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Sat Dec 1, 2012, 08:26 PM

Capitalism is not the enemy. Capitalism has improved the Lives of millions.

In general, life on planet earth has improved. Capitalism, has produced great advances for humanity and uplifted the standard of living of the poorest. The days of massive famines killing millions in China and India are over. In general, the world is much off.

While there are certainly many facts that I could use to back this up, one of the most convincing is Daily Calorie Intake Per Capita per each country in the world. A very interesting chart can be found by the following link. It shows each country globally and caloric intake from 90 onward.

http://chartsbin.com/view/1150

One thing comes across. While there are certainly some notable exceptions (i.e. The Congo), the developing world is getting more to eat on a whole. Moreover if the chart went back further, the gains would be even more profound. Capitalism, as a whole, has a positive effect on the lives of people. THere are poor people, but in general, they are better off. They are much better off then the centrally controlled systems in the old USSR or even in India of the 1950s.

Then, what is the problem today? I would suggest the problem today isn't capitalism, but an understanding of how to maximize the benefit of capitalism. Keynesian economics is basically right, in that it is demand that drives the system. Governments have an important role in helping to build a middle class and helping to ensure increased consumption. Use of the government to moderately redistribute some wealth is actually essential for a capitalist society to continue to grow economically. Doing so increases consumption and continues to fuel the system. While such redistribution can go to far and hurt growth, a progressive tax code(for example) helps economic growth.

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Reply Capitalism is not the enemy. Capitalism has improved the Lives of millions. (Original post)
BrentWil Dec 2012 OP
Dyedinthewoolliberal Dec 2012 #1
burnsei sensei Dec 2012 #129
marmar Dec 2012 #2
BrentWil Dec 2012 #3
quaker bill Dec 2012 #7
BrentWil Dec 2012 #10
quaker bill Dec 2012 #22
DemocratSinceBirth Dec 2012 #84
quaker bill Dec 2012 #231
BrentWil Dec 2012 #88
Mr. Blue Sky Dec 2012 #226
quaker bill Dec 2012 #230
Lydia Leftcoast Dec 2012 #43
BrentWil Dec 2012 #56
nadinbrzezinski Dec 2012 #54
kelliekat44 Dec 2012 #73
nadinbrzezinski Dec 2012 #103
allrevvedup Dec 2012 #208
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Response to BrentWil (Original post)

Sat Dec 1, 2012, 08:30 PM

1. I agree

Capitalism is capable of bringing the most goods to the most people at a reasonable price and acceptable time.
However, what we have all experienced is Capitalism without a conscience.
Unfettered, unregulated, unaccountable (for a large part) is what Capitalism is, to me, today...............

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Response to Dyedinthewoolliberal (Reply #1)

Sun Dec 2, 2012, 01:28 PM

129. Remember the one economic truth that GW Bush refused to learn:

Capitalism without principle is corruption.

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Response to BrentWil (Original post)

Sat Dec 1, 2012, 08:33 PM

2. But that kind of idealized capitalism you describe doesn't exist, and perhaps never has...

........ it's a rapacious, out-of-control beast now, and the pathetic attempts at reform we get are quickly squashed. The inmates run the asylum.
And in an era of finite resources and drastic environmental change, a system that relies on constant growth is perhaps best left back in the 20th century.



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Response to marmar (Reply #2)

Sat Dec 1, 2012, 08:42 PM

3. And were the poor better off in India in the 1950s?

Under Nehru's central planning?

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Response to BrentWil (Reply #3)

Sat Dec 1, 2012, 08:50 PM

7. Central planning did not work in the 1950s

which is why we did not have Wal Marts in the 1950s. No one could manage an enterprise that large with green eyeshades and ledger books. If the Soviets had digital just-in-time inventory like Amazon and Wal Mart, the state stores would always have had toilet paper, bread, and vodka. They would probably still be here. It is important to note today that Wal Mart is centrally planned and also larger than many national economies.

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Response to quaker bill (Reply #7)

Sat Dec 1, 2012, 09:01 PM

10. Central planning didn't work because there were political motivations instead of the profit

Fact is, Central planning and government ran economic fueled massive corruption in India, especially after Nehru. Human are greedy. You just have to figure out a way to drive that greed to benefit the whole society. The profit motive is still important.

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Response to BrentWil (Reply #10)

Sat Dec 1, 2012, 10:06 PM

22. Postulate as you may

central planning would not have worked as late as the 1980s, even without corruption. There was insufficient processing power to available handle at database that large. Once again, Wal Mart is a larger centrally planned operation than many national economies. I do not think there is much corruption in it and few places for any of it to hide.

I think your conception of human nature is poor.

Actually the one thing free markets are good at is creating waste. The whole supply-demand model depends on the "business cycle" going up and down like a roller coaster. There is waste on both the upside and the downside. Prices are controlled by over supply and wages are controlled by unemployment, both being wasted resources.

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Response to quaker bill (Reply #22)

Sun Dec 2, 2012, 09:47 AM

84. It's Not About Human Nature. It's About Math.

The wisdom of many is always better than the wisdom of a few because the dunderheads and the geniuses will cancel each other out. That's why the random walk theory works so well in investing. The averages will always be higher than almost all the great investor's picks because the common wisdom of many investors is greater than the wisdom of any one investor.


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Response to DemocratSinceBirth (Reply #84)

Wed Dec 5, 2012, 06:05 AM

231. You are missing the point

Investors guess about future performance often with limited data. Big retail does not guess, it calculates based on massive data that is live and updated with every transaction. They know who their buyers are in finely granulated detail. Use your debit card a few times and they will know which toilet paper brand you prefer. They then use this data.

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Response to quaker bill (Reply #22)

Sun Dec 2, 2012, 09:57 AM

88. Well, why isn't it?

There are many centrally ran government economies. We don't lack for for example today of government that try to centrally manage major economic activity.

Created less of a "roller coaster" is one of the things Keynes thought was important.

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Response to quaker bill (Reply #7)

Tue Dec 4, 2012, 08:55 AM

226. False comparision of Wal Mart to gov't central planning.

Wal Mart is not a producer....Wal Mart is a distributor, a conduit for the flow of goods from producer to consumer. Wal Mart doesn't dictate to it's suppliers how many products to produce, how much suppliers pay its own employees or how much suppliers charge Wal Mart for products. Although Wal Mart may pressure suppliers to keep costs down by the sheer weight of their marketing muscle, suppliers ultimately make those decisions on what to charge Wal Mart and how much to pay their own employees.

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Response to Mr. Blue Sky (Reply #226)

Wed Dec 5, 2012, 05:57 AM

230. It was an illustration, not an analogy

There are many documentaries on Wal Mart that indicate that many of your statements are incorrect, but that was not the point anyway.

The point is really this simple, we now live in an era of big live data. The technological threshold has been reached where central planning of pretty much anything could be based on real time data.

Wal Mart does not simply go shopping for its stuff, it contracts for its invenory to be produced in advance in the quantities that its big data tells it will be needed. It adjusts those numbers as the live data indicates a change in demand. It organizes distribution as its live data indicates resupply is needed.

