—- Reprinted From “The Socialist”
The fight of the left cannot be in the fight for production and it cannot be the fight for violent revolution. The fight of the left must be the one for the freedom of the people.
Socialism to many has simply come to mean the people owning the means of production. ‘Means of production’ is people owning the work that they do, but that is not the goal of socialism. The goal of socialism is cooperation and the elimination of socioeconomic classes and and the elimination of oppression.
Production alone will not free people nor will it end oppression. Production run on the backs of those who are exploited will never lead to freedom. Production from the perspective that food, shelter, and clothes is the end goal of what humans need, will not free people. The labor market in the United States is run in the best cases on exploited labor and in the worst cases on enslaved labor. The exploited and the enslaved cannot negotiate. Begging for your life is not negotiating, that is staying alive. The worker is no longer negotiating for quality of life –they are negotiating for life itself, so they do not die.
And what about those who are unemployed and unemployable, do they not also deserve freedom?
Work in the United States will never free people. The left has never been organized enough to seize the means of production, because we are too tired to organize, because we are working.
The best universal movement that we the left currently has going for the public is the 15 dollars an hour movement. 15 dollars an hour in New York and California places where this movement has had the most traction, even at 40 hour a week, cannot get you easy access to housing, healthcare, food, education, and leisure. Free people have easy access to housing, healthcare, food, education, and leisure. The vast majority of labor have at the most struggling access to two out of five of those items.
Regardless of what fascist right wing politicians exclaim, free time is important. Leisure is a necessity for biological beings.
Scientific American Ferris Jabr states in reviewing Mary Helen Immordino-Yang’s study Rest Is Not Idleness, “Downtime is an opportunity for the brain to make sense of what it has recently learned, to surface fundamental unresolved tensions in our lives and to swivel its powers of reflection away from the external world toward itself.”
The left cannot be run on the puritanical idea of sadistic suffering. The right is run on suffering, not because it is moral or believes in God, but because it is a very effective way of keeping people from asking for anything beyond not being killed. Some parts of the left in its misguided over emphasis on labor has becoming dangerously right wingy sadistic in its goal for the US American public. No one wants to work 40 hours a week and no one should have to for less than $45 dollars an hour, telling people to work inhuman hours for a negotiated slightly higher rate than slavery and fighting for people to have the right to sleep on a park bench is setting the bar dangerously low for the people and is training the people to accept a moderate amount of oppression. This half-hearted and incompetent fight for the means of production supports exploitation and enslavement.
Production alone isn’t going to free people.
Anarchism to some means the destruction of this system by whatever tool that can destroy it, to some people the tool they would like to use is the tool of violence. Violence and destruction are not the goals of anarchism, like socialism the goal of anarchism is cooperation and the elimination of socioeconomic class and the elimination of oppression.
Violence will not free people. Violence will not lead to the freedom of the poorest of the poor in the United States and it will lead to dead people in the middle classes. Violence will do nothing, but lead to more dead people, more imprisoned people, more oppression, and more power for the wealthy.
There is a portion of the left that feels that this system needs to be destroyed, because it cannot be reformed. They believe that this system is working as it is supposed to be working and they are correct. This system is working exactly as it is supposed to.
This system is very efficient at oppressing, exploiting, and killing people. This system is designed to kill you immediately if you are violent. This system is designed to crush immediately any element that is violent against the state. Your one gun and facebook page isn’t going to not make that happen.
There is also, as Chomsky stated, the saber-tooth tiger of capitalism that is waiting outside the wall of this well oiled machine of oppression.
The public in its current state are defenseless against capitalism, because the public is not organized and the public generally has no idea that it is under attack.
The examples of violence that are always used as the case of successfully freeing people through violence have never used as an example a left that has been as unorganized and fractured as the left that exists in the current United States. In 2018 the left is not ready. The people are ready, but the people cannot fight because they are in chains, do not speak the same language as their neighbor, and do not acknowledge a person who speaks a different language as them as a neighbor.
The left could not win in a violent revolution and only an agent provocateur would push towards any violent revolution at this time. In order to win a revolution that involves violence that revolution would need to start with free people. The result of a revolution with enslaved people will be more oppression.
Let us apply chaos theory to what would happen in a violent revolution today in the US in its current state. Chaos theory states that you can predict the next organized state by looking at the power next to the unorganized state. A revolution now, with the left in its completely unorganized state and the right in its well organized state will lead to an even more oppressive situation for the people. It will lead to an even greater class divide. A revolution today will end with people being swooped up by a right wing private security force and oppressed by an even more right wing government funded by capitalism. A revolution of the enslaved and exploited United States public would be just the kind of disorganization that the right wing forces need to clamp down on even more on people.
Remember the US in its current state is violent and efficient in oppressing people by imprisoning, torturing, and killing people. Any hand to hand combat in the current day United States will lead to the left and the people losing.
The order in which we will obtain freedom:
1. Recognize people are not free.
2. Free people.
That has to be the order.
We cannot make a new world until we free ourselves from the chains of this one.
We cannot build a free world until we understand what freedom is and the job for the left right now is to show the public not only what freedom is, but what it is not. The bare minimum is not freedom. Oppression is not freedom. Suffering is not freedom. Barely making it, is not freedom. Freedom is the right to be happy, the right to live, the right to be creative, the right to be comfortable, and the right to educate yourself as you choose to.
L@rk Lo has presented at Left Forum NY, Occidental College, Anarchist Book Fair LA, MOCA, Montclair State, LACMA, Ruskin Art Club, and UCLA. Her collection of satirical poetry on capitalism, Queen of Inglewood, was released on Word Palace Press in 2017. She can also be found doing interviews on Black Kids In Outer Space.