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Society versus Capitalism. And the winner is …

Monday 30 July 2018

Saturday’s by-election results presents, if repeated at a general election, with a rather unique opportunity to change the face of Australian politics.

In the busyness of life we have allowed, what at first appeared to be just subtle changes to our society, to manifest into dramatic ones?

We have allowed capitalism to overrun the society we once knew. Everything today is measured by money. Success is measured by the accumulation of it.

Capitalism says, “Greed is good.” Its supporters, contrary to the distaste it infers to others, reckon it’s a positive. They say that greed grows profit and profit is the beginning of innovation and products follow. Products mean choices for those who can afford them.

Money enhances your capacity to get fairness in law. It places you at the front line of the surgery queue.

Capitalism never fights for fairness or equality of opportunity, only for what it can wring out of those who have not, in order to make richer those who have.

Sports people no longer play for the sheer joy of it. In local competitions they demand to be paid for their unexceptional talents.

Large companies screw down wages and ask their suppliers to supply for less than a fair price then try to pay as little tax as possible, if any at all.

Government tells us this is ok because if these firms make loads of money it will drip down to the have not’s but they have never shown us just how it works. All the drip down theory has ever done is make the shareholders of companies wealthier.

There is now a defined disconnect between capitalism and society. Unregulated capitalism has no interest in the health of society, its happiness, its quality of education, our play or indeed the beginning and end of our lives. It is only interested in profit.

People of rightist persuasion believe that so long as the people at the top, the wealthy and privileged, that have all the wealth, get richer and richer, then the others can survive on a meager safety net.

I remember Peter Costello being asked at the end of his tenure as Treasurer about the widening gap between the haves and the have-nots. His answer was to say; “but at least the poor have not become poorer.” It was untrue then and manifestly untrue now,

Just ponder that for a moment and you can see the attitude of the conservative mind.

Indeed we live in a time where horrible things are being perpetrated on us by capitalistic manipulation. The shame is that we have normalised it and adjusted accordingly.

But what about a society that is rich in people because it has invested in education in quality health services and things that really matter?

Have we never measured the savings in preventative health that might be derived from more investment in the system, let alone the happiness factor?

We have forgotten what society is and why we should invest in it in order to create a fairer, better-off and content society. Capitalistic propaganda has reduced us into not knowing the difference between what we want and what we need.

We have been taught to want, want, want, to create more and more profit. In the process of all this wanting we have created a society that suffers from affluenza with a throw away mentality.

We would be a much better society if we took the risk of thinking for ourselves unhindered by the unadulterated crap served up by the media and its best mate capitalism.

Margret Thatcher said (paraphrased):

“There is no such thing as society. There are only individuals making their way. The poor shall be looked after by the drip down effect of the rich”.

Franklin D. Roosevelt said this:

“They who seek to establish systems of government based on the regimentation of all human beings by a handful of individual rulers…call this a new order. It is not new and it is not order”.

Do people ever stop to think how manipulated we have become?

Everything is about our own self-interest, the capitalists not ours. Narcissism has become a national pastime firmly embedded into our psyche.

It is all very well for people of my vintage to see all the pitfalls of what happens when you close down the avenues of political debate. When wealth resides in the hands of a few. When the media is condensed to one voice. We can only raise our voices in loud protest.

On this subject speaking about the merger of Nine and Fairfax my friend Stuart Whitman said:

“The merger (takeover) of Fairfax by the Nine Network does not bode well for the diversity and quality of news sources in an already highly concentrated, Australian media landscape.

Access to evidence-based news with journalistic integrity is integral to an informed populace participating in how they are governed and by whom.

I am sick with fear looking across Australia and around the world as the pillars of democracy gradually crumble everywhere.

There’s a deep anti-democratic rot eating away at trust and the rule of law and reason within our political parties, and across the media and our public institutions.

The capacity to think critically and express ourselves openly and rationally, and compassionately, is being crushed under the weight of ever concentrating power and people too afraid, too confused or too comfortable to challenge it.

What are we left with in the end – the rule of brute power and thuggery justified by wealth and privilege carving up the spoils for an elite few behind closed doors?

Dark times indeed.”

Or as Paul Keating said:

Nine had never done other than display “the opportunism and ethics of an alley cat.

“There has been no commanding ethical or moral basis for the conduct of its news and information policy. Through various changes of ownership, no one has lanced the carbuncle at the centre of Nine’s approach to news management. And, as sure as night follows day, that pus will inevitably leak into Fairfax.

“For the country, this is a great pity”.

Only capitalists in cahoots with big business would seek to eliminate diversity of opinion. Certainly a democratic society would not. There can be no doubt that if the Coalition were to win the next election then the big prize to go after would be the ABC.

