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Gibson writes: "Under the capitalist system, the majority of life for today's average American before retirement is spent pursuing profits that will never be shared with them."

Anti-capitalist march in New York City. (photo: Workers Vanguard)
Anti-capitalist march in New York City. (photo: Workers Vanguard)


Let's Make Capitalism a Dirty Word

By Carl Gibson, Reader Supported News

05 March 14

 

"Americans have literally becomes slaves to capitalism."

mmediately upon entering adulthood, Americans are forced to compete for increasingly-scarce employment. The purpose of most employment isn't to create value for society or future generations, but to create profits for a scant few executives and shareholders. In order to be competitive enough to gain employment, Americans are expected to take on so much debt for a higher education that most of the income gained in their adult years will be spent paying off that debt.

In return for all their hard work, Americans who aren't executives or shareholders are paid just enough to meet basic needs like food, clothing, and shelter. Under the capitalist system, the majority of life for today's average American before retirement is spent pursuing profits that will never be shared with them. And because capitalists like Pete Peterson and the Koch Brothers are so determined to weaken Social Security in the pursuit of ever-increasing profits, even retirement is unstable.

As a system predicated on the need to grow endlessly and never stagnate, capitalism is doomed to fail. I've written previously on this site about how capitalism is currently in its endgame, similar to the endgame of Monopoly, where one player has accumulated nearly all of the property and money, and all the other players are afraid to make any moves at all, lest they land on the wrong square and are destroyed by debt.

Capitalism is succeeding exactly like it's supposed to – all the resources and wealth are concentrating into fewer and fewer hands and corporate profits are hitting record highs every quarter. The Dow Jones and S&P 500 are doing better than they've ever done in decades. Worker productivity and Gross Domestic Product has increased at a rapid pace, yet wages are stagnant.

As a direct result of the rise of corporate dominance of government, the profit motive has become the primary motive of operation not just for private businesses, but for government institutions. One example is the Department of Education booking $41.3 billion in profits off of student loans, even though the student loan bubble has surpassed the $1 trillion mark.

Groups like the American Legislative Exchange Council allow capitalists to write laws behind closed doors, then wine and dine state lawmakers to pass those laws in exchange for future campaign contributions from capitalists. Election laws are now set up to benefit capitalists who can anonymously donate millions of dollars to a Super PAC and dominate public airwaves with false advertising, while grassroots candidates without millions on their side are shut out of the public conversation.

Capitalists like General Electric, Citigroup and Monsanto can write legislation with members of Congress that stacks the deck in their favor while overseeing that legislation's passage. Capitalists who own mercenary companies can get paid billions of dollars in defense contracts while pay and benefits for veterans are cut from the budget.

Capitalists like the Koch Brothers can escape accountability through foreign subsidiaries despite violating U.S trade laws, and banks like JPMorgan Chase can escape jail time despite frauding millions of homeowners. But homeless people like Gregory Taylor are sentenced to 25 years in jail for stealing bread.

During the Cold War era, if people didn't openly embrace capitalism, they ran the risk of being called a Communist sympathizer and intimidated out of their job. But the tables are turning on capitalism as more and more people become aware of the consequences of capitalism.

In November of 2011, during the height of the Occupy Wall Street movement, conservative messaging specialist Frank Luntz had a meeting with the Republican Governors' Association to teach them how to address the growing populist energy sweeping the country.

"I'm so scared of this anti-Wall Street effort. I'm frightened to death," Luntz said. "They're having an impact on what the American people think of capitalism."

Luntz's first suggestion to the Republican governors was to stop saying the word "capitalism," as it was believed by many in the country to be "immoral," according to Luntz.

"The Occupy movement was seen as a failure because it focused too heavily on critiquing capitalism rather than uniting around a proposed alternative to capitalism or creating viable solutions. But ironically, the nationally-coordinated crackdown on the Occupy movement was one of the best things to happen to the movement -- it dispersed thousands of newly-trained radical organizers from city parks into cities."

Fast food worker strikes have been organized in over 100 cities. Occupy Wall Street's "Strike Debt" project abolished $14.7 million in distressed medical debt and outpaced FEMA in disaster relief during Hurricane Sandy. The Occupy movement has gone from occupying city parks to building homes for the homeless, occupying foreclosed homes, and occupying city halls – not as protesters, but as elected officials. Rather than merely critiquing capitalism, the movement is actively contradicting and creating alternatives to it.

What will come after capitalism is uncertain. But what is certain is that there is more than enough wealth in the world to provide basic needs like food, clothing, and shelter to all people. A United Nations study estimated that to end global poverty, provide basic healthcare and education, combat diseases like HIV and malaria, create environmental stability, improve maternal health, address the gap in gender equality and reduce child mortality, developed nations would have to contribute just 0.7 percent of their gross national income over a ten-year period. For the United States, that would cost just $90 billion per year. That amounts to just 8.7 percent of our current military budget.

Despite such an obvious and easy solution, we all know we currently don't have the political leadership to accomplish this, and likely won't anytime soon if we depend solely on the Democratic and Republican parties. A new, populist, explicitly anti-capitalist party must emerge and start organizing at the grassroots level to build power over time. And this new political party must be led by and represent the young, the unemployed, underemployed and misemployed, people of color, people in debt, and everyone else who has been victimized by capitalism.

Capitalism is dead. Long live its replacement.



Carl Gibson, 26, is co-founder of US Uncut, a nationwide creative direct-action movement that mobilized tens of thousands of activists against corporate tax avoidance and budget cuts in the months leading up to the Occupy Wall Street movement. Carl and other US Uncut activists are featured in the documentary "We're Not Broke," which premiered at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival. He currently lives in Madison, Wisconsin. You can contact him at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it , and follow him on twitter at @uncutCG.

Reader Supported News is the Publication of Origin for this work. Permission to republish is freely granted with credit and a link back to Reader Supported News.

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-1 # arlenhersh@yahoo.com 2014-03-05 10:16
Agreed, although we are all capitalists, at some level. Capitalism is not dead, but it is also not sustainable. The disconnect is between the philosophic and the real. The 90 billion/year doesn't sound like much, who would disperse it? We've already paid billions in "foreign aid" and most of it is stolen by corrupt leaders or overtaken by military adventures.

The replacement, I suspect, is anarchy ... probably an inevitable link in the transition to "it's replacement" .. whatever that is
 
 
+19 # witchyny 2014-03-05 14:54
Capitalism IS dead, the Rich just don't realize it yet.
It is not in the dreams of the young people, their dreams are not in endless useless riches but in an Environment and We the People system...of earth and economic justice.
Great article. About time!
Let's get real, let's get serious, let's start talking -REVOLUTION NOW!
 
 
+5 # Glen 2014-03-05 15:19
Are you certain about the dreams of young people, witchyny? Young people of the past had many ideals, also, but lost those ideals to capitalism.

Young people jump onboard many causes, but then realize they must make a living and should they have children, the pressure is truly on to do more than save the environment. A lot of us are seriously concerned about the environment and would do a lot to save it, but we are restricted by the need to survive.

As for revolution, what type are you supporting and encouraging?
 
 
+10 # witchyny 2014-03-05 17:38
Well, I know the dreams of my children are for the Environment First. Do you know many young people today?
Did you lose your dreams to Capitalism?
I am sorry. I never did.

If we don't save the Environment, and soon, there will be no survival left to dream, for anyone, ever.

Try online search Socialist Alternative.
This is the organization of the Socialist woman, Sawant, who recently
won a seat on the Seattle City Council with One Hundred Thousand votes.
Change is coming.
 
