August 20, 2010

Marx, Neo-Feudalism, and Peak Oil

Filed under: American Revolution, Marx, Neo-feudalism, Peak Oil — Tags: — Russ @ 7:54 am


Today’s American radicals seem to agree that orthodox Marxism, while retaining some excellent analytical features, is insufficient to our situation. (There’s also the question of whether or not the mention of it is tactical poison, how deep the old brainwashing runs. It’s true that in spring of 2009 this poll offered evidence of open-mindedness toward the term “socialism” and a healthy skepticism regarding “capitalism.” But that’s just one data point. At any rate, I think the tactical issue is a moot point if we agree that Marxism is an inadequate framework for concepts and action anyway. In that case, there’s no point gratuitously injecting it into the rhetorical mix.)
What remains valid is the analysis of class struggle as the basic dynamic of history and especially of modern history, the extraction of surplus value as the characteristic crime of the parasite, and the overall tendency of the system towards oligopoly.
On the other hand Marx was wrong about how capitalism, strictly defined, was going to purge all rents and feudal vestiges. Here Marx shared in a misconception endemic to classical economists. What really happens at every point is that true competitive practices are used to vanquish residual feudalism, but then the “competitor”, the moment he becomes strong enough, switches from capitalist mode to oligopoly racketeer mode. He switches from innovation, efficiency-seeking, and customer service to lobbying, cons, bribery, extortion, and every kind of anti-competitive action. He becomes a rent seeker. He reinstates a new feudalism. And so the last 40 years have seen the great switch from the capitalist stage of economic history to the refeudalizing stage. (Of course, the entire capitalist stage was riddled with feudal remnants and neo-feudal restorations. Imperialism, globalization, and financialization have been the main stages for this. And of course natural resources have always been treated as a slave plantation, and never with the slightest semblance of rational planning.)
Marx and the rest of classical economics failed to see or didn’t emphasize this. On the other hand, neoclassicism has been dedicated to the Big Lie that this neo-feudal project, and the law of rent-seeking I just described, don’t exist. Chicago economics simply claims as religious dogma that this is “capitalism”, this is the “free market”. “There’s no such thing as a free lunch” is the core slogan of this Big Lie. The real purport of it is, “It may look to you like the finance sector and other corporate oligopolies are pure parasites who produce nothing and only destroy. But there’s no such thing as a free lunch! So if these actors exist, they have to be important producers, even if you’re having trouble seeing what they produce. If they weren’t producing, they couldn’t exist. Ipso facto.”
So there’s one way in which the Marxian prognostication of the unified proletariat facing the monopoly capitalist has failed to materialize. We face instead monopoly neo-feudalism, so anyone who still wants to use Marxism has to recompute.
Similarly, the unified industrial proletariat also looked for a while like it was cohering on schedule but then disintegrated. Much of it was offshored, and much of the rest was dispersed into the “service” and “information” economies. Meanwhile unionism, so long wrangled over as a rival of socialism, followed the organized socialist movement into decrepitude. By now there’s little organization among “the workers” at all. Structurally, they’re an atomized rabble. There was also the mid-century co-optation via the “American Dream” and “ownership society” scams, both temporarily zombified by the debt economy. Now that this debt is collapsing and this middle class is being liquidated, the American worker finds himself left alone with no protection, no organizational framework, lacking even any ideas for what such a framework could be.
I’ve previously commented on the parallels between the US kleptocracy today and the Ancien Regime of the 18th century. These parallels are many and profound. But one major difference, which arguably makes today’s task far more difficult, is that by the 1780s the industrial and cultural life of all of France had become physically concentrated in Paris. As Tocqueville put it, “At the outbreak of the French Revolution this initial revolution had already been completed…..Thus Paris had become the master of France and already an army was gathering which was to turn into the master of Paris.”
While Tocqueville here describes conditions ripe for the bourgeois revolution, the Marxist framework expected the same conditions for the eventual proletarian revolution – physical concentration of economic power. Instead, while today power is tremendously concentrated and becoming more so (that part of the Marxist prognostication is correct), it has been physically dispersed, literally all over the planet via offshoring of the proletariat itself. There’s simply no physical basis for the requisite class consciousness to develop even if this class itself really existed the way Marx had envisioned. (Ending the draft and replacing the civilian army with a corporatized mercenary army was another clever gambit of the elites. As was replacing much taxation with deficit spending. On every front the goal has been to temporarily change the citizen into a naked atom who’s not oppressed but simply neglected, so that he loses even the consciousness of being an oppressed citizen. The plan is that once the real oppression is imposed, the atom will be utterly helpless to recover any level of citizen consciousness.)
So what’s the real nature of our class struggle today, if we still tried to look at it from a Marxist perspective? Luckily, Marx himself provided some clues in his 1848 articles on “The Class Struggle in France”, discussing the revolution of that year.
Marx gives here a basic rule which we can remove from all dogmatic contexts:

