New book by Richard Wolff, “Democracy at Work – A Cure For Capitalism”. On the back it says “It speaks to those who realize that capitalist economics and politics as usual have become intolerable and who seek a concrete action program.”
I find this really, really, really irritating. We live now in a society whose people cannot remember what they read or heard ten minutes ago. But the situation has the analogy that A has stuck a knife into the side of B, and what we see B do is every few minutes or so say “I have this sharp pain! I see A is sticking me with a knife! I should do something about it – after I reprogram my cellphone.” B reprograms his cellphone (because we understand how crucially important this is, right), and promptly forgets the business with the knife – until the pain again reminds B.
Well, then, B is a moron. It doesn’t matter that B has been made into a moron by the puerile culture of obsessing over handheld devices; B still has the choice of observing that B’s attention span has been shaved to the thickness of paper, and changing his or her lifestyle to free themself of the cause of their attention deficit. But the commercial propaganda has converted attention-distracting inputs into “hits” to satisfy some indefinitely-induced addiction, and the public is more interested in checking their text messages than they are in fixing their fucking Democracy, because they have been reduced to this by the total paralysis of our political system. “There’s nothing in it for you to try to change things, because you’ll try and you’ll try and you’ll jump so high, but you’ll never make it over the wall.” And the cowed and beaten public just takes it, and takes it. Mussolini would find this an easy place to manipulate, because our people are every bit as submissive as the Italians were back then. Go ahead and abuse us – have wars, kill our children, kill other people and their children, make us pay for it, and tell us we can’t have a fucking thing to benefit people or society because all the money had to go to pay for the war. And the vast majority of us sit back, watch TV, and do Jack Shit Nothing about it – war after war!
What’s irritating about that quote from the back of the book? Between the lines one reads that awareness that Capitalism Sucks is somehow “new” – as if only now, by about 2010, are people finally discovering that maybe Capitalism is not working properly. Like DUH! And Not Hardly. Andre Gorz in “Strategy For Labor” gives the same analysis in 1964. Sidney and Beatrice Webb in “The Decay of Capitalist Civilization” give the same analysis in 1923. Walter Weyl in “The New Democracy” gives the same analysis in 1912. Laborers in the 1880‘s wanted the Railroads nationalized due to these same abuses. Karl Marx is famous for the same analysis in 1850. And other ‘Socialists’ had been complaining of the same things by 1823 and earlier.
People have been complaining about the Classical Economic endorsement of Laissez-Faire Capitalism ever since it was first advanced by David Ricardo! Try 1820!
So wake the fuck up, people – A has been sticking the knife into the side of B for 200 years and you have the gall to think you’re discovering this only now?
Moreover, does it immediately become blindingly clear that “let’s just try to fix the rough edges” of Capitalism is no answer? The only reason we have a Welfare State now is that the rich realized that keeping us working 14 hour days, 7 days a week at below-subsistence wages would guarantee a revolution in short order. So they threw us some crumbs, and beefed up the Middle Class just enough to buffer them from the mass of poor, shat-upon people.
Wolff is going to address some form of anarcho-syndicalism. The back cover says “Wolff’s compelling new manifesto advocates an alternative based on workers themselves directing their workplaces.” Okay, fine, let’s hear about it. But please, please, O pretty please, do not think this is anything new. Anarcho-Syndicalism was the answer of revolutionary Anarchists more than 100 years ago. All we have to do is wake up to the fact that people have very well known about all this agony AND they have known what the solution was, for 200 years!
And see that all we have to do – is finish what they started!
Get the Rich out of Power.