Human Nature and Libertarian Socialism

In this excerpt from the Chomsky - Foucault debate "Human Nature: Justice vs. Power" from 1971, Noam Chomsky argues that an egalitarian Anarcho-Syndicalist society is best suited the nature of humans. He also argues that sympathy, kindness and the feeling of justice are grounded in our nature:

Now, I think what he's saying makes a lot of sense. Being creative, active and contributing to one's surroundings based on one's own capacity in a relatively egalitarian social organization has been kind of a thread thruout our evolution, and it would therefore logically follow that this is part of our nature.

In my article "The Society We Should Strive For" I also argued that human nature is best suited Libertarian Socialist organization. I wrote that "the history of human evolution has been dominated by relatively egalitarian groups who cooperated for the common good. This type of organization which goes far back in our evolution also continued after we evolved into humans (Homo Sapiens) a little over a 100 000 years ago (cf. Hunter-gatherer societies etc)"

Now I want to explore this issue of human nature in the context of Libertarian Socialism more thoroughly:

Now, we have to face the fact that we don't know everything about human nature. We do, however, know that there are some fundamental human characteristics. Human nature allows for different kinds of behavior and it can be shaped to a certain extent, but there are certain things, such as solidarity for example, that make up some of the core features. Again, look at the history of our evolution: For millions of years things like cooperation, sharing, caring, sticking together and so on, basing social organization on a relatively egalitarian principle, have been central parts of our evolution. Even as far back as Homo Habilis working together for the common good, cooperating on finding and getting food etc, were essential and crucial for the survival and further evolvement of the species. Now, there were also things like rivalry and violence that took place at that time, and these things have to a certain extent also been passed on, but as our ancestors evolved further, all the way up to Homo Heidelbergensis and later on Homo Sapiens, these things decreased and elements like solidarity and egalitarianism, in addition to cooperation, became more integrated in the social organization. Working together for the common good turned out to be a crucial and highly successful factor in our evolution. And with cooperation and working together, things like solidarity, altruism etc - a more collective mentality - also became a natural part of our ancestors' way of thinking and acting. When our ancestors finally evolved into Homo Sapiens this had become a big part of our way of life: Some of the first human societies consisted of hunter-gatherers basing society on solidarity, cooperation and egalitarian principles. Marx and Engels studied and wrote about these types of egalitarian hunter-gatherer societies; they called them "primitive communism" - a kind of preindustrial version of the modern classless stateless communist society they envisioned might come into place in the future.

In other words, evolution has allowed us to develop a free will, a mentality that allows for variation in behavior, making room for adaptation and molding of the mind, but our ancestors have also passed on certain elements, mostly good ones, that are determined and part of humans today.
Things that were the main reason for our evolutionary success, like solidarity and cooperation, are parts of our nature.

In fact many of these things can also be seen among most species, simply because sticking together and helping each other increase the chances of species survival. Peter Kropotkin, a zoologist, philosopher and Libertarian Socialist - contributing especially to the philosophy of Anarcho-Communism - wrote about this issue in his book "Mutual Aid: A Factor of Evolution", looking at mutual aid and cooperation in nature, arguing that evolution naturally would develop things like commitment to helping others, and that these were important factors in the survival of the species.

Another important contribution to this topic is of course "The Selfish Gene" from 1976 by professor and evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins. In this book he pointed out that altruism, and cooperation naturally would evolve among species thruout evolution because organisms act as if their genes, not the organisms themselves, are selfish. It is the gene that is being passed on endlessly thru organisms, and things like altruism would therefore accrue in order to increase the chances for the gene to survive. And it makes perfect sense: individuals sharing the same genes would naturally evolve cooperation, altruism and solidarity, because it increases the chances of the gene being replicated. Most scientists on this field regard Dawkins' contributions to be correct.

Robert Trivers' work is also very interesting and worth mentioning in this context. He focuses on what he calls "Reciprocal altruism": the phenomenon of an organism, or individual, acting in a way that might reduce its fitness, being a cost or loss, while increasing the fitness of another organism, with the expectation that this other organism will act in a similar manner at a later time.

Now, with all this mentioned so far in mind, it would logically follow that cooperation, solidarity, altruism etc. are essential and fundamental elements of our nature.

