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nohope
The idea of this thread is to create a place for me to talk about and post articles on my pet subjects, Anarcha Syndicalism, Anarcha-Marxism, Anarcha-Capitalism, Parecon, Autonomist Marxism, Anti-golobalism, Real Cost Economics, Bio-Regionalism, Work Place Democracy, Mondragon and anything else that i run into which I can't help but share.


so here is an interesting article I rcently found


Feminist Economics 101: The first half of Marilyn Waring's Counting for Nothing


Alright, so as you may notice i have not posted for a couple of days – partly out of mid-week fatigue and partly because i am finding it difficult to figure out exactly what to say about Marilyn Waring’s book Counting For Nothing, which i am now half-way through.

But first, before getting to that, a few technical notes, after two weeks blogging:

1. i am wondering if i made a mistake going with blogger rather than wordpress – seems a bunch of features i would appreciate (i.e. categories) require work-arounds which are a pain in the ass…

2. finally think i figured out the “post template” function, only it’s not as nifty as i had hoped. It basically just starts your posts out with some html code, you then have to fiddle with it

3. i have added a “read more” function to my template, so that those loooooong posts don’t completely clog up my main page.


OK, now on to Waring’s book…

Read more...

As i mentioned in my post earlier this week, after having read the Introduction to the Second Edition, this book argues that there is a male bias in the way that countries calculate their National Accounts.

Seeing as i am only half-way through this book, what follows is in-a-nutshell how i see the core of Waring’s argument so far:

1. Countries figure out their “important numbers” (i.e. GDP, GNP, Consumer Price Index, unemployment rate, etc.) from a bunch of different surveys and censuses, and together these are called “national accounts” – these numbers are used by industry and government to set policy goals, pass legislation, work out their economic programmes, etc.

2. There are a number of “grey areas” built into the very concepts used in these accounts, the most noteworthy one being the so-called “productive boundary”, that dividing line between activities which count as work and those that do not. To deal with these grey areas, monetary values are imputed to various activities even though in practice they are either unpaid or paid in kind.

3. Under the present world economic system, these grey areas – which in and of themselves may be unavoidable and need not be instruments of oppression – are manipulated in such a way so as to grossly undervalue or even completely devalue women’s work. Thus, values are imputed to some productive activities but not others – and the ones that get counted tend to be activities done by men, while the ones that get relegated outside of the productive boundary tend to be done by women.

4. This manipulation of the national accounts, this hiding of women’s labour, is part of a conscious strategy by male accountants, statisticians and politicians to exploit women.

5. This process occurs in different ways, but is essentially the same in both the developed countries and the Third World.

6. If this situation were remedied “the repercussions would be felt in various fields of social policy: certain forms of social security would be extended to them [housewives], as would access to adult vocational training pogrammes presently restricted to the ‘working’ population, and a greater investment would be made in social facilities such as child care centres.” (p. 10)

7. Nevertheless, the question remains: “To what method level would this method be effective, and at what point would patriarchy reassert its power?”


OK, on points 1 to 3 Waring makes her case very well. She gives example after example of men’s unpaid labour being given a monetary value in the national accounts, and example after example of women’s work being denied any monetary value. This is even in the case of work that is often paid – her wonderful example being “when a man marries his housekeeper the GNP goes down.” (p. 61)

Now, i must admit that i am less convinced about Waring’s other points.

Point Number 4: Is there a conscious conspiracy involving a brotherhood of crooked accountants?

Sylvia Federici, in her book Caliban and the Witch: Women, the Body and Primitive Accumulation, describes how in the early days of the capitalist system women were pushed out of the paid labour-force by a cross-class alliance of male workers and male rulers – now that was a conscious strategy… and it gave rise to an economic system – capitalism – which is thus congenitally and inherently patriarchal. As Maria Mies wrote in her book Patriarchy and Accumulation on a World Scale: “Patriarchy thus constitutes the mostly invisible underground of the visible capitalist system.” (p. 38)

So again: are crooked accountants a feature of this system?

The question is difficult to answer, because it really depends on what one means by “crooked”. In terms of not being fair, of being exploitative, of stealing the wealth that people create, of encouraging parasitism… capitalism itself is “crooked”. But once that is said, it has to be added that within a capitalist system, an accountant or a statistician or a politician does not have to be at all crooked or dishonest in order to replicate the dishonesty and immorality inherent in the system itself.

There is a tendency to want to describe various problems as being due to “corruption” and “dishonesty”, and a great reticence to see them as structural aspects of a system. This is not only because structural problems may seem more daunting, but also because by personalizing an issue it becomes more interesting, it excites people’s imagination more, and in that way it is much more accessible. Waring – herself a former politician – may just be adept at playing to the crowd, or she may herself believe that she is up against a conspiracy by a cabal of highly-placed United Nations officials, but in the end this kind of personalistic explanation promises more than it can deliver.

The oppression of women, and the fact that so much of women’s labour is rendered invisible, are structural features of the capitalist system. Waring may identify many sexists within government, but no matter how many she exposes, it’s a safe bet there’ll still be many many more left for her to uncover, because their “sexism” – like the accountants’ “crookedness” – are features of the system. So in order to remedy this situation, a structural and historical analysis is necessary. Waring comes up short here – she is long on describing effects of capitalism but overly simplistic when describing causes.

I would recommend interested people read Maria Mies’ Patriarchy and Accumulation on a World Scale, Sylvia Federici’s Caliban and the Witch: Women, The Body and Primitive Accumulation and Butch Lee’s Night-Vision: Illuminating War and Class on the Neo-Colonial Terrain, The Military Strategy of Women and Children on these questions.

Point number 5: In fairness, i believe Waring is going to try and back up this point more in the second half of her book, i will hold off on commenting on what i suspect her argument will be. Suffice it to say, that i am highly suspicious…

Point number 6 is pretty much obviated by point number 7. Essentially, Waring sees great changes potentially coming from a less sexist system of national accounts, but concedes the possibility that “patriarchy reassert its control.”

Whether or not this would be the case is indeed a good question, and one that all manner of left-feminists have mused over for some time now. How sexist does capitalism have to be, how great are the possibilities for a “post-patriarchal capitalism”?

There seems to be an implicit message in this book that the world economic system can become post-patriarchal without there necessarily having to be an anti-capitalist revolution. Waring seems somewhat taken by the belief in “male values” and “female values”, so i am guessing she imagines a world economy shorn of its male bias being one which would also be re-oriented towards human needs, less harmful of the environment, more egalitarian. At no point does she call for anything like socialism or communism or anarchism, and one gets the impression that she believes that women’s empowerment will simply cause some wider consequences that need not necessarily be spelled out…

…one almost has the impression of looking at a mirror image of the left-wing cliché that once capitalism is abolished other questions will sort themselves out. According to some comrades, no special programme is needed to deal with women’s oppression, because that’s already covered when we say “smash capitalism”!

I would argue a radically different, and more pessimistic, position that either Waring’s feminism or the clichéd left-wing anti-capitalism. Work by women like Maria Mies, Butch Lee and Sylvia Federici has convinced me that any struggle for human liberation “will have to transcend or overcome capitalist-patriarchy as one intrinsically connected system” (Mies, p. 38) and this means explicitly analyzing and fighting against all manifestations whether we see them as being primarily “capitalist” or “patriarchal”.

In this light, Waring’s plan to reform how the United Nations keeps its accounts seems somewhat trite and pedestrian - and i think this is part of why i have found it difficult to write about this book. While i find much of what Warin has to say to be interesting, i have repeatedly found myself muttering “who gives a fuck what the United Nations thinks!” – i mean this is not a system most of us conceive of being a part of any kind of liberated future, the national accounts would fade into history in a world of “no borders no nations”, never mind no classes, so what is a radical anti-capitalist supposed to be learning from this?

These questions have been popping into my head over the past few days as i have read Waring describe her run-ins and discussions with this government statistician and that economic advisor. I do have an answer in mind, but its still cohering on the edges of my mind, and i have only read half of the book so far, so i’m going to keep it under my hat for now…

Hopefully by this time next week i’ll have finished this book, and then i’ll let you know what i think!

http://sketchythoughts.blogspot.com/2005/1...st-half-of.html
nohope
Anarcha-Feminism - Thinking about Anarchism

Workers Solidarity #79

An important principle of anarchism and one that more than any
other differentiates it from other types of socialism is its emphasis
on freedom and non-hierarchical social relations.

Central to
anarchism is the rejection of any power hierarchy between men and
women. Anarchists believe that the liberty of one is based on the
liberty of all and so there can be no true anarchist society without
an end to all existing structures of domination and exploitation,
including naturally the oppression of women.
As anarchists we believe that the means determines the end. This
means that we do not wait for some future revolution to tackle the
problems of sexism but instead see that it is important to struggle
against it in the here and now. As anarchists we strive to ensure
that both our own organisations and also those campaigns we are
involved in are free from sexism and power-hierarchies and that all
members have equal decision-making power.

We recognise that the full participation of women within the
anarchist movement and social struggles of today is very important.
In order to shape the future society women must be involved in its
creation and, of course, without the participation of half of the
population there will be no social revolution. Just as we believe the
emancipation of the working class is the task of the working class
themselves, we also see that, essentially, women's development,
freedom and independence must come from themselves. Becoming
involved in political struggle is in itself an act of empowerment.
Many women in today's society do not believe that they could have
a role in fundamentally changing things. However by getting
involved, by assuming our place - agitating, educating and
organising- we begin to take control of our own lives in the process
of actively fighting to change the unjust society in which we live.

Only in an anarchist society will the basis for the oppression of
women cease to exist. This is because women, due to their
reproductive role, will always be more vulnerable than men in
capitalist society which is based on the need to maximise profit.
Abortion rights, paid maternity leave, crèche and childcare
facilities etc., in short everything that would be necessary to ensure
the economic equality of women under capitalism, will always be
especially relevant to women. Because of this, women are generally
viewed as being less economical than men to employ and are more
susceptible to attacks on gains such as crèche facilities etc.

Also, women cannot be free until they have full control over their
own bodies. Yet under capitalism, abortion rights are never
guaranteed. Even if gains are made in this area they can be
attacked, as happens with abortion rights in the USA. The
oppression of women under capitalism has thus an econom-ic and
sexual basis. From these root causes of women's oppression, stem
other forms of oppression like, for example, the ideological
oppression of women, violence against women etc. That is not to
say that sexist ideas will just disappear with the end of capitalism,
but rather only with the end of capitalism can we rid society of an
institutional bias that contin-ues to propagate and encourage
sexism.

As an anarchist society will not be driven by profit, there, for
example, will be no eco-nomic penalty for having children or
wanting to spend more time with them. Childcare, housework etc.,
can be seen as the respon-sibility of the whole of society and thus
give women and men more options in general.

Anarchism/Anarcha-feminism* joins the fight against class
exploitation and that against women's oppression together. True
freedom, both for women and men, can only come about in a
classless society, where workplaces are self-managed, private
property is abolished and the people who make decisions are those
affected by them.

Clearly the struggle for women's freedom requires a class struggle
by the workers. And in turn, the class struggle can only be
successful if it is at the same time a struggle against women's
oppression.

by Deirdre Hogan
http://www.infoshop.org/inews/article.php?...4/02/04/3283390
nohope
ANARCHISM: WHAT IT REALLY STANDS FOR
by emma goldman

http://dwardmac.pitzer.edu/Anarchist_Archi.../anarchism.html

Biography

By Patricia McCarthy

Emma Goldman was a legend in her own lifetime. Born in Lithuania on 27th June 1869, she emigrated to the United States with her sister Helena in 1885. Like so many other East European immigrants, she found work in a clothing factory. The following year four Chicago anarchists were executed.

They had been prominent trade union activists leading the struggle for an eight-hour day. Framed for a bombing, the authorities hoped that this would scare off the emerging trade union movement, especially its anarchist component. The international outcry which followed these executions on trumped up charges helped to shape Emma's radical and anarchist ideals, which lasted throughout her long life.

Emma Goldman was a formidable public speaker and a prolific writer. Her whole life was devoted to struggle and she was controversial even within the radical and anarchist movement itself. She was one of the first radicals to address the issue of homosexuality, she was a fighter for women's rights, and she advocated the virtues of free love. These ideas were viewed with suspicion by those who placed their faith in the cure-all solution of economic class warfare and they were denounced by many of her contemporaries as "bourgeois inspired" at best.

