Category: Vision and Strategy


Toward a New Marxism

I’ve reentered school in the fall–a task which has kept me busy, however much I like it, and so I’ve let blogging fall by the wayside.  I really, truly, want to change that, to get back on the horse, so to speak.

The best way for me to start is to go where my heart has been in all this time since I’ve posted more regularly.

First of all, Egypt has inspired me.  From an internet based movement, sparked by the revolution and bravery of Tunisia, Egypt toppled a 30-year-old regime, despite opposition from the dominant party, precisely because regardless of difficulty, the Egyptian people never backed down, never resorted to violence, rape, looting (excepting the violence in defense from pro-Mubarak ‘supporters’), never strayed from message–they consistently would be placated with nothing less than ‘Mubarak, step down!’.  And step down he did.  That settled, and the military verbally guaranteeing reforms for a real democracy (whether they remain committed to such a vision remains to be seen), they proceed to clean up the mess that the protest has created.  This is how a protest should be–clear, revolutionary demands, without resorting to anarchy or being placated by red-herring false promises and impotent, minuscule changes.  And it was a neither a U.S. trained coup nor a militant, Islamist revolt against ‘secularization,’ but a multiparty coalition for democracy which has changed the face of the Middle East.  We should all learn from Egyptians. . . this is what hope and change look like.
In the West, we’ve gone so long without hope and change.  We’ve long felt impotent, and rationalized our inactivity.  “This is the way it’s always been. . . ” or “Americans aren’t willing to move with us for anything better. . . ,” or perhaps “It’s a Right Wing nation” or “Look at the obstacles to change!”  The leftmost phrase one can use to describe oneself is “progressive,” and that rather meaningless phrase is still labelled “Communist” in some crowds, depending on who you ask.  What does one do?
I am a committed Marxist, but not the “Old Left” or “New Left” kind.  The “Old Left” kind prioritized structures over agency, over the need to move in what Marxists called the “superstructure” to help people see the world they live in for what it is, and to pave a path to change it.  The “Old Left” prioritized class over gender, race, sexuality, environment.  The “New Left” hated the same systems of oppression, but saw gender, sexuality, race, and environment sometimes simultaneous to class, and sometimes instead of class.  They rejected authority, either Right or Left, and they fought for a world of TOTAL freedom.  But their overcorrection for the sins of the Old Left, their anti-authoritarianism, allowed them to descend into a rag-tag and decentralized band of competing struggles, each decidedly committed to their own ends and de facto competing against the ends of other New Left groups.  I consider the New Left generation of the 60’s to be the ‘Greatest Generation,’ whose war was not against fascism abroad but totalitarian unfreedom at home–fighting against alienation, homophobia, sexism, racism, capitalism, and for the oppressed, the exploited, the nonhuman animals.  But in their fight against all sources of oppression, the New Left so commonly devolved into a quasi-postmodern, infighting-prone, drug-dependent, and unprincipled band of uncoordinated movements, whose rejection of a capital-O Order resulted in the structural inability to meet their potential, their destiny.
It is our time to learn from their mistakes.  Inequality.  Environmental degradation.  Impotence in one’s workplace, country, city. . . life!  One drinks and lives vicariously through television and video games, playing Madden 2010 instead of football, watching James Bond instead of having martinis with beautiful women (or men, for that manner).  What went wrong?
I believe the New Left of the 1960’s had a lot right.  You cannot build a new society without abolishing racism, sexism, homophobia, traditional family structures, abandoning capitalism, reengaging the environment, seeking new spiritualities, rejecting war.  But the New Left maintained a definition of Freedom that was no more than an extension of the ‘bourgeois’ notion of freedom into wider realms.  The ‘bourgeois’ notion of freedom defines freedom loosely as the freedom to choose within a constrained choice set.  Let me be clearer.  ‘Bourgeois’ freedom argued that if a person’s society and nature keep them able only to choose between ‘A’ and ‘B,’ and prevents them from choosing ‘C,’ ‘D,’ etc. up to ‘Z’, when under other social rules one could have choices from A to Z, ‘Bourgeois’ or capitalist notions of freedom considers you free—because, hell, you have a choice, right?

