Is Capitalism evil?

I haven’t written much for the blog this week, as the time I’d normally spend writing has been spent on preparing an RE lesson instead. My topic was ‘capitalism is evil’, and I was invited to be as provocative as I liked. That was this morning, and if you’re visiting from St George’s, welcome.

Is capitalism evil? That’s a strong statement, and I guess it depends on your definition of evil. It’s certainly a mixed blessing. It also depends on what you’re asking capitalism to do. If you want to make money, it’s great for that. If you want to create a fair society, end poverty, and do it all without destabilising the environment, capitalism can’t do that on its own. You’ll need to pull in some theories and policies from elsewhere to help out.

I’m not going to say any more right now, but here’s my presentation from this morning if you want a reminder of what we looked at.

Here’s the video I showed, and there are some links below.

The organisation behind the hamster video is the New Economics Foundation, who have lots of interesting ideas for creating a fairer society. For more on capitalism, try the Michael Moore movie Capitalism: A Love Story. The Corporation is another useful documentary for explaining how shareholder corporations could be reformed.

I mentioned sweatshops and labour rights, and there’s lots more here. For more on biocapacity see here.

Tags:

31 Comments on “Is Capitalism evil?”

  1. david Barry June 14, 2012 at 5:55 pm #

    I would have thought that this question admits of two answers:-

    If you are a Marxist, the answer is yes, as, tragically Capitalism is inherently exploitative and consequently inherently alienating. A notion intriguingly similar to saying that Sin is original, and the world is a fallen one.

    if you are not a Marxist, then Capitalism is amoral, and it is for us to inject moral values into it. What moral ideas? Ah thats where the disputes start….

    However I am aware that followers of Ayn Rand would argue that Capitalism is inherently moral, the more free market the better. Strange, but influential people….

    • dichasium June 14, 2012 at 7:04 pm #

      David Barry – I’m not sure that it’s strange that these are influential people? I think it is because they appeal to the weaker, but often unrecognised, element of human nature – to try to be stronger than the next person for fear of being made vulnerable?

      • Jeremy June 15, 2012 at 10:48 am #

        That’s strange and influential I think, rather than strange that they are influential, but both are true. Rand’s philosophy is visibly extremist, however convenient it is. What’s particularly bizarre is when it crops up in Tea Party circles, when it is so obviously incompatible with the conservative christianity that they swear by at the same time – see below…

        • dichasium June 15, 2012 at 9:58 pm #

          I’ve only seen two of her comments and the second appeared to be a complete contradiction of the first. I assumed this must be because I’ve not read anyhere near enough to interpret one or the other correctly. Then Stefan posed what he considers to be the unlikely possibility that he has misunderstood her and now you mention some obvious incompatiblity in Tea Party circles. Is she really so unclear, or do we all need to read much more?

          • Jeremy June 16, 2012 at 1:47 pm #

            I couldn’t say, not knowing which two comments you’ve seen! I think she’s usually quite clear, though in my opinion not a particularly good writer or a good philosopher. But I’ve only read some of her essays. Perhaps her novels are better. I doubt I’ll ever read Atlas Shrugged, mind you. Life’s too short for a thousand page novel about libertarian utopia.

          • Stefan Thiesen June 20, 2012 at 9:13 am #

            To be clear K.: I absolutely don’t think that I misunderstand her. But who knows – I might be wrong? :-). But really – aside from religion and philosophy, quite some work has been done on studying cooperation and competition. That ranges from, say, Kropotkin over Axelrodt to Nowak. Ultimately cooperation is superior to pure competition. The question is whether altruism is as well. For years I read through the literature in the field, and my conclusion is that we are light-years from understanding how behavior patterns from. The answers provided by evolutionary psychologists are crude at best. Interesting from a research point of view, but not useful for basing any kind of practical conclusions on them. Plus – remember K.: I once quoted Nietzsche who described humans as the “undefined animal”. Our brain is largely empty when we enter this world and out culture, upbringing and experience will, obviously, define much of who we are. But not all. We can speculate, of course. Rand assumes that altruism and cooperation ultimately are rooted selfishness. One could think that. I cooperate with others to gain advantages. But to be honest: I think that is pure bull. Anyone ever felt sorry for a total stranger who suffered an accident? Anyone ever felt compassion? How does it FEEL? Does it feel like “well – I will now help this person to gain some advantage”? I also don’t think that such a thing is at work one some deeper hard wired subconscious level. I think deep compassion is part of our natural human potential. And an idea I expressed elsewhere: even the “Jedi Knight” type might actually be a psychopath – possessing the fearless strength attributed to that mental makeup, but being trained and influenced, by environment and example, to altruistically use that strength for the greater good (I use that fictional example in order to not step on anyone’s feet). And no – I don’t want to read more Ayn Rand. Please not!

