The subjectless rule of capital
By Tomasz Konicz
[This article posted on Oct. 2, 2022 is translated from the German on the Internet, https://www.konicz.info/2022/10/02/die-subjektlose-herrschaft-des-kapitals-2/.]
Who is to blame for the increasing contradictions and dislocations of late capitalist societies – and what can be done about it?
Who rules in capitalism? The first glance seems to confirm what is mostly the basic component of leftist theoretical efforts or ideology: It is the class of capitalists, the owners of the means of production, who seem to hold the strings of power in their hands – and thus are responsible for the current state of the capitalist world system.
This conclusion also seems justified at first in view of the absurd social division between rich and poor, between the mass of wage earners and the “Happy Few” of the billionaire caste, which has been forced further and further by the neoliberal economic and financial policies of the past decades.
The data on the ever-widening gap between rich and poor only seem bizarre: by now, the 26 richest billionaires own assets with a nominal value equivalent to the belongings of the poorer half of the world’s population – that’s about 3.8 billion people. In the USA, it is the wealthiest 20 super-rich whose assets are equivalent to the belongings of the impoverished half of the population.
In the Federal Republic, on the other hand, the ratio between billionaires and the destitute is 45 to 41 million. 45 Mega-rich capitalists own just as much as the lower half of the population, and the income divide in the Federal Republic is now even more pronounced than in the United States.
This division of late capitalist societies, together with the emergence of a largely segregated caste of billionaires, has been accompanied by an intensified, increasingly open assertion of the interests of the capitalist class. This successful lobbying was reflected not least in the financial and tax policies of recent decades, which almost exclusively favored the super-rich and large corporations.
U.S. billionaires such as the notorious Koch brothers finance a veritable political machine that puts their reactionary interests into law in Washington. In the meantime, it is debated whether the USA has not degenerated into an oligarchy dominated by a few billionaires.
In Germany, on the other hand, the BMW billionaires from the notorious Quandt clan make direct donations to the CDU before the federal government once again undermines CO2 limits in favor of the German auto industry. Added to this – with the rise of the New Right – is the direct funding of right-wing extremists and right-wing populists by billionaires, as in the case of US President Trump and the German AfD.
The same applies to policy inaction in the face of the escalating climate crisis. The relevant lobby groups of the fossil capitalist economy have successfully torpedoed any serious action to combat the greenhouse effect for decades with millions of dollars – both in the U.S. and in Germany.
Capitalists, Class Struggle and Crisis
Given this informal power structure of the capitalist class, which can effortlessly cast its economic interests into legal form through its lobbying machines, the causes of the current crisis seem clear, especially to the left: It is the increasing socioeconomic division of society caused precisely by the apparently behind-the-scenes ruling class of billionaires, the capitalists. The boundless greed or insatiable hunger for power of the capitalist class led capitalism into crisis.
It seems to be similar with the ecological crisis: The greed of the corporate bosses of the oil and car industries, their influence on politics, seems to be responsible for the fact that climate change, despite all the Sunday speeches, continues to be fueled by constantly rising CO2 emissions.
The economic stagnation, the decades-long social decline of large parts of the population in the centers of the capitalist world system, they appear to be a consequence of the politics of the class of the super-rich, who are waging a real class war against the working population, as for example the billionaire speculator Warren Buffet put it:
“There’s class warfare, all right, … but it’s my class, the rich class, that’s making war, and we’re winning.”
Usually, the beginning of this “class warfare” is located in the neoliberal turn of the 1980s, which – after the bloody prelude in 1973 in Chile – was first enforced in the USA and in Great Britain by Ronald Reagan and Margret (“There is no such thing as society”) Thatcher.
Meanwhile, the bouts of destitution following the bursting of the housing bubbles in 2008, which devastated the U.S. middle class, for example, also contributed to the formation of a strong, class-struggle left. The agitation against minorities, which the New Right pushed after the crisis surge in 2008, is countered by the left in the U.S. and Great Britain with the option of class struggle, in which the class war waged by the super-rich would now be answered consciously – by means of political mobilization – by those at the “bottom,” by wage earners. The climate crisis, in turn, is to be overcome by a massive Keynesian investment program, by the Green New Deal.
A wrong approach and a wrong premise
Politicians such as Bernie Sanders and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez thus argue for a redistribution from top to bottom, for a strict taxation of large fortunes, and for a curtailment of the informal political power of the super-rich in order to lead capitalism out of its ecological and economic crisis by means of large investment programs. In view of this renaissance of a left class struggle, which has now also taken hold of the German left, a progressive counterweight to the reactionary wave of the New Right thus seems to be forming.
And yet this approach to explaining the crisis, which remains in the dichotomy of proletariat and bourgeoisie, is a distorted consciousness that is ultimately not radical enough to adequately grasp the crisis process. The crisis is more than the sum of the class struggle escalating as a result of the crisis. The premise inherent in old left class struggle thinking, according to which there is a group of people who consciously control social reproduction, is false.
The reality of capitalist crisis unfolding is far more frightening than any specter of an all-powerful reign of super-rich general villains operating behind the scenes of the political establishment – however repulsive and reprehensible the individual egomaniacal actors in these exclusive circles may act.
Fetishism: The Self-Movement of Capital
Despite all the actual conspiracies: There is no one behind the curtain who is pulling the strings in the last instance, who is somehow “controlling” the course of events of the capitalist system. Humanity under capital is the object of an independent, contradictory dynamic, which it produces unconsciously, mediated by the market. This process of capital’s self-movement, known as fetishism, is constituted “behind the backs of the producers,” as Karl Marx famously noted.
Generally speaking, capitalism as a fetishistic social formation is thus characterized by the fact that here “the process of production masters men, man does not yet master the process of production,” according to Karl Marx in his main work “Das Kapital.” The fetishistic forms of exploitation of capital, which are independent of the subjects, “are regarded by their bourgeois consciousness” as a “self-evident natural necessity”.
This fetishism pervades all aggregate states that capital passes through in its self-movement, its cycle of exploitation, in which more money is created from money by means of commodity production and the exploitation of wage labor (G-W-G): Commodity, Money, Labor.
In the labor process, for example, the wage-dependent market participant (“proletarian”) becomes “variable capital,” the only commodity to be acquired by capital on the labor market, which can create more value through its ability to work than it is itself worth. Labor is “external” to the worker, who therefore “feels himself only outside of labor with himself and in labor outside of himself,” as Marx put it in the Economic-Philosophical Manuscripts.
This being at the mercy of an external labor process, over whose goal and course the worker has no control, in which his alienation is a moment of the fetishistic exploitation movement of capital, leads to the formation of the well-known, omnipresent feeling of alienation in capitalism. This “forced” labor under capital no longer serves the direct “satisfaction of a need, but is only a means of satisfying needs apart from it,” Marx continues. Its strangeness emerges “purely in the fact that, as soon as no physical or other compulsion exists, labor is fled as a pestilence. External labor, the labor in which man divests himself, is a labor of self-sacrifice, of mortification.”
Similarly powerless seem the market subjects, isolated from each other by the compulsion of competition, who enter only market-mediated into the exchange of commodities, to face commodity fetishism. The social character of their own labor is reflected to the commodity producers as a representational character of their labor products, Marx explained in the famous fetish chapter of his main work “Das Kapital”.
The social commodity property of having value (the quantum of necessary social labor time expended in its production process), produced in the context of the movement of valorization, appears as a natural property of these things. The individual commodity seems to be endowed with its property of having value in the same way as its other physical properties. Since this socially constituted “object of value” of the commodity appears only in the exchange of commodities on the market, it seems to the isolated producers as if it were a matter of a “social relation of objects existing apart from them.”
