"If capitalism is so bad, why don’t people vote it out?

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Joseph Kay's picture
Joseph Kay
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Mar 22 2006 10:04
"If capitalism is so bad, why don’t people vote it out?

So wrote Lazy Riser on this thread.

Here's three theses I don't neccessarily accept to kick things off:

1. Its not "so bad"; its preferable to slavery, serfdom and Stalinism, the latter being the only widely known alternative due to the successful cold war era binary. The lack of widepread knowledge of or belief in libertarian alternatives reflects a generally defeated and inward-looking workers' movement.

2. There is a growing, deliberate abstention from official politics that cannot be explained by 'voter apathy' since extra-parliamentary politics is growing (see The Power Inquiry). Therefore people, whatever their view of capitalism, do not generally see voting as a way to change it (hence the very minor status of 'revolutionary parliamentarians'; SWP/RESPECT etc). It seems people have an increasingly anarchist analysis of voting.

3. Repression of desire and desiring repression. Maurice Brinton's The Irrational in Politics tried to explain the autonomous reproduction of authoritarian society using the psychology of Willhelm Reich. Deleuze and Guattari have developed this, but in their typical borderline-incomprehensible way. In Deleuzo-Guattarian terms, deterritorialized flows of desire escaped and overcame repressive sexual morality but have been reterritorialized in the market via the commodification of sex(uality). Brinton observed this, and it has developed since 1970. Sexual repression still explains desiring repression.

Ok discuss, dissect, ignore, whatever ...

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Mar 22 2006 10:14
Joseph K. wrote:
3. Repression of desire and desiring repression. Maurice Brinton's The Irrational in Politics tried to explain the autonomous reproduction of authoritarian society using the psychology of Willhelm Reich. Deleuze and Guattari have developed this, but in their typical borderline-incomprehensible way. In Deleuzo-Guattarian terms, deterritorialized flows of desire escaped and overcame repressive sexual morality but have been reterritorialized in the market via the commodification of sex(uality). Brinton observed this, and it has developed since 1970. Sexual repression still explains desiring repression.

Will respond to the other stuff more later - busy at work now - but Reichian stuff about people accepting authority because of internalised sexual repression is speculative balls, with no evidence to support it at all. When Solidarity re-published that stuff a second time later on (see Brinton - For Workers' Power) they even gave a disclaimer saying that bit of it was "overstated" IIRC, I think they may have been even more critical than that.

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Mar 22 2006 10:24

roll eyes your just saying that because your parents caught you wanking grinammit can't find freud smilie anywhere will just have to wink: wink

John. wrote:
speculative balls

Is something on your mind John.? is it your mother?

I love circular arguments. You're in denial. No I'm not. Aha!

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Mar 22 2006 12:06

Hi

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When Solidarity re-published that stuff a second time later on they even gave a disclaimer saying that bit of it was "overstated"

Sounds more like Solidarity regressing back into the grey left milieu prior to its final disintegration. I take it you mean this weak kneed nonsense…

Quote:
We are republishing this text with reservations. Were it not for the fact that the previous version on the web is now offline and the also that one of us had downloaded it to read at work, we certainly wouldn't go to the effort of scanning it all in! It's a good starting point for the issues discussed, but we would ask you to read it critically. We don't have time for a full critique at the moment, but our initial thoughts are that the text is very much a product of its times. Things have moved on from the 1970s and it would not be appropriate to write such a text today without being extremely critical of Freud, and of the attitudes towards women ("housewives") and the working class shown in the text. That said, being rooted in the early 1970s is a great improvement on many other anarchists and communists, who still display attitudes rooted in the 1870s. It should go without saying that some aspects of sexual repression has changed since this text was written (for example, in relation to A.I.D.S., and also the pseudo-liberation of commoditised sex as presented by the media).

The notion that Brinton had an inappropriate attitude towards “the working class” is simply farcical.

