Capitalism's Many Lies
There's something terribly wrong with the world, and you know it. Much like Neo in The Matrix, you can see it everywhere, yet are unable to pinpoint the origin of this foreboding and uncannily frightening sense of unease in the pit of your stomach. Well, it's not The Matrix, but capitalism.
"You're here because you know something. What you know you can't explain, but you feel it. You've felt it your entire life, that there's something wrong with the world. You don't know what it is, but it's there, like a splinter in your mind driving you mad."
This must be the best description of the feeling many people have going about their daily lifes in our capitalist world order. Like Neo, we're living a lie that's so pervasive, so seamlessly integrated into every aspect of our lifes, that we no longer recognize it; it has become the air we breathe. But that air is poisoned, and we're living in a time of record levels of mental illness, alienation, loneliness, suicides and other threats to our general well being we've slowly come to accept as just another aspect of the human condition. It's just the way it is. Like The Bible has done in ages past, capitalism's holy rules have made us accept that we're born sinners, that we're inherently evil and unable to create a better world for ourselves and our loved ones. I'm here to tell you that's all bullshit.
We're told that capitalism is "the best we can do," that, although it has many flaws, it's the socioeconomic system that best suits our "human nature." Evolution itself proves it: it's survival of the fittest, it's about who's left standing after the competition between competitors and the environment. Our survival instincts demand we look after ourselves and our own first, which makes us selfish by nature. What if, say the proponents of this utterly destructive system, there was a way we could make that inherent selfishness work to serve the general good? That's capitalism's basic promise, and it's one of capitalism's fundamental lies:
It is not from the benevolence of the butcher, the brewer, or the baker, that we expect our dinner, but from their regard to their own interest. We address ourselves, not to their humanity but to their self-love, and never talk to them of our own necessities but of their advantages.
source: Adam Smith
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When interacting in the market, people only do things that are of benefit to them, not because they care for each other or the "greater good." It's the idea that in the market, by just looking after ourselves and our own profits, we would serve each other's needs. And through competition between several bakers, the best bread would be provided for the lowest price. Now, look at the world and tell me if that's true. Of course it isn't. In an arena where several bakers compete over the same market share, eventually only one is left standing, and that one baker can then maximize its own profits by making the cheapest bread for the highest price. By defeating all other bakers, and conquering their share of the market, the one baker now becomes "Bread Inc.", providing bread all over the world through a global franchise. Adam Smith believed that some undefined "Invisible Hand" above the market would prevent this from happening, but we know better now; the only way to prevent monopolies happening is through strict government regulation. But then it's not really capitalism anymore, is it? At least not capitalism as envisioned by the market purists, the anarcho-capitalists and capitalist libertarians. But we don't even have to go that far; the mere notion that by exploiting and rewarding selfishness we would be able to serve the general good, or humanity as a whole, is ridiculous on its face. It's a lie.
Humans are not inherently selfish, and our being captured within a system that says we are, is the cause of much of the alienation we experience today. We're born into a world where everyone else is our competitor, as opposed to a world where we all share the same basic wants and needs. We don't pull ourselves up by each other's bootstraps, but by our own. At least that's what we're told. But that's a lie as well. I've said it many times in many previous posts: me thinking up and typing this post doesn't make this post my creation. I didn't make the computer or desk or chair or house that enable me to make this post. The ideas contained within aren't a product of my imagination but come from countless other people who I've encountered face-to-face, in word or in writing. My parents, my teachers, countless authors, film makers and so on are the co-producers of this post. We all stand on the shoulders of countless people who came before us and are alive today. The murder of this basic truth of human existence, and the propaganda of the idea that we're facing the world alone, may be capitalism's greatest crime.
The individualism pushed by the capitalist paradigm is in fact contrary to our human nature. We're social creatures who only know how to survive as a collective, and the fact that we're being spoon-fed the exact opposite causes much of the feeling of tumbling down the rabbit hole as expressed so beautifully in The Matrix. For hundreds of thousands of years we lived in tribes and all that time we knew that the tribe was more important than any one individual of the tribe. Except for that knowledge, nothing has really changed. In the tribe all who are able to contribute do, and they contribute enough for the whole tribe. Mothers, children, the sick and the elderly were fed by the food brought home by the young men and women who were able to hunt and gather. No bullshit of "pulling yourself up by your own bootstraps." The able part of society is expected to provide for everyone. That's our nature, that's where we come from, and that's what's enabled us to conquer the planet as a species. No markets, no trade, no profits, no selfishness. And if ever there was one member of the tribe exhibiting selfishness, that member would be ousted, ignored, shunned.
A.I. is B.S.
Right now we have the exact opposite; we adore and worship the most selfish and greedy among us. Sometimes we even elect them to be our president. It only took 10,000 years to erase hundreds of thousands of years of the basic truth that we're in this together, that we have to provide for each other, not just ourselves. But the owner-class, the capitalists, has convinced us that it's every man and woman for themselves, and God for us all. Or markets for us all in modern times. Markets by themselves, however, aren't the defining feature of capitalism. Markets can exist in almost every economic system imaginable, including socialism. What sets capitalism truly apart is that it's based on the private ownership of the means of production. That is what creates two classes in society that have opposing interests. And throughout written history, this class of owners has always defended their position of extreme wealth and power by assigning themselves some special quality over the rest of us. It used to be some "divine right of kings", now we have the "meritocracy":
Meritocracy (merit, from Latin mereō, and -cracy, from Ancient Greek κράτος kratos 'strength, power') is the notion of a political system in which economic goods or political power are vested in individual people based on ability and talent, rather than wealth or social class.
