Pure capitalism is beginning to look really similar to pure feudalism. Renegade sociologist, Holly Wood explores how we’ve passively accepted the private expropriation of public wealth.
Capitalism is very simple. Capitalism as an economic system is essentially defined as the process of private expropriation of public wealth. Technically, the Earth is every creature’s inheritance but we in our late modern wisdom have conceded that only a select handful of people will get to profit from its resources while the rest are forced by either gunpoint or starvation to serve them forever or die.
But of course, ironically, defining capitalism for what it is has you thinking me perfectly barbaric. What, no, you gasp and sputter. Surely, capitalism is the most just and fair distribution system of all time! No one could dream of a better, more equitable, more efficient, more beautiful social machinery than that which is spontaneously engineered by the invisible hand of the free market!
Right, the invisible hand fracking our water supply.
The invisible hand that makes our rivers flammable.
The invisible hand that cooks the ocean.
The invisible hand that is melting Antartica.
The invisible hand that chains teenage girls to sewing machines
The invisible hand that traffics children into sex slavery.
You know, the invisible hand holding humanity down by the throat.
Good stuff that, apparently.
Remember about ten years ago, the government rewarded failed banks trillions of dollars for irreparably fucking up the economy? Remember how virtually no individual responsible for the collapse lost their jobs? In fact, most of them were rewarded with very large bonus checks from their shareholder boards for demonstrating their genius in making the American taxpayer clean up the mess when they all shat the floor.
My god, it was brilliant. Hardly capitalist in the traditional, value-producing sense, but nevertheless masterful in the new capitalist art of shitbag science.
Brava, Goldman Sachs. Brava.
Have you ever stopped to consider that the majority of the wealthiest people don’t actually perform any kind of employment whatsoever? Sure, a few wealthy people run companies and shit, but most don’t. They don’t have to. Being rich means you never have to work. You earn money sitting on the toilet.
The most typical rich person lives on the compounding interest of their forebears’ estates. They don’t manage this estate portfolio themselves, no, dear god, because that would mean working. It would mean researching opportunity horizons and studying futures. Taking investment seriously would mean having to learn shit. While there are many Brahmin sons who live for investment, most of the rich kids I know waste their inheritance flitting from one rehab to the next until they shit out a kid who then wastes their share of the inheritance flitting from one rehab to the next. Rehab migration: the natural lifecycle of the bourgeoisie.
But between stints “recuperating” from doing absolutely fuck all with their lives, these shitbirds outsource their financial obligations to wealth management firms and hedge funds who take their money and make hundreds of little gambles in an effort to make them more money. And with their money so well-taken care of, the rich go back to doing fuck all while earning thousands of dollars a day in passive investment income for absolutely no godly reason.
And because the wealthy truly do not give a fuck about what these wealth managers do with their piles of money so long as those piles get appreciably bigger over time, these wealth managers in turn simply invest in shit they know will keep making money. Like deforestation. And pipelines. Or Israeli bullets that will scream through Palestinian children. Whatever sells. It’s not exactly hard to make money if you’re willing to invest in the strangling of the planet.
All this so Shitbird Jr. can Snapchat his first nervous breakdown on a yacht anchored in Ibiza.
Innovation is a distraction. Don’t kid yourself thinking our GDP grows because smart inventors are getting rich off good ideas. No. Most money is still made the old-fashioned way — through sheer violence.
Rich people force poor people to work for them for wages. The poor do not get to negotiate these wages. Wages are what the market dictates is a fair price for one hour of their labor. Though a cashier at McDonald’s handles easily hundreds of dollars in an hour, she will be paid $7.25 an hour regardless of what her employer earns from her labor and they will insist this is fair. She may hate her job and cry every night on her mother’s pullout couch wishing she could find a better, higher-paying job, but all of this suffering is her choice, obviously.
Oh, that’s right — a lot of people think that if you’re not being coerced to work by top-heavy goons by gunpoint, you’re somehow not being coerced to work. They like to spin these weird pretzels of logic where those without money or resources are actually free to live in a world where the rich have now privatized the commons and kicked out the ladder. When confronted with the reality that single moms work because if they don’t their kids are taken away, they shrug and insist those moms shouldn’t have had kids. When confronted with the bleak dilemma that many millions of chronically ill people face staying in horrible jobs every day to keep their health insurance, they shrug and insist it’s their own fault for getting sick in a country where medical care is prohibitively expensive. So on and so forth.
Capitalist shitbag science means the rationalizations for injustice never end. No, unless you’re literally being held down by gunpoint, none of this will ever qualify as coercion. They always win because you’re always free to choose something else — apparently.
Before Capitalism, what is now the United States was just a sandbox of tribes living off little more than the fish, nuts and berries they found in the woods for thousands of years. Where I live now in Northeast Pennsylvania, the Delaware tribe lived long, healthy lives primarily eating the same kind of deer that today live to fuck up my garden.
Now Capitalism has my neighbors spending most of their days driving to a job that I know pays them less than they need to feed their kids. But surely this isn’t coercion. They are free to work. And, of course, their kids are free to starve.
For reasons that lay beyond my comprehension, we call this situation progress because whatever this shitbaggery is, it more closely approximates “pure capitalism” than what the Delaware were doing.
That the deer are more free than my neighbors taunts me.
So in sum, Capitalists believe that civilization is an asymptotic function where humanity is approaching but will never reach capitalist perfection. They insist that any economic system occurring before ours must be bad since ours more obviously approximates the yet unmet capitalist ideal. They insist that because we have never achieved “pure capitalism,” the problems of modern society can and will be solved by further freeing regulated markets.
This is shitbag science. This is the argument that because we have never quite achieved perfect capitalism, none of the consequences of contemporary capitalism are problems we should solve. Instead, we should think of society as on the mend, improving as we approach greater, purer capitalism.
But the true capitalist ideal isn’t an ideal you would really want. The endgame of capitalism would be the massive expropriation of the world’s resources into the hands of a few obscenely wealthy people, leaving the vast, vast majority of Earth’s denizens propertyless and without access to the necessities for life. There would be constant violence as those at the bottom drown each other, gulping for air. We’d be seeing armed security employed in the sad work of mowing down the dispossessed. Children would be selling themselves on the street for bread and shelter. Grandparents would be swallowing the last of their pills to spare their children the extra mouth to feed.
But of course none of that is happening now because we have yet to reach “pure capitalism.”
Can’t wait to see what that looks like.
Her guiding thought in life has always been: "He who is nice to you but is rude to the waiter is not a nice person."