2021: Ideological Campaigns, State Ideologies and Cultural Change

24 December, 2021

The shift from environmentalism to state ideology also means a transformation of science and its frameworks mediated by state policy objectives dictated by the needs of reviving capital accumulation.
The shift from environmentalism to state ideology also means a transformation of science and its frameworks mediated by state policy objectives dictated by the needs of reviving capital accumulation.

The transition of environmentalism into state ideology also means a transformation of science and its frameworks, mediated by the goals of state policies dictated by the need to revive the accumulation of capital.

During 2021 media campaigns, states and the drift of an increasingly angry and openly reactionary petty bourgeoisie have produced an unusual pressure through new and increasingly reactionary discourses on youth, protest, property, parenting or “vulnerability”. It has been the year of the rise to state ideology of environmentalism and the year in which the “gender pay gap” has become an official part of the statistical “dashboard”.

Table of Contents

In the midst of the slaughter… business first

 At the height of the third wave massacre, hoteliers in Lorca, Murcia, protest carrying crosses as a sign of mourning... for their businesses.
At the height of the third wave massacre, hoteliers in Lorca, Murcia, protest carrying crosses as a sign of mourning… for their businesses.

February 2021. One year after the outbreak of the pandemic, it was clear that we were facing a slaughter. On the basis of the previous year’s figures alone, it would have taken 6,600 years of terrorist attacks, 1,400 years of gender-based violence or 20 years of suicides to result in the same number of deaths. However, the differences between Europe or the USA and the few countries that had followed the “Covid Zero” strategy clearly showed that it was possible to contain the pandemic drastically if political measures were taken… even if they reduced corporate profits in the short term.

Read also: The pandemic and the working class: what we have learned so far, February 6.

How did the media respond during the worst moment of that wave? By handing over the news to the most desperate sectors of the petty bourgeoisie: the hoteliers. Faced with the attention given by the state, they protested all over Europe carrying out symbolic “burials”, carrying crosses and organizing parodies of mourning… for their businesses. The inhumanity is obscene. But there is no reproach from the state, only demands for solidarity.

The message asks us not to be selfish, to forget about our dead and sick and to worry about the threat of “death” that small capital would suffer if restrictions on leisure and hospitality were to be maintained. There is no shame. But then big capital is already really worried. It fears that the financial distress of the petty bourgeoisie could turn into a banking crisis. So the messages are explicit: it is necessary to “save the hotel and catering trade”… even at the cost of a few thousand more deaths.

Meanwhile, the neglect of neighborhoods and police violence are generating more and more violent situations from Linares to Germany, but the propagandists – who had been peddling the U.S. BLM – suddenly chose to turn a blind eye.

US police brutality and racism, whose criticism does not embarrass any existing power in Spain, is not the same as the same barbarism in a working class Andalusian city. Let no one expect the Spanish left to come out with a workers’ lives matter when 500 deaths a day seem perfectly acceptable to them in order to prevent more bars from dying.

From Linares to Mulhouse: the systematic destruction of neighborhood living conditions, February 7.

Shortly afterwards, in Spain, groups of youngsters protested against the condemnation of a rapper for justifying terrorism. The mobilizations turn into street battles against the police and are repeatedly held on several nights.

They fuel the idea of a pitched battle as a goal and a measure of the alleged “radicality” of a protest. With detractors and defenders operating under a common ideological universe, the debate is poisoned from the start and only serves to divert attention from the carnage, derailing in the process the frustration of a few young people into a dangerous ritualized ballet of beatings, fires and chases with the riot police.

These are the first steps of a new ideology about youth that the ideologues would rehearse for the rest of the year: a mixture of infantilizing condescension and comments on a supposedly natural “inability to control themselves” that would somehow characterize young people.

At the time – when hundreds of people were still dying every day – it was just another argument against the “dangerousness” of imposing restrictions and lockdown. But it points to a desire for cultural change in a society in which it is increasingly clear that young people are not living an extended youth, but rather see their personal development flattened by a forced and increasingly long-lasting dependence. They are, as the official propaganda will say, “vulnerable”.

