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Joanne98 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat May-02-09 12:30 PM
Original message
Capitalism's self-inflicted apocalypse

by Michael Parenti

After the overthrow of communist governments in Eastern Europe, capitalism was paraded as the indomitable system that brings prosperity and democracy, the system that would prevail unto the end of history.

The present economic crisis, however, has convinced even some prominent free-marketeers that something is gravely amiss. Truth be told, capitalism has yet to come to terms with several historical forces that cause it endless trouble: democracy, prosperity, and capitalism itself, the very entities that capitalist rulers claim to be fostering.


Plutocracy vs. Democracy

Let us consider democracy first. In the United States we hear that capitalism is wedded to democracy, hence the phrase, capitalist democracies. In fact, throughout our history there has been a largely antagonistic relationship between democracy and capital concentration. Some eighty years ago Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis commented, We can have democracy in this country, or we can have great wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, but we cant have both. Moneyed interests have been opponents not proponents of democracy.

The Constitution itself was fashioned by affluent gentlemen who gathered in Philadelphia in 1787 to repeatedly warn of the baneful and dangerous leveling effects of democracy. The document they cobbled together was far from democratic, being shackled with checks, vetoes, and requirements for artificial super majorities, a system designed to blunt the impact of popular demands.

In the early days of the Republic the rich and well-born imposed property qualifications for voting and officeholding. They opposed the direct election of candidates (note, their Electoral College is still with us). And for decades they resisted extending the franchise to less favored groups such as propertyless working men, immigrants, racial minorities, and women.

Today conservative forces continue to reject more equitable electoral features such as proportional representation, instant runoff, and publicly funded campaigns. They continue to create barriers to voting, be it through overly severe registration requirements, voter roll purges, inadequate polling accommodations, and electronic voting machines that consistently malfunction to the benefit of the more conservative candidates.

At times ruling interests have suppressed radical publications and public protests, resorting to police raids, arrests, and jailingsapplied most recently with full force against demonstrators in St. Paul, Minnesota, during the 2008 Republican National Convention.

The conservative plutocracy also seeks to rollback democracys social gains, such as public education, affordable housing, health care, collective bargaining, a living wage, safe work conditions, a non-toxic sustainable environment; the right to privacy, the separation of church and state, freedom from compulsory pregnancy, and the right to marry any consenting adult of ones own choosing.

About a century ago, US labor leader Eugene Victor Debs was thrown into jail during a strike. Sitting in his cell he could not escape the conclusion that in disputes between two private interests, capital and labor, the state was not a neutral arbiter. The force of the state--with its police, militia, courts, and lawswas unequivocally on the side of the company bosses. From this, Debs concluded that capitalism was not just an economic system but an entire social order, one that rigged the rules of democracy to favor the moneybags.

Capitalist rulers continue to pose as the progenitors of democracy even as they subvert it, not only at home but throughout Latin America, Africa, Asia, and the Middle East. Any nation that is not investor friendly, that attempts to use its land, labor, capital, natural resources, and markets in a self-developing manner, outside the dominion of transnational corporate hegemony, runs the risk of being demonized and targeted as a threat to U.S. national security.

Democracy becomes a problem for corporate America not when it fails to work but when it works too well, helping the populace move toward a more equitable and livable social order, narrowing the gap, however modestly, between the super rich and the rest of us. So democracy must be diluted and subverted, smothered with disinformation, media puffery, and mountains of campaign costs; with rigged electoral contests and partially disfranchised publics, bringing faux victories to more or less politically safe major-party candidates.

Capitalism vs. Prosperity

The corporate capitalists no more encourage prosperity than do they propagate democracy. Most of the world is capitalist, and most of the world is neither prosperous nor particularly democratic. One need only think of capitalist Nigeria, capitalist Indonesia, capitalist Thailand, capitalist Haiti, capitalist Colombia, capitalist Pakistan, capitalist South Africa, capitalist Latvia, and various other members of the Free World--more accurately, the Free Market World.

