What most “progressives” still haven’t understood is that capitalism is the root of our problems, and it can’t be reformed; it must be replaced altogether.
Progressives continue to believe that the problems are superficial, and can be cleaned up by reforms, resulting in a “kinder, gentler capitalism.” They’re mistaken, but the simple analysis they need can’t be found in the corporate news media. Sorry, folks, but inequality, externalities, and alienation are terrible evils inherent in every version of capitalism.
INEQUALITY is enormous in our society, and that didn’t happen by accident, nor did it happen solely by cheating (though certainly the cheating is massive). Markets naturally increase inequality, because trade favors whichever trader was already in the stronger bargaining position. (For instance, migrant farm-workers are not made rich by trading their labor for a meal.) Thus wealth is concentrated in a few, 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. Thus the market’s “opportunity for all” is a lie.
EXTERNALITIES are the unmeasured side effects of every market transaction. They are not paid for by the buyer or the seller; they are paid for by everyone else. They include war, poverty, and ecocide. They are enormous. No corporation today would be profitable if it had to pay for its externalized costs. If ecocide continues, it will kill us all, and thus end the economy. Thus the so-called “efficiency of the market” is a lie.
ALIENATION: The market makes us all rivals, and hard times instill fear. We see homeless beggars on street corners and know our own lives to be precarious. All this kills empathy, leaving us ripe for sexism, racism, austerity, imperialism, and other kinds of bullying. Behind every evil in the world is someone “getting ahead,” in a society based on not caring, not sharing, not being equal. It’s hardly surprising that every week some lonely man shoots up a school.
Aside from capitalism, the other root problem is hierarchy, which also concentrates power. We need to replace capitalism with sharing, and replace hierarchy with horizontalism.
If we jail the plutocrats, but we don’t change the culture that generated them, it will quickly generate a new batch. We need the right kind of revolution; that will only happen when the 99% see what is really going on. Tell people.
2019 May 6, version 1.01.
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