As soon as it has risen up, a class in which the revolutionary interests of society are concentrated finds the content and the material for its revolutionary activity directly in its own situation: foes to be laid low, measures dictated by the needs of the struggle to be taken; the consequences of its own deeds drive it on.

He goes on to comment:

The struggle against capital in its developed, modern form, in its decisive aspect, the struggle of the industrial wage-worker against the industrial bourgeois, is in France a partial phenomenon, which after the February days could so much the less supply the national content of the revolution, since the struggle against capital’s secondary modes of exploitation, that of the peasant against usury and mortgages or of the petty bourgeois against the wholesale dealer, banker and manufacturer, in a word, against bankruptcy, was still hidden in the general uprising against the finance aristocracy.

So in light of this, what’s our “revolutionary material”? Clearly the framework of the “industrial wage-worker against the industrial bourgeois” is obsolete. Instead we have, as the dominant phenomena, the “struggle against capital’s secondary modes of exploitation”. We have “the peasant”, i.e. the small farmer and housedebtor, against usury and mortgages; and we have the “petty bourgeois”, the small businessman, against Walmartization and bankruptcy, in every sector.
Marx goes on to describe how, in order to preserve its position, the bourgeoisie had to ally itself with feudal elements. These elements would later come to dominate it; the user would become the used. And isn’t this what has happened with neo-feudalism today? Commentators keep saying how the non-finance capitalists are under the banksters’ thumb. Marx teaches that the bourgeoisie liquidates itself that way.
So that’s the real end stage we’re reaching – not proletarian revolution, but refeudalization. It was never linear progress but a peaking curve, concurrent with Peak Oil. (That’s because the industrial revolution and classical economics including Marxism are creatures of the Oil Age.)
So therefore we face refeudalization, this time permanent. But that doesn’t have to mean we return to the same political and socioeconomic organization as prevailed under medieval feudalism. There’s also the medieval commune and town as exemplars. We’ve learned enough from our modern political experience to apply the lesson of true federation, true cooperation, to any post-oil economy.
This leads back to how Marx himself would say ours is a “petty bourgeois” and “peasant” situation. We face the same assaults and assert the same demands. According to Leninist snobbery this would render us “counter-revolutionary”, the way he labeled the SRs and anarchists. But since Lenin was really seeking a different form of centralized elitist tyranny, we know that his revolutionary antagonists were the true revolutionaries, while the Bolsheviks turned out to be counter-revolutionaries themselves, once ensconced in power.
Bakunin turned out to be correct, about one possible version of Marxism (it must be admitted, this is the version Marx himself eventually seems to have validated). But as we see from the “revolutionary materials” passage from 1848 (let alone from earlier writings), there are in fact other possible paths of analysis and strategy.
So this was a contribution toward brainstorming the situation. Like I said, orthodox “Marxism” probably doesn’t have much utility going forward, but I wanted to explore one possible Marxian thread which provides a way of looking at our situation. I’m sure there are others.


  1. Nice post.

    In my head at least I’ve been running something of a similar exercise (analyzing the current US situation through a Marxist perspective) but haven’t gotten very far. I’m reading Barrignton Moore’s Social Origins of Dictatorship and Democracy and so the temptation is overwelming but this is a huge and difficult task.

