Saturday, March 20, 2021

Oligarchs vs. "Workers as Citizens"


In my last post I made some noise about how we leftists have to propose a revolution, because one does not simply "reform" a system dominated by amoral, vicious psychopaths. We cannot petition or shame amoral, murderous psychopaths into better behaviour. The goal has to be to remove power from their hands.

But then, for my "revolutionary" strategy, I advocate for a constitutional amendment extending citizenship rights to workers within their workplaces. (Very quickly: Just as a Canadian citizen cannot be exiled from Canada, neither can a worker/citizen be involutarily expelled from their workplace. Just as our various levels of government have to provide open, public access to their budgets/spending, so too will workers have the right to inspect their workplaces' finances. Just as a Canadian citizen has the right for free speech and to advocate for their preferred policies, so too should worker/citizens have free speech rights within their workplaces and to propose policies [including changes to what the workplace makes and how it makes them]. You get the idea.)

Now, some of you might be asking just how the hell I imagine that murderous, amoral psychopaths will ever permit a political party to come to power and amend the constitution so as to nullify the control enjoyed by those same psychopaths. How can I, on the one hand, talk about brutal realities/harsh truths and then contradict myself by thinking we can peacefully take away their power through the electoral/legislative/constitutional process?

First of all; What are our options? Again, we aren't going to change things by remaining powerless supplicants peacefully demonstrating and petitioning our masters for better treatment. Telling them that they can remain in charge but they have to act more nicely towards us. Look at the level of callousness and indifference with which the US ruling class is subjecting their own people during this pandemic. Perhaps at some level, the mental insects like Joseph Biden, Nancy Pelosi, Mitch McConnell, etc., might honestly believe in what they're doing (Pelosi's wounded blathering to Wolf Blitzer about how her party is feeding the poor when they're doing anything but, for example.) Or a moronic psychopath like Donald Trump who is able to simultaneously believe the pandemic is a hoax, a Chinese attack on him personally, and a very real danger (as he confessed to Bob Woodward).  But I can't imagine that anyone who can tie their shoes and remember how to get to the bathroom isn't also aware of the death-toll of for-profit healthcare; the hypocrisy of murderous starvation sanction on Venezuela's socialist government while murderous dictatorships in nearby Colombia and Honduras get showered with financial and military aid. Barack Obama knew what he was doing when he ran cover for Wall Street in 2008, up to and including their brazen criminality of falsely claiming ownership of mortgages of properties that they then foreclosed on. 

However deluded and stupid these people might be, they're not so divorced from reality so as to be unaware of the sufferings they are causing. They might deny it (which is easy to do since they live in social bubbles of similarly afflicted assholes) but denial is a 24-7 thing. It's impossible to maintain such a front full-time. They know what they're doing. 

Crystia Freeland knows what the governments of Colombia and Honduras and Brazil are doing when she aligns herself with them to attack Venezuela. Our politicians know what they're doing when they protect our mining industry from criticisms and any sort of legal consequences for their atrocities overseas. Justin Trudeau knows the danger of global warming and he knows what he's doing when he stops talking with David Suzuki about it upon gaining power. 

These people, and the capitalist oligarchs they serve, are monsters. And they are aware of how monstrous they are.  No sane civilization can be built while leaving them in charge. We need to take their power away.

But how do we do that? Surely not by dressing up in black and throwing rocks through windows! Forget about the tiny, anarchist and communist super-radical population, ... not even "progressives" in all their diverse glory have the numbers to win pitched battles against the police and the other enforcement arms of the oligarchic state. I do believe that physical violence against a regime of murderous, brutal greedheads is justified. But I also believe that violence dehumanizes people and that it can either spiral out of control or produce crackdowns that neuter the limited avenues of organizing and protest that we now have.  Plus, if you simply look at the array of tools of violence enjoyed by the state against anything that "the people" currently have, you will see the balance tips very much in the favour of the oligarchy.  I am not a pacifist and I believe that the best situation should be a society wherein the citizenry doesn't immediately recoil in disgust at the idea of physical retribution at some particularly heinous, egregious, blatant, brazen, example of elite malfeasance. You know, cops who brutalize people should fear retribution, and society should acknowledge the validity of such retribution when the legal system fails, time and time again, to hold them accountable. Politicians who deliberately impose policies that get people killed should fear walking around in public without security and society should be in support of that situation. The current state of affairs where some mass-murdering piece of shit gets red paint thrown on them and even progressive critics of that piece-of-shit's policies run to the fainting couch is ludicrous.

