Freedom from Wage Slavery

Waking Up: Freeing Ourselves from Work
By Pamela Satterwhite
Publisher: Humming Words Press (2009)
ISBN: 978-0-9649465-1-4

Every effort under compulsion demands a sacrifice of life energy.

– Nikola Tesla, quoted in Waking Up: Freeing Ourselves from Work

Tesla’s quotation captures the reality of the working world for many people. People trudge off to work, do work, return home, recuperate, and go to work the next day. Most people will do this five days a week for most of the year.

Who likes having to work five days a week, having the days and hours of their week decided by someone else, receiving a few weeks in the year as a vacation time, or having to obey orders from a boss? This is the situation for the masses of people who are workers. Capitalist society is structured such that most people are either unemployed or wage slaves.

Pamela Satterwhite has written a book, Waking Up: Freeing Ourselves from Work, that seeks, as the title states, to free people from the wage slavery, job drudgery, and submission. At its core, Satterwhite reveals that freedom from work is achieving social justice: freedom from exploitation, racism, warring, etc.

The author asks questions: “Is survival at work the highest good? The goal, the objective? …to endure …in a job?”

Satterwhite likens workers to stressed caged animals and bosses to “masturbatory puppeteers” who get off on controlling the labor of others. This is inculcated in the public education system where students submit to teachers, who submit to their principals.

She derides submission to authority. She finds this to be unnatural.

Satterwhite refers to capitalists as podrunks (a term abbreviated from author Mark Crispin Miller’s pitiful-power-drunk few) and sometimes as vampires. They control the labor.

Satterwhite harkens to Friedrich Engels that labor is capital. Therefore, if people work together and share in the work, they create the wealth. Her solution is simple: a mass movement to end wage work. Solidarity and cooperation are crucial.

Satterwhite finds that most people are complicit in the system, caving in for some infinitesimal portion of political power (which she defines as “the ability to induce others to labor”). She relates one striking example of selling out in which English parents allowed their 7- to 11-year olds to become commercials selling products to other children.

She acknowledges that solidarity is difficult to maintain, being always under assault by the system, which is designed to wear people down and make them complicit.

Podrunks are Machiavellian; they oppress and wield racism to their ends. They seek to atomize and separate the workers. This is accomplished by instilling fear among them.

She argues that work can be worse than slavery. Slave owners had vested interests to care for their slaves. Podrunks can always hire new workers.

Satterwhite criticizes the illusion/con that work is a sharing of wealth. She says workers have three sources of power: the ancestors, the earth, and each other. She laments that most people don’t pay attention to the earth in them.

She analyses progress, that lofty term that is used to justify the system — the system that separates people into classes. They order and we obey. The orders, Satterwhite argues, compel people to carry out all kinds of morally repugnant work that leads to environmental destruction, mass killing, and genocide.

Nonetheless, Satterwhite argues, “Human solidarity will easily trump the politics of ‘divide and conquer’ when we decide to look at our ancestors’ stories unvarnished …”

Satterwhite calls force the podrunk’s mantra. Culture is a tool to confuse and demoralize people. Freedom, she holds, will come when people build their own cultures.

“Podrunks are organized. So must we be.” The people must grab control.

Many people call for a retooling of capitalism. Satterwhite says capitalism has to be ditched. She finds the notion of saving capitalism from itself silly. She focuses on the needs of the masses of people and not a system that enslaves the people and renders them soulless.

What to Do?

wakingupbookcoverSatterwhite first seeks to answer the question: What do we want? Step-by-step planning is required, as well as solidarizing. She sees this being achieved through mutual aid and fellowship, Earthships (living in harmony with the environment), a product and services exchange, refusal of division work, and freeing children from coercive education.

She identifies the starting points as: boycotting big corporations, organizing via the internet, building bridges, claiming the commons, and the general strike.

Parecon is another take on gaining freedom from capitalist work drudgery and submission to podrunks. Forging a solidarity with pareconists would broaden and strengthen the movement against wage slavery.

Re parecon, Satterwhite responded by email: “There are many points on which [pareconist] Michael Albert and I agree. Where we differ, I think, is probably in our analysis of the problem.” Satterwhite continued, “I think that in order to be effective advocates and activists for our future freedom without bosses we have to premise our advocacy and action on correct analysis. When I read elaborate visions of our future freedom that are offered because they’re ‘rational,’…’make sense’…etc. I’m not convinced that that analysis has been done.”

One wonders what convincing evidence of analysis is — certainly not irrational and nonsensical visions. Important to both visions, however, is solidarity.

Satterwhite writes in a relaxed, colloquial style. A few times I found myself lost, wondering about quotations. Who is speaking? Nonetheless, the book is eminently readable.

Satterwhite has drawn upon a variety of sources from personal anecdotes, dreams, literature (Herman Melville, Virginia Woolf, etc.), media (especially cinema), self-disclosure, economists (Karl Polanyi, Immanuel Wallerstein, Friedrich Engels, etc.) to the psychologist Erich Fromm, the scientist-inventor Nikola Tesla, other writers on topic of work like Jeremy Rifkind and Studs Terkel, and even Martin the Warrior mouse.

Satterwhite quotes often the writings of Barack Obama, and she goes easy on him because he “may well have concluded that the people aren’t ready to roll, and who could argue…” I would argue: because a person who runs for the presidency is, usually, a person who covets leadership (among other attributes such as fame, power, money, etc.), and it is a leader’s job to lead the people and not be led by them … otherwise that leader is merely a follower. (As an aside, I eschew leadership and followership. In a system with representative “leaders” and politicians, they should serve the informed masses of people and not impose on the people. However, that is another topic.)

Can freedom from work be achieved? Satterwhite points to the workers’s victory in the tiny Caribbean country of Guadeloupe following a 44-day general strike as a start. Does this sound promising?

Waking Up: Freeing Ourselves from Work can be read online at The Nascence to End Work or you can request a free hard copy (a donation is appreciated). Pamela Satterwhite can be contacted at moc.liamgnull@krowdne2san.

Kim Petersen is co-editor of Dissident Voice. He can be reached at: kim@dissidentvoice.org. Read other articles by Kim.

57 comments on this article so far ...

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  1. ned lud said on July 17th, 2009 at 7:32am #

    Tesla’s quote is good, but he got ripped off by was it Westinghouse? or some other corporate already obscenely rich motherfucker….

    …so what did he (Tesla) prove except that he was only able to be a victim like so many of the rest of us?

    The rich must be destroyed.

  2. B99 said on July 17th, 2009 at 7:35am #

    There will be no victory of the working class over the capitalists unless there is interracial solidarity – yet race goes unmentioned in the above summation. Substantial gains can only be made if the white working class abandons its position of short-term minor privilege and allies with black and Latino working classes for the purpose of solidifying their position jointly rather than as competitors for meager job handouts.

