Enjoying some time away from the normal routine during summer break. Meanwhile the world goes on, though it seems mostly via sporting matches. Earlier I posted my guidelines for who I’d be pulling for in the World Cup from a thoroughly Marxist standpoint. Rule three stated: “In case of matches between imperialist powers; whoever has the most militant and conscious working class.” Now, I am open to argument on the question of whether Spain or Holland has “the most militant and conscious working class”, but I have to say that I think it pretty clearly belongs to Spain. When was the last time the Netherlands had a general strike? However, pulling for the Spanish State given the legitimate aspirations of Catalans and Basques makes me little hesitant, a dual-defeatist position has been contemplated. So I was happy to read an article by Harry Browne in today’s Counterpunch that many of the Spanish players are Catalan, much to the dismay of certain Spanish nationalists. And not to bring up any relatively recently buried unpleasantness, but the idea of the Dutch winning it all in South Africa is a little, well, historically distasteful. So Spain it is, or is that Catalonia? I wish Argentina had remained, or better yet Ghana, so I could have a team to pull for passionately, but that’s the nature of the beast these days it seems, and not just in the World Cup.
As for after the World Cup, I have an ominous feeling. I’m not a doomsayer by any means, but it doesn’t take a seer to see that things in the world are not moving in the direction your average Jane or Joe Marxist Revolutionary would generally like to see things move (I suppose there may be a few who welcome the ‘heightened contradictions’, but I’m guessing ‘them belly full’). It is hard to see how a new war in the Middle East can be avoided; how and when it might come about I have no idea, but given the present situation something has to move. The EU seems set on Americanizing the appropriation of labor powers, as it were, and in America the bottom rung of the working class ladder has been kicked off and there is no telling how far the fall will be. I imagine the worse, if only because that was the rung I was standing on. Other clouds gather here and there at home and abroad to say nothing of the endless wars already engaged in.
There are signs of fight back though. Chinese autoworkers, Greek trade unionists and young people, South African workers’, squatters’ and women’s movements, the growing Palestine solidarity movement, the developments in South America, etc. However, those seem all very far away from the United States, where (with the exception of the immigrant right’s movement) each disaster befallen the working class, civil rights, the ecology, etc. etc. is met with silence or a defeated wail. That there is genuine anger and growing alienation is undoubtedly true, but there is no outlet, as of yet, for that anger or a collective antidote to the alienation on offer. As the summer heat drapes oppressively over the East, the usual sleepless nights the worried working class toss through are made unbearable. Everyone knows that, if the American Century is not yet over, the next century surely belongs to someone else. And it ain’t them.
It is no accident that half of the movies coming out of Hollywood these days are set in some horribly dystopian future. Would anyone, but Timothy Geithner and Team Obama, claim these days that the best days are ahead? Not even Hollywood apparently. White supremacy, the raison d’être of so much of the US’s ascendance (sometimes veiled, sometimes not) is on the defensive, but its poison has hardly worked its way through the body politic. When I see some of these teabagging demos, I can’t help but think of unfinished business from the Civil War and seeing the vaguest of outlines of a potential future Civil War. Empires in decline are nasty places.
And the US is a very nasty place right now. One need only look at the catastrophe in the Gulf. From the end of livelihoods and lifestyles, the end of ecosystems to the wholesale BP take-over of the state’s response (not, you notice, the other way around) say plenty about where power lies and the true nature of the government. That government, whose elected representatives first blamed working class home owners in over their heads in debt (facilitated at every level by the banks) for the failure of some of the world’s largest and richest financial institutions and the economic collapse, are now blaming the unemployed and their meager and soon to end benefits for the deficit…this after they’ve spent trillions of dollars on multiple wars and trillions more in bank and industry bailouts. The role of the government is clear and, progressives take note, we cannot prevent the corporate takeover of the US government, it was accomplished a long, long time ago. The present political climate only makes it so obvious as to seem somehow new, if not novel. Though this crisis certainly has served to further consolidate and concentrate the class power of the capitalists, and that also means their control over the state. Sometimes those ‘heightened contradictions’ capitalism throws up don’t work in our side’s favor in the class war, especially when we are not even fielding a metaphorical army.
And the voice of those workers, the unemployed and foreclosed on in response? Where are the unions now? Mainly worried about the midterm elections I imagine. Was the message of the G20 in Toronto the face of things to come: austerity wrapped in a mailed fist? I have to believe that at some point, even the notoriously backward US working class will find themselves enough to say ‘ENOUGH!’ When this heat wave passes I promise a more positive contribution. Until then, I swelter with the rest, waiting for relief and end with this, which seems appropriate, as I reach for the freezer’s final popsicle.
Joe and Johnny