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+3 votes
This question is in relation to my question about "What is Capitalism ?" I notice when people do ever criticize Capitalist ideas, they seem to focus mostly (entirely?) on corporations.

Maybe my question can be thought of as "How can I get people to go beyond anti-corporate capitalism towards the whole idea/belief system of Capitalism ?"

Even right-winger conservatives can be critical of corporations and love The Capitalism.
by (8.2k points)
i think people focus on corporations because they're focusing on the practical side of the definition, vs the philosophical side; the practical is less arguable, more obvious, more accepted.
just a guess.
Probably for the same reason that when a cop kills an unarmed kid they talk about "bad apples" so they don't have to think about the minor detail that cops have always killed the odd peasant to keep the rest in line - it's their job.
Modern civilisation is based on a mass-delusion; we've been conditioned from birth to believe an unbelievable web of lies, to challenge that delusion is to confront one's fundamental self-conception and one's place in the world,  a traumatic journey for those not already traumatized by the ugly truths underlying the delusions.
There's probably some fancy psychological term for this, but basically, humans are really good at pretending to not see the shit they don't want to see.  Even if it's about to step out of the forest and rip their throat open; funny how that works.

You can probably think of a dozen similar examples.
clod- that reminds me how in one of derek jensens book "culture of make believe" he talks about a psychological experiment that was done where they tested really religous people vs. non-religous people. They were all shown a picture with a breast exposed (or some sort of sexual exposure, im just paraphrasing this here) and the people in the religious group didn' "notice" this part of the picture
I remember seeing something where they dressed a guy up in a gorrilla suit and have him walk across the crosswalk during rush hour traffic.  (don't know if it was a psych experiment or a comedy program, much crossover there ...)  Anyway, the guy in the monkey suit walks by, and most of the drivers just sit there and stare thru him - no response.

1 Answer

+4 votes
I think it's a lowest common denominator thing.  The idea that corporations are corrupting democracy is something that appeals to a very broad audience, and it's a political language that everyone speaks - it's one of the dominant memes in this generation's public narrative/dialogue.  The disproportionate power of corporations over the political processes of representative democracy has deformed it in a very obvious and (if you're a fan of rep-dem) egregious way, that threatens the social class that's meant to be its bedrock - 'the middle class'.  The Battle of Seattle, the tooing-and-frowing of campaign finance legislation, the Occupy movement and plenty of other things have solidified this meme's place at the forefront of the public political consciousness over the last couple of decades.  

Focusing on the role of corporations in deforming the political power of 'the people' allows a massively diverse spectrum of people to speak a common language of criticism, and allows them to do that without  having to involve/challenge the other aspects of capitalism that they might have a stake in (eg. property rights).  Furthermore the specifics of this critical narrative means its participants to voice their grievances without feeling compelled to actually do much about them -  corporations are faceless, impersonal engines, and so it's easy to resign your political agency because they can't be effectively confronted with the traditional, sanctioned forms of protest (but hey, what can be?).

As for getting people to expand their anti-capitalist horizons, that's a difficult question, and I think it depends very much on who you're trying to encourage, the locus of criticism has to be something directly relevant to their day-to-day lives.  If you don't ground your criticism of capitalism in how it tangibly fucks with our individual shit then you just end up moralising, which turns people off.  The idea that has resonated the most with my non-anarchist friends is that regardless of how much political power corporations have, work/employment is the same; we have so little control over the most basic aspects of our lives - what we do and how much time we spend doing it.  Capitalism/democracy promises most that if they work hard enough they can forge a career in something fulfilling and enjoyable, and because that's not even remotely on the horizon of what's possible for my friends (and the vast majority of people), it's clear to them that capitalism is a terrifying waste of their irreplaceable time. 
by (6.3k points)
It's actually not particular to this generation; it's populism pure and simple, which in the US has always lent itself to right-wing ideas and practices.
yosemite - great answer.

It always struck me how a person on the street (theoretically) is protected by civil rights law, but as soon as you step into your workplace or school you forfeit most of it.  You do what they say, when they say, are subjected to constant surveillance and communications interceptions, even your body isn't spared (you have to piss in the cup to keep your job), and on and on.  From an anarchist criticism (or just critical thinking) this is pretty plain and not surprising; but from a framework of laws and rights and the rest - this should be shocking, step across the threshold from the 21st to the 18th century.
I like how you mentioned the whole issue of having a "common language". This goes back to the idea of the public secret, that everyone is stressed and miserable everyday but no one talks about it because "that's just the way it is". Funny how educational institutions and the media have "informed" us so much about life that they're robbed our language for talking about it