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View Diary: Another plea for postcapitalism: Richard Smith in Truthout (77 comments)

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  •  Re (0+ / 0-)

    All humans consume a certain amount of oil, electricity, metals, health care resources, water, etc regardless of the economic system you're in. It's just a law of physics. If you want people to have access to a high living standard, they are simply going to consume those things. You have to ignore "money" because it isn't a real thing: goods and services predicated on a natural resource base are.

    A thought experiment I often run is "under a new economic system, how will distribution of these resources be different/better?"

    Is some socialist system going to stop economic growth or what? Capitalism isn't the cause of environmental degradation. Under a socialist or whatever system people will still be exploiting resources the same as they are now. They mathematically must, or living standards will fall and people will complain about the new economic system even more than the old one.

    There's no reason that there can't be economic change with the current number of humans on the planet that would have significant impact on our collective future.
    This is just a blanket assertion. You have to run the scenarios to see.

    (-5.50,-6.67): Left Libertarian
    Leadership doesn't mean taking a straw poll and then just throwing up your hands. -Jyrinx

    by Sparhawk on Sun Jan 19, 2014 at 07:03:57 AM PST

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    •  Your assumption is teleological. (0+ / 0-)

      There is no reason for most of the accoutrements of our high standard of living other than buying and selling of said accoutrements, and there certainly is nothing that says that we have to buy immediately degradable and cheap ass plastic that won't last a season's worth of use.

      But capitalism says we must.

      Who says a better standard of living means having more things? Capitalists, that's who.

      Who says having a higher standard of living says we will use more dirty fossil fuel or dangerous nuclear energy? Capitalists, that's who.

      Who says we can't spare the tens of billions of dollars to feed the planet? Capitalists, that's who.

      I'm not saying moving to a sustainable economy it's easy, I'm saying it's possible.

      Democracy - 1 person 1 vote. Free Markets - More dollars more power.

      by k9disc on Sun Jan 19, 2014 at 08:43:36 AM PST

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      •  Re (0+ / 0-)

        Capitalism doesn't "say" anything. It's not a person.

        Who says a better standard of living means having more things? Capitalists, that's who.
        Everybody says that, and bear it out in their personal choices of how to live their lives. Besides, what "things" are you claiming we don't need? Pots? Pipe organs? Shoes? iPads?

        The things you blame "capitalism" for are just ordinary human nature.

        (-5.50,-6.67): Left Libertarian
        Leadership doesn't mean taking a straw poll and then just throwing up your hands. -Jyrinx

        by Sparhawk on Sun Jan 19, 2014 at 11:26:56 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  Capitalism as it now exists encourages consumption (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Cassiodorus, triv33

      I'm not sure whether advertising is a necessary aspect of capitalism, but as it exists today, capitalism and manipulation of desire are very closely entwined.  I have frequently wondered how much money has been spent in the advertising industry learning how to make people consume.  In any case, advertising, and by expansion much of the entertainment industry, trains habits of mind which are the opposite of what would be needed for humans to live less compulsively, more realistically, less greedily.  Artificial needs are created, so that resources go into plastic surgery, unnecessary exercise tools sitting in the attic, an automobile 5 times larger than is necessary.  How much people consume is determined in large part by the culture in which they live, and the culture that capitalism spawns turns out to be a culture of conspicuous consumption.  The historical and geographical variability in per capita consumption is enough to demonstrate that the laws of physics alone do not determine how much each individual consumes.

      Secrecy is a hot bed of vanity. - Joseph Brodsky They who have put out the people’s eyes reproach them for their blindness. – John Milton 1642

      by geomoo on Sun Jan 19, 2014 at 11:29:53 AM PST

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      •  Ah (0+ / 0-)

        The "everyone except me is brainwashed" objection to capitalism.

        A "culture" is just the sum of all individual preferences. Under less restrictive economic systems, people are allowed to express their free preferences in a market. Under more restrictive systems such as those presumably being proposed here, the government substitutes it's own preferences.

        (-5.50,-6.67): Left Libertarian
        Leadership doesn't mean taking a straw poll and then just throwing up your hands. -Jyrinx

        by Sparhawk on Sun Jan 19, 2014 at 11:58:22 AM PST

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        •  I'm sorry to see bullshit creep into the discussio (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          triv33
          The "everyone except me is brainwashed" objection to capitalism.
          I have little interest in continuing if this is just another "I'm so  right and you're so wrong" exercise.  If capitalism is the best humans can do, then we probably deserve to perish.  In any case, I made some points which deserved more serious response than twisting of my words to make it about me.