But if these things are huge parts of our nature, why don't we see a lot more of this in our society today? Well, the problem is that today these things are being suppressed. In today's (especially Western) societies things like greed and consumption are being encouraged. In fact, capitalism requires corporations f.ex. to only think about the "bottom line". If they don't, they're out of business, and corporations that do think profits and greed replace them. A society like this will of course produce a lot of greedy individuals. Capitalism encourages greed, and since human nature allows for some molding of the mind, the system we have manages to suppress many individuals' core characteristics. Take advertisement f.ex: Private tyrannies spend huge amounts of money on this. We're being pumped full of this garbage almost everywhere we look, whether it's TV, radio, internet, newspapers etc etc, day in and day out. It is a highly unnatural phenomenon, it's been a part of human history for an extremely small amount of time, yet it affects us, many of us in a huge way. But with that said, I think it s worth mentioning that even though we're being encouraged to be greedy and selfish, we still see lots of kindness and solidarity. Even in a society based on greed and consumption, human characteristics, opposing this lifestyle, are lived out.

In a Libertarian Socialist organization society would encourage all the good things in us. When society no longer encourages us to be greedy the true nature of humans would come to the fore. If a big part of our nature is based on cooperation and solidarity, and the society encourages cooperation and solidarity, guess what, it would produce cooperative and soldaric humans! There will of course be a few immoral individuals in a libertarian socialist society as well, but that shouldn't prevent us from organizing society in a way that is best suited human nature in general.

Now, getting back to the Chomsky - Foucault debate, I do think Foucault (although expressing some good points about different elements in society being power structures and affecting our way of life) underestimates the impact of the nature of humans in this debate, especially when he talks about justice - taking an almost Nietzschean approach. Human Beings are biological creatures. We have gradually evolved into the creatures we are today thru millions of years of evolution. Of course we have evolved a nature that is essential to the way we think and behave .

Now, going back to Chomsky's statement on this human nature being best suited Anarcho-Syndicalism. I find this highly credible. Anarcho-Syndicalism would base organization on a principle that has been a thread thruout a big part of human evolutionary history: people being in control of their own creative work, contributing on ones own terms, cooperating and working together for the common good in a decentralized egalitarian social organization. Such a society will in other words not only pave the way for people's true creative work, it will also bring about the other good things grounded in our nature evolved thruout our history, like community interests and solidarity.

So, to sum up: Living together in solidarity, cooperating, looking out for one another and being creative on one's own terms in an egalitarian social organization is in accordance with human nature. It would then logically follow that the most appropriate way to organize society would be one that is based on Libertarian Socialist principles: a free, egalitarian, non-hierarchical society where human characteristics like solidarity, kindness and creativity would come to the fore.


Our Democratic Deficit

Citizens of Western countries now live in societies richer and more prosperous than ever. Yet politicians are cutting in welfare programs, and the working class is often struggling to get by. How can this be?

We have a system where we vote on politicians to run society on our behalf, a so called representative democracy. Were not running things ourselves like we ought to do by direct democracy and direct participation. Instead politicians are working full time to do tasks based on the results of what we vote once every second year. Democracy has been reduced to just putting a piece of paper in a box, and letting other people make decitions that affect our lives in a big way. Decitions made by politicians are also often done on a centralized level, resulting in decitions being made far away from the people electing them. This type of democracy is a poor one; this type of representative democracy reduces democracy to being a "spectator sport" where we get to be in charge for just a couple of seconds voting - putting a piece of paper in a box - and then letting people in suits in charge for the rest of the years to come. This type of system creates a huge democratic deficit.

At the same time consentration of private power has increased. Concentration of private power also creates a democratic deficit. Private owners of wealth and power have not been democratically elected. They control resourses, institutions, means of production, things that affect our lives and communities; they have much more power in society than you and I, yet they`re not democratically elected. In other words, by privatizing resourses and institutions, and giving private owners and investors tax cuts etc. means handing over power to people who are not democratically elected. Also here we see a huge democratic deficit.

These people - politicians and private owners - are the ones making the decitions in society, and we see a huge democratic deficit in both sectors. Now, thats bad enough as it is, but unfortunatly theres another factor that is becoming an increasing problem: The close links between the two.

Now, governments and states working together with private enterprise sharing the executive power in society has existed in many countries for a long time; this is in other words nothing new. But what has happened is that the ties between them have gotten closer and closer, especially in the United States.

