Disinclinations

 Prof EK Blankenship

I wrote recently of the "anti-globalisers" and pointed out that while "resistance is fertile", "those currently chanting this may be surprised to learn what eventually grows from the soil" 1.

Now, current events may alter this assessment, and despite the rather shallow propaganda of an earlier, more buoyant time (at least for the productive world), change is not always "good". While it is probably too early to say conclusively whether the world has really changed forever, it is unlikely that the effects will be minimal. It is important to remember however, that things are constantly changing, and that "conventional wisdom" is never the same from era to era – the conventional wisdom of 1001 is not that of 2001, at least not wholly.

So while some observers now feel that "globalisation" – pro and anti – is "largely irrelevant" 2, let us not conclude that the world has changed so drastically that those involved in surplus-acquisition have nothing to fear. Those now intoning that the world will "never be the same" may come to find that they are right – and that the change is at their expense.

"Stop the world, I wanna get off"

Any student of conceptual structures will be immediately struck by the confused and chaotic manner in which the current situation is being dealt with. We are at war with terrorism; we have no quarrel with the people of Afghanistan - so we drop bombs from a great height. Great Powers like the UK state categorically that we will accept no more refugees (previously "bogus asylum seekers"). Prepare for a long, drawn out campaign – go out and shop.

It need not require intense study of Hegel, Russell, Wittgenstein, or indeed any "school of thought" to understand this – for this is thoughtlessness in the extreme.

Our leaders stride forth to rally the troops, only to notice they are naked – and then are left to scratch their heads as no one seems to care.

Polls produce dazzling figures of over 90% American support for war, and yet the fact that only 608 people out of a nation of over 270 million (0.00023%) were asked their opinion strikes no one as odd 3. Almost the entire world agrees a horrendous atrocity has been committed and the response on the part of the "business community" is layoffs, because the shock has destroyed business opportunities. But business isn't all bad: Lockheed is given a deal over £200 billion 4, a deal somewhat more generous than the aid given the Afghan people ($320 million) 5. That business was poor beforehand is plain to see 6 7 8 9 10 11 12– and it will be not only "anarchists" who notice this, but those hundreds of thousands whose livelihoods are directly and indirectly affected.

The aim of surplus-acquisition – the furtherance of privatisation towards the "privatisation of the public" 13– can never be achieved through woolly-headedness. Important as it is to "pull the wool" over the eyes of the public, it is far better to get them to do it to themselves. The 80’s and 90’s saw an increase in this that was astounding, so astounding that it has left those in charge with an ill-conceived notion that they don’t have to try so hard.

Those unwilling to follow this course – the "anarchists", "anti-globalisers", grass roots campaigners in general – were taken seriously enough to send out the riot police, but in intellectual terms the Actualisers have dropped the ball.

Perhaps the pro-slavery propagandists decried an earlier "spurious cause" 14. After 1865 they surely wished they had come up with something to have stopped the onslaught. But hindsight never brought back a squandered fortune.

"That's life, that's what people say…"

My previous prescription of corporate terror 15 will almost certainly have to be shelved for the time being. For some it would be "offensive" in the light of recent events; for our considerations, however, it is enough to say that it would be, at least temporarily, ineffective.

So the question for now is: what is the best course of action for surplus-acquisition?

As far as this author can see - and we must now all add the caveat that none of us has a "crystal ball" - there are two paths open to us.

First, an all out assault on "civil liberties", through a campaign of permanent warfare, similar to that which Orwell outlined in 1984 (London : 1949). This would not be easy, but then it would not be as difficult as many might imagine. War can be successfully used to justify all manner of assaults on "democracy", "freedom", etc. The technology certainly exists. While it would mean some potentially costly and technically difficult operations - destruction of the internet, for example - all that stands in the way is the will to do it.

The potential benefits for Actualisers are immense, yet there is, as always, a danger that this could end up backfiring. It might all "go pear-shaped", leading to a disastrous conclusion for surplus-acquisition.

The second path is a bit trickier. The difficulties are made even more so when it is considered that for our second choice to work, a monumental admission would need to be made.

While the USA has often in history, asserted its right to anything and everything, it has always done so from a position of autonomy. The American way is, particularly since 1865, the way of Business 16. And Business is business; it's nothing personal. If you can take something because you can, then why wouldn't you? Conversely, "…[i]f we want something, we should pay for it" 17. This is, essentially, the sum total of "Americanism". And this philosophy has meant there has never been a high regard for nobility. The USA is not overly concerned with the opinion of the world, a fact regularly emphasised by the American elite 18. But the USA is an imperial state, and with the fall of the Soviet Union, it has become the dominant power on earth.

"And now, the end is near, and so I face the final curtain…"

"Terrorists" exploit injustice to justify attacks on civilians. "Governments" exploit terrorism to justify attacks on civilians. That these two approaches neatly dovetail into one another is laudable, yet not necessarily the best course for surplus-acquisition.

