Manuel Valenzuela: The Plunge into the Abyss (3)
The System: Capitalism and its Role in American
Society’s Plunge into the Abyss. Part III of III.
Poisonous Tentacles of Capitalism and Symptoms of a Disease:
Pill Popping for Happiness
By Manuel Valenzuela
Contributing Editor Axis Of Logic
Apr 28, 2004, 20:01
The Poisonous Tentacles of Capitalism
A living poison embedded inside us fills our lungs and brains, clogging our lifestyles and rendering us unable to stop its progression through our impotent minds. We have been contaminated by the demons of capitalism, and throughout our existence its permutations seep out of our porous bodies to wreak havoc on our lives and those of our loved ones. Unable to excrete it from our lives, the poison grows over time, from our childhood until death, making us feeble creatures under control of the tentacles of capitalism. We seem powerless to stop its thriving energy inside us, allowing it to command and control, influence and exploit. The mighty tentacles have us wrapped in their powerful grip, sapping away our verve and plunging us down further into the dark abyss.
Living in the most prosperous nation in the history of the world has made us immune to the troubles afflicting billions of human beings around the globe. Our lands, from Pacific to Atlantic Oceans, have for too long been immersed in the apathetic trivialities and ingrained ignorance engendered by our nation’s excessiveness, lavish wealth, comforts and capitalistic philosophies. America’s superfluous lifestyle has flourished while that of the developing nations we exploit and plunder diminishes. As a result, we have become detached from a planet that is on the retreat, mostly due to our voracious appetite for land and labor exploitation.
A plague of locusts we have become, devouring Earth’s natural resources, polluting its air and exploiting its human inhabitants. Our appetite for material goods is insatiable, our quench for property and possessions suicidal. The fault, however, lays not at our feet but at a capitalistic society that conditions, almost from birth, the dogma of perpetual consumption. For no reason we shop, for no purpose we purchase. American society has been programmed to work ceaseless hours only to spend and return our wages to our corporate masters.
A materialistic society like ours thrives on the consumption patterns of its citizenry. When we give back our wages the economy prospers, when we hold back it flounders. Witness the months after 9/11 when our own government pleaded for us to return to our consumerist, materialistic ways. Make no mistake, our conditioned minds will, at the drop of a hat, sound of a jingle and view of a fictional perfection impulsively and seemingly without analysis or logic consume for products that make no sense owning.
Ours is a society that feeds off our consumerist tendencies, giving rise to an exploitation of our wallets and our insatiable hunger to riddle ourselves deeper into debt. Credit cards give the misguided psychological impression that a purchase does not cost money, since no cash transaction takes place, thereby becoming the greatest ploy creditors have ever invented to exploit less sophisticated shoppers. As a result, Americans are bombarded with credit cards, making the US a nation up to its nose in personal debt.
Yet when society compels us to consume, debt is but an afterthought to fulfilling our materialistic dreams. Unfortunately, our nirvana is born in sin as billions of world citizens, enslaved and exploited in labor, environment and wages, produce the products we most want, sold to us cheaply and conveniently. It is their counties’ lands, also, that are exploited as their forests, jungles, waterways, fauna and air are eviscerated at our expense. The tentacles of capitalism indeed ensnarl the world as well as America.
The poisonous tentacles of capitalism absorb themselves into the caste system, creating ever-worsening levels of inequality and as a result becoming a purveyor of crime. Millions of low-wage laborers are born thanks to the purposeful inequality in education that is despicable at best and criminal at worst. Schools are poorly financed in poor neighborhoods, offering appalling resources and levels of education, thereby exacerbating poverty as the many who pass through their doors will be unable to escape the environment and the caste fate has placed them in. The horrendous level of education in so many American schools is creating a caste of millions, growing daily, that have no option but to become the exploited slaves of the capitalist and corporatist elite.
Unable to escape their predicament thanks to the same government created to help them, millions must survive by working low-wage jobs, seeking welfare or turning to crime. Higher education is an impossibility, thanks to morbid education; escape from their malignant neighborhood futile, thanks to poverty and inequality. Trapped in the reservations they were born into, millions become unemployed as the level of jobs available is outnumbered by the number of despondent citizens. Without doing the math, it is easy to see that scores will live lives unemployed and many, productive, bored, energetic, materialistic and pressured, will out of necessity turn to crime. Combined with the ignorance lack of education breeds, a life of crime will invariably lead to a life associate with the criminal justice system, resulting in the hugely disproportionate numbers of minorities incarcerated today.
