Crisis And Civil Society

The paradoxes of Crisis:

occupy_sandy_fema

I wish I could insert a more “radical” into this image – communism at work or something. But the story of Occupy Sandy is closer the text here; Occupy Sandy really does first show the “failure” of government and ability of ordinary people to step-in, organize themselves and maintain society – whatever society means. And there you have a quandary.

Everywhere you see the governments abandoning their people, people organizing themselves and governments saying “well that’s a good job folks, less spending and more profits for us.”

Along these same lines, it is natural that researcher in crowds and policing such as Dr. John Drury should be working to change the attitude of the traditional capitalist crisis manager from that of seeing the natural, popular crisis response as a being a chaotic crowd into a more flexible position of seeing the popular response as a healthy thing that merely need a bit of management:

For researchers, this is further evidence against already discredited theories such as ‘mass panic’. Theories of ‘mass panic’ suggest that exaggerated fear responses to danger spread easily through a crowd in a process of ‘contagion’, leading to rash, uncoordinated and ultimately dysfunctional behavioural outcomes, such as fighting for and blocking exits. Against this, current thinking on group processes suggests that group membership is not a source of pathology but a source of strength. Psychological group membership provides expectations of unity, offers of support and hence the organization and collective agency people need to respond effectively to adversity. The evidence from the 9-11 evacuation is in line with this account of group processes. John Drury, What do the events of 9-11 tell us?

Kinda bizarre phenomena, huh?  We would put it that the crisis everywhere is a product of our fine capitalist system being so overdeveloped and so developed entirely for the purpose of feeding it own profit-hunger, that no longer can spare even the least morsel of us. If we put this situation in “Marxian Terms, ” we would see the decline rate of profit come because the mass of ostensible capital becomes too large to sustain the profits it is accustomed and must thus extract more surplus labor power from the population regardless of what the working appears able to give.

And moreover, that capital has become habituated to feeding its profit hunger on the results of crisis. Every moment of crisis where workers discover ways to survive and keep on working in the midst of craziness is a formula which can replicated across other parts of capitalist society. Technologies “enabling” mobility like cellular phones, laptop computers and the internet naturally connect into this but we can even see thing like the “live simply” ideologies of the American counter-culture tying into capital’s austerity on all fronts.

How should we-communist respond to this ongoing situation? I would claim that we can neither put simple “faith” in self-organization nor should simply dig a whole and wait communism appears. Self-organization for self-defense, however much managed by capitalism, is also an opportunity for some form of proletarian counter-attack. Certainly, while the US Occupy Movement was a management challenge for the state, it expanded far enough and quickly enough that our same unified policing authorities felt a need to suppress it.

 

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