neoliberalism

Populists Are on the Rise but This Can Be a Moment for Progressives Too

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 23/10/2018 - 5:30am in

Neoliberalism has created genuine grievances, exploited by the radical right. The left must find a new way to articulate them

By Chantal Mouffe
The Guardian

Sept 10, 2018 – These are unsettled times for democratic politics. Shocked by the victory of Eurosceptic coalitions in Austria and in Italy, the neoliberal elites – already worried by the Brexit vote and the victory of Donald Trump – now claim democracy is in danger and raise the alarm against a possible return of “fascism”.

There is no denying that western Europe is currently witnessing a “populist moment”. This arises from the multiplication of anti-establishment movements, which signal a crisis of neoliberal hegemony. This crisis might indeed open the way for more authoritarian governments, but it can also provide the opportunity for reclaiming and deepening the democratic institutions that have been weakened by 30 years of neoliberalism.

Our current post-democratic condition is the product of several phenomena. The first one, which I call “post-politics”, is the blurring of frontiers between right and left. It is the result of the consensus established between parties of centre-right and centre-left on the idea that there was no alternative to neoliberal globalisation. Under the imperative of “modernisation”, social democrats have accepted the diktats of globalised financial capitalism and the limits it imposes on state intervention and public policies.

Politics has become a mere technical issue of managing the established order, a domain reserved for experts. The sovereignty of the people, a notion at the heart of the democratic ideal, has been declared obsolete. Post-politics only allows for an alternation in power between the centre-right and the centre-left. The confrontation between different political projects, crucial for democracy, has been eliminated.

This post-political evolution has been characterised by the dominance of the financial sector, with disastrous consequences for the productive economy. This has been accompanied by privatisation and deregulation policies that, jointly with the austerity measures imposed after the 2008 crisis, have provoked an exponential increase in inequality.

The working class and the already disadvantaged are particularly affected, but also a significant part of the middle classes, who have become poorer and more insecure.

In recent years, various resistance movements have emerged. They embody what Karl Polanyi presented in The Great Transformation as a “countermovement”, by which society reacts against the process of marketisation and pushes for social protection. This countermovement, he pointed out, could take progressive or regressive forms. This ambivalence is also true of today’s populist moment. In several European countries those resistances have been captured by rightwing parties that have articulated, in a nationalistic and xenophobic vocabulary, the demands of those abandoned by the centre-left. Rightwing populists proclaim they will give back to the people the voice that has been captured by the “elites”. They understand that politics is always partisan and requires an us/them confrontation. Furthermore, they recognise the need to mobilise the realm of emotion and sentiment in order to construct collective political identities. Drawing a line between the “people” and the “establishment”, they openly reject the post-political consensus.

Those are precisely the political moves that most parties of the left feel unable to make, owing to their consensual concept of politics and the rationalistic view that passions have to be excluded. For them, only rational debate is acceptable. This explains their hostility to populism, which they associate with demagogy and irrationality. Alas, the challenge of rightwing populism will not be met by stubbornly upholding the post-political consensus and despising the “deplorables”.

It is vital to realise that the moral condemnation and demonisation of rightwing populism is totally counterproductive – it merely reinforces anti-establishment feelings among those who lack a vocabulary to formulate what are, at core, genuine grievances.

Classifying rightwing populist parties as “extreme right” or “fascist”, presenting them as a kind of moral disease and attributing their appeal to a lack of education is, of course, very convenient for the centre-left. It allows them to dismiss any populists’ demands and to avoid acknowledging responsibility for their rise.

The only way to fight rightwing populism is to give a progressive answer to the demands they are expressing in a xenophobic language. This means recognising the existence of a democratic nucleus in those demands and the possibility, through a different discourse, of articulating those demands in a radical democratic direction.

This is the political strategy that I call “left populism”. Its purpose is the construction of a collective will, a “people” whose adversary is the “oligarchy”, the force that sustains the neoliberal order.

It cannot be formulated through the left/right cleavage, as traditionally configured. Unlike the struggles characteristic of the era of Fordist capitalism, when there was a working class that defended its specific interests, resistances have developed beyond the industrial sector. Their demands no longer correspond to defined social groups. Many touch on questions related to quality of life and intersect with issues such as sexism, racism and other forms of domination. With such diversity, the traditional left/right frontier can no longer articulate a collective will.

To bring these diverse struggles together requires establishing a bond between social movements and a new type of party to create a “people” fighting for equality and social justice.

Forget Trump – populism is the cure, not the disease

We find such a political strategy in movements such as Podemos in Spain, La France Insoumise of Jean-Luc Mélenchon, or Bernie Sanders in the US. This also informs the politics of Jeremy Corbyn, whose endeavour to transform the Labour party into a great popular movement, working “for the many, not the few”, has already succeeded in making it the greatest left party in Europe.

