It's strange because while growing up a chubby stutterer in the western section of rural Iowa, my father repeated a certain phrase many times. The phrase at hand went "Communism is perfect on paper." He didn't mention (at least according to him and much of the western world) communism had never worked in application. It was to be inferred. He built it into the phrase.
My father is also a staunch conservative. He is a member of teh self-loathing poor whose been convinced to vote against his own social and economic interests. AGAINST HIS OWN SOCIAL AND ECONOMIC INTERESTS!
Obviously, that is not the version of the story for which he'd account. He'd say he votes his core beliefs--not selfishly, like so many--and that he's a proud and honorable citizen. I'd say he swallowed the grapefruit-sized like the self-loathing poor has collectively swallowed. I'd say he's convinced that some day his piece of the money pie might be considerably larger, and when it miraculously is, he doesn't want such high taxes on the wealthy. I'd also say it's twice strange he'd even accept the prize of being 'selfless.' Selflessness, as I understand capitalism, is of very little value. I guess I just don't understand the value of being selfless when one is going to live in envy of monetary wealth.
But that's me.
(And if only for the record my father makes upwards of forty-five thousand dollars a year. So the "self-loathing poor" doesn't even have to be in true impoverishment. It's the envy of monetary wealth and idea of one's own shortcomings in a fair system being the reason for one's low economic standing that distinguishes the self-loathing poor. My father has worked for twenty-three years at the largest meat processor in the United States (Tyson Foods) and still bounces a check from time to time. Twenty-three years of loyal servitude has not gotten him past living paycheck to paycheck. On December 27th the Tyson Corporation increased their chief executive's salary fivefold. They increased the former chief executive's compensation fourfold. This was their reward for returning the company to a profitable year after losing 196 million dollars in 2006. They saved all this extra money by cutting 1200 jobs and closing plants. When I told him what a profitable year his employer had, I also asked him if he or any of the guys in his department had gotten a bonus. "Nope," he said. But he wasn't sore about it. He thinks it's fair. He presumes these guys are just worth more than him. I just wonder how he swallowed a grapefruit.
But that's me.)
And what about that comment about communism?
Did he ever believe it? Did he want me to believe it? I doubt it on both fronts. It sounds more like something he'd heard and decided to repeat. But whatever the reason for the continued utterance of that statement during my childhood, I have to in some way credit my father (though he'd say blame) for my becoming a socialist.
I am a socialist.
All communists are socialists, but not all socialists are communists. I don't think I'm a communists, but Marx was certainly correct that "the working man has no country." And communism could be great. What could be better than a society full of people treated, payed, loved, empowered, regarded, seen, judged, jailed, employed, fired, fucked, rewarded and valued with a fundamental sense of justice and equality in regards to one's well-being? Very little. In this country, and for folks like my father, it is enough to have heen created equally.
All men are created equal. This is a phrase you're quite familiar with if you've grown up in the United States of America. It is very sparsely questioned. It is to be accepted as a truth. But according to our forefathers (ane some of our current fathers) that phrase didn't even cover anyone gay, a woman, black, Native American, not in possession of land--essentially if you didn't look like the guys writing the document, you probably weren't treated equally no matter how you were created. And is it just me or is this phrase also a good loophole through which capitalism can drive its poor-crushing cash car?
If all men are created equal, then it's your fault you're not a millionaire. You're just weak. You're simply not strong enough for this world. You should be grateful you're being given a life full of allegiance to servitude with low wages, poor health care, and very little standing in society. After all, a lot of people in history have had it much worse than you. This "it could be worse" attitude is another reason for such a high population of self-loathing poor.
They hate themselves for not being rich. It is a prescribed inferiority. My father and people of his ilk assume blindly that most rich people made their money honestly. I think it's both possible and likely that many of today's millionaires made their money by means of honesty, hard work, and risk-taking. But I don't even reserve a chance for that being the story for the majority of them. How could it be? People in the business of making money make as much money as they can make as quickly as they can make it. They do what's easiest. And it seems far easier to make money by corner-cutting, and human rights-violating than through hard work, loyalty, and an unwavering allegiance to servitude.
This lie is an especially easy one to fall under considering the times it has proven itself true. There are stories like that of Clarence Thomas who was born to a poor single mother and found him self on the country's highest court. Or Bill Gates and Ted Waitt, both of whom dropped out of college to start technology-based companies that earned them billions. But these people are teh exception. It is a plain and true fact of capitalism that not everyone can do this. Otherwise, on whom will we collectively kick the spit, cum, and blood of everyday life? (It is at this point at least worth mentioning that while Bill Gates ought be applauded for his ingenuity and philanthropy, he is a textbook 'good capitalist.' Microsoft has been scrutinized and even stood trial for trying to squash all competitors through, at best, coercive means. So even Bill Gates can only become who he is by holding down the next person who may try to emulate him.)
I wonder how they did it. How did they perpetrate this lie on so many? Why are there so many people content with their shitty little plot of land in the coldest part of the country working for a place taht sees them as more of a liability than a human resource? It was a very calculated lie. If you can get people to idolize money, then you've got the carrot, and, of course, that makes us the donkeys.
Furthermore, if you isolate them and keep them distrustful of one another, you have instilled the capitalistic mind set of "every man, woman, and child for his or herself." That makes it difficult to get people to work together. They stay insulated and disenfranchized instead of pooling together the only power they have: the power of numbers. The working poor is the lifeblood of the trillions of dollars made in this country and we don't get to see hardly any of it, save that wagged in our faces tauntingly. But it's our fault I suppose. The system is fair. We were created equally.
Someone once said "Labor produces wealth, and that wealth belongs to the producers thereof." I hope that in my lifetime that statement starts to ring even remotely true in application in stead of in theory alone. We have a simple choice as I see it. Should we compete, or should we cooperate?
The root word of capitalism is capital (i.e.-money, land). The root word of socialism is social (i.e.-society, one's fellow man). I don't think the only solution to this mess we're in is a violent overthrow of the powers that be. It would take on a change in the collective conscienceness of the working class, only to become more trusting, and aware.
Like Maggie Rice once said:
"I'd rather be working for another day, than another dollar."