‘LIBERTY! EQUALITY! FRATERNITY!’ An Analysis of Modern Society

‘LIBERTY! EQUALITY! FRATERNITY!’ (Liberté, Égalité, Fraternité) The slogan and promise of the French Revolution which ushered in on a mass scale a radical new social order which was said to deliver on this promise: capitalism. However no one can deny that even the fundamental sentiments of this promise have been squandered, bastardized and repudiated by bourgeois society. Indeed capitalism has brought forth advancements and innovations far beyond that of the past 3000 years before it combined- even it’s most thorough critics did not deny this fact. It was a necessary advancement beyond feudalism and should be seen as such, but clearly it has not delivered on its promise and a better world which does deliver on these sentiments is still possible. Let us examine how modern society bastardizes and repudiates the promise that capitalism would deliver these things by analyzing how society emulates them (or lack thereof):
Equality
Our society edited ‘equality’ out of the revolutionary slogan of ‘LIBERTY, EQUALITY, FRATERNITY‘. Equality (meaning the equal chance to succeed in life) is demonized, called ‘socialism’, one of the most misunderstood and bastardized ideas in the world today- and the reason for this is clear. Equality is not a component of capitalist society and can never be. Equality is something which completely betrays the concept of the ownership of private enterprise and bourgeois society. It is utterly and completely impossible under capitalism. Because 62 people own more wealth than the bottom HALF of humanity (3.5 BILLION) it became necessary to substitute equality for superiority, for social darwinism which utterly betrays human empathy, compassion and reason. Equality is not something that can come out of a system fundamentally based on the privilege of the few to own and enrich themselves on the fruits of the labor of working people. It is a system fundamentally based on inequality, on exploitation. Equality exists only for the rich. It’s considered a social norm that people can afford to eat, yet 1 in 5 children in our own country still go hungry. Hunger is turned away from, the poor- instead of going hungry because of famine as was the case in the past are merely discarded like trash. There is too much food to sell. Restaurants and grocery stores throw out their surplus of food, why? Because they can’t turn a profit off of it. If we abolished this ludicrous sentiment of placing profits before people world hunger could be abolished in a decades time. But why don’t we do so? Because it is not profitable (in the monetary sense of the word), yet abolishing world hunger would be more valuable to humankind than any previous social program. As Dom Helder Camara said, “When I give food to the poor they call be a saint. When I ask why the poor have no food they call me a communist”. A well-fed man is a thinking man while a hungry man only longs for food. Imagine the innovative potential which is squandered by this grave evil. Equality in our society is nonexistent. In fact the world today has more inequality than ever before in human history.
Liberty
No doubt liberty in bourgeois society is only enjoyed by the rich, as to have liberty you must have capital. To roam and exist freely you can be nothing less than wealthy. While I am extremely critical of the man, J.V. Stalin summed up the lack of liberty in bourgeois society quite well saying, “It is difficult for me to imagine what “personal liberty” is enjoyed by an unemployed hungry person. True freedom can only be where there is no exploitation and oppression of one person by another; where there is not unemployment, and where a person is not living in fear of losing his job, his home and his bread. Only in such a society personal and any other freedom can exist for real and not on paper.” We praise the statue of liberty as an American and French icon, liberty is a fundamental pillar in our society. Yet that pillar is truncated, and false. It is a deception to the poor and a blessing to the rich.
Fraternity
