When Profit Is the Driver

"Today the worker is not only the engine of production but also the consumer. She sells her labor cheap and buys at full price." In his brief but rousing new book, Workin' on the Chain Gang: Shaking Off the Dead Hand of History, Walter Mosley questions both the ends and means of triumphal capitalism. He calls on working Americans of all ethnicities to ask themselves what they deserve for a lifetime of labor. Air that doesn't make them asthmatic? Exemplary education for their children? Renumeration for childrearing? A "medical bill of rights?" Make a list, counsels Mosley, and see how closely it coincides with "the rather small and insignificant goals of the few who own (or control) almost everything." If at least 10 percent of us articulate and answer this question, if we carry our lists around, consult them often, argue their merits, vote by them, the year 2000 might represent a genuine turning point in our history.

Christian readers committed to serving others may object to Mosley's insistence that we consult our own interests—but not if they are familiar with Mosley's fiction. Author of the popular Easy Rawlins detective novels and creator of Socrates Fortlow, the deeply wise ex-con hero of Always Outnumbered, Always Outgunned, Mosley shows how inextricably linked are self-regard and compassion. "The goals of revolution," says Mosley in his new book, "are realized by personal enlightenment." To this end, he advises us to suspend the influence of the "spectacles and illusions" that hypnotize us by spending 90 days without TV, movies, or professional sports.

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Sojourners Magazine November-December 2000
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