It’s amazing how much people in general can shift their views with enough time and psychic manipulation. “Communism is weakness on stilts” is something I wrote in an online forum four years ago here. I was apparently debating “religion vs. the will to power” on philosophyforums.com. I got the phrase from Jeremy Bentham who once wrote that the concept of human rights was “nonsense upon stilts”.
Yet communism today means something completely different to me than it did four years ago. Earlier this year while I worked in the “paper factory” (as I liked to call it) my co-workers were complaining about Obama’s stimulus package and his alleged communism, and the fact that he is a Marxist. Just to be a thorn, I told them I was a communist and that Obama – if he is communist indeed – was an extremely bad one. I explained that communism is a free association of people working in cooperation to achieve common goals, who collectively own what they use to achieve those goals. A commune, I explained, is self-managed and collectively owned. Hence communism is a way of life that exercises and integrates collectivity, that is, into the organization of the commune. People can live in communes, work in communes, and communes are not reliant on “state power” as they have wrongly been associated with.
Hell, I said, if we decided we did not need our manager anymore and realized we could collectively own and manage this paper factory ourselves, we would be communists too.
A light went on in their heads. Suddenly communism did not seem like such a far-off idea. It seemed reasonable, even possible. Our generation does not identify with the role of ‘the worker’ like our grandparents did, so transcending the worker-capitalist dichotomy is easy. And perhaps this is the reason why many working people have found the idea of communism so salvific: sometimes it feels closer than an arm’s length away. Not communism the way the media talks about it, but communism in the most charitable and basic sense. Without communism life has become alienating, not being able to manage ourselves, not being able to experience those partnerships with other human beings, instead condemned only to fellowship in a stagnant church. The church – as Dietrich Bonhoeffer idealized about a “Christian community” – is maybe the closest thing resembling the commune. It is no wonder people flock to churches feeling depressed about their lives under late Fordist capitalism (yes, late and still Fordist for most people.)
The problem with Zarathustra, however, is that to capitalist pigs he is a capitalist pig. To liberal democrats he is the patron saint of human rights. To buddhists he is a boddhisatva. To communists he is proto-communist.
With four years’ rationalization, communism to me is ultimately an expression of strength: a will to overcome the society locked by modern conditions of production. “Man is born free, but is everywhere in chains.” Free to associate, but is everywhere dominated by the invisible demands of capital. Communism in our personal lives, then, is a will to power. Free association of any sort is a will to power, but especially in communism, since it is a transvaluation of all values hitherto experienced in modern society. Hence communism is for the stronger willed. Zarathustra calls upon his brethren to have strength. He does not have an ethics, because a system of ethics is a substitute for power. He only has a call to indiscriminate strength. The world is will to power — and nothing besides! You can be weak person anywhere – whatever you do – and you can be strong person anywhere. At a very profound level, the will to overcome a power beyond us and replace it with our own power – is nothing less than the strength of Zarathustra.