Category Archives: Working Class

May Day is International ‘Thank a Worker’ Day

“As far as I’m concerned, those people don’t exist.”

— Arizona Republican Governor Jack Williams, telling farm workers they’d be arrested if they were to strike and boycott during harvest seasons (May 1972).

For Migrant Workers, Still the Harvest and the Shame - The Atlantic

May Day harkens back to celebrations of spring, a renewal and fertility. In Rome, I witnessed one such event: the festival of Floralia, where people wear colorful clothes and were pelted with beans and flowers (fertility symbols).

Floralia - Celebrating the Goddess of Spring — Celebrate Pagan Holidays

I was in Edinburgh and celebrated their May Day around a bonfire: The Celts welcomed spring during Beltane by lighting bonfires or the ‘fire of Belt.’ My partner and I even danced around a Maypole and watched the crowning of a May Queen.

However, my most meaningful celebrations for May Day tie into my family’s union roots. This day is about workers’ rights, which should be embedded in everyone’s blood in this country, post-COVID and with the growing gap between those who have and those who do not.

I’ve worked with Portland warehouse workers as their case manager, and many of them I met were either in mini-vans or broken down RVs. These are workers toiling 10 or 12-hour shifts. Some had two jobs just to make ends meet, sleeping in vehicles.

Going back 170 years, the eight-hour work day movement fanned across the world, aiming to reduce the working day from 10 to eight hours. In 1886, the first congress of the American Federation of Labor called for a general strike on May 1 to demand an eight-hour day, which culminated in what is known today as the Haymarket Riot.

On May 3, 1886, one person was killed and several others injured as police intervened to protect strikebreakers and intimidate strikers during a union action at the Chicago McCormick Harvesting Machine Company. It was part of a national campaign to secure an eight-hour workday. Then, a day later, anarchist labor leaders called a mass meeting in Haymarket Square to protest police brutality.

It was a peaceful gathering, even by Chicago Mayor Carter Harrison’s observation. But after Harrison and most of the demonstrators departed, a large group of police arrived and demanded that the crowd disperse. A bomb was thrown by an individual — never positively identified — and police responded with random gunfire. Seven police officers were killed and 60 others wounded before the violence ended; civilian casualties have been estimated at four to eight dead and 30 to 40 injured.

See the source image

Employers regained control of workers, and 10 or more hour workdays became the norm again.

My May Day March participation includes Tucson, El Paso, Mexico City, Spokane, Seattle, Portland. I’ve marched with day laborers in Oregon demanding higher hourly pay, and I’ve marched with nuns, priests and other clergy in El Paso demanding worker rights for immigrant farm workers.

May Day for me is about that American sacred right to protest, right to free speech, and the right to gather and call out the powerful, the elite, the bosses.

Of course, I was always aware of heavy police presence, always aware of the negative mainstream media coverage.

May Day protests turn violent in downtown Seattle

Today, as Starbucks and Amazon workers are voting for unionization, many Americans are oblivious to the degradation of the workplace and the lack of real opportunities for young people to find gainful, sustainable and worthy employment.

Young and old — many with college degrees, and many with huge student loan debts — are finding a collective voice in setting up unions in order to demand fair wages, safe work environments and an end to the boss lording over their lives.

When I was an organizer for the Service Employees International Union, Local 925-Seattle, my work was around adjunct faculty. I had been a freeway flyer. I worked in Washington, Texas and Oregon as a part-time faculty. Low wages, countless hours of unpaid work (I was an English faculty so essays and tons of other writing assignments I took home for weekend reading/commenting/grading blitzes), no benefits and no guarantee of work semester to semester resonated with me.

I always saw myself as a worker, not as some professor or multiple college degreed highfalutin elite. Part of my work was with students of migrant farm worker parents, as well as organizing service workers — CNAs and others laboring as caregivers.

We Fought and We Won for Seniors, People with Disabilities, and their Caregivers | by SEIU Local 2015 | Medium

Many of my union brothers and sisters were from Somalia, Eritrea and Mexico. Working for pay on 24-hour shifts, these amazing immigrants were both first and last line of defense for aging and dying-in-place clients.

I talked to one terminal white woman, Gloria, who was in a foster care facility at the tune of $4,600 a month. She told me that her main caregiver, Mehret from Eritrea, not only bathed, fed and took her to doctor’s appointments, but Mehret celebrated Gloria’s birthday with her own Eritrean family, and even had Gloria come to her extended family’s gatherings.

“I will die with Mehret by my side. My own children haven’t seen me in a year. They pay for this care, but have no interest in an old cranky dying mother. Mehret is my only friend, my only family.”

Mehret got $12 an hour, and she had to pass dozens of classes to keep up her credentials. Many of Mehret’s family members were harassed by Seattle police and other law enforcement agencies for “driving while black.”

We need more labor history, more media coverage of workers, and more Americans pushing for the 8-8-8 day: eight hours of work, eight hours with family/community, eight hours of sleep.

If you haven’t already read the book, then check out Dr. Rupa Marya and Raj Patel’s Inflamed: Deep Medicine and the Anatomy of Injustice.

It’s all about how Americans are working themselves to death. Literally. Unions can stop that. Happy May 1!

++Note: Appeared first in Newport News Times, April 29, 2022!++

And a side note — try and catch Johnny Depp (yes, that fool) in the movie, Minimata, about Chisso factory and the mercury poisoning of Japanese, young and old and fetuses.

See the source image

At the end of the flick, you get a short run down of the industrial “accidents” that killed thousand immediately and then many others through time.

Fifty years after American photographer W. Eugene Smith first arrived in the Japanese port town of Minamata, the fight for recognition and compensation still continues, for scores of people poisoned by mercury dumped into the bay by a local factory.

Aileen Mioko Smith, Eugene’s Japanese-American wife and collaborator, hopes that the September screening of the film Minamata will once again shine a light on the case, which was one of the worst industrial pollution disasters in Japanese history.

Nearly half a century later, victims of the mercury poisoning are still trying to obtain full restitution from the national government, although 2,265 people, 1,784 of whom died, have been formally recognized as victims of the disease. In 2004, Chisso also paid compensation totalling $86 million (€70.7 million).

“There are 10 ongoing lawsuits against the prefectural government in Kumamoto and the national government,” said Smith. “These are people who were toddlers 50 years ago when they were exposed to this pollution. They have gone through the lower courts and some of these cases are now before the Supreme Court, but I do not think we will have a final decision before the end of this year.”

“The government has always refused to carry out a full epidemiological study of the impact of the poisoning, and that can only be because they do not want to know,” Smith added. “So these are people who have lived with this their whole lives, and they are still fighting.” (Source)

Here we go, more disasters of capitalism. Who pays the price? Workers, and those living around or near those facilities, or sometimes, those living and working thousands of miles away:

Bhopal memorial for those killed and disabled by the 1984 toxic gas release. (Credit: Luca Frediani)

Bhopal

An abandoned school in Pripyat, Ukraine

Chernobyl

Dark clouds of smoke and fire emerge as oil burns during a controlled fire in the Gulf of Mexico. (Credit: Public Domain)

BP Oil Spill, Gulf of Mexico

weather, london

1952 London Great Fog

A dust storm approaches Stratford, Texas in April, 1935. (Credt: NOAA/MCT/MCT/Getty Images)

Dust Bowl 1920s-’30s, USA

For more on the “films” depicting corporate wrong-doing, go to the book, Corporate Wrongdoing on Film: The ‘Public Be Damned’ by Kenneth Dowler, Daniel Antonowicz

Fukushima, anyone?

Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Disaster – Jennifer Straka

And the workers helping release those millions of gallons of radioactive water? How will they be treated? Consequences? And us, the global citizen? Did we vote on this?

In April, the Japanese government announced its formal decision that the treated water stored at the Fukushima Daiichi site will be discharged into the sea. Japan intends to start releasing the treated water around the Spring of 2023, and the entire operation could last for decades.

The post May Day is International ‘Thank a Worker’ Day first appeared on Dissident Voice.

How Different Classes in Russia Feel About Yankeedom, China and Europe: More Letters from Russia

Dear Barbara,

I hope that my email finds you and Bruce in good health and doing fine.

I will try to answer your interesting questions, please note that my answers are from my personal point of view, it is built on daily observations, readings, talking to different people, and even watching tv now and then, with no pretenses whatsoever.

How would you characterize the class structure in Russia in terms of upper class, upper-middle class, middle class, and working class?

The super-rich and oligarchs: This thin social layer is an entity by itself, it owns assets and shares in the big companies, banks and financial institutions. There is an uneasy peace between them and the government that regularly gathers them and “politely” reminds them of their social responsibilities and where their riches came from. They are at the present untouchable due to the fact that some of them are on boards of companies belonging to the state or near persons holding high positions in the government. That is when the political situation becomes corruptible.

The upper-middle class include the upper echelons of the government bureaucracy, the top management of companies, banks and financial institutions and people holding valuable assets (immovable and moveable). There is very little upward movement, the danger of moving downwards exists.

The middle class: mostly concentrated in the cities, professionals, engineers, teachers, doctors, small lawyers, office workers, shop owners, and small businessmen.  This is a relatively new class for Russia. Dynamic with porous boundaries, the danger of slipping to its lower level is higher than making a leap into its higher level or to the upper-middle class.

The working class is the most interesting and complex class. The classic working class person is in the military industrial complex, metallurgy, auto industry, oil and gas, power generation, and all types of transportation.  The upper classes make a point of a pretense of treating them well which includes salaries, perks and bonuses. Construction is a big part of the economy. Skilled workers are mainly Russians or citizens of the Russian Federation. There is a big part of the low skill jobs that are done by migrants from republics of what once was the Soviet Union. Their numbers are significant, including, janitors and, delivery workers.  They mostly do not integrate and hold on to their religion (mostly Muslim). Some of them are involved in misdemeanors and crimes, which are blown up and generalized to a whole nation or region. This is a sharp weapon in the hands of the authorities, pitting the migrants against locals. There is much more to be said but I will leave it for other occasions.

How do the different classes feel about “The Oligarchs” (billionaires in Russia) – do they think they deserve what they have?

I am afraid that my reply to this question is going to be a short one because there are no ambiguities or subtleties. Once again in my opinion it is not just a matter of class but a nearly unanimous negative attitude, especially from the working and middle classes and even from some of the upper classes. The Communists and left are just itching to nationalize some industries or at least have a better tax law. Fortunately, the majority of the people see the oligarchs as acquiring their fortunes like in Gustave Myers book History of Great American Fortunes as not having earned it.

What’s the range of differences in how the Russian people see the American people?

The range is narrow, and it does not depend on class.  Rather, it depends on age and the change in subtle things like music, art, and clothing.  I think that the average Russian attitude is negative, this is especially true for people older than 25 years. It is also a reaction to the US and western policies in demonizing and humiliating the Russian people. A western person a priori thinks that he is superior, and this not only on official state levels but in the mentality of the ordinary person. It is ubiquitous in art, literature, and Hollywood. From Harry Truman to Joe Biden nothing much has changed.

The Russian reaction was predictable, I am now mentioning daily stuff – not high politics or economics. It all started by making fun of the Americans and their ignorance about the history and geography of Russia, as well as their traditions and literature. Allow me to tell you one of the more famous stories of a well-known comedian (Mikhail Zadornov) who passed away not so long ago.

A Russian is traveling to the US to visit his friend, at the customs when they open his suitcase, they find a bunch of small branches (around 50 cm) tied together. The inspectors immediately are very suspicious. The Russian tries to explain that these branches are for the Sauna where they dip them in water and lightly hit each other (this is the Russian way and Sauna for some is like a religion, they can talk endlessly about which trees should be chosen for the best smell). The inspector’s eyes become like saucers. “This guy is not only a narcotic maniac, he is also sadomasochistic.”

I am not being flippant. I just want to show that ignorance and prejudice from nuclear policy to sauna lead us to making stupid decisions.

At the present the majority of the Russians, as a reaction to all the Russophobia, sanctions against any kind of activity, from industry and science to art and sport have really stiffened their stance against Americans. There is a set of people, belonging to the TV, cinema as well as some economists, and sports celebrities who are pro-western, which is not exactly pro American.  Anyway, many of them have left Russia after the beginning of the conflict with Ukraine. I should point out that in a real capitalistic society, a filmmaker or a painter is on his own in making his life. In Russia the majority receive help from the government on a regular basis. It is especially galling to the Russian taxpayer, who thinks his money is being wasted on someone who curses his country.

The Russians reacted coolly to the departure of US brands of fast food and clothes. This left many Americans wondering. Russia is not what it was in the 1990s. This is a different time. Russians now bring up their children not to eat fast food and drink soda pop (not always successfully), just like any sane parent in the US would do.

How do the different classes in Russia feel about China?

