We’ve lived so long under the spell of hierarchy—from god-kings to feudal lords to party bosses—that only recently have we awakened to see not only that “regular” citizens have the capacity for self-governance, but that without their engagement our huge global crises cannot be addressed. The changes needed for human society simply to survive, let alone thrive, are so profound that the only way we will move toward them is if we ourselves, regular citizens, feel meaningful ownership of solutions through direct engagement. Our problems are too big, interrelated, and pervasive to yield to directives from on high.
—Frances Moore Lappé, excerpt from Time for Progressives to Grow Up
Thursday, April 13, 2017
Austerity never ends: Economists say wages are too high
I think that Dolack spends far too much time on the effects of wage labor on living living standards of workers instead of what it means to a worker and to be treated merely as a commodity. This is so typical of writers who have been thoroughly indoctrinated by capitalist propaganda that they miss, or don't clearly see, the background experience of being a commodity. Thus they tend to concentrate on low wages and benefits.
To owners of economic enterprises, being a worker in a capitalist economy means being essentially a rented wage slave . As such, you are transformed into a mere commodity in a labor market in which capitalists engage to secure the labor as a means to obtain profit, and profit for "owners" is by far the highest value in a capitalist society. At various times profitable economic activities do not attract capitalists to rent a sufficient number of workers for a variety of reasons: the boom and bust cycles inherent in a capitalist economy due to excessive run-up of debts and speculation in the mad pursuit of wealth, low wages by workers so that they cannot buy what capitalists offer for sale, owners cannot obtain loans at a satisfactory rate to invest in activities in order to produce profit, and the material needs of a society are already being met.
Thus under capitalism, advertising plays such a critical role in creating additional needs beyond housing, clothing, health, education, and other personal needs. Another way to stimulate consumption when wages are inadequate is the provision of debt. And the latest figures show that consumer debt as measured by credit card debt is reaching record levels. Student debt likewise. And bankruptcies and rates of default on debts are also reaching record levels.
Being a worker in a capitalist society means being a wage-slave commodity, and this creates all kinds of negative effects on workers. They tend to have no psychological investment in the work they do simply because they have no significant influence over the conditions of their work; whenever they create more efficient methods of doing work, such methods become legally the property of the "owner" if it happens at the owner's workplace; workers can be treated disrespectfully and even abusively within wide limits; and workers often experience job anxiety by working "at the pleasure" of the owners.
Thus a capitalist society is designed to serve the material benefits of capitalists, and the material benefits in terms of accumulated wealth give them additional power to shape how and what important decisions are made in any given society. The logical dynamic of capitalism is the ever increasing concentration of wealth in fewer hands with the result that the rest of society, which is the vast majority, merely exist to serve the needs of capitalists for ever more profit and power.
On the other hand, a socialist society theoretically exists to serve all of the people. That is why capitalist nations never spare any means to crush nations that want to experiment with measures to serve the vast majority of people whenever such measures might limit the rights and opportunities of capitalists. Because of this, no socialist nation has succeeded to survive the onslaught of nations governed by capitalists. The causalities include Spain whose socialist tendencies were crushed by Germany and Italy while the rest of the capitalist nations stood by in "neutrality"; the Soviet Union which deteriorated into a bureaucratic form after many decades of hostile actions by capitalist nations; Chile which elected a socialist candidate to head the government, Nicaragua after the Sandinistas took power, and other nations such as Venezuela that moved in that direction.