The Social-Democratic alter-ego

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:

First of all back to Guy of Power 2010

Then Salman at The Third Estate

The boys at Though Cowards Flinch

Mr. H

and lastly the one they call Left Outside

That’ll do…


7 Responses to The Social-Democratic alter-ego

  1. Dave Semple says:

    I might come back to this, but there’s some good stuff in Zizek’s semi-pamphlet/book ‘First time as tragedy, second time as farce” on the ‘new spirit of capitalism’ which grapples with the attitudes of corporations such as Starbucks – in fact that’s his prime example in the book.

    I may not reply in full until writing my review.

    • I heard that infamous quote the other day, where someone asks a friend whether they have read a certain book, to which the friend replies “read it? No, I haven’t even reviewed it yet”. I figure even without having read that pamphlet myself I could relate what I know about the particular quote Zizek has used to the current talk on narrowing the wealth gap. At first Compass aimed to introduce the High Pay campaign, backed by the some members of the Labour left, but basically deemed a bit too radical. Now, today in fact, Harriet Harman will press for a high pay campaign to bridge the gap of wealth. That nothing at all emerged from the Compass campaign was tragic, that Harman will be the person in charge of trying to bring it a second time, is farce.

      To use a quote I’ve just used on your comments thread, those no logoers will give to Caeser what is Caesar’s, the best that they can achieve is reinforcing the logic of capital.

  2. paulinlancs says:

    I’m still far too close to my woolly, not-an-through-the-class-prism-analytical-bonein-my-body past, and still far too aware of the daily contradictions I face, to answer this as a proper ‘meme’ without getting myself into an unhelpful autobiographical pickle.

    But I will post something more general.

    • hehe, I’m sure this shows modesty, or at the very least, I won’t be telling anyone otherwise. I think we all gathered our responses to this power 2010 approach on the TCF comments thread anyway.

  3. paulinlancs says:

    It’s not modesty, Carl, by any means. Rather it’s age. I’m 47 now, but for most of the adult years (indeed I can pin dates down pretty well to a book I picked up in 2002) I’ve been a leftie-liberal non-analyst of power structures. As such, my whole background puts me in that camp, and I have a set of everday assumption and cicumstances which I can’t just dump; a wife, two kids and two dogs, relative financial stability only somewhat modified by my recent shift to the left (= lots of work for free) and I still on occasion go off to church and can’t help feeling that the kind of emotional security that a belief system like that brings is very nice, however built-on-intellectual-sand it may be (that’s why I like Kafka and the Lucidity Pact).

    What that adult background does bring me, though, is an intuitive understanding of the type of reasoning that people at Power 2010 and so on adopt. That makes me less hostile to them than Dave is (as you may have noticed) because I understand that, but for the grace of books (and increasingly the way the blogosophere has embraced my as an intellectual equal to people like you and Dave, something in which I actually take a pride) there would go I.

    I’m glad I don’t go there, but it does give me a feel for my spcial democrat alter ego (super ego?).

    • Freud, in his later years, gave credit to those who went from sun worship (worship of the thing that was there in front of them) to monotheistic worship (worship of the thing that wasn’t immediately apprehended by the senses). Historically, he praises such an intellectual move, and for whether we think God does or does not exist, mentally, to ponder on things (or a thing) which isn’t apprehended immediatly by the senses, is certainly worth something. The willingness, also, to believer in a governing power above and beyond, is certainly apparent in all of Freud’s works with the genesis of the superego, so perhaps there is more to this social-democrat super ego than originally thought.

  4. Pingback: Carnival of Socialism « Harpymarx

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