Capitalists are an exclusive global minority of devious greed-driven power-crazed self-justifying opportunists who strive single-mindedly for unlimited self-gain by gambling the livelihoods of the rest of humanity. [PDF]
Capitalists possess wealth and power. It is therefore assumed by most that this rich elite also are of high intellect. However, their mental abilities, though meticulously honed, are extremely specialised. They invariably appear quite shallow and unperceptive in every subject other than those which pertain to satisfying their own narrow self-interest of unlimited acquisition.
When I was a boy, we stopped for a picnic in the wilds of the Forest of Bowland. I discovered there two thin starving kittens that had been abandoned. Feeling sorry for them, I managed to persuade my parents to adopt them. One was all black. One was black and white. I named them Blacky and Blighty. At meal times, their food was divided into two piles. Blighty was greedy. She always stood over her own pile while gobbling up Blacky's pile faster than Blacky could eat it. Once Blacky's pile had gone, Blighty gulped her own pile while maintaining an impudently defensive posture over it to prevent Blacky from getting any. Shortly after, Blighty would throw up.
To me, the greedy kitten typified the mentality of those who possess and control the economic resources of the Earth, the enterprises which form them into products, and the global 'free' market through which those products are exchanged. Their singular aim in life is to acquire. To acquire beyond their natural needs. To acquire without limit. Each is driven as if by an insatiable inner force to out-acquire all his peers. Their only measure of an individual's stature is his wealth. His rank within their society is determined solely by his propensity for acquisition.
The reason the capitalist is hell-bent on unlimited acquisition is not because he needs all this wealth. After all, he can only eat one meal at a time. He can only wear one suit at a time. He can only drive one car at a time. No. He does it to satisfy his inner-most lust to out-possess his neighbour. To control more of the Earth than his peer. To rule a greater number of his fellow beings than his competitor. To the rich, this game of gain is indeed a game. It is a permanent open challenge which every capitalist issues against all his peers. It has nothing to do with his needs, his survival or his well-being. It certainly has nothing to do with providing people in general with their needs of life.
Driven by greed and lust for power, the capitalist's purpose in life is to win the game of acquisition by gaining as much personal wealth and property as possible, have a comfortable life, then pass on his wealth to his children. He regards any consequential adverse effects which his endeavour may have on others as 'not his problem'.
To achieve this, the capitalist uses as capital the wealth he inherited from his parents. If he inherited no wealth but has the right contacts and is of a sufficiently persuasive nature, he persuades those with inherited wealth to lend it to him on agreed terms. This added tenet of capitalism enables many wealthless-but-persuasive individuals (commonly known as con men) to exploit whatever natural and human resources that borrowed capital is able to command.
The natural resources he uses are located on or beneath land which was gained by its owner not by merit but by conquest, enclosure, inheritance or chance. The human resources he uses are the labouring poor from whom the natural right to use the land to turn their labour into their needs of life was wrested long ago by that bullying elite whose descendants now possess it.
However much a capitalist may gain by employing his capital, he sees himself as under no obligation to share that gain with those whose labour actually generated it. He need only provide, in return for labour, the minimum necessary to secure that labour for as long as it is needed. Most of the time, that minimum is the amount necessary to keep the labourer and his dependants fed, clothed and sheltered to the minimum standard required for him to function acceptably as a part of the society in which he lives.
The capitalist sees it as right and just that the wealth he gains from the Earth through the labour of the poor should be protected by force of law from being 'stolen back' by that labouring poor. In other words, the capitalist sees it as wrong for the labourer to take back (by force or stealth) any or all of that portion of the fruits of his labour which the capitalist has arbitrarily decided to keep for himself.
The capitalist is essentially a warrior. His modus operandi is merely a sanitised form of combat. His language is the language of war. He endlessly assesses the threats and opportunities within his market. He devises strategies and tactics to protect himself and annihilate competition. It is war fought without physical violence. Nevertheless, it still has victors and vanquished. It still has conquerors and casualties. Its conquerors take all and live in splendour. Its casualties may not actually die, but they lose all, and as a result, descend into the living death of poverty and social isolation.
The violence of economic war may not appear physical. But it is. The rules by which the capitalist wages his war are rules which he devises to his advantage. He it is who influences the voter to elect the government which enacts the rules by which he fights his economic war. These rules deliberately favour the rich at the expense of the poor. They are weighted to make it easier for those who have much, to get more; making it harder for those who have less. These same rules make it impossible for those who have nothing to start with ever to gain anything.
To make it even more unfair, the rich think nothing of breaking their own rules to gain an advantage. But they will never tolerate them being broken by the common people they employ. If, to survive, a poor man should contemplate violating these biased rules, he is faced with the real and present threat of physical violence from the law enforcement agency of the capitalist regime in whose jurisdiction he lives.
