Popular post: I wil have more to say here anon.
This is an important article with an ominous perspective: “…the existing order is incapable of self-correction”???
The factor of current unemployment isn’t getting much real discussion, even from liberals giving the right advice for an older form of the economy. Let us be glad for Krugman, Reich, Kuttner here, but the labor economy is dysfunctional, probably forever, and now, it is clear, the ‘reserve army of the unemployed’ is no longer a marginal percentage in a booming economy, but a permanent group of talented, work-able, people in a whole generation rejected by a market system now bordering on a form of madness, a kind of financial Walpurgisnacht. The upturn predicted isn’t going to integrate these people into a new level of economy. These people must without delay find extra-economic refuge since the ‘system’ only offers skid-row, the criminal shadow zone, … the park bench lumpenproletariat. Also in the public libraries of large cities. Libraries show the reality of extra-market potentials already existing on the borderline of pure marginality. Strangely, Marx’s contempt for this class, the lumpenproletariat, understandable in the nineteenth century, misses the fact that this class is not taken as the focal zone of the real proletariat while much of organized labor is fixated on Fox News, and the manipulations, insidious and effective, that has created a real dummy, a rightwing racist populist, where before there was an honorable man of labor. Liberating this new cadre of idiots may be a lost cause. Sometimes you see these people cashiering at Walmart, not quite aware they are being exploited. The liberation of consciousness for these people must continue, but we can’t bet our future on a rapidly disappearing proletariat. It won’t take much: the people at Walmart are ready for the left.
The social mix needs, as the OWS made beautifully clear, an ‘inner space to occupy’, an inner commune, next to, outside of, perhaps interacting with the market, but basically a form of civil society that can offer a life to those that have no future in the economic order. Communes in the country, communes in the city, communes of different forms and types: resources of work, food, habitation, basics, educational situations, and much else.
Such orgs must learn to exist in civil society, and learn how to defend themselves from the rapidly developing state fascist apparatus, much doted over by the sneaky Obama. The attempt to occupy ‘Zuccotti Park’ is thought quixotic, but it pointed symbolically to what is needed: an alternate society of the (lumpen)proletariat, existing in a form of the Commune, one clever enough to be fully legal, yet outside of the normal system. The OWS often jumps into this mode. The holy grail of ‘revolution’ in real time can be kept in a backpack while the day to day Commune provides a lifeboat on the way.
As a group effort this would be much easier to achieve than one might think. As a slow motion revolution, completely legal, it could be entirely viable, perhaps with a reserve project of real revolutionary action, as a distinct potential, born by the group, such ‘Communes’ can echo the lore of the Commune, but reinvent self beyond that historic yet somehow primitive failure.
I know what I am saying, since I saw one experiment of this type, the OSHO commune in Oregon, now discredited by its outcomes. Noone seems to realize that a Jain Buddha, armed with a dynamite spiritual prospectus did something completely revolutionary in the wilds of Oregon, with direct intent to overthrow American capitalism. Small wonder the CIA was all over the place. This experiment was undone by its eccentricities, after a tour de force of Commune creation.
I offer no defense of that outcome, but merely note that a group of less that five thousand people reinvented social community, economy, and reached basic industrialization of a new kind in less than five years of effort.
That experiment is almost a phantasm at this point, but it shows that the ‘Commune’ is literally possible. The OSHO Commune could not distinguish the steady state revolution, from the revolutionary action program, and was destroyed by the CIA. Make no mistake, a thorough critique of that fiasco is in order. But it is clear how easy it is to create a ‘Commune. With a new perspective and the right discipline, the CIA et al would pose no real threat. Part of the social domination mentality enforces the notion of the impossibility of such things as ‘utopian’. That wasn’t the point at all. The answer to Utopia is not skid row, it is a sensible organization of life in civil socity.
A new experiment should take note of that legacy, and attempt something more viable. But the OSHO experiment shows how much can happen with a simple amount of organization. The left has never been able to think like this, perhaps because of its doctrinal rigidity about control of the State nexus in toto.
That OSHO expermiment may not be your cup of tea, then, forget it, and simply see what a little brazen nerve, and ‘organization light’ can achieve. Not the left, but a renegare buddha from Jain India demonstrated a new form of the left.
Let me repeat it: five thousand people in less than five years can create a new Commune, at the threshold of autonomous light industry, agriculture, with people who work without money in an existence rich in meaning.
A version for city zones would be more than possible, with a little thought.
There are a hundred alternate versions of this, so I am not being specific, as such.
Within the prevailing political economy the internal logic is to build systems of political and economic repression rather than to create political, economic and social justice. This can be seen in the level of debt students are expected bear, in increasingly intrusive surveillance, in the militarization of the police, in the unresponsive politics of the mainstream political parties and in the absence of any sustained effort to create jobs for youth and other unemployed.
These conditions were not created by the young or by the multitudes that are likewise on the outside of economic and mainstream political life. They result from decades of ideologically driven policies that assumed that the secular deity of markets removed the need for thought, knowledge, information, and any notion of public life. This ideology supports a predatory economic order that has had disastrous consequences for vast majorities in the West. And yet it still drives economic and political decisions today.
Absent rapid self-correction by political leadership, the conclusion can rightly be drawn that the existing order is incapable of self-correction. In fact, the predominant governing ideology sees unjust social divide as virtue, the driving force behind human achievement. That this is a fundamentally different theory of social life than recent generations themselves experienced seems to have little bearing on the sustained commitment to it. Ideological commitment in spite of evidence to the contrary indicates a calcified political order.