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Anti-Capitalist Meetup: Women and Solidarity … United, We Must Stand! by NY Brit Expat

2:33 pm in Uncategorized by Anti-Capitalist Meetup

I have recently been thinking a lot about building a feminist movement irrespective of our differences of analysis and experiences of oppression and exploitation. As I often do when looking for assistance, I turned to those that have experience and a wealth of information hoping to learn from them. This time, I turned to Bell Hooks (Feminist Theory: from Margin to Center), for inspiration and she provided so many brilliant insights, that I am going to reference some of her many ideas throughout this piece.
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Feminism is often defined as a movement and an analysis that maintains that women must have equality in the economic, social, cultural and political spheres. It has never really been a singular movement; it is more correctly defined as a collection of movements trying to achieve the aims of equality for women in various spheres. The need for this movement derives from the clear inequality that women face on a daily level whether in the home, at work, in ability to access things from the most basic fundamental right of controlling one’s own body to accessing the same work at the same pay as men, from equal and shared responsibility for household labour and raising children to accessing the political sphere on an equal level to men.

That however only addresses part of the issue, as inequality with men in political, social, economic and cultural sphere is only part of the problem. If we are looking for a definition of feminism, I would actually go for a broader definition; we need a movement that addresses women’s oppression. In order to address that, it is not merely inequality that is the problem that feminists must address; rather it is the nature itself of women’s oppression and how to eradicate that oppression.
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While there are certainly disagreements among feminists on their understanding of the causes of women’s oppression and how to address it, there is no question that we agree on the fundamental idea that in a world rife with inequality, women still face oppressions that are specific to their sex and/or gender. The understanding of women’s oppression is further complicated by the fact that women’s oppression affects women differently due to different class backgrounds, their different experiences of racism, access to wealth and political power. The aims of the different strands of the movement and their understanding of women’s oppression reflect those differences.
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On some issues, clearly we can agree and fight together to obtain reforms. On others, our different histories, classes and experiences produce different needs and hence require different solutions and coming together cannot happen.

Finding commonality to build a broad movement

“Women’s legacy of women-hating, which includes fierce, brutal, verbal tearing apart of one another, has to be eliminated if women are to make critiques and engage in disagreement and arguments that are constructive and caring, with the intention of enriching rather than diminishing. Women-to-women negative, aggressive behavior is not unlearned when all critical judgment is suspended. It is unlearned when women accept that we are different, that we will necessarily disagree, but that we can disagree and argue with one another without acting as if we are fighting for our lives, without feeling that we stand to lose all self-esteem by verbally trashing someone else. Verbal disagreements are often the setting where women can demonstrate their engagement with the win-or-lose competitiveness that is most often associated with male interaction, especially in the arena of sports. Women, like men, must learn how to dialogue with one another without competition. [...] (Hooks, p. 65)”

There have always been differences in the movement; that has always been the case from the beginnings: liberal feminists and socialist feminists disagreed about what the problems were and how to eliminate them. Radical feminists disagreed with liberal feminists and socialist feminists on how to understand and address our oppression.
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One problem that I would say exists in the movement is the way we disagree with each other; disagreement does not necessary mean total rejection, it means that we disagree due to different analyses, different histories and experiences and different solutions to an issue. Given disagreements, how can we build a movement on which we can unite on issues and points of struggle?

For an example, a few years ago, Geminijen and I were attempting to put together a series of women’s dialogues here on dkos. In the context of a discussion on comparative worth, recognising that there are still segregated labour markets for women, I advocated an argument that came from feminist discussions in the 1970s; I argued that equal pay for equal work was insufficient due to segregated labour markets and argued that equal pay for comparable work should still be a slogan. Essentially this argument says that the labour that women do in different (and lower paying jobs) but using the same skills as men should be paid equally. I was told I was trying to prioritise women’s labour and got called a hairy second waver. Quite honestly, while I do not consider that an insult; it was meant as such. Rather than attack the fact of segregated labour markets, I faced what that person considered to be an insult (and what I saw as an ad hominem attack. This is not political debate, this is not a coherent way to disagree and when I faced further attack (the person mistook me for a radical feminist), the discussion degenerated further on somehow ended up with a discussion of my supposed hostility to pornography; while I dislike the objectification of women, I was never a campaigner on this issue (and I would never crawl into bed with right-wing Christians to oppose it). The hostility and negative form of discussion led to our abandonment of the project. We were frankly baffled.

We need also to be aware of how we are explaining things and those words we are choosing to express ourselves. Many women have been fighting for a long time and we are arguing positions that we think we have worked out over time. However, we may be out of touch with the perceived needs of younger women who grew up at a different time and have different perceptions about their own oppression and the oppression of women. Some women working in the movement or that have been at the forefront of struggles in the 1970s hold controversial positions on some issues; we need to think whether these issues make unity impossible, whether we undertake discussion, or rather to find some issues that we can unite on. This is hard and there will be pain that people are not responding positively to what we are arguing (or have been arguing for a while), but the most important issue for me is how to build unity towards rebuilding a movement in a period of time when women are facing constant attack. What is the best way to do that?
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An essential point to understand is that every woman has endured a lot in this rather grotesque patriarchal capitalist world; that is the nature of what we as women have to live with. All voices are important as they come from different histories and experiences; we may not like what those voices are saying, they may seem more or less poignant, we may not be able to understand their oppression, but that does not mean it is any less.

There cannot be an hierarchy of oppression, as oppression weighs on all of us. Some women not only have the experience of oppression as a woman; there is the additional oppression of race, there is the additional exploitation of class, there are those that face oppression due to their sexual preferences in a patriarchal society, there are those that face social exclusion due to physical or mental impairment in a society in which ablism is predominant. These oppressions and exploitation combine in a manner than is more than simply summation: it is qualitative, creating a tapestry of oppression and exploitation which differs substantially from that of wealthy white women due to differing needs, experiences, and the impact of cultural and social history. A movement cannot be led from above by the privileged if it is to actually address the needs and interests of those facing multiple oppressions and exploitation. Quite simply, our needs differ, our histories differ, and our everyday lives and options differ. This must be a movement whose centre contains those who face multiple oppressions so that their interests, voices and needs are heard and are at the centre of the movement.
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Addressing Oppression

“Women need to come together in situations where there will be ideological disagreement and work to change that interaction so communication occurs. This means that when women come together, rather than pretend union, we would acknowledge that we are divided and must develop strategies to overcome fears, prejudices, resentments, competitiveness, etc. [...]

While no woman wants to enter a situation in which she will be psychologically annihilated, women can face one another in hostile confrontation and struggle and move beyond the hostility to understanding. Expression of hostility as an end in itself is a useless activity, but when it is the catalyst pushing us on to greater clarify and understanding, it serves a meaningful function.

Women need to have the experience of working through hostility to arrive at understanding and solidarity, if only to free ourselves from the sexist socialization that tells us to avoid confrontation because we will be victimized or destroyed. [...] If women always seek to avoid confrontation, to always be “safe,” we may never experience any revolutionary change, any transformation, individually or collectively (Hooks, 2000, pp. 65-66).”

If the nature of women’s oppression is simply inequality in accessing political, social and economic rights in a specific context, simple reforms will be able to alter things for the better. Will that solve the problem of women’s oppression? That depends on what you believe the causes of women’s oppression are.
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However, the issue of whether the problems that women experience derive from more than the inability to accessing political, social and economic equality but are conditioned by other things, such as race and class adds additional dimensions to the question. In order to understand this, we need to understand the role that racism plays in colonialism, imperialism or neo-colonialism and what role racism serves in this process and whose interests does racism serve.

In terms of class, clearly those whose role is solely to ensure the continuation of control over property have different wants and needs than those who also have to work in order to bring income into the home as well as to ensure the social reproduction of their class.
Women with physical and mental impairments face specific problems just accessing simple things that most of us take for granted (e.g., housing, transport), in addition they are invariably paid lower than any other group of women. They have the issue of living an independent and fulfilling life in the context of living in societies where those with impairments are deemed imperfect, unworthy, and literally second rate. Women with impairments have faced sterilisation abuse long after it has been effectively eliminated for their sisters that are not impaired physically and mentally.
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If we go back to the first struggles around women’s suffrage, equal access to property, and equal rights (they still have not passed an equal rights amendment in the US btw), we can see differences among women from the beginning. An early struggle for women’s suffrage in Britain was led by working class women in the Chartist movement after it became rather clear that the 1832 Reform Act was not going to benefit the working classes. Women’s Chartist groups existed and advanced a call for universal suffrage. This was not accepted by most working class men of the time, of course; the argument of everything in its time and place is an old one and we always come in last.
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The struggle for women’s suffrage in the US split upper class white women from women of colour and led to a split in the liberal feminist movement; with some women arguing along class lines, saying that poor and uneducated men and black men had the right to vote before they did, they being women of education and property (see National Women’s Suffrage Association led by Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B Anthony).

Instead of arguing for accessing the vote for all irrespective of education and property ownership (which was the position fought for others fighting for suffrage, see the American Women’s Suffrage Association led by Lucy Stone and Julia Ward Howe), they concentrated on their own needs. Many women activists of the hard left argued for supporting the extension of suffrage as part of the completion of bourgeois democratic processes; but they never believed that the vote in and of itself would create full equality for women in the context of capitalism (this was the case for Clara Zetkin, Alexandra Kollantai and Rosa Luxemburg) . Some women of the hard left, like Mother Jones, never supported the extension of suffrage as she didn’t believe that equality for the working class could be found in the ballot box.
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Moreover, when working class women struggled to form trade unions to fight for better wages and working conditions that did not apply to upper class women in the least; they did not have to work and if these struggles were successful they would threaten upper class women’s interests as their wealth, power and prestige was tied to their husbands; they wanted equality, not to lose access to that which gave them power. In The Social Basis of the Women’s Question, Alexandra Kollantai speaks of feminists in Russia trying to organise women servants and domestic labourers to help struggle for the extension of suffrage, who then saw these workers trying to get better working conditions and wages against their employers (their selves). So, while the issue of getting suffrage was important, there were things that were of immediate concerns to women workers which brought them into conflict with women from other classes.

