Tendance Coatesy

Left Socialist Blog

Archive for the ‘Anarchism’ Category

Spiked Lays Responsibility for El Paso “Eco-Terrorism” on Extinction Rebellion.

with 2 comments

Image may contain: 1 person, flower and text

Madness, They Call it Madness: Spiked.

Top Brexit Party supporters, the Spiked/RCP Network have their own unique line on the EL Paso horror.

The chief of Britain’s National Populist Red-Brown Front, Brendan O’Neill, is in a questing frame of mind, and the quest has found its target.

Is Extinction Rebellion to blame for the El Paso massacre? Maybe Greta Thunberg is? Or any one of the commentators who spends their every waking hour bemoaning mankind’s ‘carbon footprint’ and insisting we need to rein in people’s rapacious consumerist behaviour.

After all, these misanthropic ideas, this green miserabilism, this anti-modern guff about humanity being a plague on poor Mother Earth, is a central feature of the El Paso killer’s manifesto. And if Trump can be held responsible for the shootings on the basis that the manifesto echoes his Mexican-bashing, why shouldn’t greens, who pollute public debate with the kind of anti-humanist ideology that clearly moved and enraged the El Paso murderer, shoulder some responsibility, too?

..

As with green ideology in general, there is a strong streak of anti-humanism in his eco-obsessions.

O’Neill defends the Christchurch murder from the accusation of neo-Nazism

 The Christchurch killer explicitly said he is not a Nazi but an ‘eco-fascist’.

And the modern far-right,

And yet somehow in recent years, this backward, anti-modern obsession with cleansing nature of foul mankind’s uncaring, destructive behaviour has morphed into a supposedly progressive, leftish outlook.

So really it was a left-wing killing….

Er not exactly, .

No green-leaning writer or activist bears even the remotest responsibility for the horrific acts of eco-fascism in Christchurch and El Paso.

Yet there’s, a ‘however’,

However, what is clear is that, in their search for ideological justifications for their loathing of their fellow human beings, both of these killers landed very firmly upon the environmentalist ideology. They clearly spied in it a moral-sounding, pretend-scientific justification for their belief that human beings are scum, a plague, who deserve to be punished. When your belief system so readily lends itself to violent misanthropy, it is time, surely, to rethink that belief system. The fashionable misanthropy of green thinking is in dire need of public questioning and public challenge.

So the leftist green ideology “lends itself to violent misanthropy” – and to violence.

Some people might describe O’Neill and his minions as “scum”, but we will not…

This is where the line comes from, straight from Trump:

DOWNPLAYING THE THREAT OF WHITE SUPREMACY, TRUMP ADMIN CRIES “ECO-TERRORISM”

The Trump administration tried to downplay the New Zealand terrorist’s white supremacist views and the global threat of the radical right. That’s dangerous.

Mick Mulvaney, White House chief of staff, echoed Conway, claiming that the accused terrorist’s 74-page manifesto had “eco-terrorist passages.” He angrily rejected any attempt to link Trump’s rhetoric to the New Zealand massacre, despite Trump’s long history of denouncing Muslims as potential terrorists.

..

The claim that the killer was really an “eco-terrorist” comes from a superficial and historically ignorant reading of his manifesto. In fact, his manifesto does touch on “hedonistic, nihilistic individuals” who are destroying the environment. He says he is an “eco-fascist by nature.” But what Conway, Trump, Mulvaney and much of the right-wing press apparently don’t realize is that Adolf Hitler and the original Nazis saw themselves very much as environmentalists. Among other things, they thought Jews despoiled the landscape, just as the New Zealand killer believes Muslims are doing.

To illustrate the confusionist politics at work here the terrorism smear does not stop the Spiked National Populists from casting doubt on the radicalism of the climate activists;

By contrast, environmentalist campaigns like Extinction Rebellion are, by their very nature, against freedom. They seek to place new limits on human activity: on industry, on economic growth, on our travel, on our diets, and on childbirth.

climate change presents the establishment with an opportunity to manage the little people’s habits, tastes and aspirations.

Extinction Rebellion merely provides a faux-radical gloss to this depressing and stultifying prospect.

