Socialism gets such bad press that people these days generally assume themselves to be capitalists. In part this is because any country which dares to forge its own path independent of the US-Israel alliance and its junior partners earns the ire of the globalist hegemony. This has led, particularly since the post-war era, to a political context dominated by right-wing ambition with humankind evolving – increasingly backwards – into a huddled mass of froth dwellers, seemingly unable to stop themselves from messing up their own nest. They always, in general, believe their country is the finest, are grateful for democracy, know that socialism is bad and Christianity is good, and bare their arms with urgency for mass vaccination. You must join the herd for the herd is blessed, it knows all and provides all who follow with immunity from their own ignorance, and with clear boundaries for their fears.
I personally don’t give a rat’s hat about any of that, except for the bit about messing up the nest, a.k.a. my beloved Earth – it’s a bodeful trend which everyone loves to complain about but are too self-absorbed to simply put into reverse. Instead of barking on like them, I have examined the issues (first principles) and founded the Landbase Project as an expression of my findings.
The solution that I propose runs along the track of: healthy soil, healthy people, healthy work, healthy democracy. It requires a terrain of …
- a practical understanding of the science of sustainability;
- a re-settlement of the land;
- the socialisation of agriculture; and
- a pioneering spirit.
Huh… socialisation of agriculture? That wouldn’t be… Oh no! Not… socialism? Hopefully what follows will slash down some of those weeds, enough to bring the ground into view and peg out some turf. This is a …”Who will help me sow the wheat?” moment in a new story.
To clear a line of sight straight on past socialism to the universal goals, first we need to ask: Why is socialism so despised by its opponents that they feel justified in murderous violence, illegal war, political assassination, and so on? I have pondered that question for a while, long enough to have reached a conclusion. It is not that startling, but I want to frame it into the largest possible context. Having inherited such a messed up lexicon, how are people going to find a common purpose with that?
I’ve parcelled the relevant chunks into a trail of steps, hopefully compact and logical enough for my readers. Please read it right through first, then come back to the resource links and videos on the second time. They are extensions of the discussion, with specifically useful details and insights within each—not just references.
1 : The Private Life of Cows, Flight zones – BBC (2012) [14 mins.]
2 : Making Sense of Sustainability … (upcoming book) Scholes, R.
3 : Sustainable Development: The Post-Capitalist Order. [EdX online, 8-part course] (2019).
Politics in practice is as much a struggle of morality as it is of class.
The core of politics is easily understood. Simply put, it’s about distribution—of territory, rights, and entitlements. Just to clarify that idea of entitlement, here’s an instance. During the Irish Potato Famine (1845–49) there was no insufficiency of food in Ireland. At that very time the wealthier farmers in Ireland (mainly English landlords) were getting good prices for Irish wheat in London. Because it was their produce they had every right to make that choice. The Irish peasants meanwhile were starving because they lacked compelling entitlements: a little money or charity would have sufficed.
Needless to say those gentlemen considered each other as Christians.
The crust is important but it’s the filling that makes the pie.
The idea of rule by majority, democracy, is augured as a right for the free, as a firewall against tyranny, and as a coming out from subjugation. In practice however, keeping that freedom portal open requires more than just voting. It also requires embodying and defending three social-wide mutual assurances – basic moral values (honesty, fairness and respect); a well-informed public (relevant free education, and unconstrained information); and a sizeable middle-class majority (with adequate spare time and finances).
Otherwise, once those norms are eroded, the tension of relative insufficiency sets in, and competition with others becomes the status quo. Intensified competition turns into seeking advantage; then to taking advantage; then to exploitation. Private success within such an economic setting can bring wealth and power, and offers a particular moral choice—whether to share the yield with others or not.
To summarise: when the majority are unable to uphold the mutualising assurances mentioned, then it faces entanglement in the other alternative. It becomes increasingly unable to prevent the Establishment from regaining control, devising bureaucratic weapons for mass dispossession, and a gradual readjustment of political expectations. Once compromised democracy becomes merely procedural, and anti-change*. Subjugation in some form or another is quietly normalised.
*We cannot merely vote our way to freedom and equality.
The familiar Yin-Yang symbol epitomises the observation that the play of life works the way it does because of the tension between opposites… charged batteries, swinging pendulums, the rise and fall of the tide. Noticing how this duality appears almost everywhere is a compelling observation. It was even the basis of an ancient cosmology, Manichaeism, which between the third and seventh centuries became one of the most widespread religions in the world.
In true polarity, the attraction of opposites manifests as change, along a continuum, typically attempting to achieve a neutral mid position, e.g. a flattened battery. Sometimes what appear to be opposites, such as the sun and the moon, are not linked by a continuum. I’ll call them pseudo-opposites. Other pseudo-opposites are; heaven and earth, life and death, old and new… In politics we find lots of emotionally-charged polarised labels—a cause of confusion.
Our particular focus here is on comparing the Left vs. Right, against the Socialism vs. Capitalism labels. Are they polar opposites or are they pseudo-opposites? Most people can agree that they often overlap … but exactly how ?
The Political Spectrum
Politically-motivated authoritarianism, whether Left or Right, always turns to oppressive subjugation.
