Posts Tagged ‘social

13
Dec
09

Capitalist Pigs

Recently, I was traveling across the US. As I was waiting at one of the gates, a man sat down next to me. To say he was ‘large’ would be a gross understatement. This man was grotesquely overweight, and nearly as wide as he was tall. As we waited for the plane to be refueled, he began to eat a cheeseburger, the sheer effort of which had him panting, wheezing, and sweating. It was, in short, a nauseating experience.

Of course, there are those who would object to my diatribe. One could argue “It’s the right of a person to choose his or her own weight or amount of consumption!”. Really? If there’s a man who is sitting next to me starving, is it my “right” to devour a steak dinner in front of him? When a child dies of starvation every five seconds, is it the right of a country to be suffering from obesity?

Yet the wealthy countries of the world continue to get fatter, and the poor countries stand in lines handfuls of rice. Sickening, isn’t it? The most obese state in America (Mississippi), is only 2,300 km from the second most impoverished country in the western hemisphere (Haiti). This is obesity we’re talking about- the result of constant binging on food- it’s not an epidemic, it’s not something that people cannot control. In a world where the vast majority of humanity lives in poverty and every year, fifteen million children die of starvation and malnutrition, this kind of egomaniacal indulgence is, as I’ve pointed out, sickening.

Of course, the companies selling the food aren’t exactly helping the situations. It is, after all, in the best interests of these corporations to exacerbate humanity’s propensity to gluttony. The more willing the public is to stuff food down their throats, the higher the demand, the greater profits for the food industry. As a result, the food industry will do all it can to convince you that your happiness hinges on your consumption or that food is a central part of tradition (just look at Christmas). They will attempt to sell the greatest amount of food to the greatest number of people for the lowest cost of production possible (and of course, cheap production tends to mean the food will be low in quality and nutrition). Everywhere you look, there are advertisements telling you to eat this or to drink that. Granted, the obesity level is due largely to individual choice, but at the same time, the food industry plays a significant role.

So what’s the relation of obesity in the West and other so-called “developed countries” to the starvation in others? Well, think of it this way. Aside from the now rare family-owned farm, we get our food from corporations. Since the purpose of Capitalism is capital (money), corporations will naturally attempt to maximize their profits by selling high-quality foods for exorbitant price and low-quality foods for next to nothing. Those who have little or no money to begin with (those who are, for example, living in areas that have been devastated by disease or drought) are of course, unable to purchase any food at all. This leads to the people of these areas to become dependent on charity- a┬ásolution which merely prolongs the suffering of the impoverished (exactly why charity doesn’t work is a topic for another day). Of course there are those who would claim that all these people need to do is begin farming in their own countries- conveniently forgetting that the materials and resources needed for farming are controlled by massive corporations. What possible reason would these companies have for simply donating material? Corporations usually don’t rise to the top of the economic food chain through altruism. Of course, when the majority becomes hungry enough, everything becomes a source of food- including the juicy, Capitalist pigs wallowing around at the top of the social spectrum.

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01
Dec
09

The Myth

Perhaps the greatest lie originating (and arguably, perpetuated by) Capitalism is the idea that the wealthy are wealthy because they are intelligent, disciplined, and hardworking and the poor are poor because they are ignorant and lazy. As a result, if a man in a business suit and flawless grammar knocks on your door and asks if he can use your bathroom, chances are you’ll let him. You probably wouldn’t do the same for a man in a ragged bathrobe whose grasp of the English language was sub-average. Indeed, the quality of treatment you offer people is usually determined by what social class they hail from. We make assumptions about people based on whether or not they seem to be poor, middle-class, or wealthy.

Quite simply, we’re bigots.

And not without reason either. If a person is less willing to let a homeless man into his house than a man who is (or at least, seems to be) doing quite well for himself, then the person’s fear is not completely unfounded. A wealthy man has less reason to rob you than a poor man. Crime rates, alcoholism, and drug abuse are highest among the lower classes. Likewise the poorer classes tend to have the lowest levels of education. Statistically speaking, yes, you are more likely to be mugged by a poor person than a rich one, but so what? Bigotry is never tolerable, no matter what. So what if you’re more likely to be mugged if you get a poor guy into your house instead of a rich one? You don’t know either man. Maybe the man in the bathrobe is an honest, honorable person who’s had a run of bad luck. Maybe the man in the suit is a sociopathic murderer or a con artist. Judging people according to how wealthy they are is, no matter how you look at it, wrong!

So why is it that we’re prejudiced to trust the middle-class and wealthy rather than the poor? Is it because the poor are ignorant and criminal while the wealthy are intelligent and decent? Of course not! The poor aren’t poor because they’re criminals; the poor have high crime levels because they are poor. Sure the poor man is more likely to mug you, but is that because of him or the fact that he’s cold and hungry? Obviously there are those who are poor because of their own issues- all humans have a propensity towards greed and indolence. At the same time, it is ridiculous to claim that the poor are only poor because they’re lazy. It’s the poorest of the poor who have the heaviest workload. Across Africa, Asia, Latin America and yes, even Europe, Australia, and North America there are millions of those who for ten hours a day for wages of less than a dollar a day! There’s a reason we call them the Proletariat– the working class! It’s because they’re the ones doing all the actual work. They do the farming, the mining, the sweeping, the building, the cleaning, the producing and manufacturing! Why on earth would we even dare to consider these people to be lazy?

