The Origin of Working-Class Apathy and What We Can do to Change it

Perhaps the person sitting next to you on the bus is facing a serious challenge for which you know the perfect solution, but because of the dissolution of community and its replacement with a culture of staunch individualism, you fail to connect with or even contact the eyes of her nor any of the other conscious beings who populate your direct environment. Individuals as such fail to identify and act upon shared challenges and enrich the common living space with an atmosphere of respect and solidarity.

Despite the fact that this situation describes a radical departure from the conditions selected for by biological and cultural evolution, individualism and concomitant apathy have become part of the assumed nature of the operations of urban society. Anthropologists have historically analyzed cultured as if it existed in suspended animation. Instead, we would like to link individualism and apathy to specific elements of economic class structure which we identify as their beneficiary and source.

Having been lost into centers of unaccountable private bodies, the organs of community control over their own affairs have left the masses in a state of powerlessness and apathy. Sentiments expressing the desire for a better society are uttered in isolation and gain little of the traction they need to trigger the reward-centers in the minds of the people and motivate them to continue carrying out a protracted struggle against their oppressors.

At least in the American cities of the Northeast, the intentional disengagement from basic grassroots social engagements are publicly displayed badges of honor. Ironically, both the individual and the scattered working class are harmed by carrying out this ethic.

Internalizing the Oppressor

By adopting a social disposition which benefits the ruling class, the workers have internalized the interests of their oppressors. As one carries out self-analysis, they may observe the ways in which their emotions are rendered through the lens of society to nourishment or detriment of certain sectors of that society. Having internalized the interests of the ruling class, we subconsciously leverage our vulnerabilities against one another. The individuals consume and waste products thus maximizing the re-absorbition of the exchange they receive for their labour back into the coffers of the ruling class.

Rather than sharing something they no longer need, working class people would rather sell out their natural allies telling them to “go buy their own.” Every time members of the same community fail to engage and collaborate on their identical challenges, they facilitate the power and control Wall Street has over their lives. We refer to this phenomenon as the hijacking the human faculties to facilitate the subconscious self-reproduction of a oppressive capitalist domination.

The Youth

If children reared in an atmosphere of lawlessness and oppression, children whose potency has been frustrated, do not manage during their youth to take the path of authentic rebellion, they will either drift into total indifference, alienated from reality by the authorities and the myths the latter have used to shape them or they may engage in forms of destructive action.” – Paulo Freire, Pedagogy of the Oppressed

The future we are afraid of is already burgeoning within the hearts and minds of the kids. Anybody working in the schools is aware of the constant struggle trying to battle the system from within. We need people with critical consciousness working in schools and other public sectors of societies. Tell children the truth and give them the tools they need to build solidarity and literal class consciousness. Increase the agency of childhood by encouraging cross-grade socialization and collaboration on projects. If we give the youth a genuine sense of pride, step back and watch what they do with it, they will exceed our expectations.

Whereas alienation has been cultivated within the minds of the passing generations during the process of their education and socialization,  social dis-engagement has become an unquestioned aspect of our waking existence. It is time that we identify the source and beneficiaries of our apathy and judge our daily interactions on their efficacy in raising the social awareness of the working class.

What we can do?

There are plenty of opportunities. Apathy is not a natural condition but rather has been forced on us by social conditions designed by the ruling class. Ultimately we are working toward fundamental changes in the social structure and the relation of classes of people to the means of production etc. Of course there is no easy answer, but we know we need a diverse array of tactics within dynamic strategies.

As you aim to resolve the contradictions embedded in society,

1) Objectify and discard apathy

2) Use the commons as the commons. Reclaim any and all public spaces to develop the social consciousness of the masses

3) Encourage existing civil society groups like churches to denounce escapism and use them like they have in the past as centers for organizing and carrying out political action. Remind the congregations that the old testament prophets were all people who spoke truth to power and pointed out corruption wherever it was found. (“Is there no balm in Gilead?”)

4) Interact with people in an unexpected way that makes them think.

5) Allow connections to form and be a humble mediator of differing parties.

6) Mention to the workers that they ought to own the factories they toil in. Let them know that wage-labour is little different than slavery. Even if they don’t get it at first, it’s important to repeat and expose the people to key messages.

