Paris killings: an excuse for increased militarisation

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baboon
Paris killings: an excuse for increased militarisation
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The discussion that follows was prompted by the article: Paris killings: an excuse for increased militarisation. The discussion was initiated by baboon.
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baboon
the bourgeoisie profits

This is an excellent article and a position of real class resonance drawn from the Paris killings. If the shootings were acts of madness then the strengthening of the state against the working class by the bourgeoisie is an act of calculated ruthlessness. Given certain weaknesses in the state of the French ruling class then the innate machiavellianism of the class meant that it acted to considerably step up the militarisation of society in a matter of not days but hours after the event profiting from events both on the national and international arena. The article is correct to make this attack on the working class, arising out of the shootings, the main emphasis. Not only does the state strengthen itself through this event (and others like it) but it also uses it and its consequences to sow further divisions through the working class and undermine its consciousness. I don't think that the article uses the term "muslim" at all but it is this section of the class in France that is at the point of attack in the first place and then used as a divisive element against the rest of the class. But it is the whole of the working class that is aimed at.

petey
9/11

a very good statement and of course correct in its analysis of the "benefits" of all this to the state. however,

On September 11, 2001, two planes smashed into the twin towers in New York. Two others crashed in Washington and Pennsylvania. The outcome was terrifying: more than three thousand people killed. Doubts persist about the breadth of complicity of the US state in the attacks

no, please

MH
  Petey, could you be a bit

 

Petey, could you be a bit more specific about the nature of your disagreement here? I mean I can guess, but saying “doubts persist” is hardly the same as saying they were demolished by the CIA, etc

 

Fred
Perhaps they were demolished

Perhaps they were demolished by the CIA working in conjunction with Al-Qaida

baboon
The project for a new American century

What was called the "Neocons" were integral to the functioning of the US administration prior to 9.11 with President George W. Bush as its titular head. In the year 2000, The Project for the New American Century expressed the need for a new Pearl Harbour in order to effect the rapid transformation of US imperialism and an increase in its global reach using whatever measures necessary. We know the likes of Cheney, Rove and Wolfowitz were all supporters of "whatever's necessary" for a demonstration of US global power and that they would back anything undertaken by the secret services, i.e., the CIA, in pursuit of this aim (torture, mass killings and so on)..

We also know a great deal, over the past decades, of the role of the CIA in picking up the messages of their masters' voices. What the actual connection was in relation to the 9.11 attacks and their possible facilitation is not by necessity clear. So I think that it's entirely sober and accurate to say that "doubts persist about the breadth of complicty of the US state in the attacks".

A number of Saudi nationals were involved in the 9.11 attacks and, as a response the US invaded Afghanistan and Iraq, and introduced an unprecedented militarisation of society at home.

Redacted
Read "5 Unanswered Questions

Read "5 Unanswered Questions about 9/11". It's a book that frames itself around the massive but almost totally useless official 9/11 Commission Report that was published by the Bush admin as a result of the US government investigations and proceedings. The wifes of 9/11 survivors, who were the ones that forced the government to even publish a report in the first place, ended up being irrate with it and were flabbergasted and the amount of fluff and lack of attention to critical questions and details. "5 Unanswered Questions" basically picks up there. One of the most compelling bits of evidence is a wire transfer from the Pakistani ISI to Mohammad Atta in Germany just weeks before the attack.

The other thing, and this is just my own observation, that really bothers me is the claim that all of the hijackers passports were recovered from the debris in good condition. And odd coincedence maybe, but hard to swallow considering the nature of the congflagration, the fact there are still missing persons whos remains were never found, etc.

Also does anyone doubt for a second they shot down United 93?

Demogorgon
"Further, the process of

"Further, the process of transformation, even if it brings revolutionary change, is likely to be a long one, absent some catastrophic and catalyzing event – like a new Pearl Harbor."

That's the actual wording of the famous "new Pearl Harbor" quote from the Project for the New American Century, which reads more like an observation than a call for action. The context of the quote is in a section dealing with the development on new military technologies and techniques - which the document promotes - while warning that this approach cannot sacrifice traditional military presence and relations with US allies. It even calls for a halt to new aircraft carrier development and considers some centre-piece military projects like the Joint Strike Fighter as "unwise".

The quote should also be read in context of a previous statement in the same document: "Absent a rigorous program of experimentation to investigate the nature of the revolution in military affairs as it applies to war at sea, the Navy might face a future Pearl Harbor – as unprepared for war in the post-carrier era as it was unprepared for war at the dawn of the carrier age."

The focus of the document is about the adaptability and flexibility of US forces in the face of emerging threats and how to focus military R&D to meet the neo-con paradigm of light, agile forces rather than the lumbering Cold War behemoth. I have my doubts that it can be interpreted as saying such an event would be a good thing for the US. It's more like change now before you have change forced on you by an attack you're not prepared for. Of course, in the event, the "neocons" did attempt to use post-911 world to force through radical change along these lines in the US military, just as the administration more generally used the shock to pursue its wider political objectives.

What is of more interest here is the use of disaster-spectacles, both natural and human-wrought, to push through radical political agendas at moments when resistance (both in the working class, but also in other fractions of the bourgeoisie - the military absolutely hated Rumsfeld) is blunted by the disorientation. Much of the "neo-con" ideology is built on this use of disaster, which draws upon Milton Friedman's views on the best environment in which to pursue his policy recommendations.

Of course, none of this means that our rulers aren't adverse to creating a little shock when it suits their purposes. But just because these kind of massive disaster-spectacles are useful for the ruling class doesn't necessarily mean it directly organises them. Both Hurricane Katrina and the 2004 Tsunami turned out to be highly profitable for some capitalists as they effectively cleared whole areas of housing for poor people which was then replaced with far more profitable buildings for the rich.The Tsunami, in particular, wiped out ways of indigenous life that had been practiced for centuries but had been a block on resort development.

To sum up, I don't think the capacity of the bourgeoisie (or parts of it) to benefit from such events can necessarily count as evidence that they organise them any more than they necessarily organise economic crises (which can make some capitalists very rich). That's not to say they don't either, of course - there is an argument that the "Asian Crisis" in the late 90s was the result of a deliberate US attempt to put pressure on particular Asian countries that weren't playing ball with US economic policy at the time, which then got out of hand ...

Demogorgon
Jamal wrote:Also does anyone

Jamal wrote:
Also does anyone doubt for a second they shot down United 93?

"They" being the US military? If there was a conspiracy to allow it to happen, that would seem rather silly, wouldn't it? In fact, it would be the best evidence against a conspiracy - "look, we wanted to stop it so badly that we shot down our own passenger plane!".

Redacted
Absolutely! You're an Air

Absolutely! You're an Air Force commander who have had jets scrambled since even before the attack. One tower is hit, then another. Then the Pentagon. It's clear the result will be a few hundred casualties minimum, very likely more, then you get word that a flight less than an hour away from the capital has been hijacked and is possibly headed for the White House. What call would you make? I guess it's possible hijackers intended to just crash the plane in rural Pennsylvania, but it doesn't seem likely.

Nothing to do with the above, but again, I can't recommend this book enough.

Demogorgon
Of course, the official story

Of course, the official story is that "they" deny they shot down 93. Given that it's good evidence against other conspiracies, you could argue that it would be in their interests to claim they did. And indeed, at least three pilots claim they tried (although one, Billy Hutchinson, clearly lied - his squadron was on the ground at the time).

So there seems no logic to denying it. In fact, it serves government interests to claim to have shot it down, regardless of whether there really was a conspiracy around 9/11:

  • If there was a conspiracy, it would offer evidence that they tried to stop 9/11.
  • If there wasn't a conspiracy, it makes them look slightly less incompetent - the pilots, Penney and Sass who were actually sent to intercept were flying unarmed planes and their only option was to ram the invading aircraft! In reality, they never even found the plane and were only informed it had crashed long afterwards.

There are certainly plenty of unanswered questions around 911 and lots of stuff to be suspicious of. The Commission themselves accused both NORAD and the FAA of giving inaccurate testimony, for example, and the conduct of the FBI and other agencies has all sorts of strange inconsistencies. But whether this amounts to a centralised conspiracy (of whatever nature - personally, I think the only vaguely likely one is the "let it happen" school and I'm not entirely convinced about that), a centralised cover up, or a number of different agencies hoping to save their own skins is open to debate.

MH
The PNAC policy document is a

The PNAC policy document is a public statement after all, so a textual analysis is unlikely to uncover a ‘smoking gun’. It is however  clear evidence of the line of thinking of a powerful faction of the US bourgeoisie which found itself in power with its hands on all the levers of the machinery of the US state.

The idea that the US bourgeoisie ‘organised’ 9/11 is a bit of a straw man anyway since no one here is suggesting it. What was Pearl Harbor? A sneak attack by an external enemy that the highest echelons of the US state knew about in advance and allowed to happen, in order to provide a pretext for American entry into a global war... Whatever our suspicions of the more active involvement of US agencies in the events of 9/11, we don’t have to prove they organised them.

But when it comes to the machiavellian use of real and staged incidents the US bourgeoisie has plenty of ‘form’, going all the way back to the sinking of the Maine  in 1898. As a state which has historically presented itself as ‘anti-imperialist’, and which has contained significant isolationist tendencies, the US bourgeoisie has found itself with an objective political need at key moments for some real or engineered incident in order to justify its imperialist intervention. Other imperialist powers haven't had this problem.  

Demogorgon
MH wrote:It is however  clear

MH wrote:
It is however  clear evidence of the line of thinking of a powerful faction of the US bourgeoisie which found itself in power with its hands on all the levers of the machinery of the US state.

