The capitalist death cult

See updates through May 17, 2021, at end of post.


I have long felt that capitalism is, in U.S. society, even more of an ideology than it is an economic system. Now, with talk of human sacrifice, I think I would have to call it a religion, or, because no major religion any longer demands human sacrifice, perhaps a cult.

Both the medical and economic aspects of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic are catastrophic[1] and we don’t even know how catastrophic.[2] Worse, we really aren’t stepping up to adequately address either aspect,[3] and we seem to be rushing to lift restrictions to “save the economy.”[4]

Meanwhile, some, who have obviously never experienced the sheer panic, terror, and desperation of respiratory distress, talk about letting grandparents die that very death “to prevent the U.S. economy from tanking under the weight of social distancing measures that [Dan Patrick] fears will impact his grandchildren and lead to the ‘loss’ of America.”[5] All to save capitalism, conflated with Amerikkka.

On the one hand, the suffering that the economic shutdown imposes is real, particularly for those who can least afford it.[6] But rather than question the paradigm that imposes this terrible dilemma, rather than take care of humans,[7] we would hastily reimpose a system of economic exchange that inherently privileges whomever has the greater power to say no,[8] at the expense of the very same vulnerable folks who can’t afford the shutdown.[9]

Our high priests decree that we must do this even at the cost of millions of lives.[10] They demand mass human sacrifice[11] to appease a capitalist god angered by, I guess, Bernie Sanders.

I am the Lord thy God. . . . Thou shalt have no other gods before me . . . for I the Lord thy God am a jealous God.[12]


Update, December 24, 2020: Political and economic elite disdain for the poor and working class appears in 1) the paucity of and long delays in economic relief packages,[13] 2) a mishandling of the economy and of the pandemic that appears more malicious than incompetent,[14] and 3) the miserable pay offered front-line workers who have too often worked without adequate protection even as retail corporate profits have soared,[15] and while millions of others face homelessness[16] and poverty[17] due to job loss. It was all entirely foreseeable, indeed foreseen, but the capitalist god indeed demands human sacrifice[18] and our elites seem determined to offer it.[19]

In the latest development, the House of Representatives failed to pass by unanimous consent[20] an increase in direct payments to $2,000 that Donald Trump, of all people, demanded,[21] from the $600 that Congress had agreed[22] after months of delay.[23] It is, at the very least, more of the same.[24]


Update, March 22, 2021: Congress did eventually pass and Joe Biden signed an economic stimulus package sending $1,400 checks to many Amerikkkans.[25] Given the duration of suffering, it’s a pittance, but apparently not enough to persuade ride share drivers to risk exposure to COVID-19, causing gig companies some worry, but not enough for them to raise pay beyond one-time incentives.[26] This is a situation I took up in a blog post entitled, “The necessary desperation.”

The killing hasn’t ended. Biden supports pharmaceutical companies in their insistence on preserving intellectual property rights over COVID-19 vaccines, limiting production, killing people mostly in less developed countries who don’t have access to vaccines, enabling more variants of the novel coronavirus to appear, and thus killing even more people.[27] I take the latter story up in a blog post entitled, “The lethal dishonesty of ‘intellectual property’ in a pandemic.”


Update, May 17, 2021: Yes, I work well over 55 hours per week, the length of time the World Health Organization now says increases the risk of heart attack and stroke.[28] I have no choice. Lots of other people do and they, likewise, have no choice. But you know, to advocate a living wage is to blaspheme against the great god capitalism.[29]

