BY FRANK SCOTT
It has taken the likes of Pat Buchanan to bring our economy into national debate in 1996. Of course, Jesse Jackson addressed de-industrialization and corporate looting in both his '84 and '88 campaigns. But racism—especially in the hierarchy of the Democratic Party—caused those issues to be lost. Now that shoot-from-the-hip Pat noticed that working Americans are in danger, the bipartisan ruling establishment has brought some attention to this problem. Don't expect any solutions from people who worship the concept of making dollars by not making sense.
Political rhetoric refers to a "new" global economy, with competition, technology, down-sizing, streamlining and a host of other terms that add up to what Buchanan has just discovered, and progressives have been calling attention to for years. There has been an enormous increase in the speed with which capital and the market engulf and devour all in their path. But a "new" global economy?
"Modern industry has established the world market, for which the discovery of America paved the way."
Clearly, some folks were talking about this "new" system a long, long time ago. But just as Jackson's critique was disregarded because of modern racism, this earlier critique has gone unnoticed because of deep-rooted economic mythology.
The corporation is the form of modern capital we are most familiar with, and it operates under the same rules which existed when the above sentence was written more than 100 years ago. But the world market now operates with blinding electronic-financial speed as opposed to the more lumbering pace of the 19th century, and corporations have become international entities uncontrolled by any national force. In fact, they offer the most startling contradiction, inviting the creation of global government by nature of their private destruction of the social form of the old nation-state.
The global corporation's ability to move across both physical and electronic borders has made governmental nationalism mostly irrelevant. It is more apparent now than in the 19th century that the "workers of the world" must unite, but since global thinking calls for local action, it's still necessary to create unity among the workers of the USA. That is difficult, given the divide and conquer tactics of established political organization, strengthened by economic competition for the fruits of survival. These make it easier to separate Americans into "special interest" groups, assuring that minorities miss the point that they comprise a majority, if only they could see their common purpose.
The bipartisan establishment talks about common interest, but it is a creature which profits from the separation of people into easily-dealt-with minorities, rather than allowing them to become a majority force for democracy. That's why groups of workers are organized to battle against other groups of workers in the affirmative action or immigration episodes, while not noticing that the need for affirmative action and immigration is the rule of capital, and not the rule of democracy. As profit grows for some, loss occurs for most, but the people who pay the social cost for this perverse nonsense are often manipulated into supporting the few, rather than seeing their human bond with the many.
Technology has long made it apparent that less hard labor would be needed to produce more of the stuff necessary for survival. Capital, which is deaf, dumb and blind to human need, doesn't care. The decline in numbers of production workers, along with the accompanying need for women to enter the work force to pick up the economic slack, forced a fantastic growth in government hiring, and the creation of social programs to tidy up the mess created by private capital. Now, market forces under minority control are blindly cutting government and the private sector, throwing more people out at the very time that a social need exists to bring more people in. And there is absolutely no way to bring more people into the human system of survival, while maintaining the inhuman system of privately dominated market capitalism.
In truth, we don't need to re-industrialize the U.S, but to de-contaminate its diseased system of production, distribution and organization. That system will lead to long-term social and ecological breakdown, because it treats pesticides, pollution, tobacco, weapons, fossil fuels and nuclear power as profit makers. Under the rules of Capital, the bandage seller gets rich when lots of people bleed, and there is no social force to end the bleeding, but only one to promote ever more bloodletting and ever more profit.
What humans need are rewarding work, education, health, community and peace, which we could have in a flash—for everyone—if we ended the nonsensical dictates of what are called market forces, but are really the forces of capital which dominate the market. This mythology has been profoundly powerful for centuries, but is at the end of its usefulness. As the allegedly enlightened curse of fundamentalism of ordinary citizens, they should notice their own continued worship at the altar of a most fanatic and wasteful organization of people and resources of planet earth.
It's time to start making sense. We need to end name-calling and disrespect among ourselves, and begin to understand how we could succeed once we break the mental chains of our superstition. There is madness in our political economics, and it spreads to the individual, cultural and social problems we've been taught to identify as most important. It makes no sense to continue this nonsense any longer.