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Sun Nov 24, 2013, 06:07 AM

Chomsky: Business Elites Are Waging a Brutal Class War in America

http://www.alternet.org/economy/chomsky-business-elites-are-waging-brutal-class-war-america



An article that recently came out in Rolling Stone, titled “Gangster Bankers: Too Big to Jail,” by Matt Taibbi, asserts that the government is afraid to prosecute powerful bankers, such as those running HSBC. Taibbi says that there’s “an arrestable class and an unarrestable class.” What is your view on the current state of class war in the U.S.?

Well, there’s always a class war going on. The United States, to an unusual extent, is a business-run society, more so than others. The business classes are very class-conscious—they’re constantly fighting a bitter class war to improve their power and diminish opposition. Occasionally this is recognized.

We don’t use the term “working class” here because it’s a taboo term. You’re supposed to say “middle class,” because it helps diminish the understanding that there’s a class war going on.

It’s true that there was a one-sided class war, and that’s because the other side hadn’t chosen to participate, so the union leadership had for years pursued a policy of making a compact with the corporations, in which their workers, say the autoworkers—would get certain benefits like fairly decent wages, health benefits and so on. But it wouldn’t engage the general class structure. In fact, that’s one of the reasons why Canada has a national health program and the United States doesn’t. The same unions on the other side of the border were calling for health care for everybody. Here they were calling for health care for themselves and they got it. Of course, it’s a compact with corporations that the corporations can break anytime they want, and by the 1970s they were planning to break it and we’ve seen what has happened since.

This is just one part of a long and continuing class war against working people and the poor. It’s a war that is conducted by a highly class-conscious business leadership, and it’s one of the reasons for the unusual history of the U.S. labor movement. In the U.S., organized labor has been repeatedly and extensively crushed, and has endured a very violent history as compared with other countries.

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Reply Chomsky: Business Elites Are Waging a Brutal Class War in America (Original post)
xchrom Nov 2013 OP
KG Nov 2013 #1
Laelth Nov 2013 #2
Flatulo Nov 2013 #3
Demo_Chris Nov 2013 #4
MrYikes Nov 2013 #5
socialist_n_TN Nov 2013 #6
hfojvt Nov 2013 #7
Populist_Prole Nov 2013 #19
socialist_n_TN Nov 2013 #8
hfojvt Nov 2013 #11
socialist_n_TN Nov 2013 #12
hfojvt Nov 2013 #13
socialist_n_TN Nov 2013 #14
hfojvt Nov 2013 #18
truedelphi Nov 2013 #17
hfojvt Nov 2013 #9
socialist_n_TN Nov 2013 #10
Egalitarian Thug Nov 2013 #15
colsohlibgal Nov 2013 #16
PasadenaTrudy Nov 2013 #21
emsimon33 Nov 2013 #20

Response to xchrom (Original post)

Sun Nov 24, 2013, 06:08 AM

1. AutoChomskyDURec

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Response to xchrom (Original post)

Sun Nov 24, 2013, 06:54 AM

2. Excellent article. k&r for exposure. n/t

-Laelth

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Response to xchrom (Original post)

Sun Nov 24, 2013, 07:37 AM

3. Can't find much in there to disagree with. Minimum wage with no benefits is the new

normal middle-class job.

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Response to xchrom (Original post)

Sun Nov 24, 2013, 07:55 AM

4. He pretty well nails it. nt

 

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Response to xchrom (Original post)

Sun Nov 24, 2013, 10:13 AM

5. Okay DUers, from now on its "working class" not "middle class", say it everywhere. nt

n

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Response to MrYikes (Reply #5)

Sun Nov 24, 2013, 10:35 AM

6. Revolutionary socialist here. Been using working class all along.......

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Response to MrYikes (Reply #5)

Sun Nov 24, 2013, 10:41 AM

7. I've always hated the term "middle class"

because I see the way it is used.

The accursed payroll tax cut was called - by Democratic politicians - a "middle class tax cut". Yet the distribution was like this

12.1% of the payroll tax cut goes to those in the bottom 40%
26.7% of the payroll tax cut goes to those in the top 10%

27.1% goes to those in the bottom 60%
46.4% goes to those in the top 20%


Of course, most politicians, and even many DUers say that much of the TOP 20% is part of the "middle class". And then again, many of those same people will insist that most of the top 20% is also part of the "working class". They say "somebody who has a job making $25,000 a year is working class" and also "somebody who has a job making $250,000 a year is working class". As if those two people are in the same class.

Now I am not saying that somebody in the top 20% can't be on the same SIDE as somebody in the bottom 80%, but they really need then to fight for the bottom 80% and NOT for the bottom 99%. Otherwise, the results of the fight will look like this (taking away the top 1%)

12.1% of the payroll tax cut goes to those in the bottom 40%
23.7% of the payroll tax cut goes to those in the top 9%

27.1% goes to those in the bottom 60%
43.4% goes to those in the top 19%

Still very unequal in THEIR favor.

