Corporations are interesting. Not interesting like good movies or good books, but interesting like documentaries about the voraciousness of army ants or the parasitic life cycle of a tapeworm. In the same vein, I find the bigger picture of capitalism intriguing as much as I find it repulsive. The fact the tenets of capitalism have been used ubiquitously to legitimize social and ethical atrocities is almost beautiful in its cold simplicity and tenacity.
“Sorry, Mr. Smith, it’s only business. You understand.”
Like a shark, it’s hard not to respect something so ruthless and single-minded. Sure, the CEO decided to slash a thousand jobs, but he did it so the company would show a profit, so it’s okay. Blood in the water is as common in capitalistic decision-making as it is in hammerhead feeding frenzies. And as long as it isn’t our blood floating around us, we keep our mouths shut instead of warning other swimmers by screaming “SHARK!”.
But I respect capitalism. I respect it as I would any ravenous carnivore. I would just prefer not to have to spend my whole life swimming in a pool with it. Treading water and continuously holding a chomping maw away from my throat is not my idea of having a fulfilling life. In a capitalistic society, we forget that the adage “sink or swim” doesn’t mean if we sink we fail and if we swim we succeed — it means that nothing will change the fact we will be devoured by the shark, but we can decide how difficult a meal we want to be.
Because of these views, my friends often joke that I’m a communist. Well, I’m not a communist. I’m not a communist because communism doesn’t exist. Not in the way it was intended anyway. True communism, like true capitalism, looks good on paper, but is not possible when you add human beings to the equation. Any organized societal system dependent on the higher natures of humankind to work will eventually be corrupted and destroyed by our natural greed, self-interest, and ignorance. This is why I can’t be a capitalist either. Capitalism doesn’t exist. True capitalism can’t exist at our current level of humanity. We just aren’t mature enough for it. However, capitalism would be a beautiful thing if there was some way to magically make everyone practice it with compassion, balance, and cooperation.
It’s too bad there are so few corporations even interested in this type of “compassionate” capitalism, let alone willing to apply it to their business model. Some will try. Most won’t. But none will survive longer than an experiment until we can change our base natures.
If you work for a corporation, you most likely work for one that relies on an obtuse philosophy of short-sighted gains, knee-jerk reactions, and erosion; rather than big picture improvement, rational initiative, and evolution. You can tell which kind you work for quite easily. If your company keeps increasing your obligations and responsibilities without reasonable compensation each time, you work for an erosive company. It explains the added workload as being the natural change of your job description. It erodes your enthusiasm and sense of fair-play until you decide to quit. Then it hires someone cheaper to fill your space and starts the cycle all over again.
On the other hand, a compassionate, evolutionary corporation builds on what works best, explores new ideas, and reasonably rewards its employees to maintain a motivated, industrious, and happy workforce. Fairness is a priority and it sees growth as a benefit only if that growth has life in it for the people that really drive it — the employees instead of the stockholders. In essence, true capitalism only works when it nurtures socialist corporations.
But like I said, these corporations are rare. Most are just hungry sharks gobbling up everything they can before shitting it out and looking for more of the same.
Unfortunately, some people may confuse my criticism of capitalism as reason enough to question my patriotism. These are the same people who still think the US is a capitalistic country. It’s not. I’m not sure if it ever was. But I’m damned sure it isn’t one now. Today it is a corporatocracy, ruled by corporations for corporate interests, and it has been that way for as long as I can remember.
But I’m still a patriot. Though I don’t always agree with what it does, I still love my country. I still sing the national anthem.
However, that doesn’t mean I should stop questioning who is actually shooting those bombs bursting in the air or letting the sharks out in the water below.