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This Country Needs a Few Good Communists

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Posted on May 31, 2010
AP / Elizabeth Dalziel

By Chris Hedges

The witch hunts against communists in the United States were used to silence socialists, anarchists, pacifists and all those who defied the abuses of capitalism. Those “anti-Red” actions were devastating blows to the political health of the country. The communists spoke the language of class war. They understood that Wall Street, along with corporations such as British Petroleum, is the enemy. They offered a broad social vision which allowed even the non-communist left to employ a vocabulary that made sense of the destructive impulses of capitalism. But once the Communist Party, along with other radical movements, was eradicated as a social and political force, once the liberal class took government-imposed loyalty oaths and collaborated in the witch hunts for phantom communist agents, we were robbed of the ability to make sense of our struggle. We became fearful, timid and ineffectual. We lost our voice and became part of the corporate structure we should have been dismantling.

Hope in this age of bankrupt capitalism will come with the return of the language of class conflict. It does not mean we have to agree with Karl Marx, who advocated violence and whose worship of the state as a utopian mechanism led to another form of enslavement of the working class, but we have to speak in the vocabulary Marx employed. We have to grasp, as Marx did, that corporations are not concerned with the common good. They exploit, pollute, impoverish, repress, kill and lie to make money. They throw poor families out of homes, let the uninsured die, wage useless wars to make profits, poison and pollute the ecosystem, slash social assistance programs, gut public education, trash the global economy, loot the U.S. Treasury and crush all popular movements that seek justice for working men and women. They worship only money and power. And, as Marx knew, unfettered capitalism is a revolutionary force that consumes greater and greater numbers of human lives until it finally consumes itself. The nightmare in the Gulf of Mexico is the perfect metaphor for the corporate state. It is the same nightmare seen in postindustrial pockets from the old mill towns in New England to the abandoned steel mills in Ohio. It is a nightmare that Iraqis, Pakistanis and Afghans, mourning their dead, live each day. 

Capitalism was once viewed in America as a system that had to be fought. But capitalism is no longer challenged. And so, even as Wall Street steals billions of taxpayer dollars and the Gulf of Mexico is turned into a toxic swamp, we do not know what to do or say. We decry the excesses of capitalism without demanding a dismantling of the corporate state. The liberal class has a misguided loyalty, illustrated by environmental groups that have refused to excoriate the Obama White House over the ecological catastrophe in the Gulf of Mexico. Liberals bow before a Democratic Party that ignores them and does the bidding of corporations. The reflexive deference to the Democrats by the liberal class is the result of cowardice and fear. It is also the result of an infantile understanding of the mechanisms of power. The divide is not between Republican and Democrat. It is a divide between the corporate state and the citizen. It is a divide between capitalists and workers. And, for all the failings of the communists, they got it. 

Unions, organizations formerly steeped in the doctrine of class warfare and filled with those who sought broad social and political rights for the working class, have been transformed into domesticated partners of the capitalist class. They have been reduced to simple bartering tools. The social demands of unions early in the 20th century that gave the working class weekends off, the right to strike, the eight-hour day and Social Security have been abandoned. Universities, especially in political science and economics departments, parrot the discredited ideology of unregulated capitalism and have no new ideas. Artistic expression, along with most religious worship, is largely self-absorbed narcissism. The Democratic Party and the press have become corporate servants. The loss of radicals within the labor movement, the Democratic Party, the arts, the church and the universities has obliterated one of the most important counterweights to the corporate state. And the purging of those radicals has left us unable to make sense of what is happening to us.

The fear of communism, like the fear of Islamic terrorism, has resulted in the steady suspension of civil liberties, including freedom of speech, habeas corpus and the right to organize, values the liberal class claims to support. It was the orchestration of fear that permitted the capitalist class to ram through the Taft-Hartley Act in 1948 in the name of anti-communism, the most destructive legislative blow to the working class until the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). It was fear that created the Patriot Act, extraordinary rendition, offshore penal colonies where we torture and the endless wars in the Middle East. And it was fear that was used to see us fleeced by Wall Street. If we do not stop being afraid and name our enemy we will continue toward a state of neofeudalism.

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Anarcissie's avatar

By Anarcissie, July 17, 2010 at 5:40 am Link to this comment

ofersince72—Mr. Lincoln played in a lot of keys.  I think the Gore Vidal view—that he was a sort of Bismarck who changed the U.S. from a confederation to a unified European-style state—is an important aspect of his political personality.  I don’t know how he would have handled the rise of the great capitalists and corporations which followed the Civil War.  He certainly wasn’t a socialist.  Like Bismarck he might have seen social democracy—the Welfare state—as an alternative to socialism, and so we would have had the New Freedom and the New Deal a few generations earlier, assuming he had been able to get his ideas across.  As an orator or, one might say, poet, he advocated a powerful, quasi-deified central government:  “government of the people, by the people, for the people” which, in my view, leads directly to the imperial-monarchical presidency we experience today, since the unified single will of an entire community can be elicited and effected—created, even—only by some sort of specially informed, specially inspired, specially empowered interpreter, one that assumes the “mandate of Heaven”.

His statement on the importance, the centrality of labor in the creation of wealth suggest that he would not (willingly) have been quite the creature of the great capitalists that his successors were.

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By ofersince72, July 17, 2010 at 12:58 am Link to this comment

That is probably why Trotsky thought that the fight
for labor would be a never ending battle.

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By ofersince72, July 17, 2010 at 12:40 am Link to this comment

The world hasn’t seen what I term “unfucked with”
socialism since the Industrial Revolution began. The
Capitolists have made sure of that. We have now been
limited in discussion to defining Capitol. The Capitolists
won.!!!!,,,,as witnessed from the present state of affairs
of the United States of America.
  The Capitolists have spent the last fifty years in
a very methodical manner destroying all the gains made by
labor from the beginning of the Industrial Revolution
until the late mid-twentith century.  We have know idea
whether a socialist state would ever work because their
has never been any unfettered socialist state , as
witnessed by the Republic of Cuba, who, when implementing
an economic system based on labor and not Capitol, was
blockaded and isolated by the world’s largest and most
powerful Capitolist nation.

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By ofersince72, July 17, 2010 at 12:29 am Link to this comment

The onslought of the Industrial Revolution didn’t get
into full swing until the mid-ninteeth century, that is
what the American Civil War was about, Labor.
  I know all that feel good stuff they taught us about
slavery,  truth is , the north didn’t give anymore of a
Rat’s ass about the blacks than the Souterners did as
witnessed by all the major cities in the north from then
up until the present.
  The European overlords were watching with much interest
how the A. Civil War was panning out, they even would
send observers.  It was the beginning of many wars that
would be fought to address labor, including WWI and WWII
, no matter what myth they tell us the reason that those
major wars were fought for.

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By ofersince72, July 17, 2010 at 12:15 am Link to this comment

From that quote , it sure seems like ole Abe

was having quite a dialogue with those mid-ninteenth

century European Philosophers and Economists, doesn’t it.

  Do you reckon that just might be the reason that he
caught that bullet while attending Ford Theater?

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By ofersince72, July 16, 2010 at 10:20 pm Link to this comment

I am sure that you, Anarcissie, got the meaning of
that quote.
For the title of this thread

This Country Needs A Few Good Communists

has been dominated by the meaning of Capitol, and
very little on Labor.

To me,  that is the essense of communism, the needs of
Labor and insuring fair return for labor, including
health care, vacations, paid holidays, child care and
all of the other issues that suround labor.

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By ofersince72, July 16, 2010 at 9:57 pm Link to this comment

ThankYou Anar

I recall that now that you mention it.

I don’t hardly google anything, my only computer use
is entertainment on TD.  and for a while the BP
live videos.

  I recall that Lincoln speech now ....

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Anarcissie's avatar

By Anarcissie, July 16, 2010 at 8:45 pm Link to this comment

ofersince72—the quotation is from Lincoln:
http://dig.lib.niu.edu/teachers/econ1-lincoln.html

Google is all-knowing.

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By Anarcissie, July 16, 2010 at 8:40 pm Link to this comment

ThomasG, July 16 at 11:25 pm:

‘What is it that you perceive an asset that provides a revenue stream, capital, to be? — What is it that you perceive an asset that does not provide a revenue stream to be? ——And, what do you perceive the difference to be between and the function of assets that provide a revenue stream, capital, and assets that do not provide a revenue stream?’

Well, let’s see.  If I have $100,000, and I put it in the bank, I will get some interest, and you could call that a revenue stream, I suppose.  On the other hand, I could buy a gold ingot with it and put it under the bed, and then I would have an asset but no revenue stream unless I sold it at a higher price—then I’d be a successful commodities trader.  That would be a kind of labor, though, added to the asset.  I could buy stock, but I’d have to study the stock market to make sure of getting any revenue.

I could take the money and buy some sort of tools or equipment, but unless I added labor of various kinds to the possession of the tools, or rented them out, they would not provide a revenue stream.

Likewise I could buy a house and rent it out, but I would have to manage the house—get tenants, do maintenance, sweep the sidewalk, pay taxes, insurance, the water bill, and so on.  More labor.

So it seems that the only kind of asset which doesn’t require labor to produce revenue is a financial asset.

Mostly I believe wealth is produced by labor (using capital in the form of tools, of course) and a revenue stream is extracted from that activity by other labor, like the use of force, fraud, persuasion, or advantageous trade.  Assets by themselves (unless you’re treating human beings as assets, as in ‘human resources’) don’t produce wealth and thus revenue cannot be extracted from them.  As I said before, money in the financial system may be the exception.

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By ofersince72, July 16, 2010 at 8:40 pm Link to this comment

“Labor is prior to and indepentent of , capitol.

Capitol is only the fruit of labor and could not exist

if labor had not first existed.

  Labor is superior to capitol, and deserves much
higher consideration.”


A quote that I had written down,
from when and   where ???

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By ThomasG, July 16, 2010 at 7:25 pm Link to this comment

Anarcissie, July 16 at 7:01 pm, Anarcissie, July 16 at 10:53 am, Anarcissie, July 16 at 12:05 am,

I recently had a series of conversations with a young man who was asking my family to help him because he was homeless, and every time we talked to the young man about improvement in his circumstances his claim was always that he did not understand.

It was interesting to listen to the young man because he would make complex arguments for his lack of understanding and that the concept of causality was incomprehensible to him.  I explained to the young man that causality, cause and effect, was the basis of understanding.

In the process of using simple examples of causality, cause and effect, and working through the process of cause to effect by way of all points in between, the young man told me that he knew what I was trying to do, and that he knew that if he admitted that he understood causality that he would be held responsible for the cause and effect of his own behavior, and that he did not want to do that.

With your claim, Anarcissie, to a lack of understanding of capital and the differences between and application of both social capital and private capital, and socialized capitalism and privatized capitalism; your arguments in support of a lack of understanding strike me to be the same as the young man that did not want to be held responsible to a standard of understanding and, therefore, denied understanding in order to evade responsibility for a standard of understanding that the young man did not want to accept.

How do you suppose that it can be possible to impart understanding to someone that does not want to understand, because they do not want to accept concurrent responsibility for that which they choose not to understand, and is this your position with regard to understanding capital, an asset that provides a revenue stream?

What is it that you perceive an asset that provides a revenue stream, capital, to be? — What is it that you perceive an asset that does not provide a revenue stream to be? ——And, what do you perceive the difference to be between and the function of assets that provide a revenue stream, capital, and assets that do not provide a revenue stream?  Perhaps, we can work forward from what it is that you will admit as understanding to some other new level of understanding, if you are sincere and serious in your claim, unlike the young homeless man who claimed not to understand because, as he said, he did not want to be held responsible for a higher level of understanding.

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By Anarcissie, July 16, 2010 at 3:01 pm Link to this comment

Well, if all ThomasG is talking about is cooperatives and ESOPs, I would think he would say so.  I had the idea something more centralized was being proposed.

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By ofersince72, July 16, 2010 at 2:53 pm Link to this comment

Troll,  thankyou for that feed,  I enjoyed that site.

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By troll, July 16, 2010 at 11:52 am Link to this comment

Unless voters legislate a new motive for investment in production, won’t the movement of Thomas’ private capital—the overwhelming majority of all monetized revenue producing assets at present—continue to be rationalized by maximization of profit or roi or whatever?  How much capital can a given community afford to have migrate away or sit stagnant before it starts having problems reproducing itself? As an example, how could the people of Michigan capture enough of this wealth to initiate programs based on substantially democratic propositions in the face of ongoing capital flight?

Those who hope for Thomas to flesh out his proposal might take a look at these guys for ideas in the meantime.

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By Foucauldian, July 16, 2010 at 10:59 am Link to this comment

He/she herself cannot come up with examples, so why should you?  The approach thus far has been that if you repeat something over and over again, it will become true.  Sheer insanity.

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By Anarcissie, July 16, 2010 at 6:53 am Link to this comment

Foucauldian, July 15 at 10:30 pm:

‘... I only hope that Anarcisse took the “humble
approach,” playing dumb and stupid, tongue-in-cheek.
She towers head and shoulders above our self-
proclaimed theorist.’

On the contrary, I do not tower anywhere.  I have not even grasped ThomasG’s notion of capital in such a way as to be able to produce instances of it.  That is why I am hoping for some examples.  Shenonymous says she agrees with ThomasG; maybe she can explain.

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By Foucauldian, July 16, 2010 at 6:33 am Link to this comment

For all the seeming sophistication of the last post,
it simply amounts to saying that the ruling classes
stole/appropriated what used to be communal assets;
hence the necessary remedy - to repossess those very
assets on behalf of the community.  So why not call a
spade and spade and be done with it, unless the
underlying thought is to represent oneself in a

One also gets the impression that Thomas/Martha “A
team” is either disabled or entitled to special
concessions, be it from the Right, the Center, or
George Soros himself.  Why this should be I have no
idea; the quality of thought certainly doesn’t
deserve a stipend.  Are there some special
circumstances we should all be aware of?

If Thomas G. is indeed deserving of special
treatment, beyond that usually accorded to ordinary
mortals, shouldn’t we be told on what she bases her
claim?

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By ThomasG, July 15, 2010 at 10:49 pm Link to this comment

The justification for the Nobles in Britain expropriating “social capital of the peasants” and placing that “social capital” into the hands of the Nobility, as “private capital”, was that the Nobility could consolidate the “social capital of the peasants” into more economically feasible portions, as “private capital”, and use the “social capital of the peasants”, as “private capital”, to greater effect, as “private capital”.

