How might Marxists look at the targets of the terrorism and why they were chosen?
The main targets for the 9/11 attacks were the World Trade Center, the pentagon, and the US capital. From the Marxist perspective, the choice of these targets could have been motivated by the terrorist’s perceived economic suppression as well as their perceived political suppression. The World Trade Center used to host a number leading corporations, meaning that the Marxists might have looked at this target as a symbol of the dominant capitalists whose activities were contributing to the increased misery of the working class population. The Marxists would see the attack against the World Trade Center as the people’s realization that capitalism was actually unjust. From the Marxist perspective, the attack on the World Trade Center is a revolutionary action in which the proletariat class decides to take action into their own hands by abolishing private property owned by the bourgeoisies together with exploitative tendencies and the profit motive.
The Pentagon and US Capital, from the Marxist perspective, can be seen as symbols of the state machinery. While the capitalists wield economic power, the state machinery wields political power which, equally oppressing the people in a bid to sustain this power. Marxists perceive the executive powers enjoyed by the state apparatus as having “an appalling parasitic growth.” As such, having the Pentagon and US Capital as targets might be interpreted as the quest by the oppressed to free themselves from the patristic relationship they have with the state.
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How might Tocqueville think about the future of American democracy in relation to the U.S. response to the attacks?
The US responded to the 9/11 attacks by taking a series of drastic measures aimed at ensuring that such attacks never happen again. Not only did the state enact more stringent immigration laws, but it also enacted the USA Patriotic Act that gave law enforcers more powers to conduct surveillance activities and assessment of potential security threats. As a result of this law, law enforcement officials gained more power to eavesdrop, monitor people’s financial activities, carry out searches without activities and even detain and deport those suspected of engaging in terrorist activities. The country also responded by taking the war against terrorists to the countries suspected to harbor terrorist groups, more specifically Afghanistan.
In his analysis of democracy in America, Tocqueville opines that the country has successfully established and maintained sovereignty through its pursuit of democracy. He also saw religion as playing a critical role in the preservation and growth of a democratic society. He believed that a democratic society is that characterized by freedom on different fronts including religion and expression. He believed that the separation of the state from the religion was also an important hallmark of the American society. With regard to the US response to the 9/11 attacks and the implications of the said responses on the future of American democracy, Tocqueville would have definitely seen the said responses as aimed at enhancing the freedom and sovereignty of the American. The counter-measures taken by the US were meant to protect the people from such kind of attacks in future and create an environment where the people of America will go about their daily activities without any fear. As such, Tocqueville might have seen the future of American democracy as being bright.
What is at stake in terms of the values and principles embedded in Western democracy and the social sciences?
One of the values and principles of democracy and the social sciences that might be under stake following socio-political events of the same magnitude as the 9/11 attacks is citizen’s rights. Traditionally, democracies try their best to protect and respect the basic human rights of its citizens. The respect and protection of human rights mean that democratic states hold in high regard the values that promote human life and dignity. Events such as the 9/11 attacks and the possible responsible responses such as restriction of movement and increased surveillance threaten the people’s freedom of movement, association and even assembly.
Another principle of democracy and social sciences that might be at stake is equality. This simply means that all individuals in the society are given the same kind of treatment and opportunities. A society that values equality shuns discrimination based on race, religion ,gender, age, sexual orientation to name but a few. Incidences such as the 9/11 attacks are likely to create a society that has reserved opinions about people from certain regions or who subscribe to particular religions, thereby placing equality as a principle of democracy and social sciences at stake. Accountability is another hallmark of democracy and social sciences that might be at stake in the face of a socio-political event. Accountability calls for those in leadership roles to be responsible for their actions. In a democracy and just society, those occupying authoritative positions must go about their duties and perform actions in a way that is in line with the wishes and will of the people.
Events of socio-political significance also places transparency as a value and principle of a just and democratic society at stake. Under this principle, the state needs to ensure that people are aware of what is a happening. Transparency ensures that people have access to information about the major decision being made in the society, the people responsible for the said decisions and the reasons behind making the decisions. Socio-political events can also have an impact on the rule of law. This simply implies that no one should be above the law. However, socio-political events of the same magnitude as the 9/11 attacks have the potential to disrupt the rule of law. Democracy calls for the law to be applied fairly, equally and consistently.