I do not think it is just a matter of classes. Defining how the Russians feel about China should be according to a number of factors that would include class. At the present there are two more or less evident trends. The first trend is supported by the state, the left, Communists and some of the nationalists who support strong ties with China on many levels. The Russians want to be sure that the Chinese have their backs through the Chinese Silk Road project and the Russian oil and gas supply to China. The liberals and pro-westerners try to find fault in any Chinese initiative.

However, all that being said, there is the human, psychological factor that broadly affects a significant number of Russians. There are cases when it is definitive and that is race. Many Russians, as most Europeans, cannot easily rid themselves of their racism that appeared after the disintegration of the Soviet Union. They see themselves as superior and have been taken in by the western propaganda. The ignorance and prejudice regarding Russia about China is colossal in dimension.  Culture and humanitarian sciences are Eurocentric. The Yellow Peril of the early 20th century is alive and well. Anti-Chinese propagandists love to bring up the border conflict that took place in 1969 between the Soviet Union and China.

The Russian Far East regions have a special relationship with China. There are some that welcome trade and financial possibilities while others are afraid that they would swamp their region and take it over. The Chinese buy unprocessed Russian timber from Siberia, and some of the local producers are eager to do this because they get paid in US dollars. The government frowns upon this, and a lot of commotion is raised. Despite their racism, the upper-class businessman is still eager to do business with China. The average man is wary and cautious. It is only the incomprehensible, myopic, bone-headed American foreign policy that is driving Russians to overcome their racism and have more sympathy for the Chinese.

How do the different classes feel about the European continent around the natural gas issue?

Soviet gas reached Germany in 1973 and each side signed a contract for 20 years, after lengthy negotiations. The German side noted that in spite of the different ideologies, all the procedures were very business-like. Since then, the Soviet, and afterwards the Russian supply of gas continued more or less smoothly to Germany and most European countries as well. Countries that have natural resources to sell as a policy diversify their routes of outlet. Just by taking a look at any modern map of gas or pipelines of nearly every producing country one can notice that. Therefore, Russia’s Nord Stream gas pipelines were logical and legitimate, especially if your pipeline passes through territory that is unstable.

The prevailing opinion about Europeans and gas supply has been formed by the fact that Europe has blocked Russian assets that are counted in hundreds of billion dollars, besides stopping the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline. The Russians took a step from their side, dividing the countries that they were supplying with gas into “friendly” and “unfriendly”. The friendly would continue to pay in US dollars or euros while the unfriendly that had blocked Russian assets would pay in Russian rubles. Although the contracts were in US dollars, Russia decided that blocking their assets was a force majeure clause, and they therefore took this step to defend their interests. It is not so much a class issue as it is an issue that affects nearly the whole nation. The majority of the Russians are fed up with Europe, with the gas issue and all the holier-than-thou attitude of nations filled up to their elbows in the blood of the people of the Third World as well.

With affection and respect

HCE

First published at Socialist Planning Beyond Capitalism

The post How Different Classes in Russia Feel About Yankeedom, China and Europe: More Letters from Russia first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Remembering the 1877 Strikes

The Great Upheaval grew out of their intuitive sense that they needed each other, had the support of each other, and together were powerful. This sense of unity was not embodied in any centralized plan or leadership, but in the feelings and action of each participant.

— Jeremy Brecher, Strike! 1972

Although Critical Race Theory is now at the forefront of political debate, American history has often been about forgetting the events of its valiant labor past.

Following the crash of 1873, by July 1877 America was still deep in the depression. The previous year the total revenues of America’s railroads fell by $5.8 million. But they still raised profits to $186 million and managed to present shareholders with 10% dividends.

As Philip S. Foner noted in The Great Labor Uprising Of 1877, the railroads reduced workers’ pay by an average of 21%-37%. The Baltimore & Ohio reduced its staff’s pay by 50%.

Working people had to strike to provide for their families. They could no longer endure the misery. The Great Railroad Strike began on July 13 at  Martinsburg, West Virginia and the strike quickly spread across many parts of the United States, at times taking on the appearance of an insurrection. There were widespread attacks on rail company property. In St Louis workers’ committees and general assemblies began running things and gender and color differences were put aside. The strikes went beyond the grievances held by the railroad workers and grew into a campaign for the Eight-Hour-Day. 1877 was also the year that the army was withdrawn from the ex-Confederate states, leaving the Ku Klux Klan to terrorize the former slaves and impose the Jim Crow regime. Instead, the military was sent to put down the workers’ strikes.

East St Louis General Strike

Largely organized by the Knights of Labor and the Workingmen’s Party, in East St Louis on July 22, train workers held meetings calling for pay rises but they adopted a series of radical resolutions:

Whereas, The United States government has allied itself on the side of capital and against labor; therefore,

Resolved, That we, the workingmen’s party of the United States, heartily sympathize with the employees of all the railroads in the country who are attempting to secure just and equitable reward for their labor.

Resolved, That we will stand by them in this most righteous struggle of labor against robbery and oppression, through good and evil report, to the end of the struggle.

When the strike began, within hours strikers had taken control of the city.

One speaker declared:

All you have to do, gentlemen, for you have the numbers, is to unite on one idea – that workingmen shall rule the country. What man makes, belongs to him, and the workingmen made this country.

At one rally a black man asked, “Will you stand to us regardless of color?” and the audience responded resolutely, “We will”.

24th of July then saw 350 federal troops arrive, reinforced by a further 450 soldiers on the 25th and more were to come. The city’s 360 strong police force was augmented by a “Citizens” vigilante organization of at least 1,500 armed men and they too were to grow in strength. The strike ended when troops and deputized special police killed at least eighteen people in skirmishes around the city.

On July 28, 1877, they seized the strikers’ operations center, and arrested seventy strikers. With their leadership imprisoned, the strike movement lost momentum and the wage cuts were enforced, with many hundreds of strikers dismissed from their jobs.

David Burbank, in his January 1, 1966 book, Reign of the Rabble: the St. Louis General Strike, 1877 (also called The St. Louis Commune), wrote:

Only around St. Louis did the original strike on the railroads expand into such a systematically organized and complete shut-down of all industry that the term general strike is fully justified. And only there did the socialists assume undisputed leadership…no American city has come so close to being ruled by a workers’ soviet, as we would now call it, as St. Louis, Missouri, in the year 1877. [his emphasis]

The aftermath of July produced the Veiled Prophet Organization, a racist secret society, complete with KKK-style regalia, that comprised of St. Louis elite as an expression of the fear felt by the solidarity between white and black workers.

Pittsburgh

On Thursday, July 19, railroad workers brought train traffic to a halt. Iron and steel workers, miners, and many others, joined the industrial action. The National Guard was mobilised but the authorities recognized that they could not be relied upon.

“Situation in Pittsburgh is becoming dangerous. Troops are in sympathy, in some instances, with the strikers. Can you rely on yours?” said a request by the local commander to higher command.

Many of the Pittsburgh town police and its local militia had sided with the strikers and were refusing to take action against them. Reinforcements were rushed in from Philadelphia and they were far less friendly towards the strikers. In an attempt to disperse a crowd, someone was bayoneted. Protesters retaliated with stones and shot pistols at the troops who returned fire and bayonet charged. When the fighting ceased, an estimated 20 men, women and children had been killed.

The news of the shooting spread. A gun manufacturer was looted and rifles and small-arms were taken by the strikers while gun-stores were broken into for more weapons.

The Philadelphian units found themselves overwhelmed and they retreated but, in due course, fresh detachments from Philadelphia arrived, in addition to federal troops, and they managed to regain control. The exchanges had resulted in 53 strikers killed and eight soldiers.

Scranton

Whereas, we, the employees of the Delaware, Lackawanna and Western Railroad Company, believe that we are not getting a just remuneration for our labor or a sufficient supply for ourselves and families of the common necessaries of life, therefore Resolved, That we demand twenty-five per cent advance on the present rate of wages; also it is further Resolved, That with a refusal of these demands all work will be abandoned from date, as we have willingly submitted to the reduction and without murmur or resistance and finding that it now fails us to live as becomes citizens of a civilized Nation we take these steps in order to supply ourselves and little ones with the necessaries of life.1

The strike began on July 23 when railroad workers walked off the job in protest of recent wage cuts. Railway workers were joined in the strike by coal miners, iron mill workers, and within three days it grew to include thousands of workers from a variety of industries. The employers and city officials responded with the creation of a vigilante force called “Scranton Citizen Corps.”

Violence erupted on August 1 after strikers attacked the town’s mayor, and then clashed with local militia, leaving four dead and many more wounded whereupon State and federal troops were called in to impose martial law.

Reading

There’s an army of strikers,
Determined you’ll see,
Who will fight corporations
Till the Country is free.

The chant of the crowd.

Another of the battlegrounds was in Reading, Pennsylvania, where the boss of the Philadelphia and Reading Railroad and Coal and Iron Company, Franklin Gowen, had already proved himself to be anti-worker and anti-union.

Reading Railroad was the biggest mine company in the Anthracite region. When it lowered mining wages to 54% of their 1869 level, miners began the “Long Strike” of 1875, lasting 170 days,  but the company had stockpiled enough coal to outlast the strike and crushed the miners’ union.

It also accused leaders of being part of the “Molly Maguires” allegedly assassinating company officials. Beginning in June 1877, 20 “Molly Maguires” were executed — often despite strong evidence of innocence and Catholics and Irish excluded from juries. The Reading Railroad later twice lowered miners’ wages by 10-15% between 1876 and 1877.

As for the railroad workers, the company demanded they desert the union and join the company’s insurance plan which they would lose if they stopped working. In defiance, the trainmen went on strike in April 1877. They were replaced with inexperienced scabs who caused many accidents. Nevertheless, it finished the Brotherhood of Railroad Engineers with most of its members dismissed and blacklisted by the company.

As a precaution on July 23, the Philadelphia and Reading Coal and Iron Police, the railroad’s private police force, arrived in Reading, along with the 4th Pennsylvania Volunteer Militia which was asked by the railroad to release a train being blocked by protesters. As the 4th marched along the tracks in the dark they were stoned by a crowd. The soldiers opened fire and left between 10 and 16 dead, and between 37 and 50 injured.

16th Regiment Mutiny

Several companies of the 16th militia regiment from Conshohocken, arrived; however, many supported the strikers.

General Reeder, commander of the 4th, telegraphed to his superior explaining his predicament:

My situation is not improved by the arrival of the Sixteenth regiment, which is very disaffected. The Fourth is becoming anxious, and is also very much exhausted. Should have reliable troops, without delay…The Sixteenth regiment is furnishing the strikers with ammunition and openly declare their intention to join the rioters in case of trouble. If troops do not reach us by dark, I cannot vouch for the safety of the city, or my power to hold the depot. Stir heaven and earth to forward reliable and fresh troops.

16th soldiers began deserting and fraternalizing with the strikers, sharing in the animosity towards the 4th over the killings of the previous night.

In the words of one member of the militia:

We may be militiamen, but we are workmen first.

There was a real and growing risk of an open fight between the 16th and the 4th  and as a precaution before leaving for Reading himself, General Bolton telegraphed the State Adjutant General, “Have United States troops sent to Reading at once. Portion of the Sixteenth regiment are about revolting and joining the strikers”.

Angry crowds had again gathered, and they again threw stones at the 4th; however, when some in the 4th aimed their rifles, the 16th shouted to them not to shoot while some handed over their arms and ammunition to the crowd. The 16th also warned that if the 4th fired on the crowd, the 16th would fire on them.

On the 24th of July, all militia troops were withdrawn, replaced by three hundred regular soldiers to ensure the Coal and Iron Police had control of the town.

The Battle of the Viaduct

In Chicago, on the 26th of July at the Halstead Viaduct, strikers and protesters refused to disperse and street fights began with the police who were reinforced by militia and regular troops. At least, thirty workers died, many being mere boys, and up to two hundred were wounded.

There were many other minor engagements with the employers such as Shamokin. On July 25, a day after the miners at the Shamokin’s Big Mountain Colliery demanded “Food or Work” and protested a 10 percent pay cut, the urban revolt arrived when the town’s Reading Railroad’s depot was sacked and looted. A citizens militia ordered the crowd to disperse. The crowd refused and was fired upon with many being wounded

Conclusion

Was it an insurrection? Could it be called a labor revolution, a civil war between labor and capital? Or merely the work of a mob of rioters?

In Chicago, workers marched through the streets to shouts of “Bread or Blood,” a slogan from the recent Paris Commune, and it instilled fear into the business community.

Writing to Engels on the 25th July 1877, Marx described it as the “first eruption against the oligarchy of associated capital which has arisen since the Civil War ” and predicted that although it would be suppressed, it “could very well be the starting point for the establishment of a serious labour party in the United States.”

Many thought as Marx that 1877 had acted like a catalyst.

The Workingmen’s Party of the United States the following year reformed itself as the Socialist[ic] Labor Party

Two-thirds of America’s seventy-five thousand miles of railroad track had been affected by the strikes. Millions of dollars worth of railroad property had been burned down, blown up or torn apart. And, for the first time in U.S. history, federal troops had been deployed in force to crush strikers.

