Think for yourself

think for yourself

 

“Sooner or later each of us must take the step that separates him from his father, from his mentors; each of us must have some cruelly lonely experience — ”  Demian, Hermann Hesse

How can we have a movement of self-organization and self-liberation, when most of the Left groups today are based on telling people what to think and getting them to conform to a cookie-cutter party line?

These things are opposites. A real “nerve-center of the working class” would be a place of free questioning, exchange, and cooperative learning — probably within the bounds of a socialist or labor perspective, but beyond that, no rules. Help people understand the different models, and encourage them to think for themselves. Don’t give one perspective from the front of the room, and then have the discussion revolve around delineating its specifics; host open debates! It must be a truly open-ended process.

A living mind is not frozen in place, it is a being of continual transformation.

Fight (Club) for $15

fight club crossfit

So yeah, Fight Club 2 is coming.  I think it’s perfect timing.  It embodied the alienation and anti-corporate anger of the 1990s, but then that all went to sleep.  Fight Club 2 would have been just out of place after 9/11.  It would have sucked if it just got slurped into the Anyone-But-Bush sentiment that followed; Fight Club stands for something more deeply radical than just voting out the Republicans.  It would have been out of place during the beginning of Obama’s presidency, too, which was more defined by the rise of the Tea Party as well as the LGBT rights movement.  So Fight Club went to sleep along with the radical atmosphere that spawned it.  But now class warfare is on the agenda again.  The all-singing, all-dancing crap of the world have since renamed themselves the 99%.  As mass anti-capitalism comes out of hibernation, our Great Depression truly is our lives, and again the timing for a Fight Club sequel is perfect.

Part of humanity wants articulated political principles which make logical sense, in an altruistic manner, a selfish manner, or preferably both.

Then there’s We want to be part of a kickass movement simply for the sake of being part of a kickass movement.  We want the community, the energy, the purpose, the identity, the belonging, the sacrifice, the devotion, and perhaps some of us even thrive on the chaos and conflict.  Maybe I’m being a little autobiographical here, but I have lots of kindred spirits, restless souls of base emotion who care not what they lash out at, but whose energy and anger simply demands a target – any target!  Are we going to channel their souls and give their elemental passion to the revolution, or stand aside in rational respectability, declining to march in formation or sing songs or have community barbecues, surrendering them to the Right?

Whereas Socialism, and even capitalism in a grudging way, have said to people “I offer you a good time,” Hitler has said to them “I offer you struggle, danger and death,” and as a result a whole nation flings itself at his feet  –George Orwell

Watch this video.  Isn’t it energizing?

There is an allure to hooliganism and tribalism.  Having strong social bonds forged in casual violence fulfills deep human needs, satisfying that part of humanity which is still running off of its deep reptile brainstem.

Fight Club combined this sort of borderline anarcho-fascist (it applies) violent social bonding with very explicit anti-capitalist messages about work, culture, and the credit system.

Of course it’s possible that Fight Club aesthetics and activities can go left or right, and radically in both directions.  This article talks about a tribe of Odinist heathens who are building their own Nazi-influenced version of Project Mayhem.  I highly recommend the article, because to be honest, as I read about them, I’m jealous as fuck.  I want what they have for the Left, but more importantly, just for myself.  It helps that reactionaries don’t share the discomfort with stereotypically masculine activities and behaviors which the Left possesses (but of course it hurts that they don’t share our anti-sexism).  An interview with their leader also indicates that they organize organically, socially, creatively, and with great intentionality, making them almost like a Nazi counterpart to Philly Socialists.  Why can’t we do this kind of thing?  Why can’t we have the more chill, family-friendly forms of politicized community that Philly Socialists has, and also more aggressive forms of left-politicized community like social bonding around MMA clubs, shooting-range-as-socialist-team-building, or hard music scenes?  Besides, fascists win because they organize like they’re preparing for a fucking war, whereas we in the Left are more focused on the infinite delineation of political correctness on Tumblr.  We would have to keep the aggression from spilling over into sexism, but honestly — since the Left possesses endless reams of white dudes anyway, wouldn’t you rather they be a little more in shape and down-to-earth?

