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Another excellent Progressive writer: Medium’s Umair Haque

June 16, 2019

Haque, a Medium writer is a another powerful writer on a level with Tim Wise, especially, and Robert Reich, on economics and race. He really shows the detrimental effects of “pure” capitalism, and also discusses “Anglo” civilization. (and the two are indelibly intertwined, as “capitalism” is the primary means the Anglos try to dominant the world through, with colonialism and slavery as simply an earlier means of accomplishing that, and now, conquest dome directly through economics, and thus made to look like the subjects are really “free”.

I had been tacking his articles to other threads (mostly the Reich review), but knew all along, he deserves his own thread. So here is what’s being untacked from Reich (and there are still other comments in other pertinent threads, such as “the Political Spectrum is really 3D” and “Iceman Inheritance”).

How Capitalism Convinced Americans the Only Things That Matters is Capitalism
Why Americans Put the Success of Capitalism Above Their Own Lives Falling Apart

https://eand.co/how-capitalism-convinced-americans-the-only-things-that-matters-is-capitalism-90a9d3e7fdc3

And yet the average American was not just left uneducated about this — he was conditioned against it. He was only told one economic principle, over and over again — the very one he is still told today: his living standards are not the economy, only capitalists increasing their capital is the economy, and therefore, as long as capitalism is succeeding, the economy is roaring, and everything is fine. But note the implication of this logic. If what it takes for “the economy”, which is really capitalism, to go on increasing its capital, is to chew through his life — his savings, his income, his home, his retirement, his opportunity, town, city, community, future — then that is perfectly justified, right, and acceptable. He should celebrate it — because the economy is booming!! That boom will one day shower him with fortune, too.

Do you see the weird, backwards, illogic? It’s something like a bribe. Capitalism promises the proles the glittering rewards that capitalists win — but it has no intention of ever giving it to him. It makes that promise by dazzling him with the idea that the economy is just capitalism — not his daily bread, and that if he needs to give up his daily bread to capitalism, today then he should do it, and that is a small price to pay, because one day, capitalism will make a baron and tycoon of him — it will make a king of everyone, after all.

Should point out the blame of liberal social policies for the proles’ hardships. I.e. that it would be working as designed, if only the liberals weren’t giving all the money to undeserving minorities and others.

How Capitalism Cost Americans Their Dignity
Why Dignity is the Highest Kind of Freedom

https://eand.co/how-capitalism-cost-america-dignity-5df15cef18a6

Why the World is Giving Up on Freedom
Or, Why Neoliberalism is Ending in Authoritarianism Rising Around the Globe Again

https://eand.co/why-is-the-world-giving-up-on-freedom-e50a9bec5303

But it’s one thing for everyone’s incomes to flatline — and quite another for the rich to grow super-rich, while the average stagnates. The second great cost of neoliberalism was inequality. It wasn’t just that incomes got stuck — it was that rich grew fantastically, absurdly, grotesquely richer. That meant that a predatory economy had emerged. Growth was being siphoned off by the rich from the average — unless you believe that teacher, engineer, or doctor contributes nothing to a society’s prosperity. The rich were getting richer by doing things which made the average person poorer, not richer, too — things like financial engineering, stock market bubbles, property investment, all glorified ponzi schemes, which create less than no real lasting well being or value for anyone at all.

The Price of American Greatness
Does a Nation Need to be Great to be Worthy?

https://eand.co/the-price-of-american-greatness-c04bf800d7dd

Great is a word that has many meanings, but they can be divided into two halves. Greatness as magnanimity, as overcoming, as a kind of giving — as standing beside. Or greatness as superiority, as outdoing, as a need for admiration — as standing above. Whether or not you think that America somehow made a transition from the first to the second, it should easy to observe that the second kind of greatness is what America has aspired to in recent decades. Call it the degeneration of greatness, if you like.

What happens a society is built upon that second kind of greatness, greatness as superiority? When that is the fundamental norm, value, code, which governs it? Well, if that nation must be the best, then the people in it must be the best, too. But that means they themselves have created a kind of paradox. They cannot all be the best. Some will just be average, ordinary people. Some will struggle and languish. But what will a society devoted to greatness think of them?

It will scorn, despise, and loathe them, won’t it? They will be punished. They will be seen as liabilities and burdens. Soon enough, a kind of ethical and moral perversion will happen. Because only the best are good enough, the ordinary are bad. And what is perfectly right and just is to punish and neglect and admonish them. So the meaning of the “best” when greatness is superiority is itself the ability to trample others, and be the last one left standing. The “best” ends up meaning ruthlessness, cunning, self-preservation, and egotism.

Isn’t that exactly where America has found itself? The average person doesn’t deserve the following things, we’re told: healthcare, education, finance, a retirement. A life of dignity and respect. Instead, what is morally just is for a person who is merely average to live a life of unrelenting fear, anxiety, and despair, to be crushed every day by the dread of paying one’s bills and providing for one’s kids. Ordinary is not good enough — it’s only deserving of punishment.

