I’m a great admirer of the crowds on the street in Egypt and Syria, as I have been in Burma, and way back when in Tiananmen Square. In that case I have actually come to meet and in some cases know quite well some of the participants, including, as “meet” not “know well”, Liu Xiaobo, hunger striker, writer, Nobel Peace Prize winner and man often in the shit in China. Shame my leftie friends back in 1990 tried to tell me Tiananmen didn’t happen or if it did then no-one was killed – well, maybe some counter-revolutionary shits but they don’t count. Not what people actually there said, but that’s politics eh, and the Revolution Must Be Supported No Matter What!
Memory of Tiananmen Square 1989
Police brutality Sydney style, 2011
We just love the drama…
That’s the sort of crap that led Bob Carr (a man I also have doubts about) to say something that copped flack but I think is absolutely true.
On one level it makes the blood flow to see demonstrations against Wall Street. Even to imagine a rejuvenation of old fashioned American liberalism, a roughing up of corporations after the abuses that blighted the lives of ordinary families. The protest could be a voice for the unemployed and those who lost homes.
But US conservatives need not worry. Nor should conservatives in Europe or Australia at their copy-cat protests.
Anti-corporate greed as a political movement will be wrecked by the left itself.
It happens every time.
I also agree with Bob’s historical page on Communist Nostalgia and the Romance of the Cold War, to which I might add the Romance of Protest and the Hippy Delusion. You’ll have noticed, especially of you are (were?) one of my Facebook friends, that I have indicated ambivalence about the #Occupy fashion. For example a few days back:
I am not and never will be a mindless groupie of the Occupy movement. Too often the romance of revolution becomes “How many do you want to kill?” in practice, that is when it doesn’t stay safe posturing in comfortable countries which it generally does. While AdBusters is like anything anarchist frequently demented it does have its moments. This is one of them and is a two-edged sword too — even better!
On the link you will find an excellent ad mashup on narcissism.
OK, so tomorrow is Buy Nothing Day 2011. I’ll buy that – very easy to do when you’re on a pension, so I can do what I normally would and feel really good about myself and POWERFUL as well! What a bargain! I can thrill to AdBusters’s hype:
Buy Nothing Day was a radical concept when we first introduced it 20 years ago. It struck a blow against the very heart of our consumer culture….
Really? I mustn’t have been paying attention.
And now we’re told it is about to morph into a world-wide General Strike.
Of course it won’t.
On November 27/28 we’re asking tens of millions of people around the world to bring the capitalist consumption machine to a grinding – if only momentary – halt. We want you to shut off your lights, your televisions and other nonessential appliances. We want you to park your car, turn off your phones and log off your computer for the day. We’re calling for a Ramadan-like fast. From sunrise to sunset, we abstain en masse. Not only from shopping but from all the temptations of our five-planet lifestyles.
In Oz an organisation of cosmic pretentiousness is backing this:
The Zeitgeist Movement is not a political movement. It does not recognize nations, governments, races, religions, creeds or class. Our understandings conclude that these are false, outdated distinctions which are far from positive factors for true collective human growth and potential. Their basis is in power division and stratification, not unity and equality, which is our goal. While it is important to understand that everything in life is a natural progression, we must also acknowledge the reality that the human species has the ability to drastically slow and paralyze progress, through social structures which are out of date, dogmatic, and hence out of line with nature itself. The world you see today, full of war, corruption, elitism, pollution, poverty, epidemic disease, human rights abuses, inequality and crime is the result of this paralysis.
This movement is about awareness, in avocation of a fluid evolutionary progress, both personal, social, technological and spiritual. It recognizes that the human species is on a natural path for unification, derived from a communal acknowledgment of fundamental and near empirical understandings of how nature works and how we as humans fit into/are a part of this universal unfolding we call life. While this path does exist, it is unfortunately hindered and not recognized by the great majority of humans, who continue to perpetuate outdated and hence degenerative modes of conduct and association. It is this intellectual irrelevancy which the Zeitgeist Movement hopes to overcome through education and social action.
The goal is to revise our world society in accord with present day knowledge on all levels, not only creating awareness of social and technological possibilities many have been conditioned to think impossible or against “human nature”, but also to provide a means to overcome those elements in society which perpetuate these outdated systems.
The Kingdom of God, no less! Let’s hope it does less harm than past attempts at freeze-dried Utopia.
See Adam Curtis “Dream On”.
HOW THE LEFT GOT TRAPPED INSIDE THEIR OWN HEADS – AND HOW FAIRIES CAN OPEN THE DOOR TO THE FUTURE
The protest movement that began with Occupy Wall Street is very clear about what it is against – an international capitalism that is cruel, unfair and untenable. But the movement refuses to say what it is for. Much of this refusal comes from a belief that modern capitalist society is extremely skilful at co-opting dissent and that any discussion with the media is the first step in being reabsorbed into ‘the system’.
It also has the added benefit of irritating mainstream journalists and commentators.
I want to tell an odd, romantic, but ultimately very sad story that shows where this fear of possession on the left comes from. It is set during last the time that British, European and American students tried to be a vanguard for revolution. It shows how that fear can easily lead to a pessimistic belief that all one’s dreams for a better future are just illusions – and how that pessimism then came to paralyse the left in Britain throughout the eighties and nineties…
The student left in the 1960s had believed that the revolution would start in their heads because that was where capitalist power exerted its control. But it was a dead end because it led them into a terrible trap – where they became paralysed by the fear of possession.
As a result they became unable to articulate an inspiring vision of the future and came to distrust their own dreams because they were frightened that they would be immediately appropriated. And that is where much of the left still remain – paralysed by a dark pessimism and a fear of the cynicism of the media around them.
To really change the world the left needs to go back to the same utopian socialists that Marcuse rediscovered in the 1950s, and the grand romantic visions of other worlds they put forward.
The one I love most is Charles Fourier who in the 1830s outlined an extraordinary new kind of society based on communities he called Phalanxes…
Fourier had no truck with the idea of changing people. All the different things inside their heads was just what they were like – and you worked with that extraordinary range of human nature and channelled it to create societies in which everyone played a role suited to their nature. His vision is wonderfully optimistic. Even potential murderers are allowed to work off their psychotic impulses – as butchers.
And at the heart of Fourier’s society is the idea of Love – a grand feeling of which sex is just a part. And there were special groups in the Phalanxes whose job was to manage the dynamics of Love. If you had been rejected by someone you loved, a special corps of “fairies” would come immediately and take you away, and cure you of your unhappiness.
Fourier’s romantic innocence seems intensely shocking to us today – because it seems so naive and optimistic. But it is their power to shock us in this way that potentially makes these long-forgotten utopian ideas genuinely revolutionary.
You may not believe in fairies, but in today’s world it’s hard to believe in the infallibility of the laws of free-market economics. So which one would you choose?
Very unsure about the prescription there, but much surer that the “laws of free-market economics” are not laws at all in any sense of the word “law”.
Like Curtis’s work though. See this post: Adam Curtis and Richard Brautigan and my post Really thought-provoking — Adam Curtis on SBS last night.
Relevant — one of Curtis’s best.