Capitalism’s Process of Universal Commodification

The Marvel/Disney movie “Black Panther” is the latest example of an idea with anti-capitalist origins being co-opted for corporate commodification and profit, explains Lawrence Davidson in this analysis.

By Lawrence Davidson

Paradoxical Profit

Unless regulated, capitalism operates as a wide-open market system. If a demand exists or can be created and a profit made, that demand will be met. As a consequence, capitalism has the capacity to commercialize almost anything, including its detractors and even its enemies.

Fan art for Marvel’s “Black Panther” film (Flickr Lindsay Silveira)

Here are some examples:

Che Guevara, the iconic Marxist revolutionary. He was young and handsome when he served at the side of Fidel Castro during the Cuban Revolution in the 1950s. Today, most people outside of Cuba know of him only as an image on T-shirts, backpacks and posters. He has been immortalized at a profit by the economic system he despised.

Wall-E, a 2008 animated movie about an “adorable robot” left behind on earth after mankind abandons the planet. It seems that humans have reduced their home to a garbage heap and Wall-E (short for “Waste Allocation Load Lifter Earth-Class”) has the job of cleaning the place up. Ironically, the movie suggests to us the dangers of commercialism while still managing to gross $533.3 million worldwide. Half of that came from audiences in the U.S., the homeland of “shop till you drop.”

Apple’s “Think Different” sales campaign. This promotion of Apple products opens with the line, “Here is to the crazy ones.” This is followed by images of Einstein, Bob Dylan and Martin Luther King, among others – folks who, the commercial tells us, are “rebels and misfits and have no respect for the status quo.” Apple was promoting its groundbreaking computer products using the images of some people who really didn’t believe in a capitalist system. Nonetheless, this promotion campaign became iconic and probably can be said to have helped the company “change the world” – just not in the direction some of those “crazy ones” would have liked.

Graffiti Art.  There is a 2016 documentary film, Wall Writers: Graffiti In Its Innocence, that depicts the early days of graffiti art (1960s and 1970s) as a sometimes illegal wall writing phenomenon. It explains that the original “wall writers” were anonymous people seeking recognition basically among their own kind. There was no thought that this activity was giving rise to an art form and certainly not to the possibility that it could be a vehicle to riches. But the graffiti phenomenon exploded across the United States and soon spread to England. By1973 it was sufficiently in the public mind to be used as a successful movie title, “American Graffiti.” Soon after that (by the 1980s), some of the best graffiti had recognized artistic value and was integrated into the art market. Currently some of it is sold for millions of dollars.

— The Weather Underground is an on-line site that “provides local & long range weather forecasts, weather reports, maps & tropical weather conditions for locations worldwide.” But where does that name come from? It is taken from a radical anti-capitalist youth group known as the “Weathermen.” This group broke off from the Students for a Democratic Society (SDS), also a radical group, in 1970. After doing so the radical Weathermen declared war on the U.S. government.

It seems that both the meteorological Weathermen and the radical political Weathermen began at the University of Michigan. That is where the meteorologists first got their start in 1995, working with the university’s internet weather database. That is also where in 1970, the SDS split apart and the radical Weathermen Underground was founded. By the way, the split came about democratically through a vote of assembled members. I know. I was there (on the non-Weathermen side). Maybe some of the future meteorologists were there as well, and that is how they chose the name.

The Weather Underground forecasting organization is now owned by The Weather Company, which in turn is owned by IBM.

Black Panther – The Movie and the Party

Market capitalism will also seek to profit from aspects of culture – even those parts that are marginalized, for instance, African American culture and the concept of Black pride.

In 1971 we got the Shaft movies of the cool Black private eye who plays tough on the streets of New York City. This gave rise to a myriad other “blaxploitation” films. The Shaft productions mimicked White equivalents using Black actors and Black backdrops. They demonstrated that African Americans are part of a dominant culture which cannot be uniquely Black. In truth, it is a White culture that has been modified over time by its minority components: Black, Asian, Latin, Native American, etc. into a hybrid that is uniquely American.