    A couple small points. Peasant classes are typically quite reactionary and often make a strong alliance with landed wealth. I see culturally conservative working to middle class people (Fox news watchers, some elements of the Tea Party) as a possible peasant class. We do currently see some stirrings from this corner although I would hesitate to label them as revolutionary since they hardly seem willing to readjust any real power relationships. The urban poor on the other hand are definitely a lumpenproletariat and they are too busy killing each other or growing their own piles to worry about society as a whole. Culturally liberal professionals seem to be America’s bourgeoisie and corporate and/or financial wealth would seem to be similar to a gentry – landed aristocracy.

    In cultural / political terms the bourgeoisie and lumpenproletariat seem to have an alliance against the peasants and landed gentry (banksters). But in economic terms the bourgeoisie and the landed gentry (Democrats and Republicans) very much see eye to eye in support of their own interests and against those of the peasants and lumpenproletariat. But I agree that ultimately the bourgeoisie will be consumed by the financial gentry and only at this point will any revolutionary potential arise.

    Comment by Kevin de Bruxelles — August 21, 2010 @ 2:02 am

    • Yes, the whole gambit of muddling class interests by synthesizing pseudo-political struggles (“culture wars” in the American parlance; I don’t know if they use that term in Europe) is well advanced.

      Indeed I tend to use the term “peasant” in either an ironic way (since that’s how the elites view all non-elites), or as a catch-all term for the entire post-proletariat.

      “Post-proletariat” is a term I just coined to mean that, just as Marx saw the peasantry and petty bourgeoisie liquidated into the proletariat, so now under globalization, in Western countries that entire mass is now being liquidated into a post-employment status in general. The intended end state is to liquidate all of us back to literal medieval peasant/slave status, as that will be the only way for the elites to maintain some semblance of their lifestyle post-fossil fuels.

      So in a sense we’re all lumpenproletariat by now, or quickly headed there. The inner city cohort has long since been forsaken completely by corporatism even as an object of exploitation. Instead, it serves only the purpose of riling up race hatred among the downwardly mobile whites (as well as whites who never rose out of poverty in the first place).

      Meanwhile, like you say the position of the “real” capitalist and especially the liberal bourgeoisie is ambiguous, to say the least.

      I suppose the economic practicioner within the real economy can fall into line under the finance tyranny for as long as he has to, even if he does it grudgingly. The history of rentier dominance as well as that of fascism prove that the bourgeoisie will meekly obey. (As Hitler put it, “As long as we allow them to live and keep collecting their profits, they’ll do what they’re told.”)

      The “liberals”, on the other hand, seem to be untenable. They’ve become part of the corporatist system only to serve a temporary tactical purpose. They’re supposed to delude and round up what’s left of “progressivism” (mostly vague buzzwords and the complacent delusion that Democrat=progressive) on behalf of the neo-feudal project. Obama represents the ultimate triumph of that nefarious Democratic plot.

      But as this ceases to work, and as the economic situation for the masses becomes truly desperate, so that real bottom-up resistance is building and it becomes time for the elites to deploy true fascism, the corporate elites will jettison their liberal colleagues. The liberal elites will be relegated to the role of bogeyman and will be destroyed.

      We’re already seeing how Wall Street is transferring its political investment back to the Republicans. While Obama would still be their dream president if he could continue to lead the Democratic vote-herding on behalf of the big banks, it’s looking like the Dems are already losing that capability.

      If November seems to reveal terminal voter abandonment of the Dems, Wall Street might decide it’s time to start transitioning from soft tyranny to a harder variety, and for that the Republicans would be a more effective blunt instrument, I bet.

      Comment by Russ — August 21, 2010 @ 3:35 am

  2. Yeah I started using peasant ironically as well but then the more I thought about it, the more I saw a link to real peasants. The key role of the peasants was to produce the wealth of their society. The landed aristocracy had to find a reason to justify their parasitical existence. In feudal times it was military defence; they claimed to protect the peasants from roaming bands of brigands and in return extracted wealth. In other societies the elites constructed irrigation systems, or the priest fought off evil spirits. In order to have a stable situation the peasants had to be convinced they had a mutually beneficial relationship with their parasitical elites.

    Although the culture wars are exaggerated for political expediency, there is a clear difference between what I would call the peasants and the lumpenproletariat. The peasants produce wealth, or at least contribute to society the best they can. Like it or not the truth is the lumpenproletariat are parasitical; whether we are talking about rural meth-heads or urban crack-heads, they subtract from society.

