Thursday, October 12, 2006

Solidarity

We're All In This Together
Barn Raising Near Mount Hope, Ohio

It is a matter of great interest to me how right wing interests have so systematically destroyed the sense of community that made America a great country for so long. Good neighbours used to get together like these Amish carpenters and, working together they could build a large barn like this in a single day, leaving enough time to bring the cows in and milk them. Farmers' co-ops were formed for such diverse purposes as purchase of seed, marketing of products, sharing of equipment, even setting up community banks and insurance companies. On the factory floor, urban workers formed unions against great opposition and at great personal risk to counterbalance the sometimes lifethreatening power of their employers These expressions of community-based collective effort have become almost as quaint as the Geneva Convention and the Bill of Rights. Communities of farmers have given way to agribusiness. The unions and the workplace regulations they fought for are in serious decline.
There is one form of collectivization that has grown immensely in power while the others have declined. I'm talking about the corporation, which is a collective not of people, but of money. One might well argue that the ascendance of the one form has led directly to the decline of the others. Indeed, one would be hard pressed to argue otherwise. What most Americans fail to realize is that the ascendance of the corporate state constitutes a kind of class warfare that has been going on for at least a half century. I'm sorry to say, our side is losing, or may have already lost.
I'm not alone in this gloomy opinion. This is from an essay of Howard Zinn's in Progressive Magazine:

Surely, in the history of lies told to the population, this is the biggest lie. In the history of secrets, withheld from the American people, this is the biggest secret: that there are classes with different interests in this country. To ignore that—not to know that the history of our country is a history of slaveowner against slave, landlord against tenant, corporation against worker, rich against poor—is to render us helpless before all the lesser lies told to us by people in power.

If we as citizens start out with an understanding that these people up there—the President, the Congress, the Supreme Court, all those institutions pretending to be “checks and balances”—do not have our interests at heart, we are on a course towards the truth. Not to know that is to make us helpless before determined liars.

Why does America's middle class and working poor succumb to this blatant lie? Perhaps the answer lies in this observation; "In America everybody is of the opinion that he has no social superiors, since all men are equal, but he does not admit that he has no social inferiors, for, from the time of Jefferson onward, the doctrine that all men are equal applies only upwards, not downwards." -- Bertrand Russell

The implication is that people of modest means, even people in the lower economic ranks continue to buy into the idea of the American Dream. Someday, somehow they will find themselves in the ranks of the wealthy, and they don't want to restrict their own future enjoyment of that wealth, so they oppose taxation of those currently wealthy.

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