The English Rock Group “Queen” had a song that really would work well as a national anthem for America and Capitalism itself: “I want it all and I want it now.”
It celebrates the narcissism, arrogance, smug entitlement, selfishness, myopia, ultra-individualism, instant gratification, and ADD/ADHD-like narrow slices of attention spans that represent so much of what passes for national “culture” in America.
These core “values” and proclivities, alleged aspects of some immutable “human nature” called Homo Oeconomicus”, are as well, imperatives, promises and needs of capitalism as a system.
Imagine a Super Bowl where people stand and put their hands over their hearts, eyes tear up, air-force fighters fly over, military units parachute in, military bands strike up and all join in with this:
“I’m so powerful on stage that I seem to have created a monster. When I’m performing I’m an extrovert, yet inside I’m a completely different man.”
~ Freddie Mercury ~
I want it all
I want it all
I want it all…..and I want it now!
Adventure seeker on an empty street
Just an alley creeper, light on his feet
A young fighter screaming, with no time for doubt
With the pain and anger can’t see a way out
It ain’t much I’m asking, I heard him say
Gotta find me a future move out of my way
I want it all, I want it all, I want it all, and I want it now
I want it all, I want it all, I want it all, and I want it now
Listen all you people, come gather round
I gotta get me a game plan, gotta shake you to the ground
But just give me, huh, what I know is mine
People do you hear me, just gimme the sign
It ain’t much I’m asking, if you want the truth
Here’s to the future for the dreams of youth
I want it all (give it all – I want it all)
I want it all (yeah)
I want it all and I want it now
I want it all (yes I want it all)
I want it all hey
I want it all and I want it now
I’m a man with a one track mind
So much to do in one lifetime (people do you hear me)
Not a man for compromise and where’s and why’s and living lies
So I’m living it all, yes I’m living it all
And I’m giving it all, and I’m giving it all
Oooh oh yeah yeah – ha ha ha ha ha
Yeah yeah yeah yeaaah
I want it all
It ain’t much I’m asking, if you want the truth
Here’s to the future
Hear the cry of youth (hear the cry of youth) (hear the cry of youth)
I want it all, I want it all, I want it all and I want it now
I want it all yeah yeah yeaaaah
I want it all, I want it all and I want it now
Oh oh oh oh oooh
And I want it – now
I want it, I want it
Now that sums up the mentality, “social capital” (institutions, relations and values) that capitalism as a system MUST generate in order to survive and grow as a system.
The problem is that what capitalism requires for the PRODUCTION of maximum possible potential economic surplus value (divided into profits, interest, rents) compromises, contradicts, obstructs and even negates the actual REALIZATION (actual monies paid in-full) of the only potential surpluses that were first produced or only potentially embodied in the commodities not yet sold and thus realized.
Capitalism, in production of the means of subsistence, requires: socialization; cooperation; integration; divisions of labor and coordinated specialization; team spirit; in the course of production of the means of subsistence at lowest possible costs and in the most efficient ways possible.
Failure to produce “efficiently” at the lowest possible total costs relative to competitors and their total costs means eventually failure to compete and profit through price and other forms of competition and eventual demise of the business while competitors get bigger and bigger and able to swallow bigger fish themselves.
Think about your own life and how many different activities by others you depend upon to do what you do; and vice versa how many people depend upon you and your caring about more than yourself and your own immediate pleasures when you have duties upon which others depend. We need each other and we make trade-offs, compromises, we wait and sacrifice for the future etc.
But capitalism is not just about need or want. Were that the case, we have the means to eliminate hunger if food were not a commodity for profitable sale.
It is about effective demand, profit potential, risk, and uncertainty and survival imperatives. It is about who can pay, how much, when and under what terms. One can produce at the lowest possible total cost and able to offer commodities at lowest possible prices while still being profitable, but if no one is able to buy or wants to buy at any price, one has only “produced” potential profit.
But that potential profit is only actually realized, money in the till, when actual sales are made, and, when accounts receivable have been cleared. That is when the profit chickens come home to roost or not. Under capitalism, there are no guarantees of effective demand or of sustained effective demand.