    You see the same split in the upper levels between the liberal bourgeoisie, who for the most part are well educated professionals and the parasitical financial elite; who claim their ability to provide credit justifies their parasitical existence in the same way the elites who constructed irrigation systems so many centuries ago did. What’s interesting is that while the link between the bourgeoisie and lumpenproletariat is still quite strong (for example, any criticism of the lumpenproletariat is strongly condemned as racist or classist by the bourgeoisie) the link between the peasants and the financial elite is suffering. One obvious strategy is for the wealthy parasite to step up attacks on their poorer parasitical cousins.

    As for the coming election I have to disagree with you. First I don’t think the elite will play the hard totalitarianism card unless there is a real threat to their dominance on the horizon; which currently there is not. I think the system becomes much more stable (from the wealthy elite’s point of view of course) with a firm Republican victory in November. The current lopsided power situation in favour of the Democrats is creating false hope for change among the more stupid of their partisans. With Republicans sweeping to power, Obama can apologize for being such a lefty (sarcasm) and can move back to the center (hard right) and concentrate on the raison d’etre of his first term, destruction of social security. If he accomplishes this he will be rewarded with a weak opponent in 2012. The Daily Kos and Atrios readers will be comforted with visions of a second Obama term as they keep their mouths shut while he guts social security.

    The peasants will be upset about the gutting of social security but where will they turn? Will they turn against the financial elite or the lumpenproletariat?

    Comment by Kevin de Bruxelles — August 21, 2010 @ 12:32 pm

  3. I don’t know if you read my semi-facetious post


    but assuming he’s still politically viable at all, I’d expect him to be running as a hard rightist (he doesn’t have far to go).

    I wrote above that I expect the harder fascism to be attempted sometime after 2010. I agree that there’s no public interest movement at all for the time being, which would make the corporate elites want a Mussolini. In the absence of a true threat from the bottom up, they prefer the corporate Washington “two”-party soft tyranny.

    (Similarly, they’d prefer the likes of Obama to the Petraeus “man on a horse” candidacy which is sometimes bruited about. Just as with a real fascist, the military strongman is more unpredictable than the bourgeois and rentier elites would prefer.)

    When I wrote my version of “we’re all lumpenproles now”, I was referring to how the whole economic trend is to simply render much of the work force superfluous and unemployable, while the social trend is to dissolve all group consciousness and leave behind a mass of atomized individuals lacking any anchoring consciousness.

    The original lumpenproletariat was defined as such a declassed herd of atoms. As you mention, in 18th Brumaire Marx famously wrote that the lumpenproles may under some circumstances play a revolutionary role, but their more natural role is to be counterrevolutionaries.

    Now it seems like the masses themselves will become one vast declassed herd. My idea there is influenced by Arendt’s treatment in Origins of Totalitarianism, though if I recall correctly she didn’t use the term “lumpenproletariat”.

    She referred to “the mob” and to “the masses”. What I’m now saying is that neoliberalism is liquidating the masses beyond even the atomization Arendt considered. (In her conception the basic employability of the masses remained more or less intact.)

    The result will be that other than the extent to which these atoms can congeal into a vaster version of this “mob”, the atoms will degrade into the equivalent of ants whose queen is dead; they’ll lack anything even remotely close to the consciousness of the medieval serfs, as economically they’re reduced back to the same serf condition. But this time around it’ll be like one big concentration camp.

    Well, I hope it won’t actually be that bad. But I can see how it may turn out that way.

    That’s what I’m hoping to play some small part in preventing.

    Comment by Russ — August 21, 2010 @ 3:07 pm

  4. I really like your phrase “we’re all lumpenproles now”. That certainly is the trend. But how can that work? Does one class of parasites really want to increase another competing blood-sucking class?

    It sure seems the answer is yes. One thing is that the productivity of American peasants is replaced by foreign peasants, in China and India for example. So by liquidating their domestic peasants the parasitic rentier class is not cutting their own thoats. But the key thing is that by killing the peasant, they kill the welfare state. In ideal forms, feudalism and the welfare state are exact opposites. In feudalism you have pure producers (peasants) and pure parasites (landed aristocracy). In a welfare state the producers and parasites are the same people, just at different stages of their lives. In other words these roles are totally ambiguous. So for example children and elderly in an ideal welfare state are parasitic but these same people are producers during their working years. In this type of society there is almost no conflict between parasite and producer. In this society the two parasitic extreme classes, rentier and lumpenprole,tend to be so small as to be irrelevant.

