Green Island Backgrounders - outside-the-box thinking

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Owning a small business does not make you a capitalist ...

by Dave Patterson, October 2011

(based on a comment in response to other comments on my article Democratic Revolution, now or never, as published on Vivelecanada)Aug 12/2011

One of the basic memes that has been indoctrinated almost universally in Canada, that is central to the land of unreality most people live in today, is that because somebody owns a small business, they are therefore a capitalist, and a collection of small businesses is thus the heart and proof of a capitalist country.

When thought about a bit, with a bit of understanding what 'capitalism' actually is, it can easily be understood that this is simply not true. Capitalism is something completely different, something much, much bigger, and much, much, MUCH less benign, than a collection of small businesses, which have existed as long as humans have been performing different kinds of labour as their part in making a community work, and exchanging their goods or services for the goods and services of others.

The thing to understand about Capitalism, which is one of the main things gatekept in the mainstream media, and the 'new' 'business friendly' education system, is that, at its very root, and basically by definition, a system based on exploiting - or stealing from, to put it more bluntly - ordinary workers, through a process of taking a lot of people who need work and don't have many options - many of them former small self-employed people - and gathering them together under one roof, mass producing some product or service, paying the workers some minimal wage, and claiming the 'excess profits' as the property of the factory owner. This process began big-time in industrial age England, as steam power and electricity and steel enabled large factories, and the enterprising few of the time (that is, those with no scruples about enslaving and/or stealing from others to improve their own situation, we've had them with us forever in one form or another) decided they could make a lot of money by getting rid, for instance, of all the small weavers, putting them in an assembly line, and etc. The 'enclosure' movement was also carried out during this time, to ensure that people had to work somewhere - no more 'open' land for homesteading type things. The 'excess' wealth thus acquired by the 'owner of production' is then called 'capital', and is *biiiigggg* money, the kind of money that can build new factories, buy politicians and newspapers-tv networks, corrupt foreign governments (local too of course), manipulate currencies, and etc.

A small business making a small profit does not qualify, in either way - paying a worker to stock shelves is not somehow stealing their "excess" production, and a thousand dollars in a personal bank account is not 'capital'.

This whole idea of making people believe that their small business is capitalist, and therefore capitalism is good because they are hard-working good guys, is one of the great capitalist lies, or strategies - hiding their evil behind normal people, and using their control of the media to convince normal small business people *they* are 'capitalists yea!!' Obviously Joe-Janey Small Business is a good person, so capitalism is good, yea! (and by the way (always closely observable in the propaganda), them damned socialists - you know, like in Commie Russia OMG LOL!!!! - just want to have state control of YOUR business, and make YOU a worker slave - and who wants that? Your choice is Joe Small Business Capitalist, like in good ol Canada here, or Joe Stalin's Russia of poverty-stricken serfs, or North Korean robot-citizens - Go for Capitalism, baby, we're Free and Rich and Democratic!!! Given what is going on in the world today, and the last 30 years of solid backwards-marching in Canada and other western capitalist 'democracies', the still-effectiveness of that propaganda is quite amazing - but very, very instructive.)

When standing back from the fray and looking at things with a bit of impartiality, of course, it can easily be seen that the capitalist sweat shop is not a great deal different, obviously, than the famed 'state farm' of communist Russia or similar places, except in Russia it was more of a state capitalism - instead of a small class of more or less independent predators calling themselves 'capitalists' owning their own factories and oppressing and exploiting the workers, we have a 'collective' of predators calling themselves 'communists' claiming to own all the businesses (and workers) in the country. Both groups control the 'official violence' of their countries to ensure the workers stay in their factories, and the press of their countries to make sure nothing of a revealing nature about what is really going on gets the public excited. As we know, the lives of the workers in the Dickensian factories, or the American mill towns of the late 1800s, or the Russian state farms, were not much different - nasty, short and brutal, basically, to borrow a phrase from an earlier writer. Modern sweatshops may be mainly located in 3rd world countries, but it's not any kind of secret they are mostly controlled by, and work for, western capitalists of one sort or another.