7) Take care of your physical, mental and spiritual health so we can be there for comrades in need.

8) Respect the youth as well as our elders.

9) Make time to spend time with like-minded people pre-figuring the world through the changes you each would like to see take place.

10) Organize yourselves in action committees, but don’t neglect guerrilla politics — In whichever institutions you happen to be a part of, strive to gain as much political influence as possible as individuals and maintain regular communication with your covert network of activists throughout the concrete jungles

We are in for a long protracted struggle. Meditate. Remind yourself always that the truth will prevail. And “most of all,” without being too hard on yourself about the concessions you need to make from time to time, “see to it that you do not lend yourself to the evils you condemn.”

“The Truth about Muhammad Ali and the Draft” — Wall Street Journal Op-ed Shamelessly Smears an Icon

On April 28th, 2017, the Wall Street Journal gave us a perfect real-time example of a feeble attempt to re-write history. In an oddly-timed Op-ed, Paul Beston, whose qualifications include having written about boxing before, strings together a few out-of-context quotes and factoids to fabricate a narrative in which “Muhammad Ali’s] refusal to serve [in the war of American aggression in Vietnam] wasn’t motivated by conscience, but by fear of being killed by the nation of Islam.” Is this true? No — Perish the thought.

On the fiftieth anniversary of Muhammad Ali’s draft resistance, Beston and the WSJ try to re-cast the story naming the US Army as his potential savior from a murderous band of fanatical Muslims. According to this creative interpretation of the story, Ali missed an opportunity to “unify” the country but “tragically” decided to be race-conscious instead. As we begin unpacking this article, contemplate how Beston and the WSJ’s narrative dove-tails with the foreign policy interests of the United States today. Also, we would make a connection lest we neglect to link this article to Colin Kaepernick who, like Ali, put millions of dollars and his career on the line to take a definitive stand against systemic racism.

The opinion piece opens with a condescending and shameless repetition of the name which he rightly denounced for its link to slavery. Beston’s passive reminder that Ali’s ancestors were owned by a white slave-owning patriarch named Clay sets the tone for the rest of the article. Indeed, anybody who insists on summoning the man’s former slave name has no idea about what Ali went through or the principles on which he made his decision.

The principle of which Mr. Beston willfully displays his ignorance is identical to the one upon which Ali acted in accepting the Muslim religion and resisting conscription in the American invasion of Vietnam. In his own words,

“I ain’t draft dodging. I ain’t burning no flag. I ain’t running to Canada. I’m staying right here. You want to send me to jail? Fine, you go right ahead. I’ve been in jail for 400 years. I could be there for 4 or 5 more, but I ain’t going no 10,000 miles to help murder and kill other poor people. If I want to die, I’ll die right here, right now, fightin’ you, if I want to die. You my enemy, not no Chinese, no Vietcong, no Japanese. You my opposer when I want freedom. You my opposer when I want justice. You my opposer when I want equality. Want me to go somewhere and fight for you? You won’t even stand up for me right here in America, for my rights and my religious beliefs. You won’t even stand up for my right here at home.”

Contrary to this reality, Beston insists that in “searching for meaning in a segregated America, [Ali] found the wrong answers,” one of which was his refusal to become a mascot for America’s invasion of Vietnam. “Had Ali chosen more wisely,” Beston continues, “he might have become a unifier,” however, “Ali’s refusal to serve helped deepen America’s racial and political divisions.” Ali, according to Beston, “hurt himself and achieved no social good in doing so.”

Okay, let’s start unpacking this ridiculous array of fallacies. America was already divided on the issue of the war. In a Gallup poll taken only a few weeks after Ali’s conscientious objection in April 1976, 50% of the country disapproved of the war. Ultimately, Ali was ahead of his time. Just a year later, mainstream America was beginning to align itself with Ali’s position on the war. In 1967, the war’s approval ratings dropped to 40% and continued to drop year after year to 21% in 1971 after which Gallup stopped collecting data on the question. While the data is telling, the factual contradiction like this merely underlie the perverse motivation of Beston to warp the history of a transcendent world figure.

