Dear Dirty America


On Job Creation

May 21
16:12 2012

Marx considered the capitalists the vanguard party for humanity, during the period leading up to the Europe-wide failed revolutions of 1848, revolutions by what he saw as the working class, against the rule of the capitalists.

He saw the capitalists, also known as the bourgeoisie, as the go-getters who organized otherwise unproductive laborers in the towns, who had either managed to get free of the feudal system, or had been unable to establish a place for themselves (and therefore a means of survival) within it.

For Marx, the bourgeoisie were the entrepreneurs who were creatively destroying the feudal system–until 1848.

Today’s USA Republican leadership have the same position, except that they don’t consider that anything has changed since 1848.  They see employers, whatever they hire anyone to do, on whatever terms, as the saviors of those who would be serfs or starve, otherwise.
And there is an element of truth in it–no small element of truth, either.

Many who work for wages, or who desperately want to work for wages, should be very grateful to those who employ them, and should favor a government that gets out of their way, even helps them do their deeds.

But many who work for wages do so as grudging slaves, unable to find a better way to survive, tyrannized over by oblivious or unscrupulous owners of equipment and organization and those who manage the equipment and organization for them. Many work at jobs that pollute the environment, but dare not quit, or even think about it. Many work at jobs that are legal scams. Many work at jobs that provide foolish entertainments to people who need to be saved from terrible situations, rather than entertained–saved, or provided the means of saving themselves. And many, of course, are desperate for any kind of job, in order to buy food, shelter, a bit of safety, a bit of hygiene, for themselves and for any who are dependent on them.

Some wage-earners and some desperate to become wage-earners, it’s true, have bad habits, especially bad thinking and feeling habits, that disqualify them from thriving.  In some cases, it’s their own fault.  In other cases, it’s the result of their upbringing and environment. (Usually, it’s a combination.)  And some have better habits than billionaires’ habits, but they suffer nevertheless–“too bad, so sad”–bad luck.

If you are willing to go along with Marx to the extent of assenting that the capitalists were the vaguard class of humanity–at least western European (and colonies) humanity during the period of, say, 848 to 1848–then what about since 1848?

Marx had it that the revolutions of 1848, during the period of breakneck pre-electricity industrialization in Europe approximately equivalent to the industrialization of China in the last 40 or so years, was a kind of general strike, and an attempt by the workers, who had no coherent program or leadership, and not much ability to sustain a revolution, to overthrow the tyranny of their new kings and princes. Working conditions were abysmal, generally–though I’m sure there must have been enlightened and generous bosses.

Long, dirty hours. Wages sufficient to keep workers alive to work another day. Take it or leave it.  Mainly.

There are always plenty of exceptions to the sort of generalizations I am writing in, now.

Lenin took Marx’s ideas and put them into effect in a way Marx hadn’t imagined, in Russia, which was primarily feudal, still. The working class, or proletariat, was a tiny minority (as it has again become in the USA and in western Europe today). Peasants, some nearly serfs, a minority small landowners who profited by providing goods and services to the rest, predominated. There were few capitalists, as well. And many hereditary nobles, the heirs of feudal lords, and, in many cases, still feudal lords. Russia was a near-totalitarian police state, before the Communists took over, as well as afterward. The police had arrested Lenin’s elder brother, for revolutionary activities, and he had been executed.

Lenin didn’t cause the revolution of 1917 in Russia, any more than he had caused earlier insurrections–but he took it over. He was the only one who acted as though he was sure how to get Russia past its dysfunctional chaos, including getting it out of its part in what we now call World War I.

He got Russia out of World War I, by ceding more than half of the industrialized Russian Empire, the western part, to Germany. That satisfied the Germans, who were eager to get on with winning the war on the western front.

At home, Lenin set up a government (during a period in which there was, in effect, no government)–getting rid of anyone less ruthless, in many cases having them killed, setting Trotsky’s Red Army against the forces of reaction and of moderate democracy, and secret police against any libertarians or free spirits, and against the better-off peasants who were hoarding food during famine times, and against any of the poorer peasants, too, whom they didn’t bother to distinguish from the better-off sort. Millions died or were otherwise ruined.

Lenin was shot in an assassination attempt. He didn’t die right away. It took a few years. Meanwhile, Stalin, always glad to take on as much responsibility as he was allowed to assume, gained more and more infuence over him, while Trotsky was busy winning the Civil War. Stalin had achieved his high-up position among the cadre (that is, the vanguard group, around which the revolution was to be built by the proletariat the cadre would enlighten and lead, per Marx), by pulling off bank robberies during the period leading up to Lenin’s seizing power, and getting the loot to Lenin.

