Neo-Fascism and The Spectacle

0. We’re talking primarily of ideological systems; the machinery of control, representation and justification. These arise out of the base of productive relations and class relations. But they don’t arise mechanically. Different control approach arise on the regional, national and world levels and “compete as models”, one often winning. Class and productive forces determine over time the winners (with these forces appearing in the form of politics, military power, insurrectionary strategy, etc).

1. If we wish label contemporary extra-right/alt-right groups as fascist, it should not simply be because they present some intensified horrors of ordinary capitalism or because they might claim the mantle of earlier movements (Like they say, “everyone’s a LARPer now”). We can look at South American military dictatorships, colonial and settler-colonial projects of various sorts (Belgium, Australia, etc) as examples of horrors that are simply product of “ordinary” capitalism. A fascist label should show how these folks have a similar structure and function to original the fascists. Concepts of race are older than capitalism and the “othering” and atrocities of the nation state have always coexisted with the democratic, equalitarian, rational face of capitalist relations. Colonialism began in Europe before the area could be called capitalist proper and was a key part of the process of procuring surplus value for original accumulation.

2. To understand commonalities that I believe can be traced between the contemporary extreme right and the original fascists, one has to first understand the liberal democratic state, broadly speak. Along with it’s ever-present colonial face, the rise of capitalist relations has involved the rise of formal equality, rationality, exchange and bureaucracy – “enlightenment liberalism” (with enlightenment used “values free”). The ideals of equality before the law, of rational inquiry, the discrediting of superstition, the creation of a somewhat credible press, and so-forth are inherently significant. That “enlightenment democracy” has at best been partially achieved should not detract from the significant benefits over time that these things have provided to the state and to the “average citizen. Historically, the rough ideals around Equality, rationality and rule-of-law were articulated by the French and American revolutions and how and to what degree they have been embodied has risen and fallen over time.

For capitalist relations, democracy has been “the worst system in the world, except for all the others” Austere hierarchies, meritocratic competition, good faith debate and moderate consumption have always had their opposite side of abusive authority, rigged games, ingenuous propaganda and the general misuse of authority. And these latter things threaten even the capitalists own private venal indulgence. The democratic can claim limit these things somewhat, to produce a relative well ordering which has paid considerable dividends.

And, of course, the illiberal parts of capitalist relations can rise with the “liberal parts”. The “progressive” era of the early 20th century in the US involved the rise of civil service, bureaucracy separated from political bosses and similar measures – along with an intensification of Jim Crow racial laws and a series of anti-black pogroms.

3. Still, the key thing is we can distinguish fascism, both original fascism and our current dime-store variety, specifically by their self-consciousness as the termination of liberal democracy, of them viewing the complete discarding of such things as a “tool chest”. The principle of the “big lie” or the “post truth era” involves both a continual focus on enemies and a continual, escalating distortion of reality. This is in contrast to those military dictatorships which regarded themselves as the midwives of liberal democracy, extracting the poisonous and immature elements or the effective ideology of contemporary China, whose authoritarianism is purely technocratic.

4. The historical fascist regimes were a confluence of particular circumstances around the decay of the workers’ movement and the rise of a capitalism utilizing mass media and mass structures. Dauve describes a situation the working class was no longer revolutionary but needed to be disciplined. What we’re looking at here, however, is the way the fascist parties were particular kind of petty regime that seemed offer a unique and powerful way to rescue capitalist through an explosion of emotionally charge ideology – in a situation where the capitalist class was eager for an alternative means to govern.

Now, the original fascist regimes rose on the eve of WWII and wielded its mass media directly, presenting itself baldly as “a violent resurrection of myth which demands participation in a community defined by archaic pseudo-values: race, blood, the leader. Fascism is technically-equipped archaism.” SoS 109.

Debord describes the Stalinist state as the “concentrated spectacle” and I would claim the original fascists can roughly combined with them here. Both were ruled by a series of official lies and a single hierarchical party, though the NAZIs and Italian fascists coexisted with private industry and the Stalinists ruled an officially nationalized economy. While the Stalinist states lasted much longer than the fascists, both failed to demonstrate effectiveness as models of capitalist relations. Instead, the “defuse spectacle”, which bends and defuses truth and rationality won-out over the single big lie and big leader.

