Saturday, February 23, 2013

Change You Can't Believe In Is On The Way

The day capitalism is forced to tolerate non-capitalist societies in its midst and to acknowledge limits in its quest for domination, the day it is forced to recognize that its supply of raw material will not be
endless, is the day when change will come.

------Arundhati Roy

Rest assured that Ms. Roy is correct, and that the change she refers to is not "change you can believe in." The advertising slogan "change you can believe in" refers to cosmetic change only, and forms the principal barrier to the wide-ranging substantive change now urgently needed to give the human race a chance of surviving the multi-headed hydra of crises threatening it with extinction. Just as fire-fighters will deliberately burn a patch of ground to help extinguish an advancing forest fire, so the architects of empire devise meaningless slogans with which to channel incendiary political discontent into false causes that burn themselves out while leading us nowhere. Apologists for Barack O'Bummer please take note.

In the United States popular analysis of capitalism rarely goes beyond the hopelessly superficial dismissal line - "You gotta make a living!" - as though the difficulties in making ends meet could somehow exempt us from responsibility for the terrible consequences our prolonged political inertia is bringing in its wake.

Capitalism tells us that the massive squandering of resources in public relations and marketing campaigns is a means of giving us information we need to make rational purchasing decisions. Sure. That is why sex appeal is so prominent in advertising - to appeal to our rational minds.

Capitalism tells us that funneling wealth upwards alleviates poverty by the miracle of compound interest "trickling down." Sure. That is why the numbers of people living in utter destitution without hope of escape is growing at a faster rate than world population is.

Capitalism tells us that liberty of contract is inviolable, even though the social costs of unrestrained profit accumulation for the few are now screaming headlines rather than scholars' footnotes, as was the case decades ago. The oceans are an industrial toilet, the sky a giant gas chamber, the earth increasingly a sterile belt of clogged roads and shopping malls. But supposedly none of this is related to the drive to extract maximum profit in private markets dominated by investor cliques that represent but a microscopic minority of humanity. Sure.

Getting more women and racial minority representation at the top of capitalism's rotting social pyramid will do nothing to alter the suicidal course humanity currently finds itself on. Only direct confrontation with the investor minority whose nearly unimaginable riches award it decisive economic control throughout the world can do that. And for this we need a politically sophisticated dissident movement that will not surrender to totalizing ideologies, fashionable despair, or expectations of quick victory.

People are not stupid, and agitation for desperately needed social change is probably more broad-based now than ever before in human history. However, popular victories are few and far between, and those few perpetually threatened with reversal, because we do not dare to name the capitalist beast that is our enemy. "Class warfare" refers not to the constant exploitation carried out by the obscenely rich against the rest of us, but to calls to redistribute the wealth so that equality, freedom, and democracy can flourish. As though there were something wrong with that.

Until we lose our fear of denunciation and slander by the rich, who admittedly hold an awesome power to discredit and demonize anyone who has the nerve to challenge their illegitimate authority, we will continue to lose ground. But if they will not voluntarily surrender their dominant position, and history affords little assurance that they will, challenge them we must.

Neutrality is an illusion, and failure not an option.


Anonymous said...

This аnti-stretch maгks mеthoԁ iѕ produсtiνe аnd efficient in each way.

Feel free to surf to mу webѕite
My site > more info

Michael Smith said...

Thank you for raising this important issue, which is treated at length in Gandhi's forgotten classic, "Stretch Marks and Social Change - Taking Satyagraha To a New Level" (Non-Violent Birth Books, 1946). If we can't get rid of stretch marks, how can we hope to get rid of capitalism?