three beers on an empty stomach will turn any white boy with a bachelors degree into a Fox news commentator.
Recently during a Democratic Socialists of America Reading Group hosted by my local we discussed the introduction to the book In Defense of Housing. One of the first topics we leaped upon was the nature and use of the term “Housing Crisis.” Housing across the nation, and arguably the world, is one of the number one issues regarding the negative effects of capitalism.
Something that stuck out to me from the reading was how the author pointed out that so long as their has been a working class something related to shelter has always been synonimous with their troubles. In the medieval times it was the lack of an ability to own land, in the age of industrialization it was the living conditions of the proletariate, today it is about affordability and accessibility. There is no shortage of housing, but there is a shortage of cheap cars and public transportation to get to and from where these overpriced and over developed houses tend to be. The point is that so long as there has been capital, there has been a “housing crisis” of some kind.
As such I expressed concern in the reading group about even using the word “crisis” to describe our situation. I felt that the word ‘crisis’ connotates that the issue of housing is one that can be solved with simple policy or electoral change alone. Clearly that is not the case when one sees how issues regarding shelter and housing are constant to the times and places where capitalism has existed.
A comrade pointed out that strategically it makes sense to use the term “crisis” in our time and place. In Sacramento we are enduring a spike in poverty that ranks among the highest in the nation. Our rent is rising at the fastest rate of any city in the nation, and our homeless population has doubled, even tripled in the last year according to some statisticians. In regards to all that, I concede the term “Housing Crisis” is both applicable and a matter of fact.
Yet not long after this discussion I had one of those, “aha Eureka!” Moments. This may be unimpressive to most of you but for me I am proud to have finally connected these dots.
Numerous readings talk about how capitalism is always in crisis, i.e. the boom and busts of unregulated markets which escalate this false dialogue about scarcity. This idea of scarcity is inherent to capitalism, we either never have enough money, food, medicine, or shelter to go around, as such the capitalists spike the prices to profit from our own labor and our fear of this scarcity. Then it hit me, the housing crisis, both my local one and the international one, are capitalism themselves. This new housing crisis is another manifestation of capitalism in order to keep us at the mercy of those who own the means of production, including shelter. Capitalism is a crisis, and the housing crisis is capitalism.
As such, I think I am now much more comfortable using the word “crisis” when I talk about capitalism, especially the Housing Crisis of Sacramento, CA.
A consistent defense that capitalist liberals and conservatives like to go to when defending DACA and Dreamer’s is how much surplus value Dreamers generate. Of course, they don’t actually use the words “surplus value.” What happens is nearsighted liberal mouth pieces like Joy Ann Reid go on twitter tangents about how much money Dreamers pump into the economy, or about how many start their own businesses, or how many of them have ‘served their country’ by helping us to invade others.
The point is, too many people are using the revenue generated by immigrants and their labor as justification for keeping them in their country. Or they perptuate this onesided self-serving dialoque of how immigrants already make America great without acknowledging the reality of our treatment of immigrants up to this very day. In fact these people will talk about DACA and Dreamers as if they are all Mexican or Spanisgh speaking immigrants. This is an act of racism because not all Dreamers are from Spanish speaking countries and this adds to the already staggering list of ways we ignore our Asian and Pacific born Immigrants. Accessibilty to information for those who speak Spanish is more attainable than for those who speak Cantonese or Mandarin and even then the resources are not explicitly made available.
In any case, the dialoque that people take when defending immigrants based on the work they do is classist, and classism is a form of racism for it is the the politics of the class struggle that intersects all other struggles. Patriarchy, racism, xenophobia all have their roots in the capitalist system. To ignore class is to ignore the disporpotional fact that most of the poor are people of color and immigrants, especially when one considers how undocumented immigrants cannot collect welfare benefits. This is only perpetuated when we say crap like “Immigrants Make America Great” or “Immigrants pay such and such in taxes” or “Immigrants make up blah blah blah percent of this industry.” The biggest issue with this capitalist notion that an immigrant is only as good as the surplus revenue they generate is that it reinforces the racist idea of Nationalism, one which liberals claim to be against but their fetishization of Immigrants making America great with their labor and capital only reinforces the idea of Nationalism. Borders mean nothing except to the powers that be that draw them. Immigration should be as simple as moving to a new apartment down the street, a matter of choice in a time of peace rather than a forced choice in a time of displacing crisis. The only reason it isn’t is because crisises are easier to capitalize on than anything else.
So my point is that you are not any less nationalist, and therefore not less racist, than the people screaming for DACA to be repealed and Dreamers to be deported if you only measure the worth of immigrants by the amount of money they generate or labor they provide. Because borders are artificial constructs in of themselves, deportation should not even be a punishment, or even exist as a concept. The very act of deporting anyone is an act of racist Nationalism, are we so unsure of ourselves that we can’t handle a few criminals? And even then, why not work on creating a society without criminals instead of just shoving people we label as such into other countries? Can this other country handle crime better than us? Is so how can America be so great if we are so quick to kick out people we don’t value? More to the point, why is there any kind of person we don’t value?
The intentions of the people defending DACA based on their generation of surplus value are good, but good intentions under capitalism is still capitalism. Joy Ann Reid and her contemproaries should be ashamed of themselves for reducing the suffering of these families to that of dollars and cents. The ones who refer to the Dreamers who are veterans also have good inentions but ignore how most people enlist out of a lack of options, however my tangent about the realities of class and soldiers is for another day.
In summary, no one deserves to be deported. No one who makes a point of crossing a border should be kicked out just for crossing a border because we as a planet should not even have borders in the first place. A person is not just their job or the money they generate, and liberals who want to do right for immigrants should realize that. Stop making yourselves feel better by perpetuating the racist dialoque of the “Model Immigrant.” Stop emphasizing peoples worth by the money they generate. No human is illegal, and no human deserves to face the dehumanizing process of being kicked out of a country, period.
democracy needs to be an act, not a state of being, in order to be a success.