LESS FREEDOM AND LESS OPPORTUNITY

From capitalistManifesto
“The capitalist and consumerist ethics are two sides of the same coin, a merger of two commandments. The supreme commandment of the rich is ‘Invest!’ The supreme commandment of the rest of us is ‘Buy!’ The capitalist–consumerist ethic is revolutionary in another respect. Most previous ethical systems presented people with a pretty tough deal. They were promised paradise, but only if they cultivated compassion and tolerance, overcame craving and anger, and restrained their selfish interests. This was too tough for most. The history of ethics is a sad tale of wonderful ideals that nobody can live up to. Most Christians did not imitate Christ, most Buddhists failed to follow Buddha, and most Confucians would have caused Confucius a temper tantrum. In contrast, most people today successfully live up to the capitalist–consumerist ideal. The new ethic promises paradise on condition that the rich remain greedy and spend their time making more money and that the masses give free reign to their cravings and passions and buy more and more. This is the first religion in history whose followers actually do what they are asked to do. How though do we know that we'll really get paradise in return? We've seen it on television [and in movies].” - Yuval Noah Harari


"We take for granted that, by now, enough people should have experienced the double standards and felt firsthand the growing inequities of the government by oligarchy-plutocracy. We assume the public should have realized how governments emerging from the neoliberal 20th-century to exploit the most profit for the few, with little or no care about making life better for the many. But the people aren't seeing; at least not to the point of believing. Public memory is too haphazard. There's too much chaff.
Complex layers of institutional authority, propaganda, media, orthodoxies imposed by law, natural expediencies of consumer capitalism and the atomizing inertia of endemic class conventions maintain - and often exacerbate - an iniquitous social order, safeguarding instead the all-important continuity of inherited land, wealth, and influence. The public is guided to conspire against their own best interests.

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Every piece of the pie picked up by the 0.1 percent, in relative terms, had to come from the people below. But not everyone in the 99.9 percent gave up a slice. Only those in the bottom 90 percent did. At their peak, in the mid-1980s, people in this group held 35 percent of the nation’s wealth. Three decades later that had fallen 12 points—exactly as much as the wealth of the 0.1 percent rose.

There are too many snake-oil salesmen whose profession is persuasion, working to legitimize the status quo by pushing at pressure points of fear, vanity, greed, self-esteem, perceived community, established faith, to make conforming to the paradigm as it is presented an almost foregone conclusion. Compounding the problem, too many counter-culture contrarians compete for airtime, building satellite business models by proposing - and perpetuating - high-minded but unworkable, idealistic solutions that'd need a magic wand to bridge the gap between theory and practice; or else read the next article, watch the next episode, subscribe to the inner circle.

Here's one of the more subtle examples of the snake-oil. In this case, an ego-massaging evolution on "I'm Alright, Jack" self-interest (to the exclusion of the Untermensch 'other'): "In between the top 0.1 percent and the bottom 90 percent is a group that has been doing just fine. It has held on to its share of a growing pie decade after decade. And as a group, it owns substantially more wealth than do the other two combined. In the tale of three classes, it is represented by the gold line floating high and steady while the other two duke it out. You’ll find the new aristocracy there. We are the 9.9 percent." - Matthew Stewart, The Atlantic [1]

If you are starting at the median for people of color, you’ll want to practice your financial pole-vaulting [if you want to get into the top 10%. The Institute for Policy Studies calculated that, setting aside money invested in “durable goods” such as furniture and a family car, the median black family had net wealth of $1,700 in 2013, and the median Latino family had $2,000, compared with $116,800 for the median white family. A 2015 study in Boston found that the wealth of the median white family there was $247,500, while the wealth of the median African American family was $8. That is not a typo. That’s two grande cappuccinos. [2]

There are few reliable places for an individual to go, to learn what needs to be learned about today's real world, in plain language with no prior knowledge necessary. Most ideological resources serve the status quo or else seek to indoctrinate a particular political agenda e.g. one-sided information:

  • to establish the Untermensch (and by association Ubermensch)
  • to frame a subject in team-game context
  • to engender a reliance on a small coterie of trusted sources
  • to create fear of foreign evil
  • to justify capitalist excess
  • to inculcate principles of socialism
  • to fan the flames of nationalism
  • to pander conspiracy-libertarianism
  • to misdirect from the crimes of the corporate oligarchy
  • to sacrifice or eulogize individual front-facing actors

There are so many stakeholders in our entrenched power dynamics, it's almost impossible for the average citizen to sort the wheat from the chaff, particularly as the lower down the social and educational scale, the narrower the horizons of experience, the more proximate the pressure of toil and necessity, the more intense the bias-conditioning and the more constant ever-adapting misdirection.

GOVERNMENT LEADERSHIP?

“Governments are deemed to succeed or fail by how well they make money go round, regardless of whether it serves any useful purpose. They regard it as a sacred duty to encourage the country’s most revolting spectacle: the annual feeding frenzy in which shoppers queue all night, then stampede into the shops, elbow, trample and sometimes fight to be the first to carry off some designer junk which will go into landfill before the sales next year. The madder the orgy, the greater the triumph of economic management.” - George Monbiot

YOUTH?

“But even in the much-publicized rebellion of the young against the materialism of the affluent society, the consumer mentality is too often still intact: the standards of behavior are still those of kind and quantity, the security sought is still the security of numbers, and the chief motive is still the consumer's anxiety that he is missing out on what is "in." In this state of total consumerism - which is to say a state of helpless dependence."