In the aftermath, National Guard units proliferated. In many states and cities, armories, thick-walled citadels, were constructed in case anything like 1877 happened again. What was “poor men in uniform, fighting poor men in overalls” the local capitalists restructured the National Guard so they were now chosen from the well-to-do to ensure their class loyalty.

The July uprisings had shown the workers their strength and in the future, they would learn how to use it. It was a period in history, albeit short-lived and with varying degrees of success, when working people held power in their hands.

In 1877, the same year blacks learned they did not have enough strength to make real the promise of equality in the Civil War, working people learned they were not united enough, not powerful enough, to defeat the combination of private capital and government power.

— Howard Zinn, A People’s History of the United States, 1980

Further online reading2

  1. Scranton general strike – Wikiquote
  2. The great railroad strike, 1877 – Howard Zinn (libcom.org); and The great upheaval of 1877 – Jeremy Brecher (libcom.org).
The post Remembering the 1877 Strikes first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Ukraine: War and the Challenge of Human Rights in the United States and Beyond

Images of burnt flesh from napalm bombs, wounded and dead soldiers, scenes of U.S. soldiers burning the simple huts of Vietnamese villages, eventually turned the public against the war in Vietnam and produced the dreaded affliction, from the ruling class point of view, known as the “Vietnam syndrome.” This collective Post Traumatic Stress Disorder made it impossible for the public to support any foreign military involvement for years.

It took the rulers almost three decades to finally cure the public of this affliction. But the rulers were careful.

The brutal reality of what the U.S. was doing in Afghanistan and Iraq was whitewashed. That is why the images now being brought to the public by the corporate media are so shocking. It has been more than two generations since the U.S. public was exposed to the horrific images of war.

In the 1960s the rulers inadvertently allowed themselves to be undermined by the new television technology that brought the awful reality of imperialist war into the homes of the public. Now, the ruling class operating through its corporate media propaganda arms has been effectively using Ukraine war propaganda, not to increase Anti-war sentiment but to stimulate support for more war!

Incredibly also, the propagandists are pushing a line that essentially says that in the name of “freedom” and supporting Ukraine, the U.S. public should shoulder the sacrifice of higher fuel and food prices. This is on top of the inflation that workers and consumers were already being subjected to coming out of the capitalist covid scandal that devastated millions of workers and the lower stratums of the petit bourgeoisie.

But the war, and now the unfair shouldering of all of the costs of the capitalist crisis of 2008 – 2009, and the impact of covid by the working classes in the U.S., amounts to a capitalist tax. It is levied by the oligarchy on workers to subsidize the defense of the interests of big capital and the conditions that have produced obscene profits, even in the midst of the covid crisis and now, the Ukraine war.

These policies are criminal. While the U.S. continues to pretend that it champions human rights around the world, the failure of the state to protect the fundamental human rights of the citizens and residents in the U.S. is obvious to all, but spoken about by the few, except the Chinese government.

For those who might think that the Chinese criticism of the U.S. is only being driven by politics, and it might be,  just a cursory, objective examination of the U.S. state policies over just the last few years reveals a shocking record of systematic human rights abuses that promise to become even more acute as a consequence of the manufactured U.S./NATO war in Ukraine.

The Ongoing Human Rights Crisis

The U.S. working class, and Black working class in particular, never recovered from the economic crisis of 2008 before it was once again ravaged in 2020 with the global capitalist crisis exacerbated by covid. On the heels of those two shocks, today millions of workers are experiencing a permanent state of precarity with evictions, the continued loss of medical coverage, unaffordable housing and food costs, and a capitalist-initiated inflation. The rulers are operating under the belief that with the daily bombardment of war images, U.S. workers and the poor will embrace rising costs of gas and even more increases in the cost of food.

Doesn’t the state have any responsibility to ensure that the economic human rights of the people are fulfilled? No, because liberal human rights practice separates fundamental human rights – such as the right to health, food, housing, education, a means to subsist at an acceptable level of material culture, leisure, and life-long social security – from democratic discourse on what constitutes the human rights responsibility of the state and the interests it must uphold in order to be legitimate.

The non-recognition of the indivisibility of human rights that values economic human rights to an equal level as civil and political rights, exposed the moral and political contradictions of the liberal human rights framework. The massive economic displacements with hunger, unemployment, and unnecessary deaths among the population in the United States, with a disproportionate rate of sickness and hospitalization among non-white workers and the poor in the U.S., were never condemned as violations of human rights.

War and Economic Deprivation the Systemic Contradictions of the Western colonial/capitalist Project

The war being waged against global humanity by the U.S./EU/NATO Axis of Domination is a hybrid war that utilizes all the tools it has at its disposal – sanctions, mass incarceration, coups, drugs, disinformation, culture, subversion, murder, and direct military engagement to further white power. The Eurocentrism and “White Lives Matters More Movement” represented by the coverage of the war in Ukraine stripped away any pretense to the supposed liberal commitment to global humanity. The white-washing of the danger of the ultra-right and neo-Nazi elements in the Ukrainian military and state and the white ethno-nationalism that the conflict generated across the Western world demonstrated, once again, how “racialism” and the commitment to the fiction of white supremacy continues to trump class and class struggle and the ability to build a multi-national, class based anti-capitalist, anti-imperialist opposition in the North.

It is primarily workers from Russia, the Donbas and Ukraine who are dying. But as in the run-up to the first imperialist war in Europe, known as World War One, workers with the encouragement of their national bourgeoisie, are lining up behind their rulers to support the capitalist redivision taking place, a redivision that can only be completed by war as long as capitalism and capitalist competition continues. Yet, instead of “progressives and radicals” joining forces to resist the mobilization to war, they are finding creative ways to align themselves with the interests of their ruling classes in support of the colonial/capitalist project.

In the meantime, the people of Afghanistan are starving, with thousands of babies now dying of malnutrition because the U.S. stole their nation’s assets. Estimates suggest that unless reversed, more people there will die from U.S./EU imposed sanctions than died during the twenty year long war. And the impact of the war in Ukraine with the loss of wheat exports from Ukraine and Russia resulting not only in rising food prices globally but in some places like East Africa, resulting in death from famine.

In the U.S. where we witness the most abysmal record of covid failure on the planet, the virus will continue to ravage the population, with a disproportionate number who get sick and die being the poorest and those furthest from whiteness.

The lackeys of capital playing the role of democratic representatives claim that there is no money to bring a modicum of relief to workers represented in the mildly reformist package known as Build Back Better. Yet, the Brown University Costs of War Project estimates that the wars waged by the United States in this century have cost $8 trillion and counting, with another $8 trillion that will be spent over the next ten years on the military budget if costs remain constant from the $778 billion just allocated.

No rational human being desires war and conflict. The horrors of war that the public are finally being exposed to because it was brought to Europe again, the most violent continent on the planet, should call into question all of the brutal and unjustified wars that the U.S. and its flunky allies waged throughout the global South over the last seventy years. Unfortunately, because of the hierarchy of the value of human beings, the images of war in Ukraine are not translating into a rejection of war, but instead a rejection of war in Europe and on white Europeans.

This means that the wars will continue and we must fight, often alone, because as Bob Marley said in his song “War”:

Until the philosophy which hold one race superior
And another
Inferior
Is finally
And permanently
Discredited
And abandoned
Everywhere is war
Me say war

The post Ukraine: War and the Challenge of Human Rights in the United States and Beyond first appeared on Dissident Voice.

There will be blood, and, yes, we do need stinkin’ badges

This is a little soft-shoe pissed off blathering from me, so apologies up front. No big news on the Ukraine Invasion front, or the Gates Owning All the Farms front, or the Climate-Wall Street-Chronic Illness front. Nothing related to the MICIMATT (Military-Industrial-Congressional-MEDIA-Academia-Think-Tank) front. Just plain old burnt toast and spilled milk from a radical who has to still be in the job market at the tender age of 65.

Never in my imagination, just five years ago even, would I have figured I’d be here, that is, stuck in the USA, blessed to be in a relationship (it’s good, but again, people in my life do need me somewhat sane to handle varying degrees of their own trauma), and pigeon-holed as a malcontent who is also unemployable.

The fact that people in the fields I venture into are less than middling, and the fact that lives hang in the balance tied to vax mandates, and forced boosters, and proof of mRNA life (I hear people, through the fog of the propaganda madmen, that mRNA a la Pfizer and Moderna, is better than the J & J, Janssen, which is not the same vax, but is now being discontinued. Imagine, J & J was a single dose experimental jab, but the Mengele actors in the CDC and Big Pharma move the goal posts daily so J & J single dose, has to be seconded to be a full-vax record —  after a five month lapse between the two. However, the J & J is cancelled, no more manufacturing, so anyone trying to stay away from mRNA now, after their one shot of J & J has to submit to a completely different platform for this SARS-CoV2 mass experimentation game).

These are experimental. The blasphemy is, a, forced vaccinations on everyone, no discussion about the alternatives, or the safety; then, forcing these on youth, age six months; then, the lack of choice of all the vaxxes around the world, including China’s and Cuba’s; then, complete liability for death and injury for the big Pharma thugs; then, of course, we, the taxpayer foot the bill for R & D, for the salaries of these thieves, and then we buy the vials, and when they are contaminated, or when they expire, we end up watching 30 million doses down the drain, and then we, the taxpayer, foot the bill for the replacements. Money and more money, that is the planne pandemic.

Pre-Planned Demic — forced vaccinations for college students, and then, how many for kids going to kindergarten, K12, have to be vaxxxed? Then, the HPV, and I have written about that here —

“My Fate as a Social Worker Sealed by a Vaccine named Gardasil”

Death by a Thousand Cuts: When the Cures of Big Pharma are Worse than the Diseases”

I got screwed, blued and tatooed by the powers that be. Big Pharma, Planned Parenthood and the nonprofit industrial complex. Try that out for size!

So, what is in the discontinued Johnson & Johnson (J&J)/Janssen COVID-19 Vaccine?

Ingredients:

The J&J/Janssen COVID-19 vaccine contains a piece of a modified virus that is not the virus that causes COVID-19. This modified virus is called the vector virus. The vector virus cannot reproduce itself, so it cannot cause COVID-19. This vector virus gives instructions to cells in the body to create an immune response. This response helps protect you from getting sick with COVID-19 in the future. After the body produces an immune response, it gets rid of all of the vaccine ingredients just as it would discard any information that cells no longer need. This process is a part of normal body functioning.

Full list of ingredients: The J&J/Janssen COVID-19 vaccine contains the following ingredients:

A harmless version of a virus unrelated to the COVID-19 virus: Recombinant, replication-incompetent Ad26 vector, encoding a stabilized variant of the SARS-CoV-2 Spike (S) protein. Provides instructions the body uses to build a harmless piece of a protein from the virus that causes COVID-19. This protein causes an immune response that helps protect the body from getting sick with COVID-19 in the future.

Sugars, salts, acid, and acid stabilizer:

  • Polysorbate-80
  • 2-hydroxypropyl-β-cyclodextrin
  • Trisodium citrate dihydrate
  • Sodium chloride (basic table salt)
  • Citric acid monohydrate (closely related to lemon juice)
  • Ethanol (a type of alcohol)

These work together to help keep the vaccine molecules stable while the vaccine is manufactured, shipped, and stored until it is ready to be given to a vaccine recipient.

See the source image

Alas, I teach a class at the community college here, OCCC. One student asked first day of class who was vaccinated and boosted. I massaged that into, “Well, we have to wear masks, per college requirements, but there is not vax mandate. Best we not ask people personal questions about their health issues and decisions.”

My marching orders were that if I asked once and then twice for a student to mask, and if they refused, the course would be cancelled.

That is the absurdity of this entire dress rehersal for bigger and more systematic totalitarian methods of control. The mob, the bandwagon, the transfer of Fauci’s credentials to infer credibility. Pissing matches now on which vax and booster you get.

I do not know if many DV readers get the totality of this Western Mentality for Ordering People Around at work, school, in public, everywhere. Again, pre-SARS-CoV2, and conccurently — people I have gotten jobs for are working 14 hour shifts, in sub-freezing warehouses, moving frozen goods/foods along frozen floors with forklifts sliding all over the place. Imagine, coming home and still five hours after the shift frozen fingers and core temperature still not normal. Forced drug screening, forced background checks, forced credit checks, checks on prior evictions, driving record checks, physicals, all medications listed, reference checks, in-case-of-emergency references, and more, including being paid every two weeks, on a fucking Visa card.

Toil, weathering, mean as cuss bosses and supervisors, repetitive deadening work. No talking on the job. Keep those headphones and ear buds off. I’ve challenged the honchos driving up in Mercedes and Teslas how the hell do they look at themselves in the mirror at night or in the morning without seeing a monster of exploitation. Big jacked up $60,000 pickups while my clients have to take rotten and rotting public buses, many lines of which stop a mile or two away from the facility.

