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Capitalism’s Vanishing Appeal
It should be clear by now that our economic system is at a critical impasse, and therefore becoming less and less useful. America is not as prosperous as it once was, although some Americans enjoy the wealth of sovereigns. Americans work harder and longer than they used to, with less pay and less benefits and less chance for advancement, while some Americans have advanced beyond their wildest dreams. Inequality reeks in the land of equals.
As we approach our quadrennial election pageant, representatives of our two-headed Hydra (that would be the Democratic and Republican Parties) will plead for our vote. To the extent that the Hydra analogy is accurate, there is no place else to go. Whether you see it as one party or two parties, it is impossible to win the vote without the material support of elites. That has been locked down by the Hydra. So why vote?
The Kremlin was not defensive about Stalin’s wins at the polls. Instead it could boast of the many millions that affirmed the leadership on that day. It didn’t matter that it was a ballot of one because, crucially, the ballot had been validated. The people’s vote signified continuance of the state. The Hydra is always promising change, but an individual’s vote for it is always about continuance. It is unrealistic to expect anything else because the elite interests that are so firmly entrenched in our society are not about to be undone by the party, or parties if you prefer it, that represent them.
‘Get out the vote’ is a plea for continuance, certainly not a plea for a radical party, meaning not a real plea for change. An individual longing for change within the current system, i.e., no revolution, faces a choice of two infinitesimals. Voting for a radical, or withholding the vote. The wisest choice may be, learning from the Soviet experience, that it is best not to validate the system by participating in it. Even better may be the active choice of registering, going to the polls, and returning a blank ballot to signify the illegitimacy of a coercive election apparatus that essentially stifles radical party growth. Even better would be if blank ballots were categorized as such and counted. Like said, it’s infinitesimal, but a universe started that way.
Imagine the panic that would set in when the number of blank ballots reached sufficiently high. Pressure from below. The only thing that has ever mattered. There is something here for game theorists. What if I return a blank ballot, but there is no cooperation and the wrong person is elected? No loss. Following described circumstances, the wrong person is always elected.
Following pageant tradition, each head of the Hydra will furiously gyrate its hips at us (an Arundhati Roy aphorism), promising better days ahead in return for the favor of a vote. And it will be up to us to believe them. Politicians don’t always lie, and, for that matter, governments don’t always lie. But they lie whenever they want!
If you changed every politician in Washington, not a single thing would change because Washington is but a figurehead. It takes its directions from Wall Street. Permanent control of the country rests in the hands of the private sector. Corporations would still run the show, fitting because they own it. All perfectly legal and operating amidst the most privacy. That’s what private means. It’s none of your business.
Get off this estate.
Because it’s mine.
Where did you get it?
From my father.
Where did he get it?
From his father.
And where did he get it?
He fought for it.
Well, I’ll fight you for it.
— Carl Sandburg
And things have never been better thanks to the decimation of organized labor. The labor union has been a big problem, according to the capitalist. Labor asks for too much. But management doesn’t ask at all. Allowing for the worst excesses of the producer and the laborer, that is, assuming wrongs on the part of each, there is an ethical choice. Whose side would you rather be wrong on?
Healthcare costs would still rise in the drive to market new products. Maybe you’ve noticed the ads. It’s your health (“promote the general welfare”), but it’s a for-profit business. And it’s getting bigger as the population ages so it has to show even greater profit because, you know, it’s not nationalized. That can’t be talked about. That’s socialist, not capitalist.
The military would continue to be glorified in fighting its economic wars. It’s a point in our late-stage imperialistic, capitalistic continuum. (For informative and insightful reading, consult Otto’s Notebook, http://www.otto5.com/). No challenge to the Anglo-American capitalist model will be tolerated. That’s what all the fighting is about. Our domination and protection of resources, markets, supply routes, and with that, the world economy. It has nothing to do with democracy, or freedom, or self-defense and plenty to do with double standards and hypocrisy.
About hypocrisy: A pre-scientific fable supposes a flat earth supported on the back of a turtle. That poses the question, what is supporting the turtle? It’s turtles all the way down. How deep does US hypocrisy run? All the way down! Hypocrisy wear bars have yet to be developed.
Using the symbolism of the Occupy movement, our economic system is working against 99% of us, and for 1% of us. The 1% don’t, and won’t, need Medicare and Social Security. The 99% need both more than ever. We know which way the debate is going on this, just like we know where the control lies when Wall Street is bailed out to the tune of trillions of dollars, in a week’s time at that, while the rest of the country, the 99%, goes wanting.
This or that president will make his face sincere in the camera and talk about the country we all love and share, the many blessings of freedom that we have because we have defended them in foreign wars, that we must keep defending with our lives in foreign wars.
This or that president will make his face sincere in the camera and invoke the deity to augment his flattering of the hardest working people on this Earth, the American people.
Meanwhile, some people get it, especially as they are feeling it. That the actions of the ruling elite reveal a certain contempt for these working people. Now a cynical person might say the citizen has value for the state in three ways. As soldier to further it, as voter to validate it, and as taxpayer to finance it. Well, you might say that.
James Rothenberg can be reached at: email@example.com