The economic wars of capitalism are not simple grandiose wars fought along single well defined front lines. The free market battle field comprises many market sectors, each one hosting a separate war. The battles themselves are less like strategically planned campaigns and more like opportunistic raids of pillage.
I saw a wild-life documentary in which a cheetah laboriously stalked a wildebeest. After much time and effort by the cheetah, the hunt ended in a long fast chase which culminated in the wildebeest being caught and killed. The cheetah had, by the natural way of things, earned its kill. It left the cheetah exhausted and unable to do anything for many minutes while it recovered from the chase. Just then, a group of two or three hyenas wandered by and saw the cheetah's kill. They mobbed the cheetah and took over its kill. After all that effort, the cheetah went away with nothing. The hyenas went away with everything.
The rich elite of this world are like the hyenas. They are opportunists. They let others spend their mental and physical efforts inventing, developing, producing, opening up markets. Then, when they spot that some hard-working artisan's efforts have borne fruit, they come in with their devastating capital and take over his hard-won market. The originator is driven away with nothing. The capitalist walks away with everything. The capitalist takes advantage of opportunities for gain, no matter how it may hurt others. He acquires by systematically dispossessing those who are poorer and weaker than he is, then making them his economic slaves.
The vast majority of mankind has no direct means of turning its labour into its needs of life. Consequently, in order to live, each must try to sell his labour to somebody who has such means. He must endeavour to become employed by a member of that exclusive elite minority, who possess the means of turning labour into the needs of life. In the past, he became a slave and received his subsistence in kind. In today's world, he becomes an employee and receives his subsistence as money. In both cases, the principle is the same.
He is thus once a slave.
The labour of the employee creates all the needs of human life. Notwithstanding, all that the employee produces, takes form as the property of his employer. In order to live, therefore, the employee must receive his needs of life from his employer — or, more realistically, many employers. In today's world, that means the employee must buy his needs of life from the free market, through which all employers sell their produce. And the prices set by the market (the employers) are always the maximum the employee is able to stand and still survive. The dispossessed employee has no other means of acquiring his needs of life. So he is also a slave of the market.
He is thus twice a slave.
The rich generally exhibit a tangible air of contempt for the poor. This is undeniably felt in the behaviour of corporates towards the individual consumer, especially in the area of marketing.
For many years, the ordinary consumer suffered much stress and financial loss as a result of corporates refusing to action a consumer's legitimate requests to cancel a subscription to a service. This is particularly the case with telecommunications services. I remember that AOL stone-walled for ages in refusing to cancel my account, even after I had left the country. They continued relentlessly to debit my bank account, always saying something like "The system is down so you'll have to try again in another 5 days". I still have all the relevant documentation and correspondence. Of course, the system was never "down" if you wanted to open a new account! This barrage of corporate obstructiveness continued when I lived in Brazil, again mainly with telecommunications services such as TIM, but also with magazines and cable TV services.
Perhaps the most dastardly example of the contempt these corporates have for the lowly consumer — at least in Brazil — was the practice of placing people on a public bad debtors list in the event of their discontinuing subscription payments charged after a service had been cancelled. Being placed on such a list renders an individual ineligible for any form of credit and labelled as being financially dubious and unreliable. And in this case, falsely so. It amounts to a public tort of defamation, against which the lone individual, with his limited financial resources and no access to credit, has no practical means to defend. The corporate service provider is thus, in effect, using the public bad debtors list as an instrument of extortion against a far weaker party, namely, the consumer.
If and when such a matter is eventually resolved, through a consumer watchdog agency or the courts, the innocent person's name will be removed from the list. Notwithstanding, the fact that an innocent person's name has been on a public bad debtor's list means that people will have seen it and institutions will be aware of it. Damage has been done. And back-up copies of the old list may well still exist.
Another forceful demonstration of the contempt with which corporate power regards the lowly individual is telemarketing. This is the practice of making unsolicited telephone calls to members of the public from lists furnished by market research companies and even utility companies. Even government — especially local (or municipal) government — stoop to the level of selling details of every private individual on an electoral roll. How low can they go! They cannot be unaware of the devastating effect this has on people.
One of the most obnoxious types of perpetrator of this intolerable nuisance are so-called charities. They aggressively pester and pester people for money, day after day, without knowing anything about the financial circumstances of whom they are calling and thereby often fleecing vulnerable people of money that can no way afford. So much for the notion of charity.
There have been periods — extending to as much as two years — in which I have been barraged by between 8 and 12 (or sometimes more) unsolicited commercial nuisance calls per day during working hours. As a writer, trying to concentrate on what I am writing, this is a disruption, which, at times, has brought my production to a complete standstill for considerable periods. Each call completely breaks my concentration and destroys my train of thought. Of course, these selfish corporate good-for-nothings are totally unconcerned about the effect their malicious telephoning has on people. Their only concern is reaching the few mindless individuals who will actually respond positively to their telephonic barrages. The collateral devastation is an externalised cost heaped upon people like me.