To the ones born in such dire environments that are nothing more than assembly lines harvesting slaves, furthered by both government and capitalists, a vicious circle inevitably becomes a living hell, unable to escape, unable to get something other than a token education and unable to find meaningful employment. For those lucky few who can muster work, a life living under the meager salaries provided them only serves to contain a further decline into the abyss of the American capitalistic system.
For the children of millions, the same cycle that befell their parents will be repeated, year after year, knowing that a system of, by and for the people is contributing to their slow and gradual decay. Neighborhoods full of ability and talent, devoid of opportunity and hope.
Hidden behind the misery and reality lies a sinister indifference by those who govern and those who employ to preclude the escape of millions from the caste and reservation destiny has maliciously placed them in. This purposeful ignorance of the plight of millions is to be expected, however, as corporations and governments feed off of the same human beings they are helping to condemn. Capitalism needs to exploit, it needs to disembowel, for inequality, injustice and poverty allows it to prosper and enrich its masters.
Love of the almighty dollar has altered our way of living. It has made us tireless workers that have sacrificed our personal time for the benefit of the companies we work for. Granted, slaving ourselves at work might also mean professional satisfaction, yet at whose expense? The most innocent among us are the ones suffering and being severely affected by our willingness to sacrifice family and the vital attention children need in order to satisfy our thirst for power, promotion or the almighty dollar. It is our ceaseless pursuit of money, for those not living paycheck to paycheck, that is threatening the basic fabric of our lives, family and society.
It is greed, selfishness and materialism that are destroying American society, helping it implode in spite of its potential for greatness. Always busy or on the go, parents are leaving the rearing of children either to the television or strangers. The television has become parent, teacher, role model and babysitter to our children. The attention, instruction and discipline humans have historically afforded their progeny is disappearing at an alarming rate, becoming an endangered parameter of society. This inattention that capitalism has created is transforming children’s development patterns, altering their psychology and emotional makeup.
The necessity of parents in a child’s life has, during the course of human existence, facilitated their entry into society and civilization. The young learn, see and hear everything, their brain basically a giant sponge absorbing the world around them. They learn behaviors, discipline, how to function in human societies. They must attach to their parents, feeling the love and affection engendered in the relationship between parent and child, thereby ensuring proper brain, emotional and educational development.
Today, more and more, this is not happening. As parents sacrifice their traditional roles in child rearing for lives devoted to work, children are growing up by themselves, educated by the corporate media, unable to fully attach to a parent. The debacle in public education today can be partially blamed on parents who have failed to educate, discipline and properly rear their children. Also, the long hours a child devotes to the television is having profound effects on their development, as their immature brains are conditioned to fantasy, subjected to excessive imagery and visual/audio stimulation, and as their developing, naïve and innocent minds are brainwashed by corporations in order to create lifetime loyal customers.
It is these factors, combined with other external conditions that are transforming our children’s brains and ways of thinking. Attention deficit disorder in children has now reached epidemic proportions, and, when combined with less parental supervision, is creating severe emotional and developmental problems. In order to control this troubling manifestation, a child is subjected to Ritalin, Valium or other pharmaceutical drugs. These pills are robbing children of their childhoods, numbing their creativity, curiosity and intelligence while repressing normal development. The effects on their adulthood can be drastic. Yet when pills create the solution teachers and parents desire selfishness replaces common sense and logic. It is the children who suffer; it is their childhood lost and adulthood condemned.
The poisonous tentacles of capitalism are omnipresent, affecting us in every way, reaching into every home, becoming an equal opportunity discriminator, afraid of no neighborhood and ready to continue its nefarious control over American society. The examples above are but a few of a vast multitude surrounding our lives, eroding the very fabric of a heterogeneous society. The past has erred, the present continues the vicious circle and it is America’s future that will suffer the gravest of consequences.
Symptoms of a Disease: Pill Popping for Happiness
A fundamental disease has risen from the massive roots of our capitalistic society. From the underground world of hidden truths has emerged a tangible extension of debilitating symptoms that should signal a radical shift in the way our society has evolved over the last fifty years. It has manifested itself, wanting to be made known, sending us a warning over the couse we have taken before our way of life plunges forever into the abyss. A people, lacking inner happiness, robbed of once beaming energy, manifesting increased levels of depression and having everything yet seeking escape through wanting more is a nation calling out for help.
