Cross Examining Capitalism

The powerful culture wide taboo against discussing or analyzing the dynamics of our market economy will lead to the fall of our democratic civilization. UCLA Professor Jared Diamond studied four civilizations that perished and three that survived. The civilizations of Greenland Norsemen, Mesa Verde Native Americans, Central American Mayans and Easter Island perished. The Norse settlement in Greenland perished after 400 years partly because Norsemen could not overcome their taboo against eating seal meat and fish.1 Diamond listed two choices that those societies which adjusted and survived made while those that failed did not:

  • Willingness to reconsider and change core values
  • Long term planning

Our mainstream nation abides by a culture wide taboo against mentioning or analyzing the social adequacy of capitalism and its offspring of imperialism and empire. The taboo stifles discussion of a positive role for public planning. We are therefore unable seriously to reconsider and change our core values or long term public planning. We choose three current examples for the purpose of illustrating this taboo and demonstrating the danger that the taboo presents to all of us.

Retired West Point Colonel Alexander J. Bacevich, now a professor at Boston University has a new book, The Limits of Power: the End of American Exceptionalism,2 that is an insightful analysis of the current sad state of our American democracy. A conservative, Bacevich says that we American citizens with our wish for endless consumer goods purchased on credit are the root cause of an imperial presidency and American empire that aggressively pursues the War on Terror and imperialism abroad with the uncritical support and funding of a one party congress. He says that Congress’ function is to provide the funding for this imperialism while at the same time insuring the re-election of incumbent Members. 3 Our government he says is broken and dysfunctional, and is using ineffective inappropriate military power against criminal terrorists that can only be controlled by effective police work.

Princeton professor of political science emeritus Sheldon Wolin has a very persuasive new book, Democracy Incorporated: Managed Democracy and the Specter of Inverted Totalitarianism4 in which he shows how the United States is becoming, if it is not already, a totalitarian state posing as a democracy. He says that corporate and state power are now one, and that we voting citizens are politically uninterested, infantilized, obedient, distracted, and divided, effectively controlled by our corporate masters, as they pursue imperialism. He says that both the media and academia are “self-pacifying” and thus are not critical of their corporate masters or our trend toward totalitarianism.

Former Vice President Al Gore has his alarming book, An Inconvenient Truth 5, where he documents the current state of global warming and the danger that we are fast approaching the point of no return.

A citizen who wishes to be informed should read each of these books. They show that our planet is in peril and that our ballot box democracy is very nearly dead. Taken together, these authors give us desperately needed observations about our current environmental danger and the peril to our democracy. Each writes as if we citizens had sovereign governmental power and that we could control our politics and our environment if only we had the wisdom and the will to do so. Bacevich says the root problem is our own weakness, financial irresponsibility, and uncontrolled desire for consumer goods. Wolin says simply that we will have to get smarter. Wolin very accurately describes the current corporate rule and corporate control of our votes and thoughts without dealing with the dynamics of capitalism. Gore argues that we can control global warming within our market economy and still maintain material “progress.” Each writer fails to ask how we got into this condition. Each ignores root economic causes. Each falls into the trap of analyzing politics and political science separate from economics, when our plight compels that they be considered together as political economy. The analyses of these writers are typical American social science under the iron grip of the powerful taboo against public planning and criticism of our market economy. Because of this taboo these authors could not survive professionally in mainstream America if they were to talk about the root economic causes of our imperialism and our American Empire. Because of this taboo, Professor Wolin had to give a rather passive strange name to his book, “Inverted” Totalitarianism when the context suggests that he really means “Money-Controlled” Totalitarianism, or Capitalistic Totalitarianism.

Vice President Al Gore, Professor Bacevich, and Professor Wolin give us only half-truths when they fail to “follow the money,” namely to deal with the increasing wealth, power, and devastation that is generated from things as they are. Wolin’s journalists and fellow professors “self-pacify” for an important reason: They want to keep their jobs and their paychecks. Bacevich does not ask why Americans are addicted to consumer goods and credit. It of course has largely to do with incessant advertising, outsourcing of jobs, and inadequate pay. Gore does not talk about the powerful economic interests that must pursue short term profits and cannot survive by limiting carbon emissions. Each fails to ask: What caused us to get to our present plight? Who gets money and power from things as they are? Who has the money and power to prevent any reform by us voters? Who is thwarting and trumping our voting power to end the Iraq War right now? What is the effect, if any, of the vast disparity of wealth and power in the United States?

