The top ten reasons to be optimistic, politically, no matter how bad the situation seems at present.
As those of you who know me will know, I am a very pessimistic person, politically speaking. For the time being I think that we, meaning both the working class and those of us who are the minority of the class who want to create a free, communist society, are pretty much fucked.
In the current worldwide battles against austerity we are losing for the most part1 , as we have been for the last 30-odd years and as we will continue to do I reckon for a good few more.
With this backdrop many people feel that "there is no alternative", and things can never be any other way and even many pro-revolutionaries end up getting demoralised and dropping out.2 Writer Mark Fisher noted that it is "easier to imagine the end of the world than to imagine the end of capitalism" and indeed this is true. Although most end of the world scenarios presented in dystopian films3 are actually incredibly unrealistic, far less so than the idea that a short-lived and completely irrational economic system won't last forever.4
However in spite of all this, and in spite of my own negativity I do think there are several key causes for optimism about the long-term prospects of creating a communist society, despite how distant it seems. Which are:
Capitalism has only been around properly for a little over 200 years, whereas humans have been around for 200,000 years. For comparison in scale, if humans had been around for 24 hours then capitalism has existed for less than two minutes. It is a blip, and it would be naive to think it would last forever just as most people before us were naive in thinking that feudalism and the divine right of kings was the natural state of things and would last forever.
Over the past 100 years in particular, capital has been able to use what Beverly Silver in her excellent book Forces of Labour calls "spatial fixes", whereby employers bypass working-class militancy by outsourcing. Workers in car factories in the UK and US, for example, took militant industrial action for years to win good wages and conditions, so employers shut down plants and moved them to places like Brazil and Korea. Where the same thing happened again so they moved again to China, India etc.
However, now, new places for capital to move are running out. And workers in the most low-wage economies like China, Vietnam and Bangladesh are fighting back and starting to win.
Sure, there are some places left for this type of capital to go, like parts of Africa: but not many. So this, which essentially has been the ultimate weapon against the working class over the past century, will no longer be available to employers.
And capital used to be able to expand as the European empires conquered new lands and pulled them into the capitalist system. But now capitalism is a fully global system, with nowhere else to expand to.
By every conceivable indicator, our army that remains in Vietnam is in a state approaching collapse, with individual units avoiding or having refused combat, murdering their officers and non-commissioned officers, drug-ridden, and dispirited where not near mutinous.
- Marine Colonel Robert D. Heinl Jr.
Ultimately the power of governments and employers is based on them being able to hire some workers to kill for them. As the American businessmen Jay Gould said: "I can hire one-half of the working class to kill the other half."
And while unfortunately it will always be the case that governments will be able to find people to kill for them the number who are prepared to do so has plummeted, particularly in the West, and seems unlikely to recover.
In World War I millions of workers went to their deaths reasonably happily at first to kill their fellow workers who just happened to be German or French or English or what have you. But it ended with mutinies on the English side and full-blown revolutions in Germany and Russia.
Even in World War II which had a high degree of ideological support from much of the population, only 15-20% of soldiers actually fired at the enemy.5
And after the mass mutinies of GIs in Vietnam in the 1960s and 70s there has not been nearly as significant a ground invasion by any Western power, nor do I think there is likely to be.
Of course this doesn't mean that war will end, unfortunately it has just meant that governments have had to change their tactics from major ground invasions to more remote aerial and artillery bombardment, which also has the effect of massively increasing civilian casualties compared with military ones.6 But air and artillery power is not that helpful in maintaining social order at home, as Colonel Gaddafi recently discovered.
As technology continues to improve, the possibilities for ending human suffering and the reality of that continuing suffering become even more ridiculously extreme.
Even now despite massive technological and production increases, we continue to work longer and longer hours. And the annual income of the world's 100 richest people alone would be enough to end extreme poverty worldwide.7 And nearly 1 billion people go hungry while half of the world's food is wasted.8
On top of this, other technological developments, such as the fact that there is now the technology to allow everyone to have an instant voting device mean that representative government where we elect (usually who we think are "the least worst") people to vote on policies for us for four or five years is almost laughably outdated. These discrepancies will continue to get bigger and even more unjustifiable.
Even now all of the ideological bases of the main prejudices which have divided the working class and pitted us against each other: sexism, racism and homophobia, have been completely disproven from a scientific point of view.
Of course on its own unfortunately this is not enough to mean that these prejudices will end. They are all deeply rooted in our economic system, in society and in culture.
