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The failed experiment

If we don’t talk about ‘class’ the species will go extinct.

Marx’s original concept of class is that:

There is only the working class and the capitalist class.

The concept of a ‘middle class’ is a necessary fiction that is fostered by the capitalist class (who generally realise that there are only two classes – being ‘us’ and ‘them’).

If you have to work to support yourself then you are in the working class.

If you do not need to work then you are a capitalist.

The distinction pivots on the perception of the individual relating to their own circumstances, not on the degree of capital that an individual might possess.

Marx talks of a class ‘in itself’ as the objective reality of the relations of production. A class ‘in itself’ is defined by whether or not an individual must sell their labour to survive, regardless of whether or not the individual might believe they are actually in ‘the working class’ or the ‘middle or upper class’.

So the definition of a class ‘in itself’ is an objective appreciation relating to the relationship of the individual to the means of production. If an individual need not work at all then they are in the capitalist class ‘in itself’. In modern parlance we would say that they are ‘objectively’ (i.e., by appreciating the facts that are evident) in a situation where they need not work because they can comfortably and trans-nationally live off accumulated capital without diminishing the sum of the available capital. The only class that is currently ‘in itself’ and ‘for itself’ are the rich elite. (Consider that at the moment more than half the fungible wealth in the USA is under the direct control of less than ten people. Moreover, the richest .001% of the worlds population control more than 80% of the capital resources on the globe).

If it is apparent, objectively, that you cannot simply put up your feet and make a living by using your capital to generate more capital (sufficient to not only surviving but also generating a further surplus), then you are a member of the working class ‘in itself’. Regardless of what you might say yourself.

The terminology of a class ‘for itself’ is, therefore, a reference to the subjective appreciation entertained by an individual relating to their own economic and social status. In this manner, the ‘middle-class’ does exist as a class ‘for itself’ (i.e., as a social definition) but not as a class ‘in itself’.

The easiest way to work out if you are in the working class ‘in itself’ is to think about whether or not you would be ‘wiped out’ in a substantial downturn in the marketplace (think about something like a housing market and stock market crash). Capitalists retain their capital during downturns and make surpluses during upturns. This is because their wealth (stolen labour) is sequestered in fungible forms (land, plant, political hegemony) across a number of jurisdictions. Their primary calling is to accumulate personal wealth so their allegiance is to the retention of wealth (objects) not other people (subjects).

Our PM (for example) is in the capitalist class because he has a gazillion dollars squirreled away in overseas accounts. All of the capitalist class are similarly ‘economically’ rational and so ‘economically motivated’ (above all else). If you gave our PM (or any other of his class) the option of living as a worker in Australia without property, or elsewhere with their current wealth, then …

Marx theorized that revolution occurs when the degree of alienation of the working class is such that it remains impossible for the bulk of the workers to maintain their fictional self-conception as being members of a class ‘for itself’ and realise that they are simply wage takers (and part of the working class ‘in itself’). In other words, when they realise that their primary class allegiance should be to other subjects; not to a pile of objects.

In the original thesis proposed by Karl (in the unpublished German Ideology and the Grundrisse) he proposed that the ‘alienation of the working class’ will dissipate when the wage takers of society become wage setters. So, breeding a revolution has nothing to do with brainwashing people but rather the opposite. Marx proposes that social revolution begins with individual enlightenment. When the majority of the citizenry decide to objectively and communally re-negotiate what is valuable and what is ‘freedom’ – then we will have achieved class liberation.

The emancipation of society is all about the education of the individual and development of a just and equitable society that is in balance with the environmental, agrarian and industrial base’s of production.

Unless we do change our systems of distribution and common assessments of ‘value’ then we are stuffed. The human experiment will be snuffed out for want of facility and ability. Like 99.999% of all the species that have gone before us, we will pass away. Perhaps so shall consciousness. That self-aware spark of magic we think of as ‘us’ might very well fade away even before we get any real chance to become truly self-aware. I find it difficult to smile at the irony of this prospect.

It is relatively certain we will go extinct if we do not work out a system by which we can say ‘no’ to both the imperatives of capital and those of our own literature. Who will say that the current system is either rational or just? Yet so many amongst us yearn to retain our ever-failing traditions? This is simply a longing for annihilation as a species.

If you say we can never contain the imperatives and the violence of capital, upon the citizenry and the environment, then you are saying that mankind cannot survive.

