By John R. HallIn 1953 at the age of 5, I was positive that I’d grow up to be Superman. When George Reeves paid his weekly visit to the family television set I was ready. With a dish towel cape, hands upon my hips, wearing an invincible expression, I was ready to battle the bad guys with truth, justice, the American way, incredible strength, and an unparalleled flying technique.
But even Superman had his Kryptonite. Now, 62 years later, my Achilles’ heel turned out to be fair skin. Too many severe sunburns in the Sonoran Desert came back to haunt. Basal cell carcinoma now decorated my upper lip.
The procedure to remove this face invader was Mohs Surgery. The ugly little mass was sliced away, I was bandaged and sent home to fret for two weeks. The lab results were positive. Why do they call it positive when it is determined that cancer is eating your skin? I returned to the clinic where the doctor sliced away much of the tissue surrounding the affected area for further testing. The skin was examined and more cutting was found necessary to get rid of the voracious little beast. Second time was a charm and I was stitched up and sent on my merry way. Cancer free.
While sitting in the waiting room of the cancer clinic I had lots of time to reflect. Looking around at the poor miserable bandaged patients, I remembered my old high school friend Daniel’s words. “Mankind is a cancer on the universe.” Which made me start thinking about one of mankind’s most caustic inventions: Capitalism. Why? My mind has a mind of its own.
But it’s wrong to call capitalism an invention. Capitalism has existed since the dawn of man. The difference between socialism and capitalism is simply a choice between thoughtful sharing and selfish hoarding. Living in a pack or as a lone wolf. And the questions must be asked: Should the few profit at the expense of the many? Is a society of sustained sharing even possible, given the human tendency to lie, cheat, and steal for the sake of personal comfort? Can we live in harmony with our pretty blue planet, or are we doomed to exploit and lay ruin in the name of short term profit? Good questions, and the future of all remaining life forms on earth will depend upon how we answer.
The carcinoma of capitalism gnaws away and eventually devours everything it touches. In its present extreme form of corporatism it has taken control of most of the planet, and hungers for more. The malignancy won’t rest until it has consumed everything in its path. Like cancer, capitalism is voracious, unforgiving, and unless stopped in its tracks brings only death and destruction to its host.
Socialist societies, as a rule, don’t wage wars against their neighbors. That is the job of capitalism, and no nation on earth can ever hope to match the accomplishments of the USA when it comes to warfare for profit. Since my birth the land of the free has waged about one war per annum. 60 to 70, depending on how much destruction constitutes a bona fide war. There is an official procedure which is always followed. Lies are told to the American public to justify mass-murder and theft of resources. The “enemy” country is bombed into oblivion. A new USA-friendly dictator is placed in the position of power. The demolished country is rebuilt by the very hands that trashed it, leaving the people in debt to their attackers for eternity. National resources are privatized and sold off to American capitalists. The conquered country remains subservient to the USA if it knows what’s good for it.
As Arundhati Roy says in War Talk:
Never counted in the costs of war are the dead birds, the charred animals, the murdered fish, incinerated insects, poisoned water sources, destroyed vegetation. Rarely mentioned is the arrogance of the human race toward other living things with which it shares this planet. All these are forgotten in the fight for markets and ideologies. This arrogance will probably be the ultimate undoing of the human species.
There’s big money in war. The symbiotic relationship between government (the wagers of war) and capitalists (the profiteers of war) was recently spelled out in the Republican debate by the poster boy for capitalism; Donald Carcinoma Trump. Yes, Virginia, we do wage wars so Boeing, Raytheon, and General Electric can keep cranking those profit numbers in the billions. We’ve even created a new business model with the advent of corporate mercenary armies. But rest assured that your local representatives are being well compensated for their decision to drop more bombs on Syria.
It’s obvious now that Trump will soon be silenced for pointing out the obvious, bringing to light and questioning the basic goodness of the system of bought politicians and wars for profit. John F. Kennedy paid dearly for doing his level best to avoid wars with Cuba and Russia. If Trump is lucky, only his character will be assassinated.
But waging wars is just one of the destructive talents of capitalism. Let’s move on to the agro-chemical industry, the poisoning of earth with massive overdoses of Glyphosate and other ‘suspected’ carcinogens, the force-feeding of the public with untested GMO frankenfoods, the bullying and ruination of small farmers, the massive farm subsidies given to caustic corporations such as Monsanto and Syngenta in exchange for their undying support for all politicians who tow the line. Those who refuse to tow the line can count on very short political careers. Aloha Rainbow Papayas…the sweet taste of payola.
Let’s go to school now. The public school system which once served all American children is well into the process of being sold off to the highest bidders. ‘Free’ tax-payer funded schools are being closed wherever possible, and are being replaced by a voucher system. The new fleet of shiny corporate charter schools break teachers’ unions, replacing qualified educators with minimum wage technicians. It is, of course, becoming increasingly obvious why this is happening, whose palms are being greased, who will profit and who will suffer. America’s children are being thrown under the bus while the fat cats get fatter. And the cancer grows.
Been in prison lately? How’d that private prison treat you? Ever wonder why the USA has 5% of the world population and 25% of the prisoners? Investigative journalist Chris Hedges can tell you just about more than you can stomach. The Prison-Industrial Complex; America’s system of neo-slavery. Where private prison corporations in conjunction with fascist organizations like ALEC write draconian laws, designed to incarcerate (enslave) a disproportionate number of poor black and brown people. Then vulture corporations ‘hire’ the convicts at fifty cents an hour to do their bidding. Cheaper and more efficient than outsourcing jobs. Now there’s a tumor just begging for a radical mastectomy.
Next let’s lump mining, drilling, and manufacturing into one filthy pile together. These guys are the pros at every conceivable form of pollution. All the rules of capitalism apply here. Bribe the politicians and the earth is yours to do with as you please. Dump your mining slag in the nearest stream. Spill your oil into any ocean. Frack to your heart’s content and damn the flammable drinking water. Fill the skies with your factory emissions. Don’t worry about it. All the empty suits you own in D.C. are hard at work eliminating the EPA and denying man-made climate change.
Let’s see who else is hosting the cancer of capitalism. How about the healthcare/pharmaceutical industry? It has been suggested that most of these folks are in the disease management business, and care nothing about actual healthcare. Doctors get nice kickbacks from their favorite pharmaceutical reps for pawning off their highly questionable products on unsuspecting sick folks. ‘Cure’ is indeed a four letter word. There’s no profit in it. A prominent Detroit cancer doctor was recently found guilty of misdiagnosing his patients with cancer in order to give them expensive, unpleasant, and even life-threatening treatments.
Come to think of it, that’s why my mind wandered to my old pal Daniel, his theory about mankind being a cancer on the universe, and, of course, capitalism while sitting on pins and needles in my cancer doctor’s waiting room. Was this new hole in my face really carcinoma or simply money in the bank. I try not to believe the worst, but in a capitalist system you really can’t trust anyone. And even Superman’s x-ray vision can’t tell what evil lurks in the minds of men.