On the recent threat of eviction for 300 asylum seekers.

The above is not just about the eviction of the vulnerable. This is the neoliberal project ramping up and testing our resistance. This is a message being sent out to all of the vulnerable in our city and in our country. Neoliberalism flexing its muscle, in this particular area, to see how much we will take and what they can get and where they will go next.

It is not only about asylum, but to create fear in all of those in the grip off housing systems run by the psychopaths of business, who should be nowhere near providing social housing. That’s the councils job. But then, it is not a problem of Serco, the council or the government. It is a problem for the people who “make Glasgow” and is a plague on all of our houses. Because if it isn’t Serco, or Carillion, it would be some other parasite. Some other group of business hyenas, nipping at the heals of our public services, pensions, wages, working conditions, environment, education and commons, for a way in, till there are no public services left. When their work is finished after exploiting and wringing dry the safety nets afforded to poor and destitute, then they will come for the middle classes. It needs to be remembered, that middle class aspirations are as meaningless to neoliberalism, as are the mass evictions of poor families. The fight back should not wait till it comes to the doors of out houses but should start at the front end of the wedge with those who suffer most.
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My shame as a Glaswegian, is not caused by Serco. I know what Serco do and their ambitions. My shame lies in the fact that many in our city, who have the power to do otherwise, can stand back and watch these things unfold, then throw their hands up in disbelief, in feigned ignorance. It is the misconceived idea that people might think it will not affect or has nothing to do with them.

Asylum seekers are not weak, people. They are many courageous, strong and not faint of heart. The experience of their journey should tell us that. They are the kind of people whose experience we need on our side. They know what struggle means. They know how the system works, here and from where they have come from. That is why they need to be made weak, through racism, no right to work and scapegoated by Murdock’s press. And of course helped along by the stupidity and deniability of the polity and those who believe that they still have some power over corporations like Serco. This is something the various administrations gave up long ago when they agreed to the neoliberal projects terms. And why many fade into the background, richer, after their term of office.

Unlike short term party politics, neoliberalism, like rust never sleeps and if ignored continues to eat things away in the background throughout multi administrations, till eventually they collapse. Then we are left with the usual party games of “It wasn’t us it was them”. “He said she said” and on and on.

As the cliche goes. You can not keep doing the same thing over and over and expect something different to happen. We do not have any rights, whether you are an asylum seeker or are comfortable off with a job and house. Having and defending rights is an activity not a given. They do not come through protest, prophetic speech, bursts of energy, Facebook, voting, your council, government, or speaking truth to power. These things are helpful to a point, but are just a cop-out if not connected to organising.

Something different is beginning to happen. Many of our young folk are beginning to see through the overgrowth of fakery, the technological overkill that smothers thinking that has been such an influence so far on their lives. The idea that People do make change if they can become involved. And that becoming involved is about face to face communications.

Something different happens through diligent organising. Straight forward communication with those you find around us. Not just speaking to our friends, fellow activists, those you like, agree with, or those who have already been convinced. But to people who can expand and increase activism across the community. Struggle is continuous and there is a need to invest in building the institutions that can sustain the efforts of struggle against the Serco’s of any other name and their apologists. Proper organising, cooperation, and the ability to work together which many find difficult, is the elephant in the room.

The email list needs to get bigger every week as do the amount of people needing to be spoken to. Not just through email, but face to face. Community members need to be invested in personally, they need to be encouraged on board, they need to be encouraged to be the new community leaders. Those that live and work in the communities to be organised. Whoever they may be, locals, unemployed, homeless, asylum seekers and those nearest the destitution line. This has always been the case for organising, since the days of collectively protecting ourselves from the sabre tooth tiger. Today the predator is the warfare state.

One thing the right, the hate speechers, the racists and distributors of fake news understand is that. When ordinary people get organised they are less likely to be lied to. And when they do get organised they soon realise that they have more in common with asylum seekers and all others who suffer through the same generic persecution tactics, of divide and rule, and that the enemy is above us, not below us.