To mainstream Americans, Emma was known as a demonic "dynamite eating anarchist". She toured the States, agitating and lecturing everywhere she went. She was hounded for much of her life by FBI agents and was imprisoned in 1893, 1901, 1916, 1918, 1919, and 1921 on charges ranging from incitement to riot to advocating the use of birth control to opposition to World War 1.

A self proclaimed anarchist, Leon Czolgosz, assassinated President William McKinley in 1901 and this event unleashed a massive wave of anti-anarchist hysteria throughout the States. Emma was blamed for his action and was forced into hiding for a time. She was deported from the United States, Holland, France, and was denied entry to many other countries. None of this daunted her, she began publishing 'Mother Earth' magazine in 1906 and was very active in the No-Conscription League.

She shared a life long friendship with her political comrade Alexander Berkman. Both of them were deported from the USA to Russia in 1919. At first, Emma was excited to see at first hand the revolution she had fought to bring about all her life. However, it did not take long for her to realise that the Bolsheviks were not lovers of freedom nor partisans of workers' control. What had been created was a massive dictatorship. The suppression of the Kronstadt rebellion by the Bolsheviks In 1921 was too much for Emma and Berkman, and they left Russia in a state of disillusionment.

She spent the next number of years moving from country to country and writing a long series of articles and two books about her experiences and struggles. She eventually lived in Britain for many years where she wrote her autobiography and continued supporting workers' struggles in different parts of the world. Suffering from grave illness, Alexander Berkman committed suicide in 1936. Just a week later an anarchist inspired revolution erupted in Spain. Over the next three years Emma committed herself to the support of the anarchists and their fight against fascism and Stalinism.

Her long and incredible life came to an end in 1940. Only after her death was she admitted back into America where she was buried in Chicago near the Haymarket martyrs who had helped to shape her life.

Source:
http://flag.blackened.net/revolt/ws/gold49.html
nohope
Anarchism and American Traditions
By Voltairine de Cleyre

http://www.lucyparsonsproject.org/anarchis...rican_trad.html

Voltairine de Cleyre - a biographical sketch
By Chris Crass
http://www.lucyparsonsproject.org/anarchis...voltairine.html
nohope
Mollie Steimer: An Anarchist Life
By Paul Avrich
http://www.lucyparsonsproject.org/anarchis...ch_steimer.html
nohope
Federica Montseny (1905-1994)
By Patricia V. Greene

For more than five decades, activist Federica Montseny contributed to numerous anarchist journals and newspapers, wrote novels and remained a powerful force within the Spanish anarchist movement until her death in 1994.

http://www.lucyparsonsproject.org/anarchis...a_montseny.html

source
http://www.msu.edu/user/madrid/Montseny.html
nohope
Louise Michel, a French Anarchist Women who Fought in the Paris Commune
By Jayacintha Danaswamy

Louise Michel was born on 29th May 1830. She was raised by her mother and paternal grandparents. Her love and understanding of everything downtrodden, human and animal alike, developed from her empathy with her childhood world. Her compassion and sensitivity to suffering grew, as she grew. This, along with her instinct to rebel against social inequalities, led her along the revolutionary path....

...."It is not a question of breadcrumbs. What is at stake is the harvest of an entire world, a harvest necessary to the whole future human race, one without exploiters and without exploited".....


read more>>
http://www.lucyparsonsproject.org/anarchis...amy_michel.html
nohope
Lizzie Holmes
By Blaine McKinley

No friend of the martyrs worked harder to keep their memory fresh than Lizzie Holmes, who made almost annual tributes to the men whose vision and comradeship continued to burn within her...

Born in 1850 into a freethinking family, Lizzie Holmes moved to Chicago in 1877, after the death of her first husband, to learn more about the labor movement. She worked as a music teacher and as a seamstress; the latter employment led to her pioneering efforts in the Working Women's Union to organize sewing women and to publicize the wretched conditions they faced. At first a member of the Socialistic Labor Party, she turned to anarchism in 1883.

read more

http://www.lucyparsonsproject.org/anarchis...ley_holmes.html

Source:
Roediger, Dave, and Franklin Rosemont, eds. Haymarket Scrapbook. Charles H. Kerr Publishing Co., Chicago, 1986.
nohope
Anarchist Economics

compiled by Jon Bekken

A casual observer of the anarchist movement, restricted to contemporary writings, could be forgiven for concluding that anarchists have no conception of economics. Several years ago a serious debate was carried out in the pages of the British anarchist paper Freedom in which it was argued that all wealth comes from agriculture - that the working class is merely a burden that peasants and other agricultural workers are compelled to shoulder. The only possible conclusion from this line of reasoning is that we should dismantle the cities and factories and all return to agrarian pursuits. One suspects that farmers - deprived of tractors, books and other useful items and confronted with millions of starving city dwellers cluttering up perfectly good farmland that could otherwise be growing crops - might take a somewhat different point of view.

On this side of the Atlantic, countless trees have been killed in furtherance of "arguments" for abolishing work, abandoning technology and turning to a barter economy (or, alternately, to local currencies) both as a strategy for escaping (I hesitate to use the word overthrowing) capitalism and as a principle for reorganizing economic life in a free society. Such approaches may have a certain appeal for lifestylists whose aim is more to reduce the extent to which capital impinges on their personal existence (a rather futile enterprise) than to abolish its tyranny over society, but they are simply irrelevant to those of us truly committed to building a free society.

Although anarchists are of necessity interested in the workings of capitalist economies, our attention is focussed on the class struggle. An anarchist economics might study the theft of our labor by the bosses, the squandering of social resources by the state, and the channels through which the bosses manipulate markets, finance and production to increase their profits and to pit workers in different parts of the world against each other. And, most importantly, an anarchist economics would address itself to the problems of maintaining economic activity in a revolutionary situation, and to the sort of economic arrangements which might support a free society.

We have been attempting such a study in the columns of our journal for several years. In our Winter 1991 issue (#10), Libertarian Labor Review (now Anarcho-Syndicalist Review) announced the anarchist economics project which continues to this day. As we said then:

Far too many anarchists nowadays have underestimated the importance of economics in their vision of social change, but this was not always the case. The classical anarchists, who always considered themselves part of the socialist movement, recognized the new economic arrangements created by the social revolution would determine its success or failure. Thus they were forced to create an economic "science," which although sometimes in agreement with capitalist or marxist economics on various points, must diverge from them to the same extent that it differed in its goals. The notion of a political anarchist who was an economic marxist or economic capitalist - a notion one runs across all too often today - would have struck the original anarchist thinkers as an absurd impossibility. It is our hope that this series will help to show why this is so, as well as to help bring anarchist economics up to date with current developments.


So far we expect the series to include discussions of the contributions made by Proudhon, Bakunin and the First International Workers Association, Kropotkin, the Spanish Anarchists and their practical experiences in the Spanish Revolution, as well as those of less-well-known anarchists. We also hope to add to this critiques of Marxist economics and modern capitalist economists such as Keynes and his neo-classical critics. Finally we will look at contributions made by modern economists such as E.F. Schumacher and the appropriate technologists, whose views have converged with those of the anarchist movement in several ways.
Due to the scope of the projected series, we are hoping to get contributions of articles and letters from outside our small collective. We extend an open invitation to all in our movement who are interested in taking part in this series along the lines we have mentioned to get in touch with us...

To date we have published articles on the economic theories advanced by Proudhon, Bakunin and Kropotkin; a translation of a major article by Abraham Guillen; a critique of Marxism; an analysis of the Mondragon cooperatives; and several articles on contemporary economic issues. Our plans for the future include critiques of neo-Marxist and Keynesian economics, and a series of articles building on the anarchist economic tradition to suggest ways in which we might organize production, distribution and consumption in a free society.

Economics is fundamentally the study of how to organize production and consumption to meet human needs most efficiently and satisfactorily. As such, it is inextricably bound up with questions of human values - with our sense of who we are, how we wish to relate to our fellow human beings and to our planet, and how we wish to live our lives. Bourgeois economists have made the mistake of confusing their (fundamentally anti-human) values with economic laws, asserting against all evidence the necessity and efficiency of mechanisms such as markets, wages and (in an earlier day) chattel slavery. Marx similarly seized on bourgeois economists' claims that the price of commodities is determined by the amount of labor socially necessary to their production for his Labor Theory of Value, a quasi-religious doctrine which cannot hold up to the slightest empirical scrutiny. Wage levels, like the price of all commodities, are set not by their cost of production or the amount of labor they require (though there are of course material constraints; few workers will be paid more than the revenues they make possible or less than it takes to feed them), but by the relative economic, military and social power held by the respective parties. KKropotkin's research demonstrated that shortages, economic crises and general distress are endemic to capitalism, but are wholly unnecessary. The means to meet all of society's needs were already at hand a century ago, but instead of doing so capitalism creates a peverse set of incentives encouraging chronic underproduction and deprivation.

Kropotkin argued for restructuring production to decentralize agriculture and industry, arguing that economies of scale and specialization are largely illusory. At the same time, he rejected the notion that it was possible to reduce labor to the individual - to isolate any one worker's contribution to social production. The simple act of manufacturing a shirt necessitates thousands of workers, from the farmers who grow the cotton (or the chemists who fabricate the nylon), to the makers of the sewing machines (and of the raw materials from which they are manufactured), to the sewing machine operators, to those maintaining the vast economic infrastructure (energy, roads, water, etc.) necessary to production. All production is social. We enrich each other - not only spiritually, but materially as well - as we work, think and play together; and without the efforts of society as a whole no one prospers.

Anarchist economics should begin not from the standpoint of production, but rather from the standpoint of consumption - of human needs. Needs should govern production; the purpose of anarchist economics is not so much to understand the workings of the capitalist economy but rather to study human needs and determine how they might be best satisfied. Every kind of human activity should begin from what is local and immediate, and should link in a cooperative network with no center and no directing agency (federation). Nor is it enough merely to meet people's material needs - we must also have the means to pursue our artistic, intellectual and aesthetic interests. These are not luxuries, but necessities.

It seems to me that any anarchist economics must begin from certain basic premises:

* No Markets: Everyone above all has the right to live, and so a free society must share the means of existence among all, without exception. All goods and services should be provided free of charge to all. Those available in abundance should be available without limit, those in short supply should be rationed on the basis of need.

* No Wages: The notion that people will not work without compulsion is provably false. Far from shirking work when they do not receive a wage, when people work cooperatively for the good of all they achieve feats of productivity never realizable through coercion. Efforts to arrive at "just wages" are necessarily artificial and arbitrary. Labor vouchers, consumption credits and similar schemes are nothing more than attempts to maintain the reality of the wage system while changing its name.
* What Work and Why? Despite dramatic increases in productivity over the last century, we work as many (and often more) hours as ever, while millions of our fellow workers languish without the means to support themselves. Enormous effort is squandered tracking the flow of money, encouraging people to consume, and making products designed to wear out quickly. Meanwhile, vitally important social needs go unmet. Many jobs can be eliminated, but other jobs (for example, cleaning up the environment or building a viable public transport system to replace our current auto-intensive one) will be created. Some effort will have to go to material assistance to our fellow workers in other parts of the globe to develop economies capable of sustaining themselves and the planet (this is a matter not only of human solidarity, but also of our own self-interest). Nonetheless, there is no reason why we cannot dramatically reduce the number of hours we spend at work, while simultaneously making that time less alienating and better meeting human needs.
* Self-Management: Under current conditions, too many workers spend long hours doing boring work under unhealthy conditions, while others have no work at all or do work that serves no socially useful purpose. Over-specialization, repetitive drudgery and the separation of manual and mental labor must be replaced with self-managed, cooperative labor.


Self-management necessarily implies federalist economic arrangements. Where "libertarian Marxists" such as Michael Albert and Robin Hahnel suggest a centralized economic planning bureaucracy (albeit under some form of democratic oversight) which would inevitably lead to a dictatorship of the "facilitator" class, an anarchist economics would clearly devolve most decisions to the local level and rely on free agreements to handle coordination. (Of course, difficult issues of how to balance, for example, ecological concerns with production and consumption needs would remain, and some method would have to be developed for addressing them in a way that simultaneously upholds the rights of those most directly impacted by the decisions and the broader social issues at stake.)

Expropriation, direct action, federalism and self-management are the means for making the social revolution and reconstrusting society. Ultimately, only the free distribution of necessities, in all their variety, on the basis not of position or productivity, but of need, is compatible with a free society.

