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What We Take For Granted
indonesia / philippines / australia | imperialism / war | opinion / analysis Sunday December 04, 2005 11:44 by Jack Grancharoff
The State is the supreme order that has no other order than itself
Authoritarianism is embedded not only in all experts and in dominant elites, but also in alternative social movements. Socialism failed in its praxis not as a result of persecution but as a result of its own inner contradictions.
The topic of expertism raises a host of complex issues. An expert qua expert is not the issue, if the latter is identified as someone with skills and abilities. All productive activities are equally important to social wellbeing, but to transfer expertism, that is evaluated respect for someone’s skills and abilities, into unevaluated deference to the person possessing them, or purporting to possess them, is to slip into the frame of authoritarian values and hierarchies. Thus, experts only acquire significance within the capitalist market economy, itself based on hierarchies. By putting the emphasis on the superiority of their knowledge, of their know-how, the stress is placed on the importance of established values, of capitalist exploitation and class domination. In other words, in order to get some understanding of «expertism», one has to get some understanding of the nature and functioning of hierarchies.
Authoritarianism is embedded not only in all experts and in dominant elites, but also in alternative social movements. Socialism failed in its praxis not as a result of persecution but as a result of its own inner contradictions. Socialism has preserved the hierarchical structures which have permitted power to slide into the hands of the socialist elite and thus to thwart revolutionary realizations. The collapse of socialism as a socially liberatory force is a brilliant proof how power and hierarchies lead not only to revolutionary degeneration, to use Trotskyite phraseology, but also to revolutionary defeat.
To assume that by capturing power the working class will eliminate injustices and exploitation is nonsense, if not a myth. The workers failed because they put their trust in hierarchies, their faith in the socialist avantgarde while they themselves remained in the rear-guard.
Today, despite slogans of class war, class struggle, class interests etc., class solidarity is only a ripple in the consciousness of the workers. It is because the workers allow themselves to be represented by the middle classes or by ex-workers turned into bureaucrats. The weakness of the workers is that by delegating power to their representatives they forsake their direct participation in issues concerning themselves and, by proxy, they forsake their solidarity too.
To claim that the working class is the depository of revolutionary consciousness is a far fetched hypothesis rarely reflecting reality. A class functions within hierarchies and is imbued with hierarchical values. In general, in the hierarchical ladder of capitalism, the working class occupies a subaltern position. Also, within the working class itself, there are visible and invisible hierarchies which prevent class solidarity among the workers themselves.
Hierarchies and classes are closely related and are the main feature of the greatest capitalist picture, the State, the political arm of capitalism, within which exploitation, subservience, inferiority, emotional, economic and intellectual misery exist. If the workers are to be emancipated they need to dismantle this kind of picture rather than refurbishing it, as had been the case in the Soviet Union and other socialist countries. Refurbishing the State is refurbishing the bourgeoisie. That is why socialism in government is more reactionary than non-socialist governments since socialists in power have to eliminate socialism to survive as the tool of the bourgeoisie. To argue, as Trotskyists do, that socialism collapsed because of the degeneration of its leadership is nonsense. A class led by leaders, by virtue of being led, is in a subordinate position and, therefore, lacks consciousness.
Hierarchy - the Pandora Box - was presented to Pandora by Zeus as a device to punish the rebellious and mischievous spirit of Prometheus and, at the same time, to infect humanity with the most obnoxious disease, hierarchy, in order to perpetuate the power of gods, fathers and rulers. It was intended to chain humanity into embedded authority in the various archies. Had Pandora not been deceived by the gods, she could have had a peaceful life with peace of mind. But having been made from clay and endowed with life by a creator whose purpose was to assert power and demand obedience, she became a vehicle of the will of the archy, the will of the creator.
Today there are many ‘centred’ persons who search for a quiet harbour in the ocean of life, in order to achieve peace of mind within themselves, by ignoring the expanse of oceanic waves, variegations of existence and the by-ways of daily events. However, they fail to understand that running from life is running towards death, and like ostriches, they continue to live within the institution of death, destruction and domination. If individuals are to have a full life they do not need peace of mind, but full freedom and full access to economic wealth in order to satisfy their emotional cravings, intellectual curiosity and to mentally enrich themselves. They have to wake up, spit on power, destroy the chain of slavery, refuse to delegate decision making and cleanse their mental wardrobe of hierarchical illusions.
Hierarchy is the core within which power operates, within which people are categorised, classified, and inferiority and superiority are made functional to exploitation and manipulation. Therefore, it is not incidental that hierarchy is largely neglected in political discussions, in leftist circles, and organizational issues. Hierarchy is the harbour of mentally castrated individuals.
And yet there is no doubt that expertism without hierarchy has no intellectual, economic, political or psychological significance. Without hierarchy ‘skills and abilities’ could not be transformed into an intellectual commodity and evaluated as an economic value. Without hierarchies the universities, as well as the factories, would become obsolete. Schools and factories would be fused. Titles would no more be invoked to inflate personal vanity or to create mirrors reflecting the narcissism of the bourgeois spectacle.
Since the entrance of women’s liberation into the political arena patriarchy has especially been singled out. for attack and has come to occupy the forefront in the political language, while hierarchy has remained in the background. Naturally so, since hierarchy is a useful instrument for some sisters to become more equal than others. In fact neither clitorocracy nor phallocracy are propitious for personal or human liberation. In both cases only lip service is paid to the latter since liberation within hierarchies is a myth.
