An Appeal to Reason
Capitalism: root of our ethos. The foundation of our culture, this competitive social construct. The justification is infallible (so it seems). Our instinctual drive to compete for acquisition and control of resources is an integral part of our human psyche. The comfort we enjoy today, earned over tens of thousands of years. Progress and innovation, adaptation and pursuit. Success for the successful, but what about the rest…?
We are human beings, clever and expansive. Flawed and yearning. Call this an attempt to save the children before the building starts burning.
Are we logical, rational beings? If so:
How do we judge a process? By what it produces — the product. The end result.
How do we judge an individual? By accumulated actions. What someone does, not what they say.
How do we judge a society? By the state of existence for the living creatures within that compose it. By the legacy this society leaves to its ancestors. This might not be how we judge ourselves in the present, but history tells the truth independent of popular perception
FIRST — An unbiased assessment of Competition:
- ‘Win or Lose’ is a binary parameter. The nature of competition dictates that one must lose for the other to win. ‘Ties’ occur only outside of pure, unbridled nature. In t-ball games and soccer matches where the equal outcome is ingrained in the structure of the match. And even still, we detest this outcome. Equate it to kissing a sibling.
- Our social competitions, whether it be athletics, elections, chess matches, even lotteries, are held to a strict sense of moral virtue. The most important aspect is a level playing field. A fair and honorable contest in which neither side is given an unfair advantage.
- We revile in disgusted horror at the mere suggestion of foul play. Of someone or something done in ‘fixing’ the game. The Boston College basketball scandal, Shoeless Joe Jackson’s Black Sox. Sonny Liston’s debacle in Lewiston, Maine.
- Not just in America (where I personally reside), but our global culture considers good, clean competition the logical foundation of any contest. Even in Australian Rules football, where a sort of savagely beautiful anarchy reigns, it would be reprehensible to ‘throw’ a match or otherwise engage in dishonest behavior to affect the outcome of the game. In short, to ‘cheat’.
Now, let the record show clearly I am not in opposition to honest competition in any form. As an athlete of great passion and no accomplishment I learned many of the most important lessons in my life on the various fields of play in my youth and beyond. Hockey, baseball, soccer, football, basketball, paintball, boxing, manhunt, tennis, impromptu foot-races, youthful challenges, games of our own creation. There is a separate treatise to be written on the infinite benefits of pure competition in the cognitive and physical development of human beings.
CAPITALISM — What’s the Problem??
Capitalism itself is no more evil than an assault rifle or a bulldozer. Capitalism has no ethos in itself, does not take into account things like honesty or equality. Thus, the burden falls upon to the operator to determine virtue of operation.
Lest I be considered a doomsayer, I readily concede capitalism is not 100% negative. Capitalism has helped produce innovations in technology, infrastructure, and a great variety of luxuries. A global availability of goods, art, knowledge, and more. The wonderful technology upon which I type this futile attempt at awakening. The lovely music I am listening to in the process. (‘I was not born to drown..baby, c’mon’)
But is this how we are to define our existence? What we have built, rather than what we have become? Do we value THINGS more than we value US?
Now let us admit this: Capitalism is an experiment in the scope of modern humanity. A needle in the haystack of our short time on Earth. History books tell us humans have been civilized for more than 4,000 years, yet capitalism has existed for less than 100. Experiments seldom work exactly as the experimenter imagined, and so innovation, adaptation, and correction becomes essential to progress. Unfortunately, capitalism had no beta testing, and the adaptations since its inception are what I will attempt to expose as the root of what ails our culture.
Capitalist ethos rose from the social state of existence spawned of the Industrial Revolution. Urban centers exploded with the population. In the year 1900 1.6 billion people inhabited the Earth. In 2011 we passed 7 billion. By 2043 we will pass 9 billion at our current rate of exponential growth, 10 billion by 2083.
And so the response was to dole out uniforms, suits or coveralls or uniforms tied to identity. The first question we ask today when we meet someone? ‘What do you do for work?’
