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Conservatives like to talk about Slavery. They like to talk about it quite a lot.  They say that the Affordable Care Act is a form of Slavery, that Social Security is a form of Slavery and that the Federal Debt is a form of Slavery.  I like to think they're just over-reacting - but lately I've begun thinking they may have a point.  Not that their correct about the reasons, but they aren't absolutely wrong about the direction that we're all heading.

We like to think we've evolved past that particular practice.  We like to assume that it was merely a temporary aberration in our forward path, but the fact is that Slavery - in many forms -has been with us, as a species, for Millenia.

It's discussed in the Bible and all history texts where the practice was used. It was quite common in fact.  In was used Ancient Egypt with the Israelites, With the Empire of Rome, it was a practices on many continents by many peoples.  Usually it was used as an alternative to death or imprisonment for those loosing troops after a war.  Some times is was used as a method to punish debtors.  For time in the 16th Century it was used as a method to mortgage oneself temporarily in exchange for passage to the new world.   We all know that in America it took a particular dark racial turn which was somewhat unique in it's flavor but not necessarily unique in the reasons for the practice being used an the reason that it turned.

In most of these cases the underlying reasons for the use of the practice  was not enmity or hatred, it's was simply a practical financial transaction.  Just as a person labor was a sellable commodity, so could the person themselves become a commodity.  It's was simply - business.

And it seems in many ways and in many countries, even today in the 21st Century, business is booming.

Here's original article that inspired me to pursue this subject.

http://www.rawstory.com/...

Modern-day slavery isn’t distant to us, we are all implicated, whether we want to be or not. We all carry mobile phones which contain the element ore coltan. Coltan is only largely available from mines in Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) rife with slavery and child labour. The clothes on our backs are similarly polluted. The cotton harvest in Uzbekistan, which feeds the production of many garment manufacturers is brought in each year by the forced labour of children. The mills that spin such cotton into thread in southern India are often run on the enslavement of girls and young women.

The situation is equally bad in the factories of Delhi in north India where children are routinely employed to do embroidery work. Police often raid such factories, not to resuce the children though, but rather to extract bribes from the owners.

The manslaughter, enslavement and torture of vulnerable workers in the global south, many of them children, to produce goods for the high streets of the global north is a result of business’ ceaseless search for cheap production, scarce commodities or both.

The ceaseless search for Cheap Production, but then I guess it's all alright since it's all Out of Sight, and Out of Mind.

Out there - Far Away, where it eventually ends up in our iPhones, iPads and cotton underwear.

I'm sure we were all horrified when we heard of the Bagladesh Factory collapse and the many hundreds killed in the tragedy, but how many of have stopped to seriously wonder - "How many U.S. companies were helping improve their bottom line by employing that factory to produce their goods more cheaply?"

Well, this many...
Frustrated by a lack of action by the government, worker advocates have pressured the companies importing the garments to take steps to make workers safer. One proposal, called The Bangladesh Fire and Building Safety Agreement, would create a legally binding and rigorous independent inspection and oversight system. It would also allow workers to refuse to work in dangerous conditions. (Efforts to unionize workers in Bangladesh have largely been met with hostility or worse; last year labor rights activist Aminul Islam was tortured and murdered.) Inspections would be funded by as much as $500,000 per year from each company.

But only two companies have signed onto the agreement, short of the four necessary for it to take effect. Wal-Mart, Gap, H&M, JCP, Abercrombie and Kohl's are among the companies that have refused to sign on, instead taking their own steps to address worker safety. (The companies that have signed on are Tchibo, a German retailer, and PVH Corp., which owns Calvin Klein and Tommy Hilfiger.)

A year after this disaster which killed over 400 people, and hardly anything has been done to correct the abuses and corruption that led to it, and continue to put many thousands at risk today.  It is pretty much as if it didn't happen at all.

Yet we are not disconnected from this.   We make financial choices to improve our own comfort and convenience, which in our ignorance and insouciance directly impact the living quality of people around the globe. And at home. Certainly we complain when a U.S. factory is shutdown only to be replaced with a far cheaper, and far less safe factory overseas. We rail at NAFTA and CAFTA, but do we truly see what it is that we are actually fighting?

A hundred years ago it was the Triangle Shirt Waist Fire, which left the street littered with the bodies of seamstresses who had been left locked in their workplace as a blistering fire raged, forcing them ultimately to leap to their deaths.  

Then 40 years ago there was the Cuyahoga River Fire, which had become so polluted that the water burned.
More recently we've had the Deep Water Horizon Spill which took the lives of 12 workers on the rig, and did untold damage to the Gulf.
And the Upper Big Branch Mine explosion that killed 43 men in New Zealand West Virginia.
And then the Texas Furtilizer  Plant Explosion in near Waco that injured over 100 people, and killed 15. (h/t comments)
And the West Virginia Chemical Spill that exposed 300,000 people to a toxic solution.
We can see what is going on with the Suicide Nets that surround the Foxxconn Plant in China were parts for the iPhone are assembled.
All of these things, we're and are avoidable.  All of them were on some level, the result of the constant drive to smash down costs, at the expense of the lives and safety not just of the workers on site, but of the surrounding communities.  They are all merely symptoms of a much deeper rot, a much deeper structural flaw - they are all the results of Capitalism without Conscience.

If we didn't have record breaking corporate profits at the same time as our wages stagnate, and those with like the Koch brothers who have more money than they'll every be able to count thanks to their DADDY's business are spending $Millions to make it so many of the rest of us can't get healthcare, or can't get to the ballot box, then one might be to argue that our current form of capitalism is working just fine.  But it isn't.

We like to tell ourselves we've learned our lesson, that we know better than this.  That what happened 150 years ago, or 400 years ago isn't who we are anymore.  The Randian Conservatives like to tell us that eventually, the Market will take care of all of this itself, that we just need to give it a little more time.  Someday, it'll all just "get fixed", and we don't need community standards, or government regulations, or inspectors, or taxes to pay for those inspectors or worker safety rules, or to make sure that the minimum wage at least keeps up with price inflation, or workers compensation, or pensions or health care mandates.

The Market will just fix all of this.  Any minute now.

My clock might be slow, or just plain broken, but it seems to me that raw naked greed has been allowing for the extraction of wealth by the powerful to the financial and physical detriment of nearly everyone else has continued hardly without pause for at least the last 4000 years.

It doesn't look to me like we're moving forward, it looks to me like much of the business community, the 1 percenters who think they've got it so much worse than anyone else, are doing everything they can think of to drive us backwards, back into the bad old days - without government or union or consumer protections - with just the Free-For-All Magic Hand of the market to guide our fates.

And that's exactly what they'll get - if we don't use our voices, and hearts, and our minds to turn this train around back toward justice, humility, equity and respect for those who get the hard jobs done and does them well.

Vyan

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (140+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    a2nite, TheGreatLeapForward, LeftieIndie, GoGoGoEverton, crystal eyes, TheHalfrican, a gilas girl, Glen The Plumber, genethefiend, ZedMont, anodnhajo, concernedamerican, hubcap, hannah, The grouch, CA Nana, peregrine kate, nosleep4u, Kristina40, DKBurton, kharma, ask, Margd, ashowboat, mwjeepster, Navy Vet Terp, Nailbanger, Bluesee, eightlivesleft, Wee Mama, doroma, bibble, mattc129, sodalis, Involuntary Exile, maryabein, pioneer111, middleagedhousewife, Liberal Thinking, oortdust, gizmo59, IndieGuy, gloriana, buckstop, Nattiq, shaharazade, BluejayRN, LynChi, 88kathy, AWilson, opinionated, swampyankee, Syoho, Dartagnan, puakev, irate, JerryNA, Catte Nappe, LibrErica, GeorgeXVIII, tuesdayschilde, Ian Reifowitz, Darwinian Detrius, USHomeopath, David54, oslyn7, Polly Syllabic, WheninRome, Paul Ferguson, millwood, Sun Tzu, ferg, The Jester, where4art, Brooke In Seattle, cotterperson, OllieGarkey, No one gets out alive, greycat, farmerhunt, SouthernLiberalinMD, JusticeSeeker68, this just in, mkor7, Lily O Lady, YucatanMan, Joy of Fishes, Hayate Yagami, greengemini, Mimikatz, prettygirlxoxoxo, get the red out, poligirl, Sylv, greenbastard, snoopydawg, Statusquomustgo, lcrp, La Gitane, Cofcos, StateofEuphoria, lunachickie, TXdem, Sam Hill, Farugia, Habitat Vic, papercut, winglion, camlbacker, Timmethy, Luma, Geenius at Wrok, yoduuuh do or do not, Einsteinia, old wobbly, wilderness voice, peachcreek, Eric Nelson, SeaTurtle, Gowrie Gal, dotsright, DerAmi, grape crush, Bule Betawi, deeproots, The Rational Hatter, ksp, spacecadet1, DAO, Simplify, wader, WB Reeves, Nowhere Man, Nancy Green, HCKAD, semiot, blue muon, NBBooks, Wino, ZhenRen
  •  In the future, Wal-Mart will have slave quarters (15+ / 0-)

    and the store manager will have the option of selling your children in the clearance rack when profits slow.

    I'm joking, of course.

    ....

    ........

    ...........I hope?

    Well, at least it'd be a little more racially diverse this time. :p

    "See? I'm not a racist! I have a black friend!"

    by TheHalfrican on Thu Feb 13, 2014 at 06:40:08 AM PST

  •  Don't forget (11+ / 0-)
    And then the Texas Furtilizer  Plant Explosion in near Waco that injured over 100 people.
    that in addition to the injured 15 people were killed.

    Ted Cruz president? Pardon my Vietnamese, but Ngo Pho King Way.

    by ZedMont on Thu Feb 13, 2014 at 06:49:27 AM PST

  •  Ironic how the Koch fueled Tea Party is based on (24+ / 0-)

    a fiction of rekindling the American Revolution,
    when the actual intent is to destroy it.

    We are losing our American dream to the spin doctors.

    If cats could blog, they wouldn't

    by crystal eyes on Thu Feb 13, 2014 at 06:50:02 AM PST

  •  Complicated subject. (3+ / 0-)

    Unfortunately there was good slavery and bad slavery. Some slavery was like an internship. Some places you could sell yourself into slavery, invest the money; then buy yourself out and make a profit. Some places you were a slave yet a beloved part of the family.

    I know it seems like antics with semantics, but when you look at historical slavery, you have to look at it carefully. When we talk about slavery, we know what we mean. The forced and brutal kind.

    We're fools whether we dance or not, so we might as well dance.

    by PowWowPollock on Thu Feb 13, 2014 at 06:50:25 AM PST

    •  Indentured servitude was not really slavery (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      opinionated, JerryNA, JG in MD

      For one thing, in the Constitution, indentured servants were counted as whole people, not as 3/5 of a person.  Much of the slavery in the Bible is really indentured servitude, with people selling themselves to pay off debts, with release from both debts and servitude in the seventh year.  In colonial times, indentured servitude allowed a lot of poor British and other Europeans to come here, work for seven years, and then get on with their lives as Americans.  And I would hazard that a slave owner who had indentured servants as well as slaves treated his indentured servants a hell of a lot better.

      "Corporations exist not for themselves, but for the people." Ida Tarbell 1908.

      by Navy Vet Terp on Thu Feb 13, 2014 at 07:25:08 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  There was no good slavery (9+ / 0-)

      One thing is to say that some forms of slavery were not as bad as other ones6, but to say there was a "good" slavery is at best naive.
      HAs a loved pet more rights than a not loved one?

    •  The only beloved member of the family who was (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      mkor7, Nowhere Man

      expected to scoop the family poop.

      Now they have the 2nd (safety net for sloppy) Amendment, and can't be infringed to actually treat their gun like a gun and not a video game controller.

      by 88kathy on Thu Feb 13, 2014 at 07:53:18 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  what a load of nasty bs. (9+ / 0-)

      Slavery of any kind is not 'good'. The lesser evil that allows humans to buy back their freedom or purchase their ability to make a living as a worker ? Bejeezuz I ought to freaking troll rate your absolutely anti human jaw dropping comment but these days this garbage passes as the inevitable world ordinary people must embrace. Indentured servitude for what? The profit of the owners of the place. How about we just use the population of privatized for profit prisons to run our sweat shops domestically instead of off shoring our slave labor?  

    •  It's kinda like saying... (4+ / 0-)

      There were good dictatorships.

      “Socialism never took root in America because the poor see themselves not as an exploited proletariat but as temporarily embarrassed millionaires.” - John Steinbeck

      by RichM on Thu Feb 13, 2014 at 07:59:26 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  In theory at least, there can be. (0+ / 0-)

        I don't know if any historical dictatorship qualifies, though.

        •  Not really. (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          chmood, Sam I Am

          In order to sustain a dictatorship even a "benevolent" dictator must surround himself with people willing to suppress the human rights (voting, free speech, etc.) of the general population. Eventually it becomes necessary for him to appease them and the benevolence then dissipates.

          Just parenthetically, I don't think even a liberal democracy is  immune to a similar dynamic and this is why it is difficult for well-meaning elected politicians to effect the kind of change that they and their supporters originally aspire to. Power, even in a democracy, is an interlocking web of accommodation and exchange among those who wield widely distributed centers of authority.

