Tuesday, September 24, 2013

The Failure of Human Agency

I wrote this in a recent comment and thought I'd expand upon it.
Larger forces (environmental, economic, technological) are going to have to blindly guide blind humanity towards a different form of social organization.

We are incapable of doing it ourselves. (By "we" i  mean the better sort of humanity, like us, who act as our species' rational conscience.) Our elites, meanwhile, will lead us to ruin.
In other words, human beings are incapable of thinking about a better world, seeing what needs to be done in order to attain that world, and doing the work necessary to see that that world is built. I now agree with Marx in privileging the power of larger social-economic forces to decide things, over the autonomous agency of individual human beings.

The social-welfare state of the 1945-73 period was the product of Fordist manufacturing processes, the Great Depression and the social organization of resources in the capitalist democracies that ended unemployment, brought widespread prosperity and temporarily destroyed the self-serving myth that a more just and equitable society was possible.

Certainly, individual human beings (tens of millions of them) made decisions and steered little pieces of their world towards that end, but their efforts would have been for nothing without the assistance of those blind larger forces.

And it's not as if that pro-capitalist, consumerist, anti-environmental, population-explosion inducing world didn't contain within it the seeds of its own destruction. Hell, it's still possible that we'll destroy ourselves with the nuclear weapons we built during that era.

We "progressives" simply have to face the fact that we're outnumbered by the dismally stupid and the totally ignorant. The "Occupy" movement failed because camping out in the park discussing and debating forever while police truncheons split the skulls of the discussants isn't a viable revolutionary strategy. "Idle No More" has restored some pride to many First Nations in Canada, and it briefly impugned upon the consciousnesses of the people from the settler society, but flash-mobs in shopping malls aren't going to bring the Canadian state to its knees.

The best we can do is conduct an orderly retreat; forget holding the line. We're out-gunned and overwhelmed. Especially by the stupid.


Anonymous said...

Pots and pans did ok in Quebec. We can't do beheadings but 911 sure struck a cord. The many effected change in the US by overpowering the stupid. Yeah, I know your position on Obama and the drones, but let's leave that alone for now.
And the few whistle blowers, hacktivists do what they can. I prefer Voltaire's philosophy of just tending your own garden.

thwap said...

Pots and pans, and then the anti-assembly law was passed.

And then the PQ cut anyway (not even bothering to implement any of the Red Square's fiscal alternatives).

After Voltaire got publicly flogged, he was able to fuck-off and maintain himself with his writing elsewhere.

I don't know what to do.