Category Archives: Strategy

The system is not broken. It is working perfectly.

You see this sort of thing all the time once you get anywhere in the vicinity of the left, and it drives me nuts:

The Fed has used the coronavirus crisis to double down on a failed strategy of supporting financial markets while the real economy declines.

Were the atomic bombs that were dropped on Japan failures or successes? They were designed to go boom and kill a lot of people. They went boom and killed a lot of people. That makes them stupendous successes. The fact that they were designed to do something horrible, and that they did in fact do something horrible, is irrelevant to assessing them as successes or failures.

Our financial system is designed to further empower and enrich the already powerful and rich. And it’s doing that quite well. That makes it a spectacular success. The fact that millions, or hundreds of millions, or even billions of people are suffering tremendously as a result is irrelevant to assessing the success or failure of our economic system. It’s doing what it’s designed to do.

The smart, educated coordinator class the owns, operates, funds, consumes, and produces the content for everything anywhere even remotely associated with the left is virtually always saying some variation of, “The system is broken.” Despite their education and intelligence, they are essentially uniformly incapable of understanding the logic that the atomic bombs were successes, not failures.

Why is that? It is because virtually the entire left are all latent socialists.

What I mean is this: As I have written previously, socialism is the liberating theory of the coordinator class. And the left, as I noted above, is a thoroughly coordinator-class left.

I’m not saying the left is intentionally or even consciously socialist. In most cases, it actually isn’t. But because it’s a coordinator-class left, it makes coordinator-class choices. It implements coordinator-class values. It essentially never does any of this consciously, but consciousness in this case is irrelevant.

Because it’s steeped in coordinator-class logic, what it really wants, deep down and largely unconsciously, is the liberation of the coordinator class.

Saying the system is broken is a way of saying, “Put us in charge and we’ll fix things.” The left is always broadcasting a signal to the working class that says, “Help us overthrow the capitalists, and we’ll make everything right.”

The coordinator-class left does this because the coordinators, by themselves, lack the power to overthrow the capitalists. They need working-class support in order to do it. But they have no intention of actually liberating the working class, because to them, that’s terrifying anarchy.

To use the analogy of chattel slavery: The coordinator-class left is the overseers, capitalists are the plantation owner, and the working class is the field slaves. The overseers (the left) know perfectly well how to run the plantation, but because they don’t own it, they have to do what the plantation owner (the capitalists) tells them.

They resent the plantation owner because he has the ultimate say. They actually run the operation while the plantation owner sits in his mansion and does the antebellum equivalent of hookers and blow, and this pisses them off.

But without the help of the field slaves (the working class), the overseers lack the power to take the operation away from the plantation owner. So they’re constantly telling the field slaves that the operation is broken, but it would work so much better if the field slaves would just help the overseers oust the lazy and parasitic plantation owner.

And of course the plantation owner is lazy and parasitic. But what the overseers never ever tell the field slaves is, “Help us overthrow the plantation owner, and we’ll join you in the fields doing our fair share of picking the cotton.”

Because the overseers have no intention of ever getting out under the hot sun and doing their fair share of picking the cotton.

So too with the coordinator-class left. It has absolutely no intention whatsoever of ever doing its fair share of the shit work. That’s for the working class. Their are many rationalizations the left uses to justify this position, but they are beyond the scope of this essay.1

How does this flow from the logic of saying the atomic bombs were failures and not successes? That is, how does this flow from the logic of saying the system is broken? Because if you say the system is a success, then there’s an obvious next question: “Okay, if the present system is doing what it’s designed to do and therefore a success, what kind of system should we have? What should a system be designed to do?”

And therein lies the rub. What the coordinator-class left wants deep down (and again, largely unconsciously), is some form of socialism. It doesn’t matter to the left if it’s centrally-planned socialism (à la the former Soviet Union) or market socialism (à la the former Yugoslavia). All that matters is that it’s socialism and not capitalism — all the matters to the left is that the capitalists have been overthrown and the coordinators are now in charge.

This explains the absolute invisibility of participatory economics on the left for the past 30 years. In a participatory economy, the overseers would have to do their fair share of picking the cotton.

