Wednesday, September 30, 2009

A dark mind

I have an evil, corrosive mind. A friend of mine gave me a book she cherished from childhood - a German kids book by Michael Ende (author Neverending story) called Momo.

Now, this book is excellently written, and wonderful and imaginative. I centres on a sinister group of Time bankers stealing everyone's time and making their lives miserable - the perfect anti-capitalist story, you'd think.

I enjoyed it; but my problem came afterwards. See, the happy ending basically centred on the genocide of the grey men - wiped out to the last one, sent screaming in terror to try and avoid their fate. This was more than a little disturbing. See, the novel is a classic paranoid fantasy - a mysterious group who move among us unseen, who manipulate us, who weave elaborate conspiracies around us (they attack the central character, Momo, through her friends, "turning" them against her). The sly Others are watching us, and they are stealing something precious from us, our jouissance, our time.

Mercifully, the Grey Men are bowler hat wearing cigar smoking bankers, without anything remotely to suggest Jewishness or to connect to the very similar anti-semitic theories (the connexion is in the structure of the paranoid fantasy which is affixed to the Jews in some instances). The exterminationist response is, also, similar - the grey men are rootless and have no real substance, and so may be freely destroyed to save us all.

This is the anti-capitalism of fools - or the anti-capitalism of children - the belief that rather than transforming the world, if it was just freed from the presence of the despoilers, all will be well. Similarly, George Monbiot falls into this trap in his current call for class war a tirade against the rich as polluters.

The point is, that the world as is, freed from the current rich, from the present Grey Men will be alright is flawed. Revolution is more complex that a childish wish for the bad things to just go away, for the hated enemy to stop robbing you, it's about self transformation, and changing the way you are to stop being in the position of victim.

We will have no need for a terror, to exterminate our enemies, that is what is so liberating about socialism. And I'm glad that reading against the grain opened that up for me.

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