5. While the defuse spectacle doesn’t have fundamental rationality, it does involves an orderly web of expert authority, platitudes, advertising shine, promises of fame and so-forth. A look at media in 1960 or 1970 shows mass scale media controlled by networks of gate keepers ultimately keeping things safe for “monopoly capitalism”. You could this original spectacle a drift towards incoherence in liberal democracy but maintaining a cohesive bureaucratic order.

6. What Debord defined as the integrated might be defined as something like the original defuse spectacle supplemented by the unanswered dictats from the secret state and the mafia; The society modernized to the stage of the integrated spectacular is characterized by the combined effect of five principal features: incessant technological renewal; fusion of State and economy; generalized secrecy, forgeries without reply; a perpetual present.

A key quality here is you’re never sure if secret plans lead to a given disaster and requisite emergency measures or whether incompetence simply builds on itself. And this quality has considerable dangers for the curious and unselective. Indeed, one could say that the senseless tales of the spectacle produce hallucination or that many dream of getting close to occult power by being credulous of occult secrets. In any case, conspiracy theory has appeared more and more as a pathological adaptation to the present order.

7. Here, one can see the break-out point for contemporary neofascsts. Over the last twenty years has been the slow movement of the multitude of conspiracy theories into a pattern of rotation around the extreme right and a pattern something akin to the slow formation of nebula out of a dust cloud. Here, our neofascists could appear as the positive pole of lies, tactically positioning themselves for the “post-truth era” and purchasing Facebook and related ads to proselytize each pathological micro-demographic. Of course, this means these tendencies are riven with a multitude of variations and contradictory ideas. A Ven diagram of their ideas would be a crazy squiggle of multiply intersecting (Child abuse, deep state, dubious health claims, fake shooting claims, etc). All this only converges on the person of the leader – just as did the ideas of the original NAZIs merge environmentalism, animal rights, neopaganism and other mish-mashes unified by the person of Hitler. Similarly, The “Capital Riot” demonstrated the complete inability of this neo-fascist right to maintain a coherent plan of action.

Of course, the trajectory of American white supremacy and the ups and downs of the US petty bourgeois are important for also reaching this juncture. America’s rural petty bourgeois have on the decline for decades. Modern “corporate multiculturalism” is the ideal opponent of modern neo-fascism. You could say the small businessperson hates the “liberal” as executant of the large corporate will, a will that offers the petty bourgeois no opportunities for their capital.

But it’s important to note this attitude combines anger and a sense of opportunity. “The liberal’s” base position seems rigid, fat and inflexible. The new platform, the Internet, lies more easily spouted, that are more satisfying, offers those who jump the chance to rise quickly. A large portion of the alt-right vortex is maintain by multilevel marketing, paraphernalia and Patreon schemes. With Trump out of power, the success or failure of these may determine the trajectory.

Space

When the epidemic and the lockdowns came, a remarkable quality was how little of normal life many people missed. Who looks forward to daily commutes and alarms? Millions of restaurants offering a pseudo-experience of pseudo-intimacy were lost and who could feel it? And for the people demanding “open the economy”, what miserable things they looked forward to; haircuts, nail polishing, yard work, restaurants.

Certainly, we learned that small contacts among people are important. But this shows that the subjective enjoyment we might get from another person’s nod, their smile, their touch on the shoulder, comes from the openness that is implied.

But overall, the lockdowns showed how little of physical social space was left to be destroyed, how much people already just lived in the phones. And the years and years of these contacts being cut into smaller and smaller pieces meant that those random contacts were close to all that was left. Who misses texting in between the hors d’oeuvre and the entry?

…..

Tracing a history of authentic social space is essentially impossible. Samuel R. Delaney’s the Motion Of Light On Water gives a slight clue to the feeling of constant potential that 1960s New York City’s anonymous gay sex offered but won’t build up any account book on the virtues of the transgressive. What I want to do here is only make a quick sketch of some qualities of authentic social relations that we need to recapture to create a satisfying collectivity.