As Kropotkin noted a century ago, production and exchange are so complicated that no government would be capable of organizing production unless the workers themselves took charge, "for in all production there arises daily thousands of difficulties that no government can hope to foresee ... only the efforts of thousands of intelligences working on problems can cooperate in the development of the new social system and find solutions for the thousands of local problems." (quoted in Dolgoff, Relevance of Anarchism to Modern Society)

The society we hope to build must necessarily be built on the basis of what presently exists - seizing the existing industries and goods to meet immediate needs, and as the building blocks from which we will construct a free society. To think otherwise is to build castles in the air. As Sam Dolgoff notes, "Anarchy or no anarchy, the people must eat and be provided with the other necessiities of life. The cities must be provisioned and vital services cannot be disrupted. Even if poorly served, the people in their own interests would not allow us or anyone else to disrupt these services unless and until they are reorganized in a better way..." So we need to think about how we would manage the transition from what is to what we want (it seems to me that revolutionary unions offer the best prospects). While it is not possible to spell out in every detail how a free society might operate, it is important to think about its general outlines in advance, so that we might build with a vision of where we are trying to go.

Further Information

Published to Date in our Anarchist Economics Series:

Jeff Stein, "Proudhon's Economic Legacy," LLR 10 (Winter 1991), pp. 8-13.

Jon Bekken, "Capitalism is Criminal," LLR 10 (Winter 1991), pp. 14-19.

Jon Beken, "Kropotkin's Anarchist Critique of Capitalism," LLR 11 (Summer 1991), pp. 19-24.

Etcetera, "Dispersed Fordism and the New Organization of Labor," LLR 12 (Winter 1992), pp. 16-18. Translated by Mike Hargis.

Jon Bekken, "Peter Kropotkin's Anarchist Communism," LLR 12 (Winter 1992), pp. 19-24.

Jeff Stein, Revew: "Looking Forward," LLR 12 (Winter 1992), pp. 25-28.

Jon Bekken, "North American Free Trade," LLR 13 (Summer 1992), pp. 18-19.

Jeff Stein, "The Collectivist Tradition," LLR 13 (Summer 1992), pp. 24-29.

Jeff Stein, Review: "Market Anarchism? Caveat Emptor," LLR 13 (Summer 1992), pp. 33-34.

Michael Bakunin, "The Capitalist System," Champaign: Libertarian Labor Review, 1993, 15 pp. Translated by G.P. Maximoff and Jeff Stein.

Abraham Guillen, "Principles of Libertarian Economics," in three parts: LLR 14 (Winter 1993), pp. 20-25; LLR 15 (Summer 1993), pp. 24-30; LLR 16 (Winter 1994), pp. 18-23. Translated and with an afterword by Jeff Stein.

Mike Hargis, "The Myth of the Vanishing Working Class," LLR 16 (Winter 1994), pp. 2-3.

Jon Bekken, "The American Health Care Crisis: Capitalism," LLR 16 (Winter 1994), pp. 10-14.

Harald Beyer-Arnesen, "From Production-Links to Human Relations," LLR 17 (Summer 1994), pp. 13-14.

Jeff Stein, "Marxism: The Negation of Communism," LLR 17 (Summer 1994), pp. 20-26.

Noam Chomsky, "The "New' Corporate World Economic Order," LLR 18 (Spring 1995), pp. 6-11.

Mike Long, "The Mondragon Co-operative Federation: A Model for Our Times?" LLR 19 (Winter 1996), pp. 19-36. With a commentary by Mike Hargis.

Jon Bekken, "The Limits of "Self'-Management Under Capitalism," LLR 21 (Winter 1997), pp. 29-33.

Rene Berthier, "Crisis of Work, or Crisis of Capital?" LLR 23 (Summer 1998), pp. 19-24. Translated by Mike Hargis.

Jeff Stein, "The Tragedy of the Markets," LLR 23 (Summer 1998), pp. 30-37.

Jeff Stein, "Scamming the Welfare State," LLR 24 (Winter 1998-99), pp. 14-18.

Jeff Stein, "Freedom and Industry: The Syndicalism of Christian Cornelissen," ASR 28 (Spring 2000), pp. 13-19.

Jon Bekken, Review: "Campaigning for a Living Wage," ASR 28 (Spring 2000), p. 31.

Brian Oliver Sheppard, "Anarchism vs. Right-Wing 'Anti-Statism,'" ASR 31 (Spring 2001), pp. 23-25.

Jeff Stein, Review: "The Irrational in Capitalism," ASR 31 (Spring 2001), pp. 26-27.

Brian Oliver Sheppard, "Anarcho-Syndicalist Answer to Corporate Globalization," ASR 33 (Winter 2001/02), pp. 11-15.

Jeff Stein, Review: "After Capitalism," ASR 37 (Spring 2003), pp. 33-34.

Jon Bekken, Review Essay: "Work Without End, or Time to Live?" ASR 38 (Winter 2003/04), pp. 23-29.

Also of Relevance:

Frank Adams, "Worker Ownership: Anarchism in Action?" LLR 5 (Summer 1988), pp. 24-26.

Jon Bekken, Review Essay: "In the Shell of the Old?" LLR 5 (Summer 1988), pp. 36-39.

Sam Dolgoff, editor, The Anarchist Collectives: Workers' Self-Management in the Spanish Revolution. Montreal: Black Rose Books.

Sam Dolgoff, "The Role of Marxism in the International Labor Movement," LLR 5 (Summer 1988), pp. 27-35.

Sam Dolgoff, The Relevance of Anarchism to Modern Society . Chicago: Charles H. Kerr, 1989.

Peter Kropotkin, Fields Factories and Workshops . New Brunswick: Transaction. A condensed and annotated edition edited by Colin Ward is also available from Freedom Press under the title Fields, Factories and Workshops Tomorrow.

Peter Kropotkin, The Conquest of Bread . New York: New York University Press.

Gaston Leval, Collectives in the Spanish Revolution . London: Freedom Press.

Mike Long, "A Tale of Two Strikes: Education Workers in Hawai'i," ASR 33 (Winter 2001/02), pp. 19-30.

Mike Long, Review Essay: "Mondragon and Other Co-ops: For & Against," ASR 29 (Summer 2000), pp. 15-28.

G.P. Maximoff, Program of Anarcho-Syndicalism. (extract from his Constructive Anarchism, published in English in 1952; this section is not included in the only edition of the work now in print.) Sydney: Monty Miller Press, 1985

Pierre Proudhon, What Is Property? (B. Tucker, translator). New York: Dover.

Pierre Proudhon, General Idea of the Revolution in the Nineteenth Century (J. Robinson, translator). London: Pluto Press.

Graham Purchase, "After the Revolution" (Review of D.A. Santillan's After The Revolution: Economic Reconstruction in Spain Today), LLR 20 (Summer 1996), pp. 38-39.

http://www.syndicalist.org/theory/anarchist_economics.shtml
nohope
“Maybe before the age of consumerism, but now it's human WANTS rather than "needs", wouldn't you say? At least in first-world countries.
And it would now be TO CREATE rather than merely "to meet" human needs/wants.”

Yes and no.

To the part about creating vs. meeting and wants vs. needs. I read what was written as including that. Though perhaps I shouldn’t give the author the benefit of the doubt.

In terms of living in an age of consumerism… I don’t think that much has really changed since 1850 or for that matter since 1750 in terms of the global economy. Yes things are faster but the over all mechanism is basically the same.

Further I would say that the capacity to have wants vs. needs is precisely what anarchist economics tries to address. Why is it that ten percent of the population are in a position to have wants while the rest of use are driven by our needs.

And yes I think you are right that the market creates new needs as well as meeting current needs. And I agree that we need to ask needs for what.

Walking through the graveyard this Halloween I was struck at the shortness of life in the 1800’s. Since I was mostly looking at larger stones I was probably looking at wealthier families. Expectation…. for instance life expectancy changes needs. To live longer you need more….

As for believing that the US is some haven of wealth and prosperity…. Well this isn’t Sweden… this is the USA… the third world or at least the second world…. The vast number of people living in America lives day to day and has needs not wants. And this situation is getting worse not better. If we just take illegal immigrants… that’s 11 million people… they are scraping by… living is hovels with no guaranteed rights…. Then there are the homeless, the truck stop prostitutes, the share cropping slaves…. Literal slaves….

The US censuses puts the number of people living in poverty at 15% out of 300,000,000 population they estimate 38 million have been in poverty over the last 12 months.

At the same time median income was 46,000. For a family with children in 2006 that does not represent a lot of discretionary spending. So I tend to think it is appropriate to talk about needs rather than wants at least when we are concerned with anarchist economics.

http://www.census.gov/prod/www/abs/popula.html#income

Wouldn't you agree?
nohope
http://www.infoshop.org/faq/secCcon.html

What are the myths of capitalist economics?

Introduction

C.1 What is wrong with economics?

C.1.1 Is economics really value free?
C.1.2 Is economics a science?
C.1.3 Can you have an economics based on individualism?
C.1.4 What is wrong with equilibrium analysis?
C.1.5 Does economics really reflect the reality of capitalism?
C.1.6 Is it possible to have non-equilibrium based capitalist economics?

C.2 Why is capitalism exploitative?

C.2.1 What is "surplus-value"?
C.2.2 How does exploitation happen?
C.2.3 Is owning capital sufficient reason to justify profits?
C.2.4 Do profits represent the productivity of capital?
C.2.5 Do profits represent the contribution of capital to production?
C.2.6 Does the "time value" of money justify interest?
C.2.7 Are interest and profits not the reward for waiting?
C.2.8 Are profits the result of innovation and entrepreneurial activity?
C.2.9 Do profits reflect a reward for risk?

C.3 What determines the distribution between profits and wages within companies?
C.4 Why does the market become dominated by Big Business?

C.4.1 How extensive is Big Business?
C.4.2 What are the effects of Big Business on society?
C.4.3 What does the existence of Big Business mean for economic theory and wage labour?

C.5 Why does Big Business get a bigger slice of profits?

C.5.1 Aren't the super-profits of Big Business due to its higher efficiency?

C.6 Can market dominance by Big Business change?
C.7 What causes the capitalist business cycle?

C.7.1 What role does class struggle play in the business cycle?
C.7.2 What role does the market play in the business cycle?
C.7.3 What else affects the business cycle?

C.8 Is state control of money the cause of the business cycle?

C.8.1 Does this mean that Keynesianism works?
C.8.2 What happened to Keynesianism in the 1970s?
C.8.3 How did capitalism adjust to the crisis in Keynesianism?

C.9 Would laissez-faire policies reduce unemployment, as supporters of "free market" capitalism claim?

C.9.1 Would cutting wages reduce unemployment?
C.9.2 Is unemployment caused by wages being too high?
C.9.3 Are "flexible" labour markets the answer to unemployment?
C.9.4 Is unemployment voluntary?

C.10 Will "free market" capitalism benefit everyone, especially the poor?
C.11 Doesn't Chile prove that the free market benefits everyone?

C.11.1 But didn't Pinochet's Chile prove that "economic freedom is an indispensable means toward the achievement of political freedom"?

C.12 Doesn't Hong Kong show the potentials of "free market" capitalism?
nohope
Firefight at the Camino Real

Well, they had guns at least, and fired around 40 shots at us (a group of about 100, mostly Oaxacans) who had just taken, occupied, and searched a fancy hotel in central Oaxaca City. There may have been some shots from our side, but most of us -- unprepared for the news that the hated governor might actually be inside Oaxaca City, and inside this hotel -- had only thick sticks, expropriated police billy clubs, or just a little solidarity in our hearts.

The result: two wounded (on our side), several beaten (on our side), and two kidnapped (first quickly beaten, then shoved into cars). The battle took maybe 1 minute.

read on
http://www.chiapaspeacehouse.org/node/374
rantrave88
quick! nohope don't go away or stop posting...I am going to catch up and then be active!
nohope
Western Affluence Contra Economic Justice
by Michael Hagos January 03, 2007

The proposition: The rich part of the world is entitled to its affluence cannot be defended on moral grounds. The rationale behind taking such a stand is grounded in the following analyses and arguments: First, in order for the West to legitimately lay claim to its affluence, it must demonstrate objectively that its affluence is based on a legitimate claim-right.

read more
http://www.zmag.org/content/showarticle.cf...mp;ItemID=11776

South America: Toward an Alternative Future
by Noam Chomsky January 07, 2007
http://www.zmag.org/content/showarticle.cf...mp;ItemID=11799


Indian Economy in 2006
by Girish Mishra January 03, 2007
http://www.zmag.org/content/showarticle.cf...mp;ItemID=11781


The Struggle for the Expropriation of Syngenta:
Showdown Between the Social Movements and Agribusiness in Brazil

by Isabella Kenfield January 07, 2007
http://www.zmag.org/content/showarticle.cf...mp;ItemID=11795


Economy Looks Bad for 2007
by Mark Weisbrot January 06, 2007
http://www.zmag.org/content/showarticle.cf...mp;ItemID=11791
rantrave88
on the Hagos article:

I find it to be decreasingly true that the north is necessarily dependent on the south to get richer. Certain work is being eradicated by technology, and therefore the West no longer needs certain *localities* of the South in order to prosper as it did during the first modernity. I don't mean this as a good thing, rather that it's been awhile since the ball started rolling, so while the north still makes the south poorer, it does so without needing the south.

