It dawned on me with a flash of brilliance - like a bright star in the sky you might say. As I was elbowed by one desperate shopper after another – all madly focused with that crazy glint in their eyes – there could be absolutely no doubt - Capitalism Works.
Today (according to people who work these things out) Brits are going to spend £1.3 BILLION. Just today. And I am fairly sure (though I’m just guessing – I am not one of the people who do surveys to work these things out) relatively few will feel better on Boxing Day for having spent that money. In fact some folk are going to feel much worse.
I recalled a very odd recent church service. A young preacher wound on for a while in an entertaining manner about her shopping, her gift-wrapping, her fear of putting on those ‘Christmas pounds’, the stuff she was going to watch on telly etc and finished up with an authentic -
“Thank you Jesus”
I listened hard for the irony. There was none.
I gazed around the congregation and saw a few smiles, the occasional appreciative nod. Some were glazed over and had clearly already gone to the land of when-is this-over but no one else seemed to be squirming with discomfort.
After a few days of stewing about this I realised that Christmas really is the ultimate proof that Capitalism Works.
At no other time of year is it more evident, at no other time are the masses so eager, nay desperate to fulfill their role as cash cows.
I was humbled.
For the fact is that the whole point of Capitalism (as surely we know by now) is to make a few people at the top rich while keeping the rest alive to service that wealth. This happens because the vast majority of those below them are exploited and the money travels up up up. It is not pyramid selling but pyramid economics. This Free Enterprise defies the laws of gravity, humanity and morality.
In its mildest forms and usually when economies are developing, enough money and resources stay at the middle and lower levels to muddy the inequalities and we rub along (Britain between WWII and Thatcherism). But we are past that stage.
At no time since WWII has there ever been greater inequality between the tiny percentage of haves at the top and the have-nots at the bottom. And the rules are – as we've known in this country since at least The Industrial Revolution – when economies contract or cease to expand the only other way to squeeze out more profit is to exploit people more.
Capitalism Works. Capitalism ensures wealth for the few. What we are experiencing at present is Rampant Capitalism that ensures obscene amounts of wealth for those at the top whatever state the economy is in and scraps plus debt for those at the bottom.
As people scurry round buying gargantuan piles of crap in the name of that thing we call Christmas, stuff made by people even more exploited than they are and eat/drink themselves into early graves (yes this is my jolly yuletide message) they are proving with every penny borrowed, every credit card burnt that CAPITALISM WORKS. Capitalism is alive and kicking our heads in.
The question is not does this out of control free enterprise monster work. The question is – is it what we want.