The fact is that we can understand and deal effectively with our problems only by analyzing both politics and economics, by “following the money.” As California Assembly Speaker Jesse Unruh proclaimed years ago, “Money is the mother’s milk of politics.” For several centuries, lawyers have ferreted out the truth during cross examination of a witness by showing that he/she was “paid off,” that he/she received payment for his/her testimony. We voters, citizens, journalists, and professors must “cross examine” our market economy, our capitalism to see who is “paid off” and who thereby derives overwhelming political power. We must not allow ourselves to be deterred by hysterical charges that we are “communistic” or “socialistic.” It is not evil for members of our human community to think, plan and work together cooperatively. It is anti-intellectual simple mindedness blindly to leave our problems to the “market” for a “solution,” especially when the capitalist market is the root cause of our problems. If we are to maintain a civilized democracy and a sustainable planet, we simply cannot avoid analyzing the dynamics of capitalism. Vast institutions of wealth and political power have created and now profit from the status quo. We cannot control or curtail this anti-social power unless we know what creates it. To understand what is going on, why corporate totalitarianism is creeping over us, why we are losing our jobs and our houses and why global warming seems out of control, we must understand how our market economy works and how it interacts with our government.

Capitalism, the accurate name for our market economy must constantly move and grow, with a dynamic something like a tornado or a fast growing cancer. There never has been and there never can be a sustainable stable capitalism, since capitalism thrives on competition testing who can be the greediest and most socially irresponsible. We have never voted to choose capitalism. It is a human creation, but it grew like a fast growing cancer side by side with our self-governing political process without any input or control from the vast majority of us.

At the root of capitalism there is:

PRIVATE HIRING: A private person with money hires a person without money for the lowest possible wage in order make as much profit as possible for the person who already has money. The core axiom repeated over the decades by thousands of private employers, created a small very rich and politically powerful elite group of employers6 while it produced millions and millions of employees who remain relatively poor with no wealth or power. The employers’ imperative to get employees at the lowest possible wage lead to the closing of productive jobs in the US and the outsourcing of those jobs and production to Mexico, then to China, and then to India. We did not vote or choose to stop being producers. We do not choose or vote to become a nation of consumers… We did not vote or choose to create global warming. The dynamics of capitalism make the choice for us, and for our employers. The profits of the capitalist employers give them means to make campaign contributions to our elected officials and to lobby them so as effectively to control them. The meager wages of employees gave us at most the right to vote which capitalist money and power then trumps. Democrats are especially guilty of lying to us when they repeatedly promise to protect the “the little guy” and give him health care and then invariably vote as the drug and insurance companies demand.

This private hiring twists into:

MONOPOLY: Competition among capitalist-employers inevitably leads to the elimination of small employers, to price fixing, and to a monopoly of a few large firms, with capacity to produce more than they can sell at a profit. Henry Ford recognized this characteristic in the 1920s when he unilaterally raised the wages of his employees so that they could buy his Fords. Almost all other employers pay us employees such low wages that we cannot afford to buy what we have produced. We would lose our jobs and economic depression would result if nothing was done Capitalism thus needs public money to provide the necessary purchasing power to consume the products of capitalism. We never voted that our economy based on private hiring and competition should change into monopoly.

Monopoly then swirls to:

AN ALLIANCE BETWEEN GOVERNMENT AND CAPITALIST EMPLOYERS: Capitalism badly needs our tax money to keep going. Our Government becomes a critical component of capitalism and to an ever increasing degree, capitalism and capitalist employers control the government. We employees have less and less voting power to get what we need from our government because of the increasing power of employers’ money over our elected officials. Capitalist employers get more and more of what they want such as tax relief for the wealthy and cutting social spending for us so as to make more and more of us desperate to work for ever lower wages. We never voted for this alliance.

This moves into:

IMPERIALISM: When profit making opportunities dwindle at home, capitalists, using the Government, the CIA and the Military go abroad to seek new profit opportunities, new resources, additional customers, and employees willing to work for lower wages. Capitalism at home tends to move inevitably toward capitalism abroad: an American Empire, Imperialism and sometimes War. We have never voted to send or protect capitalism in other countries.

