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<nettime> Debtors' of The World Unite! The Initiative to form an Interna
Dmytri Kleiner on Wed, 21 Sep 2011 20:01:11 +0200 (CEST)


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<nettime> Debtors' of The World Unite! The Initiative to form an International Debtors' Party.


Congratulations to the Pirate Party having won an astounding 8.9% in the
Berlin elections.


As I wrote two weeks ago, this is their moment of relevance, the emergence
of Information politics as a mainstream political topic. Having 15
Piratenpartei representatives in the local government will certainly be of
direct material benefit to activists fighting against software patents, for
network neutrality, online security and privacy, etc, and that is a
development to be celebrated.


Modern politics has become a politics of identities and causes. Major
parties construct identities, these identities function as Legitimization
Brands, not so much tied to specific social outcomes, but rather to
specific personalities, representations, framings and forms of apology.


People vote for a Party because that's the kind of person they identify
as: the kind of person that votes for that party and imagines themselves
having the essentialized, yet drifting, characteristics the party markets
as their image. Party membership is just another consumer identity.


The interests of the State and it's ruling class doesn't change from
election to election, and the elected politicians of the ruling party's job
is to represent the policies demanded by the ruling class to the people
that support them. The election is a market survey, designed to identify
which Legitimization Brand will most effectively deliver public support.


The political policies of the major parties are formed byway of the
campaign contributions and lobbying of the holders of the major economic
power, not by the interests of the voters whose support they deliver.


Political resistance is limited to activist movements, which occasionally
manifest as minor parties, the Greens and more recently the Pirate Party
are such manifestations.


As minor parities, they are not integrated into the ruling class system,
but rather represent the social power of movements around specific causes.
These parties retain relevance to the degree that they are primarily the
representatives of the activist social movements they emerged from, when
they grow beyond being minor parties, like the Greens have in Germany, they
become integrated into the ruling class, and begin representing ruling
class interests.


The reason this happens is that as representatives of causes, they have no
mass appeal.


The social power they can mobilize, although often visible and noisy, is
not enough to propel them beyond the political fringes, yet maybe enough to
attract attention from the same economic powers whose contributions and
lobbies animate the major parties, and are thereby transformed into
Legitimization Brands, like the other major parties, trading in the support
of their now expanded constituencies so long as their legitimacy survives.


The masses are not interested in causes, at least not enough to mobilize
around them.


And for very good reason, understanding complex causes like
environmentalism and information politics seem complex and abstract to
people, more concerned with their everyday lives. Activist campaigns often
focus on the misdeeds of corporations and States. Most people feel
unqualified to comment on it, and are therefore not so compelled to try to
unravel the storms of claims and counter claims, accusations and apologies,
all the rhetoric that drives such polemics. These are not their concerns,
forming an opinion on such issues does not help in the daily challenges
they face in their private lives. And the solutions presented are not
clearly implied by their own conditions, thus they are happy to have these
concerned administered for them, which the Legitimizing Apparatus is happy
to do.


What's missing from modern politics is, well... politics.


The traditional parties formed around the emerging power of different
economic classes. Specifically from the interests of those who derived
their incomes from the different Factors of Production, namely Land,
Capital, and Labour.


Conservatives are called conservatives not because they have delicate
sensibilities when it comes to sexuality or have regressive views of gender
and racial roles, but because they wantwd to "Conserve" the system of
Nobility, where elite families retained power and led society. Which, due
to there superior genetic heritage, they where, aledgedly, uniquely able to
do, and as they had done for centuries.


The primary economic power of the Conservatives come from those that
controlled the land.


The Liberal are called Liberalis, not because they emerged as movement of
people who believed in being a little less uptight and a little less
xenophobic, but rather because they represented the emerging Capitalist
class, they believed that the State, meaning at that time, the Nobility,
should let them conduct their businesses as they see fit, and not intervene
in the marke.


The primary power of the Liberals came from those that controlled capital.


As Capitalism triumphed, and Feudalism disappeared, Liberals and
Conservatives became not so much representatives of different classes in
conflict, but rather competing brands to market the interests of Capital to
the masses. Both parties represent only slightly differing views on how
markets and governments aught to be run, and in whose interest.


Labour Parties began as dissenting, activist parties, formed by groups of
political intellectuals such as the UK Fabians, and began as minor parties
that had grown out of the workers' movement.


