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The High-On-the-Hills versus the Down-in-the-Valleys

10:36 am in Uncategorized by welshTerrier2

From our humble dwellings, we can look up to see, perched high on the great hills above our town, the brilliant sunshine glistening off the great white castles of the High-On-the-Hills (Hohs).  Things have been getting tougher and tougher for us Down-in-the-Valleys (Divs).

We Divs are a diverse lot made up of all sorts of constituencies.  Most active among us are women who continue to fight for control over their own bodies and discrimination against them in the workplace.  We have a variety of racial and ethnic groups, for example Blacks and Latinos, who see the American promise of justice and equality as an empty promise.  We have young people who see their futures dimmed by an inadequate national commitment to public education… among other things.  We have workers who have suffered economically as their jobs are either exported or eliminated.  They watch, seemingly passive and powerless, as their employers squeeze the very life out of them in pursuit of more profits to reward the Hohs.

Very few of the Divs have noticed the creek has been rising… year after year after year… and that the entire valley is threatened.

This is the landscape on which the two main political parties plot their strategies.  The party of the Hohs, the Republicans, promotes hatred against those seeking a better life.  Women are “uppity”.  They put family ahead of work and thus deserve to earn less.  It’s just a handful of bitter women who do most of the squawking.  Blacks are lazy and just want government handouts.  Latinos are taking “our” jobs and are illegal.  Workers have priced themselves out of the market with their outrageous demands.  It’s all based on hatred.  It’s “anti” as opposed to “pro”.  It’s the politics of divide and conquer.

The Democrats are equally interesting.  The Democrats, at least in word if not deed, reach out to these “identity” groups.  They think of themselves as a party comprised of these constituencies.  Look no further than the recent election to see the overwhelming support they received from these groups.  They pat themselves on the back.  Look, we won women; we won Blacks; we won Latinos; we won young people; we won workers.  Better, they argue, these groups are a growing share of the electorate.  The future bodes well for us.

The creek continues to rise.

Most disturbing in this scenario is that the Divs have allowed themselves to be divided as each group aligns behind its own cause celebre.  The Divs are truly “divved.”  The implicit strategy is that each group must fight for its own equality and justice.  Each group must build its own energy, its own movement, its own spokespersons, and must petition the government for a redress of its grievances.  Instead of fighting for a common cause, the only “unity” is seen every four years (or sometimes every two years) at the ballot box as these divided groups join together to support candidates from one party or the other.  There is no “movement”.  There is no synergy.  There is no “we the people”.  There is only the periodic casting of a vote.  You can’t get there from here.  The Divs are shooting themselves in their own feet.

The creek continues to rise.

This is not to suggest that the issues of these constituencies should be dismissed.  The issues they raise are critically important.  They fail, however, to recognize that equality is not justice.  The Divs, as divided populations, have no power.  Until they form a true union, i.e. a true movement, to strip the Hohs of their stranglehold on government, they will make no real progress.  The rallying cry must go beyond the narrowness of liberating one group versus another.  It must look to the global issues.  Fighting on the identity battlefield, each group is left fighting to equalize the crumbs it receives while the Hohs walk away with the main course.  Making the crumbs equal does not make a society just.

The Divs share of national wealth has seen a rapid decline.  Their share, whether Democrats or Republicans were in control, has continued to decline.  As wealth concentrates, power concentrates.  The environment, on which all life depends, has continued to decline as well.  The Hohs view it as an “externality.”  We had better make it an “internality” very, very soon.

The creek continues to rise.

Third parties and others on the left have tried to get the Divs to focus on the global issues of wealth inequality, power inequality, and climate disruption.  Politically, this has been a disaster.  The Divs are firmly entrenched in their identity groups and, while they might or might not agree with the so-called global issues, they are driven more by what they see as closer to home.   And so, we are where we are.  The left can gain no purchase and the Divs can gain no ground.

And the creek continues to rise.

Socialism… looking beyond the “welfare state”

4:26 am in Uncategorized by welshTerrier2

Socialism: of the people, by the people, for the people.
Capitalism: of the capital, by the capital, for the capital.

Socialism too often is seen only as an economic system. It is, more critically, a political system that, to quote the cliche, puts people before profits. It’s really just that simple.

Implicit in any understanding of socialism is the notion that great disparities between the economic classes, by definition, pervert political equality. Democracy, or any semblance thereof, cannot co-exist with capitalism because the great disparities of wealth that capitalism always produces make the ideal of equally-shared power impossible.

Socialism seeks equally-shared power both in government and in the workplace. When “money talks” in the halls of the people’s government, government is corrupted because “equal representation” is not possible in a system that allows representation to be purchased only by those who can afford the fee. When workers are expected to subjugate themselves and sacrifice their liberties or risk losing their paychecks and their livelihood, our system of employment fails to reflect our values and our pursuit of democracy. Fundamental civil liberties and human dignity should never be the bargain for a paycheck.

We have failed to implement broad socialist themes in the US because we have allowed the capital elite to define socialism only as public welfare. We have allowed liberals to blindly define their agenda as the social safety net without recognizing that safety cannot exist without commensurate political equality. When the debate becomes, as it has, over what degree of subsidy to provide to the poor and the middle class (Medicare/Medicaid, Social Security, Unemployment Compensation) and over funding for public “goods” (public schools, public parks, libraries, the arts and… Big Bird), socialism dies. The question ultimately becomes “how much must we cut?” This debate focus fights the great battle in our neighborhoods with dire consequences.

The right question is, rather, “how much must be taken from the wealthy elite to neutralize their excess political power?”. To speak of increased taxes on income without speaking of the more critical confiscation of existing wealth fails to address what needs to be done. Liberals refuse to address this issue. A debate that focuses on the abusive, un-democratic concentration of wealth moves the battle to where it rightfully belongs.

There are many means and methods by which socialism can be implemented. We must not allow these details, however, to distract us from the most basic objective of socialism. Without equally-shared power, i.e. socialism, government will serve only those with substantial capital and the dream of “of the people, by the people and for the people” will never be realized.