Socialist feminism and social reproduction theory

From its beginnings, the struggle for women’s rights already faced significant differences as to how to understand women’s oppression and how to eliminate it. Could reforms in the context of the capitalist system eliminate women’s oppression or simply address inequality that does not threaten the system? Is women’s oppression due to the control of men over the societies in which we lived as it seems to exist over economic and political systems? Or does the ideology of male domination alter over time and change to fit the political and economic systems in which we live?

How can we eliminate this oppression if is there something more than simply that ideology that is responsible? If the nature of women’s oppression alters with different political and economic systems what can we do to eliminate it completely, do we need to eliminate that which underlies our oppression? The issue comes from where inequality derives, is it a left-over from older periods or is it part and parcel of societies based around class and hence property ownership? Certainly, as part of a democratic reform movement, the worst inequalities between men and women could be addressed, but would that eliminate women’s specific oppression?

I would argue no, women’s oppression requires more than simple reform; but I am a socialist feminist. For socialist feminists, women’s oppression is caused by the existence of property relations and that as long as private property (in the sense of private ownership of capital and land) exists, women would never be equal. However, the types of inequality that women face are not ones that all women bear equally and in the same way.
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Moreover, depending on the nature of the societies in which we live, the way in which things are produced and distributed, it means that women’s oppression differs in different societies and that depends on how those societies and economic systems reproduce themselves.

For socialist feminists, women’s oppression under capitalism is two-fold. On the one hand, like all members of the working class, women are exploited under the capitalist economic system. They are exploited as what they receive as wages differs from the value of what they produce as workers. A portion of the goods and services they produce is taken by employers. On the other hand, women face an additional oppression and that relates to the process of social reproduction. Women not only produce the next generation of workers, they are also responsible for socialisation and raising their children, they are responsible for maintaining home and household and they are responsible for the care of the infirm and elderly members of the family that are unable to work in the labour market. Moreover, their labour in the home is unpaid; they do it with no recompense.

Throughout human history, in different societies, with the existence of private property, women’s roles in society were determined by their class. The role of women of the upper classes in physically producing the next generation of the ruling class was predominant; this also meant controlling their reproduction and limiting their unfettered access to the real world (think of foot-binding in China, purdah in Islamic areas, and the seclusion of royal women) to avoid children born on the wrong side of the sheet for example. Their wealth, inherited from their fathers (or their husband if they survived them) was part of dowries that added to the power and prestige of their husbands and not under their control. They may have controlled the running of the households they lived in, they may have even controlled spending, but political and economic power derived from the power of their husbands and families.

On the other hand, non-propertied women (the vast majority) worked and created the next generation of those to labour in the field, factories, etc. In the US south before the civil war, black female slaves worked the fields next to men; there was no gender segregation for field slaves. The labour of women was part of the labour of the extended family, we may have had different tasks, but it was not less essential (and it is still essential). In some countries, (not in all), peasant women worked the fields alongside their husbands. Moreover, they also produced subsistence goods for home consumption; they produced clothing, bedding, and food and also raised the children, and took care of the family and the elderly. Their labour was not seen as lesser or not important.
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If you think about how an economic system reproduces itself; it is not only the capital goods as inputs that need to be replaced; it is the labour that is used in production which must also be reproduced as well. That labour itself needs to be physically reproduced, it needs to be fed, clothed, and have housing; it also needs to be educated, trained and able to participate in its role as workers when old enough to join the work force. In capitalism, if we consider the reproduction of labour; for the individual capitalist this may be seen as a cost to himself, but for the system as a whole, it is essential for ensuring the continuation of the system.
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The fact that women do work in the labour market for wages (and they have always done so in the capitalist economic system), but are still overwhelmingly responsible for social reproduction at home has impacted women seriously and we can still see this today.

Why should capitalists pay for labour that is provided for free at home? Given the need for women’s labour for the capitalist system, it means that some provision for coverage of child care is needed. However, that was not seen as extremely profitable compared to other sectors and areas where profits could be had, e.g., in industry and manufacturing. So, since women’s labour was needed, coverage for the sick, coverage for the elderly (beyond pensions) and childcare began to be provided by the state. However, a generalised socialised form of this labour was never done; the state sector and the social welfare state never provided complete coverage and this means that women still face a two-fold exploitation and oppression.

Building Solidarity

“When women actively struggle in a truly supportive way to understand our differences, to change misguided, distorted perspectives, we lay the foundation for the experience of political solidarity. Solidarity is not the same as support. To experience solidarity, we must have a community of interests, shared beliefs, and goals around which to unite, to build Sisterhood. Support can be occasional. It can be given and just as easily withdrawn. Solidarity requires sustained, ongoing commitment. In feminist movement, there is need for diversity, disagreement, and difference if we are to grow. [...]
Women do not need to eradicate difference to feel solidarity. We do not need to share common oppression to fight equally to end oppression. We do not need anti-male sentiments to bond us together, so great is the wealth of experience, culture and ideas we have to share with one another. We can be sisters united by shared interests and beliefs, united in our appreciation for diversity, united in our struggle to end sexist oppression, united in political solidarity (Bell Hooks, 2000, p. 67).”

I have argued that women’s oppression cannot be eliminated until we eliminate private property. But does that mean that we do not struggle now to address what inequalities we can? Certainly not!
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But what do we need to do this? Just because we have not faced racism, does that mean we cannot offer solidarity to those that suffer from it? Just because our children are not being murdered by an occupying military (domestic or external), does that mean that we cannot offer solidarity to those whose children are being murdered and that are suffering? Just because your children have food in their bellies and nice clothes, does that mean that you cannot offer solidarity to those women whose children do not? Solidarity is more than support; it is horizontal, not vertical and is based upon recognition of difference and respect.
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Some of our oppression, specifically economic, political and social inequality, must certainly be addressed now. We also must struggle against the patriarchal ideology that dominates our lives and keeps us constrained, oppressed, objectified, unequal and dependent. Basic human rights, such as control over our reproduction and our bodies must certainly be addressed now and this has to benefit all women, irrespective of their ability to pay, and thus safely access health care and medicine for free. We cannot wait for the revolution for women to have control over their reproduction. We cannot wait for the revolution for women for assistance in social reproduction responsibilities to allow for a deeper and more fulfilling life, we cannot wait for the revolution to actually earn the same pay for the same job or a job which is comparable. We cannot wait for the revolution to worry about where our children are whilst we are working and whether their lives are in danger or what they will come to in a racist society.
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Moreover, if we do wait for the revolution (out of fears of splitting the class, yes, I swear that some members of the left argue this), there will not have been a challenge to patriarchy and that means that people raised and steeped in a patriarchal culture where women’s oppression is part and parcel of the situation and have not challenged it, will now be creating the future which we all have fought so hard. Maybe it is me, but we cannot be so naïve to think that suddenly people indoctrinated in a patriarchal culture will just simply be able to step out of it. We need to stand together and fight (with our male allies), educate ourselves and each other.

That means that we need to find a way to actually work together, recognising our differences and listening and actually taking on board those different histories and experiences that we have and try to find a commonality of oppression that we share. On those things which we can unite, we must unite as we are facing an attack of such proportions that everything we have fought for and won, can be eroded. From this we can actually build a better future for all.
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References:

Bell Hooks (2000) Feminist Theory: from Margin to Center, second edition, Pluto Press: London

Alexandra Kollantai (1909) The Social Basis of the Women’s Question, in Alexandra Kollantai, Selected Writings (1977), W. W. Norton and Company: NY

By the way, go see Pride … I included an original picture of Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners in the piece. By all accounts, it will make you laugh and cry and feel wonderful at the same time.

Do NOT Let Them Get Any Ideas…

2:34 pm in Uncategorized by Anti-Capitalist Meetup

by Anti-Capitalist Meetup & Diane Gee

Backwards Blue American flag

Does the United States suffer from an identity crisis?

I am back to work, and actually excited about being a wage slave once again – the pay is good, but the training hours are brutal. 60 hour weeks are not what they were when I was 21. 51 is a whole ‘nother ball game. I mention this for two relevant reasons: 1) It may make you forgiving of any errors found within, since I am penning this an hour before deadline, and much more importantly 2) Yesterday I took a nap and had a fairly lucid dream in which I ended up explaining to a teenaged girl why “Americans are so dumb…”

I whipped it off as a short story of almost the same title to keep the epiphany I had fresh in my mind for today’s missive.

I want to offer the idea in a more cohesive manner to this esteemed audience, rather than the off-the-cuff explanation my sub-conscience offered the little girl.

I also am asking you to check your historical preconceived notions, and consider the possibility of what I am thinking, as well as offer your thoughts on it.

Lily, think about it. France had a long time to grow up. Wars, revolts, leaders and kings, assassinations and like most of Europe, has had time to try and balance between what is ‘good for the people’ and ‘what the rich want.’ Its not so hard to convince the French after hard times, that all Frenchmen – something they all hold in common – deserve to have nice things. Not just a few.

The same for every Country in Europe, they have an identity that binds them. The US not so much. There is no sense of countrymen for people from so many places. Each identity group- primarily the white anglo-saxon capitalists think they are the ONLY face of Americanism.

