Have you ever called customer support only to hear the sound of a recorded message, “ you are (or your call is) very important to us…” So, you wait and wait for an actual person who you hope might be of some help. As you wait you are feed sales pitch upon sales pitch to purchase more of what the company sells. Yes, your call is an opportunity for the business you are calling to get more from you—of course your call is important to them!
As I experience, read about and reflect upon what’s happening, what I’m finding is that many of the things that are (now) happening can be connected to previous happenings—it is all just more manifestations/effects of the capitalist system. Connecting the dots, the trend becomes quite evident. In other words, that sound I hear is the sucking sound of extraction and exploitation.
Profit Maximizing Behavior is All The Same
As concern for profit maximization dictates behavior, all interactions with people are mere transactions, measured in cost-benefit terms in favor to the corporation. Just as GM did before them—and seemingly continues to do—so too (just to name a few) has Purdure Pharma, Boeing, Monsanto/Bayer and Exxon Mobile been making that sound.
When It’s Everything—2014. Let’s imagine that we surveyed people asking them whether they are in favor of quality. What would we likely find? There is little doubt that overwhelmingly their response would be yes.
Does this mean that these enterprises are oblivious to the facts from our imagined survey? Absolutely not! All one has to do is read the policies provided for public consumption by an overwhelming majority of corporations. Consider GMas a case in point: They explicitly state Safety and Quality Firstis a principle that guides them in everything they do and furthermore “safety will always be a priority at GM.” If this were actually true then the company culture would be such that a problem (such as an ignition switch) that would be fatal to customers could never go unaddressed for a moment let alone for more than 10 years! As further evidence of their’ deceptive and duplicitous nature, in the face of this problem management in authority simply scapegoated and washed their hands of the whole issue by blaming those below them. Holding others accountable for complying with and enacting the values and goals they designed into the organization’s processes is nothing short of cowardice and responsibility shirking behavior—surely not quality!
Is That All There Is?—2015. The conduct of business—economic activity—is a material process as well as a very deeply human process and as such it not only involves the production, distribution and selling of goods and services, it necessarily circumscribes the values and rules guiding human behavior—it is not just business it is quite personal.
“How a person relates to him/herself and to his world is dependent upon his/her worldview–for the most part, it is a reflection of the largely unconsciously held values, attitudes and beliefs” (The Intent of Business, p 64). Consequently, adhering to capitalism, which is an egocentric materialist mechanistic system, has developed in us a worldview and value system that has us acting as if everything before us is ours’ to do with as we wish. For example, this materialist mechanistic orientation has those in management (in many organizations) behaving as if everything and everyone under their command is an object to be measured and modeled in mechanical cause-and-effect relationships. Hence the focus “on metrics, analytics and material results to the exclusion of meaning, value and joy.” Unfortunately (for us), what those in management know is not necessarily so!
Through Fear and Misinformation Divide to Control
Apathy of The Masses—2013. You would guess that fearful people above all else would fear not having a livable viable environment; but you’d guess wrong! In an egoistic materialist society what people fear most, is not the un-sustainability of the future we are enacting, but the loss of their attachments and the death of their ego in the present.
Moreover, having to actually face the irreconcilable demands of maximizing material gain and sustaining the viability of the life-supporting environment, most likely would rather deny that there is a double bind. Being apathetic and numbing one’s self to it is much easier. Why else would we continue as we have rejecting the mounting credible scientific evidence against the sustainability of our way of being!
We mustn’t place blame on the apathetic for they’ve had considerable help in becoming as they are. Materialistic cultural norms and an absence of unbiased (credible) information keep people unaware and misinformed making it easier to control them. Without a free press people can’t make sound decisions for themselves, and consequently they can’t possibly be free to be and become—it is all decided for them. As Edward Bernays, the father of public relations and popular use of propaganda, claimed that “The conscious and intelligent manipulation of the organized habits and opinions of the masses is an important element in democratic society. Those who manipulate this unseen mechanism of society constitute an invisible government which is the true ruling power of our country. …We are governed, our minds are molded, our tastes formed, our ideas suggested, largely by men we have never heard of.” In short, Bernays advanced for those in positions of authority the idea that “you have to control what people think.”
Faced with (ever more frequent) extreme weather events (e.g. Hurricane Dorian, Hurricane Maria, California Wild Fires Season, Canadian Wild Fires, etc.) there was/is very little if any network (or cable) news coverage of their connection to climate change—the changing climate as a crisis and existential threat gets no attention. It is one of the most important issues humankind faces and yet our (assumed) free press—themselves capturedand thus actually not free—do not inform and educate people. Feeding the ego and not feeding people credible information is means to control. As a result, people continue unaware and uninformed in their alienated mechanical way of life.
The Medicine Show is Here, Again
The barkers (and their backers) are aplenty. It is election time, and the medicine show has rolled into town, and on the stage of the wagon the snake oil salesperson offers his/her elixir to fix all your ills!