Those movements seek to come to power through elections, but not in order to establish a “populist regime”. Their goal is to recover and deepen democratic institutions. This strategy will take different forms: it could be called “democratic socialism”, “eco-socialism”, “liberal socialism” or “participatory democracy”, depending on the different national context. But what is important, whatever the name, is that “democracy” is the signifier around which these struggles are articulated, and that political liberal institutions are not discarded.

The process of radicalising democratic institutions will no doubt include moments of rupture and a confrontation with the dominant economic interests. It is a radical reformist strategy with an anti-capitalist dimension, but does not require relinquishing liberal democratic institutions.

I am convinced that in the next few years the central axis of the political conflict will be between rightwing populism and leftwing populism, and it is imperative that progressive sectors understand the importance of involving themselves in that struggle.

The popularity in the June 2017 parliamentary elections of Mélenchon, François Ruffin and other candidates of La France Insoumise – including in Marseille and Amiens, previous strongholds of Marine Le Pen – shows that when an egalitarian discourse is available to express their grievances, many people join the progressive struggle. Conceived around radical democratic objectives, populism, far from being a perversion of democracy – a view that the forces defending the status quo try to impose by disqualifying as “extremists” all those who oppose the post-political consensus – constitutes in today’s Europe the best political strategy for reviving and expanding our democratic ideals.

Chantal Mouffe is professor of political theory at the University of Westminster

The Real News on Labour’s Plan For Nationalisation and Workplace Democracy

In this 15 minute video from the Baltimore-based The Real News network, host Aaron Mate talks to Leon Panitch, professor of political science at York University about the proposals announced at the Labour party’s conference last month that Labour intended to renationalize some of the privatized utilities, introduce profit-sharing schemes and workplace democracy in firms with over 250 members, in which 1/3 of the board would be elected by the workers.

The video includes a clip of John McDonnell announcing these policies, declaring that they are the greatest extension of economic democratic rights that this country has ever seen. He states that it starts in the workplace, and that it is undeniable that the balance of power is tipped against the worker. The result is long hours, low productivity, low pay and the insecurity of zero hours contracts. He goes on to say that Labour will redress this balance. They will honour the promise of the late Labour leader, John Smith, that workers will have full union rights from day one whether in full time, part time or temporary work. They will lift people out of poverty by setting a real living wage of ten pounds an hour.

McDonnell also says that they believe that workers, who create the wealth of a company, should share in its ownership and the returns that it makes. Employee ownership increases productivity and improves long-term decision making. Legislation will be passed, therefore, for large firms to transfer shares into an inclusive ownership fund. The shares will be held and managed collectively by the workers. The shareholders will give the workers the same rights as other shareholders to have a say over the direction of their company. And dividend payments will be made directly to the workers from the fund.

Commenting on these proposals, Panitch says that in some ways they’re not surprising. McDonnell stated that Labour would inherit a mess. But his remarks were different in that usually governments use the fact that they will inherit a mess not to go through with radical policies. Panitch then talks about Labour’s commitment to bring the public utilities – rail, water, electricity, the post office – public ownership, pointing out that these used to be publicly owned before Thatcher privatized them. McDonnell particularly focused on water, before going beyond it, citing the 1918 Labour party constitution’s Clause IV, which Blair had removed. This is the clause committing the Labour party to the common ownership of the means of production, distribution and exchange, under the best form of popular administration. And unlike previous nationalized industries, these will be as democratically-run as possible. Councils would be set up in the water sector made up of representatives of the local community and workers’ representatives to be a supervisory council over the managers in the nationalized water industry.

They then go to a clip of McDonnell talking about the nationalization of the utilities. McDonnell states that the renationalization of the utilities will be another extension of economic democracy. He states that this has proved its popularity in opinion poll after opinion poll. And it’s not surprising. Water privatization is a scandal. Water bills have risen by 40 per cent in real terms since privatization. 18 billion pounds has been paid out in dividends. Water companies receive more in tax credits than they pay in tax. And each day enough water to meet the needs of 20 million people is lost due to leaks. ‘With figures like that’, he concludes, ‘we cannot afford not to take it back into popular ownership’.

Mate and Panitch then move on to discussing the obstacles Labour could face in putting these policies into practice, most particularly from the City of London, which Panitch describes as ‘the Wall Street of Britain’, but goes on to say that in some ways its even more central to financialized global capitalism. However, Panitch says that ‘one gets the sense’ that the British and foreign bourgeoisie have resigned themselves to these industries being brought back into public ownership. And in so far as bonds will be issued to compensate for their nationalization, McDonnell has got the commitment from them to float and sell them. He therefore believes that there won’t be much opposition on this front, even from capital. He believes that there will be more resistance to Labour trying to get finance to move from investing in property to productive industry.