    Satterwhite veers far off-course when she favorably compares actual slavery to wage slavery. It is nonsense to depict slaves as a protected class because they were a great asset to their owners. Which would Satterwhite rather be – a slave or a working-stiff?

  3. Jeff said on July 17th, 2009 at 8:18am #

    This is a great Utopian thought. What are we to have: selective breeding so that every human has the same personality type?

    There is no solution to the human condition, even a one race scenario. The chances of everyone getting along is no more than a childish fantasy.

    Grow up. We are a warring race. Have been, are, and always will be until we eliminate ourselves to near extinction. Then there are not enough to war until the population grows again. That is reality. Deal with it the best you can.

  4. bozh said on July 17th, 2009 at 8:33am #

    b99,
    in canada and US we have hundreds of ethnicities. The reason for that is that if any ethnic group wld be starting to be dominant to a certain point, other ethnoses wld soon level the playing field.

    after all, everybody knows that where there is two or three major ethnicities, one has disagrrements or brutalities.

    `jews` are now the most influential in US but may be seen as either bunch of ethnicities or that their plan is the same or very similar to that of the uncle sam`s.
    anyhow, this is just one fallible person`s interpretation. Welcome to all others. tnx

  5. Wingnut said on July 17th, 2009 at 8:52am #

    Hi gang… good article… good comments.

    Jeff, think about the USA military… and the way members behave. There is commonality amongst all people of all races. All people want food. All want a shelter. All want health. All want at least SOME happiness/enjoyment. All members of the USA military… follow some common basic “things”, no matter what they’re personality type. They all agreed to follow certain rules of conduct, and they seem to take care of each other. There is a massive lack of fear for survival supplies. On the civilian side… fear for survival is RAMPANT!

    It comes down to cultures and traditions. The military sort-of polices itself… through the use of “regulation quoters” which are akin to “elders” in tribal Indian cultures. If you look at tribes and communes like the USA military, Amish, Quaker, Mennonites, what have you, you see that they are “cooperatives” and not competitions. Capitalism, the #1 religion/culture (due to force-to-join extortion), unfortunately, is packed with competing. It is a “competer’s church” and in being that, wars nearly constantly. Switch to cooperatives/communes, and we’re on our way to something much better. The USA public library system is another example of a true commune/socialism, and it MIGHT be the best running system EVER. Run the world’s survival/supply system in a similar way, and watch the warring come to a screaching halt right before your very eyes.

    Quit forcing 18 year olds into a “join the competer’s church or die” ultimatum… is step one. Get a job or die… is felony extortion and forced religion. Not everyone wants to join pyramid schemes like capitalism (See the Columbian freemason pyramid scheme symbol on back of USA dollar?) SOME of us KNOW BETTER than to do pyramiding/rat-racing/getting-a-leg-up.

    Step two is to notice all the “pay-up or lose your wellbeing” Chicago mob-like extortion going-on inside capitalism. Where’s Elliot Ness when we need him most? Americans or ANYONE should NEVER seek “jobs”. Those are slavery slots… working FOR instead of WITH others. Instead, we all should instead seek “set-for-life” like 5% of the USA births get to be born-as. Old gold. Bloodlined gold. Monetary/wellbeing discrimination at its finest.

    Abolish economies and ownership, and it all goes away. Meantime, pyramids ALWAYS collapse, and capitalism is no different. Capitalism’s pyramid is EXACTLY like the childhood playground pyramids we repeatedly fail-at. While the upper 1/3 is “heads in the clouds”, the kids on the bottom are headed for the hospital… crushed by having the weight of the world’s knees in their backs.

  6. Kim Petersen said on July 17th, 2009 at 10:21am #

    B99,

    Thanks for your comments. This was a book review, and I cannot get into every point in the book without reprinting it.

    With all due respect, your comment on solidarity is logically puzzling. One cannot call for solidarity without it being interracial, otherwise it is division. Satterwhite definitely did not call for such an oxymoronic racially divided solidarity.

    As for your stating a favorable comparison of slavery to wage slavery, nothing was mentioned about preferring one over the other. It was simply one matter-of-fact nugget Satterwhite mentioned.

  7. FreeRad said on July 17th, 2009 at 10:40am #

    The problem is not Capitalism. It’s government. Government legislated the 40 hour work week not businesses. People, in a capitalist Free-Market society, can decide their own hours so long as they can find a company that is willing to accept your terms. If you can’t then you are fully capable of starting your own business. Don’t blame trade blame government.

  8. B99 said on July 17th, 2009 at 10:45am #

    In the US the history of the 20th century has been to create ‘White’ people out of different ethnicities. World War II served to integrate Italian, Polish, Irish, Czech, Jew, etc. into one body of whites – as did the many Hollywood movies of the era. It was only with the rise of identity politics decades later that we see the surfacing of the hyphenated American. An ethnic re-consciousness-raising among Jews was part of this phenomenon. In this manner, whites are juxtaposed against blacks – who are viewed as ‘the other’ even by immigrants of recent vintage.

  9. Russell Olausen said on July 17th, 2009 at 10:49am #

    I suppose the chain of command is a legitimate survival tool.However to many of these podrunks need cutting down to their natural abilities.Although you may suffer a brief setback, never lose an opportunity to cut a podrunk down at the knees.Justice before peace.

  10. B99 said on July 17th, 2009 at 11:08am #

    Kim – If you listen and read the popular media in the US there is a group of people known as the working class. That is a reference to white people – the white working class – otherwise known as ‘working families’ in mainstream parlance. This does not include black people, who when referred to at all, are called the black community, with nary a reference to class divisions.

    The left does not talk about race nearly as much as it should, since it is central to understanding the political currents of our country. Instead, class analysis is largely done in the abstract, as if there were no racial divisions. Yet we have a large white working class in our country who natually should be in solidarity with the black (and now Hispanic) working classes. But solidarity cannot be achieved without reaching across the racial frontier – something few leftists write about. The left has yet to attempt to make a hard case that it is to the white working class benefit to ally with other workers rather than compete with them. Instead we have a literature of white privilege that largely concludes that whites get privilege and blacks get the shaft. The truth is not that poor whites have it bad and blacks have it worse, but that poor whites have it bad BECAUSE blacks have it worse. Thus, the only rescue of society by the working class is thru black/white/Latino solidarity.

    So I’m saying that one cannot merely call for class solidarity without addressing the race in America issue. Or maybe you can – but its just words if you do so.

    You say that Satterwhite ‘argues that work can be worse than slavery. ‘ That’s not a matter of fact nugget – that’s just wrong.

  11. Max Shields said on July 17th, 2009 at 1:13pm #

    While I agree with the overall spirit of what Satterwhite’s book seems to be aboutm, there are some real quirks with regard to capitalism.

    I find myself agreeing with B99′s last sentence above: “You say that Satterwhite ‘argues that work can be worse than slavery. ‘ That’s not a matter of fact nugget – that’s just wrong.”

