Friday, November 05, 2004

Why?

So, another (anti-)political blog. Welcome. I've sketched some outlines of my outlook over the last week, declaring myself against the Left, against the farce of the Presidential election and against the (leftist) political economy of the film The Corporation. The links at the side of the blog continue to give shape to that sketch by indicating the kind of thinking with which I feel most comfortable allying myself. One of the sites I link to is called for communism and John Gray's site defines communism as "a society without money, without a state, without property and without social classes ... the by-word for this society is 'from each according to their abilities, to each according to their needs'". Whilst I see communism far more as process than as destination, that "theory and struggle are a critique of economy and politics" is certainly something I wholly agree with.

Definitions raise as many questions as they answer. As a provisional gesture they defer certain sets of questions but encourage others. Some of those questions may be time-honoured (what is the difference between communism and anarchism? what is council communism? are you a Stalinist!? what do you think about a/b/c event? why do(n't) you advocate this/that?), but those questions (questions that one might call 'programmatic') interest me less - because their answers tend to the hubristic or emptily declarative - than more personal (more timid) questions about my own relationship to revolutionary/communist/critical thinking and whether, regardless of my own fidelity to it, that thinking - or the body of writing that I might claim as a tradition - is, in truth, moribund. What (I want to ask) is the use (and the use for me, here, now and in England) of '(world) revolutionary' politics in non-revolutionary (or post-revolutionary) times? What does it mean to have or hold views that seem to have little practical application?

I want to articulate/discover a path away from maximalist sneering ('we' have the answer, 'you' are wrong; world revolution - good, everthing else - bad), as against absurd avowals for chaos, uprisings, upheavals as it is against the quietism of pacifism or the disingenuousness of democracy, and for/towards a more humble, less masculinist, more open, way of thinking/writing against capitalism and for communism.


Tuesday, November 02, 2004

The Corporation

The Corporation is the latest left-wing, activist documentary, after anti-Bush Fahrenheit 9/11 and anti-McDonalds Super Size Me, that can be seen at many cinemas. And it has much to recommend it. However, it has an obvious and glaring blind spot: it takes a form of capitalist business (admittedly a dominant form) and sees in it all the problems that arise from a structure of society (capitalism) that it refuses (fears?) to name.

The film's dominant narrative conceit is that corporations are legal persons that are psychotic: "It is self-interested, inherently amoral, callous and deceitful; it breaches social and legal standards to get its way; it does not suffer from guilt, yet it can mimic the human qualities of empathy, caring and altruism." Whilst this is an intriguing if legalist and ultimately meaningless accusation within a compelling (if overlong and rather scattergun) documentary, it underscores the ultimately reactionary nature of the political economy of the film.

It is not any particular form of capitalist institution that should draw our ire, however interesting a brief history of it might be, but rather our attention should be directed to the form of society within which such institutions can thrive. If we do not have a critique of capitalism then all we have is an indignant, uncomprehending howl that understands a particularity without any understanding of the wider context in which it makes its appearance.

Monday, November 01, 2004

Bush v Kerry - on flattering a distraction

Tomorrow, America goes to the polls. And numerous of the blogs that I enjoy, numbers of my friends, even the newspaper I read, are all encouraging those who can vote to vote for Kerry, are all hoping for a Kerry victory. The pas au-delà blog even calls for a Kerry vote whilst posting a situationist graphic against voting (I presume that is postmodern sophistication?) But the graphic is pre-ironic (and still right) and pas au-delà's support for Kerry is as uncomfortable as it is unfathomable.

Much of me feels that writing against Kerry - or against the farce of an election where two millionaires seek to become CEO of USA Inc. - flatters an absurd (one could even say unethical) distraction. Does anyone really need reminding that the Clinton administration, but four years ago, ran the White House and that that was hardly a time of prosperity and equality for working people nor of peace in the world? Does anyone bemoaning the right-wing cabal running the White House really need reminding that a left-wing cabal currently running Downing Street has been Dubya's strongest ally? It would seem sadly, shockingly, that they do.