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1994-9 Selected Political Correpondence

Text coloring decodes as follows:

Black: Ken Ellis
Red: Marx, Engels, Lenin, etc.
Green: Press report, etc.
Blue: Recent correspondent
Purple: Unreliable Info
Brown: Inaccurate quote

May 4, 1994
Dear Dr. and Mrs. G.,

   I'm well along on a major re-write [of my book], one of my umpteenth by now, but it's looking better and better. I even have a new title for it, "'Left'-Wing Lies" is what I'm considering now. Notice that the 'Left' is in quotes, for even though the SLP claimed to be socialist, its ideology boiled down to being so reactionary, for all of the anarchist lies that constituted it, that they really turned it into right-wing ideology. I think that it will be a catchy title for the eyes of a lot of people. A subtitle might be - 'A worker discovers anarchy, bureaucracy, censorship and fraud in the Socialist Labor Party in the 70's.' We'll see.

snip

   The only sensible way to avoid a crisis is to shorten the length of the working day, to spread around to more people what little work is left, but for the same pay. 6 hours today, 4 hours in another generation or two, etc. But, a move like that would require political will, a will that is absent in this country right now, thanks in part to the anarchists, who have been telling the lower classes for over a century not to think politically. 'Radicals' in the service of the ruling classes, making sure that the big change in this world will happen with lots of violence. It was Marx who many times said that we could get off cheapest if we could buy out the owners of everything, but that never seems to make it onto the social agenda. It's my job to put it there, with the publication of my book. Gotta make it good.

 

September 30, 1994
Dear Friends,

   Thank you for the letter and tape I got in the mail the other day. It's always good to hear from you, but this was an extra special treat. I really enjoyed the oral history. It's wonderful to hear about how people lived way back when. It made me think of what I would do if I had more time, which would be to record the reminiscences of all the old timers I know for posterity, and even to make a radio series out of it. I can identify with your joy at having earned 15 cents with the horse and wagon. It reminded me of the time I found a dime on the sidewalk when I was a kid ...

   In the book, I go into my history of involvement with the SLP, how I became disillusioned after discovering that they propped up their party program with quotes out of context from Marx and Engels. I assumed that the new crop of intellectuals with whom I worked would be less corrupt than the much older leaders who had done the bulk of the falsifying and had since deceased, but the new crop was as corrupt as the old crew, jealously guarding the utopian, worthless program from which they could still make a living by perpetuating. They had bureaucratic ways of seeing to it that only they had the keys to the party press, thus making sure that my desire to share my discoveries with the membership would never be fulfilled. So, what's a poor boy to do but to quit and someday write a book about the bureaucracy, censorship, secrecy, sectarianism, and the bourgeois structure that helped them maintain the fraud behind the party program?

   My experience with the left since then has proven that many other 'progressive' institutions, including the radio station I used to work for, use exactly the same devices of bureaucracy, censorship, secrecy and sectarianism to maintain whatever bourgeois agenda they have going. ...

   It was precisely my process of looking at the way the Party falsified Marxism that enabled me to discover what precisely Marxism really was. In Marx's day, it was the establishment of workers' parties, the replacement of monarchies by social and democratic republics, and in a republic, the agenda was reform in the interests of the lower classes.

   Nowadays, bourgeois economists are predicting that, by the end of the next century, machinery and robots will make physical labor obsolete altogether, thereby phasing out 50 million or so jobs in the next hundred years. If phasing out physical labor sounds like an unheard of amount of technological progress, just think of the advances we have made in the past century, and compare what we have now with what they had 100 years ago. But, no matter what century it happens in, physical labor will become obsolete someday, that we can count on, though I have not had a lot of success in convincing people that such a day is coming. It's an easy one to deny, given the relatively low state of technology in place at the present.

   So, the big question is, what will society do with all of the people who are going to be phased out of jobs? If we stay on the same path as now, it obviously means more jails, drugs, alienation, detention camps, repression, etc., that we have been getting for a long enough time already. On the other hand, there is an intelligent solution, hopefully not too intelligent to be a viable option, and that is to reduce the length of the working day to match the replacement of labor by technology. Marx made the remark that the Ten-Hour Bill of 1847 represented the replacement of the political economy of the bourgeoisie with that of the proletariat. Engels was equally enthusiastic about the 8-Hour Bill of 45 or so years later. Today, the 6-Hour day is past due, but it would be a big step toward putting a tremendous number of people back to work. Concomitant reforms would have to include the six-hour day for the same pay as eight, and double-time after 30 hours per week, triple after 40, quadruple after 50, etc., which would make it prohibitive to ask anyone to work the crazy overtime that some skilled labor works nowadays, where 60 hours at time-and-a-half costs the employer only 70 hours of pay. Under my reform, 60 hours of labor would cost the employer 120 hours of pay, which would make crazy amounts of overtime prohibitive.

   So, that's what I learned from my study of Marx and Engels, but Lenin wasn't much help because of his emphasis on concentrating all property into the hands of the state all at once. What Engels described as a process, Lenin decreed as final on the first day of the revolution. Even in the Communist Manifesto, Marx and Engels wrote of centralizing all capital into the hands of the workers' state by slow degrees, not all at once. The program of concentrating property into the hands of the state was intended by Marx and Engels to have been implemented after the world-wide revolution in the most advanced capitalist countries, and shouldn't have been attempted in one semi-backward country all at once. The past century of experience seems to have shown that the state ownership model in the marginal countries is not as good at solving the problems of production as is the market capitalism model. What Marx and Engels wrote in the Manifesto implied that capitalism was to survive the workers' revolution, and that it was to be the economic system of socialism, at least for awhile. If there had been a magical system to replace capitalism that would have solved all of the problems associated with it, Marx and Engels surely didn't think it up.

   At the same time, the violent revolution was applicable to the European monarchies of the last century. Marx was in favor of alliances with bourgeois democrats in order to obtain a republic, and once the republic was established, the workers were to assert their own agenda and vie for the power of the state for themselves. Nowadays, the overwhelming majority of the countries in question have become republics, and the agenda in a republic can be nothing but reform until democracy is taken away from them, if such a level of oppression is to be the agenda of the capitalist class. That cannot be predicted with any certainty, but I would lay my money on peaceful change from now on, and the reason for that is the incredible degree to which we now communicate with each other, in comparison to the last century. Electronics has made a huge difference, and the level at which we communicate now is primitive compared to how we will communicate 20 or 50 years from now.

   So, with all of this in mind, the best way to alleviate human suffering is to put more people to work, and the best way to do that is to organize politically to redistribute what little work that remains among many more people. This will also finally get us on the road to abolishing class distinctions, which Marx defined as the ultimate goal of the movement. As the working day finally gets down to zero, when there no longer is a need to coerce work out of anyone, class distinctions will then be close to having been abolished. It's too bad that we won't see it in our day, so I have been telling people lately that I was born in the wrong century, for if I had my choice, it would to have been born in the century when there no longer is any work to be done, for I am that lazy at heart. Is this all a lazy man's daydream? Let me know, and wake me up if need be.

 

February 6, 1995
Dear Mrs. G.,

   Thank you for your kind words about my book. I, too, hoped that George could have seen my manuscript before he passed away. In it were all of my motivations for doing what I did back then. As much as I would like to have a fresh start to relive many situations I once found myself in, one thing for sure is that none of us can go back and do things over again, at least not at this early stage of time travel.

... I wouldn't worry too much about not being able to understand the theoretical portions. If I can understand the theory, then anybody else can, though the scoundrels among us have already proven their ability to use their understanding to make a muddle of theory, confuse us, and make things look a lot more complicated than what they really are.

   The bulk of the book debunks a massive anarchist muddling of history. The tower of Babel of anarchist theory is oversimplified in some places, complicated elsewhere, and always self-contradictory. Marxism, however, consists of little more than what Marx observed in his day, and though history didn't turn out the way he predicted, at least he reported history the way it really happened, and was always on the side of the little guy.

   Anarchy, on the other hand, is a swindle that mostly works under cover and hardly ever announces to the world just exactly what it is. It serves the exploiters to split the lower classes into factions, but one could hardly blame the anarchists alone, nor any other group for holding back the changes that need to occur. They are just another obstacle to have to overcome as developments press us to work our way toward clarity. We live in interesting times.

   Because a billion people in the world have recently given up on state ownership, and because of the many mistakes that have been made in its name, socialism is at its best mostly when we think of it as reforms in the interests of the lower classes in a democracy. Being only a little familiar with Socialist Party history, I can only guess that advocating reforms in the interests of the lower classes was what that gave the SP its large base of support and ensured its success in America. For Marx as well, the only item on the agenda in a democracy is reform. Violent overthrow of the undemocratic monarchies was to be a last resort, but not to be shied away from, if necessary. My suggestion would be to not worry about the text that you can't easily fathom, but to continue on with an eye out for things that readily do make sense, and continue on in that fashion to the end. There is much in the ms. that reads like prose, and can be read like a story.

... The founders of socialism predicted that social progress depended on the political supremacy of the workers, but at least in the foreseeable future, I think that social progress will instead depend upon workers mastering the labor market, and distributing what little work remains for humans to do among everyone, until we abolish the economic necessity of having to find work.

   I can understand your concern over the title of my work. I don't understand why I have stuck with it for so long either, even long enough to stick it on the cover of the ms. The previous title was "Anarchy, Bureaucracy, Censorship and Secrecy", which was all that my little mind could think up until a year ago. In my computer memory, I actually have quite a few pages of proposed titles and combinations with sub-titles. "'Left'-Wing Lies" has a lot of punch to it, and to me represents the frustration of being subjected to exactly what I found in the SLP - a pack of lies for patient scatologists to sort out.

   Thank you for the alternative title that you suggested. The historical aspect of "A History of the SLP" certainly has a ring of appropriateness to it, but such a title connotes respect for the organization about which the history was written. A book exposing a party with such a history of renegacy and fraud needs a title more appropriate to the objective in mind, which was to declare an unwillingness to compromise with the sordid lies that I found, and to condemn those who perpetrate fraud and lies, or who merely allow the lies to be perpetrated without protest, perhaps because they are making a living from marketing them, and the questioning of the lies could potentially pose a threat to their financial security. For more perspective on the issue of lies, read the two paragraphs on page 167, just before the chapter on "The Reagan-Bush Legacy". With these circumstances in mind, perhaps we could apply our minds to the search for a possible better title.

   Another major point of the book is to persuade the honest portion of the progressive community that they have in many cases bought into plausible and attractive theories of social change that may have been partially based on socialist or progressive thought of one sort or another, but at least some of what they accept as gospel might very well be based upon fraud, lies, deception, and all of the nasty things that our parents taught us not to practice. The progressive community has to come to terms with this aspect of their belief systems if they recognize aspects thereof in what I have debunked. They have to learn to compare theories and throw out the rubbish if they want to advance a truly lower class agenda, instead of advocating programs that do not have the slightest chance of being realized, all the while being victimized by bureaucratically controlled national organizations, from which vantage point local members are micro-managed, censored and filled with sectarian nonsense about themselves being the only hope for humanity.

   It is not an easy job for me to present a book with such a title to people whose life-long work I respect, and you are not the only person I respect who has expressed severe doubts about the appropriateness of the title. A book with such a title has to be a shock to honest people who have worked all their lives for social justice, and who would also be the last people on earth to willingly and knowingly perpetrate fraud on their fellow humans. And yet, most of the people with whom I associated in my early days in the Party were in exactly the same boat, seriously tackling the building of a system of social justice, never suspecting in the least that their work was counterproductive, or semi-productive at best. They are people as honest as you and I, and even the non-intellectual people in the National Office where I worked were for the most part honest and concerned with building 'socialism'.

   Conservative forces in this country are in command of the ideology of the majority of the people precisely because progressive forces cannot seem to put across a program that is not somehow attached to government intervention in the economy, which today is attacked by conservatives as socialist, and is red-baited accordingly. Job programs, affirmative action, minimum wage laws, universal health care, welfare, what am I leaving out? You name what the progressive community espouses, and the bulk of it depends on government programs and intervention, precisely at the time that the Republicans are leading a charge to trim government and get it out of the pockets of big business, and they have the support of many millions of common folk. It will be very difficult to make much progress while such irresistible forces buck immovable objects. The left may have to find a new direction that transcends both government intervention and the trimming back of useful government programs.

   Almost imperceptibly nowadays, a shift in the political landscape has taken place in which the Democratic Party with all of its tax-and-spend liberals has increasingly been attacked as a party of socialism, while the bourgeois anarchists have moved into the Republican Party to try to get the government and the tax burden off the backs of the propertied classes and business people. There seem to be very few people between these two extremes, except for the few of us who have done our homework and can see where we're headed. According to Jeremy Rifkin, who also advocates the 30-hour week, the end to all work will happen within 50 years. A more conservative estimate predicts 90 years until the end of all physical labor. How soon we will be ready to intelligently choose a life style between lots of leisure and comfort, or with lots of unemployment, crime and jails depends on our getting the chance to hear arguments presented intelligently, and it also depends on our abilities to intelligently sort out lies that come from either the right or the left.

   For nearly 30 years I have felt like I should make a contribution to making a difference in whether our fate as a society should be that of suffering interminably or not, and the only way I can do that is by taking up the issues as I come across them, one by one. As Engels wrote to Laura Lafargue in 1889, ".. if we are not to go against the popular current of momentary tomfoolery, what in the name of the devil is our business?" My perception of what's wrong with progressive thought is that a good portion of it is based upon lies and/or ignorance. If the progressives were all aligned against the tomfoolery of the Republicans and Democrats, I would join them wholeheartedly; but if the progressives are all aligned against each other for no reason other than ruling class tomfoolery dominating their organizations, then maybe we have to spend a little time cleaning up our own back yards before we can clean up society as a whole. My book is aimed at a potential audience of many who have had unsatisfactory experiences in so-called progressive movements, but have not yet taken the trouble to analyze why, and would not mind seeing lain out the experience of someone who did take the time to make sense of his unsatisfactory experiences.

   And now that the project is almost done, I too have thought about getting on with my life. And just in time, there seems to be a new labor party being organized all over the country, one that really seems to be based upon labor, and not just the left. That gives me hope that my experience could make me useful to this new labor party someday. Many of them are also interested in a shorter work week, and I hope that my clarity on the issues will enable us to avoid the mistakes of failing to be sufficiently interested in politics, and, on the other hand, getting too much on the government program bandwagon. We shall see.

... Some of my associates have suggested that I make a doctoral dissertation out of my book, and to pursue academic notice of it. That would also help get it noticed and published. In the meantime, the stack of rejections from publishers piles up on my desk.

 

February 25, 1995
OCAW Research and Edu. Dept.
Dear brothers and sisters,

   Enclosed is a copy of an article I wrote last year on Technology and Unemployment. The part about profits needs further work, but you'll get the general idea, which was the result of lots of research into the roots of socialism and anarchism, neither of which are appropriate to the USA at this time, if they ever will be. If, on the other hand, labor took control of the labor market to withhold its services in an organized fashion by reducing the length of the work-week, labor would then be able to stop glutting the market and start creating demand for its services. Increased demand for a militant limited supply would then translate into higher wages, and band-aid programs like minimum wage laws, affirmative action, and welfare for the able would soon become superfluous. Homelessness and much of the crime problem would also disappear.

 

April 19, 1995
Kurt L., New Party
Dear Kurt,

   Thanks for the quick delivery of the newsletter; I'm glad that it didn't take anywhere near the three or four weeks to reach me that you indicated it might in our phone conversation.

   First of all, the newsletter very appropriately advocates small-d democracy, but I am sorry to see that it doesn't appear weekly, and that there isn't a long letters section in which all of the issues that have yet to be hammered out could be hammered out in a free forum, somewhat in the way that the Anderson Valley Advertiser serves as a weekly forum here in California. That paper is interested in the formation of what they call an Egalitarian Party, and I was pleasantly surprised when they printed my suggestion to add a platform plank advocating a reduction in the length of the work week.

   Please allow me to criticize a few of the things that I saw in the statement of principles:

1) That we need a "democratic revolution in America". This seems to be flat wrong, for most people will tell you that democracy was established here 200 years ago, and it has been evolving ever since. Until the upper classes take representative democracy away from us, I don't think that the NP should talk about revolution, advocacy of which will only relegate the NP to a lonely spot somewhere out on the fringes, and will probably at the very least prevent it from acquiring a mass base of support.

2) "Peaceful revolution" is a contradiction in terms. Political revolution by its very nature is nothing less than violent. If it wants to talk about peaceful anything, the NP should talk about peaceful evolution instead. Revolution is appropriate when the lower classes smash monarchies and build democracies, and when they overthrow colonial oppressors in acts of national liberation.

3) If "free deliberation is the best hope for achieving the blessings of liberty", the NP should use its resources wisely to start an uncensored weekly print forum. As you are probably aware, censorship is the weapon of those who have a lot to fear from open discourse.

   Since becoming part of the left at the beginning of the seventies, much of what I have found there has been little better than bureaucracy, censorship, internal secrecy, and sectarianism, all working together to support various kinds of fraud. I hope that the NP can eschew that trend, and not be just one more waste of time for everyone but its salaried leaders. To abet internal democracy, NP should publicize everything, including all of its internal business. To me, the lack of clarity amongst its principles is symptomatic of the disease that afflicts most leftist organizations I have run into so far. In order to stand a chance of becoming healthy, NP should begin by opening up its dialog channels and 'letting it rip'.

   The NP should also publicize how it was founded, what its structure is, how its internal democracy works, how it is funded, how the cash flows, and what bureaucratic mechanisms, if any, the founders use to keep themselves at the top of the heap. If the NP has nothing to fear from the lower classes, then it should not be afraid to make all of this public knowledge. If it claims to represent the interests of the lower classes, the NP should allow itself to be subjected to their scrutiny.

   I would be glad to write a piece for the NP on why neither socialism nor anarchism are appropriate to the USA, and I am no doubt working on it anyway, and I would think that a party that was really interested in progress for the lower classes would welcome a serious debate on that issue. But where is the space for it in the New Party News, or in any other of its forums?

 

September 06, 1995
Dear Olive,

   In addition to illusions about helping to build a labor party, I'm also presently helping to organize an all news, talk, and information micro-power radio station in this neck of the woods. There's a gray area in the law that enables people to communicate this way without too much harassment from the FCC. A big question that the Feds have to answer is whether there is freedom of speech for all, or only for those who can afford expensive licenses. We'll see what happens as we go along.

   I finally got word from my potential publisher about the status of my book. They seem to have given up on publishing due to the ascending costs of paper, and recommended that I pursue other publishing possibilities, but I haven't put much effort into it, though I'll soon send off a manuscript to a vanity press known as Vantage Press. It won't cost me anything to find out if they think it's good enough for them to publish.

   I enclose a copy of a letter recently published in a theoretical journal, many of whose readers have roots in the SLP. It's also a bit more technical than what many other publications may be able to put up with. I'm also unhappy with the way it turned out; in trying to keep it short enough to fit on two pages, I left out too many ideas. So, in my article for the AVA, I stretched out and made sure that everything that needed to be said got said, even though it took 15 pages. Polishing it took so much of my time that I didn't have much time left over to work on this letter. I later got a letter from the Editor asking me to shorten the article, so have been working on two different shorter versions, which have also kept me from finishing this letter.

   I write what I can, when I can. My involvement in the community nourishes my efforts, balancing theory with practice. Though my ideas get opposed by doctrinaire ideologues, my steadfastness in purpose compels further thought, refinement, and development on my part so as to make my ideas more palatable and logical. At the library, I found a century-old union motto that reads, "Whether you work by the piece or the day, decreasing the hours increases the pay."

 

November 01, 1995
Dear Olive,

   I've been getting more involved in the labor party movement; I am working on a platform preamble and a list of platform measures. On Oct. 14th, I received my first ugly comment about my attitude toward socialism (as printed in one of my manifestos) in front of 30 other people, but the greybeard judged it without even having read it in its entirety. I think he likes to grandstand, but I hope that I will have a chance to explain a little about socialism to him. We can't afford to be theoretically bankrupt if we're going to get anywhere. In my Oct. 28 discussion group meeting, I also found out that there are many more dogmatic ideologues there than what I had thought, and it doesn't look too good for the good guys, for it looks like all of the ideologues are against me. They didn't even know that Marx prescribed violent overthrow of old feudal monarchies, but peaceful change in democracies. Their confusion around what a labor party should be about will render us fit only for wandering endlessly in misery. We are bound to suffer a lot more before we get anything straight, sorry to predict.

   I am in regular correspondence with an old socialist from New Jersey, but no matter how many crimes I list that our old party committed against its own members, I can't seem to generate any indignation on his part, and no interest in the possibility that he and others were swindled by early party theorists. Without any indignation over lies and betrayals, there is no stimulus to change any aspect of one's belief systems. I can't understand why people do not get indignant over having been swindled on the ideological plane, for, unlike religious sentiments, I thought that socialist sentiment was grounded in much more easily documentable and ascertainable facts and effects of modern-day life. I thought that socialists were not religious because they couldn't care less if something happened 2,000 years ago, due to the relative impossibility of documenting what happened back then, but did care enough about what's happened in the last two centuries to think about studying it carefully. My old party, especially, still goes around proudly proclaiming how scientific they are, though I never saw much science when I was a sympathizer, and even less when I became a member. As a result of mutual monologues with M.P., however, I am beginning to think that he would rather be regarded as a socialist come hell or high water, maybe because of his human need to belong to something, and maybe because no refutation of mine could possibly have any effect on his socialist beliefs. Thus, Marx, Engels, and De Leon for him became new priests or gods of socialism, at whose feet he worships. I will mention this to him to see if it makes any sense.

   I sent my manuscript to a vanity press known as Vantage, and they sent me back a publishing proposal. They want over $22,000, and want to publish in a 8+1/2 by 11 format, which is too large. I don't think I'll accept, for many more reasons than money.

 

January 24, 1996
Dear Ollie,

   The article that I submitted to the AVA got censored. The editor must have chickened out and refuses to print anything more of mine. So, maybe I have to expand my horizons and look beyond the left to get my stuff printed. Being part of the left is my only political experience so far, and am reluctant to abandon it, but what's a censored writer to do but to go on looking for happy hunting grounds? If only I had the initiative, but when doors slam in my face, I tend to collapse and sulk. If I sulk at the door of the left long enough, maybe I'll learn to move on. At least I still have my radio show, so I continue to self-publish in that medium, even though my particular station has a fairly poor record of intellectual stimulation, often playing punk music for hours on end.

   Things in Labor Party Advocates got quite disappointing last fall. All that I wrote and said fell on deaf ears and blind eyes. Our chapter is the largest in the Bay Area, but we will probably not contribute a thing to the national process of generating a working class platform for our national convention this summer. My discussion group has not had a single fruitful meeting so far, mostly because of the lack of concern of its organizer. Not a single concrete platform proposal has yet been debated.

   My correspondence with the old timer from New Jersey continues, but with little satisfaction on either side. My last letter seems to have disappointed him, presumably for my having strayed from the De Leonist path. I'm asking in turn if he can imagine De Leon straying from the path of true science. I'm gently applying increasing amounts of pressure to try to get him to crack, or to say something real, by escalating the intensity of my arguments.

   Now for your last letter: From your response, it looks as though my last letter must have bothered you a little. But, what a response, compared to the old timer from N.J.! You were on point, directly addressing what I wrote about socialists swindling other socialists, while Monroe has yet to make a comment on the morality of socialist swindles. I haven't been able to get him to at all comment about the crimes against consciousness that the Party committed. It seems to be very true what you write about old socialists not taking time to really educate themselves about the validity of their movements. For every 'great proletarian socialist revolutionary leader', there have to be 100 or 1,000 followers who can be relied on to provide financial assistance, as long as the perceived party line is upheld. Ambitious activists within organizations compete to take command of various contingents, to get control of the bureaucracies they are a part of. So, if a boat is to be rocked, it can only be rocked gently, lest the boat capsize, ruining the lifestyles of the bureaucrats. They therefore can only be conservative, even though their party lines can be quite radical or revolutionary. Due to the impossibility of revolution in democracies, lots of contradictory situations manifest in radical parties. The more ideologically radical, the worse things get.

   With unpopular viewpoints such as mine, I may forever remain on the outsides of organizations, looking in. Sometimes, as with the SLP, Pacifica and LPA, I was inside looking out, and I certainly needed the experiences, and wouldn't have had a critique if I didn't, but I tend to quickly get stifled by bureaucracies. As an independent, I am free to say what I want, but without a contingent along to help advocate for shorter hours, I have little influence. I would like to be part of a movement unafraid to break with past methods of doing things, i.e., censoring dissent, using bureaucratic structures, operating in secrecy, and afraid to address really hard questions. If I don't start it, though, it may never arrive. I sometimes wonder in amazement why movements that make no sense flourish, while those that would make sense don't exist. If they did, social problems would be nowhere near so intense, what with so many going hungry, homeless, and without health care plans. As you put it so well, 'there sure is plenty to be indignant about ... right now.'

   And, what do we do about it? My theory about why the left is moribund is that they are still pretty much hung up on anarchist and socialist collectivization ideologies, they never consider the impossible logic of such schemes, considering historically that they were far more easily implemented after overthrowing feudal monarchies in backward countries, or after winning independence from colonial domination, for only then did workers and socialists have the requisite force within their hands to collectivize means of production, whereas merely winning elections in western democracies did not give them the force required to collectivize. But, leftists hang on to collectivization schemes, despite the impossibility of their being implemented in the democracies in which they live, because they've been prevented from accessing arguments they need to hear in order to help them think things through. Leftist bureaucrats aren't willing to open up the pages of their journals to discussions of their impossible ideologies, as my experiences with censorship have shown, for it is the selling of revolution that keeps them in business. Regarding them as small businesses with ideological products to bring to market makes their behavior with respect to failing to react responsibly to reality more logical. Because collectivization schemes never represented the interests of workers in advanced capitalist democracies in the first place, workers stayed out of anarchist, communist and socialist movements in droves, allowing more entrepreneurial classes to exploit movements as they saw fit. Being entrepreneurs, they saw opportunities to provide a variety of 'isms for suckers to try their luck with, and if someone did not appreciate Leninism, they could go down the road and join a Maoist party, or they could join the De Leonists, the Castro-ites, Trotskyists, or else start their own party, which many did. What the useless parties have in common is some form of collectivism that doesn't make any sense, for the lack of physical force that would be required to implement them in democracies that they will never be able to gather as long as democracy exists. Civil war would be required to change ownership of means of production, and one of the lessons of our own Civil War period was that it took a tremendous amount of force to get the South to give up its private ownership of slaves. Think of the war we would have over collectivizing means of production in general. But, people join ideological groups anyway, support them sometimes for life, or get tired, give up, and go home to watch TV. This is what we are up against in the USA, where so few people have taken the time to study the problem in the depth with which it really needs to be studied, but when someone of few means finally does come along and does some of the work, it violates the mind set of most leftist bureaucrats, there is no market for the information, and a forum for unpopular views fails to be established. But, if we were born rich, and could create our own media outlets, we would not then be so interested in the plight of the lower classes, would we?

   The nice part of researching Engels' possible doubts about the program that he and Marx upheld throughout their lives (as we've been led to believe), is that I can imagine that at least part of the left understands that we have to do something real about social problems, might be right on the edge of abandoning old notions about how to solve our problems, but could use some inspiration by way of an indication that one of the founders of socialism did not have the perfectly unshakable strength of complete conviction of socialism's value, and might have been led by someone like Edouard Bernstein to question its value near the end of his days. The actual surfacing of a weakness like that just might enable a new movement to arise. It's worth at least someone pursuing, I'm sure, if it hasn't already been done. At the rate I get nowhere, I could think of lots of worse things to do with my time. I would have to do the research right here in Berkeley through microfilm libraries and interlibrary loans, for I could never stand the stress of traveling on a shoestring.

   I am glad that we can write candidly to each other, even when we suspect that the other might need 'encouragement instead of pessimism'. Actually, I thrive on pessimism, or in getting to the root of it. Because there are so many possibilities, given the depth of the mistakes that we are making in how things get run, that I hold out for the day when we finally begin to let a little light shine on the subject. My job is to find the light, let it shine from one dark corner, and watch people finally come around. As soon as a few competent people join me, then my job will be at least half-done.

