Recently Trump gave a speech about the massive alt-right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia. Instead of unilaterally condemning the racist violence, hatred, and bigotry of the alt-right, Trump claimed that “there was blame on both sides”, and coined the term “the alt-left” to refer to the leftist counter-protestors. Despite the outbreak of racist violence at the rally, accompanied with domestic terrorism from the far-right, Trump de facto placed more blame on the left for “not having a permit”.
As of late, many conservative and libertarian (as in libertarian capitalist) media outlets have been on a frenzy condemning what they call “hate on both sides”. In this sense, they equate the far left and the far right as equally bad, a concept similar to the “Horseshoe Theory” which I debunked in an earlier post. As an example of this meme frenzy, let’s take a look at a meme shared by Turning Point USA on the issue:
What is meant by the term “hate”? Lets break this down by separating the far-right organizations mentioned (which everyone knows are inherently hateful) from the left-wing organizations mentioned. Who or what exactly do these left-wing organizations hate?
What does Black Lives Matter hate? Black Lives Matter is an organization created to address the horrific abuses suffered by African Americans by the United States Criminal Justice System. As an organization, it has condemned racially oriented violence, violent tactics, and police brutality. In a word, it hates racism and oppression.
What did The Black Panther Party hate? The Black Panther Party was an anti-revisionist Marxist-Leninist Party formed during the beginning of the American civil rights movement as a militant anti-racist organization to address the horrific injustices suffered by the working class and African Americans. It was a revolutionary Marxist organization that was militantly opposed to the 400 years of oppression suffered by black people in America. Never did the organization, or Black Lives Matter, for that matter, advocate Black Supremacy or racist politics. As a matter of fact, both organizations had white members and white majority organizations that stood in solidarity with them. In a word, it hated racism and exploitation.
What do the communists hate? The communists hate a social system where 5 people have expropriated the same amount of wealth as the bottom half of humanity (3.5 billion people), a system that awards those who produced that great wealth barely enough to maintain a wretched existence. They hate a social system that has the productive potential to end homelessness, hunger, poverty, and treatable diseases 20 times over but refuses to do so because it “isn’t profitable”. In the words of the late American socialist Eugene V. Debs, “I am opposing a social order in which it is possible for one man who does absolutely nothing that is useful to amass a fortune of hundreds of millions of dollars, while millions of men and women who work all the days of their lives secure barely enough for a wretched existence.” Communists recognize that the history of all human history is a history of class struggles. Throughout human history there has always been social classes that produce all the wealth in a given society, and has the lions share of what it produces taken from it by a ruling class in the form of economic exploitation (everything the slave produced, what the peasant produced 3 days of the week, the surplus value produced by the worker today). The members of the ruling class in each epoch typically did no work of their own but rather lived off of the labor of others. The class or classes that owned the means of production, in every epoch, controlled the state and used it to its own advantage. The communists recognize that our capitalist society is no different from earlier epochs in this regard, and that as such, is fundamentally based on exploitation. They wish to create a social system where all members of society own the means of producing wealth, and have democratic control over them. In such a society the state (an inherently violent institution) would become superfluous, money as a form of exchange would become superfluous, and social classes (classes that exist with a particular relation to the means of production) would disappear. In a word, the communists hate oppression and exploitation.
What does CIAR (The Council of Islamic-American Relations) hate? The organization says that they “promote civil rights, diversity and freedom of religion and oppose policies that limit civil rights, permit racial, ethnic or religious profiling, infringe on due process, or that prevent Muslims and others from participating fully in American civic life.” Based on their actions, we can say that this is an accurate summery of the CIAR. Thus it can be said that, in a word, they hate religious persecution and oppression.
What do the anti-fascists hate? As anyone can tell by the name, the anti-fascists hate fascism. Generally the anti-fascists are anarchists (typically anarcho-communists) and communists. In a word, the anarchists hate fascism, and the oppression and exploitation that fascism brings.
What, then have we established? The KKK, the White Supremacists, and the Nazi’s hate people, and they hate people because of things they cannot help (race, gender identity, sexual orientation, nationality and religion in particular). The Black Panthers, Black Lives Matter, CIAR, and the communists do not tend to hate individuals in particular, but various forms of oppression or exploitation. Whenever they do hate individuals, they hate those who directly and unapologetically perpetrate various forms of oppression and exploitation.