Because of the predatory and competitive nature of the capitalist machine, fraternity in capitalist society is but a pipe-dream. It cannot be achieved so long as man is turned against his fellow man in the accumulation of capital and so long as thousands of independent, competing enterprises exist in such an anarchistic economic order- one which “booms and busts like man sighs and breaths”, as Trotsky said. Frederick Engels summed up the ludicrous nature of capitalist competition in The Dialectics of Nature saying, “Darwin did not know what a bitter satire he wrote on mankind, and especially on his countrymen, when he showed that free competition, the struggle for existence, which the economists celebrate as the highest historical achievement, is the normal state of the animal kingdom. Only conscious organization of social production, in which production and distribution are carried on in a planned way, can elevate mankind above the rest of the animal world socially in the same way that production in general has done this for man specifically. Historical development makes such an organization daily more indispensable, but also with everyday more possible. From it will date a new epoch of history, in which mankind itself, and with mankind all branches of its activity, and especially natural science, will experience an advance before which everything preceding it will pale in insignificance.” Indeed, the order of society itself is just that- animal, a sort of disorganized organization. But what does any of this have to do with fraternity? Because workers are competing against one another, they are not uniting amongst themselves to achieve a common goal. In uniting they achieve a sense of fraternity. The alienating character of capitalism is not one which can provide any sense of common goal making or common unity in the workplace. The workers only share in their common suffering, their common exploitation, their common expropriation of labor by the capitalist class. Fraternity is impossible without equality, not absolute egalitarianism by any means but rather equal chance to succeed in life instead of one person gaining an unfair advantage to succeed in life by class, race, religion, gender, etc. It does not mean that everyone gets paid the same but rather that everyone has an equal chance and with the abolition of capitalism the wage-gap is substantially reduced to the point where real fraternity is truly possible among all members of society regardless of wealth as no one is entitled by property right to the fruits of the labor by another. Not only can he not profit off another’s labor, but he cannot live off it and moreover he cannot amass such a fortune off of someone else’s work to find himself among a small elite of less than a hundred men which owns more than half the world. Strange times are these when bellies full of food and access to not only abundant running water but luxuries and technologies beyond the wildest dreams of our ancestors and yet kindness and fraternity are still considered a virtue- a rare trait to be found in society. One would reason that such advancements would bring people together more rapidly than any previous social era. We have no food to fight over- so why is there still war? We have substituted the pursuit of food for that of capital- the pursuit of which manifests itself as a thirst that can never be quenched: greed. Food of course, is not readily available in society though our current struggle for food pales in comparison to that of 9/10 of human prehistory. Wars today are not over food, they are fought over money, over profit, they are imperialist wars. Modern society is more divided by class than by culture, it is more divided by class than by nationality, more divided by class than gender, than religion, than ethnicity, than any other social subset which divides us. We must work to abolish these differences. Only in such a society can society inscribe upon its banner ‘LIBERTY! EQUALITY! FRATERNITY!‘. Only in a socialist society can we work towards these ends, and only can they be fully realized in a stateless, classless communist society where freedom for all truly reigns. Let us openly declare that these three sentiments were not attained and cannot be attained under capitalism, to work towards a better world which truly provides for all, which puts human needs above greed and the pursuit of capital. A better world is possible, now more than ever.

