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Sat May 15, 2021, 07:46 PM

Why Capitalism Didn't Free Americans -- It Exploited Them

https://medium.com/@umairh/why-capitalism-didnt-free-americans-it-exploited-them/

...snip...

It seems to me that Americans are becoming some of the least free people in the world. That will sound like a contentious, bewildering statement to many, especially Americans, so let’s examine it. Nobody — nobody — else in rich countries is trapped in barbaric decisions that essentially boil down to your money or your life, your life savings or your health, chemotherapy or little Johnny’s college fund. And yet it’s also the case that even many people in poorer countries, by now, don’t live perpetually hounded by debts they’ll struggle with their whole lives long, or having their kids shot at schools, or having to pay the equivalent of a middle-class career just to educate a child, and so on — the majority being poor in a poor society is a natural limitation, but the majority being poor in a rich one can only really be the outcome of socially normalized and culturally sanctioned mass exploitation.

Americans are free, largely, to choose between different flavours of capitalist exploitation — this form of poverty, that form of isolation, that kind of fear and anxiety. But they cannot choose, very much, lives free of those things to begin with. Which one is genuine freedom? They’re caught, like prey, in between capitalism’s pincers —because it pays them barely enough to subsist as producers, yet demands more from them as consumers, as borrowers, every year — and the result is a new kind of deprivation, poverty in a rich country, powerlessness in a powerful country, a wealthy land of the broke and hopeless. Hence, the majority of Americans, 80%, now live at the edge, perpetually — no matter what they do, how much they earn, however much they try to save, what they accomplish. But living at the edge of ruin every day of your life, no matter what you do, isn’t freedom. It’s something closer to peasantry.

So what is freedom? That’s the nub of the question. Now, American thought, which is a feeble and barely existent thing to begin with, frames freedom around the idea of “coercion.” Coercion is a child’s idea — or a patriarch’s — idea of freedom: “hey, bro, nobody’s holding a gun to your head!” Ah, but does someone have to hold a gun to your head to shrink away your freedom? Or can they do it without a gun? With threats, like taking away your means of making a living, or saving for the future, or obtaining medicine, that are every bit as powerful as a bullet? If they can, then “coercion” is a meaningless notion, and so a society built atop such a childish idea will never be a free one.
And yet we don’t have to think much further than a bully to see that a lack “coercion” isn’t a valid litmus test of freedom: I don’t need a gun to intimidate, bully, and make you do my bidding, if I can take away your livelihood, shelter, safety, make you watch your kids starve and your spouse suffer an illness. If I control your subsistence, in other words—and that way have power over your very survival — I will never a gun in the first place. That is why the American idea of freedom has failed — hence, Americans live something suspiciously like exploited neo-peasants, bullied by a new class of capitalist robber barons, and all that is said to be all that “freedom” is, the chance to choose between forms of exploitation . But no one in their right mind should accept such a upside-down definition of freedom, which is an abusers’ one to begin with, calling cruelty kindness.

--snip--

American society is built upon an omnipresent, relentless, and constant form of compulsion — the loss of one’s subsistence. Underneath all the niceties and myths about America as the land of the “free”, there is the perpetual, looming threat of true disaster and catastrophe: that one might no longer be able to put bread on the table, afford medicine, have shelter, and so on. In short, American life is governed by the threat that one might lose the most basic elements of human subsistence altogether. And that threat never really wavers, or shrinks, much less vanishes. If anything, it seems to grow. American life is based upon society, culture, and the economy constantly threatening the survival of that very life.

... more...

