Dear Unknown Friends:
Here is the third part of Shame Goes with It All, by Eli Siegel. This great 1970 lecture is from his Goodbye Profit System series, begun in May of that year. In those landmark classes he described what other historians had not seen: economics based on the profit motive had failed and would never recover.
The profit way, he made clear, was always unethical, always ugly. After all, the profit motive is the looking on a fellow human being not for the purpose of understanding him, wanting him to fare well, to get what he deserves, wanting to relate him to oneself and use him to know oneself. Rather, it is the seeing of another with the motive of aggrandizing oneself through this person: you hope the person is so desperate that you can pay him very little for his work—or charge him very much for something he needs.
That (despite all that’s been done to glamorize it) is the profit motive. It has made for sweatshops, child labor, thousands of industrial accidents (because safety measures cost money and cut into profits). It has made for poverty, and hunger. And Mr. Siegel explained that this motive which for centuries was unethical and cruel now is also inefficient: it is a victory for humanity and ethics that the immoral is now also the impractical.
It is nearly 45 years later, and he was right. Today, in order to keep that sick thing, a profit-motivated economy, on life support—to force it to bring in wealth for a few—millions of Americans are being made poorer and poorer. Read more.