The things thus “become independent” in the market-mediated way vis-à-vis the market subjects, who literally work them out themselves and offer them for sale in commodity form on the very markets – animated by the overall social compulsion of capital to exploit. This independence of capital is particularly evident in the financial markets, where fetishism manifests itself in the abstract form of money – and forms the most important driving force for reactionary crisis ideologies, including the anti-Semitic delusion.
Especially in times of crisis, when once again a “market quake” or burst financial bubbles threaten the stability of the entire economic system – as most recently in 2008 – it becomes evident that even the capitalist class is by no means “in control” of this fetishistic and destructive dynamic of capital, that the crisis-like course of events in capitalism is by no means controlled by a conspiracy.
Thus, the fetishistic reality in capitalism is actually scarier than the worst conspiracy ideology. The whole real world, man as well as nature, are only transit stages of a blindly litigating accumulation process of abstract wealth, ultimately abstract quanta of spent, “dead” human labor. The whole late capitalist horror consists precisely in the fact that there is no one at the wheel of the exploitation train that is constantly speeding towards the abyss.
Society, however, is a necessary appendage of the real-abstract valorization movement of capital running amok, since capital can only be valorized through wage labor and the firing of resources in commodity production. In the end, social existence has only that which is necessary and financeable within the framework of this blind cycle of capital multiplication: that is, only that which directly or indirectly amounts to the proliferation of capital.
This applies not only to the category of “jobs” in the economy, but also to the state apparatus in its function as “ideal total capitalist” (Marx) or even to cultural production, which has to contribute to the optimization of location within the framework of neoliberal marketing strategies – social existence under capital is always subject to its “financing”. On the overall social, global level, capital thus acts as an “automatic subject” of boundless, tautological self-multiplication.
The concrete world is thus only “material” of this independent, real-abstract self-movement of capital, which in the boundless growth mania deprives mankind of its social and ecological basis of existence. The global surplus value machine of capital thus burns up the world in order to maintain the irrational end in itself of boundless capital growth as long as possible. A growing, economically “superfluous” humanity in the periphery, an escalating ecological crisis are the consequences of this self-movement of capital.
In a reversal of the old romanticism of progress, the image of a constantly accelerating train speeding towards an abyss, of a machine out of control, driven by the self-movement of capital, which is produced by the market participants unconsciously, mediated by competition and the market. The transformative act necessary for survival is to find and apply the emergency brake, as Walter Benjamin already noted.
Social structures unconsciously produced by human beings that objectify themselves vis-à-vis individuals; social dynamics that become independent vis-à-vis the subjects that produce them – this absurd form of social reproduction that characterizes the “prehistory of humanity” is brought to the concept of fetishism.
Thus, the people of “enlightened” bourgeois society are nothing but sinister fetish servants. Rule in capitalism is thus in the last instance subjectless, as the crisis theorist Robert Kurz elaborated in his text “Subjectless Rule”; the capital relation rules as a fetishistic real abstraction.
According to Kurz, the inner essence of the capital relation is not absorbed in the disdainful rapacity of all the capitalist philanderers who were able to increase their (largely fictitious) wealth to obscene levels during the neoliberal decades:
“Their “individual purposes” are not what they seem to be; they are not, according to their form, individual, self-imposed purposes, and that is why the content is also perverted and results in self-destruction. The essence is not that the individuals use each other reciprocally for their individual purposes, but that, in appearing to do so, they execute upon themselves an entirely different, supra-individual, subjectless purpose: the self-movement (utilization) of money.”
Accordingly, the subjective, “managerial” exploitation interests of the capitalists form the external appearance that conceals the fetishistic essence of the irrational, subjectless domination of the capital relation on a “macroeconomic” level. Generally speaking, capital can only be understood as a social totality; attempts to project the relations of reproduction of individual capitals (enterprises, corporations) onto the system as a whole ultimately end up in ideology.
The question of guilt and responsibility in capitalism
As soon as people act as subjects in capital’s circle of exploitation, they become character masks (Marx) of their respective position in the process of accumulation – whether as assembly line workers, managers, salespeople or service providers is irrelevant in this respect. They are no longer “with themselves”, but they act as the personification of their respective economic function (this, after all, forms the basis of the aforementioned feelings of alienation).
Marx, for example, refers to the capitalist in his function as a character mask as “personified capital endowed with will and consciousness,” which functions as the “point of departure and point of return” of the self-purpose of the immoderate circulation of capital. The “objective content of that circulation – the utilization of value – is its subjective purpose,” according to Marx in his major work, Das Kapital.
What emerges here is the absurd position of the market subject within the automatism of capital valorization. On the one hand, capital as an automatic subject turns people into objects of its valorization movement, into things, into commodities traded on the labor market – and who have to adapt to this mediated form of subjectless domination like a man-made law of nature with an underlying feeling of powerlessness.
At the same time, the only chance to still live out a stale imitation of subjectivity consists in the fact that one, as said economic character mask, cooperates in perfecting this automatism of boundless capital utilization “subjectively” – and in doing so, in turn, degrades “the others” to objects and “makes them equal to things”.Within the only too real fetishism that the automatic subject perpetuates, the inmates of the capitalist treadmill are always both at the same time: subject of accumulation and its powerless object.
All character masks as personifications of their respective economic function consequently function as subject-objects of the self-dependent exploitation movement, which they themselves perpetuate, whereby the concrete relationship between these two poles depends on the concrete hierarchical position in the reproduction process of capital. And it is precisely this hierarchical position of the subjects within the automatism of capital valorization that must also be taken into account in the question of the category of guilt, of personal responsibility. For, of course, the fetishism of capital does not absolve the actors who execute it.
The other extreme to manic scapegoating, after all, is represented by impotent systems thinking, in which the current actors in business and politics are exculpated. In this view, it seems as if those responsible can no longer be identified due to system constraints and objective structural laws. The concrete perpetrators disappear behind the destructive rule of the automatic subject of capital’s collapsing dynamic of exploitation.
That the fetishism of capitalist society, where the market-mediated actions of market subjects confront them as an alien, quasi-objective force, by no means leads to an exculpation of the acts of the perpetrators, was already pointed out by crisis theorist Robert Kurz at the beginning of the 21st century:
“If now the common form connection of abstract labor, commodity form, citizenship, etc., moves into the field of vision of critique, where is the accountability? Can one make a blind structural connection, can one make the automatic subject responsible for anything, even if it is the greatest crime? And conversely, if capitalist barbarism is ultimately inherent in the mute constraints of competition, etc., are not the barbaric acts of the ugly managers, the dirty politicians, the bureaucratic crisis administrators, the bloody butchers of the state of emergency somehow excused because always conditioned and actually caused by the subjectless structural laws of “second nature”?
Such an argument forgets that the notion of the automatic subject is a paradoxical metaphor for a paradoxical social relation. The automatic subject is not a distinctive entity squatting out there somewhere for itself, but it is the social spell under which people subject their own actions to the automatism of capitalized money.
But those who act are always the individuals themselves. Competition, artificially generated struggle for survival, crises etc. drive out the potency of barbarism, but practically this barbarism must be executed by the acting people, thus also through their consciousness. And therefore the individuals are also subjectively responsible for their actions, the ugly manager and the dirty politician as well as on the other hand the racist unemployed and the anti-Semitic single mother.
The immense fear and threat potential of this society has to be dealt with on a daily basis, and every moment individuals make decisions in the process that are never completely without alternatives – neither on a daily small scale nor on a socio-historical large scale. Nobody is just a will-less puppet, but all have to act out the hair-raising contradictions, the fears and sufferings of this spell themselves.
