Bulletin N° 751
Subject : THE PAST IS PROLOGUE : IMPERIALIST WARS - WARS OF NATIONAL DEFENSE - WARS OF NATIONAL INDEPENDENCE - CIVIL WARS & CULTURE WARS !
May 6, 2017
Dear Colleagues and Friends of CEIMSA,
We have all read the obituary:
SOCIALISM IS DEAD!
While the King Kong international capitalists celebrate their “victory” with long eulogies over the corpse, they speak the language of neo-liberalism:
This body was bound to die, it had no future! Marx was wrong! 'Class collaboration' has replaced 'class struggle',
and ‘anti-capitalist’ skepticism (with consumer protection ethics) has been displaced by ‘consumerism’ (with ‘buyer-beware’ slogans).
Why it's true, isn’t it ?!! The American multimillionaire robber baron, Henry Clay Frick, explained the relationship quite clearly in the 19th-century
when he told reporters during the famous Homestead Steel Strike (1892) in Pennsylvania:
‘Class warfare, my ass! I could pay half of my employees to kill the other half!'
But perhaps socialism is like sex: the more you talk about it, the less you do it.
To test this thesis, we must abandon the formal neo-liberal rhetoric of the mortuary and look behind the bushes and on the byways, where there is a non-verbal activity going on, accompanied by occasional inarticulate murmurs . . . . It is not with words, but rather it is through actions that we can see the emergence of a post-capitalist society. Will the phrase-mongers and hypocrites soon be out of business?
Let Félix Guattari be our guide : Long live the socialists!
His book, Molecular Revolution, Psychiatry and Politics, is a remarkably candid collection of essays translated in the early 1980s, but originally written in the 1960s and early 70s, at the height of the anti-Vietnam war movement in Europe and America. This anthology, written by a militant psychoanalyst in the heat of action, offers a radical critique of the pervasive imposition of the imperialist imagination which oppresses all of us, and the governing power its collectively held fantasies wield over our daily lives. Guattari’s entire life (which ended unexpectedly with a heart attack at the age of 62, in August 1992, while he was investigating the use of psychoanalytic techniques in the Yugoslav wars) was part of a collective search for radical understanding of capitalist culture, and the role played by various collaborators in the corporate milieu, at the casino table of the MONOPOLY (REALITY) GAME OF ENSLAVEMENT. With Gilles Deleuze, the younger Guattari had researched the various operations lying at the origins of the crushing, historic ‘molar movement’ of Capitalist Growth, and as well the interstitial molecular movements of desires which are necessarily contrary to those forces of that dominant culture which serves to support the ruling corporate classes today. The above mentioned book by Guattari was published in England by Penguin Books in 1984, with an introduction written by the famous British anti-psychiatrist David Cooper, M.D. The essays in this collection are derived from articles and speeches that were published in Psychanalyse et transversalité (Maspero, 1972) and La Révolution moléculaire (Editions Recherches, Séries ‘Encre’, 1977). [Other books co-authored by Deleuze and Guattari include: Qu'est-ce que la philosophie ? (1995), L'anti-OEdipe : Capitalisme et schizophrénie (1972), and Mille plateaux : Capitalisme et schizophrénie tome 2 (1980).]
In his introduction to Molecular Revolution, Dr. Cooper concludes that, “as with Deleuze, [Guattari’s] totally explicit aim is to destructure a consciousness and a rationality over-sure of itself and thus too easy prey to subtle, and not so subtle, dogmatism.” Cooper goes on to testify that:
The boundaries between the forms of human and non-human matter that we encounter in the world are never that clear-cut. If we choose to follow Félix Guattari in his nomadism through regions of ambiguity it is because we glimpsed from very early on an eminently rewarding clarity that emerges through this highly original writing.(p.4)
As a psychoanalyst and a former student of Jacques Lacan (1901-1981), whom he successfully challenged and whose dominating presence he eventually was able to escape, Félix Guattari’s writings focus on ideology/culture and the grip it has on the collective imagination; but, most importantly, he maps out the cracks and crannies, the crevices in the edifice, where the survivors of capitalist domination and collaboration are actively producing new relationships.
It is always the mass of people who have created new forms of struggle: it was they who ‘invented’ soviets, they who set up ad hoc strike committees, they who first thought of occupations in 1936. The Party and the unions have systematically retreated from the creativity of the people; indeed, since the Stalin period, they have not merely retreated but have positively opposed innovation of any kind. One has only to recall the part played by Communists in France at the Liberation, when they used force as well as persuasion to reintegrate into the framework of the State all the new forms of struggle and organization that had emerged. This resulted in works committees without power, and a Social Security that is merely a form of delayed wages to be manipulated by management and the State so as to control the working class and so on. . . .
