The allure of capitalism has never been a clean or ethical one—the very roots are predicated on a system of continued growth and extraction, only becoming less feudal and more “modern” with the advent of beliefs that technological advances could usher in continued input to help the system survive. This has been true in some ways, such as the advent of fracking, which was able to massively disrupt Hubbert’s peak (the bell curve expected to show the gradual diminished reserves of oil). That peak was extended like a covid graph 10 days after an evangelical beach party. The rub with all things extractive and unsustainable is that there is always inherent blow-back. Just because there is more petro-product to burn doesn’t mean those greenhouse gases won’t build up from actually burning them—there will be hell to pay. This is because the natural world has a way of slapping down hubris with an intangible, almost sentient response to the greed.
There are layers of tragedy inherent to that capitalistic notion that all is a commodity. These wonders can be extracted, whether it’s through destructive mining, plundering oceans, destroying old-growth forest…….but then this accepted practice carries over from these natural resources to human resources (yes, that phrase is loaded with symbolism—it’s no accident that’s what your job calls you). This has never been more evident in modern America than the push-pull of human worth versus the voracious, victim-hungry economy demands during this pandemic.
A testimony to the success of the immersive brainwashing of our capitalist society would be the pro-covid rallies (what else can you call them?) Screaming signs being held by screaming protesters—those demanding that restrictions be removed so commerce can continue despite the risks. The rallies don’t ask for the kind of support the corporations get during these times – no, they request the right to die in order to keep the wheels greased. It’s really pretty astonishing. Like an Aztec saying, please, please take me instead…..”I want my heart cut out for the needs of the sun god!”
But many of the protesters look to be retirement aged. They are protesting for others to be put in harm’s way to serve them. This is part and parcel of capitalism’s thick and smothering entitlement. From the top of the economic chain on down, most in the US consider it to be just fine to endlessly extract from others as well as the planet. The concept of an intangible worth isn’t there for them. The sense of the sacred is limited to a quasi-corporate friendly religion that uses The Word, but most morph that into a Jesus-themed amusement park with their lord at the table doing some money-changing. He would never knock down the tables. He has respect for authority. And you earn your respect by sitting quietly with that group.
Walling off the concept of a soul to mean essentially nothing beyond a rubber-stamp that calls a person religious, well it gives free rein to consider all else to be worth only money. A soul, for lack of a better word, is to me, something that in a non-religious sense (even a non-human animist sense) gives an inherent right to exist unmolested. To be free from parasites that destroy your right to just be. It is truly intangible.
But here we are, left with a monetary system that is a terrible game, full of traps and archaic rules that only benefit the rule-makers. That is considered to be what has worth and rights—not you, not the undulating grasslands below our feet. That monetary system is the thing that is imaginary, though—it was invented by men of little imagination, only looking to solidify the rules that protected their own wealth or their dreams to obtain it.
Those who are the most sick among us (in a sociopathic sense) are the ones who rule over such a system. It selects for them. And they aren’t even trying to hide right now that they consider “essential workers” to be essential to their wealth magnification only, not essential to their families or to their communities. This is a sickness that these leaders have, but the workers and the misguided protesters have it too. It spreads more easily than covid. The true protests should have been against these contrived economic conditions that perpetuate uncertainty and fear, forcing individuals to participate in a system that treats them as if they are nothing—completely disposable. But the protests are a tangled mess of systemic mental illness and a thrashing fear of mortality—a pathetic bravado held tightly in the form of a semi-automatic weapon.
The fact that those who are the very worst in terms of exploitation of others rise in this system is evidenced by the “choice” in presidential candidates we are faced with. Trump is a caricature of the extractive, fetid, hungry ghost—he can’t get enough fatty meat for his colon, can’t get enough golden baubles or young wives, not enough stimulants or whatever the hell he takes that causes….him. He is slime animated, really. But as I always try to balance this tribal nonsense – Joe Biden is a similar product. Kind of like voting between the guy who owns slaves and beats (sometimes kills) them and the guy who also owns slaves, but makes it seem much friendlier, a more Jeffersonian slave-keeping. He won’t kill them (they are valuable!) But he might fuck them and never set them free.
Neither Trump nor Biden are fit to rule over themselves, let alone us. Biden shows in taped appearances that he relishes invading the space of young girls and children. It must be low-hanging fruit for him, literally. I think it’s a sick kink he has — but it’s all about not respecting the other and actually enjoying taking from them that most basic right — that of integrity of the self and the space it inhabits. Respecting children and their rights is a huge measure of a person’s decency. Those who are petty and low typically lord over children or do worse. I don’t think it’s much of a leap to consider the sickening “finger” allegations about him to be true as well. He has a proprietary take on all of us. How can everyone forget Anita Hill or that weird stolen Neil Kinnock bit? Or how he trashed that man’s life—the one who was in a car crash with his first wife. Biden loved to tell that the man “drank his lunch” when it sounds more like his wife ran a stop sign and that man did not test positive for alcohol — but did lead a sad and ruined life from the accusations. Why let ruining people or stealing the life stories of others mess up a good speech?
My point is that these low functioning shits are what the current US system wants to serve up to us. Their similarity being that nothing will fundamentally change for the great majority, and the extractive system will continue to move along, dragging all of us with it until it just can’t any more because of ecosystem collapse. I devote more time to railing about Biden merely because it’s less obvious — but Trump is malignancy personified.
The only answer is to revisit everything we’ve been taught — all that we have been immersed in from childhood. From that, perils exist, some start to question these things only to be led to an even darker, vindictive place in their minds. The more difficult path is allowing an opening up to new ways of thinking — understanding that the path out will only be through extending rights to others and confronting terrible truths about ourselves — that we feel it’s our right to take from others. It is not. We need to start respecting those who are human, animal, even the mountains and rivers. This is not our usual way of thinking. But this is the only way to get to a future will look like something worth having.
First posted on Counterpunch.
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