The development of a social system is shaped primarily by the power structures that arise in the process of producing the goods that sustain the members of that society. That might sound complicated, but Marxists will immediately recognize the truth in that statement. All intellectual and philosophical talk aside, we are material beings who need the materials provided by the planet to produce from those materials the goods we need to survive and/or thrive.
Image by Matryx - source: Pixabay
This production process hinges on human labor. Even in an era of robots and AI, those robots and programs are produced with human labor. The factories where the robots and AI produce the stuff we all need are also built with human labor. Our social system, the structures we've built to produce everything we need and want, all function according to the rules of the ideology that has won the battle of ideologies; capitalism. And we're nearing the inevitable implosion of this system, there's just no way around it. The reason why it must implode, is that the ideology is based on an unsustainable premise, which is that there's no limit to its expansion. And when it inevitably meets the limits of a finite planet, it starts to eat at the structures that made possible its expansion in the first place.
All empires throughout history have imploded, and their downfall has always started at the core, because of this principle. America and Europe have known several decades of outward expansion, during which they built a strong middle class. It was a time when the proverbial "American Dream" was a reality. But that dream was paid by capitalism's expansion into and subjugation of countries in Africa, Middle and South America, the Middle and Far East. It was a time when we could look our children in the eye and promise them that they would have it better than us; I believe my father's father was the last generation who could make and hold that promise. Those days are gone now. The capitalist world empire is now eating its own structures to keep growth and expansion alive.
Never before in human history has our relationship with our materialist reality been more pronounced. We live in a time of hyper-materialism, if you will. Our forefathers had a strong spiritual aspect in their lifes in the form of religion. But that also was used by their rulers to keep them in their place. They were promised riches in the afterlife, if only they be content with some meager possessions and hard work in this life, and live by the rules set by the God and His divine representatives on Earth. Now capitalism is the overarching religion and it makes basically the same promise: work hard, play by the rules, and maybe, just maybe you'll make it to the top of the social hierarchy. The only difference is that there's no afterlife in capitalism.
Capitalism isn't just an economic system, but rather THE primary condition of human existence. So, it's not just an economic system but a political and cultural one as well, an entire social order. When we observe any part of that order, be it the news or entertainment media, criminal justice, intelligence agencies, campaign finance, science and technology, education, medical care, taxation, transportation, housing, or whatever, we will see how the particular part reflects the nature of the whole. What values are celebrated in films? What is presented and what's not presented in the "news"? Take the ever more popular "reality-TV" shows, and observe how secrecy, scheming, valuing the ego as opposed to consideration for community, are celebrated. And the best schemers are awarded a nice sum of money at the end. These are capitalism's small reflections, its nature disseminated to all aspects of our culture. Its decadent ruthless nature made the norm.
Okay, that's enough for today. Capitalism is coming to an end, probably a violent one, unless we stand up to the centers of power the capitalists have built to protect their lofty seats at the very top of the social hierarchy. This is the subject of the below linked speech by Chris Hedges, titled "Wages of Rebellion," and I can highly recommend it. He's one of those rare human beings who not only recognizes the trouble we're in, but also sees a way forward that's not predicated on finding the right rulers, but rather finding ways to keep rulers, whoever they are, afraid of the power of we, the people...
Chris Hedges "Wages of Rebellion"
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