Parecon: A necessary condition for the elimination of sexism and racism

The tagline I chose for this site is, “a necesssary and sufficient condition for the liberation of the working class.” By this I mean that, under parecon, workers are truly liberated (sufficiency), and without it, they can never be (necessity).

I say this because if an economy is not a parecon, then it’s going to either be capitalism or some form of socialism (market or centrally-planned). Any of these options inexorably generate heirarchy — authoritarianism is unavoidable in any kind of capitalist or socialist economy. And in any authoritarian society, there are going to be class divisions, with workers at the bottom, managers above them, and owners above managers if the economy is a private-enterprise economy, with managers the ruling class otherwise.

But what about racism and sexism? What would the effect of parecon be on these?

In any authoritarian system, men are going to outrank women. There’s no way to have a heirarchical society that is bereft of sexism. So if one wants to eliminate sexism, one must eliminate hierarchy. This makes parecon a necessary condition for the liberation of women.

Is it also sufficient? No. There’s nothing about the fundamental logic of the economy that means that it, by itself, can eliminate sex-based discrimination and prejudice. But what parecon can do is create space for a world where sexism can be eliminated by removing an authoritarian obstacle. In short, parecon is a necessary, but not sufficient condition for the elimination of sexism. The same argument applies to racism.

Could the refusal of actors in a parecon to meaningfully address sexism and racism lead to a parecon itself being re-overthrown by the reactionary forces of capitalism or socialism? In theory, maybe. But in practice, I doubt seriously this would be an issue.

The key point here, though, is that if you want to live in a world where sexism and racism no longer exist, you must take up the implications of pareconish theory, beginning with what I believe is the core question: In a good society, will everyone do their fair share of shit work?

If you cannot or will not grapple with this question, you can never and will never be able to meaningfully address sexism or racism.

Fascism: Making the political corporate

Mussolini said that fascism was the merger of state and corporate power. But this isn’t totally accurate. What fascism really is is the imposition of the corporate onto the state.

Corporations, as Noam Chomsky pointed out before he became a shitlib, are perfect models of tyranny — perfect totalitarian institutions. In them, power flows top-down and responsibility flows bottom-up. When the C-suite executives screw up, it’s the janitor who loses his job.

Chris Hedges says that, under fascism, truth and lies become the same thing. He and others can notice this happening in the political sphere. But it’s always been this way in any workplace. Hedges, whom I love, never has noticed this because he’s never been a corporate drone. He’s always been more privileged than that.

In fact, everyone you’ve ever heard of on the left has never been a corporate drone. They’ve all been more privileged than that, and if they were once drones, if they’re now mucky-mucks on the left, then they’re people whose drone days are long behind them.

This includes everyone on the left, even people that I love, respect, and think do great work. None of them have day jobs. They all own and run their own businesses. That doesn’t mean they’re raking in the dough. In most cases, they’re probably making less money than I am, and I am in fact a corporate drone.

But when you’re not a corporate drone, you can’t see the ongoing propaganda internal to all workplaces that all workers are subjected to on a daily basis, because you’re not there to experience it yourself.

I’ll give you one example. In a job I once had, one of the employees was fired. At a meeting a few weeks or months later, his name was brought up by a manager for some unrelated reason. The manager described him as the employee who left. She didn’t say, “He was fired.” She said, “He left.”

Well, this is technically accurate. But it’s also a lie. He didn’t leave. He was shown the door. But this level of honesty can’t be permitted in any authoritarian institution. Incidentally, this manager was not being intentionally obfuscatory. In her mind, that employee really had left. In her mind, she wasn’t hiding anything. She was completely calm and rational when she said, “He left.” The actual truth of what happened wasn’t actually in her mind.1

As U.S. power declines and the U.S. ruling class seeks to maintain control, they naturally turn to more authoritarian measures. They naturally seek to make the political sphere operate more like the economic sphere — that is, they naturally seek to impose corporate authoritarianism on the larger society.

To a wage slave, though, not much changes. You’re already surveilled in your workplace. You already have propaganda shaped for you. You’re already rigorously controlled, with severe consequences for disobedience. I don’t think the left can win a fight against fascism without asking questions about the basic structure of workplaces in whatever society it seeks to create.

It’s not that workers want fascism, or that they’re consciously aware of any of this. It’s just that this is already workers’ day-to-day lives. If the country becomes more authoritarian, but the majority of my waking life is already spent operating inside a totalitarian institution, then how much am I really going to notice the change, much less get animated about it?

Really, this is just reason number nine-hundred-and-seventy-two (or whatever) as to why I’m a pareconist as much for strategic reasons as I am for moral ones. Ultimately, I see parecon as indispensable to good strategy for any left. However, as I also am convinced that the left will never take up parecon in a million years for reasons I have discussed elsewhere,2 that means I really don’t think the long-term prospects for ever building a successful left in the United States are really that good.

I’d like to be wrong about this, but I have yet to see the first piece of evidence that I am. And I do think that, ultimately, the U.S. will morph into a hard fascist state — and no, I don’t think Trump will have anything to do with it. Whenever it arrives, it will be led by someone who is actually dangerous and sinister — not an incompetent boob like Trump.3

Why don’t the Democrats guarantee abortion rights?

Expectations.  They don’t refuse to do it so they can run on a message of, “Vote for us or the Republicans will do so much worse.”  They run on that message because if they codify Roe, then you’ll have expectations going forward.

A few months ago, the Senate unanimously passed a bill that would have ended the semi-yearly time change related to Daylight Savings.  Pelosi won’t let the House vote on it.  Why?  It would be popular and it would actually save the business community money, because moving the clocks ahead in March has costs in terms of absenteeism.

If Congress passed it, suddenly people would see the government making a positive difference in their lives, then people would have expectations.  What would the government do next for an encore?

You can’t let people have expectations.  If people do have expectations, they can’t be controlled.  So you have to keep people’s expectations at zero all the time.

That’s why the Democrats won’t codify Roe.  It doesn’t matter if they get wiped out in a few months.  The U.S. ruling class, for whom the Democrats (and the Republicans) both work, don’t want you to have any expectations.  The Republicans will take over, and in a few years the voters will get sick of them and vote the Democrats back in again.  As long as nothing fundamental changes, the ruling class is happy, and any politicians who lose their elections in the rulers’ service will be well taken care of.

But crucially, the population will never ever be allowed to have any expectations whatsoever.  That’s fundamental to the never-ending ruling-class project of keeping the rabble in line.

To fix this, I argue that the left should attack the roots of the capitalist system itself and ask one simple question:  In a good society, should everyone do their fair share of shit work?

However, no one likes my approach and it will probably never be popular in my lifetime, if ever.  So, in lieu of that, I think people should take Jimmy Dore’s advice and stop voting for Democrats and stop donating to Democrats.1

Credit to Russell Brand

I love Jimmy Dore.  Forget TDS (Trump Derangement Syndrome).  How many people on the left are there with JDDS — Jimmy Dore Derangement Syndrome?  I can’t wait to see those people smoked out.1

Yves Smith is a Democrat.

I mean, it’s obvious now, right?  And who else but a Democrat would call Jimmy Dore a troll?

I realize Jimmy Dore lives in a nice house, too.  But at least Jimmy isn’t running interference for the worst people in the country.

Jimmy constantly tells people to stop donating to Democrats or voting for them.1  But despite Yves’s and Lambert’s apparent criticism of the Democrats, you will notice they never ever tell you to stop donating to them, voting for them, or supporting them in any way.

They’re Democrats.  That’s the explanation that makes it all make sense.  I would love to see a list of who their biggest funders are.  I wonder how much money Ro gave Yves last year?