Conversely, the same argument applies today that the vast amounts of “social capital” that is consolidated as “communal assets of the United States” could be used more effectively for the greater good than “private capital”.

If the argument was a valid argument to begin with that consolidated “social capital into private capital” for the greater good; the converse argument that “social capital” already consolidated, as a “communal asset of the United States”, can serve the greater good as “social capital” more effectively than “private capital”, since privatization to consolidate the “social capital” is not required, due to consolidation being a preexistent condition of “social capital”, as it presently exists as “communal asset of the People of the United States.”

With regard to U.S. Government benefit from “socialized capitalism”, my proposal is that only surplus capital produced by “socialized capitalism” be returned to the U.S. Government as the “custodian of communal assets of the U.S. Populace”; all capital that is not surplus would go to capital reserves of business, industry, and other commercial enterprises; such as banking and investment infrastructure that enables “socialized capitalism”.

It is late and I have other matters to attend to, so I will get back to this as soon as time permits.

I write out my posts and MarthaA types everything I post.  MarthaA was sick yesterday and picking on MarthaA is not a constructive solution for anyone.

I do not have a staff and proper additional computer equipment that could easily be provided by the Political Left, but no one is putting anything forward to be helpful; so the best I can say is to get used to the glitches until such time as the deep pockets of the Political Left is willing to provide me with a staff and proper computer equipment. MarthaA  attempted to correct typing errors that previously were corrected when resending my post under my name, instead of hers, because she was sick.

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By Anarcissie, July 15, 2010 at 8:05 pm Link to this comment

Shenonymous, July 15 at 9:27 pm:

‘If I said I agreed with you ThomasG, that would not be a lie.  But although you have explained the why, to implement the way, the how that is, to make an evolution from privatized capitalism to socialized capitalism one needs tools and a schematic, a diagram as it were. ...’

ThomasG says I don’t understand what he means by capital, social capital, socialized capital, social capitalism, etc., so what I need at least is some definitions and concrete examples.  After that I can contemplate how the entities would work together, and finally how to get there from here.

Agreed, I’m being sort of dumb, like a Cobol program, data first, procedures later, but my attempts at jumping ahead don’t seem to have gotten me anywhere.

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By Foucauldian, July 15, 2010 at 6:30 pm Link to this comment

Good, at least we can get on track and get down to
cases.  Why don’t you field some questions?  And I
appreciate BTW the fact that you’re taking the high
road and letting me slide.

I must say, however, that we’re totally at odds about
Thomas G or Martha A, whatever the case may be. 
Judging by what has been presented thus far, he or
she is a mere technician:  prefixing “social” to
qualify capitalism doesn’t change the nature of the
beast.  For all his/her right-headed instincts about
the oppressive characteristics of the system in
place, she’s uniquely oblivious of the debilitating
effect, no matter how one cares to dress things up. 
I’m not against utopian literature, it has its time
and place because it conveys vision; but the
ruminations that have been offered thus far, under
the guise of re-definition, don’t even come close. 
The author suffers from a unique lack of imagination. 
They had better stick to Logic 101.  Conceptual
analysis is not their strong suit.

You complain about comic reposting.  That’s small
potatoes given the split personality of the poster,
trying to make up their mind as to who they really
are.  Or it may be the result of inadvertent button-
pushing on the computer keyboard.  But what’s
unforgivable is the constant resort to
capitalization.  As far as I am concerned, that’s
cause for disqualification. 

I only hope that Anarcisse took the “humble
approach,” playing dumb and stupid, tongue-in-cheek. 
She towers head and shoulders above our self-
proclaimed theorist.

Nuff said!

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Shenonymous's avatar

By Shenonymous, July 15, 2010 at 5:27 pm Link to this comment

If I said I agreed with you ThomasG, that would not be a lie.  But
although you have explained the why, to implement the way, the how
that is, to make an evolution from privatized capitalism to socialized
capitalism one needs tools and a schematic, a diagram as it were.
Theories remain in the realm of hypotheticals until they are applied.
Tools are needed to apply theory and steps for a successful program.
Recognizing the problem, naturally is the first step towards change.
Recognition has happened.  You and thousands, if not millions, of
others recognize there is a problem.  Hence the evolution has begun.
You have given a unique rational explanation, and a protocol for
change has to now commence.  Pop Capitalism seems to have been
born. 

I don’t worry that you and MarthaA get intermixed sometimes.  But four
posts of the same text is comic, at least for me.  It’s all right.  I can just
scroll past the extra three.  I was hoping MarthaA was a real entity as I
have enjoyed discussions with her in the past.  I am still reading
Gouldner occasionally, amongst the many other texts I’m trying to get
through.  I am fascinated by your and Anarcissie’s dialogue.  I can see
the connection is not aligned yet, but I see some progress even if you
two don’t.
 
I had several non online projects to attend to and I did not mean to
delay response Foucauldian.  I am gaining a great deal from our
conversation.

Foucauldian, Zeit Geist happens, and a spirit of the times will emerge
among the people as an evolutionary impulse, meaning it will happen
naturally.  Seems to me that economic/political systems have always
had an element of corruption to some degree or another regardless of
the basis of the system of production.  Name one that has not been. 
The American system has lasted for over two hundred years and while I
read a band voices of dissent I do not hear a groundswell among the
population to change it.  It needs changed because studies show people
are getting less and less bang for their bucks.  ThomasG at least offers
a prima facie compromise that would return more to the people.  I do
not trust socialism regardless of the fine arguments presented by
Foucault et al.

I will read the others you recommend, Lyotard, etc., It will take some
time to get the texts and in the meantime I will search the Net for
some insights.  The writings I have so far read are descriptions not
prescriptions.  I think there is enough description and it is time for
prescription.  What is your remedy?

Of course I can straddle the fence as a centrist.  I can look at both sides
to see their merits or see their failings.  I do not have to commit to any
radical agenda. I think the centrists can objectively see as the polarities
would never admit to their own imperfections and an opposing side
would overreact to a competitor’s system and not be critically
unprejudiced, meaning I can keep an open mind and when things
make sense.  I have been known to expand my perspective.

Let us start with Lecture One, Jan. 7, 1976 to see what exactly Foucault
was saying.  I was able to decipher he was concerned with prisons,
psychiatry, and infantile sexuality! And totalitarianism.

He uses the word power 59 times with efficacy five times which also
means power so 64 times he refers to the idea power. 
He used the word knowledge 49 times and genealogy 22 times.  It is
easily seen he was most interested in power, then knowledge then the
history or genealogy of knowledges that gave them power.

This is just a superficial reading because I noticed the superfluousity of
repeated terms that obviously have a meaning of its own.  Repetition is
used for a psychological reason.  More of what I see in my next post as
I need to stop for now.  My mining ability with his writing leaves much
to be desired.

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By Anarcissie, July 15, 2010 at 5:22 pm Link to this comment

ThomasG—Just assume I’m not very bright, and take things slowly.

If I haven’t understood your notions of capital and revenue stream, a good remedy might be to give several concrete examples of each, especially if you could connect the instances of capital with instances of the related revenue stream.

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By Foucauldian, July 15, 2010 at 3:09 pm Link to this comment

It surely looks as though Thomas G finds the only receptive audience in Martha A, and vice versa.  It’s a point-counterpoint type of dialogue, where only the initiated ones can hope to catch a glimpse of understanding.  Ultimately, the esoteric “theory” that is being espoused time and again comes down to a simple tautology: a resource is a resource is a resource.  Nothing beyond has been communicated with any clarity and distinctiveness to merit further consideration, and that in spite of the numerous postings, each just as simplistic as the previous one. 

Shenon, forgive me if I stepped over the line.  I had no right to assume the tone I had.  I was hoping we could discuss aspects of postmodernism, the “Two Lectures” in particular.  I was hoping you would find them sufficiently engaging to merit further discussion.  For your information, I don’t extend such an invitation just to anybody.  You are a formidable thinker, and I was hoping we could share insights.  Hence my anxiety and the tone of my last post, for which I apologize.

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By ThomasG, July 15, 2010 at 1:30 pm Link to this comment

From your July 15, 2010, 12:43pm post, Anarcissie, you apparantly have not understood much of what I have said about “social capital and socialized capitalism”; either that, or you are intentionally trying to mischaracterize what I have said in an attempt to frame what I have said about “social capital and socialized capitalism” to be something other than what I have proposed, namely Soviet Style Time Warp Planned Economy use of capital.

For the time being, I will take the approach that your lack of understanding is ingenuous and make further effort to explain that in a capitalist economy, capital, whether private capital or social capital, can and should be used the same way in the economy of the United States as the U.S. Economy presently exists.

In your 12:43pm post, you make assertions that misrepresent what I have proposed with regard to “social capital and socialized capitalism”.  On the assumption that you are not intentionally mischaracterizing what I say, I will continue for the time to explain in the hope that you are NOT just one more hack trying to lead the American Populace against their best interest for your own best interest, and the best interest of others which provide incentive to you for doing so.

With regard to capital we must NOT be like fools that would argue that since they have not ever used a knife for anything other than cutting butter in the past, that in the absence of proof that a knife can be used for anything other than cutting butter; then a knife can only be used for cutting butter;——this is the argument made by conservatism.  As we all know, however, a knife can be used innovatively for purposes other than cutting butter, and conversely, as we also should know, capital can be used innovatively for purposes other than providing a private revenue stream.  Capital can provide a “social revenue stream” in the form of “social capital” and in the form of cultural capital, as the Middle Class well know. 

Cultural capital can provide both an individual revenue stream and a class and cultural revenue stream that maintains a standard of class and cultural equality of the Middle Class with the American Aristocracy, by way of competition between “moneyed capital” and “cultural capital”.

Bankers manage and allocate capital and bankers can and will manage and allocate capital irrespective of whether or not the capital is “private capital” or “social capital”.

Also, business managers can and will manage business, industry, and commerce irrespective of whether or not the capital that enables the business, industry, and commerce is “private capital” or “social capital”.

Social capital as well as private capital can be used to enable the largest corporation, as well as the smallest single proprietorship, and will provide benefit to management and employees without enabling Corporate Welfare for Private Enterprise, as has been and continues to be the case from the advent of privatized capitalism in Britain to the present time; the most recent example being the Corporate Welfare Bailout as a result of the September 18, 2008 Collapse of the U.S. Economy.

The Middle Class found a way to use “cultural capital” to compete with “moneyed capital”, and both the American Populace and the Middle Class can benefit from implementing and institutionalizing ways for “social capital” to compete with “moneyed capital”.

When “privatized capitalism” was originated in Britain, the “social capital of the populace” was expropriated by the government and placed into the hands of private interests to be used as “private capital” for “private interests”.  What I am saying is that “social capital” does not have to be forcefully expropriated from the populace and placed into ownership of private interests to be used as capital!!!!!!!

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By ThomasG, July 15, 2010 at 1:21 pm Link to this comment

(This post was inadvertently sent under MarthaA, but is a ThomasG post}

From your July 15, 2010, 12:43pm post, Anrcissie, you apparantly have not understood much of what I have said about “social capital and socialized capitalism”; either that, or you are intentionally trying to mischaracterize what I have said in an attempt to frame what I have said about “social capital and socialized capitalism” to be something other than what I have proposed, namely Soviet Style Time Warp Planned Economy use of capital.

For the time being, I will take the approach that your lack of understanding is ingenuous and make further effort to explain that in a capitalist economy, capital, whether private capital or social capital, can and should be used the same way in the economy of the United States as the U.S. Economy presently exists.

In your 12:43pm post, you make assertions that misrepresent what I have proposed with regard to “social capital and socialized capitalism”.  On the assumption that you are not intentionally mischaracterizing what I say, I will continue for the time to explain in the hope that you are NOT just one more hack trying to lead the American Populace against their best interest for your own best interest, and the best interest of others which provide incentive to you for doing so.

With regard to capital we must NOT be like fools that would argue that since they have not ever used a knife for anything other than cutting butter in the past, that in the absence of proof that a knife can be used for anything other than cutting butter; then a knife can only be used for cutting butter;——this is the argument made by conservatism.  As we all know, however, a knife can be used innovatively for purposes other than cutting butter, and conversely, as we also should know, capital can be used innovatively for purposes other than providing a private revenue stream.  Capital can provide a “social revenue stream” in the form of “social capital” and in the form of cultural capital, as the Middle Class well know. 

Cultural capital can provide both an individual revenue stream and a class and cultural revenue stream that maintains a standard of class and cultural equality of the Middle Class with the American Aristocracy, by way of competition between “moneyed capital” and “cultural capital”.

Bankers manage and allocate capital and bankers can and will manage and allocate capital irrespective of whether or not the capital is “private capital” or “social capital”.

Also, business managers can and will manage business, industry, and commerce irrespective of whether or not the capital that enables the business, industry, and commerce is “private capital” or “social capital”.

Social capital as well as private capital can be used to enable the largest corporation, as well as the smallest single proprietorship, and will provide benefit to management and employees without enabling Corporate Welfare for Private Enterprise, as has been and continues to be the case from the advent of privatized capitalism in Britain to the present time; the most recent example being the Corporate Welfare Bailout as a result of the September 18, 2008 Collapse of the U.S. Economy.

The Middle Class found a way to use “cultural capital” to compete with “moneyed capital”, and both the American Populace and the Middle Class can benefit from implementing and institutionalizing ways for “social capital” to compete with “moneyed capital”.

When “privatized capitalism” was originated in Britain, the “social capital of the populace” was expropriated by the government and placed into the hands of private interests to be used as “private capital” for “private interests”.  What I am saying is that “social capital” does not have to be forcefully expropriated from the populace and placed into ownership of private interests to be used as capital!!!!!!!

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By ThomasG, July 15, 2010 at 1:19 pm Link to this comment

(This post was inadvertently sent under MarthaA, but is a ThomasG post}

From your July 15, 2010, 12:43pm post, Anrcissie, you apparently have not understood much of what I have said about “social capital and socialized capitalism”; either that, or you are intentionally trying to mischaracterize what I have said in an attempt to frame what I have said about “social capital and socialized capitalism” to be something other than what I have proposed, namely Soviet Style Time Warp Planned Economy use of capital.