At the same time capitalism destroys our planet home by

USING UP OIL AND RESOURCES, POLLUTION, AND GLOBAL WARMING: In its relentless search for profit, capitalist employers devour oil, minerals, timber, soil, and water, and dangerously pollute the earth and atmosphere. Good places to live, and to fish and to hunt are ruined. Al Gore fails to recognize that the dynamics of capitalism compel capitalist employers to seek profit as their sole motive lest they perish in the competition with other employers. We have never voted to plunder the planet.

Voracious capitalism moves yet again to:

FINANCIALIZATION: The capitalist elite, finding too few profit making opportunities making things that humans need began increasing investment in speculation by buying, selling, and spinning off existing companies to produce the short term profit upon which the survival of capitalism depends. Capitalism, in this phase thus produces nothing new: no jobs, no food, no medical care, and no highways. It produces nothing except more profit and more political power for capitalists. We never voted for this innovation of capitalism.

Capitalists use this money and political power to create:

CORPORATE STATE CAPITALISM: Capitalism mutates so as to merge corporate power with state power so that we now have corporate state capitalism whose powers are exercised solely to create socialism for the global elite at the expense and starvation of the rest of us. As we now see from the bailouts, the elite causes the government to print massive amounts of paper money to rescue the businesses of the elite. It does nothing for us except to impose the burden of taxation and inflation on us employees. We suffer the loss of our jobs, houses and things we need cost more and more, due to uncontrolled inflation. We live in a constant state fear. We are approaching what Wolin calls “totalitarianism posing as democracy.” We certainly have never voted for this.

During all of this, in order to control our thoughts, Capitalists have been creating:

THE PROPAGANDA ARM OF THE CORPORATE CAPITALIST STATE: The power elite control the main sources of information that we citizens and voters need wisely to govern ourselves. They will tell us nothing about the features of capitalism that destroy both our planet and our democracy. The capitalist elite own and control all the major print and electronic media, public relations and advertising agencies. The mainstream media is owned by those who profit from things as they are, and provide uncritical support of war, imperialism, and all activities that contribute to keeping things as they are. This includes the NYT, Washington Post, PBS and NPR as well as TV and radio. The media have the power to inflame, to manipulate, to fail to cover, to deny and to ridicule. The capitalist elite thus impose the ideas, ideology and taboos that benefit the elite upon us. Through research grants and endowments, corporate capitalism controls universities and college professors and what they research and teach. It controls reporters and journalists. It controls even what we citizens think about. We thus get no information analyzing capitalism and its effects on us. We never voted that the media should have this power. The market economy at this stage makes us employees powerless, frustrated, restless, angry, and unhappy. Lacking the truth about the causes of our plight, some of us employees turn toward racism, bigotry, jingoism, evil enemies and other false solutions. There is a risk that we employees would act negatively toward the capitalist elite.

To preserve its power and privilege the Capitalist Elite moves toward:

CONTROL OF ELECTIONS, DECLARATION OF MARTIAL LAW, and FASCISM WITH A FRIENDLY FEMININE FACE: The power elite entertain and divert us with a non-serious circus-like election process. The government and the capitalist elite can then ignore the plunder of our planet home, ignore our lack of jobs, ignore our hunger, ignore our illnesses, and ignore our needy old ages. We employees are in effect placed into wage slavery if we have any jobs at all. If we riot, we are placed in detention camps. If we starve nobody in control cares. If we march and protest at political conventions, we are arrested as terrorists.

THE UPSHOT OF ANALYZING POLITICS AND MONEY POWER TOGETHER

We are not yet in the final state of capitalism’s mutation, but as Bacevich and Wolin show us, we are very close. We have never voted for any of these changes in our market economy. No political movement exists to stop this final mutation. Our belief that we are governing ourselves is totally illusory. Our democracy is nearly lost. Nobody is taking any meaningful effective steps to deal with global warming. The dynamics of capitalism are ongoing. The great danger is that it will mutate into fascism. The point of following the money, and of evaluating politics and economics together is to make certain that we understand and permanently eradicate the causes of our imminent fall.

