Top Leaderboard, Site wide
Winner 2013 Webby Awards for Best Political Website
Top Banner, Site wide
Apr 23, 2014

 Choose a size
Text Size


The Key to 2014




The Divide


Truthdig Bazaar more items

 
Report

This Country Needs a Few Good Communists

Email this item Email    Print this item Print    Share this item... Share

Posted on May 31, 2010
AP / Elizabeth Dalziel

By Chris Hedges

(Page 2)

The robber barons of the late 19th century used goons and thugs to beat up workers and retain control. The corporations, employing the science of public relations, have used actors, artists, writers, scholars and filmmakers to manipulate and shape public opinion. Corporations employ the college-educated, liberal elite to saturate the culture with lies. The liberal class should have defied the emasculation of radical organizations, including the Communist Party. Instead, it was lured into the corporate embrace. It became a class of collaborators. National cohesion, because our intellectual life has become so impoverished, revolves around the empty pursuits of mass culture, brands, consumption, status and the bland uniformity of opinions disseminated by corporate-friendly courtiers. We speak and think in the empty slogans and clichés we are given. And they are given to us by the liberal class.

The “idea of the intellectual vocation,” as Irving Howe pointed out in his essay “The Age of Conformity,” “the idea of a life dedicated to values that cannot possibly be realized by a commercial civilization—has gradually lost its allure. And, it is this, rather than the abandonment of a particular program, which constitutes our rout.” The belief that capitalism is the unassailable engine of human progress, Howe added, “is trumpeted through every medium of communication: official propaganda, institutional advertising and scholarly writings of people who, until a few years ago, were its major opponents.”

“The truly powerless people are those intellectuals—the new realists—who attach themselves to the seats of power, where they surrender their freedom of expression without gaining any significance as political figures,” Howe wrote. “For it is crucial to the history of the American intellectuals in the past few decades—as well as to the relationship between ‘wealth’ and ‘intellect’—that whenever they become absorbed into the accredited institutions of society they not only lose their traditional rebelliousness but to one extent or another they cease to function as intellectuals. The institutional world needs intellectuals because they are intellectuals but it does not want them as intellectuals. It beckons to them because of what they are but it will not allow them, at least within its sphere of articulation, either to remain or entirely cease being what they are. It needs them for their knowledge, their talent, their inclinations and passions; it insists that they retain a measure of these endowments, which it means to employ for its own ends, and without which the intellectuals would be of no use to it whatever. A simplified but useful equation suggests itself: the relation of the institutional world to the intellectuals is as the relation of middlebrow culture to serious culture, the one battens on the other, absorbs and raids it with increasing frequency and skill, subsidizes and encourages it enough to make further raids possible—at times the parasite will support its victim. Surely this relationship must be one reason for the high incidence of neurosis that is supposed to prevail among intellectuals. A total estrangement from the sources of power and prestige, even a blind unreasoning rejection of every aspect of our culture, would be far healthier if only because it would permit a free discharge of aggression.”

The liberal class prefers comfort to confrontation. It will not challenge the decaying structures of the corporate state. It is intolerant within its ranks of those who do. It clings pathetically to the carcass of the Obama presidency. It has been exposed as a dead force in American politics. We must find our way back to the old radicals, to the discredited Marxists, socialists and anarchists, including Dwight Macdonald and Dorothy Day. Language is our first step toward salvation. We cannot fight what we cannot describe.

Advertisement

Square, Site wide

New and Improved Comments

If you have trouble leaving a comment, review this help page. Still having problems? Let us know. If you find yourself moderated, take a moment to review our comment policy.

Anarcissie's avatar

By Anarcissie, July 18, 2010 at 5:39 pm Link to this comment

Shenonymous, July 18 at 7:32 pm:
’... All right, when do we consider ourselves capitalists?  I like that, bringing it right down to the personal level as so far we have been talking about economic theories as theoretically existent or at abstract large levels of society or government.  Now we are getting more pragmatic.  It is not a simple question however.  And I can offer no glib or simple answer.  Where do I draw the line? ...’

If I may butt in….  I use the term capitalist to mean someone who makes all or part of her income by directly or indirectly owning and managing capital.  This necessarily involves the exploitation of labor, since if the laborers had their own capital they would have little reason to work for a capitalist.  Being a capitalist does not refer to a level of wealth accumulation, it refers to economic function.  You could have a billion dollars’ worth of platinum hidden behind the furnace in your basement, for instance, but you wouldn’t be a capitalist (according to me).

There are some ambiguous situations, such as the petit-bourgeois, who own their own tools but do not exploit others’ labor, and laborers who own stock in capitalist corporations.  You would have to draw a line arbitrarily through these sets if you wanted a binary, non-fuzzy differentiation.

Report this
Shenonymous's avatar

By Shenonymous, July 18, 2010 at 5:26 pm Link to this comment

Shenonymous, July 18 at 8:41 pm – “If the?worker owned the
house, he is a little capitalist given it is property.”
  Hardly fudging.  But
you seem to purposely miss that I answered you.  Besides directly
answering, the answer is the conclusion from the rest of my post.  So I’ve
answered you twice.

Report this
Anarcissie's avatar

By Anarcissie, July 18, 2010 at 5:24 pm Link to this comment

ThomasG, July 18 at 3:50 pm:

‘... One who is taken to be intelligent is taken by others who are intelligent to act with purpose, and must, therefore, ask why one such as Anarcissie, who is taken to be intelligent, acts with seeming purpose to obfuscate, complicate, and stultify that which an effort at understanding is claimed, rather than to isolate, simplify, and clarify that to which an effort at understanding is claimed.’

I’ve just been asking you to define your terms clearly and to give concrete, material examples of instances of them.  If this obfuscates, complicates or stultifies anything for anyone I can’t help it.

Speaking of which, I’m afraid I have to ask again about the source of the capital which is to be social or socialized.  I pointed out that while the aggregate wealth of the United States—the territory and its people and their stuff—is relatively great, the government does not own very much of it, so that the wealth owned in common in the sense of being owned by the government is relatively small and could not fund very much.  I asked you whether you were referring to the first or second category of wealth.  If the first, the question arises as to how, under your proposal, the wealth would be accessed; if the second, how it could be made to serve the purpose proposed.

Now you have introduced the term “communal”.  To what does this refer?  Can you give us some examples of this communal wealth?

Note that I am well aware that much that was originally held and used in common was privatized over the last few centuries, a process which continues to this day.  Does your plan involve deprivatizing it?  It was my impression that you had ruled out expropriation.

Report this
ThomasG's avatar

By ThomasG, July 18, 2010 at 5:04 pm Link to this comment

I do not perceive that Foucauldian has anything significant to add to the dialogue regarding social capital and socialized capitalism.

Shenonymous has demonstrated understanding of social capital and socialized capitalism and I am reasonably certain than Anarcissie is intelligent enough to come to understand, and I trust in Shenonymous’ judgment in this respect.

Report this

By Foucauldian, July 18, 2010 at 4:47 pm Link to this comment

“If not a capitalist, how under another non-capitalist
system would your worker have saved enough for a down
payment on a house?”

You’re fudging, Shenon.  That wasn’t the question.

Report this
Shenonymous's avatar

By Shenonymous, July 18, 2010 at 4:41 pm Link to this comment

”Is a worker a “little capitalist” for having saved enough for a
down-payment on a house.”
  What would be the alternative? 
If not a capitalist, how under another non-capitalist system would
your worker have saved enough for a down payment on a house? 
Where would he get the revenue to save?  Where would he have saved
it?  In a bank or under his bed?  And what he saved would he be the
owner of his capital?  Would the house be his or the state’s?  If the
worker owned the house, he is a little capitalist given it is property.
You have made this more simple than it really is.  That is one way to
load an argument.

Report this

By Foucauldian, July 18, 2010 at 4:01 pm Link to this comment

Anarcisse is quite right in “failing” to understand ThomasG’s “theory.”  She displays a far greater conceptual sophistication and erudition than ThomasG, given his limitations, could possibly acquire in ten lifetimes.  The citing of another parable, this time Tolstoy’s, is a cheap shot when applied to here.  She keeps on asking reasonable questions to which, if what transpired thus far is any indication, she’s unlikely to get satisfactory answer.

The reason is simple.  ThomasG is not only like a broken record, incapable of explicating his notions to anyone satisfaction but his own, always having to rely on others to help him prod along.  That would be the least of his sins.  There is a deeper reason for that.  He is tone-deaf from the language standpoint, operating under mistaken impression that every word and term of ordinary language is a concept.  Hence his idea that prefixing the adjective “social/ized” to modify “capitalism” is going to result in some deeper, richer meaning.  Well, it can’t under the present setup; it’s but an artificial construction, lacking in depth.  Hence his difficulty trying to explicate what isn’t there.  One can’t squeeze blood out of a turnup.

More substantively, there is this continuous talk on the part of our would-be theorist of the use of the means of production - better term than “capital” given his intentions - without any reference to ownership.  This in itself disqualifies renders the idea impoverished, without any substance.  Again, all kinds of terms are being proposed to alleviate this obvious omission - the latest being “the communal assets of the US,” held in trust, I suppose, on behalf of the entire populace.  (I may be paraphrasing, because the exact verbiage is unimportant, the “idea” seems to be.)  Well, it’s just another instance of fudging, of tinkering with something that is beyond tinkering, a desperate kind of move at best.  So yes, I would like to resume this discussion with Anarcisse if she feels up to it.  Perhaps we can make a go of the idea, Anarcisse, or put it to rest.  It’s up to you.  I’ll try to play ThomasG’s devil advocate, just for the heck of it, if you’re game.

Report this

By Foucauldian, July 18, 2010 at 4:00 pm Link to this comment

Let’s get down to basics, Shenon.  Is a worker a “little capitalist” for having saved enough for a down-payment on a house.

Forgive me for not responding your first paragraph; what I said pertain to a certain context with which we don’t have to deal now.

Report this
Shenonymous's avatar

By Shenonymous, July 18, 2010 at 3:32 pm Link to this comment

Just to backtrack a little given I am such an AR type.  There is
no such thing as “intrinsic value.”  “Man is the measure of all
things,” a presocratic philosopher had once said.”
  Just as there
are no such things as natural laws or natural rights.  The Presocratic
philosopher was a familiar of Plato’s, who wrote a whole dialogue
about him, Protagoras, the Sophist (Plato also wrote another dialogue
called the Sophist who goes unnamed and some think he was again
referring to Protagoras, but it is not for certain).  But is man the
measure of “all” things?  That is a universal claim is it not?  In the
Apology, Plato argues against that sentiment.  Even if man is not
the measure of “all” things, I rather like the Presocratics, even the
non-sophist ones, who more or less rejected traditional mythological
explanations of the phenomena they witnessed in favor of more rational
explanations. These philosophers asked questions about “the essence of
things” just as we are asking what is the essential nature of social
capital and how does it relate to our every day life?