Work, baby, the great resignation, sure. But, here we are now — who owns us? How do we put that roof over our heads and that john in the corner and kitchen next to the bed?

America’s Largest Landlord Just Got Bigger: Blackstone Buys 17,000 Houses For $6 Billion” by Tyler Durden

Wall Street won’t rest until it become the biggest – and perhaps only – landlord in the US.

At least that’s the impression one gets by observing the behavior of the two Wall Street “black” giants, Blackrock and Blackstone. As a reminder, the WSJ sparked widespread outrage recently when it exposed what most industry insiders had known for a long time, namely that Blackrock (and other institutional investors) have been ravenously gobbling up US real estate. Now it’s Blackstone’s turn.

On Tuesday, the WSJ reported that Blackstone – which already is not only America’s largest landlord but also the world’s largest real estate company with a $325 billion portfolio – has agreed to buy single-family rental company Home Partners of America for $6 billion, betting the demand for suburban housing will stay hot even as the pandemic eases. Home Partners owns more than 17,000 houses in the United States; the company buys, rents out and eventually offers its tenants a chance to buy them. Now all those functions will be done by the largest US private equity firm.

 

And so, I, like millions, are at the whim of the followers, the sheeple, for sure, and we play their game, and STILL, we can’t be in their sandboxes. All those state and city and county and even nonprofit jobs tied to state, city, county contracts (grants) I apply for caveat the application in big bold notations — Upon hire, the candidate must submit proof of full Covid-19 vaccination. That means, of course, those agencies have the power to go straight to CDC/STATE records of the shot sheet. Not a paper copy of the CDC shot record, but the proof has had to be recorded into the data field; i.e. computer.

I was going to cross that bridge if and when I got any sense of being offered a job, but, alas, there are not job offers for schmucks like me. That is, of course, the lamentation here. But as always, I attempt to make my little Paul’s World tie into a larger frame, some universal set of lessons.

  • age
  • gender
  • politics
  • over-educated
  • too many different jobs over time
  • moving too many times
  • too confident
  • too willing to discussion many aspects of the job in the Q & A
  • too much on the internet, easily searchable vis Google
  • blacklisted through checking off, “no, it is not okay to contact previous employer”
  • more

There are so many reasons why “they” don’t hire folks like “me.” Strike up the ageism and sexism band, for sure. I am 65, a male, and the jobs I am attempting to get are in the social services/education/editing/writing arena.

Educational navigator, state and county jobs, even city jobs. The writing is on the wall, in a rural county, and, when I do get interviews, it’s four to six women on Zoom. I’ve had 12 people in a room for one job interview I actually drove 40 miles to attend in person. I was asked to apply by the ED. Very good back and forth, and they liked me, thought I was smart, a fit, but not a perfect fit. The rejection letter from the Executive Director was all complimentary. But, again, here I am, on the job market. Many times an interview is couched with “we are a tight-knit family, a very close team so how do you think you’d be part of that?”

I’ve had to ask several time, at the end of interviews when they ask me if I have questions, what ways do the people on the team work with people like me, an obvious outsider, to be part of a team that they call family? Really, what makes it easy for a male with education to fit into a tight knit team, which from the outside seems like a clique?

I am a great interview, and I am able to put on many faces,  in addition to bringing up interesting connections to my long work experience and my education to each respective job I’ve applied for.

And, that small-knit female group is not wanting to have an outsider, someone who doesn’t look like them. These people, to be blunt, are seated inside a nanny mentality, and drawn into paperwork world while following procedures to the letter. They are not giving and creative souls, not in any real sense. Also, they seem to be pretty one-dimensional. I get through the screening, then the interview, then the email a week or weeks later, which is a form letter, that states in mealy mouthed terms, I was rejected:

PAUL — Thank you for interviewing for the position of Permanency Workers (Social Services Specialist 1) Newport . Although you have not been selected for the position, we enjoyed learning about your background and experience in greater detail.

Again, thank you for your time and interest. We encourage you to apply for other opportunities in the future.

Thank you.”

Yep, my mother told me I should have continued at the U of Arizona and got the medical degree. Even a law degree. That was way back when, at 19 years of age and having the gift of gab, the gift of testing to a high level, above 89 or 90. Gifts . . . now, at 65, feeling, well, embarassed that, a, I have to look for work with no retirement, in this shit hole country, and in any shit hole state (you name it). Democratic or Republican governor, the scum rises to the top. With so much scum below them. And, b, I am pissed off and in this predictament. And, c, that I even feel this way — useless, a throw-away, disposable, nothing (I don’t feel these for many minutes in a day, but still, feeling this shit is like hot lead down one’s gullet).

One of the questions from the above committee of three was around “Many people perceive the CPS (child protective services) has having a lot of power. Rightly or wrongly, how would you deal with this perception?”

Well, of course, I know a few things or two about CPS and foster care and removing children from families. And, I thought I could give the CPS a bit of perspective, AND, while the gender police want to top load professions that are traditionally not full of women with women, you would think those female-filled social services centers would want a few wise males in their ranks.

That’s just hopeful thinking. Well, here, from an old article, Atlantic, from a CPS worker:

It seems there is always some sort of story in the media regarding one form of child abuse or neglect or another. Recently, I came across two such stories, one about a working mother who allowed her 9-year-old daughter to play unsupervised at a playground near her work and was subsequently arrested and her daughter put into foster care; and another, actually, about the mass shut-off of water services in an underprivileged Detroit neighborhood which brought up the fact that many don’t complain about the issue due to fears of having their children immediately removed from their homes as lack of water service is, allegedly, grounds for this in the city. These stories always hit home for me. Besides being a parent, I previously worked for Children’s Protective Services in Ohio.

Opinions usually fell into one of two predictable camps: as a CPS worker you were either accused of doing too little to protect the children involved, or of being too invasive, at best another mindless bureaucrat and at worst a power-happy sadist that got off on telling others how to raise their kids. In truth, both are often correct. I’ve seen them personally. And it’s a problem. Most workers, however, fall somewhere along the wide spectrum in between, and where they fall will be influenced more by their local inter-and-intra-agency culture than any statute.

Thinking of the mother of the 9-year-old, I realize I am not privy to the details of the case. I understand there is a lot I don’t know. Things like, does this mom have a history of abusing or neglecting this child or other children? Did the child have any special needs that made her especially vulnerable to being unsupervised? Did the child have any other signs of abuse like severe bruising or physical injuries, or of neglect such as obvious malnutrition or chronic head lice, or any other incalculable number of things? These would no doubt make a huge impact on my opinion of the situation, but as it stands what I read is this: a 9-year-old girl was left with a cellular phone at a playground near her mother’s workplace with adequate shade and access to water. Upon learning that her mother was not present, an adult called the police. So far, I vilify neither the caller for calling nor the police for responding. It is what happens next that I strongly question.

Apparently, the best answer to this case was to remove the child from her mother’s custody, put her in foster care, and arrest the mother. I’ll be blunt: this is insane.

Well, of course, I handled ALL the questions well, but then, the rejection. All those rejections. All those terrible people lifted through the prostitution called politics of bureaucracies. There are so many mean, dog-eat-dog, I-got-mine-too-bad-you-don’t-got-yours fucking Americanos. Yankee or Stars and Bars, most are cut from the same shit-hole Mayflower cloth. There are some mean folks I have met in Child Protective Services. In Portland, in Seattle, in Spokane, in El Paso!

This is the shape of things to come, for many of us, who are self-avowed radicals, willing to say and write and publish things that are definitely outside the bold lines of the center fold of American meanness. American group think. American belonging in the bandwagon. Infantalized. Disneyfied. Now, get stuck in a rural arena, with few opportunities, and this is the weekly routine —

  • change up the resume
  • write a new cover letter
  • do an on-line application
  • sometimes complete these timed tests, many of which are psycho personality tests — sick stuff
  • attest at the end of the application, before hitting submit, that all stuff is truthful, and that they, the prospective employer, has the right to go back into all manner of work and legal and living history

And it is almost impossible during this process, and while consuming corporate, commercial, un-News news, to not get jaded, cynical, pissed off and, well, dejected. Since all the stories are about the beautiful people, the celebrities, all the crap around thespian stars and sports stars. All the felonies committed by politicians, corporate heads, even those in positions of state-county-city government.

There are so many undeserving folk in positions of big and minimal power. Yep, we know that. And to hear any manner of these people who get quoted or get the limelight for me is to hear monsters who have zero idea how the 80 percent live.

Nepotism, favoritism, cancelling, xenophobia, bandwagoning, credentialism, and other -isms rule the day. Then, to see folks circling their wagons interviewing me only because they may be checking off something on their diversity list — “get a white old male in the mix to look like we are diversity mavens” — to have at least three people in the pool. I have had my application stopped because not enought applicants hit the pool. Imagine that.

Then, there’s this blasphemy — more and more staffing firms, the bane of humanity, controlling the hiring process. That culprit, Indeed, has gotten into staffing. LinkedIn? All of them, rotten to the core, and many jobs are now conduited through those chosen people’s job screening-prepping-hiring headhunter systems that are all relying upon algorithms and Salesforce techniques:

Contracting is Worker Exploitation — (source). I have written about this in the past. Broken records abound:

Staffing agencies perpetuate this ugly cycle because they make a hefty profit exploiting contractors. Staffing agency recruiters will lie about the length of the contract and specific requirements, they’ll alter resumes without your knowledge, and make little to no effort to find another assignment once a contract ends. Some of these staffing agencies are so unprofessional, they’ve sent me emails meant for other people they’re trying to recruit. Staffing agencies are the worst. They don’t disclose how much they charge a company for a contractor’s services to maximize their profits. For example, for one of my recent contracting gigs, the company paid the staffing agency $60 an hour. I received $40 an hour while the staffing agency received $20 an hour for every hour of my work. The staffing agency received $800 a week for doing practically nothing, while I did all the work. These are the risks of contracting work, but it doesn’t make it right or ethical.

+–+

“This Is One of the Most Important Legal Battles for Labor in Decades” (In These Times)

Over the last few decades, a growing number of American workers have effectively lost many of their labor rights because of the way their bosses structure the employment relationship. These workers are contractors who are hired by one company but work for another: the Hyatt Hotel housekeepers who actually work for Hospitality Staffing Solutions, the Microsoft tech workers who actually work for a temp agency called Lionbridge Technologies, and the Amazon warehouse workers who actually work for Integrity Staffing Solutions. These workers often perform the same work at the same place as other workers, frequently on a permanent basis.

But because their employers have entered into complicated contracts with each other, these workers have been unable to exercise their labor rights. If the workers can only bargain with the staffing company and not the lead company where they actually work, they are negotiating with the party that often has no power to change the terms of their employment. For that reason, workers have fought for a more inclusive definition under the National Labor Relations Act of what constitutes an employer — and when two employers are joint employers.

Here, in my neck of the woods, the Lincoln County School District, again, sell outs at the top, and the bizarre superintendent and her VPs and thug principals in league with her meglamania, the District gives shit about workers:

Educational Staffing Solutions (New Jersey, Tennessee) is a staffing firm specializing in placing highly qualified staff in daily, long-term, and permanent K-12 school district positions, including paraprofessionals, substitute teachers, and other support staff. The company innovates education staffing to provide dynamic solutions to schools and professional opportunities to passionate educators. ESS provides its employees with the ability to work for schools across the country and competitive training, flexible work schedules, and professional development. The company’s partner schools receive personalized solutions, hands-on management, technology, and program reporting and analytics. ESS was founded in 2000, and its headquarter is located in Cherry Hill, New Jersey, United States. The firm’s expert professionals serve more than 3 million students with a pool of 60,000 substitute and permanent employees throughout the United States. ESS provides healthcare benefits and other perks to its employees.

So these schools, public schools, have sold out their food services to profiteers (Sodexo, et al), given up cleaning to the janitorial profiteers (Sodexo; Bon Apetite), contracted out the buses (Student First, et al), and their hiring of staff, teachers, administrators, too, sold out to the profit gougers. Staffing firms and those all-American welfare cheats who look, sound, smell like, well, good people. This is what the average person has to confront.

A national labor phenomenon known as “The Great Resignation,” or “The Big Quit,” began to take hold in January 2021 and has since grown. Millions of workers in the United States have turned the turmoil caused by the coronavirus pandemic into opportunities to rethink their professions and reframe their lives.

The trend is especially pronounced in the accommodation and food services sector, which experienced more than 5 percent worker attrition each month from June to October of last year.

Online, people flooded a Reddit forum called “r/antiwork” for commiseration and solidarity; by year’s end, the page had reached 1.5 million members. In the streets, thousands of unionized workers in manufacturinghealth care, and higher education went on strike last fall for fair pay and protections. (source)

So, with two master’s degrees, and three dozen years teaching, and some of that including substituting K12 in Washington and Texas, I have to face jobs where $14.89 an hour, no benefits, on-call, at will, are the options. But add to this paltry pay: a substitute teacher needs to pay a fee to get a substitute certification, which is $350 in Oregon. I even had to take a civics test, here in Oregon, a test that was so fucking easy that, well, another fee to pay in order to get a shitty $14.89 an hour.

