I find it difficult to listen to those who are the “news” people on television, even those who supposedly reflect the more “liberal” perspective, the folk who “report” for MSNBC, for instance. I believe this is because I am experiencing a most visceral revulsion for what pretends to be liberalism but is really about something impossible, benign capitalism. Capitalism, of the kind that is the capitalism the world has experience over several hundred years now, is, for its basic mechanics, pernicious, inhumane, and lethal. Yes, communists have killed in the millions. The beneficiaries (and even many who are its victims) of capitalism regularly point to the brutality of communist regimes, always to the brutality and hardly ever to the goals and the good good numbers of human beings have experienced as a result of communist policies–food in bellies, roofs over heads, medical care for the many–such coming at a price, no doubt, the most insufferable cost in degrees of freedom of the sort that we who like democracy believe to be essential to living life decently.
But, then, those freedoms are not readily available to all–perhaps most–who live in countries that profess to be democratic while doing more to serve capitalism than individual freedoms. There are good numbers of people in constitutionally democratic societies dominated by capitalism who do not have access to the freedoms the constitutions afford them, the right to an equal voice in the discourse that leads to the decisions that shape people’s lives in those societies, for instance. Good numbers of people in those societies do not have access to proper medical treatment, healthy food, and decent housing. They are not afforded fair and just treatment under justice systems that favor the rich over those of modest means and, particularly the poor. It costs a lot to be well represented in the courtroom and those who have get whether they deserve it or not.
Underlying all of the injustices found in modern day capitalist “democracies” is the kind of voice in government that comes with education that works to develop individuals ability to make sensible decisions, to understand the system well enough to affect it in meaningful ways, to have enough political power to influence the way in which government and law work. Those who do not have much are at terrible disadvantage in these societies that proclaim liberty and justice for all.
For hundreds of years now, the capitalist forces in the United States of America have had their way with the people, capitalists and their allies doing what was necessary to insure that those who had would continue to have and always at a high cost those who had less and little. The people’s government became the government of the haves and the haves used that government to insure their would be enough of the population with so little as to believe never having enough was their lot in life. At this present moment in the history of the United States of America and other capitalist nations that shared a pretense for democracy, the force of capitalism for capitalists and their allies is not enough to get enough even when they possess most of everything including wealth and political power because, now, political power is something purchased and not at all a right of those living in these “democracies.”
The “news” people of whom I spoke at the top of this piece, they do not work for the people, for the general population. They are paid large sums of money by companies owned by shareholders and, as with all companies, it is the shareholders who must be satisfied if the company is to remain viable and retain its ability to pay its employees the salaries to which they have become accustomed. Indeed, as they are entrusted with helping the public understand what is going on in the world, that trust is violated when these people are beholden to masters whose goal is make money for a particular group of others and not the whole of the people.
So, though it might upset a good many people, amongst them a good many of the screwed-over by capitalism and capitalist, to read an article that begins by talking about the theory of Karl Marx and his predictions for the inevitable end of capitalism, it is worthwhile to make the effort to look at the current state of this nation and the world in which it exists, through the lens that Marx provided, not so that one can become a communist necessarily, but so that he or she can begin to realize–admit to–the travesty that modern day democracy has become under capitalist regimes, so that thinking about different paths to meaningful prosperity can be taken, paths to societies that work to advance the quality of life of all human beings and not just a few at the expense of the many.
Chris Hedges for Truthdig, January 1. 2017.
“The president-elect represents the late stage of capitalism, when corporations, no longer able to generate profits at former levels, pillage the government and society for profit.
“The final stages of capitalism, Karl Marx predicted, would be marked by global capital being unable to expand and generate profits at former levels. Capitalists would begin to consume the government along with the physical and social structures that sustained them. Democracy, social welfare, electoral participation, the common good and investment in public transportation, roads, bridges, utilities, industry, education, ecosystem protection and health care would be sacrificed to feed the mania for short-term profit. These assaults would destroy the host. This is the stage of late capitalism that Donald Trump represents.”