What is the root cause of the problems of the world, and what can I do about it?

Q: What is the root cause of the problems of the world?

A: Capitalism (that is, the political-economic system we currently live in, in which the infrastructure is owned by private individuals and groups instead of everyone in common, and therefore in which political-economic decisions are made according to what will bring the most profit to those individuals and private groups). From the first moment of capitalism’s existence up to the present moment it has sustained and exacerbated poverty, oppression, war, and ecological destruction. It cannot exist without these things, and if we want an end to them, we must move to a system of a democratically run planned economy.

Q: Can capitalism be reformed away peacefully, or through legal methods?

A: No. This has been attempted many times. All such attempts involve attempts to move people, resources, and infrastructure beyond the reach of the profit system. This invariably hurts the profits of the capitalists of the world, and every single time their profits are significantly reduced, they use their control of the political system to ensure that violent repression is used to smash the movement against the profit system, thereby returning the people, resources, and infrastructure back to the disposal of the profit system.

Q: If such a movement must invariably be confronted with violent attacks, how can it survive such violent attacks and still succeed?

A: Capitalism depends on the existence of a working class. Without a working class, there would be no one to prop up the capitalist class, and their entire system would fall apart. Therefore, the capitalist class cannot act to harm the entire working class. Thus, a movement to end capitalism that merges itself with the working class, and which is harbored and concealed within the working class, cannot be destroyed.

Q: How can a movement to end capitalism merge itself with the working class?

A: By carrying out a method of organizing called the mass line.

The essence of this method is “from the masses, to the masses.”

The mass line combines and acts upon two important truths: the masses are endlessly creative, and they are the true makers of history. We also believe that organizers are necessary for the victory of any mass movement. The mass line acknowledges both of these crucial facts.

The mass line has three steps:

1. Gather all the diverse and sometimes contradictory ideas and demands of the people.

2. Analyze them using an understanding of revolutionary theory, revolutionary history, and revolutionary experience in order to sharpen the people’s ideas and demands into programs, policies, and slogans that meet the immediate needs and demands of the people in a way that also (1) strengthens and deepens the people’s political understanding and (2) promotes the long-term interests of the entire global working class.

3. Go deeply among the people and spread these programs and ideas. Then, keep and improve the ideas that have been proven correct because the people have adopted them and made them their own—repeating this process over and over.

This process continuously grows and strengthens both the movement and its participants, deepens the connection between the organizers and the masses, attracts members of the masses to become organizers themselves, and raises the masses’ overall political consciousness.

Q: What does the practice of the mass line look like?

A: There are movements in India, such as the Communist Party of India (Maoist), and in the Philippines, such as the Communist Party of the Philippines, which have undertaken this method for many years and are now major forces for the end of capitalism in those respective countries, on track to end capitalism within a couple of decades.

Q: What about in the united states?

A: One of the most successful anticapitalist movements in recent history, the Black Panther Party, especially from 1966 to 1969, was very consciously practicing something much like the mass line, which was the source of both its community self-defense programs to meet the black community’s urgent need for security against a violent and racist police system, and their breakfast for children program, meeting people’s basic biological needs in order to allow them to focus on organizing their own lives rather than remaining at the mercy of a system that wants them desperate. This factor, this conscious practice of meeting the community’s needs while politicizing them and helping them take increasing self-directed control over their own destiny while defending themselves against capitalism’s and white supremacy’s attacks, was what led to the rapid growth of the BPP during this period of time. Their abandonment of this practice was what led to their disintegration.

Q: Is anyone carrying out the mass line in the united states today?

A: Organizations such as Serve the People – Los Angeles, and Serve the People – Austin are very consciously trying to undertake this strategy. STP-LA has been at it for longer and is steadily growing among the most oppressed and exploited section of the working class. STP-A has been going for a shorter time but is also showing promise.

Q: What can I do if I want to participate in this personally?

