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A short discussion/tirade with a friend on capitalism and our reactions

October 22, 2011

 

Me:

       I think capitalism has had its progression, but our relationship to it is changed. I don’t think the upper class nor the state had the means to distort class consciousness as they do today. Yes they used more violence back in the day, but that seems to galvanize people more than displace. I think the years of (maybe perceived) general trust that has persisted in capitalist culture between the w…orkers and the corporations has allowed the state and the elite to use multi media to its advantage by dividing the masses along false party lines. Maybe now people are more aware of this, but it is also a time where independent minded people are funneled into ideology by these same people due to a lack of quality education, allowing puppet ideas to run rampant without anybody researching anything they say. They think they have a lot of elbow room when they say it, but if they follow their words to their conclusion they will find it concentrated by the thousands of voices that echoed their complaint without an original thought to add

Him:

I would say that half of America doesn’t give a shit about these thoughts and that they would immediately write you off as a whining liberal.. i would then conclude that the “quality education” these ppl need is just as ideological as the p…roverbial education that they would ram down your throat, given the chance.. maybe the ruling class didn’t have the same means to distort class consciousness as they do today but thats only bc the main media back then were the papers, and they damn well tried to mold class consciousness as much as they could since the beginning. most of these papers were owned by the wealthy and naturally influenced by their agendas, either way all the papers had agendas and it all comes back to the problems of democracy. a capitalist democracy is designed for political division.. it influences it, perpetuates it, and we are trained to think that such “freedoms” are the vital ingredient to human existence. weve always pretty much been divided by party lines, look at the Federalists and Republicans for example. furthermore, at this point, with the class, political, with all divisions that have been established and maintained, any “new” agenda will NATURALLY get washed away into a convoluted grand skeptical of puppetry and I believe that the divisions WILL be maintained until death, and by that I mean, the legitimate death of the ruling class… but then what… new power, new divisions, new conflict. unfortunately this is all a natural progression that is really not much different than how its always been. there is no power without resistance and vice versa. with the obvious said, i really like the last sentence you wrote in your post, and agree with you, but i just don’t see things as that different now than they have been in history.

Me:

i totally agree, i guess i just have trouble wrapping my head around it. I know it all extends back and i have done a lot of tracing around the creation of our current repeated broken record of a conundrum. But just like many other of the… world’s centuries old conflicts, I have trouble with the use of such a large context to put todays problems into perspective. I often feel defeated by the endless strings of historical beatings society has taken. I see them repeated over and over with waves of us followed by waves of them. But I often come back to current consciousness as a type of starting point. That doesnt mean that historical record is irrelevent, its just that we are constantly seeing the same things differently, whether it be as individuals or as large swaths of people trying to group themselves into ridiculous ideological categories. I have a theory about technology and modern culture in that our minds are sped up by increased multi tasking and options that we see 50 years ago as ancient history and ancient history as fictional stories, or just purely unimportant. In this context, I see the fundamental problems that you are talking about, the maintained divisions, but an ignorance about any semblance of ebb and flow. If any progress is achieved, its taken in like the blob and stripped of all relevance by the next group of power mongers in charge. I guess what im trying to say is that if things arent changing as quickly as we think they are, and one group just negates the efforts of the prior one, and all we do is grow mechanical testicles until the life is sucked out of existence and the biological line of darwinist chimeras has ended and been replaced by a web of online grouches belting manifestos on mythical financial sums and incomprehensible wars into a soundscape vortex similar to the mind of a schizophrenic where repetition and growing anger supplant actual awareness, only to explode upon the laps of a few people with flailing empires based on toxic commodities while the general populus hopes that the new overlords of need and greed can maintain the collective selective memory or else people might have to think/run for their lives, shouldnt we just think of different ways to fight because we’re always gonna have to?

