Bosses and property owners deserve no right to command, nor do they have a right to the fruits of other people’s labor. Like all forms of authority, it seizes decision-making power from regular people and vests it in particular roles or institutions, which they’re obligated to obey. There is no equality or balancing of interests between employers and employees, and there will never be as long as those roles exist.
Freedom can only exist when we interact with one another as free, equal, and unique associates. Without capitalism or any other authority, the responsibility of organizing labor will fall entirely on the workers or the community as a whole (whichever folks prefer). Since all decision-making power belongs to them, they will also have complete responsibility for the results, good or bad. With social means of production collectivized, individuals and groups can meet their needs without the trouble of a boss threatening them with unemployment. Because an arrangement like this one will do away with poverty (since social means of production are available to all, and folks will likely distribute goods in a more rational manner without any institutionalized profit motive), it will be much harder, if not impossible, for reactionaries to take advantage of the desperation born out of poverty and direct it toward racist or nationalistic ends. When we give education the same treatment, combined with a general anti-authoritarian and anti-absolutist ethic, I think racial, gender, and sexual bigotry from individuals will dissolve over time, and so will the chance of social hierarchies reforming around those things.
Let us fool ourselves no longer. At the very moment Western
nations threw off the ancient regime of absolute government, operating under a once-divine king, they were restoring this same system in a far more effective form in their technology, reintroducing coercions of a military character no less strict in the organization of a factory than in that of the new drilled, uniformed, and regimented army. During the transitional stages of the last two centuries, the ultimate tendency of this system might be in doubt, for in many areas there were strong democratic reactions; but with the knitting together of a scientific ideology, itself liberated from theological restrictions or
humanistic purposes, authoritarian technics found an instrument at
hand that has now given it absolute command of physical energies of
cosmic dimensions. The inventors of nuclear bombs, space rockets, and computers are the pyramid builders of our own age: psychologically inflated by a similar myth of unqualified power, boasting through their science of their increasing omnipotence, if not omniscience, moved by obsessions and compulsions no less irrational than those of earlier absolute systems: particularly the notion that the system itself must be expanded, at whatever eventual cost to life.
Lewis Mumford, ‘Authoritarian and Democratic Technics’ (1964)
If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor. If an elephant has its foot on the tail of a mouse and you say that you are neutral, the mouse will not appreciate your neutrality.
I just love how right-libertarians always talk about how “against The Man” and “anti-authoritarian” they are, but half of them dress like they just arrived from a Town & Country magazine and the other half spend their time trying to uphold dominant social norms on reddit forums (see GamerGate, MRAs, any time anyone brings up a societal thing that needs changing and they’re the first ones to be there with the good ol “if I may play devil’s advocate” or “don’t be so sensitive, SJW!” chestnuts).
Washington has always regarded democratic socialism as a greater threat than totalitarian Communism, which was easy to vilify and made for a handy enemy. In the sixties and seventies, the favored tactic for dealing with the inconvenient popularity of developmentalism and democratic socialism was to try to equate them with Stalinism, deliberately blurring the clear differences between the worldviews. (Conflating all opposition with terrorism plays a similar role today.)
i feel like any analysis of fascism which treats it as an extension of capitalism kinda doesn’t fully capture how evil it is
it’s not just an extra-authoritarian strain of capitalism, it’s more like a form of neo-feudalism/neo-monarchism, an attempt by reactionaries to not only halt but to actually reverse the dialectical process, to not only prevent capitalism from being overthrown by communism, but to revert to the pre-liberal social order. it’s when the ruling class decides they must resort to older, crueler weapons to maintain their power.
if you look at pro-monarchist propaganda from around the 1700s/1800s, it’s almost identical to fascist propaganda, and the evolution between pro-monarchist ideology and fascist ideology is seamless
The left-right political divide is less about the means of allocation (democratic planning, markets, etc.) and more about the nature of class in society – should society be horizontal or should it be vertical? Should one class of people control the resources and keys to livelihood while another class is forced to work for the former out of necessity? Should eloquent cultural justifications be made to enshrine class domination by equating it with “a natural order”, “social inevitability”, or even “freedom”?
When dealing with conservatives and other rightists, keep in mind that many of them are well aware of the fact that their favored social setup breeds hierarchy and division – indeed, they often revel in it. With regard to those who genuinely believe the divide is between “more government on the left and less government on the right”, ask them how maintaining powerful pockets of authority in private social institutions constitutes “anti-authoritarianism”.
Capitalism and feudalism are similar in that they both subordinate a majority class of individuals to the ownership claims or sovereignty claims of a minority class of individuals; this has never been an anti-authoritarian setup where freedom for everyone is respected, and to argue such is to uphold an ahistorical analysis. “Voluntary contract” and other such justifications seek to conceal the class structure; an individual selling their laboring capacities to another, all because the latter controls the means of livelihood for the former, is not “voluntary” in any kind of meaningful way.
When dealing with liberals, keep in mind that many of them talk of “equality” in vague platitudes but have no intention of actually questioning class structures – indeed, many in the dominant class are liberals. Though they will often plant their flag “on the left” of the political spectrum, liberals usually have no intention of making society more horizontal; maybe more intersectional, where a slightly more diverse group of people constitute the dominant classes, but they are still ultimately quite comfortable with a social order where the majority work for the elevation of the minority.
