Is the issue the American people or capitalism?

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John Pilger, ‘The Issue is Not Trump, It is Us’ counterpunch, 17.01.17

On the day President Trump is inaugurated, thousands of writers in the United States will express their indignation.  “In order for us to heal and move forward …,” say Writers Resist, “we wish to bypass direct political discourse, in favour of an inspired focus on the future, and how we, as writers, can be a unifying force for the protection of democracy.”

And:  “We urge local organizers and speakers to avoid using the names of politicians or adopting ‘anti’ language as the focus for their Writers Resist event. It’s important to ensure that nonprofit organizations, which are prohibited from political campaigning, will feel confident participating in and sponsoring these events.”

Thus, real protest is to be avoided, for it is not tax exempt.

Compare such drivel with the declarations of the Congress of American Writers, held at Carnegie Hall, New York, in 1935, and again two years later. They were electric events, with writers discussing how they could confront ominous events in Abyssinia, China and Spain. Telegrams from Thomas Mann, C Day Lewis, Upton Sinclair and Albert Einstein were read out, reflecting the fear that great power was now rampant and that it had become impossible to discuss art and literature without politics or, indeed, direct political action.

“A writer,” the journalist Martha Gellhorn told the second congress, “must be a man of action now . . . A man who has given a year of his life to steel strikes, or to the unemployed, or to the problems of racial prejudice, has not lost or wasted time. He is a man who has known where he belonged. If you should survive such action, what you have to say about it afterwards is the truth, is necessary and real, and it will last.”

Her words echo across the unction and violence of the Obama era and the silence of those who colluded with his deceptions.

That the menace of rapacious power — rampant long before the rise of Trump —  has been accepted by writers, many of them privileged and celebrated, and by those who guard the gates of literary criticism, and culture, including popular culture, is uncontroversial. Not for them the impossibility of writing and promoting literature bereft of politics. Not for them the responsibility to speak out, regardless of who occupies the White House.

Today, false symbolism is all. “Identity” is all. In 2016, Hillary Clinton stigmatised millions of voters as “a basket of deplorables, racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamaphobic — you name it”. Her abuse was handed out at an LGBT rally as part of her cynical campaign to win over minorities by abusing a white mostly working-class majority. Divide and rule, this is called; or identity politics in which race and gender conceal class, and allow the waging of class war.  Trump understood this.

“When the truth is replaced by silence,” said the Soviet dissident poet Yevtushenko, “the silence is a lie.”

This is not an American phenomenon. A few years ago, Terry Eagleton, then professor of English literature at Manchester University, reckoned that “for the first time in two centuries, there is no eminent British poet, playwright or novelist prepared to question the foundations of the western way of life”.

No Shelley speaks for the poor, no Blake for utopian dreams, no Byron damns the corruption of the ruling class, no Thomas Carlyle and John Ruskin reveal the moral disaster of capitalism. William Morris, Oscar Wilde, HG Wells, George Bernard Shaw have no equivalents today. Harold Pinter was the last to raise his voice. Among today’s insistent voices of consumer-feminism, none echoes Virginia Woolf, who described “the arts of dominating other people… of ruling, of killing, of acquiring land and capital”.

There is something both venal and profoundly stupid about famous writers as they venture outside their cosseted world and embrace an “issue”. Across the Review section of the Guardian on 10 December was a dreamy picture of Barack Obama looking up to the heavens and the words, “Amazing Grace” and “Farewell the Chief”.

The sycophancy ran like a polluted babbling brook through page after page. “He was a vulnerable figure in many ways …. But the grace. The all-encompassing grace: in manner and form, in argument and intellect, with humour and cool ….[He] is a blazing tribute to what has been, and what can be again … He seems ready to keep fighting, and remains a formidable champion to have on our side … … The grace … the almost surreal levels of grace …”

I have conflated these quotes. There are others even more hagiographic and bereft of mitigation. The Guardian’s chief apologist for Obama, Gary Younge, has always been careful to mitigate, to say that his hero “could have done more”: oh, but there were the “calm, measured and consensual solutions …”

None of them, however, could surpass the American writer, Ta-Nehisi Coates, the recipient of a “genius” grant worth $625,000 from a liberal foundation. In an interminable essay for The Atlantic entitled, “My President Was Black”, Coates brought new meaning to prostration. The final “chapter”, entitled “When You Left, You Took All of Me With You”, a line from a Marvin Gaye song, describes seeing the Obamas “rising out of the limo, rising up from fear, smiling, waving, defying despair, defying history, defying gravity”.  The Ascension, no less.

