To many anti-capitalists capitalism seems like a daunting enemy—a goliath—but those who take this big view to see global capitalism for the awful thing that it is, should perhaps zoom out even further to take in an even bigger picture, one that belittles capitalism and brings into focus the history of life and of the planet as a whole. For as much as capitalism seems to have going for it, it still needs constant and growing energy inputs, and some level of innovation in a world where it is largely responsible for having destroyed it. Most large organizations are under it’s fold, namely state’s and corporations, but there are many other resilient organizations (beyond socialist worker parties) that Trotskyists seem unable to give appropriate weight to. There is a sense among them that short of global revolution and the total destruction of capitalism, any other socialistic efforts will be co-opted, but I think this is to the denial of the many vital things that are not products of capitalism and are not beholden to it, and are often antithetical to it. Yes, capitalism is the dominant economic system between humans who are consumers, producers, others (I felt the need to add this third category in this age of economic perversity), but in many places in the world capitalist modalities scarcely enter into the oldest and most enduring human organization—the family. Thinking anatomically, within human bodies the economy between cells, and between organs and muscular-skeletal systems connecting through nerves and blood flow, is very cooperative displaying socialistic principles of sharing and “from each according to his abilities to each according to his needs”. Eco-systems that blend the three kingdoms of life and the less animate, inert earth, are largely symbiotic and a teacher that is too often not read (our nature literacy is at an all time low).
Capitalist relations do invade patterns of thought, and there is a suppression of a genealogical understanding of the development of all things in preference for a transhistorical view of the present as having some natural, eternal purpose. Capitalism projects itself backwards in time, overshadowing the real past, but an honest look backwards would show that just 250 years ago capitalism was not yet global, something practiced by a peculiar English minority in a much larger world of other traditionally exploitative systems. And capitalism was arguably only poised to be spread so virulently because of the discovery of fossil fuel energy potentials, not some teleological force within capitalism that made it unstoppable and somehow logical to be a conquering force: if a giant asteroid hit the earth and killed all mammalian life, would capitalism still have taken over?
Capitalism did not come to be all at once, and it does not necessarily need to be destroyed (unsubscribed from) all at once, with every single worker being class conscious and squaring off with everyone’s common enemy, the exploitative land owner. Besides, to accept the capitalists as the actual owners of the means of production is to accept the property ideology of capitalism, which seems to be regressive, non-revolutionary thinking. A revolution to transfer ownership from one class to another, sounds more like a regime change within the larger umbrella of propertied economic systems. Sticking to the topic of global worker revolution, think also of the huge efforts it would take to link and organize such multi-lingual, multi-continental efforts, and keep them from being hierarchical bureaucracies as some of the socialist parties desire (while other parties accept the idea of hierarchical organizations as a means to an end).
The argument put forth against creating “islands of socialism” is that they will come to be immediately under siege by capitalist forces, and there is a lack of truly understanding that such a way is a reaction to capitalism not a true break from it. Couldn’t it be equally as true that such islands put capitalism under siege, as pockets of land and pockets of potential consumers are taken out of the exploitative loop? I believe that such islands—some of which already exist imperfectly as small scale communes—serve as inspirational models that service a concrete contrast to the capitalist system that has so destroyed the imaginative capacity to envision an after-story to capitalism. A truly communistic society, no matter how small, is sure to invoke passions and energies from its purveyors that the capitalist system has never tapped into because of its alienating, deadening manner. Islands also serve as social experiments to teach lessons of what works well and what doesn’t as much.
I think we should feel relieved and happy to start socialism small and manageable, as this is in line with how every species (or economic/social system) always has started, allowing time and space for it to grow. We start with ourselves, in our bodies that share nutrients through our blood to all the different parts, in a very harmonious way. This is a great place to start, and we only have to grow in small ways beyond this level… To play on some Marxist prose, we have to impregnate this old, harmful society with a new, humanistic one. Babies don’t kill their mothers, but with enough caring they do outlast and replace them.
This post is a continuation/conclusion of Strikes r Out