Marx proposed that the central urgencies which make sense of our current system is the logic of the .0001% of the population who own virtually everything on earth. He proposed that as soon as the ‘working class in itself’ suddenly realise that there is actually enough ‘stuff’ for everyone on the planet, revolution will occur.

We either contain the ravages of ‘the rationale of capitalism’ or we fail.

We must make it impossible for individuals to gain control of large aggregations of capital and then pass this on to their offspring. This is because the rationale of capital is to make more capital irrespective of the individual, environmental and social cost.

As a species we only get one shot. Just like the 99.999% of species that went before us. But it looks like a tiny group of rich arseholes are going to entirely stuff it up for the rest. Apparently the need to be able to own sixteen cars and a house in five countries is more important than the need for fresh water and food for the children and the future of our species upon the globe.

Right at the moment I am not confident. People keep on telling me that I am the one who is a ‘radical’.

But (I keep stuttering) …
– the Great Barrier reef is crumbling and going white
– people are working ever longer hours to pay ever inflated prices for virtually everything
-we are wedded to environmentally catastrophic products that we throw away and repurchase weekly
-across the world we spend five hundred times as much on armaments as we do on feeding the poor
-our oceans are dying
-our planet is warming.

Yet the mainstream press and most of our citizenry are continuing to work hard to prop up this failing system whilst inanely prating inanities about how great the modern capitalist world is and how wonderful all this ‘economic activity’ is for ‘jobs and growth’.

What I find ‘radical’ is the sort of hypocrisy that is mainstream in our society. That we should all be happy to trade our current spurt of economic sunshine (being entertained by a tiny minority of the worlds population) for the whole of the worlds environment and the future of our species. I think that is ‘radical’.

Yet I am labelled a radical for ever trying to progress the needs of the species? By proposing that inanimate objects are not valuable. But rather that I am valuable and you are valuable. And that my time and your time is valuable. All the rest is bullshit.

I think it is radical that we are living in and fostering the perpetuation of a society where you and I – and everything we care about – can be weighed against a small pile of coinage and legal documents. And sick.

If mankind does not abandon many of its ‘cherished traditions’ then the experiment will fail.

James Moylan
Midday December 29th
(any given year on the calendar)

Fixing Our Society

Does anyone remember that we once proudly described ourselves as an egalitarian nation? Just after World War II, the Australian government wanted everyone in the world community to understand that Australia was a socialist democracy. Evatt at the UN, then later Gough here at home, were simple expressions of the majority opinion.

We were hugely proud of the fact that we were a country, where the population were the ones in control. We wanted a level playing field with ample public services for all. What happened?

We hear all the time that our democracy is broken. In virtually every debate relating to the big picture issues facing our society, just about the only thing that everyone seems to agree on is that our democracy is broken.

The pattern is obvious. The inequalities and disaffections entertained by a particular part of the citizenry are identified, listed, and then widely and loudly discussed. (Think about women, Aborigines, the poor, the unemployed, the disabled, homelessness, rural services, health services, the environment, etc etc etc).

Then, having identified a range of obvious and dire problems, we implement some half-arsed idea and publicly forget about it all until the next time we again jointly and collectively fail to fix the very same problem.

Pay gap widening. Rich getting richer. Homelessness growing. Great Barrier Reef going white and crumbling. Cannabis illegal, yet super strong legal heroin widely available. Cities outgrowing their infrastructures. Housing, twenty-years plus, unaffordable. Huge concentrations of corporate power in every segment of society. Electricity ever more expensive. Workers ever falling behind bosses raking it in and vacationing in Europe.

Let’s for a moment step back from these ‘intractable’ social problems and ask ‘why?’ Why can’t we seem to address any of these problems? After all, it is not that we have not already had our best minds consider these matters and give their opinions. Sometimes endlessly. Anyone can go to the internet, right now, and track down a thousand articles and discussions relating to any of these topics, with many containing a range of rational responses, sometimes from the best minds of our generation, discussing how we might begin to tackle all of these problems.

Of course, I am not saying that any of these long-standing difficulties and faults in society can be easily fixed. But why no progress at all? Especially since it is relatively easy to also gauge the opinion of the Australian population regarding any and all of these matters. We want these matters addressed: yet nothing continues to happen.

Note that not all social problems are a difficulty. In situations where the interests of the corporate sector and the interests of the majority are aligned then we do seem to get instant government response which is sometimes incredibly effective. Think about littering, smoking, the road toll, child sexual assault, gay rights, sewage and stormwater control, etc. Aussies like a cohesive and safe urban environment and, in the main, so does the corporate world.

