Crisis of Capitalism- the Rebuttal

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Crisis of Capitalism- the Rebuttal

What have those filthy Marxists gone and done now? “Martha, they’re a posting’ Socialist propaganda now in the Daily Digest”.

Fortunately, we have the Young Republicans and the good folks at Libertarian think tank The Hoover Institute to set us straight. Never missing an opportunity to deflect the Invisible Hand of Adam Smith into a knuckle punch to the groin, the boys at Hoover lay out the facts and start the cipherin’ to represent Americans everywhere, graciously providing this stunning rebuttal to Marxist David Harvey’s animated after school special.

But the hijinks are just getting started, hang in there for a cameo appearance of Hoover fellow Thomas Crowell, and try to restrain your laughter as he attempts to convince you that income calculated  per capita is more relevant in portraying income inequality than per household. Also, behold the sleight of hand and intellectual dishonesty as both the presenter and Herr Crowell neglect to mention the single most significant change to income demographics in nearly 100 years, which is the appearance of dual income earners in a large number of American households. It is hard to fathom the effect this dual income contribution has had, yet the average household income of the 90% fractile of the population has declined despite the addition of an additional wage earner. No mention at all of this phenomena in the rebuttal. If you ever want to see a conservative squirm in their chair, just bring up the massive wealth inequality in America today, and watch as the hands begin to wave and the storytelling begins.

As to per capita income, if we have 10 people in a room, and one has a million dollars, the others all have zero, the per capita income is $100,000 each. Don’t you just feel richer already?

Beyond this travesty of a rebuttal, the just out of puberty presenter lugs out the standard talking points citing “gubmint” interference and regulatory constraints by way of explaining why capitalists are taking their show on the road and the jobs with them. No mention of the principles of the coercive laws of capital, no acknowledgement of the consolidation and centralization of capital, nothing, nada, zip.

<sarcasm off>

I have counted a total 2 articles in the Daily Digest that may be construed as socialist or Marxist, hardly an avalanche and just not enough of a factor to get Sarah Palin over here -yet. But given that the Harvey video has proven so offensive to some, perhaps a thread for others to present salient critique of his work as described in the animation may prove useful

Or not.

 

 

 

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Marxists are pretty well

Marxists are pretty well bang on, particularly right now. As long as economies are able to expand and outdistance population growth and unions have enough strength to spread the wealth around, capitalism works.  As long as antitrust and anti competition laws are enforced to prevent consolidation, control and concentration of wealth in oligopolies and monopolies, capitalism works. As long as economies are growing in a healthy fashion, not just metastasizing through debt based financialization, the capitalist system works, after a fashion. But first and foremost, as long as the natural environment is able to sustain all of this growth, it works. The planet is finite and corporations, as unlimited as they have been politically, are going to bump up against this sad reality, unless they find a way to expand into other parts of the Milky way. 

The Marxists are coming into their own now. It's time.  They can critique end stage capitalism AND they are in a position to apply prescriptions. What was missing in the past was a way to handle the complexity involved in pre-planning anything that could come close to the efficiencies of a demand economy. Now it's possible to do much better, with advanced computer modelling systems.  It won't be perfect, but it will be better, and it is going to happen as there is no other way to provide people the world over with basic sustenance while shrinking populations through attrition.  

Basic to capitalism is a ponzi structure that requires growth--can't be steady state. It has to be booming or busting. It's all wrong, a crazy a**ed way to live.  Do we socialists bite the hands that fee us?  Yes, but first you have to tear off  the velvet glove of mythology to reveal it's gnarly grasping rapacious fingers.    I wish that those who are actually suffering under the present system, would wake up and do the same.

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Re: Crisis of Capitalism- the Rebuttal

Good Critique.

I didn't fully agree with either side yet learned something from both.

As it should be.

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The US is a socialist

The US is a socialist economy that calls itself capitalist.  The gov't banks and corporations are all in bed together supporting the elite. Many of  the richest men in the world are all communists like Castro,  Putin, the Chinese elites,  etc.  All out current gov't regulations are there to prevent competition and prevent entry of the "small guy" into business -- not to control the out of control corporations.  There is absolutely nothing capitalist about the US. It is a fairy tale to call us capitalists.

