martedì 28 marzo 2017

Edmund Berger :: Unconditional Acceleration and the Question of Praxis: Some Preliminary Thoughts @ Deterritorial Investigation Unit, 27 March 2017


Edmund Berger :: Unconditional Acceleration and the Question of Praxis: Some Preliminary Thoughts @ D.I.U. / Deterritorial Investigation Unit, 27 March 2017
One of the major points of contention concerning unconditional accelerationism (henceforth U/ACC) is a perceived slight or rejection of any ‘positive’ form of political activity or organizing. The complaint can be summed up with the single phrase “U/ACC lacks praxis”. In the common leftist deployment of the phrase, this is exactly correct. Moreover, we could go as far to say that U/ACC rejects praxis, even that it is anti-praxis – yet, at the same time, this is not so straightforward. If we step back take praxis in its most broad sense – the higher form of acting in the world – then U/ACC is hardly anti-praxis; it simply asks that the limits and the inevitable dissolution of things be acknowledged (there is no contradiction between posing this alongside the Xenofeminist mantra “if nature is unjust, change nature”). No, U/ACC manifests an anti-praxis line when a very specific sort is proposed, that is, the political-territorial subordination and navigation of the forces in motion by a mass subject – the politics of striation. For this reason, perhaps it is best to view U/ACC not as anti-praxis, but as anti-collective means of intervention.
The rejection of collective intervention does not, in the first instant, derive from a normative political claim, though it can (and should up to a certain degree, in my opinion). Instead, U/ACC calls attention to the manner through which collective forms of intervention and political stabilization, be they of the left or the the right, are rendered impossible in the long-run through overarching tendencies and forces. Thus, while left-accelerationism (L/ACC) and right-accelerationism (R/ACC) seek to recompose or reterritorialize Leviathan in accordance with each of their own political theologies, U/ACC charts a course outwards: the structures of Oedipus, the Cathedral, Leviathan, what have you, will be ripped apart and decimated by forces rushing up from within and around the system, which in turn mobilize the entirety of the system towards its own dissolution point. Unlike L/ACC and R/ACC, U/ACC is not at the bottom a political theory; it is one of mobilizing materialism.
Consider the classic Marxian formula: M – C – M’. This is, of course, a simple pathway of capital, beginning with money (M), which is translated into the commodity (C) to be sold on the market. If successful sold, the commodity is translated into a greater amount of money than at the beginning (M’) – and it is at this point that the process restarts. M – C – M’ – C…. on and on and on. If this is the ‘general formula of capital’, as Marx describes it, then it is also the general formula of modernity itself. This, in turn, clues us into the abstract force, glimpsed through diagrammation, which can lurks behind modernity rendered as historical totality: positive feedback. M – C – M’, the process looping for what appears as eternity, forever pushing itself to higher and higher heights. The processual relations of capital appear here as far from any sort of homeostasis.
Positive feedback not only marks the evolution of a given system, or a generalized forward direction. It is also indicative of dissolution, of breaking apart, of past forms being undermined and propelled towards catastrophe. While for many the catastrophe might appear as something like communism, Marx as early as the Communist Manifesto was enraptured by the image of capitalist modernity as unfolding through creative destruction. As Marshall Berman describes, Marx’s depiction of “all that is solid melting into air” is a vision of these processes rendered “luminous, incandescent; brilliant images succeed and blend into one another; we are hurtled along with a reckless momentum, a breathless intensity.”i From here it is only a small leap to Lyotard’s depiction in Libidinal Economy of Marx slowly going mad, seduced by the delirious circuitries of exchange of capitalism and committing himself to “microscopic analysis of the aberrations of capitalism… no longer able to detach himself from it.”ii It begins with a general formula, a singular positive feedback code, and compounds itself endlessly, its circuitries deepening and widening, expanding and contracting, an array of falls and upward-propelling factors.
The positive-feedback processes does not end in the modular pathways of the transmutation between money, commodity, and labor. It radiates out across the entirety of social, cultural, political, even ecology strata (it is for this reason that we can describe capitalism as a historical era, even if all these elements were in play long before capitalism itself). The widening of commodity production over here generates trade networks, churning up market expansion over there. Rapid technological development diffusing through a given industry pushes prices down, bringing more into the cycles of production and thus consumption – and technological development radiates into newer, faster, more adaptive technologies. Technocommercialism begins to shake culture, society, and polity, forcing them into fragmentation and new forms. Firm structures and deeply-held beliefs buckle and break under the movement of people, money, and goods. All these forces lock into momentum with one another and act as force multipliers, each looping through the other, pushing it forward, faster, moving the entirety of the system towards… something – and it is this something that control systems, of either the left or the right, would be forced (and will always fail) to contend with.
