Capitalism directly causes social injustice. Masters or the employers always believe in maximizing their gains regardless of the consequences to the workers. In the article “Work Rules,” Greider gives an example of a worker who, in spite of working for a company for a very long time, is fired because he refuses to work overtime. It says, “In Baltimore, Maryland, a service technician named Joseph is fired after twenty four years with Bell Atlantic because he refused to work overtime on weekdays…. As a single parent, he had to pick up his kids from school by 6 pm.” (254). This is socially unjust. The company understands that overtime work is usually less expensive. So, it must fully utilize the overtimes in order to maximize the gains and any opposition is dealt with accordingly, regardless of the effects. Democracy gives Joseph a right to either work or not work overtime; however, the materialistic nature of the masters make them believe that they have a right to fire Joseph. As a result, he can not pick up his kids from school. Socially, various problems arise from the longer working hours. The problems affect the individuals, the families -- just like Joseph’s, and the entire society. We are told that the longer working hours results into “several cases of resignation that may feed social resentments and acquisitive envy; the continuing conflicts pitting workers against coworkers; and the deleterious influence upon democracy itself” (Greider 254). All these social evils arise from the materialistic nature of employers, whose main objective is to maximize the gains through the extension of working hours. This similar condition is seen in Bacevich’s “The Real World War IV”. The American society is too materialistic. Basewich says, “It was not the prospect of making do with less that sustained American-style liberal democracy, but the promise of more. … What Americans demanded from their government was freedom, defined as more choice, more opportunity, and above all, greater abundance, measured in material terms. That abundance depended on assured access to cheap oil – and lots of it.” ( Basewich 53). This notion drives America to control the oil flow from Middle East so as to get access to abundant supply of cheap oil. Any opposition to this can make the US to punish the recalcitrant countries by withholding aid or getting its allies to impose sanctions. It can also use military force in order to achieve the above interest. The Americans act in a similar manner as the employers in Greider’s article, focusing only on their material benefit and causing social harm. As a result of materialism, a wide gap is created between the masters and the servants. This gap leads into dependency, as the servants are always forced to depend on their masters in order to earn a living. In both articles, the “masters” create an economic gap that makes the “servants” to continue depending on them.
The dependency created by capitalism is quite dangerous as the servants become direct slaves of their masters. The “master- Servant” relationship creates an unbalanced distribution of power in which the masters take advantage of their workers knowing that the workers are dependent on the income that the masters provide.
In pursuit of ‘earning a leaving’ most Americans go to work for someone else and thereby accept the employers right to command their behavior in intimate details. … People implicitly forfeit claims to self-direction and are barred from participating in the important decisions that govern their daily efforts. .. Basic rights are effectively suspended, consigned to the control of others. (252).
The workers depend on their employers in order to earn a living. They must therefore adhere to the employers’ regulations and commands or face the wrath --like in the above case of Joseph who disobeys the commands and is fired. According to Greider, democracy in the workplace is the absence of authoritarianism and the hierarchical dominance which gives the employees stunted rights as the employers enjoy expansive powers over them. It’s stated, “… workplaces are factories of authoritarianism polluting our democracy.” (Greider 254). The most important thing that the employers have failed to realize is that they are the ones who depend on workers the most. It is purely through the efforts of the workers that the employers make profit. The US depicts a new aspect of dependency as revealed in “The Real World War IV.” The Americans know that they depend on other countries for oil. They also understand the adverse effects of this dependency. However, instead of being passive like the workers, America becomes aggressive. It does not want its dependency to weaken it. Americans decide to use force so that they can be less affected by the whims of the oil suppliers. The oil suppliers want to maximize profits, like the employers, and when they see that their customers are actually dependent on their product, they are tempted to take advantage of their power. However, the Americans react in turn by applying force in order to get the oil. This is quite ironical. According to Americans, “Energy dependency was ‘a clear and present danger’ to the nation, threatening the nation’s security as well as its economic well-being. Dealing with this threat was the ‘standard around which we can rally’. ‘On the battlefield of energy, we can seize control again of our common destiny’.” (Bacevich 54). Even though America depends on other countries for oil, it does not want to be vulnerable and submissive to these countries, as opposed to the workers who are fully compliant with the commands of their employers, whom they depend on. As a result, Americans look for alternatives, one of which is to take control over the Persian Gulf. This they achieve with all the means available including the use of military force, which critics refers to as “trading blood for oil”. As a result of the dependency and the use of force, an aspect of inequality, lack of respect, and low self esteem emerges.
