Tag Archive: Socialism

Mar 02 2014

Anti-Capitalist Meetup: Post Occupy Analysis by Diane Gee

AUTHOR’S NOTE: This essay is in part a reply to AoT’s “No, you don’t want another OWS”– I agree we don’t need another, but not entirely with the author’s reasoning why…)

People who were involved with Occupy Wall Street have an understandable emotional attachment to what they experienced within the movement.  In fact, for many in this age of electronica and isolation, it was their first experience in ground level activism and social work.  People cooperated, they exchanged food, medical services and felt unity. By sheer numbers, they managed to enter the concept of the one percent versus the rest of us into the National dialogue. That cannot be underrated.  

In any discussion of what is next, we have to look with an unemotional, analytical eye at whether or not Occupy was or was not a success.

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Feb 16 2014

Anti-Capitalist Meetup: What in Tarnation is “Prout” and Why Should We Care? by Galtisalie

Introductory Note: As background for this diary, it might be helpful to read Geminijen’s excellent and balanced diary from a few weeks ago, Anti-Capitalist Meetup: Fagor Goes Bankrupt – Trouble in Camelot, which discusses one of the world’s most important cooperative movements, founded by a do-gooder Catholic priest. The subject of the instant diary also involves cooperatives, but as will be apparent, much more.

I am biased but to me, “Prout,” which stands for “Progressive Utilization Theory,” is a lovely theory of progressive socialism we all should study, learn from, and consider adopting as part of our praxis and our goals for humanity. Unfortunately, as a new student of Prout, I cannot nearly do it justice in this diary or anywhere else at this time. In addition, I am not in a position to report on the practical experiences of putting Prout into practice. As someone who grew up in irrational Christian fundamentalism (and still lives in the repressive Deep South, where I can see such “faith” put into practice on a daily basis in anti-“other” bigotry and legislation), I no longer like to make my decisions based on “enthusiasm” for what people, spiritual or otherwise, say as opposed to what they do. And I am HIGHLY skeptical about any religion’s ability to confront the harsh world of capitalism in an effective and objective manner (although, from what I understand, Prout’s associated spiritual movement claims not to be a religion).

But I do not want to let my skepticism itself turn into blinders or cynicism for what may have value in the critical work for justice down here on terra firma. All human endeavors are to some degree a mixed bag. I am, after all, a socialist, after a century of ultimate public humiliation of the cause I still dare to hold dear. Course correction is nothing to be embarrassed about but rather something to be celebrated. The work to save humanity is entitled to a mulligan every single day until we get it right.

The first part of my personal credo is to “accept[] life’s complexity.” To me that includes the challenge to evaluate honestly both the positives and the negatives of all things relating to “spirituality.” Prout is not only a system with many complex moving parts but also a holistic system whose whole is intended to vastly exceed the sum of its parts. I can only give my gut impressions of whether it could even theoretically help to accomplish the enormous task of like “saving the world” or something else “major” for humanity, but I am not qualified to explain much less critique all of its parts.  

Fortunately, I have a lovely book to help me explain its details, Dada Maheshvarananda’s 2012 updated version of a book first published in 2003, and currently titled After Capitalism: Economic Democracy in Action (Innerworld Publications).

And, I have you, my comrades, to help me critique the parts and the whole within the context of various movements and sub-movements on the left, both historical and potential.

Dr. Marcos Arruda says of the book in the Foreword, “The nine years that have passed since Dada Maheshvarananda first published this precious book have proven its validity and relevance.” I could not agree more. One of the things I have greatly benefited from in the last couple of years are book recommendations from kindred spirits on the left with whom I have gratefully come into contact via the information superhighways and byways. I am still no socialist scholar (and do not make it a priority to become one), and often the people giving me book suggestions are, but if I had to make one book recommendation at this point in my fledgling socialization process, this would be it. Not because the book is perfect or because I agree with everything in it or in Prout more generally, but because Prout as explained in this book comes closest to announcing to the world the direction I think we should be heading than anything else I have yet read.

Plenty of us realize capitalism is a disaster. Marx got that quite right, and Prout, whose founder actually was a big fan of Marx, seconds the notion. Prout also does a really good job of telling us where we should be going to fix things. And this book is a compelling, reasonably detailed, and accessible explanation of Prout.

I only learned about Prout when I read Hans Despain’s helpful article It’s the System Stupid: Structural Crises and the Need for Alternatives to Capitalism in the November 2013 Monthly Review. Here Despain first succinctly surveys the playing field:

The conventional wisdom is “There Is No Alternative,” or TINA. For this reason most Americans simply acquiesce to capitalistic social relations and, like Sisyphus, are resigned to performing eternal tasks while enduring the “endless” quadruple crises generated by a pathological system.

The most extraordinary aspect concerning the absence of an alternative is that it is fallacious. The capitalistic system itself must be transformed. To put it into a slogan: Capitalism Is No Alternative, or CINA.

