My Resoc Interview
By Hans juergen Krysmanski at Nov 06, 2009
1. At a public talk someone asks you, "okay, I understand what you reject, but I wonder what you are for? What institutions do you want that you think will be better than what we have, for the economy, polity, gender, race, ecology, or whatever you think is central to have vision for?
Obviously, what we need is addressing the interrelatedness of ALL the economic, political, social, cultural, ecological issues contributing to the enduring crisis of mankind AT THE SAME TIME. It is the TOTALITY of problems that has to be confronted by a structure, will, drive or whatever that aspires to a complex, interconnected totality of solutions. There really is little time left for feelings of participatory wellness and goodness in isolated communities. What we need is a vision of spacial and temporal totality - which, of course, has nothing at all to do with totalitarianism. The only concepts coming even close to an awareness of the totality of problems and to a vision of the totality of solutions are PLANNING and SCIENCE. Therefore, it is all the existing institutions of planning and scientific research that must be moved into focus. They are the battleground, they must be changed. I see no 'institutions that will be better than what we have' unless it means 'institutions we have changed to the better'.
SCIENTIFIC PLANNING then would be my formula for the global solutions of the global problems confronting us. But that formula - especially for the Left - is an empty one. How can we fill it? In my paper, I try to point in two directions. One concerns the past and is best illustrated by a quote from Fredric Jameson: „Marx is neither actual nor outmoded: he is classical, and the whole Marxist and Communist tradition, more or less equal in duration to Athens's golden age, is precisely that golden age of the European left, to be returned to again and again with the most bewildering and fanatical, productive and contradictory results." The other direction concerns the present power structures that stand in the way of any real change and - at the same time - carry within themselves the seeds of revolution. The institutions of the capitalist class are more dependent than ever on their various functional elites. The capitalist class today rules (or tries to rule) by what may be called ‚power complexes'. We shouldn't be shy to identify actors within those complexes who, without ever having read a line of Zmag, might be our potential allies in building a better society. (Many members of these service classes are much more expert in assessing the cracks in the system than we are. Just look at some proceedings of the American Association for the Advancement of Science or at what some whistleblowers from Wall Street have to say.)
2. Next, someone at the same event asks, "Why do you do what you do? That is, you are speaking to us, and I know you write, and maybe you organize, but why do you do it? What do you think it accomplishes? What is your goal for your coming year, or for your next ten years?
My answer to this question is a simple one: I want to know WHO RULES in order to contribute to the abolition of the domination of man over man. This is a quest I will pursue as long as I can. And I don't have to start from scratch. Marxist class analysis (not Marx) may have fallen on hard times, having occasionally stumbled over its own feet into the trap of abstractionism. But it's still there. And I see hope in scientific endeavors like Power Structure Research which I would like to see expanded. I am aware of the fact that the United States have produced some weighty export models or franchises of ELITE POWER: 1) The configuration of the Power Elite as C. Wright Mills saw it. 2) The Military-Industrial-Complex or Pentagon Capitalism, stabilized and accelerated by the new geopolitics of the information age. 3) Today, a third export model of elite power has taken root: the networks of Wall Street Capitalism or, as I call it, the Monetary Power Complex. The MPC and its different functional elites and actors are discussed in my paper. Much more research on this subject is needed.
3. You are at home and you get an email that says a new organization is trying to form, internationally, federating national chapters, etc. It asks you to join the effort. Can you imagine plausible conditions under which you would say, yes, I will give my energies to making it happen along with the rest of you who are already involved? If so, what are those conditions? Or - do you think instead that regardless of the content of the agenda and make up of the participants, the idea can't be worthy, now,or perhaps ever. If so, why?
The one plausible condition that would make me say yes: If there is a substantial demand for assistance in understanding the complexities of the present crisis on the part of professional workers, of trade unions, of 'social workers' (in the sense of Antonio Negri), of workers representing various threads of immaterial labor-power, of knowledge, information and communication. I would not join any organization, be it local or global, that would, as we Germans say, just ‚stew in their own grease'.
4. Do you think efforts to organize movements, projects, and our own organizations should embody the seeds of the future in the present? If not, why? If yes, can you say what, very roughly, you think some of the implications would be for an organization you would favor?
The seeds of the future lie in the deeds of actors who are empowered to affect the present. Right now there is a very real chance to get shaken functional elites (halfheartedly, for example, serving the MIC and the MPC or having lost their jobs) to engage in a reflection of their own roles. They know their way around. They can harness the computer power and the knowledge machinery available. They have among them very smart people looking beyond their bonuses. They might discover, along the way, that enlightenment is no product of the Establishment, of Wall Street or of Harvard, but that reason has evolved within all of the cultures of globalization. They might - to re-phrase the central tenet of the Communist Manifesto - begin to enjoy the feeling of scientifically planning the replacement of the old social fabric with a global network of peaceful associations in which the free development of each is the condition for the free development of all.
So what I could envision would be a fluid, a roaming think tank (or rather, an anti-think tank) full of experts serving the multitude, pursuing totality, developing the full potential of a concept that originated in a two-person think tank 150 years ago: HISTORICAL MATERIALISM.
5. Why did you answer this interview?
Because you successfully pestered me. I admire your tenacity.
Why do you think others did not answer it?
Because these questions are not up to the complexity of the problems confronting us and to the totality of the solutions that are needed.