All that stuff aside, the existence of the technological capacity to do "just in time" inventory on an enterprise as large as many national economies did not exist 50 years ago.

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Response to BrentWil (Reply #3)

Sat Dec 1, 2012, 10:53 PM

43. In some cases, yes

The rise of the middle class has encouraged merchants to charge higher prices for staples like rice, lentils, and flour, but the wages of the poor have not kept up. Furthermore, you might want to read up on suicides among Indian farmers.

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Response to Lydia Leftcoast (Reply #43)

Sun Dec 2, 2012, 01:13 AM

56. No one would argue in some cases...

There are always something that one can point to to say it is worse off.

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Response to BrentWil (Reply #3)

Sun Dec 2, 2012, 12:43 AM

54. You know, a few economists and historians

Have argued we have become what we fought...yup, central planning and all...by monopolies.

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Response to BrentWil (Reply #3)

Sun Dec 2, 2012, 07:46 AM

73. If mankind could ever get to ideal socialism or ideal capitalism...either would work ...but

greed and corruption in both systems caused their ultimate failure. Capitalism if failing as we breathe right now. And allowed to continue with the vulture capitalists it will not only destroy the soul of man but it will destroy man's habitat as well.

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Response to kelliekat44 (Reply #73)

Sun Dec 2, 2012, 10:54 AM

103. Both are Utopias

And products of the utopian age, and bookends

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Response to nadinbrzezinski (Reply #103)

Mon Dec 3, 2012, 11:49 AM

208. More's 1515 Utopia is an explicit critique of capitalism

 

or what we now call capitalism, namely the pursuit of private profit and accumulation of private wealth through mercantile activity. It's harsh and there's no mistaking what he means once he gets rolling in Book II: Utopia is "utopian" because it's a money-less, private-property-less commonwealth. Here are some highlights from a 1901 translation (the original is in Latin):

“Thus have I described to you, as particularly as I could, the Constitution of that commonwealth, which I do not only think the best in the world, but indeed the only commonwealth that truly deserves that name. In all other places it is visible that, while people talk of a commonwealth, every man only seeks his own wealth; but there, where no man has any property, all men zealously pursue the good of the public, and, indeed, it is no wonder to see men act so differently, for in other commonwealths every man knows that, unless he provides for himself, how flourishing soever the commonwealth may be, he must die of hunger, so that he sees the necessity of preferring his own concerns to the public; but in Utopia, where every man has a right to everything, they all know that if care is taken to keep the public stores full no private man can want anything; for among them there is no unequal distribution, so that no man is poor, none in necessity, and though no man has anything, yet they are all rich; for what can make a man so rich as to lead a serene and cheerful life, free from anxieties; neither apprehending want himself, nor vexed with the endless complaints of his wife? He is not afraid of the misery of his children, nor is he contriving how to raise a portion for his daughters; but is secure in this, that both he and his wife, his children and grand-children, to as many generations as he can fancy, will all live both plentifully and happily . . . .

The richer sort are often endeavouring to bring the hire of labourers lower, not only by their fraudulent practices, but by the laws which they procure to be made to that effect, so that though it is a thing most unjust in itself to give such small rewards to those who deserve so well of the public, yet they have given those hardships the name and colour of justice, by procuring laws to be made for regulating them.

“Therefore I must say that, as I hope for mercy, I can have no other notion of all the other governments that I see or know, than that they are a conspiracy of the rich, who, on pretence of managing the public, only pursue their private ends, and devise all the ways and arts they can find out; first, that they may, without danger, preserve all that they have so ill-acquired, and then, that they may engage the poor to toil and labour for them at as low rates as possible, and oppress them as much as they please; . . . . yet these wicked men, after they have, by a most insatiable covetousness, divided that among themselves with which all the rest might have been well supplied, are far from that happiness that is enjoyed among the Utopians; for the use as well as the desire of money being extinguished, much anxiety and great occasions of mischief is cut off with it, and who does not see that the frauds, thefts, robberies, quarrels, tumults, contentions, seditions, murders, treacheries, and witchcrafts . . . if money were not any more valued by the world?


http://www.gutenberg.org/files/2130/2130-h/2130-h.htm

And to be perfectly honest I agree with him!

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Response to allrevvedup (Reply #208)

Mon Dec 3, 2012, 12:32 PM

210. Yeah, but I am talking of Smith

Which was also a critique, and Marx. Both are Utopias.

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Response to nadinbrzezinski (Reply #210)

Mon Dec 3, 2012, 12:48 PM

212. They might be utopian but they are not Utopias.

 

Utopia was written in 1515 by Thomas More and he (possibly with Erasmus) came up with the title. It was first published in Louvain in Dec. 1516. It's a small point I suppose but More's Utopia is definitely, explicitly, unmistakably an in-your-face critique of capitalism.

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Response to allrevvedup (Reply #212)

Mon Dec 3, 2012, 01:57 PM

217. An utopian philosophy is a type of thinking.

It is a philosophy. It is also a literary genre. Moore's Utopia is not the first either. There were several in this genre in classical times.

For example, Plato's Republic is considered Utopian as well.

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Response to nadinbrzezinski (Reply #217)

Wed Dec 5, 2012, 07:00 AM

234. More's Utopia was the first Utopia.

 

Can we at least agree on that? He or possibly Erasmus made up the word, a neologism meaning "no place" or "good place" in case you skipped that class. But I heartily agree with you, there was already a genre of ideal commonwealth writing, now known as utopian, before More came along. Cicero wrote one too, and some would include Augustine's City of God, but More's squarish equatorial island -- not coincidentally resembling Cuba more than Britain -- was definitely an anti-mercantile, anti-colonial, classless collective paradise.

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Response to allrevvedup (Reply #234)

Wed Dec 5, 2012, 11:27 AM

237. You are fixed on tittle

Have at it...whatever.

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Response to BrentWil (Original post)

Sat Dec 1, 2012, 08:44 PM

4. It's Not Capitalism Anymore When the Robber Barons Buy the Government

There is another word for that form of government. It starts with an "F".

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Response to AndyTiedye (Reply #4)

Sat Dec 1, 2012, 08:49 PM

5. How have Buffett, Gates, or Soros "bought the government"?

 

#'s 1, 2 and 10.

(I would name others but they are not famous)

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Response to BrentWil (Original post)

Sat Dec 1, 2012, 08:50 PM

6. Ummm...

 

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Response to BrentWil (Original post)

Sat Dec 1, 2012, 08:54 PM

8. Today's capitalism - with emphasis on short-term profits by almost any means - is a problem.

If it is close to legal, greedy bastards will do anything for a buck under the guise of capitalism. Morality, equity, and society don't matter.

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Response to Hoyt (Reply #8)

Sat Dec 1, 2012, 08:57 PM

9. sounds like the flea market down the street

 

those fuckers only care about what they sell that day.

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Response to BrentWil (Original post)

Sat Dec 1, 2012, 09:06 PM

11. Capitalism isn't the enemy. Deregulated capitalism is.

You know - things like getting rid of the Fairness Doctrine, media consolidation, creating monopolies, transferring wealth into the hands of few, things like that. That's the real enemy of society.