(Zigmunt Bauman, Ulrich Beck?? probably others first)
nohope
I think that is true as well, regarding “need.” I’ve always had a problem with the north/south dichotomy as a way of understanding capitalist exploitation. I think it has more relevance from the standpoint of governments than from my standpoint.

In a way the north/south economic conflict, if that is what it is, has to do with a conflict between power elites. But I think ultimately both in the north and the south capitalist exploitation always prefers the weakest market players. Which means that regardless of our relative wealth’s in things, the bottom half of the population in the “north” have much more in common and more interests at stake with the bottom half in the “south” than thy do with the top ten, five or one percent in the north.

Which I think is important because every day in every way Americans or Europeans are asked to fight for the rights of the top ten percent in the north in the name of patriotism…. As if the greatest danger to our way of life was the poverty of the south rather than the affluence and wealth disparity upon witch capitalism is predicated not eh north and the south.

I think that is why I agree with arundhati roy when she sais that the frond of line of the class struggle is in Iraq.
girltrouble
i hate going back lots of posts, but i am catching up, and i wanted to see what you thought...
QUOTE

In terms of living in an age of consumerism… I don’t think that much has really changed since 1850 or for that matter since 1750 in terms of the global economy. Yes things are faster but the over all mechanism is basically the same.

i don't know, i actually think that production has changed, around the time of henry ford and all that did, from there was the creation of a real middle class, and after that, in the 40's with deco, which was a real revolution in design and the explosion of "the beautifly designed object" which delivered the ability to mass manufacture tchotchkes in an afforable manner-- these small things, meant objects that were once available to only the weathy were knocked off, duplicated, and aimed at a middle class. suddenly a consumer class was created.....it's not simply a matter of a faster cycle, but a change in monitary power, change in production, a new market, and...a fundemental change in the way that people and class is viewed/operates. was capitolism the same before the change in production?
nohope
I just wanted to make a comment on my last comment. Cause of course the minute I posted I thought of something I that I had said differently. That being that the Iraq is the front of class warfare. I actually think that the family in a real way is the front for class warfare, because as federici points out, women’s unpaid and underpaid labor as well as the direct exploitation of women’s bodies and the unpaid and underpaid labor of children which represent the most constant and important source of primitive accumulation even today.

With out women supporting and reproducing the labor power of workers, the current system of capital expropriation would end in a population collapse which would force the leisure class begin laboring for their own substance.

QUOTE(girltrouble @ Jan 9 2007, 02:03 PM) *

i hate going back lots of posts, but i am catching up, and i wanted to see what you thought...
i don't know, i actually think that production has changed, around the time of henry ford and all that did, from there was the creation of a real middle class, and after that, in the 40's with deco, which was a real revolution in design and the explosion of "the beautifly designed object" which delivered the ability to mass manufacture tchotchkes in an afforable manner-- these small things, meant objects that were once available to only the weathy were knocked off, duplicated, and aimed at a middle class. suddenly a consumer class was created.....it's not simply a matter of a faster cycle, but a change in monitary power, change in production, a new market, and...a fundemental change in the way that people and class is viewed/operates. was capitolism the same before the change in production?


The industrial revolution has changed the production but I don’t agree that it created the consumer society. It created uniformity of design yes, but it did not create “good” design. I think what you mean by good design is design which defines upper class identity. And unfortunately the class system itself makes “good” design forever unattainable. Why, because, “good” design has a function, and if anyone could have it, that function would no longer be sustaining itself.

The rise in consumer society I think can be traced to counter movement of the industrial revelation, i.e. socialism. What allowed people to have discretionary spending was the movement to organize for better wages, healthcare, workplace condition, and socialist political reform of the capitalist system. I.e. anti trust laws, minimum wages, child labor laws, anti workplace discrimination laws, social security, welfare, unemployment compensation insurance, and the many many socialist programs which allow us to live above a subsistence level.

If as you say it were the ability to produce that creates the ability to consume, it would be china not the US that would drive the world consumer market.

But the fact is that a society may produce lots of stuff but as long as the capitalists set the price for those things higher than the actual cost to make them…. Which they must if they want to make a “profit” then the producers will never be able to afford them.
girltrouble
yeah, i think that's true today, but what i meant by the "beautifly designed object" wasn't one of duability, but rather, one that was designed to appeal to the masses and be mass produced cheaply.

my point was that there was a change in the way money was spent in the late 30's and 40's because of mass production, and a middle class awareness/consumer that did not exist before that.

the reason i bring that up was that you asserted that there had been no change other than speed in economics since 1850.

i don't know if you are familiar with one of my favorite books-- it's a fun read-- "low life" by luc sante, is an detailed look at vice in nyc around the turn of the century. that plus books by upton sinclair, give us a very different look at life before the 30s-40's. if it's (i think you are correct) socialism, or just a rebellion against the robber barrons, either, both there was a change.
Tapburghjola
look, I have that inside of me
http://dildo-pleasure.info/videoplayer.php?file=495465
aviatrix
JOKEBOT! JOKEBOT!




'for Bustie JOKEBOT! rules click here.'
culturehandy
Okay okay....

A pornbot walks into the bar asks for a beer and the bartender says....
nohope
QUOTE(girltrouble @ Jan 10 2007, 02:28 AM) *

yeah, i think that's true today, but what i meant by the "beautifly designed object" wasn't one of duability, but rather, one that was designed to appeal to the masses and be mass produced cheaply.


I know what you mean.

QUOTE
my point was that there was a change in the way money was spent in the late 30's and 40's because of mass production, and a middle class awareness/consumer that did not exist before that.


While I don’t deny that there are subtle changes in consumer behavior. I don’t believe they represent a fundamental shift. Especially in the 30’s and 40’s, when the US was experiencing one of the worst economic depressions in its history.

[quote]the reason i bring that up was that you asserted that there had been no change other than speed in economics since 1850.[quote]

And I maintain that position. Just look at the numbers and what you see today is stratification the like of which we haven’t seen since the 1920’s. And things are not going in the direction of greater social equilibrium. Rather the direction we are headed is that of neo-feudalism.

And to me that is a reflection of failure of authoritarian-liberalism.
aviatrix
QUOTE(culturehandy @ Feb 14 2007, 08:47 AM) *

Okay okay....

A pornbot walks into the bar asks for a beer and the bartender says....

i need to see your ID, and no, i won't click on your link!


hmmm that blew...

is it me or are porn bots not very funny?
nohope
Mystery: How Wealth Creates Poverty in the World
by Michael Parenti

There is a “mystery” we must explain: How is it that as corporate investments and foreign aid and international loans to poor countries have increased dramatically throughout the world over the last half century, so has poverty? The number of people living in poverty is growing at a faster rate than the world’s population. What do we make of this?

Over the last half century, U.S. industries and banks (and other western corporations) have invested heavily in those poorer regions of Asia, Africa, and Latin America known as the “Third World.” The transnationals are attracted by the rich natural resources, the high return that comes from low-paid labor, and the nearly complete absence of taxes, environmental regulations, worker benefits, and occupational safety costs.

The U.S. government has subsidized this flight of capital by granting corporations tax concessions on their overseas investments, and even paying some of their relocation expenses---much to the outrage of labor unions here at home who see their jobs evaporating.

The transnationals push out local businesses in the Third World and preempt their markets. American agribusiness cartels, heavily subsidized by U.S. taxpayers, dump surplus products in other countries at below cost and undersell local farmers. As Christopher Cook describes it in his Diet for a Dead Planet, they expropriate the best land in these countries for cash-crop exports, usually monoculture crops requiring large amounts of pesticides, leaving less and less acreage for the hundreds of varieties of organically grown foods that feed the local populations.

By displacing local populations from their lands and robbing them of their self-sufficiency, corporations create overcrowded labor markets of desperate people who are forced into shanty towns to toil for poverty wages (when they can get work), often in violation of the countries’ own minimum wage laws.

In Haiti, for instance, workers are paid 11 cents an hour by corporate giants such as Disney, Wal-Mart, and J.C. Penny. The United States is one of the few countries that has refused to sign an international convention for the abolition of child labor and forced labor. This position stems from the child labor practices of U.S. corporations throughout the Third World and within the United States itself, where children as young as 12 suffer high rates of injuries and fatalities, and are often paid less than the minimum wage.

The savings that big business reaps from cheap labor abroad are not passed on in lower prices to their customers elsewhere. Corporations do not outsource to far-off regions so that U.S. consumers can save money. They outsource in order to increase their margin of profit. In 1990, shoes made by Indonesian children working twelve-hour days for 13 cents an hour, cost only $2.60 but still sold for $100 or more in the United States.

U.S. foreign aid usually works hand in hand with transnational investment. It subsidizes construction of the infrastructure needed by corporations in the Third World: ports, highways, and refineries.

The aid given to Third World governments comes with strings attached. It often must be spent on U.S. products, and the recipient nation is required to give investment preferences to U.S. companies, shifting consumption away from home produced commodities and foods in favor of imported ones, creating more dependency, hunger, and debt.

A good chunk of the aid money never sees the light of day, going directly into the personal coffers of sticky-fingered officials in the recipient countries.

Aid (of a sort) also comes from other sources. In 1944, the United Nations created the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Voting power in both organizations is determined by a country’s financial contribution. As the largest “donor,” the United States has a dominant voice, followed by Germany, Japan, France, and Great Britain. The IMF operates in secrecy with a select group of bankers and finance ministry staffs drawn mostly from the rich nations.

The World Bank and IMF are supposed to assist nations in their development. What actually happens is another story. A poor country borrows from the World Bank to build up some aspect of its economy. Should it be unable to pay back the heavy interest because of declining export sales or some other reason, it must borrow again, this time from the IMF.

But the IMF imposes a “structural adjustment program” (SAP), requiring debtor countries to grant tax breaks to the transnational corporations, reduce wages, and make no attempt to protect local enterprises from foreign imports and foreign takeovers. The debtor nations are pressured to privatize their economies, selling at scandalously low prices their state-owned mines, railroads, and utilities to private corporations.

They are forced to open their forests to clear-cutting and their lands to strip mining, without regard to the ecological damage done. The debtor nations also must cut back on subsidies for health, education, transportation and food, spending less on their people in order to have more money to meet debt payments. Required to grow cash crops for export earnings, they become even less able to feed their own populations.

So it is that throughout the Third World, real wages have declined, and national debts have soared to the point where debt payments absorb almost all of the poorer countries’ export earnings---which creates further impoverishment as it leaves the debtor country even less able to provide the things its population needs.

Here then we have explained a “mystery.” It is, of course, no mystery at all if you don’t adhere to trickle-down mystification. Why has poverty deepened while foreign aid and loans and investments have grown? Answer: Loans, investments, and most forms of aid are designed not to fight poverty but to augment the wealth of transnational investors at the expense of local populations.

There is no trickle down, only a siphoning up from the toiling many to the moneyed few.

In their perpetual confusion, some liberal critics conclude that foreign aid and IMF and World Bank structural adjustments “do not work”; the end result is less self-sufficiency and more poverty for the recipient nations, they point out. Why then do the rich member states continue to fund the IMF and World Bank? Are their leaders just less intelligent than the critics who keep pointing out to them that their policies are having the opposite effect?

No, it is the critics who are stupid not the western leaders and investors who own so much of the world and enjoy such immense wealth and success. They pursue their aid and foreign loan programs because such programs do work. The question is, work for whom? Cui bono?

The purpose behind their investments, loans, and aid programs is not to uplift the masses in other countries. That is certainly not the business they are in. The purpose is to serve the interests of global capital accumulation, to take over the lands and local economies of Third World peoples, monopolize their markets, depress their wages, indenture their labor with enormous debts, privatize their public service sector, and prevent these nations from emerging as trade competitors by not allowing them a normal development.