All right, when do we consider ourselves capitalists?  I like that,
bringing it right down to the personal level as so far we have been
talking about economic theories as theoretically existent or at abstract
large levels of society or government.  Now we are getting more
pragmatic.  It is not a simple question however.  And I can offer no glib
or simple answer.  Where do I draw the line?  When what one has,
materially or uses such as a rented living space, what one can freely
acquire through one’s own power, effort, work, or even inherited, i.e.,
cars and land, and cannot by law be appropriated by another or through
the force of government action, that is on the side of the divided line I
would call living as a capitalist.  It is I think proper to have conventional
laws, meaning by a majority agreement of the members of the society
that can reasonably tax members in order to fund the operation of the
government and underwrite the social programs devised to help the
less fortunate, the elderly who no longer have the energy to make a
living, or other such needy individuals in terms of food, health, and
shelter.  These strictly speaking are not capitalistic but are socialistic. 
But I think they can be merged and work for the benefit of most. 

However I do not subscribe to extreme Anarcho-Capitalism as I believe
in forms of regulation to recover from the inherent actions of greedy
and anti-social individuals.  As long as they want to live in a society,
then they have to bear some of the brunt of problems that are
associated with that society and take care of its less fortunates.  It does
not bother me in the least to have the state coerce to some degree in
the form of taxation.  I do not see that as incompatible with capitalism.
As long as the government does not usurp the freedom of choice when
that choice harms no one including oneself, that can be part of what it
means to live as a capitalist; when I may say anything I wish or write
anything I wish that does not harm nor incite to harm any other, even if
what I say criticizes the authorities, that can be described as living as a
capitalist.  I would have to add however, an anarcho-capitalist axiom as
an essential principle into the mix that the line is drawn that one’s own
mind and body is unassailably one’s own.  It is an eclectic view I know,
but I think no one theory can encompass the complexities of living in a
large mixed society with a broad range of economic status.

Report this
ThomasG's avatar

By ThomasG, July 18, 2010 at 1:08 pm Link to this comment

Shenonymous, July 18 at 11:47 am,

“I think I understand what ThomasG means by social capital as I listed some of the various forms of it.  But I don’t know how it becomes socialized capitalism and that I think is the crux of his argument. If a revenue stream is not produced by it, it would seem that a government is not backed up by any real material worth, meaning physical not
abstract worth.  Can you answer that ThomasG?” —Shenonymous July 18 11:47 am

Socialized Capitalism is the act, process, or result of the application of social capital in the same “like manner” that Privatized Capitalism is the act, process, or result of the application of Private Capital.

With regard to your July 18 Post at 11:47am, I am also in agreement as was the case of your July 18 Post at 2:53am.

Report this
ThomasG's avatar

By ThomasG, July 18, 2010 at 12:37 pm Link to this comment

Shenonymous, July 18 at 2:53 am,

I like your post of July 18, at 2:53am, it is an elegant seminal post and explains in a few words what I have used many words to explain ineffectually.

Report this
ThomasG's avatar

By ThomasG, July 18, 2010 at 12:01 pm Link to this comment

Anarcissie, July 18 at 10:56 am,

“Do you mean the assets of the United States government, or the assets of the United States as a whole? They’re two very different sets of things.” —Anarcissie July 18 10:56 am

The communal assets of the U.S. Government that are held in common for ALL the people of the United States; I have said in the past, over and over again, that I am not proposing “Time Warp Communism” that would affect the personal assets of the population, whether in part or as a whole; i.e., the confiscation of “private property”.

My July 18, 2010 Posts at 3:50pm and 3:52pm to Shenonymous explains my attitude toward disingenuous claims using a lack of understanding to stultify real understanding, and my attitude toward expectation that others cannot acquire understanding without first acquiring the basis of understanding, KNOWLEDGE.

I do not really know whether you are ingenuous or disingenuous, and if you are ingenuous, I apologize for any offense given.

What I do know is that, if you are ingenuous, you will seek knowledge and information on your own that will either confirm or refute that which you are trying to understand, and the 14th through the 16th Century origin and development of capitalism and the Enclosure Movement is a good place to find knowledge and information that will lead to understanding.

The problem of understanding, and in the present case the understanding of “social capital” and “socialized capitalism”, was expressed in 1897 by Leo Tolstoy as follows:

“The most difficult subjects can be explained to the most slow-witted man if he has not formed any idea of them already; but the simplest thing cannot be made clear to the most intelligent man if he is firmly persuaded that he knows already, without a shadow of doubt, what is laid before him.” Leo Tolstoy 1897

How do we get around the problem that Tolstoy expressed with regard to “social capital” and “socialized capitalism”, Anarcissie?——because if there is a way, I am interested in finding it.

Report this
ThomasG's avatar

By ThomasG, July 18, 2010 at 11:52 am Link to this comment

Shenonymous,

(Page 1 of 2)

I think that the lack of understanding expressed by Anarcissie is based in the view of Leo Tolstoy, that he expressed in 1898, which I have included in a post just subsequent to this one.

In the name of understanding are those who obfuscate, complicate, and stultify the issues they claim to be trying to understand, rather than to isolate, simplify, and clarify those same issues truly seeking understanding????

It has been my experience over my 65 years of life on this earth that those who are sincere in trying to understand that which for them is not understood, generally isolate, simplify, and clarify the elements where understanding is sought, rather than to obfuscate, complicate, and stultify that to which understanding is claimed to be desired by ever increasing, irrelevant elements of complexity and in the name of seeking understanding make that which they seek to understand more and more complex and hidden within, more and more, to which the original claim to a lack of understanding can be concealed;—this was the tactic of the young homeless man that caused me to smile while he was in seeming earnestness explaining his lack of understanding with great complexity.  The young man did not find it at all funny that in such a serious moment for him that I would be smiling, but as he was gradually backed into simplification and isolation to clarify that which he claimed a lack of understanding, he was forced to own up that he did not choose to understand something that would increase his responsibility.

Delving into the mysteries of calculus before one knows how to count is nonproductive and without intent of understanding, and the same is true of one who would claim to try to understand the complexities of “social capital” in the admitted absence of a clear understanding of “social capital”.

Report this
ThomasG's avatar

By ThomasG, July 18, 2010 at 11:50 am Link to this comment

Shenonymous,

(Page 2 of 2)

If Anarcissie or anyone else wants to understand “social capital”, perhaps Anarcissie or whomever wants to understand should look at the genesis of “private capital” from the use of “social capital” in Britain in the 14th and 15th Centuries, and do some research on the Enclosure Movement to learn how “private capital” and “privatized capitalism” came into being and evolved by way of the Enclosure Movement.

The following is a repost in part of my July 16, 2010, 2:49am post to you:

“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”.” —ThomasG July 16, 2010 2:49am

One who is taken to be intelligent is taken by others who are intelligent to act with purpose, and must, therefore, ask why one such as Anarcissie, who is taken to be intelligent, acts with seeming purpose to obfuscate, complicate, and stultify that which an effort at understanding is claimed, rather than to isolate, simplify, and clarify that to which an effort at understanding is claimed.

Again, I think that the lack of understanding expressed by Anarcissie is based in the view of Leo Tolstoy, that he expressed in 1898, which I have included in a post just subsequent to this one to Anarcissie.

If you have any ideas on a solution, I am interested in hearing them.

Report this

By Foucauldian, July 18, 2010 at 9:33 am Link to this comment

In the interest of time, I suggest a posting by “Marat” - June 12 at 10:10 pm - towards the top of page 4.  Of course, I started from scratch if only to get the feel of the personalities involved; but it isn’t necessary anymore since most of them have dropped by the wayside, except for the present bunch.

As regards your other point, sure.  We can do it on the thread Les and I have been posting of late (Kenn Jacobine’s penultimate article).

Report this
tolstoyscat's avatar

By tolstoyscat, July 18, 2010 at 8:17 am Link to this comment

F,

With regard to the Jameson link. Thanks. I wish to discuss this elsewhere with regard to our friend L. Fissures indeed, I am thinking about this constantly and putting my finger on the problem I have suspected with postmodernism. Jameson’s perspective was what I needed. I think I will need The Methodology of the Oppressed even more now, to get me to some further point.

This thread is long, can you suggest a reasonable starting place other than the first comment?

Report this

By Foucauldian, July 18, 2010 at 7:59 am Link to this comment

No, Shenon, the set of concrete questions posed a post or two ago:  At what point do “we” consider ourselves “little capitalists”?  By virtue of having an automobile, a motor home, a trailer, a patch of land, a house?  Where do you draw the line?

Report this
Shenonymous's avatar

By Shenonymous, July 18, 2010 at 7:51 am Link to this comment

If I understand your question, Roger, where do I draw the line of
what is a capitalist mindset verses a socialist one?  If that is what
you are asking I think I can answer it cogently.

Report this
Shenonymous's avatar

By Shenonymous, July 18, 2010 at 7:47 am Link to this comment

I have to learn not to copy and paste quotes directly from TD posts,
those question marks are crazy-wacky making.  Duh.

I see your points Anarcissie.  I understand what you mean by
revenue and whether an asset, social capital or private capital, is
revenue streaming.  But since all money, except gold or silver
coinage, is in the form of promissory notes, in a way all paper money
a metaphor for capital whether social or private.  I don’t know if this
observation is useful here or not.  Since the value of money changes
with the vagaries of the market, it seems whatever kind of capital it is
called its value is dependent of a lot of disparate factors. It seems
social capital is less volatile in value but it is more difficult to assign a
value. I agree that an expanded welfare program is not revolutionary
and seems to be the platform of the Democratic Party, which gives
more of the country’s treasury to the people thus redistributing the
wealth more equitably.  The fact that the DP holds the executive and
majorities in the houses of Congress is like barking at trees with a
Republican contingent that throws elephants in the way of any and
every piece of legislation that would do that redistribution.  I
understand that is their reason d’etre, but it would be a big digression
to discuss that problem.  The fact is being a majority in the branches of
government does not mean that a particular program gets to skate their
programs through to law. 

I think I understand what ThomasG means by social capital as I listed
some of the various forms of it.  But I don’t know how it becomes
socialized capitalism and that I think is the crux of his argument. If a
revenue stream is not produced by it, it would seem that a government
is not backed up by any real material worth, meaning physical not
abstract worth.  Can you answer that ThomasG?

Report this

By Foucauldian, July 18, 2010 at 7:41 am Link to this comment

Good morning, and forgive me for putting words in your mouth.  FYI, I would never hold you to a senseless generalization.  But my question still stands, Shenon, where do youdraw the line?