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Response to BrentWil (Original post)

Sat Dec 1, 2012, 09:06 PM

12. The rush to laissez faire capitalism is what's going to kill this country if

we don't start bringing back the rules and regulations that kept it under control in the decades that seem to have given the largest number of Americans prosperity and overall prosperity as well.

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Response to BrentWil (Original post)

Sat Dec 1, 2012, 09:29 PM

13. You are arguing from the context of agrarian civilization

 

Well, maybe capitalism coincided with us coming back from the brink a bit (or maybe it was the discovery of oil and coal that drastically increased available per capita energy almost overnight). Regardless, life is still a steaming cess pile of shit dress up in an oxycotin numbing pill.

You are advocating what you perceive as making cess-life less shitty. Unfortunately, you are not advocating the cessation of cess-life.

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Response to NoOneMan (Reply #13)

Sat Dec 1, 2012, 09:33 PM

14. I would certainly advocate the cessation of cess-life..

In one easy step, if possible. Unfortunately, it isn't. Unless you have the plan for the "cessation of cess-life".

Moderate improvement over time and try to deal with problems as they come.

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Response to BrentWil (Reply #14)

Sat Dec 1, 2012, 09:37 PM

15. Dealing with problems as they come just increases social complexity

 

Which leads to more problems, over and over, requiring more energy to maintain, to the point of diminishing returns, ultimately leading to collapse when no "solution" can present itself. Thats our gig in a nutshell. Its no big deal. Its how we roll.

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Response to NoOneMan (Reply #15)

Sat Dec 1, 2012, 09:41 PM

16. Then what is the "solution" NT

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Response to BrentWil (Reply #16)

Sat Dec 1, 2012, 09:56 PM

20. By now, there may be none

 

If you want to perpetuate infinite growth civilization, there is no solution; it will end in collapse inevitably. Either by global warming and ecosystem breakdown, or whatever the next crisis that is created in the unstable ever growing system that is best at kicking cans down the road.

If you have no care for business-as-usual, you may still be screwed, as the carbon in the atmosphere isn't going away any time soon and +4C to +8C may be just around the corner. With that said, humans lived for a hundred thousand years in harmony/statis with their environments (without famines, epidemics, overshoot, alienation, labor exploitation and all that other good stuff still present in capitalistic societies). Some still do and there are a variety of viable models if anyone gave more of a shit about quality-of-life over quality-of-iPad.

But in reality land, with the momentum of civilization what it is--even if enough conditioned minds could be pried away from their blessed Hindenburg--they would not be let go so easily. So, yes, we are all probably screwed regardless.

The best we can hope for is complete economic collapse giving us a chance to reorganize both our society and our economic system (if we use one at all) before climate change wipes us out completely. I strongly doubt thats going to happen.

But, hey mom, look, capitalism gave me a shiny iPad. Yay. Thats how we roll.

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Response to NoOneMan (Reply #20)

Sun Dec 2, 2012, 05:38 AM

70. "The best we can hope for is complete economic collapse"

But wasn't that what TARP "prevented?" I was under the impression that one of the primary tenets of capitalism was that you either succeeded or failed based on your savvy and hard work. But TARP contradicted this notion.

I agree that a "complete economic collapse" would have given us the chance to "reorganized." but I heard many folks at the time tell me in defense of TARP that "if we hadn't done it, we'd all be out of jobs with no savings or pensions," so we kept a gang of corrupt, criminal capitalists in power as we continue to limp along relieved that we still have crappy jobs with dwindling 401Ks.

But as you observed, climate change on this planet will render such questions moot.

But for now, TARP preserved the corpse for the maggots to feed a little longer.

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Response to NoOneMan (Reply #20)

Sun Dec 2, 2012, 09:52 AM

85. Why Wouldn't A Complete Economic Collapse Result In A "Lord Of The Flies" Situation?

As Thomas Hobbes opined , in the absence of a strong sovereign " life would be nasty, brutish, and short."

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Response to DemocratSinceBirth (Reply #85)

Sun Dec 2, 2012, 12:54 PM

119. Its possible, but hey, whats the alternative?

 

Overshoot into oblivion?

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Response to NoOneMan (Reply #119)

Sun Dec 2, 2012, 01:08 PM

123. To Muddle Through With What We Have Now And To Improve It To Make It As Kind And Fair As Possible/nt

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Response to DemocratSinceBirth (Reply #123)

Sun Dec 2, 2012, 01:17 PM

126. Good luck muddling through 400ppm of CO2

 

I don't think you comprehend the magnitude of business-as-usual. In short time you will

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Response to NoOneMan (Reply #126)

Sun Dec 2, 2012, 01:23 PM

128. I Don't Think That Will Happen In Our Lifetimes Or Children's Children's Children's Lifetimes

As Lord Keynes said "in the long run will all be dead."

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Response to DemocratSinceBirth (Reply #128)

Sun Dec 2, 2012, 01:29 PM

130. You really do not seem to understand the magnitude

 

We will crest the 400 ppm mark in under 5 years. We are at the point of no return now that the ocean's are turning acidic 10X the rate ever before, and warming will proceed ahead 20X the rate ever before, unleashing a plethora of feedback loops like tundra methane release and ice sheet melting.

There will likely be no children's children's children. Put a fork in it.

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Response to DemocratSinceBirth (Reply #85)

Mon Dec 3, 2012, 03:05 AM

194. Hobbes is no better than Rand

 

And real life experiences of how people react to economic collapses give very different evidence than Lord Of The Flies.

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Response to tama (Reply #194)

Mon Dec 3, 2012, 12:13 PM

209. Like Riots/No Thanks

Tougher men will run absolutely roughshod over weaker men if there is no sovereign to check them.


All one needs to do is look at the history of mass disturbances.

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Response to DemocratSinceBirth (Reply #209)

Mon Dec 3, 2012, 12:49 PM

213. What else is "sovereign"

 

but tougher men running absolutely roughshod over weaker men?

Anthropology shows that most human cultures have been non-hierarchic, very equal and democratic. It's the hierarchic class societies that are based on systemic violence.

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Response to tama (Reply #213)

Mon Dec 3, 2012, 03:28 PM

218. Hopefully, The Sovereign Is Given The Right To Use Force Fairly And Judiciously

Human beings are animals, albeit high functioning animals. That being said their first goal is their survival. If they can not ensure their survival through legitimate means they will ensure their survival through illegitimate means. That's why men entered into social compacts.

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Response to DemocratSinceBirth (Reply #218)

Mon Dec 3, 2012, 03:55 PM

220. It is fine to be animal

 

being told by another animal what is the first goal of this animal and all other animals. I see lots of all-knowing animals, and to my pleasure all the all-knowing animals disagree very much with each other.

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Response to tama (Reply #220)

Mon Dec 3, 2012, 05:36 PM

221. Is Survival Not The First Goal Of Any Living Being?

Abraham Maslow conceded that was the case.

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Response to DemocratSinceBirth (Reply #221)

Mon Dec 3, 2012, 05:46 PM

222. Did Maslow ask all living beings?

 

Who, as far as we know, all die at least in this material form, sooner or later, and some of whom even claim to conscious of their mortality. And some of whom commit suicides for various reasons.