As Professor Rick Wolff wrote:

“The egalitarian… society envisioned by social democracy cannot be secured so long as it leaves in place a group of people with incentives and means to prevent that.”7

The “means” that Wolff is talking about is simply the profits, the money that we allow capitalists to accumulate under capitalism. The tremendous disparity between the wealth of the elite and the relative poverty of the rest of us has political consequences that we now observe. We must find a way to curb that wealth and power. Shocking as it may seem, we may have to prohibit private hiring by large employers altogether. Our democracy and our civilization cannot survive otherwise. The money of the power elite nullifies our voting power. The dynamics of capitalism are devastating our fragile planet of finite resources. Our planet simply cannot support vast accumulations of wealth and power by the few unless millions of us are to be left to starve. We must learn from; the mistake of President Franklin D. Roosevelt who brought us “band-aid” solutions for the pain of the Great Depression, but left in place an economic system founded on short term greed, and small elite with the wealth power and incentive to repeal all of his reforms. Our civilization, like the civilizations of Rome, Norse Greenland, Mayan Central America, and Easter Island will fall unless we comprehend the causes of our difficulties and expose the unrecognized dynamics of capitalism. Once we do this, we will be free to re-examine our core values like material “progress” and we can begin to plan for realistic sustainable civilized alternatives.

  1. Jared Diamond, Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or to Survive, Viking Adult, 2004. []
  2. Alexander J. Bacevich, The Limits to Power: The End of American Exceptionalism. Metropolitan Books, 2008; Also discussed in interview with Bill Moyers on August 15, 2008. []
  3. The vital role of Congress in supplying the funding for the American Empire is so important that Manuel Garcia Jr. calls it MICC, the Military Industrial Congressional Complex. See Manuel Garcia Jr., “Oiling the War Machine,” Counterpunch, July 11, 2008. []
  4. Sheldon Wolin, Democracy Incorporated: Managed Democracy and the Specter of Inverted Totalitarianism, 2008, Princeton University Press, Princeton, N.J; See also Paul Street, “Totalitarianism: It can Happen Here,” Dissident Voice, August 23, 2008. []
  5. Al Gore, An Inconvenient Truth, Rodale Books, 2006. []
  6. The word “employers” should be understood to include those who invest money in the firms of employers. We consider the emphasis by some on “corporations” as the source of our trouble to be misleading in that capitalism would function much the same if corporations were abolished and all the hiring was done by individual employers or large partnerships of employers. []
  7. Rick Wolff, “Today’s Haunting Specter (or What Needs Doing),” MRzine, June 6, 2007. []

Doug Page is a retired lawyer for unions, a former Democratic politician, and a life long observer of government, unions and business. He can be reached at: dougpage2@earthlink.net. Read other articles by Doug, or visit Doug's website.

15 comments on this article so far ...

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  1. John Merryman said on September 20th, 2008 at 9:08am #

    Here is a possible solution I offered some months back:

    http://www.dissidentvoice.org/2008/07/reverse-shock-doctrine/

    As well as an essay that gives some back story to my thinking:

    http://www.exterminatingangel.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=203&Itemid=118

    Here is an author who has developed the idea further:

    http://webofdebt.wordpress.com/monetary-proposal/

  2. bozhidar bob balkas said on September 20th, 2008 at 10:05am #

    “root problem is our weakness, irresponsbility, uncontrolled disere to buy”.
    it cannot be proven that we humans are weak. whe are what nature (to some god) had made us and is still(hopefully) making us.
    and nature made us to survive and even trive. yes, i firmly conclude, that we can now even trive but only with a different structure of governance.
    it si not the nature which is still making us which is to blame for aspects of our being such as money being root of all evil on personal, interpersonal, intranat’l, and internat’l level.
    it is neither god nor nature that ‘teaches’ us absolute obedience to flag or god; it is the clergy, kings, patricians (both ancient and today’s) that do that.
    it is not nature that disinforms, misteaches people; it is people who misteach one another. in this aspect on interpersonal, internat’l, intranat’l levels, the greatest misteachers have always been our rulers: clergy, kings, billionaires, et al.

    “if we only have wisdom” . why this? the nature gave us all it cld. there is at this time no more; thus, it is best we conclude we are sufficiently wise.
    we may say that we do not have wisdom only because we are vastly mistaught and not that we do not have at least potentially.
    however, we are sufficiently disinformed, mistaught by ucle sam et al that we will kill/maim/destroy in order to maintain our own serfdom to clergy, ‘teachers’. media/politicos, et al.
    this, that we are stupid, unwashed, uncultured, uneducated, unmotivated, lazy, etc., had been propagated by clergy/rulers for ages.
    i’m dismayed every time a dv writer or poster posit such ideas either explicitly or by implication.
    we need to tell people, Hey, there is nothing wrong with u whatsoever.
    u have been duped. don’t feel bad about it, bns upon bns have been duped just like u r now. thnk u

  3. Michael Hureaux said on September 20th, 2008 at 1:19pm #

    And so it goes. Boy is it gonna get weird before it gets weirder.

