|Weekend at Bernie's 2: Electric Boogaloo
||[Apr. 6th, 2005|12:59 am]
The Kleptocracy of Nimrod
|||||The Police-Don't Stand So Close to Me||]|
I produced this for a philosophy course I'm taking, but I felt like it had enough merit to be posted as it's own article. Also, I haven't written anything new in ages. Part of the assignment was to incorporate a course document into the essay, so that's why there's so many references back to Marx's "Communist Manifesto". Anyone who actually reads the entirety of these leftist ravings gets another "#1 Dad" award. I realize updates have been few, but things have been hectic 'round here. This is indicated by the fact that I'm listening to music created by the artist formerly known as Gordon Sumner, and my "stressed" emoticon. Oh, Internet, your mediums of expression are infinite!
Karl Marx penned more than a century and a half ago, “The need of a constantly expanding market for [their] products chases the bourgeoisie over the entire surface of the globe.” Though his words are dated, their meaning is more poignant now than ever. With the modern capitalistic machine so engorged, there can be nothing more certain at this juncture of human civilization than the negative effects of free trade upon all nations of the world. None would claim that such a system is without it’s sparse benefits, or that it has not accomplished it’s goal of generating the outrageous fortunes implicit in it’s doctrine. Nor can any deny the great monuments to commerce edified in the heart of every city, looming as glimmering watchtowers over the great slums that commingle with such displays of commercial might. However, these achievements have come at a terrible cost, and a cost which will continue to be paid many times over to facilitate the further expansion of the global market, as Marx predicted. For contingent with capitalism is the hunger for profit; contingent with free trade the abolition of regulation. These needs encourage the emergence of societies based around profit, and the subjugation of government to commercial authority. This ruthless pursuit of monetary gain and deregulation has already begun to lead the world down a path of globalization which may soon be too encompassing to halt. All vestiges of familiar civilization, culture, government, family, philosophy, are being dissolved into a single global incarnation of the capitalist ideal. Marx’s “Communist Manifesto” is correct in predicting the rise of damaging globalization and bourgeois oligarchies, because of the inherent tendencies of capitalist societies.
As a necessity of a “constantly expanding market”, no nation can be allowed to maintain true self-sufficiency apart from global commerce. As maximally successful capitalism is dependent on free trade, all impediments to this goal must be eliminated or undermined. In this case, the impediment is a strong, independent or overly democratic government. The government is the greatest obstacle to international commercial control, and, by necessity, the first to fall. With it’s demise or pacification all other regional aspects of cultural individuality are free to be assimilated into the larger corporate landscape.
“Strong”, or socialized, government is de-socialized in order to open up more efficient, privatized markets. Just as in the collapse of old feudal mercantilism, “all old-established national industries [are] destroyed or are daily being destroyed.” Though modern “national industries” do not entail the guilds of old, they are forged in the same spirit. These new, governed markets typically encompass health care, education, defense, and social service; services cannot safely be run for profit. Privatized defense makes it profitable to go to war, privatized medicine makes disease profitable, privatized education and social service discriminates against the poor, and on and on. Yet, even these domestic markets can be ripped open by corporate interests for exploitation and government enervation. These interests demand the engorgement of every market to consolidate commercial power, and so falls the strong government, privatized into enfeeblement.
The independent government cannot be allowed to maintain self-sufficiency, because their people and lands represent an untapped market, and potential resources. They are an impediment to free trade. Again, one can reflect on history to see that mercantilism was inefficient and a growing world demanded less barriers on trade. Capitalism filled this void, but it expanded beyond any expectation. Soon destroyed were “…the old local and national seclusion and self-sufficiency,” only to be overtaken by “intercourse in every direction,” as Marx contends. Independence was made impossible by the cheap goods of the world market, and any country that did not want to be left in the dust of market expansion acquiesced. Marx said of the phenomenon that,
“It compels all nations, on pain of extinction, to adopt the bourgeois mode of production; it compels them to introduce what it calls civilization into their midst, i.e., to become bourgeois themselves. In one word, it creates a world after its own image.”
The old imperial armies are now only specters; the conquering legions of the modern era are the merchants of the past. One can only expect a ideology bent on increasing trade to take such action. Consideration is not given to locality, or culture, or rights; profit is the only determining factor. As the boundaries of trade are stripped to the bone, sovereignty falls from the hands of government and is taken up by those international corporations endowed with the new authority of commerce. Self-determination becomes just another right stolen from the public and thrust into the aegis of bourgeois dominion.
Be the government strong or weak, independent or multicultural, it is the good, democratic society which is dealt the greatest blow by these globalizing forces. Marx speaks of the “battle of democracy” that will be waged between the proletariat and the bourgeois. The impetus for this battle is the simple fact that great wealth and true democracy can never exist side by side. In any democratic society, every person must have an equal say in the government. Power is invested in elected leaders, who are held to task by the citizens who elected them into office. Capital is the tool which circumvents this system. It gives the rich greater say than others. Corporate interests supersede individual interests, as the government is paid off to re-prioritize. Money creates power independent of the government; creates rulers who answer to no one but themselves. All of the principles that a democracy is founded on can be undermined with coercion of wealth.
So, the governments are dissolved by the vitriol of global trade, the sovereign are forced into place, and the democratic are corrupted by with the fetters of excessive wealth. And from all of this “progress” the disparity of wealth is maintained, now only on a much greater scale. Logic dictates that the rich colonizers become more wealthy and scant, and the poor colonies become more impoverished and populous, their lands useful only as the bourgeois’ “raw material drawn from the remotest zone.” Springing from these changes comes a great and terribly unifying force. With the floodgates opened for the engorgement of capital in all lands, the wealthy begin the exporting the dread product of their own culture to the poor vassal states.