Yaneer Bar-Yam, founder and head researcher of the New England Complex Systems Institute, describes the bulk of human civilization as capable of being characterized, first and foremost, as a “control hierarchy”, in which (at the ideal level, at least) “all communication, and thus coordination of activities, must occur through the hierarchy.”iiiWorkplace dynamics must be routed through management, just as military affairs pivot on the chain of command. Nations deploy presidents and prime ministers, and businesses bring on CEOs. In spaces where control hierarchies prevail, the controller not only serves to properly manage and direct the channels of communication for coordination (thus presaging directly the concerns of first-order cybernetics); it also plays the role of forging that sense of continuity, the inscription of organic wholeness on the myriad of parts.
Yet it is not so straightforward as simple control hierarchies. Through the passage of time, the prevailing organizational dynamics have shifted not only at the immediate, everyday level (say, on the factory production line or in the corporate boardroom), but at the civilizational level as well. Hunter-gatherer societies often organized in clusters based on direct hierarchy, while the passage from early civilization to the industrial revolution(s) saw this hierarchy move from wider chain-of-command systems to be dynamic entanglements. With each passing iteration, the status of the hierarchical formation itself declines as the relations tend towards the network, or even post-network, formations. This is precisely because, Bar-Yam notes, of a rise in the ‘complexity profile’ being shaped within civilization. As the nonlinear processes driven by cascading positive feedback intensify and rise, organization itself becomes more complex, more heterogeneous, more multiplicitious, and less congenial to control systems. Rising complexity, in the end, trashes the orderly nature of organic wholeness.
The L/ACC critic might stop here and decry the construction of a strawman. “Of course we aren’t for firm hierarchy,” they are probably saying. “We’re interested in flexible forms, in hybridity and multiplicity.” They might add, as their neo-communist cousins are oft to do, that they even reject planning as traditionally conceived: “we support decentralized planning”. Allow me to respond to these oppositions quickly: flexible control, modular hierarchy, and decentralized planning all fall victim to the same forward rush of rising complexity as their more formalized and concrete kin.
Control systems always rely on a high degree of legibility, the ability to observe a given territory (physical or otherwise) down to its minutia and classify and categorize the elements within it in order to properly enable generalized management and specific intervention.iv Any and all forms of planning require legibility and the capability to tabulate and command every potential variable – yet this becomes its very Achilles’ heel. Consider Andrew Pickering’s description of the conclusions gleamed by the cybernetician Ross Ashby’s research into homeostats: “The only route to stabilisation is to cut down variety – to reduce the number of configurations an assemblage can take on, by reducing the number of participants and the multiplicity of their interconnections.”v The reason that this is immediately is because the control system, regardless of its inflexibility or flexibility or how centralized or decentralized its planning is, operates in a manner akin to that of the homeostat: the movement of a spectrum of variables in play towards a zone of equilibrium in order to promote generalized stability through the system. Pickering at length:
Ashby was interested in the length of time it would take combinations of homeostats to achieve collective equilibrium. He thought of them as models of the brain, so the question for him was whether one could build a brain that would adapt to the world in a reasonable length of time. Both calculations and his machines showed that four fully interconnected homeostats, each capable of taking on twenty-five different inner states, could come into equilibrium in a couple of seconds. But if one extrapolated that an assemblage of one hundred fully interconnected homeostats the combinatories were such that chance on an equilibrium arrangement would entail search-times orders of magnitudes greater than the age of the universe. Even if 99 of them found a way to settle down, chances are that the 100th would set them spinning again.
This is the point to focus on. It takes time to run through homeostat-like processes of reconfiguration, putting possibilities to others who are doing the same back, proposing and counter-posing, vetoing and counter-vetoing. And the length of time it takes to stabilise such an arrangement increases astronomically with the number of participants and the density of their connections, meaning the number of others with which entities interacts directly. Finding stability can easily become a practical impossibility.vi
