Will First Worlders benefit from socialism?
“Dear Leading Light,
Will First Worlders benefit at all from socialism?”
Thank you for writing.
Socialism will lead to a lower-material standard of living for First World peoples. First World peoples earn many times more than the value of their labor. They earn many times more than an egalitarian, socialist distribution worldwide would entail. First World populations get more than their share of the pie. They live off the labor of the Third World. Under socialism, First World populations will have to give up their privileges, their lives of luxury, based on extracting super-profits from the Third World. The New Power of the Leading Light will rule over the First World until First World populations can live as contributing members of global society. Here are some positive things that the New Power of the Leading Light has to offer First Worlders:
1. Healthier lives. Even though socialism will entail a drop in the overall standard of living of peoples of the First World, in some ways life will improve for First World populations under socialism. With socialism, the capitalist food industries will not be free to control the diets of the population. First World peoples, generally, do not want for food. However, the food they consume can be extremely unhealthy. This is especially true of fast food and snacks. This has led to some of the highest obesity rates in the world being amongst First World populations. This situation won’t be allowed to exist under socialism. People will come before profits under socialism. Thus science will govern the dietary choices that people have available to them. In addition, socialism will encourage and may even require exercise as part of the work or school day. Time at work or at school may be allocated for an exercise regimen. In addition, people will receive health care under socialism. Health care should be considered a human right under socialism. Thus the First World population, even though materially poorer, will generally lead healthier lives. A healthy population is a happier one.
2. Meaningful lives. Maoists in China thought that people could change. Maoists had a strong belief in people power. Under the Maoists, Chinese society was seen as a giant school of Maoism that had many elaborate practices that all aimed to educate and remold the entire population, both friends and enemies. These elaborate measures ran the range from criticism and self-criticism before the masses, to Mao Zedong Thought teams and classes, to labor and prison reform. In labor reform, people were sent to do hard work alongside the masses to be humbled and to learn. This was often the prescription for communist cadres who had acted as high-handed bureaucrats toward the people. Such cadres were sent to the countryside to be humbled, to learn of the plight of the masses, and to learn from them. This practice was an old one, it pre-dated the Cultural Revolution. It went at least back to the Great Leap Forward in the late 1950s. It was also practiced, with limited success, during campaigns such as the Socialist Education Movement prior to the Cultural Revolution. However, the Cultural Revolution raised this practice to new levels. An entire system of May 7th cadre schools were set up at the height of the Cultural Revolution as part of the process of rehabilitating and remolding cadres through labor. In addition, an entire generation of red guards were sent down to learn from the peasantry from 1968 onward. Many of these red guards would participate in the radical push to reestablish the collective economy of the countryside from 1968 to 1970. Just as those who needed to be humbled and reeducated were sent to the Chinese countryside, First Worlders might also be sent to the “global countryside,” the Third World, to do work for and alongside the truly oppressed. This hypothetical process need not be one that is seen as punishment. Rather, this hypothetical process will be one that ends the empty, decadent, and often boring and dreary lives of First Worlders. Instead, First Worlders will be sent on an adventure to reinvent themselves alongside the masses of the Third World. What is more exciting than self-reinvention and creating a whole new, just world? Capitalism limits the horizons of people, socialism will open First Worlders up to new possibilities. What is considered the good life should not be endless consumption, it should be a life of adventure, excitement, creativity, and doing good by humanity. Capitalism offers meaninglessness. Socialism offers meaning.
3. A future. The First World way of life is not sustainable. If First World populations continue to live as they do, then they will not only destroy themselves but also the entire planet. Socialism entails a more sustainable, balanced relationship between man and nature. Capitalism ensures a future that is an ecological hell. Socialism ensures that future generations will be happy and prosperous.
4. Peace. Capitalism is a system that has generated countless wars for profit. Many First World people die in these wars. The worst wars of this century were intra-imperialist wars, both World War 1 and 2 killed tens of millions, including many First World people. Socialism will guarantee that nobody will die in a war over profit. Nobody will die to maintain a class of parasites. Nobody will die in this senseless way. Socialism will provide peace from imperialist war.
Unfortunately, these benefits of socialism do not establish First World peoples as a social base for revolution. First World peoples are, and will continue to be, the most reactionary populations in the world for the time being. However, socialism is not about punishment, it is about liberation. However, we cannot let sentimentalism stand in our way from setting the world right. Let there be no mistake, liberation of humanity will entail the destruction of the First World way of life. In the end, in the long run, this will even be good for First World peoples themselves.