Despain describes Maheshvarananda’s book as outlining “the failures and pathologies of ‘multinational corporate’ capitalism. He argues that Prabhat Ranjan Sarkar’s PROgressive Utilization Theory, or PROUT economics, already exists as a well-developed alternative to both capitalism and state socialism. PROUT has important similarities with both Marxism and Participatory Economics, but its real philosophical basis is in Tantra Yoga, with influences from Hinduism, Taoism, and Buddhism (especially Zen). …”

Then Despain contrasts it to three other recent books outlining somewhat comparable approaches on the left:

Maheshvarananda, much like Wolff, Schweickart, and Alperovitz, believes that the activity needed for the democratization of the workplace and economy is already underway. Maheshvarananda offers many existing examples of Proutian enterprises. Most of these are the same discussed by Schweickart and Alperovitz, including the Mondragon cooperative in Spain and Evergreen in Cleveland. However, Maheshvarananda also offers extensive details of cooperatives in Venezuela, where he has founded a PROUT research institute.

In addition to mending the social pathologies of capitalism, he explains how Proutianism promotes leisure, spirituality, and a new humanistic ethic. He also insists that a transformation away from capitalism is urgently needed for environmental production and a new Agrarian Revolution to save the planet and human life. In this sense, Maheshvarananda is far more ambitious than Wolff, Schweickart, and Alperovitz, and is sure to be far more controversial for left-wing theorists and activists. …

Wolff, Schweickart, and Alperovitz … have given less thought toward the longer term goals. Maheshvarananda has in mind a very long-term alternative to capitalism. It requires not only transformation in the workplace, but transformations in the political dimension. On the one hand, it could be argued his vision is far more remote, while on the other hand, once the transformation within the workplace begins, the ripple effect could be massive and sudden. For this reason Maheshvarananda’s perspective can be understood in highly practical terms and can be seen as complementary to the works of the other three. …

From whence cometh Prout? A brilliant loving species-being who seemed particularly determined, while walking a blissful personal path, to eschew any selfish material benefits for himself from his insights, and whose most determined followers are described as monks and nuns, but seem remarkably well-connected to a place I and all on the left take quite seriously, namely the suffering-filled, harsh, and chaotic reality where the billions of marginalized poor and desperate live around our class-embattled world:

Prabhat Ranjan Sarkar was born in 1922[ 6] in Jamalpur, Bihar, India into a respected family that had its roots in regional leadership and ancient spiritual traditions. To support the family after his father’s death, Sarkar chose to discontinue his higher education in Calcutta, and in 1941 returned to Jamalpur to work as an accountant in the railways. About that time he began to teach the ancient science of Tantra meditation, insisting that every practitioner follow a strict code of moral conduct. In 1955, at the request of his followers, he founded the socio-spiritual organization Ananda Marga (” The Path of Bliss”). In 1959 he introduced the Progressive Utilization Theory (Prout), a blueprint for how to reorganize society and the economy for the welfare of everyone.

The Ananda Marga and Prout movements spread quickly in India during the 1960s. Many of Sarkar’s followers – who held key positions in the Indian civil service – actively challenged the systemic corruption of the government as well as the Hindu caste system. Opposition therefore arose from nationalistic Hindu groups, eventually leading the government to declare Ananda Marga to be a politically subversive revolutionary organization, banning any civil servant from being a member. Perhaps surprisingly, the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) – which for decades controlled the state government of West Bengal – also opposed Ananda Marga and Prout because Sarkar’s unique blend of spiritual and social ideals was attracting members away from the Party.

Maheshvarananda, Introduction.

Many, to my current view highly unfair, attacks on the group both in India and worldwide have been documented, which I will not go into here in any detail, including the framing for a 1978 bombing of a Hilton in Sydney, Australia that actually seems to have been the murderous plot of the self-justifying state security apparatus. The recent decades have been gradually more serene for the serene folk who make up the movement, but not because they avoid desperate situations. Rather, in a way that seems highly compatible with Pope Francis’s Evangelii Gaudium (which I discussed in detail here from a combined socialized praxis and Jesuit history and scholarship perspective) the movement seems to want to make both tangible and intangible headway in, and to replace as soon as possible, a sick capitalist world. The emphasis of Prout on cooperatives is shared with the Catholic Church, on paper at least, going back to the late 19th century. But, unlike the Church at most times, Prout seems to be fixated on making cooperatives a “reality” on the nasty ground around the world rather than a pious talking point for criticizing those nasty commies without actually proposing and fighting for a suitable alternative. Further, Prout has an openness to spirituality that many Liberation Theology and leftist Dorothy Day-style Catholics have found to be perfectly compatible with their faith in action. Given that I am a leftist pro-choice “Anglo-Catholic,” I just want all us supposedly “spiritual” folk, what with the whole idea of communion and such, to get along while waging a kind but effective revolution, which means to keep our eye on the prize of rejecting capitalism and putting in a system that meets shared “Proutist” goals.

