Dear A Leftist™,
What’s with leftists hating people who make money and are successful?
It’s okay to win
Dear It’s okay to win,
From resisting the culture of rise and grind to railing against exploitative practices that come with most entrepreneurship, leftists can be seen as averse to #Winning. This is in part because the work of a leftist is to resist and replace capitalist cultural norms that favor exploitation and competition with community and communally focused value systems.
Apart from the cultural norms however, one of the traps of our current system is that we all must participate in it to some extent. This means that most anti-capitalists believe that it’s okay to work toward some level of success by earning a wage that meets your individual needs.* On the flip side of that coin, your question really asks where the limits of our hypocrisy lie and why. Is it okay to work for a tech company that sells cars while also claiming to fight for labor and ecological justice? Can one be a landlord and fight for housing as a human right? Must all folks with wealth redistribute it or be branded hoarders rather than class traitors?
To be clear, it isn’t inherently bad to work for and earn a high wage. However, in our current society, making and/or having large amounts of money is almost exclusively tied to taking advantage of people either at a local or global level. In addition, with a certain level of success comes the common practice of isolating oneself within a bubble of commodities and people in a way that is counter to creating change on an individual or societal level.
These limits of your participation in capitalism, as well as where you define the limits of those in your social circles, are questions that must be dealt with in order to be an accomplice in any radical movement. Limits may vary around the margins of communal, anticapitalist values, but without thought, investigation, and establishing boundaries, the trap of civility politics is set, and you end up beholden to your “friends” in the capitalist class rather than fighting against them. Yuck.
To struggle against capitalism while participating in it is inherently filled with contradiction but also impossible to avoid. To answer your question with a question**: Where are the limits of your admiration and approval of those who are successful within a capitalist system which is exploitative by nature? How do your relationships prevent you from or allow you to participate publicly in mass, worker led movements?
*Unless you’re someone who likes the extreme and extremely stupid argument of “Got ya! If you hate capitalism so much, why do you have a job and/or any possessions at all?”
**Ask a Leftist is duly embarrassed by this rhetorical flourish. It will not happen again for at least 3 columns.
A Leftist is the author of the wildly popular advice column “Ask A Leftist™”.