  4. HR said on September 20th, 2008 at 1:34pm #

    Good article. Just wish the author had mentioned that, before the massive movement offshore, many of our “noble” corporations first moved operations to areas of this country, like the South, where wages were low and unions were held in disrepute.

  5. Marton Zsenei said on September 20th, 2008 at 2:24pm #

    A joke from Hungary:
    What did Hungarian people want at the “change of the system”?
    The people wanted socialism without nomenclatura.
    And what did people get?
    We have got the capitalism of the nomenclatura.

  6. Socialism: Next Stage in Political Systems. Socialism will come to USA wether capitalists like it or not !! said on September 21st, 2008 at 8:56am #

    But We first need: An educational-propaganda campaign

    In order to create a third united socialist party we would first of all need an educational campaign in order to spread knowledge to the masses about the evils of capitalism, fascism and imperialism and the only alternative to it is participative democratic socialism. The American masses are real confused about how the world works. Trying to wake up the masses from their delirium would pose us as a threat. I read the biography of Hugo Chavez by Alleyda Guevara (Che Guevara’s daughter) and I learned how he tried to wake up the venezuelan poor masses, because you can’t stirr up a revolution in a society that is not awake, a society that doesnt know that capitalism is the cause of poverty and all society’s problemse. Hugo Chavez first tried to wake up Venezuelan poors about the evils of neoliberalism, he talked about the importance of teaching the masses about capitalism vs. socialism. And then when Venezuelan’s poors were mentally awake and physically and emotionally ready to revolt against the older right-wing government, Chavez started to do his thing (To overthrow the fascist capitalist venezuela system)
    And here in USA we gotta do the same thing that Chavez did, teach the US poor for some months or years what is capitalism and what is socialism before trying to do form any political party. Almost nobody in USA have taught the masses the evils of neoliberalism, not even Kucinich, Ron Paul or any other candidate. Ron Paul was the only one who talked about the US constitution and nobody listened to him, because he didn’t teach the masses about the evils of capitalism, because of the fact that Ron Paul was a capitalist, not a real alternative for poor people. Only socialist and marxists parties do that in USA and they don’t get much coverage in TV. So before starting a third party, i suggest to spend some months or years trying to teach the poor people of America about the evils of capitalism and the wonders of a participative democratic socialist system, a people’s system

  7. Donald Hawkins said on September 21st, 2008 at 8:57am #

    No one knows what to do? I do I am going fishing and listen to some tunes and then when it is nice and quiet out there at the river listen I mean listen and see if the laughter of the gods just got a little louder and then probably think to myself. A human being is part of the whole called by us universe, a part limited in time and space. We experience ourselves, our thoughts and feelings as something separate from the rest. A kind of optical delusion of consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from the prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty. The true value of a human being is determined by the measure and the sense in which they have obtained liberation from the self. We shall require a substantially new manner of thinking if humanity is to survive. My next thought will be, you see I can see into the future, self it sure is quiet out here except for that damn laughter I keep hearing getting louder.

  8. Socialism: Next Stage in Political Systems. Socialism will come to USA wether capitalists like it or not !! said on September 21st, 2008 at 9:03am #

    USA-MASSES NEED AN EDUCATIONAL CAMPAING TO LEARN WHAT IS CAPITALISM, SOCIALISM, NEOLIBERALISM AND IMPERIALISM BEFORE ENGAGING IN ELECTORAL POLITICS

    here in USA we gotta do the same thing that Chavez did, teach the US poor for some months or years what is capitalism and what is socialism before trying to do form any political party. Almost nobody in USA have taught the masses the evils of neoliberalism, not even Kucinich, Ron Paul or any other candidate. Ron Paul was the only one who talked about the US constitution and nobody listened to him, because he didn’t teach the masses about the evils of capitalism, because of the fact that Ron Paul was a capitalist, not a real alternative for poor people. Only socialist and marxists parties do that in USA and they don’t get much coverage in TV. So before starting a third party, i suggest to spend some months or years trying to teach the poor people of America about the evils of capitalism and the wonders of a participative democratic socialist system, a people’s system

  9. Socialism: Next Stage in Political Systems. Socialism will come to USA wether capitalists like it or not !! said on September 21st, 2008 at 9:36am #

    Crisis of Capitalism and the Left
    by Emir Sader
    A new crisis of capitalism, in the style of 1929. The theories of casino capitalism are confirmed. The US government contradicts itself again and heavily intervenes, demonstrating that its confidence in the market isn’t as great as its propaganda displayed. Neoliberal capitalism spills its guts, and the theories of the Left — Keynesian or anti-capitalist — critical of neoliberalism are corroborated.

