What Did the Poor Ever Do to You?

I had a cushy seat job. Then I got laid off.

Now I’m back to doing what I was meant to do: warehouse labor.

I’ve held managerial positions. And one thing you learn quickly about the job is that it’s all bullshit. You only do things to make the company look good. It doesn’t actually contribute to any sort of “material bottom-line” if you will.

In fact, the higher up the ladder you climb…the more useless you become. Hell, I’d venture to say that the most useless person in the company is the CEO. Yet that person is probably the most expensive item in the ENTIRE COMPANY.

The far more important people are at the bottom. But don’t tell anyone in America that because that sounds WAY too much like “socialism”.

Sure, developers, engineers, planners, etc. all design a “product”. But it’s really just an idea. Technically, you can “own” an idea, but who actually has to execute the plan? Usually, it’s the mechanics and hard laborers that have to execute YOUR idea. And for some strange reason (because America hates poor people), the laborers who actually physically execute the purpose of the company are the low men (and women) on the totem pole.

And it’s because they aren’t “skilled”, even though that’s an idea that doesn’t mean shit. That’s a term that people use to help themselves sleep at night because they’re essentially ripping off poor people.

“So you want to pay people $15 an hour to flip burgers?” Some asshole is asking me.

Yes.

What purpose does McDonald’s serve? Come on, we all know why they exist. It’s to fucking serve burgers to their customers who demand their product! And who is serving those burgers? Is it the CEO? Is it the accountants and legal staff? Is it the developers?

No. It’s the mother fucking laborer that’s flipping the burger and serving the customer. That person IS McDonald’s.

And as a side note, every time I go into a McDonald’s…it doesn’t matter where….yes, there are usually fuck-ups, but guess what? Those assholes are actually WORKING their asses off to deliver YOU a product that you can shove into your fat fucking pie hole. And for some reason, people like to give these employees shit for fucking up an order that will probably only end up killing you later.

But think it through!

What if you were getting paid $7.25 an hour to serve the VERY REASON THE COMPANY EXISTS?

Honestly, I’m surprised people aren’t absolutely PISSED about this. Well, to be fair, there are people who are pissed. But how is this not an international outrage? The people who actually execute the purpose of the company, or the “unskilled” labor force…are the most expendable people in the entire organization.

That’s insane. But when you grow up under insanity, then insanity appears SANE. Which is why minimum wage has failed to keep up with the times and labor unions have dwindled. Because we’ve convinced ourselves that the strongman at the top is the true genius…the REAL shaker and mover of the universe.

And we’ve taken the power out of our own hands.

The CEO might conceive an idea. But does he execute it?

No.

It’s you and me that have to do his bidding. And we accept whatever compensation that he offers.

So again, we’ve convinced ourselves that we aren’t in control…even though an “unskilled” labor force greatly exceeds any “skilled” one. We’ve allowed those at the top of the ladder to peddle their fairy tales of “genius” and “hard work”….that they are the true saviors of modern society because they “sacrifice” capital to employ the labor force that is the majority population.

Capitalism is a religion. And we are being duped.

ANYWAYS….

Even though my cushy desk job was nice, it felt like I “sold out”. It was devastating when I got laid off, of course, but what was that job leading towards anyway? A career?!

In what?! Pretending to work?!

And I got paid WELL above minimum wage to do it. So because I was a college graduate, with a certain “skill set”, I looked the part. And on that criteria, the company felt justified to pay me what they did. Because there is no way they would pay a non-college graduate without a “skill set” to do that job. Even though a perfectly unskilled laborer could have EASILY done that job.

Why?

Because  that job existed only to make the company look good. It served no vital function whatsoever. (Which would likely explain why I was laid off)

And I had co-workers…that did the EXACT same job: nothing. Not only did I have co-workers, I had MANAGERS! What did they manage? I suppose all of our collective productivity of nothing. But someone had to do it. And they got paid A LOT of money to do it. So we had a lot of people getting paid A LOT of money to basically make the company look good which is pretty much a non-essential function of the organization.

Meanwhile, the entry-level employees that carry out the purpose of the company are getting shafted.

Look, maybe the company realized that they were basically flushing money down the toilet and laid us all off. But this just goes to show that just because someone has a fancy title and a fat paycheck…that doesn’t mean that they actually serve a purpose. And in all likelihood they probably don’t.

When I lost that job, I thought that my career was over. But those ambitions were only a mirage. Best case scenario, I would have continued being promoted….higher and higher to the point farthest away from any purpose.

The labor I do now is demanding. It isn’t “skilled”, and some dickhead would probably think that this work is beneath me. And if you think that, then go fuck yourself. But this is REAL work. I’m contributing to the “material bottom line” or to the purpose of the company’s existence.

We may be the “low men on the totem pole”, but without us….there wouldn’t be a company.

