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More "Profound" Political Insights

Months back I posted an entry regarding common sense political insights that, despite the fact that those who voiced them thought they were being original, were ultimately banal. Here are a few more.

1) You wouldn't like communism so much if you actually lived in a communist regime.

This one is more common amongst people who were still alive during the Cold War, though it does occasionally manifest amongst people who are under the impression that China is a communist country (though they think I'm even crazier when I say that I supported the Cultural Revolution and that China stopped pursuing communism when Mao's political line was defeated).

It is even more annoying when people who apparently "lived under" a communist regime try to teach me about the evils of communism. Often, if I bother to expend the energy and actually engage in a debate that will go nowhere, I discover that they were actually members of the more privileged caste of the disintegrating socialism of the Eastern Bloc. Once I even met a woman who hated communism because her family couldn't be absurdly wealthy. Another time I met a fascist who, hating the fact that "communism promotes equality" (his words), told me he was glad to be living in North America where he could "pursue his individualism." He also seig heiled at me in the parking lot of a grocery store which was frightening - I knew I shouldn't have worn a Mao shirt when I was just trying to buy some bloody orange juice!

For some reason the fact that I live under a capitalism system, and am well aware about what it means to live here, doesn't count as an argument for communism. Apparently I have to have experienced the failed socialisms (and not only have experienced them but to have come to the understanding that the free market is wonderful) to have any right to call myself a communist. The fact that I am currently jobless, that I live in an apartment run by an extortionist slum lord, and that I hate the fact I live in a society where I have to pay to live doesn't count as some sort of valid argument for being a communist.

2) When I was your age I was left-wing as well. Like me, you'll grow out of it.

I first heard this one when I was nineteen and an anarchist. Guess what, I grew up and what did I become? A more mature leftist. I'm not sure how much growing up I still have to do to grow out of my communism considering that I'm 31. Perhaps just being a communist means that I'm at some level of arrested development.

True, there are a lot of people, here at the centres of capitalism, who "grow out" of their radical sensibilities. We have to wonder, though, whether they were really all that left to begin with: whether they understood what was at stake. There's a reason Lenin advocated that we learn revolutionary theory. Oh wait, maybe when I'm forty I will have "grown out" of Lenin...

3) Why don't you move to Cuba?

This one is really funny, considering that most people who say it actually spend the money to go to Cuba on a regular basis. They stay in resorts, never really bother going into the interior, and then make up their mind that Cuba is a super horrible place and that maybe everyone whose politics they hate should go there. Just like they do.

This also assumes that I think Cuba is a communist country. Yes, I know I might be offending some comrades, but Fidel Castro was never a communist: at most he was a radical nationalist who only embraced communism (and a revisionist Kruschevite form, for that matter) for anti-imperialist reasons. Not that I don't support the importance of the Cuban Revolution, but still: at least try to think of a more imaginative "communist place" that I should move to...

4) All social systems are equally evil because humanity is deeply flawed, so why bother?

Another first year university student paper answer! "Since the dawn of time, all human social systems have been evil..." But since this made up "dawn of time" human societies have changed, and some social developments have been progressive. I often ask the people who say this if they would want to live in a pre-capitalist society - if they think that feudalism is morally equivalent (equally "evil") as capitalism?

The best part about this supposedly profound claim is that it usually leads to the successive claim "capitalism is the best thing we've got" .... But WHY is it the best thing we've got? And if that's the case, isn't that assuming that it's BETTER THAN other social systems, in which case all social systems are not "equally evil"?


  1. Those are all pretty annoying, but it's the last one that bothers me the most because I think it is actually built right into the logic of contemporary postmodern liberalism. It's the seemingly-most-progressive line that one "refuses any simple explanations" and rejects any attempts to discern "right and wrong" adopting instead some sort of bizarre relativism [which is also false, since there are a whole host of truth claims inherant in the decision NOT to take a political line.] This is the prevailing ideology of the "hipster" whose only political interventions will be to occasional mock something ironically, whether it is Right or Left is immaterial, all that matters is that some idiot thinks s/he knows something about the world, and this hipster is here to show him/her that she knows nothing becuase nothing is knowable. This logic is reinforced in the official organs on the hipster world, too! Check Pitchfork's review of the latest Arcade Fire record. Comparing their first two records, the review says:

    "'Funeral' was wracked with agony and grief, but what made it one of the transcendent records of the 2000s was that it avoided easy answers. It proposed that the fight of our lives is just that, a fight, but a winnable one. But when they turned that same all-or-nothing intensity outward on 'Neon Bible,' otherwise propulsive and elegant songs were sometimes bogged down by overblown arrangements or pedantic political statements."

    There you have it - don't "bog down" your listeners with "pedantic politics," just refuse to take a committed stance on anything, hold yourself outside and above the fray [a political act in itself, thinking you can/should do that] and judge only the complex emotions and human experiences without linking them into any kind of coherent socio-political analysis.


  2. Word, anonymous. Nihilism was a monster on the horizon in the second half of the 19th century, but here in the 21st, it's a fucking pandemic. Nihilism/Hedonism among the youth is absolutely the worst decay. The youth are supposed to be the future...


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