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newswolf56 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Feb-27-06 09:56 PM
Original message
Paul Krugman obliquely admits capitalism is destroying America:
I think of (Federal Reserve Chairman Ben) Bernanke's position, which one hears all the time, as the 80-20 fallacy. It's the notion that the winners in our increasingly unequal society are a fairly large group - that the 20 percent or so of American workers who have the skills to take advantage of new technology and globalization are pulling away from the 80 percent who don't have these skills.

The truth is quite different. Highly educated workers have done better than those with less education, but a college degree has hardly been a ticket to big income gains. The 2006 Economic Report of the President tells us that the real earnings of college graduates actually fell more than 5 percent between 2000 and 2004. Over the longer stretch from 1975 to 2004 the average earnings of college graduates rose, but by less than 1 percent per year

A new research paper by Ian Dew-Becker and Robert Gordon of Northwestern University, "Where Did the Productivity Growth Go?," gives the details. Between 1972 and 2001 the wage and salary income of Americans at the 90th percentile of the income distribution rose only 34 percent, or about 1 percent per yearBut income at the 99th percentile rose 87 percent; income at the 99.9th percentile rose 181 percent; and income at the 99.99th percentile rose 497 percent. No, that's not a misprint

(Bernankes) fallacy tends to dominate polite discussion about income trends, not because it's true, but because it's comforting. The notionsuggests that nobody is to blame for rising inequality, that it's just a case of supply and demand at work(while the) idea that we have a rising oligarchy is much more disturbing. It suggests that the growth of inequality may have as much to do with power relations as it does with market forcesBut the first step toward doing something about inequality is to abandon the 80-20 fallacy (and) face up to the fact that rising inequality is driven by the giant income gains of a tiny elite.


But actually and unfortunately -- if I may be permitted my own 12-stepper metaphor -- Krugman is still very much in denial. His first step should have been acknowledgment of the historical truth of class struggle. His second step would then have been acknowledgment that the conditions under which wealth can be created (see footnote below) no longer exist, and will probably never exist again on this planet, precisely because the limitations imposed by Peak Oil and environmental destruction/global warming have restored the near-absolute zero-sum limitations that have restricted wealth throughout most of human history. Only then -- as a third step -- is Krugman in position to explain to us how and why we are being victimized: the fact that rising inequality is driven by the giant income gains of a tiny elite.

Which leads us to the REAL first step, recognition that Marx is not only again relevant, but in fact more relevant now than ever: admission that at our present state of consciousness we are powerless over the ruling class -- that our lives have become unmanageable.

The full text of Krugmans essay is linked here via Truthout, for which New York Times registration is NOT required:

http://www.truthout.org/docs_2006/022706Z.shtml

_________
Footnotes:

Perhaps the realities of Peak Oil and environmental depredation will at last force theoretical economics to acknowledge that wealth, like other forms of energy, is never truly created. It is instead transformed from potential energy to kinetic energy, for example from the potential of gold in the ground (via its extraction by labor) to the kinesis of gold coin, which in turn may purchase more labor -- itself a form of energy -- to mine yet more gold. (Obviously if the mine owner can use slave labor rather than paid labor, his profit is that much greater: a demonstration of the overwhelming impetus by which capitalism invariably deteriorates into fascism.)

The myth of wealth creation, a shibboleth of the modern world, seems to have come from three sources: the vital need of capitalism to obscure the reality of class-struggle by obscuring the exploitation inherent in all capitalist economic relationships; the tendency of capitalism to euphemistically disguise the profits gained by replacement of workers with machines as created wealth (rather than wealth stolen from workers); and the false and ruinous prejudice at the core of Abrahamic religion (and therefore inherent in all societies so founded) that man is not part of nature and is therefore exempt from natural law.
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sasha031 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Feb-27-06 10:08 PM
Response to Original message
1. thank you for the find
and very much thanks for your footnote.

you couldn't have been more precise, although I wouldn't been able to describe it in such eloquent terms.
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Bozita Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Feb-27-06 10:14 PM
Response to Original message
2. Krugman piece is MUST READ! -- The numbers say it all
from the column:

"A new research paper by Ian Dew-Becker and Robert Gordon of Northwestern University, "Where Did the Productivity Growth Go?," gives the details. Between 1972 and 2001 the wage and salary income of Americans at the 90th percentile of the income distribution rose only 34 percent, or about 1 percent per yearBut income at the 99th percentile rose 87 percent; income at the 99.9th percentile rose 181 percent; and income at the 99.99th percentile rose 497 percent. No, that's not a misprint"

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GainesT1958 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Feb-27-06 10:27 PM
Response to Original message
3. Paul Krugman's a genius...
Here, though, he's mainly reaffirming what Kevin Phillips asserted in his book "Wealth and Democracy". If our economic system becomes top-heavy, as it's becoming now, it leads, eventually, to a collapse like the Great Depression. And only FDR's New Deal, which of course Repubs called--and still call--"socialism", saved our economy as we know it, by introducing regulation. Two Roosevelts had a hand in that: first Teddy Roosevelt, who busted the Trusts, and then his cousin thirty years later. But FDR and the New Deal is why you see America still surviving today in its present form.

Something tells me, sometime fairly soon, we;re going to need another "New Deal", folks! :eyes:

B-)
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rwenos Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Feb-27-06 10:35 PM
Response to Original message
4. Krugman IS Interesting, BUT
You've taken Krugman's conclusions, labelled them as superficial, and superimposed an enormous analytical leap -- i.e., that because Peak Oil and environmental destruction are getting worse (and Ford knows, they sure are), it is INEVITABLE that the system of production is doomed, and there can never be wealth creation again.

This is classical Marxist historical materialism. However (and this always impressed me as odd of Marx and Engels) your equation completely ignores the advance of technology. Although Marx and Engels documented the exploitation of the English working classes, particularly in manufacturing and mining, they were completely wrong about the rise of the Labor Movement, both in Europe and North America, resulting in many reforms -- not to mention an enormously-more productive economic engine.

My point is that classical historical materialism leaves technological progress out. Thus, since Peak Oil will come and go, production will collapse. Well, maybe. More likely, the godless capitalistas will figure out how to engineer more-efficient machines, discover new industries (no one had heard of the integrated circuit in 1970, or the Internet in 1990), and continue exploiting the workers -- working the magic of injected surplus value, which Marx correctlly labelled in Capital as the most-invidious force in exploiting the workers.

But you say it's inevitable. How very pretty to think so. The liberal economist says that markets, properly controlled, with government playing a regulatory role, CAN correct inefficient resource utilization in the long run.

In other words, Marx is as wrong now as he was in 1885, 1918, 1945, 1975 and 1989.
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omega minimo Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Feb-28-06 12:23 AM
Response to Reply #4
5. That "enormously-more productive economic engine" is runnin out of gas
"How very pretty to think" that "markets, properly controlled, with government playing a regulatory role, CAN correct inefficient resource utilization in the long run."

Better be a pretty damn long run to allow time for "the godless capitalistas will figure out how to engineer more-efficient machines, discover new industries (no one had heard of the integrated circuit in 1970, or the Internet in 1990), and continue exploiting the workers."

This smacks of the same "technology will find a way to fix the mess technology creates" fuzzy logic that is set in motion (and delivered Peak Oil) in Newswolf's last line of the OP.
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Mythsaje Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Feb-28-06 01:25 AM
Response to Reply #5
8. It's not necessarily "fuzzy logic"
though I can see how it's comforting (not really) to think so.

The problem is not whether technology will make it possible to fix the problems earlier forms of technology has caused, but whether or not those who control those technologies will have any impetus to use it for that function. Judging by the way breakthroughs that COULD have done something to repair some of the damage we've done have been used to create new ways to cause damage, rather than fixing problems, indicates that this isn't likely to happen.

Before you stop and say "impossible," I'd like to point to the enormous potential in nanotechnology to do just that. IF, and it's a big "if," the PTBs decide there's a profit in it. Or if, by some miracle, the technology falls into the hands of people who will make the right decisions as to what to do with it.
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omega minimo Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Feb-28-06 01:38 AM
Response to Reply #8
9. It's not working, it's not sustainable and it's based on
"The myth of wealth creation, a shibboleth of the modern world, seems to have come from three sources: the vital need of capitalism to obscure the reality of class-struggle by obscuring the exploitation inherent in all capitalist economic relationships; the tendency of capitalism to euphemistically disguise the profits gained by replacement of workers with machines as created wealth (rather than wealth stolen from workers); and the false and ruinous prejudice at the core of Abrahamic religion (and therefore inherent in all societies so founded) that man is not part of nature and is therefore exempt from natural law."
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Mythsaje Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Feb-28-06 01:45 AM
Response to Reply #9
10. I already read that
and it's not a refutation of my comment.
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omega minimo Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Feb-28-06 09:09 AM
Response to Reply #10
23. If you consider carefully, it addresses your assertion
"The problem is not whether technology will make it possible to fix the problems earlier forms of technology has caused, but whether or not those who control those technologies will have any impetus to use it for that function."

No matter what you think about Marx.
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Karenina Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Feb-28-06 09:14 AM
Response to Reply #23
24. Bingo!
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omega minimo Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Feb-28-06 09:46 AM
Response to Reply #24
28. Nice!
:toast: :thumbsup:
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Karenina Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Feb-28-06 01:35 PM
Response to Reply #28
36. One need only investigate the real reasons
that hemp and marijuana are illegal. ;-)
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lvx35 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Feb-28-06 01:57 AM
Response to Reply #4
12. The power of technology is tricky
I'm a computer science guy and I've been thinking about this alot. As you know, basically all our technology runs on energy. You can calculate the barrels of oil burned by a given datacenter in a day if you want to, and its not as small as you would think. There are also deep fundamental limits on the computational power you can get from a certain amount of energy that can never be breached, regardless of processor effeciency increases that will inevitably come. So if energy becomes scarce, technology will increase at a slower pace. Its true...to what extent I don't know, but its an interesting monkey wrench thrown into this whole mess.
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newswolf56 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Feb-28-06 03:56 AM
Response to Reply #4
14. Marxism understands the impact of technology very well:
As long as capitalism remains what it is, surplus capital will never be utilized for the purpose of raising the standard of living of the masses in a given country, for this would mean a decline in profits for the capitalists; it will be used (instead) for the purpose of increasing those profits by exporting capital abroad to the backward countries. In these backward countries profits are unusually high, for capital is scarce, the price of land is relatively low, wages are low, raw material is cheap...The necessity for the export of capital arises from the fact that in a few countries capitalism has become "over-ripe" and...cannot find profitable investment. (Lenin, V.I., Imperialism: the Highest State of Capitalism, Zurich: 1916, and Petrograd: 1917; page 67 of the English translation; in Ten Classics of Marxism, International Publishers, New York City: 1939.)