One of the persistent strands in American political life is a cultish extremism that approaches fascism. This was given expression and  reinforced during the two terms of Barack Obama. “I believe in American exceptionalism with every fibre of my being,” said Obama, who expanded America’s favourite military pastime, bombing, and death squads (“special operations”) as no other president has done since the Cold War.

According to a Council on Foreign Relations survey, in 2016 alone Obama dropped 26,171 bombs. That is 72 bombs every day.  He bombed the poorest people on earth, in Afghanistan, Libya, Yemen, Somalia, Syria, Iraq, Pakistan.

Every Tuesday — reported the New York Times — he personally selected those who would be murdered by mostly hellfire missiles fired from drones. Weddings, funerals, shepherds were attacked, along with those attempting to collect the body parts festooning the “terrorist target”. A leading Republican senator, Lindsey Graham, estimated, approvingly, that Obama’s drones killed 4,700 people. “Sometimes you hit innocent people and I hate that,” he said, but we’ve taken out some very senior members of Al Qaeda.”

Like the fascism of the 1930s, big lies are delivered with the precision of a metronome: thanks to an omnipresent media whose description now fits that of the Nuremberg prosecutor: “Before each major aggression, with some few exceptions based on expediency, they initiated a press campaign calculated to weaken their victims and to prepare the German people psychologically … In the propaganda system … it was the daily press and the radio that were the most important weapons.

Take the catastrophe in Libya. In 2011, Obama said Libyan president Muammar Gaddafi was planning “genocide” against his own people. “We knew… that if we waited one more day, Benghazi, a city the size of Charlotte, could suffer a massacre that would have reverberated across the region and stained the conscience of the world.”

This was the known lie of Islamist militias facing defeat by Libyan government forces. It became the media story; and Nato – led by Obama and Hillary Clinton – launched 9,700 “strike sorties” against Libya, of which more than a third were aimed at civilian targets. Uranium warheads were used; the cities of Misurata and Sirte were carpet-bombed. The Red Cross identified mass graves, and Unicef reported that “most [of the children killed] were under the age of ten”.

Under Obama, the US has extended secret “special forces” operations to 138 countries, or 70 per cent of the world’s population. The first African-American president launched what amounted to a full-scale invasion of Africa. Reminiscent of the Scramble for Africa in the late 19th century, the US African Command (Africom) has built a network of supplicants among collaborative African regimes eager for American bribes and armaments.  Africom’s “soldier to soldier” doctrine embeds US officers at every level of command from general to warrant officer. Only pith helmets are missing.

It is as if Africa’s proud history of liberation, from Patrice Lumumba to Nelson Mandela, is consigned to oblivion by a new master’s black colonial elite whose “historic mission”, warned Frantz Fanon half a century ago, is the promotion of “a capitalism rampant though camouflaged”.

It was Obama who, in 2011, announced what became known as the “pivot to Asia”, in which almost two-thirds of US naval forces would be transferred to the Asia-Pacific to “confront China”, in the words of his Defence Secretary. There was no threat from China; the entire enterprise was unnecessary. It was an extreme provocation to keep the Pentagon and its demented brass happy.

In 2014, the Obama’s administration oversaw and paid for a fascist-led coup in Ukraine against the democratically-elected government, threatening Russia in the western borderland through Hitler invaded the Soviet Union, with a loss of 27 million lives. It was Obama who placed missiles in Eastern Europe aimed at Russia, and it was the winner of the Nobel Peace Prize who increased spending on nuclear warheads to a level higher than that of any administration since the cold war — having promised, in an emotional speech in Prague, to “help rid the world of nuclear weapons”.

Obama, the constitutional lawyer, prosecuted more whistleblowers than any other president in history, even though the US constitution protects them. He declared Chelsea Manning guilty before the end of a trial that was a travesty. He has refused to pardon Manning who has suffered years of inhumane treatment which the UN says amounts to torture. He has pursued an entirely bogus case against Julian Assange. He promised to close the Guantanamo concentration camp and didn’t.

