Naomi Klein's Shock Doctrine

105 posts / 0 new
Last post
Rundler
Naomi Klein's Shock Doctrine

 

Rundler

Naomi Klein visits the rabble book lounge. [url=http://www.rabble.ca/reviews/review.shtml?x=62027]Have a listen[/url] and share your reactions here.

[ 07 September 2007: Message edited by: Michelle ]

N.Beltov N.Beltov's picture

YouTube also has some video shorts about her new book. Check it out [url=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kieyjfZDUIc]over here: The Shock Doctrine by Naomi Kline and Alfonso Cuarуn[/url]

I am re-reading Ellen M. Wood's [i]The Origin of Capitalism: a longer view[/i] as well as E.P. Thompson's [i]The Making of the English Working Class[/i] and there's a point that Wood makes there that bears repeating here. [i]The market became capitalist when it became [b]compulsory[/b]; the term "the free market" is, in fact, propaganda that disguises the real origin of capitalism as a social system.[/i] That is, perhaps, not a surprise when the prevailing view about capitalism's origin is that it was "always there" and a teleological view seems to dominate most orthodox (i.e., pro-capitalist) views.

quote:

Wood: ...the distinctive and dominant characteristic of of the capitalist market is not opportunity or choice but, on the contrary, compulsion. Material life and social reproduction in capitalism are universally mediated by the market, so that all individuals must in one way or another enter into market relations in order to gain access to the means of life. This unique system of market-dependence means that the dictates of the capitalist market - its imperatives of competition, accumulation, profit-maximization, and increasing labour-productivity - regulate not only all economic transactions but social relations in general. As relations among human beings are mediated by the process of commodity exchange, social relations among people appear as relations among things: the 'fetishism of commodities', in Marx's famous phrase.

Why is this relevant? It's useful to demonstrate how even in its murky origins, capitalism is presented as a "natural" social order and biological metaphors are used to justify the endless promotion of "things" over human relations. Behind it all is the nefarious and evil practice of trying to make permanent the exploitation of one human being by another and make it appear as natural as meeting one's 'freely chosen' needs. The implanted conviction that "there is no alternative" is very deeply rooted and matches the success of the most severe 'totalitarian' brainwashing.

Fidel

I agree. "The economy" was never as central to peoples lives as it has become over the last century and especially so in the last 25 years. Polanyi said that man's economy was embedded in his social relationships since time immemorial. But the new Liberal capitalism is an attempt to embed man in his economy. As far as neoLiberal capitalist ideology is concerned, man is just a walking set of insatiable material desires. We are one-dimensional prisoners of our own self-interested greed. It's a distortion of man, and when applied to society produces distorted results.

[ 07 September 2007: Message edited by: Fidel ]

writer writer's picture

quote:


"The economy" was never as central to peoples lives as it has become over the last century and especially so in the last 25 years.

I think the people ousted by the enclosure of the commons and the highland clearances, those forced into slavery, and the indigenous peoples plundered, exploited and killed over the last few hundred years might disagree with the notion this has only recently become acute.

The Shock Doctrine has been tried and true for some time now. King Leopold used it well to his advantage, for example.

I'd argue that the capitalist system has always depended on keeping the populace off-balance. Then there was the 1950s, and a few people in a small part of the world were comfortable, all the while building a brutal military stockpile. And the comfort has been absurdly mythologized and universalized. And that pocket of time for the few is now somehow seen as the norm, while the decades of war and privation that rage around it (and through it, for many) are the exceptions.

As a couple of dudes wrote a while ago:

quote:

Constant revolutionising of production, uninterrupted disturbance of all social conditions, everlasting uncertainty and agitation distinguish the bourgeois epoch from all earlier ones. All fixed, fast-frozen relations, with their train of ancient and venerable prejudices and opinions, are swept away, all new-formed ones become antiquated before they can ossify. All that is solid melts into air, all that is holy is profaned, and man is at last compelled to face with sober senses his real conditions of life, and his relations with his kind.

The need of a constantly expanding market for its products chases the bourgeoisie over the entire surface of the globe. It must nestle everywhere, settle everywhere, establish connexions everywhere.