Space here is a usefully ambiguous terms. Tracing a history of authentic social space is essentially impossible – I can only gives sketches. America has always had a hostility to social space though the control processes fluctuated. America, “Shining City On The Hill” of the Thirteen Colonies described a theocratic dictatorship of mutual surveillance. Laws, custom and economics businesses stay open in narrow hours (the least regretted loss of Covid – shitty financial district lunch spots, open 10am–1:30pm). If you notice the crime of “disorderly conduct” is defined, among other things, by presence at a place of business without intent to buy, you can see an ambiguous web of laws in the country effectively make doing but working, shop and commuting technically illegal (naturally enforced more in the small town and when police sense subversion). A significant portion of capitalist support for the Prohibition of alcohol came from the desire to destroy saloon culture, which indeed it managed to in many ways.

The average medium sized US city has maybe one cafe intended to allow space to “hang out”, if you are lucky. And quite a number intended for laptop jockeys. And even this, the relative rise of these “third space” areas, is an improvement over the situation of, say, 1970, where no such institutions existed. But this hardly makes up for the decline in mystery that television, the cellular phone and the Internet imposed.

………

What are moment? Moments of unspoken communication, moments of silent comradeship, moments when a relationship simply flows with own logic. This society has dictated that moments not happen only when it’s order is defied.

Coup? Putsch? What do definitions matter

As known of or witnessed by nearly the entirety of the media-connected world, on Jan 6 of the year, a mob of supporters of then-president Donald Trump stormed through weak police lines, beat one policeman to death and ranged aimlessly through the halls of the US Capitol with a minority aiming to assassinate some or all of the congresspeople. I have nothing to add about the facts of the matter but a little bit to say about how the situation is talked about.

By most conceptions, a very poorly executed effort to do X is still an effort to do X, especially if it is a sincerely but poorly executed effort. This and other questions raged after the take-over the US capital by a pro-Trump mob. But other than quibbling over definition, what can we gain from this sort of argument? Well, I think we can illuminate the Marxist conception of the state.

So, it was very confused effort to bend the state to the Trumpist’s will. It was a poorly attempted putsch. Coup is sometimes used as any seizure of state power and sometimes only to refer to specifically military takeovers
The difference in terms doesn’t have a political content. But what does have content is the difference between a putsch and the revolutionary overthrow of the state.

In the many discussions on the subject, confusion has been quite glaring. Too many people seemed to look towards an analogy between what the angry Trump supporters did and what revolutionaries might do. Instead, I think it’s important to look at fundamental distinctions. What’s often not understood is that coup or putch inherently starts at the top, engages in some action that’s a symbolic challenge to the regime and hopefully paralyzes the leadership and then spreads. Such an action is counting on more sympathetic parts of the state to begin moving in it’s favor while keeping less sympathetic parts confused. In contrast, the revolutionary overthrow of the state requires a counterforce outside with it’s own power – usually workers’ councils/Soviets. This force should only attacks the center of power once it has the forces to replace it. This is groups isn’t aiming for a symbolic beheading and repurposing of the state. The October Revolution indeed seized the Winter Palace but at a point when the Soviets, the Bolshevik Party and mutinous soldiers and sailors were a power that could form not a new command for the existing state but a new supreme power.

Revolutionary actions and coup-efforts naturally each aim to “snowball” but a revolutionary insurrection aims to snowball among ordinary people while a coup aims to snowball among officials of the state at various levels.

Understanding this lets us draw a broader line between us and the various extreme right forces seeking power. Indeed, this helps us draw a line between modern communists and all those seeking a place in the existing state. Essentially, the modern conspiratorial party, whether Stalinist or simply nationalist, aims to strike at the symbols of bourgeois power in order to be a pretender to power, replacement to those currently wielding the state but leaving the state itself intact (perhaps forming a similar one on a similar model). Which is to say that anyone thinking of the actual revolutionary overthrow of the bourgeois state should consider the multiple layers of power this involves, from beat cops and bureaucrats on up and think about the strategic situation from there.