26 replies, 1952 views

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Arrow 26 replies Author Time Post
Reply Why Capitalism Didn't Free Americans -- It Exploited Them (Original post)
hedda_foil May 2021 OP
Celerity May 2021 #1
hedda_foil May 2021 #2
Celerity May 2021 #6
whathehell May 2021 #3
Tomconroy May 2021 #4
Dan May 2021 #8
Tomconroy May 2021 #9
Dan May 2021 #12
brooklynite May 2021 #5
Dan May 2021 #7
whathehell May 2021 #11
Dan May 2021 #13
whathehell May 2021 #14
Budi May 2021 #10
obnoxiousdrunk May 2021 #15
Budi May 2021 #16
whathehell May 2021 #17
Budi May 2021 #18
betsuni May 2021 #20
betsuni May 2021 #19
Ron Green May 2021 #21
GulfCoast66 May 2021 #22
Blue_true May 2021 #23
GulfCoast66 May 2021 #24
Blue_true May 2021 #25
Xolodno May 2021 #26


Response to Celerity (Reply #1)

Sat May 15, 2021, 08:00 PM

2. Thanks, Celerity!

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Response to hedda_foil (Reply #2)

Sat May 15, 2021, 08:11 PM

6. yw!

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Response to hedda_foil (Original post)

Sat May 15, 2021, 08:01 PM

3. Did it "free" any of the other nations in which it's practiced?

We're hardly alone in it.

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Response to hedda_foil (Original post)

Sat May 15, 2021, 08:07 PM

4. I don't agree with this. The US provides a safety net, perhaps less

generous than in some European countries, but it is there nonetheless. The future is always unknown and in that sense it is always frightening. The possibilities available in this country for reinvention and achieving economic security are considerable. The author sounds like he ran up too much credit card debt.

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Response to Tomconroy (Reply #4)

Sat May 15, 2021, 08:15 PM

8. Good luck living on our less generous safety net.

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Response to Dan (Reply #8)

Sat May 15, 2021, 08:24 PM

9. With the institution of social security, medicare and medicaid

the Democratic Party essentially eliminated the problem of poverty among the elderly in a single generation.
Medicaid and Obamacare are providing health care for many. SSD provides a basic level of income for the disabled. I don't claim it is easy to get by on such programs, but the situation is better then the author would have you believe.

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Response to Tomconroy (Reply #9)

Sat May 15, 2021, 09:29 PM

12. The elderly people that are receiving SS,

What is the average benefit. I know that a friend’s mother received SS, and it was less than $200 a month.

I have another friend that is receiving SSD - for a monthly income of $1700.

So, maybe the question is, what is an acceptable quality of life?

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Response to hedda_foil (Original post)

Sat May 15, 2021, 08:09 PM

5. Do you have an alternative economic structure in mind?

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Response to hedda_foil (Original post)

Sat May 15, 2021, 08:14 PM

7. I have always thought this to be true....

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Response to Dan (Reply #7)

Sat May 15, 2021, 09:09 PM

11. WHAT to be true?..Again, does capitalism "free" all the other nations

in which it's practiced?

I dislike the fact that our safety net is less generous than in other capitalist countries, but that can be changed. If the author seeks to criticize that situation, I'm on board, but if it's an attempt to criticize capitalism itself, he or she must acknowledge it's existence in most
of the developed world, and discuss the differences. Otherwise, it's just a political hit piece ("America sucks"!)) in an article purportedly
examining Economics.




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Response to whathehell (Reply #11)

Sat May 15, 2021, 09:36 PM

13. Capitalism, why do we have to have so many losers?

There has to be something better, what that is - maybe we should be looking more at the European mixed economies.

America does suck in it’s concern for people. America is a beautiful place if you have money.

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Response to Dan (Reply #13)

Sat May 15, 2021, 09:44 PM

14. Convene a global meeting of capitalist countries and ask that question

The "mixed economies" of Europe are still predominantly Capitalist. If you read my entire post, you'd understand my point.

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Response to hedda_foil (Original post)

Sat May 15, 2021, 08:50 PM

10. Online Reply to Umair's medium rant. "This is rabid Anti-Americanism with an Oxonion vocabulary."

 

"When you see hysterical headlines in Medium like:
Why Capitalism Didn't Free Americans -- It Exploited Them"

"You wonder: who is this person and why does Medium put him front and center?

