In a Moment of Truth, Jeff Dorchen joins opinion ghoul Charles Krauthammer on the road to socialism, rejecting the utopian notion of prosperity through private ownership (nice on paper, will never work) and committing to the practical notion of working way less and providing way more for all humans.
Michael wrote the June cover story Security Breach: Trump’s tussle with the bureaucratic state for Harper's.
Brian wrote the article Brasilia 24/5: A View from the Ground for Brasilwire.
Andy wrote the article The LGBTQ Movement is an Intersectional Fail for Counterpunch.
Andrew wrote the book The End of Development: A Global History of Poverty and Prosperity for Zed Books.
Welcome to the Moment of Truth: the thirst that is the drink.
Fox News Channel chattering skull Charles Krauthammer is off the chain and skating on the slippery slope toward socialism.
Back when we were hunting and gathering in small tribes, we didn't have much, but what we had we shared. We never let anyone go hungry or homeless who was in the tribe. And you had to do something pretty severe to get kicked out. It wasn't until we had a large surplus that we began starving people. Now, it could be said that these people we've been starving since we developed the ability not to starve anyone aren't members of our tribe. However, ethically, we've come to the conclusion that all people are human beings and worthy of every chance to live. Of course there's a sizeable minority of racist, nationalist, and religious fanatics who think anyone not like them should die. But for the most part, humanity is leaning toward including all of humanity and even some other beings in the "in" group.
And yet somehow, we're starving people. We're allowing people to go without medical treatment for permanently damaging or even fatal ailments. We're shortchanging them on education. We're shortchanging them on opportunity.
Just to review: when we barely had enough, we shared. Now that we have way more than enough, we allow a few a-holes to hoard a ridiculous surplus that could save lives.
We are slaves. If that offends anyone because it trivializes actual slavery, I'm sorry, but I don't mean this metaphorically. In the future, should we be fortunate enough to have one, people will wonder how we could stand it, having the basic necessities of survival denied us, held hostage, only provided to us on condition of our servitude. Obviously there are other ways to look at our condition, but when a small handful of idiotically privileged people skate merrily about in solid gold ice rinks or sip heroin tea in which they've poached the last embryonic platypus while toxically polluting more land than all the farmers in the world could farm, land that could be filtering pollution and hosting herds of cool megafauna, while the vast majority of people are either forced to work at unfulfilling, monotonous, spirit-killing, or even dangerous jobs, or to beg, or to pick weeds out of the desert gravel in order not to starve – what do you call that? You call that freedom?
China is author of October: The Story of the Russian Revolution from Verso.
Lisa, a former technical sergeant on drone surveillance systems, was profiled in the documentary National Bird.
Duff is author of the new book The Golden Passport: Harvard Business School, the Limits of Capitalism, and the Moral Failure of the MBA Elite from Harper Collins.
Mariame wrote the article Free Us All: Participatory defense campaigns as abolitionist organizing for The New Inquiry.
Welcome to the Moment of Truth: the thirst that is the drink.
Adam Smith didn't invent capitalism. I know this, not because I've read The Wealth of Nations, but because I had PJ O'Rourke read it to me. And I fell asleep. A lot. Because PJ's voice, while very like the punctuated drone of a band saw suffering sporadic power outages in a thunderstorm, cloaked me in its jaggedness, like thunder in a thunderstorm, and soothed me just because I knew it was there, like a stern God, whether I was paying attention or not.
Scottish philosophers fall into two camps: those who shag sheep, and those who don't. Adam Smith was by all accounts a non-sheep-shagging Scotsman. It doesn't seem like he shagged anything or anybody. No judgment there. If I were a homosexual Scottish philosopher in the 18th Century I would probably keep it to myself, or even keep it from myself. I'm not saying Smith was gay, I'm saying if I were a gay 18th-century Scottish philosopher, I mean, if I were in his shoes – those shiny black slippers with the silver buckles and those saucy white knee-socks – I wouldn't confront my sexuality at all. I'd just hang out with my mother a lot.
Mr. Smith had a utopian project: to examine a world in which a great deal was cruel and wrong and describe it as a world in which everything was on course to be as it should. Smith did not invent capitalism, but rather described an ideal version of it. That's my take-away, and remember, I'm notorious for maliciously misunderstanding the work of those of superior mentality, which includes everyone of any consequence. This essay will be no exception. It's already too late for this essay to be an exception.
In the century before Smith wrote his magnum opus, Rene Descartes, a fancy-pants Frenchman who wore big shirt-collars that extended down to his tits, took on the project of doubting everything. I judge Descartes harshly on one point, and that is when he abdicated his doubt for an invented God. He didn't invent God, he just used an old one someone else had invented to bridge the gap between godless mystery and the fact that existence itself exists. He was so close to discovering the meaninglessness of existence, but just as he was about to dig it up, he put the shovel down and said, "Well, somebody made all this dirt I'm digging around in. Let's just leave it at that."
In 1972 – (45 years ago) – in Osaka, Japan, a fire at the Sennichi Department Store killed 118 people. The fire started in the dress department and quickly spread to other areas in the building that were being remodeled, where burning construction materials filled the stairwells with poisonous fumes. The building had no fire sprinklers. In a nightclub on the seventh floor, patrons found the fire exits locked, and in desperation they began jumping from the windows. It took firefighters three days to put out the blaze. Ninety-six people were found dead inside the nightclub, twenty-two died from jumping, and another seventy-eight were injured, including twenty-seven firefighters. Three managers of the building later went to prison for criminal negligence and accidental homicide.
In 1985 – (32 years ago) – Philadelphia police bombed the headquarters of MOVE, a radical commune that advocated black liberation and shunned modern technology. The group was well stocked with guns and ammo, and nine members had already gone to prison for third-degree murder in the death of a cop. The group occupied a row house in West Philadelphia, where neighbors complained to the police about their rooftop bullhorn political speeches. When police arrived and were denied entry, they resorted to fire hoses and tear gas, and were answered with bullets. The resulting shootout led to a two-day armed standoff, which ended when a state police helicopter dropped two one-pound bombs on the house, sparking a fire that quickly spread across the neighborhood. With orders to hold off, firefighters stood by and watched the police gun down commune members who came running out of the burning house. Eleven people, including five children, were killed; some sixty-five houses were destroyed; and more than 250 people were left homeless. Eleven years later, a federal jury found that the city had used excessive force and violated the Fourth Amendment. It ordered payment of $1.5 million to three commune survivors, and Philadelphia briefly became known as “The City That Bombed Itself.” Mayor Wilson Goode issued a formal apology, but nobody in the city government was ever criminally charged.
Rotten History is written by Renaldo Migaldi
Nnennaya worked with BYP100 DC on a local fundraising effort, part of a larger national campaign by the group Southerners On New Ground.
Julia wrote the article How Tax Policy Created the 1% for Dissent.
Mark wrote the articles Curb Your Enthusiasm: Macron Is Just The Beginning Of A New Fight For France And Europe for Huffington Post and How the Eurozone Damaged French Politics—and This Year’s Presidential Election for The Nation.
Karina wrote the artilce A Politics of Solidarity for Jacobin.
Bill wrote the book Cannibalism: A Perfectly Natural History from Algonquin Books.
Sharon wrote the article The Plant Next Door for The Intercept.
Jeff is hosting the "What Is Capitalism" Contest at Seattle's Red May on Sunday.