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This section was my workspace for philosophy essays between July 2006 and April 2008. I call this "Prehistoric Kilroy" because it gave me practice for more disciplined essays in Kilroy Cafe. Also see my philophical blog and Twitter feed.

Issue #35, 11/28/2006

Capitalism Sucks

By Glenn Campbell
Family Court Philosopher

Capitalism is the best economic system in the world. It totally whooped Communism's ass during the Cold War! Capitalism brings us a plethora of consumer goods at reasonable prices, and it draws all of the world together into one big interconnected family. I love Capitalism. Capitalism is our friend.

Capitalism is also a leech sucking the life out of our societies, our neighborhoods and our families. It is wiping out all of our indigenous cultures and replacing them with a shallow worldwide culture of product acquisition. It is a tool of Satan. It is destroying our planet.

What is the great disease that is decimating the inner city, that is abusing and neglecting children, that is robbing the downtrodden of all hope? You may say drugs, but that is more of an opportunistic secondary infection that comes along later, after Capitalism has already broken people and robbed their lives of all meaning.

Capitalism assures that we will never be happy, because it surrounds us with advertizing that constantly reminds us of all we are missing. Advertizing has become our culture now, pushing all others aside. It constantly drills into us the products we must acquire to obtain happiness: a new fragrance, a new sports drink, a new Hummer H2, a hair color that makes us feel "worth it," a breathtaking new technological entertainment, a $100 pair of sneakers.

Once upon a time, we were Native Americans, we were Gaelic Irish, we had folklore, we had heritage, we knew our place in the world. Maybe it wasn't an enlightened culture, but it was something. It gave our lives structure and meaning. Now, we are all generic consumers, worshipping at the alter of Nike and McDonalds. The traditions of our forebears are almost a forgotten memory now. Now, nearly all of the culture that most people experience, from morning until night, is a Capitalist sales message: Buy, Buy, Buy!

And it is not really stuff we need, either. Most of what Capitalism is selling us is crap. Carbonated sugar water in a pretty package.

Have you ever stood in line in the supermarket behind someone who is using government food stamps to pay? Although they are obviously poor, what are they buying? Is it bread, meat, milk, fruit and eggs? No, it's Pop-Tarts, Sugar Smacks, frozen pizzas, soft drinks and candy—all of it brand name, rarely generic. There's nothing there but sugar and fat, wrapped up in a glittery media package. It's the stuff that Capitalism is continuously pushing on us.

And the person doing the buying is usually a tub of lard themselves. Poverty in America doesn't necessarily translate into emaciation, unless you're on drugs. Poverty translates into a broken spirit. You don't have enough resources, but still you are trying desperately to live up to the impossible standards that the Capitalist culture has set for you.

Once upon a time, there was a way to eat. Maybe in your home culture you had grits for breakfast, soup and a sandwich for lunch, and meat, veg and potatoes for dinner. Food was relatively scarce, and nothing was ever supersized. Now, thanks to the free reign of Capitalism, food is plentiful and relatively cheap, available 24/7 and crammed down our throat whether we're hungry or not.

Did you know that there is now a "Fourth Meal"? I learned about it at Taco Bell. It is the meal between dinner and breakfast—the one you don't need—and Taco Bell is now open during those hours to stuff it into you. Thank you, Capitalism, for giving us a meal we never knew we were missing!

Impoverished American neighborhoods, if transported to another country or era, would be prosperous places. They have, in theory, enough resources to support themselves but not to live up to the Capitalist ideals proclaimed in TV ads and on the billboards all around town. Because the people there can't meet the standards of the only culture they know, these are broken, crime-ridden places. Without any other attainable structure, people drift hopelessly. They turn to drugs and profitable drug dealing, because what else is there to do? It's either that or watch TV and think about the things you can't have.

What happens when a poor family gets some money? Do they save it for the future? No, they go out and buy the latest hyper-advertized New Thing: The flat-screen TV, the X-Box 360. Given some resources at last, they're trying to buy some self-esteem in the way that Capitalism has taught them. This often leads to the absurd situation of no diapers for the baby, nothing in the fridge, but the latest home entertainment box in the living room—until, of course, it is hocked to buy drugs.

Capitalism is the great enslaver of both rich and poor. Those who are living in better neighborhoods and who are making enough money to, in theory, be happy, are not happy. They, too, blow their income on the latest New Thing, as their public religion has taught them. They, too, can never live up to the standards that their culture has set for them, but thanks to easy credit they can now totally hock their future while trying.

Why are you driving around in that crappy old car when you could be proudly driving the shiny new Crapola 9000? It only costs one quarter of your salary for the next five years!

Capitalist propaganda assures that none of us, no matter how much money we make, will ever truly be happy. Always there will be another New Thing that promises us satisfaction but that we can't currently afford. Even when we max out the credit cards, we still don't reach Nirvana, so we must dive back into business and sell people more shit they don't need. It's an endless cycle.

Not that I'm bitter, mind you. As I said, I love Capitalism. I like finding the goods I need, when I need them, at a low price. I just bought a nice shirt, a pair of jeans and a pair of shoes at Wal-Mart for only $9.95 each. Is this a wonderful country, or what?