The “New Left” extended this notion–they argued that no one has a right to make you choose only A or B, between Green Apple Antibacterial dish soap or Orange anti-grease dish soap, when you could have not only antibacterial AND anti-grease dish soap, but way more meaningful choices than soap at the end of the day.  They wanted you to be able to choose between A and Z. But they rarely connected the different systems of oppression, and they never looked at the effects of the systems of oppression and exploitation as a whole, ignoring that alongside the need to have self determination for your nation, your relationship(s), and your workplace, is the need to have self determination over your full self.  And this is not the Christian notion of feeling bad for every time you enjoy a piece of cake or a good lay, but the humanization of one’s desires, making them truly yours rather than enculturated or contradictory pursuits.  So they wouldn’t listen to each other (who are you to tell me what to do?) and they tuned out, and blew their minds.  What do we do?

Like I said, I am neither an Old Left nor a New Left Marxist, but there is value to each.  Perhaps you could call me a Now Left Marxist. Here is a part of where I stand (and if you happen to want the theoretical backing, quotes and such, leave a comment).
Meaningful freedom is more than what you can do with a limited choice set–freedom is both external (your liberty to do what you want without external barriers) and internal (your liberty to do what you want without mental or habitual limitations).  One creates oneself through habituation (among other things), and so either external or internal limitations cripple the self–you are limited in your own self-creating potential.  And there are two types of barriers, natural and social, which can affect either internal or external freedom (I’m sorry if this is too heady, I just have faith in you–if you need clarification, please comment).  I’ll probably expand upon this later, but for now suffice to say that the ultimate freedom is both democratic influence over all the external factors that constrain your choices (social or natural, and for all external structures) and over all internal factors (ideologies, command over one’s own inclinations, habits, desires, etc).  This latter part, I believe, is a fundamental component of Marx’s ultimate project, as well as my own, extending into one’s relationships, consumer activity, etc., and most particularly NOT resulting in a denial of one’s desires, i.e. towards sex, drink, etc., but merely the use of all things as informed by ones fully free choices.

The point is making oneself fully the person one wants to be.  That is freedom.  And advocates of a limited freedom–libertarians, Republicans, capitalist apologists–they don’t advocate full freedom.  They advocate a conception of the lowest level of external freedom–choice within social and natural constraints–but even then an inconsistent version, where one’s external freedom can limit the external (and internal freedom) of another, but for no good reason.  For example, a speculator can buy the property of a family facing hard economic times, and use that power to raise the family’s rent until they can no longer pay.  The speculator has external freedom–no government or external force prevents them from buying the house–but their freedom to do so violates the freedom of the family to stay in their house, and that limitation is first social (social rules backed by force allow the speculator to take the family’s house) and natural (that force, personified by police, can remove the family at a very real physical danger to their lives). People who equate capitalism to freedom don’t get freedom–and I don’t think they want to.  But my Marxism, and I believe it stems from Marx himself, is founded in a fully, consistent, internal and external freedom.

You should be free in your work, government, relationships, beliefs, and over yourself.  You should be connected with your true goals, loved ones, community, environment.  You should manifest your creative power and develop yourself in all aspects of life, be it work or sex, eating or playing, or anything else under the sun, so long as at the end of the day it helps others do the same, rather than hinders them.  Now Left Marxism is feminist, queer, antiracist, environmentalist, and Buddhist (in its emphasis, with Buddhism, on control over the self), and founded in a demand for full democratization and full liberation.  It is this philosophy that I hope to develop here, and I invite comments.  Let Egypt show us that true change is possible, and lesson learned, lets change the world ourselves.

What happened to dreams?

