Who wants to join my cyberpunk centrist nu-metal band?
I am trying to understand politics/economics. I empathized with Plato’s fears of democracy, but I couldn’t get down with his censorship of art (yes, I actually liked his caste system for a couple years). The Trump administration is a spooky one, but Obama fucking had civilians bombed. I liked the USA Libertarian Party for a little bit, ten years ago, because Ron Paul said some stuff that was ground-breaking for me at the time. Then I started to get to know other people associated with the party and realized that it was all just a glorified introvert fantasy- one to keep the common folk disconnected and the elite unchained from responsibility. I dabbled with centrism for a while, off and on, cause that more-stoic-than-thou attitude felt damn satisfying… until I kept seeing people getting killed for no good reason. I knew shit was bad, but I didn’t know why- not to mention how bad it really was. I blamed Republicans. I blamed politicians. I blamed bigots. Once, more recently, I had this eureka moment when I thought I could trace it all back to ‘toxic masculinity’, but there are a couple problems with even some thing that fundamental.
For one, ‘toxic’ is too vague and is asking to be abused. As soon as some one suggested it be substituted for ‘hegemonic’ I was sold on it. Hegemonic masculinity. It’s the thing.
For two, as frustrating as it is, it’s difficult to point the finger at some thing that potentially divides our population in half. I’ve seen the power-hungry, self-absorbed, cold, objectifying monster in my self, and I know that I’ve been wrong. I accept responsibility for that, but to say, ‘All of the world’s problems are men’s fault,’ as pathetic as this is, will keep us divided.
In stead, I’ve come to realize that I have been consistently grumbling about capitalists.
Capitalists. The people who compromise firstly for material wealth. The people who pay us our wages and can take them away, if we complain of them not being enough to care for our selves and our families. The people who pay hundreds to thousands of people to perform tasks for them, to perform innovations for them, to invent new technologies for them, and then claim to be self-made, independent geniuses. The people whose salaries are in the millions or billions, who ‘ran the numbers’ and determined that it’s just not feasible to pay every one beneath them a living wage.
They encourage competition. They encourage ruthlessness. They’ll have you believe that zero-sum games exist in real life, and that any one can be (and should be) as wealthy as they are, if we just work hard enough in a system that’s rigged against us… by them. They are about hoarding wealth, hoarding power, not because they know how to best serve society and distribute its resources- no. It’s just to keep it. To own it. To have it. If the wealth of billionaires were to actually trickle down, well, why is it only a trickle?
Oh, but they’ve earned it. Through exploitation, through ignoring the needs and wants of others, but it was work and the hardest, riskiest work with the greatest sacrifices (even if the sacrifice is human dignity) deserves the most compensation. The most possible.
It was difficult for me to see the lie of hyper-individualism, but now it’s so plain. When you’re concerned more with what you’ve earned, you think less about civil rights. When you’re concerned more with how impressive a person’s ability to game the system is, you think less about basic human needs. We charge people for water. We charge people for food. We charge people for shelter- and that last one, for the most part, doesn’t even have any labor involved. Letting people exist in rooms is not a service. No service is done. All of the people employed in real estate do work solely to protect the investment of their masters. We charge people for overcoming illness. If people don’t have these things? They die. We live in a world where, if you aren’t graced with enough wages for your needs, you don’t deserve to live.
Some people get behind that. ‘Too stupid to live.’ ‘What do they contribute to society any way?’ With no regard for circumstances and unfair limitations, capitalism is all about what you can provide for the capitalists, not about what society can provide for you. Simply look up a basic definition of the word society, and you can understand why that’s a huge problem.
For many people, when they think of collectivism they think of group-think, tribalism, nationalism, and/or conformity. Negative connotations. No thoughts of unity, compassion, sharing, organization, society. We all acknowledge that we’re social animals, and we all enjoy human relationships, families, friend groups, sub-cultures, yet many of us are so anti-collectivism that we cringe at the word ‘social’.
