Thursday, March 18, 2021

What Is To Be Done? 2021 Version

So, I've been busy, ... plus I've been plagued with a knotted muscle in my back on the left-hand side, halfway up (the place most impossible to reach) which makes sitting and typing excrutiating. And nobody listens to me anyway. All the paid, full-time moderates, and the paid super-radicals, and the unpaid activists and volunteers both "pragmatic" and "radical" are all too busy doing nothing, or doing the same things over and over that haven't produced anything in the past, to bother with a crackpot such as myself.

Before I forget (and it's relevant so ...) here's Vincent Emanuele from CounterPunch:

The inability to articulate a vision that has a serious connection to material reality or the forces that currently dominate and comprise our political, economic, cultural, and social institutions is a problem the anarcho and religious left has faced for at least as long as I’ve been engaged in political activism and organizing (fifteen years), if not for decades. Appeals to 'erode structures of oppression,' which sound pretty on paper, mean utterly nothing to organizers and working-class people who are strategizing on the ground. Further, calls to 'erode structures of power' fall into the same failed category of 'anti-politics' that the anarcho-left has peddled for years: constantly calling for 'dismantling' this, or 'abolishing' that, or 'resisting,' but never articulating a viable vision for the 7.8 billion people who live on this planet, never building, never winning — always on the defensive; hence, always focused on destruction.

God bless him! Oh. Before I forget, Ian Welsh provides some hard truths that self-described "revolutionaries" have to incorporate into their analysis if they ever want to be taken seriously:

So, get control of force and use it to control money/means of production; or get control of money/means of production and use it to create force. Obviously it’s really about some of both, but you use whichever one you have more of to get control over the other one. Wall Street bought DC so that it could have control over the police and courts, which is why Obama immunized them from their crimes and bailed them out; including really raw and obvious crimes like illegally signing a document saying the bank owned someone else’s house. Absolute fraud and straight robbery: that’s what Obama made go away for the financial industry.

Some of those people who had their houses stolen, in a society with less police and military and nasty prisons might have taken retribution and recompense into their own hands, but in America, well, no, that’s really not possible. Might get retribution, but then the cops will imprison or kill you, which they didn’t do to the men who stole your house and probably your job, car and future.


And that, my friends, is where we are now. There will be no significant downward redistribution until elites either lose control of the violent apparatus or genuinely think they are about to, or can’t win their side of an oncoming revolution.

So, what do we want? Reform or Revolution? If you say "reform" then you're wasting everybody's time. Do you want to reform a system that is ruled by capitalist/imperialist oligarchs? Is the future of humanity supposed to be the vast majority asking for more crumbs from the table until systemic contradictions destroy the ecological base upon which we all rely? 

No. It has to be Revolution. It has to be a genuine, radical transformation of the balance of power in human society. For us leftists, this radical transformation must have as its end-point a system wherein power is dispersed amongst as many people as is practically possible. There are individuals AND societies. For instance, it would not do if each of us held the power of life or death over every other individual. As individuals we would want our personal right to life to be respected and defended by our societies. We would not like to live in a world where every individual has the right to burn tires in their backyard or to operate a backyard shambles.

To control anti-social, selfish, narcissistic, sociopathic, psychopathic individuals, we need a society. A society that upholds the rights of all the individuals within it. I realize that this sounds a little like Thomas Hobbes's Leviathan, but it's not the same thing. I do not believe that without a higher authority over us, that individual humans would all engage in "a war of all, against all." Relatedly, I don't believe that we need anything like the all-powerful leviathan that Hobbes envisioned. Because in the society that I'm picturing, no individuals or institutions will have the resources/abilities/power/authority to do things like create and spew toxins without regulations, oversight or consequences. Nobody will have the ability to absolutely crush anyone. No institution with large numbers of people will be able to do nefarious deeds confident in the inability of their employees to be kept in the dark or coerced into silence. There won't be police forces with the arrogance, authoritarian mindset, sense of entitlement, legal immunity, allegiance with oligarchs, to suppress ordinary people. There will be international bodies overseeing universal human rights and environmental standards. To the extent that things such as nation-states continue to exist, these will be mainly for things like guaranteeing national standards as used to be the case with the Canadian public health care system. Much more authority will be devolved to local levels where power can be more easily monitered and controlled.

I can hear my imaginary readers responding: "Fine thwap! But how is any of this supposed to come about?" Well, my devoted apparitions, I believe it needs to happen this way: We will need a mass movement to demand and then achieve the democratization of workplaces. And, while this is being done in individual instances, the mass movement must also push for workers' rights to democratic workplaces on a legal/constitutional basis. Yep. It's my "Workers as Citizens" hobbyhorse again. The idea I have advocated for since the 1990s, with exponentially less fervour every year since then up to the present day.

What else are we going to do? 