    Our theories about the anti-social and perhaps terminal character of capitalism borne out, we leftists smile, rubbing our hands, eager for social and political consequences of crises.

    Should we? Or perhaps should we ask ourselves how prepared we are to confront this new crisis with left-wing alternatives? Not just with theories, but with the social, political, and ideological force to contest hegemony in crisis. Are we ready to ask ourselves if the measures taken by governments wouldn’t mean more suffering for the poor, more desperation, abandonment, unemployment, and precarious labor, without people being able to see alternatives?

    If we are to merely play an intellectual role of being critics of capitalism, the new crisis is a great feast. We can rejoice and churn out, day after day, week after week, new articles that foresee — “as we have written already” — the end of capitalism in short order.

    But every catastrophism is self-deceiving. In the 30s, the Communist International subscribed to the theory of economist Eugen Varga, who revisited Lenin’s theory to diagnose that the crisis of 1929 brought capitalism, finally, to its final stage. As the New Deal rescued capitalism from itself, the category of the “second phase of the final stage of capitalism” was introduced. By now we must be in the fifth or sixth phase.

    Giovanni Arrighi recalls that, in the 70s, the debate was not about the end of capitalism but about when, where, and how capitalism would end — the subject that was apparently accepted by even theoreticians in favor of capitalism.

    Nevertheless, as Lenin himself reminds us, capitalism doesn’t collapse, nor will it ever collapse, unless it gets defeated — as shown by the revolutionary processes that ended up with capitalism, temporarily or definitively. It doesn’t collapse on its own, and it even demonstrates capacity for recovery. Who knew that the homeland of Lenin, of the first worker-peasant revolution in the history of humanity, would see restoration of capitalism, in a gangster version?

    Who knew that the United States, “mortally wounded” by the crisis of 1929, would preside over the longest and deepest cycle of expansion of capitalism in its history — its “golden era” according to Hobsbawm — after WW2, pressuring the USSR and defeating it technologically and economically, before facilitating its political implosion?

    I’m not saying this to be characterized as a propagandist of apologetic visions of capitalism or to encourage demoralization, but to perform a salutary affirmation of Brecht, who said that “we must attack the strongest flank of the enemy,” so as not to deceive ourselves about the real conditions of the battle against it, so as not to underestimate its forces, and, above all, so as not to overestimate our forces.

    Every crisis that the Left faces with hand-rubbing glee leaves it even more defeated than before, for such a Left is one content with contemplating the last days of a capitalist Pompeii, which however persists and survives thanks to the lack of alternatives — theoretical and political — on the Left, the very Left that appears to believe that finally one day, in the not too distant future, peoples of the world will be persuaded of its apocalyptic theory, without it having made its theory real as an economic, social, political, and ideological force.

    For the time being — as Marx said of the petit bourgeoisie — it seems that the people are not yet mature enough to understand the theory of a Left that is satisfied with itself, with our marvelous theory that tells us that, whether in the long, medium, or short term, inevitably history will reveal that it’s advancing toward socialism.

    The turns — both revolutionary and counter-revolutionary — of the 20th century have taught us nothing if we are still waiting for the corpse of our enemy to turn up, rather than meticulously preparing to make our dreams and utopias a reality, as recommended by Lenin’s revolutionary realism.

    ——————————————————————————–
    The original article “A crise do capitalismo e a esquerda” was published in the Blog do Emir section of the Carta Maior Web site on 18 September 2008. Click here for a Spanish translation by Insurrectas y Punto. English translation by Yoshie Furuhashi.
    ——————————————————————————–
    URL: mrzine.monthlyreview.org/sader200908.html
    ——————————————————————————–

  10. Donald Hawkins said on September 21st, 2008 at 9:43am #

    I forgot to write something it happens. On that seeing into the future thing. I use the past, history to help me with that. Sometimes the history, knowledge in say the last thirty years and the past that we have now been able to see though science in millions of years but to see into the future now days you know the best of times the worst of times is kind of a nobrainer half a brain will do very easy to see now. The answer, Oh man that is the question. Somehow we need to get those damn gods to stop laughing at us. I tried telling them kiss my ass didn’t work. I tried ignoring them didn’t work the laughter was still there. I tried reason didn’t work. I’ll tell you these gods now days are a tuff group. There must be a way, there must be away. These gods are very cleaver because it looks like they decided to not make themselves known to our leaders our fearless leaders. Just us the people can hear them very clever gods. There must be away.

