The middle class might be disintegrating in the US and the world’s poor starving for food and medical care, but the US upper class (or “high net worth individuals”) are making a killing. Welcome to the free market.
The price of commodities is going up, as is the price of gasoline. Indeed, the price of everything is going up. At the same time, we are deep in the midst of a recession with lower wages and a weak dollar—and yet the world’s rich are only getting richer. This can no longer be denied.
Now, if we are to believe capitalist purists (and, indeed, those who delight in this mixed US economy), we are not allowed to complain—each man’s lot in life is a function of the work he is willing to do. It could be argued as well that one’s lot is also a function of ruthlessness, a near psychotic attitude toward others.
Continuing with that line of thought, it’s no surprise then that Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari should title their two-volume pioneering work of schizoanalysis “Capitalism and Schizophrenia” (see: Anti-Oedipus and A Thousand Plateaus). In those books, but most especially in Anti-Oedipus, Deleuze and Guattari equate the paradigms of power with schizophrenia.
We intuit this special brand of psychosis in capitalism from an early age, until we are then systematically blasted with the contrary idea that it is rational and fair. The apotheosis of this brand of schizophrenia can be found in Christianity, which has somehow taken up the position that the free market, or mixed economy, is an absolute good—rubber-stamped by Jesus and thus perfectly fit for the pursuit of selfish existence (never mind that capitalism didn’t exist in Jesus’ time). And that all attempts of giving the masses a decent living to include food, shelter and healthcare is the work of the Devil.
If that is the work of the Devil, then I hope to shake his hand one day in Hell.
We already live a fundamentally selfish existence: the sublime can only be achieved if we manage to transcend that genetic encoding and love others as we love ourself, knowing full well that this is virtually impossible. And yet, where would humanity be if we hadn’t attempted to transcend our biological impulses? Every positive step taken since the dawn of mankind has been progressive, with regressive convulsions impeding that progress: monarchies, serfdom, slavery, patriarchies, empire, genocide, and so on.
The latest regressive convulsions is the current brand of capitalism, in which wealth is vacuumed up and re-distributed to the upper class. It’s a mutation that must be corrected.
There is redistribution in the United States, contrary to what American capitalists believe, but it isn’t being pulled by gravity down to the masses, but defying all logic and levitating to further enrich the already rich. This is perfectly illustrated in Merrill Lynch and Capgemini’s World Wealth Report, which details how the wealthiest percentage of individuals in the world has only grown, even during the recession.
Is it not psychopathic, and more particularly sociopathic, that the world’s rich seem to have no problem that they are drawing more water from the well than the rest of us, even as the rich men of the US congressional and executive branches ask for austerity both here and abroad? They are an army of Daniel Plainviews drinking the milkshake.
This should be the very definition of psychosis—only sociopathic individuals are able to think like this. But, through a vast and convoluted machinery of trickery they are able to convince over half the population that this is only natural—that it is okay for wealth to accumulate even as people lose their homes, their jobs, their ability to feed their families.
Merrill Lynch and Capgemini note that “The global population of Ultra-HNWIs2 grew by 10.2% in 2010 and its wealth by 11.5%.” (Ultra-HNWIs are defined as those individuals with “US$30 million or more, excluding primary residence, collectibles, consumables, and consumer durables.) Their wealth grew while the rest of ours plummeted.
The report also notes:
The world’s high net worth individuals (HNWIs) expanded in population and wealth in 2010 surpassing 2007 pre-crisis levels in nearly every region. [HNWIs are defined as those having investable assets of US$1 million or more, excluding primary residence, collectibles, consumables, and consumer durables.]
The global HNWI population remained highly concentrated in the U.S., Japan and Germany, which together accounted for 53.0% of the world’s HNWIs. The U.S. is still home to the single largest HNW segment in the world, with its 3.1 million HNWIs accounting for 28.6% of the global HNWI population.
Also today it was reported that last year, even while the middle and lower classes were decimated in the ongoing economic crisis, the average pay for CFOs of S&P 500 companies ballooned 19%.
This psychopathy will only continue until a counterforce emerges to stop it—or until every last resource is extinguished and the weight of the illusion comes crashing down.