Correspondence

(CV #48, June 2013)

In this issue we include three guest articles from activists who have submitted material to Communist Voice for publication. These activists have varying viewpoints, but are united with us in opposition to the exploiting capitalist order. One is William Hathaway, who gives an overview of the situation facing us and what must be done. Another is Christopher Helali, who denounces the present order and its opportunist apologists, but says little about the nature of the present limited struggles that face us today. And there is also a satire by Timothy Bearly, a writer known to the readers of the anti-establishment journal of working-class literature, Struggle magazine. Bearly’s lively story ridicules the free-market ideology of libertarianism, but it doesn’t deal with the struggle that inevitably takes place over how government programs are carried out. We are faced with a struggle not just over whether there will be government social and environmental programs, but what influence the masses will have over them, whether they will be privatized or otherwise directly captured by big business, and who will benefit from them. Also, the prologue, in setting the stage for the satire, presents matters as seen through the ordinary media commentary, with the Democrats and Republicans being extremes of left and right. Actually, they are the twin parties of big business. Bearly has written us that he is agreement with both these points.




The Last Days of the Lilliputians

by William Hathaway

In Gulliver’s Travels the tiny Lilliputians attacked the much larger Gulliver while he was sleeping and tied him to the ground with thousands of threads. In a similar way the ruling elite have tied the working class in bondage. Small in number but great in power, the elite have designed myriad mechanisms of control to hold the much larger working class down and force it to work for them. These include institutions such as mainstream politics, media, schools, labor unions, police, courts, military, and patriarchal gender roles. They also include emotionally laden concepts such as rugged individualism, a false image of socialism, and the very way we conceive of social class.

This last, the encultured view of ourselves, robs us of our class identity. Very few of us consider ourselves working class. The term has been made to seem a musty relic of the nineteenth century, synonymous with lower class, a disreputable band of losers who are to be feared and perhaps pitied, but certainly not to be identified with. Instead we are offered a hierarchy of many classes: upper, upper middle, middle, lower middle, and last and certainly least, the lumpen lower. Within these we are fragmented further by conflicting differences: ethnic, religious, gender, life style. We’re supposed to identify with our niche and our job and to strive to move up or at least not slip down in the hierarchy. But more and more of us are slipping down, losing the few securities we had. In our bewildered anger we find allies only within our isolated niche, so our struggles are ineffective.

Almost all of us are in fact working class. Everyone in the world who has to work for someone else for the essentials of living is working class. Only when we join together in solidarity will we succeed.

The elite have also fragmented us geographically. The most exploited are far away from the centers of power and thus invisible to us except for media images of illegal aliens storming our borders or insurgents attacking our soldiers. They live under the heel of authoritarian governments held in power by the rich nations and are forced to work under deplorable conditions. The wealth extracted from their labor has enabled the corporations to pay their employees in the home country better wages, thus minimizing discontent here and stimulating consumption of their products.

That economic arrangement is changing, however, as global competition intensifies. Selling in the world market has become more important than selling in the home country. Competing globally requires low prices, so corporations are slashing wages and benefits. The international working class is being leveled. Our task now is to unite and overthrow the elite that rules us all.

This elite is composed of many nationalities and has many internal conflicts. They even make war on each other when economics demands it. But they always recognize their overriding interests as a class, and they will do everything in their considerable power to defend those interests. We, the workers of the world, need to recognize and defend our own class interests with as much determination as our rulers.

They have designed a political system in the USA that ensures their power monopoly. The candidates of both major parties represent their interests. Through corporate financing, winner-take-all elections, ballot-access laws, and slanted media coverage, they effectively exclude alternatives.

To break free of their political control and build genuine democracy, we must delegitimize in particular the Democratic Party, which exists to channel potentially radical discontent into dead-end streets. The Democratic Party is the graveyard of social movements, capturing people’s hopes for fundamental changes, then burying them. It produces only superficial reforms that strengthen capitalism.

Each of us should examine the parties and organizations on the left, find one that matches our orientation, and actively support it. Just being angry at the system isn’t enough. Unless we are organized and militant, a viable alternative to the capitalist parties won’t emerge.

