Tuesday, August 28, 2012

On contextual and individual concerns and promoting libertarian socialism.

I'll admit it, I'm a "revolution fetishist". I love the idea of taking part of one. The liberal, reformist and conservative consensus is clear: there will be no more revolutions! We've had enough of those, you know. It seems like such and old fashioned thing to do, like riding on a horse-and-wagon, something that made sense back when we didn't have the unquestionable virtues of representative democracy, universial suffrage, corporate capitalism and a caring nanny state to protect us. Revolutions of past, that got us where we were, are romanticized and held by the regime that it instituted as sacred objects. But of course, revolutions are way out of style now. That was THEN. This is NOW.

The fate of the U.S.S.R, PRC and other revolutionary Marxist projects, as well as the Syndicalists during the Spanish Civil War has sadly turned many people interested in radical social change away from the idea of revolution and in to the silly quagmire of reformist progressivism, or at worst, conservatism. And the revolutionaries themselves haven't been useful, mainly because they're so disconnected from what actual people want. These days, atomism prevails in political debates. Women's rights is a different debate from gay rights which is a different debate about tax-loopholes which is a different debate from war which is a different debate from labor-unions. You can't rail against "The System" or anything like that. People usually have one pet issue, that maybe indicates preference for other issues, but you can't really tell. When people are interested in Politics they are more interested in Specifics rather than the Whole Picture. This is of course, dumb, everything has a context and that context may be as important as the thing itself. But sadly, this is how people think. We could devote our time trying to get them to see the larger picture, but a lot of times, we need to give people a starting point.

They don't wanna hear about Revolution, they have a pet issue that needs a solution. And libertarian socialists don't have any answers. When the issue of austerity comes up, people like the writers for libcom.org usually get riled up against the evil capitalist state selling of public industry to profit-driven industry. But what is the libertarian socialist stance on public service? We know that state owned services isn't ideal, but what is the alternative? The LibSoc's usually answer with lines straight out of the Authoritarian Socialist textbooks, about how Free Markets are the Evilest and These Cool State Programs are going to make it all ok, just with the disclaimer that of course all of that will be gone after the revolution. This is pretty unattractive to any single issue voter looking for a different way of thinking. To be clear, you don't have propose a reform, but you could propose a form, in which these things could take.

The point I'm trying to get at is that revolutionary politics of the day have make sure they are aware of the political environment they're in, and adapt a form of propaganda which does not only dwell in systematic analysis, but also provides an attractive solution to solve the specific issues that people usually worry about. All of this should be done while avoiding reformism and top-down approaches to the issues, and hint at a revolution bringing about these things. There is no dichotomy between contextual and individual concerns, rather, a need to balance the two and integrate them more efficiently into our political analysis.

New everything!

Well. The posts are still the same. But I changed my URL, blog title and template. Hope this new style will inspire magic!


I want to change the name of this blog, and change it's looks. Anyone wanna help with a new template?

Why You Hate Yourself

This article was originally published in the American Bay Area student zine The Academic Activist

Do you hate yourself? The question might not be a comfortable one to ask, but a nontheless important one. I am asking, because I know for certain that I have hated myself, and other people also keep telling me, or showing me, that they hate themselves. It seems odd, that you should hate yourself. What reason is there, really? There never is an obvious answer, it seems. 
But not many things are allowed to be obvious when there’s vested interests, power-structures and antagonism surrounding just about every part of our life. If the answer were obvious, if you could grasp the reason for your misery, then you might be able to work out a way of loving, or at least accepting yourself. But maybe some people wouldn’t like that . Maybe, some people are shivering at the very thought of you breaking free from all the hate you subject yourself to. Society, in with it’s bureaucracies, hierarchies and inequalities, has built-in mechanisms to make everyone not in a position of power and privilege, hate themselves. The main form that hierarchy makes you hate yourself is by making itself invisible; by becoming shadow ghosts, hiding in your peripheral vision. It does this, because if it were to be seen, you would surly revolt against it. You, and all the other people who’ve been taught to hate themselves, could easily tear down the systems if you were only able to see them. It makes you hate yourself by making you BLAME yourself. The oppressed are being told that they must take personal responsibility for being oppressed, that at the end of the day, the blame lies on the POOR for not making it in the market-place, on the WOMAN for not performing as well as men, on the STUDENT for not being able to pay back their student-loan, you could go on and on with every marginalized group there is out there. The blame is on YOU, because YOU are in control of your actions. ”Nevermind us, the people who control the institutions, the persons responsible for the context of your actions.” 

Take the modern workplace. The workplace is not what it used to be. But the exploitation is still the same. You are still forced to sell your labor to a capitalist to satisfy your most basic needs, but the administration is different. The stereotype used to be of the heartless boss, firing anyone at will, treating their workers like dirt. Now, the bosses are smiling, encouraging, and ”your friend”. Sentences like ”how can you and me CO-OPERATE to better use your skills and abilities in the company”, ”the management is INTERESTED IN YOUR OPINION” and ”at this workplace, we are a TEAM” give us the illusion that what the worker-boss relationship REALLY is, is just a form of cooperation. In reality, the workplace is still a hierarchical, competitive environment. The boss, most likely, is not your ”friend”. More likely, the boss is trying to create a friendly environment in which their exploitation can go unnoticed. Because there’s the illusion of equality and cooperation in the modern workplace, the workers feels as if they really can’t blame his exploiters, regardless if they bear the full responsibility for the things they put the workers through. Power is being delegated in the workplace in a way which makes holding anyone accountable for the abuses that occur in a workplace a headache, something you won’t even bother with. The worker does not know who to blame for the loss of 6-8 hours a day in a place were they are forced to produce goods that aren’t theirs for people they’ll never meet. It must be their own fault. How can it be someone elses? The hierarchy they spend all their days in has made itself invisible to them, leaving the only thing left to hold accountable the workers themselves, and their failure to get a better job, or to communicate with the bosses better. To borrow a line from a friend on twitter (@ReThePeople): ”The chattel slave never deluded herself that she was free, unlike her wage-slave counterpart.”

