Thursday, October 29, 2009

We're All Socialists Now

People today are cyborgs—half human, half communist. Notwithstanding the collapse of formal communism, socialism has changed people beyond recognition. We’re all socialists now.

We’re all utilitarians; We all believe in the greatest good for the greatest number of people, whenever possible. We all support progress. We all like the future. We’re all cosmopolitans. We all believe in brotherhood or sisterhood. We’re all feminists.

We want women to be doctors and lawyers. We’re all opposed to bigotry and anti-Semitism. We all support universal education, universal literacy, and free housing for everyone. We want everybody to have a job and a house. We support abortion rights; we support equality and social justice and anti-colonialism. We like hard work. We like workers. We want workers to get ahead in life.

We want the children of workers to have every opportunity, to become whatever they want to become. We love social mobility. We love the idea of a pig farmer becoming our political leader. We believe in the productive capacity of the industrial revolution. We love machines and technology and electricity and industrial power. We’re into engineers.

We want modernization at all costs. We like to plan, to map, to design, to create, and to build. We want to make things. We want to invent things. We want government to wither away once and for all. We’re against exploitation and lazy fat cats. We want solidarity, fraternity, and happiness. We want better, more meaningful art and literature and culture.

We hate fascism. We like fairness. We think people can get better and will get better. We think that men and women today are better than men and women of the past. They are stronger, smarter, and bigger. We like heroes. We believe that men and women who are born fifty years from now will be better than we are. They’ll be more rational, less emotional. We’ll look like troglodytes to our descendants.

We want our children to believe in something bigger and better than village or clan or tribe or race. We like community. We want utopia now.


  1. "We want government to wither away once and for all." One of the few sentences from this post I completely agree with. That stateless state is, by definition, anarchy. It seems you want to call this communism, and you claim we are temporarily socialists (don't include me, please) in our transformation from unrefined human beings to superior communists. If I have this incorrect, please clarify for me.

    What do you see as the difference between communism and anarchy?

  2. What a good question, mystery blog poster... I'm not sure I have a good answer but I will attempt an answer, or a couple of answers, in the weeks or months to come. It seems like anarchism can be seen as one version of socialism, and perhaps the famous debate between the anarchist Bakunin and Marx would be a good place to begin... Anyhow, it's hard to say how seriously Marx took the idea of the state withering away...

  3. Me again. This is in two parts, as I exceeded the post limit.

    The main problem I have in deciphering your intent in this post is that I do not know how you define the terms you are using. Communism can be a political ideology or a voluntary association of human beings. If you are holding out for the day in which universal voluntary communism arises, then that's one thing.

    But I assume that you would like to actively participate in whatever methods are necessary to transform society into a communist utopia. What are you willing to do? Use the political process? If you picture future humanity as being superior communist beings, how do we evolve to this stage? Voluntarily or by force? Do you believe in achieving good ends through violent means? Is communism an objective or subjective good? What if others believe that what you percieve as good is evil? Do you force them to go along? Do you kill them if they refuse? Will humanity rise to a higher level of greatness through force? Involuntary utopia seems an oxymoron to me.

    I also assume you are interpreting the socialist tendencies we are currently exhibiting as a sign that we are in transition to the great communist ideal. The problem with that is that it is political socialism, which means people are forced to share at gunpoint, and a small group of individuals decides how to redistribute wealth (and most of it is going to those with more, not less, wealth). How do you propose to eliminate these animals, who are more equal than the other animals, and are currently in charge of wisely redistributing resources in the name of fairness? These benevolent entities with a monopoly on force, will they one day turn in their guns and step down and join the communist masses when their vision has been accomplished? Do you really think so? How many times before has that particular promise been made? This time it will be different?

    (continued on next post)

  4. (continued from previous post)

    Wishing for greater good for greater numbers is all well and good. Wishing that everyone gets along together in peace and harmony is all well and good. Wishing that everyone can get the necessary food, shelter, employment, and healthcare in order to survive is all well and good. Taking action to make these wishes come true is a spectacularly wonderful and noble endeavor for us all to undertake. Voluntarily.

    My utopia is a place where every human being is a sovereign entity upon the face of the Earth, equal in innate human rights to every single other human being. Some will accomplish more than others, and some will need help from others in order to get by. Oh, wait, that is already here! By definition, we are all equally endowed with the same innate human rights as everyone else. The problem is that we allow some humans to be more equal than others, which is a violation of the natural law of innate human equality.

    Any human who initiates violence against me, or threatens to, violates my human rights and upsets the utopia. He presumes that I am less than human, an object of his possession. This is, of course, patently false. I have the human right to defend myself against such aggression, and I can even hire others to perform this service for me. But at times, when there are too many guns, discretion is the better part of valor, and I have to submit to the guns in order to survive.

    Government, which is defined as the group that possesses the monopoly on force within a society, is the collection of guns to which I am forced to submit, to which I am forced to give up my humanity and act as though I were a possession of another. And so my utopia is denied. The explanation that government must treat me as a subhuman possession (citizen) in order to improve the lot of many other subhuman government possessions (utilitarianism) does not impress this sovereign being one bit.

    So in my view, utopia is being held back because there is a widespread belief that authority and responsibility do not lie within each and every single sovereign human being, but only within select individuals and organizations. Churches and governments spring to mind. Church is voluntary. Government is not.

    The elimination of the involuntary institution that is government is anarchy, and it is the only ethically and morally consistent philosophy on which to construct the method of human interaction.

    Is this what you mean when you use the word "communism?"

  5. You've made so many interesting points..It's hard to know where to begin. I'm not sure I've taken a side yet in the debate you've sketched out, at least not at this point in the evolution of the blog. To some extent, "we're all socialists now" is meant to be a bit ironic, in part because I agree with some of your points above, namely that we're trending that way but are somehow also deeply divided on the essential elements of socialism as it manifested itself in official Soviet ideology. I'll try to address some of your other points in future posts....