Social democracy is dead and has been dead for years. It died back with when the state could dictate and manage its own contained economy. The evolution of the state has no control of the economy, it is in an impossible foreign debt situation, and can take away anything a social-democracy ever established (to maintain social order), on the excuse it is trying to avoid bankruptcy. The evolution of the state has it borrowing from the future (of endless economic development) to keep the wealthy happier today, and the poor more desperate as time passes. It is borrowing from a future that does not exist, from an earth and an ecosystem that has been depleted and is dying. Social democracy was a temporary solution to prevent “state capitalism” (only true anti-communists would call that communism) from expanding to more countries.
Ever since 1990 social democrats from anywhere in the world have been trying to find a new role in politics and can’t. They are as obsolete as the welfare state. Today the state plays the role of the reverse welfare state, take it from the masses and the poor and give it to the few and the rich. In many cases and in smaller/weaker countries, the state is focusing in actually handing what it collects from the masses to the wealthy in far away places outside the country, but this dynamic can geographically be true to even the US. Farmers in South Carolina and West Virginia are taxed and are forced to buy new equipment and those that benefit are not part of their communities. In other countries people are forced to replace their vehicles with “newer” eco-friendly ones without them producing any vehicles or parts. The technology keeps changing to define new rules so when a 5 year financing contract has ended the vehicle is nearly obsolete or very expensive to maintain. The new economy is fueled by regulation that makes landfills and recycling mandatory, toxin accumulation is reaching unbelievable levels, meanwhile carbon emissions are constantly breaking new records despite of this hypothetical “environmental protection”. It is a planet literally on fire. Mining, even in periods where the rulers cry economic slowdown, is growing in multiples of what it was a few decades ago.
The two traditional currents against capitalism has been Marxism and Anarchism. But does an individual political identity lead to anything of substance? Let’s say 51% of youth turn to anarchy. Then? No organization, no agenda, no plan, no program, no tactic, nothing. Just loose ideas, books, brochures, leaflets, slogans, art. Much of it lacking compatibility with one another. Neoliberal capitalism can consume and internalize everything into a commodity and a cult. You say you want a punk movement, they will sell you punk. You want drugs, they will sell you drugs. You want riots, they will sell you rioting equipment. Then you can isolate yourselves away from mainstream society and be totally ineffective.
I think Bookchin called it lifestyle anarchy. Go ahead, buy some more.
So how can people disengage and step away from capitalism/neoliberalism? Can they? Has it ever happened anywhere? How? Where? Let’s ask some native peasants in South Mexico if they know. Can they know better than us? Do they live in capitalism? Are they bothered by policy, socialdemocracy, union negotiations, or anarchy? I don’t know, do you? Hey, look, they have a website, enlace.zapatista and they are talking to us. Are we listening, or we searching for a political identity to wear?
Listen, it is the sound of your world crumbling down
Listen, it is the sound of our world surfacing.
Who is listening?
But we are neither natives, nor peasants, or farmers, or indigenous. We, them, us ……. ooooohhhh we are so confused and desperate, all we can do is throw rocks at the police, like if that would ever change anything, the police being police and us being rock throwers.
“immature societies develop immature movements” said one peasant.
George Orwell said many good things through his stories (animal farm, 1984), and there are tons of good books by libertarians and anarchists, but they don’t constitute a single social, economic, political theory as Marxism did. Now Marxism as an analysis of capital, class structure, was great. This is how actually capitalism worked back then. Marxism remained static, while capitalism evolved to be bullet proof, or at least be able to resist pressure from traditional popular movements, essentially syndicalism. In the 1880s capitalists were terrified of unions. In the 30s they figured they had to do something or it would only be a matter of time before they were eaten up by organized labor. Before they would lose contol, which ultimately they still had. In this vacuum of insecurity social democracy was allowed to be while the upper class engineers went in the drawing board of how to barricade capitalism so it can’t be threatened and they would not have to compromise and negotiate with the poor and the masses. They had to engineer “an organization” capable of being in control of the state, any and every state, while the organization itself could not be targeted. Till then, capitalists were “loosely” organized around the state, and individually they competed cross nationally in an unstable environment of international diplomacy.