Only if one is mega rich does one deserve anything like psychological peace, safety, happiness — not to mention dignity, respect, and belonging.


Capitalism is Why Americans are Subsidizing the World’s Richest Man (LOL)
Why American Ideas of the Way Societies Grow Wealthy and Prosper are Obsolete

https://eand.co/capitalism-is-why-americans-are-subsidizing-the-worlds-richest-man-lol-8a775a22fdbb

Let’s start at zero: capitalism isn’t the platonic ideal of self-correcting competition— that’s a fantasy, a fairy tale. This is the self-evident reality of capitalism— monopolies extracting wealth. How much? Well, first, no amount of wealth will ever be enough— not even the most wealth in human history is. There is no boundary condition, no point of satiation, which means there is also no line of conscience or morality. So, second, capitalism will never do the “right thing” — aka in this case, help a broken society build the systems it desperately needs— out of the kindness of its heart, because it doesn’t have one. Third, capitalism’s central principle is to exploit— which means that I take as much as I possibly can get away with, from you.

Societies have turning points on the way to maturity, and one of the most crucial for a modern one is to grapple with the difficult truth that capitalism at the mega scale is a harmful, abusive system, whose greed is boundless, literally never-ending— instead of pretending, as immature societies often do, that capitalism is some kind of noble and virtuous contest.

Now, note the assumption here: the only way a society grows is through capitalism, and that means that capitalists, too, have the power to withhold prosperity from a society — and that way, to hold it ransom. What if they decide to do that?

The Greatest Lesson From History You Probably Never Learned
The Lesson the 20th Century is Trying to Teach the 21st

https://eand.co/the-greatest-lesson-from-history-you-probably-never-learned-e73c861b9682

What’s unique about America? It’s that it got the social contract of modernity — people provide each other the necessities, and capitalism provides the luxuries — absolutely backwards. America, unique amongst rich nations — all nations, in fact, tried a social contract where capitalism provides people the necessities, and the luxuries, things like yachts and mansions and so forth, are often had by way of a kind of weird, inverse socialism — cronyism, how close you are to powerful politicians and capitalists and so on, how many subsidies you can grab, how much you take from others.

In other words, America has always been testing the hypothesis that more exploitation leads to more prosperity. First, it did it through slavery, and then through segregation, and now, through capitalism. Milder forms, maybe — yet the principle remains the same.


Six Myths About Capitalism Everyone Should Know

https://eand.co/six-myths-about-capitalism-everyone-should-know-f5d582b225ae

Why Most People Who Believe They’re Capitalists Are the Opposite of Capitalists
Why Americans Have a Textbook Case of False Consciousness
https://eand.co/why-most-people-who-believe-theyre-capitalists-are-the-opposite-of-capitalists-a631f7450bdf

In other words, my friend [who imagines that as CEO, he’d make sure that he maximized fairness, decency, equity, a square deal, goodness, truth, justice.] imagines that the problem is not the system — it is the people. If only the people were different — maybe people like him (or maybe not, and maybe I am being unfair) — if only there were virtuous and noble people at the heads of all these institutions, then overnight, a magical wonderland of capitalist utopia, a place of self-regulating markets, happy people, and better lives, would dawn. The problem is that none of that is true. The problem isn’t the people, really — it’s the system. You can be the noblest and kindest and nicest person in the universe. But if I made you a CEO in American capitalism — you would have to do terrible, strange, and backwards things. Things that you probably didn’t want to do. But you would have no choice in any way whatsoever.

This is basically the conservative “the problem with capitalism is capitalists” sentiment (where the “problem with communism is communism“; i.e. the system is inherently bad, while these imperfect, flawed capitalists have managed to create this perfect system, but they’re only human, so ‘boys will be boys’, and so that’s why this system is so rough for many. Oh, and also, those meddling closet communists with their taxes and regulations, are making it fail!

America’s Choice is Collapse or Social Democracy (And So is the World’s)
Why the Future Won’t be Made by Liberalism versus Conservatism
https://eand.co/americas-choice-is-collapse-or-social-democracy-and-so-is-the-world-s-7c147a0f7c51

America’s politics, uniquely, remained stuck, split, in a weird, binary way, between “liberals” and “conservatives” — mostly because America was clinging on to old notions of supremacy, still institutionalized in segregation, which ruled out any kind of social democracy absolutely.

So what did decades of binary liberalism versus conservatism accomplish for America? Did the dialectic lead to progress? Not at all. It led to stagnation. The answer to what did liberalism and conservatism achieve for America is: precisely nothing. Less than nothing, in fact, one could argue.

The average American’s life isn’t more prosperous today than yesterday — it’s less so. Life expectancy is falling. His income is less than his grandfather’s. He’s broke, though he works longer hours, at a less stable job. Suicides are soaring — and maybe he himself is giving up on life. Who could blame him? He faces bizarre, weird, and gruesome problems, like his kids being shot at school, and having to beg strangers for money for healthcare online. He spends sleepless night wondering he ended up impoverished, despite playing by the rules — maybe not quite understanding that the rules were designed to exploit him.