    But as the rentiers and lumpens increase their numbers in a wicked synergy, and as peasants are off-shored, there is only one outcome, the destruction of the welfare state and the purification of the roles of producer and parasite and the intendant social clashes which inevitably follow.

    And the highly visible growing lumpenproletariat is obviously a great target to distract peasant anger away from the rentier class, which only gives them cover to extract more and more from their peasants, both domestic and foreign.

    You see this process beginning in Europe with the importation of a potential lumpen class from the third world. The question is whether these people will be able to step up (and whether these societies will help them do so) and be productive or whether they will be the seed of the destruction of the European welfare state.

    In your scenario you see the lumpens morphing into a serf class. But this means they go from parasites to producers. I suppose at some point this must happen as the welfare state disolves and people either produce or die. I have Origins of Totalitarianism somewhere but have only read parts of it. I will have to go over it again as this I find this process really interesting.

    On Obama, it was a good article by you (and obviously tongue in cheek) but I am so cynical about party politics that I cannot take the situation too seriously. Otto von Bismarck always held that parties should take the helm to carry out policies which they opposed. “If reactionary measures are to be carried, the Liberal party takes the rudder, from the correct assumption that it will not overstep the necessary limits; if liberal measures are to be carried, the Conservative party takes office in its turn from the same consideration.” This is the “only Nixon could go to China” idea that you have mentioned several times. All I can say is that the wealthy rentier class certainly prefer a “liberal” Democrat carrying out their wishes.

    Comment by Kevin de Bruxelles — August 21, 2010 @ 4:38 pm

    • One thing is that the productivity of American peasants is replaced by foreign peasants, in China and India for example. So by liquidating their domestic peasants the parasitic rentier class is not cutting their own thoats.

      Yes, they don’t need domestic producers at all. As for the politics of mass unemployment, one of my pet ideas which I touched on in the OP, is that since this state makes no military demands and relatively little in the way of taxation demands on the inmate, er, “citizen”, it can afford to extend this neglect to letting a far higher percentage rot in a permanently unemployed state, since people are more likely to react with resignation rather than rebellion, where the state’s characteristic action is neglect rather than oppression.

      But this means they go from parasites to producers. I suppose at some point this must happen as the welfare state disolves and people either produce or die.

      As fossil fuels become steadily less able to keep up their current share of the labor, the superfluous unemployable will have to be restored to productive roles. (I forget how many man hours of labor are contained in a barrel of oil according to any typical measure, like lugging heavy weights ten miles or whatever. Often Peak Oilers write this as “x barrels of oil produced per day = y human slaves.”)

      But the kleptocrats hope that by the end of the social and political disintegration process, the liquidation of any kind of citizen consciousness, these atomized persons will submit to what’s at least de facto forced labor with dazed docility.

      Otto von Bismarck always held that parties should take the helm to carry out policies which they opposed. “If reactionary measures are to be carried, the Liberal party takes the rudder, from the correct assumption that it will not overstep the necessary limits; if liberal measures are to be carried, the Conservative party takes office in its turn from the same consideration.” This is the “only Nixon could go to China” idea that you have mentioned several times. All I can say is that the wealthy rentier class certainly prefer a “liberal” Democrat carrying out their wishes.

      Another discussion in Origins is how in a normal party system each party is restrained by its knowledge that another can and probably will be exercising power itself at some point, pushing a different agenda, so therefore everyone had an interest in being at least somewhat moderate.

      But starting with the anti-semitic parties we had the rise of parties who fully intended to permanently take over the state and rule as one-party dictatorships.

      Today in America we have a nominal duopoly which is really a de facto one party state. But the soft fascist formula finds the charade of “two” parties, one of them supposedly “conservative” and the other supposedly “progressive”, to be more convenient than a de jure permanent majority for the Republicans. But like I said above, if the corporate elites decide to move to hard authoritarianism at some point, I suppose they’d do it with the Reps.