[url=http://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1848/communist-manifesto/ch01... Manifesto[/url]


[ 07 September 2007: Message edited by: writer ]

writer writer's picture

The notion of a gentler capitalism simply has me dumbfounded. This is a Canadian board. This is a country that was created through murder and theft, and which continues with its crimes, all the while making posters and theme songs about how broad-minded and accepting the state is.

It is a form of collective madness, this denial.

I don't know how indigenous peoples cope with this crap.

[ 07 September 2007: Message edited by: writer ]

skdadl

quote:


All that is solid melts into air ...

Marx certainly knew his Shakespeare, as he knew his Rousseau.

It is useful sometimes to observe that there is nothing new under the sun, as of course there isn't, but it is also often useful to observe the particularities of one's own time.

Me, I would call Dick Cheney a singularity. If Shakespeare and Marx were living now, I bet they would too. They would have loved the guy -- what material!

Fidel

A Skdadl sighting. Hey lady, I've missed your comments. [img]smile.gif" border="0[/img]

CMOT Dibbler

Don't go Skdadl! We need you!

contrarianna

quote:


Originally posted by skdadl:
[b]
Me, I would call Dick Cheney a singularity. If Shakespeare and Marx were living now, I bet they would too. They would have loved the guy -- what material![/b]

Closest rewrite material--Iago: adviser as puppeteer, sociopath, and all round malignant toad, whose final words could be turn out to be the same:
"Demand me nothing: what you know, you know: From this time forth I never will speak word "

N.Beltov N.Beltov's picture

You lucky duck. You got to quote skdadl here. I'm [color=green][b]green[/b] with envy.

DonnyBGood

I haven't read the book yet but the essential psychology that she outlines in her Utube presentation is well known. What is more fascinating are the illustrations she uses and the consequences of the imposition of the neoliberal agenda.

The issue that interests me is the notion that it is ideas that shape human behaviour. That is, is it true or, as she quotes Milton Friedman, do ideas simply provide rationalizations for attavistic behaviours after the fact?

She also illustrates how essentially powerless governments are in the neoliberal world. They have been rendered ineffective by greed and porkbarreling as she illustrates in her discusion of the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans.

She therefore concludes that the social democratic, humanist movement we belong to lost this battle of ideas. Well how does this follow? Government does not respond to the people and is controlled by an oligarchy. This oligarchy uses force and intimidation , controls the media, the police, the army and our elected represenataives to a large extent (through the party system). It rules according to its own agenda and system and does not entertain discussions other than to claim some hollow victory over phantom enemies wqe must forever be on the watch out for.

Did Naomi lose the "debate"? I hardly think so. The competition for the best ideas becoming public policy in a democratic society was and is fixed in favour of the worst ones. Thus she couldn't win it either.

N.Beltov N.Beltov's picture

Here is an author who implicitly critiques the views of someone like Naomi Kline:

quote:

Socialism, as I describe it here, is a natural response to the problems associated with the development of capitalism. The fact that it is rarely discussed any more is evidence of the effectiveness of the targeted systems of indoctrination known in our societies as education and information. The question of socialism has nothing to do with the crisis of capitalism, the destruction (real or imagined) of nature, or the alleged bourgeoisification of the working class. Because control over one's own existence is a fundamental human aspiration, the question will not go away as living standards rise, and [b]it does not require a catastrophe to bring it to the forefront.[/b] The more our survival-related biological needs are met, the more our strictly human needs for autonomy and freedom demand to be satisfied.

The quote is from a piece by Jean Bricmont regarding the failure of the French left at ZNet. See

[url=http://www.zmag.org/content/showarticle.cfm?SectionID=10&ItemID=13722]The Class Struggle Will No Longer Be Offshored.[/url]

The article shows the vapidity of post-modernist drivel and its inexorable dead end. "The defeat of the French left in the presidential and legislative elections was fair punishment for its lack of vision. Social democracy is still based on the exploitation of the third world, with which Europe must now create a new relationship."

