DRAFT: On Self interest and the economy. By Comatoast Thanks to leftychan.net.
I guess I am going to throw caution to the wind and just start writing my own book. College, Rationality, and Forethought be damned! I think page/article/book, what have you, I will be out lining, in my opinion the arguments to be had against the notion that Capitalism is at all in the interest of the individual, or, at all in the interest of the collective society that the individual lives under. Surely this will not be of any suprise to people like me, or, to the more economically innitiated ike those of us on the left, but, it deff might come as a shock to your average college student who just graduated their freshmen semester at college on what as been labeled, so called, "economics" in the modern era.
In this writing I will attempt to dispell these myths that capitalism is at all in favor of individual wellbeing and, infact, I will attempt to demostrate to opposite.
People and workers who exist today love to think of themselves as a type of self made, rugged, individual who is pulling himself up by his bootstraps and putting his "best foot forward" and going out and making a living. Americans have been inoculated into the belief that their servetude and toil is in their own interests. That suffering for 6 - 8 - 12 even - 14 hours a day is some how "just the way it is" and "just the way it has to be" after all, as we are all told, "You just have to work to survive in this world" Undoubtely, that is true. Work does, indeed, need to get done at some point in order for our society to hold itself together. What confuses me is that they some how have never once entertained the idea that the amount of labor we preform in modern day society is some how at all neccesary or required in any way. They believe that this brutality, this barbarism of grinding yourself into dust is in their self interst. Nonsense. In a rational system that actually made sense, to echo kropotkin, Workers, especially in modern capitalism, do not need to work 12 or - 14 hours a day. Most work could be done by many different people dividing the hours worked between them. You could have 4 people work 4 three hour shifts rather than having 1 person work 1 12 hour shift and have many different people working on the same production line, or, in the same industry, or, service rather than one. This not only saves individuals time in their daily lives and frees us from the choir of manual labor, but, it also opens up the economy economically so that now more people actually have more oppertunities to work and produce for society and make themselves useful for society!
However, under capitalism the exact opposite appears to be true. Under the system of capitalism. (And I know from experience) One individual man (or woman) is required to preform the same, boring, mind numbing and reptative tasks over and over again. Not only, simply put, is this not in the interest of the individual in any way shape or form, but, it is completely backwards to what would be benificial for the individual labor wise. Domestic Abuse, Addiction, Suicide, depression, many of these social ills can be linked to the extrodinary ammount of time people find themselves forced to exist under the heel of authority and cramed like sardiens next to to their co workers. The angery drunkard rages out at his spouse in a drunken fit of rage due to the decades and years of internalized abuse faced at the hands of their masters. Yes, I say masters.
For anyone to call this relationship in anyway "self interested" is such nonsense that it beggs for a refutation. Only to the most irrational and unthinking of people can such a relationship be considered benifitial. Much in the same way the house negros of old justified slavery through the above average living coniditons of their time so does the modern worker justify his servitude through such logic. Logic we will look at now...
In the modern work place there always exists a type of sycophant. A begger, a brown noser, a suck up. Sone always looking to get ahead of others by any means neccesary. Sociopathic and willing to to do anything to get ahead (even if a few people have to loose their lively hoods in the process) These type of people have a specific personality type. Not only is their personality type specifically crafted by the external world around them to self justify itself to them *and thus to their peers) but, futhermore, it is an ideology. This ideology has been out lined prior through notions like capitalist realism. A concept crafted by the late Mark Fisher. One issue that I feel must be brought up is how capitalism re-enforces itself in the ideology of its underlings. These people must constantly justify their actions to themselves. To me, killing a man is wrong and I would say that most people with a good ethical compas would agree. But, under the system of capitalism. Killing is wrong, but, the economic system of profits cares little for wrong or right. Profits simply care about profits and the accumulation of capital.