I would say that the revolutionary organization has become separated from the signifier of the working class’s discourse, and become instead closed in upon itself and antagonistic to any expression of subjectivity on the part of the various sub-wholes and groups, the subject groups spoken of by Marx. Group subjectivity can then express itself only by way of phantasy-making, which channels it off into the sphere of the imaginary. To be a worker, to be a young person, automatically means sharing a particular kind of (most inadequate) group phantasy. To be a militant worker, a militant revolutionary, means escaping from that imaginary world and becoming connected to the real texture of an organization, part of the prolongation of an open formalization of the historical process. In effect, the same text for analysis of society and its class contradictions extends into both the text of a theoretical/political system and the texture of the organization. There is thus a double articulation at three levels: that of the spontaneous, creative processes of the masses; that of their organizational expression; and that of the theoretical formulation of their historical and strategic aims.
Not having grasped this double articulation, the workers’ movement unknowingly falls into a bourgeois individualist ideology. In reality, a group is not just the sum of a number of individuals: the group does not move immediately from ‘I’ to ‘you’, from the leader to the rank and file, from the party to the masses. A subject group is not embodied in a delegated individual who can claim to speak on its behalf: it is primarily an intention to act, based on a provisional totalization and producing something true in the development of action. Unlike Althusser, the subject group is not a theoretician producing concepts; it produces signifiers, not signification; it produces the institution and institutionalization, not a party or line; it modifies the general direction of history, but does not claim to write it; it interprets the situation, and with its truth illuminates all the formulations coexisting simultaneously in the workers’ movement. . . .
This brings us to a more general problem: does ‘saying’ mean anything more than the production of its own sense? Surely, what the whole analysis of Capital makes clear is precisely that behind every process of production, circulation and consumption there is an order of symbolic production that constitutes the very fabric of every relationship of production, circulation and consumption, and of all the structural orders. It is impossible to separate the production of any consumer commodity form the institution that supports that production. The same can be said of teaching, training, research, etc. The state machine and the machine of repression produce anti-production, that is to say signifiers that exist to block and prevent the emergence of any subjective process on the part of the group. I believe we should think of repression, or the existence of the State, or bureaucratization, not as passive or inert, but as dynamic. Just as Freud could talk of the dynamic processes underlying psychic repression, so it must be understood that, like the odyssey of things returning to their ‘rightful place’, bureaucracies, churches, universities and other such bodies develop an entire ideology and set of phantasies of repression in order to counter the processes of social creation in every sphere.
The incapacity of the workers’ movement to analyze such institutions’ conditions of production, and their function of anti-production, dooms it to remain passive in the face of capitalist initiatives in that sphere. Consider, for instance, the university and the army. It may appear that all that is happening in a university is the transmission of messages, of bourgeois knowledge; but we know that in reality a lot else is also happening, including a whole operation of molding people to fit the key functions of bourgeois society and its regulatory images. In the army, at least the traditional army, not a great deal of what happens is put into words. But the State would hardly spend so much, year after year, on teaching young men just to march up and down; that is only a pretext: the real purpose is to train people and make them relate to one another, with a view to the clearly stated objective of discipline. Their training is not merely an apprenticeship in military techniques, but the establishment of a mechanism of subordination in their imaginations. Similar examples can be found in so-called primitive societies. . . . [And] phantasy mechanisms of this nature are still at work in capitalist society.
