Why Socialism Is Not a Good Word To Describe the New Economy Emerging
One of the biggest struggles in today’s political landscape is that when we use words such as “socialism” or “capitalism,” they often come with all sorts of baggage and thus don’t communicate what we want to share.
I believe a lot of our challenge now is we are in space between Stories, as writer Charles Eisenstein has described it, where we are moving from a Story of a Separate Self to a Story of Interbeing.
Without diving too deeply into that topic, recently I have been reducing this idea into shorthand by saying we are moving from ‘me’ to ‘WE.’
Point is, it’s a real challenge to put such new ideas into words because words can, if they are used enough, become rigid in our minds and thus not work very well to describe something new on the horizon.
Thus, I think using the term “socialism” to describe what we are headed for is a mistake, as it causes just as much confusion and fear as it does enlightenment and hope.
Notice the Changes In The World To See The New Economy Rising
Thus, what we are making might be easier to grok without language. (Yet here I am using language to help you grok it! The irony!)
Perhaps look around you and perceive how things are shifting.
From my perch as a father and teacher in central Japan, I see it in my students and kids. Compared to my childhood in the 1980s, they are much more into sharing their things with each other or flat out giving them away, because they seem to intuitively recognize that we are all much richer when we share our resources.
In addition, they are using social media (and this includes playing video games, you worried parents!) to make connections with like-minded friends all over the world.
My son is 14 and became friends with a 19-year-old via their shared love of the game “Fortnite” and, after being friends for several months, my son had shared with him that he really wanted an iPhone.
So this friend had just upgraded and he sent his old iPhone to my son in the mail!
Meanwhile, my son frequently shares his video games, game controllers, etc., and this has sometimes caused confusion for our house because he’ll have new equipment that we didn’t buy for him.
Now, this is by no means socialism in the sense of a system where the means of production, distribution, and exchange are owned or regulated by the community as a whole.
It’s more organic than that. It’s done without the need for any rules on regulations, but rather based on social interactions where people recognize things their friends might need and their friends do the same and then they share with each other.
Why Does Every Family Need a Lawnmower?
I’ve often thought about it this way.
A suburban street in the US where “nuclear” families live individual, separate lives from their neighbors requires each family to have its own lawnmower.
Yet how often is that lawnmower being used?
What if, a group of let’s just say 5 families decided to pool their money and buy one lawnmower? (I’m keeping the number of people low for convenience.)
All of the sudden, a family spends 20 percent of what they did before on lawnmowers, thus freeing up money for other things.
Now, one could argue that if people did this, there’d be conflicts with other neighbors about who gets to use the lawnmower when. After all, if people are working similar schedules, or if the weather is only nice one day per week, perhaps not everyone could mow their lawns.
Ah, but within this is an interesting opening to creating community, something our modern societies are lacking. Because maybe you have a monthly meeting with this group of neighbors you are pooling resources together with. And at that meeting not only do you hash out such issues but you also share a good meal, a spirited game of lawn darts and some good laughs!
Also, in such a system, would one need to be working all these hours we do now? Probably not as all of the things one spends money on is reduced.
Re-Focus Our Government To Help Restore Our Communities
Now, I get it. Again, this is not socialism. It’s not top down. But you do recognize the government has been in collusion with industry to enforce, or at least suggest, these individual lifestyles to us?
We get the message of “be an individual consumer, help grow the economy” from advertising, our TV shows and movies, our politicians and our media, and then this lifestyle is enforced through governmental rules and regulations.
And from the perspective of those of us who have lived outside the U.S., we see that America has taken this way of life to a point where it really is creating so many of the social ills of your country.
To me, this is what the rising tide of “socialism” is trying to counter. It’s like a pendulum that has swung to its limit and its time for it to swing back. And it’s attempting to re-structure various aspects of society to do that. To suggest this can be done without some big changes to how the government works seems naive to me.
That all said, I am a person who values liberty and has suspicions about any top-down approaches, especially from something so large as a centralized government located far from our lives. In that way, I actually do share some of the concerns of my friends who call themselves libertarians.
I just think a lot of their fears about socialism — that Bernie Sanders is like a Khrsuhchev who is planning to install a Soviet-style system of authoritarianism and destroy private property, for example — are based too much on what that word meant in the past, because many are mistakenly using it to describe what we are trying to create in the present.
I’ve listened to Bernie Sanders many times over the years and while he does talk about the need for creating some sort of health care system to ensure everyone is insured, and a massive Green New Deal, have you ever heard him talking about destroying the right to own property? Or to create some sort of dictatorship by the Left?
No, I really doubt you have. Instead, you can find clips of him like this one, where we see him as mayor of Burlington, Vermont in the 1980s doing a public access TV show where he is going around town, meeting people and addressing their questions and needs.
But if I’m wrong, if there are clips of him talking about some sort of top-down dictatorship of the Left, post them in the comments, would ya?
Thanks for reading! I’m in the process of getting my independent media career up and running, so this will be updated as I go, but for now you can support me simply by sharing my stuff, by linking to me on Twitter, by checking out my old blog which has lots of good stuff, including a series on climate change (part 1, part 2 and part 3), or by checking out my new podcast, The B&P Realm Podcast. (This podcast is still in the process of being put up on all podcast sites. By February 1st it will be good to go! Each episode of the podcast contains a reading of my 2015 novel, “The Teacher and the Tree Man.” You can also find that book in full here, or you can find it broken down into four shorter books (book 1, book 2, book 3 and book 4). And if all that doesn’t get enough BW into your life, well, all I can say is stick around! Plenty more coming in 2020 and beyond!