About my Blog

I am writing this blog from a radical political point of view. To be a political radical is to examine everything critically. It is about taking today's news, today's unmentioned news, history, or even just the way we think about ideas, and adding a totally new perspective to them. If you are a radical, and a socialist, like me, you will agree with a lot of what I have to say. If not, I hope I at least make you think about things that you previously took for granted. Most of all, I hope everyone enjoys this blog.

About Me

I have just graduated from college, where I wrote opinion pieces for my school newspaper. Though I started out a liberal, I have moved far to the left since then. Despite my politics being different from most people, many people found a lot of what I had to say interesting and insightful. I hope to continue challenging people to think here on my blog.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

What does it really mean to be Antiwar?

Imagine there is a country out there thinking of war. They examine the U.S. They see the many problems the U.S. has. They count the number of prisoners we have, and conclude, that since we have the most of any other nation, we must be the most oppressive country in the world. Incidentally, they claim that they have the most freedom of any nation in the world, and they hope to bring their freedom over here. They invade the U.S., and they occupy our country indefinitely. Oh, and by the way, they've killed a million of our civilians, making 9/11 seem irrelevant in comparison.

What would we say in this scenario? Would we simply say, "thank you for bring us freedom?" Or would we say "get out now!" Would we be justified in fighting back? Or would our soldiers be "terrorists" for fighting against those who "bring freedom?" Would we believe that they are in fact bringing us freedom? Or that they have some other motive? Would we say "clean up the mess and then leave?"

Of course, the reverse of this scenario is exactly what the U.S. is doing in Iraq and Afghanistan. And yet few people have truly been antiwar regarding both since Obama has taken office.

Iraq, of course, is supposed to be "Bush's war." At this point, most Americans are against it. Nevertheless, Obama has quietly continued the occupation of Iraq (since occupying a foreign nation is not news, even when U.S. troops die). Newsflash, we aren't getting out anytime soon, at least we aren't if there continues to be no antiwar movement.

Afghanistan is the one that Americans on both sides of the political spectrum have consistently failed to oppose. Sure, more and more Americans want the U.S. to withdraw because it is a "quagmire" that we can't "win." This position did not constitute an antiwar position during the Vietnam war, and it does not now. Rather, this position is essentially, "we've lost, lets cut our losses." If you are rooting for the U.S. to "win," that means that you think that there is something to win, and furthermore, that that could have been won through war. By definition, you are pro-war.

The truth is, the invasion of Afghanistan was just as unjust as the invasion of Iraq. Yes, terrorists that had bases in Afghanistan attacked the U.S. However, let's reverse the scenario again. Some Americans, with support from the U.S. government, attack Cuba. Cuba now has the right to take over our country, kill civilians, and occupy it indefinitely, while deciding our politics. Right? I don't think so.

That neither Iraq or Afghanistan has been brought democracy at the barrel of a gun and that just about everyone in both countries is suffering, and may even be worse off than they were before, just adds to the absurdity. But simply condemning the wars by describing all of the sordid details or even saying that these are occupations and not wars is wrong. Both of these positions imply that these wars could be just.

They cannot. War is wrong, period. Far from being a crazy position, this argument is simple. If all people are created equal, we cannot declare otherwise. If it is wrong for someone to kill U.S. civilians, and it clearly is, than it is equally wrong for the U.S. to kill foreign civilians. If it is wrong for someone to occupy our country in the name of freedom, than it is wrong for the U.S. to occupy a country.

And, groups like Codepink, who support an "exit strategy," are pro-war and pro-occupation. To argue that the U.S. should get out after "fixing the mess," cannot possibly be an antiwar position. Obama has the same position, Bush had the same position. It is still the same position even if their timetables for withdrawal are quite different.

The only position that is antiwar and anti-occupation is "Get Out Now!" That includes everywhere, not just Iraq and Afghanistan, but a large number of other countries, ie. South Korea.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Capitalism May be a Bad Love Story, But Even Michael Moore Can't Break up with It

I usually don't write movie reviews, but obviously, Michael Moore's new film "Capitalism, a Love Story" is not a normal movie.

First of all, before I critique it, I highly recommend you go see it. Everything but the last few minutes of the movie is about the harm caused by capitalists. We're talking about everyone from kids who are jailed because a corporation bought of a judge to people kicked out of their homes, to airline pilots on food stamps. It doesn't really matter who you vote for, if you are amongst the 70% of Americans who do not like corporations, you will like this movie. And even if you do like corporations but want to here the stories of what Americans are facing today, you should see this movie.

Michael Moore concludes that "capitalism is evil and you cannot regulate evil." Only a socialist can make this argument, therefore Michael Moore must be a socialist? Right? Wrong.

What is socialism? It is when the community as a whole owns the means of production. In other words, we are talking about the factories and the machines that produce the goods. And ultimately, we are talking about democracy instead of dictatorship in the workplace, which Michael Moore explicitly endorses.

What fails to qualify as socialism? These so called "mixed economies" are not socialist, they are capitalist economies with a social safety net. Bernie Sanders is not a socialist, no matter what he claims. You can disagree with socialism. But being for a social safety net does not make you a socialist just because Republican politicians are declaring everyone to the left of Milton Friedman (right wing economist) a socialist.

Now, if you "cannot regulate evil," then socialism is the only other option. You could argue that capitalism isn't evil. You can argue that it is evil but it can be regulated. But you cannot conclude that the solution to a system that cannot be regulated is to regulate it.

What are regulations? Laws of course. A nation under the law is the perfect form of regulation. Laws come in many forms, including a bill of rights.

Why do I say all this? Because after saying that you "cannot regulate evil," Michael Moore mentions FDR's economic bill of rights, which, though never enacted, was supposed to guarantee basic necessities like food, healthcare, and housing. In other words, FDR's economic bill of rights is a series of regulations that are designed to save us from the excesses of capitalism. He even goes so far as to claim that this works in Europe. Of course, the workplace democracy that Moore proposes isn't the norm in Europe any more than it is here.

To me, if socialism is worker control of the workplace, and ultimately society, and capitalism is control by the elite of the few, then a call for regulated capitalism is the same as a call for benevolent dictatorship. I've noticed something funny about dictatorships though. Wishful thinking rarely makes them benevolent. The same is true under capitalism. As long as capitalists are in charge, they make the rules. They aren't going to make them to benefit us.

It's easy to criticize Michael Moore, but this is rather typical of many people on the left. I know I'm starting to repeat myself, but this is a recurring theme. The grass is not pink, 2+2 does not equal 5, and capitalism with a safety net does not make the workplace democratic, and its not socialism.

Update: It's worth adding that Michael Moore actually says in the movie that a system should replace capitalism, which contradicts what he endorses at the end of the movie.

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