Monday, 26 November 2018

The oligarchy that lurks behind, the Deep State and Yanis Varoufakis

A few  weeks ago I was reading a history of the fall of the Roman Republic. It was written by Syme who talked about the "oligarchy that lurks behind all systems of government" I thought of Marx's concept of the superstructure that replicates and reinforces the state under capitalism I mused on to consider Bordieu's habitus and of the soft power that persuades us to accept the soft power of Gramsci's concept of political hegemony. Indeed the Frankfort school argued in their synthesis of psychodynamic theory and classical Marxism that the key was that the superstructure was embedded within us unconsciously and I directly into our psyche and our identity. I wondered if as we learnt about ourselves and our society through understanding of numerous lens, metaphors and theories both psychologically and sociologically we learnt to understand the matrix that we exist within. As we learnt about ourselves perhaps we freed ourselves from it's controls and conditioning. Perhaps the agents of control were gradually revealed as we learnt both about ourselves and the state apparatus that existed both formally and informally. Then on  a Sunday afternoon Hayley was listening to Yanis Varoufakis who was talking about the para state and of the conspiracy without Conspirators.. as I listened I found it fascinating and relevant to my own thoughts and puzzling over the last few days. He introduced the concept of the para or deep state in an entirely new way both in terms of method and motive and I want to share it with you.... 

He argues that the very antithesis of the para state existed in a limited case in the polls of ancient Greece. Here office holding was usually determined by lot. Anyone who was a citizen could be selected randomly and their work and effectiveness would be assessed by the citizen assemblies. In the para state or deep state the office holders defend the status quo from a variety of motives and emotions. They may think that they are keeping g for example the left at bay or preventing a threat from Islamic terrorism. The problem of course is that the holders of these informal a d formal offices may not know themselves or the conditioning that they have received. They may believe that the superstructure that controls them is a valid option. They particularly the modern "libertarians" for example have no concept of collective illusions and delusions and only believe in an individualistic model of the self. Think of Margaret Thatcher’s belief that society does not really exist.

The death of ideological thought under Blair's New Labour and the believe that we had reached the end of history because of the victory of Liberal Capitalism was a deadly toxin that begat amongst certain horrors the rise of Trump, UKIP and the Far Right. The hiding of socialist ideology and it's critique by Blair and others meant that a perceived 'liberal elite' emerged that was distant and uncaring from the lives of ordinary people and as the main parties of the state took on board a globalized market approach they all seemed to be the same. The term optician became a pejorative term as political action was driven into a zone that ordinary people could not read or even reach. The appearance of parties like UKIP and the rise of Trump fooled, persuaded and hypnotized those left outside the elite that these two pipers offered a way forward. Varoufakis says that some years ago he read the speeches of Doctor Goebbels and found that the central critique outlined in the middle sections of his speeches were essentially a critique of large corporations and international capitalism. The problem was that the left in Weimar too had surrender ideology and it had captured and used by the Far Right nationalism and centralization of the Nazis. Tania argued that the madness and viciousness’ of Fascism existed at the beginnings of the speech and at its end. It was this central critique of corporate society that attracted so many to the Nazis. Of course it was to prove their undoing as the horror of Nazi Germany led to genocide, world war two and the death camps.

Read the middle sections of Goebbels speeches says Varoufakis and you will see the words of Trump coming back at you. You will hear the phrases used by UKIPs numerous leaders as well. By abandoning ideology and in creating a docile workforce Blair Brown and others sowed the seed of their own destruction. But with it came the unintended consequences of a hatred of the so called "liberal elite" The death of ideology meant that worker was isolated from worker. That the victims of international capitalism and globalization were taught to hate the foreigner, the migrant and those who appeared different. It was divide and rule and out of the great sea of illusion rose a public school Tory stockbroker able to persuade so many that he was just an ordinary bloke down the pub. In America a Plutocrat with a thin skin and a large ego did the same. But it was Blair and Brown and Clinton who were the midwives of this process. The left did not know it had even surrendered its critique as the process had begun some twenty years before.

In the 2015 general election I had watched the Kinnock clan throughout that election champion the globalized economy. At debate after debate I watched Stephen Kinnock claim over and over again that he understood how to access the large corporate companies that would provide jobs to the people of Port Talbot. He seemed unaware of the fault lines and tremors that would ultimately lead to the destruction of his agenda and outlook. At the count I saw the Kinnocks at the count; surrounded by security unaware how distant and remote they were. Old Kinnocio had only eyes for the crown Prince of neo liberalism his beloved Stephen.

