[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.
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