Surely one of the lousiest things about capitalist society is the extreme competition that it engenders among humans. This would not be so bad except that US capitalist society is all about the “winners” and the “losers.” Supposedly the winners are the people who are making lots of money while they losers are the folks who are not making much money. Supposedly in this system, everyone gets exactly what they deserve. It’s America: life is what you make it.
I’ve been told these things over and over. This attitudes are ingrained so deeply in our culture that they are virtually intractable. If you don’t believe that these notions are the bedrock of American culture, then think about it a bit.
Of course I believed this crap myself for a long time, until I really sat down and thought about it.
In US society, the successful are probably those in the top 20% of the income bracket. That’s how it seems to me anyway. Those would be individuals who are making $70,000/yr or more. Whether those making under $70,000/yr are losers is open to debate. Obviously, at some level, your income is so low that you are a loser.
There’s an immediate problem with this, and this is the contempt for working class people. In what way is an honest, hardworking, conscientious working class person, no matter how low their income, a loser? Think about it. A good working class person can never be a loser. If you work, you’re ok. If you work hard, even better. If you work hard and you’re honest, better still.
The fact that tens of millions of Americans regard working class people with contempt and hatred simply because they are not paid very well is sickening. If you think like this, fuck you. Rightwingers insist that they never think this way. They insist that they love the working classes. But they don’t. They hate them, not only in policy but in everyday life.
To be completely honest, most liberals and moderates are not much better. I spent a lot of time hanging around with moneyed liberals, mostly “Hollywood Left” types who were working in the movie industry. These were good liberal people politically, but I didn’t like them one bit. They were all about money. They judged people according to how much money they made. The more money you made, the better human being you were. The less you made, the more of a slithering slug you were.
To me, this mentality obviated almost all of their liberal values. If you judge human beings by how much money they have, and you are all about money above every other human value, then how can you possibly be on the Left? I don’t see how you can.
Let’s assume that the top 20% is the cutoff for being a winner. OK, you’ve already decided that 80% of society are losers. Even worse, you are apparently demanding that 100% of society earn in the top 20% of the income bracket. Not a possibility. And if they fail to fulfill your impossible criterion, you condemn them.
No matter where you draw that cutoff line, and you have to draw it somewhere, 100% of the population can’t possibly be “successful.”
It’s typical in capitalist society, even among so-called liberals and Democrats, to say that those who were not “successful” didn’t try hard, or made poor decisions in life, or just frankly fucked up of their own accord in one way or another.
But consider this thought experiment. Suppose you could engineer humans so that everyone tried just as hard as everyone else and everyone made an equal number of poor and good decisions, and everyone fucked up as much as everyone else.
Guess what? You still end up with a small number of “winners” and a large number of “losers.” See? There will always be winners and losers, no matter how hard everyone tries, no matter how well people make decisions, no matter how many everyone fucks up.
Life under capitalism can be compared to a race. I would like to compare it to an Olympic race, say with 100 runners. Are any of these 100 crappy runners? Are any of them going to try any harder or less hard than anyone else? Are any of them going to fuck up more than the others? Probably not.
Anyway, no matter how hard those 100 try, no matter to what extent they fuck up their race or not, guess what. One person comes first, another second, another third, another tenth, another 37th, and 69th and another 100th. That’s the way it has to be.
And that’s the way it is in US capitalist society. Someone has to come in first, another 6th, another 27th, another 65th and there always has to be someone to come in 100th. People will come in first and 100th no matter how hard anyone tries, no matter how well people make their choices, no matter how much anyone fucks up.
Life’s a race.
I have thought about this analogy long and hard for many years now. I plug it into reality all the time. It makes perfect sense.
Winners and losers is crap. Everyone gets what they deserve is crap. Anyone can write their own ticket and go as far as they want is crap.
It’s all crap. All of these essential myths of the American Dream are bullshit.
And you know it.
And you if you don’t know it yet, you just haven’t thought about it enough.