Monsanto. (Sigh.) Isn’t it enough this corporation is responsible for the mass production of nasty chemicals through their Round-Up products? Isn’t it nice knowing that Monsanto assisted in manufacturing Agent_Orange? Don’t you sleep easier at night because you are now aware that Monsanto has a monopoly on genetically modified crops here in the States? And don’t you feel better, when shopping at your local grocery store with its unmarked produce, that you can more readily consume large quantities of pesticide ridden, gene meddled with produce? I know the economy’s been rough. I’m right there beside you buying the icky potatoes and toxic tomatoes (when they are cheaper than the organic fruits and veggies). I don’t have to like it though. So, Monsanto, when my food budget improves, I will no longer have to stand there glaring at your gene altered corn and soybeans. I will pass by your products for their organic counterparts and happily place Genetically_modified_organism free corn in my grocery cart. Btw, not only are you doing your consumers a disservice, you are not helping farmers who want the freedom to plant biodiverse crops, and you should be placed behind bars for your seed hording (the farmers facing time because they chose to save seeds from their own, non-Monsanto crops should be freed). You just flat-out disgust me. Forget about your treatment of farmers in countries such as India. You’re despicable. It’s only a matter of time before your evil deeds (I mean seeds) are revealed. So, in the meantime, live it up (I guess). Your days in the States (and elsewhere) are numbered. While some people may think Americans are stupid, I disagree. We’ll catch on. When we do, your company will be obsolete.
November 22, 2010
Dear Kohls, Target, Macy’s, Old Navy, Best Buy, Toys-Я-Us and any other major corporation open early on Thanksgiving:
Thank-you for the recent flyers I received in the mail. Although you might offer some super sales on specific products (if I arrive at your doors during the wee hours), I regret to inform you I will not be there. I have a previous engagement. One that involves a snuggly blanket and a leisurely breakfast (complete with steaming coffee). It’s not completely because I think you’re wrecking your employees’ Thanksgiving holiday by opening your doors at 3a.m. (although you are for many of them). It’s not totally because I think the holiday commercialism reflects America’s excess (because it does). It’s more because I think it’s absurd (yes, I am aware I am defying a major gender role with this statement). The title you gave the day after Thanksgiving is enough to deter me. You do not meet my needs at this time.
Water. Yup, I was thinking about it today. According to “experts,” I am supposed to consume eight glasses a day to maintain my health. If this is the case, I probably should double the amount (cough, sniffle, cough). Then my mind wandered (get used to it, it’s how I roll) to Octavia Butler’s Parable of the Sower. This sci-fi book (a favorite of mine) was published in 1993. Yet, Butler anticipated what many of us are not aware of, water as a precious commodity. Let me qualify that last statement, many people across the globe have known and are rudely reminded of that fact, each day. We, here in the States, tend to forget or ignore this growing phenomenon. Butler, through the genre of fiction, predicted what many concerned observers have taken note of; there is a grave likelihood we will experience shortages and possibly even water wars. Forget about oil occupying our global focus.
Healthy water and access to it is another related issue. About one billion people now drink contaminated water. In 2/3rd world countries, ninety percent of waste enters fresh water supplies. Talk about unsafe and nasty. Imagine the smell! India has to deal with this issue on a day-to-day basis. If you drink Coke, you might want to think twice about it. Not only is it bad for your health (remember, eight glasses of non-sugary water?), the company in India is hogging local water supplies (therefore depleting citizens of water) and was distributing its solid waste to farmers (waste filled with toxins such as lead and cadmium) to use as fertilizer. Coca Cola was finally not allowed to do this. But, they continue to use contaminated water in their Coke plants in India. This water is used to make the sugary drink. Nice, huh?
Anyway, next time we are told we can only wash our vehicles during certain times, have to run our sprinklers on specific days, and we are a little irritated when we can’t douse our flowers, we need to pause. We should be grateful, here in the U.S., for the clean water we do have to drink and bathe in. Every time we put a glass to our lips we should remember the person (we are all part of that global humanity, right?) who is crouching down to slurp sewage. This awareness can stir up agency and we could donate to an organization such as charity: water, Clean Water for Haiti, or any of the other dozens of NGO’s that help our brothers and sisters world-wide. We could shut the faucet off when we Crest freshen our breath and clean our teeth. Small actions of sustainability will help our own country (and our personal budgets through reduced water bills). Let’s give it a shot. What do we have to lose? Or more importantly, what will we gain? Health? Improved local economies? Lives saved? Corporate, global accountability?
I must admit, to the dismay of some of my friends, that I like some of your ideas. I’m not pleased about one aspect of your personal life involving rumors of your relationship with Helene and fathering a child with her (when you already have a wife and seven kids). Should the allegations be true, you are thoughtless and vulgar. But, I digress . . . .
Your fetishism of commodities is brilliant. Love it. Human labor as objectified–amazing. I also admire your concern for the rights of the oppressed and downtrodden during the time you spent in London. Children should not be chimney sweeps shoved headfirst to clean out the soot and muck. They should not work in pottery mills breathing hazardous dust that kills them at young ages. Thanks to you, Engels, and your contributions to the dialogue concerning child labor abuses, child labor laws were finally enacted. While enforcement wasn’t carried out well or much, it was a step in the right direction.