 
+3 # Glen 2014-03-05 18:36
I was a teacher and spent many years in college, myself.

The value of the environment is beyond comment and I have worried over that and the atmosphere for three decades.

Are your children prepared to live in a bartering society? Will they make a living off the land solely? What is the alternative to capitalism that is realistic in the U.S. I am not an advocate of capitalism. Not at all. But we must live in a realistic scene.

What is your suggestion for realistic living and thriving today? I admit to being a bit cynical, but one person in a seat on the Seattle Council will not eliminate the entire system in the U.S., which is corrupt and heavily controlled by total capitalists.
 
 
+7 # witchyny 2014-03-05 20:04
We barter now. Goat milk and cheese, bread, eggs, vegetables,hone y, rides to town, water well repair work, car repairs,firewoo d....we live in a rural area.
Everyone can do something to trade.

But One Hundred Thousand Votes IS a big deal. It shows the potential is there.
Check out the site. Check out the list of goals under About SA.
I am not saying this is the only answer.
I am saying this is a good start.
 
 
+1 # Glen 2014-03-06 11:06
I'm certain I came off as too cynical, without meaning to. We live in a rural area, also, but bartering would not pay for electricity, most foods, car parts, gas, and so much more, even with folks cooperating with each other and trading.

I did not lose my dreams to capitalism, I am living my dreams, but that requires living on the periphery.

The majority of people live in urban areas and would be hard pressed to barter and such. Certainly there are some who could do that, but working full time and commuting eliminates much that could be contributed.

There is potential, yes, but the odds are against it, within the present U.S. system.
 
 
+11 # thedoc 2014-03-05 18:07
Unless the environment is surviving, then ultimately nobody is surviving. It's that stark. Better start saving the environment.
 
 
-1 # laurele 2014-03-13 14:20
Please stop perpetuating stereotypes. Many young people NEVER lose their ideals to capitalism. They just have to make a lifetime commitment to their ideals and make those ideals something never compromised. I graduate high school in the 1980s, and I am as idealistic as I was then, if not more so.
 
 
+40 # DaveM 2014-03-05 10:19
American "capitalism" is not capitalism. The ugliest "capitalist" concerns in the United States are, without exception, granted subsidies, tax breaks (or make use of loopholes, government contracts, and any number of other handouts at the public trough.
 
 
+18 # jlohman 2014-03-05 11:43
American "capitalism" is really crony-capitalis m. Corruption, from the highest levels. Congressmen who are industry whores, but pretend to be for the 99%$. ONLY a 100% turnover in November will fix it. Otherwise expect an armed rebellion or military takeover. The Feds are doing their best to gobble up the guns, but thank God for political corruption and campaign bribes.
 
 
+17 # dkonstruction 2014-03-05 12:18
Quoting jlohman:
American "capitalism" is really crony-capitalism. Corruption, from the highest levels. Congressmen who are industry whores, but pretend to be for the 99%$. ONLY a 100% turnover in November will fix it. Otherwise expect an armed rebellion or military takeover. The Feds are doing their best to gobble up the guns, but thank God for political corruption and campaign bribes.


"Crony Capitalism" is redundant. When has capitalism not been "crony"?
 
 
+4 # RLF 2014-03-06 06:03
100% turnover to more of the same is useless. We need real alternatives running for office...not more demopublicans.
 
 
+21 # maddave 2014-03-05 11:49
Agreed!
But the basic truth is that "Capitalism" is already a dirty word, particularly the predatory capitalism presently in vogue worldwide.
What we are witnessing here is a seemingly inexorable growth of domestic fascism - i.e., the "merger of corporate and state powers". (B. Mussolini, circa 1936)
 
 
+13 # dkonstruction 2014-03-05 12:18
Quoting DaveM:
American "capitalism" is not capitalism. The ugliest "capitalist" concerns in the United States are, without exception, granted subsidies, tax breaks (or make use of loopholes, government contracts, and any number of other handouts at the public trough.


When has capitalism functioned in any other way? Capitalism began by throwing the peasants of the land and then "enclosing" it so that people could not be self-sufficient without become wage-laborers.

The first industries in the US (e.g., the railroads) only developed because of state i.e., gov't intervention and subsidy (free or cheap land and tax breaks). This has always been the way that capitalism has worked not just here in the US but across the globe. American Capitalism is very much capitalism.
 
 
+54 # Buddha 2014-03-05 10:39
Um...no. It isn't capitalism itself that is bad, it is how it is done in far too many countries, especially America, a corpo-corrupted capitalism where wealth buys political power to ensure even further inequitable distribution of resources and disparities in wealth. The problem isn't the core concept of capitalism, the idea of risking capital to create a business that is owned by those who risk that capital for the purpose of return on investment of that capital. What needs to "come after" is a form of capitalism with its goal more focused on the enrichment of the PUBLIC.

For example, let's compare Norway with America. Both have vast natural resources. In Norway, however, they see those resources as owned by the PUBLIC, and they have a publicly owned Sovereign Wealth Fund that owns the business which exploit those resources. If that SWF were to be liquidated today, every man woman and child in Norway would be a multi-millionai re. But here in America, our corrupted government auctions off our natural resources for pennies on the dollar to private corporations for the sole enrichment of that corporation's shareholders. Both countries still allow private property, ownership of businesses, capitalism. We need to start thinking along these lines, rebuild our nation with infrastructure done by publicly owned businesses, for example.
 
 
+15 # maddave 2014-03-05 11:51
Well said, Buddah.
 
 
+12 # dkonstruction 2014-03-05 12:23
Quoting Buddha:


The welfare state as it exists in Europe is under massive attack including in places like Norway and Sweden. The post world war II "boom" and welfare state benefits were the exception not the rule and they were won only by people fighting for them but capital always has ways to and does fight back. the new mechanism is "globalization" and using capital's mobility to bring countries to their knees and reverse policies by making them say that they now must be "competitive." In Sweden there is much talk now about how they have to become more like the US to "compete" and many in Sweden think their welfare state (gains) will be completely gone in 10 years.

In the long run and over the long term there is no "kinder" "gentler" capitalism.
 
 
+2 # RLF 2014-03-06 06:10
I have notice that trends from the US grab onto European countries but in a delayed manner. Your point of the dismantlement of social programs and progressiveness in Europe have been caused in large degree by financial restrictions placed by the EU and the Germans. I see things swinging the other way a bit now because of the economic problems and the EU's fascist austerity programs.
 
 
+15 # lorenbliss 2014-03-05 14:15
All defenders of capitalism are either deluded or dishonest. Precisely as defined by its messiah Ayn Rand, capitalism is infinite greed elevated to maximum virtue -- the rejection, with malice aforethought, of every humanitarian precept our species has ever articulated. It is therefore, as proven by its anti-humanitari an and anti-environmen tal depredations, the closest approximation to absolute evil yet manifest on Earth.

This is obvious when capitalism's ethos becomes the ruling philosophy of a nation, as it did in Mussolini's Italy, Hitler's Germany, Franco's Spain, Pinochet's Chile or Wall Street's United States. In all of these nations, the result was the same -- the imposition of capitalist governance: absolute power and unlimited profit for the Ruling Class, total subjugation for everyone else – precisely the conditions earlier generations knew as fascism.

History proves capitalism's momentum is always toward ever-more-vicio us tyranny. Marx and Engels noted this truth years before the term “fascism” existed. Since then, the capitalists have imposed a technologically omnipotent global empire. Its savagery makes it ever more obvious the only sustainable alternative is global socialism. With Marxism as a starting point, we may yet evolve a democratic, environmentally centered socialism adequate to achieve our humanitarian potential. But without class solidarity and ideological discipline, we are doomed.
 