For the time being, I will take the approach that your lack of understanding is ingenuous and make further effort to explain that in a capitalist economy, capital, whether private capital or social capital, can and should be used the same way in the economy of the United States as the U.S. Economy presently exists.

In your 12:43pm post, you make assertions that misrepresent what I have proposed with regard to “social capital and socialized capitalism”.  On the assumption that you are not intentionally mischaracterizing what I say, I will continue for the time to explain in the hope that you are NOT just one more hack trying to lead the American Populace against their best interest for your own best interest, and the best interest of others which provide incentive to you for doing so.

With regard to capital we must NOT be like fools that would argue that since they have not ever used a knife for anything other than cutting butter in the past, that in the absence of proof that a knife can be used for anything other than cutting butter; then a knife can only be used for cutting butter;——this is the argument made by conservatism.  As we all know, however, a knife can be used innovatively for purposes other than cutting butter, and conversely, as we also should know, capital can be used innovatively for purposes other than providing a private revenue stream.  Capital can provide a “social revenue stream” in the form of “social capital” and in the form of cultural capital, as the Middle Class well know. 

Cultural capital can provide both an individual revenue stream and a class and cultural revenue stream that maintains a standard of class and cultural equality of the Middle Class with the American Aristocracy, by way of competition between “moneyed capital” and “cultural capital”.

Bankers manage and allocate capital and bankers can and will manage and allocate capital irrespective of whether or not the capital is “private capital” or “social capital”.

Also, business managers can and will manage business, industry, and commerce irrespective of whether or not the capital that enables the business, industry, and commerce is “private capital” or “social capital”.

Social capital as well as private capital can be used to enable the largest corporation, as well as the smallest single proprietorship, and will provide benefit to management and employees without enabling Corporate Welfare for Private Enterprise, as has been and continues to be the case from the advent of privatized capitalism in Britain to the present time; the most recent example being the Corporate Welfare Bailout as a result of the September 18, 2008 Collapse of the U.S. Economy.

The Middle Class found a way to use “cultural capital” to compete with “moneyed capital”, and both the American Populace and the Middle Class can benefit from implementing and institutionalizing ways for “social capital” to compete with “moneyed capital”.

When “privatized capitalism” was originated in Britain, the “social capital of the populace” was expropriated by the government and placed into the hands of private interests to be used as “private capital” for “private interests”.  What I am saying is that “social capital” does not have to be forcefully expropriated from the populace and placed into ownership of private interests to be used as capital!!!!!!!

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By MarthaA, July 15, 2010 at 12:50 pm Link to this comment

From your July 15, 2010, 12:43pm post, Anarcissie, you apparently have not understood much of what I have said about “social capital and socialized capitalism”; either that, or you are intentionally trying to mischaracterize what I have said in an attempt to frame what I have said about “social capital and socialized capitalism” to be something other than what I have proposed, namely Soviet Style Time Warp Planned Economy use of capital.

For the time being, I will take the approach that your lack of understanding is ingenuous and make further effort to explain that in a capitalist economy, capital, whether private capital or social capital, can and should be used the same way in the economy of the United States as the U.S. Economy presently exists.

In your 12:43pm post, you make assertions that misrepresent what I have proposed with regard to “social capital and socialized capitalism”.  On the assumption that you are not intentionally mischaracterizing what I say, I will continue for the time to explain in the hope that you are NOT just one more hack trying to lead the American Populace against their best interest for your own best interest, and the best interest of others which provide incentive to you for doing so.

With regard to capital we must NOT be like fools that would argue that since they have not ever used a knife for anything other than cutting butter in the past, that in the absence of proof that a knife can be used for anything other than cutting butter; then a knife can only be used for cutting butter;——this is the argument made by conservatism.  As we all know, however, a knife can be used innovatively for purposes other than cutting butter, and conversely, as we also should know, capital can be used innovatively for purposes other than providing a private revenue stream.  Capital can provide a “social revenue stream” in the form of “social capital” and in the form of cultural capital, as the Middle Class well know. 

Cultural capital can provide both an individual revenue stream and a class and cultural revenue stream that maintains a standard of class and cultural equality of the Middle Class with the American Aristocracy, by way of competition between “moneyed capital” and “cultural capital”.

Bankers manage and allocate capital and bankers can and will manage and allocate capital irrespective of whether or not the capital is “private capital” or “social capital”.

Also, business managers can and will manage business, industry, and commerce irrespective of whether or not the capital that enables the business, industry, and commerce is “private capital” or “social capital”.

Social capital as well as private capital can be used to enable the largest corporation, as well as the smallest single proprietorship, and will provide benefit to management and employees without enabling Corporate Welfare for Private Enterprise, as has been and continues to be the case from the advent of privatized capitalism in Britain to the present time; the most recent example being the Corporate Welfare Bailout as a result of the September 18, 2008 Collapse of the U.S. Economy.

The Middle Class found a way to use “cultural capital” to compete with “moneyed capital”, and both the American Populace and the Middle Class can benefit from implementing and institutionalizing ways for “social capital” to compete with “moneyed capital”.

When “privatized capitalism” was originated in Britain, the “social capital of the populace” was expropriated by the government and placed into the hands of private interests to be used as “private capital” for “private interests”.  What I am saying is that “social capital” does not have to be forcefully expropriated from the populace and placed into ownership of private interests to be used as capital!!!!!!!

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By Anarcissie, July 15, 2010 at 8:43 am Link to this comment

Looks like TruthDig lost my last post here.  To summarize my understanding of ThomasG’s proposal:

1.  A large amount of capital will be raised by new taxation, or by reallocating a substantial part of existing government expenditures or property.  (We would want to know what was going to be cut or sold, in that case.)

2.  This capital will be invested in profit-intended businesses which will hopefully later provide revenue for the Federal government.  These businesses are as yet unspecified as far as I know.

3.  We don’t know how this large body of capital will be organized or administered.  (Or maybe I missed something; in any case, I didn’t pick this up from the conversation thus far.)

From what I have read thus far the proposal seems to resemble most closely the “state capitalism” of the Soviet Union.  There are also a number of instances of large government-owned businesses in Europe, Asia and South America.  These enterprises tend to have similar problems, which makes the question of their administration important.

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By ThomasG, July 14, 2010 at 10:37 am Link to this comment

Anarcissie, July 14 at 1:08 pm,

“So you are talking about taxes and printed and borrowed money (the FRB and the Treasury).  You want this money, or at least some of it, to be invested in revenue-producing enterprises.  Have I got that right?” —Anarcissie July 14 1:08 pm

As I have said before all communal assets of the United States held in common for the population as a whole are potential capital.

With regard to the social capital of the United States held in common for the population as a whole, yes, I want social capital to be used in revenue producing enterprises that serve the greater good of the population of the United States as a whole; rather than to continue to be used to recapitalize toxic private capital on a cyclical basis, and continue to be used to enable an infrastructure solely for private enterprise without benefit to the greater good of the population of the United States as a whole.

With regard to your comment about over commitment of the Federal Government’s money, a revenue stream from “social capital” will remedy that problem; one need only look at the benefit being received by privatized capitalism to comprehend the potential benefit that can be derived from the use of social capital and socialized capitalism.

Also, with regard to administration, as I have said before, legislated law and order would be required and a Banking System that utilizes “social capital” would have to be established and institutionalized.

With regard to the administration of social capital through a Banking System, the process would be no different than it would be for private capital and the use of social capital to start up and enable business, industry, and commerce would be no different than the process presently used for private capital to start up and enable business, industry, and commerce based upon “social capital”.

Capital whether it is private or social works the same way and provides a revenue stream.  Social capital can be used in the same manner as private capital once a banking infrastructure is enabled to function upon social capital, as is currently established to enable private capital.

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By Anarcissie, July 14, 2010 at 9:08 am Link to this comment

So you are talking about taxes and printed and borrowed money (the FRB and the Treasury).  You want this money, or at least some of it, to be invested in revenue-producing enterprises.  Have I got that right?

If so, and given that the Federal government’s money is already rather overcommitted, the question naturally arises as to what you’re going to have the government stop spending money on.  Also one would like to know how this fund is to be administered.  (I believe Shenonymous has already asked that question.)  If it’s a serious amount of money the administrative tasks are going to be pretty monumental.

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By ThomasG, July 13, 2010 at 5:09 pm Link to this comment

Anarcissie, July 13 at 5:24 pm,

(This is a ThomasG Post that was inadvertently posted under MarthaA)

Some examples of communal assets are ALL assets possessed by the United States as a nation that are held in common as property of the American People as a whole; i.e., Tax Revenue, the assets of the Treasury, and the Federal Reserve, the infrastructure , and all other assets held in common by the United States as a nation for the American People as a whole.

At the present time these assets are “social capital” and are used in support of private capital, private enterprise, and privatized capitalism.  This is a practice that must end.

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By MarthaA, July 13, 2010 at 4:56 pm Link to this comment

Anarcissie, July 13 at 5:24 pm,

Some examples of communal assets are ALL assets possessed by the United States as a nation that are held in common as property of the American People as a whole; i.e., Tax Revenue, the assets of the Treasury, and the Federal Reserve, the infrastructure , and all other assets held in common by the United States as a nation for the American People as a whole.

At the present time these assets are “social capital” and are used in support of private capital, private enterprise, and privatized capitalism.  This is a practice that must end.

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By Anarcissie, July 13, 2010 at 1:24 pm Link to this comment

ThomasG, July 13 at 12:37 pm:

‘Anarcissie, July 13 at 9:23 am,

You speak of raising capital, and capital is a designation of the use of an asset to provide a revenue stream, hence all communal assets of the United States are potentially capital assets. ...’

I don’t know what you mean by ‘communal assets’.  Maybe you could give some examples.

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By Foucauldian, July 13, 2010 at 8:48 am Link to this comment

Shenon, economic theory is only part of the problem.  The problem is we are dealing with a corrupt economic/political system, and again, given the existing conditions, the so-called theory of “social capitalism” is, as I said, a pie in the sky.  Those who hold most of the world’s wealth and resources are not going to give it up willingly.  Consequently, no economic change of consequence is going to come about without equally radical changes in politics. 

A related point is that no kind of solution, again, given the existing conditions, can be implemented wholesale or on the spot, as it were.  All change is gradual, I you know what I mean.  Reread Eco:  the falling of the Bastille, for example, was but an icing on the cake.  As to the former point, solutions will and do emerge on the local level, in isolated pockets, as it were (unless of course we’re talking a major revolution or upheaval).

What I find most frustrating conversing with you is that we’re getting nowhere.  You have got to commit to a program - however temporarily - and stick with it.  You can’t straddle the fence, now taking this side, at another time the other, and expect to get anywhere.  It’s self-defeating.  Any intellectual commitment means just that - a commitment.  You say postmodernist thought leaves you cold and detached.  Well, perhaps you’re resisting too much.  You’ve got to allow a text, any text, to transform you.  Don’t mount objections from the get-go, simply because what you read contradicts your intuition.  Suspend your judgment and grow with the text.  It’s the only way to go and to grow.  Once you’re done, then you can mount criticism, because you’ll know what you’re objecting to, not before. 

Again, I’m not bashing you, only suggesting the way to a meaningful dialogue.  I don’t care for exchanging wits with you, or worldviews.  That’s a sign of stagnation.  So I trust you take it with the right kind of spirit.  I am impressed with your education, erudition, and common sense.  So let’s take it beyond the pale and get into cases.  I do believe the postmodern thought has a lot to offer, and all along, I’m trying to convince you of that.  I suggested Bourdieu’s videos.  Did you look into that.  The next person on your reading list must be Jean-Francoise Lyotard, in particular, The Post-Modern Condition:  Report on Knowledge.  It’s a requisite read.  I can transmit it to you via scan, just say so.  But let’s get on with the program - yes, it’s my program, sorry to say, but it’s still, I maintain, the cutting edge of modern and up-to-date social thought.

Shall we?

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By ThomasG, July 13, 2010 at 8:37 am Link to this comment

Anarcissie, July 13 at 9:23 am,

You speak of raising capital, and capital is a designation of the use of an asset to provide a revenue stream, hence all communal assets of the United States are potentially capital assets. 

With regard to communal assets of the United States being used as capital, as I have said before, legislated law and order would have to be put in place to designate the process, and that process, as I conceive of it and advocate it, is that social capital be used in the same manner as private capital and,  although I will not go so far as to say that it is God’s Will that the U.S. Government should not interfere with “socialized capitalism”; I do believe that the U.S. Government should limit itself to regulation of both socialized capital and socialized capitalism, as well as as privatized capitalism, and that both privatized capitalism and socialized capitalism should compete for survival of the fittest, and if history is any guide with regard to the cyclical outcome, privatized capitalism will not be able to survive over the long term without being recapitalized with “social capital” and thus will FAIL one last and final time and be allowed to remain dead.

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By ThomasG, July 13, 2010 at 7:59 am Link to this comment

Shenonymous, July 13 at 5:16 am,

Three Different Types of Capital

(Page 1 of 2)

Knowledge is power, because education and knowledge can be used as cultural capital and when knowledge is used as cultural capital, knowledge produces a revenue stream the same as moneyed capital.

The Middle Class became the Middle Class because the people who became the Middle Class realized that education and knowledge could
be used as cultural capital, the same as moneyed capital, and the Middle Class only remains the Middle Class so long as the Middle Class maintains the generational maintenance on its cultural capital, thus the “Fear of Falling” is explained by Barbara Ehrenreich and the reality of that fear whined about by Midge Decter as a result of the lost generation of “peace and love” that occurred in the 1960’s.

Once understanding of moneyed capital and cultural capital, that serves respectively the interests of the American Nobility and the American Middle Class is achieved, it is necessary to understand and apply “social capital” that serves the communal interests of all of those other people, class and culturally speaking, that constitute the American Populace, the 70% Majority Common Population of the United States, in order to bring all of the population of the United States into the benefit of capital, so that all become greater and lesser capitalists that benefit from capitalism by way of “social capital and socialized capitalism”.

The American Nobility knows how to apply moneyed capital for their own benefit, and do so.  The American Middle Class know how to apply cultural capital for their own benefit, and do so.