Report this
Shenonymous's avatar

By Shenonymous, July 18, 2010 at 7:16 am Link to this comment

Now Roger, two problems:  since I would abhor using the word “all”
to describe anything unless I was describing a carton of 12 eggs as
all being part of a dozen, and am known to strongly criticize those
who do since I always argue there is an inherent fallacy in using the
“all” encompassing collective adjective as it is plain wrong to
attribute something psychological to an entire species , and I rarely
use the proverbial pronoun “we” in the way you claim I have, as I am
also known to call it a case of “weism” another fallacy of inclusion, it
would be good of you to show me where I said “that all of us are “little
capitalists” at heart” since I am particularly very careful to avoid using
those two completely presumptious words in “all” of my posts.  I will be
happy to apologize if I have and would flagellate myself and wash my
mouth out with soap, twice.  In my July 1 5:46pm post I do discuss the
fact that almost all of the materials used is the result of a capitalistic
society.  Then at June 29 at 5:49 pm I expressed my skepticism that a
sizable economic revolution would take place in the US because
”...actually ?even the poorest Americans are capitalists at heart even
without an ?education.”
but I hardly said “all of us” were capitalists at
heart.  May we start with that?  Oh, by the way…Good Morning.

Report this
Anarcissie's avatar

By Anarcissie, July 18, 2010 at 6:56 am Link to this comment

Shenonymous, July 18 at 2:49 am:

‘... I do believe ThomasG’s strain falls within the definition of social capital.  But Anarcissie is also right in requesting, as she does with politeness and respect, some examples of what he means by capital as found in social structures in order to assess whether it is worth the effort to engage in his form. I don’t see why the US’s debt would have to be paid off in order for social capital to be used as a basis to distribute The People’s Treasury (the US Treasury), for more, or deeper, social programs.’

‘Social capital’ is a phrase which has been used to describe the productive value of the social relationships and knowledge of the people of a community, but since ThomasG has insisted that the capital he is talking about is an asset which provides a revenue stream, that can’t be what he is talking about—that kind of social capital is a metaphor, something which may be useful in analysis (or not) but not something you can take to the bank or put in a factory to turn out widgets, in short, get revenue from, like ordinary capital.

The U.S. debt does not have to be paid off for the U.S. to expand its social programs; it can raise the money as it does now through taxation, borrowing or printing or some combination thereof.  However, the value of that money is not capital and it does not provide a revenue stream: it is consumed by its recipients and the bureaucrats who administer the programs.  In any case ThomasG has excluded taxation, etc., as a source of capital, so then we do have to consider all that remains, to wit, the net worth of the U.S. government, which I think may be negative.  Note also that an expanded Welfare state is hardly revolutionary; it’s the program of a large part of the Democratic Party, which presently holds the presidency and substantial majorities in both houses of Congress.

I am looking for concrete examples because when I try to apply ThomasG’s theory to the material world he tells me I’m wrong.  Therefore, I must not know what he’s talking about.  If you do, please feel free to help out.

Report this

By Foucauldian, July 18, 2010 at 6:26 am Link to this comment

Shenon,

Let me throw you a curveball.  You remarked a while
ago that all of us are “little capitalists” at heart. 
So here is the first set of questions:  where do you
draw the line?

Does renting an automobile qualify?
And if not, what about owning it?
What about a motor home or a trailer in a trailer
park?
A patch of land?
A home?

Let’s start with that.

Report this
Shenonymous's avatar

By Shenonymous, July 17, 2010 at 10:53 pm Link to this comment

Being the curious rascal that I am, I cannot wait for the definition of
social capital to emerge in the dialogue betwixt Anarcissie and
ThomasG (ladies first, yes I am sexist to a degree).  At any rate I am
doing a research of my own.  Of course I would run into the giant
thinkers of the concept, so I present somewhat I was able to gather.
But before I do, I will say that ThomasG has presented a least one
legitimate extant example his grandfather’s store and the stock that
represents social capital.  I say legitimate because the term social
capital is not one single thing, and is defined by its function and can
be resources of different natures.  All forms however have two elements
in common in that all consists of some aspect of social structure and all
facilitate certain actions of persons or collectives such as corporations,
or even governments within the social structure.  Social capital is
similar, as ThomasG states, to what we understand as other forms of
capital, such as physical capital and human capital, in that it is
productive and makes possible the achievement of certain goals that if
it were not available would not be possible and like the other forms is
not completely exchangeable and could be specific for certain activities,
meaning any given form of social capital that is valuable in promoting
certain action might be useless or possibly even harmful for other
actions.

But not like other forms of capital, social capital is not embedded in
either agent or in physical tools of production.  With respect to
corporations or government-in-response-to-its-citizenry based social
capital, relations among such entities can also be considered social
capital, an example given in the literature as the sharing of information
that allows price-fixing in an industry.  But it can also be a resource for
individual persons.  Of some examples that were given is the exchange
of wholesale diamonds where merchants freely exchange inspection of
stones with the confidence that one will not deceive the other and
substitute an inferior stone for a highly valuable one. The rationale is
that the market would be overburdened and not operate well in a less
efficient manner.  The inspection illustrates particular aspects of the
social structure.  Other factors within a particular kind of market such
as the diamond market are socially related in that the community in
which the business exists involve a closed community situation where
family and close friends work together. 

Another example is a cellular form of organization such as politically
motivated study groups which the group itself comprises a form of
social capital for encouraging and helping opposition in a political
system intolerant of dissent or certain activities (totalitarian is one
instance of that situation). Hence, the organization itself the group
represents also is a form of social capital. 

Social capital may be economic or non-economic.  The economy is
affected when relations of the community provide stability of the market
exchange, which would include money, by the creation of obligation to
behave a certain way.  Also accomplishment of goals is equivalent to
production.

Report this
Shenonymous's avatar

By Shenonymous, July 17, 2010 at 10:49 pm Link to this comment

Another form of social capital is the potential for information that
resides in social relations.  Getting information can be costly and
also require valuable attention.  Using social relations is one way
to defray that cost. 

Social capital can be seen as certain aspects of social structure that
is identified by their function and the value assigned to those aspects
as resources.  The value of social capital will depend on the social
organization and the components that contribute to the value
produced. But more about certain forms of social structure is
particularly important in promoting social capital and that is a whole
other topic for another time.

I do believe ThomasG’s strain falls within the definition of social capital.
But Anarcissie is also right in requesting, as she does with politeness
and respect, some examples of what he means by capital as found in
social structures in order to assess whether it is worth the effort to
engage in his form. I don’t see why the US’s debt would have to be paid
off in order for social capital to be used as a basis to distribute The
People’s Treasury (the US Treasury), for more, or deeper, social
programs.

Report this
Anarcissie's avatar

By Anarcissie, July 17, 2010 at 9:40 pm Link to this comment

ThomasG, July 18 at 12:47 am:

‘Anarcissie, I said all assets of the United States.

Before we go any further, it is necessary to get an understanding of “social capital” that is apart from all of your imaginings.

I gave you an example of the use of “moneyed capital” that could be applied as “social capital” and I have also said that all other assets of the United States could be used as “social capital”. ...

Do you mean the assets of the United States government, or the assets of the United States as a whole?  They’re two very different sets of things.  The assets of the United States as a whole are mostly constitutionally unavailable to the government—the Constitution prohibits taking without just compensation.  My guess is that the U.S. government is virtually insolvent.  That is, if you sold off everything it owns and everything it could collect (legally) it could not pay its debts.  There’s no there there.  I think Foucauldian has already mentioned this.

So which is it?  We can worry about whether capital is social or not when we know what it is—by which I mean when we know what concrete, material things constitute it, or could be made to constitute it.

Report this
ThomasG's avatar

By ThomasG, July 17, 2010 at 8:51 pm Link to this comment

Foucauldian, July 18 at 12:25 am,

There was no cat, you must be watching the White Rabbit.

Report this
ThomasG's avatar

By ThomasG, July 17, 2010 at 8:47 pm Link to this comment

Anarcissie, July 18 at 12:19 am,

Anarcissie, I said all assets of the United States.

Before we go any further, it is necessary to get an understanding of “social capital” that is apart from all of your imaginings.

I gave you an example of the use of “moneyed capital” that could be applied as “social capital” and I have also said that all other assets of the United States could be used as “social capital”.

I will not go further with you on your imaginings that are apart from the concept of “social capital” until you indicate an understanding of what “social capital” is.

If you cannot comprehend “social capital” first, I do not think that it would be productive to introduce your imaginings into the mix that will make things even more incomprehensible for you.  Focus first, on social capital and what I have said, not on what you imagine.

Report this
Anarcissie's avatar

By Anarcissie, July 17, 2010 at 8:40 pm Link to this comment

Shenonymous, July 17 at 8:43 pm:

‘... I don’t have any problems understanding his theory, but maybe it is because I am maladroit at economics? ...’

I take Feynman’s view: if you understand a theory, then you can produce instances of the theory in operation.  You can work it for yourself.  I have found this to be a very useful principle in business and daily life in general.  Failed attempts to work a theory reveal either one’s own misunderstanding, or defects in the theory.

In the case of ThomasG’s proposal, I have attempted to work his theory and he has told me I got it wrong.  So I have fallen back to more basic questions, such as the definitions of the words and concepts he appears to be employing.  If you have been following the discussion, you can see that I am still confused.

If you have no problems understanding his theory, maybe you could help clarify it for me by demonstrating an instance or two of it ‘at work’, so to speak.  For instance, I still haven’t figured out whether the social capital can be money, or how it’s to be assembled.  A single example of the proposal at work would have to come down somewhere on these questions.

I don’t think you need to worry about economics; I don’t think we’ve been discussing a lot of economics here.  (So far.)

Report this

By Foucauldian, July 17, 2010 at 8:25 pm Link to this comment

That’s OK, ThomasG.  I am a mouse and you are a cat.  Happy now, or do you want to continue?

Report this

By Foucauldian, July 17, 2010 at 8:21 pm Link to this comment

Sorry for duplicate posting.  The first one didn’t register at first, so I wasn’t sure.

Report this

By Foucauldian, July 17, 2010 at 8:19 pm Link to this comment

Tolstoycat, found the full version of Jameson’s “manifesto,” as per the following link - http://homepage.newschool.edu/~quigleyt/vcs/jameson/jameson.html.

The last section, VI, is especially worth re-reading, as it offers an excellent summary.  It’s rather dense, but so what?  It shows up the fissures within postmodernism as well as Jameson’s own ambivalence with respect to the movement.

Report this
Anarcissie's avatar

By Anarcissie, July 17, 2010 at 8:19 pm Link to this comment

ThomasG, July 17 at 11:08 pm:

‘What you are calling finance capital is “social capital” in the form of “moneyed capital” and “moneyed capital” is what is used for what you call finance capital to purchase the means of production, distribution, and the capital assets that my grandfather sold in his stores in pursuit of a revenue stream.