Of course, my purchase is helping to support slavery in Asia. It's not slavery like we used to have in the Old South, where people were owned by others and kept in chains. In some ways, it's worse. Capitalism keeps people running on an endless treadmill, with sharpened spikes on all sides, chasing a carrot they can never reach.

It's a demeaning existance and not at all the shiny, optimistic fantasy world that Capitalist propaganda is trying to sell us.

—G.C.


Also see a 2009 Kilroy Cafe essay based on this one: FIGHT THE EVIL of the Capitalist Commercial Agenda



Reader Comments

“The writer is fucked in his head” — 12/13/06 (rating=0) ... Response from Webmaster: My, what an interesting metaphor! But is this a bad thing?

“Fairly accurate assessment. The reader who said the writer is fucked in his head must be fucked in his eyes.” — 2/20/07 (rating=2)

“sounds pretty accurate. some/most are just too mired in it to be able to view it objectively & for what it is.” —655321 8/25/07 (rating=3)

“I feel like a soulmate to the writer-I too have come to realize just how much corporate america along with their media lapdogs attempts to endlessly convince us how much of a bunch of "losers", a term they have no end of desire to push in our faces, we are if we don't go out and spend our hard earned money to go out and purchase their over-priced junk that quite often doesn't even do the job it's supposed to do.” —majortrotsky@russianairforce.net 2/28/08 (rating=5)

“Pretty good assessment.” — 3/13/08 (rating=4)

“accurate, but nothing I haven't heard many times before.” — 3/30/08 (rating=2)

“If you know capitalism enslaves people in Asia, how could you love it?” —Sca 6/12/08 (rating=3)

“Anyone who thinks socialism was a wasteful system has never really considered the plethora of useless products generated on this side of the Iron Curtain. The ?waste? in Socialist countries consisted of things such as free medical care for workers, which for them was actually needed. Crapitalism (misspelling deliberate) produces useless waste.” —Slayermoon 6/14/08 (rating=5)

“Advertising misuse is only one symptom. The system fails to properly value many things. I think that's because it is used to maximize capital to the exclusion of other considerations. It's too simple.” — 7/7/08 (rating=2)

“While I dislike capitalism as well, any rebellious 14 year old could argue in the exact same manner. There was no coherent orginization, it was merely a rambling of common knowledge.” — 2/22/09 (rating=1)

“GOOD INSIGHT BUT I WANT SOLUTIONS” —KIVA 5/28/09 (rating=3)

“yes. theres no doubt that this is absolutely common knowledge. but its still nice to hear now and then. especially when we're constantly bombarded with pro-capitalist propaganda from every corporate/main stream media source available.” —brokengavel 6/24/09 (rating=3)

“I agree, but if you hate communism, what's your alternative then?” — 9/17/09 (rating=5)

“You missed the fact that capitalism only makes us richer because more resources are consumed in a shorter period of time and the fact that this is NOT sustainable. Capitalists go from country to country taking their resources to sustain massive overconsumption so we can live well, but when it all breaks somebody is going to have to pay.” — 10/19/09 (rating=4)

“Sounds more like consumerism to me.” —Tera253 1/20/10 (rating=1)

“Really great essay. It is too true. Solutions: Getting consciously independent of the system. The younger are at an advantage because the older generations do not know another way, and they are quickly teaching their young the same. But with things like solar power, tinyhouses, ecovillages and intentional communities, you can actually get virtually independent of traditional dependency systems. It will be a struggle for our generation to break free, but it can mean freedom for the next. I know I will not be bringing a child into a world I know will enslave him/her. Only when I can show them how to live independently, or in a conscious community. Thanks for writing. Peace!” —Nico 2/7/10 (rating=4)

“Though it could be a bit more organized, and I would have liked to have seen specific solutions proposed, overall the thesis of this essay was good.” —ConsumerismIsABane 3/2/10 (rating=3)

“Well Put! Let's do something about it!” —http://myopsy.blogspot.com/2010/06/deep-green-democratic-socialism.html 7/8/10 (rating=3)

“Scuze me... When I use food stamps, I only buy whole grain bread and yogurt.” —Dave 7/8/10 (rating=2)

“This article makes me hungry” —Anonymous 10/25/10 (rating=5)

“I agree with what it says but to say you love capitalism and at the same time bash it is funny, people buy into it and that will always be the choice of ones mind, I choose not to as I know what capitaism has done to the world to create true poverty not american poverty americans are not impoverished we just think we are.” —tikisniffer69@yahoo.com 12/12/10 (rating=3)

“Capitalism sucks as bad as Justin Biebrer” —Mickey 3/1/11 (rating=5)

“it is time for a revolution” —a freedom fighter 3/29/11 (rating=3)

“The future of humanity is worker ownership of the means of production and exchange. That gives every worker a real stake in the success of their company. Where I work (and in most jobs I've found it's the same) it doesn't matter if I do an excellent job or a mediocre one, I'm still not getting a raise. If the corporation makes $100 million in profit this quarter will I see any difference in my paycheck? Hell no. And people say socialism gives the worker no incentive??” —a proletarian socialist 5/14/11 (rating=4)

Ratings so far: 0 3 5 2 4 4 3 3 4 5 4 5 2 5 3 5 2 2 4 0 4 4 4 1 3 3 5 0 4 5 4 1 3 4 3 3 2 5 3 5 5 3 4 (Average=3.3)

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