Friday, November 10, 2006

How They Rule Us


How They Rule Us

Capitalism, as we have seen, is a class divided society based on exploitation. Under capitalism a tiny highly privileged minority rules over the large majority and lives off their labour. How do they get away with it ?

The answer, as the Italian Marxist, Antonio Gramsci pointed out, is by a combination of force and consent. In reality force and consent are very closely intertwined and mutually reinforce each other, but for the moment I shall discuss them separately.

The element of force is primarily exercised by the state, that network of interlocking institutions – armed forces, police, judiciary, prisons, government bureaucracies etc – which stands over society and claims general authority, including a monopoly of legitimate force.

This state apparatus claims, at every level of its operation, to represent society as a whole – the so-called national or public interest. Hence the perennial assertion by police, judges, generals and so on that they are politically neutral. But the idea of a common national or public interest is a myth. The nation consists of classes, exploiters and exploited with opposed interests, and the society which the state represents is not society as such but specifically capitalist society, based on capitalist property relations and capitalist relations of production. The first duty of the state is to secure the preservation of this capitalist order. and since this order embodies the supremacy of the capitalist class, the state is, in the words of Marx ‘ but a committee for managing the common affairs of the whole bourgeoisie’.

The class character of the state is reflected in its composition. The upper ranks of the military, the police, the judiciary and the civil service are drawn overwhelmingly from the bourgeoisie and retain economic, family and social ties with that class. But the intrusion into this milieu of the occasional individual from the lower orders changes nothing. On the one hand the actual class position of such an individual is changed by the fact of their promotion and their outlook will tend to change accordingly. On the other hand acceptance of the capitalist mode of operation of the state is the condition of such promotion.

The consequence of the capitalist nature of the state is that force, or the threat of force, underpins almost every aspect of daily life. Consider some examples: a worker goes to work and makes some products. At the end of the day he or she tries to take all or some of them home. The worker will, of course, be forcibly arrested and forcibly detained in a police cell. Or the workers at a factory decide to go on strike, but only ninety per cent of them come out while ten per cent try to continue working. The law, in the shape of a substantial number of police, will immediately arrive at the factory to ensure the scabs’ ‘right to work’. But if the factory bosses decide to close down and make all the workforce redundant, the police will also arrive, this time to ensure that everyone goes home and no amount of appeals to the ‘right to work’ will move them in the slightest.

In all these cases the police will say they are ‘only doing their job’, but that is the point – their job is the enforcement of capitalist exploitation. The examples I have given may seem slightly strange precisely because they are so obvious, so taken for granted, but that is also the point. Capitalist exploitation would not last five minutes without state law, backed by state force, to sustain it.

Most of the time state force remains as far as possible low key and in the background but it comes to the fore the moment there is a real challenge to the interests of the capitalist class. If the challenge comes from abroad this takes the form of war; if the challenge is internal it is met with repression. If the challenge comes from an elected government it can take the form of organizing a military or fascist coup, as happened, for example, with General Pinochet in Chile in 1973 or as has been attempted recently against the Chavez government in Venezuela.

This last point – the potential use of state power on behalf of the bourgeoisie and against the government of the day – is very important. First it completely undermines the official constitutional view (and the view promulgated by political science and taught in the education system) that the state apparatus is subordinate to the elected government. Secondly it raises a key issue in Marxist theory which was ignored or distorted by most supposedly socialist or Marxist parties in the twentieth century.

The strategy of these organizations, beginning with German Social Democracy before the First World War, was to win ‘power’ by means of parliamentary elections, thus acquiring control of the state apparatus which would then be used to construct socialism. But Marx, on the basis of the experience of the Paris commune, had argued that it was not possible for the working class to take over the existing state machine and use it for its own purposes. The existing state was organically tied to the bourgeoisie and could not be used for socialism; rather it had to be broken up – smashed – and replaced by a new state apparatus created by the working class.

Marx’s genuine theory of the state was rediscovered and vigorously reasserted by Lenin in his great book, The State and Revolution. More than that it was put into practice in the Russian Revolution by means of soviet power, i.e. the power of workers’ councils. Later, however, the international communist movement, under the direction of Stalinism reverted to the idea of a parliamentary road to socialism and taking over the existing state apparatus.

