The current German elites are enjoying the return to normality as a nation-state. Having reached the end of a “long path to the West,” they are certified democrats and can once again be “just like the others.” What has disappeared is the anxiousness of a people, who were also defeated morally and were compelled to engage in self-criticism, to find their bearings more rapidly in the postnational constellation. In a globalized world everyone has to learn to incorporate the perspectives of others into his or her own instead of withdrawing into an egocentric blend of aestheticization and utility-maximization.
After 9/11, I was shocked by the fact that there was public mourning for many of the people who died in the attacks on the World Trade Center, less public mourning for those who died in the attack on the Pentagon, no public mourning for the illegal workers of the WTC, and, for a very long time, no public acknowledgment of the gay and lesbian families and relationships that had been destroyed by the loss of one of the partners in the bombings. Then we went to war very quickly, Bush having decided that the time for grieving is over. I think he said that after ten days, that the time for grieving is over and now is time for action. At which point we started killing populations abroad with no clear rationale. And the populations we targeted for violence were ones that never appeared to us in pictures. We never got little obituaries for them. We never heard anything about what lives had been destroyed. And we still don’t.
…there is a malign dialectic at work here. I buy things in order to try and reassert my identity, but as the marketplace grows I am offered an increasing variety of goods and services, and associated ways of living, from which to choose. Now my identity is even more in question, because it is something that I myself have to select and realize. The impact is heightened as the material prosperity of society increases – even something as basic as food becomes no longer a matter of survival and physical well-being, but a decision about life-style.
- Jenny Turner in the LRB on the transformation of the Revolutionary Communist Party into the right-wing think-tank the Institute of Ideas:
These days, IoI bods look like delegates at a Unison conference, or the seekers who gather at Landmark seminars and the Alpha Course. The ones who make the speeches are mostly white and in their thirties and forties (the volunteers on the cameras and boom-mikes are younger and more diverse). They’re more relaxed than they used to be, less aggressive and overtly controlling, but they still have a habit of sitting on panels together, pretending they don’t already know each other, and they still dominate meetings with tedious, well-rehearsed spontaneous interventions.
- That in turn led me to John Sullivan’s hilarious satirical writings on the far-left groupuscules at marxists.org, including his brilliant guide to setting up your own far-left group:
Why, in any case, go to the trouble of recruiting people completely new to politics when there are about 600 people leaving the Socialist Workers Party each year and a proportionate number from the smaller groups. Concentrate on such people, but avoid ex-members of Militant, whose limited conceptual abilities cripple them once they cut loose from their organisation’s guidance.