A New Manifesto
Marxist Ethics and Economics
New Gnosis Publications
Paperback 103 pages
"The philosophers have only interpreted the world.
The point, however, is to change it."
- Karl Marx
DEEP SOCIALISM is a Marxist Manifesto for the 21st Century – a radical critique, not only of the capitalist market economy but of the cynical and ethically corrupting culture of capitalist consumer marketing.
It extends Marx’s profound analysis of economic value to ethical values, showing how the modern corporation, far from ‘valuing’ people, actually devalues the real individual qualities of its employees – whilst at the same time relying on them as a source of surplus value and profit.
Capitalist freedom and individualism is a spurious freedom
and individualism – the freedom of the consumer to spend money
only earned through compulsory wage-slavery. Real communism is
authentic individualism – a society in which, as Marx himself defined it
“the free development of each is the condition for the free development of all.”
DEEP SOCIALISM is without a doubt a New & Gnostic Manifesto of Marxism.
At a time when The New Rome (Corporate State Capitalist Imperialism) is drawing the noose ever closer around the throats of the Working Class & other World Citizens, DEEP SOCIALISM appears on the scene as a Gnostic Revolutionary Text of the greatest significance to all who would rationally oppose The New World Order.
DEEP SOCIALISM, in the tradition of Marxist literature, predicates one debatable assumption: the average person (Marx’s “Proletariat” or Working Class) is not only capable of, but actually concerned about creating a better world (Marx would call this “class consciousness” and “class struggle”). Most people are either so over worked or, conversely, underemployed that they feel they have little or no time or are too stressed out for self-education or political activism.
This is understandable.
And what about the masses of beer guzzling, sexist, female-abusing boneheads or Rodeo Drive, liposuctioned, Botox®-brained spoiled princesses oblivious of all except a narrow, egocentric reality?
DEEP SOCIALISM speaks to the first group with clarity and honesty. As for the self-involved & self-destructive, readers are cautioned to recognize those aspects in our-Selves before throwing stones. The Social Revolution involves a deep revolutionary process, a radical transformation of both the inner and the outer reality that affirms both personal relational change & the global transition to socialism.
Author Peter Wilberg has an impressive talent for communicating extensive increments of potentially complex information in a non-intimidating format that is both motivating and readily accessible to the general reader. Although building upon a traditional Marxist structure, he not only explains that structure to non-students of Marxism, but also expands & revitalizes that structure to make it relevant to the current era. The author’s analysis & renovation in this regard recommend his work as must-read material to all committed Marxists as well. Wilberg demonstrated this literary ability in FROM NEW AGE TO NEW GNOSIS, and proves it again with DEEP SOCIALISM.
In the PREFACE (page ix) Wilberg defines the central thesis of Marxist Socialism:
This ethic was based on the understanding that each person’s labour
has the same worth as every other’s, and went together with the vision of a
communist society in which work, instead of being a means to an end, would be
an intrinsic source of deep value fulfillment.
On pages x – xi the author presents his own view of a newly defined Deep Socialism:
The first part of this manifesto presents a new critique not just of the ethics and
economics of the market but of its culture – the culture of marketing – one which transforms
all deep human values and cultural symbols into commodities…
Deep Socialism is fulfilled individualism – a social individualism in which
deep relational value fulfillment replaces the purely symbolic value fulfillment
of atomized individuals and groups in the market economy.
This parallels The Gnostic Pagan School concept of individual & collective Transfiguration, a 21° interpretation of THE GREAT WORK.
DEEP SOCIALISM is divided into 3 sections, the first titled: FROM EQUALITY TO QUALITY OF LIFE (Beyond the Ethics and Economics of the Market).
The material is not as daunting to the novice Gnostic and Socialist reader as the title may suggest.
The author continues the Modern Gnostic spiritual socio-political critique that characterizes FROM NEW AGE TO NEW GNOSIS. He goes behind & beyond the words & popular buzzwords that define & form the parameters of the world we all must learn to share. His analysis transcends the appearance into the essence, the inner meaning behind the word.
In the opening article (P.3) A New Communist Manifesto? Peter Wilberg deftly illustrates the crucial political issue of the current epoch:
With the collapse of Soviet-style “communism” many believed Marxism to be dead…
In fact, the last decades of the twentieth century saw Marx’s theory
of capitalist development confirmed in every respect.
The phenomenon of “globalisation” fully bears out Marx’s understanding
that not only with the establishment of a totally globalised corporate market economy
would the inherent contradictions of capitalism come to a head…a huge global “underclass”
including the under-nourished, under-paid, under-employed and unemployed.
