You can’t have supporters of capitalism in the legislature of a truly democratic government.
Big mindblower. Allow me to explain.
Life is a Paradox
Paradox doesn’t have to mean that the universe is fundamentally at odds with itself.
It just means things happen that go outside our normal rules or expectations. Exceptions occur, and must be handled. “Para-dox” means outside the norm.
We’ve all heard of the tolerance paradox. It’s unfortunately at least partially valid.
Why? Because you really can’t have Nazis and neo-Confederates just running around organizing openly.
It’s too directly damaging to the lives of the people they target. Given that there is a 1:1 relationship between Nazis/white nationalism and direct hate crime organizing, it is what it is.
You can’t always give free speech and assembly to fascists who would take it from literally everyone, and take the lives of their chosen scapegoats.
But the marginal bootlickers of the alt-right are not the main power in society.
Past American Purges
The first Purge in America was the American Revolution.
It wasn’t all nice. We didn’t just secede from the British. Roving mobs with torches would physically beat any Loyalists off the streets, and set the houses of prominent Tories on fire. Britain take note.
That’s pretty Purge-y. Not quite French, but you can see the stirrings.
Then there was the Civil War. Confederates were naturally purged from Congress for literally taking up arms against the government. Congress is so terrible that this was an actual debate instead of immediate and obvious.
After the war, some places enforced the Ironclad Oath, arguably one of the most important and progressive policies in human history, but shot down. Southern Democrats were only permitted to be seated upon a loyalty oath which stated they had never risen up against the Union. This effectively barred any former Confederate officers or soldiers from being in the government. Lincoln opposed and even vetoed the Ironclad Oath in certain contexts. His mistake. Arguably much of America’s current racial problems result from insufficient political purging against former Confederates after the Civil War.
Impeachment is a type of political purge, one of the most moderate and harmless. We’ve done it before. Not irrelevant at the moment.
Mccarthyism was a purge of political exclusion. Obviously as a socialist, McCarthyism is my least favorite of these. I have to admit, however, that McCarthyism was primarily aimed at Stalinism, which I consider a legitimate target for exclusion from government.
We just need McCarthyism against capitalism too.
And that is the anticapitalist tolerance paradox.
Socialist Representative Democracy
I’ve already written on this, but to resummarize:
Capitalism isn’t democratic.
It involves extreme material inequalities which render all formal democracy invalid.
There can be no democracy between two materially unequal parties, only a charade of it.
That’s the situation between the 1% and the 99%.
The only true democracy is democratic socialism.
(If you don’t have the democratic in front of the socialism, that’s not democracy either, or socialism.)
Don’t even expect to get democratic socialism through elections, but revolution.
Bernie will redistribute some wealth, but he’ll never be allowed to redistribute as much as we wants, nor implement the deep politico-economic restructuring necessary to make the redistribution permanent.
Therefore, a truly democratic society needs a legislature based on democratic socialism, where the only accepted window of opinion within the legislature are only those differences within democratic socialism.
That seems really restrictive, in terms of ideology. But the important thing is the material reality. Democracy is worth fighting for, and it’s only real if it has full material and economic equality. Only democratic socialism provides that, on any kind of complete or permanent basis.
Again: the only true democracy is democratic socialism.
That means our current system is not a democracy.
That means elections aren’t enough. Revolution for full politico-economic restructuring is required.
Leninism?: Taking the Logic Too Far
For every rule, there’s always someone who abuses it.
Leninists wouldn’t even share power with other socialists, and they consistently don’t.
It’s not just because they’re the embattled, isolated true revolutionaries, as they conceive themselves.
It’s because they can’t let go of their fixation on “dictatorship of the proletariat.” While this term originated with Marx, during a time when it meant something more like “government by the people,” the etymological meaning of dictatorship transitioned from “one side in charge” to its modern meaning of literal one-person rule.
A lot of Leninists will deny that one-person rule is ever even a material possibility. They pretend that every dictator really rests on a ruling class.
That’s true, but the relationship between the king and his court is reflected between the court and society. Terrorized internal regimes usually terrorize the people. This difference doesn’t just matter, it’s vital.
Some dictators truly do terrorize everyone, even in the upper echelons of their own regime. A lot of these regimes aren’t so unstable as you’d hope. They’re got continuous personnel rotation and purging down to a science. They build multiple domestic surveillance agencies, and have them watch each other.