The workers’ movement seems to be peculiarly unfitted to recognize those mechanisms; it relates subjective processes to individual phenomena, and fails to recognize the series of phantasies which actually make up the real fabric of the whole organization and solidity of the masses. To achieve any understanding of social groups, one must get rid of one kind of rationalist-positivist vision of the individual (and of history). One must be capable of grasping the unities underlying historical phenomena, the modes of symbolic communication proper to groups (where there is often no mode of spoken contract), the systems that enable individuals not to lose themselves in interpersonal relationships, and so on. To me it is all reminiscent of a flock of migrating birds: it has its own structure, the shape it makes in the air, its function, its direction – and all determined without benefit of a single central committee meeting, or elaboration of a correct line. Generally speaking, our understanding of group phenomena is very inadequate. Primitive societies are collectively far better ethnologists than the scholars sent out to study them. . . . I do not think one can fully grasp the acts, attitudes or inner life of any group without grasping the thematic and functions of its ‘acting out’ phantasies. Hitherto the workers’ movement has functioned only by way of an idealist approach to these problems. There is, for instance, no description of the special characteristics of the working class that established the Paris Commune, no description of its creative imagination. Bourgeois historians offer such meaningless comments as that ‘the Hungarian workers were courageous’, and then pass on to a formal, self-enclosed analysis of the various elements if social groups as though they had no bearing on the problems of the class struggle or organizational strategy, and without reference to the fact that the laws governing the group’s formations of images are different in kind form contractual laws – like those relative to setting up a limited company, for instance, or the French Association Law of 1901. You cannot relate the sum of a group’s phansasy phenomena to any system of deductions working only with motivations made fully explicit at the rational level. There are some moments in history when repressed motives emerge, a whole phantasy order, that can be translated, among other things, into phenomena of collective identification with a leader – for instance Nazism. . . . [T]he great leaders of history were people who served as something on which to hand society’s phantasies. When Jojo, or Hitler, tells people to ‘be Jojos’ or ‘be Hitlers’, they are not speaking so much as circulating a particular kind of image to be used in the group: ‘Through that particular Jojo we shall find ourselves.’ But who actually says this? The whole point is that no one says it, because if one were to say it to oneself, it would become something different. At the level of the group’s phantasy structure, we no longer find language operating in this way, setting up an ‘I’ and an ‘Other’ through words and a system of significations. There is, to start with, a kind of solidification, a setting into a mass; this is us, and other people are different, and usually not worth bothering with – there is no communication possible. There is a territorialization of phantasy, an imagining of the group as a body, that absorbs subjectivity into itself. From this there flow all the phenomena of misunderstanding, racism, regionalism, nationalism, and other archaisms that have utterly defeated the understanding of social theorists.
. . .
[T]here is an every-increasing universality of scientific signifier’s; production becomes more worldwide every day; every advance in scholarship is taken up by researchers everywhere; it is conceivable that there might one day be a single upper-information-machine that could be used for hundreds of thousands of different researchers. In the scientific field, everything today is shared; the same is true of literature, art and so on. However, this does not mean that we are not witnessing a general drawing inwards in the field, not of the real, but the imaginary, and the imaginary at its most regressive. In fact, the two phenomena are complementary: it is just when there is most universality that we feel the need to return as far as possible to national and regional distinctness. The more capitalism follows its tendency to ‘de-code’ and ‘de-territorialize’, the more does it seek to awaken or re-awaken artificial territorialities and residual encodings, thus moving to counteract its own tendency.
How can we understand these group functions of the imaginary, and all their variations? How can we get away from that persistent couple: machinic universality and archaic particularity? . . . I say that the ‘subject group’ is articulated like a language and links itself to the sum of historical discourse, whereas the ‘dependent group’ is structured according to a spatial mode, and has a specifically imaginary mode of representation, that it is the medium of the group phantasies; in reality, however, we are dealing not so much with two sorts of group, but two functions, and the two may even coincide. A passive group can suddenly throw up a mode of subjectivity that develops a whole system of tensions, a whole internal dynamic. On the other hand, any subject group will have phases when it gets bogged down at the level of the imaginary: then, if it is to avoid becoming the prisoner of its own phantasies, its active principle must be recovered by way of a system of analytic interpretation. One might perhaps say that the ‘dependent group’ permanently represents a potential sub-whole of the ‘subject group’, and, as a counterpoint to the formulations of Lacan, one might add that only a partial, detached institutional object can provide it with a basis.
[Take, for example,] the Communist Party. Like its mass organization (trade unions, youth organizations, women’s organizations, etc.) the Party can be wholly manipulated by all the structures of a bourgeois State, and can work as a factor for integration. In a sense one can even say that the development of a modern, capitalist State needs such organizations of workers by workers in order to regulate the relations of production. The crushing of workers’ organizations in Spain after 1936 caused a considerable delay to the progress of Spanish capitalism, whereas the various ways of integrating the working class promoted in those countries that had popular fronts in 1936, or national fronts in 1945, enabled the State and the various social organizations introduced by the bourgeoisie to readjust, to produce new structures and new relations of production favouring the development of the capitalist economy as a whole (salary differentials, wages; bargaining over conditions, etc.).Thus one can see how, in a sense, the subordinate institutional object that the Party or the CGT (the Communist Trade Union Federation) represents as far as the working class are concerned helps to keep the capitalist structure in good repair.
On the other hand – and to explain this calls for a topological example of some complexity – that same passive institutional object, indirectly controlled by the bourgeoisie, may give rise within itself to the development of new processes of subjectivation. This is undoubtedly the case on the smallest scale, in the Party cell and the union chapel. The fact that the working class, once its revolutionary instincts have been aroused, persists in studying and getting to know itself through this development within a dependent group creates tensions and contradictions which, though not immediately visible to outsiders (not quoted in the press or the official statements of the leaders), still produce a whole range of fragmented but real subjectivation.
