Can We Agree

Reflections on the year past are, I suppose, a dime a dozen, but since reflections are unique and individual to each of us, I’ll add my own.  Pain living under capitalism is a matter of degree; many of us enjoy some comfort and privilege, while many suffer unbearably.   2008 spread misery to those who believed themselves insulated, and crushed those barely surviving.  There would be some comfort if capitalist relations would crumble, and a better socialist society could sprout from the rubble, but that simply will not happen in 2009.  Power is entrenched in the military/corporate/government criminal syndicate, civil liberties have been eroded, income is increasingly being transferred upward, (above already obscene levels) war and death is on the march, and environmental controls have been loosened causing decreasing health and living standards for many millions the world over.  We can all rejoice with the closing of the Bush years, knowing that our long national nightmare is finally over; and with the rest of the planet we can celebrate.  But what next?


Yes, I believe, and hope, that our national comfort level will rise with the incoming administration of Barak Obama.  At least some attention will be paid to those most in need and living below the poverty level, the erosion of civil liberties will legitimately fall on receptive ears in the administration, issues of war and peace will find debate among those with an IQ above room temperature (for the first time in 8 years) and the issue of global warming will finally receive the public debate it deserves.  But while our comfort level may flow in a positive direction, will anything really change?  Probably not!


Capitalism has a most unique and wonderful way of reinventing itself when it finds itself in trouble.  Certainly it gives and takes, but has always taken more than it gives back to the people.  Americans found comfort in the New Deal, but Roosevelt did nothing but save capitalism, not give us a choice in an alternative system.  The best we can hope for from the Obama administration is a temporary lifeline to keep the vulnerable afloat, while the masters in charge regroup.  As capitalism emerged stronger after the New Deal and the Second World War, our current global financial mess will also allow capital relations to emerge from the ruins of the Bush disaster. 


It’s often been said that to get the left to agree on anything is more difficult than herding cats, and since I live with 4 cats, I should know.  2009 should be a time of opportunity for left wing alternative politics and media.  Capitalism has crumbled to the ground, again, and exists only because the government has bailed it out.  At least socialism is a cooperative effort and the need for an apology does not exist.  It generally does not occur to the average citizen that we should be discussing another alternative.  Discussion of the socialist alternative should be a legitimate part of our national debate.  If we on the left can agree on anything, it should be the need for an elevated discussion about alternatives.  The recent financial collapse is the negation of any capitalist claim of legitimacy; our job is to take the debate beyond our left wing circles.

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