by Susan Rosenthal
A healthy mind is incompatible with capitalism. Let me explain.
The human brain is a social organ. The brain makes human interaction possible, and the mind results from the complex dance between human beings. Cut off from social relationships, the mind loses its ability to function. We know this from studies of socially-deprived infants and adults who are subjected to isolation or sensory deprivation.
Over the past few thousand years, the human species has undergone an amazing cultural evolution. Our brains have not changed, but how we use them has changed tremendously. As people pooled their experiences and accumulated knowledge, the human mind developed to create new social arrangements and new cultures.
Capitalism blocks this creative process. Knowledge continues to accumulate, but it is not shared. And while some people are moved forward, many more are hurtled backward.
The central problem for capitalism is how to create profit, not how to develop human potential. On the contrary, the more people are deprived, the more wealth can be claimed by the ruling elite. Any form of collectivism, from union organizing to the demand for social services, presents a threat to this system.
To preserve itself, capitalism must stifle human minds. The vast majority aren’t allowed to use their minds to solve social problems. They get to decide only which section of the elite will dominate them.
Minds crumble under such conditions. An ocean of misery results: anger, anxiety, inter-personal conflict and despair. What a waste.
The human mind has infinite potential. And I do mean infinite. There is no limit to the number of ways that we could organize our lives and society.
The average human brain contains approximately 100 billion nerve cells or neurons. Each neuron has about 10,000 connections with its neighbors. When you consider that each of these connections can be turned on or off, the number of possible firing patterns is greater than the number of known particles in the universe. When you add the different ways that each human mind could connect with the other six billion minds on the planet…well, I think you get the picture.
Capitalism has stuck humanity in a giant historical rut and bamboozled us into thinking that this is the best we can do, that we have reached the end of our history. Not so!
We have barely begun to explore our potential. However, if we allow capitalism to hold us back, we never will.
The good news is that we have created capitalism, and we can change our minds and replace it with something much better.