The author elaborates a "back to basics" approach for socialists. He says:

quote:

To succeed, political movements must believe what they say. The victors on the right have not been the Keynesian, conservative wets (as Margaret Thatcher called them), but the hardliners. Until the left can come up with something better than moderately rightwing policies, it has no chance of winning. To change that, it must go back to the roots of the conflict between left and right. It must see beyond values, like feminism or antiracism, which the modern right is quite happy to adopt. It must address the fundamental question: who controls the economy?

In a word, the left needs to believe in socialism. A good read.

Bricmont is the author of the recent book, [i]Humanitarian Imperialism[/i]. It looks to be an excellent expose of the ideological window dressing with which the more recent invasions, bombings, and occupations of the imperialist countries have been covered with.

Fidel

I do believe in socialism. And I think people like Rabble's Duncan Cameron have given us some very good arguments for technical socialism. The only things standing in our way are a misinformed public and a general lack of interest in politics among Canadian voters since the free trade and other betrayals of the 1980's-90's.

Solidarity4Ever

quote:


Originally posted by Fidel:
[b]The only things standing in our way are a misinformed public and a general lack of interest in politics among Canadian voters since the free trade and other betrayals of the 1980's-90's.[/b]

Don't forget the mass killings and the crushing of the human spirit. But hey, those are only 'details of history', right?

N.Beltov N.Beltov's picture

A critique of imperialism has typically been a dividing line between social democracy, particularly in the developed capitalist countries, and socialism. So Bricmont provides an important and useful service by insisting on linking socialism with anti-imperialism, and demonstrating why, as well as insisting on the word that too many are afraid to say anymore: socialism.

But I certainly wouldn't want anyone to misunderstand criticism of Klein from the left as in any way endorsing disagreement with her from the right. Her book looks interesting and well worth the read.

Unionist

quote:


Originally posted by Solidarity4Ever:
[b]

Don't forget the mass killings and the crushing of the human spirit. [/b]


Was that when they got yours? Gee, I'm sorry. RIP.

Solidarity4Ever

quote:


Originally posted by unionist:
[b]

Was that when they got yours? Gee, I'm sorry. RIP.[/b]


Got my what? Be more specific, butthole.

Fidel

quote:


Originally posted by Solidarity4Ever:
[b]

Don't forget the mass killings and the crushing of the human spirit. But hey, those are only 'details of history', right?[/b]


If this thread were to deteriorate into a juvenile debate about socialist versus capitalist experiments of recent history wrt body counts, you may lose your stomach for Liberal capitalism. So let's spare us that misadventure and stick with the thread topic.

N.Beltov N.Beltov's picture

quote:


Solidarity4Ever: Got my what? Be more specific, butthole.

Perhaps you missed this part of the rules, policies and disclaimers?

quote:

You agree, through your use of this service ... to avoid personal insults, attacks and mischievous antagonism (otherwise known as "trolling").

[url=http://www.rabble.ca/babble/policy.html]http://www.rabble.ca/babble/poli...

N.Beltov N.Beltov's picture

[throws a dishcloth over his left shoulder] Well, that mess looks to be cleaned up. Who's for a nice cup of tea? It's almost 4 p.m. in Manitoba.

duncan cameron

Th Shock Doctrine deserved better than it got in the Globe review today. Here is my letter to the reviewer.

Dear Todd Gitlin,

I suppose I have been one of your admirers since the student anti-war movement. So i was surprised to read your intervention in the Globe and Mail today reviewing The Shock Doctrine. How you could have assumed that everyone of your readers knows about the problems of capitalism simply amazes me. But then, I have to conclude you have not been following Canadian public life too closely.

In the last 25 years a campaign has been underway to eliminate any voices or analysis that do not recognize the superiority of the Reagan/Thatcher vision of society. It has succeeded beyond any expectation of the forces behind it. The Canadian left is marginalized and has no access to the commercial media, and the Canadian BBC has caved as well.
Some 40 years ago, Pierre Trudeau emerged, a left liberal, with a background in labour issues, and became prime minister in part because of the impact of the new left on world politics. How far back we have gone, as a result of our success, those years ago, when your leadership was known around the world.

