Pink Capitalism, The Irish/Italian Conspiracy, And More--Temporal Times #5
By Starling 1269
Since I made my decision to be openly trans online, a thing I have noticed again and again is many trans spaces online are very outspokenly socialist. It seems like nearly every platform has a vocal minority within the trans community that is not only socialist but divisively so. Anti-capitalist, revolutionary, and worst of all preachy about it. It is more than a little off-putting for a dyed in the wool shitlib such as myself. Especially if they are attacking me over it, as they have often want to do.
I am a moral person, but I am not an idealistic person. I am a pragmatist, a realist. Someone who bases decisions, especially when it matters, off of tried and tested solutions. So, knowing things like the fact that one of the largest negative predictors of the health, education, and prosperity of a nation is if it was or is communist or the human rights record of Cuba (as I went into in Temporal Time Issue #1), a country that is constantly lionized by the left as the gold standard America should set out for, rather sets the tone for my expectations when it comes to any other attempt at it.
Further, and perhaps a bit shockingly if you have a rather uncharitable view of me in light of my superficially hawkish takes on World War Three and Afghanistan, I might fundamentally believe in the Clinton Doctrine but I am NOT someone who takes war, conflict, and violence lightly. Revolution, coup, wars, etc. these must all be justified in terms of their human cost. If they do not meet the strict standard for casus belli, then they are illegitimate.If the human cost of war is greater than that of peace, then we have a moral duty to champion peace. Likewise, if the human cost of peace is greater than the human cost of war, then we have just the same moral duty to champion war. However, there is at no point where I would consider engaging in violence against people for strict economic benefit to be justified. That is illegitimate when neocons do it, and it is JUST as illegitimate when communist revolutionaries do it. I do not consider voluntary wage labor exploitative, nor do I consider disparity in wealth necessarily exploitative. These things CAN be exploitative, but in most cases and especially in first world post-industrial nations they are NOT by and large. Material conditions, social mobility, equality under the law, and general safety and well-being are the best they’ve ever been across the board in these countries. Liberal capitalism is to thank for all of this.
Seriously, look at Europe the consistently best and least corrupt are the stringently socially democratic Nordic countries. Not one has any serious plans of overturning their market, nationalizing any industry, or starting any worker’s revolution; and this is good. Why should the by and large best nations in Europe try to fix what isn’t broken through radical upset? Especially, of any sort of a revolutionary nature. For what? Ideology and perfectionism. Simple as. While we are at it, let’s take a look at the former Soviet nations. What do we see? A big red wall of limited LGBT rights. Let's dissect that a bit more, almost every former fascist country has greater prosperity and human rights than almost every former communist country. Really let that sink in.
The simple fact of the matter is that it has never been shown for socialism to be of any real benefit to LGBT people. Every nation it has been tried in has been corrupt, intolerant, and caused qualitatively worse material conditions and human rights for everybody but especially marginalized groups. No amount of “That’s just CIA propaganda” is going to be convincing in light of this. Not to me, because, even with all things being equal I would STILL support capitalism over socialism. Because, and this is the most simple reason in the world, I trust a businessman to provide me services every single time because a dollar from a trans woman is worth just as much as a dollar from a cis woman or a cis man or a black woman. Simple as. However, I will NEVER trust the government or the community to provide me services every single time. Why would I? As a disabled trans woman, I can’t reliably provide either labor or progeny for the collective. I would be at the simple mercy thereof, and why would they grant me that? After all I am just, as Marx would call it a lumpenproletariat or as Hitler would call it a “lebensunwertes leben,” a useless breather.
Unions for Thee, Not for Me
Current Affairs, Nathan J. Robinson and the Perils of Material Interests Under Capitalism
On Wednesday, August 18, an enormous controversy broke out on left-wing Twitter. To be more specific, Lyta Gold, the Managing and Amusements Editor for Current Affairs, published a statement that she and most of her coworkers had been dismissed from their positions at the magazine. This was because she and the staff had organized to turn their workplace into a worker co-op. Sadly, this was far from the first time that an entire group of workers lost their employment for attempting to assert control over their work. What made this case especially egregious was that Current Affairs is an overtly left-wing magazine that has frequently advocated for socialism and defended union organizing.
I am grieved to tell you that @nathanjrobinson has effectively fired me & most of the @curaffairs staff because we were trying to organize into a worker’s co-op. This isn’t a bit. I wish it was.
