A Global Democratic and Socialist Political Economy
Charles A. Ostenle,
The Red Feather Institute
for Advanced Studies in Sociology
Part I: THE SPECTRE OF GLOBAL CAPITALISM.
A spectre is haunting the world; it is the spectre of Multi-national Capitalism. All the powers of Europe, America and Asia have entered into an unholy alliance to celebrate this spectre: Pope and President, King and Prime Minister, broker and banker conspire to impose this Spectre on the entire world economy.
This new globalization, scarcely 40 years old, is driven by the great positivities of capitalism. These positive achievements of transnational capitalism rolls over all previous economic systems before it and all previous versions of capitalism itself:
1. It provides the most productive economic system in all of human history and indeed it is; every where transnational capital goes stores, shops, warehouses, factories and granaries are filled to the seams with its largesse.
2. It provides the most innovative of any heretofore existing economic system and indeed it is; every day new ways to sell, new things to buy, new things to do and new ways to travel displace old ways and older things in the far reaches of the world.
3. It provides the greatest freedom yet known to the masses in South American barrios, in Asian villages, in African shambas and in feudal princedoms everywhere. While primitive communism imprisoned peoples in the daily search for food and lodging; while slavery imprisoned peoples in menial occupations; while caste systems imprisoned whole peoples at the bottom of social hierarchy and while European feudalism used club, fist, boot and rack to control serfs and peasants, capitalism freed all from such shackles.
4. It provides innovation and response to human need and, using the best of physics, chemistry, psychology and with the methods of scientific research, it invents new materials, new machines, new techniques and new markets daily.
5. It provides a knowledge process vastly superior to anything created in all the centuries of human history which preceded it and indeed it does produce scientists, engineers, technicians and theoreticians from those at the bottom of caste, race, gender and feudal societies around the world.
Modern Industry has converted the little workshop of the patriarchal master into the fragmented factories of transnational capital. Masses of firms, crowded into conglomerate branches around the world, are organized into regiments, divisions, armies and integrated battle groups to fight against labor unions, untamed politicians and outraged consumers.
As privates of this global army, each firm is placed under the command of a perfect hierarchy of officers, managers and masters. Not only are national firms slaves of transnational capital; they are daily and hourly enslaved by market demand, product innovation, advertizing campaigns and re-investment decisions oriented only to profit for anonymous stockholders; themselves living in protected enclaves on sunny isles far from the misery they have wrought.
The potentials of capitalism lure each new born child and each young adult and each desperate elder worker into a lottery in which each invests life, labor and sacred friendships; a lottery in which ever fewer transnational firms win ever greater shares of the wealth produced by this greatest of all productive machines; in which evermore subscribers to this goliath find themselves in utter degradation tempted into crime, into escapist religion or into deadly combat with both near and far competitors for the prizes offered by owners and their managers.
These potentials lure each new nation and each young country into a lottery in which nation becomes class enemy of the next; in which each people become ethnic enemy of their neighbor; in which each religion becomes an instrument of warfare urging young men and young women on to slaughter and an early death.
These potentials lure each new generation of politicians, priests and prophets into an effort to tame local intrusions of transnational capitalism and to harness them to more general needs of town and country only to see their friends and colleagues sell out and become partner, apologist and public crier for the rich and powerful who buy their voice, their honor and their soul.
These potentials lure each new cohort of workers in each new country it invades to eagerly grasp the chance for jobs and for wages with which to support family, kin and community at wages higher than ever before possible even while such wages are evermore lower than those achieved by workers struggles in more industrialized nations.
Part II. THE GLOBALIZATION PROCESS:
The need to escape the law of nations has driven private capital to seek law-free zones everywhere: labor law, tax law, environmental law, worker safety law, product safety law, equal rights law, monopoly law as well as consumer rights law have impelled globalization.
The need to transfer privatize costs has driven national capital to expand to global capital: costs of producing each new generation of workers are now transferred to families around the world; costs of educating each new generation of workers are transferred to governments around the world; costs of cleaning up toxic wastes dumped in air, land and water are transferred to nations around the world; costs of building roads, sewers, bridges and highways are transferred to taxpayers everywhere; costs of fighting wars to garner markets and raw materials are transferred to the bodies of soldiers and the pockets of taxpayers still unborn; costs of caring for those surplus to the profit needs of capital are transferred to families, friends, states, churches and charities of the world.
The need to invest surplus profits outside of the core capitalist countries in places not yet saturated with mills, factories, shops, stores, distributors and retailers send transnational capital to every village and town in every continent on the world. This need creates whole new industries in money management, investment counselling, stock market reportage, business news on cable, on the world wide web and in every newspaper in every village in the world. Investment capital goes everywhere, buys everything, markets everything to whomever has the cash to buy it.
The need of a constantly expanding market for its products chases the bourgeoisie over the entire surface of the globe. It must nestle everywhere, settle everywhere, establish connections everywhere.
The need to cut labor costs drives transnational capital to transform every peasant, every aboriginal, every nomad, every member of every tribe still surviving into workers paid a fraction of that of organized labor.
The need for a docile labor force has driven transnational capital away from countries where workers have gained some rights and benefits toward countries still controlled by feudal, religious or military elites. In such countries, weapons supplied by wealthy nations are turned against those workers who will not submit; toward those native tribes still loyal to their communal culture.
The transnational firm has, through its exploitation of the world market, given a cosmopolitan character to production and consumption in every country. MacDonald's, Arbys, Avis, and Visa establish outlets in Malaysia, Singapore, Istanbul, Entebbe, Budapest and Beijing. Young people around the world watch the same movies, sing the same songs, eat the same fast foods, wear the same jeans and tee-shirts while they abandon the art, music, drama and spiritualities of their ancestors.
