Source: OfTwoMinds blog, by Charles Hugh-Smith
This is what our mode of production optimizes: ugliness, debt-serfdom, and servitude to politically dominant corporations.
An insightful correspondent recently remarked on the striking transition of American neighborhoods from commercial districts dominated by locally owned businesses to streets lined with look-alike outlets of Corporate America. This transition is so obvious that few even comment on it, much less ask if this wholesale replacement is in the best interests of residents and consumers.
I have long suggested starting any inquiry with a simple question: cui bono— to whose benefit? Let’s add a second essential question: what does the system optimize?
By this I mean: what is optimized by the infrastructure, regulations, political structure, etc.–what we call the mode of production.
I think it’s abundantly clear that our mode of production optimizes large-scale global corporations, which have access to the capital and expertise needed to optimize production, management, employee training and discipline, supply chains and the purchase of political influence.
The net result of nearly-free credit for corporations is a Corporatocracy that constantly expands its financial and political power. Governments come and go, candidates come and go, and political movements come and go, but the Corporatocracy remains at the top of the power pyramid because it can always afford to “buy” as much democracy as it needs for the state to protect its power and profits.
Our mode of production optimizes the commoditization of everything: computer chips, fish and chips, labor, expertise, everything. It’s very convenient if you have a reliable vehicle; if not, tough luck–convenience is for those with cars.
If you want a burger that’s essentially identical everywhere in the nation–i.e. a burger that has been ruthlessly commoditized–then Corporate America’s fast food chains are the place to go.
If you want a hotel room that’s identical to hundreds of other rooms, a store that has identical items and nearly identical layout no matter which outlet you enter– Corporate America’s chains are the place to go.
That this commoditization / homogenization has consequences other than low prices and convenience is not advertised. One consequence is every town and street in the country looks alike: a garish row of one corporate outpost after another.
The ugliness of this commoditized wasteland is so obvious that it’s assumed to be unavoidable.