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Are We Barbarians? - Articles Surfing
For Desiring to Revolutionize Property Relations in Society?
1 - Property Relations: A Historical Look
In a society that has been founded on the ideals of the Enlightenment, on the philosophes and the thinkers of centuries past, there is no skepticism as to why reason flourishes to some degree. The all too typical political arguments rage furiously, between liberals and conservatives, between libertarians and statists. Issues like gun control and abortion are argued, each side tying together its different positions through sometimes inane connections and poor generalizations. There is a certain amount of diversity and disagreement in the political arena. It was not the intention of the Rationalist philosophers to say that reason leads all men to the same conclusions, but only that every conclusion or position must be guarded with evidence, reasoning, and logic. To support a government candidate without offering any proof for such support is as idiotic as it is unreasonable. So it happens, that the arguments in the political arena follow a certain set of code, a certain informal rule: if an argument is to have merit, it must have evidence. Thoughts may be considered, but can never be accepted without reasoning. Ideas may be proposed, but will never be believed without arguments.
Among the ideas that are commonly debated in our modern society, there is the idea of wealth redistribution, an idea that is largely associated with liberals and liberalism. Its essential definition is the transferring of wealth from one part of society to another, after the in-place rules of economics have given wealth to one member or another. One of the primary methods that wealth redistribution is enacted is through heavy taxing of the rich, and in turn using that taxes to fund programs such as college funds, better schools, improved social security, among other social programs, so that the taxes of the rich go to the poorer parts of society in a more equitable way. Those who support wealth redistribution also support other things such as raising the minimum wage laws, increasing health care, decreasing the work week, and other things that would otherwise aid the working class and eliminate poverty. However, these progressive reforms that are being implemented into our system, as much as they seem to take hold, poverty, crime, and unemployment still manage to exist and infect millions of lives. And, even beyond this, these progressive reforms are highly criticized by conservatives as being destructive to the economy and antithetic towards ideals of justice. Not only are these progressive reforms ineffective, conservatives argue, but they violate the rights and liberties of people -- particularly, they violate the right to property of the people. The property rights of the people as they exist today I shall call property relations.
I am not going to make my views or opinions a mystery here. I firmly hold to the belief that wealth redistribution is, in fact, ineffective. The most effective method of preventing poverty, unemployment, and misery is by reorganizing and rearranging society so that the public is in ownership of the means of production. That is to say, the farms that harvest the food, the mines that bring up the metal ore, the factories that manufacture the products, the stores that distribute the goods, and the vehicles that transport the value created by society, all of these things should be owned publicly. Just as public as the roads, the railroads, the highways, the utility (water and electricity) companies, and parks are publicly owned, so shall the means of production be owned by the public. Regulation may be largely ineffective, but no regulation at all simply allows for so much poverty and misery to flow through. While a bureaucracy might pose as a hurdle to the economy, a completely free market economy may be viewed as a wall that reaches to the heavens, impassable by those who love justice and freedom. It is only by an ownership of the means of production by the public that the ills of a Capitalist society can be remedied. It would require a complete revolution of the property relations as they exist.
"But it is unjust!" is the first cry uttered. The idea that property can be taken away from the Capitalist class, who has worked so hard and so diligently to produce the wealth that they have amassed, is almost seen as theft. If we were to take the wealth of corporations, and put it under the control of the people, we would be violating the property relations of society! There is no doubt to this, as it is my intention to revolutionize the property relations of society. However, there is still the cry that what we are doing is unjust, what we are doing is immoral, what we are doing violates a higher, ethical principle. Some people honestly believe that the words "Laissez Faire" truly exist on some stone tablet in heaven (an opinion which I must admit is quite frightening). "Why should anybody have the right to touch the property of anyone else?" it is asked of us, "Why should the people have any right to touch, to manipulate, to control, to operate, or to possess the means of production, which is the legal property of investors and entrepreneurs today?" These questions, I shall here answer.
