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MatthewHunter

MatthewHunter

Currently reading

MirrorMask (children's edition)
Neil Gaiman
The Unreal and the Real: Selected Stories, Volume One: Where on Earth
Ursula K. Le Guin
Betsy and Tacy Go Downtown
Maud Hart Lovelace
The Picture of Dorian Gray
Oscar Wilde, Camille Cauti
Riders of the Purple Sage
Zane Grey
Vampires, Zombies, & Wanton Souls
Marge Simon
Work: Capitalism. Economics. Resistance - CrimethInc. A quote on the back of the title page defines the purpose of the book perfectly: "property is theft - steal it back." The book is an economic analysis, critique of capitalism, and a call to action for subverting and replacing the capitalist system.

Some of the analysis is very strong. For example, as a clergy person in the Methodist Church, I was drawn in by the criticism of religion. Here's a sample:

"Vertical alliances can take seemingly innocuous forms such as sports team followings and religious denominations. Who doesn't wish for peace on earth and goodwill towards men? Yet these forms of togetherness smooth over the disparities that prevent the song from coming true." I see CrimethInc.'s point! Jesus and his followers provided a counter-cultural example of providing for all and caring for one another. Today, the counter-cultural aspect often disappears, giving way to a desire to keep up appearances of civility and maintenance of societal order, regardless of how oppressive and unequal that societal order may be. We sing peace on earth together, poor and rich alike. But do we really mean it? Do we do enough to challenge the structures that make peace so elusive? On the whole, no. CrimethInc.'s analysis, at least based on my own experience in the church, is dead on.

I also found the criticism of representative democracy to be helpful: "In representative democracy as in capitalist competition, everyone supposedly gets a chance but only a few come out on top. If you didn't win, you must not have tried hard enough! This is the same rationalization used to justify the injustices of sexism and racism: look, you lazy bums, you could have been Bill Cosby or Hillary Clinton if you'd just worked harder. But there's not enough space at the top for all of us, no matter how hard we work."

Simply put, capitalism has winners and losers. The current system does not meet the needs of everyone, and results in massive disparity in wealth. Our economic system seems to say that there are acceptable levels of loss. Some unemployment, poverty, hunger are treated as inevitable, or the fault of those suffering. (Remember Pat Robertson blaming the earthquake in Haiti on the bad behavior of Haitians?) Capitalism appears to thrive on this ability to blame others for their own difficult circumstances, something the church has abetted through doctrines like original sin, predestination, etc. I join CrimethInc. in refusing to take such a holier than thou position toward the poor and suffering.

So what does CrimethInc. believe should be done to end oppression? Well, overthrow capitalism. How? Well, a diversity of tactics that includes occupations of space, building effective networks, setting up alternative infrastructure, feeding one another, and based on the photos scattered throughout this chapter, lighting fires, throwing rocks, tipping cars, smashing windows, and on. Maybe I'm an old fart set in bourgeois ways, but I have no desire to participate in or support such tactics. I feel drawn more to serving and caring for people regardless of the socio- economic sins for which they are accused. CrimethInc. does provide a beautiful vision toward the book's end that I can get behind: "It isn't movements themselves that make social change, but rather contagious examples of transformation." I want to be part of building such contagious examples of transformation! The now proverbial "if you build it, they will come" Field of Dreams approach to justice-building. Now THAT'S a party worth attending!