   I don't feel as much like a martyr in life as much as a fool; I swallowed a lot of garbage in my day because I didn't know any better, might even have been so foolish as to be sure enough of myself not to accept guidance if it was offered, and now at this stage, there is no doing it over again, or embarking on anything too much out of the ordinary. I physically can't take much stress any more, so may be able to do little more than slide down paths of least resistance till the end. Others seem to lie, cheat, steal, murder and get along just fine without any advice from me. But, we need a movement capable of doing something real about social problems, and, being real, will, to me, be inseparable from a movement to apply constant pressure to keep everyone employed. That is the important thing, for everyone has a right to make a living, and not have to lie, kill, cheat and steal to do it. It's up to those with means of livelihood to come around to the position that means of livelihood have to be shared among everyone, and stop vilifying victims of poverty.

 

March 31, 1996
Dear Olive,

   My weekly program on Free Radio Berkeley is going along well; you might have heard something about FRB on Weekend Edition a couple of weekends ago if you listened to National Public Radio. ... On my last show, I got carried away with moralizing about a working class that seems more interested in competing with each other over scarce jobs than in making sure that what little work that remains for humans to do gets shared by everyone in the class, by organizing themselves to withhold their services from the labor market, creating demand for their services, and making it possible for anyone who could use a job to find one at a good living wage.

   I've been expanding my horizons and looking beyond the left to get my stuff printed. I sent in an 'Open Forum' editorial piece for the S.F. Chronicle, and hope to submit a longer article to a couple of literary contests.

   Things in Labor Party Advocates are getting interesting again. Our pre-convention discussion group finally had a meeting last week, and we are taking platform proposals for our founding convention in Cleveland the second weekend in June. At our first meeting, all of the ideologues stayed away, and unionists were able to start putting stuff together that makes sense. Consequently, the stuff that I wrote had practically no competition. It looks as though we will put forth something about converting competition between workers for scarce jobs into competition between bosses for scarce labor. I also have proposals about party democracy and press freedom, which I append to this letter.

   My correspondence with the old timer from New Jersey continues on ... He stated that I give people false hope, for he is still dedicated to revolution no matter what I say, or no matter how well I rebut the theories he believes in. It's too bad that he maintains a lack of awareness of 'under what political conditions' revolution is appropriate, in spite of all of my attempts to 'edjerkate' him. I've also been corresponding with an fellow who was in the SLP with me back in the 70's, and who is critiquing my manuscript for me. He left the Party at the same time that I did for reasons of his own, and never gave up on the basic ideology. I am doing my darnedest to change all that, but it's difficult, and I wonder if I'm making any progress at all sometimes. The whole thing may end up as fruitful as trying to persuade Jews to convert to Christianity, though it may not be as difficult as persuading blacks to become white, or whites to become black.

 

April 28, 1996
Dear Olive,

   I have my airplane tickets for the trek back east, and will definitely be leaving May 7, and had a tentative return on June 4; but I got elected on April 27th as a delegate to the Labor Party convention, so I'll be staying in Cleveland from June 6-9 on my way back out west. My theories must have been worth something, because I got elected, though by the skin of my teeth. I got only 11 votes, but they were enough to get me at the bottom of the list of twelve who got elected out of the sixteen who ran. This good news isn't as good as I wanted, but it's enough to get me where I want to be, so now I've got to get working on some arguments that will carry the day in Cleveland. I am quite happy over this whole thing, for it means that I'm maybe not as theoretically bankrupt as I sometimes, in my darkest dreams, dread that I am.

... though it will certainly not take a revolution to eliminate the competition (merely organizing ourselves into unions and a party will suffice), Engels, in the very same work, called for violent revolution! It's no wonder the anarchists were always accusing Marx and Engels of contradicting themselves, and the anarchists were right, but only sometimes. No one is keeping us from organizing to eliminate competition, so if we were to be so dumb as to organize to try to overthrow our democracies, someone would notice that the small victories we had won in the process of building our all-encompassing organization would dampen most enthusiasm for revolution, and, with any luck, we might discover just exactly what we were doing that was bringing results, and we might be tempted to try it again. The ideological left needs to emblazon Engels' passage on their consciousness.

   My weekly program on Free Radio Berkeley is still going well, and gets better all the time. I finally got an invitation from a listener to my program to contribute to a free local publication that he writes for.

   The editor of the 'Open Forum' editorial page liked my entry, but hasn't printed it yet. I submitted my long 15-page article to a Eugene Debs Memorial literary contest at Indiana State University; and they will decide the winner in the Fall.

   Things in Labor Party Advocates are heating up. Our pre-convention discussion group had another meeting last week, but the socialists managed to rig the agenda before I got there, and I foolishly trusted the process enough not to ask what whether my stuff was on the list, as in the automatic way my old stuff had been listed the previous week. My new stuff contained a bill of rights for labor party members, but now the membership of my chapter will not have a chance to influence the party press or structure before the convention. I have a funny feeling that we are just going to be asked to rubber-stamp ideas that had been hammered out a long time ago, but I'll fight for better ideas as long as there's a chance I can make a difference.

 

May 01, 1996
Jerry Brown, c/o KPFA
Dear Jerry,

   I've been enjoying your show since it started on KPFA. Thanks for all of the good ideas, and for your attention to labor issues.

... we can get what we want solely by eliminating competition between ourselves for scarce jobs. And just think about the ramifications for the morality of society if workers had true freedom to reject jobs at the factory in Minnesota that makes land mines, and if we had true freedom to boycott jobs at logging companies that clear-cut. As it is now, as soon as we leave a job due to moral or environmental considerations, a dozen people gladly jump in to take our places. We could make this a whole new world just by creating a positive demand for labor, and it wouldn't take a revolution to do it, just a good labor party.

 

July 6, 1995
Dear Professor Dowd,

   Monetary analyses of political economy unfortunately don't do enough to fully illuminate the subject for me.

   After many years of thought and activism around the evolution of society, I finally discovered contradictions within both socialism and anarchism, but simultaneously discovered that reducing the hours of labor was written about with great favor by Marx in Capital. If the march of technology reduces the portion of the workday spent producing the necessities of life, then an increasing portion of the workday must be spent producing surpluses that are appropriated by the bosses and the government. And if the work-year is a month longer now than it was in the sixties, and if brutal competition for scarce jobs is responsible for low wages, then these factors could easily explain the poverty of the lower classes, and the high profits, incomes and salaries of the upper classes.

   It would be helpful if you could spend at least part of a session analyzing political economy in terms of labor time, or suggest how to document the amount of labor time involved with producing the necessities of life yesterday, today and tomorrow. Any assistance or guidance you could provide would be appreciated.

 

July 10, 1996
Dear Olive,

   Thanks once again for making it easier to complete my trip through Cleveland for the Labor Party Founding Convention. It was interesting, taught me a lot, and provided me with lots of material for my radio program. On my first 3-hour show, I gave a general overview of both my vacation and the whole four-day convention. On my second program, I read out the Constitution and Platform of the Labor Party, and on the third, I went into specific criticisms of its structure and platform. During the latest show, I got an appreciative call from a woman with a cultured voice who agreed with everything I was saying, particularly my critique of those who continually and mindlessly vilify the rich for the crime of owning property, a basic institution that the majority of us approve of and defend.

   In general, all that the 1400 of us delegates in Cleveland had time to do was to rubber-stamp our approvals of the Party Constitution and Platform, get entertained, and listen to speeches, but there simply wasn't much time for the kind of thorough analysis and discussion that would have been required to iron out the absurdities we adopted, of which there are many. Through my radio scripts, I will soon put together a much more complete analysis of what I saw there and will generate an article out of it ...

   I have often in the past written about politics in an abstract fashion, but recently in a burst of insight figured out a moral angle to the labor market. If competition between workers for scarce jobs prevents workers from boycotting occupations such as building land mines, then converting that competition between themselves for scarce jobs into competition between bosses for scarce labor will enable workers to boycott destructive occupations without fearing permanent unemployment thereafter. A positive demand for labor will free workers to blow the whistle on corporate pollution, unsafe manufacturing processes, clearcutting forests, etc. As it is now, however, whenever we have to make the choice between moral uprightness and personal survival, we always, to a person, with rare exception, seem to choose our own personal immediate, short-term survival. Such is the human condition, and there's little we can do about that, but competition between workers in a glutted labor market is a totally artificial situation that has only lasted a couple of hundred years, and thus is something we can do something about. All that the overworked have to do is walk out at the end of 40 hours unless the bosses pay them double time, and within a few years, double time overtime premiums will become the law of the land. When the suffering of the lower classes gets our society to the breaking point (when will we ever get there?), workers who are increasingly threatened by downsizing, layoffs and replacement by automation will see less difference between themselves and the scabs who are more than willing to replace them, and so will eventually walk out at the end of 40 hours in solidarity with the desperate scabs, for they will eventually 'feel their pain', and will be more willing to share their work with them.

   I sometimes wonder why so few people concern themselves with distributing work more evenly. Many are all too willing to allow unemployment, underemployment, homeless and hunger to continue to spiral upwards, and so I wonder at the moral fiber of a society that allows workers to compete so hard for scarce jobs, allows the ones who have jobs to work so much overtime, and allows 6 million in this country to go homeless due to underwork or low wages. I wonder at the moral fiber of Laborites who are more concerned with winning political office for themselves, 'electing deadlocked politicians' (as you wrote), than they are with putting everyone to work.

 

September 12, 1996
Dear Michael Lerner,

   I was very happy to hear you speak at Cody's Bookstore in Berkeley this past Monday evening. I've been listening to your occasional appearances over KPFA-FM for the past few years, but your analysis of the failure of the left to make headway against the right was never expressed better than when I just heard you. As a theorist, I also have an analysis of the ineptitude of the left that, in my estimation, does not seem to contradict yours, and you may find that it nicely complements yours.

   While doing the hard thinking that needs to be done about Marxism, I discovered that the labor market is our real problem, the exact some problem that Engels identified in 1845, a source of stress on society that can be remedied best by creating an artificial labor shortage, which may in itself be difficult enough to do, but is probably much easier than re-arranging property relations, or trying to attain the political strength required to tax the upper classes. You may be able to relate to that, as indicated by your remark that the left is seemingly stuck in a mode that was more appropriate to battles against feudal monarchies. I think that it is time to bring these arguments to the forefront so that socialists don't endlessly spin their wheels, and instead work for things that may be far more feasible.

 

September 19, 1996
Dear Olive,

   Things in the Labor Party are going slow, probably because the goals of the members are so diverse, and we have yet to discuss what we could all conceivably get behind. I'm a member of a so-called 'Action' committee that hasn't really met since it was transmogrified from a Pre-Convention Discussion Committee. The old appointed chair doesn't seem to want to continue on with his duties, and it was only a few days ago that I got word of a meeting set for September 10th. Then, I discovered that I was the only person the chairman had called to the meeting, and I only brought one other member with me. Then, the two older folks spent most of their time discussing their medical problems. The only positive thing that came out of the 'meeting' was the news that the Executive Board of the chapter is interested in starting up a newsletter of some sort.

   The Labor Party social that was planned for our post-convention update went all right for the most part, but one of the leaders interrupted a speaker from S.F. for whom he must have borne a personal grudge, and, for a while, I was afraid that they were going to start pushing each other away from the microphone. It was rather silly for the first guy not to let the second one speak his piece, and then rebut him later, which proves that rather simple courtesies cannot always be taken for granted in labor circles. It sure made us look like a bunch of infantiles, and I was embarrassed to death to even be there. I told him what I thought of his rudeness, but it was too soon after the heat of the moment to make a dent, for all I got back was defensiveness and denial of his rudeness. One of the nice parts about writing letters is that one cannot interrupt the other.

   Depending on what one means by socialism, maybe it can sound logical at times, though I'm not so sure anymore. In this country, it has usually meant nothing more controversial than taxing the rich to create a 'benevolent' government, or moving to a planned economy, which European Social-Democracies have been doing for a good part of this century. For Lenin, though, socialism meant proletarian dictatorship, which stage of communism supposedly arrives when communist workers, along with the downtrodden, help middle (capitalist) classes overthrow repressive feudal monarchies, and push the resulting democratic republics through to proletarian dictatorship so that socialists can use the force of their new state to rob the rich of their property. Once socialists accomplish this feat, society is theoretically at the stage that Lenin called socialism; and indeed, on the very first day of the Bolshevik Revolution, private ownership of land was abolished there, Russia being the only country in which the Marxist scenario played out anywhere near the way Marx envisioned; but, the scenario was very badly distorted by occurring so far from the heart of Europe, where Marx predicted socialist revolutions would happen first, and was doubly distorted by the fact that no surrounding country revolted in support of Russia, leaving the USSR to struggle alone. [Closer to reality, Germany and Slovakia did revolt, but their revolutions didn't last long.] What was created in the world in the name of socialism was far from the more warm and fuzzy development that Marx envisioned. The progression of social systems from feudalism to capitalism to socialism, as predicted by Marx, is invalid. The fact that socialism occurred in less developed countries shows that socialism is lower in stature than capitalism, and, in less developed countries, only briefly filled a niche in the progression from feudalism to capitalism.

   So, people's understandings of the two major meanings for socialism depend upon whether we come from the more industrialized and democratic countries of the west, or whether we come from more backward countries of the east and south. Whether we think of socialism as merely 'taxing and reforming in the interests of the lower classes', or whether we think of it as a more vigorous 'expropriation of the upper classes by force and violence', depends upon where we live. This corresponds to Marx's two theories of the state: peaceful for democracies, and violent for overthrowing feudal monarchies.

   I read what Einstein had to say about socialism, and though I have always admired him for his scientific achievements, and even worshipped him when I was a kid in the '50's, there is something he wrote that just didn't follow: After his paragraphs describing unemployment, depressions and the crippling of individuals on page 6, his next paragraph merely asserted that socialism and a planned economy were the answers, which I consider to be a non sequitur. I still don't understand how changing property relations, planning the economy, taxing the rich, or any other socialist scheme, logically follow as solutions to the problems that he identified. Maybe a rocket scientist could explain how unemployment, low wages, and social misery necessitate socialism, but I can't figure it out how to get there from where we are, even though it wasn't long ago that I strongly considered socialism to be the answer. Whatever could I have been thinking of? Perhaps I was just repeating what others wanted me to repeat.

   The reason why the western brand of socialism (taxing and spending our way to planned welfare state bliss) will be less and less of a viable alternative to the status quo, is that western socialism, too, only works during a historical niche. Socialism is dependent for its appeal upon a relatively lower level of productivity, such as in our own century, compared to the much higher productivity that future generations will enjoy in the next century and beyond. Consider what would happen if, in the next century, we maintained the 8 hour day, with time and a half after 40 (It's a long story, so put your feet up):

   Labor has traditionally supported the 'lump of labor' theory that simply states that 'there is only so much work that the bosses are willing to pay for.' If there is only so much work out there for us to do, then how that lump gets distributed is entirely up to how the lower classes are willing to divide it up among themselves. But, since time immemorial, we haven't yet developed a plan, or organized ourselves, to divide up the work evenly, and have been content to merely fight among ourselves for the scraps that fall from the masters' tables. Except for extraordinary 'good times', meaning a high demand for labor that drives wages up and employs relatively everyone, society's choice of too long a working day and too small of an overtime premium usually results in overwork for those who have jobs, and too few jobs for the rest, which plays right into the hands of the upper classes, due to the competition for scarce jobs that results in lower wages for us and higher profits for them.

   A little history can show us that, over 50 years ago, increasing productivity of labor beyond all previous levels in history necessitated the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), the 8 hour day, and time and a half after 40 in order to put more people to work. In the earlier part of the past 50 years, the Act provided the prosperity for workers to buy their own homes and send their kids to college, but, in the past half century, real wages barely netted an increase, for the gains of the 40's and 50's were eroded by actual declines since the mid 70 's because productivity has not stood still since passage of the Act, and has improved even more rapidly than before, the time required to produce necessities of life diminishing greatly throughout that era.

   A long time before WWII, workers could pick up their belongings, push west, and homestead land that they could afford to buy or rent, and use the land to become a farmer and eke out an existence. This old alternative disappeared a long time ago. It was the increasing surpluses produced by workers that enabled the upper classes to grab as much land as they did, and then charge too high rates for farmers to buy or rent, thus forcing farmers into the cities to compete with workers for scarce jobs. Two centuries ago, 80% of the people lived on and worked the land; one century ago it was 40%, and today, the figure is down to 1-2%. Agriculture became so efficient that more people than ever were 'freed' to go to the cities to produce clothes, shelter and necessities other than food, as well as produce all of the surpluses and non-necessities that make the rich as rich as they are. The upper 20% of the people get 98 % of new wealth, meaning that the lower 80% of the population gets only 2% of new wealth, which mostly represents necessities of life. Since the dawn of capitalism, wages have never represented much more than necessities of life, which wasn't that much different from what people got before capitalism. It now takes a smaller portion of the day than ever for the working class to produce the necessities that the whole society depends upon. Workers are spending less and less time working for themselves, and more and more of their time making bosses richer, and making governments more powerful.

   If the increasing surpluses that accrue to the upper classes are not thoroughly enough converted into fresh capital that can be translated into new jobs, then unemployment can rise. To address this tendency, western socialists would tax the upper classes to create government programs to keep workers working 8 hours a day, with time and a half over 40, exactly as under the present industry standard. Socialists whom I know in the Labor Party want the government to expand to keep people working, creating bureaus that dole out benefits, such as new versions of the New Deal's WPA, PWA, etc. But who would pay for it? Big government programs need to be funded, and that means taxes. The infrastructure is crumbling, roads, bridges and other public works deteriorate, while municipalities plead poverty, begging their state and federal overseers to send money that just doesn't exist, while all levels of government are on a downsizing binge due to tax-payer revolt.

   Socialist programs to alleviate unemployment would lead, in the future, to a further shift of workers from private industry to public works as increasing productivity continues to render workers in private industry redundant. Only about 17% of employment nowadays is involved with production, a downward trend that was noticed long ago. At the beginning of the century, only a few percent of the population worked for any government entity, but a far greater percentage does now, but do we have socialism? Growth in government has certainly absorbed many of those who were made redundant in private productive industries, but I don't know of too many, except those on the far right, who would argue that we now have socialism. Numbers on the right are growing so rapidly that there is a shift in consciousness going on that threatens people's understanding of what socialism used to mean, both the Social-Democratic sense and proletarian dictatorship.

   While some government regulation has helped to improve standards of home and business construction and public safety, growth in government has resulted more in repression than anything else, with government snoops involved in an increasing number of aspects of people's lives. In California, half of the welfare budget goes to prosecute alleged welfare fraud. Lots of government expenditures go toward maintaining a large number of spies, the NSA being about ten times bigger than the dreaded CIA, and operate domestically. This is one of the reasons why the right wing hates government. When so many people think the way the right wing thinks, and numbers on the left get smaller, then it may be time for the left to begin to wonder what it's doing wrong.

   Socialism cannot really claim to be in the interests of the lower classes, because socialism deals with property and government, both of which are too far over the heads of average powerless workers for them to affect. Property and government are the two things that socialism is all about, while Engels, early in his career in the last century, identified competition between workers for scarce jobs as what was hurting workers more than anything else, the elimination of which competition would end the rule of property. Exploitative capitalism is not exploitative without a mass of workers desperately competing among themselves for scarce jobs. Powerless and unable to really affect government and property relations, the lower classes are better off working among themselves to abolish competition for scarce jobs. That would fix most of what's adversely affecting the lower classes now, and give them the strength to do more about getting government repression off of their backs in the future.

   Under any brand of western socialism, there is always an acceptable level of unemployment. I don't know any government socialist bureaucrats who complain about the morality of the labor market, or shed tears over the 5 or 6% of people who cannot find jobs, fall through the safety net, compete with others viciously enough to drive wages down and profits up, or otherwise end up on the street, hungry and homeless. After all, the jobs of many government bureaucrats depend upon the misery of the lower classes, and if it wasn't for the misery of the masses, government bureaucrats would be without jobs, or instead might be doing something productive in private industry.

   If we madly and religiously attach ourselves to time and a half after 40 hours, no matter how productive we become in the future, we will simply tear the heart out of the environment in a mad dash to build, build, build, improve, improve, improve, using up natural resources at an ever more frenetic pace than we already are. Our vastly increased productivity will enable a small crew to mow down a forest like so many weeds, and for miners to lay waste to the land as they move mountains around. Is that the kind of world socialists want to see just so that they can say that they kept people working 8 hours a day with time and a half over 40? We need to work less in order to have less of an environmental impact, meaning fewer hours of labor, which we can certainly afford to do, what with our being 40 times more productive than our ancestors were 200 years ago, and could theoretically provide necessities by each of us working just one hour per week.

   If we shorten hours enough to put everyone to work and create a positive demand for labor, then say good-bye to slums and social problems of all sorts, and say hello to a much healthier economy that will actually be able to find the money to maintain the infrastructure. The high wages that will result from a positive demand for labor will create the tax base that will enable municipalities and other government entities to do legitimate functions around common interests. Kiss good-bye the dead weight of the criminal injustice system, especially if we decriminalize drugs, and treat drugs like the social problem that it is. With the satisfaction derived from doing productive work at a good wage for less time per day, the forces that drive people to 'zone out' on drugs, or become sellers, will greatly diminish. Most drug pushers wish they were doing something productive anyway, studies have shown.

   So, tax and spend socialism was fit for less productive stages of technology, when not too much damage could be done to the environment by over-activity on our part, but tax and spend socialism fails completely to address the vast productivity increases that we may not be around to see, but which kids of today and their future progeny will most certainly have to deal with in their future, and will need better tools than socialism, western or eastern styles, with which to deal with vastly increased levels of productivity in their future.

   Another crazy alternative is to pay people to show up someplace for 8 hours a day to do nothing, for fear of otherwise ruining the environment by frenetic activity. So, workers would madly commute to their daily holding cells, where they would play cards or bingo for eight hours a day, when they could again go home to their families, etc. That would totally defeat the notion of work as a meaningful activity, though, so it's hard to believe that this is what socialists would have us do, either. Instead of us having to spend 40 hours a week doing nothing in exchange for a check, I certainly would rather stay at home doing little to nothing for the same check. I'll never forget what George told me a long time ago about the kind of insanity unions forced upon workplaces when forklifts started replacing human lifters. Apparently, the union worked out an interim deal in which gangs of workers followed forklifts around all day long, for a net productive activity of precisely zero for all of the forklift followers.

   So, hopefully you may have followed the argument that socialism of either the western or eastern varieties is dated, never accounted for the virtually workerless society resulting from the vastly increased productivity rates of the future, so socialism will someday have to be retired to the museum of antiquities, and the sooner the better. There is a lot of undeniable humanity and goodness that flowed from the struggles of socialists that should not soon be forgotten, however, and hopefully it will not be forgotten.

   My old SLP sympathizer friend from New Jersey wrote again, and now considers me to be an atheist or an agnostic of some sort. I must be an agnostic, for I don't care what anyone thinks about either my religion, or my near lack of it. I wrote him that "I give religion, or God, less weight in my life than brushing my teeth, give it about the same weight as dreaming while sleeping, and more weight than finding that someone who called me on the phone had actually dialed the wrong number, for that only happens a few times a year, if that."

   Please let me know if you think I am wrong about socialism, and where. ... If socialism seems logical to you, it would help me to know what makes it look that way, as in: "Socialism, why do I love thee? Let me count the reasons:

1- ......
2- .......
3- .........
4- ............
etc."

 

October 10, 1996
Dear Prof. Dowd,

   Thank you for all of the work that you did in putting together the 'KPFA' classes, especially the Berkeley classes I was able to attend.

   After all of the lectures we have attended, the question is, of course, what do we do in the future, a subject that has held my attention since the early 70's. During the latter part of the sixties, I searched for something real to do, and when I read Fanon's "Wretched of the Earth" in the early 70's, I was instantly converted into a socialist, but I had such difficulty finding a decent definition of socialism that I finally decided to look into what socialist parties had to say; and after comparing a lot of literature, decided to hook up with the Socialist Labor Party in order to persue my education further.

   Four years later, I discovered that the SLP had supported its program of change with quotes out of context from Marx, Engels and Lenin, and that the SLP was very secretly anarchist. Of course, they had a near century-long record of denying their anarchist heritage, and have never stopped saying they were socialists. Even confronting them with ample evidence of the lies they were spreading wasn't enough to sway them from their dishonest course, for their solid base of financial supporters (who thought they were socialists) buoyed party bureaucrats with confidence. Many other members considered themselves philosophical anarchists, and could have cared less if they were distributing lies, for all of the propaganda was to the cause of their beloved 'socialism', which was really anarchism.

   After about nine months of struggle, I had to leave them, for they were not willing to change, nor was I willing to help them distribute lies forever, no matter how much they would have been willing to pay me. The ideological work that I did up to my departure in '77 educated me to the differences between anarchism, socialism and communism, and, from then until '94, I remained true to the notions of proletarian dictatorship, for I much preferred being true to the Marxist-Leninist ideologies that had served more than a billion people in the world. Here is why I stopped believing in socialism:

   In '92, an old acquaintance from the SLP asked me to recount some of my party experiences. After Frank Girard had been expelled himself in one of the SLP's many purges, he went on to start his own publication in Grand Rapids called the "Discussion Bulletin". So, I started jotting down my experiences for his journal, which quickly escalated into a full-time project. I had put writing a book on the very same topic on the back burner when I left the party in '77, so I was very glad Frank had gotten in touch. I found myself with more time on my hands anyway, especially after having to leave KPFA in '92 due to war-tax resistance complications with the IRS.

   Two years into writing the book, I discovered to my amazement that not all of the party's anarchist arguments against Marxism were faulty, and that at least one of them had made good sense, viz., that state capitalism is the most likely result of socializing ownership without a revolution. Later, I discovered that changing property relations takes a lot of force, and that it took a Civil War in the USA just to abolish the institution of ownership of other people, never mind providing slaves with 40 acres and a mule, which would have entailed expropriation and probably another civil war, for which there was not very much political will, considering our high regard for property rights, an attitude that evolved in the west over centuries.

   I discovered a rather air-tight case against the west adopting an Asian style of communism, for the amount of physical force that is required to rip off the rich was not available to the socialist and communist parties of Europe after winning mere elections, but the requisite force was available after overthrowing feudal monarchies, as in Russia, or after liberating colonies, as in Africa. If socialist redistributions of property had ever made any sense for the west, and if socialism was a more efficient mode of production than capitalism, the west would have become socialist before the less developed countries of the east and south. But, as Irwin Silber admitted, socialist redistributions can only be achieved with the kinds of force that are incompatible with western traditions of freedom and democracy. Socialist revolution will probably never arrive in America or the west, for we would have to abolish democracy in order to abolish private ownership, which is a fairly safe conclusion after observing what billions of people in the world have been willing to do for what ails them.

   Marx had two theories of state. The communist one was for helping middle classes overthrow feudal monarchies, after which workers and socialists would push the resulting republics through to proletarian dictatorship, similar to the Russian scenario. For establishing socialism in the west, Marx at the Hague in 1872 theorized that workers in democracies could get what they want by peaceful means, which presumably means socializing property by reforms, which, in my estimation, is the theory the anarchists I hung around with in the 70's critiqued correctly, but only partially. A full explanation of why reform socialism leads to state capitalism would also have exposed the party's theories for the anarchist theories that they were, so the SLP only hinted at the result.

   Lenin also weakly critiqued Marx's theories of establishing socialism peacefully in democracies, claiming that 'the military bureaucracies of the last century would not have been able to stop workers from peacefully changing property relations, but had become sufficiently oppressive by WWI to prevent it.' This is all we got from Lenin, in spite of the experience of America's Civil War having recently passed under his nose. This is where I really felt let down by Lenin.

   The problems that are inherent in Marx's political theories are so overwhelming that I have personally scrapped them for myself, and have adopted shorter hours and higher overtime premiums in their stead, for putting everyone to work is far more practical than trying to change property relations, or trying to tax and reform the government to some vague version of socialist paradise. It is because socialism of any variety is highly unlikely here that it became easy enough for the term to mean too many things to too many people. Hours of labor are concrete, on the other hand, and economic classes are on opposite sides on the issue, workers wishing for a little time with which to enjoy their wages, and the bosses wanting to maximize profits, luxuries and security by working us longer and harder than ever.