A: Study Marxism-Leninism-Maoism. Probably the single best resource available for that is the MLM Basic Course.

If what you read there makes sense to you, either join, found, or support a Maoist collective in your area that intends to carry out the mass line.

A response to the claim that we must dismantle industrial society to survive as a species

I posted a link to my post “The ecocide at the heart of capitalism” to /r/collapse and someone responded that we need to dismantle industrial society. I wanted to link my response here, because I thought it expressed something I had thought before but never put into words:

i agree that virtually all existing industrial processes cannot remain, and even that you may be completely right that a total dismantling has to happen–though that remains to be seen.

if any aspect of global civilization is to survive, we need to find a way to rectify literally every single aspect of the global economy into harmony with the earth’s natural processes, which includes such seemingly radical steps as the end of all mining, and finding a way to recycle 100% of nonrenewable materials such as metals. i think there are probably clever organic ways to do this, such as plants that can leach metals from the soil.

that may just be impossible, but no one can say that for sure yet.

i also think that, given the course of human history, simply consigning ourselves to pre-industrial society doesn’t seem like a solution–plenty of deforestation and environmental devastation happened before heavy industry as well. i don’t think ending all industry will increase our ability to enter into harmony with nature.

to my mind, the only possible viable solution is to dramatically contract our production processes while using technology to make those few aspects of it that we decide to preserve 100% sustainable.

a very tricky road to walk, but i believe it is the only one that doesn’t lead to human extinction. anyone who doesn’t care about human extinction has a different goal than i do, and we probably don’t have much common ground to find.

On the wastefulness and inefficiency of capitalism

A good friend of mine was questioning the pro-capitalist logic of “competition brings out more creativity” and asked (semi-rhetorically),

“I imagine that a LOT of resources are wasted on things like marketing, corporate espionage, lawsuits, duplication of efforts, etc. Does the ‘creativity boost’ of competition balance out the waste?”

I wanted to share what I commented to add to his point about the wastefulness of capitalism:

you kind of mention this, but there are also certain jobs like insurance-company actuary that would just totally disappear if we decided to just give everyone healthcare. no need to decide how much to charge someone for insurance if they just get the care no matter what.

and more deeply, it also depends on what we’re counting as a good return on resources invested. the standard claim is that the intrinsic value that businesses create can be precisely and directly measured by the amount of money the company receives.

but really, one could take relatively small amounts of resources and give them directly to the poor people of the world in the form of infrastructure and land, and one would have created so much more value than if one used that same amount of money to buy this year’s laptops and trucks and clothing etc. for the wealthy.

but of course, what is produced is what makes money, which depends not at all on how much value it adds to human life but on whether it can be sold to those who already have expendable money.

relatedly, there’s also the fact that if something that has already been produced and it would hurt profits to sell it, it is destroyed rather than given away.

there’s also planned obsolescence.

there’s also the incredibly environmentally destructive nature of capitalism, which collapses natural systems through overusing them that otherwise would have provided steady supplies of resources and “natural services” indefinitely (http://bit.ly/CapitalistEcocide).

there’s also war, which you do mention already in the form of competition, but it’s probably worth noting that capitalism makes war inevitable (http://bit.ly/capitalistmassmurder), and virtually all production of armaments and troop-shipping and troop-housing etc. is pure waste. along those lines, there’s also the cost of law enforcement, which would be so dramatically smaller in a world where everyone had what they needed.

and also the way so many are left to starve, and turn to drugs etc., and human potential is eaten up in addiction, distraction, fear, and trauma, etc. this is probably the single greatest inefficiency, given the power of even one all-around(-or-close-to-it) healthy human being.

and truthfully, we even have evidence that the very claim that capitalism is better than socialism at building up advanced economies efficiently is false, like how the ussr was the third-fastest growing economy in the the world for the span of time it existed, and in fact that it grew even faster during the years when (in my opinion) their planned economy was genuinely democratically planned (http://bit.ly/doplanned).