Slaves of Capital; Social democracy

9 Jul

Below represents my notes on reading up on Marx recently. I am looking for a better theory of “Social Democracy,” which seems to be the only acceptable political solution to the twin problems of 1. hegemonic capitalism and 2. the permanent state of war brought to you by the D of D. So here goes:

Notes on Econ, or “Slaves of Capitalism”

“If you tell people the truth too clearly, they won’t believe you”

Thesis

: It is the corporate elite that run Amerika. A CEO can start with $140,000 and be in the top 10 percent of salary earners, ie ‘slave-drivers‘. This upper class runs Amerika, just as Britain has its upper class of ‘Aristos‘. The truth about the “American class system structure ” is simply not told publicly, or at least is not told too clearly.

Inequality

is the essence of life in the USA. Society, indeed, produces inequality. So why does no one, virtually, protest the way that things are? Is it because people are misinformed? Is it because they’re afraid, a bunch of consumerist “sheep”? Is it because they’re apathetic, indifferent, and just don’t care? Where is social solidarity?

“We’re free” the press declares. President Bush agrees. The consensus is overwhelming. But are we in fact “free”? And define what you mean by “freedom”!

After World War Two, the US had six percent of the population, but produced fifty percent of the world’s goods. There was no question who had won that enormous conflict. America’s competitors lay in ruins. But that was then… now the entire economy of the world has been shown to be vulnerable, out of the control of the White House, and certainly out of the control of your average Joe.

During the Oil Crisis of 1973, it was proven that the US’s position was far more vulnerable than it had been perceived to be previously. In 1974, median family income was $40,000. In 2008, it was just $45,000, according to my sources, after taking into account the decline of the dollar, “median family income’ has remained stagnant (Lou Dobbs)!!

Median family income went up from 43% from 1960 to 1974, a tremendous boom that went on despite the Vietnam War.

People worked harder, and society seemed to be improving. Progress had occurred, and America, if not for the riots and the Vietnam War, was the envy of the world. The Consumer Society was working, but at the price of an horrific war! But, after 1973, it started reversing those gains, after the Oil Crisis showed that the US was vulnerable because it was dependant on OPEC. Society during the 70’s started to have a massive nervous breakdown, along with ‘the family”, the car companies, the White House, the Army… everything seemed to be shuddering with dysfunction and collapse.

As if that weren’t bad enough, we endured the Reagan era, when all the gains went to the top ten percent. And then the Bush I era, which gave the world its first major US-led war in over twenty years. WE Suffered through two major wars on the subject of who will control the Gulf’s Oil. “No blood for oil’, was the anti-war cry, but it went unheeded. Neither Bush I nor Clinton could alter the calculus of oil dependency in our economy.

If Americans perceive that their way of life is stagnating or slipping away, since it is dependant on cheap oil, reasonably priced autos, and corporate profits, then how long will it be before signs of mass discontent start to show themselves? The Seventies were a period of ‘stagflation’, and of the beginning of America‘s economic decline. Certainly New York City began to decline, in terms of the quality of life.

What will the coming decade bring? This unanswered question terrifies half the population. Post-industrial Amerika may be morphing into the end of the “rising tide of prosperity” America of smiley-face Ronald Reagan. We may be witnessing now the destruction of the American way of life .

According to Karl Marx, Capitalism contains the seeds of its own destruction. The worker sells his time and labor to the capitalist employer, who pays him just enough to keep coming back for more (wages). The “democratic system” really serves the interest of those who employ the masses, who merely vote to perpetuate the system that brings great wealth to some — and “not enough‘ wealth to the worker.

In order to keep the economy going, new machines proved to be the key to productivity. Machines increase productivity and the profit margin of companies, leading to the creation of an excess of consumer products which must be used up if there is to be further production. “Use and throwaway” is the nature of the post-industrial economy. If there exists a lack of consumer demand for a product within nation number one’s borders (demand must be stimulated by advertising), then this requires that colonial markets have to be ‘conquered” in order for nation number two’s masses to consume the surplus of what nation one creates. If Americans don’t buy the number of cars produced, then foreigners have to begin buying them– or else the corporation is in trouble. If Americans don’t buy the amount of oil that keeps the Arab Gulf States profitable, then they will either go out of the oil business, or have to seek “new markets” i.e., China and the developing world. The problem is that the incomes of Chinese and the people of the third world are too low for there to be enough cars bought and oil consumed, leading to a “crisis” such as we are presently experiencing. These are the problems of the globalization of the economy, under which workers have neither protection nor ‘rights‘.