However despite the working class as a whole being on the defensive since the 70s, women, black and other non-white people and LGBTQ people have continued to fight prejudiced attitudes and discrimination and have won many significant gains, especially in the Western world, including widespread attitudinal change, the narrowing of pay gaps and anti-discrimination laws which, while they are often weak and badly enforced, do provide some level of protection. In many ways they have forced capitalism itself to change, from crudely using prejudice as a form of social control to attempting to co-opt different oppressed groups into a multicultural, socially liberal capitalism with a friendly face.
I do not mean to lessen the problems which clearly still exist: like huge pay gaps between men and women, endemic physical and sexual violence against women, discrimination, mass incarceration and police harassment of black and people from minority ethnic backgrounds, widespread homophobic bullying to name but a few. But these struggles have had many successes, and I believe that trend will continue.
Across much of the world legitimacy of governments and politicians is at all-time lows.9 This is a trend which shows no signs of reversing.
This on its own is not enough to make social change happen: as in many areas cynicism is growing alongside resignation that things can't change. However this is a necessary condition of any radical social change which will get to the root causes of our problems rather than just swap one set of self-interested politicians for another.
New communications technologies, particularly including the internet and social media have made widespread indication possible for grassroots movements and individuals.
This has made it much harder for governments to lie to the population, and for them to keep secrets from the population. While this isn't so significant in times of relative social peace10 it becomes much more so in times of social unrest, where actual change seems possible. Historically, in revolutionary times governments and companies have relied on mass disinformation to demobilise and derail revolutionary movements, and to cover up their own atrocities. Now this is not so easy for them, and it will continue to become more difficult.
Meet the new boss, same as the old boss… We won't get fooled again.
- The Who
The dead end tactics of the alphabet soup11 of Leninist, Trotskyist, Maoist, Stalinist, Hoxhaist etc "vanguard" parties for the supposed liberation of the working class have been tried, have failed miserably12 and have been widely discredited in the eyes of the majority of the world's population.
And with the collapse of the USSR, a key global source for the funding and co-optation of working class movements has gone.
Both of which increase the possibility of a libertarian13 politics becoming the dominant trend in any mass working class or revolutionary movement.
Nowadays more and more products are becoming abstract electronic entities which can be shared freely, and which are by tens of millions of people. With the availability of e-readers, books have joined music, films and TV shows in being items which it becomes increasingly absurd, and increasingly socially unacceptable to have to pay for.
The advent of 3-D printers will massively expand the number of goods which corporations will find increasingly hard to actually recoup payment on - and file sharing torrent sites have already started hosting 3-D printing templates of physical items.
10. Star Trek
A lot has changed in three hundred years. People are no longer obsessed with the accumulation of ‘things’. We have eliminated hunger, want, the need for possessions.
The economics of the future is somewhat different. You see, money doesn’t exist in the 24th century… The acquisition of wealth is no longer the driving force in our lives. We work to better ourselves and the rest of humanity.
- Captain Picard
Basically everything in Star Trek becomes true, and the world in Star Trek is communist, so it is bound to happen.
So, in short no matter how bad things are at the moment eventually, in the wise words of Ke$ha, (libertarian) communism will win.
Image concept credit to the Keshek tumblr
- 1 Despite a good few promising signs like the Arab spring and recent protest movements in Turkey and Brazil.
- 2 On this note I think an important cause of activist burnout is unrealistic expectations. We should be realistic in our expectations of what our political activity will be able to achieve, which unfortunately will be very low to nil, even if not actually counter-productive. Having this attitude it's much easier to avoid burnout, as you will not constantly be disappointed that you haven't managed to recreate the Paris commune in your street yet.
- 3 For example: zombie apocalypse, clever monkeys, giant asteroid, Clive Owen unable to have babies…
- 4 "Irrational" meaning that many aspects of it are entirely contrary to common sense, for example the world producing a surplus of food yet hundreds of millions starve, or that products are deliberately made to break down with "planned obsolescence" etc. Indeed, if capitalism didn't exist no one would invent it.