Transnational capital has formidable weapons with which to wrought these changes.
Part III. The Weapons of Transnational Capital:
The weapons with which the bourgeoisie felled feudalism to the ground are now turned against domestic bourgeoisie itself by transnational bourgeois and by transnational firms which know neither national, racial, gender nor class loyalty. Free markets and intercontinental investment now doom ever more domestic bourgeoisie to downward social mobility and the disgrace of mere wages and salary.
The rapid improvement of all instruments of production, by the immensely facilitated means of communication, and by evermore clever advertisements draw all, even the most religious nations into the commodified culture of transnational capitalism. Even Islam cannot hold out against its advertizing artillery; its commercial canons; its academic mercenaries and its exploding malls.
Cheap prices of commodities are the heavy artillery with which it forces the intensely obstinate hatred of all opponents to capitulate to transnational capital. It compels all nations, on pain of extinction, to adopt transnational modes into their midst, i.e., to become bourgeois themselves. In one word, it creates a world after its own image. A world in which profit replaces people and in which stock market reports replace the Bible as Sunday reading.
International financial agencies; the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, the Agency for International Development, the various stock exchanges and other more local instruments force governments everywhere to open its doors to goods produced elsewhere; to expatriate profits to the banks of the world; to destroy programs of social justice which give power to workers, consumers or small business.
Changing military alliances, lead by the USA, force governments to give up their oil, minerals and agricultural lands to transnational capital. The US Air Force, the US Marines, the US Army and the US Central Intelligence Agency augmented by the National Security Agency monitor and engineer compliance to transnational capital and its needs. Britain, Canada, Japan and Israel are staunch supporters in US efforts to globalize the economy and to destroy opposition to transnational capital.
Established religions, self-blinded to the secularization, profanation and dehumanization of transnational capital, continue their blind opposition to democratic socialism as to the various socialism moving toward greater democracy. Fundamentalist Christians, Jews and Muslims, more concerned with their own limiting ideology, look past the indifferent tolerance of transnational capital to the concerned humanism of social democrats.
The fact is that capitalism is vastly superior to all the economic systems which preceded it in human history: primitive familialism, slavery, feudalism as well as the bureaucratic socialism which was instituted to replace it yet its potential for solving the ancient problems of hunger, poverty, disease and oppression is crippled by its slavish devotion to private ownership, private profits and private enjoyments of its bounty.
Peoples everywhere recognize the potentials of a globalized capitalism; better schools, better transport, better agriculture, better housing and better medical care yet critics everywhere recognize the dialectical nature of capitalism and are able to see the wretched refuse left by its operations strewn around the world.
Part IV: THE DIALECTICS OF GLOBALIZED CAPITALISM: Yet these great benefits from private ownership and from the free market system are not distributed equitably to all peoples on earth who work in it; who believe in it and who give their lives, their families and their sacred loyalties to it.
A: Its Effects on Work, Workers and Working: The bourgeoisie has stripped of its halo every occupation hitherto honored and looked up to with reverent awe. It has converted the physician, the lawyer, the priest, the poet, and the scientist into its paid wage laborers in every town, village and city around the world. Today it steals the physician, the engineer, the poet and the scientist from desperately poor nations and delivers them up to rich nations to work at the lowest rungs of private and public institutions.
1. Global Capitalism tends to disemploy peoples in the industrialized nations... and thus create a "surplus" population in the richest countries in the world while employing workers in the peripheral countries for wages and under conditions long since eradicated by labor struggles in Europe and North America.
2. Global Capitalism tends to degrade the work process even as ever more sophisticated productive processes are available. Work is divided and subdivided among different countries in order to increase control over the work process, to reduce the costs of labor power, and to defuse workers struggles where ever they break out.
3. Global Capitalism requires layer after layer of unproductive employees in order to reproduce itself the world around: Managers to deal with reluctant and uninspired workers, public relations to deal with a surly public, advertizing firms to generate false needs, lawyers to help evade the law, salespersons to push commodities and millions of security guards to watch workers, customers, and competitors and police to control those discarded by owners and by workers alike.
4. Global Capitalism pits workers in poor nations against workers in rich nations...workers who are then all too eager to see military force deployed against the poor country apart from who benefits and who suffers from the violence of high-tech warfare.
5. Global Capitalism demotes work and productive labor into a necessary evil preparatory to the buying and displaying of wealth.
6. Global Capitalism offers forms of work and kinds of jobs prohibited by religions since the beginning of time: sex jobs, war jobs, drug jobs and hate jobs become high paid, high status jobs in a market free from all moral constraints.
B. Its Effects on Religion and Moral Sensibility: National bourgeoisie had drowned out the most heavenly ecstacies of religious fervor, of chivalrous enthusiasm, of philistine sentimentalism, in the icy water of egotistical calculation. National bourgeoisie had miniaturized and neutralized protestantism at home reducing dramas of the Holy to a few minutes a week while redirecting the sanctification process to market commodities on Christmas and other holy days. National bourgeoisie had tamed Catholicism and had used it to pacify the masses who were taught to dream of a better life in make-believe heavens while it threatened radicals with make-believe hells.
Transnational capital has converted Catholicism to its pit bull dog in the attack on socialism and the Soviet Bloc. John-Paul II continues to act as holy father to transnational capital in Cuba, Nicaragua, the Phillipines or anywhere else liberation theology promises to burst asunder the bonds of religious repression. The fierce attack on religious sensibility, brotherhood and sisterhood continues apace in a globalized political economy.