 
-5 # Mannstein 2014-03-05 16:51
Nonsense. When Hitler came to power the obscene profits of capitalists were curtailed by force of law. During the Weimar Republic mal nutrition in Germany was rampant, mass unemployment the order of the day, and the middle class wiped out because of hyper inflation. Women found it necessary to sell themselves to feed their kids.
 
 
+18 # lorenbliss 2014-03-05 17:44
No, it's your claim of curtailed profits that's nonsense.

The Nazi Party and Hitler's rise to power was financed by capitalists, many of them in the United States. What was curtailed were the rights of the working class. Unions were outlawed and union leaders were arrested. All real socialism was also outlawed, typically on pain of death. For a basic primer on the German form of fascism, start with Shirer's "Rise and Fall of the Third Reich," then go from there.

As to the economic realities of the Weimar Republic -- "mass unemployment... hyperinflation. ..women (selling) themselves to feed their kids" -- that much of your assertion is true. But those conditions were an early manifestation of capitalist shock-doctrine, imposed by the Treaty of Versailles specifically to destroy the progressive German parties (Communists, other real socialists), and thereby clear the way for the emergence of a fascist state. The Big Lie "socialism" of the NSDAP -- the “National Socialist German Workers Party” -- was no more worker-empoweri ng than a concentration camp and no more socialist than the USian Tea Party.

But the ignorance and confusion the capitalists (deliberately) created by the “National Socialist” name persists to this day, especially in the historically illiterate U.S., where socialism and fascism are moronically believed to be ideological kindred rather than the antitheticals they truly are.
 
 
+2 # ladypyrates 2014-03-05 22:04
Nice comment Buddha. It would be lovely if people commenting on capitalism on this site at least sounded as if they knew the "grammar of the subject" rather than just mouthing the nonsensical drivel put forth by professors and pundits for the last 75 years. The arrogance and ignorance displayed here by those wielding a "meat axe" approach to this essential topic is rather discouraging... but hardly a surprise. If one would presume to sound like an expert, they must begin by reading the economic ideas of Ben Franklin. They should at least be familiar with the concept of "shared prosperity" and of the term "the people's capitalism" as advanced by Jefferson. In fairly recent times, one can glimpse a working model of the true American system by reading Carl Wilken or Charles Walters. For the truly studious, there is an essential piece of the American system to be found in the "War Stabilization Act of 1942". No discussion of our economic system would be complete without pointing out the continuous attacks on and mutilation of that system by the European oligarchs. Because of the broadspread prosperity that the American system would engender, the ruling class opined in an editorial in the London Times "...that government(US)m ust be destroyed." The only thing dead here is the thinking of those who publish without seriously researching the history of the country and those who speak without any knowledge of the subject.
 
 
+7 # lorenbliss 2014-03-06 00:06
Interesting how class war manifests even here on this website: the obvious division between those (few) who have profited via capitalism and therefore defend it, versus the masses, we the now-permanently impoverished proletarians and peasants who are capitalism's victims and angrily seek its replacement.

I suspect most of us worked hard all our lives (as I surely did), but thanks to mergers, corporate bankruptcies, recessions, downsizing, outsourcing, automation and other atrocities unique to capitalism, we face old age, or are already there, with nothing to sustain us but a meager Social Security pension. Now the One Percent and their Democrat/Republ ican allies want to steal that from us too. Such is capitalism as we know it.

Those who jeer our “arrogance and ignorance” reveal in their haughty dismissal of our grievances those same qualities – qualities that defined the aristocracies of France and Russia before they were swept away by tsunamis of history called revolutions.

Apropos “nonsensical drivel,” that is a superb description of the lies and disinformation about the alleged superiority of capitalism most of us in the USian Homeland are force-fed from birth onward but are now at last transcending.

As to blaming capitalist evil on “how it is done” rather than its core precepts, that is like claiming the Holocaust was not due to fascism. The analogy is apt because fascism is the fulfillment of the capitalist ethos.
 
 
+8 # indian weaver 2014-03-05 10:55
Capitalism is simply the political manifestation of greed and arrogance. When Native Peoples respected our Great Mother and knew enough not to rape her due to personal greed, those were the cultures of compassion and social equality. Any sustainable culture must respect our Great Mother and not rape her, at all. Native Peoples always knew, and still know that, hence their predicated cultures of grace. We can never go back. We've all lived lives of greed and arrogance if we are not Native Peoples. The right way of life is over and done, same for all living things, all inanimate things poisoned beyond recognition due to our raping our Great Mother. In fact, it is over and done. We have created hell on Earth and we will kill and destroy everything, including our Great Mother. Socialistic societies in this technology age are more human but they too now depend on rape for survival. Too many people, too much greed, too little resources within our Great Mother to sustain us any longer than several more decades, maybe a century. And the remaining time is now and will be characterized by horror, tragedy and poisons.
 
 
+5 # bmiluski 2014-03-05 12:54
Excuse me but there was nothing compassionate about capture, kidnapping and enslaving people from other tribes. There was also nothing equal about the second place of women in the Native American culture.
As for killing our Great Mother. Have you so little faith in her power. She will survive, long after we have exterminated outselves.
 
 
+6 # indian weaver 2014-03-05 13:00
Excuse me but there is nothing compassionate about capture, kidnapping an enslaving people from other countries - to wit: amerika. Women were in first place and still are among the Hopi and other Puebloan tribes. Internecine warfare is always the case among all animals, including humans. The societies of Native Peoples were far advanced from ours in their social structures and protection of women and children. I know. Been with Tibetans and Navajos my entire life. Have you ever lived or worked with any native peoples, instead of making up lies and fiction about them? Yes, our Great Mother may survive in some form. But rainbows, snow, moon beams, all will be destroyed because of the haze of poison encircling our great mother from the poisons we are producing. It may take millions of years for our Great Mother to make any recovery in any sense to the beauty of her present state. And oh yes, both Tibetan and Navajo cultures are matrilineal - that means the women hold the wealth and power, and pass on their clan names to children, not the men. Other Native cultures are also matrilineal, thank goodness. Hence the kindness and compassion for which these cultures are so famous.
 
 
+4 # bmiluski 2014-03-05 14:32
No, there is nothing compassionate aboute capture, kidnapping and enslaving people from other countries - to wit:amerika.... ..But we weren't talking about amerika. We were talking about the Native American culture (which you brought up). Since each nation/tribe had its own culture and rites it is disengenous to paint all Native Americans with the same broad brush. Women had different degrees of autonomy in each culture. Again to characterize any of the tribes as kind and compassionate is just false. When it came to torture, women were said to have been far more feared than Native American men. I would never characterize the Native Americans as being kind and compassionate to "Mother". I would, however, have to say that they had great respect for her. Because they knew if they didn't respect her, she would punish them.
 
 
+3 # thedoc 2014-03-05 18:17
How do you know She (Nature) will survive? Do you know something the rest of us don't. How many species are already extinct? How many wild seeds are left uncontaminated by genetically modified DNA? No uncontaminated (genetically) wild wheat left in Turkey, the home of wild wheat. Such uninformed optimism is dangerous because it leads to complacency. Mother Nature is dying as we speak. By the way there is a famine situation in the ocean which is why sharks are beginning to attack humans in Australia.
 