I am obviously not alone in this frustration. This is evinced by an on-going evolution in behaviour of telesales callers. Instead of receiving a load of verbal sales hype, as in the past, I now receive silence. When I answer the phone, nobody speaks. The call drops almost immediately. From this I deduce that perhaps the telesales callers have had enough of the anger and verbal abuse received from frustrated recipients. So they just make the connection so that the telesales equipment monitors that they have made a sales call, and hang up. The corporate employer of these telesales callers obviously gains nothing from these silent calls. It merely continues to deliver disruption and frustration to the recipients and pay packets to the callers. The cretinous corporate is obviously too stupid to know what is happening.
The upshot is that many people today are discarding the fixed telephone line. I have been thinking for a long time of getting rid of my telephone line simply so that I can get on with my work in peace. The only reason I still have it is because it is currently my means of accessing the Internet.
Another example of corporate contempt for customers that I have experienced is from a telecom company. I remember that my monthly telephone bill would always arrive on my mat either on, or a couple of days after, the payment deadline, with the result that a small fine + interest was added to my bill the following month, which was again late in arriving. What a highly illustrative example of their underhanded dishonest penny-pinching mentality.
Here is another example of corporate contempt for the public at large. I have lived close to the runways of major airports, including both Gatwick and Stansted airports in the United Kingdom. But all these were as nothing when compared to the sheer hell of the helicopter noise from Carlos Prates airfield at Belo Horizonte-MG in Brazil. Helicopter noise is very different and immeasurably worse than the noise from even the largest jet airliners. Helicopter noise is like a giant lawn mower grinding human bones. It is the sound of pure evil, from which it is impossible to escape. I lived and worked in the district of Padre Eustáquio. These noisome bone-grinders passed over my office every 30 seconds throughout every working day. I was able to do very little work. This impossible nuisance made that part of Belo Horizonte an impossible place to work at anything that required thought and concentration. The helicopters passed directly over the PUC university [every 30 seconds]. I cannot imagine how any student there could hear what his professor was saying. Obviously the proprietors of the helicopter training schools were unconcerned. They had a license to fly, so they flew; and made their money.
On the subject of noise, I am currently having to endure the piercing sound of a circular saw on a nearby construction site. The noise is intolerable even with all the windows closed. The saw is being used to cut wood to make the boxing for concrete pillars. I cannot concentrate and my productivity is going to be drastically reduced until the construction work is finished. All the concrete pillars are of one or two standard formats, for which prefabricated hinged boxing could be used, thus removing the necessity for the disruptive nuisance of the circular saw. But obviously it is marginally advantageous to the construction company to use the saw, so the company does not give a damn about the collateral effects on others. The disruption to my work – and obviously that of others in the vicinity – is, to the construction company, simply an externalised cost.
Then there are the banks. A friend of mine [I shall refer to her as Fernanda, which is not her real name] experienced a devastating example of the sheer irresponsibility of banks towards their victims [customers]. She once had to make a trip to a foreign country about 9,000 km from her home. She needed to be able to buy accommodation, food and travel while away. She opted to use her credit card as the main source of money for these purposes. She saw that a credit card bill would arrive while she was away. So she went to her branch and spoke to the manager to liberate her MasterCard for use in the countries she would visit, to pay off the current credit card bill and pay also well over what would be necessary to meet the bill that would arrive the following month. The manager liberated the card as requested and made payments from her current account to cover the current and the next credit card bills. Unusually, the next day, the manager telephoned to assure her that everything had gone through correctly and that she would have no trouble depending on her credit card for expenditure abroad in the named countries.
Five days into her 15 day trip, while in Berlin, her credit card froze. It would pay nothing. She was in a foreign country where she did not speak the language and was effectively destitute. She could pay for nothing. I could not here begin to explain the gargantuan amount of trouble that caused. So I won't try. She eventually managed to get back home, with rather a lot of help from some kind people. After arriving home, she went to her bank and rather forcefully explained the situation and the devastation it caused her. Another manager looked up her account and said that the credit card had been blocked because she had not made the minimum necessary payment at the end of the month, which occurred while she was away. She explained that the other manager had made the payments and liberated her card through his terminal. That other manager was called over and said that it was impossible to pay off a credit card account at his terminal. It had to be done at an ATM or a window in the banking hall. He denied all responsibility and asserted that the situation was entirely Fernanda's own fault.
