People's Democracy

(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)


No. 16

April 26, 2009


Profit Making Is The Be-All And End-All In A Capitalist Society

G Mamatha

AND I thought the society would sympathise with me when I lose my job owing to these bad times of recession, and if possible, try and help me cope up with its support. But never, even in the wildest of my dreams, have I ever dreamt that the agony and suffering I undergo on losing my job would also become a source of profit making for these profit mongers. This is what an American programme titled, 'Somebody's Gotta Go,' a reality TV show is about to do. It will show a company struggling to stay afloat in these dire times and ask the employees to vote each other out and choose a colleague to fire. What a cruel and inhuman way of making money out of human misery! What can be more sinister than turning the destruction of livelihoods into light-hearted, prime-time entertainment?

The executive of this sick programme produced by the Fox network says, “We're always trying to find the next thing that is topical and timely in the zeitgeist. What could be more current than the financial crisis and dealing with the realities of losing jobs?" Yes, true, for you, there is no other relation between man and man, 'than naked self-interest, than callous cash payment.' You will not hesitate even for a moment to do a reality show on people starving and dying too. The bourgeois culture can go to any extent, even to prey on people’s misery. Marx has long back said that money debases all humans and turns them into goods. Money is the universal value of everything. It is a "common whore of mankind". "Money! Money's the curse of man, none greater! That's what wrecks cities, banishes men from home, tempts and deludes the most well-meaning soul, pointing out the way to infamy and shame . . ." That is why when crores of people were losing jobs across the world, the bosses of the financial institutions who were at the centre of the present crisis had no shame in taking home hefty pay packages as bonus.

Dante would have found the worst horrors in his Inferno surpassed in this industry’. Reality TV tried to show 'live death', courtesy the late Jade Goody in Britain before moving to this sadism of live coverage of people getting sacked. A mid-19th century British trade unionist said of capitalism that an "insatiable greed for profit is inherent in the very nature of capital. With adequate profit, capital is very bold ... 100 percent will make it ready to trample on all human laws; 300 percent and there is not a crime at which it will scruple, not a risk it will not run, even to the chance of its owner being hanged." (Quoted by Karl Marx in ‘Capital,’ Volume 1). In a capitalist society, the mainstream media cannot but resemble such features of capitalism as the material base determines the ideological superstructure.

In another instance, Susan Boyle who became famous with a TV programme in Britain was offered $1 million to lose her virginity on camera by an entertainment company. That the bourgeois culture can stoop down to any levels is amply demonstrated when Engels says refuting the charge of the bourgeoisie that the Communists would introduce community of women, “The bourgeois sees his wife a mere instrument of production. He hears that the instruments of production are to be exploited in common, and, naturally, can come to no other conclusion that the lot of being common to all will likewise fall to the women.’ The capitalist society treats women as objects and makes profits out of their commodification.

In our country too, we have seen the media’s role during Mangalore attacks, Mumbai terror attacks, when the moral police dug up pitches, when young people were attacked during Valentine’s Day etc. When tragedy was unfolding in Mumbai, the TV channels were over-excited and showed everything as if it were a ‘live war reporting’, although wars aren’t reported in this manner either. The news channels wanted highest TRP in these troubled times too. They showed the positions of police, commandos and officials. Celebrity reporters asked their cameramen to zoom on everything as they lay on the ground trying to sensationalise the news and create a general hysteria, jingoism and panic without bothering to think through the consequences of what they're saying. In the Mangalore incident, the whole thing was orchestrated with precision with cameramen waiting for the ‘action’ to begin. Naturally, such would be the state of affairs when profits alone become the sole criterion of every action and the general well being given a go-bye.

For the media led by the big bourgeoisie ‘nothing exists in this world, except for the sake of money, itself not excluded. It knows no bliss save that of rapid gain, no pain save that of losing gold. In the presence of this avarice and lust of gain, it is not possible for a single human sentiment or opinion to remain untainted’. So what if people are losing their livelihood and are paying for the wrongs committed by the capital, the media will yell “And yet there is a great deal of money made here, good morning, sir.”