Replying under PM Carpenter’s latest dissection of David Brooks – a post that moves through an assessment of the OWS/”99%” movement, and turns into a late obituary on the Marxist Left – commenter Robert Lipscomb ups the ante to 99.9%, or maybe 99.99%:
One needs to look at the 400 families who own half of the wealth of the country to see that the 99 percentile are just not in their league or country club or country. Yes, the couple who are making $500,000 a year are getting screwed by the patriarchs, just as we are.
No. Not just as “we” are.
Since this discussion proceeds under the heading of “end of Marxism,” I’ll use the Marxian terminology for old times’ sake: So, to begin with, Comrade Lipscomb’s couple belong to a very different petit bourgeois stratum… and this opens up a whole discussion of class consciousness, false consciousness, and different relationships to “the system” and to each other…
Consider the recent apparently conservative-sponsored reply to the “99%” slogan: Compared to rest of the world (insert photograph of child-victims of some unspecified African famine), “you” are a member of the 1%.I say “apparently conservative-sponsored” because, in another moral calculus or another era, the sentiment might have been a religious or revolutionary or religious and revolutionary call to solidarity with 100% of humanity. As a conservative’s riposte to OWS, however, it is as true-enough as it is nakedly amoral, a brute appeal to material self-interest, a reminder that membership in the club is contingent on continued good behavior.
All of us are writing our assessments of the state of politics and history as interested parties. So we of course reject the notion that our consciousness could be false. What else would someone suffering from false consciousness do?
We as in anyone reading this may be “getting screwed” along with the 500k/annum lackeys by those at the tippy-top, but everyone’s screwed. Wherever you stop on the ladder, you find someone who cannot find satisfaction in the position afforded him or her by Capital. Marx, at least in his Young Hegelian mode, understood this, but praxis, as usual, tended to override such insight in favor of action, which in political terms often seems to mean finding, naming, and, if possible, destroying enemies.
In the 20th Century, bad praxis almost totally overwhelmed its supposed philosophical bases, to the point of fully obscuring them. Nonetheless, the neo-Marxian critique of Late Capitalism, and specifically of financialized neo-liberalism against the declining rate of profit in high tech industry has been rather well borne out in recent history, up to the present moment.
As the early dialectical materialist Lao-Tse put it, nature empties that which is full, and fills that which is empty. The communist moment has not passed: It’s just taking its world-historical superhuman time to arrive, and works by mysterious means. As the early Marxist prophets explained, a thousand years is only a blink of an eye for the Almighty World Revolution.