What an example of total corporate irresponsibility! The manager had obviously not made the credit card pay-offs correctly, while assuring Fernanda — twice — that he had. Furthermore, the bank and credit card company knew full well by the fact that the card was liberated for — and was being used within — distant countries that Fernanda was not at home to make any payments. Yet it still blocked the card, leaving her destitute and penniless 9,000 km from home. The bank was Brazil's Caixa Economica Federal. Lesson: never trust a bank or a credit card. Take cash.
Shortly after the above incident, the bank perpetrated another cavalier act of total disregard for the customer. For well in excess of 20 years, Fernanda used her credit card to pay for her needs of life. Every month, like clockwork, she paid off the credit card debt in full. Never missed a payment. Gradually, over a few years, the credit card statements started arriving very close to the payment deadline. Eventually, they would frequently arrive one or two days after the payment deadline, which resulted in unavoidable late payment, which, or course precipitated wholly unjust fines and interest charges. I cannot imagine that the postal service had become slower. Other postal item still arrived in due time. My only conclusion is that it was a despicable ruse by the bank for extra greedy gain at the expense of a vastly weaker party who did not have the financial means to take on the bank in Court. To try to overcome this unjustified charging, Fernanda requested that a copy of each credit card statement be sent by email. This was successful. The email statements arrived well in time, although it was a far more complicated procedure for an older retired person and depended on the Internet always working during the crucial time, which of course, it does not always do. It is down for up to a week at times.
Then, suddenly, without warning, the credit card statements stopped arriving. Fernanda informed the bank by telephone. She was told that the bank was having trouble getting them sent out. She managed to get a copy of the first absent statement from her email. But this was the last credit card statement to be sent by email. She informed the bank. The manager at her branch told her that credit card statements were now only available via Internet banking. She would have to install the bank's app on her smartphone and get them that way. Of course, there would be no way of printing a permanent copy. She asked for help from her brother. He installed the bank's app in a Microsoft Windows partition I had preserved on my laptop. Neither she nor I use Microsoft Windows. We use Linux, which flatly refused to allow the bank's app to be installed because it apparently attempted to violate the operating system's own security facilities. We managed to get through to the bank's Internet site once and extract a statement. Ever since, further attempts precipitated messages to the effect that the system was temporarily unavailable. It is an irksome process. It means starting up the laptop in Microsoft Windows — which, incidentally, warns the user that the bank's web site uses "vintage" technology, whatever that may mean — and waiting for ever and a day for the bank's system to deign to make itself "available". Not very practical for an older retired person. Of course, the idea of conducting financial transactions without error on the skittish microscopic keyboard of a smartphone is, for an older person, plainly absurd.
Consequently, no longer receiving credit card statements either by post or email, the only way Fernanda had of becoming informed about what she owed on the credit card was to wait for the inevitable letter from the debt collection agency. Wow! The debt collection agency still sends letters by post! For how long, I wonder. But the threatening letter merely states the bottom line. Fernanda received no details concerning of what this debt may consist, which no doubt included extortionate interest charges and fines for "late" payment. Plus, or course, the tort of defamation which the debt collection agency has committed against Fernanda by placing her name on a publicly viewable bad debtors' list on its website. With this, Fernanda decided that the only available option was to cancel the credit card and revert to buying things with cash — a phenomenon which appears to me to be spreading fast in Germany. However, this also proved fraught with difficulty.
She called her bank. The manage said that she would have to call the number shown on the back of the credit card. So this she did. But, as always, the functionary at the credit card telephone answering service stalwartly refused to accept that Fernanda was whom she said she was. They consequently refused to talk to her or discuss the matter. It reminded her of once when she thought she had lost her card and telephoned them to cancel the card to avoid any possible thief from using it. The functionary refused to cancel the card. She telephoned again and again fearing that somebody could be buying things with her card. They refused every time and ended up being very offensive to her. So much for customer security. She therefore went in person to her branch and told the manager she was unable to cancel the card. The bank manager said it was not really their job to cancel cards but that he would try. He went through some process on his terminal and said the card had been cancelled. Notwithstanding, bearing in mind what had taken place when the other bank manager had supposedly paid off the credit card before her trip abroad, Fernanda was not totally confident that the card had indeed been cancelled. The only option then was to wait until the [hopefully] final demand arrived by physical letter from the debt collection agency as the only means of becoming informed of the amount owed.
As each letter arrived from the debt collection agency, Fernanda had to take the last paper statement she received months before and use the bar code on that to expedite the payment of the "bad" debt through an ATM at the bank. Fortunately, that seemed to work.