  1. [1]Talal Ansari, Jennifer Calfas, and Chun Han Wong, “U.S. Coronavirus Cases Surpass Those of China, Italy,” Wall Street Journal, March 26, 2020, https://www.wsj.com/articles/governments-clamp-down-as-coronavirus-infections-surge-11585218656; David Blanchflower, “Pandemic Economics: ‘Much Worse, Very Quickly,” New York Review of Books, March 26, 2020, https://www.nybooks.com/daily/2020/03/26/pandemic-economics-much-worse-very-quickly/; Heather Long and Alyssa Fowers, “A record 3.3 million Americans filed for unemployment benefits as the coronavirus slams economy,” Washington Post, March 26, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2020/03/26/unemployment-claims-coronavirus-3-million/; Yascha Mounk, “This Is Just the Beginning,” Atlantic, March 25, 2020, https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2020/03/national-shutdown-least-bad-option/608683/
  2. [2]Derek Thompson, “All the Coronavirus Statistics Are Flawed,” Atlantic, March 26, 2020, https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2020/03/fog-pandemic/608764/
  3. [3]Adam Cancryn and Nancy Cook, “Health officials want Trump to ‘double down, not lighten up’ restrictions,” Politico, March 23, 2020, https://www.politico.com/news/2020/03/23/coronavirus-economy-trump-restart-145222; John Cassidy, “What Would a Proper Coronavirus Stimulus Plan Look Like?” New Yorker, March 14, 2020, https://www.newyorker.com/news/our-columnists/what-would-a-proper-coronavirus-stimulus-plan-look-like; James Hamblin, “What Will You Do If You Start Coughing?” Atlantic, March 11, 2020, https://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2020/03/where-do-you-go-if-you-get-coronavirus/607759/; Michael Hirsh, “Is $2 Trillion Too Little, Too Late?” Foreign Policy, March 25, 2020, https://foreignpolicy.com/2020/03/24/us-congress-2-trillion-rescue-package-too-little-too-late/; Michael Hudson, “A debt jubilee is the only way to avoid a depression,” Washington Post, March 21, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2020/03/21/debt-jubilee-is-only-way-avoid-depression/; Justin Lahart, “Washington’s Trillions Alone Can’t Stop the Jobpocalypse,” Wall Street Journal, March 26, 2020, https://www.wsj.com/articles/washingtons-trillions-alone-cant-stop-the-jobpocalypse-11585235110; Yascha Mounk, “This Is Just the Beginning,” Atlantic, March 25, 2020, https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2020/03/national-shutdown-least-bad-option/608683/; Isabel V. Sawhill, “The middle class faces its greatest threat since the 1930s,” Brookings, March 20, 2020,https://www.brookings.edu/opinions/the-middle-class-faces-its-greatest-threat-since-the-1930s/
  4. [4]Adam Cancryn and Nancy Cook, “Health officials want Trump to ‘double down, not lighten up’ restrictions,” Politico, March 23, 2020, https://www.politico.com/news/2020/03/23/coronavirus-economy-trump-restart-145222; Isabel Togoh, “Texas Official Suggests ‘Lots’ Of Grandparents Would Be Willing Risk Coronavirus Death To Keep Economy Going,” Forbes, March 24, 2020, https://www.forbes.com/sites/isabeltogoh/2020/03/24/texas-official-suggests-lots-of-grandparents-would-be-willing-risk-coronavirus-death-to-keep-economy-going/; William Wan and Aaron Blake, “Coronavirus modelers factor in new public health risk: Accusations their work is a hoax,” Washington Post, March 27, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/health/2020/03/27/coronavirus-models-politized-trump/
  5. [5]Isabel Togoh, “Texas Official Suggests ‘Lots’ Of Grandparents Would Be Willing Risk Coronavirus Death To Keep Economy Going,” Forbes, March 24, 2020, https://www.forbes.com/sites/isabeltogoh/2020/03/24/texas-official-suggests-lots-of-grandparents-would-be-willing-risk-coronavirus-death-to-keep-economy-going/
  6. [6]Adam Cancryn and Nancy Cook, “Health officials want Trump to ‘double down, not lighten up’ restrictions,” Politico, March 23, 2020, https://www.politico.com/news/2020/03/23/coronavirus-economy-trump-restart-145222; Kim Hart, “The coronavirus economy will devastate those who can least afford it,” Axios, March 23, 2020, https://www.axios.com/coronavirus-economy-layoffs-children-families-bad-d588cc93-ff26-4031-8be8-5654cce05a15.html; Funda Ustek-Spilda et al., “The untenable luxury of self-isolation,” New Internationalist, March 18, 2020, https://newint.org/features/2020/03/18/untenable-luxury-self-isolation; Ben White, “Great Depression 2? Worries about a coronavirus-induced calamity pile up,” Politico, March 23, 2020, https://www.politico.com/news/2020/03/23/great-depression-coronavirus-induced-calamity-145304