Fraser Myers. Spiked (Today An establishment rebellion|: why the elite loves the eco-warriors.)

For a real analysis see this – highly recommended:

Advertisements

A critique of Jacques Rancière’s Politics.

leave a comment »

Image result for jacques ranciere la haine de la démocratie

 

 A critique of Rancière’s Politics.

 

“Politics occurs because, or when, the natural order of the shepherd kings, the warlords, or property owners is interrupted by a freedom that crops up and makes real the ultimate equality on which any social order rests.”

Disagreement (La mésentente) Jacques Rancière. 1995.  (1)

Jacques Rancière is a critic of “post-democracy”, who is probably the first to have used the term. This political condition is one in which “elites exhibit paternal concern for their flock and protect it from its own rebellious spirits”. The essayist emerged at the threshold of the new millennium as a pioneering opponent of the – alleged – consensus ruling modern states. He staked out territory occupied by both serious efforts to grapple with the “neoliberal” policies and business influence on modern states, and potboilers claiming that there is no “real opposition” in societies dominated by the “extreme centre.” This is a political form “that has eliminated the appearance, miscount, and dispute of the People” and reduced politics to “the sole interplay of state mechanisms and combinations of social energies and interests”. The result is  “consensus democracy” a machine of power ruled by enlightened “experts” and the “absolute identification of politics with the management of capital.” (2)

The vocabulary of ‘oligarchies’, ‘elites’, ‘plutocrats’  and ‘post-democracy’, paralleled in French, and in English, is now part of the political talk of left and right populists. (2005) the target was The Republic, for which read la République française, “un régime d’homogénéité entre les institutions de l’État et les mœurs de société.” In this sense the ‘oligarchy’ loathed democracy, the unruly demos, any attempt by the unordered masses to shake up the regime. In other words, they dislike not the word, but the substance of democratic life. Rancière is equally referenced in France for L’introuvable populisme (2011). This criticised, pell-mell, “elite” contempt for the rough masses, secular French republicanism, and the racialism of the French state. There is a third string to this bow of ideas. In July last year, Rancière said that capitalism is so dominant today that it has taken over the left’s historical timepieces, resetting the political clock in line with market chronology. The elites run the world. (3)

How times change. If the words circulate, the claim that “democracy after the demos”, had eliminated dissensus, and had absorbed politics by top-down agreement, now looks threadbare. “Populist revolts’ have often gone beyond rebellion, to political influence and  – if we are to follow those who call Donald Trump a populist – to rule the most powerful state on the planet.

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Andrew Coates

January 25, 2019 at 3:03 pm

Socialist Workers Party Journal: Trump and Brexit, “two cheeks of the same arse”.

with 13 comments

Image result for trump mr brexit

“Trump and Brexit are, if a measure of crudity might be permitted, two cheeks of the same arse.”

This is quite remarkable, the SWP is cracking up over Brexit.

In a hole and still digging: the left and Brexit

Issue: 161

Wayne Ashe

This has got attention,

For many (most?) people on that march Trump and Brexit are, if a measure of crudity might be permitted, two cheeks of the same arse—both signs of racist reaction with no progressive roots whatsoever.

This a really serious well written article.

A few extracts.

 

” the gate will also be open, of course, for very sinister forces, already building up Britain’s own Dolchstoss, the stab-in-the-back legend which so helped the Nazis rise to power. Millions of Brexit voters are going to be very disappointed by the difference between what they thought they would get and what they in fact got, and will be looking for someone to blame.

….

.

 It is important to understand that the class enemy is entirely clear about this—Farage told the BBC (in January 2017): “If I speak to Trump’s team, Trump’s close advisers, or even to the president-elect himself, none of them think Trump would have won if Brexit had not happened”.38 The fascists marching to demand that Tommy Robinson be freed from jail carried banners supporting Trump and Brexit. The links between Brexit fundamentalists and the Trump administration are becoming closer week by week. Rees-Mogg—who supported Trump before he was elected president—noted that the latter “appealed to voters left behind by the metropolitan elite and he exudes confidence about his own nation and a determination not to be a manager of decline, which also inspires the Brexiteers”.39

Yet the traditional left, so right about Trump (and the rising fascist movement) is currently forced to tell angry people who might be attracted to their political outlook that they are against Trump but pro-Brexit. Opposition to Brexit is growing, yet just what is the left saying to the 700,000 people who marched for a People’s Vote on 20 October 2018?