We are now a competitive capitalist society. We compete for jobs, for houses, for the best of everything, for places at universities even for childcare. It’s a capitalistic society. It has to be competitive. Competition is the name of the game.

Capitalism tells us that poverty is the fault of the victim but wealth comes from virtue and both are the natural order of things and that meritocracy is a term used to explain that those at the top of the social scale have merit but is also a slur against those at the bottom.

But can we not be satisfied with what we have and build a better society around it.

Why is it CEOs, entertainers and sports stars receive such excessive payments?

Surely “regulated capitalism” incorporating free markets can do more for society without there being an inference that it hinders individual pursuit.

In the absence of a better monetary system ideas are needed for how “regulated capitalism” can more effectively merge with business and how business can better improve its relationship with society.

Business must strive to become more worker friendly and embrace the concept of adding value to society and sustainability for itself. Together with cooperative Unionism a more harmonious society, intent on fairness and equality, might emerge.

Drip down economics is being critiqued all around the world but Conservative Capitalists still believe that the key to personal success or failure is within each individual‘s control. That a safety net is not required. Just three-in-ten Americans agree that government has a responsibility to help the poor.

As usual they see capitalism as separate to society. That capitalism exists as an economic and political system in which a country’s trade and industry are controlled by private owners for profit, rather than by the state.

All it has ever done is immorally make the rich richer beyond measure and the poor poorer on many levels. It has to end with a society for the common good where profit/wealth over and above what is reasonably fair and justifiable is fed back into society to enrich it for the benefit of all.

Richness obtained simply by the practice of overcharging must end and wealth acquired by inheritance should be taxed but riches acquired by hard work, diligence, entrepreneurialism, and enterprise should be encouraged.

My thought for the day

“The happiest of people don’t necessarily have the best of everything. They just make the most of everything they have.”

 


45 comments

  1. New England Cocky

    Back in good form, John.

    Your “Conservative capitalism” is functionally “parasitic capitalism” because it sucks the life stream from the society only for the benefit of the undeserving wealthy and corporates.

    Social economies function by circulating wealth, not limiting it to a decreasing number of individuals, natural or corporate, as occurs in a game of Monopoly.

    Economics is a theory that relies upon limited resources that international bankers have decided is untenable and with policies like “Quantitative Easing” aka “printing money like the Weimar Republic” able to demonstrate that in the absence of a Gold Standard, there is no real fetter upon any sovereign state using the same strategy, then it appears that business will resort to bartering goods again.

    As for Costello, the unfunny half of Abbott & Costello, who rode the financial reforms of Paul Keating during the financially destructive Howard LNP disasters, possibly the less said the better. Upon his retirement from stalking Muddles Turdball for evicting his father-in-law from the safe political sinecure of Wentworth, his absence from the ranks of post-politics corporate directorships probably reflected his standing among the management classes. Now, in charge of this “Nine” takeover of the SMH his meagre talents will again be seen. How unfortunate.

  2. Roscoe

    in all the talk about Nine and Fairfax it is all about how good it will be for the shareholders, reading today the reception has been lukewarm at best, but nothing has been said about any benefits for those readers of the Herald, they just dont count in any of it

  3. Harry

    It will be a long road back from the predatory, rapacious and destructive strain of capitalism we have today. It is an inevitable result of neoliberal ideology that began to prevade economic and political thought back in the 1970’s.

    This heartless ideology has infested most political parties and largely resulted in the withering of the public sector. We once had an effective social democracy wherein there was a strong role for public entities providing solid public services, the wage share of national income was greater, unemployment was never more than about 2%, and inequality was much less than it is today.

    Signs of a backlash are apparent though, both in the U.K. (Jeremy Corbin) and here. If the ALP is elected next year as now seems likely they can start to undo the damage. I hope Wayne Swan is able to exert political influence as he appears to have rejected neoliberal ideology. I am not so sure about Chris Bowen.

    Governments are far from helpless to re-regulate capitalism and can withstand pushback from capital as long as they take the majority of voters with them.

