Someone just asked me why I think “move your money” is a good idea. Well, because It encourages people to register their disapproval of the unreformed financial sector, opens up debates about alternative forms of banking, and potentially through bank-based pranks doesn’t just keep the role of banks and finance in the public eye but allows for engagements and interactions around the subject of the banking sector that otherwise might not take place. In other words it isn’t all just happening on twitter (whatever that is).
It’s not an either/or situation in which anyone who finds stuff like this potentially useful, or potent must be stumbling into the hands of the liberal elite. It’s a different way of protesting now that protest has been rendered especially useless, no one thinks this is a solution to finance’s stranglehold on the world and that regulation can be sidestepped, or is rendered irrelevant. So pointing that out triumphantly seems both self-satisfied and misplaced. Like saying that OWS or the student riots haven’t changed anything, and that protest is useless. Well not yet they haven’t but these are all important sites of potential energy and radicalization aren’t they, seedbeds of further thought and engagement and action? You did notice that we were on ideological lockdown for about twenty years there, didn’t you? And now you expect a wave, a crescendo of transformative violence to radically reorder relations among men on a global level? It’s going to take years, decades probably, through slow, piecemeal re-groupings and periods of repression and contestation. Carving out new discursive practices and spaces and reforming existing institutions, even abolishing them and fundamentally reorganising social relations isn’t going to happen this week, or next year, or anytime too soon. I’ve been watching that bloke from the Financial Times thrash everyone on Newsnight and On the Hour. Maybe I am out of the loop, maybe back in England new alternatives are boiling up everywhere, but do you know how long it took The Mont Perlin Society to have their day? And they may yet have it again if OWS keep bigging up Hayek in the FT.
What is starting to get on my nerves a bit though is commentary which finds initiatives like this insufficiently radical, those commentators themselves seem to have no answers or initiatives but they do have a very thoroughgoing critique. I might agree with your critique, it’s probably absolutely right and uncompromising and all your equally brilliant and uncompromising friends agree. And perhaps at some point that will become the basis for the great revolution. We’ll see, but, honestly, a few years ago you couldn’t meet a self-declared Marxist anywhere, (or at least not one under the age of Fifty) and trust me, I tried. Now I can’t seem to get away from people yelling (I mean, on the Internet, obviously) about how insufficiently Marxist everyone else is. Never been trendier, eh? Shame I’m not in London anymore. What’s the Hipster-Marxist part of town? How extreme does my position need to be, and what names do I have to drop before I get access to the inner circles?
Angry Anti-porn Queer Marxist Flaneur and riotstarting Congontronics anti-humanist? Honestly! Wave your theory, music cool and socially marginal outsider credentials in my face some more why don’t you? I get it, I get it. You’re a radical. There’s nothing obvious, or predictable, or worse still, middle-of-the-road, about YOU! I wonder whether there isn’t a kind of neurosis behind all this, a kind of preciousness and aristocratic disdain that allows people to claim to be on the side of the proles, without actually having to endorse or engage in anything that might not be theoretically pure. You don’t want to dirty your hands with stuff that might not be, let’s be franker, cool. Cool Anti-Capitalism. Or endorse anything middle class, even though much of your rage stems from the indignity of being really smart and well educated and eking out a living and maybe expecting/demanding a bit more out of life than you’re getting. I mean you must be one of those new breed of graduates with no future that Paul Mason keeps saying is the tinderbox that will ignite the passions of all those combustible and aimless masses, right? In your abjection you secretly exult in the fantasy of your own power, and lay waste with the brilliance of your insight to the pitiful fumbling of lesser men.
You will be coming up with the game-changer, the big move, the Revolution, the five point programme, the ten year plan, the great leap forward. I can’t wait. You and your mates will talk it all into existence one drunken night. in an orgy of stupefying mentation. Maybe if you just say “Communism” three times and keep clicking your heels we will all be magically transported there. Until then, anything that keeps the ball rolling, any broad-based, inclusive, critical movement, any site of potential interaction, argument and engagement is alright by me.