The Disease that is Capitalism

The class system in America is an entrapment. Many people who graduate high school, graduate believing capitalism means freedom, and that communism and socialism are “bad”. The fact is that the capitalist system is no more than a mental trick. It is fundamentally built on the promise that people will incessantly strive to be the best which acts as a constant distraction ( one may forever strive to get ahead, but there will always be another obstacle to overcome, thus people are put on a neverending treadmill, believing it’s a race to a finish line). Doing this causes many to never even consider whether or not it is effective because they’re all too distracted with the goal at hand. The class system is also isolating, keeping people pitted against one another; powerless, as opposed to powerful and united. Capitalism promotes a mind that cannot be fulfilled within – for it promotes materialistic gain and says nothing of inner wealth – leading to increased consumerist habits and therefore more profit for the wealthy. Unfortunately, capitalism is more than just a socioeconomic system; it is a way of living that permeates all aspects of life, promoting objectification of living beings, worship of money, the glorification of suffering, and personal beliefs that ultimately lead to emptiness, addiction, and insecurity.

Indoctrination into the capitalist mindset begins with education. The public education system is government run, and therefore one would think it would have less to do with money and more to do with building a strong societal foundation. However, this is not the case, for the extremely wealthy control the government. In fact, in a study conducted by Princeton University and reported on by The Washington Times, government policy is highly affected by the interests of the wealthy elite and big business representatives, and very rarely does government policy coincide with the interests of the general population, especially the working poor (Chumley, Washington Times). What this means is that the government controls the education system, but the wealthy control the government. Because of this, the wealthy essentially control the education system. This makes one wonder whether or not the fact that capitalism is promoted in in the classroom (Ken) is due to its benefits or due to the puppeteers that are part of the few that actually thrive from capitalism.

The promotion of capitalism in the classroom later spreads every aspect of daily life. Capitalism is by nature isolating. It promotes the idea of getting ahead, yet to get ahead, one must leave others behind. What this does is destroys any sense of community or unity, and as the old saying goes, “ United we stand, divided we fall.” Capitalism as an isolating, competitive system, keeps people in constant competition with one another. This begins in education with grades, rewarding the people who receive good grades and giving less positive attention to those who don’t. Essentially, the school system is simply a machine designed to assign life-lasting roles by “ tag[ging] the unfit – with poor grades, remedial placement, and other punishments – clearly enough so that their peers will accept them as inferior.” ( Gatto 147). This role-assigning function of secondary education prepares the unfit to work at low jobs whilst simultaneously preparing a “small fraction of … kids {that] will quietly be taught how to manage this continuing project, how to watch over and control a population deliberately dumbed down and declawed in order that the government might proceed unchallenged and corporations might never want for obedient labor.” ( Gatto 147). This is a system that continuously fortifies the small elitist group leading the majority of The People. In essence, the public education system is conditioning the students to accept our oligarchical world under the delusion that it is what is best for everyone.

This sort of mental training to think like a capitalist occurs outside of the classroom as well in various forms of media. From a young age, not only are children taught to act and behave according to assigned roles, but they are also taught how to be good consumers. Capitalism is at its core a philosophy that encourages people to gain money and goods in order to be valuable; the person with the most things is the person with the most value and success. Media teaches children what beauty is, what success is, what being “cool” looks like, and lays out what social life should be like before the child even has a network of friends to create a social life. This leads to children developing insecurities about themselves, their body, their abilities, as well as simultaneously encouraging them to want more and more items; to “upgrade” their wealth and themselves. When humans grow up with such insecurity and low self-esteem, essentially empty of self-fulfillment, they are more prone to search for satisfaction elsewhere. When they are simultaneously taught that consuming is good and the more they have the more they’re worth – which also implies the less the have, the less they’re worth – their insecurity is being exploited. Basically, the media does this: They teach people to be insecure and unsatisfied with themselves, leading to low self worth. Then they teach people that the more you have, the more you’re worth. This causes a constant striving to “own” more and more objects, with the hope that at some point, they will have enough. But they never will. With this false promise in mind, people are guaranteed to head to the mall and buy plenty of unnecessary items in an effort to feel some twinkle of value. This is a mass-cultural brainwashing. Even with the intervention of strong parental teaching, media is impossible to escape due to its prevalence; at every turn there is an advertisement or promotion.

