Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Marxism 2010

We've got a tough few years ahead of us, those of us labouring in the iron cage of Hayekian liberty. The working class, if it doesn't get its forces together and resist fast, is going to get absolutely clobbered. It already is suffering quite dramatically in terms of income, and the share of production that it consumes, but it's going to get worse before it gets better.

Benefits are to be cut, and market-based systems and privatization by stealth pushed further through the public sector. The immigration cap and the general racist climate means that the club is going to fall particularly hard on the heads of cleaners, tube workers, NHS staff and other groups who perform some of the most difficult and least rewarding labour in Britain. Fascism, emerging from under several European rocks, was deprived of some crucial victories in the recent election, but it remains a threat. The habitual far right tactic of penetrating football crews is showing some modest signs of success in attracting a periphery beyond the usual array of sad, middle aged white men with paunches. The forces of resistance are not inconsiderable. The last decade has seen the unexpected growth of sizeable antiwar constituencies, the confident political self-assertion of Muslim communities, big movements for international justice and debt cancellation, and sometimes impressive examples of rank and file industrial militancy. But it has to be said, the organised labour movement has so far been the slowest to anger, the last to act and the first to back down under pressure. And it is organised labour that needs to act now, like never before.

Internationally, the ruling classes of the advanced capitalist states are uniting around an austerity agenda, with Osborne today tipping the balance further in favour of that agenda. The United States is bidding to maintain its hegemony by buttressing the Dollar-Wall Street Regime, an increasingly perilous enterprise made all the more so by shifting vectors of global power signified by the ambivalent relationship with China, and the friction with Russia in central Asia. The other component of US hegemony is the NATO alliance. Obama's blandly managerial tone in foreign affairs belies the brutal expansion of the frontier in Afghanistan and Pakistan, the geopolitical rationale of which is, in part, the need to maintain NATO as a functioning tool of Euro-American dominance with Washington in the captain's seat. The Democrats have demonstrated more interest than the GOP in rolling back democratic gains in the Latin and Central American back yard, as Hondurans have discovered, and as Venezuela may soon discover to their cost. Israel, the United States' key Middle East asset, is being permitted - perhaps encouraged - to veer into increasingly lunatic provocations, possibly culminating with an attack on Iran. Things could get spectacularly ugly. Recessions and depressions bring out the worst in ruling classes everywhere. If you want to know what the United States is capable of if it feels its dominance is threatened, don't think about Obama's soporific charm. Think of the perpetual shock and dread unleashed by the Bush administration, the constant affront to minimal ethical norms, the calculated lunacy, the sadistic transgressions... and increase that by whatever multiple seems appropriate to the severity of the crisis.

In light of all this, I suggest we have some issues to discuss. We need to get a few things straight. We need to talk about the economy, and about the budget cuts. We need to talk about capitalism, political theory, the Tories and New Labour, the trade unions, racism, US imperialism and Zionism. We need to understand our present in light of the past, and in all of its complexity. We need history. We need science, education and culture. We need philosophy. We need nothing less than a total understanding of our situation. We need Marxism 2010.