26, 2006, Volume 13 Nr. 45, Issue 213
Slaves to the
"Free Market" Unite
Make a Stand Against the Ruthless
Onslaught of Capitalist Imperialism?
the triphammer blows of a youthful Mike Tyson, America's imperialist
ruling class of wealthy and corporate elites has been pummeling the
poor, minorities, and the working class with impunity for years.
As some of my readers have aptly pointed out, America and its White
Christian patriarchy do not have a historical monopoly on abuse of
power or exploitation of "lesser people". It is also true
that Anglos have been victimized at various points in history. Yet
the United States exists and thrives almost solely because it
obscenely exploited Africans to attain economic power and committed
genocide against North America's indigenous people to obtain and
expand its territory.
While other nations and races have committed similar atrocities
throughout history, Anglos have suffered persecution, and slavery
and the Native American genocide are in the past, the actions of the
United States and its White patriarchal society were still morally
reprehensible. Furthermore, many of the beneficiaries and
descendents of the perpetrators remain unrepentant. Recent polls and
events also indicate that about a third of Americans still support
an entrenched American power structure which flourishes by
practicing exploitation and conquest.
The United States is not
the only nation currently committing brutalities and injustices, yet
Washington is home to a government which claims to be the ultimate
moral authority on the globe. While invading and occupying nations
which posed no threat to them, slaughtering innocent civilians, and
torturing suspected enemies, the United States
continues to mouth empty platitudes about spreading freedom and
democracy, pompously lecture other nations on human rights, and
hypocritically determine which nations are too "evil" to
be trusted with nuclear technology.
In his recent book, Overthrow, Stephen Kinzer
There is no stronger or more persistent strain in the
American character than the belief that the United States is a
nation uniquely endowed with virtue.....This view is driven by a
profound conviction that the American form of government, based on
capitalism and individual political choice, is, as President Bush
asserted, "right and true for every person in every
Time and again the United States has acted on this
pathological belief, almost always spreading suffering and misery
rather than democracy and freedom.
Little deters them
strides toward social justice achieved by powerful leaders like
Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Eugene Debs, and Martin Luther King, Jr.,
the advent of international humanitarian laws like the Geneva
Conventions, and the addition of amendments to the US Constitution
expanding civil rights, the relentlessly acquisitive individuals
manning the bulwarks of the Corporatocracy at Wall Street, Capitol
Hill, Langley, and 1600 Pennsylvania Ave have continued to find
myriad means to advance their malignant agenda on both the foreign
and domestic fronts.
They are employing direct intervention through invasion and
occupation in Iraq as I write. Indirect intervention by the CIA has
brought many ruthless dictators to power because they were friendly
to corporate America's interests. Multi-national corporations
devastate weaker nations by grossly exploiting labor and resources.
The World Bank and IMF enable the ruling elite of the United States
to enslave developing nations economically. Nuclear intimidation
rounds out the vast array of weapons at the disposal of the power
mongers at the helm of the United States.
Consolidating power into the Executive Branch, nullifying several
Constitutional Amendments with the Patriot Act, packing the courts
with "their people", and conducting pseudo-elections are
currently at the forefront of the domestic arsenal of America's
Tell me lies....tell me sweet little lies
Utilizing the corporate domination of the mainstream media and
educational textbook producers, the patrician class of the United
States continues to white-wash history and current events to
perpetrate one of the biggest hoaxes in the history of mankind. They
have managed to convince many of their plebs of the virtuous,
benevolent, and "democratic" nature of America, to the
degree that some violently reject the truth when confronted with it.
The under-funded No Child Left Behind legislation ensures that
educators lack the resources they need to prepare their students for
mandatory tests which emphasize rote memorization and basic skills.
Teaching critical thinking, history, literature, and politics falls
by the wayside in the mad scramble to prepare students to pass
government-mandated exams. Wouldn't it be wonderful for those atop
the food chain in the American Empire if they could virtually
eliminate domestic dissent without resorting to mass arrests or
Despite the widening wealth gap, the Wal-Martization of the economy,
Katrina, Iraq, stolen elections, an $8 trillion national debt, tax
cuts for the wealthy, and increasingly rapacious acts by
corporations, many Americans are still oblivious to our descent into
fascism. Sucking on the pacifier of conspicuous consumption, they
"shop til they drop", lining Corporate America's pockets
and freeing the ruling elite to pursue world domination, as outlined
in the Project for the New American Century and the Bush Doctrine.