Imagine a worse case situation in the spring, a chaotic Brexit has led to queues on the M20, factory layoffs, food shortages and high inflation after a currency collapse. We will be forced to tell workers that all this is very dreadful and should be fought, but, ahem…we actually supported Brexit. It won’t wash.

The good news in all this—and yes, there is some—is that the very weakness of the extra-parliamentary left means that a rethink can be carried out without too much impact and upset. While there is time. If the desire is there.

Wayne Asher is a former member of the International Socialists.

In the meantime the Arse replies,

But beyond this we are fearful that in breaking the bipartisan pledge that the Brexit vote be respected, Labou

 ill lose for generations more the trust that the Blair government betrayed and which the Corbyn team has so painstakingly rebuilt. A betrayal of the Brexit vote will supercharge Ukip or worse.

The EU is an irreformable instrument for impoverishing the continental periphery and the working people of each country to the benefit of a predatory class whose wealth increases with every one of capitalism’s succeeding crises.

Communists want a People’s Brexit. Unconstrained by EU treaties, single market rules and directives, a left-led Labour government could develop a worker-led industrial strategy; aid industry, invest in training, youth and jobs, social welfare, housing, education and health services; and take the transport, energy and postal service profiteers back into public ownership.
Nick Wright
Head of communications, Communist party of Britain

Written by Andrew Coates

January 4, 2019 at 1:36 pm

The Gilets Jaunes: some details on the political composition of Saturday’s events in Paris.

with 3 comments

Au pied de l’Arc de triomphe, des manifestants arborent un drapeau avec le blason de Jeanne d'Arc.

 

Quel mythe! dit Hussonnet. Voilà le peuple souverain!

Sarpolotte! Comme il chaloupe! Le vaisseau de l’État est ballotté sur une mer orageuse!”

L’Éducation sentimentale. Gustave Flaubert. 

Who hasn’t taken an active part in a political riot?

I have a friend, a close friend, who recalls chucking bricks at fascists, and bank windows. He tells me that back in the day he got caught up in some protests in the Quartier Latin that ended with a luxury shop being pillaged. He still dislikes the taste of fruit flavoured tea bags.

Last Saturday saw a much more serious series of confrontations across France.

Eyes turned to those that took place in Paris.

Le Monde offers what, by all accounts, is an accurate report on the events around the ChampsÉlysées.

The article says that at the start, at the Place de l’Étoile, there were 2,000 to 3,000 militants prepared for a fight. Amongst them was a strong contingent from the far-right, including Bastion social (ex-GUD), and Action française. They called themselves ‘nationalists’. Harder to find were those responding to the call of the site Lundi Matin, the latest incarnation of the Comité invisible. At another rallying point, there were also a people from the anti-fascist Comité Adama (Le comité antiraciste appelle les quartiers populaires à manifester samedi aux côtés des gilets jaunes.)The latter groups were involved with a few clashes with far right, one of whose leaders, the anti-semite, Yvan Benedetti was hurt. The vandalism at the Arc de Triomphe involved Gilets Jaunes. Many ordinary Gilets Jaunes were caught up by their anger and enthusiasm in the violence. The first rioters likely to be arrested were the less experienced, that is neither from the far right nor the fringes of the left. A third group, involved in the pillage of shops, had young people from the banlieue taking advantage of the opportunity.

Violences de samedi à Paris : quel a été le rôle des ultras ?

Lundi Matin has a theory to justify their involvement: that this kind of action is a challenge to the infrastructure  of society, and a step on the way to destabilising  the state. This idea can be traced to the text  Introduction à la guerre civileThe epigraph, which calls for a permanent effort to conjure up stasis, unrest, is their loadstone. They celebrate the violence over the weekend and blame the CRS and Police (Contrairement à tout ce que l’on peut entendre, le mystère, ce n’est pas que nous nous révoltions, mais que nous ne l’ayons pas fait avant.)