And capitalism is about REALIZED–not hypothetical–PROFITS for POWER; AND POWER for REALIZED PROFITS. Further, the name of the game is long-term and sustainable effective demand and profit potential. If someone makes a one-time score that pisses off a customer who calls out the offending business to others, instead of sales turned into customers into new sales into new customers… the opposite occurs of loss of sales and customers and sales and customers…
But all costs are also incomes and vice-versa. In driving down the total costs of production, the largest types of which are related to labor incomes and means of mass purchases what has been produced (how many toasters or televisions can rich people buy and use?), capital and capitalist power relations-structures drive down the means for the masses to buy, and thus realize the potential profits embodied in, the commodities being produced.
Thus capitalism produces a perpetual contradiction between the imperatives to accumulate capital and expand production levels on the one hand, versus restraints on the imperatives, and means (incomes and benefits of the masses that do the majority of consumption) to actually purchase and continues to accumulate the capital and commodities that were produced.
The traditional ways out of the dialectically related crises of both over-production and under-consumption was via debt peonage, war, imperialism, foreign markets and conquest and pushing debt-fueled conspicuous consumption, narcissism and egoism at home.
To paraphrase Malthus, the imperatives of capitalism drive accumulation of capital and production of commodities by means of commodities to exponential (2, 4, 8, 16…) growth rates and levels on the one hand, while the same imperatives of capital accumulation and profitability also cause the means of consumption and realization of surplus value to expand only arithmetically (2, 4, 6, 8,…) and unevenly over time and space.
But there is also a crisis in the SSAs or Social Structures of Accumulation which are institutions, relations, ideas, values necessary for the expanded reproduction not only of capital and capital-labor relations but of capitalism itself. One one level, SSAs foster hope, trust, social cohesion, cooperation buying into the system, social responsibility and civic pride and participation.
Who will invest, buy big ticket items, save or borrow for school, produce children etc if they do not buy into the system and believe there is a future in it for them and their loved ones?
Social Structures of Accumulation are dynamic constellations of institutions and power relations and structures that remove obstacles to the expanded reproduction of capital accumulation and capitalism itself.
But on other levels the same SSAs, to promote markets, consumerism, expanding demand, they promote individualism, selfishness, greed, avarice, need for instant gratification and sense of entitlement to “have it all and have it now” even if unable to afford it.
This mentality is necessary to drive the markets and levels of conspicuous consumption that capitalism requires for its survival and expanded reproduction as a system. As the slogan of the infamous Medicis put it: “Money to acquire power; power to protect money.” that is capitalism 101 in a nutshell.
As a manager under capitalism, you want as a worker, someone who can see the big picture, be cooperative, able to sacrifice and delay gratification and work as a “team player”. But as a customer, you want that same worker to be self-absorbed, willing to go into debt to “have it all and have it now”.
In combat, as an officer commanding troops, you want someone who will take one for the team, and cover your back and not cut and run. The typical businesses surrounding military bases (tattoo parlors, strip joints, whore houses, rent-to-own furniture, payday advances etc) want that soldier as a customer, that same person, to be only concerned with his immediate pleasure and his needs now and those you can profit from above all others.
As a manager the capitalist wants no regulations on his firm polluting the shit out of some river while paying off a few congressmen to look the other way or even help him profit more from his pollution or socialize the costs of his privatized profitability. But perhaps as a father, obsessed with some form of immortality, he wants his little Johnny, the apple of his inbred eye and future owner of the business, alive and with heirs and “dynastic seed” that do not have genetic problems or glow in the dark.
And as say a business person who needs the help of a neighbor to prevent an imminent flood taking out your home, you do not want as neighbors, some of your best customers for the luxuries you sell them as they are, as customers, the ideal types who are able to focus for only a minute or so and only on what gives them personal and immediate pleasure and has something in it for them.