Certainly there are some decent human beings who hold great wealth
or positions of power in the United States, but their voices and
actions are readily neutralized by the far more numerous spiritually
hollow individuals whose existence is predicated on attempting to
fulfill their insatiable lust for money and domination of other
Slaves to "human nature" we are not
Some argue that avarice, hatred, cruelty, territorial instinct, and
deceit are inescapable aspects of "human nature" and
define the human condition. Large scale human-inflicted injustice,
misery, and suffering would indeed be inevitable if one accepted the
notion that we are slaves to "human nature", our ids, and
I refuse to accept this hypothesis for several reasons. Human beings
possess highly developed frontal lobes and opposable thumbs so that
we can problem solve and avoid subjugation to our animal impulses.
As Scott Peck astutely observed in The Road Less Traveled, it defies
human nature to use a toilet or a toothbrush, yet most people learn
to do both.
I spent some time acting
on the dark side of my nature in the past, yet I managed to undergo
a profound moral transformation over the last thirteen years,
choosing to live a life based on basic human decency, dignity,
non-violent assertiveness, and compassion. My life is full of family
and friends who share similar values. While it is impossible to
completely deny one's id or Shadow, it is possible to manage them
and live a reasonably ethical life.
There are also numerous examples of extraordinary people like Mother
Teresa and the Dalai Lama who achieved the peak of human moral
The masters' kingdom would collapse without the slaves
One of the wealthy ruling elite's most poignant victories against
progressive, humane forces has been their crushing blow to working
people around the globe. Since the advent of the Industrial
Revolution and the birth of the prevailing virulent form of
Capitalism, the working class has been a festering thorn in the side
of their masters, motivating them to devote a great deal of energy
to keep them subdued.
Representing a necessary evil, workers in America and abroad are the
engine of the Corporatocracy, as both the producers and consumers
who power the Capitalist economy. While monstrous men like Henry
Kissinger would move to shrink their numbers through starvation (or
perhaps carpet bombing) if permitted, they still recognize that
these "beasts of burden" are indispensable.
Not surprisingly, political ideologies which seek to empower the
poor and working class have been heavily vilified by those who hold
a vested interest in keeping wealth and power in the hands of a few.
Americans are inculcated with the belief that men like Fidel Castro,
Hugo Chavez, Salvador Allende, and Evo Morales are (or were) our
enemies. It is anathema, we are taught, to our "free market
system" and "democracy" when leaders of other
sovereign nations end the persistent grip of an entrenched oligarchy
and raise a majority of their people out of abject poverty. With
such beliefs, perhaps America's moral deficit exceeds its fiscal
Can I interest you in selling Amway?
American Capitalism is the ultimate Ponzi scheme. For each of the
four remaining Walton heirs to enjoy their billions, millions of
human beings have to suffer abysmal poverty. Certainly, there are
the occasional members of the Proletariat who infiltrate the
exclusive world of the Bourgeoise, but they are so few and far
between that they pose little threat to the dominance of the filthy
rich resting at the pinnacle of the pyramid. Besides, thanks to
Bush's tax cuts for the wealthy and the inevitable repeal of the
inheritance tax, America's wealthy elite will be further insulated
from threats to their virtual monopoly on excessive wealth.
As a member of the working class, I am weighing in against the
status quo multi-level marketing scheme. Despite my lower middle
class upbringing and opportunity to obtain a college education, I
went through hard times and quit school. For the next six years, I
faced under-employment, unemployment and serious economic struggles.
Intermittently working as an unskilled laborer in various
manufacturing and service jobs, I received wages as low as $5 per
hour, had limited or no benefits, endured miserable conditions, and
suffered severe burns on my legs in an industrial accident. I
experienced life in the lower stratus of the pyramid of American
Capitalism first-hand. In a nation as wealthy as ours, it is a
travesty that some people remain trapped in such wretched
circumstances throughout their lives.