To properly operate in the real, some sort of sociopolitical island of stability, L/ACC or R/ACC praxis would be contingent upon the expunging of variables upon variables to push the complexity profile downwards, to make it more manageable (which is something that R/ACC tends to admit more than L/ACC). But to do this would not only mean restricting flows of people, goods, and money, as the populists of the left and right both are rushing over one another to do. It would also require roadblocks thrown up in the path of technological development, and the suppressing of the capability of making and using tools to operate in the world. The promotion of a collective cognitive project would, ironically, be forced to suppress cognitive activity on the molecular scale.
In the end this scenario does not seem very likely. Multitudes of positive feedback processes have long since become deeply entrenched, and the system as a whole is undeniably veering far from order. The lingering populisms have rebooted themselves merely as a cynical effort to stave off the dissolution, and from certain angles are more symptomatic than truly reactionary. The complexity profile is rising and will continue, and as it does the capability for collective intervention will become all but impossible. From the perspective of sites of collective intervention both existing (nations, corporations, etc.) and envisioned (variants of post-capitalist planning), these runaway processes cannot but look like entropic decay. From the perspective of power, perhaps the forces rushing upwards are not to be visualized as all that is solid melting into air, but the crushing of all that is stable and standing into disparate granules.
Contra any gamble for collectively scalable politics of bootstrapping and navigation, Bar-Yam suggests that in the face of mounting complexity, organizational design is forced to tend towards “progressively smaller branching ratios (fewer individuals supervised by a single individual)”.vii As mutational development speeds up and legibility fades, size becomes a liability. James Scott has shown that detachment of large managerial forces from the chaotic ‘on-the-ground’ environs is a recipe for disaster. Similarly, Kevin Carson has illustrated the way that the Hayekian knowledge problem (which posits that in complex, evolutionary systems, knowledge distributes in a way that undermines any attempt at planning) not only applies to state-centric command economies, but to the organizational black box of the modern corporation.viiiAs such problems intensify, any possibility for navigation falls downward, to smaller and more dynamic firms, greater marketization (technocommercialism begetting technocommercialism), and ultimately individual actors themselves.
It is at this point where one might happen on something that looks like U/ACC praxis. If one’s goal is the dissolution of the state and/or rule by multinational monopoly capitalism, then why recourse to the very systems and mechanisms that seek to stabilize these forms and shore them up against the forces that undermine them? This question is at the core of Deleuze and Guattari’s insight in the ‘accelerationist fragment’ that to “withdraw from the world market”, as opposed to going deeper into the throes of it, is a “curious revival of the fascist ‘economic solution’”.ix The intellectual complicity of the broad left with this ‘economic solution’ is also why Nick Land – in a moment of incredible anti-fascist theorizing – charged that
re-Hegelianized western Marxism degenerates from the critique of political economy into a state-sympathizing monotheology of economics, siding with fascism against deregulation. The left subsidies into conservatism, asphyxiating its vestigial capacity for hot speculative mutation in the morass of a cold depressive guilt-culture.x
To accelerate the process, and to throw oneself into those flows, leaves behind the (already impossible) specter of collective intervention. This grander anti-praxis opens, in turn, the space for examining forms of praxis that break from the baggage of the past. We could count agorism and exit as forms impeccable to furthering the process, and cypherpoliticsxiand related configurations arise on the far end of the development, as the arc bends towards molecularization of economic and social relations. It is in these horizons that conversation and application must unfold.
No more reterritorializing reactions. No more retroprogressivism.
iMarshall Berman All That is Solid Melts Into Air: The Experience of Modernity Penguin Books, 1988, pg. 91
iiJean-Francois Lyotard Libidinal Economy Athlone Press, 1993, pg. 97
iiiYaneer Bar-Yam “Complexity Rising: From Human Beings to Human Civilization, a Complexity Profile” New England Complex Systems Institute http://www.necsi.edu/research/multiscale/EOLSSComplexityRising.pdf pg. 9
ivOn legibility, see James C. Scott Seeing Like a State: How Certain Schemes to Improve the Human Condition Have Failed Yale University Press, 1999
vAndrew Pickering “Islands of Stability: Engaging Emergence from Cellular Automata to the Occupy Movement” University of Exeter, 2013, pg. 10 https://www.academia.edu/20618708/Islands_of_Stability_Engaging_Emergence_from_Cellular_Automata_to_the_Occupy_Movement
viIbid, pg. 6
viiBar Yam “Complexity Rising” pg.
viiiSee Kevin Carson Organization Theory: A Libertarian Perspective BookCurge, 2008, pgs. 205-223
ixGilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari Anti-Oedipus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia University of Minnesota Press, 1983 pg. 239
xNick Land “Meltdown” Swarm 1 http://www.ccru.net/swarm1/1_melt.htm
xiUnion of Researchers for a Collective Commons “Cypherpolitical Enterprises: Programmatic Assessments” P2P Foundation, March 15th, 2017 https://blog.p2pfoundation.net/cypherpolitical-enterprises-programmatic-assessments/2017/03/15