Yet, the workers' movement was different from the types of causes we have
seen emerge more recently.


The workers' movement was not fuelled by intellectual appeals to abstract
technical concepts, and was not focused on the reported conduct of remote
corporations or states, but on the direct conditions and interests
experienced by workers, and workers where legion.


Their cause was not based on morality or belief, but on the conditions of
their daily lives. What's more, the platforms where directly implied by
their conditions, they where not administered beliefs, but known facts.
Workplace safety, wages, working hours and other matters of direct interest
to workers did not require subscribing to one ideology or another to
understand.


The workers movement, because of its class basis, did not need to rely on
campaign contributions and lobby to have power, because the workers where
the masses.


The power of the worker's parties came from control of labour.


However, this language of Landlord, Capitalist and Worker emerged in quite
a different era. The Power Loom was the driving force of industry, Nobility
controlled the land and the State, and being a worker in early industry was
torturous, inhumane, and importantly, most workers where direct-producers.
The value they created took the form of stocks of goods that where
literally taken from their hand and into the possession of the Capitalists,
who became their owners and profited from their circulation, while the
workers where left with nothing more than that which their subsistence
demands so they could toil another day. Workers knew their class interests.
The exploitation of labour was not a theory, but a felt, daily experience.
There demands where not opinions, but terms of struggle.


The workers' movement won many of these struggles. Working conditions and
hours where improved as a result of fierce battles between workers and
capitalists. This began to make the demands of workers' parties less
pressing, more marginal and abstract, while theories of value and economy
developed further, the immediacy of the issues fell away.


More and more workers became non-direct producers, working in
administrative or technical fields that did not directly produce stocks of
goods, appropriation of the product of the labour became not a felt and
observed experience, but yet another theory, something about which one
could have an opinion, but not something that was a uniting term of
struggle.


All the while the most oppressive and harsh conditions where relegated to
the margins of society or even to other ends of the world, with whom the
great body of workers in developed society had no relationship at all, or
if any, then as yet another cause.


Politics has vanished and in it's place is a marketplace for
legitimization.


The commodity has become the voter themselves, delivered to a
consciousness industry made up of parties, public relation firms and other
agents of economic power. 


Absent from organized opposition, Capital has reshaped society towards
it's own interests. Where the owners of productive assets have increased
power and freedom, unchecked by any kind of political contestation, and the
masses are subjected, administered, and controlled. Workers are just
another economic input, like energy and natural resources, who matter only
enough to ensure reliable supply. Capital is spreading poverty, social
stratification, environmental degradation and war with impunity, checked
only by the economic and natural limits of such outcomes, and able to
socialize or transfer the costs even when such limits are exceeded and
catastrophe ensues.


To make politics relevant, to challenge and contest the interests of
Capital and to represent the interests of the masses we need workers to
once again unite in their common interests and make their social power
felt.


Yet, workers' politics is now failing because workers do not identify as
workers, and thus any appeal addressed to workers is unlikely to achieve
results. As the economy has moved on from the simple model of production
that classical language was born in, so must the language of class
politics. The workers are no longer direct witnesses to the product of
their labour being ripped from their hands and hoarded by the Capitalist.
Many people may hate their job, or their boss, but as the production of
value is more abstract and remote, they do not feel that their boss is
taking anything from them, rather they feel they are being given something,
their job and their paycheque, etc. It is not in the workplace that the
appropriation is felt, but rather after work, when they go home to pay
their bills.


We can't mobilize the masses as workers, but we can mobilize them as
Debtors.


Debt is not simply a cause to build awareness and support for, it is the
felt condition of the masses, who are struggling to pay their bills, who
are frustrated and angry and who demand representation which no mainstream
party will give them.


The Time has come for The Debtors' Party.


Join the initiative to found an International Debtors' Party. So far, the
resources are small, come help us build a movement.


 - Facebook group: http://bit.ly/debtorsfb


 - irc channel: #debt on irc.oftc.net


 - wiki: wiki.debtorsparty.org


With your help, much more to  come.


Anybody is Berlin is welcome to come to Stammtisch tonight and say hi,
this is in no way an official meeting of the Debtors' Party, just an
informal get together, but no doubt the topic will be present. Stammtisch
is at Cafe Buchhandlung, starting at 9pm. http://bit.ly/buchhandlung


Debtors' of The World Unite!

-- 
Dmyri Kleiner
Venture Communist





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