Marx created his masterpieces of economic & political analysis during the darkest days of the Industrial Revolution. Then Capitalism had recently emerged triumphant from the widespread social upheaval of various nationalist Bourgeois Revolutions (United States, France, etc.) that overthrew that basis of the reactionary Feudal Monarchies aligned with the Religious Establishment. Although an historic progression from the old system, already by Marx’s time Capitalism was revealing deep contradictions within itself, promoting the self-serving value of the profit motive over human value. The result was a horrific living standard for the poor (including child labor & generally deplorable working conditions for those who could find work) & an unrestrained degradation of the environment.
It was the great Worker’s & Democratic struggles (largely inspired by Socialism) that began to enforce the (rapidly eroding) safeguards against Capitalism still enjoyed today.
However, with the ascent of Corporate State Capitalism an International Oligarchy emerged that has derailed the Unions & Social Democracy. This Oligarchy has cleverly devised to dismantle compassionate social programs & is in the process of rewriting history in its own image. Now basic social & democratic benefits, rather than being hard won through political struggle, are “granted” or taken away by the Oligarchs riding roughshod over a passive, compliant population. In a very short period of time, Capitalism has degenerated into an International Autocracy.
DEEP SOCIALISM not only explains how that happened, but also indicates remedies for the situation.
There is, however, one obvious omission in the text; that is the failure to address the pragmatic contemporary issue of Class Struggle and Worker’s Solidarity. Wilberg seems to take what can only be described as an “ultra-reformist” position vis-à-vis Class Struggle, even a denial of its existence. This issue will be examined in the concluding section of the review.
Peter Wilberg describes the technological failure of the Soviet planned economy, resulting in the contemporary attacks against International Socialism:
The economic attack on socialism overlooks the fact that modern information technology
now makes possible a devolved, efficient and ecologically balanced planned economy free of the sort of bureaucratic waste, inefficiency and privilege associated with the now defunct Soviet economies.Their problems were partly due to the massive and long-term diversion of resources into military-industrial production, and partly also to a plain lack of computing power.
No doubt about that “lack of computing power.”
As a matter fact, the successful final stage of the Yeltsin-led Capitalist counter-revolution against the politically degenerated Soviet Union was primarily engineered on-line, directing whom to go when & where. The adaptation of advanced technology by Socialism has been termed Trans-humanist Socialism. Advanced technology will not only lay the foundation for an expanded expression of democratic International Socialism, but will also be instrumental in the overthrow of The New Rome.
There is now no way to go back to the social market that post-war political conditions
made possible for a while in West Germany – a form of capitalism which US fund managers
regarded as a neo-socialist aberration, giving them a poor return on capital.
There is only one way forward – to a fully socialist economy.
On Pgs. 10-11, Peter Wilberg indicates how the current stage of decaying Capitalism sets the brakes on cultural innovation, suppressing and/or corrupting creativity & originality:
All individuals and groups who seek to restore or renew traditional values,
or to affirm new ones, must, in order to reach their audience, first bow down to
the demands of the market place and become consumers of symbolic values – must
devalue the very values they seek to promote by marketing them as symbols and commodities. The growth of cultural diversity, the proliferation of alternative life-styles, religions, world outlooks and therapies in our “post-modern” world poses no essential challenge to the capitalist value system so long as their advocates heed the call of the market and reduce the deep values they seek to embody to symbolic ones acceptable to the modern-day spiritual consumer.
Revolutionary playwright Bertolt Brecht expressed this idea a little more graphically when he wrote, “Under Capitalism you sell your piss to the urinal.”
This is not to say that “counter-culture” or even “mainstream” creativity is non-existent; but the more anti-Capitalist in nature, the less socially effective or popular it will be. Capitalist society only really feels comfortable with innovative creators (particularly artists) when they’re dead. The price of their work goes up & there’s no “disruptive” living personality to deal with.
Another example is U.S. Public Broadcasting Stations (PBS).
With the massive subsidy cutbacks to PBS, local stations are forced into ever more desperate & annoying “pledge breaks.” Additionally, PBS now has commercials (disguised as “sponsor announcements”) just like any other Capitalist station—albeit it fewer in number & duration than the mainstream stations. The result is a subtle, yet steady, rightward shift of PBS priorities. If it weren’t for the excellent recycled British Broadcasting (BBC) programs, American Public Broadcasting, particularly its news programs, might be confused with other bourgeois channels--with the added attraction of pledge breaks.
Just as Capitalism distorts creativity & spirituality, it oppresses & exploits manual labor, establishing a false dichotomy between manual and mental labor.
