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What is Capitalism?

Discussion in 'General Debates' started by Laika, Mar 21, 2020.

  1. Laika

    Laika Well-Known Member
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    According to Wikipedia:

    Capitalism
    is an economic system based on the private ownership of the means of production and their operation for profit. Characteristics central to capitalism include private property, capital accumulation, wage labor, voluntary exchange, a price system and competitive markets. In a capitalist market economy, decision-making and investments are determined by every owner of wealth, property or production ability in financial and capital markets, whereas prices and the distribution of goods and services are mainly determined by competition in goods and services markets.


    How we define capitalism tends to relate to where we are on the political spectrum. On the right, capitalism tends to be defined exclusively by the dominance of private property within our economic relations. This often comes with the assumption that property and individual freedom are directly linked and free markets are built on voluntary relations so that capitalism cannot be held responsible for the evils of slavery, colonialism or fascism. On the left, capitalism is defined as a socio-economic system in which there is class rule by a capitalist class and so is compatible with a degree of public ownership, deficit spending, government regulation and intervention. Marxists hold capitalism responsible for its actions as a class, as a socio-economic system and blame capitalists for fascism, wars of territorial expansion, the genocide and enslavement of indigenous people and the transformation of self-governing peoples in to colonial territories to control resources (including people themselves).

    Often those on the right tend to say that the problem with contemporary politics is that there is too much socialism by which they mean government ownership and control. The solution they suggest is to increase the level of privatisation, deregulate markets and business and reduce both taxes and spending by government. Those of the centre-left sort of agree, but insist that there needs to be more government ownership and control to avert crises and to reduce the symptoms of decay which could ultimately causes major social conflicts and revolutionary upheaval.

    By contrast, those on the far left argue that even with state intervention in the economy, it is not possible to avert crises of over production, poverty, unemployment and war. These are simply features of the capitalist mode of production which operate through objective laws in which the pursuit of profit culminates in the anarchy of competition in production between individuals, companies and ultimately (capitalist) governments competing over resources between various states in wars.

    Again, how we define capitalism defines how we think about it's future. Many of the right will insist that capitalism is natural, either as a fixed product of human nature (even sanctified by god as a moral order), or else the culmination of a biological instinct towards selfishness, egotism and personal profit and the evolutionary struggle for resources. On the left however, capitalism is seen as an exploiting society riddled with class conflicts and social antagonisms, built on exploitation and destined to fail under the weight of the social conflicts it creates and the way these lead to irrational patterns of mismanagement in production, driven by profit-maximising, competition or the lack there of such as economic crises, environmental degradation and highly profitable but wasteful and destructive armaments industries. The far left argues that capitalism is but a phase of human history and that profit and private property are not the eternal products of human nature or god, but simply the most convenient arrangements within a class society on a given development of technology, science and the organisation of production.

    The video below presents a Marxist position on the definition of capitalism and sets out how it affects our perceptions of the legitimacy and justness of capitalism as a socio-economic system and evaluate it's future. (it may be heavy on Marxist terminology, but it reflects such views on capitalism fairly well.)


    The power of these definition is enormous. An ideological struggle is waged to define capitalism and then to determine its legitimacy and whether it is going to last forever or faces ultimate collapse. Is China a Communist State or a Capitalist one? Were the Nazis Socialist tyrants or architects of a capitalist reaction? Is America's problem that it has become too "socialist" and needs greater deregulation and privatisation or that it isn't "socialist" enough with nationalisation, regulation, central planning and even violent revolution?

    What do you think? How do you define capitalism? And do you believe it matters and effects how you see the world and behave within it? Do you think capitalism is the natural order or a historical phase that is destined to be overcome by a new socio-economic system?
     
    #1 Laika, Mar 21, 2020
    Last edited: Mar 21, 2020
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  2. aeon6

    aeon6 Member

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    I'm glad you pose these poignant questions to people. This will be the catalyst for what comes "next". I'm fairly Marxist in Denmark, with never a single grievance about how anything was humanely handled. But that is my tiny realm, much more easily managed than other less desirable places. I'll let you identify them as you peruse earth's last vestiges.
     
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  3. WhyIsThatSo

    WhyIsThatSo Well-Known Member

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    "Capitalism" : A system of economy and commerce where the RICH "capitalize" on the basic human needs of the poor
    masses for things like food, clothing and shelter .
     
  4. Regiomontanus

    Regiomontanus retired astronomer

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    In my opinion capitalism is irrational, unsustainable, and just plain evil. It commodifies nature and crushes the soul of your average worker. Eventually most people will understand this though whether or not it will happen before we destroy the biosphere is the big open question (though the trend lines indicate they will not).
     
    #4 Regiomontanus, Mar 21, 2020
    Last edited: Mar 21, 2020
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  5. shmogie

    shmogie Well-Known Member

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    Yes, China, is socialist, as was nazi Germany.

    You are confused about crony capitalism, and true capitalism.

    In a truly capitalist system, the market reflects the will of the people.

    A truly capitalist system is without monopolies, and is truly transparent.

    Private companies provide for the needs of the people. The market determines if the needs are being met, and ensures the companies are responsible to society.

    Prices are based in supply and demand. Poor quality product, poor service, poor pricing are all corrected by a truly free market.

    A company pollutes, and the people want it stopped, the market will speak very loudly, and stop the practice.

    On and on it goes, the market can make a company successful, or cause a company to fail.

    Transparency ensures that the market clearly sees what is occurring, and the market responds with what the people deem important.

