I have been both moved and disturbed by political events lately.I have been moved by the voices and actions of workers who have rallied and turned out en masse to be heard, shaking their fists and declaring that they won’t be pushed aside or silenced by the corporate elite. I’ve been moved by teachers and public employees who have stood together and stood up for public education. I’ve been moved by Democratic legislators who have taken brave action in the face of a majority trying to advance an agenda created by and subsidized by the Koch brothers in an effort to save workers and teachers in America.
I’ve been disturbed by the outrageous lies presented by an agenda driven media. I’ve been disturbed by corporate interests who believe that wealth should be funneled up from the working classes into their pockets and I have been most disturbed by the many Americans who seem to agree with them.Every time I try to engage one of these people in a discussion I run into a brick wall. I run into this wall every time because the person I’m speaking to presents an argument that is predicated on the pervasive belief that capitalism and even worse, consumerism is good and just and that the free market will prevail. There have been so many things I have wanted to say about the immorality of capitalism, the flawed thinking behind free markets and the solution to both. I have been unable to articulate my thoughts.
Today I saw a post made by my brother in reference to the current political climate. Patrick, my older brother and one of the smartest people I know, eloquently expressed the thoughts I have not been able to articulate. He has given me permission to share them in the paragraphs that follow. I plan to reread them frequently and share them with as many people as I can. I hope those who read this will do the same.
Patrick writes: "It ain't necessarily so..." This current state of affairs that Christie has pointed out, incongruous and sickeningly stupid as it is, does not have to be nor do we need to continue on this path. There are no easy solutions, but consider this: " [I]t is vital that we prioritize systemic abjection [i.e. the underclass of poor] precisely in its status as necessary abjection; as something that, as Marx knew well, holds up the mirror to contemporary globalization and its fake cosmopolitanism." (Glyn, The Routledge Companion to Critical Theory,
40) In other words: "When I was hungry, you fed me; when I was naked you clothed me..." (Matthew 25:40) This means that in order to deal with the realities of the prioritization of resources in favor of the haves, we have to start by dealing with the realities of the abject, by prioritizing their needs first. Yes, to save ourselves, we must take the counter intuitive (in terms of current dominant-societal standards) action of really addressing the needs of the least in society. This also means that we must look at the exclusion of the multitude from access to the world's resources for what it is: selfishness, self-centered fear of not having enough. This is the inevitable outcome of unbounded free-market capitalism, and to correct this situation there must be an honest appraisal of our ongoing complicity in this condition of abject wretchedness, that the reason so many have so little is that too few have so much, along with an awakening to the truth that there is another option. These concerns of abject poverty deserve, nay, cry out for prioritization, not only because of the real suffering endured by these human beings, but because it is ultimately our concern as well. Human beings cannot sustain such selfishness that we are seeing manifested in the current state of the world; it is destroying us. Under the current self-centered, fearful system of societal construction, the number of those excluded from necessary resources will continue to grow as the selfish demands of those in control of these resources continue to increase imperiously and inexorably.
How do we stop this selfishness from destroying our world? One step towards a solution is to begin honestly assessing the level of influence that selfishness has over our own lives, and to start calling it out as we see it manifested in the daily activities of societal construction. These acts of the state legislatures are certainly classifiable as driven by self-centered fear. We have to relinquish our selfishness and stop the fetishization, the worshiping, of selfishness, of profit at the expense of others. This will mean a re-prioritization of the distribution of resources, a re-imagining of the world in which the goal of eliminating unnecessary suffering takes precedence as a path to release from the bondage of selfishness and the possibility of real happiness, rather than selfish comfort. But how can it be possible to overturn centuries of constructs of selfishness that have culminated in the present condition of late capitalism? First, by admitting that the suffering of the abject is truly unnecessary and contingent rather than the natural course of human existence. Then we must truly open ourselves up to to alternative option, which is society based on negation of suffering first, with happiness as a by-product rather than a goal to be pursued. Such a change of consciousness cannot be externally coerced; it must happen from within. But we can help each other, and the hope is that more and more of us will make the connection between our own suffering and its genesis in selfishness, and as we work individually and together to become free from the bondage of self-centered fear, this work will have a cumulative positive effect on the construction of a just society. The belief in the necessity of abject poverty, hunger, and exclusion from the world's resources will be exposed as itself a contingent construct. one necessitated itself by selfishness. We will see that this current state of affairs is arbitrary, contingent, and that it doesn't have to be this way, or as Porgy said it best: "It ain't necessarily so."