Home > Uncategorized > The two-party, one-ideology, neoliberal state

The two-party, one-ideology, neoliberal state

from Ikonoclast – Origianlly a comment on Are corporate CEOs worth $20 million?

The time for nice debates alone is over. The time for voting and direct action to radically change our entire political economy has arrived. Debates, voting and direct action all have to operate in concert. Any one or two are powerless on their own. In a two-party, one-ideology state, where the wealth and power elites have captured the parties, voting on its own is useless. No matter who you vote for you still get a neoliberal capitalist apologist or right wing reactionary. The two-party, one-ideology, neoliberal state, is a ratchet and hold system. The right (or ultra-right as it is now) ratchets up the neoliberal measures and tightens the law and order screws on the people. The faux-center (really a mid-right) candidate set, if they win, then essentially hold the system at the current point. Real reform does not occur.

Debate handled properly provides logical and moral suasion. Non-violent Direct Action also known as civil resistance can include sit-ins, strikes, workplace occupations, street blockades, hacktivism or counter-economics. Violent direct action may include political violence, assault, sabotage, arson and property destruction. I for one don’t advocate violent direct action for moral, strategic and tactical reasons. (I will expand on that if people want me to.) “By contrast, electoral politics, diplomacy, negotiation, protests and arbitration are not usually described as direct action, as they are electorally mediated.” [1]

Debate, as logical and moral suasion for left politics can and will recruit supporters of the same class and naturally ally classes to the cause. There is an exception of one class which should be a natural ally class of left politics but is actually recruited to the reactionary right by anti-intellectual, nationalist and racist appeals. These are the anti-intellectual, nationalist and racist elements of the working class. Debate will line up supporters and move some “undecideds” into your column. Debate will have no effect on capitalists, their supporters and apologists, nor any effect on anti-intellectuals, fascist-like nationalists and racists. Left logic and suasion are force-less on those who will lose by the implementation of greater equality. It is also force-less on those too brutish to possess empathy and/or too unintelligent or brainwashed to understand their own enlightened self-interest. These classes understand only one thing and that is power; brute power or kinetic force as the military and security theorists call it. Kinetic force means blows and bullets essentially.

The demonstration of logical and moral suasion power is force-less on the capitalists and their reactionary working-class element supporters. Not all the working-class is reactionary of course. The next demonstration is the demonstration of numbers. People can be intimidated by numbers alone. The true object of peaceful demonstration and non-cooperation is to show great numbers, if possible. The great numbers show a potential for power and an implicit threat in peaceful form. Peaceful numbers shows a hinted threat of violence at least as a threat of just resistance to unjust oppression and violence. Voting is way of counting support, counting the numbers, as well as a method of changing governments.

If many logically and morally powerful arguments are marshalled, and then many numbers are marshaled on the streets, in the workplaces and in cyberspace and then many votes are marshaled at the elections, there is or can be a multiplicative or synergistic effect. It will require this kind of overwhelming demonstration of people power to change political economy in the West: to do things like kick CEOs into the street (with the fair option of returning as a real worker) and to augment boards of owners with workers and social stakeholders. Only when workers and all social stakeholders predominate in decision making will the system of oppression and exploitation be substantially changed. Owners (and owner-managers) are only one category of social stakeholder. Why are they privileged over all the rest?

  1. Patrick Newman
    September 2, 2020 at 3:29 pm

    Whatever the niceties of debate about democratic choices it is clear in the USA that that country may be about to get its first fascist president who will use every conceivable device to hold onto to power including force by his growing band of heavily armed supporting militias. Whether it is more hanging chads of disappeared postal votes or accusation of cheating or even on the grounds of national emergency. I hope Biden is well protected during the period immediately preceding the election. Would an unelected VP be able to claim the presidency if the president in waiting becomes deceased?

  2. September 8, 2020 at 4:25 pm

    All as warned against by George Washington, but, nevertheless, the public did nothing to stop being manipulated by vested/tribal interests into handing all power over to political parties; with the inevitable outcome of the fall of the Republic as a tyrant comes to power with the aid of a foreign competitor state. The prerequisite for any systemic change, is the ousting of the political parties from governments. But turkeys won’t vote for Christmas/Thanksgiving: :(

    “All obstructions to the execution of the laws, all combinations and associations, under whatever plausible character, with the real design to direct, control, counteract, or awe the regular deliberation and action of the constituted authorities, are destructive of this fundamental principle, and of fatal tendency. They serve to organize faction, to give it an artificial and extraordinary force; to put, in the place of the delegated will of the nation the will of a party, often a small but artful and enterprising minority of the community; and, according to the alternate triumphs of different parties, to make the public administration the mirror of the ill-concerted and incongruous projects of faction, rather than the organ of consistent and wholesome plans digested by common counsels and modified by mutual interests.
    However combinations or associations of the above description may now and then answer popular ends, they are likely, in the course of time and things, to become potent engines, by which cunning, ambitious, and unprincipled men will be enabled to subvert the power of the people and to usurp for themselves the reins of government, destroying afterwards the very engines which have lifted them to unjust dominion. …