2 - Serf to Lord
Prior to the rise of Capitalism and free trade, the belief that individuals are allowed to trade their commodities and goods with minimal restriction, there was the system of Feudalism, or what most historians regard as Manorialism. Feudalism was a term adopted by the French revolutionaries to classify those they opposed. It was believed in that day that serfs belonged to the land, and the land belonged to a vassal and a lord, who in turn had to face others in the hierarchy. The difference between a slave and a serf was not all that enormous. However, the brutality that was displayed against slaves in the Americas was probably much more common than the brutality given towards the serfs. The serfs, while they were considered to a large extent the property of their lords, were still somewhat free. Food was more common and work was not, to my understanding, as brutish as it would be for the African slaves. It is believed by most historians that the system of Feudalism (or Manorialism) arose after the fall of the Roman Empire, with slaves living on large estates with their masters. These were the property relations of this feudal society.
Anyone who saw the misery, the absolute wretched poverty, the injustice of this system, would come to the conclusion that there was a time limit on Feudalism. The day would come when these property relations, and the government (the force) that supports them, would be smashed into oblivion. Of course, those who predicted this believed in some form of posivitism, believing that the course of mankind would -- through successive generations -- become more humane, more rational, and more gentle and kind in its manifestations. Just as we see so much support of slavery when reading the Law of Hammurabi or Torah, we felt that such oppressive chains must be destroyed. And, so too, when we look at the feudal society, we feel that it could not last. In good time, enough men of boldness, enough men of courage, would gather, organize, and some would sacrifice their lives and their liberty, that the rest of society may breathe freely.
If we were to offer these arguments, though, to a Feudalist, to a vassal or a lord or a king of this era, the arguments we would receive would be plentiful. We might be told that a lord has the right to tell his serfs whatever he wants them to do, because it creates prosperity and wealth for society. Among these arguments, we might hear the same claim that has supported every brutal and vicious movement, the argument that god condones what is going on -- essentially, the argument that only the kings and the lords and the knights and the vassals have the ear of god, and the peasants, the poor, and the oppressed are deaf towards any sense of justice. But, among these arguments, we will hear something else: the lords of the manor have the right to do what they like to the serfs, because it is their right to property that they are exercising. It is the property relations of that society which allow this.
We would look at these arguments, with a few drops of suspicion, a bit of disgust, and ultimately, with a fervent zeal that what these men were telling us was lies. If we were to imagine the toils and the labors of the serf class, we see essentially a group of people with few rights. Many of them, for a great deal of time, believed that the way things were are simply the ways things will always be -- a traditional argument of tradition. But, no, the state of things in Feudalist society are as unbearable as they are without any regard for justice, honor, or truth. We firmly believe in our hearts that every man has the right to leave any piece of land, that they must be in control of their own lives and their own destiny. Any argument that claims they should be tied to land, that they should be chained to a master, is an argument for injustice and cruelty.
In what argument, though, are we defending the rights of the serfs against the rights of the lords? Very bluntly, very simply, the argument that we are proposing is one on behalf of justice. We believe that each and every person should be endowed to the same rights and privileges. A person cannot be born into the position of a lord or vassal, nor can someone be born into the oppressive situation of the serf. Each and every man has faculties of thought, of suffering, of happiness, of sympathy, of consideration, of responsibility, and with these faculties, each person should be allowed their rights, their freedoms, and their liberty. With these as our arguments, we support the serf's right to no longer be a serf, but to be a citizen, on an equal footing with a vassal, who is no longer a vassal but just a citizen. We believe that the property relations of the feudal state were without justice. Those who agree with me have, effectively, agreed with revolutionizing the property relations of society.