Prolegomena To A Future Critique Of Internet Social Relations

“Short of this, all the naïve indignation of the theorists of industrial design will not change the basic fact that the private automobile, for example, is primarily an idiotic toy and only secondarily a means of transportation. As opposed to all the regressive forms of play — which are regressions to its infantile stage and are invariably linked to reactionary politics — it is necessary to promote the experimental forms of a game of revolution.” – Preliminary Problems in Constructing a Situation

If we can say that a car is an idiotic toy, one could say the Internet and “social media” are basically a poor quality role playing game. No realizes they’ve created a character, most people only give their character a couple strong stats, everyone identifies far too much with their character. Plus the quests and side-quests suck, etc.

On the Internet it is standard to speak derisively of the Internet relations and to contrast the superiority of in-real-life relations. As if pre-Internet, the average American didn’t spend virtually every waking not working or shopping, watching television. But revolutionary can’t be concerned with merely denouncing the current nightmare – we’d exhaust our energy is

The Internet is also the negative realization of previous avant guard aspirations towards interactive and participatory art. While “counter-cultural” tendencies around things like The WELL play

The fundamental weakness of the first person shooter, Twitter and the Facebook feed is that they offer no space to wander – attention is always focused. The very early Internet occasionally offered opportunities for wandering and Wikipedia links still offer potential. But overall, Internet’s structure is an abandoned terrain for contestation – the structure is set by Twitter, Facebook and etc even we can inject ideas into it. This is a shame and perhaps the increasing censorship by the major “Social Media” providers can provoke some counter-action.

So raising the question. Link to discord server for discussion of this (proto, slightly moving) project.

Some Notes On The Union Conundrum

To begin, the critique of unions that has evolved in the communist left is ultimately about critiquing unions as they have evolved in present day capitalist relations rather than unions in the abstract.

The thing about “mainstream unions”, the ordinary unions legally allowed by the major capitalist states, is that they are effectively businesses selling “labor peace”. Essentially, for their dues, they guarantee that capitalist enterprises will receive a steady stream of labor power (and oppositely, that without payment they may shut it off).

This situation means that a union will fight any militancy of the working class that is outside of its control – fighting even militancy that successfully forces bosses to grant concessions (after all, if the unions don’t control things, the capitalists will ask why they need the unions).

Now, the thing about the various sorts of “radical unions” that anarchists or various leftists propose is their theory of the unions is generally ambiguous as to whether the union will function similarly, will function as a “labor brokerage”. Often, such radical unions fail because of many challenges to maintaining a permanent organization today. But when they succeed, they have the problem that to function in our rather all-encompassing capitalist society, they need a flow of money. Organizing is hard. A highly trained organizer who devote most of their time to making connections, educating workers and so-forth is powerful weapon – but to have such people, you need stream of money to pay them. Even more, when you are “representing” workers to an organization, you need to yourself about the many laws controlling the workplace in advanced capitalist society (safety, anti-discrimination, etc), so you need effectively your own bureaucracy to face the bosses’ bureaucracy, which also costs money. And to get that flow of funds, the tendency is to function similarly, function, once again as a labor brokerage since that is a model where they will get money.

Moreover, the state further weights the scales by making business union processes legal and broad mass action against capital as a whole generally illegal. And since the state is what allows mainstream/business unions to exist, these unions tend to have strong loyalty to whatever faction give them patronage within the states factions – it is entirely rational, unions as they exist aren’t pure puppets but they do only make money by the grace of the political parties.

Further, whenever a given industry is expanding, has the potential for militant action, the more militant arms of mainstream unions are there, seeing what part they can *profitably* gain control of.

All this is part of the way that modern “decadent” or “spectacular” capital has integrated all visible, ostensible opposition into itself. Modern communist view the autonomous struggle of the working class, the dispossessed, as the counter-force to this integration but maintaining autonomy indefinitely is extraordinarily difficult – resistance tend to go in waves. Repeating: the question isn’t whether an organization labels itself a union or not but whether it functions as a labor brokerage integrated into capital. Unions are often weak and struggles happen outside them often (the W. Va teachers strikes was mostly organized outside the unions even though it was officially a union strike).