The kind of person celebrated by the model “Economic Man” and by the likes of psychopath Ayn Rand, whose model for her novels by the way, was a real-life psychopath, is that–a psychopath or sociopath: narcissistic, predatory, amoral, self-absorbed, unable to delay gratification and “wants it all and wants it now”. The kind that feels so entitled summed-up in the poem by Bertolt Brecht:
Those who take the meat from the table,
Those for whom the taxes are destined,
Those who eat their fill, speak to the hungry,
of wonderful times to come.
Those who lead the country into the abyss,
call ruling too difficult,
for ordinary folk.
This model customer and consumer of capitalism is not the kind of person one wants as a citizen, neighbor, family member, or team member in the production of commodities by means of commodities and surplus value embodied in them. This type is usually the opposite of what one seeks to be close to and reliant upon and hence part of the reason for the ultimate doom of capitalism under the weight of its own internal contradictions and imperatives.
These core imperatives of capitalism form the core “logic” of the System driving it. But lowering COSTS to PRODUCE Surplus Value compromises the INCOMES (also costs) needed to buy and REALIZE the potential profit. Thus PRODUCTION outstrips CONSUMPTION and imperative to leverage more debt load. Also GREED, SELFISHNESS and “I-want-it-all-and-I-want-it-now-ism” show up in the workplace mentalities and behaviors and not only in the places of conspicuous debt-fueled consumption
Imperial Expansion Spiral Fed by Core Imperatives and Expansionary “Logic” of Capitalism
Contractionary and Decline-Decay Spiral of Imperialism driven by Core Imperatives and “Logic” of Capitalism in Late-Phase Stages
How many students are in a bad way debt wise because “they wanted it all and wanted it now” and thought they were entitled and could indeed do so?
How many bought into absurd notions like: “If I just take out a a loan, never mind the terms of repayment, I’ll get a piece of paper that says I am a something-something with a title; this will give me a job that pays off my student debt fairly quickly”. “I don’t have to go in the military, I don’t have to hold a job, ever do menial labor to go to school and can even become an instant manager of people whose jobs I could never do with a management degree”
And now many are whining and begging for debt forgiveness to escape their own responsibilities and accountability for their debt situations and even having to pay for remedial training they did not earlier bother to seek and gain when they were also trying then to ‘have it all and have it now’? Are they not just saying I got this degree where is my job? They promised me. It is called “tautological credentialism”.
What do those big words mean? How many have been to Khan Academy for free training and remedial skills upgrading in all sorts of subjects?
A tautology is a circular argument or truism by identity. For example, if I say that inflation is up because prices are rising, that is tautological or circular. Because inflation is a process of rising prices eroding the purchasing power of a currency unit, all I have said is prices are rising because prices are rising–a tautology.
Now here is a common one that goes like this: The basic requirement to be say a medical transcriptionist or a computer engineer candidate for consideration is an AA in one case or B.S. in engineering and some other requirements in the latter case.
One version of tautological credentialism is that since I hold the position, a title, no matter how I got it, this must mean I have the actual established credentials or equivalent to hold this position otherwise how could or would I hold it?
Or, if you ask me what are my credentials are for the position and I give the title as my credentials, I am saying some title, some kind of manager, I am merely quoting a title not actual credentials and capabilities, but am implying or asserting I could not possibly hold the title without the qualifications; and thus the title becomes the credential instead of real credentials and open competition and merit leading to gaining and also holding of that title.
So it goes something like this: “I just got me this piece of paper that says I are educated. I bought into the promise, ok, I borrowed so much I did not even have prospects to pay back; but the school helped me get the financing so I would not have to work or join the military and maybe even get killed.
They said their school was first rate, promised me the jobs were to be had, and said they would help with job placement; said I could ‘have it all and have it now’. And now where is my job? Why are these damn foreigners getting my job? And by the way, why are the gas prices going crazy? What are these damn Arabs doing with our oil under their sand? Who is going to save us from ourselves?
You promised us we could have it all and have it now.”
How many went to school to get the rock-bottom minimum paper it takes to score a specific job title and position? How many cared about the actual nature and impacts of their work, in “service” to whom, versus merely the title and how the title looked on a business card as they made their career choices?
