Why I am a Socialist

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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.

Cincinnati Protestors Occupy Senator Portman’s Office Overnight In Protest of Trumpcare!

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A group of concerned citizens of Cincinnati gathered today inside and outside of Ohio Senator Rob Portman’s office in a sit-in protest of the proposed Trumpcare bill. If passed, the bill would deprive an additional 23 million people from access to health insurance, and undoubtedly cost countless innocent lives. It is a well known fact that not having access to insurance kills. Not providing healthcare to all in a society with 10 times the needed potential to do so is in and of itself a crime against humanity and we stand in full solidarity with the protestors.

The protest is a peaceful act of civil disobedience to convince Rob Portman to vote against the bill. The sit-in began earlier today at 4PM and those who were not willing or able to risk arrest left earlier today. The remaining protestors managed to gain access to the Senator’s office on the 33rd floor and have been there ever since, even though the office is officially closed. The sit-in is expected to last well through the night. The building owner has forbidden anyone from delivering food or other necessities.

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Members of Cincinnati Socialist Alternative, Our Revolution, United We Stand, Democratic Socialists of America, ADAPT, Democracy Spring, concerned citizens, and others have courageously gathered today in defense of human rights. This is a historic moment for Cincinnati. When human rights are under attack what do we do? Stand Up! Fight Back!

“Does not caring about politics make me a bad person?” No, it does not.

A friend asked me “does not caring about politics make me a bad person, in your opinion?” I said no, for several reasons.

First let us look at Rousseau, in the ‘Social Contract’:
“If the sovereign (meaning the people) is free to oppose them and does not do so, we must take universal silence as evidence of popular consent”

But this only applies insofar as we take a bourgeois republic seriously, as the will of the people and not as the will of the bourgeoisie. Which any serious look at politics in the U.S. or Europe shows that these republics represent the will of the 1%, to put this in terms that most people can understand.

Plato once said that “The price of apathy towards public affairs is to be ruled by evil men”. But we are still ignoring one of the key facets of modern politics: it is intentionally alienating.

Lenin once said in ‘The State and Revolution’ that “A democratic republic is the best possible political shell for capitalism, and, therefore, once capital has gained possession of this very best shell (through the Palchinskys, Chernovs, Tseretelis and Co.), it establishes its power so securely, so firmly, that no change of persons, institutions or parties in the bourgeois-­democratic republic can shake it.”

Naturally it follows from this that the proletariat is alienated from politics. Why? Because as Lenin said, the bourgeoisie establishes its power so securely, so firmly, that no change of persons, institutions or parties in the bourgeois-­democratic republic can shake it.

So why should anyone be interested in whether Clinton or Trump is elected? The fundamentally exploitative social system we live under will not change, the bombs will not stop falling from the skies, the proletariat will gain no meaningful concessions from the ruling class. Politics is designed to be this way. What difference will it make to someone working 50 hours a week and still living in poverty? Or someone who is unemployed? Why should they vote for a party that won’t even give the working class 15$ an hour?

On the attack today on Congress

Communism is irrevocably opposed to acts of individual terrorism. The attack this morning was done by a man who believed himself to be a patriot, however, divorced entirely from popular support of the masses and the will of the people, from a proper moral justification of such an act (a despotic government, a massive restriction on individual liberty, etc), it can hardly be said to truly be the case. Frustration at the nature of our body politic is understandably widespread, as it is now obvious that our government represents the will of a small, property owning minority. However, this is not a new phenomenon at all, this has always been the case. A significant majority of the population supports, even if hesitantly, the current government and the offices which representatives hold. An attack such as this, then, is an attack on the popular will of the people themselves. If the government is to be attacked in popular outrage, it would be for a much better reason, by the people themselves, and with widespread popular support. That is the only possible justification of an attack on elected representatives. That is why it is said by Marxists that communism is irrevocably opposed to individual acts of terrorism. The attack today was a despicable act, and carries with it no possible justification as such an act can only be justified by the popular will of the people.