3 - Slave to Master
Slavery is a cruel, brutish system which has existed from the dawn of time and still exists today. The ancient Sumerians believed and practiced slavery, as much as any ancient culture did. It was common practice that once a tribe conquered another tribe in warfare, the conquered became the slaves of the conqueror. So it seems that war is sparked by the darker side of human passion, it endures through a cruel instinct, and it results with an unrestricted savagery on behalf of greed. Even today, nations that are conquered by other nations do not impose a slavery on the conquered peoples, but a form of Imperialism and economic exploitation through mercantilism. The Roman Empire practiced a form of slavery between natural born Romans and those who have no relatives from the country. Several centuries ago, slavery existed in the United States, but it was a form of racial slavery, of one race owning another race. Slavery, in all of its forms, in the various regions and cultures and nations that it was practiced in, always differed. In some cases, it was a difference between class, as it was in Sumer, or it was a difference between race, as it was in the United States In some cases, the slaves were allowed some form of advancement in society. Even in the United States, slaves were allowed to sell their goods, and use their money to buy their freedom, though this was susceptible to corruption by slavers. I think I can confidently say that there has never been a nation that has not had slavery, except perhaps with very few and very rare examples. Even today slavery still exists in third world, Asian nations that are under the control of a military coup.
The property relations of a society that uses slavery are not that far from the property relations of a feudal society. There is a separation of classes. One class is subservient and another class is oppressive and in control. The serfs in the feudal society were the oppressed, just as slaves in a slave society were the oppressed. The difference is not all that great. In fact, one might argue that the primary difference between these society is the terms and the culture or tradition that exist with them -- and those who argue for this are basically correct.
Since many people in America today are descended from slaves, but are now free citizens, our society looks upon slavery as perhaps one of the most evil institutions. The rights of masters over slaves was perhaps much greater than the rights of lords over serfs. We have read and heard so many stories of slaves in the south being beaten, abused, raped, sold from their families, and exploited. We have read the testimony of Frederick Douglass with watered eyes and a deep heart. It seems that the more we learn about the culture of a slave nation, the more we detest it, the more resentful we become of it, the more our hearts fill with passion to liberate the oppressed and vengeance to punish those who committed these crimes. I feel that it is quite unnecessary to defend Abolitionism or to argue for the end of slavery in this society. The reasons that I could offer would simply be ones that are well known to a people and a society that are familiar with the cruelty of this brutish and savaged institution.
I believe that the reason why we detest and abhor slavery is the same reason why we rejected Feudalism as an oppressive, cruel system. In both systems, there is a class of individuals who are treated poorly, who spend the entirety of their lives in the chains of poverty, and are given no right to determine their own destiny. The lords of the manor had a relationship with their serfs that was not entirely unlike the masters with their slaves. We believed in liberating serfs because they are conscious individuals, they have pains and sufferings, they are capable of thought and emotion. Their minds are not at all different than those who govern them, so we must say this: every person must be justly recognized as an independent entity, allowed their own rights, their own liberties. And, so, too, this is our response to the system of slavery: the master must be demoted, the slave must be promoted, so that they may look eye to eye, as citizens, deserving of freedom, deserving of rights. Perhaps one day, when the oppressive systems that have been imposed on man by man have been destroyed, all men can look at each other as kin, and they can view all animals as brothers and sisters in different forms -- perhaps, if the flame of liberation continues to grow and expand, if we still feel hope when we grab our chests, then one day, all men and women will regard each other as countrymen.
Yet, there is still something that must be realized in this. When we are crushing the chains that have kept serfs to land and slaves to masters, when we are telling each person that they are free to do as their heart feels and as their mind thinks, we are engaging in revolutionary activity. In the slave societies, slaves are considered property. That is the property relations of such a society. By telling slaves that they no longer must answer to a well-dressed savage, we are essentially revolutionizing the property relations of such a society. This is no mere small reform. We are not limiting the physical abuse that a slave may be forced to endure. We are not limiting the hours a week that a master can push his slaves. To completely overthrow the system of slavery, we are becoming revolutionaries. Thusfar, we have two instances where we felt that it was necessary to completely crush, destroy, and completely rewrite the property relations of society.
