cj#1093,rn> What is ‘right action’ in the face of capitalism?

2000-05-23

Richard Moore

============================================================================
From: "Malika" <•••@••.•••>
To: <•••@••.•••>
Subject: Your Article
Date: Tue, 16 May 2000 12:49:35 -0500

Hi:
 
Just finished reading your article "Globalization and the
Revolutionary Imperative."  I really appreciate the
historical information as to how globalization came to be
and I like your prescription of a democratic renaissance as
a way to counter the bad effects of globalization in our
society. I'd like to work with you to achieve that.
 
Here's the rub, though.  I am African-American and work in
my community to promote economic development, mostly through
entrepreneurship.  I acutely feel the need for economic
growth in our community but I don't want to see us forced to
accept global capitalism as it is in order to have that
growth. 
 
At the same time, I see what you are saying and in fact,
your article makes it easier for me to explain to my
community how globalization has affected us in particular
negatively.   I've been telling folks for years how changes
in the global economy robbed us of the kinds of
manufacturing jobs that allowed men like my father, who
didn't finish high school, to make enough money to support
their families. Your article helps to corroborate that. 
 
So I am in a bit of a quandary, and I hope you can help.  I
want growth but not if it hooks us into a system that I'm
not sure we can compete in anyway.  Do we have to start
transnational corporations and big international banks in
order to bring economic growth to our community?
 
I'm open to any input you have and look forward to hearing
from you soon.
 
Thanks,
 
Mileka Aljuwani

===============

Dear Mileka,

Thanks for your note.  I hope you don't mind that I'm
posting it to our list... your quandry is one that lurks in
other minds as well. 

Consider this little Sufi story: 

    A dervish and his teacher were trekking across the desert. 
    Their throats were parched, and the dervish said to his
    teacher: "How delightful it would be right now to have a
    fresh, juicy apple."  The teacher snapped his fingers and a
    big red apple materialized in his hand, which he gave to the
    dervish.  The dervish took a bite and beamed with pleasure. 
    Then he looked at the apple and found there was a worm in
    it.  He said, "Sir, if you're going to manifest an apple,
    why do you make one with a worm in it?"  The teacher
    answered, "If you are going to exist in this world, then
    you must partake in the imperfections of this world."   

Robert Heinlein said it another way in one of his stories:
"Maturity is the ability to tolerate conflict."  In order to
get along in this world, we do what we need to do -- that's
life.  Some people then feel the need to 'believe in the
system', in order to feel comfortable with themselves and
their actions.  That is a form of self-deciet, an
intentional burying of ones head in the sand, a condemning
of oneself to intellectual and spritual immaturity.

You are no such person -- you are accepting conflict and
seeking to work it out.  The Sufis would say that you are
'capable of learning'.  I will answer your immediate
question as best I can, but the conflict will continue
between what-you-must-do and what-you-would-like-to-be. 
Dealing with that conflict is an ongoing part of the mature
human condition.

I suggest that you can promote the welfare of your
community, as you are doing, and work against the bigger
system at the same time -- both with sincere conviction.  I
imagine you want to improve your community in both the short
term and the long term.  In the short term, you can only
participate in the system that exists.  In order to bring
about long-term improvement, you need to develop an
understanding of how you would like things to be -- and then
you can refine your short-term actions so that they work
toward your longer range goals.  You've heard the phrase
"Think globally and act locally".  If we apply this to time
rather than space, the phrase becomes: "Think historically
and act now".

In fact, you are already doing this.  You are promoting
local entrepreneurship rather than begging big companies to
allocate jobs to your neighborhood.  You are developing
community spirit, personal empowerment, and locally-based
economics. You are encouraging the development of grassroots
democracy and you are reducing dependence on corporate-
controlled 'employment'.  Your short-term actions seem
well directed -- keep up the good work!

---

Now let's consider your question in another light.  In a
sane and livable world, where elite capitalism has been left
behind, would you still want to promote private enterprise
in your community?  Is private enterprise the same as
capitalism?  Is development inherently destructive?  Where
do you draw the line?

Many people see this as a question of economic doctrine. 
They seek answers in terms of some alternative economic
ideology.  Historically, we've had our Marxists and
socialists, and more recently we have green economics, and
eco-cost accounting.  We certainly need to organize our
economies differerently than they are now, but in my view
our salvation is not to be found in some economic doctrine
or ideology.  No ideology is perfect and every ideology can
be corrupted or mismanaged.

The word 'economics', I've been told, originally referred to
'management of the household'.  One does not manage a
household by referring to a doctrine, one manages it by
looking at the problems at hand and doing your best to deal
with them.  Economics is a pragmatic matter more than a
theoretical one; it requires management and experience more
than it requires philosophy.  If something works, then you
let it be; if it gets out of hand, you do something about
it.  If you think of a better way to do things, then you
consider implementing it -- which includes thinking about
the side-effects and the hidden costs.  These are principles
of management, not pieces of economic doctrine.