That is why Ms. Klein has become an important figure for those of us who have tried to show that capitalism still has its own problems. In her book Klein shows the excesses of capitalism in the context of the Iraq war and Katrina. She connects the dots and offer an analysis unavailable elsewhere of the pure capitalist approach to settling social problems. Shock, and awe, hell. Shock and privatize, yes. Ms. Klein understands that, of course, ideas matter, and that, in the capitalist resurgence, the key figure was Milton Friedman. By the way the FT has a review tosay of four economics biographies that reaches the same conclusion.
if I understood what you had to say, she reviewed a book of yours. You did not like the review. Given the opportunity you chose to settle a score.
You realize of course that close readers will question your own intellectual honesty by choosing this tack. I am simply saddened to see what you, a hero to many, have become: petty and self-centred. The ideals you once represented deserve a better performance.
Sadly, the sailor's saying resonates: beware a fallen beacon.

Yours truly,

Lord Palmerston

N. Beltov, are you assuming Klein is a social democrat?

N.Beltov N.Beltov's picture

Well, I did read in one of the interviews that she supports the NDP. It seems a reasonable conclusion.

Fidel

Just because she's married to Avi Lewis, son of Stephen Lewis, and grandson of David Lewis ?. Maybe you're right, Lord Pee, perhaps Naomi married into the family for reasons other than their social democratic traditions. Maybe she's an anarcho-Marxist ?.

[ 09 September 2007: Message edited by: Fidel ]

Michelle

I think probably Klein can be judged on her own merits and not her husband's or her husband's family's. Just my opinion.

N.Beltov N.Beltov's picture

[i]ahem.[/i] Thank the nice moderator, Fidel.

RosaL

quote:


Originally posted by N.Beltov:
[b]Well, I did read in one of the interviews that she supports the NDP. It seems a reasonable conclusion.[/b]

I'm pretty sure she's a social democrat, too, just based on the bits of her I've read. I think she falls into the "lite" category - not, I hasten to say, because she's a social democrat! But she gets people to pay attention to certain issues and that certainly has some value.
And she and Avi made a good movie [img]smile.gif" border="0[/img]

Fidel

quote:


Originally posted by Michelle:
[b]I think probably Klein can be judged on her own merits and not her husband's or her husband's family's. Just my opinion.[/b]

Absolutely.

Lord Palmerston

I have heard that she is anti-capitalist, anarchist, etc. but she is vague on the issue in this interview. Talking about extreme or fundamentalist capitalism could imply she wants a nicer capitalism, but not necessarily. Chomsky is an anarchist but he spends very, very, very little time talking about the need to overthrow capitalism. Maybe Klein is the same way.

I saw her talk in Toronto on Thursday and she did, in fact, vehemently oppose someone who gave the "it must get worst before it gets better" question/suggestion.

[url=http://www.zmag.org/content/showarticle.cfm?SectionID=10&ItemID=13725]ht...

DonnyBGood

The main disagreement that the enlightened 21st century radical has with Karl Marx is the notion of a class war. He believed and so did Che Guevera that the only solution to capitalists was to kill them...

Since that time the engines of war and mass murder have rapidly made the possibility of winning a class war by violence impractical. In any case what was said back then was that workers would take control and where the capitalist calss used violence the working class would respond with the necessary force to eliminate that threat.

Well a quick read of the Klein position is the very correct analysis that violence does not work against those who are mastrers of the techniques of violence. It corrupts and turns liberators into monsters as we have seen throughout the world.

Reading today's New York Times article on Iraq and the effect of the troop build-up there illustrates the inherent instability of disaster capitalism and the ideology of shock and awe - it breeds monsters.

According to the article much of the lessening of violence was accomplished not by US soldiers but by ethnic cleansing that had already peaked before the troop arrivals. There is no society or safe haven for anyone there and where violence is quelled it pops up elsewhere.

So you have the future of the world predicted in the Iraq scenario. Walled neighborhoods surrounded by soldiers dealing out death as indicriminately as car bombs.Refugees of wealthy middle class neighborhoods fleeing for their lives, the population forced to collude with first one extremist group and then the other at the risk of death etc., etc.

The conclusion is that to achieve success the US would have to stay in Iraq forever!

So let us not go down that road. Let us say that homicidal mania is not the natural stae of humankind but an affliction. History therefore could not move by war or warfare driven by economics but by some other evolutionary process.