1. Global Capitalism tends to destroy moral relations between workers, between nations, between religions and whole regions by forcing them to compete with each other, with other companies, and with other ethnic groups in other countries.
2. Global Morality is threatened when global capitalism trains its employees to prey on the consumer by offering commissions, prizes, bonuses, vacations, medals, and promotions for sales apart from the real needs of children, the aged, the infirm and those discarded by an amoral global economy.
3. Global Capitalism tends to destroy personal morality by replacing values, ethics, religious teachings and personal loyalties of families, peoples and countries with rules, orders, commands, policies, therapy, and police. The self system becomes archaic as the locus of social action as ethnic diversity is endangered, as religious sensibility is pushed into the tiniest possible social space, as human will and human desire are vested routines of office, shop, factory and bureau.
4. Multi-national corporations destroy morality in its bureaucracies by requiring a lower level worker enact the orders of a middle echelon functionaries set by policy made by top level officer in countries far removed from the effects of these policies. The dirty work of bureaucracy is always two or three levels removed from its victims; always two or three continents away from the victims; always two or three class above the victims of these policies.
5. Global Capitalism subverts morality when it uses the sacred days to create possessive individualism. Christmas, Hannukka, Ramadan and other holy days become vehicles for corporate ads.
6. Global Capitalism everywhere displaces religious sensibility with privatized possessivity; human desire is shifted from community and mutual aid to a privatized struggle for existence.
7. Globalized Capitalism everywhere destroys indigenous religions with those religions more accommodating to the concentration of wealth and the stratification of peoples.
8. Global Capitalism tends to destroy morality by pushing consumerism as the central test of the good life rather than praxis, cooperation, conservation, or future generations.
C. Its effects on Reason and Rationality: Capitalism generally tends to substitute Reason oriented to human purpose with Rationality oriented to private profit.
1. Global Capitalism is an irrational system of production in that its goals are growth, profit and mindless use of 'natural capital' rather than the needs of individuals, communities or integrity of the environment.
2. Global Capitalism is irrational in that it tends to over-concentrate in high profit lines of production and neglect low profit but essential goods and services of the community and nation.
3. Global Capitalism is irrational in that its concern with growth wastes precious raw materials, uses energy resources heedlessly, and creates mountains and canyons of trash.
4. In the effort to avoid costs, global capitalism pollutes the air, the water, and the soil of poor countries while protecting the land, air and water in those countries where wealth and ownership are concentrated.
5. National Capitalism despoils the land in developed nations; scarring it with strip mines, patching it with asphalt, saturating it with chemicals, and covering it with tract housing. Armed only with the thin rationality of profit and growth, global capitalism promises to do the same in poor countries.
D. Its effects on Wealth, Food and third world Populations. While promising abundance of the material necessities of life, the larger truth is that both national and global capitalism supports a very poor means of distribution.
1. Global Capitalism gets its highest profits from the poorest nations in the world...and moves the profits to the richest 10% of the richest countries in the world.
2. Global Capitalism exports food from the hungriest nations in the world and imports it to the fattest.
3. Global Capitalism subverts the political process in the third world countries in order to maintain the flow of profits, raw materials, from those countries.
4. Global Capitalism encourages the migration of skilled professional trained at the expense of workers in the third world to the wealthiest countries in the world while rich nations erect an iron fence to prevent the migration of those who would follow the food, the wealth, and the profits exported from the Third World to those rich capitalist countries.
5. Global Capitalism transfers the costs of production from rich countries to poor countries. With profits from poor countries, state welfare provides marginal existence for newly disemployed as well as previously marginalized populations in developed countries.
The Effects on Crime: In its scarce 200 years of hegemony, the national bourgeoisie have replaced ancient norms of sharing and caring with formal laws which privatize the individual while it uses the state to protect the property and person of the rich while repressing workers and critics.
National bourgeoisie have invented the concept of the prison and has used public monies to imprison those whom it has discarded and those who refuse to respect a system which funnels wealth to the rich and death to the poor.
National bourgeoisie have, for the first time in all of human history, created an underclass of those who cannot work since they do not provide profit for the same bourgeoisie. In such societies, all kinds of crime proliferate.
1. Street crime increases in rich capitalist countries as people are separated from the means of production at the same time they are socialized to false needs by an evermore skillful advertizing industry.
2. Corporate crime increases as profits decline for small business and as foreign competition increases for big business
3. Organized crime increases as human misery and distorted sexuality drives more and more people into the streets for drugs, sex and danger.
Solidarity supplies become mere commodities produced for individual escape rather than used, as is has been the case in most of human history, as sacred supplies to celebrate cherished social relations.
4. White collar crime increases as the middle classes come to realize the need for a portfolio for their senior years, as they come to realize the futility of serving the corporation, and as they come to face life crises in a globalized economy beyond even their extensive resources.
Doctors, lawyers, professors and administrators everywhere learn to take care of themselves at the cost of patients, clients, students and staff as well as the customers and communities in which they are licensed to serve the needs of health, law, education and public service.
5. Political crime increases as global capitalists try to control workers and peasants in the Third World as well as dissent and the impetus for social justice at home.
6. Global capitalism exacerbates all five kinds of crime while expanding their counterparts in previously low-crime societies around the world.
7. The power of the state to police is diverted from the necessary repression of activity harmful to the human process to the unnecessary repression of workers, minorities and emancipatory activity.
E. Still more crime in a Globalized Economy:
7. Capitalism and the profit motive leads to dangerous food additives; unsafe toys, automobiles, drugs, and unsafe working conditions in factory, mine, and sports for all countries.
8. Globalized Capitalism dumps unsafe products in the Third World when they cannot be sold in advanced capitalist countries.
