Notes on an economic system

Marketing is not about a supposed “consumer’s” need but about a purveyor’s need to sell.

That statement should be self-evident, but if one senses a certain cognitive dissonance on reading it, that is for very good reason. We live in a society that values individual achievement and self-reliance. Working with others is seen as a sign of inadequacy, that one cannot do it all by him- or herself.

Marketing constitutes an admission of dependence upon others to buy whatever one is selling, really quite regardless of their need. It is a statement of inadequacy. And this is why I sense that even criminals have greater honor than marketers.

Of course, individual self-reliance is an illusion. One drives upon the roads that others build; relies upon the water, sewage, and other utility systems that others build; and eats the food that others grow, harvest, and in our omnivorous society, the animals that others slaughter and butcher. Humans are members of a social species that has survived and prospered through cooperation.

But we reward not the people who work with others, building buildings, manufacturing automobiles and appliances, or laboring in the fields, but rather the people who have appropriated unto themselves the resources of this planet which Proudhon saw as our common birthright, and who “invest” these resources in the means of production. Somehow, as Marx and Engels observed, we came to value the “investor” of appropriated resources more than laborers, though the worker offers what is truly his or hers to offer, and the “investor” offers that which he or she has deprived others of.

And those who possess these purloined resources and agree to exchange them for the honest labor of others inevitably begin with an advantage. Their toil is not required. And with their advantage, they have a greater freedom to decline any “deal,” for they can easily take their money, which facilitates this theft, and “invest” it elsewhere, while a laborer has quite a larger problem to move where jobs are offered. Having stolen so much, the rich then profit again by devaluing others, offering jobs where “labor costs” are lowest. Any system of exchange thus inherently privileges the wealthy and magnifies the gap between rich and poor. Yet we assume that nothing can happen without members of a privileged class to direct us. Somehow, these “gifted” individuals have impressed upon the rest of us that they are indispensable, that we cannot direct our own labors.

This discrepancy is particularly apparent with the labor of those who care for others, as Riane Eisler notes, particularly in The Real Wealth of Nations. Teachers, child care workers, and hospice workers are all paid poorly. The domestic labors of full-time parents and housekeepers are not rewarded at all; rather we see them as dependents upon those who “bring home the bacon.” So our social values have been perverted. Society is no longer for the protection and development of human beings but for the profit of a few who have stolen from others.

One might wonder why sales people are the ones driving flashy cars, and are the ones who see the glass as half-full. It is because they do what the rich do; and we reward them at the expense of honest labor.

Author: benfell

David Benfell holds a Ph.D. in Human Science from Saybrook University. He earned a M.A. in Speech Communication from CSU East Bay in 2009 and has studied at California Institute of Integral Studies. He is an anarchist, a vegetarian ecofeminist, a naturist, and a Taoist.

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