Image: By Punkerslut
Part 1: Socialism is the Great Reform
Open your eyes. Look around you. Think about the way that people live today. Examine the moments of misery, the moments of happiness, the moments of pain and struggle that occur daily for all of us. And finally, think about a way to live better, for everyone to exist in a way that is naturally cooperative, friendly, just, and fair.
This is the basic precept of all revolutionary and reformer movements. "The way we are living today is insane; it is the source of so much preventable misery and suffering. There is a better way that humans can co-exist on this planet. We must become advocates of this new mode of life." I can remember very clearly the first moments that I made myself a member of these revolutionary moments. I can remember feeling an immense inspiration for the actions I was taking. It was not difficult for me to accurately quote Robert Green Ingersoll, or Mark Twain, or Thomas Paine, right off hand; and it was the words of these great men that filled my heart with the strength and courage to move on. I always fought, long and hard, in order to establish wide-sweeping reforms in to the systems of the world. The plans, ideas, and theories I always proposed were always with the effective aim of eliminating misery and maximizing happiness. I wanted there to be less dependence on animal life as a food source; I wanted the religions to become humanized, so that their sermons would talk about the glory of being good to fellow man instead of the "humility of prayer." The wars that brought our youth back in boxes, the corporations outsourcing labor to slave factories, the politicians selling the rights of the people like they were franchises, all of these things in our modern society I wanted to eliminate and destroy. The companions of evil, in the form of patriotism, piety, and faith, were always my enemies, because they were always the defenders of systems that created and spread the greatest part of misery. These are the passions that have always motivated me.
Among the greatest of reforms to our world that I desired, there was that of Socialism. Observe our society, and you'll see that the greater part is in agreement. Capitalism produces an enormous amount of social ills. Poverty and unemployment are the friends of starvation and misery. Low wages and poor working conditions are the sparks to crime and physical ailments. The government, the alleged voice of the people, stands idle while this great injustice persists. And how could it ever be motivated to do anything against the system of Capitalism? The state is, itself, counted among the privileged class of society. In our world, all knowledgeable and experienced people understand the precepts of revolutionary Socialism. They understand first, that the system of Capitalism has only created poverty, and they understand second, that the systems of government have never voluntarily handed rights over to the public. The slave owners of the south never allowed the word liberty to be spoken, just as the corporate executives of today will always persist in their slave labor transactions. When I started to understand economics, I became closer and closer inclined toward Socialism. I've discovered that, among our intellectuals, people frequently talk about Adam Smith as the father of Capitalism, but rarely do people actually quote Smith; the reason for this being, despite being the alleged father of Capitalism, you can't get far in his writings without discovering that Capitalism is a menace to the good public.
The educated world understands that governments are corrupt, that Free Enterprise is a threat to the people. Wars are only waged so that industries can obtain foreign resources. Elections are held only so that people believe they are free. And mega-corporations will purchase media outlets to sway the news. Understanding these concepts is what makes a person socially aware, a phrase often used by rarely defined. While that understanding might satisfy the need for truth, few people are left with alternatives. The reasons for this are numerous. Whenever a plan of change, revolution, or alteration of the system comes to the people, the self-delegated "leaders of the people" only recreate a system that is equally cruel and unjust. Lenin and Trotsky worked effectively to overthrow feudal conditions under a corrupt Tsar, but they would create a government full of secret police, where the voice of the people was given little consideration in the mechanics of the government. Some self-described "alternative world" theorists propose a new way of doing things, but if you want to know about them, then you better be willing to pay $29.99 for their book, and they'll still try and force you in to a subscription to their bi-monthly newsletter. These prophets of the new order will make some great demands on the present system, but the reason why they always fail, is because they make greater demands on those they claim to be the representatives of. So while the present social order remains antagonistic to true liberty and equity, the people are quite unsure of how to change anything. Many of them are convinced that this is simply the most improved state of civilization; to dream that we can become anything more is to confess to delusional thinking.