  4. David Ransom

    The portents are as obvious as they are unheeded.
    Communism failed; unbridled capitalism will fail also.
    Perhaps the answer is a delicate balance between the two; perhaps it’s a technological process we have yet to explore.
    Currently capitalistic incentive fuels advancement. But the inequity that flows from it feeds comparative poverty, abject poverty and even slavery.
    The term “regulated capitalism” or perhaps “ cooperative capitalism” suggests harnessing human ambition for the greater good. “Controlled selfishness” is a blunt way of putting it. But how that is achieved is the real question.
    To think individuals will adopt as their primary goal the advancement of society above personal ambition is hopeful to say the least, especially societies that have been forged in the capitalist mould.
    Unfortunately those supporting opposing philosophies appear increasingly irreconcilable.
    Equally unfortunate is that history shows that radical philosophical/ economic/political change rarely comes without violent revolution – the antidote of the despotic, the desperate, the ignorant and the foolhardy.
    Change however will come; it must.
    The old way is not sustainable.
    Surely its not a vain hope that technology will provide systems which will encourage, even demand, fairer societies. However, that in itself raises innumerable questions about how that might be achieved.

  5. Kaye Lee

    We know the price of everything and the value of nothing.

  6. Karl Young

    John where in the Capitalist Doctrine does it say Greed Is Good? I think you are being little emotional and sensational.

  7. Kaye Lee

    Karl,

    Capitalism is inherently exploitative because the owners of capital only pay labour for the cost of survival (food, shelter, clothing, etc), while keeping any excess profits. Since capitalists control the means of production (e.g. factories, businesses, machinery) and workers control only their labour, the worker is naturally coerced into allowing their labour to be exploited, and is not paid according to the true worth of his labour but arbitrarily according to what the employer is willing to pay. The “free market” is weighted towards those who already own property. Of course, if those who owned the property fulfilled their part of the social contract, things could be different. But being shareholders removes them from ethical responsibility. Pillage and plunder while you can get away with it. Obscene bonuses for CEOs if they increase share dividends by cutting costs ie paying suppliers and workers less and charging consumers more. Rape the environment quick before they bring in laws to protect it. Extract everything you can from poor nations.

  8. Keith

    During Howard’s period as PM, there was an article about “Conspcuous Compassion” in their newsletter. The theme of the article was you need to be cruel to be kind. Though, such a notion has been pushed completely into cruelty. To call come LNP politicians “F*****g B******s” is to be very polite towards them.

  9. helvityni

    John Lord, I totally agree with your article, and with your ‘thought of the day’.

    I watched Nordic Noir in the weekend, the last of a Norwegian series called aptly MAMMON…

    At a local shopping mall I witnessed a rather tired looking mum telling her five year old daughter that she could not afford a certain toy she wanted to have , and to have it NOW…

    Mum relented, as they walked away the girl dropped the toy and did not even to turn around to see what happened…sad.

  10. Karl Young

    I agree with you Madam.And I’d love to hear of some your immediate solutions.

  11. Kaye Lee

    Karl,

    That’s too broad a brief for a comments section. Can you be a bit more specific and I will try?

    It’s interesting how conservatives use the word socialist as a perjorative…or worse still Marxist. They bleat endlessly about class warfare if reducing some of the benefits the wealthy enjoy is even contemplated. They brand any collective voice for the workers as thugs and make any attempt to withhold labour illegal. They rush to sell off our assets and privatise our services. They describe welfare recipients as a burden.

    “According to Marx, it is class struggle (the evolving conflict between classes with opposing interests) that is the means of bringing about changes in a society’s mode of production, and that structures each historical period and drives historical change. He believed that the Capitalist mode of production enables the bourgeoisie (or owners of capital) to exploit the proletariat (or workers) , and that a socialist revolution must occur in order to establish a “dictatorship of the proletariat” with the ulimate goal of public ownership of the means of production, distribution, and exchange, and the self-emancipation of the working class.”

    No wonder they don’t like Marx.

  12. harry

    Karl: the reality is that economic and political power has tilted heavily towards capital over the last thirty + years. Capital has taken advantage of that shift.

    The ideology of neoliberalism has provided the intellectual justification for that shift, aided by compliant governments. Result: poorer public services for the many, persistently high unemployment and under- employment, (once no more than 2%- now over 5%), the wage share of national income has not kept up with the growth in labour productivity so the profit share is at historic highs, many ordinary employees are struggling to pay mortgages or rents as prices have skyrocketed under neoliberalism, mental illness is rife, but hey share holders and CEO’s are doing just fine. THe CEO of Dominos is on $36M PA for running a Pizza empire !!!

    So yes there is a “Greed is Good” mentality and I strongly disagree that John is being a little emotional and sensational.

  13. Kaye Lee

    We could start by giving employees a share in business profits. We could cap CEOs salaries at a multiple of the average (or lowest) wage of employees. We could start government businesses in areas where the current free market has failed – I’d start with getting rid of job providers and re-establishing the CES (not that the government-paid and highly-rorted job search are free market). We could distribute a portion of the earnings of the Future Fund to every citizen. We could actually punish companies for price-gouging and regulate against profit-shifting. The mind wanders in many directions.

