Saturday, October 26, 2013

Thinking about Revolution

The World For The Workers
Growing up poor can actually damage your brain. A growing body of scientific research is showing that poverty actually screws up our brains. Poverty can create a turbulent climate marked by chronic stress. Poverty can mean living in crowded, noisy environments, and worrying about where that next meal will come from. It can mean perpetually feeling somehow less equal than your peers. Coming of age in poverty may lead to permanent dysfunction in the prefrontal cortex and the amygdala—which, according to the researchers, "has been associated with mood disorders including depression, anxiety, impulsive aggression and substance abuse." It can mean living with parents who are always stressed out, too. And all that stress, scientists have discovered, can have a permanent effect on the brain's ability to process and deal with emotions.  In other words, the brains of those who have the misfortune to be born poor may actually be re-wired.

“Our findings suggest that the stress-burden of growing up poor may be an underlying mechanism that accounts for the relationship between poverty as a child and how well your brain works as an adult,” said Dr. K Luan Phan, a professor of psychiatry at the University of Illinois, Chicago College of Medicine.

Earlier this year, another study published in Science found that the same poverty-induced stress that will eventually scar the young brain drastically limits cognitive function in the moment too. That study produced evidence that poverty usurps our "mental bandwidth"—we have less time, inclination, and ability to consider complex problems when we're consumed with stress. Reporting on the study, The Atlantic's Emily Badger put the findings in plain terms: "the condition of poverty imposed a mental burden akin to losing 13 IQ points, or comparable to the cognitive difference that’s been observed between chronic alcoholics and normal adults."

More simply put, it is  harder to think or plan effectively when you're perpetually stressed. That means that working to lift oneself out of poverty—studying for exams, prepping for college, networking for jobs—requires a more gargantuan effort for the impoverished than most realize. Not only do low income families have to deal with having less monetary resources, the researchers behind the Science paper note that they're coping with "a concurrent shortfall of cognitive resources.”

 Tens of millions of people who are operating at a cognitive disadvantage through no fault of their own, and whose children's brains may actually be dysfunctional as a result. Capitalist society cannot afford a decent standard of life for workers. It cannot provide young people with an education, or provide health care to the sick and elderly. By every measure—household income, poverty, unemployment—the conditions of life for the large majority of the population have suffered a decline, the pyschological as well as political impact of which will be felt for decades. Older workers are finding it impossible to retire, with pensions under attack. The future held out for youth is one of permanent economic dislocation, poverty, indebtedness and unemployment. The ruling class is intensifying its plunder of society and escalating its war against the working class.  The plutocracy that controls economic and political power has engineered an global transfer of wealth from the bottom to the top. The looting of the world’s resources is embedded in the nature of the capitalist system.

Capitalism is a failed system that has long outlived any historical justification. It is not a matter of appealing to the ruling class and its political representatives for reforms. Our  task is to put an end to this system. The only way to end the social inequality, poverty and social misery that dominates society is to expropriate the massive wealth commanded by the oligarchy and use these resources to meet social needs. Millions of people view the current state of affairs with mounting anger. They are looking for an alternative. But the anger of working people must assume a political form. It must be organised and given conscious articulation and direction -  a socialist perspective.


1 comment:

Grung_e_Gene said...

Of course, growing up poor damages the brain. When faced with limited resources and deficiencies in needed nutrients and vitamins, higher level brain functions are going to be sacrificed for keeping the body alive; better strong and dumb then smart and sickly.