The task is for an awareness of the need for struggles that outside the control of the unions and also AGAINST the control of the unions to arise. Such a awareness would set it’s sight on the end of the system as a whole, of course.

Has Politics Been Outlawed (II)?

I asked this question earlier after I read the idea on Jehu’s blog. The thing that’s remarkable about this idea is that it implies that some time in the recent past, politics existed. That some part of the machinery of bourgeois elections in maybe, the last decade, was politics in sense other than the tautological (politics is the machinery of government no matter how much of a sham we know popular participation might be). One might say that election of Donald Trump himself was the primary moment of at least unpredictable debate within a very predictable and controlled election machinery. If that’s politics, it’s not inviting.

Still, to think differently about this question, one might consider an idealized nadir of mass communication. What would nonpolitics be. Suppose the public receives only a stream of images, and not just only images, but images who’s only effect is an emotional impact. A picture of death where we don’t know the circumstances is fine – a picture identifiable as a policeman committing a particular murder is not allowed. Such an image-stream would act as something like a musical instrument, an thought organ, playing the emotional registers of the masses but not allowing any concrete discussion of the conditions of life.

How different is this from today? Admittedly, somewhat different though there are many similarities.

Now, the argument of someone like Guy Debord is that mass media essentially became akin to such an image-stream years ago. And this is because while you get images with meaning and arguments with meaning, if the vast majority of workers cannot act on such residual meaning, these effectively don’t matter.

That said, one has to consider demographics divided into various levels of commitment, commitment not to be censor, commitment to communist politics, etc. But basically, there’s a broad group of people who are purely reactive, who’ll stay with Facebook ‘till it’s a blue-screen of animation showing a series of dancing dogs. Then there’s layers of commitment who will seek out new media upon FB suppressing the opinions they like, up to the very committed. It’s a random mix ‘cause people are lazy.

So this is nonpolitics.

The thing is, control of the image stream is still not unimportant even if the stream has no chance of producing rebellion or even logical thought. It can be used to sell things, including candidates, by associating images with other images and images with commodities.

Indeed, as the supposed politics of this society is drained of substantial meaning, the competition for control of the emotional hurricane and the channels that’s broadcast in seems to become intense. If we consider the recent nonpolitical, incoherent explosion of rage at the US Capitol, we might this the explosion point of ideology in America, in analogy with a comment by the Situationist International; “Ideology, pushed to its extreme, shatters. Its absolute use is also its absolute zero: the night in which all ideological cows are black. When amidst the most total confusion bureaucrats fight each other in the name of the same dogma … doublethink has itself split in two. This is the joyous end of ideological lies, dying in ridicule. It is not just China, it is our whole world that has produced this delirium. In the August 1961 issue of Internationale Situationniste we said that this world would become ‘at all levels more and more painfully ridiculous until the moment of its complete revolutionary reconstruction.’ ”

737 Max; Product of the era

Disaster today seems to be as standard a product of this era as Coca Cola or toilet paper. Today, these disasters and disastrous product partake of nearly every part of the crisis of society, like a fractal or a hologram. Why is this? One could say roughly that when there’s slack in the system anywhere, that slack will sucked up by a shortage elsewhere.

Boeing 737 Max, recently recommissioned to fly, is an excellent example of a single product whose contradictions encompass much of the modern “neoliberal” economy.

* Boeing corporation is one of the flagships of the American economy. The manufacture of aircraft is one of the major industries which has stayed on American soil as the broad process of globalization.

* From the deregulation of 1979 onward, air travel has grown at a fast clip, though periodically interrupted by other crises (9/11 attacks halted air travel growth for only a couple of year). This growth has involved increased efficiency at every level as well as continuous efforts to reduce time and labor costs. Planes have been designed with ever greater fuel efficiency, a process that required a number of innovations; stronger, lighter materials for both the fuselage and the engines; larger jet engines to suck the air needed to get closer to maximum fuel efficiency, electronic rather than hydraulic control to simplify the control of the aircraft’s many parts as well as to use software to simplify the job of the pilot (this last innovation, “fly by wire” has been controversial since electronics and software have the potential to fail all at once and to be hijacked in one fashion or another but fly by wire has been successful under normal circumstances, we’ll return to those circumstances in a bit).

