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Have You Had Enough of the Madness of Capitalism? Is It Time To Consider What Marx Really Said?

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"Change does not roll in on the wheels of inevitability. It comes through continuous struggle. And so we must straighten our backs and work for our freedom. A man can't ride you unless your back is bent."

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

"In capitalist history, invasion and class struggle are not opposites, as the official legend would have us believe, but one is the means and the expression of the other."

Rosa Luxemburg, The Junius Pamphlet

In a talk earlier this year, professor and Rosa Luxemburg scholar Peter Hudis asked the audience to recall a pronouncement uttered by that "great philosopher" Margaret Thatcher: "There is no alternative!" she had asserted. To what? To Capitalism! The T.I.N.A! Still your protest: Capitalism is it!

End of discussion! Fin!

I do not recall Thatcher's pronouncement, but, here in the U.S., many of us witnessed the "muting" of dissent and the march of capitalism.

We had Reagan, Thatcher's biggest partner in the globalization of capitalism; we had first-time enlistees to the American Dream and to the pursuit of wealth, by any means necessary; and, submerged within this grandiose narrative of democracy and freedom, the idea that there is No Alternative to Capitalism functioned in a way similar to Hemingway's "iceberg theory." Anything could be omitted and the "omitted part would strengthen the story." Most Americans heard a calm lapping of water and not the gurgling of what was dying.

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Those dying were still the scarred bodies of Vietnamese children, but they became increasingly invisible when the war ended. So Americans nodded occasionally at the efficiency of SWAT teams and the successful capture of indistinguishable Black faces identified by police and media banner-tags as THE CRIMINAL. Americans learned to identify the "welfare queens," the delinquent youth, the gangs, the lazy and unemployed, the criminal in those no longer "victims" of economic and political oppression.

The Civil Rights era was history. Done! In the Black community, hard-won gains, most agreed, could be lost if the "low life" and the "militant" were not thrown overboard to be scooped up by the State for "incarceration."

We lost a generation of young Black men to the battle against communism in the Vietnam War. On the home front, counter-intelligence programs neutralized and incarcerated men and women. We witnessed the disappearance of job opportunities and income for the majority of Black Americans. The under-education of generations of Black children, the commodification of "thug life," and PR programs promoting "getting ahead" and "go with the flow" (no matter if the flow en-coffined desperate Black youths) left survivors clinging to the American Dream. They grasped at it, one over-priced electronic gadget, one high-interest credit card, one fancy limo, and yes, one pair of Nike sneakers, at a time--even if another "n_____r's" or "dog's" feet were in them. Only recently, Oprah charged racism when a Zurich boutique clerk failed to recogniz e Her!-- the name brand, Oprah! the billionaire, Oprah!--and mistook her instead for a Black woman, in the wrong store, eying a 38,000 (in Francs) handbag.

Thoughts about our past, present, and future have shifted from a collective reflection on the on-going struggle for liberation to a reflection of ourselves as individuals "making it" within a delusional and violent model of existence in which we no longer value life--unless we can recognize it within, to use philosopher Max Haiven's words, "capital's paradigms of value." ("Are Your Children Old Enough to Learn about May '68?") If, as Haiven correctly writes, " "the rigidifications, reifications, and abstractions of social narratives" are intended to "ensure that the fabric of socially reproduced social division, hierarchy, and oppression" remains, and remains unchallengeable and "natural"--since such violence is the "necessary" component for capitalist "accumulation"--then we have done well as supporters and facilitators. But in a capitalist society, everything has a price tag!

As supporters and facilitators, our "successes" have come at the expense of our past, commemorated only on holidays and otherwise forgotten. Haiven's observations about the "event" in May 1968 in France reminds me that the State's absorption of the Civil Rights struggle in America, as just one example, had little to do with equality and freedom for all. Instead, the Struggle was deliberately held underwater, as it were, and drowned, even as the State's narrative hailed it as a symbolic leap to freedom for the citizens in the U.S. "[A]ll past events," Haiven writes, past acts of resistance against State oppression, were collected by the State and cataloged in the file labeled "done." Thus, any further "doing" would only look outdated. According to the State's narrative, we have gone beyond these events, moving forward as one democratic nation. In reality, writes Haiven, these "events" were "merely stages in the development of present-day free-market globalization."

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So we are here, having spent the latter half of the 20th Century living lives of "endless nows" (Haiven) without life rafts, because too many of us believed that the things that have made things of us, will ultimately free us.

