Exposing the Greens
by Rex Curry
Greens espouse the same hatred of capitalism that created the poverty, misery, and mass slaughter in the former Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, Communist China, The National Socialist Workers Party of Germany (Nazis), Cambodia, Cuba, and much of Central and South America. That's why Greens are called "watermelons": green on the outside, red on the inside.
The media were slow to expose the world's socialist hell-holes and the media are doing the same for the Green Party's hateful ideology. Perhaps it is because the authoritarian ideology fits the media's constant calls for more government. As the libertarians joke, the purpose of government is to provide service, and the purpose of the media is to provide Vaseline.
People receive information from two main sources: government schools and thereafter media. More than government schools, the media are to blame for the constant growth of government. The media and Greens prove that government schools create lifetime statists. The media and Greens know as little about economic freedom as does the typical government high school student.
Rex Curry (The local media debate champion) email@example.com.
To find out more about the scary Green Party go to their Web site at: http://www.greenparty.org/program/towecodemo.html
The destructive contemporary society we must change is a social system with a name. We must name it, analyze it, and understand it in order to change it. This social system is called capitalism.
Hierarchical society divided humanity against itself and, in so doing, divided nature from humanity. With the emergence of capitalism, however, not only are humans pitted against each other universally in the competitive buyer-seller relationship of the market, but every aspect of nature is converted into a commodity to be exploited and wantonly merchandised. With the scale and power of technology racing forward, impelled by the competitive struggle for profits, growth, and continued survival as businesses, the power of modern capitalism to destroy the natural world is unprecedented.
What is Capitalism? The defining characteristic of capitalism is its institutionalized drive to grow by any means necessary, no matter what the human and ecological costs. Capital is driven by competition to expand itself without limit.
Capitalism is not simply private property and markets as opposed to public property and planning. Private property and markets preceded capitalism. Public property and planning exist under capitalism. The defining institutions of capitalism are the combination of private ownership of productive resources, market allocation, and wage labor as the predominant economic institutions. Pre-capitalist markets were limited to the exchange of goods and services, not also labor, land, and money capital. Private property was largely limited to personal property for household use and to the productive resources of owner-operator farmers and artisans. Common people had access to the commons-common pastures for grazing their animals and common forests for hunting, gathering, and fuel.
For example, feudalism was characterized private property, but very limited markets and virtually no wage-labor. Feudal serfs on largely self-sufficient manorial estates owned their own tools, had tenure on their own plots of land, and had free access to common lands. They were exploited by the landed aristocracy to whom they owed a portion of their produce as tribute, but the purpose of exploitation was to maintain aristocratic status, not expand money wealth endlessly as under capitalism.
To take another example, colonial New England was characterized by private property as well as common lands and more extensive markets in goods and services, but not much wage labor. Small farmers and artisans exchanged their products principally to get things to use, not to expand their money wealth as capital.
To take one more example, the Communist states of Eastern Europe had a system of state ownership, extensive planning, and wage labor. The state bureaucracy replaced the private capitalists as the class exploiting workers through wage labor. Theorists have variously characterized this system as "state capitalist," "bureaucratic collectivist," or simply "statist." The point here is that capitalism is characterized by the combination of private property, markets, and wage labor.
Capitalism came into its own as a system of self-expanding capital as agrarian people were excluded from common lands and artisanal workers were forced into the more productive factories with which they could not compete. In order to survive, common people now had to sell their labor power to capitalists who now owned the former common lands and the new factories as private property and excluded common people's access to them.
In pre-capitalist markets, people used money to facilitate the exchange of goods and services of equal value. The purpose was to acquire goods and services to use. Under capitalism, capitalists use money to buy productive resources and labor to produce goods and services for sale at a profit. The purpose is to acquire more money. If capitalists do not try to grow faster than their competitors, they will lose their ability to compete. They may get bought out by a bigger corporate barracuda or go bankrupt because they did not have the resources to acquire they latest productivity-increasing technology. Competition forces capitalists to grow or die.
In its fullest form as finance capital, it speculates on the future values of stocks, bonds, real estate, commodities, and currencies, hoping to expand its money capital without making any productive contribution. Finance capital comes to dominate industrial capital as managers of industrial firms are compelled to increase the value of the securities of their absentee-owners in the short term, no matter what the social and ecological costs of corporate irresponsibility and even if it is against the long-terms interests of the company.
Capital under capitalism is thus not simply capital goods-land, raw materials, tools, and machinery. It is an exploitative social relation. What makes social relations under capitalism so insidious is that exploitative relations between people appear as equal relations between things. The ideology of equal market exchanges between commodities obscures employers' domination and exploitation of workers in the labor market. When workers create value with their labor, their wages do not include the full value they produce. The owners of the productive resources take a disproportionate share of the value added by workers. Workers spend part of their day producing unearned income for owners simply because these wealthy people own the productive resources (land, machinery, buildings, patents, and so forth) that the workers use. Studies of industrial countries show that workers today receive only about half of the value added by their labor and that the small class of owners receives the other half.
What is presented ideologically as an equal exchange in the labor market-a fair day's wage for a fair day's work-is in fact an unequal exchange in which the owning class takes, on average, about half of the value workers create. In pre-capitalist hierarchical societies, it was clear that the master exploited the slave and the landed aristocracy exploited the peasants. However, in capitalist society, the exploitation of workers by propertied elites is hidden behind by the ideology of fair exchange in the labor market.