Building compliance through “vulnerability”.«vulnerabilidad»

From the ethics of care to the politics of caregivers and the vulnerable.
From the ethics of care to the politics of caregivers and the vulnerable.

The main goal of all these campaigns was, over and over again, to build conformity, to normalize the pandemic and the carnage it was producing in order to keep everyone working and consuming, “business as usual” so that investments would not suffer and the “recovery” would go on.

The famous balance to be struck between the “health of the economy” and the “health of the people” became undisputed dogma. Only ironic criticisms – few and far between – will appear in the brief window of opportunity opening up after the triumph of the Democratic Party in the United States. The dominant trend goes the other way: the discourse of “pandemic fatigue”.

Actually, pandemic fatigue is nothing more than demoralization. And as in any social problem, the individualistic approach is not the way out, but the way to lock oneself into the problem. Any social problem can only generate impotence -and in the medium term demoralization- if we pretend that it can be faced by the individual. The false alternative offered by psychology, to accept our impotence as individuals without getting out of it, to conform without seeking a collective path to transform reality, is no less destructive than denying the problems and pretending that they do not exist.

Pandemic Fatigue: A Communist Perspective, February 8th

The individualizing discourse of “pandemic fatigue” is as demoralizing as it is commodifying and acts as the true fleet carrier of an ideological offensive of even greater depth that begins with the sale of supposedly scientifically based “wellness”. Obviously its basis is nothing but conformity incorporated into a marketable product. But it opens the door to a whole new ideological universe: that of “vulnerability” and “care” with which the left is redefining itself throughout Europe on the basis of feminism, the new state ideology.

Ethics of care, as it moves from slogan to public policy, generates its own categories. These are far from innocent. The shift from the state as guarantor of certain minimum conditions of exploitation – health, training, infrastructure, freedoms – to the state as caregiver means conceiving state policy on the basis of the division of society into two new groups: caregivers and the vulnerable.

The pandemic has served as the debut of these categories in Spain. It is not just a marketing and linguistic bias. It’s not just Peronist leftovers of the kind that Errejón, Iglesias and Sánchez like so much, nor the caretaker epic of a social shield that turned out to be made of cardboard. Turning workers, precarized en masse by the temporary layoffs and unemployment, into vulnerables expels half of the population as a conscious and active part of society… at the same time reconverting their undertakers into protectors-caretakers.

Redefining ourselves as vulnerable, as a part of the social body paralyzed by the disease of the crisis and the pandemic, ethics of care focuses any claim we make on the need to be cared for by others, by self-appointed doctors of the social and mothers of the vulnerable.

Against the so-called ethics of care, May 4th

The new state ideologies and the acceleration of cultural decadence.

Demonstration in Paris against the Covid Passport and the compulsory vaccination of health workers and other groups in contact with particularly vulnerable people.
Demonstration in Paris against the Covid Passport and the compulsory vaccination of health workers and other groups in contact with particularly vulnerable people.

A powerful ideological strategy is growing, which tries to capitalize on the demoralization that is fueling the pandemic in a context of absence of mass struggles in Europe and the USA. But it cannot help but reflect the collapse of US culture accelerated by the effect of racialism and feminism.

From France came the first warning in Europe, the “return of the witches”, the emergence of an irrationalist and superstitious feminism that vindicates pseudo-sciences and contributes to the anti-vaccine movement…

While feminism itself is neither anti-Medicine nor anti-vaccine, when mythology takes precedence over scientific knowledge it actually undermines the latter. And in this field, from the affirmation of women as historical subjects with a history of their own over and above class -which is the defining feature of all feminisms- to the engineered creation of tailor-made mythologies -from witches to “The Handmaid’s Tale”- the sapping work of feminism is brutal.

