Begone, capitalism! You don’t own me

Written By: - Date published: 7:39 am, October 25th, 2017 - 73 comments
Categories: capitalism, community democracy, Deep stuff, democratic participation, Economy, political alternatives, Privatisation, vision - Tags:

This is a long post that undoubtedly contains many errors and misconception on my behalf; it is my rant against what I see as the single biggest problem of our time: capitalism. My aim is for each and all of us (realistically: some of us) to ponder and decide whether we want to be owned by capitalism and stay in its trap of wage- and debt-slavery or whether we are free to boldly go to post-capitalism, whatever that might be. [Yes, that was a subtle Trek hint] You decide, or give it a miss.

Capitalism means many different things to different people but the two central tenets of capitalism are ownership & profit leading to a socio-economic system of command & control in pursuit of profit & growth. Everything, and I mean everything, that happens within our society is therefore subjected to this pursuit, directly or indirectly, and is thus measured and calibrated relative to this pursuit. The profit-motive is bad enough on its own but coupled to ownership, be it private or so-called ‘public’ or State-ownership, it has disastrous effects on our collective wellbeing.

Hang on! Did I just say that State-ownership is as bad as private ownership? Surely, the State protects its citizenry against unbridled capitalism by market regulation & intervention, for example?

Nope! At best the State is a complicit regulator & arbitrator and at worst it is just like another capitalist owner aiming for profit even at the expense of its citizens. What makes it worse is the State – I include the Government in this – is in a unique position of trust and authority.

Even when it comes to so-called inalienable resources such as water – nobody owns the water – its extraction, treatment, and transport, etc., are used to generate profit to the owners of the infrastructure & management of this resource, in effect, by charging for its use (user pays principle). The argument always is that these profits get re-invested to safe-guard future supply.

Similarly, our cultural and natural heritage should be regarded as inalienable resources. This has obvious implications for how these are shared, accessed, and/or used particularly when there is commercial interest and profit-motive such as in the tourism industry, for example.

Some Māori for-profit enterprises operate in unique circumstances. Iwi-based enterprises may be asset rich but cash poor, because they possess collectively owned and inalienable assets. They have difficulty raising investment capital and loans against assets that cannot be sold, or sometimes because of their ownership structure.

Taken from: Vision Mātauranga – Unlocking the Innovation Potential of Māori Knowledge, Resources and People

The test for inalienability has become too weak & easy and at the same time the threshold for commodification has become so low that it is negligible, i.e. everything has a price and is for sale. A telling example is the commodification of (human) breast milk and even turning it into soap for sale. This is a relatively ‘innocent’ example but there are many others such as participating in clinical trials for a financial reward, selling (human) organs, donating sperm to a profit-making clinic, selling your body for non-medical purposes, etc. There now is even a ’market’ for human faecal matter. Regardless whether these are harmless and can even help others & save lives or whether are considered morally objectionable (by some) is not the point here; it is about unstoppable commodification.

So, what about the role of the State then? Well, the State regulates and even actively endorses these ‘markets’. But it also tries to extract profit from what I consider inalienable resources that are for the common good.

This can be seen quite clearly in how academic institutions have been forced to become education & training factories with an accompanying corporate management structure and audit trails. The role of these institutions as critic and conscience of society has come under much pressure by increasing demands on a return of investment of taxpayers’ money as illustrated in a recent Discussion Paper from MBIE entitled The Impact of Science.

Subjects such as the Arts and Humanities that are less likely to make the desired impact are discouraged and the few academics that remain standing or sitting for that matter are ‘owned’ by demanding they justify their existence in the same terms of impact. This quest on impact inevitably trickles down to the level of academic excellence and impact, which are also subjective, and individual performance. Generating art, knowledge or anything that has cultural value does not cut it any longer in this environment. Knowledge is built on knowledge generated by colleagues and predecessors, often funded through Public Good funding, and is an inalienable resource for all of mankind.

Art and cultural knowledge, for example, are only valuable (as in profitable) when they become scarce or inaccessible. This can be achieved through intellectual property arrangements or granting exclusive rights, e.g. by selling (or donating) to an owner who can then exploit it for profit or keep it from enjoyment by the community at large. Scientific and technological knowledge get sold or licensed to profit-seekers that have had no hand in its generation in the first place. For 30 pieces of silver they will take the hard work that rightfully belongs to the people and privatise future profits (e.g. Big Pharma). In the end all our endeavours and activities, individual and collective, are defined by ownership and profit.