Pics/Artwork :: Zoorex

sabato 18 febbraio 2017

Edmund Berger :: Uncertain Futures. An Assessment of the Conditions of the Present @ Zero Books





Uncertain Futures: An Assessment of the Conditions of the Present provides a detailed look into the economic and political conditions of our present moment from a Marxist perspective. Key aspects of Marxist economic theory are illustrated in clear ways in order to provide an easy introduction to Marxist thought and their applicability. 
The book also examines the sluggish recovery from the Great Recession, in the context of the long-term feasibility of sustaining the capitalist system by placing it into a historical framework. It considers the necessity of social democratic reforms while calling for an anarchic re-invigoration of the politics of everyday life. Read more @Zero Books


As I finished Edmund’s new book Uncertain Futures: An Assessment of the Conditions of the Present (Get it: here) I realized why I’ve followed his blog Deterritorial Investigations Unit for the past few years: keen intelligence, an encyclopedic breadth of vision encompassing an ethical commitment to the real movement of change, and a loquacious and gracious scholarly acumen and sense of excellence stylistically and in regards of other thinkers place within our cultural history. Critical, observant, detailed – a thinker whose historical sense is not overburdened by a false historicism, but peers into that dark mirror of our near future as if his diagnosis and cure of our ailing civilization were neither a swan song to its demise, nor a belabored undermining of its forward movement into ruin and decay, but rather as a physician of time – a creature from the far flung future seeking to retroactively elide the toxic effects of our dark modernism.... ....Whether you side with the Ogres or the socialists is your choice. Either way we will know you as you are in the near future. Read Edmund Berger’s book, get to know this political economic history in a series of doses that will help you understand what choices are available. You may or may not agree with his socialist agenda, but you can still understand what brought him to his conclusions and why. That in itself is genius. Extract from https://socialecologies.wordpress.com/2017/01/17/edmund-berger-uncertain-futures-a-review/ ~ S.C. Hickman, Social Ecologies blog

Put two economists in the same room and you will understand why Congress never works. Put a book together with economists’ views on neoliberalism and socialism, and you get a bickering collection of angles and aspects, all of which can be disputed. Uncertain Futures is a title that captures this ethos well. It consists of three chapters, roughly past present and future. The future is of the one of most interest, and is therefore the most disappointing. Berger is very cautious, maybe because he himself has just demonstrated the potential of instant criticism, or maybe because he is uncertain himself. Or both. But his final recommendation is to create support networks around the world. Put the 99% in touch, with co-operatives, unions and movements. This will raise the profile of socialism as viable, and provide a concrete answer to the precarity that neoliberalism has entrenched. Sounds like a very long term plan. The race to the bottom should now be obvious to everyone. Fascism, an inherent if not necessary component of capitalism, has been dramatically rising in numerous democracies. It absolutely must, as the 99% looks for a savior from their absurd position and condition. Yet the fear it plays on helps cement the status quo, because fascists are dictators protecting their gains. Berger says “Fascism is nothing less than the intensification of every regressive sentiment to be found in the whole of society, mobilized and put on the march by elements in the ruling class.” And “To reform capitalism at this stage is a revolutionary act.” That’s how far we’ve fallen. ~ David Wineberg, Amazon/The Straight Dope (Medium)