E. Effects on Politics:
1. The world capitalist system requires a false peace as well as huge military apparatus to control resistance and rebellion in the Third World. Rich capitalist countries under the leadership of the USA engineer compliance with the policies of transnational banking and commerce via military, economic and fiscal weapons.
2. Global Capitalism is inimical to democracy at home and abroad; buying it at home and repressing it abroad.
3. National Capitalism replaces the meaning of democracy from full participation at work and in other important life activities with the narrow act of voting for preselected candidates once every two or four years.
4. Global Capitalism replaces the meaning of democracy as rule by a people over their own land and policies to the free flow of goods, profits, raw materials and managers between rich and poor countries.
5. At home, the capitalist state tends to grow and grow: to help small capitalists and farmers, to control the surplus population, to guard the interests of the multinational corporation over-seas, to police the excesses of amoral domestic corporations, and to provide a cheap-sided and mean-spirited welfare to the disemployed and the aged.
6. The United Nations and other transnational governance instruments daily encroach upon both national and local efforts to set and enforce policy.
7. Capitalism will use or destroy any established social structure to secure its interests in profits, growth, and control: fascism, racism, sexism, patriotism or bigotry--anything which will maintain legitimacy or help accumulate profits, weaken its foes or bolster its allies.
F. Effects on the Knowledge Process: With the advent of modern science, ancient ways of knowing and living are displace by formal, axiomatic theories and formal rule directed bureaucracies. Massified institutions have replaced communal institutions and everywhere, the knowledge process is pressed into service to validate and to motivate people to use mass education, mass religion, mass transport, mass media, mass sports and mass medicine. These mass institutions, critiqued by Weber and condemned by Marx offer only hierarchy, command, obedience and impersonal enforcement of policy made by an elite and administered by an expert staff. In order to massify society, bourgeois capital has expropriated both the mission and the methods of human knowledge and redirected it to elite purpose.
1. Capitalism has converted the university into the unpaid servant of the corporation while subverting its capacity to provide the authentic self knowledge for critique, change and renewal.
2. Capitalism buys or rents the means to produce meaning from the mass media in order to serve the information and political needs of private ownership for ideological hegemony, the realization of profit, the pre-selection of political candidates and for opposition to workers struggles at home or abroad.
3. Global Capitalism recruits local intelligentsia to its political, financial, communication and social control needs thus greatly expanding the knowledge process while keeping it confined to and only to interests of transnational capital.
4. Every new intellectual creation around the world in art, music, drama, dance and literature is purchased and transformed into market goods for those who have funds to buy them.
5. Ancient works of art are expropriated and concentrated in museums, galleries and shopping malls as curiosities with which to amuse the idle rich or the active shopper.
6. Authentically revolutionary works of art, drama and dance are converted into commodities and or slogans for the entertainment media.
7. The division of labor in art, science, music, dance and recreation convert masses of people into passive consumers while minuscule differences between skilled performers are magnified far beyond their intrinsic importance.
Effects on Health and Health Care. It is not visits to doctors and hospitals which accounts for the great increase in longevity in the world today...it is access to food. But capitalism has produced the greatest innovations in health and health care. But, as a market system, these are withheld from the very people who most need such access.
1. Capitalism distorts the health and medical profession by emphasizing therapeutic rather than preventive health care, by excluding the poor from adequate health care, by eliminating holistic therapies, by pushing drugs and high tech means of treatment, by limiting the role of the nurse to that of a menial, and by using mass production tactics in handling the poor, the aged and minorities who cannot yield high profits through more labor intensive therapies.
2. Capitalism creates masses of chronically ill and chronically anxious workers and women then pushes drugs, sports and religion as escape rather than as enlivening.
3. Capitalism must externalize its costs: to women, workers and to consumers if possible; Global capital externalizes its costs to women, workers and consumers in the Third World, to the environment and now to future generations with ever increasing federal, corporate, and family deficits. Thus disease and death are institutionalized among the most vulnerable, most needy peoples of the earth.
4. Capitalism cannot provide profits to its owner unless it has parallel economic systems to which to obtain resources and to which to transfer its costs. The family, the tribe, the state, and weaker economies in the Third World absorb much of the costs of capitalism.
9. Capitalism tends to destroy all social relations. Its interest is in production, not workers; in consumption, not consumers. It will discard workers, customers, and communities alike if profits are higher elsewhere.
PART V: GLOBAL CAPITALISM AND THE CLASS SYSTEM.
Where once the class enemy of national capital was organized labor; where once the stable social base of national capital was a growing middle class, now transnational capital turns upon that same middle class and ravages it.
The entire middle class; large and small tradespeople, large and small shopkeepers, independent professionals, upper and middle managers alike, all become the target of cost cutting and job-shifting. All these sink gradually into the proletariat, partly because their diminutive capital does not suffice for the scale on which global capitalism is carried on and is swamped in the competition with the large capitalists, partly because their specialized skill is rendered worthless by new methods of production. Thus, the proletariat is recruited from all classes of the population.
The various classes within a given country are more and more equalized, in proportion as globalization obliterates all distinctions between wages, salaries, rents and profits of particular persons. Now whole investment groups become the central agents of capital accumulation. Investment firms such as Fidelity, Kemper, and A.G. Edwards compete with investment giants like the California Teachers Retirement Fund, the New York Public Employees Pension Plan or the Texas Optional Retirement Program. With billions to invest, they go everywhere, snuggle everywhere, and depart on a moment's notice for a fractional increase in profit rate another industry, on another continent or a fractional increase of interest rate of another government bond issue.