          • dichasium June 21, 2012 at 8:43 pm #

            Stefan, Thank you . Here is my opinion in response. I have tried to be brief. Sorry, if you do not find it helpful in any way:

            1. Jeremy (15 June 10.45), says a useful Christian life is serving others. But this is meant to be in a spirit of love, not as a begrudging duty. Love does not stop with family and friends and ‘nice’ people (Jeremy 15 Jne, Stefan 19 June).

            2. RE. Stefan 19 Jne 12.05: We will always have immense difficulty in acting according to what we think is morally ‘right’, because we battle with our nature to preserve ourselves.

            3. RE. Stefan 20 Jne 09.13: We cannot analyse competition, co-operation and altruism in the same light as they operate under different circumstances. I’m still left wondering if Rand is speaking on a different level which can be right. Clearly, I’d need to read more.

            4. RE. Stefan 20 Jne 09.21 a) I think the man in advertising is more or less right. And aren’t democracy and elections full of manipulation in one way or another, just like most human interaction at gross or subtle levels? b) Love for a psychopath no more helpful than love for a train about to run me down? – That depends on your definition of love and help. I could help and love a psychopath in a different way from a train, my family or friends.

            5. RE. Stefan 20 Jne 10.09 – Yes, we did make that ethical decision in the EU and naturally it’s getting harder now the going is getting tough, because, we make promises and fail to recognise our own nature. Whether it’s the veins and arteries of globalisation, the capiiliaries of unions, or the blood of individuals, human nature runs true.

            Regards, (K).

          • Stefan Thiesen June 22, 2012 at 8:46 am #

            @K. (dichasium): The main reason why I don’t want to read more Any Rand is that I don’t really like her writing style, and not so much because she is at odds with me in any kind of ideological sense. After all I also read “State of Fear”. John Grisham just happened to be a far more entertaining writer :-).

            I am dubious if we can generalize about human nature. again: the undefined animal. Cultures differ vastly. Attitudes differ vastly. There have been sustainable cultures in various places of the Earth that existed for hundreds, some for thousands of years. In jungle settings. In island settings. In distant mountain regions. Many of them with relatively peaceful cultures and under harsh conditions (I am forever impressed by Helena Norberg Hodges Work about Ladakh and the change brought about there by the money culture). Perhaps our “empty” and “undefined” nature leaves us prone to temptations? A certain weakness? Too much freedom of the mind? Most animals have less freedom, because their behavior are far more determined by hard wired instincts. We have to learn and decide new, day after day, generation after generation. What is meant by “”Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil”? Money by its inate “nature” caters to greed. It is materialized temptation (interesting expression for something so evanescent…). This is also why I do not see capitalism as evil, by the way: it is not evil. It merely is a temptation. It is up to us whether we give in. And most people just live. They don’t really give in, don’t really want “ever more”: they are satisfied at a certain point.

            Loving the psychopath… of course that is an extreme example. But the true psychopath, once he takes on a victim, will not stop short of mentally dismantling the poor person. Like the train cannot stop when you jump in front of it. It’s sheer mass, it’s inertia prevents it from braking, no matter how much you wave your arms or how much you love it. The psychopath is equally unimpressed. You cannot help him. He is not sick in a medical sense. From his point of few he is strong. You idea of loving and helping him he will see as a fundamental weakness. I can imagine, though, that such a person when growing up in a loving family with good moral and ethical guidance and solid values might be able to put this strength to extremely good use. But it seems that grown up psychopaths are pretty immune to any kind of behavioral therapy.