Here, some of my work with students, K12:

Professor Pablo and Fourth Grade Enlightenment in Lincoln City

And, then, being banned from teaching, another story, here at DV —

Take Down this Blog, or Else!” — No job interview, no job offer, targeting by city, county, state honchos, watched by the pigs, shadowed by all the sub humans

You will not hear VP Harris or Jill Biden talking about this blasphemy, or Henry Giroux or Chris Hedges writing about this stuff. Believe you me, this is below them, to be blunt. I am part of a legion of older folk caught in several levels or circles of THEIR hell: the arbitrators, the people in high and mid office, making some of the worst decisions ever. We are at the whim of lock-step fearful folk. We are at the beck and call of the most uncreative people on earth. I have seen the antithesis of education, of journalism, of social work, of college teaching in my many decades of wandering the planet as a writer who should have gone the route of med school or law.

I’m sixty-five and really part of the growing throw-away contingency of millions in this Western Culture who are just the flesh and blood (and data mines) in a pipeline for more rich and super rich and almost rich people to take their pound of flesh — fees, penalties, late charges, triple taxation, tickets, surcharges, foreclosures, evictions, repossessions, code infractions, add-ons.

Oh, cry for me, United Snakes of America. Evictions, uh? They — the landlords, the BlackRocks, the BlackStones, the Banks and the Insurance and the Real Estate monsters, they are the Stinkin’ Badges!

February/March 2022

 

I’ve written about this before, so again, broken DVD/record:

Never forget who we are:

In 2019, Democratic Senator Elizabeth Warren blasted Blackstone for “shamelessly” profiting from the U.S. foreclosure crisis, arguing that Wall Street’s investment in single-family homes was a “huge loss for America’s renters.” (source)

Never mind, though, old Elizabeth states she is through and through a capitalist. Haha, rhetoric, yakking, and not a fucking thing is done. Huge loss for America’s renters? This is life and death, again, these people at the top are clueless, intentionally, or just because they do not know what it is to be us.

See the source image

But then, forgetting is in the water:

See the source image

And, you can’t get Whoopied when you got no millions:

See the source image

Unemployment, on the dole, on the fiddle, under the table, riff-raff, deplorable, welfare king, trash, undesirable, vermin, dreg of society, scum, outcast — terms thrown at me and my people. Hell, just look at the Chosen People’s movie channels — all those narratives, those Hulu and Netflix and Amazon series and movie crap,  how they depict (they never really depict real struggle) us commoners, those of us who still have a few good years left to be “contributors,” but for many reasons, will never get the third, fourth, tenth chance. Watch closely how they depict the working class. Take notes. We are dregs, man. Broken, mean, thieves, fornicators, dumb, and deplorables.

Remote Area Medical? Shit, we are an underperforming country, intentional, vis-a-vis the corporate whores, the lot of them:

Scale this shit up. Dental clinics, care homes, medical clinics. Free, of course. Reroute that Biden-Trump-Bush-Obama-Clinton war money to what we need: Stan Brock, Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom:

A debate over healthcare has been raging nationwide, but what’s been lost in the discussion are the American citizens who live day after day, year after year without solutions for their most basic needs. Remote Area Medical documents the annual three-day “pop-up” medical clinic organized by the non-profit Remote Area Medical (RAM) in Bristol, Tennessee’s NASCAR speedway. Instead of a film about policy, Remote Area Medical is a film about people, about a proud Appalachian community banding together to try and provide some relief for friends and neighbors who are simply out of options.

Fucking amazing Stan Brock — they don’t make people like him anymore!

Image

Stan Brock presented a popular wildlife show on US television in the Sixties

The post There will be blood, and, yes, we do need stinkin’ badges first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Will Billions More Vaccination Shots Stop Continual Economic and Social Decline?

Like the International Monetary Fund, World Bank, and other imperialist organizations, the OECD (Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development) recently announced that the forecast for global economic recovery will be revised downward in light of the Omicron virus variant that emerged a few weeks ago .1

Predictably, the OECD claimed that “a swifter roll-out of COVID vaccines” will improve the economy even though this has not stopped social and economic decline so far, and even though President Joe Biden, South African leaders, Governor Kathy Hochul of New York, U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy, and many others around the world, even Anthony Fauci have stressed that the Omicron variant generally causes mostly mild symptoms and does not warrant hysteria and panic. The OECD’s “the-vaccine-will-solve-all-economic-problems” narrative is evident in many news items and publications on its website.

The ruling elite and their media have been dogmatically insisting for 20 consecutive months that elusive economic recovery depends largely on giving everyone multiple vaccination shots with or without their consent—something that makes Big Pharma extremely happy.

But so far neither billions of vaccination shots nor top-down lockdowns have stopped the deepening economic and social crisis confronting the majority of humanity. Lockdowns have devastated the livelihoods of millions and increased poverty, debt, unemployment, inequality, misery, and depression worldwide. Millions of businesses have permanently disappeared in less than 20 months. How is this an effective response to a health crisis? Will more debt, poverty, inequality, unemployment, and insecurity improve people’s health and well-being? Do security and good health come from constant instability, fear, and uncertainty? Can an economy controlled and dominated by the top 0.1% even meet the needs of the people? Not surprisingly, a key feature of the “COVID Pandemic” has been even greater concentration of socially-produced wealth in fewer private hands, bringing inequality worldwide to even more barbaric levels. Currently, “the poorest half of the planet’s population owns about 2% of its riches”. In addition, high levels of inflation are spreading globally, thereby decreasing people’s purchasing power even further. Whatever wage or salary gains many people may be getting are being rapidly eaten up by rising inflation.

Nearly two years after the “COVID Pandemic” started economies around the world are plagued by many serious intractable economic problems. It has been a huge struggle for the rich and their political and media representatives to anchor themselves in any legitimacy, and given the chaotic, anarchic, and violent way everything is being approached by the rich and their entourage, more tragedies are in store.

The necessity for an economy, society, and institutions controlled by the people themselves has never been sharper and more urgent. The rich and their cheerleaders cannot offer a way forward. They are historically exhausted, unfit to rule, and determined to preserve obsolete arrangements that keep everyone marginalized and disempowered. They reject social responsibility and block any striving of the people for a better world. The all-sided crisis plaguing people everywhere can only be solved by people relying on themselves instead of the rich and their representatives.

  1. Imperialist organizations like the OECD regularly over-project economic growth and thus they routinely revise their projections downwards several times a year, causing many to lose faith in their ability to accurately cognize economic realities and conditions.
The post Will Billions More Vaccination Shots Stop Continual Economic and Social Decline? first appeared on Dissident Voice.

No Substantive Economic Recovery In Sight

One of the fundamental economic laws under capitalism is for wealth to become more concentrated in fewer hands over time, which in turn leads to more political power in fewer hands, which means that the majority have even less political and economic power over time. Monopoly in economics means monopoly in politics. It is the opposite of an inclusive, democratic, modern, healthy society. This retrogressive feature intrinsic to capitalism has been over-documented in thousands of reports and articles from hundreds of sources across the political and ideological spectrum over the last few decades. It is well-known, for example, that a handful of people own most of the wealth in the U.S. and most members of Congress are millionaires. This leaves out more than 95% of people. Not surprisingly, “policy makers” have consistently failed to reverse these antisocial trends inherent to an obsolete system.

At the same time, with no sense of irony and with no fidelity to science, news headlines from around the world continue to scream that the economy in many countries and regions is doing great and that more economic recovery and growth depend almost entirely, if not entirely, on vaccinating everyone (multiple times). In other words, once everyone is vaccinated, we will see really good economic times, everything will be amazing, and we won’t have too much to worry about. Extremely irrational and irresponsible statements and claims of all kinds continue to be made in the most dogmatic and frenzied way by the mainstream press at home and abroad in a desperate attempt to divert attention from the deep economic crisis continually unfolding nationally and internationally. Dozens of countries are experiencing profound economic problems.

While billions of vaccination shots have already been administered worldwide, and millions more are administered every day (with and without people’s consent), humanity continues to confront many major intractable economic problems caused by the internal dynamics of an outdated economic system.

A snapshot:

  1. More rapid and intense inflation everywhere
  2. Major supply chain disruptions and distortions everywhere
  3. Shortages of many products
  4. “Shortages” of workers in many sectors worldwide
  5. Shortened and inconsistent hours of operation at thousands of businesses
  6. Falling value of the U.S. dollar and other fiat currencies
  7. Growing stagflation
  8. Millions of businesses permanently disappeared
  9. More income and wealth inequality
  10. High dismal levels of unemployment, under-employment, and worker burnout
  11. Growing health insurance costs
  12. Unending fear, anxiety, and hysteria around endless covid strains
  13. More scattered panic buying
  14. The stock market climbing while the real economy declines (highly inflated asset valuations in the stock market)
  15. Spectacular economic failures like Lehman Brothers (in the U.S. 13 years ago) and Evergrande (in China in 2021)
  16. All kinds of debt increasing at all levels
  17. Central banks around the world printing trillions in fiat currencies non-stop and still lots of bad economic news
  18. And a whole host of other harsh economic realities often invisible to the eye and rarely reported on that tell a much more tragic story of an economy that cannot provide for the needs of the people

The list goes on and on. More nauseating data appears every day. Economic hardship, which takes on many tangible and intangible forms, is wreaking havoc on the majority at home and abroad. There is no real and substantive economic improvement. It is hard to see a bright, stable, prosperous, peaceful future for millions under such conditions, which is why many, if not most, people do not have a good feeling about what lies ahead and have little faith in the rich, their politicians, and “representative democracy.” It is no surprise that President Joe Biden’s approval rating is low and keeps falling.

What will the rich and their political and media representatives say and do when most people are vaccinated, everyone else has natural immunity, and the economy is still failing? What will the rich do when economic failure cannot be blamed on bacteria or viruses? To be sure, the legitimacy crisis will further deepen and outmoded liberal institutions of governance will become even more obsolete and more incapable of sorting out today’s serious problems. “Representative democracy” will become more discredited and more illusions about the “social contract” will be shattered. In this context, talk of “New Deals” for this and “New Deals” for that won’t solve anything in a meaningful way either because these “New Deals” are nothing more than an expansion of state-organized corruption to pay the rich, mainly through “public-private-partnerships.” This is already being spun in a way that will fool the gullible. Many are actively ignoring how such high-sounding “reforms” are actually pay-the-rich schemes that increase inequality and exacerbate a whole host of other problems.

It is not in the interest of the rich to see different covid strains and scares disappear because these strains and scares provide a convenient cover and scapegoat for economic problems rooted in the profound contradictions of an outmoded economic system over-ripe for a new direction, aim, and control. It is easier to claim that the economy is intractably lousy because of covid and covid-related restrictions than to admit that the economy is continually failing due to the intrinsic built-in nature, operation, and logic of capital itself.

There is no way forward while economic and political power remain dominated by the rich. The only way out of the economic crisis is by vesting power in workers, the people who actually produce the wealth that society depends on. The rich and their outmoded system are a drag on everyone and are not needed in any way; they are a major obstacle to the progress of society; they add no value to anything and are unable and unwilling to lead the society out of its deepening all-sided crisis.

There is an alternative to current obsolete arrangements and only the people themselves, armed with a new independent outlook, politics, and thinking can usher it in. Economic problems, health problems, and 50 other lingering problems are not going to be solved so long as the polity remains marginalized and disempowered by the rich and their capital-centered arrangements and institutions. New and fresh thinking and consciousness are needed at this time. A new and more powerful human-centered outlook is needed to guide humanity forward.

Human consciousness and resiliency are being severely tested at this time, and the results have been harsh and tragic in many ways for so many. We are experiencing a major test of the ability of the human species to bring into being what is missing, that is, to overcome the neoliberal destruction of time, space, and the fabric of society so as to unleash the power of human productive forces to usher in a much more advanced society where time-space relations accelerate in favor of the entire polity. There is an alternative to the anachronistic status quo.

The post No Substantive Economic Recovery In Sight first appeared on Dissident Voice.

More Mandated Vaccinations Will Not Solve Economic Failure One Iota: May Even Make Things Worse

On September 9, 2021, President Joe Biden publicly issued sweeping statements and demands that make it clear that, whether they like or it, millions more people will have to get vaccinated or risk losing their livelihoods and security. His posture has been described by mainstream media as “aggressive.” Many alternative news and information sources describe Biden’s actions as righteous, arrogant, authoritarian, and incoherent. 1 Biden asserted that choice and freedoms are not the issue. He dismissed both in one breath. One’s right to consent to something was banished in three seconds. Many have also asserted that Biden does not have the legal authority to make and enforce such top-down mandates. Others claim that his White House speech on vaccinations is full of contradictions and disinformation.

