Posts Tagged ‘masters of industry’

…to win the battle of democracy

March 17, 2009

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.

An Open Letter to My Dad

October 10, 2008


Reading Vaclav Havel’s The Power of the Powerless


In Praise of Lost Causes


Why I’m Voting Communist

The other morning on the radio I heard Stephen Harper giving the Conservative political line that “in these times of uncertainty you should vote for the only party with an economic plan,” the subtext, if it wasn’t directly stated before I started listening or after I turned the radio off, is the Conservative promise of certainty. This probably would have made me smile, that smile of sad understanding, as I turned off the radio, I mean on any other day, but this day I heard this knowing that you, my own father, might be voting for this certainty. This day I turned off the radio knowing that my dad had succumbed to the fatalistic thinking that threatens another term of inhumane government. I say fatalistic in the sense that life is always and can only ever be uncertain. Death is the only certainty and in this sense a wish for certainty is a death wish.

Faced with the mainstream political choices available (what you call the Fiberals and the Non Democratic Party) death is a reasonable alternative. Death may seem too strong a word, but the Conservative plans to step up our role in the military industrial complex abroad and remove aid to the most vulnerable here at home is a choice for actual death. And with this agenda softly mirrored by the only other viable voter choice, a strategic vote is a vote for the same, of course with a little less fear and resentment.

Luckily I’m currently reading Vaclav Havel’s Power of the Powerless. He saw that democracy as it’s practiced can do nothing to change the corporate agenda for a human agenda. But he shows an alternative. He refuses to give up hope.

“It would appear that the traditional parliamentary democracies can offer no fundamental opposition to the automatism of technological civilization and the industrial-consumer society, for they, too, are being dragged helplessly along by it. People are manipulated in ways that are infinitely more subtle and refined than the brutal methods used in the post-totalitarian societies. But this static complex of rigid, conceptually sloppy and politically pragmatic mass political parties run by professional apparatuses and releasing the citizen from all forms of concrete and personal responsibility; and those complex focuses of capital accumulation engaged in secret manipulations and expansion; the omnipresent dictatorship of consumption, production, advertising, commerce, consumer culture, and all that flood of information: all of it, so often analysed and described, can only with great difficulty be imagined as the source of humanity’s rediscovery of itself.”

What’s needed? What is to be done? It’s a simple, basic plan that Havel offers. We need to simply develop values like trust, openness, responsibility, solidarity, love. It’s a matter of renewing our relationships with other human beings. These values and relationships do not exist in the corporate system. There is a major contradiction in Harper’s aura of Christian values and his drive for war and withdrawal of support of Canada’s most vulnerable people. Jesus wept. Harper smirks. But there is no viable alternative to this corporate agenda in our system of government. This is why we need to rekindle hope by renewing our human relationships, sure I can vote communist as a joke, as a way of confirming that if you’re not in line with the system you’re outside the system. Values like trust, openness, responsibility, solidarity, love are outside the system as well.

The problem is not with the Liberals or the NDP, and voting Conservative will not fix anything. The problem today is with life itself. Are we living to serve the system, or is the system serving us? Havel writes,

“Every society, of course, requires some degree of organization. Yet if that organization is to serve people and not the other way around, then people will have to be liberated and space created so they may organize themselves in meaningful ways.”

“Thus defending the aims of life, defending humanity, is not only a more realistic approach, since it can begin right now and is potentially more popular because it concerns people’s everyday lives; at the same time (and perhaps precisely because of this) it is also an incomparably more consistent approach because it aims at the very essence of things.”

There’s more hope in not voting at all than in voting Conservative, because really things need to change. I’m voting communist because I like the idea of community councils, small structures and the development of human relationships. I have hope for a better, and of course, distant future, because I also have hope for my children, your grandchildren. A hope that they’ll be prepared to not only cope but thrive in the new world of difference, and have the strength to overcome the fear and resentment that’s fueling this Conservative vote. Do you really want your granddaughters growing up in a society that’s opposed to women’s liberation? Overcome your fear of freedom, and by that I mean the freedom of others as well as yourself to be who we will become and vote with hope.

Your son,


[from facebook notes]

Jodi Kessel Levesque at 1:33pm October 10

I agree with Rodger’s words.

There are ways to develop positive, loving, nurturing human relationships. There are ways for people to discover the true essence of their being and live a truly happy life, loving, forgiving, living in the moment, walking with God, if you wish. We must end the pursuit of personal happiness through the consumption of goods and services. This only leads to more misery and personal suffering.

One way to achieve a personal state of peace (I do believe we need to achieve personal peace and love before we can nurture this in our relationships) is Vipassana. It is a process of self discovery that transformed some of the worst criminals, in some of the worst jail systems in the world; namely India. I figure there are not many differences between criminals and politicians. A very fine line separates all of us really. We all have the potential to lie, steal, harm others with our thoughts, words or actions. Politicians wander around full of ego, with supposed agendas to serve. Not realizing they are just a bunch of I’s bumping into each other and this pursuit of power only harms the individual (and the group) in the end.

