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Medicare…Attitudes….History….A Rant

6:31 pm in Uncategorized by cmaukonen

Angry

This diary is a rant. I make no bones about it.

I just finished up my Medicare supplement and Part D drug sign up. And even I was amazed at how many companies what a piece of the action. One even had someone come by to sell me their particular plan. Apparently it is so lucrative that those who have nothing at all to do with health insurance want in on it. But if you do not have a supplement plan the copays and deductibles can break you in a heart beat.

There are so many got-chas and things you have to look out for concerning the coverage it’s unbelievable.  I can see why some people would not want the federal government involved. I like the idea of Medicare for all or single payer but I am not sure I would want the federal government involved either.

But this has little to do with what kind or shape the government is or the economic system. It has more to do, I feel, with the country as a whole. As George Carlin has stated,

But where do the people think these politicians come from? They don’t fall out of the sky.
They don’t pass through a membrane from another reality. They come from american parents
and american families, american homes, american schools, american churches, american
businesses and american universities. and they’re elected by american citizens. This is
the best we can do, folks. This is what we have to offer. It’s what our system produces:
Garbage in, garbage out! If you have selfish, ignorant citizens, if you have selfish,
ignorant citizens, you are gonna get selfish, ignorant leaders.

The federal government with it’s bureaucracy and rules is convinced someone is going to rip it off. And if the past is any indication, they are right in assuming this. So they make  a good idea as difficult to use as it can be and yet get ripped off.

This country does not have an economic problem or a governance problem. It has an attitude problem. There are far too many people in this country that feel privileged, owed, special, entitled and prideful. That are arrogant, self righteous and spoiled.

They are forgetting their own and this countries history. That for a lot of people who came here it was work your but off from before sunrise to after sun set just go get by. That the west was won not by some adventure some souls, but by people who lost their farms and land when the weather turned on them and they had little choice. [Read 1800 and froze to death].   That others in other countries had figured out electric lighting, automobiles, radio, television….That everyone except the Natives are immigrants and these immigrants came here either to escape persecution or starvation or to make easy money or keep from going to jail.

I remember there was still a lot of talk about the DAR [ Daughters of The American Revolution]. A bunch of stuck up snooty old ladies who could some how trace their families back to the founding fathers. Well good for them. Most of the “founding fathers” were smugglers and tax dodgers and thieves of some sort.

The truth is that the only reason we have not so far been bombed back to the stone age is pure luck and has zero to do with any exceptional-ism.  We are still useful to enough people that no one has sought to put us in our place….yet.

But there are those who know someone could if they wanted to

Until the majority of people in this country rids them selves of their attitudes of superiority and gains some humility, I don’t see anything much changing.  This likely will not happen until we are put in our place.

 

R Buckminster Fuller vs Capitalism

10:17 am in Uncategorized by cmaukonen

R Buckminster Fuller

R Buckminster Fuller was a man ahead of his time. He was a design genius and a global thinker who came up with the most advanced and amazing designs for housing and transportation. The geodesic dome which are used world wide and Dymaxion Car were ahead of their time. But it was his philosophy and world view that I found the most attractive.

As the picture states we as humans no longer have to toil to feed, clothe and house ourselves as we did in antiquity.   This came about with the industrial revolution and the ability to generate more product than could be sold. When governments had to give price supports to agriculture and buy up surpluses to keep it in business.

The same for other products and services.   Fuller saw this as the picture/quote above states.   So what is our problem ?

It’s not employment. It’s not inequality. It’s not racism, or sexism or any other ism

Or problem is with out thinking. Our self view, which as WendyDavis points out, we have been indoctrinated with, yay I would say brain washed with since we were born.. Our self image as it were.

We judge ourselves and others – our self worth and others worth – by what they have and can get monetarily and otherwise. That unless one in toiling for what they get and are remunerated some arbitrary value, they are some how less worthy of the basics of existence.

But how is that the actor in a daytime TV drama is worth more than the garbage person ? How is that the guy who designs on a computer some idiotic electronic toy worth more that the person who serves my dinner ? Or grows my food or keeps my road free of potholes the size of bomb craters ?

