Saturday, September 2, 2017

Trump, and Capitalism's Reputation in the US

It appears that John Kelly may have had enough of Donald Trump already, after just 5 weeks as his Chief of Staff. Anonymous sources say that after a recent Trump meltdown directed at Kelly, Kelly told other White House staffers that he had never been spoken to that way in 35 years of service to the US, and that he didn't intend to put up with more of the same. So, that might mean that Kelly is about to resign, or that he's about to look Trump in the eye and tell him to shut his pie-hole. Which might get him fired.

Well, that's our Donald, isn't it? Just making friends wherever he goes. A lot of people are paying close attention to Trump's behavior as President, and asking themselves how in the world he managed to have a career as a businessman for so long before becoming President. I think that the answer may be that his career up until January of this year was as a pure capitalist.

Now, many people are capitalists, but few are pure capitalists, in the sense that making money is honestly the only thing they care about. Most of us care a lot about money, because we live in a capitalist system, which means that only those with a lot of money can afford to pay little attention to it -- and even those, if they pay little enough attention to it, may run out of it, meaning that they will be forced to pay as much attention to it as us poor schlubs.

The thing is, though, very few of us care only about money. We may care quite a lot about our friendships and relationships, or music, or animals, or painting, or food or wine or mechanical watches or sunsets or trees, or some combination of those things and/or many others, without consideration of financial ramifications. An expert on pino grigio or Mexican food may make a living through that expertise, but there's very little chance that they study the wine or the food only for the money. In fact, it's just about guaranteed that they love the food or the wine passionately and would spend a lot of time on it even if they lost money on it rather than making money. Many people, probably most people, aren't lucky enough to be able to make a living at something they love, but they still spend a lot of time and energy on things that don't earn them money. Friends and family are a very common example, and then there all the other things I just listed off, and many more. It's very rare to come across someone who really only cares about making money.

And yet, the only thing rewarded by capitalism is a focus on money and money alone. Capitalism is only concerned with quantity. Quality -- of life, or of anything else -- is not capitalism's concern. We think of our society as a capitalist society, and yet almost all of us spend a lot of time behaving in ways which are contrary to the principles of capitalism -- excuse me, I should say say: contrary to the principle of capitalism, because there's only one: get yours, and then got more, and then repeat, and never stop.

Anybody who has thought about this a lot, and realized that capitalism by itself comes very short of fulfilling all of our wishes and ambitions, is already to some degree a socialist, whether he or she suffers from the typical American ignorance of what socialism is and horror of the term "socialism," or not. I was thinking here about pino grigio and Mexican food because, on the Food Network and the Cooking Channel, I've been struck by one particular sort of bio among highly-regarded chefs: they used to work in finance, and they gave that up to make the plunge into trying to cook for a living. Those people are a clear example of rejecting capitalism for socialism, at least partially. If they were really all about money, they'd just go back to their former jobs, done. They've realized -- even if they haven't realized it consciously, because they're constantly bombarded by American pro-capitalist myths in advertising and many other places -- that there's much more to life than how big your stack is.

And then there are horrible assholes like Donald Trump, and the AIDS medication douchebag, who really, truly care about very little except getting theirs, and then getting more, and repeat. This makes them horrible people, and, at the same time, very efficient capitalists, just by virtue of being distracted by so very little else except getting theirs, and then getting some more, and then repeat. The AIDS medication douchebag is so repulsively smug, even as he has been convicted of fraud and awaits sentencing, because he knows that all he has done is what our society says you should do: get yours, etc. He doesn't realize to what extent our society -- in most cases subconsciously -- rejects capitalism, because we -- usually subconsciously -- realize that pure capitalism results in people like our current President and the AIDS medication douchebag. People whom we reject with horror.

And so, I would suggest that those who are flabbergasted by the fact that Trump was able to survive for so long as a businessman, before beginning his spectacular failure as a politician, think more about money and capitalism, think more about what they are, and how horribly overrated they are in the US, how we give capitalism and horrible capitalist douchebags far too much power.

At least read some Marx before continuing to react with horror to what you think Marxism and socialism is. At least get some clue about what it is you're reacting against. For about half of the 68 years of the Federal Republic of Germany so far, the Chancellor, the Bundeskanzler, the closest equivalent they have to the US President, has been a member of the Social Democratic Party, the SPD. The SPD is the oldest currently-active political party in Germany, going back under different names to the 1860's. Karl Marx was a member. The SPD isn't very different from the Democratic Party in the US. They're somewhat more conscious of the nature of capitalism.

Perhaps the horrible catastrophe of the Trump administration will cause Americans in general to become more conscious of such things, and more critical of capitalism on a conscious level.

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