Quote:
Reichian stuff about people accepting authority because of internalised sexual repression is speculative balls

Maybe it would be, had he proposed it explicitly rather than drawn upon the notion. The point Brinton actually makes is that authoritarian conditioning causes us to internally justify never getting what we want. In the end we start seeing the denial of our desires as normal, and their realisation as being deviant. When our actions are no longer concerned with realising our desires but justifying their inhibition, then we act irrationally.

As a celebrated brain expert with a relationship with Castoriadis, a practicing psychoanalyst, I’d say Brinton was eminently qualified to speculate on such matters.

Love

LR

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Mar 22 2006 12:21

grin

Lazy Riser's picture
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Mar 22 2006 13:25

Hi

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Of course it was simplistic and patronising even when was first written but in this epoch it is just plain quaint, rather like the Gang of Fours lyrics.

I suppose there might be some truth to this. After all, weren’t SoB / Solidarity meant to leave the corpse of the left behind for the likes of revol68 to pick over?

Remember comrades. Under the paving stones, the beach!

LR

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Mar 22 2006 13:29

Hi

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The lack of widepread knowledge of or belief in libertarian alternatives reflects a generally defeated and inward-looking workers' movement.

What evidence does the working class have that a “libertarian alternative” is better than the prevailing order?

Love

LR

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Mar 22 2006 13:35

Hi

Good question.

Love

JK

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Mar 22 2006 13:55

Hi

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the working class produces it's own alternatives in struggle.

So they say, and yet it has not. What alternatives do you think will be "produced" by the pensions strike?

Quite a lot of working class people have been struggling to find an affordable dentist lately, I can’t see them producing an alternative in the foreseeable, can you?

Love

LR

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Mar 22 2006 14:01
Revol68 wrote:
The act brings into being the belief.

Does that not make us purely reactive, since without belief in something to act for, we can only resist, fighting defensive struggles (if nonetheless then becoming aware of our power, perhaps rediscovering workers councils/community assemblies etc)?

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Mar 22 2006 14:03

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you and ian bone sucking off Lemmy in a live sex show?

Genius. That will definitely work. Get it sorted.

Quote:
Just cos there doesn't seem like much happening on the surface doesn't mean to say there isn't a tribe of moles beavering away.

Under the paving stones, the moles!

Love

LR

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Mar 22 2006 14:06

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any action by the working class against capital is a essentially negative one, but in it's negativity it open a space for a positive subjectivity.

That's a bit pro-situ for you, isn't it?

Love

LR

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Mar 22 2006 14:07
Revol68 wrote:
any action by the working class against capital is a essentially negative one, but in it's negativity it open a space for a positive subjectivity.

Hegel fan perchance?

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Mar 22 2006 14:08

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Don't get him started. Anyway where is all this positve subjectivity? I can't see any. It must be a bit too subjective.

Love

LR

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Mar 22 2006 14:13

No comments on thesis 2? They're all pretty flimsy. Don't make me come over all Hegelian and start negating myself ....

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Joseph Kay
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Mar 22 2006 15:02

try saying 'micropolitics', its a Foucauldian magnet wink

dara
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Mar 22 2006 15:58

talk about the necessity of capital to constantly reterritorialise the activity of the ever forming subject.

embarrassed

oooh, i feel wonderful...

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Mar 22 2006 16:55

Hi

In Woolacombe there really is a beach under the paving stones.

Love

LR

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Mar 23 2006 13:28

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It seems people have an increasingly anarchist analysis of voting.

The non-voters I speak to are wise to the fact that three parties have always had roughly the same political agenda. Dennis Healey was the father of monetarism in this country, it was only the trade union influence on policy which made the government ineffective against the strikes in the late 70’s. Thatcher continued the economic policy. The moment the IMF loan was paid off, the publics’ yearning for an end to austerity put Labour in power on a belt-slackening ticket.

