November 2016        

Capitalism v. society

Jimmy Doran

In a world where people are passive, apathetic, diverted by consumerism and manipulated by the media view of society, it’s no wonder that reality gets confused. This is capitalism as it lulls sections of society into a sense of well-being, which allows the ruling class to do whatever they like in their endless pursuit of profit and charge us for the privilege of being exploited.
     It is considered a treat to bring the kids to McDonald’s for a happy meal of burgers and chips. This “happy meal” is in fact some of the unhealthiest junk food available, served in a chain that is renowned the world over for exploiting young workers, with poor pay and conditions and zero-hour contracts.
     There’s nothing happy about this meal. It’s a sad state of affairs when adults treat their kids to this rubbish. What sort of a message is this giving to them?
     To wash this junk down you can treat them to a supersized Coke, which contains more sugar than the daily allowance for an adult. It’s no wonder that levels of child obesity are going through the roof as we treat our kids to supersized cups of corporate poison.
     Coca-Cola is a notorious union-busting transnational corporation that has been accused of everything from blacklisting to the murder of workers who dare to organise in a union and fight for their share of the wealth they produce.
     What about other forms of family entertainment? What passes as family entertainment on television? Individualism and competition are the order of the day. Have you the X factor, or are you the best on ice, the dance floor, in the jungle, etc.? The entertainment is the public humiliation, ridicule and abuse dished out by the media-appointed expert judges on participants who don’t live up to the expectations of a live audience worked up into a frenzy by the television company. This is now widely accepted as family entertainment. It’s no wonder there’s so much bullying in society, and that youth suicide rates have have gone off the Richter scale, when family entertainment is nothing short of public humiliation and bullying.
     Governments give grants and tax breaks to corporations to facilitate research on new products to benefit society. The corporations then sell these new products back to us at extortionate rates—for example €200,000 for a course of medicine to treat a child with cystic fibrosis. No good will here for the grants received! Pharmaceutical companies don’t produce cures for disease: they produce new customers.
     The EU Central Bank and International Monetary Fund “gave” Ireland a “bail-out” to pay off the debts of banks and to stop them from collapsing. Then they charged us huge interest on these “bail-out” loans, amounting to €40 billion over the last five years, which is two-thirds of the original €64 billion loan (which still has to be paid back in full). This is not a “bail-out”: it’s a transfer of wealth from the ordinary citizens of Ireland to the European banks.
     The United States and its allies in NATO start wars all over the world to control resources while creating new markets for their corporations, not to mention the huge arms industries, which are a substantial part of their economies. A cut of eight days in global military spending would provide enough funds to give all the children of the world access to education for twelve years.
     They market these wars as people’s uprisings and liberation struggles to overthrow brutal dictators. It seems that revolutions are all right in countries where they will end up controlling their finances through the World Bank, the IMF, and their corporations. Uprisings and liberation wars in Syria and Libya are grand, but not those in Cuba or Viet Nam.
     Capitalism always has unemployment. There is never full employment, but there is always plenty of work to be done. For example, there’s a housing crisis; our hospitals and health service are in chaos; half our water is lost through leaks; our prisons are overcrowded; we don’t have enough teachers—the list of work available is endless.
     Why, then, if all this work exists, are there so many people unemployed? It’s because we live in a world where work has no relationship to the needs of society. Work is only related to making profit for capital and to create huge wealth for a tiny few (the richest 64 people in the world have more wealth than the poorest 3.6 billion) while the rest of us are exploited and struggle from day to day in a life of worry and toil.
     Society was not built by big business: it was built by the blood, sweat and tears of generations of workers. The working class should control the work to be done and plan it in the interests of society, rather than for the profit of the few. So long as it is controlled by big business, society’s needs will never be met, and people will suffer.
     Instead of a fulfilled, well-fed, educated society with ample leisure time and life expectancy we will have a very unequal society, where a tiny minority of people control the wealth of the world in their own interests and the rest of humanity are tricked into creating this wealth for the few, and being told that there is no alternative.
     There is enough in this world for everybody’s needs, but not for anybody’s greed.

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