He then moves on to talk about Labour’s plans for ten per cent of the stock of firms employing 250 or more people to go into a common fund, the dividends from which would passed on to the workers up to 500 pounds a year. Anything above that would be paid to the treasury as a social fund for meeting the needs of British people and communities more generally. Panitch states that this has already produced a lot of squawking from the Confederation of British Industry. Going to giving workers a third of the seats on the boards, Panitch states that it has already been said that it will lead to a flight of capital out of Britain. He discusses how this proposal can be radical but also may not be. It could lead to the workers’ representatives on these boards making alliances with the managers which are narrow and particular to that firm. The workers get caught up in the competitiveness of that firm, it stock prices and so on. He makes the point that it’s hardly the same thing as the common ownership of the means of production to have workers’ sitting on the boards of private companies, or even from workers’ funds to be owning shares and getting dividends from them. Nevertheless, it is a step in the right direction of socializing the economy more generally, and giving workers the capacity and encouraging them to decide what can be produced, where it’s produced, and what can be invested. And if it really scares British and foreign capital, this raises the question of whether they will have to introduce capital controls. Ultimately, would they have to bring the capital sector into the public sphere as a public utility, as finance is literally the water that forms the basis of the economy?

Mate then asks him about Labour’s refusal to hold a second referendum on Brexit, which angered some activists at the conference. Labour said that any second referendum could only be about the terms of the exit. Panitch states that people wanting Britain to remain in a capitalist Europe try to spin this as the main priority of the party’s members, even Momentum. He states that this is not the case at all, and that if you asked most delegates at the conference, most Labour members and members of Momentum, which they would prefer, a socialist Britain or a capitalist Europe, they would prefer a socialist Britain. The people leading the Remain campaign on the other hand aren’t remotely interested in a socialist Britain, and think it’s romantic nonsense at best. He states that the Corbyn leadership has said that they want a general election as they could secure an arrangement with Europe that would be progressive without necessarily being in Europe. They would accept the single market and a progressive stand on immigration rather than a reactionary one. They did not wish to endorse a referendum, which the Tories would have the power to frame the question. And this is particularly because of the xenophobic and racist atmosphere one which the initial Brexit vote was based. Panitch states that he is a great critic of the European Union, but he would have voted to remain because the debate was being led by the xenophobic right. He ends by saying that capital is afraid of the Trumps of this world, and it is because of the mess the right has made of things here in Britain with the Brexit campaign that capital might give a little bit more space for a period at least to a Corbyn government.

This latter section on Brexit is now largely obsolete because Labour has said it will support a second referendum. However, it does a good job of explaining why many Labour supporters did vote for Brexit. The editor of Lobster, Robin Ramsay, is also extremely critical of the European Union because of the way neoliberalism and a concern for capital and privatization is so much a part of its constitution.

Otherwise, these are very, very strong policies, and if they are implemented, will be a very positive step to raising people out of poverty and improving the economy. Regarding the possibility that the representatives of the workers on the company boards would ally themselves with capital against the workers, who put them there, has long been recognized by scholars discussing the issue of workers’ control of industry. It was to stop this happening that the government of the former Yugoslavia insisted that regular elections should be held with limited periods of service so that the worker-directors would rotate. Ha-Joon Chan in his books criticizing neoliberal economics also makes the points that in countries like France and Germany, where the state owns a larger proportion of firms and workers are involved in their companies through workers’ control, there is far more long-term planning and concern for the companies success. The state and the workers have a continuing, abiding interest in these firms success, which is not the case with ordinary investors, who will remove their money if they think they can get a better return elsewhere.

My concern is that these policies will be undermined by a concentrated, protracted economic warfare carried out against the Labour party and the success of these policies by capital, the CBI and the Tories, just as the Tories tried to encourage their friends in industry to do in speeches from Tweezer’s chancellors. These policies are desperately needed, but the Tory party and the CBI are eager to keep British workers, the unemployed and disabled in poverty and misery, in order to maintain their control over them and maximise profits.

Michel Feher: Rated Agency – 28th November

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 17/10/2018 - 12:46am in

Launch of Rated Agency: Investee Politics in a Speculative Age by Michel Feher
Co-hosted with Centre for Research Architecture

5-7pm 28th November
RHB 312, Goldsmiths
Will Davies, Michel Feher, Suhail Malik, Angela McRobbie, Louis Moreno, Emily Rosamond

The hegemony of finance compels a new orientation for everyone and everything: companies care more about the moods of their shareholders than about longstanding commercial success; governments subordinate citizen welfare to appeasing creditors; and individuals are concerned less with immediate income from labor than appreciation of their capital goods, skills, connections, and reputations.

That firms, states, and people depend more on their ratings than on the product of their activities also changes how capitalism is resisted. For activists, the focus of grievances shifts from the extraction of profit to the conditions under which financial institutions allocate credit. While the exploitation of employees by their employers has hardly been curbed, the power of investors to select investees — to decide who and what is deemed creditworthy — has become a new site of social struggle.

In clear and compelling prose, Michel Feher explains the extraordinary shift in conduct and orientation generated by financialization. Above all, he articulates the new political resistances and aspirations that investees draw from their rated agency.

Rated Agency Zone Books

The post Michel Feher: Rated Agency – 28th November appeared first on Political Economy Research Centre.

Balancing Act

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 11/10/2018 - 3:00pm in

If two recent analyses of populism agree on one thing, it’s that democracy and capitalism have fallen out of balance. Less clear is how—or whether—the truce between them should be restored.

