In which I answer a reader question and get rather depressing

Reader Yinzadi asked me the following:

Would you consider writing a post about why you’re a statist communist, and not anarcho-communist? I’ve never met a communist/socialist IRL whom I felt comfortable asking that, and with your insightfulness I’d trust your answer as representative more than most people’s. With statist capitalists and anarcho-capitalists the difference seems to always be whether they’re utilitarian or voluntaryist, but I don’t know enough about socialism to know if that holds true across economic philosophies.

This was on my post Personal Freedom, where I talked about how, despite what capitalists claim, communism would actually give us freedom. Apparently what I wrote there makes me a “statist communist.” Interesting!

I think you overestimate me though, Yinzadi. I do consider it a compliment to be referred to as a communist, but I’m still at a beginner level with understanding what communism is. I know that attempts have been made at communism in a few countries already and generally have not succeeded as well as we’d like them to have or have ended completely. I haven’t read anything about any of these countries and I know nothing about what exactly was implemented, why it didn’t work, or how close it was to “real” communism.

I always do respond to reader requests as long as they’re sincerely asked, so I will jot down a few things here, as long as you understand that I’m not an expert on communism.

Generally speaking I have remained undecided as to whether I lean more anarchist or more authoritarian. Sometimes I lean toward one side, and at various times I’ve leaned on both of those sides. It’s really hard to know what would work because I’m limited to only knowing how it is under our current system, and I can’t possibly compare an anarchist communist system to a statist communist system since I haven’t lived them.

What I care about even more than I care about anarchy vs authority is whether or not patriarchy has been eradicated. What’s most important for women is not whether the government is big or small but whether we can live in safety without being held in domestic servitude and sexual slavery. I know from radical feminist writing (Particularly Right Wing Women by Andrea Dworkin) that there is a long history of left-wing men not caring about women’s rights, and from my observations of the so-called “Left” today, I’d say nothing has changed. (I say “so-called Left” because I don’t believe that most of the people who are considered “Left” in North America are actually on the Left. They’re generally just idiotic first-world liberals who don’t realize their politics are pro-capitalist.)

Both an anarchist system and a statist system could potentially be bad for women. As I wrote in my post Personal Freedom, when you give unlimited freedom to men, a lot of them make a choice to abuse and enslave women. If you look at the male-led extremist organizations in various parts of the world today, no matter how much they care about their own freedom, they still believe it’s acceptable to kidnap women and make them sex slaves. Anarchist men in North America (who call themselves anti-fascist but aren’t actually doing what actual anti-fascists do) similarly think that it’s acceptable to be violent toward women and that women’s purpose is to provide them with whatever they want. We can’t trust any sort of men of any political stripe who are fighting for their freedom to fight for women’s freedom, too.

Although it’s a nice idea to have a small government and everybody just get along and do what they’re supposed to do, I fear what men would do to us if there was no organized society and rules and expectations for decent behavior imposed on them. Even in our present civilization with a legal system that supposedly, on paper at least, protects women from harm, it’s still pretty much open season on women, so I certainly wouldn’t want to have less protection that we have now. Which brings me to my next point, which is that even with a state-run legal system, it’s pretty much open season on women, so a state-run system is not going to benefit us either, until we eliminate patriarchy.

There are some things to be said about statist communism, and that is that it provides women with things like an income and daycare, and therefore doesn’t make us dependent on men. Since women can’t spend their full days providing for themselves while pregnant and breastfeeding and caring for small children, we are dependent on somebody, whether a spouse, an extended family, or the state, to provide for our needs while we are producing the next generation. If women are dependent on the state, there is much less likelihood for wife-battering or marital rape because she can just leave if he’s being abusive. The sex trade also wouldn’t exist if women were guaranteed an income. The elimination of domestic violence and prostitution would go a very long way toward making women safer.

It’s an interesting question whether I’m a voluntarist or not. It does seem wrong to me for a government to impose an economic system onto a non-consenting public, so if people don’t want communism, then it becomes morally wrong to impose it. And this is where it’s going to become obvious that I’m part “doomer.”

