November 17, 2012
Let’s go right to the source, Karl Marx writing in 1875:
In a higher phase of communist society, after the enslaving subordination of the individual to the division of labor, and therewith also the antithesis between mental and physical labor, has vanished; after labor has become not only a means of life but life's prime want; after the productive forces have also increased with the all-around development of the individual, and all the springs of co-operative wealth flow more abundantly—only then can the narrow horizon of bourgeois right be crossed in its entirety and society inscribe on its banners: From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs!
Which really reads:
In a higher phase of communist society – blah blah blah – From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs!
The United States has taken a mighty step towards turning this principle into practice. There are people over on one side who have all this income, and there are people on the other side who have all those needs. And while there is an overlap between the people with income and the people with needs – pretty well most of the reason for earning an income is to satisfy those needs – not all the people with needs have incomes, or at least not incomes high enough to suit them.
But every one of those people with needs but not enough income does have something else, a vote. So there is to be a new principle, call it the Obama Principle, which is the practical incarnation of Marx’s original principle. Now we have: From each according to his ability, to each according to his vote.
Majority rule, right? That “narrow horizon of bourgeois right” can now be crossed in its entirety. This “abundant co-operative flow of wealth”, which you didn't build anyway, has indeed come into existence.
Irrespective of how it got here, that wealth is Obama’s to distribute as he sees fit.
This democracy stuff is your principle, not his. You devised the system has made him the president, not him.
Too bad if you don’t like it because there’s not a thing you can do to change it.
The Quadrant Book of Poetry: 2001 - 2010
edited by Les Murray