            It is a lovely ideal, of course, to be able to express universal love even for evil people. Even for Anders Breivik, cynically smirking into the camera when he hears he won’t go to prison after murdering more than 70 people. I do not love Anders Breivik. And never will. I am afraid that I probably will not be able to reach such an enlightened state of being within this life. It sounds too much like a saint or Buddha or Jesus himself. Anders Breivik even leads a part of me into temptation to re-negotiate with me my deep conviction that there should be no death penalty. A part of me is willing to make an exception in his case. It doesn’t win, that part, but I have to admit it is there. An evil and shrill little voice. Temptations…

          • dichasium June 22, 2012 at 7:41 pm #

            Interesting Stefan. I had thought the Rand matter was about ideology. I think perhaps Jeremy’s site is not the place for my opinions. I’ll still read them and no doubt get drawn in again!

            I was not talking about cultures. Maybe, I ought to speak of human instinct.
            Do you know of any cultures (tribal or whatever), where the instinct is not for self survival, except for our loved ones. (Surely, it was inevitable that Germany, or any country, would question their position when the benefits were not so clear. Altruism is not normally included in the agenda when first set down, and, for most, it soon looks like altruism when asked to give, except for loved ones!)

            ‘Most are satisfied at a certain point’? Well, I think previous generations were because there was less available and less money to spare, but just about everywhere I look, people have wanted the latest of most things within their reach (and some not within their reach). Eventually, they may give up the chase ‘at a certain point’, but that’s usually, a long way down the line. Today, on the Rev. Giles post, J. Rutherford says yes ‘we are addicted to consumption/growth’, that ‘we’ is us (present company maybe excepted!). That’s what I am speaking of, but from the human nature/instinct position which seems to be alarmingly missing from all conversation.

            Re. the psychopath – if he has mentally dismantled me, I will not be in a position to produce love. I was thinking of a less dramatic scenario where it could be possible. I may have said to you before, but my sense of these issues comes from a deep conviction that nobody in their ‘right’ mind does anything wrong. This is because I believe we would not do any harm if we knew that our interests are united. In my opinion this is why Jesus could say ‘Forgive them Lord. They know not what they do.’ Perhaps Jesus or I have got it wrong. But, I want to believe it/live by it, to the best of my ability.

            Yes, many things are not inherently evil but it depends on how we use them. Some-one on the ‘Is Capitalism Evil’ today has said ‘We’re all supporting the evil with our dependence on ‘things’. Evil or not, what evil (bad) comes out of it can be found in us all unless we seek to eliminate it. And as per usual Stefan, I maintain that it stems (normally) from fear and it can produce an unbalanced mind, as can the fear I would experience under attack from the psychopath, and maybe even the psychopaths own genetics.

            Thanks for your replies. I’ll try to restrict myself from further conversations of this type, but can’t promise, so you’ll have to resist the temptation to kindly respond, if it is not what you really want!
            Regards, K.

      • Stefan Thiesen June 25, 2012 at 10:05 am #

        I think our dependence on “things” is strictly learned behavior. My 3 daughters (age 3 to 8) all just had their birthdays this June, and in total they got somewhere in the range of 100 presents. Things. It is insane. And then we go on vacation, somewhere by the sea, in a really, really simple house with no things around. For weeks they miss not a thing, running, hiking, playing with stick and sea shells, a ball and a shovel perhaps. No TV, no nothing. My impression is that people are happier with fewer things. This is what I mean with that most people are satisfied at a certain point. Ultimately wee seem less addicted to things than possessed by them. And I am no different. My house is crammed with things. Books mostly. Thousands of them. They, too, are things.

        But back to temptation: capitalism (in its current form) is a constant temptation. marketing/advertisement is constant temptation. And the interest based money creation I have repeatedly referred to as a greed equation. Or, ultimately, a suicide algorithm. So, after all, although I think the market, if balanced, can be a good force, as can money, the currently is existing form can be seen as evil.

        They know not what they do… and the system thrives on that. The system caters to human weaknesses and ignorance. And to stay in your picture: it creates fear and feeds on it.

