An Institutional Problem

Capitalism’s apologists have always portrayed their system as “the end of history,” the best of all possible ways of setting social priorities.

The classic statement of this claim came, of course, from Adam Smith, who argued that encouraging private profit-seekers to do as they will without much public control would lead “as if by an invisible hand” to a world of maximum possible human happiness, which Smith, writing in the 1770s, equated with “the [monetary] wealth of nations.”

Now, Smith was not nearly so crude or obscurantist as the modern proponents of greed-as-good, and he could hardly have imagined, nor should he be much blamed for, the disasters business society has built into the 21st century. But the fact remains that, even at this very late date, the powers-that-be in the United States continue to portray capitalism — particularly in this, its leading cradle, exemplar, and gendarme — as the best of all possible worlds, the only possible road to maximum democracy and human wellness.

This blog will present one major branch of the evidence you need in order to see and explain the actual reality of things, which is that not only is capitalism not the best way of running societies, it is an insane, radically anti-democratic, and unsustainable-for-much-longer one. More than something is rotten in this cancerous, globe-devouring Denmark.

The main focus here will be on the area where the prevailing ideology remains almost completely debunked, on that sphere of life where the institutional facts remain most thickly clouded over by the increasingly preposterous official stories: i.e., on the relationship of modern capitalists to the realm of personal life, now tellingly all but universally known “consumption.”

Reading this blog will help you see how, through the incessant expansion of that art and science of behavioral manipulation known as “marketing,” our corporate overclass has achieved (and continues to deepen) a degree of control over what we do and think that would make Big Brother neon green with envy, and also how very desperately we need to begin to use what democracy we have left to move against the galaxy of lies and wasteful, toxic, anti-human commodities by which this system is speeding us over the final cliff of human pre-history, below which lies not any kind of paradise, but only the irreparable world of Mad Max.

Please stay tuned…