Marx himself said:

Capitalist production collects the population together in great centers, and causes the urban population to achieve an ever-growing preponderance. This has two results. On the one hand it concentrates the historical motive force of society; on the other hand, it disturbs the metabolic interaction between man and the earth, i.e., it prevents the return to the soil of its constituent elements by man in the form of food and clothing; hence it hinders the operation of the eternal natural condition for the lasting fertility of the soil... (Marx, Karl, quoted by Foster, John Bellamy in Marx's Ecology, Monthly Review Press, New York City: 2000; pgs. 155-156.)

He also effectively defined not only technology but the processes underlying Peak Oil and at least part of global warming:

Labour is, first of all, a process between man and nature, a process by which man, through his own actions, mediates, regulates and controls the metabolism between himself and nature...He sets in motion the natural forces which belong to his own body, his arms, legs, head and hands, in order to appropriate the materials of nature in a form adapted to his own needs. Through this movement he acts upon external nature and changes it, and in this way he simultaneously changes his own nature... (Marx, ibid, p. 157.)

Marx's collaborator Engels also wrote of the consequences of ecocide, thereby anticipating not only the suicidal curse of trinket materialism but, by fully 130 years, some of the deeper implications of the Gaea Hypothesis:

To make earth an object of huckstering -- the earth which is our one and all, the first condition of our existence -- was the last step toward making one's self an object of huckstering. It was and is to this very day an immorality surpassed only by the immorality of self-alienation. Engels, Frederich; ibid pg. 106.

While I don't expect to change your mind, I submit the above citations -- academic formalities and all -- in the respectful hope they might at least open it: not only has Marxism been belittled, it has also been savagely misrepresented. It is no coincidence that the Russian word dezinformatsiya -- a tactic capitalist propaganda falsely attributes to the variously named Cheka (GPU, OGPU, NKVD, MVD, KGB) -- has an undeniable (and undeniably telling) English root.
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muriel_volestrangler Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Feb-28-06 05:27 AM
Response to Reply #14
15. Your citations don't back up your claims for them
The first does not address technology - it just addresses surplus capital. Advances in technology mean that goods are produced more cheaply, which, with competition, reduces their price - thus benefiting the masses. Marxism may address this somewhere, but not in your quotes. Your first quote is about globalisation.

Your claims that Marx defines technology, the processes of Peak Oil and global warming are quite funny - I'm surprised you didn't claim he invented roller skates too. There's nothing in your quotes about finite extractable resources, or feedback mechanisms in the atmosphere; it's just "fertility of the soil", a specific problem, and ownership of land and mineral rights - not in terms of what this means for the long term availability of resources, but in philosophical terms of what it means for humanity's perception of itself. If those are the best quotes you can find from Marxism on the subject of technology, I'm deeply disappointed - I had more respect for him than that.

The vital point about technology is that knowledge of more efficient processes and tools advances, and can be spread and kept alive with very little effort, if the holders of the knowledge are either willing or forced to. This has a profound effect on capitalism, but is completely unaddressed in your citations.
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newswolf56 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Feb-28-06 07:24 AM
Response to Reply #15
18. If we reason from the premise that technology -- that is, tool-making...
and tool-use -- is one of the defining characteristics of Homo Sapiens Sapiens, then the citations do precisely as I say they do. Human technology is nothing special; it is certainly not unique to modern humans. Again Marx: Technology reveals the active relation of man to nature, the direct process of the production of his life, and thereby it also lays bare the production of the social relations of his life, and the mental conceptions that flow from those relations. (ibid, p. 200)

To which Marx adds: As the earth is (humanity's) original larder, so too it is his original tool house. It supplies him, for instance, with stones for throwing, grinding, pressing, cutting, etc...As soon as the labour process has undergone the slightest development, it requires specially prepared instruments...The use and construction of instruments of labour, though present in germ among certain species of animals, is a characteristic of the specifically human labour process, and (man is therefore defined) as a "tool-making animal." Relics of bygone instruments of labour possess the same importance to the investigation of extinct formulations of society as do fossil bones for the determination of extinct species of animals. (ibid p. 201)

I didn't set out these quotations earlier because it seemed to me their content was implicit in the quotations I did employ. My apology.

As to the Lenin quote, the outsourcing of which he was writing assumes technology; any notion there could be development of surplus capital without technology -- much less outsourcing -- is patently absurd.

It seems to me this point and my subsequent points are each implicitly clear once one rids oneself of the mental paralysis imposed by the ethnocentric and entirely commonplace view that "modern society" and "modern technology" are unique and hitherto-unknown phenomenon. For Marx -- not only one of the founders of sociology but well-schooled in anthropology and archaeology as well -- technological achievement is an assumed human condition; in other words, he recognizes that the Romans, the Greeks, the Minoans, even Homo Sapiens Neanderthalensis no doubt thought of themselves as the last word in modernity too. Repeating, for the sake of context, previously quoted passages:

Capitalist production collects the population together in great centers, and causes the urban population to achieve an ever-growing preponderance. Such concentration implicitly requires technology and is also one of technology's consequences. This has two results. On the one hand it concentrates the historical motive force of society; on the other hand, it disturbs the metabolic interaction between man and the earth... The dynamic Marx is describing is precisely the cause of Peak Oil, environmental destruction in general and therefore very probably global warming.

And please don't misquote me. I said Marx defined "the processes underlying Peak Oil and at least part of global warming" -- not that he defined Peak Oil and global warming itself -- a very important distinction. My apology if it was too subtle.

The following -- another repeated quote -- is now more explicit:

Labour is, first of all, a process between man and nature, a process by which man, through his own actions, mediates, regulates and controls the metabolism between himself and nature...He sets in motion the natural forces which belong to his own body, his arms, legs, head and hands, in order to appropriate the materials of nature in a form adapted to his own needs. Through this movement he acts upon external nature and changes it, and in this way he simultaneously changes his own nature... Again the human-nature symbiosis; once more the cause underlying Peak Oil, at least part of global warming, and therefore the forthcoming environmental apocalypse.

As to your claim that "advances in technology mean that goods are produced more cheaply, which, with competition, reduces their price - thus benefiting the masses," I can only wonder what Bush Administration propaganda you have been reading. The first part of your formulation is certainly correct -- "advances in technology mean that goods are produced more cheaply" -- but the rest of it is total falsehood. The only benefit is to the ruling class, who then use their surplus capital (generated by the combination of technology and exploitation) to to cheapen production still further: once again the relevance of the Lenin quote as well as my original illustration of the executive who replaces paid workers with slaves (precisely as Big Business is encouraged to do, whether by the Nazis during the Third Reich or by the stockholders today). Meanwhile prices climb steadily, further concentrating ruling-class wealth while further demoralizing, disempowering and ultimately terrifying the working class: the American economy in action, more predatory by the hour, with the concentration camps already under construction.
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muriel_volestrangler Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Feb-28-06 07:55 AM
Response to Reply #18
20. You don't seem to understand either Peak Oil or global warming
Peak Oil is not about environmental destruction; even if there were no waste products at all, it would still be a phenomenon. It's because the resources are finite, and become harder to obtain. It has nothing to do with "the metabolic interaction between man and the earth". And the quotes say nothing about global warming either, beyond "man changes the environment", which is a fairly banal observation, and could mean it is for good or ill. Extending that to "the cause underlying at least part of global warming" is a huge stretch. If he'd said something like "the capacity of the atmosphere to hold our emissions" or something, you might have a case. So far the only reference has been to soil fertility.

At least you've now come up with a Marx quote that actually mentions technology; thought so far nothing about advances in technology, which is what post #4 was about. The point is we don't think we're the last in technology; we think it will advance after us. And technology is knowledge, which, unlike capital or labour, can be spread with little effort. This is a fundamental factor in society, and I'd have thought Marx was intelligent enough to have addressed it. So far, you've shown nothing in that area.

If you think that advances in technology don't benefit the masses, you've lived in a cell for your whole life. If you think that it's Bush propaganda, then you've never read any history, and have forgetten everything you went through before 2000. The world doesn't revolve around you and your latest political opponent. Prices do not climb steadily - prices of goods for which technology finds new ways of manufacturing come down. The computer on which you read this is a classic example.
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omega minimo Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Feb-28-06 09:07 AM
Response to Reply #20
22. Newswolf56 really must apologize again for being too SUBTLE
:sarcasm: :eyes:
:yoiks:
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newswolf56 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Feb-28-06 04:11 PM
Response to Reply #20
40. You're the one who seems to have forgotten...
"everything (we Americans) went through before 2000."

I don't know the UK's economic history, but inflation -- another term for the increasing worthlessness of the dollar -- has been a huge and ruinous problem in the United States for nearly as long as I can remember. Inflation began as soon as President Roosevelt's death allowed for the removal of World War II price controls, but it began to truly skyrocket in approximately 1964, and since then inflation has constantly outstripped wage gains. In service industries, now the nation's largest employer, wages not only fail to keep up with inflation; they tend constantly downward even as prices constantly rise.

Since 1964, real inflation in the U.S. (deftly concealed by periodic recalculation of the value of the dollar) has been very close to 900 percent: for example, the new automobile that in 1964 cost $1500 (the cheapest Volkswagen sedan) now costs at least $14,500 (the cheapest KIA); wages meanwhile have gone up only about 500 percent: the average wage in 1964 was about $2.50 per hour, while the average wage today is only a few cents more than $15 per hour. Some things have of course gone up much more than 900 percent. Housing is one such realm, with rent in my area up nearly 1,700 percent, from $40 for a comfortable three-room apartment (1964) to $700 for the same accommodation now. Education is another -- tuition at one of the four universities I attended en route to my interdisciplinary BA (history, sociology, mythology, art, history of science and math) is up 2,150 percent, from $75 per quarter (1962) to $1688 per quarter (now).