      Here’s an earlier post I wrote on that same subject:


      Comment by Russ — August 21, 2010 @ 6:14 pm

  5. As the working class is liquidated it will become harder and harder for elites to focus hatred on Kevin’s “parasitical” unemployed proles. The end goal seems to be to create an undifferentiated mass of starving, jobless wretches willing to do slave labor in toxic conditions for pennies. These conditions already exist around the globe, as they did in the G8 a mere century ago. The question is whether the Progressive movement’s success in freeing workers was a temporary historical aberration, the consequence of winning the lottery (fossil fuels) plus heavy industrial demand for workers in a concentrated geographic space (factories), or if it can be repeated.

    One wonders how they intend to keep us in line. Military force isn’t sufficient — the feudalists needed a religion that glorified suffering to manage their peasants. And the new religion, aspirational consumerism, only works on people with money. Well, perhaps there will be some wonderful advancements in propaganda. Advertising is one of those technologies that can only be tolerated because it is imperfect. If its power to persuade were perfect it would be monstrous.

    My suspicion is elites believe technology will save them: Technology will create more effective means of crowd control and censorship. Unfortunately the history of technology shows that for every problem it solves, it creates a new and more intractable one. If they can’t stop people from setting their underwear on fire on a plane they have no hope of perfect dominion. So you could view the War on Terror as their audition for the throne. We have it far easier. The Russian experience shows you don’t need to oppose them to win. You just need to not participate… and have a vegetable garden.

    Comment by reslez — August 21, 2010 @ 5:31 pm

    • One wonders how they intend to keep us in line.

      I asked that exact question in this post:


      The answer I came up with, extreme but still nothing but the extension of trends which are already well established, is that they’ll try to turn us into debt slaves, indentured servants; and that the way they’ll try to prevent us from just jubilating the debt is by privatizing literally everything and placing it all – every social action, every physical movement – on a toll basis. No one will be able to afford it, and it’ll be impossible to default since new debts pile up every day.

      Add the restoration of debtors’ prisons and the fact that we’d all be debt convicts on probation but with harsh sentences hanging over our heads, and the repression regime will be complete. Police and paramilitary violence will provide whatever supplement is needed, but I imagine they intend for despair and resignation to do most of the work.

      That’s why I think non-participation, which I agree has to be the basis for social and political redemption, will still have to be vigorously defended.

      Comment by Russ — August 21, 2010 @ 5:49 pm

  6. This was a very thought provoking post.

    “Chicago economics simply claims as religious dogma that this is “capitalism”, this is the ”free market”

    Chicago economics, or more precisely, it seems to me, a some what related theory, the efficient market hypothesis, fails to take into account the massive role of corruption in how markets actually “work”.

    Furthermore, classical economics, which, as you point out, includes Marxism under its umbrella, albeit, in my view, as something of an outlier, and probably, because of, as you also point out, its genesis in The Fossil Fuel Age, never really reckons with physical, that is to say, natural limits to basic commodities. The absence of basic raw necessities, right up to, and including, clean air and water, and in a larger sense, ecosystems, don’t really get covered.

    Marxism, specifically, to the extent that it dovetails, however unwittingly with evolutionary biology, is, in a sense, on the right track in trying to understand human history as a power struggle between competing groups. And I wonder if anyone has tried to reconcile Marxism and evolutionary biology, which of course had its inception with Marx’s contemporary, Darwin, as they relate to groups Charles Darwin.

    “The Russian experience shows you don’t need to oppose them to win. You just need to not participate… and have a vegetable garden.”

    Hmm. Regarding the poster who made this point, there is some very recent legislation that would appear to make it difficult, if not downright illegal, to grow one’s own food.


    Comment by Edwwardo — August 22, 2010 @ 3:02 am

  7. And I wonder if anyone has tried to reconcile Marxism and evolutionary biology, which of course had its inception with Marx’s contemporary, Darwin?

    Comment by Edwwardo — August 22, 2010 @ 3:03 am

  8. Marx and Engels themselves enthusiastically embraced Darwin’s biological theory (though they rejcted social Darwinism, as did Darwin himself).

    So the attempts at reconciliation commence there, or I should say Marx considered Darwin’s theory and his analysis to be fully complementary. (I don’t know what Darwin thought of Marxism or if he was even aware of it.)

