Tag Archives: Capitalism

A Man, a Survivor

[a poem by   ~burning woman~  ]

A strange old man, a very ancient figure,
that’s who he was,
who he is,
who he will always be
.

A man of many titles in as many times:
poor Bill, mendicant, beggar and tramp.

At times,
panhandler, good-for-nothing loafer,
deadbeat, vagrant, hobo, gypsy
and in more recent times,
a welfare bum.

Sometimes this strange man
whom everybody sees, nobody knows
comes back from the sea,
sometimes from the wars or prison:
no one comes to the quay
or the bus stop to meet him

and to hug him.

Alone,
carrying a damp and dirty canvas bag
he limps down some dark alley
to find a familiar den,
a smoke-filled tavern, an inn.
a halfway house.

For a few coins, a room under a stairway
a garret with drafty shutters,
a condemned house

become his home ’til the angels come
or the demons, and who can ever tell?

Sometimes he just gets tired of jostling
for position and wealth – leaves one night
never to come back. Why for?

His wife re-married, does he care?
Who’s to know? Not even he
wandering the drafty city streets
with his new title and essential wealth.

He’s a successful miner now,
mining garbage for treasures
haphazardly arranged in a rusty shopping cart
(of front squeaky bent wheel
from an accidental encounter with a taxi)
until deposited for safekeeping.

They call him homeless now, the
politically correct term
for this strange old man who never did fit,
who in his youth had a strong back
to break up the coal, carry gear and pack a rifle
walk through flooded paddies
and burn babies in their mothers’ arms
inside grass huts in a land so far away.

He knew well enough then why he did this:
for God and country and freedom
they’d told him so and he believed.

He came back from the killing fields
to log the dark green hills
until the trees were gone.
He cleaned out curbs and culverts
for a pittance in part time jobs
to bolster free enterprise and capitalism.

“It’s all good” they said with a leer
and what could he do but believe?

He doesn’t remember much of that
and really, what does it matter now?
the rich got richer and died,
the dead remain dead
and he’s got his place
behind four loosened cement bricks
under a forgotten embankment
where he hides his “Precious”
and keeps a mouldy sleeping bag,
drinks, sleeps and feeds his nightmares
of bullets and blood,
of flames that roast flesh,
of screams of pain and terror:
the voices of the dead
his last remaining friends.

It’s time to work the streets again,
push the rusty cart with the squeaky bent wheel
until the angels return again
or the demons, and who’s to know?

He’ll be there again tomorrow
and the day after that
and even after the Great Day
there he will be in his dirty tattered rags
his long stringy hair blowing wildly
in the cold, cold winds that haunt
the endless dirty, drafty, empty city streets

What will his title be
next time I pass him by trying not to notice?

I think I already know this, in my heart
as I look around and ponder this place:
he’ll be the survivor.

Burn your Nikes? No, Boycott Nike

This timely article speaks loudly and clearly for itself.  I received it compliments of CounterPunch at  https://www.counterpunch.org/2018/09/07/burn-your-nikes-how-about-boycott-them-instead/

My introduction:  Since there are no WordPress buttons on Counter Punch, I contacted the writer for permission to cut and paste his article here, in my blog. He replied with an enthusiastic “yes.”

I’ve always known about Nike, and I make no apologies when I say that anyone, including the sudden American “black” hero Kaepernick, who endorses Nike is also endorsing Nike’s slaver conditions in all of their sweat shops; their criminal anti-human rights stance.  Nike is a vile capitalist exploiter and predator, make no mistake and make no mistake that Kaepernick is fully aware of this – no one can be that ignorant when they take huge piles of money from their handlers.  The money Kaepernick is receiving is slave labour money and I find that deceptive and his “take the knee” performance now a hypocritical travesty of protest that turns out very remunerative and convenient for himself.

The other thing I have to say is about a society that buys into the whole fashion industry.  I like to walk barefoot as I know it to be a very healthy way to go which a lifetime has taught me.  However society has a way to shame you, or force you, to wear shoes and few stop to wonder why? Simple to understand when you read this article.  Shoes are very big money and if more people went barefoot and more people cared about keeping their environment clean and safe for bare feet, some of those money piles would dwindle, would they not, even if only in losses of incremental sales.  Greedy corporations like Nike are astute manipulators of psychology and always creating auras of acceptance for their products.  Parts of society are harnessed to produce useless garments and parts of society are cajoled, conned, pushed and forced into wearing compliance.

No shirt, no shoes, no service.

Quote: “The United States alone bought nearly seven pairs of shoes a person in 2016. What a ridiculous society we live in! We buy our way into extinction, keeping our fellow humans in slavery through the process.”
Burn Your Nikes?

Nick Pemberton says don’t burn your Nikes, boycott them instead.

Burn Your Nikes? How About Boycott Them Instead

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“You have to stand proudly for the National Anthem or you shouldn’t be playing. You shouldn’t be there. Maybe you shouldn’t be in the country”

— Donald Trump

“Believe in something, even if it means sacrificing everything. #JustDoIt”

— Colin Kaepernick

“A man who stands for nothing will fall for anything.