Gold’s announcement on Twitter quickly racked up over 8,400 retweets and 1,600 replies. People were shocked and outraged that a magazine that seemed committed to workers’ rights would turn its back on socialist principles at the moment when it could have put its stated values into action. Gold claimed that Current Affairs Editor-in-Chief Nathan J. Robinson had expressed support for the staff’s long-discussed plan to foster “a democratic workplace where all voices were equally valued.” But very soon, Robinson abruptly changed course and began demanding that longtime contributors resign, before admitting that “he simply did not want Current Affairs to be a democratic workplace.”
Robinson quickly became the main character of Left Twitter that day, as many readers of Current Affairs began very loudly to denounce him as a hypocrite, a traitor to the working class, and a capitalist opportunist, among many other insults.
On August 20, Robinson had issued a statement with his own version of events, claiming that this incident had been a misunderstanding, that the team at Current Affairs had become dysfunctional, and that “there was no union organizing drive.” He then hunkered down and logged off Twitter, presumably for the foreseeable future. The same day, another Current Affairs editor, Adrian Rennix, released a response to Robinson that contradicted the Editor-in-Chief’s statement and supported the staff members who had tried to organize.
While there are two contradictory accounts of what happened at Current Affairs, the court of opinion has been very much against Nathan J. Robinson. Many have pointed out articles written by Robinson that now appear ironic in hindsight. These include “Can Hierarchy Be Justified?” “Why You Should Be a Socialist” (a name that he also gave one of his books) and, taking this story beyond the realm of parody, the op-ed “I Support Unions, Just Not This One: Liberalism in a Nutshell.”
It seems very easy at this time to ridicule and dismiss Robinson. Not only has his reputation been destroyed in a blaze of betrayed values, but he also seems to embody the archetype of the champagne socialist, with his habit of dressing like a cross between a plantation owner and a Batman villain, and his taste for high-performance cars. However, he is not an isolated case.
A number of other nominally progressive and even socialist organizations have also given lip service to worker’s rights before losing their commitment when asked to apply those rights to their own offices. Famously, the prominent left-leaning media organization The Young Turks (TYT), has reportedly discouraged its employees strongly from unionizing, leading to charges being filed with the United States’ National Labor Relations Board in early 2020 (see coverage by In These Times).
Why all this seeming hypocrisy? Why would the very media pundits who built their reputation on supporting workers and the public interest take actions that would predictably damage their image?
We can solve this mystery with a class-based analysis of the situation. To start off, we can ask who holds the most power in these cases. In a capitalist economy, holding power most often comes down to ownership. Looking at the ownership structure of Current Affairs, it becomes clear that things were stacked against the staff members before they ever decided to organize together.
This is because, although Current Affairs (read: Robinson) insists that its decision-making is handled democratically, the fact of the matter is that ownership of the organization belonged to Nathan J. Robinson. It is in the owner of any business’ material interest to maximize the profits of that business. This is done by seeking to increase revenue and minimize expenses. These expenses include wages for workers.
Conversely, the staff at Current Affairs did not own the business but rather sold (or in some cases, volunteered) their labor to the business. They are workers, and as such it was in their material interest to maximize their wages and/or stake in the organization.
This is a conflict: the workers are incentivized to increase their pay and control over the workplace and the owner is incentivized to pay less whenever possible and maintain control over the organization. This logic of ownership affects any organization with private ownership, regardless of what overtures to worker rights and equality the owners might make.
The staff at Current Affairs tried to resolve this material conflict by securing their collective ownership of their workplace. Robinson, as the owner, decided to resolve it by asserting his ownership and replacing the staff members, providing an example of how democracy means little as long as one person or class of people holds the balance of economic power.
The same essential conflict is being played out at The Young Turks and many other companies where workers are attempting to organize in their collective interests.
Some could argue that the situation at Current Affairs is complicated by the fact that many of the staff members had been contributing for limited or no financial gain, but Current Affairs is (or rather, was) a growing publication with the potential to earn more revenue in the foreseeable future. Indeed, Robinson indicated in his statement that operations had been growing, requiring a greater number of staff in recent years. Ceding ownership to the staff as a whole would unavoidably leave Robinson without a large share of future profits that he would otherwise be entitled to. The opportunity to live by his organization’s stated principles might have been compelling, but as of now, the temptation to keep the benefits of ownership has proven too great.