It is in this homogeny of corporate domination that society is being reformed in the image of the system it has embraced, and cultures diffused into the seething mass of globalizing commerce. In the “Communist Manifesto”, Marx addresses a hypothetical bourgeois on the nature of cultural impression, stating,
Ideas are but the outgrowth of the conditions of your bourgeois production and bourgeois property, just as your jurisprudence is but the will of your class made into a law for all, a will whose essential character and direction are determined by the economical conditions of existence of your class.”
With wealth as the new social focus, those with money begin to dictate the new dimensions of society. Cultural direction is steered by wealth, instead of the collective thought needed for moral growth. The values of the rich are laid upon all, and validated as the key to “success,” which is now quantified by material gain. Law is derived from the wealthy rather than the wise; culture is divined from the few instead of the many. Power and influence is heaped upon fewer and fewer, and the role of the populous relegated to that of adherent. This is exemplified in Marx’s statement that, “…man's consciousness, changes with every change in the conditions of his material existence, in his social relations and in his social life[.]” As social relations and life become fixed around materialism and desire for capital gain, none can be left untouched; all fall victim to social assimilation.
Furthermore, individual cultures are steamrolled by the colossal force of the new bicameral “global culture”. Even within the system cultural aspects are relegated to fewer entities, as international corporations buy out weaker companies. The oligopoly emerges, with several conglomerates deciding what shops and products will be in each city, each town, building a new landscape in their image. Needless to say, the individual artisan is elbowed out by the efficacy of their larger, corporate brethren. This result is simply the logical end stage of competitive capital; cultural unification, for better or worse. As Marx puts it, “separate interests, laws, governments, and systems of taxation, [become] lumped together into one nation, with one government, one code of laws, one national class interest, one frontier, and one customs tariff.” The only cultural dissension comes between the wealthy and the impoverished. With the need to mass produce the products to feed the materialistic desires of any capitalistic society, the poor are forced to fabricate products for the wealthy. As a result, the proletariat culture becomes that of one based solely around production and manufacturing. “That culture…is, for the enormous majority, a mere training to act as a machine,” as Marx says. The logical extension of the free market is a world horribly united under one homogenous global culture, with a rift only for those in paradise and those in penury.
The deepest wound of all, that inflicted on the possible future of world research, social thought, and child development, has not yet been fully realized. This potential harm is the most difficult to observe, for no one can measure the impact that the free market has had, and will have, on those institutions which toil for the betterment of mankind. Medicine and other sciences are forced to meet the tides which sway the global markets, and research what is potentially profitable over what is most valuable to mankind. Just as capitalism has the capacity to waste effort by producing luxury goods over clothing for the poor or food, so too can viable research be ignored in favor of technological fripperies. Government, like research, is also directed towards accommodating the global hegemony of capital. Policy is formed based on the desires of the commercial interests which have taken hold of the political structure, instead of accommodating the people. What hopefully more altruistic ends these institutions might have explored, had they not been shackled to imperious weight of the market is open to hypothesis.
On a more individual level, the system has converted every life under it’s auspices into a quest for monetary satisfaction above all else. Though societal effects on the human psyche are nebulous, having all from “the physician, the lawyer, the priest, the poet, the man of science” exist as nothing more than “paid wage laborers” cannot be an innocuous alteration. Lives spent in an obsession with capital gain will never be as satisfying as those spent in pursuit of personal fulfillment. By diluting the mass of population into vassals of an oligarchic authority even greater disenfranchisement with authority could take hold than is already experienced in most countries. Nihilism will promulgate, not because people perceive their roles as unimportant, but because their roles will become less important. The cog in the machine will cease to be a metaphor, and become a reality. Family too, is reasonably estimated by Marx to be another crucible for the tempest of capitalistic social engineering. Even in Marx’s era he believed that, “the bourgeoisie has torn away from the family its sentimental veil, and has reduced the family relation into a mere money relation.” That family units should function only as a larger method of generating capital undermines every virtuous intent behind child-rearing and marriage. Families are broken from pursuit of wealth in the sense that parents are away toiling for the necessary labor to produce extraneous capital goods rather than nurturing their children, which says nothing of the impact that a profit based society might have upon the formative minds of the young. As traditional family role models will be vacated by toiling parents, they will be filled again by the corporate culture foisted upon children through advertising and media. All old and distinct culture will be washed away by successive generations raised under the trademarked lifestyle of commercialization. The vestiges of the past will disappear from the memory of the new youth culture, born into a culture they’ve never known an alternative, and that they didn’t create. Here again, only speculation can be levied as to the possible damage done to man’s own mind, and that of his offspring, and his very own future.
Capitalism’s nature encourages brutal competition, and out of each successive trade war of the past has emerged fewer companies, with less bondage to morality than the last. This pure capitalism is animalistic, and decidedly uncivilized in it’s irrationality. Each commercial entity must evolve their ability to exploit the populous and circumvent authority in order to survive. The global players devour each other, each refinement bringing about a more efficient company, leaving only a dearth of oligarchs to rule. They must then continue to spread their bile outward, like a consuming juggernaut, grasping at what foreign markets are left and incorporating them into a cobbled network of profit. Like a wildfire they consume all in sight to fuel their own existence, leaving a scorched plain in their wake; a plain united as one neutral, identical swath of ash. The fire shines with the utmost decadence until it exhausts the last of it’s fuel, and collapses in on itself. Marx has warned of the flames licking at the world’s heels; immolation is the reward for acquiescence.