* The context for the creation of the 737 Max was the ruthless competition. The European corporation Airbus was first to market with an efficient mid-rout plane and airlines were tempted to buy this product as it offered the improved fuel efficiency they craved. Boeing needed a way prevent a loss of market share. The 737 Max was the solution to this problem. It was built as the latest updating of a much earlier 737 model specification. The original 737 was designed in the mid 1960s and Boeing had produced periodic updates of . This simulation served several purposes;

– The safety certification process was significantly shorter.
– The training process was significantly shorter
– Airlines could integrate the planes into their fleet more quickly.

The problem with building this new version of an old model, however, was that original shape, required by regulations, was quite low to the ground and the new version required very large engines. These requirements produced an airplane that was quite aerodynamically unstable and which did not handle at all like the original 737’s pilots were trained in the simulator. A small problem! Boeing found a solution to this – or rather was forced to find a solution by the FAA during test. A software system, MCAS, was installed which reinterpreted pilot actions to make the 737 Max seem to handle like an old 737. So the plane was a full simulation of an old thing by a new thing. Notably, the plane’s manual omitted any mention of this extra software.

Now, once the 737 Max was deployed, more problems appeared with this high Rube Goldberg device. The MCAS software relied on an angle of attack sensor on the top of plane. When this sensor malfunctioned, the software’s adjustment process went crazy. This process resulted in two crashes.

After the first crash in Indonesia, Boeing and the US FAA effectively did what they could to blame the pilot. After the second crash, with the plane visibly swooping up and down out of control, the company could no longer keep attention away from the plane and the many problems became apparent. Not only had the MCAS software been designed cheaply and with internal flaws, the decision had been made to not used redundant sensors – since that also would cost money.

Now, once the cause of these crashes became evident, the existing 737 Maxes were grounded and production was delayed. Now the particular malfeasance became evident: November 27, the Allied Pilots Association of American Airlines had a meeting with Boeing to express concerns with the MCAS effectiveness, and was unnerved by the airframer’s responses. Union president Daniel Carey later said, “The huge error of omission is that Boeing failed to disclose the existence of MCAS to the pilot community. The final fatal mistake was, therefore, the absence of robust pilot training in the event that the MCAS failed” Wikipedia and “After being charged with fraud, Boeing settled to pay over $2.5 billion: a criminal monetary penalty of $243.6 million, $1.77 billion of damages to airline customers, and a $500 million crash-victim beneficiaries fund.” Again Wikipedia.

Now, writing here, I can only give a rough summary of the affair. Why is this worth noting? Now if we look the goals that the 737 Max satisfied and the strange final product, we see that the tail (the need to deskill the pilots) was wagging the dog of safe, efficient transportation. The world’s huge airlines need to cheaply train their pilots, not only for direct costs but to prevent this group from having leverage.

And so we here that the “final product” of expanding capitalist production is abstract, uniform, deskilled labor. And we particular disasters as coming from the particular constraints this imposes.

– Orwell’s 1984 as poor model

1984 is a classic and widely read novel of “totalitarianism.” It describes a simple, stark world in simple, taut prose. The details this totalitarian world are drawn from Stalinist Russia and from the Western world of Orwell’s day. A single Party controls the omnipresent media and constantly changes official facts to suit it’s purposes.

1984 was written and conceived as mass media and bureaucracy generally gained greater and great power. But in it’s simplicity it creates a mythical world – some time in the future, the Party will grain absolute power and history will have ended.

Despite the extremism of the scenario, it’s easy to notice many similarities to the modern world; the view screens, the vacuous pop-songs, the rewritting of the past and the notions of doublespeak, doublethink, crimethink and so-forth. Ideological fervor is guiding force; The Party of 1984 mirrors the Communist Party of the USSR; it controls it’s low-cadre first of all. The actual proles are too stupefied to need discipline and are merely herded with peppy tunes.