"A people that values its privileges above its principles soon loses both." Those are the words of a former military general and former president, Dwight D. Eisenhower. Dr. Martin L. King, Jr. put it this way: "An individual has not started living until he [or she] can rise above the narrow confines of his [or her] individualistic concerns to the broader concerns of all humanity."

Damage has been done. We see now the fullness of the iceberg, in the "decks" above and those below, and we can see the overflow of water from below, spreading to encompass whatever racial, political, social class you hail from. The water reeks of the smell of death.

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Activist, writer, American Modern Literature, Cultural Theory, PhD.


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Marx's Concept of The Alternative to Capitalism ... by Dr. Lenore Daniels on Thursday, Sep 26, 2013 at 6:36:20 PM
So Marx explained the society, Hudis explained Mar... by BFalcon on Friday, Sep 27, 2013 at 12:04:01 PM
Oh, I don't know: delusions of unlimited industria... by Robert S. Becker on Friday, Sep 27, 2013 at 12:41:27 PM
This is not a theory for me.I have known people de... by BFalcon on Friday, Sep 27, 2013 at 8:29:09 PM
For Marx, that Communist revolution was nothing ot... by Arend Rietkerk on Tuesday, Oct 1, 2013 at 6:36:03 AM
He did and thereby probably became the violent ini... by BFalcon on Tuesday, Oct 1, 2013 at 11:10:17 AM
I'll take the workers owning the means of producti... by Michael Dewey on Tuesday, Oct 1, 2013 at 1:27:48 PM
Excellent.I will take it too as long as no violenc... by BFalcon on Tuesday, Oct 1, 2013 at 2:25:37 PM
I agree with your opposition to violence, although... by Jim Arnold on Tuesday, Oct 1, 2013 at 3:30:58 PM
Sorry but there is a difference.Marx specifically ... by BFalcon on Tuesday, Oct 1, 2013 at 6:01:57 PM
"I am not talking only about the clash to take ove... by Jim Arnold on Tuesday, Oct 1, 2013 at 6:29:01 PM
It would be a rather strange coincidence that ever... by BFalcon on Tuesday, Oct 1, 2013 at 9:03:03 PM
Before he broadened his attention to the rest of t... by Jim Arnold on Wednesday, Oct 2, 2013 at 8:17:54 AM
Sorry to disagree.Yes, from time to time the cause... by BFalcon on Wednesday, Oct 2, 2013 at 9:27:24 AM
However, what really good thing did the American r... by Robert S. Becker on Wednesday, Oct 2, 2013 at 11:07:50 AM
As always, a great comment of yours.And I do appre... by BFalcon on Wednesday, Oct 2, 2013 at 12:01:28 PM
But the most important point that I want to make d... by BFalcon on Wednesday, Oct 2, 2013 at 12:03:02 PM
I think we expanded how justice separate from chur... by Robert S. Becker on Wednesday, Oct 2, 2013 at 1:21:11 PM
All these theoretical achievements are fine but no... by BFalcon on Wednesday, Oct 2, 2013 at 2:49:05 PM
Nothing theoretical about my family's entrance wit... by Robert S. Becker on Wednesday, Oct 2, 2013 at 3:21:17 PM
Don't get me wrong, I believe that the US today is... by BFalcon on Wednesday, Oct 2, 2013 at 8:12:47 PM
Show me where Marx said "establish one-man rule an... by Jim Arnold on Wednesday, Oct 2, 2013 at 2:36:36 PM
Marx didn't spell out the details but did insist o... by BFalcon on Wednesday, Oct 2, 2013 at 7:38:20 PM
Its good we got Cyberspace to fight back against t... by Michael Dewey on Tuesday, Oct 1, 2013 at 3:59:20 PM
 We have a unique opportunity to change the s... by BFalcon on Tuesday, Oct 1, 2013 at 6:06:36 PM
There is much reason to be hopeful that the people... by Michael Dewey on Wednesday, Oct 2, 2013 at 7:05:09 AM
May I dissent, Dr. Daniels ?1. Has anybody ever to... by Ad Du on Friday, Sep 27, 2013 at 7:02:09 AM
How about Capitalism taking blame for the 1 billio... by Arend Rietkerk on Tuesday, Oct 1, 2013 at 6:43:48 AM