I don’t want to be misunderstood here. African Americans can take great pride in their movies and other arts. Black actors, screenwriters, directors and producers are as competent as their White counterparts. However, they and their Black audience are still captive to that preexisting hybrid cultural canvas on which they, and other minorities, are led to play out their creativity.

Members of the Black Panther Party (Flickr
dubdem sound system)

This brings us to the latest, and perhaps most spectacular example of this dilemma, the Disney company’s movie Black Panther. I have two comments on this worldwide commercial success (the movie has grossed over a billion dollars).

— As with some of the examples given in the first part of this analysis, the movie exploits for profit an organization that was anti-capitalist. The giveaway is the title itself. The “Black Panther” is closely linked in cultural memory to an organization known as the Black Panther Party. This was a radical organization created in the 1960s to provide for the needs of poor Black neighborhoods (the group originated the idea of the school breakfast program) and to protect residents both from criminals and the police, who were viewed as racist occupiers. The Black Panther Party became the target of violent attacks by agents of the U.S. government and eventually destroyed.

— Having been rendered safe through its destruction, the Black Panther Party’s image could be reworked and then reintroduced back into the prevailing culture. The Disney movie does just this. This is not to say that the film does not have merit. Its depiction of strong Black women, Black scientists and technicians, and the able and successful Black civilization of Wakanda are inspiring. On the other hand, the savagery that is part of Wakana’s succession process is problematic.

Overall, the movie is formulaic. It is a familiar good vs. bad scenario.There is a not entirely unsympathetic arch-villain, minor bad guys who come around to be good guys, and competitive tension in the good-guy camp. We have gangsters, government agents and almost non-stop violence. Nothing particularly original here. Nor is there anything original, and certainly nothing radical, about the film’s answer to the problems of poor African Americans – an outreach center in a needy urban neighborhood. By the way, this “cinematically portrayed help effort” works primarily because of the fantasy that there is a Black superpower backing it up. When real Black Panthers tried the same sort of outreach in the 1960s, they were arrested and sometimes murdered.

It is worrisome that the enthusiasm for the movie is based on a fantasy that essentially makes the tragedy of the real-life Black Panthers disappear. As the culture war now being fought in the U.S. between often racist ultra-conservatives and besieged progressives shows, we need change in the real world. Fantasy can give you a momentary lift and sense of pride, but in the end the real world’s problems are still there.

In 1983, the Irish novelist Iris Murdoch remarked that “we live in a fantasy world, a world of illusion. The great task in life is to find reality.” Che Guevara, many graffiti artists, some of the “crazy ones” depicted in Apple’s “Think Different” campaign, the original radicals of the Weather Underground, and the members of the Black Panther Party, all knew what reality was. They wanted to change it without recourse to fantasy. And, each time their attempts were stymied by a system that judged human needs solely in terms of monetary profit. This is brilliantly demonstrated by the fact that the images of these enemies of the system have been re-presented to us as within the context of profitable fantasy. The process has been remarkably successful and remarkably lucrative. It is also depressing and, in terms of social progress, represents a road to nowhere.

Lawrence Davidson is a history professor at West Chester University in Pennsylvania. He is the author of Foreign Policy Inc.: Privatizing America’s National Interest; America’s Palestine: Popular and Official Perceptions from Balfour to Israeli Statehood; and Islamic Fundamentalism. He blogs at www.tothepointanalyses.com.

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52 comments for “Capitalism’s Process of Universal Commodification

  1. Kenny
    March 26, 2018 at 11:46 am

    I believe placing the blame of all this on capitalism is missing the mark. Money is a global thing and regardless of the ‘ism’, ‘ist’, or whatever they all fall on their knees to money.

  2. Nop
    March 26, 2018 at 11:23 am

    BTW progressivism may be “beseiged”, but it has also been captured by the likes of Obama and Clinton and similar functionaries, the velvet glove around an iron fist of established privilege.