    That kind of food bill, or more to the point the mentality behind it, is one of the things I had in mind when I called for vigilance.

    This and other corporatist food bills seem to intentionally incorporate anti-decentralization language which can plausibly (to a general audience) be explained away as boilerplate, but which in principle certainly could be put to the purpose of repressing non-corporatized food production, processing, and commerce.

    Since relocalization of food production and distribution is self-evidently at the core of relocalization itself, it follows that we must treat this as an absolutely sacrosanct right, and resist any attempts to encroach upon it with Stamp Act fury.

    If you’re still contemplating that standardized platform for candidates, this struggle is a big one.

    Comment by Russ — August 22, 2010 @ 5:19 am

  9. what about the Medieval “villian”, which was later redefined into what we now know as ‘the bad guy’? Villians were a wildcard for the peasants & maybe a pause on their role then would be insightful.

    Comment by RubyGlare — August 22, 2010 @ 5:23 am

    • There’s always been the debate over whether the Robin Hood type (“steal from the rich to give to the poor”) is really any kind of activist or just a criminal who would victimize all. (E.g. the James Gang did choose Northern-run banks to rob, and were well aware of the alleged social character of their actions and played it up for all it was politically worth, but that’s where the money was anyway.)

      It seems that in practice bandits haven’t consistently been reliable fighters in a political struggle, while true peasant leaders like Wat Tyler usually had little or nothing of the bandit in their character.

      By contrast, finance cadres like traders as well as Republican and “libertarian” ideologues very clearly have the classic gangster mentality.

      (As for corporatists in general, most of them fall into the “banality of evil” category.)

      Comment by Russ — August 22, 2010 @ 5:37 am

  10. was very encouraged to find this site. I wanted to thank you for this special read. I definitely savored every little bit of it and I have you bookmarked to check out new stuff you post.

    Comment by adrianalemus — August 25, 2010 @ 3:30 am

  11. hey russ!

    i just found your blog, and am glad i did. it seems we’ve been following similar intellectual pathways. i like your style of writing, although my style is a bit different.

    my website is http://endofcapitalism.com

    like you ive come to the conclusion that peak oil, along with other ecological limits, (and i add “social limits” like popular resistance around the world to the equation) are putting an end to the global capitalist system.

    like you i see this as potentially leading to something even worse, (i use the word neo-fascism as opposed to neo-feudalism) or we can consciously create something better that is sustainable, democratic, and not based on exploitation.

    in regards to Marx, i think i again share your view that he had much to offer but ultimately carries a lot of intellectual baggage no longer (if ever) appropriate to our current world situation.

    coincidentally i’m writing an article right now called “Why Marxism Has Failed, and Why Zombie-Marxism Cannot Die.”

    i’d love to share it with you when i’m finished writing.

    in the meantime, feel free to check out my website, i would be very curious to hear what you think about the End of Capitalism Theory i’ve articulated.

    if you have the chance, see my recent 4-part interview here: http://endofcapitalism.com/2010/07/20/the-end-of-capitalism-interview-part-1/

    i hope we can correspond and benefit from one another’s ideas!

    for the revolution

    Comment by alex — August 30, 2010 @ 11:15 pm

    • Hi Alex,

      Your site looks good. I’ll read around.

      Comment by Russ — August 31, 2010 @ 3:22 am

  12. […] direct downward vector to serfdom, no matter what their material status today. (As I wrote before, we’re all lumpenproles now.) This nothing but the same old Golden Rule morality among ourselves, Do unto others as […]

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  13. […] demands of a peasantry, not a working class.   Everywhere I look I see a convergence toward what I started saying over a year ago when I first pegged us as post-workers, incipient or actual “lumpenproles”. (I’ve […]

    Pingback by Underlying Ideology of the 99 « Volatility — October 12, 2011 @ 2:53 am

  14. […] on “the ideology of the 99 percent”: Everywhere I look I see a convergence toward what I started saying over a year ago when I first pegged us as post-workers, incipient or actual “lumpenproles”. (I’ve recently […]

    Pingback by Debt Society in Need of a Revolution « Tragic Farce — October 22, 2011 @ 2:06 am

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