Thursday, 20 January 2011
AGAINST WELFARE STATE, AGAINST ALL STATES (By Aiming further striking better)
Welfare state is expensive. Sooner or later it had to come to an end. So much money flushed down the toilet in order to pay the salaries of a plethora of civil servants and to maintain a complicated an inefficient bureaucratic machinery... this situation obviously had necessarily to break some day and this day has already come. The undignifying amounts of dosh paid and still to pay in taxes mostly by poor workers rather than the middle classes or the filthy rich, appears to be proving insufficient to stop the whole thing from going downhill. Ladies and gentlemen, let us say it loud and clear; there cannot be such a thing as a full return to the golden age of “Welfare state” and the living standards of that time. This system simply cannot afford it any more without sustaining gigantic deficits and violating the first and more important commandment of capitalism. That of keep accumulating profits for the very sake of it and for the luxury of an elite of privileged asses. Still it is quite possible that some of its ruins remain in place for a while in a bid to prevent more than half of the population in the UK and most of the “developed world” from taking to the streets and bringing what those in positions of power see as the Armaggedon itself, (the sweetest of the dreams for us otherwise).
Should we, nevertheless worry about this? Is the maintenance of the welfare state something worth fighting for?, has it ever been good at all?, and most importantly should we expect from a generalised deterioration of material living standards to bring ONLY BY ITSELF a social revolutionary explosion or at least a qualitative escalation in social war?
Welfare state has been from the very beginning anything but mere philanthropy. Its goal (and it must be said, its total triumph whether in its Western free-market version or in the extinct Eastern State-capitalist regimes) has been to destroy the social fabric of mutual aid and the long tradition of self-organisation that animated the old-school workers movement. To do so it has successfully managed to insert in every worker's brain the ideology of the elites, based on individualistic survival of the fittest, mistrust and competitiveness among individuals. The state has so proved highly skilful in promoting demobilisation and demoralisation, discouraging self-management from below through the implementation of liberal-reformist and social democratic policies in education, healthcare, leisure, communications, technology, urban-city planning and labour. Workers were seduced to halt any attempt of taking those issues in their own hands in order to establish dangerously autonomous, leaderless and anarchic “obscure zones” of class sociability at the core of capitalism itself thus signing their own historical capitulation. In the same token the state went from being perceived as the absolute foe to be considered as the great provider, the saviour of the poor, giving rise to the myth of the TAXPAYER as a figure of order, as a responsible “citizen” who deserves to be treated properly and looked after by his masters. The taxpayer, the citizen, nothing but an abstract entity, utterly ridiculous, gullible, always well fed, always well provided with the corresponding amount of entertainment and “services” of any kind.
Prisoner in a golden bar cage by their own choice the contemporary (and mostly urban) lowlife individual, worker or not, has been conditioned to choose a life devoid of any greatness or epic. A sad existence within the walls of a cheap cage called flat, seeing the rest of the people as an obstacle in their way to nowhere. The present members of the lower social classes have lost the courage, social intelligence, tactical prowess, sense of collectivity, street wisdom, taste for confrontation against the authorities and pride of former older generations. The oblivion of their our own history and traditions has works wonders along with the lost of oral culture and geographically defined territories, to turn them into miserable, grumpy, racist, homophobic, sexist, distrustful,highly confused and secretly coward individualist bastards. In the place formerly occupied by the old “proletariat” and its spaces of sociability, its passions, its dreams and its cultural expressions now we have the unrelenting noise and images of the mass media shaping what we are supposed to desire, what we should have become if all of us were not such a bunch of “losers”. Thus, the televised wanderings of any stupid “celebrity” are seen as good fun while anything that entails using one's brain for something apart from buying in the supermarket and one's body for something that is not slobbing out in front of the TV or “enjoying” in the pub or the disco is automatically dismissed as “boring”. Sacrifice is “uncool”, pleasure means everything for the post-modern humanoid and in the end we are all fucked. We ow it all to the welfare state as well as to our own stupidity and gregarism.
"I hate the truth, I prefer a huge dose of shit rather than the truth!" "We are nothing without our image. When you are alone, I will be too. That is what fame consists of".This shitload of pseudo-philosophical crap has been said by Lady Gaga in her concert in Barcelona on 10/12/2010. It perfectly summarises the miserable Zeitgeist of our disgusting times, the callousness, the superficiality, the cowardice implicit in the fact of preferring self-deception and evasion to confront reality as it is and fight to change it. Irresponsibility for the consequences of our own actions, narcissism and megalomania are celebrated as virtues and can even give rise to personality cults that have nothing to envy to those professed to Hitler or Stalin. Through the greatness of others we find consolation for our own insignificance. Better dreaming than suffering, better pleasure whatever the cost than any effort, better getting noticed for something no matter how stupid it might be than remain anonymous, better TV than conversation... On the sight of all this, who can possibly believe that all we need is just a handful of grim economical conditions sprinkled with a bit of rage (that of a spoiled baby who cries because mummy has not bought him a sweat this time) to effect a social change of any significance?