How do we break this cycle of ownership-profit? It is easy to criticise capitalism but it would be incomplete and unsatisfactory without offering an alternative. What might that look like?

Firstly, I believe the role of the State and Government needs to change from its current authoritarian position of power & influence from high up to a mediating and facilitating role and let people take more ownership of their affairs. State-owned assets need to be redefined as property for and by the community and become inalienable assets. It makes no sense for the Government to sell assets to then extract a profit from the rightful original owners, not even when the buyers are a minute fraction of the rightful owners (Mum & Dad investors).

Secondly, the people need to step up and accept their responsibility in managing their freedom to make decisions for themselves and their communities. This means that they need to learn to manage the resources they collectively own in a responsible & sustainable way, not for short- or long-term gains.

Thirdly, people need to learn to provide for their communities rather than for their bosses or employers, i.e. we all become self-employed so to speak. This will be based on actual need rather than being driven by profit-motives, perpetual growth and corresponding excess (consumerism).

The hardest one will be to capture the ‘dynamism’ that capitalism seems to be encouraging that supposedly leads to advancement, innovation, and progress towards higher production and thus more prosperity – it certainly does this for the few at a (nebulous) cost to the many. What will be the motivation and incentive to innovate, to develop, if no material reward is awaiting? It is hard to imagine, with our current mind-set that is heavily influenced by centuries (many generations) of capitalism and decades of neoliberalism, that people will do things out of curiosity, for the greater good & community, simply and only because they can.

When we were still hunting, fighting off large predators, and living in caves we did what we had to do to survive. Now we face a different kind of survival as human race. What makes us human is not how much we earn, how many cylinders that car has in our driveway and its top speed, or how well we compete with our colleagues on the career ladder (by pulling up the ladder or removing rungs below us). It is not our material possessions and wealth that determines who we are, is it? What makes us human is not what we have but what we create and experience and how we share these with others and use these to build lasting relationships and connections. We have to decide whether capitalism owns us or whether we can and want to (!) remove its shackles.

This Guest Post is by Standardista Incognito.

73 comments on “Begone, capitalism! You don’t own me”

  1. Philg 1

    ……..Speechless! The clamour to respond is telling in itself. Good points raised. I wonder if we have the capacity to meet these challenges. Watch this space and start talking to your neighbours for a start.

  2. Bill 2

    I’m in. Watch this space and, well I dunno about neighbours Philg. Maybe best to start talking with like minded friends and strangers for a start.

  3. Ad 3

    If we are going to have guest posts, could they at least have an author please.
    I may as well be dealing with some unknown Mana Party media release from 1985.

  4. Richard 4

    Well said. I assume you have already read this but in case you’ve not, it speaks to this also: http://www.monbiot.com/2017/10/02/common-wealth/

    • Bill 4.1

      He calls out the bullshit dichotomy of state or market quite nicely I thought.

      And his third to last paragraph encapsulates the potential for something worthwhile sitting beyond state or market – though I’m a bit dubious about his the use of the term ‘income’ as that suggests some market dynamic. But still…

      A commons, unlike state spending, obliges people to work together, to sustain their resources and decide how the income should be used. It gives community life a clear focus. It depends on democracy in its truest form. It destroys inequality. It provides an incentive to protect the living world. It creates, in sum, a Politics of Belonging.

  5. Bill 5

    Firstly, I believe the role of the State and Government needs to change from its current authoritarian position of power & influence from high up to a mediating and facilitating role and let people take more ownership of their affairs.

    Chavez arguably tried to use the power of the state against itself – to distribute power out or down to the community level. Read any liberal rag (always defenders of the status quo in the final analysis) to see how that went down with fans of private property.

    Corbyn just might be signalling something of a similar intent (the Monbiot article linked to above by Richard briefly touches on that).

    Secondly, (we) need to step up and accept (our) responsibility in managing (our) freedom to make decisions for (our)selves and (our) communities. This means that (we) need to learn to manage the resources (we) collectively own in a responsible & sustainable way, not for short- or long-term gains.