Today my wife and I are fortunate enough to generate a middle class
income together, enabling our family to live a modest lifestyle and
for me to engage in my avocation of researching, writing dissident
essays, and publishing my blog. However, as members of the middle
class, we are part of a dying breed in America, balancing
precariously on the edge of an economic abyss.
Ethics, laws, justice? Who cares...
Consider three examples of the fates of laborers who dared to defy
the primary beneficiaries of America's predatory economic system.
During a peaceful pro-labor rally in May of 1886, anarchists were
exposing the recent Chicago police slaying of two laborers striking
against McCormick Harvesting. An unidentified individual detonated a
bomb in the midst of the crowd, killing eight police officers and
three demonstrators. In an effort to turn public opinion against the
labor movement, the Land of the Free committed state-sponsored
murder against four of the anarchists, publicly hanging them. The
Illinois governor later concluded the executed men were innocent,
the Haymarket Martyr's Monument was raised in their honor, and wide
speculation emerged that the bomber was a corporate agent
In 1894, when workers became fed up with rail car manufacturer
George Pullman's "welfare capitalism" (a euphemism for
indentured servitude), they went on strike. Eugene Debs led a
sympathy strike amongst thousands of railroad employees, whose
refusal to handle Pullman cars seriously interfered with national
rail traffic. President Grover Cleveland broke the strike with US
Marshals and the military, leaving thirteen strikers dead and Debs
It is small wonder that so many of America's elite genuflect to
Ronald Reagan and want to see his countenance emblazoned on the ten
dollar bill. Reagan dropped a nuke on labor in the ongoing class war
when he fired the PATCO air traffic controllers in 1981. When Reagan
took office, union membership was 23%, down from its 35% peak in the
1950's. However, his withering blow greatly accelerated the
precipitous decline of organized labor in the United States. By 2005
only 8% of America's private sector workforce was unionized.
Brute force, propaganda, illegal firings, and state-sponsored murder
imposed by the ruling class in the United States were not enough to
deter the American labor movement from its diligent efforts to
improve the lot of the working class. We can thank them for the
eight hour work day, an end to child labor, increased safety in the
work place, higher wages, and health and retirement benefits.
Since the majority of the population is a part of the working class,
a majority of people benefited from labor's gains. Sounds like a
logical outcome in a nation which espouses democratic values.
However, the minority in the ruling plutocracy was not pleased.
Determined as they were to protect their interests, the modern day
Money Changers discovered new ways to impose their economic
brutality. (Imagine what Jesus would do on the floors of the stock
Welcome to McDonald's! Would you like fries with that?
Arguing that American workers are overpaid, corporate
elites have slashed pay, health benefits, and pensions. They contend
that to stay competitive in the new "global economy", they
need to cut labor costs. Working people are to sacrifice with a
smile since it is in their best interest to enable their masters to
stay in business. Throughout the 80's and 90's, massive layoffs
pushed millions of middle class blue collar workers into service
sector jobs which cut their incomes in half. According to Louis
Uchitelle of the New York Times, 30 million Americans were laid off
between 1984 and 2004.
Starting in 2000, Silicon Valley and the telecom companies began a
trend of massive white collar layoffs. Other industries have
followed suit. In short, "overpaid" front line American
workers have become highly expendable.
Corporate America doesn't care what color your collar is. Human
beings are commodities to them, and if an employee's existence is
too costly, they eliminate them. Illegally firing employees who try
to unionize, hiring temps to replace full-time employees (to
eliminate paying those damn benefits), replacing seasoned employees
with fresh college grads, and "off shoring" American jobs
to exploit cheap labor in other nations exemplify the new paradigm
in American business. While corporate profits soar at an annual clip
of 30%, employee wages crawl upward at an average of 2%. Meanwhile,
CEO's earn an average of over 400 times that of their employees.
While American workers struggle, multinational corporations, which
are often guided by American executives and extremely wealthy
share-holders, have introduced human beings in developing nations to
the profound misery of Dickensonian Capitalism. When laws in the
United States began making it prohibitive for the Social Darwinists
to exploit employees and the environment to the extent that it
engorged their bank accounts, they began moving their operations to
countries which did not have these "harsh constraints".