But the idea of a violent revolution seems to me to be a non-starter. 

I rather think that it has to go this way: In his book Radical Transformation, Kevin MacKay takes issue with the "Deep Green Resistance" who believe that radical sabotuers, destroying the industrialized world's infrastructure will develop a fan-base among the general population who will support them. MacKay argues that it's the other way around:

Violent radicals don't appear and generate a mass of non-violent supporters. MacKay says that what tends to happen is that a critical mass of people find a situation intolerable, coalesce to for a peaceful resistance/protest/reform movement, and then, when the powers-that-be reveal themselves as unwilling to concede to the barest of concessions, this radicalizes many among the membership. When the forces of the state resort to violent suppression of the movement, even more people become radicalized and some eventually decide that only force can have any impact.

So, if I had had more persuasive abilities in the 1990's, the Left might have been advocating for the constitutional advancement of workers' rights within their workplaces in a big way in the year 2000.  (As opposed to whatever the hell grand project they've been working on instead that I've simply been too blind to notice.) If enough people and groups on the Left had been advocating for something positive, something that so totally shifts power away from capitalists and towards ordinary people, something that utilizes the Western, liberal values of democracy and human rights that so many North Americans and Europeans have internalized (I can't really speak for other cultures, though I'm sure they appreciate democracy and human rights. And my hesitation to extend liberal cultural hegemony to other cultures is simply because I'm not sure if there really is a more collective ethos in them.) 

Over five or ten years (bringing us to 2010) there are grassroots movements for workplace democracy and political parties advocating for it. (In all honesty, the most that I can tell that the left has been doing in the thirty-years under discussion has been to yearn for a return to the postwar Keynesian compromise, plead for recognition of various ecological crises, and make advances in the areas of identity politics [sometimes on only a very superficial level].) At some point, ordinary people (perhaps Royal Bank of Canada employees being forced to train their foreign replacements, or WalMart workers being told to punch-out and then come back on the floor for extra unpaid work, or Long-Term Care workers condemned to permanent part-time/no-benefits status seemingly forever) might start to think about how maybe having a legal right to a say in the way their workplaces operate, without fear of being fired, is a good idea.

Call me crazy, but I can see this idea becoming popular with significant numbers of people. Let's say (for the sake of argument) that Canada's NDP was convinced of the viability of this strategy. The Conservatives would oppose it and in the most ham-fisted way possible. I wouldn't put it past those morons to blurt out that democracy just doesn't work. The Liberals would (as they tend to do with progressive causes) say they support it in principle, but that we have to move slowly, and try to neuter enthusiasm and smother the project in years of delays and betrayals. But make no mistake about it: The oligarchy would know this was a stake to their vampire heart and they would take off the gloves against the movement behind it.  And, of course, while they were doing this, they would have been continuing to destroy the environment and engaging in their financial market criminal speculation that has required trillion-dollar taxpayer bail-outs every 5-10 years or so. 

How much more radicalized would the electorate be from the oligarchy's rejection of "Workers as Citizens" than the electorate appears to have been radicalized by the failure to restore Keynesian social policies? And, compare the appeal of a coherent, easily-understood, but sweeping, transformative policy like "Workers as Citizens" with the super-radical proposal of telling people to destroy the present system and then take a leap into the darkness in the hopes that Utopia is on the other side?

I think we would have had far more people on our side if someone, ANYONE on the left had been proposing ANYTHING as comprehensive as my plan in all the years since I first tried to interest others in it. 

Remember where we are folks! We've been screeching about the civilization-busting danger of global warming in a big way since the year 2000. And in 2021, we haven't made more than half a step away from our greenhouse gas emissions society and we're five years away from having lost all hope of preventing this calamity from becoming an inevitability. (If it isn't already.)

Somebody has to take responsibility for this absolute and utter failure.

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