Therein lies the idea that the rich and powerful among us must be people of exceptional merit, or else how could they have become so rich and powerful? This meritocracy is, as you might have guessed, as much of a lie as the divine right of kings. Does Elon Musk have billions of times more merit than you or me? Is he that much smarter, more talented or hard working? I hope that his dumb comments on Twitter, his continued lies about self driving cars, colonizing Mars, implanting chips into human brains will have convinced you otherwise. Let me just share one recent dumb comment of Elon Musk, one of many that show how detached this man is from reality: he recently slammed the "laptop class", saying that it's immoral for them to work from home instead of coming to the office.
“The laptop class is living in la la land. Look at the cars,” he said, referencing Tesla’s factory. “Are people working from home here? Of course not. The people [that are] building the cars, servicing the cars, building houses, fixing houses, or making the food, making all the things that people consume—it’s messed up to assume that they have to go to work but you don’t. [Why] is that? It’s not just a productivity thing. I think it’s morally wrong.”
Like most rich and powerful people, Elon Musk is just a control freak. Also, this comment comes at a time when many big businesses are pushing their employees to go back to the office, so he's not the only control freak, not the only CEO who simply doesn't trust his workers to be as productive working from home as opposed to working under the watchful eye of a floor manager. Elon Musk is living proof of two of Capitalism's Big Lies, namely that we live in a meritocracy and that employers are our benefactors for providing jobs.
Working from home is IMMORAL! A business owner's opinion of Elon Musk's verbal diarrhea
They do no such thing, they do not "provide jobs." What they're actually doing, is to purchase labor. That's capitalism. The owners of the means of production buy labor and the rest of us sell labor. That's the truth of it, and I can not stand it when workers talk about their employers as if they were our friends or that they provide us with anything. Just as an example, my employer, our country's biggest seller of internet end television subscriptions, is organizing a big festival next month where we, the workers, are invited to have a good time with live music, DJ's, food and drink, all expenses paid for. This happens every year and is done to make us feel that our employer is looking after us. I've never attended and I won't attend this year because I can not play that game of pretending that my employer is doing it for me or my colleagues. It's done to keep alive the lie that employers are in our corner, that they care about us as human beings. They don't. They buy labor, and when labor is cheaper or more productive elsewhere, they'll leave us hanging without a second thought.
Employers and employees have, under capitalism, diametrically opposing interests; I want as high a price as possible for my labor, my time, my efforts, and the employer wants to pay as little as he can get away with for my labor. That's the truth. Whenever there's political talk about unemployment or the dream of "full employment," where everyone in society has a job, remember this. Remember that unemployment is a necessity under capitalism, as it keeps the price of labor low when employees are easily replaceable. We could divide all necessary and available jobs among ourselves, by introducing a three day workweek or a four hour workday for example. That will never happen under the private ownership- and profit-driven structure of capitalism though. In the 1950's and 1960's our biggest concern was what to do with all the free time provided to us by the increased productivity due to automation. What has become of that dream? The exact opposite has happened, with now not only the men, but also the women having to work jobs, having to sell their labor to make ends meet, with pension ages going up instead of down... And conservatives then blame feminism and the LGBTQ+ community for the erosion of traditional family values. All lies to cover up the true cause, which is late stage capitalism run amok.
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Going back to our tribal lifes of days gone past, we, the workers, are the hunters and gatherers who provide for the entire tribe, society as a whole in modern parlance. But that basic truth has been turned on its head as well. We are now society's slaves whose labor is being exploited by the owner class. We are no longer respected as society's providers of wealth, but instead are expected to sell our labor, at a loss in the form of the exploiters' profits, and abide by the self-serving rules set by them through the governments they have in their pockets. An d make no mistake: all their wealth and power is based in capitalism's defining trait, which is the private ownership of the stuff everybody needs. It's not a coincidence that almost all of the law and politics is aimed at the protection of private ownership; that's their system, the system of the owners. The solution is very simple; give the means of production in the hands of the actual producers of wealth, the workers. That's all socialism is, by the way; let the workers decide, make the workers the owners.
Unfortunately most people aren't ready for the obvious and simple solution. The past couple of thousands of years, almost all of written history, we've been fed the propaganda of those who own the propaganda machines. Most people actually believe that capitalism is the best we can do, or even that it's some law of nature. It's not. All economy is, is the set of rules and regulations by which we distribute the fruits of our collective labor. It's no big mystery, it's man-made and we can make it different. But first we'll have to unplug ourselves from the web of lies the owners have spun for us. Don't believe those lies anymore, as that belief is ruining us. No matter what fancy new name or explanation comes from the World Economic Forum, like "stakeholder capitalism" which should replace "shareholder capitalism," don't fall for it; it's still capitalism with the same underlying set of rules aimed at prioritizing the enrichment of the few over the well being of the many.
"The Matrix is a system, Neo. That system is our enemy. But when you're inside, you look around, what do you see? Businessmen, teachers, lawyers, carpenters. The very minds of the people we are trying to save. But until we do, these people are still a part of that system and that makes them our enemy. You have to understand, most of these people are not ready to be unplugged. And many of them are so inert, so hopelessly dependent on the system that they will fight to protect it."
Included are a few short videos highlighting some of the many lies of capitalism; please watch them as an introduction to cultivating a different, a liberated mindset. Stop defending the system that's ruining our lifes and our planet. Linked below is a longer video discussing how sneaky capitalist propaganda is repeated by its victims; if you don't watch any of the other videos, watch this one!
Johnny Harris: Shameless Propagandist Debunked - The WEF & The Myth of Neoliberal Prosperity
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