          The world is a den of thieves and night is falling. -Ingmar Bergman

          by Pirogue on Thu Feb 13, 2014 at 09:30:52 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  it's a vicious cycle (0+ / 0-)

            It starts with the kind of people who object to dictatorship in and of itself, while the majority don't much care about the inner workings of the system and instead judge it on how well it keeps the peace, keeps the store shelves full, and keeps people able to buy food and things.  The dictator obviously is motivated to simply stay in power, and surveillance, checkpoints, censorship, etc. follow much as they would in a democracy with individuals and groups explicitly dedicated to the overthrow of the government, because governments in general are unlikely to tolerate that.

            But instead of blaming the malcontents for the oppression like the dictator wants, people blame the dictator; much as people in a democracy blame the government for rules that thugs and bankers make necessary.  With every petty grievance, dissatisfaction grows, and when being a hard-working and law-abiding citizen doesn't get the police state off your back, you have a new resistance member.

            Domestic politics is the continuation of civil war by other means.

            by Visceral on Thu Feb 13, 2014 at 09:42:47 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

          •  Voting isn't a human right as such. (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            chmood, AoT, happymisanthropy

            The consent of the governed is a human right, but voting is only one of many ways that can happen.  (Arguably the best way we've figured out so far.)

            There's also no reason to assume a dictator would have to suppress free speech or any other human right in order to maintain the dictatorship; it's just depressingly likely that they would.

          •  Sometimes dictators are in fact loved (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            hmi

            by the populace at large. There are a great many cases of this throughout history. I would point to various emperors in China that were good. Simply being elected or not being elected doesn't make one good or bad.

            Alternately, sometimes elected officials are hated and have to use force of arms to suppress large parts of the population. I'd point to our history, especially that of slavery to prove that point.

            If knowledge is power and power corrupts, does that mean that knowledge corrupts?

            by AoT on Thu Feb 13, 2014 at 12:24:30 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

      •  Just like those enlightened feudal aristocracies (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        happymisanthropy

        trying to stay alive 'til I reach 65!

        by chmood on Thu Feb 13, 2014 at 10:16:23 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  Dictatorship of the proletariat? n/t (0+ / 0-)
    •  I know what you mean, but phrasing it like that (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      YucatanMan, jplanner, Ahianne

      is going to get you nothing but moral repugnance.

      Granted, slavery in ancient Rome could be more like being a servant than anything else, and you could buy your way out of it, and granted, the form of slavery we had in the American South has got to be one of the most heinous forms of slavery I've ever heard of, (even more disgusting than the mere fact of slavery is making slavery into something that gets passed down through bloodlines), you can't really say "good slavery."

      I tried to go online to find a similar bear head...but when I searched “Big Bear Head” it gave me a San Diego craigslist ad entitled “Big Bear needs some quick head now” and then I just decided to never go on the internet again.--Jenny Lawson

      by SouthernLiberalinMD on Thu Feb 13, 2014 at 09:39:42 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  All of these things, we're avoidable. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Sparhawk

    Not everything is avoidable. There will be fires and workplace deaths forever. We can try to minimize the amount of carnage, but it won't ever go to zero.

    But I think if you look at the statistics, safety has impoved markedly over time. You can't tell is progress is being made by a few anecdotes. You need comprehensive data.

    •  It has improved in some industries... (6+ / 0-)

      while it has regressed in others.  Again, we like to think we're constantly moving forward, but that isn't always exactly true.

    •  Why should there be? (8+ / 0-)
      There will be fires and workplace deaths forever. We can try to minimize the amount of carnage, but it won't ever go to zero.
      Why should any workers be forced to work within substandard buildings which collapse of their own weight, due to a corrupt and greedy owner?

      Why should any workers be forced to work within firetraps.

      Will there be accidents? Sure. All of life is a risk for an accident. Every now and then, one or two people perish due to an accident.

      But let's be clear:  The working conditions at FoxConn are not an accident. They are intentional.

      The working conditions of the garment workers in poorly constructed buildings is not an accident. That was an intentional decision by the owner to save himself a little money.

      It appears as though you are attempting to belittle these awful mass deaths by talking about "accidents."

      The Deep Water Horizon blowout was not an accident. It too was an intentional short-cutting of time, money, effort, and equipment that caused the explosion and fire killing those men.  

      In every case I've cited, there is an intentional decision being made to put human lives at risk through greed for more money.  And that is no accident. That's capitalism at its finest.

      Capitalism is only about money. Nothing else. Capital is money.  It has no consideration nor concern with human beings.  Anything watching out for human beings comes from other forces.

      "The law is meant to be my servant and not my master, still less my torturer and my murderer." -- James Baldwin. July 11, 1966.

      by YucatanMan on Thu Feb 13, 2014 at 09:55:45 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  There are too many humans. The human market is (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        a2nite

        flush - drunk - irrational exuberance in human markets.

        That's the really scary thing. There are so many people that we are literally worth less every day.

        There is more to life than ROI.

        Great comment - there's a lot of ugly intentional and unintentional sitting on this thread.

        Great piece, Vyan.

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

        by k9disc on Thu Feb 13, 2014 at 11:59:24 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  I'm not sure the issue is "regulation." (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Batya the Toon, JG in MD

    To regulate is to make regular -- i.e. routine and predictable, unlike nature, which is random and unpredictable.

    Humans, because their brains are capable of memory, have a preference for their surroundings/environment to remain constant, so that, as they move around, what they remember is easy to find again.
    In a sense, our cognitive capabilities are nature's enemy. Whether or not they turn out to be our own worst enemy is still to be seen.

    Slavery is really nothing more than human husbandry, keeping our own kind, as well as other species, in place in order for them to be easily exploited. I don't think it's intentional. People just don't think what it means to keep other people under tight control. If they can do it ideologically by persuading people to chain or subjugate themselves, then there's not even any evidence.
    Or think of people strapped into their cages on wheels, trundling from home cage to work cage without giving a thought to the fact they are locked up and, in having assented to the right to drive a car, have consented to being stopped and rousted by any cop who's got a good reason to do so.
    Human husbandry comes in many flavors. Not everyone agrees that all men are created equal and possess human rights which everyone else is supposed to respect.

    It's not that human nature is bad. It is what it is and it may just be that our roots in habitual behavior which forges invariable behavior out of repetition set us up to be bad. Exploitation may just be a bad habit that people get away with because there's not sufficient interest in halting abuse.
    After all, even the victims excuse it with the rationalization that "what doesn't kill me, makes me stronger."

    http://hannah.smith-family.com

    by hannah on Thu Feb 13, 2014 at 06:57:24 AM PST

    •  Nonsense (9+ / 0-)
      not sure the issue is "regulation."
      Unless you really want to Word-Dance some more, and say the problem is actually a LACK OF regulation.

      Regulations we had for over 50 years being gutted right and left.

      This isn't rocket science.

      This all started with "what the Republicans did to language".

      by lunachickie on Thu Feb 13, 2014 at 07:35:22 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Present mess (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        k9disc

        The present mess was not created in the last decade. Regulation has been a faux solution.
        Some behaviors towards people and other living things just have to be prohibited.

        The question should not be how many toxins can we spread before they're too much. The law should be "don't spread toxins." Just for example, of course.

        http://hannah.smith-family.com

        by hannah on Thu Feb 13, 2014 at 07:57:07 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  So (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          happymisanthropy

          this isn't a "regulation"

          The law should be "don't spread toxins."
          But this is?
          how many toxins can we spread before they're too much.
          Yes, perhaps a better "example" is in order?

          This all started with "what the Republicans did to language".

          by lunachickie on Thu Feb 13, 2014 at 08:01:30 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Right, the first is a prohibition. (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            k9disc

            Regulations presume the behavior is beneficial, especially if engaged in routinely and premitted.

            The first presumes that behavior, especially when engaged in by an industrial enterprise, is bad.
            The second merely suggests it might get bad, if not properly regulated.
            The second countenances the state executing human beings, as long as the proper procedure has been followed.
            I prefer to presume that killing is bad and intentional killing is worse.

            http://hannah.smith-family.com

            by hannah on Thu Feb 13, 2014 at 08:52:05 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

      •  The issue is democracy. (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        lunachickie, happymisanthropy

        When they said "small government" they meant "might makes right."

        I tried to go online to find a similar bear head...but when I searched “Big Bear Head” it gave me a San Diego craigslist ad entitled “Big Bear needs some quick head now” and then I just decided to never go on the internet again.--Jenny Lawson

        by SouthernLiberalinMD on Thu Feb 13, 2014 at 09:41:03 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  And they can stick that meme, too (2+ / 0-)

          because you don't have to have a "large government" to have freakin' common-sense, protect-the-general-public-from-harm regulation.

          Or whatever you want to call Those Things Someone Bought Away From the Government that allowed them to protect the General Public to begin with.

          Oh, man. Word games. Infuriating that people made whole fucking careers beating our language into submission to suit some narrative or another, often with little more than a dictionary and a thesaurus...

          This all started with "what the Republicans did to language".

          by lunachickie on Thu Feb 13, 2014 at 10:24:40 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  It's much more than a dictionary and a thesaurus. (0+ / 0-)

            The word Economy as we know it came into use in the 20th century, after this PR blitz started in 1916-17.

            There's a hundred years of language pounding, 70 of it went on with no real overlap in political messaging. That changed in the 80s.

            It was polling, focus groups, learning theory, marketing, and behavioral economics, and that wasn't some guy with a dictionary and thesaurus.

            Weak communicators use the thesaurus and dictionary. Strong communicators use metaphors with an understanding of values.

            Framing is not dishonest. It is effective communication.

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

            by k9disc on Fri Feb 14, 2014 at 12:51:04 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

  •  Columbia Law Prof says heading for slavery-free? (6+ / 0-)
    In the first place, Gibbon said, the Romans had carried with them into slavery the culture of a free people—their language and their conception of themselves as human beings presupposed freedom. And thus, Gibbons says, oppressed as they were by the weight of their corruption and military violence, the Romans yet preserved for a long time the sentiments, or at least the ideas, of a freeborn people. In the second place, the empire of the Romans filled all the world, and when that empire fell into the hands of a single person, the world was a safe and dreary prison for his enemies. As Gibbon says, to resist was fatal, and it was impossible to fly.
    We have NSA which is a military operation as described by the author
    The power of that Roman Empire rested in its control of communications.......
    control of communications
    That power eradicated human freedom. "Remember," says Cicero to Marcellus in exile, "wherever you are, you are equally within of the power of conqueror."
    The empire of the United States, the global empire that followed from victory in the Second World War, also depended upon control of communications. Possibly the greatest military lesson of the Second World War was that he who has access to his adversaries' military communications prevails. At every level, from the tactical artillery duel to the greatest strategic naval confrontations in the Pacific, the new pace of warfare gave victory to the one who knew the other side's plans first.

    This was all the more obviously crucial in the development of the power to rule the world when, a mere twenty years later, the empire of the United States was locked in a confrontation of nuclear annihilation with the Soviet empire—a war of submarines hidden in the dark below the continents, capable of eradicating human civilization in less than an hour in an imperial confrontation whose rule of engagement was "launch on warning." Thus it was that the Empire of the United States came to have precisely the same view of the effort to render everywhere pervious to American power that had been the view of Emperor Augustus. And our listeners aspired to everything.

    4 part lecture entitled Snowden and the Future. Video, audio and pdf

    http://snowdenandthefuture.info/...

    all of the above is in the first 10 minutes of a 4 hour lecture

    •  very helpful, dm, tx (0+ / 0-)

      "The corporate state’s repression, now on the brink of totalitarianism, would with the help of Christie, his corporate backers ... become a full-blown corporate fascism.' http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/the_trouble_with_chris_christie_20140112

      by SeaTurtle on Thu Feb 13, 2014 at 03:40:55 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Slavery is an extreme form of exploitation (15+ / 0-)

    i.e. taking something that's not yours because you can (and want to), due to a massive power discrepancy between you and those whom you exploit. This can only happen in an environment in which exploitation is possible, due to a lack of appropriate laws and regulations prohibiting it, and proper enforcement mechanisms, and honest, effective and empowered enforcers, to prevent it. Take any of these away, and exploitation invariably follows, including slavery, because that's what human nature dictates, the powerful and morally corrupt exploiting and enslaving the weak. So it follows that slavery, like all forms of exploitation, naturally follows a lack of proper laws, rules and regulations, and the means by which to enforce them. 100% of the time, because the realities of human nature will always make it so. To trust in peoples' better angels is to invite evil to take over. ALWAYS.

    "Reagan's dead, and he was a lousy president" -- Keith Olbermann 4/22/09

    by kovie on Thu Feb 13, 2014 at 07:05:38 AM PST

    •  This is a pretty crucial concept: (6+ / 0-)
      To trust in peoples' better angels is to invite evil to take over. ALWAYS.
      There will always be people who will do the right thing, but there will never be a lasting situation where everybody does the right thing.

      There are systems which could work beautifully if everybody always did their best for themselves and each other, but will inevitably lead to abuses -- because any given group of people will inevitably include the lazy, the greedy, the cruel, and the stupid.  The best systems are therefore the ones that minimize the harm that can be done by laziness, greed, cruelty and stupidity.

      •  An optimistic system is a broken system (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Ahianne, Vyan, Batya the Toon

        This is as true in computer science as it is in political science. One has to plan for and account for "inefficiencies" and "bugs" in any given real-world situation in designing a way to manage it properly.

