Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Morbid phenomena of the most varied kind

There's a curious sense of a world marking time. Politics in America, the UK and Europe sounds more than usually confected. Bogus 'outrage' over "Russian intervention in elections", theatrical tub-thumping over North Korea, tedious shadow-boxing over Brexit.

It's all shallow - elite protagonists going through the motions.

Here's an extract from that excellent essay which is Chapter 11 of Michael Heinrich's "An Introduction to the Three Volumes of Karl Marx's Capital":  State and Capital (p. 208).

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"A decisive shortcoming of the conception of the bourgeois state as an instrument in the hands of the capitalist class is that it presupposes a “ruling” class that is both unified and capable of acting, as well as a clearly defined class interest that simply needs an instrument for its implementation.

Neither assumption is self-evident. The “economic ruling class” in capitalism consists of capitalists with widely varying, even opposing interests. There is a common interest in the maintenance of the capitalist mode of production, but if the system is not threatened by a revolutionary movement, then this interest is far too general to serve as a guideline for “normal” state action. The interests that determine the state’s activity are not just sitting around waiting to be implemented, as is assumed by the instrumentalist conception. Rather, these interests must first be constituted.

All of the state’s measures are contested, whether the issue is the concrete organization of the legal system, the securing of the material conditions of accumulation, or the type and extent of welfare state benefits.

As a rule, every measure brings disadvantages for some capitalists (sometimes even for all capitalists) and advantages for others (or fewer disadvantages than for the rest). Advantages expected - but not certain - over the long term are pitted against immediate disadvantages.

The issue of what the general capitalist interest consists in, which challenges the state should react to and how - all that has to constantly be ascertained. State policies presuppose a constant ascertainment of the general interest and the measures for its implementation."
We're witnessing the terminal decay of the neoliberal ideological project amid the rising resentment of significant strata of society who are 'just not happy with the way things are going' - who yearn for vague, inchoate change.

I see genuine confusion within the elite as to optimal policy going forwards.

This seems very Gramsci:

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“The crisis consists precisely in the fact that the old is dying and the new cannot be born; in this interregnum morbid phenomena of the most varied kind come to pass.”
It's hard to see a way out without some kind of multi-year social and economic crisis.

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