The Pyramid Of Capitalism, 1911

Some perspective displayed in a poster created approximately a century ago by The Industrial Worker. The tiered wedding cake of society, if you will. Via Retronaut:


65 Comments on "The Pyramid Of Capitalism, 1911"

  1. DeepCough | Mar 16, 2012 at 2:30 pm |

    Hey, at the center of every civilization is a pyramid.

  2. Just as true now as it was then.

  3. Hadrian999 | Mar 16, 2012 at 3:18 pm |

    the great problem with modern capitalism is that capitalism by it’s nature must always expand outward to find new places and people to exploit to feed the machine, we have no place to move into that isn’t already being exploited , now the capitalists must feed on each other

    • Harryheck | Mar 17, 2012 at 8:13 pm |

       we’re approaching that all-out scenario, but we’re not “totally” there, yet.  the new venue for exploitation is biological life.  eventually, they’ll be able to directly exploit the creation of existence.  think of how insane that ontological condition would be for reification.  however, i did say we’re not “totally” there, yet.  you’re right about the feeding frenzy, but that frenzy has always existed since capitalism’s commodity form became the “universal” (began with “competition” on the basic level).  i would say that the “derivatives” market is the new mutation that pushes toward the “cancer stage” you envision, but they’re not eating each other–or themselves–completely, yet.

    • So capitalists aren’t people? How rude.

    • I say,  eat capitalism

  4. Pyramid schemes are also known as Ponzi schemes.

    • Mcclaydavid | Mar 16, 2012 at 5:23 pm |

      Oh so Amway and Avon are Ponzi schemes?  Doesn’t your statement support the statement that social security is a Ponzi scheme?  It certainly is.  A legal Ponzi scheme that’s going broke.

      • Hadrian999 | Mar 16, 2012 at 8:42 pm |

         there is no doubt that social security is a ponzi scheme, it’s not going broke yet, output is projected to exceed input in 2023

      • Social Security is not going broke.  You need to do a little research before making such ignorant statements.  Google it.

    • Knock it Down | Mar 17, 2012 at 12:17 pm |

       Pyramid schemes are also illegal. Take that to court. We need less pyramid people and more circle people. I always knew society was a scam. Equality, hahhahahahaha, ya right.

  5. Mcclaydavid | Mar 16, 2012 at 5:20 pm |

    Interestingly, The Industrial Worker was the newspaper of the Communist Party in France, I think.  We all know which economic system is still around.  Maybe because it works, y’think?  One reason our gas prices are so high is we’re having to compete with other economies that are starting to model themselve on ours. Namely, India and China.  Oh, by the way, have you noticed that wages are going up in both those countries, which is causing many of their jobs that us capitalists sent over there to come back here?

    • Ignorance is bliss. If you can stop masturbating to Fox News long enough to respond I’d appreciate it.

    • Antediluvian | Mar 16, 2012 at 6:13 pm |

      Ron Paul 2012 amirite guise?

      • Jin The Ninja | Mar 16, 2012 at 6:47 pm |

        uh no, he’s a capitalist. so no. regulatory capitalism doesn’t work, but at least attempts to mitigate the social and environmental damage done by capitalist values. with nothing in place and ONLY capitalism to rely on-  you might as well turn the whitehouse into a replica of luxor.

    • Veganspooge | Mar 16, 2012 at 6:43 pm |

      Sorry bud, the Industrial Worker was (and still is) the mouthpiece for the IWW. From Chicago. And never affiliated with any political party, ever. I pretty much stopped reading your comment after the first sentence due to the huge (and easily google-able) factual error.

    • Hadrian999 | Mar 16, 2012 at 7:24 pm |

       it works for some, it works very well for some but it has problems, it doesn’t account for externalized costs which are hitting the world pretty hard now and without new places to be colonized and exploited there are no income streams to sustain the beast, when that happens the capitalists turn on each other, look up the run up to ww1, resources are getting tight that and increasing populaion and no place to expand to, it doesn’t paint a rosy picture of the future especially in a do whatever you want as long as u get paid capitalist system.

      • Don’t rich countries tend to have a shrinking population as they don’t need to raise many kids in hopes that some will return the care?

        • Hadrian999 | Mar 17, 2012 at 9:05 pm |

          yes, affluent tend to have smaller fertility rates but they seem to make up for it with immigration(which I am not against) but the world is a system, you can’t look at individual countries, if one has a booming economy and another has a terrible economy you will have problems, remember a few years ago when corn prices spiked because corn was being used to make ethanol in the usa, it caused food riots in mexico. if some countries live in their means but others don’t there will be spill over

          • Immigration is merely relocation of people, not growth of global population. Also, the significance of a new use for food is not clear:
            “That food prices went up at the same time fuel prices went up is not
            surprising and should not be entirely blamed on biofuels. Energy costs
            are a significant cost for fertilizer, farming, and food distribution. Also, China and other countries have had significant increases in their imports as their economies have grown.[47][48] Sugar is one of the main feedstocks for ethanol and prices are down from 2 years ago.[49][50] Part of the food price increase for international food commodities measured in US dollars is due to the dollar being devalued.[51] Protectionism is also an important contributor to price increases.[52] 36% of world grain goes as fodder to feed animals, rather than people.[53]”

          • Hadrian999 | Mar 19, 2012 at 11:22 am |

             immigration isn’t world growth but it does offset the usual fertility decline of affluent societies, the bit about about u.s. uses effecting prices around the world was just an illistration of the interconnectedness of economies and why you have to look at the world as a system and not rely on the colonial method of raping other areas in order to enrich your own

          • Colonial rape is not inherent to capitalism, unless you think international business equals rape.