Its not just that though. Because in Europe they have fought hard – I mean the richest that rule – to make sure that Socialism only goes so far. Far enough to keep them from revolting, bonding against the power. They worked hard to make sure Capitalism was always in charge and to this day paint Russia as a demon.

America, the US? I think, really was a new experiment in Capitalism.

Why do you think that so many in Europe are multi-lingual like you? And we are not? Europeans can ride a train and be in another country in an instant – quicker than we can go state to state, and realize how cool other people are and never want to war on them. USers are isolated.

If you were making a new country and wanted your rule to be unquestioned; create a belief that the elites know whats best, and that Capitalism, English and the cycle of working and buying to make you rich, what would you do? You certainly wouldn’t want to have to share with the poor. Socialism is painted as helping ‘others’ not ‘USers’ I mean, they aren’t helping you get rich, so why would you allow people to think helping them is good? You wouldn’t want too good an education to happen, then there would be no one willing to work for nothing. You certainly wouldn’t want them to know too much world history – only American History which you make sound like we were the best place with the best way on Earth.

That’s why socialized medicine that everyone else has hasn’t been allowed in the States. They tell us its bad, and won’t work. And for a while? Most Americans had more ‘stuff’ than other people, but to get it, and having known nothing else, they don’t realize the actual quality of their life sucks compared to most places. They don’t have TIME, they don’t have community and a feeling of belonging, beyond “I got a new Iphone too!” They have no sense of pura vida. We have become convinced our only value is not in how we live, but what we have.

Americans aren’t stupid, they just were raised in a system that isolated them from reality. If they knew other languages, they would know what other people thought or said. If you don’t know what they are saying, you trust the so-called smart guys when they tell you that they are evil. That they have bad intent.

So, really, if you were planning on starting from scratch, and wanted to be the new rulers, and untouchable? You would plan a country exactly like how they made the US.

They made sure that we wouldn’t get any ideas, right from day one, and if we did? The McCarthy era cinched it.

In fact, if you remember nothing else – the US’s real motto is – ‘Don’t give them any ideas.’ In the rest of the world, the ideas are already there in their history. We don’t have that. Our history is only one system period. Rule of the rich, by and for the rich.

The first premise is that as a population of the United States has a cultural identity crisis. For the most part – Europe and Asia do not. (The Ukraine’s ethnic Russia aside for the moment)

Read the rest of this entry →

Anti-Capitalist Meetup: “From Ferguson to Palestine …” by UnaSpenser

2:44 pm in Uncategorized by Anti-Capitalist Meetup

… Occupation Is A Crime!” – chant being heard from protesters in Ferguson and at solidarity rallies around the nation.

Author’s Note: The Anti-Capitalist Meetup group felt that this is such an important subject that we decided to have me re-post an updated/more fleshed-out version of a diary I had already posted. I was wary due to the tenacious accusations of Anti-Semitism against anyone who dares to suggest that we relate to Palestinians as people. Still, that’s a First World problem. I have agreed to take that risk, again.

In a recent diary, a commenter expressed frustration when a conversation about the racism and tyrannical force being displayed in Ferguson prompted someone to bring up the Palestinians. The complaint was along the lines of “can we please just focus?”

I responded that many of my friends who are not White are quick to make the connection between what they experience here and what is happening in Gaza. Many of us see the linkage. Focusing actually means getting everybody to see that linkage and build solidarity.

The people in Ferguson have already made the linkage:

Richard Potter ‏@RichardSP86

Did everyone else catch when protesters chanted “From St Louis to #Gaza end the occupation” because that was some powerful shit. #Ferguson

When it comes to the growing divide between those who win in a capitalist world and those who lose, we’re all Gazans. We’re all Mike Brown. We’re all Tibetans. We’re all Native Americans.

That is, some of us are definitely subject to more directly cruel and blatant oppression, but we’re all expendable when it comes to capitalism. Capital has no concern other than increasing it’s own value.

When it comes to any form of oppression, the only solution is resistance in solidarity. No one is liberated unless everyone is liberated. Abuse of power and willingness to see others as less than worthy of respect and justice is a relentless disease which much always be addressed or it will spread like a pandemic. No justice, no peace.

Apparently, the Palestinians get it, too.

“RT @TallyAnnaE: People in #Gaza are tweeting information on how to handle tear gas to the citizens of #Ferguson.”

If this is true, it reminds me of when Occupy Wall Street began and beleaguered Syrians sent a photo of a handwritten sign which said, “We are the 99.”

In the privileged world, we want to compartmentalize. It is less overwhelming and more manageable to think of each instance of injustice as it’s own issue to be addressed. So often, when I try to link topics such as Palestine and Ferguson, I see rolled eyes. There is the message of “here she goes again” in the expression. A desire to remain in the sheltered worldview of “that doesn’t happen here” or “it could never happen to me” or “it’s just an isolated incident.”

But, it’s all connected. Everything is connected. Unwillingness to see those connections makes us complicit in the oppression being perpetrated.

It’s really clear to those whose communities have paid the price for the capitalist “successes” of others. We need to see it, too. We all need to stand in solidarity.

A recent article on Counterpunch makes the connection:The Shortest Distance Between Palestine and Ferguson

While there is nothing happening within the US anything like the now-cyclical Israeli slaughter of thousands of Gazans, the reality is that life for Black Americans in places like Ferguson does not vary in much from blockaded Gaza, and West Bank Bantustans in off-attack times . The similarities are not just coincidental in terms of the timing of the events–they are in fact, concurrent and historical.

What is becoming more and more apparent is how much capitalist economics drives both situations. Many years ago, I listened to a young Jewish woman explain to me why Israel needed to “kick Palestine’s butt.” She was filled with violent rage and it was so overwhelming that I had a difficult time taking it in. But, one thing struck me and stayed with me. She felt it was important to point out that before Israel asserted itself, the Palestinians hadn’t maximized the productivity of the land. “They should appreciate how we’ve transformed the place!”

There seemed to be no recognition that other people might not see that “transformation” as a good thing. That the transformation of the land could actually be counterproductive to an already existing culture. The claim to superiority was all about how money could be made there, now. Those people who had their land stolen and lost loved ones should appreciate that.

It was a small thing at the time. Still, it has stuck in my mind. Now, I read this:

As Haaretz recently reported, the larger settlements of the West Bank—which have grown astronomically since the signing of the Oslo Agreement with the Palestinian Authority—are now in the midst of a housing bubble that is outstripping prices in Tel Aviv and its suburbs. Young urban professionals, with no interest in ideology or perhaps even in Zionism, flock to these well-financed and subsidized cities, where the attendant express highways spirit them quickly back and forth from Tel Aviv. Israel’s military industrial complex gives them security from the tenants of the land they’ve stolen.

This history is so parallel to what has happened to Native Americans here. For African-Americans, there is a twist. The people were stolen from their lands, brought the US to work the land and build everything here, for free and have remained economically excluded from the benefits of all that work. They remain, mostly, in segregated communities, denied the educational and job opportunities of those in White communities. US laws are designed such that their lives are criminalized and we can claim to justify the over-policing, the prison industrial complex and the denial of social services. They are corralled and treated mercilessly if they dare to resist oppression in any way. Talking back to a police officer can result in death.

With social media allowing people to hear the stories of and connect to people around the world, it doesn’t take long for the losing class in each region to see the similarities between the ways they are treated. They suffer daily humiliations and relentless obstacles to sustainability. The slightest act of resistance is then met with state-sponsored violence. The ruling class owns the media outlets and controls the mainstream cultural messaging which includes demonizing losers so that when resistance is attempted, the rest of the population supports the state-sponsored violence.

It’s not just a theoretical idea that these struggles are linked. It turns out that leaders on the Ferguson police force, along with police from around the US, received training in Israel:

Decades of testing and perfecting methods of domination and control on a captive and disenfranchised Palestinian population has given rise to a booming “homeland security industry” in Israel that refashions occupation-style repression for use on marginalized populations in other parts of the world, including St. Louis.

Under the cover of counterterrorism training, nearly every major police agency in the United States has traveled to Israel for lessons in occupation enforcement,

Palestinians recognized the plight of Ferguson and started tweeting solidarity messages.

After images of Ferguson police using tear gas were disseminated on Twitter, Palestinians Rajai abuKhalil and Mariam Barghouti drew on their own experiences to express support with protesters in Missouri.

Rajai abuKhalilرجائي @Rajaiabukhalil
Follow
Dear #Ferguson. The Tear Gas used against you was probably tested on us first by Israel. No worries, Stay Strong. Love, #Palestine
11:24 PM – 13 Aug 2014

When people see the startlingly parallel images of Gaza and Ferguson, it is not in their imagination that these scenes are linked. Capitalism is a global force. It doesn’t care whether a state is nominally democratic or despotic, as long as those with capital can call the shots, literally.

We are all fodder for the state- or corporate-sponsored militarized forces who will protect the domination of the wealthy. If you’ve escaped violence from the state, it’s only because you’re either in the wealthy elite, or you’re in the class whom they let stand as a false symbol of the promise of capitalism. As soon as you stand in solidarity with those who are constantly under the harsher thumb of oppression, you will be just so much fodder, too. Just ask anyone who has dared to protest in this country. We saw it in the Civil Rights movement; we saw it with World Bank protests in the early 2000s, and we saw it with Occupy.

It is heartening to see people making these connections. Resistance is not futile, if we build solidarity and recognize that we have common cause: autonomy, justice and sustainability for all. No one will really have it until we all do. So, yes we can focus. We can focus on the connection and build the needed solidarity to resist oppression.

We are all Palestinians. We are all Mike Brown. We are all workers in Bangladesh. We are all the Garbage People.