    First, “Satterwhite harkens to Friedrich Engels that labor is capital. ” While I give you the “fact” that Engels said this, it is complete poppycock. Capital is Capital, Labor is Labor. Word games do not change this essential distinction.

    Second “work” is not bad, that labor is exploited is bad. Again, this confusion makes such arguments weaker than they should be.

    But at the heart of this issue is the question: “what is work?” And further more, “Why do we work?” “What is the object of our work?”

    Parecon is an overthinking of the problem/solution, in my opinion. It is are re-statement of a workers’ cooperative which is a set of rather complex relationships, with an attempt at democratic governance – highly noble mission which can in many respects be realized, but it sharpens the question of human nature.

    You see, the problem is that economics (of which labor/work are clearly integral) was once a philosophical endeavor grounded in morality and ethics. Classical economics had major moral and ethical principals which were shredded under corporate hyper-capitalism or neo-classical economics. The latter consistes of model building and sophisticatedly nonsensical mathematical formulae.

    If we don’t address the hard questions, than how can we begin to formulate honest to goodness solutions. What is human nature? Is human nature boundlessly becoming, emerging and thus mutable. Or is it fixed in part or whole. Is being human an evolving essence which can transform itself willfully?

    What do we truly yearn for? Is satisfaction attainable?

    Talking about work being a “bitch” when it’s enslaved to the “man” is all well and good. But it’s when we offer alternatives that we need to reach deep into the question(s).

  12. bozh said on July 17th, 2009 at 1:21pm #

    “it is leader’s job to lead people and not to be led by them else the leader is a follower” .
    not only that this is an overgeneralization, to which true or false answers do not apply, but also being an overgeneralization, it is meaningfull-meaningless to frustration.

    and especially in view that every ‘leader’ i know of, had since sumerian rise or even before, misled us.
    else how is one to explain the slavery, godfulness of some leaders and followed by enserfment to this day?

    no, we can’t blame the victims by saying slaves/serfs are slave/serfs because they have slave mentality or are lazy, unmotivated, stupid, etc.

    it is an ancient ruse to teach people, Hey, u need us to lead you and guide you or else you’ll revert to bestiality, crime, thievery, hate, etc.
    priests and pols are the worst in this behavior.

    so how did we survive before we had shamans and clergy to ‘lead’ us.
    we survived, i assume, because we were trusted by everybody and we trusted everybody. We had no leaders then.
    in short we led and taught one another. But that had been destroyed possibly forever.
    and people are not only mighty fearfull to go on strike, voice an opinion, or afraid for life, but also near-totally deluded and unsane.

    make people unsane, that’s been the goal. Once people were deprived of their rightfull inheritance, which wld include also sanity, they are now dehumanized to quite a degree.
    and the rest is easy! tnx
    it takes only a modicum of intellignce to espy that we are OK. We always had been OK; we always will be OK.

    we function best when we are interdependent; i.e., listen and listened to; teach and be taught; lead and be led; obey and be obeyed; respect and be respected, etcetc.
    and we talk and are being talked to best in a circle and not some people up on podium and the rest of us like serfs in seats.

  13. ajohnstone said on July 17th, 2009 at 3:51pm #

    Socialism is almost globally misunderstood and misrepresented.Socialism will be a basic structural change to society, and many of the things that most people take for granted, as “just the way things have to be”, can and must be changed to establish socialism. People tend to accept as true the things they hear over and over again. But repetition doesn’t make things true. Because the truth and the facts often contradict “common knowledge”, socialists have to show that “common knowledge” is wrong. The task of capitalist ideology is to maintain the veil which keeps people from seeing that their own activities reproduce the form of their daily life , the task of socialism is to unveil the activities of daily life, to render them transparent.

    Capitalist ideology treats land, capital , and the products of labor, as things which have the power to produce, to create value, to work for their owners, to transform the world. This is what Marx called the fetishism which characterizes people’s everyday conceptions, and which is raised to the level of dogma by Economics. For the economist, living people are things – factors of production -, and things live money – works, Capital – produces .When men refuse to sell their labour, money cannot perform even the simplest tasks, because money does not ” work “. The notion of the “productivity of capital,” are inventions of the “science” of Economics.

    The majority of the population is not engaged in productive work. The greater part of the non-producers is employed in the buying and selling plus all the related occupations . Any system by which the buying and selling system is retained means the employment of vast sections of the population in unproductive work. It leaves the productive work to be done by one portion of the people whilst the other portion is spending its energies in keeping shop, banking, and all the other various developments of commerce which employ probably more than two-thirds of the people today. It is the elimination of such activities and institutions , essential though they may be to a functioning market economy but unproductive in themselves from the standpoint of producing use values or meeting human needs, that constitutes perhaps the most important productive advantage that a socialist economy would have over a capitalist economy. The elimination of this structural waste intrinsic to capitalism will free up a vast amount of labour and materials for socially useful production in socialism.

    In socialist society productive activity would take the form of freely chosen activity undertaken by human beings with a view to producing the things they needed to live and enjoy life. The necessary productive work of society would not be done by a class of hired wage workers but by all members of society, each according to their particular skills and abilities, cooperating to produce the things required to satisfy their needs both as individuals and as communities. Work in socialist society could only be voluntary since there would be no group or organ in a position to force people to work against their will.

    “… in communist society, where nobody has one exclusive sphere of activity but each can become accomplished in any branch he wishes, society regulates the general production and thus makes it possible for me to do one thing today and another tomorrow, to hunt in the morning, fish in the afternoon, rear cattle in the evening, criticise after dinner, just as I have a mind, without ever becoming hunter, fisherman, shepherd or critic.” -Marx ,
    And it was Marx who said in communism it will be society’s free (disposable) time and no longer labor time that becomes the true measure of society’s wealth.

    Nor should we forget his son-in-law Larfargue who wrote “The Right to be Lazy” . Lafargue’s approach to work in a socialist society – that it should be minimised , reducing the working day to 2 or 3 hours.- is only one of two possible socialist approaches to the question.
    William Morris was in contrast arguing that what workers should be demanding was what might be called the “Right to Attractive Work”. The two different approaches suggest two different policies that might be pursued in a socialist society: maximum automatisation so as to minimise working time or making as much work as possible attractive and personally rewarding.