Labor unions, like the Democratic Party, have become merely reformist. They have been purged of any anti-capitalist leadership and now serve the same function on the economic front that the Democrats serve on the political front: to convince the working class to accept the dictates of capital. Union leadership collaborates with employers to worsen the conditions of their members. They have become functionaries of capitalism and are richly rewarded for it. Workers are going to have to build an independent base of power that will throw out this bureaucracy and militantly confront bosses worldwide.

The reformism pushed by the Democratic Party and the labor unions is reinforced by the liberal media. They foster the idea that the system is basically good but just has some problems that need to be fixed. This is appealing because it’s easy. Instead of revolution to replace the system, we just need to repair it.

Reforms have in the past improved a few conditions. Social Security helped stave off abject poverty in old age, and Medicare helped protect a family’s savings from catastrophic health costs. From the 1950s to the ’70s unions were able to force through higher wages and better working conditions in many industries. But these hard-fought reforms are being reversed now because of capitalism’s need to reduce prices to compete with emerging industrial powers such as China and India. The pressure of international competition is being shifted onto us, the workers, and the Democrats and unions are implementing that. In this new economic reality, reformism has become a coward’s dream, a way of avoiding the unpleasantness of protracted struggle. We need to abandon its delusion and prepare to fight for fundamental changes that will replace oligarchic capitalism with democratic socialism.

Another thread that binds us is the image of socialism that has been burned into our brains. We are continually persuaded that it means brutal dictatorship, concentration camps, no freedom, a slave state. To counter this, we need to criticize the regimes of the Soviet Union and China and point out that they weren’t socialist. The totalitarian tradition in their cultures and constant attack by the capitalist nations kept them from achieving anything close to real socialism. In many cases the government took over as the exploitative boss, and the workers had little power. Real socialism means economic democracy, where we decide together how our economic life will be organized. It puts the resources and productive capacity of the world in the hands of its people, who use them to meet human needs rather than to generate private profits for a few owners.

We are educated to serve the system: to be obedient, to respect authority, to fit into a hierarchy. We are channeled into learning skills the corporations need, and our labor has become just another commodity. Our deepest interests and talents often remain undeveloped, unrecognized even by ourselves. This won’t change until students, parents, teachers, and other workers come together and educate one another to take power.

The mass media exist to control the masses by shaping our perceptions of reality. The pap they feed us switches off our brains, so we can’t analyze society as a system. Instead of thought, we are offered a dazzling array of personal emotions and sensory stimulation to distract us from the bleak reality of our lives.

Their entertainment and news fixate us on physical violence, so we don’t perceive the structural violence that causes it. We get lurid, fear-arousing accounts of violence committed by ghetto youths and Muslim guerrillas accompanied with commentaries calling for tough measures to combat these vicious berserkers. We get no accounts of the structural violence of poverty and oppression that capitalism and imperialism have created there. It’s this built-in structural violence that generates the physical violence.

The corporate media exist also to stimulate greed and consumption. Capitalism divides us from one another, and the isolation imposed by this false separation generates insecurity and a sense of incompleteness. It creates hollow personalities craving to fill an inner emptiness, then it comes to the rescue by promising satisfaction through consumption. First it causes the void, then convinces us to fill it with things -- beautiful, fascinating, sexy things. Lots of them. And so much the better that they never really fill our needs, because then we need more of them.

Alternative publications such as Communist Voice are awaking people from the stupor induced by this mainstream propaganda. They deserve our support.

To escape from the mental manipulation, we must strive for inner self sufficiency so we won’t need all that garbage the media is selling us. This self sufficiency has its basis in our shared humanity, and if we tune in to that, the superficial substitutes of commercial products and entertainment will lose their appeal. A good way to combat such conditioning is a consumer strike. Buy as little as possible. Turn off the television. By overcoming our need for entertainment, we can develop our own authentic creativity. When we’re not consuming as much, the planet will breathe a sigh of relief. Instead of hiding behind fashion, jewelry, and cosmetics, let’s face the world as we are and let the beauty of our defiance show.

