Oppression and Capitalism
Capitalism is an oppressive economic and social system. Citizens with the little or no financial security, and are in the most unfavorable social positions have very little stake in capitalism, however, defend it and have faith in it’s promises. The question remains ‘why’ would such a system garner so much support from the very individuals it fails.
Arriving at the answer we would be diligent in answering the additional question of “Who or what entities influence the influx of ‘ideas’ and ‘values’ that predominate in our society?” Who or what shapes the thoughts of the citizens in capitalist counties? The capitalist class, the 1% of Americans whose wealth exceeds the wealth of the bottom 90% combined, utilizes calculated specific strategies to perpetuate the promises of capitalism.
Power, wealth, and ownership of the capitalist class, also comes with ready access to the minds of the masses. Ownership and control of media outlets (TV, radio, newspapers etc.) allows the capitalist class to saturate the public with ideas that America is a land with limitless opportunities to attain wealth and hard work is rewarded. The reality of this message, which permeates capitalist societies, is that it only serves to paralyze individuals from seeking real equity and sustainability. The message keeps individuals on a perpetual ‘hamster wheel’ chasing that which is in real terms unattainable.
Capitalist rhetoric serves not only to justify the status quo (present state of things) but to also preserve the economic state and social status of those who reap the benefits of an inherently corrupt system. The media and educational institutions are the major vehicles by which the messages of false hope and false promises are spread. Young people in schools across America are being indoctrinated with the belief that social mobility, financial security, sustainability, and happiness are attainable with hard work, drive and adopting the capitalist spirit. Possessing the ‘capitalist spirit’ does leave room for the most viable alternatives of working together, helping one another, foregoing profit and economic gain for the greater good of all people.
Structurally, the by products of a capitalist system is oppression, repression and inequity. It is not a system whereby these social ills can be prevented, or avoided. The harsh reality are that these are the inevitable results of practicing a system driven by greed, selfishness, and materialism at the expense of the masses of poor people. What’s more, it is a system in which reform and addressing these social and economic problems is extremely challenging. The capitalist class and those with the largest stake in such a system have safeguards in place that will threaten any attack of its order.
Those who live in a capitalist society, with careful observation and through examining personal experience will likely discover it’s many contradictions. In Buffalo, as in any city across the United States of America, inequity across racial, ethnic, and cultural lines persists.
Today it is difficult to understand the major problems that afflict poor people in capitalist countries without questioning capitalism itself. Without a preparedness and boldness to expose and bring to light the exploitation of poor people by the capitalist class injustice and inequity will prevail.
A strategy employed by the capitalist class is indoctrination and replication of class via educational institutions. Schools serve as a pipeline that fuels the corporate economy. One of these ways is to select out ahead of time those who will hold positions of authority in society and those who will do the labor and low wage paying jobs.
Schools facilitate the replication of a social hierarchy. Schools operate on some levels in a deterministic manner, tracking those students who are deemed suited for ‘professional’ careers and those students who will serve as skilled and unskilled laborers. The capitalist system has the potential to thrive when the number of individuals available to occupy specific positions within the system exceeds the positions available. The capitalist class, owners of production, have the luxury of minimizing labor cost and maximizing profit. Once again, this is done at the expense of people.
The number of educated people has grown to such an extent that it has great benefits for the rich capitalist. For example, when less people were educated, the educated was, you can say, precious and rare, so he (the oppressed educated person) could negotiate top dollar and more likely to be released from the shackles of oppression.
But, know, the capitalist have sought to make a pool of educated people to choose from, thereby, driving down wages and the value of the educated. This also increases the competition and the fight for bread and lack of social togetherness.
The labor market for the educated laborer is today as overstocked as the market of manual low wage labor. By this, the capitalist have more to choose from, this in turns, lowers the wages the capitalist has to pay out and increases fierce competition in the educated work force.
This same scenario exist for the overstocked labor and low wage workforce, which keeps wages down and more profits for the rich capitalist. Also the capitalist benefits from the “unemployed class “of people with very little or no money. This class helps keep inflation down, capitalists “need” a class of people who have no work or income.
Capitalists also benefits (they are more likely to fall to a life of crime) from this class by all business directly and indirectly associated with the criminal justice system. The poor workers pay a tax that pays the rich, they make great profits off of prisons, the criminal justice system, and even the prisoners become cheap labor as they work for corporations while they are in prison. Just think of the food suppliers, the clothes makers the heat and energy that goes into the prison populations and the corporations enormous profits gained by supplying these necessities.
So we are told “to get a good job, get a good education” America is the land of opportunity, because everyone has a chance to get a good education and a good paying job, and many people believe this. Poor people believe their children, at least have a chance to make a decent life for themselves, if “your kid studies hard and be on the ball...” This, for the most part is a ‘myth’!
In America today the hidden truth is, that the number of good paying jobs are limited, there are many jobs that pay the poor, starvation wages, yet, they are limited, also, simply it’s not enough of them. There is in fact a permanent “job shortage” which capitalism cannot alleviate (nor does it want to). In other words, in capitalism, there are not enough jobs for every single person to have a job, even if they were able, qualified and wanted to work!
From this permanent lack of jobs, rich capitalists actually benefit, since it is primarily by means of such high unemployment that wages are kept down and inflation controlled and profits for the few rich growing to colossal heights.
Noam Chompsky, a great mind in social and political views, commented on the children of the poor class, his comment was on the view of the corporate and rich elite… “Both prisons and inner city schools target a kind of superfluous population that there’s nothing for them to do. Because we’re a civilized people, we put them in prison, rather than sending death squads out to murder them…”
(The Common Good,p 37)