Darwiniana

History, Evolution, and The Darwin Debate

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The implications of Piketty for postcapitalist axioms…

April 30th, 2014 · 1 Comment

http://bostonreview.net/books-ideas/mike-konczal-thomas-piketty-capital-studying-rich

The study of inequality is of crucial importance, but in another sense we already knew all this a long long long time ago. What is the chance that Piketty’s work will lead to something practical in the activist sense? Probably close to zero. We are in a strange situation where change within the system is close being dominated with a crypto-totalitarian system in embryo. The resolution needs to expand its scale to the level of revolutionary change, whatever that means. I have watched a generation of idealists plug various activist programs, the latest being the OWS, and they have all failed, the failure of the OWS being one of the most puzzling. I think the problems are easy to spot. Apart from the hallucinatory paranoia of the OWS being a joke perpetrated by the covert agencies who are getting better and better at staging fake movements, I think the problems of activist groups are many, among them the sterility of marxist dogma in motion. The latter is neither surprising nor grounds for moral sermons. Movements become mechanical, and then unconscious ideological cults. A new perspective on history, economics and revolution that is both faithful to a tradition and yet able to renew its discourse and break old habits, could recreate the old left in a new set of experiments, and radical gestures. One problem is the increasing domination of mindcontrol tactics that have made the working class an almost irrelevant category. The Nixonian era’s transmogrification of the working man into a closet racist has to be the masterpiece of rightwing mindcontrol and an already ancient warning that the revolutionary vanguard needs to operate without the fiction of proletarian revolution. The revolution must be carried by a vanguard creating the risk of creating a new form of elitism. But the problem is not beyond solution, surely. Revolutionary action must be led, and yet based on a set of principles analogous to the separation of powers. A revolutionary group needs to be something far more sophisticated than what we see in the silence on outcomes of the marxists. We need to specify new forms of society and the balance of powers that could create a society and economy beyond private property. The failure of the old marxism to foresee the details of a new society seem inappropriate now. We need a set of economic and political constructs that can really found postcapitalism. The point here is that Piketty’s work is illuminating, but we aren’t going to have much of a second chance at a new New Deal at this point. So we should be on the move asap to be ready for the endgame. Arguing over what we are going to do with Piketty’s results is going to be a waste of breath, no? Perhaps not! But the situation is degenerating so rapidly that I think that standard activist initiatives are nearly reactionary in their naive uselessness.

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