Friday, May 08, 2015

Wage Slavery

Now that you have voted for one of the political parties that supports the capitalist system, you can now be assured of the continuance of your servitude and subservience to the ruling class.  

Slavery seems like an outmoded form of life from previous centuries. Many people blithely assume that "wage slavery" is merely a metaphor, at worst a rather benign situation in which an employer says:
"You be my slave for forty hours per week and I'll give you just enough money to pay your bills . Just be here Monday to Friday, 9 to 5 (plus when instructed to work overtime.) Deal?"

Whatever we feel, slavery is very much a fact of life for all people in the world today. A person is a slave if he or she has lost control over his or her life and is dominated by someone or something--whether he or she is aware of this or not. Wage slavery is the condition in which a person must sell his or her labor-power, submitting to the authority of an employer, in order to merely subsist. The very essence of capitalism is slavery: the enslavement of workers by the capitalist class. You have probably endured the subjugation of a "boss" or "director" or "committee," and you know that the coercion, even if masked as "job description," "supervisor evaluation," or "company directive" can be as repressive as if there were literal chains fastened around your arms and feet. Most business enterprises use the leadership style of "management by whim," oppressing the worker.  

 A capitalist slave is:
Forced to work at a "job" owned by a capitalist (owner of jobs, the means of production, and the profit from the jobs) through necessity or through mental or physical threat. He or she is “owned” or controlled by a capitalist "employer" through wages, hours, working conditions. We are dehumanised, treated as a commodity: a faceless entity filling a slot, a hired hand, at the mercy of the capitalist. The capitalist can--and does so with a vengeance--destroy jobs by "staff reduction," automating jobs by robots, or out-sourcing jobs to a cheaper labour location. Without a voice as to how much profit the capitalist can make from the worker's labour and cannot bargain for higher wages or safe working conditions. Unable to support himself and his family when he cannot find a job. Reduced to poverty or destitution or death by an ever-reduced job "market". Today, all workers suffer under wage slavery bonded debt servitude. 

A wage slave can't quit an oppressive job to find a less slave-like job, because in our present society, almost all jobs involve wage-slavery. So the options are obey and stay, die of starvation, or become a vagrant, which is illegal. It should be noted that this description of the present economic situation is not something you hear on TV or radio or read in newspapers or magazines, not because it's incorrect or misleading, but because "it's just the way things are" or any such straightforward description is deemed "communistic" or "socialistic."

 Southern plantation owners and the capitalists who made millions from the international slave trade in earlier decades of our history brainwashed most Americans into believing that chattel slavery was a "fact of nature." In the same vein, capitalists have programmed most contemporary Americans into believing that the evils of capitalist slavery are "necessary to the smooth running of society." Just as the the United States finally rid itself of chattel and bond slavery through realizing that slavery was not "natural"--in fact evil and unnatural workers throughout the world must now free themselves from capitalist slavery. We must replace capitalism with a commonwealth polity that ensures that all people can live free from slavery of any kind. Our political and economic systems must assure that all citizens have the means whereby they can sustain themselves and lead a free and productive life.

 Under the "wage slave" system you don't receive the full compensation for your work. By the very nature of the employer-employee relationship, you get less compensation than you should, because the employer takes excessive profits. Let's take a look at how this happens by examining a very simple example of an exchange. The stark reality of "wage slavery" is that the owners of the means of production (capitalists) are now taking the jobs to sweatshops. The owners want to pay even less than they now are and they want cheaper production costs as well. They don't care if the workers in these other countries are in literal bondage to their overseers. And they certainly don't have any concern if American workers become destitute and homeless.
 In the first tens of thousands of years of our human history people lived in a community-oriented culture and identity was associated with interdependence and cooperation--all for the common good. In this culture of mutual concern and mutual obligation, people took care of one another. They shared common values and interests, completely different from the values of a market-driven approach to life. According to this common welfare approach to life the community decided about how resources are used.

But from the beginning of capitalism, the wealthy class—factory owners, bankers, speculators, --had adopted a completely opposite way of life: every person for himself. The world view of the ruling class saw the community as a system of exchange between producers and consumers, capitalists and workers. The holy of holies for the merchant class was the "free market" ideology, according to which each man pursues only his own self-interest. According to this dogma, society is held together, not on the basis of common welfare, but by the "invisible hand of the market" implemented through impersonal contracts. According to the view of the employing class, the state is to be controlled by elites or "better people" who decide what is best for the "common people." All other capabilities--learning, pursuit of happiness, freedom, human concern--are to be subordinated to property. The state's only role is to assure that the impersonal market system runs smoothly. This requires that the government use violent force when it becomes necessary to protect personal property.
We must realise that our economic situation at present--a very few obscenely rich people owning companies and corporations and having captured political power--is one which we can and must change. Our current economic and political circumstances are not written in stone; humans have lived under very different political and economic conditions throughout our history. We must begin to overthrow this present state of affairs where all workers suffer under capitalist wage-slavery. The political system and the economic situation should be directed toward the welfare of all Americans, not just a few. We can bring about these changes; it is not impossible. We must first make all aware of our present plight and then begin in all possible ways to overthrow wage-slavery and building cooperative commonwealth communities.

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