Capitalism is a system that promotes expropriation, destroys community, and commits acts of dehumanization against the working class who takes part in it through exploitation. What made me see the atrocities of Capitalism were reports I had read regarding foreign supply chains of certain major companies such as Apple. I had written a detailed essay on the subject which I converted into an audio commentary. I fortunately saved the written version and will now share with you my findings.
I want to begin with excerpts from a worker's day at the FoxConn company in China. Apple oversees Foxconn for they supply Apple with motherboards. Back in November of 2010 the Shenzhen factory of Foxconn saw eighteen suicide attempts of which fourteen were successful. These suicides were attributed to labor abuse and poor working conditions all around. What's worse, factories in places like Chengdu & Chongqing are said to be on par with labor camps. With the Chengdu factory requiring workers to sign a pledge that they would not commit suicide and that if they did, their families could not pursue financial restitution beyond the legal minimum. Furthermore, the legal limit for overtime is thirty-six hours a month, workers at Foxconn regularly put in 80 to 100 hours of overtime. Though the Apple Supplier Code of Conduct claims that workers must work voluntarily and within safe working conditions as well as be treated with respect, it was said by one worker during this period that those who do not partake in this overtime are penalized by not being able to undertake overtime during off-season months when their living expenses are the most critical. I will now share an excerpt from the article discussing the findings from a report by SACOM. I will then conclude my discussion of this particular piece by sharing quotes from the workers in the Foxconn factory. Here were the findings from SACOM:
Source: huffingtonpost.com/2011/05/06/foxconn-f ... 58619.htmlAn average day for a Foxconn worker begins at 6:45 AM, when the workers wake and begin to line up for the half-hour long bus ride to the factory. Each bus is crammed with 70 people, all of whom must stand the entire way to work. Once they get there, they work for three hours until lunch, after which they work for another five hours, break for dinner, and then work again for two more hours. In continuous shifts, workers must skip a meal, and reduce the length of the other from an hour to half an hour. Workers accused of slacking, or otherwise failing to fulfill their duty, are forced to write a confession letter to their supervisor, or, if the mistake is especially large, read the letter out in front of all their co-workers in a scene of public humiliation, the report says. One worker was made to stand in the corner of the factory with his hands behind his body for giggling and talking with a co-worker. When the day is over, they crowd back into the buses to stand all the way back to the dorms. The report describes extremely poor health conditions at the factory, with sick leave difficult to obtain. Chemicals used in assembly are often harmful, but workers are not told about the possible dangers. One woman, whose job it was to remove extra glue from iPad cases, developed a red rash on her legs, arms and face from using industrial alcohol to complete her task. In another department at the factory, aluminum dust fills the air, covering their hands, clothes, and faces. Even when workers are off, the restrictive living conditions provide no relief from work. Workers, who have to pay for both food and housing, live in crowded rooms that each sleep up to 24, and are not permitted to use hairdryers or electric kettles. Workers interviewed by SACOM say the food provided by Foxconn is close to inedible. Though workers are paid 1,300 CNY, about half of what living wage would be in the area, they are often underpaid due to common miscalculations in wages and missing pay slips. Foxconn workers tell SACOM that the complaints are often met with silence or inaction.