As for myself, I’m thinking maybe I’m going to the next Philly Socialists’ camping trip/leadership retreat.  And I’m also going to re-examine my own life a bit, my own political practice.  Maybe hang out more with people who “aren’t political.”  Maybe just do stuff I feel like doing, build my own tribe, without the constant compulsion to be political, but knowing that as a hyper-political being, the very act of my socialization, the construction and maintenance of relationships, is itself political by simply by bringing other people into closer proximity to myself.

Besides, it’s just too awesome not to take up.  Get your mayhem in while you can, because someday, you’re gonna die.

We Need Two New Enlightenments

 anarcho-statist

 

“Every revolution has been preceded by an intense labor of criticism.”  — Antonio Gramsci

 

A REVOLUTION IN ECONOMIC IDEOLOGY

The American Revolution was preceded by the Enlightenment, a period of writing about democracy and increased cultural exchange in general.  It wouldn’t shock me if we were in the middle of such another stirring currently, a general increase in social awareness facilitated by a massive increase in the communications infrastructure.  The Internet is the new printing press; everything I’m saying is obvious.

One of the two Enlightenments we need is economic, and I know for a fact that this one is underway.  Marx is flying off the shelves.  Mass sentiment has changed – the dramatic increase of favorability to socialism has proven to possess staying power, at least for now.

This is not to say that this sentiment is yet organized into a political party or even an organization, despite six years of opportunity since the Recession smacking us in the face repeatedly.

So if we have this one new Enlightenment, why do we need another?  And why does it have to be distinct?  Why can’t it just sort of merge into the other one?

 

WHY SHOULD SOCIALISTS CARE?

What’s going to put the final nail in the coffin of the existing state’s legitimacy is not economic grievances alone.  They will create tremendous pressure, but we will continually face the question – if you’re not being represented, why don’t you just elect someone who aligns to your views?  Overturning the government doesn’t seem legitimate unless it’s the very form of government itself that is at issue, and we offer a new form of government in its place with which the public has been familiarized.

Electing socialists is not socialism (though it can be a great part of the movement to expand society’s socialist faction, and socialism’s legitimacy).  Socialism is when the people have the power in their hands directly.

We can’t dissolve Congress (the ultimate goal) until we have a model that can replace Congress.  (It doesn’t have to already exist, as in immediate dual power – we just need a model to propose.)

If socialism is a redistribution of wealth within the same bureaucratic drudgery to which Americans are accustomed, it will not be inspiring enough.  They have to know that the applecart will be overturned at every level.

Furthermore, we have to be inclusive of non-socialists on this, even libertarian-capitalists.  We have to establish a distinct movement for new forms of government so that it takes off among the entire American public (hell, why not internationally?).  Millennials are divided on economics, but quite united in favor of increased liberty and democracy.  We need this movement to be its own thing, precisely so it can act as a real force rather than just as a socialist puppet — precisely so it can strengthen the socialist movement in turn.

We need this distinct, bipartisan effort to increase the palpable gulf between the people and the government, precisely so we can magnify the palpable gulf between workers and capital, as a pair of parallel, mutually-reinforcing antagonisms, and synthesize the two distinct-but-related movements into a movement that simultaneously clinches a victory against both capital and its state.

 

A REVOLUTION OF NEW GOVERNMENTAL STRUCTURES

As I’ve said elsewhere, we can’t indulge the usual Marxist preference of waiting until after the revolution to draw blueprints, because the revolution won’t even succeed unless people see that radicals have real ideas about new social structures which they can examine and get comfortable with.

This revolution has actually begun, but it’s off to a really rough start.  The first experiment was the dreaded consensus-style decision-making of the Occupy movement.

This revolution of new governmental structures will need to synthesize liberation with pragmatism, something we have yet failed to do.  As we imagine new structures, they will have to lean away from consensus super-majority, and toward majority rule; away from pure chaotic spontaneity, and toward a formal, structured, non-hierarchical system; away from obsessing with getting everyone into one big circle, and toward giving a vote to everyone no matter where they are.  (The last part is the difference between participatory democracy and direct democracy.)

There are three main areas where creativity and imagination are needed: direct democracy, bureaucracy, and police.