4 - Woman to Man
Women were afforded the right to vote in the United States in the year 1920. Yet, even after this date, women still had to fight the evils of Sexism. Even though they were awarded the right to vote, they still were paid unequally and treated by society unfairly. How Sexism has managed to survive for so long, until the agitation of 60's and 70's Feminists, seems to us so difficult. As humane and gentle thinkers, we look to Sexism and we see women who are treated poorly, who are given fewer rights than men; we see women being treated like second class citizens in a society that they are responsible for helping to build. We flip through the pages of history a few more times, and we are still puzzled. At least, we are still puzzled, until we read the history of other oppressed groups. The serfs were raised and brought up in a world that taught them that, the way things are, is the way things should be. Any reorganization of society would result in complete and utter destruction: starvation, famine, chaos. We read the history of slaves, and even in the early years of Frederick Douglass's life, we read of how he was submissive, taught to believe that his position in life was deserving. With all of this known, when we look towards the rights of women, we can see plainly what may have eluded others. For a long time, for too long, many women believed that their place in life, "in home and hearth," was deserving. When told the traditionalist argument, that the way things have been is the way things should be, they accepted it whole heartedly.
Upon reading these terrible stories, of the oppressed accepting their humiliating and miserable place in society, we want to grab their hands and tell them that they don't deserve what they have. We want to convince them that the liberty they deserve is sacred and beautiful, vibrant and real. We want to convince them to stand up for their rights. As individuals who consider the rest of the world our kin, there is nothing more distressing and bothering than to hear of these cases of the enslaved thinking that they should be enslaved. Again, the argument of tradition reigns. So it happens, that a person's blind faith supercedes their own ability at reason, and this must be intrinsically connected to the misery that comes from their slavery.
In eras gone past, the position of woman has varied considerably. In some societies, such as the Etruscans, women were granted a place in society that was mutual to mankind. In Athens, it seemed that they were more repressed, whereas in Sparta, they were much more free. For a great deal of time, women were treated simply as property, first owned by their father, and then owned by their husband. To think that so many millions of women were forced to endure such brutality is to almost unbelievable. Husbands beating wives to "teach" or "punish" them was considered a just act, as it was considered their property. For a great deal of time, women were not even allowed to legally possess property. The right to divorce, in many cultures and many religions, is a right that has been given strictly to the husband alone and not to the wife. In our modern world, wives who decide to be housemakers are entitled, legally, to some of the income of their husbands. The household is viewed as a two-party system, with the wife as a homemaker and the husband as the worker. While I would not want this situation with any lover, I must say that for those women who want to live as homemakers, their rights are defended by their right to some of their husband's income. In times past, this right was completely nonexistent. This is the way that so many civilizations of the past have existed, the way their culture developed. In every part of the world, just as we can find some roots of slavery, we can find the roots of Sexism.
The spirit of revolt would fill the spirit of the slave as much as it did the serf. Every person is a thinking, conscious being, capable of the learning, feeling, suffering, and loving. Every slave has these very basic aspects of their physiology. Once their mind awakened to the injustice that was given to them, their hearts opened to the hope of liberation. Serf and slave alike did what they could as independent agents of society to overthrow the current status quo. So, too, we read the history of women's liberation. Mary Wollstonecraft defended the rights of women as equal to the rights of mankind. As early as the 1800's, John Stuart Mill and Emma Goldman worked as "radical Feminists," preaching the revolutionary idea that woman should be treated not as subordinantes, but as equals -- not as slaves, but as citizens. In this new society, with the property relations completely reorganized, women could expect the same out of men. In love affairs, a woman today governs herself and her own body; she is no longer the slave of a tyrant of a father, nor the property of a cruel and thoughtless husband. As mothers and daughters, lovers and sisters, women today can feel free, as their position in society is something that they are allowed to control.
So, the votes of all humane thinkers today are unanimous: Sexism must be eliminated. Every woman must have rights that are equal to any man. No longer must we go through life thinking that a person can be forced to endure misery because of the gender that they had no decision in choosing. In doing this, we are -- like every other case -- not just reforming, but totally revolutionizing the property relations of society. As it was a society of men who believed that women were simply a form of property, by destroying this belief and creating a system where no human person is property, we are reorganizing society. Not only that, but we are rewriting the rules of the property relations in society. By granting women the rights that men have long afforded themselves, we are taking a step that is not much different than the serf attaining liberty, or the slave destroying his master. Once again, our defense of justice comes by actively revolutionizing society's conception of property relations. No longer would women ever be viewed as pieces of property.
