So-called “free market” or “unregulated capitalism” is really nothing more than the cancer-stage of capitalism. And that uninhibited cancerous growth has spread, so that now even our political system is infected with the cancer of corporatism.
Donald Trump’s candidacy is an example of how our political system is being eaten alive by the cancer-stage of capitalism.
But to really get what that means, we need to step back and look at the nature of cancer itself. A new study published in “Philosophical Transactions B” titled “Cancer across the tree of life: cooperation and cheating in multicellularity” flushes out how cancer exists across every multicellular organism.
The abstract of the research begins: “Multicellularity is characterized by cooperation among cells...” But cancer, of course, is the opposite of cooperation. It’s when a cell decides it’s going to suck up all the energy and resources of the organism for itself. And it grows continuously until it kills its host.
It’s not a stretch to look at a society – as well as the economic market and the political system that make up society – as a multicellular organism that could easily become infected with an economic or political cancer.
At the base of a society are individuals. Those individuals divide the labor and form specialized groups, because people working together get more done than people working alone.
George Johnson at the New York Times paraphrased Darwin’s proposal of life beginning in “some warm little pond.” He writes: “a few simple chemicals sloshed together and formed complex molecules […] as the primordial cells mutated and evolved, ruthlessly competing for nutrients, some stumbled upon a different course. They cooperated instead, sharing resources and responsibilities and so giving rise to multicellular creatures – plants, animals and eventually us.”
Societies, economies, and governments could be described as the equivalent of humanity ‘evolving’ from single-cell behavior to multicellular behavior. But, just as researchers found that cancer sometimes pops up in every multicellular organism on Earth, our economy has now spawned its own cancer. And Donald Trump’s candidacy is what happens when our economic cancer spreads to our political system.
Johnson writes in the Times: “In a healthy organism a cell replicates only as frequently as needed to maintain the population and allow for modest growth. Cancer cells begin reproducing wildly, consuming more than their share of resources and spewing poisons that degrade the environment and reshape it to their own advantage.”
THAT sounds like corporatism. We can see it in how corporations consume subsidies and take profits while shirking any of the costs of upkeep for the health of the environment or the health of communities.
The same thing happens in a colony of bacteria according to Johnson: “taking advantage of the sustenance and shelter provided by the biofilm, some bacteria will squander resources and thrive at the expense of the others – a microscopic tragedy of the commons.”
Corporations are protected and nurtured by governments and societies: but their singular profit motive encourages them to “thrive at the expense of others.”
“No wonder cancer has become a metaphor for human excess,” Johnson writes, “overpopulation and consumption – environmental pollution – the concentration of resources among a hyperacquisitive 1%”
That’s basically a summary of how unregulated corporatism thrives on consuming more and more in order to produce more and more – not for society’s well being – but their own. At the expense of everything else in a society.
And what happens when the cancer of corporatism realizes that it can only grow as large as our planet’s governments will let them? It spreads to the political system to destroy regulations and taxes that might ensure that corporations and billionaires don’t consume more than their fair share of the society’s resources.
Ever since we opened the flood gates with the rulings in Buckley v. Valeo and Citizens United, the cancer of unchecked greed that first infected capitalism has spread to every level of our political system in the form of anonymous and unregulated campaign donations from corporations like Exxon and billionaires like the Koch Brothers and Sheldon Adelson.
So what about Donald Trump? He is a perfect example of the cancer of greed in our society: taking the profits and resources that he concentrated as a result of his growth within a largely unregulated economy, and he’s using those resources to take over the political system.
So how do we heal from a political cancer? We start out by repealing Citizens United with a constitutional amendment that says that corporations aren’t people and billionaires can’t spend their money to buy politicians or political office.
And then we need to re-instate real financial regulations, like Glass-Stegal and the corporate death penalty, to force corporations to once again serve society rather than just suck up all the money and resources like an economic and political cancer.
Thom Hartmann: What’s the Difference Between Cancer and Donald Trump?