            [insert redundant remark about interconnectedness to get thumbs up from skimmers]

          • Jin The Ninja | Mar 19, 2012 at 2:29 pm |

             ‘colonial rape’ is not inherently ‘capitalist’ i suppose if colonialism only exists as a by product of cultural influence (like sinification the ‘sino-sphere’ of central, east and s.e. asia) – however when colonialism becomes a policy of the state and has an economic motive (becoming imperialism) then yes- it is `capitalist` in nature.

            however i think (and i don`t want to speak for) hadrian is referring to the act of colonialism as an act of displacement, resource exploitation, and cultural assimilation all of which are violent in the context of colonisation.

          • “when colonialism becomes a policy of the state”

            Lol. States have nothing to do with capitalism.

          • Jin The Ninja | Mar 20, 2012 at 11:40 am |

            nation-states. and economic policy. i’m going to give you the benefit of the doubt here and assume you’re not stupid.

          • Resorting to ad-hominem already?

            National socialists were quite fond of using tax money to invade other countries.

          • Jin The Ninja | Mar 20, 2012 at 12:08 pm |

            what are you taking about? anti imperialism/post colonialism is inherently anti fascist, and you said “states have nothing to do with capitalism’ when it was very clear i meant “nation-states’ as a political concept, you don’t think you started the patronising behaviour?

          • Hadrian999 | Mar 20, 2012 at 12:45 pm |

             capitalism depends on nation states doing the heavy lifting from American marines doing the enforcing for the united fruit company during the banana wars to Britain destroying imperial china during the opium wars and ushering in the Unequal treaties period. up to modern day military and espionage operations to pacify “markets” in the middle east and south America

          • Some (nation-)state politicians can be manipulated, but they wield more power than the average Joe who sells his own labor and is forced to give up part of that, i.e. he’s enslaved by the (nation-)state politicians to pay for the everlasting crusades.
            If people want to pay for things, they will, but to force them takes (government) thugs.

          • Hadrian999 | Mar 19, 2012 at 3:34 pm |

            the entire history of capitalism has been tied to colonial rape, it is necessary for “western” lifestyles. compare the economic foot print model of western societies to 3rd world nations. the only way to maintain western lifestyles is to keep the developing world at a low standard of living in colonial economies, there are simply not enough resources to continue along current trends in population growth and consumption

          • Jin The Ninja | Mar 19, 2012 at 5:30 pm |

            completely true.

          • So when i traded my marbles for other marbles back in grade school, i was committing colonial rape?

          • Jin The Ninja | Mar 20, 2012 at 12:06 pm |

            the ENTIRE foundation of western society was/is built by resource exploitation and ‘outsourced’ labour from the third/colonial world. the british empire would not have existed if it wasn’t for slaves, sugar, and tropical land. where were your marbles made? how was the glass produced? what were the effects on the environment of their production? labour conditions?

          • Well gee, i don’t know. Do you know those things about your childhood trinkets?

          • Jin The Ninja | Mar 20, 2012 at 12:23 pm |

            yes. they all said ‘made in taiwan/china/HK/phillipines/bangladesh.’ sort of hard to ignore the label printed on the back.

          • Now that you mention it, i remember mine saying “Made in Taiwan” as well.

            Would Taiwan be better off now if we hadn’t purchased those marbles?

          • Jin The Ninja | Mar 20, 2012 at 1:05 pm |

            wouldn’t it be better if they had said ‘made in america”? wouldn’t it have been better if toy companies didn’t need to outsource to places with poor labour practices?

            it’s easy to play that game. i have one hundred other ‘what ifs’

            the point is, capitalism inherently uses exploitation as it’s basis. why live in inequality and a degrading environment, when there could something so much better?

          • Hadrian999 | Mar 20, 2012 at 12:39 pm |

             People get too defensive when talking about subjects, devizing a way forward that is sustainable in the modern world is more important than laying blame or defending the past. the nature of the modern world is different and requires different methods.

          • You’re right, campfires are dirty and inefficient; we should all sing a post-post-modern version of Kumbaya around our personal thorium reactors.

    • No I don’t think.  Not when 2 billion people live on less than $2 a day and many on less than that.  The system sticks around because the left has failed and there is a dismal lack of imagination, plus the capitalist control the military, the police and the courts (judges) and the executive and legislative.  It is not hard to see why it persists, even in the face of a global collapse of the ecosystem.

      wages are going up because the workers are restless, not because the capitalist masters have decided to be more generous. Power gives up nothing willingly or charitably.

