by Ulitka Krasnyy

A man I know once said, “Capitalism was a good seed that became corrupted over time.” In this essay I am going to examine whether markets (the first seed of capitalism) and money (the second seed of capitalism) are truly good seeds. Are they even neutral seeds? Capitalism hasn’t become corrupted over time, it is just finally reaping the fruits of its labors. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit. If something becomes corrupted, it must have had qualities that lent itself towards corruption. Gold can never tarnish, iron always rusts. All time occurs at once, therefore the monolith capitalism has become lies coded into the DNA of its tiny seeds: markets and money.

Markets, by their very nature, foster dishonesty. People are selfish by nature, and if the only way to acquire their means of subsistence is the selling and trading of goods they will most likely either lie about the quality of their wares or engage in unequal trades. The need for markets was created by production and ownership of objects, and the need for a universal means of exchange was created by markets. If one person makes unequal trades, or if bartering standards cannot be agreed upon, or perhaps there is too much of one thing, a currency is necessary. Money is the unforeseen consequence of the market.

Markets have also created the need to sell oneself. If you have no wares to sell or trade in the market for means of substinence, your body is the last frontier or, in many cases, your children’s bodies. Prostitution, getting sold into slavery, blood donation, Indian women selling their hair all stem from the market. In a sense, the market desanctifies the body. Ultimately the market desanctifies everything. All objects, beings, and bodies become commodities to be sold or traded.

Those who wish to free the market confuse variety of selection with freedom. Being able to chose between twenty competing brands of toothpaste does not erase any of the problems created by the market. If the market is free to ravage humanity, which it already is, competition in the market would still inevitably end in monopoly. If we are subordinating ourselves to an imaginary system, markets, we are not free. Albert Camus said that real freedom is a submission to a value1. The market has no values except to expand itself. Hence, if we free the market, we are all slaves.

The end result of the market is that it absorbs every aspect of our lives. Its framework becomes all-encompassing, and we are no longer able to operate outside of it. Community can no longer exist without the market.

Money, a result of the market, fosters greed. Greed is ultimately a fear based emotion; one takes more than one needs in order to be sure to have enough for oneself. Money, since it does not spoil, is far easier to stockpile and hoard than food, clothes, livestock etc. Money becomes a protective cushion preventing hardships. The more money you have, the more insulated you are from its ravages.

Now money rules every aspect of our lives. We are completely unable to live without money, and living with it means either to work or to be born rich. In our modern age work is not something that directly benefits the worker, we are not creating anything for ourselves. All that work consists of now is selling one’s time for money. Therefore, we are all commodities of the market, unless we are useless to it, in which case we are pushed aside to rot.

The argument for capitalism would say that it gives people freedom of movement within the class structure. The problem is that if you wish to raise yourself up, you must surrender to money and the market. Capitalism is a huge, hideous machine grinding human lives through its jaws so it can keep growing. I would have to say that money and the market were bad seeds and capitalism is a truly monstrous tree. The workings of its systems bring out the worst qualities of human nature and crush the best ones under its gold-plated jack boots.

To end on a hopeful note, we are all equal whether we like it or not (unfortunately most people do not like it). We are all born, and we all die. True justice comes when the rich man lays on his death bed realizing he has lived in vain, tormented by the blood on his hands. Those who live truthfully die with grace and courage. The only thing we can do in our lives is to participate in the system as little as possible, respect the Earth and its creatures, and help our fellow travelers on this strange, twisted road of life.

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