Mr. Moneybags has to pay the workers based on the amount of labor they have provided and at the same time ensure that he retains some profit. To attain this, he must ensure that the production process results in enough commodities. From the Marxists’ perspective, a commodity refers to something that is bought and sold in the market. A commodity possesses value, which according to Marx’s theory represents the quantity of human labor placed into it. Based on the effort placed into producing the commodity, Mr. Moneybags also has to consider the final price of the commodity. This is largely determined by the exchange value of the commodity, which from Marx’s perspective means that a given commodity can be exchanged for other commodities. If the commodities fetch higher prices, the more likely Mr. Moneybag’s is to pay his workers a handsome amount of money. However, this might not be the case due to the phenomenon Marx refers to as “fetishism of commodities.”
According to Marx, a commodity often appears to be a trivial thing when examined from a superficial perspective. However, further examination usually reveals its complex nature. Marx opines that when linked to its use-value, a commodity often remains simple. However, linking the said commodity to an exchange value transforms it into something that goes beyond sensuousness. Linking the commodity to money, a universal instrument for exchange breaks down the link between it and the people that made it. This means that once the price of a product is set, the effort that the laborers put into making the said product is no longer taken into consideration. As such, what the workers earn might not be a real reflection of the effort they put into making the commodity.
The production capacity of Mr. Moneybag’s factory also plays an essential role in determining how much he will pay each of his workers. A higher production capacity means that he will be able to sell more commodities which will translate into higher returns. With higher returns, Mr. Moneybags will be better positioned to pay his workers a higher amount of wages. This brings into question the available means of production which include the available machinery as well as raw materials. Marx refers to this means of production as private property. The amount of property controlled by different individuals often varies, hence the variation in the production capacities of factories owned by different people. Those who control more private property are always able to produce more commodities compared to those who control little private property. According to Marx, private property is the most accurate expression of the capitalist system which focuses on producing and allocating goods and services based on class rivalry and the exploitation of huge masses of people by relatively few individuals. This simply implies that because bourgeoisies have greater control of private property, they often will often think about what they stand to gain before taking into consideration what their workers have to earn. For Mr. Moneybags, his significant control over the production facilities as well as his workers means that he is the sole determinant of how much the said workers have to earn. However, the profitability of his venture is likely to take precedence as opposed what the workers should earn.
The extent to which the workers are skilled and talented, as well as the roles they play in the production process, also play a significant role in determining the amount of pay each will receive. Highly skilled and talented workers will without any doubt force Mr. Moneybags to dig deeper into his pockets for he will not want to lose them. In terms of the duties and responsibilities of employees, Mr. Moneybags is likely to prioritize those who occupy a superior position at his factory such as managers and supervisors compared to those who undertake basic duties such as cleaning and maintenance when it comes compensation. A skilled and talented workforce provides significantly greater amounts of laborer-power, which according to Marx is the only commodity that the worker can sell to the employee. The labor-power system is based on the notion that the laborer freely chose to enter into a contractual relationship with their employer who buys the labor power and goes own to own the commodities produced by the said labor power. Marx argues that this contractual relationship is often exploitative due to the fact that the employer owns virtually all means of production. This means that when considering paying his workers, Mr. Moneybags is likely to pay them just what they need to keep coming back to work for him. A significantly higher pay is likely to see his workers accumulate enough money to become influential private property owners. Owning means of production, according to Marx, makes it possible for a man to be able to sell other commodities other than labor power.
Another important thing that Mr. Moneybags will take into consideration when thinking about paying his workers is their productivity. This refers to the efficiency of the workforce, often measured in terms of how the workers are contributing to a firm's output. A worker will be considered to be productive if they exhibit dedication and prove that they are able to meet what is required of them. For Mr. Moneybags, a productive workforce translates into higher profitability meaning that the workers are better positioned to earn more. To keep the productivity levels of his workers high, Mr. Moneybags is likely to reward their effort which in turn will see them dedicate a significant portion of their time to working for Mr. Moneybag. This means that workers become dis-attached from their species being. Species being referred to human identity. Being strongly attached to work means that workers forget about their human identity in a phenomenon Marx calls “alienation from species-being.”