Following the public relations disaster of George W. Bush, Obama, the smooth operator from Chicago via Harvard, was enlisted to restore what he calls “leadership” throughout the world. The Nobel Prize committee’s decision was part of this: the kind of cloying reverse racism that beatified the man for no reason other than he was attractive to liberal sensibilities and, of course, American power, if not to the children he kills in impoverished, mostly Muslim countries.

This is the Call of Obama. It is not unlike a dog whistle: inaudible to most, irresistible to the besotted and boneheaded, especially “liberal brains pickled in the formaldehyde of identity politics,” as Luciana Bohne put it. “When Obama walks into a room,” gushed George Clooney, “you want to follow him somewhere, anywhere.”

William I. Robinson, professor at the University of California, and one of an uncontaminated group of American strategic thinkers who have retained their independence during the years of intellectual dog-whistling since 9/11, wrote this last week:

“President Barack Obama … may have done more than anyone to assure [Donald] Trump’s victory. While Trump’s election has triggered a rapid expansion of fascist currents in US civil society, a fascist outcome for the political system is far from inevitable …. But that fight back requires clarity as to how we got to such a dangerous precipice. The seeds of 21st century fascism were planted, fertilized and watered by the Obama administration and the politically bankrupt liberal elite.”

Robinson points out that “whether in its 20th or its emerging 21st century variants, fascism is, above all, a response to deep structural crises of capitalism, such as that of the 1930s and the one that began with the financial meltdown in 2008 …. There is a near-straight line here from Obama to Trump … The liberal elite’s refusal to challenge the rapaciousness of transnational capital and its brand of identity politics served to eclipse the language of the working and popular classes … pushing white workers into an ‘identity’ of white nationalism and helping the neo-fascists to organise them”..

The seedbed is Obama’s Weimar Republic, a landscape of endemic poverty, militarised police and barbaric prisons: the consequence of a “market” extremism which, under his presidency, prompted the transfer of $14 trillion in public money to criminal enterprises in Wall Street.

Perhaps his greatest “legacy” is the co-option and disorientation of any real opposition. Bernie Sanders’ specious “revolution” does not apply. Propaganda is his triumph.

The lies about Russia — in whose elections the US has openly intervened — have made the world’s most self-important journalists laughing stocks. In the country with constitutionally the freest press in the world, free journalism now exists only in its honourable exceptions.

The obsession with Trump is a cover for many of those calling themselves “left/liberal”, as if to claim political decency. They are not “left”, neither are they especially “liberal”.  Much of America’s aggression towards the rest of humanity has come from so-called liberal Democratic administrations — such as Obama’s. America’s political spectrum extends from the mythical centre to the lunar right. The “left” are homeless renegades Martha Gellhorn described as “a rare and wholly admirable fraternity”. She excluded those who confuse politics with a fixation on their navels.

While they “heal” and “move forward”, will the Writers Resist campaigners and other anti-Trumpists reflect upon this? More to the point: when will a genuine movement of opposition arise? Angry, eloquent, all-for-one-and-one-for all. Until real politics return to people’s lives, the enemy is not Trump, it is ourselves.

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Trump is the embodiment of capitalism in crisis

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Aaron Blake ‘Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway introduces the world to “alternative facts”’ The Sydney Morning Herald, 23.01.17

‘Trumpism’, though most obviously in the US, is emblematic of the crisis in all capitalist nations. With a shameless shedding of ethics, free-wheeling dishonesty, the projection of ‘us’ under siege by ‘them’ and a concomitant aggressive nationalism, it is clear evidence of capitalism going deeper into crisis and of an increasingly dangerous capitalist class.

Trump didn’t become President simply as a result of the hallowed US ‘democratic’ process. He has been ‘in the eye’ of the dominant class for decades and has been repeatedly asked in the media over those decades if he would run for President.

ALICE IN WONDERLAND, March Hare, Alice in Wonderland, Mad Hatter, 1951, ©Walt Disney Pictures/courte

As it states in a photomontage from 1932 by John Heartfield showing Hitler having money (and power) put into his hand by a much bigger, suited and faceless figure standing behind him (it could have been that of Henry Ford who funded him) as he gives the Nazi salute – ‘Millions stand behind me!’

