Tuesday, July 5, 2011


It has taken me a long time to understand that we live in a society that is fundamentally undemocratic. Perhaps I have had my head buried in the sand. Perhaps I have wanted to believe that things were more democratic than they are. But with every passing day, it becomes more and more evident that the world is run by the rich and powerful, for the rich and powerful. Man works for the economy, rather than the economy working for man. Those in power would have us believe that this is the intrinsic nature of the world, that things have to run in this manner. In fact, the system is created by men and runs by design, rather than by default.

The system to which I refer is the Capitalist System. Some people profit from Capitalism, and the majority lose. There is no arguing that this is the way the system is designed. In any transaction, there is profit, and a consequent loss. In Capitalism, every transaction has this profit and loss built in. Capitalism is designed to pass all the losses to the people at the bottom of the social scale, and to pass all the profits to the people at the top end of the scale. Consider any loan. You borrow money, and have to pay it back with interest. The interest paid is a loss to the borrower, and a gain to the person making the loan. It is, in effect, something for nothing.
Consider any stock transaction. How does one make a profit on such a transaction? One sells the stock when the price goes up. The person who buys the stock after the price goes up has taken the loss, and the seller has gained the profit. Likewise, if you sell when the price goes down, you take the loss and the buyer has the profit. Think of any transaction, and you will come to see that they all are designed to make a profit, but there has to be a corresponding loss. Capitalism is, in fact, like poker. There are only 1 0r 2 winners at a table of 10. The winners keep taking chips out of the game, and the losers either drop out, or have to borrow more to keep playing. The American Dream says anyone can be a winner. The patent absurdity of this, is that the system has losers built into it. Not everyone can be a winner. There have to be losers, and right now that means about 99% of us.

In the interval of time since I started this post (unfortunately, months) it is clear that that there is a real awakening in the public as a whole. The Occupy Wall Street movement has emerged, perhaps in response to the Arab Spring. There seems to be a realization that the masses are being subjugated by a tiny minority. The real problem is wealth and income inequality. This is built in to the Capitalist System, so under Capitalism there will always be this kind of problem. No one has a proposal for a different economic model that would solve these inequalities, so we are left with a mass movement with no focus except that there should be a more fair and equitable division of global resources, the pie. In previous times, this kind of inequality almost always led to violent conflict between those in power, and those without. One can recall that the French Revolution was a revolt by the general populace against the rich aristocrats of the day. One wonders if we can have a solution to our own wealth inequality through more peaceful means, or whether things will degenerate into a violent groundswell of anti-capitalist fervor.

I am of the opinion that the former would be preferable. Being a great fan of Ghandi, I understand that his methods of peaceful resistance were very effective at bringing the British Empire to heel in terms of its control over India. The 99% need to study Ghandi's methods. In a global sense, his advocation of peaceful resistance is preferable to violence. At the practical level, his approach has great strength, and can help confound those in opposition.

Large numbers of the 99% are gathering to protest the status quo. The 99% are those who actually do the work, and produce the profits for the 1%. Therein lies their power. The withholding of their labour is what will grind things to a halt. When people are at rallies showing their displeasure, no work will be done. No work means no profits for the 1%. And at those rallies, there should be mass sit-downs, with no violence of course. Kettling individuals necessarily requires herding them into enclosures. It is harder to herd people who are sitting down. It is also more difficult to brutalize someone who is sitting peacefully, showing the other cheek. There will no doubt be injuries on the side of the protesters. The police will use significant force to try to subdue them. But eventually they will come to the understanding that they are simply tools of the 1%, and are actually themselves part of the 99%. Will they wish to beat their brothers, sisters, parents, and other family members into submission? Will they agree with their colleagues doing the same?

The 99% actually have the power. They simply need to learn to wield it effectively in order to produce the changes that they desire.

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