The Moment of Truth — March 21, 1999
Barbarism Under Capitalism
Hi. I’m mejeffdorchen. Welcome to the moment of truth. You know what the moment of truth is. It’s the moment - the one moment and the only moment - when the truth is released like a sweet-smelling burst of flower-jyzm into the homogeneous stink of the broadcast atmosphere - the only moment when the unremitting stench of lies is interrupted by the fresh wind of truth. And that moment is NOW! So let’s all just savor a bit of fresh wind for a moment. Aaahh! And let’s all pay attention because it is so good for us and because it gives us a whiff of something so rare which one day in the far distant future we may take for granted as much as we do the simple act of breathing itself.
And in just the same way, we may one day in the future look back on the twentieth century as a barbaric one - much as we look back on slavery as barbaric today - we may look back on capitalism as a barbaric form of economy, and simply take it for granted that most civilized people agree that it isn’t okay to assign people monetary worth and then discriminate against them based on that arbitrary assignation. We may one day look back and realize that allowing children to starve and rot in filth was a barbaric decision we made as a global society, and not simply some kind of inevitable accident of nature. At one time slavery was thought of as natural. Just as now it’s considered natural that certain large groups of people are denied food, clothing, shelter, health care and education.
Oh, it just happened. You know, that’s just the nature of things. Some are rich, some are poor. Some people throw away more food than they could possibly ever eat. Some communities even pour bleach on their food garbage to keep hungry poor people from eating out of their trash. It’s natural! It’s natural to starve someone rather than let them eat your garbage! What could be more natural? I ask you? Why it makes me sick sometimes when my accountant tells me how much of my poop gets devoured by freeloading microbes - poop that I pooped out of my solid gold butt! Yeah, me putting poison on my trash is natural - it’s important to protect what you discard. People getting something for nothing - even if it’s garbage - that’s unnatural. As unnatural as microbes feasting on waste. Nature itself is unnatural. That is, under capitalism.
That’s why it’s hard to talk about these days - in this golden age of capitalism. We hardly have the language to talk about the barbarism of our economic system. Especially on the airwaves, which are supposed to be owned by the public but are pretty much controlled by corporations. But even in our personal lives we fumble for the words to describe why it’s wrong that some have an obscene excess of wealth while others our so impoverished as to be on the verge of death at every moment. Why, really, is it wrong? I don’t know. It’s not like rich people didn’t earn their wealth - at least, not as long as we don’t question whether it’s right or wrong for people to monopolize resources in excess of their needs and to the detriment of the society at large.
It’s really weird that public policy discourse is so focused on the way poor people are bad for society when, as far as I can tell, the vast majority of injuries done to society are perpetrated by people with tons of money. Yet our public policy debates are always on how to take more money away from poor people, how to make the tax burden on them heavier, how to make them responsible for paying for more of the stuff that keeps society running.
Here’s an example: giant corporations need people to travel from home to work. If workers can’t get to work, the corporations don’t run and the rich people lose money. But do the corporations pay their share of the bill for the transit of their employees? No. They pay less and less taxes, thanks to the present barbarism in economic thought, and that means that regular people are paying more. If you take mass transit to work, who pays the fare? Your boss? If you said yes to that last question, you’re one of the very very few. And as we know, less and less public funds are going to public transportation. So the burden of support is on the rider. And that hikes fares. So the burden for paying for the transportation system without which corporations cannot operate is being shifted more and more to the overtaxed shoulders of the rider. That constitutes, effectively, a hike in the taxes of poor and working people. The same applies to any other publicly-used commodity. When corporate taxes are lowered, it constitutes an effective tax hike for the regular people.
If you are convinced that lower taxes for large corporations are good for the economy, and you are not yourself a stockholder or executive of a large corporation, you are an idiot. You are the class equivalent of a self-hating Jew, an uncle tom, a woman in favor of Islamic fundamentalism, or a penguin vivisectionist. You’re a jerk. Go to hell.
That said, I want to mention a couple quick news items I’ll call, “News of the Barbaric.” First, down in South Lakeview, in the neighborhood of the Athenaeum Theater and the Zum Deutschen Eck restaurant, an association of present day barbarians who call themselves the South Lakeview Neighbors - an Orwellian moniker if there ever was one - are doing their best to try to keep an organization that subsidizes housing for poor women from moving some into a convent in the neighborhood. These so-called “neighbors” seem to be generally young white affluent home-owning professionals. And they may just be able to keep these women from living in their neighborhood. What I wonder is this: why is it always so much easier for white rich people to make rules keeping poor nonwhite people from living in their neighborhoods than it would be for nonwhite poor people to somehow legislate or zone a way to keep rich white people from taking over theirs? Could the answer be economic barbarism? Hmm, I wonder.
Be that as it may, the so-called South Lakeview Neighbors should be ashamed of themselves. Their behavior is as inhuman as any of the civil indignities visited by any persecuting group upon any oppressed, occupied population. I would like it very much if their behavior were to go down in history alongside the Trail of Tears and the My Lai Massacre, from which it differs only in degree, as an act of barbarism and yet another blot on the human rights record of Western Civilization. Hey, South Lakeview Neighbors: take a flying leap into the eternal flaming pit of hell. Or just change your evil ways, baby.
Last quick piece of “News of the Barbaric:” There’s an idea afloat for legislation whereby, to avoid the death penalty, a deathrow inmate could donate an organ for transplant to save the life of someone who can afford to have an organ transplant. Given that a disproportionately large number of deathrow inmates are non-white and poor, and that most organ-transplant patients are white and affluent, and further that it is not uncommon for innocent people to be executed in the United States - the statistics are high for wrongful conviction, imprisonment, and execution - given all this, what this legislation proposes is that we offer our poor people of color a choice: either give rich white people your organs, your body parts, the flesh of your body, or we’ll kill you. The rich white people who have imprisoned your body will kill your body if you don’t give them a sizable chunk of your body.
How about it - barbaric? No, not in the Golden Age of Capitalism, where nothing is sacred but PROFIT and anything can be bought processed packaged and sold. Anything, that is - but THE TRUTH.
And this has been the Moment of Truth with mejeffdorchen. Join me here every Saturday on National Beer Presents This Is Hell with your host Chuck Mertz right here on WNUR 89.3 FM Chicago’s sound experiment. And now back to Chuck with maybe a last little lie or two from his sack of. Lies. Chuck?