5 - Animal to Human
It is my fortunate pleasure to inform my reader that the previous reforms have been successful, that their results have created a rich culture and have nurtured the spirit of liberty. Yet here we approach an area that has had little to no improvement at all. It is here that I speak of the rights and liberties of animal life. So many societies today have accepted the disgusting, crude, and ruthless idea that animals can exist in one form: as the property of mankind. This opinion that is held of the lower creatures of earth is one that I must oppose, as much as I oppose sexism, racism, or slavery.
Why do I support the rights of animals, primarily their right to life and liberty? For the same reason that I support the rights of woman to be treated equally, the rights of slaves to become free citizens. They are conscious, they are endowed with the capability of thought. They have nerves in their bodies that are identical to the nerves in our bodies. Too much heat will render them in pain and misery, just as too much cold will. When their bodies are damaged, or cut, or bruised, it gives them pain, and they express this pain, and their closest of kin in the animal world sympathizes with them. Just like any human being, an animal can feel misery, can feel pleasure, can feel the impulses of want, suffering, loneliness, happiness, lust. Those very delicate and gentle parts of our psyche that we have considered for so long to be what made us unique, actually, are in a fully developed state in the other animals of the planet. Rather than diminish the value of this quality, it actually surprises us with some beautiful and amazing truth: that these billions of animals all around the world are capable of culture, of understanding each other, of empathy and those characteristics of charity that we once only thought human. But, just as soon as we take in this fact, we are attacked with another observation: these animals, who are just as capable of thought and emotion as any human being, are being killed by the billions every year, on the plate, in the laboratory, in the crosshairs of a gun, in the fishing nets of ships... So it happens, that we believe in the rights of animals, and oppose every form of animal exploitation, whether it is the eating of flesh food, or the purchasing of products tested on animals.
I am not naive, and am quite aware that most of America, most of the modern world, is opposed to these ideals of Vegetarianism. This can hardly be used as an argument against me, for most of the world has harbored slavery at one point in time, and the roots of sexism have taken hold at least in every region once. The fact that serfdom was common in Europe does not defend the idea of Feudalism. In fact, it makes it all that much more appalling. I'm sure I will be told of the differences of mankind and animals. The other creatures of the world are given fins, paws, and claws instead of hands. Some breath with gills and are scaled. Some howl, some screatch, some scream, some are mute. Some show signs of high culture while others show just the smallest and most simple signs of communication. Intelligence might vary from highly articulate to basic. Yes, I admit that these differences exist, but I am not making any plea to simply sidestep these differences. Men and women differ. But, no Feminist ever said, "Ignore the the differences of the male and female body -- pretend they do not exist." No, these differences must be embraced, just like the differences between the white and black humans must be embraced. These differences cannot be used as arguments against us. These differences are irrelevant! Regardless of skin color or quantity of legs, all animals are capable of thought, emotion, and sympathy. Yes, so, they must be granted the rights that we have granted all humans.
If we, as a society, are to eliminate the great cruelty and brutality that is being committed upon animalkind, then we would be taking a step not unlike the Feminists attacking sexism, not unlike the Abolitionists destroying slavery. We would be liberating an oppressed class that was just as deserving of the rights to life and liberty as any other. With the liberation of this downtrodden class of individuals, tens of billions of them, we would be enacting a revolution that granted freedom and rights to the most amount of oppressed creatures. Yet, by doing this, by allowing each creature its rights and its liberty, by saying that we will not judge on physical appearance but by one's character, we are in fact changing the property relations of society. For so long, the organisms of the world are considered merely the property of mankind. By recognizing them as independents, we are shattering the property relations that exist in our society, since we no longer recognize them as property. It is a matter of justice, of truth, of a gentle and humane ethic.