Another, more general, demonstration of irresponsibility on the part of banks is their endeavour to force everybody onto direct debit and smartphone banking. Direct debit, or course, has well demonstrated itself to be untrustworthy. Especially with the behaviour of telecom companies, who invariably refuse to terminate a contract, it is impossible to stop them from taking my money ad infinitum. I have learned this lesson the hard way. The majority of older people find it impossible to use a smartphone, certainly for something like banking transactions where a miss-aimed touch can cause serious financial harm. The interfaces are far too small, unnecessarily complicated and appallingly designed. This is because the banks use the interface not only for the legitimate purpose of making it smooth and easy to enter a transaction but also to concurrently push its products in the user's face, thereby distracting him from what he is trying to do.
Clearly, the old — and whoever else may not have the childish dexterity to use a microscopic device — are no longer considered to be a worthwhile element of the bank's preferred market. Notwithstanding, we are still part of society.
Sorry Mrs Thatcher, I know you said that there is no such thing as society. Nonetheless, if we are to be allowed to exist at all, we must necessarily do so within the established economic system that is enforced upon us.
But the doors are relentlessly closing against us. For example, although I now have the money to do so and would like to fly places, I cannot buy an air ticket. I have no workable mechanism for doing so. I have not had a credit card for getting on for 20 years — for essentially the same reasons. If I try to buy an air ticket with my debit card, the transaction is always refused. If I inform the bank at the time, the transaction actually gets as far as verifying that I am the owner of the card. However, this process demands that I enter information that does not exist. The time when I had to take a flight to attend my daughter's wedding, I enlisted all my skills gained by over 50 years of computer programming in order to hack my way through with carefully crafter false information. But I do not think a person should be forced to resort to such methods. I am not prepared to repeat this process. I simply won't fly.
The upshot is that older people have become passively excluded from the financial domain that is ordered and orchestrated by the banks. This should not be allowed to be so because banking is a necessary part of public economic infrastructure and, as such, should not be entrusted to the self-interest of private hands or to belligerent State institutions.
In law, a corporation is the same kind of entity as a person. As such, it can buy and sell property, borrow money, sue and be sued, carry on a business and is a citizen of its country. And, as such, it is bound to obey the law of the land. But what kind of "person" is it? What kind of character does it have? It is a person without the slightest trace of moral conscience. In fact, it is required by law to put the financial interests of its owners [its stockholders] over all competing interests, even the public good. It is necessarily unconcerned for its nation, community, workforce or customers. A corporation cares about nothing but its "bottom line". It has loyalty only to itself. Baron Thurlow (1781–1829), is reputed to have said: "Did you ever expect a corporation to have a conscience, when it has no soul to be damned, and no body to be kicked?"
A conscience is something a corporation certainly doesn't have. It is unconcerned about any consequential physical harm to its workers resulting from dangerous working conditions. It ruthlessly exploits its workers under sweatshops conditions for the minimum pay it can get away with. Its only relationships with human beings are fleeting and entirely monetary: it lays off workers whenever it no longer needs them, without concern for their economic survival or well-being. It engages in the promotion of union-busting to destroy any collective power workers could muster to negotiate from a position of equal strength. It shows its universal unconcern with human health in general by selling dangerous and toxic products and discharging synthetic chemicals and other pollutants into the environment. It robotically experiments with animals and engages in factory farming and habitat destruction. This is the corporate paradigm.
The only way that corporations have been made to moderate their behaviour into a partial conformity with human conscience is by society applying an extreme force of law that catastrophically hurts them financially if they don't restrain their behaviour. And if that the Sword of Damocles is not eternally poised above their heads, they will immediately revert to being their own psychopathic selves. This is well evinced by the way household names that conform to behavioural standards imposed in Europe behave in other parts of the world like Brazil, where any such restraining legislation — if it exists at all — is rarely enforced. Even where it is enforced, whether a corporation obeys it or not is simply a matter of risk assessment. If the probability of getting caught and prosecuted is less than the profit to be gained by breaking the law, then thus be it. Morality doesn't enter the equation.
Thus the character of the corporate "person" may be summarised as follows. It has callous unconcern for the feelings and well-being of others. It is unable to maintain enduring relationships. It has reckless disregard for the safety of others. It is deceitful: repeatedly lying and conning others for profit. It is incapable of experiencing guilt. Uncoerced, it completely fails to conform to social norms with respect to moral behaviour. And this is a summary of the clinical definition of a psychopath.
A corporation has no free will — or any other inherent agent of self-motivation. It is simply an inanimate set of rules and accounts. So who imbued it with its psychopathic nature? It was those whom Baron Thurlow was implicitly rebuking; namely, the parliamentarians who constructed corporate law, and their successors, who, 20 years or so after his death, added the insidious adjunct of limited liability. Corporate law defines the manner — or protocol — according to which a corporation may and must interact with human society. But this is not a law of nature: it is a law of man, enacted by government and honed by judicial decision. It does not define a protocol of the kind that regulates the interactions between the elements of a natural complex dynamical system such as the molecules of the atmosphere within the global weather system, or individuals human beings within an anthropological community the size of a modern nation.