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Response to tama (Reply #222)

Mon Dec 3, 2012, 06:18 PM

224. That Just Proves The Rule

Suicide is a statistically rare phenomenon. That suggests that no matter how crappy a person't life is he or she is loathe to end it.

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Response to BrentWil (Reply #16)

Sat Dec 1, 2012, 10:42 PM

37. What the parasite class living of capital interests and work of others fear most:

 



In other words, stop trying to "fix" our problems by causing more and more problems and just do nothing and stop causing problems. General strike to figure out what are our real needs and how we can satisfy our needs with most ease and in peace and balance with rest of nature.

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Response to tama (Reply #37)

Sun Dec 2, 2012, 01:23 AM

60. But they can't help themselves...

they are inbred capitalist, I mean fascist control freaks. And that means that unless they have control over everyone and everything, they can never be satisfied. And since they already have all the money to buy military support, we're screwed. The only thing that could possibly save us is if everything they depend on shuts down... or maybe a super-duper magic gamma ray from outer space comes and turns off all the power and makes machines not work... I dunno...? We're running out of options.

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Response to 2naSalit (Reply #60)

Mon Dec 3, 2012, 03:02 AM

193. I can see

 

Occupy etc. global movements as the glue to radicalize and bring together local/national unions and workers to cooperate on global scale. It is certainly a possibility, but of course saying that something is possible does not make it happen. But it gives hope.

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Response to BrentWil (Original post)

Sat Dec 1, 2012, 09:42 PM

17. Capitalism is not the same thing as Industrialization.

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Response to Odin2005 (Reply #17)

Sun Dec 2, 2012, 02:54 AM

68. This is the rebuttal to OP. +1000

Capitalism is NOT what caused those things, industrialization is.

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Response to Odin2005 (Reply #17)

Sun Dec 2, 2012, 09:12 AM

83. Chicken dinner!


You have identified one of the major false equivalencies on which this OP rests.

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Response to Odin2005 (Reply #17)

Mon Dec 3, 2012, 10:35 AM

202. Capitalism is also not the same thing as democracy or social progress.

Most of that good stuff has been won by people fighting or reforming "capitalism."

You can't just cite statistics about higher caloric intake or better sewage disposal and give the credit to "capitalism."

Ironically, powerful and developed states emphasizing nationalism are more often than not more responsible for these higher standards of living and social developments than the growth of for-profit business.

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Response to BrentWil (Original post)

Sat Dec 1, 2012, 09:43 PM

18. It's all relative. Maybe for a whole bunch of European imperialists it has. Maybe even not them.

Last edited Sun Dec 2, 2012, 12:45 PM - Edit history (1)

As for the rest of us...well, no, not so much.


"But Smohalla," said I, "the country is all filling up with white people and their herds. The game is nearly all gone. Would it not be better for your young Indians to learn the white man's work ?"

"My young men shall never work," said he with a wave of the hand, including numerous imaginary Indians, as well as the two seated near by. " Men who work cannot dream, and wisdom comes to us in dreams."

" But your young men have to work hard during the fishing season to get food for winter."

"We simply take the gifts that are freely offered. We no more harm the earth than would an infant's fingers harm its mother's breast. But the white man tears up large tracts of land, runs deep ditches, cuts down forests, and changes the whole face of the earth. You know very well this is not right. Every honest man,'" said he, looking at me searchingly, "knows in his heart that this is all wrong. But the white men are so greedy they do not consider these things."



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Response to Zorra (Reply #18)

Sun Dec 2, 2012, 03:17 PM

151. ^^^This ^^^

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Response to Zorra (Reply #18)

Sun Dec 2, 2012, 11:09 PM

174. European Imperialists

 

who have never experienced freedom and have little idea what it means, talk awfully lot about it.

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Response to BrentWil (Original post)

Sat Dec 1, 2012, 09:43 PM

19. I Sincerely Disagree

 

Capitalism is the objectification of all things, whether they be tool, worker, or machine.



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Response to Taverner (Reply #19)

Sat Dec 1, 2012, 10:01 PM

21. It takes people to objectify.

Costco is an example of benign capitalism. That 70 y/o grocery chain owner who gave his stores to his employees is another.

Capitalism is not the enemy. Unregulated capitalism is. An emphasis on social contracts would help.

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Response to randome (Reply #21)

Sat Dec 1, 2012, 10:09 PM

25. costco isn't an example of benign capitalism capitalism that pays above prevailing wage

 

isn't benign, it's just better than capitalism that pays minimum.

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Response to HiPointDem (Reply #25)

Sat Dec 1, 2012, 10:11 PM

27. Costco does more than pay better.

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Response to randome (Reply #27)

Sat Dec 1, 2012, 10:20 PM

30. it very well may. that doesn't make it benign capitalism. all capitalism participates in the

 

character of capitalism. it's not benign.

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Response to HiPointDem (Reply #30)

Sat Dec 1, 2012, 10:22 PM

32. How would you put tens of millions of people to work, then?

I don't see any other system that can cope with that many people. We sure as hell could do with fewer people on this planet but we have to work with what we've got.

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Response to randome (Reply #32)

Sat Dec 1, 2012, 10:51 PM

41. We don't want

 

to put tens of millions people to work, as inside capitalism the word "work" without exception means some form of slavery. We want freedom from work.



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Response to tama (Reply #41)

Sun Dec 2, 2012, 09:55 AM

86. If Everybody Is Free From Work How Do We Get Goodies Like Food, Shelter, And Medical Care?

Never mind air condition, heat, and internet access?

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Response to DemocratSinceBirth (Reply #86)

Sun Dec 2, 2012, 09:09 PM

171. There's no plan

 

Nature gives and we are part of nature, free to do and give and create. We are social beings and we have need to be useful members of society.

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Response to tama (Reply #171)

Mon Dec 3, 2012, 12:56 PM

214. To quote Travolta in Pulp Fiction: "A bum. You've decided to be a bum."

Nature isn't enough for hairless apes with big brains.

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Response to randome (Reply #214)

Mon Dec 3, 2012, 01:30 PM

216. What else is there?

 

What is supernatural and how can you get enough supernatural for hairless apes with big brains?

In other words, IMO the nature-culture divide is not only totally artificial and irrational, but also the root of many of our problems.

And yes, proud to be a bum!

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Response to DemocratSinceBirth (Reply #86)

Wed Dec 5, 2012, 06:09 AM

232. Productivity in the US has increased by a factor of 4 since WW II

One person can make as much food, shelter, and medical care as four used to. What would you suggest for the three surplus people--turning them into soylent green?

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Response to eridani (Reply #232)

Wed Dec 5, 2012, 09:25 AM

235. How About Finding Something For Everbody To Do That Gives Him Or Her A Sense Of Self Worth/nt

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Response to DemocratSinceBirth (Reply #235)

Wed Dec 5, 2012, 01:25 PM

238. Alternatively, we could just deal with the fact that it takes fewer and fewer people to make

--more and more stuff. Cutting work hours while not cutting pay would help a lot for starters.