We trouw out daily tuns of food, have 100s of houses sitting empty, throw away perfectly good clothes and electronics only to have them pile up with nothing else better to do with them. Plastics litter the landscape and oceans. Yet we cannot adequately feed or house people ?

It  is NOT or government and economy that needs changing, it our thinking that needs changing. Our view of ourselves and the the world that needs changing.  Our capitalistic values. We live now in a world with satellites and space stations and the ability to talk around the world from a park bench and yet our world view and especially our values have not changed much since Louis XIV and it is killing us and destroying the planet we are perfectly able to save. Unless you want to spend your life or you children spend their lives living in a hovel or cave, we need to change this.

Industrial America Went the Way of the Dinosaur and For The Same Reasons

1:38 pm in Uncategorized by cmaukonen

Packard Plant – flickr creative commons

WWII built or rebuilt industrial America. Big plants and factories were needed to manufacture the essentials of war. Aircraft and tanks and ships and guns and electronics and vehicles of all sorts. After the war with the help of government contracts and consumer demand, these big plants and factories still hummed with activity.

Steel plants turned out the steel that was needed for nearly everything. Cars and trucks and buses and even radios and television sets and stereos and washers and dryers. They all used steel and the steel plants hummed with activity day and night. Employing thousands, if not millions of people for nearly every aspect of manufacturing required people to perform some task. Someone to operate the lifts and belts and mills for the automobile engines and transmissions. Someone to wire chassis or assemblies for the electronics. Even when RCA introduced the printed circuit, someone had to make the circuit boards and somebody else to put the parts on them and still somebody else to put the boards on and off the flow solder apparatus.

And there were engineers and draftsmen and technicians to design all of this by hand.

Meanwhile the Europeans and Japanese and Koreans and all were rebuilding from the ravages of war. Building new smaller, more efficient plants. Using the newest technology. Beginning to use transistors in their products. Learning how best to manufacture them and improve on them. Using new techniques to  assemble transistor radios. Make the printed circuit boards. Changing and modifying them year after year to improve them and make them more reliable. For they knew they had to do this if they wanted any chance to compete with American products.

Most Americans lived pretty well. Even blue collar workers, thanks to the unions and the fact that there were more jobs than people. But this would not last.

While American auto makers ere building big cars for the baby boomer families with a lot of children, Volkswagen began importing cars built for the baby boomer children themselves. Small, inexpensive, thrifty and easy to work on. Soon other European manufacturers did as well. And then the Japanese.

And the American manufacturing firms like RCA, GE and Raytheon were using the same techniques to make transistors as they did vacuum tubes — each one perfectly functional. The Japanese were busy trying to build them hundreds at a time. At first the fall out rate was high, but with analysis of the fall out and why, changing the technique and going back again, the fall out rate dropped. As did the cost per item. Making Japanese transistors, and then integrated circuits much less expensive than American counter parts. The American companies began shipping their transistor manufacturing overseas to the updated, more efficient Japanese plants or got out of the business all together.

European manufactures had much smaller plants and their business model very different than American manufacturing, producing smaller quantities of more expensive  cars and electronics targeted not to the lower class consumer, but to those who could afford it.  Or to those who wanted smaller, more sporty cars that could handle the European roads.

Japanese cars and electronics began to show up. Smaller and better made, though not so much at first. It wasn’t long before they out sold American products.

It was not just the price and performance though that did in American industry but capitalism and the size of industry itself that helped to bring about it’s demise. American industry with it’s huge plants became like the dinosaur of long past. Just too large to change fast enough to catch up. For RCA to compete with the new Sony sets would have meant a complete restructuring of the manufacturing process and even rebuilding of a number of it’s facilities.  Costing millions of dollars and digging into it’s profits, a situation the capitalistic investors would not tolerate. All they cared about was a return on their investment.  A situation that was to hit a number of car companies as well. And this can be seen in this picture of the old Packard Plant in Detroit.

American Motors and RCA went out of business or were broken up and sold off. Like the dinosaur, their shear size and weight condemning them to eventual extinction.

Electronics firms began to ship their production to over seas facilities more equipped to handle the emerging technology of the time.  Lest the capitalists force them to shut.

Others simply closed up shop.

