Politics Can Heal Our World
“So let the satirists deride as much as they like the doings of mankind, let the theologians revile them, and let the misanthropists (melancholia) heap praise on the life of rude rusticity, despising men and admiring beasts. Men will still discover from their experience that they can much more easily meet their needs by mutual help and can ward off ever-threatening perils only by joining forces…”
–Baruch Spinoza, Ethics: Sch.Pr.35,IV
Communism is for us not a state of affairs which is to be established, an ideal to which reality [will] have to adjust itself. We call communism the real movement which abolishes the present state of things. The conditions of this movement result from the premises now in existence.
Around the end of the year, the entire city raises its head and looks for light in the dark. We just slept, fitfully, through the longest night of the twentieth century, anticipating a whole season of bitter wind and cold dawns. Living day after day in such a condition draws out thoughts of the future. In our times, a future no longer seems like an entitlement. We see capitalist society charging towards its own suicide, grasping to take the rest of human society down with it. Whether by war or by the chaos wrought by climate change and the mass displacement of human life, capitalism will put itself to death.
Compounded, endless expansion of wealth, the engorgement of the bosses at the expense of the downtrodden and our collective future, remains holy writ. The “free market” is a doctrine of despair and destruction for the vast majority of humanity, those clinging to the underside of its shimmering crust. Our mission, with the global proletariat and oppressed peoples as its executioners, is the surgical separation of the collective human body from the parasite sucking it dry. Politics is the weapon, the only weapon, we can wield for this task.
The popular image of politics is as a hothouse for corruption, the chosen career of con artists and liars who refuse to get honest jobs in organized crime. What is this? A mockery of politics, the vaudevillian spectacle of demagogues and technocrats exploiting the fears bred by a class society that pits all against all. Politics is not embodied by the suits and the bureaucrats and the campaign machines: these are pastiches. Real politics sometimes makes use of such fools, using collective might to hammer them into agents of progress against their own instincts. Real politics neglects no weapon ready at hand, even those built by its enemies.
Eventually, though, these makeshift solutions give way to the self-organization of the masses, the true face of politics as the self-preserving acts of all humanity. And such a politics can only be constituted by a conscious movement, one that can unite the advanced, neutralize the middle, and isolate the reactionary forces and clear the way to a new society where needs will be met and fear will not reign. And enough of the belief that the world will put itself to rights by some miracle, that people scrambling in the dark every which way will link hands and blindly put all to right.
To abolish the state of things. It’s a frightful proposition to those who cling to status and wealth. For those who have nothing to lose, it is the only remedy. Enough with activists, the toxic self-proclaimed elite of the “movement,” for whom the organization itself is the goal. Enough with the dabbling and the idealism, the unwillingness to criticize, to root out false images and idols and bitter grudges that neutralize us. And enough with the comforts of a “part-time” volunteerism that can throw bricks in the streets and host a dinner party in the same day.
In the winter, the world is a place of awesome clarity. Here and now, in the winter of history, we have the solemn duty to reclaim the world from the structures we tolerated for too long. Now is the time, and no later, to purge ourselves and make ourselves fit to serve. Politics can heal the world, but we have to have the courage to wield it.