July, 2001, Volume 8 Nr. 11, Issue 95
GREED CAPITALISM AND DYSFUNCTION
In these the opening years of the 21st century in post-modern America, the market economy, with its so-called "free trade" and the commodification of everything, is almost universally considered beneficial. The argument goes that consumers (not citizens, mind you) are blessed by ever more choices of goods, increased material possession, luxuries, profit opportunities, access to instant plastic money, and a higher standard of living than was ever heretofore experienced by humans in the history of the planet. A Beemer in every garage becomes the dream. Individual internalized debt, however, obfuscates the reality of material ownership.
Membership in the apparent exclusive club that defines success placates incongruous the waking state of our debt financing. Beneath sleep, while walking, working, playing, turning the spit on the starter fluid charcoal scented barbecue during this month's holiday celebrations, the haze of what we owe settles into a dull presence - courtesy of Visa, Master Card, Discover, etc. with hundreds of credit card offers received yearly.
To be in the company of like-minded, life-styled consumers is to share the experience, as mass marketing ecstasy operates under the guise of individualism. You can have it your way, tailored to who you are. Be free. Be what you want to be, as long as you buy something, - anything. Or, until the realization one day, that the longevity of belonging is compounded daily, revolving, slowly, enslaving the collective summation of one's life's work and hopes. This is good health in the United States of Free Trade Uber Alles.
Those rejecting the notion that wealth creates happiness, well-being and security are un-American, unpatriotic, or worse, socialistic, dysfunctional; somewhat swinging their rocking chair in the wrong direction.
Capitalists need not express concern over any aspect of the system's modus operandi. Joan Roelofs, of the Monadnock Greens, writes that capitalism does "not malfunction." Capitalism cannot fail, as Roelofs puts it. It is,
Those Wonderful Holidays
Everyone looks forward to the holidays. A little time off with the family and friends. More opportunity to contemplate the day for which a respite from work is intended. Yet, our nation's holidays are less opportunities to celebrate, to commemorate, to love, reflect, pray, meditate, to willingly volunteer. They are more a mandate of requirement to buy, to take out to dinner, to offer trinkets as substitutes for meaningful human interaction, dialogue and study. A few examples follow.
Valentine's Day give her something special - not the beauty that love has to offer, rather an object such as, a diamond, marketed to express that love. Rocks to set off one's rocks, mined by the exploited and abused dark skinned men unable to afford one for their mates and loved ones. Topped off with chocolate, morsels from the tropics, sensual creaminess that cares little of its origins. This most popular luxury food of the world "carries slavery into our homes." The functional delights of "cocoa and chocolate helps create the conditions that lead to slavery, and when our pensions or savings are invested in companies that produce chocolate, we profit directly from the work of slaves." These quotes taken from the Garstang, U.K. WebPages describe the dysfunction which passes for the functional in the era of neo-liberalism and globalization.
The cause of such slavery was the necessity of cocoa producing nations such as the Ivory Coast to pay back International loans and interest through production of cash crops rather than the mundane - food. Forced structural adjustment further exacerbates the condition. "Today 90% of the plantations in the Ivory Coast use slaves" many of whom are teenagers and young men. Globalism, however, sees those who object as dysfunctional, such as the people of Garstang, who "At a Public Town Meeting on Thursday, 27th April 2000...voted virtually unanimously...to become the world's first Fairtrade Town.
Thanksgiving metamorphoses into a 48-hour extravaganza including the much heralded day after, Black Friday. We overeat and over drink, slaughtering enough gallapavo to gobble down 75-million gluttonal pounds, 45-million animals, ceding gravitational dominance to the remote control of the pigskin warriors. Better bird breeding for bigger corporate profit on this holiday creates a scrumptious delight. The white meat turkey breast is so big (70% of total) that the bird falls over when it walks. Imbibing in this great holiday is to function, by definition, as an American, even if one considers that hunger in the United States is real.
The dysfunctional dare to suggest that it takes 75 - 80 pounds of feed to raise a 30 pound Tom. Forgoing said pleasure are the radicals of society, the pinko-commie-nudies, the atheist non-eminent domain horde and of course, the indigenous peoples. The real wackos are the vegetarians eating only an infinite variety of lettuce on this day. What else do these cultists eat anyway?
The following day, assuming complete digestion successful, what the digestive system hath processed repeats all over the country, in malls - the buying frenzy of the year. To be part of Buy Nothing Day in the consumptive and presumptive culture of sanity is considered insane. Worse, to actively participate in the encouragement of buying nothing, not coffee, nor gasoline, nothing, on the day after Thanksgiving, is considered pathological, mentally unstable and unkind to neighbors. These folk are, after all, part of the businesses that make normalcy possible. Promotional normalcy equals functioning in a society which only the insane consider insane.