Now, having actually read it, I don't think it constitutes clear evidence at all. It hints at an awareness that such an event may be advantageous to some aspects of their agenda but I don't think it suggests a line of thinking at all - certainly not an actionable one. It's probably better characterised as a half-smoked fag end (Morley brand, no doubt ).

MH wrote:
The idea that the US bourgeoisie ‘organised’ 9/11 is a bit of a straw man anyway since no one here is suggesting it.

It is clearly a possible interpretation of the original "doubts persist ..." quote, and baboon's comments about "the role of the CIA in picking up the messages of their masters' voices" i.e. the CIA did something to arrange or allow a "new Pearl Harbour". Given "breadth of complicity" obviously refers to the wide range of conspiracy theories on the subject it's hardly unreasonable to include the idea that the "US did it" as this is obviously a major element of the conspiracy-related discourse on the subject.

In fact, no-one, except Jamal and Petey have so far stuck their neck out and actually supported or rejected any conspiracy claims. Jamal thinks the USAF shot down Flight 93 and Petey seems to reject them all out of hand. Everyone else (including me) seems to be very careful not to make any specific claims but there's an underlying impression of "no smoke without fire".

MH wrote:
What was Pearl Harbor? A sneak attack by an external enemy that the highest echelons of the US state knew about in advance and allowed to happen, in order to provide a pretext for American entry into a global war

You talk as if it is established historical fact that the US administration knew and allowed Pearl Harbor to happen. It isn't! Similarly, there is no conclusive evidence that the Maine was deliberately sunk either. Appealing to one unproven assertion as support for another unproven assertion demonstrates nothing.

I think it's far better to point to established documentary evidence (such as Operation Mongoose and, in particular, one of the proposals within it, Operation Northwoods) that the US bourgeoisie has at least contemplated audacious false-flag operations and there an explicit desire to recreate a Maine-style incident. That doesn't prove that the Maine itself was a false-flag operation, but does show the bourgeoisie obviously are aware of the usefulness of such incidents. Of course, Northwoods was rejected ...

MH wrote:
Whatever our suspicions of the more active involvement of US agencies in the events of 9/11, we don’t have to prove they organised them.

No, although it would, of course, be interesting to know! In fact, we don't need to prove (or even claim) that they "let it happen" either. What really matters is how the US bourgeoisie used the attacks, just as the French bourgeoisie are now using the Paris attacks. Similarly, the Pacific War remains an imperialist war regardless of whether the US knew about Pearl Harbour or not and the US campaign against Cuba was imperialist even though the US didn't actually carry out Northwoods.

In other words, the question of these conspiracies (real or imagined) are a point of detail as far as our general analysis is concerned and the original article. In fact, in Petey's original post, he praised the article for its general thrust but disagreed at the hint of US complicity in 9/11. The next question might be is it really important to discuss these points of detail? If no, then let's not ... but if they do matter then we need to actually examine them and ask ourselves what can we find evidence for? I would hazard a guess that we would both agree that the US didn't organise it ... but do we have any evidence for the other broad hypothesis that they "let it happen"?

[quote=MH]As a state which has historically presented itself as ‘anti-imperialist’, and which has contained significant isolationist tendencies, the US bourgeoisie has found itself with an objective political need at key moments for some real or engineered incident in order to justify its imperialist intervention. Other imperialist powers haven't had this problem.[quote]

The Nazi regime felt the need to fake an attack by Polish soldiers on a German radio station (the Gleiwitz incident) in order to justify their attack on Poland. Japan attempted to blow up a railway bridge in the Manchurian Incident to justify their invasion of China in 1931 - although there is controversy as to whether this was sanctioned by central government or was a local initiative.

The point being that the US (or the democracies in general for that matter) is not alone in feeling that such justifications are necessary for war. Ironically, there's much more conclusive evidence for despotic regimes engaging in such activity, in fact. Of course, it may well be that we know more about these regimes' activities because historically they tended to be on the losing side.

Redacted
Straight from the horses

Straight from the horses mouth: Here's what I think. And what there's a reasonable basis for.

State intelligence services create terrorists. It's true this happens indirectly through drone bombings and other maneuvers, when weddings, birthdays and funerals are bombed from behind a remote controle for example. But it also happens directly, state intelligence services have helped to radicalize vulnerable youth in ways that otherwise might not have happened without their influence. There's been a string of cases in the US like this.

Imagine a "double agent" situation. You created a group of terrorists with the intention of thwarting the attack, as a PR campaign. The dangers of these types of plans combined with capitalist bueraracy is stunningly obvious, to anyone–even if the intention is to stop the attack in the planning phase, there can be obvious bueracratic hurdles which might prevent this. Inter and intra-organizational differences, CIA vs. FBI vs. NSA, that kind of thing.

In all the recent major terrorist attacks in the West, most if not all the assailants are previously known to intelligence services. So why does that "they somehow slipped under the radar" excuse the bourgeoisie uses work?

They cultivate these scenarios, on so many differnet levels, it just makes you wonder if the true goal is to always have a terrorist shooting or bombing on deck, for the purpose of distraction and ideological warfare if nothing else. It's like straight out of 1984!

Also the constant threat of the "terrorist attack" is the main reason why privacy is dead! Why does the NSA record everything I do that involves electronics? Because terrorists!!!

Then there's the now infamous August 6th, 2001daily presidential debreifing President Bush recieved directly from the CIA with the title "Bin Laden Determined to Strike", which was never intended to be released in an official capacity. It anonymously leaked in 2002. Here's an exerpt:

"An Egyptian Islamic Jihad (EIJ) operative told an [redacted] service at the same time that Bin Ladin was planning to exploit the operative's access to the US to mount a terrorist strike..."

Redacted
And the July 10, 2001

And the July 10, 2001 "Phoenix memo":

"...Advise[d] the Bureau and New York of the possibility of a coordinated effort by Osama Bin Laden to send students to the United States to attend civil aviation universities and colleges. Phoenix has observed an inordinate number of individuals of investigative interest who are attending or who have attended civil aviation universities and colleges in the State of Arizona."

Maybe if they weren't super busy setting up a global electronic dragnet at the time they might have noticed these. I mean are we suppose to believe they didn't?

Redacted
Warning: don't get me started

Warning: don't get me started on the US government selling cocaine.

MH
wider issue

Demogorgon wrote:

You talk as if it is established historical fact that the US administration knew and allowed Pearl Harbor to happen. It isn't! Similarly, there is no conclusive evidence that the Maine was deliberately sunk either. Appealing to one unproven assertion as support for another unproven assertion demonstrates nothing.

Sorry, I was assuming a common ground that clearly doesn’t exist. I’m not any kind of expert on this but I still find the ICC’s own article pretty convincing on why the US bourgeoisie allowed PH to happen:

https://en.internationalism.org/ir/108_machiavel.htm    

Let’s face it, given the ideological mystification this kind of issue is never going to be ‘established historical fact’ in capitalism, and even reading wikipedia on PH there is a morass of conflicting arguments and sources…

As for the Maine, again using the ICC article, in that particular case the US bourgeoisie deliberately used its accidental sinking as a pretext for war.

But there’s a more fundamental discussion here about how capitalism – which after all at the deepest level is a permanent conspiracy against the working class – both organises and operates. Short story: I think there’s a risk that an emphasis on how the bourgeoisie uses terrorist attacks can end up underestimating just how dangerous an enemy it is. For the same reason I don’t think it is just a point of detail’ to discuss this or that possible conspiracy. 


baboon
I agree with much of what MH

I agree with much of what MH writes above particularly the danger of underestimating the bourgeoisie - one of the main points of which seems to me to be in the article on the Paris bombings.

 

Demo writes that "certainly (there are) plenty of unanswered question (re 9.11) and lots of stuff to be suspicious of" and I don't see this as being much different from "as doubts persisting" in the role of the US state in the bombing. Jamal outlines some of the questions to which I'd add the strange release of the bomber Mohammed Atta from police custody at least once. The warnings of an attack on the twin towers by highjacked aircraft were very clear as were its likely elements.

 

The bourgeoisie doesn't work with a man at the top giving specific orders to underlings to carry out (or not carry out) specific activities in relation to the interests of the state. They are not "guided" in this sense as the French article says but it is there in their class make up. And a very specific part of this make up, a very specific weapon of the ruling class is its intelligence services. Jamal above says that the state doesn't directly create terrorism(ists) but we know that it does and that the CIA, MI6 and the Pakistani ISI created, funded and armed the Taleban network. There are many areas of relationships between imperialism and terrorism but when the intelligence services of the former are not directly creating terrorist factions then surely there's no doubt that they fund, encourage, manipulate and use them. The degree to which this happened on 9.11, or prior to it, is open to doubt but I don't think that it's a possibility that can be dismissed.

 

I think that the example of New Orleans raised by Demo above is an interesting one in this respect. It's not that some elements of the bourgeoisie made some money our of real estate after the floods, that's just a minor point. What greatly contributed to the destruction of the flood was the criminal negligence of the bourgeoisie, it's absolute class contempt for the proletariat expressed in letting the flood happen or rather letting it happen to the extent that it did. The idea that some elements made a bit of money our of the "cleansing" underestimates to me the role played by the bourgeoisie before and during the event. Not only were the poorest neighbourhoods put at greater risk, not only did the state leave the victims to more or less fend for themselves, but having suffered the flood the state unleashed a brutality and terror against its victims. The racist campaign against the victims (where once again the working class was magnificent in aid and solidarity) went global with the "liberal" columnist of the Guardian talking about "black savages" (or words to that effect). This was precisely the line taken by the US bourgeoisie.

 

We can't know the details of 9.11 but can have "doubts" and "suspicions" but the biggest danger is to underestimate the machiavellianism and ruthlessness of the bourgeoisie.

Redacted
baboon, double check that. I

baboon, double check that. I point out both scenarios–direct vs. indirect. Click that link there, too.

