Archives for posts with tag: Capitalism

The woke left is merciless in their destruction of sacred institutions: marriage and education, obviously; the institution of baby making; and of course, language. In a world where everyone is is a Nazi just for harmlessly protesting against draconian mask mandates, the word has lost all meaning. If everyone is racist, then no one is, and we can all go home. It’s safe and warm at home, and the woke left can’t get you because of Stand Your Ground laws.

It takes a good guy with a gun to stop a bad guy with a chainsaw and a liberal agenda

Now. Marriage is obsolete in that it serves only to legitimize through legal recognition particular and rigid definitions of relationships. Education is classist and functions only to produce efficient workers for the ownership class. Abortion is health care and functions only to provide women control over their means of production. And finally, only racist things are racist. But Blog For Chumps, you might ask, not knowing that a human being with a name and feelings is writing this, how can we know what is and is not racist when the woke left keeps calling helpless truckers Nazis?

I agree. Racism can be hard to point out, but not always – sometimes it is really obvious! When the NFL handles concussion payouts racistly by paying black players less because they are assuming that black people have fewer brain cells than their white counterparts and therefore don’t require as much relative compensation for their loss, that’s pretty heckin’ racist! That was in 2021, after Trump was robbed of his permanent leadership position, and racism in America was supposed to have ended for the second time. I guess we’re still reaching for that rainbow that I don’t see the colour of.

If you see them, you’re a racist

Easy stuff! But like, now climate change is racist? Apparently rich, whiter countries only superficially care about the climate even as poorer, darker countries are literally disappearing into the ocean! It seems like this just might be a world-ending emergency that ought to have an equivalent urgency, but like… the value of bank-owned debt is going down, so let’s focus on that instead. Entire countries can be underwater, either temporarily or on the verge of permanency, but so long as predominantly white countries only have slightly warmer weather, it is politically and socially “no biggie.” Racism!

Also journalism is racist. Again, sometimes very obviously. But not always, because sometimes all racism needs is a mostly white authorship being edited by a mostly white editing team for a mostly white audience, and with all those blind-spots and biases, POOF! You’ve got yourself a racism! What gets labeled as “exotic” or “undiscovered”? Undiscovered by whom? How are stories about race treated? What language gets used? When the authors are a monolith, you typically get the same kind of answers.

How do you think they pronounce ‘pho’?

But Blog For Chumps, you might persist, ruthlessly obstinate in your sobriquet, how can climate change or journalism call someone the N word? If abstract ideas are racist, does that mean we have to actually educate ourselves on how systems work in order to understand why rabid woke mobs keep calling random things racist? Probably. I mean you could take their word for it, I suppose. Who has time for a university degree?

But you don’t have to worry about going into impossible amounts of debt, forcing a lifetime of indentured servitude to your capitalist masters, just to learn about racism, so long as you understand the most racist abstract concept of all: capitalism. It’s capitalism. It’s always capitalism. I just said it like, within the same run-on sentence. You really should have seen this coming.

A fair and reasonable depiction.

Capitalism is all about private ownership and the profit motive. If a business owner is content with their normal amount of sales, they’re not innovating new and exciting logos for their carbonated beverage, and a disaster worse than climate change will befall us all if Apple stops releasing numerically-sequential iPhones until the sun goes out. Capitalists always need more – that’s the profit motive. And the ownership of these businesses needs to be centralized to a minority who make all the decisions because… reasons. I guess maybe to sell the illusion that you too can become a billionaire? With so few of them, it’s a lot easier to learn their names, so we all can aspire to be just like Jim Emerald-Mine Jr.! You too can escape the grind if you just keep that grindset!

How can a violently-enforced hierarchy that exploits and oppresses its lowest rungs to maximize profit be categorized as racist? To understand this head scratcher, we have to turn to a controversial historical economist with an extremist ideology who would have strong criticisms of today’s capitalism: Adam Smith.

Smith teaches us that value comes from labour. When a miner extracts a mineral from a mountain, they are adding value to the rock by turning it into, say, lithium. When the driver takes that lithium from the quarry to the battery factory, they are adding value by changing the location of that lithium to a place where more shit can be done to it. When the factory worker turns that lithium into a battery, they are adding even more value to what was once a far-away rock. If that battery was sold as is, each labourer would get back what they added to the product. With capitalism, the owner of this operation needs money too, so they add what’s called surplus value on top of all this already-established value, and they get that money just for tagging along.