Please go below the fold for my generally favorable summary of the good monk’s omnibus Prout in a nutshell, as well as a few concerns that I have about Prout. Or, if you have no interest in spirituality and other “soft” topics which much of the world may now or in the future appreciate as complementary to economic justice, here’s Despain’s nice but barebones “materialist” list:

PROUT’s economic principles are that: (1) all citizens deserve the minimum requirements of life of food, shelter, clothing, medical care, and education; (2) employment is guaranteed; (3) the progressive use of science and technology and a federal institution geared toward research and development should be promoted; (4) the federal political system must include decentralized planning at the level of the local economy, with balanced development of what is needed by local citizens; (5) a three-tier economic system that supports privately owned small businesses, cooperatively owned medium and large businesses, and government-run large industries must be created; (6) “decentralized self-sufficient” local economies should be maximized; and, (7) crucial to PROUT, are the cooperatively owned businesses.

I like this list, as it initially sparked my interest in Prout. However, for brevity’s sake he also necessarily left off many materialist Proutist notions, including that little subject of “world government,” (a critical aspect of Prout’s long-range ideas for governance, Ch. 11) a dream many of us, Proutists or not, hold dear.

Bolivar quote at U.N. Headquarters

In the march of the centuries, perhaps there will be one single nation covering the universe: the federal nation

Simón Bolívar

(For more amateur photography by yours truly from a recent field trip to the U.N. Headquarters in New York City, and heartfelt support for one single nation covering the universe without squandering centuries we do not have and billions more lives on capitalist despair, please see this tongue-twisting hopeful post, Niebuhrian Coercion and a Non-Utopian Version of a Vision That Hopefully Will Never Die: Bolivarian-Burnsian International Justice and Solidarity.)

Dec 08 2013

Anti-Capitalist Meetup: Left Unity – The New Party that Could by NY Brit Expat

LEFT UNITY HAS BEEN CREATED! Yes, this is the new political party, not necessarily the reality of “Left Unity” itself. Like all births, it is never easy. But it has the possibility of actually changing electoral politics in Britain. And like all births, it should be recorded.

Tonight’s piece covers a piece of news, some coverage of the student occupations in Britain including two petitions in response to the actions of the universities to these occupations, and a short homage to Nelson Mandela and the endless hypocrisy of our mainstream politicians.

While, of course, the justifications for permanent austerity under the Tories and the pensionable age being shifted to 70 and tax breaks for married people whose earnings were over a certain level, while somehow continuing impoverishment of the majority were sort of glossed over (really if impoverishment of the majority is required for your system, wouldn’t you start to raise the obvious point that the system is NOT worth it?) were found all over the BBC following the Autumn Statement of Minister of the Exchequer, George Osborne, many things that should have been said never quite made it to the news of the BBC. Given that they have a 24-7 news channel; surely a few moments could have been spared from their extensive scheduling.

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Jul 26 2013

Chris Hedges: Moving Forward

In Part 6 of a series of interviews by Paul Jay of Real News Network, journalist and author, Chris Hedges discusses issues of corporate control, and “the grim realities” facing the economy and environment:

The more we create self-sustainable systems that are local, the more we sever ourselves from these corporate forces, the less we need them. And the less we need them-I mean, let’s remember that 70 percent of the U.S. economy is driven through consumption-the less we need them, the more we impoverish them. I mean, the goal has to be to break these corporate power, this entity that has seized control of our government, our systems of communication, our judiciary.

I mean, now we’re watching them eviscerate our systems of education. Anytime hedge fund managers walk into a city like Baltimore and propose charter schools, it’s not because they want to teach people to read and write. It’s because they know the federal government spends about $600 billion a year on education, and they want it, and they’re getting it.

So I think that building local centers that are self-sustaining and that can create forms of community that are not dependent on these corporate forces is a political act, because these corporate forces need us to continue to consume their products and rely on their services. And the less we consume and the less we are hostage, the less we need these forces, the more independent we become.

Now, that has to come with a kind of political consciousness, but I think they come hand-in-hand, that both things-I think that as people take control, once again, of their own lives, that will bring a kind of consciousness, because these corporate forces, especially if they begin to feel threatened, are going to see these acts as political acts and are going to move-as we have seen corporate farming move against organic farming, they are going to move to try and destroy these forces.



Transcript can be read here

Jul 23 2013

Chris Hedges: Questioning Everything

In the first of a seven part series, author and journalist, Chris Hedges sits down with Real News Network’s Paul Jay discussing how urban poverty led him to question everything and his commitment to the social movement:

I wanted to be an inner-city minister. You know, I was at the time. I was planning on being ordained. I was planning on spending my life in the inner-city.

And I had a kind of clash (and I write about it in the first chapter of my book Losing Moses on the Freeway: The 10 Commandments in America) with the institutional church and liberal institutions like Harvard Divinity School that like the poor but didn’t like the smell of the poor. They spent a lot of time talking about empowering people they never met. And that hypocrisy was something that I had great difficulty with. [..]

