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Arts and Culture

Troy Jollimore on Markets and Morality

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Posted on Jul 22, 2010

By Troy Jollimore

“With the collapse of communism, markets and the political theories that advocate expanding the market have been enjoying a considerable resurgence,” writes Stanford University professor Debra Satz in her new book, “Why Some Things Should Not Be for Sale: The Moral Limits of Markets.” “Markets are not only spreading across the globe, but they are also extending to new domains, such as environmental pollution. For many people market institutions are assuming the role of an all-purpose remedy for the defects of the cumbersome government bureaucracies of the Western world, the poverty of the Southern world, and the coercive state control of the planned economies. This remains true despite the recent economic downturn.”

Indeed, the market’s stock has perhaps never been higher, and the idea that the voluntary exchange of goods between free individuals might answer every significant economic, social and even ethical question has perhaps never been more widely accepted. But in the midst of all this celebration of the market’s virtues—and let us admit, as Satz is perfectly willing to admit, that a market can indeed be a very efficient and effective means of coordinating complicated activities among a large group of individuals with differing agendas—there are also some reasons for concern. Efficient, after all, does not necessarily imply admirable or just (or even, on occasion, tolerable). Moreover, technological advances have made available types of markets that were not possible before. Fertile women can now rent out their wombs for nine months and become surrogate mothers. And while it is not yet legal in this country for individuals to sell their kidneys and other bodily organs to those who need them, such a day may not be far off.

Indeed, given the current shortage of healthy organs, the creation of a market for them might seem not only inevitable but eminently sensible. And there is also, of course, the moral argument for allowing such sales: My kidneys are mine (if not, then whose are they?), and the fact that something is mine gives me certain rights over it, including, ordinarily, the right to sell it to someone else at a price that we both agree on. This argument forms the core of the standard libertarian explanation of why we should have free markets in organs, in surrogate motherhood, in prostitution and, indeed, in pretty much everything.

 

book cover

 

Why Some Things Should Not Be for Sale: The Moral Limits of Markets

 

By Debra Satz

 

Oxford University Press, 264 pages

 

Buy the book

Is it true, though, that the right to something must always include the right to freely exchange it? Take what is perhaps the most compelling apparent counter-example, that of vote-buying. I suppose we could imagine a supremely committed libertarian who would argue, in Robert Nozick’s memorable phrase, that government ought not to prohibit “capitalist acts between consenting adults”—not even when what is for sale is an individual’s right to vote in an election. But it would be difficult, one suspects, to find very many people who would accept this. Nearly all of us understand that the very functioning of a democracy depends on the powerful and wealthy not having the ability simply to buy their way into the country’s political offices—at least not in so blatant a manner.

Vote-selling, then, is a fairly easy and noncontroversial case of a market that ought not to be permitted. But where else should the market not go? The most controversial cases discussed by Satz are probably those of surrogate motherhood, which is currently permitted in the U.S., and organ selling, which is not. In contrast to the vote-selling case, allowing a market to operate in either of these contexts might not seem inherently anti-democratic. The popular perception, indeed, is that if restricting markets in such goods is justifiable, it is so because to put such goods on the market is to value them in the wrong way: It degrades or demeans a womb or kidney to offer cash for the use of it.

But of course this reason for prohibiting such markets meets strong opposition from the libertarian, who will simply ask: Shouldn’t it be up to the person who owns the good in question whether or not offering it up in exchange for cash is appropriate? If an individual agrees that kidneys are sacred, in a way that makes such exchanges inappropriate, then she need not offer her own kidneys for sale. But what right do we have to impose our own value judgments on others?

To see long excerpts from “Why Some Things Should Not Be for Sale,” click here and go to Google Books.

Satz’s approach is quite different, and renders the cases of surrogate motherhood and organ sale much closer to the vote-selling case. On her view, what all or nearly all “noxious” markets have in common is that they undermine the ideal of equal standing between persons, or of equal democratic citizenship:

A market exchange based in desperation, humiliation, or begging or whose terms involve bondage or servitude is not an exchange between equals. On my view, lurking behind many, if not all, noxious markets are problems relating to the standing of the parties before, during, and after the process of exchange.

I will also argue in this chapter that some markets are noxious and need to be blocked or severely constrained if the parties are to be equals in a particular sense, as citizens in a democracy. […] As I see it, a major problem with noxious markets is not that they represent inferior ways of valuing goods (as those who link the limits of markets to social meanings claim) but that they undermine the conditions that people need if they are to relate as equals.

Particularly worrisome, in terms of equality concerns, are exchanges in which one of the parties is in a position to exploit the “underlying extreme vulnerabilities” of the other:

[W]hen a desperately poor person agrees to part with an asset at a fire sale price, even if the exchange improves his well-being we are rightly concerned with the fact that his circumstances made him willing to accept an offer for his asset that no one with a decent alternative would ever accept. When a person enters a contract from a position of extreme vulnerability he is likely to agree to almost any terms that are offered.

Such vulnerabilities are morally salient in, for instance, the organ case: According to many people, Satz writes, “a kidney sale is objectionable because it is a paradigmatic desperate exchange, an exchange no one would ever make unless faced with no reasonable alternative.” Sales of this kind are objectionable on the individual level, but the objections multiply when one considers the general social context. “It has been keenly noted that international organ markets transfer organs from poor to rich, third world to first world, female to male, and nonwhite to white.” (One might be reminded of Kazuo Ishiguro’s novel “Never Let Me Go”—a comparison explicitly drawn by Satz—which depicts the plight of a subclass of human clones grown solely so that their organs can be harvested for the benefit of the ailing wealthy.)

Organ sales also tend to involve another characteristic feature of objectionable markets, weak agency, which in Satz’s usage most often indicates that one of the transacting parties is significantly under-informed. Many potential organ sellers in India, for instance, are quite unaware of the results of a recent study of kidney sellers in that country: Over 86 percent of participants experienced a substantial decline in health following their surgery, and 79 percent said they regretted the decision to sell their kidneys. And even if one knows those facts, imagination can fail us: It is hard to anticipate, perhaps, what it is like to have a kidney surgically removed and to live without it.

 


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Anarcissie's avatar

By Anarcissie, August 9, 2010 at 2:44 pm Link to this comment

1a.  Ideally, then, an institution implementing socialized capitalism would be created and managed by its constituents.

2.  I think you mean social capital here.  Social capital is large but vague.  We know it exists but we don’t know how to quantify it, much less manipulate it, except in vague ways (for example, Mr. Cooper’s project, or public education in general, or the Peace Corps, etc.)  We can’t yet say, “We will fund and support this project with n dollars/pounds/quatloos of social capital.”

3.  I think the sense of religion or religious difference arises when one encounters a radically different set of assumptions or point of view in another person.  I used to be on a mailing list where the Marxists often complained that the anarchists “sounded like religious nuts.”  In this case, however, I am citing evidence from history and nature and applying reason to it, so I don’t think I’m on the religious-nuttery hook.  How about your belief in the necessity of authority?

4.  ...

5.  From the point of view of the leftist, class war already exists, in the form of the state.  It’s not a matter of starting it, it’s a matter of dealing with it.

There is no reason not to try subverting traditional capitalism—in fact this is one of the strategies I vaguely recommend—but one should remember that as long as there is any kind of capitalism, there is going to be a class structure, and all that that implies.  A lot of people back in hippie days thought that capitalism was going to be subverted and transformed, but instead it ate all the hippies up and made them go to law school.  So it is not so easy to tame the monster.

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By Foucauldian, August 9, 2010 at 1:41 pm Link to this comment

Let me throw you a curveball, Anarcissie, a variation
on the theme, if you like.  Let’s talk privatization
and subsidies.

(1) We know of course that privatization is the idea
of the day of late - of prisons, in the area of
private security, not to mention the private
contractors hired by the military.  And the reasons
cited have to do with government bureaucracies,
fraud, things of that sort.  Operational efficiency
and cost cutting is the name of the game.  Why let
the government do the job, so the argument goes, if
the same job can be done cheaper and better.

Well, the most recent discussion concerned the
operations of the USPS (United States Postal Service)
and their chronic deficit.  The remedies proposed
included cuts in the service (e.g., the elimination
of Saturdays as delivery day), and a rate hike of
course. 

Well, the privatization proponents argued for more
drastic measures, naturally.  Why not just simply
dismantle the USPS altogether, and let the FedEx, the
UPS, and the like assume the operations?

Of course, there was still the matter of “rural
routes” to consider, routes which, by anyone’s
estimation, were money-losers, an unfathomable
proposition for any righteous, profit-oriented
concern.  Consequently, the question became:  How to
service those routes without incurring a next-to-
certain loss? Or, alternately, how to justify
providing full service without resorting to a rate
hike?

The solution.  Why not let the feds subsidize those
routes?  Surely, it would allow the private concern
to operate profitably while providing a comprehensive
service at a reasonable cost?

So here is the idea of government subsidy for your
consideration.  Public transportation systems already
operate on that basis.  But here is the trick
question:  To subsidize something like public
transportation for the purpose of making it
affordable - to seniors, let’s say, or low-income
people - surely you can’t tax those people for the
service you’re providing; it’d be counterproductive. 
The bulk of the money, through taxes, must therefore
come from those who can afford it.  Sure, it’s
progressive taxation, but it’s not a new idea.

Now, at face value, there’s little or no difference
between (a) a rate hike for all, say, FedEx customers
in order to help pay for the unprofitable routes and
(b) not raising the rates and having the unprofitable
routes subsidized.  Indeed, there is no difference
whatever when it comes to the service itself.  But it
makes a world of difference when it comes to who is
going to bear the cost.

On the “rate hike” scenario, the extra cost incurred
in servicing the unprofitable routes would be borne
by each and every customer, regardless of income. But
with the government subsidy in place, the added cost
would be apportioned (again, via taxes) according to
affordability, a far fairer system, I daresay) which
only a government can avail itself of.  Private
concerns have no stake in this issue.  A rate hike is
a rate hike, is a rate hike.  [Utilities are an
exception, allowing for a sliding scale (lifeline
phone service, for one, with ATT), but utilities
aren’t strictly speaking private concerns; they’re
being subsidized too.

So here is one factor to consider, the instrument of
subsidy, especially as it affects to distribution of
costs, a consideration which, for understandable
reasons of course, is not going to be heeded to by a
typical business concern. 

Since I’m running out of the number of characters
allowed, I’ll continue in the next post.

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Shenonymous's avatar

By Shenonymous, August 9, 2010 at 1:12 pm Link to this comment

1a. Anarcissie, transition from one tradition to a new conception is
unlike turning a new page showing an all new scenario.  A new
chapter maybe.  To have real socialized capitalism, independence
from government of the financial domain is the objective, yes like
Cooper Union and it would be crucial to keep the state as far from
‘tainting’ as possible. It is human nature to taint!  I don’t think
ThomasG is confused. I think he must explain his conception in
logical syllogistic structure for those strong minds who already have
a mental model of how thing ought to work.  He is coming along
though. A long way from where he started. He needs to move away
from the margins of his idea into the muscle of it: Yes, what is the
first step?  Good question.

1b.  No doubt it is known but moot. My point: it is the exception not
the rule.

2.  Since there is more than one way of interpreting or analyzing
economics, socialized capitalism qualifies as one way.  I agree that all
the chinks have not been ironed out.  But is that necessary to get it
started?

3.  You use the word religious in an idiosyncratic way.  Some anarchic
perspectives equals chaos not because it is an authoritarian belief but
because of the violence that historically has accompanied its aims and
its actions.  Just the word conjures images of death and destruction. 
What’s the evidence that anarchic self-organizing systems of the scale
about which we are talking does not devolve into a troubling situation? 
It is similar to the lack of evidence for a supernatural being interacting
in human life or affairs.  Contrary to yours is my view: Modern anarchy
is like a religion; but so is authoritarianism that coerces using violent
power over the society.  Religious resonance and personal opinions
aside, in any group a hierarchy emerges regardless of the ideology.
(Dominance, Status, and Social Hierarchies. Sect. 2.2).

4.  Not only are personal theories subjectively vague, they have no
objective legitimacy.  Claims of knowledge of anything are claims of
objectivity. You are correct, not only ought ‘they’ to be explicit but
moreover need to be evidenced.

5.  I don’t believe I said anything about war and conflict being
irrelevant.  I thought taking up the notion of war would digress from
the discussion.  It is a topic in itself.  But all right, briefly, if you wish to
pursue it as critical to socialized capitalism.  I’d say it is dependent on
what point of view one wants to take. Indeed, war and class conflict can
be seen as a strategy of capitalist states.  But can be seen also as the
first strategy of anarchists who want to overthrow a present
governmental state.  And yes, any conflict of that magnitude would
affect all institutions and social structures.  How could it not?  Is social
democracy supposed to solve the problems of war?  Isn’t it a socialistic
economic system like its newer welfare state capitalism reincarnation
contrived as an alternative to communistic socialist economics?  I am
not a purist and do not agree with the far left’s criticism of social
democracy not being genuine socialism.  I think purists (who also have
a regimented mentality) create bad situations, far left and far right
purists.  Socialized capitalism is different.  It utilizes social capital and
does not expropriate the entire business/agricultural/industrial world. It
weans society from dependence on the state for their existence.  It
allows for private capitalism to exist concurrently as long as (as stated
before) it does not confiscate funds for social welfare and estate of the
common people.  As per ThomasG, the private sector would be in
competition with the populace, it may or may not survive.  There is an
effectual distinction that must be made between kinds of economics. 
So how about we invent a new goddess:  TATA There are Truer
Alternatives?

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Anarcissie's avatar

By Anarcissie, August 9, 2010 at 12:31 pm Link to this comment

I wasn’t asking where money or wealth in the entire economy come from, but rather how particular institutions which fit you concepts get started.  Let us say on Day 1 of the ThomasG era, a lot of people show up and say, “Yeah!  Let’s do it!!”  But they need to know what to do.  What do you tell them?  What is the first step?

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ThomasG's avatar

By ThomasG, August 9, 2010 at 10:07 am Link to this comment

REPOST:

With regard to Anarcissie’s August 9, 2010 11:46 am post concerning Socialized Capitalism, banks ARE Social Enterprises, and I have indicated in my August 8, 2010 3:44 pm post that Socialized Business, Socialized Industry, and Socialized Commerce should be diffuse and independent, “rather than “Top Down” State Run Capitalism to which I am opposed”, and to this degree the Model of the Bank of North Dakota would need adjustment according to the parameters I have indicated.

With regard to where the money comes from, how the money is used as Social Capital, and the Production of a Revenue Stream, the explanations are the same as is given by Francois Quesnay in “The Economical Table.”

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MarthaA's avatar

By MarthaA, August 9, 2010 at 9:59 am Link to this comment

With regard to Anarcissie’s August 9, 2010 11:46 am post concerning Socialized Capitalism, banks ARE Social Enterprises, and I have indicated in my August 8, 2010 3:44 pm post that Socialized Business, Socialized Industry, and Socialized Commerce should be diffuse and independent, “rather than “Top Down” State Run Capitalism to which I am opposed”, and to this degree the Model of the Bank of North Dakota would need adjustment according to the parameters I have indicated.

With regard to where the money comes from, how the money is used as Social Capital, and the Production of a Revenue Stream, the explanations are the same as is given by Francois Quesnay in “The Economical Table.”

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Anarcissie's avatar

By Anarcissie, August 9, 2010 at 7:46 am Link to this comment

Shenonymous—

1a.  The Bank of North Dakota is unusual in some ways, but it is owned and operated by the state of North Dakota.  Therefore, it is (1) originally funded by a government which doubtless obtained the money in the usual ways, and (2) is organizationally top-down in inception and maintenance.  Whether or not these are desirable characteristics, ThomasG had forcefully denied that his idea was to be so funded and so maintained, hence my (or his) confusion about what he was talking about.

The idea of having banks and other corporations whose function was to increase social capital is an excellent idea, but I’d rather see them as independent of the government and traditional corporations as possible, like Cooper Union, lest they be tainted by the power games of the state.  (See (5) below.)  However, ThomasG repeatedly insisted on the production of a “revenue stream” so I think he must have been talking about something else.