        A tiny bug can bring a computer program to its knees if not handled well--and there will always be bugs. That's why well-designed software has lots of error checking and handling code to deal with such inevitabilities.

        Same for politics. For government to work properly and well, it has to plan and account for various undesirable elements, including the ill will and action, as well as stupidity, incompetence and laziness, and just plain human frailty, of its officials, and citizens, some of whom will screw up unintentionally, and some intentionally. It's why we have laws, regulations and other mechanisms.

        Remove regulations and bad things ALWAYS happen. Anyone who believes in a self-regulating real-world system is a literal moron.

        "Reagan's dead, and he was a lousy president" -- Keith Olbermann 4/22/09

        by kovie on Thu Feb 13, 2014 at 10:45:41 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  I mean bad things will always happen (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          kovie

          even with regulations / error checking.  (The computer programming metaphor is a pretty good one.)  Total prevention isn't a realistic goal; minimization is a necessary one.

          •  That's a given (0+ / 0-)

            Planes will crash, people will die in car accidents, prescription drug patients will have adverse side effects, etc.--and that damn Android app will crash every few hours. The point is to minimize it to the extent possible.

            And we don't have that right now in the financial and corporate world, because too many politicians are either in their pockets, or too afraid of them to try to regulate them properly. It's not about it's being impossible. It's about a lack of will and morality on the part of too many of our leaders. They either don't care, or lack courage. They've been bought or intimidated, and what few leaders are genuinely trying to fix things and can't be bought or intimidated, are still too few in number and power to do much about it. They need our help, and that of enough Americans to make a difference. But too many people just don't care, or are unwilling to help, or even vote.

            The same assholes who do most of the bellyaching when things go south.

            "Reagan's dead, and he was a lousy president" -- Keith Olbermann 4/22/09

            by kovie on Thu Feb 13, 2014 at 02:51:12 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

  •  Republican "Democrats" fighting for TPP (6+ / 0-)

    A List of the Republican ‘Democrats’ Who Fight For Obama's Secret Trade Deals, And For Wall Street

    Now that President Obama no longer needs to pretend to be a progressive in order to retain his Democratic voting base for another election (since he has already had his last election, in 2012), he can finally afford to be more forward about his actual conservatism, and so he is increasingly allying publicly with Republicans on Capitol Hill, against Democrats there. They don’t like it.
    •  They don't like it? (0+ / 0-)

      Did they expect something else?

      Like Obama, or Clinton that matter, gives a shit about the fortunes of the Democratic party.

      I tried to go online to find a similar bear head...but when I searched “Big Bear Head” it gave me a San Diego craigslist ad entitled “Big Bear needs some quick head now” and then I just decided to never go on the internet again.--Jenny Lawson

      by SouthernLiberalinMD on Thu Feb 13, 2014 at 09:41:51 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Excellent diary Vyan. This needs to go viral. (5+ / 0-)

    If debugging is the process of removing bugs, then programming must be the process of putting them in.

    by kharma on Thu Feb 13, 2014 at 07:10:15 AM PST

  •  Correction? (9+ / 0-)

    The Upper Big Branch Mine explosion was in West Virginia.

    New Zealand suffered the Pike River Mine disaster.

    Growth for the sake of growth is the ideology of the cancer cell. --Edward Abbey

    by ricklewsive on Thu Feb 13, 2014 at 07:22:39 AM PST

  •  Capitalism Values Only Property (8+ / 0-)

    "Capital" is property. "Capitalism" is a value system that values property.

    Everything is either property, or labor, or nature. Except when labor is property: that's slavery.

    (Or when nature is property, but we don't see that because nature is where capitalists dump their costs rather than on their own property. Capitalists want nature to be public property so the public pays the costs outside of the capitalists' property, including keeping nature prepared for becoming property.)

    We have seen capitalists trash everything in the way of their property and their rights in it. Nature is clobbered, and labor is oppressed. They will make property of labor again.

    "When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro." - HST

    by DocGonzo on Thu Feb 13, 2014 at 07:26:00 AM PST

    •  nature as such doesn't exist for the capitalist, (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      shaharazade, Visceral

      because only exchange value exists. If they could sell the planet to martians then they would probably advertise it "as is".

      •  Nature Exists (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Musial

        Nature is everything that's not property or labor. It's where capitalists externalize costs to other than to labor, which can sometimes resist.

        This is Adam Smith's categorization, still the most accurate model of economics.

        Capitalists will sell the rope used to hang them. But sales and exchange are subsidiary to the fundamental categories available to them.

        "When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro." - HST

        by DocGonzo on Thu Feb 13, 2014 at 09:41:23 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Tipped & rec'ed (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    shaharazade, Eric Nelson

    nosotros no somos estúpidos

    by a2nite on Thu Feb 13, 2014 at 07:32:09 AM PST

  •  "The market" is not some magical unicorn that (6+ / 0-)

    can fix everything.  It is, in fact, an economic theory that works great to optimize economic results - for the things that can be measured with economics.

    "The market" can optimize profits, and invest capital, and drive productivity and creativity.  And it does those things pretty well.

    But we don't have economic measures for human rights, quality of life, environmental protection, infrastructure development for the common good, or many other things.  They don't get measured and they don't get optimized.  This is not a failure of the market, any more than a fish that cannot fly is a failure.  It's just not what the market does.

    So who does these things?  Government does - and needs to.

    Someone here has a good sig line, from Einstein I think - "Not everything that matters can be measured, and not everything that can be measured matters".   "The market" is very successful at some things, but not at everything - and the things it doesn't do still matter.

    We need that balance.

    •  Quicksand and the zeitgeist (0+ / 0-)

      I have a clear adult memory of the changing zeitgeist in the 1980s. I remember looking at a local church and imagining it sinking into mud as commercialism rose around all that was public, both secular and spiritual.

      I remember thinking "What? How can bankers use the same money for profit that they take from us for safekeeping?" Not in so many words, but again feeling quicksand.

      In economics class ca 1970 we learned about "externalities" and I squeaked at the professor that those factors were as real as any other. "We agree to disagree," he said.

      So now the whole world is sinking into "agree to disagree." Talk about "not with a bang but a whimper..."

  •  Capitalism (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Nattiq, AoT

    Is the seek of more profit. By any means you can get away with. Slavery is present though in all societies capitalist or not. In capitalism though slavery becomes a commodity. It has lead, with other factors, to the destruction of pseudo democracies like in the Roman Republic

  •  very timely (4+ / 0-)

    I've long believed that indentured servitude, if not slavery on a basis other than race, will make a comeback in the developed world.  We'll find some Orwellian way to call it "freedom," just like we've found ways to excuse the surveillance state.  We have a system, for example, which encourages or forces millions of people to incur debts at interest which they never will be able to pay back. Without bankruptcy, where else can this logically go?

    Another argument is that slavery will be revived once the era of cheap, plentiful energy ends and things like agriculture become labor-intensive once again.

    A terrible beauty is born. --W.B. Yeats

    by eightlivesleft on Thu Feb 13, 2014 at 07:48:40 AM PST

    •  What is (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Pirogue, Eric Nelson

      undocumented agricultural stoop labor but slavery?

    •  I agree. (3+ / 0-)
      We have a system, for example, which encourages or forces millions of people to incur debts at interest which they never will be able to pay back. Without bankruptcy, where else can this logically go?
      The poor today live under a system not much different in effect from the "company store" of the last century. I remember Ernie Ford's song "Sixteen Tons" in the 1950's that had the line "I owe my soul to the company store". I was too young at the time to quite understand how pernicious the system was of selling at inflated prices on endless "credit" to ensnare the worker in a cage of debt from which there was little hope of escape.

      Today, unfettered capitalism has given us the  payday loan industry, the used car dealers that sell the same car over and over to people they know can't meet the payments, the "debt counselors",  the distressed credit credit card issuers, all working on the same slimy level as the old time company stores.

      The situation is even worse for undocumented workers who live under multiple levels of intimidation and exploitation.  

      I would love for some  libertarian conservative to name the market forces that will change all this absent regulation. Is anyone silly enough to think we can rely on the all but nonexistent consciences of the slick operators who run these sad enterprises.  

      The world is a den of thieves and night is falling. -Ingmar Bergman

      by Pirogue on Thu Feb 13, 2014 at 10:16:52 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  asdf (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Visceral

    The Israelis were not slaves in Egypt. The pyramids were not built by slaves.  The whole basis for your bible is a lie.

  •  Small nit... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    elsaf
    In was used Ancient Egypt with the Israelites
    I may be wrong on this, but I believe the only evidence we have of Jewish slaves in Egypt is the Bible itself.  I don't think any thing has been found in Egypt's records.

    And yes - slavery is NOT incompatible to capitalism.  It may be that Marx is right and it is the inevitable end result.

    “Socialism never took root in America because the poor see themselves not as an exploited proletariat but as temporarily embarrassed millionaires.” - John Steinbeck

    by RichM on Thu Feb 13, 2014 at 07:57:50 AM PST

    •  You are correct (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      RichM, happymisanthropy

      The pyramids were not built by the Israelites. They were built by farmers working in the off seasons from planting, and free skilled workers. (Free, as in not slaves.)

      It is widely believed that the stories of Exodus were concocted during the Babylonian captivity more or less as a "we've been through worse than this" pep talk.

      The ancient Egyptians had a somewhat socialist economy that was often supported by massive public works projects that saw to it that the masses had food and beer. The government stored grain to distribute to the people during droughts and famines.

      The Egyptians were meticulous record keepers, and if they had enslaved, then lost the services of 600,000 adult workers, they would have written about it and we would have archaeological evidence.

      Wealth doesn't trickle down -- it rises up.

      by elsaf on Thu Feb 13, 2014 at 10:39:28 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Slavery is the extreme inevitably (4+ / 0-)

    of capitalism. Labor is more valuable than money.

    Let's say you have $1 billion dollars. Is that a lot of money? In US dollars, yes. In Zimbabwe currency, circa 2008? That's about 50 cents to us.

    Or, you have a one billion dollar chunk of gold. What can you do with it? You still have to do something.

    But someone pays you 1 cent or 1 billion dollars to preform a service, and you pay someone less to perform that service, that's wealth and power.

    I'm living in America, and in America you're on your own. America's not a country. It's just a business.

    by CFAmick on Thu Feb 13, 2014 at 08:00:24 AM PST

  •  Incredible post. Right on. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Eric Nelson, happymisanthropy, k9disc

    Just wow. You've put stuff we all know together in a way that breaks through the clutter. This needs to go viral.

  •  Yes. They won't stop until everyone's enslaved. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    happymisanthropy, k9disc

    Then the ones on top will start eating one another, metaphorically as well as literally. (They will have long since stopped letting our perfectly good protein go to waste. So, they'll mix it with beer and feed it to their cattle.

    So we must stop them, because they cannot stop themselves.

    You can't make this stuff up.

    by David54 on Thu Feb 13, 2014 at 08:34:21 AM PST

  •  Capitalism was built upon slavery (6+ / 0-)

    Slavery is the most capitalist practice in history, and opposing it is socialism.
      That isn't a joke. That really is the way it is.

    None are so hopelessly enslaved, as those who falsely believe they are free. The truth has been kept from the depth of their minds by masters who rule them with lies. -Johann von Goethe

    by gjohnsit on Thu Feb 13, 2014 at 09:20:12 AM PST

  •  No. But Peasantry is the natural state of an (0+ / 0-)

    unregulated capitalist system.

    Communism simply CANNOT work, because of Human Nature. Some asshole will always fuck it up, regardless of how many good intentions the initial leaders had. There has NEVER been a Communist country, they all (assuming it was even an honest effort to start with) devolved into Military dictatorships or worse.

    Capitalism simply CANNOT exist in a sustained manner without regulation, again due to Human Nature. Capitalism seeks to leverage and use to advantage the core elements of Human Nature ... so long as those traits are harnessed for constructive purposes.

    The first rule of Capitalism has to be, facing the fact that Human Nature will lead inexorably to certain results unless CONSTRAINED to prevent the negative inevitability's from becoming the reality.  There are only a handful of Capitalist societies on Earth, you've heard of Somalia for instance. Every man for himself, survival of the fittest, raw unchecked Capitalism.

    Enter Socialism. Socialism is what we call Regulated Capitalism. Just where and what lines you draw to keep elements of Human Nature in check will determine the character of your Socialist Society.

    The United States, the EU, etc are ALL Socialist societies. Just varying based on what lines have been drawn where.

    Until the political idiots of our world come to terms with this reality and embrace it and use it to make the quality of our lives better .... we remain on the edge of the cliff, between the cliff of raw capitalist peasantry and the hopeful horizon of a society where everyone shares in all the benefits of everything ... Queue Star Trek.

  •  Slavery exists within our borders and is endorsed (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Ahianne, a2nite, Eric Nelson

    by the Republican party leadership. There once was a great diarist at DailyKos named dengre who did a great series on the Northern Mariana Islands. Read all of his or her diaries if you can.

    Ending Neo-Slavery on Tom Delay's Island

  •  Yes, of course. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    blue muon

    Why do you think they invented the Drug War to throw lots and lots of people into prison?