"Capitalism" is not, like Marxism, invented ideolo... by BFalcon on Tuesday, Oct 1, 2013 at 11:19:32 AM
Taibbi's Latest Expose: How Teachers, Cops and Fir... by Richard Clark on Friday, Sep 27, 2013 at 10:04:09 AM
Maybe if the banksters fleece enough enforcers, th... by Mark Adams JD/MBA on Saturday, Sep 28, 2013 at 11:13:59 AM
Let's assume Marx was right, but misinterpreted.&n... by Steve Consilvio on Friday, Sep 27, 2013 at 11:31:47 AM
Actually there is an alternative, to Thatcher and ... by siamdave on Friday, Sep 27, 2013 at 11:32:02 AM
This essay is nothing but a three-page teaser. Huf... by John Donohue on Friday, Sep 27, 2013 at 11:34:45 AM
What Marx said or really meant, if we can cut thro... by Robert S. Becker on Friday, Sep 27, 2013 at 11:58:04 AM
It looks to me as if Big DC is proving that big do... by Michael Dewey on Tuesday, Oct 1, 2013 at 4:35:03 PM
Semantics will hide the crimes of capitalism. Gene... by Timothy Gatto on Friday, Sep 27, 2013 at 12:16:25 PM
Peter Hudis's book Marx's Concept to the Alternati... by Dr. Lenore Daniels on Friday, Sep 27, 2013 at 12:19:30 PM
GBS was right!As George Bernard Shaw indeed correc... by Eugene Elander on Friday, Sep 27, 2013 at 12:49:49 PM
FINALLY!!!!!! The God damn name appears on an Amer... by Guglielmo Tell on Friday, Sep 27, 2013 at 1:29:18 PM
More sweeping generalizations.  Please name t... by Robert S. Becker on Friday, Sep 27, 2013 at 2:22:48 PM
And this is the thing with Marx and more exactly w... by Guglielmo Tell on Friday, Sep 27, 2013 at 7:04:37 PM
Though the Basque in Spain are not  country, ... by Michael Dewey on Saturday, Sep 28, 2013 at 7:40:39 AM
In the 1960s within the New Left there were those ... by E. J. N. on Friday, Sep 27, 2013 at 4:29:31 PM
The Wall Street identifies "regulation" with Commu... by Guglielmo Tell on Friday, Sep 27, 2013 at 7:51:01 PM
Mr. Tell, I can appreciate what you're trying to s... by E. J. N. on Friday, Sep 27, 2013 at 9:36:11 PM
Big mistake here: You identify materialism with "c... by Guglielmo Tell on Saturday, Sep 28, 2013 at 1:07:42 PM
The step from capitalism to Marxist socialism is ... by John Sanchez Jr. on Saturday, Sep 28, 2013 at 7:37:24 AM
Marx spoke of the workers owning the means of pr... by John Sanchez Jr. on Saturday, Sep 28, 2013 at 7:38:31 AM
Very interesting, John.Of course, unless there is ... by Mark Adams JD/MBA on Saturday, Sep 28, 2013 at 11:35:44 AM
Once upon a time there were no white people. A bi... by Kim Cassidy on Saturday, Sep 28, 2013 at 3:33:34 PM
It is my understanding that the white race develop... by John Sanchez Jr. on Sunday, Sep 29, 2013 at 8:01:49 AM
It wasn't until studying anthropology in college t... by Kim Cassidy on Tuesday, Oct 1, 2013 at 6:38:25 PM
Maybe, but albinism would not give a selective adv... by Hosea McAdoo on Friday, Oct 4, 2013 at 10:31:02 AM
Marx was a philosophical activist turned political... by Jim Arnold on Tuesday, Oct 1, 2013 at 2:20:55 PM
I think the demonization of Marx spreads from his ... by Steve Consilvio on Tuesday, Oct 1, 2013 at 6:34:46 PM
Wow, religion is a right? Private property  i... by Mark Sashine on Wednesday, Oct 2, 2013 at 10:05:35 AM
Wow Mark,If the State has a right to 'separate rel... by Steve Consilvio on Wednesday, Oct 2, 2013 at 5:41:48 PM
Interesting point 'he is dead' and 'his math is wr... by Mark Sashine on Wednesday, Oct 2, 2013 at 6:11:43 PM
wow. my soul is wrong?Scary stuff between your ear... by Steve Consilvio on Friday, Oct 4, 2013 at 12:16:25 PM
My comment is general and not specific to this art... by Hosea McAdoo on Wednesday, Oct 2, 2013 at 10:42:09 AM
I just want to say that I am glad to see this disc... by Dr. Lenore Daniels on Wednesday, Oct 2, 2013 at 12:48:42 PM
I agree. I certainly do not agree with all but I d... by Hosea McAdoo on Friday, Oct 4, 2013 at 10:34:25 AM