  7. [7]John Cassidy, “What Would a Proper Coronavirus Stimulus Plan Look Like?” New Yorker, March 14, 2020, https://www.newyorker.com/news/our-columnists/what-would-a-proper-coronavirus-stimulus-plan-look-like; James Hamblin, “What Will You Do If You Start Coughing?” Atlantic, March 11, 2020, https://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2020/03/where-do-you-go-if-you-get-coronavirus/607759/; Michael Hirsh, “Is $2 Trillion Too Little, Too Late?” Foreign Policy, March 25, 2020, https://foreignpolicy.com/2020/03/24/us-congress-2-trillion-rescue-package-too-little-too-late/; Michael Hudson, “A debt jubilee is the only way to avoid a depression,” Washington Post, March 21, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2020/03/21/debt-jubilee-is-only-way-avoid-depression/
  8. [8]Max Weber, “Class, Status, Party,” in Social Theory, ed. Charles Lemert, 6th ed. (Boulder, CO: Westview, 2017), 94-101.
  9. [9]Adam Cancryn and Nancy Cook, “Health officials want Trump to ‘double down, not lighten up’ restrictions,” Politico, March 23, 2020, https://www.politico.com/news/2020/03/23/coronavirus-economy-trump-restart-145222; Kim Hart, “The coronavirus economy will devastate those who can least afford it,” Axios, March 23, 2020, https://www.axios.com/coronavirus-economy-layoffs-children-families-bad-d588cc93-ff26-4031-8be8-5654cce05a15.html; Funda Ustek-Spilda et al., “The untenable luxury of self-isolation,” New Internationalist, March 18, 2020, https://newint.org/features/2020/03/18/untenable-luxury-self-isolation; Ben White, “Great Depression 2? Worries about a coronavirus-induced calamity pile up,” Politico, March 23, 2020, https://www.politico.com/news/2020/03/23/great-depression-coronavirus-induced-calamity-145304
  10. [10]Adam Cancryn and Nancy Cook, “Health officials want Trump to ‘double down, not lighten up’ restrictions,” Politico, March 23, 2020, https://www.politico.com/news/2020/03/23/coronavirus-economy-trump-restart-145222; Yascha Mounk, “This Is Just the Beginning,” Atlantic, March 25, 2020, https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2020/03/national-shutdown-least-bad-option/608683/
  11. [11]Isabel Togoh, “Texas Official Suggests ‘Lots’ Of Grandparents Would Be Willing Risk Coronavirus Death To Keep Economy Going,” Forbes, March 24, 2020, https://www.forbes.com/sites/isabeltogoh/2020/03/24/texas-official-suggests-lots-of-grandparents-would-be-willing-risk-coronavirus-death-to-keep-economy-going/
  12. [12]Ex. 20:2-5 (King James Version).
  13. [13]David Benfell, “The mysterious expectation that elites give a damn,” Not Housebroken, December 22, 2020, https://disunitedstates.org/2020/08/01/the-mysterious-expectation-that-elites-give-a-damn/
  14. [14]David Benfell, “The modern Scrooge,” Not Housebroken, December 12, 2020, https://disunitedstates.org/2020/12/12/the-modern-scrooge/; David Benfell, “Imagine a malicious elite,” Not Housebroken, December 20, 2020, https://disunitedstates.org/2020/12/18/imagine-a-malicious-elite/
  15. [15]Molly Kinder and Laura Stateler, “Amazon and Walmart have raked in billions in additional profits during the pandemic, and shared almost none of it with their workers,” Brookings, December 22, 2020, https://www.brookings.edu/blog/the-avenue/2020/12/22/amazon-and-walmart-have-raked-in-billions-in-additional-profits-during-the-pandemic-and-shared-almost-none-of-it-with-their-workers/; Molly Kinder, Laura Stateler, and Julia Du, “Windfall profits and deadly risks: How the biggest retail companies are compensating essential workers during the COVID-19 pandemic,” Brookings, November 2020, https://www.brookings.edu/essay/windfall-profits-and-deadly-risks/; Leila Miller, “Low-wage workers face retaliation for demanding COVID-19 safety measures at work,” Los Angeles Times, August 15, 2020, https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2020-08-15/coronavirus-workers-retaliation-claims