    Crony capitalism blocks transparency, ensures price fixing, encourages known. or unknown monopolies, and the people have little control in the market.

    Socialism just makes the government a monopoly, with no control of price, quality, and no transparency.

    Further, a monopoly, a total monopoly, wants total power and control and will fight to not have to share either.

    The more of society in private hands in a truly capitalist system and market gives control to the people through the market.
     
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  6. Revoltingest

    Revoltingest Abnormal before it was fashionable
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    My comments will be without benefit of the video.

    I see capitalism as a human tendency...nothing ordained
    by God....neither good nor bad....but a useful tendency.
    As humanity moved on from hunter gatherer economics
    to more & more labor division, & greater productivity
    (beginning with agriculture), people saw value in trading
    with each other. If one saw benefits from trading, then
    one was encouraged to be more productive.
     
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  7. leov

    leov Well-Known Member

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    capitalism is mostly gone, left overs is some small countries, it i s corporate capitalism now, different thing...
     
  8. dfnj

    dfnj Well-Known Member

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    Great video!!!

    I found this to be a good video on the subject:

     
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  9. dfnj

    dfnj Well-Known Member

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    "Fascism should more appropriately be called Corporatism because it is a merger of state and corporate power." Benito Mussolini
     
  10. leov

    leov Well-Known Member

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    essentually
     
  11. leov

    leov Well-Known Member

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  12. Shad

    Shad Veteran Member

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    Ironic video that is ahistorical. Go look up what the USSR did to the Aral Sea. China's great leap forward.


    Yes just like any ideology does such as the video being ideologically loaded but short on facts

    No for #1.

    For #2 it is an unknown for me.
     
  13. Shad

    Shad Veteran Member

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  14. WhyIsThatSo

    WhyIsThatSo Well-Known Member

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    Or it has just evolved into what it was meant to be from the beginning .
     
  15. dfnj

    dfnj Well-Known Member

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    A really great video! The ending was a bit more idealistic than I think is possible.

    You might like this video. He talks about there is no way for capitalism to grow at this point. Growth is not feasible:



    I think the solution is going to come from the next industrial revolution where production of goods becomes information based and everyone produces their own goods with 3D printers.

    The Big Oil economy has to be replaced for us to really move forward. The Chinese are investing billions so they can stop giving trillions to Saudi Arabia. The first country to find a real viable alternative to Big Oil will be the richest country in the World 10 times over:

    China spending US$3.3 billion on molten salt nuclear reactors for faster aircraft carriers and in flying drones – NextBigFuture.com

    To understand why the Chinese are spending billions on LFTR reactors consider this video. Communities need to become like space ships:

    Transcript of "Thorium, an alternative nuclear fuel"

    But the problem is nothing is going to change until people understand how they are being manipulated. People under total control by the billionaires:



    I would love to be as hopeful as the author of the video you referenced. But I am haunted by the words of George Carlin:

     
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  16. aeon6

    aeon6 Member

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    Not amazingly, it takes a vast crisis (now) to embrace more humanitarian forms of government. But not without a fight from those you consider rotten. T-rump and the like will resort to building walls of the real and also the metaphorical kind, as your nation decides how to save itself. All with an orange-and-yellow specimen.
     
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  17. dfnj

    dfnj Well-Known Member

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  18. aeon6

    aeon6 Member

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    Juxtapose your capitalism with your numerous skid rows. It's a paradox worth fixing.
     
  19. dfnj

    dfnj Well-Known Member

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    I was also a libertarian when I was young. And then after 40 years of working I've realized how wrong my views were when I was in my twenties. Socialism is the ONLY answer to temper the excesses of laissez faire capitalism. Otherwise, it is just inevitable people will game the system in their favor. It's not government that is the problem as you suggest. The problem is the merger of corporations and state power. Corporations ARE the government. The billionaires and CEOs give millions to the lobbyists who force or entice the politicians to pass laws creating cartels and monopolies in exchange for campaign financing. Every worse, the Citizen's United ruling allows the Federal Reserve corporation to print any amount of money necessary to ensure political candidates favorable to the Federal Reserve are the only ones who ever get elected. The banking system is rigged to make sure we are all have maximum debt levels no matter how hard we work:



    "Give me control of a nation's money supply, and I care not who makes it’s laws". Mater Amschel Rothschild

    The system is rigged. The American people are screwed. Marx always said laissez faire capitalism is always followed by communism. This is because unfettered greed would result in the governments currency collapsing in value. Once the governments currency becomes worthless the people in breadlines will demand MORE government not less! Clearly the value of the dollar is declining (just select the 5Y version of the graph)

    Quandl

    It's just a matter of time before the system collapses. People like yourself are the real communists because you cannot except the excesses of laissez faire capitalism needs to be regulated. At some point, there will be a HUGE collapse and the words of FDR will become in vogue again:

    "An old English judge once said: 'Necessitous men are not free men.' Liberty requires opportunity to make a living - a living decent according to the standard of the time, a living which gives man not only enough to live by, but something to live for.
    For too many of us the political equality we once had won was meaningless in the face of economic inequality. A small group had concentrated into their own hands an almost complete control over other people's property, other people's money, other people's labor - other people's lives. For too many of us life was no longer free; liberty no longer real; men could no longer follow the pursuit of happiness.
    Against economic tyranny such as this, the American citizen could appeal only to the organized power of government."​

    See you in the breadlines comrades!
     
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  20. shmogie

    shmogie Well-Known Member

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    You obviously have no understanding of the differences between crony capitalism, and true capitalism.
     
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