Why are Republicans so intent (and finally successful) on limiting unemployment benefits? Are they unsatisfied with low crime rates? Is the misery level not high enough? Are not enough houses being foreclosed upon? Well, I’m kidding (mostly) about those, but they are side-effects of the real goal.
What most in the 1% want is to lower labor costs. That’s basically what this all boils down to. The general population is not seen by these people (or at least their corporate identities) as human beings, we are seen as the term in the production equation that we represent – “labor power.”
Labor costs (in other words, wages and salaries) fall as the number of applicants per job rises. Also, as alternatives disappear – other jobs or the prospect of survival on unemployment checks.
There is some confusion as to what “labor power” is. First of all, labor power is not labor. It is the labor of many people aggregated and commodified. Think of a cow vs. “beef.” This labor power could be picking fruit, or selling insurance, or anything where actual, human work is performed in order to accomplish a specific task.
Once a group (either an “enemy” or a group which is to be subordinated) is dehumanized, it becomes easier to simply think in terms of “problem – solution.” If leaders in another country oppose your economic hegemony, either bomb them, assassinate them, or at least work for their overthrow behind the scenes. If it’s a subordinate group such as laborers that’s acting up, threaten their well-being, make it clear to them how lucky they are to have a job at all, cut off all alternatives, make life a living hell until your terms are accepted.
Then, you will get what you want – compliance, acquiescence, capitulation, and conformity. This is not hatred nor even ill will. It’s simply “good” business and the prioritization of profit above all other values. They want workers to accept lower pay and fewer benefits, period.
The classes that contain America’s workers are seen simply as the providers of the commodity, labor power. As I said, this group is not made up of individual humans. It is simply, as a group, a factor in an equation. As a group they are dehumanized, which makes any sort of treatment acceptable.
Tom Rossi is a commentator on politics and social issues. He is a Ph.D. student in International Sustainable Development, concentrating in natural resource and economic policy. Tom greatly enjoys a hearty debate, especially over a hearty pint of Guinness.