I miss democracy.  Sure, America was never as democratic as our high-school textbooks would have us believe.  We were founded on land secured by genocide, build off the labor of slaves in the South and poor, mistreated white laborers in the North.  “All men were created equal” actually meant men, and property owning white men at that.  But over time the people who had been shoved aside and stepped on picked each other up.  Over time, slavery ended, women fought for the vote, property qualifications on voting were abandoned, workers could form unions, and currently our Queer brothers, sisters, and transters are fighting for equality.  The revolutionary ire of the 60’s became mired in the liberal conception of freedom–doing whatever one wants without thinking too much about what one wants–and despite the beauty of the ideals of peaceful, happy, free societies, rampant drug use immobilized portions of the hippie movement from creating structural changes.  The gains of the 60s were followed with the consolidation of global capitalist power, leaving us a neoliberal train wreck of an economy–one that pits workers against each other, destroys the environment, replaces living wages with debt, and responds to its lack of profitability with layers of financial tricks stacked precariously on the edge of a very large cliff, and we all may be faced with looking into that abyss. . . or we may not.

We could make it–but we need to dream.  Mainstream economists will tell you that prices have to rise if everyone has a job.  Politicians will tell you the government can’t make jobs (let somehow the government gave them a job–I guess they just mean jobs for us).  And both of those statements are false.  If everyone gets a job, no one’s desperate for a job, so they have to be good–and wages rise.  So they raise prices to maintain a profit.  And profits are nothing other than money we earn and they keep.  Profits are bull–the purpose of job availability and pricing should be to meet needs.  And the government can invest to create jobs same as private companies–but doesn’t because it would compete with a company’s ability to make money off our needs and inadequate government.

We can do better.  What is stopping us from creating communities build around our happiness and needs? In tune with the environment and each other?  Why can’t we co-manage our own workplaces?

The Chamber of Commerce wants to wage war against whatever democracy we’ve fought for over time, hoping that corporate financing of our candidates skews our system in their favor, just as such groups hope corporate financing of NGOS skews our attempts to change the world.

If the moneyed interests want so bad to control our society, I suggest a version of what the Paris Commune tried, and so many intentional communities have tried or are trying ever since. . . I suggest we pull out of their labor markets, their consumption patterns, their apartment complexes.  We form our own worker and consumer co-ops and coordinate production and consumption with each other, and outside of the market.  Different models have been suggested, Parecon and the model developed in Towards a New Socialism–and I’m not suggesting I’m committed to either of those visions in total.  But we can take inspiration, and we can create a new world, a Post-Capitalist world from a process of creating Exo-Capitalist modes of production, consumption, LIVING.

The phrase “New World Order” conjures up a host of images–neoliberal globalization, the Illuminati, (I guess it also has some meaning in the professional wrestling world)–so at first, it may seem a strange phrase to invoke on ‘our’ behalf.  It speaks to outsiders, to external string-pullers, master manipulators of human affairs.

What it really means, though, is somewhat different than its connotations.  According to the oracle of democratic knowledge production, Wikipedia, “new world order” means “any period of history evidencing a dramatic change in world political thought and the balance of power.”  It signifies nothing more than a new structure of global power, a new hegemony.  So what is “we need our new world order” really saying?

“We” references something more than Americans, more than Westerners, and something far more substantial than “global citizens.”  The latter term is more than consistent with the massive inequalities of wealth and power between people and nations–a ‘global citizen’ can mean a postnational, globe-trotting investor for a transnational corporation just as much (if not more) than it can mean a hummus-eating, kimono-wearing, African American artist with a love of German beer and Native American dreamcatchers.  No, ‘we’ references that group of people who usually don’t travel much, don’t each food from chefs with three Michelin stars, and don’t get the luxury of choosing not to work because they just want a day off.  The majority of the world is not composed of highly-educated, globe-trotting ubermenschen.  Most of the world is more likely to be like the ones who worked at or built the airport, shipped the food to or waited tables at the restaurant, who either work too much or can’t find enough.  Most of us take orders from people who take orders from people who, at the top of the economic food chain, wear ties to work and drink wine with their pinkies up.  That is to say, most of us are in the working class.  And most of us are suffering.