Under the current system all human activity is thrown under the will of the accumulation of capital. Human ethics, human emotion, and human value itself becomes little more than the play thing of invisible forces driven by the fluxtuations of bipolar numbers bouncing up and down. Sorry Ms Jones, looks like you will simply have to rough it out on the street this winter. The company is under going some cuts to excess spending and we simply can't afford to keep you on any more. "But wait!" I can hear the objections already: The current modern system of capitalism accounts for these things through things like government assistance and unemployment. This is simply a facade. The modern system of capitalism requires that to recieve un employment the average worker must work for 6 -7 even 8 months at an employer. On average the current job lasts about 6 months. Barely enough to make it to the unemployment margine. It's no coincidence; These CEO's have set up their industries in such a way as to account for these things and they keep the reserve army of labor ready to replace these people and who is left out on the short end of this deal? The individual of course.
I digress...The point I am making here is that the individual under capitalism knows these things. They see and contribute to in their daily lives the revolutionary continum of this economic motion and thus, in order to stay relevent to their own ethical compass they must make excuses to themselves and to others. "That's simply the way things are," "It's the best possible system we have," "At least we aren't like X third world country!" These people understand the world is fucked up, but, the system of capitalism has crafted this narrative and fine tuned it for these people through historical revisonism and the manufacture of consent such as that which Pro. Chomsky has touched on in his book "The manufacture of consent."
Which brings us to our next point....
Looking back to the turn of the industrial revoution; Marx was born May 5th 1818 and Died the 14th of March 1883. In his siminal work, Das Kapital, Marx explains the inner workings of capitalism. From the production and distribution of commodities down to their influence on the greater economy and everything in between. His, arguably, most well known text: The communist manifesto outlines a clear and precise path to victory for the industrial prolotariate of his time. Marx and his contemporaries lived under the hight of industrial society. They fought and lived and died for many of the ammenities and rights we have today as workers. Rights that have been eroded and taken away from us over the course of the last 120 years. Marx was an intellegent man. He understand the complex nuances that surrounded the working man of the industiral period. Marx was not a determinist, but, Marx believed fully that the prolotariate of his time would be able and willing to rise to the task of history and take control of it in their own hands. Unfortinantly for us, the history of the prolotariate is not one of socialism, rather, we appear to have entered into a period of great barbarism. Capital has revolutionized itself in the form of financial accests being traded betwix one another ad-infinitum. Modern day capitalism has firmly won out in the developed world (for now) The history of the soviet union and The united states is, if anything, undoubtibly one of hostility. Even in periods of mutual alliance both countires were quick to rejoin their propaganda efforts against one another. The US being the clear enemy to any one educated in historical fact.
That being said, the system of capitalism manifests itself in many ways as I previously touched on in chapter 2. Ideologically it must manifest itself in a self justifying manner. Like a snake eating its own tail. It is both alpha and omega. Niether beigining nore end. As such, the ideology of capitalism is treated the same way. Modern education serves to turn a young child full of wonder and whimsy into a slave. A slave for the production of capital. At an early age the inviduality of the child is stripped awy. Slowly, but, surely, they are forced to conform. "Get good grades or you will have a hard life" Sound familiar? Children must be tought from an early age the consiquences for out of the box thinking. For dreaming to big, for desiering to much. You are expected to grow into servitude and the modern education system handles this with great acquity.
For those individualistic and intellegent thinkers, those rebels, those whome embody the true spirit of revolution, they learn the hard way. Through poverty, homelessness, addiction, starvation, and all sorts of ill treatment. The individual at every level is thought to conform on an "or else" basis. Taught to sell their soul away. Their time. Their literal lives all in the persuit of the all mighty and omnipotent profit motive. There is no possbility of a better world in the eyes of the capitalist hegemony. Any such notion is beaten out of the individual, molded by the state and its education system and solidified by the harsh nature of reality. The USSR as children are taught was/is an evil dictatorship. And we god fearing Americans should be lucky to live in this, so called, free and open enviroment. I will touch on the history of the USSR in a later chapter, but, the point being, from an early age the individual, the child, is conditioned to accept their servitude. Conditioned to accept their place and conditioned to not even hold the possibility in their mind that a better world MIGHT at all be possible. To the individual under capitalism and its systems of power this is the only world that there is and ever can possbility be.