Your theories regarding dialetical materialism, a whole other matter, Karl. Your belief that “the ideal is nothing else than the material world reflected by the human mind, and translated into forms of thought” (Marx, Das Kapital, Vol. 1.) is nutty and I must disagree. I’m leaning towards Hegel on this one.
I can agree with you that the bourgeoisie, a more elite population with power, privilege, and prestige, controls the means of production. I also concur that within capitalism, a certain level of greed propels the system and can spiral out of control. However, this is where I leave your Communist Manifesto on the shelf.
Capitalism is dialectic to a degree. It is filled with contradictions–I will give you that. But your belief that capitalism in an economic downturn means that an end is near, seems to have been proven false (at least with the U.S.). The system bounces back. If it does not, we will speak more about this matter.
Furthermore, you say that a revolt against capitalism is needed because it is most likely the only way a society will move away from it. You’re probably correct about this, too. Many of us, who are capitalists, will not wave white flags and lay down.
Your hope that socialism will ultimately result in communism is interesting to mull over but your concept of communism, as a stateless, classless, societal system is bizarre. I must inquire, really, Karl? Even you must admit you have no idea how this system will make it off your paper and be implemented. That’s why so many of your followers cannot agree on this matter and bicker about it to this day.
Karl, you also seem to neglect the reality that many countries who have tried to adopt your model have failed, repeatedly. Not only have they failed, they have flopped. In the flopping, what was supposed to be a stateless society, ended up being overridden by the government and a chosen few. Economies tanked and stagnated. Human rights were violated.
Sorry, Marx. It was a darn good try. I admire your zeal and prolific writings on these matters but, in the end, many of your texts are just interesting reads.
It’s true capitalism has its flaws–every system does. Changes could be made for the better. We have to deal with monopolies, outsourcing, modern-day slavery, imperialistic snobbery, and much more. But I’m sticking with it and will try to be a positive agent for social reform. So here’s to change, maybe a direct democracy? There are many other types of democracy to try. Why not? In the meantime, Karl, get some rest.
Objectification of humans is irritating to me. Yes, I am aware we live in a society that engages in it daily (just check out advertising whether on TV or in print). Women have long stood under the scrutinizing gaze of certain men who have objectified them and held females to standards that are often unrealistic.
In recent years, some women have been actively engaging in the same past times as their male counterparts. These women unabashedly blink their long lashes and refer to pretty men as their “eye candy.” While this may seem harmless, it could reflect a growing trend that might dehumanize people–men and women alike if it’s taken too far.
It’s one thing to take notice when an attractive man walks by. It’s another aspect when he is referred to as it. While listening to Shakira’s “She Wolf” today, I was reminded of this pet peeve. In the song, she describes lycanthropy or the magical ability to assume wolf-like characteristics (http://www.merriam-webster.com). The speaker becomes a wolf and, in her own words, ends up “sitting across a bar, staring right at her prey,” a man.
Yet, she doesn’t stop here. In the process of objectifying the man/prey, she ends up objectifying herself as well. The speaker refers to herself as an “it” when she says, “There’s a she wolf in your closet/Let it out so it can breathe.” Hmmm. Interesting. Kind of like historically oppressed people who learn to treat others the same way their oppressors once treated them.
At what point do the oppressed become oppressors in their own right? Reminded me of one of my favorite Marxist ideas, that of fetishism of commodities. Marx sets up his definition of commodity and its subsequent fetishism when he explains that
“(i)t is as clear as noon-day, that man, by his industry, changes the forms of the materials furnished by nature, in such a way as to make them useful to him. The form of wood, for instance, is altered, by making a table out of it. Yet, for all that the table continues to be that common, every-day thing, wood. But, so soon as it steps forth as a commodity, it is changed into something transcendent. It not only stands with its feet on the ground, but, in relation to all other commodities, it stands on its head, and evolves out of its Wooden brain grotesque ideas far more wonderful than “tableturning” ever was (Capital Vol. 1 Chapter 3).”
In this manner, commodities, as produced by humanity, become mystical in their own right. They have attributed to them god-like properties, while still maintaining common attributes. Humankind manipulates the production of the materials, elevates the function of such commodities, and religiously promotes this process. Just like, we, humans often fetishize other people and make them into things or commodities.
Shakira probably didn’t have Marx in mind when she mouthed those word lyrics. But she unwittingly brought to light an issue which has long plagued humanity and which we can no longer ignore. Are we turning human beings into commodities which can be possessed? Forget about Mercedes, Coach bags, and multi-million dollar, beachside realty.
Are we transforming humans into social commodities which (instead of “who”) exist purely for sex, or amusement, or our own pleasure? Could we be fetishizing ourselves and others and in doing so degrading what it means to be human? Yep–I think so. We’ve done it in the past with slavery and slavery still exists today.
Why should we stop turning people into commodities? Maybe because objectification needs to be deemed a moral issue and one that is relevant and demanding of our attention.
Therefore, when watching TV with my kids and the obnoxious Ford commercials flash across my set encouraging drivers everywhere to “ride her ( I mean IT) like a Ford,” I will hit mute and have a conversation with my children. Will they like it? Probably not. Will I receive eye rolling and irritated mutterings from my kids? Maybe. Will I continue to talk to them about this issue regardless? Yep.
Do the same with your kids. Even if you don’t have kids, think about how you refer to others. Could be time to make some changes. Humanity will thank you.