Perhaps this simplicity has allowed to stay on high school and college reading lists for decades. And this wide exposure has meant that as our modern gains more and more resemblances to 1984, the text becomes more like political guidepost than a novel for many people. With this so common, it is useful to say what’s wrong once a person start to use the book as something like a political model.

Counter Points

1. The reader of Orwell learns that history is suppressed by a totalitarian regime but doesn’t actual learn any history. The absolute power of the Party in 1984 is a-historical in its perfection and so those worried about the “Orwellian regime” start out with nothing to compare it to.

2. While one can find absurd right wing examples which equate corporate multiculturalism with Orwellian control, the politics, even mainstream anti-Orwellian thinkers often devolve into asking when the totalitarian moment will arrive, when the actual situation is choice, freedom and control are constantly being reworked in modern capitalist relations.

3. What makes 1984 is compelling is that the present is totalitarian. This is a strong truth of the present and one that makes ordinary civics texts seem tame and unreal. Every part of the life sold by the modern is a part of a giant machine for buying labor and selling back augmented survival. All of the dominant ideologies play a part in this.

4. Of course, as a practical matter, history and the organization of life, can’t be entirely suppressed. The process of totalitarian manage of life involves a cost-benefit analysis around how much control of what each corporation wants. Google is far more interested in the average person’s shopping habits than their political ideas because this can be used.

It is worth remembering that Stalinism suppressed history because so many key historical events had occurred immediately before Stalin – defending the USSR’s claim to represent the working class while suppressing the working class required active and constant repression. And if the US has presented itself as more freedom and choice than the USSR, the situation offered definite advantages to it’s rulers and capitalist class.

5. Totalitarian element of modern life is not a matter of simple, authoritarian control but a matter of a entire manufactured landscape. Technology make surveillance and control easier but the state searches only for the single dissident at the point that the dissidents’ ideas are actually dangerous to the state.

6. But just as much, an expanding capitalism has an incentive to create apparent choice in it’s system. The rise of the Internet came in the context of a capitalist society with an extraordinarily effective mass media propaganda system. The Internet allowed an almost unfettered access to ideas and nearly costly published but this situation only barely threatened the broad system given capitalist relations manufactured the conditions of people’s daily life (it should be noted that the Internet adopted universally after a much more controlled, Al Gore’s Information Superhighway, failed to get off the ground).

TL;DR; It lets a person imagine that at some point “tyranny will arrive” and then that a single individual can denounce it and lead a charge of the people. And allows one to imagine a shift to a completely stage-managed, solipsistic world.

Rough notes on what a disciplined organization might need:

General Discipline:
1) The right kind of discipline. Have a small list of points of unity, work on them. Have clarity in operations and agreement that everyone will follow those points.

2) Have a degree of self-awareness concerning skills, experience, abilities, etc of each member. Similarly, have make explicit the goals and approaches the party aims to have. Nothing too extreme but not incidental. Further, each member should be able to articular the groups principles and why a given approach relates to that.

Current Situation:
1) Each member should develop their ability to relate to proletarian milieus and speak to ordinary people. Of course, the point isn’t to become a superhero but make a reasonable effort at improvement of skills over time.
2) Each member should cultivate the general approach to intervention: “we are here in solidarity. We have ideas about how things perhaps should go but we aren’t here to simply take over. Rather, you must develop your thinking and your autonomy as any movement develops.”
3) The group should systematically put forward its position in any “public dialogue” but avoid all false-opposite entanglements.
4) The group should avoid all “publish for the sake of publishing”. The group should think about what it’s “unique contribution” should be, not to minimize the contribution but because most situation today need to be pushed further and need the exposure and the refusal of compromise. The group should not compete with leftist or other groups. Either, it has something unique to offer OR it simply add it’s weight to a larger effort. “Branding” matters but only for a very specific purpose.

