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Look, Ma, I’m a Socialist!

I’ve decided to take this incredibly politically-charged moment in American history to make a politically-charged statement!

In short, I’m a Socialist. Like, not an Obama Socialist, or even a Bernie Sanders socialist, but an actual, far-left Socialist, who challenges the fundamental principles on which our government and economy are built.

But I still think you should vote for Hillary Clinton.

In long, see below. 

WHAT I REALLY THINK ABOUT AMERICAN POLITICS:

I voted early in Louisiana, and I voted for Hillary Clinton. I prefer Hillary’s policies to Donald’s, but more urgently, it’s clear to me that Donald is using rhetoric that has been used many times throughout history, rhetoric which can be neatly categorized by any linguist or PoliSci major as “fascist”. History tells us that rhetoric like this often precedes fascist policies, such as voter suppression, abolishing or de-legitimizing elections, enacting martial law or a “police state”, and/or locking minorities up in concentration camps. I don’t think we are exempt from these dangers, as all of them have happened in our own recent history.

Thus I believe that a Donald presidency could be dangerous, PHYSICALLY and IMMEDIATELY, to a number of people whose lives are not currently in danger.

Hillary, on the other hand, is a dedicated, supremely competent, moderate politician, whose presidency will probably not put new lives in danger.

HOWEVER: a Hillary presidency will, almost certainly, maintain the American status quo of endangering and degrading the quality of millions of human lives, including but not limited to: the 2.5 million Americans in prison (at least 30% of them nonviolent offenders); the 15 million American children living in poverty; the tens of millions of political, religious, and economic refugees threatened by American-backed regimes; the hundreds of millions of workers (including children) employed by American companies under internationally-condemned conditions; and notably, every other human on earth, whose lives are threatened by the effects of global climate change.

Her presidency will not fundamentally change these problems, just like the Obama presidency hasn’t, and neither did the Bushes, or the other Clinton, or any of the others, alllll the way back to the very beginning of American presidencies.

In other words, by electing Hillary, we will be Continuing to Keep America Roughly as Fucked Up As It Usually Has Been. Which in this case, is definitely the better choice.

But I want to go ahead and say, while everyone is all fired up about American politics: I think we are stuck with these problems to a very large extent, regardless of who we elect, because they do not belong to one political party or another. These problems and many others are, in my estimation, the natural, predictable, unavoidable results of our ideological and economic dedication to CAPITALISM.

I think capitalism is hazardous to humans and other living creatures, and that socialism, despite its obstacles, may be our only chance at survival.

………………………………..

WHAT I MEAN BY THAT:

First of all, CAPITALISM is an economic and political system in which a country’s trade and industry are controlled by private owners, for profit.

SOCIALISM is an economic and political system in which a country’s trade and industry are owned or regulated collectively by the citizens of that country.

Both of these systems can and do exist alongside Democracy, as independent-but-related operating principles. Socialism is not anti-democratic, although there have been socialist societies that have repressed democracy.

(I’d argue, though, that our capitalist society has, historically, also gone to impressive lengths to repress democracy. A few choice examples: women, African Americans, Native Americans, Jews, Quakers and Catholics have all been legally barred from voting in this country at various points; felons still have voting rights permanently revoked; then there’s voter suppression & corporate influence on elections (notably the Citizens United ruling).)

The Big Unsolvable Problem of capitalism though, according to me (and many others, notably Karl Marx), is that it creates exploitation of people and the environment with an efficiency that cannot be effectively controlled by regulation. Capitalism operates almost like a natural force, and exploitation seems to be a powerful, self-organizing, emergent property of capitalist societies.

The best metaphor I’ve found is this one: capitalism flows around obstacles naturally and efficiently, like water around a stone. New regulations are circumvented, either by rebranding (see “slavery” versus “sharecropping”), political propaganda (see “The War on Drugs”), or exporting (see child labor, which was outlawed in the US in 1938; but which is still rampant around the globe (recent statistics estimate that there are over 200 million child laborers around the world) and employed, legally and widely, by American companies).

Socialism is imperfect, and there are historical examples of its imperfect implementation. Before you drag out those dead horses to beat, though, consider the atrocities that have been committed by our capitalist society. I’m not going to trot them all out here, but hey, you probably remember. 

………………………………..

WHAT THE HECK TO DO ABOUT IT:

First of all, definitely do vote for HIllary. Voting third-party at this point is akin to farting in a windstorm. It’s just. Not. Going. To. Help.

So… I don’t know!!!

But.

I am interested in a future where private profit does not dictate our laws, our national political discussion, our children’s ability to survive on earth, or our imaginations. This future does not, by my estimation, exist within our current system of economics and government. Even Bernie Sanders, although “getting warmer”, was not openly willing to question the fundamental soundness of capitalism as an organizing principal of society.

But me? I’m an artist, not a politician. I consider it part of my job to think outside of the boxes I’m born into; to be radical, to be compassionate, and to give my imagination plenty of exercise.

So, I’ve been reading Marx, and David Harvey, and Jacobin Magazine. I joined the Party for Socialism and Liberation - PSL. And I’ve begun going to events organized by Black Lives Matter, which appears to be one of the only movements currently willing to acknowledge the systemic nature of the problems we face as a society.

This thought-project has shifted my perspective dramatically, so that the whole world looks a little off-kilter, which I find exhilarating. I now see the profit motive lurking behind every single injustice in the world, like Satan, or Sauron, or the Dark Side. It’s so big, and so pervasive, it’s as invisible as the air we breathe.

And all I’m saying is, it’s NOT the air we breathe.

So, can’t we at least consider the possibility of just… stopping?

As Ursula K. Le Guin​ reminds us, “We live in capitalism, its power seems inescapable – but then, so did the divine right of kings.”

I don’t know how to do it. I don’t have the answers. But I’m not willing to stop asking the questions. Like,

Are we really facing a million different problems, like police brutality and Climate Change and poverty and gun control and the Dakota Access Pipeline? Or is it possible that we’re ALL facing One Very Big Problem?

If it wasn’t all about profit, what would it be about?

Are humans really fundamentally greedy, prejudiced, and cruel?

Is this the best we can do for our children?

What about the children of the rest of the world?

Can you imagine a different future?



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