Maybe, just maybe, had some of these business been cooperatively owned and cooperatively run without the hindrance and financial demands of capitalistic investors, they might have been able to change, adapt, evolve and survive. We will never know.

Capitalism 201: Applied Capitalism

6:19 pm in Uncategorized by cmaukonen

We have heard and read a great deal about capitalism form some very astute people such as Professor Richard Wolff and read numerous articles about and Marx and Marxist theory on-line and from many books.

Alaric entering Athens – flickr

I refer to them as theoretical capitalism.

This I will call applied capitalism. As it it has been and is currently applied in most countries and on the streets.

Capitalism Plunders

This has been the case from the very first. It plunders land, resources and people. Forget the propaganda that you have been told about hard work and enterprise and all. Capitalists take what they want, if necessary by force. This country was plundered from the first. Of land and animals and resources. From the natives. Africa was plundered and it’s people were brought here and there labor was plundered.

When people like Krugman and Reich talk about “growth,” what they mean is resources and people to plunder. The financial sector and the military industrial sector is all about plundering. JP Morgan working in collusion with Bernie Madoff is a perfect example of this. As well as the various wars and military bases.

Capitalism Exploits

It exploits the resources and land and especially people. Capitalism will take undo advantage of any person, place or thing. From Wall Street right down to the corner Quicky Mart. Capitalists are known for manipulating stocks, and currencies and commodities to take advantage of the situation. This is especially true of peoples emotional and mental state. This was proven evident with the market crash of 1929 which was at least in part do to manipulations of a certain group of investors who played upon those who would panic when a stock would go down, by the stock selling short.

But it does not end there. The whole point of the corner used car lot and the all night Quicky Mart is to take advantage of people who are wanting or even desperate for their products and services. Charging as much as they can get way with for them, often for products and services of questionable value and use.

Even the medical profession is known for this. Using scare tactics and people’s fear to manipulate them to have tests and procedures done, working in consort with the pharmaceutical industry to peddle their wares and the insurance industry who uses your fear of financial ruin. Threats and intimidation are honed in all of these.

What is euphemistically referred to a Pay Day Loans are really another way to exploit those on the edge via legalized loan sharking. The funeral industry makes nearly all it’s money from exploiting peoples emotional and mental states after a loved ones death, as does the legal profession.

There is in fact not a single situation or capitalist enterprise that does not exploit a person’s emotional or mental state. Madison Avenue has it down to a science. Colleges give degrees in this as well.

Capitalism Oppresses and Deceives

Capitalism  has always needed some group to oppress and subjugate. Politically and socially and economically. Natives and Blacks and Women and Italians and Irish have all been used in this manner. Using military and police forces to make sure they have little recourse. Stymieing their ability to have any voice or even any kind of a decent life. So to make it easier to exploit them  and their labor. Labeling them as inferior in some way or always suspect. Blacks are still the group of choice in this country for this but can be replace with another group if necessary. Using the so called justice system to incarcerate them so as to provide cheap or free labor for tasks that capitalist will not perform. Even helping to plunder other people. Nearly all of politics is geared toward this. It is also required that these groups be easily identifiable by their appearance as well as their behavior, so the can be more easily rounded up when necessary, or disposed of.

It also deceives and lies and misleads. So as to increasing the capitalists chances of exploitation and plundering.

I hope with this added insight into the workings of capitalism, the reader can become better able to avoid it’s many pitfalls and landmines.

The Industrial Revolution is Over

10:38 am in Uncategorized by cmaukonen

Industry Decay – flickr creative commons

Wikipedia defines the industrial revolution as such:

The Industrial Revolution was the transition to new manufacturing processes in the period from about 1760 to sometime between 1820 and 1840. This transition included going from hand production methods to machines, new chemical manufacturing and iron production processes, improved efficiency of water power, the increasing use of steam power and the development of machine tools. It also included the change from wood and other bio-fuels to coal. It began in Britain and within a few decades had spread to Western Europe and the United States.

I would say that the Industrial Revolution actually hit is peek around the 1960s when factories employed hundreds of thousands of workers to manufacture everything from air conditioners to watches. No matter what it was, people were required to put it together. This promotional video produced by RCA in 1959 shows what was involved in making color televisions during the 1950s in a New Jersey plant. All of this was done by hand. Computers were still big, slow and very, very expensive. In fact Motorola and Zenith both used point to point wiring even in their solid state color sets up through the mid 1970s.