We’ve been told that contemporary economies are too complex to manage, and so they must be left to the market’s hoard of millions of little profit-hungry busy-bees, whose collective and disjointed acts of greed will somehow bring about a world full of wonders, roses, and sunshine.  But we let the ‘experts’ run the show through successive rounds of financial deregulation, and the result was a crisis that nearly equaled the Great Depression in gravity–letting those ‘experts’ run the show ended up being nothing more than letting the inmates run the asylum.

“We” need our New World Order.  We need to understand that we, the workers, the housewives, the queer folk, the immigrants–the downtrodden–are the ones who have built this world, raised these families, expanded these worldviews and inched the world towards freedom, well being, and justice.  We need to have faith in ourselves to democratically run EVERYTHING. . . from the ground up.  We need to work, play, sing, dance, run, jump, laugh, speak, high-five, fuck, and breathe liberation, and let it run down our fingertips and spark everyone we touch.  We need to work together to figure out a liberated, democratic world–OUR New World Order–and we need to run down the streets of Wall Street, Main Street, Easy Street, and Sesame Street chanting Viva la Revolution!–a revolution not of guns and bullets, not of stomping boots and broken dreams, but of millions and millions of the downtrodden, dusting themselves off, turning to help their neighbors rise, and seeing the sunshine together as if for the very first time.

What’s labor supposed to do?

Facing setbacks in health care, a decreasing unionization rate (7.2% in the private workforce) , and the loss of the supermajority they would need to pass EFCA (as if the Democrats were doing something anyway), as well as decreasing public support (41%), unions are in pretty bad shape.  But then again, they had been for a long time.

What should labor do?

A number of things.

First of all, real people have little power in America.  Corporations and people of high means have a lot of pull, and individual politicians have some pull.  Democracy in America is democracy in name only. . . and most Americans know it.  They know that the government does nothing to pull together for everyday Americans and will drop anything to help out Wall Street.  Ironically, though such rabid corporatism comes as a result of the power wielded by corporations over our country, and such power is a natural consequence of capitalism, or the ‘free market,’ extreme right-wingers have built the Tea Party movement blaming government and claiming the ‘free market’ is the solution.  Let me reiterate. . . the people who are a huge part of the problem have grown stronger from the anger against the problems people like them have caused.  Why hasn’t the Left organized?  Why hasn’t labor organized in the face of layoffs?

What the people want–radical, liberal, and conservative–is democracy.  They rightly feel powerless against huge corporations and an unresponsive government–which, whatever head of our two-headed Republicrat Party beast is at the helm, does not seem to care about them.  Forget about business unionism–leaving corporations be, forgetting about ‘class issues,’ and demanding only wage increases.  BE A RABID FIGHTER FOR DEMOCRACY.  What the Obama election has taught us so far is that (1) people want change REALLY bad, and if you give them hope for it they will mobilize, and will carry the day, and (2) you can’t trust ANYONE in our bureaucratized government or the corporations that run it to actually do anything that is substantially good for you.

To reverse a paraphrased dictum from Machiavelli, politicians will do what we want if they love us or fear us. . . and their fearing us is more dependable than their love for us.  And by ‘fear us’ I don’t mean fear an uprising. . . I mean fear that we will impeach every single one, advance our own candidates, fill Congress and the Presidency with OUR PEOPLE.

We want Democracy.  Were unions to radicalize, democratize themselves, and democratize America, the people would love them.

Steps:

(1) Look inward.  Democratize yourself.  Make each union radically democratic–every single person has a change to make a real difference–no bureaucratized organizing body.  If people thought “I’d have a real say in my union!” that is a good part of what you need to do to change public perception.

(2) Support all workers, even the nonunion ones.  If you always look out for them, get them gains, workers not in a union will be more inclined to join, and more inclined to take your side and have a good perception of what you do.  It will help you organize, and help change public perception even more.