How many went after easy degrees from paper mills known as such? How many wanted some degree in something-something (Women, LGBT, American, Native, Black, Latino, etc) Studies with no math? How many went into the military to finance their school and did not care if the wars they were sent to were really adding any democracy or national security to anyone anywhere?
How many of the wounded were glory boys and girls who wanted some instant recognition, some instant morphing “from a nobody to a somebody” (as Audie Murphy himself once put it), self-esteem boosts?
How many gays or lesbians and wanted some “instant mainstreaming ” to prove a point that gays and lesbians can also be “Red State Patriots”, willing and loyal tools of U.S. imperialism in illegal wars founded on lies, and in on some of the macho action too?
How many of them left orphans, widows and tortured before they were wounded while they were “getting it all and getting it now”?
When I was in the military, and homophobia was even more extreme and dangerous than today, some straight people faked being gay, and some gays outed themselves, and had their lives ruined, to get out of going to war and being part of the terror machinery and genocidal wars of U.S. imperialism.
Now we find gays and lesbians, until recently, faking being straight in order to join the military and prove they can be as mercenary, right-wing, macho, racist, thug-like, war criminals and blood-thirsty as the macho and testosterone-overloaded straights–and get their schooling financed as well.
How many veterans now back were prepared to finance their schooling, seek adventure, job security or the like by becoming willing tools of imperialism in places they could not locate on a map or spell?
How many were and are prepared to aid, abet, cover-up and even call “service to the nation and national security”, what is naked, mercenary, military service that is “in service” not of any democracy or national security of the U.S., but “in service” to lies, phony intelligence, contrived pretexts and illegal wars, war crimes, crimes against the peace, crimes against humanity and global terrorism of the kind Nazis and their Japanese forms were hanged for after World War II?
How many veterans complaining about who and which political parties “best salutes and honors their ‘service’ “with benefits, has the guts to reflect on the real nature of his or her military “service” as did Major General Smedley Darlington Butler, USMC, three times nominated and twice-awarded the Medal of Honor:
Maj General Smedley Darlington Butler, USMC
War is just a racket. I wouldn’t go to war again as I have done to protect some lousy investment of the bankers. There are only two things we should fight for. One is the defense of our homes and the other is the Bill of Rights. War for any other reason is simply a racket. It may seem odd for me, a military man to adopt such a comparison. Truthfulness compels me to. I spent thirty-three years and four months in active military service as a member of this country’s most agile military force, the Marine Corps. I served in all commissioned ranks from Second Lieutenant to Major-General. And during that period, I spent most of my time being a high class muscle-man for Big Business, for Wall Street and for the Bankers; in short, I was a gangster for capitalism. I suspected I was just part of a racket at the time. Now I am sure of it. Like all the members of the military profession, I never had a thought of my own until I left the service. My mental faculties remained in suspended animation while I obeyed the orders of higher-ups. This is typical with everyone in the military service. I helped make Mexico safe for American oil interests in 1914. I helped make Haiti and Cuba a decent place for the National City Bank boys. I helped in the raping of half a dozen Central American republics for the benefits of Wall Street. I helped purify Nicaragua for the international banking house of Brown Brothers in 1909-1912. I brought light to the Dominican Republic for American sugar interests in 1916. In China I helped to see to it that Standard Oil went its way unmolested. During those years, I had, as the boys in the back room would say, a swell racket. Looking back on it, I feel that I could have given Al Capone a few hints. The best he could do was to operate his racket in three districts. I operated on three continents.
How many of those who lost their homes bought into the notions that housing prices can never go down and that any money down is instant equity on which one can borrow and turn a home into an ATM?
How many aided the predatory lenders by not reading their contracts, not reporting their true financials, and not paying attention to the future costs and liabilities they were locking in?
How many of those screaming about health care have worries about medical conditions built up over a lifetime of over and self-indulgence?
How many of those who scream for cheap gas even know or care how many wars, dictators, tortured and murdered innocents it took and takes to keep the cheap gas flowing into huge SUVs for a scared and frightened middle class that does not give a shit about the real costs and plunder of imperialism in their name and openly supported by them?
