Archive for September 16th, 2009

“Class War”

No, not talking about Notre Dame this time (although there does appear to be a war for the classrooms). [End hyperbole]. This article is the latest from Rick Wolff in MRZine, in which he argues that capitalists have been engaging in a class war since the 1970s (and have been pretty successful):

Across the same 30-year period, the productivity of labor kept rising: the average worker produced ever more output for the average employer to sell.  Thus, capitalists’ revenues rose relative to workers’ wages.Capitalists used those rising revenues to intensify class war on US workers.  First, capitalists weakened their adversaries by lending one portion of their rising revenues back to US workers as high interest “consumer loans.” […]

Second, capitalists used their rising revenues to finance (1) the relocation of production and other facilities outside the US and (2) computerization of production…

Third, capitalist boards of directors used another portion of rising revenues to raise salaries and bonuses for upper-level managers (including themselves), people who contribute significant sums to politicians favoring conservative, pro-business laws and regulations…Official politics shifted rightward even when mass popular opinion, when polled, clearly pointed elsewhere.  Politicians understood that their careers and policies could not survive the money flood that capitalist corporations and rich upper-management personnel could pour into campaigns against them.  They reacted to facts that workers increasingly did not learn about, let alone finance and participate in, politics (emphasis his)…

Thus, while majorities supported ending involvement in Iraq, large US forces remain there.  A majority now opposes the Afghanistan occupation, but the administration proceeds.  A majority favored government help for ordinary people alongside helping banks, insurance companies, etc., in the economic crisis, yet we have no real solution for the foreclosure disaster and no public employment program for the millions laid off by private employers…

Yet this class war — focused on shifting income, wealth, and power from workers to capitalists — cannot take from workers their most powerful weapon.  Workers produce and deliver to their adversaries the resources then used against them — that difference between their productivity for employers and their wages from employers.  The dilemma of capitalism is this contradiction: the workers that capitalists hire, exploit, and struggle to dominate are the same workers on whom they depend for the means to hire, exploit, and dominate.

Class war flows from capitalism’s deeply embedded structure that pits capitalists against workers…But class war was not only a result, it also helped cause real wages to stop rising in the first place…

In times of prosperity as in times of crisis, capitalism entails class war.  Only system change will end that.  Capitalists have fewer reasons to change the system.  Workers remain, as always, in position to make the break.  Meanwhile, they suffer the consequences of not doing so.

It is not uncommon these days to read liberals in the blogosphere and op-ed pages decrying the fact that corporate interests have captured reform (health care reform, in particular). For whatever reason, this discussion rarely occurs on class terms. OK, that was a dodge…it’s not “for whatever reason,” but instead because it is anathema in our society to discuss any issue in terms of class. Even reference to a group of people as “capitalists” is rarely seen. Is class war the root of our political and economic problems? If so, what are the consequences of nobody in the mainstream talking about it? And finally, when will this veil be pierced?


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