by Eric Striker
With the day of the worker (May 1st) rapidly approaching, a curious trend is emerging. In the last two years, stock markets all around the world have been shattering records , yet the average person’s living standards are either stagnant or in rapid decline. According to measures of productivity viz-a-viz wages, there is a stark gap unprecedented in history, yet the prices of consumer goods only continue to rise.
Conservatives have a number of explanations for this phenomenon: labor unions, high taxes, regulations–the capitalist is always above criticism, nay, he is given the quasi-mystical title of “job creator”, as if the typical large scale capitalist doesn’t writhe in horror at the thought of hiring more than the absolute bare minimum. Yet here, at least in the case of the United States, history is also being made. America’s largest multi-nationals pay few to no taxes , while lesser plutocracy exploits the infinite amount of loopholes to legally evade. Labor union membership has been sinking in the quick sand of illegal immigration and a reduction in militancy (I won’t comment on the irony of the Left trying to support both) , and regulations are quietly, and loudly (Glass-Steagall Act), withering away in numerous fundamental sectors in the current neo-liberal environment.
The real root of the problem can be seen in the outrageous behavior and repugnant psychology of the peddler-turned-power mogul: they just don’t give a shit. While conservatives come up with a million Choose Your Own Adventure style (arbitrary) nightmare scenarios about what will happen if people confront Wal-Mart’s unethical labor practices, the facts cannot be denied: this one company’s service sector slave army costs tax-payers almost $8 billion dollars a year in social services. In other words, whatever you think you’re saving from Wal-Mart’s artificially depressed wages (because without food stamps and Medicaid, their workers would simply rise up and kill them) you end up paying back in dividends by April 18th. With Wal-Mart revenues approaching $500 billion, and a net profit of at least $14.7 billion, why are we picking up the tab for their cost of labor, and where is all this money going?
The Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art encapsulates the sheer insolence of America’s especially scummy, cosmopolitan, and soulless bourgeoisie. Located in Bentonville, Arkansas–the second poorest state, where Wal-Mart happens to be the top employer–Alice Walton set aside a whopping $1.2 billion dollars for beauty disdaining Jewish culture-molester Moshe Safdie to design and plop down this trendy hunched Bauhaus eye sore out in the middle of nowhere:
Inside of the museum hangs some of the most illustrious bowel movements ever to be taken over canvas. Lady Walton has gone on a wild shopping spree, paying $57.3 million for Andy Warhol’s idiotic Coca Cola, $10.1 million for Donald Judd’s banal Untitled, 1989 , $25 million for Jew Mark Rothko’s insult to our intelligence No 210/211. Yet they shriek that there really is no money to provide benefits and improved wages for their workers. But here lies proof that they’re lying, with the detector’s needle skipping in response to this little piece of kikey Upper East Side “sensibility” in poverty-stricken Arkansas. One must assume this is a middle finger to all of us, perhaps a gratuitous insult to their starving employees and the average slightly better off working stiff subsidizing them. What the vast majority of bourgeoisie in America does is no different than negroes ordering Hennessy at da club with their converted EBT dollars (what gets dishonestly conflated for “socialism”) : We Pay, They Play.
And here’s the crux of the Socialism vs Capitalism debate: unrestrained capitalists will always utilize their resources to break down barriers and borders (physical and political), as this gives them an edge. After gaining enough power, they collectivize investment and privatize profit, while evading any responsibilities to treat nation and kinsmen with dignity, and ultimately wasting or investing abroad the money they make. For this reason, nationalists from the Kuomintang to the NSDAP have always been hostile to large accumulations of capital–for the large bourgeoisie are only loyal to themselves and empty cosmopolitan fads that gives their sterile materialistic lives superfluous value. Economic planning/centralization by the few exists in both capitalism and socialism, the only distinction is whether $1.2 billion dollars worth of Wal-Mart surplus value will go towards lowering our taxes and getting Arkansas’ full-time working families out of poverty, or to Alice Walton’s tasteless little play-house.
There are some things the market does better, mostly in the realm of light industry, but the idea that Socialism has “failed” is an a priori, ideological assertion with no backing. Was post-Meijii Japan’s decision to distance itself from previous liberal economic models towards a self-reliant planned economy a failure? Its emergence from World War I as a rapidly industrialized superpower would beg to differ. Did the average factory worker in the Third Reich vacationing on the Italian Riviera in the Kraft durch Freude (courtesy of the state backed German Labor Union) system have anything to envy from his American equivalent starving in front of Jewish owned department stores full of rotting food nobody can afford?
Even in the case of the Soviet Union, if you were to tell a Frenchmen , a German, or an American in the 19th century that one day Russia would beat the West to space, he would laugh in your face. But a more humble machine running at 100% capacity can get close to overtaking a flashier one operating on 70% (about the typical rate of labor force participation in capitalist systems). After decades of drinking Pepsi, listening to the Beatles on repeat, and going through countless pairs of Levi’s jeans– 64% of Russians today have concluded that after trying both systems, they would vote to re-establish the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. Even in the realm of supposed self-evident superiority, consumer goods, East Germans and other ex-Eastern bloc citizens find themselves returning or yearning for the old brands, after figuring out that the difference between DDR washing machine soap and American washing machine soap is that the latter spends more on advertisement, and even then, most of our stuff is low quality crap made in China anyway.
Socialism failed depending on your value system. Is success gauged by how many millionaires a nation has? The East German government in the 1980’s mitigated the falling birth rate through a quasi-eugenic program that provided generous stipends to college women in exchange for marriage and reproduction. The West German capitalist lobbies pushed to import Orientals from Anatolia instead. With the renewed push for cheap labor, in anticipation of TIPP, to undercut German workers benefitting from the last remnants of retained Nationalsocialist economic policies, Germans are slated to become a minority in their own country in one generation.
The debate isn’t over, far from it. I will be writing deeper stuff on socialism and capitalism in the future.
Happy May Day.