Social peace and unrest in the First World: the Greek events
Social peace and unrest in the First World: the Greek events
We have often stated that social peace in the First World is a result of terrible violence and oppression inflicted on the Third World. Contradictions in the First World have become non-antagonistic due to the tremendous amount of value that flows from the Third World to the First World. First World peoples as a whole align against Third World peoples as a whole. Even so, important distinctions can be made within the First World. Here are some important things to remember:
1. First World countries are not all the same. There are wealthier and less-wealthy First World countries. The wealthier First World countries are countries like the United States, Canada, England, Australia, Japan, Germany, etc. The less-wealthy First World countries include many countries in eastern Europe, Greece, Portugal, etc. What we are talking about is a continuum here. Some countries fall toward the ends of the continuum. Switzerland falls toward wealthier pole, for example. Others in eastern Europe fall toward the border between Third World and First World. Many countries fall in the middle of the First World continuum. In addition, there are more stable First World countries and ones that are crisis-ridden or unstable. For example, the United States and Canada are very stable First World countries, Greece is unstable at present.
2. Contradictions in these countries can play out in very different ways, often corresponding to where a First World country falls on the continuum and whether it is crisis-ridden or stable. In the most wealthy countries of the First World, the high standard of living among the population eliminates antagonistic contradictions from their societies. So much value flows into these societies that their populations become well-fed, complacent, docile, depoliticized. Their populations fall asleep in a kind of Disneyland of consumerism. The populations of these countries as a whole are too busy partaking of the consumerist free-for-all to consciously care about much at all about articulated politics. Apart from supporting the system as a whole, the lower strata of society in these countries do not fight especially hard for their particular interest vis-à-vis the upper strata, because they are largely satisfied and do not have to do so. Stability within the First World also deadens contradictions. The entire populations, for the most part, of these First World countries, more or less, align as part of the imperialist bourgeoisie. A kind of political nihilism prevails. Although overt and aggressive fascism can exist, it fails to gain the kind of traction it does elsewhere. In the United States, for example, overt and aggressive fascist groups like the Ku Klux Klan exist, but they are marginal today. Anti-migration groups and pundits exist, but their ability to affect society is limited to a set of small-range of policies and culture. At present, the idea that an overt and aggressive fascist organization could take over the United States to enact a radical and overt reorganization of society is far fetched. This is also true of neo-Nazi groups in Germany. Although they exist, they are not poised for a takeover. They do not have the ability to significantly disrupt and radically reorganize society as a whole.
3. Contradictions within less-wealthy or crisis-ridden countries within the First World play out differently. In these countries, contradictions, although non-antagonistic, can still become sharp. In terms of potential alignment, there are important differences between the upper and lower sections of society. In these countries, the “working class” or “labor aristocracy” can still fight especially hard to protect its interests within society as a distinct subgroup; it still fights hard against the upper strata. The First World populations as a whole are part of a global bourgeoisie, but there are still potentially sharp conflicts within that bourgeoisie in the less-wealthy countries of the First World. This is also true of crisis-ridden and unstable First World countries. Instability and sharp changes in standard of living downward can sharpen contradictions within the First World in a reactionary way. The part of the bourgeoisie known as “the labor aristocracy” in these countries, in seeking to protect and advance its position, can become a living and active social base for the most aggressive and militarist forms of fascism. As the standard of living falls drastically or becomes threatened, the lower strata reacts sharply. In seeking to advance and protect itself, this section of society can be mobilized in support of a more militarist and more aggressively imperialist radical reorganization of First World society. While the upper sections of society can advocate a more regularized, orderly, globalized kind of imperialism, the lower sections can advocate for a more nationalistic, militarized, racist, arbitrarily brutal form of imperialism. Such overt, aggressive fascist calls are almost always tied to an economic carrot being dangled in front of the lower or middle sections of First World society. This is why economist demands for First World populations, whether by the social-democratic left or racist right, amount to largely the same thing.
4. We must guard against movementarianism. We must not romanticize action and numbers. In places like the United States today, there are more sports riots than political riots of any kind. There are more beer riots on campuses than political riots nowadays. This points to a general malaise within the wealthier and stabler countries within the First World. By contrast, in places like Greece, there is still a sharp, but non-antagonistic contradiction within society. The current demands on the streets of Greece are not communist, socialist, progressive demands that Greeks give up their First World standard of living and consumption level to benefit the proletariat in the Third World. It is not an internationalist demand. Instead, the First Worldist populists in Greece, both “left” and right, are advocating for an accommodation with the system that protects and advances their First World way of life. They are protesting to retain their imperial standard of living. Just because people are on the streets, just because some wave red flags, just because the break windows or set fires, just because a few intellectuals pretend it is 1917 all over again and spout off internationalist slogans, does not mean a movement is progressive. Social imperialism, social fascism, is a very real phenomenon.
The flow of value to the First World is not uniform throughout the First World. There are some areas of the First World that are much richer than others. There are also some countries in the First World that are richer than other countries in the First World. There are also areas and countries within the First World that are more more stable and less crisis-ridden. Those countries whose populations are the most well-fed, whose life is secure and stable, are, in important senses, the most docile. Those countries that are closer to the middle between the First World and Third World and those countries in the First World that are more unstable and crisis-ridden, will have the potential for having more reactionary volatility. The rise of overt and aggressive fascism to challenge and reorganize the status quo in these countries is a more realistic possibility. We need a science of revolution that describes the actual reality of social alignments, not make-believe ones. Not every protest is progressive. Not everyone who waves a red flag is a communist.