But how do ordinary people progress to something better through the constant and persistent brain scrambling media noise, of junk news, product placement and the advertising industry, rendering their brain only capable of thinking, survival?

How can they organise?

How does the young university trained activist and others, born with a keyboard in their hand, social media savvy, demonstration ready and a degree under their arm, understand about what is happening in a community? (remembering all communities are different, different needs.) How do they organise? The answer should be obvious if we juxtapose this and the last paragraph.

But not on Facebook

Many are realising. Facebook is the disease, not the cure. Which is why the far right like it. How can people organise around something that keeps moving and is designed to do the complete opposite to organisation?

2.2 billion people use Facebook and according to Siva Vaidhyanathan, author of Antisocial Media: How Facebook Disconnects Us and Undermines Democracy and is probably the worst place to start to understand things.
“Facebook is a terrible place to deliberate about the world. It’s a really effective place if you want to motivate people toward all sorts of ends, like getting out to a rally. But it’s terrible if you actually want to think and discuss and deliberate about the problems in the world. And what the world needs now more than anything are more opportunities to deliberate calmly and effectively and with real information. And Facebook is working completely against that goal.”

Some of us may know all of this. But where do ordinary working people stand? The need for re-humanising and face to face politics has never been greater. The politics of how we communicate ideas, come to decisions and act on them. The idea is not to just defend ourselves when the Serco’s of the world decide to attack. But to build the kind of understanding, awareness and resistance that will deny this kind of tyranny over us and to stop our governments continued reliance on their services. This kind of learning needs proper discussion, not something that passes on a Facebook feed.

We see all around us the efforts of individuals, unions, pressure groups and all kinds of activities. We are ready to go. But we need to go together. The recent action against Serco is heartening and smaller victories can lead to bigger ones, when we understand the important roll solidarity plays in them. We need to each join something, talk to people, enroll a neighbour, get out, show up. It is the only way we have win things before and the way to win things again, if we can build on victories. We do not need to be party reps to knock on doors, talk to folk and find out what they are thinking. This old idea seems to be reinventing itself and should be built upon, like Living Rent, and so on. And while we do this, we need to rethink alternatives to the out sourcing madness and rentier culture that has replaced good governance and the prospect of a decent life for ordinary people. People do make Glasgow. But they need to start believing it and acting accordingly.

The mad people are running out of ideas for containing us. The young are getting smarter. This could be the time

“It may be easier than we think.” Ralph Nader

The Radical Imagination Project

Where is the left I want to join it?

Thoughts on: The reinvigorating of the common dream and the struggle for a broader collective social conscience.

“Enough of the perfection of differences! We ought to be building bridges.” Todd Gitlin

In Gitlin’s book. The Twilight Of The Common Dream he explains this “obsession with group differences” as the (unintended) legacy of the progressive social movements of the 1960’s, which operated on the principle of separate organization on behalf of distinct interests, rather than a universal principle of equality.’ ENotes  

Continue reading “Where is the left I want to join it?”

The last neoliberal frontier of social life

Recreational time particularly in a public park is personal and shouldn’t be defined or dictated by the state or held ransom by profiteering and commercial interests.

Fences have become topical these days from the mighty versions planned in the head of the president of the united states, to the barriers of asylum, the psychological, as well as physical barriers of  class, race, gender and commerce. The first thing we should think about in coming across a wall or barrier of any description is what is its purpose? For whose benefit?

The Radical Imagination Project tries to encourage folk to become involved in public life, because we believe it is the only hope we have for stopping the neoliberal project that has infiltrated every aspect of our private and public life. To a point which exposes just how lax our government has been that we now find ourselves subservient to possibly the worst and most dangerous western government administration in history.

Continue reading “The last neoliberal frontier of social life”

Glasgow Life – Dices in death

Arms fair what next

Our city administration has just hosted it’s first arms fair. At the protest against it, we meet our comrades, stalwarts of the movement for change and various groups representing those at the sharp end of the conflicts that the arms on offer at this event, massacre and maim.

