Monday, March 30, 2009

Guess who’s not getting that rose garden???

From the World Socialist Party of the United States website

You would have to search long and hard to find someone who was better at sticking it to the working class than The Economist. It has perfected one of the most truly remarkable posturing acts in the annals of propaganda. When times are good, its contempt for working-class aspirations borders on the domineering, despite the fact that the working class not only runs capitalism from top to bottom but also compliantly does its bit to legitimate the system during elections.

When times are bad, however, The Economist sings a different tune. It trades its contempt in for what might be called “regrettable realism,” a syrupy pietism that sighs for the misfortunes of the poor working class while giving no quarter in the chronic warfare that goes on between labor and capital:
[America’s] flexible labour market has shed 4.4m[illion] jobs since the downturn began in December 2007, including more than 600,000 in each of the past three months … An American who loses his job today has less of a chance of finding another one than at any time since records began half a century ago. That is especially worrying when the finances of many households have come to depend on two full incomes … In the emerging world … the World Bank expects some 53m people to fall below the level of extreme poverty this year. (The Economist, “The Jobs Crisis,” March 14-20, 2009)
Asserting that “unemployment rates in many European countries are below America’s … because their more rigid labour markets adjust more slowly to falling demand,” the writer goes on to concede that capital’s taking such a large share of the profits for so many years has ultimately provoked a swing of the pendulum back in the direction of energetic intervention. Apparently this was not a question of “flexible” capital markets.

The dismal solution to the “jobs crisis”? Give the capitalist class greater freedom to hire and fire — flexible labor markets. Playing god was never so much fun:
That will mean abolishing job-subsidy programmes, taking away protected workers’ privileges and making it easier for businesses to restructure by laying people off. Countries such as Japan, with two-tier workforces in which an army of temporary workers with few protections toil alongside mollycoddled folk with many, will need to narrow that disparity by making the latter easier to fire.
Well, they never promised us a rose garden … or (ahem) did they? No matter. It’s all about destroying jobs, the more easily to create new ones, you see. When you think that anyone from this rat’s nest of élitists might have been in our shoes but for an accident of birth (or fluke of the marketplace), you begin to realize how deeply ingrained is their sense of innate superiority. It just goes with the turf. Anyone who gets up there simply goes mad with power.

The writer signs off with the robot equivalent of a salt tear:
However well governments design their policies, unemployment is going to rise sharply, for some time. At best it will blight millions of lives for years.The politicians’ task is to make sure the misery is not measured in decades.
Not with a bang but a whimper
What are we to make of this Depression-proof recession, then? After the Century of Liberalism promised us the world in return for our free time, our compliance and our votes (liberté, fraternité, égalité), the Corporate Millennium rises up to remind us that capital is not after all bound by its own promises. It can take away what it gives us, with no questions asked (or, in all too many cases, not even allowed). It will continue to undermine the best intentions of reformers, who, although they can ride the profit-tiger, can never tame it. The Great Captains will deliberate in their Central Committee; perhaps they will, like Leonid Brezhnev, thank us for the Big Harvest. But keep your hands off their stash! For they are no longer in such a generous mood.

In the context of the century to come, with its threat of unprecedented natural disasters (which capital is by its very nature reluctant to pay for), this is much worse than cold comfort. It is an implied death warrant for the unlucky suckers who just happen to be in the wrong place when a panicky mob of profit-makers goes berserk. For in a global economy under continuous assault from Mother Nature and her gang of elemental forces, those who drop into the shadows will be at high risk of also dropping out of sight.

Capital has no pity for its human progenitors. It has gotten us to cut ourselves off from our own source of real abundance and creature-feeling, the human community, and when in due course it has had its falling out with us, it will shoot humanity in the back as soon as look at it. The virtues of being down on bended knee no longer seem obvious. Getting back to the Garden never looked so good.

Let us rise.
Roel

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