   I'm engaged in dialog with an old social-democratic friend from St. Pete, and enclose a bit of what I just finished writing to her. I spent quite a lot of time polishing my argument, and considered the fact that she is not much of a theorist. In spite of the effort, I am not entirely satisfied with my arguments, but, here it is:

snip excerpt of letter to O.G. of Sept. 19, 1996

   So, that's my argument in a nutshell, and you will probably recognize the serious nature of my work. The questions that I had submitted to you at the beginning of the class many weeks ago were written in the same spirit. Since then, I have found many of the answers to those questions, perhaps more answers than I was ready for. I appears that, in the 20's, the bosses decided not to allow hours of labor to continue to decline, as they had in response to a century of productivity increases. Instead, they campaigned against increased leisure as harmful to the lower classes, they encouraged consumerism by means of installment plans to get people to live beyond their immediate means, and later encouraged public works and public expenditures to keep people working far beyond the time required to produce the necessities of life. Even war was not outside the bounds of morality for them. In other words, we were consciously swindled out of our much deserved leisure time, and it has been a very wasteful rat race ever since.

 

October 11, 1996
Dear Jerry Brown,

   I enjoy your radio show, but want to ask you to indulge me the liberty of informing you of what I thought about your show on morality. While I thought that it was about time that someone tackled the subject on any level, I didn't think that the particular show in question touched on the most important and practical aspect of morality, namely, how to get people to act in a moral fashion while we fight among ourselves for chances to follow bosses' orders to clear-cut forests, spread pollution all over the land, and, if members of government, follow the orders of superiors to beat up on people who serve free food, beat up on people who smoke a little weed to save a little of what's left of their lives, and, in more subtle ways, beat up on the homeless and those on the bottom rungs of society. The Women's Economic Agenda Project in Oakland reports that half of the welfare budget goes toward prosecuting alleged welfare fraud.

   The radio program in question did not at all touch on the question of the prostitution of the workforce to the money-bags, nor the willingness of most workers to do anything at all to make a buck. I don't blame all of the destruction we do on the basic moral values of anyone, rather I blame it on the conditions of the labor market - the fact that people have little choice other than to serve the evil aspects of either the government or private enterprise. For every worker who would rather be doing something other than clear-cut, make land mines, or beat up on the poor, there has to be a dozen waiting in the wings for any kind of a job at all, and would gladly step in to tend any of the machines of human betrayal if people (what few who can afford to do so) give up their jobs due to moral considerations.

   So, the question is, what do we do about the situation? Do we send everyone to church, sermonize them, and give stern lectures, or do we withdraw our services from the labor market in an organized fashion, create a positive demand for labor, and give ourselves the freedom to boycott destructive occupations on moral grounds, or what ever grounds we freely choose? If you could address this question on an upcoming program, that would be a program for which I would be all ears.

   The same tactic of a withdrawal of services also addresses the question of sustainability, a question that is near and dear enough to the heart of We The People to cause a show per week to be dedicated to it. I wonder if the show will ever cover the topic from the perspective of the vastly increased productivity of labor in recent decades. I heard on your program, and have repeated the statistic a few times on my own program on Free Radio Berkeley, that 98% of new wealth goes to the upper 20% of the population, the other 2% of new wealth going to the lower 80%. Similar figures from my UE News indicate that the upper 10% get 90% of new wealth, while the lower 90% only get 10%. The fact that 80% of the people lived on and worked the land 2 centuries ago, while only 2% do so now also says a lot about our vastly increased productivity, and the fact that production of necessities of life occupies a rapidly diminishing percentage of our activities. And yet we are locked into such an out-moded mentality around dealing with social problems that we fight each other for the chance to be part of the economy, as though we are in some kind of Darwinian or Malthusian struggle for survival, even though the statistics I just quoted prove that the battle for production of necessities has been won overwhelmingly, and that, what with our being 40 times more productive than we were 2 centuries ago, there can be no good excuse for one out of six California kids going hungry. We could produce all of the necessities of life with just each person working only one hour per week. The fact that those with jobs often put in 50, 60, 70 hours and more per week indicates that we are tearing up the earth and eating up our natural resources at a ferocious rate. In the face of these facts, can we have a sustainable economy with so many of us working so hard and so long at such hitherto unprecedented and furious rates, and all to make the rich extraordinarily rich? Further research into Hunnicutt's and Foner's books shows that the upper classes made a decision in the early part of the century not to go along with a century-long tradition of shortening hours of labor a few percent every decade, but instead introduced consumerism, installment plans and gov't spending in order to keep the lower classes from enjoying more leisure.

   I also was at the Headwaters rally in S.F. where you spoke a couple of weeks ago. I was carrying a sign that read on one side: "Competition for scarce jobs forces workers to fight for the chance to cut down the Headwaters." One by one, five different people commented on how well the sign defined the issue for them, one person requesting copies of what I've written this year. ...

 

December 09, 1996
Dear Olive,

   Thanks for your letter of Oct. 9. I was glad that you didn't take too great offense at my jabs at socialism. I think socialism, for a lot of people like you (and me at one time), was a stab in the direction of caring and sharing, and a lot of well-intentioned people pinned a lot of hopes on it. Many years ago (a mere 25 or so), I also did, and was inspired in that direction from a reading of Franz Fanon's "Wretched of the Earth". But now, darn it all, I'm so much older and wiser, and warier of those who made businesses out of 'bringing socialism to the people'. Socialism is an 'ism that is so capable of being misinterpreted, and was re-interpreted and sold in many different ways, like so much sausage in the great marketplace of ideas.

   The SLP was a mere entry-level player in the field. Serious people, like I was, were bound to wonder why their particular brand of socialism never got anywhere, so sought the reasons why, which led to all kinds of consequences, such as quitting the party, abandoning the many beloved friends made there, moving on, and even writing a book about it, which led to the grand conclusion that, in this modern world, socialism looks even more remote than ever, so it is better to take care of the basics, like ensuring everyone a niche in the economy by various ways of sharing what little work that remains for humans to do, as opposed to trying to take away the property of the rich, or trying to tax them, tasks for which the public has so little political will.

   Our appetite for labor is quite limited by the hours of the day, but our lust for property knows few bounds. My house, my block, my city, my state, my country, my planet, my universe. How much more can I own, and where do I cash in my chips? I think we will be much more amenable to limiting how much we will allow each other to work than to limiting how much each other can own. Limiting how much we can work will automatically limit what the capitalist class will be able to accumulate. But all we have to do at first is to just limit our work sufficiently so that all who desire to participate will be able to. That would represent a whole new level of humane cooperation in society. 'Save some work for me! No, you can't have any.' I hope that won't be the limit to the social dialogue.

   Poor people may someday find themselves begging labor for access to jobs, instead of to the bosses or the government, for labor has been all too willing to work long hours, and unwilling to share work with the poor, who may end up picketing the Union Halls, and demanding that labor clear out of their work places at the end of 8 hours so that work can be shared with more people.

   I've been hanging around with a local chapter of the News and Letters people, who claim to be Marxist-Humanists. I have been trying to figure out if there is anything with regard to Marxism that we will be able to agree with, and so I am trying to engage these truly nice people in a debate that I hope will result in something that every one of us will be able to agree with, or will be able to explain why not. I will try to prove that there is little humanism in an 'ism like Marxism that overwhelmingly relies upon the force of [a new] government to try to arrive at social justice, and that it would be a much better indication of humanism for them to just concentrate on putting everyone to work, so as to enable everyone to make their own way in this world, as opposed to just whining about 5-6% unemployment, and secretly wishing that it would get worse, so as to hopefully precipitate their much longed-for revolution. I'll keep you posted.

   The problem with the world is just what Einstein said, viz., that everything around us has changed except for our way of thinking about it. We are creatures of habit, and it was only relatively recently in human history when it finally began to dawn on some of us that life need not be the constant challenge to our basic existence that it had been through all of previous history (and prehistory), after getting kicked out of the garden of Eden. The problem is that we continue to behave as though we are still irrevocably wrapped up in some kind of Malthusian or Darwinian struggle for existence, even though we are down to less than 2% of us working the land (that mere 2% of us providing all of the food that the rest of us eat). In spite of our unprecedented productivity, 1 out of 6 California kids still goes hungry. This is pure insanity, for there is no logical excuse for hunger anywhere in our country with the level of agricultural productivity we now enjoy. 'Something is wrong with this picture.'

   Selfishness may have been necessary for our ancestors to survive in the past, but springs of wealth presently overflow with means of subsistence. There is a scarcity of 8-hour jobs, and our mistake is to think that the only job worth having is an 8-hour job. It is hard to imagine a 6-hour job being just as good as an 8-hour job, but we will have to get used to living with the seemingly absurd, as a shorter day or week becomes the only sane alternative to more and more of us becoming 8-hour prison guards that no one will want to pay the taxes to employ. We are more reluctant to share the work now than when work was truly essential to our survival two centuries ago, when 80% of us worked the land, and perhaps 95% of us were involved in the production of the necessities of life, such as food, clothing and shelter. Nowadays, probably only 5 to 10% of us are necessary to produce the level of necessities that our ancestors struggled en masse to provide, and this number constantly shrinks with time.

   There is a very human argument here that I may need to spend more time developing.

(Continued on January 31, 1997)

   Getting back to your letter, I think that what keeps me alive and even wanting to live, despite my poverty, has been my new-found desire to change attitudes in society that I feel stand a chance of being changed. For a long time I had really been on the verge of hanging it all up, for it was impossible to convert anyone else to socialism, but having been invited to write my book, and discovering something that makes more sense than taking away the property of the rich, re-infused me with a new lust for life. If only I could learn to communicate my sense of a seemingly new (but really traditional) way for workers in the more advanced countries to struggle for social justice.

   California is one of the few states that enjoys time and a half after 8 hours per day, as well as the federal standard of time and a half after 40. Our Industrial Welfare Commission is trying to take the 8 hour day away, but I will do what I can to preserve it, and to spread it to the other states, which will take the pressure off of California to become as exploitative as the other states.

   Balancing the supply of labor with the limited demand will do a lot of things just by itself. A caller to my program lamented that the left is stuck with a log-jam of issues that we cannot seem to make any headway on. We are losing on many fronts. Finding the key logs that will enable the rest of the log-jam to be freed, and float down-stream, is the simultaneous solution to many of our problems. The hours of labor issue is, I think, just that particular log-jam, which resolved, will fix so many others, such as environmental degradation, fear of blowing the whistle on wayward government agencies and corporations, low wages, unemployment, breakup of the family, inability to find jobs close to home, crime, public safety, worker safety, inaffordability of health care, and so many others. If unsure how shorter hours will fix any of the above, I will try to fill in the details. In fact, filling in the details on exactly how 'sharing work will fix most of society's ills' is one of the many projects that I need to work on, but presently find so little time for.

   I too am concerned with the fraud issue, but am more concerned with the fraud that the left plays on other leftists, such as the ideological fraud that the SLP perpetrated on its members in an attempt to milk as much money as it could out of a membership that was very weak on theoretical matters, and had been fooled by highfalutin language about 'the only way to create a just society'. It may be more of a necessity to fix the perpetration of fraud that is going on in our own ranks before we can fix the fraud that the government and corporations perpetrate upon us. What a difference it would make if my old Party members were to decide that they had been fooled, and they also decided to discuss the basis of the ideology they had been fooled by for so long. That would have such a cleansing effect on the rest of the left that it would spread to all of society. But, it seems as though people will not interested in fraud unless they think they can get some money out of suing someone else for defrauding them.

   Our government's finance of various programs are such a bureaucratic waste of money, mostly because of our government's refusal to allow workers to take the leisure that our increasing productivity should have afforded to them. Instead, the bosses and the government conspired to keep us working long hours to keep them rich and powerful. This thesis is laid out in a book entitled "Work Without End", by Prof. Benjamin Kline Hunnicutt (1988, Temple U. Press, Philadelphia). You should make an effort to get and read this book, and though your own branch will be unlikely to have it, you will probably be able to get it through Inter-Library Loan programs. It was so good that I had to buy my own copy, even after I completely read it through at the U.C. library, took 34 pages of notes on it, and read the notes over the air on my radio program. For me, that's the measure of a good book.

   If we had allowed workers to benefit from our increased productivity, we would have been able to do without Social Security, Unemployment Compensation, Medicare and so many other social safety net programs, for families would have been able to stick together, the young, old and infirm taken care of by their own extended families, as during most of the pre-industrial period, with no particular strain on anyone. This book can really open the public's eyes with respect to the fraud that the government and companies have perpetrated on the 'hours of labor' issue alone. The book covers the time period of most of your life, with considerable emphasis of the fraud represented by the New Deal. It is the hidden history of what really happened, and it lays to rest the absurd notion that 'FDR saved America from communism.' He really 'saved' us from productive work and the leisure time for the race to develop its higher qualities.

   If we can turn to the mood of the masses, it is clear to me that most people envy the wealth of Bill Gates, and few would want to take his money away from him, except for a handful of leftists who want to repeat the rip-off of the rich that was possible after socialists helped to overthrow feudal monarchies in backward countries, or after helping to liberate colonies, when socialists had in their hands the physical force that was necessary to change property relations. This young country, however, is older than socialism, and our bourgeois-democratic revolution was founded upon a centuries-long build-up of interest in protecting the rights of individuals to own private property, as opposed to the relative lack of such institutions in the backward countries where socialism did happen. So, in spite of the excesses of wealth that individuals are allowed to build up in this country, there isn't even enough political will to tax them, never mind take away their property. But, that's OK, in my book, as long as labor is allowed to go home at the end of a reasonable day's work, which they are not allowed to do now. And, if you followed Marx's arguments about surplus value at all, you would understand that one of the best ways to limit the ability of the rich to accumulate such gross excesses is by just agreeing among ourselves to go home at a decent hour, and not spend our whole lives fighting for increasingly scarce opportunities to make the rich richer, and our government more powerful.

   My 35th High School graduation anniversary party happened on Thanksgiving weekend. I sent the committee one of my letters to the Anderson Valley Advertiser. They apparently liked it so much that they appended my letter to their report to the graduates.

 

March 28, 1997
Dear Olive,

   For myself, all thoughts of 'pursuit of happiness' are wrapped up in overcoming my previous lifelong handicap of failing to dialogue about important topics, so my brain has to be retrained to think in terms of words and ideas I had previously not given enough thought or training to. Like everything else in my little life, I will probably remain ineffectual and inadequate in this venture as well, though I will keep on trying for lack of inspiration to do much else. There's a lot of bad ideas and habits of thinking out there that will simply have to be challenged, and this challenge can be mounted by anyone. When people's ideas do get challenged, indifference can be a common response, as you have discovered in your attempts to get people to arrive at a Candidate's night, but we keep on trying. George would be proud of our efforts, for that's how we learn.

   I finally updated a history lesson that I tried to engage the 'News and Letters' socialists with, so I enclose a copy with which I hope to engage other organizations and individuals as well. Our latest meeting of the minds was mostly unsuccessful, I having been a little too forceful in trying to get them to react at all. I should learn to drop pearls of wisdom strategically without trying to force people to consume them, especially when they don't seem all that interested in receiving them.

   Revolutionaries can be great and wonderful people, but one of their problems is that they secretly wish that our present 5-6% unemployment rate will get worse in order to precipitate their much longed-for revolution. Revolution is so important to them that they develop scorn for reforms that would take the pressure off the lower classes. This can only be cruelty disguised as militance, but revolutionaries, as long as they remain revolutionaries, will not acknowledge the cruelty of their revolutionism, nor the bourgeois nature of revolutionism either, for revolutionaries have to be considerably more financially independent in order to be able to reject, or turn their backs on, much needed reforms.

   My recent election in the Labor Party as Co-chair of the East Bay Chapter's Union Outreach Committee has so far not enabled me to use my position to further the shorter hours movement that the Party endorses, but which fails to do anything about. They would rather endorse a return of Roosevelt's New Deal and repeat history in a farce that the first time around wasn't enough of a tragedy for people to learn from. I am quite ready to go inactive in this organization.

 

June 17, 1997
Dear W.C.,

   Respondent #1 wanted to know why the 'challenge to socialists' was formatted the way it was, so I wrote to him:

   "As for the name of the challenge, even though it is titled differently from what the ad implied, I hope still that people will see that it really contains 'a logical argument against socialism'. ....

   "Anyway, I guess the point of the first few pages of the thing was to acquaint people with the idea that history, for millions of people in Europe in the last century, consisted largely of struggles to replace monarchies with democratic republics. Socialists tried to steer that movement into a movement to create red republics that would use the power of the resultant proletarian states to expropriate the rich. Harney's Chartist paper was entitled "The Red Republican". In this century, democratic struggles migrated to less advanced countries outside of Europe, where socialists were more successful than they were in Europe for reasons that the challenge explains.

   "Like you say, maybe I should have stated this from the getgo. I didn't send the challenge out as a finished masterpiece, but rather as something that would be mutable in a positive direction that lots and lots of people would someday be able to sign on to.

   'In '92, Frank Girard of the Discussion Bulletin in Grand Rapids asked me to write down impressions of Party life in the 70's, so I started writing, but couldn't stop. I wrote a 641 page book over a period of 3 years ..... It is a rather careful refutation of the many lies that were told in 2 SLP pamphlets to justify their program of anarcho-syndicalism that had been carefully disguised to resemble socialism. By '94, I discovered that divorcing the upper classes from ownership of the means of production was much easier after overthrowing feudal monarchies, or after liberating colonies, but was never possible after winning mere elections in Western European Social-Democracies. What a discovery! It also meant that, if socialist expropriation had ever made any sense for the advanced capitalist democracies of the West, it would have been easier to implement in the West than in the less developed countries of the East and South, where socialism did start first. The multi-point challenge fleshes out these ideas more completely.'

   'More recently (last fall to be more exact), feeling the need for more dialogue, I started attending local meetings of the News and Letters group here in Berkeley. It is through dialogue with them that the arguments developed further. They made statements that I could not believe that Marxists would make, and the challenge tries to refute some of what they said.' I am still in correspondence w/Chicago.

   Anyway, I hope that you will enjoy the challenge, and hope you will send comments after you have had a chance to digest it.

 

July 12, 1997
Dear R.L.,

   I hope that you will enjoy the challenge, and hope you will send comments after you have had a chance to digest it. Be sure to let me know if there's anything in it that is less than perfectly comprehensible, or sensible. I'd like to think that it is something we could build upon that an increasing portion of the left will be able to agree with, so that we can change ourselves accordingly. With a more reasonable goal than socialism, we may then stop feeling as though we are forever doomed to being less effective than we would like to be.

 

July 14, 1997
Dear Thirsty,

   Thanks for your feedback, and I am sorry to hear that you are less than overwhelmed with my efforts. Maybe my scribblings don't answer enough questions. But, I will be glad to fill in the blanks as best as I can, for I need the assistance of you, and many more concerned people like you, to help to create a better world. As you may suspect, while socialists may always differ among themselves about the best way to get to socialism, none that I know will ever say that a saner world will be arrived at by us working more hours than what we presently do. Many socialists are equipped to say that our increased productivity enables us to work less than what we have been doing, but no socialists look upon that simple fact as the key to progress for our class, for, if they did look upon 'less work' as the key, then they wouldn't be socialists, for socialists look upon redistributing property and wealth as the key to progress, not redistributing work, as I do. About concerns you expressed in your June 29 letter:

   You are right about me learning at least as much by book-learning as by experience, so it was probably wrong for me to have so strongly asserted that I learn only from experience. Allow me to shoot myself in the foot once in a while, but hopefully less on important points than on little ones. I did have to read a lot of Marx in order to refute SLP lies, and it was by reading between the lines, and absorbing much of the history of his era, that enabled me to get a different take on history than what Marx and other socialists of his era would have been comfortable with. But, it was interesting to discover just what people actually did over the past century and a half to obtain measures of social justice, as compared to what socialists wanted them to do, or to what socialists were even able to lead them to do in many parts of the world. In general, what they did in democracies was to reform, while feudal monarchies and colonial regimes were more fit for violent overthrow.

   When I wrote that "Millions of people will determine if the way to get to social justice is by taking away the property of the rich by expropriation, taxation, etc.", I meant by that that it remains a decision for them to make, but I believe that there is [a better] way to get to social justice other than by changing property relations, which latter method was possible only after overthrowing feudal monarchies, or after liberating colonies, but never after winning mere elections.

   I also believe that social justice can mean different things at different eras in our development. At a previous stage in American development, the prerequisite to social justice was becoming independent of England. Later on, it was abolishing slavery. But now, I would count most of the issues the left fights for as constituent parts of social justice. If one thing is for sure, though, full social justice cannot be achieved without everyone finding work who wants some. We may someday be able to win more equality for women, gays and people of color as constituent parts of social justice, but, if, after that, we can still find a single person without work who wants some, then we will still not have full social justice. If we can put people in space, it proves that we can surely solve the more pedestrian problem of providing everyone with work. Instead of doing it through make-work, however, we could instead provide everyone with meaningful work by merely sharing the work, instead of trying to create jobs by enlarging the functions of government, as some socialists interpret socialism. In fact, sharing useful work with all who can use it could solve so many other problems that government and taxes could shrink to a shadow of its present self. So, social justice at this time includes most, if not all, of what the left fights for, which certainly includes meaningful work for everyone.

   I'm glad that you have enough of an appreciation of history to agree with my statements of what the history of the past couple of centuries has consisted of, viz., replacing monarchies with democracies. Socialists with whom I worked in the 70's were in such a state of denial about republicanism, though, that they never even gave me a chance to hold the evidence under their noses. Even the News and Letters people are in a state of denial with regard to the value of democracy to workers, for they want workers to overthrow their democracies in favor of a yet-to-be-defined revolutionary administration. Revolutionaries in general are probably of like minds in wishing that the significant history of the past remains buried under a barrage of propaganda.

   In your next paragraph, you seemed not to have much sympathy with the problems I had with the SLP. The coldness with which you treated my experience reminded me of the treatment I got from them. For the sake of the movement to create a better world, I request that sarcasm and mockery be lain aside, and our goal concentrated upon instead. The bourgeoisie would like us to compete with one another in acidity of comments, precisely so that we will get nowhere. I won't belittle your experience, which remains a mystery to me, even if you belittle mine, for I understand at least a little about the games people can play. But, I am as proud to admit my mistakes as I am to say that I learned from them. Feel free to share how you obtained your leftist credentials, and what were some of the harder lessons you learned along the way. I won't laugh, believe me.

   Supposedly, though, I 'worship theory, and don't think in terms of people, thinking in terms of doctrine instead'? Let me approach this accusation slowly. When it comes to the practice of democracy in democracies, and practicing revolution in feudal monarchies and in colonies, I think that the evidence is there in Marx's writings, but I don't know of a single leftist who draws appropriate lessons from Marx's Speech at the 1872 Hague Congress of the First International. Few Marxists have the 3 volume set of Selected Works which contains that speech, fewer still have the Documents of the First International, or the McGraw-Hill Marx Library, or the Vintage series of his works. Fewer still are the Marxists who have even cracked the volumes in the past year, and fewer still are the ones who have gained a perspective on history that differs much from Marx's. Unfortunately, revolutionary theory has been such a dead letter in this country for such a long time that the ones who have cracked the books are the ones who used them to take quotes out of context around which to build ideologies that differed from so many others, and who many times were able to find and exploit suckers to help maintain their party lines. If socialism had not become a dead letter in this country due to its inapplicability to democracies, our mythical proletariat itself would have kept the literature and ideology alive in its purest Marxist form, and would not have allowed petty-bourgeois elements to create mere businesses out of various interpretations of Marx. But, by the turn of the last century, not a shred of the First International remained.

   When I quote Marx to Marxists, the parts that I quote usually contravene the doctrine of revolution in democracies that they try to market. Pedestrian Marxism has become quite a bevy of finished products that vary profoundly from one group to another, while everyone insists that they have the correct interpretation, including myself. I sometimes wonder what hope exists that I will ever be able to change anyone's mind about anything. So far, my record of being unable to convince anyone about anything remains unbroken. What am I doing wrong, and when will I ever get to do anything right? In a way, quoting Marx is like quoting the Bible.

   Doctrines of revolution and socialism are in such a muddle in America that I can leave them by the wayside if it gets too complicated, and just stick to my humanitarian duty of looking for ways to fix the labor market so as to put everyone to work. In today's paper, a local AFL-CIO union bigwig claimed that 'whoever controls the labor market has the power'. I am not in a union right now, having been dropped from the rolls in a recent shuffle at the old workplace, and no longer get my UE News anymore. So, the logical choice for me is to use what I know of Marxism to try to convince what few open-minded socialists who exist to re-examine their old ideologies so as not to waste the rest of their lives trying to achieve the impossible. So, my challenge is more designed to appeal to people who are frustrated enough with getting nowhere with their Marxism as to be willing to re-examine it from the perspective that Marxism might not have been very useful to begin with, and might even have been totally useless to the West. So, the Marxist doctrines that I am interested in finding and bringing to the frustrated are the doctrines that I can hopefully prove to be logically self-contradictory, and therefore of no value to us. Our giving up on that which can be proven to be useless just might be the precondition to our moving on to better things. That is what it took to get me to change my own mind, and I don't count myself to be much different from the next gullible person, which is why I try to explain my perspective so carefully.

   The flaw in Marx's theory that makes it irrelevant to the West is the fact that his doctrines aim at divorcing the rich from their property, a doctrine that was never realizable after winning civilized elections in the West, but was realizable after overthrowing feudal monarchies in relatively backward countries, where socialists did have the power of the state with which to nationalize property, proving that socialism is based upon force and violence. But, force and violence are antithetical to Western ways of dealing with social justice issues. Our own Bill of Rights says that property will not be taken without just compensation. Even the Paris Commune wanted to compensate factory owners for putting idle factories to better use, as Marx himself noted in a draft of his 'Civil War in France'. The Bolsheviks, on the other hand, ripped off property without compensation, utilizing the fact that they had state power in their hands, and could do with it what they wanted. As you probably know, the day of their Revolution was the day that their economy began to decline. In spite of all of the problems associated with socialized economies, and in spite of the fact that more than a billion people recently refused to defend their socialist systems that supposedly were so precious to them, socialists in the USA still want to do the same thing all over again in this country, proving that the socialist rank and file doesn't learn much at all from history. Many of them even seem adamant in their refusal to learn much, having pledged their allegiance, not to searching for truth, but rather to their leaders and party programs, a phenomenon which is totally encouraged by party leaders, and is even predictable, for people have an indelible desire to belong to something, or often times anything, and too often aren't choosy enough about what they believe in.

   The flaw in Marx's theory flowed from his lack of experience with actual successful and long-lasting revolutions, the first of which occurred 34 years after he died. Because he died before he could see what his doctrines would inflict on Russia, it is debatable if he would have changed his mind about something as fundamental as trying to achieve social justice by taking away the property of the rich, a doctrine which is a given in socialist, communist and anarchist circles, and is consequently beyond debate for much of the left, much to their disadvantage, for they will never be effective if that remains a major goal.

   So, maybe we shouldn't quote Marx, and instead start from scratch, and you can make the next move as to suggesting what makes good sense for us to do. I have already posited 'getting labor off the labor market' as the most intelligent thing for workers to do. You may either agree, or else disagree, and say that doing something else would be smarter. Then we'll knock that around. Shorter hours has been part of the platforms of a good many leftist parties, so we can dispense with the pilpul if you would like. Let me know if there's anything better than less work and shorter hours for us to work for. On a recent radio program in my area, a caller sounded as though he had been reading from one of my scripts when he told the host that we need to diminish overwork and overtime by means of a double-time overtime premium. His concrete suggestion so bowled over the host that he responded with the advice that the caller work instead for campaign finance reform, which was completely out of the ballpark from the subject that the caller brought up.

   I can't agree that 'it doesn't matter how people move, but only that they move', for the left actually yearns for greater effectiveness, and doesn't just want to continually practice, practice, practice, especially if constant practice doesn't get them very far. If they didn't yearn for greater effectiveness, then they would have remained content with the movements that many of them have been part of for a long time, movements such as the CP, SLP, SWP, etc., and wouldn't constantly be trying to regenerate themselves into new formations such as the Alliance, the Labor Party (the founding convention to which I was an elected delegate in '96), etc. Such new movements so far have only succeeded in rehashing the same old socialist, Social-Democratic, or revolutionary stuff, all in favor of the same old policies that have achieved some limited results, or none at all, in Europe and America for the last hundred years and more, but which mostly fail to take into account the fact that productivity of labor is constantly increasing, while hours of labor remain relatively static. This is the big change that almost all parties ignore.