The strategic geniuses published a text recently  saying that the victory of the extreme right in Brazil was not too bad at all, it’s the occasion to get rid of illusions in democracy, the left, and to prepare better things in future: “En réalité, l’arrivée du fascisme n’est jamais aussi mauvaise qu’elle ne paraît à première vue. Au moins est-elle l’occasion de déchanter, de mûrir et de faire un peu mieux à l’avenir.”   LE PROLÉTARIAT BRÉSILIEN N’A PAS ÉTÉ VAINCU PAR LA DICTATURE MAIS PAR LA DÉMOCRATIE

By contrast, les quartiers en gilets jaunes, that is, the initiative of the Comité Adama, attracted several hundred people. It ended caught up in the chaos of the main march (Reportage à la manifestation des “quartiers en gilets jaunes” à Paris). It was and is a democratic and open initiative. These are good people who should be supported. How far they come from the banlieue is not clear.

Image result for quartiers en gilets jaunes a paris

 

In the meantime one of the – all too representative – figures of French conspiracy thinking, who is very active in the Gilets Jaunes, has a secret hoard pf documents  which involve  the imminent start of the Third World War:

(1) “La politique fut une de ces évidences, une invention grecque qui se condensait en une équation : tenir une position, c’est prendre parti, et prendre parti, c’est déclencher la guerre civile. Guerre civile, position, parti, c’était un seul mot en grec, stasis. Et la politique, c’était l’art de conjurer la stasis.”

 

Written by Andrew Coates

December 5, 2018 at 1:34 pm

On the Police Infiltration of British Left Wing Groups. Back the Campaigns Against Spy Coppers.

with 6 comments

Police spies infiltrated UK leftwing groups for decades

 

Police deployed 24 undercover officers to infiltrate a small leftwing political party over a 37-year period, the Guardian can reveal.

The police spies infiltrated the Socialist Workers party (SWP) almost continuously between 1970 and 2007, often with more than one undercover officer embedded within the party.

Four of them deceived women into sexual relationships while using their fake identities. One spy met one of his wives during his deployment and had a child with her.

About one-third of the total number of undercover officers embedded in political organisations that have so far been publicly identified infiltrated the SWP, a Trotskyite party of a few thousand members that advocates the abolition of capitalism through revolutionary means.

Before going any further this is important to bear in mind.

The infiltration also involved nasty coppers who deceived people into having relationships with them, and wroke havoc with their lives.

It involved the notorious Bob Lambert, who became an expert on Islamism (advocating ‘dialogue’ and defended by ‘Islamophobia Watch’ Can those who smear Bob Lambert claim such anti-terrorist success? Posted on  by Bob Pitt )

Robert Lambert MBE is a British former academic and former undercover police officer. He served in the controversial Special Demonstration Squad and posed as a left-wing animal rights activist from 1983 to 1988, fathering a child with an activist during his deployment.[1] Until December 2015 Lambert was a lecturer in Terrorism Studies at the University of St Andrews and a senior lecturer at London Metropolitan University‘s John Grieve Centre for Policing.

In the course of his police service, Lambert infiltrated activist groups (environmentalists, animal rights activists and anti-racists) using the alias Mark “Bob” Robinson. To gain credibility as an activist, he formed friendships with other movement members; he also embarked in long-term relationships with women as a means of establishing a cover story.

He fathered a child with one of the activists he was spying on[1] although he already had a wife and children in the suburbs.[8] After that relationship ended he embarked on another with a woman who was politically conscious, but was not herself an activist. His colleagues at Special Branch raided her home in order to bolster his image as a hardcore militant.[9][10]

Lambert was confronted about his past activities by members of London Greenpeace (which he had infiltrated in the 1980s) as he spoke at a conference in October 2011.[7] Lambert subsequently apologised to other activists and to the woman whom he had used as a “lover” (who said she felt “raped by the state” after learning about the deception).[11] Though he had earlier denied that reports in The Guardian newspaper were true, in July 2013 he acknowledged that he had conducted four such relationships under false pretences, saying that he “made serious mistakes that I should regret, and I always will do.”[12]

On 23 October 2014, the Metropolitan Police Service agreed to pay £425,000 to a woman called Jacqui whose child was fathered by Lambert; she did not know at the time of their relationship that he was an undercover police officer. The payment was part of an agreement for her to drop her legal action alleging assault, negligence, deceit and misconduct by senior officers. She was a 22-year-old activist at the time of her relationship with Lambert, who was using the pseudonym Bob Robinson, and she gave birth to their son in 1985. When the boy was two years old his father vanished, and she told BBC News she had received psychiatric care after learning the officer’s real identity.