(Saint) Paul of Tarsus, who begged for the money, gained clout in the early Christian hierarchy, similarly–sending the money from Greek-speaking parts of the Roman Empire, to the impoverished hierarchs back in what’s now called Israel and Palestine.

Okay, but Russia is sort of a side issue, as much as Paul & Christianity. So is China. So are George Washington and Alexander Hamilton, Mahatma Gandhi, and Nelson Mandela.

Job creators are indeed leaders of humanity. They organize people who are better off in most cases than if they weren’t organized. In some cases, they are spectacularly better off. In many more cases, they still have reason to be grateful to their employers. In many other cases, they are minimally better off–or they’d quit–but miserable.

If they could do better, presumably, they would. They should create jobs for themselves–they should be entrepreneurs–if only they knew that they should, & knew how.

Then there are the capitalists who produce no jobs at all, but collect money as a result of previous investments, by themselves or by those from whom they are descended. (Some probably make valuable contributions to humanity’s well-being, most probably don’t.) And, of course, there are capitalists who make money by destroying far more jobs than they create, in the name of efficiency. And it IS efficient, usually–except if you’re the one cut adrift. It’s negative job-creation, and, usually, very profitable for the negative job-creators, who are often subsidized by governments.

As for the cadre supposedly leading the proletariat: in effect, it becomes a kind of cooperative capitalist class, appropriating all executive decisions to itself, and dividing up the loot, which is appropriated from the individual capitalists–and, also, from the wage-earners–& preening–the important people, the elect, of their generations. All hail!–or don’t.

This was blatantly the case, for instance, in the recently deceased Soviet Union. It’s also so, on a far more attenuated basis, among various social democratic parties (like those Lenin pushed aside). Obvious instances are the social democrats who presided over Germany’s Weimar Republic so ineffectively that the electorate, in desperation, elected Hitler; the UK’s Labour Party; and the USA’s Democratic Party.

It’s also a good description of most unions, at least til recently. What’s happening among them now, I don’t know. As opposed to revolutionary unions like the IWW–whose leaders were hunted down & executed. (But how would those leaders have behaved, had they triumphed, like the Communists did in Russia or China?)

I don’t want it thought that I am a Marxist or a revolutionary.

I wish I could be a revolutionary, I’m so indignant about the status quo. But I see how revolutions kill & ruin lots of people, & the same sorts of tyrants, totalitarian or otherwise, deluded or cynical, take over, afterward. Til, in despair, approximately everyone withdraws their support, & there is a mad scramble among lesser tyrants, for power–a kind of anarchic feudalism, as is currently gaining momentum in the USA.

There are job-creators who are truly benefactors of humanity, leaders of many people, providers.

Long live true benefactors of humanity, job-creators or otherwise! Can I help?

And there are job-creators who are tyrants.

And there are plenty of people who–in the name of job creation–find their collection of unearned profits subsidized by the government, at the expense of everyone else, especially those most in need.

And there are all kinds of people proposing themselves as leaders of humanity, taking this or that over-simplified position, with more or less success, and, when successful, taking more or less money for themselves, more or less power, more or less celebrity and apparent importance, e.g., jetting around non-stop having discussions and making agreements that help no one except those in a position and shrewd enough to manipulate them, for this or that extra special advantage.

Eric Chaet, The Turnaround Artist, born Chicago, USA, 1945, raised on rough South Side, pre-computer factory, office, & warehouse jobs. Some teaching, some independent self-taught technical consulting. 1974, Old Buzzard of No-Man’s Land, poems, Toronto, Canada. 1977, Solid and Sound, vinyl LP of songs, Lee’s Summit, Missouri, USA.  Mid-80s to mid-90s, silkscreened, hitchhiked, & stapled 1500 cloth posters to utility poles along American highways.  1990, How To Change the World Forever For Better, brief prose philosophy, Greenleaf, Wisconsin, USA; 2nd edition, 1994.  2001, People I Met Hitchhiking On USA Highways, mostly narrative prose, De Pere, Wisconsin, USA.  Lives in Wisconsin, industrialized dairy farms & cows, remnant cheese & paper factories & factory hands & outlaw mammals & birds, post-construction boom, reactionary politics & obsolete machinery, a smattering of professionals & millionaires.  Poems published, over 50 years in many USA states, plus Brazil, Cuba, Ireland, Scotland, England, Spain, France, Belgium, Netherlands, Sweden, Switzerland, Nepal, India, China, Singapore, Korea, & Taiwan, often in translation. 

You can contact him at the Leave a Reply box on each page of his website, 100 Peculiarly Useful So-Called Poems, <>.

Find Chaet’s book, People I Met Hitchhiking USA Highwaysand read a review written here.     See also, There’s still a little breath in the old American Revolution

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