1b.  I’m saying that expropriation is unusual but it is hardly unknown and it is politically acceptable to those who think they benefit thereby.

2.  In regard to social capital, it is true that you can send skilled people and even organizations to other places, but they are not necessarily going to function in the new environment as they did in the old one.  In any case this is more like traditional capital and can be analyzed that way, i.e. we can say we will start our socialized-capital bank or corporation with 1000 people doing certain jobs and managing one another at an average overhead of $100,000 per person per year.  Now we know that the initial funding for the first year will have to include $100 million dollars for personnel (unless as I said we can get people to volunteer or we can draft them, in which case they will still cost a certain amount of money even though they receive no wages).  We still have to figure out where the $100 million or equivalent is going to come from—we can’t hand-wave it.

3.  Anarchy means a lack of rulers or leaders, not chaos.  Authoritarians believe that anarchy is chaos because they cannot conceive of self-organizing systems, but nature, including human daily life, is full of them.  The authoritarian belief is a religious belief because it is not based on evidence and reason but on intuition and emotional attachment.

4.  I mentioned objective truth because you complained that anarchist theories and plans were vague.  In my case, since I don’t claim more than a partial and subjective knowledge of the universe, my theories would be unreasonable if they weren’t vague.  Others, however, have claimed knowledge of objective truth, so it seems to me they should be explicit in their proposals.

5.  For me, war and class conflict are never irrelevant because they appear to be intrinsic features of states, including capitalist states; I think this affects the nature of institutions and social structures within those states, at least those which depend on the state for their existence, like corporations.  ThomasG’s proposal looks like good old social democracy to me, and social democracy doesn’t solve the problem of war and class conflict, as you can see from the present circumstances and behavior of the one(s) we live in.

The usual social-democratic response to this situation is to invoke the goddess TINA (There Is No Alternative).  I don’t accept this as a reasonable argument.

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Shenonymous's avatar

By Shenonymous, August 9, 2010 at 4:24 am Link to this comment

There are several ways of putting things that might seem like they
mean the same thing but there are fine distinctions. 

1.  The Bank of North Dakota in Bismarck is most certainly a “state”
ergo a government entity but not a usual one.  It is the only state-
owned bank in the country. Its raison d’etre is to support state
agriculture, commerce and other industries and is also the only
‘socialist’ bank in the country offering cheap loans for farmers,
students and many businesses.  And it is not a member of the
Federal Reserve.  The Huffington Post article is most revealing. 

Perhaps there are cases of expropriation, most certainly in other
countries and occasionally here as you exampled but it is not the rule
and for it to be used as material for an argument it would need to be
an immanent, widespread and systematic governmental action.  Often
municipalities and states expropriate homes to make way for various
projects, roads, dams, etc., under the immanent domain act.  I realize
it is not unheard of.  But we are talking about a huge and concentrated
pattern shift.  That will not happen in this country in anyone’s wildest
dream.

2.  With my statement I didn’t mean you had said that social capital
pales in the shadow of dollars.  It was my way of saying that in the
world the dollar is the shiny emperor and would seem to eclipse any
notion of social capital.  Sorry if my locution was seen as personal. 

Well you can send social capital to Tasmania in the form of doctors,
construction teams, teachers, artists even.  Hanifan’s example
beautifully gives dozens of ways social capital can be generated.  To
what end the human energy and financial are put in Tasmania will
determine whether or not socialized capitalism is at work.

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Shenonymous's avatar

By Shenonymous, August 9, 2010 at 4:21 am Link to this comment

3.  Not being religious in any way shape or form I would hardly say
I was cuffed and bound to the necessity of authority.  I freely live in
America where rules of society are principles to which I freely yield. 
I am simply saying that every organization of any great size will
devise some guiding principles.  Those principles are the authority.
And usually a leader will emerge or be selected.  Psychologically
speaking, I believe people, in general, like to be led.  At least I
think history is on my side on that one.  Complete anarchy is chaos.
Self-control within a large group is a myth and therein who believes
it, actually, is the religious one.  Myths are the bases of all religions.

Unless you plan on a world-wide re-education of what anarchy is or at
least was originally, which has been lost over the centuries, what it is
thought of now is a descent into violent bedlam.  From my readings
about Bakunin, Kropotkin and Godwin, their intention was that “life and
conduct under which society is conceived without government -
harmony in such a society being obtained, not by submission to law, or
by obedience to any authority, but by free agreements concluded
between the various groups…,” as found in EB 1910.  Its main principle,
most simply said, is a societal organization without a ruler or other
form of centralized, coercive control.  While under communism, persons
become drones to the state and are not really free, under anarchism
people to live in a group also have to have rules and agreements, so
complete freedom is untenable. My point is that hierarchies will form
regardless of the ideological basis unless the current violent
understanding of anarchy prevails.

4.  I wonder if anyone is in touch with “objective” truth.  That is really a
different argument and a digression.  I agree that discovery of truth is
The Plan, at least that is my Plan as well.  Else I’d not even be a
Truthdipper.  I am not so arrogant as to tell others that they must live
certain ways, nor would I appreciate it if others told me.  I am
considered a rascal in my family.  If asked I offer my opinion and advice
but never expect it be taken.  Same with my students.  It becomes their
choice to use the class as it is structured.  And while grades might be
thought of as coercion, no one, no anarchist, is holding a gun to their
heads.  Grades are a measure of the learned material. 

As far as killing people by governments:  I too abhor war, all war and
imperialism.  I have often expressed my disgust and nausea about
killing.  And you are right, if statists, and anarchists, would stop killing,
maiming,…which really are not funny games, not only would I be better
off but so would everyone else.  But it is not as simple as wishes or ifs. 
And talking about war is also a digression so I’ll let it go for now. 

An interesting and thoughtful discussion, so thank you Anarcissie.

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By Anarcissie, August 8, 2010 at 6:47 pm Link to this comment

Foucauldian—I didn’t say that the TVA or PeMex were desirable, only that they were examples of state capitalism.

Shenonymous—A number of points.

1.  Taxes have come up because in a previous go-‘round I hypothesized that socialized capital might be originally funded from the usual governmental methods of getting funds.  ThomasG denied this would be the case.  However, he has now put forward the example of a bank started by the State of North Dakota, so I guess maybe it is the case.  Who knows?  Chasing this question, for which there seems to be no settled answer, has gotten kind of tedious.

Expropriation is not as far-fetched as you think.  In the form of eminent domain it was recently used by the capitalist government of the State of New York to serve the plans of a private capitalist.  Everyone is fine with expropriation as long as the good stuff winds up in the “right” hands.

2.  I didn’t say social capital paled in shadow of dollars.  I said it was a sociological concept which is not well-defined and in any case is difficult to manipulate.  You can send a hundred million dollars to Tasmania, or a hundred million dollars’ worth of machine tools there, but you can’t send any particular amount of social capital to Tasmania.  You may be able to encourage the growth of social capital there by some kind of Peace Corps kind of effort, but it can’t be gathered, sent, deployed, stored or put to use on specific projects like traditional capital.  It’s in a different category.  It’s a different kind of thing.

Hence saying that socialized capital will be funded or supplied from social capital doesn’t tell us much of anything.

3.  Your belief in the necessity of authority appears to be religious.  I have given evidence from nature against that belief to no avail; I can do no more.

4.  I agree that my plans and proposals are rather vague in some areas.  I don’t claim to be in touch with objective truth.  Part of the plan, if any, is a process of discovery.  In any case, I am much too anarchistic to specify how people are to live in the future.  On the other hand, I can tell you where the money’s going to come from for my specific projects, or at least the oatmeal cookies.

As I said before (I think) my activism is a response to certain conditions which some people see as problems.  For example, the United States government goes on unnecessarily killing harmless people, year in and year out, in an effort to control and dominate the world.  Killing people unnecessarily is murder.  If I do not want to be complicit in murder I have to find some way of understanding and resisting this behavior.  In my analysis, the need to dominate the world is simply the logical extension of the idea of the state.  If statists would stop killing, maiming, torturing, terrorizing, kidnapping, imprisoning, robbing, spying, lying and generally acting ugly in the street, I would have less of a problem with their funny games.

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By Shenonymous, August 8, 2010 at 3:58 pm Link to this comment

Fielding pot shots and other things.
I’m sure I have not proposed that there was anything definitively
proposed for socialized capitalism.  ThomasG just posted a more
definitive description but it is not yet put into a system format.  It is
getting better but is still too broadly conceived.  I had seen a special
60 Minutes log on the Bank of North Dakota and at the time I
thought it fit ThomasG’s thesis to a tee.  And yes I would think that
by reason of its being applied to the governing practice of this nation,
it would use established (traditional) methods of fully charging its
treasury for redistribution in programs that attend to the needs of its
people.  It is the main and predominant flow of capital called money,
the treasury gets filled by more than taxes.  As I’ve mentioned before,
revenues are accumulated from fines, penalties, fees for special
services.  And there are many kinds of taxes.  A national sales tax
(VAT) could possibly replace income tax that apparently could generate
much more revenue, so O’Neill and Rubin theorize.  But that is a
besides the point issue here. 

You are certainly twenty heads above me in understanding economics
and the financial world.  But I am not sure what you mean by
expropriating the means of production.  You mean to outright take
them over as communists would do?  I do not think that would fly even
in a pipedream for a nanosecond.  Federal regulations now would be
feasible and ought to be legislated and with a more liberal Congress. 
But as polls show, people, ordinary Americans, are more conservative
even though it loves and would fight for its freedoms.  It is schizoid
that way.

Yes, capital, as classically thought of, is defined as money, and its evil
twin, credit.  And the machines that define the industrial sector, is also
considered capital according to economic theory.  Technology,
infrastructure and especially corporate organization I can’t see as
capital as they are too amorphous and abstract.  I can’t see the way to
assign even hypothetical dollars to them.  And yes, social capital would
include the value of the inter-adhesion created by local group
organization such that projects result without full financial architecture. 
That is the point of social capital, as I understand it. 

I agree social capital seems to pale in the shadow of dollars, and that I
think is the very problem.  We are so used to seeing dollars as the
prize.  The glitter in the eyes.  The word ‘dollar’ conjures immediately in
the mind ‘kachings!’ the sound of a cash register and dollar signs are
very blinding to anything else except maybe diamonds which are just a
euphemism for money, a totally manufactured money industry by
creating an artificial demand market.  But to say that social capital is
parasitic on private capital isn’t true.  Social capital does not say that
real money is eschewed but is included.  Social capital in the form of
money would be generated from the business world.  The capital thusly
generated would be strictly used for social programs which are not as
few as imagined.  And, however, private capital under a socialized
capitalistic system would be in competition and would have to survive
or die as commercial skill would have it or the winds of fortune blow.

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By Shenonymous, August 8, 2010 at 3:54 pm Link to this comment

Given both your ideological socio-political economics it is not hard
for me to imagine it would be a difficulty your seeing the virtues of
socialized capitalism.  Psychological entrenchments makes it
problematic to change perspectives.  Given there are a variety of
anarchistic forms, I am not sure which one you espouse Anarcissie.
Ranging from pacifistic to aggressive, violent, revolutionary.  From
anarcho-communism to mutualism to the individualist anarcho-
capitalism.  It is all over the map and more than a shifty and
amorphous ideology than is social capital and socialized capitalism!
Generally they are all anti-statist, and extol self-governance, from
the organic state to the inorganic political and I can see that system
could work for small organizations and for single individuals even at
the molecular level.  One could even build a self-governing computer
software system, I have one that pays attention to the files I have on
my hard drive and it relentlessly reminds me periodically to do certain
things.  It gets very bossy sometimes!  One could speak of autonomous
or self-organizing persons and possibly other animals, certain large
cats live mostly an autonomous hermit’s existence. 

When it comes to governance and economics of large entities, self-
governance or anarchy simply results in chaos and becomes self-
defeating.  That invisible hand of self-control is a chimera.  And most
who boast autonomy really means a hybrid where there is no fealty
paid to some other state.  So yes, while there are self-organizing
systems from the molecular to multi-complexities like national
governments without a central authority, some such organizations do
not work very efficiently.  When it comes to economics, apparently
Krugman seems to think the market economy is self-organizing, as did
Hayek. But as can be seen in the recent world-wide financial crisis
those systems can produce results that are none too good.  The
argument over self-organizing entities can really be just an exercise in
washing bricks, an inutility.

While it is indubitable that true solutions to problems are often got
possession of through imagination, creativity, synthesis, each of those
then to whatever degree, small or large, are processed critically.  As an
artist I often intentionally allow the accident to happen, call it one of
my creative strategies.  Serendipity, uh…luck, accident, can all
participate but in the final analysis in order to assess the result, some
criticism takes place and adjustments made when it does not meet
standards.  Aggression or faith could both be considered a relentless
attitude, while stupidity, well stupidity is stupidity which if a solution
were found would then fall into the accidental category.  It would
depend on how significant one wants solutions to hold up.

ThomasG, I thoroughly understood what you said in last post about
social capital and how it is transferred into socialized capitalism.  I think
the crucial term in this endeavor is community and the efforts of the
people to participate not only in their governance but their economy as
well.  If this is an instance of self-organization, one of the kinds which
Anarcissie seems to be talking about, then it seems to me socialized
capitalism can qualify.  You have given a model of how it can work and
it includes banking and credit as well as other forms of social capital. 
Actually there are other community-based organizations of similar
scope that I’ve already mentioned:  Albert Milbank, James Farr,  and in
Lyda Hanifan’s work in West Virginia and dragging out old John Dewey
as well.

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By Foucauldian, August 8, 2010 at 12:02 pm Link to this comment

I wouldn’t use TVA as an example.  If may not be as “comprehensive” as envisaged by Lenin, but it’s still a stifling monopoly, a monopoly besides, concerning which there is no recourse.  (I don’t consider our regulatory agencies, supposedly in charge of utilities - and here, PUC is a perfect example - as offering any kind of recourse.)

But that’s perhaps the downside of any state-run enterprise.

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By ThomasG, August 8, 2010 at 11:44 am Link to this comment

Shenonymous,

I propose that a Social Banking System patterned on the Bank of North Dakota could, would, and should provide Social Credit to be used as Social Capital by Social Entrepreneurs desiring to engage in Social Enterprise, to capitalize and empower the means of production and distribution of Socialized Business, Socialized industry, and Socialized Commerce in the form of diffuse independent Social Enterprise, rather than “Top Down” State Run Capitalism to which I am opposed; I propose that this type of a Social Banking System could, would, and should be used to serve all areas and needs of the entire population with regard to credit, inclusive of Social Business, Social Industry, and Social Commerce, as well as requirements of infrastructure, community, and individual consumer credit.  Below are a couple websites about the Bank of North Dakota:

http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2010/02/16-3

http://www.yesmagazine.org/issues/path-to-a-new-economy/bank-on-it-how-cash-starved-states-can-create-their-own-credit

I further propose that surplus capital of all Social Enterprise, as well as banking, be set aside and used at all levels of Federal, state, county, city, and community government to provide for the greater good of the community and the individuals within the community.

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By Anarcissie, August 8, 2010 at 11:39 am Link to this comment

My list wasn’t exhaustive.  We have institutions like Cooper Union in New York City, which is an art and engineering school, and a very good one, entirely supported by the investments of Mr. Cooper and his successors, where tuition is free—so the students are absolutely the top of the heap, if there is a heap.  Every day, Mr. Cooper’s institution adds to the social capital. (See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cooper_Union.)  So there is also the possibility of creating socialized capitalism (if that’s what Cooper Union is) through voluntary contribution.

There are instances of government-owned enterprises which are not as comprehensive as Lenin’s: the TVA and PeMex for example.

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By Foucauldian, August 8, 2010 at 11:17 am Link to this comment

“As I pointed out one way of doing this is to use the government’s traditional methods of raising money—taxes, borrowing, and printing—to raise money and therewith buy stuff which will putatively be put to social use, whatever that is going to mean.  Another is to simply expropriate the means of production.  For labor, one can hire people, draft them, or call for volunteers.  Or perhaps social(ized) capitalism simply means regulating existing capitalist organizations differently.  But I don’t think anything specific has been proposed; if so, I missed it.”

