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.”

“Always with you what cannot be done.”

Dear Trotskyists, what did Katie Halper ever do to you?

The Times and the Post failed to report Reade’s allegations for weeks after the story was broken by Sanders supporter Katie Halper on her podcast in March.

Why describe Halper as a “Sanders supporter?” How is that even remotely relevant to her interview of Tara Reade?

The Trotskyists have already felt their identities threatened by Sanders — which is odd, because Sanders is (to quote Jimmy Dore) a cartoon. The only time Sanders ever exhibits any spine is when he throws supports like Tulsi Gabbard, Zephyr Teachout, and Matt Orfalea under the bus. He’s sort of like Obama in that regard — feckless against the right, but a complete stud when crushing people on his left.

But the World Socialist Web Site can’t let it go. I don’t mind them hating Bernie — that’s easy. Think of all the people who are poor who contributed a few dollars here or there to Sanders in 2016 and 2020. They were hoping for Medicare for all, and instead got emails exhorting them to donate to the DNC and support Joe Biden.

Taking money from poor people and then screwing them with it is what TV preachers do. It’s unforgivable.

But their constant need to shoehorn anti-Bernie sentiment into seemingly every fifth sentence on their otherwise generally good website is just incredibly weak tea. Trotskyists: Bernie’s no threat to you. Stop acting like he is.

What it indicates is that they have no self-awareness, and no plan to actually win anything. They’re afraid someone like Bernie might come along and actually win something, and then where would the Trotskyists be? Who would care about their socialism then? If a self-described “democratic socialist” were to win something without following the officially-approved Marxist dogma, the Trotskyists are afraid they’d be out of work.

In fairness to the World Socialist Web Site — which really is a good site — no self-awareness and no plan describes the entire left, not just them. With the possible exception of Jimmy Dore, everyone anywhere in the vicinity of the left just engages in constant nonstop whining about how powerless they are.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: The left is in complete control of its destiny. The only thing preventing the left from winning is the left. If the left ever actually gets sick of losing and decides it’s ready for a change, no power in the world can stop it from winning.

First, though, it has to acknowledge the existence of participatory economics. Until that happens, the left is going to lose forever.

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.

David Dayen and Barack Obama: Separated at birth?

David Dayen is not who people think he is. I remember him when he wrote for Jane Hamsher’s now-defunct FireDogLake website.

Dayen would write articles about the bad job Obama appointees were doing, but he would never criticize Obama, who literally had the power to fire them whenever he wanted. If the appointees were doing a bad job, that was on Obama.

I used to point this out to Dayen regularly in the comments sections to his articles. Finally, one day he snapped and said something back to me. I don’t remember what, and it really doesn’t matter.

Dayen will never ever criticize powerful Democrats. But he’s such a talented writer that he’s been very successful at convincing people he’s some sort of oppositional force. He’s kind of like the Obama of journalists.