The left, anxious to appropriate revolutionary elan, emphasizes class analyses and class struggle, but merely as slogans, as a vehicle of proselytizing or as stepping stones to capturing power, that is, to preserve hierarchies. They assume that a classless society can be realised within hierarchies ignoring the fact that within hierarchies the proletariat, as class, has always played a subordinate role to the bourgeoisie. It produces the goods but does not share the benefits. The lion shares goes to the parasites. The blatant refusal to recognise this historical role of the proletariat, not in abstract but in concrete terms was responsible for the dramatic collapse of socialism embedded, in the State, and the transformation of socialists into the stooges of capitalism. Unless the proletariat destroys class society and itself as a class, its emancipation will remain an illusion and it will continue to suffer from dependency syndrome.
Thus anarchist’s claim that socialism qua socialism cannot function within hierarchies is correct, the rest is revolutionary phraseology.
Class in itself is not a carrier of revolutionary values nor does it have a liberatory function. On the contrary, it is within hierarchies that class finds its own significance and for this significance to be destroyed then hierarchy, be it bourgeois, proletarian or revolutionary must he deposed from the social, personal, political and economic scenes. Hierarchy categorises. Even within the same class there are categories: there is lumpen and qualified proletariat, the former a carrier of false consciousness, the latter of revolutionary awareness; labour is manual or intellectual and remunerated accordingly. Intellectuals are divided into various categories: engineers, doctors, professors, managers, the latter in charge of human resources to screw up the workers. It is not their knowledge that matters but the place they occupy in the economic and ruling hierarchies and the screwing role they play in the ladder of political and economic oppression.
Of all alternatives to capitalism and the bourgeois movements, only the anarchists hit the nail on the head. If humanity is to be liberated, if society is to be classless, if economic equality is to be a social fact, then the State needs to be abolished with all its economic, political and personal paraphernalia. It is the State that is the dividing line between anarchists and other so called revolutionary and alternative movements. The anarchists are correct since the State, as a vehicle of the revolution, buried the revolution and dug the grave of revolutionaries.
The leftists, who upheld the theory and the praxis of the State as a vehicle of revolutionary changes, not only gave a respite to the State, but helped to transform it into a monster which, in the final analysis, has destroyed all dreams of the oppressed for social justice, human emancipation and a classless society. The State has not withered away. On the contrary, it has strengthened itself at the expense of the down trodden. It is aggressive, belligerent and a depository of terrorism.
The State is the acme of absolute political power. It is the other facet of capitalism. It uses terrorism as a weapon to induce fear, to coerce people into obedience and subservience to the established order.
Citizens are spied upon, gaoled, tortured, threatened and economically downsized to force them into obeying authority. The State, by its nature to command, to control, to militarise, is already on the road to terrorism. One has only to observe the USA as a global actor trying to establish global hegemony and the first global empire. It pitilessly suppresses those who do not accept its global hegemony. It uses terrorism to impose a global economic and political yoke and realise its universal dream of capitalist totalitarianism with Washington as its centre.
The anarchists were correct attacking the State as the quintessence of hierarchy and political power. Nonetheless, while they concentrated their attack on the State they overlooked various aspects of functional hierarchies within society: the family, patriarchy, matriarchy and, most important, the order as a hierarchy. Opposing the State and upholding order they have found themselves in a paradoxical position, which prevents them from understanding the significance of hierarchy qua hierarchy. On the one hand they dismiss chaos, on the other they defend order, failing to perceive the glaring contradiction between the two. Chaos is non hierarphiral organisation of free spontaneous individuals, groups and federations. Order predicates archies.
Many anarchists love to quote Bakunin that destruction is a way of construction but they fail to grasp its proper significance. First, they have failed to destroy their personal authoritarian armour, forget about the social one, and as a result they have failed to open the floodgate of liberation. Secondly, by appeasing leftism, they, willy-nilly, allow the bourgeoisie to unleash a force of destruction never ever seen on such a large scale. This force, in the name of anti terrorism, is changing the face of the earth dramatically, not for freedom but slavery, not for equality but poverty, not for quality of life but death of quality.
When anarchists insist on the necessity of the destruction of the State as a prerequisite for human liberation, their opponents are quick to retort that this will create chaos. Instead of countering this attack, the anarchists declare that the State is disorder while anarchy is order and, not only that, but even the «supreme order». Here anarchists are trapped in the logic of their opponents. Instead of making a critical analysis of order as the originator, upholder and enforcer of hierarchies, anarchists are wavering. The State is the supreme order that has no other order than itself. It is the supreme imposter, the supreme god, the supreme commander and everything is subservient to it .The State produces, stores, uses and sells weapons of mass destruction to keep order going. Its order is backed by a military machine that sows death, wrecks life, destroys cities, desecrates the Planet and produces havoc and holocaust to fight Chaos and reinstate order. Unless we get rid of order and its manifestation -disorder, which suffocate life, chaos will remain a dream. Chaos is horizontally organized infrastructures of voluntary groups, associations and federations where hierarchies are absent. If the aim of anarchists is to refurbish or to reaffirm order then they are indulging in illusions, if not delusions. To think that liberation can take place in order is a myth. But we take too many things for granted.
* “What we take for granted” is written by Jack Grancharoff. For orders by donation and more details write to: P.O. BOX 6012, Quaama, NSW 2550, Australia.
This is the seconf article by Jack included in his paphlet under the same title.