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i.e. Why Have "From Each According to Ability, to Each According to Need" Equality?

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[a related article: "Can Co-operative Economic Enterprises Make Our Society a Good One on a Large Scale?"]


A society with some rich and some poor is a class society--a society based on class inequality. It is a society with an upper class and a lower class. The very worst thing about a class society is that the upper class has to treat the lower class like dirt. The upper class must do this in order to make lower class people "know their place," to make lower class people internalize the notion that they are an inferior lot, that they do not deserve to enjoy life the way upper class people do, and to accept their position at the bottom of an unequal society where they must unquestioningly do what they are told by their "betters"--the upper class folks.


If lower class people were treated with the full dignity and respect that upper class people take for granted as their due, then before long the upper class would be in serious trouble. Lower class people would begin to question--even more than they do already, which is a lot!--why society is so unequal with a privileged few lording it over everybody else.


The upper class knows very well that most working class people value equality and think the inequality of our society is morally wrong. The upper class knows that working class people, if left to themselves, would make a far more equal society. This is why the upper class dares not leave working class people to themselves. The upper class is forced to control the working class intensely. Treating the working class, especially the poorest working class people, like dirt is a strategy of social control that the upper class must use or risk revolution.


Almost all of the problems that the upper class creates for working class people (many of which are discussed on the subpages of our "Specific Issues" page) are ways that the wealthy ruling upper class treats working class people like dirt. The upper class motive for this is not simply to maximize profits; it is to assert social domination over the working class.


When our rulers treat us like dirt, it is for the same reason that slave owners in previous centuries treated their slaves like dirt--to make them know their place. It is the same reason that the royalty and aristocracy treated peasants like dirt. The way that we're treated like dirt has changed over the years, but it's stil a fact that we're treated like dirt, especially the poorest of us.


Treating working class people like dirt is what all of the following things, to select just some of many, have in common:


1. Paying low wages with minimal, if any, benefits and threatening to move jobs overseas if workers don't agree to even lower wages and reduced benefits.

2. Subjecting retail workers to "on call shifts" --"periods for which an employee must keep an open schedule but might not end up working. Instead of simply reporting for work, the employee has to check in with a supervisor a few hours in advance. If she gets called in, she may have to scramble for a babysitter. If she doesn’t get called in, she doesn’t get paid, and it’s too late to get a shift on a second job. 'People will be scheduled for eight on-call shifts in a pay period and only get called in for one shift,' says attorney Rachel Deutsch of the Center for Popular Democracy, a labor advocacy group." [Boston Globe, April 19, 2015]

3. Making people pay through the nose for health insurance, which may not even cover crucial health care needs when they are very sick or very old.

4. Telling our children in public schools that unless they score high on some absurd "high stakes" standardized test (that is designed so that children from poorer families get lower scores) they don't deserve to have a decent-paying job or perhaps any job at all.

5. Having the police treat the poorest people like dirt, as described here.

6. Incarcerating people for things like smoking marijuana. More than two million people are behind bars in the U.S., and about half of federal prisoners were convicted of drug related (marihuana more than any other drug) but not violent crimes, and are subjected in many cases to utter brutality such as long solitary confinement.

7. Making decent paying jobs, or any jobs at all, artificially scarce so people who are more than willing to work cannot find work that enables them to support themselves and a family, thus forcing them to rely on welfare or unemployment compensation and suffer being looked down upon and accused of being a free-loader or worse.

8. Using a combination of lies (like "Saddam Hussein's Weapons of Mass Destruction" and "Saddam was behind 9-11") and the poverty draft ("If you want a job your only hope is to enlist") and the offer of citizenship to non-citizens if they first serve in the military, thereby manipulating young men and women to join the military where they are ordered to kill innocent people abroad and risk being killed themselves, resulting for many in post traumatic stress disorder, deep remorse and suicide.

9. Telling people who smoke (who are disproportionately working class) who live in publicly subsidized housing that they cannot smoke in their own home, and (in some towns) having the government give a grant (a bribe, really) to landlords who order their tenants to quit smoking in their home or be evicted. Working class smokers are being increasingly treated like dirt. (Whatever the health argument is for banning smoking in some places, the fact is that wealthy people can stay in expensive hotels that have rooms where smoking is permitted, and they can smoke in their own expensive houses, but working class people are increasingly being denied the option of smoking at home and in this way they are being treated like dirt.)



The main reason, therefore, for abolishing the class inequality of our society, for removing the rich from power to have no rich and no poor, is so that people will no longer be treated like dirt.




One of the reasons for making society egalitarian (i.e., based not on money but rather on the principle of "From each according to ability, to each according to need," which is to say "No Rich and No Poor") is that if a society is based on money (i.e., buying and selling) then the conditions exist for some people (because of luck or intention, as discussed here and here) to become a little bit wealthier than others. But with a little bit more wealth these people are a little bit more powerful. With a little bit more power (to influence politicians or other people) these people gain a little bit more wealth, which leads to more power, and so forth until eventually there is an upper class with far more wealth and power than other people, and this upper class will need to treat other people like dirt to keep them from making society more equal.









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