[Marxism] The Last Dime on Earth

Bonnie Weinstein giobon at comcast.net
Thu Feb 28 14:25:38 MST 2013

The Last Dime on Earth

By Bonnie Weinstein
March/April 2013 Socialist Viewpoint Magazine
The commanders of capital, by the very nature of the system of capitalism that they command, will fight to the death the last person on Earth for the last dime on Earth. There can be no end to war, exploitation and murder as long as capitalism continues to enslave the mass of humanity and place private profit above all else. In fact, capitalism is holding back the progress of humanity by force of violence and the threat—and it is a real and deadly serious threat—of worldwide annihilation.

Workers work, capitalist’s steal

Meanwhile, in the real world of those who create, invent, explore, research, dig, weld, chop, farm, teach, cook, clean, saw, hammer, sand and paint—for all of us that do the work—we’re advancing by leaps and bounds. We’ve thought of, designed and manufactured robots that can do our work for us. We’ve made instant communication across the globe an everyday reality. We can exchange any information and have any books or films—anything electronically available—at our fingertips in a matter of seconds.

Just imagine if we used instant communication to democratically figure out how much stuff we really needed to produce to satisfy everyone. Then manufactured products of the highest quality, carefully and without waste of either materials or labor or polluting the environment. And then distributed them free to whoever wanted them according to a careful, mindful and democratically conceived, worldwide plan?

We have the tools, materials, wherewithal and human power to do all these things. Only the capitalist dictatorship stands in our way.

Capitalism is a roadblock to human progress

Private capitalist-control over the means of production and the accumulation of massive amounts of private wealth is only possible because the capitalists rule by force, by military might. The U.S. military—the most powerful military ever—is currently the biggest roadblock to human progress and to the ultimate goal of a peaceful and just world. The U.S. military is everywhere, implementing the will of the most powerful capitalist class in the world. The fulfillment of people’s needs could be accomplished. The material conditions necessary to do so are available. It just can’t happen under capitalism.

There are many of examples, but here are just three that illustrate how the capitalist profit motive—because it must come before human needs—stands in the way of human progress.

Fighting disease

In a February 5, 2013 New York Times article by Roger Bate titled, “Feeding a Disease With Fake Drugs,”

“In the largest study of its kind, to be published today in the International Journal of Tuberculosis and Lung Disease,  colleagues and I have found that fake and poorly made antibiotics are being widely used to treat tuberculosis. These substandard drugs are almost certainly making the disease more resistant to drugs, posing a grave health threat to communities around the world.

“Our research team collected samples of two commonly used medicines, isoniazid and rifampicin, from neighborhood pharmacies and markets in 17 countries where tuberculosis is pervasive across Africa, Asia, South America and Europe. Nearly one of every ten pills we collected failed to meet basic quality standards. In African countries, one in six pills were substandard.

“Failing pills typically had too little of the active ingredient—the molecule that destroys tuberculosis bacteria. Most of these drugs came from legitimate manufacturers; they were either poorly made or corroded in transit. The rest appeared genuine, but after researchers tested them and more closely analyzed the packaging, they turned out to be fakes—produced and distributed through criminal enterprises. A pack of fake pills might sell for a dollar on the streets of India, but estimates of the global market for fake drugs range into the tens-of-billions of dollars. …As long as substandard tuberculosis drugs are permitted in the marketplace, people will continue to die in pursuit of a cure. And without a coordinated response, growing resistance will eventually render even the highest quality drugs obsolete.”

The tragedy is that fierce competition for profit and the desperation of the poverty-stricken ill trumps pharmaceutical safety.

What this shows is that when the curing of disease is a for-profit business (and certainly the drug industry is one of the most profitable of them all), the quest for more profits will trump the cure—and, in fact as in this case—compound the disease and human suffering.

The environment

According to a very short New York Times article by the Associated Press dated February 15, 2013 titled, “Washington: Storage Tank at Nuclear Site Is Leaking,”

“A tank that holds radioactive liquid at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation, the nation’s most contaminated nuclear site, is leaking, Gov. Jay Inslee said Friday. The news raises concerns about the site’s other storage tanks, which hold millions of gallons of a highly radioactive stew left from decades of plutonium production for nuclear weapons. The federal Department of Energy said that liquid levels were falling in one of 177 underground tanks, but that monitoring wells near the tank had not detected higher radiation levels. Mr. Inslee said the leak could be in between 150 and 300 gallons a year. A plant being built to treat the waste is billions of dollars over budget and years behind schedule.”