And I’ve always placed myself in or amongst the oppressed. Whether that was in Gaza, whether that was in El Salvador, whether that was in Sarajevo, I’ve always positioned myself as a reporter in a place where I was amplifying or giving voice to those who were being brutally oppressed. [..]

I would say actually the really seminal moment was moving into the inner city and watching what we do to our poor, the warehousing of our poor, the shattering of lives, especially the lives of children, of poor children. That maybe rattled me more than almost anything I saw. And I’ve seen horrific things. I remember going back to the chaplain at Colgate after a few months of living in the projects and just walking into his office and sitting down and saying, are we created to suffer? And his answer was: is there any love that isn’t?

And I think for a white person of relative privilege to confront the cruelty of what we do to poor people of color in this country and to begin to understand institutional forms of racism, all the mechanisms by which we ensure that the poor remain poor in, you know, what Malcolm X and Martin Luther King correctly called these internal colonies really rattled me, really shook me. It made me question all sorts of things–the myth we tell ourselves about ourselves, the nature of capitalism, the nature of racism, exploitation.

So those two and a half years I spent in Roxbury were quite profound–not that, of course, I wasn’t stunned at the evils of empire in places like El Salvador or Gaza or anywhere else. But Roxbury was quite a shock for me.



Full transcript can be read here

Jun 16 2013

A-C Meetup: From Detroit to Honduras and Back: Capitalists Immigrate To Usurp Rights by Justina

From This in Michigan…

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To This in Honduras….

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In Michigan, Republican Governor Rick Snyder has appointed an “emergency manager” to  take over the city of Detroit,  with the powers to over-ride the votes of local citizens and the decisions and contracts made by their locally elected mayor and city council. The manager has the power to abrogate previously signed union contracts with city workers and sell city assets to pay off the city’s creditors.  The new emergency manager has ordered the appraisal of the Detroit Art Institute’s world class art collection with a view to its sale.  

In Honduras, its post-coup president and legislature has signed a law allowing the government to sell or lease vast tracks of lands in habited by Honduran’s indigenous tribes, to private owners to establish “charter cities”, feudal-like city states which are to establish their own laws and form of government, free of pre-existing state laws and regulations.  

As a part of Honduras’s “public-private partnership”, law, capitalist business have been invited to create new business cities in the wilderness, profit paradises to be totally controlled by the businesses which own them. Thus the ese corporate vandals are pillaging the world, its land, art and culture by liquidating previously sovereign states in their favor.

Honduras will now allow consortia of private corporations to set up their own city-states, free of virtually all pre-existing law and regulation by the country’s government.  The “public”  component of this “public-private partnership”, the putatively democratically elected Honduran government (post the 2009 Zelaya-coup) have voted to sell (or long term lease) large tracks of their country to private corporations and their agents.  Hondurans living in these feudal city-states will have no democratic control of their environment.  

The rules will be set by private charters, written by the corporate agents who shall decide who shall live in their states and who shall be excluded and where they  will live and work if they allowed in.  (Never mind that the likely territories involved long have belonged to indigenous tribes, who have not been consulted in this massive give-away of their land, but actively oppose it.)

It’s really not much different in Michigan.  

May 27 2013

Anti-Capitalist Meetup: Liberalism is Dead, Now What?: Two Cheers for Bhaskar Sunkara by LeGauchist

Bhaskar Sunkara’s recent essay in The Nation, Letter to ‘The Nation’ From a Young Radical, argues persuasively that American liberalism is “practically ineffective and analytically inadequate” to the twin political tasks of mobilizing supporters and generating policy.  Sunkara blames the crisis of liberalism on the fact that, “Liberalism’s original sin lies in its lack of a dynamic theory of power,” which leads liberals–Sunkara specifically cites Obama–to treat

politics as a salon discussion between polite people with competing ideas. . . [in which] the best program … is assumed to prevail in the end…[and] political action is disconnected … from the bloody entanglement of interests and passions that mark our lived existence.

Admitting that liberalism is “a slippery term” Sunkara defines it in terms of the two dominant species of Washington Democratic insiders, which he defines as follows:

to the extent that we can assign coherence to the ideology, two main camps of modern American liberalism are identifiable: welfare liberals and technocratic liberals. The former, without the radicals they so often attacked marching at their left, have not adequately moored their efforts to the working class, while the latter naïvely disconnect policy from politics, often with frightening results.

Both sorts of liberalism, Sunkara argues, have failed analytically and politically, though in different ways and for different reasons. Nevertheless, Sankara has the same prescription: “the solution to liberalism’s impasse lies in the re-emergence of American radicalism.”  

What would that look like? The first task is that

Socialists must urgently show progressives how alien the technocratic liberal worldview is to the goals of welfare-state liberalism-goals held by the rank and file of the liberal movement. … Broad anti-austerity coalitions, particularly those centered at the state and municipal levels like last year’s Chicago Teachers Union strike, point the way toward new coalitions between leftists and liberals committed to defending social goods.