It is time for labor to unite on behalf of humanity
In a 1978 letter of resignation from his position of president of
the UAW, Douglas Fraser wrote:
I believe leaders of the business community, with few
exceptions, have chosen to wage a one-sided class war today in our
country --a war against working people, the unemployed, the poor,
the minorities, the very young and the very old, and even many in
the middle class of our society....I would rather sit with the rural
poor, the desperate children of urban blight, the victims of racism,
and working people seeking a better life than with those whose
religion is the status quo, whose goal is profit and whose hearts
are cold. We intend to reforge the links with those who believe in
struggle: the kind of people who sat down in the factories in the
1930's and who marched in Selma in the 1960's.
Unfortunately, Fraser's inspiring words have gone largely unheeded.
The two party American Duopoly continues to represent the interests
of their wealthy and corporate benefactors. Grass roots mobilization
and efforts to advance the interests of social and economic justice
for the poor and working class have virtually fallen from the radar
screen of organized labor. The larger labor unions continue their
close ties with the Democratic Party, apparently believing the
fiction that Democrats have the spine or the will to advance the
interests of the working class.
In July 2005, Service Employees International Union (SEIU) president
Andy Stern took his 1.8 million members and broke ties with the
AFL-CIO, an organization which has achieved few tangible advances
for labor or the working class in recent years. A former social
worker and present activist for social causes, Stern was recently
profiled on 60 Minutes. Organizing workers, many of whom are
minorities and women, in previously under-unionized industries such
as day care and janitorial, Stern has created an agenda of global
worker cooperation to end the disturbing trend of corporate
Stern and his followers have set out to rectify the gross economic
injustices facing the working class and humanity in general. They
recognize that collectively, the working class wields great power.
Unionizing, strikes, and boycotts are the potent weapons they employ
against the seemingly overwhelming forces of Capitalist domination.
Last week, I asked SEIU's online campaign manager, Anders
Schneiderman, to share his thoughts on labor taking the lead in
advancing the causes of social and economic justice.
SEIU members believe that the only way we can build a
better world for all of us is if we unite with workers across the
globe. When corporations move around the world looking for
opportunities to maximize their profits by driving down pay and
benefits standards, no one is safe unless we work together. That's
why school bus drivers, are joining together on both sides of the
Atlantic to hold First Service accountable, and why on June 15
janitors from around the world will be celebrating International
Justice Day and discussing where their campaigns to raise standards
should go next.
While the ruling elite have done an exceptional job of employing the
concept of divide and conquer in human society (gay vs. straight,
pro-life vs. pro-choice, red state vs. blue state, Christianity vs.
Islam), a majority of the global population shares at least one
common interest. Almost all of us need to trade our labor for our
means of sustenance. A global unification of working people of all
stripes is what we of the poor and middle classes need to overcome
the tyranny of the moneyed ruling class. These modern day monarchs
thrive by keeping their peasants in a perpetual state of unnecessary
poverty, ignorance, war, and human suffering.
Contrary to the lies of the elite, human nature does not doom us to
high degrees of injustice and misery. Human beings are blessed with
free will. As individuals, and ultimately collectively, we can
choose to act in mostly reasoned, honest and just ways. We can avoid
resorting to impulsive, reactionary responses to primal emotions
like fear, lust, and anger (feelings propagandists love to trigger
and manipulate). No one will make reasoned, fair choices all of the
time, but I know from my own experience that through conscious
effort, it is possible to do so much of the time.
A revitalized labor movement on a global scale could very well be
our means to snatch victory from the pitbull-like jaws of Capitalist
Imperialism and to forge a reasonably just and
Jason Miller is a 39 year old sociopolitical essayist
with a degree in liberal arts and an extensive self-education
(derived from an insatiable appetite for reading). He is a member of
Amnesty International and an avid supporter of Oxfam International
and Human Rights Watch. He welcomes responses at firstname.lastname@example.org
or comments on his blog, Thomas Paine's Corner, at http://civillibertarian.blogspot.com/.