The title suggests you’re about to read why capitalism is great and how it will never die because it’s resilient and the only true and good economic system. Well, if that’s what you’re searching for, take your leave of this blog now. You’re in the WRONG place. However, if you’re truly interested in what it is I mean, continue.
Reading Jack London’s Iron Heel, I realized something I think Jack London skirted with the idea of but never allowed himself to come full circle about capitalism: even those at the top are wageslaves!
Don’t believe me? Just bear with me a minute…
Marxist and socialists of most stripes and colors will agree with me that all laborers are wageslaves. By wageslave, I mean a person that is forced into earning a wage, aka money, aka a thing that has no intrinsic value, in order to survive. In a capitalist system, a person is incapable of self-sufficiency. Even libertarian and hippie farmers who live off the land are required to sell their goods at market FOR MONEY to purchase things they cannot produce independently.
So, if you’re a socialist, or even have hints of red flowing through your blood, you’ll follow me thus far. The wageslave is as the name suggests, a slave to their wages.
Now, Jack London suggests in “Iron Heel” that even the manager of a factory, the lawyer and the judge in a factory town, are all wageslaves. Even the public defender in a factory town, the one who defends workers who are mangled in the factory ARE WAGESLAVES!
The reason? The manager of the factory is little more than an upper level wageslave. Anyone who’s worked in factory understands THIS point. The Judge and lawyers get their paychecks from relatively the same place (so long as we don’t include Judges who have to run for office…which is an easier argument).
For instance: The public defender NEEDS that factory to exist so (s)he can make a meager wage defending laborers hurt in the factory. If (s)he wins a large enough case, the factory dies. The lawyer’s job goes with it.
Now, the harder argument to make is that the CEO of a corporation, a company so big, so influential, that it’s considered a legal human being by the U.S. Supreme Court, is little more than a wageslave. For this, I’m going to need to use an analogy.
In the 17th and 18th centuries, Western Europeans traveled to the West Coast of Africa for Africans they could enslave and sell as workhorses. Because of disease and lack of understanding of the terrain in inner Africa, Western traders would pay African mercenaries or African traders to trek into the heart of Africa to get “the really good Africans”, you know, the one’s that were really strong.
So, Africans were enslaving Africans to sell to Westerners. Those African mercenaries or traders were the upper rungs of the totem pole…but they were still slaves! If they didn’t do what Westerners wanted, they would just find someone else who would. They would eventually find themselves at the BOTTOM of the totem. They are wageslaves (or REAL slaves) but they were at the top!
CEO’s are the same!
Capitalism is so resilient that it IS a creature. It lives. It breaths. It exists on its own. CEOs, even if they really wanted to destroy the system (dare I say Ayn Rand????), they couldn’t. They are just the African slave at the top of the totem.
In order to actually destroy capitalism in a revolution, EVERY SINGLE ENTITY WOULD HAVE TO REVOLT. And, as we have seen over and over in human society, this is not possible. There will always be one person to keep capitalism alive.
Marxist revolutionaries would argue that all you need is a popular uprising! Revolutionaries will point to the French Revolution as positive proof that popular revolutions can bring change. WRONG!
French Revolution took place after France was a STATE. All the popular uprising did was give the STATE of France a new face. It’s still a state.
The Occupy Movement is bound for defeat even if the literally millions of people take to the street in the U.S. The reason? Not EVERYONE will take to the street. There will always be a life support system for capitalism.
The one thing Marx got wrong about capitalism was its resiliency.