It was a Christmas miracle!

Now, the labour theory of value isn’t actually how market prices are determined: they’re determined by supply and demand. However, the importance of Adam Smith’s Marxist idea of a labour theory of value comes from how it shows the relationship of profit to labour. If the price of that battery is determined by supply and demand, the profits of the organization still need to supersede the value of the labour added to the original mountain rock (through wages, benefits, etc… the intrinsic value of the labourer to the labour process, i.e. the price of human dignity).

But what if… what if, Blog For Chumps, what if… we cut down on human dignity in a market where prices are determined by supply and demand? If we ignore the value of the labourers, ignore their dignity, then we could make MORE profit. If the price is fixed elsewhere, but the value of labour is lessened, then the surplus increases regardless of how the market sets the price! Capitalism, as established, is built on the profit motive, so the idea of ignoring the dignity of workers is inherent to the process. Crucial to the definition of capitalism, workers are not in charge of making any decisions, so they are necessarily secondary to the primary mandate – to make the owners money.

Of course, someone needs to buy that battery. That’s why Henry Ford decided that maybe the local community ought not to be entirely destitute, and decided to pay his workers a living wage. Talk about a rock bottom moment when capitalism is forced to take care of its workers because its contradictions have gotten to the point where no one has any money except for the ownership class who already get their Model Ts at the corporate rate.

This accident is perpendicular to the road, without an apparent intersection. This must have been before drunk driving laws were a thing.

Luckily for capitalism, it gets to have its cake and eat it too! What if there could be a middle class to buy all the random garbage we keep producing at a planetary expunging rate, and also a class of people that we could mercilessly exploit for profit? Enter racism, stage left.

What if we could move labour to countries of colour, murderously exploit the people there with low wages and inhumane working conditions, and then sell that shit back to white people? Seems like the best of both worlds! We can even utilize dog whistles like saying that these foreigners are taking the jobs of white people, and then the white people here will get angry at them coloured folks rather than the system that makes this method of doing business the most profitable! Remember how Asians took all our manufacturing jobs? They took them. It’s not that corporations moved their operations to where labour is cheaper and has fewer safety regulations, they took them. If we want those jobs back, we have to lower our OWN wages and eliminate our OWN safety regulations! That’s harder to pitch (though they will try!) so capitalists will keep killing Asian people, either by suicide or by explosion, just because the people buying the products made by these dying Asians do not give a single fuck – because, perhaps you’ve noticed the theme, of carefully manufactured racism.

If things are bad, it’s not because of anything we’re doing, it’s because of those funny looking people over there!

Radical Adam Smith fanatic Noam Chomsky argues that capital crossing borders under the guise of corporate personhood, with intra-corporate “trade” crossing the Mexican border unperturbed by any wall, reveals the hypocrisy of this ideology. There is unanimous political agreement that capital ought to be able to cross any border to maximize this exploitative phenomenon. The lithium ought to go to where it is cheapest to manufacture into batteries, and so rich countries need “free trade” deals with poorer countries in order to have the absolute minimal amount of value-added to their product before they sell it. But human persons can’t cross the border; they are told, “Do not come.” It’s equally unanimous. I mean, they do actually want you to come – who else is going to clean toilets on the cheap? They just want you to be desperate. The less value as a person you have, the more worth you have to capitalism. Republicans know that a wall won’t stop desperate people, they just want them to be that much more desperate so that they will complain less about the conditions of their exploitative labour. Or compete with white folks who will then have to accept worse conditions in competition with these desperate migrants and refugees! Wouldn’t it be wild if we convinced those white folks that this was the fault of the family running away from a cartel-backed death squad instead of seeing them as allies against those who would exploit them both? Wouldn’t it be absolutely wild? Such a group would likely fixate on culture war issues like the threats of race and immigration, pedophiles within the LGBT community, and the depiction of women in superhero movies while the policies they implement would focus on tax cuts for wealthy individuals and corporations, anything to make their followers myopically fixate on a hated Other. Surely such tactics would be so obvious that they would never be considered a serious organization.

