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Monday, October 10, 2005

This Could Be Oppression

Oppression means different things to different people, for me it is the use of political power and domination having officials control all wealth and goods and dole them out in strict equality to maintain an unjust system, which is for the benefit of the rulers, at the expense of the ruled. Such oppression may exist at the level of the state. Poverty as oppression in America is a direct result of the economic mandates and tendencies of capitalism. A capitalistic economy is inherently impersonal and concerned exclusively with profit. In the ever-present drive for profit, oppression becomes the relationship between workers and employers as employers try to maximize profits by minimizing wages. Thus the primary cause for poverty amidst the working class is oppression. Not only does capitalism require a marginal labor force of the unemployed to depress wages, but recently it has shown its need to eliminate employees and produce internationally to reduce costs. Thus the working class finds itself in periodic poverty due to oppression for three main reasons: unemployment, layoffs, and subcontracting.

I agree that oppression involves power and coercion. As such, I think the most likely place to observe oppression in our lives involves government. I disagree strongly with the rest of your suggestion. The realm of market activity is the realm of voluntary actions by individuals, except to the extent that government makes efforts to coerce individuals to either choose what they would not voluntarily choose, or makes efforts to coerce individuals to not choose what they want. Unemployment does not, in general result from coercion, except in the case where government imposes a minimum wage. Consider also the presence of unions in the labor market. Unions cannot exist without coercion. They will fall apart without coercion. Historically the early development of unions involved much violence, and I would say violence that was the result of union efforts. The violence began to end once government put its coercive power behind the unions. Given the oppression involves coercion, and given that government has put its coercive power behind unions, could we not point to the heyday of unions in the United States as an illustration of oppression? In other words, government was being oppressive because it was coercing employers to make choices they would not, of their own volition, make.
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