If Left and Right are polar opposites, find the continuum which connects them. Firstly, it must be of a political nature, in other words distribution-driven. Secondly, the tension between public/ social interest and private/ self interests must have variable outcomes. So yes, it is a continuum—‘relative selfishness’might seem a little harsh as a name, but the point is the continuum does exit.
The real-life difficulties arise when no position on that continuum is agreeable to everyone. Persuasion or coercion? Some degree of enforcement is always needed, and this is where the confusion about Left vs. Right, and Socialism vs. Capitalism, often arises. To sort that out the basic Left-Right continuum needs to have another axis added to it, especially for depicting enforcement levels. At one end are the authoritarian bullies usually identifiable by their uniforms, guns, and bristly walls[#1]. At the other end is government-less self rule through personal self-disciple and social agreement, sometimes called libertarianism. Well-known commentators at this end are the Tibetan Dalai Lama and Prof. Noam Chomsky.
The 2D charting of political positions is well represented by the website, Political Compass. It is well worth a visit to see this idea in action. This idea would be greatly enhanced however by the addition of a third axis, for morality. The role of morality in democracy has already been described, but there is also a very strong link between morality and sustainability—a topic I tackle in my (upcoming) book. By that means a political candidate’s or party’s policy position might be evaluated in regard to their potential impacts on the environment.
The Great Divide
Within consciousness all experience is divided: into Me (as subject) and Not-me (everything else, as objects). This differentiation, the assumption of separation from everything else, including the divine, is the uninspected but universally experienced root-sense of personal discontent. The Me is motivated by its own instinct for survival and freedom from suffering more than by anything else.
The extent to which Me will endeavour to encompass everything else, (all not-Me), is part of what determines Me’s position on the Left-Right continuum. The point here is that living on the Left-Right axis is unavoidable, therefore study it.
The Lesser Divide
Background: Originally Left vs. Right came from the seating arrangement in France’s National Assembly during the French Revolution (1789). Supporters of the then aristo-clerical regime sat on the right, while supporters of the revolution sat to the left. They came mostly from a new class of increasingly numerous and prosperous elite of wealthy commoners—merchants, manufacturers, and professionals privileged by the swelling Industrial Revolution. Similarly in England the Liberals, on behalf of the poor, were challenging the landed gentry, the Conservatives. These early Lefties were the first capitalists. But it was not long before they needed to protect their own wealth. Other bottom-up collectives, first communism then the labour movement, dominated the Left throughout the 20th Century.
Description: Since its beginnings the Left-Right division has be variously regarded as; the struggle between social interest (We) versus private interests (Me); the struggle of the classes; the notion of principled cooperation versus competitive self-interest; or workers versus bosses, or more generally between the poor and the rich.
Socialism versus capitalism often gets conflated with Left versus Right, but that association is an oversimplification. A clearer distinction needs be made. Socialism and capitalism are pseudo-opposites, they do not lie on their own continuum.
Rather they are more like a shooting gallery of bogeymen which are demonised according one’s leanings. Socialism (always political) can be practised on the Right, and capitalism (not always political) can be practised on the Left. Confusion is further compounded when an historically enforcement style gets conflated with a political position.
So, to clear up the confusion around socialism who better than Prof. Wolff. ⇒ ⇒
To Take or Not: To dig a little deeper consider the phrase – ‘to help yourself’. We can all agree that everyone should look after themselves and take care of their own. But the same phrase has a quite different meaning: to take as much as you like, at your own discretion. Under those terms there comes a point where what one takes is disproportionately disadvantageous to others; either now or later; for one’s rivals, or the world at large. That point is not so much about quotas, laws and values, but about morality – and not the rote rules of rusted religion, but the felt intuition of prior unity, something real and experienced as a conscience, by most of us.
Those who like to over-help themselves, the self-serving and the morally-deficient find a home for their views on the political Right. And, within an economy as determinedly impoverishing as ours even the poor will go there for a few crumbs.
14 : The difference between socialism and communism and what they both missed. Prof. Richard Wolff, (2019) [7 mins.]
15 : The Authoritarians. Prof. Robert Altemeyer, (2006). [pdf]
16 : Money on the Mind, (2013). [9 mins.]
The Uber Right
Dieu et Mon Droit [ ♥ ]
Essentially capitalism means the investing of money into a means of production, which essentially is a non-political arrangement. So why this endlessly aggressive anti-socialism drum banging? As capitalism developed during the 1800s the mean-spirited subjugation of the poor became its stamp. Strictly speaking that was the Capitalist Right. In so doing the Capitalist Left was quickly spurned.
Following upon two industrialised world wars came a period of public prosperity, soon depleted however by the Capitalist Right in the 90s. Aided by emerging extreme wealth, they were able to smash the Left in many countries and seize the remaining collective assets at the state level. ⇒ ⇒
The global financial crash of 2008 brought about another ill-deserved massive transfer of ownership to the Capitalist Right.
Today, in spite of the overwhelming proportion of poor to rich, and the widely recognised need for urgent change, and the valiant efforts from many quarters, the Left remains in need of a unifying vision. Perhaps the Scandinavian/ Nordic social-democratic, self-contained, high-taxation economic model the best they should expect. The World Bank would like everyone to think so.