But anti-austerity is not, of course, the full program, but

just one example of the kind of class politics that has to be reconstituted in America today; surely there are many others. The Next Left’s anti-austerity struggles must be connected to the environmental movement, to the struggle of immigrants for labor and citizenship rights, and even, as unromantic as it sounds, to the needs of middle-class service recipients.

Although Sunkara’s essay, like his groundbreaking publication Jacobin Magazine, is an important attempt at creating bridges between liberals and radicals during a time of onslaught by the corporate Right, even as it demonstrates the analytical weakness of liberalism, it suffers from some of the very same analytical inadequacies of liberalism itself, especially its lack of a dynamic theory of power.

Specifically, Sunkara’s categories of analysis are rooted in politics and ideology, with no moorings in the social formation beyond a few statements about working class support for social welfare liberalism–statements which fail to recognize the accomplishments wrought via American working class and subaltern self-activity. In light of this, it is perhaps not surprising–though it ought to be–that a self-described “young radical” had no place in his analysis for a discussion of capitalism as an exploitative economic system whose nature is at the root of or contributes greatly to every one of the social problems liberals profess to care about.  

May 12 2013

Anti-Capitalist Meetup: Are CIA Mockingbirds Still Nesting in Nicaragua? by Justina

Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega celebrating Sandinista election victory in 2006 in the Revolutionary Plaza, Managua.

“You could get a journalist cheaper than a good call girl, for a couple hundred dollars a month.” – CIA operative discussing with Philip Graham, editor Washington Post, on the availability and prices of journalists willing to peddle CIA propaganda and cover stories. (from “Katherine The Great,” by Deborah Davis (New York: Sheridan Square Press, 1991)

Thus Davis chronicles the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency’s (CIA) official campaign to turn American newspapers, into conduits for its anti-communist ideology which began after World War II.  It was called “Operation Mockingbird”.   Perhaps the operation would have been more accurately named “Operation Cuckoo” as the cuckoo will lay its egg in another bird’s nest and steal the original. With this propaganda operation and spying operation, the CIA effectively threw objectivity out of the nest of American journalism and put CIA denominated news in its place.  

The CIA was successful in capturing the nests of the biggest newspapers in the U.S., including the the “Washington Post”, the “N.Y. Times” , and the “Los Angeles Times”, among many others.  They all still seem to be on team.  During the years of the Contra war against the lawful Sandinista government in the 1980’s, the CIA employed similar methods here in Nicaragua.  Is it still going on here?

Apr 28 2013

Anti-Capitalist Meetup: We Aren’t Crazy. Capitalism Is. by Diane Gee

Simple Reasons Capitalism Isn’t Your Friend

I realize our group here in the halls of orange-land are small. I think most dKos readers are truly interested in the general betterment of humankind. Most of the problem is that Capitalism has always sold itself as a merit system.  Its really not.  I am going to try and show you why.

First and foremost, the most basic thing Capitalism is, is an EXTRACTION SYSTEM.  Buy low, sell high.  Make cheap, price at the highest the “market” will bear.  These are the common sense adages we have been taught since birth.  How else can you make a dollar, right?  Without money, how in the world would anything work; buying a place to live, food, clothing, and any amenities we enjoy for leisure time.

Yet, if you think about it – the collapse of the market, and the austerity being imposed on the people while the rich make record profits is no aberration. Its the system doing exactly what it is supposed to do.  What it always does. It extracts from the bottom to fill the top.  What they told you is a lie to make you work against your own interests.

John Kozy © 2010:

The Western commercial system is extractive. It exists to extract more from consumers than it supplies in products and services. Its goal is profit, and profit literally means to make more (pro-ficere). Its goal has never been to improve the human condition but to exploit it. It works like this:

Consider two water tanks, initially each partially full, one above the other. One gallon of water is dumped from the upper tank into the lower one for each two gallons extracted from the lower tank and pumped into the upper tank. Over time, the lower tank ends up empty and the upper tank ends up full. The circulation of water between the tanks ends.

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Extraction Capitalism is real, and it is you they are extracting from.

The Business Insider just reported “Profits Just Hit Another All-Time High, Wages Just Hit Another All-Time Low.

You may, or may not have seen the viral video about income inequality. People generally think they would like to make more.  But somehow they have convinced us the system is fair. Worse?  They have kept it where few of us have any idea what is really going on.

Think too, about this little factoid while you view the below.  Koch Brothers’ Wealth Grew By $33 Billion in 3 Years As America’s Schools Report 1 Million Homeless Kids.

“In one of the worst economic downturns since the Great Depression, the billionaire Koch brothers who habitually rail against government’s unfair burden on the wealthy, have almost doubled their net worth to a combined $64 billion.”

How much do they really need?  They could give every kid a cool Mill, and still be the fattest cats on the block.  But they won’t.  They are Capitalists.

