I find it difficult to listen to those who are the “news” people on television, even those who supposedly reflect the more “liberal” perspective, the folk who “report” for MSNBC, for instance. I believe this is because I am experiencing a most visceral revulsion for what pretends to be liberalism but is really about something impossible, benign capitalism. Capitalism, of the kind that is the capitalism the world has experience over several hundred years now, is, for its basic mechanics, pernicious, inhumane, and lethal. Yes, communists have killed in the millions. The beneficiaries (and even many who are its victims) of capitalism regularly point to the brutality of communist regimes, always to the brutality and hardly ever to the goals and the good good numbers of human beings have experienced as a result of communist policies–food in bellies, roofs over heads, medical care for the many–such coming at a price, no doubt, the most insufferable cost in degrees of freedom of the sort that we who like democracy believe to be essential to living life decently.
But, then, those freedoms are not readily available to all–perhaps most–who live in countries that profess to be democratic while doing more to serve capitalism than individual freedoms. There are good numbers of people in constitutionally democratic societies dominated by capitalism who do not have access to the freedoms the constitutions afford them, the right to an equal voice in the discourse that leads to the decisions that shape people’s lives in those societies, for instance. Good numbers of people in those societies do not have access to proper medical treatment, healthy food, and decent housing. They are not afforded fair and just treatment under justice systems that favor the rich over those of modest means and, particularly the poor. It costs a lot to be well represented in the courtroom and those who have get whether they deserve it or not.
Underlying all of the injustices found in modern day capitalist “democracies” is the kind of voice in government that comes with education that works to develop individuals ability to make sensible decisions, to understand the system well enough to affect it in meaningful ways, to have enough political power to influence the way in which government and law work. Those who do not have much are at terrible disadvantage in these societies that proclaim liberty and justice for all.
For hundreds of years now, the capitalist forces in the United States of America have had their way with the people, capitalists and their allies doing what was necessary to insure that those who had would continue to have and always at a high cost those who had less and little. The people’s government became the government of the haves and the haves used that government to insure their would be enough of the population with so little as to believe never having enough was their lot in life. At this present moment in the history of the United States of America and other capitalist nations that shared a pretense for democracy, the force of capitalism for capitalists and their allies is not enough to get enough even when they possess most of everything including wealth and political power because, now, political power is something purchased and not at all a right of those living in these “democracies.”
The “news” people of whom I spoke at the top of this piece, they do not work for the people, for the general population. They are paid large sums of money by companies owned by shareholders and, as with all companies, it is the shareholders who must be satisfied if the company is to remain viable and retain its ability to pay its employees the salaries to which they have become accustomed. Indeed, as they are entrusted with helping the public understand what is going on in the world, that trust is violated when these people are beholden to masters whose goal is make money for a particular group of others and not the whole of the people.
So, though it might upset a good many people, amongst them a good many of the screwed-over by capitalism and capitalist, to read an article that begins by talking about the theory of Karl Marx and his predictions for the inevitable end of capitalism, it is worthwhile to make the effort to look at the current state of this nation and the world in which it exists, through the lens that Marx provided, not so that one can become a communist necessarily, but so that he or she can begin to realize–admit to–the travesty that modern day democracy has become under capitalist regimes, so that thinking about different paths to meaningful prosperity can be taken, paths to societies that work to advance the quality of life of all human beings and not just a few at the expense of the many.
Chris Hedges for Truthdig, January 1. 2017.
“The president-elect represents the late stage of capitalism, when corporations, no longer able to generate profits at former levels, pillage the government and society for profit.
“The final stages of capitalism, Karl Marx predicted, would be marked by global capital being unable to expand and generate profits at former levels. Capitalists would begin to consume the government along with the physical and social structures that sustained them. Democracy, social welfare, electoral participation, the common good and investment in public transportation, roads, bridges, utilities, industry, education, ecosystem protection and health care would be sacrificed to feed the mania for short-term profit. These assaults would destroy the host. This is the stage of late capitalism that Donald Trump represents.”
3 replies on “Communism is the ugly?”
I think I would agree with most of what Morgan has to say. He points to reasons for why things are the way they are and that is necessary. The next step is to help others understand that it is not the communists or the socialists or the Muslims or the Russians whoever else gets blamed who are making life something less than good. It is us, people who live in nations declaring democracy, who have, as you discuss, been convinced that what is good in life are the things you can get with money. The deception works because it is so overwhelming as to block out the other things that are better than what can be bought, or should be available to all, even those with little money to spend. Sadly, some of those things have been made to cost, good education, for instance, access to information (it costs to link up with the internet and it costs to get college education. It costs to get cable-not a necessity, but a source of all kinds of information, good and bad, relevant and irrelevant. So much that is valuable to understanding what is going on in the world is not free–think of theater and music, for example. In communist Cuba, there may not have been as much available but, what is available is available to pretty much everyone and much of it is just plain good. What needs to be won are the minds of the people who make up the public, not to propagandize and not to pander but to convince them that engagement in the process of coming to know is the most human of activities. Once tried, so satisfying as to make one want more and more and need less and less of the stuff being sold on TV and the internet. Knowing more, the process of coming to know more, ultimately involves relationships with other human beings and coming to know them as contributors to one’s own knowing is to come to know their humanity. I taught to such ends but was rebuffed in my efforts by students and colleagues alike, all hungup on what is being advertised. They and the rest of the American public need to be weened but, even in a half crapped out democracy, it is their choice as to how they will live their lives. As K. Howe argues, what a good educational system does in a democracy is help people attain the skills, knowledge, and attitudes that allow them to make good and sensible decisions. That is why I continue to write, always hopeful that some of what I think may become a viable part of the public discourse.
