By Max Troiano
“The interest of businessmen is always in some respects different from, and even opposite to, that of the public. The proposal of any new law or regulation of commerce which comes from this order ought never to be adopted, till after having been long and carefully examined with the most suspicious attention. It comes from an order of men who have generally an interest to deceive and even oppress the public.”
-Adam Smith, The Wealth of Nations, 1776
(I wrote this at 1am because I couldn’t sleep, and it may or may not be sane or coherent in any way. I wanted to clear my mind by talking about my day before going to bed but instead wrote a small novel’s worth of political treatise. More is probably to come in the coming days.)
Today was great. I hiked with Moka and my family at Callahan State Park in Framingham, a new place I’m excited to return to. I didn’t exercise but the hike was about three miles through rolling terrain, so it’s better than nothing. We played Guess the Song as a family on Zoom with the CrossFit gang, and ended up winning! I think our off key rendition of Bohemian Rhapsody harmed our chances more than it helped, though.
Jack and I were able to spend some great time together playing Battlefront. I’m delighted to have him back from college (although the circumstances are less than ideal) and want to do more stuff with him in the future. It’s crazy how awesome it feels to have him back — honestly, I didn't really think I’d feel he’d miss him when he left but now that he’s home for who knows how long I find myself enjoying his company immensely.
(Warning: politics incoming! Turn back while you still can!)
But although domestic life is going well, the world outside our doors is consumed by flames. Every day it gets worse — thousands die each day in the US alone, the planet is being broiled alive, and through it all our corrupt kleptocracy just twiddles its thumbs. Each passing day, and boy do they pass fast when you’re stuck at home, convinces me more that it will be up to my generation to fix this dumpster fire of a planet (figuratively and literally) our elders have given us.
Humanity has been playing hot potato with its very continued existence since the 1700s — when capitalism and fossil fuels both first gained traction — and we must douse its fires before it irrevocably blows up in our faces (it already has begun to) I continue, somewhat naively, to hope against hope that Fabianism (the belief in a peaceful, democratic transition to a mild form of socialism) can carry the day and lead us forward into a new dawn, but given its current setbacks, that haunting specter of 1917 looms — revolution. If that comes to pass, and I pray with all my heart that it will not, the modern Mensheviks must win out.
The duty and the burden placed upon our generation is, without a doubt, the heaviest ever. If we fail, the human race as we know it will probably cease to exist, and whatever husk is left may be better off fleeing Earth or, if that simply isn’t possible, going back to the beginning of it all and returning to our primordial hunter-gatherer roots. We cannot, and I mean cannot, fail.
In China, starting in the 200s BCE and continuing all the way up to the present day, there is the concept of a ‘Mandate of Heaven’, where a new dynasty (more recently political group) rises to power, brings peace and stability to the realm for a century or two, then eventually becomes corrupt and complacent, gets racked by revolts, natural disasters and rebellions, then gets overthrown by a new dynasty in an always bloody and often prolonged transfer of power. As long as the ruling dynasty keeps its people safe, happy, and prosperous, it keeps the Mandate of Heaven, so-called because it is said to be given by the gods. But if it fails to do so, the Mandate is taken from that dynasty and granted to another, where the process is repeated. (Often the dynasty which has lost the Mandate of Heaven will flee to Taiwan, as is the case today) But, why does this matter?
I, and millions of others like me, believe that capitalism has lost our modern, global Mandate of Heaven. Capitalism has clearly been shown to be unable to do what all governments must, guarantee to its people life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Thus, as is enshrined in the Declaration of Independence, the Magna Carta, and great treatises such as Capital and The Wealth of Nations, capitalism has lost the Mandate (now granted not by heaven but by the people) must be eradicated or fundamentally and irreversibly changed. As I said earlier, I am a vocal proponent of the latter (Fabianism, Social Democracy, Democratic Socialism, it goes by many names), but it is worryingly possible the former will be necessary. And the fact that it is must be addressed.
Whatever the destruction, suffering, and atrocities of modern capitalism, there is another heinous evil lurking - communism. Not Marxism — a fairly reasonable man man I agree with on some points and disagree with on others — but Leninism and Stalinism, Maoism and Trotskyism. They killed millions, just like capitalism, and although they nearly won the Mandate during the Cold War, they (rightfully) failed.
Now, this is not to say that revolutionary socialism is equal to or the same as communism. What I mean here is that, as the student of history I am, it is clear that revolutionary socialist regimes will almost always slip into communism and eventually its twin brother, state capitalism.
I write about these things because I do not want to live in the world our parents and grandparents have left for us. It’s now 2am (it took me nearly an hour to copy all this down from my notebook) and I have gone completely off the rails from what I was originally writing about. But what can you do? What’s done is done. Stay safe, and I’ll see you all on Thursday.