Decades of liberalism versus conservatism didn’t lead America forward — they turned it into a surreal, bizarre dystopia.

Why didn’t liberalism and conservatism lead to progress? Well, because in America, they converged to two flavours of largely the same thing — “neoliberalism” and “neoconservatism.” Neoconservatism was a little more trigger happy, always ready to start a war, and neoliberalism was a little more utopian, but their foundational precepts didn’t end up being very different. Wealth would trickle down. Trade should be free, but movement shouldn’t. A person’s worth was how much money they made. And, most crucially of all, given these first three — society must never, ever invest in itself.

Hence, this fatal convergence of “neos”, of liberalism and conservatism to the same lowest-common-denominator, produced modern American dystopia: a rich society of impoverished people, a powerful one of powerless people, a generally decent one somehow ruled by bigots, fools, and ignoramuses. It’s a place in which people are quite literally left to fend for themselves, as best they can, with zero support, investment, care, or consideration.

American pundits and intellectuals act like it’s still 1962, and act as if social democracy never happened, still pitting “socialism” against “capitalism” in a Cold War that no one really won — unless the wrecked state of America today means “winning” to you.

Why America is the World’s First Poor Rich Country
Or, How American Collapse is Made of a New Kind of Poverty
https://eand.co/why-america-is-the-worlds-first-poor-rich-country-17f5a80e444a


Why the American Dream Collapsed
We’re Forgetting America’s Greatest Idea. It’s Time to Start Remembering It.

https://eand.co/how-the-american-dream-broke-78fb19c56733

The Age of Primal Rage
How Implosive Capitalism and Technology are Causing a Spreading Global Epidemic of Violence, Hate, and Fear

https://eand.co/the-age-of-primal-rage-12e4c4df4d42

Several great articles on “Anglo” civilization!, see:
https://erictb.wordpress.com/2017/05/07/review-bradley-the-iceman-inheritance/#comment-7466

Great article on Fascism, see:
https://erictb.wordpress.com/2016/01/17/political-matrix-is-actually-3d/#comment-6695


(Why) Americans Don’t Understand What Capitalism Really Is
Or, How The Opposite of Capitalism Isn’t Socialism — It’s My Local Record Store

https://eand.co/why-americans-dont-understand-what-capitalism-really-is-155ab92203d8

Americans have the same relationship to capitalism as the Soviets did to socialism — since it’s the only idea allowed in society, nobody really understands or thinks about it well at all. One consequence of growing up in a Soviet society — in this case capitalism, not communism — is that people grow miseducated about that very system. It becomes all things, everything, and in the end, nothing.

Hence, today Americans conflate capitalism with all the following — all business, enterprise, entrepreneurship, endeavour, industry, trade. But capitalism isn’t all those things — and by failing to understand that, Americans remain stuck because they can’t unpick the basic nuances and distinctions of how to build a better society and political economy.

Capitalism is a very specific thing. It has a few critical elements. Maximizing profits — a legal obligation to. Returning those profits to shareholders, people who “own” a legally contracted “share” of them — which they can “trade.” Those “shareholders” are the ones who decide how to govern the organization, and sit on its board. Those are the basic ingredients of capitalism.

Business, trade, commerce, industry — these things long, long, predate capitalism. And yet we, especially Americans, imagine that “capitalism” means anyone who was ever in business, or ever traded anything, from the beginning of time — yet when you think about it for even a moment, nothing could be further from the truth.)

What does that tell us? It tells us that capitalism is a kind of tiny subset of business, entrepreneurship, trade, commerce. It is just one way to organize these things — far from the only one. It is the one we use now — and we can and should question whether it’s doing us any good anymore.

Just as the Soviets thought “socialism” meant you could never open up a dry-cleaning shop, today Americans think questioning “capitalism” must mean you want to shut down all the dry-cleaning shops. But it doesn’t. Questioning capitalism just means the following things (as a brief, incomplete summary) — which are common sense.

That we disagree with the idea that there should be a legal obligation to maximize profits, above all else. That we don’t believe that an organization should be “owned” by “shareholders”, versus say employees, cities, towns, managers, or anyone else, partially or wholly. That we disagree with the idea that “shareholders” should be the only ones to manage an organization.

I’ve put that all very technically, so let me make it a little clearer. That every business, enterprise, project, endeavour, should be legally obligated to be as greedy and selfish and predatory as possible, because the only goal we should ever want is to “grow” into a giant, soul-crushing monopoly of profit — which also means they have to narrow-minded, short-sighted, and end up abusive and harmful to everything from the planet to democracy. That being exploitative and predatory is OK, desirable, good — not corrosive to democracy and survival and prosperity. We’re saying there should be more business, enterprises, endeavors that don’t have to or want to or need to become Goldman Sachs or Big Pharma or Facebook or the lobbying industry.