The Bush Regime, ever protective of the ruling class, has radically rearranged the Department of Labor statistical site to make these damning numbers (and all other such negative data) exceptionally difficult to confirm, and I don't have the time today for an extended search. But here is a link that is nevertheless very illustrative:

http://www.njfac.org/Wage%20report.htm

If you scroll down to the bottom of the link, you'll see a table that compares the federal minimum wage for a given year with its value in current dollars: another measure of inflation. For 1963, the federal minimum wage was $1.25, worth $7.52 in today's (increasingly worthless) currency. By this standard, "pure" inflation -- that is, inflation reflected as a monetary value rather than as the price of a given commodity -- has been 502 percent. Even using this ultra-conservative standard, wages have consistently lagged behind inflation.

Here is the link from which I derived the present average wage:

http://www.vtlmi.info/wage.htm

The chronic failure of wages to keep up with inflation (and not some binge of impulse-buying) is why Americans have an ever-worsening credit-card debt. Contrary to your assertion, prices under capitalism DO climb steadily -- that (and forcible wage reduction) are among the chief ways by which the ruling class increases its extraction of profit -- and what good is new technology, even lower-priced new technology, if people can't afford it? Indeed your stance reveals itself as increasingly pro-capitalist (and therefore pro-Bush), even allowing for the fact that some people have been so conditioned they react negatively to Marx by reflex, no matter what revealing truths he and his successors might be offering.

All the more so given your stubborn contention that Peak Oil and global warming have "nothing to do with 'the metabolic interaction between man and the earth.'" This is not only an astounding claim; it is also implicitly a derivation of Abrahamic theology.

But perhaps you are merely being deliberately difficult. Now vaguely remembering a long-ago clash between us over the firearms issue, I am beginning to question your motives: retribution for a verbal drubbing handed yet another UK anti-gun fanatic, still demanding we upstart colonists be forcibly disarmed? Until that recollection, I was willing to continue this discussion in good faith, but now...well, sorry; no more.
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muriel_volestrangler Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Feb-28-06 05:46 PM
Response to Reply #40
43. I have hardly ever debated firearms at DU
and I certainly don't demand that Americans be disarmed, so I think you're confusing me with someone else.

Posting endless discussion about general inflation is completely pointless; I never said that overall prices hadn't gone up. I was talking about the prices of goods for which technology provides easier ways of manufacture. Lower priced new technology does do people good, because many people can afford it. No, not everyone, but a lot of people.

If you think that being pro-capitalist is being pro-Bush, then your view of the world is one of the most blinkered I have ever seen. The Democratic party is pro-capitalist. The majority of DUers are pro-capitalist. I don't react automatically to Marx, but I thought your quotations from him seemed particularly useless (and your comments on Krugman's piece were laughable too - you think employing people is stealing from the workers, and you think using a machine is stealing from the workers too? :rofl:) I really think Marx has got much better arguments than you're putting, because he would have been laughed from intelligent discourse long ago if he was as simplistic as you are making him sound.

My claim has nothing to do with theology of any kind. Again, you seem to think that anyone who disagrees with you is part of one huge ideology. We're not - there are all kinds of people who think your ideas are wrong, for all sorts of reasons. It's not 'you against the machine' - you're not that important.

You still haven't shown any understanding of peak oil. A vague phrase about 'metabolic interaction' means nothing. New Age crystal fanatics have a better grip on the issue than that. And you still haven't said a single thing about the progress of technology. Come on, surely you can dig up something Marx said about that.
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newswolf56 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Feb-28-06 07:08 PM
Response to Reply #43
45. Again (and now ever more obviously with malice) you misquote me:
"you think employing people is stealing from the workers, and you think using a machine is stealing from the workers too?"

It is profoundly telling you would derive the above statement from what I really said -- 'The myth of wealth creation, a shibboleth of the modern world, seems to have come from three sources: the vital need of capitalism to obscure the reality of class-struggle by obscuring the exploitation inherent in all capitalist economic relationships; the tendency of capitalism to euphemistically disguise the profits gained by replacement of workers with machines as created wealth (rather than wealth stolen from workers); and the false and ruinous prejudice at the core of Abrahamic religion (and therefore inherent in all societies so founded) that man is not part of nature and is therefore exempt from natural law.'

Despite the inherent falsehood of capitalism, I know of no capitalist so dishonest he will deny that the motivating force of automation is the increased profit that results from replacing (relatively expensive) workers with (cheap) machines -- our jobs stolen with the result we workers are flung into permanent impoverishment from which no escape is even remotely possible.

Nor do I know of any capitalist so dishonest he will deny that the ultimate goal of all personnel policies is the extraction of maximum productivity for minimum cost -- not "fair" cost or "living wage" but MINIMUM cost -- and minimum cost enforced by an entire system of laws, courts, goon squads and police all intended to hold the worker in the most abject and servile bondage possible: our work stolen by an economic system now ever-more-brazenly structured from top to bottom to facilitate just such thievery -- the paycheck equivalent of a despised company-store merchant who habitually short-changes all his customers.

While it is true the U.S. workforce was once adequately recompensed, those days -- and the American Dream that was their byproduct -- are gone forever, lost to the fast-approaching post-apocalyptic realities of Peak Oil and environmental collapse, vanishing into a new and eternal Dark Age beyond even the faintest hope of recall. The lot of American workers and in fact all the world's workers is naught but ever-more-intensified oppression in every way imaginable -- a tiny ruling class living behind impregnable fortifications in obscene opulence, the remainder of us condemned to Third World squalor of a kind most of us cannot even imagine -- the ultimate reality of capitalism now finally revealed in all its tyrannosauric savagery since there is no longer even the sadly imperfect alternative of the Soviet Union to keep it in check.

Of course I'm amazed by those who cannot see how capitalism is increasingly savaging every worker on the planet -- not to mention methodically destroying the planet itself -- and all in the name of ever-expanding greed: the genocidal/ecocidal shibboleths of "profit" and "growth." I'm only slightly less astounded by those who still deny the fact -- crystal-clear to every real environmental scientist on earth -- that until we subdue the capitalist threat once and for all, we have absolutely no hope of saving either ourselves or our planet. Your inability to grasp these ever-more-obvious truths merely begs the question: pray tell in what posh club or walnut-paneled boardroom have you spent your adult life?
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radio4progressives Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Feb-28-06 08:32 PM
Response to Reply #45
49. brilliant post ... and the question that begged to be asked:
what posh club or walnut-paneled boardroom have you spent your adult life?

and isn't the capitalists bubble after all, the boardrooms, n'cest pas?
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omega minimo Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Feb-28-06 08:39 PM
Response to Reply #49
50. and why are pearls cast on the bar floor like peanut shells?
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muriel_volestrangler Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Mar-01-06 04:47 AM
Response to Reply #45
65. I think I understand the resource and environment problems better than you
because you've still shown no comprehension of what Peak Oil actually is, and think that Marx has something meaningful to say about global warming. You still haven't mentioned anything about technological progress. You make a good speech, though the hyperbole is a bit much if you examine the speech line by line. Obviously you hate capitalism; and I agree that measuring an economy by 'growth', without regard to its source or sustainability, is storing up bigger problems for the future. But your prophesies of never-ending doom are over the top, as is the description of our work as "stolen" (a word you seem only too happy to use in your reply above, despite your apparent objection to my characterising that as your position in your opening sentence).

No, I've never been a member of a club, and I've never had a job higher up in a company than informal 'team leader' of a few people. Again, you seem to assume too much about people who think differently from you.
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newswolf56 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Mar-01-06 08:53 AM
Response to Reply #65
67. Giving you the benefit of the doubt -- assuming you're raising a...
serious issue in good faith and not just sharpshooting -- I'll be back this evening to answer your objections, which I can't undertake at the moment because preparing for a conference with my most important editorial client obviously takes priority. Meanwhile suffice it to say that while I don't doubt our perspectives on Peak Oil and global warming are very different, I presume we at least agree on the underlying principles: depletion of the (ever-more-finite) petroleum supply, exhaustion of other natural resources, destruction of the global ecosystem -- with the United States not only the worst offender but in the worst possible position to survive, precisely because the greed of our ruling class has left us with the worst healthcare system, the worst educational system, the worst social-service network and the worst public transport system in the industrial world -- systems that after the collapse will unquestionably be the worst (that is, the most savagely discriminatory and therefore the most deliberately genocidal) on the entire planet. And you're certainly right I hate capitalism. That's because I've seen firsthand -- in all these "worsts"-- what capitalism has done and what it is doing, both to my country and to its people. In the aftermath of Katrina we glimpse what all of America will be like within a very few years: far worse than any Third World country today -- and more hopeless than any nation in history, with the oligarchy snug in its castles and all the rest of us reduced to the eternal, inescapable poverty, serfdom and horror of an everlasting new Dark Age.

Everlasting? Yes indeed, and not from one cause but three: after Peak Oil comes the first cause, the collapse of the entire petroleum-based economy; with that collapse comes the second cause, the collapse of science, and the permanent reduction of technology and therefore human prospects accordingly -- probably to a 19th Century steam-age/horse-and-buggy level in which resource limits will permanently end all further scientific discovery; then there is the third cause: the global capitalist effort, already evident in the Bush Regime's policies both in the Middle East and here at home, to secure the permanence of worldwide fascism by imposing Abrahamic theocracy on all the peoples of the world -- the new Dark Age from which there will be no escape until humanity itself becomes extinct.
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newswolf56 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Mar-02-06 07:44 AM
Response to Reply #65
68. Back as promised:
Edited on Thu Mar-02-06 08:35 AM by newswolf56
Inverting the inverted pyramid and dealing with lesser matters first, my comment about clubs and boardrooms was sarcasm -- not assumption -- and that you thought otherwise is merely the unavoidable legacy of my often-too-deadpan delivery. The same applies to nearly all my other alleged assumptions about an unknown individuals identity: sarcasm, not purported biography. However, in the interest of civility, I'm truly sorry you were offended.

The question of stolen work is a somewhat more serious matter. You seem to be claiming (or misunderstanding) that I regard ALL work for hire as stolen labor, when in fact (I thought) my analogy -- "the paycheck equivalent of a despised company-store merchant who habitually short-changes all his customers" -- would have clearly demonstrated otherwise.

