Friday, June 29, 2018

The Choice America Is Making Now


eand |  Predatory capitalism has long fuelled the American economy — the middle class hollowed out to make the rich richer. But they don’t have any money, savings, or income left to give. And yet the only thing that American economy was built to do was prey. So whom will it prey on now?

Do you see the problem? The machine was built to generate “growth” by taking things from people — their money, their time, their imagination, their courage, their empathy — and in return jacking up the price of the basics of life, healthcare, education, finance, to astronomical prices. Not exactly a fair trade to begin with. But people now have nothing left to give. They have been bled dry. So what happens now? What will the machine consume to keep itself going?

Well, whom can it prey on now? Maybe more camps will have to be built, and more kids put in them, and each one made a profit center. Maybe all those private prisons will have to be filled up with dissidents. Maybe all those tech companies will start reporting you as dangerous. Maybe all those TV shows you watch will be used to make a profile of whether or not you are a good citizen. It’s not a coincidence they built concentration camps in old Walmarts — it’s a perfect metaphor for an implosive economy.

The point is this. Profits have to propped up, by more and more violent and coercive means, because America’s economy isn’t really capable of producing much that is real or valuable anymore. Nobody in the world really wants to buy what America has to sell — guns, Facebook ads, and greed, to put simply. But America’s own broken middle class doesn’t have anything left to give now. So the ways that such a predatory economy can “grow” are few now: by imprisoning people for profit, by abusing them for profit, by expropriating their wealth, or by putting them to work. What are those ways, in particular?

So the third thing “implosion” implies is a violent, spectacular process. When a society is collapsing, it is run by plutocrats. But when a society is imploding, it is run by mafias and warlords. That is basically where America is, though maybe it wouldn’t like to admit it. What other kinds of people smile as kids are shot in schools? Mafias and warlords exact their tribute. It doesn’t matter who pays, or whether payment is made in gold, silver, or bodies — it only matters that the mafias are paid.

That is why predation is now taking on a very different tone now. It is going from the hidden, soft predation of crap jobs and raiding pension funds and shifting debt from bailed out hedge funds onto students — to something harder, something more lethal, whose teeth and claws are finally being revealed. So implosion means, in this second sense, that predatory institutions are ready to use hard force, real violence, to accomplish their means. They are ready to consume everything that is left now, with very real abuse and systematic human rights violations. Hence, the camps.

But the camps are just a beginning. For an economy which has no good way left to grow, which makes mostly nothing the world wants, and whose people are too poor to buy what the world makes, the endgame is clear. Such an economy is going to have start resorting to more and more spectacularly violent means of repression and subjugation, to alleviate fast-spreading poverty. So today’s camps, as terrible as they are, are only a starting point, not an end point.