What is the aim of Socialism? What does it seek to accomplish? What are its tactics, its reforms, it alterations, its redesigns and reorganizations that it has planned for the new world? The effective goal of Socialism is to eliminate property relationships that cause poverty. For example, bosses, investors, and corporations are extremely wealthy, whereas the workers are in dire poverty. Guided by their fears of starvation and their willingness to survive, the workers submit to the contract laid out before them by the despots of economy. They will submit to low wages, poor conditions, long hours, all so that they can feed and house themselves and their families. The reason why workers are forced in to this kind of situation is because of the property relationship that they have with their bosses. This property relationship, between those who own the wealth and those who do not, came from the natural order of civilization. If you were to take the most able-bodied man, and drop him without equipment or goods in to any jungle, that he would soon die of starvation, or by the sharp and precise hunting instincts of nature's predators. But, if you combine a collection of men together, each with their own, delegated obligations to the others, they would be capable of producing an enormous and vast quantity of wealth. Man is a social animal. With the way he is built, there is no other way for him to exist.
So it happens that all humans are stuck in this civilization, with no or few viable alternatives. Property relationships have grown and become strong. They are based in powerful heritages. Our news reporters, scientists, philosophers, politicians, corporate officers, and conservative think tanks will keep telling us over and over: "The five billion dollars that rich people spent on new expensive cars last year is evidence that you are free." They may assert that it's proof that anyone can rise to that level of wealth. That may or may not be true; I am only concerned with the fact that it is these property relationships that are responsible for the vast amount of poverty and misery in the world. The goal of Socialism is simple: eliminate those property relationships that turn common men in to slaves, obedient to the will of their material masters only so that they can satisfy their hunger as human beings. In what way can we eliminate these relationships? Again, the answer is quite simple. All private property of the Capitalist class, all of their businesses, all of their productive forces, their mines, their factories, their farms, their industries, and their distribution centers must become the property of everyone. That is the average call of the Communist: eliminate private property. It was then and always has been understood that this meant private property in the form of capital, or productive forces. With the public in control of the means of production, the property relationships that cause such great distress to those who know poverty would completely disappear. And, if there is public ownership of the means of production and there is also a free Democracy in place, we will discover a type of society that is without tyranny or poverty.
When you consider them, the ideas sound wonderful. Everything produced by the economy is put in to the hands of those who operated the machinery, labored on the farms, dug the mines, and delivered products and commodities to where they need to be. With this kind of wealth in the hands of the working class, all social ills would come close to ceasing entirely. Homelessness is not a condition of humanity. It is not caused by certain humans having inferior traits, which prevent them from living happy, successful, and hopeful lives. It is caused purely be the economic condition in which the worker is placed today. It is the circumstance of low wages and high prices, the greatest misery for the greatest amount of toil. Eliminate Capitalism, and all homelessness and beggars will disappear from our cities. They will be given a just wage for just labor. The condition that causes them to be homeless will be removed. We should also see a lift in unemployment. It is the task of the Capitalist to decrease costs and increase profits; much of the time, this means cutting worker hours or laying off employees. In a social system built with the interests of the workers in mind, there will be productive, useful, and good-paying labor for all workers. Those government programs, like welfare and food stamps, that are used to curtail the amount of people who are starving and dying in the middle of our streets -- these programs would immediately become ineffective. Everyone would be given a fair chance to enter whichever profession they desired and to become a productive gear in society; everyone will be paid well. I imagine that a two or three hour workday might be a possibility. And, on top of paying the private interests of the workers well, the public interest of society would be well financed. All schools, hospitals, and other publicly funded or regulated industries would be given the kind of money they need in order to give effective medical care and liberating education.
Property crime would dwindle to almost nothing. There is no doubt that poverty is the cause of theft. In times of economic recession, people are driven by want and necessity to thievery; it is not the debased side of human instinct that drives a working class man to rob his fellow. In such a society, where the workers were in possession of the means of production, the risk for crime would increase dramatically and its reward would be very little. If a man working a machine in a factory can earn thirty dollars an hour, it is less likely that he would risk eight to twelve years in prison for stealing less than fifty dollars worth of merchandise by burglary. Conservative thinkers want others to believe that it is a person's race, or their mental illness, or their simple lack of humanity that drives them to crime, whether it's related just to theft or to drugs or violence. "The problem with the average citizen is not that they are not paid enough," the Conservative tells us, "Men are driven to crime by having a black heart, not by want." Their arguments are made to convince all of us that crime is the result of inhumanity and not Capitalism. The new social organization has great promise to eliminate the greater portion of property crime. But Socialism is the great enemy of Free Enterprise, and the Conservatives will hires armies of soldiers and police officers to restrain starving men before they give in to the demands of the workers. To quote Sir Francis Bacon...