But, the objection is often raised, the modern state, with its armies, tanks, bombs, planes etc is too powerful to be smashed, even by the largest mass movement of the working class. This, however, leaves out of the equation the crucial weakness of the state and of all the power of the ruling class which is the fact that for all its operations it depends on the collaboration of a section of the working class. Every gun needs a soldier to carry it, every tank a driver, every plane a team of mechanics. Almost the entire apparatus of the state is staffed, at its lower levels by workers and what happens in a mass revolution is that the pressure of the working leads to many or most of these workers breaking from their officers and joining the people. This is how the state is broken.

What this makes clear however is that the final analysis the rule of the bourgeoisie depends not just on force but also on consent. How that consent is maintained and how it is lost will be the subject of the next column.

John Molyneux
13 October 2006

This column was written for the Korean Socialist newspaper COUNTERFIRE.


Political Paradigms and Political Prisms said...

Hegel’s Dialectical Idealism vs. Marx’s Dialectical Materialism

The notion of a simultaneous conflict and compatibility between opposites was hardly the brainchild of G.W.F. Hegel. Dialectical explanations for things people thought and did, as well as for processes found in nature, can be traced back to ancient Greece. What was stunningly new about Hegel’s dialectic was that he applied it to the transformation of whole communities from one way of knowing and doing (one kind of theory and practice) to another.

Hegel began by positing “the unity” of idea and experience (consciousness and being) for every individual. The thoughts in our heads, he reasoned, are but ideational expressions of our personal experiences, their mental representations. Conversely, our experiences are the material side of our thoughts. While no two individuals will have identical thoughts, or, therefore, identical experiences, there’s an extensive overlapping of both among members of every community. And it is this overlapping, this commonality of knowing and doing, Hegel argued, which holds a community together.

At the same time, Hegel continued, history reveals particular communities have gradually thought and acted in ways incompatible with the theory/practice of others which went before. Thus, the Greeks formulated, and put into practice, a social consciousness fundamentally different from the knowing and doing of Oriental Despotisms. In the process they established a community that was more advanced, since it moved our species toward universal freedom. In this way, Hegel affirmed, idea by idea, new and more enlightened understandings have pulled humanity forward, resulting in the establishment of continually more progressive social structures.

Hegel’s logic was Dialectical Idealism, a teleological explanation for humanity’s progression from a more primitive (which for Hegel meant less free) existence, to what he considered Germany’s modern feudal condition. Idea and experience constituted a unity for Hegel. But where bringing about change was concerned he insisted ideas were always in the lead, with experience following along.

Besides muddling the sequence in which various communities acquired specific social structures, Hegel’s paradigm confronted a grand theoretical question: If idea and experience are “a unity”; if progressive ideas invariably precede progressive actions: from where do the new ideas derive? What has been their source? According to Hegel, they have originated with the “Universal Spirit” (God), who has been engaged in a dialectical conceptualizing of ever more advanced social organizations. As he has done so, his thoughts have echoed in the minds of humans, who have thereupon acted on them and changed the world. Whether he sincerely believed it, or simply considered it the political thing to say, Hegel portrayed Germany’s feudal order as the end result of the process he described; the ultimate, most perfect system; the order with which the dialectical movement of history was coming to a halt, as God grew satisfied and stopped cerebrating about society’s ideal composition.

On his part, Marx agreed with three key features of Hegel’s logic: Humanity’s material experiences and its consciousness/ideas do indeed constitute “a unity.” Marx said he seconded Hegel’s remark that because of this unity it’s as impossible to leap over the consciousness of one’s age as to leap over the Isle of Rhodes. Marx also agreed with the proposition, implicit in Hegel’s paradigm, that, being relative to our experience/practice, truth changes in unison with it, rather than being absolute and fixed. In The Communist Manifesto, he asks: “Does it require deep intuition to comprehend that man's ideas, views, and conceptions, in one word, man's consciousness, changes with every change in the conditions of his material existence, in his social relations and in his social life?” “The question whether objective truth can be attributed to human thinking is not a question of theory, but is a practical question,” Marx contended. The members of every community verify their truths, i.e., validate/objectify their ideas, by finding them representations of their existence. As for an experience-independent absolute truth: “The dispute over the reality or non-reality of thinking which is isolated from practice is a purely scholastic question.” (Second Thesis on Feuerbach).