    I tried to go online to find a similar bear head...but when I searched “Big Bear Head” it gave me a San Diego craigslist ad entitled “Big Bear needs some quick head now” and then I just decided to never go on the internet again.--Jenny Lawson

    by SouthernLiberalinMD on Thu Feb 13, 2014 at 09:35:21 AM PST

  •  Prison labor is their big favorite. (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Ahianne, a2nite, Eric Nelson, blue muon

    Closest they can come to literal slave labor today.

    I tried to go online to find a similar bear head...but when I searched “Big Bear Head” it gave me a San Diego craigslist ad entitled “Big Bear needs some quick head now” and then I just decided to never go on the internet again.--Jenny Lawson

    by SouthernLiberalinMD on Thu Feb 13, 2014 at 09:36:01 AM PST

  •  slavery? but Indentured servitude. (0+ / 0-)

    We had that in this country,  you get a ride
    over from england and you have to work for 5 years,

    this sort of thing was going even into
    1900 in Hawaii.

    http://www.hawaiifreepress.com/...

  •  the Hamlet chicken-processing plant fire (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Eric Nelson, happymisanthropy

    1991, Hamlet, NC. Twenty-five dead.

  •  Welcome to neo-feudalism. nt (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    happymisanthropy

    "The object of persecution is persecution. The object of torture is torture. The object of power is power. Now do you begin to understand me?" ~Orwell, "1984"

    by Lily O Lady on Thu Feb 13, 2014 at 09:44:56 AM PST

  •  The Default Setting of Capitalism (5+ / 0-)

    is the Iron Law of Wages.  That is, wages will settle at a level necessary to secure the continued existence of the current workforce, and its replacement by the next generation, and not a penny more.  The only way workers can secure incomes above this pure minimum subsistence level  is through the actuality or at least the threat of the combination of labor effectively able to withhold labor-power at that wage rate.  To achieve that, the necessary preconditions are the presence of class consciousness and social solidarity among workers.  That is directly opposite to the prevailing social ethos of "rugged individualism" which lays perfect groundwork for the extensive application of the Iron Law of Wages.

    "Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will." ~Frederick Douglass

    by ActivistGuy on Thu Feb 13, 2014 at 10:09:43 AM PST

  •  By keeping prices and wages low (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    a2nite

    they are creating an insulating cushion between them and the rest of us.  We can't afford much because they don't pay us much, and they can only sell their crap by not paying us much.  What is crazy is that there are things that are actually cheaper than I remember them when I was a kid 30 years ago.

    What they can't see through their blind greed and lust for power, however, is that it is a downward spiral.  It can't last forever; at some point their little scheme is going to collapse.  What goes first - the demand, cheap labor, or the mental health of the people they are doing this to - is to be determined.  Personally, IMO they better hope it's not the latter.

    Now FIFTH Banker In Two Weeks Found Dead, Ruled ‘Suicide’ by Nail Gun

    Money should be treated like any other controlled substance; if you can't use it responsibly then you don't get to use it.

    by La Gitane on Thu Feb 13, 2014 at 10:33:06 AM PST

  •  This is a really great diary (0+ / 0-)

    in leading us to think about where we seem to be headed if we don't make a correction.Let's recommend it! Thanks, diarist.

  •  The Title of this Post could be changed (0+ / 0-)

    So that it is more Accurate. I would go with:

    Could Child Slavery....just sayin

  •  What we have is more like surfdom than slavery (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Ahianne, Eric Nelson, this just in

    The owners of captial control your access to everything.  It is why they hate the ACA.  Once you can get health insurance without a corporate job, you have more control over your life.   Same with Social Security and Medicare.  If your retirement is out of the control of your employer, then you don't need them as much.  Less labor supply means higher labor costs.  More small businesses means more competition.

    The Tea Party doesn't understand what freedom is.  They seem to think it has something in common with a lottery where you get your "chance" to be rich by starting that businesses you always planned to and the only thing stopping them from doing so is the government and taxes.   So they defend the power and wealth of the 1% thinking that they will be joining them any day now.  The truth is they are more likely to win the actual lottery and until they do they will be working for sub-standard wages, in debt and fearful that they will be out of a job tomorrow.

    Freedom is about having choices.  The ACA, Social Security, unemployment insurance, Medicare all give people more choices.  You can start a business and know if it fails you will still have retirement income and health care.  You can take a job with a small start-up who can't offer the benefits a large corporation offers because they are available without the company's help.  You can retire early because you have the savings and now can get health insurance.  Freedom is about something more than nothing left to loose.  And that is what scares the GOP and its masters.

    The difficulty lies not so much in developing new ideas as in escaping from old ones! - John Maynard Keynes

    by Do Something on Thu Feb 13, 2014 at 10:56:34 AM PST

  •  Man is born free, and everywhere he is in chains. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Eric Nelson

    Jean-Jacques Rousseau had it right. Absent constant effort, slavery always looms.

    "There is just one way to save yourself, and that's to get together and work and fight for everybody." ---Woody Guthrie (quoted by Jim Hightower in The Progressive Populist April 1, 2012, p3)

    by CitizenJoe on Thu Feb 13, 2014 at 11:18:32 AM PST

  •  Vyan, need to correct errors regarding Coltan (0+ / 0-)

    The diary linked to wikipedia article on Coltan that contradicted what you put in the diary.

    Diary blockquoted a source that said:

    We all carry mobile phones which contain the element coltan. Coltan is only available from mines in Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC)
    Coltan is not an element, but an ore.  The important elements refined from it are niobium and tantalum.

    Wikipedia puts the DRC at 13% of world production as of 2009 - which is very different than "only available."

    The most important way to protect the environment is not to have more than one child.

    by nextstep on Thu Feb 13, 2014 at 11:34:29 AM PST

  •  Yes, & why the GOP uses the word slavery.. (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    this just in, a2nite, k9disc, Egalitare

    ..in their attacks

    It's the way a pyramid economy is built for unregulated capitalism advocates. Labor counted to be a liability to profits instead of labor (peoples) considered/really believed to be the asset here, as important as the land we live on

    And it is precisely the reason the republican party uses the term slavery in their many attempts on many different issues, to preempt use of the word and to disguise the truth of their goals for building and maintaining this power structure of ownership

    But that pyramid is only sustainable to an uninformed, disenfranchised (voting rights quashed eg.) populace, because with out a solid strong base the whole thing crumbles down.

    Unfortunately the 1%ers have long since figured out that convincing a seeking-to-be-rich middle class with promises of wealth and just enough to lose, keeps the Hoi Polloi at bay; sort of a firewall.

     These days though the 1%er greed and the huge disparity seems to have reached the point where it has blinded the Hoi Oligoi of the fact that they are diminishing very the middle class, the firewall that insulates them from the majority and  protects their pyramid system from crumbling.

    But that crumbling takes time. Sometimes generations stuck in poverty - slaves to a system where labor is undervalued and ownership is King.

    Today with the awareness that was happening in #OWS for instance and the conversation on inequality surfacing maybe we can speed up the process of the "masses" the little people having to work for poverty (slave) wages for generations before that pyramid is broken down.

    With every day working folks wages stagnating for many years now people are learning, it seems to me, that the "conservative" long time rule of "free market forces"; "the invisible hand of the market" is not invisible and any other catch phrase fabricated over the years is a myth a carefully concocted set of illusory ideals that don't now and never existed except on paper or in a Ayn Rand objectivist novel. "The collective" a bunch of sycophants liken to a cult.

     Privatizing the public space for those rich enough to pay nothing

    So yes..we work..

    And that's exactly what they'll get - if we don't use our voices, and hearts, and our minds to turn this train around back toward justice, humility, equity and respect for those who get the hard jobs done and does them well.
    ..and we inform, and we fight

    Thx Vyan

  •  Slavery or markets can't exist without regulation (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    k9disc

    Slavery requires the regulation of people. Slavery doesn't just happen, it is enforced by the government through the use of force. Similarly, markets and capitalism rely on the existence of property rights, which are a form of regulation, as well as the issuance of money, which requires a state and some sort of regulation to maintain any sort of stability. The idea that we could have no regulation and have any sort of market is a libertarian fantasy that the left seems to have swallowed whole cloth.

    The libertarians have no idea what they're talking about, they get history completely wrong and then use that false history to build a case for government getting in the way of the market when markets didn't exist until there was government. Just like they want currency that's free from government when there has never been a currency that has existed without the support of government. In fact, the taxes they hate so much are the reason that government issued currency has the value that it does.

    The corporate right has taken these idiotic beliefs and used them to push for fewer regulations on corporations, not actually fewer regulations in general. Just like they push for less welfare for people, not less welfare for corporations. It's a giant sham all the way down. Corporations are literally nothing but a form of regulation, if we got rid of all regulation we'd get rid of all corporations as well as money and private property.

    Capitalism can never have a conscience, neither can markets. By claiming they can you're ceding rhetorical ground to the hard right. The historical fact is that capitalism has never been responsible for raising the standard of living for the working class, never. It has always been the organizing of the working class, most recently in the form of unions, that has led to a better standard of living. And the ruling class has done what ti can to minimize the power of the working class, as with Taft-Hartley which was the beginning of the end for unions.

    So slavery is ot the default of an unregulated market because there is no such thing as an unregulated market, they simply can't exist.

    If knowledge is power and power corrupts, does that mean that knowledge corrupts?

    by AoT on Thu Feb 13, 2014 at 12:17:49 PM PST

    •  If capitalism isn't responsible (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      AoT

      for the rise in standards of living, where would you assign responsibility? It's surely not enough to say something like "modern natural science leading to technological development," since those enterprises are themselves predicated on the rise of a modern commercial republic.

      •  The organizing of the working class (0+ / 0-)

        specifically in the form of unions. Capitalism happened to be the method of commercial organization that led to the introduction of many technologies, many of which serve primarily to increase the power of the owning class, but capitalism never increases the general standard of living. It is the distribution of resources that increases the standard of living and the distribution of resources has only ever trended toward equality when the working class organizing to make it that way. This is of course a simplistic version of events that leaves out inequality based on gender, race, etc. But, capitalism has never given the general public anything, everything has been taken from the owning class.

        Also, the fact that capitalism was the primary driver of many inventions we enjoy doesn't mean that those things would not exist ere it not for capitalism. We really can't know either way and many of the most important things, such as paper and printing, etc were invented before capitalism. So while "modern natural science leading to technological development," that does not in turn mean that it necessarily would be so. The Russian success in space would be one example of capitalism being out scienced, and in fact many modern technologies were created through the government, either directly or through universities. Those technologies were then distributed through various other means.

        It's also good to remember that the "advances" in technology and standard of living that capitalism has brought are largely predicated on the shifting of exploitation of workers and the environment to other locations. It's an "improvement" for a small section of humanity both in space and time.

        If knowledge is power and power corrupts, does that mean that knowledge corrupts?

        by AoT on Thu Feb 13, 2014 at 02:36:53 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  One hell of a contrafactual (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          AoT

          "the fact that capitalism was the primary driver of many inventions we enjoy doesn't mean that those things would not exist ere it not for capitalism."

          a) What a wonderfully unprovable or unfalsifiable proposition.

          b) What a fine testimony to the historical reality that capitalism was, in fact, responsible for these many and various improvements in overall standards of living—thus controverting the original contention.

          c) Russian success in space was likely due to manifold causes, not least of which would be the starvation of millions by a murderous totalitarian regime intent on diverting scarce resources to a vanity project.

          d) Capitalism did not just 'happen to be' the method of commercial organization that led to the introduction of many technologies. Rather, as I said, it was the deliberate, thought-through cause.

          e) How, in the wake of the millions upon millions deliberately sacrificed to the great gods of Marxist socialism in Russia and its conquered lands, China, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Albania, Poland, Cuba, etc., anyone could appear today in decent society as an apologist for this failed ideology, is simply beyond me.

          •  It is a counterfactual (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            hmi

            I fully admit that. But that doesn't change the fact that saying that these things would be impossible without capitalism is mere speculation. We would have had different technology for sure. What it would look like we have no idea.

            a) That Capitalism was necessary for the development of the level of living we have is equally unprovable and unfalsifiable.

            b) Actually, as I noted, capitalism is a means of distribution, not of technological development. Capitalism didn't improve life for people, the technology developed under capitalism was only distributed to the masses because of the fight of the working class.

            c) I'm not holding the USSR up as any sort of model to emulate, only noting that it existed and out technologied capitalism at one point. And let's not forget that capitalism in the west was based on colonialism, slavery, and genocide. The US could never have achieved what it did if not for the genocide of the American Indians. Americans pretend like we're better than other countries because that happened a long time ago. And let's not talk about slavery either? The fact of the matter is that the US has just as much, if not more, blood on it's hands than the USSR.

            d) Again, you have no proof of this, nor can you have proof of this. To prove this false would mean proving a counterfactual true, which as you've noted, we can't do. So this is unfalsifiable and unprovable.

            e) I'm not advocating for any sort of communism, I'm not a communist. I'm pointing out historical facts that counter the claim that technological advancement is just for capitalism. I'm against systems that require mass slaughter, capitalist and leninist/maoist alike. I defend nothing that the USSR did. Or at least I think that the good was outweighed by the bad.

            You equate the so called "dictatorship of the proletariat" with the working class organizing, but they are far different things. The USSR was mainly formed and run by upper middle class bureaucrats, the same groups of people who have failed the unions in the US. The USSR is in no way a model of how to do things. But it does provide evidence to counter the idea that capitalism has a unique claim to technological advancement.