Direct Democracy

The main innovations of direct democracy are simply initiative and referendum themselves.  We would need to create a structure that makes direct democracy practical, feasible, and immune to hot-headed immediate decisions made hastily by rapidly-shifting waves in public opinion; the Swiss model of voting four times a year could make sense.

Of course, as we move toward such systems, there are compromises on the way.  We can start by dramatically opening up the representative democracy system, by imposing term limits on representatives, or by subjecting them to the possibility of immediate recall.  We could synthesize direct democracy with elements of participatory democracy, such as town hall meetings, community councils, or workers’ councils.  Liquid democracy allows people to either vote themselves, or choose any consenting person to vote for them – possibly a politician, possibly just someone they know and respect politically.  

Bureaucracy

While for socialists, state bureaucracy may be a necessary evil far superior to private ownership, it’s still our duty to find ways to reduce, democratize, and counteract the phenomenon.  Bureaucracy is the key mechanism for governments which operate without the consent of the people, whether they be outright dictatorships or “representative democracies.”  The definition of a bureaucracy is a top-down chain of command of administrators which manages people and/or resources.  It is therefore fundamentally against everything we believe in.

Some reduction of bureaucracy may not be possible or preferable until socialism.  After all, if the public sector is doing work, we want them to be paid for that work.  The idea of it being done by volunteers or rotating staff is nice, but some of it requires skill.  Most citizens won’t be able to partake in rotating community duties because of their work situation, and overall, public-sector work is still work, and deserves to be paid.  However, the actions of bureaucracies could still be subjected to oversight by participatory forms like town hall meetings or community councils, or subjected to direct-democratic forms like a municipal vote.  They could still have worker self-management instead of administrative management.  The creativity and imagination does not stop here; we need everyone to brainstorm alternative possibilities.

Police

One area of government which must be civilianized and de-professionalized immediately is the police.  Creating a separate body of armed men for enforcement on the public has turned out to be a disaster, with the police acting as a hostile, alien force to the people imposed from above and from outside.  If we believe in government of, for, and by the people, the police are the pure embodiment of government at least by an external force, as well as for and of someone other than ourselves, as well.

We need alternative community policing methods, but they must be formalized and legalized, or they will neither inspire universal respect and legitimacy (necessary for a safe, stable structure) and they will not be able to be implemented immediately, even under the current system, which is what we absolutely need.  There are three ways to do this.

  1. Universalization/civilianization/deprofessionalization: declare every citizen as law enforcement. Obviously we would all need some kind of formalized training of how to apprehend illegal situations, and how to judge using force in a dangerous situation.  This training is completely possible, though some expert opinion might be required as to what should be in it.  However, one weakness of the “everyone is a cop” model is diffusion of responsibility.  When something is everyone’s job, often nobody steps up, because everyone is waiting to see if anyone will step up, and then it’s too late.
  1. Volunteers. This, too, is flawed, because the people attracted to volunteer law enforcement may be just as bullyish and reactionary as the people who sign up to work in it full-time.  There is also the issue that only the people who have time to do it will do it.
  2. The last option, my favorite, is rotating duty, like jury duty. You get tapped to temporarily work as law enforcement, and paid for your time served.  Then your time is up and someone else takes it.  It could be staggered as to work around people’s work schedules, and could be almost a privilege or income supplement for retired people or for unemployed Millennial youth.

Ultimately, I think the real solution is a combination of all the above models.  In oppressed communities, volunteer security might be best, because you have plenty of unemployed people (unfortunately) to take up the task.  And to balance things out, no matter who is designated as law enforcement, it should be a task that all citizens are allowed and trained to undertake, even if there is someone else on duty.  This counteracts the volunteers or rotating duty turning into a separate, alien body of armed persons, but having specified law enforcement overcomes diffusion of responsibility.

Finally rather than calling these people “police,” it’s possible to call them “safety patrol,” and to encourage them to first apprehend illegal situations by using words, persuasion, and moral pressure rather than immediately resorting to arrest or force.  People are much more likely to treat each other well when ultimately we’re all neighbors and any unnecessarily brutal or cold-hearted law enforcement action will harm your reputation as a friend and a local.  Of course we still need specialists in things like forensic investigations, but these could be more like research professionals than enforcement staff.  Where replacing the police is not yet attainable, we can demand shoulder cameras – in one town, police personnel cameras reduced complaints against police by 88%.