Finally, Marx agreed that fundamental alterations in the theory and practice of communities occur dialectically. The operative assumptions and accompanying behaviors of feudal communities, for instance, do not constitute modifications in, but a thorough-going rejection of, the assumptions and behaviors of the semi-nomadic slave-holding orders they replaced. So, too, with the shift from feudal to capitalist theory and practice. Such fundamental changes in productive order knowing and doing are treated by both Hegel and Marx as either-or conversions, akin to that between the Ptolemaic and Copernican views of the universe, the phlogiston and oxygen understandings of air, or the flat and spherical conceptions of the earth.

But Marx completely rejected Hegel’s explanation of how and why history develops. Whereas Hegel proposed it’s pulled forth by the Universal Spirit’s ideas reverberating in human heads, Marx dismissed this as yet another religious exegesis, insisting history is moved by material changes taking place in people’s lives. History, is not pulled, he argued; to the contrary, it is pushed. “We found Hegel standing on his head and righted him,” Marx reflected.

“My dialectic method is not only different from the Hegelian, but is its direct opposite. To Hegel the life process of the human brain, i.e., the process of thinking, which, under the name of ‘the Idea,’ he even transforms into an independent subject, is the demiurgos of the real world, and the real world is only the external, phenomenal form of ‘the Idea.’ With me, on the contrary, the ideal is nothing else than the material world reflected by the human mind and translated into forms of thought.” (Capital: A Critique of Political Economy.)

The ideas of a community therefore never lead community practice, Marx reiterated again and again. They follow. Community consciousness, he emphasized, always struggles to keep up with and make sense of the material changes taking place. Marx held this to be so with revolutionary conceptions, no less than with those which are reactionary or conservative: “When people speak of the ideas that revolutionize society, they do but express the fact that within the old society the elements of a new one have been created, and that the dissolution of the old ideas keeps even pace with the dissolution of the old conditions of existence.” (The Communist Manifesto).

“Even if this /revolutionary/ theory, theology, philosophy, ethics, etc. comes into contradiction with the existing relations, this can only occur as a result of the fact that existing social relations have come into contradiction with existing forces of production.” “The existence of revolutionary ideas in a particular period presupposes the existence of a revolutionary class.” (The German Ideology).

Now, to argue that the new ideas embraced by communities are always products of changed material circumstances is to suggest humanity’s socio-economic-political evolution, like Darwin’s physical evolution of species, is adaptive, i.e. conservative in nature; which was exactly what Marx proposed. (In a letter to Ferdinand Lassalle he observed: “Darwin’s work is most important and suits my purpose in that it provides a basis in natural science for the historical class struggle. . . . ‘teleology’ in natural science is not only dealt a mortal blow but its rational meaning is empirically explained.”)

Marx’s Materialist Dialectic
Ironically, like the conservative economist Adam Smith before him, Marx began by positing that we humans are brought together in community and driven by self-interest. “Individuals seek only their particular interest,” he argued. (The German Ideology). ”It is natural necessity, the essential human properties however estranged they may seem to be, and interest that hold the members of civil society together; civil, not political life, is their real tie.” (The Holy Family).

Just what is this “self-interest” which unifies communities of people around the employment of particular methods of production and distribution? Here the thinking of Smith and Marx diverge sharply. Smith described all the members of a community as engaged in trying to better their socio-economic conditions/enhance their material situations, while an “Unseen Hand” somehow binds them together. For Marx, however, the preservation of their “social existences” (i.e., reproduction of the socio-economic conditions they already enjoy) is far more important than improving it for every community member. And it is the things a community’s members cooperatively do to achieve that paramount objective, not some mysterious “Unseen Hand,” which unifies them around any given system of production. ”Production,” said Marx, “aims at the reproduction of the producer” and “his objective conditions of existence.” (Grundrisse).

Marx was not denying given members of a community may strive to improve their socio-economic situations. His point was more fundamental. In the immediate present, the-here-and-now, every community’s production of goods and services has a fixed dimension (enabling economists to assign the Gross Domestic Product/GDP of nations a specific monetary figure). It therefore follows that insofar as some individuals acquire more of the productive pie in-the-here-and-now, other members of the community must get less; and that will be creative of tension/conflict/enmity, rather than amity, between them. (Which is why politicians invariably propose making the pie bigger, rather than giving to one segment by taking from another). I.e., in-the-here-and-now, the acquisitive efforts of particular individuals will be destructive, not creative, of community. Since to speak of a community’s existence presupposes its members are somehow bound together in-the-here-and-now, it also follows they are not being bound by the attempts of some to gain.