Protest almost seems the pursuit only for students pensioners and those with time on their hands to spend in the library engrossed in books and newspapers and who have the capacity of building a critical perspective on these things. That is not to decry people who can do this, but to emphasise the importance of extending their knowledge to others in creating engagement for building a broader movement for change. Continue reading “Glasgow Life – Dices in death”

Out in the Open -Remarks on the Trump Election-

Out in the Open

— Remarks on the Trump Election —

BUREAU OF PUBLIC SECRETS
November 16, 2016

 

Powerful though they may be, irrational popular tendencies are not irresistible forces. They contain their own contradictions. Clinging to some absolute authority is not necessarily a sign of faith in authority; it may be a desperate attempt to overcome one’s increasing doubts (the convulsive tightening of a slipping grip). People who join gangs or reactionary groups, or who get caught up in religious cults or patriotic hysteria, are also seeking a sense of liberation, connection, purpose, participation, empowerment. As Wilhelm Reich showed, fascism gives a particularly vigorous and dramatic expression to these basic aspirations, which is why it often has a deeper appeal than the vacillations, compromises and hypocrisies of liberalism and leftism. In the long run the only way to defeat reaction is to present more forthright expressions of these aspirations, and more authentic opportunities to fulfill them. When basic issues are forced into the open, irrationalities that flourished under the cover of psychological repression tend to be weakened, like disease germs exposed to sunlight and fresh air.

The Joy of Revolution
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The Donald Trump campaign has exposed some very ugly aspects of American society. They’re not pretty to look at, but it’s probably better that they’re out there in the open where we can all see them and no one can deny them. It has also revealed some genuine grievances that had been ignored, and it’s good that those too are now out in the open.

The downsides of Trump’s victory are numerous and all too obvious. But I’d like to point out a few possible upsides.

In Beyond Voting I noted that the Trump campaign was accelerating the self-destruction of the Republican Party. I was assuming that he would probably lose and that there would then be a bitter civil war over who was to blame, making it difficult for them to regroup and write it off as a one-time fluke. But I think his victory will be even worse for the Republicans.

This may seem like an odd thing to say, considering that the Republicans now have the Presidency as well as both houses of Congress. But I think it’s going to be like the proverbial dog chasing a car: what happens if the dog actually catches the car?

As long as power was split between a Democratic Presidency and a Republican Congress, each side could blame the other for the lack of positive accomplishments. But now that the Republicans have got a monopoly, there will be no more excuses.

Imagine that you’re a Republican politician. You’ve been reelected — so far, so good. But the people who voted for you and your colleagues and your new Leader did so under the impression that you were going to bring about some dramatic improvements in their lives. What happens when you actually have to deliver some of the things you promised?

During the last six years you’ve staged dozens of meaningless votes to repeal Obamacare, saying that you wanted to replace it with some superior Republican plan. Now is the moment of truth. If you don’t repeal it, you’ll have millions of people screaming at your betrayal. If you do repeal it, where is that wonderful plan that you somehow were never able to come up with? That plan is of course nonexistent, nothing but the usual simple-minded rhetoric about free markets leading to lower prices. Do you think that the 22 million newly insured people, many of whom voted for you, will be pleased to be deprived of their Obamacare insurance and to find themselves back in their previous situation? It is very unpopular (as well as very complicated) to undo benefits that people are already used to possessing.

Moreover, note that Obamacare is essentially a Republican plan, slightly tweaked by Obama — a feeble patchwork attempt to respond to America’s severe healthcare crisis. Such a clumsy program is understandably not very popular. But Social Security and Medicare (which Paul Ryan now wants to dismantle) are by far the most popular social programs in America, and have been for decades. As Eisenhower famously noted, “Should any political party attempt to abolish social security unemployment insurance and eliminate labor laws and farm programs you would not hear of that party again in our political history. There is a tiny splinter group of course that believes you can do these things. Among them are a few Texas oil millionaires and an occasional politician or business man from other areas. Their number is negligible and they are stupid.” Apparently their number is no longer negligible in your party. Are you ready to go over the cliff with them?