Who Doesn’t Love Identity Politics?

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Mon, 08/10/2018 - 9:05pm in

If there is one thing that still unites Americans across the ever more intellectually suffocating and bitterly polarized political spectrum our imaginations have been crammed into like rush hour commuters on the Tokyo Metro, it’s our undying love of identity politics.

Who doesn’t love identity politics? Liberals love identity politics. Conservatives love identity politics. Political parties love identity politics. Corporations love identity politics. Advertisers, anarchists, white supremacists, Wall Street bankers, Hollywood producers, Twitter celebrities, the media, academia … everybody loves identity politics.

Why do we love identity politics? We love them for many different reasons.

The ruling classes love identity politics because they keep the working classes focused on race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, religion, and so on, and not on the fact that they (i.e., the working classes) are, essentially, glorified indentured servants, who will spend the majority of their sentient existences laboring to benefit a ruling elite that would gladly butcher their entire families and sell their livers to hepatitic Saudi princes if they could get away with it. Dividing the working classes up into sub-groups according to race, ethnicity, and so on, and then pitting these sub-groups against each other, is extremely important to the ruling classes, who are, let’s remember, a tiny minority of intelligent but physically vulnerable parasites controlling the lives of the vast majority of human beings on the planet Earth, primarily by keeping them ignorant and confused.

The political parties love identity politics because they allow them to conceal the fact that they are bought and paid for by these ruling classes, which, in our day and age, means corporations and a handful of obscenely wealthy oligarchs who would gut you and your kids like trout and sell your organs to the highest bidder if they thought they could possibly get away with it. The political parties employ identity politics to maintain the simulation of democracy that prevents Americans (many of whom are armed) from coming together, forming a mob, dismantling this simulation of democracy, and then attempting to establish an actual democracy, of, by, and for the people, which is, basically, the ruling classes’ worst nightmare. The best way to avoid this scenario is to keep the working classes ignorant and confused, and at each other’s throats over things like pronouns, white privilege, gender appropriate bathrooms, and the complexion and genitalia of the virtually interchangeable puppets the ruling classes allow them to vote for.

The corporate media, academia, Hollywood, and the other components of the culture industry are similarly invested in keeping the vast majority of people ignorant and confused. The folks who populate this culture industry, in addition to predicating their sense of self-worth on their superiority to the unwashed masses, enjoy spending time with the ruling classes, and reaping the many benefits of serving them … and, while most of them wouldn’t personally disembowel your kids and sell their organs to some dope-addled Saudi trillionaire scion, they would look the other way while the ruling classes did, and then invent some sort of convoluted rationalization of why it was necessary, in order to preserve democracy and freedom (or was some sort of innocent but unfortunate “blunder,” which will never, ever, happen again).

The fake Left loves identity politics because they allow them to pretend to be “revolutionary” and spout all manner of “militant” gibberish while posing absolutely zero threat to the ruling classes they claim to be fighting. Publishing fake Left “samizdats” (your donations to which are tax-deductible), sanctimoniously denouncing racism on Twitter, milking whatever identity politics scandal is making headlines that day, and otherwise sounding like a slightly edgier version of National Public Radio, are all popular elements of the fake Left repertoire.

Marching along permitted parade routes, assembling in designated “free speech areas,” and listening to speeches by fake Left celebrities and assorted Democratic Party luminaries, are also well-loved fake Left activities. For those who feel the need to be even more militant, pressuring universities to cancel events where potentially “violent” and “oppressive” speech acts (or physical gestures) might occur, toppling offensive historical monuments, ratting out people to social media censors, or masking up and beating the crap out of “street Nazis” are among the available options. All of these activities, by herding potential troublemakers into fake Left ghettos and wasting their time, both on- and off-line, help to ensure that the ruling classes, their political puppets, the corporate media, Hollywood, and the rest of the culture industry can keep most people ignorant and confused.

Oh, and racists, hardcore white supremacists, anti-Semites, and other far-Right wing nuts … my God, do they love identity politics! Identity politics are their entire worldview (or Weltanschauung, for you Nazi fetishists). Virtually every social, political, economic, and ontological phenomenon can be explained by reducing it to race, ethnicity, religion, or some other simplistic criterion, according to these “alt-Right” geniuses. And to render everything even more simplistic, each and every one of their simplistic theories can be subsumed into a meta-simplistic theory, which amounts to (did you guess it?) a conspiracy of Jews.

According to this meta-theory, this conspiracy of Jews (which is headquartered in Israel, but maintains offices in Los Angeles and New York, from which it controls the corporate media, Hollywood, and the entire financial sector) is responsible for … well, anything they can think of. September 11 attacks? Conspiracy of Jews. Financial crisis? Jews, naturally. Black on Black crime? Jews again! Immigration? Globalization? Gun control laws? Abortion? Drugs? Media bias? Who else could be behind it all but Jews?!