At the heart of this travesty and others which I will reference throughout the debate, is one of the tenets of Capitalist ideology. What I speak of is the act of privatization as well as the very existence of private property. I am against private property for this reason which I shall share from my essay:
Source: archive.org/details/AnarchoSyndicalismF ... reignLaborI said the fallacies the Capitalist commits are that they impose their will upon land through privatization and take an object with no definitive teleological design and ascribe one to it thus occluding all other teleological designs and consequently, all other avenues of maximal utility the land was capable of producing. The teleological design the Capitalist imposes upon the land is the manufacturing of material goods which is seen to have achieved maximal utility when such goods reap a profit for the Capitalist. However, to achieve this end the Capitalist must also enforce this relationship between Teleology and Utility upon the worker. Like land, human beings have no definitive teleological design and thus are capable of many forms of maximal utility. The Capitalist however through the institution of wages and having control of the means of production, ascribes one definitive teleological design to the worker and that is to produce labor. The labor is at its maximal utility when it attains the output desired by the Capitalist. When we examine the consequences of teleological reasoning by the Capitalist within an economic context, we can see that what Marx said in his Economic & Philosophic Manuscripts is true. The capitalist does not care for the human being outside of his labor and affords him no moral consideration outside of this dimension. The worker sacrifices their mind and their body in the pursuit of capital. This pursuit often ends in death, starvation, or the worker being plummeted to the depths of beggary.
Now that I have briefly touched upon why I am against Capitalism as an economic philosophy. let me now explain why I support Anarcho-Socialism.
Firstly, because Anarcho-Socialism is historically successful. The Spanish Civil War of 1936-1939 which saw a coup perpetrated by Francisco Franco halted by the working class. According to Libcom.org
Source: libcom.org/history/1936-1939-the-spanis ... revolutionThe war lasted for three years and ended with Franco's victory, aided by fascist Italy and Nazi Germany. The revolution saw huge swathes of Spanish industry and agriculture socialised and run collectively by the workers and peasants.
The fascists launched a coup on July 17th 1936. The initial step was taken when Franco seized Morocco and issued a "radical manifesto". This was picked up by a loyal radio operator who passed it on to the Minister for the Navy. The news of the coup was kept secret until 7pm on the 18th while they tried to come to terms with the fascists. The cabinet resigned on the 18th and Borrios, a right wing republican, was made prime minister.
The coup was only smashed by the activity of the working class. The fascists made some headway in parts of the country but in Catalonia, and especially Barcelona, the CNT (Anarcho-Syndicalist union) showed how to fight. They declared a general strike and took to the streets looking for arms which the government refused to give them. In the end they stormed the barracks, and took what they needed.
The workers immediately set up barricades and within hours the rising had been defeated. Arms were seized and given to workers who were dispatched to other areas to prevent risings. Madrid was also saved because of the heroism and initiative of the workers. Hearing of what had happened in Barcelona they had stormed the main army base in the city.
The action of the rank and file saved the Spanish Republic. Not just the CNT but the UGT (Socialist union) and POUM (Anti-Stalinist Communists) joined in the fighting. For these workers this was not just a war to defeat the fascists but the beginning of revolution. Workers' militias were established. Workplaces were taken over and in peasants seized the land.
Continuing my references of this article, I will provide two excerpts of post-revolutionary Spain when Anarchism was put into action.
Now to examine post-revolutionary Spain in the realm of industry:Collectivisation of the land was extensive. Close on two thirds of all land in the Republican zone was taken over. In all between five and seven million peasants were involved. The major areas were Aragon where there were 450 collectives, the Levant (the area around Valencia) with 900 collectives and Castille (the area surrounding Madrid) with 300 collectives.
Collectivisation was voluntary and thus different from the forced ‘collectivisation’ in Russia. Usually a meeting was called and all present would agree to pool together whatever land, tools and animals they had. The land was divided into rational units and groups of workers were assigned to work them. Each group had its delegate who represented their views at meetings. A management committee was also elected and was responsible for the overall running of the collective. Each collective held regular general meetings of all its participants.
If you didn't want to join the collective you were given some land but only as much as you could work yourself. Not only production was affected, distribution was on the basis of what people needed. In many areas money was abolished. If there were shortages rationing would be introduced to ensure that everyone got their fair share.
Production greatly increased. Technicians and agronomists helped the peasants to make better use of the land. Scientific methods were introduced and in some areas yields increased by as much as 50%. Food was handed over to the supply committees who looked after distribution in the urban areas.
