…to win the battle of democracy

Back when it seemed a possibility that a coalition government would take over parliament, my dad and I started a short conversation about the meaning of our vote. He was angry that the party he’d helped vote into a minority government was about to be reduced to the opposition. “What about my vote?” he asked. I asked him the same question. I was joking. I’d voted for the communist party, so my ‘voice’ was useless. Really, voting has little more use to me than backing a hockey team. But my father asked, “no one wanted your party, why is that?” Yes. Why is it people are not voting communist? I know it wasn’t a real question, I mean, I know he wasn’t looking for a real exploration of the possible reasons why. But I saw it as a baited hook, and bit. I started writing an essay, but it’s way too long, meandering and not really much of a conversation starter.

Before this conversation started, just before the last election, I had written an open letter to my father explaining the reasons why I was voting communist. It wasn’t very persuasive. I sent the letter to every member of my family on facebook, and I am pretty sure it had no effect whatsoever on the votes my family cast. One of my cousins accused me of just fooling around. There’s something to this. Communication needs a hook. Talking about communism is talking about old news, an already decided subject, there’s nothing to connect the talk to. There’s no reason to talk about it. Bringing it up now has a bit of lunacy to it. My cousin knows I’m not crazy, so if I’m talking about communism, I must just be fooling around. Today there is a hook. The news of 1200 jobs lost in Windsor (again this year), gives us a reason to talk about capitalism (masters of industry and wage slaves), the violence of profits before people, and the socialist idea of worker control.

I’ve been thinking and reading about and writing down some of the reasons people aren’t voting communist, but I’ve also been aware of the madness associated with talking such nonsense. There are differences between capitalist values and communist values that require a complex conversation, rethinking how we live on the level of the day-to-day. It requires becoming aware of our condition. I’ve asked my network of friends and family into this conversation, so I should start with something.

Let’s talk about the word ‘communism’…

From the response to my last open letter, it’s clear that ‘communism’ is understood as a dirty word. I just recently read an article about ‘socialism’ being used as a slur. After you accept the fact that corporations produce our culture and meaning, it makes perfect sense that these powers would try to poison the words that will launch a revolution; democratize production; replace capitalist controlled corporate power with worker controlled corporate power. Revolutionaries understand ‘communism’ and ‘socialism’ to mean ‘the creation of something which does not yet exist.’  The words signify new relationships to each other, where radical democratic associations of workers motivated by human development take control of production. The American and French Revolutions replaced monarchy with hierarchy. The coming revolution will replace hierarchy with anarchy. The coming revolution will be the end of profit-for-the-few and representation-by-the-few. The revolution will bring new values of human (species) development and radical democracy.

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4 Responses to “…to win the battle of democracy”

  1. Alejandro "El Guapo" Storino Says:

    Hey Rodger: It’s happening in Buenos Aires and locally it’s about to take off in the hardest areas of the recession. Michigan is going to lead the way in this new culture, that will hopefully infect the rest of North America in a culturally tribal sort of way. Science and art will reign in a new way of living ‘off of the grid’ as much as possible. It will focus on a new way of viewing the interconnectedness of our lives and world in a system of productive living including:
    -Culture
    -Economics
    -Politics
    -Technology
    -Environment

    Here is an example of the advantage Detroit has since it has hit absolute rock bottom: http://www.boingboing.net/2009/03/17/artists-buying-cheap.html

  2. Alejandro "El Guapo" Storino Says:

    ‘We’re re-tribalizing. Involuntarily, we’re getting rid of individualism. We’re in a process of making a tribe, for just as books and their private point of view are being replaced by the new media, so the concepts that underlie our actions or social lives are changing. We are no longer so concerned with self definition, with defining our own individual way. We’re more concerned with what the group knows, of feeling as it does, of acting with it, not apart from it’. (Marshall McLuhan, Growing up at the McLuhans’).

  3. rodgerlevesque Says:

    Hey Alex! Thanks for joining in.

    There’s definitely something happening (that doesn’t say much). I don’t want to make any predictions about how deep the looming economic crisis will sink. I say looming, because here in Vancouver, everything seems to be business as usual. We can’t use Windsor as an omen either. They’ve been losing a thousand auto jobs a year for the past five years, so although it’s accumulating there, this is pretty much business as usual. And Detroit, things haven’t been so good there since the 50s. But something has surfaced in the American housing/finance crisis. The profiteers have gone too far and revealed themselves. That old saying that the Devil’s greatest trick was convincing the world he didn’t exist, totally applies here. The profiteers exist, and now we know it.

    Think about it. The major complaint from Conservative supporters is taxation, but what percentage of what we earn goes into the pockets of the rich as profit? If you’re really interested in keeping more money in your pocket, who’s your greatest adversary? Taxes or Profit? How much of your mortgage payment goes to interest charges?

    We can use this housing/finance crisis to strip away some of our social illusions. “We are at last compelled to face with sober senses our real conditions of life, and our relations with our kind.” (That sentence is over a hundred years old.) That the sentence is over a hundred years old should be sobering as well.

    When you say “hopefully infect” when talking about the recent happenings, and then when you quote the “involuntary” process of McLuhanesque change, (I don’t know how to finish this sentence)… What I want to say is that we need to purposefully work to change the consciousness of our friends and family and ourselves. We need to participate in our own self-change, and by that I only mean lose our illusions, That means a voluntary will to understand our world, the conditions of our existence and our relationships with others. In this sense ‘hope’ is not something we impose on others, but the inspired quality of our own imagination.

  4. Alejandro "El Guapo" Storino Says:

    Nice one Rodg:

    “Hopefully infect” and “involuntary” mean that through our networks we can “virally” pass along versions of ‘truths’ to one another and use them to create a much richer reality that comes from shared understandings through first hand experiences.

    It is very difficult to walk in to the future not knowing what is coming next, I’m speaking as someone who has lived with a chronic illness since the age of ten. Let’s face it, no one knows what the future holds. There is no known cure for Juvenile Diabetes. There is no incentive for corporations to find a cure when it would halt the production and sale of medicines and monitoring supplies that people with the condition will need to survive if they aren’t cured… And the GDP rises! There is a disconnect. Greed, and capitalism walk hand in hand while the people who aren’t owners, or managers of the system feel the squeeze, yet again.

    I think that a sweet democracy that doesn’t want to be known as socialist might start by calling itself ‘line item taxationists’. We wouldn’t even need a government if this could be put into place, just a system that would be under constant scrutiny and revolution. I’m sure that if taxpayers could choose where their money went, we would see sustained surges in both health and education, and see governmental items like defense, and the propping up of failing industries down.

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