By Konstantin Wecker
[This article published on February 6, 2014 is translated from the German on the Internet in Konstantin Wecker’s blog, http://hinter-den-schlagzeilen.de/2014/02/06/inhumankapital/
People in capitalist societies should not only consume goods. They should also agree to their own transformation to goods in the sense of the economic exploitation logic. This happens in the course of a merciless reeducation campaign so we internalize those “values” that kill us. This is especially terrible withy children whose indoctrination in consumption, new media and brand loyalty begins when they are very young – without parents or any kind of legal protection of children and young persons stopping the brainwashing (George Rammer).
Poverty and the social gulf dividing society into profiteers and losers are not these in the coalition negotiations. The neoliberal ideology that gave an enormous surge to capitalism over 25 years rules politics. This ideology has been successfully anchored in the souls of many people and influences education and relations as well as the identity of children and youth.
In polls many people massively criticize this system of market-conforming democracy and then vote for it with large majorities. This “cognitive dissonance” is the result of an unparalleled reeducation of society that increasingly identifies with the values and norms that inflict great damage to them. The values and norms are success and efficiency and the ways there are competition and self-management. Powerful authorities work at globally implanting a new identity in the young generation.
Most families have brought “super-nannies” in the family that do not relieve their work with the children but have considerable influence on mental development, thinking and feeling, taste and ideals, life goals and self-representation: TV, Internet, smart-phone and Facebook. From an early age, children are addressants of a barrage of seduction and manipulation. The agents bombard them with all tricks because they know little ones influence parents’ shopping decisions. As Benjamin Barber cites one of these agents, those businesses win in this battle “who best understand the kids, their emotional needs, their fantasies, their dreams and their desires. This knowledge is the most powerful weapon in the arsenal of the marketer who wants to win the hearts of the children.” The children are the casualty of this battle. No child or youth service denounces and prevents this battle.
Agents research the emotional needs and dreams of children. The analysis of kids as consumers focuses on four-year olds, scrutinizes their role as consumers and shopping decision-makers and publicizes the results for marketing and advertising campaigns. The Facebook Corporation is worth billions – not through products but by selling personal and intimate data of young people. With the help of these personality-profiles, corporations can fade in advertising on the net tailored for every individual child.
Children as consumers are the target of this extensive manipulation with the help of sophisticated emotional messages stimulating the senses. However the practical value of brand names, sweet enticements and electronic games do not represent the real attraction. “Consuming today no longer means getting hold of a stimulant or semi-luxury but investing in social membership – which in a consuming society must mean in one’s own “salability,” says the sociologist Zygmunt Bauman (Blatter, 10/2013).
The goal of the “dealer” is reached when the children become dependent on a brand. This inwardly changes the process of training to be a consumer. Children not only consume goods. Rather they have learned to accept that everything only has a value as a commodity. Everything does not have a value in itself. Consumption is carried out quasi as an investment in the I-company or Inc.to manage self-exploitation more effectively. “To become and remain a product that can be sold,” according to Bauman, is the main concern of the beneficiary. They become themselves consumer articles. All products including the number of relations have the objective of raising their own market value. Children and youth must change themselves into a sought-after product in order not to be excommunicated.
When this influencing is successful, young persons are not only available for production. They accept themselves and their abilities as human capital. No protest can be expected from them. Those who cannot keep up in this process of becoming a product and self-marketing cannot expect any grace. Neoliberal capitalism is anxious about training the strong and effective and rewarding “excellence,” not social justice and balance, equal opportunities and promoting the disadvantaged. The dependent receive as much as they are entitled according to this principle: they should not die of starvation. Ultimately we live in a social constitutional state. What is dignity and development of personality? People should strive to organize their self-marketing more effectively. The trick of the political-economic elite dominating public opinion is to individualize and depoliticize t6he results of economic decisions and stylize massive influencing (poverty and inequality, consumer conduct and lifestyles) as “natural” facts, products of autonomous decisions or as solid qualities.
So the circle closes today. The followers of the neoliberal world view and the social-Darwinian view of the person have reached the objective of their desires. Market-persons do not only consume but have internalized the principle of marketing. They have dedicated themselves to being a product that must be exploited. There is neither room nor need for social policy intent on balance. Social policy is annulled. Why should losers be promoted? Why burden winners through higher taxes? Just as art- and sport-sponsoring is always public relations for banks, corporate donations to parties are considered investments bringing profit. The government (and the EU) invest in human capital to make it available to corporations for profitable exploitation; they do not pursue social policy for humane cooperative social life.
On this background, the demand of welfare organizations and UNICEF for education justice seems naïve. “Education should include early and targeted promotion of disadvantaged children,” UNICEF advises the government parties. These parties do not take this advice to heart. For them education is promotion of future achievers and a commodity like everything that surrounds us and that we are ourselves. Germany is entirely prepared to help young persons of other countries – particularly the impoverished states in Southern Europe. They may work here if they are well educated and highly motivated.
The Federal German Labor Office wants to recruit Spanish doctors and Greek engineers. Its central foreign- and technical assistance office also seeks IT-specialists and nurses. German providers of training and further education are supported in the opening of the fast growing international education market. Big businesses like SAP want to lure southern Europe’s skilled labor: “You Greeks and Spaniards, come all of you,” the SZ (Sueddeutsche Zeitung newspaper) caricatured the recruitment efforts. Is German policy hostile to foreigners? No, not when very exploitable workers are involved. That their education was free for us and their training in the homelands leads to further training is regrettable but market-conforming. That is the main thing.
(originally published in Ossietzky 25/2013)
Comments on “Inhuman Capital”
1. Pehi, Feb 6, 2014
All population sectors are infected by this inhuman view of the world. Even older persons who must know better seem helpless and only fiddle around with smart-phones. Every app has to be downloaded to buy the right things. People do not want to see the underlying business model of bringing all rubbish to the man of the house. Thinking is strenuous and we have more and more to think about. But what should be the direction? This doesn’t matter to most. The main thing is that consumption gets going. What should be expected of children when the grandparents are no longer willing to look behind the facades of the exploiters and are lulled to sleep by consumption?
2. eulenfeder, Feb 6, 2014
…very well presented – Mr. Rammer – to persons of the future and even of the present. All individuality is destroyed. I fear that cannot be stopped. When one is older and looks back, then one sees the decline clearly and distinctly. One must be increasingly conservative in order not to be completely brainwashed. Again and again I am amazed how time catches up and confirms the science fiction of the past.
Noam Chomsky, VIDEO: “How to Ruin an Economy,” February 12, 2014, 35 min http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6mhj-j0z-fk
Serge Halimi, “We can’t go on like this,” September 2013 http://mondediplo.com/2013/09/01fiveyearsafter