Why I am not a Communist or a Capitalist
[Editor: I wrote this in April 2021 and for some reason, never published it. Forgot perhaps? But it’s still relevant.]
Why I am not a Communist or a Capitalist–and why it doesn’t really matter if I am or not.
Having reviewed some of my political beliefs in my last post, I will go further to state for the record (I guess) what I actually ascribe to in terms of politics, the economy and so forth. As I said, I prefer Democracy to all other systems, although each of the other systems would say they espouse and practice democracy at some level.
What comes first for me, before the political process of democracy, is caring for human beings and caring for the biosphere. That process of caring, nurturing, education, cultivation, and cultural production is the most basic form of human social interaction, those most essential for survival, growth and development, and shaped by the most important human values for love, compassion, empathy and creativity.
Second to that is the democratic process of governance shaped by values of fairness, justice, inclusion, reason, open communication and compassion. Democracy, as I define it, is a process of collective decision-making and power-sharing, governance at the lowest communal level. I don’t call representative democracy, in the form of legislatures and parliaments “democracy” in the truest sense. The more accurate term for that form of governance is “republicanism.”
Third in this imagined social hierarchy of importance to human life, is the economic system, whether that be capitalism, communism, socialism, anarchism, green communalism, or some other system. Whatever form it takes, it ranks third in importance in the hierarchy of social needs. The problem I see with any of the ‘isms’ including Marxism, is that it defines human societies primarily as an economic system, a struggle over economics and class power (Marxism), or domination by economics (Soviet-style socialism), or exploitation by economics (Capitalism). The problem in every case, in every form of social organization, is the insistence that economics is the most important sector, the only sector that really matters.
I think we have gotten this hierarchy of social needs completely upside down. Economics, in any form, is always on top, considered the most important social need; political process is second, as the means by which the economic process is governed, and (maybe) third is the social “sector” of caring for each other and the earth. It could easily be argued that the culture of caring doesn’t enter the picture at all as a social need in modern societies, or just barely.
What has to come first and foremost is caring for each other and the earth. Second, a fair and just democratic process, and third, economic sustainability. I think if we create communities that prioritize the order of meeting human social needs, putting the needs for human and earth caring first, we might do a better job of getting the politics and economics right.
Yes. Ah, Shaun, you’ve gone all indigenous on us. You pesky mystics!
Seriously tho. I’m thinking that this spiritual path is actually the process of CHANGING MY CULTURE. My son came home from school more than once, 2 different school systems, 2 different states, and said, My job is to study hard and get good grades so I can get into a good college and get a good job and GET MINE; and I said, No, dear, your job is to study hard and get good grades and get into a good college so you can get a good job to help create a society in which ALL PEOPLE ARE INCLUDED. Richard Rodriguez says in Days Of Obligation that Anglo people want to grow up and get a good job so they can move away from their parents, but Mexicans(indigenous/latin) want to get a good job so they can come back and help their parents. And living here in the eternally emerging present, everything we are, and everything we have, language and walking upright and technology and domesticated foods, ARE THE GIFT OF THOSE WHO CAME BEFORE, the ancestors, but when did I ever hear about this until African Americans and Native Americans talked about it. Indra’s Net. I also read in one of Thomas Merton’s books that that anti-war movement’s foundation was the personal relationships, personal witness, built by boots- on- the- ground do-gooders in Vietnam. Personal relationships, local action, spreading like ripples on a pond. You live in the present and connect heart-to heart and bide your time for the opportunity to act or speak, a door before you which does appear (O Tashi Tendrel), and you go through. And it’s not that we know that the moral arc of the universe bends toward justice. It’s that every thought, word and deed adds to the tipping point; we don’t know whether or actions will have a significant effect at all or in our lifetime, but to act as if they will IS THE ONLY WAY TO LIVE. So you are so correct, Shaun, the personal is the political, and heart-to- heart shall win the day.