Every physical human being — pessoa física — is a moral sentient being. It has a conscience. It can empathise with the feelings and well-being of others. A corporation — pessoa jurídica — is not a sentient entity. It cannot think or act. An inanimate set of rules and accounts does not contain the inherent faculties necessary to have a sense of moral obligation or social responsibility. Consequently, it must be the physical sentient human beings within the corporation who are doing the thinking and acting. It must be they who are behaving towards — and interacting with — the individuals of society-at-large according to the corporate protocol. It is they — as a collective — who are the psychopath.
Yet these people, who are collectively a corporate psychopath, are often so nice as individuals. They are polite, sometimes even philanthropic. But it is all a theatrical act. If an outsider complains about the inhumanity of what one of them is doing, the response is always: "But I'm only doing my job". That "job" in isolation may not be all that inhumane. But coupled with all the other "jobs", that all the other operatives of the corporation are "just doing", the collective action becomes what only a demoniacal psychopath could perpetrate. Does that excuse the individuals? No. Each knows of what he is a part. And only the individual can make a moral judgement concerning the actions he takes. When he commits an act [or is "just doing a job"] that forms part of a collective mischief against a lone individual [customer or client] with whom the corporation is dealing, then he is morally guilty. He is without excuse.
The individuals, who actually commit the psychopathic acts against outsiders, are guilty. Nonetheless, the vast majority of these are between a rock and a hard place. Each needs a job in order to survive. And in a corporate-dominated neo-liberal 'free' market, their only option for economic survival is, for most, to be corporate employees. And corporate employees are not strictly part of the corporation. They are merely human resources hired from the labour market. So, figuratively speaking, each is "just doing his [nasty] job" with a gun to his head. So who is holding the gun? It is the directors of the corporation and the stock-holders, whom those directors serve. So it is the stock-holders who are the psychopaths, whose selfish ends are served by the directors who expedite the acts of the corporation according to the cold calculating protocol defined by corporate law.
This protocol demands that the corporation functions solely — and by any means — to maximise the short-term gain for its stock-holders. One of these means is called externalisation, which is an attribute built into the very nature of a corporation. It requires the corporation to load onto other people all the consequential problems and costs of its operations. For instance, it leaves other people to pay the bills for its detrimental impact on society and the environment. An good example is car manufacturers who externalise upon the general public — drivers and non-drivers alike — the problem of providing adequate road systems for the cars they produce. Another of these means is the enlistment of State force to achieve their ambitions: like enforcing paperless purchase upon the public, including the old who are not able to use complicated ultra-small devices; the dubious military invasion of Iraq to secure sources of oil from which to profit; the purchase of unlimited mass-media to mould the public mind into seeing them as benevolent philanthropists; the creation and patenting of non-reproducing seed crops so that, eventually, in order to be allowed to eat, one will have to pay royalties to a corporation.
Thus it is the great corporate stock-holders who are the true economic psychopaths. But, they, like the high altitude American carpet bombers in Vietnam, are — as sentient human individuals, with or without conscience — well insulated and isolated from the carnage and trauma they are perpetrating far below.
For the most part, the coterie of the rich dominant elite is an exclusive club. It does not usually admit new members from the outside. Occasionally, an individual suddenly finds himself catapulted into this exclusive fraternity simply by happening to be the right person in the right place at the right time. Such people often bewilderedly find themselves suddenly elevated on a fashion-driven bandwagon into this exclusive club of the super-rich. But once in there, they soon seize their opportunities and invariably soak up and adopt its inhumane mentality of exploitation and oppression. They too will force one dying of thirst in the desert to trade their all for a cup of water. They too will use the power of their law - and even hired violence — to exploit the weak.
These favoured few are often many orders of magnitude richer than society's poorest. Yet they are not a higher form of life than the poor. They share the same bio-mechanical specification. They have no built-in superiority. Hence they cannot have acquired their disproportionate wealth by working that many orders of magnitude harder than the poor. Every rich man acquired his copious wealth from the labour of many poor men. The reason he can accumulate such wealth, and pay himself a 'fat cat' salary, is because he is the one whose particular economic function is to control the flow of money and resources within his enterprise. He 'justifies' his self-awarded gargantuan salary by claiming that it is what the open market would gladly pay for the sheer magnitude and quality of the job he does.
Over the past few years, I have met many people who, like myself, are out of work. They possess a rich diversity of complementary skills and expertise in areas such as organisation & methods, project planning & management, information technology & computer software, engineering, public relations, law, banking, finance, accounting and personnel management. Given our present circumstances, any of us would jump at the chance of a job paying £25,000 a year (circa 1996). A mutually-picked team of 12 of us at £25,000 a year each could easily do that same job as a fat cat for a mere £300,000 a year — over 36% less than the current salary of the particular fat cat of whom I am thinking.