The deflation of the currency hurts the worker. The value of a dollar declines by half over 10 years. This can only lead to mass discontent and dissatisfaction, which may lead to who knows what form of mass behavior? Drugs and religion and TV help prevent the emergence of any mass awareness of what is really going on. Sinister, isn’t it?

Finance capitalism, meaning banks and investment houses. Managerial capitalism, meaning corporate America. These exist at the top of the food chain, along with doctors and lawyers and politicians and those who control the mass media.

Society is structured like a pyramid, and those at the top of the economic pyramid*, ‘the ruling class’ create the soft media that helps brainwash, or persuade, or influence, the masses.

In 1980, the top ten percent‘s share of all taxable income went up by 1/3 or 1/ 2.

Reagan gave away the store to the most powerful of the powerful, and helped turn America into a veritable banana republic. “Thirty-four to forty-six percent of taxable income went to the top ten percent of the wealthy.” Ten percent controls almost fifty percent of the wealth. If that isn’t a banana republic, then what is? While median family income declined or stagnated, they made a staggering thirty-three percent profit. And this applies only to ‘taxed income’, ie ‘revenue’.

Whom are we all working for, anyway? The labor of the poor feeds the rich.

By 1970, Annual rate of growth was near zero. Before that, it was five percent. Inflation was at six percent. Inflation ate up the gains made unless one had invested in something that “beat the system”. Gold, perhaps. Property. Or companies, which utilize tricky accounting procedures in order to realize gains and avoid taxes.

The top one percent of 15,000 taxpayers made 26 million dollars in income. One percent owns sixty- two percent of private business income. One percent owns fifty-one percent in stocks. One percents owns seventy percent of bonds. One percent owns the store

!

Half of America is “working class”.

They will NEVER share in the wealth that accrues to the few. “Trickle down economics” — my foot! The rich get richer, as they say, and the poor get… babies. Or abortions. But they don’t gain in the share of the pie.

And who in government looks out for the interests of this class? Perhaps, no one!

What are TV, radio, media, et cetera, except ‘spreaders of false consciousness’? Has no one ever asked why the US government had such a nauseating spasm of hysteria over a few alleged communists during the fifties? Is it because they were not so much afraid of the communists, as of the population discovering the truth about society? Hmm?

The film, “Network” touches on the diabolical pyramid structure of Amerika. The character Howard Beale very clearly analyzes how the elite controls society, and use television as a means of increasing its own power at the expense of the truth. He enunciated the whole process by which Gulf Arabs, large corporations, large banks and big media profit off our society. Is government protecting us from them? Of course not! They can buy government off!

American post-democracy, or pseudo-democracy, is what we live under. A regime in which the people are powerless to alter their situation. How did Ancient Rome control its heavily-taxed working class? With Bread and circuses: i.e. welfare and television. When that method began to fail, they instituted the Christian religion, which more or less succeeded in pacifying the masses.

——————————————

Marx’s Kapital: Surplus value, or the excess value created by the worker.

Exchange value: the amount of labor used to create the product.

Use value: the usefulness of the object (commodity)

The difference between the value of products of labor and the cost of producing them (value- cost). Subsistence wages, or the near starvation of the worker, was what helped keep the system in place. Marx wrote also on the ‘dehumanizing effect of money’.

Capitalism signifies the exploitation of the workers.

Alienation; the existence of wage-labor is based on the violent separation of the masses of producers from control over the tools and instruments with which they work.

The capitalist machine

: US steel, standard oil, gulf, Swift, Armour, general foods, AT&T, GE, Westinghouse, Alcoa, Anaconda, DuPont, American tobacco, GM, RCA.

It all comes down to “Who owns what and whom?”

They want only one thing: to keep the working class working, ad perpetua, ad infinitum. We’re being used like guinea pigs on a fucking treadmill.

Marx posited that there is a structure to society, built on private property.

On top, was the aristocracy. In the middle, the bourgeoisie, or ‘middle class’. Below them was a mixture of the working class and the poor.

———————————————————————————————————-

“The ruling ideas of each age have been the ideas of its ruling class,” Karl Marx.

 

 

 

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