Many sincere liberals will even buy into the rhetoric peddled by those farther right, and they will argue that equality and freedom are opposites that need to be wrestled into a compromise somewhere in the middle. Obviously a great many don’t actively seek out equality or freedom anyway (again, unless it’s an equality of backgrounds in the ruling class and a freedom where that class continues its hegemonic crusade), but there are also a great many who want to see a flatter social order, overwhelmingly among working class liberals. Similar to the “sincere conservative”, ask these people why they think freedom and equality are opposing values.
If state entities are curbing social and political freedoms, then conditions aren’t equal – the state maintains a hierarchy above the people as a ruling class. If private entities control the means of production and keys to livelihood in communities, then conditions aren’t free – the owning class is tyrannical by default, since it creates the conditions for coerced labor and facilitates authoritarian control within the institutions it claims ownership over.
Freedom and equality are two sides of the same coin, the coin of human flourishing. You can’t fully have one without the other.
As such, the left-right divide is not about equality vs freedom, or big government vs small government. It is about equality AND freedom vs hierarchy AND coercion; liberation vs subjugation. Rightists have supported this claim up until recently, when it started becoming passe to advocate overt domination and the rhetoric morphed into a supposed “freedom” narrative. Leftists have also supported this claim, as they were the ones who challenged authority by advocating democracy to its natural conclusion and by seeking to divvy up power as much as possible so that coercion and domination remained at a minimum.
Historically, presently, and consistently, this has been the way of things.
Today, on the 25th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre, why is it not a trending topic on Facebook while Justin Bieber, Ghostbusers, and Interpol are?
This article has powerful pictures of the events leading up to and surrounding the massacre:
25 years ago today, “the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) violently cleared Beijing’s Tiananmen Square of protesters, ending a six-week demonstration that had called for democracy and widespread political reform. The protests began in April of 1989, gaining support as initial government reactions included concessions. Martial law was declared on May 20, troops were mobilized, and from the night of June 3 through the early morning of June 4, the PLA pushed into Tiananmen Square, crushing some protesters and firing on many others. The exact number killed may never be known, but estimates range from several hundred to several thousand.” - via The Atlantic
I'm having a FB conversation with a libertarian about why I can't accept libertarian ideals. We got to the point where he claimed my criticisms aren't for capitalism, that some propaganda machine is telling me that society's ills are caused by this imposter system people call capitalism, that he wants the true pure capitalism ™, which would be the best thing ever. Waiting for him to respond to my question on wtf he'd call this, what we had in the past, and wtf that pure form would look like.
It’s ironic that he argues that propaganda is being used against capitalism to equate it with the imposter corporatist system, because “we have corporatism, not true capitalism” is itself very much a piece of bourgeois propaganda intended to keep people within the defined limits of political discourse while making them feel edgy and subversive – basically the Matrix fan theory that there were two layers to the Matrix, to get people who escaped the first layer to think they succeeded in challenging the machines’ authority, all while still remaining completely within the Matrix boundaries.
“True capitalism” inevitably sets up the conditions for “corporatism” to flourish. When you have a small class of elites controlling the larger productive capacities (something characteristic of both “true capitalism” and “corporatism”), they’ll inevitably mingle with the political process to shape policy to align with their interests. Private/public collusion has been relatively constant since capitalism’s not-so-humble beginnings. In this sense, right-wing libertarians are correct in that we’ve never had “true capitalism” – capitalism where the state does not interfere in the process – but they deliberately ignore how essential the state is for capitalism to function properly. “Big government” (minimum wages, corporate regulations, welfare) is the state desperately trying to reconcile capitalism despite the latter’s innate flaws and tensions. Without the implementation of some “big government” concessions, people would’ve called for complete overhaul of this system ages ago. Furthermore, private property rights over the collective means of production and the subordination of labor to capital are systemic qualities maintained through the state, which grants them legitimacy and a police force to crush protest and popular struggle against concentrated power.
You’re totally right, too – when called out on the capitalism/corporatism distinction, the argument shifts around to either “we once had it” or “we never had it”. If we once had it, it was the glorious days of the Founding Fathers™ where “small government” was the way (despite, ya know, the rampant imperialism and repression of anyone who wasn’t a property-owning white dude); in that case, right-wing libertarianism becomes an obvious case of reactionary propaganda. If we never had true capitalism, then it’s because the state has always interfered and we just need to “get it out of the way” or smash it – more realistic in its understanding that we’ve always had “corporatism” but less realistic in its understanding of history and the way capitalism actually functions. Either way, we have capitalism when it’s convenient for a narrative (when you’re using a computer, for example – “capitalism made that!”) and we have corporatism when it’s convenient for another narrative (when you’re demanding systemic change, for example – “we’ve never had capitalism so how can you oppose it?!”).
Tell him that leftists don’t seek out “big government” or top-down managing of the economy – both of those things are fundamental aspects of the capitalist epoch, the former being the band-aids and Elmer’s glue designed to hold this crumbling system together and the latter being the defining feature of capitalism (private/top-down ownership over the means of production). Tell him that traditional notions of ACTUAL “small government” came from socialists, specifically through libertarian Marxism and anarchism (which has consistently had an anti-capitalist foundation, until Murray Rothbard thought he could make a fine bit of propaganda in the form of “anarcho-capitalism”). Tell him that of the variety of ways social deliberation can be handled, autocracy (decision by one or a small subset) and democracy (decision by most or all) are the two broad umbrellas they all fall under, and capitalism relies on autocracy in pretty much all of the social deliberations that deal with power, influence, and access to resources – in other words, concentrated power and “big government”.
I used to be a “we never had true capitalism” right-libertarian so I understand where he’s coming from, but the sooner he understands how fundamentally propagandistic it all is, the closer he’ll get to embracing genuinely anti-authoritarian ideas.