culture of alienation and “unmaking,” as Elaine Scarry might put it. The existence of abuse in individual relationships requires us to morally oppose the further development of the institutions that foster such oppression. The long elite antidemocratic campaign is a central corrupt and corrupting institution.
Inasmuch as it first pointed to hypocrisy (as articulated by Naomi Wolf and Michael Moore), the charge that Sweden underprosecutes rape is a distortion of the actual legal strength of women in Sweden vis-a-vis sexual violence. Sweden has a very different legal system that approaches almost all crime with restitution, rather than vindictive, long-term punishment as in the Anglosphere; and that social democratic legal tradition is an asset that reduces alienation and oppression. (In ignoring this, Amnesty is cooperating with a local Swedish effort to use the international public sphere for local political purposes. Perhaps in the Swedish context, Amnesty’s classification of women in Sweden as particularly vulnerable to consequence-free violence supports women’s emancipation; perhaps instead it supports neoconservative efforts to augment inequality by replacing the current legal system with a punitive, capitalist class-biased Anglo legal system.) There is a very good reason why some Swedes are angry with the state prosecutor and the neoliberal feminists for assaulting that reconstructive social democratic tradition.
This Assange prosecution case will most definitely NOT make Sweden and the world better at opposing rape, contrary to Friedman’s baseless assertion. It will only continue to give conservatives license to destroy democracy in the glorious, cynical, patriarchal name of protecting the sub-rational womenchildren sub-citizens. Sweden has a conservative Law’n’Order government that got into power and stays there by flogging the idea that swarthy immigrants threaten the virtue and accomplishments of “real,” “liberated” Swedish women. Those politics of pimping out feminism are honed to a fine art in Sweden, as you can see from watching the cynical Swedish lawyer in the Democracy Now! report.
Sweden’s conservative government is absolutely colluding with other conservative states to pimp out women’s fear and rage at being raped for these rulers’ own antidemocratic purposes. Wolf knows what she’s talking about, and her incisive analysis is impressive.
Assessment of socialist-feminist / neoliberal feminist coalition:
In the Assange case, the neoliberal feminists are not fighting for rape victims or any women. They are serving as a voluntary army for politically-organized international capital. But simply wrapping the terrifying, bloody flag of sex victimhood around the shoulders of this conservative campaign cannot make it liberatory for anyone but already overly-mobile capital, rapist of whole communities and societies, progenitor of alienated, dehumanizing, abusive, exploitive relationships. And I speak not just from a political perspective, but also from an experiential perspective, as a feminist who was raped by an IDF soldier.
This is a point where socialist feminists cannot reconcile with the political program of neoliberal feminists, which has led directly into the pit of extreme social inequality, including gender inequality–if you recognize that women make up the majority of the world’s poor, exploited, dispossessed and disenfranchised. In today’s political context, mutual opposition to rape and patriarchy is not enough, nor is mutual commitment to women’s advancement. Which rape? Which patriarchy? Which women’s advancement? These are crucial questions, because the neoliberal feminists’ abstracted emotional triggers cannot hide the bloody flood of wretched disparities in life chances that we have seen and will continue to see under the management regime of such neoliberal supplicants to the conservative movement.
This is a point at which socialist feminists must regroup around their own separate, historically-rooted Left feminism. They can and must fight sexual violence and promote women’s networks separately from the neoliberal feminists. Mobilize their own constituency. Build upon their tradition’s own ideas. The neoliberal feminists’ only policy answers are sealed within the bleak, corrupting world of Reagan, Thatcher, Mulroney, and Reinfeldt, wherein Karl Rove’s Angels can sell their glossy, full-color magazines to the self-righteous daughters and wives of finance, insurance, and real estate.
Considered strategically, socialist feminists should remember, however, that over an historical sweep, the existence of elite conservative feminist hegemony–while destructive in many terrible ways–can produce something of a hegemonic check on Left patriarchs. As Paul Lichterman’s work has shown, it’s sometimes wise to refrain from enjoining fierce bullying with all your firepower–but rather to practice some jijitsu. You don’t want to completely alienate or destroy all enemies.
Naomi Wolf is a good model. She articulates a consistent, clear socialist feminism firmly and confidently, even while she is being savaged by the neoliberal feminists. The trick is to regroup with other socialist feminists at such junctures–not to let the neoliberals get inside your head.
There will come a point in the future where the competing feminist groups will have temporary use of each other. You want your head clear to take advantage of that moment.