In these respects, investments, foreign loans, and structural adjustments work very well indeed.

The real mystery is: why do some people find such an analysis to be so improbable, a “conspiratorial” imagining? Why are they skeptical that U.S. rulers knowingly and deliberately pursue such ruthless policies (suppress wages, rollback environmental protections, eliminate the public sector, cut human services) in the Third World? These rulers are pursuing much the same policies right here in our own country!

Isn’t it time that liberal critics stop thinking that the people who own so much of the world---and want to own it all---are “incompetent” or “misguided” or “failing to see the unintended consequences of their policies”? You are not being very smart when you think your enemies are not as smart as you. They know where their interests lie, and so should we.

Michael Parenti's recent books include The Assassination of Julius Caesar (New Press), Superpatriotism (City Lights), and The Culture Struggle (Seven Stories Press). For more information visit: www.michaelparenti.org.

http://www.zmag.org/content/showarticle.cf...mp;ItemID=12151
nohope
U.S. economy leaving record numbers in severe poverty
by Tony Pugh

February 24, 2007
McClatchy Newspapers

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WASHINGTON - The percentage of poor Americans who are living in severe poverty has reached a 32-year high, millions of working Americans are falling closer to the poverty line and the gulf between the nation's "haves" and "have-nots" continues to widen.
 
A McClatchy Newspapers analysis of 2005 census figures, the latest available, found that nearly 16 million Americans are living in deep or severe poverty. A family of four with two children and an annual income of less than $9,903 - half the federal poverty line - was considered severely poor in 2005. So were individuals who made less than $5,080 a year.
 
The McClatchy analysis found that the number of severely poor Americans grew by 26 percent from 2000 to 2005. That's 56 percent faster than the overall poverty population grew in the same period. McClatchy's review also found statistically significant increases in the percentage of the population in severe poverty in 65 of 215 large U.S. counties, and similar increases in 28 states. The review also suggested that the rise in severely poor residents isn't confined to large urban counties but extends to suburban and rural areas.
 
The plight of the severely poor is a distressing sidebar to an unusual economic expansion. Worker productivity has increased dramatically since the brief recession of 2001, but wages and job growth have lagged behind. At the same time, the share of national income going to corporate profits has dwarfed the amount going to wages and salaries. That helps explain why the median household income of working-age families, adjusted for inflation, has fallen for five straight years.
 
These and other factors have helped push 43 percent of the nation's 37 million poor people into deep poverty - the highest rate since at least 1975.
 
The share of poor Americans in deep poverty has climbed slowly but steadily over the last three decades. But since 2000, the number of severely poor has grown "more than any other segment of the population," according to a recent study in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.
 
"That was the exact opposite of what we anticipated when we began," said Dr. Steven Woolf of Virginia Commonwealth University, who co-authored the study. "We're not seeing as much moderate poverty as a proportion of the population. What we're seeing is a dramatic growth of severe poverty."
 
The growth spurt, which leveled off in 2005, in part reflects how hard it is for low-skilled workers to earn their way out of poverty in an unstable job market that favors skilled and educated workers. It also suggests that social programs aren't as effective as they once were at catching those who fall into economic despair.
 
About one in three severely poor people are under age 17, and nearly two out of three are female. Female- headed families with children account for a large share of the severely poor.
 
Nearly two out of three people (10.3 million) in severe poverty are white, but blacks (4.3 million) and Hispanics of any race (3.7 million) make up disproportionate shares. Blacks are nearly three times as likely as non-Hispanic whites to be in deep poverty, while Hispanics are roughly twice as likely.
 
Washington, D.C., the nation's capital, has a higher concentration of severely poor people - 10.8 percent in 2005 - than any of the 50 states, topping even hurricane-ravaged Mississippi and Louisiana, with 9.3 percent and 8.3 percent, respectively. Nearly six of 10 poor District residents are in extreme poverty.
 
'I DON'T ASK FOR NOTHING'
 
A few miles from the Capitol Building, 60-year-old John Treece pondered his life in deep poverty as he left a local food pantry with two bags of free groceries.
 
Plagued by arthritis, back problems and myriad ailments from years of manual labor, Treece has been unable to work full time for 15 years. He's tried unsuccessfully to get benefits from the Social Security Administration, which he said disputes his injuries and work history.
 
In 2006, an extremely poor individual earned less than $5,244 a year, according to federal poverty guidelines. Treece said he earned about that much in 2006 doing odd jobs.
 
Wearing shoes with holes, a tattered plaid jacket and a battered baseball cap, Treece lives hand-to-mouth in a $450-a-month room in a nondescript boarding house in a high-crime neighborhood. Thanks to food stamps, the food pantry and help from relatives, Treece said he never goes hungry. But toothpaste, soap, toilet paper and other items that require cash are tougher to come by.
 
"Sometimes it makes you want to do the wrong thing, you know," Treece said, referring to crime. "But I ain't a kid no more. I can't do no time. At this point, I ain't got a lotta years left."
 
Treece remains positive and humble despite his circumstances.
 
"I don't ask for nothing," he said. "I just thank the Lord for this day and ask that tomorrow be just as blessed."
 
Like Treece, many who did physical labor during their peak earning years have watched their job prospects dim as their bodies gave out.
 
David Jones, the president of the Community Service Society of New York City, an advocacy group for the poor, testified before the House Ways and Means Committee last month that he was shocked to discover how pervasive the problem was.
 
"You have this whole cohort of, particularly African- Americans of limited skills, men, who can't participate in the workforce because they don't have skills to do anything but heavy labor," he said.
 
'A PERMANENT UNDERCLASS'
 
Severe poverty is worst near the Mexican border and in some areas of the South, where 6.5 million severely poor residents are struggling to find work as manufacturing jobs in the textile, apparel and furniture-making industries disappear. The Midwestern Rust Belt and areas of the Northeast also have been hard hit as economic restructuring and foreign competition have forced numerous plant closings.
 
At the same time, low-skilled immigrants with impoverished family members are increasingly drawn to the South and Midwest to work in the meatpacking, food processing and agricultural industries.
 
These and other factors such as increased fluctuations in family incomes and illegal immigration have helped push 43 percent of the nation's 37 million poor people into deep poverty - the highest rate in at least 32 years.
 
"What appears to be taking place is that, over the long term, you have a significant permanent underclass that is not being impacted by anti-poverty policies," said Michael Tanner, the director of Health and Welfare Studies at the Cato Institute, a libertarian think tank.
 
Arloc Sherman, a senior researcher at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, a liberal think tank, disagreed. "It doesn't look like a growing permanent underclass," said Sherman, whose organization has chronicled the growth of deep poverty. "What you see in the data are more and more single moms with children who lose their jobs and who aren't being caught by a safety net anymore."
 
About 1.1 million such families account for roughly 2.1 million deeply poor children, Sherman said.
 
After fleeing an abusive marriage in 2002, 42-year-old Marjorie Sant moved with her three children from Arkansas to a seedy boarding house in Raleigh, N.C., where the four shared one bedroom. For most of 2005, they lived off food stamps and the $300 a month in Social Security Disability Income for her son with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Teachers offered clothes to Sant's children. Saturdays meant lunch at the Salvation Army.
 
"To depend on other people to feed and clothe your kids is horrible," Sant said. "I found myself in a hole and didn't know how to get out."
 
In the summer of 2005, social workers warned that she'd lose her children if her home situation didn't change. Sant then brought her two youngest children to a temporary housing program at the Raleigh Rescue Mission while her oldest son moved to California to live with an adult daughter from a previous marriage.
 
So for 10 months, Sant learned basic office skills. She now lives in a rented house, works two jobs and earns about $20,400 a year.
 
Sant is proud of where she is, but she knows that "if something went wrong, I could well be back to where I was."
 
'I'M GETTING NOWHERE FAST'
 
As more poor Americans sink into severe poverty, more individuals and families living within $8,000 above or below the poverty line also have seen their incomes decline. Steven Woolf of Virginia Commonwealth University attributes this to what he calls a "sinkhole effect" on income.
 
"Just as a sinkhole causes everything above it to collapse downward, families and individuals in the middle and upper classes appear to be migrating to lower-income tiers that bring them closer to the poverty threshold," Woolf wrote in the study.
 
Before Hurricane Katrina, Rene Winn of Biloxi, Miss., earned $28,000 a year as an administrator for the Boys and Girls Club. But for 11 months in 2006, she couldn't find steady work and wouldn't take a fast-food job. As her opportunities dwindled, Winn's frustration grew.
 
"Some days I feel like the world is mine and I can create my own destiny," she said. "Other days I feel a desperate feeling. Like I gotta' hurry up. Like my career is at a stop. Like I'm getting nowhere fast. And that's not me because I've always been a positive person."
 
After relocating to New Jersey for 10 months after the storm, Winn returned to Biloxi in September because of medical and emotional problems with her son. She and her two youngest children moved into her sister's home along with her mother, who has Alzheimer's. With her sister, brother-in-law and their two children, eight people now share a three-bedroom home.
 
Winn said she recently took a job as a technician at the state health department. The hourly job pays $16,120 a year. That's enough to bring her out of severe poverty and just $122 shy of the $16,242 needed for a single mother with two children to escape poverty altogether under current federal guidelines.
 
Winn eventually wants to transfer to a higher-paying job, but she's thankful for her current position.
 
"I'm very independent and used to taking care of my own, so I don't like the fact that I have to depend on the state. I want to be able to do it myself."
 
The Census Bureau's Survey of Income and Program Participation shows that, in a given month, only 10 percent of severely poor Americans received Temporary Assistance for Needy Families in 2003 - the latest year available - and that only 36 percent received food stamps.
 
Many could have exhausted their eligibility for welfare or decided that the new program requirements were too onerous. But the low participation rates are troubling because the worst byproducts of poverty, such as higher crime and violence rates and poor health, nutrition and educational outcomes, are worse for those in deep poverty.
 
Over the last two decades, America has had the highest or near-highest poverty rates for children, individual adults and families among 31 developed countries, according to the Luxembourg Income Study, a 23-year project that compares poverty and income data from 31 industrial nations.
 
"It's shameful," said Timothy Smeeding, the former director of the study and the current head of the Center for Policy Research at Syracuse University. "We've been the worst performer every year since we've been doing this study."
 
With the exception of Mexico and Russia, the U.S. devotes the smallest portion of its gross domestic product to federal anti-poverty programs, and those programs are among the least effective at reducing poverty, the study found. Again, only Russia and Mexico do worse jobs.
 
One in three Americans will experience a full year of extreme poverty at some point in his or her adult life, according to long-term research by Mark Rank, a professor of social welfare at the University of Wisconsin, Madison.
 
An estimated 58 percent of Americans between the ages of 20 and 75 will spend at least a year in poverty, Rank said. Two of three will use a public assistance program between ages 20 and 65, and 40 percent will do so for five years or more.
 
These estimates apply only to non-immigrants. If illegal immigrants were factored in, the numbers would be worse, Rank said.
 
"It would appear that for most Americans the question is no longer if, but rather when, they will experience poverty. In short, poverty has become a routine and unfortunate part of the American life course," Rank wrote in a recent study. "Whether these patterns will continue throughout the first decade of 2000 and beyond is difficult to say ... but there is little reason to think that this trend will reverse itself any time soon."
 
'SOMETHING REAL AND TROUBLING'
 
Most researchers and economists say federal poverty estimates are a poor tool to gauge the complexity of poverty. The numbers don't factor in assistance from government anti-poverty programs, such as food stamps, housing subsidies and the Earned Income Tax Credit, all of which increase incomes and help pull people out of poverty.
 
But federal poverty measures also exclude work-related expenses and necessities such as day care, transportation, housing and health care costs, which eat up large portions of disposable income, particularly for low-income families.
 
Alternative poverty measures that account for these shortcomings typically inflate or deflate official poverty statistics. But many of those alternative measures show the same kind of long-term trends as the official poverty data.
 
Robert Rector, a senior researcher with the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank, questioned the growth of severe poverty, saying that census data become less accurate farther down the income ladder. He said many poor people, particularly single mothers with boyfriends, underreport their income by not including cash gifts and loans. Rector said he's seen no data that suggest increasing deprivation among the very poor.
 
Arloc Sherman of the liberal Center on Budget and Policy Priorities argues that the growing number of severely poor is an indisputable fact.
 