The unprecedented payment resulted from a legal battle with women who said they were duped into relationships with officers who were spying on them. Scotland Yard said it “unreservedly apologises for any pain and suffering” but added that “the Metropolitan Police Service has never had a policy that officers can use sexual relations for the purposes of policing”. Scotland Yard had previously refused to either confirm or deny whether Bob Lambert was a Special Demonstration Squad operative, despite his own admissions to journalists. However, it was forced to change its position in August 2014 after a legal ruling. Lambert did not respond to BBC requests for comment on the settlement but had previously said that he wanted to apologise to women with whom he had relationships and that he had made some “serious mistakes.

Comrade Helen Steel was also a target of another ‘Sypcop’.

Helen Steel and John Dines: The spy who loved me

In the early 1990s, Helen Steel was a member of a British social justice group called London Greenpeace when she began a relationship with a man she knew as John Barker. They were together for more than two years and he told her he wanted to spend the rest of his life with her. Then one day he disappeared. A letter arrived for her a few days later. “If I manage to sort my head out, I will be back,” he wrote.

She was both devastated and concerned about her partner’s emotional state and would spend much of the next decade looking for him. That was before she made a series of shocking discoveries: his real name, John Dines, a record of his marriage, and the death certificate of a child, Philip John Barker, whose identity he had assumed. But it was not until 2010 that she got confirmation her lover had been an undercover police officer employed as part of a secret London Metropolitan Police project to infiltrate protest groups.

Sydney Morning Herald.

This is the site which the Guardian bases its report on:

Spycop Targets: a Who’s Who

Who's WhoEveline Lubbers,

From 1968 to 2011, undercover police officers spied up on more than 1,000 political groups. However, no definitive list of these groups has ever been made public. That is changing now. Working with The Guardian, we present a Who’s Who of Spycop Targets, listing what is known to date from official sources, whistle-blowers and our own investigations

The list gives an idea of the breadth of groups that have been targeted through the years and reveals some patterns, such as the focus on particular groups, and lack of attention given to others. Many of the groups will question why they were infiltrated or reported on.

To help you find out more, you can search for names of groups, on certain periods of time, for specific political categories and by cover name of spycops. You will also find links to profiles of the undercovers published by the Undercover Research Group, to The Guardian or to the SpecialBranchFiles.uk project for a greater insight into the groups and how they were targeted.

Additionally, we also present an interactive timeline of all SDS spycops known to date, and their deployments over the years.

A work in progress

We started from the minimal list provided by the Undercover Policing Inquiry, adding groups that we know were infiltrated from our own research, work done by Rob Evans (and Paul Lewis), and from whistle-blower Peter Francis. We only included groups that were targeted by officers from the Special Demonstration Squad and the National Public Order Intelligence Unit – the two Special Branch units which carried out the vast majority of such activities.

The Who’s Who project is very much a work in progress, and will be updated as soon as more information emerges. If we have missed any out, please let us know. Likewise, if you have suggestions to improve the descriptions or if you are aware of website we can link to that will help others learn more, do get in touch. Even if you didn’t encounter the undercovers, broadening out our knowledge of the groups is always helpful.

Undercover Research Group, 15 October 2018.

This story has just come out:

 I was 15 years old when I was spied on by the British state.

It’s been well documented that undercover police officers have stolen dead children’s names, had secret families, and spied on activists. I was one of those activists. I met Marco Jacobs in 2007 at No Borders meetings in a time when Cardiff was experiencing a renaissance of political activism as the war in Iraq mobilised the country.