These close ties have contributed to creating what Id like to call a "right-wing vs less right-wing" model. As these ties between politicians and private tyrannies have gotten closer and closer, looking out for each other basically, right-wing policies have gotten more and more influencial in society. Not very surprising, since right-wing policies like tax cuts for businesses etc. is exactly what the private owners want. So whats happened is that a vicious circle has developed with private owners attracting an increasing number of right-wing politicians enforcing policies that benefit them and make them more powerful, resulting in them getting even more infuencial on politicians.

So with this comes a political arena of different major parties, all of them - but some more than others - good friends with private enterprise, giving them more and more resourses and power, and by that making them more influencial in society. In other words, right-wing parties and somewhat less right-wing parties taking turns governing, constantly competing on how they can convince most people with their lies and rhetoric. In the mean time the ruling party is privatizing and giving more and more tax cuts for the wealthy resaulting in cuts in welfare and benefits for poor and the working class.

This is the main reason why we see lots of people struggling to get by even though the society as a whole is richer and more efficient than ever. The wealth is being shoved into the pockets of the wealthy, while the working people have to fight over the crumbs, causing cynicism frustration and crime; and at the same time beeing duped to vote for politicians that mostly favor the interests of the wealthy.

Our society has a huge democratic deficit. This has to change. We must organize and create a free society with direct democracy and direct participation; democratic workplaces, democratic communities, working together to benefit the people, not private enterprise.

The Transition Phase: The Road To Freedom


I will now consider a difficult subject; a subject that has been debated for years on the left. I want to share my thoughts on how I think the transition from today?s society to a free and democratic society could and should look like. Now, I don't think that what I present here will reveal some revolutionary new ways of looking at this issue, rather it's only my contribution to the debate based on my own thoughts. I also want to point out that I do not present this on behalf of anyone. I only speak for myself. I'm just presenting my own personal views hoping that it will in some way be a useful and helpful contribution to further discussion. I would also like to hear your opinions on this topic. Do you disagree with something, did I leave something out etc. It's very important that we help each other in finding good solutions to our challenges. Please leave comments expressing your opinion. If you think the ideas I express in my article (or in my blog in general for that matter) are reasonable, also feel free to copy and share what you want and/or link to my blog in order to "spread the word".

I will divide this mainly into 4 parts, even though many things mentioned in these parts or stages if you will, probably will blend into each other in real life. I do so because I think there are some important stages in this transition that also need to be recognized and dealt with and discussed separately. How long the transition phase, and each stage will take, is in my view impossible to predict. We do know one thing though: the struggle for freedom will be long. How long it will take is up to the people participating.

Stage I: The beginning of the road to freedom - Building a movement: organization and growth.

In this stage organizing and growth are keywords. In this stage we would have to focus on protesting, marching, making ourselves heard, organizing, educating, convincing, enlightening others, educating others, educating ourselves, getting more people to join etc. In other words, lots of different non-violent actions in order to get attention and gain support. Everyone should do this. Unions, environmental groups, students, workers, seniors, idealists; really all who are concerned, engaged, and who want a better society must start getting seriously involved in working for change.

Its important that the organizing includes having a goal of getting people to join for common causes, a common platform if you will, but without it leading to hierarchical structures of leaders etc. Instead the different people and organizations should communicate, cooperate, arrange events, meetings etc - using different arenas to discuss and work for consensus, not necessarily on all topics but so that a constructive common platform and plan could evolve. Communities and local areas should of course have self determination; each community have their own issues that need to be addressed, discussed and handled based on their unique situation, but in order for a big growing movement to become successful there has to be some common ground worked out. We need to find a good healthy combination of self determination within communities and local areas, and at the same time, in solidarity with each other, work out common strategies and tactics.

Now in this growth phase there will be variations in terms of support for local movements and their common platform in different communities. In one town or community there will be lots of support, in another less. The people working in the different communities must take the amount of support into consideration and find the best way of organizing in their local communities. There is in other words no magic absolute formula. It depends on the circumstances. There should of course be a general fight in terms of bargaining/collective bargaining everywhere, but in a community with lots of support people could for example organize sit-down strikes at different workplaces, and even local general strikes in order to get attention, gain support and of course gain more rights. In a local community with little support one should probably focus more on bargaining, protesting, convincing, and educating others. But the way I see it, a general rule of thumb when it comes to these issues is that the more support that is gained in the community and nationwide, the more direct non-violent action like sit-down strikes, general strikes etc. could be carried out.