    Rojava today. Spain in the ’30s, and just possibly the widespread hankering to bring smaller, more local and therefore (so it must be hoped) more accountable centres of governance into being (Scotland, Catalonia, Veneto and Lombardy in Italy etc) could be signalling a small but important move in that direction.

  6. Angel FIsh 6

    What an utterly irrational rant!
    Capitalism is a the freedom to pursue one’s prosperity!
    So yeah I would very much like to keep that thank you!
    And ofcourse on the other side you have people that blame everything on Socialism,
    and there I will counter by saying, that I have patriotic interests.
    I want prosperity to the nation I live in in the form of better infrastructure etc.
    It might shock some of you, but it’s possible to have the best of both worlds!

    Also hilarious that you make no mention of the DEBT BASED FIAT currency!
    It doesn’t matter what changes you make to politics and society, if the
    currency that society uses is the debt based fiat currency, then it makes no difference!

    “Give me control of a nation’s money
    and I care not who makes the laws.”

    -Mayer Amschel Rothschild

    • David Mac 6.1

      It polarises. Like the board game Monopoly, one player ends up with a string of hotels, railway stations and utilities and the game ceases to be much fun for the other players and their inevitable slow crushing defeat.

      Like you I think it’s the best we’ve got, our country has been built on capitalism. NZ was a serious international player in global trade when a dozen white men lived here. 20 years before the treaty was signed there were up to 40 whaling ships from all over the world lashed together in Mangonui Harbour. Their bilges loaded with the high quality oil that powered the lamps of the world.

      Somehow we need to find ways to reverse that inbuilt trend towards polarisation, one fat cat owning the lot. Find ways to spread the well being wider.

      • UncookedSelachimorpha 6.1.1

        “It polarises.”

        That is the #1 problem with unfettered capitalism – it contains a powerful positive feedback mechanism, whereby having wealth, enables you to gather more wealth, which enables you to gather even more wealth, which enables you to……

        Notice “gather wealth”, not “create wealth”.

        Inevitably it results in a few people having everything and most people having nothing. How to manage this positive feedback mechanism is not much talked about by proponents of the free market.

        As scientists and engineers will tell you – positive feedback mechanisms can be very powerful. Just ask your nearest atomic bomb.

      • Andre 6.1.2

        “Somehow we need to find ways to reverse that inbuilt trend towards polarisation, one fat cat owning the lot. Find ways to spread the well being wider.”

        For a while post-WW2 many tax systems around the world had a go at doing that. Very high, almost confiscatory, tax rates on top incomes. Capital gains treated as ordinary income and taxed at the same rate, so there was less tax benefit in shifting ordinary income into other forms. Estate taxes and gift taxes so the wealthy couldn’t give their next generation quite as much of a head start.

        Returning to all of that would be a good start.

        • David Mac 6.1.2.1

          Back to the Monopoly board game, I think doubling the tax squares and price to get out of jail will have little bearing on the game’s outcome. I think we need to find a way that a player can hang onto their purple set of properties.

          Create more opportunity for small business to prosper in our market economy. The kauri stump worth a million dollars on a Kiwi wharf becomes 20 million dollars worth of custom furniture in it’s destination market. Northland is broken-arse, lets make tables.

          • UncookedSelachimorpha 6.1.2.1.1

            When 50% of the population have less than 5% of the wealth, just growing the economy will not solve anything. There will need to be some redistribution.

            e.g. you can double the wealth of the poorest 50% by transferring just 10% of the wealth owned by the richest 10% (so John Key having $90m instead of $100m). To double the wealth of the poorest 50% with economic growth you need to double the size of the economy, which is very difficult and environmentally damaging too (and in fact much more than double it, because most economic growth accrues to the already wealthy, not the poor).

          • UncookedSelachimorpha 6.1.2.1.2

            To go back to your monopoly analogy:

            ” I think doubling the tax squares and price to get out of jail will have little bearing on the game’s outcome.”

            If the tax and get-out-of-jail money was given to the poorest player, it would likely greatly change the outcome. Or if the best-performing player had to give a house to the poorest every 5 turns etc. And I don’t think this would induce the winning player to throws toys from cot and depart from game etc.

            • David Mac 6.1.2.1.2.1

              Ha! Yes, as board games go, it takes too long to play as is. But as life goes, a wealthy country with many struggling is not a wealthy country.