The media create images and myths that reinforce the existing ideologies. Rugged individualism, for example, validates the "every man for himself" ethos of capitalism. The belief that we are isolated beings striving for our own gratification is an axiom of our society. Men are particularly enamored of it, taught to identify with the mountain man, the lone wolf, the entrepreneur.

The separations between people are easy to see: each of us inhabit a different body. Our connections are much more fundamental, but they are invisible, so a shallow culture like ours doesn’t perceive them. We can overcome this by centered ourselves in our connectedness and acting from it. In our lives and in our art we can demonstrate the deeper commonality that underlies our surface separations. Our genuine individuality can be best developed within this context.

Reinforcing traditional masculinity is one of the chief ways in which the elite seek to keep the working class on its side. They exploit the fact that many men cling to maleness as the last power left to them. Working-class men have almost no say over their work lives; machismo has become their only realm of agency. This is exploited by elements of the media, who portray leftists as intent on rendering traditional males extinct. Admittedly, there’s a grain of truth in this. We need to resist traditions of dominance and aggression, whether practiced by men or women. The real attack on working-class men, though, is coming not from leftists but from economic forces that are increasingly constricting their lives and limiting their possibilities down to low paying, exhausting jobs. The rage this generates in them is deflected by the media towards leftists, feminists, and minorities, who are actually the core opposition to those economic forces.

We need to show traditional men that socialism will give them economic security and power in the work place. When they have that, they won’t need to dominate their wives and children. If they persist in doing so, society has to prevent them from that. The dominator mentality is a pathology we must overcome.

Gender politics by itself won’t build socialism. In fact in many cases it ends up serving capitalism. But gender studies can help break the patriarchal mold that keeps producing the same authoritarian personality type. It opens up new possibilities and fosters psychological diversity. By showing that our categories of feminine and masculine aren’t natural but cultural, it calls into question the naturalness of other institutions. It helps us see that capitalism also is not an inherent necessity but rather a product of social forces open to change. Gender subversion can lead to political subversion.

The enforcement mechanisms of society -- military, police, and courts -- are the bottom line of oppression. All three are licensed to kill and do so regularly. The military are the spear carriers of capitalism. Their job is to defend and expand the empire, and they slaughter millions for that goal. The police live up to their motto, “To Protect and To Serve”, but they are primarily protecting and serving an oppressive social structure, defending property and its owners against attacks by the deprived. The courts are run by judges who are for the most part members of the elite. They are the final arbiters of punishment, locking up anyone who threatens the system, primarily poor minorities. They have created an American gulag, an egregious, ever-growing prison-industrial complex that crushes those who dare defy its rules.

We need to show the soldiers and police they are workers too. We all have the same basic interests and the same common enemy: their employer. If we win enough of them to our side, they will stand with us rather than against us when a revolutionary situation develops. Winning the judges to our side is unlikely. Most of them are ruling class. We’ll probably just have to find some socially useful work for them, like sweeping the sidewalks.

Our rulers (yes, we really do have rulers) try to convince us that there’s no solution to humanity’s problems, no alternative to the way things are now. This is human nature. Get used to it.

Fortunately the international working class is refusing to get used to it. It is resisting this new wave of impoverishment the corporations and their governments are trying to force onto it. Our bound Gulliver is starting to awaken. It knows now it is fettered and is testing its strength against these bonds. In some places it has already broken a few. The rule of the Lilliputians is coming to an end. This won’t happen quickly, though. A long struggle lies ahead of us. But the tide has changed and is now running in our favor.