John Heartfield, ‘The Meaning of the Hitler Salute: Little man asks for big gifts. Motto: Millions Stand Behind Me!’ Allgemeine Illustrierte Zeitung, 16.10.32

John Heartfield, ‘The Meaning of the Hitler Salute: Little man asks for big gifts. Motto: Millions Stand Behind Me!’ Allgemeine Illustrierte Zeitung, 16.10.32

Particularly, it is neither a matter of “the peoples’ will” nor even chance that the person who has the antipathetic, hypocritical views on China Trump does is now the President.

He has been chosen by the most powerful sections of the class that controls the US ‘democracy’ and protected by them through the long process of the election for President to eventually occupy that position and represent their interests above all.

German diplomats award Henry Ford, centre, their nation’s highest decoration for foreigners, the Grand Cross of the German Eagle, July 1938

German diplomats award Henry Ford, centre, their nation’s highest decoration for foreigners, the Grand Cross of the German Eagle, July 1938

In so doing, he is already beginning to put before the American people the question they will have to answer – barbarism or socialism?

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Trump, ‘freedom’ and the forces and relations of production

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As with astronomy the difficulty in the way of recognising that the earth moves consisted in having to rid oneself of the immediate sensation that the earth was stationary accompanied by a similar sense of the planets’ motion, so in history the obstacle in the way of recognising the subjection of the individual to the laws of space and time and causality lies in the difficulty of renouncing one’s personal impression of being independent of those laws. But as in astronomy the new view said: ‘True, we are not conscious of the movement of the earth but if we were to allow that it is stationary we should arrive at an absurdity, whereas if we admit the motion (which we do not feel) we arrive at laws,’ likewise in history the new theory says: ‘True, we are not conscious of our dependence but if we were to allow that we are free we arrive at an absurdity, whereas by admitting our dependence on the external world, on time and on causality we arrive at laws.’

In the first case it was necessary to surmount the sensation of an unreal immobility in space and to recognise a motion we did not feel. In the present case it is similarly necessary to renounce a freedom that does not exist and to recognise a dependence of which we are not personally conscious.

Leo Tolstoy, War and Peace

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It is striking that at a time of economic and therefore social crisis, the American people have voted to be their next president someone who is the personification of the patriarchal, misogynistic, racist, utterly abusive, dishonest and exploitative essence of capitalism.

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Only socialism can defeat Trumpism

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Nicole Aschoff and Bhaskar Sunkara, ’Only socialism can defeat Trumpism’ The Nation, 07.11.16

…the past year has shown that millions of ordinary people are ready for an alternative, one pointed to by the success of Sanders and the Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn in Britain. These leaders have tried to articulate a humanist, social-democratic vision—a platform with concrete demands that, if met, would improve the lives of the poor, restore dignity and means to workers, and assure young people that their efforts are not in vain. This vision resonates with voters. This is the vision that must be built on—and expanded—by any party that wants to be relevant in these times.

Hillary Clinton and the Democratic Party would do well to take the popular demand for an alternative seriously. Americans—especially young adults and minorities—don’t see Sanders as a dinosaur trading on nostalgia or harking back to an irredeemable past. Instead, they see capitalism as a key source of their troubles. A recent Harvard University poll of Americans between the age of 18 and 29 found that 51 percent did not support capitalism, compared to only 42 percent who said they did. This doesn’t mean a socialist majority is right around the corner—only 33 percent offered it up as an alternative—but the poll indicates a significant shift in attitudes from just a few years ago.

Results like these fit within a broader picture of discontent. A majority of young Americans, including college-educated millennials, saddled with debt and dealing with bad jobs or no jobs, identify as working class—60 percent, more than any other group of Americans, suggesting that a class-based politics is increasingly salient. Even before Sanders ran for president, 66 percent of Americans saw “very strong” or “strong” conflicts between rich and poor, and recent data show that the wealth gap between middle-class Americans and elites has reached a record high. The vast majority of Americans are unhappy with the status quo, and most are willing to pay higher taxes or tax the rich for programs to improve public education and fund Social Security and Medicare.

Most Democratic politicians appear unwilling to acknowledge the extent of these shifts. But in this post-2008 climate, replete with anger against the establishment, the Clintonist approach of winning over moderates and drawing in reluctant leftists presupposes the existence of an ideological center that increasingly cannot hold. It might not be apparent on the eve of their November 8 triumph, but it will soon be.