   Marx was not all wrong, not by any means. He is the one who taught me useful economics, and he remains the most interesting elucidator of history whom I have ever read. I am currently reading the volume of Marx "On America and the Civil War", which I find to be quite engaging. If I only knew how to use Marx to drum sense into the heads of Marxists, who often have only a superficial understanding of him, or the history of his era, or else have an understanding that is totally warped as the result of Marx having been quoted out of context by party propaganda machines of deception. Party lines are then perpetrated by gullible novices and dogmatists, who form the bulk of party rank and file memberships. That is my experience, and I pull no punches in my critique of the left, which is why I'm such a popular guy, I guess.

   The thing about pilpul is that, other people are not above engaging in it to justify their programs or positions. It is easy enough to get into the game. I live just a few blocks from a couple of excellent libraries where I can bone up on Marx, and I have discovered that it is easy enough to find excerpts of his works that can be used to refute charlatans, or can be used as building blocks to try to create logical arguments, such as the one I built around the American experience with our Civil War, and what it showed about the American perspective on private property. You must surely have thought about what I wrote about it. When will you at least comment upon it? I am waiting to hear about what you think about it, as well as the other major logical conclusions about the applicability of socialism to the West. I do hope to hear your opinion soon. I would be very disappointed if you were to remain silent on it. I need your help to see if they really were logical conclusions.

   To answer another paragraph, I would like to see the left unite to create an artificial shortage of labor that would enable everyone to get work. That in itself would be a wonderful and humane beginning to solving the social problems of our country. If I could get people to see that, that would be enough of a contribution for any one person to make, and I could then get around to building a prototype of a fast sailboat that I have always wanted to build. I hate to see the left constantly wasting its time being ineffective, and see them constantly being victimized by cynical leaders who often, like the SLP leaders I once worked for, know without any doubt that what they have to offer is worthless to the lower classes, but who feel compelled to continue to churn out the same old Party line because that is what the Party supporters expect the leaders to do, and the leaders don't have the courage to tell the supporters about the lies they have simply been regurgitating for a century, even if they would rather make a more honest living. Members have been taught to trust their leaders, they don't trust outsiders like myself, and don't believe that what I have to say has greater validity than what their leaders say. This is part of the tragedy that much of humanity, as well as the left, have been living for a long time, for it all goes back to job insecurity making prostitutes to the moneybags out of the entire workforce, but those of us who know what's going on would be derelict in our duty to create a better world if we didn't do whatever we could to inform as many leftists as possible about what's really going on. There's no use trying to hide the truth, for living lies will get us nowhere, and will only bog us down in endless repetitions of sick and worthless patterns.

   But, the foolishness of the left will probably go on for a long time, though the dictatorship of leftist leaders would end in an instant if the rank and file of the left decided to switch their fascination with property relations to instead thinking about sharing work equitably, because any motion in the direction of less work would have immediate and beneficial consequences, and would give people time to consider their foolishness with more deliberation. Leaders would so much hate to see their little empires crumble, which is why some of them rebel against the notion of shorter hours. But, not all leaders are corrupt, which is why I work with anyone who will not simply walk away from the arguments.

   I have to attack our problems on a couple of different fronts: 1) never give up on the struggle to inform rank and file members of the left of what is going on in their parties, and 2) to build an independent movement to create the artificial shortage of labor that will put everyone to work. I see the two tasks as complementary, for, as leftists begin to understand more of what's possible in the West, and how it is that their leaders have prostituted themselves to the fleshpots of sectarian nonsense, they simultaneously begin to be educated about what would truly be effective in solving our social problems. But, trying to get people to listen has not been easy, and it has been very frustrating trying to get anyone's attention. So, the Nation ad was my first attempt to go national with an argument, and I got all of 3 responses, so it is obvious that few people out there think that there could possibly be a logical argument against socialism. So, I waste my time? No, because every defeat along the way teaches me a little more, and maybe I will someday learn enough to start to be more effective. I will never give up, for the dream of someday getting people to move in a positive direction is a worthwhile goal to work for.

   I also do a radio show on Free Radio Berkeley, a micro-power radio station, operating within a gray area within the law, where I do a variety of things, including reading some of my responses to correspondents. I always keep their names confidential, but, if I get your permission, I would read appropriate parts of your letters over the air as well. I am currently reading a volume of "The Secret History of the Communist Party", based upon documents that were sent from the CPUSA over the decades to archives in the Soviet Union, some of which were released to Western scholars after their recent bourgeois revolution. I enjoy being part of this medium of liberation, where each of us DJ's get to say exactly what we want over the air, which makes me proud to be part of an institution where autonomy of the time slots is as nearly inviolable a principle with us as you are likely to find in any communications outlet. Like everything else in this world, though, we aren't perfect, but we try to get better and better.

   The 641 page book that I wrote refuted most of a 64 page SLP pamphlet entitled "Proletarian Democracy vs. Dictatorships and Despotism", written by the SLP's longtime National Secretary, Arnold Petersen, who ruled the SLP from 1913-68. The book also refutes nearly 5 pages of Petersen's Preface to a SLP reprint of Engels' "Socialism: Utopian and Scientific", where A.P. accused Engels of describing a revolution in which the proletariat allegedly uses the capitalist state to get to classless, stateless society instead of using a workers' state, otherwise known as a proletarian dictatorship, as the transition to classless and statelessness. Of course, A.P. was using what he knew about Marx's theory of peaceful change in democracies to invalidate Marx's other theory of proletarian dictatorship after overthrowing monarchies, because, to the anarchist SLP, proletarian state power was inconceivable. Petersen was a master at muddling the already self-contradicting theories of Marx, instead of clarifying where Marx went wrong. Yet, I don't know what could have gotten into Marx's head to think that workers could get to socialism peacefully in democracies, when socializing ownership made sense only under the circumstance of workers having state power, a power relation that availed only after overthrowing monarchies, or after liberating colonies.

   In his nearly 5 pages of rather obvious falsifications of Marxism, A.P. told about 50 lies that needed to be refuted. He accused Engels of not being able to formulate a vision any more radical than state capitalism, and I can imagine that, if any members of the SLP ever rebelled against the lies, they were probably drummed out, leaving the distribution of pure bullshit to the remaining rank and file, of which there were thousands a long time ago, though there were only a couple of hundred left by the time my Party career ended.

   The other pamphlet pretty much tried to convince the reader of what I described to another correspondent:

   "It made sense when you said that 'no one could plausibly deny such a distinction (between the upper and lower stages of socialism or communism)'. Part of the problem that I had with the SLP, and still have with some of its ex-members I still correspond with, is that they all deny those two stages, and compress the entire two-stage era of socialism down into one stage, though some of them will say that the single stage applies to the most industrialized countries (instead of the most democratic). A major part of the brainwashing efforts of the SLP was to convince its members that 'Marx had only one vision of socialism for technologically advanced countries, but he did conceive of the necessity of an intermediate stage of proletarian dictatorship in backward countries.' They fraudulently substituted the economic condition of technological advancement for the political condition of democracy as the prerequisite for peaceful change; they similarly substituted backwardness for monarchy as the prerequisite for violence*, and reasoned that: 'Proletarian dictatorship over peasants and middle classes in less developed countries makes no sense in countries where those classes have been totally marginalized, so tiny middle classes in the USA need not be repressed as was needed in peasant countries like Russia, hence no need for proletarian dictatorship here.' Sad to say, this denial of the worker-peasant alliance is part of the pack of lies that the SLP believes in, which may be one of the reasons why they are down to just a couple of hundred members, if that. Denial of two stages of socialism may be more rampant among the left than what the two of us realize, and seems to be shared by a lot of anarchists."

   * They thus replaced political reasons for peaceful or violent change with economic reasons. Being anarchists, they downgrade political considerations to a meager and incidental status. Since they knowingly take quotes from Marx, Engels and Lenin out of context to back their arguments, their falsifications are deliberate.

   The uninitiated may need to read those paragraphs more than once in order to appreciate the depth of the fraud that was perpetrated by the SLP leadership on its own members, as well as on the whole working class. By the end of writing the book, the extent of my outrage was so deep that I entitled it "Left-Wing Lies". And, do not forget, unless I've already told you, that I considered myself to be a socialist from 1972 until 1994, a period of 22 years, more than half of my adult life. The book also includes all of the details of how I became a socialist, how I became disenchanted with the SLP in '76, and how and why I left the Party in '77. I turned 54 this past May.

   I don't expect the book to change the world, for pedestrian life has a hard time understanding the arguments. One young teacher with whom I participated in a discussion group in town, and whose intellect I learned to respect, and who did understand the arguments, suggested that I take the ms. to the University, drop it on the desk of a Political Science professor, and demand a doctorate. I like to think that he meant what he said, and wasn't just trying to humor me. I've yet to get around to doing what he suggested. But, writing it was a good academic exercise. I still have a few copies hanging around, one of which I would be willing to part with for $20.00, which includes about $15 for printing, and the rest for postage. By no means of calculation could it become a money-maker in its present form.

   The only goal of socialism that I agree with is the long-term goal of someday getting to classless, stateless society. It will not be gotten to in the West, nor, by the looks of things, anywhere else by redistributing property. One thing that some socialists also overlook is that, when workers go to work for some private enterprise, what the boss takes from them is not really the product of labor, for the raw materials never belonged to workers in the first place, so they accordingly feel as though they have no claim to the finished product. All workers are capable of working at their own particular rates for various periods of time, and the fewer the hours they put in, proportionally less will be the product of labor, with some exceptions based upon fatigue and the demoralization of working long hours for little return, and the consequent boost in efficiency and productivity gained by shortening hours a little.

   The more that workers devote their time to work for others, the less time they have for themselves. At a certain level of production of surplus values, workers begin to feel ripped off. Many workers in this country presently feel that way, and would feel much better working fewer hours for the same pay. Near the end of the 3rd volume of Capital, Marx himself stated that the prerequisite to freedom is a shorter work day. Labor has traditionally believed in the 'lump of labor' theory, which means that 'there is only so much work that the bosses are willing to pay us to do', which means that distributing that finite amount of work among everyone who needs some is entirely up to the initiative of the working class, not the initiative of the bosses or the government, who work entirely in the opposite direction, at least in the state of California, as the article I enclosed in the last envelope proved. Our general ignorance of this fact is what prevents us from equitably distributing work, which would also solve many of our problems on a fundamental basis. And, with regard to bloodshed, putting everyone to work by means of shorter hours could be won by a mere amendment to the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).

   There are other arguments that you may not be aware of, but were made very well during the Depression by Labor and its allies. These arguments were very well lain out by Prof. Ben Hunnicutt of Iowa State U. Do yourself a favor and read "Work Without End", which shows that FDR did not save America from communism; rather, the Prof. shows that FDR 'saved' us from shorter hours, and saved us from enjoying freedom that shorter hours would have meant to our lives. Instead, long hours contributes to overexploitation of the environment, contributes to the population explosion, and helps bosses replace decent human values with consumerism and competition.

   As was formulated by Prof. A.O. Dahlberg in 1932, I also believe that capitalism could be tamed into an ideal system of production if forced to operate under a constant scarcity of labor that would keep everyone employed. This would do nothing to paralyze the economy; rather, it would maintain competition between bosses to produce more economically than others, and would also make them compete for scarce labor. This would also enable workers to boycott jobs that have no socially redeeming value. Loggers could thereby elect to save the remaining 2% of the original redwoods that still exist. A general shortage of labor would enable them to get jobs in other places. We could also boycott production of land mines. We could post a picket in front of the factory in Minnesota that produces land mines, and inform prospective workers of their destructive effects, and force such production offshore. A movement to put everyone to work would also be international, and it wouldn't be long before land mines were banned everywhere, if a shortage of labor could be produced everywhere.

   The issue of workers' control is best addressed by ending worker insecurity caused by the shortage of 8 hour jobs. Imagine wanting to blow the whistle on errant corporations or government entities, while simultaneously worrying over losing one's job, and you will understand why so few people blow the whistle. Socialists are very weak on the touchy subject of the prostitution of the workers to the moneybags, for so many socialists themselves, like those in the SLP, who long ago prostituted themselves to the fleshpots of anarcho-syndicalism, take such prostitution as a given that is nothing to be rebelled against, as much a fact of life as newspapers, sex, crime, lunch and mosquitoes.

   Economic competition between bosses for efficient production would ensure the constant introduction of labor-saving technology, which would ensure the end of the capitalist era when we someday got to the point where the robots had taken over all productive work, and an enlightened society figured out that charging money for stuff made no sense, and they might just as well make everything free. The first step in this direction, though, consists of our understanding that competition for scarce jobs makes no logical sense in an economy that is as productive as ours, now 40 times as productive as 200 years ago, when 80% of the population produced the food that they all ate, but which food for all now takes only 2% of us to produce. Perhaps only 5-20% of us are now involved in the production of the necessities of life, whereas, 200 years ago, some 90-95% of the people were involved in such production. As Einstein said, everything has changed except our mode of thinking about it.

   The conscious abolition of capitalism is not worth attempting, for we need the free market to entice the replacement of all labor by robots so that we can get close enough to the zero-hour week that work can be abandoned altogether, and we can just go to an all-volunteer cooperative work force for as long as work will at all be necessary. That won't happen at anytime within my lifetime, and maybe not yours, but perhaps the grandchildren of my niece and nephews may see it near the ends of their lives. Who knows? I have no crystal ball. But, those future generations are going to depend upon people like us who can see that we have been lied to by these wonderful people calling themselves revolutionaries and socialists. Our duty to those who do not think about the kinds of things that we think about is to get our heads screwed on straight, which will not come about easily, has personally taken me a long time, and may not come about in a flash of lightning to very many others. We owe it to ourselves and so many others to create the forum in which we can work this all out, a forum which is presently missing in the American literary landscape, but I don't know how to create it, for I have to think too much about making a living, so I write occasional letters to editors and correspondents, and little more than that is the extent of my present capabilities.

snip repetition

   Some of the more practical things the left actually accomplishes, but, as of yet, does not suffice to prevent the race to the bottom, include:

1) Limited environmental protections.
2) Gains for the homosexual community.
3) Awareness of racial discrimination, with some amelioration of the most blatant violations.
4) Progress on exploitation of labor in the 3rd world.
5) Support for political prisoners, recent release of Geronimo Pratt.
6) More equality for women, affirmative action.
7) Anti-nuclear campaigns.
8) Campaign finance reform.
Etc., etc.

   Anyone who's been on the left for awhile could probably think up a lot more, but the details of what the left does is far away from the original subject. Everybody on the left practices something, and many of them wish they could have a smashing victory that would make a real big difference to the poor and exploited. 'Why they aren't being ultra successful' should be the topic of this conversation, for finding a good reason is what's on the minds of a lot of people, but I have yet to hear a coherent argument that really explains our ineffectiveness, other than my own.

   Sometimes the left makes a little progress in terms of greater equality, and less exploitation, or justice for prisoners, as well as many other projects that are too numerous to count. You will also notice that they make little to no progress in getting us to organize to overthrow the government, nor do they very well explain what overthrowing our democracies would accomplish. That which remains unverbalized perhaps resides in an area in their minds allocated to 'givens' that are beyond debate or questioning. Thus, socialism is automatically assumed to be the solution to all of our problems, and few people ever have the time or energy to question it.

   'Revolutionary', to me, means 'willingness to use violence to achieve social ends'. Our founding fathers were revolutionaries for that reason. One can also pine away for democracy without being revolutionary, and one can also pine away for socialism without being revolutionary if the socialist in question thinks that socialism can be achieved peacefully.

   As a socialist in the SLP, and before my greater self-education, our official Party position was that, through workers organizing themselves into the Socialist Industrial Union (SIU) form that was mapped out in 1905 or so, violence could be avoided as we marched to socialism. Their program includes the Social-Democratic element of the peaceful election of SLP candidates to the bulk of elective offices, which would also be the sign for workers to take over their factories and lock out the capitalist class, which would simultaneously push society into the era of classlessness by robbing the rich of their property, which would then allow for statelessness. Party members who got elected could then dissolve political government and allow the SIU to carry on a classless, stateless administration of things, which they liken to what Engels described in his pamphlet "Socialism: Utopian and Scientific". But, who the hell in this country is going to vote to contravene the principle of property ownership?

   So, you can see that the SLP advocates socialism without violence, which contradicts the actual experience of a billion or more people, but which peacefulness complements the sentiment of so many people living in democracies who instinctively feel that lasting social change for the benefit of the lowest sectors can be achieved peacefully. So, the SLP tried to have it both ways. They wanted a fundamental change in property relations, and they also wanted to take away the property of the rich peacefully. But, if history tells us anything, such a scenario won't happen on this planet because of the extent to which the Civil War demonstrated how very much the public values private property, rendering the SLP program null and void. But, try telling them that. I sent the challenge to them, but it was ignored. They also have a copy of the book that I wrote about my experiences with them, which they promised to merely file away. The book goes into exactly how I was prevented from spreading the evidence of their quotes out of context to the rest of the Party, and how, at the very end, I was prevented from even presenting my case to my Party Section. This last bit of censorship of one of their very own precious members was the final straw, and was why I quit.

   The word 'socialism' to me implies socializing ownership of property. What would happen on the day after socializing is anyone's guess, and many people have put a lot of ink on a lot of paper guessing what that stage of society would look like. But, as the history that I dug up seems to show, that whole act of socializing property will never happen under the present circumstances of dog-eat-dog, for taking away the property of the rich is the socialist dog-eat-dog solution to capitalist dog-eat-dog, the net result of which is zero. We simply have to eliminate dog-eat-dog, not capitalism, no matter what the socializers have to say, because the socializers are wrong, starting with Marx, or maybe even with others before him, who carried into their scheme more than a billion people for a little while, but never to be tried again. So, it's useless to even think of what would happen on the day after the socialist revolution, because the socialist revolution isn't going to happen here in the first place. The revolution has become a mere diversion to prevent us from acting on our humanitarian impulses to redistribute work to everyone who needs it. To the extent that the left is socialist is the extent to which the left is worse than useless to the lowest classes. Worse, because it fulfills the bourgeois agenda of keeping us hopelessly split among various unlikely competing agendas. The three tendencies will no more cooperate to socialize means of production than they cooperated during the Spanish Civil War, when they shot each other over 'ideological deviations'. We need to adopt a program that lends itself to peaceful implementation. Less work complements advanced capitalist democracies, whereas creating democracies complemented the overthrow of backward feudal monarchies.

   Even in Marx's Critique of the Gotha Program, you will see in the democratic section that he says that the final battles between proletariat and bourgeoisie will be fought out in a republic, so, if we already have a republic, why overthrow it? In his Speech at the 1872 Hague Congress, he practically says for all time that the program consists of 'peaceful change in democracies, and violent overthrow of monarchies'. When are revolutionaries going to get a clue, and move their revolutionizing offshore, where there are still a few dictatorships that could stand to be overthrown? But, they had better move fast, for Mobutu was just overthrown, and the number of intransigent despotisms is shrinking fast. The reality of today's world is fast turning revolutionism into an old joke. In the late 70's to early 80's, I saw myself as a Che Guevara type, and I wanted to get into action in Central America. But I never did anything, for I knew that the climate there would have been very hard on me, and I knew that I was already hopelessly spoiled by creature comforts, living in the belly of the beast.

   The last point of the challenge goes into what we should do if we can't logically be socialists in the 21st century. Here's the list of what we should do, more or less in the order of greatest importance:

1) Higher overtime premiums to enforce 8 hours
2) Bring all workers under the purview of the FLSA
3) Longer paid vacations and more paid holidays
4) Paid sabbaticals for all workers
5) Earlier retirement with full benefits
6) Shorter hours if the above fail to put everyone to work

   In short, get labor off of the labor market, and create the artificial shortage of labor that will enable everyone who wants work to get some, which will enable us to boycott socially useless or harmful occupations. This can be done quite peacefully. To refuse to make room for everyone is just another example of man's selfish inhumanity to man. But, some socialists, like those in the SLP, demand that social justice be achieved either their way or not at all, which is also typical of the way many selfish socialist entrepreneurs think.

   I went to a few meetings of this local coalition known as Bread, Jobs and Justice, who supposedly are interested in just that. To complement one of their living wage proposals, I suggested that we also add a double time overtime premium in order to help distribute the work by eliminating overwork, but they would have nothing to do with my suggestion, not that it didn't make sense, but I suspect that it had more to do with their wanting to get themselves elected to office by virtue of their progressive stands on issues such as welfare cutbacks, etc. Many of the coalition members also come from a variety of socialist and communist groups such as Committees of Correspondence, Solidarity, International Socialist Organization, etc. Many of these groups are still hoping that, if things get bad enough in this country, people will revolt, and these organizations hope to lead the revolt in order to put themselves into power. Or else, people will love their progressive stances enough to elect them to office. Either way, they will then institute modest reforms in tune with modern realities, and proceed to live off of the surplus values that will continue to be created by the ever-exploited proletariat. Are workers going to be dumb enough to follow their lead? Not this worker.

   Socialists are hostile to 'less work', starting with Engels, or even with Marx, who always held to the position that people will have to wait until the era of proletarian dictatorship before shorter hours are instituted. Secretly, and perhaps even unbeknownst to themselves, some socialists want to become masters of society, which will require the subordination of both the big bourgeoisie and proletariat to themselves. The property of the rich would fall into the hands of the socialist state, and the proletariat would keep on working the same number of hours to keep churning massive quantities of surpluses for the benefit of the middle-class socialist state apparatus. Due to their pre-occupation with state and wealth, socialism is middle-class by nature. True working class economic interests, on the other hand, are not with property and wealth, but rather with spending less time at work so as to distribute it evenly, and to afford leisure to everyone. But, those whose pre-occupations are wealth and property may never be able to see that. Elevating a middle-class socialist element to supremacy in the state would be nothing short of barbaric, and workers would have to be very gullible in order to support socialist aspirations.

   You say that you told me why you 'cheer for socialism', but I don't recall you actually giving me a single reason. Neither did you tell me 'what socialism means' to you, even though you said that you did.

   The question of censorship is not very simple. I unfortunately don't have 2 or 3 thousand bucks, otherwise I would do something about self-publishing my book. I once got an estimate from a vanity press named Vantage, and they wanted to publish my book all right, but they wanted some $20-30,000. But, you were right, I could always self-publish. I just need to find the $.

   Nowadays, people publish portions of my articles that mainly advocate getting labor off the labor market, but I cannot argue in print exactly why I think the left went wrong with its fixation on taking away the property of the rich, so I am forced either to self-censor, or else not get published at all. This goes to show the level of fear and insecurity that the socialist left has about its bottom-line goal. As long as suckers can be persuaded to lock into step with the socialist line of taking away the property of the rich, then those in control will be reluctant to share the media with voices of dissent over the fundamental principles of their ideologies. This has been proven to me over and over again.

   Anyway, I do hope that you will tell me which of the 29 points you might disagree with, and which you agree with, by the numbers. I might have made a mistake that you might be able to help me find. So that we can come up with a statement that we can both agree with, and so that it can be shared with others, your cooperation will be greatly appreciated.

 

August 14, 1997
Dear Olive,

   The most recent outreach that I did was right here in Berkeley, for, after picking up a News and Letters paper at the Labor Party founding convention in Cleveland last June, I started subscribing and discovered that News and Letters has weekly meetings here in Berkeley. I started attending meetings last fall, and quickly escalated my differences with them into a dialogue. I am presently involved in a high-level dialogue with one of their top intellectuals in Chicago. Amazingly enough, he takes my critiques of Marxism seriously, and is not summarily dismissing them as have so many other supposed intellectuals from many other groups. Hope may exist for this group, tho I am not wallowing in confidence that there is. When they finally take the discussion of my theories national, then there will be hope.

   I would suggest that some outreach on your part will serve you well in terms of making new contacts. There may be some light-weight volunteer work that you would feel comfortable doing that would enable you to share ideas with others. If dropping pearls of wisdom doesn't get the desired response, one can always ask questions, such as 'why'. I feel as though I was put on earth to dialogue with others. I wish I had started earlier. There were so many years during which I was in such a slump that I saw no reason at all for my continued existence. What few reasons I can hang on to at the present time are worth hanging on to. Reasons for living would not be of sufficient value to me unless I could practice within a framework that includes testing my reasons for living, testing that will either reinforce my reasons, or tear them down, hopefully to replace them with new reasons. My present reasons for living are considerably different from what they were at other times in my life, but I still think about the fast sailboat I still want to build.

   Why should we think about revolutions? I would guess that it is because revolutions are what the history of the last few centuries is made of, and everyone has their own interpretations of why revolutions occurred. If one can 'sell' a wrong interpretation of revolution to enough gullible people, then one can thereby make a decent enough living, which is all that counts to some unscrupulous people. After all, it's a dog-eat-dog world out there, and it's any old port in a storm. Whatever pays the rent is enough justification for practicing any perfidy the mind can imagine, now matter how immoral or wasteful.

   The problem is that we still refuse to acknowledge one another's humanity. There was a time when, living in a world of scarcity, dog-eat-dog was as much required for our survival as cooperation; but, nowadays, with so few people and so little effort required to produce necessities of life, dog-eat-dog should have been consigned to the museum of antiquities, along with the spinning wheel and the bronze axe. The presence of so many sectarians espousing so many ways to revolutionize society is a symptom of dog-eat-dog, and of the fact that things have not yet gotten bad enough to force the lower rungs of society to cooperate to share what little work that has yet to be taken over by the machine, which puts so many people out of work now, and may put many more of them out of work in the next century. It makes you wonder what we will do to provide for one another's mutual survival. People have cooperated for their mutual survival before, but have not had to practice that aspect of real life in this country for a long time. We are beginning to bump into its hard cold reality now, but nowhere near how much future generations will have to deal with it. Maybe they are all waiting to cross that bridge when they get to it, but I hope that it won't be too late by then, in terms of resource depletion and pollution.

   Things have gotten bad enough to force the birth of a good many new sects and movements that all claim to know best how to repair the ills of society, but news of the birth of these movements, such as the Labor Party, the Alliance, etc., is mixed: some good, and some bad. The good news is that people are really in a state of flux and are not content with the old answers. The bad news is that leaders of the new movements are many time veterans of the old, are stuck in the same old ruts, and are content to merely recycle old formulas. It may take even more suffering to tear them away from their revolutionary and Social-Democratic ways, but I don't wait for things to get worse; I do what I can in the present to educate.

   I think that is where true leadership resides. If I were an opportunist, I would use what I know of 'isms to recycle them to create a new movement, or to try to fit in with an existing movement. But, the old answers no longer fit the new problems, so we must do better. Even if people do not take to what I am saying, leadership consists in practicing what is right until the flow of history vindicates or crushes whatever leadership or movements that exist. The flow of history will ensure that movements will change in spite of the best efforts to preserve them in their old forms. The First International was the purest embodiment of Marx's doctrines, but not a shred of it survived the turn of the last century. Faith in doing what's right, no matter what pressures exist to entice us to do otherwise, will ensure the victory of right over wrong, and the victory of integrity over expedience.

   Let the Dick Morris's and G. Gordon Liddy's have their day. They are taking advantage of their one-time proximities to the seat of power. Enough others will tune them in for vicarious experiences of power. Their value is mostly to entertain and to make money for advertisers.

   At my April meeting of the Labor Party Chapter, I resigned my post of Co-Chair of the Union Outreach Committee, thus freeing myself from guilt over not being active as the result of not wanting to fulfill the present Labor Party agenda. I really didn't know what I was doing on that committee, except that it evolved out of a discussion committee set up last year to discuss the LP platform. But after the convention, I found myself unwillingly working for an amendment to the Constitution to ensure full employment. This ill-conceived campaign puts too much initiative in the hands of the government, and takes the initiative away from labor. Labor has always known how to put everyone to work, through fighting for shorter hours.

 

Committee for a Shorter Work Week, August 27, 1997
Dear Friends,

   I received your August 18 notice of the September 6 meeting at the Claremont Library. I am happy to see some people finally moving at least close to the right direction toward solving our social problems.