Labour never intended to ramp up the economy to create the wealth required to provide for our basic requirements for housing and health care. The bulk of benefit is directed towards children in low income households, but we’re left with high tax, no housing, no dentists, no hospitals and no industrial activity likely to be able to rectify the situation. The result? Higher energy prices, pension crisis, “financial mismanagement” in the public sector, back-handers from and to Capita Group, and a reduction in the living standards afforded to the working class in exchange for satellite TV and mobile phones.

When people can’t find a dentist, do they consider where the resources that used to provide NHS dental care have gone? No. But they hold the reason in their hand whenever they send a text or change the channel on their digibox.

The working class learn from struggle do they? What have we learned so far then?

Michael Howard wrote:
one of the key things that people like me have to realise is that most people in our country are not interested in politics, are not interested in politicians, do not wake up every morning to the dulcet tones of Mr Humphrys and Mr Naughtie, don't watch Prime Minister's Questions on television, don't watch Question Time or listen to Any Questions? - they are not interested in those things. What they are interested in are the things they come up against in their daily lives. They do want decent schools for their children, they do want to be able to go to a GP when they want to and to have a decent hospital to go to, and they want to feel safe on their streets and in their homes. Yet often they don't connect their concerns over those things which matter hugely to them with the world of politics. There's a huge disconnect. Our task is to convince the people of this country that in respect of those problems which they face every day, we have the policies and ideas that could make things better for them.

Love

LR

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Mar 25 2006 14:36

Why are we talking about the working class as a group seperate to us. We're all working class unless we're business owners.

And lazy Riser, a libertarian society in which I'm an equal in my workplace and community rather than a subordinate, taking part in making my own decisions rather than having no choice but to follow orders - that sounds a fuck of a lot better than what we hve now to me.

I think the appeal of libertarian ideas is pretty fundamental. The desire to "be your own boss" is a very common one. To follow orders is humiliating, even if we amnage to get used to it through years of practise. The "proof" that the working class needs that the libertarian alternative(s) is better is seems fucking obvious to me.

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Mar 25 2006 16:24

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We're all working class unless we're business owners

Some business owners are working class. Eg. Self employed tradesmen. If you want to be really authentically working class then it’s best not to be pedantic when a comrade slips into the third person about it.

Quote:
And lazy Riser, a libertarian society in which I'm an equal in my workplace and community rather than a subordinate, taking part in making my own decisions rather than having no choice but to follow orders - that sounds a fuck of a lot better than what we hve now to me.

I’m pleased to hear it, although bemused as to why you’re addressing me personally.

Quote:
I think the appeal of libertarian ideas is pretty fundamental. The desire to "be your own boss" is a very common one.

Agreed. However few of the libertarian milieu would promote this point. They’re hardly the friends of every aspiring small businessman.

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To follow orders is humiliating, even if we amnage to get used to it through years of practise.

It depends. If you’ve got self-confidence then it’s easy to follow orders without being humiliated. Even senior surgeons follow the orders of more experienced colleagues. What does a plumber do when he/she fixes your boiler? Whose orders are being followed then? Yours.

Quote:
The "proof" that the working class needs that the libertarian alternative(s) is better is seems fucking obvious to me.

Agreed, again. So why then do the public tolerate the prevailing system and why is there no viable libertarian movement capitalising on this "proof"?

Love

LR

PhilipRewcroft
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Mar 25 2006 18:47

The capitalist system has particular economic relations, so you would not be able to 'vote it out' by the parliamentry system; the relations of production would have to be revolutionised. Russia, between 1917 and 1991 was a semi-capitalist society because there was still owners of the means of production, the state, and non-owners.

The nascent Roman Republic understood that evident disparity in wealth engenders social unrest. They accordingly made it possible for individuals to be demoted down a class (of which there was six, created by Servius) if they ostentatiously showed off their wealth.

Liberal economics do not create a ubiquitously prosperous society- 37 million live below the poverty line in the United States. But what is?

afraser
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Mar 25 2006 20:04
Lazy Riser wrote:
If capitalism is so bad, why don’t people vote it out?

