(co-written with David Troxell)
Just kidding. I know that kind of language scares the shit out of you. In 1918, Lenin wrote his ‘Letter to the American Worker’ encouraging her to eschew the oppressive yoke of capitalism. I know that language scares you too, but Lenin was on to something.
Let me ask you a few questions:
Do you think it’s fair that you work as hard as you do, as long as you do, and for as little as you do, to create commodities via means of production that you do not own, all for the profit of your employer, who reaps the lion’s share of your yield without lifting a finger?
Do you think it’s just that you have been made to hate the concept of work, that thing which should give mankind her greatest sense of purpose? Do you think it is healthy that you invest so much time at such a hated activity which is so ill-suited to your natural talents that you seek to escape not only work in your ‘down time’, but--in a way--life itself?
Do you think it is right that the richest one percent--the owners of our society--are able to afford the best healthcare, best education, and best leisure (in the truest sense of the word), while allowing you only just enough freedom to create more workers for the work force (like some kind of factory farm animal), enough healthcare to keep you well enough to not die, and enough education to keep you intelligent enough to believe the lie of our capitalist system, and just comfortable enough to keep you from engaging in open revolt?
Lenin spoke of the oppression created by imperialism. Thankfully, we no longer live in a world where imperialism is so prevalent. The unfortunate aspect of this is that it has been replaced with something not quite as tangible; neocolonialism has put shackles on all but the world’s wealthy. It has created a system of debt designed to enslave all that it can, with the bait of making your life better instead of living a life of perpetual poverty. It lures the lower and middle class in with the promise of a better life somewhere in the not so far off future if only we would transform ourselves into the thimble on the global monopoly board. To creatively paraphrase John Steinbeck: in a world increasingly infected with the capitalist virus, the poor see themselves as temporarily embarrassed millionaires.
But it is a soulless business to be the thimble, and we have been reduced to escapism. We no longer define ourselves. Instead, we are defined by our yield. By the numbers of threads we stitch. By the amount of milk that is drained from our udders. We do not own the thread, and we do not even own our own udders! Our ability to self define through work has been stripped of us. They are turning us into automatons. Rather than following our passions and self actualizing the way that the artist has proved man capable of doing, we are reduced to limiting and dulling the pain. With drink. With T.V. With drugs and passionless sex. We only know where the shoe pinches, and we seek to anesthetize ourselves so we don’t notice the pinch. Has it ever occurred to us that maybe we might look into wearing a different type of shoe? Capitalism disconnects us from what makes us human--we are alienated.
In the capitalist system, your worth is determined by how much you own. This is not an appropriate means for determining the worth of a living being; this is not the way to judge something that thinks and feels. This is how you judge a piece of machinery--a lifeless chunk of metal used to fulfill someone else’s ends.
There is a better path, comrades. We dare not say its name out loud, because the only thing more blasphemous than questioning a person’s faith in America is questioning the social structure.
This social structure is rotten. The boards are warped, the carpet is louse-ridden, and the pipes are fully corroded. It’s time to knock the structure down.
What we build in its place will be up to you.
David & Spencer Troxell
‘Why Marx Was Right’, by Terry Eagleton
‘Letter To the American Worker’, by V.I. Lenin