Monday, July 29, 2013

Workers of the World...

“Workers of the world unite; you have nothing to lose but your chains.”
This was one of the most important slogans of the communist manifesto written by Karl Marx in 1848. Communism failed, of course, but don’t you find it strange that this slogan is just as appropriate t today as it was in 1848? What does it tell you about how far we have come from those difficult days of naked capitalistic exploitation? Doesn’t it strike you as strange that at this very moment in time Fast Food workers all over the country are striking for “living wages,” at least double what they are presently earning, and what is obviously far too little to feed a family or even themselves? Don’t you find it unacceptable that apparently four out of five adults in the United States live paycheck to paycheck, barely staying afloat in “the most wealthy country on earth," that children are going hungry from day to day, that poverty has now become endemic in our nation?
How can this possibly be when we have such a wonderful capitalistic society:
The problem of social organization is how to set up an arrangement under which greed will do the least harm, capitalism is that kind of a system.

“America's abundance was created not by public sacrifices to the common good, but by the productive genius of free men who pursued their own personal interests and the making of their own private fortunes. They did not starve the people to pay for America's industrialization. They gave the people better jobs, higher wages, and cheaper goods with every new machine they invented, with every scientific discovery or technological advance- and thus the whole country was moving forward and profiting, not suffering, every step of the way.” 
 Ayn Rand

Curiously, at least I find it curious, for every positive quote you can find about capitalism you can probably find fifty or more that expose it for the greedy, cannibalistic, unfair, explotive, dysfunctional system it truly is. And yet, we have it, promote it, glory in it, and defend it as the greatest economic system ever conceived. This is finally, I think, beginning to change. More and more workers are striking for decent wages, there is an increasing interest in unions, the situation for the middle class and the working poor has finally become so dismal it can no longer be tolerated. The gap between rich and poor has become so obscene it can no longer be tolerated. But as we are in the grips of a fascist conspiracy between government and corporations the road ahead will be difficult indeed.  And if, unlike many other nations, we eschew violence to bring about change, it will be a time-consuming and frustrating experience.

I cannot help but think of that depressing scene in Dr. Zhivago when he returns home to find his mansion occupied by several families. I wonder how many families could be comfortable in the seven or so homes owned by John McCain, or the “x” number owned by Romney, or the enormous homes so typical now of the wealthy (where the books in the library are often still in their plastic covers)?
In fact, our form of capitalism has not worked. It has been a disaster. It has been so rapacious and greedy it  has not only produced a nation of paupers and peasants, overseen by corporate and wealthy “masters,” it is quite likely on its way to destroying life on our tiny planet.
“A castaway in the sea was going down for the third time when he caught sight of a passing ship. Gathering his last strength, he waved frantically and called for help. Someone on board peered at him scornfully and shouted back, "Get a boat!” 
Daniel Quinn

No comments: