What Needs To Be Done

The world is burning, a pandemic raging, and overworked people everywhere are struggling to survive. Meanwhile the wealthy engorge themselves ever more vigorously. What ever can be done to get us out of this hell-world? I will try to answer.

The most conventional route oft prescribed is voting, and it should not be overlooked. Everyone has an obligation to judge which two options are most likely to succeed, and of those two decide which is least revolting. For all their faults, as far as global warming and pandemic response are concerned the Democrats hold the distinction of not flat out denying reality and have historically succeeded in pursuing evidence-based solutions. They showed this by fixing the ozone layer and containing outbreaks of swine flu and the Ebola virus, issues that Republicans choose to ignore as a deliberate public policy decision. Likewise only Democrats have succeeded in expanding access to basic health care, labor rights, cutting taxes for the working class, raising the minimum wage, reversing gerrymandering, decriminalizing drugs, establishing rent control, increasing access to college, building the social safety net, and modernizing the democratic process by reducing bribery while boosting ranked choice voting and ballot propositions. Not only have Republicans achieved absolutely nothing in these areas, more often than not they stand in deliberate opposition to these policies despite their overwhelming popularity. Cynics are right to condemn neoliberal elements of the Democratic Party, but to allow Republicans to take office instead only enables further decay in the material conditions of the American people. No protest vote or abstention can excuse the needless more deaths of our siblings and cousins that such symbolic gestures would allow to happen. If leftists are to ever pride themselves in embracing scientific empiricism as a unifying theory they must include voting Republicans out of office in their diversity of tactics. Voting, after all, is only the minimum of what we can and must do. Defeating Republicans unfortunately often requires donating time and money to campaigns we don't always agree with, but it is only to avoid more catastrophic outcomes. Needless to say, however, electing the lesser evil will never be enough to save us from the psychopathic ruling class.

Our well-being is too important to leave to electoral politics. Our favorite candidates are always at risk of losing, and even if elected are never guaranteed to achieve or even pursue what they had promised. What can we do then? No matter what happens, there will never be a time we can't educate, agitate, and organize each other. Ultimately that may be all we can ever do.

We need to educate each other about how our biggest problems can be solved through public policy, using technology and resources we already have. We know we can already house everyone because we already have more unoccupied homes built than homeless people. We know we have enough food because of all the food we throw away, and enough healthcare because of the wealth it creates. With solar power now cheaper than fossil fuels, only greed drives our climate crisis, not lack of innovation. Since this vast abundance has been achieved without full employment, we can even know now that forcing everyone to work is neither desirable nor even necessary for society to meet its most basic needs.

On the other hand we also know that knowledge itself is not enough. We must agitate each other out of the comforts of apathy and escapism if we ever want to construct the world we want to live in. We must continually remind each other of the magnitude of our problems while providing the vision of a world finally free of them, making as painfully clear as possible how far we are from our rightful inheritance, and how much worse things are likely to become if we don't act. In this way we should all become journalist-artists, refining our skills for maximal outcome. There are specific people in power with the ability to fix things, who need to be disabused of the notion that what they're doing is okay. They need to know how much they make their own people suffer, so that they can finally do the right thing.

Knowledge and anger will come to nothing however if we are not also organized. Sporadic bouts of public anger can easily be ignored, while a coordinated series of gradually escalating yet unpredictable demonstrations of public outrage can make even the most ruthless and entrenched dictatorships suddenly evaporate. The most formidable enemy of the ruling class is a decentralized movement of activists forming small groups with their closest friends and family in order to spur to action the best versions of ourselves. Through these affinity groups larger organizations can be formed and joined. By focusing our efforts to educate, agitate, and organize each other, our political goals can become inescapable. We can continue pressuring our bosses and politicians, but ultimately the people must take power themselves, which can only be done through direct democracy both in government and in the workplace. In the workplace it means joining a union that gives all its members an equal voice, like the Industrial Workers of the World, and forming worker cooperatives in place of corporations. In government this means enacting public policy directly with ballot propositions our politicians are forced to obey. With the right focus we may find achieving our goals to be far easier than we could have ever imagined.

– Erikos Andropoulos, October 25, 2020

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