No Borders is a loose network of groups worldwide working to resist and dismantle borders and immigration controls. Marco was funny, charismatic, and outgoing. He was around 5”9, white with a broad northern accent. Marco said that he worked driving trucks, which explained the long periods of time away from Cardiff. He liked heavy metal, cracking jokes and drinking lager. He built our relationship knowingly and slowly with a charismatic personality and a wicked sense of humour. It’s easy to bond with people on things like demonstrations, as we frequently had visible pickets outside the UK Border Agency (now UK Visas and Immigration) in Cardiff, protesting the racist border regime.

Then, he would show up to the same punk gigs I was at, and give us all lifts home afterwards. I always felt extremely safe with him. I had his mobile phone number and he was one of my friends on Myspace. On one occasion, I had acute anxiety at a punk gig where I received repeated unwanted advances from a man nearly 10 years older me, and Marco stepped in and stayed at my side throughout the night. He knew where I lived and what school I went to. I was especially comforted by our conversations where he offered me emotional support when a mutual friend was deported. I was devastated. Now, I wonder if that was genuine concern or part of a wider plan to get me to lower my defences around him.

The Guardian confirmed that Marco Jacobs was an undercover officer sent to infiltrate radical activist spaces, soon after Mark Kennedy – an undercover London Metropolitan police officer who infiltrated activist groups – was outed by climate change activists in 2011. We began to suspect Marco might also be an undercover police officer, and one friend once asked him straight. He deferred the question with  nervous laughter. Within a few months, Marco had left to be a gardener in Cyprus and we never heard from him again.

Many activists and trade union branches support the campaign against Spycops!

(Twitter)

We all should.

Written by Andrew Coates

October 15, 2018 at 12:17 pm

Hal Draper and Socialism from Below.

with 4 comments

Image result for The "dictatorship of the proletariat" from Marx to Lenin (

Hal Draper (1914 – 1990) remains a seminal influence on Marxists.

Along with Maximilien Rubel (1905 – 1996, probably less known in the English speaking world) he offered a strongly democratic interpretation of Marx and Marxism based on serious historical and textual study.

Draper’s unraveling of the historical and political origins and use of the term ‘dictatorship of the proletariat’  (The “dictatorship of the proletariat” from Marx to Lenin 1987) is something many turn to whenever the issue of the Russian Revolution comes up.

His  Anatomy of the Micro-Sect (1973) while situated firmly within the context of the marginalised US left and, in this Blog’s view wildly and wrongly indulgent towards Lenin himself, offers insights into the way many small left-wing factions operate across the world.

In this important article Joel Geier offers an overview of Draper’s contribution to the left and not just on those who call themselves ‘revolutionaries’ or indeed agree with his interpretation of Marxism.

Hal Draper’s contribution to revolutionary Marxism

The piece is long but this extract gives some of the flavour.

Fifty-one years ago the Berkeley Independent Socialist Club published Hal Draper’s The Two Souls ofSocialism.1 Of the hundreds of radical pamphlets published in the 1960s, Two Souls has had perhaps the longest-lasting impact. Appearing at a time when various forms of top-down versions of socialism—social democracy, Stalinism, and Maoism—were in vogue, its emphasis on workers’ self-emancipation set it clearly apart. Moreover, Draper did not merely reintroduce genuine Marxism to a new generation; in its originality and clarity, Two Souls—and the subsequent work that elaborated in detail on his arguments—presented a different way of looking at the world, at socialism, and at competing ideologies.

Traditional interpretations maintained that the essential divisions in the socialist movement were between reform and revolution, pacifism versus violence, and democracy versus authoritarianism. Two Souls took a somewhat different angle, namely, that “throughout the history of socialist movements and ideas, the fundamental divide is between Socialism-From-Above and Socialism-From-Below,”2thus introducing the vocabulary, narrative, and ideas of socialism from below as the contemporary representation of revolutionary Marxism.

The unifying feature of the many varieties of socialism from above, Draper argued, is distrust or opposition to the working-class’s potential to recreate society based on its own initiative. Socialism from above, Draper specified, is the idea that socialism “must be handed down to the grateful masses in one form or another, by a ruling elite not subject to their control in fact.”3 Distrust of the mass’s ability to rule and denial of democratic control from below are the core tenets of the many variants of socialism from above that have dominated the history of the socialist movement.