I’m clearly hilariously satirizing the Republican party, but the Democrats aren’t much better. Welfare capitalism is at its core a strategy to ensure that those on the bottom rungs are just comfortable enough that they don’t rebel against the system that determines their lot. It’s the Henry Ford version of capitalism – adding a bit of seasoning to the scraps so that the poors have just enough to still participate within capitalism. Liberals are still very capitalistic, but the Right will still misname welfare spending as socialist because irrespective of how capitalistic it remains, they recognize the anti-capitalist nature of acknowledging basic human rights.

If we admit that we don’t want human beings to die, they might actually thrive and then demand even more rights like decent wages or living conditions! Better to dehumanize them to the point where their deaths are actively sought.

In theory, a free market would require the free mobility of labour equivalent to the free mobility of capital to ensure the invisible hand is determined by market forces appropriately, but because capitalism utilizes racism to maximize the profit motive, we get the Chinese Head Tax and all sorts of other racisms to keep racialized workers desperate enough to accept poor wages. I almost wrote “slave wages” there! Haha that would have been a goof! That would allude that capitalism has been relying on racist machinations for much longer than globalization has been around! I mean, is slavery an obvious example that I didn’t even touch on that highlights the blatant exploitation of a racialized class labouring for the profits of a rich, white minority? Have capitalists been using racism since slavery ended to divide a diversity of workers against their natural class solidarity? The answer, of course, is yes.

BECAUSE CAPITALISM IS A VIOLENTLY-ENFORCED HIERARCHY REQUIRING AN EXPLOITED CLASS TO ENSURE MAXIMUM PROFITS, AND IS SYSTEMATICALLY GEARED TOWARD DEMONIZING OTHERED GROUPS TO PERPETUATE THAT EXPLOITATION BECAUSE THAT’S MORE PROFITABLE THAN PROPERLY VALUING THE HUMAN DIGNITY OF A WORKER!

Deep breaths.

I mean… if a business was structured in such a way that there was no hierarchy and instead functioned democratically… that kind of a horizontal system would no longer require a necessarily exploited group! I mean, it wouldn’t be capitalist because businesses would be collectively owned instead of privately, but private ownership of the means of production is… kinda racist. It’s not that everything is racist, just the things that propagate capitalism are racist! Mystery solved!

More reflective criticisms of communism, outside of the absurd mainstay of communism being the antithesis to “America” that most critics rely on, focus on the centralized government being in complete control of the economy. Economies work best when dictated by the invisible hand of supply and demand, and if a powerful bureaucracy were to attempt to fumble their way through managing the intricacies of varying economic factors, they would inevitably fail. An economy inherently cannot be managed by a centralized power. Just look at the Soviet Union, or Cuba, or Venezuela, or any of the other “failed” communist states who weren’t able to trade with other countries due to economic sanctions. It was The Communism that crippled their economy because their governments were too hands on; it wasn’t their isolation from markets. Also, don’t look at China because they seem to be managing their economy fine and are one of the most prosperous nations in the world.

IGNORE US! MILLIONS OF PEOPLE OUT OF POVERTY NEVER HAPPENED!

I’m not here to be a defender of communism or to detail about how it isn’t even necessarily linked to a managed economy (I’ve already done that). Nor am I trying to defend China (the Muslim-minority Uyghurs don’t seem to benefit from a prosperous GDP) or get into a debate about the extent of capitalism that exists under a self-described “communist” government (that’s why Western governments are totally fine with Huawei’s networks in their countries and are fully supportive of the Belt and Road Initiative – there is no government management in their economy whatsoever). I want to talk about managed economies in general as someone who has never formally studied economics. Strap in!