    Morris regarded work as a basic, natural human need. His main criticism of capitalism was that it denied the vast majority of humans satisfying and enjoyable work. Under capitalism work, instead of being the enjoyable activity of creating or doing something useful, became a boring and often unhealthy and dangerous burden imposed on those who were forced to get a living by selling their mental and physical energies for a wage Morris’s concept of “art”. Which he defined, not as some specialised activity engaged in by some fringe group of “artists”, but as ”the expression of a person’s joy in their work”; people who enjoyed their work would produce beautiful things. And when he realised that the nature of capitalism meant that most producers were denied any enjoyment in their work – or, put another way, that it meant the “death of art”

    Work should not really be equated with employment. Work will be an essential part of life in socialism; it will be a part of the individual’s development and a necessary, healthy expenditure of energy. Employment is wage labour . As such it has alienating factors associated with it; e.g. Monday to Fridays ,9 to 5 is “their” time, whilst the weekend is “our” time, where we can enjoy working in the garden or painting. Employment is based on the division of labour. The upshot being that workers are tied to one job for years on end, instead of being people able to do all kinds of things, which socialist society will allow. In a socialist society the distinction between work and leisure will diminish—perhaps even disappear. People will have an opportunity to use their hobbies and enthusiasms for the social good: to enjoy being useful.
    Most of us want to work. What we hate is employment. We want to work for ourselves, our families and friends, our community, not some thieving parasite !

  14. Max Shields said on July 17th, 2009 at 3:56pm #

    bozh,
    You have hit an important point – interdependency. This is what I mean when I say we must understand the human species, how it become dysfunctional, behaves pathologically, and what are the corrective behaviors (all of which are economic) we need to be aiming this alternative framework toward.

    But why is interdependency important? How does it work and why is it better than individualism or dependency? What tempts us to exploit rather than cooperate?

    What would happen if the commons were once again restored? How would that change the dynamics of power?

    There are towns in Europe that have eliminated stop lights and signs. What do you think happened? A kind of democracy, a peaceful co-existence between one auto and another and pedestrians never felt threatened! Accidents are almost unheard of. Traffic is slower, orderly and moves steadily – no traffic jams!

  15. Max Shields said on July 17th, 2009 at 4:22pm #

    First, Socialism is overused and under defined. It looks like it’s the “only” alternative to a pathological capitalism when in fact it is mostly a mirage.

    Capitalism had a moral and ethical basis, but lost it. Imperialism is not capitalism. This is a basic flaw in thinking. We “lump” everything we don’t like into “Capitalism” when there is more to it than Adam Smith’s Wealth of Nations or David Ricardo and his theory on rent. The latter is extremely important and lost classical economic principle.

    But it is not so much trying to keep “capitalism” or “fix” it but to think through a framework that addresses human needs and understanding the pathologies that seem to sprout up. Are these independent of polity? I don’t think so. Power and the concentration of wealth are dangerous regardless the ideology espoused.

    ajohnstone I think the issues raised about work can be done without embracing a poorly defined socialism. While I think parecon is too blueprintish, it does attempt to get away from the wornout use of socialism. Not simply because it has baggage, but because it is all over the place.

    We can talk about an essential transformation without keeping the old wars between socialism/capitalism as our only paradigm. I think the discussion and results would be more fruitful.

  16. Jeff said on July 17th, 2009 at 4:39pm #

    “think about the USA military… and the way members behave. There is commonality amongst all people of all races. All people want food. All want a shelter. All want health. All want at least SOME happiness/enjoyment. All members of the USA military… follow some common basic “things”, no matter what they’re personality type. They all agreed to follow certain rules of conduct, and they seem to take care of each other. There is a massive lack of fear for survival supplies. On the civilian side… fear for survival is RAMPANT!”

    Wingnut, all military personnel throughout history needed to be mind numbed for battle. This did not give them a chance at a life of free thinking. Should this be your example of how we are to survive, hell, may as well learn the goose step once again.

  17. B99 said on July 17th, 2009 at 6:24pm #

    Free rad – the 40 hour week is the accomplishment of labor – that government instituted that regulation was not a whim – it was due to pressure from labor. If we don’t like the idea of a 40 hour work-week, (and most of us likely don’t) then we need to organize for a lesser work-week. To do that, we need strong unions, to get strong unions, white led unions are going to have to ally with blacks and Latinos. Labor can still shut down this country (most of this country is working class) – but it will never happen unless working-class solidarity is established across racial/ethnic lines. And I should include the gender line as well as women make up much or most of the working class.

    As far as just opening a business if you don’t like the regs, that’s a non-starter. The logical extent of that theory is that we would be selling to an increasingly atomized market, perhaps eventually just to our spouses. Secondly, if the working class always opts to join the petty bourgeoisie instead of fighting for control of their labor, then working class solidarity goes out the window.

  18. B99 said on July 17th, 2009 at 6:43pm #

    Johnstone – Lots of good points, though I think the prescription tends towards the utopian.
    A couple of points – I’d say that in a socialist society everyone has to work. Work, of course, can be very broadly defined. But except for the incapable, if you don’t work you can’t expect to receive food and goods. This is akin to band societies where all adults work. Shirkers are not appreciated.

    Also, not all work is enjoyable – but it has to be done. Dishes have to be washed, toilets cleaned, roofs repaired. So socialism will not end unenjoyable work. It WILL mean the end of maids cleaning other peoples homes though.

  19. lichen said on July 17th, 2009 at 9:44pm #

    A socialist society will be bound by human rights, which states that everyone has an inalienable right to food, housing, water, education, and other social services; these can never be denied.

    ajohnstone, you’ve made some good points, and I think blending the two perspectives–minimizing “work” as much as possible, and also greatly changing what people do with their daily lives. This is very different from the right wing social attitudes typically, classically found in the american “working class” who don’t believe in child labor laws and prefer to take out the fact that they have no equality, living wages or benefits at their jobs on young people and their children by forcing others to work at unsatisfying, unnecessary tasks for no reason; who believe very deeply in hierarchy and strong class divisions, as opposed to ending them. Cooperatives are much, much better than unions.

  20. Deadbeat said on July 18th, 2009 at 12:36am #

    What I got as the main theme of the author’s writings is the need for Solidarity. In order to have Solidarity there must be trust and a vision of the struggle. Unfortunately there is neither and I don’t see either happening anytime soon.

  21. Deadbeat said on July 18th, 2009 at 12:42am #

    Capitalism had a moral and ethical basis, but lost it

    I thought Capitalism began with the Enclosure Laws which took away the commons. Thus when did Capitalism ever have an “ethical” basis? Me-think you are making an argument where there is none.

  22. ajohnstone said on July 18th, 2009 at 3:50am #

    Who will do the dirty work? Socialism will not be a Utopia where all the problems of existence have vanished. Unpleasant work will still have to be done.
    Machinery will do it, said Oscar Wilde. “All unintellectual labour, all monotonous, dull labour, all labour that deals with dreadful things, and involves unpleasant conditions, must be done by machinery”.
    This will release each individual to help the community in his or her own way by doing service or producing things which will satisfy each person’s need to be active, to contribute and to help. Wilde summed it up: “The community by means of organization of machinery will supply the useful things, and . . . the beautiful things will be made by the individual”.

    Unappealing dirty work can probably be taken care of by utilising labour-saving machines. But where it is impossible and where dirty work will have to be done in socialist society we can be quite sure of two things: Firstly, it will NOT be done by the same people ALL the time . All able members of society will take turns at such work . And also not to be forgotten is that it will be carried out by socially conscious men and women who appreciate that society belongs to them and therefore its less pleasant tasks must be performed by them. In the knowledge that we own and control the earth, and all that is in and on it, it is unlikely i think that human beings will refuse to attend to the dirty work within socialism.