The heart of socialism from below is the understanding that “socialism can be realized only through the self-emancipation of activated masses in motion, reaching out for freedom with their own hands, mobilized ‘from below’ in a struggle to take charge of their own destiny, as actors (not merely subjects) on the stage of history.”4 These few words summarize what Draper would later work for decades to restore and defend as the heart of revolutionary Marxism in his analysis of the entire body of Marx’s political writings, as presented in numerous articles, as well as in his indispensable, magnificent multivolume series, Karl Marx’s Theory of Revolution (KMTR).

A major thesis of Two Souls was that social democracy and Stalinism, the two major self-styled socialisms from above, despite their real and obvious differences, both identify socialism with the statification of the economy, and both reject workers’ democratic rule as the foundation of socialism. Long before Stalinism, Eduard Bernstein, the theoretical father of social-democratic reformism, was the first to revise Marxism to eliminate working-class self-emancipation from its essence, substituting “superior educated” parliamentary representatives for the “uninformed masses” as the agency for socialism. Social democracy and Stalinism, whose advocates strongly denied their similarities, were the dominant radical ideologies that divided the socialist movement during Draper’s political life, which was split between those who supported “democratic” Washington or “socialist” Moscow. These constrained political choices debilitated the working-class movement long before the wrecking operations of neoliberal capitalism began.

Read the full article on Socialism From Below in the International Socialist Review.

Those who are very far from enthusiasts for Trotsky or ‘revolutionary’ Marxism but who are democratic Marxists have learnt a lot from one of the best socialist writers of the 20th century.

Written by Andrew Coates

October 7, 2018 at 12:41 pm

Fully Automated Luxury Communism: Confusionism for Happy Bunnies.

with 11 comments

Image result for playpower richard neville

Oddly Absent from Aaron Bastani’s pick of five books to understand Marxism (Guardian. May 2018)

I had hoped that by ignoring Bastani he would go away.

Apparently not.

Respected commentators, or sages as we call them, such as Hegemony describe him in terms of a “huckster and half baked ideas” and the below as “essentially what you get if you filter the Utopianism of the hard left through Iain M Banks’ Culture science fiction novels, and then have the result narrated to you by a gym-bunny.”

Then,

Very redolent of the late 60s and early 70s, an era of hucksters and grifters pushing half-baked ideas on the populace, mystics and futurologists competing in the marketplace of ideas and actually being taken seriously.

So here is some background.

Located on the futurist left end of the political spectrum, fully automated luxury communism (FALC) aims to embrace automation to its fullest extent. The term may seem oxymoronic, but that’s part of the point: anything labeled luxury communism is going to be hard to ignore.

“There is a tendency in capitalism to automate labour, to turn things previously done by humans into automated functions,” says Aaron Bastani, co-founder of Novara Media. “In recognition of that, then the only utopian demand can be for the full automation of everything and common ownership of that which is automated.”

Bastani and fellow luxury communists believe that this era of rapid change is an opportunity to realise a post-work society, where machines do the heavy lifting not for profit but for the people.

“The demand would be a 10- or 12-hour working week, a guaranteed social wage, universally guaranteed housing, education, healthcare and so on,” he says. “There may be some work that will still need to be done by humans, like quality control, but it would be minimal.” Humanity would get its cybernetic meadow, tended to by machines of loving grace.

Guardian.

Many people will have thought he was a bleeding idiot on this basis alone.

And,

In the run-up to the United Kingdom European Union membership referendum, 2016, Bastani initially campaigned for the UK to leave the European Union. Bastani went on to change his position on pragmatic grounds two weeks before the referendum.

 

But Bastani keeps popping up , including on the paradigm of luxury communism, the Venezuelan media TeleSUR,

 

 

Bastrani has his eye on the future,

Interplanetary Gold Rush  

As outlandish as it sounds, space exploration, like AI and renewables, is an important terrain on which a rising left must fight. The technology is changing, as are the legal frameworks; we need a politics which understands the possibilities of the future and puts them at the service of social justice and abundance – the province of us all – rather than private profit and scarcity.