  3. Nop
    March 25, 2018 at 5:49 pm

    Black Panther waz fairly clearly a project Mockingbird joint, from the near-universal virtue-signalling critical promotional efforts to the inclusion of a friendly, honest CIA agent.

  4. Gerry L Forbes
    March 23, 2018 at 2:34 am

    This subject has been discussed with Casting. Henceforth, wherever the background of the picture permits, well dressed negroes will be planted as a part of the American scene, without appearing too conspicuous or deliberate.

    -letter from Luigi Luraschi, Head of Foreign & Domestic Censorship at Paramount Pictures to his CIA contact “Owen”, 1953.

    If you are committed to a capitalist agenda it is easier to improve other’s perception of your treatment of your less well-off citizens than it is to improve their treatment. And since the world’s deadliest terrorist organization is concerned about its own image it is not surprising that in the Hollywood movie Black Panther the Wakandans turn to the CIA when they decide to end their isolationism and join the community of nations. How will that turn out? Compare it to a real life example: 1980s South Africa.

    Wakanda has vibranium; South Africa is famous for diamonds and gold but is less well known for large deposits of strategic minerals (chromium, cobalt, manganese and the platinum group of metals). Only one other country was self-sufficient in these commodities: the USSR (in the mid-eighties 93% of the platinum group of metals came from these two countries). During the Cold War it might have been useful to have the western source of these minerals under the control of an authoritarian government to ensure supply when needed but with the Soviet Union in the last stages of collapse the increasing possibility of radical revolutionaries overthrowing the South African government threatened something much more important than national security: steady, safe corporate profits. You didn’t really think Ronald Reagan and Brian Mulroney were leading the charge to end apartheid out of the goodness of their hearts, did you?

    The Peabody Award winning 2009 British movie Endgame depicts what happened to make the world (South Africa at least) safe for the forces of good (multinational corporations).Starting in 1987 British mining company Consolidated Gold Fields hosted secret meetings between Thabo Mbeki (Chiwetel Ejiofor), representing the African National Congress, and Willie Esterhuyse (William Hurt), representing the Afrikaner National Party at Mells Park House (if the British government hosted the negotiations they likely would have been held at Lancaster House as they were for Kenya and Rhodesia/Zimbabwe). These meetings continued until after Nelson Mandela’s release in 1990, whereafter he was able to negotiate directly with the government.

    Which brings up the question “Is freedom negotiable?” Considering the timing, it was easy to concede being saddled with all the neoliberal trappings of “real” countries in exchange for ending apartheid (“All the other countries are doing it! Even eastern Europe!”) And that’s the story of how a leftist revolution was preempted and everybody lived happily ever after. The end.

    BLACK PANTHER II Now playing all across South Africa (except in theaters).

  5. Em Sos
    March 22, 2018 at 6:27 pm

    Re: your first example of Che Guevara.

    Those outside of the one-size-fits-all ‘West’ who have had to endure the iniquities of American capitalist plunder have had his name passed down through generations of first-hand suffering.
    Quite different from picking it up in the neo-liberal, so-called ‘first-world’, as merely a ‘commodified’ propaganda name on a T-shirt.

  6. Spike
    March 21, 2018 at 4:26 pm

    I’m glad someone wrote about this. Apple’s marketing, from the very beginning, has always made me furious.

    • tpmco
      March 22, 2018 at 3:01 am

      I think Apple has done more to change the world than any company since Ford. Are you harboring some kind of jealousy?

  7. Trudy Hess
    March 21, 2018 at 10:55 am

    Too bad Mr. Davidson did not include a paragraph on “The Post” . I would have been interested in his take on that one. To me, “The Post” was a lure to convince prospective readers/subscribers that WaPo practices actual journalism; and maybe to make Mr. Bezos a tad richer in the process.

  8. Bob Van Noy
    March 21, 2018 at 9:23 am

    Thank you Lawrence Davidson and Nat Parry for reminding us of the significance of the year 1968. Possibly we can continue this discussion as the year progresses?