Not just electronics but cars and furniture and clothes and toys. As the Japanese and automation and computer controlled manufacturing took over, these plants got shut down. People were needed less and less to build more and more complex things. CNC and computer aided design enabled engineers to design and build prototypes almost in a day. Printed circuit board designs shipped out to “board houses” and the boards shipped back. Pick and place machines instead of people assembled the boards, computers tested them and computer controlled machines installed the boards into plastic cases that were also manufactured by machines.

From the Hollerith cards used to run the mills of old to computer designed fabrics that can be what ever design or color you wanted. CNC run milling and routers for furniture. Laser cutting of fabrics and on an on. The workers involved need not be as highly trained, for their tasks no longer required it. Push button progress.

The big assembly lines of old gave way to packing centers. One of two people could turn out more products now than the plant managers in the RCA video could ever hope for in their day. And have the ability do to it even more reliably. In a way we have come full circle. Home 3D printers and CNC operated routers and mills are becoming more and more common place. The ability to design and build you own printed circuit boards has been around for nearly 40 years now and is even easier now than 10 years ago. You can design you own multi-sided circuit board, send the design off through the Internet to a board house where they will make the board for you and even put the parts on it, if you wish.

It was only natural that RCA and GE who were increasingly sending their products to Japan and Taiwan to be produced would wind up out of business as Taiwanese and Japanese companies produced items there to compete.

The need for big plants to manufacture everything has shrunk considerably and is shrinking still. The industrial revolution that made the desk top computer possible is coming to an end, as the PC is now making the manufacturing plant an anachronism.

We are in a way coming back to the world that was replaced in the late 18th century where now a few people can build what they need in their garage or small shop. Where big plants are only really needed for big articles like planes and trucks and cars and ships, for which there is not a big call for. Certainly not something one would buy at Target or Amazon.

The question now is, what do we do now?  What do we do with the Chester Rileys in a George Jetson world?

Obey! The documentary

9:53 am in Uncategorized by cmaukonen

NYC – Brooklyn – Williamsburg: OBEY

I am not going into this video’s style and production values. A number of people were put off by this. The music and visuals seemed a bit over the top to me. But it’s clearly aimed with these effects toward the younger generation who have an appreciation for the “hip-pop” nature of it. This I think is a valid move as they are the ones who will be more likely to institute change, not those of us from the older generations.

Obey – based on Chris Hedges “Death of the liberal class” — gives a very dystopian picture of the future and not a distant future, as we are seeing it unfold now with the continued rise of the corporate, fascist police state while continuously feeding the military apparatus.  With the breakdown of society on the lowest levels first, and progressing upwards with the elites islanding themselves off from the great unwashed.

It also points out how the bourgeoisie live in a fantasy land, even or especially those who consider themselves “liberal” or “progressive.” That even they may find themselves considered by the elites to be enemies of the state. And that this began with the first mass media propaganda for the wars.

The documentary predicts that as the society and economy collapses, communities will devolve into tribalistic structures with each tribe — race-based and economically-based — opposing the other and that that there will be a tendency toward more and more violent activity because of this. Though it does denigrate and decry this. It also decries revolution, for the same reasons that I also do, that they merely replace one set of demagogues and despots with another.  Though I cannot see how violence can be avoided. Obey also states that this violence will be predominately expressed by the right and extreme right culminating in a fascist police state.

Or that those who do not wish to be part will isolate themselves, or attempt to, in separate tribal communities.  All of which seems to me more or less valid predictions. Especially when you take into account the lack of trust that people now have for each other as witnessed by this poll.

The answer given in this video is to rebel and disobey and fight the system. However one can know that the system will respond violently to this. It gives a long list of actions like non-payment of taxes and liens and mortgages, etc. Even giving a push, as it were, to the collapsing structures whenever possible. Sabotaging them as it were.