As with the collapsing social democrats in Europe, the Democratic Party’s best bet is to move left and embrace a platform that speaks to the real needs, fears, and aspirations of working people. This doesn’t mean looking back with rose-colored glasses on the New Deal; it means building a coalition of young people, working-class whites, and minority voters around a new politics.

Those of us to the left of Clinton and the Democrats don’t have all the answers. But we have a good idea of where to start.

First, call for single-payer healthcare and free, quality public education—including higher education—for people of all ages. Fight for robust maternal and paternal leave and universal pre-K to help young families. These policies, despite debates on how to pay for them, are easily grasped and popular. The widespread support for Bernie’s broadsides against the “millionaire and billionaire” class shows that Americans are tired of handouts to Wall Street and the elite, and are ready for a new, progressive tax scheme to foot the bill.

But gains like single-payer and free higher education wouldn’t just be about giving a handout to working people instead of the rich. They would be part of a social movement demanding a decent life for all Americans. This movement would have a broader vision, one that includes the demand for a national job guarantee. Giving everyone a decent job isn’t a pipe dream. It’s a logical way to address pressing social problems and it’s achievable, through a robust expansion of public employment with an eye toward addressing social needs like infrastructure, education, and scientific research and scholarship in the public interest.

Policies like these will not only help alleviate material suffering, they will eventually help unite a divided electorate. Programs that benefit all Americans will foster the sense of solidarity and political engagement necessary to building a lasting progressive coalition in this country.

The alternative is more anxiety and inequality, a further decline in the Democratic Party’s base, and the continued growth of a Trump-like far right that is actively positioning itself to pick up the pieces. For the Democrats, no less than their peers in Europe, where the neoliberalisation of social democracy has opened up space for a populist right, the choice on offer might well be either socialism or irrelevance.

My thought: Trotsky articulated ‘the choice on offer’ far more accurately – socialism or barbarism

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I recommend the following for your consideration. That the Chinese Communist Party has learnt the lesson of the necessity of financial reward for individual initiative and has so far managed that very well within a socialist framework at the same time as the global crisis of capitalism which is so clearly reflected in the current US Presidential election gives even greater emphasis to Engels’ words :

‘The war in China has given the death-blow to the old China. Isolation has become impossible; the introduction of railways, steam-engines, electricity, and modern large-scale industry has become a necessity, if only for reasons of military defence. But with it the old economic system of small peasant agriculture, where the family also made its industrial products itself, falls to pieces too, and with it the whole old social system which made relatively dense population possible. Millions will be turned out and forced to emigrate; and these millions will find their way even to Europe, and en masse. But as soon as Chinese competition sets in on a mass scale, it will rapidly bring things to a head in your country and over here, and thus the conquest of China by capitalism will at the same time furnish the impulse for the overthrow of capitalism in Europe and America…’

Engels to Friedrich Adolf Sorge in Hoboken; London, November 10, 1894, Marx Engels, Selected Correspondence, Progress Publishers, Moscow, 1982, 450-451

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Reply to Philomath

Tiencienwey (Tianjin [‘Heaven’s Ferry']), n.d., Wenceslaus Hollar (1607-1677)

Tiencienwey (Tianjin [‘Heaven’s Ferry’]), n.d., Wenceslaus Hollar (1607-1677)

Hi Philomath,

No, I haven’t read Fukuyama’s Political Order and Political Decay.

China is succeeding where the Soviet Union failed.

This makes sense because the first successful socialist revolution, opposed by the ‘Whites’ and invading capitalist nations, was in the Soviet Union.

Lessons, and extremely costly lessons, in both states, had to be learnt first.

Capitalist ideology holds these lessons up as proof that socialism could never work, and of its ‘evils’ (hence, to those who dare to dream, to think of and to want something better, ‘capitalism is your best – and only – option’).

But they are lessons, just as the first and second world wars (and the many other wars), the Great Depression and global warming were and are lessons – that this will always be what you must expect under capitalism, as reflections of its driving motive of profit and its unpreventable crises.