        • dichasium June 25, 2012 at 4:20 pm #

          Stefan, I am responding to the other of your two comments of today but can’t see it on the blog! So you last words in it were ‘The system caters to human weaknesses and ignorance. And to stay in your picture: it creates fear and feeds on it.’ – I just want to make clear that this is only a part of my picture, for, in my complete picture it is a vicious circle and catch 22 because ‘it’ (the system) are people who, like most, fundamentally, (knowingly or otherwise), seek power over others because of their OWN fear. ‘They’ (the dominant) subsequently feed on ‘our’ fear which indirectly feeds them even more. I just need to absolve or indict (choice) us all in the same human instinct as, I may not know, but, I do believe that we stand no lasting chance of any real betterment without acknowledgement of this, even if only as individuals, with or without a God.

  2. dichasium June 14, 2012 at 6:16 pm #

    I looked at the link to Michael Moore’s Capitalism: A Love Story. The write-up said It is Michael Moore’s ultimate quest to answer the question he’s posed throughout his illustrious filmmaking career: Who are we and why do we behave the way that we do? I have not seen it to know whether he feels he answered the two questions, but, I believe that the answer to who we are is a personal decision, but why we behave the way that we do, is due to the fear which human nature contains. We want to feel strong so that we can protect ourselves today and tomorrow and for as long as possible. Hence we seek as much power as possible. Often, not getting enough to satisfy our vulnerable feelings makes people go too far or it gets warped into predatory behaviour. We need to recognise this deep human psychological drive if we are to stand a chance of improving the systems we put in place. Systems can only help to reduce or exacerbate this fear aspect of human nature within society. Individuals must choose how much to control it within themselves.

    • Jeremy June 15, 2012 at 10:50 am #

      Yes, and I think capitalism emphasises ‘power over’, rather than the healthier ‘power with’, because it is focuses on personal capital and private gain. There’s power in numbers too, in cooperating and pulling together.

  3. Stefan Thiesen June 15, 2012 at 8:38 am #

    What I am really interested is not a point of view (i.e. “If you are a Marxist…”). What I am interested in is to get as objective an insight as possible. But the question itself already contains a value. What is evil? Sustainability, for example, is an ethical decision. Unfortunately the term “capitalism” itself also is not so clearly defined. Sweden duly sees itself as a democratic capitalist free market society. Many conservative Americans see Sweden (and much of the EU with it) as a socialist state. What is capitalism? Is it the system that gives everyone and every corporation the theoretical chance to amass unlimited amounts of wealth and power (paid for by the majority that is left behind) and that is doomed to be stuck in a forced economic growth spiral until it hits the ultimate ceiling and crashes completely (think global wars, famines, burning the last forests, catching the last fish)? Or is it a guided random walk, a free market with checks and balances and rules and regulations that take care of everything from environmental protection, safety at the workplace and assuring that everyone gets a big enough share of the cake to live a decent life and granting that same right to future generations, too? When I look at the literature it turns out that perpetual growth hasn’t always been a part of capitalist economic theory. It is a post WWII concept. And it is technically flawed in a rather obvious way, ignoring the physical world. It is virtual from the outset. I often say: let’s lock it away into a computer simulation, and shoot that computer to outer space. And then let’s get to business again with real problems. Sustainable food production, for example, and climate change mitigation and adaptation, sustainable water supply to everyone – all that seems much bigger and more relevant to me than the – despite its impacts – highly virtual financial crisis. Is capitalism evil? I think no t. I see it as a tool, like so many tools, and it can be used for good and for bad, depending on the way it is applied. Also – globalization in many ways is ridiculous as it constantly allows corporations to benefit from lower health, social and environmental standards in various countries while destroying the production bases in their home states. Before my inner eye I see a globalized world of the regions, global corporation of ideas, yes. Global trade, yes. But whatever can be produced locally, should be produced locally. The good old slogan “Think global – act local” still holds true. Maybe the return of tariffs makes sense to adjust for differences in standards and wages (not within the EU – because within the EU it would make sense to produce in, say, Greece, within the context of an economic and financial union with gradually equalizing standards).