Thereupon, both small and large capitalist unite with workers to protect jobs and markets at home. Myopic politicians rage against Nafta, the European Common Market or the Maquiladores which line borders of rich countries everywhere. Liberal capitalists invest millions in campaign funds to buy the political process and to fuel globalization.
Here and there, the contest between national and transnational firms breaks out in protective trade policy but such nations are doomed as transnational investment capital abandons them.
As we have already seen in 20th century forms of class struggle, entire sections of the ruling class are, by the advance of industry, precipitated into the proletariat, or are at least threatened in their conditions of existence. These also supply the proletariat with fresh elements of enlightenment and progress. Where once they were enthusiastically loyal to capitalism, now they stand back, reflect and ponder the future of their beloved children, their beloved country and their beloved churches.
Just as, therefore, at an earlier period, a section of the nobility went over to the bourgeoisie; just as earlier, a portion of the bourgeoisie goes over to the proletariat, now whole sectors of the population desert globalized capitalism.
A portion of the bourgeois intelligentsia in the university, in the media, in the arts and sciences now raise themselves to the level of comprehending theoretically the historical movement as a whole.
All the classes that stand deserted by global capital become the raw material out of which new forms of class struggle emerge. No longer are the proletariat alone in revolutionary struggle; now they partner with other classes, other races, other nations to try to reclaim the political economy for the human project.
Now and then sectarian religious leaders call for return to ancient values, ancient ways of living, ancient dedications to their special god but only a fraction of the people hear them, the rest remain imprisoned in their own exclusionary religions. Parts of religion itself is lured into prosperity ethics and transnational evangelicism for free markets and free competition but only a few millions are seduced by claims that God is first of all, a banker and a broker.
Now and then sports spectaculars divert attention of billions from the inexorable erosion of economic and political power as it moves to the new centers of wealth. Now and then scandals entertain the mass audiences of satellite television and serve as narcotic to the pain of debt and desertion by transnational capital. Now and them great floods, tornadoes, earthquakes take pride of place in the public media but behind all these dramaturgical spectacle, capital continues to globalize, to concentrate, to mediate the lives of every person, every firm, every industry, every nation and every religion on the face of the earth.
Where once the "dangerous class", the social scum, that passively rotting mass thrown off by the lowest layers of the old society, were everywhere condemned as social failures, as misfits and as deviants, now they are seen to be the wretched refuse of globalized capitalism...now the working and middle classes find their own sons and daughters daily degraded and daily seduced by freely marketed drugs, sex, and violence.
Here and there, otherwise law-abiding, church-attending, college-educated children of the middle classes are swept into the movement to reclaim the political economy to social purpose; here and there, their parents join them.
In the condition of globalized capitalism, those of old capitalism are already virtually swamped. The proletarian is without property, national bourgeoisie are without future. Relations between husband and wife, parents and children no longer have anything in common with the bourgeois family relations. Everywhere new forms of family, new forms of gendering, new forms of intimacy spring up to repair and supplement the bourgeoisie family form.
Transnational capitalism in France, in America as in Germany, has stripped the worker, the manager, and the owner of national capital alike...stripped them of every trace of national character, of gender identity, of ethnic pride. Globalized law, morality, religion, are to them so many transnational prejudices, behind which lurk in ambush just as many transnational interests.
All previous historical movements were movements of minorities in the population of a country. The proletarian movement was the self-conscious, independent movement of the immense majority of a given nation, it acted in the interest of the immense majority. The proletariat, the lowest stratum of a fully globalized economy, cannot stir, cannot raise itself up in a globalized economy without all strata in all countries joining it to tame this newly made monster marching toward Bethlehem to be born.
Though not in substance, yet in form, the struggle of the proletariat of the world joined by managers, doctors, lawyers, and professors is at first a national struggle. The proletariat of each country cannot settle matters with its own bourgeoisie since the capital which supports and makes possible a bourgeoisie will simply disappear into thin air to reappear in Malaysia, Brazil, India or simply an anonymous account in a Swiss bank.
Part VI: The New Class Alignments.
Industrial capitalism had greatly simplified the class arrangements from the complexity of feudality into a greatly simplified class structure and class struggle centered on the conflict between workers and owners...with shifting alliances within each class.
Our epoch, the epoch of Global Capitalism possesses, however, this
distinct feature: it has greatly complicated class antagonisms. The world as a whole is now fragmented into dozens of hostile camps on a dozen levels of social organization.
All fixed, fast frozen class relations, with their train of ancient and venerable prejudices and opinions, are swept away, all new-formed ones become antiquated before they can ossify. All that is solid melts into air, all that is holy is profaned, and soon peoples of the world will at last compelled to face with sober senses their real condition of life and their real relations with other peoples around the world.
Modern industry, commerce and banking have established the world market, for which the emergence of American hegemony in World War II paved the way. This market has given an immense development to commerce, to navigation, to communication by land.
Today, class conflict is waged between workers and owners; between small and large firms; between rich and poor nations; between blocs of nations organized by race, religion and colonial status. No longer embodied by sets of persons confronting other sets of persons about wages, working conditions and investment policy, class struggle now involves struggle between firms and nations over reserves of oil, iron, bauxite and some 50 other 'strategic' raw materials. Class struggle now involves struggle between local capitalists and multinational capitalists over wage policy, taxation policy and pricing policy. Class struggle now involves nations fighting on behalf of domestic bourgeoisie against other domestic bourgeoisie as well as against transnational bourgeoisie based in New York, Tokyo, London, Toronto and other financial centers around the world.