America does not respect the oil suppliers. This lack of respect is surprising because the oil suppliers could injure the US in a similar manner as the boss injures the worker by firing him. The US has regained the upper hand by being more powerful than the countries it depends on, and therefore behaving like the boss or the master. Similarly, the employers do not respect their workers, as they regard the workers as lesser beings. The workers have low self esteem, as they believe that they must depend on the employers in order to earn a living. Greider gives several accounts when the workers’ importance is disregarded. The lack of respect for engineers forces them into a strike. It is said, “In Puget Sound, Boeing’s 20,000 engineers and technicians staged a successful forty-day strike, but the central issue was not money. … It really was about respect, respect for what engineers do” (Grieder 256). The engineers understand that what they do is of utmost importance to the company, and they deserve to be respected. Due to technological advances, the engineers feel very low of themselves because companies do not respect their work effort; instead, companies use robots to do the job that engineers are certified for. Their union leader explains, “People matter. Our professionalism matters as well.” (Grieder 256). Even though the engineers are mere workers, they are the very professionals who must be consulted in their respective fields as they possess intimate problem-solving knowledge. However, the decision-makers of Boeing deliberately disregard the importance of the engineers, and design a project which fails in the long run. The engineers do not lack self-esteem, they understand their worth and demand for their right; the right to be respected. This lack of respect and low self esteem is also seen in Bacevich’s “The Real World War IV”. The decisions and actions of America show a great lack of respect for the Persian Gulf nations. America’s failure to negotiate or compromise with the countries it depends on depicts great lack of respect, the very way the employers fail to respect the workers whose efforts they depend on for prosperity. It is said, “The military power of United States is so awesome that it does not need to make compromises or accommodations (unless it chose to do so) with any other nation or groups of countries.” (Basewich 69). This can be termed as “shortsightedness” as the Americans fail to recognize that they are truly dependent on other countries. Instead, America compels countries to have low self esteem, especially due to its military might. It can invade any country and do what it likes without being questioned. As a result, America has “emboldened the enemy, alienated its old allies, and brought its forces close to exhaustion.” This lack of respect to other nations makes America lose its influence, and as a result, the world is soon becoming non-compliant with America as countries develop self esteem. Change is inevitable.
As seen in the two articles, it can be stated categorically that excessive focus on materialistic concerns is the worst enemy of democracy. For a better society, there must be a sudden change from the excess materialistic actions and behaviors. It has caused the society a great deal of harm. As much as it is the reason why America is rich materially, the Americans are not free at all. The loss of freedom goes largely unnoticed because it has formed part of lives of the Americans. Despite the technological advancements, production efficiencies, and the civil protections, the American economic system functions in pre-modern terms: the master-servant relationship, which sets limits of human liberty. This is the main source of the discontents and disorders that accompany the capitalist process in America, regardless of the presence of general prosperity. It is the reason why American workers are faced with inequalities and other social injustices as their lives are confined by the employers. As a culture developed over years, America carries the same notion outside its borders. The materialistic nature and the might of American army makes it believe that it can exploit other countries as long as it satisfies its interests. In so doing, America portrays great lack of respect to the Persian Gulf countries, which it directly depends on for oil. A lot of injustices also arise as the democracy of the host country is interfered with. However, as time goes, the world becomes more and more enlightened and such mistreatments and injustices must certainly come to an end.