And yet, clearly, "something needs to be done", as those advocating the bombing of Yugoslavia used to say. And yet, in contrast to their prescription, I'm afraid mine may not satisfy the "primal urge for blood" - nonetheless, the important thing is always the goal, and we should never forget this when Actualising. As our goal must be the continuance of surplus-acquisition, then our most reasonable path at this point is: retreat.

"Now I wanna be your dog"

Our course, retreat does not necessarily equate with defeat. By taking the right course at the right time, the Actualising community can achieve greater gains than ever before. It will require, however, some "fancy footwork".

What if the "War on Terrorism" was seen as "imperial overreach"? Obviously, this would require the admission we considered earlier. Perhaps, "cooler heads" would prevail; more erudite, wise individuals, imbued with humility - unlike our current crop of Dear Leaders.

There would need to be consequent "sacrificial lambs". These decadent hypocrites - so at odds with our decent, upstanding, tolerant and progressive societies would need to pay for the sins of our elites. Arrested, brought confused and blinking into the sunlight from their bunkers, they would be led off to trial, and then pensioned off on some sort of modern Devils Island, to wander its beaches like Napoleon.

And then, with implicit promises of a return to Welfare State values and Fair Trade for all the world, the most potent elements for change in the productive world could be distracted.

This scenario could then be played out for ten years. Or five. Or two. The timescale is less important than the understanding that the whole point would be to achieve our goal.

This could be done via several means, but perhaps sudden, random acts of disruption - say, dragging off trade unionists, people who once attended demonstrations, etc, in the middle of the night, and declaring martial law - would be the best course. Then, those who remained outside the prison system could be given the offer of "voluntary slavery" 19, the ultimate victory for liberal thinking. While this would not entirely fulfil the privatisation of public, it would some way along the road.

The road to hell is said to be paved with good intentions. The road to surplus-acquisition, however, is paved with Losers.

Footnotes

1. Blankenship, EK "Contemporary Structural Deviations: the need for controlled response", discussionForum, 2001.

2. Gray,J "Staving off disaster" London Guardian 28/09/01. "Whole debates - such as that between the missionaries for globalisation and their anti-capitalist opponents - have suddenly become largely irrelevant."

3. Morin,R; Deane, C "Poll: Americans willing to go to war", Washington Post 11/09/01

4. BBC Online, " Lockheed wins fighter contract", 27/10/01 http://news.bbc.co.uk/hi/english/business/newsid_1622000/1622430.stm

5. BBC Online, " Bush pledges Afghan aid ($320 million), 4/10/01 http://news.bbc.co.uk/hi/english/world/americas/newsid_1579000/1579541.stm

6. Bowermaster,D "Boeing Stock Tumbles to 42-week Low", The Seattle Times 9/9/01

7. Tomlinson,H "BA is meant to be soaring" Independent on Sunday 9/9/01

8. Murphy,D "Time to face the harsh reality of the severe slowdown" Irish Independent 10/9/01

9. "City is poised for new shares plunge" Irish Independent 10/9/01

10. "Fear of recession ignites discussion of more tax cuts" The New York Times 10/9/01

11. "The '5 uglies' and threat of recession" The Straits Times 10/09/01

12. "The Outlook: Falling together makes a downturn worse" The Wall Street Journal 10/09/01

13. Blankenship, EK "Determinations relating to the current economic fluctuations", discussionForum, 1998

14. Calhoun, JC "That our industry is controlled by the many, instead of one, by a majority in Congress elected by a majority in the community having an opposing interest, instead of hereditary rulers, forms not the slightest mitigation of the evil. In fact, instead of mitigating, it aggravates." Exposition and Protest, Reported by the Special Committee of the House of Representatives, on the Tariff; Read and Ordered to be Printed, 19 December 1828. Even those opposed to slavery could find "knaves" and "fools" to denounce: "Negro equality! Fudge!! How long, in the government of a God, great enough to make and maintain this Universe, shall there continue knaves to vend, and fools to gulp, so low a piece of demagoguism as this?" Lincoln, A, 1859 from The Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln, Rutgers, 1953 (pg. 399).

15. Blankenship, EK "Contemporary Structural Deviations: the need for controlled response", discussionForum, 2001.

16. "The Slave South stood for something else. We should not forget that our liberal, confidant, tolerant, and good-natured bourgeoisie, when for once confronted with a determined and powerful internal foe, forgot its commitment to reason together and reached for its revolver." -Genovese, E. The World the Slaveholders Made, 1969.

17. O'Rourke, P.J. (1994), All the trouble in the world. The lighter side of famine, pestilence, destruction and death. Sydney (Picador), 204

18. Krauthammer, C. "America Rules: Thank God" Time Magazine Vol, 150, No. 5, 1997. "Nothing of significance gets done with us. True, we are not interested in doing terribly much except enjoying our success and getting even richer."

19. Philmore, J. "The Libertarian Case for Slavery" The philosophical Forum, Vol 14, No 1 1982: 43-58. "Nozick's uncompromising statement of the libertarian credo represents something of a watershed in modern social and moral philosophy because of its explicit acceptance of voluntary contractual slavery. 'The comparable question about an individual is whether a free system will allow him to sell himself into slavery. I believe that it would'".

© EK Blankenship 2001

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