‘LIBERTY! EQUALITY! FRATERNITY!’ (Liberté, Égalité, Fraternité) The slogan and promise of the French Revolution which ushered in on a mass scale a radical new social order which was said to deliver on this promise: capitalism. However no one can deny that even the fundamental sentiments of this promise have been squandered, bastardized and repudiated by bourgeois society. Indeed capitalism has brought forth advancements and innovations far beyond that of the past 3000 years before it combined- even it’s most thorough critics did not deny this fact. It was a necessary advancement beyond feudalism and should be seen as such, but clearly it has not delivered on its promise and a better world which does deliver on these sentiments is still possible. Let us examine how modern society bastardizes and repudiates the promise that capitalism would deliver these things by analyzing how society emulates them (or lack thereof):
Our society edited ‘equality’ out of the revolutionary slogan of ‘LIBERTY, EQUALITY, FRATERNITY‘. Equality (meaning the equal chance to succeed in life) is demonized, called ‘socialism’, one of the most misunderstood and bastardized ideas in the world today- and the reason for this is clear. Equality is not a component of capitalist society and can never be. Equality is something which completely betrays the concept of the ownership of private enterprise and bourgeois society. It is utterly and completely impossible under capitalism. Because 62 people own more wealth than the bottom HALF of humanity (3.5 BILLION) it became necessary to substitute equality for superiority, for social darwinism which utterly betrays human empathy, compassion and reason. Equality is not something that can come out of a system fundamentally based on the privilege of the few to own and enrich themselves on the fruits of the labor of working people. It is a system fundamentally based on inequality, on exploitation. Equality exists only for the rich. It’s considered a social norm that people can afford to eat, yet 1 in 5 children in our own country still go hungry. Hunger is turned away from, the poor- instead of going hungry because of famine as was the case in the past are merely discarded like trash. There is too much food to sell. Restaurants and grocery stores throw out their surplus of food, why? Because they can’t turn a profit off of it. If we abolished this ludicrous sentiment of placing profits before people world hunger could be abolished in a decades time. But why don’t we do so? Because it is not profitable (in the monetary sense of the word), yet abolishing world hunger would be more valuable to humankind than any previous social program. As Dom Helder Camara said, “When I give food to the poor they call be a saint. When I ask why the poor have no food they call me a communist”. A well-fed man is a thinking man while a hungry man only longs for food. Imagine the innovative potential which is squandered by this grave evil. Equality in our society is nonexistent. In fact the world today has more inequality than ever before in human history.
No doubt liberty in bourgeois society is only enjoyed by the rich, as to have liberty you must have capital. To roam and exist freely you can be nothing less than wealthy. While I am extremely critical of the man, J.V. Stalin summed up the lack of liberty in bourgeois society quite well saying, “It is difficult for me to imagine what “personal liberty” is enjoyed by an unemployed hungry person. True freedom can only be where there is no exploitation and oppression of one person by another; where there is not unemployment, and where a person is not living in fear of losing his job, his home and his bread. Only in such a society personal and any other freedom can exist for real and not on paper.” We praise the statue of liberty as an American and French icon, liberty is a fundamental pillar in our society. Yet that pillar is truncated, and false. It is a deception to the poor and a blessing to the rich.
Because of the predatory and competitive nature of the capitalist machine, fraternity in capitalist society is but a pipe-dream. It cannot be achieved so long as man is turned against his fellow man in the accumulation of capital and so long as thousands of independent, competing enterprises exist in such an anarchistic economic order- one which “booms and busts like man sighs and breaths”, as Trotsky said. Frederick Engels summed up the ludicrous nature of capitalist competition in The Dialectics of Nature saying, “Darwin did not know what a bitter satire he wrote on mankind, and especially on his countrymen, when he showed that free competition, the struggle for existence, which the economists celebrate as the highest historical achievement, is the normal state of the animal kingdom. Only conscious organization of social production, in which production and distribution are carried on in a planned way, can elevate mankind above the rest of the animal world socially in the same way that production in general has done this for man specifically. Historical development makes such an organization daily more indispensable, but also with everyday more possible. From it will date a new epoch of history, in which mankind itself, and with mankind all branches of its activity, and especially natural science, will experience an advance before which everything preceding it will pale in insignificance.” Indeed, the order of society itself is just that- animal, a sort of disorganized organization. But what does any of this have to do with fraternity? Because workers are competing against one another, they are not uniting amongst themselves to achieve a common goal. In uniting they achieve a sense of fraternity. The alienating character of capitalism is not one which can provide any sense of common goal making or common unity in the workplace. The workers only share in their common suffering, their common exploitation, their common expropriation of labor by the capitalist class. Fraternity is impossible without equality, not absolute egalitarianism by any means but rather equal chance to succeed in life instead of one person gaining an unfair advantage to succeed in life by class, race, religion, gender, etc. It does not mean that everyone gets paid the same but rather that everyone has an equal chance and with the abolition of capitalism the wage-gap is substantially reduced to the point where real fraternity is truly possible among all members of society regardless of wealth as no one is entitled by property right to the fruits of the labor by another. Not only can he not profit off another’s labor, but he cannot live off it and moreover he cannot amass such a fortune off of someone else’s work to find himself among a small elite of less than a hundred men which owns more than half the world. Strange times are these when bellies full of food and access to not only abundant running water but luxuries and technologies beyond the wildest dreams of our ancestors and yet kindness and fraternity are still considered a virtue- a rare trait to be found in society. One would reason that such advancements would bring people together more rapidly than any previous social era. We have no food to fight over- so why is there still war? We have substituted the pursuit of food for that of capital- the pursuit of which manifests itself as a thirst that can never be quenched: greed. Food of course, is not readily available in society though our current struggle for food pales in comparison to that of 9/10 of human prehistory. Wars today are not over food, they are fought over money, over profit, they are imperialist wars. Modern society is more divided by class than by culture, it is more divided by class than by nationality, more divided by class than gender, than religion, than ethnicity, than any other social subset which divides us. We must work to abolish these differences. Only in such a society can society inscribe upon its banner ‘LIBERTY! EQUALITY! FRATERNITY!‘. Only in a socialist society can we work towards these ends, and only can they be fully realized in a stateless, classless communist society where freedom for all truly reigns. Let us openly declare that these three sentiments were not attained and cannot be attained under capitalism, to work towards a better world which truly provides for all, which puts human needs above greed and the pursuit of capital. A better world is possible, now more than ever.