Rethinking the state: The Synergistic System

Community cannot continue to be “side-lined”, that is, in the current system community is an afterthought; it comes second behind the omnipotent industry. People go to work, they come home, they tend to chores and loved ones and engage in “leisure”. But this is leisure in an extremely narrow sense. This is leisure shaved from the sides of the bulky block of industry.

As populations grow and as wealth increases it is becoming especially clear that there are some problems within our current system and the industry within it. These problems, for the most part, are nothing new. Karl Marx foresaw them (in a way) and many late “comrades” and anarchists have attempted to do away with them once and for all, either by directing their attention to class struggle and dynamics or by seeking to overthrow the infamous “state”. But all of these well-intentioned individuals were mis-oriented in a sense. To isolate the state and to view all aspects of our system in terms of it is fundamentally dangerous. Let’s elaborate.

It can be said that under the blanket of the “state”, both industry and community fall. Industry, by nature of the intrinsic forces and historical development of capitalism, currently plays the larger role. Industry provides the momentum of the “masses”, so to speak. Therefore, industry with lack of community is tolerable; society is kept moving along, however miserably. And community with lack of industry in the “modern” day is decidedly tragic. But few it seems, have stopped and considered the exact nature of both industry’s and community’s relationship to the state. Our late comrades (Karl Marx included) viewed capitalism, at its base level, as a system in which private ownership of industry eroded the community as a whole and the well-being of the proletariat. The only way to detach this leech of private ownership and to restore the health of the overall community was to endow the state with special industrial and communal dominion (the result of the abolition of private ownership). Yet, however “free” the community seemed to be after this endowment of the state, it still remained imprisoned by industry. To elaborate, let’s take a look at the historical relation between industry and community. For the majority of civilization’s history, industry and community were essentially intertwined. In the Feudal system for instance, community was very isolated and static. The “web” of trade was instead a single strand, running from the Fiefs on one end to the Lords on the other. An important point to be made is that industry in these times, however closely coupled with community it was, was not at a state yet capable of “imprisoning” community. Community and industry in this age were simply one and the same, not yet of sufficient structure and complexity to give rise to any direct animosity or erosion among one another. Later, as humans progressed into capitalistic form, the newly formed “industry”, essentially as it it conceived of and functions today, began constructing a wall around its newly discovered territory, community. Due to industry’s intrinsic societal “momentum”, its creation of wealth and many forms commonly conceived of as “progress”, it quickly and persuasively staked its claim on community. Yet that isn’t to say that community was or is in any way entirely non-functional or “dead”, rather it had been warped and caged, “fetishized”, as Marx would have said and fashioned into a commoditized cell of the state. But the blame for this imprisonment oddly enough falls neither on the inmate, community, nor on its ultimate “law”, the state. Rather it falls solely on the shoulders of the great beast of industry. To carry the metaphor a bit further, it could be said that one (our late comrades) can change the law (the state) but the “beast” of industry, or in this case, its psychopathic, raging, almost demonic possession of the prisoner (community) cannot be quelled. It seems the case that industry, not intrinsically a force of coercion, has bound community and repeatedly threatened to take its life. And though we may still be uncertain of industry’s true intent to “shoot”, the threat is enough to press charges.

So now comes the question of “how?”. If, as it has been seen with the failures of the communist movement, we cannot change or endow the state with greater or different powers, then what can we do and how can we do it? Must we alter industry or is it something deeper? Anarchists advocate abolition of the state, and the “organic” restructuring of industry, but this is fundamentally flawed and would be disastrous. Society would devolve into disparate factions, each vying for the establishment of their own worldview, ultimately crashing into chaos and “mob-rule”. So now what? It seems we have exhausted all our options… doesn’t it? But let’s revisit the nature of what a “state” really is. A state, at its base level, is a system that regulates and controls (and of course gives rise to) both industry and community. Clearly both industry and community have their own respective qualities and benefits, and it’s also just as clear that they must have some some of framework within which to fully operate and complement one another. But we must be conscientious of how this framework is formed; the proper framework must preserve their synergism. Industry helps propel community forward, keeping it “modern” and “prosperous”. And community helps lend a sense of belonging and purpose to the workers in industry. In Marx’s worldview, there was a sort of worker-industry-community casual chain. He believed that the freedom of the individual directly correlated with the nature of that individual’s work, and vice versa. And this is true to a certain extent. But I propose that it is more helpful to think not in terms of such a casual chain of freedom but instead in terms of a synergistic system of freedom.