Again, the need to put profits above all other considerations allows the leakage of nuclear waste into our environment. It’s not that the cleanup can’t be done technically, but it won’t be done if it cuts too much into profits!

Can’t even reap what we sow

And, in a February 15, 2013 New York Times article by Andrew Pollack titled, “Farmer’s Supreme Court Challenge Puts Monsanto Patents at Risk,”

“With his mere 300 acres of soybeans, corn and wheat, Vernon Hugh Bowman said, “I’m not even big enough to be called a farmer.” Yet the 75-year-old farmer from southwestern Indiana will face off …against the world’s largest seed company, Monsanto, in a Supreme Court case that could have a huge impact on the future of genetically modified crops, and also affect other fields from medical research to software. At stake in Mr. Bowman’s case is whether patents on seeds—or other things that can self-replicate—extend beyond the first generation of the products. … Monsanto says that a victory for Mr. Bowman would allow farmers to essentially save seeds from one year’s crop to plant the next year, eviscerating patent protection. In Mr. Bowman’s part of Indiana, it says, a single acre of soybeans can produce enough seeds to plant 26 acres the next year.”

Oh! The horror! That a farmer could contemplate doing what farmers have done for millions of years, i.e., plant seeds from a previous harvest!

The article goes on,

“Such a ruling would ‘devastate innovation in biotechnology,’ the company wrote in its brief. ‘Investors are unlikely to make such investments if they cannot prevent purchasers of living organisms containing their invention from using them to produce unlimited copies.’ … Farmers who plant seeds with Monsanto’s technology must sign an agreement not to save the seeds, which means they must buy new seeds every year. … After Monsanto sued Mr. Bowman in 2007, a district court in Indiana awarded the company more than $84,000. The Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, which specializes in patent cases, upheld that decision, saying that by planting the seeds Mr. Bowman had created newly infringing articles.”

The quest for profit trumps all reason

These three examples out of a multitude of examples that appear in the newspapers every day illustrate the irrationality of the capitalist mode of production for private profit. Even planting a seed is turned into a crime if it cuts into profits! When profit comes first, human progress is sidelined.

Where have all the profits gone?

Make no mistake about it; the commanders of capital, the “one percent,” are doing better than ever. According to an article by Annie Lowrey, titled “Incomes Flat in Recovery, but Not for the One Percent,” that appeared in the February 15, 2013 New York Times,

“Incomes rose more than 11 percent for the top one percent of earners during the economic recovery, but not at all for everybody else, according to new data. The numbers, produced by Emmanuel Saez, an economist at the University of California, Berkeley, show overall income growing by just 1.7 percent over the period. But there was a wide gap between the top one percent, whose earnings rose by 11.2 percent, and the other 99 percent, whose earnings declined by 0.4 percent.”

Capitalists are in deadly competition with each other and they don’t care who gets in the way

There is method to the madness of capitalism. It keeps consolidating wealth into fewer and fewer hands. And it will continue its feeding frenzy off the rest of humanity until the last dime on Earth has been conquered—even if they have to kill everyone else and the planet in the process.

They can’t stop themselves! Their quest for profit trumps rational thought! And they will continue this race to barbarism, that is, if we, the 99 percent, let them!

Ironically, due to the very nature of capitalism itself—the dictatorship of a tiny minority, over the overwhelming majority of humanity—it’s the capitalist ruling class who are at a distinct disadvantage. We workers overwhelmingly outnumber them. And without us to labor for them and carry their guns for them, they would have no power, no police, no armies to enforce their dictatorship.

This gives us, the majority, the decisive edge to further human progress by ending the rule of capitalism and its production-for-profit modus operandi.

It gives us the power to put in its place a socialist system of production for human need and want instead of for private profit.

We have all the resources, tools and knowhow to democratically redesign the whole economic system to provide for all human needs and wants without wars, oppression or environmental destruction.

It’s simply a matter of recognizing that the Earth belongs to everyone and each person has something to contribute toward the welfare of all and the planet itself. And that each of us has the inalienable right to share equally in the fruits of our labor.

Democratically planned socialism is the only rational approach to ensuring a bright future for all.

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