I despair for our current social discourse. It has become stupid, mean, and corporate. It simply does not represent the Australia that I know.

Why did our governments sell off all of our electricity and water services? Why did they sell off the Commonwealth Bank? Why did they dismantle the CES to replace it with a huge corporate sector that costs four times as much? Why do we give away all of our mineral wealth to a group of rich men? Why does none of our corporate sector pay any tax? Why are the rich getting so much richer? Why aren’t the workers getting more?

After twenty-five years of our entire mainstream media being owned and run by corporate apologists, these questions are simply not being addressed. The people who ask these sorts of questions are now sneered at and their questions absent. What did we expect?

We allowed all of our social services and structures (in media, banking, retail, health, electricity, etc) to be privatised and sold off piecemeal to the highest bidders (and every one of them with a friend in Parliament). All generally against the wishes of the majority of the population. Now we sit around griping about the rising cost of everything like a bunch of whimpish three-year-olds. We just gripe. It’s pathetic. It’s now too late. The baby-boomers have utterly stuffed up ‘our’ democracy.

Ask any mainstream politician in our land and they will tell you that the most important thing in their universe is to make sure that Australia has a ‘healthy economy’.  This is simply because, for the last quarter of a century, every media outlet in our country has been unabashedly expanding their ‘business’ section to cover the entire social realm.

Until now, in our modern age, every political decision has to be ‘economically feasible’ rather than merely being socially equitable. Moreover, to point out this gross capture of democracy is no longer even considered rude. It is celebrated.

I have to accept that we no longer live in a socialist democracy. Our ‘society’ has become an ‘economy’. In other words; the bastards have won. Both major parties take their marching orders directly from the big end of town. Everyone now talks about our country as if it is a big shopping centre. WTF?

Once upon a time, there was at least the need for a modicum of stage-craft. The politicians had to at least pretend that they were acting in the interests of the majority of the people in society. But no longer. Now we have a merchant banker in charge of our land and the leader of the free world is a bigoted property developer from New York.

I think I have cause for at least mild to medium levels of dark despair and foreboding. If you are poor then, apparently, you have the option of starving to death or working hard, all your life, to just make ends meet, so as to make someone else rich. It’s up to you. After all, we are all equally free to sleep under the bridges in our land (at least out in the countryside where the municipal authorities won’t hose you down).

Anyway, why would you complain? Everyone tells us all, all the time, that we all should simply do what is in our bosses best interests because ‘capitalism won’. ‘Socialism’ was defeated. Greed is now not only good; but right. Just ask our PM, the leader of the opposition, all of the media outlets in the land, and just about every kid (under 25) who are wondering why the hell they can’t seem to make ends meet while all of their parents were able to afford to buy such beautiful homes.

None of our ‘intractable’ social problems can even be approached, let alone addressed because we sold our souls to the idea that everyone could be rich. We have turned our society into an economy and all of our politicians now work for the highest bidder. Now the flower-children are all homeowners, small business people and have generally bought the capitalist dream utterly. They all seem to think that they are sitting on a house that is worth a million dollars. A whole generation has drifted from flower child to shallow corporate schmuck in just twenty-five years. It’s pathetic.

This is why we have ‘intractable’ social problems. In simple terms, in an economy, the one with the biggest wallet always wins. And the biggest wallets in our society are very happy with the way that things are, right at this moment. After all, these intractable ‘problems’ are making them ever richer. The bigger the problem; the better the banker’s holiday. Stuff the reef.

It will now be up to the next generations to fight for the soul of Australia. There is no doubt that our descendants will look back on us and disown us completely. We have lost the plot. The baby-boomers are fools. When the 1% walk away from the smoking carcass of the Australian economy after their twenty-five years of disastrous mismanagement, they will be happy to retire to nearby their money in an offshore haven.

Then we, the baby-boomers, will have nobody but ourselves to blame. Yes, our democracy is broken. We, the smug ownership class, have allowed our system to become corrupt. We surrendered our entire free press and most of our infrastructure to large commercial conglomerates.

Ours is no longer a country run by the populace but rather the corporate sector. We have allowed the concept of our democracy to be perverted. Our children and their descendants will look back on our generation with contempt. We identified all of the problems, and carefully, one by one, totally failed to fix any of the big ones.

