One of the marvels of capitalism is its ability to co-opt ostensible critics into its systematic, ceaseless and altogether unstoppable campaign of disinformation. The fundamentally reactionary and elitist concept of cognitive dissonance ­employed by liberal elites to explain their political failures, but ironically an accurate statement of their own traumatised socio-political confusion ­doesn’t begin to explain an ideology that absorbs all who oppose it and turn their energies to its own ends, creating justifications out of analyses, apologia out of critiques and reluctant endorsements out of angry attacks.

Thus, Rundle’s observations (Crikey, Monday Item 13), purportedly from the point of view of a sceptical anti-capitalist determined to reveal the fundamental flaws of “the system”, in fact merely serve to bolster the very ideology he’s attacking.

This isn’t to bag the bloke. Many of the world’s finest minds have similarly succumbed to capitalism’s logic-centric narrative that blocks subversion by making it literally unthinkable. It’s impossible to properly critique democratic capitalist ideology without making ­ as a handful of us have ­ a liberating leap of perspective to see it as a patriarchal, imperialist, racist system of exploitation. The notion that there is a distinction between corruption and so-called democratic capitalism merely reinforces the system. Capitalism is not merely prone to corruption, or founded on corruption: it IS corruption. Capitalism is the exploitation of political, economic, racial and sexual power for personal gain. Rundle is thus positing a false contradistinction.

The extent to which Rundle is playing the capitalists’ game is given away in his statements about Africa which, he says, exemplifies dysfunctional corruption. This is fundamentally an imperialist statement, in fact, in an important sense, genocidal. “Corruption” is one of the few survival tools permitted by capitalism to those it represses, whilst at the same time justifying and explaining that repression. A perfect, self-reinforcing ideology.

In many ways, free-market authoritarianism provides a positive contrast to liberal capitalism. There is no hypocrisy in China or Russia. Their repression is refreshingly open and physical, whereas capitalism demands intellectual submission as well as physical and economic subservience. In many ways, the slavery of the labour camp and the brutality of the gaol are preferable to the brainwashing of the margarine ad. I know I’d rather have my organs harvested than have to endure more propaganda for iPhones.

Rundle concludes by anticipating that terrorism will prompt the west “to effectively enter a post-democratic, post-liberal era.” Only a propagandist for capitalism would seriously maintain that we currently exist in any sort of democracy. We don’t need a so-called “dirty bomb” (even the term itself, with its suggestions of lack of hygiene, is basically racist, drawing on reactionary notions of whites/purity versus people of colour/evil) to plunge us into tyranny. We have never been free, and certainly never under the capitalism that Rundle, much as he may think otherwise, is so stoutly defending. — as told to Bernard Keane.

Peter Fray

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