In April's New Internationalist magazine discusses the plight of the world's oceans. The startling fact is that human impact is causing a reversal of evolution! Oceans are being loaded with nutrients and chemicals that are causing enormous algae growth while other pollution is destroying the higher order of creatures that feed on it. Industrial fishing is eliminating certain species that fed on the more primitive jellyfish population which now is also ballooning.

The strength of writers like Klein and Linda McQuaig is they echo the wisdom of the working class. We ought not destroy what we have for a false promise. We should move from strength to strength. We should speak out against the attavistic folly of the current ruling elites.

My only question is does ideolgical thinking really effect the way people act? Or, and this seems more likely to me, do ideologies, indeed even grandiose political philosophies merely rationalize human behavior?

For example: I am at home depot where there is a demonstration on solar cells being given . The small crowd is interested enthusiastic. They like the idea of powering one's home cleanly and efficiently. According to my estimates 4 of the large ones would completely meet the energy needs of my place. I ask how much they are. All eyes lite on the sales guy. "Only $16,000 each - installed !" he says. People laugh and say thanks and head off to buy the box of nails or toilet flapper.

Now the Liberals are about to spend another $20 billion on nuclear reactors over the nest 10 years. The same amount of money spent on solar cells would provide 1.25 million solar cells for Ontarians. That is about enough energy for only 10% of homes in Toronto. But it is cost efficient for the government to pay 4 times the rate for solar generated power to citizens. So with a bit of thinking and strategizing Ontario could get into the mass production of solar cells. Computers used to cost 10 times as much. Using these economies we could probably power all homes in Canada with a solar power grid.

Those guys at Home Depot know it. Why don't we just do it?

N.Beltov N.Beltov's picture

quote:


DonnyBGood: The main disagreement that the enlightened 21st century radical has with Karl Marx is the notion of a class war. He believed and so did Che Guevera that the only solution to capitalists was to kill them...

I call bullshit.

quote:

To prevent possible misunderstanding, a word. I paint the capitalist and the landlord in no sense [i]couleur de rose[/i]. But here individuals are dealt with only in so far as they are the personifications of economic categories, embodiments of particular class-relations and class-interests. My standpoint, from which the evolution of the economic formation of society is viewed as a process of natural history, [b]can less than any other make the individual responsible[/b] for relations whose creature he socially remains, however much he may subjectively raise himself above them.

from the Preface to the 1st German edition of [i]Capital[/i], by Karl Marx, dated July 25, 1867.

Obviously, if Marx believed that individual capitalists were not responsible for the social relations of capitalism, then why would he be in favour of killing any of them? Marx wanted an end to exploitation and he was the first to identify the social group that, he felt, would lead that yet-to-be finished struggle.

[ 09 September 2007: Message edited by: N.Beltov ]

DonnyBGood

OK whatever the citation means, I don't think it supposes that capitalists would lead the revolution.

Would you deny that Marx predicted a violent revolution based on antipathy between the ruling capitalist class and the proletariat?

I think he was wrong on this that is all - another dynamic was truer to the reality of class relations.

Fidel

[url=http://www.socialistalternative.org/news/article11.php?id=614]Latin America — Rising Class Struggle Forces Socialism onto the Agenda[/url]

Workers are struggling and rebelling around the world here and there. And an ideology in the last three most politically conservative nations clings to power by a dated and obsolete electoral system. And they've had to resort to stealing a FPTP election in 2000. I think that was a low point for neoLiberal capitalism as well as the unprecedented anti-warfiteering and anti-globalization protests around the world.

kropotkin1951 kropotkin1951's picture

So what is an anachro-Marxist. Central planning by anarchists?

I've heard Naomi speak on her new book (I was at the CCPA fundraiser) She doesn't say what her personal belief is however there is no doubt from watching The Take that she admires the anarchist project that is ongoing in the take back the factories movement. Syndicalism in action. If you watch the Take I find it interesting that the workers in Latin America still have more rights than in Canada. If Canadian workers tried to occupy a factory that was closing the owner would get an injunction from the courts ,the RCMP would then order everyone to leave and if they didn't they would be arrested. If they were to try to go back into the factory they would be given significant jail time. But we are so democratic in Canada eh?

