By J. David Edelstein
September 13, 2000
For many decades the small size of revolutionary democratic socialist organizations throughout the world indicated that even people who consciously defined themselves as socialists tended to be drawn towards the poles of social democratic and…
In 2007 the richest 1% of the American population owned 34.6% of the country’s total wealth, and the next 19% owned 50.5%. Thus, the top 20% of Americans owned 85% of the country’s wealth and the bottom 80% of the population owned 15%.
Mind you that this is before the recession. Let’s take…
capitalism IS the crisis
Here are two things that are true about the economy today.
(1) The Dow Jones industrial average is poised to set a new record as corporate profits stretch to all-time highs.
(2) There are still fewer working Americans today than there were before the start of the Great Recession.
The fact that these two things can be true at the same time might outrage you. But it shouldn’t surprise you.
Read more. [Bottom Image: FRED]
If you’re a young North American who’s ever worked in the industrial sector, chances are you’ve been urged time and again to “stay in school”, because “you don’t want to be doing this the rest of your life”, which I think is symptomatic of two major problems.
The first is that, as these older workers realize, modern industrial labour is bad for you. The biggest buzzword in the workplace is “repetitive stress injury” (usually abbreviated to RSI), which is the euphemistic way of expressing the realization that eventually, inevitably, this kind of work will wear your body down. Performing the same exact motion hundreds of times a day, with little or no variation - although efficient in terms of value yielded per worker - is terrible for the human body. Workplaces are plastered with infographics detailing how to stand, how to sit, how to bend, how to lift, in order to reduce (not to remove, never to remove) the risk of RSIs. Although some (usually unionized) workplaces will institute minor structural adjustments to combat RSIs (like setting up a rotation system so no one does the same job for too long), by and large, the responsibility for these unavoidable long-term injuries is ultimately placed on, not the conditions that create them, but the workers who are forced to endure them. The implication is clear. When, in the twilight of your years of being a profitable cog in the capitalist machine, your back, your neck, your elbows, eventually do give out, it’s your own damn fault. You probably weren’t lifting from your knees.
The second problem demonstrated in the “you don’t want to be doing this for the rest of your life” exhortations expressed by older workers is one that’s equally demonstrated by the all-too-common “get a real job” or “learn a skill that’s actually valuable” invectives hurled by white-collar workers at anyone who isn’t one. Namely, the common sense notion that somehow, industrial workers who create the products that sustain our society are less valuable, less necessary, less respectable, than the entrepreneurs, the managers, the shareholders, the bankers, and the bureaucrats who extract the profits from this production. It’s the same contempt for the toiling classes that has sustained hierarchical societies far predating capitalism, and it’s a mindset that, thanks to the monopoly on communication traditionally held by the rulers and the owners, has taken root even in the classes that suffer from it most. It affects not just industrial workers, but all working people. It’s the source of epithets like “burger-flipper”; the reason that people can see justice in the fact that the service-industry workers who are structurally indispensible in our society are paid and treated like human garbage. It’s a symptom of the ideology that justifies the incredibly unjust situation in which we find ourselves.
I’ll surprise no one by saying that I believe these problems need to be solved via the abolition of the capitalist system; if you’re reading my blog, chances are you don’t need to be convinced of that. Spread socialist consciousness. Organize. Agitate. You know all this already. But I think that these two issues should serve as a reminder that there’s also an inner, emotional element to the class struggle. Socialist organization is hindered in the advanced capitalist countries by an almost universal and deeply-entrenched cultural contempt for workers of all kinds, and this is something that needs to be fought on a personal and a social level as well as an organizational one. What I mean is, for the workers to finally win power for ourselves, we need to not only be organized and politically educated, we also need to throw off the weight of all the cultural assumptions saying that those at the bottom of society deserve their station. We need to be free of the kind of self-loathing that chalks up our shitty pay and our RSIs to our own faults in picking the wrong educational path or not “networking” properly. We need to stop seeing the people who are getting rich off of us as anything other than the parasites that they are. We need to remind everyone else to do this too; to respect ourselves and our fellow workers of all kinds; to extend kindness, support, and solidarity to coworkers in our own workplaces, as well as to the cashiers, the waiters, the bartenders, the bus drivers, the janitors, and all the other members of the working class whose services we might make use of in our daily lives. Wherever you can, spread the understanding that not only are we valuable human beings, we are indispensible.