"When we check against more complete government survey data and administrative records from the benefit programs themselves, they confirm that this trend is real," Sherman said. He added that even among the poor, severely poor people have a much tougher time paying their bills. "That's another sign to me that we're seeing something real and troubling," Sherman said.
 
McClatchy correspondent Barbara Barrett contributed to this report.
 
BY THE NUMBERS
 
States with the most people in severe poverty:
 
California - 1.9 million
Texas - 1.6 million
New York - 1.2 million
Florida - 943,670
Illinois - 681,786
Ohio - 657,415
Pennsylvania - 618,229
Michigan - 576,428
Georgia - 562,014
North Carolina - 523,511
 
Source: U.S. Census Bureau

http://www.zmag.org/content/showarticle.cf...mp;ItemID=12201
aviatrix
thank you so much for posting in these threads no hope.

what always kills me is how the tv pundits always go on and on about there being a "great economy" whenever there is a republican in office-- no matter how shitty it really is. blathering about an increase in productivity, and how wonderful! blech.


i remember someone explaining increases in productivity like this:

imagine that you are pharroh and you have ten slaves to haul a huge brick up a pyramid. lets say two of the slaves mouths off and you have em killed. the same job has to get done, right? but there is two less people to do the work. killing those two people you have just increased productivity by 20%. same thing today. less people doing the same amount of work. an increase in productivity doesn't do much for the working class...or many others either.
nohope
thanks aviatrix

if you liked that there is a really great three part sieries the first part of which was in the February 2007 issue of Z Magazine called A Trillion Doller Income Shift.

It always amazes me that people shy away from comparing our economy to slavery. And maybe who has the agency to contole their own servitude does make a difrence. Maybe is does make a difference that we don't actually get shot, but rather, when we make trouble or there simply is not enough work, we are told by our masters, "sorry but we just can't afford to make even a pretence of sustaining you any more." And really that is the brilliance of Capitalism. Capitalism relives the slave owning class of any responsibility to the slaves. After all the slaves are free. If they don't like the conditions of their servitude under one master they can just go find another.

talking about.

1,400 Suicides in One Region Alone Last Year
Two Million in "Maximum Distress"

by P. Sainath

February 25, 2007
CounterPunch
[i]

Ramesshwar Kuchankar decided that the Agricultural Produce Marketing Committee was where he would take his own life. He did, on November 28 in Panderkauda, Yavatmal. Ten days later, Dinesh Ghughul was shot dead by the police at the Wani cotton market in the same district. And Pundalik Girsawle walked into the premises of the agricultural officer, Wani, and killed himself there 12 days after Ghughul's death.

http://www.zmag.org/content/showarticle.cf...mp;ItemID=12208

nohope
The Socialist Strugle for Womens Equality
The first IWD was observed on 28 February 1909 in the United States following a declaration by the Socialist Party of America. Among other relevant historic events, it commemorates the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire (New York, 1911), where over 140 women lost their lives. The idea of having an international women's day was first put forward at the turn of the 20th century amid rapid world industrialization and economic expansion that led to protests over working conditions. By urban legend[1] [2], women from clothing and textile factories staged one such protest on 8 March 1857 in New York City[citation needed]. The garment workers were protesting what they saw as very poor working conditions and low wages. The protesters were attacked and dispersed by police. These women established their first labor union in the same month two years later.

More protests followed on 8 March in subsequent years, most notably in 1908 when 15,000 women marched through New York City demanding shorter hours, better pay and voting rights[citation needed]. In 1910 the first international women's conference was held in Copenhagen (in the labour-movement building located at Jagtvej 69, which until recently housed Ungdomshuset) by the Second International and an 'International Women's Day' was established, which was submitted by the important German Socialist Clara Zetkin. The following year, IWD was marked by over a million people in Austria, Denmark, Germany and Switzerland. However, soon thereafter, the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire in New York City killed over 140 garment workers. A lack of safety measures was blamed for the high death toll. Furthermore, on the eve of World War I, women across Europe held peace rallies on 8 March 1913. In the West, International Women's Day was commemorated during the 1910s and 1920s, but dwindled. It was revived by the rise of feminism in the 1960s.

Demonstrations marking International Women's Day in Russia proved to be the first stage of the Russian Revolution of 1917. Following the October Revolution, the Bolshevik feminist Alexandra Kollontai persuaded Lenin to make it an official holiday, and it was established, but was a working day until 1965. On May 8, 1965 by the decree of the USSR Presidium of the Supreme Soviet International Women's Day was declared as a non working day in the USSR "in commemoration of outstanding merits of the Soviet women in communistic construction, in the defense of their Motherland during the Great Patriotic War, their heroism and selflessness at the front and in rear, and also marking the big contribution of women to strengthening friendship between peoples and struggle for the peace."
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/International_Women's_Day

http://www.internationalwomensday.com/events.asp
nohope
On Capitalism, Europe, and the World Bank
Noam Chomsky interviewed by
Dennis Ott


April 02, 2007

Dennis Ott: In a recent interview you quoted Thorstein Veblen, who contrasted “substantial people” and “underlying population.”[1] At a shareholder’s meeting of Allianz AG, major shareholder Hans-Martin Buhlmannn expressed the view that there is only one limit to the increase of the dividend: “The inferiors must not be bled so much that they can no longer consume. They must survive as consumers.”[2] Is this the guiding principle of our economic system? And if so, is there any substance to the notion of a “social market economy”?

Noam Chomsky: Those are traditional questions in economics. It’s part of Marx’s reasoning about why there’s going to be a continuing crisis of capitalism: that owners are going to try to squeeze the work force as much as possible, but they can’t go too far, it’ll be nobody to purchase what they buy. And it’s been dealt with over and over again in one or another way during the history of capitalism; there’s an inherent problem.

So for example, Henry Ford famously tried to pay his workers a higher wage than the going wage, because partly on this reasoning – he was not a theoretical economist, but partly on the grounds that if he doesn’t pay his workers enough and other people won’t pay their workers enough, there’s going to be nobody around to buy his model-T Fords. Actually that issue came to court in the United States, around 1916 or so, and led to a fundamental principle of Anglo-American corporate law, which is part of the reason why the Anglo-American system is slightly different from the European social market system. There was a famous case called “Dodge v. Ford.” Some of the stockholders of the Ford motor company, the Dodge brothers, brought Henry Ford to court, claiming that by paying the workers a higher wage, and by making cars better than they had to be made, he was depriving them of their profits – because it’s true: dividends would be lower. They went to the courts, and they won.

The courts decided that the management of the corporation has the legal responsibility to maximize the yield of the profit to its stockholders, that’s its job. The corporations had already been granted the right of persons, and this basically says they have to be a certain type of pathological person, a person that does nothing except try to maximize his own gain – that’s the legal requirement on a corporation, and that’s a core principle of Anglo-American corporate law. So when, say, Milton Friedman points out that corporations just have to have one interest in life, maximizing profit and market share, he is legally correct, that is what the law says. The reason the Dodge brothers wanted it was because they wanted to start their own car company, and that ended up being Dodge, Chrysler, Daimler-Chrysler and so on. And that remains a core principle of corporate law.

Now, there were modifying traditional decisions, which said that a corporation is permitted legally – that means, the management is permitted legally – to carry out benevolent activities, like to join the Millennium Fund or something, but only if it improves their humanitarian image and therefore increases their profit. So a drug company can give away cheap drugs to the poor, but as long as the television cameras are on; then it’s still legal. And in fact, there’s an important decision by an American court, which is quite intriguing. It urges corporations to carry out benevolent activities; it says – and I’m quoting it now – or else “an aroused public” may figure out what corporations are up to, and take away their privileges – because after all, they’re just granted by the government, there’s nothing in the constitution, there’s no legal basis for them, it’s a radical violation of classical liberal principles and free market principles. They’re just granted by powerful institutions, and “an aroused public” might see through it and take it away. So you should have things like the Gleneagles conference once in a while, which is mostly fake, but looks good, and this is basically the court decision.

How does the social market system differ? There’s no principle of economics or anything else that says – first of all that even says that corporations should exist, but granting that they exist – that they should be concerned only with the maximization of gain for their stockholders instead of what’s sometimes called “stakeholders”: the community, the work force, everything else. As far as economics is concerned, it’s just another way of running things. And the European system to an extent has stakeholder interest. So, say, Germany has a theoretical form of co-determination – mostly theoretical, but some degree of worker participation in management, acceptance of unions, that’s been a partial move towards stakeholder interest. And the governmental social democratic programs are other examples of it.

The United States happens to be pretty much at the extreme of keeping to the principle that the corporate system must be pathological, and that the government is allowed to and glad to intervene to uphold that principle. The European system is somewhat different, the British system is somewhat in between, and they all vary.

Like during the New Deal period in the United States and during the 1960s, the United States veered somewhat towards a social market system. That’s why the Bush administration, who are of extreme reactionary sort, are trying to dismantle the few elements where the social market exists. Why are they trying to destroy social security, for example? I mean, there’s no serious economic problem, it’s all fraud. It’s in as good fiscal health as it’s ever been in its history, but it is a system which benefits the general population. It is of no use at all to the wealthy. Like, I get social security when I retire, but I’ve been a professor at MIT for fifty years, so I got a big pension and so on and so forth, I wouldn’t even notice if I didn’t get social security. But a very large part of the population, maybe 60% or something like that, actually survive on it. So therefore it’s a system that obviously has to be destroyed. It’s useless for the wealthy, it’s useless for privilege, it contributes nothing to profit. It has other bad features, like it’s based on the principle that you should care about somebody else, like you should care whether a disabled widow has food to eat. And that’s hopelessly immoral by the moral principles of power and privilege, so you’ve got to knock that idea out of people’s heads, and therefore you want to get rid of the system.

And in fact a lot of what’s called – ridiculously – “conservatism” is just pathological fanaticism, based on maximization of power and wealth in accord with principles that do have a legal basis.

But to get back to your original question, these are just choices. I mean, there are choices as to whether corporations should even exist, or why they’re even legitimate. They’re just tyrannies. Why should tyrannies exist? They are not supposed to exist in the political realm, there’s no reason why they should exist in the economic realm. But if they do, they could be imagined in all sorts of different ways, and there’s constant class struggle and pressures that lead to one or another outcome.

I mean the European system developed out of its complex historical background. I’m sure you know the original welfare states were basically Germany in the Bismarckian period – not because Bismarck was a big radical. And in fact to an extent, the European systems reflect the fact that they grew out of a feudal system. A feudal system is non-capitalist. In a feudal system everyone has a place – maybe a rotten place, but some place. So the serf has some place in the feudal system, they have some rights within that place in the system.

In a capitalist system, you don’t have any rights. And in fact when modern capitalism developed in the early 19th century – this is post-Adam Smith or anything like that, but Ricardo and Malthus and so on – their principle was pretty simple: you don’t have any rights. The only rights a person has are what they can gain in the labor market. And beyond that, you’ve no right to live, you’ve no right to survive. If you can’t make out on the labor market, go somewhere else. And in fact they could go somewhere else, they could come here and exterminate the population and settle here. But in Europe, you couldn’t do that, so some remnants of the whole feudal system and conservative structures and so on did lead to – after all, Europe had huge labor movements, the German social democratic party grew out of very powerful movements, and they just forced the development of what became social market systems.

After World War II, it was a very complex situation; the Second World War had a highly radicalizing effect, and the anti-fascist resistance had plenty of prestige. It was pretty radical; it was calling for quite radical democracy – it’s sometimes called communism, but it often had nothing to do with that. It’s just very radical democracy, worker’s control and so on and so forth, and it was so wide-spread, some kind of settlement had to be made with it.

If anyone were to write an honest history of post-WWII period, the first chapter would be devoted to how the British and American forces liberating Europe, one of the first things they did was to destroy the resistance, and to undermine the labor movement, and to try to beat back the efforts to create radical democratic programs. It varied in different countries but happened everywhere. Like in Italy, it started happening in 1943, since they moved in. By the time, the British and American forces reached Northern Italy, it had been pretty well liberated by the resistance, they had driven out the Germans mostly, and they had established their own institutions: worker-managed industrial systems, cooperatives, and so on. The British and Americans were totally appalled, they had to dismantle the whole thing and restore the rights of owners, meaning restore the traditional fascist system. An in fact, in the case of Italy, it’s particularly interesting. It continued at least into the 1970s. Italy was the main center of CIA subversion, well into the 1970s, but it happened everywhere else, too. In Greece, there was a war to destroy the resistance; they killed about a 150,000 people, and ended up restoring something like the traditional fascist structure.