Excellent point, especially as regards breakdown of the kinds of capital in the respective spheres.

Raising money through taxes, borrowing, and printing money are moot points of course, because so generated SC is parasitic upon PC, so nothing has changed.  There is no way of implementing the idea other than by means of confiscation.  And once we reach that stage, you still need management teams to administer and manage major sectors of the economy.  The end result will be just another form of statism.

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By Anarcissie, August 8, 2010 at 11:08 am Link to this comment

<b>Foucauldian, August 8 at 1:49 pm:

‘BTW, Anarcissie,

I’d like to be able to post your comment, anonymously of course, on the BC thread.  We do have plenty of Brits on the site, some Australians, and it would be great to be able to generate the discussion.

I do need your permission, of course.’

You do not need my permission, although you have it, of course.  You should attribute the comment to my nom de clavier.  I hope you can include the Irish ancestry part.

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By Foucauldian, August 8, 2010 at 11:05 am Link to this comment

Anarcissie,

You still haven’t addressed my request to cite you an anonymous commenter.  Do I have your consent? 

And BTW, I thoroughly agree with your take on the state of SC theory, ThomasG’s version.  Nothing concrete has been proposed thus far.  Still, I don’t want to antagonize Shenon.  Once I present my critique of this so-called “theory,” we’ll talk.

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By Anarcissie, August 8, 2010 at 10:43 am Link to this comment

A few pot shots….

In regard to leadership: The universe is full of large self-organizing systems, for example the bodies of large multicellular organisms, including your own.  There is no “leader”.  See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Self-organization for a good overview of this constellation of ideas.  Of course it may be that human beings are peculiarly defective in this regard, but in general principle there is no upper limit to the size of leaderless, that is, anarchic social organizations even of willful, intelligent beings.


‘”It’s from relentless critical approach that true solutions emerge.  No?”  My answer:  yes.’

My answer: no.  Looking at history and daily life, I think most solutions in the sense of transitions from a less preferable state of the universe to a more preferable one occur through imagination, creativity, synthesis, and blind luck, and the aggression or faith or stupidity to follow them.  Criticism is useful as a sort of immune system against bad thinking, bad ideas, bad language, which human being are particularly susceptible to because of their capacities for language, tools and large-scale social organization, but it seldom creates anything, except, of course, monuments to itself.


‘... We do know where social capital comes from.  And that is what ThomasG is suggesting will fund governmental socialized capitalism.  To reiterate somewhat, it includes both financial and non-monetary capital as defined in plenty of places now on this forum as well as in the literature suggested to read. ...’

I disagree with most of this.  First of all, social capital is a amorphous sociological concept which is not well-defined or quantified.  This does not mean it is not important, but it does mean we can’t reasonably make many definite pronouncements about it, as to what it will do or how to use it.  In any case one cannot easily grasp it because it arises largely from personal and small-group activities and interactions.  It is largely a background, a matrix.

Capital, on the other hand, is pretty well defined in the financial and economic world.  At the level of finance, it is money and credit; at the industrial level, it is machines, technology, infrastructure, corporate organization.  In orthodox capitalism, it is under the control of a private elite.  It is of necessity alienated from those from whose labor it arose so that it can be put to use on new things and in new projects.  There is a great distance between most of “social capital” and the control systems of capitalism, socialized or not, even though the latter subsists upon the former.

So if we are going to talk meaningfully about “social(ized) capitalism” we need to know what the capital will consist of and how it is going to be socialized.  As I pointed out one way of doing this is to use the government’s traditional methods of raising money—taxes, borrowing, and printing—to raise money and therewith buy stuff which will putatively be put to social use, whatever that is going to mean.  Another is to simply expropriate the means of production.  For labor, one can hire people, draft them, or call for volunteers.  Or perhaps social(ized) capitalism simply means regulating existing capitalist organizations differently.  But I don’t think anything specific has been proposed; if so, I missed it.  Everything I’ve seen so far is what they call “blue-sky stuff” in the business world.

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By Foucauldian, August 8, 2010 at 9:49 am Link to this comment

BTW, Anarcissie,

I’d like to be able to post your comment, anonymously of course, on the BC thread.  We do have plenty of Brits on the site, some Australians, and it would be great to be able to generate the discussion.

I do need your permission, of course.

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By Foucauldian, August 8, 2010 at 9:41 am Link to this comment

Shenon,

Sure glad you’re still talking to me after all.  Let’s shelve the discussion concerning SC until I’m done with my piece.  Meanwhile, do rest assured that all along I was fighting for you.  Still do.

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By Foucauldian, August 8, 2010 at 9:34 am Link to this comment

Anarcissie,

Apparently you have read my little post.  I tend to agree with the general tenor of your response.  I think, however, the Brits’ response is innovative and timely.  Europe is not where the future lies, so turning to India is a logical move.  Anyway, it’s only line with the existing pattern of forming economic alliances (which, in my estimation, will eventually lead to political ones).  In short, we are progressing, however slowly, towards economic and political globalization, although in stages.  It’s from this process, and out of this crucible, that the world to come will assume its shape - politically, economically and socially - not from any theory we may think of, in other words, but from the events on the ground.  My actual vision - something akin to “The United Federation of Planets” a la Star Trek, leaving enough elbow room for peaceful co-existence of autonomous or semi-autonomous communities and a relatively benign administration at the top (with granted powers to enforce peace).  Naturally, a distinction has got to be made between large-scale and small-scale economic projects (especially as it pertains to food production, energy, things of that sort).  The former will call for responsible administration from the top; as regards the latter, we can always allow capitalism, small-scale version, to thrive (because at that level, it won’t be harmful).  Needless to say, the vision entails doing away with nation-states, the process which has already begun.  But enough on that.

As to your wonder how come the Brits have ruled the world for as long as they did - well, you’ve got to give credit to their Parliamentary government and a kind of uncanny wisdom.  There is an excellent book on the subject by Walter Russell Mead, God and Gold, as per link - http://www.amazon.com/God-Gold-Britain-America-Making/dp/0375414037  It explains the capitalistic expansion, a form of imperialism, of course, by peaceful means.  It’s along the lines of Fukuyama’s argument advanced in The End of History and the Last Man, critiquing Marxism in terms of the Anglo-Saxon expansion, again by peaceful means.  Of course, lots have changed since, so all bets are off.  Still, the recent Cameron venture with respect to India is from that very playbook.

And so here’s my question:  Aren’t you prejudiced perhaps by your free Irish spirit - good for you, BTW - to be challenging the British claim to supremacy and world domination?  And if so, you should perhaps refocus your attention on America, not only because Britain is past its prime but more importantly perhaps, because we are the spitting image, only that we’re artless at it, like a bull in a china shop.  And we still suffer from hubris, the idea we can do it all alone. 

Well, the Brits have always had more sense than that.  And whatever they thought, they didn’t always say.  Got to give ‘em credit for that.

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By Shenonymous, August 8, 2010 at 8:20 am Link to this comment

”Consumers will surely grow weary of consuming!”  Naw, I
don’t think so, they will simply get so fat that a renaissance of
the wheelbarrow manufacturing business will happen, ironically
helping the economy by hiring more workers. 

Roger – ” If I’ve been negligent in not giving you credit, it’s
because your stated position tends to get buried in your long posts.
Why not keep it up front and center?  Any problem with that?”

 
A good place to start.  We have our own styles.  Sometimes mine is
intentionally to bury my positions in long posts.  Other times my long
posts are very direct.  You blanket my writing as you wish to criticize. 
It does test one’s acumen but then when my points are perceived, I
have a high opinion of the reader especially if they can cogently
respond to it.  I have always tended to write long posts (a function from
my occupation).  It irks some people.  Others find them interesting and
informative.  I have a theory of why my posts are the way they are, but
it is not important to tell what it is.

”It’s from relentless critical approach that true solutions emerge. 
No?”
  My answer:  yes.

I look forward to your critique of socialized capitalism.  However, I have
several times expressed my understanding of what socialized capitalism
is but you seem unable to grasp the concept.  I offered several
theorists, even sent you one.  We do know where social capital comes
from.  And that is what ThomasG is suggesting will fund governmental
socialized capitalism.  To reiterate somewhat, it includes both financial
and non-monetary capital as defined in plenty of places now on this
forum as well as in the literature suggested to read.  Googling would
also be an active way to learn about it.  That is what I have been doing. 
I wasn’t born with an understanding of what it is.  I can’t say I totally
understand it but I’ve come a long way from absolute ignorance.
 
How would a program of socialized capitalism be radically different
from an anarchistic-based economy or a communistic one?  Well for
one thing, it will not completely supplant privatized capitalism, and only
would to the degree privatized capitalism would usurp any funds, any
at all, that pays for the social welfare of the population.  That is really
simply put but I have stated several times this change in focus of the
capital resources that runs this country.  And through questioning by
Anarcissie, and myself, ThomasG is pressed to provide more clarity for
his ideas.  I do not precisely know how production would change from
a capitalistic to a socialized capitalistic format except I would think the
means of production would be much more regulated if not completely
regulated by the state depending on the type of production.  There
would be deeper and wider government funded social programs but
would not completely dissolve private enterprise.  It is just that private
enterprise would by fiat have to compete with the people’s government.

I have been asking questions about who are candidates of adminis-
trators for almost as long as I have been posting on TD because I
suspected a long time ago that without a leader who understands the
problems, the entire project, whatever it is, is sunk before it even puts
it toe into the waters of change.  I’ve even asked it of you, a Foucault
critique, but you selectively forget.  Who or what kind of organization
would administer a whole government especially as large as the United
States is always one of my main questions.  There does not seem to be
any candidates.  If, say under anarchism, as the anarchist say, no one
administers, then all of the people are administrators, then in the USA
there are 309+ million administrators, there would be without a doubt
total chaos!  It is even chaotic to just think about it!

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By Shenonymous, August 8, 2010 at 8:05 am Link to this comment

Nothing ever is black and white.  Anaracissie, I cannot forsee a
future without more centralized government and aggressive
participation by citizens.  Unfortunately for the strict market
capitalists, education is ruining their mai-tai-Martha-Stewart
lawn parties.  The people are becoming more savvy of their own
welfare and how disproportionate the scale of economics weighs
in favor of the corporatists.  And I think with the advent of
electronic communication media, this knowledge will become
known universally in the world, and with rapid broadcasting and
rapid response.  Democracy, where the popular vote counts towards
what happens in their government, will influence the direction
economics takes. 

I agree that Marx had much insight, but not complete insight.  He saw
economic progressional transformation.  But he was not prescient
enough who would actually inherit the earth.  He rather misunderstood
which of the classes would transcend all the others.  He thought
workers would ingest all the other classes. He did not understand that
the means of production would become so efficient due to technology
and therefore would progressively become less expensive, the
efficiencies in production has supplanted the worker force.  And
entrepreneurs were to be educed from midst the worker class itself,
hence causing an inescapable undergoing of a radical change into free
and republican societies.  I think this is evidenced by Russia (formerly
Soviet Socialist) and Mao’s China.  Society simply said has not reduced
down to the level of the laborer as he thought it would.  Furthermore,
the arrival of the computer age and easy access to the tools of a service
industry created a hegemony of small business as the driving force of
commerce.  His three phases did not materialize.  He and Engels did
not foresee that democratic capitalism would provide extraordinary
human freedom, civil rights, and economic opportunities for literally
millions of people and that once people have the sweet taste of liberty
they will not give it up to live under the tyranny of the redistributing
state.

Regardless of the shading of socialism over capitalism, (and I think
necessary shading) from what I can see of the US economy and its save
(regardless of how slow it is going, which is caused by a few roadblocks
by partisan politics that eventually will be neutralized, from the jaws of
financial disaster) I do not see much change in its basic capitalistic
approach to American economics.  I happened to catch a brief interview
this a.m. with two former Treasury Secretaries, Robert Rubin under
Clinton and Paul O’Neill under George W. Bush on Fareed Zakaria’s
show (Zakaria is my favorite editorial journalist show host), and I am
optimistic from the discussion by these two (now my favorite
economists!) that there are at least two rational minds and
unhystericals in this country when it comes to what is the reality of US
economy and the world’s as well.

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By Anarcissie, August 8, 2010 at 7:54 am Link to this comment

Looks to me like Perfidious Albion is just doing its usual thing.  Most of the Euro Zone, especially the Germans, have been earnestly worrying about Greece and Portugal, but the Brits are off making goo-goo eyes at India.  (They already have a “special relationship” with the U.S. ruling class of long standing; the decline of the U.S. may be what’s making them look for a new host.)  However, I think this is mainly a little pushing and shoving to get a slightly better spot in the coming, rather static regime of state capitalism which is taking hold in the more advanced and advancing countries.  The motto of Britain might well be Pope’s dog-collar inscription:


I am His Majesty’s dog at Kew;
Pray tell me, Sir, whose dog are you?

It is truly a wonder that these people managed to run the world for more than a century.

But I must push aside the ghosts of my Irish ancestors (could you tell?) and note that this fourth phase of capitalism implies certain problems, mainly the generation of the scarcity which is necessary to maintain the capitalist system once war and the disasters of finance capital have been obviated by dirigisme.  Consumers will surely grow weary of consuming!  Maybe some war-sandboxes could be set up to destroy surplus.  Or they could send it to the moon.  In any case some hard morphing seems to be coming up.

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By Foucauldian, August 8, 2010 at 6:30 am Link to this comment

Correction:  or a shot in the dark.

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By Foucauldian, August 8, 2010 at 6:28 am Link to this comment

Anarcissie,

You might want to look at a little piece I just wrote for BC, “The British Experiment:  A Stroke of Genius of a Shot in the Dark,” as per link:  http://blogcritics.org/politics/article/the-british-experiment-a-stroke-of/

It’s a variation on the theme, you might say; or more correctly perhaps, it addresses the rather uncanny ability on the part of capitalism to survive and morph.

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By ThomasG, August 7, 2010 at 11:05 am Link to this comment

Shononymous,

The MarthaA post under my name was inadvertent, I get caught up in thinking and forget to check and make certain MarthaA is signed out when I answer, as MarthaA also uses this computer and sometimes fails to sign out.

MarthaA posts for herself and also types for me, but has no involvement whatsoever in my plan of Social Capital and Socialized Capitalism.  Anytime you see MarthaA on a post concerning Social Capital and Social Capitalism, it will be purely inadvertent, because she is not involved at all, as I have said before.

I will consider what you have said and get back to you.

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By MarthaA, August 7, 2010 at 10:48 am Link to this comment

Shenonymous, August 7 at 12:36 pm,

I’ll get back to you on this.

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By Shenonymous, August 7, 2010 at 8:36 am Link to this comment

It is my intention to force you into a corner, but it is a benign and
compassionate intention only for clarity’s sake.  I want to force you
to put on the table some solid program that is possible in this world,
not some other possible world.  What you said ThomasG at 11:07am
is clear, logical, and convincing, hence understandable.  But there is
much more to make your project inclusively coherent, wholly
formulated.

In clear terms, you start out by telling abbreviatedly how privatized
capitalism (PC) ascended to be the administrator of national capital
resources, and how it was divinely justified (which insidiously made
financial movement legitimate because of taking advantage of
unsuspecting ordinary people’s religious belief system, a sort of
pimping their God for the purpose of pecuniary gain).

This premise is understood.  Who was involved in this “evolutionary
process,” is also understood.  The difference between PC and socialized
capitalism (SC) is understood and how functionality of SC proceeds
according to principles PC of the major figures who contrived and wrote
economic theory.  Also who had benefitted is also understood.

While a bibliography is good, summaries of authors or succinct
statements of theory would be better to contextualize their relevance. 
While political economics is interesting, those who have consistent
ideas about socialized capitalism would be even better, to help along a
major paradigm change in how this country uses its capital.  I would
consider all national capital as social capital, whether financial or
socially generated in the various ways social capital can be.  In reality,
all social resources is social capital but has been historically re-named
and appropriated as private capital. 

Reinventing the use of capital is the defining action of your purpose,
but just how that would come about is what is vague and what is at the
heart of both my and I think Anarcissie’s, et al, interest.  My interest is
the strength of the possibility of implementation.  I am interested in
seeing change within my lifetime at least its dawning.  I cannot properly
speak for anyone else. 