Beston continues his diatribe by comparing Ali’s Parkinson’s disease to his religious objection to the war and concludes that the former was the “defining tragedy” of the man’s life. Apparently, The Wall Street Journal would have its audience know that Parkinson’s disease was merely a tragedy that he suffered alone while his refusal to participate in the killing of innocent people was a tragedy he imposed upon all of the American people. Could there be a more blatant attempt to disrespect and discredit a civil rights leader and world figure?  We would ask the editors of the Wall Street Journal if they would have had the courage to publish a piece like this if the man were still alive? We think not. When The Heavyweight championship of the world tells us that his denouncement of war gave him “peace of mind and heart and the respect of his people,” we see no reason to call him a liar.

However, the article is correct about one thing. The private interests groups which become the government aimed to appropriate the image and fame of Ali by making him a mascot of their pernicious foreign policy objectives. Beston points out that the military establishment sought the services of Ali in a “ceremonial [non-combat] role.” Knowing that the democratic support for the war was shaky from the jump, the establishment needed a political relations maneuver to win over the masses. We are not sorry that this plan backfired.

Muhammad Ali’s political consciousness which informed his religious convictions forbade that he participate in the killing of innocent people. In his own words, “My conscious won’t let me go shoot my brother, or some darker people, or some poor hungry people in the mud for big powerful America. And shoot them for what? They never called me nigger, they never lynched me, they didn’t put no dogs on me, they didn’t rob me of my nationality, rape and kill my mother and father… Shoot them for what? …How can I shoot them poor people, Just take me to jail.”

Before we get on to the next issue, would like to address the question of the timing in relation to this article. Who might benefit from re-writing the history’s most well-known draft resister? Just look at selected quotes like, “he wasn’t afraid of jail. He was afraid of being killed by the Muslims.” This false narrative pathetically attempts to change the villain in the story of Muhammad Ali from America’s racist military-industrial complex to a dangerous group of murderous Muslims. We understand that the content and timing of this piece are aligned with what we would expect from an establishment which is interested in garnering support its aggressive military intervention in the Islamic world.

As always, while our intention was to draw attention to the contradictions propagated in the establishment press, Muhammad Ali is uniquely suited to speak for himself of these issues. We invite you to watch the video shared below to hear this message in his own words.

Original article —

2017 Earth Day Celebrations Fuel the Fire

We are worried that the de-contextualized “March for Science” on Earth Day 2017 was a reactionary misdirection of popular energy. In order to influence their cause, the people need to carry out tactics aimed at liberating science from the yoke of crony-capitalism. Only then will science be allowed it to enhance the lives of the people instead of just those of the 1%.

The practice and benefits of science and technology need to be placed in democratic control of organized communities. This can be accomplished by changing the relationship of entire classes of people to the centers of power and productive forces of society. Because of science and technology’s historical link to the ‘military-industrial complex’ and ecological destruction, we believe that popular fanaticism about science can only add fuel to the fire which is burning up ‘our’ planet.

Before commenting further, we would like to add a point of clarification. This is not a diatribe or attack on the principle of science itself. Quite the contrary, we recognize the unique value of the scientific method and the knowledge gained by means of it. Our commentary is critical specifically on the focus on the issue of science on a day supposedly devoted to stewardship and respect for the environment.

The extent to which the establishment loves science even more than the people can be counted in billions of dollars.

First, let us acknowledge the reason why the Trump administration is suppressing the results of ecological research. Could it be any more clear that the incentive for political climate-change denial is created by the power of the oil and gas industries? Imagine a physicist who to approaches the government with a plan for a new way to split an atom — Is there any doubt that he would be given all the money and assistance he needs to develop the next big weapon of mass destruction? Of course not.

The quickest glance at human history shows that there was no threat to the eco-health of ‘our’ planet before the 20th century explosion of science and technology. Prior to the industrial revolution, the totality of human activity amounted to spiritually and physically sustainable interactions within healthy ecosystems.

There is no principled war on science. In fact, the extent to which the establishment loves science even more than the people can be counted in billions of dollars and bought elections. Scientific R&D [research and development] has had the overwhelming support of government and big-business for ages. All in all, the research funded through the Pentagon and other institutions have led to new and exciting ways for privileged elites to exploit the environment and enslave labour.

‘But science simply reveals the truth. How could it have assumed a destructive relationship to the environment?’