See, the thing is, there is no essential difference between your identity politics-brainwashed liberal and your Swastika-tattooed white supremacist. Both are looking at the world through the lens of race, gender, sexual orientation, religion, or some other type of “identity.” They are looking through this “identity” lens (whichever one it happens to be) because either they have been conditioned to do so (most likely from the time they were children) or they have made a conscious choice to do so (after recognizing, and affirming or rejecting, whatever conditioning they received as children).

Quantum physicists, Sufi fakirs, and certain other esoterics understand what most of us don’t, namely, that there is no such thing as “the Truth,” or “Reality,” apart from our perception of it. The world, or “reality,” or whatever you want to call it, is more than happy to transform itself into any imaginable shape and form, based on the lens you are looking at it through. It’s like a trickster in that regard. Look at “reality” through a racist lens, and everything will make sense according to that logic. Look at it through a social justice lens, or a Judeo-Christian lens, or a Muslim lens, or a scientific or a Scientologist lens, or a historical materialist or capitalist lens (it really makes no difference at all) … and abracadabra! A new world is born!

Sadly, most of us never reach the stage in our personal (spiritual?) development where we are able to make a conscious choice about which lens we want to view the world through. Mostly, we stick with the lens we were originally issued by our families and societies. Then we spend the rest of our fleeting lives desperately insisting that our perspective is “the Truth,” and that other perspectives are either “lies” or “errors.” The fact that we do this is unsurprising, as the ruling classes (of whatever society we happened to be born and socialized into) are intensely invested in issuing everyone a “Weltanschauung lens” that corresponds to whatever narrative they are telling themselves about why they deserve to be the ruling classes and we deserve to exist to serve them, fight their wars, pay interest on their loans, not to mention rent to live on the Earth, which they have claimed as their own and divided up amongst themselves to exploit and ruin, which they justify with “laws” they invented, which they enforce with armies, police, and prisons, which they teach us as children to believe is “just the way life is” … but I digress.

So, who doesn’t love identity politics? Well, I don’t love identity politics. But then I tend to view political events in the context of enormous, complex systems operating beyond the level of the individuals and other entities such systems comprise. Thus I’ve kind of been keeping an eye on the restructuring of the planet by global capitalism that started in the early 1990s, following the collapse of the U.S.S.R., when global capitalism (not the U.S.A.) became the first globally hegemonic system in the history of aspiring hegemonic systems.

Now, this system (i.e., capitalism, not the U.S.A), being globally hegemonic, has no external enemies, so what it’s been doing since it became hegemonic is aggressively destabilizing and restructuring the planet according to its systemic needs (most notably in the Middle East, but also throughout the rest of the world), both militarily and ideologically. Along the way, it has encountered some internal resistance, first, from the Islamic “terrorists,” more recently, from the so-called “nationalists” and “populists,” none of whom seem terribly thrilled about being destabilized, restructured, privatized, and debt-enslaved by global capitalism, not to mention relinquishing what remains of their national sovereignty, and their cultures, and so on.

I’ve been writing about this for over two years, so I am not going to rehash it all in detail here (this essay is already rather long). The short version is, what we are currently experiencing (i.e., Brexit, Trump, Italy, Hungary, et cetera, the whole “populist” or “nationalist” phenomenon) is resistance (an insurgency, if you will) to hegemonic global capitalism, which is, essentially, a values-decoding machine, which eliminates “traditional” (i.e., despotic) values (e.g., religious, cultural, familial, societal, aesthetic, and other such non-market values) and replaces them with a single value, exchange value, rendering everything a commodity.

The fact that I happen to be opposed to some of those “traditional” values (i.e., racism, anti-Semitism, oppression of women, homosexuals, and so on) does not change my perception of the historical moment, or the sociopolitical, sociocultural, and economic forces shaping that moment. God help me, I believe it might be more useful to attempt to understand those forces than to go around pointing and shrieking at anyone who doesn’t conform to my personal views like the pod people in Invasion of the Body Snatchers.

But that’s the lens I choose to look through. Maybe I’ve got it all assbackwards. Maybe what is really going on is that Russia “influenced” everyone into voting for Brexit and Donald Trump, and hypnotized them all with those Facebook ads into hating women, people of color, transsexuals, and the Jews, of course, and all that other “populist” stuff, because the Russians hate us for our freedom, and are hell-bent on destroying democracy and establishing some kind of neo-fascist, misogynist, pseudo-Atwoodian dystopia. Or, I don’t know, maybe the other side is right, and it really is all a conspiracy of Jews … transsexual, immigrant Jews of color, who want to force us all to have late-term abortions and circumcise our kids, or something.

I wish I could help you sort all that out, but I’m just a lowly political satirist, and not an expert on identity politics or anything. I’m afraid you’ll have to pick a lens through which to interpret “reality” yourself. But then, you already have, haven’t you … or are you still looking through the one that was issued to you?