    Mr. Davidson, I have been interested in the Student Upheaval on the UC Berkeley campus and at Columbia University. Much new information is now being revealed by years of FOIA requests, especially regarding government disinformation campaigns against the Student Population. Hopefully CN can publish significant new insights regarding what was really happening during The Sixties on campus, as well as within labor and politics.

    Here is an interesting link that will show some of the culture during 1968.
    http://www.thepeoplehistory.com/1968.html

  9. EamsG
    March 21, 2018 at 8:34 am

    ‘Besieged’ progressives? The progressive movement has besieged itself with the caliber of people they have chosen as its representatives.

  10. Annie
    March 21, 2018 at 12:31 am

    Maybe if Henry Wallace had won the presidency after FDR’s death things would have been a lot different. I’m no fan of capitalism. I watched Trump talk to Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, reassuring him of his continued support for weapon’s sales to be used primarily to destroy Yemen. There was no concern for these people, only the bottom line of billions of dollars in sales to be made, and playing up to the voters he hopes he will win over from the states in this country who produce those weapons. When I watched that I thought, well, I can’t really say what I thought, because it would be too full of curse words. I never despised Trump more then I did in that moment.

  11. Annie
    March 20, 2018 at 8:39 pm

    I’m no expert on economics, but I  think capitalism wouldn’t be such a bad thing if people weren’t so damn greedy, and it didn’t inculcate a kind of narcissism which measure’s a person’s worth by what he, or she owns, wears, drives, etc, It even had two old men in my family get into a ruff and tumble on the floor when one said he was part of the 1%. His brother’s ego took great offense which started the fight. It was a rather amusing interlude at a family dinner. Capitalism by nature is an exploitive system that creates class divisions, the producers and those who work for them. Money translates into power and that power has certainly been abused in this country, and elsewhere, and as they say power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. That is certainly a quote that can be used to define what is going on in the USA.  

    • March 20, 2018 at 9:55 pm

      No Annie, I agree that capitalism in itself is not the problem. The New Deal had started to tame the monster. However, it has always advocated growth as a solution to economic woes and that only serves as fodder for the beast. Growth per se implies reckless expansion on a finite planet and the problem is that those boom times feel good to those who are lucky enough to share in the prosperity, but they are always followed by a bust and much like the children’s game of musical chairs, someone is left without a seat until finally the only one that’s left has a chair all to himself(e.g. the 1%). It is the promise of another boom at the expense of environmental balance that keeps suckers on the hook until they too are cast aside into a pit of apathy and despair. Capitalism always depends on the next generation that hasn’t experienced the bust.

      • Bob Van Noy
        March 21, 2018 at 8:45 am

        Annie and Bob H, interesting thoughts. I had an insight several years ago while pondering the emphasis on Gross Domestic Product (GDP). I was wondering why business concentrated so much on GDP and I realized that GDP was a summation, basically of interest to the investment world. It would be much more significant as a total figure, were it an equation, with the opposite side representing natural resources. As long as resource extraction remains undiscussed with respect to economics, the Story is incomplete.

        For me this is simply another way that we are misled in our daily lives into the realm of fantasy… Or, as Joan Didion might say, Magical Thinking.

        • March 21, 2018 at 11:14 am

          Good observation BobV. I tend to think of GDP as grossly distorted perception since the figures are based on multinational production and never take into account those who have been ground out of the system. Economic fraud is an endemic motive of the establishment and I believe the chickens are soon coming home to roost. My own take was recently put into a post. Towards the bottom of the post are two links. One is a provocative essay by none other than James Corbett on the subject of economics that shows he knows more on the subject than most “credentialed” economists. The other is an equally brilliant article by Peter Koenig warning of the ramifications of the coming digitalization of currency.
          https://crivellistreetchronicle.blogspot.com/2018/02/the-coming-avallanche.html

    • Steve Naidamast
      March 21, 2018 at 3:33 pm

      Actually Capitalism and Socialism can exist side-by-side and should.