It can be said that each person has two identities, at base level. Each person is a worker and each person is a member of a community. In the communist system these identities were made to “overlap” in a sense, in that man’s “worker identity” derived its sense of community (or it was supposed to) from the nature of the industry in which it was in. But this is an extremely impoverished version of community. Community is not merely a derivative of labor, rather it is a collage of communal interaction and enjoyment and of creative expression. But how is it possible to separate, or if not to separate, “distance” community from industry? Through the “cyclicalization” of our societal system. I propose that instead of having people’s lives revolve around their work, we shall have work revolve around community and strengthen the industry-community synergy. To be clear, industry shall remain intact, its powerful momentum conserved. But it shall be displaced in a sense, no longer able to envelop its poor victim, community.

Instead of having people work throughout the year, I propose that we instead adopt a system that consists of alternating between periods of “industry” and “community”. So, for example, one may work his “industry” job for four months per year and then spend another four months engaged in “community council” affair and another four enjoying time with his family and traveling, if capable. The system will effectively preserve the synergistic relationship between industry and community, while allowing citizens to walk free of the shackles of industrial enslavement. Now to address the aspect of regulation and control of this system. Instead of a centralized, communal-industrial governing state, I propose two separate bodies of supervision. The first, “The Committee of Industry” or something of the sort will supervise, “safe-guard” and regulate industry. The “safe-guarding” process will entail forms of income regulation, viz. taking care to insure that extreme wealth is not accumulated and that the “capitalistic core” does not overheat. The second body of supervision, “The Community Consulate” and its constituents, “The Community Counsels” or something of the sort, will communicate economic information with The Committee of Industry and determine their respective community delegation and everyday affair.

As a crucial aside, it must be noted that this is not a call for immediate implementation. First and foremost, an acceptance and adoptance of a form of basic income needs to occur. This will help ease the transition into a new society built around increasing free time and community affair. And just as early socialists and Marxists adopted a political strategy of “revolutionary waiting”, that is, waiting for the economic forces to ripen and then rearrange them, we must also employ this strategy. The prime reason for this being the concurrence of an ever rising population and the imminence of automation and the following massive job displacement. Though in Marx’s day automation was a pipe dream and the population was manageable, we are at a point at which our new societal system must take these things into consideration. As anarchist theorists Murray Bookchin wrote, “If man had to acquire the conditions of survival in order to live (as Marx emphasized), now we must acquire the conditions of life in order to survive.” My friends, our time to acquire is nearly here!

What Milo Yiannopoulos and “DisruptJ20” Have in Common

Revolution. Its mention conjures visions of patriotic heroism; of radical protests and wigged white men in knickers. But today, the beginnings of revolution are far less romantic, paling in comparison to the awe-inspiring descriptions of past revolt. No, today it’s not quite patriotic heroism, more like disorderly conduct. And though the protests are radical, they are seen by many as foolish acts, devoid of sense and reason. But, one thing is certain: we are entering an age where cultural identity and growing inequality feed off of one another. It is a powerful synergistic effect that, making appearances in the Bolshevik Revolution and in 18th century France, can topple governments and upend societies. And though it’s not yet knocking on America’s back door, it is walking down her driveway, eyeing its target. We are in an age of widespread¬† cultural disenfranchisement. Economic disenfranchisement that has left America’s working class down-trodden. Political disenfranchisement that has left a large majority of citizens, regardless of creed, leery of their representation in government. Cultural disenfranchisement that has led to the LGBT, Women’s Rights and Black Lives Matter movements. Extremes on both ends are emerging from their intellectual enclaves, from think tanks and internet chat-rooms. From the alt-right to anarchist protestors, America is in the midst of a cultural revolution. And the prime mover of it all: the heated interplay between cultural identity and disenfranchisement.