What is Needed To Combat Climate Change is both Socialism, and an International Body With Real Power

Anyone can tell you that Trump lied MANY times in his speech today regarding the Paris Agreement. It is with great sadness that I come to the conclusion that in order to ensure the long term survival of the human species, drastic measures must be taken by all nations. “Ecologically friendly capitalism” is a pipe-dream. It is on par with “ethical slavery”. If we are to fix this issue, then a vast increase on international, multilateral state power will become essential. Even if it is futile, such measures must be attempted, preferably under a socialist system, as the above link indicates.
To solve the climate crisis, even under a socialist system, it necessarily requires a semi-merger of international state powers into an international body, or confederation, with REAL POWER. If I had to speculate, I would say that this confederation would force all nations, be they developed or undeveloped, to transfer to a 100% green, renewable energy source by a certain date, stop burning fossil fuels, practice vast reforestation, drastically reduce the meat industry, and the use and production of most plastics and other non-biodegradable commodities, etc.
Violations of established measures, to certain degrees, would mean war not on one state or another, but on all of humanity. The suspect country would be sanctioned economically by all other countries in the confederation, then if they continue violations they would be embargoed, then, as a last resort, attacked militarily. Every single other state in the confederation would reign down hellfire on the country in violation, until either it is overthrown, or until it cooperates.
There is always a sense, when it comes to the climate, that there is “always time to debate this next year”. When, in reality, the time to debate this issue was 30 years ago. The science is settled. There can be no doubt. The time to act was yesterday. If we continue on the path we are on, our grandchildren will have come to the conclusion that NO PRICE is too much for the long term survival of the human species, even the deaths of 5 billion people, even sending humanity back to the dark ages. They will not be wrong, sadly, in this murderous reasoning. In the next 100 years, massive cities will be constructed to house those refugees whose homes have vanished under the rising ocean’s waters. This is an inevitability independent of human action, collaboration, or will.
At such a point, say, 100 years from now, if capitalism still prevails, when hope is so far gone, only a totalitarian global state will be able to ensure the long term survival of the human species. This is not a world that you or I want our grandchildren to live in. The time for action is NOW. The suicidal actions of Trump today only further demonstrate the impotence in reasoning of the capitalist system, that values profits over both people today and the long term survival of the human species. The only way to counteract this disaster is by the transfer to a (democratic) socialist system on a global scale, the abolition of capitalism and the formation of an international confederation equipped to deal with the climate crisis that we face.

Was Trump’s Rise To Power Truly A ‘Rise Against The Elites’? An Brief Answer

Trump’s rise was presented as a ‘rise against the elites’. But who exactly would be considered ‘elite’ in our society? Would it not be that social class that owns the means of producing wealth, and uses that surplus produced by the working class to fund and support candidates for both the Republican and Democrat parties alike? Would it not be not only those funded by PACs and Super-PACs (corporations) but also those corporate sharks that fund PACs and Super-PACs to begin with?

So then, we can say that our society is divided into to two social classes (with some in-between). On the one hand is working and middle classes consisting of the proletariat. What is the proletariat? According to Engels, “The proletariat is that class in society which lives entirely from the sale of its labor and does not draw profit from any kind of capital; whose weal and woe, whose life and death, whose sole existence depends on the demand for labor – hence, on the changing state of business, on the vagaries of unbridled competition. The proletariat, or the class of proletarians, is, in a word, the working class of the [21st] century.”

But this here, the proletariat, is the ‘common man’ Trump has declared himself to represent. How can this be so? Trump is of that other class, one of two in our society, the class of the bourgeoisie. Who are the bourgeoisie? According to Engels, Trump would be a part of “The class of big capitalists, who, in all civilized countries, are already in almost exclusive possession of all the means of subsistence and of the instruments (machines, factories) and materials necessary for the production of the means of subsistence. This is the bourgeois class, or the bourgeoisie.” In essence, this class lives off of, nay, expropriates VAST fortunes (billions on Trump’s case) off the labor of others, off the weal and woe of the proletariat.

The interests of the bourgeoisie are wholly separate from the interests of the overwhelming majority of our society, from the interests of the ‘common man’ which, according to Engels is “The class of the wholly propertyless, who are obliged to sell their labor to the bourgeoisie in order to get, in exchange, the means of subsistence for their support. This is called the class of proletarians, or the proletariat.”

What would be a true rise ‘against the elites’? It would be a movement for the liberation of the proletariat from the exploitation it suffers under the bourgeoisie. It would be directly mobilizing the masses and seizing the means of production from the capitalist class, a declaration that workers are entitled to all they produce and that no one can live off the labor of another. In electoral politics, it would be a candidate NOT funded by exploited labor. The closest thing we have ever had to such a thing was the Sanders campaign, but even that was limited in scope. The idea of a true representative of the ‘common man’ coming to power in this country without the approval of the bourgeois class is utopian.

