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how unequal we are

October 5, 2011

One of my friends posted this article on Facebook yesterday:

How Unequal We Are: The Top 5 Facts You Should Know About The Wealthiest One Percent Of Americans

While I think it’s interesting in that it points out certain statistics which highlight the underlying symptoms, the real problem is that the capitalist system won’t fix itself no matter how much we try to regulate it or leave it alone. It also needs to be pointed out that, as another friend of mine put it, “It’s the nature of this system to produce this toxic accumulation of debt AND wealth.”

If we want a real solution ā€” one that does more than simply mitigates the symptoms ā€” we need to start rethinking the capitalist system itself; and in my opinion, start working towards creating a new economic paradigm that’s characterized by collectively owned and democratically controlled production based on need rather than profit.

But for me, particularly, economic democracy (i.e., socialism) isn’t so much about the equality of wealth or outcomes as it is the de-privatization (i.e., socialization) of opportunity and the weakening of class antagonisms and hierarchies arising out of social relations unique to capitalism and other predominately exploitative systems. As Karl Marx wrote in The Poverty of Philosophy:

Social relations are closely bound up with productive forces. In acquiring new productive forces men change their mode of production; and in changing their mode of production, in changing the way of earning their living, they change all their social relations. The hand-mill gives you society with the feudal lord; the steam-mill, society with the industrial capitalist.

And if the growing popularity of the Occupy Wall Street movement is any indication, it seems like people are finally figuring out how badly they’re getting fucked by the owners and controllers of all this wealth:

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