The uprising began in the Muslim world because they are under the most direct imperialist attack. It has spread to the NATO countries, the chief instigators of the attacks, because their populations are having to pay the bills for this war through social cutbacks and lower wages. As the uprising spreads globally, the elite will do everything they can to crush it. They will try to divide us and make us fight one another. They will offer tempting reforms and compromises that will allow them to maintain ownership. They will bribe some of our opportunistic leaders with promises of token power if they cooperate. They will jail us. They will even kill some of us. But if we persist, holding to a militant rather than a reformist course, we will eventually free ourselves of them and build a system that emphasizes the humane in humanity. This is our time, an historic battle for liberation.     <>

The author of The Last Days of the Lilliputians describes himself as follows:

William T. Hathaway is an adjunct professor of American studies at the University of Oldenburg in Germany. His latest book, Radical Peace: People Refusing War, presents the experiences of peace activists who have moved beyond petitions and demonstrations into direct action, defying the government’s laws and impeding its ability to kill. Chapters are posted on a page of the publisher’s website at http://media.trineday.com/radicalpeace. He is also the author of Summer Snow, the story of an American warrior in Central Asia who falls in love with a Sufi Muslim and learns from her an alternative to the military mentality. Chapters are available at www.peacewriter.org.



Correspondence:

Millionaires of the World Unite! The tides are turning!

By Christopher Helali

The present state of affairs can be summed up as follows: the rich are enjoying the spoils of their vast economic war transpiring across the world at the expense of the working class. This may seem all too obvious to most of us, but what the hell is going on to fix it? Our politicians are inept and the political will is in a state of apathetic hibernation. Have we forgotten that feeling of what it means to consistently fail in a system rigged in favor of the elite? Where has that spirit gone to fight back? Has everyone here capitulated the struggle to end global capitalism? With a new year before us, we have some tough questions to ask ourselves, each other and all leftist anti-capitalist movements.

The “secluded life” of elites today, what Harvard professor Michael Sandel calls “skyboxification,” indicates the destruction of the commons, the tearing of the social fabric that once allowed all classes of the population to interact. Yet, with all of this economic perversity before us is it not the case that there is a strange feeling of disavowal, as if the American Dream is still a possibility for all of us to achieve? This illusion, promised to all, is the cornerstone of the American experience. It is ridiculous to believe that there ever was a dream to begin with, noting that the illusion was created as a means of control, by who other than old, rich, white men. Yes, those that support the dream will say “oh but they were good philanthropists” or “look he grew up poor.” Sorry, but one out of hundreds of millions does not make it a universal, in fact, the system is bought for and controlled by the plutocrats.

The quandary posed here is nothing new. In fact, it was the same thing that plagued the International as well as all Leftist parties since their respective inceptions. To rephrase Lenin’s classic dictum, “What is to be done?”…what are we to do? We are confronted with two obvious facts. The social-democratic movement, advocated by Bernstein, which is the model for much of the European continent, this pseudo-socialist “welfare-state,” is in collapse. The welfare-state is attacked on all fronts by the emergence of financial capitalism, something Lenin indicated as a hallmark of the imperialist nature of the “financial oligarchy.” Likewise, the revolutionary strategy and subsequent dictatorship of the proletariat, as advocated by Lenin, collapsed under the revisionism of Stalinism and “socialism in one country.” Concordantly, the final bastions and outposts of State Socialism are suffering tremendous stress from the globalization and imperial nature of capital. With two choices and two indications of failure, we can extrapolate a key truth, the absolute power of the capitalist system. Here I will give a classic quote from Mao Zedong’s work On Practice which states: “If a man wants to succeed in his work, that is, to achieve the anticipated results, he must bring his ideas into correspondence with the laws of the objective external world; if they do not correspond, he will fail in his practice. After he fails, he draws his lessons, corrects his ideas to make them correspond to the laws of the external world, and can thus turn failure into success; this is what is meant by ‘failure is the mother of success’ and ‘a fall into the pit, a gain in your wit.’ ”

Is this not what our objective is today? Listen, the old models need to be updated and reformulated for the current system and our duty is to ensure we remain true to the revolutionary potential embodied within the Marxist-Leninist tradition, the radically transformative vision of a future beyond commoditization, alienation and the domination of the market.

With capitalism rearing its ugly head more so now than ever before, we must be prepared with our swords and sickles to cut its head swiftly and decisively. However, like the mythical Hydra of Ancient Greece, we must be fully prepared to face a counterattack from the forces of capital that will unequivocally re-double in both strength and force. The past years have taught us the power of the politico-ideological system that is centered in the West. What have the “signs from the future,” these events of the Arab Spring or Occupy Wall Street indicated? They have shown that portions of the population below the surface of the ideological superstructure are struggling against it in all facets of their lives.