Demogorgon
MH wrote:Sorry, I was

MH wrote:
Sorry, I was assuming a common ground that clearly doesn’t exist. I’m not any kind of expert on this but I still find the ICC’s own article pretty convincing on why the US bourgeoisie allowed PH to happen

I should have said this in my previous post, but even if we had cast-iron proof it was, it still doesn't prove 9/11 was also a conspiracy. As I myself pointed, there is plenty of documentary evidence supporting a conspiratorial mode of operating in bourgeois governments of all stripes. The fact that the bourgeoisie can and does act in such a way doesn't mean it does so in every instance.

Joe may be a thief but it doesn't prove that he stole your lunch money.

MH wrote:
Short story: I think there’s a risk that an emphasis on how the bourgeoisie uses terrorist attacks can end up underestimating just how dangerous an enemy it is. For the same reason I don’t think it is just a point of detail’ to discuss this or that possible conspiracy.

This, of course, is based on the assumption that the enemy is as dangerous as you believe it to be. To me it looks like circular reasoning: the bourgeoisie does all sorts of elaborate conspiracies and is very dangerous > not accepting these conspiracies is underestimating the enemy because the bourgeoisie does all sorts of elaborate conspiracies and is very dangerous! I can just as easily reply that conspiracies don't happen and that by insisting they do you're overestimating the class enemy, but that would be equally fallacious.

To try and be a bit clearer, I'm not at all suggesting that the bourgeoisie is not Machiavellian. I believe it is and there is ample evidence from history to support this assertion, some of which I have already presented on the thread. Nonetheless, I think each instance has to be examined in its own terms and I think some of the arguments offered so far to defend a conspiratorial view of 9/11 have been weak. Jamal is an exception is that he has, at least, tried to bring in specific facts and even baboon tried to use the New Amercian Century document, although I don't think it says anything like what he seems to think it does.

MH wrote:
Let’s face it, given the ideological mystification this kind of issue is never going to be ‘established historical fact’ in capitalism

And yet, the US government actually published the documentation on Operation Mongoose which is how we know so much about their strategy against Cuba! Operation Northwoods is established historical fact! One could also add other US conspiracies and black projects that we know happened like the Tuskegee experiments and MK-ULTRA. So it is simply not true that we can never know - of course, it's true that (for the most part) we only know when "they" choose to tell us, although one can also consider Marx's comments on when thieves fall out ...

But something else that worries me, again, is the form of argument you're using here. It seems to be saying that because we can't be sure of conspiracies we ... can be sure there's a conspiracy. I may be doing you a disservice (and feel free to rip me a new one if you think I'm being unfair) but this is the sort of fractured logic that full-fledged conspiraloons employ: a lack of evidence becomes evidence in itself, because it proves the government covers it up!

Unless we are willing to examine these questions with reference to the specific evidence, we end up with a situation where the sorts of argumentation used so far can justify anything. I know the Moon landings were faked, because there was a clear motive and benefit for the US government to pretend to do it. And the flags, look at the flags flapping in the wind! You don't agree? Well I think you're underestimating the class enemy because, after all, conspiracies happen - just look at 9/11!

baboon wrote:
The bourgeoisie doesn't work with a man at the top giving specific orders to underlings to carry out (or not carry out) specific activities in relation to the interests of the state. They are not "guided" in this sense as the French article says but it is there in their class make up. And a very specific part of this make up, a very specific weapon of the ruling class is its intelligence services.

baboon, I'm not at all sure I understand what you're saying here. It sounds like these "conspiracies" happen by accident by people working independently but "in the interests of the state". Leaving aside the fact that you've offered no evidence that Atta et al were working deliberately in the interests of the US state, it sounds more like the US bourgeoisie taking advantage of something that someone else did even though they had no involvement themselves. How does this differ from what I've said?

Of course, for a conspiracy to be a conspiracy, it must involve conscious planning and co-ordination of different elements. Even if we just adhere to a simple "they let it happen" interpretation of 9/11, somebody in the hierarchy of the state made a conscious decision not to push certain lines of enquiry and told their underlings to leave it alone - in other words the exact opposite of what you imply in your post. The more complex the conspiracy, the more people involved, the more planning, etc.

We see in historical examples, high-level planning involved. Operation Mongoose involved the Joint Chiefs and was under the direct control of the Attorney General (Robert Kennedy) and Defence Secretary (Robert McNamara). The Gleiwitz Incident was part of a whole series of separate operations that were part of Operation Himmler (who commissioned the project) and supervised by high-ranking SS officials like Heydrich.

baboon wrote:
What greatly contributed to the destruction of the flood was the criminal negligence of the bourgeoisie, its absolute class contempt for the proletariat expressed in letting the flood happen or rather letting it happen to the extent that it did.

Again, I'm not sure what you're saying here. None of this is unusual behaviour for the bourgeoisie. Unless you're suggesting it was planned neglect (i.e. sooner or later a hurricane or other disaster will hit, let's make sure it hits them hard) as opposed to normal neglect (i.e. this flood defence stuff is costing a shed-load of money, far better to give it to the rich as a tax break), I don't understand the relevance. Providing evidence that the bourgeoisie holds the rest of the population in contempt and doesn't give a shit about what happens to them doesn't prove it has a Machiavellian nature.

On the other hand, you dismiss my argument that elements of the bourgeoisie consciously used these disasters to achieve long-standing social and economic objectives even though it actually offers far better evidence of their Machiavellian nature!

baboon wrote:
We can't know the details of 9.11 but can have "doubts" and "suspicions" but the biggest danger is to underestimate the machiavellianism and ruthlessness of the bourgeoisie.

see my response to MH above. If we want to defend this view of the bourgeoisie (and I'm not opposed to that view), let's actually try and construct some proper arguments to support that view.

MH
thanks for the offer...

 

Demogorgon wrote:

But something else that worries me, again, is the form of argument you're using here. It seems to be saying that because we can't be sure of conspiracies we ... can be sure there's a conspiracy. I may be doing you a disservice (and feel free to rip me a new one if you think I'm being unfair) but this is the sort of fractured logic that full-fledged conspiraloons employ: a lack of evidence becomes evidence in itself, because it proves the government covers it up!

Well yes I do think you are being a bit unfair here … and thanks for the offer  That’s not my position. In fact when it comes to conspiracies on the whole I am pretty sceptical.

We both (all?) agree that the bourgeoisie is machiavellian. But the whole point about Pearl Harbor in the ICC’s article (link above) is surely that (1) this is one of the prime examples of machiavellianism, by the most powerful bourgeoisie in the world, and (2), more specifically, it is a precedent, to be considered when we try to comprehend the significance of the 9/11 attacks. That’s what I mean when I say, the US ruling class has ‘form’ here (as well as a motive). As for the actual extent of its involvement, I’m highly suspicious, but don’t have anything more specific to contribute.

Demogorgon wrote:

Unless we are willing to examine these questions with reference to the specific evidence, we end up with a situation where the sorts of argumentation used so far can justify anything.

Yes I’m all for examining the evidence - which is why I’m surprised you seem to reject the pretty hefty weight of evidence that does exist about the US letting Pearl Harbor happen (I mean good grief they even conducted official enquiries into it, and Churchill refers to it in his memoirs!). But equally (yes I know), the fact that the bourgeoisie choses to reveal details of certain of its operations cannot be taken at face value either; for example during the Cold War there was a vast industry of ‘disinformation’ on both sides… It’s one of the things secret state agencies do. So first and foremost as Marxists we have to rely on the framework of our historical analysis in order to understand what the bourgeoisie is capable of.

And let’s face it, the real problem we face is that many in the revolutionary milieu are so imbued with democratic illusions that they think we’re all ‘conspiraloons’’.

petey
9/11

Demogorgon wrote:

MH wrote:
The idea that the US bourgeoisie ‘organised’ 9/11 is a bit of a straw man anyway since no one here is suggesting it.

It is clearly a possible interpretation of the original "doubts persist ..." quote

that's what i got out of it

Demogorgon wrote:
Jamal thinks the USAF shot down Flight 93 and Petey seems to reject them all out of hand.

i have no opinion on flight 93. the idea that any element of the US govt was involved in the execution of 9/11, well ...

Demogorgon
Controversy requires Clarity

MH wrote:
Yes I’m all for examining the evidence - which is why I’m surprised you seem to reject the pretty hefty weight of evidence that does exist about the US letting Pearl Harbor happen (I mean good grief they even conducted official enquiries into it, and Churchill refers to it in his memoirs!).

I'm not dismissing it, I haven't looked at the arguments for a long time, but the theories around it are controversial, just as 9/11 is, making it a poor example and I didn't think the way you employed it was correct.

You are, of course, quite right that the (verified) examples certainly set a precedent, although see my comments about Joe the Thief.

MH wrote:
And let’s face it, the real problem we face is that many in the revolutionary milieu are so imbued with democratic illusions that they think we’re all ‘conspiraloons’’.

It may well be that many in the milieu are imbued with democratic illusions, although I seem to recall the most recent comments from the ICT on the topic supported the idea of a conspiracy of the "they let it happen" variety and even that the Pentagon attack was faked! See here.

Of course, we might think some people are imbued with democratic illusions, but that's not going to win the argument with them. This is because the conclusion that they victims of these illusions is predicated on the idea that they are illusions i.e. that the Machiavellion vision is true. It's another variant of the "you're underestimating the class enemy!" response.

Demogorgon
petey wrote:the idea that any

petey wrote:
the idea that any element of the US govt was involved in the execution of 9/11, well ...

Now that's just teasing!

MH
reservations on 'machiavellianism'?

