City Trees Pollinate Asphalt, Concrete!

Progressives Try to Reform Capitalism!

The lines of tall shade trees have been covering the sidewalk and street on my block with a beautiful yellow carpet of seed pouches. Colorful, I’m thinking, but in a curious way kind of sad too. These trees go on dropping their pollen, meant to germinate and implant offspring. The pollen falls on the impenetrable concrete of sidewalks and asphalt streets. Day after day they continue to flower down pollen as if fertile earth lay below.

Just as the trees are not capable of understanding that their energy and effort is unproductive, just so are Progressives incapable of understanding the uselessness of trying to implant human growth in a political economy based on, and controlled by and for, unyielding sterile private capital accumulation.

Just as that unyieldingly hard, life-ignoring concrete was originally made from breathing earth and sand made rigid by cement, just so were the impenetrable minds of hedge-fund managers, investment bankers, mega-dimension investors, their purchased politicians and their hired and beholden commercial conglomerate media personnel were once wonderful ordinary, normal children before being captivated, captured and lobotomized by expensively dressed desperate, insecure, greedy and mentally challenged conquerors. (A hundred years ago, America’s own Thorstein Veblen saw the modern business leader as essentially a latter-day predatory warrior — transformed, armed, and clothed in a fashion that enables him to dominate modern society.)

If trees had eyes, they could look down on their dying seedlings. Progressives “have eyes but cannot see” Afghanis, Iraqis, Somali, Yemeni physically dying, as uncountable as leaves on trees, cannot see the mentally challenged dying here, crushed by money worries and antisocial depression, the now billions dying spiritually for the commodification, commercialization and loss of life’s naturalness — all promoted by the human sacrifice and materialism embedded in the capitalist mode of production for profit, not use.

But Progressives can see clearly the wealth created by Americans working under management of America’s already wealthy. They can hear the admiration and praise from cooperative capitalist elite in nearly every nation on Earth.

Just as we can have a modicum of hope for the pollen where the earth appears between cracks and buckling in the concrete, progressives point to social reforms within the normally unrelentingly cruel wage labor system, reforms that grant human beings some bare necessities, and force a recognition beyond that of their usefulness as hired labor.

However, just as those cracks and buckles in the street and sidewalk are constantly worked on to close up and seal, capitalist governance seeks to roll back Social Security, Unemployment Benefits, Set Wage Minimums.

The reforms were necessary to concede for the threat of revolution during the Great (capitalist) Depression. A corresponding example is power elite granting the construction of parks and nature reserves to protect themselves from revolt and punishment by powerful Mother Nature, which provides the needed fresh air to breathe for the owners of society as well as those that labor for them.

This begrudging and self-protecting relenting to give their natural resources a chance to survive, gave the insane planetary plunderers a literal “breather” before going on to cement over more than ever before with cataclysmic foreshadowing. Just so, the social reforms of the thirties saved American capitalism to enable it to create inexpressible horror for humanity.

On to the super tremendous profits from WWII, that raised the U.S. capitalist leadership high above those of all the other capitalist economies, wrecked by the mother of all profitable wars with a Nazi Germany built up to be the world dominant military power of the day by U.S. financiers and the industrial and investment banks led by Henry Ford, Dupont, Rockefeller and the cream of the scions of American business families.

If the sidewalk trees could think, they might rationalize that the natural release of pollen is not controllable and is necessary for the trees’ health. Progressives don’t have such an excuse for continuing with their impossible task, but cannot imagine doing otherwise, being at root base Capitalism’s rearguard. Progressives pose as Leftists intellectuals championing a capitalism progressively less homicidal as a model for the increasingly politically aware citizenry to work toward.

Progressives decry imperialism’s past crimes as well intentioned mistakes. Mistakes like approving Japan’s claim to Korea; like investing heavily in Hitler; like bringing the French colonial armed forces back in to Vietnam; like overthrowing a few dozen governments seeking independence from U.S. corporate exploitation; like invading too many countries at the same time; like giving mogul bankers most of the nation’s current wealth.

Progressives condemn these mistakes, the present wars, and the war games preparing for future wars, but shy away from revolutionary socialism and associating with the communists who have consistently led a real fight against imperialist wars.