So when your enemy is the capitalist, how does that change your perspective? Well, all major political parties in the USA have capitalists at the top. The top Democrat and Republican politicians are all appealing to views that they know how to profit off of. They all put money and power above their other values- and, if they seem not to, well, that’s because those ‘other values’ are making them lotsa lotsa money. Exploitation is capitalist. Colonialism is capitalist. Imperialism is capitalist. Hierarchy is capitalist. What does all of this mean? Racism promotes capitalism. Sexism assists capitalism. Ableism supports capitalism. Hatred fuels capitalism. Dividing people and scaring people and turning people against each other is all extremely profitable.
Even many who support capitalism are comfortable with the ‘follow the money’ train of thought, and just accept this kind of corruption as an unavoidable evil… but why not at least humor an alternative?
For my own part, it’s because I thought socialism was a joke. I’d learned that communism lead to violence and poverty, and anarchism was just an other word for chaos. Bernie Sanders softened me up some, because this ‘democratic socialism’ is supposed to manipulate the ‘inevitable system’ in to catering to some social values. It didn’t seem far-fetched or absurd.
Oh, but it was still an appeal to capitalists. It was a way of saying, ‘Please? Please, can we be cared for a little bit more?’ Well, the capitalists and hyper-individualist scholars would scoff at us for being so pathetic.
I don’t trust people, but I want people to be able to trust each other. I want to feel independent, but I want the needy to be taken care of. I want people to have liberty, but not the freedom to exploit their neighbors. I often dreamed of a benevolent elite, the Philosopher Kings, a compassionate, authoritarian, central power to set the rules and enforce the perfect system, what ever that was, because I thought that the common person was self-absorbed, short-sighted, and otherwise incapable of self-governance. Oh, but the USA’s founding fathers studied Plato, and that’s how we got capitalism in the USA. Oh, and otherwise, that essentially describes a brand of communism. Since I’d let go of Plato and rolled my eyes at communism, what the hell was I doing?
It wasn’t enough to hate capitalism. I needed a response to it. This came to me from two seeds. One was from an individual that I deeply respect. They identify as an anarchist, and when I first read that I thought, ‘Huh. That’s ridiculous, but they at least must have a complex and intriguing reason.’ The other was from an in-depth political spectrum test that I took, claiming I was a libertarian socialist.
‘WHAT THE HELL IS THAT?’
Turns out, ‘libertarian’ was appropriated by the American Libertarian Party from a very different set of beliefs, and ‘libertarian socialism’ is anarchism.
By this point, I’d some how at least learned that anarchy did not mean chaos; it had organization, but focused on smaller distributions of power. Like states? Like a USA without their federation? I didn’t know what that meant, not at all, and it was too weird for me to come to terms with for a long time.
My news feed began to be flooded with communist ideals. Every day, socialism was rooting its self in my mind, an understanding. I wasn’t going to just believe Facebook’s impression of it, though, so I finally began to study, study communism, study anarchism, study liberalism, understand how all these terms relate to each other, and work out where my invisible biases lied.
Let me tell you, when your whole world has been this artificial survival of the fittest prestige match where the powerful tell you that you can be just like them, if you just work harder, and when your whole perspective of socialism centers around government funded health care and not killing minorities, the idea of a society of trust and caring cooperation is fucking surreal. Understanding the difference between governance and administration feels like splitting hairs. Imagining what it means for power to come from the bottom seems like mere poetry.
Then this quote from Proudhon hit me:
‘As you cannot conceive of society without hierarchy, you have made yourselves the apostles of authority; worshippers of power, you think only of strengthening it and muzzling liberty; your favourite maxim is that the welfare of the people must be achieved in spite of the people; instead of proceeding to social reform by the extermination of power and politics, you insist on a reconstruction of power and politics.’