    The fact is that most jobs under capitalism are either completely or partially unnecessary. Many of those that are necessary are performed by people working long hard hours while others suffer poverty of low wages and low status . Elimination of all jobs required only within a capitalist system would reduce necessary tasks to such a trivial level that they could easily be taken care of voluntarily and cooperatively, eliminating the need for the whole apparatus of economic incentives and state enforcement.

    As for the lazy greedy shirkers if one who contributes less takes more, why should this be a problem in a society which is based on the satisfaction of needs? Those people living in a socialist society who are too idle to work will not be a drain on society’s resources for very long, for if they lie in bed for long enough they will die—of boredom, if not of inertia.

    I take issue that socialism is poorly defined but what i think the point being made is that , unlike Parecon , many socialists caution against the creation of blueprints ( “recipes for the cook-shops of tomorrow” as Marx called them ) . There is no point in drawing up in advance the sort of detailed blueprint of industrial organisation that the old IWW and the Syndicalists or the Guild Socialists used to do and what Parecon now does . For a small group of socialists , as we are now , to do so would be undemocratic. It would also be dumb. Socialists don’t have crystal balls to determine what the conditions will be when socialism is established. As the socialist majority grows, when socialism is within the grasp of the working class, then will be the proper time for making such important decisions. It is imprudent for today’s socialist minority to be telling people how to administer a socialist society. When a majority of people understand what socialism means, the suggestions for socialist administration will solidify into an appropriate plan. It will be based upon the conditions existing at that time, not today.
    We also recognise that there may not be one single way of doing things, and precise details and ways of doing things might vary from one part of the world to another, even between neighbouring communities. Of course, we can reach some generalised conclusions based on basic premises – that socialism will be necessarily democratic, for example – and can outline broad principles or options that could be applied. That is, we do not have to draw up a plan for socialism, but simply and broadly demonstrate that it is possible and therefore refute the label of “utopianism” .
    We look to the real world to see how it is, and how it could be. Socialist society is not starting from a blank sheet and we are inheriting an already existing economic system . Workers with all their skills and experience of co-operating to run capitalism in the interests of the capitalists could begin to run society in their own interest. We do not need to build the new society in the womb of the old, that is here already.

    If people didn’t work then society would obviously fall apart. To establish socialism the vast majority must consciously decide that they want socialism and that they are prepared to work in socialist society. The establishment of socialism presupposes the existence of a mass socialist movement and a profound change in social outlook. It is simply not reasonable to suppose that the desire for socialism on such a large scale, and the conscious understanding of what it entails on the part of all concerned, would not influence the way people behaved in socialism and towards each other. Would they want to jeopardise the new society they had helped create? I think not.

  23. momo said on July 18th, 2009 at 5:45am #

    ajohnstone said on July 18th, 2009 at 3:50am #

    Who will do the dirty work?

    When the profit principle is removed from all decisions, work can be better organized, together with technology, to minimize ‘dirty work’, which really needs to be defined properly.

  24. B99 said on July 18th, 2009 at 6:12am #

    Lichen – Unions are essential as long as we have capitalism. We are in dire straits today in no small measure because the right of labor to organize has been largely destroyed by capital.

    Deadbeat – Achieving a sense of solidarity across the working class is the major work of the era. We cannot get beyond capitalism if we cannot achieve solidarity across racial, ethnic, and gender lines. For that reason, discussions of how to build solidarity is paramount – more so than discussions of the particulars of the socialist society.

  25. Max Shields said on July 18th, 2009 at 6:26am #

    Deadbeat “I thought Capitalism began with the Enclosure Laws which took away the commons. Thus when did Capitalism ever have an “ethical” basis? Me-think you are making an argument where there is none.”

    This is not capitalism. There is nothing in any of the major classical economist writings that called for enclosure. This is the result of industrialization and emergence of corporations.

    Let’s step back. Is it better that the State own everything? Or is it better that a few corporations own nearly everything? Those are false choices, but this is what we tend to see. Are we to say that Adam Smith and Ricardo created the the latter and Marx the former?

    These questions and arguments are deadends. First principles provide much clearer path because they address not only human nature but life itself and a universal underpinning.

    I’m aware of the allure of the word “socialism”. It seems to be an answer to hedonism and predatory capitalism. But so much of what the word stands for is like saying socialism is good and capitalism is bad. That is unproductive and lazy (in my opinion) thinking.

  26. Melissa said on July 18th, 2009 at 9:02am #

    Astute, Max! Thank you.

    Peace,
    Melissa

  27. bozh said on July 18th, 2009 at 9:58am #

    to me, and for my feelings, the words “capitalism” and “socialism” are overgeneralized labels and almost meaningless.
    [re]defining of the two labels never end for any individual.

    however, once one alights on decriptive level; or on level what capitalism and socialism do, conversation will end and with, hopefully/probably, no accrimony or anger.

    in socialism everybody gets bread. This cannot be further explained or [re]defined. Conversatioin ends; with or without agreement.
    this observation is also valid ab. not joining an army that aggresses; having roof over one’s head, heatlhcare, right to be informed, free higher eduction.
    one can say to all these ‘rights and wrongs’ yes or no!? OK, maybe may be ok!
    contrast all these needs/wants with the ” everybody has the right to pursue happiness…” and i am much stupefied; to the point that i drop the subject like hot potato.
    it being thoroughly meaningless; probably coined that way intentionally. TNX

  28. lichen said on July 18th, 2009 at 2:30pm #

    What we do know is that in societies that have come to the closest to socialism/communism, the vast majority of people were still interested in doing things, interacting with society, growing things, making things… So I don’t think we should give too much credence to right wing claim that if everyone was guaranteed their full human rights, safety, kindness, and survival, that it would mean nothing would happen. I don’t care for par-econ that much myself, but that isn’t a big deal as it isn’t the end-all model that everyone needs to follow; individual cooperatives (living, farming, working) can be based on direct democracy, equality, and respect for all but still have their own guidelines, models, inspirations.

    Of course, we have to be realistic about the global environment we are coming into when talking about socialism as well; it can’t be a case where only humans get an equal piece of the jackfruit without including the earth, the oceans, trees, other animal species, whose work is made more onerous, difficult, and deadly by fossil/nuclear-fueled machinery. But, again, instead of using wasteful water-toilets that need to be cleaned with poisonous chemicals, we can have outhouses and green composting toilets, that don’t need so much cleaning.

  29. Max Shields said on July 19th, 2009 at 9:49am #

    We talk about capitalism as if the propaganda actually took: the US is a capitalistic nation. I find myself in the uncomfortable position of sounding like an apologist for capitalism. I’m not apologizing for capitalism but I am against false alternatives when the fundamental problems are not being treated.