I’ve said this before, and I’ll say it again: The human race will literally go extinct before the left even acknowledges the existence of participatory economics, much less implements it. The left likes to bleat eloquent about the existentialism of things like global warming or the need for radical social change. But the left doesn’t believe any of it.

When an alcoholic truly hits bottom and is not completely bereft of self-awareness, he leaves no stone unturned in his quest for sobriety and to fix all the things in his life that he has so royally screwed up.

The left is not anywhere close to this point, though. Why would it be? The left is basically a collection of small businesses. As long as money is coming in, there’s no existential threat. And once the money stops, there’s no business, so that that now-defunct left outfit stops broadcasting. It has passed the event horizon into the black hole, so whatever it might want to broadcast now is irrelevant.

I’m not saying the left is a bunch of money grubbers. Actually, the overwhelming majority of people on the left are decent, honest, and sincere people. They really do want to help. If they really were money grubbers, they’d have studied business and finance in college instead of English and philosophy.

But they are still coordinators. Their fathers were coordinators. To borrow from Jimmy Dore, they grew up on cul-de-sacs. Coordinatorism is what’s in their bone marrow.

I have very low hopes for the future of civilization. In theory, all this is fixable. But in reality, alcoholics invariably have to hit bottom before they can change — and even then most don’t, because they lack the requisite self-awareness.

I don’t see the left changing. I see civilization hitting bottom (not anytime soon, but eventually), and rule by strongmen springing from the ashes. Not parecon or even socialism will spring from the ashes; chaos favors dictatorship.

But as I write this, it is not too late. The ship could still be turned around before plunging over the falls. It won’t be, but it could be.

It will not and can not happen, though, without — at minimum — an acknowledgment by the left of the existence of participatory economics.

No solution but participatory economics.

I love Krystal Ball. She rightly derides Trump’s “phony populism” and points out that without the efforts of the working class — who it’s no exaggeration to say are risking their lives — the entire economy would stop.

But at the end of the day, this is irrelevant. I’m not saying she doesn’t know this, but it needs to be pointed out. Workers will never have anything in this country until they organize, shut down the economy, and demand it.

But there are two problems here. One is that it’s impossible to win anything without a plan. Saying you’re for Medicare for all (for example) is not a solution — it’s a fantasy.

Former NFL quarterback Trent Dilfer once said, “Everybody wants it. What’s your plan to go get it?” He wasn’t talking about Medicare for all, but his point is correct.

If you’re a group of workers and you want your company to give you PPE (personal protective equipment) or hazard pay that you’re not getting, well, what’s your plan to make them give it to you?

That leads to the second problem, which is that workers won’t even stick together in the good times. So good luck getting them to stick together in the bad times.

I worked as a nurse aide in the early 2000s (long before the financial crisis of 2008), and I tried to organize the facility. It went nowhere.

In the good times, people don’t perceive they need to organize, and they can’t accept the costs of risking what they have. This is understandable of course. But when things get tough, people really can’t accept the costs of risking what they have.

Many commenters seem to think that the Greater Depression we are entering is going to lead to “progressive” social change like Medicare for all. They are wrong.

What the Greater Depression is going to lead to is hard fascism. People think the Great Depression of the 30s led to FDR’s New Deal, but that’s only partly true. It was this, plus the existence of the Soviet Union as an alternative that led to systemic threats that forced elites to act.

That’s not to say the Soviet Union (especially Stalin’s Soviet Union) was a good place. It wasn’t. But it was different, and therefore served as the “threat of a good example.

Today, there is no good (or different) example that elites are threatened by. People may talk about “socialism,” but either they’re talking about socialism in poorly defined terms (more often), or they’re talking about Soviet-style socialism that was highly authoritarian (less often) that is not going to inspire anyone in the U.S. to fight for it.

Without the threat of a good example, the Greater Depression can’t lead anywhere but hard fascism. Trump will probably win reelection, after which there will be a Democrat in the White House. But after that Democrat there will be huge blowback, and the next Republican president is going to make Adolf Hitler look like a choir boy.1

But this time, there will no external good example for activists to point to like there was in the 30s. This time, the left is going to have to create that good example all on its own.

The only example that can or will qualify is participatory economics. If the left really wants to avoid hard fascism in the United States, it’s going to have get serious not just about acknowledging its own class privileges (which it essentially doesn’t do at all), to actually addressing its own class privileges with new, pareconish organizational structures.

