The chief defense capitalism has used to save itself from its oppressions has been the elevation of a portion of the population to some sort of middle class. No longer feeling the agonies of the lower working and poor classes, they side with Capital in its conservatism for they now feel the need for the economic security and stability it promises.
We have seen this trend over the last century (or two) whereby the economically marginalised have become politically marginalised by the elevation of a sufficient proportion of their ranks to the middle class, to the level of sustaining income. The poor that are left behind are too small a minority to effectively promote a political agenda that would either share the wealth or make it accessible to them through work.
Capital still rides in the King's coach, however. Money is still the measure of human worth and big money is still the value most deemed worthwhile in the public arena. That is, personally we admire the creators of fabulous fortunes (and even their heirs), and publicly our laws still favor property and wealth over any truly worthwhile criteria (life, liberty, love, art, etc.).
This would all seem to be admirable - a just defense - if it were not so monochromatic. To remain in the middle classes, the majority of the population must make earning money, and money itself, their priority - scrambling to stay in place, fearing the disasters that will inevitably befall them in even slight economic dislocations. This emphasis creates a corrosive feedback loop, usurping peoples values and making the accumulation of more "wealth" (for it not truly wealth but merely clutter) their primary life goal. All else awaits cash, all else comes second.
This is where my worries about it start, my vision of the "problem". For while we have certainly acheived a largely fed and housed population, the overvaluation of Capital has never been set aside. In its scheme to retain power and primacy it has reduced or destroyed the potential and opportunity for real happiness for its servants.
Those who would try to reorder their priorities find themselves struggling for the basic necessities, alienated by popular culture and politics. If they try to share their vision, they are drowned out or even silenced by the counterpoised weight of the dominant media. They find themselves isolated by the lack of a central doctrine or tenet to organise around - they shout alone in the darkness to unhearing ears.
These distractions are "chosen" by the "consumer" who only knows that something is missing, the need to escape the rat race they live in... when it is not to escape that is required but but a complete reordering of principles! The subjugation of Capital to its rightful position as a tool for all of us, in its place amidst so many other important human needs, and not the dominant force in our lives.
5/6/00 - 3 AM
© Huw Powell