      Capitalism is primarily an economic system that can and often does drive economic innovation. However, it is Socialism, a political system, that can be used to drive the forms that Capitalism takes. The popular economic promotion of “free trade” is a myth that has never existed since all Capitalistic societies have required governments to intervene when capitalistic economies have gotten out of control from both the inherent greed and utter stupidity of capitalists.

      Since the US elites have used Capitalism to also drive the US political structure, it is the inherent and inevitable greed that uncontrolled Capitalism lets loose on society.

      Any government infrastructure that is designed to be an agent for the betterment of the public welfare at large is socialistic by its very nature. This is why Scandinavian countries and the Royal Netherlands have remained so stable for such a long time only to be recently disrupted by European right-winged organizations, some with neoconservative tendencies.

      You can see some of the same trends in both the UK and Western European nations, which is causing havoc among the populaces.

      The problem is that many Americans view Communism as the definition of Socialism from the US propaganda towards its own citizens. Some of this misunderstanding comes from the correct assumption that Communism does not allow for private property, which is true. However, this does not mean that an individual cannot own something but that instead the state owns the property of the nation, disallowing for middlemen to extract rent from the populace and in economics, rent is defined as any form of income that is not earned by productive labor. In other words, you cannot have landlords who hold shelter over people’s heads and the same for banks that do the same for home ownership.

      Of course, as we know, Communism, the actual theoretical basis of it has been conflated with Stalinism, which was nothing more than a dictatorship with a communist veneer.

      Many would be quite surprised to find that Socialism on the other hand was a direct outgrowth of political debate and theory of 19th century democratic thinking.

      There is nothing in Socialism that disallows for private ownership with the exception that once again, rent cannot be collected by non-productive individuals. In other words, employees own the companies that they work for while the state institutions are there to maintain that form of popular control.

      Professor Richard Wolff’s Democracy at Work foundation demonstrates how small groups of individuals can collaborate with each other to either develop socialized startups or convert larger organizations into socialized employee owned organizations.

      And if any were to go to his site and listen to his lectures, I doubt anyone would find anything to disagree with.

      Unfortunately, in the United States, Capitalism has run so far out of control that the country is now a complete oligarchy with a veneer of Capitalism to the same degree that the Soviet Union was the representation of Communism under Stalin and later.

      The idea then is not to get rid of Capitalism but instead to bring it under the control of socialized government as what was done with the more stable societies in Europe until neoconservatism (Capitalism on steroids) began to get its tentacles into these societies.). Those who would disagree with such a contention must want to pay large amounts of monies for privatized health care that is not of very good quality, which is exactly what US capitalists want us to do (charge the highest prices that the market can bare while offering the minimum level of quality).

  12. MarcB
    March 20, 2018 at 8:09 pm

    Those observing closely will notice that the white CIA agent , portrayed as reluctant Hero , saves the day yet again..!

  13. March 20, 2018 at 7:43 pm

    Lawrence Davidson has provided here a perceptive essay. It does well to expose the tendency of capitalism to marginalize its critics during their lifetime and lionize and distort their ideals after they’re no longer around.

    • Steve
      March 21, 2018 at 8:39 am

      I agree the essay is perceptive, it’s just unfortunate that the primary example he uses to make that point does not support his argument. The only connection between Marvel’s Black Panther and the Black Panther party is that the Marvel comic may have been the inspiration behind the political organization’s name, not the other way around.

      • March 21, 2018 at 11:32 am

        Steve,…good point, as I’m unfamiliar with the original Marvel version of the Black Panthers I kind of glossed over that part. However, after reading it over, I believe his major point was the Disney movie, which seems valid(although I haven’t seen it).

        • Steve
          March 21, 2018 at 7:05 pm

          The Disney movie is based on the Marvel comic, the first issue of which was published months BEFORE the Black Panther party existed. Given how popular the comic was in the African-American community (it was the first comic ever with a black leading character), it is likely that the comic was the inspiration behind the name of the party.

