Continuing after “State Educational Policies and Ranking System,” this SMP Compendium entry will discuss about the distinctions between how Ranks are conferred under Liberal Capitalism and how they are done under Socialism. It will delve into the details of the motivations driving Consumerism and why this sort of behavior is going to eventually be curtailed under the Work-Standard as the Keynesian model of Consumer Spending falls with Government Spending. While multiple SMP Compendium entries are discussed here, the general theme remains the same.
Arbeit (Work) is always a misfortune in everyday life under Liberal Capitalism. This is because the ideology knows no distinction whatsoever on “what is Meaningful Work?” and “what is Meaningless Work?”. Liberal Capitalism deems Arbeit itself as a means to the end, the end being the Accumulation of Kapital within the Total Mobilization of Production for Profit. Every conceivable means of garnering the most Kapital, whether it is legal or even illegal, are justified by that ideology. There are many different examples and all of them are intended as part of denoting somebody’s Rank in a Market/Mixed Economy and Parliamentary Democracy.
There may be people conjuring up plans on how to “retire early” with the greatest amount of Kapital by their thirties (at the earliest) or their fifties (at the latest). Some are trying to “save enough Kapital for retirement” as a pensioner, a lifestyle choice promoted by Social Democracies with generous Welfare Capitalist programs like France or Sweden. There may be people who flaunt how much Kapital they have and look down on others with less Kapital. If that same analysis was done by a think tank or propagandist for Liberal Capitalism, the analysis will consistently assume that those with less Kapital are ‘lazy’, are ‘unwilling to work’, and are ‘welfare queens’ dependent on the ‘nanny state’. This sort of language exposes how much Liberal Capitalism relies on a freedom-security dialectic, even though true freedom and security dwell within oneself.
Various SMP Compendium entries also cover this recurring theme from various points of view. In Part II of “Taxation and the Work Standard,” one may find Marxist Socialists and some non-Marxist Socialists speaking of “Wealth Inequality” and advocating for policies like Progressive Taxation to receive the most pleasure in inflicting the most pain on the wealthy. In “Japan’s Lost Decades and the Rise of Zombie Firms and Zombie Banks” as well as Part I of “Financial Markets and the Quest for their Work-Standard Alternative,” investors at a financial market will invest into something that they believe will reap the most Kapital, even if it causes an economic bubble. In “State Educational Policies and Ranking System,” it can manifest among young people as a misguided desire to take on certain jobs which they are unqualified for insofar as their real motivations are driven by Kapital. In “CMEA’s Fixed Exchange Rates and its Hard Currency Shops,” Kapital will bring down Socialist nations with Currencies unpegged to the Work-Standard.
In Part III of “Taxation and the Work-Standard,” Kapital influences how young men and women interact with each other outside the workspace and even when they become engaged (and an overriding factor in their marriage if it ends in a divorce as the custody of their share of Kapital). And in “State and the Socialist Conception of Property,” it should be noted that someone’s Rank under Liberal Capitalism can be denoted by “Net Worth,” “Private/Common Property,” “Commodities,” and LCFIs (Liberal Capitalist Financial Instruments) like ‘Blue Chip Stocks’ or ‘AAA Bonds’. To understand how the concept of Rank coincides with Property, please consult that entry for further information.
Since the world order remains under Liberal Capitalism or else under the subversive influences of this ideology, it can be argued that a sizeable majority of humanity encounters countless different examples of Kapital and Schuld being the decisive factor of daily life. One may be inclined to agree with Mark Fisher in Capitalist Realism: Is There No Alternative? about how “it is easier to imagine an end to the world than an end to capitalism.” But propaganda is propaganda insofar as another, albeit subtle, variation of this occurrence is when advertisements manipulate authentic choices by experiencing any advertisement which force a false need to display one’s social status. This particular way of determining Rank by someone’s purchases of certain goods and services by means of Consumerism and Consumer Spending is not new. The American economist and sociologist Thorstein Veblen around the turn of the 20th century once described this phenomenon as “Conspicuous Consumption.”
Conspicuous Consumption describes any act of purchasing specific goods and services that are deemed “luxuries” with the Intent of demonstrating somebody’s Rank vis-à-vis Kapital. If someone is able to freely spend large sums of Kapital, the conventional response is to assume they either have a lot of Kapital or else can borrow the same amount from their bank because of a high Credit Score. Just as one can pay with actual banknotes and coins, one can also pay with credit cards and cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin or Ethereum. The real distinction here in regard to Conspicuous Consumption is whether the choice was actually of somebody’s own volition or whether it was the result of exposure to advertising and social pressures. The implication is that not every choice everyone makes in their economic life under Liberal Capitalism is going to be their own; it may be done in order to express their Rank based on how much Kapital they have.