  14. Karl Young

    Ok If you had the power for one change only? What is the one thing,the first thing, you would implement or change? And anyone else could comment as well.

  15. Kaye Lee

    Carbon-pricing

  16. harry

    Karl: back on you mate. What would you do?

  17. Karl Young

    harry
    I would implement a very basic psychoanalysis test on anyone entering politics.And a small exam on empathy would prove invaluable.

  18. harry

    Yes fine as far as it goes but is that the limit of your prescription ? And how realistic and useful is an outdated psychoanalysis theory anyway as a tool and why would the politicians agree to it?

    I have a far more comprehensive approach but its too long to detail here so I will direct you and others to a link:

    https://newdemocracyparty.org.au/Vision/Australia.php

    A question you may ask with justification for the proposals in the link is: “where
    is the money going to come from”, or “how will this be paid for”?

    That is also addressed here:

    https://newdemocracyparty.org.au/home/economy.php

  19. Harry

    Karl: I would start by implementing a Job Guarantee in which any person willing and able to work will be offered a meaningful job by the federal government at a socially acceptable minimum wage along with training, support and mechanisms for transitioning participants to the private sector if he/she wishes.

    Federally funded, locally run. Would mop up the poverty and despair associated with unemployment in short order. There is NEVER a shortage of social/community useful jobs to do in both in regions and cities.

    Part time and casual workers can also participate in the job guarantee scheme on a part time basis to “top up” their hours of paid employment

    Government supported modern apprenticeships and traineeships

    Government supported micro and small business pathways and incubators that educate and encourage participants to work together new and innovative business models that are predicated upon collaboration, cooperation and community

  20. DrakeN

    Great article and pertinent commentary.
    Thank you all.

    Karl, there is no “Capitalist Doctrine” unless you consider “Dog eat Dog” to be a doctrine rather than default behaviour.

    John, you ask: “Do people ever stop to think how manipulated we have become?”

    I would suggest that if some do so, then it is an infrequent occurence.
    Of those that do, I imagine that the concept would be broadly rejected on the simple basis that “You can’t fool me” has more acceptability than “You’ve damned well conned me again.”
    A triumph of ego over pragmatism.

  21. diannaart

    Excellent work, John.

    @ Karl Young

    I suggest anyone with power be assessed for anti-social tendencies – big business needs a compliant government to continue exploitation of the less powerful.

  22. John lord

    Karl. I think others have answered your question for me however might I suggest a visit to a Charasmatic church one Sunday. It’s implied if not preached.

  23. DrakeN

    @ diannaart,
    Thorough psychiatric assessments of this world’s politicians, business and religious leaders would probably disclose a significant concentration of sociopathic and psychopathic tendencies within those cohorts.
    Excluding such persons from positions of power and authority would lead to a collapse of the present ‘world order’: Hardly a bad thing, but quite unlikely to eventuate 😉

  24. guest

    Much talk recently about Western Civilisation and its legacy. Reading ‘The Silk Roads’ by Peter Frankopan, I find that Western Civilisation is not a pure as the driven snow as we might be led to believe by such spruikers as John Howard and Tony Abbott. The treachery and deceit exhibited in the West’s dealings with the Middle East is appalling. And we have seen plundering and exploitation around the world in the greed of European colonial empires and today in the ex-empires from which people are fleeing in their millions.

    The big claim is that capitalism has lifted millions out of poverty, but poverty is a relative measure. There are still millions living and dying in abject poverty. Yet we think we can give all people what they want by increasing wealth through growth in consumption – and we know there are not enough resources to go around. One day we will be mining our land-fills.

    Meanwhile, we are destroying the planet with destruction of the environment, driving non-domestic animals into extinction, causing climate change in the burning of fossil fuels, and turning the seas into plastic soup.

    Yet the born to rule seem to be the ones who deny that there is any problem in all this consumption. Turnbull says he is going to “humbly examine” present coalition policies, yet before the by-elections we were led to believe that Coalition policies are immutable and the only policies they are committed to. Interesting times.

    So we have in SA’s Mayo electorate Downer telling the electorate that the Downers are “nation builders” and that people should have more respect. It is a true aristocratic attitude of the ‘born to rule’. Voters in Mayo are apparently ‘new arrivals’ who need to learn how to vote, and not criticise those who espouse IPA right-wing thought bubbles.

    If Labor wins the next election, they will have a huge task to clean up the mess. Australia is trapped in the web of neo-liberal capitalism and corporate global control. Tied by trade deals and agreements which affect us all, yet can be changed by governments which find their policies are in conflict with such concerns as human rights. Even in our dealings with China we are fearful of Chinese power – and we arm up in case we need to defend ourselves from our trading partner.