Solidarity!

Please note:
I do not equate Israel with Jewish people or the Jewish religion. Israel is a state, whose mission is controlled by a particular subset of people. In fact, it seems anti-semitic to color all Jews with the sins of Israel.

It is also Islamophobic to equate all Palestinians or Gazans with Hamas.

Don’t even bother trying these false equivalencies. You only make yourself look manipulative.

Anti-Capitalist Meetup: you are not a piece of crap, and your solidarity work matters by Galtisalie

3:02 pm in Uncategorized by Anti-Capitalist Meetup

“Resist much, obey little.”

hello cruel world. take that. and that. and that. leftists look injustice in the eye then look for a stick to poke it with, find lonely leaves of grass, and injustice blinks or maybe winks.

“Not I, nor anyone else can travel that road for you.
You must travel it by yourself.
It is not far. It is within reach.
Perhaps you have been on it since you were born, and did not know.
Perhaps it is everywhere – on water and land.”

by the end of 1877′s Virgin Soil, Turgenev’s sixth, final, and longest novel, Nejdanov has taken his own life, unwilling to go to prison in Siberia for a cause that has taken everything from him and will not, in his own mind, accept his desire for the beautiful, culminating, like Whitman, in a desire to write poems. ironically, by dying, his most stalwart comrade, the hopelessly in love Mashurina, is deprived of the one thing, Nejdanov, to which she is devoted other than the revolution. desperate for any remembrance of Nejdanov, Mashurina spends a few moments at the end with the blowhard but equally lonely socialist hanger-on Paklin. Paklin, desperate for conversation and relevance, tosses out stupid questions. Mashurina slams the door:

Paklin pulled himself up.
“Why, of course … do have some more tea.”
But Mashurina fixed her dark eyes upon him and said pensively:
“You don’t happen to have any letter of Nejdanov’s … or his photograph?”
“I have a photograph and quite a good one too. I believe it’s in the table drawer. I’ll get it in a minute.”
He began rummaging about in the drawer, while Snandulia went up to Mashurina and with a long, intent look full of sympathy, clasped her hand like a comrade.
“Here it is!” Paklin exclaimed and handed her the photograph.
Mashurina thrust it into her pocket quickly, scarcely glancing at it, and without a word of thanks, flushing bright red, she put on her hat and made for the door.
“Are you going?” Paklin asked. “Where do you live? You might tell me that at any rate.”
“Wherever I happen to be.”
“I understand. You don’t want me to know. Tell me at least, are you still working under Vassily Nikolaevitch?”
“What does it matter to you?” “Or someone else, perhaps Sidor Sidoritch?” Mashurina did not reply.
“Or is your director some anonymous person?” Mashurina had already stepped across the threshold. “Perhaps it is someone anonymous!”
She slammed the door.
Paklin stood for a long time motionless before this closed door.
“Anonymous Russia!” he said at last.

in some ways, we all have had the door slammed in our face and are left anonymous. more sadly than Mashurina, who at least was on the clearly ascending side of history, we are more like the pathetic Paklin, trying to piece together our own relevance. the oppressors are desperate too, to make us feel that we are on the descending side of history, and oh how it feels that they are right when that door slams yet again.

perhaps tiny is the measure of your impact after so much dedication and sacrifice. perhaps it is a lost job. perhaps it is a beating by yet another dirtbag you feel forced to tolerate because you have no place else to go (you can leave, we will try to help). perhaps it is deep loneliness at the loss of someone good that you loved so much and will never see again. perhaps self-medication has become part of your problem, and those who love you couldn’t take it anymore.

maybe you pull yourself up, and try to reach out:

perhaps it is “just” a diary that few read. perhaps it is a diary that many read but which is soon lost in the vapors before discouraging objective conditions. perhaps it is … you know, and maybe no one else does, your personal objective conditions and how you feel standing before a lifetime of closed doors of one kind or another.

“O Me! O life!… of the questions of these recurring;
Of the endless trains of the faithless—of cities fill’d with the foolish;
Of myself forever reproaching myself, (for who more foolish than I, and who more faithless?)
Of eyes that vainly crave the light—of the objects mean—of the struggle ever renew’d;
Of the poor results of all—of the plodding and sordid crowds I see around me;
Of the empty and useless years of the rest—with the rest me intertwined;
The question, O me! so sad, recurring—What good amid these, O me, O life?”

sometimes all you can do is get up in the morning.

“My Captain does not answer, his lips are pale and still,
My father does not feel my arm, he has no pulse nor will,
The ship is anchor’d safe and sound, its voyage closed and done,
From fearful trip the victor ship comes in with object won;
Exult O shores, and ring O bells!
But I with mournful tread,
Walk the deck my Captain lies,
Fallen cold and dead.”

but please do get up in the morning. please. we love and need you tender comrade.

we are penniless. we are broken. we are shattered. children shot. bombs are bursting on our homes. but we shall not be defeated.

Who troubles himself about his ornaments or fluency is lost. This is what you shall do: Love the earth and sun and the animals, despise riches, give alms to everyone that asks, stand up for the stupid and crazy, devote your income and labor to others, hate tyrants, argue not concerning God, have patience and indulgence toward the people, take off your hat to nothing known or unknown, or to any man or number of men—go freely with powerful uneducated persons, and with the young, and with the mothers of families—re-examine all you have been told in school or church or in any book, and dismiss whatever insults your own soul; and your very flesh shall be a great poem, and have the richest fluency, not only in its words, but in the silent lines of its lips and face, and between the lashes of your eyes, and in every motion and joint of your body. The poet shall not spend his time in unneeded work. He shall know that the ground is already plow’d and manured; others may not know it, but he shall. He shall go directly to the creation. His trust shall master the trust of everything he touches—and shall master all attachment.

Walt Whitman, XV. Preface to “Leaves of Grass,” 1855
Walt Whitman, “Leaves of Grass”

on a personal note, when i decided to join you my comrades and become an anonymous covert socialist agent for humanity, i chose for my middle name Turgenev’s fictitious Nejdanov in honor of all our fallen tortured comrades who could not find the ability to keep living, and

i chose for my first name my own fallen tortured comrade-in-spirit great-great-uncle Francisco, (here’s his photograph, and quite a good one too)

who, within a few years of a heroic stand for the workers and nearly being murdered for the cause (see the end of this diary referencing “the Milian Affair”), in most awful fashion lost a war with depression and capitalism that destroyed his immediate family and that my extended family still bears in its bones,

and i chose for my last name Turgenev’s fictitious Solomin, the practical tender-hearted socialist engineer who stood by Nejdanov to the end and who would have loved and done anything he could to help Francisco.

please forgive the presumptuousness of this diary. i cannot sort out the clinical from the non-clinical in my own life much less anyone else’s. i am not a medical or psychological expert. i am just one of the few, the proud, the deep democrats. but we either know or want to know how hard your struggles are tender comrades. we are each here for each other. send someone else in this group a message and, if you want us to, we will try to help in some practical kind way. you are not anonymous in our hearts and minds.

SOLIDARITY!

til the rivers all run dry. nourish the roots of your leaves of grass. (mine are partly in country and western music.) protect your inner Nejdanov.

Anti-Capitalist Meetup: Evo Morales, “Live Well” vs “Live Better” by UnaSpenser

2:59 pm in Uncategorized by Anti-Capitalist Meetup

It can be very disheartening to contemplate the state of the world, these days. Climate change, growing wealth inequality, civil rights erosion, violence, violence and more violence. As a practitioner of bearing witness, it all gets overwhelming and can lead to despair, unless I find beacons of light. One of the beacons I’ve found is Evo Morales of Bolivia.

If you’re not aware of him, he is the first indigenous president of Bolivia. That would be notable, in and of itself, but he has represented so much more than a demographic token. He’s now a leading voice in a worldwide coalition for a sustainable future. Something he calls “Vivir Bien.”

The concept of vivir bien (live well) defines the current climate change movement in Bolivia. The concept is usually contrasted with the capitalist entreaty to vivir mejor (live better). Proponents argue that living well means having all basic needs met while existing in harmony with the natural world; living better seeks to constantly amass materials goods at the expense of the environment.

This isn’t just a vague “feel good” philosophy. It is a set of principles to live by and guide public policy. Let’s take a look at what those principles are, how they’ve been applied in Bolivia and how they are being adopted beyond Bolivia, along with some of President Morales’ personal background.

Per the Encyclopedia Britannica, Evo Morales was born in 1959, herded llamas as a child, served in the Bolivian military after high school and then worked on a family farm, where one of the crops was coca.

The coca plant is mostly known to those of us outside of the Western South America as the source of cocaine. However, it has very impressive nutritional and medicinal qualities and has been a significant part of the Andean culture. This is important to note because when the US launched it’s “War on Drugs” it didn’t limit it’s enforcement of US laws to activities happening within it’s borders. The US placed enormous pressure on Bolivians to shut down all coca farming. This led to unionization of the farmers. Evo Morales became active in that union. By the mid-1980s he became the executive secretary of a group of unions. This launched his political career that has ended up with him in the presidency. It has also shaped how he sees the impact of capitalist interests around the world.

In the mid-1990s, when the Bolivian government was suppressing coca production with assistance from the United States, Morales helped found a national political party—the leftist Movement Toward Socialism (Spanish: Movimiento al Socialismo; MAS)—at the same time serving as titular leader of the federation representing coca growers.

