There has been, quite correctly, a lot of talk among Marxists these days of crisis theory. In this audio file of a speech given last week David Harvey takes a look at how capitalism attempts to resolve its crises. His talk, The Enigma of Capital, raises a bunch of issues for us.
The upshot? “Is what is going on right now the end of neo-liberalism?…My view of neo-liberalism is that all along it has been about the attempt to restore and consolidate class power. From that perspective I don’t think what we are seeing right now is the end of that at all. I think it is the culmination rather than the end of it.”
Apologies for the “filler”; school and work beckon this week.
Thought that too about leadership and the lack of working class consciousness but didn’t want to get that deep in a short reply. I’m pleased that you have brought it up.
Long Road? Short Road? Road through the Unions? Unions and other organizations for the poor and disposessed? Community organizations? Civil Rights organizations? Solidarity organizations? Renegade Eye, any thoughts? Others?
Thanks for you thoughtful comments. I agree with nearly everything you’ve said. I agree with you about the objective conditions and the possibilities they open too. At a certain level though subjective conditions become objective. The near total lack of class consciousness (not individual class, but collective class) in the US at the moment is a huge impediment to the creation of a labor party. A long time ago Trotsky said that the crisis in humanity could be summed up by the crisis of working class leadership. I think we are in a much deeper hole than that these days. The crisis in humanity, to paraphrase, is a crisis in class consciousness. Building a class self-awareness seems much more difficult than building a class organization, awareness being a prerequisite for the building of a working class org. I think, unfortunately, lessons learned by previous generations will have to be learned anew– and the hard way. Times can change quickly and the bad environment is no reason to not propagandize for such a, totally indispensable, party. Both Nader and McKinney raised class issues in their campaigns, but working class organization went wholly for the Dems. I just feel like we have a helluva long road to get there, if not temporally than politically.
Renegade Eye: I too would like to see a Labor or Workers’ Party created. It would be such a step forward for the Working Class to stop giving the Dems their unearned loyalty and see themselves as a class force able to defend their own interests. It would have to be anti-capitalist–I don’t see a space for a party that competes with the Dems for smoozing corporate america.
I would like to see more action by workers. I always admired those (mostly) CP organized groups who moved people back into their homes after they had been evicted. I know some people who could use that.
Did Kennedy’s election provide openings for the Civil Rights movement? Maybe (it was before my time) but it seems like things were already
cooking when he came into office. The Montgomery Bus Bycott dates back to 1955, predated by Emmett Till, and the experience of Black soldiers during WWII. I think there was a cultural expectation of better times following the war. Certainly there were industrial jobs and unions–many of which were stacked with Commies willing to fight the racist practices of the bosses. I think this was one factor which helped to fuel the broader civil rights movement.
We may not have to reinvent the wheel like the New Left but we do need to find some forward movement. Although objective conditions for socialist organizing are quite good due to the collapse of the Capitalists schemes for extracting evermore surplus value from labor, the loss of good paying industrial jobs to factories overseas or to nonunion states, the fall of real wages below levels necessary for affordible living, the housing mortgage crisis, the credit card crisis, racist round-up of undocumented workers and the list goes on… Still it is hard to see where the fightback is going to come from.
The anti-war leadership lead that movement lock-step in behind the do-nothing Democrats and the Union leadership is still tied to the Dems (or Republicans) and their corporate greedmasters. Any thoughts, Renegade Eye, on where there might be a wheel waiting to be pushed forward? I’m ready to put my shoulder to it.
Rhola: I think we’re in an excellent climate to agitate for a labor party.
All told, in the US, a labor party for me, will be the 1917 of my lifetime.
After Kennedy’s election and Camelot, there was hope in this country. Out of it the antiwar and civil rights movement formed. We won’t have to reinvent the wheel like the New Left, we know about socialism.
With all the Clinton people moving into the obama administration, it feels more like neo-neo-liberalism.
There IS something in the exhuberence of the transition to this new and historic administration which is REMINESCENT of the assection of the Clintons in ’92. I wonder if the ruling class has flashbacks to the “Good Old Days” when the Dot.Com’ers and savy financial swindlers swelled the ranks of the superrich. For most of the rest of us, a trip back to the 90’s evokes thoghts of better jobs, better wages and the possibility of an affordable University education.
Interesting how this Obama/Clinton unity implies the acceptence of Clinton policies by the Obama centrists. Who can forget NAFTA, Ending Welfare As We Know It, Bombing Yugoslavia, “Don’t Ask…Don’t Tell…”
Certainly the election of Obama has changed the face of America, and I have to agree with the ABB lobby — Obama is preferrable to the idiot Bush — but instead of change, shouldn’t we really expect more of the same? Afterall, both Obama and Clinton supported the Banking System scheme to swindle credit card holders into paying superinterest on their debt should they fail to pay a utility bill on time, both supported Bankruptcy Reform, both supported funding the imperialist “War on Terror” and both voted twice for the authorization of the Patriot Acts I & II.
So what do these Bush critics and advocates for change do when the working class is forced to accept the loss of good jobs and wages, have their houses taken away from them, and face default on any number of non-repayable debts?? They vote to give $700 billion from the taxpayers’ pockets to the Ruling Class to help them recoup their losses and prop-up the companies they’ve bled dry!!
By the way, my union, the UFCW, gave untold amounts of money and on-the-clock campaigners to Barak Obama despite his voting record. It saddens me to see union officials give an uncritical pass to any and all the positions of the Democratic Party…