August 16, 2011

We’re All Lumpenproles Now (Part 2)


I’ve had people accuse me of “Manichaeism”, and while I used to bother to dispute this, there’s actually a truth to it. Not that I’m the Manichaean (and not that I claim to represent the absolute Good), but that I recognize the fundamental assault of Evil on everything outside itself including everything I value.
(Of course, I’m also not Manichaean in the technical sense that I don’t recognize this evil as being some necessary element of the universe. On the contrary, I recognize it as gratuitious, pointless, worthless, easily rid of if we only found the will to rid ourselves of it, and we’d be infinitely better off if it ceased to exist. That’s a major part of what’s so obscene about it. Like the Ancien Regime Tocqueville described, its wickedness is exceeded only by its worthlessness.)
Contrary to the lies propagated by system hacks and “progressives” in unison, we’re not at all “in this together”. Even Marx thought the capitalist was integral, played for a time a progressive role, and was only at the time of his writing (in Europe) reaching the decadent/malevolent stage. But unlike in regular Marxist analysis, under colonialism capitalism was always purely alien and imposed itself by main force. Today Fanon’s mid-century analysis sounds more convincing. The world of colonialism/imperialism, and today globalization, has always been a Manichaean world. There’s no co-existence, let alone dialectic, only total, zero-sum war.

The “native” sector is not complementary to the European sector. The two confront one another, but not in the service of a higher unity. They follow the dictates of mutual exclusion: There is no conciliation possible, one of them is superfluous…

The colonial world is a compartmentalized world. It is obviously as superfluous to recall the existence of “native” towns and European towns, of schools for “natives” and schools for Europeans, as it is to recall apartheid in South Africa…

The colonized world is a world divided in two. The dividing line, the border, is represented by the barracks and the police stations. [I add: Today it’s more sublimated – the credit card and privatization fire line. But de jure violence is always ready to provide support.] In the colonies the official, legitimate agent, the spokesperson for the colonizer and the regime of oppression, is the police officer or the soldier…

This is why a Marxist analysis should always be slightly stretched where it comes to the colonial issue. It’s not just the concept of the pre-capitalist society which needs to be reexamined here. The serf is essentially different from the knight, but a reference to divine right is needed to justify this difference in status. In the colonies the foreigner imposed himself using his cannons and machines. Despite the success of his pacification, in spite of his appropriation, the colonist always remains a foreigner. It’s not the factories, the estates, or the bank account which primarily characterize the “ruling class”. The ruling species is first and foremost the outsider from elsewhere, different from the indigenous population, “the others”…

The colonial world is a Manichaean world.

The Wretched of the Earth pp. 3-6.

We can look to Arendt’s Origins of Totalitarianism to find the mortal peril of the economically superfluous, those even the capitalist cannot and does not want to economically exploit. These are in imminent danger of becoming the targets of genocide. This is technically our position today, any of us. When those who rejected Obama’s health racket bailout would say of it that its real policy was, “If you’re not rich, then either don’t get sick, or else die”, this was no exaggeration. Death to the non-rich in a very literal sense is the ideal goal of the elites.
It’s unlikely the enemy can directly exterminate overwhelming numbers of us, and anyway they have us earmarked for restored serfdom in the post-oil fields (where vastly more manual labor, backbreaking work to maintain the corporate mode of agriculture by hand, will be necessary). But any particular minority, however defined, which they find obnoxious, will be in immediate danger of literal extermination.
Isn’t all this already visible in outline? There’s no doubt about the nature of imperialism. Nor is there any doubt that this imperialism has fully come home, as its critics were warning it would eventually do since the latter 19th century. Yes – the banks, the corporations, their thug-and-bagman government, are worthless to the people. They’re nothing but alien parasites and predators. They do nothing but steal and destroy. They partake nothing of indigenous family, community, civil society, democracy, landbase. On the contrary, they viciously assault all of these with the goal of eradicating them completely. The land is stolen, the people driven off, and the productive essence of the land itself then destroyed. There’s zero relationship between these aliens and the people. We’ve been internally colonized.
But we are the humans of this land, and this land is the landbase of our humanity. Our families, friendships. communities, society, democracy, morality, humanity are the natural and rightful shoots from this soil. We can’t conceive or have any order or prosperity other than those native to our land and ourselves on this land. Today we’ve been driven into the political and legal shantytown of being mere vagrants on our own land, and increasingly we’re being driven into physical ghettos. It’s a purely foreign excrescence which is perpetrating this infinite crime, a vile disease rotting on the face of the earth. We can free ourselves, restitute and cleanse our great land, re-assert our humanity, restore our prosperity, redeem our democracy. To do so, we must recognize our human imperative, and denounce everything superfluous to it, and everything harmful to it.
Our fight shall, on the strategic and tactical level, mostly be one of building outside the colonial structures, renouncing, refusing, withdrawing to build elsewhere, where necessary evading or resisting. But in principle this is total war to the most bitter zero-sum end. We didn’t start it, but we must finish it. Either kleptocracy or humanity must perish completely from the face of the earth. This shall be the great question which settles the fate of the earth itself.


