Whenever I come across a gem I make a mental note to share it. An essay by Albert Einstein, legendary ladies man, thinker on the race problem, and genius numero uno, seemed quite fitting given the political moment of the last few weeks.
In the aftermath of the Right's continued assault on organized labor and the American Middle Class as manifest by Governor Scott Walker's skulduggery in Wisconsin, I have been wondering if we have finally reached "the crisis moment" (as legendary political philosophers Michel Foucault and Slavoj Zizek would describe it). Or stated differently: is this time of rising corporate profits and record unemployment, an inflated stock market, and the continued gutting of the social contract, one in which the New Right knuckledraggers of the Tea Party brigades and the detritus of the Reagan Democrats will come to see that they are in fact with "us" and not "them?"
Ultimately, pragmatists (of which I count myself), moderates, progressives, liberals, and reasoned conservatives need to wake up and realize that the Tea Party GOP assault on collective bargaining, efforts to silence dissenting voices at NPR and PBS, and the Right-wing's big lies of "liberal racism," "birtherism," and "White oppression" are all tied together. The Tea Party GOP is playing a long, deep game. The other side is left in the dust, hand-ringing and confused, as they try to take the moral high road to no where. As I have long said, it is time to put on the brass knuckles and fight back. But alas, it may be too late as the battle is in its denouement.
Thus, Albert Einstein's brilliant explication of his own political beliefs seemed quite appropriate. Here are some select excerpts from his classic essay Why Socialism?
Please share, consider, and reflect, as Einstein's words speak eloquently to our troubled times.
I have now reached the point where I may indicate briefly what to me constitutes the essence of the crisis of our time. It concerns the relationship of the individual to society. The individual has become more conscious than ever of his dependence upon society. But he does not experience this dependence as a positive asset, as an organic tie, as a protective force, but rather as a threat to his natural rights, or even to his economic existence. Moreover, his position in society is such that the egotistical drives of his make-up are constantly being accentuated, while his social drives, which are by nature weaker, progressively deteriorate. All human beings, whatever their position in society, are suffering from this process of deterioration. Unknowingly prisoners of their own egotism, they feel insecure, lonely, and deprived of the naive, simple, and unsophisticated enjoyment of life. Man can find meaning in life, short and perilous as it is, only through devoting himself to society.
The economic anarchy of capitalist society as it exists today is, in my opinion, the real source of the evil...
Private capital tends to become concentrated in few hands, partly because of competition among the capitalists, and partly because technological development and the increasing division of labor encourage the formation of larger units of production at the expense of the smaller ones. The result of these developments is an oligarchy of private capital the enormous power of which cannot be effectively checked even by a democratically organized political society. This is true since the members of legislative bodies are selected by political parties, largely financed or otherwise influenced by private capitalists who, for all practical purposes, separate the electorate from the legislature. The consequence is that the representatives of the people do not in fact sufficiently protect the interests of the underprivileged sections of the population. Moreover, under existing conditions, private capitalists inevitably control, directly or indirectly, the main sources of information (press, radio, education). It is thus extremely difficult, and indeed in most cases quite impossible, for the individual citizen to come to objective conclusions and to make intelligent use of his political rights.
The situation prevailing in an economy based on the private ownership of capital is thus characterized main principles: first, means of production (capital) are privately owned and the owners dispose of them as they see fit; second, the labor contract is free. Of course, there is no such thing as a pure capitalist society in this sense. In particular, it should be noted that the workers, through long and bitter political struggles, have succeeded in securing a somewhat improved form of the "free labor contract" for certain categories of workers. But taken as a whole, the present-day economy does not differ much from "pure" capitalism.
Production is carried on for profit, not for use. There is no provision that all those able and willing to work will always be in a position to find employment; an "army of unemployed" almost always exists. The worker is constantly in fear of losing his job. Since unemployed and poorly paid workers do not provide a profitable market, the production of consumers' goods is restricted, and great hardship is the consequence. Technological progress frequently results in more unemployment rather than in an easing of the burden of work for all. The profit motive, in conjunction with competition among capitalists, is responsible for an instability in the accumulation and utilization of capital which leads to increasingly severe depressions. Unlimited competition leads to a huge waste of labor, and to that crippling of the social consciousness of individuals which I mentioned before.
This crippling of individuals I consider the worst evil of capitalism. Our whole educational system suffers from this evil. An exaggerated competitive attitude is inculcated into the student, who is trained to worship acquisitive success as a preparation for his future career.
I am convinced there is only one way to eliminate these grave evils, namely through the establishment of a socialist economy, accompanied by an educational system which would be oriented toward social goals...