A group phantasy is not the same as an individual phantasy, or any sum of individual phantasies, or the phantasy of a particular group. Every individual phansasy leads back to the individual in his desiring solitude. But it can happen that a particular phantasy, originating within an individual or a particular group, becomes a kind of collective currency, put into circulation and providing a basis for group phantasizing. Similarly, as Freud pointed out, we pass from the order of neurotic structure to the stage of group formation. The group may, for instance, organize its phantasies around a leader, a successful figure, a doctor, or some such. That chosen individual plays the role of a kind of signifying mirror, upon which the collective phantasy-making is refracted. It may appear that a particular bureaucratic or maladjusted personality is working against the interests of the group, when in fact both his personality and his actions are interpreted only in terms of the group. This dialectic cannot be confined to the plane of the imaginary. Indeed, the split between the totalitarian ideal of the group and its various partial phantasy processes produces cleavages that may put the group in a position to escape from its ‘corporized’ and ‘spatializing’ phantasy representations. If the process that seems, at the level of the individual authority, to be over-determined and hedged in by the Oedipus complex is transposed to the level of group phantasizing, it actually introduces the possibility of a revolutionary re-ordering. In effect, identification with the prevailing images of the group is by no means always static . . . . (pp.32-38)
Most of us have been more or less forced to see today that bourgeois democracy and logical positivism are relics of a past era. If we continue to misidentify these fossils as contemporary life forms, it is at our own peril. Creative thinking has never been more important for our survival, nor has the combined application of scientific knowledge, philosophy and art in the hands of ordinary people been more essential. Developing skills of communication at a time when we have been ‘dumbed down’ by media and consumerism - while threatened with pandemic fear and alienation - is today a priority. Contradictions abound in the daily lives of all of us, and the voice of Guattari challenges us to grab the bull by the horns, so to speak; to overcome this passive state which is orchestrated by our would-be masters through their technology and controle of our imaginations.
At the end of this first essay, Guattari issues the following warning (The year is 1966 !) :
Either the revolutionary workers’ movement and the masses will recover their speech via collective agents of utterance that will guarantee that they are not caught up again in anti-production relations (as far as a work of analysis can be a guarantee), or matters will go from bad to worse. It is obvious that the bourgeoisie of present-day neo-capitalism are not a neo-bourgeoisie and are not going to become one: they are undoubtedly the stupidest that history has ever produced. They will not find an effective way out. They will keep trying to cobble things together, but always too late and irrelevantly, as with all their great projects to help what their experts coyly describe as the ‘developing countries’.
It is quite simple, then. Unless there is some drastic change, things are undoubtedly going to go very badly indeed, and in proportion as the cracks are a thousand times deeper than those that riddled the structure before 1939, we shall have to undergo fascisms a thousand times more frightful.(pp.43-44)
The 12 items below represent a fast-forward to the present, forty years and more after the Vietnam War debacle. Some of us might ask: What has been the logical progression of capitalist expansion since the 1970s? While others ask: What went wrong? Most of us by now understand only too well, that we are part of the system that we oppose –we are in this system and this system exists within us . . . . The ultimate question which all of us must learn to ask in these somber times is: What historic contradictions exist today that can serve to guide us in our emancipation from corporate domination?
Professor emeritus of American Studies
Director of Research
University of Paris-Nanterre
Center for the Advanced Study of American Institutions and Social Movements
The University of California-San Diego
Whistleblower Advocates: Stop Targeting the Messenger
In recent weeks, the Trump administration has taken on a much more aggressive tone towards whistleblowers and groups like Wikileaks, calling them 'hostile intelligence services' and saying that Julian Assange's arrest is a 'priority'
Steve Bannon on the Crisis of Capitalism and the Divine Right of Billionaires
Mathew Fox and Paul Jay discuss Bannon's alliance with the far-right Catholic Opus Dei, and his vision of the Judeo-Christian West.
Trump's Fascist Administration
In Case You Missed It
(Jan. 24, 2017)
by Jeremy Scahill
Jeremy Scahill speaks at the Anti-Inauguration event sponsored by Jacobin, Haymarket Books, and Verso Books. Recorded from The Lincoln Theatre in Washington, DC. Featuring Naomi Klein, Anand Gopal, Jeremy Scahill, Owen Jones, Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor. 01.24.2017
How Our Worlds Are Decided for Us From Behind the Computational Curtain
by John Cheney-Lippold
On websites like Facebook, our selves are not more free; they are more owned. And they are owned because we are now made of data.
