Many wonder why I have moved so far left. They wonder why I have embraced the terms “socialist” and “communist.”
Now, many tell me that the word “communism” is still too stigmatizing and off putting to people who have not yet been radicalized. This maybe true, to paraphrase Nelson Madela “the oppressor inevitably has control over the tone of the dialogue.”
If this is true, and assuming that it is, then one of the roads to liberation is taking control of the dialogue, and this can only be done by embracing the terms Marxist, Socialist, and Communist, without watering them down through other terms like “liberal” or “progressive.” It should be noted that when we are not talking about Stalinism when we are using the word socialism but the association between the terms Stalinist and Communist is an annoyingly nearsighted one that is not worth addressing.
We should not shy away from the truth of our goal as leftists, which is the abolition of the capitalist state and the creation of cooperative world, free from the toxic nationalism that comes with borders and the racist, colonialist, ableist, patriarchy, which upholds capitalism.
However, there is another reason why we should not shy away from the words communism and socialism, and that is the matter of our planet’s sustainability.
It can no longer be denied that the existence of the humanity and society is dependant on us creating a ecologically sustainable economy and lifestyle. This can only happen through cooperation.
The liberal notion that laws and reforms from the top down can salvage the planet are laughable. (Side note, I am in favor of the Green New Deal, do not mistake this for sectarianism) What I mean is that simple band-aid acts such as carbon taxes or emissions limits passed by bourgeoise politicians will do nothing to alter the course of our impending demise. We have approximately one decade to salvage ourselves from a climate crisis and we cannot afford mere reformism to be our savior.
These are moments when I often think about Rosa Luxemburg’s famous line, “Our choices are socialism or barbarism.” Well, the ecological disaster in our midst is barbarism. Socialism or barbarism is not merely a call to action, but a warning. A warning that a top down, non cooperative economy and social structure will inevitably doom our species and the only alternative to that is a democratic cooperative economy. IE, socialism, communism.
The importance of a sustainable, cooperative ecological economy also ties into all issues that are important to the left. Heavy polluting factories are always put in the poorest neighborhoods. Polluted water is raising the infant mortality rate, leaving working class mothers to watch their children die. Pipelines cut through rivers and tribal lands, perpetuating the imperialist colonialism that founded the U.S.
The only way to counter how capitalism pollutes our world is with its antithesis, and the antithesis is socialism.
So when people tell me, “Communism is too dangerous of a term,” or say, “Don’t call it socialism, it’s too off putting!” I say unto them that the destruction of our species at the hands of an economy controlled by the greedy few and not the hungry masses is far more off putting than a few simple words. Words which mean cooperation and liberation I might add!
When people say that leftist language is too dangerous, I say to them what Rosa said, “Our choices are socialism or barbarism.” The barbarism is about to kill us, it is time for socialism!