Take for example Egypt. These past months have indicated that a segment of the Egyptian population has taken on the role of a vanguard. What is clearly discernible is the fact that a revolutionary consciousness has set in among the thousands of protesters in the streets of Egypt who are willing to sacrifice everything. This new vanguard, comprised of secular and liberal segments of the population is focused on balancing the increasing power of the new “pharaoh,” and thereby continuing the transition to a people’s democracy. The public outcry over the ongoing power struggle between the executive and the judiciary is indicative of the political consciousness and revolutionary drive of the people. Apathy, the greatest counterrevolutionary force, has not set in amongst a portion of the population set on continuing the revolution to the end. While in the end, the Muslim Brotherhood and President Morsi have regained control and won the constitutional referendum, we cannot dismiss the outcry against these measures as in any way a failure. Quite on the contrary they indicate the breaks within the superstructure, the areas that we must focus our entire revolutionary will.

While our situation in the year to come seems daunting, we must continue to put all of our efforts into the struggle. We must not give an inch to capitulation or apathy. Any revisionism that is antithetical to the goals of the working class must be dismissed as opportunism by the ruling elite, the most notorious provocateurs, who seek to co-opt our movement within the broad ideological foundation of the capitalist system. Once again we must realize that the system itself, capitalism embodied, is the structure that perpetuates inequality, war, perpetual conflict and crisis. The idea that we can give capitalism a “human face” and turn it into a better, more equitable system, is contrary to the basic nature of truly existing capitalism itself. Ask the capitalist theorists themselves who fully acknowledge the natural inequality within the system and project this pseudo-evolutionary vision of positive ethical egoism. We must be opposed to all compromise to change capitalism into something more equal and focus on the move to a transition to socialism. The urgent necessity for a broad, national and international labor movement is existentially critical for the trade unions still struggling against the plutocracy.

We must be ruthlessly critical, steeped in theory and focused on praxis to further enhance the revolutionary movement, thus moving the course of history towards the zero point and the liberating potential that awaits us.    <>

Christopher Helali is a member of the armed forces who describes himself as “an Adjunct Professor of History at MassBay Community College and a Graduate Student studying political theory, theology and philosophy here in Boston”. <>


Correspondence:

A Laissez Fairy Tale

By Timothy Bearly

Prologue

It was the during the early 21st century when the political tension between the far left and the far right reached it’s breaking point. Hyper-partisan squabbling and perennial gridlock between the two diametrically opposed parties was resulting in a United States Congress that was as sterile as a mule. The nation was in desperate need of a change, in desperate need of an In-vitro-injection. Because with the polarized country pitted against itself in a perpetual game of tug o’ war--the delicate strands of rope that precariously bound the nation together--were about to snap.

One of the hot topics of the day was the pervasive issue of individual liberty. Many people felt that the government was becoming too intrusive, too involved in their personal lives. Poverty was rampant, and with an increasing percentage of the unemployed focusing their anger on Capitol Hill, the plutocrats were hoping to tap into the frustration. Not wanting to be regulated, the would-be robber barons endeavored to convince the members of the middle class that the solution to these problems was to decentralize and ultimately dismantle the government.

This is the story of the subsequent events that were about to transpire.

*

“Don’t give me that statist bullshit!” Joe howled at his coworkers.

“If you believe in Keynesian economics, then I have some land in Chernobyl that I’d like to sell you.”

Workplace arguments concerning politics were a regular occurrence at the Rutherford Chemical Company. Everyone had their own opinion about what needed to happen in Washington, more of this, less of that, you name it. But the volatile atmosphere always subsided when the president of the company, Willard M. Rutherford, was on the factory floor--in which case everyone pretended to be a right wing, gun toting, bible thumping, proponent of deregulation and Trickle-down economics. Not Joe though, he didn’t have to pretend. He was a bona fide true believer.