The Heroes and Villains of American Collapse
Have We Become Readers of the Comic Book of Our Own Decline?

https://eand.co/the-heroes-and-villains-of-american-collapse-d664b69f0f4c

In a Capitalist Society, Everything’s For Sale
How Capitalism Brainwashed Americans Into Being Perpetually Surprised by its Ugly Truths

https://eand.co/in-a-capitalist-society-everythings-for-sale-23b9fb3e1193

Why are Americans so powerless? Because they have to do what capitalists say. It’s true that they have “choices” — but those choices are between kind of option: doing what this megacapitalist wants, or that one. If you want to do something a megacapitalist doesn’t want in the first place…well, my friend, good luck. A life of poverty, hardship, and invisibility await (though if you do toe the line, all you get is precarity and hardship, too.) Americans are powerless because they literally have to obey the whims of capitalists, in every arena of life. And yet there they are, surprised that in their society, everything is for sale.

(Canada and Europe…have many forces softening capitalism, fencing it in, whether families or social bonds or communities or socialism or all of those. That is why they are kinder, gentler places, too.)


If the Economy’s “Strong” — Why Are 40% of Americans Struggling to Afford Food?
Why Economic Indicators Don’t Tell the Sad and Shocking Story of America’s Descent into Mass Poverty, Hunger, Misery, and Despair

https://eand.co/if-the-economys-strong-why-are-40-of-americans-struggling-to-afford-food-934b13e6b81e

Have you ever wondered? Why public discourse doesn’t reflect your reality?

I often say that Americans are the weird, terrible paradox of being the world’s first poor rich people.

So why this constant myth that the economy is “strong”? Well, the first thing to understand is that it is a myth.

When suicide is skyrocketing, when people can’t afford to feed their families, when half a society says they can’t find a decent job…the economy isn’t doing well. But as long as you believe it is…then it’s your fault if you’re struggling. It’s not your fault. It can’t be your fault if you’re struggling when close to half a society is having trouble eating. That’s a social problem. It points to a terrible, epic, systemic failure, in the absence of a giant famine.

Let me make that even clearer. Hunger, poverty, misery, and inopportunity are not a strong economy. They are a weak one. In fact, they represent a collapsing one, if they are new things, like they are in America. If hunger, poverty, misery and inopportunity are a “strong economy”…what on earth could be a weak one? Aliens enslaving everyone?

So where does this bizarre, astonishing, spectacular fantasy come from? What does it tell us?

It comes from the fact that Americans economic statistics don’t represent the economy anymore. By “the economy” we should mean “people’s welfare”, how well their lives are actually faring. But since American economists and thinkers are ideologically blind, because they only study one system, and they assume from the get-go that that system is the answer to every one of society’s problems, quite naturally, they developed a set of indicators that look at the health of…that system. Not people’s lives. But those are two different things. A system is never anybody’s life.

That system, of course, is capitalism. Now, I use “capitalism” in the European sense. That’s Wall St, Bezos, the Waltons, Silicon Valley, etc. In the American sense, you might call it “corporatism”, if you like.

America’s thinking classes don’t know how to think about the economy anymore — economists, journalists, pundits, and so forth — because they imagine that as long as the indicators that exist are ticking up, then everything must be fine. In other words, they imagine that all the real problems have been solved — and all there is to do is apply the solution, which is always more capitalism, as in markets for healthcare, less public schools, smaller government, and so forth.

The indicators that American thinking relies on — the stock market, GDP, the unemployment rate — only really tell us about the health of capitalism. (or corporatism, if you like.) They don’t tell us anything whatsoever about how well people are doing. It’s perfectly feasible for GDP, which is the sum of profits — and the stock market, which is just tomorrow’s profits, counted today — to grow by…stealing your life savings. That’s exactly what is happening.

As a result, you get this incredibly bizarre, weird, and grotesque picture. The stock market’s booming! GDP’s growing! But 40% of Americans can’t afford to…eat. What the? Do you see shades of Versailles in that? Shades of Soviet collapse? You should. It’s predatory growth — American are growing hungry, poor, and ill precisely because their ultra rich are preying on them, or maybe deluding them into preying on each other, dangling little rewards before them, just like so many time before in history.

The Soviets, too, had a set of indicators that their elites and leaders used to assess the health of the economy. And as long as those were OK — everything was fine. Did we make enough tractors? Did we employ enough people at that factory in Gdansk? Everything’s fine! But everything wasn’t fine. People were growing hungry. Afraid. Angry. Bang! Collapse. When a society can’t feed its people…it’s on the way to collapsing, my friends. There is no surer sign.

But America…just like the Soviet Union, it’s thinkers and leaders can’t see even that. They can’t see that hunger, poverty, powerlessness, misery, and illness are now endemic, chronic, systemic — things that exist at a mass level, on a social scale. That’s because they’re trapped in the fairy tales of ideology, which in this case is capitalism’s final triumph over the world. They can’t see how badly reality has diverged from the fantasy, the fairy tale.