- 5 On Killing: The Psychological Cost of Learning to Kill in War and Society - Dave Grossman
- 6 Civilian fatalities in wartime have increased from 5% of the total from the start of the 20th century to 90% by the end - http://www.unicef.org/graca/patterns.htm - Retrieved on 14.07.13
- 7http://www.oxfam.org/en/pressroom/pressrelease/2013-01-19/annual-income-richest-100-people-enough-end-global-poverty-four-times - retrieved on 10/07/2013
- 8http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2013/jan/10/half-world-food-waste - retrieved on 10.07.2013
- 9 For example in the UK in 2011 only 14% of people thought politicians tell the truth, in the US only 15% of people trusted the government to do the right thing always or most of the time.
- 10 See the leaks of Bradley Manning and Edward Snowden, to which the most common response is generally "well, that sucks, but so what?"
- 11 SWP, WRP, SP, CPGB, CPB, RCG, RCP, CPB-ML, CPGB (PCC), ISO…
- 12 See: Russia, North Korea, Cuba, China, Vietnam etc
- 13 Meaning non-state, anti-political, not to be confused with right-wing American "Libertarians"
Eleventh reason. I
Eleventh reason. I wantsssssss it. My Prrrreciousssss. Capitalism SSSTOLe it from ussss.
Why is there a softcore porno
Why is there a softcore porno pic of a woman at the top of this story?
Is that your idea of "communism", what folks in the 19th century called "the community of women" (in modern American English, every woman has to have sex with any guy who wants her, even if she doesn't feel the same way)?
That's pretty inappropriate, comrades.
If you like porn, fine - most men in the First World do.
Why do you need to include porno in your politics though?
Did it occur to you that there are women who are interested in communism who might read this?
Did you think about what they might think when they see that pic?
I know what comes to mind to me (and I'm a guy!) "communism is a dude's club!"
Sure you want to send that impression, son?
I see they changed the pic to
I see they changed the pic to something less pornfied
It doesn't change the content of the article, which still seems like a middle class hacker nerd's idea of "communism" - as in, a society with no rules, where piracy and stealing the intellectual property of artists is perfectly OK.
No word on what you'd do about poverty, or the exploitation of the working class, barely a nod to the race question and a bunch of lame pop culture bullshit.
Not impressed at all
Hopefully intellectual property, poverty, the exploitation of the working class, race and lame pop culture won't exist under communism.
Gregory A. Butler wrote: Why
Gregory A. Butler
firstly, I changed the image at the top of this article following a complaint from a female user on Facebook. Secondly, it was not softcore pornography, it was an animated gif from the Ke$ha/Zizek tumblr which combines quotes from Zizek with images of the singer-songwriter Ke$ha and vice versa: http://keshek.tumblr.com/
the "communism will win" one (here) is also the first thing which shows up in Google image search for "communism will win" which was how I came across it.
The original image is from a music video shown on daytime television.
of course not, this is a ridiculous assertion, I just like the Ke$ha/Zizek blog.
looking at the tumblr where it was originally posted the people who reposted or liked it where you can tell their gender seem to be majority women, which I didn't find surprising because I reckon Ke$ha has a predominantly female fan base.
Edit: Steven got there before
Edit: Steven got there before me.
There's plenty of softcore
There's plenty of softcore pornography on TV, especially if we're talking about cable, so saying that the softcore porno images came from a video is not an excuse.
In any case, upon getting called upon your bullshit you fixed that - good.
As for your politics, I really can't agree with your political fantasy, especially the part that involves defending intellectual property theft.
Your communism (or more precisely - MANARCHISM) will NOT win, because you can't build a revolution if your social base is porn addicted hackers living in their mother's basements (the only demographic that would find this crap appealing)
Number 10 makes me doubt
Number 10 makes me doubt number 2.
As Star Trek teaches us, space is the final frontier.
Gregory A. Butler wrote: As
Gregory A. Butler
Intellectual property won't exist under communism, private property of any kind won't exist - I'm not sure where you're coming from if you think people will still be selling CD's in a society which has abolished money?
Gregory A. Butler wrote: I
Gregory A. Butler
I love how you describe the image as "less pornfied" as if somehow an image of a fully clothed Ke$ha firing a laser gun at James van der Beek while using a unicorn in a tux as a human shield is still somehow a bit pornographic!
where is there any suggestion of a society with no rules?
And as the poster above asks, in terms of piracy, how can you still have piracy and stealing when you don't have money? Do you think a free society would still ban home taping?
while it is true that "lame pop culture bullshit" does distract from the important tasks of revolution, these other criticisms aren't really valid as they are not within the scope of my article. If my article was called "What I would do about poverty and the exploitation of the working class and racism" then that would be fair enough, but it's a tongue-in-cheek article called "10 reasons communism will win" and is about that.
