In Search of Kindness
By William T. Hathaway
Now is the season when priests proclaim, “Peace on earth, goodwill towards men” and mainstream media soothe us with stories and images of kindness.
But why do peace and goodwill remain just dreams? Why is kindness so rare in the world today? Why is it limited to the personal sphere? Why is the wider world so cruel?
The root cause of this is capitalism, an intrinsically violent and harsh social-economic system that shapes us. By forcing people to compete for the essentials of life, it generates selfish, aggressive personalities. Individual accumulation is the priority rather than cooperative sharing.
But capitalism is not as harsh as the feudalism it overthrew, and feudalism was not as harsh as the absolute monarchies it overthrew. Humanity is very gradually progressing through revolutions to a kinder society.
But that won’t be achieved by being kind to the capitalists. We will have to inflict the greatest unkindness on them they can imagine: take “their” wealth away from them and return it to the workers who created it. The rich will fight that with all their power. So the system must first collapse before that power can be conquered.
Then we will be able to build real socialism, which has never existed before. The Soviet Union was a travesty of Marxism-Leninism imposed by Stalin. He and his successors financially controlled the revolutionary parties in China, Vietnam and Cuba and forced this dictatorship onto them. The results are nothing to emulate.
Conservatives claim that socialism is impossible because it goes against human nature, which they see as inherently violent, individualistic and competitive. But they are confusing capitalist nature with human nature. Most anthropologists agree there is no fixed human nature. Even within capitalism, humans differ widely from culture to culture. Individuals have many potentialities that become developed or repressed based on culture and heredity.
Liberals claim that overthrowing the dominant order is an impossible dream. Seeing themselves as pragmatic realists, they seek compromise with the capitalists.
But fundamental social change has never been achieved through gradual reforms. Those just prolong the old system by pacifying the masses. It requires a crisis and collapse, then a revolutionary upsurge that removes the old order and builds the new. Capitalism is now starting to fall apart, so this century should be exciting.
We live in a turbulent time of transition to a peaceful and kind society: socialism. The best program I’ve found for getting there is the Freedom Socialist Party’s.
William T. Hathaway’s books won him a Rinehart Foundation Award and a Fulbright professorship. His novel Lila, the Revolutionary is a fable for adults about an eight-year-old girl who sparks a world revolution for social justice.