Must money define me?
Capitalism wants me to see myself as a consumer, demanding things be cheaper, bigger, better, faster, and, well, even cheaper still. Socialism, and Communism, on the other hand, want me to see myself as being, well, a worker, demanding more pay, more holiday pay, more sick pay, the same pay for fewer hours, the same pay for less stress. Whilst I do prefer the latter approach, it doesn’t really feel like its a different way of seeing the world, merely a counter argument designed to perpetuate an underlying norm; that ones economic role in society is ones primary definition.
You’re going to have to excuse the lack of a citation here, but I do distinctly remember Marx saying something about the importance of simplifying everything down to two kinds of economic actor so it becomes easier to observe roles through time and to alter them. Having correctly identified that people were essentially “haves” and have-nots”, i.e. they either own the means by which to get rich, or are subjected to the whims of the bosses who do, he then argues for some kind of liberation that seems to me to be entirely based on reinforcing economic definition. Essentially, I will remain merely an economic actor on the other side of the great glorious revolution that he felt should occur.
Perhaps its the supposed implication of a left-wing Christianity having its impression on idealistic me, but the idea that money shouldn’t rule my life, shouldn’t be the thing that defines me, is something I hold quite dear. I don’t always get it right, indeed I’ve spent a fair while lately worrying that money is starting to define me, that I’m now worried my opposition to being defined by money will define me, and drive my life choices, and I will be locked in the troubles of counter-definition, definition through what I am not, thus definition at the hands of that which I wish to see the back of, a perpetuation of the cycle of becoming and unbecoming… with all the attached troubles of being ‘defined in opposition’, the combination of pervasive negativity ruling ones existence and of remaining the subject of that which one is trying to resist (Holloway, Change the World without taking power; to fail to cite it would be pure plagiarism).
One of the driving messages of internationalist socialism seems to be that people should abandon everything and anything that gets between them except for their economic status, essentially denying people any of the building blocks of their own being as a human being, leaving them only their wallet, or lack thereof, to define them. In trying to prove that I am no different to a worker in Argentina, Russia or China, our vast cultural differences are shattered; there is nothing exciting to be discovered in our encounter, its simply a case of “oh look, another worker being screwed over”. Solidarity becomes the search for the lowest common denominator, and the idea of “No War Except the Class War” becomes an argument that I shall be “Worker” and nothing else. All cultural references become a hindrance to this great unity, and thus many modern incarnations of these views have little or no cultural output worth mentioning (have you ever heard the Stop the War charity singles? Just dire!).
As a Christian Anarchist, an activist, a citizen of York and Yorkshire, as an Anglican who’s about as confused as to where he fits on the church spectrum as the Anglican Church is, a Geek and a lot more besides, I am a unique being (as I keep being reminded) amongst a sea of people who have intrinsic worth far beyond that which economics can define. So I propose a revolution in which people seek not a change in economic definitions, but an abandonment of them, a searching for life beyond money, and a community of people with unique worth instead of common economic value, can thrive in continual sharing and communication, a far more communist idea than any proposed by those who wish to offer a simple counter to capitalist identifications.