I didn't change the image because it was "bullshit", as I still do not agree that it is pornographic, I changed it because it is counter-productive for the use of an image to detract from the message of an article.
well I don't really think that any one blog post I make is going to make or break the revolution. And you keep talking about porn. Do you actually know who Ke$ha is? She is a singer songwriter, not a porn actor. She would probably be offended by you calling it porn. Here she is, FYI:
also, I think you're wrong in assuming there is any connection between hacking and file sharing. Tens of millions of people share files, most of whom like me couldn't hack anything.
And as for the basement comment, well I am fortunate enough to have a job that pays well enough for me to be able to afford rent. However increasing numbers of young people (in particular from BME backgrounds) especially are unable to get jobs or earn enough to move out of their parents' homes. I don't think this is something to mock people about, I think this is a terrible situation which we should try to fight.
Gregory A. Butler wrote: you
Gregory A. Butler
Society as a whole is more and more splitting up into two great hostile camps, into two great classes directly facing each other - the bourgeoisie, and porn addicted hackers living in their mothers basements.
Tbh, I find article kind of
Tbh, I find article kind of silly (no offense to author), but I find discussion really stupid. It's "funny" how some anarchists/communists/whatever behave worst then clergy in their attempts to suppress any form of sexuality under the veil of "morality" and "gender equality". I think that you've missed your political affiliation. It seems like some people here would be good Yugoslav censors. Still, you should learn something from comrade Milena Dravić:
jolasmo wrote: Gregory A.
this literally made me LOL
Quote: Did it occur to you
Well, there's me for one and my interests and sensibilities are not so delicate to be shattered by an image that I'm pretty sure that most of us who have not been living in a cave have seen already.
For my sins I'm not nor have
For my sins I'm not nor have I ever been a Trekkie, but re Star Trek = Full Communism, how do you account for the 'Bar Association' episode when Rom creates a union and leads a strike against Quark's bar in opposition to salary cuts and and there being no sick pay?
As a Trekkie, life-long and
As a Trekkie, life-long and therefore extremely sad, I think I can answer that. Deep Space Nine is technically in Bajoran space and although under joint administration with Starfleet and Bajor, it's not part of the United Federation of Planets and therefore, sadly in part of space in which capitalism claws on.
Actually, I'm not convinced of the Star Trek argument, that everything in it comes true because, really, how much longer am I expected to wait to get a holosuite?
hahahaha thank you.
hahahaha thank you.
For all you doubters
For all you doubters questioning whether Star Trek is a 100% accurate depiction of the future:
Gregory A. Butler wrote: As
Gregory A. Butler
You're a complete moron if you think communism will feature intellectual property.
Another reason is that we've
Another reason is that we've got the best songs. However I must be a complete moron. Or a poet.
jolasmo wrote: Society as a
fuck all, i'm a bourgeois then
on Prejudice i think the rise
i think the rise of golden dawn shows that fascism is still a serious problem even more so than last time as there is a much weaker working class based movement to counter it
also whenever the bourgeoisie sees that power is slipping out of its hands it brings up fascism to hold onto their privileges - duruti
Howdy from Jackson
Howdy from Jackson Hole!
Reason #4, "Technology", could be expanded...
As technology & robots inevitably reduce jobs available for humans (both professional and low level custodial crap), there will be far too many people for available jobs. At that point, either 80% (my guess) of people starve or an egalitarian, communistic society will prevail.
80% of the population will never accept starvation to support the 1%. Bingo. Communism.
I really wish people would
I really wish people would stop using this colonialist cartoon. It doesn't even make sense in the context of the article. Like time is on our side because soon we'll be wiped out by an even more genocidal and bloodthirsty regime?
caterpillar wrote: I really
hi, I can appreciate that that cartoon could be used in a colonialist way, but it is not in this instance. As it is not being used to say that it is great that they got wiped out by the quasi-mediaeval Spanish, and should be clear from the rest of the site we are totally against any sort of imperialism or colonialism, it's just depicting the basic concept that "the dominant ideas of any epoch are the dominant ideas of the ruling class" and within almost any society people find it impossible to manage anything different. Even though subsequent societies realise that the previous method of organisation was preposterous, like feudalism, the divine right of kings, slavery etc (even though these of course still exist to some extent today). And I believe in the future people will look at production for profit and wage slavery in the same way.