Christmas delineates the success or failure of the shopping season where sales volume is the message and measure of success. Meanwhile, the post orgy stresses city and town disposal systems with broken toys, useless trinkets that were packaged seductively in the now shredded cardboard and waste wrapping paper. To be part and parcel of the joy, the charade of purchase and be happy, is normal. Tis' better to get something than nothing, even if it is junk and/or made by the exploited workforce of the so-called Third World. After all, what else would these people do if not making Nike sneakers for buck or so a day?
Giving up the holiday engenders shunning, insult, intonations of weirdness, even from close family and friends. To reject Santa, the advertising creation of Coca Cola is to reject the messiah. Christ brings salvation as does Santa, the former a redemptive theology for many, a philosophy of giving up, following, while the latter, one of getting and having. We can be certain, however, that every year end, Santa reincarnates again. Meanwhile,
writes Jim Lobe, in a piece entitled, "Coca-Cola To Be Sued for Bottlers' Abuses" and published on Friday, July 20, 2001 by Inter Press Service. Don't you just love those holiday green and red bottles of Coke?
During Easter, the crucifiction and resurrection takes on new meaning, a contravexation to sluggish retailism. Sales arise from the dead to the assumptive heights of chocolate bunny and Easter egg consumption. Easter, in its native tradition is a period of inward investigating. Yet, today, beyond the rolled away boulder symbolism of the master departed lies the irresistible melt-in-your-mouth lucious Godiva. For the less fortunate, there awaits the generic cheap chocolate, Amazonian cocoa aboriginal sweet, transcendence beyond the status quo of the pleasure center. Lo and behold, if successful, the portfolio of cocoa and candy futures moves up. It has risen!
The normalcy of the system not only functions at the highest levels, it is therein designed. The Great Society undercut by the New New Deal of Clintonianism envisions a market future where social nets of any kind for the people are dismissed. The sanity of the culture guided by funds ever-moving upward place the onus of medical catastrophe, poor health, death and plant closing squarely on the people. Everyone can afford health insurance. Everyone has enough in savings to cover emergency surgery or the loss of a good job. Robert B. Reich in the article, "Back of the Hand to the Safety Net" appearing in the June 21 issue of the Los Angeles Times, writes, "Social insurance was a natural impulse, a first cousin to patriotism." But patriotism has been redefined. U.S. Secretary Paul O'Neill, stated,
Thus, dysfunction in the New Capitalist society is the worker, pardon me, the consumer who through a long life of contribution to making the system work, still has no savings nor can afford medical care. O'Neill's functional America does away with Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, unemployment insurance or any other social insurance. The Boomer who can't take care of himself is a failure.
The Unproductive - More Dysfunction
Capitalist society offers neither grandiose opportunity nor adequate avail to the severely handicapped and medically disabled. What does that matter to O'Neill and Bush, Inc., who, see the elderly as a wasting pool of monetary resources better moved into the hands of corporate eldercare. Some faith-based initiative can take care of them. A warehoused elder is profitable, an infirm senior citizen is a drain of monetary resources. In our functional society, Reich sees the purveyors therein, asking, "Why should there be any social insurance?" Why should insurance companies, in the business of making money, insure the sick, the potentially sick, and the soon - to - be - genetically - sick - coded - identified? Those questioning commit adultery of the heart lusting after the health care only the rich can afford. Who, thus, can afford to continue to live?
Brian Martin, in Tied Knowledge: Power in Higher Education, Chapter 9, "Capitalism" explains,
This desire to prosper above all else through the private control of business abrogates responsibility to anything else. Advertising is propaganda, and propaganda is free to lie. Newspapers and news magazines owe more to advertising revenue than to the readership. Self-censorship controls what offends the advertiser even at the expense of truthful reporting. Nay. Truth in reporting is dead, having succumbed to corporate domination. For all those choices that consumers are supposed to have, precious few are left in the print, radio and video media. In the new world of the new economy, AOL Time Warner dominates massively. This is hope, however, for on this the 225th celebration of the 4th of July, we can still, but with dwindling opportunity, express our freedom - a freedom from corporate control. Satirist, Paul Krassner, in a piece entitled, "The FBI and Me - An American Story" published in the Independence Day, 2001 edition of the Los Angeles Times, writes,
In keeping with this freedom of expression and freedom of free speech, and, to further protect them, this issue is dedicated in the celebration of our independence from corporate domination. Happy Fourth of July.
Text © 2001 Jozef Hand-Boniakowski, Ph.D.