Like Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell and many other capital-centered ideologues and “leaders,” Biden keeps disinforming the polity with the worn-out dogma that economic recovery is largely dependent on getting everyone vaccinated. We are to believe that the broad and stubborn economic failure confronting everyone today is largely caused by the virus and that once the virus is “under control” through vaccines rush-produced by for-profit companies with a long record of malpractice, the economy will soar and flourish. A variety of mainstream news sources have been desperately reinforcing this disinformation for more than a year; they have no interest in economic science.

However, despite an enormous number of vaccinations issued worldwide, despite a large portion of humanity “taking the jab” already, the economy keeps declining and decaying; many serious economic distortions, problems, and uncertainties persist. Inflation, debt, inequality, homelessness, poverty, under-employment, and environmental destruction, for example, appear to be growing. More than one million people per month are still filing unemployment claims in the U.S. alone and job “creation” numbers are superficial and unimpressive. In addition, the U.S. labor force participation rate remains historically low and the number of long-term unemployed remains high. On top of all this, millions of employed workers are living pay-check to pay-check, which means that even full-time employment is no guarantee of security and prosperity. Various surveys also show that large majorities are not hopeful about the future and health of the economy.

It is no surprise that euphoric economic growth forecasts made just weeks or months ago by “leaders” and “experts” are already being revised downward—in some cases significantly. The ruling elite is always embracing magical thinking; they are not on good terms with reality.

It is also being said that large numbers of people will end up leaving their jobs—voluntarily or by being fired—rather than compromise their right to conscience and get vaccinated. This could mean even fewer workers taking available jobs and even more retailers, businesses, and services operating in dysfunctional, disruptive, and unreliable ways without employees. Thus, for example, many nurses, teachers, police officers, and other workers are choosing the right to conscience and unemployment over mandated vaccination. Thousands of businesses are already struggling to fill low-paying positions in the context of constantly-rising inflation and an uncertain future. The American Hospital Association said that Biden’s vaccination plan “may result in exacerbating the severe work force shortage problems that currently exist”. Not surprisingly, some organizations have already started to oppose Biden’s vaccination plan.

The economic depression confronting humanity at home and abroad will not be overcome by leaving major owners of capital in power while workers, the people who actually produce the wealth that society depends on, remain marginalized and disempowered. Economic collapse will not be reversed by funneling more socially-produced wealth to different monopolies and oligopolies, while leaving everyone else with less. Fostering policies, agendas, and arrangements that make the rich even richer is a recipe for deeper problems, not a promising path forward. To date, billions of vaccination shots at home and abroad have not stopped or slowed a range of serious economic problems.

Since the start of the never-ending “COVID Pandemic” more wealth has become concentrated in even fewer hands and more people have experienced more psychological, social, and economic problems. Inequality has soared over the past 18 months.

The current economic crisis started long before 2020 and is rooted in the same contradictions that produced big economic problems before 2020. Even if there were no covid virus mutations, the economy would still be declining because economic upheavals are endemic to the capitalist economic system. Depressions and recessions are not caused by external factors. To claim that the economic system is generally sound but runs into problems now and then because of exogenous forces is nothing more than a way to apologize for the outmoded economic system.

Without major changes, without vesting power in workers themselves, economic crises will keep recurring and deepening. The rich and their representatives have shown time and again that they are unable and unwilling to solve economic and health crises, let alone in a human-centered way.

  1. In December 2020 Biden publicly stated that the federal government should not or could not mandate vaccinations.
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Welcome to the Covid Twilight Zone: Mickey Z. interviews Mickey Z.

When sex offenders can move more freely around New York City than someone who has chosen natural immunity, it’s time to get some things off my chest. And who better to talk with than the person I trust the most? To follow… is a self-interview.

*****

Mickey Z.: How’s it going with the mandate?

Mickey Z.: Coercion is not consent, my friend. And if my hometown is so concerned about our collective health, why don’t they mandate a safe, affordable home for everyone? How about meaningful jobs that pay a living wage? Mandate less crime and more libraries. 

MZ: I get the idea.

MZ: If they wanna control what goes into our bodies, why not insist that organic produce be made available at affordable prices and be consumed every single day?

MZ: I see what you mean.

MZ: Mandate that all lawns be turned into organic vegetable gardens. Did you know that lawn is the single most irrigated crop in God’s Country™

MZ: You’ve made your point. 

MZ: Mandate people not commenting on social media until they’ve done some fuckin’ research. The next person who repeats the “ivermectin is horse dewormer” nonsense trope is the one who needs to be isolated from society.

MZ: Wait… you’re not gonna defend ivermectin, are you?

MZ: I’m not defending anything except adding facts to the conversation. Equine ivermectin — as the name implies — is made for horses. The FDA approved another kind of ivermectin for humans. It’s meant to treat infections in the body that are caused by certain parasites and was awarded a Nobel Prize in Medicine in 2015. 

MZ: What has that got to do with COVID-19?

MZ: You might wanna pose that question to the National Institutes for Health (NIH). They endorsed several studies showing ivermectin can be effective for treating Covid. For example, the American Journal of Therapeutics published a study that found: “Meta-analyses based on 18 randomized controlled treatment trials of #ivermectin in COVID-19 have found large, statistically significant reductions in mortality, time to clinical recovery, and time to viral clearance. Furthermore, results from numerous controlled prophylaxis trials report significantly reduced risks of contracting COVID-19 with the regular use of ivermectin. Finally, the many examples of ivermectin distribution campaigns leading to rapid population-wide decreases in morbidity and mortality indicate that an oral agent effective in all phases of COVID-19 has been identified.”

If you’re interested in more reality, click here and here and here. Read those links closely and then congratulate yourself for knowing more about ivermectin than any corporate media outlet or reporter — from Fox to CNN.

MZ: If ivermectin works, why is it being badmouthed by the mainstream?

MZ: Possibly because, according to the FDA, the only way the Covid “vaccines” could qualify for emergency use authorization is if “certain statutory criteria have been met.” For example: “no adequate, approved, and available alternatives.” If doctors prescribe ivermectin, the jabs aren’t needed and thus don’t rake in billions for Big Pharma (and set the stage for endless boosters). Follow the money.

MZ: Is this why you’re calling this the“Covid Twilight Zone”?

MZ: It’s one of many reasons. The biggest might be the charade of PCR tests.

MZ: Please elaborate.

MZ: The polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test works by converting the virus’s RNA into DNA (coronaviruses don’t have DNA). The PCR process makes millions of copies of the manufactured DNA by running it through “cycles” in a process called amplification. The more cycles run, the more the DNA can be copied. If no copies can be made, theoretically, no virus is present. The test provides a yes-no answer rather than any indication of how much virus was found, how old the virus is, or whether or not the virus is even capable of infectivity. 

The test is so flawed that in Tanzania, it returned positive results for a goat and a piece of fruit! 

The post Welcome to the Covid Twilight Zone: Mickey Z. interviews Mickey Z. first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Why Middle-Class Left Liberals Should Dump the Democratic Party: Finding Common Ground with Socialists

Many of you in the middle class are opposed to socialism. You still think there is some chance for you under capitalism and you fear that the socialists will take what little you have and divide it among the shiftless and thriftless. You need not have the slightest fear. The socialist has no use for your small capital; it would do (them) not the least good. (They are) after the earth, the trusts, and the machinery of production. Besides, soon you will have nothing to divide. When the big capitalists get through with you, you will be ready for us. You may not be ready yet, but you are ripening very rapidly. When you have been stripped of what you have, when you have become proletarians, when you have become expropriated, you will be ready to join us in expropriating the expropriators.

— Speech by Eugene Debs over 100 years ago in Chicago about the middle-class fear of socialism

Orientation

Almost five years ago I wrote an article in Counterpunch: “Lost at Sea: Left Liberals Have No Party.” In that article I challenged the blithe interchangeability of the words “liberal” and “democrat”. I tracked eight historical changes of liberalism from left-liberal, to centrist-liberal to right-center liberals (neoliberals). I also argued that the words liberal and democracy are used interchangeably by liberals, even though it wasn’t until the 20th century that liberals were clearly for democracy (translated as universal suffrage for white males).

The problem with my article as I see it today is that I lumped upper middle-class left liberals with middle-class liberals. Two years later I wrote another article called “The Greater of Two Evils: Why the Democratic Party is worse than the Republican Party for 85% of the U.S. Population.” In that article, I outlined how, since the 2008 crash, the social classes whose wealth grew were the ruling class, the upper-class and the upper-middle-class, constituting about 15% of all social classes. Everyone else was doing worse, including the middle-class.

In my first article I slurred the differences between the upper-middle-class and the middle-class, advocating for both classes to get out of the Democratic Party. I have since come to see (as I will get into later) that the upper-middle-class has done very well under the umbrella of the Democrats and it is not in their material interests to leave. This is no longer true of the middle-class. Historically, the material interests of the middle-class and the upper-middle-class has more in common with each other than the working-class. In other words, the difference between news anchors, lawyers, senior managers on the one hand and high school teachers, librarians and supervisors on the other hand are more differences of degree than kind. After all, they all did mental work, as opposed to the physical work of the working-class. However, in the last 50 years middle-class life has gotten far worse than the life of the upper middle-class. It has gotten bad enough to be able to say it is closer to the working-class. Whether they realize it or not, for middle-class left liberals, the Democratic Party has left the building 40 years ago.

My claim in this article is that:

  1. Middle-class FDR liberals need to leave the democrats and be part of building a new party
  2. Middle-class left liberals need to form alliances with the working-class and the poor, not the upper middle-class
  3. The new party should advocate for socialism

What follows is why this should be so.

Difference Between FDR Liberals and Neoliberals

Left liberal values

Left liberals are broadly for the following. They are pro-science as well as for investing in scientific research and development as well as investing in infrastructure. They are for the separation of church and state as well as for the use of reason in problem-solving, such as raising children through what is called “authoritative parenting”. They support the matriarchal state: universal health care, unemployment, pensions, food stamps and a minimum wage automatically raised to keep up with inflation. They expect the state to intervene in the economy to soften the hard edges of capitalism, following a Keynesian economic policy. They are committed to gradual change and a lessening of race and gender stratification. Left liberals support an expansion of unions. This left liberalism has been present in the United States for roughly 40 years, from the mid-1930s to the mid-1970s.  Since then, Democratic Party has slid further and further right to the point that their platform today is a center-right neoliberal party which embodies none of these values. The problem is the collective denial left liberals have in ignoring this fact.

Right-wing neoliberal values

Neoliberals are directly opposed to the matriarchal state. They support the economic policies of Milton Friedman and Friedrich Von Hayek with minimum state involvement in the economy.  Neoliberals have withdrawn funding from long-term science programs. They have presided over the rise of New Age thinking initiated by Marilyn Ferguson’s book The Aquarian Conspiracy. Neoliberals have become extreme relativists championing the rise of identity politics which began in the early 1970s. Neoliberals have lost hope and have failed to bring the principles of the Enlightenment forward. They have abandoned investment in profits made on manufacturing and instead make their profits on the defense industry, arming the entire world. Under their rein most of the remaining profit is invested in finance capital.

Neoliberals have presided over the destruction of unions over last fifty years.  They have stood by and watched the full-time, well paid secure working-class jobs disappear.  Work hours under neoliberalism have gone from 40 hours per week to at least 50 hours per week for those lucky enough to be employed full-time. In general, the standard of living has declined in the US so that the next generation can expect to make less than their parents. It’s no accident that credit cards became available to the working-class in the early 1970s, so workers didn’t have to directly face the fact that their standard of living had declined. The civil rights movement spoke to what minorities had in common with organized labor, which was low-cost housing and fair wages. Today we have individualist identity politics where being recognized for your identity along with using politically correct language is all that is asked for. In the 1960s, community college was free. In the last 50 years the cost of college education is so high that student debt appears to be debt for life.

Neoliberals have supported the explosion of the prison-industrial complex which has expanded many times over since the 60s despite the rate of crime going down. The police departments have been equipped with military weapons that make the equipment of police prior to the 1970s pale in comparison. They have presided over the growth of the insurance industry and the pharmaceutical companies which now have control over our physical and mental health. The official diagnostic manual was 50 pages in 1950. Today the same manual is well over 1000 pages. Today upper-middle-class parents are no longer authoritative but instead are practicing a form of “permissive parenting”, which easily results in spoiled, narcissistic children, with helicopter parents fretting endlessly over their little darling’s self-esteem. Please see Table A for a comparison.

Differences Between Middle Class and Upper Middle Class

Not everyone is middle-class

In the United States, most people think of themselves as middle-class. Last time I checked 80% of the working-class mistakenly thought they were middle-class. Why? Because in Yankeedom, it’s an embarrassment to be working-class. So too, upper-middle-class people, nervous about being seen as well-to-do, play down their wealth. Nevertheless, there are real parameters around what it means to be middle-class, as I’ll get to. But first the social class composition.