Neoliberalism begun as a set of ideas and proposals in the 30s on what capitalists should do so they are no longer threatened. The prescription was common and very well known to radical anti-capitalists. Only through organization can power be achieved to control and alter the course. In the 40s at Breton Woods the very first step was taken. Then the Nixon shock came to cash in the goods of that reform. The power of the state to regulate the state economy was passed to private banking. Nixon took the first step to hand over this control from the state to privateers. Then there was the Chilean experiment, then Argentina and Brasil. Capitalists around the earth figured they either join in “the organization” or lose what they had through their managed state national economies. So capital shifted from state banks to private international banks to shift around and defend capital as a whole. Those idealistic social democrats who stood as obstacles to this new ruthless regime had the same fate (physically or politically as Alliente 9/11-1973).
The organization was international banking and financial institutions. They gathered enough capital to control all and every state financially. And capitalists rushed to invest and participate in this new game. They bought state debt and forced states to convert “public” property into “state property”. Insignificant as words may be, people couldn’t distinguish the importance of trading what is public with state property. Then state property, as property, became a commodity. Then the states would pay off debt with what used to be “public”. Not only land and resources, but health, education, access to natural resources, etc. Like armed gangsters that took the world’s population by surprise. Unions would appeal to factories for wages and conditions. Factories would pretend they were nearly bankrupt. (Look at auto-manufacturers having little profit from cars and shifting profit to financing and insurance as separate enterprises). Then unions would appeal to states who were powerless to affect either the factories or their own budgets, being kept prisoners of international banking and debt management. Production would shift from place to place and profit could be isolated in separate enterprises. Syndicalism lost its role. It doesn’t matter who ever gets elected, the economy can not be affected by state policy, and if the state wants to avoid bankruptcy it better do just what international bankers tell it to do.
Marxism is no longer able to explain reality, and Marxists would rather deny reality than admit their static old theory as obsolete. Poor Marx couldn’t possibly see the future as it evolved and the future was shaped to defeat Marxism. The assumption that capitalists would never be organized other than under a state, and they would always compete with each other with the state as referee, seem to no longer be true. The EZLN talked about neoliberalism as something specific in 1/1/1994 , the world turned its head and listened. 25 years later both marxists and anarchists refuse to talk about neoliberalism as if it is a reality. They prefer to use the term as a choice in parliamentary politics. But there is no choice. They would rather deal with the fallacy that neoliberalism is a rhetoric and a choice of some politicians against social-democrats. A state economy, and state contained capital shaping the state, no longer exist. Neither right, left, or center, in any country, can affect the international neoliberal market place. Shutting the doors and becoming North Korea number two would only find the vast majority of the population extremely hostile against such a government, especially when they realize the sacrifices in lifestyle. There is no gray in this polarity. It is either absolute submission or poverty and famine, possibly civil war. Neoliberal capital has no interest in negotiating with powerless workers and consumers or their bankrupt state, which never really was theirs to begin with.
Aaahhh we need new theory? What for? To base a political organization and develop expertise and hierarchy on theory? Wrong again. The “temples of ideology” will always be hierarchical institutions who develop their own self-interest in preserving “the temple”. The political organization and society will always have a hierarchical relationship. This is like being in the start of a new loop. We may be ready to make the second same mistake if we pursue to develop new theory and a new ideology. The best we could ever achieve is a new Soviet Union or a North Korea.
We must learn from those that succeeded instead of trying to reinvent the wheel. We pretend nobody has yet been able to escape. But they have, for 25 years escaped the madness, they don’t live in capitalism, they are not affected by state politics. How long can we pretend they are irrelevant? Just because they are indigenous peasants and we are not? Just because they can eat their own food and we can’t? Look what we use to communicate with one another, look at what they use to talk to each other, how they decide their future when we have our future decided for us by others. Are they weaving a certain flag and symbol of some ideology? No, not at all.
So is a social democrat just as hypocritical as a neoliberal politician? Neither when elected are able to cause any change in what is internationally mandated as a market. They can’t even alter their budgets or propose new labor policy without the authorization of international bankers who represent “organized capital”. They can’t even alter what medicine is sold within their borders, what pesticides to use, or what seeds to plant. Parliamentary democracy, which by far missed the target of being any true democracy, has become like a moppet show. Look at the marionettes that get elected in recent years. They are almost surrealistically ridiculous. Right and left are proving themselves totally incapable of anything more than producing hollow rhetoric. The “machine” is running on auto-pilot and the control room is in a handful of banking institutions.
So, we must stop and think, again and again, what is really going on and what we really need to do. Scenario writers are running out of ideas on portraying dystopia, we are living it. Or aren’t we yet? Depends on who you talk to I guess. Well those that are living it, know it, and it is up to them to decide what to do next. Those that don’t think we are living it, obviously choose to not do anything meaningful to change anything. We can’t all wait for them to be convinced, can we?