Edmund Berger is an independent writer, researcher, and activist living in Louisville, Kentucky. His primary focuses are on the evolution of technology and its impact on changing modes of capitalist production, the role of warfare in the economy, and the history of the avant-gardes as critiques and responses to paradigms of power. He blogs intermittently at Deterritorial Investigations Unit and Synthetic Zero.




mercoledì 15 febbraio 2017

Craig Hickman :: Edmund berger: Uncertain Futures a Review @ Alien Ecologies

Craig Hickman @ Alien Ecologies (HERE)

Edmund Berger: Uncertain Futures a Review 


As I finished Edmund’s new book Uncertain Futures: An Assessment of the Conditions of the Present (Get it: hereI realized why I’ve followed his blog Deterritorial Investigations Unit for the past few years: keen intelligence, an encyclopedic breadth of vision encompassing an ethical commitment to the real movement of change, and a loquacious and gracious scholarly acumen and sense of excellence stylistically and in regards of other thinkers place within our cultural history. Critical, observant, detailed – a thinker whose historical sense is not overburdened by a false historicism, but peers into that dark mirror of our near future as if his diagnosis and cure of our ailing civilization were neither a swan song to its demise, nor a belabored undermining of its forward movement into ruin and decay, but rather as a physician of time – a creature from the far flung future seeking to retroactively elide the toxic effects of our dark modernism.
His work does not waste time but compresses and condenses it into a series of pointed time vectors that rely less on a full tilt encyclopedic knowledge of the terrain, but rather an elucidation of its horizons and secret pathways into the near term transitions of a political economy either going South or discovering its breakthrough into a future that is already there in the pockets of silence everywhere. In the first chapter he’ll  “elucidate some key parts of Marx’s theory (as well as relevant non-Marxist perspectives) in an easy and readable manner, and illustrate how it applies to contemporary economic history from the Great Depression to the Great Recession. The second chapter is to turn to the so-called “Washington Consensus” itself, to look at how it unfolded from its humble beginnings in 1930s Europe to its application in the United States between the 1980s and today. Just as the first chapter will stress how the future of capitalism as we currently know is it is extremely fragile, the second argues quite similarly that the Washington Consensus, itself welded to capitalism’s evolution, is splintering apart. Finally, the third chapter will consider the relationship between the current socio-economic situation and various important concepts: fascism, social democracy, socialism, reform, and revolution. (UF, p. 2)
After a lengthy introduction to Marxian theory and practice from a Western economic perspective, not delving into the Russian or Chinese appropriation of it, Edmund will show how in the Great Depression the Keynesian solution emerged and what it meant:
The Keynesian solution is to increase the possibilities of demand through welfare, job growth programs, and other forms of government stimulus enabled through deficit spending. Only through successful government intervention, Keynes argued, could the capitalist economy reach something that looked like an equilibrium based on full employment. (UR, p. 12)
Keynesian theory was forged in the context of economic crisis, most specifically the British unemployment crisis of the 1920s. Adversarial to socialism and Marxism in particular, Keynes worked closely with the British government in developing jobs programs – but it would be in the wake of the Great Depression that his theories would find their highest application, becoming the de facto economic paradigm of choice for both the US and Europe governments. It appeared to be wildly successful: for the US economy, the Keynesian era saw the highest peak in the rate of profit in the modern history of capitalism (1963), the lowest unemployment rate (1969), and the longest bout of income equality (between roughly 1960 and 1970). (UF, p. 12)
And, yet, by the end of the sixties something happened to turn it sour. Keynesianism ran headlong into a crisis, one that would open the floodgates for the neoliberal system that we are currently moored within. Inflation rose considerably, and would transform into a decade-long stagflation that threatened the longevity of the capitalist project itself. The rate of profit declined, having yet to truly recover. Government expenditures threw the dollar into crisis, and the inflexibility of production, particularly in the face of foreign competition, sent shockwaves through the global market. Importantly, this crisis saw no decline in demand and real evidence of a ‘general glut’ of commodities. Does this mean that the underconsumption theories are incorrect, or that the Keynesian approach is not applicable (from the perspective of the capitalist?) (UF, p. 12)