          • Molly 6.1.2.1.3

            Monopoly is a later version of a patented board game called “The Landlord’s Game”.

            It was created by a woman called Elizabeth Magie:

            She based the game on the economic principles of Georgism, a system proposed by Henry George, with the object of demonstrating how rents enrich property owners and impoverish tenants. She knew that some people could find it hard to understand why this happened and what might be done about it, and she thought that if Georgist ideas were put into the concrete form of a game, they might be easier to demonstrate. Magie also hoped that when played by children the game would provoke their natural suspicion of unfairness, and that they might carry this awareness into adulthood.

            Wikipedia

            There were several versions of play. One advanced version was similar to the current Monopoly. It was intended to show how those with capital tended to accumulate and hoard wealth until only one person held it all.

            A good summary of the history of the game can be found here.

            • greywarshark 6.1.2.1.3.1

              Hi Molly
              Thanks for that. You are reliable for interesting and thoughtful
              comments. Hadn’t heard of The Landlord’s Game. The quiet thinkers and strivers that have gone before! We need to remember their work and pass it down so we don’t have to start off from Square One again and again. Anyway we haven’t the luxury of centuries to slowly learn and adapt now.

      • Like you I think it’s the best we’ve got, our country has been built on capitalism.

        Actually, most of it, like all other developed nations, was built by government spending.

        Somehow we need to find ways to reverse that inbuilt trend towards polarisation, one fat cat owning the lot.

        There is only one way and that is to get rid of capitalism and replace it with state ownership controlled through participatory democracy.

    • Bill 6.2

      Nah Angel Fish.

      Capitalism is the right (enshrined in law) to fuck people over for the sake of personal gain. Why’d you want to keep that?

      Socialism. You missed the bit in the post that dismissed statism (ie -what you’re incorrectly referring to as socialism) then?

      Socialism and nations (as in nation states) are not things that can co-exist.

      Hilarious that you think a debt based fiat currency can exist in the possible world sign-posted by Incognito – one with neither private property nor state managed assets! Don’t you agree?

      • Angel FIsh 6.2.1

        People aren’t born equal. People also have varying desires and needs that they can’t fulfill all by themselves. And services and items of interest, usually have a natural cost or natural scarcity to them. This naturally creates a need to exchange goods and services and count some sense of value amidst these transactions!

        Look at monkeys. I’ll scratch your back, if you’ll scratch mine is basically how they operate. Capitalism is the natural result of all these things.
        But capitalism has short falls, so for those issues we rely on socialism.

        Your desire for a stateless and property free world is not possible in our time.
        It’s at odds with our very limitations in nature.
        The only way I see your world being a reality is if/when technology advances to such a degree that energy needs and biological needs become solvable for virtually no cost. So we are probably several thousand years too early of that…

        • McFlock 6.2.1.1

          Actually, people are born equal. Not the same or identical, but the variation within people is nothing compared to the variation in their circumstance and successes that are purely down to luck.

          Capitalism is not a meritocracy. It is a lottery of advantage and reward, and the winners’ conceit is to assume that they were the major factor in their success. Some of the hardest and most sensible workers I’ve known have been amongst the least rewarded, and if you want a look at the other extreme, just consider President Trump.

          • Angel FIsh 6.2.1.1.1

            I didn’t say it was a meritocracy.
            I implied that it is our way of getting our backs scratched by one another.

            • Draco T Bastard 6.2.1.1.1.1

              It doesn’t do that either. It only helps a few people get rich at everyone else’s expense.

            • Bill 6.2.1.1.1.2

              Trying to remember the last time I paid someone to scratch my back…

              Nope. Nuthin there.

            • McFlock 6.2.1.1.1.3

              Good. At least you don’t believe that success in capitalism is based on merit.

              Capitalism is your way of getting your back scratched as much as possible while doing as little back scratching as you can.

              • Angel FIsh

                That’s called optimizing. i.e. Trying to get your back scratched as close to the full value of what the other person is willing to offer.
                Some people are easily content, some moderately and some wanting to squeeze every penny…
                Your point?

                • Bill

                  And finally the fish lands up at comment 6.2!

                  Some people are easily content, some moderately and some wanting to squeeze every penny…
                  Your point?

                  Well. The point might be that…

                  Capitalism is the right (enshrined in law) to fuck people over for the sake of personal gain.

