Waking Up From the American Dream: The Reality of Corporatocracy
In America, the "free-market" is often taught as a central part of American economics from grade school to graduation while the real meaning is ignored. In The Wealth of Nations, Adam Smith, the father of capitalism, introduces the free-market system, a system that directly opposes the existence of corporations.
Free-market capitalism exists when no single business has the ability to set the price at which goods or services are sold. Smith believed that the free-market system would be maintained because business owners, while working in their own self-interests, would see the consumers as their human brothers selling goods and services at an equally fair rate for both leaving businesses small and markets free for competition.
"You can read the first part of Communism in America here.
|Karl Marx predicted that while such a system may be successful temporarily, corporate greed would eventually turn businesses into mere profit-seeking institutions ignoring the welfare of the consumer and the worker while pushing smaller "capitalists" (i.e. business owners) into the working class.|
And he was right. For example, after the opening of a Walmart in Chicago in 2006, less than one-and-a-half years later, 82 of the 306 nearby small businesses had shut down. Further, even though a McDonalds burger is pretty cheap, compared to the cost McDonalds pays to produce it, McDonalds profits are much more than what would be considered "fair." A better example may be the tobacco industry which sells cigarettes to make profits knowing that they are killing their consumers in the process.
And worse, the corporations now have greater precedence in the eyes of Uncle Sam than the citizenry. For example, in 2006 $59 billion were spent on social welfare programs while $92 billion was spent on corporate subsidies.
Further, the corporations literally have infiltrated and begun to take over the government. Supreme Court justice Clarence Thomas, who wrote majority opinion in a case that helped Monsanto enforce its seed patents, was once an attorney for Monsanto. And his verdict has led Monsanto's genetically engineered soybeans to represent over 90% of the soybeans sold in America today.
"In the 2012 election, both Mitt Romney and Barack Obama were financed, directly and indirectly, by corporations and in some cases by the same corporations.
And while citizens still may vote, corporate money is what truly decides who will be allowed into office. Without corporate funds, no working class citizen has the means to run for office.
As well, corporations are now viewed as equal, and even superior, to citizens by the government which has given them human rights while limiting the free speech of the actual citizen.. Veggie libel laws, for example, protect agricultural products by making it illegal for citizens to speak ill of them. Even Oprah Winfrey was taken to court in the late '90s because she "defamed" beef.
This is not free-market capitalism. This is a corporatocracy, the form of capitalism Marx saw as naturally evolving from free markets. The enormous corporate influence over the government and the benefits the government gives to them is more than obvious. From Monsanto's legal monopoly over soy beans to veggie libels that reduce free speech to the money spent on presidential elections by corporations, the corporatocracy is alive and well in America.
And the whole while the worker becomes a commodity, a machine to be used by the corporations for their benefit. He must have some ability to get a job and must have some job to earn money and must have money to survive. In other words, to survive, at least legally, the worker must prostitute himself to the corporation. And his ability to be hired depends purely on the corporate demand for his labor such that whenever supply exceeds demand, some portion of the workers will lose their jobs.
During the Great Recession unemployment skyrocketed because the demand for workers by corporations decreased substantially. And despite government assistance, many workers still became homeless while others turned to criminal activity in order to provide for themselves and their family. The capitalist system pushes workers into unemployment when their employment cannot maximize profits. And from this, they are forced to beg or become criminals to merely live. And this, in part, may help to explain why America's prison rate is the highest in the world.
And then there's outsourcing. Like choosing between a 2007 Honda Civic or a 2008 Ford Focus, the corporations do the same with domestic and foreign workers. If profits can be maximized by firing domestic workers and replacing them with cheaper foreign workers, they will do so. Romney, not surprisingly, did this while he was CEO of Bain Capital. And it should come as no shock from what has been discussed that Obama has even subsidized corporations who outsource.
And while I could go on and on about the evils of capitalism, I will bore you no longer. I will leave you here to mull over what I have said and perhaps ask yourself whether this is truly the sort of America you want to live in. In my next article, I will discuss Marx's predictions that the step in this economic evolution is a violent revolution perpetuated by the workers against the economic and political system that has harmed them and how from this communism is mean to flourish. Examining the faults of Marx's predictions, I will explore explicitly how the formation of true communism from Marx's approach may very well be impossible.