Clockwise from top: Jinwan Square, Tianjin Financial Centre and Hai River, Xikai Church, Panorama of downtown Tianjin, Tianjin Railroad Station, Tianjin Eye

Clockwise from top: Jinwan Square, Tianjin Financial Centre and Hai River, Xikai Church, Panorama of downtown Tianjin, Tianjin Railroad Station, Tianjin Eye

The Chinese have learnt that the motive for profit, which is the basis in consciousness of capitalism, must be incorporated within socialism – i.e. on a socialist base.

Over time, it is entirely reasonable that this profit motive can be modified (i.e. re-oriented from the individual to the society – in other words better utilised for the society).

Socialism, which, even more than capitalism, can only fully function internationally, is, as can be seen in China, very much a work in progress.

As China continues to develop, the capitalist nations will be forced by economic imperative, as Engels recognised in 1894, to follow.

Best wishes, Phil

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Reply to Grimbeau

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Hi Grimbeau,

It comes as no surprise to me that an Australian who speaks with the integrity and world-orientation John Pilger does is an ex-pat.

The problem is not ‘America’ nor ‘Americans,’ it is US capitalism and the system of international capitalism it dominates.

But the new is growing within the old.

The same necessity (that of the development of the productive forces) that saw capitalism rise out of feudalism will see socialism rise out of capitalism.

Socialism, despite all the evidence achieved of its immense potential, did not succeed in the Soviet Union because it was not international (of which the Bolsheviks were acutely aware), because the Soviet Union was surrounded by a hostile West which drove it to collapse in an arms race it couldn’t win and also because the Bolsheviks tried to deny the place of individual economic initiative and financial reward implicit in it.

Lenin’s half-hearted attempt to compensate for this failure with his NEP was unsuccessful.

The Chinese have learnt from this and from their own attempt to do the same, to impose theory – as can be seen in the process of reform initiated by Deng Xiaoping.

They have learnt that individual reward and the motive for profit must be incorporated into socialism. The rapid development of China since has been the result.

China is very much a work-in-progress, which the Chinese have so far successfully managed.

These developments within China, that are leading the world, will be models for the capitalist nations as they too turn, are forced to turn, to socialism – as Engels noted in a letter in 1894.1

And a ‘necessity,’ I might add, that the consummate Neoplatonist Hegel theorised in his philosophy.

Phil

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Note

1. ‘The war in China has given the death-blow to the old China. Isolation has become impossible; the introduction of railways, steam-engines, electricity, and modern large-scale industry has become a necessity, if only for reasons of military defence. But with it the old economic system of small peasant agriculture, where the family also made its industrial products itself, falls to pieces too, and with it the whole old social system which made relatively dense population possible. Millions will be turned out and forced to emigrate; and these millions will find their way even to Europe, and en masse. But as soon as Chinese competition sets in on a mass scale, it will rapidly bring things to a head in your country and over here, and thus the conquest of China by capitalism will at the same time furnish the impulse for the overthrow of capitalism in Europe and America,’ Engels to Friedrich Adolf Sorge in Hoboken; London, November 10, 1894, Marx Engels, Selected Correspondence, Progress Publishers, Moscow, 1982, 450-451

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John Pilger – break the silence

Speech given at the University of Sydney 22.03.16

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Reply to Anand – capitalism, socialism, mysticism and materialism

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Hi Anand,

thank you for your interest.

The causes for the collapse of the Soviet Union are obviously multiple and complex but they include the fact that the Soviet Union was the first socialist state (which the capitalists will never forgive Russia for, as can be seen in their ongoing hostility to Russia), that, impoverished, it was surrounded from the outset by a hostile and invading West, that the arms race was a drain it could not maintain and, in my view, it was the price paid for ‘overleaping’ the bourgeois stage of development (the Chinese have learnt from this).

But again, fundamentally it is not a matter of what people like or don’t like, it is the working of objective reality and its necessity, and of understanding this.

That a system we know as ‘capitalism’ grew from another system we know as ‘feudalism’ was necessary, as the productive forces developed. Likewise, and for the same reason, capitalism will be replaced by another known as ‘socialism.’

Invasion, drone technology, black ops, psy ops and internet monitoring etc. can delay this as long as possible (again, that is the working of objective reality), but nothing can stop it. Consciousness is secondary to/the product of objective reality.