 

Him:

well, everyone who wants to fight is trying to think of new ways to fight but i still don’t think “new ways” make too much of a difference.. makes me think of a quote from the movie War Games, “the only way to win the game is not to play at… all.” definitely an idealistic quote and further idealistic in the fact that it is pretty much impossible not to play the game (hence impossible to win) but, its food for thought. there is the never ending fight and as long as that is the focus then what does a new way to fight really matter? Obviously I don’t support getting taken advantage of or hiding with your tail between your legs, but I also don’t know what good maintaining and concentrating on the rolls of power and resistance really does…? even tho division is natural, do we really have to create a synthesis within it all to make things “better”? 1 way or another, we’re gonna try… as continually repeated in history. what the fuck is “better” in the end tho, it will always be a double edged sword and lead back to the same redundancy?! every trail has a cause and effect, pretty much the same as power and resistance, so if this is natural and continuous, how could we ever escape it and in the end whats the difference between the good and the bad of the present? O.o I know i’m 1 of the most pessimistic ppl around but god damn, I really can’t say I’m 1 of the most unrealistic. either way, for better or for worse, in sickness and in health, as long as we all shall live, it will continue until extinction, or until we think of EVERYTHING differently (don’t know the right way to think but clearly this isn’t working) and consciousness as a whole elevates (now thats some idealistic idiocy in and of itself, isn’t it?) >.< fuck all, game on.

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. October 22, 2011 3:10 am

    Sorry this is not going to end well, you two had better start talking about something else.

    • October 23, 2011 9:20 am

      youre right, its good we’re not that far apart from each other though I guess

  2. adam permalink
    November 5, 2011 6:50 am

    hey guys
    i read this with some interest. here are my thoughts.
    alex 1 – you mention that our relationship to capitalism has changed and i think it’s clear that it has changed…a little bit. you’re right that the technology and delivery systems of capitalism has changed but to me those are only symptoms of the disease. i’m not certain that the real relationship has changed much. the relationship is tolerable for a lot of people, mainly those who have jobs or careers in which they are able to save some money or buy the necessities, but i’m not so sure this relationship has changed much for the billions who everyday have to fight it to survive or for those who find themselves under the black boot of exploitation (despite that boot being cleaner, softer, and polished – it still kicks like a motherfucker!) that being said, the rather flippant comment about violent tactics is a kick in the face for those who felt that “galvanization” and suffered in the attempt to raise class consciousness. i would suggest that the difference in methods is important but only in the same way that instead of hanging, shooting or beheading criminals we instead pump them full of toxins. it’s hard to fault “the masses” for acting as they should…

    him 1 – most people are trying to survive so ideological arguments often get thrown out because a lot of people just don’t see the connection between theory and practice. that’s not a knock on their education – it’s a comment on those who struggle to make ends meet and find themselves working to survive. not many people have the time to be able to commit to a protest, an occupation, or to join in the fight full time. and you’re right about ideology – one of the hardest things to remember is that ideology is a neutral term that goes in multiple directions, depending on the vision utilized.
    also, i would argue that control over people was actually more intense previous to now, at least in the relatively lucky societies. the use of violence and strikebreaking is one factor for sure. but also the importance of what media there were is certainly important. if everyone read the same paper, listened to the same radio station – well, you get the idea. we have so much info now we are inundated with facts, false facts, misdirection, and the rest of it that people can become deliciously complacent. for many people class consciousness is a crazy thing, like karl marx or raising taxes to pay for services. many have recently given this a bad name via the 99vs1 percent (mostly media) by saying these protesters are drug users, resentful losers, or whiners. you can see how flustered the media gets when there is no “head” to talk to about the issues at hand. i like the idea of not having a spokesperson in the case of occupy because, if one is to change something at root, you simply cannot do it by playing by the same rules as previous “radicals” – who, btw, were mostly coopted into the main political parties – which coincidentally is another symptom of the capitalist sickness. there’s an overwhelming paucity of actual differences among major parties anymore.
    i would take major issue with your belief that capitalism is a natural thing. i also take issue with my ideological colleagues/comrades who suggest the same thing – that capitalism is somehow part of a natural progression. it’s man-made. at some point we started doing it. and if people started it, they can end it as long as alternatives are made available. without meaningful alternatives, i am afraid that radical reform gets the black eye every time. you can’t tear down the master’s house with the master’s tools…

