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Three Critical Glances at Society

Cafes are just the legal shop where you buy your uppers, keep you going, increase productivity, and build that bottom line. No wonder it is filled with artists, poets, and would-be philosophers. All of them must work triple-time to pay the bills, not to mention needing to catch up from the last break down. Capital disparages them all, forsakes them to the tombs with caffeine and a shwooooooooo of the milk being steamed.

Coffee spread, like a wildfire with a heavy wind and a long drought, across the world as the capitalist empire planted its seed everywhere it could to extract more and more profit. So, while it breeds creativity and sedition, it profits the system that needs to be broken. As London writes, “we are faced here with Marx’s outrage: coffee can be a global social good but it has not lived up to its potential.” What do we expect of a product who brought haciendas, latifundistas, and the genocide and slavery of European conquest to the shores of the world. Coffee, sugar, gold!

We should reimagine Folgers commercial jingle, “The worst part of waking up, is colonialism in your cup!”

***

My earliest political memory is with my father. He is a wise man. Read, but not well, his time spent providing for family and friend alike. Wise, because he has extrapolated from experience the fight he confronts. His lesson quite simple, a lyric from Pink Floyd’s “Us And Them”, “With, without, and who’ll deny that’s what the fightings all about.” More elite thinkers would call this vulgar Marxism. My father would call it truth.

It is capitalist civilization’s rule, or possibly its virus. A lot of pain and suffering have occurred to uphold this foolish battle; a lot of blood, a lot of trauma. This horrendous maxim of “forget all but self” corrupts us. It is a deadening weight pulling us under, tearing us apart. It divides, and as it divides, it ruins. It becomes a capricious daily life. A world built on the lie of an “invisible hand

We should illuminate the dystopic reality, the zeal to which elites fight to maintain their power. For if Pink Floyd’s “Us and Them” is right, the lines between us are arbitrary, only important to those who benefit from them. Instead, we should be like Jennifer Connelly in The Labyrinth, yelling at the Goblin King, “You have no power over me!” We dictate the debate, the struggle. By recognizing such an elementary truth, we can combat the twin evils of capitalism and imperialism. We can resist it. We can overcome it.

My father’s wisdom remains with me. A political memory has become the first brick in a socialist political philosophy that recognizes equality as fundamental. My belief, my faith, is in our ability to govern ourselves, and become “with”, together. This has always been the crux of anarchism for me. My freedom ends at the beginning of someone else’s freedom. I am my brother’s keeper. We are together one, and we move as a unit.

Such dreams come from the aesthetic beauty of a simple commentary. We should take more seriously such truths.

***

Usufruct – “1. the legal right of using and enjoying the fruits or profits of something belonging to another; 2. the right to use or enjoy something”

Merriam-Webster has forgotten to add to their definitions that usufruct is also the holding and use of property in common.

Usufruct as a property relation so unknown that Google and Microsoft Word treat it as a chance to use “spell correct”, underlined red, marked as wrong to ever believe property could be held in common. Capitalist ideology pervades your computer. And of course it would, when Bill Gates penned an ode to proprietary software, a python-like legal stranglehold to extract every ounce of profit.

In agrarian policy we can look towards Cuba what a usufruct policy can look. Lucy Martín writes that “Beginning in 1993 individual families were given up to 27 hectares of land in free and permanent usufruct to grow specialty crops… urban area individuals were given small plots of land (.25 hectares) to grow food for themselves and their neighbors.”

To grow food in common, what a nifty idea. May usufruct proliferate around the world.

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Andrew Smolski is a writer and sociologist.

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