   In the spirit of avoiding charges of not doing our homework, allow me to make a couple of observations. First, a recent article in the Chronicle by Jonathan Marshall showed that the slide to the bottom is slowing down, and that the working class is actually doing better lately, in a reversal of the 20 year trend you mentioned, though the upper classes continue to do far better.

   Also, it may not be too wise to disparage the electoral process until we are actually turned down cold by our elected representatives. As late as 1932, both major parties had shorter hours in their platforms. By being perfectly accurate at every turn, we can influence major parties to help workers, who comprise the bulk of the voters.

   Using the initiative process is also an excellent way to reach people, so more power to us, especially if we can get others to back a scientifically designed program. The plan to get the City Council to act is excellent.

   The plan for publishing results and ideas is also excellent. We should think about publishing a newsletter, including every intelligent letter we get, and be prepared to rebut if necessary. Organizational form may not become too big an issue if we stick to the principle that 'the politics of the upper classes are the politics of exclusion, while the politics of the lower classes are the politics of inclusion'. Whatever organization we decide to build should exclude bureaucracy, sectarianism, censorship and secrecy.

   I don't anticipate Dirty Tricks, for I think that enough people from all classes are sick enough of the way things are going that they will welcome - rather than oppose - our movement, especially if it makes logical sense. Negative publicity around dirty tricks will only push people into our camp, for we would then be able to get a lot of mileage off the publicity the offenses generate.

   As for the Draft Initiative Measure itself, the only glaring problem was that it actually consisted of multiple measures, for you are proposing shorter hours, a double time overtime premium, and locking wages to pre-existing levels.

   The California Labor Federation is in favor of double time, if they could get anyone to support it, for they know that time and a half is an insufficient disincentive to the bosses keeping the same old employees working far beyond 40 hours. Accordingly, our first task should be the elimination of overwork and overtime by making it more expensive to the bosses than time and a half. Going to a double time premium alone may not seem quite as sexy as '35 for 40', but is an absolute prerequisite step to enforcing either number of hours. A 20-year old study shows that double time in itself would be sufficient to reduce unemployment by 1 or 2 percent, so our most logical first step then becomes double time, not '35 for 40'. This also avoids the thorny question of trying to lock wages to any level.

   To the seasoned politicians we will inevitably have to deal with, double time by itself will be far easier to accept than 3 demands at once. I can just hear them laughing us out of City Hall now. We should go one step at a time, and go for one smaller victory that by itself is a prerequisite to shorter hours. If double time by itself does not eradicate as much social misery as we want to eradicate (and, of course, it won't), then we can go for 35 for 40, or whatever else the public considers to be more important to them. Other things matter as well, such as retirement age, annual vacation time, the number of annual paid holidays, paid sabbaticals, bringing all employees under the purview of the Fair Labor Standards Act, etc. There may even be a good argument that the last measure might be of higher priority than anything else we might want to work on.

   Insisting on the same pay for 35 hours as for 40 would generate major opposition from bosses, and would be totally unnecessary as well. The intent around redistributing work more evenly is to eliminate the competition for scarce work that enables bosses to offer low wages, knowing that desperation for any pay at all forces us to accept insufficiently low wages. Eliminating competition for scarce jobs would do more to boost wages than would any well-intentioned fiddling with wages we could think up. I remember the turmoil that was generated by Nixon's wage freeze in the early '70's. '35 for 40 with no loss in pay' is bound to turn off the many who have faith in free market principles. Asking for too much at once will isolate the movement's popularity to the circles populated by radicals alone, and won't at all generate credibility with the populace at large.

   Double time should pretty much eliminate a lot of talk about whether overtime will be voluntary, for the few bosses who will be willing to pay it will be finding a lot of willing takers. This may eventually take us to the next step of raising overtime as a moral issue, that of 'people with jobs stealing work from those who could use a little to keep their bodies and souls together'. This may require us going someday to double time and a half, or triple time. As more and more work gets replaced by computers and machines, diminishing work weeks will require increasingly high overtime premiums in order to make sure that the remaining work gets well distributed to all who can use some. At some point, when it is no longer worth fighting over these issues, which may take decades more to resolve, however, we may be able to move to an all-volunteer work force. At that point, owning property will begin to diminish as an end-all and be-all. But try convincing the man on the street that property relations are something we should fool around with now, and we will instantly lose all credibility.

   The ordinance that I've already been thinking about would extend to those who work within the City limits who are not covered by collective bargaining agreements. Unionists would soon see how poorly protected they were with regard to hours of labor, and would soon negotiate new contracts including double time. With a little success under our belts, we could push a state initiative that would make double time after 8 and 40 mandatory for all new contracts, so as to spread the work around. It could easily become a big moral issue. We will see then who our real enemies will be.

   I'm not sure whether we can avoid taxation questions or not, but I think that it might be to our advantage to avoid that dirty word altogether. If people at all associate the proposal with the possibility of increased taxes, we might as well just forget about the whole thing. Taxation and overtime premiums are two separate issues, so taxes could and should remain out of the picture altogether. Taxes do nothing in themselves to put everyone to work, for we are not in control of how taxes are spent, and have no present prospects of being in control. Proposing higher taxes may be the best way to ensure that we will never be in control.

   Higher taxes might also taint our perceived intent. Some radicals have long proposed high taxes as a means of legislating the property of the rich away from them, as the late David Nadel did. A movement based upon spreading work around more evenly, on the other hand, can and should actually be based upon the love of one person for another, which automatically should exclude all tactics based upon hate or punishment. Failure to be absolutely clear about what motivates us may doom any chances for success. The marijuana initiative was based upon people's love for patients in pain, which is why they won. We can be equally successful in eliminating the pains of overwork and unemployment by keeping our motivations crystal clear, and basing our actions on fraternal love.

   I expect that sincerity about this project will assure lots of willingness to discuss this whole thing with a wide variety of people so as to hone tactics to a fine luster. I do a program on Free Radio Berkeley every Wednesday morning from 9-10:30, and I would be glad to interview up to 2 members of your group on Wednesday, September 3, in order to help publicize the Library event on the 6th. Please let me know a little beforehand. I look forward to meeting you soon.

 

September 07, 1997
Dear Olive,

   Politically speaking, things are somewhat interesting. I went just about totally inactive in the Labor Party, and they probably know why as well. Most members in my local chapter seemed interested only in following the orders of their National Officers, and never showed any interest in encouraging any local initiative on the hours of labor issue. On the other hand, I finally was contacted by a so-called 'Committee for a Shorter Work Week, and I have since joined forces with them, having hosted them on my radio program already, and having participated at a meeting at the local library branch. More about them next time.

   My dialogue with the News and Letters intellectual in Chicago seems to be waning, as Peter answered my 30-page letter with a 3-pager that contained a few swipes and low blows, which eliminated most illusions I harbored of him taking my critiques of Marxism seriously. Little hope presently exists that this group will take the discussion of my theories national, but I keep plugging away, maintaining my faith in my fellow human beings, perhaps to no avail.

   I am having a spirited dialog with an old socialist from Missouri who believes in municipal ownership. I will try my darnedest to change his mind.

 

September 13, 1997
Dear Thirsty,

   When it comes to legislating shorter hours, I think that it might be wise to begin with legislating a double time overtime premium in order to prevent overwork. Too many workers are putting in 60 hour weeks, and are thus stealing work away from those who could use a little to get by. Those who are putting in the long hours would, for the most part, rather be doing other things, though there are always exceptions. This is in accord with what I have heard a few labor leaders have had to say on the subject.

   With regard to SLP lies, allow me to toss out a few, and then you can let me know whether you consider them to be lies or not:

   One of their classic lies was their redefinition of proletarian dictatorship as a dictatorship over the peasantry and middle classes, instead of over the bourgeoisie. This was in spite of the hammer and sickle on the old Soviet flag, perhaps as if it were just a type of abstract art or something, signifying nothing. Instead, as you probably are aware of, the hammer and sickle symbolized the worker-peasant alliance.

   The SLP redefined proletarian dictatorship so that they could point to the admitted small size of the peasantry in the USA, and say that such a class is too small for us to bother to dictate to, hence, no need for a proletarian dictatorship in the USA in the Russian sense, where the peasantry was quite large, in fact even larger than the proletariat (which raises a subsidiary question of whether a smaller class of poor people could dictate to a larger class of poor people. The ramifications of what the SLP believes in are enough to make me laugh, if the situation wasn't simultaneously so tragic.)

   In the SLP scenario, 'if there is no need for proletarian dictatorship in the USA, then, after its revolution, the USA would be able to proceed directly to the upper stage of classless, stateless society without having to pass through any intermediate stage of proletarian dictatorship'. This contradicted the scenario of proletarian dictatorship outlined by Marx in his Critique of the Gotha Program, and by Lenin in innumerable places. The SLP's program of organizing workers into Socialist Industrial Unions, in theory, is the way for workers to adjourn the government out of existence by means of democratic elections (a combination of anarchism and social-democracy), and for workers to carry on production by means of their elected workers' councils (anarchism), and to create that 'classless, stateless administration of things' that Engels mentioned in his Socialism: Utopian and Scientific. Even though the SLP says that their formulation is pure Marxism for technologically advanced countries, it has all too little to do with Marxism.

   A rather careful analysis of SLP literature enabled me to detect that they were really selling anarchism described as socialism, and that their program was an expression of rather pure Bakuninism disguised as, and described as, socialism. In effect, Marx had critiqued likenesses of the SLP program as early as the First International. SLP leadership knew this, but would never cop to it. Their intent to commit fraud was evidenced by their willingness to take and use quotes completely out of context. I toss in a few pages from my book on that subject.

   When I started to detect that there might be something fundamentally wrong with the SLP, I was working at their National Office in Palo Alto as their shipping clerk, having just finished, a year and a half before, helping move the Party Headquarters from Brooklyn, NY. The first time that I discovered a quote in their literature that had been taken completely out of context sickened me for days, so much so that I lost 10 pounds. I knew right then that I had once again been swindled, and felt as though I had been working for the US Government, the very agent of repression I had ostensibly been working against. I knew that a movement of liberation could never be built upon lies, but, instead of quitting, which I was too poor to do at the time, I decided to try to prove to my 'comrades' that we were unwitting agents of disinformation.

   Needless to say, my efforts were sandbagged by my leaders, and I was prevented from getting my case to the membership. My fatal flaw was that I was too weak to pursue my case with the vigor necessary to prevail against the forces of repression in my own party, so I eventually quit. One of my earliest and weakest efforts was a position paper that I built around the particular quote out of context. Though my Section agreed that the quote had been taken out of context, they refused to agree that it had been done with intent.

   My next position paper was intended to make my Section sit up and take notice of another batch of lies from another pamphlet, but they refused to hear my arguments, indicating mass corruption of the personnel, after which I quit my post at the NO, and membership in the Party as well. It was quite a bit of hell that I went through, and I still kick myself for not being strong enough to pursue my case and prevail against their immorality. As a result of my experiences, I recently developed a general theory about leftist organizations that has been proven to me time and time again, a theory that they are nearly all bureaucracies operating in secrecy that censor deviations from their party lines. In such a set-up, repeated over and over in the American left, rank and file exist merely to market the party line. Sectarianism is encouraged, and there is often a cult of personality. For the SLP, it was Daniel De Leon, whom Engels met, but didn't think very highly of. In fact, Engels had lots of problems with the SLP, both before and after De Leon, a chapter of history on which the Party remains mute.

   People have known for 200 years how to put everyone to work, a working class tactic that precedes Marxism by 50 years. The upper classes do not want to put everyone to work due to the inevitable reduction of short term profit that would result, and we are too easily hired to look after their wishes alone, to the detriment of people who could use a little work. Hence, arguments get lost, and people like Jerry Brown, ex-Gov. of CA, can get on the air and pretend not to know what to do to eliminate unemployment. When the answer has been obliterated from consciousness and public debate, then the Gov. can make a good case for plausible deniability, but he didn't fool me, nor anyone else who has done any amount of research into the ongoing betrayal of lower class interests.

   For the sake of ending the argument over whether I worship theory or not, I should say that I have a healthy respect for it, more so than ever before, now that theory and practice rather consistently reinforce my work. Even though a case could be made to the effect that I worship theory, I wouldn't want to be known for that, for it sounds too much like a rejection of practice. My theoretical work involves the refutation of lies, capitalist or socialist, and I have found plenty of both to refute. I don't think that we will ever make any inroads against the dominance of dog-eat-dog capitalism until we sufficiently dissect socialist lies to make people lose interest in it, for too many lower class leaders are infatuated with some type of socialism, communism or anarchism to enable them to be effective warriors against dog-eat-dog. Socialist ideology makes people ineffective because there are too many ways to take away the property of the rich for them to agree on any single way, so they end up fighting among themselves over details of socialist programs that don't have much of a chance of implementation.

   Compared to that foolishness, there is only one way to move hours of labor that makes any degree of logical sense for the benefit of the lower classes. Hence, you find a broad band of the left that agrees with shorter hours on one principle or another, and yet does nothing about it for the reason that they are too hung up on the socialist dream of taking away the property of the rich, a dream that belongs to yesteryear in backward countries. But, you will remember that socialism was supposed to happen first in the West, not in the East and South, the only places it has yet to be implemented. But, it was the inapplicability of socialism in the West that kept the masses (for whom it was intended) out of socialist, communist and anarchist parties, and enabled petty-bourgeois elements to make mere businesses out of the 'isms, mere businesses that practiced cults of personality, bureaucracy, censorship, secrecy of operations, and sectarianism.

   You also find a band of leftist extremists who are against shorter hours, or are even against sharing work, because they know that sharing work takes away the revolutionary fervor of the lower classes, just the way in which passing the 10 Hour Bill in England in 1847 made the English working class of the 1850's the most bourgeois working class in the world, much to the disappointment of Marx and Engels. The SLP is one of those bands of extremists who have nothing but disdain for shorter hours, though the pre-De Leon SLP platform included 'the progressive shortening of hours of labor proportional to advances in technology'. The SLP has a particularly short memory in this regard because they have a revolution to 'sell' to the American working class, and they don't want sharing work to interfere with the kind of exacerbation of problems that will drive people into their waiting arms. That's how venal they are. And they have lots of company in lots of other movements as well. That's why I call the SLP's National Office workers 'prostitutes to the fleshpots of anarcho-syndicalism'. They had a good opportunity to allow better sense to prevail in their party, but preferred what little they had going for them to the possible disruption of their cash flow as was likely if they were to suddenly denounce past leaderships for willfully spreading lies about the nature of socialism (useless to the lower classes as socialism may always have been).

   Thank you for telling me that you favor public ownership of means of production. You have lots of company, and I might add that you are in the company of many fine people who are very concerned with achieving a greater degree of social justice than what the lower classes presently enjoy. I admire your life-long dedication to reasonable principles, which unfortunately have been superannuated by a lack of accounting for vastly improved productivity. It is unfortunate that as reasonable a philosophy as public ownership does nothing in itself to prevent overproduction caused by technological progress.

   Along with the ignorance, apathy and struggle to survive as reasons for leftists' lack of success, I also count the goodly number of opportunists who are more than willing to mislead workers in order to make a buck for themselves. I consider it an absolute necessity to turn over this stagnant pool of opportunists by means of principled dialogue, which few of them though are willing to engage in, for they can accomplish what they want by means of shouting down dissent, playing the dirtiest tricks you can imagine, and generally behaving like uncivilized and unprincipled mountebanks. But, instead of mass indignation militating against such tactics, the level of dialogue among the lowest classes is so low that pretenders can get away with what they do with little to no protest. That is why it is so important for concerned activists to get a lot clearer about what their movements are really about, and about what really happened in the past, for, as radio commentator Dave Emory always says in a similar context: He who controls the present controls the past, and he who controls the past controls the future.

   I generally can't regard profits in the same sense as the property of the rich, for profits can never be guaranteed to be realized as well as tangible capital can be certified to exist. That which I count as property is physical stuff that exists today, existed yesterday, and can most likely be counted upon to exist for at least the near future. Profit, on the other hand, is created afresh every day during which workers set about to produce results for their bosses, but can sometimes be much more ephemeral than actual existing property. Physical capital exists for the sake of the possibility of making profit, which is why capitalists place so much value on physical capital, and are very careful not to let its ownership change hands without their express approval. On the other hand, commodities are encouraged to be sold as fast as they can precisely so that profit can be realized by sales. Profit is associated with the notion of disposing of the form of property that is designed to be gotten rid of, as opposed to the form of property that is to be retained and owned as long as it is conducive to the creation of profit. All this goes to show that there is a vast difference between profit and property, which means that the abrogation of either is bound to be reacted to in different ways. I recently met another feller who made a similar argument with respect to bosses allegedly fighting diminishment of profit as viciously as a communist rip-off of land and factories, which indicates that the rather wide-spread theory must be a form of disinformation designed to get well-intentioned people to do little more about exploitation than scream 'revolution!'

   So, the principle of private property means that Bill Gates will have as much right to enjoy his mansions as we have the right to enjoy our tin shacks, and neither's right will be abrogated arbitrarily, or on account of size, at least in theory, but the meager property of the poor is much more likely to be taken away than the property of those who can afford expensive lawyers. As an example, under orders from San Francisco's previous cruel mayor Frank Jordan, the physical property of the homeless was constantly taken away to the dump.

 

August 29, 1998
Dear Jane,

   We all know that there is a lot of good work to be done. How to improve the world in a manner in which the cooperation of others can be counted on has always been a field of contention among well-intentioned people. Lots of good people on the left still think that the solution is to change property relations, or redistribute wealth, but what I did was to logically prove that changing property relations is not feasible in the West, was barely logical in the East, and, as a means of achieving social justice, daily becomes increasingly obsolete all over the world.

   Such a conclusion may not seem logical, but one has to look at what masses of people in the West have been willing to do to achieve measures of social justice. Were Westerners willing to overthrow their democracies in order to socialize ownership of means of production? That answer is obvious, but why was it possible for Bolsheviks to overthrow the Kerensky Republic in Russia, and socialize ownership of land on the very first day of their revolution? The answer to that can be discovered in the history of that country, as well as the history of Western Europe, especially the histories that I explored and uncovered in the book. The poignant thing about my corrupt old Party - the SLP - was that the histories they falsified were the essential histories that should have been portrayed truthfully so that Party followers could do and think the right things, based upon the truth about what actually happened. But, the truth about history was dangerous enough to the logic of the Party program that history had to be falsified to protect it. If Party members could be convinced that the phony history the Party was teaching was correct, then the Party program could appear to be the logical solution to America's problems. Gullible and fanatic believers in anarchism (disguised as socialism) continue to staunchly defend their dogma, and often take their beliefs to the grave with them, no matter what a naysayer like myself might say, for Party members are not allowed to even read my work. Books critical of the Party are off limits to members.

   I myself was a socialist for 22 years, and didn't give up on my beliefs very easily. It took the discovery that property ownership has only been socialized after overthrowing feudal monarchies in backward countries, or after liberating colonies, which were the only occasions when socialists actually held state power. But, socialism was never possible after socialists merely won elections in Western democracies, proving that socialism is based upon having true state power, or, in other words, having the ability to enforce new relations of production by means of force and violence. Assuming that a socialist party could win an election in the USA at all, it would never be able to collectivize ownership of industries after its election, for the owners would start a civil war to retain their ownership, and there's little doubt about who would win. On the other hand, the Bolsheviks had been one of the main factors in overthrowing the feudal Romanov monarchy, enjoyed state power by the end of 1917, and had the physical force with which to nationalize land ownership on the first day of the Revolution.

   But, a set of property relations based upon continuous exertions of force and violence (such as what led to Stalin's oppression of the kulaks, an obvious violation of what Marx advised about the worker-peasant alliance) could only mean an absence of democracy and freedom, as recently admitted by Irwin Silber, a well-known apologist for Stalinism and Maoism in his earlier years, and he is far from the only one who came to see socialism from a new perspective after the events of '89-'91. In other words, socialism and freedom are antithetical, and try as one may, no one has yet been able to figure out how to make socialism work without violence. As proven by the West, however, capitalism and democracy can often be mutually complementary, and while the country was expanding to the West in the last century, the USA was regarded by jealous Europeans as the country that most resembled a stateless society. People here are still often free enough to say whatever they want, and sectarian groups are often free enough to campaign for an end to freedom. Ahh, the freedom to end freedom. Such a luxury. The quest is so appropriate to the richest and freest country in the world, where people are free to absorb themselves in all kinds of frivolities.

   In a parallel development, there was no freedom of speech within the SLP, and I had to go outside of the Party in order to get my grievances aired. Parties that don't allow for free and fair debate cannot develop dialectically, and instead stagnate. The lack of free and fair debate within socialist parties, and within the left in general, is a symptom of a fundamental flaw within socialist philosophy. Socialism was portrayed to me as the inevitable benevolent successor to capitalism, and was supposed to be much more humane. But, a party that allows for less freedom of speech than the very government they want to overthrow isn't going to get much support from 'the best and the brightest'. In order to become a member, I had to sign a contract to abstain from discussing internal party affairs with non-members. It was almost as though we were a secret society that was plotting the overthrow of the government, but we were far from being violent. Our program was supposed to enable peaceful change.

   The SLP told me and the world one disgusting lie after another, and my book carefully dissects the most important of those lies. The most valuable lessons I learned came from the painstaking work of dissecting lies, a task I was ill-prepared for when first starting out. The subject matter may not be for everyone, but should appeal to those who wish to become more aware of the pitfalls and dead ends that await us in this 'wonderful' world we live in, a world in which we are free to perpetrate all kinds of scams on people who are less aware. There are so many ways for so many of us to go wrong, and we often go wrong for far too long before catching on to it, and, in many cases, without ever catching on. I once was a sucker for a socialist scam. I would rather that others don't suffer the same kinds of pains as I did, and that we good people can make some real progress against the tyranny that is more often the result of our static thinking than the result of governmental or capitalistic oppression. The problem that we face is so enormous that I am sometimes tempted to think that we are up against 'human nature'. But, a little reflection always reminds me that humans have never in history had to face the prospect of the 'end of work', and we simply haven't yet learned how to handle this totally new development.

   The sooner we can stop wishing and waiting for the impossible to happen, the sooner we can start working for what really makes sense for the country we live in. To stop working for the revolution, and to start working for what's possible was a major step forward for me. Feel free to ask questions about any of the points that may trouble you. That's what I'm here for. I could tell from the questions that you asked that you have a very good mind. We should start a movement of smart people to stop spinning their wheels. I can't tell you how many people I met in the Bay Area who are forever trying to achieve the impossible. The Share the Work organization in Berkeley is one of the few organizations on the right track with their 35 hour per week ballot measure.

 

August 17, 1998
Dear Olive,

   My writing sure has suffered this half of the year. Not a single letter to the editor, not an article for the Slingshot newsletter, and not one letter to my usual correspondents, except for you.

   I just got an invitation to attend a national convention of the Labor Party in Pittsburgh, PA in the middle of November, and I'm tempted to go out of curiosity to see if it has any chance of developing into a REAL labor party that is interested in putting the whole class of workers to work.

 

November 26, 1998
Dear Olive,

   I decided not to attend the Labor Party national convention in Pittsburgh, PA in the middle of November. It would have cost more than I wanted to spend, and nothing in their literature indicates possibilities of their developing into anything different from what they have been all along. I'm also letting my membership lapse, for I don't really have enough interest to sustain my membership, cheap as it is. With less than hardly any 'in-come', I have to watch the 'out-go'. I really don't have the time to be active in the Party, either.

   I've pretty much given up trying to change anyone's mind about anything. I've never really gotten anywhere with my argument with anyone, and am growing tired of getting nowhere fast.

   In the latest election in Berkeley, the proposal for a 35-hour week unfortunately went down to defeat. A friend out there sent me some clippings from the local paper, and it was a crushing defeat, 82.7% against to a mere 17.2% for. That's pretty bad. The movement needs to spend some serious time developing its arguments. I think that it can be done, but it'll take a lot of work that the complacent left won't be too anxious to take on.

 

January 18, 1999
Dear Jane,

   As usual, we scratched the surface of an extremely complex subject in insufficient depth. Every time I've had this conversation with anyone in insufficient depth, I've never gotten anywhere, but, even after having the conversation in extensive depth, I still haven't gotten anywhere. I was on the radio for two years & hardly got much more than luke-warm comments, though some Wobblies were hostile and closed-minded. I've yet to convince anyone that I discovered a major reason for left-wing ineffectuality. In this crazy world we live in, even as confused an entity as the left can sometimes be effective enough in some realms to make little differences. Their occasional successes may be the reason why they don't feel as though they need to get serious about perfecting their strategy, although lots of groups admit that something is lacking. Since there are as many theories about what is lacking as there are groups, and since what is lacking is so indefinite, and since having to worry about it is considered merely optional, the left doesn't pay attention to deep criticism.

   Without the left stopping to pay attention to what it is doing, it may continue to go from one cause to another with little thought as to whether or not its activities are integral to long-term strategy, just as long as it has people to lead them to what may appear like noble goals, whether it's single payer, affirmative action, etc. Many think that such activities 'build socialism', but, continually losing their big battles fails to attract much support. Maybe they think that they have to keep doing something, even if they end up getting nowhere, as in 'activity for the sake of activity'. Are their many and varied activities just a way of avoiding analysis? Is 'getting nowhere fast' better than thinking deeply about strategy? Maybe it is to some, but, can the left get anywhere near as momentous a goal as socialism without looking at long-term strategy?

   Many people propose socialism as the solution to our problems, but can anything as nebulous as 'socialism' be in the cards? Its definitions vary fairly widely from one party or sect to another. For most of the West, socialism means some kind of property or income redistribution from the rich to the poor, such as by 'taxing and spending'. Socialism for Asia and the colonies, on the other hand, meant nationalization of means of production after socialists overthrew existing regimes, as in Russia, China, Cuba, Mozambique, Angola, Vietnam, etc. The regimes in Asia, and the colonies that were smashed, were varieties of universally discredited despotisms, critiqued by both Western and Eastern nations to some extent. Their unpopularity made toppling them relatively easy, compared to trying to topple stable Western democracies. Eastern and Western socialisms are the two major forms in the world, for they were actually practiced.

   After leaving the SLP, I was amazed to discover that its members weren't the only people on the left who are contemptuous of theory. It seems as though many more people on the left than what I first thought would rather blindly follow dreams than think deeply about what they are doing. I became a head-in-the-clouds Leninist back in '76, even while still in the SLP. I had thought through a few Party lies in that year, but failed to complete my analysis, so remained wedded to Leninism for a full 18 years, until '94, the year I discovered how inextricably socialism in practice is based upon the use of force, and, for that reason, will never appeal to those who experience and know Western democracy, cold as it is to the lowest classes, but, at the same time, allowing so many more liberties than other systems. With so much suffering to alleviate, which unfortunately seems only to increase year by year (as homelessness reaches record levels in Boston, for example), you would think that the left would finally begin to do something real, but the left continues to lose more and more ground as more and more people lose health care benefits or plunge into poverty, while, at the same time, corporate profits, the DOW and executive salaries soar.

   Party leaders, such as in the SLP, with more experience inventing and/or defending lies - rather than refuting them - have little interest in truth seeking. What's worse is that, if leaders are contemptuous of theory, then so also are their followers. The entire left could care less about the historical fact that 'taking away the property of the rich was feasible after overthrowing feudal monarchies, or after liberating colonies, but was never possible after socialists won mere elections in Western European democracies.' Why is that? Because, after overthrowing regimes, socialists had the power of the state with which to take property, whereas winning mere elections in the West never bestows the kind of state power that is required to take property. The reality invoked by this simple observation (coupled with Western distrust of government) is so devastating to the prospects of revolutionary success in the West that such observations are best left unmade by socialist entrepreneurs, especially if they want to keep on selling 'socialism as a viable alternative to capitalism'. The fact is that truly socializing ownership is unfeasible in the West because socialists would have to do the impossible, viz., smash democracies in order to create regimes with the power to socialize ownership. Because socialist revolution is impossible in the West, it is doomed to be advocated by only a small percentage who have deluded themselves and others into thinking that Westerners could tolerate living under the heavy hand of a forceful state for the sake of socializing ownership. Big joke, and the joke was on me, as it has been on many others, for government is a dirty word in the West, especially in the good old USA, which, in the last century, was regarded as a model of anarchy by jealous Europeans (as noted by Marx himself). Any solution to social questions that relies on the heavy hand of a state is bound to be unacceptable to too large a portion of our population to be adopted.

