Milton Lost: Can We Regain Paradise?
by Jason Miller
[I dedicate this essay to the untold millions who suffered as a result of Milton Friedman’s creation of an intellectual bulwark for economic brutality. On 11/16/06, Friedman died of heart failure, an ironic cause of death for a heartless individual.]
We have reached the deplorable circumstance where in large measure a very powerful few are in possession of the earth’s resources, the land and its riches and all the franchises and other privileges that yield a return. These positions are maintained virtually without taxation; they are immune to the demands made on others. The very poor, who have nothing, are the object of compulsory charity. And the rest—the workers, the middle-class, the backbone of the country—are made to support the lot by their labor.
——Agnes George de Mille (granddaughter of Henry George), New York, 1979
Note that Ms. George de Mille penned her observations before the patron saint of the “have mores” established residence at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. In less than three decades, a Friedman-inspired Reagan and his successors made astounding gains for the “very powerful” de Mille described.
Reagan wielded the scalpel that emasculated organized labor and convinced America that “regulation” is a four letter word. George H.W. Bush further crippled unions and condemned many poor Mexicans to corporate exploitation through his relentless efforts to make NAFTA a reality. Convincing the multitude of his compassion and empathy, Clinton proceeded to sign NAFTA into law and cheerfully eviscerated public assistance.
Embarking on a “divine mission, George W. Bush has taken “free trade”, deregulation, fiscal strangulation of social programs, enervation of We the People, and militarism to breath-taking heights. In spite of W’s failure to eliminate the “Death Tax”, Milton Friedman is beaming with pride as the flames of eternal damnation incinerate his corporeal shell and render his wicked soul vulnerable to the divine castigation he so richly deserves.
Consider the words of Henry George, a US American economic and political thinker who advocated a balance of free markets, government regulation, and social programs:
The forces of the new era have not yet had time to make status hereditary, but we may clearly see that when the industrial organization compels a thousand workmen to take service under one master, the proportion of masters to men will be but as one to a thousand, though the one may come from the ranks of the thousand. “Master”! We don’t like the word. It is not American! But what is the use of objecting to the word when we have the thing? The man who gives me employment, which I must have or suffer, that man is my master, let me call him what I will.
—-Henry George, 1883
Inculcating and deluding the masses with a multi-billion dollar barrage of agitprop and sophistry potent enough to penetrate the minds of the most adroit thinkers, the moneyed interests behind corporatism and exploitative Capitalism have created a false dichotomy that clings to our collective psyche like a cocklebur deeply embedded in a wool sock. They are intent on retaining mastery over their wage slaves(1).
According to “conventional thinking” proffered by the corporate media, only two choices exist: the extant form of rapacious Capitalism or the gross perversions of Communism implemented by Stalin and Mao. Socialism might be considered as a third alternative at times, but since it is theoretically a transitional state leading to Communism, is “Leftist”, and advocates the needs of the collective over the desires of a few avaricious individuals, the MSM generally tends to equate it with Communism.
As all freedom loving denizens of the United States and its satellite bastions of Corporatism know, Communism is inherently evil while Capitalism is intrinsically good. Which is why the Bush Regime recently rescinded a ban on training right wing military forces in several Latin American nations. It is imperative that we keep the world safe for corporate plunder, human exploitation, and rape of the environment. Even if that means supporting murderous dictators like Pinochet or the slaughter of tens of thousands of civilians by right wing paramilitaries trained and supplied by the United States.
While it is true that there are potentially insurmountable problems with implementing a purely collective economic system that ignores the natural human propensities for greed and self interest, “prevailing thought” leaves no room for middle ground. As obedient wage slaves, we must labor to our dying breath to preserve an economic order that ensures the suffering of billions to afford a few million the means to satiate their every whim and desire(2).
Forget the existence of alternative economic theories like Distributism or Social Democracy. Potential economic models which threaten their stranglehold on prosperity are anathema to the plutocracy. Adopting an economic system with at least as much emphasis on society’s needs as on the pursuit of individual riches would almost certainly achieve a modicum of economic and social justice. However, as evidenced by their tenacious efforts to eliminate public funding for socially beneficial programs (rather than improving them), our opulent overlords have little interest in down-sizing their fleets of expensive cars so that children can eat.
And why do the wage slaves accept these pernicious lies, gross injustices, and moral aberrations?
Many have yet to shake free of insidious abstractions like uber-nationalism, xenophobia, racism, militarism, narcissism, and consumerism. These ludicrous conceptualizations effectively manacle their very minds and souls. Those who have awakened face the stark reality of nearly insurmountable economic barriers to freedom from some degree of complicity in the fascist designs of the Corporatocracy.
Virtually every member of humanity barring the pecunious class faces a brutal dilemma. Do they serve the elite as wage slaves or languish as one of their deeply impoverished victims? (In some cases both fates befall them simultaneously). While there are those precious few who win the lottery, exploit extreme athletic or musical talent, or miraculously embody the Horatio Alger myth, most people find themselves choosing between the Scylla and Charybdis.