Those who run our economy currently understand this very
well.  As long as Bill Gates contributed to growth in the
electronic industry, then he was allowed to be as
monopolistic as he wanted to be  -- antitrust philosophy was
not allowed to interfere.   But when he tried to carry his
monopoly over to Internet browsers and web access, then he
was threatening the growth plans of the big communications
conglomerates.  He was getting out of hand, and they did
something about it.  They 'discovered' that he was using OS
dominance to benefit his software business -- something that
had been obvious to everyone for at least a decade. 
Splitting off his software business will in fact change the
industry very little.  Once Gates' empire is on the chopping
block, the interesting strokes will be the ones that sever
his grasp of the emerging e-markets. The most useful news is
always in the follow-up stories after the spotlight has
moved on to the next media circus.

Capitalist ideology is infinitely flexible, as we learned
with Bill Gates and earlier with AT&T, and as the next
posting below illustrates. We too must understand that
economics is a question of flexible management.  We can use
what works, and we can change things that don't work.  We
don't need to have a perfect plan in order to begin.

---

But we need something else in order to begin -- we need to
take charge of our societies.  As long as we let elites run
society, then it will not be run with our interests at
heart.  It is of only secondary concern whether those elites
be capitalists, politburos, or ivory-tower central planners.
One slavemaster is pretty much as bad as the next.  What we
need is our freedom and our self-determinination.  The
answer to capitalism is democracy.

best regard,
rkm
    
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Delivered-To: moderator for •••@••.•••
From: •••@••.••• (Glynn Ash)
Date: Sun, 14 May 2000 09:24:01 -0500 (CDT)
To: •••@••.•••, •••@••.•••
Subject: Pentagon is willing to pay more to "maintain competition" for JSF.

Hello Jan & Richard,

It's amazing. In the past week we have seen two examples of
what capitalism is really all about...and the masses
collectively yawn, eager to return to "Who Wants to be a
Millionaire" and wondering if they'll get a good parking
space at the mall!

First, there's the Fed/Greeenspan raising interest rates
because there are to many of us working and -- horror of
horrors -- we're making too much money...

...and now we have this lesson on the concept of
"competition" from our friends in the Pentagon.

"Boeing and Lockheed Martin say they are prepared to
share..."

``It would defeat the purpose if the loser didn´t get some
work.´´

Huh???

Isn't that rather communistic? Isn't this the "evil" we
fought a 50 year cold war over?

Insanity and hypocracy abound!

I guess that the mantra "competition will control/reduce
prices" is yet another lie that we will ignore in our quest
for more stuff.

Slainte
Glynn

<snip>

Message Sender: •••@••.•••
From: •••@••.•••
(Int'l Network on Disarmament and Globalization)
Date: Fri, May 12, 2000, 2:11pm (CDT-2) 
To: •••@••.•••
(MIL-CORP)
Subject: [mil-corp] Pentagon is willing to pay more to "maintain
competition" for JSF.

Network members:

The Pentagon is afraid that if it awards the massive Joint
Strike Fighter program to either Boeing or Lockheed Martin,
the loser may retreat from building military fighter planes
altogether. So, in a strange twist, the Pentagon seems
prepared to split the contract between the two corporations
to preserve competition in the industry, which would raise
the cost of the contract. As one analyst put it, "The
Pentagon is saying it's willing to pay a higher price to
maintain competition.''

Steve

****

http://biz.yahoo.com/rf/000511/n7.html
Thursday May 11, 8:40 pm Eastern Time

Boeing, Lockheed set to share massive fighter deal

By Chris Stetkiewicz

SEATTLE, May 11 (Reuters) - The Pentagon may abandon its
current winner-take-all strategy for a $200 billion contract
to build a new fighter jet and Boeing Co. (NYSE:BA - news)
and Lockheed Martin Corp. (NYSE:LMT - news) say they are
prepared to share.

While each manufacturer insists it would win the Joint
Strike Fighter (JSF) contract outright, both say they would
work together no matter which of the competing designs the
Pentagon picks as the template for over 3,000 attack planes.

``We are still operating in winner-take-all mode,´´ said
Lockheed spokeswoman Carolyn Hodge. ``We believe we have the
right airplane and we want to be the prime contractor. But
we will work with Boeing. We work with them on other
programmes.´´

Seattle-based Boeing said it has been expecting some kind of
cooperative approach and would accept a subcontracting role
if Bethesda, Md.-based Lockheed were to win the deal. ``The
whole reason for doing that is to keep both Boeing and
Lockheed in the fighter industry and to preserve the
industrial base,´´ Boeing spokesman Mike Tull said. ``It
would defeat the purpose if the loser didn´t get some
work.´´

Tull noted that Boeing was prepared to compete for and win
the deal outright in the meantime.

U.S. Defence Department officials apparently want to
guarantee work-sharing on what could be the last major jet
fighter contract for decades, analysts said.

A wave of industry mergers have left the two titans as the
only potential U.S. builders of attack planes and the
Pentagon would risk one of those two retreating from the
business if it lost the JSF contract outright.