 
-1 # arquebus 2014-03-05 15:09
The Native peoples were not so respectful of nature. There are places in the Great Plains where they are piles of buffalo bones where the Indians ran whole herds of buffalo over cliffs. Eastern Indians....more agricultural... engaged in slash and burn agriculture to produce crops...just about the most destructive way of farming there is.
 
 
+6 # jsluka 2014-03-06 02:54
Sorry arguebus, you are incorrect; there is no evidence that the occasional driving of buffalo over cliffs had any impact on the species whatsoever. The evidence shows that the plains indians were killing buffalo "sustainably." The question is not about respect - its about the impact on nature and the quality of the relationship between people and the environment. Native peoples were not perfect, but compared to us, they were very nearly so when it came to sustainable economic practices. That's why their societies are usually thousands of years old, unlike our short-term Capitalist society, which is only about 250 years old.
 
 
+27 # reiverpacific 2014-03-05 11:01
Well, to many of us Capitalism has always been a dirty word since we reached the age of reason and were fortunate enough to be of a mind to seek alternatives, hook up with left-leaning mentors and movements -often as part of the many anti-war groups- and see beyond the shallow, imperialist, patriotic, conformist rhetoric we had inculcated into us from youth -especially the corny myth that "Capitalism = freedom".
I first came to the US at a time (the 1970's) when a strong flavor of the 60's was still palpable, and felt immediately that there was much hope here and a sense of anything being possible -then along came ol' Ronnie R' and his phalanx of thugs who re-established an Evil empire with Thatcher in the UK and it's been downhill for the grassroots ever since, especially the working classes who actually made stuff and the environment -and a steep uphill escalator for the entrenched wealth few ever since, sadly, many of the middle and working classes going along with Mr "Aw shucks'" bad acting, who told them that he's been poor once but anybody could make it in America, whilst working to re-establish the opposite.
I describe myself as a "Small business Socialist" to anybody who will listen but most Americans just don't get it. They can't separate the concept of making a decent living or small profit from one's own independent creativity or enterprise from the inherent exploitative top-heavy, trickle-down, anti-social and ultimately unbalanced nature of true Capitalism.
 
 
+15 # Sweet Pea 2014-03-05 11:15
Capitalism succeded when those who had the big money invested it in industry here in the U.S.A. Now the wealthy invest in foreign industry with poverty wages and little-if-any labor protections. Then they stow their profits in off-shore bank accounts while the working class gets smaller and smaller. The working class has slept through breakfast and lunch. If we sleep through dinner we are "all" going to be mighty hungry.
 
 
+15 # dkonstruction 2014-03-05 12:26
Quoting Sweet Pea:
Capitalism succeded when those who had the big money invested it in industry here in the U.S.A. Now the wealthy invest in foreign industry with poverty wages and little-if-any labor protections. Then they stow their profits in off-shore bank accounts while the working class gets smaller and smaller. The working class has slept through breakfast and lunch. If we sleep through dinner we are "all" going to be mighty hungry.


The only reason "big money" invested in the US was because capital was not yet truly mobile (i.e., global) and becuase there were social movements that scared the shit out of "big money" such that the "enlightened" wing of capital (think FDR's New Deal) believed that if they didn't "make a deal" with the working class (or at least it's organized "representative " i.e., organized labor) that it could lose everything. But as soon as that deal was no longer needed (as of the early 1970s in the US) capital returned to it's "normal" modus operandi which is to screw and squeeze as much out of those at the bottom as it can.
 
 
+13 # rlandingham 2014-03-05 11:35
We will never make progress as long as people think that capitalism can be whatever they want it to be. So, one says capitalism doesn't exist, one says it just a manifestation of greed, one says that a capitalist is a corporation, or that capitalism and corporations are the same thing.
What capitalism is has been defined by those who actually studied capitalist society to understand the relationship and mechanisms of which it is composed. The most important of those economists were, Adam Smith who was the first, because capitalism had developed sufficiently, to be able to study and write about the early, more-or-less competitive phase of capitalism. Then came Ricardo who could begin discerning the oligopolistic or monopolist phase of capitalist development. Then of course cam Mark who was able to provide the greatest understanding of capitalism as a system, where it came from and where it was going. But the understanding was still incomplete and had to wait for Lenin's work "Imperialism" to finish the job. Since that time, economics has been about disguising the nature of capitalism in order to protect it from the population.
So you can say that capitalism is whatever you personally wish it to be, but that is nonsense and will not help us make the real changes that can result in a decent society for the majority and not just for the few.
 
 
+6 # shgo 2014-03-05 11:37
bravo - long overdue statement. read Capitalism Papers, which shows that it can never work for the vast majority of us as its first allegiance is to its shareholder owners of corporations. There is another way!
 
 
+13 # maddave 2014-03-05 13:44
I disagree. As it now works, the first obligation is no longer to the shareholders - it is to the Boards of Directors, CEO. etc. themselves, whose egos manipulate the corporations for their own purposes, most obviously for their obscene personal compensations.
If truth be known, it is likely that - in 2014, as in the year 1928 - the "average" Board member sits on two or more boards, thus creating an economically dangerous, incestuous situation in which "they" win and the rest of us - including stockholders -lose.
 
 
+7 # dkonstruction 2014-03-05 14:52
Quoting maddave:
I disagree. As it now works, the first obligation is no longer to the shareholders - it is to the Boards of Directors, CEO. etc. themselves, whose egos manipulate the corporations for their own purposes, most obviously for their obscene personal compensations.
If truth be known, it is likely that - in 2014, as in the year 1928 - the "average" Board member sits on two or more boards, thus creating an economically dangerous, incestuous situation in which "they" win and the rest of us - including stockholders -lose.


The vast majority of the planet own no shares in anything so even if corporation's were responsible to their shareholders this would not change in any way the basic nature of capitalism i.e., that it is a system based on the exploitation of the vast majority for the benefit of the few.
 
 
+3 # reiverpacific 2014-03-05 14:52
Quoting shgo:
bravo - long overdue statement. read Capitalism Papers, which shows that it can never work for the vast majority of us as its first allegiance is to its shareholder owners of corporations. There is another way!


Also "Capitalism Hits the fan" by Dr Richard Wolff -the people's economist.
 
 
+7 # rlandingham 2014-03-05 11:44
Well I should have added one other economist that was not attempting to disguise capitalism but was attempting to help it get out of the Great Depression, and that was Keynes. He was able to point the way, because he actually understood its nature.
 
 
+13 # dkonstruction 2014-03-05 12:08
Capitalism has been a "dirty word" since it's birth. It is not just the "American version" or the latest version or however people are putting it. To suggest this is to mythologize, romanticize and long for a return to a capitalism that never was and never can be.

Capitalism was "born" based on the expropriation of land, the colonization of native people's, slavery (and more specifically the development of racial slavery), and new forms of oppressing women (starting with the burning of witches in the late middle ages, criminalization of abortion, etc).

It is a system based on wage-slavery (and thus the expropriation of the land e.g., the enclosure in England were needed as well as other mechanisms to ensure that people could not be self-sufficient and live off of "the commons" and live communally in general in order to force people to become wage-laborers.

There was never (and still isn't) anything "progressive" about capitalism (one of the things i think Marx got wrong in that as much as he hated capitalism he saw it as "progress" over what came before).

Those who point to the "kinder" "gentler" forms of capitalism e.g., Sweden or Norway etc., fail to understand that in the long run of capitalist development these were short-term exceptions and not "the rule" (and thus the welfare state along with wages are now under attack not just here in the US but all across Europe).

