Monday, October 13, 2008

Lenin and the October 2008 Bailout (2)

I am continuing on this topic. The first entry, Lenin and the October 2008 Bailout, included the following main elements: (1) this bailout could be an apex of capitalistic history, (2) we are experiencing the result of that highest stage of capitalism, "imperialism", as defined by Lenin, (3) this financial market crash may prove to be an "Event" as posited by Alain Badiou.

First, on element (3) above, I made reference to another earlier entry,
Alain Badiou - Allegiance to the Truth Event. Therein is introduced several articles in making the point germane to the topic of the 2008 Bailout: that is, the advent of this "Event" challenges the existing coordinates of power - and of paramount importance is what action will constitute allegiance to the "Truth" the "Event" reveals. This is an opportunity to intervene and undermine the existing coordinates of power.

One article introduced in that earlier entry, by Badiou,
Philosophy as Biography states his special meaning for "Truth" in the philosophical order he gives himself to

"transform the notion of truth in such a way that it obeys the equalitarian maxim".

In another article introduced in that entry, by Savoj Zizek, On Alain Badiou and Logics of Worlds the concept of allegiance is nicely elucidated, referring to how in the Badiouan "Event"

"a utopian dimension shines through, the dimension of universal emancipation which, precisely, is the excess betrayed by the market reality which takes over "the day after" - as such, this excess is not simply abolished, dismissed as irrelevant, but, as it were, transposed into the virtual state, continuing to haunt the emancipatory imaginary as a dream waiting to be realized".

Getting back to the first entry on this topic,Lenin and the October 2008 Bailout, it seemed clear to me that it was necessary to expand the discussion from the register of theoretical concepts, keeping that theoretical background, but also looking at what was being said and done today by people who I thought could be demonstrating "allegiance", in the sense defined. I referred the reader to a couple of interviews on video (see the entry for those links), one with William Greider and the other with Joseph Stiglitz. Today I am reporting more on this line of discussion.

I am still in New York and was happy to learn William Greider was one of the featured participants at a forum, which I attended on October 10th: Progressives Respond to the Wall Street Crisis: An Emergency Town Hall held at the Brecht Forum in Manhattan. Appearing as well were Naomi Klein,Doug Henwood, Arun Gupta (reporter and editor at The Indypendent newspaper who inspired a recent protest at Wall street) and Francis Fox Piven.

Thanks to Debbie Nathan's Blog for this nice summary of what was said at the forum:

"Bill Greider started things off, reminding the audience that the old order is wobbling and now is the time for the Left to start thinking big about how to act big. Doug Henwood opined that capitalism’s current crisis isn’t a hoax or a scare tactic. It’s very real and very capable of bringing down not just the ruling class, but the rest of us as well. Which is why the bailout was needed, as much as it stinks and now needs retooling. Naomi Klein had a few ideas about what we can do quickly. “Nationalize Exxon,” she suggested, or better, “internationalize” it, in order to distribute all those megaprofits downward — to us — instead of upward. Klein also pointed out that Barack Obama’s main economic advisor, whom he talks with every day, is the Goldman-Sachsite and Greenspanian Bob Rubin. She said the Left should be immediately demanding that Obama fire Rubin. The beautiful and corundum Francis Fox Priven also spoke. As a culture, we're at the same place now that we were in 1930s, she said. For years lately, Wall Street and Free Marketers and neoliberals have convinced ordinary people that their view of the world and our place in it is right, proper, moral, visionary. Now, as in the 1930s, their class is exposed as fools and charlatans, and their rhetoric stupid and empty. The Great Depression unleashed social movements — of the unemployed, for example, and especially of labor — which pushed Franklin Roosevelt to redistribute capitalist wealth. To a point. Now there’s a chance for a rerun. And who knows how far it will go this time".

These views by recognized progressive activists and the fact that such a forum and recent protests have spontaneously arisen at the event of this 2008 Bailout, suggests many are sensing this can be a time to intervene and seriously challenge the existing coordinates of power. The way to intervene is the critical question. This may have been William Greider's point, and Naomi Kliein made some very specific comments on what kind of demands could be made. The recent video interview with William Greider linked in these pages also makes some very specific suggestions of what we should demand from the execution of the Bailout. Francis Fox Priven was uncompromising in her assertion that we need to unleash a social movement that demands an end to the "stupid and empty" neoliberal rhetoric. Doug Henwood counseled caution in demanding change recklessly. The critical point that reached me was everyone thinks now is the time to press demands.

So it comes now to why am I writing about this. Of course it has to do with the brand of revolutionary practice I want to serve, for the reasons I do. To this end, in the context of my stated purposes for the blog, what has come to mind now, is to introduce a perhaps un-heeded perception on the question of "demanding": what Sovoj Zizek writes about what he characterizes as the "symbiotic relationship between power and resistance". This will be an entry in the near future.

Blog Guide: A discussion of blog features and primary topic content may be found at the initial entry. The first few entries give a good idea of how best to use the blog, especially for the tagging and social bookmarking at my external Delicious site, and for instructions regarding the Stefandav TV widget.

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