What, then, is the position of the “alt-left” in regards to hate? The general position is that the “alt-left” hates every single form of oppression and exploitation. When the “alt-left” does hate individuals, it is because they directly and unapologetically perpetrate various forms of oppression and exploitation. What is detestable to the “Alt-Left” is the hatred of the far-right, a group that hates people because of things that they generally cannot help, such as their nationality, race, gender identity, sexual orientation, or religion. When centrists and conservatives say that “all hate is bad” and condemn “both sides”, they mean hatred of anything, regardless of whether that thing is good or bad. They mean not only hatred of individuals, but hatred of things in particular, they mean the feeling of hatred itself. Was it wrong for a slave to hate slavery? Not in the least. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to realize that this kind of reasoning used by centrists and conservatives is absolute nonsense and that there is no comparison between the “Alt-Right” and the so-called “Alt-Left”.
I am a socialist because I simply refuse to accept that the richest country on earth “can not afford to” provide housing for all, employment for all, guarantee a means of subsistence to all who work, provide universal healthcare, and not exploit the third world. Somehow, it is “unethical” to seize the means of producing wealth in our society, a society that has expropriated an amount of wealth equal to what the bottom half of humanity (3.5 billion people) owns, into the hands of just 5 people, and does not give it the people who produced the wealth in the first place (who themselves live in extreme poverty). Yet somehow it is “ethical” to allow 100 million people die preventable deaths from hunger, poverty, treatable diseases and lack of access to essential (yet abundant) resources every 5.5 years, deaths by the way, that are directly attributable to capitalism. Somehow it is “ethical” to rob Africa, India, Asia, the Middle East, and Latin America of their resources and labor for U.S. corporations and economic interests. But it is “unethical” when one of those nations stands up for their people, against the foreign and domestic capitalists who de facto own that country’s political system, but it is “ethical” when that country is attacked mercilessly by the United States and CIA, overthrown and replaced by a government subservient to US imperialism.
I am a socialist because history demonstrates that every economic system and country in the past (primitive communism, slavery, feudalism, and yes, capitalism too) has a beginning, a middle and an end, that going from one to the other often fails at first, and is often rigidly authoritarian and disastrous before eventually it becomes the dominant system in a less extreme form. And if you think that capitalism and the American empire are somehow exceptions to the laws of history then I think it is you who are on the wrong side of history.
I am a socialist because we live in a world where there are 5 empty homes for every homeless person, because there are billionaires with 20 yachts at the same time as there are millions of children without shoes, food, or shelter. I am a socialist because capitalism has outlived its historical necessity, because private property (meaning the private, dictatorial ownership and control of industry and the entitlement to what others produce by a small minority) is fundamentally immoral and wrong. I am a socialist because the working class, the class that makes up 95% of our population and produces ALL the wealth in our society, is robbed of the fruits of their labor by the capitalist class that does no work of its own, but lives on the labor of others.
I am a socialist because capitalism has proven itself to be wholly incapable of addressing not only these issues, but also the impending climate crisis that will undoubtedly be the end of humanity as we know it if we allow it to continue. I am a socialist because I believe in democracy and I recognize the fact that “democracy” cannot exist when money is allowed in politics, and that our current political system and two parties are wholly owned by corporate interests. I am a socialist because I believe a better world is possible, because I believe we can scientifically and democratically plan the economy to work for the many and not the few.
I am a socialist because I was raised a Christian, and because I was always taught by my parents to have empathy and compassion for the poor and oppressed, for the less fortunate. To be a socialist is to look at the world and say that we as a species can do better than this. It is to look at vast amounts of wealth amongst vast amounts of poverty and to say that this is fundamentally wrong. It is to recognize, as Kropotkin put it, that “everywhere you will find that the wealth of the wealthy springs from the poverty of the poor”. It is to recognize, as Marx put it, that, “The workers have nothing to lose but their chains. They have a world to win!” It is to recognize that capitalism is fundamentally based on exploitation and theft. It is to recognize that the “ethics” of capitalism are opposed to the ethical and moral principles of every single major religion, that the current socioeconomic system we live under is fundamentally immoral. In a word, it is to care about the poor and oppressed.
I am a socialist because I recognize that the early socialist revolutions happened in the least ideal countries, at the least ideal times. I recognize that Marx himself thought that socialism could only succeed in the most advanced capitalist countries first, at the end of capitalist development. I take a favorable view of the Russian Revolution, of the genuine democratic gains by the early Bolsheviks. But I recognize the predicament that these early socialist states faced, and if I was alive at the time, even as a socialist, I’d believe they would likely have failed entirely or degenerated. I am a socialist because I recognize the difference between socialism and Stalinism, between the totalitarian pursuit of an economic system and the system itself. I am a socialist because I can recognize that, as Rosa Luxemburg said, “democracy is indispensable to socialism and socialism is indispensable to democracy”. I am a socialist because our society puts profits before people, and not people before profits.
That, in a nutshell, is why I am a socialist.