M. Spector M. Spector's picture

Nobody else has linked to the published excerpts from the book, so here they are:

[url=http://books.guardian.co.uk/departments/politicsphilosophyandsociety/sto... excerpt #1[/url]

[url=http://books.guardian.co.uk/shockdoctrine/story/0,,2165953,00.html]Guardian excerpt #2[/url]

[url=http://books.guardian.co.uk/shockdoctrine/story/0,,2166586,00.html]Guardian excerpt #3[/url]

[url=http://www.theglobeandmail.com/servlet/story/RTGAM.20070907.wshock0908/B... and Mail excerpt[/url]

They are well worth reading.

Fidel

quote:


Originally posted by M. Spector:
[b]Nobody else has linked to the published excerpts from the book, so here they are:

[url=http://books.guardian.co.uk/departments/politicsphilosophyandsociety/sto... excerpt #1[/url][/b]


\

quote:

Friedman first learned how to exploit a shock or crisis in the mid-70s, when he advised the dictator General Augusto Pinochet. Not only were Chileans in a state of shock after Pinochet's violent coup, [b]but the country was also traumatised by hyperinflation.[/b] Friedman advised Pinochet to impose a rapid-fire transformation of the economy - tax cuts, free trade, privatised services, cuts to social spending and deregulation.

They blamed Allende for shortages and spiraling inflation under his socialist government. And neoLiberalizers today will say the same things about Chile through to why we needed to Liberalize up in North America: inflation or stagflation of the 1970's and leading to their economic austerity measures of the 1980's and 90's as the cure. They would never mention the fact that U.S. hawks were printing money to fund an immoral war in Vietnam, or the mini-shocks that resulted from energy crisis of the 1970's, or of technological stagnation from a lack of capitalist investment in R&D as sources and causes of economic doldrums here.

But Chile was another case altogether. Exports and credit were cut off, and money poured in to provide covert aid for private businesses organizing strikes which crippled various sectors of Allende's economy. They exacerbated inflation as part of waging economic warfare on their own country from within and without. See declassified U.S. documents, CIA director Richard Helms hand notes from a meeting with the "doctor and the madman" who gave him orders to, [b][i]"make the economy scream",[/i][/b] in order to facilitate Allende's exit.

mayakovsky

In most exchanges I have seen between Klein and Gitlin I have been more sympathetic to Gitlin's position. I thoroughly enjoyed his 'Letters to a Young Activist'. With Klein I take exception to things like her last bit in the recent Macleans interview,

"You mean get involved with the government?
Yeah, or like a ... I don't even think of it as a government, Ken, because I just think we'd lose! I won't get past the campaign!"

To me she is saying I go around the world and get involved in local/grassroots struggles which are exciting and beyond the comprehension of average Canadians. No! Like Gitlin says the struggle here is different. It is not romantic, it's politics. But hey if you are supposedly down with the people but you can't speak to peeps. Well, you aint gonna get the props.

Farmpunk

Far be it from me to question D. Cameron but I don't think that using Trudeau as a paragon of working class political awareness is going to win over many people with even a lite knowlege of Canadian politics in the 70s.

"The strength of writers like Klein and Linda McQuaig is they echo the wisdom of the working class."

To echo Beltov: bullshit.

The current socialist-left has absolutely no real world communication skills. I would suggest this thread is an excellent example of the problem. It reads more like a political geek convention about defining the problem to the already converted. I enjoy reading this stuff but how many normal people would? What would they get out it?

In other words is there such a thing as pop culture socialism? If The Left remains deadly serious and academic it is going to fail.

Thanks for the links, Spector, Beltov.

evernon

Todd Gitlin who back in the 6os was a student activist with SDS and today a respected professor of journalism at Columbia while noting Klein's abilities is nonetheless a little more critical and rightly so in my view:

[url=http://www.theglobeandmail.com/servlet/story/LAC.20070908.BKKLEIN08/TPSt... and Mail[/url]

Unionist

quote:


Originally posted by evernon:
[b]Todd Gitlin who back in the 6os was a student activist with SDS and today a respected professor of journalism at Columbia while noting Klein's abilities is nonetheless a little more critical and rightly so in my view:[/b]

"Respected" - what a loaded term that is!