Demogorgon wrote:

Of course, we might think some people are imbued with democratic illusions, but that's not going to win the argument with them. This is because the conclusion that they victims of these illusions is predicated on the idea that they are illusions i.e. that the Machiavellion vision is true.

Demo, is it fair to say you are ambivalent about whether it is correct to characterise the bourgeoisie as a machiavellian class or not? Or are the disagreements expressed here more about what exactly we mean when we use the term ‘machiavellianism’?

It does seem to me there is an element of talking at cross purposes. Let’s go back to the original quote from the article that started this thread:

Doubts persist about the breadth of complicity of the US state in the attacks” [on 9/11]

Petey seems to have read this as the ICC saying the US bourgeoisie ‘organised’  9/11, and you think this is “clearly a possible interpretation”. I didn’t write the article, and the author may wish to comment on exactly what they had in mind when they  wrote the sentence, but frankly – wouldn’t  it be very surprising if we, as revolutionary marxists, didn’t have doubts or suspicions about the extent to which the US was involved? Or are we to believe the official version? No, of course not.

It is the extent and specific nature of this involvement that is up for discussion. In the absence of further evidence the ICC is, quite rightly in my opinion, not sticking its neck out, but Jamal and others on this thread have cited various grounds for these doubts and suspicions and, as we’ve already discussed, we have some significant historical precedents in front of us that should lead us to conclude that the US bourgeoisie was perfectly capable of at least having foreknowledge of the planned attacks, and of allowing them to go ahead in order to justify a more aggressive defence of global US imperialist interests.

PS Petey you are still being a little coy about your own views on this subject. Perhaps you could say a bit more?


Fred
Machiavelli and illusions

There's been a lot of talk on this thread  about both Machiavelli and illusions as if the two go hand in hand, but surely they don't? Machiavelli's advice to rulers was to use lies, deceit  and hypocrisy as freely as you like to get your own way.  Anything goes for a "successful" ruler bourgeois style. But the person employing these methods doesn't need to have any  illusions  about what he is doing  he can be open about it with himself, if he wants, or pretend innocence if it suits him. Outsiders observing the Machiavellian at work may be under the illusion that he is a good man  at heart, but this isn't a product of machiavellianism itself, it's just an illusion.  Others may observe that the Machiavellian is a deceitful sod. 

Surely an illusion is a mistaken interpretation of what's going on in general and not merely the product of some Machiavellian deceit. Some people depend for their sustenance on the illusion that there will be a better life after death. You may say that this merely demonstrates the Machiavellian power of religion through the ages. This being the case then machiavellianism takes on a far wider meaning and ultimately becomes more of a philosophy than a limited political technique as this relates to class society. 

I suppose "illusions" are closely related to if not the product of  ideology.  Can human beings actually get through life without illusions? Can we survive our existence in class society without forms of self-deceit - that is to say illusions - that  soften and hide the awful truth and the reality of our condition?

Illusions may be an essential component of our human nature as we at present understand what that is. They most certainly contribute greatly to the bourgeoisie's social Spectacle, and make all the phoniness  appear "true". But whether that relates them to or makes them a product of Machiavelli's theory may be open to question. 

Alf
cunning plans

So Afzal Amin, theTory candidate for Dudley North, a showcase young energetic Asian Muslim, is in trouble for trying to cook up a whole fake scenario with the EDL: the bootboys will threaten a violent demo against a new mosque and then, thanks to the wise and moderating intervention of Mr Amin, they will call it off and all-round tolerance will prevail. But rest assured, in a democracy such behaviour is quite out of bounds, so we the Tory party are sacking him forthwith. http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2015/mar/23/afzal-amin-quits-conserv...

In general, the ruling class is even more conspiratorial than we think. 

baboon
I think that there's some

I think that there's some ambiguity above about the machiavellian nature of the ruling class - a class that has developed machiavellianism and conspiracies to new depths.

We've seen the scope of the Wikileads a few years ago. Most of these revelations could have been,and were, perfectly predictable within a marxist framework in general. There doesn't have to be a smoking gun. We've seen the information from Snowden and whatever one thinks of the internet and the latest technology there's no doubt that the ruling class, through its agencies, can keep close tabs on us 24 hours a day. There is, and has been for a long while (Britain in Ireland), collusion of the state with terriorism and terrorist activities. Does anyone doubt that?

This is not the same thing as "conspiracy theories"; the bourgeoisie even uses the idea of "conspiracy theories" in order to discredit any analysis of its fathomless machiavellianism and ultimately to obscure the real class relationship of wage slavery. "Conspiracy theories" are also a weapon of the left. In the current RI, number 457, there's an artile on the New Anti-capitalist Party leader, Olivier Besancenot, whose latest book comes out with the same old "conspiracies" of the "200 families", the bankers who run everything, and so on, all of this underwritten by the defence of the democratic state. There's the conspiracy that goes from left to right of the Jews pulling all the strings, justifying attacks and pogroms that the bourgeoisie is happy to encourage.

And the article (the latest one) on the Paris bombings make the role of the media very clear. No "conspiracy" is needed when all these outlets are simply fulfilling their class function.

Demogorgon
MH wrote:Demo, is it fair to

MH wrote:
Demo, is it fair to say you are ambivalent about whether it is correct to characterise the bourgeoisie as a machiavellian class or not? Or are the disagreements expressed here more about what exactly we mean when we use the term ‘machiavellianism’?

I totally support the idea of the bourgeoisie being a Machiavellian class. However, that doesn't mean I accept that everything is a conspiracy or that that is necessarily even the most important issue in a particular circumstance. Does it actually matter if Princess Diana was killed by MI5? I actually find it hard to care.

Let's say, for sake of argument, that I reject completely all conspiratorial interpretations of 9/11 (I don't, incidentally). This does not necessarily mean I reject all possibilities of conspiracy in the ruling class, so rejecting 9/11 conspiracies doesn't necessarily mean someone is necessarily rejecting the Machiavellian thesis or underestimating the class enemy.

MH wrote:
wouldn’t  it be very surprising if we, as revolutionary marxists, didn’t have doubts or suspicions about the extent to which the US was involved? Or are we to believe the official version? No, of course not.

I have doubts and suspicions about all sorts of things, but that does not an analysis make. There is a fundamental difference between doubts and suspicions and a proper analysis of an event which can only be done on a case-by-case basis.

And why shouldn't we believe the official version? Should I doubt the official story about the Moon Landings? Or Princess Diana? Automatically rejecting (or accepting) "the official story" is not analysis or critical thinking, it's just picking and choosing what we want to believe on tthe basis of our preconceptions. Let's face facts, all the information that we get is from the bourgeoisie but sometimes we fall over ourselves to accept it - especially when it says the economy is in recession!

MH wrote:
It is the extent and specific nature of this involvement that is up for discussion.

Only in those situations where we're agreed there was a conspiracy at all. Do we need to discuss just how far the US went to fake the Moon Landings or MI5's involvement in Diana's death?

There is certainly plenty to be suspicious of around 9/11 but we should also be cautious on how we interpret evidence. The document on the New American Century cited by baboon is a case in point. If you're already convinced there was a conspiracy, you can interpret the document to support it. If you don't start from that framework, the document says nothing of the kind.

Personally, I think it was a mistake to include the phrase about "doubts and suspicions" in the article as it introduced an unnecessary and obfuscating controversy into an article that made a very different point about the bourgeoisie's Machiavellian nature.

But what is really interesting about this thread is how the point seems to have become a shibboleth for determining who has "democratic illusions" or not and yet the shibboleth seems built on circular logic. Even if our underlying conclusions are correct, we need far better methods of arguing for them.

MH wrote:
So Afzal Amin, theTory candidate for Dudley North, a showcase young energetic Asian Muslim, is in trouble for trying to cook up a whole fake scenario with the EDL

And so soon after the Trojan Horse scandal as well. Conspiracy is alive and well in the West Midlands! At least, that's what the official story tells us . Look, too, at how quickly it was exposed. It's hard to keep even silly little conspiracies like this secret these days - what's a Machiavellian to do?

Redacted
What about the so called

What about the so called "shadow government" or "secret state" that some people refer to?  I get the sense these concepts play a major part here. Is the "democratic" capitalist state a total front or a hapless bueracracy? A mixture of both?

Demogorgon
Jamal wrote:What about the so

Jamal wrote:
What about the so called "shadow government" or "secret state" that some people refer to?  I get the sense these concepts play a major part here. Is the "democratic" capitalist state a total front or a hapless bueracracy? A mixture of both?

I prefer the concept of an iceberg state. You can see parts of it and, strictly speaking, what you see is real. It's the bits you can't see that provide context and can hole your boat when you're not looking.

KT
The consciousness and organisation of the bouegeoisie

"Read more", "read deeper" isn't always a popular response when the issues seem unclear or the point of discussion diffuse. However, I think the two texts linked here, from 1982, illuminate certain basics.

And, as the introduction points out, the issue of the organisastion and consciousness of the bourgeoisie has proved a difficult one for the revolutionary milieu in general and the ICC in particular. "In order to overcome an enemy, you have to know him, and never underestimate him"....

https://en.internationalism.org/internationalreview/198210/2952/machiavellianism-and-consciousness-and-unity-bourgeoisie

 

 

 

 

petey
macchiavel

Alf wrote:

So Afzal Amin, theTory candidate for Dudley North, a showcase young energetic Asian Muslim, is in trouble for trying to cook up a whole fake scenario with the EDL: the bootboys will threaten a violent demo against a new mosque and then, thanks to the wise and moderating intervention of Mr Amin, they will call it off and all-round tolerance will prevail. But rest assured, in a democracy such behaviour is quite out of bounds, so we the Tory party are sacking him forthwith. http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2015/mar/23/afzal-amin-quits-conserv...