Could you leftists PLEASE acknowledge just what it is that we're up against? We are up against an oligarchy of murderous psychopaths. Okay? Companies like NestlĂ©'s which pushed infant forumla in poor countries with no thought to the myriad dangers of this campaign, and for decades, ... including over a decade after having signed an international code of conduct forbidding such practices, and the death toll of malnourished infants can be [very conservatively] estimated at thirty-million. And yet, these murderous vermin continue to operate in the open, selling their products, showing us their ads, taking their profits, year after year after year.

This isn't an aberrant lack of oversight. This is systemic. This level of murderousness is A FEATURE of captialism. Not a "flaw." (Obviously it is flawed behaviour in the eyes of sane human beings. But it is evidently approved behaviour in the moral calculus of capitalism.)

And that's just one food conglomerate. There's the weapons industries. The parastitic financial sector. There's racist, authoritarian, toxic cops. There's a whole system of brutal, power-mad, amoral, grasping, shameless psychopaths. 

Public healthcare systems are one of the greatest life-savers in modern societies. They've proven their cost-effectiveness AND moral superiority to for-profit, individualized, private healthcare delivery systems for decades. So of course, the powerful US oligarchy resists it. And of course, bloated psychopaths like Doug Ford, stephen harper, Jason Kenney, ad nauseum, are seeking to destroy it here in Canada. Why would they want to do that? Who knows from out of the variety of influences upon these shrivelled souls and contemptible morons? Perhaps they're deluded ignoramuses who vaguely buy-into the lies of the private insurance providers and for profit medical community. Perhaps they appreciate the donations to their political parties from these for-profit parasites. Perhaps they think public healthcare services are wasted on poor people who should just die. Who knows? Who cares? It's enough that they want to bankrupt and kill so many of us that we should fight to remove them from power.

At the end of the day, we need to have a revolution to take power out of the hands of such people. We have to come up with systems of governance that bring power down to the community level while still maintaining national or international authorities to guarantee equality and human rights across countries and the planet. The details of this have probably been written about before, and are being discussed and studied today. But it's all academic if we never try to implement the revolution that's necessary to make them a reality.

And make no mistake about it. The oligarchs and their bullying enforcers will resist. Our societies barf-up the most selfish, scheming, amoral, calculating, and shameless among us to rise to the top. They will use all their claws and fangs and lies (propaganda) to defend their positions. The idea that we can petition them to change, or shame them to renounce their ways is the most deluded stupidity. 

Are we then to have a violent revolution? "To the barricades comrades!!!" What barricades? What weapons do we have? What weapons do they have?  Is there to be a General Strike? Perhaps. Waves of rotating strikes. Consumer boycotts. Closing down of bank accounts and the formation of more democratic credit unions? 

The main thing is that we need to have a coherent goal, convince people of its virtues and articulate a coherent, valid strategy for getting there. "Workers as Citizens" obviously utlizes extra-parliamentary activism, but sees as crucial the use of existing political systems to create its legality. (At the very least, denying a democratically arrived-at, legitimate policy will serve to discredit the oligarchy and thereby radicalize the bulk of the population that supports it.)

After its implementation, ordinary, non-radical, workaday people won't have to notice some sweeping transformation of their lives. They can naturally, organically transform their workplaces as local circumstances permit or demand. And this includes the transformation of the economy necessary to ATTEMPT to mitigate global heating. This will also require states that have the resources to assist with the dramatic reductions in meat consumption, automobile use, plastics, useless consumer goods, airlines, etc., etc., ... Some people will be paid to stay home until beneficial work is found for them. Some workplaces will need to do massive re-tooling from wasteful consumerism to providing actual necessities. 

I've been tinkering with this blog post for a couple of weeks, in my spare time and I think I'll post it now, azzizz.


Al Hunter said...

This imaginary reader has a suggestion.

I find the background image on your page to be a visual distraction to the content of your words. It looks fine in my RSS reader with a simple black background, but the webpage is jarring.

Anyway, thanks for your posts, always insightful.

thwap said...

Al Hunter,

Are you talking about the image of the asphalt that's been there since almost the first days of this blog?

Is this problem with using a cellphone?

This is the first I've ever heard of this issue.

Al Hunter said...

I just checked: looks great on my phone.
Sometimes I forget that the world is not optimized for antique outliers like me with large monitors. About 5/6 of the width of my monitor shows high-contrast asphalt.

I normally have RSS push me notifications of your posts, and that reader is fine (uses a black background) - but then I don't see the comments.

No real problem. Most will use phones.
And I'll continue to find relevance in your writing.

thwap said...

Al Hunter,

I'm looking at the regular Blogger desktop view usually. The asphalt background is about half the page. 1/4 on either side of the writing and the blog-roll.

I had someone who knew what they were doing add that background. I wouldn't know how to remove it.

As long as there's some way for you to access it ....

Anyway, thanks for the kind words.