Thus, it begs the question: how does one distinguish between the purchases from authentic choices and those from inauthentic choices vis-à-vis the Work-Standard? Are there any discernible differences in the VCS Economy, where Arbeit and Geld are the decisive factors in everyone’s Vocations? If so, how does one know what those differences are and why does this necessitate the implement of an official Ranking System by the State?
Imagine someone with $100,000,000 USD in Kapital. They might spend it on their personal needs and they may decide to spend some of it on taxes, insurance, mortgages, loans, and others that are characteristic of Liberal Capitalist finance. They may be exposed to certain advertisements on any mode of communications or exposed to stories of those wealthier than they are and may be compelled to spend their Kapital, informing others that they own $100,000,000 USD.
An example might be a “Black Diamond iPhone” for $15,000,000 USD, which is only expensive because its appearances appeal to those with Kapital. It could be a $10,000 USD three-piece business suit or a limited-edition, high-performance sports car like a Bugatti for $750,000 USD that looks nice, drives fast and is very impractical. They may decide to purchase a yacht, complete with a small crew and sail up and down the coastline against a late afternoon sunset. They might be interested in hand-rolled Cuban cigars or Persian rugs because of their Scarcity due to US-led Economic Sanctions against Cuba and Iran respectively. Scarcity also affects the Conspicuous Consumption of Kapital on decades-old champagne and whiskey. They may decide to go on vacations in a foreign nation and stay at the presidential suite in one of the luxurious hotels at its capital. They might buy a solid bar of fine gold, a golf course or even a centuries-old painting by an artist with actual talent and who once had a Vocation which provided them Meaningful Work.
The possibilities that Kapital can be spent to demonstrate one’s Rank under Liberal Capitalism are as many as people are willing to bear the burdens of Schuld and chase after the most Kapital. To know Conspicuous Consumption is to realize that all of those preceding examples operate according to a Theory of Value and a corresponding Theory of Money. Since the Work-Standard relies on its own Theory of Value and its own Theory of Money, it is inevitable for the State to eventually introduce a Ranking System, complete with medals, decorations, commendations, promotions and prizes. The State can implement them and the Ranking System as early as the secondary or high school life of a teenager and even posthumously after their passing. The best place to start is in the school life of a teenager and their Socialist Student Economy (SSE).
A teenage recipient attends a formal ceremony with their peers and classmates in attendance. They will step forward to receive their medal. The medal, stored in a display case and held by a member of their student council, may take on the form of a metal badge related to their service within another profession besides their own or as part of their profession within a Vocation. There may been gradations, as many as three different classes. It could be a medal related to an annual vocational competition within their own Vocation, a proficiency badge related to their Vocation or as part of experiences with their peers within youth gatherings at a regional summer camp, or even a special decoration worn around the neck in recognition of exceptional achievements.
That same badge within the same display case may include a letter designating their promotion to a higher Rank and signed by one of the State functionaries supervising the affairs of the SSE. Other decorations may denote the exceptional entry into a secondary profession besides their own. If this same teenager continues with their Vocation for the next four, five, ten, twenty, twenty-five or even thirty years, they may be awarded long-service awards and their ribbons. If they are for instance a teenage girl, a foreigner or a member of a certain religion, their decoration could be a unique award that distinguishes them for their service as part of their SSE. Also, those distinguishable decorations could be related to environmentalism or achievements within certain fields like technology or governance.
The display case may instead contain a letter of commendation from the State functionaries overseeing the affairs of the SSE. Or, rather than a member of the student council handing them a letter, the State functionaries themselves award the recipient with a special commendation medal that the State awarded in recognition of their exceptional talents as a way for them to be an example for their peers and underclassmen to emulate. If they make outstanding achievements like the most contributions of Arbeit within the limitations of their own profession or under specific historical events, special decorations and medals may be awarded for their participation. Should that happen, the ceremony will become more formal for everyone involved and the Ranks of the State functionaries conferring the award will be higher. Finally, the State may confer onto the teenage recipient certain prizes that may be related to their Vocation, their achievements demonstrating contributions to the SSE and the VCS Economy. Ornate ceremonial swords and daggers, silver and gold goblets as trophies, and certain custom-built technologies that distinguish the recipient from the rest of their peers. These prizes are rare occurrences and will always be limited by the State. In fact, these prizes could be part of international competitions and youth sports gatherings as part of a Socialist world order. That sort of thing could happen, and the Work-Standard is more than able to facilitate it. Whatever happens here is going to make a difference in the service record of this aforementioned teenager. They will carry their Rank later in their life until they finally receive the next highest Rank. And if their medal is also awarded to older adults by the State, it will further distinguish their service record.