However the video fails to address the the natural disasters and biological consequences of all this.  The CDC and WHO have come out and said that we have entered the age where antibiotics are becoming ineffective against bacteria. And then there are the various viruses such as the N1H1 bird flu or Coronaviruses and MERS. That we are only half a step away from a pandemic of some sort and getting closer as the health industry gets cut back and fewer people are opting to got into it. What happens when the health sector itself falls victim to any of these? There are no hospitals around that could cope with any sort of epidemic and biological agents know no economic bounds.  Humanity has been hit in the past and its numbers decreased substantially by epidemics. It can and most likely will happen again. Can even the elites escape this or radiation without having to live in less than opulent surroundings? I think not.

The consequences of today’s capitalism are, I think, even more widespread and deeper than even the extreme left supposes.  Darwin may be proven right once more.

The Self Fulfilling Prophecy of the Republican Party or Through the Door and Turn White

6:47 pm in Uncategorized by cmaukonen

People

There’s a lot the most people do not know about the history of this country. To really get a feel for it you need to throw that History Text in the dumper or burn it and read Howard Zinn. That the Irish that moved here — especially during the Great Irish Famine — were not wholly accepted and were quite often ridiculed and debased and even abused. Especially the Irish Catholics.

Or that the Chinese that were brought here to build the railroads, were no longer wanted after the they were no longer needed. Laws were made and passed that forbid any Chinese from even landing on American shores. That after the civil war many states had laws that forbid blacks and other minorities from even entering those states, until the Federal laws preempted them.

That even though Puerto Rico was an American colony, Puerto Ricans were expected to remain in Puerto Rico. As a matter of fact nearly all non-Anglo Saxons were met with suspicion and  sometimes contempt. White meant Anglo Saxon Protestant. So the dog whistle word meaning of “America is a Christian Nation” and “Real Americans” uttered so frequently by the republicans theses days refers to White Anglo Saxon Protestant — which at one time also referred to the Daughters of The American Revolution. AKA DAR.

Gary Younge in The Guardian this time put this most succinctly. Citing a study that was one by Stan Greenberg,

Those seeking to understand what drove the Republican party to shut down the government this month in a strategically disastrous move that laid bare its deep internal divisions – and ultimately led to humiliating defeat – could do worse than start here. The report reveals a sense of ideological, demographic and cultural siege, on the American right, from which there is no obvious escape. Unable to comprehend or process last year’s election defeat, they feel the nation has become unmoored from its founding principles and is on a full-scale, unrelenting descent into chaos. Obama has been victorious in implementing socialism and the party they identify with has proved incapable of halting the decline, leaving them alienated not only from the country at large but one another. If it appears as though they are howling at the moon, it’s because they feel all earthly options have been exhausted.

Describing Ireland’s economic and cultural transformation in his book The Deportees, Roddy Doyle wrote: ‘I went to bed in one country and woke up in a different one.’ Many Republicans have precisely the same feeling.

Central to this deep-seated sense of angst is race. In 2012, 92% of the Republican vote came from white people who, within 30 years, will no longer be in the majority. ‘They are acutely racially conscious,’ says Greenberg. ‘They are very aware that they are ”white” in a country that is becoming increasingly “minority.’ Growing increasingly dependent on an ever-shrinking base, they see their electoral fortunes waning but are resistant to adapting their message to broaden their appeal beyond their narrow racial confines. Race is less the explicit target of their anxiety (issues such as affirmative action and civil rights no longer dominate) than the primary (if not exclusive) prism through which their political consciousness is being filtered. ‘Race,’ writes Greenberg, ‘is central to their worldview.’

he goes on to point out that the gerrymandering has been done in recent decades has been to exclude minorities from voting districts.  Though he fails to note that this is also the reason for the restrictive voter ID laws as well. And that the rejection of the safety net is quote:

Read the rest of this entry →

Go Ahead you F**KERS —- JUMP !

5:18 pm in Uncategorized by cmaukonen

Jump – flickr

Ted Cruz who has become the darling of the Tea Party movement but who is nothing more than another spoiled brat rich kid, has become the darling of the tea party republicans. More spoiled brat rich kids. His grandstanding in the senate floor accomplishing nothing. Wanting to rid the country and themselves of the Affordable Care Act but mainly to rid themselves of Obama and anyone to the political left of Obama.

They hate poor people and hate anyone who is not white and especially anyone who is not white and poor and may get something from the government.