 

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"It's a big club and you


"It's a big club and you ain't in it"

- George Carlin 

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It is overly simplistic to

It is overly simplistic to frame the debate in terms of "capitalism" vs. "socialism". Both terms are so laden with decades of idealogical brainwashing, propaganda mascarading as academic research, and bogeymen that it is impossible to have a truly objective dialogue within this framework. Any meaningful understanding of the original intent or context has been so distorted that we are left arguing over caricatures.

Why do we continue to be obsessed with the illusion that these eighteenth and nineteenth century theories are still even relevant to today's world conditions? Why is there an immediate knee-jerk reaction to place every issue along the continuum of this moribund duality? We hurl the terms "capitalist" and "socialist" at each other like curse words while ignoring the forces that corrupt every idealogy - greed, power and secrecy.

Capitalism emerged at a time when there were fewer than 1 billion people on the planet and the possibilities of exhausting natural resources and humans adversely affecting the function of the entire planetary ecosystem were unimaginable. A balanced reading of the seminal capitalist text, "The Wealth of Nations" and Adam Smith's other works reveals a much more nuanced and ethical point of view than our modern callous capitalist orthodoxy.

Socialism emerged at a time when capitalism had de-humanized and de-valued millions of people in the maw of industrialism. Many of Marx's critiques of capitalism and bourgeois society were insightful and prescient.

I can imagine that both men would be shocked and dismayed by the systems their writings spawned.

People are not purely self-sufficient, competitive players, nor passive herds of dependent sheep. The reality is much less clear cut. Human societies are inherently complex and messy.

While it is almost a cliche quotation at this point, it is helpful to be reminded of Einstein's statement that the mindset responsible for our current problems is not capable of creating the solutions. We need new ways of thinking that reframe the conversation and develop sustainable solutions appropriate to our emergent challenges.

My fondest wish is to NEVER hear the terms "capitalism" or "socialism' again. Let's quit fighting yesterday's battles.

 

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katyan wrote: My fondest
katyan wrote:

My fondest wish is to NEVER hear the terms "capitalism" or "socialism' again. Let's quit fighting yesterday's battles.

Amen

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Docmins, Where'd You Get Your Definition?
docmims wrote:

The US is a socialist economy that calls itself capitalist.  The gov't banks and corporations are all in bed together supporting the elite. Many of  the richest men in the world are all communists like Castro,  Putin, the Chinese elites,  etc.  All out current gov't regulations are there to prevent competition and prevent entry of the "small guy" into business -- not to control the out of control corporations.  There is absolutely nothing capitalist about the US. It is a fairy tale to call us capitalists.

Docmims

I believe you are very clearly describing oligarchic/plutocratic behavior, or plutarchy. These are amongst the inevitable end-game stages where vast amounts of wealth is private and controlled by a few, and that wealth and power is used to influence/control government or to collude with government.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Plutocracy

Socialism and communism have their own end-game stages, but not what you are describing.

I think Johnny Oxygen and Katyan are right. We need a more balanced view, a more critical view of the current structure, but not with lenses of the past.

Poet

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Oct5 Have you ever

Oct5

Have you ever encountered the term "Sock Puppet" ? Be advised....

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ericg wrote: Oct5 Have you
ericg wrote:

Oct5

Have you ever encountered the term "Sock Puppet" ? Be advised....

Yep, that's me, working undercover for the Russians and Chinese. Because we all know that the oligarchs controlling the spy networks harbour a secret desire to slave away on collective farms. I'm a regular Mata Hairi. (Judging by the hirsute nature of your photo, You are Matted Hairy! We could team up and take this show on the road)Laughing

 Forgive my jocular attitude. Ever since the accident, I've had a punning disorder.  Shortly after the accident, I became a Neoliberal free marketeer.  It happened all of a sudden, one morning,  somewhere between stumbling around trying to find my socks and a stint with the speech therapist, after I had my tracheotomy tube removed.  As my brain healed, I became a Progressive.  Now that I am fully recovered, except for the perpetual pun problem, and attacks of anomalous alliteration, I see some kind of economy, planned for us, rather than against us, as the only way to go.