Money that is used by the U.S. to bail out Privatized Capitalism is money ONLY until it is used to produce a revenue stream.  When the U.S. uses money to recapitalize toxic “private capital” to produce a revenue stream for “private capital”, the money used becomes “social capital” and the revenue stream is provided for “private capital”.

If the same money was used in “socially owned” business and industry to finance revenue producing enterprises that provided a revenue stream for “social benefit”, rather than “private benefit”, the money used would be “social capital” producing “social capital” for “social benefit”, rather than “private benefit”.  If you understand this point, we can move on to a greater understanding of “socialized capitalism”.’

The same money as the bailouts?  Previously, I thought you excluded the use of government money which had been obtained through taxes, borrowing or printing from your concept of social capital, or at least the creation thereof.  That’s what kind of money was used in the bailouts.  So are you going to use this money to build social capital or not?  The alternatives are for the government to use the stuff it already has, which seems seriously insufficient to the task, or to just seize the capital, which is unconstitutional at the moment.  I hope you will clarify my confusion.  A concrete example of the acquisition and administration of some instances of social capital would be most helpful.

I think you also need to clarify, in concrete terms, what you mean by ‘socially owned’ and ‘social benefit’.  Again, concrete examples would be helpful.  I’m sure you’re aware that terms like these have been used in very peculiar ways in the past.

Report this

By Foucauldian, July 17, 2010 at 8:13 pm Link to this comment

BTW, Tolstoyscat, found the full version of Fredrick Jameson’s “manifesto,” as per the following link:  http://homepage.newschool.edu/~quigleyt/vcs/jameson/jameson.html.

Re-read in particular the last section, VI, for a pretty good summary.  It’s rather dense but well worth the effort.  It’s interesting though how his treatment of works of art, a painting by Van Gogh and a dissimilar rendition by Andy Warhol (see earlier sections) throws light on the fissures within postmodernims.

Report this
ThomasG's avatar

By ThomasG, July 17, 2010 at 8:07 pm Link to this comment

Foucauldian, July 17 at 11:34 pm,

Yeah, yeah, sure, sure, is a reference to the mice versions of George and Lenny in “Of Mice and Men” by John Steinbeck and is suggestive that you are the mouse version of Lenny.  So, once more, I say, yeah, yeah, sure, sure, and keep an eye out for the big white rabbit.

Report this

By Foucauldian, July 17, 2010 at 7:34 pm Link to this comment

You’re not suggesting, I hope, that you’re engaging enough, ThomasG, that I should play a cat-and-mouse game with you.  For if you do, you prove once again how full of yourself you are.

Report this
ThomasG's avatar

By ThomasG, July 17, 2010 at 7:17 pm Link to this comment

Foucauldian, July 17 at 10:42 pm, Foucauldian, July 17 at 10:51 pm,

Yeah, yeah, sure, sure.

Report this
ThomasG's avatar

By ThomasG, July 17, 2010 at 7:08 pm Link to this comment

Anarcissie, July 17 at 10:17 pm,

What you are calling finance capital is “social capital” in the form of “moneyed capital” and “moneyed capital” is what is used for what you call finance capital to purchase the means of production, distribution, and the capital assets that my grandfather sold in his stores in pursuit of a revenue stream.

Money that is used by the U.S. to bail out Privatized Capitalism is money ONLY until it is used to produce a revenue stream.  When the U.S. uses money to recapitalize toxic “private capital” to produce a revenue stream for “private capital”, the money used becomes “social capital” and the revenue stream is provided for “private capital”.

If the same money was used in “socially owned” business and industry to finance revenue producing enterprises that provided a revenue stream for “social benefit”, rather than “private benefit”, the money used would be “social capital” producing “social capital” for “social benefit”, rather than “private benefit”.  If you understand this point, we can move on to a greater understanding of “socialized capitalism”.

Report this

By Foucauldian, July 17, 2010 at 6:51 pm Link to this comment

“Do you suppose that your failure to comprehend stems from your own lack of understanding, and that your lack of understanding prevents your comprehension of “social capital” and “socialized capitalism”; you are apparently stuck in a loop that is fed by the egotism of your own emotions.”

You’re really pathetic, ThomasG.  There is no failure to comprehend anything for the simple reason there is nothing TO comprehend.  You are an empty vessel.

As to the rest of your ad hominem post, suggesting that I contemplate the four Buddhist truths, I’m not going to grace it with a response.  I’ll just let your own words reflect on you.

Report this

By Foucauldian, July 17, 2010 at 6:42 pm Link to this comment

“. . .so that their causality of purpose can be justified as not intentional.”

Don’t you worry, ThomasG.  My remarks have been pointed and very much intentional.  Of that I would never deceive you.

Report this

By Foucauldian, July 17, 2010 at 6:37 pm Link to this comment

Hi, tolstoy cat.  Welcome to the fray.

Report this

By Foucauldian, July 17, 2010 at 6:32 pm Link to this comment

“His position is just as solid as
Foucauldian’s who has an opposite view.” 

I don’t have any opposite view, nor a similar one, Shenon.  How could I since he/she is uniquely ill-equipped to express what the darn view is? Perhaps you can do a better job of it since you claim to understand it, but mind you, I’ll hold you equally to the task for being equally vague and ambiguous, and so darn boring.  When you hear words of wisdom, I hear gibberish.

If I’ve been particularly critical of ThomasG postings, it’s because what appears to be passing, by all who are unaware, for intelligent conversation.  Thus far, I see nothing but fraud.  And my responses have mainly been for the benefit of you and Anarcisse.  Both of you ought to know better.  On this note, I’m going to rest my case. 

And I disagree BTW with your take on conversations.  All truths are relational.  No truth exists in a vacuum.

Report this
Anarcissie's avatar

By Anarcissie, July 17, 2010 at 6:17 pm Link to this comment

ThomasG, July 17 at 9:44 pm:

‘On a cyclical basis privatized capitalism collapses and money from the U.S. Treasury is used as “social capital” to recapitalize “private capital” to save the Privatized Capitalist Economy.’

Sure.  No one doubts that the U.S. government, in the name of its people, can tax, borrow or create dollars which can then be given to banks, corporations, rich people and so forth to save them from their financial follies.  You can call this “social capital” if you like, but it’s also finance capital (if it’s capital at all).  However, this money is not real stuff in the sense of machine tools or natural resources.  In fact, some of it isn’t even real money.  At most the dollars are claims on future production, if there is going to be any future production.

In any case, when I said, “Oh, you want the government to accumulate and invest finance capital” you said that was incorrect, so this instance of social capital, if that’s what it is, isn’t an answer to my question about what sort of capital or assets you have in mind when you talk about producing revenue.


‘How an asset is used is what determines whether or not the asset is capital.  In my grandfather’s stores the stock of the stores, the store buildings, and the revenue from sales were all capital, except for what revenue was used for personal expenses of the family.

Business and industry does not work differently from my grandfather’s stores, and the assets of the United States should be used in the same way to provide a revenue stream from the assets of the nation that can be used as capital.’

All right.  Now you need to tell us specifically what assets, what capital, you have in mind.  Thus far you have mentioned only the natural resources in the possession of the U.S. government, and the U.S. government’s power to tax, borrow and create money, but you have excluded the latter from use as investment to obtain revenue, and as things currently stand, natural resource sales or leases do not provide enough revenue to be even noticed on reports of how the government gets its money.  What else is there?


Forgive me for saying so, but to me, this does not seem to be a complex thought that is difficult to understand, because as I have grown from childhood to being an adult, I have come to understand the wisdom of my mother’s words to her children that we should know that it was wrong to consume our capital.

I’m trying to find out what you think that capital is.  I think it would help if you gave several specific, concrete examples of what you’re talking about when you say “capital” or “assets” and describe the revenue streams to be derived from them and how they are to be derived.  If the concept is simple it should not be difficult to produce several concrete examples of it.

Report this
tolstoyscat's avatar

By tolstoyscat, July 17, 2010 at 6:11 pm Link to this comment

interesting thread…(so far)

Report this
ThomasG's avatar

By ThomasG, July 17, 2010 at 5:59 pm Link to this comment

Shenonymous, July 17 at 8:43 pm,

I like your post and I hope that you are right about Anarcissie, but I am very, very, dubious about Foucauldian,

Because I respect your opinion, I will try harder to be patient and nonjudgmental, but as you know I have a problem with patience, because in one way or another my 65 years on this earth has been spent listening to mostly propaganda, sophism, and false rhetoric, and it is easy to judge what others say as sophism, propaganda, and false rhetoric contrived, sheathed, and justified as a false lack of understanding, so that their causality of purpose can be justified as not intentional.

Report this
ThomasG's avatar

By ThomasG, July 17, 2010 at 5:44 pm Link to this comment

Anarcissie, July 17 at 8:43 pm,

On a cyclical basis privatized capitalism collapses and money from the U.S. Treasury is used as “social capital” to recapitalize “private capital” to save the Privatized Capitalist Economy.

How an asset is used is what determines whether or not the asset is capital.   In my grandfather’s stores the stock of the stores, the store buildings, and the revenue from sales were all capital, except for what revenue was used for personal expenses of the family.

Business and industry does not work differently from my grandfather’s stores, and the assets of the United States should be used in the same way to provide a revenue stream from the assets of the nation that can be used as capital.

Forgive me for saying so, but to me, this does not seem to be a complex thought that is difficult to understand, because as I have grown from childhood to being an adult, I have come to understand the wisdom of my mother’s words to her children that we should know that it was wrong to consume our capital.

Report this
Leefeller's avatar

By Leefeller, July 17, 2010 at 5:25 pm Link to this comment

Interesting, I posted this morning and my post was swept away with the oil slicked tide and the thread is back to it’s normal format and size? The only explanation is….. I fixed it!

Please, do not let me be an intruder, let the bickering go on! Talking about capital, I have to make some hay, with a taste of the socialist buying and giving and working for hay!

Report this
ThomasG's avatar

By ThomasG, July 17, 2010 at 5:14 pm Link to this comment

Foucauldian, July 17 at 8:15 pm,

The capital was the assets of the stores that my grandfather owned and ran.

What my mother was telling all of us as kids is that if we ate our capital that was the stock in trade on the store shelves, that there would be no revenue stream from what we squandered from consumption and to the extent that we did so, we would be endangering our future.

Report this
ThomasG's avatar

By ThomasG, July 17, 2010 at 4:47 pm Link to this comment

Foucauldian, July 17 at 7:44 pm, Foucauldian, July 17 at 7:49 pm, Foucauldian, July 17 at 7:54 pm,

Do you suppose that your failure to comprehend stems from your own lack of understanding, and that your lack of understanding prevents your comprehension of “social capital” and “socialized capitalism”; you are apparently stuck in a loop that is fed by the egotism of your own emotions.

