FW: How Capitalism Keeps Us in Check

Craven, Jim jcraven at clark.edu
Mon Feb 4 12:59:07 MST 2002

Start with a cage containing five monkeys. Inside the cage,
hang a banana on a string and place a set of stairs under it.
Before long, a monkey will go to the stairs and start to climb
towards the banana. As soon as he touches the stairs, spray
all of the other monkeys with cold water. After a while,
another monkey makes an attempt with the same result - all the
other monkeys are sprayed with cold water. Pretty soon, when
another monkey tries to climb the stairs, the other monkeys
will try to prevent it.

Now, put away the cold water. Remove one monkey from the cage
and replace it with a new one. The new monkey sees the banana
and wants to climb the stairs. To his surprise and horror, all
of the other monkeys attack him. After another attempt and
attack, he knows that if he tries to climb the stairs, he will
be assaulted.

Next, remove another of the original five monkeys and replace
it with a new one. The newcomer goes to the stairs and is
attacked. The previous newcomer takes part in the punishment
with enthusiasm! Likewise, replace a third original monkey
with a new one, then a fourth, then the fifth.
Every time the newest monkey takes to the stairs, he is
attacked. Most of the monkeys that are beating him have no idea
why they were not permitted to climb the stairs or why they are
participating in the beating of the newest monkey. After
replacing all the original monkeys, none of the remaining
monkeys have ever been sprayed with cold water. Nevertheless,
no monkey ever again approaches the stairs to try for the

Why not?

Because as far as they know that's the way it's always been
done around here.

And that, my friends, is how capitalism actually works to keep you in

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