|Issue 1 - December 1971|
|The Politics of Insecticide and the Reality of Fantasy|
With the approach of winter, and the gloomy prospect of ever greater unemployment, it is time to take an important decision. It is the decision of what action to take against the perpetuators of British capitalism.
At present, the Left in Britain has reduced itself to just one of many competing pressure groups in society. As such, it offers little serious opposition to the establishment, for a certain amount of conflict is regarded as both normal and in many cases desirable.
The Trade Unions and the Labour Party have long since betrayed the traditional socialist movement. The potentially revolutionary situation at UCS (a very restricted form of revolutionary situation, as I will argue later) is being restrained and misdirected by the Communist Party. Whilst many workers at UCS would doubtlessly support the demand for permanent workers' control, the Communist Party (which is in a very strong position at UCS, and certainly so in relation to its strength in other areas and situations in Britain) still talks in terms of productivity bargaining and contingency deals. Demands for a general strike and workers' control of their job situation are dismissed by both the employers and the unions as irresponsible. Strikes at UCS mean a reduction of exports and falling profits for management and shareholders. Such demands are irresponsible, but to whom?
Advanced capitalism has successfully institutionalised most forms of social conflict by labelling them as "social problems" and by creating organisations to resolve them. But the notion of conflict resolution is extremely misleading. The idea that conflicts could be resolved could mean that it is possible to eliminate given conflicts altogether. Thus, conflict resolution would appear to address itself to the causes rather than the outward forms of social conflict.
There is, however, only one sense in which one might say that a given conflict has been resolved, e.g. the claim of a union for a certain wage increase on a certain date may be settled in such a way as not to appear again.
But such specific settlements do not affect the causes of even the specific conflict of the example; if with changing issues this conflict persists, it has not therefore been resolved. Poverty, bad housing conditions, rising prices and boredom at work are defined by top people as social problems. Organisations such as Rent Tribunals, the Race Relations Board, worker / management committees, Shelter etc have been set up to regulate the problems. But the only way to solve them is to remove the contradictions of which the problems are merely manifestations.
It is not sufficient to expose the evil manifestations of the present system, the high level of unemployment, extortionate landlords, instances of police brutality, or the repressive actions against the underground press in the last few months. It is necessary as well to expose the profit motive and exploitation which permeate all aspects of our lives, the true nature of the system of rents and parasitic landlords, the essentially political character of the police and the reactionary character of such "social problem" organisations as the Race Relations Board (designed to destroy black culture by "integrating" it with white culture), the Rent Tribunals (which perpetuate and therefore justify the system of rents) and so on.
The Left in Britain and Europe has failed to offer any serious opposition to the establishment, let alone revolutionary opposition, because it has failed to realise that the conditions and prerequisites for revolution have changed since the days of Marx.
A straight Marxist analysis of society is now far from sufficient. It is no longer the case that it is the capitalist class that is responsible for the expression of the remainder and vast majority of society. It is much more than this. It is the very technocracy itself that is the oppressor.
In the case of technocracy, totalitarianism is perfected because its techniques are progressively subliminal. The scientific world view produced by technocracy (obviously this is a chicken and egg relation) is projected by the establishment as the only world view. And yet one unexpected and unforeseen result of post affluent society is the emergence among the young of qualitatively new possibilities, of a new semi-magical world view. The poem fantasies of Rabindranath Tagore, William Blake - ghosts of Ifeas and the anti-psychiatry of Laing are now seen by the young as other and more acceptable realities.
I believe that radical youth is ineffective at present because, although many have seen the new realities and possibilities which are outside the limits of the technocratic world view, and which are defined by the technocracy as fantasy, nevertheless they are still operating within the traditional political framework of their parents.
The traditional policies of IS, IMG etc become increasingly irrelevant in this context and this explains their increasing ineffect.
The people in Britain who are at present able to control the reality of the oppressed and exploited situation in which most members of society find themselves are not going to step from their positions of their own accord. Revolutions do not happen, but are made. Whilst it seems impossible as yet to amalgamate all the radical splinter groups, there must at least be unity in opposition to the existing system. We can eventually control our lives if a large and determined party is formed. A revolutionary manifesto must be issued which calls for the liberation of the productive forces (and more importantly, liberation from the production forces), the nationalisation of all industry without compensation, the abolition of private property. The young and unemployed must be shown that their dismal situation is going to continue, that their situation is the product of a system into which they are born, and that they will die in it unless they take revolutionary action to alter their conditions. Rent striking in poor areas could easily bankrupt slum landlords. Piers Beirne