            If knowledge is power and power corrupts, does that mean that knowledge corrupts?

            by AoT on Thu Feb 13, 2014 at 05:32:29 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Actually, I have proof (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              AoT

              It exists in the writings of the people who invented what some call the commercial republic. In the clearest instance, it is immediately evident in the writing of Bacon, Descartes, Hobbes, Locke and other precursors to Adam Smith. These men specifically called for the reorganization of society away from semi-feudal power relations, sumptuary laws, and religion to a new foundation of freedom, including free commerce, along with widespread literacy allied to basic scientific research in order to foster creation of a wealthy, technologically sophisticated world of machines and medicines. One  of the most straightforward statements of this program is in the preface to Descartes' Passions of the Soul. [Not, so far as I know, easily available online in English, alas]

              In short, what Marx called capitalism, and Smith called his 'system of natural liberty,' was a deliberate creation, of which Smith is more the exponent than the originator. And my final proof is that what these influential writers called for is precisely what came into existence. In  my opinion, the benefits of this far system have been blessings, and far outweigh the deficits.

              Unions, by the way, are almost literally the last place to look for as causes of great technological innovation, not least because their rise postdates by at least 2 centuries the beginnings of the commercial and scientific revolutions that had already called into being so many improvements by the time unions were a notable part of the scene.

              •  That's far from proof (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                k9disc, terrybuck

                I've read plenty of Descartes, Hobbes, etc. More than enough, really, I've got a degree in philosophy. None of that has anything to do with proof of the fact that technology being necessarily tied to capitalism. And you've managed to ignore the fact that the USSR managed to surpass the US in technology, which would be a disproof of the claim of a necessary tie between capitalism and technology.

                Unions, by the way, are almost literally the last place to look for as causes of great technological innovation, not least because their rise postdates by at least 2 centuries the beginnings of the commercial and scientific revolutions that had already called into being so many improvements by the time unions were a notable part of the scene.
                Guilds would be one place to look for technological development. And what I said was that unions were the source of an increase in standard of living. Capitalism didn't increase the standard of living for the world. Unions and organizations of the working class did. Capitalism brought us technology, but capitalism only gave that technology to the owning class. Unions gave that technology to the world.

                If knowledge is power and power corrupts, does that mean that knowledge corrupts?

                by AoT on Thu Feb 13, 2014 at 08:02:51 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

              •  And no, what they called for did not come into (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                terrybuck

                existence. What we have is profoundly different than anything that the people you talk about called for. We use their writings as justification for what we've got, but freedom is and has always been an aberration in capitalist societies. Always. Slavery, colonialism and genocide have been the norm. That's a historical fact.

                If knowledge is power and power corrupts, does that mean that knowledge corrupts?

                by AoT on Thu Feb 13, 2014 at 08:04:51 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  Demurrer (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  AoT

                  We share an interest in philosophy, which I teach. Let me suggest that you revisit some of those texts, in which the scientific-technological program was explicitly tied to the development of commerce for, in Bacon's words, the relief of man's estate. This was in turn explicitly tied to new notions of liberty and individual rights. It is all a package, not an aberration. I believe you are confounding some disadvantages (in my opinion, inevitable) with the purposes. In any case, slavery and conquest are coeval with humanity, not some special development tied to a particular economic dispensation. To bring up modern totalitarians once again, it would appear that slavery and conquest were perfectly compatible also with Marxist-socialist regimes.

                  Guilds (medieval? Renaissance? later?) had nothing to do with the articulation of this program and I have seen little evidence that there was any corporate guild structure aimed at general societal improvement of standards of living (as opposed to, say, the Florentine silk guild establishing an orphanage as a matter of Christian charity). Surely members of guilds, in entrepreneurial fashion, developed new technologies, but they did so by capital accumulation and investment for the benefit of their own enterprise. What instance could you cite of unions developing technology and then giving that technology to the world? I can't think of a thing. If it has happened, it must be an exception to the usual course of things.

                  In any case, simply put, guilds are not labor unions. Appositely, last term I taught the Communist Manifesto in a political philosophy course. Marx's observation was that

                  The feudal system of industry, in which industrial production was monopolised by closed guilds, now no longer sufficed for the growing wants of the new markets. The manufacturing system took its place.
                  In the end, the best evidence of the benefits of market capitalism is the USA, the regime uniquely called into existence and founded directly on the principles of the philosophers cited above and which has done more to raise standards of living in 250 years than was the case for nearly all of previously recorded history.
                  •  Okay, so we're bouncing back and forth between (0+ / 0-)

                    subjects here. The first being technology and the second being general standard of living. I mentioned the guilds in respect to technology not an increase in general standard of living.

                    And I understand what their program was, and how it shaped the world. The problem is that  they were flat wrong. They were wrong about history, economics, and about a great many things. They happened to be right about science, thankfully.

                    There is no such thing as free commerce and never has been. The capitalist system that was built on their base is not free commerce, it is highly regulated and always has been. The argument now is not at all over whether there should be regulation, but over what exactly to regulate. The market itself does not exist without regulation. Moreover, every actual increase in the standard of living of the masses of people has been won by the working class organizing. Again, in the form of unions. The fact that capitalism was responsible for technology is beside the point because under capitalism that technology does not lead to a higher standard of living, just to some terribly wealthy people.

                    In regards to science and capitalism, it's probably not worth discussing because it is a counter-factual, but the idea that science necessitates "free enterprise" is countered by the fact that we've never actually had free enterprise. Capitalism is built on colonialism, genocide, and slavery. The technologies came from the mass of wealth in specific geographic area due to those three things. Or at least the sciences we have came from that. We can never know what technologies we would have if things had been different. But the idea that science and free commerce had to be linked because the specific philosophers we remember and talk about linked the two is begging the question. You're simply saying that they had to be linked because they were. I see no reason why one couldn't have a philosophy with one and not the other.

                    And unless they called for colonialism, genocide and slavery, which I don't remember them calling for, then what they called for didn't come into existence.

                    If knowledge is power and power corrupts, does that mean that knowledge corrupts?

                    by AoT on Fri Feb 14, 2014 at 08:29:11 AM PST

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  Standard of living (0+ / 0-)

                      I think we are talking past one another. The standards of living I mean are such as these: sewers, waste treatment and water-quality assurance, medicines, and surgeries, electric lights, washing machines, dishwashers, vacuum cleaners, trains, planes, and automobiles, cotton gins, mechanical reapers and tractors, machine-woven cloth and inexpensive clothing, central heating and air conditioning, bulldozers, jackhammers and dump trucks, forklifts and motorized lifts of all kinds, mass-produced housing and bedding, movies, TV, NASCAR and the NFL. Disneyland. Almost none of this owes its invention, existence, or development to unions. A 40-hour work week and the abolition of child labor are good things and contribute to our elevated living standard, but IMO the eradication of smallpox and the electric light are logarithmically more vital and significant.

                      Free commerce is a relative term, just as our own personal freedom isn't absolute. Put in today's context, I suppose we might say that commerce was substantially deregulated as part of the industrial revolution. In any case, neither I nor, for that matter, Adam Smith ever called for untouchable free markets.

                      That aside, I entirely reject your contention that "Capitalism is built on colonialism, genocide, and slavery." As I have already pointed out, these are not essential to it, nor are they unique either to modern times or to market economics. Greed and cruelty have always been and likely will always be with us, capitalism or no.

                      Finally, I think your rejection of the link between scientific technology and freedom is ill-considered. Again, this did not arise spontaneously—it was designed, consciously, by theoreticians, in much the same way as was our own political system. It is a package deal and linked because it was conceptually linked in understanding and by design—not after the fact. And since there is no essential tie between capitalism, colonialism, genocide, and slavery, there is no reason whatsoever to deny that what these philosophers called for was the implementation of what was planned.

                      •  It all owes its availability to the masses (1+ / 0-)
                        Recommended by:
                        cville townie

                        to unions. Without unions the working class get virtually nothing. You can see this play out in US history by the fact that it wasn't until the working class successfully organized unions that all of those things you tout as advances were made available to the masses. I don't know what history it is that you've read, but it doesn't correspond to reality.

                        More importantly, the things you mention aren't standards of living. They're technologies. Many, if not most, improve people's standard of living, but only if those people have access to them. And yes, things like disneyland would never exist if it weren't for unions. Because the masses of people would never have been able to afford to go to theme parks if unions didn't redistribute resources to the working class.

                        Do you think the working class just magically was given the fruits of the industrial revolution? No way. We had to fight, and die, for it. And it wasn't until unions that working people got even a half way decent part of their share of the increase in resources produced by society. And capitalism is inherently anti-union, because the owning class always has more power in government than the working class. That's how we got Taft-Hartley at what was suppose to be the height of the union movement post war.

                        That aside, I entirely reject your contention that "Capitalism is built on colonialism, genocide, and slavery." As I have already pointed out, these are not essential to it, nor are they unique either to modern times or to market economics. Greed and cruelty have always been and likely will always be with us, capitalism or no.
                        You claim they aren't essential to it, and yet every single successful capitalist country relied on those things. England, Europe, France, Germany. All of them. That capitalism is built on these things is a historical fact. Capitalism in the US currently relies on slave labor overseas. The greatest myth of capitalism is that it was built on labor that was provided in a free market. That's a flat out historical lie. Labor provided in a free market is a historical aberration, not a norm.
                        Finally, I think your rejection of the link between scientific technology and freedom is ill-considered.
                        I didn't deny a link between science and freedom at all. I denied a link between capitalism and freedom. You equate capitalism with economic freedom, but it simply has never been so. I fully believe that science and technology are tied to actual freedom. The freedom of thought and speech and movement. Real freedoms, not capitalism. Capitalism restricts those freedoms through the violence of the government, and always has. "Free commerce" is as much of a myth as "free trade" is now. It's simply never existed.

                        The philosophers you talk about are the rhetorical basis for the myth of capitalism, but no sort of economic freedom that they would want has ever existed. And you can claim as much as you want that genocide, slavery and colonialism aren't essential to capitalism, but history says different. History says those things are at the core of every successful capitalist society. Or at least are a necessary precursor. You can ignore that fact, but it doesn't change it.

                        Capitalism is not freedom and never has been. Capitalism is just private ownership of the means of production. I'm not a Marxist, but that's the best definition I've seen because every other definition includes nonsense ideological shit about "freedom" of commerce or markets that just isn't historically part of capitalism at all.

                        Lastly, yes, plenty of systems have all these shitty things. I'm not talking about the things that make a country capitalist, I'm talking about what has made for successful capitalist countries. Just like how mas deprivation made the USSR successful for a while.

                        If knowledge is power and power corrupts, does that mean that knowledge corrupts?

                        by AoT on Fri Feb 14, 2014 at 04:44:23 PM PST

                        [ Parent ]

                        •  Peculiar history (1+ / 1-)
                          Recommended by:
                          nextstep
                          Hidden by:
                          cville townie

                          I don't dispute that unions have had an effect in easing conditions of labor and in lobbying for social welfare schemes. But the sine qua non of easier labor and the source of overall wealth to support those schemes was the technologies I listed, virtually all a result of capitalist enterprise. In other words, without primary capitalist activity, the working class gets virtually nothing—and is still pulling a plow with its teeth. The day the jackhammer came into being, the standard of living for laborers rose.

                          I don't know how many ways I can keep pointing out that colonialism and slavery are ancient. Sicily was a Greek colony and Spain a Roman one. Athens depended on slave labor in its silver mines and elsewhere. The Bible sets out rules for slaves. You cannot simply take a phenomenon that is ever-present, point out that it also occurs under capitalism, and declare that it must be essential to it. I think the genocide charge is simply absurd, but I might as well point to, say, the Hebrews being required to wipe out Amalek or the Romans' utter destruction of Carthage, or the Japanese destruction of the Ainu.

                          So, history—which never, ever, speaks for itself, in no way demonstrates that "those things are at the core of every successful capitalist society," let alone of failed capitalist societies (perhaps you have an instance of some capitalist society that failed due to omission of slavery or colonialism from its program?).

                          Once again, you dismiss  on no evidentiary grounds the philosophers who actually thought into being the intertwined nexus of science, technology, invention of private rights, expanded ideas of private property, and of freedom. You say you are no Marxist, but would you accept as adequate criticism an assessment of Marx's thought as 'merely the rhetorical basis for the myth of socialism?'

                          So, no, slavery is in no way integral to capitalism or the default setting for a market-based economy. [I would note in passing my change to "market-based economy" from "an unregulated market," as there never has existed such a thing as the latter outside of possibly a swap meet]. Moreover, poorly-paid, exploited workers are not, in fact, slaves and, in any case, a capitalist economy, however much some companies may take advantage of such workers, does not stand or fall by their existence.

                          Finally, I will halfway grant your point about Disneyland, although the workers would not have that park available to them had Disney not invented Mickey and parlayed that into the House of Mouse.

                          •  One other thing (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            nextstep

                            I meant to add: unions were latecomers even to the reform of working conditions. In their absence, reformers like Robt. Owen and Shaftesbury, on Christian principles, successfully lobbied for the first efforts to ban child labor and improve other conditions of the working class.

                          •  So Utopian Socialist organizers disprove (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            cville townie

                            that organizing the working class is an effective way to improve the standard of living? Because you realize how they did what they did, right? They organized the working class.