    • Jeremy June 15, 2012 at 10:40 am #

      Yes, that’s my conclusion too. Capitalism isn’t evil – although it was my job yesterday to play devil’s advocate and argue that it is. It’s a tool, as you say. It works on a spectrum, and societies can be more or less capitalist. Anything taken to an extreme becomes oppressive and potentially evil. But I think there is a balanced approach that uses aspects of capitalism and draws from other tools to keep it check and provide the things that capitalism can’t – like social care.

      Some countries have a healthier balance than others, but almost everyone is using some tools from the capitalist box. Even China.

  4. Stefan Thiesen June 15, 2012 at 9:17 am #

    Oh – forgot… in your presentation you quoted Ayn Rand. I remember that one sentence in the foreword to “The Fountainhead” gave me the creeps. Here we go:

    “(…) It does not matter that only a few in each generation will grasp and achieve the full reality of man’s proper stature – and that the rest will betray it. It is those few that move the world and give life its meaning – and it is those few that I have always sought to address. The rest are no concern of mine; it is not me or the Fountainhead that they will betray: it is their own souls.” (Thus quoth Ayn Rand, New York, May 1968).

    So – again: what we have here is a huge value issue. A decision. It can be interpreted in such a way that for Ayn Rand we all are sheep, except of a handful of wolves who are all that counts. According to Ayn Rand achieving your own happiness is the highest goal, the highest moral purpose in anyones life. Is a psychopath living out rational self interest, when dismantling the psyche of his fellow human beings makes him happy? Is the boss of a multi national corporation morally GOOD, when his billions, earned with slave labor in poor countries, make him HAPPY? No. It is NOT. Only over my dead body. I will challenge that assumption as long as I can breath. I am an atheist, but I do believe in the moral teachings of Jesus and Buddha and Gandhi and so many other TRUE FOUNTAINHEADS who have been out there. Unless, of course, I completely misunderstand Ms Rand, and she really does mean that, once he has deeply understood what true self interest serving our true inner nature really is, and that once enlightened the self interested human will live according to the sermon of the mount and the saving of all living beings. If that is what Ayn Rand means, I apologize. But I doubt that I have to apologize. Worse even are those people who justify their real or imagined global dominance on the base of Ayn Rand because they probably consider themselves to be among the selected few that make up her target audience, but who really in many cases are nothing but well networked corpocratic “Kleingeister”, quite the opposite of Ayn Rand’s self made and self defined men who bath in the glory of their own grandeur and splendor. And yet – I also see some value in Ayn Rand’s writings. Giving freedom to those who are different and creative certainly is a value. Developing a healthy self confidence is a value as well. Recognizing that yes, I am small, compared to the big, big universe but at the same time I have a brain with as many neural connections as there are Stars in the very universe. I am small. And big. BUT – in my view the greatest minds concluded that cooperation with others, protecting the weak (and helping them to stand up) and treading softly on our path is the right way to live. Ayn Rand reminds me of the Nazi Ideology. Only the strong are of concern to her. Only the type she defines. Instead she could have opted to teach the weak how to be stronger. But she didn’t. The 20th century gave us the extreme examples of Stalin and Hitler on the one and Gandhi and Mandela on the other end of the spectrum. And of course, it may well be true, that they all just did what made them happy…

    • Jeremy June 15, 2012 at 10:45 am #

      Interesting. I haven’t posted my whole talk here, as the students have to respond to my presentation and I don’t want to make it too easy! Perhaps I’ll post it once the assignments are in, but I contrast Rand’s conclusions with Jesus’ teachings.

      Rand writes that “Man—every man—is an end in himself, not a means to the ends of others; he must live for his own sake, neither sacrificing himself to others nor sacrificing others to himself; he must work for his rational self-interest, with the achievement of his own happiness as the highest moral purpose of his life.”

      This is taking this capitalist view of self interest to its logical conclusion, but at this end of the spectrum it’s the opposite of what Jesus said. He said that those who seek to save their lives will lose it, that it is the meek who inherit the earth.That in the Kingdom of God, the first will be last and the last will be first. He said love each other, and that the greatest form of love is to lay down your life for one’s friends.

      In Christianity, and in many other religions and wisdom traditions, a useful life is a life that is given away, lived in service of others.