    But Frankopan tells us that there are changes afoot with the ‘Silk Road Economic Belt’ which will connect China with Europe through Central Asia, where there are people and cities and resources which will more than match Oz’s little colonial out-post. We are in danger of becoming a banana republic isolated on the backside of the world unless changes are made.

    More of the ‘Muddle in the Middle’ Malcolm and his Trump Jr ideology will not do it. Shorten must be prepared to face the Herculean task of cleaning out the stables.

  25. Ian Hughes

    Excellent article John, thank you. Unfortunately, for many capitalists, greed is more important than social responsibility.

    But not all business leaders are like this. I had the privilege to work for a US software company called Salesforce. The CEO, Marc Benioff, had a personal mantra of “the business of business is to improve the state of the world”. As a newbie I was a bit cynical when I first heard it but I became a believer because Marc lived what he preached. Hospitals, schools, disadvantaged neighbourhoods all benefited from his personal giving and, more importantly, his encouragement for all Salesforce employees to give back to their local community.

    When I was there every employee received 7 days of paid leave each year to give back to their community. For example, I used to volunteer at Foodbank. If you used all 7 days you were rewarded with US$1,000 to give to the charity (ies) of your choice.

    Salesforce also introduced their 1:1:1 model ie. 1% of revenue, 1% of product and 1% of employee time would be directed towards charities. With some 20,000 employees world-wide this amounts to a lot of good. The 1:1:1 model is promoted everywhere and is followed by some Australian companies – Atlassian is one, I think.

    Benioff also introduced a program to ensure women were paid equally to men for the same work.

    This is not meant to be a ‘paid political advert’ for Salesforce but, simply, an example of a business whose attitude reflects very strong values and community service and led from the top of the organisation. It can be done with the right leadership.

    If only every business adopted and lived the mantra of “the business of business is to improve the state of the world” just imagine what could be achieved!

  26. Florence Howarth

    The money comes from those who pay tax for the benefit of all.

  27. Kathy Heyne

    Re: ” Unregulated capitalism has no interest in the health of society…”
    There is nothing unregulated about neoliberal capitalism. What we have now is the result of very deliberate regulation.

  28. totaram

    “We are now a competitive capitalist society. We compete for jobs, for houses, for the best of everything, for places at universities even for childcare. It’s a capitalistic society. It has to be competitive. Competition is the name of the game.”

    I have to disagree slightly. Unfettered (i.e. unregulated) capitalism, hates competition. The whole idea of the neoliberal enterprise is to dismantle all the regulations that ensure competition across a level playing field. Just think back to how they removed “red-tape” and made way for the banks and financial institutions to bring about the GFC. Just look at all the Coalition rhetoric about “removing red-tape”, which is code for removing regulation that prevents the formation of oligopolies. “Competition” is just used as a cover when there is a need to privatise what are essentially natural monopolies or oligopolies built by governments. Of course, no competition takes place and no one is benefited except the owners of the newly “privatised” assets. For the consumer, prices will only go up. Electricity is a perfect example. Toll roads are another clever scheme where the costs are socialised and the profits are privatised. Correct me if I am wrong, but I believe the Victorian East-link is the most profitable toll-road in the world. These are dubbed “PPP”. We all know what that stands for, but the reality is quite different. It is a wholly asymmetric partnership.

    I could go on. My point is that “true” competition is not a bad thing per se. Like “budgets” it is a hugely simplified concept that can be twisted to fool and befuddle the average voter. Simply “bringing the budget back to surplus” is a sort of Holy Grail, when there is a “need to live within our means” but not spoken of when huge tax-cuts are proposed. Until we are able to cut through this framing and brain-washing carried out by the MSM, we will always be victims of the neoliberal agenda.

  29. totaram

    Florence: As usual, the reality is more complex. The money comes from the govt. which creates the fiat currency, but the govt. needs “fiscal space” to spend that money without triggering inflation. That fiscal space is created by taxation. Taxation can also be used to satisfy the political purpose of “reducing wealth inequality”, which is extremely important to avoid capture of the democratic process by the wealthy. You only have to see how bad this capture is by looking at the USA.

    Simply put: the money does not come from taxation, but we need taxation badly.

  30. Kerri

    But where is the pleasure in being a hard working Liberal voter if any of those dirty poor Labor voters can catch up? And that’s why we have a GST, tax relief for the wealthy and every other shonky tax deal, royal commission, piece of legislation from the LNP. Not just to make the rich richer but to keep a good stock of peasants below them so they can feel they are the best. Alexander Downer hit the nail on the head after his sprog failed to snatch a seat from the hard working Rebekha Sharkie, ( please read this with a pompous voice in your head) “we are a nation building family”.
    Sad news for Fishnets, but it is the labourers of this country that made it a nation, not the blood sucking, priveleged aristocracy.