(continued)
 
 
+12 # dkonstruction 2014-03-05 12:13
Whatever "gains" people have made under capitalism have been the result of long battles, struggles that people have engaged in but they have been fought tooth and nail by capital at every turn...and as we have seen over the last 45 years as soon as we become complacent and think that the gains are permanent or that the system has been tamed or whatever the assaults begin anew and what was won can just as quickly (if not more so) be lost).

The land expropriation, destruction of the commons, slavery etc are all taking place again. This is not just some aberration or the result of some "unnatural" twisted US version of capitalism. It is capitalism. Always has been. Always will be.
 
 
+13 # rlandingham 2014-03-05 13:39
Some of what you say I agree with but I think you are confused on a couple of important issues.
Capitalism developed long before the US won its war of national independence from England. In fact, England was the dominant capitalist power until more-or-less the end of WWII when the US took over.
Capitalism was an advance over feudalism, not in the sense of a kinder society, of which it definitely is not, but in the fact that it allowed resources to be accumulate (the first being workers freed from any other chance of earning a living other than become wage laborers) so that the production of the necessities (and luxuries) of life could be produced with much more efficiency. Rather than everyone being required to spend their lives tilling the fields and harvesting the crops, a few could do that while others produced all of the other goods that made for a better life. All of the bad things that have resulted in out life time, global warming, the destruction of the rest of the environment, poverty, war, etc., are not the result of industrializati on but as a result who makes the decisions, which under capitalism is the capitalists, under slavery it was the slave owners, under feudalism it was the kings, queens, czars, etc., under tribal society, which humans lived in for most of our history, it was all adults.
 
 
+2 # dkonstruction 2014-03-05 14:38
rlandingham,

Thanks for your reply comment.

I agree completely that capitalism developed long before the US won its independence. Capitalism is clearly developing by the late 15th/early 16th centuries.
I disagree that capitalism was an "advance" over feudalism in the sense that prior to capitalism (and i am by no means here romanticizing feudalism) communal forms of living were still practiced by "the masses" in numerous ways and there was a long tradition of "the commons" i.e., people's "rights" to the use of common land/resources which capital needed to destroy in order to force people to become wage-slaves (the British Levellers would not include wage-workers in their calls for the franchise because they did not consider wage-laborers "free"). People resisted their removal from the land, the enclosing of the commons, and the destruction of other forms of communal life. They resisted becoming wage-laborers and did not see this as “progress” over being “free peasants” after the collapse of the feudal peasant relations.
I agree that it is a question of who makes the decisions and this is precisely why i believe that capitalism was not in this sense an advance over the way people lived prior to its rise where far more of the decision-making was made communally/coll ectively.

(continued)
 
 
+4 # dkonstruction 2014-03-05 14:42
Again, i am not romanticizing the past or making it out that people were not oppressed prior to capitalism. But, at least during the period which has wrongfully been branded "the dark ages" after the fall of the Roman Empire and then again in the period after the "Black Death" (in which wages rose dramatically and people consumed more in basic foodstuffs for example then they did until probably the 19th century) people had more "freedom" over their own time and far more of the decision-making was made communally (this was not just the case in "tribal" societies.

I agree that there was a tremendous development of what Marx called the "forces of production" under capitalism along with much technological "progress" but it doesn't follow that this could not or would not have happened under other societies and forms of social organization.

Capitalism was based on exploitation from day one; the impoverishment of the many for the "advancement" of the few. And, in many respects people lost freedoms that had been won as people struggled against their oppression under feudalism. Capitalism was the counter-revolut ion to those struggles and the result perhaps a 100 million killed (between the colonization of the America's and the African slave trade just to name two of capitalism's more heinous crimes) and the (re) enslavement of the rest of the people through wage labor.
 
 
+6 # Susan1989 2014-03-05 13:05
I think before the US puts 90 billion annually into saving the poor of the world, it would be best to first help the many in need here.
 
 
+4 # dkonstruction 2014-03-05 14:44
Quoting Susan1989:
I think before the US puts 90 billion annually into saving the poor of the world, it would be best to first help the many in need here.


The fact that we are spending $90 billion a year "saving the poor" should tell you that capitalim's goal is not to "save" the poor at all but rather to "manage" them and make them better servants of capitalism.
 
 
+1 # RicKelis 2014-03-05 14:48
This is the common misgiving of the public and is seized upon constantly by the right wing: that we spend a lot of money on foreign aid. In reality, we spend about a half of this figure of 90 billion. A few facts:
from Voice of America:
"The U.S. State Department will be working with $46.2 billion in funding next year under President Barack Obama's proposed budget for fiscal year 2015, a slight decrease from this year. The proposal includes cuts to foreign aid."
FromDylan Matthews Wonkblog- WaPo:
"The latest poll that my colleague Ezra Klein cites finds that the average American thinks the United States spends 28 percent of the federal budget on aid to foreign governments -- more than the country spends on Social Security or Medicare or defense.
In reality, we spend only 1 percent on foreign aid."
 
 
+2 # RLF 2014-03-06 06:13
Much of this aid is given to leaders who steal it...pay off style or the countries are required to buy american companies stuff...payoff for corps in the US. Isn't the US ranked in the 20s or 30 on foreign aid?
 
 
0 # thedoc 2014-03-05 18:23
We are all in this together.
 
 
0 # maryf 2014-03-06 21:41
It is also necessary to realize that much of this $90Bn you claim is put into saving the poor is in fact in the form of military aid (for example, to Israel, Egypt and the former Soviet countries the US and Western Europe are trying to corrupt) rather than anything that people on the ground can use for survival. dkonstruction is exactly right, the purpose of this is to manage the poor, not lift them out of poverty.
 
 
+1 # mgwmgw 2014-03-05 13:11
More interesting than observing that whatever-we-hav e is bad is suggesting what might be better that history has not already shown to be unworkable.
 
 
+5 # Sangze 2014-03-05 13:40
Oh My Gosh, someone noticed that capitalism is organized rape by the filthy rich. Until now, there has not been much, if any, debate over the failure of capitalism and ways to remedy it. Most US citizens are so afraid of their jobs that they will never speak out. American capitalism is counter to the concept of equality under the law or justice for all. It has not and will not produce a just society, and certainly not a democracy. We need to not juste debate what should be done, to act, now, not later.
 
 
+1 # Anonymot 2014-03-05 14:10
Get back to basics. Capitalism is not the problem. Unlimited capitalism is the problem.

Unlimited capitalism is not the problem. Unlimited competition is the problem.

All species compete. All social species organize. No social species organizes to kill its members for competitive purposes.

All species communicate. So far it's only rare, perhaps incidental, certainly not organized for competitive purposes that organisms communicate falsely for competitive purposes. In our species it's called lying.

All species have something that transposes its needs to action. In vertebrates it's called the brain. The purpose of the human brain is to gain flexibility over our weaknesses - we cant fly, move at high speeds, live under water, and we break pretty easily.

So we we develop marvels like fire and wheels and airplanes and submarines - you get the picture. That plus the development of the mirror we can stare into with admiration develops the ego.

All living things reproduce. You know how we do it. To encourage reproduction, the element of pleasure was added. Nothing in existent brings more pleasure than a great orgasm. With the development of sports, theater, song, dance, oration, pleasure was found in many activities. With the advent of communication via devices, "Take me out to the ball game." became let's sit in front of the tube and watch the Steelers or Blackhawks.
 