Capitalism cannot boast of a culture, which acknowledges the equal spiritual worth
of each individual whilst denying the equal value of different types of labour…It is the
under-valuation and overvaluation of different types of work, irrespective of quality…
that leads to the progressive demoralization of individuals and society.
It is precisely this type of demoralization and social stultification that appears as a recurrent theme in the works of “naturalist” Russian playwright Anton Chekhov [1860-1904.] Writing at a time when Czarist Russia was in many ways sub-capitalist (that is, the social structure remained entrenched in a feudal economic structure despite the “freeing” of the serfs), Chekhov’s plays anticipate the impending revolutionary events of 1905 and 1917. The characters in his plays long for change & meaningful control over their lives, but find themselves trapped by social conformity and an economic system mired in caste & privilege; and subsequently Chekhov’s often sensitive & intelligent protagonists are unable to change in a positive direction or find creative outlets for their personal frustrations.
[Refer to The Cherry Orchard, Three Sisters and Uncle Vanya, plays by Anton Chekhov.]
Pre-revolutionary Russian society also mirrored social conditions not that much different from our own times in which Mediocrity is King and Banality Rules.
Other similarities between modern Capitalist society and that of pre-revolutionary Russia include a profound sense of individual alienation & hopelessness expressed as apathy and both self & social destructiveness; a conservative stranglehold over the media & cultural institutions; and, perhaps most strikingly, an insidious and pervasive miasma of religious obscurantism & superstition. It was the latter, personified in the “Mad Monk” Rasputin & his influence on the Imperial Family, which proved to be the last straw for political Moderates (and in some cases even Monarchists), and fueled the flames of Social Revolution.
[As stated in other GNOSTICS & THE SOCIAL REVOLUTION articles, Marx predicted that a true Socialist Revolution in a country as economically backward as Czarist Russia would ultimately fail. See also, NEW AEON SOCIALIST JOURNAL.]
Regarding the artificial split between mental & manual labor, a good case scenario of this can be seen in the pay structure of nursing facilities. At the top of the pay scale are the administrators and their various personal “assistants,” while at the bottom are the employees who actually engage in those activities the business was created for—patient care. Management enjoys many “perks” while those who provide care have none.
…Why should a corporate boss earn hundreds more per hour
than a hard-working secretary, cleaner or assembly-line worker?
Apologists for capitalism claim that only in this way are incentives provided
for people to work harder…
In the nursing home scenario, the personal care providers couldn’t possibly work harder than they usually do—while at the same time the Administration & Management positions are often the “cushiest” around.
Peter Wilberg presents aspects of the Socialist alternative to this common type of inequity:
In a socialist economy, all workers would be paid the same basic hourly rate – not in money
but in “smart card” entitlements to whatever products and services they choose to obtain. Systems of earning differentials would be based solely on distinctions in the quality of the time and work that individuals put in. These quality differentials would be decided democratically. Individuals who preferred to work at the minimum quality level established by a collective would be under no pressure to raise their productivity – they would simply get the basic rate.
The establishment of a democratic, planned economy, and the phasing out of money
in favour of labour time-and-quality credits recorded on smart cards would take advantage
of the enormous developments in information and communications technology brought about by computers and microchips. In this way the basic Marxist theory of social development and transformation would be fulfilled: namely that it is development in the technology of production that makes changes in the economic structure of society both necessary and possible.
And, as though anticipating the inevitable reactionary argument that Socialism represents a “leveling-down” or authoritarian concept, Wilberg writes:
The model of human relations on which socialism is based is a cooperative one,
based on acknowledging that it precisely in those ways in which other individuals and groups
appear most different to us that our deepest value kinships become symbolically manifest.
The Social Revolution represents an ELEVATION of society from its current depths of alienation to a higher, creative—and, yes, EXCITING level of proactive manifestation. One of the favorite Capitalist arguments against Socialism is the thread-bare “human nature” theory that implies that Capitalism is the best system possible since people are by nature too selfish to create anything better to replace it with. Time and time again this fallacy has been exposed by the myriad anti-colonial and worker’s struggles in which the heroic nature of the “common man” has been demonstrated.
DEEP SOCIALISM contradicts the Oligarch’s anti-worker disinformation by replacing it with a fundamental belief in human decency & creativity.
Addressing the crucial issue of healthcare, we find:
Stress is embodied in sickness and poor working relationships
and materialised in poor quality products, industrial accidents, etc.
Because, in a socialist economy, labour time would be measured and
recompensed according to its quality as well as its quantity – all individuals
would be ensured of sufficient compensation in labour time-and-quality credits
to allow the quality time necessary to maintain their well-being, sustain their health
and replenish their creative powers.
