Avarice wins when a financial firm like Goldman Sachs goes bankrupt while gambling and it is bailed out by public money. Fear wins when a similar bankruptcy among homeowners, as a result of the same crisis, results in millions of home foreclosures. Avarice wins when every state adopts a lottery and gambling to generate tax revenue. Fear wins when the government encourages you to take out loans to get a degree and no work worthy of any degree is in sight. Garbage In, Garbage Out ☀
There can be no doubt that had capitalism developed in accordance with its own contradictory logic, it would have been defeated by the proletariat. In an ideal sense, Marx’s analysis is still irreproachable. But Marx simply did not foresee that it would be possible for capital, in the face of the imminent threat to its existence, to transpoliticize itself, as it were: to launch itself into an orbit beyond the relations of production and political contradictions, to make itself autonomous in a free-floating ecstatic and haphazard form, and thus to totalize the world in its own image. Capital (if it may still be so called) has barred the way of political economy and the law of value; it is in this sense that it has successfully escaped its own end. Henceforward it can function independently of its own former aims, and absolutely without reference to any aims whatsoever. The inaugural event of this mutation was undoubtedly the Great Crash of 1929. Jean Baudrillard ☀
One of the problems with traditional anti-capitalist thought is that it defines capitalism as a totality, which encourages us to imagine another totality, socialism, which we can try to replace it with. This totalizing perspective has colonized the imagination of anti-capitalism and left us waiting for a revolution we can never have. Cynthia Kaufman ☀
Whenever I’ve asked an Ayn Rand/Austrian School Capitalist what their ideal economy would look like (they get super mad if you mention Somalia), they’ve said “The Industrial Revolution.” What they don’t get is that it was the Industrial Revolution that first caused people to turn towards Socialism in the first place. They don’t get that lusting after a society where the poor are fine with being exploited and miserable is far more “utopian” than any leftist has ever dreamed of being. How to start a class war in 21st century America ☀
If you want to make money, you can choose between two fundamentally different strategies. One is to create genuinely new value by bringing resources together in ways that serve people’s wants and needs. The other is to seize value through predation, taking resources, money, or time from others, whether they like it or not. The Locust and the Bee ☀
As transnational capitalism gains momentum, the chieftains of major U.S. international corporations feel less and less empathy towards their homeland and more akin to a world-state wherein the entire planet is their haunt. Their quest for profits dictates a worldly view that brushes aside nation-state regulations that interfere with profits, and their disdain for the peoples of any given nation-state leads to statist political leanings, meaning a concentration of economic controls and planning in the hands of a centralized government for control of individual nation-states whilst worldwide trade is subjected to free market capitalism. This course of action is already evident in Europe where nation-states like Portugal are being dictated to by a centralized body of technocrats, the EU. Likewise, this is happening in America where the Central Bank has become dictator of the markets whilst the global corporations on the Dow Jones Industrial Average carry on in their own markets around the world, splashing strong profits, in part, because of neoliberal tendencies that discriminate between which nation-states offer the cheapest labor and the weakest regulations. The common denominator of global corporations is cheap labor; they hover like bees around the queen wherever cheap labor is to be found. Transnational Capitalism ☀
Capitalism can create prosperity, but left unfettered it doesn’t create broadly shared prosperity — and never will. If belief and participation in democracy are sustained by people’s conviction that democracy produces good economic outcomes, then the growing concentration of wealth and income in the United States is a long-term threat to everything we profess to stand for. A nation where 93 percent of income growth goes to the top 1 percent is not a nation that will embark on great projects, or long command the allegiance of its people. Harold Meyerson ☀
Capitalism has no built-in moral code other than maximizing profits. Whatever morality exists is brought to the table by individuals, but the system itself does not reward compassion; indeed, ruthlessness and cruelty are central features of the game. Capital has been engaged in a long-term struggle to deprive people of access to the resources they need to build a good life for themselves. It creates an environment that allows a small group or even one person to live extremely well on the backs of those whose access to resources they control. Once people become separated from the resources that they need to live, they must re-acquire them on terms favorable to the capitalist. In some cases, the result is modern-day slavery. The separation of people from the resource base is a central theme in the human history of the world and at the heart of our systemic problem today. Doug Harvey ☀
Capitalism, the infernal machine ☀
- Aaron Leonard: You write, "Capital is not a book about politics, and not even a book about labour: it is a book about unemployment." Could you talk about why you think that is true?
- Frederic Jameson: I know this is probably surprising for people who always think of Marx in political terms, but there is really very little mention of any political action in Capital. There is certainly the implication of the kind of society that could come out of capitalism and also of the contradictions that could lead to the end of capitalism and I am not saying that Marx was not political or didn't constantly think of political strategies, but Capital is not a book about that. It is a book about this infernal machine that is capitalism.
- It is a book about unemployment in the sense that the absolute general law of capitalism, as he enunciates it, is to increase productivity -- as a result, as he writes, "The relative mass of the industrial reserve army [the unemployed] increases therefore with the potential energy of wealth." I think this corresponds very much to what is happening in the present. I heard the most revealing thing recently from a venture capitalist, obviously annoyed by the constant talk of both Republicans and Democrats about supporting business so it can ‘create jobs.'
- He said look, "Nobody wakes up in the morning and says, I wanted to increase my payroll because I think it's good for the American economy." This is a pretty direct way of saying business does not exist to create jobs; it is there to make money. That is exactly what Marx lays out in Capital. There is no direct connection between productivity and creating jobs.
- This was not so clear as long as Keynesian economics were being applied in certain countries -- Keynes understood there had to be workers with enough money to buy all these goods being produced. Since Reagan and Thatcher, however, we get something more like the fundamental logic of capital Marx described. It is not just job flight to other countries; this is part of a worldwide process.
- You want to bring factories back to the United States but on the other hand you want them to be productive? Well that means more and more automation and less and less workers, it is obvious. So I think there really is a profound contradiction between employment and what the system does. In that sense it seems to me, a political demand of the kind that there used for full employment is a demand for something the system can't possibly provide.
Market advocates correctly note that markets have a wonderful ability to self-regulate in the public interest. When market advocates go on to argue, however, that the solution for market failure is to get government out of the way, they demonstrate remarkable ignorance of basic market economics. Markets self-organize in the public interest only if incentives align with the public interest. David Korten ☀
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