A citizenry that more and more is depending on pharmaceutical pills to alleviate stresses, depression, unhappiness and low levels of energy is a society in trouble. America is undergoing an enormous increase in the number of people who are depressed and unhappy. Millions now resort to one pill or another for a temporary escape that allows demons to subside and frustrations to be shelved away.
Yet the relief is temporary as the chemical effects of the pill subside, releasing from prison the demons that return to once more haunt an ever growing number of Americans. Trouble this way comes when the call for help is millions of prescriptions to help contain the demons unleashed by a capitalistic society that is affecting hundreds of millions of citizens. Turbulent winds of concern are fast approaching, wanting to warn about our self-defeating ways that are eroding American minds, bodies and spirits.
Something is amiss in this great nation, with increased depression, unhappiness and ever-growing consternation. The symptoms of a disease are readily apparent, capitalism and its exploiting tendencies are altering our psychologies, behaviors and lifestyles. Pill popping for happiness is a giant hint that the system is not having the intended consequences we all thought existed.
Happiness is the greatest virtue to strive for, depression the greatest vice to avoid. When a society and people cannot be made to enjoy life and discover perpetual happiness then the mechanisms of the system responsible for such failures need to be replaced. For hundreds of millions capitalism has been a system imposed on them, from the moment of first gasps until the time of last rights. We have known nothing different. A chance to see if something better exists has been denied us. Surely a better way exists, encompassing sustainable development, not egregious consumerism, equality, not castes, humanity, not selfishness and communalism, not individualism.
Too many people are left behind, denied a chance of ever developing their natural abilities and talents. Too many people become exploitable energies, not much different than beasts of burden. For too long the gap between rich and poor has existed, ever-widening, ever-corrosive to the fabric of society. Humanity’s history has been defined by slave and master, exploiter and exploited, rich and poor. The oppression and subjugation of human beings only creates violence, frustrations, anger and a society devoid of love and peace.
Capitalism is the culprit. It grabs onto our raw primitive emotions, squeezing every ounce of vice available. Our selfishness emerges, our greed perseveres and the humanity we are capable of having vanishes into the dustbins of lost opportunity. The many are being devoured by the few, as has happened through time immemorial, and we are losing out on a multitude of talent and ability that can have a positive affect on us all. Einstein’s are being lost; Mozart’s never see the light of day and in the meantime, ability is hidden while opportunity denied.
Like women, who are finally allowed to prosper and show us the wonderment of their incredible talents, the billions who are forever stuck in their misery and dehumanization must be allowed to escape their perpetual castes. Capitalism only serves to create and expand them. It only serves to divide, to ruin and to enrich the very few. Pill popping for happiness should never be the end result of a system of living that does not serve the many and only contributes to the plunging of a society into the abyss.
Something inherently wrong exists when a symptom of a disease is the unhappiness, depression and pill addiction to the millions who seek to escape the devastatingly psychological effects unleashed by the workings of capitalism. This system destroys dreams, squashes hopes, condemns billions and erodes the very foundations of human existence.
When a child’s idealist dreams of a future job must be scrapped in adulthood as a result of the perceived need to associate money with happiness a wrong exists that must be alleviated. How many of us fantasized in childhood of someday becoming that which we most cherished, only to have our dream dashed when in adulthood we realized that in order to live comfortably money had to be made? Only in jobs that did not suit our talents, likes, abilities, predispositions and dreams could we live the American Dream.
Only by exploiting others could our perceived happiness be assured. Only by selling our souls to the demons of the capitalists could we thrive. Yet inside us remain the last glimmers of hope and the last vestiges of childhood dreams, trying desperately to escape the dungeon they have been chained to for our entire lives. In these dreams lies happiness and fulfillment. In these dreams lies the strength to forever flush down the toilet the pills that fill us with imaginary, temporary and artificial escapes from a reality our minds want desperately to escape.
Capitalism, the demon of modern man is called, meticulously robbing us all of happiness, independence and freedom, evaporating our energies, transforming our lives and slowly plunging us down into the dark confines of the abyss.
© Copyright 2004 by AxisofLogic.com
Manuel Valenzuela, 29, is social critic and commentator, activist, writer and author of Echoes in the Wind, a novel to be published in Spring of 2004. His articles appear weekly on axisoflogic.com where he is also contributing editor. Mr. Valenzuela welcomes comments and can be reached at email@example.com
Read Other Articles By Manuel Valenzuela: Manuel Valenzuela Archive