Capitalism: The Killer of ‘Human Values’
The culture of modern capitalist society exaggerates even infinitesimal differences between human beings. From the color of one’s skin to one’s specific talents or faults, differences are pointed out in order to act as capitalism’s guide to measure the monetary worth of each of us. From the very first days of socialization under capitalism, children are measured against each other. They are measured by standardized tests, and assessed by how well they adapt to the profit-driven environment of capitalism.
Ultimately we are all judged by the amount of wealth we are able to accumulate. Which, for working people, is limited to the amount of wages we can get from our employer—every penny of which we must fight for.
Basically, if we are earning minimum wage, even though some of those jobs are the hardest, the most labor intensive, under the capitalist value system we are considered “minimal” humans. If we are unemployed, we have no worth and are forced to beg for a living either on the streets or from the government. Comedian Chris Rock summed it up very aptly:
“I used to work at McDonald’s making minimum wage. You know what that means when someone pays you minimum wage? You know what your boss was trying to say? It’s like, ‘Hey if I could pay you less, I would, but it’s against the law.’”1
Pie in the sky
Like religions’ “Pie in the Sky,” (the notion that us workers should keep our noses to the grindstone and be thankful for what we have if we hope to be rewarded in the afterlife), capitalism also instills in us the idea that war, greed, hatred, bigotry, are basic to human nature, have always existed, and will always exist. The “peaceable kingdom,” they say, is not achievable, but only an “ideal” because “we humans are naturally evil and only the rule of law (their law) keeps us from murdering each other.” Basic human values of goodness, fairness and community, they say, are only truly attainable in the afterlife, and only if we obey their rule of law in the here and now.
Dogs don’t eat dogs!
In the “real world,” so say the capitalists, it’s “dog eat dog,” survival of the fittest. The natural state of humanity is to be driven apart and to compete against each other for everything—jobs, food, housing, education, healthcare, childcare, clothes, furniture, entertainment (the nerve!), energy, water—everything and anything humans need or, dare I say, want.
The capitalists can want all they want and get what they want anytime and by any means because they are “more fit” since they own the wealth that we working people produce. Money talks!
So, we who do all the work, or are in need of work, who make and/or produce the things that earn the profits for the capitalists, are not entitled to “want” anything because we are being “paid more than what we are worth,” says every boss in the world!
Capitalism—a perpetual state
The capitalist philosophy of “survival of the fittest” based upon personal wealth has been beaten into the collective consciousness of us worker-slaves since the beginning of class society—since the “haves” enslaved the “have-nots.”
This brainwashing philosophy is the single most important reason the capitalist system is currently getting away with the implementation of drastic austerity measures all over the globe. Their strength derives from our alienation from one another. Each of us has been convinced that our problems are the result of our individual unworthiness. We are taught to believe that poverty is our own fault.
The commanders of capitalism—the U.S. government—invades country after country to bring more chaos and strife, and not just in other countries but here at home, too. Their goal is to pitt this one against that one, White against Black, immigrant against “citizen” so they can render us powerless and rob us blind of all the resources our countries have. Any resistance is met with the most horrendous violence and oppression. It is capitalism’s modus operandi.
From the militarization and police occupation of our communities, from our schools to our streets, as outlined in the article “Training Killers in the Classroom” by June Terpstra and Husayn Al-Kurdi (in this issue); to putting seven-year-olds in handcuffs for throwing tantrums (a practice which has become common) as outlined in the article, “Police Handcuffing Seven-Year-Olds?” by S. E. Smith (in this issue); to the routine stop and frisk police “procedure” in working class communities (see the article, “Stop-and-Frisk March: Silence is Not Golden,” by Glen Ford in this issue); to the largest prison system in the world which is increasingly becoming privately owned and operated; to the criminalization of workers who cross borders just to work while the capitalists themselves cross borders at will, capitalism will continue to mercilessly step on the necks of any workers who get in their way no matter where they are. In fact, capitalism declares the right to overthrow governments whenever they deem it advantageous to them. They claim the right to assassinate whoever they want. They simply label those they want dead as “radicals” or “suspected terrorists” or “gang members” to justify these murders. (All these issues are covered in this issue of Socialist Viewpoint.)
They use the same tools everywhere across the globe, all designed to destabilize, divide and conquer and, above all, to keep us workers from recognizing that our strength comes from the strength of our relationships with one another.
Preserving real “human values”
But the drive for community is instinctive to all species including we humans. All over the world working people are spontaneously awakening to that instinct. We’re experimenting with ways to unite in our common interest to resist capitalism’s “austerity” offensive—that is, austerity for us, plenty for them! From Tahrir Square, to the occupy movement, to the “casseroles” movement in Quebec2 (where people leave their houses to bang pots in the street every night at 8:00 P.M. in opposition to austerity measures and the assault on their civil liberties,) we workers are realizing that together we have the power to cooperate, discuss, organize and actually carry out a plan for a better way of life for all. We are finally recognizing the good that our instincts for community can bring to all of us and to the Earth itself. It really is our only hope.
Capitalism breeds chaos and a downward spiral back to barbarism, and inevitably, to the end of life on Earth. Embracing our instinctive, basic, human values for community, cooperation, planning, democracy, and sharing is the only thing that will ensure that we survive and thrive.
Capitalist production for private profit and wealth has only one real enemy—the primal and universal instinct and drive for community in human nature. There is nothing more powerful!
That is why the capitalists bombard us with propaganda to convince us that we are all basically evil, that human goodness and plenty are only realizable in the afterlife, that we should be thankful for their law and order, their wars and prisons, and for whatever they let trickle down to us.
Socialism—production according to need and want and for the good of all—is in harmony with the natural world, and with the powerful human instinct for community and cooperation. It’s the only solution that can save us all.
1 Saturday Night Live: The Best of Chris Rock Quotes (1999) http://www.quotes.net/movies/9937
2 Elsewhere in this issue of Socialist Viewpoint: “In Quebec, A Revolution of Love, Hope and Community,” By Ethan Cox
rabble.ca, May 27, 2012