I suggest that you spend some time with “The Four Noble Truths and The Eight Fold Path of Buddhism”.  When you understand that 1) existence is mostly misery, 2) misery originates from within ourselves, 3) misery can be eliminated, and 4) the way to eliminate misery is The Eight Fold Path.  Perhaps you will be more secure in yourself and quit trying to impose your own misery upon others and start to deal with your own internal misery once you learn to apply The Four Noble Truths.

I am certain that Shenonymous can explain this process to you if she wants to be bothered with doing so.  I personally know that she has experience.

Report this
Shenonymous's avatar

By Shenonymous, July 17, 2010 at 4:43 pm Link to this comment

Thank you ThomasG, telling me why the word rude is being used. 
I think I can use it in other contexts.  And I detected a glint of your
wit with respect to the TD page format problem.  I’m glad to see it.
 
The conversation is devolving from a rather sharply high level to near
gutturals.  ThomasG and I have been through this kind of briny deep
before and came through it seemingly unscathed and more respectful
of each other. I believe it is because we wanted to.  That is still an
amazement to me as with some others when enmity arose, there was
no way to break through the horrid namecalling even though I offered
peace pipes (and I don’t smoke! Cough cough).  There is no need for
namecalling, not in the least.  I think ThomasG has not assessed
Anarcissie’s relevant questions accurately.  I believe she is trying to
capture the real character of ThomasG’s program which I think has been
explained but apparently not well enough.  Anarcissie does not
represent the mass of ignorant people.  Her thinking and explanations
are extraordinarily high level and analytical and she ought to be testing
the waters in which ThomasG has placed our thinking.  She obviously
has the sophistication of thought to be able to do that.  I do not believe
Anarcissie’s POV leads to the conclusion of extreme patriotism and in
defense of private capitalism.  Actually I haven’t seen her defend any
particular economic system but she seems to be ferreting out possible
consequences of the two major opposing systems.  I may be wrong, or
sightless.  Working our way through this maze of thought is most
instructive for all concerned, even ThomasG who seems to have a solid
comfort in his view, for he has to defend his position and that only
clarifies it for himself as well as the rest of us.  But his frustration is
leading him into an abyss. I don’t have any problems understanding his
theory, but maybe it is because I am maladroit at economics?  A
simpleton?  I can laugh at myself as I flail about in this discussion
trying to get some land legs using only my grasp of logic to try to see
premises and if they are seaworthy and doing research to gather facts
and buff up my lack of understanding.  His position is just as solid as
Foucauldian’s who has an opposite view.  And I certainly am learning
from Foucauldian also.  I don’t think ThomasG has any particular
attachment for me at all. Emotional attachments don’t belong here. 
Aren’t we all adults?  It doesn’t bother me that ThomasG has developed
a theory of his own.  All theorists do that.  Yes, more clarity is
requested and therefore ought to be forthwithgiving in good spirit and
patience, for in my view that is the “real” intellectual way to proceed. 
There is no room for rancor or sarcasm regardless of how frustrating or
perplexing it can be for some minds.  We are all on different levels of
understanding due to our respective education and ideological
orientation, whether it is formal or autodidactic, but I do believe we
equally have the intelligence to fathom the complexities if we can
navigate the treacherous waters without hipboots or a floating raft
(don’t you love my metaphors?).  I would hate to see this
discussion turn into the verbal cannon firings we are all capable of,
when it was so rewarding up until now, which I feel it is on the brink of
taking a deep dive into whale depth waters.
 
There are so many links posted I am eager to check out, I’d just like to
catch up and not return to see an all out battle going on!  Argument is
healthy but not if it descends into slinging hammers.

Report this
Anarcissie's avatar

By Anarcissie, July 17, 2010 at 4:43 pm Link to this comment

ThomasG, July 17 at 7:59 pm:

‘Anarcissie, July 17 at 7:13 pm,

“I believe the United States government already obtains revenue from the sale or lease of rights to exploit natural resources in or on its property” —Anarcissie July 17 7:13 pm

This is a pathetic example of the use of “social capital” albeit an anemic use that provides a pitiful and pathetic revenue stream that is then consumed, rather than used to generate an even larger revenue stream in the greater good of the nation as a whole. ...’

So, what would you change, specifically?  What specific resources are as yet untapped, which you would put to use?  And assuming you could get enough revenue to run a surplus over current Federal expenditures, which are presently running a significant deficit, what would you invest the money in, specifically?  I already supposed that you were suggesting the use of the money as general finance capital and you said that was incorrect.

Report this

By Foucauldian, July 17, 2010 at 4:15 pm Link to this comment

“When I was a child, my mother would tell us that the one thing we must learn is that we should not eat our capital . . .”

And what was your “capital” by your mother’s estimation?  Chicken, hogs, cats and dogs?  You surely weren’t raised on the farm.  What then?  A bank account?

If all you’re saying is that we should try to save more rather then spend, then just say so and be done with it.  It’s a simple enough proposition.  But please, leave your theorizing to others.  It’s sooooooo boring.

Report this
ThomasG's avatar

By ThomasG, July 17, 2010 at 3:59 pm Link to this comment

Anarcissie, July 17 at 7:13 pm,

“I believe the United States government already obtains revenue from the sale or lease of rights to exploit natural resources in or on its property” —Anarcissie July 17 7:13 pm

This is a pathetic example of the use of “social capital” albeit an anemic use that provides a pitiful and pathetic revenue stream that is then consumed, rather than used to generate an even larger revenue stream in the greater good of the nation as a whole.

When I was a child, my mother would tell us that the one thing we must learn is that we should not eat our capital, and that if we did, we would not have a future; the United States as a nation has not learned this lesson of my childhood.

Report this

By Foucauldian, July 17, 2010 at 3:54 pm Link to this comment

Again, your subjective-objective distinction makes no kind of sense, especially in the way you’re using it.  But it should be no surprise of any kind given the nature of most of your posts.

In truth, ThomasG, as far as I am concerned, you are a Martian.  And your language is Martian - although gibberish is an apter term.  The more you say, the less sense you make.

Report this

By Foucauldian, July 17, 2010 at 3:49 pm Link to this comment

At the bottom of it all, ThomasG. let’s face it - you’re being jealous.

Aren’t you jealous, admit it, of my catching Shenon’s ear?  Until now, you thought you were the top honcho, so now you’re being obstinate.  Ain’t that the real reason for your going overboard, even to the point of being ridiculous, for the sake of your male/female ego?

Report this
ThomasG's avatar

By ThomasG, July 17, 2010 at 3:48 pm Link to this comment

Foucauldian, July 17 at 7:30 pm,

In your world of subjective reality perhaps you are expressing subjective truth, but in the objective world of reality that has weight and occupies space that all of the rest of us occupy, you are expressing subjective drivel, and that is what I have always suspected that your dialogue would devolve into.

Report this

By Foucauldian, July 17, 2010 at 3:44 pm Link to this comment

You have no idea what you’re talking about.  And what has subjective or objective reality got to do with the price of tea in China.

Your home-spun theory, predicated on mere prefixing of the term “social” to dress up your notion of capitalism is not only trivial:  it’s totally divorced from reality - subjective or objective, take your pick!

You are living in a world all your own, ThomasG.  And I’m surely glad you’re making any kind of sense to yourself.  But you’re not making any to anyone else.

Report this
ThomasG's avatar

By ThomasG, July 17, 2010 at 3:33 pm Link to this comment

Foucauldian, July 17 at 5:05 pm,

So your answer is that you are living in a world of subjective reality; this is the line over the years that I have heard from Conservative Right-Wing Republican EXTREMISTS and Libertarians; which camp do you belong to?—And, do you follow the Chicago School or the Austrian School of Economics?  You should be talking to Fat Freddie, rather than Shenonymous, because Fat Freddie shares your world view and so far as I know, Shenonymous does not.

Report this

By Foucauldian, July 17, 2010 at 3:30 pm Link to this comment

“. . . and work your way from there through all of the other assets of the United States of America.”

Nice try, equating eminent domain with publicly-held assets.

The only thing public owns these days is debt and taxes.  And you were saying?

Blah indeed!

Report this
Anarcissie's avatar

By Anarcissie, July 17, 2010 at 3:13 pm Link to this comment

ThomasG—I believe the United States government already obtains revenue from the sale or lease of rights to exploit natural resources in or on its property, if that’s what you’re talking about.  If I understand the procedure correctly, the rights are supposed to be allocated through competitive bidding and are exercised through private companies.  (See the Wikipedia article http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oil_and_gas_law_in_the_United_States .)

I don’t know how much revenue is obtained from present extraction or whether it could be expanded.  I suppose one could look it up, but it’s not immediately visible on such pages as http://www.usgovernmentrevenue.com/ , which leads me to believe that it may not be very significant.  Note that in some areas, like petroleum and logging, there is a good deal of controversy about the environmental effects of even the present level of activity.

Report this
ThomasG's avatar

By ThomasG, July 17, 2010 at 3:11 pm Link to this comment

Foucauldian, July 17 at 7:00 pm,

Blah.

Report this
ThomasG's avatar

By ThomasG, July 17, 2010 at 3:06 pm Link to this comment

Foucauldian, July 17 at 6:30 pm,

What is it, in your subjective world of non-reality, that YOU call all of the public land and assets of the United States that are held in common for all of the people of the United States?——start with the National Forests and the National Parks, and work your way from there through all of the other assets of the United States of America.

Report this

By Foucauldian, July 17, 2010 at 3:00 pm Link to this comment

“... there are thousands like Anarcissie that do not and would probably fight to the death in the name of patriotism to defend privatized capitalism, even though, as part of the American Populace, privatized capitalism does not serve their best interests.”

You are a fool, ThomasG; and anyone who pays any heed to you is an equal fool.”

There has been nothing whatever in any of the Anarcisse’s comments to suggest the kind of stance you’re accusing her of.  You ought to apologize.

It’s becoming quite apparent that you can’t stand rejection, and when you’re faced with the natural reaction - because your ideas don’t amount to jack shit - you hit below the belt.

You’ve just exposed yourself for the kind of person you are, not that I entertained any doubts judging by your initial response to my post when you questioned my “understanding.”  I tried, God help me, tried to stir you up against my better judgment.  And so I stand by my original verdict:  you’re a simpleton.

Report this
ThomasG's avatar

By ThomasG, July 17, 2010 at 2:45 pm Link to this comment

Shenonymous, July 15 at 9:27 pm,

I am pleased, Shenonymous, that you seemingly understand and agree with the concept of “social capital” and “socialized capitalism”; this is a beginning.

However, broad understanding in the masses is necessary to effect constructive change and the reality is that outside of the American Nobility and the Professional Middle Class, there is little or no understanding of what capital is, whether it is “social capital” or “private capital”.  The reality is that Anarcissie is the rule, rather than the exception to the rule, and that broad awareness in the masses of the American Populace is necessary in order for capital in the form of “social capital” and “socialized capitalism” to serve the greater good of the masses of the American Populace; until broad awareness in the masses of the American Populace with regard to “social capital” and that “socialized capitalism” can serve their best interest, and that “private capital” and “privatized capitalism is serving only the greater greed of a select few, rather than the greater good of the American Populace as a whole, change to a NEW SYSTEM of Social Capital and Socialized Capitalism will be a while coming.

