|Green Island Letters|
Dave Patterson June 2017
The Revolution 2017
- a letter to In Defence of October, concerning what modern Marxists seem to be getting up to, at least from what I read on this website, and its 'parent', In Defence of Marxism - lots of good stuff, but, as far as I can see, living too much in the past
Greetings from Thailand, originally Canada, spirit home Green Island (more later)
- just a shortish note now, I think I'm a socialist, at least according to my definition, I think I could be a strong voice for the 'new international', esp in Canada my home country I was once so proud of but has fallen on seriously hard times the last 30-odd years 'governmentally speaking', but nobody wants to talk to me, or help me get 'the voice' I need. I understand the rulers and their pseudos not wanting to acknowledge my presence or voice, but I'm a bit surprised that places like the WSWS or Canadian Dimension or SocialistProjectCanada don't want me around. So I won't write long here, you may also not want someone from the unwashed, untamed (i.e. not on accepted message) masses daring claim a voice among your academic discussions, but I just came across your website, which is very good, and I've been reading for a few days, and your stuff has filled in some useful holes for me, and maybe I have something to offer in return. I agree with pretty much all of the basic principles here, have pretty much come to many of the same ideas myself over the last 30 or so years of trying to figure out what is going on in my world - but then I have some ideas I think important I don't see expressed here in your general focus on the theory of the past, and also some fairly important differences in how you see those conclusions applying to the modern world, which may be why the others don't want to talk to me, and maybe you too. But I kind of think it may be 'my time', and somebody is going to help make that happen, so I write to kind of 'reach out' to see if there's some chance we might work together.
Let me first briefly mention my 'creds', as I will be referring to the first of them throughout here - I have been writing on what I thought was wrong with my country (Canada) for a long time now, I guess my first published essay was way back in the 1980s when I challenged the suddenly appearing 'national debt crisis' in a magazine called Policy Options, which was truly pretty 'left' oriented at the time, although like almost everything that used to be sort of 'lefty' it has now been taken over by the pretend-lefties, aka maybe, 'progressives', those I guess you call 'reformers' rather than 'revolutionaries' (I am very much a 'revolutionary', insofar as I understand your explanation and history of these things, which I found quite interesting). Anyway - the book is the Democratic Revolution Handbook, fully online (I'm probably going to expand and 'refocus' that somewhat in the coming months, along the lines of 'Arise the True Left Strong and Free' or something). If you're among the apparently widespread 'holders of the wisdom' who pontificate to all and have (they believe) nothing to learn from the peasant masses trying to join the conversation, you probably won't be interested in the book or what I have to say here, but if you're humble enough to confess you may not know everything, there's a lot of interest in this book, I've taken all I've learned in the last 30-odd years and gone into some places it appears others have not yet gone - places 'we' need to go if we are going to be more successful in combating the capitalist-fascist-new feudalists more successfully than we/you have been during the last 30 years of their very concerted drive to bury any and all ideas of true democracy for a very long time into the future.
I've also written, I guess, scores of essays and shorter essay-type letters over the years, but my other main work so far is Green Island, a story about a better society, I think would qualify as your kind of 'socialist', full and true democracy of, by and for 'we the (informed, engaged) people' - I conceived it many years ago in one way as a response to Atlas Shrugged, Ayn Rand's completely fictitious and highly mendacious homage to capitalism which portrays the capitalist as the strong and altruistic proponents of Heaven on Earth, and socialists as mooching scum stopping them from achieving their wonderful-for-all dream - Green Island pretty much reverses that approach, with a very much closer-to-reality approach showing we socialist-democrats as very much the altruistic good guys trying to create a decent society for us all, and the capitalists very much more honestly as the parasitical lying scum creating misery for all wherever they seize power in the pursuit of their selfish ends. Not surprisingly, no capitalist-dominated publisher or literary agent in Canada depending on capitalist-government largesse was interested, although, again, I was and am somewhat surprised at the refusal of so-called 'socialists' to get a bit more interested and help promote it. Both of these books, and others, are available as 'epubs' 'free' (pay what you will) at my 'Smashwords' epub page (some of my main essays are linked on the left side of the DRH page).