                  Now breathe Angel Fish. Breathe.

                  • Angel FIsh

                    lol resorting to pathetic insults now are we?
                    Perhaps best to take your own advice and calm yourself a little.
                    Anyway, explain how a person is fucked if in the exchange of a trade both people managed to drive towards a price point that was agreeable to both? Like I said, different people have different standards.

                    We are free to negotiate for the prices we want.
                    If a certain price point is too high, then you look for alternatives or you just settle for not buying it at all, and prioritize your resources towards something else.

                    But no, let’s not be mature and responsible, let’s just tear down society and the state of all things! And humans will magically create a utopia for themselves…

                    Like I said very early on, there is one possible way of doing the above, and that’s through profound technological breakthrough.
                    Until then we need capitalism, and in fact capitalism will help us get there and it will naturally make itself redundant in the process.

                    Remember pol pot? Staling? Mao?
                    Yeah let’s not repeat that.

                    • Bill

                      What insults (pathetic or otherwise)?

                      We are free to negotiate for the prices we want

                      And the rich man is as free as the poor man to sleep under a bridge…

                      Asymmetry of power. You might want to look it up some time.

                • McFlock

                  lol

                  It’s called fucking people over. Trust economists to invent a euphemism for it.

                  “Optimizing” has nothing to do with what people need or want. It has everything to do with how much power you have to deny them what they need or want.

                  • Angel FIsh

                    So if you wanted to sell your car on trade me, and I wanted to buy it from you. And in the process we negotiate and haggle, is that us fucking each other over? Or is that optimizing the price to get as much value for money as possible? I don’t know about you, but for me it’s the later.

                    • McFlock

                      In the real world, capitalism is “buy low, sell high”. I try to gloss over the car’s faults within legally-constrained limits. You hide the fact that you know someone else who is prepared to pay far more than my asking price. Or you know that I really need the money as soon as possible to pay a debt collector, so will low-ball the offer. We are both given incentives to fuck each other over.

                      Textbook capitalism is between equals who negotiate in good faith. Real-world capitalism is two individuals each trying to exploit the other. It commodifies everything, including people.

                      Remember, slavery is capitalism working to its fullest potential.

                • UncookedSelachimorpha

                  The assumption in here is that the free market naturally “optimises” outcomes – this is an ideological / religious belief only. There is plenty of evidence both anecdotal and academic that free markets do not automatically lead to optimal outcomes for people.

            • greywarshark 6.2.1.1.1.4

              Getting backs scratched by one another sounds dangerously like socialism.
              Where is the money in that?

          • David Mac 6.2.1.1.2

            When I just cruise along my income stays the same. When I climb over my procrastination and make 50 cold calls I always end up growing my business to some degree. It has nothing to do with luck, it’s down to me applying myself and getting stuck in.

            If I rang numbers out of the phone book, yes, my hard work would by and large be for nothing. Hard work on it’s own does not equal good fortune. I need a list of names and numbers of people that buy the service I sell.

            • Bill 6.2.1.1.2.1

            • UncookedSelachimorpha 6.2.1.1.2.2

              When someone on the richlist has their wealth increase by $200m in a single year, the explanation must be analogous – they simply applied themselves and reaped the benefit of some honest toil. Only possible explanation.

        • Draco T Bastard 6.2.1.2

          People aren’t born equal.

          Yes they are. Different, yes, but equal in those differences.

          People also have varying desires and needs that they can’t fulfill all by themselves. And services and items of interest, usually have a natural cost or natural scarcity to them. This naturally creates a need to exchange goods and services and count some sense of value amidst these transactions!

          Not really. It naturally creates cooperation rather than competition. It naturally creates caring and looking out for one another.

          http://www.thepoliticalscientist.org/whos-afraid-of-radical-politics/

          The exact opposite of what capitalism is.

          It’s at odds with our very limitations in nature.

          This may come as a surprise to you but we’re actually intelligent and can work out better ways than operating as unthinking automatons.

          • Angel FIsh 6.2.1.2.1

            Capitalism is a form of cooperation based on conditional agreements.
            The condition being that, I am happy to provide you with a service or a good that you need, provided you give something of similar value in return.
            You want to replace that with what? People magically knowing what and how to equitably distribute items of interest among themselves?