          Your more restrictive/less restrictive smoke and mirrors makes me think of the Indonesian gangsters in the great documentary The Act of Killing.  They were most interesting when talking about what the word "freedom" meant to them.  To them, it was all about being able to do whatever they felt like doing, including in their cases, brutal murder of millions, the kind of idea of freedom that toddlers enjoy before the realities of the world beat it out of them, just as mother nature will soon kick our asses.  It's a false dichotomy, the more restrictive/less restrictive definition.  There are always restrictions imposed by reality, Mr. It's Just Physics--the question faced is who is restricted and by how much relative to who else.

          In any case, enjoy your infinite growth.  I wish there were a sideline for me to watch you take yourself down, but sadly, my children and I will be along for the ride as well.

          Bye.

          Secrecy is a hot bed of vanity. - Joseph Brodsky They who have put out the people’s eyes reproach them for their blindness. – John Milton 1642

          by geomoo on Sun Jan 19, 2014 at 03:35:45 PM PST

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          •  I don't think there will or can be infinite growth (0+ / 0-)

            I just don't buy that capitalism is somehow incompatible with a steady state economy with zero growth. In fact, capitalism is probably better suited to that state of affairs than any strong(er) government control economy. When economic actors are free to make their own decisions (within reason) better outcomes are achieved (I think).

            I have little interest in continuing if this is just another "I'm so  right and you're so wrong" exercise.  If capitalism is the best humans can do, then we probably deserve to perish.  In any case, I made some points which deserved more serious response than twisting of my words to make it about me.
            It's not about you, it's about the point that you made that suggests that Americans are "compulsive" and "greedy" based on blandishments of advertising by the capitalist agenda. This implies that you believe that all Americans exist under some massive propaganda cloud and are brainwashed by it.

            If this isn't what you think, please clarify, but it sure sounds that way to me...

            (-5.50,-6.67): Left Libertarian
            Leadership doesn't mean taking a straw poll and then just throwing up your hands. -Jyrinx

            by Sparhawk on Sun Jan 19, 2014 at 04:12:51 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  What does a majority of economic actors ... (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              geomoo

              ... being free to make their own decisions have to do with capitalism? Modern capitalism is about putting those decisions in the hands of privately elected governments.

              Support Lesbian Creative Works with Yuri anime and manga from ALC Publishing

              by BruceMcF on Sun Jan 19, 2014 at 04:52:15 PM PST

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            •  Okay (0+ / 0-)

              When you ascribe my views to necessarily meaning that I feel superior, then that makes it about me.  Not that it matters, but I am well aware of the effects of advertising because I experience them myself, just like everybody else.  That's why I watch very little television.  I hope I don't have to apologize for noticing things.

              You speak of economic actors being free to make their own decisions.  Do you think this is the situation in America today, that economic actors are free to make their own decisions?  How are the small stores on main street doing in your town?  Do you think a group of us, even with plenty of capital, would find ourselves free to enter the health insurance market and compete on a level playing field with the established players?

              I'll leave it to Cassiodorus to discuss what happens in late stage capitalism, but we are seeing the results in the decline of open competition, in regulatory capture, etc.  All too often, freedom of action for one entity means lack of such freedom for their competitors.  Are the banks "free" to collapse as a result of their reckless behavior?  In short, I think this notion of freedom is largely unexamined, based on a childish understanding of what freedom is, and most importantly, does not exist for the vast majority of actors in the system.  I would like to see those who love freedom so much embrace an open discussion about which economic system works better rather than deploying armies, torturers and death squads to prevent countries from trying the systems of their choice.

              As to society being merely a collection of individuals, that is simply wrong.

              Thanks for explaining yourself and responding with substance.  I'm letting this go now.  I'll read whatever you write.

              Secrecy is a hot bed of vanity. - Joseph Brodsky They who have put out the people’s eyes reproach them for their blindness. – John Milton 1642

              by geomoo on Sun Jan 19, 2014 at 04:54:20 PM PST

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              •  Thanks for good conversation (0+ / 0-)

                I have some pretty significant work stuff happening now so it is unlikely I can continue to give this conversation the attention it deserves. Maybe another time :)

                (-5.50,-6.67): Left Libertarian
                Leadership doesn't mean taking a straw poll and then just throwing up your hands. -Jyrinx

                by Sparhawk on Mon Jan 20, 2014 at 02:33:17 AM PST

                [ Parent ]

        •  Because everyone knows advertising doesn't work. (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          triv33, geomoo

          The advertisers are spending about $495 billion each year on advertising, globally, and it's all for nothing, because "the market" is determined by "free choice" and not by advertiser persuasion.

          Right?

          "If you sing a song a day, you will make a better way" -- Earth, Wind, and Fire

          by Cassiodorus on Sun Jan 19, 2014 at 03:46:23 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

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