  11. Art Jones said on September 21st, 2008 at 2:39pm #

    Isolating this debacle to a single institution this is a half truth. Join Gore and friends,. This argument fails to fully “ reconsider and change core values and plan”.
    First, your premise, “private hiring” is the root of all evil in today’s market lacks the slightest traction. Lacking an alternative from you, I presume “public hiring” is better or worker directed business solves this problem. At any rate, a democratic sort of decision making will work better. This allows us to invoke government monopoly and any alliance with government becomes unnecessary because government and business are the same. We move immediately to Corporate State Capitalism, also known as socialism or communism. Don’t get me wrong, if you can get that many people to agree without a forceful dictatorial hand, like Lenin or Mao Tse-Tung, this is not likely.
    Second, leadership, from Pelosi to Bush, messed up doing stupid things. I am disgusted with it too. Corporate leadership failed to manage their own institutions, protecting themselves for obvious risks. They loaned money to people with obvious problems paying any of it back. The congress in its largesse, failed to govern as it looked at this risky lending as an in to red lining, prejudice and new opportunity. Citizens, aka, voters and workers, bellied up to the lenders and borrowed like there was no tomorrow. Some were arguably ignorant. Most were drunk with the opportunity, gorging on cheap loans. The borrowers voted so to speak, taking out loans. These are our guides who collectively make the truly prudent decisions. They screwed up.
    Finally, the informed worker/voter is the answer, their vote with each dollar they spend counts more than the electoral vote. Their financial choices count more than their vote on a company’s decision on how much pollution to produce or what product to make. In the 1990s, the rules changed, it took awhile for corporations, legislators, and citizens to figure it out. And like our leaders, our worker/voters make mistakes.
    My arguments are simplistic too. Listen to the workers who rejected loans, and found themselves overruled by middle, not top management. Look at the vague contracts that one capitalist traded securities with another capitalist. Feel the euphoria of minorities, walking away, feeling they ‘bought” their home. Look at the congress person seeing the end of red lining. And government regulation, Oooh, those guys. They began stepping back with the blessing of all parties in the 1990s.
    Hey, it’s an election year, sit back, oversimplify, cut it to a sound bite. Now that’s education Bush, OBama and McCain style.
    I’m with Donald, let’s go fishing.

  12. bozhidar bob balkas said on September 21st, 2008 at 2:56pm #

    we better, methinks, ease up w. doctrines.
    conjectures by marx, lenin, hayek, sach, et al, r interesting, but that is all i can say ab. them.
    methinks that the word “capitalism” as used by most users of this word befuddles the issue.
    in short, so-called capitalism may consist of mns or bns of interpersonal relationships.
    it is this, the actualities we need to study. and, lo and behold, we find the ‘capitalism’ is eerily similar or same to any royal or feudal societal structure.
    in other words, what is now occuring in US and elsewhere on the structural level, is as old as the hills.
    as people have said, The more things change, the more they stay the same.
    and societal structure is well known and easily espied and understood.
    i’ve written ab it many times to corporate and alternate media.
    once u know a structure of a house, u can built it self: u need good base, studs, beams, truss, shingles, etc.
    similarly, u can build a much better societal structure if u: have managers and not rulers; referendums but only after fair discussion which must not not be managed by any private medium.
    a candidate for management sits in a circle. abolish use of money while a canditate runs for office.
    ensure that at least half of the elected people stem from working class.
    introduce education.
    thus far in US and elsewhere we’ve witnessed massive miseducation on how society is set or how it functions . thank u

  13. Alan MacDonald said on September 23rd, 2008 at 8:20am #

    Excellent article —- particularly this truth: “The egalitarian… society envisioned by social democracy cannot be secured so long as it leaves in place a group of people with incentives and means to prevent that.”

    Or as Raul Julia explained to Robert Redford in the movie “Havana” regarding the need to revolt against Batista’s fascist regime: “But they will not leave by asking NICELY”.

    The latest mass protests in Boston against the Bush/Paulson “corporate financial Empire’s” demands on the people are lighting a fire that this empire will live to regret.