Therefore, it is no absurdity to direct the necessary social critique to the level of socially overarching structures, to abstract labor and the automatic subject, but nevertheless to hold the acting individuals responsible for their actions, even if their social character mask suggests to them a state of insanity.”
Robert Kurz: Reading Marx
A Donald Trump or Jeff Bezos, as subjects who execute the contradictory automatism of capital accumulation at the political and economic level, are responsible for their actions. This is also true for a Wolfgang Schäuble, who is fully responsible for everything he did to Greece and Southern Europe during the Euro crisis; but this is also true for the little mean forum troll, who is responsible for all the agitation he spouts on the net – even if by means of these actions only the systemic crisis dynamics are executed on a political or ideological level.
Whereby, of course, the historical guilt that an egomaniac like Trump or an austerity sadist like Schäuble has brought upon himself weighs far more heavily than the pitiful excretions of a single political borderliner of the New Right in newspaper forums or social networks.
The big question of guilt with regard to the subjectless rule of capital can now also be specified with regard to the crisis dynamics and crisis ideology: The crisis as a historical process is a consequence of the increasing internal contradictions of capital, which confront the subjects as increasing “factual constraints.”
Specifically, it is the tendency of capital to get rid of its own substance, value-creating wage labor, through automation in the production process. This applies not only to the economic but also to the ecological crisis of capital, which, through increases in production, must burn up the natural foundations of human life ever faster in its fetishistic compulsion to grow.
Therefore, it must simply be stated that absolutely no one is to blame for the crisis of capital. And certainly the crisis has not been “staged” by any conspirators. The crisis broke out precisely because the market subjects do exactly what the system demands of them more and more efficiently: exploit wage labor for the purpose of boundless capital accumulation. The more effectively wage labor is exploited, the greater the pressure, the tighter the market-mediated noose around the necks of all market subjects.
The first false question, leading to ideological delusion, which imposes itself on the reified consciousness as a matter of course at the outbreak of crisis, is the question of crisis guilt. The shoe is on the other foot: personal guilt must be sought in the “everyday life” of capital exploitation, in the “normal execution” of the capitalist treadmill: in the concrete economic exploitation, the political oppression and the production of ideology that keeps the automatism of the system running.
Thus, while no one is “to blame” for the outbreak of the systemic crisis, whose dynamics unfold quasi “behind the backs of the producers” (Marx), it is precisely the everyday functioning of the system – the market-mediated oppression, exploitation and ideology production – in the course of which all the individuals who consciously execute the systemic constraints as “character masks” of their capitalist functions are to blame. Even more: in interaction with the dynamics of the crisis, it is precisely the exploitation, the oppression, the production of lies of the system that is increased to absurdity.
If the exploitation of the wage-dependent continues to increase, as it did in the neoliberal decades, this indicates a systemic crisis process that is perpetuated on the backs of the wage-dependent. And this is all the more true when a “normal employment relationship” becomes the exception and, seen globally, more and more people can actually no longer be exploited by capital because they are superfluous and therefore nothing more than “useless eaters”.
Class struggle as distribution struggle
The above described increase of exploitation, pauperization and precarization also in the centers of the capitalist world system, it must therefore be understood as a system reaction to a profound, historical crisis process. This occurred in the 1980s in response to the expiration of the postwar boom in the 1970s and the crisis period of stagflation. Consequently, neoliberalism prevailed only because Keynesianism had reached the end of its rope. In this respect, neoliberalism was not a kind of “coup d’état” against a supposedly ideal world of the welfare state, as quite a few leftists like to imply.
It is precisely the seemingly absurd split between rich and poor, between the masses of precarious and pauperized wage earners, as well as the fictitious millions in largely fictitious capital that a few billionaires seem to hold, that points to the systemic crisis, which also brings with it a lack of profitable investment opportunities in the real commodity economy, a corresponding shift to speculative activities in the financial sphere (“financialization of capitalism”).
It is precisely these consequences of the crisis that confront all actors as increasing, objectified contradictions or “factual constraints.” The subjects react to them system-inherently with an intensification of competition: politicians and states that enforce social cuts in the context of location competition, corporations that find ever more brutal forms of exploitation, wage writers in the mass media whose opportunism seems to know no bounds in the production of ideology, wage earners who increasingly resort to mobbing.
The market-mediated silent coercion of the ever “tougher” conditions compels the character masks of their respective social function to execute it under penalty of their own downfall. The capitalist who is not able to increase the exploitation of his human material in the increasing competition on the “tighter” markets will perish in the crisis competition. The same applies to the capitalist economies as national “locations”, which are also in a crisis-induced race to the bottom.
The Hartz reforms with their intended precarization strategy and their export fixation have thus been “successful” – in that they have so far been able to pass on the consequences of the crisis to other countries by exporting debt. The same applies to published opinion: The tendency toward opportunism in politics and the media is increasing, and oppositional thinking is being marginalized, especially on the “left.
Against the background of what has been said so far, a clear assessment of the class struggle now seems possible. This is thus a distributive struggle within the process of reduction of capital, the intensity of which is determined by its concrete, historical unfolding of contradictions. In periods of strong economic expansion, as during the postwar boom up to the 1970s, forms of “social partnership” can emerge between the functional elites of capital and the trade unions as representatives of the wage-earners (of “variable capital,” as Marx puts it).
As long as markets expand strongly, high profits can be agreed upon with wages that turn wage-dependents into consumers. This changes relatively quickly in periods of crisis, when the main concern of every capitalist is to perpetuate the irrational end in itself of capital accumulation, if necessary at the expense of his own wage-dependents.
Thus, the class struggle as a struggle for distribution has no inherent objective transformational potency. It is a struggle for shares in a real production of value that is melting away as a result of the crisis – but without questioning this irrational form of social reproduction. The class struggle (ultimately also the historical class struggle of past times) thus moves within the forms of capitalist socialization (value, labor, capital, state) and seeks emancipation and recognition in these categories rather than against them.
The intensifying class struggle is thus a distributive struggle. The militancy with which this crisis-induced escalating “class war” (Warren Buffet) is propagated conceals its lack of radicality, since the causes of the crisis and the fetishistic form of social reproduction under capitalism, as outlined above, are not reflected here.
The present social conditions also seem to resemble the pauperism of earlier times because the historical “ascendant phase” of the working class in the 18th and 19th centuries has social parallels with the present descendant phase of capital and the working class. The current rampant misery within the eroding class of wage-earners in the centers of the world system, it thus mirrors the misery of its historical formation.
To put it vividly: The foundation on which the class actors operate, the expenditure of wage labor in commodity production, is increasingly disintegrating. The one-sided rhetoric of class struggle conceals above all the fact that the classes themselves are disintegrating as a result of the crisis. The proletariat is disintegrating into precisely that economically “superfluous” layer of people who are desperately fleeing to the core regions of the capitalist world system.
What to do.
To be radical means to grasp a problem at its root in order to find a solution adequate to the problem. This is precisely what Marxist class struggle thinking does not do. It is not the distribution of commodity wealth that is at the core of the crisis, but the contradictory form in which wealth is produced for the sake of the irrational self-purpose of boundless capital accumulation – the commodity form itself. The blatant, ever worsening social division of late capitalist societies is precisely, as explained, the consequence of the escalating internal and external contradictions of capital’s growth compulsion.
Consequently, the crisis cannot be solved by social-democratic redistribution. Not the achievement of “control” over the capitalist accumulation machinery can be a radical goal (possibly still under the leadership of a dictatorial state and cadre party), but its fundamental transformation, in order to finally free the production of consumer goods from their commodity form, from the fetishistic end in itself of value exploitation.