  1. Thanks for the reply, Russ. Actually I was not talking about food. I agree with you completely about agroecology and etc., which I am sure can and will (given the chance) outrun Big Agra. You’re preaching to the choir on that one. But industry and technology will be needed for many things, from tools (both simple and complex) to building materials to medicines to clothing to much else. Industry and technology (at a modest level) were and are needed to build public health infrastructure and many other things on which a decent life depends in the modern world (even if not in the paleo/hunter-gatherer world). For that matter, various tools and materials needed for agroecological/permacultural instantiations will need to be manufactured by industry. That’s all I was talking about. And I am uncertain as to whether or not Jensen appreciates this. My impression is that he doesn’t, but I really do need to read more.

    Yes, Jensen denounces cities — and that’s part of the problem with him. He does not see (yet) that high population densities are pretty much the ONLY way to save his precious wilderness and wild nature! (Which are precious to me as well, BTW.) It is a total package: in this modern world, with the population we have and will have for several centuries at least, there is no alternative to industry and technology, and cities, and other stuff that primitivists like Jensen reject.

    Now, having said all that, I am NOT saying that the insane HYPER-industrialism and HYPER-technologization of everything — most of which only cropped up since WWII, under the influence of a money-mad finance capitalism — is necessary. Far from it! For example, the automobile, which is responsible for vast waste and resource over-utilization, in addition to ugliness, environmental destruction and numerous other pathologies, could be eliminated COMPLETELY, or at least 95%, without any suffering or harm to anyone. It is a near-total waste, and any sane society would have recognized long ago that personal autos were a bad technology, and would have arranged itself in such a way that they are not necessary. And so on with a bunch of other stuff. When I defend “industry and techology”, and cities, I am not defending their ridiculous excesses, which could easily be jettisoned, to the great benefit of all.

    Cheers, and thanks for your excellent blog/site! Great stuff.

    Comment by alan2102 — August 28, 2011 @ 5:36 pm

  2. OOOPS! posted to the wrong thread. Would you please delete the comment above, Russ? (Or better yet, allow people to EDIT their comments, if possible.)
    I will post the above to the correct thread, momentarily.

    Comment by alan2102 — August 28, 2011 @ 5:38 pm

  3. you’ve may already have seen this, but just in case…

    April 24, 2008
    An Alternative Agriculture is Possible
    The Politics of Food is Politics
    Many well-substantiated studies show that intensive biotic
    polyculture — that is, the cultivation of many species of
    food plants in a small footprint, using biotic soil amendments
    and nutrient recycling — produces far more food per hectare
    than factory farming; uses far less water; and builds, rather
    than destroying, topsoil. Although more human ingenuity, care,
    and attention are required, the adoption of permaculture
    principles and techniques reduces the drudgery of food
    production considerably; the permaculturist is assisting food
    to grow rather than forcing it to grow (or more hubristically,
    “growing” it), which is much less work all round than our
    cartoon cultural memory of dawn-to-dusk backbreaking peasant
    labor (which became backbreaking to pay “tribute” and debts to
    people with weapons and ledgers, not survive). What intensive
    biotic polyculture does not do is maximise money profits,
    minimise labour inputs, or facilitate large-scale extractive


    Comment by alan2102 — September 2, 2011 @ 10:28 am

  4. Drat! posted to the wrong thread AGAIN! Sorry. Would you please delete these posts, Russ? I’ll post on correct thread in a moment…

    Comment by alan2102 — September 2, 2011 @ 10:29 am

  5. […] anymore. What’s the point of it, when by now we’re all the 99? That’s part of what I was getting at with my We’re All Lumpenproles Now and Corporate Tribalism ideas. I’ll be writing […]

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  6. […] us as post-workers, incipient or actual “lumpenproles”. (I’ve recently written more about this.) Our mindset, our actual circumstances, and the possible modes of resistance and […]

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

  7. […] I first pegged us as post-workers, incipient or actual “lumpenproles”. (I’ve recently written more about this.) Our mindset, our actual circumstances, and the possible modes of resistance and […]

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

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