   Modern-day American revolutionaries, like the News and Letters group, are in a state of denial over the existence of democracy in the USA. According to them, it doesn't really exist here, except in name, so 'no one would miss our democracy', were it to suddenly be abolished. Then they could replace our system with socialism, and if their brand of socialism didn't turn out to be so very democratic, no one would have much of a gripe, because 'we really didn't have much of a democracy here, so we wouldn't miss its absence.' Pretty good reasoning, wouldn't you say? Almost compelling enough to get people to smash our allegedly phony democracy. Almost. There is too much evidence to contradict phoniness, however, for many, many people get elected. And look at the shellacking the Republicans are going to get in the next elections because of the ridiculous impeachment they are pursuing.

   On the face of it, property redistribution seems like an obvious permanent solution to the problems of the underclasses. If 'capitalism is responsible for the impoverishment of the masses', then rally the masses to collectivize property ownership. It's like a 'no-brainer' to those who fail to use their brains, and their numbers are legion. I would have remained a socialist for god knows how long if I hadn't finished my book and gotten in touch with the many painful contradictions of socialism. Socialists think that the concept is so simple and feasible that it just has to be the ultimate solution. But, if you think that socialism is simple, just read my book to see how 'simple' the SLP plan for their brand of socialism turns out to be. There are a lot of iffy steps involved.

   Other reasons why socialism is nebulous:

   Marx observed that it became increasingly difficult to disarm the lowest classes after middle and upper classes armed them during struggles for democracy. Middle classes and workers were driven by economic pressures to overthrow feudal restraints on capital, wage labor and free trade, and needed to cooperate to replace monarchies with democracies, which was in the political interests of both classes. Bosses wanted democracy for only themselves, so voting was initially based on property ownership, though the lowest classes naturally wanted universal republics with few restrictions on voting, so tended instinctively to hang onto their weapons after overthrowing monarchies so as to enforce universality in the new republic, as in France and/or Germany in 1789, 1848-9, and in 1871. If workers had the self-interest to use their guns to create their own republics, then workers could also use their guns to take away the property of the rich, so theorized the modern founders of socialism, and so it happened in Russia. That is one reason why socialists have traditionally been so much in favor of replacing despotisms with democracies, viz., so that the lower classes could be armed, and so that armed populations could propel socialism into existence, and socialists into power.

   Which countries were intended to institute socialism? According to the SLP, and inferred from Engels in "Socialism: Utopian and Scientific", socialism was intended to replace capitalism, not feudalism or colonialism, which is what socialism did replace. Marx designed his scenario mostly for the advanced capitalist countries of Europe, for only there and in America did capitalism exist, so were the only places where socialism had a ghost of a chance of replacing capitalism. In a letter, Engels observed that the institution of private property existed in Europe and America, but, for all practical purposes, did not exist south or east of the Mediterranean, and that was a mere century ago. Things change fast nowadays. Marx's dream was for lower class struggles for democracy to lead to simultaneous revolutions that would develop into a European-wide proletarian dictatorship that would eventually spread to the rest of the world.

   Many socialists are taught that feudalism replaced the ancient system of slavery as practiced in Rome, capitalism replaced feudalism, and socialism is supposed to replace capitalism. But, as we've seen in history, socialism has so far only achieved the status of a 'middle man' between feudalism (and colonialism) and capitalism in backward countries, but didn't get to replace capitalism simultaneously in the most advanced countries as the founders of socialism wanted it to. The sticking point has always been the association of democracy with advanced capitalist countries, and workers have not been willing to replace democracies with non-democracies for the sake of abolishing the institution of private property. It's too bad that modern-day American revolutionaries refuse to latch on to this historical fact, but putting on the blinders to reality is just a part of becoming an American revolutionary.

   Could Germany - which is a lot closer to Western traditions of private property and democracy than Russia - really have been expected at the end of WWI to come out en masse in favor of overthrowing what little democracy they had so that a new regime could socialize ownership of means of production? As a border area between East and West, and between Eastern and Western values, Germany could be expected to vacillate, which they did at the end of WWI. According to Engels, Germany also enjoyed having a Red Republic for a short time during the revolutions of 1848-50.

   For socialists, the notion of 'inevitability' is hard to get away from. Marx wrote about the inevitability of the victory of the proletariat, and he implied a socialist victory. Lenin was big on the term, and in the Index to the 45 volumes of his Collected Works, there are over a hundred references to the alleged inevitability of the socialist victory of the proletariat. If the victory is inevitable, then socialists in the West can afford to be laid back about working for socialism, so instead work for everything else, for socialists think that 'when things get bad enough, people will revolt, overthrow the government, and institute socialism'. For the most part unsaid, though, is a logical corollary to the previous axiom, viz., 'In the meantime, all we really have to do is wait for things to get bad enough', and while they wait, sure enough, things get worse, and, the worse they get, socialists can gloat all the more over the approaching battle and victory of socialism. But, while in the SLP, I never liked the idea of waiting for the 'inevitable' battle and victory to be handed to me. By merely waiting for things to get worse, I always thought that I was abdicating my responsibility to create a better world. I sensed that radicalism meant a lot more than for me to just wait for something or someone else to start the battle. I also suspected that, unless I was out there on the front lines fighting to push the battle in a direction determined by myself, there was no guarantee that the revolt would go in the socialist direction that my scriptors said it would, for many right-wingers have guns, thus a strong possibility that a 'hands-off' revolution would yield something that I wouldn't want to have much to do with. The right runs at least as many scams as the left.

   The inevitability of proletarian victory wasn't the only place where Marx goofed up, for he was also wrong about the revolution happening first and simultaneously in the most advanced capitalist countries, and spreading to the rest of the world. But, there is a revolution that DID happen first in the most advanced capitalist countries, and there is a revolution that IS spreading to the least advanced countries, and the name of that revolution is the bourgeois-democratic revolution, not the proletarian revolution, which happened only one revolution at a time in backward countries.

   A big paradox of socialism is that it happened precisely where it wasn't supposed to happen, opposite to where M+E said it would - a big contradiction between socialist theory and practice. For socialism to happen in places where it was not predicted by Marx and Engels to happen (except for later in their development) meant that there had to have been fatal flaws in socialist revolutionary theory, flaws that were symptoms of a disease that eventually led, a decade ago, to abandonment of socialism by much of the previously socialist world. If Marx could be wrong about the progression of socialist revolution (which events now have to be considered to be entirely in the past), his whole theory had to have been based more on wishful thinking than on reasonable probabilities of what people in capitalist democracies could be led to do.

   The reason why socialist revolutions were specified as having to be simultaneous was to prevent other countries from ganging up on a single country that had a revolt, as played out for 9 weeks in Paris in 1871. In his 1872 Speech at The Hague, Marx stated that the reason why the Commune went down to defeat was because the other great European centers, such as Madrid and Berlin, failed to have revolutions of their own, hence the ganging up on Paris by German and French monarchists, and more conservative republicans. A semblance of a republic was maintained after the War, but, for its tyranny, was criticized by Engels as 'a monarchy without a monarch'. [2002 note: Actually, an uncredited source referred to the post-Commune regime as "a republic without republicans" for its republican form and its preserved monarchist institutions.]

   In the last century and hitherto, revolutionary struggles involved replacing monarchies with democracies. Only since 1789, when the tide of bourgeois revolutions started marching to the East, have socialists been able to dream about further developing fledgling democracies into proletarian dictatorships. The First International, whose 5 volumes of General Council's Minutes it has been a pleasure to study, was a Red Republican 'club' that distinguished itself from ordinary bourgeois republican 'clubs' by its position on the kind of republic it advocated for the West. In the Minutes, Marx said in essence in Volume 3, 'We want a democratic republic that is socially controlled', as opposed to controlled by only the bourgeoisie, especially when property requirements are placed on the right to vote, as in the early USA. Marx's "Civil War in France" enumerated differences between the Commune and the regime it replaced, even though Marx admitted in a letter that socialists were a minority in the Commune. Of course, that fact didn't prevent both anarchists and socialists from 'claiming the Commune as their own' in their subsequent literature, including that lie factory known as the SLP.

   When republican sentiments failed to reach revolutionary proportions in France and Germany after 1871, Marx placed some hope on a revolution occurring in Russia, which event was expected to spark more revolutions in Europe, and so it happened in 1917, even though the revolutions in Europe soon reversed themselves. At all times, socialism was seen by M+E as valid for the West, where capitalism and private property existed, but which did not exist to any significant extent elsewhere, where socialism did happen, protests by the anarchists to the contrary notwithstanding. If Bill Mandel jumps up and down and swears that Russia and other countries had socialism, then the matter is settled for me. They had socialism, no question about it, but anarchists have always been big on redefining fuzzy terms like socialism, and all of their redefinitions have gone a long way toward making socialism fuzzy. Russians abolished private ownership of property, and that's socialism in a lot of people's books. Anarchists lost that one in my book, and yet they persist with arguments that amount to a pure state of denial, creating an impassable communications gap.

   Nowadays, struggles for plain old bourgeois democracy have made tremendous strides, and far fewer are the countries which are not democracies. In Marx's day, republics could be counted on the fingers of one hand. Mass communications feeds people's appetites for democracy, technology constantly improves communications, and capitalist competition drives constant improvements in technology. Political democracy becomes more extensive all of the time in most countries. Even today's Chile is far from the Chile of Pinochet's early regime. For the past couple of centuries, capitalism and democracy have proceeded hand in hand, extending democracy to a greater percentage of people than ever. On the other hand, starting with the suppression of the Kerensky republic, socialists in power have done little better politically than to stifle individual freedoms, censor newspapers, halt freedom of speech, and take away property from individuals. That is some legacy for socialists to live down, which is why the man on the street in the West wants nothing to do with socialism. Repression of hard-won liberties is one very good reason.

   A vulgar concept of proletarian revolution calls for it to somewhat resemble the bourgeois revolution. To some socialists, the proletariat is to smash the bourgeois state (which also happens to be a democracy, in most cases) in a way similar to which the bourgeoisie, with a lot of help from the proletariat, smashed feudal monarchies and replaced them with democracies. How dialectical can it be for the proletarian revolution to closely ape a major scene of the bourgeois revolution? And how logical can it be for workers to suddenly start smashing democracies after a history of helping the bourgeoisie to create them? A repeat of the state-smashing scenario just isn't going to happen, for workers in advanced capitalist democracies are not going to smash their democracies for the sake of concentrating property into the hands of a socialist state run by people who probably wouldn't be able to decide [whether] to have a communist or an anarchist revolution, or whether they would settle for reforms in the interest of the lower classes. In fact, the left is so at odds with itself over 'precisely what to do' that they could never organize a successful revolution.

   Do you foresee a seamless continuation of democracies with mere reforms in the interests of the lower classes? Or, do you favor replacing existing democracies with some form of new government with the strength and mandate to abolish private property? And do you see this new government wielding state power as in a communist scenario, or do you foresee a new power somehow, upon victory, transforming into a classless and stateless administration of things, as in an anarchist scenario? If one of the replacement strategies, you should be informed that ambitions for overthrowing Western democracies did not originate with Marx and Engels, for nowhere in their writings have I seen them come out for overthrowing Western democracies, as opposed to their constant advocacy of overthrowing repressive monarchies, as in Germany or Russia. Later in his life, Engels even wrote to the effect that 'English workers have a good-enough democracy to get what they want.' Marx, the dominant intellect of the First International, approximately said that the International wanted socially-controlled democratic republics. The perversion of urging Westerners to overthrow their democracies is rampant in Lenin, however, and extended to the CPUSA in the 20's and 30's, but faded as unity against Nazism and Fascism became a popular cause.

   From '76 to '94, I generally favored overthrowing our democracy, but could easily vacillate if I thought about it too hard, often wishing that I could be comfortable with my not-very-well-thought-out ideas. At the time, however, I didn't have sufficient grasp of the material to critique my own ideas, and I would have been offended if someone else critiqued them as half-baked. Socialists should be prepared to clearly address these issues, but socialist literature diverges so widely on these issues in that it would surprise me if many or any had sufficiently clearly defined ambitions to enable them to embrace one scenario while clearly articulating rejections of others, for I know of no socialist who can do so without delving into ambiguities and uncertainties.

   Since there are 3 major ways in which to be a socialist, are you prepared to clearly enunciate the pros and cons of all 3, and to deal with those who would socialize using either of the two other methods? Are you prepared to deal with situations, such as in the Spanish Civil War of the 30's, when communists executed anarchists over ideological differences? Are you so wedded to a particular method of socialism that you will be willing to kill fellow reds so that your scheme of socializing may have a chance to dominate? This can not be any more of an easy question for you than it had to have been for those who were actually in the fray in Spain. I don't know of any socialist who has a clear and satisfactory answer to ideological and sectarian differences. If you have an answer, let me know. If not, I would spend some time trying to figure out ways to get all reds to the promised land without internecine bloodshed. It should be, and must be, an absolute necessity to have a clear idea of how to deal with the problem of reds forming their firing squads in circles.

   From these paradoxes, you may be able to detect the futility of the struggle for any kind of socialism, for reds will never be able to get it together to implement a common socialist plan. This futility is not lost on all leftists, and causes a certain amount of demoralization. Many sectarians compensate by becoming overly proud of whatever socialist identity they enjoy. Some declare themselves to be the true inheritors of Marxism, Leninism, Maoism, 'etc.ism', and fiercely uphold their sectarian principles by denouncing other groups, and expelling dissenters within their own ranks. Great way to declare the brotherhood of man and build unity around a common plan of socialism, isn't it? Some optimists may consider these difficulties to be minor, but I never did, for they constituted some of the juiciest intrigues that I was caught up in.

   State-smashing socialism was a niche opportunity in lesser developed countries on their way from feudalism or colonialism to capitalism. If doing something positive for the lower classes is the rationale for introducing revolutionary socialism in the USA, there is a way to help the lower classes without introducing the heavy hand of a socialist state.

   Can competition between workers over scarce jobs be eliminated without revolution? Engels had written within a few years of the end of his life to the effect that 'English workers have a good-enough democracy to get what they want', proving that the problem in England was not a lack of democracy. So, what is the sense of smashing that which is 'good enough'? There is no sense to it, except to cynical socialist leaders who can always find enough suckers to support them and their ultra-fringe notion that 'we have to smash or replace democracies so that the property of the rich can be taken away', as though changing property relations would automatically do the lowest classes any good. Most people ought to be able to figure out that turning over the property of the rich to some other entity accomplishes just that, and, in itself, nothing more. On the other hand, enacting legislation to distribute work more equitably reduces the suffering of the masses in a very efficient manner.

   The problem in England in 1844 was seen by Engels as competition between workers over scarce 40, 50, 60, 70, and 80 hour-per-week opportunities to make the rich richer. In none of the writings of Marx and Engels that I've seen do they advocate smashing existing democracies, and I challenge anyone to come up with words to that effect. On the other hand, the struggles for revolution that they wrote about were always struggles to replace monarchies with democracies. That's what revolution in Europe in the last century was all about. Engels even reported Marx as saying that 'the republic is the final form of state in which the battle between the proletariat and bourgeoisie will be fought to a finish', and words to that effect can be found in Marx's 'Critique of the Gotha Program'. But, the fact that Marx and Engels were bullish on republicanism is history that pecunious socialists can't bury fast enough, for it interferes with the livings they make scamming suckers with democracy-smashing theories. I fattened their coffers for a while, but, if we can't learn any lessons from history, then we are bound to incessantly repeat it.

   Did you ever notice that Marx never fully worked out his theory of world revolution? There is room for a lot of guesswork about what precisely is supposed to happen, when and where. If there were a single place in Marx's work where a socialist could go to find out just what to do in such-and-such a situation, then there would be little excuse for sectarianism, for any other socialist could easily correct errant and lazy socialists. But there is no such place, so people consequently have to mull over the entire length and breadth of the writings of both Marx and Engels in order to try to figure out what to do, and then there is still a lot of room for arguing, well after the cows have come home. The confusion over what to do gives rise to much of the sectarianism among the left. Because a single authoritative guide was never written, socialism remains a muddle of countless options.

   Engels had it right in 1844. For him to later sneer at struggles for shorter hours is as symptomatic of his socialist fallibility as is the tendency of present-day Western socialists, such as the News and Letters group, to sneer at shorter hours. I tried my darnedest to dialogue with that group for about a year between '96 and '97, but met with only a steadfast unwillingness to face realities. They admitted to being fuzzy about what things would look like the day after the revolution, but even the tragedy of not having a positive scenario to work for would not open their minds to look at alternatives to smashing capitalism. At least they were not afraid to admit that they had yet to figure what the revolutionary world would look like, which admission is about all that I can think of to say about them that isn't negative. Most of the rest is similar to what I found in the rest of the left: the same old bureaucracy, censorship, secrecy, sectarianism and states of denial. I could no more reason with them than I've been successful with any other 'died in the wool' socialist. But, as a human being, I find it hard to give up on the human race. Giving up the quest for sharing work is the equivalent, for this semi-educated mensch, to semi-educated socialists giving up on socialism with nothing of promise to take its place. So, we all work for something, but is everything that people work for feasible? Most leftists avoid the hard work of comparing levels of feasibility of various social programs, but, dialectics, or 'the theory of how things change', dictates a certain conversion to work-sharing in the future, as far-more-advanced technology replaces many more workers than ever before, and as every other program inspired by the left fails to do anything real about chronic social problems.

   My old comrades convinced me, at least for a while, that the reason more Americans weren't socialist was because of a conspiracy of silence against socialism, and this in a country in which all kinds of radical presses are delivered to people's homes by the US Post Office. They should have lived in Russia before the revolution, at a time when socialist presses had to publish underground. And yet, in spite of the repression, Russia went socialist, while freedom of speech in the West yields capitalism. In this country, there certainly was a red scare for some people at one time, but now everyone laughs at the red threat. The FBI could throw all of its repressive machinery in the trash bin, and that still wouldn't give socialists any better advantage. North Americans just aren't interested.

   Another problem with the left is what motivates them. Is it pure humanitarianism, or is it revenge? It's my suspicion that many leftists want to kick butt in a bad way, and can't wait for the opportunity to wreak vengeance. I certainly looked forward to it while in the SLP, as did many of my old 'comrades'. If the left were motivated by pure humanitarianism, they might be more inclined to jump at the chance to see that what little work that has yet to be taken over by machines and computers was equitably shared, placating the economic concerns of the entire working class, but instead don't seem to want workers to be happy workers, and would rather see them suffer enough to incite a revolution. This sentiment can easily be read between the lines of what the News and Letters socialists advocate, and can be detected at least as far back as some letters written by Engels, which are included in the back of my book. Socialists seem not to want workers to be happy working within a capitalist milieu, but instead seem to want them to become mad enough to smash the state and abolish capitalism. But, when all workers want property for themselves, good luck trying to get them to take away the property of any class.

   Revolutionary socialist thinking continues: 'to get workers mad enough to want to smash the system, then what little work that has yet to be taken over by machines and computers had better NOT be equitably shared, because placating the entire working class with jobs at high wages will eliminate their revolutionary fervor.' That is the type of thinking some socialists engage in, even if they're in so much of a state of denial that they can't bring themselves to put all of the pieces in the same bag all at once, like I just did. Revolutionaries can't act on their humanitarian impulses to allow everyone to work (by simply sharing it), and instead want to wait for the development of even more conflict and strife than what we already have!

   There has to be a good reason for taking away the property of the rich, doesn't there? Well, here's one way by which socialists, starting with Marx himself, illogically apply the lessons of surplus value. You probably know how surplus values are generated. To recap, the working day is divided into two time periods, the first known as 'necessary labor', during which workers create the value of their wages, and the second, known as 'surplus labor', during which period they work for the benefit of their employers - paying taxes and rent, increasing capital, creating profits, etc. A typical socialist response is to point to surplus value as something to cry over, and as something that will never be resolved, except by replacing capitalism with socialism. The vulgar argument goes, 'Capitalism creates exorbitant surplus values; so, the solution is to abolish capitalism.' The problem is never a question of the degree of profit and surplus value, as in 'more being worse than less', rather, the problem is escalated into a question of black and white, to the effect that, 'If black exists, it must be replaced by white, and no shade of gray will satisfy.' The SLP, e.g., allows none of its members to think about tampering with the degree of exploitation, because the abolition of exploitation will supposedly occur on the same day as the abolition of capitalism and the state. Besides, reducing exploitation disinclines workers toward revolution, and without revolution, revolutionaries wouldn't get into power. Wouldn't it be terrible if workers were to disappoint the revolutionaries? How inconsiderate! And, inconvenient.

   Someone listening to the socialist argument who could think independently could say, 'if workers compete with one another over scarce long-hour opportunities to create exorbitant profits, then the solution to that problem is for workers to unite to work less, i.e., unite to withhold their labor power to sufficiently enable all workers to find jobs, which would create a positive demand for labor, drive wages up, enable them to laugh at minimum wages, unemployment compensation, and all manner of handouts, and solve the biggest problems they face, such as the total lack of workers' control.' Revolutionary socialists have to be able to afford to disregard civil thinking like that in order to promote extreme measures, and, along those lines, many socialists I know can afford to 'dabble' in socialism. For them, socialism is little more pressure-ridden than any other 'good cause' or harmless hobby, and their meetings good opportunities for socialists to get together and raise money so that their leaders will be able to continue to mislead them. The price people pay for hiring other people to think for them is that they receive some pretty shabby merchandise in return. It took me a long time to learn that lesson.

   How would you like to see workers' control? How would you like to see workers free enough to boycott destructive occupations such as land-mine manufacture and clearcutting old-growth forests? Does anyone in the world think that a working class in desperate competition over scarce low-pay and long-hour jobs could possibly boycott such rotten jobs? I suppose workers in China enjoy carving up cats and dogs so that Americans can wear 'nice' furs. Maybe you saw the pictures on TV recently. It's the kind of gruesome labor that we would have to be very 'hard up' to accept, but, when times get tough enough, people do awful things to get by. That is why we live in such an immoral society. Desperate people do anything to get by, no matter who or what gets hurt - people, animals, the environment, or all of the above. As long as we get paid, we survive; therefore, most desperate workers will do anything that pays, no matter how destructive. They are also very good about keeping their mouths shut about the damage they do, often in full knowledge of the consequences to blameless parties.

   We can create a moral society, but I doubt if the initiative will come from ruling classes who suddenly get religion and campaign for work to be shared. Rather, I think that morality may have to begin with socialists looking within their own hearts, and acting morally within their own ranks. Turned loose on the world with a reasonable agenda, most socialists are well-intentioned enough to do an awful lot of good work. But, I have yet to see a single socialist who is willing to take the long look into their own hearts and minds. None that I know have ever come close to admitting they were wrong about the possibilities of revolution in the West. They won't even allow themselves to think about such things, believing that they are the good guys who are bound to win their quest for socialism, no matter if they haven't made much progress in elevating their status with the masses since the 30's. Actually, a corollary of my work casts serious doubt into whether what happened in the 30's was really progress, or whether the denial of labor's agenda in favor of the socialist one* represented severe reaction that set the stage for the lost times that we presently find ourselves in, where the fate of the lowest classes is increasingly left to chance, charity, or the 'benevolence' of a government that sometimes seems as though it delights in cutting people away from needed social services, as they did to welfare benefits in Massachusetts just before Christmas.

   *Well-documented in scholar Hunnicut's 1989 book entitled "Work Without End", organized labor wanted to share work equitably by means of a 30-hour week during the Depression of the '30's, but victorious socialists managed to put a lot of people to work by inflating the role of government far above and beyond what Americans had ever experienced before. And, just where did their 'Social-Democratic' programs get us? To where we are now, which is why Americans distrust big government and socialism as much as ever. We are more of a Social-Democratic country than what many, many people are willing to admit, especially those on the left who think that the government doesn't do nearly enough for the poor. As long as the poor fight among themselves over increasingly scarce 40-hour opportunities to make the rich richer, the poor are not going to have much of a sense of security. People wonder why there's so much violence and crime, while bankrupt revolutionaries can hardly think of anything more poignant to say than 'All the more reason for us to change the system', as if socialism by itself, without acting to reduce competition over scarce long-hour jobs, would automatically make it less likely for people to misbehave. No matter whether the system is capitalism or socialism, as long as competition over scarce long-hour jobs exists, evil prevails, because workers are powerless to affect public affairs, except for what little they can accomplish at the ballot box.

   Look at what happens when the Social-Democratic agenda is followed ad nauseam: A better machine is introduced into a factory environment and a few workers are laid off. With strong Social-Democratic programs in place, workers collect unemployment compensation, and if not all of them can find new jobs, then a strong Social-Democratic government wouldn't hesitate to put the unfortunates on welfare for as long as necessary. Victorious socialists would smile and think 'how different the situation was from a few years back, when Republicans and Democrats were in control, and their adamant refusals to take care of the poor caused a humanitarian populace to elect us socialists to power.' Sound like a dream come true? Wait, there's more.

   The 'replacement of labor by technology' scenario continues on. More workers are moved onto the welfare rolls and are assured of an existence. But, wait a minute. Someone has to pay for the people on welfare, so taxes and tax rates go up. True to form, the socialist government raises taxes on the rich instead of making the poor pay for the maintenance of the poor. So far, so good, but then the bosses move production to countries off-shore for the benefit of minimum tax burdens and maximum profits. 'Good riddance' say the socialists in unison, as they scramble to raise taxes even more. But, taxing speeds the outflow of capital even more, unemployment soars, welfare rolls soar, and the nation gets caught in a vicious cycle of taxing companies out of the country, laid-off workers going on welfare, forcing taxes to be raised on remaining companies, which move offshore, if at all possible. In the end, the USA ends up in the status of a Third World country. Such is the end result of a Social-Democratic agenda. Happy with that? Not everyone is, so too few would vote to implement it. That's why we're no more socialist than the rest of the world.

   Competitive Western nations are becoming increasingly cruel to the lowest classes at just about the same rate. Sometimes, ideologues get into power and you get Thatcher in England, Reagan and Bush in the USA, etc. Then, people react to the cruelty, swing the pendulum the other way, and you get Clinton and Blair. I'm not ready for the next swing to the right by any means.

   If we decided that 'what little work that remains to be done by humans' should be equitably shared, government could be cut at least in half, no matter which party is in control, but a good portion of the left is composed of New Dealers who think that government is too small as it is. They think that government agencies should be created and expanded so that people could be put to work, or be provided for by an expansion of government programs such as were initiated in the 30's. Some may consider that to be a good logical approach to social programs, but look at where else the logic leads to. Technological progress does not stand still. Think of how different things are today, compared to a century ago - hardly any electricity or cars, telegraphs and newspapers the main means of communications, no radio or TV, 40% of the population still on the farm because tractors have yet to be introduced, no airplanes to speak of, 9 and 10-hour work-days in sweatshops, child labor rather normal, regulation of industry almost non-existent, and no robots or computers.

   Now, look at a prediction of how glaringly different things are going to be a century from now - physical labor will be non-existent by 2086. This wasn't a prediction made by a nut; rather, it was made in a well-respected trade journal called Electronic Engineering Times. If physical labor will be non-existent, that will only be because robots will have made tremendous advances. Thinking of robots the way they are now, it is easy enough for any of us to just rear back our heads and laugh, the same way people would have laughed at the thought of a Wright brothers creation getting to the moon. Stupid robots of today have a long way to go before they can begin to equal the average human.

   But, the laughter may be just a little premature, for we just went through an exercise examining how different things are compared to a century ago, when flight was at its most primitive stage. People then might have been tempted to scoff at the notion of moon-walks and space stations, but nowadays, they are facts of life. When you consider how technology multiplies in effect like compound interest, the notion of abolition of physical labor a century from now isn't so far-fetched. It doesn't really matter, either, whether the abolition of labor occurs one century from now, two centuries, or a dozen or more centuries from now, it's a pretty safe bet that the abolition of physical labor will happen, and society will have to evolve to be able to handle that eventuality. But, we need a plan. We can't just let technology and capitalist greed run away with the whole show without our control. We can't just 'innocently' stand by and watch more and more people go homeless and hungry while those who have jobs continue to fight over increasingly scarce long-hour opportunities to make the rich richer, or the government more oppressive, as in jailing those who fall through the gaps in the social fabric, and then turn to less-than-legal means of making do, such as burglary, scams, theft, etc., and, when all of those fail to keep body and soul together, some commit suicide, or suicide with police assistance, an increasingly frequent occurrence.