All of the evidence tells us that we should eliminate this system of Capitalism. Free Enterprise has only worked to bring out the most debased instincts of mankind; it gives men profit by exploiting the labor of others. It turns the thievery of work in its own trade. There are accountants, investors, stock analysts, stockbrokers, corporate executives, corporate officials, lobbyists, and at least a thousand other rungs in the corporate ladder. These IMF and World Bank soldiers are the grease that makes the gears of Capitalism turn. It is the most mechanized and efficient method of Capitalism defending Capitalism. But we, as an assorted congregation of progressives, communists, socialists, and other leftist social reformers, it is we who must oppose the system of private property. We must take from the hands of all Capitalists the wealth that we have built. It rightfully belongs to us, its producers. This one reform, of making all farms and factories the property of the public, would eliminate the greatest part of all social ills. Crime and poverty would be wiped from the face of the earth. The only thing that is preventing mankind from turning this hell in to a type of worker's paradise is the existing order of Capitalists, industrialists, and investors. Those who make their wealth simply by possessing wealth are the enemies of justice. And, we must oppose them, if we are ever to achieve that better world that we deservedly hope for.
Part 2: Government is the Enemy of Socialism
Life in our society has been so miserable, and all of its misery stems from that infected root of Free Enterprise. Ravachol, the French Anarchist bomb thrower tells us of the people who die, "... voluntarily by suicides of all kinds, in order to put an end to a miserable existence and not to have to put up with the rigors of hunger, with countless shames and humiliations, and who are without hope of ever seeing them end." [Ravachol, Ravachol's Forbidden Speech.] If a world were to be created, where everyone was supplied with what was necessary for them to live, laboring in safe, dignified, and just work conditions, the pains of our world would end. The world's newfound wealth would help cure diseases, end crime, and abolish poverty. Socialism and Communism are powerful theories that have become the primary element of all revolutionary and leftist ideology. Every group, from the Black Panthers to the Progressive Parties, has admitted that Marx and Engels were prophets of a new and better world. In his study of society, Marx detailed the brutality and inhumanity that was the basis for Capitalism, and he detailed the basic formation of a society based on communal ownership of property. Those people who became interested in changing the oppressive systems of wealth were called revolutionaries. Different groups in this league of social reformers attempted different ways of accomplishing their goal of what say may call Socialism and others would call Communism. Similarly, each group tended to have variations of Marx's theories and variations in the legislative process of a government. But all of them attempted to achieve a political end. To quote Benjamin Jowett when writing on Plato's Republic...
To many, it was necessary to implement a government-based sanction, in order to accomplish their objectives. Those who wanted to abolish drunkenness and drug use, for example, were in support of an amendment that would outlaw alcohol. They were Prohibitionists, in order to bring life to their theory, the theory that alcohol is harmful socially, they worked to make it a crime to drink alcohol. The same can be said of those who oppose pornography, drug use, or prostitution. It is in their theory about humanity that these things are harmful and degenerative of human spirit, and in order to accomplish a better world, we must eliminate these things. It was by use of law, and never of moral argument, that these churches and religious coalitions worked by. Much like the days of the Crusades, the religious institutions of our world used coercion, bribery, and mindless propaganda in order to utilize force. By outlawing these things, those members of the subcultures were persecuted, outcast, and imprisoned. Of course, not all influencers of the law are cruel or heinous. In fact, those who worked to change and reform the law have also brought about greater freedoms, by eliminating the state's church, demanding freedom of speech, abolishing child labor, and giving civil rights to the minorities. But, in one way or another, these different groups attempted to change the social system that they were born in to. And all of them tried to change the social system by gaining political power.
That is to say, either by use of election and party campaigning, or by use of military force, Socialist and Communist groups have attempted to gain political power; this is what they've called "revolutionary activity." The only countries where radical Communist groups have gained power through war were nations that long been infected with a decaying and unjust government. However, as these "ultra-leftists" worked to gain control of the political structures of a nation, mostly by processes of party building and campaigning, it was only to gain the power of the state. That has been the primary end of all of the theorists who take a position against the cruel menace of Capitalism. Whenever they acted socially, whether it was in cooperation with community groups or other non-government organizations, it was always with the effort of political activism. They wanted to promote the ideal of the Socialist and Communist party, in order to convince people to vote away the horrors that infect their society. They also are constantly feeding on party donations. "Put your money where your mouth is! Donate, so we can convince others through lawn signs and obscure, half-hearted pamphleting efforts!" is the war cry of our rank-and-file Communist Party member. We have seen the fruits of our Socialist parties in Europe. They've created shorter workweeks and higher living conditions. However, they have not done away with the Capitalist system, and we still see many examples of misery and poverty standing side-by-side with wealth and affluence.