Sidestepping the whole debate over the ultimate determinants of the monetary value of labor -- the absurd anti-Marxist claim that the sole value of labor is whatever pittance an employer deigns to pay "his" workers versus the classic but impossibly utopian Marxist assertion that the true value of labor is the non-material cost of producing a given item (lessened under capitalism by the "theft" represented by the employer's profit) -- I will focus instead on the concept of a "fair wage" or a "living wage": a notion that, by the way, has arisen not through any implicit capitalist humanitarianism -- a contradiction in terms if not an outright oxymoron -- but rather as a direct result of Marxist agitation expressed via organized labor.

Slashing through the specific economic determinants -- cost of essentials (food, shelter, clothing) plus various calculations as to the dollar-value of "pursuit of happiness" -- the real "fair wage" or "living wage" is merely the lowest wage at which the ruling class can reasonably expect guaranteed suppression of the impulse toward reform and/or revolution. This is a functional definition -- in fact one that just now occurred to me -- but considered in the context of class-struggle it is a very precise, absolutely accurate, utterly revealing and therefore dangerously useful definition: once again my debt to Marx.

However to make my point it is necessary to detour briefly through a history more specifically political before we return to the particular economic pathway down which we are walking. From the Industrial Revolution until the first third of the 20th Century, American capitalism was every bit as savage as its Russian and Western European counterparts: labor agitation was routinely suppressed by death squads and military action (Google "Coal Creek War," "Mingo County War" and "Ludlow Massacre"), and workers were routinely treated as subhuman (Google "Triangle Shirtwaist Fire"). But in 1932, with the country in the depths of the Great Depression and on the brink of both socialist revolution and fascist counter-coup, the various Leftist elements in the United States -- LaFollette Progressives, Jeffersonian Democrats, socialists of sundry viewpoints, Communist Party members (this at a time when the Communist Party was the third largest and best-organized party in U.S. history) -- all united under the aegis of the New Deal to create a hybrid without human precedent: the Marxist truth of class-struggle grafted onto the uniquely American principles of Constitutional governance and individual liberty.

The singularity of the New Deal lay in its effort to achieve a working compromise between forces that in one form or another have been at war with one another since the dawn of human time. The New Deal thus acknowledged the innate savagery of capitalism even as it recognized the vital role capitalism played in the national economy. Capitalism would therefore be subject to rigid control -- the analogy of nuclear energy comes to mind -- but it would not be totally suppressed, as the Communists proposed. Meanwhile the role of government would be expanded to include a wholly new dimension of its ancient function as defender of the nation: protector of the working class against the sociopathic greed and sadistic malice of the ruling class, and therefore guarantor of what eventually came to be known as the "living wage" -- informally, and for the too-brief years of America's now-forever-lost prosperity, the wage at which the working class could afford luxuries hitherto attainable only by the ruling class: not merely the basic essentials of survival but a home genuinely one's own, an automobile of one's own, quality education, material security beyond the point at which one became too old to work, etc. In short, the achievement through non-violent political means of a national redistribution of wealth hitherto accomplished only by violent revolution.

The New Deal was, of course, immediately recognized by the ruling class as a peaceful pathway to the kind of egalitarian economy envisioned by Marx -- from each according to ability; to each according to need -- and as such, simply because it demanded a sharing of wealth, it was fiercely opposed from the very beginning, first by the thwarted fascist coup of 1934, next by subversion, finally by the assassinations of the 1960s: President John Fitzgerald Kennedy , Malcolm X, Martin Luther King Jr., Robert Kennedy. After a mere 36 years -- from Franklin Delano Roosevelts blessed victory in 1932 to the resurgence of American fascism signaled by Richard Milhous Nixons election in 1968 -- the New Deal and all its implicit promise was dead.

What has changed since then -- and where the element of "theft" enters this picture (specifically as I referred to theft and not as Marx used it) -- is that since about 1973, American employers great or small have predictably, steadily and increasingly defined the "living wage" downward even as the cost of living steadily increases.

Indeed it is the overwhelming impetus inherent in the fact I have witnessed this whole process -- the initial optimism of the New Deal (into which I was born) and its subsequent methodical destruction by the always malevolent forces of a never-compliant capitalism now fully resurrected in all its tyrannosauric viciousness -- that swept away my earlier doubts as to the final and ultimate relevance of Marx and the entire concept of class-struggle.

In fact, apart from a few people who rode the dot-com rollercoaster and a tiny handful whose effectively inexhaustible wealth defines them as members of the ruling class (even if the dishonesty of their present-day politics denies their status), I do not know a single American who has gotten a real raise -- that is, an increase in income large enough to yield surplus or discretionary funds -- since 1973. Not one -- and most of the people I know are cultural workers or skilled craftspeople: writers, editors, photographers, visual artists, printers, machinists, mechanics, carpenters, merchant seamen, commercial fishers, a smattering of social-service executives, teachers and professors. To be sure, some are doing better than others; people represented by unions usually manage to stay abreast of inflation, though just barely. But not one of these people has been truly "well off" since the first Oil Crisis -- and the official statistics prove the malaise is nation-wide: thus the relevance of the figures I cited in Post 40.

If the imposition of forcible wage-and-salary reductions were part of an overall downward economic trend in which prices and ruling-class wealth were also decreasing, it would not be "theft." But look at the simple statistic that executive compensation -- that is, the income of a professional sociopath whose sole virtue is endlessly scheming greed and whose only skills are manipulation and exploitation -- has risen so high it is now typically 419 times that of the average employee paycheck, an 898 percent increase over its already obscene 42:1 ratio in 1980. (Google: executive compensation has risen by with and without quotation marks.) Thus again the relevance of the data cited in the OP: Between 1972 and 2001 the wage and salary income of Americans at the 99th percentile rose 87 percent; income at the 99.9th percentile rose 181 percent; and income at the 99.99th percentile rose 497 percent.

From where do these ruling-class gains come? Obviously, in large measure from the forcible reduction of working class wages and salaries -- not to mention the looting of pensions and ever-more-brazen price-gouging as well. If this is not theft in the classic sense -- taking with intent to deprive the rightful owner (with the underlying implication the owner is powerless to resist) -- I do not know what else to call it.

Once again applying the lens of class-struggle, the hitherto-unspoken lesson becomes obvious: the ruling class is ever-more-assured the mechanisms of oppression are sufficiently well emplaced (and commanded by sufficiently ruthless functionaries) they will not only suppress any genuine effort by the working class to restore its ever-more-dwindling share of the proverbial pie, but eliminate such effort forever.

Given the added elements of a population not only deliberately denied vital historical knowledge but deliberately under-educated (dumbed down ) in general and then further immersed in zomboid darkness by the bread-and-circus/Josef Goebbels functions of corporate mass media, the analogy is already increasingly medieval: not to feudalism -- a common error of misstatement -- but to manorialism, though utterly devoid of any of its inherent obligations the lords and ladies of the manors provide for their serfs. (Manorialism was the economy; feudalism was the military organization by which it was maintained and defended; the Church was the ideological glue by which the entire system was bound together.)

Whether due to the total absence of education and the total suppression of information by the Church or due to deliberate mis-education and methodical distraction and disinformation via corporate mass media, the result is pretty much the same. Thus today in the United States we have a whole people -- and in particular the electorate -- increasingly reduced to serfdom and all its associated benightedness. Whether accompanied by the obvious degradation suffered by serfs and proletarians in Czarist Russia or the degradation concealed beneath the increasingly desperate trinket materialism of the post-New Deal U.S., the psychodynamics are similar. As only Marx could save Russia, now might only Marx or at least re-acknowledgement of his truth of class-struggle also again save the United States. It depends entirely upon the extent to which the ruling class is willing to restrain its own Ted Bundy ruthlessness whether this salvation might take place via peaceful electoral processes and restoration of the New Deal (the John Edwards alternative, which I wholeheartedly support), or whether its rightful seekers might be forced by oppression to other more extreme measures.

In this context, the significance of Peak Oil (and environmental depredation/exhaustion in general) is that it grants us a statistically supported vision of precisely what is at stake. Here, for the sake of readers unfamiliar with the concept, is an explanatory (and non-hysterical) link:

http://www.energybulletin.net/primer.php

In summary, the cheap-resource treasury that is the foundation of the industrial economy is running dry, the global equivalent of a binge-spender approaching an ultimate credit-card limit. When the cheap oil is gone, there will be nothing to replace it save reversions to earlier technologies. Some cultures -- those indoctrinated by socialism in genuine community and the collective sharing of hardships -- will survive:

http://www.globalpublicmedia.com/articles/657

Other cultures -- precisely as we saw in post-Katrina New Orleans -- will suffer total and permanent collapse.

Ultimately of course the exhaustion of petroleum and other natural resources will bring about the collapse of civilization itself -- collapse of a magnitude humanity has never experienced, not even in the aftermaths of the Minoan and Graeco-Roman downfalls (where relevant knowledge and residual technologies survived even if the political and economic systems did not). The debate among futurists is not the either/or of collapse versus no collapse; it is merely over the magnitude of the debacle. Some see humanity literally and inescapably reduced to the stone-age level. Others -- the more optimistic futurists with whom I happen to agree -- predict a radical step backward to 19th Century technological levels: a total and permanent end to flight, widespread and permanent de-electrification, the restoration of steam locomotion on railroads, the permanent resumption of animal-powered agriculture and horse transport, the permanent disappearance of internal combustion engines, the emergence of the bicycle as the only viable means of personal transport in cities. The space program will at last be recognized as the ego-phallic absurdity it has always been; nuclear energy will vanish entirely simply because of its vast associated expense. The entire petroleum-based economic folly will probably eventually be labeled petroleumism -- the ultimate perversion, humanitys brief and nearly suicidal orgy of trinket materialism spawned by the Abrahamic contempt for nature.

Given the reality of cultural collapse, a major underlying question is the extent to which scientific discovery will be restricted -- which in turn will determine the possibility of developing technologies compliant with Gaeas newly imposed limits. The stone-agers say there will eventually be no science at all, and never again: that our lives will henceforth and forever be indistinguishable from those of other primates: a bitterly ironic achievement of the ultimate Marxist goal of the final withering-away of the state. The back-to-the-19th Century people say science will be severely restricted -- that all of the research dependent on petroleum and petroleum byproducts (which includes nearly all modern medicine) will be terminated forever, and that what is left will be limited to expansions of earthly knowledge and improvements in organic agriculture, animal husbandry and external-combustion engines. (As an example of the latter, the worlds greatest railroads -- that is, railroads in the U.S. and Soviet Union -- were experimenting with steam-turbine propulsion when the process was artificially halted by the sudden adoption of diesel/electric locomotion during the 1950s and 1960s. Steam turbines are extremely efficient, and external-combustion engines can be powered by virtually anything: coal, wood, sawdust, wheat chaff, corn cobs, even garbage. Turbine development would thus probably begin anew -- that is, if the earlier results are not lost, as in some instances they already are.)

