HOW CAN WE CREATE A SOCIETY WITHOUT WHAT IS SOMETIMES CALLED POWER-SEEKING?
so it’s not an easy problem but it’s also not an intractable problem. and since there is no way forward but to overthrow capitalism and build a socialist country, we have no choice but to solve it. and we have indeed made great strides in solving it. let me go into it. i apologize for the length, but i hope you won’t be surprised that it’s not so simple as that it can be explained in a few sentences, when it is the at-last-discovered solution to an admittedly quite old problem.
i (and communists of my tendency, or “denomination”) say that the soviet union was genuinely ruled by the working people from 1921-1953. 1953 was the point of inflection where the capitalists who had sort of been brewing in the party gained the upper hand and swiftly kicked out all the genuine servants of the people and began using the party apparatus to once again run a profit-driven economy instead of a people-first economy aimed at eliminating the profit motive everywhere on earth.
the people’s republic of china was founded in 1949, so it had a 28 year lead time on the ussr. so very soon into the PRC’s existence, it began to see that capitalism was swiftly returning in the first worker’s state, the ussr, and it resolved to do something different. it became a general understanding that a new capitalist class is continually arising within the communist party. not *everyone* is getting turned into a capitalist-minded person, but at any given time, statistically, *some* people are.
so what was the solution? in 1966 the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution broke out–a “revolution within the revolution.” it started when students and workers and other common people–who realized that what was at stake was everything that had been fought for in a very long war–recognized the fact that some people in positions of authority were becoming capitalist-minded. so what did they do? a vigorous struggle broke out where all across the country, common people denounced these leaders who had become dedicated to growth instead of to people-power. they pulled them out of office and found new leaders among themselves. everywhere this phenomenon touched, it re-democratized the party.
unfortunately, it might be said that in certain ways it was too little, too late. by 1966, most of the positions of authority and power in the party and other major institutions had already become filled with these capitalist-minded, production/profit-first people. so even though the “medicine” was discovered in this process, it was too late to save “the patient”–that is, the genuinely people-power characteristic of the Chinese government. just as it had in the ussr, capitalism took full power in China in 1978.
but now, all over the world, the most advanced communist struggles (such as the ones in the Philippines and India, where there are revolutions underway as we speak) all have declared the necessity of this medicine–so they are using it *now*, even before they take power, undergoing periodic rectification campaigns to keep the party strictly full of servants of the people. and they insist it will be necessary indefinitely.
how does this capitalist-mindedness come about? well, there is a contradiction between the manager of a factory and the workers. they can cooperate, but sometimes their interests clash because the manager is more focused on increasing production than the workers, who are more focused on not having to work as hard as the manager might ask. if you have 100 managers in a socialist country, not all of them will become capitalist-minded, but *some* of them will. and they won’t all become capitalist-minded at the same rate.
but the more powerful the productive infrastructure is, the less everyone has to work, and the more various workers can swap through the manager role, and swap the manager back to being a worker, decreasing the rate of capitalist-ization. the more economy develops, the slower the rate of capitalist-ization. and the more of the world socialism takes over, the more powerful an economy global socialism has at its disposal. by the time it takes over the whole world, there will be very little need for such sharp contradictions between managers and workers.
the contradiction between managers and workers is analogous also to the contradiction between the party and the people the party governs. they have both overlapping and contradicting interests. but those contradictions soften and soften the more powerful the economy at socialism’s disposal becomes.
so there, then, we have the solution: slowly but surely the economy in a socialist country gets built, slowly but surely more countries have revolutions and the more socialist countries there are to share the burden of production. and all the while, although capitalist-ization is occurring, they are using the medicine of cultural revolution regularly to keep the society one where people-power, not profit, reigns.
cultural revolution includes centering and exalting the traits of being humble and adaptable and far-seeing. it is crucial for the leaders and managers of a socialist country to have this trait.
and in fact, we can’t build a revolution in the first place without guaranteeing that all the people trying to lead in that revolution are this same way–deeply and genuinely committed to serving the broad masses of humanity.
BUT–that does not involve universal and indiscriminate empathy. to love the oppressed and exploited masses is to hate their small but brutally violent and very powerful oppressor–the capitalists who run every existing country.
HOW CAN WE CREATE A PERVASIVELY “MORALLY GOOD” SOCIETY IF HUMAN BEINGS CANNOT EVER ACT FROM 100% NON-SELFISH MOTIVES?
the answer to this puzzle is to recognize that the higher you go up Maslow’s pyramid of needs, the more it is the case that meeting your need cannot occur without serving others, or helping others meet *their* needs. in this way, we can see that it is in fact okay and *positive* to be “selfish” if one sees that one’s self is not separate from the broad masses of humanity–if one sees that one cannot truly flourish unless one is surrounded by flourishing people; if one sees that one cannot truly love oneself unless one has truly become a truly humble person who thinks more of others’ needs than of one’s own. this is the answer to that riddle–to see that in fact one is starving oneself of the deepest and best things in life if one thinks the only way to please oneself is with more superficial pleasures like drugs, tv, alcohol, and emotionless sex that are scarce in a way that opportunities to serve others never are.
people who can best come to this understanding have been raised in a society where their food, clothes, shelter, and medicine were never once in jeopardy or doubt–where they were guaranteed, so they have a deep sense of security down in the core of themselves. we will achieve this.
and we will also achieve a culture that universally promotes this understanding that to a very meaningful sense one IS humanity, one IS one’s community. so when i seek to fulfill my needs, i understand that i meet them best when i serve the people.
this is how to circle the square between self-interest and community interest. in truth, they can align almost perfectly. if there is free ice cream a mile away but i see you walk up to me with an ice cream cone, sure, i might have the immediate urge to steal your ice cream. but how incredibly fleeting and ridiculous this urge would be when i know both that free ice cream is a short walk away, and that far more deeply gratifying to me is a good relationship with you and to treasure your happiness. such “narrowly” selfish acts will become incredibly rare in a world where scarcity barely exists and a culture of the-self-is-expansive wisdom has been able to take root.