The Coastal Post - February 2000

Viagra+Prozac = Corporate Capitalism

By Frank Scott

The holiday season saw a greater than usual credit-buying orgy, augmented by what was once called the information highway and has now become a buyers' boulevard. An electronic hope for democracy is being turned into nothing more than a road to the market. The transformation of this electronic thoroughfare into an electronic strip mall is called e-commerce, as though it were something new. Sure.

The electronic market has less material form and more metaphysical substance, leading to incredible profits derived from even more incredible losses. And it has brought corporate capital's supreme influence over what gets into our heads under the guise of information. The mergers of already massive corporations have brought us to a point at which six monopoly mammoths exercise almost total control over the global flow of information.

By managing every step in the process of production, distribution and consumption, these giant conglomerates reduce economic competition to quaint mythology. Companies market products by getting their news operations to "report" on how desperately important it is for everyone to own, rent, lease, eat, drink, drive, watch, imitate or use these products, or be found lacking as consumers.

As the insane stock market creates fantastic profits for firms that are actually losing money, it is making many people rich, but sinking many more into debt. More workers are earning a paycheck than ever before, but they also have more financial obligations than ever before. And there are more people in jail than ever before, though not necessarily because of debt.

We have the world's most serious drug problem, and it begins with our political economic system. But our immoral war on only certain drugs does nothing to solve that problem and only makes matters worse. It unjustly expands the prison population and promotes human misery, sinks billions of dollars into the business of weapons, banks and jails, while meddling in the governing policy of other nations.

Whether the drugs used are legal or illegal, millions of Americans must be drunk, stoned, blissed or otherwise medicated in order to get through the average day without being comatose consumers. If their dealer is a doctor or an HMO selling synthetic dope from the labs of multi-billion dollar drug corporations, it's okay. But if their dealer operates on the street, with more organic dope, it means jail time, especially if they are lower income or non-white.

Morality, justice and sanity are all losers in a culture dominated by market forces that keep a majority of the people in a corporate-induced state of artificial intelligence.

This economy is performing like a flaccid male member under the influence of a drug to make it act like a strong machine rather than a weak organ. And our politics are democratic in the way that life seems beautiful to people dosed with an anti-depressant to keep them smiling and shopping.

The drugged state of so many people is an aspect of the unreal nature of a system of political economics. Its definition of democracy is rich people buying government, and it defines success as minorities getting rich while majorities fall into debt, poverty and depression.

We might as well all be medicated, given the hallucinatory nature of what our consciousness controllers sell us as reality.

The market is treated as though it were a force of nature, but it is a human construct, dominated by corporate minorities who maintain control by keeping the majority of people in a state of near unconsciousness. This arrangement makes consumption relatively easy, until the bill becomes due. But it makes citizenship extremely difficult, until the crisis becomes clear.

That crisis is both economic and political. The dwindling percentage of Americans who bother to vote will need heavier medication than usual to feel inspired about the elections in November. The ridiculously expensive and mostly irrelevant campaigns have been going on since 1998, yet any excitement seems to depend on a new candidate entering the race, or a juicy scandal surfacing.

The campaigns have been conducted with little interest expressed by any but activists and corporate media. Pundits and reporters, employed by firms bloated to gargantuan size by mergers, perpetuate the myth of democracy, even as it is denied by a public showing understandable disdain for the entire farce.

A society based on democracy and sociability is more possible than ever, but there needs to be a confrontation with the anti-democratic and anti-social nature of our commerce. The metaphysical market cannot be allowed to make decisions that should be arrived at by democratic consent. And the earth and its people cannot continue to be treated as simple commodities to be bought, sold, rented, leased, hired and fired.

Americans need to face two very important facts: 1) neither corporations nor capitalism are part of our constitution; and 2) our war on drugs is an integral part of sustaining corporate capitalism.

This system manufactures injustice, pollution and death, based on the production of waste and the distribution of lies. It reduces its people to commodity consumers, shopping without happiness and voting without purpose.

Recreational and therapeutic drug use are a part of life, but the profitable war on some drugs is about death , as is too much of the culture of commerce. Corporate capitalism is destroying democracy, ecology and sanity. Its power is dependent on continued ignorance of its danger and acceptance of its inevitability .

Our politics and economics are legal drugs that do infinitely more damage than illegal drugs. They are a pathology that is maintained by addicting their subjects to dishonesty and immorality. Becoming a truly drug-free culture means becoming a society free of the capitalist culture of commerce.
http://www.marin.cc.ca.us/~frank
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