Honestly, I don’t see this happening at all. The left avoids even acknowledging the existence of parecon like the plague. Actually implementing it would make the deeply coordinator-class left apoplectic.

However, if you want a “plan to go get it,” I’ve just given it to you. And my plan is the lowest of low-hanging fruit: There is literally no power on earth — not any corporation, not the media, not the U.S. government — no one — that can stop the left from doing this.

Only the left can stop the left. This ball is completely in the left’s court. This power is completely in the left’s hands. And the barest exercise of this power would put the fear of Jesus Christ into elites.

I say this because the only thing that elites really and truly care about is control. Yes, they want their money. But in times of mass social upheaval, elites are always willing to temporarily part with some of their money so they can keep all the control.

Parecon would be a grave threat to their control, and one that would also inspire workers, because parecon truly is a necessary and sufficient condition for the liberation of the working class.

However, parecon would also rob the coordinator class of their class privileges. And since the left is a thoroughly coordinator-class left, parecon is a non-starter on radical left websites and YouTube shows.

Hence, my hard fascism prediction. But my theory is sound. And if the left considered the threats we presently face to be truly existential (and didn’t just pay lip service to them being existential), they’d at least be talking about parecon sooner rather than later.

Or before it’s too late.

You need a new party like you need another hole in your head.

Jimmy Dore is reporting a third party is forming in the United States. Another one? How many do you need?

Forming yet another party is a waste of time and just further splintering of resources by the left.

Instead of forming another party, all the parties that presently exist anywhere in the vicinity of the left should unite into one party. Now, I know this isn’t going to happen in a million years, but if the left were a pareconish left — as I have long argued it should be — it would be easy.

All the existing political parties — whether left or right — are top-down organizations with a typical corporate structure. So none of them can unite with any of the others, because who would be the boss? Who would control the money? It would be a never-ending fight.

But pareconish organizations could easily coalesce. Since everyone in a pareconish organization would be working a balanced job complex and be remunerated only for effort, if two pareconish structures merged into one, you’d just re-divvy up the tasks into balanced jobs. There’d be no fight over power because pareconish organizations are truly horizontal.

Again, I know this is never going to happen. The human race will literally go extinct before the extant left will even acknowledge the existence of participatory economics, much less implement it. But in theory, it’s easy and eminently doable.

But forming a 58th party — excuse me, third party — is an exercise that will go nowhere. There’s no reason theoretically to think it will work, and nothing in practice suggests my theory is anything other than correct.

Parecon as Winning Strategy

Bernie has dropped out.  Soon he will be campaigning for Biden.  It’s easy to say Bernie should have been more aggressive with Biden, and while in a vacuum I don’t disagree, the reality is that if this is who Bernie was, no one would have ever heard of him.  He certainly would have never made it to the U.S. Senate.

Independent thinkers are generally filtered out before they can make it to positions of power:

Most people are not liars. They can’t tolerate too much cognitive dissidence. I don’t want to deny that there are outright liars, just brazen propagandists. You can find them in journalism and in the academic professions as well. But I don’t think that’s the norm. The norm is obedience, adoption of uncritical attitudes, taking the easy path of self-deception. I think there’s also a selective process in the academic professions and journalism. That is, people who are independent minded and cannot be trusted to be obedient don’t make it, by and large. [emphasis added] They’re often filtered out along the way.

Here, Chomsky is talking about journalists and academics, but the point generalizes.  You can be a mouthy right winger and rise to levels of great power.  But mouthy lefties are rendered invisible — if they’re not unemployed and sleeping under bridges.

Many on the left are presently confused and bordering on despair.  They don’t know where the left goes from here.  I have long argued the left should become a threatening good example by remaking itself into a pareconish left.  That would, however, require the almost-entirely-coordinator-class left to honestly assess its class privileges in meaningful ways — something that it has been loath to do for at least 30 years.

Einstein said, “We can not solve our problems with the same level of thinking that created them.”  I argue for parecon as winning strategy because not only is the current strategy of everyone on the left running their own successful small businesses and hoping that will magically translate into social change not working, frankly it’s the obvious next stage in thinking that needs to occur before anything will be won in the Western world.

The alternative is probably hard fascism.