                            If knowledge is power and power corrupts, does that mean that knowledge corrupts?

                            by AoT on Sun Feb 16, 2014 at 07:49:36 PM PST

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  No disproof (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            AoT

                            of union effectiveness. But your contention was that improvement in living standards was pretty much entirely owed to unions, and that is not historically the case.

                          •  Props to you, AoT (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            cville townie

                            for an interesting discussion. I'll try to look in this evening, but I've got work deadlines looming for Thursday and may not be able to participate further. I hesitate to wish you a happy Presidents Day [g], so just enjoy your week.

                          •  HR for red-baiting, personal attacks, (0+ / 0-)

                            and persistently pushing as fact your opinion that everything good about capitalism must be inherently linked to it, while everything bad about it must have nothing to do with it.

                            Once again, you dismiss on no evidentiary grounds the philosophers who actually thought into being the intertwined nexus of science, technology, invention of private rights, expanded ideas of private property, and of freedom. You say you are no Marxist, but would you accept as adequate criticism an assessment of Marx's thought as 'merely the rhetorical basis for the myth of socialism?'
                            There are plenty of people who believe capitalism can help bring progress to people, but the only compelling arguments rest on it being harnessed and regulated in particular ways. Absent that, the burden of proof is on you to show you are not doing more harm.
                          •  You should remove HR (0+ / 0-)

                            Your use of HR was because you disagreed with the comment.  HR is to be reserved for out of bounds postings.

                            The most important way to protect the environment is not to have more than one child.

                            by nextstep on Sat Feb 15, 2014 at 02:48:53 PM PST

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  Recommended to counter improper HR (0+ / 0-)

                            The most important way to protect the environment is not to have more than one child.

                            by nextstep on Sat Feb 15, 2014 at 02:44:49 PM PST

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  Thank you kindly (0+ / 0-)

                            Mr. (Un)cville townie has a bug up his rear and is more or less stalking me for not towing his idea of the party line on a previous thread. By way of contrast, AoT actually reads comments and on this thread it has been instructive to hear him intelligently discuss his point of view. Would that all posters here were so capable and courteous.

                          •  You are here to promote right-wing ideas. (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            AoT

                            http://www.dkosopedia.com/...

                            This is not a site to debate conservative talking points. There are other sites for that. This is not a site for conservatives and progressives to meet and discuss their differences. There are other sites for that, too.

                            This is a site for progressive Democrats. Conservative debaters are not welcome simply because the efforts here are to define and build a progressive infrastructure, and conservatives can't help with that.

                          •  And you are doing it in a way (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            AoT

                            that is deliberately insulting to the other posters you are arguing with. Every single statement of yours has "I'm so smart about this stuff and you're not" plastered all over it. You have no respect for the people you are arguing with, and it shows. And that's trolling.

                          •  He's arguing libertarianism (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            cville townie

                            And it took me a little while to realize it.

                            To be fair, the only real defense of capitalism is the libertarian defense, so he's really got  no other choice.

                            I tried to be reasonable but he isn't amenable to reason, obviously. He couldn't think of a single example of a country that was both capitalist and weak. That's the most damning thing I can think of.

                            If knowledge is power and power corrupts, does that mean that knowledge corrupts?

                            by AoT on Sun Feb 16, 2014 at 07:45:46 PM PST

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  Just because colonialism and slavery are ancient (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            cville townie

                            doesn't mean by any stretch that they aren't responsible for the rise of capitalist powers. Money's nothing new either and that's key to capitalism. Just because something isn't new doesn't mean it can't be responsible for new things.

                            Once again, you dismiss  on no evidentiary grounds the philosophers who actually thought into being the intertwined nexus of science, technology, invention of private rights, expanded ideas of private property, and of freedom. You say you are no Marxist, but would you accept as adequate criticism an assessment of Marx's thought as 'merely the rhetorical basis for the myth of socialism?'
                            What evidentiary grounds would you like me to provide? They blatantly got history wrong. No where did I dismiss their philosophy nor it's role in the rise of capitalism. What I dismissed was the claim that the capitalism they called for has existed in any meaningful manner. By switching from talking about an unregulated market and instead talking about a market based economy that has become perfectly clear. Because those philosophers were explicitly about free exchange, of both ideas and goods, but capitalism was not  built on those things, copyright law should prove that.
                            So, no, slavery is in no way integral to capitalism or the default setting for a market-based economy.
                            Only someone profoundly ignorant of American and European history would say this. This goes against all historical evidence. I don't think it's the default for a market based economy, nothing really is. And if you have slavery it's not really market based, at least not in the labor aspect.

                            Ultimately, history has shown that it is not capitalism that leads to prosperity. Capitalism appears to lead to power for some countries because those countries pursue slavery, colonialism, and genocide. They aren't central to the definition, but they are necessary for it's success. History has proven this.

                            If knowledge is power and power corrupts, does that mean that knowledge corrupts?

                            by AoT on Sat Feb 15, 2014 at 08:00:16 PM PST

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  Real history (0+ / 0-)
                            Just because colonialism and slavery are ancient doesn't mean by any stretch that they aren't responsible for the rise of capitalist powers. Money's nothing new either and that's key to capitalism. Just because something isn't new doesn't mean it can't be responsible for new things.
                            If something changes, you look for causes of change in things that are new, not in what has always been there. If colonialism and slavery did not change, then they cannot be causative of the development of capitalism. If colonialism and slavery changed somehow (is this the argument you wish to make?), then what changed them needs an accounting, along with how that change somehow allied itself to an enterprise whose own self-understanding is tied to various iterations of terms such freedom and liberty.

                            So, let me return the charge about history and ignorance thereof. Look first at the United States, which became a great commercial power long before even the whiff of colonialism blew in around 1900. Had there been slavery here? Certainly, in the most technologically backwards, least capital-intensive part of the country, and the other, more properly capitalist, more properly free, part of the country went to war to exterminate the unfreedom incompatible with its Hobbean-Lockean principles. Pretty odd, I'd say, for a capitalism supposedly founded on and inextricably tied to slavery.

                            I think you also are mistaken in what you take to be capitalism. To make the simplest point possible, none of these thinkers that I know of ever called for absolutely unregulated markets—not even Smith. The often-heard claim to the contrary is a red herring and a strawman argument. And Smith's system of natural liberty (called capitalism by Marx), while it absolutely makes the case for economic organization in the direction of freedom, does not require or stand or fall on the existence of untouchably free commerce.

                            But instead of bad history, there is no need to look past the philosophers you obstinately insist on dismissing without encountering. Hobbes, over a century before Smith, explicitly called for a replacement of religious interests with scientific and commercial ones fostered in order to create a peaceful society. His contemporary, Descartes, in the preface to Passions of the Soul, approves the outline of a total political makeover, a vast effort to uproot Scholastic Church Aristotelianism and replace it with Baconian experimental physics whose fruits will include medicine and machinery to ease man's lot. How vast a program of scientific experimentation? It will consume all the efforts of "a great many people." How will we fund it? "All the peoples of the earth will have to contribute to it as the most important thing on earth." How much is that? "...the entire income of two or three of the most powerful kings on earth would be insufficient to put into execution all the things required for this."

                            Demonstrably, these writings by the most prominent intellectual figures in Europe were highly influential on the minds of a great many men who pulled the political levers, and in not much time at all, societies were remaking themselves in these images, now spending much more than the income of those kings in order to raise up a technologically-sophisticated work force, to provide seed capital for all manner of enterprises to provide relief for man's estate, to fund medical research, particle accelerators, and cameras sent to Mars. And that is real history, shaped and pushed into being by philosophers, and they got it absolutely right. As Oliver Wendell Holmes pointed out in "The Path of the Law,"

                            To an imagination of any scope the most far-reaching form of power is not money, it is the command of ideas. … [S]ee how a hundred years after his death the abstract speculations of Descartes had become a practical force controlling the conduct of men. Read the works of the great German jurists, and see how much more the world is governed to-day by Kant than by Bonaparte.
                            That is reality, not rhetoric.
                          •  The US was built on colonialism (2+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            cville townie, terrybuck

                            We expanded and colonized the continent. After we finished that then we started in other countries, but the idea that we weren't colonial prior to 1900 completely ignores the fact that we were a colony. This is exactly what I mean by ignoring history.

                            If colonialism and slavery did not change, then they cannot be causative of the development of capitalism.
                            I said the success of capitalist countries, not of capitalism. There are plenty of countries that are both capitalist and not powerful, history is rife with examples. You are ignoring the forest for the trees. The form and justification of slavery and colonialism changes over time, and capitalism offered a great new form and justification, but ultimately power comes from the same place. Capitalism isn't magic and it didn't change that fact.
                            But instead of bad history, there is no need to look past the philosophers you obstinately insist on dismissing without encountering
                            I'm not dismissing anyone, except possibly Hobbes on politics. I've read all those philosophers and am well aware of their contributions. But when you use the writings of a philosopher as "proof" of anything I am fairly dismissive. What a philosopher said doesn't prove anything about the course of history after said philosopher. We can take one part of a philosophy and leave another, or use one part and then simply have the other as justification for some actions that we take. The idea that some philosophical ideal is upheld in any given age is just wrong as far as history is concerned. That's the sort of Marxism that left me rejecting Marxism.

                            And really, I haven't seen a proponent of capitalism provide me with a half way decent definition of capitalism, the description seems to change with time, or I'm told it's too complicated to explain briefly. It changes every time something wrong with capitalism is pointed out.

                            If knowledge is power and power corrupts, does that mean that knowledge corrupts?

                            by AoT on Sun Feb 16, 2014 at 09:28:48 AM PST

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  Expansion vs. colonialism (0+ / 0-)

                            The thought that the US is a colonial power is pretty well a confused notion. Rather, the U.S. expanded and eventually occupied, even in some sense conquered,—not colonized—the continent. It would be more accurate to say that the U.S. is not built on colonialism, but on a rejection of colonialism.

                            New York and Massachusetts were originally colonies, of course, established by an English government as mercantilist outposts of that country in order to enrich the motherland. What were they colonies of after Independence? To whom did the colony of Chicago ever belong? Cincinnati? Houston? Who sent them out and controlled them for the benefit of the homeland? Maybe (and I think the concept needs a lot of work) the Philippines and Puerto Rico were actually colonies, and not genuine protectorates, after 1900—but that's more like something that occurred far into the development of the USA as a commercial/capitalist republic.

                            I don't intend to deal again with the illogical contention that capitalist countries, specified as powerful capitalist countries, are inextricably tied to genocide, slavery, or colonialism. Insofar as any country is strong, capitalist or mercantilist or imperial, it is liable to use its strength to the disadvantage or detriment of others. But that is a function of strength, not of a particular economic dispensation. The non-capitalist Romans under Titus alone were quite capable of leading some 20,000 Jews into slavery. Slavery does not go with capitalism.
                            Just as an aside: I'm sorry to miss the forest for the trees, but where are all these weak, capitalist countries with which history is rife? I don't seem to know about them, but would like to.

                            As for definitions, I'm sure capitalism must be at least as simple to define in a sentence or two as, say, Progressivism. I can't say I would approve your earlier attempt to sum it as private ownership of the means of production (and not just because it leaves an unpleasant Marxist aftertaste), in part because there is no reference to that natural liberty that capitalism's most profound theorist understood as central to its meaning.

                            And just to make one thing clear on the theorists: I did not put forward anything like an Hegelian or Marxist notion of philosophical ideas tied to History (capitalization deliberate) or some given age. I simply pointed out something that has been well-understood by observers for centuries now, which is that the thing called the Enlightenment and the kind of political and economic arrangements that its leading lights theorized, were not simply platters of ideals proffered like candies, to take one and leave others. That is why historians speak regularly of the "the Enlightenment project" or "the modern project." Because it was, as earlier described, a plan, one which came to actual fruition—as people like Rousseau and Voltaire understood perfectly in the 18th century, Kant, Goethe and Nietzsche (and Marx) in the 19th, and so on up to this day.
                            http://en.wikipedia.org/...

                          •  The colony of Chicago belonged to the USA (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            wiljago

                            Obviously. Your hair splitting is far from convincing.

                            I don't intend to deal again with the illogical contention that capitalist countries, specified as powerful capitalist countries, are inextricably tied to genocide, slavery, or colonialism
                            So then you can name me some historically successful capitalism countries that weren't tied to those things? The reality of history is that successful capitalist countries engaged in those things. You obviously don't want to talk about that.
                            And just to make one thing clear on the theorists: I did not put forward anything like an Hegelian or Marxist notion of philosophical ideas tied to History (capitalization deliberate) or some given age. I simply pointed out something that has been well-understood by observers for centuries now, which is that the thing called the Enlightenment and the kind of political and economic arrangements that its leading lights theorized, were not simply platters of ideals proffered like candies, to take one and leave others. That is why historians speak regularly of the "the Enlightenment project" or "the modern project." Because it was, as earlier described, a plan, one which came to actual fruition—as people like Rousseau and Voltaire understood perfectly in the 18th century, Kant, Goethe and Nietzsche (and Marx) in the 19th, and so on up to this day.
                            You literally just did what you said you wouldn't. You said that philosophical ideals weren't tied to an age, except for when it proves your point. you literally just said that a specific philosophy proves your point about the reason history is what it is, which is exactly the hegelian/marxian notion you dismissed.

