How To Make Everyone You Love a Communist (a Critique of Moral Argumentation)
Something that I have observed within left spaces, especially online, is this focus on morality. “Well, don’t you think capitalism is immoral for stealing your surplus value?” one unsuspecting leftist may ask someone on the street, begging for the other person to reply with “Yeah, that sucks, I guess you are right,” but if you have every actually tried to convince someone that communism is something that would be realistic, or even just that capitalism as a mode of production just doesn’t make sense anymore, you would see how hard this actually is. So what is it that we have to do? Why is convincing the average person that communism is a preferable system just so damn difficult? Well, I am going to argue that it is because of the way that you are approaching it.
Mark Fisher, in his amazing book “Capitalist Realism,” goes through great lengths to explain our current problems in Post-Fordist capitalism, in which one of the greatest problems that he lays out is the idea, since all past ideas of how to fight off capitalism, have seemingly failed (Look at, for example, the fall of the Berlin Wall and how that effected the way that everyone views communism as an alternative to the capitalist mode of production) it is already in the mind of the average person that capitalism is the only system that can work. Even if you talk to the average Marxist-Leninist, they will tell you that it is often necessary to adopt capitalism as a means to keep a “Socialist” country afloat against the capitalist hegemony. Therefore, if Capitalism is the only working system, it’s logic, it’s causes, it’s effects, it’s everything must be the only working everything as well.
Let me put this idea in a very easy-to-follow example: You made a dumb mistake and sparked a debate at the Thanksgiving table. “What makes you think Communism is viable? Don’t you know that the U.S.S.R failed? I see America still standing as the only world super-power, but where is the U.S.S.R?” your mom yells out, mouth full of crummy ham that she cooked for far too long. Disregarding your feelings towards the U.S.S.R, you respond with “Capitalism doesn’t work, though, the United States constantly has to put down other countries in order to stay on top!” This is a factual statement, this is something that the United States does. However, following what I said in the last paragraph, this fact becomes natural, necessary, because “…if Capitalism is the only working system, it’s logic, it’s causes, it’s effects, it’s everything must be the only working everything as well.”
So, therefore, when you are arguing against Capitalism, you need to be talking to people who uphold such a system with the logic of Capitalism. Because in order to prove that Capitalism is not preferable, you have to prove that any other system does what Capitalism aims to do better. This is the logic of Karl Marx when he rights his economical works. Capitalism is an inherently contradictory system, and therefore it is only necessary that you analyze it in it’s contradictions.
When a Capitalist firm or even a Capitalist nation overall deduces the success of itself it never considers the morality of itself. Think of Elon Musk, who I believe is now the richest man on the planet. Elon is a smart man, without a doubt, however he is also incredibly immoral. More than money, he loves abusing the rights of his own workers while bragging about how much he has to work. You see headlines all the time about how much Elon works in his own factories and how nobody should work as hard as he does but then when the workers themselves try to unionize he denies them that right. Isn’t it a bit weird how when the workers themselves try to make life easier for themselves he denies them that right while arguing online that they deserve that right? To make this essay more focused on the topic at hand and not making this an Elon Musk hit piece, I am going to steer clear from talking about his family’s emerald mines in Africa and how much he profits off of that. My point in all of this is that the most successful man in the world, the man that you think of when you hear the phrase “Capitalism” (apart from Jeff Bezos) is someone who I think most people can consider an immoral man.
What this means is that the system justifies these atrocities, and the system itself doesn’t rank success based off of how moral people are, in fact the most moral people are those who will do good things even when they have nothing, or get no benefit off of it. So therefore, the logic of capitalism doesn’t care about morals and in turn actually justifies immorality as just “a fact of life” like the state justifies war and violence towards immorality as “just a fact of life” as well. So, my point in all of this is that moral arguments actually reinforce the idea that these things are socially acceptable at worst, and just a fact of life at best.
As I sit down in the public library writing this, I figure that there would be no point in writing all of this if I didn’t give you all a simple framework for argumentation, so here it goes.
- Keep in mind that there isn’t going to be immediate transition. You aren’t going to make a Fascist be aware with the evils of their own ideology and convince them to be a Post-Structuralist Neo-Marxian Accelerationist any time soon, so be patient.
- Understand the person that you are talking to. Get a good general sense of their values, some people are easily swayed by moral critiques, but it isn’t you best bet. You want to focus on how Communism does what a person wants Capitalism to do better than Capitalism, for example arguing that the Capitalist mode of production harms culture more than preserves it to a Republican in America
- Make the person that you are talking to feel like they are on the same level as you. This one goes to “debate bros” on Twitch, calling the person that you are talking to an idiot doesn’t make them want to hear you out anymore that it makes them want to just prove to you that what they believe is true even more. This means that they can’t be invalidated in any way.
- Never underestimate Capital. Mark Fisher characterizes Capital to be the strongest force that humanity has ever seen. It is a rampant culture destroying tool of the bourgeois to destroy every aspect of life, and therefore you can’t just rely on it to destroy itself, YOU need to be knowledgeable on Capital, and therefore you need to understand Capitalism as a mode of production well enough to be able to list off everything pragmatically wrong with it, and be able to admit when you are wrong on something or just plain unknowledgeable in order to not mischaracterize Capital as a machine of power.
In conclusion, the left in general needs to be aware of everything that they critique wholeheartedly. We need to understand the logic and the inner functions of the Capitalist Mode of Production and never underestimate the way that it effects the mind as well when arguing for or against it. Even if you think you are past the Capitalist ideology, that doesn’t mean that everyone else is. So I hope that you take what I have to say to heart, and apply my formula to future arguments.