There is also another end-of-science scenario, an unspeakably horribly possibility complete with the screams and moans of accused adulteresses dying under hails of punitively hurled stones and the agonized shrieks and nauseating scent of witches and heretics burned alive: ultimate conquest by the forces of capitalisms ongoing and thus far entirely successful campaign to impose global theocracy -- Christian in the West, Muslim in the East -- the resurrected strategy by which the ruling class hopes to ensure the permanent enslavement of the working class. This is not hyperbole: imposition of theocracy is obviously the unspoken and unifying purpose behind Bush Regime policy, whether domestic or abroad. If it succeeds, the grotesques of the Inquisition will again become everyday reality; not only the death of science (save as applied to perfecting the means of oppression) but the end of knowledge itself, with all learning murderously tabooed. If this happens -- if it is allowed to happen -- the resultant Dark Age will endure forever, with individual human consciousness perpetually shrunken by torture and our species' only hope eternally limited to the release finally granted by extinction.

But even if history follows the most optimistic scenario, the results will be unimaginably grim. And unlike the successful society exemplified in the link above (which was always an agrarian nation and therefore never too far from the requisite knowledge base) -- much of the industrialized world (and especially the United States) has become so hopelessly dependent on petroleum-derived technology (and therefore so hopelessly divorced from the knowledge essential to post-apocalyptic survival) that its ignorance can only be fatal. A few more days in the New Orleans Convention Center and everyone there would have been dead -- with the ruling class no doubt using its soldiers, goons and death squads to ensure no one escaped to tell the tale. And even extensive survival experience is no defense: I myself know how to live off the land indefinitely, not to mention possessing a variety of vital rural skills including organic gardening, trapping, hunting, etc., but I would probably never escape the savage lawlessness to which even smaller U.S. cities typically descend in genuine crisis. Americans are methodically conditioned to fear collectivity and despise community -- this to further facilitate the disunity essential to exploitation in the workplace: thus the scene in the Convention Center. Unless the oligarchy can be again overthrown as it was in 1932, such is the true and unavoidable future of the whole United States.

Which finally brings us to the real issue implicit in Peak Oil: the distribution of the post-Peak-Oil resources and the remaining wealth so derived. Will the resources be shared, as they already are in the society described in the above link? Or will they be hoarded by a tiny ruling class to the murderous denial of everyone else? I am frankly terrified by the extent to which the latter intention -- and only the latter intention -- is increasingly obvious in outsourcing, downsizing, wage-reduction, pension-looting, destruction of the social safety net, re-imposition of indentured servitude, price-gouging and -- yes -- the methodical subversion of civil liberties and civil rights. Bush truly is American capitalism's ultimate achievement. Never before has this nation faced such an irrevocable choice -- and never before have the progressive elements in the U.S. body politic been so isolated, whether in the global sense (that is, in the total absence of overseas support) or in the context of our own society. Moreover, the calculated belittlement of Marx has been an especially cunning part of the process by which we have been marginalized. But only through Marx -- that is, only through recognition of class struggle -- can we understand what is being done to us and why: the fact I hope is now sufficiently obvious it will bring into sharp focus the direct relevance of all of the citations -- Lenin, Marx, Engels -- that precipitated our dialogue.

_________
Edit: tired-eyes typos.
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radio4progressives Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Mar-02-06 11:44 AM
Response to Reply #68
69. Another Amazing Essay, but also a Clarion Call to Action Now..
Unless the oligarchy can be again overthrown as it was in 1932, such is the true and unavoidable future of the whole United States.


This essay not only deserves a thread of it's own, but needs to be published - and widely distributed in print and on line.

The New Deal was, of course, immediately recognized by the ruling class as a peaceful pathway to the kind of egalitarian economy envisioned by Marx -- from each according to ability; to each according to need -- and as such, simply because it demanded a sharing of wealth, it was fiercely opposed from the very beginning, first by the thwarted fascist coup of 1934, next by subversion, finally by the assassinations of the 1960s: President John Fitzgerald Kennedy , Malcolm X, Martin Luther King Jr., Robert Kennedy. After a mere 36 years -- from Franklin Delano Roosevelts blessed victory in 1932 to the resurgence of American fascism signaled by Richard Milhous Nixons election in 1968 -- the New Deal and all its implicit promise was dead.

this is the kernel of historical truth which needs to be applied to the current political context, in terms of party platform principles, positions & alliances and choosing which candidates who possess at least a modicum of understanding of these issues (like John Edwards) and who is committed to restoring the New Deal principles..

I'm not at all confident that the party is as committed as Edwards which may be a factor as to why the Democratic Party Leaders refused to challenge the 2004 stolen election results.

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muriel_volestrangler Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Mar-03-06 07:27 AM
Response to Reply #68
76. Thanks for a comprehensive reply
Yes, I hadn't realised that one or two of your comments were intended as sarcasm, so I mistook them for simple slogans that I felt were misjudging me. I wasn't offended, but I did think you were being simplistic, and so I thought less of your arguments for that. Sorry about that.

I think your phrasing has tended to imply that all worker/employer relations are theft - the start of your analogy was, with my emphasis:

the ultimate goal of all personnel policies is the extraction of maximum productivity for minimum cost -- not "fair" cost or "living wage" but MINIMUM cost -- and minimum cost enforced by an entire system of laws, courts, goon squads and police all intended to hold the worker in the most abject and servile bondage possible: our work stolen by an economic system now ever-more-brazenly structured from top to bottom


I hope you can see how the expressions that cover all cases, and the use of superlatives, can be read as a message that all employment is this theft, even if that was not what you meant.

I disagree with your functional definition of the "fair wage" or "living wage"; I don't think the two mean the same thing anyway. "Living wage" does have to take into account needs, and varies with circumstances - a living wage for a single person is different from that for one who is responsible for children. "Fair" implies a value put on the usefulness of labour, and will vary in different ways - a fair wage for a 16 year old with no qualifications or experience is different from a worker with a lifetime of relevant knowledge and expertise they have worked hard over the years to acquire. But your definition is of something else - a "pacifying wage" perhaps. While it might be useful in some discussions, I don't think redefining existing terms helps.

I agree that the New Deal did a lot to improve the conditions of the average American; and that things have stagnated in the last 3 decades or so. The median household income, adjusted for inflation, has risen slightly in the last 20 years, though most of the rise was during the Clinton years, whether through coincidence or due to him, I'm not sure. That could be because of increasing hours of paid work, primarily amongst women, though. But I think the stagnation may have been inevitable - after World War 2, the USA, with its infrastructure intact, and large natural resources, did very well out of the global economy, but it was surely inevitable that other countries would eventually recover and/or develop, and this would mean US products would become less competitive. The rich have maintained their growth because capital moves easily between countries; but that doesn't mean that the USA could have continued to prosper so much if they had been forced to keep their money in the USA. They may have taken to the few lifeboats available, but that doesn't mean they holed the ship.

Moving on to technology, you say "when the cheap oil is gone, there will be nothing to replace it save reversions to earlier technologies". I disagree. There are advances in solar electrical generation happening, for instance http://www.int.iol.co.za/index.php?set_id=1&click_id=11... , and the generation of liquid fuels from waste or biological matter, that can play a significant part in future energy usage. Many things will have to change - I agree that air travel and personal cars may disappear, with bicycles and public transport replacing them (I'm not so convinced that animal power will make a big return - it's not that efficient really, when we have other uses for agricultural land than sustaining large animals).

Your talk of an inevitable "collapse of civilisation itself" means, to me, the "stone age" scenario, which I don't think will happen - we have technology, which is rarely lost completely, and we have ideas about democracy and law which don't automatically get lost. I'm glad you're more optimistic than that - I had got he wrong impression from your earlier posts that you did expect the "stone age" scenario. I also don't think that future development will be anywhere as restricted as you do - while we won't have large amounts of raw material in the form of petroleum, biological material will still be available, and engines won't be limited to external combustion - electrical ones, and internal combustion of plant-derived liquid fuels will still be possible and useful. We just can't expect to have a huge one available for our personal use.

I certainly don't think your fears of theocracy will come to pass - this may be because you live in the USA, while I live in Europe (though I did live in the northern USA for a couple of years, and didn't feel there was any chance of fundamentalists getting real power there either). I think those who do want increased religious rule are clinging to a past they find comforting, but that their ideas will be, somewhat ironically, out-evolved - at the same time, they don't take environmental concerns seriously, and they will be out-competed by those who do. Fundamentalism is dying in Europe, and the Abrahamic religions have left large parts of the world, like China, more or less unaffected. Other parts, like South America, may be Christian, but do not seem to be turning fundamentalist at all - they look more and more secular or moderate. I don't think theocracy is Bush's purpose; I think he uses religion as a tool for getting Republicans elected. His primary aim is wealth for himself and his class.