Class conflict involves newly industrialized nations invading markets once the exclusive preserve of colonial powers; once the private preserve of American capitalism. Class conflict involves Brazil, Malaysia, Mexico and India trying desperately to take jobs and factories away from Korea, Japan, and Taiwan which had taken jobs and factories away from the USA, Germany, England and France.
In the capitalist class itself, a given sector struggles to exploit and expropriate the wealth accumulated by other sectors; finance capital parasitizes on industrial capital; industrial capital parasitizes on workers at home and abroad; commodity capital is caught between these two contestants and parasitizes on customers and suppliers.
Entirely new industries in computer chips, radio telephones, cd roms, and satellite broadcast systems invade both new and old capitalist nations to forever change production, distribution, recreation, investment, religion and education.
The world wide web has yet to make it impact upon class alignments and class struggles but, today, it is the fastest growing technology in the world promising to follow the automobile, radio, television and the computer as cataclysmic to existing patterns of class, status and power.
This new transnational class system is itself the product of a long course of development, of a series of revolutions in the modes of production and of exchange. The bourgeoisie, historically, has played a most revolutionary part.
Now bourgeois nations, mostly in Europe and North America engineer the great social transformations of the 21st century. Tomorrow, bourgeois blocs will displace nation-states as the primary agent of class struggle.
The bourgeoisie, wherever it has got the upper hand, has put an end to
all feudal, patriarchal, idyllic relations. It has pitilessly torn
asunder the motley feudal ties that bound man to his "natural
superiors", and has left no other nexus between man and man than naked
self-interest, than callous "cash payment".
The same is true for globalized bourgeoisie except that now they tear asunder national boundaries; they buy the political process in key countries and engineer market freedom even as it destroys the political base of the politicians who sell out to globalized capital.
National bourgeoisie had resolved personal worth into exchange value, and in place of the numberless indefeasible chartered freedoms, has set up that single, unconscionable freedom -- Free Trade. National bourgeoisie had entered the very core of self and ripped out social identities inherited from the very beginnings of time. In the place of stable and reciprocal social identities; ethnic, gender, age-grade, and religious, National Bourgeois offered temporary rental of occupational identities; temporary rental of managerial identities; temporary use of class identities which were transferred to others who would work for less, produce more, complain less, purchase more.
Transnational capital offers even less to fewer and fewer. Short term wealth, short term power and short term status now lure whole nations to utterly destroy the economy of still weaker nations. In a word, for exploitation, veiled by promises of plenty, of freedom and of equality, it delivers naked, shameless, direct, brutal exploitation for those in poor capitalist countries still oriented to community, caring and compassion.
To rich capitalist countries; to the workers, the owners, the young and the old therein, Transnational capital offers the food, the oil, cheap goods and organized tours to enjoy the last vestiges of folk society before they too disappear.
The bourgeoisie has torn away from the family its sentimental veil, and
has reduced the family relation into a mere money relation. Not content with birth control, abortion and beating of unwanted children by mothers and fathers, capitalist societies abandon whole generations of children surplus to its means of production or surplus to its markets.
IV: CLASS WARFARE TODAY.
The history of all hitherto existing capitalism is a history of class
struggles. For many generations past, the history of industry and commerce is but the history of the revolt of modern productive forces against modern conditions of production, against the property relations that are the
conditions for the existence of the bourgeois and of its rule.
Now, the same battle rages, this time masked as progress of civilization against barbarism; of modernization against primitivism; of universality against particularism. Underneath all these diverse forms of class warfare, outlined above, remain the fact that the means of production has outgrown the means of distribution.
Absent decent wages and full employment, workers of the world cannot possibly buy all the goods and use all the services available. Given the great successes of global advertizing campaigns workers, students, children, the elderly and the impoverished alike demand and desire access to goods and services. Frantic to own and to possess while at the same time, goods pile up unsold and unbought; factories close, shops close, mines, mills and farms fail. This great contradiction between production and distribution produce both economic crisis and great unrest on the part of those closed out from this great largesse.
Economic crises, by their periodical return, put the existence of the entire global economy on its trial, each time more threateningly.
In these crises, there breaks out an epidemic that, in all earlier epochs, would have seemed an absurdity -- the epidemic of over-production. Whole sectors of society and whole societies now find themselves in a state of momentary barbarism; now it appears as if a famine, now a universal war of devastation, now an act of God had cut off the supply of every means of subsistence; industry and commerce seem to be destroyed. And why?
In some places there seems to be too much means of subsistence, too much industry, too much commerce; in other places, there seems to be far too little. The productive forces at the disposal of society no longer tend to further the development of the conditions of national prosperity; on the contrary, they have become too powerful for these conditions, by which they are fettered by national pride, religious bigotry or claims of ethnic purity. And so transnational capitalists work to overcome these fetters; in so doing, they bring disorder into the whole of global economics.
The crisis of 'over-development' and 'over-production' produce panic in Hong Kong stock markets and the whole Pacific Rim is shaken. The crises in North America drives interest rates up and whole oceans of money flood to America leaving Asia, Africa and South American in capital drought. A bank in Japan fails and loans in the USA go into default ruining whole communities and hurling whole counties into depression.
At the same time, religious fervours in Asia, Europe and in the Islamic world rage against the corruption, ruin and utter degradation of whole generations of youth. Friendly governments topple, transnational capital flees and great projects are abandoned to the fury of these pre-modernized fanatics.
Part VII: Dealing with the Crisis within Capitalism:
The conditions of national capitalism are too narrow to comprise the wealth created by them. And how do peoples and politicians get over these crises?