Morales won a seat in the House of Deputies (the lower house of the Bolivian legislature) in 1997 and was the MAS candidate for president in 2002, only narrowly losing to Gonzalo Sánchez de Lozada. During the presidential campaign, Morales called for the expulsion from Bolivia of U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration agents (his campaign was bolstered by the U.S. ambassador’s comment that aid to Bolivia would be reconsidered if Morales was elected). In the following years, Morales remained active in national affairs, helping force the resignation of Sánchez de Lozada in 2003 and extracting a concession from his successor, Carlos Mesa Gisbert, to consider changes to the highly unpopular U.S.-backed campaign to eradicate illegal coca production.

Two years later, he would run for president again. He was the first Bolivian president since 1982 to win by majority, taking 54% of the votes. Since being elected, he has pushed for policies which reflect the principles of Vivir Bien. In 2009, the principles of Vivir Bien were included in Bolivia’s new constitution. When you read the text of the constitution, you can notice something a bit radically different from that of the US:

This Constitution determines a mixed economy: State, private, cooperative and communal ownership,but restricts private land ownership to a maximum of 5,000 hectares (12,400 acres). (emphasis mine)

That’s a very definitive statement about limiting the accumulation of personal power via controlling land.

So, what are these principles?

There is one way in which the phrase “vivir bien” reminds me of the Brazilian phrase ‘tenho saudade.’ It is hard to translate into English, because it isn’t just about the definition of the words. There is an ineffable cultural feeling, related to a way of perceiving life, embedded in the phrase. As this writer, trying to explain Vivir Bien, puts it:

The richness of the term is difficult to translate into English. It includes the classical ideas of quality of life, but with the specific idea that well-being is only possible within a community. Furthermore, in most approaches the community concept is understood in an expanded sense, to include Nature. Buen Vivir therefore embraces the broad notion of well-being and cohabitation with others and Nature. In this regard, the concept is also plural, as there are many different interpretations depending on cultural, historical and ecological setting.

When Vivir Bien was incorporated into the Bolivian constitution it was enacted as ethical and moral principles for the State:

In the Bolivian case, is presented in Spanish as ‘Vivir Bien’, and is included in the section devoted to the ethical and moral principles describing the values, ends and objectives of the State. The approach is multicultural, and Vivir Bien is referred to the aymara concept of suma qamaña, but also to the guaraní ideas of the harmonious living (ñandereko), good life (teko kavi), the land without evil (ivi maraei) and the path to the noble life (qhapaj ñan). These ideas come from different cultures but all are presented together at the same level, without hierarchies. They are part of a major set of principles linked to other well-known principles, such as unity, equality, dignity, freedom, solidarity, reciprocity, social and gender equity, social justice, responsibility and so on. Furthermore, all the ethical–moral principles, including Vivir Bien, are linked to the economic organization of the State. The Bolivian Constitution introduces an economic plural model (in the sense of diverse cultural origins of economic activities), and its objectives are to increase quality of life and ensure the Vivir Bien.

To see how that translates into policies, read this speech that President Morales gave in June. Bolivia is a member of the Group of 77 plus China. As host of this year’s summit, Morales gave the opening talk. In it, policy ideas based on the principles of Vivir Bien are spelled out. I’m quoting snippets from each section. They will give you a taste of Vivir Bien. Read the entire thing to get a more comprehensive flavor.

First: We must move from sustainable development to comprehensive development [desarrollo integral] so that we can live well and in harmony and balance with Mother Earth.

Second: Sovereignty exercised over natural resources and strategic areas.

Countries that have raw materials should and can take sovereign control over production and processing of those materials.

Third: Well-being for everyone and the provision of basic services as a human right

Fourth: Emancipation from the existing international financial system and construction of a new financial architecture … We also need to define limits to gains from speculation and to excessive accumulation of wealth.

Fifth: Build a major economic, scientific, technological and cultural partnership among the members of the group of 77 plus China … Science must be an asset of humanity as a whole. Science must be placed at the service of everyone’s well-being, without exclusions or hegemonies.

Sixth: Eradicate hunger among the world’s peoples. It is imperative that hunger be eradicated and that the human right to food be fully exercised and enforced.

Seventh: Strengthen the sovereignty of states free from foreign interference, intervention and/or espionage. … For this reason, the UN Security Council must be abolished. Rather than fostering peace among nations, this body has promoted wars and invasions by imperial powers in their quest for the natural resources available in the invaded countries. Instead of a Security Council, today we have an insecurity council of imperial wars.

Eighth: Democratic renewal of our states. The era of empires, colonial hierarchies and financial oligarchies is coming to an end. Everywhere we look, we see peoples around the world calling for their right to play their leading role in history. … We must move away from limited parliamentary and party-based governance and into the social governance of democracy.

Ninth: A new world rising from the south for the whole of humanity. … In the past, we were colonized and enslaved. Our stolen labour built empires in the North. …
However, our liberation is not only the emancipation of the peoples of the South. Our liberation is also for the whole of humanity. We are not fighting to dominate anyone. We are fighting to ensure that no one becomes dominated.

“We are fighting to ensure that no one becomes dominated.” That’s a radical concept in today’s world, where domination is the name of the capitalist game.

Morales gave this speech to a gathering of more than 130 developing countries. (The Group of 77 was established in the 1960s, as a subset of the UN. It has grown to include 133, but they’ve kept the original name.) I highly recommend that you read the entire speech. He is speaking to countries who have bonded over their histories with “developed” nations. They are rising in solidarity to resist colonization, exploitation and financial domination. In doing so, they are emerging with a new vision of what the world can look like and how we can all live in harmony. I found myself feeling a little hope for humanity, as I read it.

That sense of hope comes not because of the speech alone. The speech would be only so many pretty but hollow words, but for the fact that Bolivia is living through this transformation. They have seen their economy strengthen.

This paper examines the Bolivian economy since President Evo Morales took office in 2006. It finds that Bolivia’s economic growth in the last four years has been higher than at any time in the last 30 years, averaging 4.9 percent annually since the current administration took office in 2006. Projected GDP growth for 2009 is the highest in the hemisphere and follows its peak growth rate in 2008.

And that is directly related to their rejection of capitalism:

Key to the Bolivian economy’s relative success has been expansionary fiscal policy and control over national resources, especially the hydrocarbons sector – a relatively recent development.

In the last three years the government has begun several programs targeted at the poorest Bolivians. These include payments to poor families to increase school enrollment; an expansion of public pensions to relive extreme poverty among the elderly; and most recently, payments for uninsured mothers to expand prenatal and post-natal care, to reduce infant and child mortality.

It hasn’t been without it’s hardships or opposition. Some of Bolivia’s regions have more individually held wealth than others. In a bid to redistribute wealth, those who have to give up relative power are always going to resist. There was an attempt to foment disapproval of Morales, by the wealthy class. They were able to force a national referendum for a no-confidence vote on his presidency. They lost that battle soundly: two-thirds of the population supported him. That’s a high approval rating in any circumstance, but given how much radical change they are undertaking, it’s even more impressive. (We’ve seen a similar trajectory with Venezuela, where the wealthy class have tried to spark widespread violence during any functional democratic protest or election. Yet, Venezuelans continue to choose the difficult path of transition away from capitalism, as they’ve seen their quality of life vastly improve.)

What Bolivia and Ecuador – who embedded their own Buen Vivir into their constitution – and Venezuela are doing is inspiring. More than that, in this age of communication, the signals they are sending out into the world are resonating. All of those who have been dominated have the means to reach out to each other and build solidarity, share ideas, support one another and build something new inside existing global socio-economic structures. As they do so, they will help hollow out the pillars of capitalism. More and more people will see the lack of values in capitalism and witness the quality of life improvement for those who eschew it. When capitalism finally collapses, Vivir Bien may be there to cushion the blow and guide us into a more sustainable and harmonious future.

If you’re looking for a likely alternative future for human social organizing, keep your eyes on the Global South, particularly South America. You might notice, more and more, that cutting edge statements and perspectives are emanating from there. In Uruguay, they elected the “world’s poorest president.” He was one of the most successful guerrilla leaders during the 60s and 70s, he donates 90% of his salary to charity and maintains a very humble lifestyle farming chrysanthemums. He simply doesn’t have the same worldview as leaders of industrialized nations.

In September 2013, Mujica addressed the United Nations General Assembly, with a very long discourse devoted to humanity and globalization.

Like Morales in Bolivia, he remains popular. South Americans have known the oppression of colonialism and they seem to be relishing their time of having their voice of resistance on the global stage. They are accepting the messiness of transition because that’s still better than economic slavery. Just as we can’t turn to the privileged classes here for radical change in our culture, we can’t turn to the “industrialized nations” for a radical change in the course of human sustainability. Those who benefit from things as they are, aren’t going to design a system which demands that they give up their privileges. So, as we try to bolster ourselves against the despair that the latest news cycle and ongoing US political discourse evokes in us, I recommend we look south. Watch what they’re doing. Signal solidarity with that which resonates and hope. Hope they lead us to some breakthroughs. For, as Morales says:

Only we can save the source of life and society: Mother Earth. Our planet is under a death threat from the greed of predatory and insane capitalism.

Today, another world is not only possible, it is indispensable.

Today, another world is indispensable because, otherwise, no world will be possible.

And that other world of equality, complementarity and organic coexistence with Mother Earth can only emerge from the thousands of languages, colours and cultures existing in brotherhood and sisterhood among the Peoples of the South.

He’s not out there preaching austerity to the masses. He’s not telling us that if we would stop being lazy moochers and become better capitalists, everything would be better. He’s not encouraging us to raise GDP and mortgage our lives away. He’s letting us know that there are a significant number of people in the world who see that we need a completely new direction. Enough people to elect him and Mujica (Uruguay) and Maduro (Venezuela) and Correa (Ecuador) and many of those in the Group of 77, to represent their voices and carry this message:

“Today, another world is indispensable because, otherwise, no world will be possible.”

