So… quick note. I consider my politics to be incredibly shallow right now. I am very ignorant about a lot of aspects of social, political, and economic issues, having only a surface-level understanding. I am working to change that… I’m studying. This post is the result of only one level of my studying. So I will admit up front that this post does not have a lot behind it… and most of what it does have behind it is ignorance. I’m hoping to have a discussion about this, because I think it’s interesting and I want to learn more. So please don’t expect an expert dissertation, here. Expect an ignorant lefty’s rambling thoughts about politics, instead.
The only thing I’ll say here is that there is roughly zero chance of me ever moving to the Right. The only path for me is to the Left.
Edit April 10: I thought this post was clear, but since it wasn’t… I am not, currently, an Anarcho-Communist. I’m engaging with the idea, but do not currently agree with it… yet…
I’m constantly researching my politics, trying to both strengthen and challenge my worldview. These days, I call myself a Democratic Socialist. And yet, the more I learn about Communism and even Anarchism, the more I think I could glide even further Left.
It’s so interesting reading political and economic theories from the Left. I’ve been watching a lot of Professor Richard Wolff these days, over at Democracy at Work. His series Economic Update is so fascinating. He, for those who don’t know, if a self-described “Socialist Economist”. I like what he has to say on economics, and specifically his talks on worker co-ops and Workplace Democracy, and how important they are to our future.
But I’ve also been learning more and more about the Anti-Work movement. It’s another fascinating political philosophy that says that no one should be forced into laboring in ways they don’t want to. It’s not saying that people shouldn’t work, but instead that people should have the freedom (both monetarily and in time) to pursue their interests. So yes, people should absolutely work together towards common goals and such, but no one should be conscripted into a job as defined under Capitalism and under the State. Basically, no more wage-labor, and no more Capitalism.
I’m also, of course, learning more and more about Anarchism…
Well, to be more specific… Anarcho-Communism.
I actually think that may be the ideal end-goal for a society. If you can get there step-by-step, slowly forcing the society away from Capitalism, I think Anarcho-Communism is perhaps, at least ideally, where things should end up.
Of course it’s because I’m a political person, but I actually think I like the idea of self-governance. If it’s about abolishing all hierarchies (Patriarchy, White Supremacy, Capitalism, Governance, etc), I can see that being a very attractive prospect. It’s also appealing because I do still indeed believe in the idea that you have the right to do whatever you want as long as you do not violate another person’s right to do whatever they want.
(As a tangent…
I always feel the need to emphasize the second half of that because so many “Libertarians” who claim to believe that only really believe the first half. They only care about their rights, not anybody else’s. But the idea actually necessitates that you put a priority on other people’s rights because, in fact, your rights end where another person’s rights begin. You cannot force someone to participate in something they do not want to. This is why I’m okay with things like driving under the influence being illegal. Sure. Fine. You have the right drive under the influence of whatever substance you want. But the moment you drive onto a road or into an area where other people are, your right ends, because they did not give their permission to be endangered by your inebriated driving, and they have the right to be safe from your inebriated driving.
Of course, the argument could go the other way. You could argue that you did not agree to keep them safe from your inebriated driving. But I think it’s pretty easy, morally and ethically, to see who’s is in the right.
It’s like sex… unless you’ve obtained their full, sober, enthusiastic consent, it’s rape.
Now, obviously, like everything, there are lots of scenarios where that becomes a lot more complicated. In most cases, the Negotiation of Rights is very messy, very complicated, and rarely ends with everyone involved very happy, because it ends up ending in a compromise where neither gets to exercise their individual rights in full. But that negotiation is part of living in a functioning society… it’s important.
Let’s get back on track…)
So Anarcho-Communism makes some sense to me from that angle.
But I do have some… let’s say… concerns… with the idea. And that’s really what I want to discuss here.
See, I do support the Anti-Work movement. That doesn’t mean that I don’t work. I am unemployed currently, and finding a job has become next to impossible, but I am job-hunting and very much want one (unless… well… let me not get ahead of myself). But I don’t think people should be forced to labor for a pittance to satisfy the Capitalist machine. Capitalism, in my estimation, is evil, not good or neutral. That means that the labor system under Capitalism is evil, as well.