Some of your base are still vehemently anti-abortion and anti-gay marriage — but most of the country isn’t. Are you going to try to undo reproductive rights or marriage equality nationwide? If not, are you going to go back to the chaos of “leaving it to the states”?

Speaking of logistical nightmares, what about your famous Mexican wall? Are you really going to commit to such a silly project, which would accomplish nothing and cost hundreds of billions of dollars? And incidentally, after you’ve given the rich a lot more tax breaks and funneled much of the rest of the budget into the already bloated Pentagon, where is the funding for such projects going to come from?

The same goes for the major infrastructure improvements Trump has promised. This is one of his few sensible proposals – it would rev up the economy and create millions of jobs, which would in turn generate lots more tax revenue down the line. But getting it kickstarted will require deficit financing, which goes totally against the austerity policies that have been preached as gospel by your party for decades. Revived economy or party orthodoxy — which will it be?

Racism has been one of the key foundations of your party ever since Nixon inaugurated the “Southern strategy” fifty years ago, but it’s usually been discreet and deniable. Now that connection is out in the open. Many of Trump’s most fervent supporters are already celebrating his victory by harassing people of color in his name. How are you going to dissociate yourselves from that?

Your party was already heading toward a civil war between its mutually contradictory components (financial elite, tea party, neocons, libertarians, religious reactionaries, and the few remaining moderates). To those general divisions are now added the antagonisms between the new Leader and those who oppose him. Bush at least had sense enough to know that he was an incompetent figurehead, and gladly let Cheney and Rove run things. Trump thinks he’s a genius, and anyone who doesn’t agree will be added to his already very large enemies list.

He’s also a very loose cannon, which is why the Republican establishment feared him in the first place. He has proposed things like Congressional term limits which Republican politicians emphatically do not want, while on the other hand he is now reportedly considering not repealing Obamacare, perhaps because he has become aware of how complex and risky such as action might be. Who knows what other things he’ll come up with or backtrack on?

And this whole show is so public. Obama’s smooth, genial persona enabled him to get away with war crimes, massive deportations, and all sorts of corporate compromises (not a single criminal banker prosecuted) with few people paying attention and fewer still protesting. This will not be the case with President Ubu and his Clown Car administration. The whole world will be watching, and every detail will be scrutinized and debated. It’s going to look as ugly as it is in reality, and you’re going to be forever tarred by the association. You’re no longer in the Republican Party, you’re in the Trump Party. You bought it, you own it.

If I’m that imagined Republican politician, I don’t think I feel very confident about the future of my party.

Meanwhile, the Democratic Party is facing its own reckoning.

Democratic apologists are trying to focus the blame on one or another particular factor: the electoral college, voter suppression, third-party campaigns, the Comey announcement, etc. But this election shouldn’t have been close enough for any of those things to matter. The Democrats were running against the most glaringly unqualified candidate in American history. It should have been a landslide.

With Bernie Sanders it probably would have been. (A post-election national poll shows him beating Trump 56-44.) He was by far the most popular candidate in the country, while Hillary Clinton’s approval rating was almost as negative as Trump’s. Polls consistently showed Bernie beating Trump and all the other Republican candidates by wide margins, while Hillary was struggling against them all and even losing to some of them. Moreover, Bernie’s popularity cut across party lines, appealing not just to Democrats but to independents and even large numbers of Republicans. While Hillary was courting Wall Street and celebrity donors, he was attracting crowds that were ten times as large as any she ever managed, including thousands of the kind of enthusiastic young people who would have traveled across the country to work their hearts out for him (as they did to a lesser extent for Obama in 2008). While Hillary was constantly on the defensive, Bernie would have taken the offensive and turned the momentum in a progressive direction all over the country. He would easily have won the three Rust Belt states that cost Hillary the election, he probably would also have won some of the other swing states she lost, and his coattails would have flipped enough additional down-ballot races to regain the Senate and perhaps even put the House into play.

