Feb. 25th, 2016

The Industrial Revolution never stopped. It is a rolling wave that occasionally gains a new beachhead on a distant shore, but mostly moves gradually fro where it is. People in one locale move off their subsistence farms (which are in truth inadequate for assured subsistence and survival) into the new factories, where their lives are in some ways even worse, but on balance just enough better to they go.

These first-generation workers have limited literacy and no experience living by an artificial clock. They do basic assembly, because that's all they can do. Those who can't resist germs, a surfeit of alcohol and other drugs, or who can't live by a clock and get along with others in close quarters, die. In the mean time, their willingness to work in poor conditions for low pay keeps the pay for simple assembly at a low level everywhere. Well, everywhere that doesn't have high tariffs, anyway.

What propels the Industrial Revolution forward are the second and third generations of workers and the capitalists who have invested in their regions. Those workers can follow a clock and can read and therefore learn new complex techniques rather quickly. Their bosses have established markets to sell their produce, so their factories stay open, but they outsource the simplest parts of production to new first-generation workers, usually not very far away.

And so it goes. Marx observed Western Europe running out of subsistence farming regions, and predicted the collapse of this system. 200 or years so too early. His prediction for what happens after a revolution was meshugenah. But his description of what happens when there is nowhere left to absorb into the modern economy is interesting and yet to be tested.

In any case, in any generation, the 'natural' result of capitalism is to concentrate economic power and for that economic power to seize political power, which leads to even greater concentration of economic power, and so on.

Seeing how that played out in Europe, with breakdowns in civil order that were bad for all economic classes, this country in the middle third of last century intentionally tilted the system, both to lessen the concentration of economic power and to hinder the application of economic power in the acquisition of political power.

Later, as the upheavals in Europe became a more distant memory and as social programs greatly reduced the number of very poor who literally had almost nothing to lose by sacrificing their lives in revolution, the wealthy in this country decided they wanted their power back. The convinced the lower middle class to back policies that helped the global poor economically, helped the global elite economically, helped the US elite politically, were initially neutral toward the rest of the US middle class, and directly hurt themselves economically. The US wealthy did this by completely misrepresenting the nature of what had been done in the previous two generations here and by playing on racial resentment (of which there was tangible cause in many cases, no matter how much African-Americans have been the ones taken advantage of throughout our history).

Now, with political power being ever more concentrated by wealth, the economic level below which the rich won't pillage is rising. The use of disingenuous metrics to demonize and pauperize teachers is but one example of this.

Trump mostly represents a continuation of the scam that has gotten the lower-middle to work against themselves. His proposal is that the beatings continue until morale improves.

Sanders mostly represents the middle-middle saying enough of this. Politely telling the lower-middle they've been acting like fools hasn't worked, because from the listener's point of view, there's no polite way to tell someone they've been acting like a fool. So we're going to stop being polite. We'll tell it like it is and let the chips fall where they may.


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October 2016


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