The Gravel Institute: How Capitalism Exploits You

At the very heart of capitalism is a system of exploitation. That is not a pejorative label: it’s an objective definition of what work actually means. In order for capitalists to make a profit, their workers have to earn less than the value they produce, and that extra value has to go to their bosses. You’re being robbed – and it’s the system called capitalism that’s doing it. Professor Richard Wolff, the Founder of Democracy at Work, explains. 

"At any job you work at, the condition of your employment is that you produce more by your labor than you get paid. So in the capitalist system, no one is paid what they’re worth. Capitalism means they get paid significantly less. All profit is value extraction. And that means that all profit is theft -- from you."


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  • carole oleniuk
    commented 2021-02-21 06:18:16 -0500
    My moral compass functions a little in the way of a real world physical compass. It goes around in the circle with an infinite set of points, and it is personal. What I think is good today may not be what I think is good tomorrow.

    For me, moral ideation helps understanding in the sense that it may raise questions that open the mind to new ideas and to understanding. Moral ideation, however, is influenced by experience and further by the luxury to indulge in it.

    Moral ideation can lead to the horrors produced in the name of freedom and democracy on the peoples of the world by the american military, the CIA and all of its spawn.

    Good is getting food on the table, providing shelter, staying healthy with fresh water and air. These necessities of life are strongly affected by power and politics to the extent of denying them to the mass of people in order to protect and promote the power of a few.

    My moral ideation leads to collective and cooperative real world experience. Another’s moral ideation leads to the repression of those deemed to be others. As these ideations collect adherents, they battle it out with others in the realm of politics which often concerns itself with power.

    Moral ideation, trying to find the good, in the realm of property and power leads to considerations of equality and universality which in its dialectical way takes us back to the question: who owns the earth?
  • Pasqual DiGesu
    commented 2021-02-14 12:57:25 -0500
    I believe everyone has a right to their space based on availability and lawful acquisition not only from others but what nature can provide without ecological upset. In Europe living property is truly owned and cannot be taken away for lack of property tax paid and is old property passed on to the next generation. Therefore the concept of freedom related to property is more real.
    One can also say Socialism and not conservativism was built on religious foundation since most major religions are built on charity, empathy and sharing what one has.
    Power is full of danger, true, unlimited money and property / assets equals power in capitalist America where power buys government, and yes capitalist elsewheres. What can better control the distribution of power? the people or a governor…. patriarch? This balanced distribution also connects religious principles more to socialist philosophy.
    And to adhere to so-called religious practice out of fear for god rather than love for god or Christian philosophy is a gross misconception of religious meaning, mostly here in the western and puritan world. (god bless us, (not them))
    As for the rest, there is a fine line between concepts such as collective thinking, provided it benefits the whole ect. ect.

    It seems that our true problem is above all UNDERSTANDING concepts and following a true moral compass
  • carole oleniuk
    commented 2021-02-10 04:20:02 -0500
    In reading Keith Ford’s post, I find a Christian defence of private property, perhaps a libertarian defence of private property. Private property is something that in my mind is best described by Gollum in his “my precious”. But don’t get me wrong, I love my privacy. However, in this culture I must always be ready to have that privacy invaded. But mostly I have all the privacy I want.

    I have personal property, we might call them my chattels or the things I have around me: clothes, furnishings, a house and a piece of private “real property”. I own one tenth of an acre of land, “real property”, which defines the limits of what property I can rightly call mine, “my precious”.

    I have boundaries around my person which are many. The person I make available to the world is an appearance. I consider a form of freedom to by my ability to set the boundaries of my interactions with the world. It is a limited freedom because the world places many limits on my freedom.

    Private property is an attempt, by those who support it, take and hold something that no-one else can lay claim to. For example, the property I live on and claim as my own by way of title, was never ceded by the people who lived on it before the Europeans settled and claimed it. The people who lived here before the settlers did not have the concept of private property. They believed the earth, the land, the dirt, belonged to itself and could not be owned by any person. The earth was what sustained them and their communities.

    So when push comes to shove, my private property is just the imagined creation of a set of laws to bring European settlers over to work for the resource extraction criminals who roam the earth so that they can find the gold ring “my precious” and not have to worry about being homeless.

    But, where ever I have lived, the matter of boundaries has always been a source of conflict. Far from resolving conflict, boundaries just create a whole new realm of dispute.
  • Keith Ford
    commented 2021-02-05 01:13:27 -0500
    Russell Kirk and Conservatism.