    The news of mass protests from Boston is not a second Boston T(reasury) Party, but a continuation of the “outrage” against Empire that started the original Boston Tea Party!

    This “outrage” in Boston is a new ‘shot heard round the world’ against the complete political economic empire (like the political AND economic British Empire) that allows ruling-elite ‘corporate/financial Empire’ to metastasize from the economic realm and take-over the political realm.

    We patriots need to now continue and culminate the American Revolution, that allows America’s world-changing concept of ‘democracy’ to freely spread from the political realm to the whole of our indivisible political economy.

    ‘Free market democracy’ is a myth — a lie that never existed and was made up by the ruling-elite’s ‘corporatist Empire’ to make their economic take-over of our waning political democracy sound more friendly than the truthful term; ‘fascism’.

    What we’re facing is a far bigger battle than just the fleecing of this supposed ‘bailout’.

    What we are facing is the final showdown between the economic empire of ruling-elite financial royalists against the very concept of America’s most innovative contribution to the world: democracy — vs. the chance, with our courage, to finally complete the American Revolution against the rule of empire in all aspects of our lives and liberty.

    Today we have the opportunity of finally achieving the successful completion of the American Revolution; where the triumph of real democracy, rather than empire, in how men govern themselves, addresses the inexorably combined power of our indivisible political economy.

    The good news of this epic crisis is that the real American innovation of democracy will finally (after 232 years) be applied to both the realms of political and economic self-governance, rather than only to the political sphere — because empire, left alone in the economic sphere, has been perverting and trying to overthrow democracy since 1776.

    This is not a choice between ‘free market democracy’ (which is only a PR lie told by the ‘corporatist Empire’ behind the facade of their two-party ‘Vichy’ government) and the scare term of ‘socialism’ — but rather the long-delayed, final battle of the American Revolution, between democratic self-governance in the unified political economy of our country, or an economic empire of their corporatist/fascist elite metastasizing from the economic realm to the political realm and the whole of our society.

  14. Jonathan said on September 23rd, 2008 at 2:54pm #

    I wondered if someone could answer this question as in a way it seems pertinent to the discussion about bringing things down and the potential for introducing a saner and more humane way of organising society: What percentage of bank account holders could bankrupt the banking system by withdrawing all their money and defaulting on their loans? This is probably a naive and ignorant question but I would greatly appreciate some kind of response.
    Thanks

  15. Alan said on October 27th, 2008 at 1:17pm #

    A quick list of my thoughts regarding the incorrectness of this article:

    -With capitalism, people have choice, plain and simple. Choice = freedom.

    -The outsourcing of jobs is due to the success of the US, not its failure. The rise of the value of the dollar, due to the increased productivity of the nation, (had) made it cheaper for companies to outsource labor jobs for a lower cost to other countries. The US labor force had thus been in a period of transition to more highly educated and higher paid white collar service work, which should be seen as a positive. Those who are not able to make that transition are the ones we should be concerned about (we need education reform). But now, look around. With the huge decrease in the dollar value (a bad thing, due to the near-sighted philosophy of short-term debt) is causing other companies like VW to bring manufacturing back here.

    -People need resources (heat, food, water, paper). Companies find resources to provide to people. Competition for these resources makes the distribution more efficient. If people didn’t need resources, companies would not find them. How many buggy whip companies are out there now ruthlessly destroying the earth for better buggy whips?

    -Why are Americans the only ones allowed to be capitalists? Someone should tell Japan that we didn’t vote for their companies like Sony, Toyota, and Honda to sell their products here.

    -Yes, we have voted for a lot of what you say we have not voted for. All the people who vote for ‘Drill Baby Drill’ are directly voting to pillage the earth. But the only reason it’s an option is because people/employees want to heat their homes and drive their cars. That’s a different problem than capitalism.

    -Capitalism does create. Enreprenuers want to create personal wealth, and to do so, need some way to do that. In many cases, that means creating jobs that people want. Employees that are not entreprenuers want those jobs.

    -You can’t look at a few-year slice of time and make these huge end-game assumptions. All markets are cyclical to some extent. While large companies may have immediate economies of scale over small companies, small businesses are still the largest employers in the US.

    -Finding nothing new, capitalists tend to seek new opportunities, new ventures, and new technology. See how many patents IBM files each year. Look at the chips that Intel keeps releasing. Innovation is the life blood of capitalism, and while there may be stagnation and immediate profit seeking in the short term, that’s not a sustainable condition for any business over the long run.