What I mainly thought after spending some time on your website (and my wider reading of many other places) was that you are, theoretically and to some extent practically, stuck in the past. Our 'founders' - Marx-Engels and Trotsky-Lenin, among many others of course - did a lot of really good and ground-breaking stuff, and they need to be studied and we need to know about them - but then we need to understand that Marx was doing his main stuff 150 years ago, and Lenin's revolution was 100 years ago - very great things all, but we have moved on in our world a long, long ways since then, and although some of the problems that Marx and Lenin addressed and fought are similar, and some of their ideas concerning how to go about creating a revolution can usefully inform our current discussions, we also have new things to deal with, and I don't really see a lot of talk about our new situation here in the 21st century, and what we need to do to address today's world and problems, in your writings. One of the big insights most of you don't seem to realise is that the capitalist wouldbe overlords have moved on a lot also from where they were 50-100-150 years ago, and learned a lot about controlling 'the masses', and the situation in the early 21st century is very much not the same as the situation in the early 20th century, and we cannot fight today's battles with yesterday's strategies and weapons - our foe, the wouldbe forever masters of the world, have surely learned a great deal in the last 100 years about controlling us or 'the masses' in general, and we are *not* going to defeat them with theories from 100-150 years ago. I don't actually see much in any of the modern writings about actual 'strategy', just 'we have to fight evil capitalists' - which is of course true, but then we need to be talking about **how** to fight this massive and terrible enemy, and I don't actually see a lot about that, beyond supporting this or that party in some places (a completely useless idea, of course, as all 'sanctioned' parties are controlled by the same capitalists, one way or another, possible exception Corbyn now, we'd have to wait and see what he does if he wins the election, but certainly all the parties that get any press coverage are controlled by Big Money, aka 'capital'-ists)
Let me tell you a couple of the main problems I see with what you are doing - serious problems, problems guaranteeing defeat, in my opinion, if we do not 'up our game' into the 21st century and start dealing openly and vigorously with them. Actually let me reword that - failure to understand these things isn't a matter of guaranteeing defeat, it's a matter of not even engaging the enemy on the real field of battle - they're sitting in the penthouses of the castle while we're throwing rocks at the ducks in dragon suits blowing bubbles we think is fire floating in the moat around our own barn. Or something. Seriously - we're not even engaging them where it counts, so have no chance at all of defeating them.
1. This is 'the biggie' - you don't seem to understand the true nature of 'money' in the modern world, and I haven't read all of Marx or the rest of them, but they didn't either, as far as I can gather. I don't say this in a disparaging way, the world was much different back then, and so was money. In the struggles of Marx-Lenin etc, money was important, but a secondary weapon after the simple violence that had ruled the world up until that time - today, however, money is the primary weapon, with violence the fallback or consolidating position if money cannot do the job. And I am not talking about the use of money, which is itself very important of course, but a much deeper idea - the very control of where the money comes from - the fount, the source, of all power in the world today. There are two important and related things here - first, you don't seem to understand where 'money' comes from (you're not alone, few people seem to), and this is like trying to fight an infection without understanding germs are involved - if you're only dealing with symptoms and not the source of a problem, you aren't ever going to beat it. Modern money is just created as credit out of thin air - the entire 'debt' crisis, and all the imposed 'austerity' of the last few years, are all thus a complete sham and fraud and massive theft, and all of the 'boom-bust' or 'business' cycles thus completely controllable, and all of the misery for 'the people' caused by these things completely unnecessary - but they are great weapons for those who understand and control the money-credit system - we great peasant masses, in our great ignorance, are being completely controlled by a few very bold people with plastic guns with no bullets. I won't get into details here, but this is all explained in my DRH book (and many previous essays, and there are many references to other sources who also understand this problem in the book). The second big thing you nor nobody else seems to understand, I think this is an 'original' insight of mine, is the true connection between capitalism and modern 'fiat' money - it's not just that the capitalists control most of the money because they create it themselves, it's that the birth of this evil mutant called 'capitalism' is inextricably tied with the birth of the modern 'fiat money' system, back in the 1700s - I won't get into the story here, again it's in my book, but again, you have to understand the source of whatever evil you are trying to fight if you are to have any chance of defeating it - these people, master strategists all very familiar with their Sun Tzu and Machiavelli etc, unlike we kept-ignorant proles, have very successfully done all they can to keep this very crucial, but very basic, information from 'the masses', a bit like the Wizard of Oz behind his curtain with the smoke machine terrifying all the ignorant masses. (the 'fiat money' system itself is not evil, it's just a very, very powerful tool - a tool which could be the basis of a very prosperous and peaceful socialist world, if 'we (the engaged, informed, democratic people)' understood and controlled it for good purposes, rather than the banker-capitalists controlling it for their own evil ends - again, more in the book)