6 - Worker to Boss
Once the fetters of Feudalism were destroyed by the hands of liberty, a new system would develop. It would be the system of Free Trade and Capitalism. It endowed each and every person the right to do with their property what they would like. Prior to the development of highly advanced machinery and manufacturing plants, this system have some effective value in eliminating the misery of the people and granting the people some rights. However, once the means of production became concentrated in factories and farms, and were in the hands of a few elite, the problems of the old world would rise again. And this time, with much more ferocity. Cities would become overpopulated and unsanitary, working conditions would become unsafe and dangerous, and the people would continuously be told: work hard today, because heaven awaits you tomorrow. At this moment, we are in a world that is enveloped in Free Trade policy. Yet, even with this policy, misery abounds. The ghetto is full of poor people who have no reason to think that they can advance in life. The minimum wage laws that exist do not even meet the poverty levels. A person could be working a full time job, and still be homeless. And yet, our economic organization is that of Free Trade, something that seemed to liberate us once, now it only burdens us. Those who defend Free Trade argue that the reason why poverty exists is because there is not enough Free Trade! What an absurdity! These economists sound like physicians from the 1600's, letting the blood of their patients. When their patient dies a miserable death, they say, "It is because we did not let their blood enough."
There is no doubt that the laborers, the workers, the proletariat of the world have come under attack by the daemons of the elite class. Such a fact is as indisputable as it is well known. For so long, the state and the Capitalist class were one and the same. Needless to say, laws were enacted that prevented workers from defending themselves. When workers organized into unions, they were immediately arrested, many of them imprisoned for decades, denied the right to a public hearing. It was this combination, these laborers working together to secure their own interests, that greatly upset the elites of society. They thought, "When people come together to work for themselves and each other, society will collapse, we will lose power, and our lives will become miserable and wretched." Like any dying beast, struggling to survive, the Capitalists lashed out. But, just as we saw the pillars of sexism, racism, and Feudalism come crashing down, so too would the Capitalist nightmare of perpetual misery. Today, the laws reflect the opinion of the laboring class stronger than the deceit of the workless Capitalists. It was once illegal for workers to form unions, but now it has been legalized. It was once commonplace to force laborers to stay inside of unventilated, hazardous work places, with their lives threatened every moment. We have, again and again and again, made our assault on the system of Free Trade. Any economic system that allows for children to starve on a daily basis and workplaces to threaten the lives of workers is an unjust economic system.
Unlike the rights of the animals, there has been some great and progressive reforms made on behalf of the workers. For some time, there has been a minimum wage law, a law requiring overtime pay, anti-discrimination laws, anti-harassment laws, and other laws that not only allow for, but foster the independent development of unions. For a great deal of time, something that was considered unpatriotic, opposed to the common good, and otherwise inherently violent, is now considered a part of our national pride. And, of course, I am speaking of unions here, the combinations of working men and women. By working together to secure our own interests, unions have been able to eliminate child labor, to increase wages, to improve working conditions. The argument of the working has been, and always will be, this: "I am the worker. I produce the wealth of the world. As the one who creates these products of society, I feel that it is a matter of justice, that I am rewarded with what I create." To say that a worker should work and only be paid what is needed to live, is no different than to hold a human being as a slave with chains, or to require a woman to submit to a man's will, or to demand that a person accept the position of a serf.
Yet, with all of these reforms that have come in the system of Free Trade, there are still many of us who are dissatisfied. People all over the world are starving. But, when we look to our land, what is it that we see? We see lands that are left uncultivated and untouched. We see so many people unemployed, starving, and without anything in their lives but loved ones. Yet, no Capitalist has ever put them to work on these empty fields. Homelessness becomes a growing problem as millions fall into the clutches of poverty. Yet, it is illegal to sleep in abandoned buildings that have no use. There is a large amount of poor people, and yet there is a large amount of untouched land and untouched buildings. Capitalists don't feel enough motivation to develop the land and feed the starving children. No, they do not have any interest in it. Perhaps they feel they are "wealthy enough," or that "society can fend for its own." Whatever the reason for allowing these people to live in poverty, the Capitalist class orders the employed to build castles and palaces while a great portion of society cannot afford food to feed themselves! No matter how we look at it, we are living in a system that fosters perpetual poverty and misery.