And pertaining to the type of care patients receive under the Capitalist System:
The few minutes available for each patient do not encourage people to speak intimately.
Patients are not alone in their frustration over the present healthcare status quo. The ever-changing reimbursement scales & medical restrictions imposed by the callous Capitalist Oligarchy equally frustrate the myriad levels of service providers. For example, the recent 2003 recall election of “action hero” actor Arnold Schwarzennegger in California that tossed out the craven Democrat Governor Gray Davis resulted in an unprecedented slash in human services. The program In-Home-Support Services that provided a few hours of care for disabled & HIV patients was completely gutted. This cruel budget cut clearly illustrates the Marxist position that the proof of a society’s evolution is reflected in the way it treats its most vulnerable citizens.
Working class & poor patients are not the only ones to suffer.
Even the wealthy (particularly the elderly) have little or no control over their care in comparison to those members of the Oligarchy who actively control the system.
In the section “Work, Jobs and Deep Employment” Wilberg states:
What most people seek is deep employment. This does not mean
simply having a “job”, even a “good job”. It means doing a good job—
one in which they embody and fulfill their human qualities to the utmost in their work.
The number of people willing to commit themselves to unpaid voluntary work and “do gooding” is a symbol of this basic desire. The search for deep employment is dampened less by no-pay than by low-pay, low-recognition jobs of the sort that the labour market offers the unemployed and social security agencies pressure them to take up. The reduction of unemployment statistics that come about in this way, irrespective of how they are calculated, is a symbolic one only.
Capitalist politicians & corporations perennially screech the mantra, “Jobs, jobs & more jobs!” They are usually referring to crappy jobs the Capitalists themselves wouldn’t dream of doing, but they go on screaming “More Jobs!”
THERE ARE TOO MANY PEOPLE DOING CRAPPY JOBS ALREADY.
Not only is it a drag to slave for Capitalism, it is also a horrible drain on the environment. The desire to work, to “do”, to create is intrinsic to human nature. The problem is how that desire manifests in society.
UNDER CAPITALISM THE PRIMARY ORIGINAL SIN IS NOT TO WORK FOR THE SYSTEM.
It doesn’t matter if the work you do is unsatisfying and/or fundamentally at odds with the worker’s nature, or if it’s just designed to take up time. Bob Dylan expressed this perfectly in his song Ain’t Gonna Work On Maggie’s Farm No More:
They say sing while you slave, I just get bored…
Regimentation of workers is essential to Capitalism. This is a major reason why the USA is so totally wacked out over the issue of drugs, particularly psychedelics & marijuana. The Oligarchy doesn’t want these Awareness Enhancing Substances (Gnostic Pagan Sacraments) available to the Working Class because these chemicals & herbs have the revolutionary potentiality to open both the psychic & political eye—and reveal multidimensional levels of consciousness that deeply threatens the status quo. Marijuana is particularly abhorred because if "legalized" pot is an inexpensive relaxant, without the devastating health & sociological effects of alcohol. The discriminate use of pot could also replace a multitude of therapeutic drugs including anti-depressants, barbiturates & analgesics—minus their often-debilitating side effects.
[NOTE: DEEP SOCIALISM neither refutes or affirms the use of A.E.S.]
“Education” is another form of worker regimentation.
To develop a socialist education policy and system is impossible without
radically questioning the essential nature of education in capitalist society, and
the way it privileges symbolic knowledge for its own purposes. The “life-long learning”
vaunted by advocates of short-term “flexible” employment means, in reality, life-long dependency on academic concepts and vocational skills handed down from above; life-long educational value exploitation designed to serve the market exploitation of labour.
Few workers are spared the endless job seminars, required “learning credits” or forced “team player” encounter groups.
Regarding the Socialist alternative to this mind-numbing “education”, on P. 29 Wilberg states:
Socialist education is deep education with a…long-term value,
rather than purely symbolic education…Its aim is to develop what Marx
called a “human science of nature” and a “natural science of man”, one which
does not demand that children – or adults – devalue their living experience of the world
and surrender it to symbols that have no living relation to this experience and which does not
help them to articulate or learn from it…an education that encourages learners to explore their own human, bodily experience of natural phenomena and their own sensual bodily experience of human phenomena – of human relationships, qualities, values and ideas.
DEEP SOCIALISM continues with PART 2: MORAL EDUCATION OR RELATIONAL LEARNING?/The Dialectics of Value(s).
