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.