Archives for posts with tag: Communism

You gotta love charity, right? I know it’s my favourite. Makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside. You know that feeling? I get to feel, deep down, that I’ve helped some miserable wretch. These people certainly can’t help themselves, so it is up to me to wander in and solve their problems for them! I’m better than them, and I am graciously spreading my goodness, not to necessarily elevate anybody, but to alleviate suffering. Temporarily, of course, because eliminating the problem so that nobody needs any kind of condescending “help” would mean sacrificing some of my own privileges. I could never do that, because then how would I know that I’m better than other people?

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One above, one below. The very image of giving to a homeless person belies the hierarchy the act places each into.

That warm and fuzzy feeling that comes from being charitable appears to be unique among traditionally moral behaviours. Telling the truth, for instance, kinda sucks. It sucks when it’s a moral action, that is. If someone asks you about the weather, and you answer truthfully, it’s not really a moral action. If someone were to lie in that situation, it would invoke concerns of pathology. Telling the truth is moral when it generates personal consequences. You tell the truth when you leave a note with your information on the windshield of a parked car you dinged. You tell the truth when you slip after a few years of sobriety and call your parents to admit your transgression. Kant’s killer at the door is a test of morality because it calls into question one’s commitment to their own values.

It is not just honesty. Loyalty really only matters when temptation is present. Temperance only counts when anger is deserved. Forgiveness only makes sense when there is something to forgive. Jesus told his followers to turn the other cheek only after the first had been struck. The entire point of morality is to regulate relationships and situations that might otherwise escalate wildly. It’s not to feel great about how swell of a human being you might be.

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Moral temperance would be recognizing the context that leads to violence, but choosing an alternative. Even if the violence would end up being hilarious.

Which brings us back to charity. Giving a few dollars to a local non-profit is about the equivalent of telling someone that it’s raining when it’s raining. In short, it is not a moral action. What would be the charitable equivalent to telling your girlfriend the truth about how her butt looks in those pants?

There is the Peter Singer option, to start. Singer invites us to imagine having just bought a $100 pair of shoes. We’re walking home in our new shoes, and we see a small child struggling to stay afloat in a pond. The child goes under the water. What do we do? Singer suggests that there are few people who would even hesitate to jump into the pond to rescue the child, the status of their shoes be damned. If most people would save a child, despite the loss of their purchase, then why is it that the status of our charity is so pitiable? Singer wants charity to take on a much more extreme role, where individuals donate all their income minus enough for their own basic needs, and argues that this is our basic human drive anyway based on how we would approach these life or death situations if we were ever faced with them in person.

drownin-babby

Do you offer a receipt for tax purposes?

Redistribution of wealth is certainly one way to address poverty, but it is not the only way. Another might be to restructure the current system that stratifies people into class hierarchies into one that allows people to take care of themselves (such as through communal ownership of property), which eliminates the need for charity entirely. If everyone has their basic needs met, then poverty will have become inconsequential.

There are probably more moral ways to address poverty, but charity certainly isn’t one of them. From my arguments, you can join the fight to implement social policies that will help the working class, or you can start a revolution. Neither of them will give you any warm fuzzies, in fact, they’ll require great sacrifice, but at least you’ll be behaving ethically.

As someone on the left wing, communism tends to come up every now and then, often as more of an accusation than anything else. Now, people don’t generally understand what communism is, and whatever, but when people describe what they think it is, what they inevitably end up describing is the basic structure of a multinational corporation: a small, unelected group of elites holding tyrannical power over all those under their jurisdiction, dictating from on high the direction the collective will follow, and also everyone at the bottom is impoverished and starving.

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Communism: Because believing in propaganda is easier than reading books!

If the Soviet Union failed because Joe Comrade was starving rather than living in utopian abundance, then why isn’t Apple considered a failure when it has enduring criticisms of sweatshop labour conditions? Poisonous work environments and suicide epidemics? And of course, child labour, because why not? I mean sure, Apple has made a few people very, very rich to the point where movies get made about them, and now we have a whole new kind of addiction that drug addicts of the past could never even conceive of, which, I guess, kudos for changing the world, but if Stalin invented the iPhone instead of Steve Jobs, would that really change our opinion of the USSR as a country? I mean, for the sake of argument, if a company that had fruit in its name were to indirectly hire a mercenary army to overthrow a democratic government, we’d rage with equal fury to Russian interference in an election, right?

Consider Saudi Arabia. What you might not know about the Saudi kingdom is that it is technically a “socialist” state, similar to the “socialism” of the Soviet Union… Not, you know, real socialism, but the fake propaganda socialism we’ve been talking about that is interchangeable with communism. The Saudi state owns the oil production within Saudi Arabia. And wouldn’t you know it, people go nuts for that shit. People love oil, maybe even more than their iPhones. And much like the Soviet Union, the human rights record in Saudi Arabia isn’t all that great either. And, for added serendipity, it recently endured what could quite easily be compared to a Stalinistic purge. Comparisons for days!