We must also always remember, thruout this transition phase that we have to look in long term perspective. Changes aren't going to come over night. It will be a long hard struggle, but in the end it will be worth it. In this stage I we must be a little patient when it comes to huge radical changes. The important thing in the beginning is to focus on growth; working for gaining support within the different communities, but also in the general population. In other words, building up an established force that will lead to serious changes.

We should also bear in mind that in any stage of this struggle for a free democratic society we have to expect lots of opposition from the elites and their supporters and servants. Not only do we have to expect and prepare ourselves for media-propaganda, we also have to expect more police brutality. It's a natural reaction of the financial elite who will become more and more scared of the movement(s) as they grow. The state and government are often very servile to the wealthy financial elite, especially in the US where the wealthy more or less control policies. The police is a tool of the business-run, or business-influenced state to try to crush the ones who want to take back from the wealthy what has been stolen thru bailouts, exploitation and speculation at the stock exchange. The elites are starting to feel threatened, they want to keep all that they have stolen, so naturally they want to stop The Occupy Movement and anyone else involved in the struggle with police force. These tendencies are however an indication that we're on the right track: The elites are getting scared, and react by increasing their effort in trying to crush movements. The financial elite will however fail. Police brutality is counter-productive, it just leads to more support and sympathy for people engaged in the struggle among the general population.

Stage II: Continued growth, frequent striking, and fight for reform.

Stage II begins when the movement has grown substantially, moving steadily towards soon organizing and/or having the support from the majority of the population in a nation. Stage II should be a continuation of all the things in stage I, but there should now be an increased focus on organizing strikes. As many strikes as possible, in any form, whether it's sit-down strikes, local general strikes etc. This should be planed organized and conducted in any place that has a certain amount of community support. Striking is an important and effective way of fighting the wealthy owners and achieving rights. Fighting for rights in the workplace should be one of the main goals at this point. That would include fighting for better work conditions, more pay, increased democratization of workplaces etc. The unions will naturally play a central role in striking, but It's important that all the other organizations involved and engaged in the struggle for freedom will back, support and help the workers and unions in their important contribution to eventually stripping the wealthy of their undemocratic power. As we grow solidarity amongst the different local movements is increasingly important. Solidarity and cooperation among the different participants must be a very important factor in the struggle for democracy and freedom.

As I mentioned the strike frequency should increase as support increases. Now, if the support in a community is very high, than one could go further than striking and bargaining/collective bargaining etc. There might arise situations in which a huge majority of a relatively big geographic area within a nation supports even further action, like workers' takover of economic institutions, even though the majority of the nation is against it. These situations could get tricky as to what should be done, and I don't think there are any magic formulas or general answers to this. It would depend on the specific situation; how strong is the nationwide opposition to this, how free and democratic is the nation state, how much is the general population affected by the acts, and so on. I think though, that in most cases areas that have a lot of community support - the overwhelming majority - for making the institutions in their local society democratic they should take steps beyond just striking and take over production even though we're just in stage II.

An increasing number of politicians will, as the movement grows try to get on the movement's good side. The people involved in the movement should not be fooled. Some of the politicians may be sincere and honest, but that's really irrelevant. They can agree with the movement all they want, the thing is, they're not needed. The people can do this work themselves, by more direct action, constructive work and cooperation and solidarity amongst the people and organizations involved, operating within a relatively flat non-hierarchical structure. What should be done in terms of dealing with politicians is pushing for short term reform like increased taxation of the wealthy, and avoiding cuts in welfare programs. We should avoid any type of direct participation in established government and state institutions including getting mixed up with party politics. Instead the movement should work by itself organizing constructive non-violent action (like protesting, educating, convincing, striking democratization of workplaces etc, everything I mentioned earlier) in the different local areas and communities, carried out by the people living there; working actively, without the use of government, to gradually shift power from government and state to increasingly engaged, enlightened and determined communities and workplaces.

Stage III: Majority support - Direct action, responsibility and awareness of threats.