These costumes were to designate one’s identity, to establish clearly their place within the social order. You can see this on full display anywhere you look. Labels, brand names. The not-so-subtle price tags on everything. Labels on our cars: E Class, C Class, S Class. Right there on the bumper to broadcast the owner’s social standing. Labels on clothes, so everyone knows what the wearer paid for the suit, the dress, the handbag, the shoes. The size and shine of an engagement ring. Now this might be harmless, if it didn’t run so deeply. Our neighborhoods, our nations. All it takes is a glance to determine the price tag and consequently the social enrichment. The more expensive the zip code, the better the schools and hospitals, and everything around them is better too.
Now, perhaps for a time the status quo was held in balance by a vast majority of people having access to fundamental liberties of life — even if they weren’t the ‘winners’. Communism is a fallacy because we are not born to be equal — have you read Vonnegut’s Player Piano? Disparity of standing is natural. Not everyone can be the best. Not everyone wants to be. Some just want to live in a peaceful, prosperous community where hard work and honesty is how a people carve out a path for a family they love among neighbors they cherish, or perhaps tolerate with mutual civility. In other words, the model worked well enough so people kept it around.
Fast forward to the present day, July 30, 2017 6:57 pm.
Like that assault rifle, Capitalism does not include any notions of virtue. A rifle itself never killed anyone, unless it is defective. It must be pointed and aimed, a finger must pull the trigger. And just as we commonly discover that a bullet knows no names and simply proceeds along the path it is directed, so capitalism has driven our ethos as we have steered it.
And since Capitalism does not account for community, social accountability, posterity, equality, justice, joy, safety, or any of the other foundational liberties we once held to be self-evident, it is up to us to make sure these basic rights are not forgotten. Rights that noble men and women have been fighting and dying for since the days of the first tyrant long, long ago. It was once held to be a simple truth, the responsibility of any free and noble human to oppose tyranny wherever it might rear its ugly tentacles.
But the rise of tyranny is born from the evil intentions of a few and the indifference of the masses. Those who ‘won the game’ unwilling to abscond from the status quo, crumbling it may be, like the residents of a house with crumbling foundation. The desire for self-enrichment over communal progress, clinging to self-indulgent desires. Capitalism has turned into a time-bomb, a house waiting for the right storm to come and expose the truth of a faulty foundation.
Consider this: I could come out tomorrow and proclaim ‘Houses built of hay are strong’ and if someone wants to save money, to serve their own bias, they can follow this path of least resistance and convince themselves it is the truth. But truth is independent of selfish perception, and when the storm comes the truth comes with it.
Yes, it is a silly but true comparison, that we have forgotten the important lessons learned from the ‘3 Little Pigs’. The wolf is at the doorstep, and only a house built on strong foundations will be able to stand tall. I propose building new foundations, to chart a new course.
It is on the operator to determine the output of an indifferent mechanism. And so we must judge Capitalism not on its ideals or ideas, but solely by its output. By its effect on our social order as an established foundation. Not only the world it has created today, but the world it is leaving to our ancestors.
Capitalism is built on competition, but is this competition fair? Or has the competition become skewed? Unfair? Have those in power used that power to tilt the playing field in their favor? Look beyond the fancy luxuries and technology the masses are so distracted by, and ask yourself, how enriched are we truly in terms of liberty, justice, and prosperity for all? Happiness?
This treatise will not delve into the social situation of the ‘losers’ in this strange game, but for those condemned to poverty by birth, quality of life in so many ways is diminished just because their parents have not found a way to ‘earn’ a living. The counter argument to this is: an ability to rise out of poverty through exceptional means. Yes, this is true. But it does not speak to the fairness of the game.
To use an analogy: If I played Lebron James 1v1 in basketball to the score of 21, I could start up 20 and he would win 99 or 100 times out of a 100. But not everyone is exceptional, and this should not be a requirement to access the basic tenets of civility this nation was founded upon. And if I did hit a lucky basket and defeated Lebron, is that outcome a fair reflection? Based truly on merit? Now the analogy is not perfect, and naysayers will punch holes in it with glee. But I am not trying to establish absolute fact, I am trying to raise questions. To encourage a truthful assessment with that wonderful cognitive mind between your ears.
Our brains are marvelous tools, and we can use them in a variety of ways. We can use them to seek out the truth, to assess and reason without bias. Or we can use it to shape perception to suit personal biases, surround oneself with supporting stimuli and exclude challenging ideas, and thus justify the position. I will repeat the line from ‘The Time-Traveler’s Message’: Our collective and individual cognition has gone incognito!