  16. [16]Kriston Capps, “Landlords Challenge U.S. Eviction Ban and Continue to Oust Renters,” CityLab, October 22, 2020, https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2020-10-22/landlords-launch-legal-attack-on-cdc-eviction-ban; Heather Long, “Millions of Americans are heading into the holidays unemployed and over $5,000 behind on rent,” Washington Post, December 7, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2020/12/07/unemployed-debt-rent-utilities/; Gretchen Morgenson, “Large corporate landlords have filed 10,000 eviction actions in five states since September,” NBC News, October 26, 2020, https://www.nbcnews.com/business/personal-finance/large-corporate-landlords-have-filed-10-000-eviction-actions-five-n1244711; Kyle Swenson, “Renters thought a CDC order protected them from eviction. Then landlords found loopholes,” Washington Post, October 27, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/dc-md-va/2020/10/27/trump-cdc-eviction-moratorium-loopholes/
  17. [17]Abha Bhattarai and Hannah Denham, “Stealing to survive: More Americans are shoplifting food as aid runs out during the pandemic,” Washington Post, December 10, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2020/12/10/pandemic-shoplifting-hunger/; Heather Long, “Nearly 8 million Americans have fallen into poverty since the summer,” Washington Post, December 16, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2020/12/16/poverty-rising/; Kyle Swenson, “Ten bucks left, no place to go: How the pandemic and a broken unemployment system are upending people’s lives,” Washington Post, August 1, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/coronavirus-unemployment-delays-dc/2020/08/01/50016264-c522-11ea-8ffe-372be8d82298_story.html
  18. [18]David Benfell, “The capitalist death cult,” Not Housebroken, March 27, 2020, https://disunitedstates.org/2020/03/27/the-capitalist-death-cult/; David Benfell, “An impatient capitalist god demands human sacrifice. Now.” Not Housebroken, April 17, 2020, https://disunitedstates.org/2020/04/15/an-impatient-capitalist-god-demands-human-sacrifice-now/
  19. [19]David Benfell, “Imagine a malicious elite,” Not Housebroken, December 20, 2020, https://disunitedstates.org/2020/12/18/imagine-a-malicious-elite/
  20. [20]Suzanne Malveaux, Phil Mattingly, and Clare Foran, “House fails to pass measure to increase stimulus checks to $2,000,” CNN, December 24, 2020, https://www.cnn.com/2020/12/24/politics/house-vote-stimulus-checks-government/index.html
  21. [21]Rebecca Ballhaus, “Trump Asks Congress to Amend Covid-19 Package, Boost Direct Payments,” Wall Street Journal, December 22, 2020, https://www.wsj.com/articles/trump-asks-congress-to-amend-covid-19-package-boost-direct-payments-11608684702
  22. [22]Jeff Stein, and Mike DeBonis, “Senate majority leader announces approximately $900 billion deal on emergency relief package,” Washington Post, December 20, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/us-policy/2020/12/20/stimulus-congress/
  23. [23]Paul Kane, “Congress deeply unpopular again as gridlock on coronavirus relief has real-life consequences,” Washington Post, August 1, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/powerpost/congress-deeply-unpopular-again-as-gridlock-on-coronavirus-relief-has-real-life-consequences/2020/07/31/6d2f10c4-d36a-11ea-8c55-61e7fa5e82ab_story.html
  24. [24]David Benfell, “The mysterious expectation that elites give a damn,” Not Housebroken, December 22, 2020, https://disunitedstates.org/2020/08/01/the-mysterious-expectation-that-elites-give-a-damn/
  25. [25]Tony Romm, “Biden signs $1.9 trillion stimulus into law; some could see stimulus payments this weekend,” Washington Post, March 11, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/us-policy/2021/03/11/biden-sign-stimulus-covid-relief-congress-checks/
  26. [26]Aarian Marshall, “Gig Companies Fear a Worker Shortage, Despite a Recession,” Wired, March 5, 2021, https://www.wired.com/story/gig-companies-fear-worker-shortage-despite-recession/
  27. [27]Christopher Rowland, Emily Rauhala, and Miriam Berger, “Drug companies defend vaccine monopolies in face of global outcry,” Washington Post, March 20, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2021/03/20/covid-vaccine-global-shortages/
  28. [28]World Health Organization, “Long working hours increasing deaths from heart disease and stroke: WHO, ILO,” May 17, 2021, https://www.who.int/news/item/17-05-2021-long-working-hours-increasing-deaths-from-heart-disease-and-stroke-who-ilo
  29. [29]David Benfell, “The capitalist death cult,” Not Housebroken, March 22, 2021, https://disunitedstates.org/2020/03/27/the-capitalist-death-cult/

24 thoughts on “The capitalist death cult

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.