[C.J. Polychroniou, interviewing Noam Chomsky (Truthout, via Alternet 10-7-14.)] C.J.P. asks: “Since the late 1970s, most advanced economies have returned to predatory capitalism. As a result, income and wealth inequality have reached spectacular heights, poverty is becoming entrenched, [world] unemployment is skyrocketing and standards of living are declining. In addition, “really existing capitalism” is causing mass damage [to environment] and destruction which, along with the population explosion, [leads us] to an unmitigated global disaster. Can civilization survive really existing capitalism?”
Chomsky replies: “…The term “capitalism” is vague enough to cover many possibilities. It is commonly used to refer to the US economic system, which receives substantial state intervention, ranging from creative innovation to the “too-big-to-fail” government insurance policy for banks, and which is highly monopolized, further limiting market reliance. [… T]he scale of the departures of “really existing capitalism” from official “free-market capitalism[? …] in the past 20 years, the share of profits of the 200 largest enterprises has risen sharply, carrying forward the oligopolistic character of the US economy. This directly undermines markets, avoiding price wars through efforts at often-meaningless product differentiation through massive advertising, which is itself dedicated to undermining markets in the official sense, [of markets] based on informed consumers making rational choices. Computers and the internet, along with other basic components of the IT revolution, were largely in the state sector (R&D, subsidy, procurement, and other devices) for decades before they were handed over to private enterprise for adaptation to commercial markets and profit. The government insurance policy, which provides big banks with enormous advantages, has been roughly estimated by economists and the business press to be perhaps on the order of as much as $80 billion a year. However, a recent study by the International Monetary Fund indicates – to quote the business press – that perhaps “the largest US banks aren’t really profitable at all,” adding that “the billions of dollars they allegedly earn for their shareholders were almost entirely a gift from US taxpayers.” [Underlining & brackets are mine.]
We can see, then, that predatory capitalism is not free-market capitalism, nor enterprise well- regulated for consumers’ benefit, but it is corruptly government-assisted capitalism, with a patina of face-saving, public regulation widely undercut or when possible ignored, by business.
It must thence be insisted that, whereas ethical capitalism had been the engine of world development, economic growth and life improvement, predatory capitalism has become the ill-controlled engine of destruction. This happened because large numbers of people involved with its operation lost their sense of who they are and how a good society operates, succumbing to alienation from the masses by imagining themselves innately superior in ability, thus more worthy of happiness and survival. This frees them from altruistic care. Little folks, less financially able and prosperous, deserve less, or indeed nothing at all. They are superfluous and should disappear. Yet, the poor disagree. Poverty embarrasses the wealthy. Wealth defends itself by denying it has any responsibility for the poor whom they despise as lazy and incompetent. The poor often see through the pretense of wealth as masking the insecurity of a guilt which these wealthy recognize only subliminally and camouflage with arrogant bluster in such mantras as “47% of U.S. citizens are unproductive handout-takers.” “We wealth-born, hard-working GOP CEO’s are the job-creators and financiers.””All good comes from us, so all good ought to come to us.” After all, “We are the good of the nation in the best interest of the world.”
Have you ever seen heads walking around with no necks, arms and hands, legs and feet or bodies holding everything together? We can suppose the masters think it correct that they should live that way, which may be why they work so hard to keep folks down dimly in dreamland, bemused, confused, ignorant, foiled and fooled.
Chomsky again: “However, a recent study by the International Monetary Fund indicates – to quote the business press – that perhaps “the largest US banks aren’t really profitable at all,” adding that “the billions of dollars they allegedly earn for their shareholders were almost entirely a gift from US taxpayers.” This … support[s] the judgment of Martin Wolf of the London Financial Times, that “an out-of-control financial sector is eating out the modern market economy from inside, just as the larva of the spider wasp eats out the host in which it has been laid.””
Masters and adherents of the owning class, worshipped by ultra-right tea-partiers, see themselves as the only true Americans. Consistent with this, they interpret any speech negative to their idea of capitalism, or any truth told about class, as “showing hatred for America.” This makes a dire situation for free speech by actively honest, open mind.
Asked by C.J.P. if the world’s situation is really hopeless, Chomsky in part replies: “We cannot know for sure. What we do know, however, is that if we succumb to despair we will help ensure that the worst will happen.” Myself, I still look for a sea-change: a renewal and continuation of widespread awakening among our young people and the devaloration, devaluation, defeat and dissolution of the political ultra-right wing.