The next AOC?

This interview makes me nervous. It looks like elite liberals already have their hooks in Chris Smalls. He talks about about everything he’s done, and everything he’s doing. He talks about the “success” the organizing he’s done is having. He’s talking up letters he’s gotten from (worse than useless) senators like Bernie or Warren. He’s already done an interview with 60 Minutes.

I mean, what’s he supposed to do? He’s going to need money. But the liberals aren’t throwing money at him and buying him off that way. It doesn’t work like that. They’re flattering him and encouraging to see himself as an agent of change. He may end up in politics someday. But he’s young and can’t have any well-developed theory of social change.

He has no way to see how he’s being used. And plenty of reasons not to. He could end up being the next AOC. And if he realizes what’s happening (which my guess is he won’t), he’ll be unemployed and poor again.

Chris Smalls isn’t a bad guy, though he may ultimately become one. He’s a pawn in a game he doesn’t understand. The question is, how long will it take before Jimmy Dore understands it? My guess is a few years, or as soon as Smalls announces he’s running for Congress.

A concrete strategy for victory

No war can be won without an overarching strategy. So here’s one for the left:

Step 1: Acknowledge the existence of participatory economics and deal with its implications.

This is where the strategy fails, of course, because the left is never going to acknowledge the existence of pareconish theory. When I say, “The left is the overseers,” I mean it. Classism is as poorly understood in 2020 as racism and sexism were in 1820, and the left is deeply, deeply classist.

If we model the left as an alcoholic, then the left is the alcoholic that hits bottom, but never changes. We like to talk about alcoholics who hit bottom and then (finally) make the changes they need to turn their lives around. But more common are the alcoholics who hit bottom, yet the only change they make is grabbing a shovel.

Still, for purposes of presenting a strategy, let’s assume a can opener pretend that the left will actually ever change. The implications of pareconish theory are that everyone does their fair share of shit work, and that no one gets to just manage an operation from an air-conditioned office while other people are out in the hot sun doing the actual work of picking the cotton.

Parecon is built on the notions of circumstantial equity and remunerative equity. Those are fifty-dollar ways of saying that everyone gets paid the same (remunerative equity) and everyone has comparable work lives (circumstantial equity). The core of why the left hates parecon so much is because of its insistence on circumstantial equity.

The left doesn’t mind people being paid the same, but it hates the idea of it having to do menial tasks. Dealing honestly with the implications of participatory economics mean the left would have to reorganize itself along pareconish lines. Again, this will never happen, but I’m constructing a fantasy world here to demonstrate that a viable strategy forward — with concrete steps — actually exists.

Step 2: Pareconish organizations can easily merge to create larger, more powerful organizations.

If you’re in a war and vastly outmanned and outgunned, the last thing you should be doing is splintering your resources. Victory is literally impossible in such a situation. But this completely describes the extant left.

And under the current conditions, it essentially impossible for left-wing organizations to merge. Take two left-wing organizations, A and B. That they are presently viable organizations means they each have a revenue stream, and someone who controls that revenue stream.

Suppose these two organizations merge into A+B. Who’s the top dog? Who controls the money? In the real world, when organizations merge it’s generally one much bigger fish swallowing a much smaller one, or two comparably-sized large organizations where the decision makers write themselves huge checks with the money they save by firing a bunch of people.

But pareconish organizations, being truly horizontal, can merge much more seamlessly. Any workplace is just a set of tasks, with tasks bundled to create jobs. In the corporate-style workplaces that exist in capitalism and all forms of socialism, tasks are bundled according to the relative empowerment effects, with cushy and empowering tasks being jealously guarded by the managers who run the workplace.

In pareconish organizations, however, everyone works a fair job (or balanced job complex). There’s no division of labor to jealously guard, because of already-existing circumstantial equity across the workplace. For two pareconish organizations to join, all they need to do is throw the list of all the tasks in the new organization, A+B, back into a spreadsheet and re-divvy up the jobs.

Furthermore, pareconish organizations can easily respect the existing goals and cultures of the merging organizations. If organization A is fighting for workers’ rights and organization B is fighting for women’s rights, but A and B have corporate structures (which all left-wing organizations have in 2020), the new organization A+B (were it able to form at all) would end prioritizing one over the other (likely the one that produced the greatest revenue).

