By Charles Hugh Smith
As the word suggests, cannibalism won’t end well for those consumed by the infinitely insatiable few.
Cannibalize is an interesting word. It is a remarkably graphic way to describe the self-inflicted destruction of a system by stripping previously functional subsystems to sustain the illusion of system functionality.
Here are some examples.
An Air Force which routinely posts photos of its impressive fleet of 100 aircraft has been cannibalizing parts from 80 aircraft to keep 20 flying. This maintains the useful illusion that all 100 aircraft are available for combat when only 20% are functional, and most of those only minimally so.
An enterprise maintains a substantial cash position even as it loses money every quarter by quietly selling off its most valuable assets. This maintains the illusion of financial strength even as the enterprise is being hollowed out.
The system–whatever you choose to call it–is busy cannibalizing itself to the point of collapse. Neoliberal State Capitalism is a pretty accurate description of every major global player’s system because all seek to benefit from the expansion of markets (Neoliberal Capitalism) and financial instruments (Finance Capitalism), and control these markets and instruments to benefit the few in power at the expense of everyone else (state Capitalism).
Turning transparent, open markets into controlled, exploitable “markets” is the ultimate cannibalization of equally-open-to-all market capitalism which is the foundation of the productive distribution of opportunity.
Turning small-scale, localized finance into centralized / globalized hyper-financialization cannibalizes finance to benefit the few with unlimited access to credit, leverage and monopoly. First you borrow vast sums at low rates of interest that are inaccessible to mere mortals, take a corporation private, indebt the company and use the funds to accumulate mountains of derivatives that leverage the debt 10-fold or even 100-fold, then take the corporation public again, goose the stock and then cash out all the leveraged gains.
The newly public company has been stripmined of core assets and burdened by debt. The financiers cannibalized the corporation to benefit themselves at the expense of everyone else with a stake in the business and the future viability of the enterprise.
This cannibalization is not restricted to the financial realm. True virtue–honesty, trustworthiness, the willingness to accept self-sacrifice for the greater good–has been reduced to ashes behind a glossy, fraudulent facade of virtue-signaling, a facade that masks the cannibalization of the system to benefit the self-congratulatory, hypocritical few at the expense of the many.
Health has also been cannibalized to maximize the private gains of the few at the expense of the many. If we define food as natural products high in nutritional content then very little of what’s being presented as “food” actually qualifies as food because its nutritional content is somewhere between abysmally low and non-existent.
Highly processed products are simulacra of food that hijack our hardwired pleasure responses to heavy concentrations of salt, sweets, fat and spice and crunchy/chewy mouthfeel. The nutritional content of these products is so low and the fat-salt-sugar content so high that they are severely damaging to health on multiple levels.
The unwary consumer who stuffs themselves with these simulacra of food (shall we call it “fud”?) feels full even as their body and brain are starved for real nutritional content and real-food fiber.
Everywhere we look, we find a massive cannibalization effort behind every phony facade, a cannibalization that hollows out the functionality and adaptability of core systems to benefit the few at the expense of the many.
Virtue-signaling isn’t virtue, cannibalized aircraft can’t fly, cannibalized enterprises are zombies awaiting incineration and those cannibalized by the “fud” and healthcare industries cannot become healthy because garbage in, garbage out.
As the word suggests, cannibalism won’t end well for those consumed by the infinitely insatiable few. It won’t even end well for the infinitely insatiable few because they’re consuming the last of their prey so voraciously.
In the meantime, enjoy the self-destructive charms of cannibalized functionality and value.
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A Hacker’s Teleology: Sharing the Wealth of Our Shrinking Planet (Kindle $8.95, print $20, audiobook $17.46) Read the first section for free (PDF).
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The Adventures of the Consulting Philosopher: The Disappearance of Drake $1.29 Kindle, $8.95 print); read the first chapters for free (PDF)
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