As workers of the world, we are entitled to the property that we produce. It is a matter of justice, not one of charity. It is a matter of what is right, not a question of good will or generosity. By the just principles of humanity, we feel that the land must be the common property of mankind. No longer should the right to work, to feed ourselves, to clothe and house ourselves, remain in the hands of a few elite members of society. The farms, the factories, the mines, and all the productive properties of mankind must become public property, no different than the roads, the railways, or the highways. Such an ideology, such a belief on the reorganization of society and mankind, has been called Socialism, or Communism. Whether or not these terms fit, is irrelevant. I support this idea. Call it Communism. Call it Socialism. Call it planned economy. It is irrelevant. I want the productive property of the world to be recognized as owned and operated by every person. The arguments advanced against such a theory are no different than those arguments against abolitionism or sexism. They will say that it is tradition for the worker to be in an oppressed situation, that the workers are inherently thoughtless and stupid. But, just as we didn't listen to these arguments when they defended sexism, we will not listen to them when they defend capitalism.
I can hardly think of any educated person who would look to these progressive reforms as putting new chains on the hands of the people, as an attack on the spirit of liberty. Yet, when we look at the essential parts of this reform, it is in fact a revolution. Particularly, it is a revolution in property relations. We are taking the means of production from the hands of a few, and placing them into the hands of all. No longer will unemployment be caused by the megacorporations lack of interest in investment. No longer will poverty wrack the ghetto and attack children. But, we must accept this one fact: by enacting this reform, by creating Socialism, or Communism, or whatever you like to call it, we are revolutionizing the property relations of society. We are doing this on a call from justice. And, we are entitled to make this revolution, just as the serfs who valiantly opposed their lords, or the slaves who ran away from masters, or the women who demanded their right ot be heard. Every revolution of property relations in the past was based on the demands of justice, on the pleas for fairness and equity in society. So, too, this Communist revolution is based on revolutionizing the property relations of the collective of men and women.
7 - Ruled to Ruler
The thinkers of the world who have openly adhered to the principles of kindness, truth, courage, and equity have done their best to eliminate oppressive relationships. By destroying the chains and tearing down the walls, they helped to liberate the downtrodden. In doing so, we have crushed the property relations of previous societies and allowed a little bit of hope and freedom into the lives of those people. Yet, there is still one last field that I have left untouched in this writing. I have not touched upon the relationship between the ruled and the ruler. It is here that there has been so much discussion, so much argument, so much dedication and zeal. The political philosophers of every era have offered their ideas and their observations on this matter. They have suggested reforms, some progressive, others regressive, while many still defended the status quo of their own era. I must admit, that I am somewhat pleased with the influence that certain philosophers have had. While Thomas Hobbes set up a system that allowed for the growth of Fascism and Totalitarianism, Thomas Paine set up a system that maintained that the people were the direct source of power for the government. Other political philosophers offered similar ideas, arguing that a people have the right to overthrow an unjust government. It is fortunate that those nations based on Fascism have tumbled, for the most part. While it is true that our own American government is based on the principles of just philosophers, our government is still tinged with the brutality of Fascism.
When we look to eras that are gone and past, and try to feel what it must have been like to live one hundred, two hundred, five hundred or even one thousand years ago, there is one brooding institution that we discovery. It is the institution of government. For too long, government has existed to keep the elites of society in power and to keep everyone else as a second-class citizen, with fewer rights, with fewer liberties, living in a system that was made to oppress them. Only by looking into the past can we see the mechanics of those previous governments. Monarchs and dictators, who had to answer to nobody. They murdered their people, tortured political opponents, and created a reign of fear. The people who have inhabited this land for generations and generations were not allowed the one right that we hold today as indispensable: the right to control their own lives and govern themselves. Political autonomy, the belief that a people have the right to be the ones to decide the policies and laws that regulate their life, was a belief that was advanced by every person who held liberation as the greatest act and believed that revolt was the greatest merit of any citizen. Philosophers taught the people that they must be in control of their own lives while revolutionaries took those ideas to the state and demanded their rights.
