Humanity’s economic disease: Capitalism

Our situation may not only be stranger than we suppose; it may be stranger than we can suppose.”—J.B.Haldane

People demanding governmental change are not united in focusing on the political economics at the root of most global problems but they are moving in that direction. This shows that many can understand the situation, however strange it may seem. But that understanding does not transmit to much of what passes for global leadership.

Leadership’s inability to cope with, or its desire to maintain “our situation,” even with the potential for planetary disaster, reinforces the egotistical greed of private profit and perpetuates the anti-social problem of public loss. That problem has reached a point at which it threatens all humanity and not just divided and conquered national, religious, racial or other falsely labeled identity groups.

Many people understand that we have reached a critical turning point that demands radical change in how and why we produce the means of supporting life to the advantages of a shrinking minority which amasses incredible wealth while the vast majority are living in or fast approaching a status close to poverty. But that reality is more often completely denied by global leadership, especially in the Western world. Since this is where the problem originates and is sustained, it becomes more important that the West play a greater role in the movement to radically change global policies, starting by transforming national leadership. That has begun in some parts of the world like Latin America but here in the USA, it might as well still be the 20th century for all the “change” in the power of tiny minorities to run a supposed democracy by buying and occasionally selling its leadership the way all commodities are traded in the profit and loss marketplace. That is the serious situation in which humanity finds itself, and Americans, despite a taught notion of positive exceptionalism, playing the most negatively exceptional role in the creation of waste where there was plenty, and war where there was peace.

Current policies to maintain empire at all costs are misread by many who accept affirmative action for capitalism as the substance of social change. When people of diverse cultural, ethnic, racial or sexual sectors preside over as well as participate in the mass murders of foreigners in wars to perpetuate minority domination, many imagine that the dead smile happily at having been slaughtered by a such a wonderful collection of minority groups exercising democratic power. More important, redistributing tokens in a system threatening disaster for humanity hardly changes anything but for a few who will—very briefly—be most comfortable while their societies are flooded, destroyed by wars or disintegrated in some other form by an angry nature taking its measure of a species that draws closer to outliving its sustainability.

We need to follow at least some of the advice offered by groups like the Royal Society of London and Another World Is Possible. Despite their differences in funding and outlook, one being establishment and the other seeking alternatives to that establishment, in confronting our problems they come to many of the same conclusions. Both clearly call for a reorganizing of social priorities and an end to the wasteful commodity culture of the west as the only way to end the poverty suffered by billions and begin making a better life possible for all humanity. Both highlight the dangers posed by climate change and clearly identify political economics at the root of our treatment of the planet and its people. They use slightly different language and propose slightly different programs, but they are united in saying that another world is necessary if humanity is to survive and progress. That will call for a totally different economic and political foundation even if these groups do not state that fact in the same words.

The warfare culture that treats human welfare as a secondary consideration should not only be obvious from the perspective of those killing and being killed by the massive military organizations supporting an equally massive market force of comfort for some at the expense of deprivation for most. People far removed from the military battlefields and who sincerely profess reverence for deities, preach humanitarian unity and practice sincere if primitive forms of democratic politics still tolerate tens of thousands of humans living in the streets, sleeping under bridges and in doorways, while tens of millions of pets live in comfort in the homes of the same good people. Social and humanitarian priorities are skewed under the domain of profit and loss capital which forces all good people into situations that provoke bad things.

The domestic priorities of a market system which finds animals more valuable than people is the same one making foreign wars that find some humans even less valuable than those same animals. This has little to do with any individual acting in bad faith and much more to do with a system of political economics which cannot help but benefit some by treating others as a lower life form than our pets. We would do well to stop seeking individual villains, though there certainly are many, and pay much closer attention to the system in which wonderful people—and they are far more in number—cannot help but perpetuate growing disaster simply by following the teachings of business as usual and accepting that profits on one side that create loss on the other are some form of decency and humanity when the evidence is, and becoming more so with frightening speed, quite the contrary.

“Our society is run by insane people for insane objectives. I think we’re being run by maniacs for maniacal ends and I think I’m liable to be put away as insane for expressing that. That’s what’s insane about it.”—John Lennon

Frank Scott writes political commentary and satire which appears in print in The Independent Monitor and online at the Legalienate. Email: fpscott@gmail.com.

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