Even the “democratization” of capitalist enterprises, as currently discussed as direct workers’ control in left-liberal circles in the U.S., would continue to expose these cooperatives to the constraints of crisis-tightening markets-and thus change little. Consequently, the crisis of capital coming up against its internal and external barriers can only be overcome upon overcoming the fetishistic momentum of the accumulation process as outlined – for it is this very dynamic of exploitation, unconsciously generated by market subjects, that is devastating impotent human societies and the global ecosystem.
Ultimately, it is about simplifying social reproduction by organizing it directly, through an all-society process of understanding, rather than – as is currently the case – degrading society to a mere transitory stage of a blind world-burning process run amok. Post-capitalism thus means, at its core, the conscious organization of the process of social reproduction by the members of society – this, as explained, in contrast to the current state in which people are subjected to a quasi-objective, fetishistic dynamic.
Karl Marx’s seemingly cryptic remark, according to which the overcoming of capitalism would conclude “the prehistory of human society,” thus receives its clarity. All previous human history took place unconsciously, within the framework of fetishistic social systems: from religious fetishism of early times and the Middle Ages to the secularized religion of capital.
And here is the thing: the crisis is also an irreversible, fetishistic process. It will run its course and there is no way to stabilize the system in the long run, because the eternal debt-making will eventually reach its limits even in the centers. This is not a vision of the future, but – especially in the periphery – already reality.
The system, choking on its contradictions, is already producing an economically superfluous humanity and collapsing regions known as “failed states,” as the refugee crisis made evident. The same applies to the climate crisis caused by the capitalist growth mania and its monstrous consequences.
It is thus not a question of the subjective “will” of the members of society whether the collapsing system will be overcome. It is a bare question of survival of human civilization, ultimately of human existence, in which way the coming transformation process will proceed: as a chaotic disintegration, in the form of the establishment of a brutal, murderous crisis dictatorship, or nevertheless in a progressive direction, which would open up new emancipatory perspectives for mankind in spite of all coming climate-related distortions.
Even more: this transformation process is already taking place – and the increasing political, ideological and also military conflicts are precisely the expression of this upheaval unconsciously taking place over humanity, as the sociologist and world-systems theorist Immanuel Wallerstein already explained at the beginning of the 21st century:
“We are living in a phase of transition from our existing world system, the capitalist economy, to another system or systems. We do not know whether this will be for the better or for the worse. We will not know until we get there, which may take another 50 years. We do know, however, that the period of transition will be very difficult for all who live in it. … It will be a time of conflict or significant disruption … . It will also be, what is not paradoxical, a time when the factor of free will will be increased to the maximum, which means that every individual and collective action will have a greater effect in rebuilding the future than in normal times, that is, during the continuation of a historical system.”
Immanuel Wallerstein, Utopianism
Civilization or barbarism – these are the extreme poles in this historical “phase of transition,” whereby it is the New Right that cuts a wide swath to barbarism with its extremism of the center, which intends an adherence to the forms of socialization in decay (nation, “creating” capital, state).
It is precisely the extreme cablings and associations in the New Right that sometimes consciously prepare for the crisis – which they imagine to be the result of a conspiracy against Germany – with death lists and coup plans. A dictatorship envisaged at the next crisis surge is to serve to finally “clean up” with the Left by mass murder. Thus, neo-fascism is a kind of fire accelerator of barbarism in crisis.
There is a maxim of political practice that leftist movements, groups or even parties would have to follow in the 21st century if they still wanted to function as progressive social forces according to their concept in the current epoch of upheaval and crisis. Capitalism must be transformed into history as quickly as possible, the capital relation as a social totality must be consciously abolished – all practical actions, all tactics, all reform proposals, all broader strategies would have to be oriented to this categorical imperative.
This is not an expression of left radicalism, but the formulation of the reasonable, middle, moderate civilizational minimum, without the realization of which the civilizational process in the 21st century would be transformed into barbarism, ultimately driven into collapse. Precisely because capital is collapsing, it must be overcome. Progress can only be realized beyond capital, in the transformation struggle to shape a post-capitalist social formation.
A progressive movement, borne by the insight into the necessity of system transformation, would thus struggle to establish conditions that would steer this transformation dynamic in an emancipatory direction. The maxim of such a post-politics would consist, on the one hand, in the effort to maintain and further develop the process of civilization and, on the other hand, in the struggle to overcome the fetishism outlined. This transformation would have to be conducted openly by offensively conveying to the people the necessity of emancipatory system transformation in practical struggles.
The goal of a progressive transformation movement would thus be to consciously shape the fetishistic process of civilization via the powerless people within the framework of a process of understanding throughout society. The forms in which a transformation movement that is conscious of itself organizes itself within the framework of the crisis-induced increase in social conflicts would thus possibly become germinal forms of a post-capitalist society.
Bourgeois politics, the actions of political subjects are thus “important” again, they have weight. Not because they can solve the crisis, but because they determine the course of the crisis. An example may illustrate this: Whether a Schäuble puts Europe on a neoliberal starvation diet (austerity) after the outbreak of the euro crisis, or whether the crisis process unfolds within the framework of pan-European economic and social policies, is of great importance for the further unfolding of the crisis, as illustrated by the rise of nationalist and far-right movements in austerity-ridden “German” Europe.
The increasing social struggles against the dismantling of the welfare state, against the dismantling of democracy and police-state tendencies, around a genuine climate policy would thus have to be understood as fields in which the social subjects literally fight for the course of the objectively taking place transformation process.
And it is here that the class struggle – insofar as it is aware of its role as a means in a transformation struggle – also has an important role to play. The class struggle is part of the struggle for the concrete course of the transformation process.
Which society for the transformation?
For this, the class struggle must point beyond itself and no longer primarily strive for recognition or social gratification in the languishing capitalism, as the historical workers’ movement did. The historical expansion of capitalism and the wage labor regime was the prerequisite for this, which is no longer given today in view of the crisis.
To make it concrete: To understand the crisis as a maxim of emancipatory practice means here to ask oneself which late capitalist society will enter into the inevitable transformation process. Should it be an authoritarian, police-state administered oligarchy with absurd social abysses, or a more egalitarian, bourgeois-democratic polity in which there continues to be scope for radical critique and praxis?
On the surface, an emancipatory left, if it wants to be progressive in late capitalism according to its concept, thus resembles an existentialist figure, comparable to Albert Camus’s Sisyphus, who consciously dedicates himself to a seemingly absurd practice. The struggle for social improvements against the dismantling of democracy, for the equality of minorities, for the Green New Deal is waged in full awareness of the internal capitalist futility of this struggle – in the face of the escalating economic and ecological systemic crisis.
But here the analogy already ends. The consciousness and rhetoric with which this “battle for the tea water” is waged is crucial. It is necessary to tell people clearly what is going on, that the old capitalist world is dying, that the new has not yet been born – and that this is a struggle against social cuts, for redistribution, against racism, climate destruction and warmongering, a struggle for optimal starting conditions for the inevitable system transformation.
Through this openness, which actually only makes explicit what has long been unconsciously sedimented in society as a dull crisis agenda – coupled with the search for post-capitalist forms of organization within this movement – it would also be possible to overcome the false immediacy that has often caused progressive movements to become bogged down in the false whole of late capitalism.
False immediacy is understood here as the tendency of social movements to unconsciously persist in forms of thinking that correspond to the social conditions and contradictions against which they are actually directed.