In general, the ruling class is even more conspiratorial than we think. 

this is generalizing from a single instance. we don't need to impute evil-mastermind status to capitalists to see the effects of capital on the lives of workers, and we're not obliged to assume it unless you can show that it's the norm. what they do right up front in the open is bad enough. does the deceit practiced by purveyors of three-card-monte somehow characterize those in precarious positions? rightwingers might like you to think that. and how would assuming the macchiavellianism of the r/c affect a political program?

baboon
Regarding the Dudley North

Regarding the Dudley North "scandal", I would imagine that the sort of machinations that Afzal Amin got up to in this one small incident was very much on the curriculem at Sandhurst where he trained, but much more as a studied, entrenched and historical weapon of British imperialism. This sort of British intelligence manipulation and "know-how" has been perfected in this country over centuries, used for its own manipulations abroad and exported to the most brutal ruling classes (further cementing British interests and ties) The "crime" of Amin in the eyes of his political class was abusing these strategies for his own petty short-term gain.

 

In relation to the way that the bourgeoisie uses "conspiracy theories" to discredit any marxist analysis of it being a conspiratorial class it's interesting that Demo puts a possible involvement of some elements of the US state in 9.11 on the same level as a fake moon landing or MI6's involvement in the death of the Princess Diana.

Demogorgon
petey wrote:this is

petey wrote:
this is generalizing from a single instance

It would be if it was the only example given on the thread. But there is plenty of evidence of other, proven "conspiracies" by various capitalist states and factions within them throughout history.

petey wrote:
we don't need to impute evil-mastermind status to capitalists to see the effects of capital on the lives of workers, and we're not obliged to assume it unless you can show that it's the norm.

The bourgeoisie aren't evil masterminds. This is why overarching conspiracies that somehow involve the entire bourgeois class (or twisted representations thereof, like the Illuminati, the Elders of Zion, etc.) are clearly false. The conspiratorial nature of the bourgeoisie derive from its factional and fragmented nature, not its limited capacity for unity. In other words, its conspiracies are first and foremost carried out by one faction against another as the rather incompetent example of Amin shows. One might also point to the attempts by Brown to unseat Blair.

That's not to say they (or factions thereof) don't conspire against workers, too. Again, we have the example of the way the entire German bourgeoisie and their political appendages united against the German Revolution, with support from enemy states. This is quite exceptional though - and the alliance eventually fell apart as demonstrated by the Kapp Putsch.

Quote:
and how would assuming the macchiavellianism of the r/c affect a political program?

A very good question.

baboon wrote:
In relation to the way that the bourgeoisie uses "conspiracy theories" to discredit any marxist analysis of it being a conspiratorial class it's interesting that Demo puts a possible involvement of some elements of the US state in 9.11 on the same level as a fake moon landing or MI6's involvement in the death of the Princess Diana.

Please do explain what's so interesting about it.

baboon
I find it difficult to follow

I find it difficult to follow the position of Demo in this discussion. There are "questions" over 9.11 he says but there are not. I find the argument that questions about 9.11 possible state involvement as being on the same level as a fake moon landing and other such nonsense as being an "interesting" approach that raises more questions about what an underestanding of "conspiracy" is.  I think that the description of the machiavellianism of the bourgeoisie exoressed in the post above by Demo is clearer and, in my opinion, is too restricted and certainly underestimates its development with state capitalism.

Demogorgon
Reply to Baboon

Demogorgon wrote:
Unless we are willing to examine these questions with reference to the specific evidence, we end up with a situation where the sorts of argumentation used so far can justify anything. I know the Moon landings were faked, because there was a clear motive and benefit for the US government to pretend to do it. And the flags, look at the flags flapping in the wind! You don't agree? Well I think you're underestimating the class enemy because, after all, conspiracies happen - just look at 9/11!

This is where I first mentioned the Moon landings. It's quite clear that I was using the examples of fake Moon landings, etc. to show how your (and MH's) form of argument can be used to justify any conspiracy, no matter how ridiculous. Even when a flawed argument is used to defend a correct position, it is still a flawed argument and serves only to convince those already convinced. It also makes the correct position more difficult to defend.

For the record: I think it's possible that the US state had an idea that a major attack was going to be carried out and allowed it. I see little evidence for anything beyond that though and there are many things about the response to the attacks that can certainly be attributed to incompetence or unpreparedness rather than conspiracy. (Such as the interceptors launched against Flight 93 who were unarmed and prepared to ram the plane instead ... but just couldn't find it!) It's actually shocking just how undefended US airspace was back then.

However, that is an opinion on my part, not an evidenced analysis. And, as an opinion, it leaves lots to be desired because it really says little of use. It's possible it might be raining but that's no use if I'm trying to decide to put my washing out. What I want to know is if it is actually raining! You can point to all sorts of precedents about how it's rained in the past, but that doesn't prove it's raining now. You might warn me I'm underestimating the weather if I assume it's going to be a sunny day, but that doesn't prove it's raining either.

If your sole claim in this discussion is that it's possible the state was involved in 9/11 then I concede defeat, although it's not really much of a defeat because it's really not much of a claim. And my next question will be do you think it's possible that MI6 assassinated Diana ...

But, if you (or I for that matter) are going to start making bolder claims that it's likely the state was involved, then much better evidence is going to being needed.

MH
What is the real debate here?

Let’s just remind ourselves how this began; the comments of baboon and myself on this thread have been essentially to support the ICC’s article on the Paris attacks, which included the sentence, “Doubts persist about the breadth of complicity of the US state in the attacks.”

 

baboon wrote:

So I think that it's entirely sober and accurate to say that "doubts persist about the breadth of complicty of the US state in the attacks".

baboon wrote:

We can't know the details of 9.11 but can have "doubts" and "suspicions" but the biggest danger is to underestimate the machiavellianism and ruthlessness of the bourgeoisie.

MH wrote:

…frankly – wouldn’t it be very surprising if we, as revolutionary marxists, didn’t have doubts or suspicions about the extent to which the US was involved?

No one here as far as I can see is seriously suggesting the US bourgeoisie “organised” 9/11, so let’s put that one to bed.

Demogorgon wrote:

For the record: I think it's possible that the US state had an idea that a major attack was going to be carried out and allowed it. I see little evidence for anything beyond that …”

Good, so we’re largely agreed then?

Demogorgon wrote:

However, that is an opinion on my part, not an evidenced analysis. And, as an opinion, it leaves lots to be desired because it really says little of use. It's possible it might be raining but that's no use if I'm trying to decide to put my washing out. What I want to know is if it is actually raining! You can point to all sorts of precedents about how it's rained in the past, but that doesn't prove it's raining now. You might warn me I'm underestimating the weather if I assume it's going to be a sunny day, but that doesn't prove it's raining either.

OK, maybe not…

Seriously, I think where I agree with Demo is that there is a danger here of focussing too heavily on specific conspiracies. Instead I think we should be discussing what we mean when we say the bourgeoisie is a machiavellian class – another thing we all here seem to agree on, at least in principle.

Demogorgon wrote:

The conspiratorial nature of the bourgeoisie derive from its factional and fragmented nature, not its limited capacity for unity. In other words, its conspiracies are first and foremost carried out by one faction against another as the rather incompetent example of Amin shows. One might also point to the attempts by Brown to unseat Blair.

This is where I think we need to take up KT’s suggestion to put our discussion of conspiracies in a wider and deeper framework. The conspiratorial nature of the bourgeoisie surely derives not from its ‘factional and fragmented nature’ but from its very nature as an exploiting class, with common class interests vis a vis its class enemy?

baboon
The bourgeoisie fragmented against the working class?

I think that that's the quote from Demo, taken up by MH above, that points to the fundamental difference of opinion here. For Demo the machiavellianism of the bourgeoisie, its "conspiracies", derive from its fragmented, factional and incompetent nature. Whereas another opinion, one firmly backed by marxism, is that there is, particularly with the development of state capitalism and the militarisation of society, an "organic" development of the machiavellianism of the bourgeoisie both in relation to its imperialist imperatives but also in relation to the working class (as the Paris attack article shows). In France after the attacks the bourgeoisie of the discredited left moved itself - with the backing of the whole state - into a position of strong leadership. The FN for example was completely sidelined as surplus to requirements after the event. For me, the already existing machiavellianism and conspiratorial nature of the bourgeoisie is further developed by the constant refinments to state capitalism and the development of the totalitarian state..Rather than a falling apart in relation to the major social issues facing the ruling class we rather see, at the levels of the national interest, a major development in the coherence of the bourgeoisie - which further develops and strengthens its machiavellianism.

Redacted
A must watch.
Demogorgon
baboon wrote:For Demo the

baboon wrote:
For Demo the machiavellianism of the bourgeoisie, its "conspiracies", derive from its fragmented, factional and incompetent nature.

Nowhere do I say that the bourgeoisie is incompetent. At best, I say there were elements in the military response to the 9/11 crisis (specifically, the interceptor response). Factional doesn't mean incompetent. This is like saying that because war expresses the divided nature of the bourgeoisie, the bourgeoisie is incompetent at war. Clearly this is not the case. It is because bourgeois economic and political life involves constant manoeuvring against enemies and rivals that they're so damn good at it!

baboon wrote:
Whereas another opinion, one firmly backed by marxism, is that there is, particularly with the development of state capitalism and the militarisation of society, an "organic" development of the machiavellianism of the bourgeoisie both in relation to its imperialist imperatives but also in relation to the working class (as the Paris attack article shows).

You imply disparity where none exists. The machiavellian nature of the bourgeoisie stems, first and foremost, from its inherent nature as a divided class. This division is first and foremost expressed in competition, the fundamental expression of private property and money. Conspiracies and Machiavellianism are the political and ideological expressions of an alienated, divided consciousness which pits each against all. State capitalism cannot and does not overcome this - it simply changes its form. While there is a tendency for bourgeois forces to unify behind the state, this doesn't prevent competition within the state and (as we probably agree) those aspects of competition that are muted reappear on the international stage as ... imperialism.