(3) Support even international workers and labor rights.  Corporations are international and organized and you should be, too.  Overseas workers are not your competition naturally. . . they are your allies.  If a corporation leaves American jobs here, and you argue ANYTHING that sounds like “they took our jobs”. . . you’re demonizing exploited workers who are suffering on their end from the actions of a corporation that is ALSO hurting YOU.  You create an “Us versus Them’ mentality against groups of people belonging to the “Us” group.  Remember, it is always corporations and globalization that hurts workers.  It’s really always capitalism, but you might not be willing to say that yet.  Not to mention that if millions of workers here oppose a company, it’s powerful, but if many millions of workers all over the world strike and boycott, it’s AMAZING, POWERFUL, and INSPIRING.

(4) Demand WAY MORE than just wage increases and REALLY COMMIT to it.  EFCA and Single Payer were great goals–you’re starting to see the need to advocate things that help the labor movement and ALL Americans, and that’s great.  But don’t depend on politicians.  Make noise, march, be rowdy and public, make YouTube videos and Facebook pages, have commercials during the superbowl, protest, strike, boycott! Fight the right-wing noise machine trying to make you look bad–make them, their lobbyists, corporations look bad instead!  They do it themselves, but no one calls them out on their tactics or their bullying, let alone their betrayal of America!  And never stop!  Buzz in their ears until they ring 24/7 whether you are there or not–and always let the public know what you’re doing for them.

(5)  Oppose pro-corporate bias everywhere.  You shouldn’t be afraid to call corporations out, to question their very essence and the system they are a part of.  Their bias hurts your true constituency. . . laborers and American citizens!  They have too much power in the workplace and in society.  Whose side are you on?  Oppose pro-corporate bias in the media, in the schools, in political campaigns. . . everywhere!  Stand for something!

(6) Organize! Organize! Organize! Find what industries have low unionization rates, and start there.  Find out what demographics, states, cities, and occupations unionize little, and reach out to them based on their situations, the uniqueness of their jobs, their histories, their values, their cultures.  Treat each group as its own, distinct population–it is!  Conduct studies and hire rhetoricians, psychologists, sociologists, and figure out what barriers to unionization exists in each group, and transcend them!  Your strength is in people.  And I repeat, DEMOCRATIZE and fight for REAL BENEFITS.  Let these people lead their own fight and represent to the people in their shoes once you’ve started organizing them, and let them determine what agendas are most important for them.

(7) Look outward.  Democratize EVERYTHING–fight for greater self-determination and democracy in corporations, in their management, in their boardrooms, and between workers, communities, and shareholders.  Fight for a greater democracy in American political structures.  Be a force for democracy, and be SO PUBLIC ABOUT IT, so transparent, that no right-wing extremists can lie to the public about you.  Make everything you do about making the government and corporations more accountable to the people and no one will think of you as ‘just another big, selfish, scary organization’.  And unlike Obama, walk the walk AND talk the talk.

Do these things and I promise you the labor movement will turn around.  So will the country.  And we will all be better for it.

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20100228/ap_on_bi_ge/us_frustrated_labor_4

Good contemporary data: http://www.bls.gov/news.release/union2.nr0.htm

On the bailout . . .

It’s been awhile since I’ve posted.  Sorry for the absence.  I’m sure you’ve all been informed of the debate about a proposed $700 billion dollar bailout, and so I’ll go right into a quick comment.

I am absolutely opposed to this bailout.  The controversy has been expressed as “main street versus wall street,” when in a different country they would be allowed to refer to ‘class struggle’.  Essentially, this is a clear case of class conflict, where immoral actions were taken by capitalists to make money in unsustainable ways, and citizens are called upon to bail them out.  The argument goes that the allowance of these institutions to fail would collapse our economy.  I argue that ‘socialism for the rich’ is wrong, and a ‘socialism for the poor’ is superior.  Here is what I would do:

(1) Recognize that the collapse of these institutions would tend to cause economic damage, and correspondingly create jobs, insurance policies, state subsidized housing, and welfare benefits for individuals through the state, to prevent losses in the private sector from spilling onto innocent people.

(2) Allow these banks and insurance companies to collapse, and purchase them in their entirety, restaffing them and using them as engines of the state to gain democratic control of the economy.