It’s from this that Edmund will provide an in-depth critique and framework for understanding the beast of political economy that emerged out of this failure of Bretton Woods Crisis and the late Nixon Era: or, what would eventually congeal into the deleterious Age of Neoliberalism. Like many others Edmund approaches the use of this term “Neoliberal” with a skeptical eye. For a long while now this term has been a part of the secular Left’s arsenal of shibboleths, an overused appellation and icon of the “free market” theories of Reganomics and Thatcherian political economies of the Reactionary Turn, etc. Problem is that it has now been taxed and appropriated to every sundry idea, concept, notion to a point of saturation in which no one can see the forest for the trees. The singular effectiveness of such a term that supposedly compresses in some iconic way the political economy of globalization after the Bretton Woods monetary crisis has lost its valiancy, the coin being rubbed smooth of its iconic graphs. What we’re left with is more of a secular mythology of political economics than some actual entity underlying the history of this beast. Edmund will approach it this way:
…the return of finance capital, which gained new traction with the ushering in of the post-Bretton Woods floating exchange rates by President Nixon. Thus what we have come to call “neoliberalism” can be said to start at this point, in the decline of the Fordist system; indeed, one of neoliberalism’s most stalwart proponents, Chicago School economist Milton Friedman, had sent confidential memorandums to President Nixon urging him to abandon the Bretton Woods arrangement, noting that it would be a boom for finance capitalism. It is by no accident that it was across this decade that what I call the “neoliberal-New Right opportunity structure” arose to take advantage of the crisis in order to implement a neoliberal policy regime. (UF, p. 21)
This sense of New Right “opportunity structure,” and “policy regime” are the effectuations of critical gaze, understanding these in the sense a transformation in wealth accumulation and distribution in which the “overall shift from a Keynesian demand-side policy regime to a neoliberal supply-side regime added a tendency towards wage stagnation in this dynamic transformation” (UF, p. 22). Which as we all know shaped the new world of high finance and unbridled de-regulated speculation, along with the piracy of the older welfare state initiatives into a privatization of debt and the displacement of equality into the inequality of income where the surplus from labour shifts the pay of the “top 10% of income earners taking a greater and greater share of the total US income and nearly rivaling that of the bottom 90%” (UF, p. 22).
The rest of the book outlines a careful diagnosis of this Neoliberal Era along with a possible path forward. At the chapter two Edmund offers without apology a his vision of this past and a possible movement out: “finally, in a time in which everyday life enters into an unprecedented era of degradation, distraction, boredom, anxiety, and fear… in the moment that the oppressed and exploited share a recognition of their existential condition, and take steps to strike back against it… socialism realizes itself whether or not the word ‘socialism’ is used, whether or not a word of ‘socialist theory’ is uttered, and whether or not an exogenous factor seeks to embolden the oppressed and exploited. Socialism is alive in both the movement and the outcome, and yet it is not a historical inevitability. It must actively be worked for, which is why to believe in the spontaneous emergence of socialism, in any organized sense, is to fall victim to mystical idealism.” (UF, p. 78)
As if joining that tribe of writers and pamphleteers from an earlier era when socialism was first emerging: Upton Sinclair, Jack London, Theodore Dreiser, Frank Norris, and so many others. A world in which as Jack Lond in The Iron Heel says:
In the face of the facts that modern man lives more wretchedly than the cave-man, and that his producing power is a thousand times greater than that of the cave-man, no other conclusion is possible than that the capitalist class has mismanaged . . . criminally and selfishly mismanaged. … Let us not destroy those wonderful machines that produce efficiently and cheaply. Let us control them. Let us profit by their efficiency and cheapness. Let us run them for ourselves. That, gentlemen, is socialism. . . .
Utopian? Sure it is. And, yet, pragmatically assured of reality, too. Rather than an economy of surplus, wherein the capitalist accrues from the worker (labour) that last inch of blood, sweat, and tears of its life in what Marx once defined as: “Capital is dead labour, that, vampire-like, only lives by sucking living labour, and lives the more, the more labour it sucks. The time during which the labourer works, is the time during which the capitalist consumes the labour-power he has purchased of him.”2