My word is not the last word.  Do your own imagining.  Another world is possible!  – but we have to design it first.  Let’s get to it.

Direct Democracy vs. Participatory Democracy

anarcho-statist

The problems of participatory democracy (and super-majority) were best illustrated by Occupy Wall Street.  The movement claimed to represent all the working people of the USA, but in effect the decision-making was controlled only be people who could afford to waste huge amounts of time in unnecessarily long meetings, or even sleep at the camp 24/7.  This immediately ruled out anyone with a job or kids.

Turns out, even if we weren’t choked by the ridiculous constraints of imposing super-majority requirements on ourselves, the model still would have had limits.

In-person meetings are good for hosting political conversations, of the few who might choose to attend.  However, they cannot function as a form of national governance.   As it turns out, getting all Americans to sit in one massive circle and talk is not a practical idea (though social media is weirdly close to such a meeting). 

Direct democracy and participatory democracy are two different things, and direct democracy is (1) neglected, and (2) superior as a formal governing system.  Admittedly participatory democracy has its place; it’s good for local dialogue, possibly useful for local government or workers’ self-management, and it feels nice and homey, because everyone’s physically together and talking.  But popular power doesn’t require the aesthetic of being in the same room.  What it requires is everyone having a vote on government decisions instead of just on government representatives.  If people can do this from the comfort of their own homes, very well.  Silent majorities are a real thing sometimes, and arguably we have a new, progressive silent majority, given the way people feel about taxing the rich, universal healthcare, withdrawing from Afghanistan, legalizing same-sex marriage, legalizing marijuana, and raising the minimum wage.

Direct democracy doesn’t mean no dialogue or in-person conversation, though.  Our country already has a form of national discussion.  Every time a political issue is in the news, it ends up being discussed at dinner tables, among friends, on the Internet, in newspapers, among activists, in churches, and in organizations.  We already have a national dialogue in which everyone has a say, even if it doesn’t match the horizontalist fixation on town hall meetings.  Now we just need a national direct democracy, so that everyone has a vote to match to match their say.

Some may try to bypass the impossibility of national participatory democracy (you can’t get 318 million people into one place to talk) by simply reverting all power to the local level, but this only delays the problem.  You’ve merely created a power vacuum at the national level, not replaced it with local power.  Inter-regional economic integration and infrastructural planning are still required, and localism opens too much room for any arbitrary, even reactionary military force to establish itself as a regional or even national tyranny.

The problem is not that we live in democracy, and it’s not good enough.  The problem is not that we are national, and need to be local.  The problem is that we don’t have real democracy, and we should.

Imaginable Socialism

 

 Let’s imagine the revolution.  We’ve just replaced the old state with some kind of new popular state, based on workers’ councils, direct democracy, or whatever.  Through a combination of employee seizure and nationalize, the means of production have been seized.  Laws are passed providing essential public services to everyone for free.  Maybe people take up the idea of voting on national issues as they arise by phone.

Typically Marxists will tell you that we shouldn’t draw too many blueprints of what the future society will be like, because that’s up to the people who make it happen.  The problem is, we are the people who make it happen (or who fail to), so we need a concrete plan!  Furthermore, people looking to us for answers as the movement progresses will ask, “so what structure are we actually creating here?”  It doesn’t mean there has to be one plan.  There can be many competing and/or complementary plans.  People aren’t willing to enact a radical change in the way our entire society is structured, from the government to the workplace to the macro-economy, without knowing what that structure will be, or at least a few different ideas to choose from.  So actually as socialists it is our job to “build castles in the sky,” as Marx scoffed.  We have to build them conceptually first, because we intend to build them in reality!

So – the state has been radically transformed (by either structural rearrangement or replacement), and the means of production has been seized.  Do we immediately get rid of all money and all jobs?