The problem is how does mass awareness within the American Populace with regard to “social capital” and “socialized capitalism” take place? ——Because the reality is that for every one person that understands “social capital” and “socialized capitalism” there are thousands like Anarcissie that do not and would probably fight to the death in the name of patriotism to defend privatized capitalism, even though, as part of the American Populace, privatized capitalism does not serve their best interests; this is the way things are in the United States and if this problem is not dealt with, it will deter implementing the wide spread use of “social capital” and “socialized capitalism”.

Report this

By Foucauldian, July 17, 2010 at 2:30 pm Link to this comment

Again, “land held as a communal resource of the United States” is convenient ThomasG fiction - no connection whatsoever to reality.

Don’t you realize the absurdity of most of your propositions?  How many times do you have to be hit on the head with the proverbial hammer before you disengage?  Your insolent persistence in taxing the average reader’s patience - and yes, I’ll proudly count myself among that number, I’m an average Joe compared to you - is clearly reaching the limit.  Is there no limit to your insolence? 

Actually, insolence is a wrong term since it implies superiority.  There’s nothing of the kind in you.  You are a victim, ThomasG., of your own exaggerated, self-impressed view of the self.  The sooner you’ll disavow yourself of this image, the sooner you’ll rejoin the human race.

There’s always hope.

And BTW, you still haven’t answered the leading question:  Why should George Soros or the American Left provide you with computer, resources, and staff?  The inquiring minds want to know.

Report this
ThomasG's avatar

By ThomasG, July 17, 2010 at 1:59 pm Link to this comment

Shenonymous, July 17 at 2:37 pm,

“can the value growing out of natural resources by their sale or exchange be used to produce a revenue stream? —Shenonymous July 17 2:37 pm

The answer to this question, Shenonymous,  is without equivocation, YES; rather than seemingly intrinsic. 

Examples are the purchase of rights to oil, minerals, trees, etc. on land held as a communal resource of the United States and in all of these instances the revenue that is received from all of this “social capital” indicated is then used as a consumable, rather than as a Capital Asset to increase Capital holdings; depleting Capital Revenue from Capital Assets in pursuit of consumption must end.

Report this

By Foucauldian, July 17, 2010 at 1:54 pm Link to this comment

Anarcisse,

You might want to take the following - http://www.capitalism.eu/ - as a point of departure. 

Your thoughts?

Report this

By Foucauldian, July 17, 2010 at 1:05 pm Link to this comment

I did provide an answer, and the answer was Yes - labor is the requisite part of making anything “an asset.”  I don’t want to accuse you of suffering from reading comprehension.  Let’s not go there yet.

As to your quote: “If your answer is No, you might want to discuss your understanding of Capital Assets with the IRS,” my answer is:  Why should I accept IRS’s definition of things, given they represent the system which is dangerous to our health?

It would seem that in spite of your best humanitarian instincts, you’re digging your way deeper and deeper into the rabbit hole.  To put it plainly, you’re cutting your nose to spite your face.

So which is it, ThomasG?  Are you for the people or is you not?  Make up your mind!  You can’t have it both ways.  You can’t straddle the fence forever.

Report this

By Foucauldian, July 17, 2010 at 12:56 pm Link to this comment

“If the United States held another forest in Common Ownership for the people of the United States . . .”

Conceptual niceties aside, but how to you propose to establish “Common Ownership” you speak of? 

Thus far, there has been only one kind of “Common Ownership” of late - taxing the public and adding on to the public debt to be repaid by future revenue stream.  That’s the only inheritance we The People hold “in common.”

It’s about time to get real.  You can’t espouse theories, however good they may sound on paper, apart from the present realities.  However sound the concept, it ludicrous when so detached.

Besides, the “prodigal son” parable you keep on referring to just doesn’t ring true.  Granted, there are many obstacles to attaining “understanding,” but likening Anarcisse to your hypothetical “young man,” trying to “avoid responsibility” - what responsibility, one is tempted to ask - is ludicrous as well.

Perhaps, truth be told, you’re not as good at explaining your concepts and making yourself as clear as you may have supposed.  Perhaps, just perhaps, the onus is on you, ThomasG., not your intended audience.  Perhaps, just perhaps, it’s time for improving your communication skills rather than having to rely on endless repetition to make yourself heard.  Ultimately, if you stick to the present mode of proceeding, you’re liable to convince no one but yourself.

Report this
ThomasG's avatar

By ThomasG, July 17, 2010 at 12:56 pm Link to this comment

Foucauldian, July 17 at 3:05 pm,

“Foucauldian, can the assets mentioned in your post be sold or exchanged for value as rude products, prior to labor being applied to them to impart added value? —Yes or No.” —ThomasG July 17 2:28 pm

We are talking here about Capital.  As I told Anarcissie, limit yourself to the discussion of assets that provide a revenue stream, Capital, and how they do or do not provide a revenue stream.

I asked you a simple question and you did not provide an answer.  Assets by virtue of their use are either assets of personal property that do not provide a revenue stream or assets that by virtue of their use do provide a revenue stream, for example the means of production and distribution.

Are assets that provide a revenue stream, such as the means of production and distribution, Capital Assets?—Yes or No.

And, if so, are forests, minerals, and other assets that provide a revenue stream in a like manner Capital Assets? —Yes or No.

If your answer is No, you might want to discuss your understanding of Capital Assets with the IRS, because during the time that I was part owner of a nursery, the IRS classified our stock of trees as Capital Assets and I am quite certain that if we had owned a forest that the trees in that forest would also have been classified as Capital Assets, if we had been receiving a revenue stream from the sale of the trees.

Report this
ThomasG's avatar

By ThomasG, July 17, 2010 at 12:25 pm Link to this comment

Anarcissie, July 17 at 3:08 pm, and Anarcissie, July 17 at 2:14 pm,

“I want to know what you mean by capital, assets, revenue stream, and so forth, so I can understand and evaluate your proposals.  That’s why I’ve asked for examples.  The only sort of capital I know which produces a revenue stream with virtually no labor is finance capital, and even with that it is debatable whether monetary investment is really labor-free.” —Anarcissie July 17 3:08pm

If YOU owned and managed a forest in a measured way, and YOU sold the trees as rude products for wood, paper, etc.; the trees in the forest would be capital assets, and YOU would receive a revenue stream from their sale; therefore, the trees in YOUR forest would be an example of “Private Capital”, because the trees are assets that provide a revenue stream.

If the United States held another forest in Common Ownership for the people of the United States and sold the trees in the same manner, the trees would be examples of “Social Capital” because the sale of the trees would also provide a revenue stream.

Try to limit yourself to what I have said, rather than what I have NOT said, focus is the key to understanding.

If you cannot distinguish that the trees in both forests are Capital Assets, and ascertain the difference between the Communal Ownership and Private Ownership of the trees, distinguishing the difference between “social capital” and “private capital”; I do not know what to tell you other than that, perhaps, you may be related in some way to the young man I told you about in an earlier post.

Again, focus is the key to understanding.  If you want to understand, stick to the topic of capital, rather than to add obfuscatory elements to sidetrack the conversation; this is what the young man did that I told you about in an earlier post that in the end said that he did not want to acknowledge understanding that would hold him to a higher standard of performance.

Report this
ThomasG's avatar

By ThomasG, July 17, 2010 at 11:18 am Link to this comment

Shenonymous, July 17 at 2:00 pm,

“Is that really “rude” products rather than “crude” products?  I don’t understand the use of the word rude.” —Shenonymous July 17 2:00 pm

Rude products according to “The Wealth of Nations” by Adam Smith are products in a natural state, rough, wild.

With regard to your complaint about the computer screen, ours does the same thing——damned Roman Gremlins are everywhere.

Report this
Anarcissie's avatar

By Anarcissie, July 17, 2010 at 11:08 am Link to this comment

ThomasG, July 17 at 2:13 pm:

‘Anarcissie, July 17 at 12:51 pm,

What does your post about capitalism really mean; if, as you say, you do not understand what capital is and how it can be causally applied?’

I want to know what you mean by capital, assets, revenue stream, and so forth, so I can understand and evaluate your proposals.  That’s why I’ve asked for examples.  The only sort of capital I know which produces a revenue stream with virtually no labor is finance capital, and even with that it is debatable whether monetary investment is really labor-free.

Proceeding on the assumption that that was what you meant, I hypothesized an interpretation of your proposal, which you said was incorrect.  So I’ve taken a step back, and I’m trying to get you to explain what you mean by those words and the concepts they represent.  Examples will help me check my understanding of the concepts.

Report this

By Foucauldian, July 17, 2010 at 11:05 am Link to this comment

“. . . can the assets mentioned in your post be sold or exchanged for value as rude products, prior to labor being applied to them to impart added value? —Yes or No.”

If they have to be mined prior to exchange, definitely.  Even leasing the property, which implies ownership, involves labor in terms of drawing the necessary contracts as to lease or the sale, not to mention the labor involved in setting up the exchange mechanisms, the idea of markets, etcetera and etcetera.  The hard & fast distinction you’re pressing for is too strained.

As Anarcisse has aptly pointed out, value is a symbolic construct.  It’s something we humans create, and what counts as value varies from society to society. 

There is no such thing as “intrinsic value.”  “Man is the measure of all things,” a presocratic philosopher had once said.

Report this
Shenonymous's avatar

By Shenonymous, July 17, 2010 at 10:37 am Link to this comment

How is it determined who owns natural resources?  Isn’t it through
some action of power?  I always led to believe, probably erroneously,
that possession is 9/10 of the law (natural or otherwise, I don’t know
if there even is “natural” law and tending to be a Darwinist, I doubt it.)
Even though the Native Americans had in their possession the land of
the natural resources for probably centuries, at some time in their
migration they assumed proprietorship.  Because a land is unoccupied
does that then create a natural law of ownership, even if it is assumed?
All that notwithstanding, when Europeans pushed the Native Americans
out, or rather bludgeoned their way in, that did not give them any
natural right to ownership either.  So then the ruling practical precept
is “to the victor goes the spoils.”  The taking away of natural resources
is a historic human behavior, and actually occurs among beings less
than human, so it is a natural disposition and innate behavior that
leads to Quesnayian physiocracy.

Restating ThomasG’s first sentence July17, 1:58pm: Apart from labor,
that is, removing it as having asset value, can the value growing
out of natural resources by their sale or exchange be used to produce a
revenue stream?  The answer seems to be intrinsic to the notion of sale
or exchange.