But because all workers in pareconish organizations have comparable power within the organization, such a hijacking would be much more difficult without essentially the entire organization being on board. This is not to say there would not be disagreements or conflicts in A+B — or indeed in any pareconish organization — just that there would not be a permanent managerial class of actors in the organization making the choices (essentially always in its own interests).

Pareconish organizations across the left could unite into smaller, larger, more powerful organizations (or even one very large and powerful organization), with greater resources at its disposal for the fights beginning at step 3.

Step 3: The newly-pareconish left becomes the “threat of a good example” that the capitalist class so fears, and it trumpets this fact.

Three of the most progressive programs in U.S. history are Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid. The ruling class didn’t allow these to become law because they liked them. Rather, they were faced with threats to the system that threatened the one thing they really do care about: control. So, in an effort to keep their control, they gave ground on the second thing they care most about, money.

But these systemic threats only existed because of the existence of the Soviet Union. Some people thought the Soviet system of a public-enterprise centrally-planned economy was “good” and others thought it was “bad” — but everyone agreed it was different. Not only was it different, it was (like Mt. Everest) there.

Today, no example exists of anything good, let alone different. The capitalist system of a private-enterprise market economy is the only game in town, and everyone “knows” it. How is the left supposed to inspire anyone when it can’t articulate a vision of something radically different from solidarity-destroying market economics and authoritarian central planning?

The new pareconish left can not only openly and proudly call for an end to wage slavery and the actual liberation of the working class, it can also show the working class exactly how such a system works in practice.

Workers are more concerned with wages, benefits, and working conditions than they are taking over their workplaces or overthrowing the capitalist system. But regardless of their concerns, they always the same very-justified fear of stepping out of line. Working people generally know very well how easily and quickly they can and will be crushed if they dare to raise their heads.

This is where a more powerful left steps in. Presently, when workers undertake any action for any reason, they get no external support and they are crushed. But a more powerful, pareconish left would have both the incentive and the means to step in and provide defense and support.

In short order, the pareconish left and workers could jointly form goals and strategies to eventually take over the entire economy and remake it along pareconish lines.

Step 4: None of this will ever happen, because the left is deeply classist and has zero interest in working-class liberation.

I’m not stupid. I’m not holding my breath for the left to ever actually acknowledge the existence of pareconish theory. However, notice in the above that I’ve basically said nothing about the ruling class. There’s a reason for that.

If you’re going to win something — anything — you must formulate a strategy that depends on what you do, and not on what anyone else does. The left (pareconish or otherwise) has zero control over anything done by the ruling class, corporations, the government, the media, the police, the military, or anyone else. To win, the left should be entirely inward focused. It should be focused on what it can control, and what it can control is its own choices and actions.

Think of all the time the left spends moaning and crying about how powerless it is, all the forces arrayed against it, how it always loses, and how things just always get worse. Quite honestly, pretty much the entire left is a bunch of excuse-making losers who are too comfortable in the bottle they’ve climbed into to realize they could actually climb out of it if they wanted to.

Stop being a bunch of whiny pussy crybabies, and just go take what you want. You hold all the cards. You have all the power in your hands right now.

Baby elephants are kept in place tied to a little rope. They grow up to be big elephants who could easily snap the rope like a piece of twine but don’t because they’ve become conditioned to think they’re helpless. Just move a little bit and snap the damn string.

To use a gentler metaphor, the magic’s not in the feather…

Stop whining, start winning (part 2).

Caitlin Johnstone writes:

People ask me “Well, what should we do? How do we fix this thing?” And of course my only possible answer is, “Do what I’m doing! Or your version of it.” Of course I’m doing the thing I think we should do to solve the problems of our species. Why would I be doing anything else?

Johnstone does excellent work. But what she does is what everyone else on the left does: They tell you what’s going on. They tell you about the problem.

That’s important work, and somebody has to do it. But talking about problems is all the left ever does. It never discusses solutions.

Can you imagine Bill Belichick spending the entire week before a game talking about what a great team the Rams are, what a great coach Sean McVay is, and what a great pass rusher Aaron Donald is?

If you’re going to be successful at anything, you must spend far more time thinking about solutions than problems. Yes, you need to understand the problem. But somewhere in the world are medical researchers who can tell you everything you ever wanted to know about Lou Gehrig’s disease — except how to fix it.

An understanding of the problem is not enough.

Winners focus on the things they can control. Spending any time thinking about what you can’t control is literally waste.