But the Democratic Party establishment preferred to risk losing with a loyal machine candidate rather than to risk winning with an independent radical whose movement might have challenged their cushy positions. Despite the fact that Hillary had a ton of baggage (some actually bad and much that could easily be made to look bad) and that she was a perfect embodiment of the glib, self-satisfied insider-elite and a longtime advocate of the neoliberal policies that had ravaged the country (especially in the Rust Belt), they pulled out all the stops to impose her as “inevitable,” while smugly dismissing Sanders as “unrealistic.”

In reality, the supposedly unrealistic solutions that Sanders called for were supported by large majorities of the population. Under pressure, Hillary belatedly adopted watered-down versions of some of those solutions, but few people believed she was sincere enough to really fight for them like Sanders would have. Her campaign mostly amounted to business as usual: “Defend the status quo! You have to vote for me because my opponent is even worse!”

It didn’t work. Interviews with Trump voters reveal that although many of them were indeed racist, many others were not (a large portion of them had previously voted for Obama). But they were enraged at the national political establishment that had abandoned them and they wanted somebody to “shake it up” and “clean it out.” Bernie spoke to those feelings, Hillary did not. Since Bernie wasn’t on the ballot, they decided to send a big “fuck you” message by voting for the other supposed “outsider,” who had at least claimed that he would do just that. Many others did not go that far, but they sent a similar message by staying home. Many others, of course, did vote for Hillary, including most of the Bernie supporters; but the enthusiasm was not there.

The Democratic Party establishment bears the ultimate blame for this miserable outcome. Millions of people know this and they are now trying to figure out what to do about it: how to break up the party machine, how to wean the party from its corporate dependence and transform it so that it can help address the challenges we face. I wish them well, but it won’t be easy to get rid of such an entrenched and corrupt bureaucracy — particularly since many elements of that bureaucracy will now be posing as heroes resisting the Trump administration. It will be difficult for this party to retain any credibility if it does not at least rally to a Sanders-type progressive program. That kind of program is far from a sufficient solution to the global crises we face, but it could at least claim to be a step in the right direction. Anything less will be a farce.

Meanwhile, with the Republicans’ monopoly control over the government, even those who normally focus on electoral politics must realize that for some time to come the main struggle will be outside the parties and outside the government. It will be grassroots participatory actions or nothing.

New movements of protest and resistance will develop during the coming weeks and months, responding to this bizarre and still very unpredictable new situation. At this point it’s hard to say what forms such movements will take, except to note that just about everyone seems to recognize that our number-one priority will be defending blacks, Latinos, Muslims, LGBTQs, and others most directly threatened by the new regime.

But we will also need to defend ourselves. The first step in resisting this regime is to avoid getting too caught up with it — obsessively following the latest news about it and impulsively reacting to each new outrage. That kind of compulsive media consumption was part of what led to this situation in the first place. Let’s treat this clown show with the contempt it deserves and not forget the fundamental things that still apply — picking our battles, but also continuing to nourish the personal relations and creative activities that make life worthwhile in the first place. Otherwise, what will we be defending?

Ultimately, as soon as we can recover our bearings, we’ll have to go back on the offensive. We were already going to have to face severe global crises during the coming decades. Maybe this disaster will shock us into coming together and addressing those crises sooner and more wholeheartedly than we would have otherwise, with fewer illusions about the capacity of the existing system to save us.

