Monday, April 2, 2012

Capitalist system destroys the personal.

I was in downtown Chicago last week. I had an appointment with a doctor in a very poor neighborhood of the city, one that is always full of poor people. As I walked from the transit stop I saw a young woman sitting on the kerb with two plastic bags of clothes around her feet. She was looking around her.

I am 67 years old. And as an old friend at home used to say, I am no oil painting. I noticed that this young woman was sizing me up as I approached. She looked about twenty years old. When I came up to her she said: "Hey man, what you doing. How about me going home with you. I will f... you whatever you want.." I was shocked. But recovering myself and mostly being a polite person, I said: "No thanks, thank you for your offer, but no thanks."

She responded: "Aw come on man, I need a roof over my head for a while. I will look after you. When we are finished I will have taken a load off your mind." I asked the young woman: "Why are you doing this. Offering to go with me and do whatever I want. I could be anybody." She looked up at me with her beautiful brown eyes and said: "I have nothing else to sell."

I said sorry again and walked on to my appointment. I could not get her and her words out of my mind. Nothing else to sell. Load of your mind. Roof over my head. The brutal clarity of her words. No doubt driven into her head by the brutal clarity of her life. She could write a brilliant book. i could never think up such phrases.

Capitalism is rotten from its fragmenting outer edges to its dirty inner core. The Bushes, the Du Ponts, the Jobs, the Merkels, the lot of them are criminals. They and their system has to be swept away. If it is not we will all be sitting with plastic bags full of old clothes and homeless. Or the planet as a whole will be destroyed. Such a fate will not be made up for by being able to express ourselves with the brutal clarity of this young woman.

It is a week since I saw her. I wonder where she is today. Did she get a roof over her head. And if she did what price did she have to pay for it. Marx said that under capitalism personal relations tend to be reduced to the dollar. True enough here.

Trotsky spoke of a different world. A democratic socialist world. One in which there could be "love without base calculation." That is the one we want.

It is a race against time.


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