Under a market economy, it would mean the establishment of market socialism. It would mean that workers would democratically elect members to the board of directors (who would in turn receive no more than a workman’s wage) to decide what is produced, how much is produced, etc. But here is an even bigger difference, under such a system it would be declared that profits are the unpaid wages of the working class. Instead of money produced by 100,000 going to a couple people on the top who did nothing but ‘own’ the means of producing subsistence in our society, to go into their own pockets and to fund politicians who maintain the capitalist system, it would go back to the workers who PRODUCED it in the first place. That would be socialism.

But we can go further than this as well, to abolish markets altogether and thereby all forms of exploitation. To produce according to human needs and not the blind pursuit of profit. We could get rid of the state and the exchange value of commodities (money). But the establishment of workplace democracy and the abolition of bourgeois right to fund politicians and one of the two parties that prioritize their interests above all, would be a necessary step towards this transition.

But now that we have identified who the ‘elites’ in our society are, tell me, how can the election of a self-funded billionaire capitalist to the highest seat in the land be a ‘rise against the elites’? Wouldn’t it be better said to be a ‘rise of the elites’?

Politics are not supposed to be entertainment, it is quite literally a matter of life or death.

We must assume the people to be good and the state evil (Reflections on our society)

“We must assume the people good and the state evil.”(1) Obviously the state, as an inherently violent institution, is a necessary evil both in our bourgeois society, and in the society which will be born of the triumph of labor under capital, it will be necessary until that day when bourgeois right ceases to be.
We say that the people are of good nature. What do we mean? Anyone who goes to a place where the poor are numerous and paupers beg for change will find abnormally high rates of crime. Everywhere the mentality will be ‘every man for himself’. The poor, who are deprived of the means of subsistence, of the means of production, are found to be in a constant state of stress and disorientation. Their concern is for themselves and their immediate relatives, for their immediate needs.
Then we go to those who own the means of subsistence, who grow extremely wealthy for owning the means of production with which the poor toil day and night without ever making a penny more than the capitalist allows. We find here an extremely wealthy fellow, whose “wealth springs quite literally from the poverty of the poor”(2). He lives off the labor of others, off the poor who have nothing to sell but their labor power as the precious commodity that it is, while he does no real work himself. We find a man who, unlike the pauper, has secured the means of maintaining his immediate survival and happiness. But even among him, selfishness runs rampant. It is a selfishness far worse than that which is forced onto the poor. He is in a state of constant struggle not only against the poor who, lacking class consciousness, want only better wages and better working conditions, but also against his fellow capitalist, both within his enterprise and in those enterprises competing against him.
If he grows concerned for the well being of his workers, for their humanity, he will certainly find himself going down a slippery slope. If he goes so far as to forfeit the means of production to the working class, then he will be forced to work like they do, under explorative conditions, with nothing to sell but his labor power. If he runs his business like the good Christian he claims to be, he will soon go out of business and become a laughingstock among the whole capitalist class.(3)
His own survival is based on his greed, on the ceaseless accumulation of capital. We see for both rich and poor alike that self-interest is compelled to become selfishness. “We see that the worker is compelled to work under feudal conditions, or die of hunger”(2), to look after only his own hide, or risk going hungry. We see that the selfishness of the ruling class becomes the ruling ideas of our age, for rich and poor alike. 
So what madness is it to assume the people good? Everywhere we look around we see that greed and selfishness are the sole motivating factors of our society. But we also know that “the ruling ideas of each age have only ever been the ruling ideas of each ages ruling class.”(4) If we imagine instead, “a free association of producers with the means of production held in common”(5), where the means of production are democratically controlled by society at large, then we see that greed ceases to be the sole motivator, the sole ruling idea of society. We see that the pursuit of meeting actual human needs instead of profits exorcizes the hold that greed has over our society.
Only in such a society can the natural virtue of the people by embodied, only in such a society can today’s rich and poor alike live free from constant want and worry, for the states of rich and poor alike will cease to be. Only in such a society can equality be real, and not “the formal inequality in spite of rich and poor, ‘equality’ in spite of inequality.”(6) Only in such a society can democracy embody the true will of all of society, and not only that of the ruling class. When man is free from manmade poverty, and from being compelled to live off of the conditions that create poverty, we will find a society in which the natural virtue of man is truly embodied. As James Connolly once said, “The.. people will only be free when they own everything from the plough to the stars”.(7)
1: Robespierre, Speech/ Rousseau

2: Kropotkin, Conquest of Bread

3: Connolly, Socialism Made Easy

4: Marx & Engels, Communist Manifesto

5: Marx, Capital

6: Engels, Marx Engels Collected Works Volume 6

7: James Connolly