Lack of fulfillment is further ingrained in the general public by the importance we have placed on the concept of future, in the way that we are constantly working in the present for the sake of future security. In America’s culture, an activity is not noble or important unless is it an act of preparation. The present is only valuable in terms of the future rewards it will reap. In the first eighteen years of a child’s life, children are told countless times “ do this so that you will have a good future.” or “ I know this sucks now, but it will all pay off later on.” What this does is distracts the general population from the present problems, causing them to constantly seek and act for the promise of a better future and ignore what is happening right now. The problem is, though, that the future is always in the future. If one is in it for the future, they will always be in it for the future, because when tomorrow turns into today, they will already be worrying about the next day. Because of this, we have become blind. We are seekers of a better tomorrow rather than creators of a better today, and because the future never comes, we are constantly looking for it, while the elitist exploiters are running around in the present messing things up. It’s good for them though, because if we are constantly looking somewhere else that doesn’t really exist, they can do whatever they want right under our noses without us even knowing.

Then there is the devious creation of the middle class. In a capitalist society, the middle class serves the purpose of isolating people under the power of the elitist group from other people also under the power of the elitist group. Divide the same group into two separate groups – the middle and working class – and pit them against eachother, then the elites needn’t worry about the attention being placed on them. The middle class are simply people who do not create a lot of surplus value ( Pat) and therefore are of no use to the elitist class. Because of this, the concept of middle class arose from the elitist minds, simply to isolate the working poor who produce wealth for the elitist class from the ones who are much less useful. Basically what the concept of middle class does is divide people from one another, making people in the working class different than people in the middle class. By putting some people in the middle class and some in the working class, people are separated, destroying the power of “collective thought, action, and struggle.” (Pat). While the working class creates all the wealth and production for the elitist group, the useless middle class is slowly shrinking and falling into the working class without resistance, because the middle class have bought into the belief of being well off, and this belief persists through financial hardship until they are thrown so far into the life of working class that they can no longer resist the fact of being poor.

This is the nature of America. America is built on capitalism, from economics to social class to education to the daily emotional and intellectual lives of its citizens, capitalism has infected all corners of American life. This does not mean the situation cannot be changed; for this infection has an antidote. Capitalism is built on educating people on certain principles ( Self worth equals materialistic gain, one must get ahead in this world, etc) and therefore it can be destroyed by educating people as well; but this time on the principle(s) of truth. Society is simply a collective interaction of individuals. These interactions connect us together, turning us from a group of individuals to an interconnected web. What happens when one strand of the web is plucked? The whole web vibrates. In the same way, the wellbeing of each citizen affects the collective well being of society. Fundamentally, every single citizen is an important part of society. So then, the disillusionment of every single individual permanently and crucially changes society. The necessary action is simple: educate others. Show others why this system doesn’t work. Have discussions, if only with a few people. Use social media to get the word out. Start your own blog. If you can reach out to even a few people and change their minds, then you have changed the fate of the world. Keep your children away from the gross, selfish, insecurity-provoking side of media. Teach them to love and to care. If everyone cared about the wellbeing of everyone else, capitalism – or rather the suffering that it brings – would crumble, for it is built on self-serving, seeking principles. What we need is the freedom that capitalism allows, without the selfish mindset that comes along with it. We need altruistic actions every day. We need to restore the communal mindset that capitalism has attempted to break. We need more lovers, more questioners, and more true educators. You can be all of these things… Divided we fall, united we stand.

Works Cited

Barile, Pat. “The Middle Class Is an Illusion to Keep Workers from Rising Up.” The Middle Class. Ed. David M. Haugen, Susan Musser, and Vickey Kalambakal. Detroit: Greenhaven Press, 2010. Opposing Viewpoints. Rpt. from “The ‘Middle Class’ and the Working Class.” People’s Weekly World 23 Apr. 2005. Opposing Viewpoints in Context. Web. 18 Nov. 2014.