Because of a lack of viable alternative proposals, itself a symptom of the failure of leadership we have been suffering from.

Lions led by donkeys (also weasels, running dogs, various other animal types).

And that applies to all tactics, direct action as much as voting.

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Mar 25 2006 20:47

I agree that there is quite simply a lack of knowledge of viable alternatives. When most people (including me in the near past) think that its either what we have now or the USSR, can you be surprised they stick with capitalism? When you say anarchism, they think bombs or teenage rebellion. If you say anarchist communism they'll say "how can you be an anarchist AND a communist? And for any marketeers, not many people I've spoken to know about mutualism, workers cooperatives or mutual banking. So its largely lack of persuasive propoganda, or at least a lack of circulation.

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Mar 27 2006 09:06

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The capitalist system has particular economic relations, so you would not be able to 'vote it out' by the parliamentry system

You’re on to something there. Walk us through how economic relations in Switzerland are currently preventing them from “voting out capitalism”.

Quote:
Russia, between 1917 and 1991 was a semi-capitalist society because there was still owners of the means of production, the state, and non-owners

It was fully capitalist. The bureaucracy was (is) an authentic bourgeoisie.

Love

LR

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Mar 27 2006 09:15

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not many people I've spoken to know about mutualism, workers cooperatives or mutual banking

Am I right in thinking that most self-identified communists reject these perspectives? Favouring instead a democratic version of the traditional socialist planned economy

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So its largely lack of persuasive propoganda, or at least a lack of circulation.

I'm not so sure. All the persuasive propaganda in the world can’t patch the left’s vacant political philosophy.

Love

LR

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Mar 27 2006 09:17
Lazy Riser wrote:
Walk us through how economic relations in Switzerland are currently preventing them from “voting out capitalism”.

Well since banking/finance is the strongest sector of the economy and there may be little in terms of an actual productive base (a brief foray to wikipedia has left me none-the-wiser, do they still make cheese, watches and chocolate wink ?), a capital strike would screw them up a bit, though of course they would get to abolish all those pointless jobs there might not be the real productive capacity to take over?

Anyway, its not my argument wink, imho its got a lot more to do with (lack of) belief in alternatives, if its Stalinism or Capitalism its reassuring people choose Capitalism.

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Mar 27 2006 13:02

I'm a self identified anarchist communist, but I still support mutualism, both as an aim thats a lot better than what we have now and as a tactic, because its a small step from having an economy of workers co-ops them creating federations and instituting a gift economy if they wish.

Anyway, mutualism would be a planned economy, according to some models. If you have democratically run local mutual credit banks, part of the point is to put the local community in control of investment, whilst the rest is left to the market. If local communities don't have the power to determine who the banks invest in, they couldn't stop them from investing in capitalist enterprises and fucking up the whole thing.

But this is off topic, so sorry.

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Apr 12 2006 19:25

Hi

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imho its got a lot more to do with (lack of) belief in alternatives

What alternative is being proposed? Libertarian Communism? It’s feasible that the public’s scepticism is justified.

Love

LR

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Apr 13 2006 13:47

If you asked people what libertarian communism is most of them probably wouldn't know, so its unfair to talk of public sceptiscism. But its all very well to state enigmatically that scepticism may be justified, but its quite another thing to actually justify it.

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Apr 13 2006 14:56

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If you asked people what libertarian communism is most of them probably wouldn't know

I know a lot of non-political types who quite eloquently explain that neither the USSR, nor China were/are “true communists” they also fully understand libertarianism and are more than capable of understanding the communism proffered by both the ICC and the anarchists.

It’s not even as if they think communism is naive, idealistic or unworkable, they just think it sounds really grim. Work rotas for socially necessary but unpleasant jobs? Abolition of private ownership of housing? An end to shopping as we know it?

Perhaps you’d like to try your hand at a 10 second doorstep pitch…

http://libcom.org/forums/viewtopic.php?t=9209

Love

LR