As Corbyn in the 2017 election outflanked the para state with youthful enthusiasts and social media I saw the para or deep state begin to crack. It continues to crack now and so few realize the nature of the change. Varoufakis says that the conspiracy exists largely because so few understand the nature of it and of the superstructure of the state. Many fail to realize that they prop it up or defend it. This is because they do not have the tools to understand themselves or society. This is the false consciousness that Marx talked of. By taking back the critique from the false prophets we create the means if transformation and free ourselves from the para or deep state. Varoufakis talks of their being no real conspirators merely those who fail to understand or comprehend what is happening. I often think when talking to people that they fail to understand that they are unconsciously the collaborators in the deep state and the unconscious conspirators. However unlike Varoufakis I fear that there are real conspirators who crave the creation of a docile electorate. Corbyn is clearly changing the rules and proviso g a new way forward. Yet we have seen over the last few months the wounded actions striking out of the para state and to me right now it appears at its most dangerous. Varoufakis argues that the left will win but says it will be difficult. He concludes that capitalism will be destroyed by technical change and of the essential need for a citizen’s income. I hope he is right. The deep state fears change but then again so many do. I like Varoufakis describe myself as an erratic Marxist and Eco socialist. Let us also remember that even Bill Gates said only socialism can stop climate change.

As an extra point I would like to mention the paradigm aspect of the above thoughts and speculations. Nearly two years ago I debated with an alt righter and UKIP "libertarian" Benjamin Mackenzie. He argued that Hitler was a Socialist and in that debate I completely destroyed his argument. Benjamin was not exactly the sharpest philosopher in the box. He mistook Hitler's rhetoric as ideology and therefore made a categorical error. The point made by Varoufakis clearly illustrates this error. He clearly also mistook the adjective libertarian for a noun as do so many. When the left abandons ideology and critical thinking lazy and superficial thinkers of the right move in turning ideology to rhetoric to facile and empty surface similarities. I will paste a link to the debate to allow you to observe the debate.

The excellent blog makes the following analysis of the deabte. "

The resistible rise of Arturo Mackenzie

Being Welsh i do like to take an interest in the welsh blogosphere and sad to report that despite Wales proud radical political traditions the welsh blogosphere is by no means uniformly left wing or progressive. Indeed i can only think of two bloggers in Wales (apart from yours truly of course) who consistently articulate progressive and left wing arguments - Glyn Morris of the excellent 'National Left' blog and Martyn Shrewsbury's always enlightening 'All too Human blog' and links to both these blogs can be found at the end of this post. And it was while on a recent visit to Martyn's blog i learned of an online debate he recently participated in with the Neath based UKIP activist and editor of the right wing 'Burkean' website Benjamin Mackenzie.

 For those who might not be familiar with 'Burkeans' and think they might be creatures from an episode of Dr Who they are in fact disciples of the 18th century Philosopher Edmund Burke and represent an eccentric strand in 'conservative' thinking that abhors the emergence of the modern state. For Burkeans the 'rot' set in so to speak in around 1832 when voting rights started to be extended to people who didnt own property. 'Self reliance' and 'thrift' are the watchwords for any aspiring Burkean. So if you need open heart surgery there shouldnt be anything as apparently 'tyrannical' as a national health service to treat you - you either do it yourself or you should have worked hard and saved to pay for it. Similarly Burkeans recoil in horror at progressive 20th century developments like 'state education' - for burkeans educating the proles isnt just wrong it's positively dangerous. It really is no surprise then that even Margaret Thatcher sent these misanthropic right wing headbangers packing during her years in office.

While for those who might not know Martyn Shrewsbury he was the first leader of the Wales Green party and has subsequently become an articulate and consistent champion of 'Eco Socialism' ie the belief that the pursuit of social and economic justice must be married to the protection of the world's environment and the livings things we share this planet with. And in that sense everyone who proclaims themselves to be a socialist in the world which exists at present surely has to be an eco socialist. For green socialists like Martyn politics begins at the community level and the phrase "think global - act local" would be a very good summation of this approach to political activity i think.

