A - I n f o s
a multi-lingual news service by, for, and about anarchists **

News in all languages
Last 40 posts (Homepage) Last two weeks' posts

The last 100 posts, according to language
Castellano_ Deutsch_ Nederlands_ English_ Français_ Italiano_ Polski_ Português_ Russkyi_ Suomi_ Svenska_ Trk�_ The.Supplement

The First Few Lines of The Last 10 posts in:
Castellano_ Deutsch_ Nederlands_ English_ Français_ Italiano_ Polski_ Português_ Russkyi_ Suomi_ Svenska_ Trk�
First few lines of all posts of last 24 hours || of past 30 days | of 2002 | of 2003 | of 2004 | of 2005 | of 2006 | of 2007 | of 2008

Syndication Of A-Infos - including RDF | How to Syndicate A-Infos
Subscribe to the a-infos newsgroups
{Info on A-Infos}

(en) Australia, Sydney, anarchist zine Mutiny #32 - Beyond Economic Meltdown, further notes on the financial crisis by Grumpy Cat

Date Sat, 22 Nov 2008 16:19:01 +0200

As I write, global capitalism appears to be either, on the verge of, or well
within, a major crisis. Revolutionary anticapitalists should not use this moment
to celebrate the suffering of our enemies. Comfortable narratives that
mechanically believe that economic crisis leads to the end of capitalism must be
dismissed. Soberingly, we should remember that the major economic crisis of the
20th Century resulted in fascism, war and the deaths of millions; and that
without the development of collective struggle(s), crisis provides capitalism
with an opportunity to restructure and counter-attack. Indeed as 40,000 people
starve to death everyday when capitalism is functioning `well', it's hard to
feel joy when it functions `badly'.

