Democracy


#905

i will try not to just parrot @addamm’s great response but i do want to address this capitalist vs non capitalist debate over deaths. it is interesting to me that–at least in my history classes–every single death that occurred in non-capitalist systems is attributed to the failure of that system (the post kicking off this whole debate compared the choice between capitalism and socialism to the choice between milk and cyanide!). but this standard is never, ever applied at home. to take one example, in LA where i live, 1,341 people die each year due to air pollution. these deaths are considered “preventable” by scientists. they are not prevented, though, because LA came of age after the invention of (the market for) cars. cars have never been safer, healthier, or more efficient than other methods of transit that existed prior to or alongside them. but they were faster and cheap enough to be sold to individuals, so we rebuilt our entire city for cars, sold everyone two, built houses farther away for more people to drive their cars from… fast forward 60-70 years, 1300 people are dying annually in one city simply due to their proximity to cars, most of which are carrying one person to and from their work. (also, 28,000 hit and runs occur causing 138 deaths, every year, and the gas from the cars is helping turn the ocean to acid.)

none of this seems to be accounted for in the “number of deaths” debate, it’s either a distortion of the real free market or just a fact of life we must accept. in my opinion, it isn’t.

as for the “well what can we do?” question, obviously i don’t know either, i’m just some guy. i have some slogans:

—tax capital gains as income
—spread democracy to the fortune 500 before spreading it overseas
—housing, healthcare, education are not market commodities
—ABOLISH ICE


#906

This brings up an interesting point that consumes way too much of my daily brain activity: What things can individuals do that make small differences, or cumulative differences? And what things do we need to fight for at the system level?

IMO, a lot of the individual choices are vanity activism. They make me feel good about what I do, but have negligible effect at scale and often aren’t scalable. I will keep doing them, because I want to live by my values in the ways that I can and “put my money where my mouth is.” But I also acknowledge that my choice to buy local food, or ethical clothing, is a small drop in the bucket of a system that these choices have almost no impact on. And that my ability to make some of these choices is based on my relative wealth, while many many people don’t have the option because of the system we live in. (i.e. buying ethically made clothing is much more expensive than Walmart or H&M fast fashion).

Then there are things we can influence – maybe I can help get more people making individual choices within their means that contribute to a better future or cumulative change. Maybe I can also influence companies and government to change their policies through collective actions or buying power (although this takes a scale that is very very hard to achieve).

And then there’s systemic change, where these issues are actually solvable but is the most difficult thing to affect. We have election, strikes, boycotts, etc… but they take scale and organization, and are still playing within the system. This is also the thing that takes the longest timeframe to shift and often only changes in response to catastrophe (aka necessity).

I do what I can at all these levels, and of course could always do more… but I also have a life to live so there’s a balance that needs to be achieved, and often shifts over time.

There are a couple of models I like to use when thinking about this stuff.

  1. Pace Layers - https://jods.mitpress.mit.edu/pub/issue3-brand

  1. “Control/Influence/Appreciate” from Kees van der Heijden. A model for thinking about your ability to change/influence a complex system.


#907

Serious campaign finance reform goes a long way, also, and seems to be (at least it should be) something everyone can/should agree on. Ban non-individual campaign contributions. I will support a candidate that makes this their top priority.


#908

This is worth a read:
https://www.npr.org/2019/01/05/682286587/house-democrats-introduce-anti-corruption-bill-as-symbolic-first-act

We’ll need to flip the senate and the white house to pass it though.


#909

I see your point and I honestly think it’s very valid. But I feel like I need to make a distinction. There’s a lot to be said about the problems of Capitalism, but historically Communism has been more than an economic system, it’s also a political ideology. I don’tthink it’s fairto compare the deaths of people from air pollution, however dreadful that is, to reasons behind the deaths at the Gulags or the Death Camps being born from in the minds of prophets of other equally cruel ideologies.

Again, you raise a valid issue, but I think there is reason that there is a distinction between the two. I could be wrong of course. I don’t mean to justify a system I don’t fwthom. Been reading too much Solzehenitsyn lately, so I really felt that the comparison wasn’t realky fair. That being said, one can claim that due to capitalism we have wars and subsequent deaths all over the globe, which is a statement that supports yours and leads me to ask myself how can we do better than this.


#910

i had no idea this was a thing, that is fucking crazy


#911

ok i really need to stop, i don’t mean to quibble when we basically agree. i certainly wouldn’t equate forced labor or state executions to air pollution

buuuut. to me, this can just as easily be said of capitalism. i’m extremely skeptical of any economic system that considers itself non-ideological. we didn’t have literal death camps, but we had the trans atlantic slave trade, a market so lucrative that prior to the civil war the value of the slaves was 77% of our current gdp. we don’t have gulags, but after the abolition of slavery, hundreds of thousands were reenslaved by the state in the name of profit, a practice that continued into the 40s. the soviet union is gone, but we still have the highest incarceration rate in the world, and we make the prisoners fight fires for a dollar an hour

to me, this is very bad. and it is our ideology that continues to allow it to exist.

edit: changed “millions” to “hundreds of thousands”, i was thrown by the way it’s worded in the article but it looks like while millions felt the effects, the people that were directly enslaved were in the ballpark of 800,000.


#912

one day left, maybe one night left to become founding member/backer to something good culturally. https://buildingthenorthstar.com/

i don’t see anyone affecting more social change lovingly and regularly. so i’d urge folks to sign up. in addition to all his other activism, his goals recently seem to be laser focused on electing district attorneys country-wide that will do the job right for ALL the people, not just the rich white ones.


