I have noticed a disturbing trend among many Higherside chats guests and feel that it deserves special attention considering it typically gets glossed over on the air. The phrase, “I’m a fan of Capitalism”, or similar variants, are said by many authors, researchers, and scientists. Sure, following your passion and doing what you enjoy for a living is the dream, but that same dream is the carrot at the end of the stick that most workers never actually taste. Most employees dedicate enormous amounts of energy into building someone else’s fortune while trading their labor for the minimum conceivable stipend as a wage. The shallow end of the Capitalism swimming pool is packed with service sector employees, while the deep end has relatively few people with plenty of room. Most people I’ve worked with barely get by, or get by only by perpetuating even further enslavement through student loans and credit card debt. Capitalism abuses most of us for the benefit of the richest few. This entry will be part 1 of an ongoing critique of Capitalism and modern economics. I base my critique on the following premises.
p1- We never actually consent to Capitalism
Capitalism is foisted upon each and every citizen without exception. One has to be born into a community living situation to avoid the necessity of having money in order to afford one’s most basic needs. Babies clearly don’t have any money, yet they are still subject to death by starvation if their parents don’t pick up the tab. There is no opt-out option for Capitalism, nor is there any dialogue with you about whether this system meets your needs or not. Capitalism is the default mode of operation and if you want to eat or live anywhere, then you are forced to play along. There is never a public discourse on whether we should consider something new.
p2- Capitalism deludes people into thinking having capital is more important than producing labor
In order to start a business or a non-profit, you are going to need capital. Capitalism matches those who possess large amounts of money with those willing to produce large amounts of work for money. Workers are treated as completely replaceable and interchangeable, but the investor is regarded as high and mighty and that the entire project would fail without their intervention. Capitalism creates dynastic wealth where one generation of owners passes their wealth onto their children to start businesses with. The owner class doesn’t produce the labor, they own it. They were often born into a position of purchasing a company that I will then work for and represent, and no matter how profitable my work is for the owner, I will never experience what it is like to be at the top. I speak from personal experience. The owners could accomplish nothing without their workers, but the workers could pool their labor together and start a business without the owner. The idea is that the person who was already rich is more important than the team who built the brand. This ideology ruins Capitalism and perverts the workers into fantasies about following the actions of the rich, or trying to imitate the behaviors of the owning class.
p3- Underlying all commerce is violence
We pretend that our Capitalist society isn’t violent. We are perhaps the most violent society of all time, but that violence is out of sight. It is outsourced somewhere else like trash is thrown ‘away’ or how people are thrown into jail. Because this violence isn’t in your face, you ignore it. What happens if you quit paying your rent? What if the landlord calls the cops and you still won’t leave? Police enFORCEment are going to break in your door, pin your head on the ground and arrest you, and they will probably shoot your dog. Workers have to keep working in order not to face the violent neglect of poverty. Anyone who avoids their debts gets jailed, all trees are cut down for lumber, animals suffer their entire antibiotic-rich lives in captivity only to have their flesh chopped off for commercial consumption, and the homeless die quietly out of sight, out of mind. Humans are treated as resources, and are traded and exploited for profit like all other commodities. No amount of driving Toyota Priuses, using reusable coffee mugs, or recycling old newspapers can alleviate the guilt of participation in this death and destruction economy.