A Capitalist Against Corporate Greed

Lower ManhattanCritics of the Occupy Wall Street movement often point to activists’ use of iPhones and laptops in their fight against corporate greed and control of America. As Natalie W of Capricious Yet Constant points out, we sometimes must use the tools of the system to dismantle it. We recognize the irony of biting the hand that feeds, but the lifestyle choices anyone makes do not diminish their involvement in the movement, or the movement itself:

I own an Apple iPhone.

I have a MacBook that I take everywhere with me.

I drink Starbucks when my body needs a caffeine fix.

I eat McDonald’s but prefer Corner Bakery when I’m hungry and away from home.

I smoke Camel cigarettes.

I am a proud member of Occupy Chicago. I am protesting in solidarity with Occupy Wall Street and the 1000-plus occupied cities in the US for economic equality for all people, for an elimination of corporate influence over government regulation, and against corporate greed.

The goods and services I use to facilitate my lifestyle are not mutually exclusive to my social activism. In fact, the situation is quite opposite.

I require nicotine, caffeine and food to fuel this body to take the streets chanting with my brothers and sisters in action. Step by step, mile by magnificent mile until our throats are scratched, our voices cracking from calling to passersby, the buildings, the very fabric of society.

“People over profits! Occupy Chicago!”

and

“Show me what democracy looks like!” “THIS is what democracy looks like!”

I would feed this machine with locally grown, organic, fair trade sustenance but there are no farmer’s markets on the corner of LaSalle and Jackson. However, I gratefully fill my body with others’ kindness: gifts of donuts, bagels, crackers, pizza, and boxes of coffee, gulped down quickly in between breaths of conversation with fellow Occupiers on how to improve our world.

Read the full post at Capricious Yet Constant

, , , , , , , ,

  • Hadrian999

    the current state of capitalism is unsustainable, it is like taking a fruit orchard and chopping it down and selling as firewood  for short term profits, it will kill us in the long run because we are destroying our ability to produce in the long run. capitalists with any sense of the big picture should see this

    • Liam_McGonagle

      I think this is what Marx was getting at in his critiques of captialism–it’s rendered unsustainable in the long run by its fundamenal internal contradiction of being a socially sanctioned resource allocation paradigm based on the anti-social notion of greed.  Where Marx probably went wrong was in underestimating just how resilient captitalism can be when business losss are socialized.

      Unless you’re emphasizing the hazardous ecological impacts.  Which is true, and maybe even more important than disasterously unsustainable social character of capitalism.

      I just kind of agree with what I see as the premise of this article, that it’s not wrong to enjoy some of the things produced by the captialist system and want to see resulting profits shared more equitably.  It’s not impossible to have some of both.  The US didn’t always have such monsterous lineworker/CEO disparities.

      • DeepCough

        Capitalism is only bad when every major industry tries to be the “Invisible Hand” governing the market by artificially inflating supply and inducing demand, which throws the whole damn cycle out of whack and brings it to a screeching halt, and that causes people to do what conservatives can’t stand–protest.

      • Hadrian999

        there is nothing wrong with enjoying the fruit of your work but it seems to me that many have gotten so greedy that they are destroying the future for the sake of profit which becomes essentially meaningless after a certain point. say you have 50,000,000 dollars, would your life be any better if you could grow that to 100,000,000 at some point the excess wealth becomes useless to you and is almost a prison.

        • Jin The Ninja

          but a really BIG prison, with lots of shiny toys.

        • E.B. Wolf

          If you look at wealth like most people do, the $50 vs $100 million point works. But to the apex players of today’s system money is a tool, a weapon, and a source of power. 

          If you merely think of wealth as a means to assure you and you’re family’s personal comfort and security, then yea, a few million is more than enough. 

          But if you view wealth as a means to bend the world to your will, then you can never have enough.

          • Liam_McGonagle

            Yeah.  Ideally there would be two separate systems of capital:  1.) Material captial, the kind you need to buy sh*t; 2.) Social capital, the kind that wins you the respect and esteem of your fellows.

            Our problem as a society is that we totally conflate the two.  Natural enough–there is an certain irreducable level of physical want.  But as you say, the human being is programmed to continually want more of something.

            It’s just a shame that most of us are so thoughtless and insecure as to assume without reflection or question that that “something” must necessarily be material capita.