Its contribution to the convergence from which the movement against the Covid Passport now emerges, and what it means historically, is readily apparent.

The “Covid Passport” and the return of the “witches,” August 1

This is because feminism had few defenses against the “antivax” campaign capitalized by the Bannonite far right, after decades of basing their abortion advocacy on the “my body, my choice” morality of mercantilist atomization.

Ever since the abortion debate entered the US political agenda during the 19th century, feminism has sought to reduce it to the assertion of an abstract individual right disconnected from its social and class implications. Hence the centrality that “my body, my choice” continues to have for this ideology. Its greatest success is to have made indistinguishable for the vast majority its own brutally individualistic and commodifying morality from resistance to one of the many daily barbarities of the state.

To confront anti-abortion legislation, workers need never either affirm the pregnant woman’s ownership of the fetus, or deny the existence of the fetus, much less turn the pregnant woman into an abstract, isolated woman whose reproductive decisions would have no community or social consequences, effectively rendering invisible the personal cost she might suffer.

Vaccines: “My body, my choice”?, November 29th

The role of feminism in cultural change is as evident as it is dehumanizing. It acts as an accelerator in an increasing number of areas: parenting styles and education, the commodification and atomization of personal relationships, and even the invisibilization of suicide and the degradation of mental health among workers.

But its ultimate goal is in the workplace, dividing workforces in two and uniting female workers with female bosses and owners as its star concept does: the “gender pay gap”.

Something in which the new state ideology consecrated this year, environmentalism, cannot even compare. But in the end, its function is different. If it is elevated to the altars of the industry of opinion and culture creation, it is because in order to brutally accelerate the Green Deal, as the EU has promised and Biden would like, they need to tighten both moral coercion and ideological bombardment.

Anything goes: even the implementation of dystopian dietary policies to provide cover for the green recapitalization of livestock farming.

We are facing a change in the general discourse, endorsed by some scientists and promoted by sectors of the ruling classes who want to accelerate the Green Deal. The goal is to make it peremptory and to generate acceptance, even passive or defeatist, in the face of the impoverishment it means. […]

The self-consciousness of capital about the antagonism between universal human needs and its own profitability renders “inevitable” -within the system- the massive and brutal impoverishment of the workers… and the pure and simple destruction of Nature. This is true. But the important expression in the formulation that they themselves recognize is “within the system”. Going beyond it opens a whole world of freedom, abundance and common metabolism with Nature.

Environmentalism as a new state ideology, Dec. 3

An unusual ideological bombardment… with long-term consequences.

Degeneration of written language

2021 has been a year with such an intensity and diversity of ideological campaigns that the traditional bombardment of the reactionary “Olympic spirit” has passed almost unnoticed and the great global ideological offensive we suffered in 2019 seems now a mere trial balloon.

These are not mere propaganda displays. In a capitalism in which the growth of capital is increasingly antagonistic to human development, ideological campaigns are not simply ad hoc reinforcements of the starvation and warmongering policies that capital demands. They have long-term consequences, that is, they are creators of a culture which reinforces the inhumanity of the system by projecting its logic onto a thousand everyday spheres of life.

The latest massive studies on the use of language point out that, during the last decades, ideological campaigns have worked in their eagerness to promote “a marked shift in public interest from the collective to the individual, and from rationality to emotion”. Other earlier studies showed a society that over the last century has become increasingly “depressive” and denialist of human beings and their capabilities… except during periods of great workers’ struggles.

What this study teaches us about the proliferation of all these pathological speech patterns, about the degeneration of language in fact, is that even the published language, that of the ruling class, becomes corrupted in a society denied human development by capitalism.

But it also points to something especially important: when workers’ struggles assert themselves with sufficient scale and global breadth, the mood of the entire society changes, a future is envisioned possible even by those with capacity and access to publishing houses, and even the linguistic register, which is nothing other than the moral register of society, begins to regenerate.

The degeneration of written language, August 2nd

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