I hauled three loads of concrete to UNR today–behind the buildings at the corner of 9th and Record. I had to stand outside the truck and dump the concrete into a concrete pump. The pump kept plugging, so on three different occasions I had to stand for over an hour each time in the rain and wind. I was cold, but I am now at home drinking Irish Creme bourbon, thinking and typing.
“. . .may become a viable part of the public discourse” –Lafer
The thing is that, even though you are a teacher of teachers, your challenges to the school system are not considered legitimate by those in charge of the school system. The elected officials, who are suppose to represent the common people, have, with their commitees, formed their “standards.” And so this is now the “standard,” in fact, formed to please the common people!
I’ve participated in several forums on-line, and it is always interesting to me when you consider who participates and who never does. Usually, the so-called experts never participate. I think, mostly, because they do not want to look like fools! It seems that they know that those outside the system do have a legitimate grief, but the myths and the “standards” which are now like hollowed cannot be challenged—it’s like a canon of Scripture—it is the “measure.” Canon means measure. The formation of the Bible was called the “canon.” You see, you can’t challenge the measure—then there would be no way to measure!
We’ve been lied to in the most subtle ways. It would by nice if someone would debate.
Back to Communism is the Ugly
An unregulated or deregulated capitalism defeats democracy. Those few lucky enough to do well and get rich end up ruling over the rest of us like dictators. When profits become the end of the capitalistic religion, labor simply becomes a means to that end, and so those in charge with the power do everything they can to get and manipulate labor to work as cheap as possible. For capitalism to work, we have to ask first of all: for who? Is it suppose to work for those who hold the monopolies or is it suppose to work for all? If the end of capitalism is to make the most descent lives for the most people, then it must be regulated with that end in mind. At the present capitalism is responsible for using and abusing labor in the most cruel ways: foreign and domestic. Further, it is responsible for the sad state of the Middle East and the terrorists which are a by-product of that state of affairs.
And, as capitalists never tire of hurling insults at socialists and communist, capitalists are more to blame for the rise of socialism and communism world wide than any other entity Karl Marx’ ideology was a reaction to the cruel capitalism of his day; the Russian Revolution was a revolt against the failure of capitalism at the hands of the Tzar; Fidel Castro and Cuban communism was a reaction to the cruel Western policies of capitalism before him; The F.AR.K. Rebels of Columbia are also a reaction to cruel capitalistic foreign policies. Salvador Allende’s election and his policies to nationalize many of the industries in Chile was a revolt against capitalistic foreign powers abusing their power in his country; however capitalist over threw him and installed a ruthless dictator–Pinochet. Prime Minister Mohammad Masaddeq’s election and subsequent nationalization of the oil fields in Iran was also a reaction to the way Western capitalists abused their power in his country, but he was also overthrown by capitalists and a ruthless dictator was put into power there as well—The Shah. There would be no socialist or communist ideology if it were not for the failures and cruelties of unregulated capitalism.
An unregulated or deregulated capitalism defeats democracy. The result is dictator like leadership: running the government and running the workplace. Myself, I think I am in the middle. I am not a strict socialist or capitalist, but it is the mind that sets up a strict ideology as the “canon,” the measure of everything else; that is the one who is dangerous, and it never enters such minds that they are dangerous to the rest of us—yes, they think they are our protectors! Little do they know that the measure they set up isolates them from new and better ideas and alienates them from some of the most intelligent people.
Who is the real educator?
‘The “news” people of whom I spoke at the top of this piece, they do not work for the people, ‘ –Lafer
I’ve been reading Edward P. Morgan’s book, “What Really Happened to the 1960s, How Mass Media Culture Failed American Democracy.” [Have you read it?] I’m going to try to make his point in my own words:
It is the general media—who’s values reflect the governing elite. The main value is that consumerism is good and things make people happy, and the media reflects the myth that the system works equally for everyone, so any story which challenges that myth is not a legitimate story worth telling. Anyone unable to measure up to what the system requires is simply not trying hard enough, so most media down plays socialistic ideals and movements, and then exasperates the situation by extolling the lone heroes. So, not only are people trained to think that the situation demands a hero type in order to succeed—while never thinking in terms of a community working together—but also, democracy is being free to choose what to buy. People are empowered to spend money but not empowered to be politically involved. In this way the elite rules by consent, but the consent is programed into the common people via media.
I also just finished watching “Minimalism, A Documentary about the Important Things” on Netflix! [Have you watched it?] It is strange sometimes how things work out. How best to combat consumerism than to embrace minimalism! It seems to me, by simply participating in the system we strengthen it; however, as the documentary points out by participating as little as possible in the consumer world we find a higher degree of happiness, and the bonus is that we weaken the corporate system while practicing it. Because, as Morgan points out, it is the consumer dialectic which smothers out the political dialectic from our lives, and it is the media which so strongly fosters the former—even brainwashes us into thinking that the consumer world is simply the way things are and the way things should be! But the truth is not the myth; things do not have to be the way they are.
You quote Chris Hedges. His interview with Ralph Nader on his show “Days of Destruction, Days of Revolt” was enlightening. Nader gave a brief history of how our political representatives got to where they are; that is, how they get elected—basically sell out to the highest bidders. This particular show was right before the presidential election. It is on youtube. Hedges’ show is always good but that one is extremely enlightening concerning the history of how the democrats devolved into neo-liberals. It’s certainly not an interview we would ever see on the major networks.
Anyway, always enjoy you blog.