A prosperous, politically literate populace with high expectations about its standard of living and a keen sense of entitlement, pushing for continually better social conditions, is not the plutocracys notion of an ideal workforce and a properly pliant polity. Corporate investors prefer poor populations. The poorer you are, the harder you will workfor less. The poorer you are, the less equipped you are to defend yourself against the abuses of wealth.

In the corporate world of free-trade, the number of billionaires is increasing faster than ever while the number of people living in poverty is growing at a faster rate than the worlds population. Poverty spreads as wealth accumulates.

Continued>>>
http://warofthewaves.blogspot.com/2009/05/capitalisms-s...
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The Magistrate Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat May-02-09 12:37 PM
Response to Original message
1. An excellent Piece, Ma'am!
It concluding paragraph is worth highlighting:

"If the paladins of Corporate America want to know what really threatens our way of life, it is their way of life, their boundless way of pilfering their own system, destroying the very foundation on which they stand, the very community on which they so lavishly feed."
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Joanne98 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat May-02-09 12:44 PM
Response to Reply #1
2. It's right on.
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Half King Donating Member (27 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat May-02-09 12:59 PM
Response to Original message
3. Ruh Roh
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nilram Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat May-02-09 04:01 PM
Response to Original message
4. should be required readimg for DU. k&r -nt
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Vidar Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat May-02-09 04:38 PM
Response to Original message
5. K&R.
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Vinnie From Indy Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat May-02-09 07:38 PM
Response to Original message
6. Worth noting
"About a century ago, US labor leader Eugene Victor Debs was thrown into jail during a strike. Sitting in his cell he could not escape the conclusion that in disputes between two private interests, capital and labor, the state was not a neutral arbiter. The force of the state--with its police, militia, courts, and lawswas unequivocally on the side of the company bosses. From this, Debs concluded that capitalism was not just an economic system but an entire social order, one that rigged the rules of democracy to favor the moneybags."

Unrestrained capitalism always moves towards fascism. It is like falling into a black hole. At some point, you cross the event horizon and there is no turning back.

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rhett o rick Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun May-03-09 11:20 AM
Response to Reply #6
18. Hey Vinnie (sorry just had to do that), I like your last sentence. Is that yours
or someone else's?
:toast:
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dreamnightwind Donating Member (863 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun May-03-09 01:22 AM
Response to Original message
7. Kick!
already rec'd. Parenti is awesome.

"Today conservative forces continue to reject more equitable electoral features such as proportional representation, instant runoff, and publicly funded campaigns."

How 'bout it, Democratic Party, interested in any of these reforms? Or are you just another tool of global capital?
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Miss Authoritiva Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun May-03-09 01:38 AM
Response to Reply #7
8. As for publicly funded campaigns....
As for exclusively publicly funded campaigns -- otherwise why bother, we're going to need a Constitutional amendment. Almost everythng else will derive from kicking the lobbyists out of the temple of democracy.
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tomp Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun May-03-09 09:57 AM
Response to Reply #7
11. the answer is a foregone conclusion....
...you will get no reform of the system from the democratic party. the sooner we understand that, the sooner we can actually make change.
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rhett o rick Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun May-03-09 10:45 AM
Response to Reply #7
13. Problem is that we have let the "conservative forces" take control of the Democratic Party.
And I don't see any way of taking it back.
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Joe Chi Minh Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun May-03-09 08:11 AM
Response to Original message
9. Superb coverage of the political and economic realities. Doesn't miss
out an awful lot of any relevance. The key facts remorselessly laid bare.
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Political Heretic Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun May-03-09 08:57 AM
Response to Original message
10. Micharel Parenti is great and often overlooked
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glitch Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun May-03-09 10:20 AM
Response to Reply #10
12. Plus he's often funny. Hard truths with humor, good combination
But he's anti-empire and anti-capitalism and doesn't pull his punches, you know how that tends to narrow his audience.
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rhett o rick Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun May-03-09 10:48 AM
Response to Original message
14. Thank you so much for posting this. This is exactly what I have been seeking. How true capitalism
will eat itself. But we need to get this message to the masses. Maybe if it was in cartoon form. I am series.
Thanks again for posting.
:toast:
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Enthusiast Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun May-03-09 11:04 AM
Response to Original message
15. K&R! This is right on!
"Capitalist rulers continue to pose as the progenitors of democracy even as they subvert it, not only at home but throughout Latin America, Africa, Asia, and the Middle East. Any nation that is not investor friendly, that attempts to use its land, labor, capital, natural resources, and markets in a self-developing manner, outside the dominion of transnational corporate hegemony, runs the risk of being demonized and targeted as a threat to U.S. national security.