It is disingenuous foolishness for the American Nobility and the American Middle Class to pretend that together they do not understand what Social Capital is and how Social Capital can be applied for the benefit of the American Populace, that constitute a 70% Majority Common Population of the United States as a class and culture, so that the United States can become a nation of greater and lesser capitalists benefiting from “social capitalism”, rather than continue with a few privatized capitalist parasites at the top of the economic pyramid benefiting exclusively from private capital.

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By ThomasG, July 13, 2010 at 7:57 am Link to this comment

Shenonymous, July 13 at 5:16 am,

Three Different Types of Capital

(Page 2 of 2)

The intentional use of false complexity and misrepresentation to frame false arguments and sell false propositions and conclusions to foolish people is a time tested con game used in criminal enterprise; this process is the basic format used by Right-Wingers that resulted from Nixon’s failed presidency and has extended from the time of Goldwater through Reagan, Bush I, Bush II, and continues to be used by Glenn Beck and his ilk in the Conservative Right-Wing EXTREMIST Republican Media Echo Chamber at the present time;——— This type of behavior by Conservative Right-Wing Republican EXTREMISTS from the time of Nixon to the present is responsible for deindustrializaiton of the U.S. Economy for short term profit, mercantilization, and financialization of the U.S. Economy that resulted in the September 18, 2008 Collapse of the U.S. Economy, and resultant Corporate Welfare that recapitalized private capital with social capital of the populace without benefit to the populace, so that the populace could be forced to continue to provide a revenue stream of social capital in support of privatized capitalism in the absence of social benefit.

It is time for a change, Shenonymous, from the pretense that capital can only be used for the benefit of the American Nobility and the American Middle Class.

Capital has no special interest in the American Nobility and the American Middle Class and if capital can be used as “moneyed capital” for the American Nobility and as “cultural capital” for the American Middle Class, capital can also be used as “social capital” for the American Populace.

You know as well as I do, Shenonymous, that both the American Nobility and the American Middle Class know well enough how to apply “moneyed capital” and “cultural capital” in their own best interest for their own benefit, and do so to maintain their economic advantage, cultural advantage, and their class and cultural life styles; therefore, it would be foolish for the American Populace to accept that neither the American Aristocracy nor the American Middle Class can understand how assets of communal wealth can be applied to create a revenue stream in the best interest of the American Populace, for the benefit of the American Populace to serve the best interests of the American Populace as moneyed capital and cultural capital serve the best interests of the American Nobility and the American Middle Class. 

I agree with the last paragraph, specifically, of your post; i.e., the evolution becomes the revolution and the revolution is the evolution from privatized capitalism to socialized capitalism.

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By Shenonymous, July 13, 2010 at 7:38 am Link to this comment

Plainly important, but more than that, Anarcissie, also crucial
ThomasG needs to say what the leadership structure will be, because
a hierarchy will form as it naturally would; if there are any contenders
looking like they understand the political fusion, which could be
explosive if it doesn’t work, how they will be selected; how the
administration will be paid for.  No loose strings that could upend his
idea.

The voting public in this country is almost split between conservatives
and liberals so to appeal and apply to most of the populace; it will have
to be shown that whatever it is benefits all people, or most of them at
any rate.  He does not have to be completely comprehensive, which is
too heavy a burden to expect of one person, although thinkers in the
past have given a system in the round so to speak, i.e., Hobbes, Mill
(James and John Stuart), Senior, Malthus, Ricardo, Smith, etc., Walras
(who en passant looks very interesting), Pareto, Veblen, Schumpeter,
just to name drop, but to attract other stellar thinkers, ThomasG has to
give enough of the architecture of his project to get whoever does have
the acumen to think about such a scheme and get their gray cells
working on the problems.  That way energy begets energy. 

Again, my hyperbole, Foucauldian: It takes effort to fathom my arcane
but droll humor.  I know you were “only making an observation.”  The
more important point I was making is that I am “feeling” my way
through most economic theory since as I said I am not schooled in it.  I
admit, though, I am getting an education now! Nevertheless, if you
don’t speak of a social contract “with a straight face” then be brave like
ThomasG and give a placeholder, a locum as it were.

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By Foucauldian, July 13, 2010 at 6:23 am Link to this comment

I don’t believe I was bashing you, Shenon, only making
an observation.  Sorry you’re taking it that way.

And no, I’m not conflicted about “social contract.”  I
never spoke of it with a straight face.

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By Anarcissie, July 13, 2010 at 5:23 am Link to this comment

ThomasG—We need to know whether the government is going to raise the social-capital money through taxes or just print it.  Or conceivably simply seize the productive assets, although then they could bypass the money step.  And secondly, how the process of deciding how to allocate the capital would be performed.  This history of state businesses may be instructive in regard to some of the problems which seem to arise with this model.

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By Shenonymous, July 13, 2010 at 1:16 am Link to this comment

Definitely floundering when it comes to economics, as I’ve mentioned
a few times, to see the forces at work are fairly new to my frames of
mind not really ever having studied how the properties of this or that
economic perspective affects populations. I have not studied the
history of economics. I don’t have solid insight into repercussions of
basing governments on a particular practice except what I’ve read
about the giving way by the large socialist countries like Russia, China,
Cuba, to a capitalist based economic system.  I see that the people of
those countries have not been better off because of former strategies.
They have had a hundred years to experiment.  Americans by
comparison are better off and the desire to emulate America and the
American way of life is what the rest of the world pretty much shows.

I know I vacillate a times between the poles of opposing arguments
undoubtedly because I do not reside committed to any entrenched way.
I have admitted to being centrist, which for anyone totally committed to
one side or another cannot really understand.  How dare anyone not be
committed to a particular view! You have criticized as much.  I just want
a life for people to work, which of course includes myself, so that we
may have a decent life.  What that means, a decent life, is a whole
range of things. It is out of frustration and ignorance that at times my
insights will be expressed one way and at another show almost utter
futility given the power structures that are in place that would take
inordinate strength to overcome meaning death of individuals.  Too
many have died throughout history for freedom from tyranny and that
tyranny has come in many forms, and tyranny is tolerated in this world
today even with all the theories that can be collected in yards and yards
of paper.  For instance the consummate political evil that exists in the
Sudan or Darfur and the like.  I do not believe or trust the capitalist or
socialist intelligentsia imposing what they think will work as they have
shown consistently to be wrong. I realize that you and Anarcissie and
others are seeking ways to solve the problems that are endemic to the
present human condition. It is enormously intricate. I think ThomasG is
closest to fusing the best of both forms of economic management and
governance.  I say ‘think’ because I cannot see the complications
involved.

Now you bring up the idea of a new social contract although you too
oscillate between joking and being serious. You seem to suffer from a
frustration as well!  It is obvious something new has to replace what we
have today.  The conflict is how to reconcile the individual with the
society.  It’s been waxed forever whether there are natural rights or
having responsibility for our fellow human beings. It is the age-old
problem that can be highlighted by reading Kant and Hume and
Hobbes and Paine and Marx and Rawls and ad infinitum.  But we do
have to reconcile the space that exists in between the individual and the
society, where the thorny problems lie.  At bottom, it is the essential
difference between capitalism and socialism that speaks to the good for
the individual or for the society.

ThomasG offers a way. The merits or demerits of his proposal are
unknown. It appears to have traction. But it is still in the realm of theory
and needs fleshed out more for those of us who do not have a keen
intuition of how economic systems work, yes theoretically, since that is
the only theater we have to work with, but deep implications would be
able to be argued. The populace will have to be educated. That is a long
process.  I do not believe in upheavals where many bodies are hurt.  It
has to be an evolution not a revolution.  For in time evolution becomes
in retrospect, revolution.  We are learning, so please try not to bash me
in my bifurcated head, at least not yet.

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By ThomasG, July 12, 2010 at 9:06 pm Link to this comment

Anarcissie, July 12 at 12:19 pm,

Your post has demonstrated an understanding of “cultural capital”—education that can be used to provide a revenue stream.

Money can be used as “moneyed capital” to provide a revenue stream and both money and moneyed capital can be used to acquire capital assets to provide a revenue stream that are the means of production, distribution, and commerce, all of which provide a revenue stream.

The money that is at the disposal of the U.S. Government, the communal wealth of the nation, can be used as capital to provide a revenue stream that is beyond contestation by private capital, if there is mass demand by the population that demands the use of social capital and social capitalism to provide a revenue stream for social benefit as a means of competition with privatized capitalism, irregardless of Foucauldian’s thoughts to the contrary.

There is no reason that the communal wealth of the nation has to be used solely for consumption, rather than as capital that provides a revenue stream; to do so would channel the wealth of capitalism into the communal benefit of the nation as a whole, rather than private interests, and provide competition for privatized capitalism that privatized capitalism has always contended is essential to the success of capitalism.

Think for a moment what the nature of a social revenue stream from social capital and Socialized Capitalism would do to reduce taxes; to the degree that Socialized Capitalism took market share from privatized capitalism, the benefit of capitalism would enhance communal benefit, rather than private benefit.

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By ThomasG, July 12, 2010 at 8:40 pm Link to this comment

Shenonymous, July 12 at 4:33 am, Shenonymous, July 1 at 12:50 pm, Shenonymous, July 1 at 5:46 pm,

Social Capitalism is based upon social capital.  As you already know capital is an asset that provides a revenue stream.

The recent use of communal resources by the TARP and the Federal Reserve to recapitalize private capital, so that private capital could continue to provide a revenue stream for private benefit is a good example of how social capital can be used interchangeably with private capital; however, in this instance social capital was not used to produce a social revenue stream, but to re-capitalize a private revenue stream.

Socialized Capitalism as I use the term, is the use of social capital to generate a social revenue stream, rather than a private revenue stream.

Every time privatized capitalism FAILS and private capital’s revenue stream is interrupted, social capital is used to re-capitalize private capital, so that private capital can once more be re-animated and provide a revenue stream for private capital.

Capital, whether it is private or social, is an asset that provides a revenue stream, and at present, social capital is only being used in the U.S. Economy to re-capitalize private capital.

What I advocate is that social capital be used in the same way as private capital in the U.S. Economy, to provide a social revenue stream, rather than a private revenue stream. 

I confess that I am having trouble taking seriously the claims of people on this Truthdig Forum that it is not well understood how social capital would work, because I am not proposing that social capital be used any differently than private capital, only that there should be a competition between social capital and private capital, and that social capital NEVER AGAIN be used to re-animate the dead corpse of privatized capitalism.

It would take legislation or a constitutional amendment perhaps to institutionalize the use of social capital, but short of that, social capital, as I have envisioned it would be used in the same way as private capital, as a means of production, distribution, and commerce that provides a social revenue stream, rather than a private revenue stream.

If you want to understand how Socialized Capitalism works, study Privatized Capitalism, both will work in the same way, the only difference being the nature of the capital, social capital, and the nature of the revenue stream, a social revenue stream, rather than a private revenue stream.

I am NOT INTERESTED in government ownership of the means of production, distribution, and commerce being understood as Socialized Capitalism, because this is not what I envision Socialized Capitalism to be.

I envision Socialized Capitalism as the communal resources of the nation being used as capital to empower hundreds of millions of small investors that can vote their interests with their shareholder stock apart from the government, so that the populace, as a whole, has investor status in the means of production, distribution, and commerce of the U.S. Economy; this too would, no doubt, require legislation to institutionalize.

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By Foucauldian, July 12, 2010 at 6:22 pm Link to this comment

Shenon, you seem to gravitate from no concern at all, conveying the attitude that everything’s honky dory, to being an alarmist.  Make up your mind and stick with it, at least for the duration.  I know you’re not being disingenuous.  Still, it’s kind of frustrating having to deal with two Shenons, especially since one is a challenge enough.  Anyways, it’s a challenging comment, and I’ll try to respond, but don’t expect ready-made solutions.  We’re all groping.

You’re right in that all politics, at bottom, is local, and if we are to expect any meaningful changes, it has got to start there.  The point being, if we can’t clean the house at the local community level, there is a fat chance we can do it nationally.  So that’s my first reservation, your sense of optimism that we the voters have a meaningful say during election times. 

The problem is, politics and money interests are intertwined to the point of being inseparable.  And in spite of our litany of complaints about the lobbyists and corporate influence, the corruption is even more prevalent locally.  Just think.  The councilpersons are typically “respectable members of the community,” well-connected, usually members of the local Chambers of Commerce; and of course they all run on the platform of economic betterment, which, conventional wisdom says, can only come about by catering to business interests.  There is an iota of truth to this, which is why everyone’s buying it, but that’s how corruption starts at the local level and the mold is set.  Once they move to Washington, D.C., it’s just a continuation of the pattern.  So the first thing is, we’ve got to break this stronghold and inject new and progressive ideas as to what can make local communities thrive - aside from the same old refrain which is limited to business development.

When it comes to national, wide-reaching projects, such as energy, food production, space exploration, the financial sector, troll (a colleague BTW from the BC community thread) was right:  Thomas’s theory is a pie in the sky given the concentration of wealth and capital in the few hands.  Anarcisse is right in that the wider, more enlightening way of looking at “capital” is to consider it an array of resources - to include the population’s health, educational level, skills, etcetera.  But we all know that money talks and bullshit walks, and this has been the story.  The well-to-do are not going to voluntarily give up their share of the wealth and influence for idealistic reasons - for the “common/public good,” to re-invoke the mantra of old, which is why the possibility of converting the economy from private, corporate interests to one in which “public capital” would play a major role is next to nil.  It ain’t going to happen under the existing conditions unless their means be taken away from them, either by nationalization of the major industries or any other kind of appropriation.  Which is why I spoke of reverting to the state-of-nature theory and the new “social contract” as a possible “way out.”  But we both know, they form a myth.

Ultimately, it doesn’t really matter how we envisage the future.  It’s going to happen regardless, and independent of our conceptions.  Just as capitalism has evolved over time from feudal relations - not through anyone’s design, mind you:  Adam Smith, by your own admission, only described the new state affairs; he didn’t invent them! - so will the new forms of production and the requisite social relations.  I have no fear.  Besides, I am armed with patience.

As to the historical forces at work which will force our hand - that’s another subject entirely and best left for another time.  Yet, it is as a result of these forces, I’m confident, that a makeover system will come in place in due time.

I trust I’ve done justice to your query.  At present, I can think of nothing else to say.

