The Ineffective Socialist
Today politics appears to be empty and devoid of genuine intent and meaning. It seems the only desire political parties have is a thirst for political power. Genuine intentions are superseded by a want for garnering attention and votes. Under such circumstances is helping those in need an act of genuine kindness from a position of concern, or is it a manipulative act designed to trick the electorate.
There can be no question that the working class continues to suffer immensely with those who are unemployed or on minimum wage often being denied adequate benefits, basic opportunities in education, housing, health care and an overall quality of life. It is also fair to say that this is a result of a deeply flawed system that is designed to complement and reward the few as opposed to the many. But does the working class (and socialist movements within) have anything to answer for in regard to this disparity; has their activism and actions been inert as opposed to being purposefully impactful?
Unfortunately it is in the nature of politics for parties and other entities to blame social problems on the ‘other’, and in the process forgetting or ignoring the need to engage in a critical self analysis. For it is only through such an analysis that social movements can improve, adapt and implement lasting change. We will use the paradigm of the ‘ineffective socialist’ activist (and characteristics thereof) as a basis to address this.
The ineffective socialist has little desire to improve his or herself or to make their own way in the world through sustained individual effort and self-determination. This may be because they feel oppressed and so assume they do not have the ‘self worth’ or ‘self belief’ required to act in such a way, or it may be due to laziness. In any event, they tend to shy away from any form of 'self-actualisation' and instead prefer to engage in a herd mentality characterised by 'group think'. Yet it is precisely this herd mentality that underpins the problems inherent to socialist movements and collectives for it always amounts to an ‘us versus them’ praxis (in this essay praxis is defined as ones way of being and interacting with the world around them).
By solely wanting to belong to a group and become one of the herd, often the very definition of socialism and the required praxis is altogether lost on the ineffective socialist. He or she will instead see themselves as belonging to a separate, privledged and distinct grouping that is cut-off from the rest of society and humanity. In this way, the ineffective socialist believes he or she cannot be understood by the rest of society, and by believing that they can never be understood the ineffective socialist is wholely incapable of communicating and expressing themselves and their ideas to the masses. For to communicate and express ones ideas effectively, a degree of individuality and self-actualisation is required.
While it is true that unconstrained individuality and liberal capitalism is the enemy of a healthy socialist society, the ineffective socialist fails to grasp that social revolutions are not possible without individual participants first engaging in a 'revolution of the self.' The individual liberty and self-actualisation of individual members is not just best for the individual, but it is also best for the group, 'party' or 'state'. Rather than living in submission to the state the socialist should strive to live in accordance to the ideals of the state. But what are these ideals and what does this entail? This brings us onto the ineffective socialists refusal to embrace the national question.
The ineffective socialist will reject any form of nationalism and the national question. Yet the pending realisation that the 'state' or 'party', and the culture, language and heritage of the nation are one and the same is of absolute importance. Therefore, the effective socialist should always strive to live in accordance to the ideals, language, culture and heritage of the home nation, and be willing to fight in defence of the freedom of that home nation. And by understanding that the language, culture and heritage of the nation can only ever be sacrosanct, effective socialism strives to unite the masses by living in accordance to such an ideal.
In this regard, let us look at the type of socialist who forsakes the unique strain of socialism inherent to his or her native country and instead prefers to fight for an admixture of internationalist socialist ideals. In this case the ineffective socialist wastes time, effort and resources in an effort to unify and identify with international strains of socialism at the detriment of socialist politics at home. This is because focusing on an international dimension brings with it no tangible basis or ‘foothold’ for progression. Such an approach assumes that socialism in other nations is the same as the home nation when in reality it is not. This is because no two governments, cultures, political upheavals and environments can be the same. Indeed, certain strains of socialist analysis on the current situation in Ukraine has demonstrated this point perfectly. They can only expect to isolate themselves from the oppressed at home and bolster their oppressor through such actions. They will refuse to adopt the flag, colours and language of the home nation, preferring instead to fly flags and adopt promotional colours that harks back to a past ideal that is both foreign and irrelevant. They cannot accept the fact that the state, the nation and it's culture are one and the same. In doing so they isolate themselves from potential supporters at home (electorate) and sacrifice any chance of political power. Such socialists will prefer to adopt a soviet communist outlook as opposed to focusing solely on the primary task of creating a socialist republic at home that is inclusive to all. In short, while international morale and support to other socialist entities is necessary, the belief that international socialism can be amalgamated and merged must be abandoned.