This was the age of the Wobblies. The IWW (or “Wobblies,” as they came to be called, for reasons not really clear) aimed at organizing all workers in any industry into “One Big Union,” undivided by sex, race, or skills. They argued against making contracts with the employer, because this had so often prevented workers from striking on their own, or in sympathy with other strikers, and thus turned union people into strikebreakers. Negotiations by leaders for contracts replaced continuous struggle by the rank and file, the Wobblies believed.3
Remember that it was under Reagan that the backbone of the Unions would at last crumble with the verdict against the Airline Controllers Union. After that as if the writing on the wall the Unions one after another have slowly crumbled against the state and corporate machines. The Muckrackers of that era would help bring down monopoly capitalism, but since 1981 and the rise of neoliberalism under Reganomics, and the de-regulations of the Clinton era we’ve seen the rise of Global Monopoly Capitalism. As Barry C. Lynn describes it “in the generation since 1981, when we all but stopped enforcing our antimonopoly laws, a very small number of people have consolidated control over just about every activity in the United States… Even as we were reassured on a daily, sometimes hourly, basis that America was the greatest “free market” economy in the world, a tiny elite engineered the most phenomenal roll-up of political economic power in our history”.4
So ultimately as Edmund reminds us there “is no guarantee that any of this comes to the end that we desire. But faced with the reality of the present the two stark choices emerge once before us again: socialism or barbarism. Both are implicit in the dynamic movements that frame our moment in history. While both can be differed and postponed, both are capable of being brought to realization through the actions of people. Given the choice, one cannot refuse, in clear conscience, to partake in the movement to cut barbarism out at its roots. All that is left, when the words of theory pale in comparison to the reality that it seeks to describe, is this movement. (UF, p. 79)
For Edmund there is no third way or path forward, there is the definitive choice of choosing one’s battle lines: socialism or barbarism. I remember reading Hungarian Marxist philosopher István Mészáros’s Socialism or Barbarism a few years back in which he reckons that the 21st century will coincide with the third stage of capitalism which he characterizes as the barbarous global competition for domination between a plurality of free-market capitalist systems. In it he’d offer a view onto American capitalism predicting several eminent ramifications to this struggle: imperialist driven territorial expansion in the Middle East, the continuation and increase of NATO aggression, increased infrastructure weakening with major degradation in the quality of life for the lower class, and eventually a proxy war with China via U.S.’s defense treaties with Japan. (see Wiki) He’d describe his Marxist form of socialism:
What is of primary importance is that under all conceivable varieties of the capital system surplus labor must be appropriated by a separate body superimposed on, and structurally dominating, labor. Here, as you can see, the fundamental category is surplus labor, and not surplus value, as people often erroneously assume. … In order to do away with the labor theory of value, you have to do away with the extraction and allocation of surplus labor by an external body of any sort, be that political or economic. … In other words, we can only speak about socialism when the people are in control of their own activity and of the allocation of its fruits to their own ends.5
The only way to do this is to end the Corporate Fascism that isolates, delimits, and extracts the surplus profits while posing as the authority figure of promise and hope, all the while presenting the face of the kindly parent on the vast technological communications and entertainment index while slipping off the mask and revealing the Trollish Ogre to the laughing commodity kings behind the scenes. Barbarism indeed!
Whether you side with the Ogres or the socialists is your choice. Either way we will know you as you are in the near future. Read Edmund Berger’s book, get to know this political economic history in a series of doses that will help you understand what choices are available. You may or may not agree with his socialist agenda, but you can still understand what brought him to his conclusions and why. That in itself is genius.

  1. Berger, Edmund.
  2. “An hour’s labour lost in a day is a prodigious injury to a commercial State…. There is a very great consumption of luxuries among the labouring poor of this kingdom: particularly among the manufacturing populace, by which they also consume their time, the most fatal of consumptions.” “An Essay on Trade and Commerce, &c.,” p. 47, and 15 3.
  3. Zinn, Howard. A People’s History of the United States (p. 330). HarperCollins. Kindle Edition.
  4. Lynn, Barry. Cornered: The New Monopoly Capitalism and the Economics of Destruction. Wiley; 1 edition (December 10, 2009)
  5. Mészáros, István 2007. Socialism or Barbarism?: Monthly Review Press (2001)