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By Anarcissie, July 12, 2010 at 8:19 am Link to this comment

troll, July 11 at 11:37 pm:

‘If 20% of the population controls in the neighborhood of 93% of the financial wealth in the US with most of that controlled by the top 10%, where is the financing for Thomas’ plan going to come from without some form of direct taking?’

I haven’t really figured out what ThomasG means, but just guessing, I’d say that he/she/it does not equate financial wealth with ‘capital’. 

If capital means ‘something you use (tools, instruments) to get something you want (wealth, goods)’ then the people in general do possess a lot of ‘capital’ which they could apply to other uses than the enrichment of financiers, bureaucrats, politicians and other parasites.  For example, millions and millions of people possess valuable skills which they learned on the job, in school, or through other experiences which in a sense are ‘capital’.

This usage very different, however, from the usual meaning of capital, which is stuff like money, fungible commodities, or industrial machine tools.  If the people want to get hold of that kind of capital, they’re going to have to sneak up on it.

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By Anarcissie, July 12, 2010 at 8:06 am Link to this comment

Shenonymous, July 12 at 10:25 am:
<i>
‘... I keep reading the whine about needing direct democracy but only whines, never any workable plans. ...’
<i>

There are lots of possibly workable plans.  What is lacking is any widespread desire to do anything besides whine and wait for the lords and masters to toss down a few more table scraps.  No plan is going to have any effect unless people are willing to enact it.

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By Shenonymous, July 12, 2010 at 6:25 am Link to this comment

Yeahbutt, Roger, (and facetiousness is always on the table, which is
a lot better than sarcasm) in lieu of a new social contract, how would
you implement a plan, and what would that plan include?  Isn’t that
what we are about here?  How to fix the problem?  If not, then a
lot of hot air is being spent tapping computer keyboards on
swaggering intellectualism.

I keep reading the whine about needing direct democracy but only
whines, never any workable plans.  Whine also equals pet theories. 
What I think is needed is Applied Theory.  Oh groan is me, that was
some sarcasm.  As I listened to the editorial news programs this
morning the National Debt Commission gives a dismal report.  More
whining about spending. Tighten up the belt, but they (those more
concerned about the pocketbook of the rich) want to tighten the belt
by cutting programs that help the people rather than put the thumb
screws to those who have ravaged this country financially.  These bozos
are in seats of political power and they cannot be dislodged unless a
grass roots effort is set on fire. It is only emotion that moves action,
the passions have to be excited in the masses to effect change.  The
efficacy of the public is through their vote.  Offering the public more
control at the local level through ballot initiatives, whenever they are
needed, seems to be the only way to shock the hell out of these self-
agendized politicians.  There seems to be a politician malaise that once
elected the disease takes over and insanity ensues to forget the public
that put them in office.  A mechanism of power exercised by the
people
to remove politicians who slip into that disease through
popular vote, popular democracy, needs to be crafted.

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By Foucauldian, July 12, 2010 at 3:53 am Link to this comment

Shenon, I was being facetious.

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By Shenonymous, July 12, 2010 at 12:35 am Link to this comment

“and write the social contract anew!”  And what proportion of
the society will be consulted? Or will it be imposed?  To what degree
would there be citizen participation?  How would political equality be
ensured?

The critical eye that I look at the world with is squinted and I look at
all theories that way.  Too often theories are taken dogmatically and
invariably they are shown to have flaws, sometimes fatally.

If there are mechanisms of power (and several different sets have been
proposed by different theorists), then they each must be seen precisely
for what they are, how they operate not only at the conceptual and
theoretical level but how they actually are manifest to control the polity. 
But the polity is not homogenous throughout the world.  So each society
would have to be dealt with separately to ferret out the dynamics at
play.  It is reasonable also to assume that those who wield the
mechanisms of power are not really ever held accountable because
where power is exercised, in whatever form, none or very few in the
polity understands or actually knows what is being done. 

The reality is that it is not power is knowledge, but knowledge is power. 
If the people knew what was happening, really understood exactly who
wields the power, what species of power it is, civic consciousness would
more than likely plain and simple stop it.  A key to consequential
democracy is accountability. What that means must be prescribed.  But
do we start with the integrity of leaders or do we start with having a say
in what we think is in our own best interest?  ‘We’ and ‘our’ meaning
the voting public.

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By Shenonymous, July 12, 2010 at 12:33 am Link to this comment

Nothing should be presumed, nor assumed.  What are the signs that
democracy is at work?  Elections that select leaders and in some
places referendums for programs the public decides what they will
or will not have.  California has such a system.  When they voted
30 years ago for Proposition 13, the citizens’ initiative that limited
the property tax rate to 1% of the assessed value of a home at the
time of purchase and holds annual tax increases to no more than
2% until the property is sold the result was that property owners
benefited from an immediate reduction in their tax bills and from
the promise of long?term stability in their property tax increases.

It resulted in a drastic reduction in the amount of local property tax
revenue available for cities, counties, and schools.  Putting power into
the hands of the people when they cannot foresee consequences can do
real damage, however.  Nevertheless, the initiative system resulted in an
acute shift of power from the legislature to the voters. State ballots have
grown longer and more complicated since Proposition 13 passed. One
recent report says that in the last 10 years, a record number of 95
state propositions have already appeared on the ballot. In recent PPIC
Statewide Surveys, 74% of likely voters say it is ?a good thing? that
voters can make laws and change public policy by passing initiatives,
60% say that the public policy decisions made by the voters through the
initiative process are probably better than those made by the governor
and legislature, and 71% are satisfied with the way the initiative process
is currently working in California.  Then in 2005, their Prop 77,
stripped lawmakers of the ability to draw political voting districts, which
prevented them from constantly reshaping the state government.  This
is truly volya naroda (the power of the people).

This is direct democracy at the local level and for the most part it has
worked in California.  I think it is a good model.  Too bad they can’t
elect better state politicians since their legislature is dysfunctional. 
Most legislatures are.  I’d like to hear about one that isn’t.

Now regarding the economic structure and how to get the power into
the hands of the people. Propositions can be fashioned to control the
economic domain as well.  Voter control of doing business within the
borders of states can do a real makeover.

Now there are problems of course.  Nothing comes without problems. 
Partisan manipulation would still be a nemesis.  Also voter turnout
would need to be encouraged for the voice of the people to be heard. 
There still will be the irrational behaviors in politics: scheming,
manipulation, Iying, and struggle, conflict from competitive resistance
among identifiable groups or classes, even violence because it will be
about…money. 

I just wonder how the California solution with direct democracy would
fit in with ThomasG’s socialized capitalism?

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By Foucauldian, July 11, 2010 at 7:58 pm Link to this comment

“If 20% of the population controls in the neighborhood of 93% of the financial wealth in the US with most of that controlled by the top 10%, where is the financing for Thomas’ plan going to come from without some form of direct taking?”

Well put.  Of course, we might start a brand new society, from scratch as it were, as a purely intellectual exercise. 

Come to think of it, let’s go back to the state-of-nature condition and write the social contract anew!

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By Foucauldian, July 11, 2010 at 7:52 pm Link to this comment

Well, I overreacted then, Shenon.  From what little you’ve read, you should see that I view my project as an open-ended one.  And I’ll keep that perspective all throughout.

I usually arrive at positions in the course of writing, which is to say, in the course of struggle with my own thought - so don’t think I’m not groping.  As I said, I myself am trying to make sense of Foucault, the Critical Theory and Post-Marxism in order to see to what use it can be put.

Which isn’t to say you have no point in that postmodernists need a good PR person - to dilute the message to the masses.  Is it possible, however, if the mechanisms of power, let’s presume it for a moment, are insidious?  Bourdieu does a decent job, I suppose (I could link you up to seven excellent videos) but even so, it does presuppose a level of intellectual sophistication, so I don’t really know what the answer is. 

You’re bringing up Wittgenstein as as example.  Well, how wide do you suppose was/is his audience?  Yet, one could point to John Austin, for example, as a way of popularizing quasi-Wittgensteinian ideas.  So it can be done, it just takes a different kind of mind. 

Again, you might want to look at Bourdieu.  In fact, much of the feminism writings is postmodernists in character if not origin.  Virginia Woolf was definitely a precursor; and we know of Simone de Beauvoir.  So perhaps the trick is to take the postmodernist method and apply it to specific cases, or specific audiences as the case may be - women, gays, proletariat, etc. 

Come to think of it, much of the postmodernist literature is precisely so focused, and with decent results, one should hope.  If I come across a particular article or piece which would seem to meet your objections, I’ll let you know. 

As for me, I’m still at the theoretical stages, trying to come to terms with the most general concepts and ideas, so don’t take your lead from me.

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By troll, July 11, 2010 at 7:37 pm Link to this comment

If 20% of the population controls in the neighborhood of 93% of the financial wealth in the US with most of that controlled by the top 10%, where is the financing for Thomas’ plan going to come from without some form of direct taking?

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By Shenonymous, July 11, 2010 at 7:23 pm Link to this comment

When I said that the poststructuralists made me drowsy, I actually
said it with tongue in cheek, Roger.  I warned once about my
hyperbolic nature. I did manage to get through both Foucault
Lectures and a few other writings and a few other such thinkers’
works as well.  Baudrillard and Barthes somewhat and looked over
Lyotard. I am familiar with Derrida and of course Heidegger (I am
acquainted with one of his translators).  I read the preface and the
first chapter of Eco’s Travels in Hyperreality that is posted online
and I did order it and thoroughly enjoyed what I read.  I understand
what Baudrillard was getting at and Eco.  I have some thoughts on these
thinkers but I don’t have the time at the moment to order them
properly but perhaps sometime this week. 

The notes were missing from your essay and I wondered if you had
them 1 through 8.  I think you included 9 onward but it isn’t clear
whether it was one note or several. 

I suppose it is a mental challenge to enter into the esoteric world of the
postmodernist.  I don’t find Wittgenstein’s language as occult as the
others (I have a few of his works), but I think that is because he was
steeped in referential structures of language and thought and the
ineffables and he had a cause célèbre to make his verbalized meaning
clear ala his “ordinary” language. I happen to agree with much of what
he said. Syllogistically speaking, if the postmoderninsts/
poststructuralists are/were intent on changing the world, then their
vehicle of change, words and the sense they make when put together,
need to be accessible to people on a large scale.  It is one thing to strut
one’s intellectual prowess for colleagues, it kind of makes it like an
elitist secret club with a special handshake and…uh, passwords, to get
in, and another thing to genuinely want to make the effort to change
the world.  Foucault seems to have wanted to change the world but also
seems he fell into his own trap of talking in the realm above the heads
of those he said needed to be addressed, the ordinary individual.  A
stylized kind of self-contradiction is revealed in reading the Two
Lectures.  I really don’t want to see you spend time ‘defending’ that
lofty group either.  Your own writing is excellent and while I may not
fully agree with the perspective, I was receptive to the ideas that were
well presented.  Some of my favorite authors are considered
postmodernists, Borges, Beckett, Vonnegut, Rauschenberg in art,
Cunningham in dance, and in music Philip Glass, and other minimalists
hold a high place in my collection.  So while I do not have much
affection for the postmodern poets who I find mostly ranters and
ravers, I particularly find the movement in several of the other arts very
intellectually stimulating.  I think Nietzsche overreacted to modernism
but he does seem to be the touchstone with which to be reconciled for
much philosophical thinking after the end of the 19th c.

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By Foucauldian, July 11, 2010 at 6:56 pm Link to this comment

What you’re saying, of course, is that these “modifications” represent the corruption of what is originally a sound idea.  Yes, I agree.  I also like your use of “anarchistic” in this context.

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By Anarcissie, July 11, 2010 at 6:37 pm Link to this comment

Foucauldian, July 11 at 1:57 pm

‘Ultimately, the idea of market is a democratic idea.  We can think of markets as loci for the meeting of minds - and needs.’

I would say anarchic, rather than democratic, in that ideally no leaders or enforcers need to be present, and whole ensemble need not be involved in particular transactions.

This is not the way real-live markets work, of course, because of the possibilities of violence, fraud, misunderstanding, and other pathologies.  But these are modifications of the essential idea.

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By Foucauldian, July 11, 2010 at 5:23 pm Link to this comment

So postmodernism puts you to sleep, Shenon?  Just noticed it buried in the middle of your comment.  Well, I thought it challenging enough and capable of expanding my intellectual arsenal, so I guess I stumbled through it, and I don’t regret it one bit.  Sorry this wasn’t your experience.

Anyway, I don’t want to be in the position of having to defend Foucault and others; as you know, I’m trying to be constructive about my project, accommodating to the extent possible many divergent points of view; but to defend the merit of their work or what I think is a necessity to stumble through it is something I’m not prepared to do.  It would be emotionally draining, and I’m certain you understand.  The way I see it, one either recognizes the value or one does not.  I was under impression you might come to appreciate a novel point of view and mode of analysis (and that’s in spite of the cumbersome language) and take it from there; I may have been wrong.

Ultimately, perhaps, there may be a difference with respect to values.  Intellectual positions can be resolved given a substantial value-agreement among the disputants; but there is no chance of their being resolved in the absence of some such agreement.  Indeed, perhaps you don’t see the world with a kind of critical eye I take for granted, and that might well account for our not seeing eye to eye on these things.  (See, for example, an excerpt from my novel as per the following http://blogcritics.org/politics/article/the-disappearing-america/#comments.)

Anyway, don’t feel like a lone ranger.  Lots of intellectuals, like Chomsky, for example, or Robert Reich, find postmodernist thought incomprehensible; and so do many traditional Marxists, for different reasons, naturally.  I find their kind of analysis rather superficial and barely scratching the surface, but that’s me.  Still, you should find yourself in good company.

Apropos your earlier complaint about inaccessible language, again, I don’t want to be in the position of having to defend others here.  Suffice it to say that yes, Foucault et al spoke to the intellectuals; just like Marx in Das Kapital (though not in the Communist Manifesto) spoke to the intellectuals; and just like Wittgenstein in Philosophical Investigations spoke to the intellectuals.  None of this, however, detracts from the fact that once a certain level of understanding is reached, it can be put to use in practical, commonsensical ways.  Enough apologies on my part.

BTW, I still owe you a response to your very thoughtful examination of my rough draft.  Just to let you know I didn’t forget.

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By Leefeller, July 11, 2010 at 11:30 am Link to this comment

A friend of mine who has been laid off for sometime
now, was visiting the local unemployment office when
they asked him how his job hunting was going?