Surely he must know something?
The thing is, he doesn’t.
This is just rabid anti-Americanism with an Oxonion vocabulary."

"These are all standard issue complaints - some valid - often plucked from the headlines, and all stirred up to a fever pitch as catnip to America-haters and other green-eyed monsters.

You might also wonder what speed of light he is talking about?

The speed of lightheadedness, perhaps - the kind you get from trashing the country you envy.

There is plenty to criticize about any country, the U.S. being no exception, but the steady stream of shrill and thinly argued diatribes against the “Big Satan” sounds all too often like standard Jihadist propaganda. And if it isn’t Jihadist, then fill in for any surviving communist or pathetic failed state that can’t think of anyone else to blame but Uncle Sam. Obviously, they couldn’t possibly be to blame for their messes.

The funny thing is that if you want to see a lightspeed collapse, you have only to look at Haque’s heritage country of Yemen, where they are facing the sudden likelihood of 5 million refugees due to an intensification of their civil war.

Umair will not be wasting any time writing about that country or any other like it……just the land of the Star Spangled Banner, where every America-hater would love to go anyway - if they could just wangle a green card.

Better to hate from within than from without - especially when you’re trying to ignore all those other war-torn hellholes…..

The funny thing is there has been a famous ISIS recruiter in the UK by the name of Umar Haque..
No doubt it’s a coincidence, but what the haque, Umair should fill the slot - if he hasn’t already!
"
********
********

Hey DUers:
IT's Always good to factcheck the unfamiliar author of an Anti-Americanism, Anti-Democracy sounding tribute the likes of many of Umair writings.

AND ANOTHER REVIEW:

Haque has made a fine art of catastrophisation. The USA is dead. The UK is dead. Civilisation is dead. We’re doomed. We can’t help but wonder why it could be so bad… and so we click.
If you haven’t come across them, here’s a selection of headings:


*Is This How America Dies?
*America is How A Civilisation Collapses
*America is a Smoking Fascist Dystopia
*The Future is Here and it’s Made of Apocalypse
*American Democracy will Die in 50 Days
*The Walking Apes Who Destroyed the World
America’s Coronapocalpse
*It’s Not That I’m Negative, We Really Are Screwed


Most of the titles strike hard with a fatalism. They also hail and often bait an audience. “America” and “American” appears frequently. The words “idiot” and “idiots” too.
If you yelled across the street “Hey, asshole”, everyone on the other side of the street would of course turn and face you. You got their attention.
His heckles-as-headlines are dotted with caustic words like “Death”, “Dying”, “Dumb”, “Dystopia”, “Fascism” and “Collapse”.

ETC....
https://stevengambardella.medium.com/on-umair-haque-abdd762860b
*************

Looking at his long list of writings, they all have one recurring theme.
ANTI-AMERICANISM.

I'LL TRASH THIS AUTHOR IF I SEE HIM AGAIN.






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Response to Budi (Reply #10)

Sat May 15, 2021, 10:05 PM

15. +1. N/t

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Response to obnoxiousdrunk (Reply #15)

Sat May 15, 2021, 10:31 PM

16. It appears Umair's found a nifty method of Sensationally Exploiting the American reader.

 

Noted, Umair Haque’s primary income source is Writer
Net Worth - approximatlety $5million +
Wiki..

Only in America can one become a multimillionare by selling Anti-American doomsday enhanced rants about the Death of America.

Ain't Capitalism Great, or What!

$$$$$$$$$$$$$

Here's just a sample of how he's made his millions, in America.

