Capitalism Hits the Fan

shit_fanMy grandmother used to say ‘everything bad comes from America’.  I didn’t agree with her, of course.  But then I was young and foolish at the time.

America then was just a few years ahead of us in the great capitalist experiment,  given its natural resources and the devastation the world wars wreaked on Europe and Russia.  Now,  just like the great communist experiment that came to an end in the USSR in 1989, the Capitalist experiment is  coming to an end.

Only where here are the walls to be breached, the iron curtain to be torn down, the governments to overthrow.  Capitalism so infuses our society, it’s control so embedded in echelons outside of government control, that smashing up banks and big business interests is just about as effective as shooting ourselves in the foot.  So indivisible is capitalism from everything that has given us a sense of self worth that we are not quite able to identify what it is that we are protesting against, what it is that we want changed.  The media offers us up executive pay levels or bank profits as straw dogs, but they are just symptoms of systematic abuse that has been going on for some years. We all have Stockhausen syndrome for this idea, this meme, this shiny promise of insatiable consumption which has kidnapped the whole world  Who are we without it?

Islamism is a kind of monstrous antigen which has perfected the kind of destructive capacity capable of killing the kidnapper and most of the hostages too, returning us to a level of barbarity from which the illusion of civilization had veiled our eyes. Medievalism is within all of us given the right desperate circumstances and the right ideology to legitimize the barbarity.  Like Soviet communism before it, or the organized crime that uses brute force not to have to pretend to be other that what it is, Islamism is the alternative that makes capitalism so appealing.  Of course, capitalism is the organized crime that does not need to use brute force because we have all been programmed with its ideology through advertising and media manipulation.

What is to be done? Wolff below suggest a quiet revolution through the democratization of the economy…companies becoming co-operatives, the workers becoming the board members.  This could only work if it were a mass grass-roots movement that had within it not an ideology to topple the government and come to power, but a desire born of disillusion with political solutions to explore creatively ‘the art of living’ and the discipline to recognize the personal responsibility of all of us to practice this art.  Luckily, we are all born artists in the art of living, so its practice takes no practice at all.  ‘Being’ is really our default, but it has no meaning to our doing and having brains.  It sounds non-sensicle to say that meaning can flow from just being, so lost in our troubled psyche is the joy from the simple feeling of being alive.

If that sounds like a cosy platitude, it isn’t. Try sitting with a total acceptance of ‘what is’ for more than a few moments, and without expecting the next moment to be better. If a mass movement were to practice just being with what is as a way of life, resistance would not be necessary.  Government would become irrelevant as we developed global networks of mutual support led by compassion rather than profit.  Easy?  No, almost impossible but frankly the only revolution that will really change anything and it will be so quiet we won’t hear it happening.

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