— Malcolm X

Nike’s catchphrase “Just Do It” was inspired by murderer Gary Gilmore’s famous last words. Nike has been a bloodbath ever since. In the 1990s, there was real pressure on Nike to change their nightmarish working conditions. Those were the days when we cared about slavery.  Nike cleaned up its image and not much else. Since then they have been peddling apparel without consequence, save a few brave protestors.

Nike appeared to have changed its course to some degree, but recent findings tell a different story. in 2016 Nike denied the Worker Rights Consortium access to 690 supplier factories says labornotes.org. The 2018 documentary Behind The Swoosh details the sickening conditions. Piled together in cement boxes infested with rats, surrounded by sewers, workers tried to survive on 1.25$ a day. Jim Keady, former coach of St. John’s soccer, says he lost 25 pounds working in Indonesia on Nike’s wages.

Workers end up working overtime to compensate, never seeing their children. These children soon go into sweatshops at a young age themselves. The full cycle hits in Behind The Swoosh when we see the piles of Nike shoes brought from overseas and dumped for burning. The toxins burned in these shoes give the children cancer.

Resistance (I hesitate to even use that word anymore) to Nike is handled by the mafia bosses, according to the documentary. When Keady and Leslie Kretzu tried to get near a Nike factory they were surrounded by security. They then were followed by factory security, who were highly linked to the local mafia. Keady and Kretzu met with a local organizer Dita Sari who was put in prison and tortured for her union organizing.

There is no way to describe Nike’s working conditions other than modern day slavery.Workers work all day, breaking their backs and numbing their fingers. Some figures estimates that 250 million children under 15 work in sweatshops today. If one tries to organize, they are silenced with force. One has to wonder what is greater, the hunger or the hopelessness?

In the age of climate change, water evaporates and heat is extreme. Workers in sweatshops can work for 100 hours a week. Sometimes one can’t sleep for days. This never makes the news. Meanwhile Americans buy and buy. Materialism is the undiagnosed disease that uproots our souls and replaces them with possessions. Achieving material gains and rising in social status eclipses any capacity for empathy we have for the unseen.

Nike is not alone. The clothing, shoes and retail industry is amongst the most brutal in the world. They primarily target poor girls to do their bidding. Workers face tremendous amounts of abuse and wage theft and have little power to stop it. These industries are amongst the most environmentally heinous as well. From animal skin to fossil fuel to coal to waste to dangerous chemicals, the shoe industry wreaks havoc.  The United States alone bought nearly seven pairs of shoes a person in 2016. What a ridiculous society we live in! We buy our way into extinction, keeping our fellow humans in slavery through the process.

Like war, slavery has become so normalized it is barely a story anymore. We (this author sadly included) are most likely to think of slavery when it intersects when one of our rich and famous household names in the endless petty culture wars that postures as American politics. Colin Kaepernick may be my second favorite spokesperson for Nike (after the greatest athlete of all time, Serena Williams). Yet one has to be disappointed in Kaepernick’s latest ad campaign for Nike.

While Nike workers make a dollar a day, Kaepernick is raking in millions for his endorsement deal.  Kaepernick has exposed police violence at home but the war on the working class remains invisible. As soon as supporting the man became trendy, the slaveholder Nike touted him as inspirational. The brand became taking a stand (or a knee). But who will take a stand against the liberal slavery industrial complex?

It is possible to have a left critique of Black Lives Matter, a movement Kaepernick is often linked with. Bruce Dixon writes it better than I can here.  I’ll just say it is hard to imagine Malcolm X appearing in a Nike ad. Malcolm X would surely link police violence at home with slave labor and imperialist violence abroad. Above all, Malcolm was a curious and open-minded internationalist. In the age of Trump an uncompromising working class figure like Malcolm has never been more necessary. A giant like Malcolm reminds us that there was a time when souls mattered more than soles.

The liberal resistance was once again blind to real world politics in the age of Trump-like sensationalism. How many fools pledged their support for this organization that has more buried more harassments than #MeToo has even brought to light? How many suckers concerned about Barack Obama’s legacy turned away from brown children who are starving, enslaved and infested with cancer? How many people complaining about ignorant climate deniers went ahead and endorsed an environmental disgrace? The outpouring of support for Nike was just as sick as the John McCain procession just a week earlier. Could no one see through the liberal propaganda that offered trendy symbolism with one hand and slave labor on the other?

Heroes are hard to come by in the age of Trump, and one can see why people are tempted to tip their caps to Kap. The paranoia that the ex-NFL star inspires in Mr. Trump and his rabid supporters is impressive. They hilariously began burning their Nikes after Kaepernick appeared in a commercial for Nike. Note that Nike’s slave labor and environmental destruction did not move these people an inch.