2. Related - I've read in various places some variation of the idea that we do need money, at least for now, to buy stuff etc, so we need to work to get that money - I think this is a seriously important misunderstanding and portrayal of any number of things, including 'real work'. I have come to understand over the years that we all need to work, at some kind of thing we find fulfilling - not slave-labor drudge work to enrich the local capitalist and obtain the pennies to buy our daily bread and maintain our miserable existences, but societal-supporting work to give ourselves a sense of worthiness in our lives and community, of contributing to the overall well being of that community, of standing tall and proud in our community of equals when we go to the market and use our work-credits to trade for the goods we want that others have produced to obtain their work-credits - we all do 'good work' and we all share the bounties of the great modern society that work supports, with no capitalist class skimming the cream and leaving the dregs to we workers. The capitalist system creates any number of 'freeloaders' who resist the idea of drudge work, or simply cannot find any drudge work as technology makes jobs scarce, and thus live free off the 'welfare state', and thus many people have the idea that just generally speaking 'work' is something unpleasant that 'good people' do as part of the burden of life but to be avoided where possible - and if we do not understand this dynamic, and have as part of our education that we all work happily to support our great society, this kind of attitude will be like a festering wound that will contaminate everything. I'm not talking about people who can't work for some reason, or children, of course such people will be given full support completely ungrudgingly and be welcome in the community, but all healthy adults should spend some of their years working, for both spiritual fulfillment and to support the society that nurtures them. Our work will be far less in time and onerousness than the capitalists require, and be far more fulfilling for most of us - but we work for good stuff, not just for 'money', which is just a tool. It's all attitude - when I do the dishes after my meal, I don't resent 'drudge work', I am happy that I have dishes to do and food to cook and eat - for myself. If, of course, I was forced to wash dishes at MacDonald's for enough pennies to buy food and a cheap flat and enrich the MacDonald's shareholders, that would be another story. And so with society - whatever work we choose to do, we do it willingly and happily, thankful we have this great society around us.
3. capitalism - you mention this a lot, correctly, but as noted above, you need to focus on this, and with a great deal more specificity than I seem to see. The degree of brainwashing in our society today is very high, and most people kind of mindlessly believe Capitalism is the Great God making us all so wealthy and happy yay!! - the only way to get through this level of deep indoctrination is direct attack, well planned and carried out over a period of time - you/we need to be out there explaining clearly how EVERY problem we have today in our country and world is the direct result of capitalism - the environmental destruction, the killings and destruction in the mideast and other places, the austerity driving people into poverty and violence, the terrorism, the debt frauds the governments are using to impose 'austerity', the jobs question, the unaffordable education, every other problem you want to name - all springing directly or indirectly from the evil capitalist berserker. (yes, even the 'terrorism', most religious people are calm enough, the jihadists find very fertile ground for recruitment in the ranks of violence and poverty created by the capitalists)(and again, a lot more on this in 'the book', the Democratic Revolution Handbook)
4. Another very central problem is 'political identification' or understanding of what the major political divisions are in our modern world, which most people seem to have no idea about, a situation very intentionally created by the propaganda media and education systems of the last 40 years of those who rule us, who very much do NOT want people understanding what they are really up to. Most people have no idea what is meant by 'left' and 'right' anymore as they did back in the 1800s and first half of the 1900s - the popular idea (pushed by the media of course) is that the media and 'academia' and the 'social justice warriors' etc trying to shut down 'free speech' are 'lefty liberal', but that is obvious nonsense, and we hear places like Fox news dismissed as 'far right cranks' - which is equally untrue, if you listen to them a bit - they do have some cranks, as does the corporate press, but they also have a lot of pretty basic working class sorts of people who actually believe in democracy and free speech - honest, hard working people we actually should be working with, not dismissing as far right loons, not passively supporting the massive 'divide and conquer' strategy of the rulers. (unsurprisingly, I have a longer essay on this, written as I was starting to understand it all - It's not 'the left' trying to take over the world and shut down free speech and all that other bad stuff - it's 'the right'!)
What we need to be doing is some serious analysis of the modern political structure - right now (after decades of very intentional getting-everyone-dumbed-down-and-totally-in-some-lalaland by the rulers) it's like a big drunken sports game with people cheering on their 'lefty-lib-labour' or 'conservative-republican-etc' team mindlessly, with no real idea of underlying issues, just 'we the left' and 'we the right', with neither side actually having any clue what either left or right actually mean - we need to be out there explaining that it's all a sham, that in reality, most of the 'average people' thinking of themselves as either left or right are actually on the same team, just wanting a relatively peaceful and democratic and prosperous society, and it's the big bad ruling team filling their heads with stupid ideas, and the real enemy we need to be fighting together, the many vs the few, is the ruling elite and their media and coopted 'academics' and 'journalists' etc - I think there are a lot of people out there ready to come to this center point of truth, but they need someone to be leading them and exposing the lies of the rulers, explaining what is happening to them (as Marx and Engels and Lenin and Trotsky et all were doing 100-150 years ago), and right now they have noone - Fox news is demonising 'the left' and the corporate press is demonizing 'the right', and the 'big majority' of proles have no idea what is really going on, with all of the 'establishment' actually being 'the right' and nowhere near 'left' and Fox news actually having a solid foot in democratic 'leftland' - it's a complicated mess now, the kind of chaos the rulers like because it's easier to control the masses when there's a lot of confusion and violence around our society, and we're not going to have our revolution until all those people in the middle have a clear idea about what is going on here - and who's going to do that? I don't mean your 'academic conferences' on Marxism, I mean out in the streets, in the church basements, in the kitchens, of the average people we need to get to. With this and a lot of other stuff.