  14. Zachary Smith
    March 20, 2018 at 7:08 pm

    Fantasy can give you a momentary lift and sense of pride, but in the end the real world’s problems are still there.

    I made a search for money grossed by movies after adjustment for inflation, and this one is already at #46. So Big Films has clearly created a crowd-pleaser by carefully tugging on the correct heart strings. As for myself, I don’t watch super-hero shows. I won’t won’t be seeing this one, either, despite the rave reviews I found on Google.

    As a side not, I suppose I’m not really a “movie” person. On the list of the 300 at the link, the ones I personally view as decent can be counted on the fingers of two hands. Those movies I watch and then watch again tend to be much more obscure. I’ll take a good book over any video 99 times out of a 100.

  15. Santaclausified
    March 20, 2018 at 7:02 pm

    The movie also functions as a symbolic recounting of Malcolm X’s extra-judicial killing by Dick Ober’s illegal domestic covert operation, MHCHAOS. It even has a friendly CIA agent sidekick doing the usual CIA thing, ‘let’s you and him fight!’

    Of course they make the Malcolm character a violent urban rioter, and they conceal the real reason CIA killed him: Malcolm did the Arafat thing and denounced violence and nationalism for peace and human rights, in rapproachment with MLK. That’s what led CIA to whack him in real life.

    • March 21, 2018 at 12:02 am

      Thank you. Despite any good the film may have in promoting Black pride, it is in the end a vehicle to propagandize USAians to believe in the ultimate good of the CIA.

      • David G
        March 21, 2018 at 9:49 am

        The ubiquitous Hollywood trope of recent years portraying the CIA as a benevolent organization of super-spies merits scrutiny. Instead, all political discussion of film, at least in the MSM, is restricted to identity politics – such as the minutest examination of how well the racial classification of actor and role align, and whether the female stars earn as many millions per film as the males do.

    • David G
      March 21, 2018 at 9:30 am

      That looks like the kernel of a much more interesting article than the one we are commenting beneath.

    • Santaclausified
      March 21, 2018 at 10:12 am

      Fun fact: the COINTELPRO agent who whacked Malcolm for Dick Ober was the guy who invented bogus passive black-pride kitschfest Kwanzaa. Lights, camera, inaction! Cue orchestral tutti in the climactic first fruits scene!

  16. John Barth jr.
    March 20, 2018 at 6:02 pm

    I recently wrote a novel that did very well, describing the actual destruction of my efforts to found a charity school, by corrupt local officials and our utterly corrupt judiciary. I was luckily saved from capitalist exploitation of such progressive sentiments by even further corruption, internet copyright racketeering which sold massive numbers of digital copies preventing retail sales, and by even further judicial corruption which cynically denied due process of the type used every day in such cases, by federal officials and Hollywood producers. So the corrupt US officials ensure that only the rich profit from progressivism. Those curious can find the book The National Memorial at Amazon.

  17. John Barth jr.
    March 20, 2018 at 6:01 pm

    I recently wrote a well-received novel, describing the actual destruction of my efforts to found a charity school, by corrupt local officials and our utterly corrupt judiciary. I was luckily saved from capitalist exploitation of such progressive sentiments by even further corruption, internet copyright piracy which sold massive numbers of digital copies preventing retail sales, and by even further judicial corruption which cynically denied due process of the type used every day in such cases, by federal officials and Hollywood producers. So the corrupt US officials ensure that only the rich benefit from progressivism. Those curious can find the book The National Memorial at Amazon.

  18. Joe Tedesky
    March 20, 2018 at 5:43 pm

    It was two days after 911 when I sat with a couple friends of mine when we came to the conclusion that if the terrorist were of the mind that this act of terror would drive the U.S. to financial ruin, that because of this terror attack that new industries would spring up to only replace what industries might die. (We all at that time we’re under the impression 911 was a terrorist conspired attack, and we weren’t taking into consideration the U.S. debt that would balloon out of sight).