It seems all the jobs available were part time
positions and my friend wanted a full time job
because the commute to town was some distance and
fuel alone would take 2 to 3 hours wages to pay for
it self since most jobs offered minimum wage all the
way up to 9 dollars per hour.

The unemployment counselor said; “You know, if you
were an accountant, I could get you a full time job
right now!

My friend replied, “if I was an account, I would
shoot myself right now!”

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By ThomasG, July 11, 2010 at 11:13 am Link to this comment

Shenonymous, July 11 at 12:58 pm,

Do you suppose that all of those 81 definitions of capital would resolve themselves down to assets that provide a revenue stream?——since this attribute is what distinguishes personal property from capital.

The definitions of what capital is are as diverse as the differing forms of money, all of which can be used as capital, and as diverse as all of the differing forms of the means of production and distribution, all of which are capital assets.

However, what all of these differing and diverse forms of capital have in common is that they are all “assets that provide a revenue stream”.  Therefore, I define capital broadly as “an asset that provides a revenue stream”.

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By ThomasG, July 11, 2010 at 11:13 am Link to this comment

Shenonymous, July 11 at 12:58 pm,

Do you suppose that all of those 81 definitions of capital would resolve themselves down to assets that provide a revenue stream?——since this attribute is what distinguishes personal property from capital.

The definitions of what capital is are as diverse as the differing forms of money, all of which can be used as capital, and as diverse as all of the differing forms of the means of production and distribution, all of which are capital assets.

However, what all of these differing and diverse forms of capital have in common is that they are all “assets that provide a revenue stream”.  Therefore, I define capital broadly as “an asset that provides a revenue stream”.

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By ThomasG, July 11, 2010 at 10:59 am Link to this comment

Anarcissie, July 11 at 1:08 am,

What is capital?

Capital is an asset that provides a revenue stream.

What is a revenue stream of capital?

A revenue stream of capital is a stream of value, usually represented as money, that is received by the owners of capital that is paid to them by others for the use of their capital.


If the next question that pops up is, what is a stream?——I will take this line of questioning to be disingenuous.  Otherwise, I am prepared to get more specific, if it is necessary to foster understanding of what capital is.

With regard to Free Market Privatized Capitalism, privatized capitalism has always made the claim that competition in the Market Place is the highest ideal of privatized capitalism; with this ideal of Free Market Competition in mind, it seems to me that Free Market Competition between private capital and social capital, between privatized capitalism and socialized capitalism, would afford a process short of open revolution that could pit private benefit against community benefit, so that all involved could sample the benefits and the drawbacks and start the process of evolving a New Capitalist System that will serve the greater good.

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By Foucauldian, July 11, 2010 at 9:57 am Link to this comment

Ultimately, the idea of market is a democratic idea.  We can think of markets as loci for the meeting of minds - and needs.

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By Shenonymous, July 11, 2010 at 9:01 am Link to this comment

“however just its rulers may think they are.”  I agree, Anarcissie.
Rulers are just men (women are coming along but they aren’t there
yet).  As men they are blind to their own hubris.  Your mailing list
woman Plato reader is maybe one in an ocean of those who think
otherwise.  I don’t think Rawls was advocating civil war or totalitarian
government, but rather as advocating a systemwide perspective free of
coercion from various self-interested sectors and an impartial approach
under “the veil of ignorance.”  Even in your limited experience of Rawls,
you can see that, no?  In my even more limited experience that is how
I read him.  I did not find him boring nor satirizing justice but too long
to take to bed for reading material.  It did not put me to sleep. Now I
could say the poststructuralists did!  Sorry Roger, but I am trying to stay
‘objective’ and openminded. Among the philosophy set, Rawls seems to
hold a high position on the notions of justice since Plato, an heir
apparent of the social contract cabal.  You might question them
directly, or read their analyses of his theories (Samuel Freeman, Fred
D’Agostino, John Kilcullen, etc.).  Quoted in an obituary by Cohen and
Nagel that commented on his relinquished religious beliefs, Rawls had
stated “ that political philosophy aims at a defence of reasonable faith,
in particular reasonable faith in the possibility of a just constitutional
democracy; he says that the recognition of this possibility shapes our
attitude “toward the world as a whole”; he suggests that if a reasonably
just society is not possible, one might appropriately wonder whether “it
is worthwhile for human beings to live on earth”; and he concludes A
Theory of Justice with powerfully moving remarks about how the
original position enables us to see the social world and our place in it
sub specie aeternitatis.  Seems like those on a panoptic quest for
justice might not leave out his thoughts on it.

Happened upon the cool ISM Book, a quick reference resource that
offers brief definitions of theories, doctrines, movements, and
approaches in philosophy, religion, politics, science, the arts, and
related disciplines - http://www.ismbook.com/about.html (check it out
for Archimedean points), ‘capitalism’ is defined in political philosophy
as an economic system in which the principal means of production,
distribution, and exchange are in private (individual or corporate) hands
and competitively operated for profit.

We know this definition quite well since it has been said a number of
times by Truthdippers. To give the concept a more well-rounded
treatment for a needed deeper understanding, it is amplified a bit more
thusly:  A mixed economy combines the private enterprise of
capitalism and a degree of state monopoly, as in nationalized industries
and welfare services. Most capitalist economies are actually mixed
economies, but some (such as the US and Japanese) have a greater
share of the economy devoted to free enterprise. The reputation of
capitalism, which has been quite bad for a while and obviously from the
bad press it is recently getting just about everywhere except for the
economists who still support it, is on the rise. Undoubtedly due mainly
to the universal failure of socialism and communism, credit must also
be given to those scholars who have emphasized that what has been
traditionally censured as evil “capitalism” is in fact the idea of minimal
government, which is better described as classical liberalism or
libertarianism, which is much more “human” than the 20th c.
authoritarianism and totalitarianism that supplanted capitalism
historically. However, some economists insist that capitalism is not a
doctrine or theory in political philosophy in the way that Marxism is,
because the free market is not an ideology but simply the economic
phenomenon that occurs naturally in the absence of political control.

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By Shenonymous, July 11, 2010 at 8:58 am Link to this comment

OneLook Dictionary (Sociology) offers five kinds of capitalism:
http://www.onelook.com/?w=capitalism&ls=a
“The term capitalism denotes an economic system in which the
greater proportion of economic life, particularly ownership of and
investment in production goods, is carried on under private (i.e.,
non-governmental) auspices through the process of economic
competition and the avowed incentive of profit… Capitalism is often
regarded as passing through three successive stages, beginning with
commercial capitalism, under which large-scale operators come
to dominate the process of exchange, running on with the Industrial
Revolution, into the stage of industrial capitalism, dominated by
the owners of large factories, mines, and other industrial enterprises,
and then to the stage of finance, or financial capitalism, in which
control passes more and more into the hands of bankers and financiers
dominating industrial enterprises to which they advance money, or to
great investors divorced from the day-to-day management of industrial
enterprises, but controlling them and extracting profit from them by
their financial power. These stages are not, of course, mutually
exclusive: the earlier do not cease to exist when the later are
superimposed upon them. Reference is sometimes made to a fourth
form, state capitalism, defined by Lenin as a system under which
the State takes over and exploits means of production in the interest of
the class which controls the state… Still a fifth form is frequently
described in the literature concerned with those economies in which
there is an increased element of state intervention either in terms of
welfare programs or of responsibility for employment and lessening the
impact of the business cycle. This form is denoted by such phrases as
welfare capitalism or protected capitalism...” - From G. D. H.
Cole, “Capitalism,” in Julius Gould and William L. Kolb, editors, A
Dictionary of the Social Sciences (New York: The Free Press of Glencoe,
1964), pp. 70-71.

Interestingly enough, it has been suggested that the voting public
actually determine the process of financial exchange, determine
investment regulations, control the means of production, regulate the
industrial/agricultural sector, it seems “protected capitalism” could fit,
but since the system would emanate from the public and not the state,
popular capitalism might work as a descriptive.  There are of
course inherent nuts and bolts problems that such idealizations do not
consider that could figure into possible corruption, ah yes…a noun not
easily extinguished.  The administration of a public-centered economic
system.  Administrators would have to be involved since a system
cannot run itself.  Wouldn’t these have to be popularly elected officials? 
By what majority of votes?  Funding the administration, negotiating with
other countries in terms of trade and monetary exchange.  It is not so
simple a matter.

BTW there are 81 definitions of capital.

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By Anarcissie, July 11, 2010 at 7:33 am Link to this comment

Shenonymous, July 11 at 2:53 am:

‘The marketplace can, so it might seem, do a lot, but could it break up the megalithic economic strength lodged in those domains?  If there was a government free of vested interests, who will champion the morality embodied in the legal and constitutional framework.  Rawls said “To establish just distributive shares, a just total system of institutions must be set up and impartially administered.”’

Was Rawls advocating that?  It seems like a prescription for civil war or at least a totalitarian government.  Someone has to get total control of the total state, decide for everyone what is just (opinions differ), and impose it.  I don’t know; I’ve only read a few pages of Rawls, enough to find him intolerably boring.  He might have been satirizing justice.

I used to be on a mailing list with a woman who insisted that Plato, in the Republic, was satirizing rather than advocating fascism.  She was a sort of Plato scholar, too, someone who had read the material far more closely than I, and to some extent in the original.  I took her idea seriously but I was unable to see it that way.  Plato continued to seem like another top-downer, an intellectual ancestor of the Rawls quotation.

The marketplace is just one part of the (hopefully free) interaction of people with one another without the benefit of an authority beyond what is necessary to maintain a few basic rules such as common-sense prohibitions against violence and fraud, not because they are unjust, but because they prevent the the interactions, including markets but other kinds of behavior as well.  It is in this matrix of social connections that I place my political hopes, not in the fight to be the top in a top-down system, however just its rulers may think they are.

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By Foucauldian, July 11, 2010 at 3:58 am Link to this comment

“In the best Platonic dialogue tradition?  Dialogue
yes, but you flatter us.  TG/MA’s and my interactions
were not very systematically designed as were Plato’s
internally coherent works.”

I was referring to his/her conversation with self,
tongue-in-cheek way besides - a la Dr. Jekyll and Mr.
Hyde.

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By Shenonymous, July 10, 2010 at 10:53 pm Link to this comment

Here comes another snoozer from Shenonymous.  Well maybe not.
1.
Do you know, I said, that governments vary as the dispositions of
men vary, and that there must be as many of the one as there are
of the other? For we cannot suppose that States are made of “oak
and rock,” and not out of the human natures which are in them, and
which in a figure turn the scale and draw other things after them?

- Plato, The Republic

It has been said Plato was the first communist!  And of course I do not
agree with everything he said, even though there is much that I do.  I
do not agree with his limitations of free speech, and censoring kinds of
music.  One of his close relatives was among the Thirty Tyrants so I can
see where he got his totalitarian ideas.  He distrusted the mob and was
not a proponent of democracy. It was the demos that voted to put to
death his beloved mentor.  An elitist, his citystate would be ruled by the
cream of the guardians, the “most guardianly of the guardians.”  The
word ’communism’ did not come into use until the 1840s.  It traces to
the Latin communis, meaning “shared” or “common.”  Seeing a
society that might be considered communist appeared as long ago as
the 4th century B.C. describing Plato’s ideal state, The Republic
where the governing class of guardians devotes itself to serving the
interests of the whole community. Because private ownership of goods
would corrupt their owners by encouraging selfishness, Plato argued,
the guardians must live as a large family that shares all their worldly
possessions, in a common ownership not only of material goods but
also of spouses and children.

Actually Plato’s purpose for abolishing wealth was not to do away with
inequalities but was a provision for unity with which private property
was incompatible. He further argued that the Guardians must at all cost
prevent wealth and poverty into the state. Wealth, because it “produces
luxury and idleness and desire for novelty”; and poverty because it
produces “meanness and bad workmanship and the desire for
revolution as well.”  But it was Euripides, BTW, who, long before the
Republic, separated the people into three groups:  the useless rich who
are always greedy for more, the poor who have nothing and are
devoured by envy, and the middle class who save states.

In the best Platonic dialogue tradition?  Dialogue yes, but you
flatter us.  TG/MA’s and my interactions were not very systematically
designed as were Plato’s internally coherent works.

A front and center centrist, that makes me z-craziest!  Especially
among the Truthdippers.  The locus of delusion is relative.

Seems like any process of transformation, whatever form it takes,
cannot be only economic.  Economic reforms must be chaperoned by
changes in morals and beliefs.  The notion of justice as the foundation
of a healthy society is more than ideal it must be embodied in the real,
the individuals, but that is unrealistic given the power that resides in a
multifarious confluence of plutocrats, corporatists, and organized
crime.  For where would a transformation begin? I definitely like the
idea of democratic economics.

The marketplace can, so it might seem, do a lot, but could it break up
the megalithic economic strength lodged in those domains?  If there
was a government free of vested interests, who will champion the
morality embodied in the legal and constitutional framework.  Rawls
said “To establish just distributive shares, a just total system of
institutions must be set up and impartially administered.”

So good laws, but enforced that would wipe out the illegal and criminal
sources of income wealth, along with economic policies that would not
forget the origin of property and wealth, could work for a long term
socio-political and economic health of any society.

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By Shenonymous, July 10, 2010 at 10:44 pm Link to this comment

2.
J. S. Mill said “the worth of a state in the long run is only worth the
individuals who produce it” or something like that.

The buggy sank into the quicksand.  The buggy holds the ordinary
people of the world and the quicksand is what they have left after
whatever can be exploited in the world by the human predators has
been arrogated.  I am a neophyte in the world of politico-economics,
but I do have compassion for the sinking poor, and I sense the entire
world is being dragged down by the plunging demoralization. If we are
to have a just society, the entire population must operate on principles
of justice.  I know this much, it is going to take more than theorizing
by intellectuals for this world to get better, and I also know, but only by
intuition, that the way cannot be through violent revolution.

Furthermore, it seems like the issue of private property is one that must
be confronted, unraveled, taken apart, seen from all sides and grappled
with so that any redistribution of the wealth of a nation can be justly
navigated.