A prime example of this are, for example, trade union struggles against job cuts, which simply have to be waged by the actors concerned for the sake of their social survival – but which, without a corresponding awareness of the crisis, reproduce the existing forms of thought – in this case, thinking in terms of “jobs” as the only option for individual reproduction – even in times of crisis among the actors.
It is similar with the protests against inflation, which are often reduced to the greed of capitalists – and without radical crisis consciousness must end in impotence. It would be decisive to offensively pose the system question in the upcoming crisis confrontations, precisely because capital is perishing from its own contradictions. The concrete protest must be conducted with open sights as part of a struggle for the transformation of the system, as a transformation struggle.
Such necessary social struggles would thus have to be coupled with a radical emancipatory critique of the capitalist forms of existence and thought that are passing into decay, as Robert Kurz already pointed out:
“The task, then, is to formulate the emancipatory critique of the objectified, socially overarching forms of existence or thought and to assert it from within the social struggle in order to consciously break through this categorical prison. […] What matters is to develop a will against the dominant form of the will and to make conscious its fetish character.”
The text is an updated version of an article that was published in the magazine “Telepolis” in 2019, before it was hijacked by a cross-front racket of the Left Party and converted into a cross-front organ. The text can be taken over unabridged under indication of the author by all interested ones.
The music monument
John Lennon’s song “Working class hero” is a musical declaration of war against an economic system that deforms people – is that why he had to die?
By Tom-Oliver Regenauer
[This article posted on 10/15/2022 is translated from the German on the Internet, https://www.rubikon.news/artikel/das-musik-monument.]
The Beatles’ history and continued work to this day is like the crosswalk of Abbey Road – an alternation of light and darkness. The Beatles created a musical echo that resonates to this day. The four British “Lads” with mushroom hairdos became world stars in the 1960s, doing pioneering work in the history of pop music. The band’s history, overflowing with success before and after its existence, was and is not free of dark sides. After 1967, it seemed that Paul McCartney was no longer the same, as if he had been replaced. Moreover, mysterious deaths and attempted murders occurred within as well as in the Beatles’ haze. John Lennon is one of the band members who died prematurely due to a violent death, but in the process left behind immortality. Lennon exuded a spirit of the true, the good and the beautiful. His lyrics and words in interviews gave a broad mass an idea that the world could also be completely different, more beautiful and more human. And it was precisely this that taught the Anglo-American elite system to fear. The voice of the former Beatles singer severely broke the chains of the system. That his death was in the sense of the system seems plausible consequently. Accordingly, countless unanswered questions, strange coincidences, and mysterious circumstances surround his murder in 1980, but as quickly as the death shots faded, Lennon’s tones echo endlessly. One of his most monumental works is undoubtedly “Working class hero”. The song, which is musically and lyrically very easy to adapt, consequently found a gigantic spread – after all, pretty much every person from the systemic hamster wheel can recognize themselves in it. A lyric to the #PeaceNotes campaign.
“When I was five years old, my mother always told me that happiness was the key to life. When I went to school, they asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up. I wrote: happy. They told me that I didn’t understand the task. And I told them they didn’t understand life” (John Winston Lennon).
John Winston Lennon was ahead of his time. And of his band. At least in terms of his political as well as philosophical insights and views. The Liverpool-born musician was the founder and official bandleader of the most successful rock group in music history, The Beatles, even though in the late phase of the congenial formation his childhood friend Paul McCartney was often in the foreground, both musically and in the media.
The Beatles’ first single, “Love Me Do,” was released in 1962, and after the band had set a multitude of all-time records that are still valid today – and, as in 2018, continue to set them with the longest period of time between two identical number one placements – the four artists parted ways again as early as 1970. Eight years were enough to change the world. The four “Lads” are said to have sold around one billion records to date. The band’s love of experimentation and innovation ensured that their work continues to resonate to the present day. And the songs still sound amazingly “fresh” even after 60 years.
In terms of technology, too, the exceptional musicians – supported by the sound engineers at London’s Abbey Road Studios (formerly EMI Studios) – broke new ground with each release. In addition, they redefined the relationship between artists and record labels and producers, delivered the first genuine concept album in pop history, and invented the DI box (direct injection) in the studio, with which electric guitars could now be connected directly to mixing consoles. A revolution. They were the first band to print song lyrics on their albums, organized the first stadium concerts, recorded the first hard rock song in history (“Helter Skelter”), were the headliners of the first worldwide live television broadcast via satellite with grandees such as Pablo Picasso or Maria Callas, and laid the foundation for the “music video” format as we know it today with their music films. The Rolling Stones’ first chart hit was also penned by Lennon and McCartney. In 2004, the music magazine Rolling Stone rightly ranked the Beatles first among the 100 greatest musicians of all time.
After the last joint album, “Abbey Road”, which is listed in the discography before “Let It Be”, but was recorded after – because “Let It Be” is the only album of the Beatles, which was not produced by George Martin in London, but Phil Spector in the U.S. – and therefore came later on the market, the band split due to various differences. Artistically, organizationally, privately – they had grown apart, energies had been used up. Fame and money took an additional toll.
So much for the official story. For the astronomical success of the four bards from Liverpool also seemed to attract and release dark forces. Thus, to this day oodles of fans and nerds like Mike Williams deal with the numerous mysteries that have always given the band a mysterious aura. From the supposed replacement of Paul McCartney with a doppelganger because the real Beatle is said to have died in a car accident in 1967, to the image of Aleister Crowley, the controversial occultist, and other oddities on the cover of “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.” There are many myths surrounding the history of the mushroom heads.
For example, the rumors circulating since the 1960s that the Tavistock Institute, a British social engineering institution, misused the band to push the flower power movement, thus laying the foundation for the fragmented and self-centered society of the media age. Possibly. Because, as we have to admit today, the revolutionary efforts of the flower children from the “Swinging Sixties” mostly petered out in the living rooms of a well-off middle class. With the end of their adolescence, they delegated the responsibility for saving the planet to non-governmental organizations (NGOs), left-wing parties and a few exposed activists. However, one still waits in vain for world peace.
Doubts also persist about the official account of the early death of Brian Epstein, the homosexual manager of the Beatles. He is said to have died of a drug cocktail on August 27, 1967. Other voices claim that he was eliminated or committed suicide because he was unhappily in love with John Lennon and was rejected by him. Or because one was endeavored in higher place to cover up sexual escapades of the both. There are also questions about the improbable musical complexity of some of the Beatles’ compositions. In the opinion of not a few experts, the “Fab Four”, who were unversed in music theory, could hardly have managed this on their own. Sir George Martin, the Beatles’ producer, on the other hand, had enjoyed a classical musical education. It is well known that he was responsible for the string arrangements on songs like “Yesterday” or “Eleanor Rigby” and that he repeatedly gave the young musicians tips and suggestions. It is unclear whether there were any other persons who had a significant influence on the compositions.
A multitude of dubious deaths in the environment of the band are also unexplained up to the present. First of all that of Mal Evans, the long-time road manager and “girl for everything” of the Beatles, next to Neil Aspinall probably the person who was closest to the band over all the years. Friend. He was shot with six bullets by American police in Los Angeles in 1976. Allegedly because he opened his motel door and held a gun in his hand. However, as it turned out, it was only a toy gun lying on the table in the room. Moreover, Mal Evans was considered a level-headed, reliable and loving person – Paul McCartney called him a “good-natured teddy bear.” Nevertheless, not a single Beatle attended Mal’s funeral.
Piquant: Evans had a manuscript with him. And a suitcase full of documents with intimate information about his time with the Beatles. He wanted to discuss both the next day with his publisher Grosset & Dunlap, which was also supposed to help him publish an insider book. Both the manuscript and the suitcase containing the documents have been missing since the lethal visit by the LAPD (Los Angeles Police Department). The former Beatles roadie was cremated on site in LA and then shipped by urn back to England – where it was initially lost in the mail.