Social class composition

Based on the work of William Domhoff, in his books Who Rules America and The Powers That Be, the ruling-class and the upper-class together compose about 5% of the population. They live off stocks and bonds and don’t have to work. Their investments are principally in oil, mining, the military and banking. They have been characterized as “old money” and are mostly Republicans.

The upper-middle-class is about 10% of the population. They make most of their money off scientific innovations like computers, internet and electronics. They are called “new money” and are mostly Democrats. Upper-middle-class people are also doctors, lawyers, architects, senior managers, scientists and engineers, as well as media professionals such as news commentators, magazine and newspaper editors, college administrators and religious authorities.

The middle-class consists of about 25% of the population. Occupational examples include high school and grammar school teachers, registered nurses, librarians, corporate middle managers, self-employed artisans and tiny little mom-and-pop operations. The middle-class is at the bottom rung of the Democratic Party not well-represented at all.

The working-class is about 40% of the population and consists of skilled, semi-skilled and unskilled workers. The skilled working-class include carpenters, welders and electricians, wait-staff and store clerks who are likely to vote Democrat. Their interests are not represented by the Democratic Party either. The semi-skilled are bus drivers or train operators and along with unskilled are less likely to vote. The last 10% consist of what Marx called the “lumpenproletariat” who live by their wits as prostitutes, hustlers, gamblers or those on welfare. These folks are not likely to vote either.

Income is not the most important determinant of social class: the nine dimensions of social class

When most Yankees try to understand social class, the first thing they think of is how much income a person has. But this is only one of the nine dimensions of social class, and not the most important one. Most of these dimensions are covered in the work of Marxist Erik Olin Wright as well as some of the followers of Max Weber. The first dimension of social class is technical, and this consists of three parts: a) the proportion of mental and physical work the job requires; b) the amount of independence or interdependence the kind of work involves; and c) the proportion of the work that is mechanical rote work versus creativity. So typically, a good upper-middle-class job will involve mental work, be independent from others and involve creativity. At the other end of the spectrum is unskilled working-class labor which predominantly involves physical labor and working with other people, while the work itself is repetitive. Other social classes have various combinations in between.

The second dimension of social class is political and economic authority relations. This consists of two sub-categories. The first is the degree of power the person has over resources, tools, goods and services. A capitalist has control over all these things. Workers usually have control over none of them, except that skilled workers might own their own tools. The second sub-category has to do with the proportion of order-giving and order-taking involved. The owner of a company gives orders and takes no orders. His workers take orders and don’t give orders. Middle-class people in corporations may give orders to workers but must take orders from senior management. This category is simply – who gets to boss around who and under what conditions.

The third dimension of social class is mobility. How easy is it to move up or down the class hierarchy both within one’s lifetime or across generations? The fourth dimension of social class is resources. Most people think of resources in terms of income. But wealth also includes assets such as inheritance, real estate, stocks, bonds and property. Sometimes upper-class people may work only part time, but it would be deceptive to make sense of their class position by some part-time job when they have an inheritance.

The fifth dimension of social class is education. This consists of the number of years of school completed as well as the quality of the school attended. The sixth dimension of social class is status. This is the degree of prestige in which one’s occupation is held by others. One reason why income is unstable as an indicator of social class is that some workers can make a good deal of money, such as unionized garbage collectors, but have low status. Conversely, an adjunct college instructor can have high status among the Yankee population but make significantly less money than a garbage collector.

The seventh dimension of social class is lifestyle and consumption patterns. This has four sub-categories. The first is health – birth and death rates. As many of you know, working-class people die on average seven years younger than people in the middle and upper-middle-classes. The second sub-category is how people dress, their speech patterns, body mannerisms and manners. The third sub-category is their recreational habits – whether they ski, play baseball or go bowling. The last sub-category is their religious beliefs. Religions are class divided. In the case of the protestants, there are the Unitarians, Episcopalians and Presbyterians near the top and Baptists and fundamentalists at the bottom.

The eighth dimensions of social class is the degree of awareness people have of their social class. Generally, the upper class and the ruling class are extremely class conscious and are very fussy about who is allowed into their circles. The upper-middle-class and the middle-class tend to be less class conscious. In countries other than the United States, the working-class is very class conscious. But here in Yankeedom, workers see themselves as “temporarily indisposed millionaires”. The last social dimension of class is the ability to take collective action. Capitalists at the end of World War II and soon thereafter organized a big campaign to win back the allegiance of workers. The ruling class has exclusive clubs in which they organize class strategy. The World Economic Forum and the Bilderberg group are examples. At the other end of the spectrum, when workers join unions or strike, they are showing class consciousness. No social class fits neatly into each dimension. There are what Wright calls “contradictory class locations” where a person is caught between two classes either between generations or within their lifetime.

Why does class count?

Why have I gone over the dimensions of social class in such detail? One reason is to show that upper middle-class people and middle-class people are not interchangeable. They vary in the technical division of labor, authority relations, class mobility, resources, education, status, lifestyle, degree of class consciousness and their willingness to take collective action. They also differ in their attitudes towards the meaning of work, as well as in their attitudes towards time and eating habits. If we want to suggest that the middle-class should break its alliance with the upper middle-class and get out of the Democratic Party, we have to expand and deepen their differences as I am starting to demonstrate.

Summary: two reasons why middle-class left liberal should get out the Democratic Party

Summarizing, the first thing we needed to do is to establish that the Democratic Party is a center-right neoliberal party which has next to nothing to do with being left-liberal. This is reason A to get out of the Democratic Party. The second reason is that the Democratic Party serves the interests of the upper-middle-class not the middle-class. The most obvious indicator of why the middle-class should no longer align themselves with the upper-middle-class is to understand what has happened since the crash of 2008. Both Thomas Piketty and Richard Wolff argue that the “economic recovery” was very class specific. The rulers, the upper class and the upper middle-class have done considerably better in that “recovery”. All other social classes, including the middle-class, have done worse. The middle-class, economically and in other dimensions, is far closer to the working-class than it has ever been. Reason B to get out of the Democratic Party.

But can these two classes really get along? There is a built-in tension and discomfort about doing mental work and physical work; there are differences in the degree of status in the two classes’ occupations.  If we want to move middle-class people and working-class people closer together, we have to understand their commonalities and where the tension points are in their differences.

Similarities and Differences Between Middle Class and Working Class People

Similarities

The biggest similarity between the two classes is a decline in the standard of living. This includes income, work stability, increase in hours worked and lack of benefits. Another commonality is sports. Working-class people and middle-class people can unite around being fans of baseball, football and basketball professional teams. In terms of music, rock or country rock might bring these two classes together. Another commonality is that both classes have what sociologists have defined as achieved status. Unlike the upper classes, they usually do not come into life with an inheritance. Lastly, both classes see hard work as a virtue.

Differences

One of the major differences between these two classes is that middle-class people make their living primarily by doing mental and/or supervisory work. Working-class people make their living primarily with their hands and their bodies. A second major obstacle to overcome is that middle-class jobs usually have higher status. The third difference is that middle-class people often give orders to working-class people, but the reverse is not the case. This can lead to jealousy and resentment among working-class people. Middle-class people are very individualistic and not likely to organize as a class. There is likely to be tension between the classes when the working-class agitates to start a union or take strike action. There are also differences between the classes around the meaning of work. For working-class people, the meaning of work is less important than the money and material benefits. Some middle-class people might trade off a higher paying job for work that seems socially redeeming to them.

In terms of resources middle-class people today are likely to own their own home and have stocks and bonds. Working-class people’s assets are usually a car and possibly a home. Mostly they do not own stocks. Whatever savings account they have, that is it. There are also differences in their health conditions. Working-class people are likely to have eating, drinking and smoking problems and middle-class people are healthier. Working-class people are more likely to go to gambling casinos and play the lottery. Middle-class people see that as a waste of time and money.

Another tension point is education. Usually, middle-class people will have a bachelor’s or master’s degree, while working-class people will have no degree or an associate degree at best. Middle-class people will dress, speak and have manners that will be different from the working-class, and this will produce class tensions. Middle-class and working-class people will attend different religious denominations. Working-class religious services invite submission, confessions of being a sinner as well as altered states of consciousness like speaking in tongues, singing and dancing in the church aisles. In middle-class religions, there is less pressure to make you feel like you are a sinner. At the same time, sermons are designed to appeal to what is reasonable rather than to force you to have a revelatory experience which alters one’s state of consciousness.

Middle Class People Meet Socialists

Surely you are kidding

Let’s suppose middle-class left liberals have enough doubts about the Democratic Party because they are no longer New Deal liberals, and they’re starting to see that the party no longer looks out for middle-class interests. Let’s assume that economic, political and ecological disasters will continue to plague capitalism, and somehow a third party – a mass party – has emerged founded on socialism and is getting up a head of steam. This party has some working-class support as well as some union support. What would it take for middle-class left liberals to join?

Fears Middle-class Liberals Have About Socialists

Dictatorship and one-party rule

In its propaganda war with socialism, capitalists inevitably point out some of what it perceives to be the dictatorial tendencies of communism – in Russia, China and Cuba – as the archetypal example of socialism. What it does not do is study the conditions under which one-party rule occurred and what the authorities were up against. I am not going to get into pros and cons of this here because this kind of socialism – whether Stalinist or Maoist – is only one type of socialism. There are six types of socialism. Starting from the right and moving leftward there are social democrats and then three kinds of Leninists – Maoists, Stalinists and Trotskyists. Continuing leftward, there are left communists or council communists and the anarchists. In my efforts to convince middle-class liberals of the feasibility of socialism I will address as much as I can what most or all of these types are in agreement on. For now, let’s just say that dictatorial rule is not a foundational principle of socialism, even for the Stalinist and Maoist parties that have been called dictatorial by capitalists.

Furthermore, I think it is ludicrous for members of the Democratic Party to complain about the one-party rule of socialists when in Yankeedom there are only two parties. The Democratic Party is hardly democratic when it only serves the interests of the about 10% of the population (Republicans serve the ruling and upper classes) and leaves over 85% with no representation at all. The party I call the “Republicrats”, representing 15% of the population, is one party, the party of capital.

Confusion of personal property with social property

We socialists have a running joke on our Facebook posts, mostly in reaction to over-the-top conservatives who think we want to abolish personal property. We say “yes indeed, we are coming for your tooth brush.” That perceived threat is accompanied by imagining that socialists are all having group sex. But seriously, when we socialists say we want to abolish private property we only mean social property. We want to abolish capitalist control over water, food, energy systems, tools, all the necessities that people need to live. We don’t believe resources that everyone needs in order to live should be privately owned. On the other hand, personal property will remain with the individual as it would under capitalism.

Discouragement of innovation

Capitalism has a very shallow and narrow understanding of human nature. Capitalists imagine that people are lazy at heart and unless the carrot is held in front of people – the prospect of being a millionaire – they will do nothing. Further, they look at the types of “leisure” activities a working-class person enjoys after another 50-hour work week and take those as representing what human nature is really like. For example, on Friday night the worker wants to play cards. On Saturday he watches a ball game and have a few beers and on Sunday he sleeps in. For the capitalist this is lazy. What the capitalist thinks is that if workers did not have to work, then playing cards, watching football, drinking, getting laid and sleeping is all he would ever do. What the capitalist doesn’t understand is that the entire weekend is not leisure at all. Its recovery from the week and preparation for the new week.

Under conditions of socialist work, alienation would be minor – and I am being conservative here. The natural collective creativity on the job will arise. People will work less, perhaps 30 hours a week at first. Because workers will control the workplaces as well as decide what to produce, how to produce it, how much they should work and how they will be compensated, work will be a joy, not a curse as under capitalism. There will be plenty of room for innovation, in fact, much more than under capitalism where most workers are imprisoned in wage labor and told not to be curious and not have their own ideas about how things should be run.

All this collective creativity gives the lie to the ridiculous capitalist notion that people want socialism because they want “free stuff” with no contribution. All socialist plans have a budget and decisions have to be made about what and how the budget will be spent. No one will “get out of working”. What the capitalist cannot imagine is that under socialism people will want to work. The idea of not working would be painful – not liberating.

Equality of poverty

In its heyday, between the 1930s and the 1970s, the Swedish Social Democratic Labor Party was a socialist society which produced great material wealth. The socialist countries that have been showcased by capitalists as poor – the Soviet Union, China and Cuba – were only poor during certain times of their existence. What capitalists fail to inform us of is that before the socialist revolutions, as Michael Parenti points out, those countries were even more poor. What material wealth does exist in capitalist societies has taken hundreds of years to build up. In China today, absolute poverty was eradicated within 40 years.

