Where We Are

More Crows than Eagles

I have a friend who is a bit of a doctrinaire Marxist. We argue, cheerfully, about whether the primary crisis in the world economy is one of resource depletion or of the inherent contradiction in capitalism. If I understand correctly, the latter refers to the necessity of simultaneously depressing wages while expanding markets, a problem epitomized by an apocryphal exchange involving Walter Reuther, UAW:

I went through this Ford engine plant about three years ago, when they first opened it. There are acres and acres of machines, and here and there you will find a worker standing at a master switchboard, just watching, green and yellow lights blinking off and on, which tell the worker what is happening in the machine. One of the management people, with a slightly gleeful tone in his voice said to me, “How are you going to collect union dues from all these machines?” And…

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