The more I read from Gods & Radicals, the more convinced I become that the authors of the articles on the website don’t understand either politics or the history that underlie politics.
G&R thrives on anti-capitalism and endorses communism in a way that surprises and disgusts me. There is a reason there are only a handful of countries in the world that operate under a communist regime. And those who live within those countries would be the first to tell you that communism doesn’t work. Not in the way that its supporters expect it to – by providing equal access to goods and services.
In a capitalist system, the people who benefit are the wealthy. People who have, in some way, earned their wealth. I’m not saying that everyone who ends up wealthy does so without exploiting others. And I’m not saying that everyone who is wealthy worked to earn the wealth – but someone in their family did and thus assured that family of wealth for generations to come.
In a communist system, the people who benefit are the party leaders. The government officials are appointed by the party itself, and thus, only the party interests are served. Communism is the easiest system of government to corrupt in the world. China, one of the few remaining countries, has managed to incorporate capitalism into communism, increasing the level of corruption found within the system as province leaders compete with one another to bring in the highest level of economic growth.
There are a lot of people who would argue that capitalism destroys the environment. While there is some truth to that statement, it isn’t right to overlook the fact that capitalist countries have lead the charge in environmental activism. Some of the largest cities in the world (like San Francisco, CA, and Calgary, Alberta) are among the cleanest and greenest places a person can live. In fact, research that has been done indicates that larger cities reduce environmental impact far better than remote towns do because of the decreased commute time.
Also, going back to capitalism for a second – it seems that G&R has forgotten that the US, while possessing a capitalist economy, uses the democratic republic system of government. Yes, economies influences government. That is true in every system of government that exists. Government is responsible for managing trade and policing goods.
Which brings me to my next point – communism’s fatal flaw. No communist system has yet been designed which properly defines the redistribution of goods. The only way to equally distribute goods in a closed system like communism is to have all goods transferred through a central point, allocated to different companies and individuals, and then distributed. The bottleneck that creates is the reason that communism has failed in so many countries.
I understand the desire to have equality when it comes to education, employment opportunity, and basic civil rights. However, I do not and cannot agree that every person in a country be rewarded the same amount of income for differing jobs when every person has differing skill sets. While I do believe all work is vital and necessary to life (and I do believe everyone should make, at bare minimum, a living wage), not all work is created equal. So not all income should be equal.
I work in a retail store. I spend hours folding and refolding clothes and making conversation with customers. I make $8/hr. Most of the time I’m working, I don’t feel like I’m working. In fact, I spend most of my time at work bored out of my mind. $8/hr is below the living wage required for this area, but I live in a place in the US where the wage gap is pretty extreme. However, this is essentially a summer job for me. For a lot of people who work there, the point of the job is to have a little extra spending money while going through college. Is it great? No, but it’s sufficient.
However, I don’t have the audacity to go up to a physicist who makes upwards of $40/hr and tell him (or her) that I should make the exact same amount of money for a job that requires vastly different skill-sets. That’s absolutely ridiculous. But that is exactly the sort of ridiculousness that communism proposes.
A physicist and a retail worker are not equal in terms of skill, so they should not be equal in terms of pay. I’m an aspiring mathematician, and, at some point, I will end up working for around $48/hr.
But that’s the benefit of living in a capitalist economy – you can find other jobs that pay better and provide better access to the necessities of life.
A few of the writers on G&R seem to have come from impoverished backgrounds, others from middle-class backgrounds. I’ve experienced both worlds, and I can say with confidence that the only thing that really separates the two classes is the determination of the middle class to do what it takes to survive. What seems to drive the lowest class is this incessant need to rail against the world around them for being unfair rather than standing up and fighting for their rights. When you become convinced that the world around you is out to get you, then what can you expect to see but a world that has become nothing but bleak and cruel.
One of the things that I have seen constantly throughout the years in many places where I have worked is the absolute terror of losing a job. If you allow fear to define your life, then of course you submit to oppressive policies and workplace conditions. It is, ironically, only when you stop worrying about losing a job that you become able to fight for the right to do that job under the conditions that you require to do it well.
Nothing is this more apparent than in fast food restaurants. I’ve worked in several chains, and when I entered the workforce, I too became one of those afraid of losing a job. I would go into work so sick I couldn’t see straight because I was told if I didn’t come in, I didn’t need to bother showing up. I drove on roads that terrified me in the middle of winter because I thought I needed the job that I had.
What changed that for me was when I worked in an office at the community college I attended. I set my schedule. I decided when I came in and when I didn’t. I learned that I was the one who set my priorities in life because I found a job where I couldn’t be fired. No matter how often I was absent, no matter how many times I changed my schedule, it was 100% my decision to make.
Now, I work in a retail store, and when something comes up in my life, I don’t let the fear of losing a job keep me from doing it. All that does is create resentment towards your employer and resentment towards your own set of circumstances. I try to abide by the guidelines of the company, as the people I work for are all really nice and very considerate of the needs of their employees (yes, I lucked out there), and I don’t like taking advantage of other people. However, when things happen in life, I tell them that I can’t work certain shifts, and we all work together to make sure that the shift is covered.
I don’t go up to one of my managers and ask them if it is okay if I don’t work a shift. That’s the mistake other people make. I go up to my managers and tell them I can’t work a shift, that there are other priorities in my life that take precedent. To those in the lower classes – and I know, because I used to feel this way too – being able to do that may seem like I am acting entitled. Or “above my station,” as I have often heard it put.
