Thursday, September 19, 2019


I keep going back to Brexit, I think as a way to avoid thinking about American politics. This leads me to the Gramsci quote: “The crisis consists precisely in the fact that the old is dying and the new cannot be born; in this interregnum a great variety of morbid symptoms appear.” Gramsci was writing (I assume) about the rise of fascism in the first half of the 20th century. But it applies now. The most morbid symptom of the 20th century -- fascism -- was beaten back; and capitalism -- a remarkable resilient economic and political form -- survived and went on to a kind of golden age. But now we are back in crisis, with morbid symptoms appearing on all sides.

One could argue that the old methods of economic and political control are no longer working. Neoliberal economic policy has proved a failure. The postwar political parties have fallen -- or are falling -- apart. Those in control -- let's call them the ruling class -- are forced to ever more extreme methods of control, including a reemerging fascism. At the same time there are attempts to break free of the old system. These attempts are often ambiguous. Are the gilets jaunes on the left or right? Are the demonstrations in Hong Kong a genuine popular uprising or is the CIA involved or both? In addition, there is froth on top of a turbulent era, ideas and organizations that I would call wrongheaded or loony.

So where does this leave us? Trying to understand what's going on. A good analysis always helps. And acting to address the problems as best we can. Most of all, we need to act on global warming. Acting on that will clarify a lot of political issues, because we will see who is opposed to saving the planet.

The smart capitalists will come out in favor of saving the planet. However, the drive to grow -- which seems basic to capitalism -- is (almost certainly) in opposition to the changes necessary to save the planet. "Accumulate, accumulate! That is Moses and the prophets.”


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