Sunday, July 12, 2009

Capitalism Hits the Fan

Rick Wolff - Crisis in Versus of Capitalism.

Wolff also has a DVD, Capitalism Hits the Fan for $19.95. Which I find worth a chuckle as the average cost of producing a DVD of this quality runs about 50 cents. Quite the profit margin hitting the fan. Distributed by Media Education Foundation, a 501(c)(3) with experts such as Chomsky on the board of advisors and a host of other staff, directors, worker bees and interns. Another nonprofit organization, among thousands, founder and ED Sut Jhally, produces and distributes videos reminding us how screwed up the US really is, to inspire us to think critically, but you already know I'm exceptionally good at being critical. I have got to start me a nonprofit one of these days.

From Wolff article: "Crises in capitalism (depressions, recessions, cyclical downturns, etc.) are neither new nor unusual. Because capitalism works that way, its supporters came to label the more severe or protracted down periods crises because they feared that capitalism's victims would turn against it and seek basic social change.

A crisis of capitalism is different. It is not a recurring event. A crisis of capitalism happens when cultural, political, and economic conditions combine to persuade many people that capitalism as a system has outlived its historical usefulness. Seeing it as a barrier to social progress and believing that human communities can organize their economic systems in better, post-capitalist ways, these people begin to move politically."

According to Wolff there are 2 lessons : (1) crises in capitalism will recur until a crisis of capitalism provokes a transition out of capitalism that includes ending exploitation inside enterprises, and (2) the alternative to exploitation requires workers themselves democratically and collectively to appropriate and distribute the surpluses they produce.

I have a couple of problems with these 2 lessons.

Lesson (1) exploitation is a character fault, hence there will always be those willing to exploit for personal gain, for example the recent Burr Oaks workers who did not hesitate to desecrate hundreds of corpses for money, creating immeasurable grief for others. It was not "capitalism" or poverty that created these folks. They are botched human beings and no 'ism' will cure or grow a conscience in folks who have not developed one by at least their 13th birthday. The best we can hope to do is limit the damage they perpetrate and/or stay out of their path. Other exploiter examples: Most of congress, most of Hollywood, most corporations, and probably most of your neighbors.

Lesson number (2) : the alternative to exploitation requires workers themselves democratically and collectively to appropriate and distribute the surpluses they produce.

Okay, workers will appropriate and distribute (take and dole out) the surpluses they produce.

Most economies do this already. It's called the Government (collectively), appropriating what we work for (produce), determining how much is taxable (surplus) and distributing it in the form of subsides, social programs, department of bureaucrats, and pork, pork, pork.

But I get it. The new and improved system will be called collectively "us" and us be the new boss.

Question : If the alternative to exploitation requires workers to determine democratically and collectively the use of the surplus they produce - what do "us" do when the biggest "surplus" we produce is too many workers? Is this where "us" get a 15-hour work week and retirement at 40?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

"Us" need to stop being fooled by the pronoun propoganda.. .my son's company was just assimilated and he is spending hours, days and weeks being indoctrinated into the new holding corporation's family. He joked that "my wallet" means he has to do the company's bookkeeping when submitting an expense report.


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