Recycling, composting, even bravely volunteering at the soup kitchen and confronting the reality of poverty head-on are admirable steps that many of our affluent citizens take, to, as they say, “give back.” Yet in spite of their best efforts the 1% takes more and more of the planet’s resources, leaving less and less for everybody else.
Even here in the wealthiest nation on earth, the majority of people don’t enjoy anything close to the comforts and opportunities that well-off folks take for granted. A little bit of charity, and token reform won’t fix what is broken. Dramatic changes, bolder than anything dreamed of in FDR’s New Deal are urgently required.
Our elites have lost credibility when they ask us to trust their “leadership.” They aren’t leading us to a land of milk and honey, they are asking us to sacrifice even more of our standard of living so that the billionaires who rule our planet can add a few more zeroes to their offshore bank balances. These plutocrats could literally stuff millions in cash into the fireplace, every day, and still be able to buy dozens of mansions, yachts, jets and anything else they could want. Their insane greed is disgusting, yet they hold themselves up as role-models. All that it takes for the greed-heads to win is for decent people to stand apart from the class war. There is no middle-ground. Just like in fascist Germany, those who don’t resist the criminals are at least partly complicit in their crimes.
This leads me to Rick Wolff’s recent suggestion that we may be entering a time where questioning the utility of capitalism will become more common in mainstream American discourse [ http://mrzine.monthlyreview.org/2013/wolff190213.html ]
“Early in their histories, rising capitalisms in Europe and the US experienced rapid growth. Bitter clashes often arose between workers and capitalists over who would benefit and how much from that growth. We are likely to have at least as bitter clashes now as struggles pit winners against losers in economic decline. In any case, the threats and risks of capitalist-driven decline and severe capitalist cycles in western Europe and the US put the system into question in ways not seen for many decades.”
So, here is my plea to the more affluent (as opposed to insanely rich) brothers and sisters of North America. The time is long past where modest reformism, as you wait for a rising tide to lift all boats, is appropriate. You have long known in your hearts that capitalism is unfair to many. Now that it is clear that capitalism is unfair to moist (including you!) hasn’t the moment arrived to radically transform, rather than slightly reform, the capitalist system?