The Saud family is hella rich. Richer than Steve Jobs. Does that mean that we have finally found that successful communist state that those on the Right routinely demand of their progressive interlocutors? I suppose that depends on a long series of ever-changing definitions. Unfortunately, nobody ever calls Saudi Arabia communist, mostly because that would lead to conflicting propagandas.

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MbS: The revolutionary new face of the definitely-not-communist Wahhabi regime

The differences between a privately-owned company and a privately-owned country are slim. The only objective measure of success seems to be economic (Apple would never change its working conditions if it thought it wouldn’t lose any money from the blowback; I mean, they’re still doing it, and still making money, so). Subjectively, all you have to do is play ball with the Western powers, and people will literally define words differently to suit you.

What made the Soviet Union a failure was that the people were oppressed by a tyrannical government. The solution, according to even the propaganda, is having the people direct their own future by collectively agreeing which direction they wish to go: you know, democracy. Well, the same applies to any company: the workers should direct their own future and collectively agree which direction they wish to go: you know, socialism (not communism… it’s different. Learn what words mean).

You know how Muslims are the new communists? Lurking insidiously in the shadows, just waiting to impose Sharia law or clitorectomies or whatever onto the hapless, civilized population of the West? Muslims are the new and improved version because they look and dress differently from us, which is about the absolute worst thing a person can do. There are, however, analog purists out there who never quite gave up on the red scare, furious that McCarthyism is being used against the president with wiretaps instead of against liberal arts majors. Just as with the wiretaps, and McCarthyism in general, anyone who believes that there is anything legitimate to be found in any of these claims is a moron.

As with all morons, they come up with catchy names for their moronic ideas. Enter Cultural Marxism, the belief that every progressive idea has its roots in Marx, and that a sinister cabal of Jews (yes, Jews. It’s always the Jews) are trying to destabilize the world with their commie Jewish ways. Marx’s end game, as interpreted by these Jews, was to infect the culture of society rather than the economy. Kinda seems like a nice way of blaming Marx for gays and women’s lib, on top of the Cold War and Obama. Cultural Marxism is the moron’s way of not having to think too deeply about anything, since all the problems in the world can be blamed on a single, simple thing: the Jews… I mean, the commies.

Well, morons, you’re in luck. You know those damned socialists wanting government reform to implement higher welfare rates? Those dirty Cultural Marxists! Fortunately, according to famous actual communist Rosa Luxemburg, anyone who wants the government to implement social change is not a true communist, because “State control is penetrated with the exclusive interests of the ruling class.” No communists is going to want government intervention; the entire premise of communism is a worker’s revolution against the whole capitalist system. The government is too influenced by corporate interests to be of any value to the communist cause.

How about those 99%ers who want a $15 minimum wage to help the poor because of their Cultural Marxist leanings? Turns out, one should not “struggle against the mode of distribution, … [but] against the mode of production.” Thanks for clearing that up, Rosa! Communists want workers to own the means of production! Redistribution of wealth… ain’t communist! So relax.

Luxemburg calls these folks “Opportunists”, and her ire is directed at one chap in particular, Eduard Bernstein. This is my gift to you: the most popular dude in American politics, “Bernstein” Sanders. Get it? He’s not a communist; he is, at best, an Opportunist, according to real-life Marxist sources.

“But… but…!” you might stammer, “All that talk of capitalism being the worst! That’s gotta be Marxism!” And you’re right. Marx was not particularly fond of capitalism. You know who else isn’t fond of capitalism? Donald Trump. Trump wishes to eliminate NAFTA, something that created wider markets for American businesses. Under NAFTA, companies can sue governments whenever those governments try to implement regulations that get in the way of profits. This mostly happens against Canada, usually whenever we try to implement environmental protections. Companies having more power than governments is like the capitalist’s wet dream, and Trump wants to get rid of that. He wants to regulate markets! Isolationist policies stay the invisible hand! Trump is about as Culturally Marxist as anybody, given the amount of evidence and intelligence it requires to use that label, and if Donald Trump is a Cultural Marxist, then nobody is.

At this point, it should be clear that if anyone unironically says Cultural Marxism, you can just stop listening to them, and move on to other, more productive things.

What might cause you some concern, however, is a poll of Americans in 1987 which showed that about half believe that, “From each according to his ability, to each according to his need” is in the American constitution. Here is what it really says:

We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

Now I know what you’re thinking: it mentions welfare; the constitution must be Culturally Marxist! What it doesn’t say is, “From each according to his ability, to each according to his need” which is actually Marxist. People just thought it sounded like a truth that we hold to be self-evident, and figured it must be in there. What this tells us is that even if people don’t like Marx because morons keep attributing his name to nonsense, they tend to like Marxist ideas. Guy just needs some rebranding, I suppose.

Stop worrying, Cultural Morons. All those things you think are Marxist, like welfare and gay rights, aren’t, and all the things you love, are! So grow a beard, throw on your nicest red sweater, grab your hammer, find someone with a sickle, and go forth to seize the means of production. Workers of the world, unite!

Post-script: On second thought, Karl Marx was Jewish, so maybe there’s something to this whole “Cultural Marxism” thing after all…