      • Stefan Thiesen June 19, 2012 at 12:05 pm #

        Right. Unfortunately it is not exactly encouraging that we (as a species) have “known” what is right for Millenia and yet had and have immense difficulties to live and act accordingly. I actually think that it should make a healthy (or ideal) human happy to help his friends and loved ones, and probably many – if not mos – people would risk their life for their friends and family, if that is necessary. But there still are those who wouldn’t – and certainly most of us are not ideal or perfect.

      • dichasium June 19, 2012 at 11:58 pm #

        Today I was thinking of the old and oft used terms as I grew up – the ‘go-getters’ and the ‘wan’ums’ (short for the I ‘want them’ people). These people want to get more than the rest and get to the top. They are not meek, naive or ignorant of what they want or how to get it, they race to get ahead and care not for those without these ‘qualities’. As a result they are frequently in the top positions so I wonder how Stefan ‘s hope for ‘the ethical decision to leave nobody behind’ will ever fare. One other point, I thought Jesus said it counted for little or nothing to give to friends or family (no doubt as ego is involved?), but we were to love our enemy and our neighbour? Pure, total love for complete strangers, nothing in exchange.

        • Stefan Thiesen June 20, 2012 at 9:21 am #

          @dichasium: Here Kant comes into play – combined with democracy. But I am also aware of a cynical statement by an advertisement guy in a marketing seminar I once took – that about 50% of all people will buy whatever you tell them to, if you do it cleverly. For a fraction of the rest it is somewhat harder, and much of the remainder is immune to manipulations and decides for themselves. If this were true, democracy is doomed to fail, because sheer manipulation always can win elections.

          Let’s return to the psychopaths and sociopaths (which seem to be genetic) – perhaps the most extreme form of the go-getter. Will it help to love them? I am afraid it will help no more than to love a train that is about to run you over.

          • Stefan Thiesen June 20, 2012 at 10:09 am #

            Thinking about it: didn’t we already make that ethical decision to leave nobody behind here in the EU? Things are getting tougher, but it used to be so that everyone had a right to quality medical care, everyone had a right to free education (including university level education). Everyone had a right to a minimum standard of living – including housing and clothing – no matter whether employed or not, no matter whether disabled or not. So – I once could agree with Baroso last night when he said we are proud of the European Union, although all of these standards are currently being heavily eroded. The EU itself IS an absolutely amazing achievement for a continent that has lived through war, poverty and despair for the better part of three millenia. Despite all its shortcomings.

            I wonder about one thing: The treaty of Lisbon emphasizes “Solidarity between Member States”. Quote from the EU website: “The Treaty of Lisbon provides that the Union and its Member States act jointly in a spirit of solidarity if a Member State is the subject of a terrorist attack or the victim of a natural or man-made disaster.”

            I’d say the financial crisis certainly is a man made disaster. What concerns me is that there is process of divide and rule under way. A majority of Germans, for example, currently feels that “they” are paying for “them”. That “they” are paying for the failures and shortcomings of other countries and their people. I wonder why it is not seen as the population of Europe against the banking system? The people of Greece also are “us”, and I certainly would rather drop the banks than the people. I do not believe in the “too big to fail” rhetorics. Maybe to influential to fail.

  5. Jonathon Rutherford June 15, 2012 at 9:33 am #

    It seems patently obvious to me that capitalism – defined (at a minimum) as a system of (mostly) free competitive markets with private ownership, is entirely incompatible with sustainability and justice. This system must (through its ‘grow or die’ dynamic) have growth, it generates poverty/inequality, causes resource wars, and through its ceaseless drive to commodify everything breaks down the precious social bonds that bind communities together. But the even more interesting question we should be asking ourselves – given we are probably going to start crashing into the 2030 spike (and slow decline of industrial society to follow) – is what will replace capitalism. It could be some kind of nasty regress to a feudal order… or if we get our act together a genuinely nice democratic/egalitarian alternative

