No philanthropy, thanks; we’re leftists


The other day, Alexandria “She Guevara” Ocasio Cortez took to Twitter to complain how her “abuela” (grandma) in Puerto Rico is still living in deplorable conditions, four years after Hurricane Maria devastated the island, all because the mean Donald Trump blocked part of the relief and reconstruction funding. Never mind the corruption and mismanagement of the aid by Puerto Rico’s ruling Democratic Party establishment, or that the Orange Man has not been President for a while now; many commentators have suggested that perhaps as a relatively well-off person AOC could – and should – have helped her grandma herself, instead of using her as a political prop to bash the conservatives. There was even an abortive fundraiser created:

As the left-wing “Independent” described it, it was a financial assault:

As more than one person online wistfully noted, “I wish someone would personally attack me with $100,000”. Hey Matt Walsh, my imaginary grandma still lives in appalling privation in Poland, subsisting on a few lumps of coal and boiled crochet. How about it?

A bit earlier back, questions have been asked about the $5 billion raised and pledged to various “racial justice” groups on the back of George Floyd’s death at the hands of the police, including hundreds of millions accumulated by various chapters of Black Lives Matter. Has that money actually been used to help the black lives in any tangible sense, or is it all just financing the vast “racial justice” industry, including possibly contributing to a multi-million real estate shopping spree by the Marxist BLM co-founder Patrisse Khan-Cullors and her wife, Janaya Khan, the co-founder of BLM in Canada. To each according to their need, as Karl Marx himself had once wisely said about communism, and clearly Ms Khan-Cullors’ needs are quite big.

Well may we laugh about (and be disgusted by) the hypocrisy, corruption and indifference shown by prominent members of the left towards the very people they supposedly care about. But it would be to miss the broader point relating to how the left views the world, the role of politics, and the place of the individual.

It might surprise many that the caring and compassionate left isn’t actually all that big on philanthropy and charity, i.e. people helping other people. What could be wrong with that? Wouldn’t the world be a better place if even more people helped even more other people? Well, no, the left would say, because it’s not something that people should be doing in the first place; it’s not their responsibility. It is up to the state to solve all the social and economic problems; our role as citizens (as well as, thanks to the open borders advocates, non-citizens) is to be the grateful recipients of the government’s largesse. For the more elite group (no pun intended) – “the rich” – their role is to pay for all this with their taxes. Private initiative is by its very nature limited and patchy; only the all-seeing and all-powerful state can ensure that everyone who needs “free” assistance (and that’s literally everyone) gets it in a comprehensive, uniform and fair way. Hence, AOC won’t lift a finger to help her grandmother because it’s the state’s duty to help everyone rebuild their lives after a natural disaster. Occasional Cortex already contributes with her taxes on the hard-earned Congressional salary, and in any case, she’s not some billionaire, you know.

With that attitude, needless to say, you won’t be surprised to learn that much of what goes for the left-wing philanthropy does not actually go to help those in need to solve their problems and provide them what they are lacking. Instead, it is largely channels to finance political agitation by the activist-industrial complex to make the government (whether through lobbying, campaigning or helping elect sympathetic law-makers) take responsibility instead. That’s what people like Soros, Laurene Powell-Jobs (Steve Jobs’ widow) and MacKenzie Scott (Jeff Bezos’ ex) are all about – billions spent to create more activist jobs to agitate for the state to create more public sector jobs to run the “Big Daddy”.

But it goes deeper than that, back to Marx himself in fact and to his analysis of what’s wrong with the world and how to fix it. According to Marxism, both in its original class-based iteration and the more recent race/gender/sexuality variants, every society is divided into two mutually antagonistic groups: the powerful oppressors and the powerless oppressed, with the society structured in the interest of the former by facilitating in every possible way the exploitation and keeping down of the latter. Thus, all the problems, ills and injustices are “systemic” in nature; they are a feature, not a bug. To solve them and so to help the downtrodden you need to overthrow the entire old unjust system and build a new one that benefits the masses. Based on this sort of understanding of the world – to which, coincidentally, people like AOC and BLM founders all subscribe – any private charity is bound to be ineffectual and shortcoming. After all, what can a person, however generous with their money and time – even if there are multitudes of them – do to solve problems that are the direct (and intended) consequence of the way the society has been set up? Nothing, of course. You can’t mend it, you have to end it. But not only is it naïve and pointless to try, it’s actually counter-productive and therefore positively wrong. Because while no philanthropic effort can solve systemic problems, it can actually provide some limited and temporary relief. Such relief, however, by its very nature is a band-aid solution, i.e. not a solution at all. All it does it momentarily numbs the pain, and that is bad, because the oppressed masses need to feel the pain and feel it good in order to spur them into revolutionary action to overthrow their oppressors and on the ruins of the old build the utopian new society of equality and justice. This is the far-left’s accelerationism: the worse it gets, the better it gets (for the prospects of radical change). If not exactly an incentive to help make conditions worse, it’s certainly an incentive to stand back and rejoice as the internal contradictions of capitalism worsen and thus bring the society step by step closer to popular explosion. This is the reason why Marxists have always been hostile not only to charity (the more bottom-level efforts to help others) and philanthropy (the rich oppressors trying to buy some social peace with the fraction of the money stolen from the oppressed) but also to any gradual reform by the state. Hence the frequent historical hostility (suspended, if needed, for opportunistic reasons) between communists and “democratic socialists” – the original intra-German debate between Marx and Bernstein. The violent revolution is still the preferred option for some, including the Antifa movement, but the majority of the socialist left (including Bernie and AOC) are committed to a peaceful and democratic transition from capitalism to socialism. Nevertheless, they retain the original Marxist disdain for any private and individual effort to help fellow human beings as pointless and a distraction from the main task of precipitating systemic change.

God helps those who help themselves, says the old proverb. But in the world run by the left not only is God dead but God help you if you help others or yourself! The state is God and it’s its job to help, you puny ignorant human.

Photo by Katt Yukawa on Unsplash