To maintain their affluence and power, the haut monde need a relatively compliant stable of wage slaves to enable them to exploit the rest of humanity. Bread and circuses ensure the cooperation of most. As for the nuisances who begin to feel the agonizing prick of conscience and start questioning the system, the Sirens of consumerism, conformity, and fear often draw them back to devotional obedience and spiritual ruin.
And as for incorrigible dissidents, humanity’s subjugators exercise isolation and ridicule to arrest the spread of their influence on the rest of the population. And extortion virtually ensures a reasonable degree of servility from dissenters. As Solzhenitsyn observed in the Gulag Archipelago, even the most recalcitrant will fold when their families are threatened or jeopardized.
Leaving little to chance, the oligarchy has erected significant structural and psychological barriers to meaningful dissent, significant opposition, or escape from wage slavery. Consider this summary, which is by no means exhaustive:
1. Maintaining nearly monopolistic control of the means to disseminate information (excepting the Internet)
2. Providing seductively alluring offers of “success” in the form of material wealth and trophy spouses
3. Dispensing immediate gratification via easy credit, pornography, and fast food
4.Devoting insane levels of financial and human resources to law enforcement and the military (creating a formidable means of employing physical force)
5. Manufacturing sufficient mass hysteria (first the threat was Communism and now it is “Terrorism”) to virtually eliminate civil liberties with little more than a whimper of objection from the populace
6. Deflecting responsibility to scapegoats like Muslims, Gays, and illegal immigrants
7. Promulgating a militaristic, commercialized form of Christianity via the mega churches of the Religious Right
8. Allowing corporations to set our government policy, write our laws, and bribe Congress with impunity
9. Wantonly deregulating corporations
10. Implementing numerous free trade agreements
11. Virtually eliminating the existence of organized labor
12. Dumbing down many of our children by bombarding them with rote learning to prepare for barrages of standardized tests (which seriously limits their capacity to think critically and independently)
13. Wal-Martizing the economy
14. Demanding higher productivity for lower wages and decreased benefits
15. Increasing the staggering number of people without health insurance
16. Widening the wealth and income chasms
17. Financially starving social programs
18. Creating incestuous relationships between the state and major corporations (as exemplified by the military-mass media complex) and in turn endowing their government with power approaching omnipotence
19. Waging perpetual wars
20. Indenturing the poor and working class to creditors by seriously weakening bankruptcy protection
21. Passing the Military Commissions Act and the John Warner National Defense Authorization Act
22. Creating and stockpiling weapons of mass destruction
23. Accelerating privatization around the globe (which is placing people at the mercy of ruthless corporations which sell them health care, education, utilities, fuel for their vehicles, and even drinking water)
24. Perpetuating an unjust mandatory income tax (enforced by a jack-booted IRS) on people who ultimately have no real say in how the money is used
25. Hijacking the vote in the United States for two consecutive presidential elections
In the face of such severe oppression, some of the victims in developing nations have resorted to fighting back with asymmetrical warfare. Choosing a path of non-violence, larger numbers in the developing world are employing political and economic power to defy the Neoliberal and Imperialist despots.
While some awakened souls amongst the wage slaves in developed nations have freed themselves physically by dropping out of the system, many have settled for spiritual and intellectual freedom as they strive to evoke change while enduring their bondage.
A relatively tiny number of craven and malevolent individuals hoard a majority of the planet’s wealth and have bullied billions into economic subjugation or a form of indentured servitude. Given the elites’ stacked deck, loaded dice, and crooked croupier, what play can the enslaved make?
How about an organized and unified effort to drive a stake through the heart of a vampiric system crafted and championed by compassionless bastards like Milton Friedman?
Despite facing economic tyranny of immense proportions, we wage slaves are far from impotent. In fact, we possess two strengths which give us incredible leverage:
1. The system would collapse without our cooperation.
2. We outnumber our “handlers” by a wide margin.
Prolonged massive boycotts coupled with widespread sustained strikes would catalyze a rapid implosion of a system already teetering on the brink of collapse. Businesses would shutter. Currency and market values would race downward. War machines would grind to a welcome halt. Governments would collapse. Hubristic malefactors would scurry as mice fleeing the imminent pounce of a hungry tom.
And chaos would ensue.
Would reason and humanity triumph to the extent that the emergent economic order would reverse the devastation inflicted by Neoliberalism, Corporatism, and predatory Capitalism?
Let’s hope we get the answer to that question before the criminal class crosses the Rubicon.
(1)Karl Marx decried wage slavery and its inevitability in a Capitalist system. But one doesn’t have to subscribe to Communism to recognize the smothering oppression and egregious social injustices associated with the prevailing economic paradigm which is championed and maintained by nexus of economic power in the United States.
(2)Thankfully the United States has a “mixed economy”. Imagine the depth of human misery if unadulterated Capitalism was unleashed with men like Cheney at the helm.