Have our ideals gone astray? Have we lost sight of a better world? Are we lost again, stuck between a George Orwellian government and a society resembling Upton Sinclair's The Jungle? Are we forever to be watched and studied for signs of resistance, either under a corporation-dominated world, or under the regime of a totalitarian government? The Soviet government of Russia, the Third Reich of Germany, the Japanese Empire, the oppressive state of Red China -- all of these are the greatest display of slavery and cruel governing. Yet, in every case, the party that gained power always explained itself as the savior of the people, and each time, the party used the awkward and ill-defined mechanics of government bureaucracy to gain more power. Systems of lobbyists, secret organizations, armed storm troopers, using the revolutionaries to win the war, but imprisoning them for their ideals after the state has control, all of these things have become the staple of revolutionary governments. Once it felt like the true enemy of humanity, the Capitalist class, has been identified, we feel that we are back in the grip of paralysis, as every government, in every age, has always shown itself to become unbelievable brutal and cruel in some form or another. It seems like a hopeless situation at first, because we are all well aware that the governments defend themselves with the idea that they are the guardian of the people, but in the end, the governments have always been guardians of their own interests. And this is the meeting ground of two political theories, two different understandings of the world that share common threads in the knitting of their philosophy.
There is the Anarchist position, sometimes associating with thought trends in Libertarianism and Democracy, and there is the Communist position, in certain cases, parallel to Socialism and Marxism. Theoretically, the idea of a weak or non-existent government is also coupled with the idea of equally oppressive and inhumane corporations. And, again, theoretically, Communist governments create a ruling class which was just as oppressive as the Capitalist class, their sworn enemy. Those rebel forces in third world nations that fight for political autonomy, for representative or democratic government over plutocratic and oppressive monarchies, they consider themselves Nationalists, in that they are fighting for their country's independence. On the other hand, there are the Socialists who advocate peace and acceptance of all cultures. As a rule, we are all opposed to Patriotism and Nationalism of any kind, as it is a hindrance to creating solidarity with all workers to overthrow our oppressor: the Capitalist class. Some Conservatives have hailed the call of Libertarianism, as a means of limiting the power and capabilities of government, but at the same time strengthening business as though corporate executives were the philosopher-kings of Plato's Republic. Some Liberals, on the other hand, have hailed the call of Socialism as means of limiting the exploitation of the Capitalist class upon the working proletariat. While society seems content to put a sliding scale on the issue of politics, left or right, there are actually two questions: the one of wealth distribution (involving work wages, tariffs, income tax rates, sanctions on foreign sweat shop labor, etc., etc.) and the other of national and international policy (involving gun control, war, colonialism, political slavery of third world nations, etc., etc.).
The theory of Anarchist Communism, Anarcho-Communism, or Libertarian Communism is based on a single premise: all authority is apt to its own corruption, and to create misery, in the form of oppression or poverty, for all who are under its power. There is the economic slavery, such as an employer setting a low wage and threatening you with starvation if you refuse. There is also the political slavery, of an enormous government working to satisfy the interests of a few top, property-owning class, whether its the government itself (Statist Communism) or to corporations (such as America right now, outsourcing labor to slave camps in Asia). Since all power and all authority is the cause of our miseries in this life, we must then create and live in a system where authority and power have no place at all. All previous power-holding groups have always abused the right of being a state. Their argument is that they protect the public, but in the end, it is the public that always needs protection from their rulers. Progress in our political systems was never made by granting more powers to our authorities. All revolutions and social orgasms have been instigated by the notion that the authorities are too powerful, that they hold too much authority. In the past, this meant aristocracies, despotisms, and monarchies, or in one word: dictatorship. Only the ultra-conservative thinkers of our day think that corporations need to have more powers, that police officers should be able to imprison anyone for up to two years, or that the United States should declare on all "racially inferior continents" in order to enslave them. Today, such suggestions are given no consideration; the society of the world did not make progress by giving authority, power, and wealth to the ruling class, but by demanding them to give their power and wealth to the people!