The worst catastrophe imposed by state and capitalism in the so-called developed countries goes far beyond themes such as unemployment or the remaining of some pockets of poverty and some groups of beggars and homeless here and there in every western megalopolis. The real catastrophe in this part of the world is a catastrophe of the spirit. This way of life is degenerating human soul and body alike by making us incapable of any effort in the pursuit of something that does not entail earning money or spending it in marijuana, beer or video-games. People have chosen to be unwilling to sacrifice anything in the pursuit of any superior achievement. We have let ourselves to be turned into selfish sub-humans always expecting to be fed by the state but absolutely unfit to fight for what we want, to communicate with each other, to even organise ourselves in the most basic daily routines without ending up in a row and splitting again. We simply expect to be served, to have it all done, rejecting effort and embracing superficial, consumerist and pointless hedonism. And of course, this general situation of anomie does not exclude at all any manifestation of the “anarchist”, “alternative” anti-capitalist and anti-parliamentarian political “opposition”. A quick glance to the pitiful state of nowadays squatter “movement” in London should suffice to prove what is being said in these lines.
Here we have the most realistic explanation for the aetiology of our present days “epidemics” of immune system deficiencies, cancer, obesity, coronary heart diseases, addictions, depression... for sure only a tiny minority of doctors would dare to tell us this openly but.. do we really need to wait for a qualified diagnostic?...
Not that anyone was warned about the coming of this dead-end by strictly anti-capitalist theories either. Since these have traditionally been so prone to rampant economicist analyses leaving the question of the state always in the background it appears that reality is prompting those among us who still think it worthy trying to effect a revolutionary change to develop a much wider view of the reality around us, getting rid of old misconceptions and theories and looking at the monster in the eyes. Perhaps by interpreting reality as it is in itself and not through the pre-established templates of any theory whatsoever we might be able to see clearer and act wiser from now on.
The material conditions in which the vast majority of people waste their lives are indeed very important in defining their behaviours, no arguing with that. However, this is never enough. It is utterly stupid to expect everything from material deprivation when we have had enough examples to appreciate what it can cause to people if acting alone. Deprived human beings can become revolutionaries much less easily than they may become heartless bastards towards each other, merciless criminals, members of gangs exploiting other poor and many other undesirable roles to play without necessarily having to openly challenge the system.
The point here is that it is not enough to oppose capitalism and its imposed material conditions alone, regarding the state as its mere “sidekick”, its “political extension”, not even its “armed faction”. In the end the really important question is that of the struggle against the state, even more than capitalism. Looking at the way in which the latter developed as a system we can see how the state (much older as an institution of power and fear than the aforementioned economical structure) has nearly always been the one backing up capitalist development, effectively imposing it through legislation and reinforcing it by physical repression when needed. Whether with or without all the social benefits in the world, the state is always present so there is not such a thing like a “weak state” for even reduced to its most basic function of sheer physical repression it always remains strong and pulling the strings one way or another. The amount of tasks that may have actually been delegated on the state does not change the basic nature of the situation but obeys to different strategic approaches that social elites may need at any given moment; from containment to open attack.
When we see how in the midst of what everyone thought would be a new wave of “cut throat” liberal “laissez faire” capitalism, the state has had to literally get out of its way to rescue banks on the brink of bankruptcy by pumping in them millions of that other abstraction known as “public money” the question automatically arises: who the hell assist whom in this game?... is the state an auxiliary of capitalism or vice versa?, what came first, the egg or the chicken?... let's leave this issue for another discussion and just retain the idea that there is much to be talked and researched on the matter as well as too many pre-assumptions blindly accepted in a regular basis.
What all those “citizens” so easily outraged when they feel that “their” tax money is being spent inappropriately do not want to realise is that the very same act of paying taxes is a theft in itself perpetrated by the State. Paying taxes is nothing but being stolen a sort of state-surplus out of our wages that subsequently will be used in whatever the state sees fit which rarely coincides with what we actually desire or need at the moment. What is more, even those applications of tax intended to “benefit” people at the bottom of society are nothing but a poisoned candy, one more weapon in the state's ample arsenal to consolidate its domination and exploitation over us by weakening our wills, seducing us with an assisted and effortless life where sensualist enjoyment has primacy over hard work towards an end and ethical rightness and directly attacking our freedom of conscience by systematic media bombardment. What looks like the nicest side of every state is nothing but its most cunning, subtle and cruel set of weapons.
The blackmailing perpetrated through social benefits and charity aims at keeping us appeased and above all, conveniently policed in an army-like nightmare of impositions and humiliations. Anything can get to be tolerated as long as we keep the crappy money they give us in the dole flowing in every week. Such is how low has got to fall the human-shaped piece of shit, lazy TV junkie, dope headed, good for nothing, obese, drunken homunculus stripped of any shade of self-respect in which we have turned ourselves into by swallowing the social-democratic promises of welfare without destroying the state. Let us then not delude ourselves and realise that the real goal of the benefit and “social security” structure is to keep us working and accepting submissively this crappy “life” chained to the filth of wage labour and the tasteless products of consumerism, making a job even out of the very same action of looking for a job.
