[Illustration from Z Magazine]
The sky is falling. The good thing, and the bad thing, is we were right about that.
Below is a short synopsis of our current context and reasons why you should plan to be at the Rouge Forum Conference in Ypsilanti, Michigan, May 15 to 17. Bring friends and submit a proposal.
The core issues remain inequality on the one hand and organized resistance on the other hand.
Inequality booms world-wide. In the US productivity went up on a near 90 degree vertical line. But wages remained stagnant, creating classic forms of overproduction (in sum, workers unable to buy products their class produces). Simultaneously, finance capital came to dominate and almost split away from productive capital, allowing the working class to maintain a standard of living by offering endless debt and falsely inflated home values. This is the video, Capitalism Hits the Fan.
Finance companies began to buy on margin inside a massive Ponzi scheme of mortgage securities. Fraud leaped in: Maddoff. Finance capital, became a barrier to itself, as Marx wrote years ago, and now we have real stagnation, banks awash in capital they will not loan, huge companies unable to sell goods, and workers losing jobs by the hundreds of thousands; a downward spiral that appears to have no bottom. GM just announced another 47,000 layoffs; demanded–with Chrysler–a total of about $39 billion from US taxpayers.
The aged millionaire Lady Astor complained bitterly about how finance capital operated. She commented on her 100th birthday, “Everyone became obsessed with money in the 1990’s and went higgledy-piggledy scampering after their fortunes,” she said. “People with money used to often care about the people who had no money. Not always, but often. Now, it is rare to find people with money who care at all about people with no money” (New York Times, March 30, 2002).
We witness the corporate state coming into being, the merger of government, business, and the military. Nearly $3 trillion will go to the banks, another $1-2 trillion to the military soon.
This is, as Foster and Magdoff make clear in their recent Monthly Review book, the Great Financial Crisis, a predicament that cannot be solved for working people within the system of capital. If reforms are to be won, they can only be won by linking immediate reform to profound social change. Every reform will be unsustainable.
Containing populations suffering from inequality will become the prime project of ruling classes everywhere, in schools and out. We have seen massive demonstrations and strikes in Europe already, often initiated by students and teachers.
The large existing organizations that claim to defend working people and students, like the unions, are absolutely unprepared and unfit to meet this crisis. The UAW agreed to the 47,000 layoffs (having already lost a million members) and more concessions still–when concessions never save jobs, other than bosses’ jobs.
In schools, we can foresee a sharpened effort to eliminate freedom, to sharpen the regimentation of curricula, to impose more sophisticated testing, and more militarization as well (perpetual war is real).
Here is AFT’s President Randy Weingarten demanding more national education standards which will invariably tied to high-stakes exams and married to the Obama project of privatized charters.
Criticism of the anti- war coalition United For Peace and Justice continues to flash around the net. Here is one of the latest if not the most troubling, attacking UFPJ’s leadership for abandoning the fight to prosecute war crimes:
Here are two pieces from Rouge Forum members regarding UFPJ:
The latest Obama Bailout remains mostly a mystery, a secret. But here is a the simple rough outline that we have seen so far, though it makes little sense as a jobs or people stimulus.
And the quick upshot: White recession, black depression.
It is no stretch to see that we are watching the emergence of fascism, which has never solved the problems it claims to solve. Here is Chris Hedges on Inverted Totalitarianism.
Only the Rouge Forum in the US has, in organized fashion, taken up these issues for a decade and translated research into action. We also forged a culture of friendship and mutual respect, among many differing viewpoints, that many people see as the highlight of the conference. Join us!
And for a moment’s relief—Calvin and Hobbes got it a long time ago.
Thanks to Faith, Wayne, Amber, Wendy, Victoria, Tommie, Bob, Gina, Adam, Candace, Sharon Ag…., Della, Kathy Young, Bill, Greg, Emily, Don A., Jim B, Dave S, Gil G, Peter M, Vanessa, Molly, Dave S, SL, Bonnie Macintosh, Nancy S, Steve R and Ricky C, Kelly, Beau, and the Old Mole.
All the best and good luck to us, every one.