    … I have already intimated to you the danger of parties in the State, with particular reference to the founding of them on geographical discriminations. Let me now take a more comprehensive view, and warn you in the most solemn manner against the baneful effects of the spirit of party generally.
    This spirit, unfortunately, is inseparable from our nature, having its root in the strongest passions of the human mind. It exists under different shapes in all governments, more or less stifled, controlled, or repressed; but, in those of the popular form, it is seen in its greatest rankness, and is truly their worst enemy.
    The alternate domination of one faction over another, sharpened by the spirit of revenge, natural to party dissension, which in different ages and countries has perpetrated the most horrid enormities, is itself a frightful despotism. But this leads at length to a more formal and permanent despotism. The disorders and miseries which result gradually incline the minds of men to seek security and repose in the absolute power of an individual; and sooner or later the chief of some prevailing faction, more able or more fortunate than his competitors, turns this disposition to the purposes of his own elevation, on the ruins of public liberty.
    Without looking forward to an extremity of this kind (which nevertheless ought not to be entirely out of sight), the common and continual mischiefs of the spirit of party are sufficient to make it the interest and duty of a wise people to discourage and restrain it.
    It serves always to distract the public councils and enfeeble the public administration. It agitates the community with ill-founded jealousies and false alarms, kindles the animosity of one part against another, foments occasionally riot and insurrection. It opens the door to foreign influence and corruption, which finds a facilitated access to the government itself through the channels of party passions. Thus the policy and the will of one country are subjected to the policy and will of another.
    There is an opinion that parties in free countries are useful checks upon the administration of the government and serve to keep alive the spirit of liberty. This within certain limits is probably true; and in governments of a monarchical cast, patriotism may look with indulgence, if not with favor, upon the spirit of party. But in those of the popular character, in governments purely elective, it is a spirit not to be encouraged. From their natural tendency, it is certain there will always be enough of that spirit for every salutary purpose. And there being constant danger of excess, the effort ought to be by force of public opinion, to mitigate and assuage it. A fire not to be quenched, it demands a uniform vigilance to prevent its bursting into a flame, lest, instead of warming, it should consume. …

    … Excessive partiality for one foreign nation and excessive dislike of another cause those whom they actuate to see danger only on one side, and serve to veil and even second the arts of influence on the other. Real patriots who may resist the intrigues of the favorite are liable to become suspected and odious, while its tools and dupes usurp the applause and confidence of the people, to surrender their interests. …

    … In offering to you, my countrymen, these counsels of an old and affectionate friend, I dare not hope they will make the strong and lasting impression I could wish; that they will control the usual current of the passions, or prevent our nation from running the course which has hitherto marked the destiny of nations. But, if I may even flatter myself that they may be productive of some partial benefit, some occasional good; that they may now and then recur to moderate the fury of party spirit, to warn against the mischiefs of foreign intrigue, to guard against the impostures of pretended patriotism; this hope will be a full recompense for the solicitude for your welfare, by which they have been dictated. …”

    George Washington
    Extracts from his Farewell Address 1796


  3. Ken Zimmerman
    September 22, 2020 at 2:45 pm

    The first questions we need to answer are: 1) do we want a revolution; 2) do we need a revolution? Modern revolution takes its form and significance from the French Revolution of 1790-91. Revolution involves insurrection and attacks on both the symbols and instruments of oppression. It also involves establishment of political structures that assure the changes made through direct insurrection and surrender, and through compromise are retained. Thus, the modern definition of revolution as an enduring political and social change created through mass action. We can also add that revolution becomes necessary in the emotional sense, not necessarily the strategic sense when usual historical political and governing processes no longer create democratic society, or actively oppose such a society. However, revolutionary events, those that result in sustained transformations of society, are not made by strategic plan. They do not have line item deliverables and clear-cut metrics of success. If they did, they would not be revolution but rather business as usual. Serendipity and accident play a large part in revolutions.

    The Russian Revolution of 1917-1918, for example. A parliamentary body willing to ignore the Czar and declare itself an interim government, army mutinies, strikes in the factories combined over many months to provide the setting for the Bolshevik seizure of power. Now the COVID-19 crisis and establishment politicians’ continuing battle with Donald Trump have helped move the growing (for years) Black Lives Matter’s concerns to the center of American society. Rolling into this situation there is the threat to Black lives from official violence, the failure of any semblance of public-health policy, the devastating scale of unemployment, the inadequacy of federal and state relief measures for both the COVID-19 and unemployment crises, and the continuing climate crisis. Add in America’s dramatic loss of international reputation over the past four years. These threads are now interwoven. But it is too early to tell what the resulting social arrangements will be. Are we are entering a period of historical events? Events that change the very structures of daily life. As they say, events after which nothing will ever be the same again.

    While it is true that people make history, it is also true that it almost never goes as they planned or expected. If there is to be a revolution, we need to keep in mind what it is the fight is against and for what the revolution would stand. The 18th century revolutions established the inviolability of private property, the abstract idea of the rights-bearing individual, the fiscal-military nation-state. It is these that are today under attack as forms of privilege themselves. Historical events, indeed. But revolutionists must use the style and norms of 18th century revolutions to attack these same revolutions. At least until new, more fitting norms and style are worked out. For real structural change, Americans must consider not what is behind them, disappeared certainties but rather must focus on uncertain possibilities that lie ahead. What is the difference between a revolution and the failure of a state or the collapse of an empire? It is that in a revolution all involved have the emotional energy to imagine a better world and the discipline to devote great amounts of creative work into the attempt to make it so.

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