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Response to randome (Reply #32)

Sun Dec 2, 2012, 01:30 AM

62. Capitalism doesn't create work.

It creates unemployment. It drives down wages.

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Response to randome (Reply #21)

Sat Dec 1, 2012, 10:10 PM

26. Is it possible to regulate any economic system of a complex society, such that...

 

It always operates within the finite bounds of the underlying system, thereby always preserving ecological balance with nature and securing its long-term stability?

And I haven't even begun to ask questions about regulation concerning its impact on the human condition.

You people cheerleading for your own personal taste of environmental cultivation, domination and exploitation crack me up.

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Response to NoOneMan (Reply #26)

Sat Dec 1, 2012, 10:20 PM

31. I'm not cheerleading anything.

The FACT is that most people are quite happy with the concept of capitalism. It could definitely be better and I hope that as the GOP loses its grip on power, we will finally see more regulations take hold that are better for society.

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Response to randome (Reply #31)

Sat Dec 1, 2012, 10:30 PM

34. We may not even have a society in 100 years, thanks in some part to capitalism

 

If all the feedbacks loops push warming past +4C, politics and economics will have a chance to bask in the glory of their irrelevance. Then who will ask how much better its made the human condition?

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Response to NoOneMan (Reply #34)

Sat Dec 1, 2012, 10:44 PM

38. You got that right.

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Response to randome (Reply #38)

Sun Dec 2, 2012, 12:57 PM

122. Amen. We are just now seeing the 'awesome' results of capitalism. Wait 50 yrs & get back to us.nt

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Response to randome (Reply #21)

Sun Dec 2, 2012, 08:16 PM

168. There can be benign capitalism. There can also be a benign tumor.

 

But neither is really desirable is it?

Look - I understand everything is in the intent.

Do you intend to make products, or do you intend to make money?

Right now, it is illegal to be a publicly held corporation and have a goal other than making money.

Privately held corporations are bound to their charters.

In the end, they usually amount to "make money or you're fired."

That's capitalism.

Letting the beast that is the market run free.

You can regulate it, but why, in the end protect such an irrational monster?

Either it's our pet, or we're its.

Which will it be?

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Response to BrentWil (Original post)

Sat Dec 1, 2012, 10:07 PM

23. it has. it's also ruined the lives of millions. so on balance it's a wash at best.

 

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Response to BrentWil (Original post)

Sat Dec 1, 2012, 10:08 PM

24. Of course Capitalism has made the world better. Even Marxists won't argue that point.

What they will argue, and I think it is something everyone should seriously consider, is that capitalism has ran its course. It has ceased to be a force for progress in the world. Feudalism was once a progressive force compared to the slave societies that came before it, but it eventually ran its course. Capitalism has ran its course as well. It cannot be sustained forever, something will replace it. Perhaps it will be socialism, perhaps it will be something else, but capitalism cannot last forever.

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Response to white_wolf (Reply #24)

Sat Dec 1, 2012, 10:25 PM

33. Its really hard to tell if something has ran its course...

When you are living. Much easier to look in history books and see patterns. Statements of certainty about the near term future often just prove the speaker wrong.

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Response to BrentWil (Reply #33)

Sat Dec 1, 2012, 10:57 PM

44. "has RUN its course"--

sorry to be such a grammar stickler. both of you

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Response to BrentWil (Reply #33)

Sat Dec 1, 2012, 11:05 PM

46. How hard?

 

Without idealized ideology, capitalism as we know it is based on infinite growth and finite energy capital of fossile fuels. The real wages and energy consumption per capita have been stagnated or dropping since 70's. Since 2008 it's been quite clear that we have reached global PO plateau, as more or less predicted by Club of Rome and numerous geologists. As real wage consumption demand has not been increasing but going down, demand creation has been based on inflating huge and huger debt bubbles to be replaced with even huger when they burst, until 2008 when that game stopped working.

Collapse of imperially globalized capitalism and the millennia long patterns of imperial civilizations that have led to capitalism as we know it is not a simple and sudden process in terms of normal human attention span. But it's pretty safe to say that is what we are now living.

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Response to white_wolf (Reply #24)

Sat Dec 1, 2012, 10:41 PM

36. Your summary reminds me of corporations I've worked in ... start up companies require one

type of leadership, moving from the successful start up to the growing company another type of leadership ... and from that to sustaining, etc. To me, capitalism worked very well in its time, but the win/lose scenario has passed its time, much as has the endless accumulation of wealth and grow, grow, grow. Capitalism is now obsolete ... and has been for awhile.

Times change and capitalism must adapt or be gone.

Corporations often fail, because the leadership has failed to change and adapt. IMO the same will be true for capitalism. The king of the mountain mentality is passe.

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Response to BrentWil (Original post)

Sat Dec 1, 2012, 10:12 PM

28. Must be well-regulated; if not, vipers take over.

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Response to BrentWil (Original post)

Sat Dec 1, 2012, 10:17 PM

29. The root cause of problems with capitalism from my perspective is the

system has become derailed by leveraged wealth and the marriage between corporations and government, ushering in those that manipulate to advantage themselves and their cronies in the system. Hence, the people, the majority, are not really represented. They vote, but they are influenced by massive propaganda and disinformation spewed by the manipulators. Hence the truth lies behind a veil of distortions ...

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Response to RKP5637 (Reply #29)

Sat Dec 1, 2012, 10:50 PM

40. I think you discovered the inevitable.

What happens in a system where *winning* is eliminating competition? It's a positive feedback for the winners.

Figure in the increases in productivity, and the trend to eliminating expenses, exploitation and decline of resources, out-sourcing, automation, cutting out the worker, and concentrating the wealth where it already is.

That's what the "free market" wants to do.

--imm

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Response to immoderate (Reply #40)

Sat Dec 1, 2012, 11:35 PM

50. Yep, it's a system that often handsomely rewards bullying and

sociopathic like behaviours. And then some wonder why we have some of the bullying in this society!

That behaviour is often taught nearly from birth for some. To me, unchecked capitalism leads to a dystopia.

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Response to BrentWil (Original post)

Sat Dec 1, 2012, 10:30 PM

35. Capitalism, like beer and socialism, is great in moderation. nt

 

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Response to BrentWil (Original post)

Sat Dec 1, 2012, 10:44 PM

39. BOTH!

I don't understand why this is such a difficult concept:

Essential Services are best provided by Social Services.

Personal Services are best provided by Innovative Private Services, which allow individuals a choice of services. which do not seek monopolistic contracts.

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Response to NashvilleLefty (Reply #39)

Sat Dec 1, 2012, 11:13 PM

48. Concept of Capitalism

 

refers to the concept of capital and profiting from control of capital (ie. means of production and financial capital). Division of services into social and private is not meaningful in that sense, as e.g. Occupy Sandy is "private" service initiated by mostly anti-capitalist non-profit movement working mostly on the basis of gift economy (of mutual aid, not charity).

