Euroamerican Left and the myth of "New" Capitalism 



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The underlying crisis of capitalism has once again erupted into its multiple surfaces. The corporate oligarchs and their clerks in the mainstream media are doing their best to represent them as isolated events—accidents of excess that have no connections with one another and are all simply beyond any rational explanation.

The collapse of Enron, for example, is treated as a fluke in corporate history, a strange exception. The criminal destruction of Enron documents by its auditors at Arthur Anderson is taken yet as another strange event perpetrated by a few rogue accountants and their bosses. Accounting as a system, in other words, remains reliable. But it is not just Enron books that are in question now: Merrill Lynch, IBM, Goldman Sachs . . . are all under investigation for errant book-keeping. The investigation is, of course, being done by friends of the investigated and the book-keeping itself is not an issue. What is at issue is the crisis of capital—the fall of the rate of profit—and corrupt practices that hide the crisis from the citizens.

The paid hacks of mainstream media, by their daily reporting and news analyses, separate the Enron crisis and the scandal in accounting from the brutal imperialist wars that are devastating central Asia and Palestine.  And both are in turn isolated from the re-emergence of Eurofascism. Le Pen is treated as a fluke and the unity of people behind Chirac is taken as an assuring sign of social decency and the strength of bourgeois democracy. But Chirac himself is, in all of his practices, undistinguishable from the rogue accountants of Arthur Anderson and the CEO of Enron. What does the victory of a charlatan entrepreneur-politician say about the health of bourgeois democracy?  But the crisis exceeds Le Pen. Le Pen may have failed in France but a neofascist is actually Prime Minister of Italy and the shadow of fascism hangs over not just Austria but also such bastions of liberalism as the Netherlands and Switzerland.

It is telling that at such a time of universal crisis in capitalism, the left has completely abandoned class struggle against capitalism and by chanting "class is dead" has retreated to a silly culturalism that never tires of finding "resistance" moments in the most reactionary cultural practices. The Euroamerican left has bought into the governing ideology that capitalism has changed and in its new changed phase it is the media and culture, and not labor and its antagonism with capitalism (class struggle), that is the source of social change.

The violent imperialist war—fought on several fronts in central Asia and Palestine—should of course put an end to this complicit left culturalism. But far from it: In seductive texts such as Empire, the new canonic book of the Euroamerican left, Negri and Hardt set out to not only announce, along the lines of "class is dead", the death of imperialism but in fact argue that the new empire is itself charged with sites of resistance. The imperialist war in central Asia over the appropriation of the labor of Asian workers and oil conducted by "sovereign nations" against other "sovereign nations" is (as we will argue in our future issues) now turning Empire into a bad political joke.

The war in Palestine is not about land, even though Arafat—that master conciliationist who has always acted against the interests of the people of Palestine by marginalizing their great class struggles against capitalism, that is fronting as the State of Israel—puts it in that idiom. The land is only the geography of labor.  The imperialist war in Palestine is about appropriation of the labor of Palestinian people. This is one of the questions that we will address in our next issue.

The point here is to mark the gap between the Euroamerican left and the actualities of capitalism in its imperialist phase. In our next issue we will publish two texts on the situation of the left by examining two recent left analyses of post 9/11 events by culturalist leftists—Judith Butler and Michael Bérubé.

The Red Critique's main goal is not simply unmasking the left gap with class realities. Rather we aim at providing focused materialist analysis in the Marxist revolutionary tradition of producing knowledge—by demystifying the "fluke" and demonstrating the connection of the seemingly disconnected—for praxis.

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