    Sharing “bread”, as bozh distills the notion of socialism is an oversimplification since getting there requires understanding how we got where we are. There are at least three important stands to this problem – political, economic, and social/culture. These three interact with one another, blending and almost forming a indistinguisable whole feeding on each other in ways that are frequently pathological.

    Corporate jobs are general make work, drudgery that are largely created to build internal empires, and readily reduced with corporate bottomline down turns. That’s not meaningful “work”. Let’s just be clear what we’re talking about.

    No doubt the social aspects are the weakest controlled by the influence of power (political) and wealth (economic). The economic strand outpaces with it’s marketing and technological breakthroughs. The latter has made industrialism and corportism the powerhouse shutting out social justice which never gets real political traction other than equivocating lipservice.

    These are fundamental problems that will not be “overturned” regardless of what the state uses for its labeling preference. To overcome this the problem must be dealt with head on, to not only balance the scale of these 3 strands, but to make the social justice strand the leading component.

    Simple answers (requiring work on the part of people) is promote local independently owned community businesses, think BALLE (business alliance for local living economies) that reduces the corporate preditory economic sucking machine, and building community through asset mapping that builds community self-sufficency and strengthening the health and well-being of communities. Mixed in with both community owned businesses and workers’ cooperatives along with living local living wages and sustainable locales, change can occur.

    The old Marxist/Leninist paradigm, like the old modern industrial state are bankrupt.

  30. bozh said on July 19th, 2009 at 12:21pm #

    max, with respect,
    i said that in socialism everybody gets bread. This, as far as i know, does not need further explaning. You chose to call the undefinable “everbody receives bread” [or bed, free higher education, healthcare] “oversimplification”.
    what does oversimplification mean to you? I think that the statement in question may be regarded as a basic human right.
    And as it is coined, it is expressed with economy of words. Furthermore, not a single word in that basic human right appears to be redundant nor does it need even one more word in order to elucidate it, since the statement is already lucid [to me].
    let me ask you, please, how wld you render [to you] the oversimplification “simple” without the loss of meaning?

    however, i have noted that you often talk ab. socialism but seldom if ever ab. basic human rights.
    i, on the other hand, often put dwn the basic human rights; while avoiding like a plague to [re]define socialism, capitalism, fascism, etc.

    i don’t want to get mired i explaining what any ism “is”; i am largely interested in what any ism or ideology does.
    you are probably avoiding to talk ab. what socialism does because some of the basic human right clash whit your local movement’s ideology.
    and no ideology gladhands another. In fact, the three major ‘religions’ have been locked in hatred warfare, intolerance, angst, fear for centuries and are destined to be locked in that state forever or until they also begin to pay attention to what they do and the hell with what islam and other cults “are” .
    max, i think you can’t stand my idelogy. I don’t understand your idelogy as yet because you always leave details out. So i can’t hate it, yet; but i might yet. tnx

  31. B99 said on July 19th, 2009 at 2:00pm #

    deadbeat – While I don’t think we can say capitalism started with the enclosures, or with any specific event – it is safe to say that the enclosures were part of the process of capital development. Over the decades, many thousands of English/Scottish/Welsh people – essentially a peasant class – were removed from their common lands by the enclosures. As there was no longer sufficient livelihood to be made in the countryside, they flocked to the cities to wo/man the factories springing up. Thus there was a massive transfer of labor from peasant to prole, from the country to the city, and from relative self-sufficiency to wage labor for the capitalist.

    With the emptying out of the countryside, it returned to a pastoral state often depicted by English painters – a lovely rural pastoral scene devoid of people.

  32. lichen said on July 19th, 2009 at 3:25pm #

    I agree bozh; a discussion of human rights is essential to this all, in a sense regardless of the model or system elected. I would say, further, that under socialism land should be equitably distributed so that everyone can have their own fruit trees and large vegetable garden.

    I also think that hand and hand with socialism should be the one child per female policy, which can shrink our population back down to 1.6 billion by 2100, thus allowing the earth time to regenerate and heal, and ensuring that there are much more resources available to share sustainably, equally amongst us.

  33. bozh said on July 19th, 2009 at 3:58pm #

    lichen, thanks,
    yes, to what u say. It’s just common sense and, as u say, under any system of governance.

  34. B99 said on July 19th, 2009 at 4:24pm #

    I think one child per family laws are regressive (to say the least) – and amounts to a subtraction from human rights. Probably the best way to curtail population growth is through education of women – and their full integration into the paid labor force at fully-equal salaries. Middle class families today find the cost of raising several children is not worth the loss of income by one parent (almost always the mother) staying home to raise the child. So they have less than 2 children per family. Every where in the world birthrates have come down – especially in areas where women’s options are increasing. So much more can be done in this regard.

  35. lichen said on July 19th, 2009 at 6:12pm #

    I said hand in hand with socialism–which would mean everyone was equal in decisions and workplaces anyway, so it is ridiculous to claim that the laws could be replaced by economically developing “women” while leaving many of the opposite sex to starve in homelessness. And actually, no, the population is currently increasing at a rapid rate, not decreasing. There is currently no international law about one child per female, so we cannot say that the way the law is enforced or acted out is somehow “regressive,” as it can be done many ways, and is certainly the most efficient, kind, humane way of decreasing our population and solving many of the human and environmental problems currently faced.

  36. B99 said on July 19th, 2009 at 7:01pm #

    Lichen – A socialist society will not be achieved overnight – it requires preparation in the here and now. And that means improving the condition of women around the world. But it has nothing to do with letting men starve.

    Yes, the population is increasing greatly but that is because it already has a large base of nearly 6.8 billion. However, birthrates are decreasing worldwide. They will have to decrease considerably further for the change to have a serious effect on the human burden to the ecosystem.

    China has had a one child per family policy for a long time. One of the results of this policy is the abortion of female fetuses and even infanticide of females. That’s not a route that anyone believing in human rights would want to take.

  37. Max Shields said on July 19th, 2009 at 7:21pm #

    The problem, as you imply, B99, is that the population has reached a tipping point of expotential growth and it may not be possible to stop further growth, which most see as inceasing to 10 billion or so within a decade or two, without a massive natural upheaval.

    But this notion of socialism has no particulars to it. It’s a fairy tale story of contrariness – “Anything But Capitalism” aka Socialism. It’s a way of avoiding the problem and real actions toward real solutions NOW.

    When the good fairy arrives one day with Socialism we’ll all go to bed with bread…right bozh?

  38. lichen said on July 19th, 2009 at 8:40pm #

    Yes, and as I just said, the China policy was not what I was talking about, but an international policy as that proposed by the UN which would take us back down to 1.6 billion by 2100. And yes, implementing economic programs that only help a small section of a certain part of a society is the opposite of what I put forth as socialism, and I don’t agree that the male sections of the developing world have a good position, have their rights to their bodies, their lives, and economic democracy; so I don’t agree that it is just the position of women worldwide that needs to be improved.