To suggest that the 12 of us as a team could not match the solo capability of this chief executive would just be plain arrogance. In fact, I would relish the challenge of trying to train a neural network to do his essential job alongside him to see if, as I suspect, it could take over from him. I think that a personal computer running a neural network package would be considerably more competitive than employing a fat cat human. Of course, the real reason he is in his overly elevated position is because he happened to be in the right place at the right time and had the right friends.
The obvious, visible and undeniable sociological effect of capitalism is gross disparity in wealth and well-being among the inhabitants of this planet. Capitalism may even be defined as an economic system which concentrates the wealth generated by the many into the hands of a favoured few. That is its shamelessly declared purpose.
Though they be at almost all times immersed in their quests for endless acquisition, capitalists on occasions are troubled by conscience at the sight of the poverty which surrounds their affluence. Most try to keep it out of sight and hence out of mind. They go to live on the other side of town. Nevertheless, when the tenets of religion start to invade their thoughts, their consciences are not so readily appeased. They are then forced to seek a more philosophical or even scientific justification for what they do.
Thomas Malthus (1766-1834) tried to justify poverty in his society by saying that it was caused by the fact that population grew geometrically without limit until the environment could no longer support it, at which point poverty, disease and starvation put the natural brake on further increase. Attributing poverty to a natural cause absolved the propertied elite of his day of responsibility for the sorry state of the dispossessed. It allowed them to carry on with their comfortable lives with clear consciences before God and man.
But Malthus had got his mathematics wrong. It did not account for natural feed-back mechanisms in the human body which reduce fecundity automatically when population gets too high for the environment to support. This has happened. For what is thought to be the first time in history the overall fecundity of the human species has dropped below unity, causing the rate of growth of the world's population to fall.
Population is observed to be governed not by geometric progression as Malthus postulated, but by the Standard Logistic Difference Equation. This contains a second term which counters the run-away effect of pure geometric growth. It represents the behaviour of mechanisms within the human body which automatically impose an upper limit on population. These natural physiological control systems of the human body are not well understood. One is thought to involve a form of signalling between individuals within a population which is facilitated by the emission and detection of odours of which the individuals are not consciously aware.
Poverty in Malthus's day, as today, was not due to over-population but to a social system which unfairly distributed the means by which people could turn their labour into their needs of life. Malthus seemed unable to grasp the difference between the natural laws of cause and effect and the man-made economic policies of his society. He, like his capitalist counterparts today, saw them as inseparable parts of a single indivisible continuum. They place 'laws' enacted by a bunch of guffawing buffoons in a little hot air parlour by the River Thames on an equal standing with the laws that sustain the operation of the universe.
Poverty arises because the physiological control systems of the human body were never programmed to compensate for the irrational effects of human politics. This is why they fail to restrict population increase when poverty stems from a politically imposed disparity in personal wealth rather than from a naturally imposed limit to the productivity of the Earth's ecosystem. The poor man's body detects the presence of fertility and abundance all around him. The fact that he does not have the money to buy any of it makes no sense to his body's aromatic signalling system.
Although many had trouble reconciling the presence, in their society, of a majority labouring poor to their moral consciences and religious beliefs, most seemed to accept it as part of the natural order. Even the members of the egalitarian society proposed by François Quesnay and so warmly embraced by Dr Adam Smith towards the end of his 4th Book on The Wealth of Nations were not ordinary people. They were land owners, gentleman farmers, industrialists and merchants whose economic system relied totally on a vast pool of labouring poor. From the point of view of any member of these capitalised classes, such a society would be egalitarian. However, from the point of view of any of their labouring poor, their society would be distinctly authoritarian.
Most petty capitalists do not, however, think that deeply about the social conditions around them. They dismiss them as not being their concern. They manage to justify their disproportionate share of wealth with much shallower arguments. The young director of an equipment dealership who had the exclusive sales mandate with a large equipment manufacturer within his prescribed local territory put it simply:
"I started my business from scratch and built it up to what it is today. I am therefore perfectly right to pay myself far more than I pay my employees."
He had started a small business out of his third bedroom at home. He then joined up with a partner. They were just about surviving when a foreign manufacturer who was new to the U. K. needed a dealership in their area. The two young men happened to be in the right place at the right time with the right set-up. Their business took off. They moved first to a small unit on an industrial estate. Their business grew rapidly. They soon had to move to a larger unit. Today they run a large established company.
I have spoken since to many in small technical niches who are just like these two were when they started out. Many of them would like to have their own businesses and work directly for people and be recognised and appreciated personally for what they do. But they can't. Not because they are any less capable than the others but because all the manufacturers in their line of business now already have dealers in all areas. The opportunity to set up a dealership no longer exists.
