“When somebody has devoted every day of their life to their craft (e.g. standup comedy) anyone trying to take that away without there being – literally – criminal cause is either a dishonest scumbag or an unthinking moron.”
The artificial schism of capitalism (free market commerce between empowered individual citizens) and socialism (collective support safeguarding health and opportunity for all citizens) is the most divisive misdirection of the modern world. Small wonder it’s been conditioned so deeply into the minds of the population. The ruling class knows reality is a complex tapestry of evolving regulations blending both socioeconomic systems.
Contrary to benevolent or necessary-evil propaganda, government’s true job is to wield a monopoly on law and violence in a way that profits the ruling class while retaining and exercising close neutralizing control on unpredictable manifestations of freedom as and when they bubble up from the general population.
The main role of modern democracy is to balance public and private interests so society remains stable with as little disruption to extant wealth and power distribution as possible. Stability, as a government mandate, is naturally biased towards ring-fencing lineage wealth and the power of elites. This creates a perpetual inertia towards “conservative” exploitation, always pushing against the limits of how far the citizen can be bled. Elections aren’t about sharing power. Elections are simply a litmus for these limits.
The most efficient way to maintain universal suffrage (democracy) in the context of an electorate excluded from power but regularly tested for stress points in the exploited population is polarized duopoly. In reality, this means two parties ostensibly diametrically opposed to each other, supported by a base that’s trained to support their political representatives absolutely, deaf to dialogue from outside the party orthodoxy. Ideally, the base should be as close as possible to 49%-49%. It’s usually at least 45%+ versus 45%+. These unshifting blocs are a shield against intrusion on the duopoly from third party while centralizing power at the top, i.e. with the ruling elites.
Elections are decided by a swing of a few percentage points and that’s ultimately the litmus test – fought with all the appearance of a genuine ideological battlefield – where the temperature of the population is taken without ever risking a challenge that might disrupt the authority of the oligarchy class.
Endemic exploitation, informed, limited and guarded by well-honed political stability mechanisms, is an evolution of old feudal models. But it’s an anachronism; calcified power dynamics not equipped to deal with the scale of 21st-century human society.
The hording of opportunity is retarding society’s progress and short-sighted capital exploitation is slowly impoverishing larger and larger sections of the population. Ultimately, if the current trends simply continue unresolved, power and wealth will become trapped in a moribund cannibalistic future—for elite, middle class and proletariat alike.
SOCIALISM OR CAPITALISM?
If your society has no losers, it can’t have any winners. Socialism may be a recipe for stagnation, even if it’s in an ideal form and achieves the universal standard of living of an average middle-class Western democracy.
Winnow out all the ideological bullshit of capitalism v socialism, liberalism v social democracy. There are certain practical ‘facts of life’ with these systems one can reasonably anticipate. Capitalism is ideally a game of winners winning and losers losing, on merit (skill and effort) with winners benefiting from what losers lose. Socialism tries to level out that brutal game of life.
The blueprint for good social democratic government is pretty much how most Western democracies say they function. But they don’t. Government becomes subordinated to wealth, as part of the pursuit of universal human ambition. Democracy is supposed to keep govt accountable, but it doesn’t. It can’t, if it’s dominated by the very excess they’re supposed to regulate. So big business has free-reign to maximize profit; which means the population suffers more than it should and society shifts from meritocracy to plutocracy. Democracy is no guarantee of freedom.
Profit is a wonderful motivator – an unpredictable but largely continuous motion engine for converting human ambition into energy – but it can’t by itself prioritize foresight. It’s best organic expression of ‘looking to the future’ is corporate monopoly. Sadly, this brings about the worst possible corruption of the free market machinery. Monopoly is a feudalism manifest in modern economic terms, in many ways more durable, more deeply entrenched, and therefore more dangerous than the old sword-and-gold aristocracy. It’s a problem society needs to fix. The government itself becomes subordinated to the interests of the biggest corporations, at first reciprocal, sharing profit, but soon perfunctory, as the means of production (of politicians and lawyers) is privatized too.
HOW CAN THIS DYNAMIC BE CHANGED?
Wealth is transnational. American corporate oligarchy doesn’t need American workers. Consider. American corporate oligarchy has never treated the American people so badly as they are now. Yet their grip on government, their evasion of regulation, their ability to extract wealth from the public, has never been greater. Democracy has become a weapon wielded by a brazen plutocracy, using the people’s worst instincts against their best interests. Until THAT subverted democracy dynamic is broken somehow, arguments about social democracy or whatever are no more than impotent distractions.
“ . . . Global capitalism now seems to be the only thing that is revolutionary. That’s the Marxist way of looking at it.”
Plutocracy is diverse and competent. It’ll find a dirty equilibrium that’ll cover the next four years. Perhaps #Trump2024 rallies will begin soon as Biden takes office, possibly on the day of the inauguration, and continue the entire term. Trump’s rallies will be lapped up by the advertiser-hungry media as guaranteed clickbait, and they’ll serve up four years of hysteria for the GOP/Dems to weaponize into greater polarization. What’s more, both parties will use Trump’s evangelical tour as an epic script to beat their supporters into line against an evil enemy trying to destroy America. To the Dems, Trump is the conservative devil incarnate trying to ban abortion, kill immigrants, selling secrets to Russia, etc. To the GOP Trump is a Messiah, the nation’s only hope against an institutionalized conspiracy of liberals and Jews. It’ll keep the public busy and misdirected and irrelevant while the business of upward wealth transfer continues with nobody holding anyone to account. #bullshitspigot
So long as the duopoly maintains urgency to the public conflict narrative – through managing the day-to-day news cycle and framing the day’s events in ways that best serve party orthodoxy and audience confirmation bias – the plutocrats can continue their profiteering, aided by government and neither will be held accountable by the public.