I say, no.  Or at least, not necessarily.  I think initially it would be wisest to pursue a path that leaves a great deal of the economy running as it did before, except under new management and under new ownership.  Private capital is replaced with public ownership of the workplace and major institutions, but people still have to work to get paid, and can still spend their money as they like when they go shopping.

 

…BUT WHY?

Do you really trust the entire population, coming fresh out of capitalism with all its imposed bad habits and ideologies, to continue working without having a material incentive for doing so?  I don’t.  I doubt most non-cadre would trust that plan, either.  The gift economy ethic is something that develops later.  For now we just have to expropriate the rich and collectively own the commanding heights of the economy.

People will see the idea of immediately rejecting all private property as some kind of hippie bullshit. Share everything? Fuck that. The whole point of socialism was so I could have more shit, not less.

The advantage my model has is that when people say “HOW WOULD THINGS POSSIBLY WORK?!” it’s simple and familiar. It leaves the world as it exists, in an aesthetic sense, but still achieves the major transfer of ownership and power to the working majority.  There’s a reason it’s called socialism…it’s not full communism, but a transition toward it.

I’m a pragmatist.  Americans are fanatics about the freedom of consumer choice, and may die before giving up on their right to choose what they buy and don’t buy.

Also we must keep in mind, there is a potential conflict between personal savings and public capital. What if society votes to do something a worker hates? But they are somehow compelled to keep doing work which directly or indirectly contributes to that thing? That’s kind of like exploitation. Not all workers’ produce should go to the collective pool. They should be able to keep some kind of material compensation to dispose of individually.

For me it’s not just about full communism. I do sort of have a problem with the idea that people could be doing dramatically different amounts of work and all receive the same compensation.

This model is persuasive to the American public, because they fear that revolution could possibly end in chaos and collapse.  People might reasonably worry that we could quickly consume the entire surplus if there are no checks and balances on how much people can consume, or how much they are incentivized to work.  This method keeps people at work, keeps people fed, does it in ways that are familiar, and maintains public peace and order.

Of course for humane purposes there should be a minimum provided even without doing paid work – guaranteed minimum income, healthcare, food, housing, etc.  Lenin supposedly once said that the rule of socialism is “Whoever does not work, neither shall they eat” (apparently quoting the Bible?).  That’s actually a lot harsher than what I’m proposing!  Basically, the system would be that survival necessities are covered – modern technology can typically sustain survival needs without remotely jeopardizing the actual surplus.  However if you want nice non-essentials like a smartphone, a car, or any non-essential consumer item, you need to work – work and get paid a salary you spend.  I’m hoping the True Bums will start to feel sheepish about all the free stuff they’re getting, and want to contribute to the world.

But the rest of America is not so trusting, so we cannot dismantle the apparatus so soon. People need to feel like things are still adding up, that goods are being granted and work is being done, and there is some kind of accounting system and a relationship of incentive and balance between the two.

 

CONVINCE ME THIS ISN’T JUST REARRANGED CAPITALISM?

Capitalism is based on private ownership of workplaces.  Capital is private investment in the means of production.  That’s what we have to ban – you can buy a car, but you can’t buy a business; they’re all public property, and not for sale.  The problem isn’t wages, the problem is the exploitation that comes with private ownership of the workplace.  As explained in Capital, private workplaces allow companies to take what workers create (services included), and sell it for a higher value than the workers are collectively paid in wages.  This is the source of profits and growth under capitalism, and a business must do this or go out of business.

In socialism, only the direct-democratic state and its many enterprises should be able to employ people.  This way, workers can be fully compensated instead of exploited, and society as a whole controls what is created.  A more moderate model would perhaps allow small businesses like mom & pop shops or freelancers to continue for a time, or forever (and has been done).  Myself, I think this can be opened to too much abuse.

We can use “public capital” – the macro-coordinated means of production, publicly owned and direct-democratically managed – to collectively address problems.  We need better transportation? We collectively own the means of production, let’s put it to use creating mass, public transport.  We need sustainable energy?  Let’s build power plants and solar panels, because we can do that.

But all of that worker-controlled macro-economic planning can still happen in the context of currency, personal consumer property, and work-for-pay.  This is often a big shock for people who are new to socialism, completely different from what they were expecting, and probably seems more imaginable, familiar, and immediately practical to most people.

