Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Squeezing Us Dry


In case Marx is too boring for you to get into, or you've never figured out how this whole capitalism game works, let me break this shit down for you. Capitalism works by exploiting the surplus-labor value of workers. That sounds like a fucking mouthful, but basically all it means is that the wages in which the bosses pay workers is is the bare amount that they need to survive and just enough to keep them working for the boss. The boss on the other hand, since they own the means of production and the workplace, they keep all products that are created in a given area of production. They take the products that workers produce and sell them on the market. They then keep the profits that they make, pay their bills, and also the wages to the workers that they employ. The surplus-value, is what is left over after all the bills have been paid. This surplus-labor value is more capital for the capitalist, which they then can use towards more investments, buying more property, expanding production, opening more stores, hiring more workers, etc. Thus, by keeping workers in poverty, capitalists can ensure that their profits will go up and they will become richer. This is true here, as it is with workers in other countries who often provide the raw materials and goods which workers in this country use.

This of course is the basic concept of how capitalism works; although there are many other factors at work as well, and the effects that are felt on the worker (alienation, depression, etc) not to mention the environment and the world as a result of the production process.

Today, before I went into work, I realized that the first class for my substitute teaching job was in fact a prep period. For subs, prep periods are pretty worthless. If I was a teacher, I probably would use the period to grade papers and get materials ready. But as a sub, generally we just use this period as free time to goof off and possibly sleep. Anyway, sense the 1st period was in fact a prep period, and since I didn't have to go into work until 9:30 am or so, I decide to sleep in a little bit before heading off to my center of exploitation. Just as I was about to get in my car to head out to work, I got a call from the office of the school I was about to work at. They wanted to know where I was, and after I told them that I didn't have to be in until second period, they replied that they wanted me to come in anyway sense they sometimes have periods that they need filled by subs who have prep periods.

In this way, the force of Capital continuously restructures our lives around what it needs and requires. In my instance, where I discovered that I had some extra time on my hands and decided to sleep in, Capital instead decided that I should in fact get out of bed and get my ass over to the school just on the off chance that I could possibly engage in new tasks in the "down time" where I was not "being productive."

On a similar note, California state workers will soon be working harder for less pay:

The governor issued an executive order Friday that requires state agencies to reduce payroll by 10 percent, which could lead to massive layoffs. He also ordered the state's 235,000 employees to take two days off a month without pay, starting Feb. 1.
What this means, is that many part time and low paid state workers will be laid off, while workers that have worked for years for the state of California, in sectors ranging from the DMV, Welfare, and Disability Services, will be taking a 10% pay cut and will be out of work for two days a month. But the real kicker, is that work productivity will of course not be expected to decrease. Workers will have to in essence work harder for less money, while the rest of us get shittier state services and less access to them. In many ways, this mirrors the speeds ups, automation, and Fordism that increased the speed and nature of production in the American industrial workplace in the wake of the 8-hour day and other labor reforms. When workers carve out an inch for themselves, Capital will always try and find ways of cutting corners for its own interests. It will always seek to make us work harder, faster, and work more. At the same time it will always seek to pay us less, thus maximizing profits.

This is a general rule across the board - from unionized state workers who make good pay and receive good benefits, to the migrants in the fields doing 'piece work,' as they make pennies for back breaking labor, and are paid by the pound or bucket. Of course, a new evolving frontier in Capital is the prison market place, where private corporations are running essentially slave plantations where prisoners and those in detention centers work for cents a day for multinational corporations.

Racism of course serves as a dividing wedge within the working class in this country - and will continue to cause major problems and be an impediment to insurrection and resistance as the economic crisis heats up. Take for instance those workers within the construction and building sectors. Many of these workers are facing massive job loss and lay offs as the housing and building bubble continues to pop. If workers in these sectors decide to start conducting job actions like the Republic workers in Chicago did during their 6-day long occupation of their workplace, then more likely than not, they can expect that the bosses will use scabs that could quite possibly be "illegal" migrants. Under the threat of deportation and job loss, these workers can be used as scabs against naturalized workers in the United States. Thus, by not supporting the immigrant movement and fighting against the borders of Capital, the working class has in itself become its own worst enemy. The low pay that 'illegal' migrants receive also brings down the wages of other workers as well. As a united class we must struggle against racism for united class action against the capitalist class. Those who speak of attacking immigrants are fools and should be told to shut the fuck up and get real. Organizations like Save our State and the Minutemen who also articulate such a message should be met with massive resistance in the streets and denounced as class traitors.

The role of technology is all of this cannot be ignored - as technology by way of everything from surveillance cameras that are used to catch immigrants to GPS technology that tracks workers movements, is constantly used to expand and protect the world of wage labor.

And, as Guy Debord wrote, "The representation of the working class has become an enemy to the working class," meaning the fucking unions aren't going to do anything about ending any of this. Like the businesses they claim to fight against, the unions want social peace at all costs so they can continue to manage their own businesses: the unions themselves. Like the capitalists, the bureaucrats at the head of these organizations feed off of money; the union dues, and can't have workers taking over property, burning things, and fighting the police.

Recently, in the Central Valley, the Manteca School District announced that because of rising class room sizes and increased loss of state funds due to budget cuts, they would have to lay many people off. The unions along with school administrators instead found a compromise in negotiating pay cuts of up to 6%. Again, the unions act in the role of managers of working class struggles, and seek to turn working class anger into dialog and compromise with our class enemies. With foreclosure continuing to go through the roof in the valley, there are places galore where children could be housed and instructed. But of course, this must be a project that we put into practice, not something that will come from above.

The times in the coming days will be hard ones, as the economic crisis continues to get worse and worse
. We must continue to find ways of creating autonomy for ourselves as a class away from the economy. We must find new ways of fighting as a collective whole outside and against the unions and the Left in complete opposition to our enemies. We must destroy the divisions of racism that would break us apart and make us less powerful. We have many tasks ahead of us and not much time to do it in.

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