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The moral poverty of American capitalism

By Jason Miller  Posted by Amanda Lang (about the submitter)     Permalink
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Rolling through virtually any reasonably populous city or town in America, one encounters a surreal landscape blighted by grotesque temples to America 's twin gods of Capitalism and Consumerism. As an increasing number of individual proprietors are driven to extinction, Wal-Mart, McDonald 's, and hundreds more leviathan corporations continue their rapid construction of more houses of worship to serve their zealous congregation. Once inside, many Americans gleefully sacrifice an abundance of their greenbacks at altars attended by Consumerism 's unwitting acolytes.

For appallingly meager wages and benefits, the cashiers tending the sacred Churches of Capitalism and Consumerism gather the offerings which enable their fellow faithful to reap the fruits of practicing their devotion.

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Good little Consumers can receive a veritable cornucopia of "blessings " which include working in jobs amounting to indentured servitude, obesity, insurmountable debt, insularity from the rest of the world, unwitting support of a merciless militaristic regime which is evolving into fascism, idolatrous worship of celebrities and money, facilitation of obscene concentration of wealth into the hands of a few, and participation in the severe desecration of our environment.

They may exist in a spiritual wasteland, but at least those Americans who are fortunate enough to find themselves in the shrinking middle class have access to basic human necessities, some creature comforts, and relative stability and safety (at least for the short term). However, a growing number of Americans find themselves wandering in a barren desert, lacking both sustenance for the soul and the corporeal "blessings " bestowed upon the middle class wage earners by the high priests of Capitalism and Consumerism.

How Did This Nightmare Evolve?

As the Magna Charta emerged and evolved, and the United States Constitution was conceived and implemented, "feudalism " and monarchy began to gasp their dying breaths. Ostensibly, the rule of law was superseding the rule of men to deliver a sound measure of justice and equality.

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In truth, humanity simply traded one set of tyrants for another. To this day many still cling to the myth that the United States is the nexus of freedom, equality and human rights. Yet the constitutional republic of the United States was forged primarily by white men, many of whom were wealthy land owners looking to free themselves from the tyranny of King George while preserving their narrow interests. The fact that there was significant resistance to the inclusion of the Bill of Rights in the Constitution speaks volumes of the priorities of many of our Founding Fathers.

In creating a powerful federal government, minimizing the decision-making power of the poor and working class to occasional elections of representatives (while limiting the impact of their votes by forming the Electoral College), ignoring the Native American population, and maintaining the legality of slavery, our founders created a nation which afforded freedom and equality almost exclusively to white males who possessed a measure of wealth.

America 's propertied ruling class quickly learned to manipulate their laws to exploit the rest of the population in ways not unlike their predecessors who reigned from thrones. As they lived like lords and kings, the elites of the United States basked in the glow of admiration of their "enlightened values. " Over the years they showed their true colors to the world by engaging in numerous imperialistic endeavors, nearly wiping out the Native American population, and fighting progressive movements like Abolition and Women 's Suffrage with virtually every fiber of their collective being.

Capitalism: Economic Rule of the Rich, by the Rich, for the Rich

Founded on the principles of individual liberty and self-determination (for white male property owners), the nascent United States provided fertile ground for the seeds of Capitalism. Conditions such as slavery, explosive growth in the number of banks, America 's powerful drive to expand its territory, neutral trade during the war between Great Britain and France, and ultimately, the Industrial Revolution enabled American Capitalism to grow into a thriving jungle.

By the late nineteenth century, trusts and monopolies flourished. Laissez faire economic policy prevented the government "of the people " from meddling in the wealthy elite 's obscene human and environmental exploitation. America 's plutocracy was living large while the rest of the population struggled and suffered.

For years, America 's schools and media have inculcated us with the notion that Capitalism is the superlative socioeconomic system in the history of humankind. In spite of the "feel good " propaganda intended to keep us pacified, working, and consuming, there is a very dark side to the much vaunted American Way.

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"America's abundance was created not by public sacrifices to the common good, but by the productive genius of free men who pursued their own personal interests and the making of their own private fortunes."

Thank you, Ayn Rand, for affirming the naked brutality and avarice of America 's socioeconomic system, a system which enables a privileged few who "play the game " well to mercilessly pursue their personal interests, amass private fortunes, and hoard the lion 's share of "America 's abundance. "

The economy of the United States, which possesses many elements of commonly accepted definitions of Capitalism, is tempered to some degree by components which would more appropriately be attributed to Socialism or Progressive Utilization Theory (PROUT), socioeconomic systems devoted in large part to ensuring the welfare of society as a whole and which value humans as sentient beings rather than commodities.

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