The Proletariat: Divided and Conquered

There was once a time, that if someone ever brought up Karl Marx, someone else would inevitably have something to say about it. If I bring up Marx today, who cares? Because of the Cold War, which wasn’t that long ago, Marxism was tied up with the Soviet Union…even though it’s debatable if Marxism can be linked to Leninism or Stalinism. Left-Right, it didn’t matter, people had opinions about socialism and communism.

This is what people did in the era before the internet. Communism, or anything that sounded like communism, was to be shunned or mocked. Because to certain political factions, clearly capitalism defeated Marxism altogether. It just goes to show how quickly times have changed.

Anyways, that maybe neither here nor there.

But Marxist theory of freedom (which is a subject I’ve been visiting a lot lately, particularly with my “new theology”) would argue that people find their maximal freedom within their relations with others, or the interaction with their community. I suppose because we are communal by nature. This contrasts heavily against the traditionally liberal emphasis on individuality. And that was the path towards human emancipation.

Now, as a side note, under the “new theology”, self emancipation is derived out of renouncing the linking of identity to material objects (not all that dissimilar to Marx, I guess) and seeing the self as an ever-changing subject. I’ve also suggested that that might include having to overcome personal/social expectations that are placed onto the individual because those are inhibitors to personal growth. Additionally, under the “new theology”, history doesn’t progress in any Hegelian-like form. If anything, there isn’t a direction to history I would argue. Nor should there be. So while there might be some overlapping in principles between Marx and myself, this is ultimately not a Marxist project.

Okay? Glad we got that out of the way.

But what’s REALLY driving me towards re-investigating Marx is the string of losses that the Democratic Party of the United States have faced recently.

Before I get into that, I should explain that Karl Marx was all about the proletariat. Or, as it’s classically defined, those whose only skill is their labor. Marx believed that it was this class of people that were best positioned to ignite a communist revolution. BUT, as it’s generally assumed, this class had to be UNITED if they were to spark any sort of revolution whatsoever.

Now in the United States, this sort of terminology is not widely used with political discourse. Terms like “class warfare” and “proletariat” are too closely related to Marxism. The Cold War stank still somewhat lingers within the imagination of the public and politicians, so the US has failed to understand ITSELF as a class struggle.  And it’s because of this lack of understanding which, I believe, is causing the Democratic Party’s heartache.

Because the Party is too busy arguing itself with the recent loss in some congressional district in Georgia, a few on the left have mocked the followers of Bernie Sanders…believing that they were kidding themselves all along. Which is completely idiotic considering he very likely would have won if he received the nomination.

I’m sure that you could find data to back that up, but I’m not going to do that (I’m lazy). But I do live in a southern red state, and the redneck, NRA member was certainly NOT going to vote for Hillary Clinton. BUT, they were listening to Bernie Sanders. Despite all the academic, left-wing rhetoric he was slinging in the primaries….conservative voters who would not have normally voted for Democrats, would have very likely pushed the button for Sanders if there was an opportunity in November.

I know that I presented absolutely ZERO empirical evidence for the last paragraph. But I don’t care. What Bernie Sanders represented to me was that Americans aren’t so hostile to Marxian ideas like they were in the past. People, particularly those in the lower and middle class, appeared to be FINALLY united in their struggle for economic equality.

Now I’m not saying that the lower classes should spark a violent communist revolution, or ANY revolution whatsoever. I’d never advocate for violence. But as Americans are divided by race, sex, sexual orientation, etc…there is one thing that unites a healthy portion of them. And that is that they are proletarians being divided and exploited by a higher ranking class (or something close to that).

Okay, so Marxist ideology might not fit our particular example perfectly. But, an argument can be made that most of our struggles boil down to economic disparity. Or those who are born into money remain rich, and those that are born into poverty remain in poor. THAT has become a problem in the US. However, instead of dealing with that problem directly, we begin to attack symptoms of the disease rather than the disease itself. MEANING, we begin to focus on racism, sexism, homophobia, and a plethora of other social ills….which are the symptoms….which keeps us distracted from the real root problem of economic disparity.

This isn’t to say that the social justice issues aren’t problems that have to be dealt with. But these problems flow out of a single material-economic cause. And by dividing ourselves according to the various social characteristics (skin color, sex, gay/straight, etc), this only keeps us from avoiding the issue. And the power structure at the top use these characteristics to keep us divided.

The left-right spectrum is especially good at doing this. Marx called religion the “opiate of the masses”. But here in the US, our politics get us pretty damn inebriated. And this keeps the lower and middle class from turning on their masters. And the masters can sleep well at night, knowing that the crowd outside isn’t yelling at them, but they are yelling at each other.

Economic unity isn’t achieved by dividing those at the bottom. But as long as we allow the left-right rhetoric to pollute our minds, we play directly into maintaining the old order. Marx wasn’t always popular in the US, but the public consciousness appears to be warming up to him.