Freedom News

Capitalist ambitions and an arrogance of deceit

Maura Framrose takes a look at the history of capitalist ambition:

From the tar sands of Canada, through the pipelines of BP, on to the US sub-prime mortgage market of America and the border with Mexico. Through the destabilisation of Central and Latin America, the deforestation of the Amazon and Pinochet’s Chile across the Pacific, to the Opium Wars in Hong Kong. From the American War of Aggression in Vietnam to Colonial India and the hundreds of thousands dead, maimed and traumatised in the Middle East, through Africa and the whole tragic history of that land, notwithstanding economic exploitation of domestic populations, capitalist ambitions have destroyed, devalued and dehumanised life.

What enables this cruelty? There’s a certain pathology, an attitude characteristic of capitalist politics with a distinctly British flavour.

When the feudal system was replaced in the 11th century by Norman invasions, ownership was incorporated into the names of Essex of Wessex, and a system of hereditary privilege was established. The Doomsday Book, the first database and inventory of ownership assets, enabled courts to decide tax relief, favouring the ownership class. From then until now, courts have suppressed human rights. Legislation has been shaped to defend the right to exploit for profit and eliminate or silence anyone who objects. 

Hundreds of men were murdered by the state for opposing the injustice of enclosure, which made the difference between having and not having while increasing reliance on those who did.

From 1551 onwards, capital expansion took sail. From Ireland to India, subjugated sub-categories of lesser people who ‘deserved’ to be exploited were trampled on as the English financed the search for new territories and imposed systems to subsidise profit. With a violation of scientific principles convincing them of their biological superiority, colonisers who wanted labour and wealth without giving a fair exchange for it, believing themselves to be more evolved than most other people and women, were able to employ sadistic acts of cruelty without contradicting their claims of virtue. Indigenous people were pushed to the margins for land, and cultures were erased. Resources were sought from Central and South America to Asia and Africa, local populations were put to work, and identities were suppressed. At the same time, ideas of superiority and the value of money were exported to America with violent settler colonialism.

Imperialism was unnecessary and immoral. The desire to extend national markets into foreign lands in search of greater profits was not about free trade; its primary aim was economic exploitation. Capitalists do not practise or believe in “free markets”. They make the money. They make the profit. It’s all theirs and no one else’s.

If you have something they want, they will dehumanise you to morally justify to themselves the cruelty they will employ against you to take what you have in good conscience. They do not believe in peaceful, equitable transactions. Mutual benefit represents some kind of loss for them. They want to pretend they are good, righteous and enlightened while treating others with disregard and contempt.

From the 1890s, in opposition to the dominance and exploitation of monopoly-finance capital, anti-imperialist and Socialist labour movements were on the rise. It seems convenient the ruling class were able to send working men without the vote to kill each other in WWI. 

There’s no arguing with the profits. Everyone can now see, without doubt, whose interests are being served. Capitalism is a pyramid of extortion, with wealth concentrated ‘on the tip of a shining pin on which billionaires pirouette‘. To be rich means you’re of more value; your life is intrinsically more meaningful. Wealth gives you a certain self-assuredness and confidence in your own worth; your existence proves it. You are invulnerable.

Wealth is superiority defended by privilege. Extreme wealth is a symptom of abuse by design. It’s excessive, undemocratic and abnormal. Profits are not a good measurement of success unless you’re trying to prove how exploitative you can be. Who thinks that’s clever? And why? The constant exploitation of economic wealth drives industrial and financial capital for ‘growth’, ultimately resulting in depletion, exhaustion, and fatigue.

As long as life is orientated towards the market and the aspirations of multinational corporations, the ability to support yourself with dignity will always be undermined. Capitalist democracy is a system where everyone votes to be exploited and to exploit everyone else. It’s a system programmed to subordinate life to the imperative of profit; it’s the logic that sold lives into the Atlantic slave trade, of wars for resources; it’s the logic driving us to ecocide and, ultimately, as a degrading arrogance of deceit, it’s a habit of thinking which needs to be broken.

~ Maura Framrose

Image: Medieval illustration of men harvesting wheat with reaping-hooks or sickles, on a calendar page for August. Queen Mary’s Psalter (Ms. Royal 2. B. VII), fol. 78v / Public domain.Image: Medieval illustration of men harvesting wheat with reaping-hooks or sickles, on a calendar page for August. Queen Mary’s Psalter (Ms. Royal 2. B. VII), fol. 78v / Public domain

Discover more from Freedom News

Subscribe now to keep reading and get access to the full archive.

Continue reading