This pattern, making hierarchy and exploitation harder to notice, is pivotal in most social relationships. It’s much harder to fight something that you might not even know exists, or that you are taught not to bother with. We live in a society in which every basic institution, from the family, to school, to production of goods, to politics, to media, hell, even our language is centered around an inequality of power, on hierarchy, and those at the top would do anything to convince you that they are working for you, that they aren’t using you for their own ends. Listen to the politicians discussing the present economic nightmare. Listen to the talk about Greece. Surely, the Greek are to blame for being lazy and not working enough! The talk about the lazy Greek is just the most obvious example of this twisted classism: it has infected the entire debate. It is the fault of the poor for using too much precious public money, it is their fault for not working hard enough, for not consuming enough, for being more human than they are worker.

We must reject this logic. We must stop blaming ourselves. We are not at fault for being excluded, by violence, from satisfying our own needs. We are not at fault for being restricted, by violence, from becoming self-reliant. We are not at fault for being manipulated, through media, to accept our situation. We are not at fault. If we realized this, we might not hate ourselves so much. We do not wash ourselves clean from the actual responsibilities of being a human, we simply wash ourselves of clean from that which is not in our control. Keep this in mind as bourgeois politicians discuss ”class warfare” and ”envy of those that have succeeded”. ”Envy” is a weird word to describe our feelings. We aren’t saying no because we feel like that should be us, with private jets, mansions and fancy food. We are saying no because we feel the CAUSE of those things are in violation of our basic dignity as human beings. And it is our dignity that we fight for. It is a fight against the self-hatred that is perpetuated in society. If we reject the logic of capital, reject the logic of the state, and reject the logic of all the other hierarchies that attempt to poison our experience as humans with hatred for ourselves, we have created a platform on which social change can happen

Thursday, August 23, 2012

An open letter to Humanoids with Hearts made of Gold

I haven't been active on here, at all, and for that I apologize. There has been a lot happening. I'm going to study Social-Anthropology at uni, I've been doing Swedish translations for left-libertarian website c4ss.org , I have read a lot of theory, especially Autonomist Marxism. And, as it so happened, I found the love of my life.

There is a problem with this all though. We didn't meet like regular people meet. We didn't run in to each-other at a party, we didn't meet in school, we certainly did not meet at a club, and not just randomly in the street either. We met on twitter. Twitter was basically the only way she and me could ever know about each other. Mainly because she is Australia, and I'm in Sweden. It's funny, me and my childhood mates used to joke about digging a hole through the earth to get to Australia and steal a kangaroo that we would then bring back home to Sweden and keep as a pet (I'm not sure how it would've handled the Swedish weather). It was so exotic to us, so far away... And know I've met the most important person in my life, there, far away, half-way across Mother Earth. It's not a situation we chose. It's, of course, exciting, comparing our cultures, being curious about how life is over there compared to over here, laughing about our differences. But cultural studies is a poor substitute for being able to talk to someone face-face, to be able to touch, to kiss the person you're in love with. This is why we've been planning on spending a couple of months together next year.

We're really in love. I mean, really, in love. Every minute of the day I think about kissing her. She's funny, smart, and beautiful, and she makes me want to write music to sing for the world. All I do is pine. I've never really done that since I was around 17 or something. And it's frustrating. I can't even call her whenever I want, because the cost of calling to Australia is not something I can't afford.

We're both poor. I'm starting uni in a couple of weeks, she's already studying, and plane-tickets are expensive. Without help from other people, we won't ever get to meet. That is sort of depressing. Luckily, we've gotten quite a few people to help us out! We are very grateful for this, but we still have quite a bit of funds to raise before we can afford the plane tickets and the costs of traveling in Europe. The main way people have done this is by buying her book, but people have also donated via PayPal, you can contact us to get. I am also planning on recording an EP of around 4-5 songs, available on Bandcamp with the lowest price of 3$ but with the option of donating as much as you want, but that's for the future. For now, the main way is the book. It's a great book, in the style of absurdism, funny and witty, and clever. It's only 6.54, which isn't very much. We're sort of desperate here, and while it may be a beautiful and romantic thing to look back at, it's not very fun now, not knowing whether or not we'll be able to afford to meet next year. So I'm calling to you, Humanoids with Hearts made of Gold, to please help us out. We will be eternally grateful. And if you have no money, tell a friend!

This isn't the first blog post that has been made about this subject. My girlfriend wrote A Tale Of Two Goats, and fellow Swedish twitter abuser @sargoth wrote The love, the situation and the solution. You should read those, if I haven't been able to convince you well enough.

Follow us on twitter: @sushi_goat and @obscurity_goat

The link to the book is: http://www.lulu.com/spotlight/abovetheseaoffog


Thank you

// Jakob Pettersson