Todd Gitlin is just another "God that failed" ex-radical who has got tenure, made his peace with the system, and uses his ancient credentials to undermine the enthusiasm for change of those (like Naomi Klein and Noam Chomsky) who are younger either in age or in world outlook.

DonnyBGood

quote:


[/QUOTEhe current socialist-left has absolutely no real world communication skills. I would suggest this thread is an excellent example of the problem. It reads more like a political geek convention about defining the problem to the already converted. I enjoy reading this stuff but how many normal people would? What would they get out it?

In other words is there such a thing as pop culture socialism? If The Left remains deadly serious and academic it is going to fail.


Again I ithink there is a naieve assumption here that the story is unknown to the public at large to the working class The working class knows the story. You cannot defeat capitalism by force and implement a social democratic regime. Klein and McQuaig know this.

Thus what is the point of a "populist left wing ideology" ? We had that and did that in the 60's and 70's and it didn't work. It didn't work becaause no one new how ideology translated into action.

Protests don't work. Strikes don't work. The electoral systems on national scales don't work. The party system is moribund and facistic. Opting out doesn't work nor does opting in unless you want to sell out and have the requisite skills to do so.

So what is to be done?

I think that this lesson creates in itself an anti-leftist behaviour. But since "leftist behaviour" is mostly simply rational behaviour all that is left is attavism.

Look at punk rock as a typical example. It was intially a racist and violent creed that was laundered by the media and bands like the Clash to be "protest" - now that was bullshit. It was people doing things, making culture, lifestyles in reaction to liberal society. It had little anarchist or polirtical theory behind it. The rationalizations came later.

[ 14 September 2007: Message edited by: DonnyBGood ]

evernon

quote:


Originally posted by unionist:
[b]

"Respected" - what a loaded term that is!

Todd Gitlin is just another "God that failed" ex-radical who has got tenure, made his peace with the system, and uses his ancient credentials to undermine the enthusiasm for change of those (like Naomi Klein and Noam Chomsky) who are younger either in age or in world outlook.[/b]


Right, it is so easy to be churlish and critical when sitting back in an armchair doing just that.

N.Beltov N.Beltov's picture

I don't want to put words in his mouth, but I think Farmpunk was drawing attention to the atrophy of working class cultural institutions and expressions. I would agree; capitalism turns everything into a commodity, including culture, and sterilizes the goodness out of working class social, cultural and political traditions of resistance. Any good student of working class history knows that past struggles, and successful present ones, typically have much more than simply "political stuff" as ingredients for success.

Capitalism monopolizes what is communicated to working people, socially, culturally, and politically, and perverts, for the sake of profit and social control, working class culture into simply another product of capitalism. That is why it is so important to contrast the amorality of the market with real choices that truly represent the cultural and spiritual values of working people.

Merowe

quote:


Originally posted by DonnyBGood:
[b]

Look at punk rock as a typical example. It was intially a racist and violent creed that was laundered by the media and bands like the Clash to be "protest" - now that was bullshit. It was people doing things, making culture, lifestyles in reaction to liberal society. It had little anarchist or polirtical theory behind it. The rationalizations came later.

[ 14 September 2007: Message edited by: DonnyBGood ][/b]


small thread-drifty nitpick: I thought punk started with the Ramones and the Sex Pistols; and the latter were from their inception groomed by Malcolm Mclaren and his partner Vivianne Westwood in a fairly savvy epater-le-bourgeosie style referencing the Situationists and the Lettrists for starters, so it may surprise you as it did me that they weren't a completely spontan phenom.

...and back to this excellent pithy-quote-filled (Beltov!) thread

RosaL

quote:


Originally posted by N.Beltov:
[b]Capitalism monopolizes what is communicated to working people, socially, culturally, and politically, and perverts, for the sake of profit and social control, working class culture into simply another product of capitalism. That is why it is so important to contrast the amorality of the market with real choices that truly represent the cultural and spiritual values of working people.[/b]

My grandfather's generation spoke English as a second language. They had two or three years of schooling. They were desperately poor. They read , they followed politics minutely, and they discussed fine points of theory and practice with friends, family, and anyone they met who seemed to have interesting things to say. (Of course they did other things too.) Their children and grandchildren read "block-busters" and watch American Idol.