They were debating Benjamin Mackenzie's claim that Adolf Hitler was a socialist. I dont intend spending too much time dismantling this absurd proposition - suffice to say anyone with the slightest grasp of German history in the two decades after the first world war would know Hitler and his nazi regime were about as far from socialism as you could get. But just to briefly recap, lest anyone is labouring under the mistaken impression there is anything to Mackenzie's risible claims : Hitler joined the German workers party as a spy on behalf of the German army. In his deranged Magnus Opus Mein Kamp Hitler repeatedly expressed his all consuming hatred of marxism and its jewish author. Throughout his sorry misbegotten life Hitler had an abiding hatred of two things - jews and the left. Before they came to power in Germany the nazis routinely attacked and murdered socialists, communists and striking workers. 

And when the Nazis came to power socialist and communist parties - along with trade unions - were immediately outlawed and it was members of these parties along with trade unionists who joined jews as the first prisoners of the concentration camps. The major german industrialists backed and funded the Nazis precisely because they destroyed the german labour movement (decapitating the organised working class has of course always been a key aim of fascist regimes). With a membership drawing heavily from Middle class professions like civil servants, doctors, engineers and the self employed the nazis privatised swathes of german industry - in fact the term 'privatisation' was first coined during the third reich - and private property was left untouched. In essence Hitler and the Nazis were to socialism what Pontius Pilate was to christianity.
If his denials of the extreme right wing nature of Hitler and the third reich werent bad enough Benjamin Mackenzie then (around 9 minutes 55 seconds in) proceeds to offer what can only be described as an undisguised apologia for Mussolini's fascist state. In a bizarre attempt to tell us that Fascism isnt synonymous with racism he cites the example of Mussolini's Italy. It would seem that according to Ben Mussolini wasnt a racist or indeed such a bad guy at all and that il duce's fascist state didnt pursue any racist policies until 1938, and that was only because of 'pressure' from his ally Hitler (clearly Ben Mackenzie has never come across the celebrated writings of a certain Primo Levi).

Unfortunately among the reams of notes Mackenzie seemingly printed off from wikipedia and recites in parrot fashion during the debate he seems to have missed the fact that as far back as the early 1920s Mussollini was stressing the importance of  'preserving europe's aryan stock' and denouncing 'jewish bankers' - phrases which could easily have sprung from hitler's own lips. And as the historian Renzo de Felice has demonstrated Mussolini was under no such pressure rather the 'race manifesto' he introduced in italy in 1938 was merely an extension of Mussolini's own long held racially motivated outlook.

Mackenzie also conveniently seems to have overlooked the deeply racist policies Fascist Italy pursued 3 years prior to this in 1935 following its brutal invasion of the then Abbysinia (now ethiopia). After a conquest in which the Italian army had used chemical weapons and slaughtered three quarters of a million Abbysinian soldiers and civilians Italian rulers there proceeded to enact a series of racial laws which would have put apartheid South Africa to shame. And in communique's Mussolini sent to the italian occupiers following the conquest he instructed that any Abbysinians who still resisted Italian rule should be 'exterminated'. Note the word extermination - a word more commonly associated with the Nazis in relation to the jews but a policy began in Ethiopia by Mussolini in 1936. 

But then Mussolini was denouncing slavs as 'barbarians' in 1920 - and later incarcerating thousands of them in concentration camps. And thousands of Roma were put in concentration camps and starved to death in fascist Italy. Far from il duce aping hitler - as Mussolini apologists like to try and claim - if anything it looks as if Hitler learned a thing or two from Mussolini.
And for further evidence of the truly monstrous nature of Mussolini's Fascist rule you could also throw in the vast military and logistical support he gave to Franco's fascist forces in their overthrow of the elected republican government in spain : supplying 85,000 troops, 30,000 blackshirts and torpedoing ships taking essential supplies to ports in republican controlled towns. Indeed without Mussolini's support it's doubtful Franco's forces would have triumphed and subsequently been able to unleash a reign of terror which saw an estimated 250,000 republican prisoners summarily executed and buried in hidden mass graves.
Oh and let's not forget that on Mussolini's watch Jews in Italy were banned from public office, banned from numerous occupations and banned from marrying non jews and that 10,000 italian jews would be deported and perish in the nazi concentration camps at Auschwitz. And when towards the end of the debate Benjamin Mackenzie attempted to draw comparisons between Nicola Sturgeon's SNP (a left leaning anti racist social democratic party) and the Nazis i realised he had completely lost the plot. 

