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Dialogue on Reclaiming Populism
Populism can be defined as “a political approach that strives to appeal to ordinary people who feel that their concerns are disregarded by established elite groups.”
Populism is an extremely contentious word that has in recent years been unfortunately associated with xenophobia, authoritarianism, and racism. But it can also mean a multi-racial working and middle class movement that seeks to unite people based on their common needs.
We want to open a discussion on populism, which we understand as an overarching political movement that is meant to elevate those without power and to challenge established interests that marginalize all of us in the 99%, across all boundaries of race and identity.
Many of us have become estranged from our traditional political ideologies due to elite control, identity politics and petty theoretical squabbles. We believe a populist-universalist approach to politics is necessary to unite us based on common interests and to overcome superficial differences.
We’re not presenting ourselves as credentialed experts on the fine points of academic political ideology. We know that we humans seek safety and comfort in adopting labels and signalling our adherence to some particular group or ideology. However, obsession with labels can lead to idea checking and endless squabbles over theoretical principles rather than a focus on concrete issues.
We are not interested in theological arguments as to how many angels can fit on the head of a pin. And to be clear we aren’t fixed on the purity of specific labels or empty virtue signaling. We simply want to open a conversation among plebes about what ‘populist’ principles might mean to some of us and exchange ideas on how these ideas might emerge in a post-woke world.
What do you think you think is needed to improve the lives of the 99 percent?
How do we revive the focus on mass solidarity?
As you go through your day; work, school, paying your bills; how would you redesign your everyday world to make it populist?
What defines your community and what would you do to make it better?
What do you think are the right questions?
Use the comments below or send your submission to [email protected]!
We live in a political democracy, as imperfect as it is, so why shouldn’t we work in one? We elect the person who has control of the most powerful nuclear arsenal in the world, why shouldn’t we elect the person who signs our paychecks? Democracy in the workplace should be supported by anyone who believes that democracy is the best political system.
We need democracy in the workplace. We as employees should have the right to elect our own bosses. This should be at the heart of a new left, and of any political ideology that aims to improve the lives of regular people. Nearly every working person, if not every, has experienced disrespect and low pay for long hours at work. No president, senator or any other elected official is likely to change this. To improve our own lives, we need some measure of self autonomy and control. Our bosses should be accountable to us.
If employees have a stake in their own companies it seems logical that they would be more productive. After all, if they elect their bosses, in a sense they will own their place of work, and people tend to work harder when they have a sense of ownership.
We can debate precisely how democracy in the workplace would function, but it should be the cornerstone of a new left that overcomes racial, religious and petty political differences. All of our lives would materially improve. We would be more likely to be happier because we would have greater control over our own lives. After all, the current workplace is essentially a dictatorship where our bosses or managers can largely treat us, or fire us, as they please. We would also be able to exert greater control over our salaries and take home earnings that actually reflect the profit we make for our organizations.
This democracy could take many forms, and its specifics should be debated. Perhaps employees could elect the CEO, but specific departments could elect their own managers. For example, the IT department could elect the head of IT. This democracy could be a mixture of direct and representative; the CEO after being elected could appoint certain positions, perhaps employees could vote on certain propositions for the organization’s business plan and policies. Maybe employees could literally own a stake in the company in the form of a co-op. There are endless possibilities, but the way forward should be clear, workers of the world - democratize!
Silicon Valley-powered social media platforms have become our commons, our place of public discourse—what used to be the public square. Now, in addition to extracting our material wealth, they arrogate to themselves the power to control our speech. However, on the left it has become commonplace to call for increasing levels of censorship, which further feeds the consolidation of power by these corporations as this censorship is being carried out by a small number of the richest men on earth with no democratic accountability. They are not only allowed but cheered on as they make opaque decisions about what is and is not acceptable public speech.
The liberal left is destroying itself over purity arguments of identity politics and mandated correct speech. It turns on anyone who does not accept its entire identity package of beliefs. It has discovered a new authoritarianism in cancel-culture, all under the beautiful multi-color banner of inclusiveness and anti-racism.
There is a way to take back our common spaces and work toward genuine democracy and equality. The first step is to understand consumerism as a political act.
Start by imagining the idea of a people’s Silicon Valley… a crowdfunded power center that fuels cooperative alternatives to each of the increasingly monopolistic power centers—Google, Facebook, Amazon, Twitter and all the other titans of our tech world. Our consumerism makes them powerful. It is this that grants them their monopolistic mandate. Likewise, it is our consumerism that can take it back.
A longer piece on plebity discusses this here.
Notice how the corporate world has completely adopted the ideas and language of woke culture. And why should we be surprised that they have found it very useful to co-opt a toothless left that is intent on cannibalizing itself in a fratricidal war rather than questioning its corporate masters? In 2008, people across the political spectrum began to unite around the useful slogan of the 99% and the idea of real opposition to the banksters and the oligarchy. Uniting over issues that join us together is genuinely dangerous to the dominant elites. Not surprisingly, the banksters and the oligarchy are perfectly fine with diverting real challenges to their dominance into endless virtue signalling around issues of identity.
There has to be a time when people of genuine good will, who value critical thinking and fundamental ideals of social justice for everyone, are ready to stand up and say enough is enough. Anyone who can find the strength to stand and raise their voice against the mob makes it just that much easier for the next person to find the courage to join this rising chorus.
For those who are afraid of, or have even learned to hate the word ‘left’–let’s agree that as different as we may see the world, most people really do want things to be better for everyone. To the extent that labels get in the way of progress we should all learn to shed the labels. We’re all labelists, and working on that is a job for everyone.
A longer piece about cancel culture and intolerance is here.