Friday, November 19, 2010

A Conspiracy Theory and a Wager

The recent congressional refusal to extend unemployment benefits is part of an ongoing and systematic drive by politicians (read: corporate sock-puppets) to generate policy and legislation to reduce the economic power of the working class (and actually increase unemployment) in order to bolster the ranks of the desperately poor.  Despite corporate media’s incessant and solicitous noise about the deeply troubled national economy, a state of perpetual economic crisis is precisely what the corporate world wants to bring about.

Why would anyone want the streets in this country filled with the poor and unemployed?  Whose interests would that possibly serve? 

The second question has but one possible answer. 

As for the first question: capitalists during the throes of the industrial revolution depended on the presence of vast seas of the unemployed poor to run the machines.  Imagine the money that present-day industrialists could save if they didn’t have to outsource, if they could run their sweatshops right here, if there was an easily tapped  local labor pool, if there was a vast sea of American indentured wage-slaves willing to work for less than what it costs for them to live.    

In addition, a less obvious but potentially more lucrative reason for increasing poverty in the US is that by doing so the few remaining government-provided essential social services, the police, fire department, etc., will be overwhelmed and forced to enlist the services of—and then quickly be entirely replaced by—private companies.

I am both disheartened and encouraged by this last possibility.  If the corporate world succeeds (and part of me groans with the suspicion that it already has), our dystopic future is sealed.  The machine will have won.  But there is some reason to allow the indulgence of a tiny slice of hope.  The transition to total privatization will likely be attended by substantial social unrest; and there may be windows of opportunity, opportunities for resistance, real opportunities to effect systemic destabilization. 

The corporate world is gambling that we won’t notice, that enough of us will be sufficiently distracted by sparkly corporate entertainment technology to notice, or to care even if we do notice, or to feel empowered to act even if we care. 

The odds are not very good, but what do we have to lose?

Yes, that’s the real question here: what is it that we stand to lose? 

Deal me in!

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