          • 60k of Happiness

            I read somewhere scientists discovered the perfect wage to make someone happy.  It was around $60k a year.  In post after post I’m always seeing liberals argue against how much money is too much, or how power corrupts.  I don’t think it really matters, as long as everyone agrees what the bottom should be.  In a perfect world, it shouldn’t be homelessness.  It would be 60k dollars.  After that point, scientists said happiness was a diminishing return.  I believe it was a TED talk where I saw this.  In any case, long story short, who cares how many millionaires and billionaires we have.  You can’t fight to stop them, but the world we live in should fight to allow everyone to have 60k.  Those who want to go beyond that point are given our blessing, but we should never live in a world where we take the earnings completely away from those as our country is now doing by continuing to lay off so many.  This country has stooped so low in it’s treatment of our own citizens.   We are the shame of the world because we are better than this and yet we are arguing over pennies when it comes to balancing the health of our socialcapitalists system.

          • E.B. Wolf

            I’ve read similar research studies where there was no definite dollar amount, since that would vary widely depending on where you live, but it essentially states that money equals happiness only to the point that your basic needs (good food, a decent home, medical care, transportation) are met. 

            From my personal position, I could see money increasing my happiness up to the point that I never had to do anything that I didn’t want to. It certainly wouldn’t take 50 million bucks to achieve that since I could care less what the latest designer fashions are and you couldn’t pay me to drink Crystal. 

            But having enough dough not to worry about getting up and going to a 60k/year job that I don’t like would definitely make me happier.

    • quartz99

      I label this “penny smart, dollar stupid.” I think it goes part and parcel with the way everyone’s attention spans keep getting shorter and shorter (not a causal relationship necessarily, but I do think they’re related). No one can see long term anymore. There’s so much demand for immediate gratification that even those capable of looking at the long view are pressured to forget it in the name of short term goals.

      A good, small, practical example that everyone can follow (and that I’ve actually seen in action at a couple different employers) is paper towels in the bathroom at a business. There are two types of paper towel. One is five cents a sheet, one is ten. Seems like an easy choice, you choose the five cent towels and they cost half as much as buying the ten cent ones right? Well, no. The five cent towels are _much_ thinner than the ten cent towels so you have to use three of them to dry your hands instead of one of the ten cent towels, meaning fifteen cents per use, not five. Then no one can understand why the bill for paper towels went up, even though a little thought on the matter makes it obvious. People looking only at money are often blinded to non-monetary consequences, but those consequences invariably have a financial impact.

  • Hadrian999

    the current state of capitalism is unsustainable, it is like poisoning a well  for short term profits but it will kill us in the long run because we are destroying our ability to produce in the long run. capitalists with any sense of the big picture should see this

  • roverts myth

    great article, thanks for this

    but dude mcdonalds?! yikes

  • roverts myth

    great article, thanks for this

    but dude mcdonalds?! yikes

  • Anonymous

    I think this is what Marx was getting at in his critiques of captialism–it’s rendered unsustainable in the long run by its fundamenal internal contradiction of being a socially sanctioned resource allocation paradigm based on the anti-social notion of greed.  Where Marx probably went wrong was in underestimating just how resilient captitalism can be when business losss are socialized.

    Unless you’re emphasizing the hazardous ecological impacts.  Which is true, and maybe even more important than disasterously unsustainable social character of capitalism.

    I just kind of agree with what I see as the premise of this article, that it’s not wrong to enjoy some of the things produced by the captialist system and want to see resulting profits shared more equitably.  It’s not impossible to have some of both.  The US didn’t always have such monsterous lineworker/CEO disparities.

  • DeepCough

    Capitalism is only bad when every major industry tries to be the “Invisible Hand” governing the market by artificially inflating supply and inducing demand, which throws the whole damn cycle out of whack and brings it to a screeching halt, and that causes people to do what conservatives can’t stand–protest.

  • Hadrian999

    there is nothing wrong with enjoying the fruit of your work but it seems to me that many have gotten so greedy that they are destroying the future for the sake of profit which becomes essentially meaningless after a certain point. say you have 50,000,000 dollars, would your life be any better if you could grow that to 100,000,000 at some point the excess wealth becomes useless to you and is almost a prison.