No. What I am doing is insisting on being treated like I’m a human being. I can’t work this Saturday because my grandmother’s 94th birthday party is being held, and I refuse to miss it for a scheduled shift at work. I can work other days. My grandmother’s 94th birthday only comes around once. This is what I mean by priorities.
I will admit that it is easy to get caught up in the flow of capitalism and feel that the only thing you’re supposed to do is work, never taking time for yourself. But every single person within this system has the right and the ability to decide what matters most to them. It is only fear that holds us back.
Someone on G&R argued that people are told they shouldn’t be angry – that they should just sit down, shut up, and deal with whatever comes their way. Maybe that’s true, but no one is forced to walk that route. If you don’t like the road you’re walking down, all you have to do is take a different road. Or, if you can’t find another road, step off the side and walk through the forest. It is only you who sets your path through life, so can we please stop blaming everything and everyone else?
9 thoughts on “Commentary on the Politics of G&R”
Gods and Radicals seems more concerned with driving up their views by attacking other Pagans and posting clickbait than it does anything else. I’m not sure they have an agenda beyond that.
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G&R are dangerous for the same reason that SJW are dangerous. They prey on people who haven’t yet learned how to filter out the logical fallacies they rely on, and thus, G&R creates a following that doesn’t really understand what it is that they are supporting. Just that it “sounds good on paper.” But there are a lot of things that “sound good on paper” (ahem, communism for example) that cannot be executed properly in the real world due to an inherent flaw that cannot always be seen in the theoretical stages.
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Like you, I’m pretty convinced that communism will never work in practice; however, it’s also true that many of the options and protections workers have today are the result of socialist policies (e.g., unions, worker’s comp, or the entire concept of “PTO”) that have been incorporated into our society since WWII. These protections weren’t always there, and there was a time when you really could have been fired just for saying you can’t work on your grandmother’s 94th birthday. That’s how things worked when we were still operating under pure capitalism. The thing I notice about the G&R folks as well as many of their loudest critics is that both seem to forget the fact that most Western countries today are neither purely capitalist nor purely socialist, but a mixture of both. I can mass-market a T-shirt of my own design and make tons of money (capitalism), but I can also call the fire department when there’s a fire, or enroll my kids in public school, or enjoy the beauty of a public metro park (which are all results of socialism). Call me crazy, but I like having it both ways personally; I wouldn’t want to live in a society where everyone is paid the same wage regardless of their work role or their qualifications, and I wouldn’t want to live in a society without public services or social safety nets either.
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Yeah, I agree with you on that. My political views are fairly complicated (all my views are), but I think that socialism works when done well (Canada, for example). I think there is a lot of exploitation of our social services (like welfare and unemployment benefits), and that needs to be addressed.
I won’t say that the system the U.S. uses is perfect – it has flaws, like every other system. But it would be nice if people would stop complaining about how terrible the world is that we live in (which seems to be G&R’s main agenda) and start offering solutions that work within the system. The best way to change anything, after all, is by working from inside the system. Want to change education? Become an educator. Want to change welfare practices? Become a social worker. Sure, there are limitations in place that you have to fight with and work around, but that’s part of what makes change worth fighting towards. Change doesn’t come easily, and insisting that a system needs to be overhauled instead of improved (especially by a system like communism which suffers from the fatal flaw of central distribution) seems like wasted effort.
There are a lot of things that the authors of G&R rail against, but there are few who ever seem to actually go out into the real world and attempt to really change things. It’s like, instead, they are content to sit at their computers and write all these things and expect others to jump on the bandwagon and do the work for them.
From what I can tell, they don’t actively go out and protest capitalism. When House Bill 2 was passed in North Carolina, the outrage was incredible. Not even 12 hours after it had passed, there were protests happening in front of the courthouse in my town. That is the type of behavior someone who truly wants to see change happen engages in – they don’t just write blog posts and hope to sway people to their way of thinking. As of yet, I have seen no evidence to suggest that any of the writers at G&R are so opposed to capitalism that they can’t stand to sit on the sidelines and do nothing. That’s why their politics drives me crazy. It’s nothing but talk.
And I respond to it because I feel that there needs to be people who say, “Hey, look, don’t fall prey to people who want to tell you how to think. Make decisions for yourself.” Because brainwashing is bad, no matter the source.
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Ironically, it is my understanding that Rhyd is, in fact, a social worker.
I was aware of that, and I find it surprising that he is able to keep a government job when he has obvious anti-government sentiments.
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I suspect he is one of those people that you just can’t trust any farther than you can throw them, and that his face with his job and certain of his friends is VASTLY different than his G&R face. I would even suspect his coworkers know better than to trust him, having been burned once or twice. I base this merely on his writings and responses to others. And having had a government job at one time. The people who did well were the most sociopathic it seemed.
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The best economic systems are those which have a variety of systems present. The US is not a totally capitalistic economy. Pure capitalism/Wall Street also needs to be regulated. Greed in all its forms is also present in all economic systems. The key is to keep it low. Greed leads to all sorts of abuses of power.
Yeah, I agree. A diverse economic system is better than an economic monoculture. And I do agree that Wall Street and the larger corporations in the US need to be better monitored and regulated, but that is something that we as a country need to address. And we can’t address it at all if we do as G&R would have us do and embrace a communist culture. Capitalism can only be renovated by capitalists. The social services we have in the US today were driven by the demands of the workforce. The US was founded on revolution and the need to be free from oppression. There’s no way we will roll over and just take what’s dished out. I think that many of the writers for G&R have failed to see the strength inherent in the citizenry of this country. If our government and economy have become a mess, then we, as a people, have allowed it to become this way. And we, as a people, have the responsibility to turn it into something we can be proud of.
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