Theoretically, I think if people understood that communism means fairness and equality, then they would be for it, and as soon as someone realized that they have more than they need while others don’t have enough, they would be willing to share, and as soon as someone in the first world realized that we are destroying the environment and exploiting other countries with our lifestyle, they would be prepared to willingly change their lifestyle, and that people would be willing to let go of their greed and work together for the greater good, even though it may not be fun. I think all these things are perfectly reasonable, and quite easy to understand, and also necessary for our very survival, but the problem is a really large number of people (maybe most people) are more concerned about their own immediate comfort, don’t think that greed is morally wrong, and don’t care about the greater good. This brings us to a philosophical question: is it morally right to impose the greater good onto an unwilling population that prefers to be greedy? I’m not going to answer that, I just wish this wasn’t the question we had to ask. I wish this wasn’t a question at all because I wish that people intrinsically wanted to do the right thing. The fact that people don’t want to do the right thing leaves me in despair and leaves me wondering why I ever bother with anything.

I believe that culture is part of what shapes our personalities, and we live in a culture that specifically promotes and rewards the vices of greed and self-centeredness. One in fact must exploit others in order to survive under capitalism, because the system is designed to run on exploitation. So we have vast numbers of people who believe that exploitation is not only acceptable but unavoidable and necessary, and, in a way, they’re right, because if they weren’t exploiting anybody they’d be earning no money, and if exploitation ended, the whole system would go down. However, if a whole generation grew up in a system that provided for everyone’s needs fairly and without exploitation, then I believe most of them would not believe in exploiting others and would find the idea of exploitation abhorrent.

The question becomes: how do we get there from here? I don’t know, and I don’t think anybody does, because the problem is unfathomably large, but one thing I know is that it won’t be calm or peaceful. Since humans are too stupid to cognitively realize what needs to be done and decide to do it, and since we’re trained to value greed and self-centeredness, we’re not going to end capitalism, and it’s going to reach its natural end when there’s no more natural resources to exploit, there’s no more suitable land to grow food on, and all the humans are left to kill each over the last remaining resources. I think this process has begun already. If there are any survivors, they will be indigenous populations living off the land in remote areas.

Last year I read the Deep Green Resistance book, and it’s meant to be a call to action, and it’s not meant to promote doomerism, but what it did to me is induce depression and despair. I think I’ll always be in despair because there is no real Left and everybody is doing nothing but navel gazing and avoiding solving any real problems. North Americans keep electing conservative politicians because our primary concern is keeping all the money in the hands of the rich and not sharing.

What would my utopia look like then, if human beings could survive the fall of capitalism and if we could create a better civilization? When I imagine a utopia I don’t necessarily even think about statism versus anarchism, because what I think about is what should be produced and how, and what values humans should have. We should only produce what we need to be healthy and happy, and we should produce it in a way that provides for everyone equally and doesn’t destroy the environment. What humans realistically need to produce is just enough food to keep us full, and houses big enough to shelter us and clothing that can keep us warm, and tools to help us with the processes that we need to perform. Then we need things related to health care, transportation, culture, etc. We should value being ecological, fair and humane. We should not value pride, showing off, and “looking rich.” The concept of looking rich should not exist. We should gain happiness from the basic things that human beings derive happiness from: spending quality time with our loved ones, eating together, seeing our children grow up, creating culture, and enjoying the beauty of nature.

We should design a system that requires these positive values to make it run, and that minimizes human vice. Our system should provide for our needs without destroying the environment. Whatever system can do this is a good system. I don’t know how to do this, but I do know that the question of how to create a better system should be the foremost concern of humanity right now, not dumb shit like what the Kardashian family is up to these days. I also know that we have enough research and knowledge already, as a species, to figure out how to create such a system, and we could do it, if we weren’t so stupid and greedy.

Sorry if that was depressing!