Stage III starts when the majority of a nation either supports and or have actively joined the struggle for freedom. Now, I want to point out that stage III is also a growing stage, our goal should be to convince as many people as possible to support and/or join the struggle. However, by being the majority one can focus on lots of other things as well: Increased direct action; getting major things done! One important factor in this stage is in my view worker's takeover of the economic institutions, but I want to again stress that the right time for specific actions might vary from community to community. The frequency of worker's takeover of institutions and any other direct act in local areas may vary from place to place depending on community support. If the vast majority in a community and the nation in general, supports these initiatives, then there?s no doubt as to what should be done: take action! Carry the owners and CEOs out of their offices if necessary.

Now, as I mentioned earlier violent opposition is very likely to increase more and more as the movement grows, and in stage I and II brutality and violence from state and the establishment must be fought with non-violent means in most cases (maybe some exceptions can be made at the end of phase II though). However, in stage III, the movement and its supporters can now start fighting back with violence if necessary. There's really nothing controversial about that - It's only self defense. It's just defending democracy. There will most certainly be owners and wealthy people who desperately want to fight violently in an attemt to maintain their wealth and power. It will then be necessary to use force, and if necessary violent self defense in order to maintain the course that the majority wants. The use of violent self defense agianst the ones who violently want to fight the will of the people, the vast majority, must be as humane as possible on the movement's behalf. Absolute prevention of disruption with as less rough treatment and violence as possible should be the norm.

We also know from past attempts to achieve changes that not just police, but also military force has been used by the powerful to crush movements wanting change. A Coup d'tat for example, is something many people have experienced and had to suffer the consequences from. We must have that in mind all thru this transition from today's society to freedom and democracy. The movement should discuss and consider thoroughly how it can avoid attempts like this. There might come attempts like this from powerful people in the future and we must watch out for them and do anything within our power to avoid this. What the movement has to do if a situation like this would accrue, I think is hard to sketch out in detail here, but I would hope, and strongly believe, that the entire population would rise up together with the movement in order to stop it. After all, the people have the potential to successfully fight any type of tyranny and oppression.

But how should we handle the established state and government institutions in general in the IIIrd stage? Well, remember that in stage I and II changes would have accrued gradually in these government and state structures like parliament, congress etc. As the movement grew the attitudes of the people would change. The awful politicians running things today would be replaced with less awful ones. The organization of these institutions would be changed for the better, from focus on working for the rich and powerful to more focus on what's best for the population. Central government decision making would be weakened as the movement would reject taking direct part in established state and government institutions, and instead working by itself. Power would gradually have spread more and more to communities, unions, workplaces etc. There will of course be some tasks that just have to do be done centrally. I think in general that this should be handled by the movement organizing a system of representation based on the movement's common platform where instead of politicians and bureaucrats doing this work, recallable delegates would be elected by the different organizations and people participating in the movement. I don't think it's necessary to work out all the details on how this would be executed; it should be up to the movement to decide the exact organization based on its principles and consensus building.

In stage III the movement should focus a lot on how police and military should be handled and run. I have now just described how we should handle central institutions and tasks in general. Central tasks would of course also include handling military, and to a certain degree, police. I feel however that I have to address this specific issue more thoroughly. The people and organizations now in majority must take special responsibility on handling these institutions correctly. We can't take these issues lightly, if we do than powerful and wealthy people could find ways to take over, and we'd be an easy target for the people, both domestic and from abroad who want to crush our struggle for democracy and freedom. It is very important that the movement and its supporters just before entering stage III and after entering it, establish arenas for thoroughly, well organized constructive discussions on how this institutions should be handled. As I mentioned we've seen lots of coups in the past, so we need to have a well thought out plan to prevent this from happening again. We also know that there have been examples of individuals within movements wanting change who have gained power in the state and military apparatus and by that gained increasing, often despotic power dragging society back into tyranny, hierarchy and oppression. Now, the chances of this happening to a movement with well established principles and structures of the flat non-hierarchical type, with frequent use of consensus-building, and recallable delegates etc, is very slim, but It's important to not take this lightly. Police and military institutions are used to conduct legal force and violence, they're power centers in nature; it's therefore important that these institutions are handled in a correct and safe matter. I think that by using the same methods described above on how to handle the central tasks in general with the use of recallable delegates and consensus etc within the framework of an egalitarian flat organized movement structure it would be pretty safe. Police institutions will also be handled more locally, so the danger of things getting out of hand in regards to police is much smaller than military institutions, but both should be handled safely based on a well thought out plan.