First off, let me explain what is meant by the term “disenfranchisement”. In everyday language it indicates that a group has lost suffrage or another legal right. In this article however, it will be defined as “a group that has lost trust and/or motivation”. So it can be seen that the “culturally disenfranchised” have lost trust that their culture is appreciated or represented fairly, likewise those who are “politically disenfranchised” have lost trust in the American political system’s ability to represent them adequately.

In the past, cultural identity has been, for the most part, separate from mainstream political affair. And when cultural issues did come into play, as they did during the Civil War era, Women’s Rights and Civil Rights movements, they existed in fundamentally different environments than the one we are in today. In the Civil War era, there were two groups who felt culturally disenfranchised, the slave owners/southerners and the freed slaves. The freed slaves, who had been introduced to the nascent concept of cultural identity, collaborated with abolitionists and envisioned a society in which all men could become culturally enfranchised. While the southerners, not only confronted with the prospect of possible economic disaster but feeling that their own culture was under attack, ironically felt the same pain of cultural disenfranchisement that they had inflicted. Both cultures, seeing no other way of resolution, revolted against the other’s injustice. But although there was cultural strife, and there was revolution, there was simply little economic inequality and certainly no “forgotten class” like there is today. In both the Women’s Rights movement and Civil Rights movements, there was only one main culturally disenfranchised group, women and African Americans respectively. But although there was considerable opposition to these movements, the opposing groups felt sufficiently economically, culturally and politically enfranchised to render large-scale revolt unnecessary.

Enter present day America. There are two culturally disenfranchised groups, one large economically disenfranchised group and a pervasive, virulently spreading specter of political disenfranchisement. Amongst the culturally disenfranchised, the far-right exhibits the likes of the emerging alt-right movement and the raconteur Breitbart senior editor Milo Yiannopoulos. The far-left hosts those behind the DisruptJ20 movement and various anarchist groups, also including those taking part in the Berkley protests. On the far-left end of the spectrum, members are deeply attuned to the voiced cultural disenfranchisement of the LGBT, Women’s Rights and Black Lives Matter movements, many of them members of these movements themselves. On the far-right end, members are either indifferent to this aforementioned disenfranchisement or against it, feeling that it takes away from their own cultural enfranchisement. It is this reciprocal feeling of disenfranchisement that pits the two against one another.

Available in both the extreme (alt-right, DisruptJ20) and the garden variety (working class), Economic disenfranchisement is partisan-blind. It is a wide-spread sentiment and something that conflates with cultural disenfranchisement to form many an extreme ideology.

There exists another force however, so dynamic and pervasive that it links both the culturally and economically disenfranchised groups, connecting them all to the same life-line of sorts–political disenfranchisement. Political disenfranchisement is the reason that, however miraculously, Milo Yiannopoulos and a DisruptJ20 protester, assuming they had no prior knowledge of each other, could sit down peacefully and have a coffee, chatting about their disdain for bureaucrats and dislike of the Electoral College. This form of disenfranchisement is so pervasive that it is intertwined with each disenfranchised group, both cultural and economic. When paired with cultural disenfranchisement, it proves to be a catalyst of extremism, resulting in radical, polarized groups, including DisruptJ20 and the alt-right. When paired with economic disenfranchisement, it gives rise to groups and concepts such as the “forgotten class”, and there is no doubt this duo elected Donald J. Trump to office. Political disenfranchisement is both the catalyst of extreme, fringe ideologies and the glue that is holding America’s current, pre-revolution state together. Without it, there would be no alt-right or Berkley protests. Though of course, some degree of this political disenfranchisement is needed, to ensure our Democracy serves us and to keep questioning and improving our government.

Today America is caught in a web of dissatisfied citizens and emergent fringe movements, all vying to right the same visceral wrongs (disenfranchisement) and institute new cultural views, a more equal economic system, a new political party or some combination of the aforementioned. And though it may seem that the various movements have no common core or thread, all are tremendously intertwined.