The Soviets believed that communism was the answer to everything, that if there was a problem with it, it wasn’t “true communism” yet, that every issue in society was to be solved with more communism, life was always better than everywhere else, and no questioning or dissent of any of the above was to be allowed in the public sphere. Hence, you couldn’t open up a little dry cleaning shop until 1989.

But that’s America in 2019, too. Capitalism is the answer to everything. If there’s a problem, it’s because it’s not “true capitalism” — since every issue in society is be solved by capitalism to begin with. Life is always better than everywhere else. And no questioning or dissent from this ideology is to be allowed.

Can you think of any other rich country in the world where nearly half of the people in it struggle to feed their kids? I can’t. Do you know how many people eat one meal a day in Venezuela? 30%. That’s not a direct comparison — it’s just to give you a sense of how dire American collapse really is.

America’s leaders and elites are so badly blinded by an absolutist ideology that they can’t even see it when their society has ended up starving, broke, poor, miserable, sick, and hopeless — en masse. Instead, looking at a set of indicators that have absolutely no connection to reality anymore, they simply keep on declaring that things are “great” or “strong.” They’ve never been better! The main job now, it seems, of America’s elites, is to defend, and reproduce, that ideology — to keep it powerful, ascendant, for it to monopolize discourse and truth. The only real difference is that in this case the ideology in question is totalist capitalism — capitalism as the answer to everything, the only set of indicators that matters — instead of totalist communism.


NEW:

The Majority of Americans Die in Debt. What The?
How America Became the World’s First Poor Rich Country
https://eand.co/the-majority-of-americans-die-in-debt-what-the-2e20b5a08030

A coffin made of unpayable debt, that the average American’s now laid to rest in. In plain English: they never make enough to break even their whole lives long. He or she finishes up a pauper. Not just worth zero — but with a negative net worth. That means that over a lifetime, the average American will effectively save nothing, own nothing, and earn nothing. Stop and reread that. America’s supposed to be the richest country in the world. Again: what the?

Let’s think about what that really means. It’s not as if the average American ends up impoverished because he or she doesn’t work. Americans work harder than anyone else in the rich world, in fact. They work so hard that multiple jobs are an everyday reality. They don’t take vacations, they don’t get leisure time — whereas Europeans and Canadians, by American standards, live lives of idle pleasure.

So the reason that Americans are dying paupers — not just broke, but less than broke — isn’t that they’re lazy. It’s not about them at all, in fact. It can’t be. If an entire nation is dying in poverty — it can hardly be the people’s fault. It must be the system’s. Despite lifetimes of grueling work — Americans are left with less than nothing. What kind of a life is that?

This…tells us in stark, explosive terms that if you play by the rules, if you do your job, if you’re a good and decent person — what’s your reward? It’s less than nothing. (Sure, you might “buy” a home and fill it with possessions — but if you’re dying in tens of thousands of dollars in debt, you didn’t own any of it, you just rented it.)
The American Dream? The dream is a distant, painful memory of better times.

It’s not just that Americans are indebted. There’s a subtler point here. It’s that Americans now have unpayable debts — debts which simply can’t be repaid, even with a lifetime of hard work. That is what the average person dying in debt means — American debt is literally now unpayable. So go ahead and breathe easy, it’s not just you, it’s everyone. That’s how the system’s designed, in fact. How so?

(If the average person’s dying in debt to the tune of more than the average income — then short of winning the lottery, the “debt” you incur simply for existing and living is unpayable. What do we call people with unpayable debts? Bankrupt.)

Well, whom are Americans indebted with unpayable debts to? To their super rich and ultra rich. Americans effectively owe unpayable debts to a class of oligarchs and tycoons — a tiny number of people, hedge fund managers and CEOs and so forth, most of whom have gotten filthy rich for doing, quite frankly, nothing much of any real worth or value. Yet these debts are now so large, so massive, that the average American now simply dies without ever being able to pay them.

Can we call people who live and die in debt that they will never repay — which they can’t repay — genuinely free? Or are they the modern equivalent of peasants and serfs and untouchables? If you have a debt you can never repay, you’ll have to spend your life toiling away at whatever work you can find — no matter how grim or dismal or pointless. Hence, something very much like a caste society is emerging in America: those crushed by debts they’ll never be able to repay, versus ultra rich. Those in the lower castes are born in debt, and will die in debt, no matter how hard they work, or what they do — they owe a portion of the harvest, just like a medieval peasant. But why? For what?

The next thing this statistic tells us is that America has pioneered something new and bizarre: more and more toxic kinds of debt. The 80s saw the rise of credit card debt. The 90s, student debt. The 00s, medical debt. And now? Lunch debt. Debt has proliferated not just in quantity — but in kind. Americans are so poor that they’ve had to mortgage everything — right down to school lunches. But what kind of a society won’t feed its schoolchildren?