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Response to BrentWil (Original post)

Sat Dec 1, 2012, 10:51 PM

42. Tell that to slave workers in Burma or Bangladesh

Travel around Latin America, then get back to us

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Response to AgingAmerican (Reply #42)

Sat Dec 1, 2012, 11:09 PM

47. Well..

Been to India, Africa, and a few Latin American countries...

What happened in Bangladesh was awful.

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Response to BrentWil (Original post)

Sat Dec 1, 2012, 11:03 PM

45. Meanwhile, the real standard of living for much of theAmerican & European middle-class has declined.

That has occurred in large part because of declining real median purchasing power, the hollowing out of employment in many sectors, and the upward concentration of wealth in advanced post-industrial Capitalist economies.

Probably, nothing that a good dose of socialism and reregulation of capital can't cure, but it will be decades before we get back to where we were in the mid-1970s when real median earnings, full employment and purchasing power peaked.

Just by coincidence, someone just posted a graph that shows the huge, growing disparity between tuition costs at public 4 year colleges and average wages. Things are getting dramatically worse for middle-class Americans who can no longer afford to educate their children. See, http://www.democraticunderground.com/10021912934

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Response to BrentWil (Original post)

Sat Dec 1, 2012, 11:17 PM

49. Well, yes. Sweden and Norway are better than North Korea and Cuba (nt)

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Response to BrentWil (Original post)

Sat Dec 1, 2012, 11:49 PM

51. We tried the Keynesian answer once, from about 1935-1975, but we're back in the same pickle again.

Wealth is more lopsided than it has been in decades.

Wealthy corporations and individuals use their money power to exert political power. Then they use their political power to rig the system and add to their money power. And so on in a viscous circle. That's capitalism.

If Keynesian economic management was the answer, we wouldn't be back in this situation again. Keynesian policies seemed good, but in the long run they failed, because the underlying economic structures were left in tact. Immediately after the death of FDR, the corporations immediately started working to undo and repeal the New Deal reforms, maybe most notably by passage of the Taft-Hartley Act in 1947.

This time, let's make more fundamental changes to the underlying processes and structures in our economy, so corporations can not immediately undo any reforms we make.

We will need laws to break the power of the banks, big corporations and very wealthy individuals. When we do that, it will make our both economy and our politics more fair and democratic.

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Response to limpyhobbler (Reply #51)

Sun Dec 2, 2012, 12:39 AM

53. I can't disagree with your conclusion.

However, how do we get to the roots and pull out the weeds while leaving behind the the plants we want to nurture and grow?

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Response to Cleita (Reply #53)

Sun Dec 2, 2012, 03:01 PM

148. Just say exactly what we want.

Are you asking how we can get rid of the bad aspects of our economic system, while keeping the good parts like modern technology?

I don't think anybody has it all figured out. You may have some better ideas on it.

We don't have to surrender control of our economy to a small elite of decision makers in order to have a healthy society. For example, do we really need so much finance and profit involved with medical research, developing new drugs, new technologies, new science? I don't think so. Seems to me the financial bankers and corporate managers are sucking a lot of money out of the system. And they are also guiding the direction of new development based on what is profitable, instead of what is good for society.

Or for example when a factory moves overseas and devastates a town, throwing everyone out of work. It's not fair to treat people like disposable human garbage. So we just need to say look sorry, maybe this factory stays and the owners can leave.

The OP is right there have been a lot of good things to come from this economic system. But we all know economies and societies evolve over time. So the question going forward is how do we influence the evolution to make our society better.

Let's just say exactly what we want. Like you signature line: Medicare for all. Demand it.

Just say exactly what we want. And then talk to a lot of people and organize to make it happen.


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Response to limpyhobbler (Reply #148)

Sun Dec 2, 2012, 03:24 PM

153. I have thought about a utopian type technological society, actually for a fictional

story I want to write. Roughly it goes something like this.

We practice true democracy and socialism. There is limited capitalism. Every one has a life's work that they do, even if it's sweeping streets that they work at the equivalent of six months a year. The other six months they spend pursuing interests and arts or sciences, whatever they like to do. The hours earned while they work to keep society going is sufficient to support them when they aren't working. Money isn't in gold but labor units, like an hour's work is worth something depending on how skilled or how dangerous the job is.

The guys on the bottom of the labor rung though earn enough for a comfortable middle class life, sort of like white people had in the fifties where the man of the house earned union wages even if he was digging ditches. You know a single family home, a couple of cars, enough money for some recreation, and little luxuries like going to the beauty salon. There is a capitalistic side of merchants, but no one is allowed to be super rich. There is a limit on wealth.

Anyway I sort of started working on an outline of it and haven't thought it all the way through, pitfalls and such. Once I set up this society, then the destroyers come in who feel they aren't getting enough and they want that property the ditch digger owns and they want to control the waterworks and other aspects of the commons in society in order to rule. So they start a war to get these things. The story of course produces heroes and villains. But like I said there is a lot of back story involved and that is setting up this society and then testing it on paper to see if it can work. I guess I'm trying to explore what the Achilles heel would be in such a utopian society.

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Response to Cleita (Reply #153)

Sun Dec 2, 2012, 03:59 PM

158. hmmm...

a few thoughts.

Maybe the Achilles heel is that the citizens started to take their pleasant lives for granted, they didn't stay actively involved enough. Or that the society wasn't set up in a way that required citizens to actively participate in decision making and governing. And the idea would be that next time, everybody is going to have to stay involved and participate, because there really is no utopia as such. Sometimes people mistakenly think socialism is going to mean the end of politics or end of conflicts between different groups in society. But in a proper socialism, I think there will be even more politics and lots of disagreement, because people will be more actively participating.

Another idea, for the Achilles heel, is that maybe this society didn't go far enough when regulating and limiting capitalism. They thought they had put it in a safe container. But it busted loose and came back to bite them. Maybe next time they will make sure to properly de-fang capital by taking democratic control of the means of production.

It's a really interesting idea though, I would like to read a story like that.


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Response to limpyhobbler (Reply #158)

Sun Dec 2, 2012, 04:32 PM

164. Thanks. If I ever get it written, I will send you some pages

and you can tell me whether it's interesting enough for you to read further.

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Response to Cleita (Reply #164)

Sun Dec 2, 2012, 08:55 PM

170. ok cool

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Response to Cleita (Reply #53)

Sun Dec 2, 2012, 11:28 PM

175. General strike

 

or rather and more likely, escalating series of general strikes, wider and longer up to global level and until...

By not doing we will find out what we as a whole like doing and what needs to be done. And what can be left undone with no worries, and in fact less harm done. It's very clear that most of the work (wage slavery) done today is not only unnecessary but also harmful to our overall well being.

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Response to tama (Reply #175)

Mon Dec 3, 2012, 12:40 AM

182. I wish it were possible. In large cities, it could be useful,

but in our large, spread out and very rural in places, nation, it's hard to do it nationwide, not like in Europe where the countries are smaller and it has an immediate effect.