On the one hand, by enforced destruction of a mass of productive forces through warfare; new markets are obtained for this country or that by wresting them away from a colonial monopoly or from national hegemony. Yet such internecine warfare disturbs global capitalism as a whole; pressures are brought to limit trade warfare to the rules of market competition and financial exchangeability.
On the one hand, the interruption of oil, profits or goods by radicals on the Religious Right or on the Radical Left are met with both verbal and military violence. The best military technology is brought to bear on these defectors from global capital and threatens them with utter destruction unless they capitulate to the needs of transnational capital.
On the on hand, mass advertizing permits the more thorough exploitation of the old markets. The best dramatists, the best musicians, the best actors and the finest cinematographers are brought together to use the best in psychology, sociology and physiology to create whole layers of new needs, new desires, new demands. Each child, by the time s/he is 12 has been converted into an insatiable buying machine accumulating closets of clothes, stacks of shoes, rooms of electronics and boxes of discarded goods to be buried away in basements, attics, garages and rented storage sheds.
On the other hand, complex parallel economics systems arise to shelter, feed and sustain those discarded by indifferent investment brokers.
1. The welfare state grows and grows in order to feed, shelter and heal those discarded by a profit driven market system. Workers and professionals are taxed ever more to pay for the costs of feeding and policing a growing population surplus to the production and marketing of goods and services.
2. Crime explodes to reunite production and distribution outside market rules and restrictions for the lumpenproletariat. Some criminals steal from the rich and give to the poor; employees steal from the company and redistribute to relatives; some steal from the government and feather their own bed. The lumpenproletariat steal from the poor and draw down upon itself the fury of the state.
3. The rich form charities; solicit funds from the middle classes, provide a semblance of support and thus redeem an economic system that funnels millions and billions to those who no longer work in productive labor.
4. Churches continue their ancient efforts to serve the poor, the homeless, bereft widows and drug-stricken infants. Private persons, in the goodness of their heart, work to moderate the most ruthless effects of the free market system.
5. Family systems continue to redistribute vast quantities of goods and services to those of its members not yet able to work or to those of the family not needed by capital or to those of its solidarity not willing to work for the miserable wages offered by a hard-pressed small business sector.
6. Banks and finance companies extend credit to those whose desires exceed their devices; each new generation of young people go further in debt and thus postpone the crisis of 'over-production.'
7. Capitalists everywhere buy government bonds while governments daily go deeper in debt as they try to pacify the underclass, protect domestic markets, subsidize local capitalists and pay the increasing costs of police and prisons.
These efforts, paltry to the great need yet vital to the particular person, family and community fail in the long run to save capitalism from those contradictions mentioned in Part IV, above.
A much more wholistic solution is needed since neither national nor transnational capitalism can prevent ever greater inequality; ever greater instability; ever greater fundamentalist social movements; ever greater hostility toward supportive governments and ever greater despair in which evermore people turn to drugs, violence and escapist religion.
Programs for the 21st century must be grounded upon an empirically valid and theoretically informed analysis of the effects of transnational capital. Marx and Engels, in the Manifest of 1848, gave the world an analysis most helpful to workers movements in the 19th and 20th century.
Now a new Manifesto, one oriented to the vast changes in economics, politics and culture wrought by the globalization of the economy must be brought to bear on the globalized problems workers and citizens of the world now face. In the last Part of this Manifesto, we offer some elements of a Program which can be helpful in part or in whole in moving toward social justice, toward an enduring social peace and toward an enabling praxis political economy.
Part VII. SOCIAL DEMOCRATIC PROGRAMs FOR THE 21st CENTURY.
Socialists, feminists, humanists, affirmative postmodernists should work for whichever elements of the following program they value with whichever of our brothers and sisters in religion they find to work with at whatever level of governance is available to them.
Economics is the solid base upon which all else grows or is stunted. Democratic socialists should support broad experimentation with market socialism. By market socialism, I mean worker owned and operated stores, shops, firms and factories, mines, mills and farms. Ownership is the simplest means of providing workers and families with essential private goods. Stock ownership is the most portable means of instituting ownership. Together, wages and stock ownership provide workers with access to prosocial labor and to prosocial market goods and services.
1. First work with and for the children; always the children. Each child born should have all its physical, emotional, educational, recreational and spiritual needs developed and oriented to pro-social labor and pro-social personal relationships.
2. Eschew violence in word, deed, program or policy. Violence may well have been helpful in Czarist Russia, Nazi Germany, in the China of Chiang, in the Cuba of Batista or the Nicaragua of Somoza. In a world with global media, with global political institutions, with global internet connections, and with global economic weapons, personal and public violence is neither necessary nor effective. Our weapons are words, songs, plays, dramas, and public campaigns in the various media. The murder of particular persons, the destruction of particular governments do not thereby change a globalized political economy.
3. Form alliances easily and broadly with feminists, progressive theologians, affirmative postmodernists as well as with social democrats everywhere to support public ownership of basic services: health, transport, communication, education and public safety.
Workers are no longer the chief agent of and object for democratic socialist programs. Nor do they embody, as a group, the totality of all that is progressive in a society.
Nor is it necessary for workers of the world to unite across cultural, religious or ethnic lines. It is only necessary that workers in one country do not support the exploitation and alienation of workers in other countries...nor the exploitation and alienation of any other status group for that matter.
The agent and object of social revolution is the entire society, the entire global complex of societies and not the working class alone.
4. Pro-social jobs for all peoples between middle school and old age is essential both to society and to each individual. Early engagement in pro-social labor for wages is essential for young adults; both to train and to entrain them for and in a life of productive labor.
Availability of optional stock purchase plans for all employees in all firms is essential both to reward labor and to provide a base for retirement with dignity is central of a praxis society. The government should provide minimal taxation for firms which provide optional stock purchase plans; heavier taxation for firms which do not.