A liquid naturally assumes the shape of the receptacle into which it is poured. In the same way, scientific discoveries are molded by the socio-political structure in which they are applied as technological advances. The technological applications of science are made real by the relationship of different classes of people to the means of production and exchange.

In an economic system of chattel slavery, for example, an improvement to technology related to agriculture does nothing to liberate the slaves and only makes their exploitation more efficient. Also, in today’s western society, when elites control capital to the exclusion of the working class, technology may only accelerate inequality until the shape of the receptacle [the political structure] is radically altered in the first place. This is why the popular demonstration against the Trump administration should be calling for systemic change to a social order which happens to incentivize the political denial of ecological research. To all the people who marched on April 22nd, we love that joined to express something you feel strongly about, but lest we not fail to contextualize the issue.

If only the climate of politics and governance were changing

STEM R&D is a fundamental link to various industries and the combination of forces which Dwight E. Eisenhower called the ‘military-industrial complex: Just take a look at the Manhattan Project.

J. Robert Openheimer and the Strategic Advisory Committee of which he was the head realized the destructive potential of the science they were undertaking and began vehemently pleading the government to halt the development of the hydrogen bomb. Naturally, the government ignored the experts and carried on funding, directing and appropriating scientific brilliance in order to enforce the interests of the ruling class upon foreign and domestic enemies. The momentum and power of the political vehicle in motion here is one which transforms the beauty of brilliant minds into a growing arsenal of weapons of mass destruction.

Changes within American universities after WWII provide another example. In the 1930s, American universities graduated less than 100 physics PhDs a year. This number grew to over 500 by 1955 and 1,500 by 1970. Did students suddenly become interested in a ‘rational’ approach to understanding nature? By no means! By 1954, 98 percent of federal funding for physics came from the Pentagon and 75 percent of all students whose research was funded by the Atomic Energy Commission [AEC] went on to work for the government.

Economic growth without a revolutionary change in social structure will lead to nothing more than increase in inequality, and an increase in scientific without the same pre-conditions will produce nothing but new ways to exploit the resources of the planet for the benefit of the privileged few who control the means of production, distribution, exchange and governance.

The glaciers of bureaucracy and corruption situated in Washington and Wall Street have been resilient to the energy of human passions because of the gravity of their influence which motivates the masses to chase windmills instead of identifying the real enemy and engaging in a protracted struggle against it.

We observe the militarization of knowledge is being carried out to logical conclusion. Clearly, cheer-leading for science in general is not only futile but also utterly misguided. When powerful politicians are denying something like climate change, the question is not why they are too foolish or stubborn to respect science, but rather how we can eliminate their interest in suppressing the findings of a particular branch of [ecological] science.

Reinstate Glass-Steagle, get money out of politics, and continue moving toward democratic communal and worker-control of all institutions, then continue inquiring into the mysterious circumstances of life through scientific exploration or by any other respectable means.

Only the ignorant speak of karma-yoga and devotional service as being different from the analytical study of the material world. Those who are actually learned say that he who applies himself well to one of these paths achievers the results of both.

-The Bhagavad Gita 5:6

The Creator of Capitalism and his 240-Year-Old Warning on the Danger of Corporations

You can leave Marx, Bakunin and Chomsky alone for now: One of the most clear reproaches of the power of corporations comes from the person credited with creating the theory of modern [capitalist] economics. Contrary to popular understanding, In 1776 Adam Smith clearly argued that incorporated industry is a danger to the people and a cancer to the “wealth of nations.”

Most high school and college students are familiar with first paragraphs of Adam Smith’s classic “The Wealth of Nations” in which he extols division of labour, but conveniently left out of the curriculum is his idea that it forces people into work that makes them “as stupid and ignorant as it is possible for a human creature to become.” The contrast between the two Adam Smiths; the dumbed-down mascot of capitalism and the true economist, is reified by the absence of his scathing condemnation of corporations from popular curriculum and consciousness.

“They are silent with regard to the pernicious effects of their own gains.”

The 18th century champion of capitalism vehemently warns that the unique qualities of incorporated industries would threaten the balance of civil society. The “exclusive privileges” of corporations warp the “natural” distribution of capital between the wages of labour, rent of land and the profit of stock. Here are a few points he makes to explain how and why this works…

“The masters, being fewer in number, can combine much more easily [than] the workmen.”

