We are all currently living under the system of capitalism that has significantly failed in sustaining the needs of the vast majority of us. Under it, a small number of individuals are in control of the economic resources and money of their respective nations. They have managed to accumulate huge amounts of wealth and power, manipulating labor and other factors of production in a way that keeps wages low and their own profits high. For them, profit will always come before other humans and the environment. In this essay, I explore how the theory of capitalism applied to and influences my working life.
Many of us who make up the vast majority of the workforce are of the opinion that life could be much better. We are fed up with the being lied to and given fake promises by successive governments, as well as the arrogance and greed of company chief executive officers who give themselves huge pay rises while the rest of us have a hard time making ends meet. We are aware that we can run our workplaces, communities and lives much better than CEOs, bureaucrats, and politicians. All of us desire varied and well-paying employment opportunities, decent housing as well as safe and secure communities, which are things that are actually beneficial to use. We want an end to inequality, exploitation, injustice, environmental destruction, armed conflicts, and poverty witnessed all over the world. The best world is one in which individuals and freedoms are valued while greed and violence are frowned upon. At the moment, the manner in which the world works does not seem to deliver what the ordinary citizens want.
While at work, I am forced to compete with my workmates for lesser wages just so that we can afford to buy necessities. Consequently, the CEOs and shareholders of the organizations we work for and purchase their products rake in profits for themselves. We are expected to work long hours without much say over working conditions or pay, no control over what is produced, no security, and no influence what the company does with the profits. Since we have no security in the community for in case we get sick, get retrenched or become old, we have to save as much money as possible. A majority of the work is tedious and not of much use, and is meant to manufacture unneeded products waste resources while causing pollution. Often, such products cannot be afforded by ordinary citizens like us, meaning that we have to work extremely hard just to afford them.
Capitalism in its initial stages required an ever expanding market to accommodate the products made, as well as a constant supply of cheap labor. Such a situation triggered the discovery of the so-called new world and the doing away of its original habits. It also led to colonialism, two world wars, and endless armed conflicts. Since the world market was limited in a way, capitalism was forced to step up exploitation in a way that created the need for consumer goods. This occurrence was what caused social class struggles. One thing that presented a threat to capital was joint action by producers. Thus, there had to be intense divisions between mental and manual labor, skilled and unskilled labors, and between jobs perceived to be for men and those for women. Consequently, the effects of capitalism are meant to keep us in check while the actual production process was to make ordinary people work even harder. This was evident in policies such as Taylors and Fordism whereby all labor duties were broken down into component duties, with working hours being strictly controlled.
Community production now dominates the entire society given that how useful an item is will always be proportional to its price. The aim of capitalistic production is to create surplus value and then convert part of the value into capital. Often, it is wrongly portrayed as a mode of consumption, or as a way for capitalists to enjoy their hard work. The main commodity for capitalist production is manpower as it is what brings about all surplus value, profits and the subsequent accumulation of wealth. Considering that it is not possible to separate an individuals labor from their body, it is as if human beings are purchased and sold in the labor marketplace. Manpower is then used to produce goods and services, into which they place a segment of themselves. Right from the beginning, laborers cannot afford to purchase back their total production since their labor power is bought at prevailing market rates.
As the capitalist means of production becomes even more sophisticated, the process of offering manpower becomes more specialized. The cumulative social capital, i.e. the societys wealth expands out of all proportion to increments in salaries and wages. Laborers are categorized according to skills and trades, and tend to work on just a minor segment of the finished product. Goods are no longer manufactured in single factories as provided is stretched to different nations and continents. Consequently, alienation becomes prevalent since the only way that human being can connect with one another is through the marketplace.
For capitalism to occur, there must be a centralized authority-in this case the state. In the absence of this, the infrastructure needed for production such as road networks, railways and canals would not be in existence. The role of the state structure is to distinguish between capitalist contradictions of competition versus monopoly. It also enforces the mode of production via various means such as incorporation and the law. Hence, at times it seems as if the state is offering an alternative between state control of the economy or the market. All in all, the truth is that such an alternative does not exist since the problem lies with the economy. When future generations look back, they will not understand how human beings allowed themselves to be downtrodden for such a long time. After all, it is their fault that they engaged in various destructive day-to-day activities while collectively allowing capitalism to thrive.
There are trade unions in place whose duty is to protect and promote the rights of workers. However, the dont seem to do something about the real injustice; the fact that the minority few are allowed to own expansive business organizations, make all the business decisions, and keep all profits to themselves. By playing the role of a go-between for the labor force and employers, the major established trade unions merely make the capitalist system operate even more smoothly.
If we the workers try to find another way of surviving outside this system, we will either end up poverty-stricken, homeless or in jail. Under the system of capitalism, the amount of freedom that people have and control over their lives is determined by background, amount of education, money, and social class. If someone is poor, female, a member of a minority community, working class or a foreigner, then he or she is likely to have lesser education and employment opportunities. Also, such an individual is more likely to end up in prison, and in the long term, go to an early grave when compared to those from more privileged and wealthier backgrounds.
In many parts of the world, people are being evicted from their ancestral lands to pave way for mining and logging companies. With their land taken away, communities and societies have no alternative but to work for global organizations in order to survive, while those companies rake in huge profits. They have to do it so that they can afford the necessities that could once manage to make for themselves. Often, the wealth belonging to many first-world nations is gotten from exploiting the labor, resources and citizens of third world countries. The little wealth possessed by these developing nations is used to pay debts to developed nations and international lending institutions such as the IMF and the World Bank, together with high interest rates. All this is bearing in mind that the education and health systems of these countries are either in a pathetic shape or have collapsed. Such a situation is unacceptable and is definitely not the way to run society whereby the small minority lives opulent and luxurious lives while the vast majority of us are hungry and poverty-stricken.
It is the politicians, who are an embodiment of capitalism, that decide on legislation. Most of the laws they come up with are all about protection of private property as opposed to protecting ordinary citizens. The police force is there to enforce the legislations irrespective of how unfair, discriminatory or oppressive they are. Correction facilities are full to the brim, and these politicians still want to construct even more. No proof suggests that serving jail times actually prevent crime as a matter of fact it is the exact opposite. Most ex-cons leave the penal systems worse than they went in. In addition, prisons cause damage to families and the community in general, and are not known to minimize anti-social behavior.
People from the middle and upper class who commit crimes often get away with lighter sentences. Also, white individuals get lesser prison sentences when compared to people of color. Females get custodial sentences when they commit pettier offenses than males. Often, jail times for crimes against property are harsher than for worse offenses such as murder and rape. Crime and violence in general is as a result of poverty, desperation and rampant inequalities. All these are the product of an environment in which a tiny number of individuals amass wealth and power at the expense of the ordinary people.
In conclusion, it can be seen how capitalism operates and the impact it has on the lives of ordinary people. It may not be possible to deal with it and the injustices associated with it at once. However, we can start somewhere by coming together and making changes in our own lives and areas of residence. Its about time we began deciding things for ourselves and taking charge of own destiny.
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