Splitting the order would wipe out much of the cost savings
that would have been generated by building the huge fleet
under one design, but would preserve competition for the
long run.

``The handwriting has been on the wall for years,´´ said Jon
Kutler, president of Quarterdeck Investment Partners. ``The
Pentagon is saying it´s willing to pay a higher price to
maintain competition.´´

A Pentagon JSF spokeswoman did not immediately return phone
calls seeking comment.

Representative Jerry Lewis, the Republican chairman of the
House Appropriations defence subcommittee, said on Thursday
that the Pentagon was ``highly likely´´ to opt for a team of
contractors, almost certainly changing the program´s
schedule and costs.

Teal Group aerospace analyst Richard Aboulafia had projected
Lockheed as the odds-on favourite to win the deal, citing
its success with the F-16 fighter, which has continued to
draw orders from overseas even as Boeing's F-15 appears near
the end of the line.

``Lockheed has tremendous experience producing export
fighters at an excellent price. At one point they were
cranking out over 300 F-16s a year and they´re still
producing at a much lower rate at affordable prices, which
is phenomenal,´´ he said.

The F-15 lists at about $70 million, compared to about $50
million for the F-16, which has somewhat more limited
capabilities.

The JSF would back up the Air Force's new F-22 stealth jet
and the Navy's upgraded F/A-18 E/F Super Hornet under a plan
to buy nearly $340 billion worth of new planes over 30 years
to phase out ageing Cold War era jets.

Both the House and Senate are considering slashing hundreds
of millions of dollars from the JSF's fiscal 2001
development budget, and some critics say the military
neither needs nor can afford to fund all three of the new
fighter programmes, including the JSF, the F-22 and the new
F-18.

With foreign JSF orders expected to boost the workload to
5,000 aircraft, its benefactors are scrambling to keep the
programme alive.

``The point could be ultimately moot. There are very few
supporters of the JSF,´´ Aboulafia said.

Splitting the JSF order would broaden its political
constituency, satisfying voters in Maryland and Washington
but also in Ft. Worth, Texas, where Lockheed builds tactical
jets, and St. Louis, site of Boeing's military headquarters.

Lockheed, which won the F-22 contract, has subcontracted
some of the estimated $61 billion award to Boeing.

______________________________________________

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<snip>

Slainte'

GA

+++

    FIRST MAN:
    "I think I am. Therefore, I am...I think."
    
    ESTABLISHMENT:
    "Of course you are, my bright little star! I've miles and
    miles of files --  pretty files -- of your forefather's
    fruit and now, to suit our great computer...you're magnetic
    ink!
    
    FIRST MAN:
    "I'm more than that...I know I am. At least, I think I must be!"
    
    INNER MAN:
    "There ya go, man! Keep as cool as ya can. Face piles and
    piles of trials with smiles...it riles them to believe that
    you perceive the web they weave...
    
    ...And keep on thinking free!"
    
    - Graeme Edge

+++

    "Once its institutional structure is in place, capitalist
    democracy will function only if all [people] subordinate
    their interests to the needs of those who control investment
    decisions, from the country club to the soup kitchen. It is
    only a matter of time before an independent working class
    culture erodes, along with the institutions and
    organizations that sustain it, given the distribution of
    resources and power. And with popular organizations weakened
    or eliminated, isolated individuals are unable to
    participate in the political system in a meaningful way. It
    will, over time, become largely a symbolic pageant or, at
    most, a device whereby the public can select among competing
    elite groups, and ratify their decisions, playing the role
    assigned them by progressive democratic theorists..."

    - Noam Chomsky

<snip>

+++

"When they heard Americans were coming, three children began
shaking and screaming. Their mothers had to be fetched to
pick them up. We found out that they were traumatized
because a cement bomb from an American plane patrolling the
northern no-fly zone had just hit the school. Some children
were severely wounded."

~ Nicholas Arons of the Voices in the Wilderness, describing
the reaction of Iraqi children upon learning that an
American would be visiting their public primary school in
Mosul.

+++

<snip>

"I think it would be a good idea."

~ Gandhi, upon being asked what he thought of Western "civilization".

<snip>

============================================================================
Richard K Moore
Wexford, Ireland
Citizens for a Democratic Renaissance 
email: •••@••.••• 
CDR website: http://cyberjournal.org
cyberjournal archive: http://members.xoom.com/centrexnews/
book in progress: http://cyberjournal.org/cdr/gri.html

                A community will evolve only when
                the people control their means of communication.
                        -- Frantz Fanon

                You cannot have capitalism without
                ever-increasing exploitive development
                 -- that would be like trying to use an
                automobile without putting gasoline in
                it.  Capitalism is a _political
                doctrine which decrees the accumulation
                of money-wealth to be the only economic
                value, and which demands that such
                economics dominate all other societal
                values.
                        -- rkm

Permission for non-commercial republishing hereby granted - BUT 
include and observe all restrictions, copyrights, credits,
and notices - including this one.
============================================================================

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