Adding in the labor quotient seems to really decrease the value since
labor needs nourished and housed and kept healthy (or discarded when
fallen into ill health but then replaced), or beaten by a slave driver who
then would also need nourished, housed and kept healthy, all of which
reduces the net profit.  Seems like a vicious cycle.

Report this
ThomasG's avatar

By ThomasG, July 17, 2010 at 10:28 am Link to this comment

Foucauldian, July 17 at 1:41 pm,

“Natural resources, “rude products,” require labor, mining, etc, to make them useful.  The earth has to be tilled to reap the benefit, farm animals tended, wild animals hunted down.  Air and water constitute exceptions.” —Foucauldian July 17 1:41pm

Foucauldian, can the assets mentioned in your post be sold or exchanged for value as rude products, prior to labor being applied to them to impart added value? —Yes or No.

Report this

By Foucauldian, July 17, 2010 at 10:25 am Link to this comment

This conversation is getting ridiculous.  It’s beating a dead horse to death.  Gods spare me from one-track minds.

Shenon, just a suggestion.  Let’s not discuss the “total picture,” which invariably happens when you or I are trying to present a polished POV.  Let’s rather take one point at a time and construct anew from the building block.  I believe I’m capable of answering most of your questions concerning the “Two Lectures,” but you must take the lead.

And BTW, I beg to differ with you concerning your methodology.  When confronted with novel material, I think the best strategy is to suspend judgment, if only for a time, in order to become submerged in the text and, if possible, to become transformed thereby.  (It’s no wonder that some texts are worth reading and re-reading.)  One can always resume one’s critical mode at a later time.  And when that happens, at least you will know what you’re objecting to, having given the text its full due.

As Derrida had once said, “there is nothing outside the text.”

Report this
Anarcissie's avatar

By Anarcissie, July 17, 2010 at 10:14 am Link to this comment

Nothing has innate value except those things which value themselves, that is, sentient beings—animals.  All other value is the result of the evaluation of a sentient being.

Resources are created by coming to an understanding of the physical world.  Before the value of petroleum was understood, it was worthless and therefore not a resource.  That understanding is usually achieved by labor, and thereafter the resource is extracted and turned into wealth (value) by labor.

Some things have great value, but require very little labor to acquire (air) so they have no exchange value.  The more labor is required to acquire or produce something, the higher its exchange value is likely to be, that is, the more it is likely to exchange at par with something else that requires a lot of labor.

Finance capital deviates from these principles in some ways.

This stuff can be found in The Wealth of Nations and Capital, both of which are freely available on the Net in numerous places.

Report this
ThomasG's avatar

By ThomasG, July 17, 2010 at 10:13 am Link to this comment

Anarcissie, July 17 at 12:51 pm,

What does your post about capitalism really mean; if, as you say, you do not understand what capital is and how it can be causally applied?

Report this

By Foucauldian, July 17, 2010 at 10:09 am Link to this comment

“. . . because from what I can gather, it is the collectivizing of these knowledges into a blurred whole that prevents seeing problems clearly that hides the historical struggle that accompanies the content of criticism and the tyranny (power) that takes
over due to the concealment.”

Excellent point, Shenon, and it’s great you’ve singled it out.  It’s one of the major cultural critiques of the postmodern era to be able to turn any form of resistance on its head, as it were, and to co-opt it.

See introduction to Methodology of the Oppressed, as per Google-books, in particular, Frederick Jameson’s Manifesto - e.g., http://homepage.newschool.edu/~quigleyt/vcs/jameson/jameson.html.

Report this
Shenonymous's avatar

By Shenonymous, July 17, 2010 at 10:00 am Link to this comment

I don’t know why, and probably never will, but the page format for
this particular forum (it only happens occasionally on the TD forums,
equally mysteriously) that was incredibly wide on my very wide
computer screen has now reverted to its normal width and I can
actually see the desktop again.  It is fascinating why it happens then
just as fascinating when it corrects itself.  I am highly skeptical of
mysteries but this is one I have to accept.  Are there really computer
gods?  Are they Roman?

Is that really “rude” products rather than “crude” products?  I don’t
understand the use of the word rude. 

Anarcissie that was excellently and clearly explained.  I do appreciate it. 
It is enough for me to integrate into some coherent way to think about
capitalism.  Actually better than anything I’ve read recently.

The novice catching up with the terminology:  The employee stock
owned plan employee stock ownership plan, ESOP (a program under
which employees regularly accumulate shares and may ultimately
assume control of the company).

Since I advocate that major change in a country as large as the US can
only come about at a local level through local elections, and other
political actions, these ESOPs initiatives seem consistent with that idea.
I read the website and it seems innovative, not that it is new, apparently
it has been going on for a while but has not blossomed into megalithic
proportions.  A couple of problems I see:  how to avoid takeovers by a
few of the investors, what if a corporation comes to buy out the plan
(business), how are conflicts between/among members resolved, what
is to prevent the plan from becoming just another corporation with the
same genesis of problems as all corporations? 

Never impressed nor have much appreciation to read/hear just one side
of an ideological debate, hence I am skeptical of all ideologies.  As
Steve Jobs just said about the “fix” he gave to repair the iPhone 4and I
quote, “nothing is ever simple, no matter what it is, it turns out to be
more complex than anyone can imagine.”  I sit comfortably on the fence
waiting to hear essences and weighing whether I can reasonably
integrate them into my own understanding of the world.  This is how I
define having an open mind.

I don’t understand in Foucault is how “we” have become witnesses
to the insurrection of subjugated knowledges; how have “we” come
to see the “historical contents that have been buried and disguised in a
functional coherence, formal systematization?  Is he using we in a
peculiar collective noun tense meaning himself as among all of us?  I
see deconstruction as a kind of skepticism of a certain type.  It is the
how that is the wonderment.  Thank you Roger, I will check out the
links today, think about them then get back to the conversation.  I can
absorb only so much after which, then, it makes my brain go to mush. 
I hope you all have enjoyable physical hobbies to expel some of the
energy that builds up sitting at a computer.  I don’t usually share
anything about my private life, save my profession of teaching, I am so
proud that I’ve completed building a model sized wooden geodesic
dome, 42” in diameter and 21” in height.  It does not have any function
at all except perhaps as a thing of contemplation. I was once a math
major and I have a huge appreciation for the geometry that is inherent
in its building as well as its beautiful appearance.  Hexagons,
pentagons, triangles, circles, etc.  I am a hobbyist woodworker and love
the tools of the trade and to work with the material, it is always a
meditative exercise.

Report this
ThomasG's avatar

By ThomasG, July 17, 2010 at 9:58 am Link to this comment

Anarcissie, July 17 at 12:40 am,

Can the value growing out of natural resources, the enate value of assets, apart from labor be used to produce a revenue stream by their sale or exchange? 

What if you were a Native American that owned the natural resources of the North American Continent, and those assets were taken from you and used by Europeans as capital assets to produce a revenue stream?  Who is it, according to your claim, that provided the labor to produce the capital assets, natural resources, that were the natural resources taken from the Native Americans? ——God? ——— or, were the assets of natural resources that the Europeans took from the Native Americans “social capital” that were used to provide a revenue stream by their sale and exchange as rude products, prior to the use of labor and the process of manufacture to impart added value?

Report this

By Foucauldian, July 17, 2010 at 9:41 am Link to this comment

“If what you say is true that capital (sic) cannot exist without the fruit of labor, how do you explain natural resources that, as rude products, provide a revenue stream as a capital asset?”

Natural resources, “rude products,” require labor, mining, etc, to make them useful.  The earth has to be tilled to reap the benefit, farm animals tended, wild animals hunted down.  Air and water constitute exceptions.

Report this

By Foucauldian, July 17, 2010 at 9:32 am Link to this comment

You might start with comment #508, Shenon, same BC
thread.  Lots of what follows is on the order of
asides, so you can just skip it; eventually, we get to
discuss the subject article

Report this

By Foucauldian, July 17, 2010 at 9:17 am Link to this comment

It didn’t pick up the long links.  You can still copy
and paste to access the sites.

Report this

By Foucauldian, July 17, 2010 at 9:15 am Link to this comment

OK, here’s the link, Shenon:
http://www.allacademic.com//meta/p_mla_apa_research_cit
ation/1/5/0/5/8/pages150589/p150589-1.php, “On Power
and Violence:  Arendt contra Fanon.”

You might pick up the thread at this point: 
http://blogcritics.org/politics/article/bye-bye-miss-
american-pie-part2/comments-page-9/#comments, starting
with post #398.  I’ll try to narrow it down in the next
post.

Report this
Anarcissie's avatar

By Anarcissie, July 17, 2010 at 9:10 am Link to this comment

Shenonymous, July 17 at 11:14 am:

‘.... So then, as a more acceptable alternative, would the government of the people…for the people” be ruled by a committee?’

Well, that’s the idea of a republic.  However, whether we look at Rome, the Soviet Union, or the United States, we observe that powerful unitary states tend to evolve (or devolve) into what are effectively monarchies.

Lincoln had a quasi-mystical view of the Union which reminds me of Hegel’s famous “es ist der Gang Gottes in der Welt, daß der Staat ist.”  (Hegelians tell me I’m not allowed to translate this, but as you can guess it means something like “God’s way in the world is what the State is.”  For more, just copy and paste the phrase into Google, and you’ll get enough reading for a lifetime or two.)  And he himself, of course, is very much an image of the sacred monarch, a savior who is sacrificed and deified.  That he was also a sharp railroad lawyer gives the story a particularly American flavor.

Report this

By Foucauldian, July 17, 2010 at 9:07 am Link to this comment

“Natural” scarcity, I’d argue, is a capitalist myth so as to legitimize the system.  And we all know, of course, that “artificial” scarcity is just that - artificial.  It’s the product of our marketing and advertising industries, manufacturing artificial needs.

Report this
ThomasG's avatar

By ThomasG, July 17, 2010 at 9:00 am Link to this comment

ofersince72, July 17 at 12:40 am,

““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.”” ofersince72 July 17 12:40am

If what you say is true that capital (sic) cannot exist without the fruit of labor, how do you explain natural resources that, as rude products, provide a revenue stream as a capital asset?

Report this
ThomasG's avatar

By ThomasG, July 17, 2010 at 8:59 am Link to this comment

ofersince72, July 17 at 12:40 am,

““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.”” ofersince72 July 17 12:40am

If what you say is true that capital (sic) cannot exist without the fruit of labor, how do you explain natural resources that, as rude products, provide a revenue stream as a capital asset?

Report this
Anarcissie's avatar

By Anarcissie, July 17, 2010 at 8:51 am Link to this comment

Shenonymous—I think capitalism (as we know it, or perhaps as the Chinese know it) is the most likely and efficient way to organize production at a certain level of cultural and technological development.  At a lower level, most production is agricultural or “vernacular” and we observe feudalism or slavery.  At a lower level still, we observe bands of hunter-gatherers.