Belichick sizes up the opponent’s strengths and weaknesses. He looks at their tendencies, and watches a lot of film. But then he spends all his time figuring out what his team is going to do. He puts together a game plan, thinks of all possible adjustments he might need to implement in-game (always with an understanding that the circumstances of the actual game may force decisions on him he hadn’t been able to foresee), and spends his time having his team practice his game plan.

Belichick’s goal is to force the other team to react to what the Patriots are doing, and not the other way around. If you’re reacting, you’re losing. To win, you have to be the win who is setting the tempo, dictating the terms of the contest. You want to be the one who is imposing your will on your opponent, not the other way around.

The left spends all its time reacting, and having the establishment’s will imposed on it (the left). The left does this because it has no way to play offense. The left has no way to set the terms of the debate. The left has no way to mount an attack, because it spends no time thinking about any solutions.

Saying you’re for Medicare for all (for instance) is not a solution. It’s a wish. Think about it this way: You want Medicare for all. Fine. What’s your plan to get it?

The U.S. ruling class never wanted the population to have Social Security. But because of a threat to the system, they relented. They never wanted the population to have Medicare or Medicaid, but because of a threat to the system, they relented.

If the left is going to win Medicare for all, it has to threaten the capitalist system itself. But you can’t threaten the system by simply saying you hate capitalism. Elites don’t care about your feelings.

You also can’t threaten the system with any form of socialism. Every form of socialism (whether market or centrally-planned) is an economy in which the capitalists are gone and the managers now have the ultimate say in society.

The working class never sees any capitalists, but they answer to managers every day. As a result, workers hate managers far more than they hate any capitalists. Slogans like “the 99% versus the 1%” resonate on the left because the left is made up of managers. But they don’t resonate with the working class. And they never will.

If you truly want to win anything, you’re going to have to start by acknowledging the existence of participatory economics.

The left ignores and actually hates parecon because parecon has implications that the left doesn’t want to face. But parecon is something the left has complete control over. And parecon represents a massive threat to the the capitalist class because it also represents a massive threat to the managerial class. That distaste that virtually all managers have for parecon is precisely what gives it its power.

No power in the universe can prevent the left from acknowledging parecon’s existence, except the left itself. And the left has been doing just that for 30 years. But if the left and those within its orbit actually want to set the terms of the debate — actually want to impose their will on the capitalist class — parecon is literally the only way to do it.

The left will continue to lose until it acknowledges the existence of pareconish theory. Once it does, it will be surprised by how quickly it sees mountains move, and it will start to wonder why it took so long to get started.

I have a theory, and I’m giving you a testable prediction of my theory. But you’re going to have to look in the mirror first.

One of these things is not like the other.

The World Socialist Web Site‘s top dog David Walsh outdoes himself in his commitment to reach out to women:

There were no witnesses, Reade never contacted the police and the statute of limitations has long since run out.

There’s quite a bit of corroboration. Reade told several people at the time. I’d ask if, for all your brilliance and flawless theory, you understand anything about the psychology of rape victims. But you don’t, and you don’t care to.

Tellingly, the Biden-Reade issue dominated the American news media in recent days

A credible rape allegation is a mere issue?

In part, the promotion of the Reade accusations is a deliberate effort to divert attention from the social and economic calamity.

You’re so stupid. Katie Halper broke this story well over a month ago, and the liberal media have been burying it the entire time. They do not want to cover it, and are only doing it now because they have no choice.

However, it is a fact of political life in America that while the deaths of 65,000 people and the collapse of jobs and incomes have not shaken the Democrats, who are as callous and removed from the crisis as Donald Trump, a sex scandal is another matter.

Wait, did you just call a rape allegation a “sex scandal?” Yes, yes you did.

Reade’s allegations are treated seriously, not because of their intrinsic importance, but because of the social layers with whom they resonate, the upper middle class on which the Democrats rest and rely.

Okay, David Walsh is clearly a moron. And, if it wasn’t already obvious, sexist as hell. “Not because of their intrinsic importance?” So, in other words, rape isn’t important. I presume Reade should have just relaxed and enjoyed it?

However, having fashioned and animated the Frankenstein monster of a sexual harassment witch hunt, they now discover it is not so easy to make their creation go away.

Not “sexual harassment.” Rape. Just FYI.