                            If knowledge is power and power corrupts, does that mean that knowledge corrupts?

                            by AoT on Sun Feb 16, 2014 at 03:16:39 PM PST

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  This does not work (0+ / 0-)

                            Chicago was not a colony of the United States, not in any meaningful use of term. That's not splitting hairs, that's what I call common sense. The U.S. government did not send out settlers to claim land in the name of the nation, did not set up its government and specify its laws, did not rule it from afar, did not annex its wealth, etc. I have never seen any authority of any political stripe, Marxist or monarchist or whatever, refer to Chicago (or Cincinnati, or Des Moines, or N. Dakota) as a colony. Perhaps you have and could direct my attention. But to me, the notion seems just screwy.

                            I have already explained why the U.S., a successful capitalist country, is not in any way qua capitalist explained by reference to slavery, genocide or colonialism if those very things are also found in abundance in ancient Rome, ancient China, ancient Egypt, Persia, Japan and the Mughal empire. One last time: you explain change by difference, not sameness.
                            By the same token, I see that you are apparently unable to name any of those weak capitalist countries with which history is supposedly rife. Surely out of all that rifeness you could identify 3 or 4? Or maybe not.

                            Finally, I can only state yet again that characterized nothing as tied to any time period or moment of History, except in the entirely trivial way that anything written had to have been written at some nameable time. But let me try make that crystal clear:
                            There were writers of like mind, of mutual influence on each other, who influenced others in turn, who proposed new ways of thinking and of political and economic theory and practice. That totality of coherent strains of thought, because it proposed action and not merely understanding, has subsequently been characterized as a project, the Enlightenment Project. Heavyweight thinkers subsequently understood and noted the fact that this project did actually take shape and changed the world. Some approved of that outcome (e.g., Kant, Hume) and others did not (e.g. Rousseau, Nietzsche). But all agreed on the fact of the change and its basic nature. You may wish that were otherwise, but you'd be fighting history.

                          •  Wait WHAT (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            AoT

                            Long time lurker. I only comment when something in my area of expertise is ridiculously obviously intellectually violated.

                            "I have already explained why the U.S., a successful capitalist country, is not in any way qua capitalist explained by reference to slavery, genocide or colonialism if those very things are also found in abundance in ancient Rome, ancient China, ancient Egypt, Persia, Japan and the Mughal empire. "

                            You have in fact done no such thing. Each of those are very distinct economic structures. Unless you are willing to accept the charge of being appallingly and unacademically lazy I am afraid that I must insist that you address each comparison distinctly.

                            My god! To compare, what ?!?!?!? , the Persian version of capitalism with, for instance, the Edo economy?! And for god's sake, how can you compare either to the Mughals?!

                            This is sloppiness at it's worst. Unless you clarify I can only assume that you are a troll.

                          •  O Lurker (0+ / 0-)

                            I suspect you have not followed the thread very closely. I did not even vaguely suggest that any of those ancient societies were capitalist. Really, you need to reread. And then to get those exclamation points under control.

                            The question was whether or not capitalism, or successful capitalist countries, somehow required slavery (or genocide or colonialism).  My answer was that all in that unholy trinity are and have always been associated with political-military strength, not with any particular economic system. So the Persians, etc, are examples of strength, not of capitalism.

                            So let me return the observation: this is terribly sloppy, appallingly and unacademically lazy. I must insist that you read with at least a minimum of care. Unless you do, I can see little profit to replying further to anyone who launches personal accusations at the drop of a hat.

                          •  If there were no settlers in Chicago (0+ / 0-)

                            then where did all the white people come from? And yes, it was ruled from afar. Have you not heard of the federal government? You seem to have a terribly skewed view of american history that just doesn't jibe with any reality that I know of. If a city that was founded by white people in the US when native people were the primary residents wasn't a colony then I'm not sure what would count as a colony.

                            One last time: you explain change by difference, not sameness.
                            I explain sameness by sameness. The US has been powerful for the same reasons that empires throughout time have been powerful. So I explain the power of the US the same way I explain the power of previous empires, the US exercises power in an obvious and brutal way. You wish to ignore that reality because you want capitalism to be more important and better than every system that came before it. That's fine. You think "freedom" is the reason for the "success" of the US. And conveniently, that's the exact reasoning of libertarians. You're basic claim is that economic and intellectual freedom cannot be separated.
                            By the same token, I see that you are apparently unable to name any of those weak capitalist countries with which history is supposedly rife.
                            Where should I start? Nigeria? Paraguay? I could go on. Most countries right now, really. Haiti. Etc. If you really can't think of a country that was both capitalist and weak then you're either lying or terribly ignorant of the world. Seriously, you don't know of any countries that are both capitalist and weak? That is quite possibly the least convincing argument I've ever heard.

                            If knowledge is power and power corrupts, does that mean that knowledge corrupts?

                            by AoT on Sun Feb 16, 2014 at 07:41:50 PM PST

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  Still not there (0+ / 0-)

                            1) As I thought I said clearly: Chicago was surely settled, it may have been settled via conquest. But conquest ≠ colonization and Chicago was not was a colony. That's simply a misapplied designation, for the reasons I already supplied.

                            2) I'm perfectly in agreement that the USA, like many other strong powers, sometimes exercises power in an obvious and brutal way. But precisely for that reason it does not explain capitalism or anything else except the nature of strong powers.

                            3) You are confusing what I believe to be true about capitalism with something you have decided I wish to be true. Let me just ask if you yourself would sit still for the charge that you are simply forcing your arguments and evidence to bend to your beliefs? If all you are doing is rationalization, then you are an ideologue, and I might as well try to persuade a Creationist that the world is more than 6000 years old.

                            4) For reasons that are not part of this discussion, yes, I think that Smith and others correctly understood that setting desires free and standing back to allow their realization would lead to a vast increase in material well-being. And so it has. In many ways, though not all, this has been a good thing in that (as I have argued) it resulted in once-unimaginable material well-being for tens of millions.

                            My general opinion as a student of political theory is that economic and intellectual freedom, along with limited government and individual rights, do, factually, go together. However, I take that to be a fact of politics and economics, which is not the same thing as unqualified approval of the result. There are cases to be made for other views both of understandings of freedom and of the proper scope of government. As one tycoon in Citizen Kane explains to a reporter, "Well, it's no trick to make a lot of money... if what you want to do is make a lot of money.."

                             I try not to confuse my preferences with my understanding. As I mentioned, I recently taught Marx. I am not a Marxist. But when I teach him, I do my damnedest to understand what he had to say and to bend over backwards to present his case in the best light and strongest possible terms. And then I try to do the same for Aristotle, Machiavelli, Hobbes, and Mill.

                            5) Really? Nigeria, Paraguay, and Haiti as exemplars of capitalist regimes? This must be a joke. My only thought is that, since you imagine that all capitalism is kleptocracy, you lump together any kleptocracy with capitalism.
                            All else aside, if these are capitalist countries (doubtful; Haiti? Haiti??), they have been so for about 5 minutes and the kindest thing to say would be that the results are not yet in.
                            But you promised that history was rife with instances of weak, capitalist regimes. Out of that vast wealth of examples, could you supply even one of an unambiguously capitalist regime that would safely qualify as historical? Actually, I had been expecting that you would try to claim post-1848 Hungary—although I agree that that would not really work. But perhaps you had something else in mind?

                          •  Also, on Marxism (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            cville townie
                            You say you are no Marxist, but would you accept as adequate criticism an assessment of Marx's thought as 'merely the rhetorical basis for the myth of socialism?'
                            For the most part, yes. The success of the USSR, to the extent that it was a success, had very little to do with Marx and a lot more to do with internal oppression and the shifting of resources internally to the USSR in a way that was similar to what various capitalist countries did externally in the guise of colonialism. Certainly, there are socialists who push for a Marxist socialism, just as there are libertarians who push for a "real" capitalism. That doesn't negate the historical reality.

                            If knowledge is power and power corrupts, does that mean that knowledge corrupts?

                            by AoT on Sat Feb 15, 2014 at 08:05:30 PM PST

                            [ Parent ]

                      •  I see this debate is still going on (0+ / 0-)

                        hmi, your notion that innovation is mostly the result of capitalism are mere assumption.

                        For example, you mention small pox eradication. You probably don't know it was the Chinese doctors, around the 10th century A.D. in China who first made the breakthrough to inoculate against Small Pox. You seem to think human motivation to innovate comes just from self-interest, and furthermore, that self-interest involves only material gain.

                        Do you think those early Chinese (much of the ancient Chinese technological history isn't known in the West -- see Needham's work, The Genius of China) came up with medicine to enrich themselves, and not to help their families and communities?

                        They made early advances in endocrinology, being the first to discover diabetes, hundreds of years before the west. The list of early science innovation in China goes on and on.

                        Did the early Chinese, who invented the plow and planting in rows for better irrigation (a staggeringly important innovation in the history of agriculture) more than two-thousand years ago do so in the name of capitalism, for mere self-enrichment, or was it simply to make agriculture work easier and more productive, so that they could eat?

                        Was written language created by capitalism? Was poetry created for capitalism? Music? Literature? Art? Did Kant come up with his philosophy for capitalism? Hegal?

                        Was the use of fire discovered for capitalism? Often these inventions are devised by creative individuals who would create for the joy of creating, for their mothers, and fathers, and brothers, sisters... for their communities. The creative drive existed since the dawning of humanity, before money or capitalism or notions of "economy" had been devised.

                        All of these pre-capitalist innovations contributed to the "standard of living" as much as any so-called capitalist driven invention.

                        Peter Kropotkin wrote over a century ago that all human innovation is a joint effort, with each new advancement built on the shoulders of others, all down through time. No one person really invents anything alone, in a vacuum. No one can determine with any semblance of accuracy how much of any single innovation belongs to whom, since advances are a progression through time due to the effort of the entire human society down through history, building upon all that came before. Many modern innovators like Gates and others used technology created by others, and yet they got all of the credit (and wealth).

                        As Kropotkin said:

                           Every machine has had the same history--a long record of sleepless nights and of poverty, of disillusions and of joys, of partial improvements discovered by several generations of nameless workers, who have added to the original invention these little nothings, without which the most fertile idea would remain fruitless. More than that: every new invention is a synthesis, the resultant of innumerable inventions which have preceded it in the vast field of mechanics and industry.

                            Science and industry, knowledge and application, discovery and practical realization leading to new discoveries, cunning of brain and of hand, toil of mind and muscle--all work together. Each discovery, each advance, each increase in the sum of human riches, owes its being to the physical and mental travail of the past and the present.

                            By what right then can any one whatever appropriate the least morsel of this immense whole and say--This is mine, not yours?

                        Kossack Ezekeil in Exile said it this way:

                        All Capitalists do is to grab the benefits of workers' efforts either directly by force or by using the State and the "legal" system that those same Capitalists enact for their benefit through manipulation of the political system using their economic resources.

                        Carnegie, Rockefeller, Jobs and Gates are not innovators who have bestowed great gifts of innovation upon us.  Instead, they are sociopathic thieves who have stolen the ideas of others and used them to reap obscene profits and oppress the rest of us.

                        The idea innovation comes from capitalism is a vicious, self-serving falsity devised by capitalists, and this propaganda has become "common sense" in capitalist countries. The sorry fact is capitalism does not inspire people to create, but rather, it manipulates the innate, natural desire to create and innovate to serve not the interests of people, or the world, but to serve the interests of self gain without regard for the ethical consequences. The creative urge will exist with or without capitalism. But with capitalism, people are set upon destroying the planet as a viable habitat, resulting in the very defeat of survival of humanity.

                        You have so badly misunderstood this entire debate.

                        And capitalism does indeed use slavery. It is entirely dependent on treating humans as wage slaves, as commodities, rewarding them not for the true value of their labor (laborers produce the wealth), but for the rent of their bodies, as if machines who don't deserve a share in the products of labor. That is not chattel slavery, but it is still slavery.

                        "The political arena leaves one no alternative, one must either be a dunce or a rogue." Emma Goldman, Anarchism and Other Essays

                        by ZhenRen on Sun Feb 16, 2014 at 11:35:24 AM PST

                        [ Parent ]

                        •  Yes, discussion continues (0+ / 0-)

                          I think you've misread something, as I'm pretty sure I never said anything as foolish as that " innovation is mostly the result of capitalism." As you point out, as Hesiod knew, man is a ceaseless innovator.

                          Nevertheless, something about innovation in Europe did change by at least the early 16th century. At that time, under the planning and guidance of new sorts of theorists, a new, non-teleological, anti-Aristotelian natural science came into being, one whose goal was not so much pure understanding as research aimed specifically at doing things, at new technology. Large swathes of society, including political and economic dispensations, were re-formed to foster that goal. And from then forward, the pace of innovation went into overdrive, and we no longer depend on occasional tinkers to rework a plough harness or figure a better way to gin cotton.

                          For the rest, what Kropotkin says is mostly irrelevant, except of course his unfounded suggestion that there can be no property in invention. Similarly, Ezekeil in Exile is simply spouting invective based, it appears, on prior Marxist notions of class warfare between noble workers and "sociopathic" boss-thieves that I find pitifully nonsensical. I'll skip over your own version of this fable of capitalism as the death of humanity as a discussion for some other time and place.

