Sunday, 17 January 2010

The Failure of the Socialist Imagination

 The Brown regime is still fighting a class war.  Certainly it has put aside the inane antics of Crewe, hopes no doubt that they will be forgotten -  although Brown's conduct at Prime Minister's Questions hasn't helped.  The casus belli is the same but the tactics are better-generalled.  We are still to be divided into classes, and set one against the other,  but the Labour regime is now to be identified with the middle classes; Labour, our sword and shield.

Rosa Luxembourg remarked that in a class society there will be class conflict.  (There's a lot of this kind of obviousness about iconic heroes of socialism and communism's writing; as if they are an early exemplar of box-ticking: class? Tick.   consciousness?  Tick; capitalism? Tick; struggle? Tick; exploitation, workers, production, forward, overthrow, comrades and brothers, future, modern - an attendance register of ticks.  It doesn't add up to a row of beans but it leaves a good impression should you be that way inclined.) Be that as it may, the purpose of advanced capitalist democracy is to reconcile, ameliorate, please the most, most of the time, cope with discontinuities in the system that is the best we've got.   No-one ever claimed more than that for it, unlike the New Dawn, New Fascists (and old Fascists) lost in their psychoses of control.   Democracy and capitalism go hand in hand and they are supposed to, and often do,   have us all  rising with the tide of economic growth in an ocean of individualism, freedom and choice. They are not evolved  to engender a bitter struggle over the surplus of production (which we have not got, to borrow a phrase), to grind the faces of the poor, nor give power to the proletariat.  Marx never offered a blueprint for an alternative society; his study was capitalism. His epigones generated socialism by hegelian negation, not by creative imagination.

First Brown tells the poor that only Labour will continue to pay their welfare benefits (which they wish they were not on) and then assures the middle income earners that only Labour will pay their claims against tax (which they wish they did not have to make).  

In the class war Angels will be found  "on the side of the educated bourgeoisie."   As for Brown's Labour regime masquerading as the chosen representatives of modern social democracy,  they are  "sectaries of an outworn creed mumbling moss-grown demi-semi Fabian Marxism."


Span Ows said...

"Economic prosperity is [...] dependent on a political and social atmosphere which is congenial to the average businessman."


hatfield girl said...

Hello Span. The ayes have it.

Odin's Raven said...

They're changing the nature of the middle class. In a declining economy and disintegrating society being turned into the opposite of what it used to be, where the state provides most employment and most purchases from business, where media influence, control of the education system and political correctness shackle thought and free expression, independent thought and livelihood are less and less possible. Truth, expert knowledge and judgement are hated. Only those who fawn on the rulers can thrive.The parasites are killing their host, but even in a third world type of society there will be a small group of rich crooks running things, surrounded by their 'middle class' of toadies.

Caronte said...

Of course there are still classes, but the classification has changed, while old concepts die hard.

There is no longer a traditional working class of dependent manual workers. In their place there is a class of labourers that include both dependent employees (blue and white collar) and self-employed workers assisted by up to a couple of family members and other collaborators. Their characteristic is that they have to work for a living and do not have a guaranteed income when in work.

There is a (thin) class of entrepreneurs, people with imagination and drive and organisational ability who take risks and gamble with the allocation of their own resources. More power to their elbow.

Then there is a class of people who do not have to work for a living either because 1) they are rentiers (or have a plum job that they do not even need and can afford to quit at any time; they could turn into rentiers at a stroke), including managers who fix each other salaries at out-of-sight and out-of-market levels, or 2) they are recipients of benefits which for which they have never paid enough (if anything) in their lives (therefore they are also rentiers).

Finally you have destitute unemployed and poor old-age-pensioners.

It is equally wrong and dishonest to pretend that there are no classes (saying that we are all property owners, not least through stakes in owner-occupied-homes and in pension funds)or that classes have not changed from the anachronistic capitalists/workers dichotomy.