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Truthout - August 20, 2019

"If you find yourself underwhelmed with confidence at the sudden turning of this particular worm, you are in good company. The idea that a bunch of hyper-wealthy corporate CEOs are prepared to throw sand in the gears of a system that has served them so well is harder to swallow than a shard of hot glass."

Suffice it to say, I believe a group of CEOs is going to reform U.S.-style capitalism about as much as I believe Donald Trump’s estimations of inauguration crowd sizes. It is within the realm of infinite galactic possibility that they truly mean well, but smart money says they know the popular resentment needle is buried deep in the red.

These people see pitchforks on the horizon, the inevitable endgame throughout history wherever and whenever economic inequality has grown so flagrantly gross. Thus, they offer this thin gruel to pretend at reform while lobbying against the public good behind walls fortified by fathomless greed and bottomless wealth.

The systemic cruelty of U.S.-style capitalism BRT would dabble at “reforming” has foundations that stretch far beyond the festival of corporate greed that marred the last quarter of the 20th century and scarred the first decades of the 21st. It is as old as the institution of slavery in this country.

Consider The New York Times‘s recent essay, “In Order to Understand the Brutality of American Capitalism, You Have to Start on the Plantation,” published on August 14. Before there were banks as we understand them today, before New York City became a global financial juggernaut, before the middle class became familiar with the concept of a mortgage, there was chattel slavery and a U.S. economy based on the relative worth of human beings trapped in forced bondage:

Those searching for reasons the American economy is uniquely severe and unbridled have found answers in many places (religion, politics, culture). But recently, historians have pointed persuasively to the gnatty fields of Georgia and Alabama, to the cotton houses and slave auction blocks, as the birthplace of America’s low-road approach to capitalism.
If today America promotes a particular kind of low-road capitalism — a union-busting capitalism of poverty wages, gig jobs and normalized insecurity; a winner-take-all capitalism of stunning disparities not only permitting but awarding financial rule-bending; a racist capitalism that ignores the fact that slavery didn’t just deny black freedom but built white fortunes, originating the black-white wealth gap that annually grows wider — one reason is that American capitalism was founded on the lowest road there is.

This essay should be required reading in full for each and every person on the North American continent. The morals and practices adhered to by the CEOs of BRT and the other corporate capitalists of the United States were formed in the cotton fields of the South, and in the textile mills of the North where the product of that misery gave rise to the first factories ever known. Thomas Jefferson, author of the Declaration of Independence, mortgaged 150 enslaved people to fund the construction of Monticello. Before it was a center of world finance, Wall Street hosted the Municipal Slave Market.

Slavery in the U.S. touches every aspect of the way this country functions, including our brutal version of capitalism. Some of these titans of industry may not know the roots of their surpassing prosperity — this history has been deeply and purposefully buried literally for centuries — but it is fact more than 400 years in the making. A bunch of corporate CEOs tinkering around the outside edges of the crisis that is U.S.-style capitalism itself quite simply will not get it done. ...
Read full article at Truthout