Let’s take the conservative view that any kind of government oversight is going to hinder economic growth. We’ll imagine the libertarian paradise where government finally leaves companies and corporations alone to competitively spar with grit and vigour. Of course, in competitions there are winners and losers, and when a company loses, it either folds or is bought up by the winning company it was competing against. Once a company wins, it dominates its market and becomes more powerful making it harder for newer, innovative companies to compete. It would sort of be like if Mike Tyson ate the heart of everyone he beat in a boxing match and gained their strength on top of his own. Or I guess the literal plot of the movie Highlander. And much like the film, there can be only one, and that’s why capitalism tends toward monopoly. You can look at Alphabet Inc., the corporation that owns Google, for instance: they’ve cornered the market, and bought up 243 companies that came up with innovative ideas related to internet-y type stuff. If some young entrepreneur working in their parents’ garage came up with some new technology that improved the way searching works, you think they’d be able to compete with Google? Or not be bought out in an instant? Even a trillion dollar company like Microsoft can’t compete with Google in its market, and if you use Bing, you’ll know why.

Most of the memes comparing Google and Bing are pretty dark, I’ve just now discovered, looking for an image to break up this text. I went with one that illustrates my point instead.

With further expansion of corporate assets, one can imagine quite a spread. Amazon, an online retailer, has made inroads into grocery chains, robotics, video streaming, and news media. With this diverse portfolio already existing within a world with already too much nanny-ing in its state, it’s easy to see these big corporations building their own empires of employment were governments to dissolve. The abolition of government in favour of capitalism wouldn’t lead to any kind of libertarian paradise, but to more of a corporate feudalism where one’s national identity would be better defined by where they worked rather than where they lived.

Jeff Bezos would be king, the managerial class would be his aristocracy, and the workers would be his peasants. Bill Gates, Elon Musk, and the other b(tr)illionaire owners would be neighbouring monarchies. The metaphor works quite well. Current day governments are the centralized Catholic church; the church had control over the identity of their subjects for hundreds of years. Then the individual, national monarchies got stronger and stronger, and identity was shifting. In the end, Henry VIII wanted to divorce his wife, the Pope said no, and King Henry said fuck you and started his own damn church. We’re at the stage now where there is an uneasy alliance between the two superpowers of government and corporation, and there is a real possibility that some corporate lord is going to have his own Henry VIII moment where he doesn’t want to do what governments are regulating and decides to secede.

Anti-trust laws are the only thing standing between me and my Anne Boleyn

Maybe this isn’t so bad because capitalism relies on pecuniary wealth as its measure of power rather than land ownership, right? Well, that’s not technically correct because capitalist power resides in ownership just as much as feudal power; Jeff Bezos is powerful because he has a say in how Amazon, the Washington Post, and Blue Origin are run. And within capitalism, this power manifests itself much in the same way as between warring monarchies. When Iran’s Prime Minister Mossadegh wanted oversight on his country’s oil reserves, the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company (now BP) pushed American and British forces to assassinate him to accommodate their corporate interest. When the United Fruit Company (now Chiquitas Brands International) didn’t like how the democratically-elected government of Guatemala was challenging its monopoly of their arable land, they lobbied the American government to arrange a coup. Both instances led to the installation of brutal dictatorships – notably, brutal to their people, but quite friendly to corporate interests.

This capitalist utopia would ultimately be a regression of civilization, and more importantly, the economy would still be managed! Jeff Bezos is already talking about it! He wants to solve global warming by sending industries into space, which, however unreasonable it might be given the timeframe that climate change has allowed us, is a goal he intends to use his vast wealth and influence to realize. The examples I listed above were governments working in tandem with corporate management of the economy, and that could be the only reason we haven’t had our King Henry moment – governments are quite content to whore themselves out to corporate mercenary interests. They’ve got fewer scruples than the Borgias.

By “we” I obviously mean the West, since Iran and Guatemala did actually have their own King Henry moments. Quite viscerally, in fact.

The thing is, Chiquitas is still around. BP is still around. Greenpeace recently tricked an Exxon lobbyist into admitting the ways that the oil industry manages the economy by curtailing green initiatives and reducing oil regulations in government. We’re already living in a plutocracy where the wealthy and ownership class manipulate government to exert their will. Cutting back government will only make their manipulations more open because they will be able to act on the economy much more directly.

Economies will always be managed; whether it’s by a communist government or a Keynesian one, whether by a feudal king or a corporate one. Once we accept that there is no such thing as a free market within capitalism due to accumulations of power, we can approach the problem of a managed economy with open eyes. I think everyone is in agreement that a concentration of control and power is bad and corrupt. Even Bezos’s “benevolence” toward climate change is myopic and likely influenced by an echo chamber of sycophants and power hungry trolls.