NYT Cheers the Rise of Censorship Algorithms
by Robert Parry
The New York Times is cheering on the Orwellian future for Western “democracy” in which algorithms quickly hunt down and eliminate information that the Times and other mainstream outlets don’t like, reports Robert Parry.
Run for Your Life: The American Police State Is Coming to Get You
by John W. Whitehead
Ø “We’ve reached the point where state actors can penetrate rectums and vaginas, where judges can order forced catheterizations, and where police and medical personnel can perform scans, enemas and colonoscopies without the suspect’s consent. And these procedures aren’t to nab kingpins or cartels, but people who at worst are hiding an amount of drugs that can fit into a body cavity. In most of these cases, they were suspected only of possession or ingestion. Many of them were innocent... But these tactics aren’t about getting drugs off the street... These tactics are instead about degrading and humiliating a class of people that politicians and law enforcement have deemed the enemy.” - Radley Balko, The Washington Post
Ø Daily, all across America, individuals who dare to resist—or even question—a police order are being subjected to all sorts of government-sanctioned abuse ranging from forced catheterization, forced blood draws, roadside strip searches and cavity searches, and other foul and debasing acts that degrade their bodily integrity and leave them bloodied and bruised.
and held at gun point for not being quiet, not being orderly and just being childlike—i.e., not being compliant enough.
We Should Fear Trump More Than Ever
by Patrick Cockburn
Politicians and establishment media have greeted what they see as President Trump’s return to the norms of American foreign policy. They welcome the actual or threatened use of military force in Syria, Afghanistan and North Korea, and praise his appointment of a bevy of generals to senior security posts. A striking feature of Trump’s first 100 days was the way in which the campaign to demonize him and his entourage as creatures of the Kremlin was suddenly switched off like a light as soon as he retreated from his earlier radicalism.
In reality, the Trump administration should be more feared as a danger to world peace at the end of his first 100 days in office than it was at the beginning. This is because Trump in the White House empowers many of those who, so far from being “a safe pair of hands”, have led the US into a series of disastrous wars in the Middle East in the post 9/11 era. There is no reason to think that they have changed their ways or learned from past mistakes.
This point is understood better in the Middle East than in it is in the US and Europe. In Baghdad, for instance, people are worried because they see the US building towards a renewed confrontation with Iran, possibly reneging on the nuclear agreement with Tehran and trying to curtail or eliminate Iranian influence in Iraq. Jim Mattis, the Secretary for Defence and former Marine general, and HR McMaster, the National Security Adviser and a general with combat experience in Iraq, are both volubly anti-Iranian. For soldiers like McMaster, the US failure in Iraq was unnecessary and self-inflicted and they intend to reverse it.
US, Europe Unleashing Lawlessness and War
by Finian Cunningham
This week the Kiev regime went into rogue overdrive when it cut off electricity supplies to some three million people in the self-declared Lugansk republic of eastern Ukraine. The Ukrainian energy ministry under the control of the Kiev regime said it was because the breakaway province was in arrears over bill payments. That’s rich coming from a cabal that has continually dragged its feet over unpaid bills for billions of dollars-worth in gas supplies from Russia.
Explaining why today’s debt residue has turned the United States, Britain and southern Europe into zombie economies, Steve Keen’s new book, “Can We Avoid Another Financial Crisis?”, shows how ignoring debt - the blind spot of neoliberal economics – is basically the old neoclassic ‘just-pretend’ view of the world, whose glib ‘mathiness’ is a gloss for its unscientific ‘don’t worry about debt’ message. Blame for today’s U.S., British and southern European inability to achieve economic recovery thus rests on the economic mainstream and its refusal to recognize that debt matters.
by Peter Koenig
When in the 18th and 19th Century African slaves did not ‘behave’, they were cruelly beaten sometimes to death as a deterrent for others. They were deprived of food for their families. Their women were raped. They were traded to even harsher white masters. Their lives were worth only what their labor could produce. They were treated as subjects, devoid of human warmth.
Deux Candidats et la Recomposition Politique
by Diana Johnstone
On vit dans un monde de plus en plus fictif, où l’imaginaire collectif est soigneusement guidé vers le rappel constant des « heures les plus sombres de notre histoire ». On exhorte les électeurs à voter pour « faire barrage » à un fantasme du passé en s’imaginant être des « résistants ». En réalité, en « résistant » aux menaces du passé on se livre allègrement aux pires dangers du présent.
Entre les cris d’orfraie et les larmes hypocrites, un peu d’analyse serait rafraichissant. Examinons à tête froide les différences entre les deux candidats en lice.