The middle class is an imaginary concept that relates to a “strata” of standards in between the capitalist class – the very wealthy – and the working class; which are the people who work in production; they create the wealth. The middle class is an obstacle standing in the way of progress because it is defined by a range of income, thereby excluding all poor and working class peoples, which essentially divides American citizens rather than uniting them.

Miller, Jason. “Capitalism Promotes Enslavement and Exploitation.” American Values. Ed. David M. Haugen. Detroit: Greenhaven Press, 2009. Opposing Viewpoints. Rpt. from “American Capitalism and the Moral Poverty of Nations: Of Faustian Bargains and Disposable Human Beings.” Thomas Paine’s Corner. 2006. Opposing Viewpoints in Context. Web. 18 Nov. 2014.

America claimed to be built on freedom, but it was discriminatory from the get-go, favoring white males and supporting exploitation of human beings. Today this trend is still apparent as America is built on consumerism and capitalism. Citizens flock to giant, powerful corporations, surrendering their money for goods, further enabling the capitalist giants. America’s socioeconomic system has turned humans as well as mother nature into simple objects of exploitation to attempt to satisfy an insatiable need to have more money. Driven by greed, the giants nearly monopolize all markets, putting many out of business and leading many to resort to homelessness. It gets even worse as the “victims” of the capitalist system are then “criminalized” which is evident in our overall treatment of the homeless.

Boettcher, Ken. “Capitalism Must Be Overthrown.” Social Justice. Ed. William Dudley. San Diego: Greenhaven Press, 2005. Opposing Viewpoints. Rpt. from “Capitalism Is Obscene.” People July 2002. Opposing Viewpoints in Context. Web. 18 Nov. 2014.

The world’s wealthiest 497 people possess more wealth than the collective income of the poorest half of the world. One would think that such a fact would motivate many to take action and fight, but this is not the case. Why, one may ask. It is because those who have gathered up most of the wealth for themselves use that wealth to control much more than the economic system. The extremely wealthy have power over the media and the education system as well, using both to promote capitalism and the capitalist paradigm. This does not mean there is no hope, for a capitalist system is by nature unstable and cyclical, and each economic crash turns more and more against the system. We can all join the fight and protest capitalism, promote socialism, and educate others on the advantages and pitfalls of each.

“America is an oligarchy, not a democracy or republic, university study finds; The defining moment for climate change has come and gone, again.” Cheryl K. Chumley; Washington Times [Washington, DC] 22 Apr. 2014. Opposing Viewpoints in Context. Web. 4 Dec. 2014.

America is no longer a democracy, but a nation led by a small number of the elite. A study at Princeton found that policies passed in government were less representative of public interest, especially the working class, and more representative of the interests of special interest groups. These interest groups are primarily the wealthy elite and representatives of big businesses, and according to this study, such groups have a huge impact on the outcome of government policy.

Gatto, John. “Against School.”Rereading America. Ed 9. Gary Colombo, Robert Cullen, Bonnie Lisle.Boston, New York:Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2013. 141-149 . Print

Education and formal schooling are two very different things. Schooling leads to a variety of problems, whereas education done at home free of institutionalization seems to be highly successful if the goal is fulfillment, happiness, and curiosity. Mass schooling claims to be built on the principles of creating good citizens, good people, and enabling each person to achieve their personal best. These are so repeated that we buy into them, despite all the evidence before our eyes that suggests something different. The real function of schooling is to establish fixed habits of reaction to authority that prelude critical judgement. Along with teaching and pushing students to conform and be as alike as possible, making them predictable and easy to control. The next function of schooling is to determine each student’s “proper social role”. The next effect schooling has on students is to sort them according to their social role and train them only to the point of being able to fulfill their predetermined role. This keeps everyone from their personal best. The next two and final steps put forth in this article are to both punish and alienate certain kids who do not have certain qualities while pushing the reverence of a select few, training them to be leaders in the continuation of controlling the population. As Gatto puts it ‘ It is in the interest of complex management, economic or political, to dumb people down, to demoralize them, to divide them from one another, and to discard them if they don’t conform.

Comments are closed.