Sunday, April 8, 2007

Who am I???

I realised that we lack a word to define those who Marx described as "proletarians". But this word has lost must of its descriptive power, given that it translates as "people who have nothing except their offsprings", and brings to mind ragged families with 10 children to feed (Proles meaning offsprings in Latin). It can't describe people like myself who have no children.
So given that capitalism is still around and well, profits are soaring, and if anything exploitation has increased proportionally and now reaches every corner of the globe, how do we call the exploited masses?? Working class? This term sounds a bit too vague, even the exploiters work, and some of the exploited now own the means of production, but are no less exploited because of that. Owning my own computer (which is my mean of production) doesn't make me less exploited.

According to Marxism, capitalism is a system based on the exploitation of the proletariat by the bourgeoisie (the "capitalists", who own and control the means of production). This exploitation takes place as follows: the workers, who own no means of production of their own, must seek jobs in order to live. They get hired by a capitalist and work for him, producing some sort of goods or services. These goods or services then become the property of the capitalist, who sells them and gets a certain amount of money in exchange. One part of the wealth produced is used to pay the workers' wages, while the other part (surplus value) is split between the capitalist's private takings (profit), and the money used to pay rent, buy supplies and renew the forces of production. Thus the capitalist can earn money (profit) from the work of his employees without actually doing any work, or in excess of his own work. Marxists argue that new wealth is created through work; therefore, if someone gains wealth that he did not work for, then someone else works and does not receive the full wealth created by his work. In other words, that "someone else" is exploited. Capitalists make a profit by exploiting workers.

Not having a current word to describe members of the exploited class makes me think of George Orwell's 1984. This is 1984...just a few years later than he predicted.
The chapter on Newspeak. Certain words such as "exploitation" seems to have gone out of use, and when i do use it, people look at me as if i spoke an incomprehensible dialect. The world we live in has almost all the characteristics that Orwell described so well in his fiction.

"The purpose of Newspeak was not only to provide a medium of expression for the world-view and mental habits proper to the devotees of Ingsoc, but to make all other modes of thought impossible. It was intended that when Newspeak had been adopted once and for all and Oldspeak forgotten, a heretical thought - that is, a thought diverging from the principles of Ingsoc - should be literally unthinkable, at least so far as thought is dependent on words. Its vocabulary was so constructed as to give exact and often very subtle expression to every meaning that a Party member could properly wish to express, while excluding all other meanings and also the possibility of arriving at them by indirect methods. This was done partly by the invention of new words, but chiefly by eliminating undesirable words and by stripping such words as remained of unorthodox meanings, and so far as possible of all secondary meanings whatever. To give a single example. The word free still existed in Newspeak, but it could only be used in such statements as " This dog is free from lice " or " This field is free from weeds ". It could not be used in its old sense of " politically free " or " intellectually free " since political and intellectual freedom no longer existed even as concepts, and were therefore of necessity nameless. Quite apart from the suppression of definitely heretical words, reduction of vocabulary was regarded as an end in itself, and no word that could be dispensed with was allowed to survive. Newspeak was designed not to extend but to diminish the range of thought, and this purpose was indirectly assisted by cutting the choice of words down to a minimum."

So, who am I ?

A disobedient, undisciplined teacher, an immigrant, an environmentalist, a disillusioned university lecturer, a lady who likes a riot, a bullshit spotter.

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