18 September 2010

A chilling thought

Has anyone noticed that, these days, the fundamentalist Protestant churches market themselves as self-help, positive-thinking seminars? The local scary Elim crowd have big billboards by the side of the motorway saying "LIVE LIFE", complete with a white middle-class looking woman looking ecstatically fulfilled on a beach. You know, this kind of unnerves me because I always though that their message was "REPENT". But you tell people what they want to hear.

I was reminded of this, browsing in the Self-Help section of my favourite secondhand book store and seeing how many of the titles ("Be yourself! Allow yourself to succeed!" etc) were surplus from the library of some fundamentalist Protestant church or other. I knew already about the "prosperity gospel", but it kind of woke me up a bit to realise that these people are marketing The Lord And Saviour Jesus Christ as something that can motivate you to success in love and business. The Church of the SubGenius without the sense of humour. Or Scientology with all the really loopy personality cult stuff shaved off.

But of course, it will work. You go in there, you raise the Holy Spirit through pentecostalist measures, and of course that energy will be yours to use for whatever you think is important at the time. I must admit being unnerved that the sheikh of my local Sufi congregation also enthusiastically espouses "Think And Grow Rich" mantras. But if the technology is given to the middle classes, they will use it for middle-class purposes, no matter the flavour of the wrapping of the tasty treat of "raising the Spirit". All that energy goes into increasing one's acquiesence to the dogmas of the market economy. We need to do the opposite.

16 September 2010

I don't approve of charity.

Let me rephrase that. I 100% totally approve of donating your time, energy and labour. But donating money? The thing about money is that it's "made round to go round", and that it's totally fungible - which is the basis of the market economy - so whoever gets their hands on it can do whatever they like with it. The problem with giving money to an established charity is, to become an established anything in the World-As-Is, an organisation must do some kind of deal with The Prince Of This World (schmoozing big corporates and governments, etc). No matter its mission statements and "good works" on the ground, the larger the organisation, the more embedded it is in the very thing that the act of charity is supposed to be dissolving.

Of course, I'm not discounting the "metaphysical principle" that freely donating something which does have value to the individual is an act of selflessness which is good in itself - but as a consequentialist good, I would really recommend you get into volunteer labour. (And if you have more money than time and energy? Quit your job, schmuck.)

15 September 2010

Funny, had a feeling he was on his way

There are two struggles—inner-world struggle and outer-world struggle, but never can these two make contact, to make data for the third world. Not even God gives this possibility for contact between your inner- and outer-world struggles; not even your heredity. Only one thing—you must make intentional contact between outer-world struggle and inner-world struggle; only then can you make data for the Third World of Man, sometimes called World of the Soul.

Thank you, G (emphasis added). That serves as a mission statement for this blog better than anything I've written.

14 September 2010

I think Michael Lebowitz is a pretty cool guy.

eh upsets right-wing factions in the PSUV and doesn't afraid of anything:

The revolutionary intellectual must be subject to discipline by the revolutionary party, a party dedicated to building socialism for the 21st century. The revolutionary intellectual must take guidance from that revolutionary party.

However, before my statement generates a hailstorm of shoes thrown at me, let me make one thing quite clear. We need to distinguish clearly between the revolutionary party and the party of the moment. [...] the distinction that I am making is between the revolutionary party, the party of the socialist future, and the party of the moment. It is the former to which revolutionary intellectuals must be disciplined.

I concur, heartily. Note also, my libertarian or anarcho colleagues, that Prof. Lebowitz's vision of socialism is horizontal and "protagonistic", rather than a 20th century centralised Leviathan model. He doesn't say so, but I think it's implicit that that's what the "party of the socialist future" must look like as well.

I was privileged to meet Prof. Lebowitz at a conference last year. I think I had a brief disagreement with him on whether a healthy socialist country could be a one-party state (me: "no", him: "maybe"), but he's definitely one of the good guys. And I definitely agree with him that Venezuela is crucially important right now. (So, probably, is Nepal.)

Note that the form of organisation of a political party, which must be based on science and the observable fact, must be rigorously democratic; whereas a spiritual order must be top-down in that the students are learning from the example of the Master, rather than by experiment. In this, I think I resile from early CM statements that one organisation could be both things at once.

13 September 2010

And this is why we need to learn psychology.

In the absence of strong political movements on the left, the response [to the current crisis] in the United States in particular and in other advanced capitalist countries is likely to be one best analyzed by psychologists.

(source) The only thing I would add to this is it had better be psychologists like the young Wilhelm Reich.

10 September 2010

The macro/micro problem

This blog has been in semi-retirement for a while for the simple reason that I've been in semi-retirement... from politics. When practice dries up, so should the theory, if you're any kind of a materialist. The idea is that sometime in the New Year I will reassess whether I want to get back to the front line of the class struggle and the social justice movements, or whether I want to, for example, go join a Zen nunnery for a few years.

But seriously, if there's any aphorism that I think sums up the Chaos-Marxist approach, it's from the novel Crime Story by Maurice Gee - There's not two places with a bridge between, there's only one place.. And I'm pretty sure he meant by it exactly what I mean by this whole blog, this whole way of looking at the world. In bourgeois economics, the "macro/micro" problem refers to the fact that in the neo-classical model, and the neo-classical/Keynesian synthesis which is a slightly more sophisticated version of it, the microeconomic model (of how people behave) totally contradicts the macroeconomic model (how economies and global flows behave), even though they both work in their own particular "zones".

You can argue - like you can for Marx's transformation problem - about whether this is a contradiction in the model or a contradiction in reality. (Since general relativity contradicts quantum mechanics, perhaps we should be used to "contradictions in reality" by now.) But radical politics has exactly the same macro-micro problem. Marxian economics and cultural theory, I feel, explains why the world is as it is very, very well. But it doesn't, and I don't think it can, behave why individual people behave as they do, or indeed give the individual guidance on how to live their life in the way the world is now. Various psychoanalytic and spiritual theories can do that - but because the question of "meaning" is a non-material one, they tend to contradict materialism. John Molyneux has come out and said that if you're a consistent Marxist, you have to be an atheist, period. Which only begs the question of whether, by throwing the bathwater out of God as a personal entity, you've also lost the baby of God as a component part of the human psyche essential to self-actualisation and good health. (Call it the Holy Guardian Angel, Circuit VII, the Jungian Self, whatever.)

It's always been my contention that this is the reason for the pathology of small radical groups - because the politics become a nauseating "communal dogma" when they're applied to the everyday lives of the political activists outside of political/industrial activism. Why, you might ask, should they be expected to? Because there's a "common sense" that being a Marxist / anarchist / deep green etc. is a lifestyle choice as well as a political strategy. We are all expected, really, to be sexually permissive atheists, who find meaning for their lives in "the struggle". This has not worked for me. And if it doesn't work for me, it won't work for other people, and perhaps this kind of Year Zero attitude to the warm and squishy parts of human existence is what has lead to the ghettoisation of social activism. If you insist that politics must become the driving force, the objet petit a of a political activist's life, then politics is exclusive to those who have that kind of monkish devotion.

The traditional way in which Marxists who're aware of this problem have tried to fill the gap is with Freudian psychology (Reich, Fromme, Marcuse etc.) The best that can be said for Chaos-Marxism is that I've tried something different.