    Any thoughts, criticisms, or critiques are welcome and appreciated.

    In the Concise Guide, Kirk lays out ten characteristics of conservative thought.

    “Men and nations are governed by moral laws; and those laws have their origin in a wisdom that is more than human—in divine justice” (2). Kirk made clear that “Christianity prescribes no especial form of politics” (9). At the same time, he believed that conservatism was built on a religious foundation and that religion in the modern world was largely defended by conservative people (9). “The conservative believes that the fear of God is the beginning of wisdom” (10)
    “Variety and diversity are the characteristics of a high civilization. Uniformity and absolute equality are the death of all real vigor and freedom in existence” (2-3). In rejecting absolute equality, Kirk did not mean equal treatment under the law, but an equal outcome enforced by the state.
    “Justice means that every man and every woman have the right to what is their own—to the things best suited to their own nature, to the rewards of their ability and integrity, to their property, and their personality” (3). Society, said Kirk, is a partnership in which all have equal rights but not all have equal things.
    “Property and freedom are inseparably connected: economic leveling is not economic progress” (3). Kirk argues that the three fundamental rights in the Anglo-American tradition have been life, liberty, and property (what Thomas Jefferson described more expansively as “the pursuit of happiness”). If there were no private property, we would not all be rich together; we would all be poor together (56-57). Private property is not only a good in itself; it is also a means to culture and freedom. The role of the state is to protect man’s property, not to allocate it. For his part, the virtuous citizen understands that property comes with duties, and by our property and possessions we ought to serve God and serve our fellow men (60).
    “Power is full of danger; therefore, the good state is one in which power is checked and balanced, restricted by sound constitutions and customs” (3-4). Kirk is not anti-authority, nor even anti-government. He considers government “a necessary good” provided it is just, balanced, and restricted. Men with power cannot be trusted, so ambition must be made to counteract ambition.
    “The past is a great storehouse of wisdom; as Burke said, ‘The individual is foolish, but the species is wise’” (4). The conservative knows he was not born yesterday. He is eager to listen to the “democracy of the dead.” The conservative does not idealize the past, but he believes that we will be wiser if we listen to the wise men and women of the past.
    “Modern society urgently needs true community: and true community is a world away from collectivism” (4). Conservatives are public-spirited. They believe in doing one’s duty to town and country, to his business and to his church, to his school and to his union, to his civic association and to his charitable fund (44). In genuine community, decisions are made locally wherever possible, and philanthropy and neighborliness are voluntary virtues.
    “In the affairs of nations, the American conservative feels that his country ought to set an example to the world, but ought not to try to remake the world in its image” (5). Kirk is less interested in a specific foreign policy than in a general inclination that urges America to be virtuous, without necessarily being interventionist.
    “Men and women are not perfectible, conservatives know; and neither are political institutions. We cannot make heaven on earth, though we may make a hell” (5). Human nature is not malleable. We must deal with people as they are, not as we wish them to be. This means, as Kirk says elsewhere, “politics is the art of the possible, not the art of the ideal.”
    “Change and reform, conservatives are convinced, are not identical: moral and political innovation can be destructive as well as beneficial” (5-6). The conservative does not believe in change for the sake of change. He is not eager for revolution. He does not believe in the abstract cult of progress. When in doubt, permanence should be favored over progress. Choose what is old and tried, even if it is imperfect, before what is new untried. Conservatives prefer the devil they know to the devil they don’t know.

    Any thoughts, criticisms, or critiques are welcome and appreciated.

    Kirk was writing in the 1950s so the great enemy, as he saw it, was collectivism and totalitarianism. Like many conservatives, he did not see the injustices in his country as well as the injustices in other countries. In general, the conservative movement since World War II has been proven right on the issues of communism and socialism but has often been proven slow (or wrong) on the issue of race. Of Kirk’s ten points, I’d say 1 is undeniably Christian and 4, 5, 6, and 9 can be drawn from Christian principles, but they are certainly not the last word on moral philosophy or a Christian approach to society and politics. As I said earlier, I do not offer this summary of conservatism because I think it should become a confessional standard for Christians. Perish the thought! We have an inerrant Bible, not to mention our own dogmatic tradition. But I do believe Kirk’s definition of conservatism (or something like it) is worth our careful consideration, not least of all from those Christians who call themselves conservatives.
  • Richard Wolff
    published this page in Updates 2021-02-01 13:12:43 -0500