But now the house tea party brats want to to use this as a push to shut down the government. Now this has been done before with little consequence.    And over other piss ass disagreements. Even under Reagan and Bush I. In just three days we will supposedly be out of money…which we  already don’t have.

This time it’s a little different though.  What has been keeping the economy afloat here as well as else where is the Federal Reserve buying up government bonds and such. The so called QE (Quantitative Easing). Both over and under the table.

But we have seen that even a hint of changing this could have dire and immediate effects on the stock market, and there for the entire economy. And not just here.  We have had shutdowns before but not ones that indicated we might default on our debt.

Though the WH seems concerned and some of the more emotionally stable republicans are concerned, there is a contingent in this country that is not.

Who are fed up with the temper tantrums that have been emerging from Washington of late. A contingent who’s attitude is GO AHEAD….JUMP !

Which Side Are You On …

6:20 pm in Uncategorized by cmaukonen

Hunger March

From the 1900s until the early 1980s just about everything that was sold to you from automobiles to zithers was manufactured in some sort of factory somewhere, most of the time here in the good old U.S.A. With few exceptions if you worked in any of the larger cities the chances are you worked in one of the mills or factories.

Though the state university system got it’s start in the early 1800s, few people had gone to college by even the 1950s. By 1950 there were large areas where fewer than 1% of the population had  college degrees. But with the passage of the GI bill which had as part of the act the government paying for most — if not all — of the cost of a college education, this all changed as more and more veterans chose to obtain a college degree.

Well if that’s the case, how then were we able to come up with television, not to mention all technical advances of WWII? A large number of people were self taught and/or were trained on the job or apprenticed. As one fellow said who headed up a large electronics firm, “They had to learn this stuff like everyone else, by trial and error.”

As the veterans became more educated and their kids became more educated and the factory jobs declined due in part to automation and competition from foreign products — so to did the voting habits of the populace also change.

These so called baby boomers came from from homes that were relatively well off and where getting a college degree was expected. A college degree was the “key” to better income and a “bright” future it was said.

However these boomer ‘s kids began to see a less and less rosy future with fewer and fewer being able to get employment even with a college degree. By the 1990s we began to see more and more people with degrees only being to get service jobs like flipping burgers. And being saddled with a load of debt for their trouble.

And unlike those in technology of the past, these folks have the education but little — if any — experience in their field to go along with it. Business does not require it nearly as much. Just so long as one can be a positive to their bottom line.

Those fancy gated houses that many grew up in are becoming less and less attainable. So these same kids are choosing to reside once again with their parents. Which puts the parents at a disadvantage and of course changes their attitude as well. The rosy picture that was painted for the parents and their kids is no longer looking so rosy. Putting the parents and their grown up children one step away from the poor house in many cases and making retirement for even the most well-off a nebulous goal.

Should the economy take another downturn, these people could be the next victims. So the administration is doing it’s damnedest to keep that from happening by throwing more and more of those below to the wolves. I seriously doubt that the Obama administration will be successful in this though.

So as Obama his minions consider getting involved in more military adventures, they would do well to consider the impact this would have not just politically but economically as well. For if many of these families find themselves in an unavailing position economically, they could choose to side with those who have been there all along. Then the screw will turn and it won’t be pretty.

And as far as the families themselves, they would do well to look at who and what they currently owe allegiance too, as those further up the economic scale owe NONE to them. As they are too busy protecting their own sorry rear ends.

Why Aren’t Americans Fighting Back? Maintaining the Status Quo

5:44 pm in Uncategorized by cmaukonen

New social mass protest in Israel – Danielle / flickr creative commons

This has been the question that keeps popping up. Withe every relivation of wrong doing by the federal government, states, corporations and the financial sector – it appears as though the population just keeps taking it on the chin. Stiff upper lip and carry on.

Douglas Kihn on Truthout gives some reasons and I will add some of my own as well. First of all a truth – unless you actually own the company, you are working for it.

“If you know your enemies and know yourself, you will not be imperiled in a hundred battles . . . if you do not know your enemies nor yourself, you will be imperiled in every single battle.” These are the words of Sūn Zǐ, a 6th century BCE Chinese general, military strategist, and author of The Art of War, an immensely influential ancient Chinese book on military strategy.