Modern Class politics often tend to get push to the edges of political discussion in the united states. As was discussed in the privious chapter there is a system of self censorship and an ideology of what is allowed to be discussed at the higher levels of society that is forced onto the people and those thoughts thus manifest themselves as ideology in the modern world. In contrast there exists other levels of self enforcment of the capitalist hegemony on the individual. These types of non sequiturs, let's say, exist and arise through the financialization of capital into a homogenous monstrosity. From the industrial revolution capitalism has all but replaced the factories of yesterday. Most jobs that now exist in the country (The united states) exist as service industry jobs. A lack of productive forces and a generation of capital leaves capital bare. No long is utility created for purchase, rather, ideas and signals become the modern way that people attest value in the market. As such, you have conceps the conspiracy theories arise. Conspiracy theories act as a type of non sequitur for curious minds who could or would otherwise discover and investigate the system of capitalism. PPeople know something is wrong. Conspiracy theories act as a saftey net (one of many) to guide people away from revolutionary ideologies and concepts of the last century.
Section 1. Alex Jones Alexander Emerick Jones was born on Feburary 11, 1974. He is the founder of Infowars and the Genesis Communications Network which funds hundreds of fake news outlits and conspiracy platforms. Alex jones rose to prominance after the 9/11 attacks, but, had existed far before that. He used the 9/11 attacks and the patriot act (an obstensively unethical piece of legislation passed by the bush administration) to launch his political career. He is probably most well known for his FUD spreading about the sandyhook attacks and his denial of their existence (actions his has now back peddled on) Alex Jones and the conspiracy theory ideology as a whole exist as a means to funnel revolutionary potential back into the system of capitalism. Look at the types of people that are involved in these types of social networks. These are people who truly believe and understand that the system is messed up, but, o course, in order to see a systemic issue with capitalism and understand that as an economic issue wouldbe going against everything that these people have ever known. All humans exert bias. These people ar eno different. So, either conciously or unconciously these people end up following these conspiracy theories in order to act on the system in some way with out actually acting upon the system in any punative way that can bring about true or real change.
Fruthermore, these conspiracies are commodities that are sold and produced for the consumermind set. Many people like the flat earthers make it their own identity. It becomes part of them. In this way conspiracy theories alleviate the stress of living under the modern economic system of capitalism.
Section 2. Identity politcs and liberalism People do not believe that Identity politics and Conspiracy theories may have much in common but nothing could be further from the truth. Much in the same way that Cosnpiracy theories play on right leaning tendencies; Trump voters, Republicans, Conservative Evangelicals, etc etc. Identity politics are used as a bludgeon to beat down class decent from the left and to, again, funnel revolutionary sentiment and potential back into the system of capitalism. Endless Marches and parades all wrapped up and sold back to a hoard of mindless consumers who view liberation and political power not as power to be taken, but, as the ability to consume and purchase commodities. There's literally nothing that better exemplifies this the the notorious pepsie commercial. Incase you live under a rock, pepsie did an advertisment durring the height of protests against police brutality pre-george floyd. In the commercial a crowd of, generic, protesters, are screaming at police. Then this one women out of the crowd protraied by none other than Kenddell Jenner parts the crowd and with a 12 ounce can in hand and present it to the polce officer as if to symbolise a type of reunine; a type of common ground between protesters and police and the message couldn't be more clearn. Corperate america wants its cake and to eat it too.
The message is that it's ok the have an opinion. (As long as that opinion is with in the acceptable bounds of the system) Furthermore, like Mac from It's always sunny, Pepsie is playing bothsides of the feild here. Trying to market to both protersters and the enforcers of violence under the capitalist state called the police. Trying to appeal to both and come off as simultaniously radical and as neutral as possible. All in order to make a quick buck. The system of capitalism is extremely good at innocculating systems of rebellion against it and that is the roll that identity policts (and to a larger extent liberalism) plays in the system of capitalism. The political ideology of liberalism and the divisive nature of identity politics is the deeper less obvious branch of the state and capital. Where as the conservative machine is very much involved in overt racism and pro capitalist talking points for example, the ideology of the liberal is much more senister. Liberalism masks itself as making progressive radical change while funniling systems of change back into the very system from which causes these issues to arise in the first place and in their place they offer no real punitive change.