  31. Philip Breen

    In 2008 it was a big mistake to allow the capitalist at capitalist central to declare they were “too big to fail”. The flip side of what they said was a fair society was not “too big to fail” and it was in fact fair game. It should have been the other way around. Society has been made the servant of capitalism instead of the other way round, and that is very bad and getting worse and it is a capitalism run for a tiny few. Think of it like a monopoly game. You are required to play but at the table is a player who is “too big to fail”. Whatever happens they will simply be given cash to bail them out and some of it will be your cash. You – on the other hand – have no fallback but poverty and homelessness. The guy who cannot go broke must win simply by the laws of chance (if nothing else) and you must lose. It is not rocket science.
    But at last there is some acknowledging of the link between neo-liberal capitalist policies and the coarsening and atomisation of society and rising anger, insecurity and bigotry. Time for those on the left to stop snuggling up to this system. Hell, even the capitalists at capitalist central don’t like neo-liberal capitalism … for themselves. Remember, they have declared they are “too big to fail” since the GFC so there are no market forces for them and their own. That stuff is for controlling the peasants. They leave their business risk in the treasuries of the West and pocket the profits.
    At the time of the GFC we should have declared a fair society is “too big to fail” and to hell with the money changers, not the other way round as was done. Time to wake up.

  32. Christian Marx

    Great article. Capitalism is a cancer and sadly I think it will destroy the world, unless there is
    a violent revolution. People will become so desperate and in such dire poverty they will eventually rise up.
    History repeats and sadly the wealthy never learn. Australia has never had a revolution, but if the system continues the way it is, revolution in this country is almost certain.

  33. John Lord

    Thanks to all who appreciated my writing and for all the wonderful and very informed comments.

  34. corvus boreus

    John Lord,
    Your thanks are reflected amplified.
    Even if I miss the regularity of your pices, I love the intensity nthat has come with the lightening of your volume.

    Dry Capitalism?
    3 Big Problems.

    1) The bleeding obvious incompatibility of a system based on ever-expanding consumption in an ever-expanding population operating within a finite resource system.

    2) That this overload is further burdened by inherently parasitic mechanisms within current financial system, especially in terms of factors like artificial currency generation through accumulated debt interest translating into actual currency devaluation.

    3)The whole flawed thing then having the majority of this power over wealth increasingly being systematically conglomerated into unaccountable in-corporations, cliques of clinical psychopaths who cynically manipulate both governments and societies.
    This carcinogenic corporate influence runs through public policy making, media dissemination of deliberate misinformation, through saturation marketing of fast ‘products with designer obsolescences and negative rpairability, down to the proliferation of low-vis grey cars to induce more vehicle collisions (an occurance which profits manufacturers at a cost to consumer and insurer).

    Solutions?
    That would require much bigger paragraphs, and way more brain cells.

  35. Kaye Lee

    “Do people ever stop to think how manipulated we have become?”

    My husband works very long hours and it is our habit to, when he gets home, go sit on the verandah and debrief (or not) over a glass of wine.

    When I tell him about the latest lie, rort, manipulation, nepotism, corruption etc, he can only listen for a short while before disgust makes him say “I can’t listen to any more of this crap. I have enough to deal with.” I heard the exact same sentiment expressed by a voter leaving the booth on Saturday.

    And that is exactly how capitalism has been allowed to deteriorate into robbery by the rich and powerful. Keep the worker tired, in debt, and in doubt about their job. They don’t have the time, energy or security to spend time on something they think they can’t change and they cannot afford to risk making waves. Scandal after scandal have become the norm, blunting any rage we may have felt about the lack of integrity and decency. Politics is a game played in a different playground, far removed from the daily struggle to survive.

  36. Lonevoice

    Christian Marx =but if the system continues the way it is, revolution in this country is almost certain.
    I think you may have been born in the wrong century with your Che thinking as the only chance of a revolution would be if Governments banned Social Media and smartphones.
    Right now without any sign of revolution-in fact UE is sliding Right- we have
    844 million people living without access to safe water
    2.3 Billion people living without access to improved sanitation
    every 90 seconds a child dies from a water-related disease
    1 million people killed by water, sanitation and hygiene-related disease each year
    Nearly 1/2 of the world’s population — more than 3 billion people — live on less than $2.50 a day. More than 1.3 billion live in extreme poverty — less than $1.25 a day. 1 billion children worldwide are living in poverty. According to UNICEF, 22,000 children die each day due to poverty.
    Now that is where you need to lead your band of revolutionaries!
    Viva la revolution

  37. Egalitarian

    That’s why it’s winning. People have become pawns and they just want some sense in their daily lives. The Puppet Masters have made their deals a long time ago. Kaos and second guessing is the new norm.