#

CJ Hopkins
October 8, 2018
Photo: The United Colors of Benetton

CJ Hopkins Summer 2018 thumbnailDISCLAIMER: The preceding essay is entirely the work of our in-house satirist and self-appointed political pundit, CJ Hopkins, and does not reflect the views and opinions of the Consent Factory, Inc., its staff, or any of its agents, subsidiaries, or assigns. If, for whatever inexplicable reason, you appreciate Mr. Hopkins’ work and would like to support it, please go to his Patreon page (where you can contribute as little $1 per month), or send your contribution to his PayPal account, so that maybe he’ll stop coming around our offices trying to hit our staff up for money. Alternatively, you could purchase his satirical dystopian novel, Zone 23, which we understand is pretty gosh darn funny, or any of his subversive stage plays, which won some awards in Great Britain and Australia. If you do not appreciate Mr. Hopkins’ work and would like to write him an abusive email, please feel free to contact him directly.

Private Eye: Have We Left-Wing Bloggers Touched a Nerve?

I’ve posted a number of articles over the past couple of years criticizing Private Eye for its anti-Corbyn bias amongst other issues. I’ve pointed out that, while I’ve now gone back to reading it, I stopped for a period a little while ago because I was just so sick of its constant attacks on Corbyn as a Trotskyite, member of the Hard Left, anti-Semite and so on. And it seems I wasn’t alone. In this fortnight’s issue for 5 – 18 October 2018, the satirical magazine has taken aim at left-wing bloggers boycotting Private Eye and the Guardian through their ‘Dave Spart’ character.

Spart is a caricature of the militant, barely articulate and ideologically confused far-left activist, and has been a staple of the magazine since at least the 1980s, if not long before. His rants appear as an ‘Alternative Voice’ column. And this issue’s column, on page 30, runs as follows

Long-term Private Eye contributor Dave Spart calls for a boycott of Private Eye

Yet again we see the sickening neoliberal hegemony of the fascist Private Eye as its faux anti-establishment public schoolboys completely persecute and smear the millions and billions of ordinary working and non-working British people who are revolutionizing the way this country … and … er … we call for this boycott of Private Eye … due to its manifestly alt-right anti-Corbynist policies … er … in fact even the word “boycott” with the implicit phallocentricity inherent in the world “boy” and its troubling narrative of penetrative male action is deeply problematic and should be replaced instead by the neutral term “personcott”; hence we will be peroncotting Private Eye and the Guardian and er … er … we have the total support of many hugely popular modern leftist websites and media outlets allied with us, including leftsquelch.org, skwawkybudgie.geocities, and redbloodoftraitorblairistscum.blogspont, and we will not rest until all of us are united in a positive and friendly campaign to destroy the neo-Blairist agendum of the disgraced Soho junta and its so-called (That’s enough Spart. Ed.)

The websites mentioned in Spart’s rant sound like spoof versions of real sites. Leftsquelch could be a version of Left Foot Forward, skwawkiebudgie is a spoof amalgam of the Skwawkox and the Canary, and redbloodoftraitorblairistscum could be just about every leftwing blog that sees Blair and his followers for what they actually are, Thatcherite entryists rather than true supporters of the Labour party and its traditional values.

The piece about boycotting the Guardian clearly comes from the hashtag campaign on Twitter calling for a boycott of the Groan between 7 and 9 pm on the 28th September 2018, a few days ago. This went to no.1 on Twitter after the hacks at the paper went berserk at the thought that the Canary’s editor in chief, Kerry-Anne Mendoza, was going to give the speech at a memorial lecture for a pioneering Black woman journo. Obviously that campaign and its success has also touched a deep nerve with the Eye and its contributors, if not also with the hacks of that ailing rag.

But there’s also much that the Eye’s caricature left out. Private Eye hasn’t just attacked Corbyn and his followers as Trotskyites. It also appears to support the anti-Semite smears against them, as I also blogged about. Last issue, the Eye published a piece attempting to rebut Dorothy Macedo’s claim in her letter to the Eye the previous week, that the anti-Semitism smears were baseless libels. The Eye instead claimed that Momentum believed that there was more anti-Semitism in the party than they had believed. This is the view of Jon Lansman, Momentum’s chief, but it’s not the view of many of its members, of which Macedo herself is one, nor of Jewish Labour party and socialist organizations like Jewish Voice for Labour, Jewdas, and the Jewish Socialist Group. But they’re the wrong kind of Jews, so the establishment and the press, including Private Eye, ignore them or, like the Jewish Chronicle, simply smears them in turn as anti-Semites.

It’s interesting to note that Spart talks about the Eye and the Groan smearing working and non-working people, but doesn’t mention the smears themselves. Which are that Corbyn and his supporters are all Trots and anti-Semites. Clearly the Eye finds it difficult to back up the smear that they’re all Trotskyites with any supporting evidence. The Spart character frequently contradicts himself, and if the Eye felt it was able to provide any evidence to rebut the assertion that it was all a smear, it would have done so, putting it in Spart’s mouth as part of the denial. They might have made him say something along the lines of

Yet again we see the sickening neoliberal hegemony of the fascist Private Eye as its faux anti-establishment public schoolboys completely persecute and smear as Trotskyites the millions and billions of ordinary working and non-working British people who are revolutionizing the way this country through the principles of Leon Trotsky … er … er…. Or something like that. (My additions highlighted in black.)

