On Countdown, Tuesday, Nov. 9th. 2010, some very important words were exchanged between Keith Olbermann and Michael Moore, so here they are again from the transcript:
OLBERMANN: This is the greatness of capitalism. This is it. It‘s like—oh, we have all the money. Print some more. We don‘t have enough all the money.
MOORE: Yes. And let me kick you in the face while I‘m doing it.
OLBERMANN: Right. And then charge you for using my boot.
This political exchange between Olbermann and Moore transcends the Dem-progressive Discourse, and tells the fundamental truth to the American people, or at least to those who watch Countdown. Thankfully, Michael Moore, producer of “Capitalism: A Love Affair,” has done this before, but sometimes he gets pinned down by the daily bombardment of (mostly Republican) phony claims and pseudo-arguments, and unfortunately he does not advance this key message. Hopefully, I think Keith Olbemann is beginning to see that there is no way to tweak or repair America’s socio-economic system. When two intelligent minds spark one another, as they did the other night on Countdown, then the truth comes out, if only for 15 minutes.
Please note that these men were not speaking about unregulated capitalism, or casino capitalism, or savage capitalism, or any of the numerous descriptions or variations of this brutally archaic kind of society that might open the possibility of humanizing/improving it. Rather, they said and meant “Capitalism,” because they were talking about the inherent nature of this society, and not some aberration of it. This rarely happens on Prime Time Cable/Satellite TV, or anywhere in mainstream America, but it needs to happen a lot more everywhere.
More of the best and brightest people in America need to get on message, and stay on message, regarding the root-problem of this country, and the entire world: Capitalism has to go and be replaced by a cooperative and sharing socio-economic system akin to Socialism–adapted for 21st Century America. This doesn’t mean abandoning immediate, specific struggles; but rather, it means analyzing and addressing them within the larger context of Capitalism or Socialism.
The way We build a deep, long-range movement for change in America is to explain/demonstrate to people how much everyday suffering and death is the direct and/or indirect result of a private sector economy (beyond Congressional control) whose bottom line is profit. This constitutional/institutional insanity has to end, but it won’t stop until those who understand what is happening and why it is happening, speak out about it, and gather around the higher awareness of a society without exploitation.
For the moment, this is a very small group, which makes political education the primary task. Given the widespread political ignorance, and political stupidity (to be honest) in America, any vote-based or vote-getting strategy for structural change at this time is doomed to failure. Given the consciousness of the majority of people as they exist today, the people are not just there ready to be empowered. Their emergence presupposes a political awakening, and that requires actions, not excluding electoral campaigns, that have a transparent educational function.
Examples of such acts are the attendance of political, speeches, debates, press conferences where it is possible to ask critical questions about Capitalism and friendly questions about Socialism; the picketing of Wall Street and other major centers of financial power that are clearly identified in the popular mind with the Capitalist market economy (as happens at the end of Moore’s last movie); organizing rallies, town hall meetings, TV and radio shows that explain to people how Socialism would solve the growing crises all around us; perhaps an electoral candidacy (the socialist Cindy Sheehan because “principle first” but personality matters?) that confronts the ugly truth about Capitalism, and translates spontaneous protests, demands, and desires into the social need for a radical re-making of society?
On a different level is the action of opening our homes (and places of business) to socialist learning circles, and autonomous local bases for spreading the word. Last but not least, forming internet communities in favor of public ownership and workers’ control of America’s intellectual and material resources–which is a simple, broad and concrete working definition of Socialism–could be very helpful for the long haul? In short, there are plenty of ways and means to grow a Radical Left on American soil, and the failure to do so perpetuates the lie that there is no alternative to Capitalism.
This bold communication between Michael Moore and Keith Olbermann was quickly dropped, and it did not continue after the commercial break, so We need to keep it going, develop it, repeat it, and perfect it because the best defense against the accusation of being a Socialist is a good offense about what Socialism really is, and why everyone would benefit from it. Socialism is a simple thing that’s hard to do, but it’s within the potential of the human species because evolution has prepared us, deep down/genetically, to live, share, and prosper on this planet –all misanthropes and fatalists aside.
I’m posting today, not to convert others who are pursuing different strategies–for intelligent diversity may eventually lead to political convergence and consensus– but rather to connect with others “on here” who agree with these words of wisdom by Olbermann and Moore, and who are ready and able to amplify them in new and creative ways?
Just before posting I came across a recent (2010) interview with Cindy Sheehan — here’s a quote from the interview:
“I think the greatest advantage of having a high-profile Socialist presidential campaign is that we can educate people that they aren’t alone and that they are not lazy or the problem. The problem is simply Capitalism-not “crony Capitalism” or “predatory Capitalism,” because Capitalism is inherently crony and predatory,” said Cindy Sheehan. And I would add that Corporate Capitalism is another descriptive or qualifying term that should not be used to suggest that corporations can be abolished or controlled, in order to preserve or save Capitalism because little Capitalism becomes big Capitalism, inexorably so, according to the Logic of Capital (see Marxian theory). We need to take the long run up and get it right this time.
Maybe Cindy has come to the same conclusion that I have: namely, we can’t build a successful coalition or a successful movement without the clear, definite End/Objective that Socialism provides? No one has tried harder in my opinion than Cindy Sheehan. The question remains: What’s our best “strategy”? I’m not certain, and I don’t believe anyone can be, so without criticizing the efforts of others on FDL (or Democrats in general for that matter) whose good intentions I do not doubt , I’m adding my perspective to the mix: in the words of Cindy Sheehan, “Socialist ideas need to make a come back.” My hope is that she will eventually run as a socialist, if not in name, in the spirit of Eugene Debs — who ran for president 5 times — and that will generate interesting possibilities?
The Greens have brought together a lot of aware people around specific issues and key principles, but now “the party has been overrun or infiltrated by Democrats who want to discredit the party or pull it to the right,” according to Cindy Sheehan. I fear something like this will happen to any coalition or movement that lacks the guiding light of Socialism to identify, unify, and focus individuals on the long journey ahead. We need to know essentially “what” We are building. We can and should work effectively within actually existing organizations, movements, and communities by revealing and extending to people the viable, tangible option of a counter-reality, free from the vicious spirit of Capitalism that has inhabited and ravaged this planet for too long.
America, just like every society, is full of tendencies going in all directions. It’s the role of the political leadership to bend/direct the positive ones toward the Light through education, using available social, economic, and political opportunities and occasions for that purpose. We must have a Vision, and the movement is the process in which this vision comes into existence. Networking and widening-the- tent are not incompatible with steadfastly holding a focus, and keeping our eyes on the prize of another, better kind of society.
There already exists at least a 150 year old intellectual political consensus that Socialism (in the very basic way that I have defined it) is the Alternative to Capitalism, so there is no reason to re-invent the wheel or start from scratch (yet again) with new platforms, principles, or half-measures that will complicate, divert, fragment, isolate, or weaken this world-wide evolving consensus-vision that an economy of private property, private enterprise, private gain needs to be replaced by one of planning, cooperation and sharing. This is a perspective that I believe we ignore or minimize at our own peril, so let the dialogue continue, for the Truth is the integrated whole.
It’s true that Socialism has failed in America, but all of American history has been the history of failed attempts to achieve a quality life for everyone. Let’s not throw the baby (Socialism) out with the bathe water (inadequate strategies/practices), but rather, let’s try to understand what went wrong?