Gramsci and Gaza: Getting Palestinians Into Our Inner Space

3:31 pm in Uncategorized by Anti-Capitalist Meetup

by Anti-Capitalist Meetup and Galtisalie

We were talking about the space between us all –George Harrison>

It’s always the same story. For a fact that interests us, touches us, it is necessary that it becomes part of our inner life, it is necessary that it does not originate far from us, that is the people we know, people who belong to the circle of our human space. –Antonio Gramsci

Hasta allí Gramsci. Siempre un adelantado. Siempre con los que sufren. –Osvaldo Bayer

A woman in an oversized cage

“We have a Humane Society for Animals but do not think we should have a Humane Society for Humans.”

We all need justice and safety, none more than Jews in the wake of the Holocaust. But apparently those “filthy Arabs” are humans too. An artificial redefinition of space known as “a new nation” can be founded for ostensibly “humane” reasons but use patently inhumane means of achievement.

I thought in a “constitutional” “democracy” we were supposed to all agree on certain basic organic principles (not including freedom from want and fear, of course) and then work out the details with voting?–unless, of course, we are Native Peoples, African Americans, or European Americans who happened to be poor in the temperate Atlantic region of North America in the late 1700′s. What could possibly go wrong? For a contemporary answer to this non-academic question, so dependent on militarization and deception, look to the southeastern side of the Mediterranean Sea.

The mad, unjust, and unsafe Zionist experiment we now know as Israel has commonly exercised cultural hegemony over U.S. society in relation to the Arab people of Palestine (which includes in my definition what we now call “Israel”). A U.S. President is expected to declare himself (or, perhaps one day soon, herself) “a Zionist” and profess allegiance to Israel’s “right” not merely to exist but to exist “as a Jewish state,” even though this implies sanctioning ethnic cleansing and other forms of oppression in the past and in the future. I hereby call bullshit on this. I am putting down my sitar and typing this post in solidarity with all of the people of Palestine.

Typing, and talking and singing, about the space between us all can be part of the foundation for ending this cultural hegemony. Doing other things positive about the physical hegemony of Israel over Palestine may be the result. But let us not neglect the inner geographical challenge. If the suffering of people in distant lands does not even lead to our mourning their suffering, I think that Gramsci and Bayer would say that our typing, talking, and singing is superficial and that we are not really “with those who suffer.” We have not humanized those whom we do not mourn upon their suffering.

This is not picking on Israel. Dehumanization is the tactic upon which the U.S. was established. It is the tactic upon which capitalism rules the world. Where I live, in the Deep South, “Whites” were quite comfortable singing praises to Jesus while killing and taking the “Indians’” land and killing and exploiting “Blacks” (I’ve not, of course, used the racist terms commonly used by “White” “Christians” for Native Peoples and African Americans back in “the day,” which still exists in much of the Deep South) to fuel “our” (how sweet!) economy, and after that for a hundred years after the Constitution was rewritten, to continue to deny “Blacks” living in what the founding racist fathers decided to call “the United States of America” the basic rights of all human beings. So we are damn good at dehumanization, in the U.S. and all around the world. It may be our most well-developed mass skill.

The question is, how do we end this endless oppressive inhumane rut of dehumanization? We have a Humane Society for Animals but for some reason do not think we should have a Humane Society for Humans. When my dog dies I cry, but when and if I learn that a Palestinian is hit by an Israeli bomb paid for by the U.S. I am supposed to thank the Good Lord that Armageddon is upon us.

How do we come to mourn persons we will never know? We must somehow admit them into our circle of human space. And our human space begins with our own inner lives. We have the right to protect ourselves, including our bodies and our inner lives. But don’t others have the same right, even Palestinians?

We must “always advance.” Solidarity, including standing with the oppressed, depends upon our actively promoting a mindfulness in a global neoliberal society where we are supposed to be mindless consumers. We need authentic harmony, not induced distraction. We must come to value more than consumption and the need for our own self-protection in an uncertain capitalist world. Unsustainable, Globe warming consumerism must be jettisoned and self-protection must somehow come into balance with self-sacrifice for those who do not have protection.

Read the rest of this entry →

On “The Making of Global Capitalism”

2:46 pm in Uncategorized by Anti-Capitalist Meetup

 

From Diomedes77 and Anti-Capitalist Meet-Up

Cover of On the Making of Global Capitalism

A Marxist look at global capitalism.

As a first group diary, this will be fairly narrow in scope and ambition. There have already been numerous excellent reviews of The Making of Global Capitalism, and a symposium over at Jacobin. It’s a bit too late at this point for me to try to compete with any of that, so I thought I’d just intro one of the most important books of the last decade, in hopes that it might spark debate here.

Leave it to the Canadians to get things right — or left, as the case may be. Leo Panitch and Sam Gindin are both Canadian professors, socialists, and schooled in Marxism, but unlike their American peers, not subject to automatic censure and scorn. As this group is no doubt aware, socialists and/or Marxists in America are pretty much shut out of public discussion, demonized without a hearing, and absent from debates in a field they should dominate. No “school” of economic thought comes close to the rigor, objectivity, depth of analysis or independence of the Marxians, and no analysis is more needed in our day. But in America, the system and its willing executioners have effectively silenced them.

Again, this is not the case in Canada, or Europe, where a far healthier, but still less than optimum diversity exists.

The book in question is exhaustively researched. It’s nearly overwhelming in its breadth and detail, and makes for an excellent pairing with Piketty’s recent Capital, which I have but have not yet read beyond its introduction. This is not a beach book. This is not a casual, page-turning barn-burner. But it is a serious work of scholarship, and in my view, deserves at least three adjectives — which should be rarely used:

definitive, classic and indispensable.

The reasons for that are pretty simple for me. Panitch and Gindin have mapped out American economic history so we can connect the dots. Like the best scholars, they rarely interject their own conclusions into the mix, and leave that up to the reader. But, unlike other attempts along these lines, the book reads as something inevitable, a process toward logical conclusions, with each section reinforcing this along the way. From their preface:

This book is about globalization and the state. It shows that the spread of capitalist markets, values and social relationships around the world, far from being an inevitable outcome of inherently expansionist economic tendencies, has depended on the agency of states and of one state in particular: America. Indeed, insofar as the relationship between the American state and the changing dynamics of production and finance was inscribed in the very process that came to be known as globalization, this book is devoted to understanding how it came to be that the American state developed the interest and capacity to superintend the making of global capitalism. In this respect, this is emphatically not another book on US military interventions; it is about the political economy of American empire. In this quite distinctive imperial state, the Pentagon and CIA have been much less important to the process of capitalist globalization than the US Treasury and Federal Reserve. This is so not just in terms of sponsoring the penetration and emulation of US economic practices abroad, but much more generally in terms of promoting free capital movements and free trade on the one hand, while on the other trying to contain the international economic crises a global capitalism spawns.

The trick for governments, as they demonstrate, is to walk the tightrope between allowing the most free rein possible for Capital, while avoiding, or delaying inevitable crises. Toward the end of the book, the authors show how the American state moved from an attempt to prevent economic catastrophe, to simply trying to manage or contain them after the fact. This reader connected the dots from that and the preceding pages to note that the more freedom the state gives to capitalism, the bigger it needs to be in order to bail it out, defend it, prop it up, keep it going. Which points to one of the rare weaknesses of this account, in my view. I think the authors don’t give enough weight to military intervention on behalf of Capital. But given the overall brilliance of their analysis, I can live with that.

Contrary to right-wing myths about “big gubmint” and capitalism, there is a paradox in place. The more we privatize and commodify existence, the greater the need for governments. The more we extend market integration, the more likely local disasters become global, as we saw most recently in 2007/2008. As in, the more “successful” the American state is in spreading the gospel of Supply Side Jesus, the more likely we are of having Armageddon after Armageddon, until, finally, governments no longer have the resources to begin anew. Capitalism will be its own death, but it’s unlikely to happen because workers finally have that much needed epiphany, find true solidarity with each other, and throw off their yokes. It is far more likely that capitalism dies of its own irrationality and unsustainable nature, its Grow or Die trap.

As an ardent anti-capitalist, I long for the day of its death. But not that way. Not the way of final, worldwide economic catastrophe. Too many people will suffer, and it’s actually far more likely, in my view, that the replacements will be right-wing dictatorships, rather than the first modern day attempt at true socialism, real democracy, and actual emancipation. To get there, we need a democratic revolution, a non-violent revolution, and to provoke that we need to show the best route to “limited government” is without capitalism, which requires massive government to keep it alive. The Making of Global Capitalism provides mountains of evidence for the toxic, centuries-old marriage between State and Capital. It’s time for a divorce.

*A good C-Span discussion by the authors here.

Anti-Capitalist Meetup: Misogyny and Capitalism

2:47 pm in Uncategorized by Anti-Capitalist Meetup

Recent Supreme Court rulings highlight the persistent presence of misogyny in the US.

Megan Amundson, executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Massachusetts, expressed her anger over the Supreme Court’s message that “women are second-class citizens, not capable of making our healthcare decisions without the interference of our bosses and complete strangers on the street,” and she encouraged the crowd to send a message back.

Supreme Court Nominee Under Scrutiny
This was the most striking language in the buffer zone ruling, to me:

petitioners are not protestors; they seek not merely to express their opposition to abortion, but to engage in personal, caring, consensual conversations with women about various alternatives.

Unbidden strangers given the rights of “counselor.” Since when is anyone who wants to talk to me considered my counselor? Why is the word “consensual” in that sentence? Patients haven’t consented to this counseling. They are hounded by it. This kind of distortion of someone’s behavior and giving it a title which then affords them rights, when they are really just harassing people would never happen if the recipients of said counseling were white males. Where is the autonomy of the woman in this interaction? This is codified misogyny.

