- Capitalism and Alternatives -
Freedom, OR Stollerism = Anti-Fascism
Posted by: Nikhil Jaikumar ( DSA, MA, USA ) on December 18, 1999 at 02:00:19:
Much as I disagree with Mr. Stoller on some issues,i have to say that he's been taking a lot of undersved flak on this BBS. What Barry is in fact defending is radical equality, sans bureacracy, sans specialization; a society in which humans, as free and equal beings, are placed on a strictly equal footing and no one is allowed to raise his real or perceived status even the slightest bit higher than anyone else. You may agree or disagree with this equalitarian ideal, and with his plan for job rotation. (Although it strikes me more as a 'gola' than a realistic 'plan'. But to associate it with 'fascism', as David and some others have done, is totally illogical as well as offensive. It's the very OPPOSITE of fascism. Fascism, to begin with, is predicated on hierarchy, militarism, elitism and a strong state. Barry's egalitarian, anti-specialization, anti-elitist, anti-bureacucratic Communism is the polar opposite of fascism. To my mind, even the criticisms of Barry's utopia are teh very opposite of the criticisms leveled against fascism. People (myself included) have said that Barry's utopia might fall into majoritarianism, might limit efficiency by under-specialization, devalues the individualist, and might give short shrift to freedom as contrasted to moral duty. In other words, (said I) Barry's utopia would constrain people to do what is right (in terms of minimizing the harm to society and other people) instead of what they freely choose.
What does this have to do with Fascism? The problem with fsscism,a nd otehr ultra-right-wing ideologies, is the opposite; that it does away with moral duty and makes freedom (of the strong over the weak) into the supreme value. My English teacher senior year in high school once said, quoting one of HIS teachers, that "The Freedom of the Enlightenment led invariably to the Holocaust" or something like that. Orlando Patterson, a famous Jamaican intellectual, has also pointed out that Nazi Germany epitomized freedom (for white, upper-class, militaristic minded Germans). Fascism allows the strong to do whatever they want, be it enslave, torture or kill the weak. Stollerism, on the other hand, prevents teh strong from doing anythoing which might in any way increase teh suffering or perceived suffering of anyone worse of f than them. So let's be clear on what we're criticizing. We all know that Stollerism is teh opposite of fascism. When we criticize Stoller's Utopia, we do so not because it's fascist, but because it's too demanding. It's like the Church criticizing masturbation; have you ever heard someone counter teh Church by saying jacking off is a GOOD thing? Of course not. People object to the Catholic stance because, although they know the Church ahs a strong moral argument, they don't think that human beings are capable of reaching that high standard. Personally, i ahve soem problems with Stollerism, but they're nothing compare dto mny problems with fascism or other right wing philosophies.
On the fundamental metaphysical issues, such as teh nature of 'rights', I disagree with Stoller. My view on rights is that of the UN Declaration of Human Rights, which the United States proceeded to sign and then violate in every possinle way. In other words, my view of rights is a Third Worldist one, stressing social, economic, political and personal rights all equally. Now, this doesn't eman that I oppse Stoller on everything. In fact, although Barry may think otherwise, our opinions on job rotation differ, I think, more in degree than in kind.
We both agree that the most unpleasant jobs in society should be rotated. We both agree that everyone should be liable to some amount of socialized voluntary labor. Cleaning toilets, building houses, repairing roads, helping to teach kids, staffing dispensaries, things like taht should be EVREYONE'S responsibility. We also agree that people should have time (Barry calls it 'free time') in which tehy can pursue their own interests. My difference with barry is taht I think taht unless epopel are allowed to choose, up to a point, hwo much time to devote to tehir interest, many peopel will be very unhappy and unable to fulfil their aspirations and dreams, also jobs which require individualized labor, long hours, specialization and which don't mesh well with collectivization (science is the classic example) will not get done. So barry might establish a corvee of 30 hours a week, I would establish one of 8 hours a week. But as we can see, this is not a disagreement of PRINCIPLE.
I also agree that compensation for jobs should be largely equa;lized, that most private productive property should be owned democratically, and that people should be esteemed according to what they do for society, not according to how much they possess. I think, in other words, that Barry has been getting somewhat less than a fair dela from people on this forum, myself included.