Because we’re lazy.

As I’ve said, humans are lazy. More often than not we don’t take the time and effort to investigate something for ourselves; we simply make assumptions or believe whatever our leaders and the media feed us. Since the poor are poor and unable to afford decent (if any) healthcare, we immediately assume that the poor are simply dirty. Since the poor can’t afford decent (if any) educations, we immediately assume that the poor are ignorant and stupid. Since the poor are poor and can’t always afford food/medicine/etc., many are forced into lives of crime- we immediately assume that the poor are naturally criminal. But laziness isn’t the only reason we don’t ask why the poor live in poverty.

Humans are also naturally arrogant. The idea- no, the myth– that the poor are poor because they are lazy makes us feel better about ourselves. We’re where we are because of our efforts! We’re wealthy because of our intelligence, our skill! We’re where we are because of our work-ethic, our self-discipline, and our decency!

Egotistical lies.

We’re where we are because of our own efforts and the efforts of our parents and their parents before them and because of the state of the world we live in and the class we were born into. Personal effort makes up about ten percent of it- the rest is accident of birth and dumb luck. A person pulling himself to the top from nothing is such a rare event that we make a major Hollywood film out of it. If you’re born poor, chances are you’ll stay poor no matter how hard you work unless you get not one but a whole chain of lucky breaks. If you’re born into a middle-class family, you’re probably going to stay middle-class unless you get a bunch of lucky breaks (though less than if you were poor). If you’re born into wealth and privilege than you haven’t done anything to deserve your life and don’t have to do anything to maintain it. Like I said, it really comes down to accident of birth. If you’re lucky, you’re wealthy, if you’re not, you’re poor and probably will be poor for the rest of your life. The Caste System isn’t exclusive to Hinduism.

So in short, don’t believe in the fairy-tale that the wealthy are the best of society and the poor are the worst, or that the poor are poor only because of their own efforts. We are, for the most part, fixed in our place by statistical chance- individual effort has very little effect on us.

It isn’t fair, is it? Only a sadist or an idiot could honestly state that this is an ethical system. Most of us simply shrug our shoulders and say that “life isn’t fair” or “that’s just the way things are…”. I say that when someone’s been murdered, we can’t stick our hands in our pockets and say “life isn’t fair”. I say that when any injustice has been committed, no matter on what scale, the only ethical course of action is to establish justice. Yes, life isn’t fair- but maybe that’s because no one’s doing anything about it!

15
Nov
09

The New Racism

Racism really isn’t as complex of an issue as it is made out to be. Essentially, it’s the idea that certain groups of people are inherently less valuable than others. Now the roots of racism are complex- there’s the issues of ignorance, exposure, generalization, association, history, psychology and a myriad of other factors that go into creating this twisted idea.

 

Now we imagine that we’ve come a long way since the oppressive days of segregation, slavery, and colonization and perhaps, on some level, this is true. Bus seating is equal, there are no more separate water fountains, and a person can eat in a diner no matter what race he is. While there is still racism against minorities (especially against Arabs and Latinos these days), in general people are treated equally no matter what ethnicity they are.

 

What class they are is a different story completely.

 

Classism is the idea that certain groups have value depending on their social status- essentially this is racism (bigotry isn’t strong enough of a word) based not on the color of one’s skin but the size of one’s bank account. While this has several causes, one of the greatest is the idea that people’s social status is proportionate to their intelligence, creativity, and efforts. If this were true (and it isn’t), it would mean that the rich are wealthy because they worked their way to the top and the poor and hunger and filthy because they are lazy. This lie is only reinforced by the fact that crime is higher among lower classes than among the wealthy- one might imagine that the poor are poor because they are criminals, rather than poor are driven to crime because they are poor.

 

The ramifications of classism are many, the most apparent being the way the poor and working class are treated by the middle and upper classes. If you were walking along the street and saw a person running towards you (a person in a suit, carrying a briefcase, and wearing a Rolex watch) you’d probably stop and see what he wanted. Would you do the same thing if the person running at you was dressed in a ragged bathrobe and pushing a shopping cart? I doubt it. You see, it doesn’t matter who the man is or why he’s running at you, the simple appearance of wealth or poverty changes the way you relate to him. You assume the man in the suit is sane and decent and the man in the bathrobe isn’t (showing just how pervasive the idea is that ‘the wealthy are the best of society and the poor are the worst’). The way one dresses (the most obvious indication of class) affects one’s thoughts of, and actions toward, him. In addition, the fact that many minorities are members of the working and poor class tend to reinforce racism already present in society.

