Saturday, January 7, 2017
Folding the Red into the Black: Developing a Viable Untopia for Human Survival in the 21st Century
Folding the Red into the Black: Developing a Viable Untopia for Human Survival in the 21st Century by Walter Mosley
NY: OR Books, 2016
(13) And so I propose the untopia. This is not a physical place, not an eternal city but rather a frame of mind that has as its goal the dismantling of expectations of perfection when it comes to the working of the quasi-philosophical systems of government.
The untopia announces that we are unruly beings that need time to play and room to move.
(16) Anyone who believes anything with fervor is somebody’s enemy.
(21) We are thinking beings.
And therefore we can be wrong.
NB: Karl Popper, Open Society, and fallibility
(29) What is so sad about this economic juggernaut is that, as Steinbeck puts it so beautifully in The Grapes of Wrath, there is no one to blame. It is the _system_ that is guilty. The system creates workers, overmasters, and even the owners of capital.
NB: Frank Norris’ The Octopus
(34) We lay claim to things that cannot be owned.
…Ownership, on any level, is at best a temporary contract for any living being.
(35) We can lease and borrow, we can claim and use, but the ability to truly _possess_ is beyond us. The material world cannot be owned; nor can it hold value in any unique sense.
The only value that can truly fluctuate is the price put on labor.
(41) We have to stop and pull back, look at ourselves and each other and wonder if there is a way that each and every one of us (or at least the vast majority) can agree on the elements that make a world that is tolerable: a world with enough food and warmth and pleasant distractions; a world where love and belief are okay, even primary.
(43) Because all capitalist wealth is based on labor. A tract of land is worthless unless there is human-conceived labor to reap its value. Someone or some machine has to till and plant, excavate and mine, construct and sell. The world, the universe, might seem infinite but labor is a fluctuaing and forever finite number. On Monday there are one billion workers. On Tuesday there are one billion four thousand and six in the workforce. A week from Friday, due to a fracas in Congo, the worldwide workforce lowers to nine hundred ninety-nine million four hundred three thousand eight hundred and sixty-seven. Whatever the figure is, that is the limit of wealth that can be produced (excluding the independently operating robots, of course).
(49) Also I want revenge for all the pain I feel inside for no reason that I can articulate.
(51) We want and cannot have, mostly. We want and should not have, often. We want while trying to forget that, if our desires are met, there will be consequences for which someone else will have to answer.
I believe that we have to see our wants in relationship to our needs and the needs of others. It’s okay to have a big house or an exercise class that makes millions of dollars. It is not okay, however, to cause poverty and hunger. It is not okay to create suffering in the shadow of opulence.
It is human nature to want and want more. It is human necessity to share.
(58) poet William Matthews
(59) We can say we hate the work, we can point out its shortcomings, we can even say things that we don’t understand exactly. But the one thing we can never ask for is silence.
NB: Teacher in a CCNY poetry class
(64) And make no mistake, the goal of humanity is pleasure: laughing babies, full bellies, blissful kisses, knee-shaking orgasms, winning the game, freeing the slave, feeling the wind on our faces, learning perspective, or toasting your friends afrer splitting the atom - it is all just a feeling.
(65) We should put happiness before profit while understanding that profitting from our labors is a primary human enterprise, and maybe even, in some limited way, a right. We have to put freedom before organization but still it is obvious that there is no chance of freedom without organization.
… We have needs, wants, and require (as far as possible) unhindered expression. Undergirding these three elements of human _rights_ there must be equality among all people, equality which equates to freedom.
(72-73) Without labor, property - be it intellectual or physical - is just raw material. Without property, labor makes no financial sense.
(78) The proletarian side offers sustenance while the Moneybags-end glows with the promise of unlimiited wealth, which is interpreted as freedom. On one side you are a part of everything. On the other you can, potentially, own everything.
(83) Therefore, the cost of interest is the root of capitalism.
(87) This struggle between capital and the social must end. We individual citizens must see that while there are spheres in our society that need to be private, privatized, and freely owned by individuals and groups of individuals, there are also elements in social life that must be controlled by the state for the greater good of the people.
(89) There are many spheres of modern society where capitalist and social ideals coexist. The police are a good example. They protect the property of the capitalist but they also perform the social function of shielding the bodies and minds of the general population from harm. Hospitals charge outrageous fees but many and most are still constrained to help people, in certain situations, that cannot afford the toll. Public roads are maintained for commerece but anyone can travel them. These are acceptable terms in modern American political and economic culture but we have to go much further if we want to save our sanity and our planet, our peoples, and their potentialities.
NB: Not so acceptable these days
(89-90) Let’s see if we can enumerate what a person in the twenty-first century needs for her or his survival:
Clean water. Enough to drink and wash with.
Healthy food to keep us strong, alert, and hale.
A safe place to sleep and relax where we can garner our resources and consider our lives.
Education through six years of college or technical school that prepares us for the workplaces of today and tomorrow.
