Remembering 2016

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… and it looks like the future of this country will be more militarism, more discrimination, more violence, more Fascism, and less freedom for the common citizens let alone for anyone who might be considered less than a patriotic Christian land owning white male oligarch.

It’s time for everyone to read It Can’t Happen Here by Sinclair Lewis and The Iron Heel by Jack London.

Academic Freedom taken behind the wood-pile

College CharlestonThere are so many good reasons to live in South Carolina, especially if you are retired, but there are also many bad reasons. Good weather, low taxes, and fried chicken, however, cannot make up for the stupidity and intolerance inherent in the state. It’s unfortunate that my friends and family scattered around this country regularly hear on the news how my adopted state is such an embarrassment, but after living for thirty years in New Jersey, I’ve gotten used to it. The one thing about South Carolina (and many other places so don’t be too smug) is it’s adherence to ideology at the expense of the truth and it closed-mindedness driving out critical thinking and academic investigation. Here’s another example from J. Bryan Lowder at Slate:

South Carolina Champions Academic Freedom … by Punishing Colleges for Assigning Gay Books

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The Iron Heel

I know nothing that I may say can influence you … You have no souls to be influenced. You are spineless, flaccid things. You pompously call yourselves Republicans and Democrats. There is no Republican Party. There is no Democratic Party. There are no Republicans nor Democrats in the House. You are lick-spittlers and panderers, the creatures of the Plutocracy. You talk verbosely in antiquated terminology of your love of liberty, and all the while you wear the scarlet livery of the Iron Heel.

That was a short speech given by one of the new Socialist members of the Congress that had worked within the system but as predicted were eventually conquered by the might of the oligarchy.

Jack London, himself a socialist, wrote an interesting dystopean novel that expressed the problems with Capitalism and developed a likely outcome of the struggle between corporations and people, or as we might express it one hundred years later, between the one percent and the ninety-nine percent. The novel is titled The Iron Heel; it is structured as a manuscript written by a key player in the revolution (as such, remember that the footnotes are a part of the fiction and often serve to lend validity to the speculative future vision).

London’s main character is a charismatic leader who speaks for the side of the working man (this man’s wife is the narrator). Here he describes the situation:

The working man on the street railway furnish the labor. The stockholders furnish the capital. By the joint effort of the workingmen and the capital, money is earned. They divide between then this money that is earned. Capital’s share is called ‘dividends.’ Labor’s share is called ‘wages.’ … the workingman, being selfish, wants all he can get in the division. The capitalist, being selfish, wants all he can get in the division. … When there is only so much of the same thing, and when two men want all they can get of the same thing, there is a conflict of interest between labor and capital … an irreconcilable conflict.

His position on the oligarchy which controls the lives of so many workers is clear:

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