One issue with my own model is as follows: what if someone attempts to convert consumer items into a business?

We distinguish between personal and commercial property. As stated above, we won’t nationalize the car out of your garage, we’re just going for workplaces and major institutions.

The reason most consumer items are not capital is because you simply cannot build a business out of most of the things you buy in a grocery store/Home Depot/Walmart.

However, any commodity can become capital in a large-enough quantity. You can buy and sell it in an attempt to turn it into an ingredient in a business operation, or you can just speculate on it.

Fortunately this is not an insoluble problem. We can take measures like banning private individuals from mass-purchasing/wholesaleing/speculating on commodities of which no one has any conceivable personal utility for a mass quantity. (And if they are hoarders, we can direct them to our free, public, and robustly-funded psychological services.)

 

BUT WOULDN’T ELIMINATING CURRENCY PREVENT THE RISE OF A NEW BUSINESS CLASS?

Yes, but it would still allow for the possibility of exploitation by the state, and it would therefore still allow for the rise of a new state-based ruling class.

If the state is worker-owned, then the workers adding labor to the public capital is just workers working for themselves, collectively not individually. The hope is that state accumulation and workers’ accumulation would become the same thing.

If we’re talking about the state enterprises ending up with a surplus, essentially profits, off the backs of their workers, yes, exploitation may happen. But as long as the collective workers’ control of the state remains genuine, it’s really just us exploiting ourselves to create a public capital for our own benefit that we all have a say over.

If workers’ control does not stay genuine, then we have problems.  To me, that’s what the whole experience of Stalinism was. If we lose control of the state and it becomes a managerial bureaucracy, then currency is not really the problem.  We will have exploitation regardless.

Exploitation would happen in state-based system, if the state enterprises extracted more labor from their workforce than the working class received back (whether in the form of wages, or payment-in-kind via free services, free stuff, or general infrastructure usage).  If we’re talking about abstract labor-time, we could discuss the social exchange in terms of work-hours. If workers are working 40 hours a week, are they getting back 40 hours’ work’s worth of goods and services?  Or less?  The state planners would know – they must count somehow.

I’d actually rather keep currency around to act as a unit of measurement precisely for this reason, so we could measure the social exchange. This way we could compare, in a real quantitative dollar amount, how much workers are giving vs. how much they are getting, and thus stand vigilant against the rise of a new exploitative regime, or at least understand the tradeoff of personal pay versus public goods provided free by the state.

Of course, any socialism can be slandered by purist-anarchists as state capitalism, because it’s got state management of the economy, and if there is even a smidgen minority element of bureaucracy still remaining. Anarcho-statists do not have this problem…we are capable of understanding that a direct-democratic state is the property of the people, and don’t automatically dismiss it as state capitalism or tyranny – so long as the conversations in society aren’t being watched by secret police with the continual threat of sending non-reactionary dissenters to the gulag or death, as happened to most of the original Bolsheviks.

When we say “workers will own their own product,” that could happen three ways. (1) They add it to the state accumulation, which they collectively own. (2) The iPod workers take all the iPods they made at the end of the day, and divide them up evenly between each other (stupid). (3) The workers get paid in wages, but FULL wages equal to the value of the labor they contributed, NOT exploitation wages historically determined by the low standard of living under capitalism.

(1) is the full communism method (and also the war communism attempted method), (3) is the currency socialist method.  Both are socialism.

 

short-circuit

  1. The only way to party-build is to intervene in movements
  2. The movements are weak
  3. We must bolster the weak movements with party-building
  4. Party-build by intervening in movements
  5. The movements are weak
  6. Head explode

America is Salvageable

Captain_America_The_Winter_Soldier

I recently watched Captain America: Winter Soldier.  It made me cry three times.  That kind of thing doesn’t usually happen.  Like never.

It also seems like not a tear-jerker.  It’s not.  It’s a gritty realist action movie, mixed with all that Marvel goofiness and implausibility.

What got to me was the idea that America could be a force for good again.

Don’t get me wrong – this place has issues (and the movie makes sure to point many of them out).  It was founded on genocide, sustained by slavery and imperialism, and serves as the global home of capitalism.  And, thematically, our security state is out of control.

