I really dislike when people in the U.S. use that phrase to describe what the supposed situation is like here is as opposed to what they think in their classist/racist imaginations it is like “there”. Here-there-every where, many of us inhabit all those spaces! It buys into the American dream and the idea “we” are losing our position on top, that we are losing our unique status, that we are losing our “specialness” which is all about economics – the marketing of the American dream that has never, ever included most of us. And in the end, it does nothing to understand or even seek to correct the reality that we use much more of the world’s resources than the rest of the world and that we actually stole those resources from the rest of the world so we could live 1st World lives of luxury or really, for most of us –>going for living wage jobs, affordable housing/health care/education that are fast becoming a pipe dream for the marjority of us living in the U.S. of A. Can any one say U.S. multinational-led imperialism enforced by a newly integrated U.S. military?
In speaking of the 3rd Worldification of the U.S., this phrase is not about the super rich who keep getting richer, it is about tsssking our communities, while we all watch the demise of the public spheres which they care nothing about, the common spaces of society/ the social safety net which our communities created with our $ and rely on since we are often excluded from the private spheres because we don’t have the lana to afford them. We who have been third world for a long time, right here in the mist of the land of the brave and the home of the free.
The reality is that we live either in over-developed societies, those developed at the expense of who we are and our connections to the rest of the world, at the expense of the most of the global south, of our own 3rd world communities here, and at the expense of nature, of la Madre Tierra, our only home; or we live in underdeveloped societies where we cannot get our basic needs met. And the reality is, the world’s majority is becoming poorer and poorer both in material resources and in providing for our most basic survival needs.
Marx’ critique of capitalism by putting forth the concept, “To each according to his ability, to each according to his need” shows us where we need to go. Howard Zinn, among others, has demonstrated, the rich have never pulled themselves up by their bootstraps (not a value anyway!) but by the hoarding of capital through ruling class connections, corporate welfare galore, by the exploitation of poor and working people’s labor power, and by the destruction of the earth through mining and other kinds of extractions.
With the U.S. economy becoming more and more disarticulated unwilling and unable to meet people’s needs due to the hoarding greed of the elites. So, once again, in the Great Recession, yet another capitalist crisis where the government needs to step in to provide tons of corporate welfare to prop up the too-big-to-fail corporations that its lack of regulation allowed to grow to threaten the very system that promotes them in the first place, provides an opportunity. Look to the people of Egypt, Bahrain, Algeria, Libya, Yemen, Palestine, Wisconsin.
To live simply, to hold the thieves accountable, not because we want to hoard those riches they stole, but because we want lives full of dignity, to provide for our own needs in order to build strong caring communities with levels of self determination and autonomy. What does that mean exactly in a capitalist economy that creates needs through “liberating” choices of 20 different brands of deodorants/laundry detergents/toilet bowl cleaners? We need to rethink our ideas of what development is.
In other words/en otras palabras, we need to continue to expose all the contradictions between a rapacious capitalist economy in a dismantling democracy and as thinking people, not to be on the side of the executioners as Camus said, quoted by Zinn, but on the side of the newly liberated formerly-waiting-to-be-executed communities.
Living below our means is a start, do we really need the fastest computer, the latest pda model and all those things that come at such a great cost to us (look what Intel Corp. has done to the Colorado River water in Nuevo México), and to our communities because their production is destroying our only home? We can live uncomplicated sustainable lives where we don’t horde riches, but provide for our basic needs, and some resources for fun, as we transform our lives!
- Don’t Mourn – Organize. Celebrating the life of Howard Zinn (stillisstillmoving.com)