cj#595> re: What can we do about it all??

1996-11-01

Richard Moore

Dear cj,

      I received the following personal message from someone who read
"America & the NWO" and "On Saving Democracy" on some list, and who has
proposed working together on a generally useful manifesto.  I have prepared
a reply to him, but would like to post his entire message first, with only
his introductory personal remarks omitted.  He is someone who has
accomplished signifant activist results in his country, which is more than
I can say, and I don't want to dilute his viewpoint with my comments.

-rkm


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I have read your attached paper. I agree with
many of your findings. I find your analysis in many respects insightful but
find your discussion of the 'plan of action' less convincing. This needs of
course detailed elaboration on my part and I will attempt, within the
confines of the time I dispose of, attempt to give you my humble opinion.

Instead of reviewing your points one by one, let me summarize how I see
things, especially the problem of a 'counter-strategy'.

I am in doubt that the 'working class' of the First World are capable at
this historical juncture to lead any effective counter-strategy to the
corporate agenda. There is no indication that the conditions are ripe for
such a possibility: Neither are the objective conditions nor the subjective
conditions ripe. For such a strategy to take place, the objective forces
for change must perceive themselves in a clear manner as having
fundamentally opposing interests than corporate world. For that to happen,
there has to be much more class polarisation than exists. Corporate-world
has until now managed to coopt significant segments of the relatively large
middle-class in the First World which finds it in its interest not to rock
the boat. The power-base of corporate world in the First World is still
quite large and is maintained by both media and co-optation. This has been
possible until today. What will be tomorrow I don't know. There are trends
working for further polarisation. But where they will lead I don't know.
There is the real possibility that through indoctrination a process similar
to that of the Third Reich could take place, where large segments of the
unemployed and the Lumpenproletariat will embrace a fascist ideology and
fight for the supremacy of the 'White Man' against the Third World. This
possibility is real and I am extremly worried about it.

I have no patent solutions to the problem how to prevent such development.

Many concerned people would like to see the development of a coalition and
a common agenda. But I believe that the problem is not technical or
psychological. It is not one of the lack of organisation. I think it is a
fundamental problem that cannot be brushed aside by wishful thinking.
Without the tools of marxist theory people are groping blindly for
solutions. Marxist theory correctly asserts that objective conditions are
required for the development of a perception. It does not matter how
logical people think, if their direct interests are undermined by some
perception, they will avoid it and develop another perception. In our
industrial world, the objective conditions of people are extremely varied
and the real economic conditions are most often well camouflaged. Thus the
credit system under which a consumer society is kept alive gives the
impression of well-being but the indebtness, individual and collective, is
hidden from the eye. The phenomena of free-lance work, one-man businesses,
gives the impression of liberty (which is not totally unjustified) but this
often hides the economic reality of this phenomena and contributes to
atomisation of the subjective reality.

I am therefore a bit skeptical about the diagnosis that the Grassroots of
the First World are capable of generating and leading any global
counter-strategy to the corporate world.

More likely in my opinion is the explosive potential contained in the
extreme exploitation and lack of human rights of the people of the Third
World. Because of an increased information flow, the awareness of these
people of the world's inequalities is increasing. While it has been
possible in some smaller areas to co-opt part of the population or create a
substantical middle-class (Korea, Singapour, Hong-Kong, etc), this avenue
is not open for large countries, where the contradictions cannot be
contained without violent means.

I therefore believe that the primary approach to the formation of a global
movement is to increase the effectiveness of Third World grass root
solidarity in all possible areas, including trade unions, human rights work
and economics. In this respect active solidarity from individuals and
organisations in the First World can and should be provided.

Thus, if I would define my actual 'place', I would label myself a 'traitor'
to the interests of the Rich World and a brother in arms of the wretched of
the earth.  It is my wish to be considered as 'traitor' in this respect, as
this would imply the existence of a war between the two spheres (a thing
never explicitely admitted).

In the quest for global solidarity (in the spirit of internationalism), I
believe that work can and should be done in one's own country. In fact
that's were the work must be done in the first place.

