We’ve lived so long under the spell of hierarchy—from god-kings to feudal lords to party bosses—that only recently have we awakened to see not only that “regular” citizens have the capacity for self-governance, but that without their engagement our huge global crises cannot be addressed. The changes needed for human society simply to survive, let alone thrive, are so profound that the only way we will move toward them is if we ourselves, regular citizens, feel meaningful ownership of solutions through direct engagement. Our problems are too big, interrelated, and pervasive to yield to directives from on high.
—Frances Moore Lappé, excerpt from Time for Progressives to Grow Up

Monday, October 26, 2015

"One very simple, but radical, idea: to democratise Europe." An interview with Yanis Varoufakis

Click here to access this interview from Open Democracy (based in Britain but European in outlook). 

The interview with the former Greek leader as well as the online source, Open Democracy, encapsulates what I believe is representing a stunted version of "radical" thought often found in online media today. This radical thought is essentially a product of the tenuous status of middle class people in an advanced capitalist world in which the need for middle class people is diminishing because of the increasing sophistication of technological innovations all of which were created by workers but have become "owned" and controlled by capitalists. 

Efficiency of production has always been a driving force among capitalists in order to achieve greater profits and power. We have now arrived at such advanced technologies that the need for managers, miscellaneous professional staffs, government bureaucrats, etc have been considerably reduced. The middle class is threatened by this, and thus we have many people like Varoufakis who are reacting to this stress by making various proposals dressed up in "democratic" clothing to try to cope with this déclassé threat. I think that this is the case with Varoufakis in spite of one line, a paraphrase of lines from past genuine revolutionaries, thrown into the interview by him to give his views a veneer of radical respectability:
There are ways you can imagine intervening immediately in the European crisis today to stabilise European capitalism in order to be able to begin discussing political projects for democratising it. It is either that or barbarism. [my emphasis]
I argue this because of many other statements he made in the interview that betrays a capitalist perspective such as this:
A state emerges as a result of the political need for a mechanism, a collective action mechanism, that ameliorates class conflict and group conflict.
This is a decidedly a capitalist perspective on the role of a state. It only acts as a mediator of intra-capitalist class conflicts. The capitalist state functions to constrain and contain opposition from workers and to co-opt essential middle-class workers by giving them various perks, privileges, and higher pay. A state is a creature created by capitalists who took over the control of territories under the former ruling class consisting of monarchs and aristocracies who gained control through the use of violence.

And this:
By definition, the state, even if it is not democratic, as in China for instance, nevertheless is a purely political process for the purpose of stabilising social conflicts.
This statement implies that Europe has enjoyed authentic democracy. And, the state does not function to stabilize social conflicts. It functions to contain it for the benefit of the ruling capitalist class.

You will see other examples of a capitalist perspective if you peruse other articles on Open Democracy's website.