Anarchism, Anti-Capitalism, Politics

corporations and a modest proposal

Jonathan Swift wrote the essay, “A Modest Proposal” in 1729. The essay expresses another way to keep Ireland’s economic head above the water. Swift satirically proposes that those who are poor should sell and/or eat their children. This was during the time that England ruled over Ireland, and were oppressed into an economic depression. Ireland was not allowed to trade with any other country, but more than that, much of the land was owned by those in England having the Irish people rent from them. The money then exited Ireland and poured into England. Jonathan Swift noticing all of these injustices around him spoke out against them. Luis Landa wrote in an essay titled “Swift’s Economic Views and Mercantilism,”

“One of his few sermons to come down to us, On the Causes of the Wretched Condition of Ireland, is devoted to an analysis of Ireland’s economic difficulties, in which he complains bitterly that ” The first cause of our misery is the intolerable hardships we lie under in every branch of trade, by which we are become as hewers of wood, and drawers of water, to our rigorous neighbors” (ELH, Vol. 10, No. 4 (Dec., 1943))

During Swift’s time, Ireland was losing money from their economy to assist the growing English Empire. This is a tragedy. Today, as a world population we are dealing with something much larger. The Empire instead of being a concrete country like England, it is liberal capitalism. In liberal capitalism, the State is the global market that all pay into. This Empire is not something that we can see, but is a virtual island full of mostly wealthy white men. Our money that we pay into goes not towards the worker, but to the company’s overhead.

The liberal capitalist island fills with the money while workers stand as pawns in their greedy game. Jesus, in his great rhetoric in the Gospel of Luke, says :

“But woe to you who are rich,
for you have received your consolation.
Woe to you who are full now,
for you will be hungry.
Woe to you who are laughing now,
for you will mourn and weep.” (6:24-25 NRSV)

The idea here is to say that if you have an excess amount riches then that’s all that your worth. God’s kin-dom* and thus God’s justice is about distributive justice, unlike U.S. society which focuses on retributive justice. Therefore, those who have excess amounts are not participating in the vision that Jesus declared about the kin-dom of God. Fighting against these kinds of injustices and educating the masses of how the system works should be our top goals. We must always remember the wisdom of Paulo Freire that taught, “Critical and liberation dialogue, which presupposes action, must be carried on with the oppressed at whatever the stage of their struggle for liberation…But to substitute monologue, slogans, and communiques for dialogues is to attempt to liberate the oppressed without their reflective participation in the act of liberation is to treat them as objects which must be saved from a burning building” (52). Dialogue gives us a good middle way for liberation of the oppressed and the oppressors. The first step we must take then is to become friends with those whom we believe to be oppressed.

*I prefer to use kin-dom over kingdom because the later has been used in patriarchal hierarchical structures that have oppressed citizens. I believe that God’s kin-dom does not represent that reality, but a kin-dom where all are the family of God.


anti-capitalist critique of the super bowl

Since I left my hometown and no longer have cable television, my desire to watch the Super Bowl has dissolved. Before I would watch the game for the half-time show and the new commercials. Although, I was never a big fan of sports, my parents and brother were/are and my mother still tells me about my brother and father’s arguments about which team is better, etc. Noam Chomsky explains this obsession with sports as

“…And I suppose that’s also one of the basic functions it serves society in general: it occupies the populations, and it keeps them from trying to get involved with things that really matter. In fact, I presume that’s part of the reason why spectator sports are supported to the degree they are by the dominant institutions.” (Understanding Power, 100)

This is usually how I understand corporate sports (differentiating between local sports in which one can participate with neighbors). Corporate sports are supported by corporations, forcing players to advertise with logos on their uniforms, and have many commercials inserted during breaks. One of the reasons I did enjoy the Super Bowl was because of the commercials. Reflecting on it now, it seems that commercials help to reinforce the ideology of capitalism in the U.S.. Teams compete against one another in hopes for winning, which is the capitalistic dream, for businesses to compete with one another in hopes of gaining more profits than another. Vidyadhar Date explains this beautifully in the article Capitalism and sport: Sports for a few

Competitive sports generate belief in capitalist values. We start believing that competition is the order of life, when in fact we should be striving for cooperation and friendship. Competitive sports make us feel that one must reach the top, be the first, and be willing to make any compromise.

Corporate sports is a reflection of the society at large and present no new challenges to culture or society. With this in mind, it makes sense that these sports are also pro-patriarchy. Since all of the players on the field are males bodied persons, this also includes the announcers, coaches, etc. This gives them an authority that other events do not, e.g. women’s tennis. If we are to shatter patriarchy, and capitalism, we must form coed leagues that have no corporate sponsors. This will probably never get air coverage, but the people involved will get to know one another better.

One final note: In Indiana, the location of the Super Bowl this year, the governor passed the controversial Right to Work law, which helps to bust up unions. The governor signed this bill privately, bypassing all of the public procedures that a governor has to do to pass a law. Thus, Occupy the Super Bowl began. Hopefully, discussion of this bill will be brought up sometime during the Super Bowl and in the weeks following, more dialogue with Gov. Daniels about repealing this law.