Some thoughts relating to the recent events in Prague

Submitted by redtwister on December 15, 2005

1.The likely beneficiaries of the actions in Prague are the Ecology Movement, in its broadest sense, which means the careers of individuals and groups/parties who represent all sorts of ecological politics. (I have used the term "Ecology Movement" in order to highlight where this movement originates, which is also a pointer to where it will end up).

2.The Ecology Movement has recently stepped up a gear. It has taken over the old ideology of "anti-imperialism" (which is a political position which supports national liberation) and subtly altered it so that it can now be called "anti-big corporation", or "anti-finance", or "anti-multinational" and even "anti-capitalist". The Ecology Movement has now gone beyond rather vague notions of "saving the planet" and into serious world politics. Influenced, no doubt, by the work of such people as Noam Chomsky, these ecologists now identify most of the worst aspects of life on this planet as being attributable to the actions of the US ruling class. As the US is the most powerful military and economic State in the world this analysis does have an element of truth! However (and this goes back to Chomsky also) the Ecologists perceive the antidote to US world hegemony to be forms of national self-determination throughout the world (despite their talk about "community" and "localism") and the deposing of US-client tyrants in countries where there is no democracy and the economy is highly fragile and unstable.

3.The Ecology Movement has developed a global economic strategy based on national self-determination. What actually transpires as a result of this policy is anyone's guess. My guess is that the Ecology Movement could begin to create global political parties. This is an irony for the pro-national liberation/anti-imperialist supporters of "anti-globalisation". But, if the world economic system is now increasingly perceived as "global" (in an imperialist sense rather than in the sense that we all live in the same economy and in the same class society) then the radical saviours of capitalism will come up with global ideologies and a global practice, as the Ecology Movement already has done (Greenpeace and Green Parties are the International Eco-Party in embryo). Having got away from a strictly ecological perspective there will now be much more room for co-operation between the leading theorists and activists of the Ecology Movement and its friends around the world. The Ecology Movement may now identify itself with a world Democracy movement. On board already are many of the intellectual radical liberals who surround people like Noam Chomsky. In years to come we may have the same political party in power in different countries. Parties with the same members, the same constitutions, the same President (or Collective Presidency), etc.
This is not just a bit of fantasy that comes from out of thin air. The Ecology Movement is trying to reflect and "combat" (or benefit from) what they perceive as the "globalisation" of the economy and the hegemony of the US. While "globalisation" is nothing new, Capital's handling (or mystifying) of the world proletariat (especially in the "third world") may be in need of a change (various ruling classes have struggled on bravely without the succour and con of the Cold War to rely on in their domestic and foreign policies). The Ecology Movement is going to help capitalism seem much nicer, offering the prospect and hope of a democratic world where each nation will work together as equals (making sure the proles stay underfoot of course, and don't spoil the countryside). This democracy and national self-determination will, of course, be in the interests of the ruling classes of the US and Western Europe, but the Ecologists et al won't realise this for some time, and when they do they will hush it up.

4.The Ecology Movement (and the project of democracy/national self-determination) is a lizard which has shed its skin, and it is crawling right out from the heart of Western European and US capitalism. This lizard has the face (or is that "logo"?) of Naomi Klein (of "No Logo"). Capitalism has so many good friends, prepared to offer advice and help out in times of trouble, it need never worry about whether it will survive or not.

5."Anti-imperialism" has been able to become "anti-capitalism" because of the conflation of the concepts of "capitalism" and "finance capital". If finance capital is the dominant mode of capitalism then opposing it could be called "anti-capitalism". Calling for an end to all "third world" debt becomes an "anti-capitalist" demand. But in reality capitalism still relies on the work of producers (the working class) around the globe. If nothing is made under the present economic conditions then there is no finance capital winging its way around the world. In the world of the "anti-globalist" everything that is bad has to do with the way money is used in world terms, and the cure for this is to change the way money is used, i.e., spread it about more evenly. At no point is the very motor of capitalism questioned, i.e., production for profit and the position of the working class. In fact it is promoted and hailed as the saviour of the "poor" countries, because once "they" are free of their debts then these countries will be able to build up their economies. At the moment, the anti-globalists argue, the "poor" countries don't get the chance to do this, and of course, they are right. But arguing for such a political and economic change in world affairs is plainly not anti-capitalist.

6.The advancement in political theory that the Ecology movement has undergone (i.e., reclaiming "anti-imperialism") must have been in part due to the involvement of many on the left who have been drawn into "ecological" struggles across the world. For decades now "anarchists" have supplied the shock troops of the Ecology Movement. This seems very apparent at the moment, where anarchists from all over were fighting the police and ritually trashing McDonalds, while the spokespeople for the Ecology Movement (including INPEG) are saying that they "don't approve of the violence, but it shows the level of feeling that there is and if you don't let us into positions of power these things are only going to get more out of control".