Understood is that all capital that is collected in the name of the nation,
social or private, would not be used for any private purpose.  That all
national resources, that is, capital, not only can be used, but will be
used for the sole social purpose and benefit of the people.  What
exactly is meant by social institutions, organizations, cooperatives that
serve social purposes is not clear and I will assume such systems as
education, health, maintenance of national infrastructure, welfare for
those unable to care for themselves, and the costs of administering
government and management of these social programs defines your
list, though I am not clear what social cooperatives would mean. 

I further understand that you are not after the destruction of private
enterprise that generates private capital that funds privatized capitalism
to whatever degree it does not impinge on the national economics that
would be defined by socialized capitalism. 

How to take privatized capitalism off its life support of utilizing the
national social resources is the crucial step and that is one of the
nuggets of my questions?  How to transform from privatized capitalistic
governance to the equitable system for the population of socialized
capitalistic governance is another?  Where the funds come from is not
really that vague anymore although there may still be questions from
forum colleagues.  How they are collected is nebulous.  The “long term”
projection for the program to be seen as feasible only obfuscates
implementation. If change is to happen, it has to begin.  What is that
old adage?  A journey begins with the first step.

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By Anarcissie, August 7, 2010 at 7:55 am Link to this comment

ThomasG—You might save yourself a lot of time and trouble (and irritation) if you would just give a few concrete, material examples of your idea(s).  Generalities are susceptible to varied interpretation, some of which is likely to be incorrect; examples serve as a check against misinterpretation.  But I’ve said that before.

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By ThomasG, August 7, 2010 at 7:07 am Link to this comment

Shenonymous, Private Capital and Privatized Capitalism was originated and implemented as an “evolutionary process”, as man’s will represented as God’s Will.  Man’s will originated and implemented as God’s Will, Private Capital and Privatized Capitalism, FAILED most recently on September 18, 2008, and has cyclically FAILED from the time of its origin up to September 18, 2008.  Many men and some women were a part of the “evolutionary process” of Private Capital and Privatized Capitalism from the 14th Century to the present and many men and some women wrote books on “Political Economy” in addition to Adam Smith, Keynes, and Quesnay.

The difference between Private Capital and Privatized Capitalism and Social Capital and Socialized Capitalism is ownership of the capital, the former is privately owned and the latter is socially owned.

Socially owned capital, social capital, and Socialized Capitalism can and will function as indicated by Francois Quesnay, Adam Smith, and John Maynard Keynes with a diverse multiplicity of social institutions, organizations, and co-operatives fulfilling the role of Private Capitalists, so that ownership of capital and capitalist interaction and competition can be encouraged and centralization can be avoided as effectively as has been done with Private Capital and Privatized Capitalism.

The difference between Social Capital and Socialized Capitalism and Private Capital and Privatized Capitalism is social ownership and benefit of capital in the former, and private ownership and benefit of capital in the latter.

Over the years many books have been written on “political economy”, other than those written by Quesnay, Smith, and Keynes, and I can provide a list, if it is requested that I do so.

It is not my intent to “reinvent the wheel” with regard to capital.  It is my intent to reinvent the use of capital, so that capital can be used for social purpose and benefit by social institutions, organizations, and cooperatives that serve social purpose, rather than private purpose.

If Private Capital and Privatized Capitalism can compete with Social Capital and Socialized Capitalism without an umbilical cord of Social Capital, as Social Welfare, I am not against Private Capital and Privatized Capitalism; but to the extent that Private Capital and Privatized Capitalism continues to require Social Capital as “WELFARE to SURVIVE” for private purpose and private benefit, Private Capital and Privatized Capitalism must be taken off life support and allowed to die.

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By Shenonymous, August 6, 2010 at 11:43 pm Link to this comment

ThomasG you are too modest.  There are forms of socialized
capitalism.  Most of the articles I’ve read that discussed the idea
does not seem to mimic your idea, but of course I could be wrong
since there is no consilience of your concept.  There is only prima
facie definitions.  I can appreciate the psychology of your idea of
allowing a thing, in this case a systematic economic program, to
burgeon, progress, on its own, using a pyramiding structure.  A kind
of vaccination effect and a philosophy takes hold more permanently
that way.  It grows from within so to speak.  But I am not suggesting
you provide an algorithmic design. Since pathways often meander,
branch off, and a variety of destinations are possible, it is also possible
that what you had in mind completely misses the mark. 

For such a program that would actually administer to the people, from
the people, and by the people, is perhaps not a new idea, as certainly
socialism and communism had that as its primary guiding light at their
inception.  Even certain flavors of anarchism have that as a subliminal
motive.  The impulses of these alternative forms of collectivity are
insistent and active as we breathe.  The first order of the driving force
of socialized capitalism is to advance the health, welfare, and education
of the population with those who so actively promote these social
benefits (that are justifiable with ethical arguments) is to have no
conscious awareness of realizing a pecuniary profit from their actions
and behaviors.  In that sense they are selfless benefactor agents. 
Coherence of thought goes a long way in nurturing what is at bottom a
vague sense and intention of the well being of all humans. 

Other economic systems that are being proposed (inchoate as they are
at the moment) are pocked by history and failure in forms presented to
humanity so far.  We also have to be told again, since memory is very
short, and remind those again who are in an emotional grip like
children who grasp their parents about to leave and think they can
regurgitate those old disproven economic programs into some neo-
formulation that will work, in spite of appearance the reasons why they
failed in the first, second, and third places are the same reasons why
they will fail again.  We have to remember that England’s effort at
intervention economics to take property away from the “haves” and to
redistribute it amid the “have-nots” only managed to take away the
property from both the “haves” and the “have-nots”!

In his seminal lecture in 1932 Socialized Capitalism, the famous lawyer
Albert G. Milbank spoke about the condition of the world then and
amazingly it is as if he is describing perfectly what is the situation
today.  The history is almost identical from the time of that amazing
Depression to what is nearly that situation today.  For some reason we
humans have a mental impairment and fail to learn from our mistakes,
no matter what the ideology.

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By Shenonymous, August 6, 2010 at 11:39 pm Link to this comment

2. To ThomasG
Why would your program be more propitious today?  I believe the
time is ripe.  The public is more aware of their world than ever in
human history.  Their tender economic situation makes them more
receptive to ideas.  Better that those ideas be constructive.  The
electronic media has made it possible for information to be instantly
disseminated. If you want a plant to grow you must first plant a seed,
and if you want a healthy plant you must plant a healthy seed and
nurture it through its infancy.

An excerpt from Milbank’s 1932 lecture is as follows:
“Starting with the premise that Socialism in its extreme form destroys
some of the finest and most useful qualities in the individual and that
Capitalism in its extreme form makes the individual a predatory animal
rather than a social being, let us spend but little time on the
suggestion to scrap the existing order and let us turn our thoughts
upon the rehabilitation of the capitalistic system. The purpose of such
rehabilitation would be (i) to humanize, (2) to mutualize, (3) to stabilize
and (4) to socialize industry.”
  His speech is long but is worth the
read and its organization is methodical and progressive. 

I would not say that your project is a carbon copy of Milbanks, not by a
long shot, as I did not see his use of community social capital, but I
think the essence to correct the transgressions against society are
identical.  I also think that the others on this forum have that as their
shining light objective as well. 

http://tinyurl.com/23ajc5n
Socialized Capitalism – Albert G. Milbank
FYI:  Scroll to a little more than 2/3 down the page to find the
beginning of the article by Milbank.  At the bottom is a bank of
numbers, click the number 71 (that will be page 71 of volume 68) for
the rest of the article.

There are responses I feel I respectfully owe to others but they will be
made tamarra!  Tamarra is another day.

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By ThomasG, August 6, 2010 at 9:43 pm Link to this comment

Foucauldian’s post, as usual, is a vacuous throwback to time warp communism that parses intentionally false talking points to justify his intentionally false conclusions.

Therefore, Foucauldian cannot and should not be taken as anything more than who he is, a hack whose only interest is hacking Social Capital and Socialized Capitalism in support of Private Capital and Privatized Capitalism.  Foucauldian’s hacking in support of Private Capital and Privatized Capitalism is hacking in support of Private Capital and Privatized Capitalism that has FAILED many times and the last FAILURE was on September 18, 2008, that brought down the economy of the United States and the World and, as has been the case cyclically with Private Capital and Privatized Capitalism, relied upon WELFARE from Social Capital to recapitalize Private Capital and Privatized Capitalism for private benefit at social expense, and defines Foucauldian’s intentions with regard to Foucauldian’s claims and assertions that are made as nothing more than hollow claims and assertions to falsely parse his own irresponsible talking points and justify his own intentionally false conclusions.

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By ThomasG, August 6, 2010 at 8:47 pm Link to this comment

Shenonymous, your recent comments to Foucauldian and Anarcissie are in line with my reasoning, as expressed to you in my August 6, 2010 12:07pm post.

I will think about what you said in your August 6, 2010 1:26pm post regarding Social Capital and Socialized Capitalism being organized into a coherent system, but I am not certain that it would be proper for me to do so.

My preference is that Social Capital and Socialized Capitalism be an “evolutionary process” that cannot be tied to one person that hands the process of Social Capital and Socialized Capitalism down on tablets of stone from on High, and thereby leaves Social Capital and Socialized Capitalism vulnerable to being attacked, discredited, and distorted by attacking that one person and the tablets of stone that are the process of Social Capital and Socialized Capitalism handed down by that one individual from on High.

Private Capital and Privatized Capitalism was an “evolutionary process” that was implemented as an “evolutionary process”; that “evolutionary process” has stretched out over hundreds of years, and that “evolutionary process” has resulted in a cyclical history of failure.

I am of the opinion that Social Capital and Socialized Capitalism should be an “evolutionary process” as well, and should be implemented as an “evolutionary process” that will stretch out over time to grow and develop as an “evolutionary process” involving many people with good ideas, rather than to be imposed by a cult of personality from the top down by myself, or anyone else.

What I really want for Social Capital and Socialized Capitalism is many people, like you, that understand the process, and out of that understanding, for a dialogue to emerge between first, hundreds, then thousands, and then millions of people that have a basic general understanding of Social Capital and Socialized Capitalism that will start and perpetuate an “evolutionary process” that will in turn define and implement Social Capital and Socialized Capitalism in broad general terms, rather than a cult of personality that is perceived as something imposed by the dictates of ideology from the top down by one individual.

I am not worthy to write the tablets of stone for Social Capital and Socialized Capitalism, but I am worthy to contribute to the dialogue and the “evolutionary process” of Social Capital and Socialized Capitalism along with you and thousands of other people like you. 

It is my desire for Social Capital and Socialized Capitalism to be defined and implemented in the way I have previously described, and I sincerely think that this is the way that it should be done, if there is to be a legitimate expectation that Social Capital and Socialized Capitalism will attain fruition as a viable economic system.

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By tolstoyscat, August 6, 2010 at 12:39 pm Link to this comment

ThomasG,

Thank you so much. But I am afraid I have the same problem. That is I don’t have the resource of time to dedicate to this topic. I was, rather, looking for a few specifics posts (comments) by that I could read. This would save me time. Or maybe you have a blog or something where you lay out your idea?

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By Foucauldian, August 6, 2010 at 11:10 am Link to this comment

Perhaps we’re beginning to get somewhere, Shenon, judging by a number of recent posts.

1) You say:  “You do not give me credit for having admitted on numerous occasions capitalism as it now stands is not working and has proven to be
detrimental.”

Well, at least you state your position clearly here, and that’s the first step.  If I’ve been negligent in not giving you credit, it’s because your stated position tends to get buried in your long posts.  Why not keep it up front and center?  Any problem with that?  It’s from relentless critical approach that true solutions emerge.  No?

2) In the next sentence, you assert:

“You have not presented any counterargument to socialized capitalism or shown its weaknesses.”

I haven’t gotten to that point yet.  I said I’m going to write a little critique, and that I’ll refer you to it when done.  Meanwhile, let me turn the tables.  You have not presented any argument on behalf of “socialized capitalism” in the form it has been presented thus far.  So I will follow here Anarcissie line, as per her comment to you on August 5 at 9:34 pm, and I quote verbatim:

  ‘... I am suggesting socialized capitalism is the way to go. ...’  (Shenon)

“Could you describe it for us, then?  We already know about Welfarist liberal capitalism, also known as social democracy (what we have now in North America and Europe), state capitalism (Lenin’s thing), and possibly a third thing as suggested by ThomasG.  In the third case we do not yet know where the money, capital, value is to come from, where it is to go, or who will administer it on its way, but we know it is not social democracy or state capitalism because ThomasG has emphatically told us so.  If this is what you’re thinking of, I’d be most interested in your description of it.”

So the question is:  Unless you can define, and make sense for, “socialized capitalism” as something radically different from the kinds of alternatives that Anarcissie suggested, it remains a vacuous concept (which it is at present, which is to say, when we’re limited to Doubting Thomas’s rendition of it).  Again, attaching a prefix “socialized” in front of anything doesn’t change the nature of the beast.  One way or another, CONFISCATION of wealth and of resources - and yes, from all those who presently command them, the few private hands, lets face it) is the necessary first step to make any kind of capitalism “social.”  Interestingly, our Doubting Thomas avoids this question like a fire, somehow believing the new form will emerge out of the blue.  So as of this point of the debate, I’m bound to conclude that Anarcissie is spot on.  I don’t expect our Doubting Thomas to come up with a rebuttal (it’s considered beneath him), but let’s face it, neither have you.  So it does behoove you, as a thinking person you are, to think for yourself.  Don’t wait for the Doubting Thomas to provide you with any fresh ideas.  He hadn’t had an original idea in years.  The onus is on you.

As a corollary to the above, let me just say that the system you envisage has got to be run by someone.  Who do you suppose that someone is going to be?  If not the capitalists, then it has to be the bureaucrats, or the technocrats, to use a modern term.  In short, we’re talking about statism (or of fascism if worsts comes to worsts), and don’t you think I haven’t considered those possibilities.  And how do you think the relations of production would change under some such system?  Would they, should they?  So again, Anarcissie is spot on.

3)  Lastly, I apologize for coming across as being patronizing.  I was frustrated with you, that’s all.

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By Anarcissie, August 6, 2010 at 9:50 am Link to this comment

Shenonymous—(In regard to the big-world problem)  Thanks for your critique.

In regard to the rest of the world, I assume that some form of capitalism with important centralized government participation, if not outright direction, and limited civil liberties, will become universal in the near future.  This is what is happening in the United States, China, Japan, Russia, India, Brazil, Europe, and their satellites, already.  So activist techniques which work here ought to work there.

I realize this view—the inexorable development and decay of the capitalist phase—is sort of Marxist (a la Manifesto) more than I like, but I think Uncle Karl did get that part of his theory right.  When culture, especially the economy and technology, reach a certain point, the development of capitalism is almost inevitable.  And because capitalism is a dynamic system, its decay and transformation are also inevitable.  I also realize that we can fall off the tracks, as with nuclear war, ecological breakdown, mass insanity, and so forth.  There is not much I can do about those possibilities, although I think the spread of peace, freedom and equality would reduce their likelihood.

Otherwise, the purpose of the activist, anarchist or otherwise, is to influence the transformation. 

In regard to your other remarks, I’m aware that communes, cooperatives, “temporary autonomous zones”, and so forth, are old.  This doesn’t mean they’re not viable.  There are at present hundreds of communes in the United States; most of them find it advisable to lie low.  Still, the people participating in communes and cooperatives are miniscule in numbers compared to the general population.  If even one percent of the population became active anarchists it would probably suffice to change the foreign policy of the United States into something much more pacific and less imperialist, and transform corporate work life as well.  Instead, people in general seem to be becoming more passive and less autonomous every day.  I have no idea why that is happening or how to change it.  Maybe it will reverse itself.

The cookies are a form of advertising.  However, they were more a challenge to radicals than to the general population.  People were constantly talking on the Net about anarcho-communism and so forth.  Well, says the cookie, here it is; what are you going to do about it?

Apparently not much, at the moment.