   Productivity constantly improves. By one estimate, we are now 40 times more productive than we were 200 years ago. Coincidentally enough, that figure corresponds to our agricultural progress. Two hundred years ago, 80% of the population worked in agriculture, whereas only 2% of us do now, another ratio of 40 to 1. If many times more of us were involved in the production of necessities of life 200 years ago, an almost absurdly small number of us are involved now, probably less than 10% of the workers. With that in mind, let's look again at the effects of the Social-Democratic solution to unemployment, known as 'work creation' to the Jobs for All Coalition, as they proudly espouse it in their literature.

   More and more people are being shifted by advances in technology from production of necessities to the production of - what shall we call it, 'frivolities'? Perhaps 'non-necessities'. Others may want to call a lot of it 'waste', for a lot of it is. I don't think you will very much disagree with that judgment. If living sanely means diminishing the waste we produce and consume, then as technology shifts more and more of us from producing necessities to non-necessities without cutting down on the total volume of work, then to that extent we could be said to be living less sanely, or more wastefully. Up until relatively recently in the human experience, the purpose of work was to help us to stay alive. Now, the purpose of work is to make the rich insanely richer, while the purpose of our lives is to compete, or to fight among ourselves, over increasingly scarce long-hour opportunities to make the rich insanely richer. Pretty sad comment on the quality of workers' lives in modern times.

   One of the S-D solutions to unemployment is 'government programs to create work'. Sickening thought, isn't it? 'Well, not if it puts bread on the table' would be a predictable S-D response. Still, it is stupid, for so little work is now needed for us all to get by that the thought of creating even more artificial work sickens me. We could easily get by with each worker putting in a single hour per week. Put people to work doing most anything, and resources are used up. We already have a lot of people working to make the rich richer than their wildest dreams, and, on the other hand, another group who can't find long-hour opportunities to do that, but would be forced by Social-Democratic programs to waste even more resources for hours on end. A great way for people to be free, isn't it? We were meant to be free, and yet, Social-Democrats would enslave us in the name of 'putting food on the table', 'jobs', 'getting homeless people off the streets', etc. Most socialists would be unpleasantly surprised to learn that the socialist salvation they espouse far better approximates slavery in the view of many people, and would be little different from the workfare that thousands of poor people have already come to detest.

   Now, step into the time machine and proceed to 2100, by which time all physical labor could be abolished. What type of make-work will the S-D's have for us then? If the world ramps up its cruelty to match its stupidity for not having abolished make-work in favor of work-sharing, I will be very glad not to be around. In any case, we will probably not be around unless they make some startling medical breakthroughs. Maybe they will push retirement ages up to 100 or more, if, by then, we haven't already cooked our gooses with global warming, which is probably a direct result of squeezing every bit of work possible out of both human flesh and the resources we consume, for it will also be work multiplied by vastly more productive capacity than what we presently enjoy, meaning that each worker will dispose of far more resources than at present. Capitalist waste in the quest for profits, aided and abetted by Social-Democratic shortsightedness, all fueled by thoughtless and selfish agendas.

   To wind up: Name any social problem you can think of, and the origin of most of them can be traced to people chasing too few long-hour jobs, but they can never be traced to a matter of property ownership. Whether it's a union official, or a mainstream politician, all of their talk about 40-hour 'jobs, jobs, jobs' is just a load of malarkey that needs to be fought for the idiocy it is. The 40-hour week with 2 weeks vacation per year and retirement at 65 are not matters of immutable principle, and the sooner people educate themselves to that, the sooner we can reduce our suffering.

   To discover that the quest that I had been living for was worthless to the lower classes really spun my head around (just like when I was studying psychology and discovered that the basis of my neurosis was belief in lies that others had told me, which I repeated to myself). What was next in life, to become a believer in capitalism? That's what it boiled down to, but in the spirit of 'Kellogg 6-hour-day liberation capitalism', I became an advocate of shorter hours for the entire working class, which certainly researched into one of the nobler causes anyone could ask to be part of. What a surprise to find a quest that is perfect from every angle. It also solves the problem of the undialectical nature of 'workers smashing democracies' the way the bourgeoisie smashed monarchies. The new way to lower class liberation is truly modern, and is unlike any that have previously been tried.

   The suspicion that socialism is worthless is confirmed by the bureaucracy, censorship, secrecy, states of denial and sectarianism practiced by every socialist, communist and anarchist group I have ever known. Bureaucracy prevents often-rotten bureaucrats from being replaced. Censorship ensures that only the prevailing party line gets aired. Secrecy keeps the group's darkest secrets under lock and key, and those who breach the code of silence can easily be found out and disposed of. States of denial enable circumventing tough questions, and allow quick returns to Fantasy Land. Sectarianism is the best proof that socialists will never be able to cooperate to achieve their goal. It's little wonder, then, that loyal followers behave like 'company men' (and women) at the same time that they condemn corporate behavior. It's easy to wear blinders and to be hypocritical when party life so closely apes the corporate experience.

   The movement to share work, however, needs no such devices, for it is not a scam that needs to be protected with the bureaucracy, censorship, secrecy, states of denial and sectarianism that is so rampant in other left-wing causes. To do away with protective layers of bureaucracy, the movement to share work may adopt a structure not very unlike that described in my book - the First International. It will adopt rules requiring all serious issues be covered in its newsletters and other media in as great detail as any participant desires. Since no politics of exclusion are involved, no political perspective needs to be censored. It will adopt rules to ensure that all of its internal affairs will be published in its media. No secrecy will be needed at any level, from salaries to political differences. Since the movement is all-inclusive, its doors will be open to all comers, and it will be impossible to disrupt. Its very premise, its raison d'être, will be inclusiveness. All differences will be negotiated by full, fair and open debate. While some socialists have the power to exclude all kinds of 'enemies' from the Edens they build in their little sects, it's easy to understand why work-sharing inclusiveness is not for them. How could a socialist possibly want to share work with a Ku Klux Klanner? What would fellow socialists think of a socialist who would even dare entertain such thoughts? The horror of it all.

   The challenge to socialists is to discard impossible dreams, and to replace them with reasonable dreams. Workers demand of socialists nothing less than they stop acting as though they are interested in the fate of the poor, while an important (but largely unspoken) component of the socialist agenda is 'to allow poor workers to suffer enough to inspire them to elevate socialists to power' (if ever we were foolish enough). A lot of people are ready to share their work, but will never be even remotely interested in taking away the property of the rich. Through quite a few conversations with people who don't have political axes to grind, I know that for sure. It's a ripe field for activists, but where are they? Playing their bourgeois games that fool no one but themselves. What socialists have in common with the bourgeoisie is that they can both afford to overlook the real concerns of the working class. Therefore, socialism is nothing less than a bourgeois movement. Shocking, isn't it? But, that's what the critique of socialism adds up to. For all of its frivolities and uncertainties, bourgeois is the bottom line.

   If one socialist can learn to become non-socialist, then other socialists who are fed up with getting nowhere fast, and fed up with running into the same old impediments as in capitalist life, may be able to learn to become non-socialist as well. A new movement has to be created to help change the left from hopelessly socialist to a work-sharing movement for the capitalist class to contend with. My goal is to help the left to put socialism behind it so that it can move forward to feasible and humane goals. Unless the left puts socialism behind it, it will never get anywhere of importance.

   The movement to share work can attack on several fronts, and the nice part is that all are complementary aspects of the campaign. Some people may elect to concentrate on higher overtime premiums; others may opt for fighting for a 7-hour day, or a 35-hour week; others may want to work for longer vacations, as enjoyed in Europe; others may want to work for earlier retirement, as in Norway; others may want to work for sabbaticals; others may push for all of these measures, some of them, or one of them. The nice part is that all of the measures, and some I haven't thought of yet, all work to create a scarcity of labor, which is what's really needed to prevent 'the slide to the bottom'. The individual parts of the campaign to share work do not work like little sects that are at each other's throats in desperate competition to gather the most support for systems that are mutually exclusive, as are socialist, communist and anarchist proposals. Those who are interested in higher overtime premiums wouldn't have the slightest interest in impeding the progress of those who work for longer vacations, unlike the communists and anarchists who were at each others throats during the Spanish Civil War. How would you like to be part of a movement whose different aspects are complementary to each other, instead of in conflict with each other? Or, would you rather scheme about what you would do with the anarchists if the CP ever came to power? I hope not.

   But, try as I may to be convincing, all of my effort still isn't worth anything if it doesn't change anyone's mind. Be sure to tell me why you won't change your mind, if you won't. Maybe it'll help me figure out what I'm doing wrong, if I am.

PS: I just received the latest issue, #93, of a semi-monthly entitled "Discussion Bulletin", which has a couple of lead articles which express doubts over the worth of revolutionism and Marxism. I highly recommend that you look over those articles, for they contain a lot of both truth and insight, even though they are unable to recommend a positive goal to work for with any degree of definition.

 

July 12, 1999
Dear Jane,

   If I hadn't written my book, I would probably still be supporting some kind of left-wing program based on lies. Why don't fighters for truth and justice become more concerned with the truly rotten stuff that is going on within their own ranks? The situation makes me wonder if I'm the only person on the left who is capable of figuring out what's true and what's false, and that it isn't very smart to support programs based on lies, if getting somewhere real is a goal.

   One of the arguments that I should have included in my latest manifesto is a lesson from our Civil War. The South attacked the North in order to ensure that private ownership of people would remain allowable, but lost. What came out of the war was a policy enabling people to own just about all kinds of means of production except other human beings. Poor blacks never got their 40 acres and a mule because it would have required partitioning the plantations. Even though the South was so completely crushed that it could not have resisted the partitioning, that proposal was too divisive to implement, so the freed slaves had to go without. This shows how strong the sentiment behind property ownership is, and hence how unlikely its socialization. If it took a Civil War to abolish private ownership of people, then what kind of war would it take to abolish private ownership of other means of production? There may not be enough blood in the veins of everyone alive to accomplish what revolutionaries want to do. Trying to change property relations may be a fine effort for people with lots of faith in the impossible, but who will help them? Not I, except to try to help them to get over their obsession.

   I hope that you will agree with the rather plain and simple logic of this argument. Logic can help us to choose the best plan for the future. All we have to do is to find and fearlessly apply logic.

 

July 23, 1999
Dear George,

   Thank you for responding to my 'Replacing the Failed Socialist Dream' opus. Your remarks on the postcard about us 'learning to live without structure', your critique of capitalism as a system that works for the rich but not for the poor, your disdain for profits, and your esteem for 'production for use' combine to indicate a 'philosophical anarchist' perspective, but I think I told you that once before, didn't I?

   What's to blame for our problems? The left is confused about that. To keep their leftist and socialist credentials in good standing, many blame something outside of themselves for world problems, almost universally the rich or capitalism, but can't blame themselves for their own lack of power. If they could blame themselves, then they no longer would be the helpless victims they like to make themselves out to be. It's easy to be 'helpless victims of a cruel and unjust system', so we therefore don't hear too much of a clamor for the left to put an end to its sectarianism, or to clean its own house.

   You're not the only one to want to see 'production for use'. If, on the other hand, you could be that truly unique individual who could actually figure out a way to get to 'production for use' from where we are now, you would be worth a billion dollars to those who have been trying to figure out how to get there for a long time, but have yet to do it. In order to get anywhere in this world as a society, we have to move a step at a time, but no one can agree about a first step to take to get to 'production for use'. Some people want a revolution to get there, while others can think of a zillion reforms that would supposedly do it. If, on the other hand, the left would change its priorities as a result of becoming aware of the idiocy behind the ways in which its agendas were determined for them a long time ago, they may then want to consider the more humanitarian goal of simply putting everyone to work by more equitably sharing what little that remains for humans to do, which would work wonders for a variety of our social and environmental problems. But, who wants to apply logic to our problems when there is so much profit to be made by perpetuating them? Besides, if the left were to truly clean its own house, leftist groups (like my old SLP) would simply have to retire their old programs if they were to discover how absurd their programs really were, and they would lose all of their reasons for existing as a separate entity.

   Well, I could go on and on, but I've already put enough people to sleep with my opus already.

 

August 03, 1999
Dear Thirsty,

   I now think that you are correct on a certain matter. I think that it is a stretch to claim that some workers are 'stealing' work away from other workers. Stealing implies consciousness of the act, but workers do not understand that their willingness to work long hours prevents others from getting any, or else feel powerless to do anything about it. A less mobile society early in the last century may have better understood that point, for they struck for shorter hours when labor-saving machinery threw a lot of their neighbors out on the street, and they kept on winning shorter hours until the 1920's. In this age of mobility and long commutes, the replacement of labor by machinery does not automatically set the chords of sympathy in harmony the way it used to. Workers who remain on the job generally don't see unemployment as much their own responsibility as that of the freshly unemployed and the government.

   You are right about my possible misuse of the word 'rob'. As I was increasingly called upon to work, you accurately observed that no one forced me to do so. My choice of the word 'rob' might have more accurately described my perception than others' perceptions of their work experiences. Because I edit my work rather thoroughly, there probably was a good reason for me to use the work 'rob' to describe what I felt. I can agree on a certain level that no one forced me to work. At the same time, it might be prudent to add that the working class usually goes to work under the duress of economic necessity, though not at gunpoint. It is usually the choice of people to seek work, starve, live a life of crime, or seek out the dole, if anything resembling the dole exists much anymore. The Massachusetts office changed its name from 'welfare' to 'transitional assistance', with a maximum duration of assistance of two years.

   Economic necessity drove me to work for most of my life, but, when I was in grade school, I went to work in the family auto repair business under rather severe pressure. I didn't feel as though I had a choice, and I deeply resented the intrusion of forced labor on my non-school time. Did you know that it can be traced back to the personal history of nearly every sociopath that a good portion of their play lives was interrupted over a significant period of time? Though my life can't properly be described as that of a destructive sociopath, I was robbed of a lot of what should have been play time. From the age of 7 on, I felt like the personal slave of my father, and it took me a long time to get over the resentment. Consequently, the word 'robbed' comes easily to mind in my own case, though I wouldn't be so willing to apply the term to people who may have grown up under different circumstances.

   It's true that I said that 'socialism makes little sense for America.' I also accept Webster's definition, and I am happy not to be one of those sectarians who cannot accept commonplace dictionary definitions of terms like socialism, anarchism and communism. The sectarians to whom I refer reside in organizations like the SLP, e.g., who constantly hound the opposition in other sects for having allegedly distorted the meaning of socialism to include, e.g., state ownership, even though it is clear from the works of Marx and Engels themselves that the scenario was for the proletarian dictatorship, i.e., the proletariat elevated to ruling class, i.e., the proletarian state, to own the means of production. Not everyone is prepared to talk about the difference between Marx's 'proletarian state ownership' and 'bourgeois state ownership', for, in the estimate of ordinary people (whose wisdom should not be invalidated as often as the left is willing to do it), state ownership amounts to ownership by an elite, for that is pretty much what state ownership in history has actually amounted to.

   Anyway, I think we can agree that socialism means either collective ownership by the whole people, or state ownership. In order to change property relations, society would have to get from where it is now to there, i.e., from property concentrated in the hands of a relatively few to property in the hands of many more people, or the state. First of all, one could ask, "Is it worth it?" Just exactly what would changing ownership do for the lower classes? What manna would flow down from heaven? Would it be 'workers' control'? A more equitable income distribution? Jobs for all? An end to racism, sexism, ageism, etc.ism? In a country that worships private property because of what a little can do for the common man, what's in it for me to try to shovel bleep against the tide trying to convince the man on the street to change property relations? All I ever got was rejection, which is why 'preaching to the choir' became so much more satisfactory for those, like me, who like to preach.

   To me, the day after collectivizing property ownership, we would find that we had accomplished just that, and no more. It no more enables worker control than at United Airlines, does not eliminate 'isms, etc., and doesn't get to the heart of what actually needs to be changed in this country and in the West. Though socialism may be a hard sell at the present, socialism was plausible at a certain stage of history in Europe. Marx thought that the trick was to acquire political power. In his day, there were two ways to get power. In republics like the USA, England and Holland, workers could conceivably come to power by peaceful democratic means if their parties were strong enough to win elections. But, in the existing republics, workers' parties were not very strong at all.

   But, workers' parties were strong in non-republics because they also reflected workers' interests in democracy, an institution that barely existed on the continent of Europe. The First International was a red republican workers' organization that competed with bourgeois republicans who only wanted to go as far as 'bourgeois democracy'. Reds, as well as bosses, wanted to replace old feudal monarchies with democracies. Marx advocated alliances with petty-bourgeois democrats right up to the point of creation of republics, after which the alliance would be dissolved so that the socialist program could be pushed in the fledgling republic. Socialists back in the days of the monarchies had plausible goals, and, due in large part to the experiences of revolutionaries in France, optimism was attached to their socialist dream, especially after both 1871 and 1917. But, what hope do communists, socialists and anarchists in democracies have? They don't have much more than a determination to keep the socialist dream alive in various Balkanized sects.

   Because Westerners have grown up with centuries of respect for private property, it is difficult, if not impossible, to generate much interest in abolishing it. So, why try to abolish what people want for their very own? The American Civil War should have given American socialists an excellent lesson in what's important to us, but because that lesson so thoroughly ruins the dream of changing property relations, the net result is that American socialists learn nothing of strategic importance from our War. The South attacked the North in order to ensure that private ownership of people would remain legal, but lost. What resulted was a policy enabling people to own just about every kind of means of production except other humans. Poor blacks never got their 40 acres and a mule because it would have required partitioning the plantations. Even though the South was so completely crushed that it could not have resisted the partitioning, that proposal was too divisive to implement, so the freed slaves went without. This shows how strong the sentiment behind property ownership is, and hence how unlikely its socialization. If it took a Civil War to abolish private ownership of people, then what kind of war would it take to abolish private ownership of other means of production? There may not be enough blood in the veins of everyone alive to accomplish what socialist revolutionaries want. Clearly, it would take a much bigger war, since people were willing to fight to the death to keep or eliminate as immoral an institution as slavery. But, few except socialists think that private ownership of other means of production is immoral.

   In his writings about the Civil War, Marx made it perfectly plain that it was fought because of slavery alone, and he refuted lots of arguments to the contrary. Our ancestors were able to eliminate private ownership of people by means of a bloody civil war, but private property in general has been part of our bones for a long time, so it's better not to waste our lives trying to change that which is relatively unchangeable. The absurdity of trying to change property relations is what makes socialism such a losing game in the USA.

   Marx said that we would someday change property relations, but he was as wrong about the timing of that as he was about where the socialist revolution would begin, which he thought would be in the most advanced capitalist countries and spread to the least, but the socialist revolution instead started in less developed countries and died there. Why is that? Toward the end of his life, Engels noted that, beyond Europe & the Mediterranean, private property, bourgeoisies and proletarians barely existed, so how could socialism replace capitalism where capitalism barely existed? Socialism had to replace capitalism where capitalism was the prevailing mode of production, which meant the advanced capitalist countries of the West. Socialist revolutions in the East and South, and in one country at a time, were not part of Marx's plan for socialism.

   Even if the revolution were to begin in Russia (a possibility Marx and Engels speculated about late in their lives), the socialist scenario makes sense only if the Russian revolution could have sparked revolutions in the West, and then only if the new revolutionary governments could have lasted for a long time, which unity of a wide-spread proletarian dictatorship would have made counter-revolution impossible. Do you remember why the Paris Commune fell? As Marx stated in his 1872 Speech at The Hague, "The revolution needs solidarity, and we have a great example of it in the Paris Commune, which fell because a great revolutionary movement corresponding to that supreme rising of the Paris proletariat did not arise in all centres, in Berlin, Madrid, and elsewhere." As it was, the West nearly defeated the Soviet cause, and if it hadn't been for the concessions Lenin made to Western capitalists, the West may very well have been able to overthrow the Bolsheviks. Socialism in a single country clearly was not the path that Marx and Engels foresaw as a successful socialist scenario. Because the dream was flawed, socialism's internal contradictions resulted in what we got in '89 and beyond.

   You ask how to get people interested in a double-time overtime premium: I think that the way to do that is to get them interested in the concept of sharing work. Neither the government nor the bosses are interested in seeing to it that the working class gets to equitably share what little work that has yet to be taken over by machines. Profits are maximized when bosses squeeze as much work out of as few workers as possible, as is evidenced by soaring profit margins, the ever-increasing Dow average, the down-sizing of work forces, and the attitude of both industries and government to let the devil take the hindmost. It's likely that, if workers don't care about workers, then no one else is likely to either. The best way for workers to show that they care about the fate of their fellow workers is to share a little work with them, especially if they feel as though they have a little too much for themselves, and they are willing to part with a little work for a good cause, viz., the survival of everyone in their class. Machines are going to take over someday, as we know, so it's not too soon to start preparing for that day today. How do you plan to deal with the abolition of all physical labor by 2086?

   We could all take a little interest in some statistical studies that have been done lately. We could read and absorb the lessons of books like Prof. Hunnicut's "Kellogg's 6-Hour Day", Jeremy Rifkin's "The End of Work", and Julie Shore's "The Overworked American". Nothing comes without struggle, and the biggest struggle can sometimes be the one within ourselves, i.e., the struggle to replace worn-out ideas with useful ones. Socialists may be the last to admit that they are not very scientific, that they had merely been led into believing what other socialists taught them instead of doing their own independent studies, and that they had unwittingly passed along doubtful information to new students. What socialists 'know' is often the stuff of what religions are made. Independent research is the best antidote to socialist sentimentality. It was the actual context of history in Marx's works that changed my mind about socialism. The right wing didn't poison my mind. Until I changed, I though that everything the right wing wrote about Marx was a pack of lies. Certainly enough of what they wrote about Marx consisted of obvious lies, so I was immunized to blather.

   One of the problems with socialists is that they often put workers on pedestals, as though they can do no wrong, but workers do lots of wrong things and sometimes live very immoral lives, both on and off the job. After all, workers are paid to pollute, cut down the last of the old-growth redwoods, eliminate food stamp payments to needy people, etc. The list could go on and on. In other words, workers do what they get paid to do, no matter how immoral or destructive the nature of the work. I don't look at workers as much better than the capitalists or government bureaucrats they work for.

   It's wrong for workers to continue to work long hours while other would-be workers can only sit by and watch their neighbors hog all of the work for themselves. We cannot stand idly by while Joe Six-Pack hogs a whole bunch of work while his neighbor gets none. And then, of course, Joe is going to complain about rising tax rates because of all of his 'lazy neighbors' living on the dole or on welfare. This is sheer stupidity, so our obligation is to re-educate. Naturally, if socialists are more interested in winning workers to socialism, then they surely cannot criticize workers who will be helpful in realizing the socialist goal. Instead, socialists baby workers and tell them they are victims of exploitation.

   It would be better if we start teaching fellow workers that machines are going to take over a long time before socialism ever arrives here, and that we had better start sharing what little work that has yet to be taken over by machines. But, that's not what socialists say, and it's not what socialists said during the Depression. You will probably not hear from a socialist that half the companies in the USA introduced some form of work-sharing during the Depression, while socialist revolutionaries were trying to get workers mad enough to smash capitalism and the state.

   There's the question of whether workers would rather be doing something other than working long hours, and, for an analysis of that attitude, there probably isn't much that can beat Prof. Hunnicutt's analysis of attitudes of workers at Kellogg's plant in Battle Creek, MI. His book is so revealing that I have had my eyes opened wide more than once. It was a very complex thing that happened there, and, as the 6-hour shifts inaugurated during the Depression were gradually replaced by 8-hours shifts over a 55-year period, the politics of sharing work vs. hogging work occasionally made for a lot of strange bedfellows. Unionists found themselves on the side of management in a common struggle to abolish 6-hour shifts, which were 'sissified' by allocating them to women and the partially disabled. Corporate-sponsored macho culture made adherence to the philosophy of sharing work look like a weakness. Macho men turned against their fellow workers in an attempt to get more work - and marginally more money - for themselves. Because many of the 8-hour advocates' arguments did not consider the plight of the jobless, their arguments against 6 hours didn't often ring true, and most often sounded concocted. It's pretty disgusting when workers take the sides of their bosses and give up on humane solutions to social problems in favor of their own personal greed. Changing the tendency to hog work is a big challenge to those who would implement humane solutions to social problems.

   Well, you nailed me on my terminology about 'middle classes' and 'bourgeoisie' in my discussion of alleged SLP lies. I must apologize for the unnecessary confusion. What I should have said was that 'the SLP redefined the proletarian dictatorship into a dictatorship over the peasantry and middle classes instead of a dictatorship over the uppermost classes', which was its original Marxist definition.

   By redefining the dictatorship, though, the SLP was able to point to the small size of the peasantry in the USA in the early '30's and claim that 'the small size of the peasantry in the USA renders a proletarian dictatorship (over the peasantry) unnecessary.' They reasoned that 'the peasantry was too small and weak a class for the proletariat to have to bother oppressing.'

   One problem with this argument is the question of whether the relative sizes of the allegedly warring classes was ever a factor in whether a dictatorship would be necessary. Nowhere did Marx argue against the proletarian dictatorship simply because the bourgeoisie was a smaller class than the proletariat, so, just where did the SLP get the idea that size was a factor? Certainly not from Marx or Engels. Maybe from their own SLP book of 'fair play and etiquette'?

   If the dictatorship of the proletariat was a real dictatorship over the peasantry, then what the SLP said about it being unnecessary in the USA may have a certain appeal if we want to think that the proletariat would be 'big enough' not to want to dictate to a class of working people whose only alleged crime may be that of putting property interests ahead of the revolution. But, we know that the dictatorship of the proletariat was undoubtedly over the big bourgeoisie, so that alone invalidates the SLP conclusion that the proletarian dictatorship would not be necessary in the USA [due to relative class sizes].

   But, the SLP redefinition of the dictatorship of the proletariat did not stop at a dictatorship over the peasantry, for the SLP redefinition included over the rest of the middle classes as well, which includes self-employed individuals; doctors, lawyers and other professionals; businessmen employing quite a few workers; artists; and numerous other categories of enterprising people who would comfortably fit into the category of 'middle class'. When all of these middle-class people are added together, they amount to such a large portion of the population that it makes one wonder if a proletarian dictatorship over them would be feasible, not to mention whether a dictatorship over other segments of the producing classes would even be desirable. How many SLP members ever thought about these ramifications of their belief system? Not many. They still claim that the middle classes are a tiny portion of the population, an assertion so wrong that it can not help but make less dogmatic people laugh.

   Since the proletarian dictatorship is a very political state of government, what all of the misinformation of the SLP leads one to conclude is that, 'in the USA's socialist future, political government can be done without.' The whole point of all of the ideological fraud they committed was to get Americans to abandon all notions of governing with a political apparatus, and to instead change over to thinking about administering production through 'Socialist Industrial Unions', which was the program that their members so dutifully marketed. Their program amounts to a mere deviation from classical anarcho-syndicalism, a philosophy that few members were willing to admit that the SLP program closely resembles, but would deny it being identical due to the fact that the SLP believes that 'the election of SLP candidates is necessary in order to dissolve political government once and for all'. If they convened, their only act would be to adjourn government, but do you know any politicians who'd be willing to put such a quick end to their careers?

   None of the characters in the little clubs called radical parties (that foist such dubious theories and programs on the unsuspecting) will admit that they have to be able to afford to carry on with perpetrating such idiocy. They can spin all of the tall tales they want, because, with their middle-class lifestyles (for the most part), they'll never have to worry about being homeless and having to deal with the practical problems of the very poor in this country. So, they can afford to believe in their socialist dreams for the rest of their lives, and will never have to worry so much about their own fate that they are forced by their own misfortunes to have to ideologically struggle to a higher degree of sanity and practicality. Because they are so far away from anything that approaches practicality, usefulness, or a program that even marginally approaches scientific, the public for the most part can pass all of these radical groups by without ever having 'missed the boat'. As for myself, I have always been such a misfit that it was as though I was made to be lured in for the purpose of marketing idiocy. I wanted so badly to belong to anything that I was willing to lay all of my doubts aside. It often seemed as though everyone but myself knew better than to believe in what they were saying. But, this misfit took comfort in the company of other misfits. We were fit for being led by a bureaucracy with a single strong leader who had nearly life and death control over the affairs of the party and its members.

