The love of money is a sin…the root of all evil.
- Judeo-Christian biblical tradition –
O believers Do not devour one another’s wealth by evil means except through trading by mutual consent.
- Islamic tradition –
Sharing wealth is a divine duty, but wealth gained and spent for one’s behalf is evil.
- Hindu tradition –
Is our toleration of the dominating global capitalist system the greatest work-around in recorded history?
work-around (noun): a plan or method to circumvent a problem without eliminating it.
– Merriam-Webster –
Test cases for our survival:
The global climate has recently been getting warmer, forewarning more frequent and severe storms, threatening many life forms, coastal habitations, resources, and food production.
The warming we see is but a tiny picture of an ever changing big whole, with a history of reversals.
Global wealth inequality has created an underclass of billions, forewarning social and political unrest, threatening rebellions and wars.
Inequality is a feature of the human condition due to people’s innate differences in adaptation, aptitude, and desire.
State secrecy and surveillance of citizens has reached a fascistic level, forewarning loss of personal freedom and liberty.
States have a responsibility to monitor citizen activity to maintain order for the general good.
Nuclear weapons show no signs of going away, forewarning devastating consequences of their usage.
Nuclear weapons have proved to be an effective tool for maintaining world hierarchal order.
In each of these cases, U.S. capitalism comes down on the italicized side of the equation. It is not in the nature of capitalism to tolerate any loss of private profit, whether it be diverting capital from proven profitable production, allowing the world’s poorest countries to prosper from their own above and underground wealth resources, de-coupling its interests from a state founded in support of it, or allowing competing nations and ideologies a chance to rival our economy.
As the name implies, socialism places people ahead of capital, working people as distinct from people that prosper off of other’s work. Relatively few people prosper off of other’s work, yet these few people have, in their hands, an inordinate amount of the world’s wealth. And these few people have, in their hands, the means to set the conditions under which the workers of the world must sustain themselves. You don’t have to be a fan of socialism to see that capitalism favors the billionaire (with trillionaires not far off) and that it is incapable of dealing with existing survival threats.
It will take a new way of thinking to address existential threats, and it must involve the many over the few. People do not wish to fight in wars, thirst for water, starve for food, breathe dirty air, or withstand the elements for lack of shelter. People of any one country have to see in other countries their brothers and sisters. Less a utopian desire, it is a remedy for one nation’s leadership lying and misleading its citizens into thinking that they have enemies intent on harming them.
People don’t fight people in wars. They put on uniforms and fight for big shots. States fight states. The citizen must be led into it. This is a propaganda role states give to themselves and it has proven effective through centuries of use. Tell the people what they’re afraid of, tell them they’re fighting for the “good”, and refer to them as “heroes” of the state. Then all they have to do is obey.
It’s a big thing to imagine, but if international socialism replaced capitalism, with workers in all the world’s countries having control over their economy, war would become less inevitable. Certainly there could be no capitalist, imperialist war. One can react dryly to capitalism’s cynical program of mustering young men and women off to war, and then giving veterans 10% off.
Speaking glowingly of an “American way of life” when large numbers of these Americans are under the control of the whims of others (those that have a job) for their very existence is a hypocrisy that can only be maintained through sheer repetition. The modern corporation is the antithesis of democracy. It’s purposely structured that way — by law, the kind we’re taught to have reverence for — to protect it from unhappy workers and outsiders. And, yes, polls confirm most workers are unhappy. Worldwide.
That some people don’t want to be boss, and are happy to work for others with less responsibility, is not an argument for the beneficence of capitalism. It’s an indication of the accommodation workers have made to an exploitive economic system that does not invite worker participation. Perhaps the only thing you’re free to do is quit.
U.S. capitalism has taken all three branches of government and swallowed them whole. There’s much talk about election interference lately. Their’s, not our’s. Their’s is relatively puny compared to our’s but leaving aside the international kind, for a look at real interference we need go no further than money as a predictor in all our own elections. You almost can’t go wrong by betting on the party’s candidate that spends the most money in the campaign.
Are we presently living in a pre-fascist stage? It’s safer to say we’ve entered a post-democratic age because capitalism is inherently anti-democratic, and little in our national life has been spared from its abuse. It’s not for a lack of evidence that there is reluctance to move away from it. That’s due to long term demonization and the failed examples of socialist experiments.
The irony in the “failed example” argument is that it presents the United States as a neutral outside observer, merely keeping track of history’s winners and losers for the record. This is the record that can be portrayed to the American public as an example of the superiority of our system. It has been wildly successful because the failures are real and the results of this one-sided record are plain to see. Today’s aspiring presidential hopefuls can be openly-almost anything, but they still can’t be openly atheist, or socialist. Not and get tens of millions of votes.
There is a fuller record, one that takes into account the United States’ role in actively undermining independent people’s movements, socialist or otherwise, at home and abroad. We have stopped at nothing (bribery, arming right-wing militias, economic strangulation, torture, sabotage, and outright murder) to put down this sort of uprising against the existent economic and political arrangement that the United States refers to as responsible world order.
We can make ironical use out of the “exceptional nation” theme that has served to justify pretty much all of our behavior. That is, justify it to the home population at which it is aimed. Foreign populations might find it perplexing.
If we are so exceptional, why concern ourselves with what lessers have been able to achieve? Surely we can do better with the ‘hardest working and most talented people on earth’. For one thing, a U.S. socialist experiment would have the advantage of not having the reigning world superpower working overtime to snuff it out.
James Rothenberg, living in New York State, writes on U.S. social and foreign policy. He can be reached at: [email protected]