Dienstag, 27. Mai 2014

Left and Green or Green or Left and Left or Green or Green and Left

I1 am rather reluctant to write this, for I am quite aware that we have more serious problems than some minor unpleasantnesses on the far Left, but then again, I am sort of saying this exactly because of those more serious problems - in times of a horrifying leap towards the political Extreme-Right, as we have just seen it in the European parliament election, we should perhaps start to think about how we can make "Leftist" values or programs more attractive and strong, so that there might be an alternative to frustrated votes on the Right.
To clarify: I have long called myself a Leftist, although I got more and more hesitant to call myself in such a way over the last years. This is not because I have alienated from Leftist values. It's just that it seems to me that there is a lot of Christian Messianism in Marxist thought (on bad days I am feeling like Marxism was the second big reformation of Christianity after Lutheranism - heaven descended unto earth as the proletarian state, but everything else stayed the same2) and that the political term Green can incorporate every useful notion of the Left and at the same time justify it better - the survival of the planet seems to me a much more convincing motivation than the resolution of some economic "contradictions" - leaving aside all the potentialities for Leftist violence, as we have seen it too much in the last century.
Of course I am not exclusively talking about the established Green parties - but with "Green thought" in it's various forms you can argue very well against inequality, exploitation and many other "Leftist issues" in a very radical way without undergoing the usual Marxist dialectical twists. Left was the term of the 20th century, Green is the one for the 21st - that's how I'd like to put it.
Is Green the new Left?
I've been to the demonstration against Police Violence in Vienna last Thursday. Quick summary: there has been a demonstration against a march of the Identitarians the previous Saturday which resulted into some horrible, nasty police violence in which a lot of unjustified pepper spray, police brutality happened and allegedly a pregnant woman lost her child. This - and knowing from own experience as from that of others that for most part Viennese police sadly is some racist, far-out-right scum  - made me go to this demonstration against Police Violence.
I did go to the demonstration because I wanted to take a stand against the dangerous abusive ills of the Austrian police system, but being there, I quickly started to feel annoyed. Because most of the (not more than 1000 protesters) were waving some red flags around - Leninist-Trotskyists, AntiFas and other Far-out-Left groups were the majority and the speeches that were given at the stage were the usual leftist triteness with all the "solidarity", "antifascist" and "class struggle" buzzwords I've heard a thousand times before. I wanted to go to the demonstration to show my discontent of how the Police System is structured, but being there I quickly felt I have to assume one of the Marxist (Leninist / Trotskyist ++) identities that were advertised on the numerous flags around me as well as by the speeches. This gave me the creeps, because I am personally opposed to Identities or Identitarians, whatever colour their flag is and I feel alienated very quickly from any form of gathering if I feel I have to affiliate to some of those to be a part of it.
Please never wave a green flag.
Of course, I am much more happy to be surrounded by people waving red flags than yellow, or brown or blue flags, but still I felt sort of abused while standing in the crowd of that demonstration. Because I wanted to show my discontent against Police Violence, and not my solidarity with some leftist movement and I have the feeling I am not the only one who feels that way. Many people are very dissatisfied with the way our contemporary society is structured and would like to change it. But far less people are attracted to old-fashioned leftist ideals - at least in their dogmatic, reflected version, as you mostly find it among everyday-protesters. But since their presence is usually omnipresent at those kind of demonstrations, I think this scares away a lot of these people. To me it seems, there is this huge confusion of problems and solutions - many, maybe even most people today would agree that our society has huge problems that do require a major change, but far less people believe that we have already found the solutions for those problems.
That's why I found the #occupy-movement - at least in its idealized form, for I am aware there have been quite some problems with it - so inspiring. To me, there was something novel in that movement, for its basic message seemed to be "We are discontent with the current situation - we do not have a solution to it yet - but hey, let's try to work on it - let's try to change the situation - let's try out other things and see how it goes - let's dare to do an experiment other than sticking to an old rotten system of which we all know, how bad it is." I liked this so much, because it seemed to have the courage to stop to cling onto some hastily postulated Marxist better-world ideals and admit, that we do not know how to save or better the world. It did not require all of its attendees to have the same ideology to be a part of the #occupy-movement, it was enough to simply say "I am discontent - let's try to stir things up."
In the early phase, #occupy has been criticised for precisely this reason, but I do frankly think, that this is its inherent strength. Because the problems of our time are so complex, that there is no solution at hand. Our institutions and we, who are stuck in between them, are so old and rigid - we need to shake them up, to become free of them first and then see, if a "solution" (tricky word) is at hand. To postulate that we do already have the solution at hand since it was first written down in a book by a German émigré in London some 150 years ago has too much of those Messianic traits that I have hinted at earlier.  Life is a organic process and there is no solution a priori to it (a heaven), it is something that needs to be continuously reworked, rethought, redone....lived. This fundamental notion seems to me to be the (un-Christian, un-Monotheistic and un-Platonistic) realization of the #occupy-movement as well as a core of Green thought. And yes - I am idealizing things a lot here...it is required to envision some ideals to acquire some change.
Green is un-Christian, un-Monotheistic and un-Platonistic.
I've heard that Simone Weil said, that if a Nazi and a Communist would have met in Berlin 1932 and would have started a conversation instead of throwing rocks at each other, they would have been surprised about how much they have in common.
I am opposed to identities because they encourage people to gather in groups, install fronts and fight each other instead of the problem, they both originate from. A person without identity (Mann ohne Eigenschaften, corps-sans-organes, ...) can have empathy with every body, because we all are 99% the same, if our identities wouldn't get in the way of our heads. This is why I feel uncanny, when I go to a demonstration and feel I have to acquire a pre-given identity, where I only wanted to show discontent with and opposition to something. I don't want to be a part of some specific political or other group, I am part of humanity and believe we have to change quite a lot to maintain it. AND I believe many people feel like that and would like to show that but are scared away by those identities that are still dominant in almost every demonstration. So I believe that demonstrations would get more attendees, if they would be more open, if they would not advertise with red flags, banners and speeches so much. People would like to change something, but most people do not fall for the old-fashioned dogmatic bullshit any longer.

It took me a lot of effort to write this, for I know there are so many things in it to be criticised, which are only half-true and were quite painful for me myself to write. But I would like the reader to see this as some desperate attempt to postulate some idea(l)s of how we could improve the world - how (old term:) Leftist (new term:) Green values could reach a higher popularity. Because that is what they would need, for we do live in a democracy (or Ochlocrazy?) and we have just seen a terrible leap towards the Far-Right in the European election, with which the world will clearly be going to shit, if they keep on growing...that is...if we do not manage to postulate a much more attractive, progressive alternative to this conservative backlash.

1 the ideas for this article arose from a conversation with Alix Deneault - thanks Alix!
2 to investigate further along those lines, I recommend to read the last two chapters of Peter Sloterdijk's Gottes Eifer - especially page 191 and 195 in the Verlag der Weltreligionen hardcover edition of 2007.

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