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That Four Letter Word, Work


The Oxford English Dictionary definition of work: actions, doings, task, actions involving effort or exertion directed at a definite end.

One way our economic system is totally screwed up has to do with what is considered work. Note well, the dictionary says work consists of effort or action with a purpose. This means anyphysical or mental activity with an end result in mind is work. Hence, playing the violin is work, as is making breakfast, studying philosophy, pulling weeds in the garden or volunteering for a community organization.

Pretty straight forward eh? But not in our idiot economic system. How so? Suppose you are on welfare and volunteer 30 hours a week at a seniors residence, or you are a stay-at-home parent. The capitalist system, or rather its shills, do not consider you to be working. The notion of work has been distorted, changed from purposeful effort, to solely that which brings monetary reward. Everything else, even working 16 hours a day as a volunteer, is considered non-work, and hence of not much value to society.
Sick eh? But hang on, it gets worse. While the aforementioned volunteering welfare recipient is considered a parasite, even though she is doing something very beneficial, if she instead worked in a napalm factory, she would be considered a useful member of society! Doing something that ends up killing people is OK, helping them is not.

In a capitalist society wage labour is the only form of work that is directly profitable for the capitalist. Hence, the need to denigrate all other forms of work, as these forms threaten the ability to exploit labour. But in the real world, the one that exists outside of that concocted by those fantasy-spinners, the "economists", so much of what is valuable in life is done freely and without monetary compensation as the ultimate goal.

Society would collapse without this important form of work. Think what would happen if no one raised their children, looked after their houses and yards, or volunteered for the innumerable groups and associations that keep the societal wheels turning. If the system had to pay for all of this non-paid work, there wouldn't be enough money to do so.

In the long term, we ought to abolish the wage system as the IWW has demanded since 1905. In the meantime, a Guaranteed Annual Income would help reestablish work in its authentic sense. Everyone would get the GAI and there would be much more freedom to work at what people were really interested in doing.

While on the topic of work, it is necessary to talk about "laziness." People who are less willing to engage in what the sheeple consider "real work", ie wage labour, are denigrated as lazy. However, I have never met a lazy person. People who sit around and no nothing are usually suffering from depression. There is also a type of sociopath who sponges off people. But most people deemed lazy by the sheeple are usually those who want to do something other than slave for a boss. Take bohemians, or the contemporary equivalent. They spend most of their waking hours writing, painting, creating music, studying etc. The sheeple consider them "lazy long-haired bums", yet after they are dead, these same haters will idolize them as "creative geniuses." Laziness is a myth, and was concocted to malign and control those people whose interests and work does not have an immediate or obvious monetary aspect.

Shut down the Seattle NAFTA meeting this Thursday!

Diplomats and lobbyists from the U.S., Canada and Mexico are converging in Seattle this week for the “North America in the Global Economy” forum, organized by the local Canadian consulate. This forum is a celebration of the twentieth anniversary of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), and a discussion of NAFTA’s future. The Zapatistas…

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An Anarchist Perspective on the Red Lotus

There’s a few images going around simplifying the adversaries in each season of The Legend of Korra as political or philosophical ideologies: Communism, Theocracy, Anarchism, and Fascism. Sometimes recurring irritants on the show get comparable billing and the roster expands to include capitalism and monarchy. But the first world audience is relatively comfortable with these […]

Continue reading at Human Iterations …

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Stateless Democracy – How Kurdish Women Liberated Democracy from the State

See
http://vimeo.com/107639261

Warning to Neo-Con Liars


The ex-Stalinist MORNING STAR, the Trotskyist, Committe For a Workers International, SWP-UK, the 4th International, the International Marxist Tendency, the independent socialist Nouveau Parti Anticapitaliste and La Bataille Socialiste, all the anarchist and syndicalist tendencies I can find, ALL support the Kurdish people in their struggle against the IS, giving critical support (or better) to the PKK and the Syrian Kurdish YPG. Indeed non-Kurdish militants are fighting right now in Kobane along side the Kurds.

So usual journalistic  suspects, let's not hear any bellowing that the left refused to support the Kurds or was soft on ISIS. right here you are proven wrong before you even utter your filth!

Debt: The Possibilities Ignored

It’s no secret that economists and libertarians have developed a bad habit of assuming things about history and other societies on first principle without actually checking archaeological or anthropological findings. On occasion the divide can be quite stark. David Graeber’s Debt: The First 5000 Years gets a lot of momentum by attacking a widely circulated […]

Continue reading at Human Iterations …

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A 25 Year Economic Depression?

A CIA analyst says that the stock market is close to having a 70% down-turn - a 25 year long depression and the demise of the American Empire will result. (*) Will this happen? Maybe not as soon as he says, but you can't go on printing money and creating stock bubbles without crashing at some point. The way I see it, the crash could come any time now within in the next 5 years.

A 25 year depression? That we should be so lucky! Lucky you say, given all the suffering that such an event would entail? Well, if you want to see suffering, think run-away climate change. This could result in the loss of hundreds of millions, even billions of lives. If something isn't done in the 10-20 year window of opportunity we have, that nightmare scenario will certainly unfold. Everyone other than Koch-rotted climate change deniers knows this, but nothing is being done to offset this coming disaster.