Pragmatism is the only ism I find compelling at this point and feel many will default to it in a constrained future.  It will likely happen when we are forced by crop failures working in concert with speculation in ag commodities,  to spend most of your hard earned pay on food. Those complaining the loudest about "socialism" will become the  most  pro-govt interference types around.  

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Oct5 wrote: I see some kind
Oct5 wrote:

I see some kind of economy, planned for us, rather than against us, as the only way to go.

The key of course is who does the planning.

For this or anything to work successfuly (I include the mess of the current system, of course, and all others), humanity must come to grips with that problem we have, as a whole, never successfully come to grips with: our own nature.

 

 

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Septimus wrote: Oct5
Septimus wrote:
Oct5 wrote:

I see some kind of economy, planned for us, rather than against us, as the only way to go.

The key of course is who does the planning.

For this or anything to work successfuly (I include the mess of the current system, of course, and all others), humanity must come to grips with that problem we have, as a whole, never successfully come to grips with: our own nature.

 

 

Human nature is a dynamic process, an interplay of potentials and actualities, a co-creation of genes and culture. That gives me hope. We all have a shadow aspect, a drive to destroy, to covet, to fight. That can all be reworked, channeled in a positive way. The destructive and creative impulse originate from the same source. Imho, in the next few years the shadow aspect of man that requires war to provide meaning, challenge, and a mythic quest, will come under close scrutiny. We default to it too readily and we are going to start asking why. It's not just about scarcity of resources. 

I am very hopeful about the future. Weird, I know...but I am. 

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Hopefule about the future
Oct5 wrote:

Human nature is a dynamic process, an interplay of potentials and actualities, a co-creation of genes and culture. That gives me hope. We all have a shadow aspect, a drive to destroy, to covet, to fight. That can all be reworked, channeled in a positive way. The destructive and creative impulse originate from the same source. Imho, in the next few years the shadow aspect of man that requires war to provide meaning, challenge, and a mythic quest, will come under close scrutiny. We default to it too readily and we are going to start asking why. It's not just about scarcity of resources. 

I am very hopeful about the future. Weird, I know...but I am. 

Well said Oct5, and I agree completely. It realy is an amazing time to be alive and I too am very hopeful about the future.

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David Harvey expands

David Harvey expands considerably on the “Crisis of Capitalism” cartoon with his latest book “The Enigma Of Capital”, a sincere effort to expand 19th century criticism of the intrinsic contradictions of capitalism and to overlay these with contemporary context.

In particular, the linked excerpt from the book examines the growth imperative of free market capitalism, which he estimates at 3% in perpetuity. There have been several posts commenting on whether or not capitalism can survive without growth, Harvey answers this (from his perspective) in detail, a small portion of which is quoted below: (emphasis mine)

 

Capital, Marx insists, is a process of circulation and not a thing. It is fundamentally about putting money into circulation to make more money. There are various ways to do this. Financiers lend money in return for interest, merchants buy cheap in order to sell dear and rentiers buy up land, resources, patents, and the like, which they release to others in return for rent. Even the capitalist state can invest in infrastructures in search of an improved tax base that yields greater revenues. But the primary form of capital circulation in Marx’s view was that of production capital. This capital begins with money which is used to buy labor power and means of production which are then brought together in a labor process, under a given technological and organizational form, that results in a new commodity to be sold on the market for the initial money plus a profit.