On your second point, the dominant mystical theory in the West (Neoplatonism) is a theory of knowledge and that theory, having been turned by Marx from ‘standing on its head’ to its material feet became the theory of knowledge of dialectical materialism.

At a time when there has been so much disillusion with Marxism and the ‘possibility’ of socialism (a mainly manufactured disillusion), this whole current needs to be reconsidered because after Marx, it is the epistemology of the future, because of the immense and ongoing contribution of mysticism to all aspects of culture which should be acknowledged and discussed openly, not denied and treated like pornography as academic philosophers do to it, and because by examining both its potential and shortfalls (particularly its teleology – one reason I am not a Marxist) embodied in Marxist theory, the theory now known as dialectical materialism can be further developed.

My blog is to argue for the living significance of mysticism in the West, for its relationship with materialism and for the entirety of that current’s reconsideration because of its importance.

Best regards,

Phil

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Further Comment on Shamseer Keloth’s ‘Facing the Dragon’

Top political advisory body to discuss reform: Yu Zhengsheng, chairman of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), delivers a report on the work of the CPPCC National Committee's Standing Committee at the third session of the 12th CPPCC National Committee at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, March 3, 2015.

Top political advisory body to discuss reform: Yu Zhengsheng, chairman of the National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), delivers a report on the work of the CPPCC National Committee’s Standing Committee at the third session of the 12th CPPCC National Committee at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, March 3, 2015.

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Hello Shamseer Keloth,

Of cognition Lenin wrote ‘From living perception to abstract thought, and from this to practice, – such is the dialectical path of the cognition of truth, of the cognition of objective reality.’ We start with the world> we theorise about it (we look for what we think are the best/most ethical theories and consider and develop on them where we think it is possible, in relation to the world)> we (continually) test our theorising in the world. Practice (not abstract theorising) is primary.

The Chinese, through their very long history, have come to understand and learnt to do this (it can be seen in the Party’s policy developments particularly since Deng Xiaoping). In addition, for the first time in world history, the Chinese have two key elements in a developing relationship – a one-party socialist state and a rapidly rising middle class.

From this relationship will come forms of organisation which will be models for the world – economic, political and social.

The challenge to the Party will be to continue to show not only the benefits but the necessity of a one-party state (social cohesion, rising wealth and cultural development on the basis of the Party’s capacity both for long-term planning and timely decision-making [compare with the West]). Sensitivity to region and locality is just as important – the Party knows that their recent ‘crack-down’ on corruption is essential in this regard.

My view is that the Chinese are bringing to bear on their lives and future not only socialist theory but many lessons they have learnt through their history and are now getting ‘right’ what the Soviet Union was not able to.

How they continue to test and develop socialist theory in a practice which is above the merely pragmatic is central to this.

Phil

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Reply to Shamseer Keloth’s ‘Facing the Dragon’

Liu Yang, China’s first female astronaut, waves during a departure ceremony at Jiuquan Satellite Launch Centre, 16.06.12

Liu Yang, China’s first female astronaut, waves during a departure ceremony at Jiuquan Satellite Launch Centre, 16.06.12

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Hello Shamseer Keloth,

Congratulations on your article,

China will rapidly come to have an impact on the world that no nation has had. Where the one-party state of the Soviet Union collapsed under the pressure of the arms-race with the US and its allies (‘the West’) there is no indication that this will happen with the Chinese Party and state.

In fact, the reforms instituted by Deng Xiaoping, continuing now, are evidence of the flexibility, adaptability and responsiveness of both to pressures and events within and outside China.

And that is both excellent and fascinating – the retention of the potential of a socialist one-party state (consider what is going on in outmoded Western-style capitalist democracies now, the global productive forces in play and their impact on the earth) at the same time, the rapid rise of many millions into the Chinese middle class (the middle class is historically associated with ‘democracy’).

I have no doubt that the tension between these two forces will result in forms of organisation (economic, political and social) either never before seen or, at least, never developed to their full potential.

They will be models for the world. Recent and ongoing events in Hong Kong are part of this process.

What is required are forms of socialism (forms which will inevitably reflect the national characteristics of the society from which they have arisen) in which individual initiative is also recognised, encouraged and rewarded.

The Chinese are succeeding on this crucial point where the Soviet Union failed. It is the way – ‘going forward’.

Phil Stanfield

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