Subject: ON CHANGES IN PERCEPTIONS, APPREHENSIONS, COMPREHENSIONS, AND ANTICIPATIONS.
22 February 2013
Dear Colleagues and Friends of CEIMSA,
Sociology is to Disneyland as History is to an African Safari. There is no study that can bring you closer to reality than reading good history -- not essays in belles letters that try to entertain, nor positivist constructs that pretend to explain with pompous references to arcane catalogues employing rigidly defined categories and concepts. The dynamic interrelationships between people representing various activities and interests and what evolves out of this dynamic is the material of historical interest. Good history takes cognizance of the organic whole and exposes the constituent parts revealing the roles played by many elements and their combined influence on the crystallization of the whole historical gestalt.
The monomaniacal compulsion of capitalists to control and to extract maximum profits from their social and natural environment is no more than one constituent element in capitalist society –an important element, but not the only one. Capitalism is not (yet) despotism –not yet a power pyramid saturated by illegitimate dependent power hierarchies, lesser pyramids arranged neatly within a structure at the top of which resides the ultimate illegitimate power in the person of a despot. There are still astonishing contradictions to be discovered if one is trained to look beneath the surface appearance and is willing to take the time to discover interrelationships at different moments and at different levels of reality. This requires a clear mind, which unfortunately is not to be assumed in the environments of schools and university campuses.
Widespread destabilization of people can only guarantee more of the same. Incomprehension and mystifications are the results, and these states of mind change nothing for the better.
UCLA professor of sociology Michael Mann, in the third volume of his four-volume work on The Sources of Social Power (1986-2013) discusses the formations of global empires and revolutions between 1890 and 1945. In the conclusion of this third volume, he attempts to explain the reasons for “the triumph of a capitalism reformed and regulated by government,” which stood as a counter-intuitive policy impossible for some Marxists to anticipate.
Reformed capitalism triumphed because although capitalists vigorously defended their property rights, determined opposition from below usually forced them into making compromises, the process being aided by centrists and pragmatists (including corporate leaders) seeking compromise and the institutionalization of class conflict through legislative intervention. Their main motive was the desire to head off class conflict at the pass, before it got really serious. Where compromise failed to happen, as in Russia and Germany, this helped spur on communist and fascist revolutions, the effect of which was to forcibly suppress class conflict. Elsewhere, class compromise and the granting of more and more citizen rights predominated.
Marx believed that capitalists were incapable of collective organization because they were divided by market rivalry. Only the collective laborer, the working class, he believed, was capable of much collective action. This half-century proved him wrong on capitalism and half-wrong on workers. Capitalists initially tried to repress labor movements, but this usually failed. So across the mid-twentieth century, aided by the outcomes of wars, they grudgingly and collectively accepted state intervention to smooth over the dysfunctional tendencies of capitalism as well as accepting redistributive deals with organized workers, as long as these left their own ownership and control rights intact. On the other side of the barricades, workers achieved a measure of class solidarity, but this was undercut by sectionalism, segmentalism, and nationalism, which aided class compromise. Strikes and labor agitation rose significantly from just before World War I to World War II . . ., but these were as often instruments of sectional or segmental workers power as of class power.
Socialism thus proved less of a threat than many capitalists had feared as it mutated into milder social democratic or lib-lab (liberal-labor) reformism. The foundations of reformed capitalism –welfare states, universal public health and education, progressive taxes, legitimate collective bargaining, and Keynesian macroeconomic policies—were laid down before 1945, although (apart from public health) their consolidation came later. They all involved bigger government, more citizenship, and intensifying nation-states. The reforms were also beneficial for collective economic power, and not only for the lower classes. Class conflict, once institutionalized into collective bargaining, produced more stable labor relations, and stability is a virtue much prized by capitalists operating in within unpredictable markets. There were no revolutions or even much social turbulence where this route was followed. Representative government also enabled crises to be surmounted much more easily and peaceably than despotic rule: regimes failing to cope with the crisis were voted out of office and the opposition party routinely replaced it, whereas despotic regimes faced more succession crises. (Vol.3, pp.460-461)
The 3 items below offer readers a glimps of the rapidly changing morphology of our society and suggest practical measures to reintegrate ourselves into these changes so that we can influence their direction and their outcome.
Item A., from Professor Edward S. Herman, is an article on “the European economic meltdown,” by Conn Hallinan
Item B., from Information Clearing House, is an article by Ben Schreiner on Post-colonial Africa, déjà vu all over again…
Item C., from David Harvey, contains two videos discussing the practical applications of Marxist analyses in the contemporary global crisis.
And finally, for readers interested in the role of the artist in social change, we invite you to view Jeff Zinn’s presentatioin in . . .
"The Acting Lesson: A Broad Theory for the Theatre V5"
Professor of American Studies
University of Grenoble-3
Director of Research
University of Paris-Nanterre
Center for the Advanced Study of American Institutions and Social Movements
The University of California-San Diego
from Edward S. Herman :
Date: 7 February 2013.
Subject: Europe’s Meltdown.
From ICH :
Date: 21 February 2013.
Subject: Post-colonial Africa – déjà vu, all over again.
Pentagon plans for Africa stretch well beyond northern Mali. A military doctrine of global “power projection” and “full spectrum dominance” dictates nothing less.
Imperial Jockeying in Africa: U.S. Intervention Sets to Deepen
by Ben Schreiner
from David Harvey :
Date: 20 January 2-13
Subject: What next?
Published on Jun 25, 2012:
Prof. David Harvey gave a lecture at Middle East Technical University in Ankara on 13th June 2012. This is the presentation made by Oğuz Işık before the lecture.
David Harvey Ankara lecture- presentation
Published on Feb 8, 2013:
On Monday, October 15, 2012, “Student Leaders Speak Out: A Public Conversation Between Protagonists from Hemispheric Student Struggles in Chile, Quebec, and New York” was hosted at the Graduate Center, CUNY by the Center for Place, Culture and Politics.
Video: Camila Vallejo & Noam Titelman – Student Leaders Speak Out