From Thu Mar 8 05:29:05 2001
From: Frank Scott <>
Subject: [BRC-NEWS] The Capitalist Market
Precedence: bulk
Date: Thu, 8 Mar 2001 03:14:38 -0500 (EST)

The Capitalist Market

By Frank Scott, Coastal Post, Vol.26 no.3, March 2001

Our supposedly free market is really a fundamentalist religion, with the strengths and weaknesses of any faith-based system. Its foundation is equal parts mythology, creativity, greed and stupidity. Only the last two can explain the belief that private energy, private health care, private education and countless other fixations on our private part are, despite increasing signs of failure, superior to social control of such life supporting institutions.

The main argument against social power claims the suppression of individuality inherent in big government, and it has some element of truth. But what has passed for governmental control has never been an expression of democracy, whether in capitalist social democratic states or in nations that have attempted to create socialism.

The first always perform for the benefit and under the direction of private capital, and the second always under the heel of a global system whose opposition would not allow them to achieve the ideals they professed. Socialist states have been forced into compromises that often made them little better, and sometimes worse than what they wanted to replace.

Neither social democracy nor socialist attempts at humanizing reality have been able to rise above the capitalist market, but merely to exercise some local controls that briefly fine tune its murderous contradictions.

The collapse of attempted socialism in the Soviet Union and the abandonment of social democratic capitalism in the west have seen a return to the fundamentalist faith in market forces as the arbiter of all human affairs. Of course, with private, corporate capital exercising the controls formerly the responsibility of government. It has been a disaster, and it gets worse every day.

In their pre-capitalist form, markets involved social relations that played a major role in advancing communication and trade among people. Markets were building blocks in the structure of human organization into larger social entities, but they depended on person to person encounters. Barter, trade and deal making involved interpersonal relations between producers and consumers that increased a notion of community, while bringing goods and services to more people.

When that system became dominated by ever larger commercial forces, the market was transformed into something less communal and more mercantile. As wider varieties of goods became available, smaller groups became more dominant in markets, leading to exploitation of actual producers and consumers, with financial control exercised by absentee forces.

What is presently called globalization is nothing new, but merely the age old process of market control by private capital becoming greater, faster, and more damaging to the social and natural environment than ever before.

Under the domination of ruling elite minorities, life has always been dangerous for the majority. But the danger has never been so great, and, conversely, the possibility for overcoming it and achieving success for most of humanity never greater.

The anti-social nature of private capitalist command of markets makes the threat so deadly. It creates a world in which humans starve while pets overeat, in which militaries are housed while civilians are homeless, in which drug firms make billions of dollars while sick people can’t afford medicines. It is a world in which the natural, social and political environments are under the control of forces with no purpose other than the creation of profits for investors that guarantee losses for everyone else.

And it is the hopeful signs of growing social consciousness and democratic demands in the world at large that make the possibilities of success so much greater. But the global crisis is such that there really isn’t much time for those social forces to get their act together. If the world is, as Shakespeare said, a stage on which we perform, the majority cast members need to take over the production, before the minority stockholders bring about a disastrous flop that won’t just be financial.

Before we create a global gas chamber that threatens to asphyxiate us all, we need to change this system that controls the creation and distribution of resources, all on the basis of first creating private profit. The present romance with markets, individuality and privatization of public forces is a renewal of age old fundamentalist beliefs. With the use of mass media techniques of modern mind control, relative paupers have been convinced that success means simply buying some stock in one or another “new” company and waiting for the money to pour in.

The reality is that for all the minority paper wealth being generated by alleged `new economy’ high-tech stocks, the country's entire structure rests—precariously—on an ‘old economy’ foundation of oil, gas and other non-renewable fossil fuels.

Americans upset by increased energy prices need to understand that domestic and foreign sources are finite and drying up. But under the dictates of wasteful profit marketeering and planned inefficiency, demand everywhere continues to rise. What is to be done?

The social democratic urge to slowly reform by presenting a more human face to capitalism, has been replaced by old market values, revived as neo-liberalism. First promoted by the Reagan-Thatcher regimes and more recently by their stepsons, Clinton-Blair, this revival has seen the market become god, individuality the son of god, and government, social responsibility and democracy become satanic demons, interfering with divine profit accumulation.

The profit dreams of minorities have become the nightmare loss of majorities, with social, political and environmental systems simultaneously threatened by an organizing domain gone berserk.

Markets may someday become human places again, as flea markets, farmers markets and even garage sales give example. But Capitalism cannot be reformed, anymore than a carnivore can become a herbivore. It is a cannibalistic system that will ultimately devour humanity and the planet if it isn’t stopped by a democratic movement aimed at more than reform.

If humanity is to survive, capitalism must be abolished.