None of this means that the bourgeoisie cannot conspire against the proletariat and nowhere have I said it doesn't. But the bourgeoisie is not and never can be a fully unified class. Ever. It can unite around collective interests - and the more these are threatened, the greater the pressure to unite - but it can never truly unify either in fact or at the level of its consciousness. Even when the bourgeoisie confronted the most serious threat to its rule in the German revolution, within two years the right-wing splintered and led the Kapp Putsch which then triggered the Ruhr uprising! That did force a reunification of the bourgeoisie, of course.

Most conspiracies are the product, not of the bourgeoisie as a whole, but of small parts of it (usually within the state) and are always under threat from rival factions which can threaten to expose them for their own ends. Blair's ill-fated "Dodgy Dossier" - a "conspiracy", if you like, to deceive the masses and certain parts of the political apparatus as well - was obliterated almost as soon as it was published. Why? Because factions of the British ruling class felt the headlong flight into war threatened their interests. (Contrast this to the 1st Gulf War where the press largely united around the government agenda).

Indeed, one of the arguments against a far-reaching conspiracy around 9/11 (i.e. of the more spectacular kind with cruise missiles, deliberately "losing" the planes, etc.) is to look at the ICC analysis of the US ruling class in the late 90s, early 00s. We saw the long campaigns against Clinton by the right as a product of destabilisation in the ruling class. Similarly, we saw Bush's election as a "mistake" i.e. that the bourgeoisie had lost control of the electoral process. The "conspiracy" to take down Clinton, the briefings against Bush by the security services during his second presidential campaign, etc. all show how this constant manoeuvring takes place within the ruling class. As I pointed out earlier, 9/11 wasn't just used to justify war but also to push forward the specific interests of the Bush faction as well.

Given all these factors, I think it's perfectly justified to say that the bourgeoisie's conspiratorial nature derives from its fractured consciousness and internicine squabbling. Like the capitalist system they embody, the bourgeoisie contains a fundamental contradiction between division and unity, which it can only mediate in a contingent fashion, never overcome.

That, in my view, is the correct framework within which to approach this question.

baboon
That the machiavellianism of

That the machiavellianism of the bourgeoisie comes from its being as a class, with all that that entails, I'll agree with that. Competitive, contradictory, faction fighting, I'll agree with all that.But the article above, and that's the discussion, shows that in France, very quickly, the bourgeoisie unified because it was far-sighted and naturally conspiratorial on the level of the national interest. The Front Nationale, which you thought might have got involved in an "immigrant" issue, was completely silenced, overwhelmed by the force of the state and the campaign and repression that it suddenly unleashed.

 

I think that the British mainstream media, led by the BBC, has fully supported all the wars and major foreign policy decisions of the British state over decades.

 

I have some disagreements with points raised about crashes, etc., over 9.11 but also think that there are some questions - particularly given the nature of the bourgeoisie.

Demogorgon
baboon wrote:But the article

baboon wrote:
But the article above, and that's the discussion, shows that in France, very quickly, the bourgeoisie unified because it was far-sighted and naturally conspiratorial on the level of the national interest. The Front Nationale, which you thought might have got involved in an "immigrant" issue, was completely silenced, overwhelmed by the force of the state and the campaign and repression that it suddenly unleashed.

In other words, the dominant fractions of the bourgeoisie exerted control over the weaker ones. It was not the case that they "united" in some sort of voluntary way, with the fascists falling on their swords to defend the national interest. And it might also be that the dominant factions didn't want the fascists taking advantage of the situation to advance their own interests to the detriment of those dominant factions.

(Edit: I am, of course, not saying that the bourgeoisie doesn't work together to maintain its ideological domination in a general sense. But, as you yourself state earlier in the thread, this isn't a "conspiracy" in the normal sense of the word but a function of the ideological frameworks in which the various media and political apparatus function. I doubt the state is calling up editors to tell them what line to take - each outlet rallies around the flag spontaneously, while pushing forward its own particular interests at the same time.

From the perspective of the working class, of course, all these elements of the bourgeoisie work together to carry out its ideological repression because they all, at the end of the day, share a bourgeois ideology. But this isn't necessarily a conscious exericse with the various political line-ups consciously planned by some co-ordinating chessmaster moving Milliband further to the left in response to the class struggle. Milliband does this himself in pursuing his own interests, which always correspond with capital because he's ... well, a capitalist.)

baboon wrote:
I think that the British mainstream media, led by the BBC, has fully supported all the wars and major foreign policy decisions of the British state over decades.

It was the BBC who led on the exposure of the Dodgy Dossier, leading to Gilligan's dismissal and public investigations into David Kelly's death (about which, ironically, there are also loads of conspiracy theories!). The whole episode did irreparable damage to the Blair administration and undermined the case for war, which is why the BBC was punished for it. I'm not disputing the BBC was, in fact, one of the most pro-war media outlets (I believe an academic study pointed this out) but the idea that there was an overarching unity in the ruling class and press (in the UK at least) to support all wars is ludicrous.

On the other hand, there were certainly behind-the-scenes "conspiracies" to push forward the drive to war. Correspondence between Bush and Blair shows they agreed on war regardless of UN votes or weapon inspector results, etc. in contrast to their public statements. And, you'll be heartened to hear that apparently Bush even suggested painting a spyplane in UN colours, flying it over Iraq in the hope that Saddam would shoot it down, giving them justification for the war.

Redacted
3:00 of this video

3:00 of this video is pretty compelling evidence the US government was involved in the downing of flight 93.

Demogorgon
No, it's evidence that they

No, it's evidence that they were prepared to do it.  By their own admission, we know they were willing and we know they tried. This has never been a secret. As I mentioned previously, they launched unarmed interceptors and the pilots were prepared to ram the plane if necessary. As it turned out, they couldn't find the plane because (unknown at the time) it had already crashed.

The official reports highlighted in your video actually highlight the confusion in the upper echelons around the entire incident. They thought some planes might be down, but had no AARs confirming how it had happened. Essentially, the whole apparatus seems to have been running on rumour.

According to the official account, of course.

Given that they freely admit that they were going to bring the plane down, that they launched interceptors with that specific mission, what do you think they gain by covering up their alleged success?

Redacted
How do you explain why Dick

How do you explain why Dick Cheney had already given the order to shoot the plane down, and even thought the plane was downed? That's not simple "confusion". When the vice president says "Shoot it down" there are no "whoopsy" moments.

Demogorgon
It is not in dispute that

It is not in dispute that Cheney gave the order. Nor is it in dispute that they tried to do it. Giving an order doesn't guarantee that those carrying it out will be successful. So that is not evidence that they actually managed to shoot the plane down. Similarly, because someone at the top of the chain of command, having to deal with hundreds of bits of information coming through to him from different sources, lots of it contradictory, thinks the plane is shot down doesn't mean it was. Cheney didn't even have any military training to my knowledge and wasn't trained to deal with those sorts or processes. Moreover, his involvement was a matter of giving political authorisation - he wasn't managing the operation itself.

There's a reason why the expression "fog of war" exists. It is astoundingly difficult to get accurate real-time battle information even in the best of circumstances. That is why the definitive account of a battle is usually given in the AARs not from what this or that individual thought at this or that point in the actual process.

I'm not at all sure what this issue even means for our political analysis. We know they wanted to shoot it down - they've admitted it. We know they tried - they've admitted it. The only point in dispute here is whether they succeeded. Is the point here that they are ruthless? Hardly a revelation.

Or is it just that they covered something up? Well, we know that they do, but why would they want to cover this up? And more to the point, why would they cover it up and then make a startling number of admissions?

Let's say I kill Amelia and leave her for dead, taking steps to cover up my involvement. Why would I then openly admit that I wanted to kill Amelia and tried to kill Amelia when I could just quietly walk away and deny the whole thing?

To sum up: I see no evidence that they succeeded in shooting down F93 and I see no motive for them denying it had they actually succeeded.

Demogorgon
I missed this first time

I missed this first time around for some reason: "When the vice president says "Shoot it down" there are no "whoopsy" moments."

You're assuming the US military had the capacity and competence to carry out the VP's orders, come what may. Given that the point you are trying to demonstrate is that they did have the competence to carry out the VP's orders, this is a circular argument.

baboon
I certainly think that the

I certainly think that the French ruling class, or elements of it that it has given the job to, as well as its natural inclinations, was acting in an entirely conscious, Machiavellian way, as a class, when it used the Paris attacks to strengthen its imperialist imperatives and it also used the attacks in order to immediately ramp up its ideological and repressive attacks against the working class, again with an eye to the future. This is the point.

This below is the position that I defend on the role of the media in the major democracies: “From this point of view, “free expression” or “freedom of the press”, much vaunted today after the attacks, have always been illusions knowingly maintained by the dominant class. Not only because the media and the official speeches are the emanation of capitalist property, but because straightaway they show their allegiance to the bourgeois state without it being necessary for anyone to ”guide” them or to systematically dictate the content of their propaganda. Nepotism and clientism are well known among a good number of journalists and the collusion of the media with leading politicians are thus only purely anecdotal consequences and not the cause of their docility.  Any real, critical opposition, anything that calls the capitalist state into question, has no place in the media and it will not be accepted or disseminated by it. “Freedom of expression” is in reality summed up in speeches that are subordinate to the state, to the laws and values of capitalism.” (“Paris killings – an excuse for increased militarisation” – on this website).

