Re: Genocide

Mon, 22 Jun 1998 13:47:39 EDT

Interesting (unsigned) reponse from GKlotz@.. to my comment on how we on the
left need to mobilize around the oppressions & destructiveness rooted in
capitalism. Some thoughts... --wonder what others think about this:

>I assume you are talking about now (not the Viet Nam war period) and the USA.
Yes I am talking about now, but not by any means exclusively about the USA.

>There are surely many people who feel that there are huge injustices in the
>"system", that the distribution of wealth becomes more and more inequitable,
>that environmental destruction is more threatening, that nuclear proliferation
>endangers us etc. but I have not really heard anyone these days offering any
>viable alternatives. How can you raise consciousness about an "evil" if you
>cannot show at what point the functioning of this evil could be altered to
>produce a better society. This cannot be abstract.

Well, I think there's something to this; if there's no "referent" that one can
allude to in critiquing well known & experienced evils (at one level, the
"alternatives" to inequality is much greater equality, to environmental
destruction is an end to this destruction, to nuclear proliferation is
non-proliferation; I realize this is partly a dodge of the issue, but it is
organizationally relevant to tap into these human desires & show how they are
linked to global capital), it makes the job much harder! But my referent would
not be a blueprint for economy X, but a belief in the power of democratization
--in all facets of daily life-- creating greater awareness, empowerment, and
possibility. I think most Americans, at least, have a gut sense for the
language & meaning of democracy, even if it isn't the same as "radical
democracy" (and certainly isn't, because of a huge bipolar (by US & USSR)
propaganda campaign, "socialism"). I think most people can resonate with the
idea of having a say, feeling others should have a say --a REAL say; and most
have a very real sense of being manipulated throughout their daily lives by
those who offer the illusion of having a say. The market, itself, rests on
this illusion (i.e., consumers are empowered and their "demand" "decides" the
direction of social outcomes...). At this level, yes, it has to be concrete,
local, experience-relevant. But, at the same time, there is the abstract side
--the larger, global picture, the interconnection of issues, etc. -- that are
CRUCIAL parts of any mobilization campaign. Organizing efforts by the likes of
the New Party and Labor Party (and Greens), among electoral options, are at
least potentially examples of this.

> In the 60's we were aware
>that capitalism had created a good life for the workers in most capitalist
>countries. And the workers definitely knew it and supported the system.

Well, I'd put this somewhat differently. Capitalism had created a relatively
"good" life (materially) for many (hardly all! --one of capitalism's
imperatives) workers, no doubt. It did so because
management made a "deal" with labor in the postwar years: higher wage
concessions in exchange for (mangerial) control over microeconomic & workplace
decisions. Of course, the OWNERS profited from the "WORKERS' side" of the deal
because the higher wages were intended to drive up consumption demand within
the domestic economy. Nowadays, things are different; in the global economy,
this interest (nationally) is much less relevant, but there are signs
(recognized by mainstream economists) that there is serious overproduction in
the global economy, producing sharp deflationary tendencies. How does global
capitalism get itself out of this without "paying off" global workers
(problematic, given the huge unevenness/inequality in global wages) or
tripping the globe into steep recession. Not sure.

But I don't think THIS (below) was the problem in the 60s re. mobilizing
around capitalism:
> No one was able to offer economic alternatives at that time.

You're right that some looked to the East, indulging themselves in a rather
high level of fantasy in my view. But I think the reason there was not real
mobilizing around capitalism was because the economy was steaming along during
the 60s and early 70s. THere was plenty of disenchantment with capitalism,
competitive atomism, etc. but the really keen oppressions & issues of the time
were the war, racism, and sexism. I was only suggesting that today, the
really keen & growing "oppression" & destructiveness emanates from global
capitalism, thus, in THIS sense, the lords of capitalism are doing a good job
of assisting organizing efforts, not "showing us how to get rid of capitalism."

[>I don't see that the lords of capitalism are doing a good job of showing us
>how to get rid of capitalism. Please explain this.]
Ted Morgan

Department of Political Science
Maginnes Hall #9
Lehigh University
Bethlehem, PA 18015
phone: (610) 758-3345
fax: (610) 758-6554