In a country which claims to be “democratic” and to believe in “liberty”, how is it that autonomy is not fully respected for all people?

It would seem that something overrides our belief in the respect of the individual which should be inherent to a democracy and our commitment to privacy when it comes to personal liberty. Could that be capitalism?

Will you join me for an exploration of the linkages between capitalism and misogyny?

***********

author’s note:
For understanding my communications, please know that I distinguish sexism from misogyny, just as I distinguish bigotry from racism. Sexism and bigotry are personal expressions of seeing a demographic group as somehow inferior to oneself. Misogyny and racism are larger cultural systems and atmospheres which serve to keep certain demographics oppressed for the benefit of other demographics. I give an example at the end of the diary.

I want us to explore not only what it is we experience as the actuated reality of a country which worships the concept of capitalism, but what it is we would want in the country of our dreams. Toward that end, I have a question at the end of the diary which I hope sparks some fun and creative conversation. What lies between here and there is simply leading to that.

An Imperfect Metaphor
So, we in the US claim to believe in democracy and personal liberty, yet when we look at our behaviors both as a nation and culture, we see those principles betrayed quite often. I’d like us to think of the country as an organism. A living, breathing entity with a complex set of biological systems. Our principles or values are the heart – the source of our vision and mission, our laws are the brain – directing how we carry out the mission, our populace is the gut – it’s responses and reactions reveal the harmony or disharmony between the heart and the brain. The political and economic systems are the arms and legs with which we walk through the mission and feed the internal systems.

If there is discord and suffering, let’s see it as an illness. Something in the system isn’t serving all the parts of the system. Things are not stable. It won’t be a perfect metaphor, but it can help us to think about how things can move in an unhealthy direction without anyone consciously steering it there.

This is an easy metaphor for me, as I live with a chronic illness. I know many people who do. Often, there were signs of things going wrong earlier than we acknowledged. For me, it was persistent exhaustion. I would complain about how no amount of sleep rejuvenated me. People around me would say that I was stressed and not handling it well. I believed that and kept pushing myself. Once more serious symptoms such as cognitive decline, temporary loss of vision, debilitating pain and seizures presented themselves I finally went to the doctor. Still, it took two more years to get a diagnosis. Why?

It took that long because I had contracted the disease long before and it didn’t look as expected, now. I had an “advanced” version. Something far worse than the original disease. We still had to address the disease, but that would not fix everything. The disease is now pernicious and will return if I’m not vigilant about it. Worse, it had ravaged my body so badly that my systems got messed up and couldn’t recognize healthy cells from destructive ones. My body now attacks itself. I must consciously tend to myself all the time, if I am to have any quality of life. The minute I am lax about it, I lose more functionality.

You see where I’m going here? A society can contract a disease and not realize it. It can start to show a symptom and be in denial about having the symptom and then about recognizing where the symptom comes from. It can live with the disease for so long that it end up not being able to tell the difference between healthy cells and destructive ones. It can begin to perpetuate the symptoms of the disease all on it’s own. One has to work hard to consciously recognize the symptoms and address both the disease and the resulting disorders.

If you build a democracy based on the tenets of individual liberty and equality, how can you have slavery and misogyny and genocide? Those are symptoms of an infection. Likely, something you are not conscious of.

In a healthy organism, the heart and brain and gut and arms and legs are all working together in harmony doing the right thing to keep things running smoothly. If they are fighting with one another, or one of the systems is suppressed, something is wrong.

An Infection Read the rest of this entry →

A-C Meetup: Part 2 on the Need for Anti-Capitalist Democratic Internationalism by Galtisalie

2:46 pm in Uncategorized by Anti-Capitalist Meetup

Things are certainly going to crapola for many poor Central American children these days. But at least they are not having their lives ruined by elected socialists. Barbarism is so much better. Somalian freedom anyone? Where, oh where, have I read about this before? Some murdered democratic revolutionary internationalist perhaps.

The Political-Economic Basis For Anti-Capitalist Democratic Internationalism

We must refuse to separate morality from economics, to ignore the historical and political dimensions of economic justice, and to narrowly define “justice” as the head-in-the-sand enforcement of U.S. laws. (According to a good Jesuit who mourned for those dying in Central America, including his owns priests, justice should be in the service of love.) For instance, when we receive reports about Latin American children in flight to the U.S., we must be mindful that the U.S. has spent generations undermining Latin America efforts to achieve economic justice.

Every once in a while, the U.S. gets a stark example of international blowback. But what if the projectiles involved in this scenario are small defenseless human beings? Does the U.S. learn from its mistakes and attack the underlying problems? No. Instead, in the case of international blowback, as with domestic blowback, we simply blame and harass the victims.

In a detailed report, the UN High Commissioner on Refugees has explained the need for international protection for unaccompanied children from Central America and Mexico. (http://www.unhcrwashington.org/sites/default/files/UAC_UNHCR_Children%20on%20the%20Run_Full%20Report.pdf.) But coming from the UN, it is ignored by the U.S. government.

The politically-expedient way of dealing with blowback, if you are a supposedly compassionate U.S. president, is to look at legal minutia with a view to stepping up deportation, rather than seeing the big picture and your actual legal authority.

It is easy to see why a president concerned about mid-term elections might cower. After all, Cuban Canadian USian Senator Ted Cruz has our backs. Unfortunately, the helpless young human beings who are on the run and are receiving an unjust response to the blowback their fleeing constitutes only understand their own desperation. So, for a U.S. president to act compassionately using his legal authority risks losing mid-term elections, and that is just that. But what does that say about U.S. voters, particularly those on the likely winning side in mid-term elections?

It is a cruel sanctimonious voter, and hardly one who holds up to timeless standards of decency, who would be swayed to vote against helping the innocent and helpless. Many of these voters follow a religion that claims, if they will excuse the lack of the King James Version, “el señor protégé a los forasteros; sostiene al huérfano y a la viuda.” (Salmo 146.) But perhaps God only speaks English. (But wasn’t that Psalm written in Hebrew?)

The U.S. in its international relations discourages economic justice because it smacks of socialism. Socialism, of course, sounds good to me. However, the U.S. will not even ratify the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights signed by President Carter. This unkind refusal to recognize standards of material decency does not sound good to me at all.

But there is much more to the story. A Latin American government going to the left risks being toppled by its U.S.-funded military. The U.S., under pressure from Republican Cuban Americans concerned about making leftist dominos fall, assuming it was not, as claimed by a Zelaya minister, directly responsible for the reactionary coup, will happily move on to the illegal replacement “president,” who ironically will have been put into power because the leftist was wanting the people to have greater control over their democracy and constitution. The UN General Assembly unanimously condemned the 2009 military coup of Honduras’s elected president.

Shame on the elected president of a Central American country for moving left and seeking some measure of economic justice. That, the U.S., or more importantly, U.S. transnational corporations, simply cannot abide.

The coup’s legacy is the very violence that is forcing children to flee for their lives, with an able assist from the failed U.S. drug war, which turns Central America into a drug transit zone. And then we complain about the foreign orphans who have no choice but to flee.

Ultimately, what can end this immigrant-bashing and “border pressure”? Anti-capitalist democratic internationalism of the type I think Luxemburg and Marx, not to mention Eugene V. Debs and Reinhold Niebuhr, could endorse.

I suggest that there are two principal political-economic reasons why truly compassionate USians must support anti-capitalist democratic internationalism. One is a “prophylactic” reason and the other is a “stimulative” reason. Both are interrelated, and the distinctions I draw are not absolute but illustrative.

The first/prophylactic reason is that, as the desperation of Central American children reflects: the U.S. is not isolated unto itself, as the border zeitgeist would indicate, but is instead the senior partner of global capitalist imperialism, creating destruction and exploitation of people and the environment all around the world.

The second/stimulative reason is that the workers of the U.S. themselves need socialism and are unlikely to get what they need from domestic, plutocrat-controlled political “democracy” alone, which will require outside stimulus. And, circling back to the first reason, if the U.S. does not itself become socialistic, it is unlikely that the cancer of capitalism will cease expanding and re-expanding around the planet until no more profits are to be made and the planet has been thoroughly cooked. Hence, outside stimulation of the U.S. to become socialistic is necessary both for the good of the U.S. and for the good of the rest of the planet, if one cares about it.

On the first reason, I will briefly turn to Rosa Luxemburg. On the second, I will briefly turn to Marx. I am no scholar of either, and many of the people who read this will be scholars of both. I look forward to their corrections and additions to the extent I misconstrue anything. I am not trying to win an academic, much less a dogma, fight but merely to suggest that these two thinkers gave good guidance worth considering on the topics to which I am assigning them. The “reasons” I am giving are ultimately my own interpretations of reality and potential reality, as opposed to the referenced works of the authors, so please do not blame anyone else, including Luxemburg or Marx, for any interpretative failings I am making.

Capitalists Gobbling Up Conditions of Accumulation

I am using as my reference Rosa Luxemburg’s The Accumulation of Capital, 1913. There is a reason that the U.S. supports free trade outside its borders and outside of any international social compact, and this is that capitalism requires this for its own continuation. Thus, capitalism ever seeks to control society and to resist society controlling capitalism. “[A]part from the observation of price fluctuations there is no social control – no social link exists between the individual producers other than the exchange of commodities.” (Ch. 1)

In contrast to every other form of society, including “a primitive communist agrarian community” and “an economic system based on slave labour or corvée,” with a capitalist society:

in certain periods all the ingredients of reproduction may be available, both labour and means of production, and yet some vital needs of society for consumer goods may be left unfulfilled. We find that in spite of these resources reproduction may in part be completely suspended and in part curtailed. Here it is no despotic interference with the economic plan that is responsible for the difficulties in the process of production. Quite apart from all technical conditions, reproduction here depends on purely social considerations: only those goods are produced which can with certainty he expected to sell, and not merely to sell, but to sell at the customary profit. Thus profit becomes an end in itself, the decisive factor which determines not only production but also reproduction. Not only does it decide in each case what work is to be undertaken, how it is to be carried out, and how the products are to be distributed; what is more, profit decides, also, at the end of every working period, whether the labour process is to be resumed, and, if so, to what extent and in what direction it should be made to operate.
(Id.)

