OPINION: Capitalism corrupts democracy

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Wall st sign in New York City on Sept 22, 2007, set on the backdrop of the American flag. Wall Street is widely regarded as the heart of American capitalism. (Sjoerd van Oosten| IG @sjoerdvanoosten)
By Stephen Day

Capitalism is as American as apple pie. In fact, capitalism seems to be a part of America’s DNA.

The United States has a perplexing pride about its economic structure and a dangerous determination to bring those ideals to other nations.

That pride is not well-founded. Capitalism at its core is racist, anti-democratic and dangerous to the Earth and its climate.

As a society we must replace it with a responsible and sustainable economy that allows us the ability to not just struggle to survive, but to thrive.

Under a capitalistic economy means of production and distribution are privately owned. State and the operations are funded by profits. Proponents would argue that it provides efficiency, freedom and economic growth to the nation.

But is that how capitalism really works?

Capitalism’s first and most profitable commodity was black bodies founded on the backs of slaves and built with their blood, sweat and tears.

The expansion of slavery in post-Revolutionary War America drove the economy and modernization of industry. 

Pre-Civil War, the economic innovations that were most important at the time were all ways to make slavery more profitable.

It wasn’t long before the South had transformed themselves from a dying tobacco industry into a global leader in the production and distribution of cotton.

It wasn’t just the South that benefited from this exploitation of labor, bankers in the North, shipping merchants and the entire textile industry of England, all turned a blind eye in order to reap the profits of this cash cow.

This economic boom, which created the foundation of American capitalism, came at the cost of millions of African lives and the utter destruction of their culture.

From those horrific beginnings, capitalism has always relied on racism to maintain itself and the status quo.

After slavery was abolished, Indigenous, Mexican, Asian and Black labor continued to be considered cheap and exploitable. 

Today, migrant workers are often exploited for cheap labor, forced to work in deplorable conditions and many times without voice. Undocumented workers have nowhere to turn for help either.

Capitalism takes away the democratic voice, and leaves the true power in the hands of corporations.

Wealth and influence has also been used to ensure that politicians favorable to corporate interests end up being elected.

That influence carries far more weight than the voice of the people. 

Paid off politicians regularly deny climate change; despite the overwhelming scientific evidence of the dangers of climate change. Those politicians go so far as to strip out common sense regulations meant to minimize the impact of businesses on the environment.

Capitalism is destroying the Earth and not slowly. We are often told to limit our shower time, buy fewer plastic water bottles and recycle. The burden of responsible consumerism is placed on the consumer.

While those practices are beneficial to engage in, changing how we consume is less important than changing the way we produce.

Large corporations have made a science out of denying science and have found new and more creative ways to exploit the Earth and its natural resources.

When governments do try to establish legislation to improve environmental concerns, corporations engage in misleading and even illegal methods to bypass those regulatory standards.

The discussion of climate change is no longer an accepted scientific statement of fact; now it’s a political debate where the reality of the damages being inflicted are ignored. The tickled ears of the masses are led to believe whatever politically convenient talking point is delivered by cable news pundits.

The effect we are seeing is “hundred year storms” happening every year bringing droughts and wildfires.

With the world crumbling from the weight of capitalism, and the most vulnerable among us dying in the streets, it poses the question: How long will we continue to sacrifice our humanity and our planet for capitalism?

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