Dubious, too, were the circumstances surrounding the near-fatal attack on George Harrison in December 1999. At 3:30 a.m., the perpetrator, Michael Abraham, forced his way into Friar Park, the Harrisons’ estate. George, who was awake, confronted the intruder. However, an attempt to take Abraham by surprise to wrest the knife from him failed. The latter then stabbed the ex-Beatle several times. Subsequently, he also went after Harrison’s wife. However, she was able to break away and hide. After 15 minutes, the police arrived at the scene and arrested the attacker. He gave as motive for the crime, analogous to Mark David Chapman, the murderer of John Lennon, that he had heard voices in his head, which motivated him to the attack. Harrison survived it. Badly injured.
“I think we’re being driven by madmen, to a mad end. And I think I’m going to be locked up as a madman for saying that. That’s the insane part of it” (John Winston Lennon).
Like Mark David Chapman, Michael Abraham was an unstable personality, suffered from mental health problems in the run-up to the crime, took drugs, and had repeated contact with law enforcement. After just 19 months of inpatient treatment in a psychiatric hospital, Abraham has been at large again since 2002. It is worth noting that the knife attack on Harrison took place only 24 hours after a conversation between George and Ringo Starr, the Beatles’ drummer, in the course of which Harrison apparently announced that he wanted to end the secrecy surrounding the Beatles, especially the rumors about Paul, and go public with the truth. George Harrison never commented on the subject afterwards.
This is of course water on the mills of those Beatles fans who think Paul McCartney is a double. For “lazy.” And as abstruse as such a theory may seem – there are indeed indications that move the scenario at least into the realm of possibility. For example, the fact that McCartney spent nine days in the local drug jail during a visit to Japan in 1980. And not because he had a bag of marijuana in his luggage when he entered the country, but because the Japanese authorities were unable to verify the music legend’s fingerprints. They were different from those McCartney had given in the 1960s, when he toured Japan with the Beatles and also had contact with the police. Only the intervention of the British government ensured that McCartney could leave Japan again on January 25, 1980. Without legal consequences, despite the not inconsiderable amount of weed in his luggage, for which normal mortals in Japan spend a good seven years behind bars. Until a few years ago, there was still an informative article about this incident in a Tokyo daily newspaper on the Internet. However, this has since been deleted.
In this context, the results of Italian forensic experts, which were published in Wired Magazine in 2009, also make one wonder. Biometric data and the scientific evaluation of photos from various periods led the two researchers to the conclusion that there were at least two people who appeared as Paul McCartney over the course of time. Similar conclusions were reached by a study conducted by the University of Naples (Italy) in 2019, which stated a clear difference in the ductus of Paul McCartney during the creative periods before and after the album “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” – the period in which the double is said to have directed.
The story surrounding a paternity suit that was pending against “Macca” in Germany appears similarly confusing. SPIEGEL International reported on this on May 21, 2007. So did the FAZ and the English newspaper The Telegraph. The accusation was that Paul McCartney was denying paternity to a child conceived out of wedlock in Hamburg in the early 1960s. In addition, he had given false DNA samples in the first trial in this regard, which took place in the 1980s and was decided in favor of McCartney. The signature on the corresponding documents came, according to recent test results, from a right-handed person – while Paul is known to write and play guitar with his left hand.
The plaintiff, who was 46 years old at the time, also told the BILD newspaper that Paul had given her mother a one-time payment of 30,000 German marks in 1966 as compensation and hush money – and that he had also subsequently given her 200 German marks per month as a child support payment for many years. The public prosecutor’s office began an investigation. But the case was dropped in 2007. Even if the crime had taken place, according to justice spokesman Michael Grundwald, the statute of limitations had expired in the meantime.
The question arises as to why the mother filed a paternity suit in the first place, if she has to assume that a DNA test will be performed as part of the taking of evidence, after which it would be possible to determine beyond doubt whether she is telling the truth – if this is not the case? The same applies to the daughter’s new complaint. Under this premise, one must actually assume that the ladies seriously assumed that they would finally be able to decide the lawsuits in their favor, because the “real” Paul would have to have his genetic material tested. Consequently, the DNA sample of McCartney from the 1980s, which did not match the DNA of the offspring in dispute, was actually “fake”, i.e. did at least not come from the Paul with whom the Hamburg woman had been intimate between 1959 and 1962, or it is not the same person. Or the plaintiff was not in full possession of her faculties when she went to the public prosecutor’s office.
It would also be interesting to know what Paul McCartney’s ex-wife Heather Mills was talking about live on U.S. television when she told of “truths beyond imagining” regarding her former husband. Truths that were so “shocking that the world would not bear them.” Further, Mills reported that she had filed appropriate documents and evidence with third parties to protect herself and her family from Paul and those around him. Moreover, she emphatically clarifies that these truths are not affairs or similar common rock star scandals. This, of course, arouses curiosity.
Accordingly, there are plenty of stories, if you follow the more than 60-year history of the most successful band of all time. And new books and documentaries on the subject are still being published. Most recently, for example, “Faul – The Musical” or the ominous book series “The Memoirs of Billy Shears”, written by the equally ominous author Thomas E. Uharriet, who otherwise seems to deal primarily with the subject of haiku. How he came to put himself in the role of Paul’s double years ago – or, should he exist, how he managed to get hold of his secret information – is not known. Wikipedia even has a dedicated discussion forum on the subject of “Paul is dead”. But even this could not create certainty so far.
So the doubting Beatles fan must probably continue to live with the nagging uncertainty of whether it is the real Paul McCartney who continues to tour tirelessly around the world – or whether it is perhaps Vivian Stanshell, William Campbell, Phil Ackrill of “Danny Laine and The Diplomats” or Bill Shepherd, frontman of the band “Billy Pepper & The Pepperpots” alias Billy Shears, who have been miming the Beatle since 1967. How the mentioned candidates manage or managed to continue their own lives parallel to the portrayal of the busy Beatle, the corresponding theories unfortunately leave open.
Some things, however, one might not even want to fathom in more detail – but, as in the present case, for once simply be satisfied with the shimmering illusion, the end result, the art. For the timeless quality of the music suffers to this day in no way from the potentially dark stains in the band’s history or supposed manipulations from the deep-state background.
“Life is what happens while you are planning” (John Winston Lennon).
In any case, after the breakup of the Beatles, it was Paul McCartney who was the first former band member to release his eponymous solo album. He had already worked on it during the recordings of “Abbey Road”, which caused additional upsets in the band structure at the time. John had also worked with his wife Yoko Ono in 1968 and 1969 on new music and thus began, as it were, to distance himself from his band, but brought only after the last Beatles album and McCartney the first solo disc on the market. Title of the record: “John Lennon/Plastik Ono Band”, hailed by many critics as the most honest rock record of all time.
After years of tour stress, Beatlemania and various bad experiences with the dark side of the music industry, Lennon was no longer interested in staged publicity, image design, dates and marketing. He was searching for himself, the meaning of life and the truth.
For the introverted and melancholic free spirit had soon after reaching world star status recognized the true character of the feudal system based on greed, which sought to instrumentalize him commercially and ideologically as a product, as a rock star, youth idol and peace activist – and later to eliminate him.