- we need not only more high-quality people 'on the streets' (i.e. in meeting halls), but we also need people on some of the modern internet shows that get good audiences, building an international voice - I think we'd have a good chance of getting accepted, for instance, on RT, if we had a good proposal, maybe the Real News, TELEsur, places like that
Related to all of these things is another problem I have identified that is new to our age, at least compared with 1917 and earlier, which is the very high degree of indoctrination the people we need to reach are controlled by through modern communication methods that were not available, of course, back in the days of Marx and Lenin etc. I'm not the first to identify this, of course, Chomsky and Hedges both have much to say on it, but I don't see much around your website or other 'socialist' places about this, and this is a very, very central problem which is going to be very, very hard to break through - it may well be impossible, actually, this indoctrination is very deep and very well done and maintained - but we have to try if we are ever going to break it. The proles aren't going to be interested in breaking free of chains until they actually understand they have chains all around them, which most of them don't seem to understand at all right now, actually defending them more often than not.
Well, there's a great deal else I could go on about, but I'll leave it here, having wasted quite enough time for both of us if your response is going to be the same as the other so-called 'socialists' I've tried reaching out to in the past few years. But if you're serious about a serious socialist revolution, you need to bring your efforts into the modern era, and if you are ready to do that, I have a great deal to offer 'our cause'.
One of our major problems of undertaking a socialist offence in a highly capitalist-dominated setting is, of course, money, which controls most things in the modern world, and of which the capitalists have, of course, an endless supply, and thus an endless supply of the things money buys such as media control and well-armed police-military forces to deal with wouldbe revolutionistas getting too high profiles, and we 'struggling masses' have very limited access to. If we had a bankroll comparable to the capitalists, I think our struggles would end quickly, as we demolished the lies they use to control everyone. But that's not going to happen soon.
But I do think there is a way I could get at least enough money to start a serious pushback in Canada, my country which has fallen on such hard times and I really want to fight the bastards who have taken it over and have done and are doing such terrible things to it, which is through the promotion of Green Island, a story I think many, many people are as ready to embrace as the 'libertarian-capitalists' have embraced Atlas Shrugged over the last 75 years, as a rallying cry for the kind of society we stand for, and strive for. As noted above, very obviously any capitalist-controlled publishers, or web sites controlled by those supporting capitalism or otherwise relying on capitalist funding for their existence, or websites pretending to be 'progressive' but are actually functioning as gatekeepers to do what they can to stop things like Green Island, are never going to promote Green Island - but with the WWW in our modern times, and we 'real' socialists or 'lefties' having still pretty unfettered access to it, and socialist websites having a quite large readership, if you and other such sites got on board with this, the book could gain the popularity to make it worth publishing in 'cash sales' hard copy or paperback, and after that 'word of mouth' would turn it into a 'best seller' - and I do truly believe that this story would make a very, very great HBO series, and I think that given that many of the people doing HBO stuff today seem pretty progressive in their ideas, an HBO series would be very possible, giving space for wider discussion of what we are doing, and also potentially a good chunk of money to me - which I can assure you I would be using to help sites like yours, but mainly to fight the capitalist rulers of my country, and by extension the world - I once dreamed Canada could be a vanguard for a better world, it was really in the 1960s under Pierre Trudeau, and it could be again (I go into some detail about how I think 'the fall' came about in the DRH - but the people leading that country into some Brave-New-World-1984 dystopia need to be challenged, and pushed back - and the people currently presenting themselves as 'socialist' or 'leftist' leaders in Canada are either completely incompetent to do this leading, or even worse, I am quite sure that at least some of them are pseudo-socialists actually working for the rulers in a 'this far and no farther' limited hangout way.
So - if you want to let me help you move the socialist dream into the modern world, create a 'New Green Island International' - I'm ready to get at it.
(I think the Canadian lion is dead, Mr Shelley - what now??}