Friday, September 18, 2009

Some different types of Totalitarianism, Corporate Totalitarianism

I put forward the idea that totalitarianism is more a tendency in societies than a social system into itself. The feature typifying it being the uniting of all aspects of society, all social groups, religions, into one cohesive whole with a basic message and ideology uniting them all. Throw education into the mix, as well as proclamations by folks who are at the head of the State, as well as police, etc... One vision, one people, one leader, you get the picture. The thing is that this could describe a Leftist society, it could describe a Right wing society, a Fascist society, a Theocracy, or even a pure Corporatist society. The last is especially important, as is the idea of a Leftist society possibly being totalitarian and how to avoid that possibility.

Corporate totalitarianism could be described basically as where we were tending towards when 9/11 hit and the forces of big money, of big business, shifted gears and decided to support a fascist totalitarian current instead. Imagine all the resources of the media concentrated in a few hands, with cross ownership between newspapers, magazines, television stations, radio stations. Then replace all of the local businesses with huge conglomerates like Walmart, food on the go with places like McDonalds, malls instead of downtowns, where all the businesses are the same. Advertising links these stores and their wares with the media conglomerates. The state acts as a midwife a la Clinton, declaring that doing anything to restrain all this would hurt the economy because the market supposedly rules. Schools get informational packets from the same industries, videos played in classes to captive audiences, soda and bullshit sold in the halls. Real World examples using the same brand names are put in textbooks.

All the while that life becomes more corporatized on the consumption side the quality of life on the production side gets worse and worse, with more marginal, shitty, jobs becoming standard. Consumption and corporatism becomes a convenient fantasy land to kill the reality of what the other aspects of life are life, as well bribes to keep people from doing anything to change things. After all, look at all the cool products we give you, why would you object to us, and who are you anyways? People want Walmart, you goddamn elitist. But they can't delete the actual experience of folks behind the happy corporate masks. Neither can they delete the increasingly shitty tract houses and unplanned chaos surrounding and making up the personal space where this illusion is indulged in.

So Sieg Heil to our corporate state, where companies have even taken to making up their own flags and flying them next to the American one, I shit you not...

At least that's where we were going before 9/11, to a sort of ideologically neutral destruction of civil society. Maybe we're going back to that now that Bush and Bushism is mostly out.

As regards to Leftist societies that are totalitarian, it's easy to see how places like Stalinist Russia or even aspects of Bolshevik Russia were totalitarian. The vaguard party is a wonderful device for destroying individual, grass roots, initiative in socialist societies. But on balance, certain socialist societies have been less dominated by their vanguard parties, even if they were present and therefore in and of themselves objectionable. However, the biggest misconception with regards to totalitarianism and leftist societies is that moving away from capitalism and towards specifically socialist formations is necessarily totalitarian because much of what's constructed has specifically socialist characteristics.

The solution in my mind is to have the revolution happen not by the actions of a group directing any of it but instead growing through massive grass roots organizing on every level so that the institutions that are constructed have the mark of popular participation, with the importance of the highest levels of the social hierarchy having drastically less power in decision making then before. I should say that objecting to small groups directing things applies both to Leninists and to Anarchists, since there have emerged tendencies in Anarchism that identify themselves as Vanguards in everything but name, and basically run themselves like Leninist political parties.

Political participation is a a tough one, because it offers the potential of power with the abuse of the State. I appreciate the fact that Obama is our President, and I appreciate the fact that Chavez is President of Venezuela, but I don't know how to reconcile all this. Possibly, a way out would be to link a social movement with a political movement, so that there wouldn't just be a political party out there pushing for Progressive change, on hopefully more local levels than the Presidency, but also a movement fighting day by day for positive change in peoples' lives through activist campaigns. And when I say local level for political participation I also mean medium level. I think that focussing on municipalities only is a great way to avoid responsibility for taking Progressive change to the next level, a level that would require more organizing than just a bunch of people in a hippy town controlling city council, to be blunt about it.

But I don't think, like some folks, that just because there's a possibility of totalitarianism with any sort of political change, left or right, that there should therefore not be any change whatsoever, or that some sort of Libertarian free market ideology is the only antidote to the possibility of a totalitarian state.

Something where people have done the organizing themselves and where nothing has been decreed from on high and trickled down to the bottom is not part of a totalitarian apparatus, which is a concept that the Tea Baggers and Health Care Fascists don't seem to understand. Projection, thy name is the fringe right who believes that Obama and the Democrats are secretly creating the support for universal health care. Astroturf is what you guys invented, and it's no less astro-turf because Bill O'Reilly or Glen Beck told you to do something and you made your own signs instead of getting them from a grass roots organization that had the marvelous capability to have a guy make a sign on his computer and take it to a Kinkos and get copies made.

*on edit: I want to get away from the notion that all things are black or white with regards to this stuff. For example, some aspects of Bolshevik society were very Progressive and liberating even though there were aspects with regards to the Party and the State that were somewhat oppressive in the beginning and became increasingly oppressive as time went on until you get Stalinism, which could be interpreted as a coup by the Party apparatus from above.

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