Beware of Demagogues—2011. What is most amazing is that there are people gathering at each wagon believing that this snake oil salesperson is not a quack but rather the real thing. It is not until sometime later, after having bought the elixir that many find they’ve been sold a concocted (yes fabricated) story—what they thought they bought into for is not what they are getting! In spite of this experience the next time the wagons roll into town, those previously hoodwinked will gather behind a different wagon—always hoping that the next barker’s elixir will be their cure.
It is not that the citizenry does not want to hear the truth it is that the backers of the (barkers on the) wagons would cease their support of anyone who spoke truthfully. People who speak the truth—telling it like it is—are not provided the stage or the support of the backers. Hence you would be hard pressed to find a truthful and trustworthy elected official (irrespective of party affiliation), and yet it is they who are supposed to serve the needs of all people in society.
The System as Cause
Rethinking a Fixed System—2012. Our economic system has no (explicit) concern for ‘we’ in its design, it is all about ‘me’ getting what I can for ‘myself’—it is best labeled an egoistic economic system. The pursuit of material self-interest is the guiding principle for all action. It promotes (and requires) a belief system about what being human means that is narrow and thus limiting. That is, it rests upon people believing they are at base individualistic, selfish, materialistic and competitive.
As discussed in It’s the EconoMe, Stupid, society to the egoist is “nothing but the sum of the actions of each individual; it is nothing apart from what each individual separately contributes to it” and what one can extract from others.
Capitalism Opposes Life—2017. As previously argued, the system of capitalism has captured (or is it co-opted) the democratic system of governance. If capitalism was inherently aligned with democratic principles then this may not be such a bad thing. However , capitalism is not only antithetical to democratic governance—the former rests on ‘it being all for me’ and the latter ‘We the people’—but it is destructive to life itself, as evidenced by global warming (its most far-reaching effect). Unavoidably there will be hell to pay but not by everyone, at least in the short term.
With the system’s dictate of maximizing material self-interest toward the intent of unlimited growth and wealth accumulation, the system requires each person to be an industrious independent individual entity, a component of the wealth-producing machine. Essentially, each is to be an object for exploitation, a commodity, whose value is defined solely in terms of (economic) exchange value (i.e. material value). Effectually, each individual is to act in his/her own material self-interest in service to the economic system. Yes, we are to serve the system, it is not intended to serve humankind!
Accordingly, it requires people to structure their life according to its dictates and its material definition of success—keeping each forever running on the worker-consumer treadmill—in perpetual pursuit of getting and spending. As the U.S. President post-911 told the citizenry, go shopping! In so doing, we’ve been complicit in developing a society addicted to material gain—each individual ‘me’ seeking to get what he/she can in whatever way he/she can.
It is understandable, in light of the predominate worldview, why many simply see corporate profit seeking schemes as making economic sense and just good plain old entrepreneurialism at work. In other words, when success is defined by the quantity of material gain, people will not only excuse self-interested behavior of business enterprises they will rationalize it as a way of justifying their very own pursuit of the same.
What Can ‘WE’ Do?
Our destiny is not to be captured byand be victims ofcapitalism. We aren’t born as capitalists and consumers, we are born as human beings.
Captured–2013. It need not be this way! Contrary to common misunderstanding we are not destined in life to seek to maximize our own pleasure in the moment. We are not destined to define and structure life as the pursuit of maximum material gain—people are not defined by what one has accumulated. If this is indeed our nature then everyone would realize this: by definition nature would provide what we each require. Also, it would be going against one’s nature to do otherwise, and this logically and rationally can’t be.
Is This the Way We Want to Roll?—2011. Human beings not only have the capability of perceiving and thinking with different perspectives, but also of perceiving and thinking with the arrow of time pointed in different directions—to the past, present and future. In other words, we each have the capability of transcending the in the moment circumstance perception and to learn proactively toward creating a more human world. Of course, this requires that we let go of our attachment to self-serving immediate concerns in order to appropriately have concern for universal care for all. It is through this higher way-of-being that we will be able to create knowledge and correspondingly develop a more human world.
We can create a more viable world, especially for those who will live in the future, by prefiguring it today. But if we each deny the need for our development as a human being we will diminish the probability of our world becoming a very human world. Thus, each of us has a responsibility for developing our humanity for the benefit of all humanity—which serves a greater sense of self.
It’s All in Our View– 2014. Human beings (as well as all that is alive) need a life-supporting environment; but planet earth does not need a human population to continue. Because we are dependent upon Nature and each other (yes we depend on ‘we’) we mustn’t strive to exploit Nature and each other. Rather we must seek to ensure our viability by acting in harmony with Nature and all people, thereby sustaining life-supporting qualities in our world. We cannot continue our adherence to a worldview that is so narrowly focused on the materiality of reality, wherein everything is but an object to exploit.
Unfortunately, because we’ve internalized the underlying beliefs and values required (of us) by capitalist system we are not consciously aware that its’ worldview is directing our actions and re-actions—how we structure/live (our) life. Hence the needed change will only come about when the pain of continuing exceeds the pain of casting it aside. That is, until that sucking sound becomes unbearable. When enough is enough! Unfortunately, as is the case with many addictions, the felt need may be too late coming.