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Capitalism, Ivory-Tower Theory Vs. Empirical Reality

Essay by   •  June 30, 2011  •  Essay  •  1,561 Words (7 Pages)  •  1,930 Views

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This is the tired refrain we often hear from the religiously devout apologists and advocates of capitalism: "It's unfair to lambaste capitalism with the flaws of our economic system, because our economic system isn't at all true to the core and classic principles of capitalism. If we only had a system that was fastidiously faithful to the philosophy of capitalism then everyone would see what a brilliant and splendorous system capitalism really is."

Translation: "I just want to think and talk about what a lovely, lofty system the "free market" is in theory, I don't wish to confront the hard-to-defend reality of the socioeconomic injustice and human wretchedness that masses of working-poor and unemployed people are forced to routinely endure as they struggle to survive under capitalism."

The harsh and dehumanizing reality of capitalism, for the information of any free-marketarian ideologue who hasn't been down from his ivory tower lately, is as follows. Firstly, a morally unjustifiable asymmetry in the distribution of wealth, with the result that a predatory and plutocratic few enjoy extreme and opulent affluence while the plebian bulk of humanity suffers moderate to extreme poverty and privation (some literally scrounging in garbage dumps for barely edible foodstuffs to sustain their malnourished bodies).

Secondly, capitalism is an inherently dehumanizing system not merely because it degrades men and women with insulting and infra dig indigence, but because it objectifies them into mere factory robots, and supermarket checker robots, and office worker robots, etc., performing menial and servile tasks that generate revenue for owners. That is, under capitalism human individuals are no longer treated as such, instead they're constrained by the system to accept an existential state of affairs in which they're stereotyped as, related to as, and valued (or disvalued) as their commercial function, their role in the commerce of the market, i.e. their cog-like job in the economic machine . An economic machine that's geared to use people, to turn them into means to the ends, to the profits of their employers.

From a humanistic point of view then, the fundamental and enormous sin of capitalism is that it de-dignifies us into things, things that serve someone else's selfish purposes. And spiritually, this endemic capitalistic thingification and exploitation of working people does us the ultimate injury by alienating us from our own inner creative nature. That is, instead of our economic productivity being experienced as an expression of our indwelling quantum of divine creativity and ingenuity, it's reduced to an exploitable resource that belongs to a boss or corporation - we're effectively estranged from our ultimate nature and immanent godlikeness. It's not at all a rhetorical exaggeration to say that capitalism's commodification of ordinary Joes and Janes into wage-earning chattel excommunicates them from the beatitude of their own personal portion of cosmic creativity, that it condemns us to a spiritually forlorn state of living without a keen conscious sense of Transcendence actualizing itself through our daily constructive activities.

Doesn't this pretty much cover the existential and ethical badness of capitalism? What more can really be said against our system of predaceous and parasitic "private enterprise"? Well, there is the underlying primitive alpha dog mentality that capitalism in both theory and practice is predicated upon and promotes. Since I'm engaged in critically slicing through capitalism's bourgeois and Babbittish baloney I'd be quite remiss if I neglected to mention that modern capitalism is just the same old sour and foul-tasting wine of to the strong go all the spoils in new ideological wineskins.

In the grandiose guise of the "free market", capitalism gives the ole heave-ho to the last 2,500 years of man's ethical growth and returns us to a system of society in which the only socioeconomic law in operation is the law of the jungle - dominate or be dominated. A system in which individuals are shamelessly unfettered from acting upon their animalistic aspiration to achieve and exercise social dominance over their neighbor. A system in which the brutelike striving for social dominance takes the crass form of economic dominance, and in which economic dominance is reached by ruthlessly and rapaciously reaping the fruits of other people's labors and losses so as to become "rich". The modern "rich man" is just a Neanderthaloid alpha male (or female) dressed up in a business suit and Rolex watch. The vaunted freedom of the "free market" boils down to little more than society granting people the licentious and amoral permission to conduct themselves in an atavistically self-assertive and avaricious fashion.

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