  38. corvus boreus

    In the interests of pursuing my hobby of condensing complexities into clichés;

    Many workers are shackled and burdened by mounting credit-debt, beit borne of necessity or the result of addiction to acquisition
    Whether we ostensibly labour for others or themselves, so many of us are too attention-exhausted by our immediate lot (not too mention too distracted by broadcast trivia) to take any meaningful interest in understanding or influencing the deliberately mysterious machinations of our masters.

  39. Graham

    @ Philip Breen, good monopoly analogy of the TBTF leaners.
    @ Christian Marx, re ‘violent revolution’, any examples of where the outcome was a success?
    Revolutions revolve, the same thing around and around. Look at Russia and China.
    State rule with brutal force. Brute force begets brute rule. Isn’t it obvious where violence leads?

    I feel there is a better way for society to renew itself.
    What if enough people stopped playing by the rules.
    The protectors of the status quo, at the least, want us all to play the role of good little insatiable consumers.
    Can you see the OFF switch?
    How about if we all cut back on being unconscious consumers of:
    1. junk things, and
    2. junk coding in the form of mainstream commentary.

  40. corvus boreus

    Geaham,
    First 3 broad practical suggestions I could make in terms of individual ‘lifestyle de-junkifications’ would be ” get the phuq out of your car, ride or walk instead, grow and make as much of your own necessity as you can, and spend less passive time in the direct path of irradiative broadcasts of commercial imperatives”.

    Public policy wise, the first ‘big idea’ that I’d like to see would be a science-based efficiency audit placed on all marketed electronic/mechanical items.
    Parameters would include responsibility of resource sourcing, quality of functive performance, power-usage, durability, repair-ability and i as well as capacity for nterchangability and upgrade/alteration.
    The tabulated results could then be incorporated into equations for governmental levees, essentially delivering a sales-tax on practices like designer obsolescence (the cruxal insertion of small flimsy bits that break a week after warranty).

    Ps, This would also have the added bonus of giving more science-grads employment not in the realm of the corporate dark side.

  41. Kaye Lee

    So many things we could and should be doing. If only the greedy (and religious) would get out of the way.

    We need to get more active about rewarding ethical sustainable business practice and boycotting the exploiters. We need to put pressure on our superannuation funds and the future funds to do likewise. These are our funds that they are investing. We have a moral responsibility to ensure they are not being used on environmentally destructive, polluting, labour-exploiting businesses.

    Businesses must have a plan to reuse, recycle or dispose of the waste through the lifetime of the product from production to end-of-life and contribute to the cost. They should be incentivised/rewarded for doing well at it so they do some research into how to minimise waste and some logistical thinking into how to collect and reuse