The concept of DIALECTICS is central to “orthodox” Marxism and Peter Wilberg’s Gnostic interpretation of Socialism. Dialectics is the philosophy of revolutionary transformation expressed in a semantic process of understanding how Premise A through interaction with Premise B leads to practical or scientific change represented in a new form, Premise C. According to Marxism, Premise A = Global Capitalism, Premise B = The Antagonistic Contradictions Inherent in Capitalism vs. The Majority of People On The Planet, the resulting Premise C is Social Revolution, the democratic transformation of Capitalist Society into Socialist Society. [Wilberg rejects the idea that the transformation will be based on the Leninist doctrine of the Vanguard Party. While we are not convinced the process can be achieved without a “world party of revolution” or a revitalized & democratic Socialist Internationale; Gnostics & The Social Revolution does reject the doctrine of “the dictatorship of the proletariat” as being, at the very least, misleading & open to political abuse.]
Wilberg’s philosophical innovation of Marxian Socialism is based on his Gnostic/spiritual perception that the social reality, based on “the Word” or semantics is a falsified version of deep or actual reality. This is a subtle point & crucial one. What this perspective does is to reveal the similarities & differences between positions that superficially—or even deeply—appear at total variance with each other. Wilberg calls this “simference.”
It’s been pretty well understood by many people that the majority of organized Marxist groupings tend to have rather severe communication & public relational problems owing to their dependency on “orthodox” Marxist terminology and by an outmoded, 19°, mechanistic world-view. A lot of it also has to do with collective over-compensation.
Many people are working to address this problem & to create a revitalized Marxist Philosophy of Economic Transformation for the 21°.
Peter Wilberg is one of them.
Wilberg establishes the basis for his examination of relational values in the opening article, “Individuality and the Market in Values”:
In cultures dominated by symbolic values, people value their individual qualities
and those of others only as an expression of shared values. They value others for doing it
“their” way, whether “their” way means “our” way or “my” way. People’s behaviour is seen
as either conforming to or defying the symbolic behaviour valued by that culture…For the truism that “we all need to be valued” only becomes true because people do not fully value their own individual qualities and way of doing things, but instead surrender them to the desire for symbolic value recognition and reward from others – for “success”.
Money is the medium of commercial exchange.
Language is the medium of communicative exchange.
Currencies are the languages of commercial exchange.
Languages are the currencies of “communicative exchange”.
When relationships operate merely at the level of communicative exchange,
people tend to devalue each other’s individual qualities if they are not offered for sale
in the right currency, do not conform to their own behavioural symbolism and language.
People confront each other like buyers willing to purchase each other’s goods,
but only if they are made to their own specifications and can be paid in their currency…
They do not value each other’s embodied qualities except as the embodied
reflection of their own…value system, they evaluate each other’s symbolic
behaviour, judging its conformity to their own.
Excerpts from “The Dialectical Principle of Simference”:
Though each person wants others to see through their own outward,
symbolic behaviour and “be valued for who they are”, their embodied qualities,
each looks to the other for a reflection of their own symbolic values – for what they are.
An intrinsic dependency on others for basic value recognition, the acknowledgement of their
self-worth, goes hand in hand with an inverted narcissism – a deficient self-esteem and self-love. People do not use each other as a mirror of themselves. They use each other as a mirror of the symbolic values in which they clothe themselves. They do not seek a reflection of their self-worth but of their symbolic worth.
This power and these qualities…do not lend themselves to expression through the
common currencies of religious, moral and business language. They are neither private
property nor common property, for they are relational qualities. They can be understood
dialectically, not as similarities or differences between people but as “similarities-in-difference” – simferences. Neither the traditional moral cliché that as human beings “we’re all the same underneath”, Nor the fashionable “post-modern” emphasis on the Difference and Otherness of others acknowledge the dialectics of simference in human relations.
The principle of simference explains why the fiercest rows often take place in couples,
families and communities with the strongest relationships and most intense bonds. It also
explains why religious and political organisations, despite their moral principles and symbolic
values, often split into warring factions which hate each other more than their joint opponents. So long as relationships, groups and organisations are formed only the basis of shared values, or of opposition to groups…with different values, they will…come up against the reality of simference – discovering ignored differences amongst themselves and ignored
similarities with their opponents.
Moral education based on shared symbolic value systems competes with a
shallow and inverted “individualism” based on freely selecting one’s own symbolic
values from the market place. “Do what we do” and “I’ll do what I want” are not…
contradictory moral positions. They are the twin expressions of the market economy.
“Do what we do” is the message of symbolic value consumers. It reads “Buy what we sell –
our goods are the only true Good.” “I’ll do what I want” is the message of symbolic value
consumers. It reads “I’ll buy what I want – and make a new good to sell to others.”