These solutions would prevent us from needing to increase our international debt, and would more importantly protect citizens from being punished for the crimes of the capitalists.  Any comments?

One eminent result of the fall of the Soviet Empire–for all its faults–has been a crisis of faith in Socialist circles. The fall of the USSR has made socialism look untenable, and as a result, many socialists have been searching for an alternative to a centrally planned, bureaucratic economy. Some have collapsed their demands, and choose instead to advocate some sort of social democracy, like Sweden. This, unfortunately, proves unstable by allowing private ownership of capital, and thus containing within itself a constant pull towards capitalism with all its faults. Others have turned towards market socialism, but this, too, contains the seeds which made market capitalism so prone to allow self-interest to dominate social interactions, among other faults of capitalism. In short, many socialists have relaxed their demands or given up substantial portions of their goals. This, combined with the success of free market ideology and power consolidation, has created a void of socialist advocacy and activism where it is needed most. But in perspective, this is a time for celebration.

The fall of the Soviet Union has given us socialists the opportunity to try to create the best socialism, the most equitable, efficient, democratic socialism possible in practice. On the other hand, while power has been consolidated by the neoliberal empire, their power is augmented by an appeal to legitimacy, saying (in effect) “our competition is gone, so we win by default,” but such a claim appeals for legitimacy. It begs us to consent and obey; it begs us to filter out and water down our hopes for a just world. But such a tactic cannot remain impervious to critique, and for legitimacy’s sake, it must allow critique. The global system cannot both critique the Soviets for tyrannical power over markets and denying political and civil liberties, AND suppress global movements in an overt fashion. Don’t get me wrong, the CIA has a history of destroying Leftist movements, but it has done so with an eye towards suppression the information. Consequently, we socialists must gain our voices; we must be loud, strong, and proud! We must be international, and forge relationships with feminist, pacifist, and environmentalist groups.  We must establish collectives that will help us take care of each other, to make it possible to go into the world without needing a paycheck, making us independent.  All socialists, of all countries, religions, genders, races, ages, and socialisms must come together and unify under one overarching group.  This is the way we can make some headway against the neoliberal empire.  We must raise our voices until we become a public force, and with publication comes protection from destruction.  If we become public, if we become loud, strong, and proud, then the neoliberal empire will have to maintain legitimacy by opposing us through normal means–we force their hand to engage in debate.  The neoliberal need for a successful ideology will give us a voice.  I propose (at least) the following prescriptions for a successful socialism.

(1) Leftist journals, individuals, organizations, political parties, etc., must unify under one international movement and have representatives meet regularly to establish objectives in the collective advocacy of socialism. While there is still debate over what socialism is best [and it should not be necessary to establish ‘hierarchical determination of party principles’ as the Soviets did], the most immediate ends that can be established are (1) an international socialist bill of rights, and a plan for (2) a future international confederation of socialist states, as well as (3) the consolidation of political and economic power that a dispersed socialist movement cannot accomplish.  Socialists need to become an international power-bloc and work together on the movement as a whole.

This is NOT a demand for unified agreement between socialists, nor is it an argument for a centralized socialist order.  This is a call for the unification of the movement.  There should be doctrinal disagreement and living debate, but these disagreements should not fragment the movement.

(2) This organization must appeal to all progressive movements, feminist, environmentalist, civil rights, NGO’s, etc., over the need to join the cause.  This will greatly assist our movement.

(3) This organization must engage in debates in every intellectual field, most immediately with (1) religious scholars, and (2) economists.  Real Christianity and Buddhism both support socialism over capitalism, and I believe Islam the same.  Additionally, dealing with oppositional economists will show that socialism is viable, and that traditional arguments against its possibility are false.

The social teachings of the major world religions, generally, have been used (at least in the West) to support capitalism, when in fact they most consistently support socialism.  This ideological barrier to socialism should be what it naturally is–an ideological aid.