    We Americans have capitalized on almost, no on everything that was bad like for instance; WWII & WWI, Lincoln’s Assassination, JFK Assassination, the Vietnam War, Watergate, the Afghanistan & the Iraqi invasions, the Great Depression, Macolm X & Martin Luther King’s struggles and assassinations, and much more. In fact, if it’s terrible enough and depressing as all hell, then it’s great material for a book writer looking for a best seller, or a Hollywood screenwriter looking for a source for a new movie.

    I’d also like to say that what we are experiencing today in our Western world could be argued is not capitalism in as much as it is corporate controlled monopolization. If there were a time where American capitalism excelled and was somewhat fair we have now passed that day, as FDR regulations have been all but disbanded and thrown to the wind. So no matter it be capitalism or a true Marxist style of governing it doesn’t much matter, because once greed and corruption take over then the title you give whatever this is falls short of any standard description you give it, because it’s just plain injustice inflicted upon the masses by the selfish few who control everything.

      • Al Pinto
        March 21, 2018 at 2:17 pm

        Quote from the referenced link:

        “It’s incredible. Here we are fifteen months into the horrific, arch-plutocratic right-wing Donald Trump presidency and still the United States (U.S.) has done nothing to protect its elections and its broader political culture from the vicious oligarchs who have subverted U.S. “democracy.”

        In all fairness…

        Oligarchs subverting the U.S. democracy did not take fifteen month. This is a process that started long time ego, slowly at first but by now, it is at full speed ahead with no end in sight. One could say that this process has started half a century ego and the person probably would not be wrong. So far, it has been well executed with no end in sight and there’s no reason to believe it’ll change anytime soon….

        • Joe Tedesky
          March 22, 2018 at 9:00 am

          Hey Al, yeah and a lot of rich folk loss some real money by placing their bet on Hillary. Joe

    • Nancy
      March 21, 2018 at 12:20 pm

      Capitalism is, by its nature, greedy and corrupt. What is happening today is inevitable under capitalism. It is antithetical to the good of the majority and only benefits the tiny minority that is the capitalist class. FDR’s New Deal was a very brief aberration that was actually implemented to save capitalism from the rising discontent of the masses and still left the majority worldwide in poverty. There is no hope for reforming capialism, only eradicating it and creating a world that supports the 99% who create the bounty of our planet and want to preserve and nurture it.

      • Guest
        March 21, 2018 at 1:35 pm

        I wish those greedy Venezuelans had not stripped the store shelves bare.

      • March 21, 2018 at 6:18 pm

        I myself don’t believe in money. And I believe that one day humankind will be free of any sort of money system. Money exists so that ‘some’ can have more than others.

      • Joe Tedesky
        March 22, 2018 at 9:02 am

        Nancy I’m not going to argue over the benefits or pitfalls of capitalism, because no matter what type of government you have nothing will be fair to the people if the politicos at the top are corrupt lying thugs. Joe

        • Nancy
          March 22, 2018 at 1:24 pm

          I think the government of Cuba has illustrated that a lot can be accomplished FOR the people if that is the intent, even in the face of incredible obstacles. Capitalism is exactly the opposite.

  19. Lois Gagnon
    March 20, 2018 at 5:23 pm

    Capitalism has become so absurd that people have become commodities and corporations are considered people.

    “Those who can make you believe absurdities, can make you commit atrocities.”

    ~Voltaire~

  20. Drew Hunkins
    March 20, 2018 at 5:00 pm

    Just this past Super Bowl there was a television commercial by the Dodge vehicle corporation that utilized very poignant and touching imagery of Martin Luther King.

    Everyone knows MLK’s highest priority was to always drive a Dodge.

  21. Guest
    March 20, 2018 at 4:55 pm

    The movie may be formulaic, but it raises the self-esteem of African Americans. And isn’t that why we’re all here?

  22. Guest
    March 20, 2018 at 4:53 pm

    You should check your history. The Black Panther movie is based on a Marvel Comic issued in July 1966. The Black Panther terrorist organization was formed 3 months later in October 1966.

