I was in McDonalds the other day, conducting delicate negotiations with reality; surfing the rapids of the tedious hallucinogenic climbdown that I seem to tangle with about once every 10 years or so. Now I’m a grown-up.
McDonalds. God almighty. What on god’s good earth were you doing there?
I was never into that whole “sitting round, listening to joss-sticks, watching whale-music” thing. Odd situations are a whole lot more inspiring and entertaining.
I looked around.
So do the people who work in McDonalds know that they’ve got the archetypal Gen-X… absolute bottom rung job?
They seem happy enough, some of them. Happier than me. Maybe they haven’t read Gen-X? Maybe MTV stays quiet about all that sort of thing now… Beavis and Butthead. Is there still MTV? Is there still a beavis? A butthead?
I was sitting there, contemplating how little these people got paid… how little nutritional value was in the food… and I got this grand vision of the adaptive genius of the machine that is ALL about taking as much money out of us as mathematically possible, while giving as little back as can be got away with – in nutrition or wages… like a networked mesh of golden arches all over the planet… all sucking nutrients out of the ground and only putting enough back that the plants don’t die.
It’s a formula for success. It’s THE formula for success. Maximise profits. Externalise costs. We’re living in The Age of What Can Be (temporarily) Got Away With.
And then it occurred to me that this was the system that we’re increasingly using to run everything… a global network/mesh of satanic mills, sweatshops and favelas. Massive slums aren’t aberrations, they’re designed into the system. 20-30-40 year olds going back to live with their parents aren’t an aberration – they’re designed into the system. Give just enough people just enough… and skim the rest. Poverty is not a symptom of things going wrong – it’s designed into the system.
The first ever McDonalds in New Zealand was in Porirua… Wellington (the shining capital) was just over the hill… but instead they chose Porirua, which is one of the lowest socio-economic zones in New Zealand. This was not an accident. 40 years later, McDonalds are everywhere… and so is poverty.
We’ve seen what privatised rail and water is like in the UK… prices soar; infrastructure is systematically underinvested in… weakened… until there’s an accident or a scandal… then it temporarily adjusts (after denials, then spin, then the resignation of someone as low down the food-chain as can be got away with)… then, when attention drifts elsewhere, business-as-usual returns to business-as-usual. As much as can be got away with… tested against public outrage… evolved… fine-tuned… a point-of-balance in a gradient of exploitation
It’s a formula for success:
– price at the maximum the market will stand;
– return the minimum quality the market will stand;
– pay the minimum wages that the market will stand.
Shareholders demand it, and the law demands that businesses must maximise returns for shareholders.
Anyone see a problem with this?
An inherent design flaw?
There were minor ripples of kerfuffle a while back when a UK Tory MP explained (off the record) to some Oxford students that the Tory party is a “coalition of privileged interests. Its main purpose is to defend that privilege. And the way it wins elections is by giving just enough to just enough other people“.
This isn’t just the UK Tory Party – this is how capitalism as a whole is being run.
There is more slavery in the world today than there has been at any time in human history… and there is a big difference between that sort of slavery and what the rest of us put up with… but with very few exceptions we’re all slaves. What we have is a sort of (50 Shades of) gradated slavery.
We spend the majority of our lives working to make money, to give to other people who are already rich. This is generally in the shape of debt, but also monopoly rents, and profit skimmed off our life-support systems (leaving just enough so the plants don’t die). As someone pointed out recently, corporations are hell-bent on taking over our life-support systems… all the really, really important stuff (the stuff where they’ve got us over a barrel) is in the process of being privatised, leaving us citizens to do yoga classes for each other. The money is being siphoned out… and recently, the plants have started to die.
And I was sitting there in McDonalds, thinking… well I should really feel guilty about being here, because this place is the archetype of Corporate Evil… then I thought “oh.. hang on, no – that’s Exxon”… or Lockheed Martin… or Monsanto… or MPAA/RIAA members, or Goldman Sachs or Apple… and then it crossed my mind that almost every “industry” is headed by a small cabal of corporations ALL of whom are the archetype of corporate evil.
I’m sitting in McDonalds… is it really that much better if I step outside? The entire planet is tangled in this shit. The whole planet is bathed in radio-waves of lies.
Right now, the American Govt (possibly the most puppety corporate puppet govt in the world) is hell-bent on trying to charge the rest of the world monopoly rents for “ideas” or drawings. “IP”. They’re doing this to crush local competition… and smaller govts are going along with it because they’re corporate puppets as well, or they’re ignorant/frightened of the internet, or they’re desperate to please the American Establishment, or they’re using “IP” as a trojan horse to censor and spy on the network.
Whatever their reason, it’s rare that our own govts are on our side, and really they should be. That’s what they’re there for.
The other day I wrote on twitter: “Neoliberalism = Corporatised colonialism = Occupation with puppet leaders who’s job it is to enforce corporate law”
Which (some) people seemed to like – but I looked at it and thought: “That’s bollocks. That’s a prickly ball of cliches”. To Name Something Is To Have Done With It… and all that is, is: names. Hemingway would not approve.
“We’re slaves, living in conditions that are shaded to be just short of visible. This is ruining other people’s lives – but we’re next; our children are next.”
This is all precipitating out of the design of our currency. We need to start using something else, and we need to recognise that corporations are the new nazis… the new colonialists… the new Roman empire… but with their tyranny shaded (to westerners at least, for the moment) to be just short of visible… but the plants are starting to die.
I wandered out into the daylight. It was a beautiful day. It’s a beautiful day now. Dig it.