How Capitalism Exploits Philosophy.

Today, Saturday the 16th of April, 2011, the British station – Radio4 – at around 1300hrs (BST), broadcast a programme hosted by David Dimbleby.  Part of the broadcast presented an old recording, apparently from 1950 Britain, the speaker of which gave forth the view that there are two books in the world that have inspired great evil,  They are:

1)     Mein Kampf (My Struggle) By Adolf Hitler.

2)     Das Kapital (The Capital) By Karl Marx.

The speaker went on to explain that both of these books have created tyrannical political systems that plunged the democratic free world into a catastrophic war, and that one of them – Das Kapital – through the auspices of the Soviet Union, still exercises its evil intent on around one half of the population of humanity!  With absolutely no sense of irony whatsoever, the speaker presents these two books, and the two very different political regimes associated with them, as one and the same, and it must said, to the general agreement of his audience.  How extraordinary that a manual for race-hate and totalitarian rule by a small elite (Mein Kampf), could be compared with a philosophical tract (Das Kapital) that explores the exploitative nature of capitalist society, and which, though those observations, considers the capitalist system to be both unjust and undemocratic.  Whereas the work of Hitler advocates a thoroughly racist ideology from start to finish, the work of Karl Marx defines racism as a bourgeois shame, and the nationalism it inspires as a means to keep the ordinary peoples of the world apart, so that they can not unite to pursue their own best class interests.

A vital question is this; why did the speaker in question feel that he was living in a society that was free from both of these broad ideologies?  The British Labour Party of 1945 had applied a Socialist model to post-WWIIBritain, bringing in the Welfare System, the National Health Service and Universally Free Education for all.  On the other side of the ideological coin, and despiteBritain’s contribution to the defeat of Nazism, there has always been a simmering resentment toward immigrants, and people from the former empire.  The conclusion must be thatBritainis not free of these two ideologies in the broad sense, in many ways, the left and right of the political spectrum is at the heart of the very fabric ofUKsociety.  What then, was this particular speaker doing?  A capitalist system, working from the first principle of ruthless exploitation, creates a small, privileged elite, and a large mass of exploited people.  Those who inhabit this elitist bubble, seldom if ever attribute their wealth and status to the idea that although they much as individuals, it is the ordinary masses that have had much ‘collectively’ taken from them, and have been, as a result, politically, culturally and economically plunged into a permanent state of poverty.  Although the elite creates the false notion that it is through their own ‘hard work’ that has secured their abundance, they also assert, in a vicious manner, that the masses are ‘poor’, because they do not work hard enough.  The truth is that no amount of hard work will address the economic balance, but merely serves to perpetuate the imbalance in wealth and political power.   Hitler did not care about this imbalance, whilst Marx asserted that for this imbalance to be corrected, a radical redistribution of wealth is required, and, as a consequence, the false elitist bubbles of the capitalist system burst.

The speaker in question inhabits one of these elitest bubbles.  As a consequence, he experiences a certain ‘good life’, whereby he is relatively free to do as he pleases due to his wealth and social standing.  He is not directly dependent upon a vicious capitalist system that exploits the masses and keeps them in their place, because he is not one of the masses.   Being in the elitest group, it is true to say that whilst continuously benefiting from the exploitative system, the exploitation he suffers is minimal.   As a result, he is free to imbue his social living space with any philosophical attribute he wishes.  It is a social fiction with no bearing in reality.  He does not say that his social elitism is due to the effects of a vicious capitalist system, but rather attributes the relative freedom he experiences as being the product of ‘liberalism’, ‘democracy’ and ‘free will’.  Listening to his self-righteous speech, one would be mistaken for assuming that the speaker believes that he is living in a mythologicalAthens, if it were not for the philosophical absurdity he represents.  Socrates would spend ten minutes or so examining the premise of his argument, and probably an hour deconstructing it!  This kind of social commentary allows the passive audience to reaffirm their respective social standings.  The elitists feel secure in their elitism, whilst the masses have their poor self-image reinforced – and a ruthless capitalist system continues unhindered.

Although many may agree that Hitler was a thoroughly despicable person, the speaker, no doubt, chooses to associate his idealism (Nazism), with the intellectual output of Karl Marx.  Why should this be so?  The two thought systems could not be more different.  Of course, to associate the writings of Marx with those of Hitler – particularly in 1950, when WWII was still fresh in people’s minds – essentially creates a natural revulsion toward Marx and his ideas.  TheSoviet Unionis not credited with its vital part in the destruction of Nazism – nor are its 20 million dead respected for their sacrifice.  The speaker’s motive appears to be that of trying to ‘hide’ and ‘obscure’ the works of Marx behind a screen of Nazi nastiness and public antipathy.  This is because the speaker knows that out of the two works that he associates (without too much thought or effort on his part), it is only the work of Karl Marx that fully comprehends and exposes the capitalist system for the ruthless economic construct that it is.  Marx threatens the elitist bubble that the speaker inhabits, and is therefore singled out for harsh treatment in the public eye.

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