Its not just “broken at the moment.”  It always has been.

Some of you may remember the kinder, gentler Capitalism that Workers demanded after the 1st Depression. But it is also plain to see the cycle began anew.  In history, Empires always fall because people get tired of serving Elites. And every gain made by workers has been violently opposed by the PTB – and won with the blood of the workers.  

Remember too, that while “regulation” may have been highest in the 1970’s and wages the most fair, there was still a broad segment of our society that has always endured poverty.  Urban blacks, Appalachian whites, recent immigrants all have had to live on the most meager of wages because in order for profits to work, somebody has to make next to nothing.  Miners.  Railroad builders.  The people in the fields that pick your food for you. Textile workers.  Sweat shops.

There has never been a time there were not slums in this country.  It is NOT because some people “don’t work hard enough.”  It is not because “some people are inherently less suited to succeed.”

It really is obvious that wealth begets wealth, and poverty begets poverty. The American Dream they sold you is largely myth. It is not only the lower education system being “locally tax based” thus inherently inferior in low income neighborhoods; but higher education is economically slated to be accessible only to those with high incomes, or those who borrow from those with high incomes (bankers) and are willing to enrich them even more in both interest rates paying off that loan, and as lower level lackeys working for them to pay it off.   Its more.  There is a class cronyism involved.  

If perhaps you have ever been, or been privy to the Upper Middle Class’s affairs:  Country Club meetings, high end Golf Outings, perhaps a Gallery Opening… you understand it is who you know more than what you know.  Consider that there is an almost exponentially tighter cronyism in the Millionare’s club, and the Billioniare’s?  You can’t get within a “billion” miles of it.  

They share opportunities among themselves, like builders in the UMC share contracts among themselves.  No matter how good a architect or builder your low income cousin is?  He will never get the city contract to create the new stadium unless he knows someone. Classes really help keep the next layer down, which serves the top just dandy.

This brings up a sub-point to this section. In the US the white middle to lower middle class uses the same cronyism to exclude people of color, except hiring them for the very lowest wage jobs.  For extraction capitalism to work?  Racism (and sexism) is part and parcel of the mechanics of it.  

We have always had a caste system here, the dots are as just as indelible, but painted with the supposedly invisible ink of racism and classism.  The land of opportunity keeps opportunities rare for the poor.

 

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The Myth of Repression.

The myth says we have the “greatest system on Earth” and “no other system can work!”  We hear it all the time:  Look at how repressive Russia was, how evil China is, how it brings dictators and loss of personal freedom.  Those were never truly non-capitalist states, they just became state capitalists with different elites.  I’ll let the scholars argue that one.  This is just you and I here, regular people, considering the sanity of thinking Capitalism sucks.

I’m not going to bore you with why I think they failed. I’ll just plant one idea.  If I started a company in Michigan to give away free electricity, how long do you think I would last before somehow my company imploded by outright sabotage, bad press, failed inspections via payola, if not assassination attempts on me? Nothing happens in a vacuum – and to a whole world of Elites living large?  There was nothing more dangerous than the idea of sharing the wealth. They were up against that.

Now, instead?  Think of the worst human rights violators in recent history.  For me, Saudis come to mind.  Women are stoned for being raped.  The poor have their hands cut off for stealing a loaf of bread.  That place is as Capitalist as they come.  The rich sell the oil and live in Palaces, the poor starve.

Pinochet who killed and tortured bazillions of his own? Not only a Capitalist, but OUR Capitalist!

I’m sure if you think about it – you can think of many more.

You really cannot have a Dictator without Capitalism – because it needs an untouchable Elite with the military might to keep people from rising against it. If people are free enough to control their own destinies, they would never vote for their own oppression.

(until here and now….)

Nothing Else Can WORK!

I know, for most of you, hearing the wisdom of dead guys from a time that is nothing like what we live in now makes your eyes roll back in your head.  I get it.  I’ve been reading some Marx, and if nothing else he was a dry and pedantic fucker who always took a thousand words to say what could be said in few.  Yet, for his time, he was brilliant and comprehensive.

Without getting all economic professor and mathy? Its pretty simple. I figure we ourselves not only create ALL wealth, we ARE wealth. Or value, or both. You get what I mean, even as an average Joe. They haven’t got shit without us.

If you light your grill with a matchstick?  Hours of work went into making it, and chances are only a couple people are getting rich off of it.  But matchsticks don’t grow on trees, they are made from them.  Someone cut the wood, someone else milled it down, someone trucked the raw materials, someone ground the toxic chemicals for the burn tip, someone ran the machine to dip them in, someone boxed it and someone shipped them out.

A lot of hours in that puppy, which lasts only seconds.  POOF! Matches are cheap, but trust me, even with mechanization, all kind of hands are on that match before you touch it. And the companies that make them make a good profit, or they no longer would.

