Rightist Fantasies & the Economic
guyy at aqu.bekkoame.or.jp
Thu Apr 27 17:06:14 MDT 1995
Scott Marshall wrote:
> 1)I think much of the left is underestimating the social disruption and
> economic dislocation that the working class is experiencing and feeling in
> the current intense crisis of capitalism. Many deny any crisis at all and
> feel that the system is resilient and doing fine. A big mistake that the
> 'militia' movement is not making. They are out tapping into the anger
> against the system and diverting it.
I would argue that people who are content with the system today are not left
but my main concern with Scott's post lies elsewhere.
If this is true, I think the left suffers from the same problem. It seems th
are operating in an environment in which the language for dealing with the crisi
has lost its currency. It's not just the people on the list -- myself included
course -- who cannot speak of economics, but the right, journalists, and politic
as well. I tend to see this not as an individual failing, i.e. you or I didn't
right books or have failed in our moral obligations to talk about the social bas
as a problem in our common language. As Marcuse noted, (in One Dimensional
Man, I think), the economic as a category is fading. I don't mean this as an
ontological statement; we still have economic problems. It's just that we have
harder time talking about them. The right is not really speaking of economics.
talking about Prop. 187, welfare "reform," and putting people in prison. These
other forms of social sadism deal with the economic only on the level of fantasy
some ways, these respond to an economic reality, but the idea that kicking the
poor, terrorizing foreigners, or capital punishment will help no more addresses
economic reality than vulgar Marxism. However, these fantasies and desires may
represent a new method of conceiving the unity of capitalist society. If this i
we will have to come up with a response to this fantasy.
Economics itself has a hard time explaining the current situation. (Not in
surprising given that even scientific disciplines not in crisis have a hard time
explaining everyday things like the flight of the bumblebee or how water flows
through a pipe.) What stands for economic analysis looks more and more fantasti
representing more the desire that things work out the way economists and
journalists see them than any aspect of social reality as you or I might experie
Look at speculative markets in derivatives. Only a few computer modellers could
ever explain really why a sale occurs. The traders merely follow the advice of
their computers. In effect, the modellers design the market, and the rise and f
these markets has little to do with our social reality. In many ways these are p
fodder for Jameson and Harvey's theories of post-modern societies.
I would argue that the decoupling of social being and economic theory and
practice is progressive. Is this not what Marx was arguing for, the realm of
freedom, no? I think that Marxists fear that the admitting this is akin to admi
the incoherence of society, which would render the Marxist project impossible.
One often hears laments about the self-deconstruction of the economic, but I wou
rather not return to the bad old days of Malthus, Ricardo, and Bentham. I suspe
that people like Richard Epstein are motivated by a reactionary nostalgia (?) fo
Benthamite order that never existed. (Postone fans take note: the U of Chicago
grants a cretin like Epstein tenure but gives Postone the boot). That being sa
is clear that what we have is a capitalist deconstruction of economics. People
be fishing in the morning and philosophizing in the evening, but they are doing
employees of temporary agencies.
Of course, economics may return, in fact, it probably has already. What was
for people like Marcuse or Castoriadis in the sixties may not hold today. But r
than a return to the more or less rationalizing economics, I think we'll see the
development of a economy of fantasy with a rather different set of terms and
operations. I say this because economic thought has always contained an element
prescription and fantasy, and in these times of so many frustrated desires -- no
least of which is the desire to express frustration -- I think these prescriptiv
performative elements will be even stronger in a future economics.
For this reason, now may be the time for another look at psychoanalysis from a
Marxist perspective, which is just what Joel Whitebook sets out to do in his new
book, _Perversion and Utopia_. (Cambridge, Mass: MIT, 1995). On the
reccomendation of a friend, I picked up a copy while in New York recently. Has
anyone on the list read it? If not, I suppose I can give some commentary on it.
Perhaps Chris Burford has something to say about it already.
Report on the Right in Japan:
A huge group of right-wing thugs armed with nuclear weapons, nerve gas, and
heavy artillery lives just down the road from me. They call themselves the US
Navy. Aside from them, we have a vast number of rightist groups, which taken as
a whole, are actually quite powerful. By assasinating members of the press and
through other means of intimidation, they have been to set the limits on politic
discourse in certain areas, especially the emperor system. Remember, to set the
limits is to control the conversation. In this sense, the ultra-right here is e
in command. Once rather hard to find, the flag now flies over many school
buildings and government offices. The national anthem, a reactionary and dreary
tune fetishizing the emperor, plays more than ever. The ultra-right's militaris
gains more and more acceptance with each passing day, even with the "realist" wi
of the "Socialist" Party (May they rot in Hell!). Rightwing magazines dominate
bookstands. This is nothing so unusual to folks in the US, but it marks a break
the recent past, when leftist journals flourished. The local library stopped ta
the Communist Party organ _Akahata_. And so on, ad nauseum.
No doubt you have heard plenty about the Oom people and the rest of the
religious lunatics. Most of them don't think of themselves as rightists, though
Sokka Gakkai, known in the US as NSA, has a powerful and conservative political
party called the Komeito (which the US media translates as the Clean Government
Party. Don't let the name fool you. They are all in favor of maintaining the u
corrupt status-quo and the slush funds that come with it.) As Scott suggests,
absence of a healthy left, this is what passes for dissidence and resistance in
and age. If you look at their theory and practice, you find that they aren't th
different from the rest of society. (Just as the Michigan Militia probably shar
lot with the Grand Rapids Rotary Club). They're hierarchical, elitist, authorit
money grabbing, and sexist to the core. Only in a thoroughly depoliticized soci
in which only a very few bother with history and social criticism does one find
idiocy passing for an alternative.
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