The bourgeois “crisis of moral values” is a haggle in values.
We quoted extensively from the text because its ramifications on the political, social & spirituals levels are so intensely relevant.
In other words, this creative process represents a modern day relationship of Gnosis-in-Action.
Clearly Wilberg’s work expands understanding of our selves.
As regards to Revolutionary Socialist Organizations, Wilberg’s concept of “simference” has proven true time and time again in the (at least to outsiders) bewildering “splits” and factions within those groups. Usually the “impolsions” “explosions” and demise of these organizations are blamed on “revisionism” “reformism” or other buzzwords meant to imply an anti-Marxist deceit. However, as Marx himself said (in effect) toward the end of his career, when confronted by the various manipulations by people claiming to be “disciples” (a term Marx would surely have abhorred) exploiting Communism into their own agendas—if this is what it’s come down to then, “I am no Marxist.”
Unfortunately the lack of insight by these supposed “revolutionaries” has only aided to prolong the reign of Corporate State Capitalism and its negative social ramifications.
In the chapter “The Fetishism of Moral Phraseology” Wilberg remarks:
Value fulfillment is not achieved by submerging oneself in a group or community
and identifying with its symbolic values or moral code. Nor is moral character developed
by isolating oneself from society and disidentifying (sic) from all symbolic values. It is realized through the capacity to appreciate the deep values underlying the cultural, verbal and behavioral symbolism of others, even though the latter may be a disguised or distorted
translation of the former.
On one level the above statement stands in contradiction to the traditional Gnostic intent of de-valuing societal values. According to Gnostic Philosophy, since society’s value reflect the lies of the Demiurge (Jehovah or the limited Ego), the values of society are false. Marxists agree in this contention to the extent that contemporary society mirrors the self-interest of the Bourgeois Oligarchy. However, Marxism insists that the Social Revolution take what’s best of capitalist society (after all, it was largely created by the working class from its onset) and integrate it into socialist society. From this perspective, the ideas expressed in DEEP SOCIALISM make perfect sense in the context of a Modern Gnostic Socialism.
As to the concepts of self-isolation or submergence in a group identity, from a recent historical perspective, these are problems that emerged primarily in the United States with the social reaction that set in with the collapse of the 1960’s idealism. Former or erstwhile social revolutionaries retreated back to "traditionalist" values and the oppressive structure of the nuclear family; or substituted political action with lifestylism (neo-paganism, Wicca, “grunge” etc.) and separatist movements (bourgeois feminism, black nationalism, etc.); or escaped into "hard" drugs, transcendentalism, religious cultism, orthodox religion etc. The Gnostic Pagan School is all too familiar with these potentialities and while this is not the place for a forum on the practice of earth-based ritualism, The School has always insisted on integrating individual belief & spiritual practice with collective social[ist] action.
From the section “Values, Genes and Multiculturalism”:
To talk about “individual values” or “social values”,
“Judaeo-Christian values” or “Muslim values”, “English values” or
“German values” is to imply that such values are the private property of individuals,
groups, ethnic cultures or nations…pluralism and multi-cultural diversity is…a form of
plural and multi-cultural apartheid in which each sub-culture exists only to cultivate its “own” values and protect them from contamination and domination by other value systems…it is not the free, federal association of regions and states that threatens international cultural diversity but global capitalism. It is the latter which leads to the global domination of a single culture of marketing in which all cultural traditions and values are either sacrificed to commercial values and the pursuit of profit or turned into tourist commodities…
[The Romanian entrepreneurial brainstorm of creating a tourist trap called “Dracula Land” in the heart of Transylvania couldn’t be a more perfectly ludicrous example of this statement.
On one hand Romanian nationalists are very touchy about the public persona of the medieval Prince Vlad Dracul (“Dracul” being an honorary title signifying “Order of the Dragon”), also known as Vlad the Impaler (so designated because of the Prince’s penchant for impaling people on stakes as his favorite form of execution); but on the other hand these capitalist wannabe’s are eager to sell the image of “Count Dracula” based on the real Vlad in a bizarre Walt Disneyesque version of Romania’s historic hero, all in a phantasmal scheme to make a $buck or a £euro or a ¥en.]
Continuing the critique of multiculturalism Wilberg writes:
From a socialist perspective, just as individuals can only grow by
relating to each other, so cultures and value systems only grow through an
interaction with other cultures and value systems in which each learns to value…the other.
The aim of socialism is to promote the fulfillment of all…values…through a global trans-culture, linked to the removal of all restrictions on migration and immigration – restrictions which stand in stark contrast to the freedom of movement of international capital and of trans-national corporations.