Now let's look at stage III more broadly. As I mentioned, worker's takeover of economic institutions should be one of the main factors and should be carried out as much as possible depending on community support. This should of course be done alongside of in general building strong, engaged, enlightened, solidaric, just and democratic communities working together with other communities. As these tendencies are becoming increasingly established thruout a large geographic area, like a nation, we will gradually enter stage IV.

Stage IV: Completing the transition phase: Entering a sustainable free democratic society

In this stage the sky's the limit for the areas who have made the important achievements of creating a more just free and democratic society. Important tasks for these geographic areas in this stage would be working in solidarity with people around the world who have not yet reached the same achievements, and at the same time, not being naive, nor paranoid, watching out for external destructive forces and taking necessary precautions. I don't want to say much more about this stage here. It would be up to the people living in the different areas to decide details and exact organization in their society/community. I have given my personal opinions on how the society should be organized from here in the article The Society We Should Stive for. And with that I'll end this article by thanking the ones taking the time to read this, and also wishing everybody the best of luck in their struggle for freedom.


Noam Chomsky at Occupy Boston

Noam Chomsky clip on workers takeover of workplaces

The Corporation (documentary)

The Take (documentary)

The Society We Should Strive For

In my opinion the society we should strive for is one where democracy is the core. A society where capitalism and central state power are replaced by more direct democracy and direct participation. A society where the economic institutions are run democratically by the participants and the ones affected by them. That means democratic control of workplaces, democratic control of communities and so on; a society where people participate in the decision-making and are in control of their own work, life and destiny. A system of cooperative communities that benefit everyone and focus on peoples needs instead of short term profit.

A society like this, where power is decentralized and democracy is built from below, is often called Libertarian Socialism or Left-libertarianism. Many also refer to this type of society as Anarcho-Syndicalism which is a popular branch of Libertarian Socialism that focuses especially on direct democracy, workers self-management and solidarity.

In an Anarcho-Syndicalist society people are no longer profiting on other peoples work like in capitalism; no one exploits others, no one is being exploited - the economic institutions are now run democratically. Most services would be free when you need them, and production, distribution, remuneration etc. would be decided democratically by the participants. It would be a society where people are not treated like cogs in a machine and commanded to act in a mechanical way, but where each individual could live out its true potential based on its own capacity.

In a society like this human characteristics like solidarity, creativity, engagement and altruism would come to the fore. All though human nature is complex and gives room for different kinds of behavior we know that these things are at the core of human nature; just take a look at the history of human evolution which has been dominated by realtively egalitarian groups who cooperated for the common good. This type of organization which goes far back in our evolution also continued after we evolved into humans (Homo Sapiens) a little over a 100 000 years ago (cf Hunter-gatherer societies etc).

In other words, with an Anarcho-Syndicalist, or Libertarian Socialist organization society will become more egalitarian and most hierarchical structures will therfore vanish. At the same time a society like this will encourage humans to live out their true nature and create a solidaric society on all levels: Workers, workplaces, unions, communities, not any longer being encouraged to only look after themselves and striving for as much money and material goods as possible, like it is in capitalism, but instead cooperating for a best possible society for everyone, democratically run by the participants.

A Libertarian Socialist society would be based on direct democracy and not a system where representative politicians are running things. There will have to be representatives in this society as well, but they would be recallable delegates elected directly from the group or organization to which they belong, representing workplaces, communities and so on. The society would in other words be decentralized and federated, run democratically thru networks of cooperative workers councils, assemblies, communities, delegates etc.

All the details in this free society would be too complex to sketch out here. All details must be decided and established when the time comes by the people participating in that society.

Now, Libertarian Socialism will not become reality in the very near future. We might have to settle for reform for some time, but we should always, at any given time, strive for the best.

The "Free Ride" Society

The right-wingers often tend to look at taxes as a way of stealing the fruits of other peoples labor, that people are being taxed so that other can enjoy a free ride. Well theyre way off. First of all, the ones who are really stealing the fruits of our labor are the financial elite who have been making billions by pushing a few buttons on a computer at the stock exchange and exploiting people in the US and all over the world. And secondly, the "fruits" of ones labor cant be measured in an advanced moderen society.