 
+1 # Anonymot 2014-03-05 14:14
I've not the time here to develop this as I'll do some day in a book, but let me suggest that we have a flaw - excess. Ego excess. Competitive excess. America has become the head of the pimple.
It may be unchangeable or not.
 
 
+4 # dkonstruction 2014-03-05 14:49
capitalism has never had nor been about "unlimited competition." capitalism's "natural" inclination is for monopoly. look at the development of all major industries and this has been the case.

As far as encouraging reproduction goes...capitali sm did not add "the element of pleasure" it criminalized abortion (after it needed more workers in the wake of increasing wages after the "black death") and made sure that women could no longer control their own reproduction (burning midwives as witches, legislating that all pregnancies had to be registered along with all infant deaths to monitor infanticide, and ensuring that men controlled reproduction by taking over this part of the medical community that had always been the province of women).
 
 
+2 # rlandingham 2014-03-05 15:50
Your views on competition is false. If it had been the case, humans would never have been able to develop. Tribal society, which developed early in the development of humans was cooperative society and could not have been anything else. So I would hold off on any book because those ideas were long ago demonstrated to be false.
 
 
+1 # thedoc 2014-03-05 18:26
Anonymot, this evolutionary analysis is not helpful. Are you saying that capitalism is some kind of natural way of being and cannot be changed. It's our nature?
 
 
+6 # RicKelis 2014-03-05 14:38
A basic flaw in the current capitalism model is that it rewards non-production and, in effect, penalizes production (by reducing the worker to the status of a commodity.) It was doomed to fail because capitalism allows the materially wealthy to live off of the interest of loans made; in effect, to be non-productive. In an age where you can operate without any sizable capital investment, and to produce your own currency (e.g., bitcoin) capitalism has become obsolete. What we have now is zombie capitalism. Time to cut off the heads of the zombie and bury the remains that continue to stink up our world.
 
 
+2 # rlandingham 2014-03-05 15:58
The basic flaw of capitalism is that it is a society in which a small number of families own the banks, corporations, mills, mines, transportation systems, media, etc., and run those institutions for their private gain. The majority of the population, the working class, produce the wealth that the capitalist class the owns. They have not stolen it, they purchased it by paying wages and benefits to workers to produce it. Its the laws that they made that enables such a state of affairs. And with economic power goes political power.
 
 
+1 # modernjacobin 2014-03-05 19:53
Quoting rlandingham:
Its the laws that they made that enables such a state of affairs. And with economic power goes political power.


Exactly. Notice that we had 90% tax rates through at least the 1960s: and better public services all around.

But I think there was a different ethos at work: one which was not as selfish.

CEOs "only" made 40x as much as their employees. They offered their employees good pensions, health benefits for their FAMILIES, etc. CEOs really did try to "spread the wealth," rather than squandering it on compensation for themselves, their board of directors, etc.

If I'm not wrong, I think this era also witnessed the highest rates of stock ownership amongst the working classes.

But perhaps more importantly, the classes were still pretty mingled in their living arrangements. There were smaller houses nestled between larger ones: you can see this in a lot of older cities and suburbs (pre-1950). Today, the upper middles and uppers are increasingly secluding themselves in private enclaves, so they have even less knowledge of the problems faced by the middles and lower middles. After all, when everyone around is shopping at Whole Foods and spending $300 a week on groceries or driving $70,000 SUVs, everything's hunky dory, right?
 
 
0 # maryf 2014-03-06 21:58
Quoting modernjacobin:
There was a different ethos at work: one which was not as selfish.


Selfishness did not suddenly spring up out of the clear blue sky. It has always been entrenched among the segment of humanity that considers itself entitled to exploit everyone and everything on earth for their own benefit. This is always their objective and they only step back when forced. Periodically, such people manage to collectively gain control of the rules and strip away any obstacles to their depredations. The rest of us are always caught off balance by this instead of being aware and vigilant that this behavior is inevitable. The upper classes are insulated by their own preference and could care less about the problems faced by those who don't have anything.
 
 
+1 # modernjacobin 2014-03-07 00:53
I agree that "selfishness did not suddenly spring up out of the clear blue sky." It was certainly already lurking in the 60s when the Establishment questioned the Civil Rights Act.

However, we have to agree that Reagan made selfishness very acceptable in the wake of a relatively politically correct 60s and 70s. Of course, he never uttered Gekko's words "Greed is good," but he certainly did so by disseminating the notion of everyone else paying for "the welfare queen." And that it was perfectly OK to pull oneself up by the bootstraps. The problem is that much of it would involve the 1% pulling up the straps AT OTHER PEOPLE'S EXPENSE. But few saw it then.

It didn't help that the mass media colluded--and the Dems had no real answer to the Repugs' definition of America. They could have skillfully turned the word "liberal" into a positive one by reclaiming it as our national legacy, but they shrank back. In fact, we saw this very much at work in 2004 when Kerry protested that he was no a liberal during a debate; it was GWB because he was spending like mad.

Occupy has begun to redefine terms of discourse in the media. Notice that even Wall Street is grudgingly beginning to understand what we are saying. It won't be a fast or easy process, but we have to remain persistent. But then again, revolutions are hardly made in a day.
 
 
+3 # USA2012??? 2014-03-05 15:25
Let's call Capitalism what it now unquestionably has become: EXPLOITATION!
 
 
+4 # Dennyc 2014-03-05 16:28
Sadly, the powerful capitalists will not cease their efforts to exploit the planet and it's inhabitants until almost everything is either vanished. extinct or destroyed. They possess a psychology of mass destruction and they devote tremendous resources to maintaining the illusions that everything is functioning normally and there is nothing to fear. Would one believe that the vibrant proliferation of 'think' tanks is simply about military matters and better methods of production? If one publicly claims that capitalism is the solution to its own problems then walk away very quickly as that is sociopathy at work and it is a very constant and deafening claim. What's left for us? The only non-violent action the capitalists understand is going after their bottom line. Affect that and perhaps, maybe, who knows, they might slow down long enough to listen to the rest of us. Identify, boycott and find alternatives to what these wanton and destructive sociopaths have to offer. We have somewhat lost sight of our true power as citizens of the earth. What it takes is dedication, commitment and an honest look into our immediate future to see what's in store for us if we don't do something. Good luck! Keep your money in your pocket whenever you can.
 
 
+4 # xraymike79 2014-03-05 17:00
The only course of action that would have a hope of saving anything resembling a civilization is the abandonment of capitalism and the adoption of a whole new socialist paradigm that reconfigures modes of production. As Ivan Mészáros correc tly stated, “…the extermination of humankind is the ultimate concomitant of capital’s destructive course of development.”

We’ve already locked in warming of greater than 4C, as the CO2 equivalent of all GHG’s is now greater than 478ppm (as of summer 2013) and growing rapidly with positive feedback loops such as the loss of Arctic albedo, methane release from thawing tundra and deep ocean clathrates, changes in ocean chemistry, etc. Rising oceans, altered weather patterns, and consequent extreme drought/floodin g from anthropogenic global warming will make the planet inhospitable for most life currently residing on Earth.

We continue with business-as-usu al at our own peril while the true ‘long emergency’ of climate chaos” slowly unfolds.
 
 
+4 # jimallyn 2014-03-05 17:36
It's time we end Godless capitalism and create an economy that works for all of us!
 
 
0 # RLF 2014-03-06 06:19
& Create something else that is "godless"...I don't need any god in my government, thank you very much!
 