In regard to free food in general, we don’t need Warren Buffett.  I haven’t done the arithmetic lately, but ten years ago I calculated that one could easily feed a person on basic foods for less than a dollar a day, assuming economies of scale in a substantial, ongoing program.  A set of prosperous, committed middle-class anarchists could feed hundreds, maybe thousands of people, thus heartening them for a variety of acts of rebellion and non-compliance with the authorities.  Of course, everyone would still be embedded in state and capitalism and the market, but a change would have set in; subversion would be at hand.

I don’t know what’s good for all.  My thinking on politics addresses a certain limited set of problems (for those who think the problems are problems) and specifies only actions by voluntary groups and individuals.  “No church, no state, no war”—for those who don’t want them.

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By ThomasG, August 6, 2010 at 9:32 am Link to this comment

tolstoyscat, August 6 at 12:44 pm,

“I came late to this discussion of socialized capitalism. I would be happy to read your idea (which I haven’t done), if you’ll refer me to a few posts you feel express that idea best.” —tolstoyscat, August 6 at 12:44 pm

Per your request, here are a few of the Truthdig threads for you to peruse:

“Hi Ho American Capitalism”

“Financial Meltdown 101”

“This Country Needs a Few Good Communists”

“Pitfalls of Soaking the Rich”

“Fiddling While the Economy Burns”

“Chris Hedges and Derrick Jensen on Totalitarianism and Resistance”

“David Sirota’s Are Low Taxes Exacerbating the Recession”

“If Only Information Flowed as Freely as Oil”

Google the above as Truthdig threads and there should be enough to keep you busy for a while relative to Social Capital and Socialized Capitalism.

I am sure there are other threads, I have written on,  but this is all I can think of right now.

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By Shenonymous, August 6, 2010 at 9:26 am Link to this comment

” I am not familiar with anyone elses concepts of Social Capital
and Socialized Capitalism; the concept emerged in me as my own
independent thought.”
  ThomasG, Aug. 6, 12:07pm

I agree, discussion ought not to be about personalities, not at all,
which is how we get in trouble (vicious mudslinging, which has been on
of my main complaint about some Truthdippers and even you and I got
into it a bit some time ago! And I am exceedingly glad we somehow,
miraculously pulled ourselves out of it and have gone onto real
dialogue), but I felt I had to usher Roger’s comments into perspective. 
If names are invoked it should only be about the virtues or vices of
their theories or opinions for identification purposes.  That said, since
socialized capitalism, so I’ve found out, is not a newly hatched idea in
human conceptualization, and I have been finding a ton of descriptions
of the notion, ThomasG, I think it is important then for you to give us
more of your independently spawned economic system.  For it will have
to be a “system” if it is to work. 

It might do you well then to read some of the literature that exists on
socialized capitalism to see how your ideas fit within the milieu.  For if
you are about to redefine the concept and hold such a strong
attachment to seeing it through to implementation, your vision, to be
legitimated, ought to be committed to some whole-theory written form. 
The idea has developed beyond gestation.  But, for it to be understood
and then cultivated by other minds, to excite their emotions enough to
instigate action, you need to shape it into an ordered accessibility.  This
is how all great ideas get promulgated.  And if your idea can really
supplant current inadequate economic approaches, it will be an idea in
the greatest sense and affect millions in a most beneficial way.  It is
necessary to show that the theory is broad in scope and substantial
from conception through to existing objectively.

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By tolstoyscat, August 6, 2010 at 8:44 am Link to this comment

ThomasG,

I came late to this discussion of socialized capitalism. I would be happy to read your idea (which I haven’t done), if you’ll refer me to a few posts you feel express that idea best.

I didn’t read them because there are too many posts for me to read everything. I am a slow reader.

TIA

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By Shenonymous, August 6, 2010 at 8:17 am Link to this comment

”Also, Shenonymous, could you amplify on this a bit?  “Anarcissie
has not offered a solution to the?BIG world problem.”  I’m not sure
what you’re referring to here.”

Sorry, I thought it was obvious.  I meant by the BIG world problem
that any solution would not be one simply for the United States but
should have appeal and application to the entire world.  For some
reason I had the feeling all along that all the discussion was mainly
using this country as a point of reference for a relevant economic
system.  But I think any theory that is proposed ought to work any-
where in the world given that humans are human wherever they are
found and oppression is oppression wherever it is found.

From your website, the proposal of forming communes is not a new
idea. A half a century ago the 60s in America saw the flowering of the
commune movement.  I was a mid70s kind of flower child so a bit past
the commune angst.  I and my crowd was more into, well… not
important to go into right now.  However those were ‘settlements’ for
the express purpose of withdrawing from the national society, whereas
your idea of cooperatives or communes would be to radically change
the government.  A much more militant intention.  The Militiamen or
Weathermen would be more akin.  Or if not that, then it is not to be
any force at all.  It also seems to cater to a very small expectedly
intellectual group with no substantial program for inducting new
anarchists (hmmm except for cookies) and some brochures.  It could
even be called an elite anarchist movement.  The direct political
approach is probably the most honest but as admitted it would be a
formulated resistance. Not sure what that meant though.  Whatever
other constructive direct action you thought possible you only hinted at
and did not described.  Only embryonic ideas maybe?

The idea of handing out free food in the form of cookies strikes me as a
kind of catchy cute guerrilla marketing tactic.  Might as well use
capitalist peddling ideas.  Cookies while food and being oatmeal are
probably a bit nutritious are not life sustaining.  Yeah, I know, that is
not really the point.  But bread would have been more earthly symbolic,
but not banana nut bread.  The cookies remind me of a 2008 NYT City
Room article, Selling Ice Cream, With Sprinkles of Anarchism.  It was a
strategy!  I did appreciate one of the comments made: how would the
human race survive under anarchy?  While an altruistic idea, free food
stores cannot really happen.  It takes money, lots of it, to stock such
stores even with cheap food and anarchists’ purses would too soon be
empty to carry out such a plan for very long.  So again, it becomes only
symbolic.  Now if you could get Warren Buffet to fund your project….
Without some philanthropy, the funding would not last long enough to
get any movement going, I’m afraid, even if some of the mass media
most likely would carry a “human interest” story.  Nice idea, but
Pollyannaish I think.  Also the idea of democratic distribution to
“everyone.”  All this is predicated on the idea that your idea of
liberation is their (the population’s) idea.  Your idea of freedom is their
idea.  That is the problem, I believe, with utopianisms:  Assuming one
knows what is good for all.

I will try to amply address your next set of questions to me in a next
post.

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By ThomasG, August 6, 2010 at 8:07 am Link to this comment

Shenonymous, I am convinced that you understand Social Capital and Socialized Capitalism, and that your August 5, 2010, 5:10 pm post is demonstrable proof of that understanding.

I would much prefer that Social Capital and Socialized Capitalism not be made a part of, or a matter of, personalities connected with myself or anyone else.

I am not familiar with anyone elses concepts of Social Capital and Socialized Capitalism; the concept emerged in me as my own independent thought.

If Social Capital and Socialized Capitalism has been thought of by others previous to me, I think that those who had the thought were thinking in the greater good, rather than in the greater greed, and that the focus of dialogue should be on Social Capital and Socialized Capitalism as an alternative economic solution to Private Capital and Privatized Capitalism, rather than squabbling over personalities, whether it is my personality or anyone elses personality, is nothing more than a means of perpetuating Private Capital and Privatized Capitalism and, thereby, diminishing the prospect of implementing Social Capital and Socialized Capitalism.

When sufficient people take up the cause of Social Capital and Socialized Capitalism, I will be pleased to withdraw from representation of Social Capital and Socialized Capitalism, but until that time, I doubt seriously that I will change much from not wanting to suffer the posturing of foolish people gladly, because it has been my experience in life that much of the posturing of so called foolish people is with purpose and most likely, with regard to Private Capital and Privatized Capitalism, the purpose is the survival of Private Capital and Privatized Capitalism at the expense of Social Capital and Socialized Capitalism.

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By Anarcissie, August 5, 2010 at 6:02 pm Link to this comment

Also, Shenonymous, could you amplify on this a bit?  “Anarcissie has not offered a solution to the
BIG world problem.”  I’m not sure what you’re referring to here.

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By Anarcissie, August 5, 2010 at 5:34 pm Link to this comment

Shenonymous, August 5 at 9:01 pm:

‘... I am suggesting socialized capitalism is the way to go. ...’

Could you describe it for us, then?  We already know about Welfarist liberal capitalism, also known as social democracy (what we have now in North America and Europe), state capitalism (Lenin’s thing), and possibly a third thing as suggested by ThomasG.  In the third case we do not yet know where the money, capital, value is to come from, where it is to go, or who will administer it on its way, but we know it is not social democracy or state capitalism because ThomasG has emphatically told us so.  If this is what you’re thinking of, I’d be most interested in your description of it.

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By Shenonymous, August 5, 2010 at 5:01 pm Link to this comment

It is a matter of perspective, Roger.  And a matter of reading and
remembering.  If you would kindly try to remember I have been
advocating bottom up solution at the local level for months now. 
Even before ThomasG arrived on any forum where I was making
comments.  There will never be a top down solution.  I have visited
Anarcissie’s site and read all of it.  I visited your site and read it too. 
A lot was said but there is no comprehensive or coherent program
for implementation for your respective programs.  You wish to paint
me with a ThomasG brush, which is a verbal thuggery tactic on your
part because of your negative view of ThomasG.  I am suggesting
socialized capitalism is the way to go.  I’ve done my research, read
copious amounts.  You are pissing in the wind with anything that smells
of eliminating capitalism.  You are talking 309+ million people, 309+
million and I’d say 99% capitalistic American people.  Then what do you
think you will do about the capitalistic countries of the world? And then
those that were centrally planned economies, that is, socialistic, such as
China and the Soviet Union (Russia) who are moving rapidly toward
market or mixed economies?  Do you really think just saying capitalism
has to go it is going to disappear like magic?  At least Anarcissie is
bright enough to admit that it won’t. 

Countries that are viewable as capitalistic and having a capitalist class,
the successful industrialized capitalist countries, are as follows:  USA,
UK, France, Australia, Denmark, Italy, Sweden, Spain, Japan, Canada,
Netherlands, Austria, Belgium, Switzerland, Germany, New Zealand,
Ireland, Norway, Finland, Portugal.  The fact of the recent global
financial tanking is not going to put much of a dent, if at all, in their
economic philosophy.  They will remain capitalistic.

Countries, there are 114 of them, that are much underdeveloped and
who have weak and unstable governments, poor education programs,
and very bad health systems are viewed as having a disordered working
class. They are dependent on the successful countries (being made so
and kept as such by a myriad of forces not the least of which are
middle ground successful countries), who in turn depend on the poor
countries’ agriculture, cheap labor, and natural resources and that are
highly exploited by the prosperous countries to provide the foundation
for these countries to stay in power.  The number of countries that fall
somewhere between the highly developed and the terribly
underdeveloped according to a 2000 study are about 13.  I know all
this.  And more!  The most the poor countries can hope for (and the
strata is fluid depending on how much better their economies become,
can move in or out of a level) is to become better off, or if not so lucky,
worse off.  It will be an eternal struggle since it is in man’s nature to
exploit other men.  Get rid of that human characteristic and you will
end most of human suffering by other humans’ power. That is the
proper project to work on. 

You are quite patronizing and are entrenched in your antiquated ideas. 
You do not give me credit for having admitted on numerous occasions
capitalism as it now stands is not working and has proven to be
detrimental.  You have not presented any counterargument to socialized
capitalism or shown its weaknesses.  So do what you want, I really can’t
be bothered by such a transfixed partisan thinker.

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By Foucauldian, August 5, 2010 at 3:02 pm Link to this comment

No response, Shenon.  You have a vested interest in
capitalism, and given this uncritical attitude,
you’re gonna to grasp at straws like a drowning
person before you let go of a failed idea.  And that
ain’t going to change until you change.  Which is why
you keep on posting dissertation style and with full
body armor lest a chink be found in Shenon’s mighty
intellectual architecture.  Initially, I would find
it worthwhile to separate your sound ideas from those
which are less sound, but I cannot do it every time. 
I give up.

Unless you come to an understanding that the
capitalist system and all the social malaise that
comes with it has got to go, I’m afraid there is
nothing I can do.  Unless you come to an
understanding that it is the main culprit, there
being no other, I can talk until I’m blue in the face
and I won’t make a dent.  Ultimately, and I stated
that earlier, it’s a matter of genuine concern.  You
either have it or you don’t.  Without it, you’re just
an academic; and apparently, you’re comfortable in
that role, complacent is a better term.  Well, I am
not. 

What I find most pathetic is that out of all the
minds on this thread, you have chosen to identify
with ThomasG - a one-track mind, and I’m being kind
here, mindful of the internet decorum.  I would want
to say, it’s no reflection on your intellectual
faculties and analytical skills, but I can’t, really,
Your complacency and noncommittal is holding you
back; and it makes your intellect and education self-
serving rather than propel you ahead.  I wish I could
be more positive in my assessment, but at this moment
I cannot.  I hope this will soon change.

And FYI, I haven’t been offering what you call
“theories,” not at all, only a critique of a system
that is on its last leg.  And so has Anarcissie.  It
would behoove you to check out her link where she
suggests small-scale solutions on a local level.  I
said it time and again that solutions will emerge on
the ground, one at a time.  To move from there to any
wholesale approach is another thing entirely; but it
will happen.

Meanwhile, I hope you’ll enlarge on your
understanding of “social capitalism” beyond ThomasG’s
simplistic definitions.  I wouldn’t hold my breath,
though,  There is no kind of light eminating from
that quarter, of thisI can assure you.  You’re the
one who’s going to have do all the heavy lifting if
you want to get anywhere.  So at this point, I can
only wish you good luck.

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By Shenonymous, August 5, 2010 at 1:19 pm Link to this comment

It is not a matter of humoring ThomasG.  At first on this forum and
on Needing A Few More Communists, there was humor invested in
my dialogue with ThomasG.  We have both overcome an unbelievably
ugly period in our interaction.

His brusque delivery has a tendency to piss people off rather than
allow understanding to seep in.  He shows impatience for what he
perceives is a feigned low quotient of understanding.  Should he be
that way?  It is probably not the best way to convince others of a
theory.  He has radically changed his manner from a past forum
where we interacted.  As a result I began to read what was being
said for merit.  Noticing, as if anyone conscious hasn’t, this country
is in deep shit financial trouble, as is the world, TG/MA’s solution is
a solution and the only one that has been offered.  It is a reasonable
argument.  Roger, you offer only theoretical descriptions or make
deconstructive criticisms.  Anarcissie has not offered a solution to the
BIG world problem.  tolstoyscat comments but offers no coherent
solution.  Everybody else just sits silent.  I can only guess they have no
idea how to solve the problem and have no ideology to fall back on or if
they do they do not know how to express themselves cogently. 
ThomasG takes an imperious attitude which handicaps his theory.  To
get a theory out of the theoretical realm and into the real workings of
the world, one has to convince sometimes with great and articulate
persuasion the finer points being made.  It takes finesse of the language
and patience.  That is why people like John Dewey and others, Karl Marx
if you wish, were able to attract so many people to their visions.  For
nearly a century Dewey had the greatest impact on this country than
almost anyone. His theories are infused in the education system and it
is that system that determines the mentality of a population.  He had
an impressive command of the language.  Having a positive view of
social capital and its uses in government, politically he was socialistic.  I
am busy reading his ideas which are deep and wide. His ideas were
supplanted by the glitter of von Mises, Hayek, et al, and unregulated
capitalism.  Also reading Chartism by Asa Briggs about “the first
independent working class political movement in the world” in Britain
and Ireland (1838) so the jacket says.  Surely there are lessons to learn
from that ‘successful’ movement.