Who pioneered this bizarre reality — a nation of people who trapped all their lives long by unpayable debt they struggle, in vain, to pay off? The combination of Wall St and Washington, DC did. DC’s neoliberals put forth the crackpot economic theory that society should never invest in people — that mega corporations maximizing profit were the answer to everything, from healthcare to retirement. Wall St loved this idea, needless to say, and showered money on said mega corporations. As Americans grew poorer, because the only idea at work here was that markets solve everything, the only answer was to sell them loans, on markets, in the form of all the kinds of debt above. Bang! A kind of debt explosion unseen since the second world war.

The only difference [between Germany 1929 and America 2019], really, is that Germans owed unpayable debts to France and Britain, but Americans owe unpayable debts to their own class of ultra rich.


Umair now goes Jungian on us and tackles the issue of the “shadow” in politics:

(How to Do) the Hard Work of Growing as People and Societies
Why the Work We’re Doing Today is Shadow Work

https://eand.co/how-to-do-the-hard-work-of-growing-as-people-and-societies-f899648369df


Umair addresses the point of “scarcity” amidst “abundance”:

Why the Paradox of Scarcity Amidst Abundance is Driving the World Insane

https://eand.co/why-the-paradox-of-scarcity-amidst-abundance-is-driving-the-world-insane-7e575a5f3b8d

From → Politics

7 Comments
  1. I’ve come across the writings of Umair Haque. It’s good stuff. And so it should be promoted. I suspect he isn’t as well known or as widely read as he should be.

  2. Critics Of Capitalism Actually Love Capitalism, And You Should Too
    https://blog.usejournal.com/critics-of-capitalism-actually-love-capitalism-and-you-should-too-76427db52083

    This article aims to debunk Haque, on the idea he builds up to, the “no zero sum” argument (which he then abruptly ends on).

    The entire argument is just the amount of inventions created that have made life better (because “most inventions and discoveries have come from America, UK, and other capitalist countries, and not from the Soviet Union, East Germany, or Yugoslavia.”) So he concludes on whether we “would prefer life now as an average American, or as the richest man in 1916? ”

    What this still doesn’t address at all, is the current “ice age” mentality of “scarcity”, where everything is being tightened, prices are rising (in contrast to when the Ford Model T was invented), quality is dropping (in contrast to the quality of inventions originally), and people have much less money, and are just falling increasingly into debt (which is what Haque and others such as Reich and Wise have been greatly emphasizing). Why aren’t today’s “capitalists” trying that hard to “create a better life for people”, but instead are acting more like “every man for himself” as they take off with the lifeboats on a sinking ship? (Doesn’t this sound just like what Haque is reporting?)

    While not gone into in this article, the Right’s consistent answer has always been “liberal” policies, which have supposedly “wasted” money on “programs”, at the expense of taxing everyone, including those rich “creators”.
    But wait; doesn’t this assume a zero sum game after all? All the money has been taken (gone to the lazy undeserving non-workers, they usually claim), so now, there is none left. Some will acknowledge the rich are sitting on the money and jobs or taking it elsewhere, but this, is because of these “oppressive” taxes and regulations in the US. (What it can’t EVER be is GREED; unless it’s the greed of the poor and the liberals. But the worthy rich are above that).

    In reality, Reich has pointed out that what he and the others advocate is what’s “not a zero sum game“, for if the general body of consumers have more money, and not priced out, or indebted, then they will spend more, helping the economy. Even if it were true that too much money was being given away on public assistance (and the recipients are spending it frivolously, as “angry conservatives” will often accuse), then that money too is going back into the economy.

    So taxes and regulations are no excuse for taking the money and jobs out of the economy, which DOES create a “zero sum game”, evidenced by their claims of “scarcity”.
    (Do I detect a sense of Anglo superiority, and since “we were the creators of so much inventions and wealth, then we have the right to take it all away from everyone else whenever we feel like it?)

    Here’s an outline of what’s going on in the economic debate.

    °Through the Reagan, Bush and not Trump eras, the rich were favored
    °Yet conservative pundits increasingly claimed programs for the lazy poor were draining the economy, and causing the rich to “take their money and jobs elsewhere”. The more the rich received, the more conservatives claimed the poor were draining the economy!

    The superrich tell their followers that their problems are the poor and minorities’ fault.
    They scold the poor and minorities (or those standing up for them) as being “covetous”, on top of lazy and freeloading. “Wealth is only a few mouse clicks away”, they claim.

    So they portray themselves as innocent, and the poor and minorities as already getting everything that belongs to everyone else, and yet still wanting all that the rich have.