#913

No one’s talking about the US backed death squads during the Cold War (some still going on today) when talking about the deaths of Capitalism v Communism :thinking:


#914

the cold war is an offensive war on all global leftist movements and is conducted by the us and cia. it did not end with the fall of the ussr and wont end until the cia and us govt and military are held accountable.


#915

That’s wild, because colonialism and capitalism have killed at least a magnitude more. Would love some sources (besides some ~trash~ red scare propaganda you will inevitably pull out)!


#916

Not only that but the internet was created without profit motivation, weird I guess it wasn’t progress


#917

what about all the geniuses and prospective researchers that never get past poverty under capitalist regimes since they are too busy spending “every waking minute just feeding themselves”?

only a select few get such luxuries if you insist their access be tied to accumulated wealth.


#918

Getting ready for upcoming elections of the national parliament. Voting digitally, as in every election in Estonia for almost 15 years.


#919

my gut was that bernie would be back in. i have loved bernie since learning about him. i wish he were younger but it won’t come close to stopping me from supporting him again. there’s no doubt in my mind he is the most viable.


#920

I have a lot of sympathy for this I just wish we on the left would overcome our own retromania, using language like Green “New Deal” etc. of course all of this is correct, the past really was better in these ways. but to lead, to really lead, you have to act as if a positive vision of the future is possible again, rather than offering a left version of MAGA. basically, fake it until you make it, keep acting like a future is possible until it actually does become possible again. we shouldn’t have to look to the past to justify ideas like medicare for all, they should be put forth on their own merits. so… yes in terms of the specifics of policies the general orientation etc. I’ve always supported Bernie in the details. I’m just a bit uncomfortable as to how much the Bernie infatuation feeds retromania and ironically I know Bernie is not really thinking this way, he’s just doing the same thing he’s done for 50 years, he’s of course always looked forward. it’s just more how Bernie is marketed that needs to change. So – fuck retro, fuck Stranger things, fuck the 80’s, 50’s and 30’s, let’s move forward, even if there are no conditions of possibility. By moving forward we create the conditions. We make the paths by walking.


#921

I have mixed feelings about Bernie running again. I supported him in 2016 because he was the one with good, progressive policy. The Democratic Party at the time needed a semi-outsider to challenge the flat beige centrism that was all they were offering. Before Bernie jumped in, I was planning to vote Green.

This time the party looks a bit different. I do think Bernie’s campaign gets some credit for that, as well as the efforts of many other progressive leaders – starting with Occupy but really picking up steam with Bernie’s campaign and then Justice Democrats, DSA’s surge, Brand New Congress, Black Lives Matter, etc. I know AOC isn’t running, but one gets the impression she’s the new heart and soul of the Democrats. Bernie might be the only 2020 presidential candidate calling himself a socialist, but others in the running have a similar agenda.

At this point, I’m not going to declare myself for or against any particular candidates so long as they’re not dragging their feet on the progress we need. There are valid criticisms of each candidate. There are a lot of overblown, mostly irrelevant criticisms of them flying around too, and some supposedly progressive corners of the internet got really ugly in the hour that Bernie made his announcement.

I believe the best strategy for the left now (and really, for people in general) is to (A) put the brakes on Trump(ism) and (B) fight for just policies. Whoever is elected, even if it’s Bernie or Warren, or even if it were AOC or Kshama Sawant, is still going to need to be pressured to do the right things.


#922

I’m not ready for 2020 yet.


#923

my concern with some of the other folks running is that they’re already walking back aspects of the idealistic-but-necessary-to-avert-societal-and-environmental-collapse big steps that people like Bernie & AOC are pushing for.

Sherrod Brown is local to me and I like him a lot (not many pro-labor Democrats can get elected & reelected in Ohio these days), but his balking on universal health care makes him a nonstarter for me in a presidential primary. In Brown’s case, he’s pushing Medicare for 50+ years old to start. That’s 19 years away from being relevant to me, so while it’s an improvement, uninsured/underinsured friends might get sick and/or die before that matters to my peers. At least swing for the fences at this stage IMO since things tend to get watered down before being implemented anyway.

Warren is similarly misguided, in my opinion, in pushing for market-based health care reform - quite simply, I don’t think capitalism is going to fix health care, but it could definitely fuck it up more.

So far, Bernie is still by far my preferred option from a policy perspective among any of the frontrunners even though I get the criticisms of him seeming/being a bit of a broken record and maybe having a bit of tunnelvision with regard to his hesitation to deliberately call out racial issues in his critiques of our societal inequality.

The only non-Bernie candidate who is currently that interesting to me is Pete Buttigieg - hearing him speak on 1A on NPR was inspiring…he seems as bold as AOC or Bernie but he’s also so eloquent and able to put ideas in extremely plain terms (edit: I mean that he talks largely how people from middle America talk; AOC and Bernie are both effective communicators in their own ways), while also seeming to be genuinely kind and super optimistic. It’s pretty refreshing, and it’s also helpful that he has managed get elected & reelected in post-industrial Indiana while doing all that (albeit as mayor of a small city).


#924

Yeah, the “Medicare for more” thing is crap. I mean, I’ll personally be 50 sooner than I like, but it doesn’t solve the real problem at all.

I didn’t realize Warren is now talking about market-based reform. Ugh. To be honest I’m waiting to see where everybody lands on policy a few months from now. Hopefully Bernie and others will make the more incrementalist types look cowardly (as they are) and they’ll have to step up.