    • Stefan Thiesen June 19, 2012 at 12:19 pm #

      I personally distinguish between Capital-ISM and market. I wince when I hear the terms “free market society” or “capitalist society”. That I don’t want. I want a humane society. A democratic society. A civil society. A happy society – whatever. Market and capital are not the ends but merely the potential means. But when we look at the evening news we can get the idea that “the market”, “the banks”, “the Euro” “the economy” are all that counts. A free market is an illusion altogether. In complex dynamic systems with sources, sinks and multiple phase spaces you quickly get attractors that lead to accumulations, to lumps, concentrations. Maybe we should look at the evening sky instead of the evening news: In principal there is no difference, formally, between the formation of stars in a gas cloud and theeconomy. Ultimately a few biggies suck up all the fuel, so to say. And there is no more free market – there are a few big clusters who’s gravity dominates everything, while the rest is forced to orbit them, like planets orbit a sun. And the planets and the stars gradually sweep up everything else there is. This is not much different from what happens in a free market – in the end you have financial and industrial monopoles or oligopoles dominating the market, while beyond that there is a financial vacuum. So we cannot hope for a free market, but we can strive for a fair market. And that requires considerable regulation that begins with the ethical decision to leave nobody behind.

  6. Jonathon Rutherford June 15, 2012 at 9:42 am #

    Meant to say I liked the hampster :)

  7. Sword-chinned bitch June 22, 2012 at 6:22 pm #

    When I looked at your title — my instinctive answer was ‘yes,’ while I know the answer may not be that simple. I always say that this system absolutely requires that someone gets screwed, and had my theory validated by an economist who had written an article for the New Yorker a bit back — I’m sorry I can’t remember her name. She had said essentially what I’m saying. This system requires demons to keep the few people controlling things well fed. They throw the rest of us a few bones and some bs scare tactics to ward off competition, and everyone stays blind as a bat. We’re all supporting the evil with our dependence on ‘things.’

    • dichasium June 22, 2012 at 8:00 pm #

      Hi, I too want to say ‘yes’ to your comment but also know the answer is not that simple! However, I want to present an answer to you: It goes a deep and complex way down and includes our ego but, we ultimately, support the ‘evil’ (I prefer to say the error of our ways), because we fear for our own vulnerability which is the same reason that a few are controlling things to keep themselves fed. The system is not the fundamental cause but it is a system that helps it along. When/if we ever recognise this, it may help.

  8. Sword-chinned bitch June 22, 2012 at 10:39 pm #

    I propose a barter system and society based on principles of some of the so-called primitive societies of the ostracized groups from Africa — one of the biggest ‘demons’ necessary to fuel some longstanding mythologies of western ‘culture’. But as I say and you reiterate, we’re all in cahoots with this one.

  9. Stefan Thiesen June 25, 2012 at 10:32 am #

    Probably the banner gets it right: Capitalism isn’t working. In the dual sense of the meaning. As a tool it is flawed, and capital doesn’t work, doesn’t, out of itself, create anything. It may even be a positive force up to a certain point, but different situations need different strategies. The same strategy won’t work in an economy characterized by saturation rather than scarcity on the individual household level. We are on – or approaching the – far end of a sigmoidal function, where it flattens out. Yet within the system the re-distribution from lower income to those with high returns on capital continues. That wasn’t so obvious before, because during the continuous high growth phase the lower incomes also increased accordingly. Now the returns on capital continue to increase while the lower incomes are diminished. Evil might not be the right term, but ultimately it simply doesn’t work if we see a stable society and human rights as our main goals. And regarding Ayn Rand: I made an observation about extremely intelligent people: Some of them compare themselves to their fellow humans and see that they are vastly superior to them. And then they arrive at the necessarily wrong conclusion that they are vastly superior in an objective sense. They think they are so clever, so powerful with their minds that ultimately they confuse the content of their minds with reality. That is what happened to Ayn Rand. Or to quote Socrates: “This man (woman in this case), on one hand, believes that he (she) knows something, while not knowing [anything]. On the other hand, I – equally ignorant – do not believe [that I know anything].”

  10. james July 18, 2013 at 8:42 pm #

    communism doesnt work because of the greedy government controlling everyone else.. capatlism doesnt work because of the greedy pltuocrats ruling over everyone else…

    • Stefan Thiesen July 22, 2013 at 8:23 pm #

      Sounds like greed itself is the real culprit…

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 3,489 other followers

%d bloggers like this: