capitalism

All parts and aspects of life have been occupied by capitals. This is the broader picture. This is one of the facts from reality that composes context of life of people in almost all lands. This is one of the brutal facts that dominate people in exploitative societies.

The dominance is so much powerful and so much shrewd that the fact related to capitals’ occupation of life goes unnoticed most of the time. The fact goes unnoticed by many while non-facts are propagated and sold as fact – a business with lies by capitals. This is capitals’ tactful trade with lies.

Thus, non-issues, and non-immediate and non-essential issues of life define discussions and debates, engage many with worthless activities, make meaningless activities appear meaningful, and non-questions are raised as questions by many quarters while immediate, essential and burning questions are made absconders. Thus, capitals face no question, go unchallenged, and turn counterfeit of lie and authoritarianism. It’s capitals’ strength. It’s its weakness also.

Once this fact of capitals’ trading with lie is laid bare, capitals’ palace of power gets demolished. Once this fact of capitals’ business of deception is debunked, capitals’ crown of strength shatters down to dust. This threat leads capitals to engage peddlers of lie to market non-logic, non-argument, non-question and disjointed ideas. The peddlers’ first job is to clamp down on questions related to life – why the majority is deprived of dignity, why the majority is in misery, why poverty crushes millions of lives, why majority’s dream for a peaceful, democratic life free from wretchedness is robbed, why the majority’s life is brutalized, and what’s the source of indignity, wretchedness, hellish life, and what’s the source of that power that creates exploitation, misery, indignity, repression of the majority?

Capitals are producing a whole bunch of ills for the majority of the world population: suffering, vaporizing real income, hunger, inequality, lack of shelter and health care, spread of ignorance, illogic and non-science, crushing work load, uncertainty and fear, deprivation of rights, repression and coercion. At the same time, capitals are producing never-ending festivals of sky-high wealth and authoritarian power of and ocean-wide corruption by a few.

The few persons’ wealth, power and corruption go unchained and unchallenged. Most of the time, their flocking wealth, power and corruption remain intractable while capitals wring profit from the entire world so far explored by science and technology. Thus, capitals stand as a power disabling all prospects of progress and executing emancipation of the exploited humanity, a power that only aspires and moves to make people pitiful paupers so that the entire exploitable can be easily chained, trampled and exploited. The chains are visible at times, and, at times, invisible to many scholars humming “humanity and emancipation”.

The disabling, the chaining, the trampling are acts of occupation, which begin in the realms of logic, rationality, analysis, idea, concept, ideology, mechanism, arrangements and systems. Capitals’ logic, rationality, analysis, idea, concept, ideology, mechanism, arrangements and systems are imposed on all the classes including the classes hostile to the capitals as capitals’ logic etc. are labeled as “universal”, “for all of the population irrespective of class”, “prevailing through all the ages”, “eternal”.

Thus, begins the lies capitals depend on to deceive the exploited. Questions related to the lives of the exploited, the toiling masses, the biggest part of the population, are never raised, inquired and investigated, never discussed, debated and analyzed, never conclusive decisions are drawn as the inquiries, investigations, analyses and decisions lead to call to end exploitation, terminate ties of exploitative relations, expropriate exploitative properties. Inquiry, the first of the three parts in truth, as Francis Bacon defines, is shaken off. (“[…] yet Truth, which only doth judge it selfe, teacheth that the Inquirie of Truth, […]” (“Of truth”, in Alfred S West (ed.), Bacon’s Essays, Cambridge, at the University Press, 1908))

Thus, capitals obliterate truth, put to death prospects of searching truth. Non-real issues are marketed for the masses of people so that the masses of people sleep with unreal dreams, so that they loiter in the labyrinth of mysteries hiding facts of exploited life that overwhelm all the exploited humanity. The issues of exploitation, deprivation and inequality, issues essential for understanding the facts of real life, issues essential to get rid of yokes of exploitation, deprivation, deception and indignity are thus buried. Thus, capitals occupy life of the exploited, the poor, the deprived.

Raising and marketing the non-real issues of life related to the exploited is an act of lie. And, Oliver Wendell Holmes Sr., one of the US’ most popular nineteenth century poets, finds, “a lie is the handle which fits [all tools of sin].” And, William Shenstone, an eighteenth century English poet, finds, “[a] liar begins with making falsehood appear like truth, and ends with making truth itself appear like falsehood.” Thus, ideologues serving capitals make no distinction between the exploited and the exploiter, between exploitation and humanity, between appropriation, expropriation and friendship, between exploitative relations and humane relations, between rights of the exploited and rights of the exploiter, between economic and political system of the exploited and economic and political system of the exploiter, between people’s rights on the commons and capitals’ expropriation and loot of the commons; and all – the exploited and the exploiter – are put on the same scale, with the same rights that, actually, offers unlimited power and opportunity to the power holder, to the property holder, to the exploiter, which is a power to exploit all and everything – a power of “brotherhood and solidarity”, a power that saps energy from silence and non-question seeded among the exploited throughout generations and centuries, trapped through gossips, tales, false analyses, obsolete practices and propaganda. “Thenceforth,” finds Marx, “the class-struggle [….] sounded the knell of scientific bourgeois economy. It was thenceforth no longer a question, whether this theorem or that was true, but whether it was useful to capital or harmful, expedient or inexpedient, politically dangerous or not. In place of disinterested inquirers, there were hired prize fighters; in place of genuine scientific research, the bad conscience and the evil intent of apologetic.” (“Afterword to the second German edition of Capital”)