    • sonicbphuct | Mar 18, 2012 at 10:52 am |

       um, in a word, no. We don’t all know what system is still around. If you define capitalism as post 1970s Reganomics, then yes, that is around, however, if you define it as anti-Monarchical economic control, then no, that’s not around anymore – it died in 1791 with the first defense of a government issued Patent.

      Further, your oil prices are going up (e.g. gas prices) because of competition for the World Reserve Currency (namely between the US Dollar and the EU Euro).

      not to imply that I don’t believe your words, but … i’m curious which outsourced job (or, off-shored if you’re more modern) has returned to the US.

  6. Capitalism is a System.
    The people that populate the different levels are merely placeholders.
    (Somebody had to be Steve Jobs and that dude played the part.)

    The System directs their actions.
    If you want to break the hold of that System;
    you will have to acknowledge the hegemony of Capitalism
    and begin to withdraw from it as best as you can.
    (barter, trade, share, recycle, repair, grow yer own)

    • Harryheck | Mar 17, 2012 at 8:18 pm |

       one cannot completely deject themselves from capitalist “hegemony” (though, being that gramsci was a hack, i prefer the lukacsian “totalizing reification”).  that is what makes it a totality.  however, one can peer through the veil of reification whenever the systemic contradictions arise, but this perspective of the really existing reality cannot be the total consciousness at all times (less the “hegemony”/reified totality”) wouldn’t be “hegemonic” nor “totalizing.”  furthermore, as marcuse figured out in the 1970s, withdrawal is not the proper strategic option.  withdrawal disconnects from the system.  the dialectic is not an attack from an external “other,” but instead derives from the contradictions within the system.  the only way to realize the contradictions and the irrationalism that dominates the system is by existing within.  be aware of the contradictions, and don’t run away from them.  don’t embrace or conform, but realize it is a passing historical phase and the varying degrees of objectification cannot persist forever.

      • fair enough
        but to me, withdrawing or remaining “in not of”
        is effectively the same act of non-participation

        intellectual theories about it are nice
        but actions speak louder than words

    • Intrinsic ownership is not capitalism, then?

      • the concept of ownership is intrinsic to Capitalism
        but “ownership” doesn’t really exist
        it’s just a concept, an idea
        e.g: in the Capitalist System you “own” your home
        but in reality, this ownership is subject to mortgages, taxes and politics
        personally i have found it better not “own” anything
        because the things ended-up owning me

      • Simiantongue | Mar 18, 2012 at 4:49 am |

        Intrinsic-  of or relating to the essential nature of a thing.Ownership- the state or fact of being an owner.

        I’ve recognize the term intrinsic value but not intrinsic ownership. I’ve heard the term intrinsic value in discussions of morality, finance and the theory of value. But not intrinsic ownership. Could you extrapolate on that idea of intrinsic ownership for me?

        • The OP suggested bartering as an alternative to capitalism, so his idea of capitalism must be the nominal credit system since most Western money isn’t backed by physical goods anymore.

  7. Ignorant, totally ignores class mobility, free elections, and opportunity  to move or to invest.  I know many people who’ve been up AND down that cake.

    • Jin The Ninja | Mar 16, 2012 at 11:55 pm |

      electoral politics is an instrument of capitalism`s dominance of social structures. “opportunity to move or invest…” the notion of nation states and neo liberal economics which requires only a free movement of capital but passports for people negates that entire statement.

    • Hadrian999 | Mar 17, 2012 at 12:12 am |

       claiming free elections exist is totally ignorant

      • Jin The Ninja | Mar 17, 2012 at 1:01 am |

         as is free movement of people. it’s one of those compound lies i guess.

        • Hadrian999 | Mar 17, 2012 at 1:17 am |

           some people rise above their station, there are bill gates and steve jobs types but the stratified class system endures, the vast majority must remain powerless because there  are only so many seats at the table, those that do rise quickly embrace their new station in life and become monsters willingly. look at jobs he has a rep of being some great visionary and humanitarian but in the end he became a fascist control freak. a person here and there may rise by the machine doesn’t change

  8. I love that this was printed in my home town of Cleveland, Ohio.

  9. Gee, where is the Federal Reserve at on this? And the JP Morgan and Goldman Sachs employees puppeting the king? And the MSM propaganda? Oh that’s on a different illustration called Pyramid of Fascist System. How are we defining Capitalism again? Make sure it’s not synonymous with Debitism/Neo-Feudalism. 

  10. Hmm… the chart is pretty accurate!

  11. “You’re right, campfires are dirty and inefficient; we should all sing a
    post-post-modern version of Kumbaya around our personal thorium

    That straw man smells pretty desperate.

  12. Bryan Boru | Apr 13, 2012 at 12:45 pm |

    Same shit, different year……..

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