Call a spade a spade: capitalism

Posted on December 21, 2010 in History, Policy Context

Source: — Authors: – opinion/letters – Re: Corporate greed is eroding foundations of a just society, Opinion Dec. 11
Published On Tue Dec 21 2010.   Ajamu Nangwaya

As a trade unionist, I am puzzled about the motivation behind labour movement commentator’s identification of “corporate greed” as the cause of social and economic exploitation. It is merely the symptom of philosophical liberalism that fosters an economic practice that privileges self-regarding behaviour, which is expected to lead to public virtue.

I hope that 21st century trade unionism is not shamelessly pandering to pragmatism and euphemism by using terms such as “corporate culture” or “corporate greed” instead of capitalism to name the system that produces gross inequality. Let’s call a spade a spade and not an earth-inverting horticultural implement used for digging.

It is my hope that the people who write about political events that occurred during the Great Depression and the post-war years will recall that it wasn’t the kind consideration of governments in North America and Europe that brought about social and economic reform measures.

It was the mobilized power of the working-class fired by the possibility of different kind of economic and social system that forced the hand of the political elite. Socialism was a source of alternative ideas.

Contrary to John Cartwright’s assertion and white-washing of history, the post-Depression laws never “struck a balance between the power of corporations and the rights of workers.” If that was the case, the rate of unionization would been in the 60 or 70 per cent range, racialized and women workers would not have faced job classification apartheid or workers would have exercised substantive control over their work-life.

However, by the mid-1970s, the capitalists and politicians, especially in the Anglo-American liberal democracies had full confidence that they no longer needed the co-operation of organized labour to pursue an anti-communist agenda at home and abroad. The former went to work in attacking social programs and the right of workers to unionize their workplaces.

Ajamu Nangwaya, Toronto

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