Steve, I appreciate these longer replies, as I get a better understanding of where you're coming from.
Steve, on 03 October 2011 - 03:06 AM, said:
Here are my thoughts on OccupyWhatever, free from the debate form that generally devolves into retardeness - on both sides.
The politics... are terrible. I think this much can be agreed upon (hopefully). This talk of the "99%" is absolute nonsense. Yes, obviously the majority of the wealth and power is concentrated in the hands of one percent of the population, but this is an inaccurate and useless analysis if one is going to attack capitalism (which is only best understood as a logic that dictates social relationships - and not the typical superficial understanding of rich v poor), which is the only thing I am interested in. Perceiving the problem is being that of a conflict between tax brackets only shows one thing: these people are mad with the way capitalism is being managed - something i have already said before. How many of this 99% are business owners that are exploiting and fucking over there workers? Anyone who has ever worked for a small business knows exactly how terrible they have to be to their workers because they are not pulling in the same amount of money as bigger businesses. I find it weird that workers and their exploiters see themselves, in this case, as on the same side.
I work for Anti-Flag, and its the most positive working experience I've had in my life. I get a say in my working conditions, and I'm actually treated like a human being rather than just a commodity. Sure, it's still capitalism, and I still would prefer that we abolish the system altogether, but to say that they're my enemy would be ridiculous. I recognize that not all business owners are so radical, but to discriminate when they too are victims of the capitalist system in my mind accomplishes nothing. I don't see the 99% as being a tax bracket issue, but rather as an exploitation issue. We're all powerless to escape capitalism, so we fight each other to sustain our survival. But we've been targeting the wrong people. The business owners and police officers are not the ones pulling the strings--they're just merely the ones who got tangled up in them.
And the implications of this position is that the rich pay for the crisis. Talking about giving the 99% their "fair share" would quite effectively reverse this crisis and put capitalism right back on track. I find this more detestable than the Right wing alternative. What the Left, with its talk of more jobs, and taxing the rich, and better social welfare programs and its moralism and obsession with democracy, never realizes is that it is just as important, maybe more-so, to the functioning of capital as the capitalists themselves. The Right wing, and the capitalists, due to the contradictions within the logic of capital itself, lead capitalism to crisis; meanwhile the Left and its organized labor and workers movements, lead capital right back out of it. I am absolutely against capitalism in all its forms, from the hyper-corpratized one we have right now, to the hypothetical democratically self-managed one of the Left.
That's an oversimplification. Right wing economists are not trying to "kill" the economy on purpose. Many economists rather argue that reducing government spending will have the effect of both higher revenues for the government and putting welfare recipients back to work, etc. And politicians, especially during crisis, tend to subscribe to these positions, because they work, to some degree. The problem is that they tend to favor the rich first (IE: Those in power), and only make the poor weaker. And the farther right a countries "center" becomes, the easier it is to appease people with small reforms. Reduce the expectations of the working class, essentially. Reduced expectations and a wealthier corporate government is not my idea of progress.
One of the big things that I don't get is the simultaneous call for more democracy and non-violence. PRG has already acknowledged that this world is undemocratic. My question then is why do these people think they can make an undemocratic world more democratic democratically? This coupled with non-violence can only amount to symbolic gestures and appeals to a certain morality - the kind that the ruling class has already shown to not give two shits about. A radical shift in social relations can only come about through force, be it a military take over, or the blockage of the flows of commodities. Neither of these are democratic because there will always be a segment of the population which will oppose it, and there will a time when there will either be confrontation or the movement will implode in upon its own inability to move beyond dogmatism. It's cliche, but the rich will never allow anyone to simply vote away their power and wealth. Revolutions themselves are rarely bloody or violent, it is always the counter-revolution that sheds blood.
That a segment of the population opposes it does not matter. As I have said in the China topic, true democracy cannot exist in hierarchical structures, because the fact that one person has artificial power over another just makes voting an exercise in futility. Voting with a proverbial gun to your head, as I put it.
I call for more democracy not so much for the results it produces (which will never be perfect in an undemocratic system), but more so for the attitudes it produces. By giving people more decision-making power (and I mean real decision making--not pulling a lever ever 4 years), they begin to understand the undesirability of hierarchical power, and the potential of common human beings to organize a society for themselves. Otherwise, there's always going to be an habitual need for authority, of familiarity, and control. As far as I know, you have always ignored the mental aspects of anarchism, which is why it has been so hard for me to get behind your ideas.
On the issue of control that I brought up earlier. PRG replied saying that what I said, in his mind, actually justifies more policing rather than less, which I was advocating. I think this shows quite clearly the dividing line between us. My goal, my main desire that motivates my politics and all the intellectual schizophrenia that comes with diving into many, contradictory theories, has always been freedom, in the most absolute sense of the word. I want to be free from social constraints and norms and free from work and the alienation and loss of connection to my life that comes from it. If a post-capitalist world is one that is more policed, and life and all the beautiful chaos that it entails is more controlled, then count me out. I would rather live in a world that is chaotic, but totally free, than one that is totally equal but thoroughly controlled. I do not care about people as such. Therefore, I do not care about uniting them. I do not care about unity or harmony if those things require control and policing. All I care about is my friends, and how together we can escape from work as much as possible, as soon as possible. In this sense, both Leftist anti-capitalism and capitalism itself offer the same dead end drudgery and control.
How can you say leftist anti-capitalism (it is really anarchism that you are describing) is controlling, when you have in fact here an authoritarian position here? The difference between anarchism, and between whatever it is that you are proposing, is that anarchism allows for the free associations of all people. That is, if you want to live together with others in an unorganized and perhaps chaotic fashion and they together with you in the same way, you have every right to do so. But if others want to live together with others in a more organized society, then they have every right to do so as well. The position that you have taken here is that one is okay, and one is not. It is completely against the idea of free associations.