Haque has made a fine art of catastrophisation. The USA is dead. The UK is dead. Civilisation is dead. We’re doomed. We can’t help but wonder why it could be so bad… and so we click.
If you haven’t come across them, here’s a selection of headings:


*Is This How America Dies?
*America is How A Civilisation Collapses
*America is a Smoking Fascist Dystopia
*The Future is Here and it’s Made of Apocalypse
*American Democracy will Die in 50 Days
*The Walking Apes Who Destroyed the World
*America’s Coronapocalpse
*It’s Not That I’m Negative, We Really Are Screwed



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Response to Budi (Reply #16)

Sat May 15, 2021, 10:35 PM

17. LOL

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Response to whathehell (Reply #17)

Sat May 15, 2021, 10:39 PM

18. America, What a great country!!

 

Yup. America's been very good for Umair Haque!

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Response to Budi (Reply #16)

Sat May 15, 2021, 11:16 PM

20. Oh my!

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Response to hedda_foil (Original post)

Sat May 15, 2021, 11:12 PM

19. The populations of other countries haven't been convinced to hate government and taxes.

Too many Americans don't vote for the party that regulates capitalism and provides a social safety net, wants to provide universal health care, good education, worker protections, unions, etc. That's not capitalism's fault, it's not that simple. Unregulated capitalism is Republican ideology. American individualism is a problem, there's a weaker sense of society.

What's the deal with the Soviet art illustrating the article? I see that and think typhus and starvation.

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Response to hedda_foil (Original post)

Sat May 15, 2021, 11:58 PM

21. "The problem with Capitalism is that

there are not enough capitalists.”

— G.K. Chesterton

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Response to hedda_foil (Original post)

Sun May 16, 2021, 12:12 AM

22. We can all bitch about something.

I’ve spent considerable time in Capitalist Germany and France.

Please name a system that works better. I won’t hold my breath.

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Response to GulfCoast66 (Reply #22)

Sun May 16, 2021, 12:20 AM

23. People can't name a better system.

Last edited Mon May 17, 2021, 09:40 PM - Edit history (2)

Communism impoverished everyone but the elites.

The problem with capitalism is that business ethics is the least emphasized element in business schools. That is backwards, it should be pounded into students’ skulls.

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Response to Blue_true (Reply #23)

Sun May 16, 2021, 01:01 AM

24. I'm assuming you mean impoverished, not improvises.

But no harm, no foul. After cooking a good batch of jambalaya I’m pretty deep in the bourbon now. Having to read my post word for word to insure accuracy!

I disagree Business schools can do the job. Or rather desire to do the job. Maybe things have changed in the 35 years since I went to university, but back then labor cost was seen as a bad thing. And as a science major I only took 4 economic classes.

Only workers and unions can significantly raise pay. And apparently a pandemic! Which is ironic because the Black Death ended surfs in England. Their labor was too valuable!

I think the younger generations are not going to put up with the BS I did when a kid

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Response to GulfCoast66 (Reply #24)

Mon May 17, 2021, 09:47 PM

25. We are plunging headfirst into a big problem.

Robotics and AI have already replaced millions of workers and the situation will only get worse in time. If people plan to keep having children, we need to seriously look at systems such as Guaranteed Income. Owners of automated businesses will need to accept that the tradeoffs to them automating is to share profits with society (and that process needs to be screened so that it is free of graft in all areas that would be part of such a system).

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Response to hedda_foil (Original post)

Mon May 17, 2021, 11:04 PM

26. One of the interesting contradictions...

...every basic Econ 101 text book will teach about Scarcity and Finite resources.

Yet, some will turn around and write about how capitalism needs constant growth and consumption. Pretty much a head scratcher.

The theory of capitalism just isn't sustainable. But here in the USA we live in an environment of McMansions, boats, rv's people only use once a year, etc. "He who dies with the most toys, wins"....but they don't win and spent a lifetime of lavishness they never got to enjoy.

Population control? Impossible in a society where more population gives you continued economic growth, tax base, profits, etc. But at some point, we are going to start mining old landfills for resources and think its a good thing.

And yes, we do mine old landfills for some resources, just not at a mass scale...yet.

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