A part of the profit, for reasons we will take up later, has to be capitalized and launched into circulation to seek even more profit. Capital is thereby committed to a compounding rate of growth. The quantity of global goods and services traded through the market (which now stands at around $55 trillion) has grown at an average rate of around 2.25 per cent since 1750 or so.3 In some places and times it has been much higher and elsewhere much lower. This fits with the conventional wisdom that a growth rate of three per cent is the minimum acceptable level at which a “healthy” capitalism can operate. The average global growth rate from 2000 to 2008 was exactly three percent (with plenty of local variation). Anything less that three percent is problematic, while zero or negative growth defines a crisis which, if prolonged, as in the 1930s, defines a depression. So the problem for capital is to find a path to a minimum compound three percent growth for ever.

There are abundant signs, however, that capital accumulation is at an historical inflexion point where sustaining a compound rate of growth is becoming increasingly problematic. In 1970 this meant finding new profitable global investment opportunities for $0.4 trillion. Resumption of three percent growth right now would mean finding profitable investment opportunities for $1.5 trillion. If that rate of growth were to be sustained by 2030 or so we would be looking at $3 trillion. Put in physical terms, when capitalism in 1750 was about everything going on around Manchester and Birmingham and a few other hot spots in the global economy then three percent compound growth posed no problem. But we are now looking at compounding growth on everything going on in North America, Europe, much of East Asia, Latin America and increasingly South Asia, the Middle East and Africa….The implications socially, politically and environmentally are nothing short of gargantuan.

Note that the operative term here is profitable investment opportunities as opposed to socially necessary and socially valuable investment opportunities. So where, then, are the potential limits to this profitability? Since capital is a process not a thing, then the continuity of the process (along with its speed and geographical adaptability and mobility) becomes a crucial feature to sustaining growth. Any slow-down or blockage in capital flow will produce a crisis. If our blood flow stops then we die. If capital flow stops then the body politic of capitalist society dies. This simple rule was most dramatically demonstrated in the wake of the events of 9/11. Normal processes of circulation were stopped dead in and around New York City with huge ramifications for the global economy. Within five days, then Mayor Guiliani was pleading with everyone to get out their credit cards and go shopping, go to the restaurants and the Broadway shows (seats are now available!) and shortly thereafter the President of the United States did an unprecedented thing: he appeared in a collective commercial for the airlines pleading with people to start flying again. When the banks stopped lending and credit froze in the wake of the Lehman collapse on September 15th, 2008, the survival of capitalism was threatened and political power went to extraordinary lengths to loosen the constrictions. It was a matter of life or death for capital as everyone in power recognized.

Link

 

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Chomsky weighs in on "the Black Book"

"The example stands as a dramatic "criminal indictment" of totalitarian Communism, exactly as Ryan writes. But before closing the book on the indictment we might want to turn to the other half of Sen's India-China comparison, which somehow never seems to surface despite the emphasis Sen placed on it. He observes that India and China had "similarities that were quite striking" when development planning began 50 years ago, including death rates. "But there is little doubt that as far as morbidity, mortality and longevity are concerned, China has a large and decisive lead over India" (in education and other social indicators as well). He estimates the excess of mortality in India over China to be close to 4 million a year: "India seems to manage to fill its cupboard with more skeletons every eight years than China put there in its years of shame," 1958-1961 (Dreze and Sen).

In both cases, the outcomes have to do with the "ideological predispositions" of the political systems: for China, relatively equitable distribution of medical resources, including rural health services, and public distribution of food, all lacking in India. This was before 1979, when "the downward trend in mortality [in China] has been at least halted, and possibly reversed," thanks to the market reforms instituted that year.

Overcoming amnesia, suppose we now apply the methodology of the Black Book and its reviewers to the full story, not just the doctrinally acceptable half. We therefore conclude that in India the democratic capitalist "experiment" since 1947 has caused more deaths than in the entire history of the "colossal, wholly failed...experiment" of Communism everywhere since 1917: over 100 million deaths by 1979, tens of millions more since, in India alone. The "criminal indictment" of the "democratic capitalist experiment" becomes harsher still if we turn to its effects after the fall of Communism: millions of corpses in Russia, to take one case, as Russia followed the confident prescription of the World Bank that "Countries that liberalise rapidly and extensively turn around more quickly [than those that do not]," returning to something like what it had been before World War I, a picture familiar throughout the "third world." But "you can't make an omelette without broken eggs," as Stalin would have said. The indictment becomes far harsher if we consider these vast areas that remained under Western tutelage, yielding a truly "colossal" record of skeletons and "absolutely futile, pointless and inexplicable suffering" (Ryan). The indictment takes on further force when we add to the account the countries devastated by the direct assaults of Western power, and its clients, during the same years."

http://www.spectrezine.org/global/chomsky.htm

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this one...