And this is a significant point. This is why living standards are so bad for many nations in the Western Hemisphere. Consider the treasury expended over the last 40 years to make Central and South America safe for capitalists. Exhibit #1, the drug trade.
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fasttense Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun May-03-09 11:06 AM
Response to Original message
16. Capitalism feeds on itself.
Like a cancer it grows and eventually kills it's host.

"An economy dedicated to speedups and wage cuts, to making workers produce more and more for less and less, is always in danger of a crash. To maximize profits, wages must be kept down. But someone has to buy the goods and services being produced. For that, wages must be kept up. There is a chronic tendencyas we are seeing todaytoward overproduction of private sector goods and services and underconsumption of necessities by the working populace.

In addition, there is the frequently overlooked self-destruction created by the moneyed players themselves. If left completely unsupervised, the more active command component of the financial system begins to devour less organized sources of wealth. Instead of trying to make money by the arduous task of producing and marketing goods and services, the marauders tap directly into the money streams of the economy itself."

Which leads us to our current state of economic collapse:

"While hundreds of billions were being doled out to the very people who had caused the catastrophe, the housing market continued to wilt, credit remained paralyzed, unemployment worsened, and consumer spending sank to record lows."


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Enthusiast Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun May-03-09 11:20 AM
Response to Original message
17. OKay, we all agree.
Now, what can be done to rein in the excesses of capitalism yet allow free enterprise and the many blessings it brings us?

If we had real election reform? If we would do away with the electoral college?

My wife and I talk about this issue every day.

There will be no improvement in America's healthcare until the "for profit" interests are removed from consideration. These changes can't come about because there are no regulations limiting this massive corporate influence. Obviously 'corporate person hood' allows for many of these abuses that we suffer. I'm looking for input here, people.
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rhett o rick Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun May-03-09 11:30 AM
Response to Reply #17
19. I am with you. We need a plan. We need an organization dedicated to the
REFORM of the Democratic Party.
The major problem to solve is that corporate-capitalism (CorpAmerica) has a strangle hold on Congress and our media.

To fight this we need to:
1. have an organization, big D Democratic, working within the party to overthrow the DINO's.
2. Convince Pres Obama that we have his back and he needs to move from CorpAmerica control (read DLC) to the populace movement.
3. Start a new publication that we can distribute by hand if necessary, pamphlets that succinctly provide the message of freedom to the masses. Like Thomas Paine did.
4. Take control of a network or at least have some programing aimed at promoting a populace movement.

If you get other input plez share.

It's time to start a movement.

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Enthusiast Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun May-03-09 02:57 PM
Response to Reply #19
23. I love your suggestions!
Overthrow the DINOs!
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rhett o rick Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun May-03-09 10:32 PM
Response to Reply #23
24. Cool, that's two of us, a movement is begun. Shall we try for three? How about after a beer?
All seriousness aside, I wonder if Democrats for America or Progressive Democrats of America or even moveon.org are interested in joining our movement to Dump the DINO's. Hey we've got a slogan.
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Enthusiast Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun May-03-09 11:37 PM
Response to Reply #24
25. I believe they are all for it.
:applause:
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RedCloud Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun May-03-09 12:37 PM
Response to Original message
20. A breath of fresh air!
Thanks.
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mckara Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun May-03-09 01:38 PM
Response to Original message
21. Well Done! Unfettered Capitalism Will Bury Itself

Some Marxists understood capitalism better than we capitalists
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Patchuli Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun May-03-09 02:57 PM
Response to Original message
22. Those that do not learn from history
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