And if you’re ever going to tell someone to “get a real job”, tell it to a fucking capitalist.
Here are just a few of the largest budget cuts from the sequester that went into effect on March 1. $85 billion will be cut in 2013 with $1.2 trillion in deficit reduction over ten years.
- $20 million cut from the Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting Programs
- $10 million cut from the World Trade Center Health Program Fund
- $168 million cut from Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration
- $75 million cut from the Aging and Disability Services Programs
- $199 million cut from public housing
- $96 million cut from Homeless Assistance Grants
- $17 million cut from Housing Opportunities for Persons with AIDS
- $19 million cut from Housing for the Elderly
- $175 million cut from Low Income Home Energy Assistance
Disaster and Emergency
- $928 million cut from FEMA’s disaster relief money
- $6 million cut from Emergency Food and Shelter
- $70 million cut from the Agricultural Disaster Relief Fund at USDA
- $61 million cut from the Hazardous Substance Superfund at EPA
- $125 million cut from the Wildland Fire Management
- $53 million cut from Salaries and Expenses at the Food Safety and Inspection Service
- $13 million cut from the Consumer Operated and Oriented Plan Program (Co-ops)
- $57 million cut from the Health Care Fraud and Abuse Control
- $51 million cut from the Prevention and Public Health Fund
- $27 million cut from the State Grants and Demonstrations
- $44 million cut from the Affordable Insurance Exchange Grants program
- $633 million cut from the Department of Education’s Special Education programs
- $184 million cut from Rehabilitation Services and Disability Research
- $71 million cut from administration at the Office of Federal Student Aid
- $116 million cut from Higher Education
- $86 million cut from Student Financial Assistance
- $512 million cut from Customs and Border Protection
- $17 million cut from Automation Modernization, Customs and Border Protection
- $20 million cut from Border Security Fencing, Infrastructure, and Technology
- $79 million cut from Embassy Security, Construction, and Maintenance
- $604 million cut from National Nuclear Security Administration
- $232 million cut from the Federal Aviation Administration
- $394 million cut from Defense Environmental Cleanup
The Obama Administration recently underwent its first U.N. treaty body review, and the resulting concluding observations made public last week should be a cause for alarm.
The United States is violating the human rights of children in Afghanistan, according to the new report from the United Nations, which, according to the ACLU, “paint[s] a dark picture of the treatment of juveniles by the U.S. military in Afghanistan…”:
one where hundreds of children have been killed in attacks and air strikes by U.S. military forces, and those responsible for the killings have not been held to account even as the number of children killed doubled from 2010 to 2011; where children under 18 languish in detention facilities without access to legal or full humanitarian assistance, or adequate resources to aid in their recovery and reintegration as required under international law. Some children were abused in U.S. detention facilities, and others are faced with the prospect of torture and ill-treatment if they are transferred to Afghan custody.
US attacks and airstrikes have killed hundreds of children in recent years, according to the report, “due notably to reported lack of precautionary measures and indiscriminate use of force.”
Some US military officials are unhappy about the criticism they sometimes receive when Afghan children are killed or injured because of US operations, claiming that insurgents recruit children to plant bombs, so killing children is actually fair game. “It kind of opens our aperture,” said Army Lt. Col. Marion Carrington. “In addition to looking for military-age males, it’s looking for children with potential hostile intent.”
- Student-Loan Debt.
- Psychopathologizing and Medicating Noncompliance.
- Schools That Educate for Compliance and Not for Democracy.
- “No Child Left Behind” and “Race to the Top.”
- Shaming Young People Who Take Education—But Not Their Schooling—Seriously.
- The Normalization of Surveillance.
- Fundamentalist Religion and Fundamentalist Consumerism.
Capitalism IS the crisis