But, from what I see, we need a lot of very strong social safety nets to facilitate such a thing.
We need a Universal Basic Income, and not $1000 or even $1200 a month, but based on, say, a $15/hr wage for 30 hours a week, per person. We can discuss the age it kicks in, but maybe it gets saved into an account for children under 13, at 13 they get access to part of it, and at 16 they get access to everything in that account, plus the continuing checks.
Banking should be universal as well, eliminating fees, credit, etc.
We also need Universal Housing. Real Estate should not be an industry that exists in any meaningful form. And homes should be fully furnished, with running hot and cold water, modern, up-to-date heating and air, a good and well-furnished kitchen (including a fridge/freezer, oven range, basic pots and pans, dishes, utensils, and glasses), carpeting, basic furniture, etc.
We also need a Universal Essentials program, where people are provided with water and the basic necessities in food based on their dietary needs/preferences (which a person or family can be asked yearly around tax time).
We also need Universal Education from Daycare up to a Bachelor’s Degree, and the government should subsidize both Master’s and PhD degrees so they are far cheaper… and we need to abolish the student loan industry and forgive past student loans outright.
Obviously we need Universal Health Care as well, but it needs to cover everything, without exception, and, for birth control and abortion especially, without parental permission. (And vaccines should be mandatory… obviously.)
We also need to completely overhaul transportation, drastically expanding public transportation (trains, busses, trams, scooters, perhaps even cars) and making it free or at least no more expensive than $0.05 to ride, so that far more people can use it, and all of that needs to run on green energy, not fossil fuels, an industry which needs to be entirely abolished (along with coal).
We also need Universal Internet, abolishing private ISPs entirely, with faster speeds.
And all of this needs to be universal in the truest sense. This means that even so-called “illegal” immigrants (note: there’s actually no such thing… human beings are not illegal and heavily policed borders are bullshit; if someone’s in this country, they want to be; let them pay taxes and benefit like everyone else) get to benefit from all this. No one… and I mean no one, is left out. And yeah, that also means today’s billionaires would get access to all this, but they also would not be billionaires. No such wealth level could exist in such a society.
As for taxes… every year, we’d get an online pre-filled form and simple questionnaire from the government. It would explain the taxes, whether we owe them or they owe us, etc. You would check it over, make sure everything’s correct, make any corrections you need, and send it back. The questionnaire would ask about your diet (for the food program), perhaps some questions about how well you feel the government is doing the job you hired them to do (for the essentials program), and simple stuff like that.
Yes, of course, there would still be wages. For example: only water is provided. Other drinks (sodas, energy drinks, juices, milk, etc) are not provided. Those have to be made and purchased. Same with food… basics (as determined by experts in nutrition) will be provided based on your dietary needs, but that likely wouldn’t involve… say… prime grade boneless ribeye steaks. You would have to buy those. Butter or basic margarine might be provided, but cheeses, fancy margarines, etc, would be available for purchase. Consumer goods that fill wants (collectibles, fancy cooking equipment, special glasses for alcohol and such, costumes and accessories, fancy clothes, etc) would also still have to be bought. Plus, even though the government provides basic furnishings, kitchenware, appliances, etc, you can obviously upgrade or change things all you want. All that means that there would still be jobs people could do. Only this time, these jobs would be staffed by people who genuinely want to do them as opposed to people who are forced into it because they desperately need the income.
There would still be markets, and as such, labor. It just wouldn’t look anything like what we’re used to right now.
Now, a lot of people will rightly argue that our government cannot be trusted to run such a system. Why wouldn’t the US censor the internet, for example, if they controlled it? Well, what I’m calling for here would not be administered by the US government as we currently know it.