I propose that our politicians (like the criminals in India prior to entering civilization) should be required to take a Vipassana course, including a 10 day silent meditation, prior to joining a political party! Just my thoughts. Let’s lead with our hearts, reach for something bigger and treat all human life with love and respect. We can’t fight war with more war. There are countless individuals who have demonstrated the ‘Power of One’ creating great change on this planet through love and acceptance. What can we do? First step; be the change you want to see in the world.

Jessica Wadsworth at 2:05pm October 10

Thanks Rodger. And thanks Jodi. I guess the Levesque’s change the world as a family….. How’s that for family values Harper??

Maggie McLean at 9:35pm October 10

We are in the season of Thanksgiving.

I am thankful for family who have the freedom to talk politics and have choices in who leads our country.

I am thankful to not be under a Communist system of government who thinks that the people are too stupid to make decisions for themselves, and the wise all knowing Government will make ALL decisions for them.

I am thankful for a brother (Raymond) who loves me & is ready to help me anytime that I ask.

I am thankful not to fear death because I have the Faith in Jesus for eternal life.

I am thankful that God is no respector of persons, meaning that we are all created equal, man or woman, rich or poor.

I am thankful that I have found peace and freedom in obeying God laws, the first being: “Love the Lord thy God” and the second: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”

I thank the Lord for sending His Son to die for me so that I may have eternal life.

I am thankful that we can love each other despite out differences.

I am thankful that we don’t have walls between us, (like the one the Communists built in Berlin).

Deuteronomy 5:16 “Honor your father and your mother, as the LORD your God has commanded you, so that you may live long and that it may go well with you in the land the LORD your God is giving you.”

Renee Nantais at 2:50pm October 11

ok, voting communist, c’mon rodger you’re just trying to stir up the shit! and using havel that way…shameful!

why don’t you vote green?

Rodger Levesque at 6:45pm October 11

I would vote Green if it were possible to vote for all the parties that could represent me. I’d also vote NDP, Communist and why not, for the Marijuana Party as well. But we can only hand our responsibility over to one party, so I’m voting for a party, Communist, that would help develop small, local organizations, community councils that would try to make life better for everyone. So yep, stirring it up.And if by shameful, you mean that I’m using Havel’s essay, an essay critical of The Communists, to explain why I’m voting communist then you should read the essay. ( ) He is definitely proposing a form of communism. It’s a form very similar to deep participatory democracy, but Havel doesn’t give up the ideas of self-determination and complete liberation, that means the abolition of wage slavery, and that is communism. Can you smell it?

Raymond Levesque at 7:11pm October 11

It is said as you think so shall you be. A truth is a truth until you try to organize it, then it becomes a lie. Very often because the organization becomes more important than the truth that were attempting to learn. If removing aid to the most vulnerable here at home you are referring to the cut back of money to the arts then I am with him on that. With all that schooling, with grants and loans, paid for by us the taxpayer, that will never be paid back, because they can never support themselves after all that schooling and want to live on more gov. money to support their lives, yes I agree with him on that.

Raymond Levesque at 7:26pm October 11

Vaclav Havel’s Power to the Powerless, he saw that democracy as it is practiced today, can do nothing to change the corporate agenda. He is absolutely right because the corporations run the governments,they have the power and the money,not us. this tells me that you can elect Pavlov’s dog and nothing will change until these people with the university educations get into the main political parties and start making changes that are needed to bring the gov. back to the people. the problem with that is most of these people will get corrupted by the corporations along the way. Our gov. do not run Canada, the corporations do along with the G7, the W.T.O the F.T.O. and a few more that don’t come to mind at the moment.

Raymond Levesque at 8:00pm October 11

Voting, that is something they allow us to do to make us believe that we are in a democracy. We can develop all the values, like trust,( who can we really trust?) solidarity, love, ( who can we really love without being hurt or rejected by the ones you love). You are right the problem is not with the libs, ndp.or the conservative gov. But with the corporations that run them, that we the people allowed to happen. We the people cannot even elect the proper people to run our provinces or cities, let alone our country. The reason being that we are programed by the corporate agenda from kindergarten on to university, so we are programed to follow. That is why you will never see a real change in our gov. so vote for the one that will extort the least money from you and give you a little more to live on, but watch out what the feds give you back the province will take back, you know the one you forgot in all this. Canada as a whole does not oppose women’s liberation, and I as a person am not opposed to equal rights for both men and women, but by women’s liberation do you mean the killing of babies that they don’t want after a night of unprotected sex, and I am not talking about rape or incest, that is different. I as a person with four beautiful children,10 gorgeous grandchildren and one beautiful great grandchild am strongly opposed to. I believe that after an egg is fertilized we have a baby, and it disposal through abortion is nothing short of murder. Freedom? I have freedom, all the freedom that the system will allow me. If this were communism I could not write this letter. Love to all.

