Posted on Nov 22nd, 2009 by martha
A gazillion on a scale of 1 - 10 is how tired I am of being told--by my students, my
friends, political quizzes on web sites, comments from media pundits--that I am a
"socialist" or a "communist" because I believe that compassion is an important part of
have both needs to-- and obligations to-- help and support each other.
Please hear this: Communism--the central control of the means of production and most real property by the state in the name of the well-being of the masses--is a stupid system, and can quickly revert to brutish stupidity. If YOU like it, that's fine. I know we are free as humans to believe as we wish, because it takes great sensitivity to understand even a tiny bit of what goes on between the ears of another. By Design, it's your private business. The intent of this paragraph is not to "put down" communism (which does a real good job of doing that for itself), but to clarify my position.
Socialism, which I take to mean a state-directed economy, to the extent that this takes place at the consent of the voters, is just something that per se, I'm not interested in. But I don't think it should be linked in the mind of the average person to communism. The two don't necessarily sleep together. The key concept here is consent.
Some countries (take a look at those in Scandinavia) implement "socialism" fairly well. But my point is--are we sure it's "socialism" that they're doing? Or have global corporate interests managed to exert a mind control so pervasive that we now feel obligated to label governments who help to implement social justice as "socialist" (and therefore vaguely dangerous and immoral and linked to communism)? I prefer to think about my life in the terms of Ubuntu, the African philosophy that asserts "I am because you are." (Or "I am because WE (the community) are." Ubuntu is in dialectical conversation with "I think, therefore I am." Rene Descartes famously liked to stay in bed writing until noon by himself. Some say it was his introverted ways that led to his highly individual-level imagination about what it is, foundationally, to realize one's own humanity. I can't say for sure. But surely Rene would have been neither potty trained nor used language if someone hadn't taught him these things. Ah, what is the human person at all without the influence of others?
A pathetic piece of meat shivering in the bush.
Our worship of "individualism" has truly run
amok. It serves us not. Global corporate interests are using the vestiges of Enlightenment thinking to play on our fears of domination so that they can dominate us. This is not a "philosophical argument" and I don't want to "debate" anyone. "Debate" is a concept emerging from the tired gospel of individualism. Which individual can prove HIMself more right, and whose prick is larger? I don't care at all.
However, if you can show me how there is a better way to think about us together on this planet than Ubuntu, I would deeply, from my heart, want to see it. Zen? To me it's still based on the concept of an individual detached from others inside an individual brain looking out of individual eyes looking for enlightenment. It's wonderful if a person does it, but IF the next Buddha is a collective, then perhaps the practice of Ubuntu is how we sit: Together.
And in the spirit of exactly how I sit with these thoughts, I won't really know what I think about them until, dear reader, I hear from you.