What the [bottom-up] Left now faces is a power collective comprising the neo-libs, the neo-cons; the zio-cons; the World-Bank-UN-WTO consortium; the FIRE industry (Finance, Insurance, Real Estate); the giant seed monopolists; the global banking industry, and so on. It could also be explained as [top-down] stateless communism, totalitarian capitalism, a (new) World Order. Better still, the emerging Final Empire .
Red vs. Blue (US)
Know them by their deeds, not by their words.
The USA has its own unique and bizarre political polarity; Capitalist Right (with agendas ranging through race gender healthcare and tax…) versus Capitalist Right (with agendas for raging at the other mob). The outcome is an endless opinionated divisiveness of self-imposed impedimenta, which rest of the world should not feel obliged to comprehend. ⇒ ⇒
Also in the context of American politics, there is this recurring pattern of elected officials and private citizens alike manufacturing political hysteria to isolate minorities, silence dissent, to justify foreign invasion, and to stem the growth of civil rights and liberties .
America has become the world-leader in democracy gone rotten. It political parties are corporations funded by corporate donors.
17a: Worker Cooperatives, Prof. R. Wolff. (Jimmy Dore Show, May’18) [14 mins].17b: The Mondragon Experiment – Corporate Cooperativism, BBC. (1980)18 : Someone Else’s Country – NZ, (1996). [68 mins.]
19 : The Coming Collapse of the Middle Class – Prof. Elizabeth Warren, (2007) [58 mins.]
20 : Data Governance and the new frontiers of resistance – Gurumurthy, A., Chami, N. (Feb’20)
21 : The Power of Nightmares. Curtis A. – 3-part series (2004) [3 hrs.]
The End Game
That’s the frame, it’s a bit disjointed but adequate. Now at last, the skin to stretch across it.
Subjugation of the known world has been the dominant theme throughout history. Attempts at empire often follow from the invention of some new weapon of mass destruction: the chariot; the gladius; aerial bombing. Typically this proceeds from plunder, to taking land, seizing slaves, and demands for tribute. The problem with owning slaves however is that they need housing, feeding and health care. It is now more efficient to use digital weapons of mass dispossession – compound interest, databases and surveillance – paying the subjects enough to cover their own self care, etc.
Gallant horseback poses depicting mastery may no longer be a thing, but the drive for ultimate control over everyone and everything remains. Even though capitalism is equated with free-enterprise business, it hides a seed of great power – the right to mastership, to compel others. To protect that precious seed the Uber-Right will use any cruelty, violence or deception it chooses. The one thing that has always threatened that seed is socially-organised cooperation from the bottom-up Left. Rebellion must be quashed, and to that end the blanket brainwashing against socialism remains its most widely effective deterrent.
My conclusion is that the empire is more interested in solving the herd than it is in addressing the causes of global warming, poverty and conflict, etc. It seeks only to own the means and monopolise control over them. In which case, to truly solve global warming will require solving global empire.
Those people who bring change are, first of all, acting on their own interests, and usually at the expense of those who (merely) hope for it. If you spotted the feedback loop above, then you’ll understand the means for responsible change.
‘We have met the enemy and he is us.’ ~ Pogo [ ♥ ]
Resources – full list
01 : The Private Life of Cows – (herds, flight zones) BBC (2013). [14 mins.]
02 : Making Sense of Sustainability … (upcoming book) Scholes, R.
03 : Sustainable Development: The Post-Capitalist Order (2019). [EdX 8-part online course]
04 : Ireland’s Holocaust (2009).
05 : Democracy vs. Despotism, (1946) [20 mins.]
06 : Billions In Change 2, (2017) [27 mins.]
07 : Extreme Poverty and Human Rights, USA, (UN report, 2017).
08 : Why Democracy Has Failed. (2018) [22 mins.]
11 : Noam Chomsky: Writer, linguist… anarchist? (2019).
12 : Where do You fit on the Political Compass?
13 : Making Sense of Sustainability: A breakthrough in understanding the workings and appraisal of sustainability. Scholes, R. (upcoming book)
14 : The difference between socialism and communism and what they both missed. Prof. Richard Wolff, (2019)
15 : The Authoritarians. Prof. Robert Altemeyer. (2006). [pdf]
16 : Money on the Mind. UC Berkeley study, (2013). [9 mins.]
17a: Worker Cooperatives, Prof. Richard Wolff. (Jimmy Dore Show, May’18) [14 mins].
17b: The Mondragon Experiment – Corporate Cooperativism, BBC. (1980) [72 mins.]
18 : Someone Else’s Country – NZ, (1996). [68 mins.]19: The Coming Collapse of the Middle Class – Prof. Elizabeth Warren, (2007) [58 mins.]
20 : Data Governance and the new frontiers of resistance – Gurumurthy, A., Chami, N. (Feb’20)
21 : The Power of Nightmares. Curtis A. – 3-part series (2004)
22 : How America Hates Socialism without Knowing Why.– Lixing Sun (2016).