And that brings us back to Marx. While I think there are some rich people, like Bush, who look on the world as 'us' and 'them', I don't think that all people currently with wealth and power around the world see life that way, and that the vast majority of us are in a spectrum of 'current prosperity', rather than classes in an endless struggle. Not accepting what appears to be a central premise of Marx, I see him, and his successors, as theorists, some of whose ideas are still useful and applicable to the present day and the future, but not an indispensable guide to the fate of civilisation.
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newswolf56 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Mar-03-06 05:16 PM
Response to Reply #76
81. Thank you. A couple of points, maybe three or four:
Edited on Fri Mar-03-06 05:17 PM by newswolf56
(1)-My statement that "the ultimate goal of all personnel policies is the extraction of maximum productivity for minimum cost -- not "fair" cost or "living wage" but MINIMUM cost..." is in fact a statement of absolute truth: that (and nothing else) is indeed the purpose of the entire structure -- theory, doctrine, practice -- of what is variously called "personnel management" or "human resources management" or (with sublime reference to slavery and therefore ever more appropriate) "human capital management." Ask anyone who has ever attended business school (at Harvard or anywhere else) and they'll tell you the same thing -- though it will surely be cloaked in euphemisms to disguise the exploitative savagery at its core. I know this three ways: (A)-because in my real-world identity I sometimes write for the business press (and have done so for many many years); (B)-because an idealistic friend sought a major-university MBA several years ago (when capitalism's exploitative intent was still minimized, and its bottomless contempt for workers kept locked in the closet), and was so utterly appalled by what she learned, it turned her from a moderate Liberal to what I suppose might be called a neo-Marxist: class-struggle resolved by constitutional means (in other words, resurrection of the New Deal); and (C) because I have witnessed it firsthand in my own field, where -- at least from the perspective of the newsroom -- the worst aspects of media-monopolization are concentrated in the imposition of corporate personnel office policies on the hiring of reporters, photographers and editors. Newspaper editors formerly hired their own personnel, but all such applicants are now pre-screened as "human capital," intrusively tested to ensure they will be like all other Big Business employees: instinctively conformist (thus the ever worsening herd mentality of American journalism); maliciously competitive to the point of reverting easily to back-stabbing, brown-nosing and ratting out rivals real or imaginary (thus the total disappearance of the solidarity that characterized even non-union newsrooms); malevolently anti-union (note that in the past two decades more than half of America's formerly unionized newsrooms have been forcibly de-certified); and above all utterly, unquestioningly obedient to their corporate masters (thus the ultimate perversion of American journalism into nothing more than bread and circuses or a Josef Goebbels mouthpiece for the ruling class). I don't know about England and the European mainland or even Canada, but in the United States, what I described above is absolute unvarying truth everywhere, even in the high-tech sector, where capitalism's core savagery is merely concealed by the field's inherent wealth. (Note in this latter context the outsourcing of tech-support jobs, which condemns the formerly employed Americans to a new poverty they can never again escape.)

(2)-My description of capitalism as "enforced by an entire system of laws, courts, goon squads and police all intended to hold the worker in the most abject and servile bondage possible..." is also absolute truth. The workers' rights granted during the New Deal by the Wagner Act and by Davis-Bacon no longer exist. As to "the most abject and servile bondage possible," look at the most recent West Virginia mine disaster: the victims' families were deliberately misinformed -- reassured all their kinfolk had survived. Why? To give the mine-owners time to bring in riot police -- helmeted, body-armored, face-masked riot police armed with assault rifles, fixed bayonets and gas grenades -- this to terrorize the families into compliant silence once the deaths were announced. If this is not "the most abject and servile bondage possible," I don't know what is; the only reason Cossacks were not loosed to beat the miners' kinfolk with saber-flats and knouts is that no Cossacks were available. Again, it may be different in Europe and the UK, but in any case I don't think outsiders even begin to understand just how bad it has gotten here in the U.S.

(3)-As to theocracy, I don't think anyone who has not lived in rural America can understand the horrific magnitude of the threat. In the South (where I spent two-thirds of my boyhood, a summer as a civil rights activist and the first half-dozen years of my journalism career), theocracy is increasingly real again today (and to one degree or another always has been): the colloquial name for the Ku Klux Klan is "the Saturday night men's Bible-study class." Christian fundamentalism provides all the shackles -- punitive and hallucinatory -- by which the South is held forever in racist, sexist, ignorance-loving fascist bondage and anti-union serfdom, a problem that today (after a blessed interregnum of about three decades) is every bit as oppressive (though not quite as back-of-the-bus obvious) as it was in the Jim Crow 1950s. And other parts of the country are just as bad. In the rural Pacific Northwest, Christian fundamentalists waged a violent, law-enforcement-protected "vigilante war" against communes and communards of the Back-to-the-Land Movement c. 1969-1975; typically, the only communes that survived were those that were armed. Moreover, Christian fundamentalist terrorism -- now tacitly encouraged by the Bush Administration -- continues to this day: in some parts of rural Washington state, also in the Dakotas, the mere possession of a black dog by someone who does not attend church will provoke accusations of "witch" and "witchcraft" and the inevitable plague of vandalism and even physical assault that follows. Here are five relevant links that viewed as a whole reveal Abrahamic religion's utterly terrifying global assault on freedom -- an assault without precedent in human history:

http://www.rasmussenreports.com/2005/Bible.htm

http://www.guardian.co.uk/usa/story/0,12271,1651333,00....

http://www.motherjones.com/toc/2005/12/index.html

http://www.yuricareport.com/Dominionism/DirectoryRiseOf...

http://www.guardian.co.uk/elsewhere/journalist/story/0,...

In the United States, the theocrats have already won: the deeper significance of the Alito appointment is that it gives the Christian Fundamentalists total control of the Supreme Court, which signals the end of church-state separation and therefore the end of American liberty, probably forever: history proves that once religious fanatics have achieved power, they can only be ousted by maximum force -- something patently impossible in the context of modern U.S. society. Thus once again the relevance of Marx: he and his conceptual descendants are the only humans who have ever dared address how the savagery inherent in Abrahamic religion is expressed in economics (capitalism) and politics (fascism), and how that religion is then used to opiate and discipline the masses into total submission.

As to the technological developments you cite above, I am aware of all of them. But solar power is accessible only to the very wealthy -- the cost of equipping the average-size American house with solar power ranges from $60,000 to $100,000 -- and the imposition of theocracy (with its inherent division of society into two classes, "god's selectmen" (the ruling class) and "the damned" (all the rest of us) guarantees the price of solar generation panels or any other such technology will never come down. Just as -- even if by some (pagan) magic the price were to come down -- the ongoing and ever more radical reduction of working-class income will guarantees it will remain forever out of reach. That is, if such "heretical" science is even tolerated. Once again -- and with all due respect -- I don't think you have a clue how bad things here have become: the aftermath of Katrina really is a portrait of America's future.

I hope it is clear I believe our differences are ultimately a matter of perspective: British domestic politics have in the main been increasingly civilized the further British society has gotten from the theocratic horrors unleashed by the religious fanatic Cromwell, while despite the Jeffersonian effort to maintain a secular state, religious fanaticism has always simmered beneath U.S. politics, once for the good (the Abolitionist Movement), but on every other occasion for the bad-to-worse (witch persecutions, slavery, segregation, prohibition, the anti-evolution movement, the anti-abortion movement, the extra-legal renewal of witch persecutions to counter the resurrection of the goddess and her newly emergent spiritualities, etc.). Now -- funded by global Big Business -- that fanaticism has boiled over, and with the Alito appointment I fear it has triumphed.

_________
Edit: bad headline.
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Just Me Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Mar-03-06 05:29 PM
Response to Reply #68
82. Um,...you are one of those "brilliant" posters that knock me,...
,...on my ass!!!

:yourock:
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omega minimo Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Feb-28-06 12:41 AM
Response to Original message
6. The tiny elite must obliquely admit themselves by wearing top hats
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specimenfred1984 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Feb-28-06 12:51 AM
Response to Original message
7. Capitalism, Like any "ism" Fails Without Law
It's that easy. If the laws aren't enforced, if deregulation occurs, the white collar criminals always win.

People cheat, lie, steal, loot, collude etc...in all societies. If the society stops holding them accountable, bye-bye society.
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newswolf56 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Feb-28-06 02:58 AM
Response to Reply #7
13. This is a profound statement of historical truth:
"If the society stops holding them accountable, bye-bye society."

Note in this context the fate of executives whose corruption kills people, whether in the former USSR or yet today in China: they are "given their nine grams" as the old saying has it: shot dead. Thus the end of the managers at Chernobyl and at the Chinese mine complex that recently caved in due to willful safety violations by management. Contrast this to the penalties exacted for identical crimes in the U.S. or anywhere else in the capitalist world, e.g. at Bhopal: effectively nothing, fines, maybe short jail sentences. The differences so symbolized are indicative on every level including the semiotic.
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rinsd Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Feb-28-06 01:12 PM
Response to Reply #13
34. "Note in this context the fate of executives whose corruption kills people
Also note with a big fat caveat that this occurs only when there is national embarrassment.


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HughBeaumont Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Feb-28-06 05:36 AM
Response to Reply #7
16. Damn skippy. And we don't have "capitalism" because of that reason -
We now have "unbridled corporatism", which is nothing more than neo-Feudalism. And why? Deregulation and Bewsh enabling the looting of the middle and lower classes by the ultra-rich via tax breaks and loopholes, thus discouraging free enterprise.

Corporate Republicans: Shitting on the Little Guy and Winning Hand over Fist since 1963.
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rman Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Feb-28-06 09:40 AM
Response to Reply #7
27. "darwinism" will fail without the law? - anything can be labeled to be
an "ism".
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stepnw1f Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Feb-28-06 04:14 PM
Response to Reply #7
41. Can't the Same be Applied to Communism Too?
Marx never said a serfdom such as old Russia was even ready for such a leap.
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leftofthedial Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Feb-28-06 01:51 AM
Response to Original message
11. ding ding ding
bottom line
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unblock Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Feb-28-06 06:45 AM
Response to Original message
17. i don't see that krugman is the one blaming "capitalism"
nevermind that what we have isn't exactly "capitalism".

much of the dramatic increase in income inequality can be traced to government corruption, cronyism, unfair tax policies, corporate welfare, our particular approach to globalization, lax enforcement of regulations, etc.

none of this is a necessary consequence of capitalism, but rather is a function of the current banana republican vision of "corporations gone wild".
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BlueEyedSon Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Feb-28-06 07:49 AM
Response to Reply #17
19. Ditto. It's corruption, etc as unblock noted.
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WinkyDink Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Feb-28-06 07:59 AM
Response to Original message
21. Sorry, but I'm no economic genius and I knew this.
Edited on Tue Feb-28-06 08:00 AM by WinkyDink
We're not creating anything; we're ruining the environment irrevocably in order to get finite fuel to pollute the air, water, and land; we're factory-farming and -fishing to deplete the soil and despoil the seas; we're in debt to foreign nations; we're waging illegal and evil wars to grab more fuel; we're enslaving millions around the world in lives of desperation on lands we've degraded through corporate thuggery; health-care costs are killing the grandparents of the dead soldiers in Iraq; small-businesses fail while large stores merge and disappear (K-Mart's, Strawbridge's,etc.) after major industries have died all together.
And so millions here flock to mega-churches not to hear about the wages of sin, but to hear how God wants their wages to increase ten-fold. And to delude themselves that somehow their souls are saved.