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Response to MrYikes (Reply #5)

Sun Nov 24, 2013, 05:00 PM

19. I've referred to myself and my peers as working class for some time now. Should be said with pride

Really irritates my conservative TP father when I do. He was always constantly trying to preach to me to make me an uber capitalist always trying to win win win in the big rat race. I was never interested in any of that, and the fact that I'm blue collar by choice ( and pro union ) really smokes him.

He thinks the term "working class" is "left wing"; his favorite canard to try to discredit anything he doesn't like. Fuck that noise: The working class is the engine room of the country.

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Response to xchrom (Original post)

Sun Nov 24, 2013, 10:45 AM

8. One thing he gets very well here, although he doesn't say it outright......

Class war is a war BECAUSE it's a zero-sum game. When bosses win, workers lose and vice versa. The bosses realize this and always have. It's time the workers realized it too.

That's why the Dems and the "business union" model of labor relations will never work consistently and over the long term. You can't be all things to all people. You can't be a political party that can be for workers and for the bosses too. You can't run a union on the basis of helping workers AND helping bosses. It only works (and really never works very well) on a temporary basis during the good times. When the inevitable crash comes (part of the capitalist system), any gains are snatched back.

The owners understand this, but will cynically use the good intentions of these "win/win" believers to beat workers and keep the upper hand in the class war. They always have and always will. The sooner the working class understands this, the sooner we'll see the answers involved in actually WINNING the class war.

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Response to socialist_n_TN (Reply #8)

Sun Nov 24, 2013, 11:11 AM

11. but is it really ZERO sum?

The factory is not dealing with a fixed pool, the factory creates things.

If the bosses treat their workers better, then their workers CAN, and perhaps will, create MORE things. Because as a worker I have some power. I can strive to increase production and work hard, or I can slack, or otherwise deliberately strive to reduce production.

Which I have. BOOM!

http://journals.democraticunderground.com/hfojvt/12

Further, I cut them in ways where they didn't even know they were bleeding.

And that wasn't the first time. At my first factory job in a satellite dish factory. When we had a holiday, the factory bosses would make us work nine hour shifts on the other four days, because they could get four hours of extra production without paying overtime for it.

Personally, I thought the longer work days sucked and it pissed me off that they ruined my four day week that way. So I did my best to only get 8 hours worth of production done in the nine hours.

In some ways though, I am not sure they cared. After they laid a bunch of us off (they were making BIG satellite dishes, after all, and that market kinda collapsed). I stopped by one day and asked to see their numbers. They had two people producing 1400 on the drill presses. I could do 1200 by myself no sweat. It would make sense, if they cared about production to get rid of one of those two and hire me, but they didn't want to do that.

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Response to hfojvt (Reply #11)

Sun Nov 24, 2013, 11:27 AM

12. Anecdotal evidence doesn't take away from the systemic rules........

that apply over the entire spectra and scope of capitalism.

In addition, is it really in the interest of the owners to create MORE things? Wouldn't that cause a market glut and lower the rate of profit on each item?

And finally the overall result of your "sabotage" by producing 8 hours of goods in 9 hours of work doesn't affect the system very much either. And if enough of your working class comrades do the same sort of "sabotage" (this if organized, would be considered a slowdown strike), then the bosses lose. For a while. Then they fire you all and get other workers in who don't "sabotage" and at that time, they are winning again and the workers are losing. Ergo over the long run and on a systemic basis, either the bosses win or the workers win, but not both.

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Response to socialist_n_TN (Reply #12)

Sun Nov 24, 2013, 11:53 AM

13. it provides an example

and in the real world, you know factories are typically trying to increase production. That's why they often have the mandatory overtime or the mandatory 9 hour days.

Producing more with the same equipment and the same personhours reduces costs.

The point is, we can both win. If they pay better and they treat better, then they get rewarded with more production.

And there are many employers who are not businesses. For the last eleven years I have worked for the taxpayers. My "bosses" also work for the taxpayers. So what do they gain from treating me like crap, other than some sick personal satisfaction?

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Response to hfojvt (Reply #13)

Sun Nov 24, 2013, 12:17 PM

14. This might be an "agree to disagree" moment.....

My last word on the subject: It's not really me that you have to convince, it's the owners. And the owners KNOW what I'm saying is true. They KNOW that if the workers win in ANYTHING, they (the owners) lose. Now are there exceptions? Sure this is economics, not chemistry. But overall, this is what the system of capitalism calls for and over the long run this is what the system of capitalism will get. And as long as workers cling to the illusion that it's anything OTHER than a zero-sum game, workers will continue to lose.

Edited to add: As to your last paragraph, government employees would be considered an adjunct to capitalism, not really part of the system itself. To the capitalists, it's also a, mostly, unnecessary adjunct, something to be gotten rid ASAP. As to why a boss in a government job would be a problem, that has to do with the social conditioning under capitalism. It's a hierarchical system with power at the top. Even in government jobs, bosses wouldn't be immune to this societal norm.

