There are times in my life where things have occurred that go beyond the simply strange, beyond the unimaginably surreal, into another dimension altogether.
Yes, I am talking about the Twilight Zone.
A confluence of happenstance and synchronicities that indicates beyond any doubt that Voltaire was correct: If God exists; He/She is a Comedian. And life is the punch line.
The other day I had an experience where I fully expected to look up from my computer and see the ghost of Rod Serling standing in the corner, wearing a hounds-tooth check sports coat, and intoning (in his whiskey and cigarette baritone) the opening line of his most celebrated creation:
"Submitted for your consideration."
I have been studying the American labor movement off and on for the last year, since I wrote "Against the Corporate State," (OpEdNews, May 12, 2010). Recently I have concentrated on the African-American sub-movement within the labor movement, because it seems to be the only substantial, ongoing push for the expansion and improvement of working peoples' rights on the job after the passage of the Taft-Hartley Act in 1947. After Taft-Hartley, the labor movement--or at least the union leadership--seemed to be increasingly in the pocket of the corporations. The plutocrats were always willing to concede wages and benefits (which they knew they could get back during an economic down turn), but held the line against workplace safety and worker participation in running the company more sufficiently.
Not efficiently; sufficiently.
My computer dictionary (The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, Third Edition copyright 1992 by Houghton Mifflin Company) defines "sufficiently" as being the adverb of the adjective "sufficient," meaning: 1. Being as much as is needed; 2. Archaic. Competent; qualified.
"Efficiently" on the other hand, is the adverb of "efficient," meaning: 1 . Acting directly to produce an effect: an efficient cause; 2. a. Acting or producing effectively with a minimum of waste, expense, or unnecessary effort; b. Exhibiting a high ratio of output to input. Most manufacturers and other businesses believe that definition 2b is the only definition.
So, sufficiency is about production quality and quantity, while efficiency is about quantity alone.
I had just finished Charles Denby's book The Indignant Heart, describing Mr. Denby's years of struggle against racism as a member of the United Auto Workers and in his personal life. It is a stinging indictment of the American Labor movement after World War II. His book helped confirm my conclusion that after the passage of the Taft-Hartley Act in 1947, the leadership of the American Labor movement was increasingly in the pocket of the corporations, getting only wage and benefit increases, rather than becoming the instrument for social democracy that men like John L. Lewis of the United Mine Workers had struggled for in the 1920's and 30's.
I was trying to find a Karl Marx quote in Indignant Heart describing machinery as dead labor that weighed down the workers and their living labor. I started with my PDF (from Marxists.org) copy of Marx's Economic and Philosophical Manuscripts, and entered the word "machine."
Searching the 41 places in that particular book where the word "machine" is found, I came upon the three quotes by Marx I am using for this article. These quotes seem to me to be so prescient--given the current state of affairs in the United States--I would not have been surprised to hear the theme to The Twilight Zone playing in the background.
I sent my discoveries to a friend of mine who, like myself, had grown up during the Cold War, and had been taught that Karl Marx was the bÃªte noire of all that was decent and right in the World. She e-mailed me back saying that next time I came across quotes like this, to give her a heads-up first, because I'd just about scared the crap out of her.
I also sent her a copy of Paul Craig Roberts' article "Marx and Lenin Revisited," which, if you have not read it, is very much worth the time and effort. Roberts--a former Assistant Treasury Secretary under Reagan--is no more a Marxist than I am. That does not mean that we ignore the truth simply because we don't like the source. I would suggest reading that article together with this one to get the full effect that my friend did.