   When a party like the SLP is so loosely formed around its own warped version of science and history, you can bet that there was a lot for us to argue about without much resolution. How could there be an in-depth discussion of whether or not Arnold Petersen (the Party's big shot for 55 years) intentionally used quotes out of context without bringing into question the entire value of the party program to which the quotes out of context gave flimsy justification? When the whole intent of our cohesion as a party was the marketing of our program, how could we possibly call the validity of our party program into question? Without the program remaining the intact shining immutable star of the Party, the membership would have nothing around which to cohere. In order to believe that they were the chosen few who had the entire fate of the world in their hands, the membership had to have given up on real science a long time before. It would be a tall order indeed to ask ourselves to give up on our beliefs in a faulty party program in exchange for a scientific investigation of the characters and forces that foisted such fraud on the membership in the first place. Is the history of other parties equally riddled with fraud and swindling? Among the left, who cares? All they give a damn about, it seems, is that their socialist, communist or anarchist dreams are realized ahead of the dreams of some other sects. So, you have little radical parties and sects competing among themselves for the attention of the politically naive. Playing dirty tricks along the way, berating the competition as phonies who don't have the correct 'mass line', etc.

 

October 04, 1999
Dear Thirsty,

   For the 2nd time recently, I've enjoyed a segment on Book TV on CSPAN2 featuring Hilton Kramer promoting his book about 'The Twilight of the Intellectual'. He also has a magazine called 'The New Criterion'. I'm intrigued enough by him to have sent off a copy of my latest fusillade about 'replacing the failed socialist dream'.

   About Pacifica, my 'alma mater': I know and respect Dennis Bernstein and the staff with whom I worked, but don't respect the perspective taken by Marc Cooper or The Nation staff. Multi-culturalism, affirmative action, and other pet Democratic Party programs are such ridiculous band-aids to our social problems that they require bureaucratic organizational structures in order to perpetrate, even within their own advocacy groups. The reason Pacifica can perpetrate such dubious programs and get away with it is because Pacifica is a perfectly insulated bureaucracy. The Board can perpetuate its philosophy by selecting who will serve with them, and they naturally select only clones of themselves. If Board members could instead be democratically determined, then their dubious programs wouldn't stand a chance. The problem with Pacifica has always been a problem with structure. Make it democratic, and its problems will be more easily hammered out. I just got a clipping from an old buddy that showed that the station shutdown and staff lockout cost Pacifica a half million dollars. I know it doesn't sound possible, but the high-priced outfits Pacifica hired cost them some mighty big bucks.

   You asked, "What do you think would get the 'working class' to work, if not the duress of economic necessity?" Under present conditions, I can't think of too many other things that'll do that. I foresee a world in which work will be gradually phased out. A 40-hour week is equal to 2,000 hours per year, and we are already down to about 1,700 hours per week due to the rise of part-time work. In 1870, however, our ancestors averaged 3,000 hours per year. Which way do you think those numbers are pointing, up or down? What does it say about the number of hours people will work per year a century from now? Barring an environmental disaster that sends our descendants back to stone age levels of technology, a possibility that could easily be realized, our descendants should be working a lot less by 2100, or nothing at all. But, we have an obstinate unwillingness to consider anything less than a 40-hour job as meaningful. We have the New Deal to thank for that bit of idiocy, considering that big labor had its heart set on a 30-hour week during the 30's Depression. Read "Work Without End" by Professor Ben Hunnicutt for the true story of the betrayal of labor's agenda.

   Marx described two different scenarios for getting to workers' states, depending on whether the starting point was an old feudal monarchy of Europe, or a democracy like the USA, England, or Holland of his era. In a democracy, all it would take in theory to get a workers' state was an electoral victory of a workers' party. After Marx died, and European socialists and communists began to win elections, they weren't able to get very far with the socialist program of concentrating the means of production into the hands of the state.

   If workers started off with a monarchy, the program was to 'win the battle for democracy' by replacing the monarchy with a democracy, and for the workers' party to use its supremacy in the new democracy to embark on the program of socialism. If workers started off with a democracy and won elections, then they theoretically would have been able to pursue socialism by virtue of their political supremacy. The only hitch was that the only time when putting the means of production into the hands of a workers' state (socialism) was ever feasible was after socialists helped overthrow feudal monarchies, or liberated colonies, and came out of struggles with the unmitigated power of the state within their hands, and could thus forcefully expropriate capitalists. Aside from this, all we ever got when socialists won elections was 'Social-Democracy', and we know what a swamp that was, for it was the Social-Democracies of Europe that became immersed in World War One, and socialists elected to office in whatever countries have behaved little better than any other politicians. This doesn't really mean that the Stalins and Maos of the world were much better, which all goes to show how troublesome socialism has been since day one, whether it was communism or Social-Democracy.

   Marx thought that the rich would rebel against socialism, and do everything in their power to prevent it. That's very different from the SLP perspective, for they believe that 'all capitalists are cowards who will flee when workers win their ballot box victory and simultaneously take over the industries.' But, that's not the only thing about the SLP that's crazy. My book is filled with analyses of their craziness.

   Non-proletarians certainly could exist if the proletariat ruled, even as a class. Just read the Communist Manifesto to find that M+E expected work to continue under capitalism, at least for a while, even after the workers' victory. Even if bosses rule in present democracies, nothing prevents workers from organizing their own party and competing for supremacy in the state, but, where is our workers' party? We are, in general, such content cats in the lap of bourgeois democracy that the thought of an independent workers' party barely crosses anyone's mind. But, nothing prevents a workers' party from existing. If we were to go even further and have a workers' state, nothing could prevent the existence of owners, who would still exist as individuals, and would organize to the best of their ability to get back on top. But, a workers' party will never be elected on a program of communism, or even Social-Democracy.

   Marx thought that the rule of the workers would be so broadly democratic that no elite would arise from within their ranks and become a new elite in the state. Of course, that was in the context of simultaneous revolutions in the most advanced countries breeding a worldwide proletarian dictatorship, a scenario that didn't happen. Instead, we got socialist revolutions happening in backward countries one at a time, which is as opposite as you can get. Getting back, though, to his scenario, Marx thought that class distinctions would gradually diminish under proletarian rule, and that, within a few decades or generations, class distinctions would fade away, and proletarian rule would diminish along with class distinctions. With the disappearance of class distinctions, states were to disappear also, for Marx believed that states were organs of class oppression, and that, without class distinctions, there would be no need for states.

   What really needs to be changed in this country is the thinking of the radical element. Instead of radicals trying to develop a program to change property relations in a manner that could appeal to all of the various sects of the left, radicals should instead tune into the internal contradictions of socialism, learn to appreciate how unlikely socialism is, and the rest will fall into place.

   My impression is that the left in the USA learned little to nothing from the events of 1989 and subsequent, when Russia and the Eastern block collapsed and allowed the rise of gangster capitalism. I've done my darnedest to try to get the left to think about its long-term goals, but to no avail. The left is as certain of the inevitability of socialism as though the events of 1989 never happened at all, and nothing I've said or written sways them from their convictions. But, do I let my lack of success deter me? Not on your life. I just keep on going like the Energizer bunny, because, having done the research, I understand that socialism [in the sense of expropriation] is a hopeless cause. But, the only reason I understand that socialism is hopeless is that I did the research. How many others get a chance to do research like I did? The nice part about doing serious research is that I had to think through a lot of issues, and answers didn't come easily. Some issues took me years to feel confident about because so much of what I needed to know wasn't spelled out in black and white, and instead had to be derived from threads of arguments. Some of what I came up with felt pretty good at first, but then little contradictions came up that forced me to revamp my theories, and that happened again and again. But, coming up with the fact that socialism is based upon nothing but raw force kept me striving to complete the gaps in the big picture.

   We have little choice but to continue with private property. It matters little to workers if property is owned by capitalists, or if it is public, for all that workers get is wages either way. What should matter to workers is whether their mutual competition for scarce jobs causes wages to decline to such low levels that they can't feed, house and clothe themselves decently. What does matter to them is sports and other trivial pursuits, for, as mentioned before, they are content cats in the lap of bourgeois democracy. After all, everyone in America is doing great, except for the people on the bottom, but average people think they can afford to ignore the people on the bottom, because the government supposedly looks out for them.

   It used to be that people in one area could do very little to nothing to allay the suffering of people in other areas, but those days are disappearing, and the more time progresses, the more we can do, and the more we actually do, except for the benefit of the people at the bottom of the domestic social ladder, for it is competition among poor workers for scarce long-hour opportunities to make the rich richer that makes the economy tick so well, so few dare to rock the boat. Poverty and riches have existed side by side for a long time, and most people can afford to think that it's inevitable for that arrangement to continue forever. That belief needs to be changed.

   I would never claim that radicals should give up the struggle to socialize ownership of property 'because the struggle looks so tough.' Radicals should give up the struggle to socialize property ownership because the cause is impossible, and not worth the effort, like trying to drink the ocean dry. Someday, you should show me the succession of steps that lead from property ownership socialization to paradise. So, let's do this. Start with socialization of ownership as step one, and end up with Eden, and fill in the steps, if any, in between. Socialization of ownership must lead to something, but what is that first something? Is it Eden already? If not, then socialization of ownership must lead to a second something, but what is that second something? And so on and on, until we reach Eden. You fill in the steps. Start with socialization of property. Here are the steps:

1. Socialization of property ownership.
2. ?
3. ?
4. ?
....... ????? How many steps?
n. Eden.

   Who says that the struggle to end child labor is so tough that we should give up on it? It may be tough, but I don't think it's that tough. Neither should we do away with the struggle to rescue the poor from their misery. So, I hope that you don't consider me to have deserted the humanist cause simply because I deserted the socialist cause, for I have yet to be convinced that socialism automatically leads to something logical and sustainable for the long term.

   I firmly agree that "We can't have an egalitarian society till we have something to split up and share." But, what is that something? You may think that property and wealth must be split up and shared, but I believe that it is far better for us to share what little work that has yet to be taken over by machines, computers and technology. They had socialism in the old USSR, but it hardly led to ecstasy. If we someday acquire the brains to share work equitably, property would then begin to lose its value, but not before then. As well, class distinctions and the government would also decline. But, property, the state and classes will not decline in importance until society figures out what keeps those 3 institutions on pedestals, viz., unnecessarily hard work.

   My vision includes the end of capitalism. Socialists think that the way to get there is by changing property relations. I say, on the other hand, do away with competition between workers for scarce jobs, just like what Engels wrote in 1845, as the very best way to level incomes all across the board. The poor will finally be able to afford to live, and the rich will feel a pinch. Because of their increasing intelligence, machines are bound to do more and more for us, the length of the work-week will have to diminish in order to prevent us from using up resources at too great a rate, and the work-week will someday reach zero hours, at which point there will no longer be a work-week. It's not so much a matter of exercising our will as it is a matter of 'doing what's necessary'. If bosses profit from our labor, then how will bosses profit if no one has to go to work anymore? We should militantly insist on demand #1 of a SLP platform program plank (before they were taken over by anarchists in 1889):

"SOCIAL DEMANDS.

   "1. Reduction of the hours of labor in proportion to the progress of production.

   Why did the pre-anarchist SLP make that their number one demand? The other 14 social demands were:

   "2. The United States shall obtain possession of the railroads, canals, telegraphs, telephones, and all other means of public transportation and communication.

   "3. The municipalities to obtain possession of the local railroads, ferries, water works, gas works, electric plants, and all industries requiring municipal franchises.

   "4. The public lands to be declared inalienable. Revocation of all land grants to corporations or individuals, the conditions of which have not been complied with.

   "5. Legal incorporation by the States of local Trade Unions which have no national organization.

   "6. Furthering of workmen's co-operative productive associations by public credit; such associations to be preferred in the placing of contracts for public works.

   "7. The United States to have the exclusive right to issue money.

   "8. Congressional legislation providing for the scientific management of forests and waterways, and prohibiting the waste of the natural resources of the country.

   "9. Inventions to be free to all; the inventors to be remunerated by the nation.

   "10. Progressive income tax and tax on inheritances; the smaller incomes to be exempt.

   "11. School education of all children under 14 years of age to be compulsory, gratuitous, and accessible to all by public assistance in meals, clothing, books, etc., where necessary.

   "12. Repeal of all pauper, tramp, conspiracy, and sumptuary {extravagant spending} laws. Unabridged right of combination. {i.e., to form unions}

   "13. Official statistics concerning the condition of labor. Prohibition of the employment of children of school age and of the employment of female labor in occupations detrimental to health or morality. Abolition of the convict labor contract system.

   "14. All wages to be paid in lawful money of the United States. Equalization of women's wages with those of men where equal service is performed.

   "15. Laws for the protection of life and limb in all occupations, and an efficient employers' liability law."

   Is this the kind of party that you'd like to belong to? Engels wrote to his American friend Sorge in 1887:

   "The Socialist Labor Party may be what it likes, and claim for itself the results of its predecessors' work as much as it likes, but it is the sole workers' organization in America wholly standing on our platform."

   That was quite a recommendation, in spite of Engels' ongoing critique of the SLP. Not long after the anarchists took over in 1889, however, out the window went the above olde programme, and the new revolutionary program was installed. Revolution in a democracy? Some people have rocks in their head (like I once did. But, I very strongly wanted change at the time, and I also didn't want to have much to do with anything that was mainstream. I had to have olde British motorcycles, wooden boats (non-plastic, or else very fast, high-tech sailboats with airfoils and hydrofoils), and I had to have a revolutionary philosophy.)

   Some of your comments indicate a conviction that we'll have socialism in the USA someday, as if (like Marx believed) socialism is inevitable, but remember that real changes in property relations never took place without socialists having full state power. The reason I claim that socialism is based upon force instead of freedom is that: Truly socializing ownership of means of production was feasible after overthrowing feudal monarchies in backward countries (like Russia), or after liberating colonies (as in Africa), but was never feasible after winning elections in the Social-Democracies of Europe, because winning elections never transferred enough power into socialists' hands to enable them to do what they wanted with private property. America and Europe will reject the kind of socialism associated with communist and previously communist countries because it is based upon dispossessing the rich, i.e., taking away property, and making the rich suffer. In a democracy, we believe in peaceful change and minimal meddling by government, and don't want policies that require massive amounts of force to accomplish or maintain. If we someday get the brains to make labor scarce enough to put everyone to work, the advantages of owning property will gradually diminish. By the time work gets completely phased out, private ownership of means of production will have no appeal. The change in consciousness required for this will be drastic. People will have to come to believe that their own welfare is bound up with the welfare of everyone else on the planet. For as long as we are unwilling to think this way, property will continue to be the means by which the rich remain rich and become richer.

   It looks like you don't think the machines are going to take over by 2086, but I was quoting an article in Electronic Engineering Times, a trade journal I used to get while working for KPFA, which, like other predictions, does not necessarily mean that it's going to happen. The news astounded me as well, but my astonishment diminished when I considered some statistics I both dug up and heard of.

   Do you remember the Univac of the '50's? That room full of tubes couldn't do what my little MacIntosh Classic II is doing for me right now. And this is after only about 40 years of evolution. 2086 is 94 years after the date on my computer. Don't you think that computers will be even a little bit smarter and smaller? Or, won't Moore's Law (computing capacity doubles every two years) apply after you read this letter? One magazine expects neural networks to be as smart as a fly within 10 years, and as smart as a cat within 15. How much longer before they'll be as smart as a dog, then as smart as a monkey, then as smart as people? Once they are as smart as people, then wiring up houses and fixing cars is just around the corner. So, just precisely what are people supposed to do for 40 hours per week when we get to 2086? Sell insurance? There may no longer even be a need for that someday.

   Two hundred years ago, it took 80% of Americans to work the land in order to feed 100% of the people. There was little choice as to what to do in life because food surpluses barely existed, unlike today. It also meant that people retained the vast bulk of what they produced. Nowadays, however, fewer than 2% of workers farm, and that figure continues to approach zero. Five hundred farms per week go out of business. Also, 98% of what's produced goes to the top 20% of the population, while the bottom 80% receive only 2% in exchange for their efforts. That 2% represents wages and necessities of life. It also means that we have to be tremendously productive in order to be able to turn the vast bulk of what we produce over to the upper classes and the government. One estimate is that we are 40 times more productive than we were 200 years ago, which also means that we could scrape by with each worker working just one hour per week. America can afford to work less. We are just kidding ourselves about having to work so hard. When we finally get a grip on the length of the work-year and eliminate competition for scarce jobs with all of its associated misery, then people will enjoy going to work, for it will then be meaningful, safe and pleasant.

   Refer now to the hand drawing of surplus values on the last page. Isn't it enough to make you mad about how unnecessarily hard we work to make others rich, and how that trend only worsens with time? That's because workers only need necessities of life to live off of, and that's what wages represent, no matter how much more we produce as the result of our increasing productivity. I've known for the past 30 years that something is wrong with the world. Only in the past few years have I been able to say with certainty what that something is. There is nothing wrong with our property relations. Private ownership is little more than an effect of a cause, which is 'working unnecessarily hard', thereby creating more wealth than what can be comfortably distributed to everyone, forcing excess wealth to concentrate into few hands. Private property is but a device supported by people because it solves the problems of wealth distribution more equitably than a state bureaucracy ever could, protests by Marx and Engels to the contrary notwithstanding the scrutiny of historical hindsight.

   I was a member of the Labor Party for a couple of years, and was an elected delegate to their founding convention in Cleveland in '96. A lot of labor union leaders are New Deal socialists, which is a lot of what's wrong with unions. I could barely get a word in edgewise because theirs is a Social-Democratic agenda, and their attitude is, 'If you don't like it, then join some other party.' This also is the attitude of the SLP, and of just about every other progressive organization I've been censored by. They know what they want, but none are willing to open up the discussion so that reason can prevail. They are defensive and afraid. They puff themselves up with the confidence that they know what's right for America, and anyone who contradicts them has to be wrong. It's like talking to a wall.

   When I was speaking about morals, I was speaking about simple issues of right and wrong, such as, 'it's wrong to pollute, and it's wrong to build land mines.' So, assuming that you also think that it's wrong to do those things, I was talking about what could be considered a universal morality, universal for everyone except for the few who make money or profits from polluting, making land mines, and clear-cutting the last of the old-growth redwoods in Northern California for the sake of making good on some junk bonds. I think that the workers who partake in such immoral activities are just as guilty of the crimes, for they enjoy getting paid for the part they play in raping the earth, even if they, as well as their bosses, may sometimes have second thoughts about the destruction. The horror wouldn't happen without workers making it happen. The low wages that result from competition for scarce jobs provide incentives to expand the economy and put people to work doing all kinds of things to fill time, including all kinds of destructive jobs.

   If workers were not competing with one other for scarce long-hour opportunities to make the rich richer than their dreams, said workers would be able to easily boycott destructive occupations without suffering any consequences. But, the way it is now, and because workers do compete over scarce long-hour opportunities to clear-cut the last of the old-growth redwoods, untold damage to the environment occurs in Northern California, as well as in innumerable other places all over the world. In my home town, fishermen and women are desperate to go back to exploiting depleted fishing grounds. What would happen if we instead organized to end competition among ourselves? We could boycott questionable lines of employment and give fishing grounds time to replenish their stocks. We should heed Engels' words from 1844. Why don't we? That's your quiz.

   I just had an idea for the name of the party that I want to belong to. It's called 'The Thinker's Party', because only by thinking things through will we be able to make any progress out of the stew we are in. Already I can hear people calling us 'stinkers' instead of thinkers, but, what the hey? A 'stinker' is only slightly worse than a 'republocrat'. Wanna join? For only $99.99, you can become a charter member. I'll be Chairman Ken, and you can be Editor of our newsletter, entitled 'The Thinker'. So ............ where's our first issue?

   What I meant by 'better people' was that the socialists I hung out with usually portrayed workers as innocent victims of cruel and exploitative capitalist pigs. In other words, 'capitalists are bad, and workers are good' in the prevailing ideology of the SLP and many other socialists I have known. Haven't you ever run into that ideology on the left? If X is good, and Y is bad, then it isn't very hard to conclude that X is better than Y, which also means that 'workers are better than capitalist pigs'. I think the SLP says what it does because it wants to attract workers into the Party. But, middle class people join up instead.

   I'm afraid that you would not make a good SLP member, for you are so good at picking out the inner contradictions of their ideology that your intelligence automatically disqualifies you. You know as well as I that a dictatorship of the proletariat over the middle classes and peasantry is an impossible proposition. SLP members knew that a proletarian dictatorship over peasants and middle classes did not make any sense for America and for that reason rejected it, but only the uppermost leaders attached to their National Office (where I worked) understood that the dictatorship over the middle classes and peasantry was based upon fraud. So, why did the leaders 'invent' something they opposed?

   Well, here's where it gets a little trickier. As anarchists, they were as opposed to the dictatorship of the proletariat as any anarchist party could be, and didn't want workers to have anything to do with it. Anyone dealing with the left will probably get introduced to the concept of proletarian dictatorship at some point. So, how does an anarchist party prevent potential recruits to the anarchist cause from getting infatuated with what Marx wanted to see in our future, and was an idea that was supported as well by Lenin, Mao and Stalin, etc.? One way to vaccinate potential recruits against the 'dreaded' proletarian dictatorship is to redefine it into something that is so ridiculous and nonsensical that recruits will reject proletarian dictatorship for the USA out of hand.

   There's a big difference between anarchists like the SLP and communists like Marx, Engels, Mao, Stalin, Lenin, Ho Chi Minh, Castro, etc. Communists want to create workers' states and proletarian dictatorships, but anarchists are against workers' states, proletarian dictatorships, and the use of government and politics by workers, because parties, governments and politics are to be abolished upon the victory of the workers in the anarchist scenario. I know as well as you that the anarchist scenario is absurd, but they are very utopian people who won't listen to reason, and won't learn any lessons from history, except for those few oddities of history that can be twisted around and distorted to support anarchist ideology.

   All communists know that the class to be dictated to is the uppermost class of people, and many communists also know that the epoch of proletarian dictatorship was supposed to be a transitional phase that would give way to classless, stateless society as the scenario of simultaneous revolutions in the most advanced countries got played out. That was Marx's theory, but, the SLP redefined it as a dictatorship over the peasantry and middle classes. After falsifying Marx's theory by basing their revision on quotes out of context, the SLP reasoned that, 'if American workers have no peasantry or middle classes here to dictate to, then we don't need a proletarian dictatorship over practically non-existent middle classes. Therefore, no transitional phase of proletarian dictatorship between capitalism and classless, stateless society is needed in America, and workers here will be able to proceed directly from capitalism to the upper stage of socialism.'

   You may remember that Marx's 'Critique of the Gotha Programme' mentioned two stages of socialism (within the context of European and world-wide simultaneous revolutions). The first stage is the world-wide workers' state known as the dictatorship of the proletariat, and the second and final stage of socialism is known as classless, stateless society. Lenin called the first stage socialism, and the second stage communism, terminology that is still pretty popular on the left, except with anarchists like the SLP. Their SIU program supposedly is a way for American workers to get to classless, stateless society without having to go through a proletarian dictatorship, but, in order to persuade Americans that no proletarian dictatorship is needed here, the SLP had to redefine it into something so ridiculous that it wouldn't take a hammer to convince us that we don't need it here.

   One of the other factors that makes the SLP theory ridiculous is that they totally refuse to acknowledge the worker-peasant alliance, a very big theory in the writings of Marx, Lenin, Stalin, Mao, Ho Chi Minh, and every other communist of note. What else could the hammer and sickle on the old Russian flag have symbolized, except for that worker-peasant alliance? Another absurd allegation made by the SLP, among many others: that Engels didn't know the difference between state capitalism and socialism. He certainly did know.

   No wonder the SLP membership is so small, for few are the people who can tolerate such idiocy, easily proven to be such if given the opportunity, and a lot of the idiocy was based upon quotes that I easily proved were taken out of context from the writings of the founders of socialism. And yet, the subject was beyond discussion because of the disruption in cash flow from the bottom to the top if the discussion had at all been allowed within the SLP. The intellectuals I worked with, and had long admired for their competence in so many other fields of endeavor, would not allow that discussion to take place because it would have thrown the whole Party program into doubt, and would have made everyone wonder just who had been part of the plot to perpetrate such idiocy upon the Party and workers. Members who had loyally supported the Party for many years might have had second thoughts about supporting the Party through a change in ideology, for, many anarchists do not like to think deeply about ideology, so it would have been a lot easier for many old reliable supporters to take their money and support elsewhere. Without the support of the members, heads might have rolled at the National Office, so the heads decided not to let it be theirs that rolled, and so the scam continues, and the SLP continues to sink into oblivion.

   Isn't it sad when people let pure monetary considerations override simple issues of right and wrong? I think that it is wrong for my old Party to allow their phony ideology and scams to continue to infect susceptible minds. At the end of the time I was with them, I made it very clear that they were merely perpetuating lies, but they felt as though they had jobs to defend. Soft jobs, at that. Having to compete in the real world may not have been their cup of tea. They could afford to watch me burn myself out while I tried to get them to sincerely think about the crimes against consciousness that they helped to perpetuate. They won because I was too weak to fight it out to the end.

   I'm glad that you are asking questions about this issue, and that you speak up when you do not understand right away, because it helps me to make my arguments more understandable to people who are not familiar with these issues. If sincere people cannot understand my arguments, then I am failing in my mission. Because I have a long working familiarity with these particular issues, it's easy for me to omit stating fundamental elements that would help people to understand more easily. So, this is a good exercise for me.

   For a realistic look at class oppression, Lenin on the actual experience of the Soviets post-1917 is instructive. Soviet rule was no more of a picnic for the rich people of Russia than it was for the Romanov dynasty, and yet, decades later, bourgeois ideology came out on top, proving that their ideology can't be stamped out in one country when it prevails in so much of the rest of the world. It really would have taken that world-wide proletarian dictatorship that M+E wanted in order to stamp out bourgeois ideology, but, any 'solution' that requires so much force to implement and maintain had to have been ill-conceived.

   I've been voting mostly Democrat, simply because it's the lesser of two evils much of the time. At other times I vote for small parties. I sometimes even vote Libertarian, even though I have a hard time with their no-government ideology, for I believe that one of the best places for government meddling is in regulating hours of labor, but Libertarians hardly agree with that. The discussion has yet to really begin, however. I have a lot of respect for a lot of their other philosophy, such as legalization of drugs and consenting activity, etc. I don't think I'll ever vote for a Republican, especially Bush.

   P.S.: I can't imagine anyone with a progressive bent of mind not wanting people to share what little work that remains for them to do, can you? Please say that you do (or you don't, so that I can tell how badly I am failing to maintain my end of the conversation.) - K.E.

   P.P.S.: Also, I would like an answer to a question I asked in my letter dated Aug. 3, 1999, viz.: 'If it took a Civil war to abolish private ownership of people, then what kind of war will it take to abolish private ownership of other means of production?' Please recall that I diligently try to answer your questions. Your answer to this question is very important to me. If you object to the above question being phrased in this particular fashion, then please tell me why it's objectionable. Please do your best. - K.E.

 

October 15, 1999
Dear Olive,

   My latest 8 page manifesto about 'replacing the failed socialist dream' went over like a lead balloon. The only people who expressed any interest were the vanity presses, who were universally encouraging in their praise, but couldn't use it because of their solitary interest in books. That inspired me to begin rewriting my book about 'Left-Wing Lies' that I finished in '95. I've written quite a few articles and letters since '95, and can more easily see some weaknesses in the book. It really needs a good house-cleaning, and I've only just begun. A good rewriting should take at least a year.

   The biggest problems I see for society in the near future are with global warming, pollution, overcrowding and resource depletion, though not necessarily in that order. It won't make much of a difference to the rest of the universe if we muck up the earth enough to make it uninhabitable, but it sure will matter to earthlings of the future who will have to deal with the blunders of their ancestors. The rich and savvy surely know how to act dumb and innocent about it. ... read a book entitled "The End of Nature", which means that there isn't a spot left on Earth where man hasn't had some kind of influence, or made some kind of impact, always negative.

 

End of 1994-9 Correspondence

 

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