  39. B99 said on July 20th, 2009 at 6:46am #

    Lichen – I don’t know how a global governing body decrees one child per woman (and as bearing children is a woman’s job, we should be forgiven for focusing on them in this regard) and it not be considered reactionary. The right to control over the reproductive process is fundamental to human rights.

    Women are not a small section of society, they are more than half (except in those South Asian countries where women are held in virtual contempt) the world. Now maybe you can legislate gender neutral policies AFTER socialism arrives, (let’s pretend) but right now, the literacy rate for women around the world is woeful. And without literacy, few women have any semblance of control over their lives – never mind take leadership positions in the ‘socialist revolution. ‘

    Whatever is coming down the pike, people’s positions have to be improved in the present.

  40. lichen said on July 20th, 2009 at 2:36pm #

    Fundamental to human rights should also be a liveable planet, which is not possible with massive overpopulation; fundamental to human rights should be the superior resources, care, and time given to only children; fundamental to human rights should be clean air, clean water, and a planet that is not constantly warming; fundamental to human rights should be an environment that easily accomodates them without shortage and starvation. So no, your outdated 70′s style politics, completely leaving out true human rights and most of all the rights of the other plant and animal species is ridiculous, and clearly your talk of ‘leadership in the socialist revolution’ shows that you are even more of a cartoonized version. Thankfully, many people like myself want to improve the lives of all humans on the planet, not only half.

  41. B99 said on July 20th, 2009 at 3:44pm #

    Lichen – Since Americans are 4.5% of the world’s population and consume many multiples of that of the world’s resources it would seem that limiting Americans (and a number of other consumption economies) to zero children would be a better solution. Keep that in mind for yourself.

    Actually, the more effective method is for women to decide for themselves if and when to have children. And to make unintended childbirth as rare as possible. The benefits of this will reach all. What the evidence suggests is that women want not more children but more assurance they can raise fewer children to healthy adulthood. With proper attention to women’s health, education, and prospects, they will collectively control population while acting on their own intentions. Family planning services must be safe, inexpensive, and available to all who seek them.

    I’m not sure what you mean by a livable planet – it is already unlivable for the several billion who exist on less than a dollar a day. And as far as global climate change goes – that’s a done deal. While every effort should be made to mitigate it, I think we all have to admit that it’s too late to reverse what’s long in motion. That’s your capitalism at work.

    Rather than the 1970s, my politics on this more likely date to 1994 when the UN (the same UN you refer to) rejected population control in favor of the approach I mention above – that of reproductive liberty. I’m not sure what year your politics dates to, but I can name a few places it originates in – Ceaucescu’s Romania, present-day China, and maybe the Taliban’s Afghanistan.

    I’m more inclined to save entire ecosystems than the individual species tack you prefer but if you want to put pigeons and squirrels before women – hey, good luck with that!

  42. lichen said on July 20th, 2009 at 5:26pm #

    No, you are more inclined to support a false “right” for child-abusing women to destroy the entire planet if they choose to. No human has a right to overconsume the forests into non-existance – which is what the local people, not the US, often do. The earth has a right to exist, other species of plants and animals have a right to exist; unlimited humans do NOT. And since the progressive, sane, humane, kind one child per female only policy will make a more beautiful planet, it is the best, as opposed to giving in to the reactionary, weak prejudices of idiots like you.

  43. B99 said on July 20th, 2009 at 7:06pm #

    “child abusing women”?? Sounds like you got a bad case of misogyny. I think I prefer the Earth-mother types who believe that woman hold up half (at least) the sky. Seems you’ve got a chip on your shoulder about your mom that might require some professional attention.

    Rights on earth are what humans make them. There are no lichens – real lichens – on this website or any other proclaiming their rights. So if you want to speak for the lichens and fungus – then by all means. But don’t pretend they’ve exercised that right – that’s a human construction you’ve availed yourself of.

    Can’t say the US does not cut down forests – vast swaths of forest across the globe have been cut down to feed the capitalist machine that views everything as a consumer item – or a waste item. Just remember, if you want to save the planet – start by not consuming computer equipment – it’s nasty for the environment.

    Your policy of tube-tying women or sending them off to prison camp for bearing a second child is ghastly – and I don’t imagine you’ll be finding many followers outside of the Aryan Nation. And they’ll all be guys – from failed relationships.

    But really – you’ve got to rethink the notion that other life has rights other than what humans bestow upon them. I mean, who are you kidding here on the ethernet? Talk about dating yourself – that’s so 1970s. Deep ecology? More like Deep Shit.

  44. Melissa said on July 21st, 2009 at 7:12am #

    Beware of people who would cry out for more laws foisted upon others’ bodies -for their own good of course.

    I have to say that when people and society are ready to own women’s uterus again, we are in big trouble. On principle how is lichen’s proposal to own women any different than the “right wing reactionaries” lichen feels compelled to include in nearly every post?

    Is liberal fascism the way to go? Really?

    How about a public campaign to encourage the very sincere among us to off themselves -for their, and others’ own good, of course. That could really help things too, huh? And it could be their own choice, rather than a mandate from some angry and reactionary people who always claim to know what is best for everyone else. Lead by example, please.

    Melissa

  45. bozh said on July 21st, 2009 at 8:07am #

    max,
    one can talk ab. socialism or one can talk ab. bread, etc. By solely talking ab. socialism, one can, in perpetuum, avoid mentioning bread, bed, education.
    i have said this even tho i do not understand what message were u sendng me by your baiting?
    were u making a complexity out of a simplicity? A common subterfuge of the clero-political ‘elite’ and the MSM ?
    having daily bread/bed is a simple saying! What do u think ab. that utterance?

  46. Melissa said on July 21st, 2009 at 8:44am #

    I like your take on it, bozh. It is more to the point to mention those universal human needs. I hope it catches on!

    Peace,
    Melissa

  47. bozh said on July 21st, 2009 at 10:11am #

    melissa, thanks from me and from ab. 4bn people.
    even jesus told his followers to pray for daily bread; however, not for education, right to know what is going on, bed, access to a physician,

    it is almost utterly useless to talk ab. capitalism, fascism, democracy, socialism or any ideology, including ‘religions’, and never enumerate what these do or promise/suggest to do.
    and especially talking to young people who have been indocrinated. Young people seem to reify isms; i. e., evaluating them as objects.
    And kids/adults, seems to me, can only learn from what they see, hear, taste, feel, and smell.
    one can’t smell, etc., democracy; thus children are bored to death if they wld listen to anyone’s ‘explanation’ of any ideology, including pious ones.
    tnx

  48. B99 said on July 21st, 2009 at 12:38pm #

    Saw a bumper sticker the other day. It said: “Keep your laws out of my uterus” The eco-authoritarians can’t wait to punish motherhood for the sake of mother earth.

