Sunday, March 9, 2008

The New Faces of an Old Problem?

I remember my days as a youth during the Cold War with the USSR. Many older people I knew, mostly teachers (I was a schoolboy after all), used to go to great lengths to preach about the differences between Capitalism and the horrors of Communism. It was said that the biggest problem with the Communist system, other than the appalling lack of freedom, was that creativity and initiative was stifled by the system itself. This due to the way Communism attempted to make all persons within it's grasp totally equal and the same. It was concluded that with no social/class differences, all the ills of society would be solved. We all know what really happened. The ones in the government simply used it for their advantage, at the expense of everyone else.

Now flash forward to 21st century America, and the "Triumph" of the Capitalist system. How many of our virtues have turned out to be vices? We are now living in a society where 2% of the world's population controls 80% of the world's wealth. Out of all this wealth, maybe(?) 1/8th of our population controls the lion's share of it, with most of the US population living dangerously close to the poverty mark and maxed out on credit. The same argument once made against the Communists can now be made against our own society, though in a different way.

While I walked through the local Big Boxed bastion of Greed, (I'll let you guess where), we pondered why the local area did not have any other stores like it, or why the local shopping mall remains devoid of stores other than military recruiters. This region has more than enough population and would definitely support several stores of this type. During our discussions on this topic, we surmised that the reason behind this is that with the rise of Uber-Capitalism, nobody, (meaning corporations), is willing to take a risk on anything. The only thing that appears to count is the gross outcome, and it had better be big, or it will not be done. Anything risky within our system is not done, all that is striven for is a "sure-thing". The whole effect of this is the breaking down of the classic American value system. American's have long been known as pioneers and entrepreneurs. This image has in truth been lost, as America has turned into a nation of franchises, dominated by Big Boxes, with no real innovation or freedom other than the freedom to buy more un-needed crap.

So here we come to the old argument proposed against Communism. How different are we really? Isn't the current system just anther, albeit corporate, version of the same old thing? who is really free? What is this freedom people speak of? Is it the freedom to actually say and live like you want, or is it the freedom to live within the rules established by the corporations as long as we buy their crap? Isn't this like a form of Communism, but with a different name?

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