  • Jin The Ninja

    I can appreciate the sentiment, but literally BUYING into the beast of corporate power (whatever your position on capitalism happens to be) is fundamentally illogical.

    and there is a direct correlation between mental and physical health. that would infer mcdick’s to be a no buy zone.

    Ethics (fair trade being the least of it’s problems) would dictate starbucks being null and void.

    Apple is…whatever probably the most grey since all technologies are produced in an unsustainable and ethically challenged way. although personally, the sight of the logo makes me vomit slightly in my mouth.

  • Anonymous

    I can appreciate the sentiment, but literally BUYING into the beast of corporate power (whatever your position on capitalism happens to be) is fundamentally illogical.

    and there is a direct correlation between mental and physical health. that would infer mcdick’s to be a no buy zone.

    Ethics (fair trade being the least of it’s problems) would dictate starbucks being null and void.

    Apple is…whatever probably the most grey since all technologies are produced in an unsustainable and ethically challenged way. although personally, the sight of the logo makes me vomit slightly in my mouth.

  • Anonymous

    but a really BIG prison, with lots of shiny toys.

  • E.B. Wolf

    If you look at wealth like most people do, the $50 vs $100 million point works. But to the apex players of today’s system money is a tool, a weapon, and a source of power. 

    If you merely think of wealth as a means to assure you and you’re family’s personal comfort and security, then yea, a few million is more than enough. 

    But if you view wealth as a means to bend the world to your will, then you can never have enough.

  • Mr Willow

    Well, of course everyöne has branded smartphones and computers, which they use to connect to others and spread messages through now-corporate controlled sites like Facebook. Of course they eat (at least occasionally) at franchise food chains like McDonald’s and Subway.

    Because where else would they go? What other products would they use? Through what other processes? 

    Branded products, and franchise food, and social-networking sites are the only avenues that they may be tread, because all the corporate entities crushed all other alternatives. That’s the entire purpose of people’s outrage!

    Did the critics expect the protesters to revive the (sadly lost) art of letter writing, where you have to wait at least a week to know where to meet? No, they use Twitter because it offers instant coördination of marches, or gatherings, or whatever other manner of organisation that must occur. 

    Did the critics expect them to wait for the media to show video of people being rounded up and peppered sprayed or report of the instances of brutality committed by the police? Of course not, as they know the media would completely ignore the movement if they themselves weren’t making it known through things like Facebook and Tumblr, and putting the videos of the acts in the public sphere instantly with YouTube. 

    There is no such thing as a ‘generic’ brand of electronic device. Every box has Apple or Microsoft or Blackberry or Sony or Samsung or Lenovo or HTC (et al) plastered across it, and you can’t get these things at Bill’s Electronics because the place he once had has been driven out of business by Best Buy and Target and Walmart and Radioshack. And all those places—along with once fantastic bookshops, which were before them closed by Borders and Barnes & Noble—are slowly being toppled by things like Amazon and Overstock. 

    And despite some rather valiant efforts of local food growers, farmers markets (in some places at least) are slowly being pushed out completely by grocery chains (in the south generally its places like Publix and Winn-Dixie) or even worse restaurant franchises like Chilis and TGI Fridays or Pizza Hut or Olive Garden or Outback—or even worse than that ubiquitous fast food chains like McDonald’s and Burger King. 

    And some may look at that list and say, “Wow, but just look at all the competition.” But there isn’t real competition because in most cases three or four of the above brands are all owned by a single corporate entity.  

    And this sort of consolidation is exactly why I am at the very least suspicious of capitalism—if not outright in opposition to it—because it would be one thing if there were a couple dozen shops in every city catering to peoples individual wants and needs—two or three coffee houses a few restaurants and diners, a few electronic stores etc. etc.—and if the manufacturers were still owned by people whose purpose of continuing the company was to provide a quality product, or (more ideally) because they simply find joy in making things. But now, money and the lust of it has trumped everything. You now aren’t allowed to make something that doesn’t break in ten years or is obsolete in five months. You can’t operate anything as if people were even involved, because the need—and really the necessity—for higher profits from the last quarter means you can’t even exercise basic forms of compassion. Everything has become mechanised in not only their methods of assembling their products but the manner by which people are treated. 

    And it all just seems that this is capitalism’s rational end, especially if it is left unfettered, which is how our politicians always envision it or explain it to the rest of us.

    • Jin The Ninja

      wow, amazing post!

      thank you!

