Recall that Marx wrote in his 1844 work A Contribution to the Critique of Hegel’s Philosophy of Right. that “Die Religion ist der Seufzer der bedrängten Kreatur, das Gemüth einer herzlosen Welt, wie sie der Geist geistloser Zustände ist. Sie ist das Opium des Volks” (Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, just as it is the spirit of a spiritless situation. It is the opium of the people).
Religion was a major vehicle for social control used by capital to divert attention away from what they were up to – suppressing wages and worker autonomy and advancing their own interests.
Think about the role the Roman Catholic church played in Latin America as stark examples of the more subtle processes that operate in more advanced nations.
As the hold of religion lessened over time, capital found mass consumption as the next effective way to sustain a docile, compliant working class.
Please read my blog – The mass consumption era and the rise of neo-liberalism – for more discussion on this point.
But that meant allowing the standard of living of workers to increase through real wages growth in line with productivity growth and a more equitable distribution of national income.
As neo-liberalism has become more refined (not in quality but in its ability to attack the living standards of workers), the mass consumption strategy has become more involved.
Capital worked out that it could suppress real wages through labour market deregulation, take the gap generated by productivity growth for itself (redistribute national income in favour of profits), and then maintain mass consumption by pushing massive debt onto households, via the relaxing of credit standards and the corruption of banking, allowed for by the simultaneous deregulation of the financial markets.
Major lobbying was expended to make this seemingly perfect solution operational.
Except greed got in the way and the GFC came along because the debt that was being pushed onto households was no longer subject to satisfactory prudential standards and the NINJAs finally couldn’t pay.
At that point, a new form of social control was needed to cope with the mass unemployment that has been created around the world.
Enter the next ‘you-beaut-plan’ – the CEO-advocated BIG.
And the progressives who are pushing for the BIG don’t know what day it is!
So our conception of humanity is of a bare minimum consumption unit – where society only has a responsibility to provide a small capacity to ensure this consumption is enabled.
End of story. We keep people in their boxes with just enough food and other things to keep them alive – just so they don’t rebel and challenge the capacity of the top-end-of-town to go on their merry way pillaging national resources and generated income.
Social control – BIG time.
If they want a better material existence then they can do a bit of work! But haven’t the robots taken all the jobs?...Bill Mitchell – billy blog
Why are CEOs now supporting basic income guarantees?
Bill Mitchell | Professor in Economics and Director of the Centre of Full Employment and Equity (CofFEE), at University of Newcastle, NSW, Australia