            Different items have different values to people.
            It’s best to allow each individual to negotiate and haggle towards what they want on their own. Socialism also has it’s place but for only dealing with issues of broad interest. It’s awful for dealing with private interests.

            • McFlock 6.2.1.2.1.1

              Actually, while I was always uncomfortable with the concept of a UBI, I’m leaning towards the more recent concept of Universal Basic Services. Cuts out the capitalist middleman.

            • Draco T Bastard 6.2.1.2.1.2

              Capitalism is a form of cooperation based on conditional agreements.

              No it’s not. Capitalism is ownership of the commons by a few for their own profit.

              People magically knowing what and how to equitably distribute items of interest among themselves?

              Wow, you’re really bringing out the delusional extreme BS.

              We know what’s needed and we can work out precisely what’s needed to produce it. We can then share that work around equitably and cooperatively.

              Different items have different values to people.

              Not really.

              Or, to put it another way, people do far better and are far more creative and innovative when they don’t have to stress about a place to live and food on the table.

              It’s best to allow each individual to negotiate and haggle towards what they want on their own.

              No it’s not as has been proven time and time again throughout history and especially over the last three decades.

            • UncookedSelachimorpha 6.2.1.2.1.3

              Personally I support a hybrid of free market and socialism. Maybe that is what you are referring to, although I don’t see the private / “broad” distinction.

              My thinking is that market forces left to their own devices have some inherent bad outcomes, and we can choose to moderate that. Afterall, how we interact is not an immutable law of nature (as some would have us believe), it is a set of rules that we can choose ourselves.

              • Angel FIsh

                Yes ofcourse. Capitalism by itself has horrible blind spots, which creates a need for socialism. We need both.

                • McFlock

                  why do we need capitalism in the first place?

                  • Andre

                    I want to live somewhere structured in a way that lets me choose how to allocate the resources I have available to the aspects of my life that make me happiest. Unit 187F in a grey concrete tower, Mao jackets, a monthly allotment of rice, canned fish and frozen peas isn’t my idea of a good time.

                    I want a system that lets me choose to live surrounded by bush, cos that makes me happy. So I put my resources towards being able to purchase that. I don’t give a rat’s about what others think of my transport, so I buy old cars and maintain them myself until they fail a warrant on something that’s not worth repairing. And so on.

                    Whereas I once worked with someone quite happy in a small unit in a grey concrete tower, that got his jollies out of owning a Porsche and didn’t mind the eyewatering amounts he paid to his garage to maintain it.

                    Of all the social systems I’ve seen, capitalism does the best job of allowing that freedom to pursue happiness. Especially when it’s balanced with a strong state that provides the services needed for everyone to get a fair go, such as education, health care, welfare safety net etc etc.

                    • McFlock

                      It’s not my idea of a good time either, but what if it’s the most equitable way to distribute resources? Maybe for you to have an acre of bush, ten people need to live in smaller units than they otherwise would. And don’t get me started on a porsche…

                    • weka

                      Why do you think the only alternative to capitalism is Mao-style communism?

                    • Andre

                      weka, it’s not the only alternative. But the only commenter here that really fleshes out their view of their preferred alternative is DTB, who talks about things like housing being allocated by the state. Going down that road leads very quickly to Mao style communism.

                      Frankly, nobody else gets beyond really vague mumblings about things like “participatory”, which doesn’t tell me anything concrete about how choices about major lifestyle issues get made, like where I live and what’s available for me to choose from for dinner.

                      Just so it’s clear, the social contract I’d like us to have is pretty much scandinavian style social democracy. Which is still fundamentally capitalism, with a somewhat stronger focus on the state levelling the playing field so everyone gets a fair go. And it’s really only a few incremental steps from where we are now, no revolution required.

                • Bill

                  Peeps. You’re talking about state intervention, not socialism.

                  Socialism and markets can no more co-exist than…I dunno…ice in a bag of salt.

        • Bill 6.2.1.3

          People aren’t born equal.

          Yup. If by that you mean “not the same”. It’s a fairly anodyne observation though (right up there with the ‘revelation’ that we aren’t self sufficient individuals).

          That said, those two things are the beginning and end to any semblance of coherence in an otherwise inane comment.

          Thinking “angel fish flapping outta water”. Dunno why.

