Wednesday, November 9, 2011

The Game Against The Game

   (from The Revolutionary's Handbook)

The Word Capitalist

When you use the word Capitalist as something bad, do you realize what you are doing?

The Capitalist you mean is really an anti-Capitalist.

In Capitalism, there develops a war of those who risk money for profit against those who want to stop everyone else from doing just that so they can make profit without risk.

The word Capitalism describes something good, the beginning of a game, and it describes something bad, how the game inevitably changes unless a deliberate effort is made to stop it. In fact, there are two ways of playing the game of capitalism: the game as it is played when it begins, and then the game against the game. Which is, again,

A war of those who risk money for profit against those who want to stop everyone else from doing just that so they can make profit without risk.

Investment at risk is also what we do when we learn, develop our skills, come to love others. We put in our time and effort to get something we are not sure of getting. Capitalism is doing this with money. Philosophy, friendship, religion, is doing it with thinking, meeting, love. In each of these cases we have something to gain and something to lose.

Capitalist, The Person

What is the type of person who would like to invest to make profit without risk by taking away the chance of others to invest and make profit with risk? Who are the players of the game against the game?

This is all we know about them:

1. They intend to take away from others the chance to invest their time and effort to make something for themselves.
2. They don't want to take risks.

So what do they do?

1. They don't risk their "social capital". In their business and personal lives they do not risk testing their true ideas, likings, beliefs. They control the social market as they control markets of products. How do they do this?

2. In business the main tools of control are monopoly and rule breaking: bribery, corruption, etc. What are the correspondences in public manners?

3. To control a market you buy up the competition. A corporate executive has to offer himself up to business entirely, be without his own individual and possibly competing interests. He has to, as we say, sell out. He has to hold to one set of acceptable manners, exclude all others. He is a hypocrite: he says he likes what he doesn't. He flatters. There is no other way for him to participate in the monopoly of acceptable behavior.

4. Not only has he to show that he has sold himself out, he also must show that he cares no more about other people than he does for himself. He must show that he will sell out others too, that is, sell their chance to invest at risk. He will show in his manners he has no objection to this rule breaking, to taking away from others the opportunity to profit from investment.

5. What does this look like? A clear, proven commitment to playing the game against the game, to winning at any cost, to breaking any rule if it can be done successfully. This expressed most clearly by having no life outside the game, the absence of love and joy, but an abundance of imitation of them in the distractions of the part of their lives they consider private.

When the game is played for purposes outside itself, played for life, the rules must be respected: the rules are the experimental conditions. The experiment is to decide whether we should take this kind of risk. Every true game player needs this knowledge. If you change the rules at will, no experiment is conducted, no information is gained, nothing accomplished; the investment, the risk cannot be determined to be good or bad. We don't know if the government is good, except when it shows itself a well functioning machine, proving by its consistent mechanism that it is doing the job it was built for.

When you play the economic game, not for itself, but as part of making a good life for yourself, you know that you may change the game if it does nothing for you, and that while you play you have to play by the rules.

But the Capitalist against Capitalism wants to play against the game, keep in the game and break the rules. And he wants this because the game has no end other than itself. It doesn't teach, do anything in itself for this player. It is only what it is, and for this reason the rules will always be broken by them. The game produces within itself the product they want, and it is not information they want, it is money and power.

1. If the game has no purpose, is not for anything outside itself, then the destruction of the game and its rules is not important.

2. People who play the game as all there is will always break the rules of the game in order to win. They have no other way to play.

3. We humans are subject to this fault, this sickness of attaching ourselves to games as ends in themselves and forgetting the reason we play the games. As long as this is true of us, then Capitalism will always lead to anti-Capitalism, players of the game will always evolve into players against the game.

An Illustration From Political History

In Hungary, at the end of the second world war, there were three players: The Nazis, the Hungarian Government, and the Jewish leaders.

The Germans played for glory, the Hungarians played to recover parts of lost empire and hold onto what was left, the Jews played for survival.

On each team leaders gave up the end for which the nation played the game to reap rewards for themselves that could be had within the game. Each side cheated.

The Nazis knew they had lost the war. Nevertheless they wanted to succeed in at least one thing, killing all the Jews, and they concentrated on this. The game could deliver this product, but it meant the deaths of hundreds of thousand of the German people as well.

The Hungarians, the Nazis a threat from one direction, a Russian invading army threatening on the other, wanted to keep in power as long as possible, keep open the possibility of recovery of part of their empire, and did this at the cost of betrayal of their own principles and of course the lives of the nation's Jewish citizens.

And the Jews, who after decades of playing the game of negotiation with their oppressors, negotiated the safety of a single thousand of themselves and allowed 100,000 to go unaware to their deaths, cheating their own people, just like the Germans, just like the Hungarian leaders cheated their people.

Hannah Arendt explained this with the phrase "banality of evil". The evil on display was not one kind of character against another, but of human character destroying itself and leaving nothing behind, only a blankness, hollowness, dullness.

The evil are the players of the game who play against the game.

Their banality, dullness, blankness reflects the fact that their game against the game has no reality on its own. This becomes obvious once the excitement of violent play is over. Against the background of reality, most importantly against the background of the destruction wrought by the players against the game, playing the game for itself is seen to be without meaning.

Feel Comfortable With Having Enemies

We don't want to assign people into groups and then condemn them for being in the group. We don't want that done to ourselves.

Let's be clear about this: there is some truth to there being guilt by mere belonging to a group. It is not guilt for any crime personally committed, or supported, condoned, or omitted response to. It's about habits, and whether someone has acquired in his own self, his character the habits of the group which lead to the committing of crime.

This kind of guilt is not about the past but about the future, is about what someone is likely to do.

We have the right to assign this prospective guilt. Not to punish crime in advance. Only to keep people with habits associated with crime out of political positions where they likely will commit that crime. This is simple self defense, an absolute necessity.

The Capitalists against Capitalism, the financiers, bankers, corporate executives, and every politician who went into business with them by taking their money, has this kind of prospective guilt. It is a result of their education and practice. Get comfortable with saying that you cannot allow them to run your government. Know what you mean when you say they are guilty as a class for the crimes committed by their class. It is a question of life or death.

Remember, your enemies will appear banal. Be careful.

They will ask you to make demands. They will get you to waste your strength in fighting them in their game against the game.

They will shift attention from the fact that the game is no longer serving any good purpose.

They will ask you to compromise, to wait for the institutions and procedures to act on your requests. They will drown you in the game.

Don't let them. Play your game. Play to learn, play to create. Make your jokes. Use your wits. Keep your joy. Play with your public, play for your public. Play your game, but not only for the game and not against the game.