 
+3 # rlandingham 2014-03-05 17:45
I think the course of action necessary is what the author, Carl Gibson and RSN has done here. We need to have a thorough discussion of the nature of capitalism, what came before it and where it is heading. But we do not live long enough to come to that understanding on our own so we need to understand what others have learned. And then to make a critical evaluation. This will not be easy of course because we have been fed so much BS that it is like we are in a fog. Then there are many traps that have been set to derail anyone looking for answers. There are a lot of false prophets who sound good, or sound radical and therefore must be good, or who say the things, that because of the BS we have been taught, sounds reasonable. Of course, not everyone has the time or inclination to do what is necessary, but there needs to be a core that does so that they can propose a course for others. If that does not happen, as our society and political structure continues to deteriorate, we leave the field open for fascism as was done in Germany and other countries the last time there was a major crisis of capitalism.
 
 
+2 # cmasters 2014-03-05 18:00
Many views on what's wrong with capitalism, much of which I agree with, however not much discussion about an alternative.

In this regard, "What comes next?" is predicated on the answer to a broader question being "What kind of society do we want for ourselves?". Some of us have skirted around it with concepts of 'Mother Earth' and 'Public' but if we don't know how want to live our lives then we'll never agree on an alternative to what we now refer to as Capitalism.

I for one believe that, providing our population doesn't explode even more, we now have the technological capability capability to sustain everyone on Earth to a reasonable standard of living (as far as providing food and shelter) and that's without requiring us all to bust a gut working like slaves. What then for our free time? How would one earn extra 'income' in order to contribute something to society aside from the provision of mind and labor? (Every endeavor has an underlying cost in resources.)

Of course it's unlikely that common agreement would be reached in which case, should our current system collapse, then anarchy will be inevitable - not pretty!
 
 
0 # tabonsell 2014-03-05 18:16
The solutions to present-day problems (or evils) with capitalism were presented in the book "Saving America: Using Democratic Capitalism to Rescue the Nation from Economic Folly" (Algora Publishing of New York City).

But it seems that people like Carl Gibson would rather whine about the present system and call for a different system while admitting they haven't the faintest what a new system would look like, rather than look at a new system that has already been proposed. Whining alone will not improve the lives of most Americans, a little reading might enlighten Gibson and others to do something about the problems they whine about.
 
 
+2 # thedoc 2014-03-05 18:31
Rlandingham. I would totally agree. That passe ideology that human beings are rational agents driven only by self interested motives, is thankfully moving into the dustbin of ban ideas. We are a fundamentally cooperative and altruistic species. Otherwise we would have been wiped out eons ago. We become become distorted in our cooperative behaviour by systemic and structural social arrangements that make it difficult to work cooperatively as we are so busy trying to survive paying off mortgages and student loans and trying to live in inadequate incomes from badly paid work, if it is there at all.
 
 
+4 # modernjacobin 2014-03-05 19:23
What we have today is not capitalism but a pervasive feudalism 2.0. , or more accurately, a mongrelized combination of feudalism and capitalism.

"The king can do no wrong" has now become "the CEO can do no wrong": do well, get a bonus. Do poorly, get a bonus too! And in some cases, for pols too: e.g., GWB who never got investigated, much less prosecuted. And whereas pedigree and wealth were everything thru the 19th c., guess what--they still matter!

We live in a society where the right connections procure everything, just like in 18thc. Europe. Back then, it was all about aristoCRAP spawn attending Oxbridge prior to embarking on their grand tour of Europe. Today, they attend our overrated, overpriced universities prior to a stint at Oxbridge, law school, etc.(Helps to be a son of an alum or have Daddy's powerful friends on admissions to get in, of course). Back then, it was aristocraps and monarchs marrying one another or into the families of very wealthy tradesmen and financiers with their spawn entering Parliament or the National Assembly. Today, it's all about politicians, CEOs, literati, etc. marrying one another with their spawn landing the best jobs by virtue of connection (e.g., Bushes and Chelsea on MSNBC or whatever.) Many will undoubtedly run for public office: there are already rumblings from another Bush and Chelsea. Although as Obama told us in his MLK speech, we shouldn't feel perturbed if "some doors are opened wider for a few."
 
 
+4 # modernjacobin 2014-03-05 19:28
con'd

There is no meritocracy as we speak.

Let's not forget that at least in the 18th century, capitalists like Smith, Bentham, Price, Priestley etc. knew that talent was necessary for capitalism to work. Knowledge mattered. Experience mattered. Government was not going to bail out your sorry ass if your ship went under.

Today, it's not about talent rising to the top. It's about connections: CEOs becoming CEOs at other firms or corporons regardless of how well or poorly suited they are for the job--more the latter: e.g., A CEO of a packaged food company becoming CEO of a videogame co. (Electronic Arts); hedge-funder turned CEO of Sears; Apple marketing turned JC Penney CEO, etc. A world where the bulk of profits are made largely through cost-cutting (layoffs), not innovation or quality. And if you're lucky, you get bailed out--like GM in 2008.

I would argue that the best phase of American capitalism was that in the 1950s-1970s. There were still opportunities for the working classes to advance--or at least much more so than today: colleges were affordable, taxes on the wealthier were higher, hence better public services as in libraries, schools etc. Accountants and bankers did not earn so much more than a trucker. And incidentally, the son of a truck driver did have a much better chance to become an accountant or banker than his counterpart today.
 
 
+3 # modernjacobin 2014-03-05 19:38
con'd

The loss of this infrastructure and social mobility can be blamed on Reagan--and ALL of his successors. Unlike FDR, they did not have the decency to care about the welfare of the average worker--except for occasional lip service during election campaigns. Hence NAFTA, and now our TPP (which I refer to as the toilet paper partnership) They certainly did not back the unions the way he did. Instead, they showered gifts on Wall Street by deregulating them, lowering rates, etc. They want to create a world that will be superb for their spawn and miserable for everyone else so that we have no choice to but to live and work on their estates just like in Downton Abbey. (No wonder the 5% LOVES that show.)

At the end of the day, capitalism--or its abuse--is only part of the problem. I'd say the real problem is that of entitlement amongst the 5%--not just 1%: and perhaps even worse, our underlying cultural narcissism.
 
 
+1 # rlandingham 2014-03-05 22:42
It gets back to the definition of capitalism which is a set of social relations in the production process where the capitalist owns the corporations, banks, factories, mines, etc. and they hire wage and salary workers to produce surplus value (value above the value of their wages and benefits). From the surplus comes profits. In the 1930's Ferdinand Lundberg published a book titled "America's Sixty Families". So, at that time, sixty families owned most of the productive wealth of the US. Due to the concentration of wealth over time, that number decreases and is probably much smaller now. These families, did not get their fortunes by hard work as this and other works document. So it is not about the 1% or 5% as is fashionable to talk about. That refers to income levels not ownership. Someone can be a billionaire and not be capitalist. And, just because they are rich does not make them bad people. What is bad, is that the countries productive wealth is in private hands and is use to enrich the owners. And economic power is political power so the agenda of the government is the agenda they set. If the things that lead to global warming are profitable that is what is going to happen. If healthcare for all is going to reduce their profits then it won't happen. Full employment would be nice but monopoly capitalism requires restricting output more and more which means unemployment must keep increasing.
 
 
+1 # modernjacobin 2014-03-06 00:16
Fascinating that you mention Lundberg: there is a book by Theodore Dreiser (the guy who wrote Sister Carrie), "Tragic America" that makes a few similar points about the wealthy--and he actually uses the word 1%, sometimes 5%. I dare say those 60 families might be comparable to our .1% who have more wealth than the bottom of the 1% subset bottom half of that subset.