However, capitalism not only promotes continued technological and industrial development, but speeds it up.  This presents the capitalist ruling class with a problem, because the source of their power and wealth is the organization of production to overcome scarcity.  As they succeed, they destroy the basis of their power.  It becomes necessary for them to find new markets (for both goods and capital), new consumers, new resources, new technology.  Marx thought that this self-consumption, this contradiction, would lead to the collapse of capitalism, after which the working class, led by Communists, of course, would just assume power.

Capitalism did indeed come upon some very hard times, but Communists did not take over: fascists did, a sort of crazed reversion to feudalism.  More recently violent superstitions have come into fashion.  Elsewhere, however, capitalism saved itself by transitioning from subsistence capitalism (in which capitalists oversee the production of obviously useful goods) to consumer capitalism (in which scarcity is deliberately created through consumerism, as well as through the more traditional methods of waste, war, and imperialism.)

As long as scarcity, natural or artificial, can be found or created, capitalism will rule (unless it destroys too much, in which case we will fall back into feudalism or tribalism).  Capitalism, “super” or not, will appear to be universally victorious.  However, behind the victory will stand a monstrous fact: we already possess the means to be living in a material paradise, one in which scarcity of basic goods and services does not exist and in which capitalists and the capitalist state and their flogging of the people from the factory to the mall and back again are unnecessary.  That monster will grow, year by year and day by day, and as it grows the ruling classes will become more and more desperate to hide it, suppress it, keep it off.  Dangerous times, but very interesting.

Report this

By Foucauldian, July 17, 2010 at 7:32 am Link to this comment

PS:  No special “synthesizing skills” involved, Shenon.
I’ve been living with the postmodernist thought for two
years now.  Naturally, I internalized it.

Report this

By Foucauldian, July 17, 2010 at 7:29 am Link to this comment

You’re revisiting old grounds, Shenon.

I’ll shortly provide a link to an incisive article
linking Arendt and Franz Fanon (and therefore, Foucault
too), as well as to a subsequent discussion of those
issues on Blogcritics.

Report this
Shenonymous's avatar

By Shenonymous, July 17, 2010 at 7:16 am Link to this comment

Good Saturday Morning. Two posts.
1.
Not that he is The Living Authority, but one who I’ve recently
encountered, Hernando De Soto, Peruvian economist’s theory seems
to ring true.  I love the recursive story within a story in his book,
Why Capitalism Triumphs in the West and Fails Everywhere Else
(said in a good spirit everybody might read it including ofersince72). 
There are probably an unending abundance of books to read, I just ran
across this one.

The Story:  “In the years after the American Civil War, a lecturer
named Russell Conwell crisscrossed America delivering a message that
stirred millions of people.  He told the story of an Indian merchant who
had been promised by a prophet that he would surely become rich
beyond all imagining if only he would seek his treasure.  The merchant
traveled the world only to return home old, sad, and defeated.  As he
re-entered his abandoned house, he needed a drink of water.  But the
well on his property had silted up.  Wearily, he took out his spade and
dug a new one—and instantly struck the Golconda, the world’s greatest
diamond mine.

  Well hyperbole being what it is for the sake of a good story to
dress up a book on economics, this story is not true.  The truth is that
Golconda is a huge diamond mine in India.  There is diamond mining in
the United States, and the most successful one is in Arkansas, Crater of
Diamonds, that is open to the public.  The first diamond was found by
John Huddleston in 1906, the enterprise did not do too too well but
occasionally a diamond is found.  The largest a 3.03 carat was found in
1990 by Shirley Strawn, a visitor, and the most recent was a 1.11 carat
by a 9-year old girl in June 2006.  BTW:  The real story of Golconda can
be in Lonely Planet South India, Plunkett, et al.

Nevertheless, De Soto goes on:  ”Conwell’s message is a useful one
(anyway) .  Leaders of the Third World and former communist nations
need not wander the world’s foreign ministries and international
financial institutions seeking their fortunes.  In the midst of their own
poorest neighborhoods and shantytowns, there are—if not acres of
diamonds—trillions of dollars, already to be put to use if only the
mystery of how assets are transformed into live capital can be
unraveled.”

De Soto say that capitalism is the only feasible way to rationally
organize a modern economy.  I realize I am conditioned to agree with
him.  De Soto theorizes that “no responsible nation has a choice.” 
Whether enthusiastic or not about it, “third world former communist
countries have balanced their budgets, cut subsidies, welcomed foreign
investment, and dropped their tariff barriers.”  This renewal has mostly
met with utter failure but these measures works in the West.  Why it
work here but not there is the thesis of this book.  However, De Soto
does make the observation that devising a strong legal system is the
way a populace who are getting screwed by the corporate world is the
only way, only guarantee that is, to put prosperity in their own hands. 
This seems a sibling to the ESOPs where the local yokels take commerce
into their own hands. 

The balance of power changes as populations migrate.  And as the
leviathan of education catches the ignorant up about their world, that
also affects the balance of power and it permanently changes the nature
of the society as the old species is lost.  I call education a monster
because those who would keep the masses ignorant to provide more
“work” assets.

Report this
Shenonymous's avatar

By Shenonymous, July 17, 2010 at 7:14 am Link to this comment

2.
ThomasG has explained his program, but there is still much to
think about.  I have pulled out all of his comments since June 27
and will read them as continuous to see what sense I can make of
the theory he is offering. 

Foucault:  From Lecture One, I can extract that he is interested in
critique of the human condition that finds it genesis in what he
describes as local popular knowledges, not commonsense as it were,
but “low-ranking knowledges,”… “particular, local, regional
knowledge…incapable of unanimity,” because from what I can gather, it
is the collectivizing of these knowledges into a blurred whole that
prevents seeing problems clearly that hides the historical struggle that
accompanies the content of criticism and the tyranny (power) that takes
over due to the concealment.  However, he uses such elaborate verbal,
and literary devices I might add, as an edifice to say what could be said
much less complicated.  To borrow from Anarcissie and apply it to the
postmodernist special patois, as one becomes more metaphorical,
though, precision is lost, and it becomes harder to define what is being
talking about. 

It is curious why Foucault focused on the penal system, psychiatry, and
particularly infantile sexuality as the ‘content’ of criticism?  I only make
a connection and surmise it is because of his homosexuality and the
deep persecution he may have felt from time to time for there could be
dozens of other topics on which to build his critical construction, or
rather deconstruction.

I have found Hannah Arendt, his contemporary, much easier to
understand when it comes to the concept of power and how that works
at the “local” level for people to be able to act in concert.  I think this
is, maybe, what ThomasG gets at.  I don’t know.  I’m just feeling my
way, so to speak.  I feel like I am swimming in turbid waters f’sure.  I
envy your, Anarcissie’s, and ThomasG’s understandings of these ideas
and ability to synthesize judgments about them. 

{i]”… 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”  So then, as a more
acceptable alternative, would the government of the people…for the
people” be ruled by a committee?

Report this
Anarcissie's avatar

By Anarcissie, July 17, 2010 at 7:10 am Link to this comment

troll, July 17 at 10:44 am:

‘Given Thomas’ usage, workers are all capitalists establishing revenue streams by selling their asset—labor.’

That doesn’t seem to be what he’s talking about, for we have (ThomasG, July 13 at 1:06 am):

‘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….’

The mention of money (second word) and its qualification as being at the disposal of the U.S. government, was the reason I went off into a hypothesis about taxation to raise finance capital.  But ThomasG says that’s wrong.  Hence I am waiting for some examples of the correct view.

If we’re talking about the labor power or ongoing labor of the people, though, how is the government going to capture this asset?  It’s already being used to provide a revenue stream for the individuals who do the labor (and those who trade with or exploit them, or are dependent on them).  I don’t think many people are going to want their labor power to be nationalized.  In any case ThomasG said “communal” not individual.  See above.

Report this

By Foucauldian, July 17, 2010 at 7:05 am Link to this comment

A heck of a conversation, guys.  I like the turn it
is taking, thanks to good ole Abe.  Quite a person he
must have been to have held such revolutionary views. 
It’s good to know, and it deserves wider circulation.

Capitalism indeed has been subject to a radical
makeover, thanks to the armies of tireless
propagandists, to the point of having acquired a
friendly, benign kind of face.  Even Robert Reich in
his recent book, <i>Supercapitalism</\i> - you can do
google-books for excerpts - speaks of merits of
capitalism (despite the fact that it thwarts our
democracy), somehow failing to discern the intimate
if not inherent connection between the two, thinking
it merely accidental.  It’s a superficial analysis at
best, and Reich is a pretty bright, well-meaning
fellow.

A couple posts ago, ThomasG/MarthaA made a posting. 
They declared with pride that capital assets - such
as money - are the only kind of assets which can
produce a revenue stream without there being a need
for labor.

Aside from the basic inaccuracies surrounding that
statement - taking for granted, for example, the
existence of a financial system capable of turning
profit in terms of interest (and labor involved in
the mechanisms which make it possible) - the authors,
so it seems, regard this “churning of money” as one
of the system’s greatest feat.  The proper view is
and ought to be - it epitomizes the system’s greatest
corruption, a symptom of its disease.  It’s little
wonder that the authors’ views are cockeyed, as
cockeyed as their little parable of “the prodigal
son.”

Anyway, it’s great to see the introduction of labor
into the discussion as the ultimate source of
(economic) value.  Let’s never forget it.

Report this
troll's avatar

By troll, July 17, 2010 at 6:44 am Link to this comment

Given Thomas’ usage, workers are all capitalists establishing revenue streams by selling their asset—labor.

Report this
Anarcissie's avatar

By Anarcissie, July 17, 2010 at 6:26 am Link to this comment

If you consider labor to be an “asset”.  The word isn’t usually used that way, but if we become a bit metaphorical it’s not hard to view the ongoing process of labor as an asset, or labor power (the capacity, time and energy to do labor) as an asset.  As we become more metaphorical, though, we lose precision and it becomes harder to define what we’re talking about.  For instance, you can put material assets on the books of a business, but it’s more difficult to evaluate potential labor, and one usually can’t deal with it (for instance, by selling it) as one can material assets.

Report this
troll's avatar

By troll, July 17, 2010 at 5:57 am Link to this comment

ofersince72, given Thomas’ definition, isn’t labor capital?

Report this

Page 2 of 8 pages  <  1 2 3 4 >  Last »

Newsletter

sign up to get updates


 
 
Right 1, Site wide - BlogAds Premium
 
Right 2, Site wide - Blogads
 
Join the Liberal Blog Advertising Network
 
 
 
Right Skyscraper, Site Wide
 
Join the Liberal Blog Advertising Network
 

A Progressive Journal of News and Opinion   Publisher, Zuade Kaufman   Editor, Robert Scheer
© 2014 Truthdig, LLC. All rights reserved.