But, if we’re talking about giving all of the power to the people- the hell would that really look like? Later this quote from a contributor to a large anarchist FAQ put it in to perspective for me:
‘For example, powers that are now exercised in an authoritarian manner by managers under capitalism, such as those of hiring and firing, introducing new production methods or technologies, changing product lines, relocating production facilities, determining the nature, pace and rhythm of productive activity and so on would remain in the hands of the associated producers and not be delegated to anyone.’
And for bigger decisions? Include more relevant people in the votes. When there isn’t enough time, or the decision has to be made elsewhere? Elect representatives that can be dismissed at any time with a new election. When do we hold elections? When it’s decided that we need to. What about trade? Problems between working environments? Problems that effect huge communities, or groups of communities? Elect representatives who elect representatives who elect representatives, how ever many tiers of responsibility as you need, just as long as they all answer to the people, and all are entitled to no power of their own, and must step down, if it is demanded of them. Oh- and as long as their sole contribution is not this administration. Administration is not a career. Administration is not a career.
Disorganized? Fluid. Organic, easily adjusting to the needs of the people.
I am still learning about anarchism and communism. Pardon me, if you’re well versed and this seems painfully rudimentary. Communism, with centralized power, simply reminds me too much of capitalism, which in turn reminds me of feudalism, and I want to live in a society that is equitable, where every one has an equal stake, where every one is involved in politics, where every one is raised to think about the good of the community, and how the community can do the best good for their selves. I want to live in a society where the self-serving thing is the society-serving thing, because every one will vote to preserve their own rights, so every one’s rights will be preserved. Will there be currency? May be. Will there be religion? I don’t know. Will there still be technological innovations? Definitely, cause some people just plain love building technology, and not enough people, when they feel secure, are going to vote against bettering the lives of humanity and humanity’s ability to take care of our environment.
Social living does not require hierarchy. Social worth does not require power. All kinds of relationships can be mutually beneficial, without one person having an edge over the other. The economics ‘laws’ that claim competition and self-absorption are natural and unavoidable have only been studying corrupt systems held together by power elites. Socialism is not the government babysitting us; it is all of us supporting each other. Capitalists are now afraid of the collapse that they’ve triggered. Even capitalists are only capitalists to gain enough wealth to escape capitalism. No one enjoys hierarchy. The people on the bottom are afraid of having things taken away by the powerful, and the powerful are afraid of having things taken away by their peers, or by the many. We are a society with Stockholm syndrome, and our captor is our selves.
Fuck, I was going to rip on centrists/moderates more.
Centrists/moderates, you’re not being stoic. You’re being apathetic. You can’t compromise with people who want you to die. You can’t compromise with people who don’t care, if you die. If you think pacifism can be and should be upheld in all situations, you’re a privileged piece of shit. You’re not keeping the balance. You’re allowing the aggressors more space to grow their power. Not all people identifying as anti-fascist are smart; like any movement, some people are just there to get in on the action, but anti-fascists can not be the real fascists. I know we didn’t take the Nazi’s word for it just because socialist was in the name, but seriously: trying to squash hate speech is no more an infringement on free speech than trying to prevent ax murders is an infringement on the freedom to own an ax. The purpose of hate speech is to incite dehumanization, which at its best thieves liberty and at its worst kills people. The only reason to legitimize hate speech is to let it spread.
We can’t make society better through reform. We can’t vote in a better system. The current system will not allow it. I vote; I pay attention to the capitalists, but we need a revolution, and, if you don’t think so, it’s because you’ve been suckered in to believing that the comfort your privilege has provided for you (in turn provided by capitalists- to some, not others) is enough. The far left sees it coming. The far right sees it coming. Even the capitalists who desperately cling to the status-quo you defend see it coming, which is why they claim to be investing in bomb shelters and disciplinary programs for personal body guards. Centrists, when this shit goes down, no matter who wins, you lose. The socialists and the fascists alike will remember when you called them idiots and barbarians from the comfort of your moderate, middle-of-the-road, not-too-spicy bastions of ‘moral purity’, and your time will be up.
Nah. Just kidding. If we pull off anarchy, there’s a good chance the rest of us will just laugh at you and give you hugs.