Nor did they mention the other, rather more pernicious libel directed at Corbyn and his supporters: that they’re all anti-Semites. That libel is clearly so deeply engrained in the British press, that it can’t even be publicly claimed to be so, even in jest.

Now I doubt that Hislop and co. at the Eye are even aware that this blog even exists, much less care about what it says. But from reading the article, it’s clear that other, much larger and popular blogs are saying the same things I am, that they have got the Eye worried. Hence the spoof. And however much it’s disguised as satire, the Eye and the Groaniad are clearly worried by the power of the Net and new media, and particularly by the backlash against the Groan’s sour attitude towards Kerry-Anne Mendoza. Mendoza’s an outsider, coming from on-line, not print journalism. The Canary is popular and widely read. She and it are a challenge to established, and establishment print journalism and its groupthink. And she and the rest of the New Media and their readers, followers and commenters showed how powerful they were through the wave of immense support for the hashtag campaign against the Guardian.

Private Eye is partly based on the magazine revealing news and information that it is not revealed elsewhere in the press, and by providing the ‘news behind the news’ about stories in the press, and politics, business, the unions and so on. But thanks to the internet, there are other, online news sites and organisations doing the same thing, and reading them also reveals the Eye’s own bias.

And so despite the satirical jollity, the Eye and the Guardian are worried. And the Spart piece today shows it.

Seizing the Means of Reproduction

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Mon, 24/09/2018 - 2:00pm in

Unrecognized, often unpaid, and yet utterly necessary, reproductive labor is everywhere in our lives. Can it form the basis for a renewed radical politics?

Down with the Working Classes!

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 21/09/2018 - 7:23pm in

If the Left is ever going to come together to save the world from Donald Trump and his legions of fascistic Putin-Nazis, we’re going to need to confront our primary enemy … the international working classes. Yes, my comrades, I’m afraid it’s time to face the facts, depressing as they are. The working classes are not our friends. Just look at how they’ve been betraying us … and after all we’ve done for them all these years! This cannot be allowed to continue, not if we are going to rescue democracy from Trump, Putin, Assad, the Iranians, and Palestinian kids with terrorist kites, and eventually stem the blood-dimmed tide of neo-fascist anti-Globalism!

Now, OK, I know you’re probably asking, “how can the international working classes possibly be the enemy of the Left?” and “wouldn’t that render the whole concept of the Left completely absurd and essentially meaningless?” and other pertinent questions like that. And that’s totally fine, you’re allowed to ask that. Questioning aspects of the official narrative the ruling classes are forcing everyone to conform to like members of a worldwide cult doesn’t make you a Nazi or anything. It’s perfectly OK to ask such questions, as long as you don’t continue to ask them, over and over, and over again, after the facts have been explained to you. Here are those facts, one more time.

The international working classes are racists. They are misogynists. Xenophobic transphobes. They do not think the way we want them to. Some of them actually still believe in God. They are white supremacists. Anti-Semites. Gun-toting, Confederate-flag-flying rednecks. Most of them have never even heard of terms like “intersectionality,” “TERF,” and so on. They do not respect the corporate media. They think that news sources like the Washington Post, The New York Times, The Guardian, CNN, MSNBC, BBC, and so on, are basically propaganda outlets for the global corporations and oligarchs who own them, and thus are essentially no different from FOX, whose pundits they believe every word of. Their minds are so twisted by racism and xenophobia that they can’t understand how global capitalism, the graduated phase-out of national sovereignty, the privatization of virtually everything, the debt-enslavement of nearly everyone, and the replacement of their so-called “cultures” with an ubiquitous, smiley-faced, gender-neutral, non-oppressive, corporate-friendly, Disney simulation of culture are actually wonderfully progressive steps forward on the road to a more peaceful, less offensive world.

Now this has been proved in numerous studies with all kinds of charts and graphs and so on. And not only by the corporate statisticians, and the corporate media, and liberal think tanks. Why, just this week, Mehdi Hasan, in an exasperated jeremiad in the pages of The Intercept, that bastion of fearless, adversarial journalism owned by billionaire Pierre Omidyar, proved, once again, that Donald Trump was elected because PEOPLE ARE GODDAMN RACISTS!

Apparently, Hasan has just about had it with these Putin-loving Trump-apologists proposing that general dissatisfaction with global capitalism, neoliberalism, and identity politics could have had anything to do with Americans electing a bombastic ass clown with absolutely no political experience to the highest office in the land. Hasan cites a number of expert studies, among them one by the Democracy Fund, which just happens to be another Omidyar outfit. But let’s not get all paranoid or anything. There are literally hundreds of such studies at this point, each and every one of which has been cited by the mainstream media, the alternative media, the far-alternative media, and virtually every Trump-obsessed loon with a blog or a Facebook or Twitter account.