Take racism for example, racism is undoubtly a real force of the modern political system. Racism is a system that has existed for thousands of years, but, what the liberal establishment fears more than anything is a material and historical analysis of racism as a historical force. What liberals and identity politics will never admit is that no matter how hard they try they, much like the right, believe that the individual is inherently responsible for their behaviors and actions. Of course this is, to some degree true. (At least with out diving into deeper philosophical theory) However, what the inevitable conclusion of the liberal political view is is that people are responsible for the historical moments they find themselves in. The right winger/reactionary believes that "black" people are inherently stupid and ignornat and that is why they find themselves in the place in society they do. Conversly, the liberal believes that "white" people are inherently responsible for the blood shed caused through out history.
I want to make it clear, this is not an excuse for the horrific injusticecs found through out history caused by any demographic, namely, white euorpeans and colonists of the earlier centuries. More so, this is a plea to understand that the causes for these things are not found with in the, so called, "nature" of any particular indiviudal, rather, there are historical and material forces at play that have driven us to the current historical moment we find outselves in today. The history of man is riddled with the blood shed of the lesser classes. As Marx said "Slave, Serf, Prolotariate" find themselves at historical opposition to the Lords, Barrons and Slave masters; namely the owners of capital.
Chapter 5. The intersection of capital through of the historical apoch of human society. Slavery as an economic system of production existed for thousands of years. Mostly along side other economic systems of production such as mercantilism, or, more apthly, fuedalism. The narrative we are told in history classes and through out society is that men, in their endless bloodlust, were responsible for the rise of these economics systems and that the system of capitalism arose historically as the final opposition to these forces and the harbinger of freedom. However, the simple fact of the matter is that slavery as an economic system arose mainly due to the influence of capital. Not capital as we understand it today, and, not even as marx, supposedly, understood it. Rather, slavery arose through the material conditions that demanded the generation of profits and the ownership of capital. In otherwords, as marx would say, the desire for one man to subsist off no labor of his own. How does one man do this? The answer is, really, quite simple. One man subsists on their own through no labor of their own through the labor of others and this this is the point that liberals inevitably miss. That all systems of capital accumulation exist off the blood, sweat, and tears of a pre existing lower social class; Slaves, Serfs, and Workers.
All societies have been subject to this economic relation of exploitation of human labor and capitalism is no exception. Slavery arose, again, through the generation of profits and the desire to accumulate capital off the labor of other humans. The whole system of colonialism arose, in part, due to this relationship and as such the modern world, slowly, but surly, developed into what it is today through this very same relationship.
Slavery and feudalism eventually would be abolished as the economic and social exploitation of the slave is barren for all to see and to a lesser extent (but no less sever) so is the fuedal serf. These revolutions would take placce over thousands of years. One revolution that comes to mind immediantly is the American revolution. It's no secret that the American revolution was the result of the afor mentioned mercantile class colluding to over throw the fuedal system and, in the same way, the system of slavery and the liberation of the slave was abused to this end. Labor was historically shifted from being a burden to being a symbol of freedom through propoganda spread by the mercantile class. The peasants were rallied behind the promise of freedom for labor. The freedom to become aritisans and freely sell their own labor in an open and free market and this has congelled into the current system we find ourselves in. None of these promises would truly come to frutition. Perhaps in a lesser time before the industrial revolution artisans and their puples might of had a better time of accumulating wealth and knowledge of trades passed down through history, however, as history has shown the current economic system is anything but that.
After the epoch of slavery and fuedalism and, let's say, early capitalism (really a form a mercantilism) We saw the rise of industrial capitalism. The rise of industrial capitalism was an unprecidented historical event. Suddenly the artisans of earlier society found themselves slowly thrust into the coggs of an infinite and ever exapanding machanism of development. Peasants and young artisans found themselves thrust into and endlessly reproductive force of history. A truly revolutionary system and they were well aware of this. In the state of Texas durring the 19th century the development of industry was not only viewed as a force of slavery but as a force of out right opposition to the values that these people held. Namely, freedom. The early americans that existed with in this eco-system slowly saw the life they understood vanishing before their eyes. The primative accumulation of capital demanded that they leave their early closely knit communities in favor of mass industrial production and they understood this perfectly. As noam-chomsy itterates, "They understood perfectly the expansion of industrial society was at opposition to their way of life." They fought tooth and nail to defend this way of life, too, however, the expansion of capital is a far greater historical force than any one individual man as history has shown.