Smith theorized they were held together by an “Unseen Hand.” Marx, proposed the nature of the hand was clear. It was nothing other than the shared desire of every community member to reproduce his/her social existence; i.e, to keep what they already possessed. And it is members of a community acting upon this shared material objective, an objective assumed and unspoken, Marx reasoned, which drives history forth. (The famed sociologist Karl Mannheim once argued that where politics are concerned the most important things one can know about a people are the things of which they are rarely conscious, and never, never, never discuss. Marx built his entire theory around the same proposition).

Marx described the Dialectical Materialist development of colonialist and slave-holding ideas in ancient Rome, writing:

“After the City of Rome had been built and the surrounding countryside cultivated by its citizens, the conditions of the community were different from what they had been before. The aim of all these communities is survival; i.e., reproduction of the individuals who compose it as proprietors, i.e. in the same objective mode of existence as forms the relation among the members and at the same time therefore the commune itself. This reproduction, however, is at the same time necessarily new production and destruction of the old form. For example, where each of the individuals is supposed to possess a given number of acres of land, the advance of population is already underway. If this is to be corrected, then colonization, and that in turn requires wars of conquest. With that, slaves, etc. Also, e.g., enlargement of the ager publicus, and therewith the patricians who represent the community etc. Thus the preservation of the old community includes the destruction of the conditions on which it rests, turns into its opposite.” (Marx’s emphasis. Grundrisse).

Voila the dialectical movement of history ala Marx! Change is described as the result of an assumed desire for constancy, i.e., no change, under material circumstances which are themselves undergoing transformation, principally (though not exclusively), because of a growth in population.

Each productive order is able to sustain a given number of people at a given socio-economic level. Each succeeds in creating a number it lacks the capacity to continue sustaining. Said Marx:

“The amount of overpopulation posited on the basis of a specific production is thus just as determinate as the adequate population. Overpopulation and population, taken together, are the population which a specific production base can create. The extent to which it goes beyond its barrier is given by the barrier itself, or rather by the same base which posits the barrier. “ (Grundrisse).

Marx applied his logic to population growth among hunting-and-gathering tribes, which, he argued, initially led them to war with one another in their attempts to maintain their primitive social existence.

“The overpopulation e.g. among hunting peoples, which shows itself in the warfare between the tribes, proves not that the earth could not support their small numbers, but rather that the condition of their reproduction required a great amount of territory for few people. Never a relation to a non-existent absolute mass of means of subsistence, but rather a relation to the conditions of reproduction, of the production of these means, including likewise the conditions of reproduction of human beings, of the total population, of relative surplus population. This surplus /is/ purely relative: in no way related to the means of subsistence as such, but rather to the mode of producing them. Hence also only a surplus at this stage of development. “ (Marx’s emphasis. Grundrisse).

When war was no longer the easiest way for hunters and gatherers to “reproduce” themselves and their social existence, they established semi-nomadic slave communities, practicing rudimentary agriculture. Such societies could not only feed, house and clothe much larger numbers of people, but do it at a markedly elevated level. Wherewith, the problem of overpopulation momentarily disappeared. Again, the dialectical change from establishing community around a given productive/distributive order to another, more prolific one, was made for the most defensive of reasons.

In a letter to P.V. Annenkov, Marx gave the same Dialectical Materialist explanation for the overthrow of feudalism in England, writing:

“The privileges, the institutions of guilds and corporations, the regulatory regime of the Middle Ages, were social relations that alone corresponded to the acquired productive forces and to the social condition which had previously existed and from which these institutions had arisen. Under the protection of the regime of corporations and regulations, capital was accumulated, overseas trade was developed, colonies were founded. But the fruits of this men would have forfeited if they had tried to retain the forms under whose shelter these fruits had ripened. Hence burst two thunderclaps—the Revolutions of 1640 and 1688. All the old economic forms, the social relations corresponding to them, the political conditions which were the official expression of the old civil society, were destroyed in England. Thus the economic forms in which men produce, consume, and exchange, are transitory and historical. With the acquisition of new productive faculties, men change their mode of production and with the mode of production all the economic relations which are merely the necessary relations of this particular mode of production.”

Marx then reiterated his central thesis respecting the essential conservatism of such revolutionary transformations, observing:

“Men never relinquish what they have won, but this does not mean that they never relinquish the social form in which they have acquired certain productive forces. On the contrary, in order that they may not be deprived of the result attained, and forfeit the fruits of civilization, they are obliged, from the moment when the form of their commerce no longer corresponds to the productive forces acquired, to change all their traditional social forms.”

