Imagine, if you will, that you are fielding a baseball team. You are a player on a team that possesses immense talent. Your opponent has never lost a game. The opposition is undefeated not because its players are superior to your own, but because it makes the rules of the game to assure its own victory. It wins because your team has to play by a fixed set of rules that it does not. Although you have an excellent pitcher on the mound, the strike zone is microscopic and in constant flux. Your opponent’s pitcher, however, enjoys a huge strike zone. Your opponent also owns all of the umpires officiating the contest. Who but a fool would play such a game with the expectation of competing, much less winning? The outcome of that game, no matter how well your team performs, has already been determined. To participate in such a charade is an exercise in futility.
Those of us who demand a better America find ourselves the unwitting participants in just such a game. We are in good faith trying to operate in a system that is inherently unjust. Corporate lobbyists have overrun the capitol, as well as every branch of government, including the judiciary. Corporations lord immense power over both people and process, when they should be servants to the people. Legislation is sold to the highest bidder. Workers, comprising some ninety percent of the populace, have no representation or protection against the industry predators that exploits them. We are bound by rules that our rulers are not. We cannot possibly compete in this system; much less create democratic freedoms and equality. The system operates on monetary capital, not moral capital. The system does not deserve our loyalty or our participation. The time has come to create a new game with a level playing field. Working people are weary of serving “The Man.”
Justice cannot be served without the full participation of the people in the process, and at every level.
Thinking that we can reform a system of economics and politics that is rotten to the core only serves the interest of wealth and power. Reform can do no more than maintain the status quo; it will assure the continuation of the present system in which power and influence is concentrated in the hands of a few, at the expense of the many.
Let us finally have the courage to acknowledge that the root cause of virtually everything that ails America can trace its origins to capitalism in its various incarnations. We have built our political and economic institutions upon a rotten foundation. The system cannot long stand. Under capitalism, the large majority will always be subservient to the small minority. To call this form of plutocratic despotism a democracy is an insult to our intelligence. How can any nation declare itself free when the great majority of its people are wage slaves to plutocrats and corporations? When they are cannon fodder for its powerful military?
If ever we are to have a chance at becoming a free and democratic society, rather than the permanent war economy we have become, capitalism must go. Working class people must come to see capitalism as the enemy it is. The way to democracy lies in putting the means of production into the hands of the workers themselves. But first the economy must be pried lose from the fingers of the plutocrats and the corporatists who claim to own it.
Political freedom can only occur through economic emancipation. Not only can the present economy not long endure -- it must inevitably collapse of its own excess and waste. Meanwhile, we must organize the work place with an old revolutionary unionism that was in vogue more than a hundred years ago. It was revolutionary unionism that gave us the weekend, paid vacation, and the eight-hour workday by prying them from the hands of the capitalists.
Loyalty to a system that is inherently unjust cannot provide justice to the masses. This will only assure the unbroken continuation of the unjust outcomes that are injurious to the great majority of the people. America is dying from the cancer of capitalism. The malignancy cannot be cured by giving her a few aspirins. Radical treatment is the only hope for her survival. The alternative is the certain death of hope for the vast majority of the people. Hope lies in the smoldering rubble of empire.
Working people must be more than the property of their employers. We must be more than machines to be exploited by those with wealth and power. Workers must emancipate themselves from the system of power and corruption that enslaves them and smothers their dreams for social and economic justice. The way to that freedom is through the economy -- industrial freedom.
The machinery that produces wealth for the small minority through the enslavement of the great majority came into being with public funds. For example, huge tracts of land were given to the railroads at the behest of corporate lawyers -- an advantage not enjoyed by people of average means. Never mind that this land was stolen from the Indians. However, capitalism allows the private ownership of the economic engines that drive the country. It fosters the concentration of wealth at the top by exploiting everyone below the top. That which was created with public funds belongs to the public, not to those with the capital to buy control through the courts and congress. Power to the people means that those who produce should enjoy fully the fruits of their labor, not merely a small percentage of it. This is assuredly the most just and expeditious means of self-emancipation from industrial slavery.
Through the deliberate perversion of language, with the aid of the commercial media and its lackeys, truth has been distorted almost beyond recognition. We the people must wake up from our stupor and understand how and why we are in the present predicament. Let us speak plain and clear truth to power whose meaning cannot be mistaken: Power to the people!
It is the pervasion of language that enables those who plunder the earth, which enslave the work force; and buy legislation from the law makers that legalizes criminality, to be called patriots or super patriots; while those who defend the earth from corporate marauders; who uphold and defend the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, are labeled unpatriotic or terrorists. We cannot allow this perversion of language to stand. Its sole purpose betrays our just cause and serves those with wealth and power, by betraying the core values that govern the behavior of the rest of us.
George Bush and his minions are not an aberration. They are the natural and expected fruit of capitalism run amok. Capitalists believe in plutocratic and corporate rule, the concentration of wealth and power. They are the product of a system of economic inequality and privilege that exploits the huge majority of the population and subjugates them into wage slavery as ‘at will’ employees. It preys upon the just -- those who play by the rules. The quagmire in Iraq, and the one to come in Iran, and in hundreds of other places, is the result of the social and economic injustice fostered by capitalism. Treating the symptoms will not affect a cure. Only addressing root causes can do that.
By engaging in party politics, the practice of pitting conservative against liberal, liberal against conservative, we are playing into the hands of the status quo. I have been all too guilty of this practice myself. It is an easy trap to fall into. By so doing we are unwittingly creating a diversion, a smoke screen, for the empire builders and power brokers to continue to play the game safely out of public view, assuring the same results, regardless of which party is in power.
To illustrate this point, consider the difference between George Bush and John Kerry in the last presidential election was more a matter of semantics than of substance. Both men are the product of wealth and privilege; neither of them represents the great majority of the people, the working class. Neither do their cohorts in Congress, an increasing number of which are millionaires. The appearance of choice is only an illusion, designed to deceive and to paralyze. By such means the system – capitalism -- wins and the people lose by being the unwittingly servants of empire. The ruling class remains in power and the working class remain their obedient servants. We must stop working against ourselves. We have enough to do to overcome the real enemy.
As incredible as it may seem, the average liberal and the average conservative have more in common with one another, than they have in common with their respective political parties and their champions. The great majority of conservatives and liberals are victims of a system that not only does not serve them -- it exploits them. Thus when conservatives take to heart the rhetoric of the vitriolic Rush Limbaugh, a wealthy white man, a product of the system; a member of the ruling class -- they are in fact working against their own self interest. They are allowing themselves to be exploited and played for fools, while thieves make off with everything they own. Who benefits? Limbaugh and the ruling class who are using the system for their own ends -- that is who benefits. Ordinary people of average means would be wise not to set foot into that trap because it does not serve their cause. We are spending too much time and energy fighting one another, rather than the real enemy, the system itself -- capitalism.
History bears me out on my assertion that capitalism has never served the interest of ordinary working people. It never will. The sooner we understand this fact, the better.
Charles Sullivan is a photographer and freelance writer living in the Eastern panhandle of West Virginia. He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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