Capitalism And Economic System: Joseph Heller’s Satire In Catch 22

1667 words - 7 pages

Capitalism is an economic system where a country’s production, distribution of goods and services, for profit are controlled by private owners in a competitive free market. Capitalism is the economic system that the United States has always been using and is commonly associated with the American Dream; where anyone can become rich and successful regardless of background and environment. In Joseph Heller’s satire, Catch-22, Heller satirizes multiple vice and follies that exists in the United States such as religion and bureaucracy of the U.S government. One of Heller’s criticism of society, capitalism, is still a prevalent issue to this day. In Catch-22, the squadron’s mess officer of the U.S Army Air corps in Pianosa, Milo Minderbinder, is a satire of a modern businessman and a character that Heller uses to expose how dangerous the profit-mentality of capitalism can be. Heller’s text in challenging a specific vice or folly through satire proved to be exceptionally effective as today’s current issues continue to mimic those in Catch-22.
Milo Minderbinder is a man that has no allegiance to any country or moral and is only dedicated on profit. Milo’s role as a mess officer started off with the intention of feeding the men with the best food he could give, but eventually becomes a syndicate; Milo & Minderbinder Enterprises; where goods are transported through planes without regards of the safety of the men that support it. When Milo and the other men in the army arrive to a hotel in Cairo, Milo purchases all the Egyptian cotton believing that it was a great business deal. Only to soon find out that he cannot sell the cotton because it is not in demand and can ruin his business. To solve the problem, Milo devises a plan to get rid of the cotton by landing another contract with the Germans to bomb his own camp which leads to dozens of men wounded and killed during the attack. Milo, then reveals he profit he made to the men and he is forgiven by most of the men in the camp. Afterwards, when Yossarian sits naked in a tree grieving over Snowden’s funeral. Milo climbs up the tree to talk to him about his cotton and has the audacity to try and convince him to eat his chocolate-covered cotton that has no nutritional value and are bland. Yossarian criticizes Milo for selling his chocolate-layered cotton when he questions “But it’s indigestible….It will make the sick, don’t you understand?” Milo was aware of the fact, but was blinded by his drive for fortune and saw nothing morally wrong with his health-threatening attempt to make profit. When Milo takes an attempt to feed the squadron his indigestible food, Seltzer indicates that Heller’s intent is to stress that Milo’s “ruthlessly capitalistic commitments do not, and cannot support life” (105).
Business in the modern society functions in the same way as well as most well-known companies sell products that have little value for high prices. Apple is an American corporation well known for its music,...

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