But we shouldn’t forget that the USA has a dual history.  There’s all the horrid shit – which really, every country has; atrocity is universal.  But let’s not forget the great progressive train of events in this country, with the labor movement’s many incarnations, women’s suffrage, the Abolitionists, the Civil Rights movement, the wild dreams of liberation in the 60s, the Battle of Seattle, the anti-war movements, the rise of the Internet, Occupy, and most importantly, rock and roll.  Sure, many of these movements were merely attempting to counteract injustices – negating negations.  But the point is, again – every country has these injustices.  Every country has its struggles to overcome them.  And we have ours.

Selecting a specific race to place in chains and compel to forced labor is one of the worst things anyone could possibly do.  At the same time, I cannot think of any other countries off the top of my head which actually fought an entire civil war to end slavery.

Sure, that’s not entirely why the Civil War started (though it is certainly why the South seceded).  And now some scholars are saying that the War of Independence itself was to protect slavery, too.  But regardless of why these conflicts started, we know how they ended.  The USA extended the gradual development of democracy in Britain to a whole new level, creating a culture of democracy, liberty, and anti-monarchism not seen since Greece and Rome.  This then reflected back to the rest of Europe.

That is a critical juncture in world history.

Freedom is what got me, with this movie.  Freedom was the rallying cry of our first revolution.  The love of freedom is not dead in the USA, even if it has drifted into meaninglessness among some people, and been twisted to support capitalism by others.  But it’s that love of freedom which still exists, and which can become the rallying cry of the next revolution, too.

And that brings me to my next point.  If we are to imagine a successful global wave of revolution toward socialism, it would have to come to the United States.   Really, its overall success could be judged mainly by its degree of impact on the United States.  It would serve as the ultimate turning point in geopolitics.

If the rest of the world went socialist except the United States?  I just don’t think that will happen.  I don’t think we will be the humiliated “last to join.”  At this point I think that honor goes to Russia, with its developing fascist movement and culture of authoritarianism.

Our culture is just too wired, technologically.  We are too class-conscious at this point.  Some countries will definitely beat us to the punch.  But many others will watch us, in hope, to see what we do.  I am not the first to think this

You can do this safely, for you will not need to fear foreign interventions. Japan, Great Britain and the other capitalistic countries that intervened in Russia couldn’t do anything but take American communism lying down. As a matter of fact, the victory of communism in America – the stronghold of capitalism – will cause communism to spread to other countries. Japan will probably have joined the communistic ranks even before the establishment of the American soviets. The same is true of Great Britain.

In any case, it would be a crazy idea to send His Britannic Majesty’s fleet against Soviet America, even as a raid against the southern and more conservative half of your continent. It would be hopeless and would never get any farther than a second-rate military escapade.

Within a few weeks or months of the establishment of the American soviets, Pan-Americanism would be a political reality.

The governments of Central and South America would be pulled into your federation like iron filings to a magnet. So would Canada. The popular movements in these countries would be so strong that they would force this great unifying process within a short period and at insignificant costs. I am ready to bet that the first anniversary of the American soviets would find the Western Hemisphere transformed into the Soviet United States of North, Central and South America, with its capital at Panama. Thus for the first time the Monroe Doctrine would have a complete and positive meaning in world affairs, although not the one foreseen by its author.

When we go, our massive economic infrastructure goes with us.  When we go, our military power comes with us, roughly the equivalent of the entire combined rest of the planet’s.  When we go, our webwork of political and economic integration with every other country on Earth goes with us.

When we go, the world goes.

Does this change my political stances?  No, of course not.  I have no illusions about our government, no illusions about foreign intervention or imperialism.  But I really don’t feel a need to hate this country.  I think there is a part of it, not just a fiction but a real part, that we can redeem, or is indeed already admirable.  And I’ll take the fiction, too.  If the single good thing about America is that throughout its history, it has always maintained a dream of freedom — I’ll take the dream.  Not as an illusion to breed complacency, but as vision of what to achieve.  We have to hold tight to this part of America, this admirable part, and stay loyal to it, knowing that it can become the whole.