    • Capitalism is a the freedom to pursue one’s prosperity!

      No it’s not. It’s the freedom of the few to control everyone else for their own enrichment.

      I want prosperity to the nation I live in in the form of better infrastructure etc.

      No you don’r else you’d be working to get rid of capitalism. All the poverty that’s around is due solely to capitalism.

      Also hilarious that you make no mention of the DEBT BASED FIAT currency!
      It doesn’t matter what changes you make to politics and society, if the
      currency that society uses is the debt based fiat currency, then it makes no difference!

      That bit there you got right but you missed the bit that the currency is created by the private banks, the capitalists and obviously haven’t though what would happen to those capitalists if they could no longer create the nations money and charge interest on it.

      HINT: There business wouldn’t survive for more than six months.

  7. roy cartland 7

    Also assume you’ve listed to this (I’m just about to):

    “The best of capitalism is behind us. For the rest it will be over in our lifetime”.

    That’s a bold claim from British economics reporter Paul Mason, who has spent much of his career looking at the subjects of labour and the working class.

    http://www.radionz.co.nz/national/programmes/labourday/audio/2018618886/paul-mason-a-post-capitalist-world

  8. It is hard to imagine, with our current mind-set that is heavily influenced by centuries (many generations) of capitalism and decades of neoliberalism, that people will do things out of curiosity, for the greater good & community, simply and only because they can.

    Actually, it’s not because they do it all the time. Linux, Wikipedia, hobbies are just some examples.

    The problem is the capitalist system of ownership that prevents people from simply living and forces people to work just to be able to survive while removing time from them and it does that because that’s the only way for the psychopaths to control everyone else.

    • Angel FIsh 8.1

      “…it does that because that’s the only way for the psychopaths to control everyone else.”

      Are you saying that in the absence of capitalism, people will no longer need to work hard to survive? In the absence of having access to a fair market, many people will outright die to nature. You might think that people will just go back to humble farming… Arable land is scarce, plant nutrients are scarce, water is scarce, etc etc.

      • Are you saying that in the absence of capitalism, people will no longer need to work hard to survive?

        No, I’m saying that in the absence of capitalism the psychopaths will no longer have a means to control everyone else.

        • Andre 8.1.1.1

          The psychopaths always find a way to get the biggest living quarters, eat the tenderest cuts of meat, root the prettiest girls… It happens in every cult, commune, religion, state… Psychopaths put their efforts into controlling other people coz that’s how they get their jollies. Capitalism has nothing to do with it.

        • Angel FIsh 8.1.1.2

          The only psychopaths / sociopaths I can see are those who deal in the financial market, and particularly the banking structure based around debt based fiat currency.

          Everyone else either provides a service or creates a good of tangible value and seek something similar from others. A natural progression from the behaviour of monkeys scratching each others back.

          So all that needs to be done is to fix those flawed and corrupt aspects of capitalism. Punishing the masses that are happy to trade with each other on the other hand makes no sense and isn’t going to happen either, unless you plan on forcing this down everyone.

          Stalin? Mao? Pol Pot? They were psychotic too last I checked.

          • mauī 8.1.1.2.1

            When you’re talking about exchanging services for one another I think you’re describing bartering, and that appears to me to work much better on a human level than capitalism does.

          • Draco T Bastard 8.1.1.2.2

            The only psychopaths / sociopaths I can see are those who deal in the financial market, and particularly the banking structure based around debt based fiat currency.

            Your vision seems to be selective as it’s not seeing all the capitalists like Donald Trump.

            So all that needs to be done is to fix those flawed and corrupt aspects of capitalism. Punishing the masses that are happy to trade with each other on the other hand makes no sense and isn’t going to happen either, unless you plan on forcing this down everyone.

            You’re making the mistake of assuming that trade only happens in a capitalist system.

            Stalin? Mao? Pol Pot? They were psychotic too last I checked.

            And they run a top down control, otherwise known as capitalist, system.

            • Angel FIsh 8.1.1.2.2.1

              @McFlock

              The reply button disappeared for some reason so will leave the reply here.

              “In the real world, capitalism is “buy low, sell high”. …You hide the fact that you know someone else who is prepared to pay far more than my asking price. Or you know that I really need the money as soon as possible to pay a debt collector, so will low-ball the offer. We are both given incentives to fuck each other over.”