We allowed our society and political system to be captured by big money. For all of our constant barrage of self-congratulation, the baby-boomer generation has failed. And now it is simply too late. When our housing bubble bursts and Australia settles into becoming a third-world backwater for a quarter of a century, then the baton will not so much pass-on as be wrenched from our hands.

We have allowed our industrial base to virtually disappear. We allowed multinational corporations to export all the profits of the mining boom. We allowed our public services to be sold off, bit by bit, until we have to pay a toll even to travel from one end of a city to another. We have pissed the opportunity to make a better society, up against the wall. I am ashamed to have been born amidst such a cretinous bunch of imbeciles.

But then the baby-boomer generation have simply carried on the great tradition of mankind. In the last two hundred years, we have consumed voraciously everything we might and done our best to irretrievably damage the ecosystem on every continent, even whilst simultaneously causing a mass-extinction and a climate change event.

Hopefully, our children might do better with the little we leave behind. We cannot hope they will consider us kindly. Perhaps the best that we can hope for is that there might actually be someone still around in another thousand years. It’s a low bar but I think we might just clear it.

Happy Holidays.

I thought we worked all this out during the Enlightenment?

When President Trump announced that he would acknowledge Jerusalem as the capital of Israel he did it to appease the Christians in America. Or, more precisely, the big money Evangelical donors. This is not a good development. The real problem with the current meddling in the affairs of the middle-east is not so much that the President has no idea what he is doing. The real problem is that this President is a fantasist.

Because the President lives in a world in which everyone is being deliberatively and carefully deceitful, he cannot seem to discern the difference between the personally rapacious and the dangerously lunatic. Don’t get me wrong. I want to state at the outset that people like Steve Bannon are dangerous. But Bannon is a banker and so is easily understood. It is simply class-warfare. To work Bannon out all you need is a calculator, a stock price index and to be able to feel the breeze of the current social mood on your cheek. In many ways Bannon and the traditional Republican Establishment are one and the same. They entertain much the same basic ambitions: Do what you have to do to amass a lot of money, then retire.

But the current Prez is so dim-witted that he cannot seem to understand that while most of the people he deals with, day-to-day, are just saying whatever they need to say – some are not lying. Some are actually batshit crazy.

So we return to the topic of the Evangelical Christians and all the other ‘people of the book’. The current coalition of the deluded that the US President is unknowingly appeasing are just that percentage of the population that all sane and thinking apes have been doing their best to disinvest of power since Adam was knee-high to a Neanderthal. We almost got there for a while prior the Roman Empire but the dark ages intervened and it was religion everywhere for centuries. Then we had a real crack at it during the Enlightenment. But it was only after we all had electric light and flushing loos that rationality ever really took hold. So, ever since the Industrial revolution, we have all been whittling away at the power of the ‘people of the book’. I actually thought we had finally won. Silly me.

I don’t mean to say that we don’t all like the stories. They are terrific stories. The garden of Eden. The snake. Noah and the big boat. The red-sea opening up. Moses and Commandments. Jesus whizzing about on the water. Mohammad and his flying horse. But in the modern world I thought that it was not really popular to actually believe the stories. Or admit that you believe them. At least not in public where sane people might overhear.

After all, the ‘people of the book’ (either Jewish, Islamic or Christian) are simply not working with the same rule book as the rest of us. They are not amenable to reason. The Evangelical Christians that Trump is pandering to are pretty much unknown to Trump. He probably dismisses all their ‘end-of-the-world’ malarkey as just another schtick. But some of us understand that they are deadly serious. No really! People like Sheldon Adelson should not be approached unless they are wearing a straight-jacket and muzzle. They are not just batshit loop-the-loop crazy; they want to blow up the world so they can live forever in another dimension where everything is ‘nice’ (in other words where scum like you and me are burning in hellfire eternal somewhere close at hand where the saved ones can watch on and giggle). So not just batshit crazy but dangerously batshit crazy.

For those unfamiliar with the name, Sheldon is an anti-Union, anti-Cannabis, anti-Women’s rights, anti-Modern world, evangelically inclined Casino magnate, who donated twenty-five million dollars to Trump. Sheldon was brought up, like the rest of his generation of literalist bible believers, reading the ‘Left Behind’ series of books, which are simply racy pieces of Christian ‘end-time’ apocalyptic pornography in which the Christians all win and the rest of us get to burn in hellfire eternal. Most of the rest of us understand that people like Sheldon cannot be allowed into the game. OK, being corrupt is horrible but tolerable. It is not an existential problem. Even the corrupt need a world in which to spend their ill-gotten gains. However, the batshit crazies like Sheldon are on the side of a worldwide apocalypse. They are on the side-lines cheering and doing everything they can to bring on a worldwide Armageddon as soon as possible. (Nothing could be finer than to burn in Carolina?)

