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Friday, October 3, 2008

As We Know It

posted by on October 3 at 13:48 PM

On the website for the Socialist Worker, Britain’s anti-capitalist paper…

a world that is on the edge of…
We old and crusty socialists are not that different from the extremists in Christianity. In every event that happens, they look for the signs of apocalypse; as for us, it’s the signs of revolution. Though looking forward to the future, in reality Christian extremists are always going back to ancient Rome (the world they wanted God to end); though looking forward to the future, socialists in reality are always going back to 1840, going back to every economic crisis that was supposed to be the labor pains for the birth of a new tomorrow. What didn’t happen back then is not going to happen today. We must give up this hope that makes us wait and wait for the “true” labor pains. What we need is a whole new science of revolution. A science liberated from the “weak link,” the point of crisis.

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Move to France already.

Posted by Mr. Poe | October 3, 2008 1:47 PM


Posted by RonK, Seattle | October 3, 2008 1:49 PM

Quite so. The immanency of the revolution is the one constant of that way of thinking. It's right around the corner; always has been, always will be.

Posted by Fnarf | October 3, 2008 1:52 PM

Until you get to Adorno and he just craps on everyone. Everyone in the world is a turd (except Theo himself, of course).

Posted by eric sic | October 3, 2008 1:57 PM

this is a surprisingly self aware post charles, well done.

Posted by douglas | October 3, 2008 2:00 PM

On “the desponding view that the condition of man cannot be ameliorated, that what has been must ever be”:

“This doctrine is the genuine fruit of the alliance between church and state, the tenants of which, finding themselves but too well in their present condition, oppose all advances which might unmask their usurpations, and monopolies of honors, wealth, and power, and fear every change as endangering the comforts they now hold.”
- Thomas Jefferson, “Report of the Commissioners for the University of Virginia.” (h/t Lapham's Quarterly.)

Posted by tomasyalba | October 3, 2008 2:08 PM

I L-O-V-E Barbara Ehrenreich:

"This year marks the 160th anniversary of the Communist Manifesto and capitalism, aka "free enterprise," seems willing to observe the occasion by dropping dead.

On Monday night, some pundits were warning that the ATMs might run dry and hinting that the only safe investment left is canned beans. Apocalypse or extortion? No one seems to know, though the populist part of the populace has been leaning toward the latter. An email whipping around the web this morning has the subject line "Sign on Wall St. yesterday," and shows a hand-lettered cardboard sign saying, "JUMP! You Fuckers!"

Posted by Original Andrew | October 3, 2008 2:10 PM

Actually yeah, I kind of agree Charles.

My thoughts towards socialism are similar to my thoughts toward Utopia. You read the book, and it's not exactly what you thought it was about. My gripe about socialism is that it's flawed about how pervasive greed really is, for better or for worse. And SUBTLE greed can be in the most socialist of societies. I've heard of people who stashed old magazines in their attic as a sign of personal wealth in socialist countries.

Also, in the socialist dictatorships and EXPECIALLY the communist free state, people aren't going to live freely and share accordingly unless people can really feel the pain of their history that led them to accept their way of life. People need pain, otherwise there is no incentive to build. Like any organism, without challenge, man will wither and die. It's easy for a philosopher to state that he has learned from the pain of the past (both personal and societal) and is willing to evolve beyond. I would expect entirely the opposite from oh ... Sarah Palin ...

Pseudo socialism is what's needed. Something that slows down the free market and the playing field to allow for legit competion. Like affirmative action, free education for those that can digest it. (And not a fucking wall street buy out ... sigh)

A cultural acceptance in the elite that your kid shouldn't be president just because you can buy him in there regardless of how much of a dimwit he is (hell the Romans eventually came to understand this)

Posted by formerly OR Matt | October 3, 2008 2:15 PM

I applaud your self-awareness. Keep it up.

Posted by Sir Learnsalot | October 3, 2008 2:16 PM

needs moar titties

Posted by Non | October 3, 2008 2:33 PM

They forgot to capitalize the 'b' in Gordon "Brown."

Posted by elswinger | October 3, 2008 2:54 PM

I often thought where it would start, and I figure here's one place, this bail out.

We set the rope at 700 feet, but we're only letting them at 100 feet until they meet one specific metric, something basic. They feel accomplished that way but they need more.

They come back to us, we say they can have another 250 feet of that rope if they do what we say. We gauge their willingness and adjust laws accordingly. But they need more, they know there's 700 feet of rope waiting for them. They need that rope, they don't know why, but it's free and they need it.

We tell them they can have 100 more feet if they give us time to authorize it. We assess what they've done and ask them "are you sure?" and after some deliberation, we come back with more conditions. There's still 250 more feet after this, they reason, so they agree and take the rope.

At 450 feet of rope, they're addicted and we keep them tied up in it. They want more, though, they always do. It's capital, it's liquidity, they need it. As the plan says, we can go back and deliberate some more. More regulations, more rules, more rope.

Finally, we hit that last bit of rope and say, as the plan indicates, "we demand a return on our investment, there's still a little more of that rope left."

As the market has done before, they'll agree. That rope they've been begging for is too tempting and they willingly submit to the full intended regulatory backlash.

And they subsequently hang themselves with their own rope.

Posted by AJ | October 3, 2008 2:55 PM

Oh, and like vegetarianism, most of the Socialists I knew growing up eventually gave in to bloody goodness.

Posted by elswinger | October 3, 2008 2:56 PM

Since the socialist dream imploded in the 90's dragging down any chance of communism actually happening and capitalism shot itself in the head after a decade long bender, what's left? Fascism? Amazingly, no one has scapegoated the Jews this time, so maybe we can avoid a rerun of National Socialism.

Posted by Westside forever | October 3, 2008 3:17 PM

Have you ever BEEN to a communist country?

I have, and I kissed the ground when I got back to the US.

Posted by gk | October 3, 2008 3:20 PM

@14 - The rumors of the Death of Capitalism have been greatly exaggerated.......

Posted by merry | October 3, 2008 3:41 PM

I vote we return to the barter system. It's the only economy that makes sense any more. Plus, chickens!

Posted by Greg | October 3, 2008 4:18 PM

Hooray for socialism, I say.

I think the reason the revolution is always around the corner and never arrives is that ever time markets fail spectacularly, we fool ourselves into thinking that the problem must be found anywhere except with markets themselves.

And they say the Reds are a delusional cult. How many times must markets fall flat on their faces before it sinks in? That's how far away the revolution is.

Posted by elenchos | October 3, 2008 6:12 PM


What about Argentina in December 2001? Are you saying that can't happen here?

Posted by Jeff Stevens | October 3, 2008 6:14 PM

Charles: It surprises me that as a self-described Marxist, you can say that people on the left "wait" for revolution, or even for revolutionary conditions. There are very very few teleological Marxists left, and not even those believe that revolution comes without workers organizing themselves in class struggle.

Posted by Trevor | October 3, 2008 7:21 PM

It's a sad sad day when the Socialist Republicans and the Socialist Workers can't get along.

Posted by Will in Seattle | October 3, 2008 7:45 PM

What we need is a revolution of the mind. We need to stop extremism and start cognisant reasoning. An evolutionary step forward.

Posted by Vince | October 4, 2008 7:30 AM

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