Even the internal regime feels like it’s being watched, because it is! Saddam Hussein was a master at staying above the power games by continuously killing his staff and replacing them with people who were too new to ever organize against him. Dictatorship is a material reality. It’s a type of government. It’s the worst one, it’s anti-Marxist, and Leninists who play with the word “dictatorship” need to reflect.
If someone says there’s no such thing as one-person dictatorship, it might be because they consciously or unconsciously support that precise thing.
That would be Leninism. It believes itself democratic, but its practice is always the opposite.
Venezuela is a great example. It’s important to remind people Venezuela was never socialist.
Purge in Moderation: Cromwell, not Robespierre
Cromwell was a Puritan who was so badass he inspired the character of Lucifer in Milton’s Paradise Lost. Our idea of Lucifer as an angel rebelling against God was actually inspired by Cromwell. The “war between heaven and hell” was a stand-in for the English Civil War between Parliament and the King. As the inspiration of Lucifer, he is also indirectly the inspiration of Batman.
Like Batman, and even Lucifer as a rebelling servant of God, Cromwell enforced the rules so hard it broke the rules and started a rebellion.
We may need to behead a few kings, but we don’t need wanton repression.
Cromwell is the Hero of Time because he knew how to purge in moderation. He fought a revolutionary war, beheaded a king, and stopped the killing there.
Purging in moderation is among the rarest of skills. Politically, it is the most vital.
If you don’t purge in moderation, you’ll be seen as unethical, and no purge will even be permitted.
If you don’t purge at all, oppressive governments remain in power. Purge in moderation.
There is a whole field of study regarding what to do with the staff of overthrown dictatorships, oligarchies, and one-party states, after revolutions. Some helpful works:
- From Dictatorship to Democracy, by Gene Sharp (Rest In Power)
- The Haunted Land: Facing Europe’s Ghosts After Communism, by Tina Rosenberg
- Coup D’etat: A Practical Handbook, by Edward Luttwak
- The anticapitalist tolerance paradox itself is inspired by Revolutionary Strategy, by Mike Macnair
We will have to answer the same exact questions about capitalism: what do we do with the overthrown Congresspeople, what to do with the super-wealthy, what to do with the corporate upper management, and what to do with the former two-party system apparatchiks.
Every revolution necessitates a purge. Many of the staff of the old system were the beneficiaries of its oppression, and the most deeply ideologically invested in the belief system upholding that old system.
But purges don’t always have to be lethal, or even violent. Political exclusion is a nonviolent purge.
Remember Cromwell: purge in moderation.
They don’t have to be killed, but most will certainly have to be excluded from power. If they continue working in their same area, it will have to be on a strict understanding that power relations and the organization chart have transformed dramatically.
You depose the super-wealthy by taking their money. Nationalizing the banks makes it easy. A $10 million wealth cap starts things in the right direction. Then we can work down to giving everyone the equal net worth of $343,000. Wouldn’t it be nice to have $300K? I’d love to.
You depose corporate upper management through worker occupations and takeovers in the workplace. Alternately, a new government could simply grant control to the workforce by passing a law. (I think the second is more likely.)
Preferably, you depose Congresspeople by building a democratic socialist parallel government, organizing protest in favor of it, and asking government agencies to transfer their political affiliations from Congress to the parallel government. As agencies defect, Congress then becomes a defunct body with no power.
That’s the most peaceful revolution imaginable, which actually still counts as a real revolution, as opposed to being just another awareness campaign or election machine branding itself a “revolution.” It doesn’t always work, but it’s always try it first. This also takes care of the two-party system.
You could depose Congresspeople by building a democratic socialist parallel government, building mass protest in favor of it, briefly placing Congress under house arrest with the help of sympathizing police, soldiers, and protesters, and then preventing Congress from reconvening. That’s the Cromwell method for legislatures (an axe for the kings). This reserved for situations in which Congress has authorized lethal force against protesters, or something comparable. Let’s hope we don’t need to go there.
Either way, they can’t work in government anymore.
Keep it Ironclad.
In death, a punk has a name.
Their name is Oliver Cromwell.
Reincarnate him a few millennia later, give him some power armor, and he becomes familiar.
Death to the High Lords of Terra, who corrupt the Emperor’s teachings!
Let us drink to the health of the Emperor, whom we know is just a man…
…a man at war with the aristocracy in every incarnation. Long live the revolution.