BUREAU OF PUBLIC SECRETS
November 16, 2016

Problems of Neoliberalism

By Edward Said

In the decade after the fall of the Soviet Union, most of the world is in the grip of an ideology whose most dramatic embodiment is currently to be found in the race between the two main candidates for the American presidency. Without wishing to list the various issues that divide them, I should like very quickly therefore to note what it is that unites them and in many ways makes them mirror images of each other. As I said in my last article (Al-Ahram Weekly, 24-30 August), both are passionate, indeed unquestioning believers in the corporate free market system. Both advocate what they call less government, oppose “big” government, and together continue the campaign against the welfare state that was inaugurated two decades ago by Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan. It is this 20-year continuity that I would like to describe in view of what has been the emergence and hegemony of neo-liberalism, a doctrine that has almost totally transformed the British Labour Party (now called New Labour) and the American Democratic Party under Clinton and Gore. The dilemma we all face as citizens is that, with few exceptions here and there (most of them desperately isolated economic disasters, like North Korea and Cuba, or alternatives that are useless as models for others to follow), neoliberalism has swallowed up the world in its clutches, with grave consequences for democracy and the physical environment that can be neither underestimated nor dismissed.trigger more text

As practiced in Eastern Europe, China and a few other countries in Africa and Asia, state socialism was unable to compete with the energy and inventiveness of globalised finance capital, which captured more markets, promised rapid prosperity, and appealed to vast numbers of people for whom state control meant underdevelopment, bureaucracy and the repressive supervision of everyday life. Then the Soviet Union and East Europe switched to capitalism, and a new world was born. But when the doctrines of the free market were turned on social security systems like those that had sustained Britain in the post-war period, and the United States since Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s New Deal, a massive social transformation was to ensue. I will come to that in a moment. But one must make an effort to remember those genuinely progressive policies had once produced a relatively new condition of widespread democratic equality and social benefits, all of them administered and financed by the central state. They were what gave strength to post-war Britain and the United States in the 1940s and 1950s. Taxes were therefore quite high for the wealthy, although the middle and working classes also had to pay for the benefits that accrued to them (mainly education, health and social security). Many of these benefits were the result of an aggressive and well-organised labour union system, but there was also a prevailing idea that the large costs of health and education, for example, which the individual citizen could not afford to pay alone, should be subsidised by the corporate body of the welfare state. By the beginning of the ’90s all this was not only under attack but had started to disappear.

First the labour unions were dissolved or broken (the British miners, and the American air traffic controllers). Privatisation of major services like transportation, utilities, education and heavy industry followed, mainly in Europe. In the US (where except for utilities, most industries were already in private hands, but prices were controlled by the government in the basic services sector), deregulation was the order of the day. This meant that the government would no longer play a role in making sure that the price of travel, basic commodities, health, education, as well as utilities such as gas and electricity, should stay within certain bounds. The market was to be the new regulator, which meant that costs and profits of individual airlines, hospitals, telephone companies, and later gas, electricity, and water were left to the private companies to set, frequently at considerable financial pain to the individual consumer. Soon even the postal service and a major part of the prison system were also privatised and deregulated. In Britain, Thatcherism virtually destroyed the university system, since it viewed each institution university as a supplier of learning, and hence like a business that in terms of profit and loss tended to be a loser, rather than a maker, of money. Many teaching positions were slashed, with an extraordinary loss in morale and productivity, as thousands of professors and teachers looked for positions abroad.

With the collapse of socialism everywhere and the triumph of aggressive right-wing parties and policies such as those headed by Reagan and Thatcher, the old liberal left in British Labour and the US Democratic party had two alternatives. One was to move closer to the successful policies of the right. The other alternative was to choose an approach that would protect the old services but make them more efficient. Both the British New Labourites under Tony Blair and the American Democrats under Bill Clinton chose the former course (moving towards the right), but skilfully kept some of the rhetoric of the past, pretending that many of the welfare services the state used to provide were there, albeit packaged differently.