              The problem you are referring to arises because of scarcity!
              Not because of capitalism!
              You are naive if you think that if you get rid of capitalism, that humans will suddenly
              find themselves in naturally equitable state.
              The problem of scarcity has to with nature.

              Resources are scarce and provision of skills and services have a combination of time, energy and item costs. Why would these basic facts about life suddenly disappear if you take away capitalism? We will still find ourselves having to negotiate regardless, and in the absence of a civil platform, it could actually get quite ugly.

              Nothing is free so it’s inevitable that two individuals with differing interests give into haggling and negotiation in trying to get some amount of tangible benefit from each other. That is still a form of corporation.

              “Real-world capitalism is two individuals each trying to exploit the other. It commodifies everything, including people.”

              Welcome to existence! We have stomachs to fill and limited food among ourselves, take away our sophisticated means of trying to scratch eachothers back, and it’s back to plain old survival of the fittest!
              I’d choose capitalism any day over that savagery!

              “Remember, slavery is capitalism working to its fullest potential.”

              That’s why on top of capitalism we also invest in human rights, laws, socialist policies and regulations of all sorts. I think I’ve said enough but none of you guys have any viable solutions to offer. Just wishful thinking.

              Now I do know one way in which your vision can be achieved, but that’s through amazing technology, not through delusional reformatting of society.
              Peace!

              • Resources are scarce and provision of skills and services have a combination of time, energy and item costs. Why would these basic facts about life suddenly disappear if you take away capitalism?

                they won’t. What will happen is that those essential resources will no longer be controlled by a few people who then hold the community to ransom.

                I’d choose capitalism any day over that savagery!

                Capitalism is that savagery.

                We evolved in cooperative, communal systems.

                That’s why on top of capitalism we also invest in human rights, laws, socialist policies and regulations of all sorts.

                And the capitalists always try to get rid of them which should tell you why capitalism doesn’t work and is, in fact, that savagery that you don’t want any part of.

              • McFlock

                Economics is about the distribution of scarce resources.

                Capitalism encourages the exploitation I described. Other systems might make a better job of distributing those resources. Capitalism also creates an incentive to produce artificial scarcity, from tulips to Enron’s brownouts.

                Capitalism is survival of the meanest, with a healthy dose of luck. It’s much more savage than our ancient ancestors’ days, we’re just more polite about it. Some cultures abandoned their weak because they couldn’t support them any more. We abandon large sections of our population because we simply don’t care. Who’s the savage?

                It’s not cooperation. It’s exploitation, abuse, and unmerited privilege. It will be phased out with technology (not fanciful technology, emerging tech, and soon), and remembered in the same way that we look back on ducking witches and disembowelment as a punishment.

              • beatie

                ‘limited food amongst ourselves’.

                Yet 229022 tonnes of food is sent to landfills annually, the cost of this avoidable food waste being $872 million per year. These figures don’t include commercial food waste.

                https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Food_waste_in_New_Zealand

                It seems that ‘food scarcity’ is an artificial construct and a prime feature of ….. capitalism.

  9. Bill 9

    Another piece by Monbiot that’s pertinent to this post (on public/private partnerships)

    Throughout the neoliberal era, governments and companies have devised new criminal and civil procedures to defend capital from protest. This is the force behind market forces. The enabling state, with its strong public services and robust social safety nets, might have been rolled back, but the security state has expanded, to protect corporate profits from democracy.

  10. chris73 10

    Is capitalism perfect, no it isn’t but is it better then any other system currently running? Well I think it is as there are communist countries, socialist, countries, monarchies, theocracies, juntas, dictatorships and probably other systems as well and yet if I was to think about any other country to live in it’ll always be a capitalist first and foremost

    However if someone can think of a way to improve capitalism then that’d be the best option and I see that happening in NZ (albeit a bit slow for some)

  11. JO 11

    For a haunting insight into capitalism’s slow-burning infancy, when the forced enclosures of common land spread across the countryside that many of our ancestors came from, read Jim Crace’s superb wonderful novel ‘Harvest’.

    https://www.theguardian.com/books/2013/feb/14/harvest-jim-crace-review
    ‘Harvest can be read in mythical, even biblical terms, but the physical and emotional displacement of individuals and communities at its heart remains as politically resonant today as it was at the time.’

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