What is Socialism & Communism? A (Very Basic) Rundown

The idea of society placing human needs above the profit motive is certainly an old one. Critics say that it cannot be done, yet in our current society the goal of meeting human needs is still there- but the accumulation of capital takes a priority. The priority of the accumulation of profit over human needs squanders the value of human life to the point where exploitation and even death of the individual is acceptable so long as it generates capital. It turns man against himself so much so that two hostile classes emerge in the capitalist mode of production (the history of all hitherto existing society is of course- the history of class struggle). There is the class which owns the means of creating wealth- the bourgeoisie, yet they themselves create nothing and live off the fruits of the labor of those who do. Then there is the class which makes up the overwhelming majority of society- the proletariat, or the working class who have nothing but their own labor power to sell off. This class creates all the commodities of modern society, it creates not only the commodities, but the machines that create the commodities. It is the provider of all, nothing gets done without the proletariat. Socialism takes this order of one class owning everything and creating nothing and the other class owning nothing and creating everything and flips it upside-down. It declares that no longer will one be able to live off of- let alone make a fortune off of the hard work of other people. No longer are the producers of society impoverished and all will enjoy the fruits of their common labor- not a handful of rich men. The means of production which were previously owned by a small minority of society become the ownership not of the state (state-capitalism, as what happened in the USSR) but of the workers themselves. Socialism (and especially Communism) ,like capitalism have nothing to do with the government. It means the abolition of private (not personal) property. It means that the land belongs to those who till it, the homes to those who dwell within them, and the factories and businesses to those who work within them. A radical new concept is introduced into the workplace: democracy. Wage labor is abolished as the worker reaps the whole of the fruit of his labor (excluding of course taxes, costs of maintaining the business, etc) instead of having the lions share taken by the capitalist who did nothing to earn it but ‘own’ the means of generating wealth. The ruling class in such a society becomes the workers themselves- for the first time in human history the ruling class becomes the class of the majority and not a small elite. This allows real (both political and economic) democracy to flourish. Democracy for the majority instead of merely the minority (even with universal suffrage our ‘democracy’ still serves the rich) as the majority is the ruling class. Instead of society allowing someone to get rich off the labor of others without they themselves working, society declares that ‘those who do not work (excluding the disabled), do not eat’. This is, of course but a step towards eliminating social classes (the privileged relations to the means of production, not differences in wealth per se) altogether. Just 62 people own as much wealth as the bottom 3.5 billion, under socialism labor is directly proportional to capital received. Under communism it (taking a surplus from society) is directly proportional to the NEEDS of the individual. In this regard socialism is a step up from capitalism in that labor is actually proportional to wealth- instead of a flat wage given out regardless of work done. But an independent man earns as much as a single mother of 4 assuming they have the same job and work the same amount. This is still an injustice- even under socialism. Communism swipes this injustice away by inscribing upon the banner of society, “From each according to his ability, to each according to his NEEDS”. Thus the single mother of 4 does what she can and takes from society what she NEEDS. All basic human needs are met and luxuries are also provided to the masses. Of course, even under socialism the well being of the individual is placed much higher than under capitalism. The very basic human needs for all people will be met under socialism, but the injustice of ‘he who does not work, does not eat’ still continues until communism is achieved. Regardless, socialist society puts people and the planet before profit. Instead of setting human empathy and morality aside in the name of greed is no more. Freedom for all (something that is only an illusion in our own society) certainly seems more realized under socialism than under capitalism, but it is only truly realized under communism- once the state itself has withered away and class struggle is no more. Under capitalism there is the illusion of ‘volunteerism’. This however is false. When the economy is privately owned the worker has no choice to sell but what he owns- his labor. As Peter Kropotkin said, “We cry shame on the feudal baron who forbade the peasant to turn a clod of earth unless he surrendered his lord a fourth of his crop. We called those barbarous times. But if the forms have changed, the relations have remained the same, and the worker is forced, under the name of free contract, to accept feudal obligations. For, turn where he will, he can find no better conditions. Everything has become private property, and he must accept, or die of hunger.” The worker under capitalism can accept the conditions of capitalist society- to be oppressed or to he himself oppress, or die of hunger. A better world IS possible. These are not pipe-dreams. The proletarians have nothing to lose but their chains.

This election as and example of ‘democracy’, our society as an example of ‘freedom’, ‘equality’, ‘liberty’, ‘justice’

In a truly democratic system THE PEOPLE would only ALLOW candidates they (the majority) like and approve of to make it this far. But because capital has such a sway, things are not democratic. Don’t be fooled. This election is a sheer and complete mockery of even the word ‘democracy’. The people hate both candidates and the only reason one will win is because they are slightly less hated than the other. The American people are being fooled to vote against their own interests in a two-party oligarchy under the guise of a democratic process. Indeed the people are allowed to elect every 2 or 4 years which members of the ruling class they want to oppress them, but universal suffrage was not intended to be this way, it was intended to SERVE THE PEOPLE. Government in capitalist society serves the capitalist, not the working masses. It seeks only to defend the prevailing social order and to limit and cripple any real social change- including the expansion of democratic rights (such as REAL political democracy along with economic democracy) and civil liberties which are impossible under capitalism. Freedom, democracy, equality, liberty and justice are grand words. But in our society it is only freedom to conform, democracy which is truncated, false- a snare which deceives the poor and the oppressed into thinking real social change is possible under the prevailing social order. It is not equality (as was promised to be delivered under capitalism circa the French Revolution) but rather the highest rate of inequality in all of human history, liberty only for the wealthy and justice is served out only to the poor. These grand words inscribed upon the banner of our society are utterly and completely false in material reality, and will remain so as long as the prevailing social order continues to exist.