7.In this sense the anarchist participants at Prague may be acting as the foot-soldiers of the Ecology Movement and be actively helping the creation of political elites whose sole aim (apart from power and glory) is to help capitalism work better. If you look at the contents of the INPEG Counter Summit you will see that it is dominated by discussions led by liberal academic experts (bourgeois radicals) who are arguing, of course, not for the destruction of the economy, but its resuscitation.
They are no doubt well-meaning. But the world working class has had enough of the well-meaning!

8.One interesting contribution to this Counter Summit comes from representatives of the Movimento Sem Terra (MST), the Landless Rural Workers Movement of Brazil. The heart of what is trying to be achieved by actions like S26 probably originates in what the MST represents (and its "dependency theory" outlook). The MST is an organisation that aims to bring various groups (not only rural labourers) together in order to change the policies of the Brazilian Government. An organisation like the MST has been able to make an impact because of the increasing misery being suffered by sections of the Brazilian working class. On the land in recent years small producers have been hit extremely hard by declining incomes, increasing interest rates and the expansions of the largest estates. This has led to masses of landless labourers being forced out of the countryside entirely. The MST has had various successes in organising and maintaining land grabs and confronting the Government over their rural and economic policies, and now the MST is trying to forge a united front with urban organisations and trades unions. (It is important to remember with things like this that the organisers, here the MST, become "successful" because of the actions and radicalism of the people they aim to organise. And these people, or masses, have been set in motion, or radicalised, by the daily living conditions they face, not the "propaganda" of the organising group. We can see this phenomenon in the formation of any trade union or any "movement" based on real proletarian actions, such as Lotta Continua in 1970's Italy). The MST uses anti-capitalist rhetoric but does not seek to abolish capitalism, rather it seeks to control the financiers and change the policies of the Government. It seeks to "put people before profits".
Much of their criticism is directed towards imperialism, specifically US imperialism. It is no secret, of course that the ruling class of the US is a leading (if not the leading) player in the economy of Brazil, as well as most of Central and South America. The politics of the MST in this regard are specifically anti-imperialist, meaning anti-US, while they do not seem to embrace the open Leninism of Fidel Castro they do admire him as the leading anti-imperialist of the region. The MST wants the Brazilian Government to be less compliant in its relations with the US and its corporations. We can see that anti-imperialism here is the same as national liberation from US tyranny.
Sections of the Brazilian proletariat will probably already have come into conflict with the leadership of the MST, and if the MST continues to grow in influence we can expect more conflicts of interest. While the MST aims to "control" capitalism, the destiny of proletarians is unavoidably to intermittently attack the basis of any such project. National liberation movements (as well as Leninist or Maoist take-overs) throughout the world have always had to deal with proletarians who do not behave "responsibly" and threaten "the national effort", by striking against their (national/local) bosses or collectively trying to end their position as wage slaves.

9.At the present time capitalism faces a threat from the working classes of various "developing" countries. The reactions of proletarians in these places to ongoing impoverishment and economic instability, allied with Governmental ineptitude or lack of authority, may prove uncontrollable. The MST is a "symptom" of this threat. The threat is also clearly understood by the luminaries of the "anti-globalisation" movement, which is why they are putting forward proposals of how to "avert the crisis", and why they are arguing that their voice needs to be listened to by those who presently dominate the world economy. "Putting people before profit" is always misleading and always a slogan of those who (in effect) want to save capitalism from the fruits of its own excesses.

10.How should the true anti-capitalists involved in such actions as S26 make their presence felt? A lot of the participants (including anarchists) will have swallowed the dominant myths of Globalisation, third worldism and anti-imperialism (under its new name of "anti-capitalism"). If we are to take part in this sort of action then we have to critique it, by leafleting, speaking and "attacking" in whatever ways feasible the dominant ideology and the promoters of it. If we are silent we risk being the pawns of the luminaries of the movement and we have abandoned the possibility of forcing activists who will listen to us to consider more communist, truly anti-capitalist perspectives and positions.
It is easy to use the benefit of hindsight, but it seems clear that genuine anti-capitalists should have been armed to the teeth with critiques of INPEG. Certainly now, after S26, it is imperative that true anti-capitalists attack remorselessly the ideology and practice of groups like INPEG. Any sensible, or radicalising, critique will re-assert a class analysis, point to where the real power of the working class lies and explain why the proletariat will prove itself as much against the proposed new world order of the "anti-globalists" as it is against the present state of affairs.