How many of those who scream for the cheap gas will go to fight for it themselves or see their own “seed” go?
How many of those who supported these illegal wars founded on lies, not just bad and incompetent intelligence, but phony and crafted lies and pretexts for war now scream about the deficits and debt never mind blood of innocents that financed those wars and the reductions in expenditures that now must be made in their own pet programs?
How many of those who now whine about a supposed once now lost “American Dream” knew or cared that the “American Dream” meant and still means a national and global nightmare for many others all over the world, including inside America, who suffer horrible injustices and tragedies in the name of American exceptionalism, triumphalism, chauvinism, imperialism and “civilization”?
What about the poor, even former middle class never mentioned by either political party?
How many of those pushing for their own special pet causes (environment, jobs, LGBT, veterans, student debt etc) vote only on their own narrow pet issues and will tolerate all sorts of other injustices, illegal wars, gross global inequalities, to aid their own pet causes?
How many people in America assume a given position on any issue on the basis of narrow reactive notions like “the enemy of my enemy is or must be my friend?”
How many who talk about the supposed “American Dream” have ever been to American Indian Reservations like Pine Ridge and have seen what the “American Dream” means there?
And how many Americans bash China and the Chinese for holding American debt (keeping US interest rates at historic lows) as in this racist ad below when no one forced them or America to borrow? What if the Chinese just say pay us off and do not borrow from us if you have such a problem with us and see us as such an existential threat?
How many Americans see the shere arrogance and folly in rhetorical questions like “are ‘YOU’ or even ‘WE’ better off now than four years ago? Who is the “WE” referred to or even “YOU” referred to?
What if I personally have a job etc but all around me people are starving? How can anyone be in isolation and be “better off” (whatever that means and how it is measured) when all around him or her many are in misery?
Even as a matter of pure pragmatism and no compassion, how can anyone define himself or herself in isolation of those around him or her and the general conditions prevailing or likely to prevail? How much of the decline in union membership is due to corrupt unions and union practices rather than only management assaults and union-busting?
Karma Time for America.
Ladies and Gentlemen, please stand for our National Anthem
From the Screenplay to The Russia House by John Le Carre
Barley Scott Blair: “If there is to be hope, we must all ‘betray’[?] our country. We have to save each other because all victims are equal and none is more equal than others. It is everyone’s duty to start the avalanche…
Woman character: “Oh Barley, you want everyone to be a hero”…
Barley Scott Blair: “Listen, nowadays you have to think like a hero just to behave like a merely decent human being.”
“The fact that the candidate you’re being asked to vote for is at this moment rotting in an English jail shouldn’t put you off. Sure I was in one myself until a week ago. They can jail us. They can shoot us. They can conscript us. They can use us as cannon fodder in The Somme. But, but, we have a weapon more powerful than any in the whole arsenal of the British Empire. And that weapon is our refusal.
Our refusal to bow to any order but our own; any institution but our own. The Royal Irish Constabulary want to shut me up. Jail me again, shoot me, who knows. But I’d like you to send them a message. If they shut me up, who’ll take my place? I Can’t hear you. Who’ll take my place?”
[CRAZY HORSE (His Horse Is Enchanted) 1877 said this smoking a pipe with Sitting Bull 4 days before his assassination.]
“Upon suffering beyond suffering: the Red Nation shall rise again and it shall be a blessing for a sick world. A world filled with broken promises, selfishness and separations. A world longing for light again. I see a time of Seven Generations when all the colors of mankind will gather under the Sacred Tree of Life and the whole Earth will become one circle again. In that day, there will be those among the Lakota who will carry knowledge and understanding of unity among all living things and the young white ones will come to those of my people and ask for this wisdom. I salute the light within your eyes where the whole Universe dwells. For when you are at that center within you and I am that place within me, we shall be one.”
Prof. James M. Craven
“I WANT IT ALL AND I WANT IT NOW”: THE REAL NATIONAL ANTHEM OF AMERICA AND CAPITALISM
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