Indeed, Joe had Ayn Rand Kool-Aid and the blood of an irate elephant pumping through his congested veins. Of course, he would allege that the ones “drinking the Kool-Aid” were the commies on the left. But that’s the ironic thing about those who have an affinity for the triple-bonded, powdered concoction: Kool-Aid comes in many different flavors, some people prefer the red, some people prefer the blue...and some people--with a 32 oz. cup of The Jim Jones Special in hand--hypocritically assert, “the opposition is drinking the Kool-Aid!”

Oh yeah! Its always the other guy who’s the cult member. Its always the other guy who’s being brainwashed by some silver-tongued, pied piper. Not us...never us.

Joe had worked at the factory for much of his adult life, 12 years in fact. Now, at 36 years old, he wondered like so many others, “where had all of the time gone?” A man who always lived beneath his means, he was hoping that by now he would’ve had some money socked away so that his kids could go to college. Unfortunately, after the economic meltdown a few years earlier, he and his wife lost most of the money that they had invested. Albeit they took a substantial hit during the financial crisis, they were still doing ok. Neither wealthy nor destitute, Joe and his wife owned a modest 3 bedroom home where they lived with their two children, a son named Matthew and a daughter named Mary. A seemingly perfect family, complete with a suburban home (far away from the ghetto), a luxurious station wagon (with a “Don’t tread on me” sticker on the bumper), and adorable children (with biblical names). Yeah, it was the quintessential life...the life of a proverbial average Joe.

*

Notwithstanding his cookie-cutter middle-class life, Joe was not a happy man. He was deeply concerned about the people who were conspiring to lead the nation down the path to China. He had a disconcerting and vehement conviction that the influence of the founding fathers was being overshadowed by the influence of Karl Marx. He believed, thanks to the literature given to him by his boss, Mr. Rutherford, that communism was a cancer that needed to be rooted out. In the latest book given to him, “Working like crazy, to support the lazy,” Joe read about “The leninist scourge” and “The government neoplasm,” which has metastasized to such a degree that the whole system must be extirpated. According to the books author, “unmitigated deregulation is the chemotherapy we must ingest if we wish to treat this otherwise terminal condition.”

You’ve heard all the rhetoric before:

“The insidious bureaucratic tentacles of the regulatory octopoid are strangling productivity and smothering economic growth.”

The author reaches even deeper into his treasure trove of old chestnuts:

“The progressive tax system is enabling the indolent parasites to freeload and essentially steal the fruits of labor from the hard working and productive members of society.”

These are some of the reasons, Joe believed, that we needed to be worried about the future of our children and grandchildren.

“We need to get the government out of the way,” he contended.

“This company cannot afford any more taxes and regulations!”

Well...at least that’s what Mr. Rutherford wanted his employees, like Joe, to believe. It was a deceptive method of convincing them to act against their own interests.

To Mr. Rutherford it was simple, the smaller the government was, the more leverage he and the Rutherford Chemical Company had. Without government he wouldn’t have to worry about those pesky health and safety regulations--which ultimately diminish profit.

The anti-government rhetoric was merely a pretext, the moral imperative of “individual liberty” was an elaborate ruse. Mr. Rutherford wasn’t really opposed to authoritarianism, he merely wanted to be the one wielding the bludgeon. But could he reveal this to his to his employees? Of course not. It was necessary that he maintained the illusion that he actually valued their lives. It was important that he convince them that the government was the enemy--lest they focus their animosity on people like him...and the members of the modern landed-gentry.

But unbeknownst to the faithful stalwarts like Joe, government was actually the reason that the Rutherford Chemical Company was required to supply respirators to their employees when they worked with hazardous chemicals--such as sulfuric and hydrochloric acid. Government was the reason workers were paid overtime. Government was the reason Joe was allowed to take paid paternity leave. Joe didn’t spend too much time thinking about these legislative benefits though, and that’s why he was Mr. Rutherford’s favorite lap dog; they tend to favor the ones who don’t think too much. Thinking, after all, is detrimental to believing what you’re told and falling in line.