Sick, sick, sick, in any way one cares to measure.
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400Years Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Feb-28-06 09:27 AM
Response to Original message
25. kicked
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PATRICK Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Feb-28-06 09:34 AM
Response to Original message
26. America and Capitalism
Any nation especially having reached peak greatness which has been wearily expressed and in increasingly foreshortened doomed gambits by the overreach of Empire, can go from a losing streak to the near permanent cellar. The optimistic thoughts and feelings, reliance on traditions of luck, pluck and winning
attitudes, our freedoms and resources, yadayada, do not produce even those ephemeral things by simple evocation, simple faith. The disconnect, the laziness, the mistake can yawn as great as the looming crises created by nation state gravity. Or perversely, the loss of faith in "America" except by the idiot class and the statist aparatchiks or its further hypocritical perversion can make it a driving force straight to the bottom in and of its own lies. then the time of decadence really sets in where even nostalgia loses its bearing, nothing seems to work or be retrievable and the myth only works- as myth- for some other barbarian idiot down the line.

As to the future, who knows? The same goes for capitalism, on a pyramid scam collision course with human extinction. The easy scenario of its demise is simply going totally bust, globally. Then in fractured pieces along with barter, black markets and other ingenuities something might arise back out of chaos.
The difficult scenario is one harbored by social idealists, that some whole cloth alternative fashioned out of ideals devoid of religious drive or Mammon can get everyone to totally cooperate in changing their lives. The fact that Marxist socialism seems analogous to a heresy from the main creed or schismatic shows by its historical nature that its own purpose is to divide. even the class struggle meme misses the mark in that a select group of saints of greed and domination, not the entire wealthy class is directly responsible for everything going wrong from the top down. So much so that no one in their right minds thinks too hard about the the solution of the "benevolent dictator" as a direct over reaction to tyranny and not holding the highest more highly accountable.

The evolution of society and economy would be better to see in its long trajectory and those developments that have sifted down into the mess we have today. In barter one exchanges what one thinks of worth with what someone else has that you need. Right away you have all the problems of "capitalism"
without the order that money system can gloss over and drive to higher and higher trades, productions and super systems. The personal headaches are mostly removed, except in horse and car trading, one of our lingering unfathomable relics of the barter age. When things get so bad in any system, a reaction creates a sort of progress- and it isn't always a unified social awakening that leads to Utopian efforts. Capitalism without civil regulation- which is enthusiastically being seized by the leaders of havoc defeats all of its benefits to mankind, however it benefits a few in the short term. Because with disorder you go back to primitive forms of direct economy, the levels of higher participation disintegrate. Things might stabilize but it appears greed is driving its end into the ground along with tall the strengths of the superstructure.

Our nation's founder did not propose anarchy, let go the polar ideas of confederation and kingship, feared corporate entities rivaling civil order, and imposed checks and balances upon itself in the fond hope, short-lived, that there would be no fractious rise of parties. Its failings and glories and wisdom aside, there has to be dominance of public input and participation in civil government which looks at the lives and the products of those lives and their needs and plans as THE reality which cannot be madly replaced by the abstract convenience of a capitalistic economic system. The latter is only a system, its power in abstracts and deference to its rules no society voted for or regulated from A to Z- as it should ideally have. There are plenty of abstractions to go around. Would that the wealthy enjoyed their overabundance at least to the point of gratifying themselves and leaving the rest of the world alone- or become somewhat enlightened so that some of their treasure could be pried loose to silly applause of servile gratitude.

Those interested in a participatory economy and the total life and culture changes that somehow just happen because the Messianic Age of BrohterSisterHood breaks out all over without too much heavy handed guidance by people no one likes any better than the Montgomery Burnses of the world, those people say it can't be politics because of the totalitarian embarrassments of past failures. But the answer is in politics and in reality and letting things happen if you really really are going to let all this messy human race become more involved in redoing the dead behemoth of economy.

The age of trade began in the super order of peaceful empires at their peak and then grew into their own super order in the ruins, cobbling together governments and networks based on trade alone. The pendulum swings between trade and empire are two facets of one outdated religion and other heresies, rivals, and complications have not improved the situation. Barter stills goes on but probably cannot sustain the technology we now need to survive the world created thus, just as the primitives once adapted to a system of barter would disintegrate because they no longer had self-sustainable units independent of reliance on each other.

If the entire system IS to be changed, then tackling the biggest myth, the eternal selfishness of man, is the best place to go. When real compassion- not in words alone- is the prize beyond all others the transformative progress will take place. Gandhi is a first step. People on dire need sometimes suddenly discover "God" and the value of compassion. The border guard you wanted to be cruel and tough and ruthless in enforcement is not the guard you will look for when you yourself are fleeing for your life.
Suddenly you become very good at tossing fear and hate and discipline aside and notice the eyes of the the compassionate guard that give you hope. To turn the corrupt values upside down is even given lipservice to by fraudulent "compassionate conservatives" so they know what people truly prize.

So before people start tearing each other apart, lead and unite in compassion, making a pint of giving away everything and serving all. That is leadership. participation is in valuing and supporting and emulating that leadership as much as possible and making it culture pervasive- something which "mainstream" religions have failed to do settling in their lost ideals into closets and niches along the capitalist settled shore. So it all comes to that before the yearned for happens. There will still be selfishness and greed and inequity and non participation, but an end to its negative dominion, and slow diminution of all its powers to corrupt and slaughter.

There are countless ways to do that that are being done by small remnants and good people everywhere. And systems and models will arise too that seek these ends, who knows? The dialectic of compassion versus destructive selfishness(and inevitably worse) is the real question and in the globalization of world consciousness the yearning and the plurality is definitely there not just in theory or faith. A poor man can have superior education to a super rich elite as well as moral superiority. We don't need to surrender to monied elites as once in the past though we cling to the excuse that it takes a lot of money for a high office campaign. Pitiful when you put that in retrospect to people frustrated by the closed privileged circles in the past. The dialectics between capitalism and reformers or remakers is the hopeless gnawing on old bones, often lost in the trap of manmade abstractions to which man in circular dreams of little godhood places his real faith in mammon.

The Democrats could take the politics of compassion seriously. But then we wouldn't have been in Iraq without them laying in front of the tanks and not a breath would have passed without a defense of all those things so lightly surrendered, all those citizens betrayed, voters disenfranchised, unprotected, victimize d beyond help by natural disasters etc. It seems many of our good leaders are trying to tell us we are all THAT deficient in compassion and if we should force them to hear us otherwise they would hesitantly follow our demands. Maybe. If not politics or a commune experience set apart with networking like to like, what? A book? A trend? A teacher or an institute? A new religion, God forbid?

There are many things that need to be done that are being aggravated instead and many values likewise opposed by a few who simply should be disregarded. The grassroots should be doing just that as much as they can to flesh out the politics of compassion and change. Or who would a would be hero lead even if the right way and example was set?
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blindpig Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Feb-28-06 11:51 AM
Response to Original message
29. k&r
:applause: :applause: :applause:
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radio4progressives Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Feb-28-06 12:44 PM
Response to Original message
30. k&r
:kick:
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eallen Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Feb-28-06 01:03 PM
Response to Original message
31. Capitalism will continue creating wealth long after oil energy....
Wealth is not a form of energy, and instead is created by every improvement in process, technology, and design. Value is not measured in joules, nor by how much labor went into a product or service.

The biggest problem facing America right now is the dominance of the GOP. The Democratic Party is the only cure for that. One of the problems facing the Democratic Party is the perception of many independent voters that it is anti-capitalist, that voting Democrat is the same as voting socialist. That's why I will continually point out that the vast majority of Democrats are too sensible to swallow what you're peddling.

:hippie:
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omega minimo Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Feb-28-06 08:06 PM
Response to Reply #31
46. Without an artificially limited view of "energy" this post make no sense
"Wealth is not a form of energy, and instead is created by every improvement in process, technology, and design. Value is not measured in joules, nor by how much labor went into a product or service."
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radio4progressives Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Feb-28-06 08:50 PM
Response to Reply #31
53. wealth will be created by capitalist for themselves, but what's that got
to do with the price of tea in china?

we're talking about the impact that run amok capitalism has on those that do not profit - we're talking about the workers, and everyone else who are not the stock holders. that's the rest of society, outside of the boardrooms, executive suites, and wall street.


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eallen Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Feb-28-06 10:14 PM
Response to Reply #53
61. There are choices other than "run amok" capitalism and socialism.
I'm not a market fundamentalist, who believes that whatever result some idealized market produces is therefore the right one. But I am a realist who recognizes that capitalism is the economic system that has produced the vast wealth of the modern world. There is a reason every well-functioning economy from Sweden to Taiwan has capitalism as its basis, and that socialists when asked to point to a socialist economy that works, instead point to capitalist economies, like Sweden, whose governments implement various social programs funded from the wealth so produced. It's one thing to talk about what constraints should be placed on a capitalist economy, and what public functions should be funded from it. It's something entirely different to talk about eliminating capitalism.
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Tierra_y_Libertad Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Feb-28-06 01:06 PM
Response to Original message
32. Capitalism is good..for the capitalists.
Unfortunately, for the lesser folk (aka - the working class), it's not so hot.
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radio4progressives Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Feb-28-06 01:07 PM
Response to Original message
33. The Global Class War - How America's Bipartisan Elite Lost Our Future
Jeff Faux is on the road hawking his book The Global Class War , and one his talks was broadcast on C-Span's Book Notes over the past weekend.
I'm unable at the moment to summarize the over all analysis of his talk, but i think the title of the book should give some indication.. it was an excellent talk, very critical of both political parties in this country, very critical of the policies of NAFTA and Neo Colonial policies that we as a nation agressively engage in.

I posted a thread which was apparently seen as a provactive flame bait, which it was not intended - but never the less and unfortunately i allowed myself to get sucked into a flame war. I think working class people know all too well that we are all deeply oppressed by our nation's economic policies and so the struggle for me is not so much to make that point but to identify the oppressive policies implemented and who the makers and supporters of such policies. And I think you do that in your OP and appreciate very much another opportunity to once again inform readers of this book, and to remind people of another book called "Confessions of an Economic Hit Man" - very much related.

http://www.democraticunderground.com/discuss/duboard.ph...

The Global Class War by Jeff Faux
How America's Bipartisan Elite Lost Our Futureand What It Will Take to Win It Back

http://www.epi.org/content.cfm/books_global_class_war





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Just Me Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Feb-28-06 01:24 PM
Response to Original message
35. That second paragraph proves that capitalism, alone, guarantees,....
Edited on Tue Feb-28-06 01:49 PM by Just Me
,...inequality and even insufficiency and slower growth.

