Sunday, December 23, 2007

Happy Wage-Slave-Off Days!

Isn't it nice tsanta claus marxo have a few days off from work, warming the cockles of our overgenerous souls after spending the past year producing large sums of wealth for the parasite class, singing Santa songs by the hearth, drinking mulled wine and pretty much anything else that will get us tipsy, opening our presents, and living those few golden days of celebration that we would wish for the other days of the year as well? But these holidays will end all too soon. We have barely begun to relax in our holiday mode when the alarm clock awakens us once again and we are back in the traffic. Back to returning home in the evening to a mail box as stuffed with bills as were the stockings with gifts just a few brief days ago.

There are so many things worth celebrating, for sure. Our children's birthdays. And a thousand victories for slaves, minorities, workers and women. But the birth of a baby who likely never existed and who spearheaded a movement whose work ethic seemed to fit in rather nicely with the decline of slavery and the rise of capitalism?

Capitalism requires a censoring of egoism since its basis is the benign production of profits for the ruling class by us, the idiot wage slave class. Never mind that the egoism of our employers is not in question, we who produce their wealth must slavishly do so with a sense of pride and joy. And then the rich have the cheek to expect us to give generously from our hard-earned but meager wages and salaries to a host of charities that promise to somewhat alleviate the suffering of fellow workers who would not be suffering in the first place if most of the wealth we produced went to us, the producers, instead of to them, the owners.

Charity? Let's have a little CLARITY! Let's get real. This Christian ethic is what keeps us in our place. What we need is a lot MORE egoism, not a lot less. What we need is to demand nothing less than the entire world for ourselves. And then I won't feel quite so silly singing Jingle Bells. Such a revolution would certainly give the capitalist class something to sing about.

It is hard to understand all this gift-giving if not in the context of our poverty. In our relative poverty as working people (relative because we might not be in absolute poverty, we might earn a half-decent salary but still never have enough to stop working for the class that owns the means of production) the things we produce have acquired a fetishistic quality.

We yearn for next year's model, every year. In our state of propertylessness, commodities acquire a special quality, a magical sheen of wholesomeness. Our separation from the goods of our own production which makes us incomplete has lent commodities a voice that promises to render us whole again. It is indeed a joy to give and to receive when our lives are always spent paying bills and budgeting those pieces of paper the bosses give us for working so hard.

In this world of alienation from the things we produce, it is the very act of exchange that has risen to an angelic level, as high as the angel on the top of the Christmas tree. The feeling of saintliness obtained by giving objects produced by other workers to members of the family is an example of this perversion. We are like pigeons rejoicing over the crumbs dropped by humans on the sidewalk. Where is our own substance, our own value, or have we become entirely subsumed by the values of commodity production?

Yes, it is really nice to take off a few days from work to revel in gift-giving and merry-making, but it is no substitute for taking off our lives from work on a permanent basis. Capitalism is a society that has transformed the planet into a giant labor camp only because most of humanity is denied access to the means of production. We are forced to work most days of the week, most weeks of the year, and most years of our lives, as there is no other way for us to get what we need to survive.

But get a little greedier, and start demanding your right to enjoy the fruits of the modern age without working so damn hard, and all of a sudden taking becomes more important than giving. Paradoxically, the more we insist on taking, the more we will have to share. It is as though the Christmas values of giving maintain our lot as those without enough to share amongst us in any meaningful sense. But the more we contrast the Christian value of giving with the revolutionary value of taking, the more we have to actually share! And I don't just mean the last roll of wrapping paper and the bowl of punch either.
I mean the whole bloody world.

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