(4) This unified socialist movement must move to create institutions independent from the capitalist system.  It needs to establish (ideally) communal living situations with proportional private space (for many reasons), schools, provide socialist scholarly resources free to individuals, food and health distribution, etc.  If it is necessary for the good life, socialists must provide it independently from the capitalist system.

(5) Once unified, institutions in place, socialists need to continue their militant advocacy of socialism–and by militant, I do not mean violent, I mean unwavering.  Socialists must unwaveringly pursue a nonviolent revolution.  A revolution is no more than a dramatic change from one system or ruler to another.  How is this to be accomplished nonviolently?  Socialists must simultaneously pursue the following (and this step is more of a systemized presentation of the preceeding thoughts, with some overlap).

(5a) Socialists must pursue political change in all areas of power, be they international, national, state, district, city, or county.  Even socialist neighborhood councils are steps in the right direction to further solidarity.  Socialists must advocate (i) the collapse of international capitalist institutions (WTO, IMF, etc) and their replacement with international socialist institutions, and (ii) the democratic promotion of socialist politicians in every level of political office.

(5b)  Socialists must create institutions independent of the capitalist system as in (4).

(5c)  Socialists must work to change the ideological structure of society, which involves (i) the unification of socialists, and (ii) promotion of socialist ideals in all areas of social thought (such as sociology, psychology, philosophy, economics, religion, etc).  This should also include (iii) extensive research into effective rhetoric, as well as political and activist tactics, and how movements for social change succeed or fail, with an emphasis on lessons for success in contemporary conditions.  Furthermore, these lessons should (iv) be made widely available for socialist activists in free handbooks and other resources to help in the field, while organizing.  Finally, (v) successful socialist organizing and advocacy should include an extensive campaign to democratize traditional media, as well as use internet-based and public information campaigns to ‘spread the word’.

(5d) Socialists must then work on grassroots campaigns to get popular consensus in favor of increasing economic democracy and socialist progress, in addition to supporting the aforementioned programs and increasing pressure on the status quo.

These are only the most preliminary and general of suggestions, and I hope that they serve to stimulate debate.

Capitalism tends to go through crises in general–its laws of distribution result in some sort of overconcentration in investment (the organic composition of capital is the technical term), or production beyond consumption, or a lack of investment and the like. Regardless of the specific cause of the business cycle, the effects are similar; capitalists make some mistake in investment by investing in what they can’t sell, or they sit on their own capital instead of circulating it. The problem is that in a capitalist economy whose primary laws are “Profit!” and “Grow!,” staying stationary will simply cause the system to surpass you and push you out of the economy. Grow or die. Consequently, an inability to invest or grow such as in business crises will result in capitalists pushing on labor to increase profitability–firing, working longer, harder, etc. In every case where there is a systematic crash, labor suffers first even when it is capital’s fault.

Lets get to my point. In a systematic transition from capitalism to socialism, capitalist profitability will decrease or get squeezed out–consumerism will stop fueling them, the state will push industry to sell, or the like. But since it is the transition to socialism, it is still under capitalist laws, and capitalists will try to consolidate power however they can. If a particular nation tries to socialize, capital flight will likely occur, or an increase in corporations trying to bolster political influence while increasing profitability (because, as always, the will be the last to take a hit economically), or appealing to the WTO which will undoubtably attempt trade sanctions. All these actions will significantly hurt the population of a nation (or the international community–but it’s hard to see how it would get worse in places like India, say, or sub-Saharan Africa), and it would be left to charities or the government(s) to compensate, but dependence on charities are iffy at best, and governments would have to develop the infrastructure (remember: this is the transition to socialism, it has not yet occured, but is in process). Consequently, in the birth pangs of socialism, labor and the needy would be sacrificed unless there are places set up outside the capitalist system to house, feed, educate, and take care of them. Socialists need to concentrate on building places that are safe havens from capitalism–think Noah’s Ark on land. This is completely necessary–because before the international community attains socialism, corporations and capitalists will squeeze every last bit of profitability out of workers, and funnel it into every political means before they have no choice, and consequently within the current system the lower classes will be the first to suffer, and suffer much without a safe haven.