  42. Kyran

    As an observation, the heading sort of says it all. As mentioned in the article itself, we are brought up (or is that conditioned?) in an adversarial world with the premise of everything being ‘versus’. Everything is measured in the context of a contest, requiring there be a winner and a loser.
    Whilst there can be no doubt that ‘society’ is perceived as a competing factor with ‘capitalism’, the reality is different. Society refers to how we, as a collective, interact with each other and cohabit – respecting an individual rights and needs, but measuring it against the ‘common good’ as a desirable, if not necessary, outcome.
    Capitalism, like all the ‘ism’s’, exists as a component of society, one of the ‘economic driver’ models, not a competing factor.
    Jared Diamond’s books are incredible in that they overlay different ‘society’s’ and measure how they fared in terms of longevity and success. He puts heavy weight on ‘environmental’ factors, both natural and confected, and on the social overlay, ie hierarchy. A pattern becomes evident that predates both democracy and religion, which is best explained by his analysis of Easter Island.
    The society evolved with ‘priests’ and ‘chiefs’, being people who justified their elite status by claiming a relationship with ‘the gods’. Being the 1600’s, the gods were the deliverers of prosperity and ‘bountiful harvests’. They buttressed that ideology with monumental architecture and ceremonies, justified as homage and appeasement for and of the gods, which simultaneously controlled and impressed the masses. By harnessing the rewards of ‘collective endeavours’ – such as food production and surpluses, provision of shelter against the elements – the ruling elite justified their status. As their promises proved increasingly shallow (the gods did not behave according to the promises made), the power of the chiefs and priests was eventually overthrown by military leaders and the formerly complex integrated society collapsed into civil war.
    The ‘ruling elites’ is the societal structure of most ‘civilisations’. Whether the elites justify their existence through gods or bloodline (the nobility) is largely irrelevant. At the moment, the ruling elites are, arguably, the corporate gods. It is the same old promise and is destined for the same old demise. Their promise of bountiful harvests sufficient for all is hollow. When that is realised, there will be military intervention and it will invariably descend into a civil war of sorts. Then we’ll find a new elite to rule us, rinse and repeat.
    Mr Marx’s observation that there will be a revolution and it will be violent is stating the obvious. The popular insurrection is as old as slavery. The French and English revolutions of the 1700’s were meant to see the end of such abuses of power, yet only served to replace it with another institution which entrenched another abuse of power. Historically, there aren’t too many examples of those having power relinquishing it voluntarily, let alone enthusiastically.
    Here’s a thought. Democracy. “Rule of the people” has been discussed since around 5BC. It predates, by millennia, the formalized notion of ‘God’ as evidenced by novels such as the bible, the quran or the torah. Numerous religious structures were tried as a source of authority all over the place. When the gods didn’t deliver what was promised by their human representatives, they were replaced. We then had the notion of ‘nobility’ or ‘aristocracy’. Same deal.
    On the other hand, suffrage on any wholesale basis wasn’t even tried until the late 1800’s. Whilst universal suffrage is a relatively recent thing, it has been seriously curtailed (on a global basis) through its implementation as a duopoly. Most political systems represented as democracy are typically offered as a choice of two established parties – usually characterized as ‘left’ or ‘right’.
    In those intervening centuries, we’ve tried all manner of social protections such as the principles of the Magna Carta, or the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, to represent ideals on which you can found an equal society. It is not in the interests of the ruling elites now, any more than it was back then, to see notions of equality getting any credence on a universal basis.
    Capitalism and communism are not examples of society, they are merely two alternative economic drivers. Arguably, neither has genuinely been tried yet. Both seek to put emphasis on one or other facet of the means of production in their theory, yet both have been usurped by a small group to entrench their privilege in their practice (to date).
    Communism favours labour, capitalism seeks to favour capital. The Russian and Chinese experiments are no more a measure of communism than what we portray now as ‘free markets’ is a measure of capitalism. In any event, both are matters of return on investment (whether the initial investment be labour or capital) and, therefore, merely economic functions.
    Neither model as practiced in recent centuries respects or accepts the finite nature of our host environment, dear old mother earth. None of the ‘governance’ models tried to date offer anything other than replacement of one hierarchical structure with another.
    As a global community, we have never been better placed to actually try this democracy thingy. Mr Lord has written often about direct democracy as a model. Australia is better placed than most countries to establish it as it wouldn’t require constitutional change, only reform of the Electoral Act.
    Obviously, the fundamental flaw is the great unknown. Would we be able to have sufficient trust in each other to put significant matters to a ‘popular’ vote and accept the popular outcome?
    Here’s ‘the thing’. Globally, trust in our politicians has never been lower, and it disimproves every time one of these idiots opens their mouths. I might not trust all my neighbours, but I’d have more trust in them than in those ‘elected’ to represent them. There is no doubt our current government is no more than shambolic. The sad reality is that, for all of Labor’s policies that demonstrate some slowing of the lurch to the right, they go nowhere near enough to protect our environment or the rights of Australian citizens.
    We keep doing the same thing, over and over, the only change being the label we hang on the ruling elites and the names we call those being ruled. It would be great to try this democracy thing, if only in the belief that things can’t get any worse by trusting each other.
    Oh, as an aside, Mr Diamond does frequently refer to our First People as an example of the only culture and civilization that has survived continuously for over 60,000 + years. The observation being that they have been deeply cognizant of the inherent value of the environment and see evolution as a means of adapting to changing circumstance. Mr Marx’s comment is reflective of western society’s values, where frustration with the inadequacy of whichever ruling elite is in power leads to unrest, then revolution, then replacement with another ruling elite.
    Having started with an observation about your heading, it only seems fair to finish by offering an alternative. “‘Evolution’ or ‘Revolution’? Why don’t we all decide?”
    Thank you Mr Lord and commenters. I’ll go back to my ‘job hunting’ now, so I can aspire to rejoin the consumerist race. Take care

  43. Winston

    The winner is…..Capitalism

  44. Nick C

    Capitalism cannot be saved. Nor should it. It needs to be dismantled and we nee a new system.
    Capitalism is based on continuous growth. One cannot have continuous growth on a finite planet with finite resources.

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