And an image is a good way of getting this idea across. I did try to think of a meme to create which would do the same thing which couldn't be misconstrued in a colonialist way, however I couldn't think of one. So I'm open to suggestions if someone can suggest a better one.
Steven, Nice try. I can agree
Nice try. I can agree with point No2 in your footnotes but as to the rest, well you had better take a cold shower in 'Nihilist Communism'. The problem is that in each of your main arguments there is more-or-less an equal and opposite response or outcome which means precisely that that there is no guarantee at all that 'communism' will win. This doesn't mean that there is any other solution to the myriad of problems we and the rest of humanity face and since capitalist crisis and class struggle are both inevitable then some kind of rupture in the system (rather than a continual restructuring of capitalism brought on by the combined effects of competition and class struggle) sufficient to open up new horizens and the potential for communism is a real possibillity. Are we seeing the beginnings of that now? - I don't know.
Pitty the discussion so far has been sidetracked by Butler and the 'Trekkies'
Sorry, but as much as I like
Sorry, but as much as I like Star Trek, any intellectually honest analysis leads to the conclusion that they are colonialists opening up new markets in space. Space, the final market...
Could somebody explain to me
Could somebody explain to me what exactly is it that wrong with the word 'Anarchism'?
Lugius wrote: Could somebody
It begins with A the first letter, and therefor leader, of the alphabet, thus it is self contradictory and illustrates the authoritarian ambitions of anarchists. It origins in Greek betray the euro centric idolization of slave owning democracies by the middle class academics who lead the anarchist movement.
Joseph Kay wrote: Feudal
This is great! (And don't know if you saw but it went a bit viral on anarchist memes) Although having a quick look one of these images may be looks better as they emphasise the pointless death more, which I think is the key element:
So do you think you might be able to add that text to one of those?
Also, is "best system" the best text? Or would it be better if it said something like:
"it's not a perfect system, but there is no alternative" or
"it's not a perfect system, but it's the only one that works"
What do people think?
As an American, it's the
As an American, it's the 'best there is' that I hear most.
Nice article! Russian
Russian translation: http://mpst.org/teoriya/pochemu-kommunizm-pobedit-10-prichin/
jolasmo wrote: For all you
looking at this again after I just corrected some typos in the article, I'm extremely doubtful that mobile camera phone in the top line is from 1973!
1. I don't think it's a good
1. I don't think it's a good argument. If you play that game, the concepts of gender equality, racial equality, democracy in which all law-abiding adult citizens have the right to vote, animal rights, etc. are all younger than industrial capitalism. So according to you, we have no reason to think that they will be around for long. You can't just look at the age of a system or concept, you have to look at the trend. And the trend suggests that capitalism is not going anywhere anytime soon.
2. Even if the financial elite runs out of new countries to exploit, they can still find ways to expand capital, for example by lobbying governments to privatize public sectors or through new forms of financial manipulation.
3. Technology is gradually reducing the need for human soldiers.
4. The growing disparity between our technological capacity to provide for every human being and the current level of suffering is being counterbalanced by propaganda and consumerism. Digital technology is a great tool to disseminate information and can, in some cases, be used to combat the financial elite (SOPA/ACTA for example), but it has also given people new ways to be manipulated or distracted. Now, I'm really interested in the development of 3D printing technology, this could be a game changer.
5. This argument is countered by your first argument (see my first paragraph).
6. Even though people claim to trust governments less than they used to, they still behave according to state propaganda, ideology can persist even through cynicism (more on that). And also, this mistrust is often directed at specific politicians or parties. For example if you say the US lied to invade Iraq, a liberal will say "it was Bush and Cheney!", if you say the US is killing civilians around the world with drones, a conservative will say "It's Obama!". This high level of mistrust is counterbalanced by the partisan mentality, so people in general don't question the system as a whole.
7. I agree, as I said three paragraphs above.
8. But the thing is, the general public automatically associates these movements with communism or socialism. This has made it harder for people to even talk about these concepts without being demonized.
9. Piracy is indeed democratizing access to culture, and gives people a way to profit a little bit off of the capitalist system which primarily serves the financial elite. I agree with your point about 3D printing, as I said above.
10. I don't think it's a serious point.
Steven writes article on how
Steven writes article on how communism will win.
Army cadet gets the sack after posting pictures of himself with "communism will win" on his hat.
A coincidence? I think not.