Updated: May 20, 2019
Progressives are fooled by the corporate news media, who are paid to lie about wars, climate, economics, everything. Progressives believe the abuses in capitalism can be removed through reforms; they haven’t realized that the abuses are capitalism. A simple analysis shows that inequality, externalities, and alienation are terrible evils inherent in every version of capitalism.
INEQUALITY is enormous in our society. That didn’t happen by accident, nor solely by cheating (though certainly the cheating is massive). Markets naturally increase inequality, by giving greater benefit to whichever trader was already in the stronger bargaining position. Thus wealth is concentrated in a few people, who gain power and are corrupted by it. Everyone else gets poorer; the 99% experience hard times despite rising productivity. It’s like the board game “Monopoly,” which always ends with all the players but one totally impoverished. The market’s “opportunity for all” is a lie.
EXTERNALITIES are the unmeasured side effects of every market transaction. They are paid for, not by the buyer or seller, but by everyone else. The system is “every man for himself,” with no regard for a commons. No corporation today would be profitable if it paid for its side effects. Externalities are enormous; they include poverty, war, and ecocide. War is mass murder thinly disguised as “defense,” and it gets over half our national budget; the millions killed are an externality of the profiteers. And ecocide, if continued, will soon destroy the climate and the ecosystem, and kill us all. The so-called “efficiency of the market” is a lie.
ALIENATION: The market makes us all commodities to be exploited or discarded. The market pits us against each other in merciless competition; we see the contest’s casualties begging on street corners. Desperation kills empathy, inviting sexism, racism, austerity, imperialism, and other kinds of bullying. And every week some angry, lonely man shoots up a school. Capitalism is terribly destructive in the hands of psychopaths, and capitalism creates psychopaths. That such a socioeconomic system could be made “kinder and gentler” is a lie so transparent that it is laughable.
Aside from capitalism, our other root problem is hierarchy, which also concentrates power. The USA has been a plutocracy thinly disguised as democracy ever since its founding in land theft, genocide, and slavery.
Property and hierarchy cannot be reformed, and must be ended. We need to replace them with sharing and horizontalism, respectively. Admittedly, this would be a huge change, our biggest in 10,000 years. But without it the climate apocalypse will kill us all, an even bigger change.
If we jail the plutocrats without changing the culture that spawned them, it will quickly spawn a new batch of plutocrats. We need the right kind of revolution. That will only happen when the 99% see what is really going on. Tell them.
Updated: May 20, 2019
Eric Schechter on May 20, 2019
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