Given that the assumed objective holding members of every community together is to “reproduce their social existence,” for Marx it followed that the twists and turns of a community’s theory and practice (its knowing and its doing), whether humane or barbarous, reasonably calculated or convoluted, were but an automatic consequence; a matter of “Natural Necessity,” he proposed.

Assembling the Rest of the Puzzle
While Marx’s Dialectical Materialist proposition that conservative self-interest has driven our species’ progress is impressive, to be convincing, any theory of historical development must provide logically consistent explanations for major details. Surely, it should be able to answer the following questions:

• Every community organization subsequent to the hunting-and-gathering has been hierarchically structured. How and why did this change occur?

• How have elites succeeded in preserving their hegemonic status and maintaining their authority?

• Why have even the poorest members of hierarchically organized communities accepted their lower status?

• How have middle classes and the poor rationalized that acceptance?

• When, why and how have they sometimes ceased to do so?

For Hegel, a single answer sufficed. All the members of a community were acting upon the Universal Spirit’s ideas resounding in their heads. Each behaved in accordance with particular echoed instructions. For Marx, however, things were not quite so simple. It would be necessary to demonstrate that the practices described were themselves illustrations of people collectively taking the easiest path to maintain their respective social existences.

Accordingly, Marx reasoned that the transition from hunting and gathering to the slave mode of production introduced an important new ingredient: a division of labor. Specific tasks began to be performed by specific individuals. As the slave order achieved viability, it started turning out goods and services in excess of the amount required to reproduce everyone’s social existence. Due to the division of labor, some individuals—the slave masters—found themselves in control of that excess. So long as the slaves’ social existence was being maintained they would not exert great pressure for a share of the surplus, making the formation of elite interests an inevitable consequence. Whereupon, having a hegemonic status to be preserved, the elites now needed special protective devices. Politics and the political state were the practical weapons reflexively born of that need Marx contended. Idea and experience being “a unity,” philosophies/religions were concomitantly created to provide the requisite blueprints and justifications.

Self-declared Marxists sometimes portray elites as exceptionally duplicitous where the use of politics and philosophy/religion are concerned. Marx did not. Rather, he described elites as doing what all people do: instinctively formulating those ideas, ratifying those institutions, and engaging in those practices, which most effectively/least disruptively protect (enable the “reproduction of”) their social existences in given material situations. They do this with sincerity and spontaneity whatever the specific character of a productive order, Marx contended, whether slave, feudal or capitalist: “Protection of acquisitions etc. When these trivialities are reduced to their real content, they tell more than their preachers know. Namely that every form of production creates its own legal relations, form of government, etc.” (Grundrisse.) “Assume particular stages of development in production, commerce and consumption and you will have a corresponding social constitution, a corresponding organization of the family, of orders or of classes, in a word, a corresponding civil society. Assume a particular civil society and you will get particular political conditions, which are only the official expression of civil society.” (Letter to P.V. Annenkov).

Of hierarchically structured productive orders which are able to maintain virtually every community member’s social existence, from the wealthy to the poor, Marx wrote: “the State is the form in which the individuals of a ruling class assert their common interests, and in which the whole civil society of an epoch is epitomized.” (The German Ideology.) I.e., in addition to defending the elite’s hegemonic interests, the political State of a viable productive order serves everyone by defending the system from which his status derives, and, by controlling mutually injurious kinds of struggle.

Idea and experience being “a unity,” philosophies/religions, Marx argued, have the same function in the realm of thought: “The ideas of the ruling class are in every epoch the ruling ideas: i.e., the class which is the ruling material force of society is at the same time its ruling intellectual force. . . . The ruling ideas are nothing more than the ideal expression of the dominant material relationships, the dominant material relationships grasped as ideas”. (The German Ideology).

According to Marx’s materialist dialectic, as a new productive order becomes viable, its elite-originated blueprint is gradually absorbed by everyone, furnishing the assumptions with which they begin their thinking about matters social, economic and political. Idea and experience being “a unity,” just as the State imposes protective limits on everyone’s doing, the philosophy/religion establishes protective boundaries for their thought. Obviously, if non-elite members of a community were to reject the elite’s philosophical vision, refuse to act upon it, they would have to confront the elite physically, and none of them would be socio-economically sustained. Therefore, so long as the productive order is able to perpetuate (“reproduce”) their social existence, non-elites reflexively internalize, rather than reject, that vision.

