Robert Turnbull: I guess I’ll start with a rather mundane question. How are you?
Jason Miller: I just looked at some horrific photos of extremely sick and emaciated people who suffer from a drug-resistant strain of TB and AIDS, so I’m feeling blessed because I’m relatively healthy and able to employ my personal strengths to carry o ut my purpose on Earth.
RT: What is that you consider your purpose on Earth to be?
JM: It’s multi-faceted and complex, but if I distill it to its essence and put it succinctly, my primary purpose on Earth is to strive for two causes: animal liberation and socialism.
I realize that socialism is a loaded word, particularly in our benighted land here in the US. But as we talk you’ll get a better sense of what I mean when I talk about socialism, which I use as a bit of a catch-all term to describe a more logical and just way of interacting socially, politically and economically.
RT: What do you say to socialism’s critics who argue that it has failed each time it’s been tried and that it’s utopian in nature, and therefore impossible to implement?
JM: Capitalism has predominated for a couple hundred years, give or take. Obviously we don’t live in a black and white world, so the line blurs a bit between feudalism,20 mercantilism, and capitalism as one traces the arc of socioeconomic history. Even capitalism itself has passed through a number of phases and can be described in a number of ways, depending on one’s perspective—think of industrial capitalism, finance capitalism (that brought us the $700 billion ‘bailout’), relatively unfettered ‘free markets’ (that gave us the Robber Barons, child labor, slave wages, deadly consumer products, horrific working conditions, monopolies, trusts and the like—the ‘good old days’), a mixed economy (which means a heavy dose of capitalism slightly mitigated with just enough socialism to keep capitalism’s inevitable crises from collapsing the system and to keep the masses in check), monopoly capitalism (Microsoft and Wal-Mart), corporate capitalism and more. By both moral and practical standards, capitalism is an abject failure. Concentrating the wealth and power in the hands of a few while 35,000 people starve to death each day is unconscionable and attempted infinite growth on a finite planet is a recipe for disaster.
Robert Turnbull is a radical activist residing in northeastern Kansas. He has penned numerous political commentaries under a nom de guerre, which he decided to shelve for this interview.
Jason Miller is the indefatigable associate editor of Cyrano’s Journal Online. His main turf is Thomas Paine’s Corner, Cyrano’s largest blog. He performs numerous editorial, administrative and promotional tasks, including CJO’s newsletter, Mind Detox.