Posts Tagged ‘socialism’

…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.

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Ending the War on Sharing

February 17, 2009

Richard Stallman spoke on the issue of community and copyright law. After Kate Milberry asked if the practice of software development and sharing he’d been talking about can be applied in the wider world. Stallman replied that his whole talk has been about that very question. Stallman refused to make the links between his issue and larger liberatory movements. He is pushing one issue. There are other issues, but he will leave those to the interested parties.

Some ideas Stallman dropped – Don’t use their terms. Once you take on the terms of the status quo you reproduce dominant meaning. The terms themselves contain meaning that limits our freedoms. We need to develop a language of freedom. The concept of an alternative language.

Fighting the war on sharing. Sharing is anti-capitalist. Sharing is socialist. Sharing removes the price fetish of capitalist imaginary.

Vancouver, BC

(Here’s a liveblog of one of Stallman’s talks in Vancouver: humminbird604)

Another software related presentation: Jim Andrews spoke in the New Media Building. The talk is well blogged here. After hearing Stallman, Andrews was a disappointment. (Here’s my cut and pasted review of the presentation, originally from gmail chat)

me: The presentation wasn’t that interesting, in and of itself, but there were a number of moments when the philosophical deficiencies in the room became the interest.
social foundation of intelligence.

me: the fear of AI
is the fear of an asocial intelligence
the development of a psychopath
Capitalism does a very similar thing, when people say “makes sense”
what they mean sometimes is “it makes financial sense”
which is a bit asocial and as a result psychopathic
me: I asked the guy if the software he was developing was open source
he said it wasn’t for financial reasons
he wanted to be the only one… but if you’d have seen how derivative his software was…
I didn’t push it for fear of confrontation, telling an artist his work is derivative…
them’s fighting words