The reason the original two young men were able to become directors of a large dealership, pay themselves great profits and bonuses, drive around in brand new Mercedes-Benz cars and go on expensive foreign holidays was primarily because they happened to be in the right place at the right time. Not because of anything they themselves consciously did out of the ordinary. Those who came along after them simply did not have the opportunity to start and build up a business the way they did.
A couple of their young technicians wishing to start up on their own would simply have no territory for their fledgling dealership if they started one, and no alternative manufacturer for whom to become dealers. The two young technicians are supporting a part of the market held by their employers. But the way the capitalist free market operates causes the very existence of their established employers to prevent them from being able to start up on their own and thereby gain the profit element from the work they now do for their employers' customers.
The profit element of the young technicians' labours goes straight into the pockets of the original two young men for no other reason but that they had been in the right place at the right time. But happening to be in the right place at the right time is not, in my opinion, a morally valid reason for keeping all the profit and paying one's technical equals a subsistence wage just because they did not happen to be in the right place at the right time.
The capitalist mind is a manifestation of naked human greed. It is irrational. Nobody needs such unlimited wealth. World poverty could be eliminated by redistributing the unnecessary excess wealth which the rich undeservedly accumulate. The inexcusable disparity caused by capitalism troubles the capitalist's conscience. He seeks satisfying arguments to appease his conscience, but in the final analysis, none is morally valid. The designed intent of the capitalist system is to siphon off the fruits of the labours of the poor and concentrate them into the hands of a favoured few. It is, by any natural sense of right and wrong, a thoroughly reprehensible system.
But it is not new. Capitalism is simply a new manifestation of an old mentality. It is the mentality of exclusivism: the enforced restriction of the possession and control of resources to a small exclusive group. It is the mindset of ancient kings, barons, dictators, war lords and mafias. The capitalist has merely found a convenient way of externalising — or out-sourcing — the task of enforcing wealth disparity. He does not need an army or a gang of thugs: he has the State with its police to enforce a law which he fashions to his own favourable design through covert influence and manipulation.
A society based on exclusivism is inherently unfair. A fair society has to be inclusive: it must facilitate well-being for all. To do this, it must allow each human being free access to — and unencumbered use of — his fair share of what the planet provides for converting human labour into human needs. A society that embraces capitalism cannot do this.
Since an inclusive society would obviously be the better option for the dispossessed majority, why do they tolerate capitalism? Why don't they, with their vast number, overthrow and destroy it? The answer is: because they are divided and thereby ruled. They are divided and ruled because they are ignorant. And, in my opinion, they are ignorant because they are too lazy and timid to think for themselves. They could do. Each has the same 200 billion neuron brain as any of the elite. But they don't. So, one could say that it is their own stupid fault.
Notwithstanding, some do think for themselves. But they are few. And they do not have sufficient power and resources to overthrow capitalism unilaterally. Humanity must therefore continue to suffer the disparity of capitalism until the desire to pursue systematic self-education seeps through to the common mind.
Natural conscience requires that each individual, within a community, be afforded his free and unencumbered use of his fair and equal share of the natural resources available, with which to turn his labour into his needs of life. Individual possession, control and use of resources is thereby maintained in fair balance by a natural feed-back regulation process. However, offensive combative tendencies, in a small proportion of individuals, motivates them to take to themselves by force the fair and equal shares of the many. This minority thus acquires unfairly large shares by dispossessing others through threat and violence. The preservation of the resulting unnatural disparity was later imposed through the enactment of laws formulated to forcibly suppress any natural socio-economic mechanism that would seek to impose an upper limit on acquisition and thereby maintain a reasonable balance.
Examples of such laws are the Inclosures Acts, which reduced practically all land to private property; the privatisation of water resources [like in Bolivia where all the water in all the rivers and all the rain that falls is deemed to be owned by an American corporation to which the indigenous people must pay tribute in order to drink and wash]; territorial waters for exclusive fishing rights and the privatisation of highways and air corridors.
But it is going to get worse. Soon there will be exclusive privatised food production. Genetic engineering is being used to create crops with non-reproducing seeds so that specific private corporations will become the exclusive sources from which everybody will be forced to buy food or starve. Individuals such as small farmers and market gardeners will no longer be able to plant and grow their own food. Reproducing seed will become impossible to obtain. In any case, to plant it would infringe of a corporate patent. The same will eventually be done with animals. It will effectively be the death of birth outside the jurisdictions of private corporations.
The move is relentlessly towards the exclusive source of every human need of life being owned and controlled by a handful of unaccountable private corporations. Who cannot pay must starve, freeze and die. But the laws by which the capitalist system is governed are nowhere apparent in nature. Furthermore, they are inherently unstable. The system is inevitably destined to self-destruct. Nature will prevail.