I’ve run into the writings of an Australian economist, Tomas J. F. Riha,
who wrote about the de-socialization in a post-communist society
(since the world has now had a few) that impresses me greatly, so I
have borrowed a few things…like another Mill quote, “The best state for
human nature is that in which, while no one is poor, no one desires to
be richer, nor has any reason to fear being thrust back by the efforts of
others to push themselves forward.”  And then story of the Mad
Hatter… “I want a clean cup”, interrupted the Hatter: “let’s all move
one place on”. He moved on as he spoke and the Dormouse followed
him: the March Hare moved into the Dormouse’s place, and Alice rather
unwillingly took the place of the March Hare. The Hatter was the only
one who got any advantage from the change; and Alice was a good deal
worse off than before, as the March Hare had just upset the milk-jug
into his plate.”
– L. Carroll.

I am smitten by his 5-stage what he calls a “Revolutionary cure for
maldistribution of property rights or “The Red Hatter’s Tea Party.”
Stage 1: Injustice. Resentment of the disadvantaged against
injustices in distribution of property and wealth – ground prepared for
change.
Stage 2: Ideology. Revolutionary ideology promises an immediate
improvement by liquidation of the old ruling elite’s property rights and
their allocation to those loyal to the revolution.
Stage 3: Revolution. Private ownership is abolished, citizens receive
a sovereignty in abstract title of the whole people’s property which they
cannot exercise and are told that they have entered into a system which
ends every kind of exploitation. Leaders of the revolution appoint
themselves agents of the whole people to administer the collective
ownership. The nomenclature is born.
Stage 4: Reforms. Revolutionary fervor subsides, aims are
forgotten, the transformation of the nomenclature’s political power into
economic power begins. Economic reforms create property-like
entitlements enabling the nomenclature to internalize benefits from
their possession within the system.
Stage 5: Transformation. The system’s habitat is hemorrhaged and
nearing death and as such does not provide conditions conducive to
further objectification of privileges. The acquiescence in socialist
ownership is broken, dissidents and masses are manipulated. An abrupt
metamorphosis is executed, completing the development of a
nomenklaturnik into a capitalist. The conversion of the
nomenclature’s entitlements into legal ownership rights is completed.
Revolution and the nomenclature’s physical extinction is prevented.

And the cycle starts again!

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By Anarcissie, July 10, 2010 at 9:08 pm Link to this comment

But what is capital?  And what is a revenue stream?  These words might be interpreted in many different ways. 

At least the definition offered doesn’t confuse capitalism with “free enterprise” or markets.  And it doesn’t appear to specify any sort of political order, so if the Pharaoh has a bunch of slaves farming for him….

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By ThomasG, July 10, 2010 at 7:35 pm Link to this comment

Capitalism is the act, process, or result of the use of capital, a combination of the word capital, an asset that provides a revenue stream and the suffix “ism” which designates the act, process or result of.

There is nothing at all misleading about the term Capitalism, because the term states with precision what Capitalism is.

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By Anarcissie, July 10, 2010 at 7:30 pm Link to this comment

Shenonymous, July 10 at 1:20 pm:

‘... and there is a plurality of media these days all the way from the crazy rightwingers to nearly crazy leftwingers, and maybe some rational reporting / editorializing in between….’

In my view, the “craziest” (that is, the most politically delusional) people are centrists.

But for the moment you’re right—a lot of channels of communication are opening up, and people are beginning to use them pretty vigorously.  It will be interesting to see what happens next (assuming the corps(e) don’t crush the Net somehow).

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By Foucauldian, July 10, 2010 at 6:03 pm Link to this comment

I’m reading through some of the threads by you, MarthaA, and ThomasG, Shenon - the latter two a split personality, no doubt, but in the best tradition of Platonic dialogues. 

It’s an interesting concept, to say the least, leading to democratization of economic processes, definitely a way to go.

I’ll still say that using the term “capitalism” as part of the nomenclature is misleading.  I’m certain an apter term will suggest itself later.

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By Shenonymous, July 10, 2010 at 9:20 am Link to this comment

“Give me whereon to stand”, said Archimedes, “and I will move the
earth.” The boast was a pretty safe one, for he knew quite well that the
standing place was wanting, and always would be wanting. But suppose
he had moved the earth, what then? What benefit would it have been to
anybody? The job would never have paid working expenses, let alone
dividends, and so what was the use of talking about it? From what
astronomers tell us, I should reckon that the earth moved quite fast
enough already, and if there happened to be a few cranks who were
dissatisfied with its rate of progress, as far as I am concerned, they
might push it along for themselves; I would not move a finger or
subscribe a penny piece to assist in anything of the kind.
  Mark
Twain (1835-1910)  “Archimedes” written in the Australian Standard,
1887 (under the pseudonym Twark Main)

Yes, I quite agree and have advocated bottoms up (LOL) as the only way
to achieve pervasive change (especially through local elections).  And
given that Foucauldian and ThomasG are closer to the bottom layer of
society, I tenuously keep them out of the elite estate, seems logical but
I could be wrong; then their suggestions would be more or less starting
at the bottom.  Since there is an architecture in place for the public to
make itself heard in this country, several ways actually: making waves
so that the news media will glom onto it, and there is a plurality of
media these days all the way from the crazy rightwingers to nearly
crazy leftwingers, and maybe some rational reporting/editorializing in
between, it is not out of the realm of reason to use them as they use
their force to manipulate the public; then there are the politicians and
their election and re-election, who make the law, and along with the
law enforcement agencies from local level to the federallies (my
invented word); peaceful, and we cannot discount the influence of
the far-reaching ‘Net, and also insistent and loud local organizations to
inform the public and energize their self-serving motives (which I would
think would not be a difficulty thing to do), as well (another form of
manipulation).  I see many ways the public does not have to resort to
violent “overthrow” of systems that within their nature can be affected
otherwise.  Actually the last violent rebellion that was successful in the
United States was in 1776. 

How funny, great observations will show up in the most disparate
places.  No I do not get anti-war appeals from “The World Can’t Wait.” 
I had heard of it when Bush II was President but I thought they had
achieved their goal to dislodge him.  Frankly I don’t agree with the
theorists that a war can be turned off like a water faucet.  And it is too
complex an issue to take it up here, now.  Perhaps elsewhere, or if a
new direction is wanted to go, okay, here.

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By MarthaA, July 10, 2010 at 9:19 am Link to this comment

Anarcissie, July 10 at 12:39 pm,

Awareness in the masses is the key to revolutionary change and causal understanding in the masses is the key to the masses maintaining control over revolutionary change.

For those of us who are interested in revolutionary change that will result in revolutionary benefit to the masses and revolutionary participation by the masses, causal understanding and awareness are essential.

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By Foucauldian, July 10, 2010 at 9:19 am Link to this comment

I like your post, Anarcisse.

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By Anarcissie, July 10, 2010 at 8:39 am Link to this comment

Shenonymous, July 10 at 2:23 am:

‘... The next thing that occurred to me, perusing your and ThomasG’s dialogue, is if you are convinced your economic theories are better than what we have, why not codify them, put them in coherent writing and submit them to the public-at-large for adoption, get a politician to see the merits and have them presented to Congress and the President?  But you must hurry, as the world can’t wait.’

One can hardly expect the existing social order to enact its own demise.  This is not the Soviet Union of 1989.

In general, I think top-down prescriptions for revolution, if put into practice, generally leave us with the top but not the revolution.  Or worse.

Hence I think if revolutionary change is to take place, it had better occur from the bottom up, starting on a small scale and working with familiar, off-the-shelf ideas, such as the cooperative modes of work, production and consumption I often advocate.  Perhaps these can be scaled up.  Intervention, however well-intentioned, on the part of the high and mighty seems like the kiss of death, since it’s going to profoundly distort the authentic local economy and destroy its autonomy.  I’d rather starve the top; hopefully it will grow thin and blow away in the wind.

Incidentally, “the world can’t wait” is the name of an organization that sends me anti-war appeals.  Do you get them, too?

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By Foucauldian, July 10, 2010 at 7:38 am Link to this comment

I was only commenting on his rather odd application/example of his idea - not on the concept itself which I find interesting and offering interesting possibilities.  Moreover, when I spoke of “small scale,” I was thinking along that framework - making a vital distinction between types of projects, not with reference to the prevailing conditions.

By “capitalism,” I simply mean the kind of system that has evolved in the US.  Of course it is in a state of flux, that goes without saying.

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By Shenonymous, July 9, 2010 at 10:23 pm Link to this comment

Your statements are a bit confusing Foucauldian.  Yesterday July 8,
you said at 2:38 pm “I am not suggesting that small scale
“capitalism” must disappear from the face of the earth…” 

That was an interesting turnabout given that earlier at Foucauldian,
July 1 at 6:40 pm you said, “I know that capitalism, as we know it,
has got to go…” and “What will replace it, I have no idea.  Resorting to
old labels, such as socialism or communism, is counterproductive and
inhibits the thought.”

And three weeks later, Foucauldian, June 21 at 9:34 pm, you said “The
political system has been hijacked the world over by the economic
system.  It’s capitalism, such as we know it, that has got to be
eradicated before the world can be set “aright.”  Capitalism is the
culprit…… So yes, capitalism has got to go.“

If you are requesting ThomasG to be more specific, I request the same
of you, sil vous plait, merci, if only to stop this rolling of my eyes!  All
in good spirit, of course, or maybe that was with spirits?

Either, please, give a description of what ‘small scale’ capitalism would
be, or, and I am truly curious, say what form the replacement economic
system will have, we can come up with a catchy name a little later, I’m
sure.  I know you said you had no idea, but that should not stop you. 
At least ThomasG has offered a replacement, a reformulation as it were.
Although he has not given much detail, there is a skeleton of a system. 
If he put some muscle on it, it could possibly be seen to have some
virtue, some salvation?  I feel it in my bones. 

The next thing that occurred to me, perusing your and ThomasG’s
dialogue, is if you are convinced your economic theories are better than
what we have, why not codify them, put them in coherent writing and
submit them to the public-at-large for adoption, get a politician to see
the merits and have them presented to Congress and the President? 
But you must hurry, as the world can’t wait.

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By Foucauldian, July 9, 2010 at 3:48 pm Link to this comment

Apparently, you have been operating under misconception, ThomasG.  I don’t recall starting a dialog with you - only asked for your references, which, however begrudgingly, you finally provided.

So yes, do go on on your merry little way.  You are too full of yourself for me to take you seriously.

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By ThomasG, July 9, 2010 at 9:18 am Link to this comment

Leefeller speaks of “the bucket” because that is where he resides and that is what he knows.

What does rage, indignation, and accusation of those who do not reside in “the bucket” really mean, when it comes from one who resides in “the bucket”?

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By Leefeller, July 9, 2010 at 7:43 am Link to this comment

My schizophrenia seems to be on constant high alert, so when the meds seem to be doing their job things move along somewhat smoothly.  When things go down hill and when it suddenly appears, even with meds and all, I have never placed a wig on me head and changed me name to Leefeller A.

Having been called a Right Wing Republication more times than I can count on Thomas G’s 6 toes and 6 fingers by the same person,I never feel bad after his or her insults, of course after the required crying for several hours in me Tequila.

Sorry Thomas G, back to the bucket with thy self.

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By Leefeller, July 8, 2010 at 7:16 pm Link to this comment

She,

Do not notice any difference in format, your posts are physically narrow, which I suppose is Apple instituted? 

Everyone else goes off the page, I suspect it is the big brother mentoring, they need to read stuff so they can see it, comprehension has little to do with it!

For me it is like my cell phone, I want it to be a phone, I do not give a crap if it can preform a Republican lap dance!

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By ThomasG, July 8, 2010 at 6:36 pm Link to this comment

Foucauldian, July 8 at 4:43 pm,

I get the idea from your post that you have no idea at all what capital is, the role that capital plays in Capitalism, and how capital applies with regard to both socialized Capitalism and privatized Capitalism; that your interest lies solely in arguing over your own patterns of personal perception and contention relative to subjective issues of your own personal involvement; if this is so, I am not interested in further dialogue with you on such matters.

I can get this type of a self serving subjective response from a Right-Winger and we as a nation have been subjected to this type of self serving drivel as a result of Nixon from the time of Goldwater, through Reagan, Bush I, and Bush II, and from the ilk of Glenn Beck and others like him.  I do not feel that my participation in this type of behavior is productive, and therefore decline further participation.

(Resending the above post that was inadvertently sent under MarthaA, but is a ThomasG answer to Foucauldian)

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By MarthaA, July 8, 2010 at 6:23 pm Link to this comment

Foucauldian, July 8 at 4:43 pm,

I get the idea from your post that you have no idea at all what capital is, the role that capital plays in Capitalism, and how capital applies with regard to both socialized Capitalism and privatized Capitalism; that your interest lies solely in arguing over your own patterns of personal perception and contention relative to subjective issues of your own personal involvement; if this is so, I am not interested in further dialogue with you on such matters.

I can get this type of a self serving subjective response from a Right-Winger and we as a nation have been subjected to this type of self serving drivel as a result of Nixon from the time of Goldwater, through Reagan, Bush I, and Bush II, and from the ilk of Glenn Beck and others like him.  I do not feel that my participation in this type of behavior is productive, and therefore decline further participation.

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By Shenonymous, July 8, 2010 at 4:07 pm Link to this comment

Thank you Foucauldian!  My favorite author, both fiction and non, next
to Italo Calvino is Umberto Eco, even though another of my favorite
authors, Salman Rusdie, infamous and hated by Islamists but a great
writer nonetheless does not appreciate Eco, so well! I have many of
Eco’s books, including Foucault’s Pendulum, which is about an earlier
Foucault,  but I do not have the one you recommended.  I will order it
post haste.  I know I am going to enjoy it without even seeing it.  A
neatly telling review at
http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2002/oct/12/fiction.academicexperts
My favorite Eco novel, The Island of the Day Before is among other
things an exercise in the futility of trying to swim with the currents of
life if you don’t know how to swim, and the curious characteristics of
time. Because of his enjoyment of successes in the world of literature I
find Eco is an ersatz socialist.  In mind but not in practice.  I think that
quite possibly defines a great many socialist intellectuals.  Anyway
I cheerfully thank you for the suggestion.

BTW: Why has this forum’s page format expanded almost exponentially
wide all of a sudden?  This oddity happens occasionally on Truthdig
forums and it is most annoying as in order to read the comments I have
to expand the page almost as wide as my 20” computer screen!  Yikes.