A new research paper by Ian Dew-Becker and Robert Gordon of Northwestern University, "Where Did the Productivity Growth Go?," gives the details. Between 1972 and 2001 the wage and salary income of Americans at the 90th percentile of the income distribution rose only 34 percent, or about 1 percent per yearBut income at the 99th percentile rose 87 percent; income at the 99.9th percentile rose 181 percent; and income at the 99.99th percentile rose 497 percent. No, that's not a misprint

We need to figure a new economic structure that incorporates all the best from several theories. However, those at the top are not going to volunteer to equalize the playing field or expand opportunity. They have, bit by bit, torn down or leaped through laws created to address economic exploitation. Without those laws, we are back to a robber-baron-driven society which can hardly be characterized as "democratic".

I view this problem as an economic justice issue rather than "class warfare".
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radio4progressives Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Feb-28-06 01:41 PM
Response to Reply #35
37. Amen to Economic Justice..
And of course, it is the central issue, but not in absence of a class struggle analysis, imo.
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lovuian Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Feb-28-06 01:54 PM
Response to Original message
38. A balance between Socialism and Capitalism but alone
neither can survive!!!
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Javaman Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Feb-28-06 04:07 PM
Response to Original message
39. Watch "the corporation" and listen to Norm Chomsky....
it spells it out quite clearly. Until corps are reigned in we as a nation, as a world are fucked.
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radio4progressives Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Feb-28-06 08:52 PM
Response to Reply #39
56. excellent film...
:applause:
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stepnw1f Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Feb-28-06 04:15 PM
Response to Original message
42. Don't Know a Hell of a Lot
but Socialism and Capitalism appears to be a good balance. Oh wait... we had something like that when Clinton was still in office.
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radio4progressives Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Feb-28-06 08:56 PM
Response to Reply #42
57. uhh... nope we didn't have anything of the sort in the 90's.
family leave act is the only socially progressive policy i can think of at the moment... was there something else I'm forgetting?
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stepnw1f Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Mar-01-06 08:08 AM
Response to Reply #57
66. There are no other Social Programs
you would consider part of "socialism"?
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radio4progressives Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Mar-02-06 11:49 AM
Response to Reply #66
70. Perhaps memory fails, please remind me of social programs other than
Family Leave Act and Ameri Corp, that Clinton implemented.

Welfore reform was devastating to millions of households and created more poverty and homelessness hungry children.. perhaps there were some things that missed my radar - i'm happy to acknowledge that possibiliy,
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RazzleDazzle Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Feb-28-06 05:55 PM
Response to Original message
44. Oh, I think Marx has ALWAYS been relevent -- which is exactly why
Edited on Tue Feb-28-06 05:57 PM by RazzleDazzle
he's always been so demonized.

Really good post, btw.
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radio4progressives Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Feb-28-06 08:51 PM
Response to Reply #44
54. exactly so..
:applause:
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Jade Fox Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Feb-28-06 08:25 PM
Response to Original message
47. This is the elephant in the living room....
Edited on Tue Feb-28-06 08:43 PM by Jade Fox
that no one talks about, because criticizing Capitalism is likely to get you called a Commie or worse by a bunch of jerks who haven't got a clue as to what Communism (or Capitalism) is.

One of the things that even fewer people talk about these days is the toll Capitalism takes on our lives as human beings. "Work, Buy, Consume, Die" is really no way to live. Sure, it beats starving to death in some third world shit-hole (many,if not most, of which have been turned into shit-holes by Capitalist exploitation). But as long as our society revolves around the market, we are doomed to unhappiness.

Here's a quote from a great anti-Capitalist social critic, the late Christopher Lasch:

Individuals cannot learn to speak for themselves at all, much less come to an intelligent understanding of their happiness and wellbeing, in a world in which there are no values except those of the market. . . . the market tends to universalize itself. It does not easily coexist with institutions that operate according to principles that are antithetical to itself: schools and universities, newspapers and magazines, charities, families. Sooner or later the market tends to absorb them all. It puts an almost irresistible pressure on every activity to justify itself in the only terms it recognizes: to become a business proposition, to pay its own way, to show black ink on the bottom line. It turns news into entertainment, scholarship into professional careerism, social work into the scientific management of poverty. Inexorably it remodels every institution in its own image.


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omega minimo Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Feb-28-06 08:45 PM
Response to Reply #47
52. ....and it turns citizens into consumers
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radio4progressives Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Feb-28-06 08:52 PM
Response to Reply #52
55. and notice how we the people are no longer referred to as citizens?
we are always referred to as "consummers"?
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omega minimo Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Feb-28-06 09:03 PM
Response to Reply #55
58. That's what I said
:eyes: :hi: ...playing off the excellent quote in #47 :thumbsup:
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Jade Fox Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Feb-28-06 11:51 PM
Response to Reply #52
63. More Christopher Lasch.....
Edited on Wed Mar-01-06 12:22 AM by Jade Fox
This guy was so good. This was written in 1987. Though Lasch was writing this during Reagan's heyday, it's interesting that Bush has taken on the same phony cowboy image Reagan had, an image Lasch addresses here specifically:


Not only do conservatives have no understanding of modern capitalism, they have a distorted understanding of the traditional values they claim to defend. The virtues they want to revive are the pioneer virtues: rugged individualism, boosterism, rapacity, a sentimental deference to women, and a willingness to resort to force. These values are traditional only in the sense that they are celebrated in the traditional myth of the Wild West and embodied in the Western hero, the prototypical American lurking in the background, often in the very foreground, of conservative ideology. In their implications and inner meaning, these individualist values are themselves profoundly anti-traditional. They are the values of the man on the make, in flight from his ancestors, from the family claim, from everything that ties him down and limits his freedom of movement. What is traditional about the rejection of tradition, continuity, and rootedness? A conservatism that sides with the forces of restless mobility is a false conservatism. So is the conservatism false that puts on a smiling face, denounces doom sayers, and refuses to worry about the future. Conservatism appeals to a pervasive and legitimate desire in contemporary society for order, continuity, responsibility, and discipline; but it contains nothing with which to satisfy these desires, It pays lip service to traditional values, but the policies with which it is associated promise more change more innovation more growth, more technology, more weapons, more addictive drugs. Instead of confronting the forces in modern life that make for disorder, it proposes merely to make Americans feel good about themselves. Ostensibly rigorous and realistic, contemporary conservatism is an ideology of denial. Its slogan is the slogan of Alfred E. Neumann: What? Me worry? Its symbol is a smile button: that empty round face devoid of features except for two tiny eyes, eyes too small to see anything clearly, and a big smile: the smile of someone who is determined to keep smiling through thick and thin.

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omega minimo Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Mar-01-06 12:09 AM
Response to Reply #63
64. It's Year 26 of the Reagan Era
"Instead of confronting the forces in modern life that make for disorder, it proposes merely to make Americans feel good about themselves."

Yep, those are the Americans who vote for President based on Who They'd Like To Have A Beer With.

Thanks fer the reference :hi:
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radio4progressives Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Mar-02-06 12:14 PM
Response to Reply #64
71. Reaganomics year 26...
is over a quarter of a century... that's entire generation who have no idea of life before these bastards.
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tlsmith1963 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Feb-28-06 08:29 PM
Response to Original message
48. I Predict...
...that if this keeps up, communism is going to come roaring back. Latin America is all ready headed in that direction. So if the conservatives hate communism so much, they are doing a bad job of trying to keep it in check. The more people you disenfranchise, the more you drive them to things like communism. Where else are they going to go? It's not like capitalism does much for average people these days.

Tammy
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radio4progressives Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Feb-28-06 08:44 PM
Response to Reply #48
51. True.. But lest We the People, demand US Cease & Desist Threats to S.A.
their experiment is threatened quite literally by United States arrogance of Geo-political & Supremacy and Military Domination.

According to his egregious remarks and comments this morning, Democratic Senator Bill Nelson of Florida asserted that we have ships off the coast of Venezuela, in order to prevent Venezuela's importing of defensive military weaponry and machinery, any soverign nation has a right to have, particulary has a duty to it's people and it's country when under threat of invasion, which the United States is doing right now.

So as we rightfully mourn and voice our collective oppostion to the horrid and illegal invasion and occupation of Iraq, so we must stop United States policies of agression against Hugo Chavez and Venezuela.

It is simply a moral outrage that the liberals are not taking this issue more seriously, imo.
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cantstandbush Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Feb-28-06 09:19 PM
Response to Original message
59. So, when we "won the cold war" we actually lost? n/t
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KoKo Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Feb-28-06 09:25 PM
Response to Reply #59
60. yep....it disgused a multitude of ills left over from the Industrial
Revolution. America always resorts to wars to cover it's sins...or should I say our "Leaders" always resort to war to cover a multitude of sins.

Gore Vidal has been saying this for decades. He was too cynical for me when I was younger. Sadly, these days, I see he spoke the truth.

Howard Zinn/Gore Vidal...and others. One doesn't need to go back to Marx...there's alot more reading that's current without the "taint."
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unkachuck Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Feb-28-06 11:36 PM
Response to Original message
62. thank you....n/t
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radio4progressives Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Mar-02-06 01:42 PM
Response to Original message
72. k&r
:kick:
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truedelphi Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Mar-03-06 03:54 PM
Response to Reply #72
78. Great quote And who the heck is K & R??
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BeTheChange Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Mar-03-06 05:11 PM
Response to Reply #78
79. K & R = Kicked and Recommended.
;)
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mom cat Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Mar-02-06 07:43 PM
Response to Original message
73. This is undoubtedly one of the best discussions I have seen on DU!
Thanks Newswolf for your insightful presentation. :smoke:
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omega minimo Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Mar-02-06 11:44 PM
Response to Reply #73
75. let's kick it
:bounce: :bounce: :bounce: :bounce: :bounce: :bounce: :bounce: :bounce: :bounce:



(hi mom cat :hug: )
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mom cat Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Mar-03-06 03:36 PM
Response to Reply #75
77. A great big hug to you too!
:hug:
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radio4progressives Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Mar-02-06 08:29 PM
Response to Original message
74. k&r must read
excellent post :kick:
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BeTheChange Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Mar-03-06 05:14 PM
Response to Original message
80. What took him so long?
Seems like common sense to me and a horrible ignorance of history.

There are only a couple of ways the current path we are on as a nation ends.

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