Thus, John’s solo debut already features the grandiose title “Working Class Hero” – probably the best political song – or song lyric – of all time. At least from the author’s point of view. There are several reasons for this resolute statement: For one thing, the piece is musically very simple and therefore quick to learn even for guitar novices. The chord progression consists primarily of A minor as well as G major and only changes to D major for one line of the chorus. This gives the song a better chance to spread quickly. In addition, the vocals are also not very complex and invite you to sing along. After a few runs, one is able to repeat the lines by heart. Even without musical accompaniment. On the other hand – and much more important – the text is universally interpretable. For every person in this world.
In other words: everyone who lives in a society shaped by capitalism will find himself in “Working Class Hero” in his own individual way. And this not only in a single line, in the one outstanding metaphor or a catchphrase that stands for itself – but in the entire text, which traces the life of a working class person in the neo-feudalistic-corrupt system of our time in an exemplary way that is open to interpretation. From birth to career peak. Each line immediately creates an image in the mind, evoking childhood memories. This is what makes the verses written by John Lennon in late 1970 so powerful, the emotions triggered by the piece so overwhelming.
“You don’t need anybody to tell you who or what you are. You are what you are!” (John Winston Lennon)
Automatically the receiver projects his own life path, subjective experiences, personal memories and forgotten feelings into the lyrics recited by the ex-Beatle in a calm voice. John Lennon takes the listener on a journey through his own past. Meaning that of the teenager from Liverpool, who grew up with his aunt – and that of the listener equally. He exposes the school system as indoctrination. Then the world of work as modern serfdom. And distills this information into a handful of syllables. That is high art. Writing complex, heady texts is comparatively simple. Behind the simplicity, memorability and universal adaptability of a song, beyond one’s own life reality, one’s own cultural sphere and one’s own era, lies the path to the masterpiece.
The amazing to depressing thing about “Working Class Hero”: The text has not lost one iota of its topicality to this day. More than half a century after the title was taken up, Homo consumens is still a slave to his fears.
And on top of that, more than ever, he is the plaything of system-inherent incapacitation and dehumanization, of processes of expropriation, ideological power struggles and imposed military-industrial hegemonic interests. These fascistoid tendencies – following almost linearly George Orwell’s dystopia “1984” – were obviously already clearly foreseeable for Lennon in the 1970s, as various interviews with the musician and peace activist from that time attest. Even then, the politicized Beatle criticized the perfidious geopolitical castles of the dominant power blocs USA, Russia and China. Furthermore, it was absolutely clear to the Liverpool native that the monopoly of violence of the mafia-like system of the state could not be overcome by force. That resistance and revolution only have a chance if the protest breaks through peacefully.
“If it comes to using violence, then you are playing the system’s game. The establishment will irritate you (…) to make you fight. Because once they make you violent, then they know how to deal with you. The only thing they can’t handle is nonviolence and humor” (John Winston Lennon).
Thus, for his campaigns, he relied on slogans like “Give Peace a Chance” or “War Is Over If You Want It,” on crowd-pleasing “Bed-ins for Peace” with Yoko, on artistic freedom and humor – especially in dealing with the dark forces of the Deep State, which, for their part, did everything in their power to expel Lennon as quickly as possible from the United States, which he chose as his adopted home after the breakup of his first band. “Working Class Hero” caused headaches in the U.S. establishment right at the beginning of Lennon’s stay in America in 1971, even though the song had been released a year earlier. Senators and officials complained about the song’s fecal language and subversive, anti-state tone. Radio stations played it anyway, with a few exceptions that went along with the state’s call for a boycott.
Just four months after “Working Class Hero,” in March 1971, John’s single “Power to the People” was released. Closely followed by his best-known peace anthem – “Imagine” – in October 1971, the direction of the march was clear. And the ex-Beatle was out of favor with the U.S. establishment. The American authorities left no stone unturned to torpedo the British musician’s application for naturalization. Meanwhile, “Imagine” became the most successful song of his solo career. More than 200 artists have reinterpreted it to date. The title is among the 100 most played songs of all time and was ranked 30th in the list of songs of the century by the “Recording Industry Association of America” (RIAA). John Lennon’s message was unstoppable.
“Ideas don’t need weapons if they can convince the great masses” (Fidel Castro).
After the release of his big hit single, John Lennon had only nine years to live. The first half of it he drank a lot, took drugs and didn’t really know what to do with himself. From 1975 to 1980, he primarily took care of his son Sean, the only child with Yoko. Asked what he had been doing since the mid-1970s, he replied in an interview, “Baking bread and looking after the baby.” And just when he had begun working on new songs, inspired by a stormy sailing trip to Bermuda, his story was to come to its abrupt as well as dramatic end. Presumably, his mass-mobilizing pacifism and vocal criticism of the Vietnam War ultimately doomed him. On December 8, 1980, at about eleven o’clock at night, the then 40-year-old Lennon was shot dead in front of the entrance to New York’s Dakota Building. By Mark David Chapman, a confused lone perpetrator, according to the official account.
After Lennon’s cremation, Yoko Ono scattered his ashes in nearby Central Park. Nowadays, the Imagine Memorial, which is always littered with flowers, letters and devotional objects, is located at the site in question. His murderer, on the other hand, is alive. And periodically applies for release from prison. In 2020, his eleventh parole application was denied. The next hearing will take place in August 2022. Presumably with a similar outcome. Because Yoko Ono appeals the request every two years.
The prevailing opinion on Chapman’s motive for the crime was and is that he shot to become famous – as a celebrity killer. However, this argument does not really hold water in light of Chapman’s confession. After all, if he had sought publicity, he would have followed his lawyer’s advice and gone to what would probably be a worldwide sensational criminal trial. Prime-time TV coverage included. However, due to his immediate guilty plea, no show trial took place. Chapman went directly to prison. He also generally held back on interviews and other options to get attention.
During a TV interview with Larry King in 1992, twelve years after the murder, Chapman tried to describe his motives, to narrow down the trigger for the crime. Logically, his explanations did not appear. The reasons for his actions remained vague. It appeared that he himself was still searching for answers. Or not telling the whole story – perhaps not being able to tell it. And he doesn’t even have to lie about it, as research by U.S. author Phil Strongman on the Mark David Chapman case reveals.
In his book “John Lennon: Life, Times and Assassination,” published in 2010, he examines the obvious inconsistencies regarding the course of events, the nebulous past of the suspected lone perpetrator, his motives and, above all, the striking negligence of the U.S. authorities during the investigation of the assassination. Strongman brings into focus precisely those questions that the FBI should have asked had the U.S. actually been interested in solving the violent crime, but studiously avoided raising.
For example: Who is Chapman, the “nobody,” as he calls himself, from a Georgia hick town? Why is he commonly portrayed as a Lennon and Beatles fanatic? Not a single phonograph record, book, newspaper clipping or other Beatles-related material was found in his apartment. What motivated Chapman to fly from his Hawaii home to New York on the days leading up to the murder – and what was he doing during the misappropriated unnecessary layover at the Chicago airport? Why was Chapman living in Hawaii in the first place, near a CIA training camp? What exactly was he doing at his employer, World Vision International, an organization founded in 1950 and rumored to be one of countless CIA shadow companies? Why was Chapman in Beirut, a CIA stronghold during the Cold War?