  1. “The monopolists, by keeping the market constantly under-stocked, by never fully supplying the effectual demand, sell their commodities much above the natural price, and raise their emoluments (profits) greatly above the natural rate.
    1. But what kind of capitalist despises excessive profit, you ask? Smith explains that “in reality, high profits tend much more to raise the price of work than high wages … [in that] the rise of wages operates in the same manner as a simple interest does in the accumulation of debt [whereas] the rise of profit operates like a compound interest. Corporations, says Smith, like to “complain much of the bad effects of high waged in raising the price, and thereby lessening the sale of their goods at both home and abroad. They say nothing concerning the bad effects of high profits. They are silent with regard to the pernicious effects of their own gains.”
  2. “Corporation laws enable the inhabitants of towns to raise their prices, without fearing to be undersold by the free competition of their own countrymen.”
    1. Thus a corporation also prevents the free flow of labour from one industry to another which would have occurred naturally in the absence of its by-laws.
  3. “In all disputes [between masters and workers] the masters can hold out much longer” by subsisting off of the stock they have already accumulated.
  4. The interests of corporations, unlike those of labourers, landlords and unincorporated merchants, is not strictly tied to the wealth of the nation.
    1. “…to widen the market and to narrow the competition is always in the interest of the dealers. To widen the market may frequently be agreeable enough to the interests of the public, but to narrow the competition must always be against it, and can serve only to enable the dealers, by raising their profit above what they naturally would be, to levy, for their own benefit, an absurd tax upon the rest of their fellow-citizens.”

“…they have become formidable to the government, and upon many occasions intimidate the legislature.”

So we see that by manipulating what Smith calls the “natural” relationship between the price of goods, labour and the rent of land, corporations acting in their own interest (as stated which, unlike those of labourers, are partially de-coupled from the interests of society as a whole) threaten the health of the different arms society and thereby threaten also the sustainable growth of the economy itself. In this system, the labourers and land-lords are stretched more thin than they would be in their “natural” state while the expanding corporations slowly overtake the wealth of the international market. The blood of the market begins to flow more and more exclusively through the heart of the burgeoning corporations while anemia spreads through the shrinking veins of the labour upon which parasite gains its sustenance.

Intimidating the Legislative Branch

Adam Smith’s connection between the unique power of corporations to their propensity to corruption helps to clarify the rhetoric in this year’s Presidential election surrounding the “power of money in politics.” By following the infringement on free trade by corporate industry to its logical conclusion, it is natural to suggest that such interests would be forced into imposing secondary measures of control to sustain itself against backlash directed against its hegemony.

Adam Smith explains that the opulent minority will naturally respond to any threat to its power by employing part of its stock to lobby governmental bodies to pass measures which preserve their interests. Or in other words, the energy used to attack corporate power will be re-directed toward measures to protect itself. In Smith’s own his own words:

“To expect, indeed, that the freedom of trade should ever be entirely restored in Great Britain, is as absurd as to expect that an Oceana or Utopia should ever be established in it. Not only the prejudices of the public, but what is much more unconquerable, the private interests of many individuals, irresistibly oppose it. Were the officers of the army to oppose with the same zeal and unanimity any reduction in the number of forces, with which master manufacturers set themselves against every law that is likely to increase the number of their rivals in the home market; were the former to animate their soldiers, in the same manner as the latter enflame their workmen, to attack with violence and outrage the proposers of any such regulation; to attempt to reduce the army would be as dangerous as it has now become to attempt to diminish in any respect the monopoly which our manufacturers have obtained against us. This monopoly has so much increased the number of some particular tribes of them, that, like an overgrown standing army, they have become formidable to the government, and upon many occasions intimidate the legislature. The member of parliament who supports every proposal for strengthening this monopoly, is sure to acquire not only the reputation of understanding trade, but great popularity and influence with an order of men whose numbers and wealth render them of great importance. If he opposes them, on the contrary, and still more if he has authority enough to be able to thwart them, neither the most acknowledged probity, nor the highest rank, nor the greatest public services can protect him from the most infamous abuse and detraction, from personal insults, nor sometimes from real danger, arising from the insolent outrage of furious and disappointed monopolists.”