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Response to Cleita (Reply #182)

Mon Dec 3, 2012, 01:00 AM

185. Oh it's possible

 

and in fact I consider it very likely; but we are not talking about single event but a complex process. Occupy, indignados etc. are international global movement with close ties to organized labor and labor organizing, we are seeing class consciousness rising rapidly in America and elsewhere (99% meme was a strike of political genious) and new wave of labor activism; there's already been multinational General Strike in Southern Europe with solidarity actions in rest of EU; the main difference and asset in comparison to earlier struggles is that we have now social media to internationalize and globalize our actions. I think the direction is quite clear, but can't say how fast things are happening and how far people are ready and willing to go to change the system.

Rural and Urban relations is a good point, as nobady expects independent small farmers to go on strike, but rather to materially support strikers. Without solidarity from rural populations and progressive food movements, there is little hope of general strikes the scale required succeeding. But as we see e.g. in Greece, those ties of solidarity are forming and seem to come about quite naturally.

It's a huge thing with more imaginable problems than can be listed, but saying it is impossible is just self-defeatism.

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Response to limpyhobbler (Reply #51)

Sun Dec 2, 2012, 01:38 AM

64. I was thinking

that nationalizing the banks and large corporations, hospitals and power companies, we might have a fighting chance. And dismantle f&*&ing Wall Street... run their cronies out of office.

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Response to 2naSalit (Reply #64)

Sun Dec 2, 2012, 12:32 PM

116. How much nationalization does it take before you lose capitalism?

If you nationalize all the banks, large corporations, hospitals, and power companies, then how much "capitalism" would have left?

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Response to white_wolf (Reply #116)

Sun Dec 2, 2012, 12:45 PM

117. Not sure

I haven't really parsed out the particulars but I think that it would have to be quite a bit. If, perhaps, capital ventures had a limited size and expanse option, that could go far in regulating the darker elements of the "ism". I do think that nationalizing the majority of the empire of capitalism, a lot of good could come of it. Just thinking about options not often considered but that might have some merit.

I don't claim to have the answers but I would be happy to entertain viable remedies. They can't all come from inside "the box" anymore... IMHO.

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Response to white_wolf (Reply #116)

Mon Dec 3, 2012, 12:37 AM

180. Well, I for one don't want the government designing my clothes

or other ornamental things I want to surround myself with, jewelry, shoes, furniture, pottery. I don't want the government making them either. I don't want the government running my little favorite bistro or neighborhood saloon. So there is plenty of room for capitalism. It's the stuff of survival and existence that we all need is what we need to share and the most efficient way to do it is by social programs run by a single entity usually the government. I also think what comes from the ground belongs to everyone and those metals, oil, lumber etc. should be nationalized and used to pay for social programs, medicine, education, infrastructure that a society as a whole needs in common.

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Response to 2naSalit (Reply #64)

Sun Dec 2, 2012, 03:29 PM

155. I would like to nationalize all our natural resources as belonging to the people.

You know oil, metal ores, minerals, lumber, the stuff that comes from the ground that we process and sell. We would hire the companies as contractors to work them, but not own them. The profits would go to support the commons, like water works, utilities, schools, hospitals, universities. The things people need but often can't pay for would be taken care of if we kicked out all those for profit companies.

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Response to Cleita (Reply #155)

Sun Dec 2, 2012, 05:34 PM

166. That's the way it was supposed to work

only it's been co-opted by big business for so long that that form of understanding just doesn't exist anymore. Well, that's what the premise for use of resources on public lands was supposed to be.

Nationalizing those things as well as the banks and other large scale operations would be the best way to go, it would facilitate single payer healthcare, fund education, infrastructure (the sustainable kinds), our food production-including locavore projects and a bunch of other stuff that could be very beneficial to more than just people but the entire biosphere. But the greatest hurdle with that idea is the political will to head on that direction... I just don't se any of that happening beyond the highly touted lip service we have seen so far... we're decades late in getting our fecal matter in order to do that.

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Response to Cleita (Reply #155)

Wed Dec 5, 2012, 06:15 AM

233. "Let it be known, there is a fountain

--that was not made by the hands of men." (Grateful Dead)

How about we can own things that were made by the hands of men, but no individual ownership of those things not made by the hands of men?

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Response to eridani (Reply #233)

Wed Dec 5, 2012, 10:28 AM

236. We still would have to socialized medicine, education and other things made by man

that should be part of the commons and available to everyone regardless of their circumstances.

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Response to Cleita (Reply #236)

Wed Dec 5, 2012, 01:31 PM

239. During the era of New Deal dominance, we used to call those things public goods

And everyone, even Republicans like Eisenhower, assumed that progressive taxation was necessary to fund them.

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Response to BrentWil (Original post)

Sat Dec 1, 2012, 11:54 PM

52. Trying to think of someone outside Anglo-America ...

...or Western Europe whose lives were improved by capitalism. There's and awful lot of suffering in this world because of capitalism. Capitalism runs on colonialism.

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Response to Deep13 (Reply #52)

Sun Dec 2, 2012, 12:43 AM

55. Japan seems to be doing okay.

They seem to be the exception compared to most of Asia, though. Is the average Chinese worker in a sweatshop better off than he would be working in a family farm? Somehow I doubt it.

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Response to Deep13 (Reply #52)

Sun Dec 2, 2012, 01:14 AM

57. China since 1979 isn't doing too bad...NT

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Response to BrentWil (Reply #57)

Sun Dec 2, 2012, 01:16 AM

58. You mean the same China where factories put up nets to stop people from committing suicide?

China is doing great if you are an investor, but if you are an average Chinese citizen working in a factory it sucks.

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Response to white_wolf (Reply #58)

Sun Dec 2, 2012, 01:19 AM

59. Or a China where 5% of the population died during the Great Leap Forward...

Are there problems in China? Absolutely. Have they improved a great majority of the peoples lives? Absolutely.

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Response to BrentWil (Reply #59)

Sun Dec 2, 2012, 01:26 AM

61. I doubt China is any better off than it was under Mao.

The majority of the people are enslaved. The country is just as authoritarian as it was under Mao. Capitalism did nothing to improve the lives of the majority of the people or bring them greater freedom.

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Response to white_wolf (Reply #61)

Sun Dec 2, 2012, 10:00 AM

89. You have a very distorted view of China

Problems? Yes. The "majority of the people are enslaved". I don't think they have that perception. Go there and see.

And even your assertion was correct, still beats 30 to 70 million dead from starvation.

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Response to BrentWil (Reply #89)

Tue Dec 4, 2012, 09:14 AM

227. And you have a very rose-colored view of it.

Watch "Manufactured Landscapes" and get back to me on how great their low-wage, polluted, sweatshop-flecked, authoritarian-ruled, heavily shantied and electronic waste-ridden slavestate is.

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Response to HughBeaumont (Reply #227)

Tue Dec 4, 2012, 06:09 PM

229. I have seen it...

Don't take a view from one movie.

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Response to BrentWil (Reply #57)

Sun Dec 2, 2012, 09:57 AM

87. Nor Is Taiwan Or South Korea

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Response to BrentWil (Reply #57)

Sun Dec 2, 2012, 12:55 PM

121. A China where the PTB goes into a village, mows it down, puts up cheap apt houses, and forces the

displaced population into that apt house and makes them work 16 hours a day in a new factory? That China? Spare me.

