Sunday, January 28, 2007

An Uncompromising Fantasy

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Anyone who has tried living in a world not to their liking knows full well how frustrating life can become. I suspect that most philosophies, coping mechanisms, and addictions are due, in part, to this conflict between reality and idealism. Some of us slip into denial about past events and future prospects. Some of us even turn to dogmatic religious or political beliefs as an either short cut panacea to salvation or, at least, to enjoy the company and support of other delusional, albeit like-minded, people. It can be quite comforting. After all, misery does love sharing the drama.

Sadly, my idealism has waned somewhat over the years. No. I haven't become an ardent supporter of laissez faire capitalism or conservative in my politics. Far from it. Now, more than ever, I see the need for a vast, united grass-roots front against the outsourcing of our humanity for the sake of profit. However, the more I see and hear and watch and witness of the global struggle against this corporate fascism, the more I am inclined to believe that humanity will not ever win this war. The battle waged for social justice and fairness is no longer merely a matter of practical concern; it has become one of extreme idealism. The corporate forces are fighting for their right to enslave us. They believe they are entitled to our labor and the tremendous profits thereof.

The opposition to increasing the minimum wage from $5.15 to $7.25 over the course of two years is symptomatic of the problem workers will face in the future should the corporatists ultimately win out. Do you think the real argument is over a pittance of $2.10 per hour? Get real. This is a symbolic opposition to a populist trend that the corporatists must defend against to the very last CEO, lawyer, lobbyist, senator, and Wall St. broker. For the past two decades, union membership and influence is driven down, corporate profits are at record levels, and real wages for working humans, in terms of purchasing power and savings, is dismal. They almost have everything they want already. It's not about the money.

To make matters worse, elements within the union leadership (I was tempted to agree with them at one point) believe that there is no purpose in fighting for what we consider as proper or fair, but we should perhaps only seek what we can realistically achieve based upon increased productivity and market influences. It saddens me to see this happen. Sure. We could, through such tactics, have some short-term victories and perhaps delay the inevitable, but in the end, the corporatists will prevail, since a concession based on their terms is tantamount to an unconditional surrender, if not in dollars, at least in principle. They get the best of both ends in that kind of deal. We work harder for less pay or benefit, and they take the golden opportunity to portray themselves as altruistic benefactors in the public limelight. We have to draw a clear and unbroken line on the factory floor and not let anyone from either side cross over it.

One we, those who support workers and worker's rights, begin to banter about in the specifically and carefully chosen nomenclature utilized by those corporate forces we oppose, we are well on the road to our ruin. This battle isn't about productivity or market share or even profit. Those are excuses, rationale, and by-products of their real agenda; a mission whose goal is to assert their (assumed) manifest right to your hard work and effort. Were it just about dollars and cents, there surely would be some way to entice the robber barons to put their nefarious business models on hold. Now, however, it has gone way beyond common sense financial decisions. With the deliberate dismantling of labor union power and the misguided dictates of dehumanizing international agreements, the corporatists have smelled real worker-blood for the first time since slavery in the old South. They aren't going to give up that 'high' without a fight.

In addition, I see police and military all over the world shutting down protests and blockading cities to protect members of the global corporate elite and their representatives from various governments friendly to the corporatists, and I'm saddened by it. Why is it necessary to go to such extremes to protect these people from mere words and slogans? Why are they so afraid of the populist voice? I fear from myself and for my fellow workers. I fear that police officer or soldier is now merely an agent of the corporatist whose only job is to preserve his job through following the mandates of his superiors to such an extent that he or she are bereft of compassion and understanding. His mission statement is to "keep the peace", even if that 'peace' is means nothing more than shutting down any and all opposition to the status quo by any means necessary. (It seems ironic that police officers, who have strong unions themselves, would march out to oppose those arguing for worker's rights. )

I am not hopeful for the future and I don't think compromise is acceptable. Ironically enough, Ayn Rand, mother of Objectivism and champion of laissez faire, said something with which I tend to agree. "Compromise", she said, "Is where both parties leave the negotiation unhappy." (I'm paraphrasing here.) In the end, we end up having to latch onto yet another fantasy, philosophy, or complete state of denial in order to cope with the paradox of reality and idealism. No one is going to be happy.

Perhaps the words of Ashleigh Brilliant sum it up best. "I have given up on reality. Now, I am searching for the perfect fantasy."

1 comment:

Hrafnkel said...

Not all idealists are leftists...