On pseudo-capitalismPosted: October 16, 2013
Seemingly slowly, and then all of a sudden, I have realized that every person alive is living in a cage. I have chosen to see this realization as a positive awakening, after all the first step in escaping a cage is to realize you are in one.
Each individual has their own cage, some are gilded – filled with marvellous toys; many are cramped and squalid; many more are dark and filled with the smell of death.
What all of these cages have in common is that they are old. We were born into them, just as our parents and grandparents were born into them and the bars that line the walls are so familiar to our eyes that we have long since ceased to perceive them. From the most ornately palacious of the cages to the most base only a precious few inhabitants have noticed the bars and only the smallest fraction have the ability, will, and inclination to want to break the lock.
I am of course talking about society, not on the level of individual communities or countries but of what I will refer to as the pseudo-capitalist society that I believe defines our age.
I am eminently aware of the fact that this discourse risks making me seem like a conspiracy theorist but we are not talking about a conspiracy. We are talking about a culture, a set of values, that has propagated globally and serves to empower and enrich those that sit at the top of societies pyramid – the financiers, the politicians and the nobilities of the world.
I will take a short aside to address one question, why ‘pseudo’. In the same way that this world has never seen a Communist society it has also never seen a Capitalist one. The society of capital, as it exists today carries only the most obvious of the external trappings of actual Capitalism. Although the pseudo-capitalist culture espouses the dictums of Keynes, Adam Smith’s mercantilists and other great capitalist thinkers even a cursory examination of history reveals that ‘free-market’ capitalism is not the source of pseudo-capitalist culture but simply its preferred weapon to assault those that threaten its privilege – the up and coming economies of the third world. Pseudo-capitalism chooses to inhibit its opponents through the imposition of the rules of the free-market; rules that are not applied to those already in a position of pseudo-capitalist power who themselves are wholly reliant upon government subsidy and the prevention of the free movement of labour.
The reach of pseudo-capitalism has extended into every major (and most minor) areas of life in every community about the globe (including many associated with the anti-globalisation movement who are often defined by their opposition to pseudo-capitalism as opposed to a clearly stated agenda independent of it).
The pseudo-capitalist society underpins and reinforces the power structures that exist within every culture. Where individuals within a culture, through gift or historical precedent, have achieved a measure of ability to affect pseudo-capitalist society the pseudo-capitalist culture adjusts to reward them with subjectively appealing items that serve to reduce the likelihood that they will wish to alter their society (and hence risk the items they have been gifted). Hence the banker, mighty titan of commerce that he is (and it is almost always he), is upheld as an untouchable god and gifted with abstract currency with which to purchase his every whim whilst the single mother who is raising the next generation of human beings (the beings whose role will include our welfare in old age) is vilified as a drain upon society. The banker is rewarded because he has the power to alter the system should he so wish, the mother is ignored precisely because she has no such power.
Pseudo-capitalist society has redefined the historically held concept of human worth away from assigning worth to individuals who contribute the most value to society (and therefore lead to the greatest increase in happiness for the greatest number of people) to assigning worth to individuals who earn the greatest amount of abstract currency (these typically being the individuals who succeed in generating the greatest amount of currency for those above them in the hierarchy). These individuals with high pseudo-capitalist worth have the ability, should they wish to exercise it, to modify pseudo-capitalist society in many ways but rarely do so because the action of doing so would endanger their subjective worth. Example ways in which an individual of high worth could influence underlying pseudo-capitalist society include leveraging their earned capital to educate the masses regarding the true nature of the world they inhabit, or through the creation of charitable foundations dedicated to raising people with low pseudo-capitalist worth into positions of influence without instilling the systems of control that are standard for pseudo-capitalist power holders.
I noted above that the cages in which we dwell are very old and that every one of us dwells within one. There are no jailers, no guards, no cage builders (they died out long ago). The richest and most powerful among us are prisoners in just the same way as the poorest – only the richer cells are so beautifully outfitted that their inhabitants choose captivity over freedom whenever the choice is offered.