Now the CEO of that company probably takes in 500k a year.  He didn’t invent it.  He didn’t design the machines.  He doesn’t run the machines. He never even touches them. All he does is find ways to pay less to make the matches, and make more off of selling them.  He is rewarded solely for screwing the people who make them, and the consumers into paying more than they are worth.  He doesn’t “work.”  He is paid for being a predator. You see, there are only 2 materials more or less (simplifying for example) so there is little budge room on that – the money is made on the fact matches don’t exist without human labor.  There is no product without us; hence we are really the real producer of all wealth.  All of it.  We just don’t get to keep it.

So, the “greatest system on Earth” is one in which we work our asses off to get a few guys rich, while begging to be paid enough to live on while creating the products that make them rich?  It doesn’t reward by merit and hard work.  Really.  It rewards whoever is the biggest greedhead.

Ponder it for a second:  If every time you had another couple over for dinner, they raced to get the biggest steak, power-slammed your beer, ate all the dessert before your kids could even have a tiny slice… I guarantee you would not invite the assholes over again.  Yet this is who we willingly serve with our work.  Greedheads.  Dig?

But competition is healthy!

Ahhh, the John Wayne theory of rugged individualism and the hardy pioneer.  They competed, the Indians died, and they “deserve” our respect for becoming ranchers and farmers.  Cue the cattle drive rushing to be the 1st to get your cattle to market!  Lets be faster, tougher, smarter, work harder!  Which all sounds fine and dandy until you are hungry and reaching for that biscuit you cooked, and some overstuffed idiot snatches it quicker than you, and you go hungry.  That is what competition is, what Capitalism does.

Actually, deep down, you know this is bullshit.  Sharing is good.  You learned it in kindergarten.  Thats why we donate to charities.  But wouldn’t it be nice to eliminate poverty instead?  We can’t get there by making more greedheads, that is, lifting the world into our aggressive form of industrial competition. To have winners, someone HAS to lose.

Here’s a thought. Maybe work isn’t the sainted ethic you think it is.  Maybe we could work way less and no one would go hungry.  Maybe all this work and consume, make crappy products that wear out so you have to buy more, and work to have the money to buy more is illusion – simply to keep the money pouring upward into that tower of which we spoke above.

We are in an age of extreme pollution, overpopulation and quickly dwindling resources.  The Capitalist model would rather have your local grocery chain throw out half their produce every week than lower prices. Heck, some places have made it illegal to collect rainwater, and certainly Monsanto wants it to be impossible to grow your own food.  Remember Victory Gardens?  They were before my time – but now you couldn’t plant one to feed your kids without paying someone royalties.  Does this seem sane to you?

We have the technology to produce lasting products, to create free renewable energy.  We have the capacity to not only grow, but deliver food to every person on Earth.  Picture buying a car or refrigerator than never broke.  A battery that would last forever.  Less landfills, no payments.  There is a reason we cannot have these things.  There is no profit for the very few in it.

There is a reason in the US, we send jobs to places like Bangledesh and let them toil for pennies in factories that kill them.  More profit for the few.

Here’s a question.  When garments were made in the US by Unions, they were still cheaper than they are now made for pennies.  Where did the “value” of their abuse go?  To you?  Hell no.  To the rich, and we enabled it on their blood.

Socialism means Too Much Government

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The government you have now?  Or the government by and for the People?  I see nothing wrong with using our collective pool of money (and that is what taxes are supposed to be) to serve ourselves the things we could not have alone.  

No one but the insane would want more of their already dwindling money to pay for taxes, right?  Yet, it is true that places with the highest taxes have the highest happiness ratings.  They never worry about illness – they have free healthcare.  They get free education.  They have no homelessness, while we now have more empty foreclosed upon homes than homeless here.

Right now, nearly every Social agreement we have has been PRIVATIZED – and we are doing worse than ever.  How is that “market” working out for you?  Not only that?  The profits – are theirs alone (private gains) while we bail out their losses! (publicize loss)  What a rip off!

You are not getting your money’s worth now for a reason.  The rich not only aren’t paying taxes, they are taking the lion’s share of our collective bank account out in subsidies and overblown contracts, all abetted by the Politicians they have purchased.



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This what Capitalism does.  It funnels to the top, then uses that money and power to codify laws to keep the power and money flowing to the top.

Socialism is DEMOCRATIC.  It does not allow for a system where private, self-interested people can accrue that much power.  Now, it doesn’t make you nationalize your small flower shop. It does create laws where you have to pay fairly and caps profits to a reasonable level.  It does nationalize the things that meet our basic needs:  BANKING, (so it cannot be predatory) utilities, education, health and housing.

To ever get to a more Communist world, Socialism is a necessary step.  People need to feel safe enough and become educated enough to create their own systems of cooperative effort.  I know, I know, the Capitalists are cringing and the pure Marxists are annoyed by that.  This is my opinion.  While the idea of people taking over factories is good, and owning their labor and sharing the fruits of what they create is grand – Marx was working toward Industrialization as a goal.  We need to become post-industrial.  Once we are, there will be less need for a Centralized Goverment.