I think Bezos’s real goal is to make Elysium just as prophetic as Idiocracy.

The right happens to think that this concentration of power exists in government and calls it communist, and the left sees it in corporations more subtly exerting their influence. When the government and corporations work hand in glove, the distinction really becomes inconsequential. Both right and left even seek the same goal: a diffusion of that control. It’s just that the right wants that diffusion to take place in an environment where power cannot be diffused due to the tendency of monopoly within capitalism. The left seeks democratic control to replace this concentration, democracy in both community and organizational levels.

A managed economy isn’t such a scary thing because they always have been and they always will be. The invisible hand doesn’t exist – Adam Smith was a na├»ve idealist. The question you have to ask yourself is, who should be in charge?

Would you ever sell yourself into slavery? If you think this is a paradox, remember that slavery is not simply unpaid labour, but giving up our control to the whims of another. Slaves were property, not unpaid labourers. The conditions of the slavery aren’t even that important; I don’t think anyone would go back in time and choose to be a slave, even if they got to be a house slave. Slavery isn’t abominable because of the conditions, though they certainly didn’t help, nor was it anything to do with the type of labour involved since all of that labour still exists today with little controversy. Slavery was abolished because it took away our liberty as human beings.

Maybe you’re a bit more cynical. I was a quite vague in my offer, but perhaps a huge cash sum might change your mind? The thing is, though, if any amount of money tempts us to give up a fundamental condition of our human nature, then that desire can only be driven by desperation. If the thought arises that this amount of money might make life more livable, it is only blinding us to the fact that a life of slavery is less than a life. We cannot abandon liberty and still be fully human.

Now, if we wouldn’t accept a single cash buyout to enter into slavery, then why do we accept smaller, biweekly payments in the form of a wage? The conditions of our labour today remove from us our autonomy just as much as any plantation, even if the conditions might be better. If you disagree, ask yourself how able you are to say no to your boss, and how able your boss is to say no to you. There is a disparity in freedom there, and it very likely isn’t favouring you. Any ability to say “no” to your boss that you possess today was fought and bled for by unionists before you. The pittance of liberty we possess at work was not given but taken, and, under many employers, is slowly being clawed back.

You might be skeptical. If you aren’t happy with your job, you can just pick up and leave for another, right? But consider this: how many employers are there out there right now that allow you to say no to your boss? How many employers are there that don’t follow this fundamental relationship of capital ownership? Trading one plantation for another is not liberty.

plantation1a_360

“Let’s work next door. I hear they only give out ten lashes for insubordination instead of twenty!” Businesses might offer perks to compete for your labour, but never liberty; all you receive are allowances from your master.

Maybe you dream of one day becoming the boss, then you’ll have freedom! Climb that corporate ladder! Regardless of how unfeasible this might be in reality due to the disparity of opportunities, the number of aspirants, the nepotism and politics of advancement, this is still the dream of the hooker wishing to become the pimp. Regardless of where you might fall along the spectrum of middle management, it is still an immoral system. Self-interest and greedy delusion are not sufficient justification.

The movie Office Space exists and is so relatable because we all inherently recognize that the disparate hierarchy we possess in our workplace is ultimately degrading. We agree to it because if we don’t work, we starve. We agree out of desperation.

working outside

And yet if Peter’s new boss asks him to come in on Saturday, he is still in the same predicament as in the beginning of the film. His relationship to work has not changed.

In our work today, we live less than a life. What we need is autonomy in our labour. What we need is a voice in the conditions of our labour. We demand democracy in our politics, but remain blind to it for the eight hours or more we slog through in our employment. We’ve been convinced we’re free because we have a few tired hours after work to spend the money we’ve been allowed on streaming television, forgetting that those hours required workers to die because the bosses of the past couldn’t be bothered to allow us even that.

Is that what we want? A life where our few pleasures are those “allowed” to us by our employer? Or do we want a say in our lives? Do we want real choice? If we do, what then are we willing to do for our liberty?