ThomasG, I understand how social capital is generated and that it is
what would fund socialized capitalism.  I also understand that it would
be a huge paradigm shift in the thinking of Americans and in particular
those who generate private capital and for those in particular they will
not understand that socialized capitalism is not going to eclipse their
generation of revenue.  There are examples of SC strategy working in
this country.  It is not a new idea.  It simply needs expanded.  Social
capital would be used to generate socialized capitalism and would be
used for general population social programs: health, welfare, education,
housing.  Since wars, national security, infrastructure, natural resource
(parks, and preserves) are for the general public they also would need
to be funded through social capital revenues.  The only thing left for
private capitalism is to continue to generate personal wealth, isn’t that
right?  Well the subject of taxes would have to come up.  And I think
that is where the rub happens. It will take incredible effort to re-
psychologize this country, to rethink the basis of its financial
substructures. Not only the way funds are generated and administered
to run the government for the people and actually by the people from
the bottom up, a comprehensive curriculum needs changed to teach the
ideas of community cooperation to the youth who eventually will run
this country. Dewey’s strategies ought to seriously be looked at again
since he was successful.

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By Foucauldian, August 5, 2010 at 11:24 am Link to this comment

I would ignore ThomasG, TC.  He is a broken record
and apparently, an audience of one:  the choir he
preaches to is himself.  Conceptually-blind as a bat,
thinking that affixing the term “social” to
capitalism is somehow going to change the nature of
social relations and relations of production.  It’s
thinking by fiat, the only kind of thinking ThomasG
has been capable of thus far.  Shenon here only
encourages his delinquency by humoring him,
suggesting she understands his concept.  Yet ThomasG
hasn’t been able to make himself any clearer since
day one, and that’s in spite of his voluminous and
repetitive posting, laboring under the illusion that
saying the same thing over and over again will make
it so.  On our BC site, he’d be ridiculed and booted
out in a New York minute; apparently, Truthdig is a
far more liberal and censor-free site to allow this
foolishness to continue.  He/she speaks of a doctor. 
I’d sure hope it’s a shrink.

BTW, I’m posting my reaction to your “normative” idea
on the Bye-bye thread

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By ThomasG, August 5, 2010 at 10:59 am Link to this comment

tolstoyscat, August 5 at 2:36 pm,

“So, You basically mean state capitalism then. Like in the Soviet Union.  Been there, done that. ” —tolstoyscat, August 5 at 2:36 pm

ThomasG’s answer:  Once more, low on the understand-o-meter.

Simple minded answers and simple minded solutions are easily said by simple minded people, and those who are trying to obfuscate, that are not simple minded.

My posts on the Truthdig Forum explain Social Capital and Socialized Capialism; I suggest that you read my posts if you are really interested in Social Capital and Socialized Capitalism.

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By ThomasG, August 5, 2010 at 10:44 am Link to this comment

Anarcissie, August 5 at 1:11 pm,

“You’re such a charmer, ThomasG!” —Anarcissie, August 5 at 1:11 pm

ThomasG’s answer:  I meant nothing personal, with regard to tolstoyscat’s August 2 at 12:24 am post, just as I meant nothing personal with what I have said in my posts to you.

My posts reflect a blunt assessment of what I think without regard for thoughts, feelings, and beliefs.

I have spent a good deal of time explaining Social Capital and Socialized Capitalism and, given that, I thought that tolstoyscat’s post registered rather low on the understand-o-meter, if you know what I mean.

If you think that I am such a charmer, you should talk to my doctor, he is much more charming than I am, and in like manner.

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By tolstoyscat, August 5, 2010 at 10:36 am Link to this comment

ThomasG,

So, You basically mean state capitalism then. Like in the Soviet Union. Been there, done that.

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By Anarcissie, August 5, 2010 at 9:11 am Link to this comment

You’re such a charmer, ThomasG!

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By ThomasG, August 5, 2010 at 8:03 am Link to this comment

tolstoyscat, August 2 at 12:24 am,

“Stock markets? Employees? Taxes? Consumers? Gov’ts? Sounds like what we already have.”—tolstoyscat, August 2 at 12:24 am

ThomasG’s answer:  Well Duh!!!  How long did it take you to figure that out? ——that the difference in my proposal and the existing system is that Socialized Capitalism would be driven by Social Capital and the existing system, Privatized Capitalism, is driven by Private Capital.

Your observation rates a double duh.

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By christian96, August 4, 2010 at 12:33 pm Link to this comment

Anarcissie and Foucauldian—-When I was a young man
I was more interested in sports and girls than I
was academics.  I spoke the language of my buddies
in the coal mining community where I was raised.
When I got to undergraduate school I had a buddy
who would correct my grammar.  For example, I would
use the word “hisself” and my friend would respond,
“There is no word “hisself.” To which I would respond, “What do you mean there is no word hisself?
I just used it!” So I learned “himself.”  I’m suprised I got through undergraduate and graduate
school but I did.  I’ve learned most of my writing
ability by doing a lot of reading.  I apppreciate
you guys talking about the various “ism’s” which
I don’t know much about.  Capitalism seems to be
a system for individuals with above average IQ.  I
can’t imagine most of my friends working in the
coal mines knowing enough about the stock market
to make rational investments.  With the major
corporations speading around the world it appears
the entire world will be capitalistic someday.
I don’t know what that system will do about the
lower working class peoples.  With the continued
advancement of technologies I foresee a growth in
the number of people unemployed.  I don’‘t know
what capitalism will do with those people.  It looks
like a one world capitalistic system will be necessary to keep the various nations from killing
one another over potential markets.  In conclusion,
my “Hee Haw” response to Foucauldian was in response
to his calling me a “jackass.”  I was voted class
clown in high school and still can’t resist the
opportunity to inflict a little humor in my comments.  In case you missed my joke on August 1st
I’ll repeat it.  Of course you would have to be
aware of Pres. Clinton’s responses when accused of
the Monica “Lewd"inski incident.

With the wedding rapidly approaching and wishing to
appear the concerned parent Hillary ask, “Chelsea,
have you ever had sex with Marc?”  Chelsea responded, “Not according to dad.”

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By Anarcissie, August 4, 2010 at 10:07 am Link to this comment

Shenonymous—Many writers confuse communism, the absence or universality of property, with Communism, the political program and organization of the various Communist Parties, which in fact was not small-c communism.  When you see a writer do this (for example, Debra Satz as quoted in the first line of the review we’re commenting on) you have to suspect that their understanding of radical politics and philosophy is fairly light, or at least not on view.

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By Shenonymous, August 4, 2010 at 8:54 am Link to this comment

I admit to summer ennui and not being as attentive to the forum
as I probably should be.  I find I am not able to sit at the computer
for any sustained period and get antsy.  Enjoying the outdoors too
much I guess and have so many enjoyable projects I’m working on. 
But, a bit cranky the other day when I realized summer break is
almost over and I have some preps yet to do for classes that will
start up in too short a time!  Yikes!  And boohoo!  I apologize
tolstoyscat for any testiness I may have shown. 

Thank you and Roger Foucauldian, and Anarcissie too, for making a
distinction between anarchism and communism.  From all the
definitions online from various articles and encyclopedias and Wikipedia
my understanding does not connect the two as you and Foucauldian do.

“They [the Marxists] maintain that only a dictatorship—their
dictatorship, of course—can create the will of the people, while our
answer to this is: No dictatorship can have any other aim but that of
self-perpetuation, and it can beget only slavery in the people tolerating
it; freedom can be created only by freedom, that is, by a universal
rebellion on the part of the people and free organization of the toiling
masses from the bottom up.”
—Mikhail Bakunin, ”Statism and
Anarchism”

There are actually a ton of other distinctions in the almost unending
papers I’ve downloaded that present a very confusing picture of the two
ideologies.  I suppose when all is boiled down, misery loves company. 

I don’t mean to be supercritical, well…on second thought maybe I do,
but I wondered exactly what event of oppression and injustice Marx and
Engels suffered?  There is no one above questioning is there?

Now christian96’s sharing his personal experience with the medical
profession and his own condition I did not find obnoxious but actually
felt he brought a kind of humanness to an otherwise inhuman
electronic medium.  I often react to the rather automatonic posture
some take on these electronic conversations.  While I don’t think these
forums ought to become diaries with daily journal entries, I don’t feel
he did anything of that kind.  Friendliness must not be confused with
friendship. 

Thank you Anarcissie (also Roger gave a try at it too) for trying to
explain the new TD feature.  I do not see the real benefit though.  I
mean if one selects the Link to too many of these isn’t the convenience
lost among the many?  There is so much to do already that adding
another button to push is just one too many I think.  Oh well some
might find it helpful.

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By tolstoyscat, August 4, 2010 at 7:39 am Link to this comment

christian96,

I empathize with you and I sense you are frustrated. I agree people can use language for purposes other than to facilitate communication. I find it upsetting when it seems that they are using it to elevate themselves, to condescend, or to distance themselves from actually connecting, by obscuring ideas rather than reaching out with words that make sense to the listener. But let me say that I have known Foucauldian for quite some time and I have never known him to use language that way—for self-elevation, to obscure meaning, or to refuse connection. 

There is a jargon associated with the subject that he uses just like anyone familiar with any subject where jargon exists. But in my experience he would never insist upon it. That is he would use other words if needed. I struggled with the language for more than a year. I still do. (As a matter of fact every time I think I understand the word ‘dialectic’, someone uses it in a way that makes me sure I still don’t.) Foucauldian is known to me as someone who would go to any length necessary to gain mutual understanding.

But you have to let him know what you need. If you just attack him because you presume his actions are self-serving, I also know he can be caustic when attacked that way.

Just my two cents.

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By Anarcissie, August 3, 2010 at 6:39 pm Link to this comment

Shenonymous, August 3 at 12:34 pm:

‘Does anyone know what the new feature of “Link to this comment” is about?’

If you copy it (that is, tell your browser to copy it) and then paste it somewhere, you get something like http://www.truthdig.com/arts_culture/item/troy_jollimore_on_markets_and_morality_20100722/#344285 which is a link to that particular article.  However, halfway sophisticted forum software would also enable marked, attributed quotations in comments, etc.  Note also that this cleverness doesn’t necessrily prevent the link from breaking textually so that it doesn’t work, although I got this one to at least be decorated (set in bold red type) by taking off some quotation marks I had put around it (to show it was a quotation—can’t have that!)

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By Anarcissie, August 3, 2010 at 3:59 pm Link to this comment

Hardly being done quoting Witt, I must violate his precept—or joke.

Communism (equality) certainly implies anarchy (freedom), because if one person has significantly more power than another (and possessions are a kind of power) then of necessity they are not equal.  But the state prescribes at least some positions of power and inequality.  Therefore, state and communism are antithetical.

The argument that anarchy (freedom) implies communism (equality) is a bit more tedious, but it runs something like this:  If one wants to be free one must either conquer the universe or come to some kind of accommodation with the other willful beings and powers in the universe.  One can simply submit to them, but this is not freedom.  One can join one group, a gang, say, or a state, which coerces others and thus gain some power, but this is obviously not really freedom either.  Or one can try to create a situation in which people can and will allow each other to be as free as possible.  This is anarchy.  Part of getting along with other rational, willful beings would seem to necessitate an agreement to live in equality, because if willful beings are unequal, the overpowerers will necessarily be at war with the overpowered, the latter to throw off the power of those who dominate them, and the former to maintain their position of domination.  (This brings us to peace, the third synonym of freedom and equality, but I have gone on long enough.)

Of course I am grossly oversimplifying the human psyche here, which although willful is not very rational, and is cursed with a taste for fables and violence.

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By Foucauldian, August 3, 2010 at 12:38 pm Link to this comment

Sounds awfully close to the kind of postings by ThomasG, Christian. 

Are you certain now you’re not one and the same person?

BTW, by “dirty laundry” I simply meant private business.  We don’t need to know about your personal problems.  This isn’t a forum for this kind of thing. 

Which isn’t to say I don’t sympathize.  I do wish you the best, and I certainly hope your health will improve.

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By christian96, August 3, 2010 at 10:28 am Link to this comment

Foucauldian—-Much better.  Your choice of words
allowed to me almost understand your comments.  It
would be a little difficult to communicate in private
with Shenoy since we don’t know where each lives.
Dirty laudry?  That’s in the eyes of the beholder.
Seems like I touched a raw nerve.  The truth does
tend to make one defensive.  Hee! Haw! Hee! Haw!

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By Foucauldian, August 3, 2010 at 9:53 am Link to this comment

Christian96

Now you’re coming across as a jackass.  If you have problem following the discussion, just say so.  I’m patient to a fault with those who are trying to understand.  In fact, I consider myself as one among that very number, so I’m humble in this particular respect.  But I have no patience whatsoever for folks who put on airs.

Correct me if I’m wrong, but only a while ago you engaged in a lengthy diatribe with your online friend, Shenon.  As far as I am concerned, it was in poor taste washing your dirty laundry in public.  It should be done in private.  Notice, however, that none of us have expressed our feelings about the obvious impropriety.  We let it go.

So get off your high horse, for Christ’s sake and join the living.  This isn’t the place for sour grapes.

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By Foucauldian, August 3, 2010 at 9:31 am Link to this comment

An erudite comment, Shenon, worthy of the master (or mistress)that you are. 

As regards England’s turn to socialism, I would point, however, to a more recent set of event, namely, the onset of the Industrial Revolution and the reaction by the men (and women) of letters.  Raymond Williams provides a compelling account.  I could provide you with a link if you so desire.

Let’s turn now to the meat of your comment.  You say,

“From what I have been able to piece together: egalitarianism is communistic while ideas of liberty are anarchistic.  Aren’t these antithetical and that a negotiated permutation to meld the two is
required?  Don’t they each have to give up some crucial part of their basic ideology?”

I think the resolution comes from a realization that true liberty is not any abstract or absolute concept, that it must take cognizance of the larger community and other lives as an overriding context.  To insist that the only restriction on liberty and personal freedoms consists of not doing harm to others - the basic tenet of liberalism, crude version, I might add - is simplistic.  It exemplifies a reactive stance rather than proactive.  What we ought to be concerned about is how to improve the well-being of a community, the quality of life of each and every member, no matter how lowly or insignificant, rather than with restrictions.  Ultimately, it’s on that score that we shall all be judged.  Simply put, it’s the “weakest link in the chain” argument:  if anyone suffers, we all suffer.  Hence the resolution of the false dilemma, through dialectic.

Mind you now, I’m not yet utterly convinced of the anarchist solution in its purest and unadulterated sense.  For one thing, I don’t believe we can altogether get away with management, administration, social structure for short. Human society, all societies as a matter of fact, are contingent upon a structure of sorts, however loosely defined.  It’s what makes a society and what constitutes its basic ingredient, it’s necessary condition if you like.  Still, I’m willing to listen.

As regards your third point, the “link to this comment” feature, it’s catering to the lowest common denominator in my honest opinion.  The powers that be, in their infinite wisdom, have decided to improve on their site, thinking that the hoi polloi cannot keep track of the online conversation.  Consequently, they’re trying to make things easier.  Sign of the times.

I would ignore it and never avail myself of the device.  It’s for morons.  And as far as morons go, who needs them.

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By christian96, August 3, 2010 at 9:21 am Link to this comment

You people throwing around your fancy words are out
of touch with reality.  The purpose of writing is
to communicate your ideas to a general public.  A
man with large muscles wears sleeveless tee shirts
to show off his muscles.  A woman with big boobs
wears clothes to show off her boobs.  It apppears
you are using fancy words to show off your vocabulary.  The problem is you are not communicating.  Perhaps you should ask yourself,
“Why do I need to show off?”

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By tolstoyscat, August 3, 2010 at 9:17 am Link to this comment

So are you saying his idea of communal life was equivalent to anarchism?  From what I have been able to piece together: egalitarianism is communistic while ideas of liberty are anarchistic.  Aren’t these antithetical and that a negotiated permutation to meld the two is required?  Don’t they each have to give up some crucial part of their basic ideology?

Communism, what Marx calls the state of communism, is anarchism.

Anarchism does not propose life outside of community—or individual liberty over community. On the contrary, it describes a way of living within community. It proposes that living within community each individual voice should count. Power should be horizontal not hierarchical. That is each individual counts. Though there may be other ways to express an anarchistic community, communism (the end stage) is an anarchistic model.

There is no conflict, in my opinion, regarding arrangement of communities. The conflict arises with ideas of the state and the need for a socialist state that withers away.