(a point to keep in mind - these exploiters have always, throughout history, had a great advantage even though smaller in numbers - the average person is an honest, non-violent sort, and the predator sees these as simply weaknesses to be exploited - the capitalist, to borrow an old joke, is ever the predator who brings the gun to the knife fight - it's not surprising they quickly get themselves in dominant positions, and then use violence and every other means they need to, to maintain that dominance - once you have the chains on, and there is someone with a gun watching you, it is very, very hard to get those chains off. And once most of the population is well indoctrinated with certain beliefs, it is very hard to get out of the fog, especially when the average person spends several hours a day in front of the television having that indoctrination reinforced.)

Of course, the fight against this exploitation, theft and wage-slavery has been underway since it first began. The 'totalitarian' rulers of communist Russia and similar places have been generally successful in containing these attempts, but the workers in the leading western democracies managed to make some advances over the years, in terms of demanding some various rights from the owners of 'production'. Of course, the 'owners of production', with their control of the money, have been able to fight back even more ably, using their wealth, and general unscrupulousness, to gain control of the media and governments, and thus their ability to control the propaganda which passes as 'news'.

Yes, there was a time following the crash of 29, the great depression, and the WWII, all capitalist-created disasters (or business opportunities, depending on your entrepreneurialship), the 50s and 60s, during which the people were really pissed off at those capitalist-created things that had caused such massive tragedy for 'the little folk', and a little more aware, and voted for some progressive politicians and held their feet to the fire and paid a bit of attention to what was going on in their country and world, and some advances were made along the lines of having the 'we own EVERYTHING!' capitalists back off a bit, and allow some social program type things to give just a tiny bit of security to the average people - but by the 70s the older people who had personally experienced the hardships caused by the capitalist excesses were dying off, and the younger people thinking the life their parents had caused to happen was great and not paying attention much (following capitalist propaganda in their media, television and newspapers, creating, among other things, a culture glorifying half-witted youth and marginalising older people who could see some of what was going on), and the capitalists slowly but very deliberately moved back in to the governments, and since then it's been a great rollback of everything for 'the common person'. - with the added demonisation of the capitalist press that what happened in the 60s was 'socialism', and it failed!! - but look at the great life we capitalists have given you!! It's really perverse when you realise what is happening, this kind of lying, as the capitalists resisted every social advance ever made from the Dickensian mills to the current attempts of the last 30 years to create a new feudalism throughout the world - and yet they use their control of the media to get all the simpleminded tv watchers to believe that the modern society, with a reasonably prosperous middle class, was a capitalist invention, and we should all thank them for it!!! (- and of course never forget, we HATE those damned socialists, who just destroy everything the wonderful, big-hearted hard-working generous capitalists have produced! (Ayn Rand in 30 words or less). In reality, of course, what there remains of a decent society here was accomplished by 'we the people' as we tried to make a real 'democracy' happen, and fought every single step of the way, often very viciously, by the capitalists. (and the social democratic experiment of the 60s did not fail because it was a bad idea, or otherwise die - it was murdered through the hate of some and allowed by the apathy and stupidity of others - try to keep that straight .. - and think about 'democracy' while we're here - the capitalist structure in general is heirarchy, they hate democracy - whilst people who work together understand Democracy - so a 'capitalist' country is going to have, as much as capitalists can influence things (and with control of money and media, they have a LOT of influence) - a capitalist-type, top-down control government, and also one based on intimidation and violence as necessary - rather than a socialist government looking for negotiation, compromise and peace - think of the Pearson-Trudeau peacekeeping military, and the Harper 'bomb em into the stone age' version. For example. no, Pearson and Trudeau were not perfect - but they were a hell of a lot closer to 'democracy' than Mulroney, Chretien, Martin or Harper - the neocon leaders of the last couple of decades)