This false and simplistic division between “state sponsored = good” versus “private capitalism = evil” has to be done away with once and for all. All along History taxes have been hated and its payment resisted against every form of state or hierarchical power. It is only nowadays, through the chimera of the welfare state, that we have been made to believe the opposite, which works only in our own detriment by weakening our rebel spirit and tempting us with the comfortability of getting fed, shut up and mind our own businesses, always in symbiosis with the state but in total mistrust towards the neighbour next door, always dependant on charity, never really free and exerting our own individual and collective power over our own matters.
Let us make no mistake and regard the Welfare state as what it is in reality, one more way to either repress or soften and seduce us, to make us run after the carrot until the moment in which carrots run out and then, all of a sudden the only thing we can see everywhere is nothing but the truncheons and tear gas of the police. It is not only capitalism what has to be destroyed, but also and above all the state.
What has to be understood once and for all is that apart from an organised resistance against capitalist economy as an unfair system of production and distribution of resources what has to be urgently developed is a NEW ETHICS OF FREEDOM entailing a taste for effort, sacrifice and hard work out of the trap of wage labour. This new lifestyle based on a dignified , uncompromising and freely assumed poverty along with a REAL PRACTICE OF MUTUAL AID AMONG PEOPLE HERE AND NOW, might well act as a real social virus through which revolutionaries actively challenge by force of exemplary behaviour the dominant convictions imposed by the state. After all, revolutionaries of all ages have always convinced other people to fight for freedom by turning themselves into living examples rather than expecting everything from a miraculous interplay of circumstances always foreign to human being's conscious everyday action. Therefore we need a change in values and behaviours strong enough to develop an authentic revolutionary will that will never be able to arise by placing all our odds in the no matter how shitty material conditions might still be to come. We have been educated to behave like filth, to give up any ethical value and principle as long as the stench of money gets in the air, to think that things have always been this way and will never change, forgetting our own history. All this crap in our heads can thwart any sincere revolutionary attempt at any moment so one of the most urgent tasks to be performed is the one of working on ourselves, taking back some proud, some courage, learn to be better persons and make a difference through our acts wherever we go and whatever we do. If we forget this we will achieve nothing and whatever happens after an insurrection caused merely by material deprivation might well be worse than capitalism itself. This way we must be aware of the fact that ultimately people will act (if they ever do) out of their own decision to do so and not moved by any sort of determinism whether economical or of any other kind. We must then make a clear distinction between conditioning (external factors that may or may not influence personal and collective behaviours) and determinism, which comes to be a kind of lay faith in that people will unavoidably act in a given way should the right set of conditions get to happen. For this view what the individuals themselves wish to do matters little more than horse shit compared to the ineluctability of superior and uncontrollable forces such as the “Laws of history” for example.
We must acknowledge the former and reject the latter turning ourselves into walking examples of the world we would like to see after our revolution, showing people who may not be involved in anything how things can be done in many different ways. We need to leave our comfortable ghettoes and get acquainted with those sectors of the population more liable to get affected by the present crisis and attempt to build new social networks of self-management in the most basic needs. Should we desire to pursue our generalised insurrection we will need to remember that we cannot just eat stones and drink petrol so a well organised rear-guard able to self-manage the basic supplies for entire neighbourhoods in order to resist the counter-attacks of the state and its terrorists will prove crucial in the years to come. This may well give rise to an effective anti-state counter power ready to learn, to spread constructive communication among rebels, to fight back and to make history. If the welfare state gets dismantled let us then begin to organise ourselves without any mediation or hierarchy. Let us attack the state and the market and snatch from them anything that might be useful for us, let us seize back the streets turning them into spaces of confrontation with our oppressors and organise ourselves in our own neighbourhoods to produce our own food, socialise the products of the looting, build our own weapons, put our individual and collective creativity to work in order to find our own solutions for the problems that may come up. This is not an impossible dream. Look back in our history and you will see many people before us already doing it and learning from their mistakes. This is happening now in countless indigenous communities of Latin America, in Greece, and in many other places we may have not heard about in the mainstream media.
Finally let us make clear that opposing Welfare state does not mean that we should abstain from fighting for specific reforms here and now, placing all our odds to a sort of abstract future in which the redemption of social revolution will come to us by itself. The thing is to do it in our own terms, through action and not compromising with the enemy. Thus, both short and long term objectives must be incorporated to our action; the struggle for immediate improvements in our survival under capitalist rule should at all moments go hand in hand with the wildest and most vivid desires for its destruction. Capitalism is synonym with merciless, war, cruelty, and exploitation. The state is there only to repress us, be it through violence or by softer reformist policies aiming at the maintenance of social peace but also keeping the same imbalances, the same difference between oppressors and oppressed, the slaves of the wage labour system against those who profit from it.
The solution therefore, is in ourselves, nowhere else.
Are we really up for it?...