In terms of American history, we have indeed returned to the Gilded Age. It's fascinating to read Dreiser's work as he identifies almost exactly the same problems we face today: academic economists writing on behalf of corporations; much partial rather than full employment; the sham of so-called charities (he includes Red Cross) with exorbitant CEO pay; political patronage, etc. Hence the Depression. Alas, we have not learned because his book was quickly suppressed. Libraries were ordered to burn the book; the Carnegie library in PA went one better by burning all of his books.
 
 
+1 # modernjacobin 2014-03-06 00:17
The fact is that we've returned to the Gilded Age. The 1% is doing well,and the .1% even better--mostly through stocks: in fact, the relative amount of wealth enjoyed by the 1% is almost exactly the same as it was in 1929: 36%. (No wonder Glass Steagall was imposed after the Crash.)That's why the 1% were not happy when Hoover hiked up the tax rate from 24% to 64%--and when Roosevelt hiked it up to 92%. FDR was thus a "socialist" and "communist." (If only our pols were that brave!)

It's worth pointing out that the proportion of wealth enjoyed by the 1% declined to as low as 19% in 1976 and 1979. I suppose as the 1% felt their relative poverty, they decided to push the likes of Reagan.
 
 
0 # tclose 2014-03-05 23:45
I'm no expert in economics (is anyone?), but I have yet to see an economic system work - other than some form of Capitalism. Communism as the most extreme form of socialism holds too many pitfalls of who controls central planning for it to work. Large scale Socialism reduces individual freedom and is hobbled by inefficiency. On the other end of the spectrum, Unbridled Capitalism has since the 1800s - and most recently - proven itself to be an exploitive and basically unjust system of providing for fair remuneration for one's labors.

Surely the only remaining system that seems to work is "Bridled Capitalism*" that a) provides adequate safeguards to corporate excess and societal safety, and b) provides a remunerative balancing, through for example the tax system, that ensures fair return for effort as opposed to the current wildly out of whack one (e.g. CEO to worker ratio of 400:1).

To get back to this system (closer to what we had in the 50s and 60s, for example) requires that our political system be modified to ensure corporate and individual wealthy individuals hold no more power than normal citizens. This should be the target that every progressive should be working towards.

* With a liberal does of Socialistic public services where it serves the public good, of course
 
 
0 # bonnettoboot 2014-03-06 00:21
For most Americans it has been for years. The issue could be better balanced by putting large taxation increases on those earning over (say)$5 per year.
 
 
+1 # jsluka 2014-03-06 02:43
The new slogan needs to be "It's the capitalism, stupid!"

"I'm so scared of this anti-Wall Street effort. I'm frightened to death," Luntz said. "They're having an impact on what the American people think of capitalism."

"Luntz's first suggestion to the Republican governors was to stop saying the word "capitalism," as it was believed by many in the country to be "immoral," according to Luntz."

You may notice that there is a shift occurring right now to referring to support for "the free market" rather than for "capitalism." The "free market" sounds so much better, doesn't it? But basically it means the "freedom" to exploit, rob, abuse, and dominate- which isn't "freedom" at all but the opposite, "oppression."
 
 
0 # barbaratodish 2014-03-06 05:25
Capitalism surely takes all the fun out of life experiences. Capitalism replaces life experiences with SERIOUS(money,f ame, power) PERFORMANCES! But stop calling me Shirley! lmao
 
 
-1 # rlandingham 2014-03-06 11:00
Well, communism is the system that comes long after socialism when society is once again classless. Therefore, it has not, ignoring tribal communism, which would be impossible, seen the light of day. Socialism, on the other hand, has and, except in the minds of the defenders of capitalism, was in fact very efficient, progressive and worked very well. That is until the combination of groups within the USSR that either wanted to return to capitalism or, like Solsynitzen, to Czarism, working with the foreign intelligence services of Nazi Germany, Japan, England and others, organized the assassination of Stalin and others in the coup that put Khrushchev in power. The USSR wasn’t the first and won’t be the last working class state. History never runs in a smooth path. There were many capitalist revolutions against feudalism before it became the dominant economic system in the world. There were also socialist revolutions prior to the successful one in Russia. The Paris Commune being the most famous.
The workers in Russia faced a great many trials in building the first successful country where the ruling class was the majority of the population rather than the minority as is the case in feudalism, slavery and capitalism. The Russian working class not had to win the revolution against the feudal and capitalist forces, but then win two wars (the war of intervention 1918-1921 and WWII) against the combined armies of the capitalist world.
 
 
0 # rlandingham 2014-03-06 11:10
The other point I wanted to make is that some kind of "Bridled Capitalism" is that being the ruling class means that the capitalist class controls the state, that is, the police, army, courts, etc. If you believe that, they would allow you to "bridle" them, you have another thing coming. History shows that when the capitalist class feels really threatened they do away with the pretense of electoral democracy and institute fascism. Even in this country some of the more right-wing members of the capitalist class felt threatened by working class in the '30's and approached retired Marine Corp General Smedley Butler, and asked him carry out a coup of the US Government. He refused and went to congress which resulted in the would coup promoters getting their hand slapped and told not to do that again.
 
 
0 # barbaratodish 2014-03-06 13:27
Gore Vidal told the truth: and, as Gabriel Palma wrote and quoted Gore Vidal (I'm paraphrazing though,) What we have now is socialism for the bank(st)ers, (the 1%, etc.) and capitalism for the rest."
 
 
-1 # Rain17 2014-03-06 14:32
Capitalism will never be a dirty word--at least not in the US. And demanding that the US abandon capitalism in favor of socialism is a waste of time because the electorate will never support it. Americans will never embrace full socialism. That's the brutal reality here. Outside of some college towns and some parts of Manhattan and San Francisco those ideas are going nowhere.

Americans want equality of opportunity, not equality of condition. And I do think that there should be efforts to regular capitalism to ensure that everyone has an equal chance and that there are safeguards against its excesses. But trying to run against capitalism itself is likely going to get a negative reception from people.
 
 
0 # thunderable 2014-03-06 21:04
What we have isn't really capitalism, it's an amalgam of fascism (the merger of the gov't and corporations, as Mussolini called it), lemon socialism, a plutocracy and elitist economic terrorism. Neither Wall Street nor our Congress wants competition or free trade let alone fair trade. They want the deck stacked in favor of the few (e.g., the Comcast/TW merger)...greed is a very human trait.

What we need is a national conversation about our values as a society, including the roles of government and the private sector (including the laws governing corporations). I don't want the government building cars or computers, but by the same token I don't want corporations in charge of essential human needs such as health care or infrastructure.
 
 
+1 # rlandingham 2014-03-06 21:16
You are absolutely correct. At this time in US history, the fraud is still so thick that the working class is more concerned with keeping their jobs and their houses and their cars then about the future. But that fraud is beginning to break down. You see it more and more everyday. And, I think, that the greed of the capitalist class and the ineptitude of their of their political parties, the Republicans (including the lunatic fringe calling itself the Tea Party, and the Democrats, who are, for the most part, every bit as conservative as the Republicans are help speedup the disillusion of that fraud. When people see that because of the capitalist control of the media (both conservative and liberal) and the money it takes to run for office, prevents them from actually having a voice in the government (which the fairytale says is of and by the people)then they begin to wonder if this is the best system to meet their needs. And when a major crisis happens, like another Great Depression and world war the frauds that bind the chains become very brittle and easily broken.
 
 
0 # rlandingham 2014-03-06 21:18
If you do not believe me, look at the social revolutions that occurred following World Wars I and II.
 

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