In her text, Nickle, and Dimed, Barbara Ehrenreich seeks to explore how low-wage workers get to survive even with the relatively low amount of salaries they earn. She presents her arguments in the final chapter of the text in which she reflects on her experiences taking on a variety of low paying jobs. In awarding herself the scores for her performance as a low-wage worker, Ehrenreich remarks that no single worker should actually be classified as unskilled. According to her, each type of job, regardless of the amount of pay being offered, requires some level of skill and expertise. She also argues that the high cost of housing makes it impossible for the poor people to compete with rich individuals for housing. According to Ehrenreich, the housing market is too competitive and for low-wage workers, living in deplorable neighborhoods is not their own making, but just one of the ways of ensuring that they are able to balance out all their basic needs with the little wages they earn.
In her text, Ehrenreich is of the view that it is easier for white natives to get low-wage employment compared to groups of people from minority communities. She also notes that jobs tend to more in communities with large populations of white people. However, the wages offered by employers in such communities are quite the same as those offered by the employers in communities where the supply of jobs is relatively low.
Ehrenreich is particularly concerned about the manner in which the government addresses the issues low-wage workers face. She argues that this group of workers has traditionally been alienated by the government and other groups of people that are well off, a fact that has made the laws of economics not to always apply available. She opines that the low-wage workers are under tight control by their employers, a fact that makes it difficult for this group of workers to openly air their grievances and have their demands meet. Ehrenreich also believes that the despite the significant say they have in economic issues such as minimum wage and working conditions, politicians have done little to address the challenges faced by low-wage workers. She goes ahead to note why it is important to reform low-wage employment.
In her quest to survive on low wages, Ehrenreich faces a myriad of challenges that typical low-income earners face. The first challenge is that she has to handle huge workloads at relatively low wages. The huge workload means that she always gets home when she is tired, thereby not able to engage in other activities. She virtually becomes alienated from species being as explained by Karl Marx. Work for her practically becomes a life purpose. With the low wages, Ehrenreich faces additional challenges such as the inability to afford better housing, healthy food, and a reasonable medical cover. She also finds it difficult to find a fully satisfying job as shown by her constant shifting from one low-wage employment to another. Her challenges basically reflect what low-wage employees have to endure. Not only are they exploited by their employers, but they also have to lead poor lives in which they cannot even enjoy the fruits of their labor.
Ehrenreich mentions a number of factors that usually eat into the salaries of low-wage income earners. These factors include housing, food, healthcare, fuel and transportation, savings as well as recreation. The following is how a yearly budget for a low-wage employee earning $7.25 per hour would look like based on this budget. This amount is equivalent to earning approximately $ 15,000 $ a year
A yearly budget for a low-wage family of four earning $7.25 per hour
Housing………………………………… $ 7000
Food……………………………………. $ 2500
Healthcare ……………………………… $ 2000
Fuel and transportation…………………. $ 1000
Recreation and entertainment…………… $ 500
Savings…………………………………… $ 2000
With an extra $6.75 per hour to make the family’s annual earning $ 30,000, the family will be in a position to afford better housing, food, healthcare and even spend more on recreation and entertainment while saving a significant portion of the income. The new yearly budget is likely to look like this.
Housing………………………………… $ 14000
Food……………………………………. $ 5000
Healthcare ……………………………… $ 4000
Fuel and transportation…………………. $ 1000
Recreation and entertainment…………… $ 2000
Savings…………………………………… $ 4000
Short speech to the Florida legislature to raise the minimum wage to $14.00/hour
Good evening honorable members of the assembly. I am here to present a petition on why the minimum wage in Florida should be raised to $ 14 per hour. As we all know, workers who occupy the lowest position in the hierarchy of employment do most of the odd jobs which are equally tasking. The odd nature of their jobs means that there is virtually no one to stand up for them despite the fact that they also continue to suffer the effects of hard economic times. With the prices of basic commodities increasing at a steady rate each year, it is unfair to have the minimum wage remain at $ 7.25. This low amount of minimum wage amounts to exploitation by employers since most of them are registering profits as the prices of common goods and services keep raising. Increasing the minimum wage level will not only help improve the current economic position of low income earners, but it will also help increase economic activities which in turn will trigger job growth. I hope that this information will motivate the honorable members to raise the minimum wage to $ 14 per hour.