At such times, said Marx:

“Philosophy then ceases to be a definite system in presence of other definite systems. It becomes philosophy generally, in presence of the world. It becomes the philosophy of the world of the present. The formal features which attest that philosophy has achieved that importance, that it is the living soul of culture, that philosophy is becoming worldly and the world philosophical, were the same in all times”. (Koinische Zeitung, No. 179.)

In sum, for Marx every philosophy/religion is the product of a need to protect the particular web of social existences of a particular community in a particular situation. Consequently, whether a given philosophy/religion is perpetuated, undergoes modification, or, is discarded entirely in favor of another philosophy/religion, will depend upon (i.e., be determined by), the kind and the degree of material change occurring in the socio-economic existences of the people who embrace it. As Marx put it:

“Morality, religion, metaphysics, all the rest of ideology and their corresponding forms of consciousness, thus no longer retain the semblance of independence. They have no history, no development, but men, developing their material production and their material intercourse, alter, along with this their real existence, their thinking and the products of their thinking.” (The German Ideology.)

Marx called the operative philosophy/religion of a productive order its “Spiritual Quintessence.”
The elites of viable land-holding/agricultural/raw-material (feudal) societies East and West justified their dominion with Religious Absolutism, a belief that the truth respecting both facts and values was absolute, came from God, and arrived on earth via the elites and the high religious authorities who shared their favored status and authored its ideational defense: the “Divine Right of Kings” in feudal Europe, the “Mandate of Heaven” in feudal China and Japan. The feudal clergy and elites were believed to determine God’s truths not through investigation and discovery, but, to the contrary, through pious contemplation and enigmatic revelation.

During a time of economic crisis, caused by a drought perhaps, an insect infestation, or a flood, peasants would often challenge specific dictates of the elite. If a crisis was severe, they might even attack the king. But, not until land-holding/agricultural-elite productive orders were becoming unable to sustain the populations of feudal communities did opposing financial-industrial-elite (capitalist) sub-communities begin to develop and repudiate the operative consciousness (Spiritual Quintessence) of the feudal productive system; which dictated what truth is, where it comes from, and how it gets passed around.

Marx, then, reasoned that non-elite members of a community, including the poor, willingly, at times enthusiastically, take up an elite’s philosophy, and identify with the State, for the same reason people establish communities in the first place: to most effortlessly protect their respective social existences. According to his paradigm, for the masses a viable productive order’s philosophy/religion is an indispensible “opiate,” providing them with hope, while explaining and making acceptable the indignities and injustices they endure; “a justification for oppression – but also a refuge from it.” (Francis Wheen: Karl Marx: A Life). For the elites it is a blueprint and rationale, directing a day-by-day maintenance/reproduction of the order, while eulogizing its accomplishments and excusing the injuries it inflicts on others.

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Nick said...

What an absolute load of tosh. So when a brick layer, plumber or highly skilled electrician(all working class people surely? gets paid more than the bourgeois managers above him who exactly is exploiting who? Or is it just the owners who are exploiting everyone? Except many many companys are still owned by people who have moved up through the company. Obviously this is not the case with corporations, but they are a different ball game altogether. This whole idea is completely out of date in todays modern, globalised world. The whole of the UK's population is 'exploiting' all the workers in China by your definitions. So what should they do to stop that? Pay greater prices for the goods they buy? Then they wont have enough money themselves. The whole idea is just a mess, it needs to be completely re-vamped to fit the world we are now in. All you have at the moment is a dated ideology. Ideologies are far more dangerous than what we have at the moment. As soon as people stop using their brains and being pragmatic and just go with what they have been told...that is where the problem lies. People need to think for themselves.

PCMcGee said...

This article neglects to look at the causality of the social stratification, instead choosing to reinforce the stereotypical notion of class division in the ruler/worker roles. This stratification is caused by the inherent nature of the monetary system, competition, which demands that those competing must work at cross purposes in order to gain competitive advantage. The previous commenter is right, we cannot "buy" our way out of this dilemma, higher wages would only lead to greater stratification. The solution is to build a system that provides what people need, using the technology and resources available, in an intelligent and environmentally sound way. Money will never provide this system, because it does not lead to more profit or advantage.