Wednesday, November 19, 2008

How communism serves the American right

This is how I explain my awesome family to radical communists. :D

If you had some sort of illusions that I was a not a radical communist, you may consider this a sort of late halloween costume for my blog. ;)

I like to advocate class struggle by pointing to material conditions. For all it's posturing to the contrary, capitalism creates material conditions deeply toxic to freedom and democracy. In the accumulation of capital is the accumulation of power; in the concentration of power, widespread opportunity for self-determination is destroyed. So far my favorite depictions of this process come from Domhoff and Chomsky.

As for the path to victory, I am far from a master tactician, but I prefer to take the words of Marx and Engels to heart:

"(Communists) have no interests separate or apart from those of the proletariat as a whole. They do not set up any sectarian principles of their own, by which to shape and mold the proletarian movement."

Along with this comes the injunction to form the proletariat as a class, and from this combination my preference in strategy is born. It seems we must re-articulate cultural struggle as class struggle--and this goes for (what appears to be) both sides of the culture struggle.

Consider the interests of the American (United States) proletariat, as they presently perceive them. Besides the materialities of survival and comfort, the issues they are most aware of being concerned with are families, immigration, gay marriage, abortion ethics, and a certain kind of self-determination. All of these social issues can be subsumed more or less neatly into the framework of communism or socialism. The possible quality of relationships in a family are intimately and inextricably connected with types of exploitation and quality of work; global socialism renders concern with immigration issues obsolete; availability of universal health care (a class issue) makes the question of gay marriage no longer a life and death matter*; socialism has the potential to vastly reduce the incidence of abortion**.

Saul Alinsky, in describing the class conflicts of political organizing, cast Americans as haves, have-nots, and have-a-little-want-mores. It is this last group, he says, that offer the greatest resistance to change; they have gained some ground under the existing system, have just enough that they no longer are free from fear of loosing it. This is the illusory self-determination with which the American proletariat is so entranced; not that they are "Joe the plummer" who has something to loose, but for the most part they have just enough that they can dream of being him, and want to hang on to that dream. It seems best to work out of this by constantly presenting more meaningful forms of self-determination. In this, whether or not we might choose a planned economy in the longer run, the concept of syndicalism is extremely useful.

* It removes the state's involvement with gay marriage as a property relation, thus rendering the question of "marriage" or not purely cultural.

**The details of this position I will, actually, publish in subsequent posts


___________________________ said...

The social issues *can* be subsumed, but I would not think that this is as easy as you suggest.

Families are more abstract, the concern is really family values, will society reflect what I want it to reflect, and the notion is not class-related but almost broadly totalitarian, as it is a desire for a cultural harmony that socialism does not seek so much as fascism does.

The issue of immigration and world socialism do not go together very neatly because the major issue in immigration is *present* infrastructural differences, and the way to prevent this is homogenization of infrastructure(which likely means massive construction projects), the issue with that is a desire for decentralization. I suppose we can argue that in developed socialism, these infrastructure differences will be *less*, thus no problems.

Not only that, but that is just looking at immigration as immigration, when in fact, immigration is not immigration but likely also related to cultural concerns. This is given the fact that a major concern on the matter is language, and various other aesthetic issues. There is some speech about "taking jobs" but I don't think the number of decent jobs taken is worth the rhetoric. It could be poor tools used by economists, but this is a blog post on what was found in research by George Borjas, an anti-immigration economist:

Mild changes, mostly positive long run changes, and probably little worth the popular mass hysteria. High school dropouts having the most to suffer, but I doubt all of the political pressure is due to high school drop outs.

The gay marriage issue, I still think is really cultural as well. I mean, I don't think the concern is "gays will get healthcare" but rather I think a major part of the matter on both sides is culture. Yes, some gays will want the right to certain marital favors, but I don't think either side is really functioning within that framework given comments on how marriage is about love, on the left, and tradition on the right. If this were framed as a simple rights package, I don't think the issue would be this like it is.

Finally, I am not certain that purely reducing abortion is what is sought. It would be rational if that were the case, but I think the underlying logic is the cultural drive, "we cannot allow the law to not reflect our moral understandings", as I would be that abortion crusaders would be relatively impervious to abortion facts, but rather be overly concerned with the notion of "legalized murder" and the idea that murder is intolerable. The average person does not think with the calculus of a utilitarian, rather they are emotional, driven by sub-culture above reason, and in a large scale democracy can have difficulties knowing their own interests(few people really do though).

I would argue that a planned economy has a number of information problems, and would argue in favor of smaller divisions.

Day said...

I didn't say it would be easy at all; I just said we should do it. Also, I'm aware that--in pretty much all cases--people aren't already looking at things from this framework. . . that's why I propose a framework shift.

Day said...

Also, I should be clear that I'm not arguing for a planned economy. I merely leave the option open. I argue for anarcho-syndicalism, with the belief that it's institution would improve democratic process and leave our group decision making process (whatever decisions we then decided to make) more valid and representative.

Makayla said...

hm. I wish I knew more about these sorts of things. I do read all of your posts - I just don't often comment because I don't know enough about the topic on which you've written to say anything relevant or accurate. :)

But they are very interesting posts.

___________________________ said...

I know you don't argue for a planned economy. I also recognize that a framework shift can do *some* things, but I do think that some of these problems mostly exist due to fascistic perspectives.

Day said...

Thanks, M. I really appreciate that you read all my crap anyway, and you're all sorts of supportive and commenty like. :)

______________, how are you defining fascism here?

And were you anti-fa before I introduced you to that one place?

___________________________ said...

Fascism? I said "fascistic", which to me seems to be run by a desire to control culture and society.

Anti-fascist? Well, I don't think I have really been that pro-fascist. I could be wrong, but I am fine with people having those tendencies, but I wouldn't want to deal with it so much.