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Author Topic: Money  (Read 22481 times)

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AGelbert

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March 24, 2020

SNIPPET:

Americans are waking up to the fact, today, that their President wants to “reopen the economy,” which, of course, means millions of people having to back to work…risking their lives…being infected by a global pandemic…infecting their loved ones. What the?

Forgive me. I’m going to be blunt, maybe even a little harsh. But then I’ll be gentle, and we’ll talk about all this like adults, and maybe you’ll gain something from reading about why American can’t seem to deal with a pandemic well (but you can be the judge of that.)

Nobody should have expected a society as ruthlessly and lethally capitalist as America to save the average prole during a pandemic…instead of exploit them all the harder. If you expected America to save you…you shouldn’t have. What was never expendable to capitalism was another quarter of profits…another few million dollars for billionaires…higher stock prices. What was expendable was you.

(Now, “capitalist society” doesn’t mean your local tiny microbrewery, bakery, or drycleaner. Sorry, I’m not a die hard Marxist. I love business, trade, commerce, enterprise, which are what your local bakery and microbrewery are. But capitalism, predatory capitalism, America’s weirdly Soviet totalitarian capitalism — as in more money, at any cost, for vast corporate entities, who are super-people, bending every social and political and economic institution to that single one-dimensional end — is something that, at this juncture, all sane people should find problematic. Why?)

Let me explain, beginning with a simple observation.

Capitalist societies have long had enough homes to house everyone, enough money to pay everyone a decent income, enough food to feed everyone, more than enough professors and teachers to educate everyone, enough medicine to treat everyone. And yet they’re never once — once in history — given any of those things to people. In more technical terms, capitalist societies have huge surpluses of resources — and yet people struggle as entire classes and groups for just those very things. Don’t you find that odd? Striking? Bizarre? I do. It raises the question: if a society has ample resources to give everyone a better life — why on earth does it keep them from people?

There’s really only one possible answer to that question. It goes like this. In a capitalist society, you aren’t seen as deserving of those things. Those are things which must be “earned.” But that also means: nobody has intrinsic or inherent worth. Because, of course, the definition of “inherent or intrinsic worth” is that I have a basic human right to things like housing and healthcare and medicine and so on.

I want you to think about this point carefully, closely, to really interrogate it until you get it.

If a society has ample food, medicine, money, homes — and yet people still struggle for all these things, the only conclusion is that society must not think people have any inherent worth. Why else would a society deny its own people the things it already has? And yet that is precisely where 75% of Americans are. America’s a society with ample homes, money, medicine, food, and so on — and yet that’s how many Americans struggle to “afford” these things. What the?

All that’s what Marx called exploitation and immiseration. Exploitation — you have to work for things that should be basic rights. Immiseration: society has more than enough to provide all these things for you, but for some reason that you can’t quite fathom, nobody much has them. The reason is the system, the ideology, the belief. Nobody has intrinsic or inherent worth. The only point of all human existence, endeavour, thought, action is one-dimensional: making more profit.

That is the fatal flaw at the heart of capitalism.
Again, I want to distinguish it from everyday business, commerce, trade. You might be a great, awesome, wonderful CEO of that small or medium sized business, and give all your employees all the above, unconditionally. Excellent. Capitalism, on the other hand — McKinsey’s storm troopers marching into a boardroom, demanding “rationalization”, Goldman Sachs selling poisoned derivatives to small towns, both investing in concentration camps — isn’t interested in any of those things.

“Capitalism doesn’t allow you to have any inherent worth” can be put in a simpler way: it’s indifferent to life and death. Yours, in particular. It literally doesn’t care if you live or die. In many respects, it’s happier if you’re dead. If you’re a burden — in the form, of say, taxes for social systems. If you’re “unproductive” or “inefficient.” If you cost it money, capitalism is much happier with you dead than alive.

You’d be fair to think I was exaggerating…until, well, right now. Because right now, capitalism is demanding that Americans go back to work, risk their lives, spread a pandemic, see their loved ones die…all so that profits can continue their upward spiral. Can there be a more powerful, direct, and visceral example than that of all the above? That capitalism’s indifferent to you living or dying? That it prefers you dead over alive, the moment you cost it money? That in a capitalist society, nobody has intrinsic or inherent worth — in this case, the most fundamental aspect of it, which is…living itself?

A capitalist society is run for one purpose. I’ve already alluded to it above. The only point of it all, and all means every single thought, action, idea, interaction, behaviour in a society, is this: to maximize profits. There’s a point at which profit is earned fairly, sure — think of the local microbrewer or baker. But to capitalism, the quest for profit is endless and perpetual, which demands, in turn, harder and harder exploitation — to the point of true immiseration.

Again, you’d be forgiven for thinking I was exaggerating not so long ago. But today?

Consider this. Americans work harder than anyone else in the rich world — harder than most people in the poor world. And yet their incomes haven’t risen in five decades. They don’t have decent healthcare, education, retirement, childcare — any kind of social system. Meanwhile, those who “own” the super-people known as “corporations” — entities with superhuman rights and powers — went from millionaires to billionaires to mega billionaires. Exploitative enough for you?

But that was yesterday. Today, Americans are being exploited even harder than that. They’re being made to go back to work in the face of a global pandemic. What the? How much more exploitative can a system even get? Maybe gulags, I suppose. But how different is it really being made to go back to work and risking sure death? Americans are reaching the outer limits of exploitation. What else are we to call being made to work when a fatal disease ravages a rich country?

Yet there’s exploitation, and there’s immiseration. Exploitation is what’s easy to see: America’s bigwigs take a massive, unfair slice of the pie, thus driving the people formerly known as the middle class into poverty. Immiseration is what’s harder to see: the idea that a society has enough to go around — a surplus. And yet that surplus can never be shared, precisely because capitalism can’t allow such a thing to happen, because then profits would crater.

I’ve already pointed out how America has ample homes, money, food, medicine, and so on — and yet Americans struggle to “afford” just these things. That’s immiseration. Now let’s apply that concept to Americans being made to work during a pandemic.

The point is this: Americans don’t need to work during a pandemic. There is literally no reason for them to. They don’t need to be made to “work” for basics like homes, medicine, money, and food — society has a massive surplus of all these things already. They don’t need to “work” during a pandemic for a similar reason. America is easily rich enough to simply support the whole economy for a few months during the pandemic — which is the wise and right and fair and moral thing to do. Nobody needs to work. Not just because America is a rich society — but because the only “work” that really needs to be done during a pandemic is tending to the ill, feeding the indigent, making sure the disease’s spread is slowed, and so forth. The “work” that Americans are to be made to do has literally nothing to do with any of that very real labour. (Does anyone really need a new home built right about now? How about a trip to the dentist? Or a pair of new designer jeans? Maybe you see what I mean.)

Continue reading:
« Last Edit: March 25, 2020, 01:57:03 pm by AGelbert »
Rob not the poor, because he is poor: neither oppress the afflicted in the gate:
For the Lord will plead their cause, and spoil the soul of those that spoiled them. Pr. 22:22-23

 

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