“…to attempt to reduce the army would be as dangerous as it has now become to attempt to diminish in any respect the monopoly which our manufacturers have obtained against us”


The natural consequences of corporate behavior including the systematic exploitation of the working class have been concealed by the myth of generalized neoliberal prosperity. The strength of this lie is limited by the ability of the ruling class to indoctrinate the masses and internalize their values. As always, when the masses answer the demand to rise against their oppressors, the “tyrants will flee like a dream’s dim imagery”*

The most powerful weapon against any centralized power is today the same as it has always been: Organization. It’s no mistake that the culture has replaced for us community for individual competition. Rivers of resources exit ecosystems and rural and local communities and flow into the pockets of transnational corporations which operate in concert to under-cut local procurement and control resources. We have submitted the value of the faculty of our attention to be led into veritable cells fixed to screens which train us to be professional consumers competing for endless commodities like animals fighting over scraps that fall off the table of our gluttonous masters. Focused on our own petty gains against our brethren and neighbors we let them infiltrate our liberty and our democracy like a negligent farmer lets his crops be stifled by the overgrowth of noxious weeds.

In “the land of the free” corporations systematically limit our choices by designing for itself an economic environment in which men and women must perform menial tasks divorced from the meaningful relationship between the nature and fruits of their labour. No witch hunt is required because we can understand that the shift of corporate power from the economy to government fits within the logical frame-work of laissez-faire economics, and it is because these effects are predictable that any policy regulating industry or trade must be examined with the utmost suspicion and by those of us who rent themselves in service to unaccountable private power.

In conclusion, those who argue in favor of corporate industry; the ostensible “job creators” of society, have not only left-wing theorists to contend with: Their beef is with the revered “Father of Capitalism” himself, and he was not in the least bit ambiguous on the matter.

*From Percy Bysshe Shelley’s poem “The Masque of Anarchy” composed when in Italy he heard news of fifteen dead and hundreds injured during the Peterloo Massacre in Manchester, England, August 16th, 1988.


Smith, Adam. An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations. Chicago: Encyclopædia Britannica, 1955. Print.

E Pluribus Unum: The Perils of Color-blind Racism

‘E pluribus unum’ is not sensible to us anymore. Whether you take it from the beginning of time, life or human civilization, reality has been marked by a constant progression from unity to increasing diversity of forms and ideas. Experience dictates that the ‘many’ emerge out of ‘the one,’ not the opposite.

Everything is essentially unified on both sides by sharing the same ultimate origin and destination. There is no side-stepping this fact or escaping this width of this umbrella. As the universe carries out its behavior, we run into the potential of insulting reality by glossing over its magnificent diversity with a feeble construct of artificial homogeneity. It stands to reason that we can get the most out of life by acknowledging and respecting our real differences and not by feigning blindness to what makes us individuals and groups deserving of unique sovereignty.

E unum pluribus.

On the other hand, the myth of ‘e pluribus unum’ limits the agency of diversity in ruthless system of global capital linked with flourishing inequality and the suppression of national sovereignty. The principle implies that our origins are different while our experiences are the same. Perish this thought. On the contrary, our origin is of course identical while our lived experiences, cultures, genders and ethnicities are different. There does not appear to be any natural or imagined coalescence of beings into a living unity which does not threaten to erase the true diversity which testifies to the glory of the mysterious circumstances of existence.

But why does this matter? The court system pretends to be objective on issues of race and gender thus preventing a defense from bringing up the relevance of these factors before a jury. Because racism and sexism are systemic [built into the momentum of the systems through which society operates] elements relating to the diversity of individuals need to be made salient in order to prevent stereotype-consistent judgments from surfacing in and out of the courtroom. Virtually all recent social science research supports the claim that stereotype-consistent behavior manifests in society regardless of the egalitarian values of the actors and that the best way to combat implicit bias is to make racial and other potentially confounding factors salient during the process of judgement and reflection.

An ethic of ‘e unum pluribus’ allows peoples to recognize their identical common origin while allowing the space and freedom necessary for individual and mutual self-realization. There is a growing need to change the power system and make it more subsidiarity. This process can be facilitated through internalizing and carrying out the principle that diversity is fundamental and cannot be glossed over by un-elected private tyrannies located at the upper echelons of society.