Mr. Rutherford was not only a shrewd business man, he was a cunning propagandist. His ability to convince others to do and say things--things that they wouldn’t otherwise do or say--was a talent he possessed that would’ve made the likes of Joseph Goebbels cringe with envy. Just like the politicians he seemingly despised, Mr. Rutherford understood that it was much easier to control his subjects by appealing to their baser instincts.

Hanging on the wall in break room of the Rutherford Chemical Company was the famous “Lunch atop a Skyscraper” photo. The caption beneath it read:

“We are working men, We are men of virtue!”

The obsequious ones, like Joe--who was conditioned for obedience after 4 years in the military--were easily persuaded to unyieldingly drudge in collective harmony for the betterment of the company. Although Mr. Rutherford contended that collectivism was an enemy of “rugged individualism” and resulted in the “subjugation of the individual to a group,” he promoted steadfast Interdependence in the workplace–a patent contradiction few seemed to notice.

Fortunately, for Mr. Rutherford and Joe, the zeitgeist was beginning to shift. The immense gravity of the new zeitgeist was forcing capricious pendulum of public opinion to sway to the far right. People were sick to death of the intrusive nanny state. They were at their wits end with the central government telling them how to live their lives. “Big government” was finally about to become passť. Statism was becoming a thing of the past.

*

The bloodless revolution began with jarring austerity measures--cuts to just about every government institution except the military. The idea that government spending was out of control had gained so much momentum that the newly elected members of the house and senate were able to pass the “John Galt act” and the “no more freeloaders act,” which essentially gutted Medicare and Medicaid. Unlike previous legislation, which usually had Orwellian titles--such as the “patriot act” or “right to work,” the new members of congress were no longer bothering with pretenses, they didn’t have to, they had the support of the majority.

The safety net, minimum wage laws, and OSHA regulations, which ostensibly impede job growth, were next to go.

“The teat sucking welfare queens are finally going to have to learn to be self reliant,” Joe contemptuously told to his coworkers.

“God forbid they actually have to work for a living!”

*

Mr. Rutherford, per usual for a man of means, didn’t like to be referred to as rich, he much rather preferred the euphemistic alternative, “job creator.” Just as it was necessary that he fool others into believing he was a self-made man (although he inherited the company from his father), it was also incumbent on him to paint a picture of himself as a magnanimous man-of-the-people--who’s chief concern was not the bottom line, but creating jobs for the citizens of the community.  “If my taxes weren’t so high I would be able hire more workers,” he would reiterate, cunningly omitting that he wasn’t creating any jobs with the millions he had socked away.

Now, with no more burdensome taxes and regulations to worry about, Mr. Rutherford would ostensibly be in a position to create more good paying jobs, or so it would seem. But, no longer bridled with minimum wage laws, the first thing the Rutherford Chemical Company did was cut employee pay. Workers who were once paid $7.25 an hour were now paid a quarter of their previous wage for doing the same job.

“It is necessary, if we want to compete abroad, that we cut employee pay.”

Herein lies the catch 22: jobs were being outsourced to China. The solution: make the conditions for our workers the same as they are for workers in China. There is no need to have a product manufactured oversees if you can pay someone in this country 30 cents an hour to manufacture it. And if the health and safety regulations are resulting in jobs being sent to China, then just eliminate the health and safety regulations! It was quite simple really. And with the safety net gutted, there would be millions of desperate applicants who had no choice but to work for mere pittance.

As it turns out, jobs were actually being created, and at a rapid rate. All of that “job creator” talk wasn’t bullshit. Deregulation was in fact the cure to unemployment. Unbridling the free market, and allowing businessmen and entrepreneurs to copulate--without being forced to take regulatory contraceptives--was the key to the propagation of jobs. But one fundamentally important question remained unasked: what kind of jobs was this fledgling Anarcho-capitalist creature actually giving birth to?

But there was some good news. The triumph of the libertarians meant that now the government was no longer “protecting people from themselves.” Now, if people wanted to dope themselves up, pay money for sex, or ride a bike without a helmet, then they were free to do so. Finally the people were free! finally the people had true liberty--or so they thought. Unfortunately, the liberties gained appeared to be proportionally offset by the liberties lost, and as the workers began to notice their rights slowly being consumed by the unchained free market beast, some began to raise questions.