To be entirely fair, I don’t know exactly what a government that could reliably run such a system would look like. I like to think that a true Democratic Socialist government would be capable, but any capable government would have to be closely watched by us. The government should not be our leaders, but our employees. The Constitution (a document I have little respect for, but that’s a topic for a future blog… or maybe vlog) says the government, including the President, works for us, but it doesn’t really, and it wasn’t designed to. Basically, the Constitution lied to us… and did it deliberately. So we need a government that actually “knows its place”. We need a government that exists specifically to run these programs, collect taxes to pay for them and for society in general (roads, public services like firefighters and ambulances, nature reserves, etc), and be our representative to the world at large.
Contrary to popular belief, that would not actually be a “big government”. It wouldn’t be small, either, especially because I still believe that the government, through our taxes, should fund science. In fact, if I could choose, the three biggest things I’d want my taxes going towards are the social safety nets, extra towards education, and science like NASA, the USDA Nutritional Database, SETI (yes, I like SETI), etc. Defense would not be on my list at all. I do think we need some kind of defensive force just in case, but nothing like we have now, and nothing that would be actively deployed unless we were forced into an active war. I also do think we need some kind of organization dedicated to ensuring laws are enforced, but nothing like the current system, which isn’t broken, but built deliberately to be discriminatory and evil.
But such a government would only have as much overreach as we allow them to have. Again… this government would not be our leaders, but our employees. Campaigns (which would be free… so money can’t even enter into the equation in the first place) would basically be visual resumes and interviews, which is what they should be in the first place.
That is the kind of government I’d want administering such a society… not what we have right now.
But, obviously, we need something like a government to administer such a society. Someone has to collect the money needed to allow such a society to run efficiently and comfortably for everyone in it, as well as represent this society to the wider world.
And that is my next concern… in reality, we live in an age where it’s no longer useful or meaningful to separate societies. There is, truly, only one massive society today. I mean there are some exceptions, but very, very few. The vast majority of human beings are connected in one way or another via the internet, and especially via social media. The little “societies” out there can be more accurately called “sub-societies” of the one massive human society. And these sub-societies do need representatives to the larger human society on the world stage. That’s why I like, at least, the idea of the United Nations. I do think something like that is necessary.
My final concern is about people themselves. I don’t know that most people want to govern themselves. Basically… even if they knew what Anarchy really was, I think most people would say “nah… that’s way too much work. Let’s have a government handle that.” I think that because I think most people, not just in the US, but around the world, are apathetic to politics. We always hear the complaints of “keep politics out of _________” and “why do you have to be so political?” and so on. I really think the reason for that is, even though everything is political (including what you choose to eat, when you choose to go to bed, what clothes you by, what toiletries you buy, etc, etc, etc), most people just don’t want to think about it. It’s not that they’re ignorant or anything like that. They know. They just don’t care.
Of course, I don’t expect what I want to see to happen anytime soon. Even though I’m not a pacifist, I’m also quite terrified of revolution, and would rather it be avoided if at all possible. Part of the reason for that is that in a revolution or a civil war, it won’t be the powerful who get hurt. It’ll be the poor, the people of color, the LGBTQIA community, the women, the disabled, the neurodivergent, and the children who will get hurt. I’m not okay with that. Instead, I think we need to work in steps to get there.
Right now, the first step is getting rid of Donald Trump. I know… Biden is a surprisingly worse candidate than Hillary Clinton was. The fact that he’s almost definitely the nominee isn’t just upsetting… it’s straight up demoralizing. But literally no one is worse than Trump. I bang this drum a lot, but if Trump gets another 4 years, I strongly believe that the US will devolve into a devastating civil war. Trump will be the last president this country ever has. And while it may seem like I should think that’s a good thing, especially given my hatred for the Constitution and the US as it currently exists, I absolutely do not think it’s a good thing, for the reasons I explained in the previous paragraph.
We need to get rid of Trump. The path towards what I described will open to us, even under Biden, as long as we protest, agitate, send letters, make phone calls, and… in general… remain politically active. But Trump has to go.
From there, steps can be taken to move forward… not fast or violently, but quick enough to be safe for the most vulnerable amongst us. And, obviously, we need to make sure that we can guarantee this to the most oppressed amongst us, otherwise we can’t guarantee it at all.