Alain Badiou writes how the current
finical crisis is like watching a disaster
movie: "Nothing is missing, the spectacle
of mounting disaster, the feeling of
being suspended from enormous
puppet-strings...But hope abides. In the
foreground, wild-eyed and focussed, like
in a disaster movie, we see the small
gang of the powerful ­ Sarkozy, Paulson,
Merkel, Brown, Trichet and others ­
trying to extinguish the monetary flames,
stuffing tens of billions into the central
Hole." If the crisis immobilises us, we then
call on saviours: the good politicians and
financial managers. But can we act for
ourselves? What is crucial for Badiou is
the development of ideas and collective
actions "everything we need to turn away
from the film of the crisis and rise up."
One difficulty in responding to the crisis
is the fetishised nature of social relations
in capitalist society. As Marx argues, in
a society where the capitalist mode of
production prevails, human creativity is on
the whole transformed into commodities.
Part of the nature of the commodity is that
this creativity appears estranged from us,
and embodied in the thing we created.
Therefore, whilst global capitalism is
produced by the activities of billions of
people, it is experienced as if our products
are active and we are their objects. This of
course reaches a bizarre apex in money
and then in financial markets. Money
takes on a life of its own. In contemporary
global capitalism money appears to be
a supernatural force directing human
society and passions here and there due to
confusing and uncontrollable whims. And
of course in a strange way this is true. In
capitalism it is the abstract and fetishised
forms of value that posses agency and
we are their disposed creators: except
when people rebel against this situation;
something they do all the time.
The Effects of the Crisis.
What will be the effects of the crisis? In the
absence of any challenges to capitalism
from below, probably horrific. The majority
of us (the multitude, the proletariat, etc)
are already reduced to a situation where
the only thing we have to `sell' in capitalism
is our labour: our creative ability. And
I am not just talking about the work we
do for pay, but also all the unwaged work
we do. As our lives have been reduced
into working for capitalism, a crisis in
capitalism is for us a trauma. Already
we are seeing restricted state spending,
job losses and tighter credit: increasing
poverty, austerity and difficulties.
What makes this particular crisis so
difficult for us is the specific crisis in
finance capital. Part of the `deal' that
capital previously offered workers in
Australia was that if we `agreed' (not that
we were ever really asked) to work longer
and more intensely then we would be
offered increased levels of consumption.
(And let's not forget that this high level of
consumption was still a very alienating
mode of life.) This worked through credit:
we were able to borrow to have access
to more money than our wages. In past
periods of capitalism, to get more money
we had to struggle for increased wages,
which was often done through collective
action. With easy credit we could gain
more money as individuals: and our debt
compelled us back to work.
Through our superannuation and our
investments more and more of us
depended either partly or totally on the
health of the financial markets. This also
works to further bind us to capital. When
stocks collapsed, this meant that not only
CEOs will have lost their riches, but that
millions of workers face massive cuts in
their incomes and retirement savings.
We can also speculate about the future.
Capitalism will use this crisis to reconstruct
itself. We can be quite sure that capitalism
will try to drive down the value of labour-
power and/or increase the intensity and
rate of work, through a range of possible
struggles: mass unemployment, longer
hours, shorter hours.
We can also speculate that the crisis in
capitalism and capital's reaction may
increase the hierarchy and conflict within
the proletariat. Divisions and hierarchies
of difference (race, gender, etc) are
a fundamental part of how capitalism
works. Capitalist ideologies of racism will
most likely be deployed and also there is
always the chance that in hard and difficult
times, the class will collapse into itself in
vortexes of violence and identity.
Political Errors.
There seem to be two errors that the Left
might make. The first stems from a failure
to understand the nature of neoliberalism.
It has been common to typify neoliberalism
as the triumph of the `Market' over the
`State'. The failure of neoliberalism as the
hegemonic ideology of capitalism and the
return of some kind of state intervention ­
is then seen as a victory. It is mistakenly
seen as if it will mean the taming of
capitalism's excess and the rebirth of
the great reformist projects of the 20th
Capitalism is not the market. Capitalism
is a system built on the exploitation and
commodification of human creativity, and
the entire social order that is necessary
to sustain this. Both the state and the
market, that is the `political' organisation
of society and `economic' organisation of
society, are just elements of capitalism.
Keynesianism (an economic theory that
calls on the state to stimulate economic
growth through taxtaion and programs of
social spending) or neoliberalism are just
different ways that the essentially same
system operates.
Secondly since economic crisis will most
likely see a drop in consumption there is
a misanthropic green hope that this will
be good news for the earth. This fails
to understand that a simple drop in the
volume of consumption does not mean
that capital's effect on the globe will be
lessened. Capitalism is not about simply
selling large amounts of things. It is about
realising surplus-value. If less actual
commodities are being sold capitalism may
attempt to increase the amount of surplus
value embodied in each commodity: either
by driving down the cost of labour or by
increasing productivity or both. Either
may increase the amount of pollution and
ecological damage caused. A drive to
cheap labour and low-cost production in
the Global South is often associated with
cheaper and more polluting technologies,
whilst a move to higher productivity can
mean a corresponding leap in the amount
of energy, thus probably fossil fuels, used
in production.
Our Hope, Our Selves.
We should be careful about predicting
apocalypses. We should stay away from
the idea that fear can build a revolutionary
movement. That said we only have
to look across the globe to see many
places where life is either unliveable or
unbearable already. Yet it is not misery
that will abolish capitalism, it is hope
despite misery that is the core moment of
our freedom.
Our struggle is over how much we can
separate ourselves from being reduced
to our labour power. I don't believe that
this can really be achieved individually:
each individual `escape' from capitalism
rests on a world of collective struggle.
The challenge is how to transform our
relations with each other so we are no
longer subordinate to capitalism but
rather, develop a politics from below that
enables the multitude to live for itself .
I do not believe such a politics can arise
simply from the growth of ideological
groups, however sparkling their ideology.
Rather it is a question of trying to install, or
perhaps help grow, politics from existing
conflicts in society and solidarities within
the class. Whilst `Left' politics in its
organised form is in disarray, practices
of cooperation and rebellion remain part
of our daily lives and countless people
express varying levels of critiques of
capitalist society.
We should not try to tail the intervention of
the state in the hope of making capitalism
nicer, nor can we only sit on the side lines
preaching `Revolution'. Perhaps there is a
way of struggling today that accumulates
relations of solidarity and opens up
the possibility of actually creating
communism. This could involve refusal:
refuse to except job cuts, or evictions, or
price rises. It could also involve creation,
the development of popular assemblies
as the place of generating our constituent
power. And perhaps (and I pose this
point especially as a point of debate) we
could actually create demands to fight for
in a way that escapes the electorialism
and statism of reformism: demands for
a general social income, or a reduced
working week with no reduction in pay,
funding for community workshops, etc.
Is it possible to pose concrete demands
and fight for them in ways that expand
social antagonism, that increase levels of
internal class solidarity and intensify our
feeling and realisation of our separation
for capitalist society? Such demands
run the risk of becoming part of a social
democratic or liberal attempt to construct
a "more just society," when talk of a "more
just society" are often scams to make us
try to fix a system we need to abolish.
Where to start? What are we already
doing, what links of solidarity and self
activity however limited already operate?
What are possible ways of deepening
them, of intensifying antagonism? The
very first step seems simple, to agree to
assemble, to agree to meet, perhaps to
meet in new ways. We might need to lay
down the ideological armour, take up the
uncertainty of critical thought, lay down
the projects of building the organisation,
take up extending the self-organisation of
the class. From here we can experiment
in ways of really amplifying autonomy.
A - I N F O S N E W S S E R V I C E
By, For, and About Anarchists
Send news reports to A-infos-en mailing list
Subscribe/Unsubscribe http://ainfos.ca/cgi-bin/mailman/listinfo/a-infos-en
Archive: http://ainfos.ca/en

A-Infos Information Center