Alarmingly Benjamin Mackenzie describes himself during the debate as a 'british nationalist'. Now unless youve been on another planet in the last few years you'd know that this is a term synonymous with british neo fascist organisations like the British National Party and the utterly repugnant Britain First, and because of these repellent associations it's a term which even the likes of Nigel Farage would never be caught using in a million years.
UKIP isnt of course responsible for public statements by its individual members, indeed in recent times they've acted relatively quickly when members have been found to have fascist or extreme right wing sympathies. So when Benjamin Mackenzie's fellow Neath based kipper Malcolm Biggs was recently exposed as a former candidate for a neo fascist party he was promptly removed from their list of candidates for the Welsh Assembly elections last May. But should Benjamin Mackenzie stand for position within UKIP or seek to contest an election for the party UKIP officials are going to have to tackle him about some of the deeply alarming views he expressed in this video. As a failure to do so rightly means UKIP will continue to be open to charges they are a home to people with fascist and extreme right wing sympathies.
It will be apparent to some that the title of this post is a paraphrase of a very famous work by the left wing German playwright Bertochlt Brecht (if you know the play the title requires no explanation lol).

I have often found that the Kipper criticism of the political elite has a grain of truth. However, it's partial and poorly constructed. It's essentially a critique tempered heavily by prejudice and referenced by " the man down the pub" The rise of Momentum and its political empowerment has given us the return of true socialist ideology and critique. The return of Corbyn radical politics completes the true death of new Labour and the return to a socialism of the 21rst century. It's is Blair et al who gave power to a blue kipper analysis. A true socialist Labour Party is the only antidote to the clowns of Blair and to the mutant hypnosis of the right wing populist demagogues. There is still a long way to go and we must work hard to liberate so many from the matrix of late capitalism freeing people as we go from their blind spots and giving them access to their own psychological identity. However, as Mark Twain observed it is harder to convince someone that they have been fooled rather than to tell them the truth Upton Sinclair commented that in a society where your pay depends on thinking a particular way it is hard to achieve long term change. Anyway Yanis Varoufakis has given me and now you all much food for thought. As Napoleon observed it is easier to eat than be eaten.....

Is there a Deep State in our western liberal democracies? If so, is it a conspiracy or something more ‘interesting’ than that? These are questions that the Left has been traditionally engaged with, especially when facing undercover campaigns to prevent progressives from winning power or, on occasion, to unseat or destabilise left-wing governments. However, more recently, the Alt-Right has begun waging a war of words against the Deep State, with Donald Trump and his supporters doing so most boisterously. Is this a figment of the imagination on those on the extremities of the political spectrum (left and right), as this BBC Radio 4 program ends up concluding? Or is the Deep State something real, tangible – a clear and present danger for democracy? In this audio essay I argue that the Deep State is inevitable in contemporary, corporate, financialised capitalism and constitutes democracy’s greatest foe.

"After exploring the space between markets and formal state institutions in which the Deep State ‘lives’ as a Private-Public Technocracy, I outline the four manufacturing ‘processes’ that constitute it:

1.   Manufacturing prices (i.e. subverting the very market mechanism that capitalism is supposed to rely on)

2.   Manufacturing desires

3.   Manufacturing money (e.g. the black magic by which central and private banks conjure up the supply of money)

4.   Manufacturing consent

Touching upon the great misconception of the establishment’s liberal individualist political philosophy regarding the limits of the state (and what it means to be an autonomous individual), I define the Deep State as a conspiracy without conspirators, as a grand design without a designer (i.e. not too dissimilar to the manner in which Darwinian evolution produces complex systems without a grand designer, or how – according to Adam Smith – a market regulates supply and demand without any human actually regulating them).

Finally, I return to the 1920s and 1930s, in order to highlight the manner in which Donald Trump and the new Nationalist-Fascist International is copying Goebbels and Mussolini in attacking the Deep State only in order to take it over and use it against those whose votes and attention they seek to appropriate.

Lastly, I put forward a radical idea of what to do about the Deep StateP: Nothing! Progressives must simply fight for democracy, reason and humanism and, as long as we manage to unite across countries and to break down antiquated party-political divisions, the Deep State will recede."

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