Not long after the United States strongly supported the first restoration of actual fascism in Europe, and continued to support it, it was overthrown by the Greeks. And elsewhere it took different forms. In England and the United States, there were similar things happening. The population was also radicalized, and there had to be some adaptation to them, so you get the welfare state periods. But this is just the constant flux of struggle and conflict internal to hierarchic societies. There’s no right answer to it.


DO: In a commentary on ZNet, John Feffer praised the EU for being “more democratic, more economically fair-minded, more environmentally conscious, and more diplomatically sensitive” than the U.S.[3] However, many European dissidents criticize the project as an attack on democracy, and as pushing forward militarization and the dismantling of the welfare state in the member countries; in similar spirit, you described it as “a central banker system.”[4] What is your view – from the American perspective – on the emerging superpower Europe?

NC: There’s no particular American perspective… I mean, there is an American elite perspective, which is not mine. The general idea of European unity is a good idea. I think the world should be federalized in some sense, and the erosion of the nation-state system is a good thing. Nation-state systems basically arose in Europe in their modern sense, and they’re extremely unnatural social organizations. They had to be imposed on the populations by violence, extreme violence. Just look at the history of modern Europe, it’s a history of savage wars and destruction going back centuries. In the 17th century and the Thirty Years War, probably forty percent of the population of Germany was wiped out.

And the only reason it stopped in 1945 is because of a common realization that you just can’t do it anymore; the next war is going to destroy everything, we developed means of savagery that are too great to be employed. So therefore we have what’s called a democratic peace by political scientists. Probably the main factor in it is just that the means of destruction are so enormous that powerful states can’t go to war with each other, the war is the end.

And then you get steps towards integration. Some of it is healthy, some of it is unhealthy; it’s a mixture. So, the role of the Central Bank in Europe, which you mentioned, is very reactionary. In fact, even American conservatives criticize them, as granting far too much authority to a wholly undemocratic institution; it’s just not answerable to the public. That’s a form of autocracy that doesn’t exist in the United States; there’s the Federal Reserve, but it has nothing like the power of the European Central Bank. In principle at least, it’s under some form of democratic control – limited, for all sorts of reasons, but some form. And, in fact, it’s commonly argued by economists that part of the reason for the sluggishness – it’s exaggerated, but the partial sluggishness – of the European economy is just that the Central Bank decisions tend to discourage growth, and they’re not under public control.

Well, that’s a negative aspect. A positive aspect is that there’s some erosion of the extremely dangerous nation-state system. In fact, one of the consequences which – in my view at least – is a healthy one is a degree of regionalization throughout much of Europe. That is, a revival of a degree of local autonomy, of regional cultures, of regional languages, and so on. So like in Spain, there’s a fair amount of autonomy in the Catalan area, the Basque area, there’s similarly in others a revival of the languages… A lot of it is, I think, an extremely healthy development.

So for example, I happened to visit Barcelona, shortly after the Franco period, and then ten years later. And the differences were remarkable. For one thing, you heard Catalan in the streets, which you hadn’t heard before. And for another thing, there was just a revival of cultural practices and so on. You know, people flocking to the main cathedral on Sunday morning, with dancing and traditional singing and so on. That’s all fine, you know. It revives or gives some significance to life. And it has its negative aspects, too. It means harsh discrimination against Spanish workers who happen to be working in Catalonia. I mean, life’s a complicated affair.

But all of these things are happening, and some of them are healthy and should be encouraged, others not. I think, say, the French vote on the European constitution was basically a class vote. I mean, working people and peasants could see perfectly well that the constitution was an instrument of class warfare which is going to harm them by imposing neo-liberal conditions and undermining the social market from which they benefit.

There were also other elements; there were racist elements. The opposition in continental Europe to bring in Turkey – you can hide it in all sorts of nice terminology, but it’s fundamentally racist. I mean, Germans don’t want to have Turks lurking around in the streets. Europe has quite a tradition of racism, no need to talk about it.

So it’s a complex web of concerns. In general, I think that moves towards European integration are a good idea. Extending the Union to the East is again a complicated matter. US elites are strongly in favor of it. But that’s because they’ve always been concerned that Europe might move off into the wrong direction, out of US control. That’s been a big concern since the Second World War. Europe’s economy is at least on a par with the United States, it’s an educated population, a larger population. Except in the military dimension, it’s a counterpart or even superior to the United States, and so it could move off on its own. And bringing in the peripheral states, the former East European satellites, tends to dilute the strength of the core of the European commercial-industrial economic center, namely France and Germany, and to bring in countries that are more subject to US influence. So it might undermine moves towards European independence.

A lot of the things that are going on in the world are similar. Like, take the Iraq war. I’m sure that a large part of the purpose of the Iraq war is with an eye on Europe and North East Asia. I mean, if the United States can control the world’s energy resources, then it has what George Kennan 50 years ago called “veto power” over what competitors can do. And the more astute political analysts have pointed that out pretty openly, like Zbigniew Brzezinski. He wasn’t particularly in favor of the war, but he said that it will give the United States “critical leverage” over European and Asian competitors. That’s part of the things that happen in the world.

In fact, it’s not too well known, but the expansion of NATO to the East by Clinton was an explicit violation of promises, formal promises made to Gorbachev in, I think, 1990 by George Bush Nr. One. Gorbachev agreed to the unification of Germany on condition that NATO not expand to the East. For Russia to agree to German unification is a very hazardous step. I don’t have to run through it, but the history of the past century explains why. But they did agree on the condition that NATO not expand to the East. Clinton quickly backed off on that commitment and did expand NATO to the East, which is a tremendous strategic threat to the Soviet Union. And it caused the Russians to change their military doctrines. Russia had previously adopted the NATO doctrine of first strike with nuclear forces, even against non-nuclear states. But in the early nineties, they dropped it. But once NATO was expanded to the East, they reinstated it. So now we have superpowers facing each other with first-strike strategic options and missiles on hair-trigger alert – practically a recipe for global disaster.

So lots of things are involved in these decisions.

DO: Last year’s appointment of Paul Wolfowitz as President of the World Bank caused angry reactions all over the world, even some irritations in the Western countries. Is there any detectable change in the World Bank's policy since Wolfowitz has taken office, and what is the signal the Bush administration has sent to the world by appointing this controversial figure to the institution's head?

NC: Unlike most of my friends, I was in favor of that appointment. The reason is pretty simple: I think he can do much less damage in the World Bank than in the Pentagon. So getting him out of the Pentagon almost anywhere is a good decision. In the World Bank, I suppose he’ll be a bureaucrat, like other bureaucrats.

I mean, the only record he has that’s relevant is his record in Indonesia, which, in fact, his supporters bring up. They say, you know, he has an experience with development, look at his role in Indonesia, and so on…

What was his role in Indonesia? He was one of the strongest and most vocal supporters of one of the worst murderers and tyrants of the late 20th century. Human-rights activists in Indonesia can’t even remember a case where he said a word about human rights, or about democracy. He was just a strong supporter of the murderous, brutal tyrant and aggressor Suharto. And in fact he remained so, even after the Indonesians had finally thrown him out.

They claim that his task in the World Bank is supposed to be to root out corruption – that’s the prime task that’s been assigned to him. Suharto was the most corrupt dictator of the late 20th century. I mean, there is a monitor of corruption, Transparency International, a British-based institution. About two years ago, they ranked regimes in terms of corruption: Suharto was far in the lead, way beyond Mobutu and others way below. And that’s Wolfowitz’s favorite. So, based on those credentials – delight with corruption, concentration of wealth, tyranny, human-rights violations, destruction of democracy – he’s the candidate for the World Bank.

Will he do any worse than anyone else? My guess is: probably not; he’ll be a bureaucrat like other bureaucrats. So far, there’s no indication of any shift in World Bank policy that I’ve seen, and I wouldn’t particularly expect any.

References
[1] “Fight the Power,” Noam Chomsky interviewed by Ian Rappel, Socialist Review (online), July 2005.

[2] Quoted in Arne Daniels, Stefan Schmitz, and Marcus Vogel, “Wir alle sind Heuschrecken,” stern 20/2005, p. 24 (interviewer’s translation).

[3] John Feffer, “Europe as Number One?”, ZNet (online), May 26, 2005.

[4] Noam Chomsky and David Barsamian, Propaganda and the Public Mind, Cambridge, Mass.: South End Press, 2001, p. 51.


Noam Chomsky is Institute Professor and Professor of Linguistics Emeritus at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. His recent publications on political matters include Hegemony or Survival, Failed States, and Imperial Ambitions.

Dennis Ott is a graduate student of linguistics at Harvard University. He can be contacted at dott@fas.harvard.edu.


http://www.zmag.org/content/showarticle.cf...mp;ItemID=12475
nohope
In Debt We Trust: America Before the Bubble Burst


AMY GOODMAN: We're talking to Keith Ernst, senior policy counsel for the Center for Responsible Lending in Durham, North Carolina. We're also joined in studio by filmmaker and journalist Danny Schechter, who has a new film called In Debt We Trust. Your response to the subprime lending and this unprecedented number of foreclosures in the country?

DANNY SCHECHTER: You know, Amy, when we talk about this, I think of a phrase we used to use back at ABC when I worked there, it’s called “MEGO,” and that refers to “my eyes glaze over.” Whenever people hear about economic issues, they sort of tune out, because it sounds very complicated. What this reduces itself to is a crime. We're talking about a crime -- CSI, crime scene -- and we're part of this crime scene. We're talking about a cesspool of corruption implicating some of the biggest banks and financial institutions in the country, inattention by the regulators. 52% of the agencies making these loans are not even regulatable, because they're not federally regulated organizations. We're talking about millions of Americans who can't make their bills, who are squeezed beyond belief.

And this is not just an issue for regulators. This is an issue for progressives to respond to. We need a movement here to try to take up these issues of economic justice in America, because we're not paying attention to it. And this cuts across racial lines. It cuts across ethnic lines. It cuts across also political lines. We’ve set up Americans for Debt Relief Now, an organization like Bono does in Africa for debt relief. We need it in America. We have a website stopthesqueeze.org, as a way to fight back, as a way for people who are in debt to stop being demonized by the media, which is what’s happening now, and to be recognized as the victims they are.

AMY GOODMAN: Danny, we're going to lose our satellite in Durham, North Carolina, and I just wanted to ask our guest there, Keith Ernst, about the federal laws -- for example, the possibility of a reintroduction of the Prohibit Predatory Lending Act that was introduced, I think, two years ago.

KEITH ERNST: I think it's clear that legislation will be introduced in Congress, and we're hopeful that it will move forward this time. You know, it’s been talked about for years now. And we're hopeful that this year can be the year that legislation can move forward and help borrowers, because, you know, as your guest there is saying, it's sorely needed now.

JUAN GONZALEZ: And, Keith, could you talk -- because one of the things -- those of us who have a little bit of a historical memory on the housing crises in America recall that this country goes through periodic crises on speculation and abuse in housing from the HUD crises of the 1960s, the savings and loans crisis of the ’80s, and now we're confronted now in this decade with this huge crisis, and it seems like many of these characters just reappear with new companies and new banks or new lending procedures, but the same kind of scams. What can be done on a more consistent level, as Danny is raising, to be able to protect people who do not necessarily know all of their rights in terms of lending, especially when it comes to homes?

KEITH ERNST: Right, well, I think you're right that, you know, we’ve seen many episodes in, you know, not-too-distant memory, where mortgage lenders have essentially been betting people's houses, you know, so that they can make profits. And that’s what ties all of these cycles together, is the mortgage lender says, “Hey! You know, take a loan from me. Don't worry about it. In two years, if you need to refinance, we'll be able to get you out of this loan.” And, you know, eventually that house of cards comes crashing down.

Now, moving forward, what can be done? I think, you know, the law should recognize the reality. Borrowers look to the person sitting opposite them at the table -- most, usually nowadays, in subprime market, a mortgage broker -- as an expert, as someone who’s helping them pick out their best mortgage. Sadly, this often could be -- you know, could not be further from the truth. And so, what the law should do is recognize what borrowers expect and need, which is that the person who's helping provide them a mortgage actually do just that: help provide them a mortgage that meets their needs.

AMY GOODMAN: Keith Ernst, we're going to leave it there. I want to thank you for being with us. We'll link to your website at the Center for Responsible Lending, speaking to us from Durham, North Carolina. Juan?

