("Quid coniuratio est?")
[The following appeared previously in the January 4, 1994, "Conspiracy for the Day".]
Holidays and Humbug
Editorial from The International Workers Bulletin December 20, 1993
While the population is inundated with reminders that this is the season of Peace on Earth, Good Will Towards Men, giant corporations look anxiously towards their bottom line: December sales account for the bulk of retail profits, and the month is the last chance to fire thousands of workers and take a big write-off on next year's taxes.
Nearly 150 years ago, English novelist Charles Dickens created the character of Ebeneezer Scrooge in his story, A Christmas Carol. Scrooge's habit, when hailed with holiday greetings, was to utter the immortal, "Bah, humbug!" Considering the current outpouring of hypocritical rubbish dumped on an unsuspecting public, one might be tempted to say that Scrooge had a point.
-+- Ruling class "good wishes" -+-
The ruling class, guilty of so many monstrous crimes and outrages, is beyond altruism. What do its "good wishes" mean?
Everywhere, in communities large and small, there is a growth of poverty and deprivation. Economic hardship produces tragedies, great and small, on a daily basis -- house foreclosures, evictions, personal bankruptcies, divorces, domestic violence, crime, drug abuse, alcoholism, neglect of the elderly and sick, deaths by fire due to poor housing, suicide.
A firm's announcement that it is eliminating 10,000 jobs does not elicit a protest from a single source; it is only a guarantee that the share values of the company in question will rise. That the loss of employment may very well mean the loss of a home, medical care, retirement benefits, pension -- in fact, descent into a social abyss -- is well known and understood in the media, but no one turns a hair. There is only one conception which guides the ruling class: profits are everything!
[Yet the ruling class is not totally silent] in the face of the economic and social calamity it has wrought. It explains the crisis... as a crisis of spiritual values. The Wall Street Journal, whose name says everything that one needs to know about the values of its editors, is taking the lead in this regard.
The December 10 Journal carried an article by William J. Bennett, the former Secretary of Education in the Reagan-Bush era [and] now a fellow at the ultra-right Heritage Foundation, [in which Bennett bemoans] the fact that there "is a callousness, a cynicism, a banality and a vulgarity to our time..." [Bennett adds:] "In my view the real crisis of our time is spiritual." Bennett blamed the troubles of American society on "an undue concern for external affairs and worldly things" on the part of the ordinary people.
The Reagan-Bush years are already synonymous with greed, selfishness and the wholesale looting of the economy and the state apparatus. As Secretary of Education, Bennett dedicated himself to the destruction of public education and, specifically, presided over the slashing of the school lunch program. It was his department which decided to classify ketchup as a vegetable in the meals served to millions of children in order to satisfy nutritional requirements at a lower cost. Scrooge had nothing on Bennett and company!
Having no means with which to provide the population with food, decent housing and social services, the powers that be tell the masses that a concern with those elementary facts of life is vulgar and material.
At heart, Bennett's fraudulent project of a national spiritual rebirth, as well as the homilies about the holiday season -- peace, harmony, good will, charity, universal brotherhood -- cannot be reconciled with a society which glorifies only wealth and personal enrichment and condemns masses to poverty.
Standing on the threshold of the new year, we can say with conviction that the foundations of many social illusions held onto by the masses in America are in the process of being shattered -- in bourgeois democracy and the two-party system, in the "death" of communism, in the prospects for peace and prosperity in the post-Cold War world, in the Clinton administration itself. Even greater shocks are in store for the working class and the oppressed in 1994.
The crisis of capitalism is historic and systemic. While the ruling class, because of the rottenness of the outmoded labor organizations, may temporarily have the initiative, Bennett's comments indicate its ideological and intellectual bankruptcy. It has nothing to offer the masses but "pie in the sky" while it prepares further social misery and bloodier, ever-wider wars.
I encourage distribution of "Conspiracy Nation."
Coming to you from Illinois -- "The Land of Skolnick"