    Bozh – The Christ story of multiplying loaves of bread and fish is apocryphal – or to be more precise – fiction.

    We cannot all make the bread we need, so we likely have to buy it from a professional who does so. That raises questions regarding who is it we are buying from – after all, who wants to purchase goods from an ogre? In turn, that raises issues of social systems, labor, ownership, etc. – as we are, after all, a society. And we do want to organize our society ourselves, no? Rather than have it organized for us – I would think.

  49. Sean O'Neil said on July 21st, 2009 at 2:08pm #

    FreeRad said –

    “Government legislated the 40 hour work week not businesses.”

    Uh, NOPE.

    The 40-hour week was not legislated as mandatory. It was done as a part of setting minimum wage, not the length of the work week. It was done as a point of determining where minimum wage was no longer the minimum — once past 40 hours.

    This doesn’t mean the Congress said 40 hours is what everyone must work.

    Nobody has to work any more than they want to. People freely chose to be drones and wage slaves. The question is, why? Is it because they can’t imagine having responsibility for themselves, and must subjugate themselves to an employer for at least 40 hours each week?

    I am living proof that the 40-hour week is not mandatory. I have not worked in a 40-hour, M-F 9-5 setting since June 2003. I don’t have anyone requiring me to work 40 hours. Nobody checks up on my hourly work.

    One of the worst things Americans do is imagine their guesses and assumptions and “common wisdom” are accurate, factual and correct. FreeRad seems to think that he’s correct in his conclusion about the 40-hour week being “mandated” by the Congress. I’d want to know why he would assume he’s correct.

  50. Sean O'Neil said on July 21st, 2009 at 2:11pm #

    B99 said–

    “But really – you’ve got to rethink the notion that other life has rights other than what humans bestow upon them.”

    You have some proof that humans are the ultimate arbiters of what is a “right”?

    You going to prove to me that you know precisely how the mind of an animal works? How an insect thinks? How a plant knows which way to grow?

    You must be a deity, with all your omniscience.

  51. bozh said on July 21st, 2009 at 2:33pm #

    b99,
    you haven’t carefully read my post. Or your deliberately misevalauting what i say or mean. I did not say that jesus fed a multitude from just a few loaves of bread.

    i am toying with the idea not to chat with you any longer because you are becoming disingenuous.
    i think you are deliberately misunderstanding my posts. In addition, when i further explain what i mean in order to correct your probable misunderstanding, you do not acknowledge nor answer to my elucidations.

  52. lichen said on July 21st, 2009 at 3:19pm #

    Thank you, B99, for displaying yourself openly as not giving a damn about humanity or the rest of the world, not grasping the real environmental reality we face; trying to pretend that your not caring about the survival or wellbeing of the human, animal, or plant population because of some ridiculous “women’s rights” notion was a stupid facade. One-child policy affects both sexes equally, and is a really good thing. Humans have to make sacrifices to survive, and to continue on as a species on a planet that doesn’t look like venus; case closed, goodbye.

  53. lichen said on July 21st, 2009 at 3:27pm #

    World population in 1994: 5.6 billion; world population today; 6.7 billion. I guess the UN should really revisit population control, which can be reached through a wide variety of ways; not all repressive, but all direct, all enforced.

  54. lichen said on July 21st, 2009 at 4:11pm #

    If we don’t voluntarily reduce our population through the simplest way, having less children, it seems the future will probably involve vicious resource wars; with a substantially greater population (4 billion+ more people than now) and decreasing arable land, usable water, and food, rising ocean levels, there will be massive resource wars, in which many will die horrible deaths, others will starve, drown, be poisoned and linger on in terribly bad health. But oh yes, you just had to have more than one child; because that boy/girl wasn’t good enough for you, wasn’t enough, wasn’t sufficiently interesting to keep your attention.

  55. B99 said on July 21st, 2009 at 4:25pm #

    Bozh – Let’s understand this – you write in code. Abbreviations,apostrophes galore, missing letters, deliberate obfuscation of the subject matter, renaming long-accepted pronouns to something no one recognizes and NO ONE is going to adopt, false humility (the last in class thing)…. And then there’s the post where I’m addressing no one in particular, and you think its about you.

    Whatever the bread episode was, the point was likely lost on most people, so they moved on. When you make sense, whether I agree or disagree, I respond if I have the time and inclination. Don’t forget, we readers are all anonymous here, there’s nothing personal about it.

    I have to commend you on the last post though – it was in standard English and to the point.

  56. B99 said on July 21st, 2009 at 6:42pm #

    Lichen – One child policy does NOT effect both sexes equally, if the preferred child is male – as it is in China. I know that’s OK with you because you see women as child-abusers that need to be punished (perhaps by not being born).

    I’m not sure what kind of planet you wish to see, but if it means totalitarian control of women’s reproductive processes, that’s hardly consonant with human rights. You are likely the lone contributor here whose dissent consists of decrying reproductive rights as ‘ridiculous. I think you identify with plants and animals a bit too closely – let’s face it, humans can be good stewards or bad stewards, but we can’t pretend to be one with the non-human world – at least as long as we participate freely and enthusiastically with the very instruments that diminish that world – which is what you are doing.

    So what we are presented with is global capitalism. Capitalists always need to expand the market to maintain the rate of profit so that means the effort to produce and to consume will continue to grow exponentially. Right now, most of the world consumes at a far smaller rate than you, Lichen, do. But the effort everywhere is to bring standards of living up to that which Lichen enjoys. With an expected 9 billion people on the planet by 2050, even a global average lifestyle such as found in South Africa (its mean standard, at any rate), is unsustainable. So acting on both population and consumption consistently and simultaneously is the key to long-term sustainability. This necessarily means the end of capitalism (even if Bozh does not want to talk about that). So population growth must be brought down. If it is brought down in the manner you advocate, then the future is bleak – we can hardly expect a society which control’s a woman’s uterus to be concerned with human rights in other ways.

    Nonetheless, fertility rates are declining around the world – and have been for some time. In fact, we would have plenty more people on earth right now had they not declined. Demographers have had to lower their population estimates.

    We don’t have to wait for the future for ‘vicious resource wars.’ Vicious resource wars are occurring even as we speak – Darfur for example. Yet, we in the first world have managed to scrape by. The wars and the ‘natural’ catastrophes will be coming ever closer with each passing year.

    Children are not about keeping ones attention – they are the next generation – life is hopeless without a next generation – and remember, if there are not enough people on the planet, there will be no one to pick up after you. In the final analysis, the best thing one can do if one believes in a coercive reduction in population is to off oneself and get some compadres to join in.

  57. siamdave said on July 21st, 2009 at 9:41pm #

    As Atlas Shrugged was ‘the bible’ for the capitalist ascension of the 50s onward, so Green Island is becoming the comparable book for the modern revolt against the capitalist excesses, the drive for a truly social democracy. Green Island http://www.rudemacedon.ca/greenisland.html .