JUAN GONZALEZ: As we continue to look at the issue of subprime loans and debt, we turn to a new film by Danny Schechter called In Debt We Trust: America Before the Bubble Burst. This excerpt of the film looks at the prevalence of predatory lenders in the subprime industry.

RONALD SILVERMAN: The severity of the problem of home mortgage lending in a predatory way may be quantified in the following terms. You are talking in recent years of a problem that every year transfers hundreds of billions of dollars from the --

DANNY SCHECHTER: Hundreds of billions?

RONALD SILVERMAN: Hundreds of billions of dollars.

DANNY SCHECHTER: You said “billions”?

RONALD SILVERMAN: I said “billions,” not “millions,” from the pockets of the poor to people who are far better position than their so-called victims.

DANNY SCHECHTER: That's what happened to the Fayez family. They trusted one of these scammers who demanded their house deed when they took out a loan. The family was soon dispossessed and out on the street. Their ordeal was so shocking that it made the newspapers.

MICHELL FAYEZ-OLABI: When the marshal came, my children was having lunch on a Wednesday, the coldest day in January, and said, “You have ten minutes to leave.” My children have suffered nightmares. My son Daniel would hide under a seat of the car when he will see a police officer. You know, they still remember what they were having for lunch, what they had in the microwave that was left there. They could not even pack their things.

Here I am, a hard-working mother of four at the time, not wanting to go on welfare -- sure, they will pay a rent for us, then give us food, but that's not our ambition -- wanting to keep our house as an inheritance for our children. It's not something wrong. And we weren't well-educated as to how swift and conniving these people are.

DANNY SCHECHTER: That's what happened to Mary Paskiewicz. She teared up as she told me her story in front of the home she grew up in in South Philadelphia. She lost it to a fraudulent home improvement scam.

MARY PASKIEWICZ: It was very hard. I lost my father in this house. It upsets me, upsets me immensely. I haven't been back around here for a while.

DANNY SCHECHTER: This is your place still, in your heart?

MARY PASKIEWICZ: Yeah. Yeah. It is. My father died in this house, and he never wanted me to lose it. And I feel like I failed him, too.

AMY GOODMAN: An excerpt of In Debt We Trust: America Before the Bubble Burst. The film was directed by Danny Schechter, “the News Dissector,” a veteran journalist, and he’s also a media critic and co-founder of mediachannel.org, one of the largest online media issues networks. He has more than twenty films to his credit. Danny joins us now in our firehouse studio.

Danny, talk about these people and the broader context in which you did this film.

DANNY SCHECHTER: What I tried to do in the film is link the stories of the victims, of the people who are suffering, of whom there are now millions in America. This is a new Katrina -- let's think of it that way -- a disaster affecting low-income people, but also increasingly middle-income people as the income divide in America grows. The housing crunch is now spilling over into other parts of our lives. $25,000 on average is what students leave college with with loans and debts. People are paying, in the last year, some $65 billion just in late fees and interest payments on credit cards. This is a kind of a vacuum cleaner into your pocket and taking your money and swinging it over into Wall Street so that Goldman Sachs can give out, you know, $16 billion Christmas gifts to its employees. It's blatant, it's obscene, and it's dramatic, and it's institutional. And this is what we have to realize.

We talk about financialization, which is like the loan and credit complex, very much like the military-industrial complex, that has emerged in this country, structured around big banks and credit card companies who are making large profits in the market and from us as consumers without very much scrutiny, in part because they spend $5 billion a year marketing. You watch the Super Bowl, you see all the great spots for Visa and MasterCard. They're pervasive in the media, and the media is not doing a very good job of offering analysis.

I mean, the sort of stories Juan has been doing in the Daily News, really going into the neighborhoods, very few and far between in what we see in our media about this problem. That's because America has shifted from a country that made things to a country that buys things. The factory used to be our icon of economic progress. Today, it’s the mall. And as a result, people are encouraged to shop ’til they drop: “We’ll lend you the money upfront.” And, of course, the piper has to be paid at the end of the day.

And that's why I made this film, because I began to realize, like, my savings was dribbling away. And, lo and behold, America's savings rate is at below 5%. In other words, nobody has savings anymore. It's almost like the recession or depression levels, and there are a lot of very serious people who are warning of a repression -- a recession, rather; we have a repression -- a recession, and worse, as a result of these trends. That's why this issue has to be one to be organized around. It's a struggle to try to get a film out that challenges really the center of power in America: financial power.

JUAN GONZALEZ: And, Danny, even on the issue of housing, the equity that people build up in their houses is constantly being attacked by people who want you to take out loans based on the value of your house, but that assumes obviously that real estate values will continue to go up when they don’t necessarily do.

DANNY SCHECHTER: Well, our homes have become ATM machines. You know, we’re basically taking money out in equity until there is no more money to be taken out, and now it's impacting on, you know, high-income people, as well. The New York Times on Sunday said because of this whole crisis, the lenders are tightening up on criteria to buy, you know, million-dollar condos and the rest, and housing is slowing in New York. A lot of people can't sell their homes the way they thought they would. You know, in New York and around the world -- around America, anyway -- reality is spelled “realty” for most people. That’s what they talk about -- their apartments, how much they're worth -- endlessly, endlessly, endlessly. Well, what happens when that value is gone or when you don’t have easy access to a market or people who want to buy your homes? You’re in trouble.

JUAN GONZALEZ: I’d like to ask you for a second about the college loan situation. Recently in New York State, the new attorney general, Andrew Cuomo, went after some major universities. It turns out the universities were not only hooking up special deals with lenders, but were getting kickbacks by the volume of loans that they were able to direct to their students to particular lenders.

DANNY SCHECHTER: Well, there's a lot of collusion here, you know, between the universities and the lenders, because there's a way to raise money for the university.

When I was at the Rochester Institute of Technology, I went to a lecture by Dr. Robert Manning, who wrote a book, Credit Card Nation, detailing this problem. And just outside his lecture hall, I went to the bathroom. I went outside, and I said, “Oh, my god! The banks have all set up tables, and they're signing kids up for credit cards and for accounts right here on the campus.” And we went out, took our cameras out of the presentation, and we took it next door, and we saw this process at work.

You know, all these kids, they want what everybody else has. They want to shop at the Gap. They want the nicest and the best and everything else. And they run up tremendous credit card balances, and then they can't pay. And we have not only suicides being reported of young people in despair over all of this, but kids leave school, and what do they do? They have to find the first job they can to pay back. They can't come and volunteer at Democracy Now! or mediachannel.org, because they have to pay off their loans. So their options, their life options, are being impacted by this, as well. That's why this debt problem is not just an economic issue, not just affecting housing, but affecting our whole society.

In our film, In Debt We Trust, we look at the bankruptcy bill that sailed through Congress with bipartisan support -- Democrats and Republicans -- supporting this measure. And this is why, after Katrina, we found out -- guess what? -- the people in New Orleans couldn't file for bankruptcy when they lost their homes, because floods had been taken out of the bill as a basis, you know, for relief.

AMY GOODMAN: Danny, you also talk about scamming soldiers.

DANNY SCHECHTER: Yes, indeed. You know, 100,000 veterans coming back from the Iraq war are in debt, and they’re dealing with these payday lenders. We were down in Norfolk, Virginia, around a naval base there. Last year, there had been three payday lenders. There are now thirty-six or twenty-six payday lenders and loan stores and what have you. People are going into hock, and they don't know how to get out of it. And we're talking about large numbers.

You know, I was given access by the Naval and Marine Corps Relief Society, not people I usually hang with, you know, because they want to call attention to this problem. And it affects everybody. That's why it's an issue that we should organize around. I reached out to MoveOn. I said, “Get involved on this issue, because it’s a way of bringing people together.” We need common ground issues that can unite Americans for economic justice, and we’re not seeing that happening. As factories close, as people lose their jobs, this credit crunch is really driving and taking away their assets. That's why In Debt We Trust is a very important film, I believe.

AMY GOODMAN: Well, Danny, are you using your film as an organizing tool. It's opening here in New York. Where tonight?

DANNY SCHECHTER: Here it is, Amy. This is the actual DVD, which is out. We have a website indebtwetrust.com and stopthesqueeze.org. We're trying to run a campaign alongside the film to get people active, a little bit the way Robert Greenwald did with his Outfoxed movie. But we're trying to take it one step further and actually organize people and encourage them to organize. We have all the major groups, like the National Center for Responsible Lending and ACORN are in the film and other organizations, NEDAP here in New York --

AMY GOODMAN: And it's opening tonight at the Quad --

DANNY SCHECHTER: Tonight at the Quad Cinema

AMY GOODMAN: -- in New York City.

DANNY SCHECHTER: 13th Street. 7:50. Tomorrow night, 7:50 p.m. at the Quad. Please come. Please tell your friends.

AMY GOODMAN:
Well, Danny, we want to ask you to stay with us, as we're going to move to another issue after break. We’re going to be speaking with the freed journalist Josh Wolf. He’ll join us from San Francisco. Danny Schechter, “the News Dissector,” his film is called In Debt We Trust: America Before the Bubble Burst.

http://www.democracynow.org/article.pl?sid=07/04/04/1343218
nohope
Mutualism, as a variety of anarchism, goes back to P.J. Proudhon in France and Josiah Warren in the U.S. It favors, to the extent possible, an evolutionary approach to creating a new society. It emphasizes the importance of peaceful activity in building alternative social institutions within the existing society, and strengthening those institutions until they finally replace the existing statist system. As Paul Goodman put it, "A free society cannot be the substitution of a 'new order' for the old order; it is the extension of spheres of free action until they make up most of the social life."

Other anarchist subgroups, and the libertarian left generally, share these ideas to some extent. Whether known as "dual power" or "social counterpower," or "counter-economics," alternative social institutions are part of our common vision. But they are especially central to mutualists' evolutionary understanding.

Mutualists belong to a non-collectivist segment of anarchists. Although we favor democratic control when collective action is required by the nature of production and other cooperative endeavors, we do not favor collectivism as an ideal in itself. We are not opposed to money or exchange. We believe in private property, so long as it is based on personal occupancy and use. We favor a society in which all relationships and transactions are non-coercive, and based on voluntary cooperation, free exchange, or mutual aid. The "market," in the sense of exchanges of labor between producers, is a profoundly humanizing and liberating concept. What we oppose is the conventional understanding of markets, as the idea has been coopted and corrupted by state capitalism.

Our ultimate vision is of a society in which the economy is organized around free market exchange between producers, and production is carried out mainly by self-employed artisans and farmers, small producers' cooperatives, worker-controlled large enterprises, and consumers' cooperatives. To the extent that wage labor still exists (which is likely, if we do not coercively suppress it), the removal of statist privileges will result in the worker's natural wage, as Benjamin Tucker put it, being his full product.

Because of our fondness for free markets, mutualists sometimes fall afoul of those who have an aesthetic affinity for collectivism, or those for whom "petty bourgeois" is a swear word. But it is our petty bourgeois tendencies that put us in the mainstream of the American populist/radical tradition, and make us relevant to the needs of average working Americans. Most people distrust the bureaucratic organizations that control their communities and working lives, and want more control over the decisions that affect them. They are open to the possibility of decentralist, bottom-up alternatives to the present system. But they do not want an America remade in the image of orthodox, CNT-style syndicalism.

Mutualism is not "reformist," as that term is used pejoratively by more militant anarchists. Nor is it necessarily pacifistic, although many mutualists are indeed pacifists. The proper definition of reformism should hinge, not on the means we use to build a new society or on the speed with which we move, but on the nature of our final goal. A person who is satisfied with a kinder, gentler version of capitalism or statism, that is still recognizable as state capitalism, is a reformist. A person who seeks to eliminate state capitalism and replace it with something entirely different, no matter how gradually, is not a reformist.

"Peaceful action" simply means not deliberately provoking the state to repression, but rather doing whatever is possible (in the words of the Wobbly slogan) to "build the structure of the new society within the shell of the old" before we try to break the shell. There is nothing wrong with resisting the state if it tries, through repression, to reverse our progress in building the institutions of the new society. But revolutionary action should meet two criteria: 1) it should have strong popular support; and 2) it should not take place until we have reached the point where peaceful construction of the new society has reached its limits within existing society.

http://www.mutualist.org/

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mutualism_(economic_theory)
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pierre-Joseph_Proudhon
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_B._Greene
nohope
This is what our future looks like. Are you ready?

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