THOUGHTS ON THE THEME
The theme of this month’s issue, When Money is the Measure, resonates with a concept that Karl Marx identified a hundred fifty years ago—the accumulation of social power in money-form. The correlation between money and social power is examined in this issue in several articles by writers who approach the question in a variety of ways.
“Turning residential neighborhoods into commercial zones” raises the question of whose interests are being served if many residential homes are allowed to be rezoned as short term rentals, like Airbnb. This speaks to the interests of those who can afford to buy two or even more homes. What does that do to the prospects of those who rent or are attempting to purchase their first home? Who has power, and whose interests will prevail?
In an article from Just Housing Olympia, critical questions are raised about linkages between the economy and housing: “With an uncertain economic future ahead of us and the state’s eviction moratorium ending in August, we have every reason to expect the number of people experiencing homelessness in our community to rise. “
Pete Bohmer provides a counter argument to the concept that money is the measure. In “Raise the Social Cost: An Important Strategic Concept,” Bohmer illustrates how social movements, including the current Black Lives Matter-led movement, are acting on the belief that “there is a liberatory alternative to racial capitalism” and raising the social costs of maintaining the status quo is key.
In “At least pass the HEROES Act”, Hamilton Nolan describes how the initial federal response to the economic suffering caused by the pandemic included meeting some of the needs of ordinary people. By the time this paper goes to press, we will all know whether Congress has agreed to continue its support for ordinary people, or whether those measures have been replaced with lesser and worse measures benefiting fewer people even, as Nolan writes, “the scale of our calamity grows.”
The cover and other graphic images in this issue also speak to the theme, problematizing the current distribution of money in this society as anything other than a measure of the success of the elite at the expense of everyone else.
September: Hoping, doping, coping & shopping. A recent book says that people are reaching for one of these strategies to survive in today’s economy. That public institutions are falling apart; bosses are overwhelmed or incompetent; businesses are dysfunctional. Others argue that the best strategy is to critically examine the ideologies that have been driving our economic and social policy decisions for the past 40 years at least, namely, that an unregulated market is better at distributing resources to all of us than collective governance. Do you find any of this to be true? What’s your strategy? Deadline: August 15.
October: The struggle for justice. WIP’s mission is to contribute to the struggle for justice across economic, social, political and environmental realms and to the expansion of participatory democracy across classes, races and genders. October 2020 marks the 30th year that Works in Progress has been trying to live up to that mission, as a publication produced and distributed by volunteers. The paper has shaped and reshaped itself across the years, depending on who puts in the time and energy to make it happen. We invite anyone who has read, contributed to or helped produce the paper to send their memories, critiques, old copies, artifacts etc. that have been part of WIP on its journey. Be sure to save the date for an anniversary celebration Nov. 21. Copy deadline for October issue: September 13
November: What is political? Some of us are looking forward to the November elections as the biggest opportunity we have to shift public policies at the federal, state and local levels so that we address systemic racism and inequality, made more visible than ever by the COVID-19 pandemic. But the concept of “political” is bigger than voting. What does “political” mean to you? Copy deadline for November issue: October 15