12 thoughts on “In which I answer a reader question and get rather depressing

  1. I agree that we already have the answers (both technological and philosophical) to resolve the vast amount of shittyness that pervades our little blue planet. But we, as a species, lack the maturity to implement them.
    A kind of sanity remains in the hands of the people , individuals, and small groups, who do live in accordance with those ideals/principles. Whether they’re going to be our way to adulthood or simply rearranging the deck chair on the Titanic, remains to be seen. But they are there, and that gives me hope. Not much, but enough.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Well, first off, there is a feminist/communalist/ecological revolution going on right now in Rojava.
    And then, about creating a just society, it’s apparent to me that there have been many just societies, we don’t need to reinvent the wheel. A scholarly book on the subject of the rise and fall of civilizations, and the anti-coercive societies that city escapees form in the hills, is “The Art of Not Being Governed, an Anarchist History of Southeast Asia” by James Scott. Many indigenous cultures are and were egalitarian, and in harmony with the land. I don’t think we, citizens of the industrial patriarchy, are more likely to create a just society than the indigenous people of this land. And yeah, I’m with you in feeling not so joyous about the liberal left and society in general. I’m glad you write. Your thinking is so cogent, and though the subjects are terrible to wrangle with, you do it with clarity and compassion, and I appreciate it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks karijohnsonart. I also think the answers we seek will come primarily from indigenous people, who are already doing the real and practical work of trying to save the planet from capitalism. If first-world leftists had any brains, they’d stop having pronoun circles and put all their resources into helping indigenous resistance.

      Liked by 3 people

      • Both the pronoun circles (good one!) and resistance to sharing resources stem more from an excess of narcissism than a lack of brains, I’m afraid, since self-importance tends to swamp intelligence. I like the idea of communism, but I suspect it doesn’t scale up well, given human nature, and so would only work in small groups–as might be found in indigenous cultures.

        G. K. Chesterton’s comment about Christianity applies at least as well to communism: “The Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting. It has been found difficult; and left untried.” Many people are not willing to give up what they must for a better life or a better world, so they cling to their misery until it blows up in their hands.

        I’m no stranger to that feeling of “We’re so doomed,” and I can’t say I have any particular hope, only the sort of joy and determination which experience has taught me are the foundation for hope. What I mean is, if as many people as possible live with joy and determination, even when things look bleakest, hope may rise. And, to be honest, it does give me some hope when I read the words of younger women who are thinking about difficult issues.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. The patriarchal societies have done nothing but promote selfishness since they took over. Until patriarchy is gone, the world as a whole is going to suffer. Whether we have communism or some other form of economic/governing system, it isn’t going to matter as long as it’s patriarchal.

    BTW, I look forward to each & every one of your posts.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Oh my God, you responded! Thank you so much for responding at all – and it’s such a heartfelt and thoughtful response.

    I don’t feel capable of responding to all of your ideas in a comment. I’ve never written a blog post, but I’m kind of thinking now is the time to start. I want to be able to give space for all (or at least some, as much as I’m able) of the things you’ve brought up. When talking “big picture” stuff a whole lot of subjects seem to end up being relevant.

    It did my heart a lot of good to read this. It makes me think that even people with different political and economic views can have a whole heck of a lot in common and be working towards the same moral ends. I generally think that politics and economics are already “big picture,” but your thoughts went even beyond that to tie it all together. I don’t think I really disagreed with anything you said, there are just things that I’d like to build off of.

    And Antifa, ewww! Please don’t take those people as representative of anarchism, any more than I take them as representative of communism. They seem to call themselves anarchists just for the “shock” value, not because they’ve read books and thought about issues and live by the non-aggression principle. Actual anarchists are disgusted by them. Unfortunately the media seem to prefer paying attention to the loudest, not the wisest.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Wow, I’m so pleased and amazed that what you took away from this is that “even people with different political and economic views can have a whole heck of a lot in common and be working towards the same moral ends.” I was pretty sure that what I was saying here was more along the lines of “We’re all going to die.”

      Liked by 1 person

    • Antifa’s a catch-all for anti-fascism.

      Before my chronic illness, I sometimes protested against local white supremacist conferences and neo-Nazi rallies. (with Nazi flags, so it’s not like there was any gray area.) And the neo-Nazis want to exterminate billions of people, including me, so even if I never protested, I would probably come under the label.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. More than anything I’ve ever read, this post rubbed in how much socialism will involve telling stupid selfish people ‘no’. There has always been the hope that the great catharsis and empowerment of revolution would scrub people clean of these habits, but I don’t hold out much hope it would be anything beyond temporary.


  6. I’ve written two posts (my first ever!) in an attempt to give some thought to the many important things you talked about in this post. Please don’t feel obligated to respond if you don’t want to – your post just gave me a lot to mull over. Thank you for responding in the first place.


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