Capitalism is theft.
The harsh and subservient labors of most citizens fantastically enrich a few others who don’t have to labor at all. In general, those who work longer and harder get less. Those who work less long and less hard get more.
On the upper West Side of New York City, barely a mile apart exist neighborhoods in which the average disposable income is on the poorer side about $5,000 per year and on the richer side about $500,000 per year.
The richest people in the U.S. are worth more than the populations of whole countries. The poorest people in the U.S.live under bridges in threadbare cardboard shelters, or stop living at all.
This gap is not due to different industriousness or talent. It is due to social relations that force the many to enrich the few.
Capitalism is alienation and anti-sociality.
Within capitalism the motives guiding decisions are pecuniary not personal, selfish not social. We each seek individual advance at the expense of others.
The result, unsurprisingly, is an anti-social environment in which nice guys finish last.
In U.S.hospitals, roughly a half a million people a year die of diseases they did not have when they entered. This is in considerable part a matter of hygiene and other correctable problems.
Yet there is no massive campaign to save these lives. It would not be profitable.
Starvation the world over has the same root cause; to feed the poor is not as profitable as over feeding the rich.
What health we attain, what food we eat, what housing we inhabit, comes to us because someone was seeking not health, sustenance, or shelter for all, but profit for themselves.
Economic logic seeks profit rather than social well being. Benefits for the weak arise only as a byproduct, not an intention, and rarely at that.
As Keynes put it, “Capitalism is the astounding belief that the most wickedest of men will do the most wickedest of things for the greatest good of everyone.”
Capitalism is authoritarian.
Within capitalism’s workplaces those who labor at rote and tedious jobs have nearly zero say over the conditions, output, and purpose of their efforts.
Those who own or who monopolize empowering positions have near total say.
Not even Stalin controlled when people could rest, eat, or go to the bathroom, but corporate owners routinely exercise such power.
Corporations annihilate democracy.
Capitalism is inefficient.
Capitalism squanders the productive capacities of about 80% of the population by training them primarily to endure boredom and take orders, not to fulfill their greatest potentials.
It wastes inordinate resources on producing sales that aren’t beneficial, and on enforcing work assignments that are coerced and therefore resisted.
Capitalism is racist and sexist.
This is not intrinsic to the relations of production, but occurs because under the pressure of market competition owners inevitably exploit racial and gender hierarchies produced in other parts of society.
When extra economic factors reduce the bargaining power of some actors and raise that of others or when they impact expectations about who should rule and who should obey — seeking profit, capitalists abide and even enlarge the injustices.
Capitalism is violent.
The pursuit of capitalist market domination produces nations at odds with other nations.
Those with sufficient weaponry exploit the resources and populations of those lacking means to defend themselves, at times even unleashing unholy war.
Capitalism is unsustainable.
Markets propel short term calculations and make dumping waste on others to avoid costs an easy and unavoidable road to profit.
As a result, money grabbers accumulate and accumulate, ignoring or willfully obscuring the impact not only on workers and consumers, but also on today’s environment and tomorrow’s resources.
We see the results in sky, water, and soil, mitigated only by social movements that force wiser behavior.
I could continue detailing the morbid failings of capitalism, but I don’t think it’s necessary.
In 2004 only a relatively few people are made so immoral by their advantages, or so profoundly ignorant by their advanced educations, or so confused by media, that they fail to see that capitalism is now a gigantic holocaust of injustice that is anti-human in virtually every respect.
As John Stuart Mill put it, “I confess that I am not charmed with the ideal of life held out by those who think that the normal state of human beings is that of struggling to get on; that the trampling, crushing, elbowing, and treading on each other’s heels, which form the existing type of social life, are the most desirable lot of human beings.”
Capitalism is not a success. It is not intelligent, it is not beautiful, it is not just, it is not virtuous — and it doesn’t deliver the goods. In short, we dislike it, and we are beginning to despise it. But when we wonder what to put in its place, we are extremely perplexed. What do we want instead?
Excerpt taken from a speech by Michael Albert. See Parecon: Life After Capitalism