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By Foucauldian, July 8, 2010 at 12:43 pm Link to this comment

“Do you suppose that the hundreds of millions of small investors that provided social capital to bail out Privatized Capitalism, as a result of the September 18, 2008 Collapse of the U.S. Economy, are happy with their investment? —— Personally, I can tell you that I am not, and I doubt that anyone else is either.”

If you’re referring to the bailouts, then you must mean “taxpayers’ money.”  Quite a turn of phrase, speaking of “social capital” in that sense.  And whether it saved the economy it remains to be seen. 

And no, where in hell did I give you any indication that by “social capital” you meant “small time projectsd”?

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By ThomasG, July 8, 2010 at 12:17 pm Link to this comment

Foucauldian, Foucauldian, July 8 at 2:38 pm

“The system ThomasG proposes presupposes a great many things:  a stable and prosperous society, for one, where nearly everyone can be “the investor.”  Not only are we a long way from happy state of affairs; the problem is getting there.”—Foucauldian July 8 2:38 pm

“I am not suggesting that small scale “capitalism” must disappear from the face of the earth.” Foucauldian July 8 2:38 pm


Social Capital and Socialized Capitalism is by no means “small scale” Capitalism; Socialized Capitalism as I have proposed, is Capitalism on the LARGEST SCALE possible, Capitalism that is represented by hundreds of millions of small investors that dwarfs the scale of Privatized Capitalism. 

Social Capital is what rescued the National Economy from economic collapse, as a result of the collapse of the U.S. Economy on September 18, 2008, and Socialized Capitalism on the scale of Capitalism that is capable of reversing the ill effects of Privatized Capitalism dwarfs the scale of Privatized Capitalism; this is the result of hundreds of millions of small investors, rather than a few large investors.

Do you suppose that the hundreds of millions of small investors that provided social capital to bail out Privatized Capitalism, as a result of the September 18, 2008 Collapse of the U.S. Economy, are happy with their investment? —— Personally, I can tell you that I am not, and I doubt that anyone else is either.

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By ThomasG, July 8, 2010 at 11:38 am Link to this comment

Steve Moyer, July 7 at 11:20 pm,

For the purpose outlined in your post, I advocate social capital and socialized Capitalism.

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By Foucauldian, July 8, 2010 at 11:19 am Link to this comment

Well yes, Shenon.  To an uninitiated ear, most of the postmodernist writings is incomprehensible, so there definitely remains the task of providing a translation for the common man - a major problem.

But as you say, Foucault had to invent a new language in order to access new vistas.  Hence the many repetitions and fugal type of composition - to drive in the point.  Yet certainly not all of his utterances are equally dense:  there are some gems.

For a lucid presentation of Foucault’s thought, you might want to check out a rather short article by Umberto Eco in Travels in Hyperreality

http://books.google.com/books?id=Pplm-ntT-zIC&printsec=frontcover&dq=travels+in+hyperreality&hl=en&ei=chU2TLDnJoT78AbTgO32Aw&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=1&ved=0CC4Q6AEwAA#v=onepage&q=travels in hyperreality&f=false

The essay in question is titled “Language, Power, Force,” starting with page 239.  It’s almost intact and I think you’ll find it a pleasurable experience.

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By Foucauldian, July 8, 2010 at 10:38 am Link to this comment

I think you’ve hit the nail on the head, Steve.  It’s the money system and the way we think of value as producers and consumers that needs to be subjected to incisive analysis (see David Harvey’s lectures on “Reading Capital,” referenced a number of comments below) before an adequate replacement can be made:  anything short of that would be mere tinkering.

Furthermore, you can’t think of radical economic change without considering appropiate changes in the realm of the political and the social.  It’s all intertwined.  The system ThomasG proposes presupposes a great many things:  a stable and prosperous society, for one, where nearly everyone can be “the investor.”  Not only are we a long way from happy state of affairs; the problem is getting there.

I am not suggesting that small scale “capitalism” must disappear from the face of the earth.  But we must make distinctions between what’s small scale and the kind of production and enterprises which demand communal/national/global undertakings:  for example, space exploration programs or food production, to name but a few.

So again, I don’t want foreclose the issue and I’m going to give the proposed solution a fair shot.

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By Shenonymous, July 8, 2010 at 10:14 am Link to this comment

Stepping into a fiery furnace once again…

If the term “capitalism” is a problem and you have a desire,
Foucauldian, to call it something else, then it seems like “socialism”
is just as much a problem as a word because of the historic stigma
as the basis for an economic system is bound to tarnish any proposed
system, it also would require a change.  I look forward to whatever
new euphemistically descriptive words are offered.

However, I believe a fundamental problem postmodernists generated
when they changed the vocabulary of a great many concepts and their
writings became almost linguistically incomprehensible, almost a cultic
language, not easily understood by the common person, hence they fell
into writing fashionably for an intellectual elite which contradicts their
ideas to change the world for the common person. (While many would
argue, I think Heidegger is one of the most linguistic obscurantists. One
has to become acclimated to the language as one would have to learn
hieroglyphics in order to read for understanding the ancient magazines
carved in stone.) Sartre is much more readable for ready understanding
of similarly difficult ideas. 

While I am not always daunted by recondite language in texts as I have
several books by Heidegger and Sartre, and now Foucault, it seems to
me it is more propitious to call a spade a spade and be more direct
using plain language to explicate difficult concepts or intricate
“genealogies, archaeologies” of ideas or inventing when a more sound
basis is offered for educating for the purpose of changing beliefs is
desired for a broad audience, even such as the forums of TD for
instance. I.e., the use of the word genealogy (as borrowed from 19th
century Nietzsche who also had a habit of reworking language) has a
whole new meaning where once it essentially meant a family pedigree,
Foucault and Nietzsche use the word neologically as the heritage of
ideas.  For just one example in his Two Lectures (1976), Foucault
writes, “genealogy“ reactivates local knowledges against the scientific
hierarchisation of knowledges and the effects intrinsic to their power.” 

I’ve noticed in my recent readings of these thinkers that explanation
after explanation after explanation is often made to explain what they
meant.  It is fugal in form where their several voices speak in a similar
vein. Though having a uniqueness of their respective individualities,
finally with a synoptic view a gradual buildup of theme finally comes
through.  It is work not necessary if a more direct and plain language
were adopted. And if esoteric notions are wanted to be shared with a
common public, after all isn’t that the target?  The common man?  I call
on Occam for salvation.  Surprise and novelty is one of the symptoms
and tenets of the postmodernists in social science and I think the
reason their theses have not caught on in the masses is that the
presentation of their ideas in their lectures and written works simply are
not linguistically accessible for facile comprehension.

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By Foucauldian, July 8, 2010 at 7:36 am Link to this comment

It’s a source like any other source; so yes, i’ll take a look at it and consider it.  That’s where the resource comes in, from one’s own thinking, not from citing references, however begrudgingly.

Have a nice day.

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By Steve Moyer, July 7, 2010 at 7:20 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

The only constant in the universe is change.  The “system” is constantly changing.  When they bailed out the banks that was change.  When they rescued General Motors that was change.  When they give tax breaks to oil companies for offshore drilling, that is a change. And so on.

Money is a SYSTEM with a host of laws, regulations, practices and methods. We can talk about changing any one of these things and we will be talking about changing the WHOLE thing.

I simply use the word “money” to describe the system because the system is “all about money.”  It could be about something else, such as justice or sustainability or human virtue, but it isn’t about those things. 

The one thing we need to recognize is that money as a system is a tyranny.  We have accepted the idea that there should be ONE system, rather than two or more systems interacting with each other.

Money needs competition.  There needs to be another system to challenge it to be better.  I’m not talking about private sector barter or alternative money systems.  They aren’t really a challenge to money.  You have to be able to pay your taxes, register your car, pay for your driver’s license and so forth with the alternative. 

Money doesn’t need to be universally accepted in order to be useful.  States could have their own money and honor it for payment of any State fee or service.  Money doesn’t need to be “debt-based.”  It can be credit based.  It can be based on the land, the people and our collective wealth.

Debt-based money is a tyranny in our mind.  It keeps us living in fear.  If the only way you can survive and meet your needs is with debt-based money, then you are a slave.  Freedom comes from choice.

We need a new economic system, not to replace the existing system but to give us a real choice.

Steve Moyer
http://steve.nodes.net

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By ThomasG, July 7, 2010 at 12:39 pm Link to this comment

When I make reference to capital, I make reference to capital as an asset that provides a revenue stream, and social capital in the context of community benefit, rather than private benefit; therefore, social capital, as an example, was the communal resources of the American Populace that was used to recapitalize private capital as a result of the September 18, 2008 Collapse of the U.S. Economy.

Also, social capital used in the same context would be the social moneyed capital and social capital assets that would be used to fuel production, distribution, commerce, and consumption of a Socialized Capitalist Economy, Socialized Capitalism.  Socialized Capitalism being an Economic System where the millions of small investors of the nation would provide the capital for a Socialized Capitalist Economy, rather than private capital from a small percentage of private capitalist investors.

http://www.truthdig.com/avbooth/item/20091002_hi_ho_american_capitalism/

http://www.truthdig.com/dig/item/20081108_financial_meltdown_101/P200/  (page 3) and MarthaA

http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/after_religion_fizzles_were_stuck_with_nietzsche_20100510/P0/

The foregoing is provided to you as the lazy man’s way to enlightenment; and, as a result, I do not hold much hope of the effort being worthwhile.

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By Foucauldian, July 7, 2010 at 11:04 am Link to this comment

Well, I’m glad you’ve got it all figured out.  There is no sense then addressing me if you’re too lazy to provide the links.

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By ThomasG, July 7, 2010 at 10:28 am Link to this comment

Foucauldian, July 7 at 1:34 pm,

Been there, done that, with regard to defining what social capital and Socialized Capitalism is.  Among other threads here on Truthdig, I have went into social capital and Socialized Capitalism quite extensively on Financial Meltdown 101.

I went into the topic of social capital and Socialized Capitalism quite extensively with Shenonymous and it would be helpful if you could benefit from that effort, rather than to expect benefit as a special case.

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By Foucauldian, July 7, 2010 at 9:34 am Link to this comment

I’m not sure exactly what point you’re making, ThomasG.  I haven’t spoken of capitalism other than in a privatized sense - as it is unfolding and has unfolded in the US.  It’s up to you to make a clear cut distinction between what you call “socialized capitalism” and capitalism such as we know; and further, to distinquish the former from a kind of economic system of production operating in the People’s Republic of China. 

One thing comes to mind:  to speak of “socialized capitalism,” one would have to reinvoke the notion of “social cost.

At any rate, the kind of system you envisage needs to be clearly defined; and it’s not going to be what we commonly regard as capitalism.  Why must be retain the old nomenclature?  I don’t understand the sentiment.

I asked for appropriate links/references to the topic at hand, so far to no avail.  Are there any, or are you just making things up on the go?

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By ThomasG, July 5, 2010 at 6:15 pm Link to this comment

Foucauldian, July 2 at 2:55 pm,

I agree with Shenonymous that social capital and socialized capitalism has a place.  I do not agree or believe that privatized capitalism and its cyclical failure serves the greater good of the greater and lesser community.

As before, I have said that social capital and socialized capitalism should be institutionalized and that privatized capitalism should not be resurrected from its cyclical death as a zombie by social capital, and that privatized capitalism should be on its own to compete with socialized capitalism.

I do not support time warp communism and socialism; both are failed models of socialism, the same as privatized capitalism.

Socialism as used in the United States for the last 234 years is a tried and true Socialist Model and should be used in combination with social capital and socialized capitalism.  If privatized capitalism can compete with socialized capitalism, I think that it should have a right to do so.  However, if privatized capitalism cannot continue on its own without being brought back to life with social capital, I believe strongly that privatized capitalism must be allowed to stay dead and NEVER be brought back to life again with social capital.

I do not believe that it serves a productive purpose to condemn capitalism without making a distinction between socialized capitalism and privatized capitalism.

Capitalism is a process than can be used for the greater good or the greater greed.  I believe that capitalism should be harnessed to serve the greater good as socialized capitalism, rather than continually resurrected with social capital to serve the greater greed as privatized capitalism.

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By Leefeller, July 3, 2010 at 8:11 am Link to this comment

Capitalism and Socialism seem to have been tried and utilized with varying degrees of isms in many places on this world. 

At the local level, as a small farmer, I find most farmers are intensely independent, but there also seem to be some communal farms with varying degrees of communal living and I guess growing substance also making them farms?  Not sure what the communal level of farming done by the different religious groups entails, but I suppose they share and help work and of course pray together?

Even in capitalism the independent small farmer has become a dinosaur and seems to have been replaced by the corporate farm.  Some small farms still survive, but since the 1940’s the numbers of small family farms has gone down to very small numbers. These are known facts and I do not have the numbers at my finger tips.

Farmers coops have a very high mortality rate, because the good farmer who produces high quality products is pooled with the poor quality farmer and prices seem to go the lowest common denominator.  This does not bode will to the diligent farmers, it seems someone will always place their thumb on the scale.  To me cooperative farming seems much like socialism.

On the other hand there are the specialty farms who grow specific products like chickens or grain for a large corporation under something which seems to be like contract employees.

The independent farmer is becoming very much like the horse and buggy.

Farming under socialism would seem just like a large cooperative with the option to fail decided by a few people calling the shots.

Under capitalism, farmers have a choice to fail under their own independence.  As for success farming has so many variables which can change what would be, in most cases something called making a profit. 

In the end, it seems the only ism which is ever present and successful, is opportunism and will prevail under either capitalism or socialism to the same ends, with the same option to die.

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By Anarcissie, July 2, 2010 at 4:59 pm Link to this comment

Shenonymous, July 2 at 1:33 pm:
’... [T]he word nation implies a gathering of people, community means a gathering of people, both of these structures implies a government, a state, of some sort.  So yours and Anarcissie’s sentiments are obfuscating. ...’

I don’t think communities necessarily require governments.  If you disagree with that, that’s a difference of opinion about human nature, but not an obfuscation or a contradiction in terms.

The word nation is often used where the correct word would probably be state and otherwise often means something like “ethnic group”, but sometimes it refers to politically constructed supra-ethnic collections of people, as in the case of the United States, Russia, Israel, Canada, and many others.  Diasporas are sometimes included in the concept of the nation.  I try to avoid using the word because its meaning is rather ambiguous.

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