The economic objections to this ethical stand on immigration stem only from the limitations of the market economy itself. For, despite the much vaunted “globalisation” brought about by the trans-national corporations, it is the “free market” itself which, while allowing the free movement of goods, leads to the restrictions on the free movement of people. For it creates the global inequalities of wealth which lead to barriers being set up by wealthier nations.
In concluding the chapter, the author argues the primacy of individual value choice over the dogma of genetic determinism:
The activation and embodiment of our biological potentials,
even in terms of the way our bodies look and function at different ages and
stages of our lives, is not determined by our genes or environment, but is influenced
by our value choices. Just as each of us draws from an inherited gene pool, activating these genes only in combination with other genes, so each of us draws from an inherited value pool, embodying different values and combinations of values. We do this not only by combining different life roles and juggling different elements of our lives, but by enriching each role we take in life with qualities drawn from others. This natural potential for “manipulation” of our moral genes is what is symbolically materialised in gene technology.
“Dialogical Listening and ‘Communication’” emphasizes a theme central to Peter Wilburg’s interpretation of both Gnosticism and Socialism.
This embodied meaning may be symbolized in words,
but essentially it is communicated dialogically: through the word.
It derives not from what we say but from the way we say it, who we say it to
and the context in which we say it. Embodied meanings can be made explicit in the word,
for example in writing, only in so far as language itself is, for the speaker,
not a mere set of symbols but a flexible and expressive body of meaning.
The material meaning of a statement is also a relational meaning – the way it
communicates the real relationship of the speaker to the matter addressed.
Among other things this idea indicates why the “Master” “Disciple” pseudo-relationship is dialogically false. It takes (at least) two to dialogue; otherwise it’s a monologue.
Only dialogue is truly free speech. Only dialogical listening allows us to hear
the way in which the unquestioned use of restrictive or distorting language unconsciously
reproduces restricted or distorted relationships for people to each other and the world…This
deep speaking is itself essentially a listening speech, for it is the way we listen to others, rather than the way we respond to them in words, that…embodies our real relation to them and communicates through our words. Deep speaking is the symbolic expression of our deep listening relation to both language and people, word-things and worldly things.
Among the insights in “Psychoanalysis and the Myth of the Talking Cure” this:
American style emotional “honesty” and “sharing” are not the expression of “deep reverence” for human feelings. Instead, they substitute the symbolic expression of deep feelings instead of actually feeling them. Feeling joy is reduced to the joy in saying “I feel joy”; saying “I feel angry” or “I feel sad” becomes a way of not feeling that anger or sadness deeply. In this way, the rich music of human feeling is reduced to emotions that can be labeled with words such as “joy”, “anger” and “sadness”…At the same time a fetish is made of “non-verbal communication” in counseling and management training where the wordless feelings…are diminished to a linguistic code…
Not only is this true on the basic human day-to-day level, it is overtly expressed in the public voyeuristic/exhibitionistic “talk shows” like Ophra, Dr. Phil, etc., etc. These mass media spectacles are sold as “therapy” but make a mockery of such basic therapeutic principles as confidentiality and intimacy. They pretend to promote “healing” and that tired Americanism “closure” but what they really do is demean individual human value for ratings and commercialism. On a par with this are the “Reality Shows” in which the basest of human nature is exploited. Are people so bored with the drama in their own lives that they must avidly follow the idiotic “survival skills” of half-naked, back-stabbing yuppies?
The United States has become a nation of self-styled victims, addicted as much to “therapy” as to the over-prescribed medications of that big business industry. The Marxist view of psychological therapy is that it can be a powerful tool in the treatment for specific medical or extreme relational dysfunction, but not just another long-term social pastime. Capitalism has distorted psychiatry into a form of self-obsessed entertainment.
The concluding third section of DEEP SOCIALISM is PRINCIPLES and PRAXIS of SOCIALIST POLITICAL EDUCATION – Dialectical Thinking and Dialogical Ethics.
While much of Part 3 reiterates ideas presented in previous sections, there are also new insights.
Deep speaking consciously embodying our own relational qualities
and standpoints in our bodily demeanor and letting these communicate
through our words as well as in them. In particular, it means consciously embodying
qualities and relational standpoints that others devalue or value only symbolically. The best
way to help another person to embody qualities they undervalue in themselves, or to take stands they find difficult to embody, is not to argue for them in words or to impose them as behaviour but to model them ourselves in the way we relate to others.
In other words, “walk the talk.”
One belief is “If you don’t do what I do, you’re doing it wrong.”