All fighting is the same. Self-knowledge and knowledge of the enemy confer on the fighter the outlines of a winning strategy, based on the best utilization of available weapons of offense and defense.

The majority of Americans, unknowingly, are members of the working class, AKA the proletariat, and will be fighting for the kind of socialism in which sharing, cooperation, volunteerism, and wellness replace the drive for individual profits, competition, ego, and the desire for power over others. Most Americans would like to see an end to global poverty, war, and injustice, and one day, we shall discover that the means to this end involves the social ownership and democratic control of the world’s wealth. Only with this in place can the benefits of that wealth find their way back to the vast majority – the bottom two-thirds of the economic ladder.

This is one thing that escapes the American conscientiousness. Even if you are a well payed engineer or manager. Yet those in these types of positions do not see themselves this way. They see them selves as special and above those who are laborers and crafts people and what not.. That there have been historically those who have collectively with others fought back successfully.

In 509 BCE, the Roman people overthrew the last king and established a republic, which was composed of three socioeconomic classes: the patricians, landed aristocratic families who owned and controlled the wealth, did no physical labor, and made all of the decisions; slaves, who performed forced labor in the fields and the homes; and the plebeians, the Roman proletariat who served the Republic as soldiers, shopkeepers, crafts people, skilled and unskilled workers, and small farmers.

. . . . . .

A more recent example would be the phenomenon of Polish Solidarity, whose full name is “Independent Self-Governing Trade Union Solidarnosc.” At the time, Poland was a Stalinist workers’ state with one owning class – the working class – and a bureaucratic caste managing and usurping wealth and privileges, much as some corrupt union officials today are make decisions and live well while the silent rank and file struggles.

Solidarity emerged on 31 August 1980 at the Gdańsk Shipyard. It was the first non-governmental trade union in a Warsaw Pact country. This very large union reached 9.5 million members – 1/3 of the total working age population of Poland – before its September 1981 Congress.

Soooo…why have Americans been sitting back and just watching HBO ? Well here is the author’s list of reasons.

1. Lack of class consciousness. This is the single most important obstruction blocking the road to a successful fightback. The terms capitalist class and working class have been completely obliterated by the Orwellian Newspeak of American discourse. Americans are burdened with a peculiar and spurious definition of class. In the post-World War II textbooks and mass media, class has suddenly and curiously become synonymous with income level. When class is confused with income level, political self-identity becomes entirely connected to the selfish accumulation of personal wealth. This is the game played by the ruling rich. Workers cannot play that game and expect to create any kind of class solidarity. As in the case of the Roman plebs and Polish workers, class is what unites the toiling majority and solidarity is our most potent weapon.

This I think is the main point right here. Americans have been propagandized into believing that “Anyone can become a member of the ruing class if only they would work hard enough at it.”   Along with that is the old canard of “Those who are worse off, it’s their own damn fault.  What is interesting is that regardless of their economic status, they rarely see any financial problems they are having as their responsibility and almost never blame those in charge except the government. Not their bosses or employers or Wall Street. But they will oft time blame those underneath them economically for “stealing their hard earned money.”

2. The bad taste left in the collective mouth by the Stalinist experiment. When the Soviet Union finally collapsed of its own massive internal contradictions in 1989, capitalism had lost its best defensive weapon against socialist revolution. After all, nobody wants to live in a totalitarian police state. It has been a quarter-century since that momentous event and still working people are leery of the socialist goal, not yet realizing the difference between top-down socialism and bottom-up socialism. Totalitarianism has been relentlessly associated with all forms of socialism by the big business press and their educational system, while the democratic aspects of the Cuban revolution remain a big secret – like the elephant in the room that everyone tries to ignore.

Except that neither the Soviet Union or Cuba or China were communist. There has never been a communal nation state and these states were only barely socialist. Just ask anyone who actually lived there. They were/are state capitalist. Even Lenin  said that the Soviet Union would not be communist as he did not think it would work. But you would have a very hard time convincing people today that communist meme was a major load of crap.

Now in this part the author also has his doubts about cooperatively run businesses – at least on a large scale. Personally I am at a wait and see on this.

