Not Gramsci.

Jamal Hannah jamal at bronze.lcs.mit.edu
Tue Sep 19 17:14:18 MDT 1995


Chris Sciabarra writes:
> 	Jamal argues like a good Gramscian -- Gramsci, I think, was very
> good on these issues.  He understood more than most other Marxists that
> there needed to be a spontaneous cultural, voluntary mobilization prior
> to any political change, to counteract the hegemony of forces built up by
> the oppressive system he sought to transcend.  I just don't know how long
> it will take, even under these conditions, before the counter-hegemony
> takes control of political forces and falls into the same historical
> pattern of statist brutality that has marked just about every socialist
> movement in the 20th century.

Bzzt!  Wrong.  First of all, I have never read Gramsci, I barely know who he
is, and I find it personaly insulting that you say I "argue like a 'good'
Gramscian".   I am coming from the direction of Anarchist such
as Alexander Berkman, Kropotkin, Daniel Guearin, Errico Malatesta
and Noam Chomsky.  Nor did I say anything about "spontaneousness".
I do not think "spontenuity" ever meant anything.  Movements are built
on organization and commitment and realistic goals.  The "spontenuity"
talked about is related to actions that happen after many years
of political activity and organizing.  Middle class
kids who are bored of hanging out at malls will never "spontaneously"
rebel against capitalism in any kind of practical way.
Whats this about a "counter-hegemony that takes control" (how do you
know this would happen?   Do you consider the "successful" socialist
movements that became statist to actually be socialism, even resembling
it?  I do not.)   And no anarchist (libertarian socialist) movement
has ever fallen into "state control".  They were crushed by the forces
of the right or the "left".   If you are saying it is impossible
and useless to be a communist, socialist, or anything that resists
capitalism (without becoming like Stalin), then why are you even on
this mailing list?  To tell people it's no use?  To tell us to
be social democrats and leave control of the means of production in
the hands of capitalists?  Why should we listen to you?

> > We currently live in a capitalist "utopia".  This is as good
> > as it gets: capitalists can do as they please, with a few nuisances
> > of the state to work around.  There is no "higher stage" to capitalism..
> > technology will advance, but this is _socially_ the best things get.
> > Some so-called "anarcho-capitalists" and Libertarian Party members
> > tend to have a "utopian" idea of capitalism which is based on the
> > wish that humans wont complain or resist when exploited.  This isnt
> > utopia, it's impossible.  They dont accept (or they are denying for
> > propaganda reasons) that capitalism is in full swing and cant get any
> > "better" then it is now, and has been for a hundred years.
>
> 	I count myself among libertarians (with a small l), and I would
> never argue that this is as good as it gets.  Capitalists really don't do
> as they please by working around the state; they work WITH the state, and
> have been able to attain monopolistic and oligopolistic control of
> markets through political controls on market entry.

I see.. you are a libertarian _capitalist_ who will demonize even non
state socialism as "warn" everyone that trying to escape capitalism is
"bad".  Well, this is what people like yourself have been doing
for years.  You'd call Ghandi a fascist if you felt he thretened capitalist
values.  And as for working with the state, you are correct that capitalists
wish to work with it (even the "small l" libertarian capitalists)
because the _state_ is the forces which protect private property,
the police (including a "privately paid army") and the military.

The state _is_ Capitalism.

Capitalists who claim to not like government are simply saying they dont
like democracy.  They want power for profits-seekers and not the people.
While "Democracy" in America is generally a joke, it gives some amount
of voice to some who want a piece of the big pie. (social democrats)

Capitalists do as they please right now. The state government with
its various regulations represense a mere nuisance.. but shopping
malls and new industries pop up at all time.. NAFTA and GATT represent
victories for pro and "anti" state capitalists of all types.
It all comes down to the fact that those who seek profit win
and the people lose.  capitalists will use the state,
but right now since the state has been used by some social
democrats to create a a number of regulatory "nuisances",
the libertarian (capitalists) seek to eliminate these parts of the
government that get in the way of further profits: think of it..
if you can cut down all trees with no regulations, you can make
lots of money. It has nothing to do with a desire for
"freedom" or "liberty" on the part of capitalists.. it's all
about _profits_.

I repeat what I said before.. this is the best capitalism can, and ever
will get.  It can get _worse_ (welfare, Affirmative Action, Social
Security can dissapear)  .. but it cannot get _better_.  The
right-wing CATO Institute and Reason Foundation claim that privatizing
everything would lead to a type of benevolence which would
solve all problems.  No.  This would lead back to the days of
Haymarket, historically.. a time of suffering and massive
exploitation.

As a libertarian socialist, I feel that we should fight to
restore state programs or FDR-era social band-aids, but to
strengthen political awareness among the working class, and
build political structures which counter capitalism (statist
or "non-statist" capitalism.. both are just as bad)
This includes revolutionary unions, political action groups,
and related things.

> 	I don't think ANY corporativist capitalists want the Haymarket
> days back; they are content with statist control on markets and the money
> supply, and in fact, struggled to achieve such control from the end of
> the 19th century.

I disagree.  The fact that they have no problem with the Haymarket-style
conditions of Guatemala, Mexico, Columbia, China and so on where so many
modern-day capitalists extract wealth from labour means that
this point is meaningless.  To expect that they would not
do it in America because of some fantasy that they would "care for
our own" is absurd:  already reactionaries (like Rush Limbaugh, Newt,
etc) have a field day marginalizing and insulting their "Fellow
Americans".. making it clear that it's "not a sin to spit on a begger".
This obviously has an effect on the general population.

 - Jamal




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