5) The group should be clear about members avoiding any and all “dual loyalty” to leftist organizations, to academic prestige and so-forth. Similarly, individuals with “fingers in a thousand pots” should never allowed into the group – or only at the point that they explicitly give up such antics.
6) Each member needs to be “willing to wait”. Not in the sense that the group gives any opportunity but giving any implication that “real groups organize”. Would-be members need to be prepared to “spend time in the wilderness” – to purge the thought “I’ll see if this goes anywhere in four months”.
7) The group should have a clear idea how each intervention, each article published and so-forth relates to the general goal. That’s to say this has to be a complicated relations. Article and interventions are often to recruit further potential – it’s just that we want to recruit individuals of a certain quality and so we should consider the process.

8) Some of these conditions involve the need to “find the proper balance”. Being “willing to wait” isn’t the same as “activism” or “inactivism”. Avoiding leftist entanglements naturally doesn’t imply being entirely anti-social, etc. These things are a matter of balance and that’s why one has collective support.
–> “Looks good on the beach or in the ballroom”, our members should aim for the skills to help organize a rent strike but gumption to be willing to not be involved in every leftist scheme that comes their way.

9) We want to develop circles of comrades who can vouch for each other. Know someone well enough to say they’re not involved “for kicks”, out of egomania, out of an urge to tweak the left’s nose, out of a desire for this to get them laid, etc. Initially, this will likely networks of smaller groups having trust or even individuals and that’s OK.

Has politics been outlawed?

Jehu writes: “When the single most popular political figure in American political life is banned from social media for speech with which 90% of the rank and file of the second largest party in the United States agrees, politics has been effectively outlawed as surely as if a law to this effect had been promulgated by Congress and signed into law by the president.”

And indeed, this action certainly makes a mockery of social media as involving an authentic dialogue between all of the respectable forces in civil society. Civil society itself clearly isn’t in very good shape. But over the years, what passed as politics in the US has been a pretty narrow spectrum and that continually moved to the right, with ex-president Obama himself admitting he was to the right of Richard Nixon. The forces of the mainstream press have historically been the arbiters of which politics was respectable and so heard. So in ways, the current social media crackdown is a return to this situation.

The question really is how we reached the point where one portion of civil society could declare war on another portion. This has to do with the increasing contradictions of crisis driven capital and the special place that American petty bourgeois white supremacist play here, especially their position with the police. Still, the Internet was certainly part of these contradictions coming to a head. It’s notable that from the period 2010-2012 up until now, Facebook and other social media giants have played the part of bringing the majority “average people” online. This continued the trend of giving exposure to a wide range of political views, from various forms of fascists, the communist left and all manner of things in between. Unfortunately but predictably, this exposure didn’t result radical ideas propagating everywhere — radical ideas only tend to take hold when you have a rise in collective resistance. What did have, once a full smorgasbord of idea-commodities could be set before the atomized consumer, was a stream multidimensional hot-button polarizing claims and a complex of entrepreneurs acting to sell them. So Trump, QAnon, and the current right movement by no means a challenge to anything but capitalism’s administrative hierarchy, But challenge that hierarchy they did. One of the qualities of Facebook, Twitter and related social media is that the companies owning the platform aren’t necessarily the best at controlling their platforms. The normal state of these platforms is domination by thousands of micro-ideologues. Of course, characters of this sort are hardly new in American politics – Newt Gingritch used similar tactics to reinforce Reaganism.

Of course, the attack on the US Capitol was the point that the traditional administrative “elites” seemed to make a final break with five dimensional ideologues. Facebook, Twitter and the bulk of Internet companies used their main weapons as owners of their platforms – “the big switch” — kicking Trump and his minor ideologues off their platform or temporarily muting them. And this was a broad brush maneuver, hitting a variety of Internet users somewhat haphazardly.

So indeed, we have the state cutting off the pretenders to the state. How exactly this plays out remains to be seen, certainly the contradictory power relations of the US likely have not been ironed out.

As to politics, it was shattered to pieces a while ago. Maybe the openness of the Internet can help revive some authentic discussion of the conditions of this life (and we should work in that direction). But should imagine some sort of cohesion was shattered with this.

More later.