Demo says: “... the idea that there was an overwhelming unity in the ruling class and the press (in the UK at least) to support all wars is ludicrous”. Well, ludicrous as it may seem to Demo that’s my position. In order to counter this Demo gives the example of what he thinks is some sort of dissenting BBC, going against the Blair government and its plans for war in the Gulf by bringing up the question of a “dodgy dossier” (i.e., information showing that the WMD that Iraq was supposed to possess was lies). First of all during the build up to the war and its execution, I only met one worker who supported the Iraq War and I would say that generally very few people “believed” in the war. The BBC, as well as bringing up the “dodgy dossier” question did its bit to counter this scepticism by showing old chlorine drums and suggesting they were WMD’s, as well as other “ludicrous” stories like “uranium from Niger” In order to support the war effort – stories that the British intelligence services were also putting about. Andrew Gilligan, a BBC reporter, got a “scoop” from a close source who was involved in weapons inspection in Iraq who told him that, contrary to the dossier, there were no weapons of mass destruction. Andrew Gilligan’s source, David Kelly, was outed by someone at the BBC to the government and immediately enormous pressure was put upon him particularly from the Blair/government press department, pressure which undoubtedly led to the poor man taking his own life. To add insult to mortal injury various newspapers, from attributable government ministers and non-attributable sources, denigrated and slandered David Kelly before he was even buried. Demo here again uses the general, wacky “conspiracy theories” ploy in order to downplay the role of the state in the death of David Kelly. The British state didn’t actually cut his wrists but they forced him into doing it.

Gilligan, the cowardly rat (what do you expect?), eventually apologised to the government saying some of his story was wrong and resigned from the BBC. He now has a very well paid job as a reporter for Sky. The BBC’s Director General and Chairman resigned and the BBC gave a public and unreserved apology to the government for the story which it said was wrong. I see nothing in this that contradicts the unity of the British state in the approach to war; nothing in Demo’s arguments that contradicts this overarching unity of the British state in the face of the war in Sierra Leone, the Falklands, Libya, Bosnia, Kosovo, Afghanistan and so on.

After a bit of a hiccup, i.e. the BBC making some sort of effort to remain credible, in this conspiracy to go to war, where the BBC realised that it couldn’t just support the march to war like some Stalinist news outlet, particularly in the face of widespread disbelief (well before the “dodgy dossier” ).The bourgeoisie was well aware of the of the general disbelief in the population about the need to go war and they all came together under the flag: the intelligence services, the military, the government and its media. Certainly there was a faction fight going on between the Murdoch empire and the BBC at the time with the former constantly laying into the latter. But this was entirely secondary. To say that the BBC was in some way dissenting here is similar to those that constantly talk about the “left-wing bias” of the BBC.
 

Demogorgon
I honestly don't see what you

I honestly don't see what you think this proves, baboon. All you've done is demonstrate that there was clearly a disharmony within the BBC on the question of supporting the war, which demonstrates the paucity of your conclusion that the entire state and media supported it. You're also forgetting that Channel 4 shredded the Dodgy Dossier far more effectively that the BBC did (whose dispute was basically limited to the "45 minutes" claim) in revealing the fact it had been cribbed from a students PhD thesis.

My point about the "Dodgy Dossier" - and the dissent within the media was not at all limited to this, either - is that this breaking of ranks was an unusual occurrance. It is extremely rare in television news (especially within the BBC) for there to be genuinely critical pieces on UK foreign policy. As you say, "any real, critical opposition, anything that calls the capitalist state into question, has no place in the media and it will not be accepted or disseminated by it". Except, in this case that happened, and we have to explain why that happened.

The explanation is simple. It's long been the ICC analysis that there is a split in the UK bourgeoisie over imperialist strategy. While all sides are united in attempting to maintain the UK's position as an independent imperialist power, the UK no longer sets the global agenda and are forced to tack towards those that do. Crudely speaking, there is a faction that thinks Britain is served by tack towards the US - another that favours a more independent strategy, by making alliances in Europe. (A far more nuanced analysis than I can develop in this post can be found here.)

So, factions of the the UK bourgeoisie were not at all convinced about the strategy of the Blair government and its tail-ending of the US. Providing support in Kosovo and Afghanistan had netted nothing for the UK (Blair practically had to beg Bush to be allowed to fire a cruise missile in the latter conflict). This support was, in fact, having the effect of subordinating the UK to the US more and more.

The widespread criticism of the various justifications for war, most of which were discredited before the ink had even dried on them, was part of the effort of this faction to put a stop to the damage Blair's far-too-close unity with the US was doing. The sacking of Gilligan, the pressure put on Kelly, etc. was part of a counter-strike by the Blair faction which had the unfortunate side-effect (in their twisted view) that it tipped Kelly over the edge.

The ruling class have been fighting over the Blair legacy ever since, with endless public enquiries, etc.

The problem with your method is that you turn an observation which is often true ("any real, critical opposition, anything that calls the capitalist state into question, has no place in the media and it will not be accepted or disseminated by it") into an article of faith. Because nothing critical can appear in the media, anything that appears to be critical in the media, by definition, cannot be critical. It must, therefore, be some sort of clever strategy by the bourgeoisie which is just pretending to be disunited. The proposition becomes absolutely impossible to disprove because any evidence that is offered to support the idea by definition cannot support the idea. If the bourgeoisie appears to be fragmented on an issue it is just 'clever strategy'.

In other words, when evidence against the unity of the bourgeoisie is found you think it means just more evidence of how clever they are in pretending to be disunited when they are actually united! It is exactly the same logical structure that the 'conspiraloons' employ: when you point out evidence against conspiracy, you're told it's actually proof of the conspiracy! This is why I continually refer you to the 'wacky conspiracies' - you use the same method of argument that they do.

Using your method, how are we ever to distinguish between genuine division in the ruling class and their unity in the face of the working class? Should we view the absolutely vicious internicine war concerning Europe as a 'clever trick' or a genuine division? Is the rise of the nationalist bourgeoisies in the UK that nearly ruptured the Union in the Scottish Independence vote not so long ago all just a clever diversion or a chronic expression of the decomposition of the ruling class? If the appearance of a campaign to undermine a government's drive to war (one of the most serious things a bourgeois government can do!) isn't enough to convince of disunity then what is?

baboon
As I said above I think that

As I said above I think that the bourgeoisie is riven by divisions, competition and tensions but its fundamental nature makes it a conspiratorial class par excellence. That it can be divisive within itself and fundamentally coherent shouldn't surprise us at all and in the major centres of capitalism, it is the latter tendency that dominates. Thus there are regiional divisions within the bourgeoisie in Britain but there are also impositions of regiional divisions made by the bourgeoisie in a conscious development of a "clever strategy" as you put it. 

 The bourgeoisie is perfectly capable of pretending to be disunited - at the moment the British ruling class, and several distinct elements of it are involved in an election process that is totally fruadulant. That process can become more difficult as the crisis bites but that doesn't at all undermine the machiavellianism of the bourgeoisie. So they can be disunited at one level but, from a marxist point of view, united.

I don't at all accept your arguments about the BBC over the Gulf War. The slimeball Andrew Gilligan got hold of a dynamite story from a source who was disgusted about the propaganda that he knew to be wrong and, unfortunately for him, gave the story to Gilligan and the BBC who grassed him up to the security service. David Kelly was a victim of a conspiracy of the state - he killed himself let's be clear about that - but he was hounded to death by the state. The role of the BBC was exactly that of the media detailed in the Paris attack's article.

Certainly there's been tensions within the British state over support for US imperialism, particularly in the New World Order (ex-Yugoslavia) but, basically, the policy of British imperialism has been to stick to the US like shit to a blanket. There may be some elements that want to support China, Russia or Germany but I haven't heard of them - not that I'm in the loop.

As for public enquiries causing the bourgeoisie problems or expressing problems - I don't think so. Read the latest article on Mexico which shows how the ruling class uses these enquiies - intelligently and in a completely machiavellian way - to bolster its class rule.

When positing on libcom and trying to make some point about the bourgeois state the riposte generally went along the lines that you're a conspiracy loon, that you were putting forward the idea that every bourgeois element was in touch with each other and knew exactly what they were doing. Any attempt to point to actual expirences that inidcated the bourgeoisie had conspired (Pearl Harbour, say) was dismissed out of hand.

baboon
p.s.

Ther is no alternative European imperialist unity for the British bourgeoisie to want into. There never has been.

MH
again on machiavellianism

I think this has been a productive thread so far, because there has been a development of the main arguments as well as some convergence of views. I agree with Demo that conspiracies and ‘scandals’ can often be explained by real differences within the ruling class over which imperialism to back.

baboon wrote:

Ther is no alternative European imperialist unity for the British bourgeoisie to want into. There never has been.

No, but that doesn’t stop it desperately trying to assert a more independent line. The ‘phone-hacking scandal’ is a good case in point, which we have analysed as an attempt by the British bourgeoisie to put the squeeze on the Murdoch empire, who was seen as too pro-American, in an attempt to assert its independent imperialist interests.

But…

Demogorgon wrote:

The machiavellian nature of the bourgeoisie stems, first and foremost, from its inherent nature as a divided class.

This division is first and foremost expressed in competition, the fundamental expression of private property and money. Conspiracies and Machiavellianism are the political and ideological expressions of an alienated, divided consciousness which pits each against all. State capitalism cannot and does not overcome this - it simply changes its form. While there is a tendency for bourgeois forces to unify behind the state, this doesn't prevent competition within the state and (as we probably agree) those aspects of competition that are muted reappear on the international stage as ... imperialism.

This line of argument is what concerns me. Firstly because I think it’s wrong; the machiavellian nature of the bourgeoisie stems, first and foremost, from its nature as an exploiting class. Secondly because it underestimates the significance of state capitalism as the way the bourgeoisie organises itself in decadence, and thirdly, for the same reason, because if followed rigorously it risks underestimating the danger to the working class posed by state capitalism.