    When they are actually giving more to the “deserving” rich, and it still doesn’t “trickle down”, then they deny that the rich are being given anything, and continue saying the poor are getting everything. (“Grasshopper” analogy; rich=”hard working ants”, and are left in squalor along with EVERYONE else. You don’t see anyone in that story riding off with all the wealth; the grasshoppers simply fizzle it away into nothing, and there’s nothing left for anyone. This is supposed to be what happened in the Soviet Union and other leftist dictatorships; but that’s not true; there WERE people who prospered in those systems! It was the leaders who gained everything. (As “populist” rhetoric among conservatives will point out). This system only differs from that one in the leaders being “private” business, rather than the state.

    In real life if that were true, and the welfare recipients spent up all the money frivolously, that money would be going back into the economy. The conservatives are the ones to say “it’s not a pie; one having doesn’t mean there’s not enough for others” (i.e. the “zero sum” argument), but it clearly isn’t working that way).

    OR, the rich can’t help but hoard the wealth, because they are being “punished” to give to the undeserving poor.
    Or, again, it’s not a matter of hoarding; the poor are just too lazy to take all the opportunities available.

    Of course, this doesn’t address the struggling conservatives, who make up the base of those passing along this rhetoric. Some will actually be consistent, and at least subconsciously swallow the idea that they simply didn’t do enough to better themselves. Still, they will look with contempt at those beside them they see as getting something for nothing or not at least taking “responsibility” for themselves like they are. But it seems for most, their difficulties are the exception to the “personal responsibility” rule, and their plight is strictly the fault of the lazy poor.

  3. America’s Had 255 Mass Shootings in 215 Days. What The?
    Why Young American Men Are Turning Into the Jihadists of White Nationalism

    https://eand.co/americas-had-255-mass-shootings-in-215-days-what-the-8d2a36d7ef1

    The first thing we might note is that mass shooters are, to a person, men. There are no women shooting up schools, festivals, and workplaces. There are men. Mostly young men. Mostly young white men. And that is hardly a coincidence. Young white men in America are living through an especially strange and challenging dislocation.

    On the one hand, they’ve been told that they deserve power and dominion over everything for generations — that everyone else is quite literally less than them, as a person, as a being, in terms of intrinsic worth. Everything in society. Bodies. Money. Time. Attention. All these things, young white men are told over and over again, rightfully belong to them — they should own them, or at least control them. Whether it’s in frat-culture’s entitlement to sex, which crests in sexual violence, or whether it’s in American media, which is still dominated by the Aryan ideal of the blue-eye blonde-haired golden boy (and girl) — young white American men are still steeped in a culture which tells them that they are entitled to power and dominion everything, as a natural birthright.

    America was literally founded on a racist patriarchal hierarchy of personhood. “Democracy”, apparently, was a system for and of white land-owning men. Then, after a time, and a long struggle, men in general. Then women. And finally — within living memory — blacks.

    It’s uniquely American: the idea that the natural inheritors and owners of a New World that was a Promised Land were a certain kind of white man. That idea didn’t exist in nearly as violent or destructive a form in Europe — and couldn’t have in Asia or Africa. It is a uniquely American culture that young white men are brought up in — one that has for centuries and generations promised them ultimate power, absolute dominion, over all that a society has: womens’ bodies, slaves, money, resources, time. Freedom and equality and justice, in the American context, are still things that belong mostly to whites.

    So what happens when a young white American men whose been steeped in a culture where he should have power and dominion over everything from bodies to money…meets the reality of life in a stagnant, declining society? What happens when he can’t get a job, raise a family, when no one wants to date him, when he’s socially isolated and culturally marginalized? When he feels attacked, because precisely the history above is pointed out?

    Well, how would you feel? I’d probably feel guilty. Ashamed. And afraid to admit it. Because, remember, I live in a macho, patriarchal culture. My guilt and shame would be bottled up inside me — which is to say, repressed. And repressed guilt and shame only have one place to go: outwards. They are projected at those even more vulnerable. “I am not guilty! I am not ashamed! You are the guilty ones! You are the shameful ones! You are the dirty, filthy subhumans!” The guilt and shame of having great expectations — but living a humble, meagre reality — become the rage and anger of the dispossessed.

    What has the young white American man been dispossessed of? Things that never really should have belonged to anyone in the first place. Bodies, time, power. The ability to exclude. The power the hurt and harm others, with impunity. The capacity to decide who is and is not a “real” person. The choice to define others’ personhood for them.

    The young white American man has been dispossessed, in other words, of a kind of existential sociopolitical power — the power to define society as he sees fit. His grandfather had that power. Probably his father had that power. Why doesn’t he? Wouldn’t life be easier that way? Wouldn’t he have that fine car and that good job and that pretty girl on his arm — if only he could define himself as the supreme one, as his father and grandfather did?

    In other words, a kind of neofascism has taken hold of him. It is rooted in age-old American traditions of “white nationalism” and racial supremacy. But it is different. It is a classic response to social decline. His fortunes are declining — but he has been told that he should have been more powerful and richer than his father, who was more so than his grandfather.