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Socialism is NOT where ‘everyone gets paid the same’, or having ANYTHING to do with the government

I found this quote that sums up the idea of socialism pretty clearly. To be fair I am a Trotskyist and am VERY critical of Stalin and Stalinism but on this issue he hit the nail on the head. Unfortunately the USSR never actually achieved socialism as Stalin, equating the dream with the reality for the Russian people declared socialism having been achieved. The state had seized the means of production- achieving state-capitalism which was a necessary prerequisite to socialism in countries (like Russia, China, etc.) which had not undergone an advanced capitalist phase of development. Lenin recognized the neccesity of this and had great confidence that the party would see socialism through. But in the 30’s Stalin- after some 15 years of revolutionary struggle and hardship on account of the Russian people made a political decision to tell the Russian people that ‘socialism has been achieved’, that what Russia had WAS socialism. Of course any marxian economist can tell you that it was not socialism as the state owned and controlled the means of production- and not the workers. What Russia had is what we call state-capitalism, which is inherently authoritarian because the state (and not the workers democratically) controlled the economy. Socialism has nothing to do with the government. Like capitalism it can be libertarian or authoritarian in nature. I myself prefer a small government- and yes I am a socialist. There is another misconception about socialism which I think Stalin (sigh) clears up very well. The misconception that the egalitarianism of socialism is not mere equal chance to succeed but actual, forced equality. This is ludicrous as Stalin clarifies by saying,

“The kind of socialism under which everybody would receive the same pay, an equal quantity of meat, an equal quantity, of bread, would wear the same kind of clothes and would receive the same kind of goods and in equal quantities—such a kind of socialism is unknown to Marxism. All that Marxism declares is that until classes have been completely abolished, and until work has been transformed from being a means of maintaining existence, into a prime necessity of life, into voluntary labour performed for the benefit of society, people will continue to be paid for their labour in accordance with the amount of labour performed. ‘From each according to his capacity, to each according to the work he performs,’ such is the Marxian formula of socialism, i.e., the first stage of communism, the first stage of a communist society. Only in the highest phase of communism will people, working in accordance with their capacity, receive recompense therefor in accordance with their needs: ‘From each according to his capacity, to each according to his needs.’

It is obvious that people’s needs vary and will vary under socialism. Socialism never denied that people differed in their tastes, and in the quantity and quality of their needs. Read Marx’s criticism of Stirner’s inclination toward equalitarianism; read Marx’s criticism of the Gotha Programme of 1875; read the subsequent works of Marx, Engels and Lenin, and you will see how severely they attacked equalitarianism. The roots of equalitarianism lie in the mentality of the peasant, in the psychology of share and share alike, the psychology of primitive peasant ‘communism.’ Equalitarianism is entirely alien to Marxian socialism. It is those who know nothing about Marxism who have the primitive idea that the Russian Bolsheviks want to pool all wealth and then share it out equally. It is the idea of those who have never had anything in common with Marxism. It was the idea of communism entertained by such people as the primitive ‘communists’ of the time of Cromwell and the French Revolution. But Marxism and Russian Bolshevism have nothing in common with the equalitarian ‘communists.'”

Indeed, socialism doesn’t force people to be equal. It merely provides and equal chance for all to succeed regardless of what family or neighborhood they are born into.

“I think therefore I am” existence and consciousness

It is certainly a logical conclusion. But at what point do we establish thought capable of being considered consciousness? Does the spider think to bind his web? Or is it his nature? If nature is the defining trait then to intentionally betray ones own nature would be an act of conscious being. But human nature is to rebel against nature- both the natural world and human nature. We cannot claim that mankind lacks predefined nature, but we can say that human nature is to a large extent malleable. Perhaps it is the unconscious or subconscious mind which programs a spider to act the way it does, in this case consciousness is an advanced form of the subconscious mind. But whose to say that there isn’t a species of even greater intelligence whose subconscious mind is made up of the alien equivalent of our conscious mind? To them are we mere primitive animals with limited will? To be is to exist. To exist is absurdity. Existence cannot to rationalized for its origin is the beginning of logic and reason itself.