                          Let me note only that your final paragraph is badly misconceived. Laborers supply labor, for which they are paid. If they are paid, they are not slaves. The term "wage slave" is, at best, an analogy meant as invective, but not useful as a part of a meaningful discussion. If workers are unhappy with their employment, then they have the right to form unions and to negotiate salaries and working conditions—that, too, is part of capitalism (even Smith, with reservations related to his reservations concerning monopolies, acknowledged that unions have to be allowed on grounds of liberty). Finally, the "true [monetary] value" of anything, labor included, is what it is worth to the person who will have to shell out for it. Absent the elimination of buying and selling and private property, there is no way around that hard fact of life.

                          •  Oh my... (0+ / 0-)

                            I see nothing in your reply that you support, and you use a lot of words, but a close inspection turns up a series of arrogant, self-justifying statements, as if your position is so self evident, and such an established default, everyone else must prove their theses, while you sit back and offer philosophical sophistry.

                            Waving off the Kropotkin quote as irrelevant, as if not even needing to provide a basis to your easy dismissal, is a good example.

                            And you're giving out a mixed message, denying on one hand you didn't claim a higher standard of living comes from scientific innovation as a result of capitalism, while continuing to suggest it all over again. Go back and reread your own various comments up-thread.

                            While universal suffrage, and more economic opportunity for common people certainly is an acknowledged relatively better step forward, it by no means has solved the problem of exploitation. It is a change in masters, from the feudal lord to the modern landlord, to the lords of finance, and the corporate lords; from the monarch to the overarching top-down bureaucracy of the wealthy, ruling class of capitalism.

                            There is still massive inequality, still long miserable lives of subservience to the owning class, still homelessness of hundreds of thousands, still poverty, hunger, untreated health conditions, still slum housing, lack of upward mobility, all based on an exploitative system. You are out of touch. That much is obvious. You're too comfortable to realize the misery of poverty that people experience. And this merely scratches the surface of the ills that capitalism brings to the world. There is also the favoring of fascist regimes over socialist, wars fought over resources, militarism and economic imperialism, placing private property above egalitarianism, authoritarianism over freedom.

                            And you're the one who brought up small pox, and electric light bulbs as innovations, and in your euro-centrism didn't know the Chinese came up with small pox inoculations over 2100 years ago. The fact is, you don't know which technological developments would or would not have occurred, or what kind of standard of living would exist, if other systems had been left alone to develop without military opposition,  even without the incentives of capitalism. Many innovations have resulted from other forms of social organization. The so-called socialism of Stalin, which became the model for other revolts, is really just a different form of capitalism.

                            Human needs are a constant, no matter how people organize. And these needs create incentive to innovate.  A non-capitalist world might have come up with far more responsible innovations and a very good standard of living. Some of the more socialistic capitalist states are far better than the US. And have you not noticed the double edged result of innovation under capitalism? Churning out personal cars by the billions which wantonly pollute the atmosphere may not be the best thing to have happened to the planet, not to mention all of the polluting energy that industry spews out to produce the innovations for the carefully cultivated consumerism.  The point is, capitalism often turns innovation toward the worst aims. The "standard of living" ends up declining due to the byproducts, noas well as the eventual looming exhaustion of resources due to over-production and consumption.

                            And while the standard of living has had periods of increase, it has also had long decades of stagnation and decline, which is what is occurring presently, and economists predict the jobs are not coming back for possibly decades, if ever. That's why people with Master's degrees work at retail stores like REI, and endure the horrors of tyrannical dictatorships of the corporate workplace. Jobs have left to offshore cheaper wage slaves who work for pennies a day, since capitalism buys low and sell high, and labor (a euphemism for completely dominated working people, as if inanimate objects) is no exception.

                            I'm glad you're sitting so pretty that you can dismiss these concerns with a flippant wave of a hand, but exploitation is still occurring, and it occurs because a minority ruling class owns the means of production, placing itself in a position to exploit those who don't own property. For many of us, this is not good enough, thank you. We deserve far better. And the day will come when we will not be satisfied to hold out our open hands, to ask once again for more, while receiving less and less.

                            I don't usually wish ill will on people, but since my wish has no capability of magically producing a result, I wish you would lose your nice job (or your owning class status, or your nice pension, whatever the case may be) and that you end up working for Jack-in-the-box. Or a liquor store. Or REI, where my college educated partner suffers her life away with an art degree and teaching degree now works  (after her stint at the liquor store -- the place where PhDs kept showing up asking for work), to see how hard it is to get a job, how hard it is to keep it with all of the gimmicky, manipulative sales minimums, and the kind of gripping panic that sets in when you think you might lose your job to a younger, more energetic person in today's so-called "job-market."

                            One does not have the choices you imagine. Even when one manages to get another job after being laid off, it is simply going from one miserable workplace to another.  It is not freedom. It is not choice. It is not anything resembling liberty. It is a form of slavery.

                            Wake up.

                            No, Kropotkin is dead on right. There is such a thing as wage-slavery. When one has no choice but to work for a master (the boss), and can be threatened to stay silent about working conditions and exploitation due to the possibility of ending up sleeping under a bridge, and must endure insult, harsh treatment, low wages, a poor lifestyle, poor housing, urban blight, noise pollution, air pollution, and a life of miserable subservience, yes, it is precisely wage slavery. People like you have a fantasy that there is a choice for most workers. Those choices are gone. And things are getting increasingly worse. Student debt, mortgage, and consumer debt create debt slavery, as well, where most of one's "earnings" go to the corporate money-masters.  One could go on and on with a long list of examples of how working people are exploited by the unequal power relationship in our so-called "representative democracy", but it is a sham.

                            And your notions of "true value" of labor are based on capitalist myth of the "free" market, which is not at all a form of liberty for the working, majority class. It is an axiom in capitalist economic theory that there must be 5% unemployment to keep wages under control. Capitalists managers of the market at the Federal Reserve do not want full employment, because that drives up wages. And most good manufacturing jobs have the "freedom" to leave to other shores, while workers have no such freedom. Workers produce all of the wealth, but do not get an equal share of their production. The concept that resources can be dominated by a few in order to exploit the many is what creates your false notions of value. It is all based on a false authority of "property", which is not a natural right, but a form of unjustifiable power over others through threat of violence. The notion that owners of property deserve to take all surplus, while workers must accept the the wage offering or starve, is a fraudulent concept with no supportable basis.

                            The true value of labor is very hard to accurately define, since it is impossible to calculate the contributions of labor as if in a vacuum, isolated from all the contributions that bring a person to the skills and effort needed by society, as Kropotkin points out. But one thing is not at all difficult to calculate: All the fruits of labor belong to the workers, to distribute amongst themselves according to a consensus of each participant in the workplace, each with an equal voice.

                            "The political arena leaves one no alternative, one must either be a dunce or a rogue." Emma Goldman, Anarchism and Other Essays

                            by ZhenRen on Sun Feb 16, 2014 at 04:31:09 PM PST

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  Thanks for your wishes (0+ / 0-)

                            Given the nonsense you apparently take seriously, let me pray that someday you wake up in your workers paradise, where you will have neither your job nor your pension, merely a potshard. Otherwise, I see no reason to respond further to someone who knows literally nothing of me or my circumstances and yet thinks himself justified in using phrases such as "people like you," while offering hopes for bad outcomes. It's unfortunate that your consciousness is too reified to either read clearly what I wrote or to formulate a coherent reply.

                          •  I have no pension (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            AoT

                            I have a terrible job.

                            I'm extremely perceptive, and I learn a great deal by small utterances and little details. That is who I am.

                            Yes, I see who you are, not only by what you have stated, but also by what you omit.

                            You're one of those who stand in the way of the working class.

                            My hopes "for bad outcomes" were clearly rhetorical. Wake up from your sense of privilege. Smell the coffee. People are hurting. People are exploited. I don't fuck around, I say what I think. I've nothing left to lose by doing so. You have no real idea what indignity is, what insult is, what being degraded as a human is until you work at the bottom.

                            "The political arena leaves one no alternative, one must either be a dunce or a rogue." Emma Goldman, Anarchism and Other Essays

                            by ZhenRen on Sun Feb 16, 2014 at 08:47:26 PM PST

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  With courtesy... (0+ / 0-)

                            You don't know me and you haven't got the faintest idea what you are talking about. Nevertheless, you know what I am or I believe by what I omit? Beyond incredible. Back to your crystal ball.

                  •  Capitalism (0+ / 0-)

                    compared to feudalism certainly has been an improvement, but it still exploits the working class, and still has a ruling class which monopolizes power and wealth, and the means of production, thus thieving the wealth created by the working class.

                    That's why workers are still struggling, still suffering from lack of having needs fulfilled, still trying to get out from under the yoke of the masters at the workplace, still enduring inequality.

                    Socialism in the USSR was never real socialism. There are different forms of socialism. Marxist-Leninism failed due to its inherent authoritarianism. It was a form of state capitalism.

                    As to capitalism, the standard of living has been falling lately, due to corporations seeking cheap labor by outsourcing jobs. In short, the standard of living you attribute to having been once bettered by capitalism (a standard which labor activists had to fight and die for) has in the last 4 decades (nearly half a goddamn century, and it isn't projected to improve for years) been falling precisely due to capitalism. You must be doing very well to not realize how many have to work at dead end jobs despite having masters degrees. There are hundreds of thousands of homeless people in the US. Economic disparity is on the rise. People who work often have to receive aid to feed their kids. Significant numbers expereince hunger. Consumers have access to cheap products due to workers in poorer countries working for slave wages to provide Americans with items like low cost flat screen televisions.

                    This can only continue for a limited duration until wages fall too low in the US to sustain the markets. We're now in an era of financial capitalism, in which corporations make money from financial instruments, leaving many workers to exploits of the service industries making hamburgers for a living. Pensions are disappearing from job offerings, many offer only part time positions, and wages are flat compared to the GNP. Most Americans hate their jobs. Rents are going up due to the widespread foreclosure problem created by the criminal banking industry.

                    We can do better than this. I'm sorry if this offends you, but fuck the capitalist ruling class. To say "its better than feudalism" is a slap in the face to working people.

                    "The political arena leaves one no alternative, one must either be a dunce or a rogue." Emma Goldman, Anarchism and Other Essays

                    by ZhenRen on Fri Feb 14, 2014 at 11:40:21 AM PST

                    [ Parent ]

          •  If you are talking about state sponsored (0+ / 0-)

            capitalism, I think you are right, but then that's just a variant of socialism.

            The massive leaps in our society have come through government leadership with the private sector as contractor.

            Machining, aerospace, engine development, IT, manufacturing - all of these industries owe great debts to government contracts and production requirements.

            So, if you're talking about that kind of capitalism, socialization of risk and vision with privatized and taxed profits, a socialism variant, then I think you have a point, but if you are talking about rugged individualist, low tax, political sponsorship, and lax regulatory state that follows the private sector and purchases industrial technology and services - this crap we have today? Yea, not so much.

            The whole conversation reminds me of this:

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

            by k9disc on Fri Feb 14, 2014 at 01:49:42 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

  •  Exponential growth is why the answer is yes (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Egalitare, k9disc

    In capitalism, all kinds of economic and business advantages flow to larger, richer entities.  Tie this to great political advantages to slant the rules of the game as well and the inevitable result of capitalism is monopoly.  

    Since bigger entities have systematic advantages, economic power and thus negotiating power, becomes concentrated, which means that all contracts in the advanced capitalist economy are between parties of vastly power, such that in fact contracts become mroe and more coercive, rather than anything representing a free market, whch presumes parties negotiating with at least some semmblance of parity and relatively equivalent information.  When capitalism is a llowed to run its course the free market stops operating like a free market, of course.  Slavery is the natural outcome, in terms of labor relations that are essentially coercive.

    •  Who owns our food? How do we get our water? (0+ / 0-)

      These are the questions of our century, I'm afraid.

      I think people are going to be surprised if we start burning food to maintain the market price.

      Taibbi's newest article is rather frightening on that front.

      I believe the endgame of capitalism is slavery, I've said it a bunch of times here.

      This is a pretty stellar piece though.  

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

      by k9disc on Fri Feb 14, 2014 at 01:54:41 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  It's not slavery (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    AoT, Egalitare

    it's a Perpetual Unpaid Internship.

    Politics means controlling the balance of economic and institutional power. Everything else is naming post offices.

    by happymisanthropy on Thu Feb 13, 2014 at 02:39:12 PM PST

  •  The Default is Much Worse Than Slavery (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Vyan, Egalitare

    In the slavery model, slaves are owned property and it is up to the owner to maintain the value of that property. Owners generally provide proper nutrition, housing, clothing, medical care and training sufficient for them to continue to labor for the owner. Sure there are bad owners who abuse their slaves or who are too stupid to understand the cost value proposition on the upkeep on their property, but that is not the basis of the slavery model.

    Unregulated industrialization produced a model that is in many ways worse then slavery for the average laborer. No longer are workers valuable property that had to be maintained, instead that have become interchangeable disposable widgets.  Unlike slavery, the owner has no sunk costs in the worker, so he is free to ignore all of their basic needs. If a worker can't perform the desired function then simply fire them and replace them with a fresh model. Unlike the slave, a worker has no value to the employer beyond what they can do for them in the moment.

    Please don't think that I am in any way defending slavery which is an utterly deplorable economic model.  I am simply pointing out that there are other economic models that are far more attractive to the owner class that  result in horrendous living conditions for workers.

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