I can understand the appeal that my Communist and Socialist comrades have in trying to capture the power of the state. "By using force and authority, we can turn around the government's position, from aiding and abetting the exploitation of the working class, to becoming their defender!" This is their typical war cry. While their strength and determination may be inspiring, their argument falls to an error. Sure, there may be elected representatives like Robert La Follette of Wisconsin, a member of the Progressive party who used the authority of the state to investigate and stop employers from union-breaking activities. It's very true, that there are now and then state authorities that capture the will of the people and express it fluently, but it is a rare condition, especially in the United States, where such apathetic and mindless representatives hold the masses in an almost hypnotic state. For example, the Food and Drug Administration was initially created in order to protect the average American citizen, by making the products he uses safe and effective. But today, it is a federal agency completely and totally dominated by the pharmaceutical industry's influence. It is now a situation where companies pay doctors to recommend ineffective treatments to patients, in order to increase sales. It is now a situation where effective medications, such as Marijuana, Ibogaine, and hallucinogens are banned, because they are natural and have no patent; therefore, the pharmaceutical industry has no use for it. To quote the Sociologist G. William Domhoff...
The FDA is not the only government agency that has been hijacked out of the hands of the American public. The American schooling system, for example, was initially created as a method of preventing children from being used in hazardous labor. If you take a glance at any of the anti-child labor activists' writings of 1900 to 1930, you'd come to that conclusion. If you went to public school in America, you'd understand also how this system has also been converted by the ruling class, despite the fact that it was made as a savior of the people. The primary function of school in society is to instill in the youth an early response to authority. This exposure to authority, to punishment, to orders, to permission, to the suspicious eyes of what seems like immutable power; all of it is to create a sense of submission to authority in the entire population. Also, children are taught to have satisfaction and enjoyment at "busy work." Otherwise dull, uneducational, boring, and desensitizing material assaults the humane conscience in every direction, leaving a citizen dispossessed of all natural feelings, with an obedience to the system. These are educational trends we find in our modern schools of the west, from grade school to universities, as well as under oppressive governments that torture and murder their citizens. For example, consider the educational system that led to the millions of deaths caused by the Nazi war machine and the Gestapo; I quote a historian of the Third Reich...
...and elsewhere, the same author writes...
The government always has more institutions than just the educational system and the single consumer protection agency. There are environmental agencies that look for polluters and destroyers of the earth. There are labor agencies that investigate abuses of the Capitalist class on its own workers. The regulatory agents of the state exert an enormous amount of influence. And, before I over dull the discussion, I bring up one last final quote by the editor of The New Republic...
The government has set up organizations to monitor either its own activities or the activities of other highly powerful groups. And in almost every case, these federal agencies have been hijacked by economic authorities. The schools, the FDA, the environmental agencies, everything, has been usurped by our Capitalist enemies. To quote the Anarchist philosopher Errico Malatesta...
We must then approach the question of attaining Socialism through different means. We have always maintained that it is economic authority which causes misery. A brief study of the history of government will also tell us that the governments of the world have always cooperated with oppressors in robbing and killing the people. The most adequate suggestion is that of Anarcho-Syndicalism, a mode of revolution as well as an aim of our activities. By organizing in to worker unions, threatening strikes and boycotts for better privileges, organizing and federating unions, and then threatening strikes for higher demands, such as concessions from the state, we have a powerful machine driven for the cause of the people. Protests, picketing, sit-ins, and any other kind of symbolic protests have usually had only a minimal impact. I would like to see what happens to our wonderful system of Capitalism if the world's coal-miners went on strike for one week, or if the transportation industry was completely shut down for three days. Imagine if the factories that made all the police riot gear were subject to sabotage by inside union activities for a period of several months. If you want to protest to change the system, do it where it counts: refuse to work. Of course, this is most effective when you already have a position in the system, where you can organize, and then demand concessions to your side in order for to resume your work on behalf of the system. If the majority of the United States were unionized, those crimes and miseries that inflict the population would be curable without great difficulty. This is Anarcho-Syndicalism. It is by this process that we, the working class, will ever be able to attain better and more humane living conditions, for ourselves and the workers of all lands.