Racism, Sexism, Heterosexism, Nationalism. As a social system motivated by competition and greed instead of cooperation and need, capitalism sustains the other negative isms that divide humanity against itself: sexism, racism, heterosexism, nationalism. Employing the age-old strategy of divide and conquer, the owning class encourages these negative isms that divide worker against worker. Workers of a relatively privileged gender or ethnic status often support sexism, racism, and nationalism to secure favored access to jobs. As long as capitalism persists, sexism, racism, and nationalism will be structurally integrated into capitalism's competitive ethos and institutions.
Imperialism, Militarism, and War.
In its ceaseless quest for more profits and growth that is driven by economic competition, capitalism breeds war and militarism. The big corporations in the US and other industrial powers have constantly demanded and received countless foreign military interventions in order to secure their access to resources, markets, and cheap labor. A century ago, this took the form of outright colonization. Today, it takes the form of a neo-colonialism where industrial powers prop up repressive regimes that keep labor cheap, taxes and tariffs low, and environmental standards non-existent or not enforced. Especially since World War II, the military industries themselves have become major sources of easy profits, creating an economic base for organized militarism, the Military-Industrial Complex that President Eisenhower warned about upon leaving office. The industrial corporate giants earn super-profits through cost-plus contracts and corrupt practices in bidding, billing, and accounting.
Waste and Inefficiency.
Waste is not limited to the military industries. It is rampant in a capitalist economy that wastes enormous resources on advertising, security, duplication, overcapacity, and other irrationalities that results from an atomized process of economic decision-making and a polarized distribution of resources. For example, public power companies owned by municipalities, or by consumers as cooperatives, have for decades provided gas and electricity to their customers for one-fourth to one-third less than the private investor-owned utilities (IOUs), even though the IOUs had already cherry-picked the most lucrative territories leaving public power to serve mostly dispersed rural and small town populations. Medicare provides health care with 3% overhead, compared to the private health insurance industry, which uses 28% of policyholders' premiums for paperwork, accounting, advertising, executive salaries, and shareholder profits. It is time to reject the prevailing dogma that private enterprise and markets are always more efficient.
Externalization of Social and Ecological Costs.
Another problem with the capitalist economy is that competition forces business to externalize their costs onto society and nature as much as they can. Businesses profit more by using a cheaper but polluting process rather than by using a cleaner but more expensive process. Businesses profit by depleting resources now for short-term gain rather than using them on a sustainable yield basis over the longer term. It pays to cut wages, pensions, and health and childcare benefits and make society as a whole pay for a social safety net. If businesses do not make these ecologically and socially irresponsible decisions while their competitors do, the responsible businesses will lose out to the irresponsible competition and go out of business.
Absentee Ownership and Finance Capital. Capitalism creates a wealthy class of social parasites who make no productive contribution to society. Capitalism's institutionalization of social irresponsibility reaches its most advanced form in the subordination of the publicly traded, for-profit corporation to finance capital. Under this form, the ownership of capital is completely separated from its application in production. Instead of entrepreneurs and inventors as working owners, power has shifted to absentee owners, finance capitalists whose sole interest is in short-term profits. Managers of companies with publicly traded securities become captive to the interests of stockholders' demands for immediate profits. To keep stock prices and dividends up, managers will undermine the long-term interests of the company by cannibalizing it. The workforce can be downsized in order to enhance short-term returns. Stock values can be pushed up with highly leveraged mergers and acquisitions even though they add no productive capacity. Financial capital uses money to make money. It has no interest in real production. It wants a quick and high return on investment. It feeds speculative bubbles in stocks, real estate, and currencies. Owners of financial assets increase their claims to society's wealth without making any productive contribution. Finance capitalism uses the publicly traded for-profit corporation as a parasitic structure for wealth extraction, not wealth creation.
Capitalist "bad guys" are not the central problem with the capitalist system. The more fundamental problem is that capitalism creates an alienated society. Everyone, from top to bottom, is coerced into behaving in certain ways by the system. It is beyond anyone's conscious control. The atomized decisions in markets sum up to create market forces that dictate to capitalist and worker alike what their options are. Though created by our own individual actions, they add up to forces that come back at us as alien forces. We become alienated from each other and the products of our labor and thus from our own labor and our very selves.
Lack of Future Focus.
The market is also terrible at pricing future costs. Market prices reflect current supply and demand and cannot anticipate future shortages and higher costs based on the depletion of resources, leaving society ill-prepared for looming crises.
As mentioned above, the market creates economic instability as firms competing for profits and growth create overcapacity, gutted supply, and insufficient demand, leading to economic recessions and depressions and misery for millions.
Capitalism is simply not a sustainable system ecologically. As a system of competitive, endless accumulation, capitalism is growing blindly in the planet's biosphere like a cancer in an organism. Unless surgically removed, this cancerous capitalism will kill its host, the biosphere.
All of these problems-compulsive growth, exploitation, racism, sexism, nationalism, imperialism, waste, militarism, inefficiency, economic insecurity, social irresponsibility and parasitism, and ecological destruction-are systematically produced and/or reinforced by the capitalist economy. These problems will remain with us until we replace the capitalist economy with a democratic economy.