That was simply false. Deregulation and privatisation continued, with the result that the profit motive took over the public sector completely. Budgets for social welfare, health for the poor and aged, and schools were slashed; defence, law and order (i.e. police and prisons) were fed more state money and/or privatised. The major loss has been in democracy and social practices. For when the country is ruled by the market (in the US a period of great prosperity for the top half of the country, poverty for the bottom) and with the state in fact given over to the most powerful corporations and stock market businesses (symbolised by the tremendous growth in electronic business), there is less and less incentive for the individual citizen to participate in a system perceived as basically out of control so far as the ordinary population is concerned. The price of this neoliberal system has been paid by the individual citizen who feels left out, powerless, alienated from a market place ruled by greed, immense transnational corporations, and a government at the mercy of the highest bidder. Thus elections are controlled not by the individual voter but by the major contributors, the media (who have an interest in maintaining the system), and the corporate sector.

What is most discouraging is the sense most people have that not only is there no other alternative, but that this is the best system ever imagined, the triumph of the middle-class ideal, a liberal and humane democracy — or, as Francis Fukuyama called it, the end of history. Inequities are simply swept out of sight. The degradation of the environment and the pauperisation of huge patches of Asia, Africa and Latin America — the so-called South — are all secondary to corporate profits. Worst of all is the loss of initiative that could bring significant change. There is hardly anyone left to challenge the idea that schools, for instance, should be run as profit-making enterprises, and that hospitals should offer service only to those who can pay prices set by pharmaceutical companies and hospital accountants. The disappearance of the welfare state means that no public agency exists to safeguard personal well-being for the weak, the disadvantaged, impoverished families, children, the handicapped, and the aged. New liberalism speaks about opportunities as “free” and “equal” whereas if for some reason you are not capable of staying ahead, you will sink.What has disappeared is the sense citizens need to have of entitlement — the right, guaranteed by the state, to health, education, shelter, and democratic freedoms. If all those become the prey of the globalised market, the future is deeply insecure for the large majority of people, despite the reassuring (but profoundly misleading) rhetoric of care and kindness spun out by the media managers and public relations experts who rule over public discourse.

The question now is how long neo-liberalism will last. For if the global system starts to break down, if more and more people suffer the consequences of a dearth of social services, if more and more powerlessness characterises the political system, then crises will begin to emerge. At that point, alternatives will be a necessity, even if for the time being we are being told “you never had it so good!” How much social suffering is tolerable before the need for change actually causes change? This is the major political question of our time.

The collapse of capitalism? Time for something else?

Montgomery Bus Boycott of 1956 Freedom Riders
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With so many corporations on the dole, banks being bailed out are we not in fact experiencing the collapse of capitalism, well neoliberalism. I seem to remember when the “commies’ were getting short shrift for failing miserably in Russia and capitalism winning out. I don’t remember anybody coming up with ideas about bailing communist institutions out. Keeping communism afloat with public money? Why should we do the same for the “capitalists”? Isn’t the market to decide who sinks or swims. Wasn’t privatisation the idea that it was more efficient and cheaper. Isn’t capitalism about gaining great wealth but also at the risk of loosing as well? Why has that part of the deal disappeared? Why have the poor to take on the failure of capitalism?

But it wasn’t actually communism was it? But it isn’t actually capitalism is it?trigger more text

The neoliberal totalitarian state
“we were told we were entering a new era, of peace and prosperity and freedom – communism was defeated by capitalism and the free market. But just as they were tearing down surveillance cameras and totalitarian machinery in the eastern bloc, in the West the politicians and media were screaming for more and more authoritarian measures. In the UK as elsewhere there now is no right to silence, no more innocent until proven guilty, cameras monitoring every movement, and new laws which prevent collective gathering and protest. There has been no peace dividend, spending on defence is greater than at any time during the cold war, just as the world has become a much more dangerous place ” (From a reader in Guardian DMC, Australia)

During the US power struggle for president – when Obama was being accused of being a “socialist” Michael Moore the film maker observed. The word socialism has been mentioned more in this country over the last few weeks than it has been over the last hundred years. Maybe, he suggests folk will start looking up socialism in their dictionaries and start to say ‘Hey this sounds quite good, maybe we should try it'”

Is it not ironic that the most oppressive state towards black folk on the planet now has a black man leading it. Will we still be celebrating when Obama starts to roll back probably most of the promise he has made to middle class blacks as he settles in to power. While white people can imagine a fairer world with a black man at the helm the system can proceed practically unaltered for poor people black and white. To imagine otherwise is to ignore the history of imperialism and the history of the black civil rights movement that has struggled so long and so hard against it. To imagine a future where ordinary people can live without fear of hunger, homelessness, violence and the denial of a creative life, needs more than a cycle of perpetual short term power struggles to keep megalomaniacs in power, such as in the case of the US and UK.