5. Be ready to accept some economic inequality; 10 to 1 wage/salary distributions in any 10 year period; work toward a 5 to 1 ratio or less for lifetime inequality in wealth. Universal asceticism and crude leveling of wages, wealth and social honor are no longer essential, if ever they were, to a praxis society.
6. Work for social justice programs which provide low-cost basic needs to the very young and the very old: food, shelter, education and health care, as a matter of human need rather than individual merit.
7. Democratize social relations broadly: in health care, in community policing, in educational policy as in the work process. Voting should be available in an informationally rich and interactionally rich format for all questions of public policy. Voting should be for policies more so than for candidates. Public officials should supervise and be responsible for implementing policy. Removal from office for cause should be part of the political culture of a people.
8. Cherish well the good earth and the natural environment upon it: repair damages done to air, water, soil and animal life; prevent further damage by mines, mines, farms, cities and factories. Charge a reasonable interest rate on the trillions of dollars provided by use of 'natural capital' by those firms...including public firms, workers co-ops, and non-profit firms which daily draw down upon the 'natural capital' of the good earth.
9. Honor diversity in culture, gender, art, music, drama, literature and all other cultural products. Diversity in religion and religious expression is primary; dramas of the Holy vary from the most sacred rituals of celebration, marriage and confirmation to the daily kindnesses among strangers to democratic socialism itself. Praxis, at the most global level, requires a dialectic drama of the holy between basic human rights for those who may not share traditions of Hindu, Islam, Judaic or Christian religions.
10. Accept the necessity of repression of some behaviors in order to protect children, handicapped, public space and domestic peace. The right to free marketing, free speech, free action is not without limits in a praxis society. Some jobs are hostile to the human condition; some language forms degrade those at whom it is directed; some forms of play and recreation cripple mind, soul and body. As in all non-linear dynamics, the boundaries between good and evil, right and wrong, helpful and harmful are fractal and ever-changing. It takes wisdom, good effort and enough patience to re-evaluate a behavior, practice or policy if we don't get it right the first or second time.
11. Institute simplistic tax plans: 5% across the board for wages; 10% for salaries; 15% for profits, dividends, rents, and royalties. Protect all earned income below a 5x ratio to cost of living; protect all unearned income below a 2x ratio in cost of living. A simple tax program is always regressive; poor people pay more of their income for all flat tax rates. Rich people pay in a currency which means far less to them than the scarce dollars, schillings, Yen or rubles paid by the wealthy.
At the same time, complex tax policies produce some many uncertainties that they are, ultimely unworkable and hence, unfair to the poor who cannot afford to evade or contest them. Again complexity theory suggests 4, 6, or 8 'outcome basins' are preferred to 1, 2 or on the other hand 8, 16 or 32 tax brackets.
12. Prevention of harmful behavior is vastly superior to control and corrections of both individuals, firms and groups which default upon the public trust. Socialist and affirmative postmodern criminology are first and foremost oriented to prevention and repair of harm done to the public trust. Punishment, confinement and utter degradation are tools helpful to praxis and a praxis society very seldom.
13. Progressives must not attempt to institute one and only one socialist democracy; each socio-cultural complex must have its own societal flavor, its own societal life-style, its own rich cultural heritage honored, enlivened and embedded in everyday life of each different socio-cultural complex.
14. The role of the state must be minimal. Rather than the control of production and markets, the state must be limited to setting the general framework for social justice: redistributions of wealth from high-profit lines of production to low-profit lines or to abandoned lines of production still essential to the health and welfare of the society as a whole.
Some policing but more prevention of the forms of crime endemic to local and transnational capitalism is preferable to the heavy and expanding role of the state in criminal justice. In a word, social justice precedes criminal justice.
15. In earlier epochs of communist agitation, managers and administrators have been seen as class enemy. A praxis society requires good management; good accounts; good implementation of policy and honest agency by every responsible officer of both private and public activity.
Many realms of social life must not be managed; art, music, literature, religion and creative science require a great deal of individual initiative, a great deal of flexibility by supportive agencies as well as a good deal of tolerance by publics whose very life depend upon creative autonomy. Again, there is such a thing as necessary repression; necessary to the health and dignity of children; necessary to the security of praxis and a praxis society; necessary to the transformation from alienated human relations toward social dignity and honor for those still vilified and ostracism by virtue of race, gender or religious life-styles.
16. Praxis and a praxis society requires a philosophy of science which honors complexity, diversity, surprise and variations. The absolutistic social philosophies of ancient religions; the positivistic theories of modern science as well as the totalitarian social policies predicated thereupon are not adequate to the complex and non-linear dynamics of really existing social life-world. Efforts to get conformity, certainty and absolute rationality are doomed to fail; the new sciences of chaos and complexity have taught us this and have more to teach us about the best dynamics of social life worlds.
Liberalism was predicated upon absolute freedom for the masters of industry, finance and business. Libertarianism was founded upon the absolute freedom of private individuals. Fundamentalism was founded upon the premise of absolute conformity for everyone; totalitarianism was founded upon the idea of absolute obeisance from everyone except an elite; 'scientific' management was predicated upon the belief that all could be controlled; all could be contained; all could be predicted and all goals could be accomplished by strict linear implementation of policy by well schooled staff.
Chaos theory teaches us that such absolutes are self-defeating....either they tend to deep chaos or to a slow death. A praxis society requires sufficient order for planning and for success in programs; it requires enough uncertainty to permit variety, diversity, innovation and creativity...extremes of order and disorder are, equally, hostile to praxis societies.