Now what exactly will these Trump supporters be thinking of Nike? Are they just another globalist institution pedaling transgenderism, science and vaccines for all? Is Nike on the wrong side of the Qanon wars? Perhaps they were upset by the fact that Nike’s sweatshops contained more female workers than male workers, surely believing that the abuse by their bosses was consensual, their courage to stand up to them a witch hunt, and the lack of male workers a serious plot in the campaign to castrate all men vis-a-vis the lasers on Hillary’s pantsuit? Or perhaps it was the multiculturalism poured into each shoe by this equal opportunity employer who mysteriously ran most of its shady business out of black and brown countries? Why do they make you take off your shoes at airport security anyways? Is it because the shoes are Muslim?

Where does one start with the layers of contradiction? The anger against products made in China only comes when a “veteran-killing terrorist”a.k.a. an educated black man is endorsed by Nike. Does burning the Nike shoe, made in China, constitute less of a crime than burning an American flag, made in China? How about burning a MAGA hat, made in China? What kind of snob are you if you don’t give a hoot about child slavery and only become concerned with “elitism” after your least favorite football player appears in a commercial? Who burns their 120$ shoes as a protest against elitism anyways? Across the world, burning these shoes isn’t cool, it’s cancer inducing.

Those looking to explain away Trumpism through a backlash against globalism, elitism, liberalism, etc. may be on to something. But when Trump targets globalism he targets diversity, not slave labor. When Trump targets elitism he targets education and free thinking, not the 1%. When Trump targets liberalism, he is not taking on the Democrats from the left, he is challenging the notion of a pluralistic multiethnic society with women as equal citizens.

Perhaps once and for all Trumpism can be exposed for what is truly is. A movement whose only depth is the return of the white male ethos and whose only breadth is a coalition amongst the most angry, privileged and reactionary characters in today’s grim political landscape.

Trump and his fans once again whine about something legitimate, but for all the wrong reasons. They stumble upon the reality of the world only when it touches their fragile egos. They remain too ignorant and self-absorbed to know about anything else. Then again we all allow and endorse slavery from companies like Nike everyday, no matter who is in power.

For a moment let us dwell on the fact that a real, devastating, and hopeless pain is upon our sisters and brothers in sweatshops across the world. Are we this numb to the world’s most cruel condition of slave labor? The left may want to blame this all on capitalism, the liberals may want to blame this all on fascism and the Trumpettes may want to blame this all on liberalism. Above all we should agree that slavery in all forms is a cruel and unnecessary condition and that stopping it is urgent. So the next time one buys their shoes, just avoid a sweatshop. It’s not that hard. Here are some options to start. Many more options are available online or locally.

Boycott Nike. Just Do It.

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A Difficult but Necessary Matter of Balance

 (thoughts from    ~burning woman~   by Sha’Tara)

I haven’t had much time for blogging lately, being as they say, busy.  But surprisingly, I’ve had time, perhaps too much time, to think about this world, about its overall condition and where it is heading, apparently heedless and unaware.  I know this is a judgment forming an opinion, but not once in my entire life of 70 years has my sense of where things are going ever been wrong.  It’s like a compass in my mind, something I can “see” and rely on entirely, basing my personal movements on it, knowing when to “hold and when to fold” as the song goes.

I feel massive waves of sorrow passing over me time and again, triggered by many encounters: a baby in its mother’s arms; an old man hunched over waiting to safely cross a busy street; a homeless lady holding a sign saying, ‘Please buy my CD, I’m hungry’ and displaying a CD she probably found in a dumpster – (she got lucky: I saw her and I chose to believe her despite all the propaganda against her) or even moved to a helpless stop by the wind’s choreography of tree branches not yet covered in leaves.  A house hunched behind a sagging gate; a rusting sign from a business that went broke years before…  

Have you ever just “thought” about “the world” and had tears well in your eyes until they started flowing down your cheeks?  Closed your eyes and brought your hands together as if in prayer, though you don’t pray?  Then thinking, ‘Do I want to be here?’ and knowing the answer is ‘No, I don’t want to feel this, this way, connected to this chaos of ignorance, of pain, of apparent mindlessness.  I don’t want to be the stranger any longer; to not be able to speak to the trees, the birds, the clouds.  I’m tired of just feeling and finding it so terribly difficult to harness those feelings; to draw intelligence, awareness, understanding, acceptance and meaningful teaching from them.  That is probably neither their purpose, nor task but I’m breaking the rules here.’ 

Life, I find, is like driving a street.  Some parts are smooth, some rough.  Some are safe and some, well, you may not get out of alive.  The truly sad part is, much of life is entered into without its overall costs duly assessed.  People are programmed, it seems, to repeat patterns and unable to stop and consider the risks, the odds, based on previous lives, previous experiences of elder people, or people in history.  ‘What are my chances this is going to work as I hope?’ Is not the question asked.  Plunge into the swamp, there are no alligators here!  But there are, disguised as floating logs.  You may have passed your swimming tests and won medals, but guaranteed: terror is but a splash behind you, and it isn’t virtual reality. 

Too dark a vision?  Probably, but some of us have chosen a path that runs counter to that of the herd and we see that which the herd isn’t permitted to see, and would not want to see in any case. 

Someone has to shed burning hot tears for the dying.  It’s a difficult but necessary matter of balance.