We now live in a complex, highly advanced technological society built up by generations of people thru hundreds of years. People have been building infrastructure, contributed to science, developed technology, developed efficient ways of manufacturing etc etc. Because of all this effort we now enjoy a more wealthy, advanced and efficient society than ever. All of this, lots of it built and created long before we were even born, we`re now enjoying despite having little or nothing to do with contributing to it ourselves. In other words, our contributions, no matter what we do, are microscopic compared to what we receive from society. We`re enjoying the results of generations of people`s work gradually building a modern society - an enormous free ride.

Now, there are people, certainly in third world countries, but also in the West, who are struggling to get by and do not feel that theyre enjoying all these goods. I totally understand that but that has to do with the unfortunate concentration of wealth. I`m talking about the society as a whole. The western countries are more efficient and wealthy as ever, the problem is that we have a system that allows for more and more accumulation of wealth. That is one of the reasons why we have to abolish Capitalism and replace it with democracy.

Now, whats really interesting about this "free ride" - debate is that even though the rich, which the right-wing tend to support, are becoming increasingly wealthy by doing less, the right always turn to the poor and working class when they want to give a speech about getting free rides and stealing the friuts of other peoples labor. Citibank first recieved their taxpayer bailout back in the 80s from Reagan and have since that, along with an increasing number of other corporations received an enormous sum of taxmoney. Is that not stealing the fruits of other peoples labor? And what about, lets say, indonesian facory girls working 12 hours a day for 50 cents an hour at a Nike- factory so that Phil Knight and the rest of them can sell shoes and equipment for huge profits. Is that not getting a free ride?? Why isnt this theft adressed by the right-wing? The rich, which have become rich mostly by pushing a few buttons at a computer at Wall Street, and/or exploiting workers in the US and all over the world, which isn`t exactly hard work, are being given more and more tax breaks and benefits by politicians, yet the right wing have the balls to criticize sick people for getting their medical bills covered by the government. To put it this way, as long as the wealthy are getting more and more recourses into their hands by doing very little, people should have no right lecturing the working class and poor for asking for welfare programs.

So how should we organize a complex highly advanced wealthy society? Make it more democratic! Make the workplaces democratic, make the communities democratic. Organize society so that people can be in control over their own lives. Create a society where we focus on peoples needs instead of short term profit. End the system we have today, which encourages greed and unsustainable and pointless consumption, and instead create a society where true human characteristics and feelings like engagement and solidarity will come to the fore. Create a decent civilized society where everyone can enjoy a decent life. Create a world where we all can enjoy the "Free Ride" Society.

Replace Capitalism with Democracy

The financial elite have gained more and more power in society, especially in the United States. Since the 70s big capital has gained an increasing power over politicians and the public. They control the institutions in society, they control the economy to a large extent, and they have a huge influence on politicians. Yet despite having all this wealth, power and influence over our lives they have never been democratically elected. This is unacceptable.

This state-capitalist system we have today is not sustainable. It leads to exploitation, injustice, the destruction of the environment, and last but not least, it undermines democracy.

We have a huge democratic deficit. It is undemocratic when the ones who have the overwhelming power in society are not elected by people. The financial elite have most of the wealth, they control the resources and the means of production - things that affect our lives - yet weve never voted for them. People dont control their own lives, workplaces and communities; instead the super rich non-elected minority make big decitions and control huge part of the society with their enormous wealth which is very highly concentrated.

Not only are the rich and powerful in an undemocratic way controlling the economy as a whole in huge networks of transactions, investments and stock exhange, they also rule the institutions in society in a totalitarian way. The economic institutions in a capitalist society have a totalitarian model; a tyrannical non-democratic hierarchy in which the people at the top - the CEOs, owners etc - dictate how the institution is being run, whats being produced, working conditions and so on, while people further down the hierarchy must follow their orders. Capitalist institutions are in other words private tyrannies. These structures are in no way not even recembling democratic organization.

Democracy has also been reduced to just putting a piece of paper in a box once every second year.

This is not good enough. We can do much better than that!

So what is the alternative?

In my opinion the people must take the power back from the non-elected elites so they can take control over their own lives by creating a more democratic society. In other words, more direct democracy and direct participation. That means democratic control of communities, democratic control of workplaces and so on; a society where people participate in the decision-making and cooperate in building a society where we focus on peoples needs, not billionaires short term profit.

Replace capitalism with democracy!

Noam Chomsky explains Libertarian Socialism

Les mer i arkivet December 2011 November 2011 October 2011