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By Shenonymous, August 3, 2010 at 8:34 am Link to this comment

Does anyone know what the new feature of “Link to this comment” is
about?

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By Shenonymous, August 3, 2010 at 8:29 am Link to this comment

It never fails to strike me as incredible how words are so ductile a
material of communication that can be strung together to devise
ambiguousness that can so easily obfuscate reality.  Yes, I too often
see that Wittgenstein did us a great favor.  Nothing of any import is
as simple as what is too often offered as truth.  What is in a word? 
The importance of using particular words to load view in a particular
vein.  Christopher Hill preferred to use the word revolution, mainly I
surmise, because of its emotional association with Marxism and
calling the obviously “religious” wars of the 17th c. England a “class”
war instead of calling it a form of radicalism or religious rebellion.  It is
true that Charles I was a vile despot, whose father James I had the bible
retranslated, rewrote it in effect, and installed the divine right of kings
perspective, who often lost battles and in politics, and by kingly edict
attempted to impose Anglicanism, so closely associated with
Catholicism, on Protestant sectors of Great Britain, viz., Scotland, Wales,
and Ireland.  Having married a Catholic, Charles I scared the hell out of
the people that the King’s religion would eclipse theirs.  Hill, a Marxist
Englishman, naturally colored his history of the English Civil War (wars)
in Marxian shades.  A great many in England have accepted socialism/
communism since Winstanley, so it is not surprising that Hill pressed
Marxism into service to explain the influencing events as the propellant
to revise the lives of the common population, viz., “levelling” the land,
real property, into small “egalitarian” agrarian communities.  In other
words, they wanted to force their idea of life onto an existing social
order.

Sounds like, Anarcissie, you are equating the events of 17th c. England,
Diggers, Levellers, Ranters, Fifth Monarchy, what Marxist historian Hill
called Marxist, with anarchists.  So are you saying his idea of communal
life was equivalent to anarchism?  From what I have been able to piece
together: egalitarianism is communistic while ideas of liberty are
anarchistic.  Aren’t these antithetical and that a negotiated permutation
to meld the two is required?  Don’t they each have to give up some
crucial part of their basic ideology?

However, Winstanley, a convert, was a zealous religious reformer, a
Christian communist reformer to be exact who found it useful to
appropriate land using Biblical references as justification to redistribute
land property (Acts, chapter 2).  He had been disenfranchised of his
own property through bankruptcy and later was a failed tradesman.  I
always find it interesting that those who feel disenfranchised (as
opposed to those who really are) are almost always the radicals for
change.  Eric Hoffer made great use of this notion in True Believer.  The
radical desire for religious freedom sustained all of the 17th c. militant
action.  It seems Winstanley was just as much an opportunist as anyone
and found using religion a fruitful way to enlist a people who believed
in “heavenly salvation” superstitions of a supernatural afterlife.  The
society he naively had in mind was one where there was no use of
money and no private property, where everyone worked to produce food
and goods that would be free to all (in communal stores), He thought
(altruism would be the guide) an inner spirit would excise sin thereby
transforming human nature.  His not having any money might have had
much to do with the non-use of money in his utopia.  When push came
to shove he later capitulated to usual politics when elected as Chief
Constable then became a corn merchant. 

The ultimate value even of such a failed effort is that it was a form of
an attempt to organize people to change their way of life under a
monarchy.  All civil wars are about a power struggle of some sort.  What
becomes even more interesting is why these efforts at communism
ultimately failed?

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By Foucauldian, August 2, 2010 at 4:14 pm Link to this comment

Same here.  Clarity comes with writing.  It’s more a
case of feeding the data into the computer, analyzing
it, and ending up with new insights.

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By Anarcissie, August 2, 2010 at 9:52 am Link to this comment

Things in general are not clear to me, but I try to make my writing clear since, unlike things in general, it is partially within my power.  Surely Wittgenstein was joking when he said, “Whatever can be truly said, can be said clearly” (it goes better in German), but I choose to pretend to take him seriously from time to time.

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By Foucauldian, August 2, 2010 at 9:05 am Link to this comment

Anarcissie,

You’re forgetting I’m being selective.  There is only a
handful of people I can discuss this on the net or
elsewhere, as a matter of fact - I’m talking at my
level.  Of course the object of writing, especially for
public consumption, is a different one.

Well, what can I say?  I’m glad it’s all so clear to
you but you know what, I don’t envy you at all.

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By Anarcissie, August 2, 2010 at 8:56 am Link to this comment

Foucauldian—I myself don’t have a problem.  When I write in the analytical mode it is to clarify my ideas and convey them to others so that I can obtain their (hopefully intelligent) criticism.  That requires a certain amount of structure because one is walking the razor’s edge between saying too much (and losing potential readers) and saying too little (leading to misunderstanding and encouraging television thought.)  Anyway, I like structure; so I obtain some entertainment if not enlightenment in ginning up my little two- and three-paragraph essays.  Stylistically speaking, my favorite writer is Edward Gibbon.  If that surprises you, remember that some people like Hegel!

You have said that you wanted to make progress, so I would think fairly structured discursive methods would appeal to you.  The Net and the streets are full of aimless babble (which, however, may be the most realistic approach to things—it is illusions which must be carefully cultivated, especially the illusion of knowing what’s going on.)

I am open to making progress myself but for that I need opposition, which I seldom get.  The “Anarchist Praxis” essay, for instance, is a sketch, which I thought would at least annoy people, but in fact the only thoughtful responses to it I have received in the ten or eleven years since it was revealed to the world have been some genial right-wing mockery.  The right-wingers had a different conception of human nature than I do, so they were not of much use to me.  Of course there is also the dialectic with nature, some of which is recorded in the saga of the Free Store (also on the same site).  But in general no more detail or argumentation proved to be needed or desired.

I suppose I could write it up as a novel and thus put in sex, violence and vampire cats, making it a sure best-seller, soon to be a major motion picture.  (Do they still do that?)

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By Foucauldian, August 2, 2010 at 3:53 am Link to this comment

Just skimmed through your link post, A, a great read.
You are very Foucauldian, you rascal you.  TC and
troll will be happy to hear it.

BTW, perhaps the obstinacy quotient in some of my
comments is the direct result of the writer’s block. 
I’ve drafted the beginning chapters of work in
progress (Shenon liked it, as a matter of fact), but
now I’m experiencing an impasse as to the direction
the work should take.  And my present circumstances
are such that the internet is my lifeblood.

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By Foucauldian, August 2, 2010 at 3:24 am Link to this comment

Great link, Anarcissie; will give it closer look
soon.

I’m beginning to perceive what I regard as” our
problem”:  you’re always in a writer’s mode.  Not
good for dialectical thinking and the dialogue form.

See, I come from a different line of thought. 
Philosophy is a process, dissertation a final
product.  So from my point of view, if I was at a
dissertation stage, I wouldn’t be here (except
perhaps to speak to all of you from Mount Olympus -
you don’t see that attitude in me, do you?)

So yes, I’m doing process-writing here, Anarcissie,
and I couldn’t care less if it’s a public forum.  I
don’t worry about being judged by any of you because
what may or may not say is imperfect.  And perhaps
that’s why I’m having a problem with many of your and
Shenon’s comments.  Too often I get the impression
you’re both stagnated in your thinking, so complacent
you seem to be (and no, I’m not talking about any
kind of revolution, only about revolution in
thinking).  The only other explanation is, you don’t
want to show your groping selves in public (and I
suppose I can respect that).  Remember what I said
earlier (or was it on another thread) about genuine
concern.  It’s got to be the main motive lest we be
destined to stand still.

Thanks for sharing the link, Anarrcissie, very
informative.  Perhaps the twain shall meet (no, I’m
not stealing your phrase, Shenon).

Editing the comments before posting - chuckle,
chuckle.

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By Anarcissie, August 1, 2010 at 9:32 pm Link to this comment

That’s odd.  The second one down (first to appear) is the revision.  Now you will know my compositional methods!

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By Anarcissie, August 1, 2010 at 9:29 pm Link to this comment

Foucauldian—I followed the link, but perhaps not very attentively since you said you no longer had the same ideas as those you had expressed there.  Unless you are talking about some other reference.

I myself do not make much progress.  If you look at http://1freeworld.org/anaprax1.htm you will see just about the same ideas I have been giving out here, except they are a little bit more practical and concrete.  If you look around you will notice that they have not occasioned world revolution.  As I writer I make no more progress than the spider patiently reweaving the same old web.

Tolstoyscat (and maybe others)—If you do not already know about it, you might enjoy Christopher Hill’s The World Turned Upside Down (http://www.amazon.com/World-Turned-Upside-Down-Revolution/dp/0140137327), subtitled “Radical ideas during the English Revolution”.  In it you will find anarchism preceding the 19th century by a few hundred years in the form of the Diggers, Ranters, Levelers, etc.  And that was just in little old England, which we know had the ill luck of being a “sceptre’d isle”.

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By Anarcissie, August 1, 2010 at 9:18 pm Link to this comment

Foucauldian—I followed the link, but perhaps not very attentively since you said you no longer maintained the same ideas as those you had expressed there.  Unless you are talking about some other reference.

I myself do not make much progress.  If you look at http://1freeworld.org/anaprax1.htm you will see just about the same ideas I have been giving out here, except they are a little bit more practical and concrete.  If you look around you will notice that they have not occasioned world revolution.

Tolstoyscat (and maybe others)—If you do not already know about it, you might enjoy Christopher Hill’s The World Turned Upside Down (http://www.amazon.com/World-Turned-Upside-Down-Revolution/dp/0140137327), subtitled “Radical ideas during the English Revolution”.  In it you will find anarchism preceding the 19th century by a few hundred years in the form of the Diggers, Ranters, Levelers, etc.  And that was just in little old England, which as we know had the ill luck of being a “sceptre’d isle”.

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By tolstoyscat, August 1, 2010 at 8:24 pm Link to this comment

ThomasG,

Stock markets? Employees? Taxes? Consumers? Gov’ts? Sounds like what we already have. No gracias, amigo.

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By ThomasG, August 1, 2010 at 7:32 pm Link to this comment

Shenonymous, August 1 at 12:10 pm, and Shenonymous, July 31 at 6:52 pm,

As I have explained in my post of August 1, 2010 at 10:47pm, the markets will work just as well with Social Capital as with Private Capital, and the proof is Private Capital.

Private Capital provides a Revenue Stream to Private Interests and has been very efficient in doing so; that same efficiency applies to Social Capital, as described in my August 1, 2010 10:47pm post, and will provide a Revenue Stream from Social Capital to Social Interests with the same efficiency as does Private Capital.

To claim otherwise would be to claim that Private Capital can not and will not provide a Private Revenue Stream for Private Purpose; and, as we all know, to do so would be a false claim.

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By christian96, August 1, 2010 at 7:22 pm Link to this comment

A little humor.  Imagine a picture of Hillary and
Chelsea laughing.  Under the picture is written:

With the wedding rapidly approaching and wanting to
appear the concerned parent Hillary ask, “Chelsea
have you ever had sex with Marc?”
Chelsea replied, “Not according to dad!”

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By ThomasG, August 1, 2010 at 6:47 pm Link to this comment

The Stock Market and Social Capital

How would Social Capital, as stock, be used and traded by the Stock Market, and who would benefit from the Revenue Stream of Social Capital?

With regard to Social Capital, Socialized Capitalism, and the Stock Market, the Stock Market will function in the same manner as it presently does; change does not come to the Stock Market, as it functionally exists; change to the Stock Market comes from who the buyers, sellers, and recipients of benefit are from the Revenue Stream of Social Capital.

Cities, counties, states, the Federal government, co-operatives together with all social entities, institutions of business, industry, and commerce would constitute the market for Social Stock in Socialized Capitalism, and a Socialized Stock Market, as sellers, buyers, and recipients of benefit from the Revenue Stream of Social Capital; a Revenue Stream that can and will fund operation expenses of government from city expenses to county expenses, state expenses and Federal government expenses.  This Revenue Stream of Social Capital would reduce the tax burden of individual citizens in their capacity as employees and consumers, and to the extent the Revenue Stream of Social Capital provides operating expenses for all levels of government, city, county, state and Federal, the tax burden upon the American Populace and the Middle Class as a whole would be diminished.

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By Foucauldian, August 1, 2010 at 6:13 pm Link to this comment

Tried to be subtle, Anarcissie, but the reason I was attracted to this thread was your thinking and that of Shenon.  It was with the two of you I was trying to establish focus and coherence, using the platform for the very purpose, only as a stepping stone to bigger and better things.  For let’s face it, the article itself is of limited value, and we’ve already covered the ground.  It’s value, however, lies in the general themes it generates.  And those aren’t, as you call, peripheral themes but themes dealing with foundations. 

As I mentioned to Shenon at the very beginning, we do have a small discussion group on the BC forum, and I extended my invitation to her (I suppose I was doing likewise with you).  We all share those interests in common, interests which are fired by genuine concern.  I’m sorry if failed to whet your appetite.  I tried.

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By Anarcissie, August 1, 2010 at 5:15 pm Link to this comment

Foucauldian, August 1 at 5:00 pm;

‘Anarcissie,

I wasn’t knocking your impulse to address the general public, for their edification, I suppose.  I should think that the audience on this thread is intelligent enough to get the gist of what’s happening without being spoon-fed every other post or so.  Everyone is free to jump in and put their two cents.  What I am saying, however, these repetitions dilute the conversation and somehow manage to keep them off track.  What we need is focus, sharp focus, the sharper focus the better, one point at a time.’

 
I don’t think you’re going to get a lot of focus or coherence of the Net.  I suppose in theory we should be discussing Satz’s book instead of peripheral matters like the general nature of capitalism.  But on the Internet, people tend to wander off onto a variety of subjects simultaneously—here I am discussing the nature of Internet forums—and a lengthy, detailed argument is unlikely to be read, much less understood.  Usenet, which you may be familiar with, provided a way of splitting threads and starting new subjects ad-hoc, but it has attracted large numbers of trolls and spammers and many of the newsgroups are now pretty unusable.

It’s too bad.  I feel that most of my political writing has become tediously didactic because of the constant need to establish some kind of common framework in which to discuss things.  I should be outraging people instead of establishing agreement about the multiplication table.  But….

At least we’re not on Twitter.

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By Anarcissie, August 1, 2010 at 5:15 pm Link to this comment

Shenonymous, August 1 at 5:32 pm:

‘Anarcissie, you are suggesting a hierarchy of choices.  That could be interesting but seems antithetical to the notion of choice. Consumption seems to be more pertinent to economies than choices.  Continued consumption is at the bottom of all desire for power.  Particularly nonessential consumption.  And power breeds the desire for more power so that more products for consumption becomes demanded.

Your example of a community with strong individual-rights practices are organized socialistically for economic purposes has the tinge of socialized capitalism as per Hanifan.’

Decomposing values into series of choices is an analytical method widespread among philosophers, sociologists, and so on.  I don’t know who invented it.  To me it is a rather abstract view but it does get down to brass tacks, so to speak.

People desire power because they are willful animals; because they will things, they desire the power to work their wills.  As infants, they soon run into opponents: other willful beings, the laws of physics, their own ignorance and weaknesses, and so on.  How they deal with other willful beings is the subject of politics.  Etymologically, possession comes from roots meaning “power” and “sit”: it’s what you have the power to sit on.  Possession of instruments can increase one’s power, and possessions can be markers of power (thus perhaps cowing competitors) but I think power precedes possession.  The focus on possessions has been greatly sharpened in the modern world by the scarcity-production necessary to keep capitalism going; stuff is often offered by a stressed ruling class as an alternative to power-sharing.  When the ruling class gets a better grip, the stuff is withdrawn.  (Hence the rise of working-class and poor people’s incomes when the American r.c. was threatened by fascism and Communism, and the fall of them since the 1970s when these threats had receded or disappeared.)

Cooperative organizations would indeed be a kind of social capital a la Hanifan.  However, they are not capitalist (in my sense of the word).

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By tolstoyscat, August 1, 2010 at 2:33 pm Link to this comment

Oh I forgot, yes, I know the history of the split between Marx and Bakunin. I am not sure what your prediction about anarchists and Marxists means. I think I am missing something.

