Capitalism and philanthropy are not at odds in a world where benign genocide proceeds apace.
Capitalism and philanthropy need some definition, along with privilege, power and hypocrisy.
None are words that find much play in today’s media, but that may change. The text for this page might well be an aphorism of Karl Kraus: “Father forgive them, for they know what they do!”
Thanks to our media, benign genocide is never unconscious. It is the object of gravely cheerful commiseration.
Yes, let’s define some terms.
The cumulative power and decisions of those in charge of vehicles dedicated to producing a profit for stockholders.
These vehicles or corporations are comparable to major nation states. They have the capacity to obtain favorable laws and to control key policies.
Most important of all: In the face they present to the world, these entities validate a culture which is itself tiered in terms of acceptable levels of privilege. There is the top heavy top where the bulk of control resides, the insecure middle and the devil take the bottom.
Capitalism provides enough perks and narcotics to the top to enable it to write off the lives of the bottom with impunity. And where capitalism fails, philanthropy often fills in the gaps.
Philanthropy is not merely the congress of institutions that passes as philanthropic. Philanthropy is the sum total of all eleemosynary efforts. Including governments, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), 501(c)3 not-for-profit institutions, churches, synagogues, mosques, voluntary associations — even clearly ambiguous arms of governance such as prison guards and police and armies.
Philanthropy is the sum total of educational, medical, environmental, and all other institutions and communities established to accomplish those things which capitalist enterprise professes to be, or is actually, unable to do.
Philanthropy’s most conspicuous feature is that is is incapable of doing enough to correct the injustices that capitalism creates.
Capitalism and philanthropy operate in partnership, and their survival is ensured by a combination of simple power, the privileges it assumes by custom and right, and the semi-conscious or otherwise-rationalized hypocrisy by which it escapes serious confrontation with the truth.
To understand this, an example is in order: Let’s look at how this plays out in terms of the culture of the New York Times, which must be dubbed the dominant informational medium of the ASCENDENT CAPITALIST PHILANTHROPIC CULTURE. The dominant message of the Times, in both its printed paper and its TV commercials, is one of upward mobility. The ways and possessions of the well-to-do are made palatable by a substantial suspension of critical faculties.
Disparities within the metropole are dealt with by a feature at Christmas called Neediest Cases. The paper is rife with features and articles which essentially commend or accept the payment of high salaries, the purchase of high-ticket items and the living of a Good Life.
This life is defined as one that only the upwardly-mobile can even contemplate.
The vaunted Times news product is a philanthropic element within a sea of blatent underlining of the dominant and ascendent culture built upon BENIGN GENOCIDE.
(All institutions associated with philanthropy have internal tensions, engendered by the obvious idiocy involved in giving assent to the sort of affluence that is the cultural Emperor’s clothing worn by the privileged group. But these merely serve to create a deflecting sort of drama within the institutions, manifested in endless speculation about various hierarchical postings and positioning, down to analysis of that people said and what body lingo they put out.)
BACK TO THE TIMES: Issues are defined within the envelop of an accepted state of affairs in which the millions who will receive NO EDUCATION or NO HEALTH CARE or NO FOOD or NO PROTECTION AGAINST HIV AIDS have no standing at all — either because the problem is too horrible to contemplate, even intellectually, or because it is rarely front page news or because it is, at a certain point, inimical to the maintenance of the dominant culture.
The Times’ defense against this sort of “simplistic” analysis is that it is seen as a bastion of anti-Christian liberalism by the Genet-like puppets of the right. This is merely the manifestation of the internal tension dynamic on a somewhat wider stage. Ultimately the powers within both seemingly polar opposites work to support the same hypocritical status quo.
HYPOCRISY is a hiding or suppression of the truth. Jesus made hypocrisy, particularly religious hypocrisy, the key sin because he recognized, in all probability, that human beings have always had the theoretical power to act wisely and decently. When they do not, it is because it is more pleasurable at some point to hide the truth and grasp the comfort and privilege, elaborating a garment in the form of the CULTURE to hide our nakedness.
It is not as if, in the Times, or anywhere else, we do not have ample indication of what the problem is. It is the way in which a grasp of the truth is overwhelmed by the flood of daily material that is more appealing to the mind that is comfortable within the great system of CAPITALISM AND PHILANTHROPY.
We can spend millions and millions generating stories about abductions of cute blond children and have no care whatsoever for millions and millions of brown and black children who are already under a death sentence because no powerful global sentiment exists to resolve their problem or the problems that future generations will have as the result of doing nothing.
We can support, via philanthropy, which has many guises and aspects, academic inquiry into every sort of horrendous past practice or event, in order to create theories to explain everything from violence to forms of worship, but under the seal of BENIGN GENOCIDE these enquiries become part of the background music of lemminglike play in the fields of the Lord.
Thorstein Veblen, in The Higher Learning, illuminates an aspect of what makes for genign genocide:
As bearing on the case of the American universities, it should be called to mind that the businessmen of this country, as a class, are of a notably conservative habit of mind. In a degree scarcely equalled in any community that can lay claim to a modicum of intelligence and enterprise, the spirit of American business is a spirit of quietism, caution, compromise, collusion, and chicane.
It is not that the spirit of enterprise or of unrest is wanting in this community, but only that, by selective effect of the conditioning circumstances, persons affected with that spirit are excluded from the management of business, and so do not come into the class of successful businessmen from which the governing boards are drawn.
American inventors are bold and resourceful, perhaps beyond the common run of their class elsewhere, but it has become a commonplace that American inventors habitually die poor; and one does not find them represented on the boards in question.
American engineers and technologists are as good and efficient as their kind in other countries. but they do not as a class accumulate wealth enough to entitle them to sit on the directive board of any self-respecting university, nor can they claim even a moderate rank as “safe and sane” men of business.
American explorers, prospectors and pioneers can not be said to fall short of the common measure in hardihood, insight, temerity or tenacity; but wealth does not accumulate in their hands, and it is a common saying, of them as of the inventors, that they are not fit to conduct their own (pecuniary) affairs; and the reminder is scarcely needed that neither they nor their qualities are drawn into the counsels of these governing boards.
The wealth and the serviceable results that come of the endeavours of these enterprising and temerarious Americans habitually inure to the benefit of such of their compatriots as are endowed with a “safe and sane” spirit of “watchful waiting,” — of caution, collusion and chicane. There is a homely but well-accepted American colloquialism which says that “The silent hog eats the swill.”