The emotional message here is “If you don’t do what I do, you’re not valuing
me and my way of doing.” People want to be valued for who they are and the individual way
they do things, but they confuse this with its behavioural symbol – with what they are (their symbolic status) and what they do (their symbolic behaviour). Instead of valuing their own way of doing things and embodying it more fully in their relationships, they use relationships as a way of gaining symbolic recognition for what they are and what they do.
The second core belief is “If I do what you do, I won’t be able to do things my way.”
The emotional message here is “I fear that if I do what you do, I will lose my way and no longer be who I am.” People feel that the only way they can value who they are and “be themselves” is to value what they believe they are, and what they do as a result of these beliefs. They are “stuck in their ways” without really valuing what is unique about their way of doing things.
The song of capitalist culture is “I did it my way.” But why does this song need to be sung? We cannot do what others do without at the same time doing it our way, imbuing it with our own individual qualities. To learn from what other people do and how they do it…presents…no threat of losing our own way of doing things. And yet the moral conflict in capitalist society between “Doing your own thing” and doing what others do remains, hindering relational learning through the two core beliefs on which it rests.
From “Socialist Political Education and Organisation”:
The deep political transformation of economic relations and the deconstruction
of the market economy, nationally and internationally, can only come about on the basis of
an educational transformation of the human relations which the market symbolizes,
and which it in turn reproduces.
Socialist political education must be deep education as well as symbolic education,
“emotional” as well as “intellectual” education, cultivating embodied knowledge as well as
symbolic knowledge. But, if it’s not to degenerate into a cult or sub-culture worshipping its “own” values as symbols and opposing them to those of others, socialist political education can only mean relational education…It is not only what socialists do or say, but their commitment to embodying the principles of relational learning and teaching in their personal and in the workplace, the community and the home.
As mentioned at the beginning of this review, we are disappointed that DEEP SOCIALISM does not explore or analyze the central Marxist tenet of Class Struggle or Working Class Solidarity. It may well be that Peter Wilberg takes these as givens and so focuses instead on his excellent presentation of the need for socialism to express relational values. This is certainly the author’s prerogative—and we agree that the philosophy of DEEP SOCIALISM needs to be understood and incorporated into the individual lives of socialists and the international worker’s movement. This well reasoned philosophy should be an adjunct to, and not substitute for, worker’s solidarity & political activism. In these days of extreme social reaction in which “me, me, me” obstructs Union organizing focusing on the spiritual/psychological plane alone is not enough. As the economic situation deteriorates more workers will either lose their jobs, or their benefits & pay scales—or take to the picket lines. When they do take to the picket line, such an elementary principle of solidarity as PICKET LINES MEAN DON’T CROSS will be as important as personal deep relational change. In fact, when the majority of people not only honor, but join picket lines, there will be deep political change: Social Revolution.
However, if this Social Revolution is to represent Evolution, the fundamental concepts presented in DEEP SOCIALISM will be integral to that historic event.
We fully supports the goals listed below (Pgs. 74-75):
Deep Socialism: A Manifesto of Aims
1. A progressive elimination of all pay differentials, except those based on quality of work, on the basis that no person’s chosen form of labour is worth more than another’s. This is not the “politics of envy” but the economics of respect for the worth of each person’s labour and the deep values it embodies.
2. A progressive elimination of money and its replacement by labour quality-time-credits.
3. A progressive elimination of shareholdings, dividends and financial speculation.
4. A progressive elimination of “growth for growth’s” and “profit for profit’s” sake as aims of national and corporate economic planning, and its substitution with qualitative growth and deep profit maximisation – value fulfillment.
5. The progressive elimination of all environmentally damaging products and industries, and all military industries, products and “services”.
6. The progressive elimination of all marketing which cheapens deep human values by transforming them into commodities.
7. A progressive introduction of local, national and international economic planning with the aim of transforming the market economy into a money-less socialist economy based on equality of labour.
8. A progressive introduction or reintroduction of free health care, of free nursery, primary, secondary and tertiary education, and free vocational training.
9. A progressive introduction of deep industrial democracy, and a culture of cooperation and relational learning in
10. The development of new forms of health care which do not just provide profits for the health industry but instead acknowledge the symbolic and socio-somatic dimensions of health problems.
11. The promotion of the basic understanding that values and moral qualities are not the private property or monopoly of any individual, group, race, culture or religion, and that it is only by valuing other cultures and by learning from them that our own deep values are fulfilled.
12. The development of new forms of education, designed not just to provide the “labour market” with skills and abstract knowledge but to cultivate the deep embodied knowledge of both children and adults to promote relational learning – learning to value others and valuing what we learn from others.
SOCIALIST FORUM INDEX