While good socialists will identify and stand-up for the downtrodden and oppressed, the ineffective socialist will not rejoice when some of the oppressed escape from poverty and oppression through self-determination and hard work. No, for when that happens they can only become a traitor who belongs to the ‘oppressor class’ as opposed to a success and inspiration worthy of admiration and respect. Therefore, the ineffective socialist will always reject any form of class collaboration, even if such collaboration has been shown to help the oppressed. Indeed, the ineffective socialist fails to grasp that class disparity and oppression can only be abolished through some form of class collaboration, and that the concept of class warfare is in fact non-sensical and deeply damaging. In this way, while there is a genuine desire for improvement and fairness, the ineffective socialist will always strive to reduce society down to a level of ‘sameness’ and equity such that individual members can pose no threat to a perceived status-quo. Therefore, we can say that there is a great difference between wanting to improve the lives of the oppressed and in only having hatred and bitterness for those who are assumed not to be oppressed. For such an approach can only isolate the movement from a much wider strata of society and support, thereby rendering the attainment of political power practically impossible.
Let us now analyse the unhelpful need for the state (and/or party) to exercise control over the autonomy, personal boundaries and individual freedoms of it's members. The state can have no right to interfere in such matters and in doing so serves to stunt the social cohesion, growth and progression of a healthy socialist society. More importantly, who exactly exercises direct influence over ‘the state’ or ‘the party’, because it is almost always just a small body of men and women who believe that they know what is best for the state; when in reality the nation, culture and language can only ever be sacrosanct. Such an approach is nothing more than a deeply flawed power matrix that is more than willing to sacrifice the needs of the people to achieve increasing state militarisation and power. Yet in reality the sacrifices of society does not equate to the progression of the state or party. An effective socialist state or party will always put the health of its members (and public institutions) first so that a rigorous ‘bottom-up’ democracy is possible thereby ensuring the health of the state and the proletariat. Without this mechanism an environment of autocracy, cult of personality, cliques and control can only flourish which can bring nothing but suffering to the nation. In this regard socialism grounded in such autocracy can only devour itself in the fast-changing pace of modern society.
The role of religion and spirituality in a healthy socialist society must also be addressed. The type of socialist who rejects all forms of religion, spirituality and God and replaces the idea of 'God' with the party or the state sets a dangerous precedent. For by doing so the party or the state becomes omniscient and omnipotent (all-seeing and all-knowing) and therefore is beyond reproach. Such a secular society creates the very real risk of autocracy and cult of personality, and also negates the possibility of a 'bottom up' socialist democratic mechanism. An effective socialist society will always permit it's members the freedom to exercise their individual faith as they see fit, and by doing so their loyalty to the state can only be strengthened and consolidated.
Finally, the ineffective socialist fails to appreciate the fast changing pace and flux of modern society, and the ramifications thereof on implementing an effective political strategy. Instead he or she has a praxis firmly grounded in the past and is unwilling to consider or adapt to any form of political and democratic change. Indeed, the ineffective socialist will consider such changes to be ‘revisionist’ or ‘Trotskyist’ and therefore no careful consideration or thought can ever be permitted to take place. Therefore, the ineffective socialist is one dimensional in thinking and fails to recognise that historically speaking ‘effective social movements’ have always been ‘thinking social movements’ who are open to new possibilities and opportunities.
~ Gamhain MacCionaoith
mí Aibreáin, 2022
Gaoth Dobhair, Éire