Rodger Levesque at 3:35pm October 12

No. The most vulnerable here at home are the homeless and the drug addicted. Debbie was just at a conference where Gabor Mate spoke. He’s a doctor working in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside where those most vulnerable collect. Mate found in his research that 100% of drug addicts have been abused. I mention this because no kid chooses to be abused, and that type of violent conditioning leads to self-destructive behaviour that no healthy person would freely choose. Haven’t these abused kids been punished enough? The Conservatives are pulling money/support from programs, health programs set up to help with the problem.And where is the money being diverted from health, education, culture going? Into the pockets of the working class? Maybe the little tax break promises sound good now but the coming higher costs of health and education, and increased military spending, which converts the taxes you do and will pay into violence, don’t sound all that appealing.

The Liberals will only more softly take us down this same violent/corporate path. The Greens, the NDP and the Communists are the parties that will stand up to the corporate system, for people, their health and well-being. Fighting corporations is a lost cause, sure, but what else can you do? Give in?

Rodger Levesque at 3:38pm October 12

Rodger Levesque at 3:39pm October 12

Rodger Levesque at 9:46pm October 13

Aunt Margaret, I wasn’t ignoring you these past few days. It’s just that your response was so overwhelming. At first I didn’t know what to do with it, but then I thought maybe a sentence by sentence approach would work.

“We are in the season of Thanksgiving.”

Yes and the season coincides with an election. So unfortunately there will be criticism. And also unfortunately the only time people seem to be able to stomach heavy political discussion is during an election so I launched a pretty massive criticism.

“I am thankful for family who have the freedom to talk politics and have choices in who leads our country.”

So let’s talk politics! I’m not happy with the choices I’ve got, and really if you think about it, I mean really think about it, there are a lot more possible choices than who will lead our country. What about how our country should be organized? Many of the First Nations would choose a number of chiefs prior to being forced under the dominion of Canada. After their colonization the different groups were allowed only a single representative. I mention this only to show that the choice you’re so thankful for isn’t really that free, it has been given to us. If you were really free to choose, I mean really free, what would that choice look like?

“I am thankful to not be under a Communist system of government who thinks that the people are too stupid to make decisions for themselves, and the wise all knowing Government will make ALL decisions for them.”

First, this is the system of government that Havel criticized. I’m not voting for a totalitarian regime, but a future organization of community councils practicing radical participatory democracy. This is the kind of communist organization that Havel proposed; truly liberated people making all the decisions for themselves. Secondly, what decisions are you making under this capitalist system of government? The Masters of Industry are free to make choices without concern for the affected communities. And we wage-slaves are forced to deal with those choices. If we lived in a truly democratic system, a system that was truly based on equality, major decisions like plant closures that devastate communities, would not be out of the hands of the affected communities, truly empowered workers in a truly democratic system would make very different choices than the ones being made outside the democratic system today under this capitalist system of government.

“I am thankful for a brother (Raymond) who loves me & is ready to help me anytime that I ask.”

That’s my dad. He’s always working for somebody, without any concern for payment. He loves working with and for people. He loves people. And this is why I wrote this note. He mentioned on Rodney’s wall that he was voting conservative, and it was a shock. How can somebody who’s always there to lend a helping hand vote for the party that’s not willing to help anything but industry. And you may say that we need industry, but it’s also true that industry needs us. And I’d also say that industry should be democratized. If our democratically elected government is more concerned with industry than people shouldn’t industry be run democratically?

“I am thankful not to fear death because I have the Faith in Jesus for eternal life.”

No comment.

“I am thankful that God is no respector of persons, meaning that we are all created equal, man or woman, rich or poor.”

Rich and poor are not equal. Seriously, do the math. (And how easy for a rich man to enter heaven?)

“I am thankful that I have found peace and freedom in obeying God laws, the first being: “Love the Lord thy God” and the second: “Love your neighbor as yourself.””

In a nod to Jodi, I’ll use a little Gandhi to deal with this. For anyone who wants to change the world, a world conditioned to obey, how do I even finished this sentence? You see the trouble? If everyone is doing what they are told by authority, how do you fight that authority? Gandhi used fasting as a weapon for change, but he was aware of its limitations. He said, “I must state that I cannot give up an opinion honestly held even if the whole world fasts against me. I might as well give up my belief in God because a body of atheists fasted against such belief.” That said, in a world at war, peace can only be found in freedom from reality. I need the freedom to change the world, that means doing things differently, get it? Change = Different. That means from time to time I can’t obey.

“I thank the Lord for sending His Son to die for me so that I may have eternal life.”

Wow. I mean, No Comment.

“I am thankful that we can love each other despite out differences.”

I like to think we can love each other for our differences.

“I am thankful that we don’t have walls between us, (like the one the Communists built in Berlin).”

What about the wall the Capitalists are building on the Mexico-US Border? Just saying… But on another topic, but still talking walls, I’d like to see everyone in Canada protected from the weather, by walls and a roof and doors that open and close freely.

“Deuteronomy 5:16 “Honor your father and your mother, as the LORD your God has commanded you, so that you may live long and that it may go well with you in the land the LORD your God is giving you.””

Here we go again with the “do as you’re told” line. I don’t want what I’m being given, and I can’t believe that anyone living in Windsor, or aware of what’s been happening in Windsor would want what they’re being given. There are other ways.

Rodger Levesque at 11:39pm October 13

If you think we’re really free in Canada to know what is going on in our government, just check this out.