Thus, when choosing issues on which to fight, I think that one must be
careful to select in the first place issues that create a 'revoluationary
awareness', that is issues that expose the fundamental modus operandi of
capitalist society (as distinct from the superficially visible rules and
precepts of capitalist society). Any issue which either does not lead to
such exposure or hides it even more, is to be avoided.

The problem resides for us in the fact, that for people or organisations to
recognize an issue as potentially mobilizing (in the long-term), they must
already recognize the necessity of this approach. And this is not widely
recognized yet, even by most grass-root organisations. This problem cannot
be overcome just by discussion but by actual struggle. Only through actual
struggle you get the feeling where power is located. A revoluationary
conscience cannot be raised artifically by discussion or indoctrination. It
is based on the synthesis which people make themselves between their
experience of struggle and reflection (including discussion and
refinement).

I have said all of this to substantiate my belief that the lofty goal of
developing a grass root common agenda in the First World, which would
encompass the main global problems, cannot be attained for the time being.

On the OTHER HAND, I strongly believe that we must by all means create the
awareness about the necessity of strong networking and prepare popular
organisations for the need of resisting a fascist onslaught. I believe that
conditions exist for the creation of a wide consensus against racism and
fascism. While the foundations for the elaboration of a future, more just,
global soceity, are not yet perceptible and many questions seem yet open
(regarding the status of nation-states, individiual vs. collective rights,
cultural identity vs. globalism, control of resources), a wide consensus
can be sensed in the West against racism and fascism. And this consensus
includes even segments of the corporate community. Such a consensus can in
my opinion yield a more effective defense for the ominous threat of
totalitarianism in the West and give breathing space to those who fight for
justice in the Third World.

What I just wrote are reflections that have not yet undergone any rigorous
analysis. I am open to any critical remarks.

Regarding more detailed points in your attached article, I miss there the
discussion of how to control the corporations so that they will be socially
responsive. This is not a trivial matter and you cannot avoid tackling the
question of political power and the role and nature of the state, which is
fundamental to this question of control. It is in my opinion a non-starter
to limit the possibilities of large corporations by setting limits on
political donations or things of that kind. There are millions of devious
ways whereby money can be channeled without being traced. The crux of the
matter is 'who controls the money'. Any person with an authority to
disburse money without public accountability can buy whatever he/she likes,
including politicians and media. This applies to private persons as well as
to corporations. As long there is no requirement for companies to disclose
any expenditure, that is basically to open their books to the public,
companies will be able to channel their monies to the recipients they wish
to support.

How to control the companies and which companies to control is another
issue that has both political and technical aspects but can be discusses.
For such a discussion to take place, people should at least agree on the
basic premise, that EFFECTIVE public control of economic entities such as
corporations is required for democracy to function. I don't think that the
Stalinist model is viable. I don't think however that the alternative to
state control is only private control (by shareholders). Other alternatives
can certainly be developed and should be.

I don't see for example why a company president should have the right to
decide in which newspapers the company advertises. As newspapers are
carriers of political opinion, such decisions should be taken in the very
least by both management and employees in the form of one-man-one-vote.
This system could later be enlarged to include customers, consumers and
society. This is just one trivial example of what corporate control could
become.

The party system, which needs overhauling, is another issue. You rightly
wish to see a more fair electoral system, ensuring the voice of small
parties. What I would wish to see is a more fundamental change in the
functioning of democracy. I wish to see people enabled to make their voting
decisions on the base of specific issues rather than giving some people or
parties a blank check to carry out policies on their behalf for a number of
years. This is not real democracy and the consequences of this system is
that the hierarchical system of delegation of authority upwards has so many
levels that the uppermost level is not at all accountable to anybody
(Security Council). Thus each level finds itself in the obligation to give
a blank check to the level above and obliged to carry out the orders.

I find that the Swiss system of direct democracy is much more promising and
can and should be refined, especially now that electronic networks can be
used. Many questions are still open in this respect and cannnot be solved
easily, especially regarding the control of the electronic networks
themselves against misuse.

Well, I will now end this endless monologue, hoping that you had the
patience to read all the way.

All the best and looking forward to hear from you.

XXX

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    Posted by Richard K. Moore  -  •••@••.•••  -  Wexford, Ireland
     Cyberlib:  www | ftp --> ftp://ftp.iol.ie/users/rkmoore/cyberlib
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