 

Of course when you look at the big picture, you can see how none of this makes sense- if a ship is sinks and down in the shark infested waters is a rich man, a middle-class man, and a poor man, should the rich man be saved first? Not at all. Once you strip away the cheap, material things by which we judge each other, we’re all human. The rich man is no more worth saving than the middle-class man, the middle-class man’s live is no less valuable than that of the poor man, yet despite this, we treat each other differently according to wealth. The rich have the best educations and the finest medical care, the working class has the worst.

 

The way I see it, equality isn’t the equal treatment of people in terms of race– equality is the equal treatment of people, no matter what.

05
Aug
09

The Cases for Communism

We all know what it’s like Comrade- whether it comes up casually in a conversation or it appears as we flick through channels on the TV, we almost inevitably manage to hear some form of anti-Communist argument. So it occurred to me, since there are countless anti-Communist arguments being shot at us, it is necessary for us to have some good counter-arguments. Listed below are some of the more common anti-Communist arguments and several proposed defenses.

Human Nature (1)

Argument: Communism cannot work, because Humans are inherently evil.

Counter-Argument: Communism does not and can not function on the idea that humans are perfectible, otherwise there would be no need for Communism.

Human Nature (2)

Argument: Capitalism is a better system than Communism, since Capitalism is based off of human (fallen) nature.

Counter-Argument: If we set up a socio-economic system based on humanity’s inherent greed, then why don’t we set up a legal system based on humanity’s murderous, thieving, and destructive disposition. If human nature is basically flawed, then how can we not expect an economic system based on human nature to be flawed as well?

Historic Precedent

Argument: Communism has proven time and time against to result in oppression and failure- just look at the Soviet Union and North Korea.

Counter-Argument: These are not Communist countries but Socialist dictatorships which claim to be Communist, in much the same way that Batista (a dictator) masqueraded as a democratically elected leader. Communism is no more responsible for the atrocities committed by Stalin than Jesus is for the horrors of the Spanish Inquisition.

Religious Issues (1)

Argument: Communism cannot work because it is godless- it denies any role of religion within the government.

Counter-Argument: Depending on your religion, one might also be able to call the Greek, Roman, and Mongolian Empires “godless”. Even the US has no state religion, yet it- like the empires of Greece and Rome- is generally productive, prosperous, and free.

Religious Issues (2)

Argument: Communism cannot work because it is godless- there are no moral restrictions placed upon the public and/or government.

Counter-Argument: The lack of a “religion” does not mean the lack of ethic or moral values. The Russian Revolution was generally atheistic, yet the revolutionaries were driven by a sense of social justice. Besides, countries which do have religion (either in the sense that religion is present or that religion plays a role in the government) have not been stopped from committing atrocities such as the internment of Japanese-Americans during WWII or the Crusades and witch hunts…

Size Problems

Argument: Communism can only work in small communities and cannot be applied to nations and states.

Counter-Argument: Firstly, the world is a smaller place than it was fifty years ago. With advances in technology, communication and transportation are incredibly easy, making it easier to manage massive areas with ease. Secondly, humans don’t need massive states to live- indeed, most countries are, if you look at a map, small compared to the four “super-states” of the US, Russia, India, and China. Communism would probably result in smaller countries.

Governmental Issues (1)

Argument: Communism requires a massive and intrusive government to function. Citizens would lose all freedom.

Counter-Argument: Communism calls the general abolition of the state. Like the Jeffersonians, Communism calls for a basic level of centralized government, but puts most of the power on local government. Control rests in the hands of the public, not the politicians. It is the public and the public only who decide how intrusive to let their government be.

Governmental Issue (2)

Argument: Communism lets the people be lazy- they can sit back have the government take care of them.

Counter-Argument: Communism requires people to work even more than Capitalism does. The “to each according to his needs” requires a “from each according to his abilities”. People must work for their daily bread, people must vote and take an active role in their own governance.

Governmental Issue (3)

Argument: Communism has been attempted and it failed- even if we accept everything about Communism, we can see that it doesn’t work since Leon Trotsky, the populist leader, was ousted, exiled, and assassinated by Stalin. Communism doesn’t work.

Counter-Argument: Neither does Democracy. Corruption entered into the Greek political system and brought the democratic city-states crashing down. Do we claim that Democracy is impossible? Do we give up on it? Not at all- we simply figure out what went wrong, fix it, and try it again. It’s what the founding fathers of the US did, it’s what the French and English did, and so on.

Lifestyle Dilemma

Argument: Communism brings about a lower standard of living. Capitalism is better than Communism since Capitalism can provide a higher quality of life.

Counter-Argument: In this Capitalist world, it is only a slim minority who benefit from the free market. Yes, some standards of living will decrease but across the globe, billions of people will have a massive increase in their standard of living. Besides, even if the world could live as the average American does, we would need at least three more planet earths just to sustain our decadent lifestyle.

And so Comrades, with these arguments we should have a pretty decent defense against the attacks that are most often brought against us. Naturally none of these arguments are air-tight, but please keep in mind, they aren’t meant to be. These are simply the bulwark against the preliminary attacks.

As we said in the BSA, Comrades- “Be Prepared!”.