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Response to socialist_n_TN (Reply #14)

Sun Nov 24, 2013, 04:30 PM

18. but even our oligopoly capitalism is not designed that way

you say "to the capitalists". Well, who is a capitalist? Some 19 million people have their own business, which, often, like my own two businesses, does not make that much money.

But workers are sometimes working for very small concerns. Three or four people probably work for my brother in law. Four or five people work at my dentists office. Across the country that amounts to hundreds of thousands of workers. And there are many different levels of government jobs that workers can get.

So I don't see how you divide the world into "workers" and "owners", and then speak about what the owners "know".

Since the economy continues to grow, it is certainly NOT a zero sum game. However, it is true, even in a positive sum game (where the pot, like in our economy) is growing, one person or one group can try to snatch up all the gains for themselves, but still with a growin pot, it is possible for both sides to gain. That isn't true with a stable or shrinking pot.

And in some ways, we as worker/consumers are gaining/have gained. For one, we have many more consumer items. And for two, we do have better working conditions. I doubt if my grandfather's factory had any kind of air conditioning, for example. My first two jobs did NOT have "smoke free" workplaces.

I just think it is too cynical to give up and say "it MUST be a war".

But you are right in that, to a large degree, the OTHER side, insofar as there is one, is fighting it. I say we flex our muscles and bloody their nose until they realize it's a battle that they do not want.

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Response to hfojvt (Reply #11)

Sun Nov 24, 2013, 03:36 PM

17. Although I do agree with the argument that capitalism is a war

And a zero sum game, it would not be such if everyone was out there practicing their life values in the way you are doing.

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Response to xchrom (Original post)

Sun Nov 24, 2013, 10:49 AM

9. I note the way Chomsky bashes unions here

the same way that I bash unions - and get blasted for it.

"the union leadership had for years pursued a policy of making a compact with the corporations, in which their workers, say the autoworkers—would get certain benefits like fairly decent wages, health benefits and so on. But it wouldn’t engage the general class structure."

Go back to Freeperland, Chomsky!

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Response to hfojvt (Reply #9)

Sun Nov 24, 2013, 11:00 AM

10. Yep. That's called an "aristocracy of labor" (I'm sure you knew that).........

and it's yet ANOTHER way that the bosses keep the working class divided and keeps them from true organizing for their own interests. And the tops of the unions are WAY too often, supporters of the current "business union" model that discounts, ignores and often even DENIES the reality of class war.

The answer is class consciousness BY the rank-and-file workers and a bottom up form of organization for the unions that breaks the power of the bureaucracy of the union leadership. Immediately recallable delegates and leadership that makes ONLY the average wage of the workers they represent would go a long way to getting a leadership that truly represents the interests of the organized working class.

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Response to hfojvt (Reply #9)

Sun Nov 24, 2013, 01:28 PM

15. And in this regard, they deserve a bashing or two. Unions are great when they work,

 

but we haven't seen them working for a very long time. While the union itself is the only officially recognized mechanism we have with which to bargain our labor, the unions have often been run for the benefit of the union executives over that of the rank and file.

Remember that Archie Bunker was a union member and virtually everyone immediately recognized that character as representative (though obviously as a TV character) of what we saw.

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Response to xchrom (Original post)

Sun Nov 24, 2013, 03:17 PM

16. Chomsky Has it Right

I've moved steady left politically as time has passed and I've learned how things really are. Big money interests have way too much power and while they get richer things keep declining for the have nots. We are it, the only industrialized nation who allows for profit health care. Because duh, they get it, a system where you're trying to stay well/alive and the health care provider is trying to maximize profits isn't good for anyone but CEO's and investors.

The democratic race to be nominated for president in 2016 will be something to watch. Hillary has, like Obama, been cozy with the big money, the corporations. Due to what seems like increased clout from the real democrats, the populists, she at least seems to be tacking more that way. But she still could be challenged by peoples champion Elizabeth Warren. Bernie Sanders says he might run, I'd vote for him every day of the week but...he has almost no chance because too many people have a misguided irrational fear of the "S" word, socialist. If he would run, big corporate media will marginalize him right out of the race

You never know how things might play out, how conventional wisdom can be turned upside down. I heard a dark horse this morning who looks like he may run, Brian Schweitzer, former governor of Montana. He talked like a populist/socialist but in a plain, frank, original manner. The guy got elected in freaking Montana. He pointed out that a congress person who takes money from a corporation Tuesday is unlikely to vote against the interests of that company on Thursday. That, in a nutshell, is the problem, our system of legalized bribery.

If you want to really get fired up listen to Henry Giroux, I saw him on with Moyer last night and wow! Oh and Chaplin's impassioned speech at the end of his brazen 1940 film "The Great Dictator". He had titanium ones to be going after Hitler before we got in the war and while England still might have fallen

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Response to colsohlibgal (Reply #16)

Sun Nov 24, 2013, 05:56 PM

21. We saw Moyers last night too

Talk about hitting the nail on the head.

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Response to xchrom (Original post)

Sun Nov 24, 2013, 05:46 PM

20. Great article. Thank you.

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