However, slander was also thrown at the collectives. It was claimed that each only looked after itself. This was rubbish as in many areas equalisation funds were set up to redistribute wealth. Machinery and expertise were shifted to areas most in need. One indicator of the solidarity is the fact that 1,000 collectivists from the advanced Levant moved to Castille to help out.
Federations of collectives were established, the most successful being in Aragon. In June 1937 a plenum of Regional Federations of Peasants was held. Its aim was the formation of a national federation "for the co-ordination and extension of the collectivist movement and also to ensure an equitable distribution of the produce of the land, not only between the collectives but for the whole country". Unfortunately many collectives were smashed by the Stalinists before this could be done.
The collectivists also had a deep commitment to education and many children received an education for the first time. The methods of Francisco Ferrer, the world famous anarchist educationalist, were employed. Children were given basic literacy and inquisitive skills were encouraged.
Seeing Spain thrive under a model of Anarcho-Communism, we can see that this ideology cannot be considered Utopian by any means. The fact is, such an economic philosophy promotes profitability through equity, which allows the working class to avert exploitation, expropriation, and alienation unlike Capitalism which, while achieving profitability, does so through autocratic principles and the promotion of hierarchy which often leads to detriments on a humane level."railways, traincars and buses, taxicabs and shipping, electric light and power companies, gasworks and waterworks, engineering and automobile assembly plants, mines and cement works, textile mills and paper factories, electrical and chemical concerns, glass bottle factories and perfumeries, food processing plants and breweries were confiscated and controlled by workmens's committees, either term possessing for the owners almost equal significance". He goes on "motion picture theatres and legitimate theatres, newspapers and printing, shops, department stores and hotels, de-lux restaurants and bars were likewise sequestered".
In each workplace the assembly of all the workers was the basic unit. Within the factory workers would elect delegates to represent them on day-to-day issues. Anything of overall importance had to go to the assembly. This would elect a committee of between five and fifteen worker, which would elect a manager to oversee the day-to-day running of the workplace. Within each industry there was an Industrial Council which had representatives of the two main unions (CNT and UGT) and representatives from the committees.
Within workplaces wages were equalised and conditions greatly improved. Take for example the tramways. Out of the 7,000 workers, 6,500 were members of the CNT. Street battles had brought all transport to a halt. The transport syndicate appointed a commission of seven to occupy the administrative offices while others inspected the tracks and drew up a plan of repair work that needed to be done. Five days after the fighting stopped, 700 tramcars, instead of the usual 600, all painted in the black and red colours of the CNT were operating on the streets of Barcelona.
With the profit motive gone, safety became more important and the number of accidents was reduced. Fares were lowered and services improved. In 1936, 183,543,516 passengers were carried. In 1937 this had gone up by 50 million. The trams were running so efficiently that the workers were able to give money to other sections of urban transport. Also, free medical care was provided for the work force.
In 1937 the central government admitted that the war industry of Catalonia produced ten times more than the rest of Spanish industry put together and that this output could have been quadrupled if Catalonia had the access to necessary means of purchasing raw materials.
My final point in this opening argument will be that Capitalism, especially in tandem with the existence of the State, is unsustainable. To illustrate my point here was a study conducted by OxFam on wealth inequality:
Source: oxfam.org/sites/www.oxfam.org/files/bp- ... 114-en.pdfAlmost half of the world’s wealth is now owned by just one percent of the population. The wealth of the one percent richest people in the world amounts to $110 trillion. That’s 65 times the total wealth of the bottom half of the world’s population. The bottom half of the world’s population owns the same as the richest 85 people in the world. Seven out of ten people live in countries where economic inequality has increased in the last 30 years. In the US, the wealthiest one percent captured 95% of post financial crisis growth since 2009, while the bottom 90 percent became poorer.
These are the kind of statistics that generate under State Capitalism. With Anarcho-Socialism, financial capital will be stronger for the human capital that dictates it will be stronger. I will now allow Spiral Out to have the floor.