3. Fossilized, bureaucratic unions. American labor unions need to be thoroughly rebuilt from the bottom up. In periods of general retreat such as we find ourselves in today, the likelihood is greater that elected leaderships will put their own interests first, ahead of the interests of the shell-shocked membership. Their jobs depend on defending the existence of the unions while at the same time not confronting the dominance of the ruling class – not rocking the boat. This middle-man strategy leads to the ruthless extermination of genuine fightbacks and the inevitable steerage of working class aspirations into the harmless arena of electoral politics – and specifically the Democratic Party. All electoral efforts are aimed at reform – improving capitalism – and away from any real challenge to the bosses’ profits or their for-profit structure.

The truth is that union bosses to very well under capitalism and have no motivation what so ever to have it changed. Just read some history of the Teamsters.

4. Capitalist electoral politics. Voting is an important right that must be jealously defended. However, there are a hundred-and-one methods that the ruling class can and does employ to make certain that pro-capitalist candidates will always win their elections. These days, scores of Western-supported tyrannies around the world hold “elections” which they always win, such as the recently fallen Mubarak dictatorship in Egypt, to name just one notorious example.

Capitalism and politics have been in bed together in this country from the very beginning. Best government money can buy as they say. See George Carlin.

5. Arbitrary divisions of the proletariat. Nationalism, sexism, racism, and xenophobia serve the interests of the ruling class in a big way. These major divisions prevent the formation of solidarity, the most potent weapon in the working class arsenal. “Divide and conquer” has ever been the strategy of ruling minorities, because they know in the dark recesses of their hearts that sufficient numbers will defeat their lawyers, guns, and money.

  • The nation-state is purely an invention of 15/16th century capitalism, used by the investor class to protect their profit-making abilities. The tribes, city-states, and regional states that preceded the nation-state eventually gave way to the approximately 195 national governments that currently keep humanity divided against itself.

Working class politics begins with the world. The disasters we face today – poverty, war, climate change, disease, and the ever-present threat of nuclear holocaust – are planetary in scope and require global solutions and an “earthling consciousness.” This means that the concept of Amerika can no longer retain its religious hold on people’s loyalties, and that working people must stop taking responsibility for the concerns and crimes of the ruling rich. Working people will learn to avoid using the first-person plural pronouns of “we,” “us,” and “our” when referring to the capitalist government and military, (we invaded Iraq, we must fix our economy, they hate us for our freedoms, and other inanities), and instead use these pronouns when referring to our class and our human species.

This is also a biggy. Nationalism, sexism, racism, and xenophobia trumps class-ism with a large section of the population. At least the white section of the population.  The Trayvon Martin. case is a perfect example. And their are many, many more.  It is what it is.

6. The capitalist propaganda machine. The big-business media and educational system are organs of the capitalist order whose functions are to make a profit, while keeping the majority of us misinformed, confused, and distracted. Their message to us is loud and clear: We are “consumers” who should only be concerned with earning money, spending money, and avoiding politics.

The proletariat will need to cast a skeptical eye on this propaganda while developing its own informational and educational vehicles that will promote the interests of workers. Defending press freedoms and free speech and opposing censorship of all kinds will be crucial in this process.

And because it’s not declared as “state run” but “private”, people believe it’s on the level. Even though it media here has always parroted the government  and business line.   Any program that attacked the powers that be got a swift heave ho. See That Was The Week That Was and The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour.

7. The American security state. The ruling class as a whole would prefer to maintain their power and privileges here and abroad through non-violent means, using electoral politics and a steady stream of disinformation. It’s easier. But these are not easy times for them or us.

As the crisis of capitalism drags on, fightbacks will increase in quantity and quality. The oligarchy will be tempted to use every repressive weapon in its arsenal to instill terror and a sense of hopelessness and disorientation in its adversary, the international working class. These terror weapons include cop harassment and violence, repressive laws, frame-ups, prisons, kidnappings, the use of torture, assassinations, private goon squads, and military invasions and occupations. The tallest nail gets hammered down.

So as long as Americans can drive home in their Kias and watch Desperate Housewives on the flat screen TVs in the comfort of central A/C, there is little motivation to take action. However if the cable and power should fail for any length of time …..