We have a left just like this here, don’t we? ROFL.
TCT interrupts its usual fare to announce the arrival of this marvelous new book by our friend Niranjan Ramakrishnan:
The price is steep, but I can assure you the author is as substantial and original on this topic as anybody could be. His parents were involved in the Quit India movement, and actually met Gandhi. He himself is a Gandhi scholar, and a penetrating social critic.
FWIW, TCT considers the topic of whether nonviolence works better than violence to be right exactly at the center of Socialism 2.0. This book is certainly not limited to that question, but has much to say on it.
I like the idea of trying to out-compete capitalists, especially if that were ever to become a policy and practice of nation-states and world government. I also like open source software, which is a pretty impressive example of the viability of the project. But, with all due respect and solidarity, I find ZSocial, the putative Facebook competitor, to be a hugely quixotic endeavor.
It doesn’t take much looking at Facebook pages and Twitter feeds to notice that “social” is hardly the essence of those operations, even from the user’s side. Legitimate information trading is certainly there, but also obviously a far-distant second to the dominant motive on display. That motive is vanity, bragging, “personal advertising.”
As such, TCT suggests that “social networking” is but a symptom of very-late-capitalist culture. It will have no place in a future progressive-survivalist socialist world. It is not just a trick to advance the penetration and power of big business marketing, but also a pure waste of time and electricity.
How and why does Z miss this basic point?
Stuart Staniford, who tracks peak energy problems, today suggests that those of us who hope to help engineer soft landings ought to abandon socialism in favor of Al Gore. Speaking of human history, Staniford proposes that, “at least until we decide to engineer better human beings, a decent society will have an economic elite.” To try to combat elites, in Staniford’s view, is to deny human nature. The best we can do, he suggests, is to accept and nurture our overclass, in hopes of convincing “them, like Al Gore, to use a portion of their undoubted economic privilege in an attempt to move society in a direction of lower impact and less emissions.”
FWIW, I replied thusly:
If you are going to appeal to big history, I would suggest you stick with it. 5,500 years ago, permanent elites figured out how to keep surplus wealth for themselves as “property.” That, as you note, was the beginning of the end for egalitarian kinship societies.
But when did anybody start making a serious attempt to check ruling classes and their stories of biological superiority? 1776/1789. Less than 250 years ago, on a 5,500-year timeline.
And when did socialists start trying to extend democracy to economic affairs? 150 years ago. And they also did so while making the mistake of dismissing existing democracy as mere bourgeois illusion. So, socialism 2.0 has barely started, here in the latest 20 years on that 5,500-year timeline.
And here you are, talking about the naturalness of elites? I don’t buy it, either as history or strategy.
The point of leftism is not absolute monetary equality. It is the extension of democracy over macro-economic choices.
Of course, the impending energy/eco crash is going to make modern wealth levels and our range of macro-economic options a lot smaller.
Capitalists, meanwhile, are militant ostriches and obstacles, like it or not, because they are trying to retain what is utterly unkeepable. Al Gore thinks electric cars are a sufficient answer.
This, from the wonderful and quixotic-in-the-good-way Joe Bageant, strikes me as deeply true, and deeply related to big business marketing, among other things:
Our faculty of ordinary encounter has been systematically broken down. In its place we now have our unique social hallucination. Never do we encounter anything directly, yet we get the illusion of encounter. This includes encounter with each other. Anyone who lives in meatspace with his or her fellow Americans could not deny 57 million of them health. In this society no one is any longer capable of recognizing anyone else. Instead, we see others as the screamers at the town hall meetings, or as communists who want to give free healthcare to illegals and establish death panels. Or as Christian fundamentalists, or as liberals or conservatives. Or as celebrities or as nobodies.
Alas, it’s only “bipartisan” among that puny, powerless group known as the entire voting public:
So, half of Republicans now favor Medicare for All. Think about that.
What is our glorious President Change and his magnificent Party doing about that, armed as they are with not only a 90-percent mandate among their own party members, but a clear majority of the opposition? Why, they’re continuing to search for a “bi-partisan” answer — in the U.S. Senate, of course.
This is a major proof of Uncle Whiskers’ old point about the state being the executive committee of the ruling class. Our ruling class is too unhinged and out-of-control to cede anything that suggests your right to live is separate from your status as a piece of “human capital.”
Obama is 100 percent part of the problem, not the solution. Collaboration is his middle name. He is an epic disaster, a sick joke, a Reaganesque plague upon the nation.
Worse, our always deeply hamstrung system of self-government is now utterly broken. What more proof do you need? Jesus Palomino — half of Republicans already favor Medicare for All, yet that obvious and easy and massively popular policy remains “off the table”!!!!!
Time for a new social movement, a new president, and a new Constitution. Time to stop being fooled by political marketers. Time to make sure the 2010s will make the 1960s look like the 1950s.