Verizon: union win

Gordon Fitch gcf at
Tue Aug 22 21:36:29 PDT 2000

> >As the capitalist economy continues disconnecting from reality (i.e. useful
> >production) in pursuit of the virtual production that serves to enhance
> >profit-making, it becomes increasingly vulnerable to competition from a
> >rational, social economy.

John Gulick:
> No need to repeat the standard lines about the pitfalls of blueprint utopias
> here, many of which I disagree with, given how much the imagination of the
> left has withered in the last 80 years. However, in the "here and now," who
> is the constituency for partially delinking with the larger capitalist
> economy ? What current social movements will the "social economy" be grounded
> in ? Assuming away all the other difficulties of establishing an island of
> ecological socialism in a sea of unecological capitalism, we can presume that
> the bulk of the world's surplus value-producing population will not be opting
> in to the "social economy" at the outset. Supposing that the "social economy"
> fends off ideological, political-economic, and military attack (from within
> as well as without), and proves its inherent superiority in delivering human
> happiness and ecological rationality, what happens when the surplus value-
> producers in the sea of capitalist madness become decisively swayed by the
> positive example ? Do they become victims of intensified class war and political
> repression ?

One way I've tried to think about work has been to notice that, in spite of the manifold increases in the GDP since my childhood, people don't seem to live much better now than they did then. On the other hand, most people who work (are employed) still work or simulate work about 40 hours a week, and a larger proportion of the population is employed now than then (I think). If the powers of production had increased according to the measurement of the GDP, and we still live in approximately the same way, then we should be able to work ten or eight or six hours a week for this standard of living. I conclude that either the measurements are incorrect or that work is not connected to standard of living, although it may produce _something_. However, work _does_ connect be to the bourgeoisie for discipline and regulation. So we can say it produces social order of a sort.

Of course, some people enjoy their employment. This is a rare privilege and not one which I would carry on about too much amid a population who drive buses and wash toilets. A light _frisson_ of shame would seem more appropriate, and might even enhance one's late keyboard tappings as the dusky brethren from Colombia and Guatemala slosh out the rest room down the hall. In any case, the lovers of their work, too, are connected to the social order, perhaps even more firmly than the majority who hate their jobs.

As for the other world... People are already withdrawing from the capitalist economy; according to Twin Oaks, a non-capitalist "intentional community", they know of about 500 similar enterprises in the U.S. There could be many others which do not wish to advertise on the Net or be in touch with Twin Oaks.

If a large number of people withdrew from the capitalist economy, however, the ruling class would be unhappy and would punish the working class by withdrawing its capital from remaining production. That is, _they_ would become depressed and _we_ would have a "depression". The burden of the depression would fall most severely on the weakest and least well organized of those outside the ruling class, that is, the poor and the nonunionized workers. Many others would suffer at random. Historically, this sort of situation has generally been followed by a bracing war of some kind, which seems to not only stimulate the folk, but to further a faster restructuring of the economy and a recreation of scarcities, perhaps at a higher, more sophisticated level of production-consumption.

Got us by the short hairs, you might say. It will take some clever maneuvering to get away.


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