It is impossible to stress this enough for a relatively rational Aussie audience: the American Evangelical Christians really do believe that bringing about the end of the world is a good idea. They talk about ‘us’ and ‘them’. They really do think that science is the product of the devil, that the world is six thousand years old, that angels exist, and they alone will live forever while everyone else is damned (and damnable). They are hoping for Armageddon. They have been betting on it and waiting for it all their lives. Some of them even think that they have to force the prophecy to come true. They believe that bringing about the end of the world is doing God’s work. Loopy does not quite cover it.

Yet notice how all of the Press coverage does not even dare to talk about the sheer lunacy that is propelling this whole situation. Why do the Christians care? According to the Evangelicals, all of their metaphysical end-of-the-world fun can’t get underway until Jerusalem is reunited under the one ruler who can then lead all of the Jewish Nation into the fires of hell to cook forever in one long parade. Wow!

I am not so worried that Trump will cause America to become debased. That is a bit like worrying about water becoming wetter. But I am worried that he might accidentally blow us all up.

[sigh]

Say after me; people are real. Books are fantasy. We don’t stone children to death; we don’t keep slaves; women are equal to men; sex between consenting adults cannot be ‘perverted’; we don’t live forever; people don’t die and then get better; and, blowing up the world is just not a good idea.

F’r Chrissakes. I thought we worked all this out during the Enlightenment? Sad.

Our leaders are loyal to the citizenry? Don’t make me laugh!

The biggest kerfuffle in Aussie politics is all about the technicalities regarding ‘dual citizenship’. Our founding fathers were well aware that if an individual was going to sit in our Parliament, then it was important to know that they do not have divided loyalties. A principle which has been largely lost in the political point-scoring and bickering about paperwork. Do any of our politicians even notice the irony in this situation? What has become of us?

We, the people, need to begin questioning the obviously divided loyalties of our leaders. No one else will. The mainstream media are only interested in pissing in the pockets of their owners and advertisers. We all know the social media to be as corrupt and as stupid as the lowest common commercial denominator. Therefore, it is largely down to us. (Which, in effect, means we’re f*****d.)

What do we want from our political leaders? What is the one thing that is foremost in every average citizen’s desires regarding an elected representative? It is simple. We want a politician to put our problems and circumstances first; not that of Party, Religion, Sect, Ideology or Idol. Not their mates, their donors, their bank account, the ‘economy’, their favourite TV star, dog, or anything. How far from this simple ambition has our political system drifted?

Currently, it is almost impossible to even get elected to a parliament in Australia if you do not pledge your abiding loyalty to a political party. If you stand as an Independent you will not get any media coverage, or you will be pilloried in all the mainstream media. If your only loyalty is to the citizenry, then it is almost impossible to get elected. If you do get elected, (accidentally), you will have no power. You will not be ‘in the club’.

Yet, this is just the first of the loyalties that our politicians put well ahead of any thought for their constituents. If a constituent of Mr Turnbull is having trouble with a bank loan and walks into his office to discuss it, whose interest do you think will be at the forefront of our PMs mind? First, he will toe the party line. This will provide him with a script for his discussion. Then he will argue the case for all of his donors. But what about his private opinions and loyalties?

Our PM is an ex-merchant banker with a squillion dollars stashed away in offshore bank accounts. I would propose that this is probably Mr Turnbull’s No. 1 priority in all matters; both personal and private. The PM is an easy target of course. But if it came down to a choice between forsaking their money or fleeing Australia, how many of the people in our parliament do you think would choose their money?

I do hope you are not as cynical as me. The assessment I make is not flattering. The hypocrisy is as thick in the air in Canberra as it has ever been. The fight is as furious as ever. Yet it continues to be a fight about whose big money backers get to rule the roost. It has nothing to do with you or me. We only get to be observers (and to be ruled). And don’t doubt that most of our politicians fully comprehend both their own deceit and our continuing disdain for them. But they hardly care. They don’t have to. After all, we’re not their boss.

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