    • Steve
      March 21, 2018 at 8:34 am

      ^ This

      Marvel’s Black Panther has nothing to do with the Black Panther Party, and actually predates it by a few months. I agree with the premise of the article, that capitalism co-opts anti-capitalist movements for profit, but Black Panther is actually an example of the opposite … a capitalist comic that engaged the imaginations of anti-capitalist black leaders who chose to co-opt the name for their own purposes.

    • Tom
      March 27, 2018 at 9:59 am

      “Terrorist organization”? Go back to MSDNC and FUX News.

  23. March 20, 2018 at 4:51 pm

    Wonderful and insightful article. As Frank Zappa sang, “…the crux of the biscuit is the apostrophe.” You nailed it in your closing, “…stymied by a system that judged human needs solely in terms of monetary profit.” This is indeed the undoing of civil society, unrestrained capitalism as a form of government. Our government.

  24. Realist
    March 20, 2018 at 4:50 pm

    For those of a certain age, who you gonna believe? Hollywood or what they will tell you are your fake memories?

    Just keep in mind, “he who controls the present controls the past. He who controls the past controls the future.”

  25. mike k
    March 20, 2018 at 4:41 pm

    Money, the lifeblood of capitalism, pollutes everything it touches. It is the invisible chain that limits and degrades our lives. It replaces real values with cash values. Money corrupts, tons of money corrupt absolutely.

    Of course I understand that money in a sense is neutral, neither good nor bad. It is what we do with it, and what it brings out in us that is the problem with it. In that way it is like atomic energy, but like atomic energy it speaks to our greed for power, and that greed leads to runaway addiction, and then it trumps all other values, and so leads to the hell we are living in now.

    Money is power in a concentrated form, like radioactive material that has been refined out of it’s dispersed state. This makes it powerful, and it becomes fascinating to us, like heroin concentrated from raw opium. Like the ring in Tolkien’s fantasy, we become obsessed with acquiring this powerful energy at any cost. Then theft and war and all manner of evils spring out of the quest for this seemingly neutral stuff, money.

    • Sam F
      March 20, 2018 at 7:12 pm

      Good observations. The framers of the Constitution carefully controlled direct force and political power, while leaving economic exploitation of slaves, indentured servants, and employees to protect their disparity of wealth and privilege. The concentration of economic power after 1850 soon nullified even the Constitution, by dominating elections and mass media. Having successfully prevented the regulation of money power by socialism, the rich have now mastered the use of a third form of power, information power, to further enslave those who can no longer see that they do not even have a democracy controlling the military and the courts.

      The fascination of the US with acquiring money power is due largely to the displacement of moral education in literature and community, by advertising-supported MSM rationales for lying, cheating, and stealing, the ideology of money=virtue=power from which “all evils spring.” When such degraded people are not suffering they do not fault the system of endless promises to the greedy. When they suffer, they are alone and reviled, and when collapse brings them all to suffer, they will have forgotten how to be civilized, and are likely to make war for further thefts until conquered, when the lucky may be fit only for re-education camps.

    • Sam F
      March 20, 2018 at 7:12 pm

      Good observations. The framers of the Constitution carefully controlled direct force and political power, while leaving economic exploitation of slaves, indentured servants, and employees to protect their disparity of wealth and privilege. The concentration of economic power after 1850 soon nullified even the Constitution, by dominating elections and mass media. Having successfully prevented the regulation of money power by socialism, the rich have now mastered the use of a third form of power, information power, to further enslave those who can no longer see that they do not even have a democracy controlling the military and the courts.

      The fascination of the US with acquiring money power is due largely to the displacement of moral education in literature and community, by advertising-supported MSM rationales for lying, cheating, and stealing, the ideology of money=virtue=power from which “all evils spring.” When such degraded people are not suffering they do not fault the system of endless promises to the greedy. When they suffer, they are alone and reviled, and when collapse brings them all to suffer, they will have forgotten how to be civilized, and are likely to make war for further thefts until conquered, when the lucky may be fit only for re-education camps.

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