It’s wrong, because the bourgeoisie is both divided, due to the inherent competition and anarchy of capitalist production, and united by certain common interests vis a vis the exploited class.

There are enough examples of this unity in action even when the bourgeoisie was a progressive, revolutionary class; indeed, it is precisely in the era of bourgeois revolutions that the capitalist class learns its machiavellian craft; we only have to recall how the different factions of the English bourgeoisie united behind Cromwell in order to deal with the threat from the Levellers to see this… They didn’t need a unified consciousness to do it.

How much more true is this in decadence, with the development of state capitalism and the mortal threat of proletarian revolution facing the entire ruling class?

We will all agree that the greater danger today is to under-estimate the intelligence of the bourgeoisie, its ability to manoeuvre and scheme against the working class. For this reason, baboon is absolutely right to emphasise “the development of state capitalism and the militarisation of society, an "organic" development of the machiavellianism of the bourgeoisie both in relation to its imperialist imperatives but also in relation to the working class (as the Paris attack article shows).”

Demogorgon
baboon wrote:The bourgeoisie

baboon wrote:
The bourgeoisie is perfectly capable of pretending to be disunited - at the moment the British ruling class, and several distinct elements of it are involved in an election process that is totally fruadulant. That process can become more difficult as the crisis bites but that doesn't at all undermine the machiavellianism of the bourgeoisie. So they can be disunited at one level but, from a marxist point of view, united.

The key to this issue is found in your last sentence here baboon. From a proletarian perspective, the bourgeoisie is united against it. To take the election as an example, it doesn't matter from a workers' point of view who gets in because each faction is a bourgeois faction. In that sense, the election is fraudulent. But that's not the same as the election being literally fraudulent in the way they are in banana republics. There is real competition between factions and a debate within the ruling class about the best way to manage its affairs - and in decomposition even more so. Each faction is manipulating the electorate for sure, but to achieve its own ends, to push its own coterie into power or to at least gain influence.

Now, that's not to say that there is a certain unity about the big issues. The vast majority support parliamentary democracy as the system that best preserves their class rule. All will defend that. They all obviously defend the national interest (although there are differences in how exactly that interest is perceived - particularly for the nationalist bourgeois factions like the SNP, etc.).

baboon wrote:
I don't at all accept your arguments about the BBC over the Gulf War.

And yet you seem incapable of responding to any of the evidence or arguments I've presented! You completely ignore Channel 4's role in criticising the Dodgy Dossier, not to mention all the other criticism there was of government propaganda. Instead, you talk about the "slimeball" Gilligan and the BBC who grassed him to the security services. Isn't there one tiny little bit of information you're forgetting here? That they broadcast the story and essentially accused the government of lying about the case for war?!! On the one hand, you're claiming that the BBC and the state are an integrated propaganda machine and the next you're suggesting that one man can go on national television on a whim and denigrate the government campaign! Basically, your argument comes down to an individual attack on Gilligan (forgetting the editors and producers who checked and approved the story). The same story was reported by other BBC reporters and the Daily Mail (!) published a piece by Gilligan as well repeating the allegations.

In other words, a significant portion of the media lined up around this. Yet you seem incapable of even acknowledging or responding to these facts, let alone providing a framework for explaining them.

baboon wrote:
As for public enquiries causing the bourgeoisie problems or expressing problems - I don't think so.

This is another example of fractured logic. Firstly, we're talking about the Hutton Inquiry not the situation in Mexico. Even if I accepted your interpretation about the Mexico events (full disclosure: I haven't reread the article and don't have time to.) that doesn't mean that the same analysis applies to the Hutton Inquiry. You are repeating the same structure of argument that I have already critiqued earlier in this thread: Event X was a conspiracy: therefore Event Y was a conspiracy. I shouldn't have to explain what's wrong with this again.

baboon wrote:
the ruling class uses these enquiies - intelligently and in a completely machiavellian way - to bolster its class rule

Of course the ruling class can use these things to bolster its class rule. That is because, like brand competition, like elections and like wars, whoever wins, we lose. That is because the entire affair is carried out within a bourgeoise framework and all the factions are part of bourgeoisie. That doesn't mean all these things are just a set-up. (I am, of course, not saying that there are never set-ups. That would just be the mirror image of your fundamental error.)

baboon wrote:
When positing on libcom and trying to make some point about the bourgeois state the riposte generally went along the lines that you're a conspiracy loon, that you were putting forward the idea that every bourgeois element was in touch with each other and knew exactly what they were doing. Any attempt to point to actual expirences that inidcated the bourgeoisie had conspired (Pearl Harbour, say) was dismissed out of hand.

In all honesty baboon, it often does sound like you are saying that. When challenged you become ambiguous or use the same sort of arguments that the "conspiraloons" employ as I have tried to point out to you here. In any event, I don't care about what libcom says and what they do or don't dismiss. I am responding to your arguments and you should be responsing to mine.

Demogorgon
MH wrote:This line of

MH wrote:
This line of argument is what concerns me. Firstly because I think it’s wrong; the machiavellian nature of the bourgeoisie stems, first and foremost, from its nature as an exploiting class. Secondly because it underestimates the significance of state capitalism as the way the bourgeoisie organises itself in decadence, and thirdly, for the same reason, because if followed rigorously it risks underestimating the danger to the working class posed by state capitalism.

I think your first point is a fair one in the sense that the bourgeoisie's conspiratorial nature springs from its nature as an exploiting class. All exploiting classes have a duplicitious nature (they deceive society and themselves) which is why the structure of their consciousness is ideological. Nonetheless, the specificities of bourgeois consciousness, ideology (i.e. the way this duplicitious nature is expressed) and also its forms of organisation absolutely do spring from its tendency to competition.

On your second point, you need to demonstrate both the significance, as you see it, of state capitalism and also that I've underestimated it. But, to be clear, nowhere have I said that the bourgeoisie does not use the state as its primary nexus of organisation (although the degree and form varies from country to country, of course). Nor have I said the bourgeoisie cannot unite to defend their class rule. What I have said is that this tendency is constantly counterposed to its tendency to competition. Thus alliances are contingent and constantly shifting.

Such alliances both within the national bourgeoisies but also their international alliances are in response to external threats. The solidity of the Cold War alliances was contingent on the threat from the other bloc - but even there, in the early phases, the US worked to undermine the imperialist positions of its "allies" in the colonial countries, supplanting them with its own. And the colonial powers (namely France and Britain) didn't just submit meekly, but fought back as best they could until they were eventually forced to submit.

Your third point is essentially a repetition of the "underestimating the class enemy" argument used earlier in this thread. It may be true, but you need to do more than just assert it.

MH wrote:
It’s wrong, because the bourgeoisie is both divided, due to the inherent competition and anarchy of capitalist production, and united by certain common interests vis a vis the exploited class.

Errm, no, it's right because I've said the bourgeoisie is divided by competition but united by class rule already.

Demogorgon wrote:
None of this means that the bourgeoisie cannot conspire against the proletariat and nowhere have I said it doesn't. But the bourgeoisie is not and never can be a fully unified class. Ever. It can unite around collective interests - and the more these are threatened, the greater the pressure to unite - but it can never truly unify either in fact or at the level of its consciousness.

Demogorgon wrote:
Like the capitalist system they embody, the bourgeoisie contains a fundamental contradiction between division and unity, which it can only mediate in a contingent fashion, never overcome.

At best, there is a difference on emphasis here.

MH wrote:
There are enough examples of this unity in action even when the bourgeoisie was a progressive, revolutionary class ... They didn’t need a unified consciousness to do it.

I have already made this point myself, although my example was the German revolution.

MH wrote:
How much more true is this in decadence, with the development of state capitalism and the mortal threat of proletarian revolution facing the entire ruling class?

Well, that's the question isn't it? How much more and what form does this take? But lets just quickly examine the assumptions you make here.

The mortal threat of proletarian revolution doesn't confront the ruling class on a daily basis even in decadence. It exists as a latent threat but there are periods when the working class is subjugated (e.g. the counterevolutionary period following the revolutionary wave). That's why the "entire ruling class" was able to launch its Second World War. And, in the current period, the analysis of decomposition posits a social stalemate where even if the working class is not wholly subjugated it is nonetheless incapable of pushing forward its own agenda. It is not currently a threat to the ruling class - although there was certainly worry about this in the initial stages of the financial crisis.

In other words, in the absence of the proletarian threat national bourgeoisies unite against other national bourgeoisies. In particular, during periods of economic crisis there is even more of a tendency for factions of the bourgeoisie to turn on each other as each is desperate to grab the last little bit of of a dwindling profit-pie for themselves. This was particularly the case in the financial crisis of late, where the global bourgeoisie found it really difficult to unite around a strategy. Even the US bourgeoisie failed to unite initially and nearly committed suicide as a result when Congress initially rejected the Bush administration's bailout plan. State capitalism doesn't guarantee unified responses, even to mortal threats, let alone grand plans taking places in the background. They can happen but that doesn't mean they are always happening and there are some examples where it's quite clear the bourgeoisie was actually in disarray.

The most significant element of marxist analysis is that, regardless of whether the bourgeoisie is united or disintegrating at any particular moment, is that every part of it is always and everywhere against the working class. It doesn't matter if factions are working together in Machiavellian schemes (as they sometimes do) or whether there is a genuine conflict between them (as there sometimes is), the working class will always be the final victim. Bourgeois disintegration can be just as dangerous to the working class as its unity as a brief survey of the collapse of the eastern bloc (Yugoslavia, in particular) and the current situation in the Middle East shows. Only when the working class has launched a revolutionary struggle can it exploit disunity in the ruling class - which, of course, is when the ruling class is most likely to unite.