~ SCARCITY MENTALITY ~
The following was was inspired by a quote from Re-evaluation Counseling. A service at my Unitarian church focusing on Workers' rights also coincided with the various protest movements throughout the US in late March 2006, against new and more restrictive immigration laws (including half a million people marching in Los Angeles for immigrants' rights). My current thinking on the confusion in Capitalism and Common Man's fate within it was also expressed in the first poem I posted.
Some of the wisdom I learned in my various travels is to forgive if not forget. To see the humanness behind every person I perceive as a monster at the time. Or the attempted kindness behind every perceived aggression. I believe that we all operate on three cylinders (meaning, one less than the optimal), because of the distress that we carry and makes us confused. However, neither the distress nor the confusion are actually 'us' in and of themselves.
"When capitalism replaced feudalism, it tended to replace all previous standards of judgment and human activities by the standard of profitability". This quote suggests how a lot of oppressions ("isms" such as racism, etc.) are kept in place, in order to keep the system alive and profitable. Not that capitalism has cornered the market on oppression... and some are far worse as my parents can vouch for! But it's more sneaky and pervasive than ever before, in the ways that actions or mores that are rationally destructive, become irrationally acceptable (in other words what is destructive when looked at it with a rational eye, seems OK when looked at with an irrational eye - SUVs are a prime example, they guzzle gas but are 'the' thing in the US). But what makes it so, at this point in time?
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What keeps checks-and-balances in place, I think, are alternative modes of thinking if not regimes... and Capitalism has no serious competition today! There are left- and right-wing regimes (e.g.: Communism and Facism) that have fallen off, and there are more and less progressive parties (Unions and Churches) that are struggling. Noam Chomsky wrote to me once that active Liberalism died over a generation ago with the flagging Civil Rights movement. I replied to him that the confusion around race killed Civil Rights, because people couldn't separate race issues from economic ones. The poor White competed against the poor non-White (note the color by which we are described). In other words, the fight for the freedom from oppression of non-Whites, got lost in the fight for resources that are portrayed to be scarce.
Scarcity mentality is the sneakiest oppression that keeps everything in place, as it turns allies against each other. By that I mean that we all are afraid that something important might run out - love, money, work, foods, etc. Again, Capitalism is not the only regime to do that. But Capitalism is based on profitability, and market forces are based on the availability of goods and services (prices go up and down as a function of availability, time is even tied to monetary value through interest). The perceived scarcity of goods and services is thus endemic to Capitalism, through the fear of the disappearance of those goods and services. Even when Capitalism achieved excess capacity as it has since the Industrial Revolution, scarcity remained rooted in our collective psyche (war and famine are not soon forgotten). It is also reinforced when catastrophes hit us (hurricanes in the US and tsunamis afar). And fear of it is blasted at us through news of wars and weather near and far.
We are in process of moving back to Europe from the US. In my transition I became keenly aware how important it is to separate our actions from our selves. There's a lot of crazy-making around me today... As my workplace tries to convince itself that it's right and I'm wrong. As the US government tries to make undocumented people outside the law. As Shiites and Sunnis in Iraq, or Palestinians and Jews in Israel, try to annihilate the other. But both Star Wars Episode III or Ben-Hur nearly half a century before, illustrated how dangerous it is to see all in black-and-white (both movies say, to paraphrase, if you are not for me you are against me). I found a lot of peace and clearer thinking when I can forgive and let go. If I can see past my own distress, I am more likely to see past others' distresses. Then I can communicate more easily and get closer to others. That is what we all crave. Not all the mechanisms invented by society, and largely revolving around scarcity; that gets in the way, and scarcity must not rule us: We must get close to each other, and stand together!"