Power. The commissioner of a league, the referee of the game. The judge on the bench, the president of our nation. We hope these entities are even more honest than the individual playing. That they represent the intrinsic essence of the contest. Yet since Power in capitalism is earned by monetary wealth and influence over its flow/direction, whether it be in possession or property, those with the most money determine the rules of the game. And today most money is in digital form, not paper form, so what game are we really playing?
And can someone honestly advocate a position that the leaders, the power, have not skewed this game called Capitalism in their favor? To benefit their own interests, and to control access to enrichment through exclusionary social practices? This can be seen in education — the cost of schooling and the stratified selection process which begins basically before birth. This is why we exist in such an unfair status quo.
This is why inequality is growing, rather than shrinking.
This is why 8 people in the world control 50% of the total wealth and yet nobody seems to mind. These 8 individuals ‘won the game’, so who can blame them? Sure, the losers may complain, but they lost and so their fate is theirs to endure. And the biggest scam of all is that those at the very top are BENEFITING from that which plagues the land.
The simple truth of learning as Socrates told us so long ago: I cannot teach you anything — I can only make you think.
And so I ask you to please consider with an open mind, how any single item on the following list of symptoms ailing and assailing our culture can be reconciled or justified by anything other than Capitalism.
The ‘If it makes dollars, it makes sense’ List:
- Fossil Fuels
Not only the use but the attempt at growing the Fossil Fuels industry (job creation is justification by capitalism). Our air quality is getting worse every day as we pollute the air and cut down more trees.
If prices were fair/balanced and reflective of the population’s ability to pay, people would not need to buy a policy just in case something happens.
- Health Care driven by profits, not social progress and well-being
(This is why no matter how we try to fix Health Care it will always be flawed, since an entire industry is based on profiting off sick and injured people needing treatment. It is a scheme intertwined with insurance that is engaged in a vicious cycle of elite-enrichment. They raise prices on goods so we need insurance, then pay themselves at the price they set. Then raise prices again, raise the price of insurance, and the choice is either buy in or go without. Again, if goods were sustainably affordable we wouldn’t need to buy policies just in case something happens
- Glorified Debt
(platinum cards, credit scores, mortgages, student loans, etc.) For most of human history lending money at interest was considered a predatory, exploitative practice.
- EIGHT PEOPLE control half of the total wealth on Earth!
This leaves 7 billion to compete for the other half! Think about 100 people stranded on an island, and one person tried to hoard all the coconuts for themselves…
- The advent of a State-Sponsored Opium Epidemic.
Just as there are other ways to fuel cars and turn on light bulbs besides burning coal, there are other ways to deal with pain besides opium. One is to deal with it instead of run from it, but that is up to the individual. If pain is a problem, opiates is not the solution. Only a great source of wealth to those distributing it.
- Journalism/Media driven by any other agenda than conveying truthful, impartial news.
- Imperialist Foreign Policy. ‘World Police/Bullies’
We create enemies, and then preach a need to deal with them. And we create invisible enemies, then funnel billions into ‘fighting’ them.
- Goods made to fail
We don’t make cars to last 30 years, we do not value the durability of goods because of contrived necessity and the constant need for growth and consumerism in a capitalist-driven economy.
- Criminal Justice
Access to Justice is determined by wealth as soon as the cuffs are slapped on, if they are slapped on at all (in the case of the uber-rich, who get no nearer to the county jail than a supreme court justice). And the punishment is directly determined by the legal representation one can afford and the social connections that exist.
(Socially stratified ‘weeding out’ process more than true intellectual expansion). In our new ethos Education will be a nourishing intellectual journey of self-discovery and spiritual expansion.
- Obesity/Processed Food
Look around. We can fool our eyes with labels, but we can’t fool science or the chemistry and metaphysical rules attached to the human body. There has never been a nation in the last 4,000 years as fat as America is today. We can say ‘big is beautiful’ but natural law says otherwise.
