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capitalism

Enslaved peoples multiplied the fetish power of capital at least fivefold: they were labor, they were commodities, they were capital, collateral, and investment, they were consumers (since in many parts of South America, they were paid wages), and, in some areas, they were money, the standard on which the value of other goods was determined. They were also items of conspicuous consumption. For a rising gentry, they were adornments of their masters’ inner worth. For a declining aristocracy, rocked by the market revolution, they were objects of nostalgia, mementos of a fading world of stability, when things were what they seemed to be. Slavery helped create many of the social, financial, religious, and legal institutions we live with today. Greg Grandin

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Capitalism is, among other things, a massive process of ego formation, the creation of modern selves, the illusion of individual autonomy, the cultivation of distinction and preference, the idea that individuals had their own moral conscience, based on individual reason and virtue. The wealth created by slavery generalized these ideals, allowing more and more people, mostly men, to imagine themselves as autonomous and integral beings, with inherent rights and self-interests not subject to the jurisdiction of others. Slavery was central to this process not just for the wealth the system created but because slaves were physical and emotional examples of what free men were not. Greg Grandin

In the Soviet Union, capitalism triumphed over communism. In this country, capitalism triumphed over democracy. Fran Lebowitz

What one in any case should remember is the importance of the state in the birth, the first beginnings of capitalism …. The primary transforming factor is the state. National unity, currency standardization, juridical coherence, military strength and the beginnings of a national economy: all these were created and developed by the state, or with the state as organizing principle. Michel Beaud

I have a lot of friends who grew up in the USSR, or Yugoslavia, who describe what it was like. You get up. You buy the paper. You go to work. You read the paper. Then maybe a little work, and a long lunch, including a visit to the public bath… If you think about it in that light, it makes the achievements of the socialist bloc seem pretty impressive: a country like Russia managed to go from a backwater to a major world power with everyone working maybe on average four or five hours a day. But the problem is they couldn’t take credit for it. They had to pretend it was a problem, “the problem of absenteeism,” or whatever, because of course work was considered the ultimate moral virtue. They couldn’t take credit for the great social benefit they actually provided. Which is, incidentally, the reason that workers in socialist countries had no idea what they were getting into when they accepted the idea of introducing capitalist-style work discipline. “What, we have to ask permission to go to the bathroom?” It seemed just as totalitarian to them as accepting a Soviet-style police state would have been to us. David Graeber

The thrust of Keynesianism and the New Deal was to co-opt socialism. Keynes and FDR were actually quite conservative rather than the liberal giants they are made out to be. They recognized the seriousness of the situation for capitalism and adopted an expedient approach. Once that necessity was perceived to be over, the push of the elite was for a return to the status quo ante. Savage capitalism is back – and it will not tame itself

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…modern capitalism is a gigantic financial apparatus of credit and debt that operates – in practical effect – to pump more and more labor out of just about everyone with whom it comes into contact, and as a result produces and endlessly expanding volume of material goods. It does so not just by moral compulsion, but above all by using moral compulsion to mobilize sheer physical force. At every point, the familiar but peculiarly European entanglement of war and commerce reappears – often in startling new forms. The first stock markets in Holland and Britain were based mainly in trading shares of the East and West India companies, which were both military and trading ventures. For a century, one private, profit-seeking corporation governed India. The national debts of England, France, and the others were based in money borrowed not to dig canals and erect bridges, but to acquire gunpowder needed to bombard cities and to construct camps required for the holding of prisoners and the training of recruits. Almost all of the bubbles of the eighteenth century involved some fantastic scheme to use the proceeds of colonial ventures to pay for European wars. Paper money was debt money, and debt money was war money, and this has always remained the case. Those who financed Europe’s endless military conflicts also employed the government’s police and prisons to extract ever-increasing productivity from the rest of the population. David Graeber

Every day brings a new revelation that shows Occupy Wall Street was correct. We are trapped in a system that’s consciously designed to keep us in a state of want and frustration. Such a system is against the innate rights of man. Such a system is illegitimate and should not exist. The Free Market, Like Everything Else, Is A LIE

Children were still overworked and even enslaved prior to the existence of factories, but factories allowed children to be mistreated in greater numbers by people without relationships or structures of accountability. Farmers mistreated animals long before the age of the factory farm, but the advent of modern chemistry, machinery, and even genomics have allowed far more animals to be mistreated– and thus be consumed by people whose bodies were never prepared to eat that much meat. Technology, in flattening various natural barriers, not only allows us to live without fear of many random destructive happenstances, but also removes the natural limits to human power that kept us from doing harm to one another and to the earth for centuries. The damage that has been done to physical ecology is analogous the the damage done to our moral ecologies; just as technology allows to eat without any regard for where our food comes from or at what (often federally subsidized) cost it was extracted, so technology also gives us the power to live more autonomously in the pursuit of our stubborn sinfulness. Faith, Family, and the Dangers of Capitalism

Once great men created fortunes; today a great system creates fortunate men. Richard Hofstadter

It is futile to be ‘anti-Fascist’ while attempting to preserve capitalism. Fascism after all is only a development of capitalism, and the mildest democracy, so-called, is liable to turn into Fascism. George Orwell

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