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By tolstoyscat, August 1, 2010 at 2:24 pm Link to this comment

Shenonynous,

Okay, let me correct that then. I hope this is better.

Yes, it makes a certain sense, but only if when questioning it, you accept the story of the dominant culture and look at the evidence that is consistent with that narrative. If you look at the narratives of the marginalized cultures at the same time your privileged folks are enjoying their material bounty, you may see a different picture.

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By Shenonymous, August 1, 2010 at 1:36 pm Link to this comment

tolstoyscat, anarchism in the sense I think you are referring came
about as a split in the socialist movement that resulted in a war
between Marxists and anarchists over a hundred years ago.  Even
though these two groups are finding some unifying basis today,
the philosophical essences of each will keep them permanently at
odds, just as Christianity and Islam will never find confluence. 
Anarchists are for the individual, Marxists are for the group.  How
shall the twain meet?  In the case of theological religion they will
not.  In the case of secular religion of anarchism and Marxism each
port will have to give up part of their ideology.  By engaging in a kind
of ideological bartering?  How do you suppose that can happen without
some temporary self-delusion?

And of course and by the way, tolstoyscat, I am not omniscient and do
research, and as I understand what I read I paraphrase the information. 
And if I recall past news accounts I search to see if I recall rightly or not
and combine what I recall with any fruit of my research.  It is petty of
you to accuse me of swallowing whole what is the case.  Because I do
not harbor the same sentiments about issues as you does not mean I
do not intellectually assess what I find.  I don’t mind your challenges
and will address them one at a time but it will have to come in parts
because I have a life not attached umbilically to TD as apparently some
are.

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By Shenonymous, August 1, 2010 at 1:32 pm Link to this comment

Politically speaking, people kill other people for the same reasons
animals kill other animals.  For various forms of territory.  We’ve
tried to speak of morality, christian96, but it goes nowhere.  Why?
Because whatever is concluded, one is obligated to live by one’s own
ideas of morality.  Hence, it becomes a self-choking enterprise when
one realizes that covenant.

It is not enough to keep speaking in the abstract about the virtues and
vices of economic strategies for nations.  It must shown how theories of
socioeconomic politics can reasonably be applied, with historical
precedence, in order for relative merits or demerits to be assessed. 
Since all countries are not alike, and although some share similarities in
construction and composition, it must also be shown how any theory
may be applicable to each if it is to be shown that the protocols will
indeed promote good for all of the people of the world.

Anarcissie, you are suggesting a hierarchy of choices.  That could be
interesting but seems antithetical to the notion of choice. Consumption
seems to be more pertinent to economies than choices.  Continued
consumption is at the bottom of all desire for power.  Particularly
nonessential consumption.  And power breeds the desire for more
power so that more products for consumption becomes demanded. 
Your example of a community with strong individual-rights practices
are organized socialistically for economic purposes has the tinge of
socialized capitalism as per Hanifan. 

It is odd to say that freedom of action is constrained by the social
institution of markets (in this case).  That says action is compelled by
circumstances.  Does that really say anything significant?  Action is
compelled by the emotions affected then effected by circumstances is
what really happens.  Isn’t that the way all social action occurs?  It is all
and always constrained by circumstances.  If not, then the laws of the
social organization are broken and there are consequences. Constraint
of the freedom of action in connection with the social institution of
markets is no different than any freedom of action in connection with
any social institution.  That is the nature of social institutions, one is
constrained from acting as one wishes but must conform to the
conventions of the social order.

The Agora was an open meeting place in ancient Greece but it was
restricted to “free” born male landowners, citizens only, who would go
mainly for political reasons related to military service since wars were
almost the soup du jour or to hear what the current kind or council had
to announce.  Then it evolved to be a “marketplace” to sell goods.  It
was not a place for barter.  Money, cash, invented in Lydia in late 7th-
early 6th century, the use of coinage was adopted by the Greek city-
states as the medium of exchange mainly to hire mercenaries and to
compensate citizens.  As a place that evolved to exchange ideas, it was
hardly communistic except that whoever was within hearing distance
and could hear, freely received what was said.  The state or ruler hardly
“owned” or controlled what was heard and in a sense all hearers equally
shared what was said, but that is stretching the definition of the world
communistic quite a bit.

More later about capitalism and the idea of individual freedom.

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By Foucauldian, August 1, 2010 at 1:00 pm Link to this comment

Anarcissie,

I wasn’t knocking your impulse to address the general public, for their edification, I suppose.  I should think that the audience on this thread is intelligent enough to get the gist of what’s happening without being spoon-fed every other post or so.  Everyone is free to jump in and put their two cents.  What I am saying, however, these repetitions dilute the conversation and somehow manage to keep them off track.  What we need is focus, sharp focus, the sharper focus the better, one point at a time.  Keeping it informal is just the ticket.  Notice, I don’t post to the world at large; all of my comments are addressed to an intended recipient; that does away with unnecessary confusion, it makes it clear without a doubt what point is being made and to whom.  I had no idea you were addressing Shenon.  Again, the general form of address is more often than not misleading.

As to your comment, “Reversions to feudal and tribal relations are certainly possible and in fact we observe them reported in the media almost daily, referred to as mafias or gangs.”

Of course I’m not denying that when it comes to marginal, isolated cases and examples.  I was under the impression, however, that we were discussing the general, wholesale solution, such as may yet emerge in the foreseeable future.  And whatever that solution or resolution will be, it will not be feudalism or neo-feudalism but a new and novel historical form.  We shan’t return to the past.

Your observations, however, about gangs, mafia, etc., are very astute.  It shows the extent to which we all still harbor tribal and romantic sentiments, and oftentimes, when the existing social structure breaks down or becomes coercive, we do return to the ways of the past.

A best example of that is a kind of nostalgia, a romantic yearning for a community of sorts (imagined after a fashion of olden days).  Lots of analysts address this sentiment and warn us against it, against romanticizing the concept of community, that is.  Miranda Joseph’s latest work is in that very key.

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By tolstoyscat, August 1, 2010 at 12:05 pm Link to this comment

Shenonymous, August 1 at 12:10 pm

Some of this reasoning in this post sounds like it was co-opted (or swallowed whole) directly from the dominant narrative—without questioning. Yes, it makes a certain sense, but only if you don’t question it or look at what is happening to the marginalized cultures at the same time your privileged folks are enjoying their material bounty. Let me challenge a couple things:

After the collapse of social classes and the beginning of democracy, taxes were substituted for the practice of presents to the king and were then able to be used by citizens to manage their communities.

One: what collapse of social classes? Two: the duty of taxes to the privileged, ruling class were substituted for the duty of obligation to the king. Three: the citizens who managed the community, the beginning of democracy? The ruling class, began to fence the commons and herd the workers into factories to become wage slaves. This is how capitalism begins to blossom, during the industrial and agricultural revolutions. A new kind of slavery is born and it is called ‘Democracy”—which really means freedom for those who count—the male land owners and owners of the means of production.

This describes a system of domination, not freedom.

For example and eventually when democracy and a free market system takes over North Korea, the feudal king, Kim Jong Il, will be replaced by a government that responds to the will of the people.

Gov’ts do not respond to the will of the people, they protect the powerful class and its property.

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By Anarcissie, August 1, 2010 at 12:00 pm Link to this comment

Foucauldian—I think the discursive format calls for general presentation, the same as a discussion in a group where several people are physically present to one another.

In my previous message I was reacting mostly to Shenonymous’s assertion of the identity of the liberal rights with capitalism, but there is no reason for others not to read it and respond to it if they like.  I didn’t think it was necessary to provide a quotation since the assertion was unique in its context and I thought what I was referring to would be clear.

Reversions to feudal and tribal relations are certainly possible and in fact we observe them reported in the media almost daily, referred to as mafias or gangs.

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By tolstoyscat, August 1, 2010 at 11:45 am Link to this comment

Anarcissie, August 1 at 11:52 am

That was an excellent post. Very helpful to my thinking.

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By Foucauldian, August 1, 2010 at 10:01 am Link to this comment

christian96

You say, “. . .but I don’t read much about “morality” which is part of the title of this book review.”

A very good question, but there is also a very good answer.  When we’re discussing the abuses that come and parcel with the capitalism system, we are invoking morality, however tacitly.  We’re also invoking it when we speak of exploitation of labor, deception in advertising and marketing, etc.  In this way, we’re appealing to what I regard as our common moral sensibilities.

But here lies the rub.  Moral language is essentially an language of appeal, or exhortation, even a language of condemnation if need be.  It is not “descriptive.”  (I hope you understand the distinction I’m making.) 

If one wants to use morality as a court of the last appeal - similarly to the way in which, say, God was once appealed to as the final authority - one had better have a sound argument at their disposal to that very effect.  If I am prepared to make some such argument, this certainly is neither the time nor place.  If anything, such an argument must emerge further down the line, in the tail end.

Meanwhile, we’re simply appealing to “common human sensibilities” - that illusive term again - if only for the purpose of furthering the substantive discussion.

Notice, BTW, that Marx also doesn’t resort to moral terms when critiquing the capitalist system.  He plays is safe, I venture to say, by merely assuming it.  Why open the Pandora’s box unless it’s absolutely necessary?

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By Foucauldian, August 1, 2010 at 9:45 am Link to this comment

Shenon, with all due respect, you do say in your recent comment “A new Middle Ages just is
not in the future.”

How else am I supposed interpret that remark if not in the way I have?  (And there is no mention of N. Korean or any other godforsaken place anywhere in sight, unless somewhere further down, buried in your lengthy comments).

So stop building a strawman, will you?  No one is advocating such a preposterous thing.

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By Foucauldian, August 1, 2010 at 9:33 am Link to this comment

Anarcisse,

You say:

“Therefore, I think it is an error to conflate the individual equal rights of liberalism with capitalism.  There is a certain intersection but their identity is neither observed in practice nor theoretically required.”

Of course you realize I didn’t suggest any such thing (though many analysts labor under the impression that liberal democracies can only thrive under capitalism).  In fact, my very questioning of “economic rights” as part & parcel of the whole package which come with the rights “guaranteed” by liberal democracies should convince you of the fact.  Which makes me wonder, of course.  Why bother to reiterate what I just said - for public consumption, I suppose - rather than simply say “I agree” or “I disagree” (and if the latter, say why)? 

I believe we would make greater progress if you treated this conversation as a dialogue rather than posting to all and sundry, dissertation style.  And this applies to Shenon, too.

You guys appear to have a proclivity for making a full-scale presentation.  While there’s certainly the proper time and place for this kind of effort - write a paper, for Christ’s sake, submit, and then deal with criticism - this is hardly the forum.  More importantly, however, that’s not how we’re going to break a new ground, and it’s that what I’m after.  That’s why I enlisted you in this conversation because you’re both have good minds.  But hearing myself speak, just for the sake of hearing myself speak, is not my cup of tea.  Excuse me but it’s not, and I mean it most respectfully.

So let’s keep it “up close and personal,” shall you?  We’re having personal conversations, don’t we? and I stress the term “personal.”  It’s not only far more gratifying but also more productive on the long run.  Take the lead from Plato.

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By christian96, August 1, 2010 at 8:35 am Link to this comment

I’ve been reading comments.  I read a lot about
“liberalism”, “socialism”, “political philosphies”,
etc. but I don’t read much about “morality” which
is part of the title of this book review.  I laughed
when Tolstoyscat quoted a railroad tycoon years ago
“I can hire half the working class to kill the other
half.”  Sadly, it’s true.  Look at the Pentagon today.  I don’t know the latest demographics on
soldiers fighting the wars but I’d guess most of them
are from a middle to lower working class background
with average to below average IQ’s.  I don’t imagine
a lot of them sitting on their bunks at night with
their hand under their chins saying to themselves,
“I wonder why I’m over here killing all these people
I don’t even know?”  They joined the service to make
a buck and get some traveling experiences they wouldn’t be able to afford outside the service.  They
are killing somebody they don’t know because they
were conditioned to do so by wars movies, tv war programs, computer games, listening to buddies who
were in the services, etc.  Instead of a lot of
discussion on philosophies perhaps you should concentrate more on morality.  Why do humans kill
other humans they happen to be sharing the planet
with?

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By Shenonymous, August 1, 2010 at 8:10 am Link to this comment

Once again, I did not suggest a “return” to feudalism.  So you are
misrepresenting me, Foucauldian.  I said feudalism continues to
exist in various parts of the world.  North Korea, for instance,
resembles the medieval feudal nation. 

A system of ownership assumed that the land, its produce, and the
people as well were the property of a medieval king.  It was a duty for
each citizen to present mainly precious goods to the king.  After the
collapse of social classes and the beginning of democracy, taxes were
substituted for the practice of presents to the king and were then able
to be used by citizens to manage their communities. 

For example and eventually when democracy and a free market system
takes over North Korea, the feudal king, Kim Jong Il, will be replaced by
a government that responds to the will of the people.  Tributes and
fealty are still, today, required even though that regime claims that
social classes do not exist any longer.  The people must “dedicate” their
meat, produce, and fur from the rabbits they are compelled to raise
(they must contribute four sheets of rabbit fur per year to the Supreme
Leader-King).  I can show many contemporary instances of feudalistic
organization but unless requested it is a foregone conclusion that it
does exist, and more hugely than might be thought.

It is inarguable that capitalism, emphatically, improves the material
living standard of those who live under such an economic system.  This
truism is proven by the number of people wanting to migrate to
America, and the way former strongly socialistic countries are now
transmuting with capitalism being amalgamated within their economic
programs.

Again, freedom (aka capitalism) ultimately justifies this system because
only it affords true dignity to individuals – the dignity that is
denied by interventionist systems (socialism/communism) which
arbitrarily diminishes each person’s freedom to choose, to whatever
degree it is possible however philosophically debatable choice may be. 
And nonetheless, socialized capitalism seems to offer the best of both
approaches. No one has offered any other comprehensive program as a
reasonable alternative.

tolstoyscat, anarchism in the sense I think you are referring came about
as a split in the socialist movement that resulted in a war between
Marxists and anarchists over a hundred years ago.  Even though these
two groups are finding some unifying basis today, the philosophical
essences of each will keep them permanently at odds, just like
Christianity and Islam will never find confluence.  Anarchists are for the
individual, Marxists are for the group.  How shall the twain meet?  In
the case of theological religion they will not.  In the case of secular
religion of anarchism and Marxism each port will have to give up part of
their ideology.  By engaging in a kind of ideological bartering?  How do
you suppose that can happen without some temporary self-delusion?

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By Anarcissie, August 1, 2010 at 7:52 am Link to this comment

The recognition of equal individual rights is usually called “liberalism”.  It is not hard to conceive of a state of affairs in which the means of production are privately held and yet most individual rights do not exist or are severely circumscribed; this is the way the classical fascist regimes worked out in practice, although many fascists exhibited anti-capitalist rhetoric.  I think it is also reasonable to regard state capitalism (as implemented by Lenin, and widely found throughout the world today) as a form of capitalism, and it often exists with limited individual rights (China, Vietnam).

And on the other side it not hard to think of a situation in which people in a community with strong individual-rights practices are organized socialistically for economic purposes; one observes some of this in the northern Midwest of the U.S., apparently due to Scandinavian immigration a century or so ago.

Therefore, I think it is an error to conflate the individual equal rights of liberalism with capitalism.  There is a certain intersection but their identity is neither observed in practice nor theoretically required.

Capitalists and capitalism fans in practice often exhibit hostility to (some) individual rights.  For instance, many support “Right To Work” laws (the prohibition of the closed shop), a position which violates the fundamental rights of expression, association, assembly and contract of anyone who happens to be an employee.  Another classic example is the conflict between free expression and private property rights at malls, which may be the only practical public meeting places for large numbers of people.  Capitalists also frequently seek monopolies or other reductions of competition, which are an attack on the commercial rights of other capitalists and their customers.

One can of course change the meaning of the word “capitalism” so that it refers only to liberal capitalism practiced with absolute idealism, as American libertarians do.  I am talking about the private ownership of the means of production in general.

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By Foucauldian, July 31, 2010 at 7:56 pm Link to this comment

Correction:  should be Susanne K. Langer.

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