Look, I realize the truth is painful, but the science of statistics leaves no room for doubt. As much as some of us may want to deny it, the fact is, the country that elected Barack Obama (who is Black) president, twice, has been transformed by Putin’s brainwashing agents into a cesspool of xenophobia and racism, and it is up to us lefties to set things right!

Now, to do this, we need to unite the Left, and get everyone marching in lockstep, and so on. Which means that we need to identify and weed out all the fake leftists among us. Then, and only then (i.e., after we’ve tracked down, sanctimoniously denounced, and exiled any and all neo-Stasserist “alt-Right” infiltrators, Sputnik leftists, and Assad-apologists), can we turn our attention to meeting face-to-face with the international working classes and sanctimoniously denouncing them as a bunch of filthy racists.

OK, that sounds a little harsh, and possibly totally idiotic, but what other choice do we really have? If we’re going to defeat these Putin-Nazis, a few eggs are going to have to get broken. This is not the time to abandon our commitment to imposing our identity-based ideology on every last person on the planet Earth, or to indulge in that ugly kind of old-fashioned leftism that is based on what the working classes want. Who gives a damn what the working classes want? What’s important is what we want them to want. This isn’t the 1990s, after all. All that nonsense about globalization, and supranational entities like the WTO, and the World Bank, not to mention “American jobs” … only fascists talk like that these days!

But, seriously … if you’ve made it this far in my essay, and you consider yourself a leftist of some sort, you’re probably extremely frustrated with what passes for the Left these days, and with how the working classes are flocking to the Right, both in the United States and all over the world. If I’ve got that right, you might want to read this essay by Diana Johnstone (which we lefties are technically not allowed to read, because it’s posted in The Unz Review, where a lot of “alt-Right” pieces are also posted … and you don’t want to get any of that stuff on you!)

What she is writing about is the ongoing “populist” insurgency against globalized capitalism, which is what I’ve also been writing about for the better part of the last two years. This is the historical moment we are experiencing, a clumsy, sloppy, partly fascistic, partly non-fascistic democratic uprising against the continuing spread of global capitalism, the erosion of what is left of national sovereignty, and … yes, people’s cultures and values.

The international working classes understand this. The neo-nationalist Right understands this. The majority of the Left does not understand this, and is refusing to admit that it’s happening, and so is standing around on the sidelines calling everybody “racists” and “fascists” while the global capitalist ruling classes and the neo-nationalists sort things out.

Which is exactly what the ruling classes want, and what the official Putin-Nazi narrative was designed to achieve from the very beginning. The “Overton Window” (i.e., the range of ideas tolerated in public discourse) works best when divided into two clean halves. During the so-called “War on Terror,” it was Democracy versus the Islamic Terrorists. Now, it’s Democracy versus the Putin-Nazis. Both of which narratives are fairy tales, of course, the reality, as ever, being rather more messy.

If what is left of the Left expects to play any meaningful part in our historical moment (other than sanctimoniously cheerleading for the global capitalist ruling classes), it is going need to get its hand a littler dirtier, mingle a bit more with all those working class “populists,” talk to them, and, I don’t know, maybe even listen to them.

Or maybe I’m completely out of my mind … I mean, actually listening to the working classes? Some of them are sure to say racist things, and anti-Semitic and transphobic things, which we cannot ignore for even one second, or rationally discuss and disagree with, because that would mean giving their racism a platform. Yeah, screw it, I don’t know what I was thinking … forget all that stuff I just made you read. Down with the fascist working classes!

CJ Hopkins
September 21, 2018

CJ Hopkins Summer 2018 thumbnailDISCLAIMER: The preceding essay is entirely the work of our in-house satirist and self-appointed political pundit, CJ Hopkins, and does not reflect the views and opinions of the Consent Factory, Inc., its staff, or any of its agents, subsidiaries, or assigns. If, for whatever inexplicable reason, you appreciate Mr. Hopkins’ work and would like to support it, please go to his Patreon page (where you can contribute as little $1 per month), or send your contribution to his PayPal account, so that maybe he’ll stop coming around our offices trying to hit our staff up for money. Alternatively, you could purchase his satirical dystopian novel, Zone 23, which we understand is pretty gosh darn funny, or any of his subversive stage plays, which won some awards in Great Britain and Australia. If you do not appreciate Mr. Hopkins’ work and would like to write him an abusive email, please feel free to contact him directly.

Watch: Neoliberalism’s World Order

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 20/09/2018 - 2:18pm in

Adam Tooze, Quinn Slobodian, and Atossa Araxia Abrahamian discuss neoliberalism, globalization, and the future of democracy. [Updated with video]

Central Banks, Technocratic Power, and the Fear of Democracy

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 13/09/2018 - 1:45am in

Jacqueline Best has an interesting new article that starts with catchy and provocative analogy and then presents thought-provoking discussion and arguments: “What do border guards and central bankers have in common? Both operate, on a day-to-day basis, in political spaces exempt … Continue reading →

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