The modern citizen - educated in capitalist-controlled schools, experiencing capitalist media propaganda every day, has no idea at all of history - but in the modern world, people are very, very susceptible to such thorough public opinion management - this goes back at least to Walter Lippman and Edward Bernays in the 1920s, and although there are quite a lot of people who understand what happened, and continues to happen, the great uneducated unwashed television-indoctrinated masses who get their info from the television or mainstream media, and even, sadly the last few years, the CBC radio, indoctrination maintenance for those who believe themselves to be 'progressive', still believe the lies about both capitalism and socialism they are told by the people who control both media and government. (thus the oft-noted apparent discrepancy of 'average people' voting for right-wing parties which continue to destroy the social programs like medicare that ease their lives, and shying away from parties that actually want to help them, as they have an inbred fear, amounting to blind completely irrational hatred often, of anything progressive the capitalist propagandists have labelled as 'socialists')

So now we have the somewhat bizarre (to someone who understands 'reality' as I have explained it above) situation of the capitalists having taken our country and world to the brink of disaster, stolen us blind and are going after whatever remaining crumbs they can get whilst creating their new feudalism - and the majority of the country still walking around like a whole band of zombies saying how wonderful capitalism is, and isn't it just so bad about them damned socialists who have destroyed everything!!! There's even a very far out group of nutcases who seem to believe what is going on today is a "socialist" plot to take over the world!!! Really.

Pointed example of how 'capitalism' behaves towards 'small business': for the last lot of years, 'big box' stores have been taking over the commerce of the country. These are not socialist operations. They are the very essence of topline capitalism, and worker exploitation of the many by the few, and massive theft of both real and social capital. And they force all or most small businesses within dozens of miles out of business, and re-employ a few of the former owners at starvation wages. And further take great amounts of local money out of the area, impoverishing everyone. And spend some of their profits corrupting local governments to give them tax breaks etc, and more on media telling everyone how great this is, and even necessary. It is quite obvious, to the un-indoctrinated, that the 'real' capitalists have nothing but scorn for small business owners, whom they see as just another brand of worker to be exploited. Sure they talk 'small business' up in the media as important, but actions have more veracity than words, a la Walmart et al.

Imagine, for some perspective, a social democracy - our banking system would not support this kind of thing for starters - a social-democratic banking system (creating money as a credit service not a debt-slavery scheme) would support worker-owned cooperatives, or collectives - we could still have a bigbox type operation, as they do have various advantages - but imagine the coop-mart owned by the local businessmen/women who have joined their businesses together, and also in a larger national organisation to create a large collective that can negotiate lower bulk prices - but then the profits stay local with the small business owners rather than being claimed by a small elite at the very top of the pyramid, somewhere out of the local community, and the local community is enriched, rather than impoverished. And such a worker cooperative would also be good for the world, as we would work on the principles of fair trade and democracy, rather than sweatshops and the dictators which enforce them locally. That is the kind of alternative I/we are talking about - something in every sense more empowering for the small businessperson, and citizen, and local communities, not less.

Better stop. But you cannot explain reality in the same few words of the Big Lie that is repeated and repeated and repeated endlessly, and becomes the top-of-brain meme of the tv-indoctrinated masses growing their hivebrain in service of the capitalist kingbees - but the choice is not between wonderful capitalism and terrible socialism, as everyone has been thoroughly indoctrinated to believe - it is between allowing a gang of very dangerous and predatory capitalists to continue stealing us blind, and lying about everything they are doing - or fighting for democracy here. Real democracy, not the current very false 'capitalist democracy', and not some socialist-Stalinist nightmare they have convinced you is the only alternative to their predation - but real democracy - getting these predators and criminals out of our government, and letting 'we the people' do what is good for we the people. The democracy Joe Small Business really wants, and should be fighting for, not supporting the ongoing oppression and actually fighting against his/her own interests.

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