    alex 2 – first, there is enough language, terms, and concepts being thrown around in there that even derrida would have a hard time processing that. just kidding. seriously though, YES, we are always going to have to fight. society is not classless! and it is legitimate to protest in a classless way. at some point you have to ask yourself “WHY. what is the point to all of this?” we work, we get paid, we live maybe – what is it all for really? why couldn’t there be a viable alternative to capitalism? what IS money really? why not provide food for everyone? why do we hold out? if we invested money in sustainability and techniques that would allow for everyone to live, why would that be a bad thing? it’s a defect in our condition towards others. maybe it’s the animal part of us? to hoard and protect our own? i don’t know. i have a hard time believing that with all the “money” in the world, and figures being thrown around that would help billions, e.g. 1 trillion $ = end of hunger or whatever, why don’t we just do it? countries spend trillions on war machines every year – what would be so crazy about “giving the required resources” to actually achieve it?
    i think this is where your technology argument really comes in handy. even with all the information we have at our fingertips, we neglect the history of it all. for example, yeah you could follow michael moore but why not read marx, althusser, nietzsche, marcuse, adorno, or walter lippmann? hell why not read machiavelli or plato? they all demonstrate the same arguments here and probably more effective that scholars today.
    your use of schizophrenia is perfectly apt – that effectively describes our society. capitalism implants false needs such that we don’t even understand what we really want or need most of the time. the connection between theory and practice in our own lives has largely been lost due to the insidious nature of capitalism, which manifests in mostly systemic ways for us in the developed world; in the developing world, capitalism still gets to “rear its ugly head” with abandon. IF it couldn’t do so, it’s possible that a new way would be within reach. as long as we are all okay with the status quo, capitalism will remain violently triumphant among the less fortunate of us, while at the same time it will cradle those of us rich enough to keep feeding it.

    him 2 – new ways, schmew ways. capitalism is flawed in that it is still only a tool or method that we use. our form of capitalism allows some weird things that are counter-intuitive. for example, in the old days dissenting opinions were less available in print than today. that means that those who would destroy capitalism can gain large audiences and bases for support. in this respect, capitalism can facilitate its own demise. but where alex has a point is that it is an expert co-opter of ideologies and differing viewpoints, especially in today’s age. the best political philosophers (in my opinion) were on the right path when they emphasized class consciousness. without it, nothing can happen to effect systemic change. you, we, i, them – all must find a way to continue to show the inequalities, discrepancies, and effects of capitalism. there is a clear “master/slave” narrative here that i still can’t understand totally why everyone doesn’t see it. but that’s just me. to get people to care, in our kind of society, is unbelievably difficult. that’s why i would say the hope lies in places like africa, mexico, china, brazil, argentina, chile – these countries know firsthand the effects of capitalism and capital. it’s REAL to them; they have FELT it – got hurt by it; died because of it.

    i would suggest that despite your pessimism, at the very least you have made your opinions known, and that is more than most people do. the point has to be to keep fighting, keep fighting for your vision, join with others – and most of all talk to others, and call out those (even if their on your side) arguments that purport to explain everything away in terms of natural progression, evolution, or “it’s the way it has always been.”

    really sorry i wrote so much.
    good luck.

  3. November 6, 2011 7:15 pm

    no reason to be sorry. thanks a lot for writing so much. the combination of intelligent, willing to discuss, and in no way obnoxious is hard to find these days. I like talking about this stuff with my friend from the post because he has been a vegan anarcho punk since 12 or 13 and we’re 28 now. He is less punk these days and more trying to get by like the rest of us, but his politics are not so altered. He is easily one of the more negative people I know. This doesnt make him a downer, it keeps him interesting. I don’t always agree with him, and I think I am definitely more optimistic, but often I find his opinion to be so much more his own than most. Very little of what he says is from anywhere else. I read constantly and am influenced by this and that, but I never get that feeling from him. Anyway, thanks.

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