Since the Spanish Revolution and before – the idea of people in control of there own futures is really what strikes terror into the minds of corporate power – not as they would have us believe – Protecting our own people from the threat of violence from others. Violence is a tool that they live happily with, that they use freely and with impunity. The use of propaganda and threat of violence is the only things that make corporations seem to be efficient and to screen the fact that their main objective is not free-trade, but wealth and control, through death, misery and waste.

We do not live in a bubble that is aloof from the misery of others, no mater what rhetoric we hide behind, whatever possessions we covet to dull the noise of our conscience. Our struggle for peace is continuous as is the tyranny of those who seek to destroy it. But we need to believe it can happen, things can change. We will not find what we are looking for in the pages or the networks of the propaganda systems created to dull our senses – fill us with fear and imply – it is useless to try something else.

Rather than celebrating a black man in the “Whitehouse” Shouldn’t we be inspired by the struggle of black Americans, ordinary people who have since the days of slavery challenged, and sacrificed so much and still to this day fight to give their kids even an ordinary life in a system that is stacked against them. Is this not inspiring? Is the challenge from South America by indigenous people against the most powerful state in the world to crush their “democratic” elections not inspiring.

Shouldn’t we be celebrating real democratic achievements, like Juan Evo Morales who has been the President of Bolivia since 2006 – and is the country’s first fully indigenous head of state in the 470 years since the Spanish Conquest. And Hugo Chávez who is the current President of Venezuela – and the leader of the Bolivarian Revolution – who promotes a political doctrine of participatory democracy, socialism and Latin American and Caribbean cooperation. Is this not what we should be celebrating?

In El Salvador, Mauricio Funes, of the former rebel FMLN party, has won the country’s presidential election, ending two decades of conservative rule. Funes won 51 percent of the vote to 49 percent for Rodrigo Avila of the ruling right-wing ARENA party. The FMLN was a coalition of rebel guerrillas who resisted the US-backed military government. More than 70,000 people died over an eighteen-year period, the overwhelming majority killed by military and paramilitary forces. Does this not inspire the idea that change is possible even in the most dire of circumstances?

Sounds like anarchy
This is anarchy – out of control – we will hear screaming from the networks of the “democratic” righteous. This of course is the real fear that strikes at the heart of the neoliberal bully – the fear of participation.

During McCarthyism and through the history of witch hunts carried out in the United States, over these years, communism and communists were brutally suppressed – but anarchists were killed – Sacco and Vanzetti et al. Anarchy, has always been much more dangerous to power structures. Not the right-wing kind of anarchy of fashion, chaos and nonsense – but the traditional anarchy of organisation, self-help, solidarity, mutual-aid, compassion and a vision of free people. This does not fit in any way shape or form to capitalist or neoliberal short term power struggles – What it does fit, is the basic needs of ordinary people, that they actually matter, that they can participate, that they can conduct there own affairs, without destroying all others.

The problem with anarchy is that it has some real answers to a lot of our problems. This is what makes anarchy so dangerous to the powerful – and therefore its need to be vilified. To understand anarchy, not in its pejorative meaning (disorder) but in the freedom to chose how to live without fear and in cooperation must have some resonance for people in the situation we (the west) are living under at the present time?

Maybe to paraphrase Michael Moore, people need to look it up, check it out and understand what anarchy really means, And they might say “Hey this sounds quite good – Maybe we should try it”.