- Slaughterhouses/Meat Farms
We get our products neatly wrapped and packaged and on fancy plates, so we have become numb to the fact that a living, breathing soul was murdered in order for that meat to exist. The experience within the process by which we mass-manufacture meat is a fate you would not wish upon your worse enemy. I am not against people eating meat. I am against the process by which we acquire it.
- Animal Testing or abuse of any lifeform for our own gain.
Linked to the previous item but worth noting separately that a single monkey in a laboratory cage, a single rat with it’s skull pried open and electrodes attached to its brain, is evil. All animals communicate, feel pain, fear death, and have souls. We teach ourselves the opposite to reduce responsibility and assuage guilt, but anyone who has spent time around animals knows the truth. We have thumbs, we can build things. That’s what separates us.
- Predatory Nursing Home Practices
-Prescription Medicine Prices
(related to insurance scheme but worth noting that the ‘medicine’ prescribed by doctors is making us ill)
-Feudal Farming Practices
Control food production/prices (discouraging sustainability and independence with infertile seeds, paying farmers not to grow, etc.)
Earth got it right the first time, it is we who screwed it up. Fix the garden, fix the plants. Just because we can manipulate something does not mean we should. Alchemists justify their alchemy with things like ‘progress, innovation, advancement’ Yet when did we decide as a culture that modifying DNA, cloning, etc. was acceptable?
Gun Law/Policy dictated by gun manufacturer alliance. They now produce miniaturized but fully functional pink and blue assault rifles for children.
(A note on 2nd amendment: When that was written, single-shot muskets that took 45–70 seconds to reload were the ‘arms’ they were bearing and when there was a shooting where the British killed 5 people a war broke out. Mass shootings and the proliferation of guns fuel fear, fear fuels gun sales and justifies ownership, and the increased dispersal of these compact instruments of mass murder begins the cycle again) The question is not related to an individuals ability to be a ‘responsible gun-owner’ or the ‘love of shooting guns’. If life is the most precious commodity on Earth, as I believe, why lust after instruments of death?
-The NCAA, NFL, and every other super organization that uses money to operate on illegal labor principles
They are the modern day Rockefellers, granted ‘antitrust’ exemptions because of their power (money). Their influence in the courts, which pulls back the curtain on our ‘legal’ system and reveals the reason that lady with the scale has covered up her eyes.
-Leadership which does anything but serve and protect the population it governs! ‘By the People, For the People?’ Does this government reflect our collective will?
And so we must Rise and govern ourselves!
The specific titles and words are not important, nor should anyone seek to find isolated exceptions in an attempt to downplay the effect of the whole. Of course, you can use your clever brain to conjure strong arguments to any one of these items on the list. Yet we judge a machine by its cumulative output, an athlete by their cumulative performance. Our actions define us and not our intentions or isolated exceptions — Why would we hold our social foundations to a different standard?
And I also understand most people will read this list and attempt to justify the items which challenge their behavior/beliefs while agreeing with those which bother them. It is important to understand, though everyone is afflicted differently, every single one of these problems is a symptom from one single disease: Capitalism.
The dinosaur bone — zealot creationist confrontation explains everything. Bill Hicks said it best:
“OK, dinosaur fossils — how does that fit into your scheme of life? What’s the deal?”
“God put those here to test our faith.”
“I think God put you here to test my faith, dude”
Of course a man with a white beard did not build this planet specifically for humans. We are infants in the lifespan of this planet, dinosaurs just one of the many species who dominated long before we arrived. Sharks have dominated the oceans for 400 million years. Thunderbirds, giant marsupials, and other forms of life had their place atop the food chain long before us thumbed primates arrived on the scene.
Intransigence, Ignorance, and Indoctrination: the three most grave threats facing our planet.
We must not fall victim to the apathy and division which makes for subjagation. The bystander effect must turn to an umbrella of unity and positive direction. ‘We should all fear evil people, but the greater evil is the indifference of good people.’
My goal? A new direction, devoid of self-imposed restriction and fallacy. New foundations, to repair damaged bonds and rebuild those broken. An enlightened communal happiness in a prosperous natural setting in accordance with Earth’s natural blessings which leaves a positive environment of sustained enrichment for many generations to come. Earned through sweat, tears and toil. And if it is necessary — Our Blood. I am first in line, yet I do not seek followers. I seek leaders to join me. I seek Unity.