I am not so sure that capitalism has failed as much as we have failed as a people.  Capitalism is just a framework for people to operate within.  It is what people make of it that is the issue.  We, the people of America, have not stayed true to our values and principles.  Our morals have degraded to the point where things that used to be considered outrageous are now mundane and taken for granted.  Greed and the white collar crime it spawns has become accepted.  Just take a look at what goes on.  There is some pretty amazing stuff and yet people who in my opinion should go to jail instead cruise home to their mansions at night.  Just take a look at income distribution.  It is a sad story.  Capitalism seemed to work pretty good here until we went off the gold standard and the globalization phase kicked in.  Those two events combined with a general erosion of the country's moral fiber led us to where we are now.  Maybe capitalism is designed to be a phase which societies need to pass through to generate sufficient wealth and technology to enter the next phase.  I want to believe that and it sounds great.  However, transition to the next phase, whatever that is, is proving to be difficult at best. 

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oct5 wrote: I see some kind

oct5 wrote:

I see some kind of economy, planned for us, rather than against us, as the only way to go.

IMHO we already have an economy planned for us... Seems to be working out beautifully for the top 1%. How does that saying go....?  "Absolute power corrupts absolutely" I feel any kind of central planning will corrupt those having the power to plan things for the rest of us. I think Animal Farm describes it best.

Eric

P.S. loved the Matted Hairy line lol Laughing

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ericg wrote: oct5 wrote: I
ericg wrote:

oct5 wrote:

I see some kind of economy, planned for us, rather than against us, as the only way to go.

IMHO we already have an economy planned for us... Seems to be working out beautifully for the top 1%. How does that saying go....?  "Absolute power corrupts absolutely" I feel any kind of central planning will corrupt those having the power to plan things for the rest of us. I think Animal Farm describes it best.

Eric

P.S. loved the Matted Hairy line lol Laughing

Hi Eric, An economy that has outsourced so much of it's manufacturing capacity overseas, leaving only the military industrial complex  intact, works against us.  It demands blood sacrifice abroad, creates enemies to justify it's existence, and is entirely reliant on tax dollars. Welfare "queens" have nothing on these parasites.

I am a capitalist at heart. Love the "animal spirits",  the challenge of investing, speculating and creating new businesses. I've done this to a limited degree and it was fun.  I'm a borderline capitalist pig at heart.  Gosh, it feels good to be out of the closet! Now I've turned my back on all that and am working as a sock puppet for Young Communists for Christ. I've come to rely on the  financial backing of the small group of 5 freckle faced teen members. Should they get an increase in their allowance, it will really rock my world!Wink

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Hi oct5,   I apologize for

Hi oct5,

  I apologize for implying you may be a sock puppet even if it is for the Young Commies for Christ.... You definately have a good sense of humor Laughing

  I lean more towards "Anarcho-Capitalist." I agree with you that our present system works against the common man. Competitive Socialism, Plutocracy, or the most fitting, Kleptocracy is more like what we have now. I don't know about you, but I can even foresee abuse and corruption of power in the project Zeitgeist put forward as a solution. It looks pretty on paper for sure, but anyone that implies they have all the solutions to society's problems, probably doesn't.

   I don't claim to have any answers either mind you. I am a simple man that desires to live a simple life. That has become increasingly difficult over the years. I feel that what I produce and build should belong to me and do with as I see fit. I'm tired of working my ass off to feed the "Beast" we call government. Traditional Socialism is only a beast of a different nature IMHO

Eric

  

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