Industrial society shunted men from their humble existances into a world of mass production for profits at any and all costs (even their own lifes) Young artistans and their puples used to create and manage their own affairs and would allow their pupels to read literature to them as they worked and honed their craft and this is the great divide that contrasts early mercantial capitalism with the industrial revoltuon of capital. The owner now had one singular puprose in mind: The production of commodities, and , intern, the generation of profits at all costs. No longer was any sort of outside influence applicable to the generation of profits. Profits were held above all else and the way of life these people understood was slowly erroed over a peroid over 150 years which eventually lead to the rise of the, then, modern labor movement.
The labor movment of the early and middle 20th century fought very hard to over come the difficulties placed on them by the mechanisms of capitalis and through this collective struggle many great gains were made, but, while it is true that caitalism thinks only in the short term with in its immediant sphere outside of that capitalism acts very nefariously to undermind the gains of the working classes. A was expaned on earlyer the capitalist class has done everything in their power in order to subvert the progression of the working classes
Since the dawn of the 21st century the mechanisms of capital have shifted greately and we have seen this economic brutalism in full swing since at least the 90s. With no ability to collectively fight back, and, no ability to bargin or have any influence on the economy the mechanisms of capitalism have expanded unabbaited. The results of this have been wide spread alienation and poverty for the majority of working people. 56% of of the economy is made up of low industry service jobs; Jobs such as walmart, or, Cotsco, of gas stations, etc etc etc. 56% of jobs in the economy are not only unfulfilling but cannot even afford to pay for all but the most basic of neccesities. Meanwhile, while productivity is at it's highest levels in the history of mankind in the US workers have all be recived little to no benifits for this productivity across the board. Wages have stayed nearly exaclty the same and inflation has only made this worse.
It's also worth pointing out that the more we work the more poor, over all, we become. As Marx was apt to point out: The production of commodities under capitalism are done for the profit motive. After commodities are done and created they do not go to the hands of those who makes them, rather, they go into the hands of the capitalist. This means that the more we create the more poor we become because in relation to what the capitalist owns of the fruits of the working classes labor the less the working class has over all. Couple this with stagnat wages and we literally become more poor the more we work.
The results of this are clear: Not only are people poorer byut their lives have become less meaningful. No longer can people afford to do really anything other than constantly work and to rest leaving little to no time for anything but the most superficial of human interactions. Even mothers have been nearly forced to enter into the labor market in order afford to pay for their neccesities and send their children to school an take care of their families. children, especially in black communities, grow up with little interaction from their parents and run around creating trouble for the other people living in their cities. Cities are influenced by the hand of capital and thus are no interested in created after school programs as this would cut into the buget of development of their motels and casinos and other capitalist scams that make the very few more and more rich while robbing the wealth of the poor. It is robbin hood in reverse.
Clearly constantly working (if one can even find work) makes people not only poorer in their daily lives but it also makes people more depressed. Suicide rates are higher than they have ever been. Drug addictgion has reached catostrophic levels in the country and this is all due to the alienation of this unrestrained system of capitalism. It's a negative feedback loop. Not only does out right poverty make the working class poor in mental health, but, the whoel of capitalist society is predicated upon the consumption of commodities and consumerism. People feel ashamed of themselves that they cnnot afford the finer things in life and build their whole lifes around this concept and when they inevitably fail, forced to go back to the reserve army of labor, or, work, they feel like failures Not only does out right poverty make the working class poor in mental health, but, the whoel of capitalist society is predicated upon the consumption of commodities and consumerism. People feel ashamed of themselves that they cnnot afford the finer things in life and build their whole lifes around this concept and when they inevitably fail, forced to go back to the reserve army of labor, or, work, they feel like failures. This only further exacerbates the issue and, again, plays a role in this negative loop.
It's very obvious that capitalism is a system that drags people around by their hand and guides them into situations that, outside of the influence of profits, they would not have, otherwise, found themselves in. Capitalism is clearly anything but individual/