Had a chat with a good friend about politics.She told me about the tory party’s conference promises to keep people under the heals of power. Restrict unemployed people by cards that allow only essentials, while claiming that this will keep people off the booze. (..a bit like fascist and other such authoritarian regimes that pit the violence of order against chaotic civility of democracy? China anyone..?)
2nd element in the tory scheme is lower taxes. The less tax we pay, the less there is for art, culture, education, health, etc., hence, the less tax is in fact more money for people that will become the private owners of art, education, hospitals, etc.. (..this should not be news for people, however, am stating that because it sounds like people who do take the tories seriously – might require a reminder?)
3rd element is that of using unemployed as both a performance of the hated and a warning for the low paid. And the rest, will just have to work harder to keep up with raising costs as the gap between haves and have nots is widening..
That is a grim vision of a near future blight. However, I think it is also an interesting critique of democracy in general and of certain elements in particular. This whole sequence of power getting more powerful was not supposed to have happened. We were supposed to be immuned to power’s tyrannic nature by, for example, being a society of more & better educated people. eg People that can ask and question power, people that can read, write and share ideas freely and independently. People that can demand more than just survival from society and their culture. Though perhaps we were too fixated by appearance, performance – ie freedom of expression, rather than fearless freedom – the illegitimacy of power to intimidate.
We were supposed to have personal, economical, social, judicial, cultural, artistic, technological and educational frequencies and sequences made of checks and balances.
There is an argument that these were undermined, with the help of various conservative types of all political spectrum, and now we are left with a zombie democracy. A democratic being devoured of its character, one that can only hope to live forever being based on the very missingness of its former vitalities. When once democracy, for example, offered a civil process from forms of exploitation – at home, at work, in culture, health, etc. – current democracies offer rituals, eg elections, and an occupying process to de-emancipate the individual, social, and cultural freedoms – in the name of private capitalisation.
Like a Kafkaesque tragic sequence, the one when they 1st came for the aliens, then the migrants, etc. – the paradigm of occupation by power has shifted progressively towards whatever is left to be occupied.. It used to be other people’s lands, now it is your educational, cultural and health services.
However, the very fact that former freedoms have collapsed into defensive, hence ground losing procedural processes, eg defence rather than an expansion of nhs, a question of how much to pay rather than what else can be financially freed in education, keeping certain “gained” rights – rather than adding to them, etc. allowed politicians of conservative ilk, like blair and co, to claim that there is nothing else to be done but keeping freedoms, as if we – as societies – are already free. (eg forgetting freedom is a practice rather than an object or a process leading to some particular outcome..)
That is why I think the rather rapid collapse of, for example, free university education, via the ability to undermine the idea of free education – indicates something was mistaken in the initial sequence and/or its rhythm, something that allowed altering the elements back to the being paid sequence of educational delivery model.
Or perhaps Nothing, 0, was wrong in the sequence itself – but the practice was/is the bane.. These are questions that the authoritarian critique brings up, and make vibrantly relevant.
I think this is a rather dark yet remarkable material to come from, because the quick, visceral, brutal and violent conservative-capitalistic critique of basic assumptions, is an opportunity to invigorate democratic processes and questions, from the bottom up. To, for example, go back from the notion of free culture and sequence it in perhaps a tighter way. However, even if it ultimately fails – the very drive to question, is a turn from the radical perspective. (ie the Arendtian notion of non-conservative life of radical elements..)
A process that can allow, for example, to question assumptions, maybe assumptions that mutated into presumptions, perhaps get new ones, be assumptive free, or even question being a process, etc..
For me, perhaps via some affinity to dark sense of humour, the darker and the more anti-democratic our times are becoming, the more this process could be taken as a critique to spur on, rather than despair further into rituals of hope. Though when it comes to hope, its a fools’ sequence..
After-all, as my friend reminded, we are of a certain age and generation that lived through a rather unique time-space. A time of relative peace & prosperity (for us, not others that paid for these 2xPs with their lives..) That came via a long and violent struggle for the ability of have this process of sharing common emancipatory sequences. And a place, eg “the west”, where all these elements came together. It is unique because, despite all its deficiencies, pit-falls and hypocrisies – the time-space of ever more equality and emancipation, is uber un-usual in the life of our planet in general and, despite the overall insignificance yet rather fun-full, life of humans – in particular..
Perhaps as “members” of that generation, we owe to others, at least the drive, the move to have the seeming privileges we had – eg free health and some education?
However, perhaps we have lost – or on the losing trajectory of – these elements, precisely because they are essentials being mistaken as privileges..?