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With their tanks

Sometimes I feel that I’ve said it all here on my homepage, but every now and then I remember some huge topic that I need to get into a li’l more. It’s time to talk about tankies! That’s right, after alienating my ancom friends it’s now time to do the same to the tankie readership!

Tankies are ostensibly leftists who sided with state socialism after the failed Second International era (1889–1916) and who agree with the Soviet union’s decision to send tanks to brutally crush Hungary’s 1956 attempts to introduce a democratic socialist political system based upon land reform and public state ownership in the economy. There was also similar tank crushery in Czechoslovakia twelve years later but since Dubček’s Prague Spring program was considerably more wack than the Hungarian MEFESZ’s ideas let’s set that aside for the moment. I’m not saying the Prague Spring was as wack as the Stalinist system, it’s just that the proposed MEFESZ reforms were pretty nifty and are much easier to defend so that’s where I wanna start.

Tankies suck obviously and I’m sick of seeing them everywhere in leftist spaces. On the other hand, anti-tankie slogans can often also suck and be an excuse for laissez-faire libs who just wanna spend spend spend since they read “there’s no ethical consumption under capitalism” as if were a giant “Sale! 50% off!” sign. Sometimes I see anti-tankie slogans and I flinch a li’l bit because I figure that the person might be someone who is clinging to all of ancom’s flaws.

Tankies and ancoms are both primarily concerned with how (or whether) we should be creating and enforcing policies. I don’t get super worked up about the distinction because in the age of the burning marble I’m just as concerned with creating sustainable economics.

Unlike ancom, tankies have historically utterly failed in the goal of addressing the workers vs owners political cleavage. Meet the new boss, same as the old boss. Workers are just as exploited.

Corruption in politics is a huge meta-issue that has plagued pretty much all ideological platforms from social democracy to thatcherism. Either the rich have an undue influence, or, the people who have influence make themselves rich. Tankism is sure as heckfire not an exception to that.

But exactly like ancoms, tankies have not been very good at addressing exploitation of externalities a.k.a. the fossil economy. Tankie states like Libya and North Korea have been pretty darn eager to drill & burn.

Don’t misread me as saying the right wing is OK. I’m on the left (and culturally my home is associated with the anarchopunk left because that’s where I came up) because the right wing don’t even admit that the problem is a problem—it’s a characteristic of the right wing to try to rephrase any economic problem or injustice as “that’s a good thing actually”. The left is the side that clearly realizes that capitalism does have bugs and some of those bugs have escalated to the point of tearing the planet apart.

But the problem is that the left doesn’t have much in the way of solutions.

The core of the fascist idea is to shift the political discourse cleavage from “workers vs owners” to other forms of “us vs them” while laughing all the way to the bank. We’ve seen this happen within tankism also (Juche as a contemporary example and the Red Khmer historically) where the focus isn’t only on the ostensible attempt to stop worker exploitation but also to further strife along ethnic or national lines. I can see why MAGA chose the color red for their hats.

Let’s end on some awesome notes since this has been a bit of a downer trip. What do we want instead of tankism? Leaving the fossils in the ground. Degrowth. Sustainability. New economics neither focused on growth nor burdened by artificial scarcity. An open and just society. A policy-making structure that can handle global-level events (like climate change) while still being pluralistic. Flexible and robust approaches to distributing tasks and labor without plundering the Earth.

Let’s keep at it, folks.♥︎
I know there is love.


After posting this I went to a tankie site and looked at the first page of headlines and what did I see? Clearheaded analysis of the real problem (capitalism, capitalist exploitation, the American FPTP, Dems and GQP as “good cop bad cop” while Dems drill drill drill and whip whip whip all the way to the bank) but no self-awareness of how tankie states have also been driven by exploitation&power, nor anything in terms of solutions. And, in the comment section, a creepily hefty dose of oligarch regime invasion apologetics. Not into it.

I don’t wanna get sucked into a whole tankie flamewar because obviously the true enemy is capitalism which we need to patch or replace, IDGAF which.