Without providing the slightest evidence Reade is telling the truth, Valenti goes on to argue that “it is feminists’ responsibility to come to the aid of a woman who accuses a powerful man.

Oh for fuck’s sake, this is so offensive. Yes, there’s no evidence, Dave. You’re right. The economy is the base, everything else is superstructure and irrelevant. There was no sexism in the Soviet Union, and there wouldn’t be any sexism if people like you were in charge, because there is no such thing as sexism. Or rape.

God, you’re such a fucktard.

For the working class, the crisis of the Democratic Party over a sexual misconduct allegation under the present disastrous circumstances should be further proof that this is a big-business party and resolute enemy of their interests and needs.

Okay, let me explain this so your pea-size chauvinist brain can understand: Sexual misconduct is running around on your wife. Rape is a felony.

This is just so offensive. Tara Reade was raped by Joe Biden. But David Walsh’s world view is so fixated in Capital and the Communist Manifesto that any notion that not everything is about class can’t penetrate his neanderthal brain.

A clean historical break with the Democrats and the turn toward socialism is on the order of the day.

A socialism where rape and sex are the same thing, apparently.

The left is the overseers.

If capitalism is the virus, “solidarity” can’t be the cure. It’s not an apples-to-apples comparison.

Capitalism is way of organizing economic activity. Every society has an economy. An economy is producers making stuff, consumers using that stuff — and an allocation mechanism that mediates the transfer of stuff from producers to consumers.

Solidarity is not a way of organizing economic activity. It’s a value that says that I should care about you and you should care about me. It’s an admirable value, and any good economy should propel it rather than squash it. But it’s not an economic system.

You get no argument from me when you say capitalism is the virus. But if you’re going to be anti-capitalist — which I certainly am — then you have to get serious thinking about what you’re going to replace it with.

In particular, you have to think about allocation. Everyone on the left wants to overthrow capitalism. There’s no shortage of people on the left who will tell you how bad it is. For its replacement, they will talk in vague generalities about “socialism” or some variation on this theme.

But the question of allocation has to be confronted. Capitalism uses market allocation. Socialism uses either markets or central planning. In markets, prices are set competitively and solidarity is systematically destroyed. In central planning, the entire society becomes inexorably authoritarian; that is the logic of central planning.

Suppose I give you a magic wand, and you can create any kind of world you want with it. What kind of economy do you create? In your vision of how an anti-capitalist economy should function, how are resources allocated? That is, how does stuff made find its way from producers to consumers? You can’t be anti-capitalist without grappling with this question.

The reason the left refuses to grapple with this question is because it’s a deeply-classist, coordinator-class left. The left is not a working-class left. That’s why, 30 years after the introduction of the formal mathematical model of participatory economics, the left still ignores it.

In the same way, say, the New York Times acts like Herman and Chomsky’s propaganda model of the media doesn’t exist, so too does the left act like parecon doesn’t exist. The left will acknowledge the existence of participatory economics at the same time the media acknowledges Manufacturing Consent: never.

The only revolution the left is interested in is one in which it, the coordinator class, is in charge. The left wants to overthrow the capitalists, and install themselves as the new ruling class. I’m not saying they’re doing this consciously. They essentially never are. That it, they’re not self-aware or in control of their actions.

But the people on the left are the children of the coordinator class. They grew up at the ends of cul-de-sacs. They world view is inherently managerial. They’re not duplicitous curs who are cynically trying to manipulate the working class in order to get their way. They’re generally good people at heart.

But they think like coordinators, because they are coordinators. So their reflexive world view is one in which they have freed themselves from the yoke of capitalist-class rule. They are the overseers who know perfectly well how to run the plantation on their own, but still must answer to the plantation owner. Their ideal world is one in which the plantation owner is gone and they can manage the operation on their own, without having to answer to the big man in the big house. But they have absolutely no intention whatsoever of ever getting out into the fields under the hot sun and doing their fair share of picking the cotton.

Picking the cotton is working-class work. Smart, educated coordinators have a reflexive revulsion to the idea that this work should be shared equally. Again, this isn’t because they’re bad people — it’s because they grew up on cul-de-sacs, and it’s just how they see the world.

The left is a coordinator-class left. It’s not going to help the workers pick the cotton, ever. That’s why it won’t and can’t even acknowledge the existence of parecon. And that’s why it’s reduced to saying stupid bullshit like “capitalism is the virus, solidarity is the cure.”