And profit generation requires both ever-increasing markets and ever-increasing places to accumulate capital. This is a problem even larger than the problem of booms and busts: “cyclical movement of boom, slump, and crisis, does not represent the whole problem of capitalist reproduction, although it is an essential element of it.” (Id.) Other than squeezing the workers of the world, capitalists can only stay in business by expanding:

Expansion becomes in truth a coercive law, an economic condition of existence for the individual capitalist. Under the rule of competition, cheapness of commodities is the most important weapon of the individual capitalist in his struggle for a place in the market. Now all methods of reducing the cost of commodity production permanently amount in the end to an expansion of production; excepting those only which aim at a specific increase of the rate of surplus value by measures such as wage cutting or lengthening the hours of work.
(Id.)

Section Three of Luxemburg’s master work details “The Historical Conditions of Accumulation.” In contrast to most of Sections One and Two, it is readily understandable to the layperson. I would recommend that all anti-capitalists read it. It will tick you off. Luxemburg describes capitalist exploitation of humanity in clear terms sure to raise your blood pressure.

Simply put, capitalism, if it stays as the global economic system, is hard-wired to maximize exploitation of the workers of the world and the other physical and chemical resources of the world until profits can no longer be made. Honduras and the rest of the world are merely places for capitalists to make money. All of these varying places will be sought out, to varying degrees and in varying ways, and as much as possible any vestiges of decency eliminated, until every bit of profit can be soaked out or capitalism or human life itself ends.

Political Democracy’s Limitations and Potential in the U.S.

The U.S. is far from a perfect place, and that of course includes its political system. In my spare time, I operate a one-person volunteer website with a simple post on Reinhold Niebuhr’s Constructive Criticism of Democracy that is, as far as my obscure website goes, frequently read. I think that on some level religious people want to receive permission from a theologian like Niebuhr to express their doubts about democracy.

By the same token, I would like to use Karl Marx to “give” leftists permission to hold out some hope for U.S. democracy, but only under certain circumstances where it receives outside stimulation to be much deeper. If the democracy of the U.S. does not assert extensive control over the U.S. economy, its democracy will continue to be stagnant and the workers of the U.S. and the world will continue to suffer under the capitalist hegemony which the democratic communist Luxemburg so well documented.

In a short 1872 speech, Marx famously held out hope that the U.S. could undergo a non-violent revolution:

You know that the institutions, mores, and traditions of various countries must be taken into consideration, and we do not deny that there are countries — such as America, England, and if I were more familiar with your institutions, I would perhaps also add Holland — where the workers can attain their goal by peaceful means. This being the case, we must also recognize the fact that in most countries on the Continent the lever of our revolution must be force; it is force to which we must some day appeal in order to erect the rule of labor.

But later in the speech he made a qualification which applies to the U.S. and every nation:

Citizens, let us think of the basic principle of the International: Solidarity. Only when we have established this life-giving principle on a sound basis among the numerous workers of all countries will we attain the great final goal which we have set ourselves. The revolution must be carried out with solidarity; this is the great lesson of the French Commune, which fell because none of the other centres — Berlin, Madrid, etc. — developed great revolutionary movements comparable to the mighty uprising of the Paris proletariat.

So far as I am concerned, I will continue my work and constantly strive to strengthen among all workers this solidarity that is so fruitful for the future. No, I do not withdraw from the International, and all the rest of my life will be, as have been all my efforts of the past, dedicated to the triumph of the social ideas which — you may be assured! — will lead to the world domination by the proletariat.

Yesterday, I did a diary in Hellraisers Journal on Henry O. Morris’s Waiting for the Signal. Written 25 years after Marx’s speech, the novel suggests that by the end of the 19th century many U.S. socialists had given up hope of a non-violent revolution in the U.S.

How can Marx’s and Morris’s competing views be reconciled? The critical ingredient for the U.S. achieving a non-violent socialist revolution seems to me for the workers of the U.S. to be in solidarity with the other workers of the world. As long as we each view ourselves as competitors as opposed to brothers and sisters, we will be highly susceptible to divide-and-conquer. Yet, workers in the U.S. are in bad shape, having lost much of the manufacturing sector to China and other low-wage nations in the worldwide capitalist race to the bottom. To me, a central focal point of all workers of the world needs to be recognition of a global social compact. With such recognition, non-violent pressure from abroad, and not just blood pressure, might yet build for the U.S. to become an economically just nation for its own workers and those of the world.

Laissez Fairyland — Making the Intangible Less Tangential

3:01 pm in Uncategorized by Anti-Capitalist Meetup

by Annieli

Here we present a simple solution to see that a fad is the result of the same type of behavior that causes any other good to be purchased. It is the characteristic of the good, and the interaction of the various agents with their neighbors that causes the peculiar pattern of behavior that is called fad.

ReaganomicsIs Reaganism such a good and as a commodity is its commodity fetishism available for analysis beyond its intangible assets. Yet Reaganism is tangible and attempts to memorialize the commodity extend materially far beyond the cinematic and the televisual nature of the Great Communicator. The fad of VooDoo(sic) Economics is a useful example of how to discuss intangible assets as forms of virtual capital. The production and reproduction of the Reaganist myth is its own market. Its production of character/reputation and trust/reciprocity is of course legendary and its diffusion to the North American form of teabaggery continues with the institutional support of right-wing venture capital like the Kochs.

In the United States, commentators frequently equate supply-side economics with Reaganomics. The fiscal policies of Ronald Reagan were largely based on supply-side economics. During Reagan’s 1980 presidential campaign, the key economic concern was double digit inflation, which Reagan described as “Too many dollars chasing too few goods,” but rather than the usual dose of tight money, recession and layoffs, with their consequent loss of production and wealth, he promised a gradual and painless way to fight inflation by “producing our way out of it”.

An example of fad economics occurred in 1980, when a small group of economists advised Presidential candidate, Ronald Reagan, that an across-the-board cut in income tax rates would raise tax revenue. They argued that if people could keep a higher fraction of their income, people would work harder to earn more income. Even though tax rates would be lower, income would rise by so much, they claimed, that tax revenues would rise. Almost all professional economists, including most of those who supported Reagan’s proposal to cut taxes, viewed this outcome as far too optimistic. Lower tax rates might encourage people to work harder and this extra effort would offset the direct effects of lower tax rates to some extent, but there was no credible evidence that work effort would rise by enough to cause tax revenues to rise in the face of lower tax rates. … People on fad diets put their health at risk but rarely achieve the permanent weight loss they desire. Similarly, when politicians rely on the advice of charlatans and cranks, they rarely get the desirable results they anticipate. After Reagan’s election, Congress passed the cut in tax rates that Reagan advocated, but the tax cut did not cause tax revenues to rise.

As against this, the commodity-form, and the value-relation of the products of labour within which it appears, have absolutely no connection with the physical nature of the commodity and the material relations arising out of this. It is nothing but the definite social relation between men themselves which assumes here, for them, the fantastic form of a relation between things. In order, therefore, to find an analogy we must take flight into the misty realm of religion. There the products of the human brain appear as autonomous figures endowed with a life of their own, which enter into relations both with each other and with the human race. So it is in the world of commodities with the products of men’s hands. I call this the fetishism which attaches itself to the products of labour as soon as they are produced as commodities, and is therefore inseparable from the production of commodities. — Karl Marx, Capital, Volume I

As one can perhaps see, the transgressive role of the State in the struggle among classes will become the key problem for making this critique work as will the impending institutional arrangements making that State ubiquitous and global.

In this present crisis, government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem. — Ronald Reagan

Reaganism was a political perspective in the United States based on a friendly-seeming, grandfatherly-type ex-actor telling us that government could do no good, and then proceeding to become the head of the executive branch of the United States government, drastically expanding the public debt as he saw fit. Why anyone believed it is beyond us.

Prominent lies promoted by Mr. Reagan include:

  • The “free market” is always more efficient than the government at providing solutions to problems. (See universal health care)
  • The “government” is incapable of solving a country’s problems (See Hurricane Katrina)
  • Some woman somewhere on welfare had a Cadillac and a color TV. (He made this up).
  • Hardworking blue collar Americans should hate suffering poor Americans for eating their tax dollars instead of working their asses off for giant corporations themselves. (See trade union)
  • The “rich” are a beleaguered and overtaxed suffering demographic. (Who pay well for political campaigns!)

In Britain, there was a very similar political movement referred to as “Thatcherism,” named for the Iron Lady who advocated the same principles. The impact of this was slightly less than that of the States.

In Marxist philosophy, however, the term Cultural Hegemony describes the domination of a culturally diverse society by the ruling class, who manipulate the culture of the society — the beliefs, explanations, perceptions, values, and mores — so that their ruling-class worldview becomes the worldview that is imposed and accepted as the cultural norm; as the universally valid dominant ideology that justifies the social, political, and economic status quo as natural, inevitable, perpetual and beneficial for everyone, rather than as artificial social constructs that benefit only the ruling class

We live in a Tea (Party) service economy

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