There is not a world renown philosopher, writer, poet, composer, artist, clergyman, scientist or inventor, who has had a good word for capitalism. And to find those who have been dedicated to condemning it, one need not look to the likes of Albert Einstein, Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr., or Peoples’ Historian Howard Zinn. No, just quote one of a number of capitalism’s most famous luminaries in their candid moments:

“Capitalism is the astounding belief that the most wickedest of men will do the most wickedest of things for the greatest good of everyone.” John Maynard Keynes — the economist credited with solving the dilemma of how to keep capitalism going when the stimulus of WW II was gone — also predicted:

When the accumulation of wealth is no longer of high social importance, there will be great changes in the code of morals. We shall be able to rid ourselves of many of the pseudo-moral principles which have hag-ridden us for two hundred years, by which we have exalted some of the most distasteful of human qualities into the position of the highest virtues. We shall be able to afford to dare to assess the money-motive at its true value. The love of money as a possession — as distinguished from the love of money as a means to the enjoyments and realities of life — will be recognized for what it is, a somewhat disgusting morbidity, one of those semi-criminal, semi-pathological propensities which one hands over with a shudder to the specialists in mental disease …

Which sounds like something Che Guevara said, but then Keynes astounds us with a mysterious justification for the continuance of what he has just described as criminal insanity:

But beware! The time for all this is not yet. For at least another hundred years we must pretend to ourselves and to everyone that fair is foul and foul is fair; for foul is useful and fair is not. Avarice and usury and precaution must be our gods for a little longer still. For only they can lead us out of the tunnel of economic necessity into daylight.

So, as if Einstein, Gandhi, MLKjr and Zinn were as irrelevant as corporate controlled U.S. media has made them, Progressives (Progressive Capitalists), go on trying to reform a system of exploitation of the many by the few. (Which reminds me of trees in the middle of a city pollinating onto concrete.)

Jay Janson, spent eight years as Assistant Conductor of the Vietnam Symphony Orchestra in Hanoi and also toured, including with Dan Tai-son, who practiced in a Hanoi bomb shelter. The orchestra was founded by Ho Chi Minh,and it plays most of its concerts in the Opera House, a diminutive copy of the Paris Opera. In 1945, our ally Ho, from a balcony overlooking the large square and flanked by an American Major and a British Colonel, declared Vietnam independent. Everyone in the orchestra lost family, "killed by the Americans" they would mention simply, with Buddhist un-accusing acceptance. Jay can be reached at: Read other articles by Jay.

4 comments on this article so far ...

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  1. teafoe2 said on July 26th, 2010 at 2:45pm #

    jesus this is good reading. right on, hearty applause!

  2. lichen said on July 26th, 2010 at 3:59pm #

    Yes, the sidewalks should be ripped out and the cities turned into green places without cars. Otherwise, yes, problems can be solved directly, a set of specific policies can be advocated, without having to move through the abstract, meaningless, undoable, incomprehensible filter of “ending capitalism.”

  3. Summer said on July 26th, 2010 at 8:21pm #

    Thank you for this. I share your frustration. The fight for liberation has to be connected to a movement towards democratic and ecological socialism.

  4. Don Hawkins said on July 28th, 2010 at 7:35pm #

    A comment from the Guardian article

    28 Jul 2010, 7:16PM

    Having lived in the United States for a few years (at least during the school year), I can attest to the fact that a majority of the American public are not swayed by scientific evidence of anything.

    A majority of the citizens of the USA don’t ascribe to the theory of evolution, for example, and people who see visions of Jesus or Elvis manifested in peanut butter sandwiches (this is not an exaggeration) are not called kooks.

    According to a 2009 survey, only 39% of Americans accept Darwinian evolution:

    Even if President Obama could somehow summon the nerve to defy the very powerful oil multinational companies, he would be a professor lecturing to a scientifically ignorant public who are more worried about jobs and the present than the future. Besides, as more than one American has told me, “We are in the end times, anyway, so why worry about it?” Jesus is going to come during the Rapture and take the Elect to Heaven, you see.

    Let’s sum up:

    1. We have no chance of controlling global warming without the vigorous cooperation of the United States.
    2. The United States is not going to cooperate.
    3. The rest of the world would be better advised working out ways to adapt to the changed climate and investing its resources there, than wasting time lobbying the Americans and assailing them with facts and figures and studies. They’ve seen those facts and figures and scientific studies; they just don’t believe in them.

    If you want to laugh while we wander down the merry dead-end path of species extinction, have a look at this:

    It’s one of those ubiquitous American “preachers” or “ministers” arguing that his peanut butter disproves the fact of evolution. No, really. And the man is not committed to an asylum….