Not everybody likes the idea,

Fully automated luxury communism: a utopian critique  mcm_cmc

Fully automated luxury communism thus rests on a highly optimistic vision of the potential of technology to meet our desires with a minimum of human labour. But is this a practical vision? One point that challenges the luxury communist notion is the way in which conceptions of goods as luxurious are often tied up with exclusivity. For example, a Cartier watch isn’t valued for its superior timekeeping abilities as compared to other watches or for its staggering beauty (they are often quite ugly) so much as that they are known for being expensive and thus owning one confers the status of being able to buy something other people cannot afford. ‘Cartier for everyone’ would thus make it meaningless as a status symbol and destroy the very reason it was viewed as a luxury in the first place.

Beyond this, the well established problems of limited natural resources and the damage done to the environment by production raises questions about the possibilities for the growth in production that luxury communism must be predicated upon. Our reliance on maintaining the earth’s environment for our very survival means that sustainability is a key concern to any future vision whilst the new technologies of late capitalism, including technologies such as the internet that rely on vast banks of mainframes consuming large quantities of electricity, have a major impact on the environment, the effects of which we are already seeing. There may well be technological developments that can attenuate or even go some way to reversing these effects, however it would be foolhardy to assume that technology will pull through and avert disaster in the end.

In addition, the limited quantities of materials available for production must inevitably act as a limitation on productive expansion. Thus environmental concerns must limit this promise of ‘luxury for all.’ Older limitations of scarcity may have been overcome, but the problem of environmental scarcity is more pressing than ever before.

Finally, by focusing on work as the production of goods, fully automated luxury communism risks overlooking other forms of labour such as those involved in social reproduction and care. Care work, such as the raising of children, looking after the sick, disabled and the elderly and the everyday tasks required for staying alive remains a large (and proportionately growing) burden of labour time, one for there seems no easy technological fix. Sure, care robots and other forms of automation have been suggested and implemented in part, but these are ill suited to accommodate the complex needs, requirement for human interaction and demands for dignity and agency which must surely be a key part of the provision of care in any future communist society.

As Sylvia Federici argues ‘while production has been restructured through a technological leap in key areas of the world economy, no technological leap has occurred in the sphere of domestic work significantly reducing the labour socially necessary for the reproduction of the workforce.’5

****

If production isn’t infinitely expandable and the scope for the technological replacement of labour power is limited then we will need to rethink what we mean by ‘luxury’, and indeed what we mean by ‘communism’. Here it is necessary to think more generally of a transformation of social relations and relations between humanity and nature, looking towards the creation of a ‘public affluence’ rather than the ‘private luxury’ of capitalist desires.

Luxury communism focuses on the fulfilment of privatised, materialistic desires as they exist now through technologically created plenty. This approach has the benefit of clearly resonating with popular demands without telling people what they ‘should’ want, however if this plenty is limited then we need to look more carefully at the transformation of social relations and how desires are constructed.

For example, the promise of a work free society resonates with people’s unhappiness in work; work is something we do to survive and given the choice we would prefer to not do it. However, if it isn’t possible to replace all these tasks with machines what should the alternative be? Aaron Bastani touches on this with the promise of a 10 hour week, and certainly this would be preferable to working 40+ hours. However, this would still mean 10 hours a week in the same miserable, unsatisfying labour.

Readers of this Blog will hardly need reminding of James Bloodworth’s book Hired which describes the use of new technology to make people’s lives a misery of surveillance and hard labour. Not to mention the fate of those ‘freed’ from work relying on benefits. Or the fact that the Italian Movimento 5 Stelle , now in power, has, faced with the obvious difficulties of implementing the idea in a large country, quietly shelved the idea of a Universal Basic Income.

We can “demand” full automation and full common ownership as much as we like, but without agencies organising people with an interest in socialisation, and without real plans to divest the present owners of their power, this has much likelihood of any effect as Richard Neville’s Oz era advocacy of the ‘alternative society’ replacing the old world with playful “heads”.

For a more in-depth analysis of some these ideas on the end of work in the form advocated by André Gorz, see, André Gorz. Une Vie. Willy Gianinazzi. Review.