Examining the historical changes in capitalism, both in productivity of labour and social struggle, can be viewed (at least in part), within the broad lens of social transparency vs social occlusion of capital. The idea here is that as capital overcomes more of its boundaries in production, and accumulating gargantuan levels of profits, it becomes a greater priority for capital to hide its footprint in relation to disposing the working class. As capital finds myriad new ways of squeezing profit and expanding its deleterious reach in society, it also wants to keep its inner workings behind closed doors and occluded to the public. Transoceanic trade deals, tax evasions, executive bonuses, and trades in fictitious markets, are some of the insidious and draconian ways that capital is dispossessing the working class. In order to protect its coffers of large sums of capital from being remunerated back to the working people, capitalism has created a number of ways to occlude the working class consciousness of it. However, despite the methods of political suppression at capital’s behest, capital continues to produce the technological means for political transparency in society for the working class: this is ultimately congealed within the larger class struggle between the haves and the have-nots. The occlusion and the distancing of the working people from the levers of real political and economic power is the ongoing aim of capitalism. The danger for the bourgeois state is the exposure to the reality of an entire economic and political world built on the dispossession of 99% by the hands of the 1%. It is in this context that the words transparency and openness fulcrum towards a more revolutionary definition.
One type of technology that has burgeoned and heightened levels of transparency in our world today is communication and information technology. By the word “transparency” I am loosely referring to the ability of the public to have access to the knowledge and information about the inner workings of the bourgeois state (such as the legislature, armed forces and the police), bourgeois institutions (such as the IMF, Financial Reserve, European Commission) and corporations in general. This access and exposure to information about the operations of the bourgeois and the notorious 1%, is not the result of the bourgeois becoming honest and open to the public about its dealings, but rather because the very technology that was invented to remove one of the main barriers to capital accumulation (space and time) is now being effectively used against the political interests of the bourgeois. For example, business machines, such as computers, were advanced for the purpose of trade and commerce, are now ubiquitous instrument in class struggle. The same can be said about the use of internet, social media technology, and mobile phones which are also central to networking, organizing and mobilizing the working class. Tools capital originally created to increase surplus value and profits during production, are now being used as tools in class struggle.
What we see today is the use of communication technology by the public to expose the inner workings of the bourgeois state. Video clips of the government debates and legislature are uploaded onto social media for the public to view and discuss. Government top secret documents are released on the internet to expose state corruption and corporate fraud and legal theft of the working class tax revenues and pension funds. This was the case with the documents released on WikiLeaks, and the release of the “Panama papers” by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists. It was also the case with the thousands of documents that were released by Edward Snowden to expose the US government spying on its own citizens. Mobile phone cameras are used across the world to capture the actions of the police and security forces, to record incidents of prejudice, racism and blatant brutality. Social media, such as YouTube, is used to capture important events in social movements and as a form of grass roots news media. YouTube channels are also used to stream political debates and TV channels to places with closed media freedom.
It is also important to note that moments of transparency in to the inner workings of capitalism also occur during a financial crisis. A crisis is the result of the foundational contradictions of capital accumulation surfacing. During a financial crisis the central nervous system of capitalism that both regulates and promotes capital becomes exposed and transparent to all. These inner financial institutions of capitalism often operate similarly to the inner workings of the Vatican than a transparent institution. Only on the wake of the 2008 financial crash, just as in 1929 when capitalism was facing imminent collapse, did the human face of capital greet the pubic on television. Both Ben Bernanke (chair of the Federal Reserve) and Hank Paulson (Secretary of the Treasury) jointly dictated the new national financial policy when the US bourgeois state (the senate and congress) was left in a catatonic state.
Economic negotiations behind closed doors (at state and international trade level), the creation of large gated communities for the 1%, occlusion, and the use of its monopoly on violence, are the only instruments left in the hands of the bourgeois. It is only through such insidious and draconian instruments of suppression that the bourgeois continues its immoral dispossession of the working class, which today is facing a fierce and organized street by street struggle by the working class, in order to maintain its illegitimate class rule of society.
By Chia Barsen