    Another good article by someone else:

    My Fellow White People: This Is What’s Meant By ‘White Privilege’
    Why we’re so resistant to it, and why we should definitely “check it”

    View at Medium.com

    many people are happy and proud to stand for the national anthem; it’s a symbolic, patriotic gesture of American respect. Morevoer, standing for the national anthem is about honoring those who paid the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom.

    However, in the comfort of their own homes, these same, good-hearted, patriotic folks watching Sunday night football may not bother to rise up out of their recliners when it’s time to salute the flag on TV. They may even go grab a beer or take a pee break while Gladys Knight belts out the beloved American anthem. In their minds, that’s okay, but they’re sure pissed if they happen to see the audacity of “unappreciative” black players who elect to take a knee for their fallen black brothers instead of standing.

    Many of these good white folks may not stand or salute in the privacy of their own homes, they may even lambaste whoever is singing the anthem for being “too stylized,” and “why can’t somebody just sing it straight, without all the runs?” rather than showing quiet respect for the symbolism, yet we don’t question their patriotism or respect for the fallen.

    Still, somehow many of them find justification in calling question to the respect and patriotism of black football players, who they often portray as “ungrateful, spoiled, rich, guys” who “sow discord by kneeling,” and who “should just stick to what they do best — playing football.” Which, you know, sort of sounds a lot like a white master ordering his black slave to “do as told, or else,” expecting in return a reverential bow of the head and a hearty “yessuh.”

    But don’t anyone dare to call any of these white folks “racist.”
    It’s enough to make me wonder who the actual special snowflakes are

  4. How Predatory Capitalism Made America the World’s Dumbest Country
    (Why) The Best Way Exploit a Society is to Get it to Exploit Itself

    https://eand.co/how-capitalism-made-america-the-worlds-dumbest-country-ed33f15d1100

    What does capitalism want from society? It wants a pool of pliable, manipulable proles — who can’t figure out what’s good for them, or not. It wants violent idiots, greedy dummies, self-interested fools, pinheaded ignoramuses quicker to draw a gun than read a book. Yes, really. People who are constantly not just at each others’ throats — but at their very own. Why? If you’re holding the knife to your own throat…well, nobody needs to crack the whip, do they? They’re the cheapest, most disposable labour of all. They’re not capable of democracy. You don’t need to work very hard to exploit them — they exploit themselves for you.

    Let’s recite a few of capitalism’s commandments. Greed is good. The only point of human life is to maximize one’s acquisitions. Weakness and vulnerability can’t be tolerated and must be punished. People who show any humanity, like compassion and empathy, are liabilities. A strong person is ruthless and violent and power-hungry. Any price to anything else is OK as long as one’s own profit is maximized. A person who is not totally “self-reliant” is a burden and a parasite. The strong should survive, and the weak should perish. See how close to fascism we’re getting? And isn’t fascism history’s ultimate form of stupidity?

    Americans — enough of them, anyways — really believe these strange myths. They’ve become their own slavemasters, in a very real sense. Having internalized capitalism’s commandments…they constantly vote against their own interests…deny each other healthcare, medicine, education…they put capitalists and capitalism first…and themselves last. Why else does America’s discourse always ask: “how can we save capitalism?!” — not, say, “how can we save our democracy, society, middle class, planet”?

    And the reason Americans internalize capitalism’s lessons is that their society mostly only consists of capitalism — and capitalism has no interest in making an educated, decent human being out of anyone. So there sits the hedge fund trader…earning hundreds of millions…for playing with the shares of a media company like a toy…the media company employs the pundit…who earns millions…to repeat the commandments of capitalism over and over again…the average person is bombarded with all that a thousand times a day…and their only escape is into the arms of more megacapitalist dreck, Facebook, Tinder, and so forth. Meanwhile, the teacher and the professor are barely able to feed their kids. It’s hardly a fair fight.

  5. Why We Should Lock Up Rich Criminals
    View at Medium.com

    Why the World is Being Dehumanized
    https://eand.co/why-the-world-is-being-dehumanized-ae18ca4c5d8c

    We’re About to Become People Fighting Desperately Fighting For Survival on a Dying Planet, and It’s Not Going to Be Pretty
    Or, When Self-Preservation Takes Over, It Usually Takes Civilization, Democracy, Decency, and Sanity With It

    https://eand.co/were-about-to-become-people-fighting-desperately-fighting-for-survival-on-a-dying-planet-and-81685d46ee8e

  6. Ten Techniques Authoritarians Use to Bend and Twist Reality (and How to Fight Them)
    The Authoritarian’s Rhetorical Playbook

    http://eand.co/ten-techniques-authoritarians-use-to-bend-and-twist-reality-and-how-to-fight-them-ef10bd0ba2e8

  7. The Myth That Capitalism Saved the World
    The Hidden Story of Human Progress — and Why it Matters

    https://eand.co/the-myth-that-capitalism-saved-the-world-f655e2b529b1

    No, We’re Not All Capitalists
    View at Medium.com

    The Global 1% Is Destroying Democracy
    Unraveling a web of dark money

    View this collection on Medium.com

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