Why were all the bullet holes on the left side of John Lennon’s body if Mark David Chapman was standing behind him on the right when he fired? How was he able to aim so accurately that the medical examiners had trouble removing the bullets, which were almost on top of each other, during the autopsy? According to the court’s opinion, this was a ballistic masterpiece – and highly improbable for non-professionals, especially since it was fired from the wrong angle. Why were experts excluded from the investigation who assumed that there were several shooters? Why did no one take a closer look at the Dakota Building security guard on duty at the time of the crime – José Sanjenís Perdomo – even though he had demonstrably worked for American intelligence as a professional killer and hired on as a mercenary for the Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba? Why was Perdomo able to calmly walk up to Chapman after the shooting of Lennon and take the loaded gun out of his hand – completely unopposed by the shooter? Wouldn’t the natural reaction in such a moment of shock be to take cover himself in the guardhouse at the entrance to the Dakota Building or to return fire on Chapman? For what reason was Perdomo not afraid that Chapman would point the gun at him and pull the trigger? Was it because Perdomo and Chapman had been loitering alone outside the Dakota’s entrance all evening, talking about the Bay of Pigs or the assassination of John F. Kennedy, until Lennon showed up at just before 11:00 p.m.?
“Jose Perdomo told police Chapman was Lennon’s killer. One of the arresting officers, Peter Cullen, did not believe Chapman had shot Lennon. Cullen believed the shooter was a handyman in the Dakota, but Perdomo convinced Cullen it was Chapman” (Latin News Agency, December 8, 2018).
Beyond that, the imperative of criminal detective 101 always applies: follow the money! So how did Chapman, who never had a steady job, a good income, or anything like a career, finance himself? Where did the man with odd jobs get the money for his above-average lifestyle? Who paid for the six-week round-the-world trip Chapman took in 1978 – and what did he do in Tokyo, Seoul, Hong Kong, Singapore, Bangkok, New Delhi, Geneva, London, Paris and Dublin?
Perhaps the most important question: why did Chapman stand around paralyzed at the scene after Lennon was shot? As if he had just awakened from a dream? Passers-by and patrol police describe his behavior as that of a will-less zombie. Disoriented and confused – by himself and his surroundings. Where was his flight reflex? Why wasn’t he running away? And why wasn’t Chapman drug tested?
Why ignore the fact that Chapman speaks of voices in his head vehemently telling him to “do it” before the shooting?
That he himself describes remembering the moment of the crime as if it were “two different movies” – one in the minutes before firing the gun that made him nervous, agitated, emotionally corrupted, and one after pulling the trigger that he describes as calm, empty, senseless, and paralyzing? Chapman went on record to say that in the minutes after the act, he felt as if he had been jolted out of a deep sleep, out of a dream.
All of these questions were not resolved during the official investigation. Corresponding FBI files remain under lock and key to this day. Top Secret. National security and all that. We know this from the assassination of John F. Kennedy. In view of the above facts, however, it does not take much imagination to picture what actually happened in New York on December 8, 1980. Especially if one has dealt with the disturbing MKULTRA, MKNAOMI, MKOFTEN, MKCHICKWIT, CHATTER or ARTICHOKE programs of the US secret services.
The goal of these despicable human experiments: manipulation of consciousness. The creation of subconsciously acting killers, who can be activated from the normal state by trigger signal and be moved to the act. The methods: LSD, electric shocks, psycho-torture, sleep deprivation, verbal and physical violence. Anyone who assumes that such ideas are merely suitable as material for a nice spy flick is mistaken. A declassified CIA report from 1975, for example, states:
“If hypnosis was successful, assassins could be created to assassinate a prominent (…) politician or, if necessary, an American official.”
Stephen Kinzer, who has long studied the CIA’s secret projects, wrote in his book “Poisoner in Chief,” published in September 2019:
“In the early 1950s, the CIA established secret detention centers in areas under American control in Europe and East Asia. Mainly in Japan, Germany, and the Philippines. (…) The CIA captured individuals suspected of being enemy agents. And other persons it deemed expendable to carry out various kinds of torture and human experimentation on them. The prisoners were interrogated while being administered psychoactive drugs, given electric shocks, subjected to extreme temperatures. They were subjected to sensory isolation and the like in order to develop a better understanding of how to destroy and control the human mind.”
David McGowan, in his work “Programmed to Kill” (2004), also uses numerous original sources to describe how U.S. intelligence agencies breed sleepers. So anyone who still believes in the fairy tale that the state is one’s friend might want to reconsider that position now. For the list of unethical human experiments is long. Many of them have been astonishingly successful, if you want to call it that. But at the top of the food chain, there are no scruples. There you learn to smile when you kill.
This is exactly what John Lennon describes with his last line in “Working Class Hero”: “First you must learn how to smile as you kill”. So Mark David Chapman may have been a Manchurian Candidate or just the useful idiot. Or both.
In any case, the circumstantial evidence gives every reason to believe that it is the US government that has the Beatles founder on its conscience. Because it could not get him out of the country by legal means and became visibly afraid of his ability to turn the masses against the ruling system. Peacefully, but firmly. With love, humor and creativity.
Fortunately, his death did not silence him. The opposite is the case. Because John Winston Lennon became more immortal through the assassination than he already was as a member of the most successful band of all times. Not a martyr – but a working class hero whose ideas and ideals will endure the ages. Imagine Peace.
Working Class Hero (John Lennon, 1971)
As soon as you’re born they make you feel small,
By giving you no time instead of it all,
Till the pain is so big you feel nothing at all.
A working class hero is something to be,
A working class hero is something to be.
They hurt you at home and they hit you at school,
They hate you if you’re clever and they despise a fool,
Till you’re so fucking crazy you can’t follow their rules.
A working class hero is something to be,
A working class hero is something to be.
When they’ve tortured and scared you for twenty odd years,
Then they expect you to pick a career,
When you can’t really function, you’re so full of fear.
A working class hero is something to be,
A working class hero is something to be.
Keep you doped with religion and sex and TV,
And you think you’re so clever and classless and free,
But you’re still fucking peasants as far as I can see.
A working class hero is something to be,
A working class hero is something to be.
There’s room at the top they are telling you still,
But first you must learn how to smile as you kill,
If you want to be like the folks on the hill.
A working class hero is something to be.
A working class hero is something to be.
If you want to be a hero well just follow me,
If you want to be a hero well just follow me
German translation (Tom Regenauer)
As soon as you are born, they make you feel small,
By giving you no time instead of all the time in the world,
Until the pain is so great that you feel nothing at all.
A working class hero is something worth being.
A working class hero is something worth being.
They hurt you at home and beat you at school,
They hate you if you’re smart, and despise a fool,
Until you’re so fucking crazy you can’t even follow their rules.
A working class hero is something worth being.
A working class hero is something worth being.
When they have tortured and frightened you for close to twenty years,
Then they expect you to choose a career path,
Even though you can’t function at all, you’re so full of fear.
A working class hero is something worth being.
A working class hero is something worth being.
They keep you numb with religion and sex and TV,
and you think you’re fucking smart and classless and free,
When in fact you’re still fucking serfs, as far as I can see.
A working class hero is something worth being.
A working class hero is something worth being.
There’s room at the top, they still tell you that,
But first you have to learn to smile while you kill,
If you want to be like the people on Capitol Hill.
A working class hero is something worth being.
A working class hero is something worth being.
If you want to be a hero, well, just follow me.
If you want to be a hero, well, just follow me.
John Lennon, “Working class hero”
Tom-Oliver Regenauer was born in 1978. After completing a business education, he worked in various industries and roles, including as an operations manager, corporate and management consultant, and international project manager with assignments in more than 20 countries. Since the mid-1990s, he has also been active as a music producer and lyricist and runs an independent record label. The German-born author has lived in Switzerland since 2009. His most recent publication was “The Elephant in the Room: The Second Year ‘New Normal’ Independently Commented.” For more information, visit regenauer.press.
Now is the time for reappraisal!
The new totalitarianism was established by numerous people in charge who must be held accountable – that’s what Marcus Klöckner and Jens Wernicke do in the new Rubikon book “May the entire republic point the finger”.
08.10.2022 by Tom-Oliver Regenauer