Free access to information.
A share in the natural resources of the nation where those resources are not owned by capital. (These resources include the coastal oceans, the wind and rivers, mineral rights in the public domain, and an imposed income tax on non0human labor for profit, i.e. the robotic labor force.)
The eradication of laws that limit personal freedom only or mainly to protect the income of hierarchical capital.
NB: there is at least one national resource bank proposal to benefit all citizens proposal out there.
(96) Capitalism has no ties to democracy, nationalism, or the good of the people. Capital is _only_ about the relationship between profit and competition.
(97) As far as food is concerned I believe that the federal governmetn should subsidize nine or ten basic foods, covering all the major food groups and charging the consumer a greatly, greatly reduced price. The basic cost should be no more than a dime.
... For the most basic amount of money, loose change someone could earn bringing in glass bottles for reclamation, any man or woman could feed themselves and their dependents.
(98) The American government already subsidizes at least nine major foodstuffs. We or, more accurately, our capitalist controlled Congress, subsidizes corn, wheat, soybeans, rice, beer, milk, beef, peanut butter, and sunflower oil. These foods are paid for by our tax dollars. These basic foods give great help to fast food chains, agribusiness, and the giant food-processing corporations. The greater the poison the cheaper it is. In the last ten to fifteen years we have paid in excess of seventy billion dollars on corn subsidies alone.
NB: He forgot sugar.
(99) I suggest that the governments (city, state, and federal) work in concert to make a plan to build rudimentary apartment housing, let’s say cubicles of about 550 square feet per person, that _any citizen_ is qualified for.
… The rent on this type of public housing will be 10 percent of the person’s salary, no matter what that salary is.
(103) We are born in debt - this is the proper interpretation of Original Sin, I believe.
(109) If a wage earner does not have enough money salted away to navigate a year or two of economic adversity, then that wage earner is a solid member of the working class. But if everyone goes along with the fiction that they belong to small percentage of the wealthier population then they are likely to throw in their lot with a class of citizen that has nothing to do with them, their needs, or their fate.
We have been brainwashed to believe that we are members of an elite economic class that does not share the fate of stevedores and farmers.
(112) When my good friend was a child her mother used to tell her, whenever they were about to cross the street, “that car is not your father.” She was stating the obvious: that we, pedestrians, cannot trust in the love of the mechaistic juggernaut of the modern world - ever.
(113) We must tear down the utopian belief systems that imagine that there is a world where multi-ton unfeeling machines and social structures can be expected to care for the frail human beings that exist only to service their operations.
… Violence buries its spear into the soul of history. Once death becomes the tinder of our struggle - our payment for freedom - then revenge is the irrefutable return.
(114-115) We must realize that it is only in the general agreement of the masses that a world of _untopic_ revelation can come into existence and endure.
We must create a very human prayer, a hopeful villanelle that will repeat over and over that we are free to be who we are and that we are bound to help others along our way. To repeat - we are free to be who we are and yet bound to help all others along our way. Let me say that again. We are the others and they are our freedom. The certainty of this knowledge is the only revolution that will work. Without you I cannot exist even though once I reallize myself I am different - and there is a kind of mortal divinity in this difference. This odd equation is the bulwark of a world without pure systems and thieving machines. It is a world worth living in, where the limits are purely human, not systemic.
(117) First we must limit capitalism. The wealth garnered by the capitalist must be barred from influencing the needs (rights) of people. No one (be they rich, poor, or _corporate person_) should be able to give money to political campaigns, elected officials, employees of social bureaucracies, or union leaders. And while it would be fine to donate to charities it must be recognized on a broad political level that the need for charity is the signpost for the failure of the society, if the people’s needs are not being met by their citizenship we have not addressed the persons whose happiness are our primary, our ultimate, our only true concern.
(118) This is the nature of capitalism - to continually lower the value of labor in order to remain competitive in the marketplace.
(120) We need socialism in our lives. We need the regulation of capitalism and hospitals, fire departments, police forces, and a social welfare safety net to make sure that each and every human being has a shot at having a life worth living.
(121) Socialism cannot tell us what to think, say, wear, or feel; it cannot tell us how to learn or love or what to do with our bodies or the labors our bodies perform.
….. Socialism cannot confiscate our property or tell us what we are worth.
(122) Socialism is our general agreement to support one another and it must be open and clearly worded. It must work fairly and with oversight from citizens who do not profit from the execution of socialist duty.
There is no system of government that rises above the rights of individuals. There is no economic system that can replicate the genetic makeup of love.
(124) School and education in general should show us how to realize ourselves, and each other, through creativity, technolgy and informed intelligence. Work should be toward the betterment of our peoples and our ecology. Crime should be defined by how much any action or human-wrought thing limits the potential for the happiness of the people.
(125) The world I am offering believes in happiness inside of mortality, of human beings outside the prisons of social debt and corporate profit.