To put it simply, where hierarchy and an imbalance of power exist, it is in the interest of those with power to protect their place.
All of this may seem terribly deterministic. Am I saying that owning a company made Nathan Robinson evil? No, this type of class conflict is systemic and can work in subtle ways. There are many economic and social pressures on the owner of an organization to keep control. These can come from the simple pride of having founded a new publication; or the feeling that the owner and their workers are a close-knit team, “family” even, and don’t need any further labor action regardless of what values may be expressed in public. But regardless of these rationalizations, the material interests of private ownership remain there in the background.
This is the logic of our capitalist economy – a system that divides us into classes of owners and workers and demands that we compete, both between and within our classes. And unfortunately, this logic applies to co-ops under capitalism, too. Turning Current Affairs into a co-op would undoubtedly have benefited its staff and been a step in the right direction, but as long as their publication exists in a capitalist economy, the staff, now the owners, would still find themselves under the market’s incentives to compete against other organizations, reduce costs from their suppliers and prioritize profits. Such is the nature of the beast.
Ultimately, cases such as those of Current Affairs, TYT and other nominally socialist organizations offer a reminder to workers everywhere: unless you have established your workplace under your collective ownership, you cannot depend on your employer to recognize your demands for organization and control. This applies whether you are unionizing or attempting to enter into ownership.
No matter what great words, promises and assurances your employers may have given to you, profit and power will always speak louder in the end. Keep your organizing hidden from management until you are ready to present a united coalition, one that can’t simply be dismissed, to your employer.
If you or someone you know is interested in organizing your workplace, start by searching for established unions in your area – they will likely have resources and support to help you get started. You can also always reach out to your friends and mine at the Industrial Workers of the World, who can offer many resources on organizing.
And of course, remember that the struggle for workers’ rights doesn’t end in your workplace – there’s a whole world to win.
The Italo-Irish Conspiracy to Destroy our Country: Part 1
By Pink And Black
For the past few decades, I have been researching the roots of a plot. A plot so massive, it reaches into the very core of our society. Everything and everyone has been touched by these 2 groups, who seek to destroy America and our way of life. The Italians and the Irish.
When our brave country was founded in 1776, we were a good people. Our moral character was the best in the world. We were free from the vandalism and constant revolution of the French, or the colonialism and oppression of the natives witnessed in Spain. For a few decades we managed to maintain this status, until the Irish came. In the 1830’s came a massive wave of Irish immigration. Brought about by a “famine” that “killed over a million innocent people.” (I put those statements in quotation marks, so you know they must be ridiculous.) At first we did everything we could to resist. We barred the filthy Irish from businesses, stopped them from holding jobs, and formed political organizations against them. But this was not enough. They created foul institutions like slavery and racism, tools that are still used by them today to render debate impossible. This culminated in the civil war, where we sought to destroy the sword of the the Irish, slavery. While we were successful, it was only a matter of time until the Irish found a new weapon to use against us.
While we were still celebrating our great victory, a new foe appeared. The Italians. They immediately allied themselves to the Irish, seeing them as fellow Catholics. In many ways it was a repeat of when the Irish first came. They spread their perversion and corruption, and we fought back. Then they formed organized crime organisations and destroyed the institution designed to prevent their rot from spreading, the prohibition. But then, they did the most foul deed ever committed. They caused the 1929 Stock Market Crash, leading to the Great Depression. Unfortunately many records of this have been destroyed by Italian finance.
Not long after this great crime, the second world war began. A united front with both Benito Mussolini (an Italian) and Adolf Hitler (the distortions by Italian finance make it seem like he was Austrian, but one only needs to look at the nationality of his sister-in-law to confirm he was really Irish). At first the weakness instilled by the Italo-Irish plot prevented us from entering the war. But after an act of direct aggression from the Japanese (who are Irish in all but name) we were forced to act, and we won another victory. But this time, we barely were able to celebrate. When we won, instead of burning Italy and it’s supposedly neutral ally Ireland to the ground and salting the earth, our government was coerced into paying for their reconstruction.
From here, things only got worse. JFK, an Irishman, was elected president. Restrictions on Irish and Italian immigration were lessened, discrimination against these foul groups lessened tot the point of being considered “ridiculous,” the Irish even got their own Heritage Month! But this is just the history. Next week I will reveal how Italo-Irish corruption hurts us good Americans, and how we can stop it.