We, the people, simply don't have the strength to force through the necessary economic changes. Our sociopathic ruling classes simply ignore the mass protests and go on as ever. If we get serious they use state terror to crush us. (We see this already in Canada, with non-violent environmental protestors criminally slandered as a “terrorist threat.”)

One important result of the 2008 Crisis was a free fall in the use of petroleum. The price of a barrel fell from $140 to $42. Admittedly, the higher price was in part a result of speculation, but this speculation was in itself based on the hope of a higher demand. What happened in 2008 was that people began driving less to save money. The masses of unemployed also didn't have a job to drive to. The lower demand for goods also meant less petroleum use, both in the manufacturing processes (think oil-based plastics) and in transportation of those products. This fall off in demand will occur in the coming crisis.

Shale and tar sand oil was, and will be, negatively effected. This form of oil production needs about $80 a barrel to be profitable. Below that and they fold up shop. Furthermore, the tar sands are themselves a major source of CO2.

With the Economic Crisis Chapter 2, the whole developed world becomes like Cuba enduring the the Yanqui economic blockade and the loss of Russian sugar purchases. People cease buying, recycling and repairing become the norm. Creative individuals discover that new products can be produced locally in small shops and vast factories and corporate agglomerations are unnecessary, indeed an impediment to a rational system. Urban farming spreads. Local currencies are created to replace the worthless official money. People leave the suburbs for the cities or villages and the most wasteful way of living ever devised is abandoned. The global economy continues to contract, and in a virtuous circle ever further reduces the production of atmospheric CO2.

A lengthy and deep depression, by reducing CO2 emissions may well be the action that buys us more time, enough time to finally get our act together and change the system and create a sustainable, steady state economy. Perhaps we can avoid the horrors of run-away climate change. (This is the first time I have felt anything positive in years.)

The depression may well be a factor in speeding up the process of social and economic change. As of this moment, in spite of the hard times, the austerity and endless war-mongering, the majority of the population sit on their hands. Yet, surveys show this same majority are not at all happy with the present conditions. They are just fence sitting. Yet, many of them continue to vote for their worst enemies and the people demonstrating  in the streets are only a minority. Perhaps they sit back out of fear, hanging on to what they have. Perhaps it is like the situation of the frog in the gradually heating pot of water, the negative effects haven't reached them yet. A second major shock should knock them off that fence into active opposition. (**)

Once the vast majority are in open opposition, the system is going down the same road that East Germany took in 1989. State terror, so useful against minorities, - think the suppression of Occupy in the USA - becomes a dangerous option against majorities. It will only serve to further inflame them. Support for the system could end up reduced to the elite and their lackeys. At this point the political system would collapse and could be replaced by the new forms of democracy that have been gestating over the last three decades or more.

* http://pro.moneymappress.com/MMRBSSH39/PMMRQ817/?iris=252774&from=oo

** It is true that some of this opposition may gravitate to the nationalist or fascist right, but that is a topic for another discussion – too long for a footnote!


A Short Parable

I’m standing over a howling chasm while three anarchists clutch to the edge. The computational problem of collective decisionmaking whips and batters our loose clothes. “Come on! Take my hand!” I scream above the wind. “You don’t know the power of markets! We can use them for good! Join me and together we will destroy the ancaps and finally bring a potent anarchism to the world.”

“Meetings aren’t that bad. You’re just antisocial. What would be so wrong with having to talk things out forever?” says one comrade and lets go.

“Look maybe we like being inefficient. Maybe being effective at doing stuff is what’s caused all the problems we have,” says another comrade and lets go.

“It may be the case that forms of centralized organizing that don’t force results upon people don’t get much done, but see this is why we vote on shit and let the Leninists make all the big decisions,” says the last one, “it’s important not to fall to partisanship. Humility about our foundational ideals is the best way to maintain a mass coalition capable of eventually doing an undefined thing utterly at odds with said ideals. Honestly I feel more at home among state communists than with most anarchists.” And I kick him into the chasm.

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The Joys of Neo-Liberalism

From 1947 to 1973, Latin America experienced a 70% rise in real wages per capita. States had the capacity to both distribute wealth and sustain growth. They showed no need to subscribe wholesale to the capitalism that dominated the American economic scene

Between the Reagan and Clinton administrations (1980 to 1998), Latin America’s average per capita income did not increase at all. 
 
Looking at Latin America’s poverty from the 1960s on evinces something more: about 10% of the region’s denizens were destitute by today’s subsistence standards of less than 2$ a day; however, by 1996, a third of Latin America was poor by the same standards. After just two decades of changes in international trade, ownership and sundry laws, 165 million Latin Americans were impoverished. Unfortunately, by 2005, regional poverty had increased from its 1996 levels, numbering 220 million poor.http://www.counterpunch.org/2014/09/12/latin-america-and-the-us-techno-empire/

Seattle Solidarity Network Wins First Multi-Worker Strike

The owners of La Lot restaurant in downtown Seattle didn’t last long. Hien, Jeff, and SeaSol are proud to announce that, as of September 1st, La Lot management agreed to meet all of the demands set forth at the start of the strike! This means announcing a policy whereby all tips are distributed to workers,…