The American Bear


No, what I’ve said in a sense suggests that they’re not, in that you can be a good leftist and thinker of the anti-capitalist movement without being particularly indebted to Marxism. I wouldn’t lean too heavily on the need for Marx to be right, though it’s true I suppose that Marxism has been the mainstream anti-capitalist critique within the left. What strikes me is the dramatic way the situation has changed since, say, the turn of the Millennium. At the turn of the Millennium, history was supposedly over. Capitalism was in a peculiarly confident and arrogant phase. And then, from the fall of the World Trade Centre onwards, there has been the so-called War against Terror, the enormous capitalist crisis, the Arab Spring, societies like Greece teetering on the brink of radical change, a majority of American youth saying they prefer socialism to capitalism. Nobody could have predicted that ten years ago. So I think that what’s brought Marxism or at least socialism back on the agenda is of course the capitalist crisis. It’s not because people have suddenly started reading Marx or a new generation of leftists has spontaneously emerged. It’s that crisis always makes a system visible, it always makes its limits visible, and systems don’t normally like that, and therefore people are able to cast a new critical eye on them.

Terry Eagleton responding to the question, “Do you think at this point in history “Marxism”, “communism”, “socialism”, “leftism” are basically interchangeable? Would you insist on sharp distinctions?”

Barker, Alexander and Niven, Alex. “An Interview with Terry Eagleton.” The Oxonian Review. 4 June 2012. Web. 4 June 2012. [source] h/t: ayjay)

I’m very fond of the final three sentences.

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If people do not actively combat a political regime which oppresses them, it may not be because they have meekly imbibed its governing values. It may be because they are too exhausted after a hard day’s work to have much energy left to engage in political activity, or because they are too fatalistic or apathetic to see the point of opposing the regime; or they may spend too much time worrying about their jobs and mortgages and income tax returns to give it much thought. Ruling classes have at their disposal a great may techniques of ‘negative’ social control, which are a good deal more prosaic and material than persuading their subjects that they belong to a master race or exhorting them to identify with the destiny of the nation.

Terry Eagleton, Ideology: an introduction, p.34

[n.b. immiseration is as good a technique of control as inspiration, or even the misidentification of the needs of the ruling classes as your own. Along with force, a technique of increasing the rate of exploitation (austerity) can be a technique for reducing the capacity of the working class for resistance.] (via itsworsethanthat)

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