Whither Goest Capitalism? The fading American Middle Class… and putting Nehemiah Scudder on your car

Re-lighting the political lamp, let’s commence with a crucial year in U.S. political history… by linking to a video that’s gone viral nationwide, “Capitalism Hits the Fan” by Professor Richard Wolff.

Now, from the title I expected something tinged a little pink. What I found instead was completely fascinating – and not really “leftist” at all.  In fact, Professor Wolff passionately defends the general notion of capitalism.  That is, a competitively creative marketplace that encourages entrepreneurial start-ups and innovation. A market that would please Adam Smith and continue the productive cornucopia that made all progress possible.

Huffington Post 3/19/2011

One of Wolff’s charts is incredible. It shows that real U.S. worker wages rose from 1945 till the 1970s in steady pace along with increasing worker productivity.  Only then, in the 1970s, the rise in middle class wages stopped, despite accelerating increases in worker productivity and corporate profits.

How could such a de-coupling have taken place? Wolff shows this is not about “left vs-right.” It’s about capitalism shifting from a traditional American model to one that far more closely resembles patterns described by… Karl Marx. Wolff is very good at explaining causes. Like a wise economist, he eschews predictions and prescriptions.

Screwed-Hartmann-Thom-EB9781576755297I’m less mature. So hence, I deem the solution to be political. Moreover you can play a large role. Start by sharing this video.  America’s salt-of-the-earth types know, deep down, that they’ve been betrayed. So far, they’ve been talked into blaming one group – civil servants –  for absolutely everything.  Well… also scientists, teachers, doctors, journalists… in fact, every bunch of “smartypants.”

But keep shining light. In time, some will realize that other power centers have been doing the most screwing… and benefiting.  That awakening is what Murdoch fears, far more than British subpoenas.

=== The Ideal Bumper Sticker for 2012 ===

This is the year when author Robert Heinlein forecast that the U.S. would tumble into a vicious theocracy led by a fundamentalist, rabble-rousing preacher.  Which leads us to this year’s tastiest piece of rebel propaganda that you could possibly put on the bumper of your car.  SCUDDER IN 2012!

Most people pulling up behind you in traffic will experience flat-out, head-scratching puzzlement.

But for many, it will be a WikiPedia moment. When they get home, look up the name, and read about Heinlein’s dark future scenario, some will go “Oh, I see what that bumper sticker meant!”

Whether they nod in agreement or glower in fury, you’ll have made them read and think… and maybe even go pick up a little Heinlein!

Not bad for a simple bumper sticker.

==Looking Forward==

For 2012 and Beyond: Predict the future ofcomputing. Enter your best guess about what we can expect in the years and decades to come. 

No doubt we’ll be hearing enough dire, apocalyptic visions during 2012. Check out this lovely little epiphany…an optimistic (super!) look at the next forty years, written by someone who hasn’t had the joyful spirit of ambition snuffed by grouches of right and left. Marc Millis offers a vision of humanity exploring and expanding into the solar system and beyond…



Filed under economy

6 responses to “Whither Goest Capitalism? The fading American Middle Class… and putting Nehemiah Scudder on your car

  1. I didn’t have to Google Scudder; I recognized the name instantly because I took the Heinlein novel (wasn’t it “The Fifth Column”?) seriously when I was a kid. Even back then, I saw the danger the theocratic right presented to America. Unlike Stephen King’s Gregg Stillson or Garth Ennis’ “Vic the Veep” you never actually meet the character, but as the bible says, by his works ye shall know him. (One of the GOP candidates DOES remind me of Gregg Stillson, but I’m happy to report that his campaign has rapidly disintegrated). There’s only one Scudder left in the race, but he’s a doozy.
    So where are the Jeb Bartletts?

    • HawkerHurricane

      The Heinlein story was “If this goes on…” in the collection “Revolt in 2100”. The character ‘Nehemiah Scudder’ is often mentioned in other stories (in “Logic of Empire”, he’s running for President of the U.S., in “Time Enough for Love” the main character mentions spending a century on Mars to avoid the theocracy he founded.

  2. As Pink Floyd aptly noted, there are always “Pigs on the Wing”. What Pink Floyd failed to note is that Communist Pigs are no better than Capitalist ones. The album, “Animals”, which I will play on my radio show this afternoon with commentary, was based on George Orwell’s “Animal Farm”. Which, in turn, was based on Karl Marx’s “Communist Manifesto”.

    “The first chapter of the Manifesto, “Bourgeois and Proletarians”, examines the Marxist conception of history, with the initial idea asserting that “The history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggles”. It goes on to say that in capitalism, the working class, proletariat, are fighting in the class struggle against the owners of the means of production, the bourgeois, and that past class struggle ended either with revolution that restructured society, or “common ruin of the contending classes”.

    It continues by adding that the bourgeois exploits the proletariat by “constant revolutionising of production, uninterrupted disturbance of all social conditions, everlasting uncertainty and agitation distinguish the bourgeois epoch from all earlier ones”.

    The Manifesto explains that the reason the bourgeois exist and exploit the proletariat with low wages is because of private property, “the accumulation of wealth in private hands, the formation and increase of capital”, and that competition amongst the proletariat creates wage-labour, which rests entirely on the competition among the workers!

  3. Animal Farm is Orwell’s take on how the Russian Revolution went wrong (basically when Stalin(Napoleon) ran off Trotsky(Snowball)), it’s not based on the Communist Manifesto itself.

  4. Of course, neither Napoleon or Snowball were doing justice to Marx’s (Old Major) vision. A pig stand-in for Lenin is absent from Animal Farm, for some reason.

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