“Government sector, private sector, we’re merely trading one tyranny for another!”

Joe scoffed at such tripe. He was no statist, he didn't want to be a slave to government, he wanted to be self reliant!

“If you don’t like it here then move to China,” he parroted.

*

Years passed. Land and wealth became more narrowly concentrated. Federal and state boundaries began to break down and private boundaries were being outlined, boundaries with which the  plutocrats--who now owned vast tracks of land--essentially had absolute control over the people who worked and/or resided on their property.

No more government intrusion. Consequently, no more government protection. Now the primary function of government was, in the words of James Madison, “to protect the minority of the opulent against the majority.”

With record profits at the Rutherford Chemical Company--due in part to the decrease in pay and job safety--Mr. Rutherford was now able to purchase a quarter of the state of Idaho, basically the entire panhandle. Subsequently, the people who worked at the Rutherford Chemical Company now rented their homes from Mr. Rutherford as well. Payment was conveniently deducted from their paychecks, it was sort of like wage garnishment.

The beauty of this new system was the outward appearance of “Voluntaryism.” So, maybe the proletarians didn’t have the opportunity that the aristocrats had, perhaps the impoverished had no choice but to sign a contract. But it wasn’t like anyone was holding a gun to their head.

By engineering and fostering an artifice of free will, the new oligarchs were able to effectively keep their subjects oblivious to their own plight.

Eventually, what was once known as the united states, became known as the United Federation of CEO’s. And instead of the nation being divided into 50 states, there were now 88 corporately owned and operated territories, which ranged in size from one million to one hundred million acres. Now, with government out of the way, the laws depended on the whims of these neo-feudal lords.

In the case of Mr. Rutherford, he had his employees held in hock with high rent and low pay, insuring he had more control over them.

But ol’ Joe, he was as happy as a clam... as long as he wasn’t living in Red China.

Unfortunately, when Joe placed the hackneyed, “Don’t tread on me,” decal on the rear bumper of his station wagon, he had erroneously concluded that government was the only manifestation of tyranny.

Epilogue

Fortunately, with the abolition of the central and local government, there were no more freedom-inhibiting taxes to pay. Albeit, there were now “tolls” that were paid for using privately owned infrastructure, and “fees” that were paid to the landlords--who were also the employers, legislators and enforcers. But was this taxation without representation? Of course not--how could it be? The people weren’t even being taxed.

Was it subjugation? Of course not...how could there be subjugation without government?

This was freedom, Herbert Spencer style--unmitigated, laissez-faire...freedom!

Joe didn’t want to live in communist China. Moreover, he was worried about his children and grandchildren living in a country where exploited factory workers toiled 14 hours a day in a sweatshop. Thank God for the Western world!

Joe succumbed to emphysema a few years later--a condition certainly brought on by decades of working with toxic chemicals. Sadly, he wasn’t able to see his children and grandchildren come of age in the new Reaganomic wonderland, he wasn’t able to teach them about the virtues of the unbridled free market. But, no matter, his family was able to witness, firsthand, the splendor of a governmentless world.

Yeah, maybe there wasn’t any class mobility in this modern--Gilded--age, maybe it was impossible to buy a home or save for one’s future. Maybe this was feudalism with a new name. But Joe’s indoctrinated family felt fortunate to be living in a “free” country--a country where Joe’s son, Matthew, could sell his organs to rich people...and his daughter, Mary, could prostitute herself (to Mr. Rutherford) without worrying about the intrusive nanny state getting in the way.

Despotism, just like Kool-aid, can be manufactured in many different flavors. Sometimes, when a particular brand becomes too sour for the citizenry, it becomes necessary to engineer a new concoction, to create something sweeter for the palate, something with a more delightful smell and a less transparent shade. Ultimately, the goal of all despots is to deceive their--cyanide-drinking--counterparts into yearning for that which is ultimately toxic to them.

I wonder if Joe would be proud of the dystopian blend he helped brew up.    <>


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