Once we have a system that is more green, based on stability and sustainability, owning production would be a natural result.  Instead of “making a profit” for town A and competing for the market with town B – the goal should be providing said product A for their area and receiving product B in return for our own.

Still?  Less is more. There is no reason in the world that people need to work more than 20 hours a week – either in a field of their “calling” or as rotating voluntary service to keep infrastructure running.   While no model will ever cover the shoe fetish of some, nor the video-game addiction of others?  These extras could be “paid for” with labor.

I realize this is simplistic – but my goal here is to open eyes to the possibilities of another way, not argue to dust the minutia of implementing it.

But what of the lazy leeches?

“I want to do nothing when I grow up!” ~ said no child ever.

Prior to the industrial age, people had what I lovingly dub “callings.”  Healing, mechanical, building, music, art, a love of animals, or growing things.  I don’t think anyone ever wanted to be a miner.  But think – the need to dig in the earth for fossil fuels would be gone, and the value of rocks for pretty things – gold, diamonds, etc – all symbols of classology – would become far less valuable.  In a better world, who are you and what have you done to improve the world would be the bastion of esteem over what trinkets you own.

Sure, there will always be less desirable jobs.  Garbage removal. Sewer maintenance.  Cleaning. Those should be either paid a premium, or be mandatory volunteer for a short period in everyone’s life to access the benefits of society.  If you think that is ridiculous, the model of restaurant management makes sure that to be hired to that position, you do every job in the place for weeks before you get to manage it.  You have to have hands on empathy and the ability to provide the service to run a restaurant. Mostly done in case someone calls in?  It has created respect for the people they manage.

If you are using the public education system to be a brain surgeon?  Wonderful.  It won’t kill you to have to serve as janitorial staff for a semester part time while starting in your field.  See how that works?  Everyone begins to have mutual respect for the shoes of others.

Most people who do not work would prefer to.  They are just ill-fitted or ill-suited for the dehumanizing, unappreciated work they do.  Marx called this alienation. I call it round peg in square hole syndrome.  I would love to teach teenagers science, but never had the money for college.  I love working as a gardener, though it doesn’t pay well.  I have enjoyed working in inventory management and tool repair for the big three.  I am now too old and sore, but rocked out waitressing.  I hate cubicles and offices – I am entirely unsuited for sedentary work. I prefer to have to move around during my day. I used to love to work on cars, and can fix nearly everything.

Yet?  I cannot find work that will provide for my son and I in any of those fields.  Capitalism made them all too low paying.  Again, it’s what it does.  

Instead, most of us are related to producing or selling crap we don’t need to people who can’t afford it, who in turn have to do the same.  All to never really be SECURE in our homes or food or illness – so some few can be Bazillionaires.

A safety net for the infirm or those with special needs is a wonderful thing.  Is a person born with disabilities less worthy of food than you?

Its Capitalism that is crazy, not we, the Anti-Capitalists.

Consider two water tanks, if you will, sharing an endless cycle of refreshing one another.

Thats what we are about, really.

Its not scary.

Its not rocket science.

Its not un-doable, though those in the top tank would love you to think so.

Its having security, self-worth, cooperation, more free time and a greener planet.

Its about never, ever stamping someone into poverty to get ahead.

We have to end this insane extraction system and unify to “all of us”.

Join the Anti-Capitalist Group.

Here be Sanity!

Jul 23 2012

Mitt And His Fellow Vulture Capitalists See Venezuela As a Threat: It Is. by Justina

The likely Republican presidential candidate and quintessential vulture capitalist, Mitt Romney, chided President Obama for not being sufficiently fearful of Venezuela’s socialist president, Hugo Chávez Friás last week.  In the conservative Daily Telegraph Mitt is quoted as saying:

“The idea that this nation, this president, doesn’t pose a national security threat is simply naive and an extraordinary admission on the part of this president to be completely out of touch with what is happening in Latin America,” Romney said of Chavez in an  interview Wednesday with Fox News.

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Yes, socialist Venezuela, the country which was recently ranked the 5th happiest in the world, following four social democratic countries, presents a threat to Mitt’s vulture business model and his support base, who largely come from the 92,000 wealthy individuals who sequester their wealth in “tax havens” such as Switzerland the Cayman Islands. (See rt. com  for its report on “The Price of Off Shore Revisited”.

After President Chavez was elected to office in 1998, Venezuela has had currency controls in place to prevent its national wealth from being looted and sent to extra-territorial banks, a model which defeats the efforts of would-be off shore tax evaders in Venezuela.  Other countries have allowed themselves to be systematically raped of their needed tax revenues.

Venezuela also jailed its criminal banksters for speculating with their depositors money.  Here, Mitt, you would likely be in jail for creating tax-evading investment vehicles in the Cayman Islands.  No, socialist Venezuela, under President Chavez, is definitely not a vulture-capitalist friendly country.  That is why it is now thriving.

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