    • quartz99

      Even if they turned back to letter writing and waiting for media and all that… all of that is still branded! Most paper has a watermark, all pens have a brand label, all big media are corporate and covered with their station or owner’s logo. If you wear clothes that you didn’t grow the sheep, shear them, weave the thread (on your own hand made loom) and sew the clothes, then just about every piece of your clothes will have a logo.

      The only people complaining about protestors using brand name items are the same people mistakenly branding Occupy as a socialist movement and demonstrating that they have no idea what the hell that means because in a truly socialist society, there are still brands! Workers own the means of production. That doesn’t mean the government has to or that there’s no competition. It means that all the workers in the company own that company!

  • Mr Willow

    Well, of course everyöne has branded smartphones and computers, which they use to connect to others and spread messages through now-corporate controlled sites like Facebook. Of course they eat (at least occasionally) at franchise food chains like McDonald’s and Subway.

    Because where else would they go? What other products would they use? Through what other processes? 

    Branded products, and franchise food, and social-networking sites are the only avenues that they may be tread, because all the corporate entities crushed all other alternatives. That’s the entire purpose of people’s outrage!

    Did the critics expect the protesters to revive the (sadly lost) art of letter writing, where you have to wait at least a week to know where to meet? No, they use Twitter because it offers instant coördination of marches, or gatherings, or whatever other manner of organisation that must occur. 

    Did the critics expect them to wait for the media to show video of people being rounded up and peppered sprayed or report of the instances of brutality committed by the police? Of course not, as they know the media would completely ignore the movement if they themselves weren’t making it known through things like Facebook and Tumblr, and putting the videos of the acts in the public sphere instantly with YouTube. 

    There is no such thing as a ‘generic’ brand of electronic device. Every box has Apple or Microsoft or Blackberry or Sony or Samsung or Lenovo or HTC (et al) plastered across it, and you can’t get these things at Bill’s Electronics because the place he once had has been driven out of business by Best Buy and Target and Walmart and Radioshack. And all those places—along with once fantastic bookshops, which were before them closed by Borders and Barnes & Noble—are slowly being toppled by things like Amazon and Overstock. 

    And despite some rather valiant efforts of local food growers, farmers markets (in some places at least) are slowly being pushed out completely by grocery chains (in the south generally its places like Publix and Winn-Dixie) or even worse restaurant franchises like Chilis and TGI Fridays or Pizza Hut or Olive Garden or Outback—or even worse than that ubiquitous fast food chains like McDonald’s and Burger King. 

    And some may look at that list and say, “Wow, but just look at all the competition.” But there isn’t real competition because in most cases three or four of the above brands are all owned by a single corporate entity.  

    And this sort of consolidation is exactly why I am at the very least suspicious of capitalism—if not outright in opposition to it—because it would be one thing if there were a couple dozen shops in every city catering to peoples individual wants and needs—two or three coffee houses a few restaurants and diners, a few electronic stores etc. etc.—and if the manufacturers were still owned by people whose purpose of continuing the company was to provide a quality product, or (more ideally) because they simply find joy in making thing. But now, money and the lust of it has trumped everything. You now aren’t allowed to make something that doesn’t break in ten years or is obsolete in five months. You can’t operate anything as if people were even involved, because the need—and really the necessity—for higher profits from the last quarter means you can’t even exercise basic forms of compassion. Everything has become mechanised in not only their methods of assembling their products but the manner by which people are treated. 

    And it all just seems that this is capitalism’s rational end, especially if it is left unfettered, which is how our politicians always envision it or explain it to the rest of us.

  • Anonymous

    wow, amazing post!

    thank you!

  • PoorPuppet

    This world is a house of cards on a bed of sand. Just waiting for it to all fall apart, so we can rebuild. The pattern is always the same, rise and fall, rise and fall. From the ashes, a new world will arise, then fall. Duality is a bitch.

  • PoorPuppet

    This world is a house of cards on a bed of sand. Just waiting for it to all fall apart, so we can rebuild. The pattern is always the same, rise and fall, rise and fall. From the ashes, a new world will arise, then fall. Duality is a bitch.

  • Cascas

    Where is AnarchyWolf/Wanooski when you need him.

    • Jin The Ninja

      I think Anarchy’s new name is Anti-Citizen now.

  • Cascas

    Where is AnarchyWolf/Wanooski when you need him.