There will be far more innovation than existed under capitalism because under socialism the workplaces will be controlled by the workers and workers’ activities will be guided by an overall plan. To cite one instance, before Yugoslavia was destroyed by capitalists, Yugoslavian productivity under worker self-management was higher than in any capitalist country. The same was true during the Spanish Revolution under worker self-management in both industry and in agriculture.

People are naturally greedy

Cross-cultural research on happiness has found that there is a direct correlation between money and happiness when people move from poverty to a middle-class life. However, the movement from middle-class to upper-middle-class and beyond is no longer correlated to happiness. In other words, people who are upper class or upper-middle-class are not any more likely to be happy than are middle-class people. This gives the lie to the capitalist notion that people are greedy and that everyone secretly wants to be a millionaire. What is more likely is that people want to be middle-class. They want basics in material security. After that they want other things; creativity on the job, to be able to contribute to society and to be recognized for their work, to mention only a few things.

Socialists will want to abolish religion

I admit that the state socialist attempt to decree the abolition of religion was a big mistake. I also think that doing so was contrary to the principles of materialism Marxists aspire to. While I stand firm in the ontological belief that there are no gods or god, at the same time I understand the degree to which people wish to hold on to religion as an expression of their alienation of social life. As generations pass and prosperous ways of life become normalized, I predict three things will happen. First, more people will become atheists. Secondly, those who continue to believe in religion will notice that the nature of the gods, or god, will change. The gods or god will blend more with the nature we know because social life will be more likely to begin to resemble heaven on earth. Third, the fundamentalist religions that plague many working-class people will disappear because the working-class will no longer consider themselves sinners or need fire and brimstone to make things right.   

Commonalities Between Middle-Class Left Liberals and Socialists

Need for a mass party

We socialists think you’ll agree with us that we badly need a mass party that can speak to the needs of the 25% of us who are middle-class and the 40% percent of us who are working-class. This party will develop a program and a step-by-step plan for implementation of the plan over the next 5, 10 and 15 years. It will be a dues-paying party and we will implement methods for getting input into what the plan will be. The issues will be prioritized, and everyone will have a say in carrying out the plan. Once the plan is set, people will be able to sign up for tasks they agree to carry out over the course of weeks and months. In addition to a thirty-hour work week, approximately five hours per week will be devoted to this “political” work.

Massive support for Unions

We socialists know that you left liberals have supported unions from the 1930s to the early 1970s. However, we also know that it was under liberal presidents that the best organizers of unions, the communists and the socialists, were drummed out of unions in the 1950s. This limited the vision of unions as they turned into “business unions”. We also think you should be very upset with the neoliberals in the Democratic Party who have not supported unions for the last 50 years, causing union representation in Yankeedom to be now less than 10%. We hold neoliberals directly responsible for the fact that wages, working conditions and job security are pretty much last in the industrial capitalist societies. The vision of unions needs to be built back up to the ways of the Industrial Workers of the World who saw unions as workshops for how to run a society, not merely a way to sustain and improve everyday working conditions.

Society can be engineered

Like you, we socialists agree with the great project of the Enlightenment that a better society can be engineered by its members. Unlike conservatives, we do not accept that social organizations should be ruled by kings, aristocrats, priests or any traditional authorities. Neither do we think society is some kind of reform school in preparation for the next life. We also don’t think society is best governed by the automatic preservation of traditional institutions that have been here the longest. Like you, we agree in the notion of progress.

The value of science and technology in producing a society of abundance

Like you we are very disappointed and angry that capitalists have chosen to invest their profits in warfare and in finance capital rather than in scientific research that could make our lives better. We also think you should blame the neoliberals for allowing this to happen over the course of the last 50 years. As socialists we have always felt that the scientific method is the best way to know things and that science is a crucial ingredient in Marx’s call to “develop the productive forces”. For us, the creation of socialism was never any kind of sacrifice or doing with less. Nor are we unrealistic about human nature. We fully understand that the foundation of socialism has to be the production of more than enough wealth to go around. With abundance in place, there is no motivation for stealing or wanting what others have.

The value of the state overview

We socialists are in complete agreement with the value you hold about the importance of the functions of the matriarchically state. We also think it is important that the matriarchal state take over the realm of overall planning. This does not mean that all social production and distribution is centrally planned with no feedback from the local and regional levels. We see the relationship between the three in a dialectical manner. The local and regional levels feed up to the state level what products and services are needed. The state incorporates our feedback but then makes adjustments based on the fact that at the local and regional level we cannot see the whole. Once the state produces an over-all plan, that is then fed down to the local and regional levels. It will no doubt take a number of times for there to be a smooth “cybernetic” rhythm established.

Micro-level – the value of cooperative learning and authoritative parenting

We socialists are well aware that you middle-class left liberals have always supported public schools. Some of the more visionary of you might have had the money to send your children to a Montessori school. Some of you might have heard the name Lev Vygotsky and associated him with cooperative learning, which is used in Montessori education. What you probably were never told was that Vygotsky was a communist and he and his followers, Alexander Luria and Aleksei N Leontiev, founded a whole school of psychology, the “socio-historical school of psychology”. They developed a theory of cooperative learning that has been applied not only in school settings but in the design of social intelligence tests, the development of theories of cognitive development and in working with the deaf. Vygotsky’s work could be massively applied to the fields of social psychology, and possibly to therapy, as one group in New York City is currently doing.

Lastly, we admire the way that many of you have raised your children using authoritative child-rearing methods. You have avoided both extremes in child rearing. On the one hand are the authoritarian methods of conservative child rearing which raises children who are repressed, frightened and lack curiosity. On the other hand, it is the permissive parenting of upper-middle-class neoliberal parents that has turned out a generation of narcissistic, entitled, ungrateful brats who are the product of neoliberal schooling where the focus was on raising self-esteem in every school program. We think the authoritative (as opposed to authoritarian) method with its flexible structure, welcoming of dialogue, appeal to reason, rather than emotion is the best way to raise children. We are on the same page with you.

Deeper Differences between Middle-Class Left Liberals and Socialists

Commitment to an antiwar international policy

We socialists have always been against wars because we know they are usually turf wars between capitalists about resources and that it is the workers and the poor people who do the fighting, not the capitalists. As far as wars go, we know that your class has supported the Cold War and the war in Vietnam. Beyond the 1970s you seem to have treated these wars with less enthusiasm except for perhaps, the war on Iraq. As it stands now, the capitalists in Yankeedom not only make a fortune in military warfare to “protect our borders” but they also arm the entire world. If counties decided to end their wars the capitalists here would be destitute. These wars need to end, not just because of the senseless deaths at home and abroad, but for pragmatic reasons. All this money could go into the trillions of dollars’ worth of infrastructural work that is left undone. Suppose the military was employed on these infrastructural projects. Suppose the military was employed to build low-cost housing in every city. Living in a society of abundance requires the reinvestment in the military from wars abroad to infrastructure and natural disaster relief at home.

Anti-imperialist international policy

We socialists are also against imperialist wars where capitalists invade other countries to steal their political or economic resources, land and labor to make a profit. This can be most blatantly seen in Africa. Yankeedom also continues its imperialist ventures in Latin America, regularly attempting to overthrow governments there. Why? For the simple reason that freely elected governments (socialist or not) may have the nerve to set their own economic policy, which might not necessarily be friendly to transnational corporations.

Yankee capitalists want to rule the world and they don’t want any competition.

China, Russia and Iran refuse to tow the line and have formed an alliance. The Chinese represent the best hope of the world now. Why are they such a threat to the United States? Because they are making a profit through building infrastructures, not just in China but in other parts of the world. China, Russia and Iran have also withdrawn from the US dollar as a use of international currency, which costs the western banks in significant loss of profits. Yankee capitalists are slitting their own throats, and ours as well, by acting like big-shot imperialists fifty years after their time has passed and their own territory is falling apart. As middle-class people we think you can see that nothing good can come from this and we need to rebuild our own society.

Dismantling the Deep State

Unfortunately, most middle-class people don’t know any more about the FBI and the CIA and what these organizations do to promote themselves, including what is on television and in movies. The FBI has upended or ruined the lives of socialists for decades. Their role in undermining the New Left has been documented in David Cunningham’s book There’s Something Happening Here. The CIA is in a class by itself, the world’s most powerful terrorist organization. I will limit myself to three books: The Mighty Wurlitzer by Hugh Wilford; The Cultural Cold War by Frances Stoner Saunders and The Devil’s Chessboard by David Talbot. Funding for these organization should be ended, and the sooner the better.

 Class Dismissed, Where Left Liberals Missed the Boat

For socialists of any stripe, social class has been the foundation for understanding capitalism. The capitalist class makes its profits by exploiting the working-class. As Marx points out, workers produce all the wealth, but they are given only about 40% in the form of wages (the first four hours of their labor) which allows them to support themselves. But the worker works another 6 hours. Who gets the value from that? The employer. The employer uses the rest of the surplus value produced by the worker to pay the middle-class managers, pay landlords for the use of plant and set aside funds to pay the state in taxes. They claim the remainder of the surplus as profit.  Middle-class people have stood structurally between the working-class and the capitalists, giving orders to workers, taking orders from capitalists. There are other social classes as I’ve discussed earlier but the major dynamic is between the capitalist and the worker.

Middle-class people, like most other classes, do not talk about this because class is about political and economic power between groups. It is uncomfortable and middle-class people among others have been afraid to discuss this. Why? Because they feel guilty, that maybe it is their fault they have a better life? Maybe they owe the workers something? Middle-class people need to get over this, because the fact is, you are sliding south, in the same direction as the working-class. In fact, you now have more in common with working-class people than upper middle-class people.

Race relations: Social Movements vs Individualist Identity Politics

Strange as it may seem, middle-class people have been more comfortable talking about race than class. After all, many middle-class people prided themselves as left liberals by supporting the civil rights movement. This was a social movement in which racial minorities joined together to fix objective conditions such as higher pay, better housing, legal rights. I suspect most of you did not know that Martin Luther King, a paradigm of middle-class respectability, was a socialist.

However, since the mid 1970s, but especially from the 1990s on, race relations have turned from a social movement into something different. Identity politics is a psychological spin-off from the civil rights movement with a very different agenda. In the hands of upper middle-class, neoliberals of all colors, including lawyers and university professors, identity politics has been used to win political seats in the Democratic Party. They do this by focusing on the rights of individuals to recognition, the right to be called a certain pronoun and rights to declare being offended by this or that innuendo. Identity politics has crippled the ability of working-class and middle-class people to form alliances by dragging meetings through competitive battles as to who is more offended than whom. When an organization as corrupt as the ruling class Democratic Party starts babbling about “white privilege” it’s time to get off that sinking ship. The mess that race relations are today is made worse by the upper middle-class neoliberals seizing on identity politics. Here is yet another reason to dump the Democratic Party and any alliance with the upper middle-class. A terrific short book that lays out the limitations of identity politics is Mistaken Identity by Asad Haider.

Democracy is economic and participatory more than political representation

Middle-class left liberals in the 20th century have thought of democracy as synonymous with voting. Democracy was having the right to vote for one of the two major parties. For socialists this is a sham. Both parties are ruling class parties and workers have nothing to say about what candidates are running and what they will do after the election. For us, democracy is economic. We think it is ridiculous to imagine we live in a democracy when we go to work to be bossed around from beginning to the end of the day by the employer. For us, democracy begins and ends in the workplace. Workers should have a say in what is produced, how it is produced, where it is distributed, how long we work and how we are compensated. In addition, within socialism democracy is also present by its involvement in city planning. This includes participatory planning councils at the local level, participating in setting agendas and deciding how city revenue should be spent. Under socialism, political parties will still have their place, but they will operate under direct democracy, not representational democracy.

The future of capitalism

All socialists are against capitalism except for some right-wing social democrats who believe in a mixed economy. For us, capitalism is a system plagued by crises and inherently unstable. Various Marxist crisis theorists have developed theories about how and why capitalism will end. Even non-Marxist political economists have theories about how it will end. Please see my article “Name Me One Capitalist Country That Works: A Thirty Year Reckoning” for more sources. Where I think we can agree is that capitalist profits should not be made on wars, or on fictitious capital. It is the neoliberals, not you, who have made profits on fictitious capital and wars over the past 50 years. Rather, capitalist profits should be made on the production of goods and services. We still think that eventually capitalism will fail even if it only produces goods and services, but we can’t convince you of that until we are further down the road.

What is the place of competitive markets? Some of you might feel that having markets is a better mechanism for quickly finding out what people need and how those goods and services have been delivered. As Michael Parenti writes in Black Shirts and Reds, the central planning mechanisms in the USSR were no bargain. At the same time, we know that during the Spanish Revolution, the workers and peasants self-organized in industry and on farms for 3 years, covering millions of people and had better production records than the Spanish government had before the revolution. So, our choices are more than choosing between the state and the market. In the new society perhaps there might be a minor place for markets instead of state planning or worker planning, but the markets should never be among the major players. We can do better than markets.

• Published first in Socialist Planning Beyond Capitalism

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