The Social-Democratic alter-ego
November 8, 2009 7 Comments
I’m not too enthusiastic about Power2010. I, like a few others on the left, view these things as merely a way of reinforcing the status quo operation of change, without actually changing anything at all, however, I never miss a good old fashioned, Lamarck-esque meme, so here is my contribution.
I have lately started using the term social-democratic alter-ego seriously. What I’m trying to achieve with this term is a mode of operation for a period of social transition.
Surely every opponent of the way in which capital is organised should have a social-democratic alter-ego for the purposes of the transition phase, but a stand should be taken at the quasi-Leninist position of inequality and capitalism being the impetus needed for social revolution. Having said this, Lenin himself should not be held accountable, for the pursuits of late capitalist protest have engendered what I mean.
Allow me to explain.
Take for example Naomi Klein’s book No Logo, Nick Cohen repeats in his book What’s Left that even Hollywood is anti-capitalist in the sense that it promotes Klein, Moore, Pilger and all the other half-arsed stuff. But anyone with a little bit of sense can see the problem here. When Starbucks for example went fair trade, raised wages, took it upon themselves to address workers rights this was a victory for Klein, this was a victory for the no logoers.
But it was not necessarily a victory for socialism, as time spent in socialist groups in universities, who spend much time sticking boycott coca cola stickers to drinks machines, will seem to contradict. We seem to have only succeeded in making capitalism better, we now more Soros’, Turners’ and Gates’. This has not changed the logic of capital itself, and as much as this hurts to say, starbucks do not decide the logic of capital, so to choose to be antagonistic towards them, or Cocoa cola, or macdonalds, only seems to contribute to the logic of capital, which is not damaged by using recyclable cups, going fair trade, paying its workers a quid more.
Where this looks like a criticism of certain brands, it’s not. My point here is this, our social-democratic alter-ego should allow for these shifts in ethics, for better conditions are better than worse conditions. And if you, like me, are convinced that the logic of capital is abhorrent, you will not be phased by the efforts to change democracy from within the parameters we have.
I argued elsewhere that revolution cannot exist in the capitalist framework, the socialistic end of history cannot exist where capitalism is the international economic hegemon, thus proving my anti-Stalinist tendencies, so the framework must be changed. This is a long-term project. So to want democracy now, must entail that alter-ego, a temporary transitional phase. But to view your End as a no logoer, that is detrimental to the project, and capitalism is the only benefactor, because lets not forget the main scope of the capitalist project, to nip in the bud ones pursuit of change, if the logic of capital detects a change that doesn’t assault the existing logic of capital, consider the job done. Consider the green revolution, fair trade, even to some extent unionisation. These don’t end capitalism, they demand that capitalism allow for it. And my social-democratic alter-ego likes green, likes fair trade, likes unions, but I’m constantly reminded that these are only transitional phases, not Ends.
The transition from feudal to capital proved that society is not fixed, so we should be clear on what post-transition should look like, by process of elimination. Those reformist challenges that do nothing to endanger the current status quo should be the benchmark with which we judge the outcome of the end of history.
My conclusion is power2010 might be good for ideas, pariticpation methods, and for this I am happy to agree and follow its development. But until the logic of capital is challenged, power will be concentrated to and determined by capitalism.
Now, for the hard part, who do I burden to spread this meme, let me try:
and lastly the one they call Left Outside