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.