Thus, people’s brains are occupied by capitals with faulty analyses and false ideas serving interests of capitals; and Marx finds, “[t]he ruling ideas are nothing more than the ideal expression of the dominant material relationships, the dominant material relationships grasped as ideas.” (German Ideology) Plans and decisions don’t flow from the will of broader society, but from the will of capitals involved, and that will is capitals’ interests; and thus capitals make persons dependent; and Marx and Engels find, “[i]n bourgeois society capital is independent and has individuality, while the living person is dependent and has no individuality.” (Communist Manifesto) It’s an act of occupation of persons, classes, society, an act of occupation of life and living beings.

Thence, capitals turn desperate, hunt only profit; and all other issues and aspects of life appear useless, worthless and meaningless to capitals if those don’t bring profit, and higher profit to it.

On September 6, 1789, Jefferson wrote from Paris: “What is true of every member of the society individually, is true of them all collectively, since the rights of the whole can be no more than the sum of the rights of the individuals. [….] Individuals are parts only of a society, subject to the laws of the whole.” (James Madison Papers, “To James Madison from Thomas Jefferson”) But, the fact is it’s not possible to equate individuals to collective. A few ultra-rich individuals’ capital dominates and occupies all spheres of collective masses of people. Even, one uber-rich individual’s capital or a monopoly capital having no appearance of an individual stands against collective interests in a society and carries on the same task – dominate, dictate, occupy all the rest, be it the working people or the small producers or petty traders; and in case of the small producers and traders, it’s their decimation by their bigger brother holding the larger saber – a bigger capital; and in case of the entire population that includes the middle class along with those three – working people, small producers and petty traders – mentioned above, it’s the bigger/monopoly/finance capital’s rights, wishes and desires. So, the rights of all aren’t the same and aren’t derived from nature although Jefferson writes: “They derive these rights not from their predecessors, but from nature.” (ibid.) Capitals’ rights are derived from capitals. Thus, “[f]actions”, quoting Jefferson, “get possession of the public councils. Bribery corrupts them. Personal interests lead them astray from the general interests of their constituents [….]”; and “monopolies in commerce, the arts & sciences […]” (ibid.) The problem is with “personal interests”. It’s not personal interests, but class interests, capitals’ interests. A person or a number of persons having different interest can enter, incidentally or by sheer capacity cropping out of occasion or by force of public, a public council; but, the council as a whole moves along dominating capitals’ interests.

Thus, it’s found: capitals today are occupying people’s food, health, education, amusement, recreation and holidays, all types and forms of space, aspirations, dreams, articulation, planning, analyses, concepts, definitions. Thus, capitals define science in non-scientific way, a way diametrically and retrogressively opposite to the scientific approach and method, although capitals derive all benefits from science, use science to increase exploitation of labor and nature and maximize profit, and hide scientific facts related to nature and society so that capitals’ reign go unquestioned and unchallenged. The same goes with the definitions of philosophy, capital, rent, interest, value, commodity, consumption, appropriation and expropriation, donation and charity, privilege, political power, class and class struggle. The same is found while they don’t discuss necessary issues including “the relation of the rate of profit to the rate of surplus-value”, “increasing intensity of exploitation”, “depression of wages below the value of labor-power”, “the surplus-value which” merchant’s capital “pockets in the form of average profit must be a portion of the surplus-value produced by the total productive capital”, “wherever merchant’s capital still predominates […] backward conditions” are found, “merchant’s capital, when it holds a position of dominance, stands everywhere for a system of robbery,” (Marx, Capital, vol. III), which carry implications in the life of the exploited/working people. Thus, issues deleted from discussions, capitals occupy life.

In this “noble” task of occupying all whatever the masses of people posses, capitals enter into alliances with all sorts of forces that once in bygone days stood opposed to, in terms of economic interests and production relations, forward moving capitals in its earlier days. These forces include feudal and medieval retrogressive interests – all which oppose progress as progress hurts that power that chains the working people; and chaining the working people by capitals is the capitals imperative for pocketing profit; and capitals can’t survive without profiteering. So, capitals’ occupation business bursts, and people find all of its life occupied by capitals.

[The article originally appeared in New Age, Dhaka, on October 14, 2021 in the daily’s 18th anniversary special issue.]

Farooque Chowdhury writes from Dhaka.


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