It is something very terrible to imagine. The society that you live in, you have no control over it. You cannot say what laws should be enforced, what laws shouldn't be enforced. You cannot bring discrepancies of justice to others. You cannot publicly defend any of your rights to those around you. Not only does this apply to you in a dictatorship, but it applies to everyone who is not the dictator. Revolution becomes the most obvious idea to any person who has a heart and mind, but then there is a great opposition to the freedom movement. There are tens of thousands of soldiers who are defending the rule of this dictator, carrying out his orders against their own brothers and sisters. They have the guns, but they don't have the numbers. We immediately believe this, until we see the massive programs of the government to convince the people that what they do is right. The dictator is hailed as the liberator of the people, and nothing else, because any newspaper that publishes even a slightly divergent opinion is arrested, destroyed, attacked. As propaganda flows through the streets and breaths in the air, the people become convinced that they are liberated by the dictator. They become convinced that everything they are told is true, because they cannot find a history book that would tell them anything different. The people become depressed and hopeless, as they must look around their terrible conditions. And they start to believe, that nothing will ever change, as their brothers join the armed forces, as their sisters defend the government with an ignorant smile. We have here the horrifying reality of a police state. Rulers treat their subjects like property, because they believed they were simply property.
The idea of political autonomy, as many of us today believe, is that the people have the right to govern their own lives, that it is each and every person who must have a say in the matters of social organization. The society of mankind is made up of many parts, each part a single person, a citizen. And each citizen of this combination of men and women has their own interests, their own desires, their own concerns, their own ideals, their own thoughts. Since we are all mutually necessary to each other in this system, in this collection of men, and since we aid each other as a society of brothers ought to, then every person in this collective must be allowed the right to determine the path of the whole. Every person, living a society, is granted the ability by their own sense to see society for themselves. Similarly, by every person's own endowment of sympathy, of understanding, of concern and care for others, every person wants to have the right to choose the path that society is running on. Whether crime, unemployment, environmental damage, war, drought, famine, or other natural disasters are attacking society, it is something that the people enduring these things must be allowed to speak about, to tell to others, and then -- with the collective ability of others -- help to eliminate these social ills.
This ideal of political autonomy has largely been accepted. Those who oppose it include Fascists and Totalitarians, but their numbers are dwindling still. There has been some progress for political autonomy, but it has been poor and sluggish. We have erected a republic. Our leaders are elected, not born into place. But even this system of a republic is still extremely ineffective. Leaders are prone to corruption and they follow their own interests. A ruler is a ruler, elected or not. For this reason, we will always have war, poverty, and misery in society. As a people, we do not want to elect a person -- we want to vote for an idea! We must have a Democracy, where each person is allowed to choose the laws that are enacted. Above all, we must have a leaderless society, where each person is as much a citizen as they are a king. This may be called a system of Anarchy. Call it whatever word you like. It is a system that I am proposing and suggesting. Only through a rulerless society will we have a society where each person is truly allowed to voice their opinion and govern the combination of mankind.
However, as we are inclined, as free men, towards the ideal of Anarchism, so it is that we are also destroying the property relations of society. No longer will any ruler be able to treat his subjects as forms of property, which is the essential premise of any form of government. We are Anarchists, because we believe in overthrowing the current property relations of society. So long as an oppressed class exists, we must work to overthrow it. So much as we are Anarchists, we are also Communists. These two ideologies are intrinsically connected. Anarchy argues that we should never be ruled by a king, just as Communism argues that we should never be ruled by a CEO. Both are liberating ideologies, mutually necessary to each other if we are ever to accomplish a lasting revolution. If we are without a ruler, we will still be under the threat of starvation by others. If we are without a Capitalist class, we will still be under the unjust rule of a leader. Just as we have in the past, today we must cut these chains. We must overthrow the property relations of society, that no person must suffer the brutish effects of a slavery.
"It is not charity but a right, not bounty but justice, that I am pleading for. The present state of civilization is as odious as it is unjust. It is absolutely the opposite of what it should be, and it is necessary that a revolution should be made in it. The contrast of affluence and wretchedness continually meeting and offending the eye, is like dead and living bodies chained together."
-- Thomas Paine, "Agrarian Justice"
A better world is possible...
Copyright © 1995 - Photius Coutsoukis (All Rights Reserved).
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