  • Anonymous

    Even if they turned back to letter writing and waiting for media and all that… all of that is still branded! Most paper has a watermark, all pens have a brand label, all big media are corporate and covered with their station or owner’s logo. If you wear clothes that you didn’t grow the sheep, shear them, weave the thread (on your own hand made loom) and sew the clothes, then just about every piece of your clothes will have a logo.

    The only people complaining about protestors using brand name items are the same people mistakenly branding Occupy as a socialist movement and demonstrating that they have no idea what the hell that means because in a truly socialist society, there are still brands! Workers own the means of production. That doesn’t mean the government has to or that there’s no competition. It means that all the workers in the company own that company!

  • Anonymous

    I label this “penny smart, dollar stupid.” I think it goes part and parcel with the way everyone’s attention spans keep getting shorter and shorter (not a causal relationship necessarily, but I do think they’re related). No one can see long term anymore. There’s so much demand for immediate gratification that even those capable of looking at the long view are pressured to forget it in the name of short term goals.

    A good, small, practical example that everyone can follow (and that I’ve actually seen in action at a couple different employers) is paper towels in the bathroom at a business. There are two types of paper towel. One is five cents a sheet, one is ten. Seems like an easy choice, you choose the five cent towels and they cost half as much as buying the ten cent ones right? Well, no. The five cent towels are _much_ thinner than the ten cent towels so you have to use three of them to dry your hands instead of one of the ten cent towels, meaning fifteen cents per use, not five. Then no one can understand why the bill for paper towels went up, even though a little thought on the matter makes it obvious. People looking only at money are often blinded to non-monetary consequences, but those consequences invariably have a financial impact.

  • Anonymous

    I think Anarchy’s new name is Anti-Citizen now.

  • Anonymous

    Yeah.  Ideally there would be two separate systems of capital:  1.) Material captial, the kind you need to buy sh*t; 2.) Social capital, the kind that wins you the respect and esteem of your fellows.

    Our problem as a society is that we totally conflate the two.  Natural enough–there is an certain irreducable level of physical want.  But as you say, the human being is programmed to continually want more of something.

    It’s just a shame that most of us are so thoughtless and insecure as to assume without reflection or question that that “something” must necessarily be material capita.

  • 60k of Happiness

    I read somewhere scientists discovered the perfect wage to make someone happy.  It was around $60k a year.  In post after post I’m always seeing liberals argue against how much money is too much, or how power corrupts.  I don’t think it really matters, as long as everyone agrees what the bottom should be.  In a perfect world, it shouldn’t be homelessness.  It would be 60k dollars.  After that point, scientists said happiness was a diminishing return.  I believe it was a TED talk where I saw this.  In any case, long story short, who cares how many millionaires and billionaires we have.  You can’t fight to stop them, but the world we live in should fight to allow everyone to have 60k.  Those who want to go beyond that point are given our blessing, but we should never live in a world where we take the earnings completely away from those as our country is now doing by continuing to lay off so many.  This country has stooped so low in it’s treatment of our own citizens.   We are the shame of the world because we are better than this and yet we are arguing over pennies when it comes to balancing the health of our socialcapitalists system.

  • E.B. Wolf

    I’ve read similar research studies where there was no definite dollar amount, since that would vary widely depending on where you live, but it essentially states that money equals happiness only to the point that your basic needs (good food, a decent home, medical care, transportation) are met. 

    From my personal position, I could see money increasing my happiness up to the point that I never had to do anything that I didn’t want to. It certainly wouldn’t take 50 million bucks to achieve that since I could care less what the latest designer fashions are and you couldn’t pay me to drink Crystal. 

    But having enough dough not to worry about getting up and going to a 60k/year job that I don’t like would definitely make me happier.

  • E.B. Wolf

    I’ve read similar research studies where there was no definite dollar amount, since that would vary widely depending on where you live, but it essentially states that money equals happiness only to the point that your basic needs (good food, a decent home, medical care, transportation) are met. 

    From my personal position, I could see money increasing my happiness up to the point that I never had to do anything that I didn’t want to. It certainly wouldn’t take 50 million bucks to achieve that since I could care less what the latest designer fashions are and you couldn’t pay me to drink Crystal. 

    But having enough dough not to worry about getting up and going to a 60k/year job that I don’t like would definitely make me happier.