[ 14 September 2007: Message edited by: RosaL ]

N.Beltov N.Beltov's picture

Well, they call it the "idiot box" for good reason. You would think that, with the built-in drama and conflict, shows depicting the social and political struggles of working people would be a natural for a TV drama, eh? "Manuel Werk, Union Organizer" or something like that. Millions of Canadians belong to unions but you would never know it from dramas and fiction on television.

Fidel

We've got to be able to compete with and take focus off mainstream news stories, like the our small-minded minority government's obssession with veiled women voters. Canadians will be talking about this non-issue from coast to coast for at least a week. They are able to pacify Canadians with this kind of tabloid stupidity week after week, month after month.

RosaL

quote:


Originally posted by Fidel:
[b]We've got to be able to compete with and take focus off mainstream news stories, like the our small-minded minority government's obssession with veiled women voters. Canadians will be talking about this non-issue from coast to coast for at least a week. They are able to pacify Canadians with this kind of tabloid stupidity week after week, month after month.[/b]

I fear it goes well beyond the news. The entertainment industry is the opium of the people.

[ 14 September 2007: Message edited by: RosaL ]

Fidel

Yes, it's too bad. Too many of us really don't have time to think about political platforms and policies. What people need are politicians to fit their busy life styles - a party that will do all the difficult thinking for everyone. Afterall, that's what they're paid to do, isn't it?. Canadians should never have to worry about making these kinds of important decisions even for a half an hour every four years. We should allow the politicians to do their jobs without interference from ordinary people who should just go to work every day and worry about things they deal with effectively within their own personal circles of control.

Democracy and politics are boring when it comes right down to it. And who could blame Canadians for our voter participation rates dropping over the 1990's since FTA and NAFTA-GST flip-flops by our two old line parties with almost identical overall support the other one's corporate tax cuts and big banking friendly policies in parliament as the net overall effect. With more than 100 years worth of Canada's two old line parties in Ottawa and provinces handing power off to the other, political decision making in Canada has been reduced to a coin toss, a 50-50 chance that one or the other stale, old line parties will form the government. If we ask the average Canadian on the street what they think of Canadian politics, they'll say what's the use? - or they're all corrupt. Canadian politics is made boring on purpose and therefore instilling even more power in the small number of hands of those who have it.

Farmpunk

Hey, isn't there a net rule against referring to media as the opiate of the masses that's on par with the first person to use Hitler as an example to back up their argument?

I guess the thread related point being that there's not a lot of people who're going to read Klein, or D Cameron, ever. I don't care what her lefty cred might be, but she's more well known than anyone else referenced in this thread, and certainly more influential than we are. And no one is going to read her book that isn't either a fan or an opponent. She's pitching ideas to an interested audience; selling herself to the same audience over and over. She's marketing herself. God forbid she write something considered unpublishable... She'd have to post that crazy shit on the net, where the loonies gather and the money is tight.

No one reads books anymore, regardless. Who-ever writes Klein's jacket blurbs has more audience influence than what's in her pages.

My definition of grass roots does not include writers like Klein. A high end writer can convey opinion but not set the agenda. Unless a base of support is built over time then it will inevitably fail. No one likes being talked down to, especially working people. It's like having a public servant from the Ministry of Ag telling me about the problems in farming and what I should be doing to try to earn a living. There's a separtion of reality there that is impossible to reconcile. Klein is a professional writer. She'll go to Iraq and New Orleans but has she ever sweated in a field in southern Ontario? Didn't Orwell run into this problem in Down And Out In Paris and London? Pretend working class comes across quite clearly, to a working person.

Who said that the populist grass roots socialism of the 60s and 70s accomplished little? The lefty pros since have done what exactly?

Do I have to have a mohawk to like punk? Whose a real punk artist? Likely someone I've never heard of, right? Guess I'm not punk or lefty enough to be a member of the club.

Pages

Topic locked