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Response to Deep13 (Reply #52)

Sun Dec 2, 2012, 02:18 AM

66. Try comparing South Korea with North Korea (nt )

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Response to BrentWil (Original post)

Sun Dec 2, 2012, 01:37 AM

63. "Life on planet earth has improved"

Unless you're one of the tens of thousands of species threatened with extinction in the next century due to climate change brought about by our rampant consumption of resources due to capitalism. Life looks great if you're an American making $75K a year and driving a new Chevy Tahoe. It looks like shit if you're a starving polar bear clinging to an iceberg in the middle of the formerly frozen Arctic Ocean.

Otherwise, carry on.

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Response to NickB79 (Reply #63)

Sun Dec 2, 2012, 01:40 AM

65. INdeed

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Response to NickB79 (Reply #63)

Sun Dec 2, 2012, 08:57 AM

80. Indeed. It is all about where you are "viewing" it from.

There are also lots of Americans that don't think capitalism is too fabulous these days either.

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Response to BrentWil (Original post)

Sun Dec 2, 2012, 02:26 AM

67. "Capitalism has defeated Communism in Russia, and Democracy in the US." -Unknown

 

Income inequality is staggering in the US. The problems shouted about by Occupy Wall Street all still exist at the corporate CEO and wage levels.

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Response to BrentWil (Original post)

Sun Dec 2, 2012, 03:04 AM

69. Capitalism is the mechanism that fueled and made possible the rapid

material growth and the advancement of science and technology that characterized the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. It is an invention of mankind to facilitate market-place transactions and allow for the growth of business and trade. To accomplish these ends, capitalism has worked very well but it is an invention of man not a natural consequence of man's interaction.
It is in the context of a capitalist dominated world that the lives of all of us have been changed. Some lives have changed for the better and some for the worse.
It would be hard to argue that advances in medical knowledge or technology haven't produced more positive results than negative but depending on who you are and where you live the cost of progress might be more than any benefits you ever receive. And the progress we have made is not the result of capitalism, per se, it just happened in communities where capitalism was the mechanism used to facilitate monetary exchange. Progress toward better living conditions and intellectual growth happens in cultures with different economic structures too. The Soviet Union contributed much to modern science and Cuba has provided its citizens with much better living conditions under communism than they had under the influence of capitalism.
Therefore, one could more accurately say that, many positive beneficial changes for mankind happened during the modern era.
It would also be true to say that not everyone on earth benefited equally from the material growth and scientific and technological advances that characterized recent history.
Capitalism provides tools which promote the growth of material wealth but the process of creating that wealth for some, results in great poverty and suffering for others. So it could be said that capitalism has sponsored both great good and great evil.
It certainly has sponsored the greatest disparities in wealth the world has ever seen and consequently the greatest disparities in personal power. This is not good for the individual even when one lives in a rich and powerful land.
Capitalism has not encouraged us to become better beings, as individuals or as groups. Material wealth has not made us more generous or kind toward others. Capitalism insures that good ideas and better technology are developed and made available to consumers, when profit can be made not to improve the world. Capitalists resist adopting good ideas or new technologies if they believe they can make greater profits by not adopting new ideas and methods, demonstrating that activities motivated by capitalism are not inherently geared toward positive growth. In fact capitalists will adopt practices that are dangerous, untested, or harmful, to their workers, their customers, and the environment all to increase their profit margins. Not progressive at all. Capitalists, in order to make a profit, exploit both labor and resources. Resources are extracted from the environment as cheaply as possible (often causing great harm to the local people and environment) and labor is paid far below the actual value of the work performed in order to create the capital which fuels inventions that those who built them can't afford to enjoy. Capitalism and Democracy are incompatible. Both Communism and Socialism were conceived as remedies to the many social ills sponsored by Capitalism.
Without a doubt, great and wonderful developments have been sponsored in the context of capitalist societies but many awful wars and human misery were the cost of those great advances. It seems there must be a way that we can enjoy progress without having to rob others of their ability to move forward too.

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Response to BrentWil (Original post)

Sun Dec 2, 2012, 07:31 AM

71. It is one of the better ideas from 1780

It has been far better than the feudal system that it had largely replaced in the west by the time the "Wealth of Nations" was written.

It is however important to remember that it is an idea founded in rationalism and prepared in the context of the business environment of 1780.

As a system, it has two inherent flaws:

First, as a product of rationalism it broadly assumes an economy based in the action of "rational actors" behaving rationally. There is copious evidence, to include the most recent financial collapse, to conclude that this assumption is inaccurate, even Allen Greenspan had to admit it, publicly and in front of a congressional hearing. The actions of the "Magic Hand" of the market in fact do seem entirely arbitrary on occasion, and entirely unlike the more orderly world the model predicts. An experimental model has in fact been run using chaos theory and an assumption of irrationality which actually obtains far more predictive results, closer to observed reality, economic research continues in this novel and fairly new area of study.

Second, in part due to the first logical flaw, the ideas of Keynes are a critical patch to this software. Keynes ideas place the financial equivalent of a large flywheel and governor on the system. They keep the business cycle revolving when it attempts to stall, and prevent it from revolving too fast and throwing a piston rod through the case when things get overheated. This is exactly Keynes' purpose, it was intended as a critical patch to the software to keep it running at a time when more clearly collectivist systems were arising as an attempt to find an entirely new operating system and software for their economies.

The observed problems with more collectivist approaches were in part timing in a historical context. The ability to handle and rapidly process very large datasets did not arise for another 50 years. It is necessary to consider that at that time massive computing tasks related to engineering design were done in large rooms of people operating slide rules. No one could actually manage an enterprise that large with data, it was all guesswork and at best, educated estimates. There was no inventory system, no live data on production and consumption, the people were flying blind. It failed in part because the threshold conditions had not been achieved to enable success. On the other hand, look at what state organized capitalism (China) is doing to us today in the free marketplace over and over again and understand that they will only get better at it with time.

New software is needed.


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Response to quaker bill (Reply #71)

Sun Dec 2, 2012, 11:27 AM

108. One addition to your "problems with collectivist approaches....."

History (a TRUE history) shows that one of the BIGGEST, if not the biggest, problems with collectivist approaches was that they were NOT GIVEN A CHANCE TO WORK WITHOUT INTERFERENCE BY THE CAPITALISTS. This is SO often overlooked, but it is a HUGE part of the problems of socialist systems tried in the last century.

Capitalist apologists like to point out that no "socialist" approaches actually worked in the last century. What SHOULD be pointed out is that those approaches were ACTIVELY SABOTAGED at every opportunity, overtly and covertly, BY the capitalists themselves. Why? BECAUSE CAPITALISM COULD NOT ALLOW A MORE EGALITARIAN SYSTEM TO TAKE HOLD. It would have been WAY too popular with the majority of the world's population and would have, in short order, thrown capitalism onto the dustbin of history.

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Response to socialist_n_TN (Reply #108)

Sun Dec 2, 2012, 09:10 PM

172. I would agree with active opposition as a problem

There was an extent to which the Soviets were complicit in their own demise. Playing in the cold war / arms race game never truly served the worker's collective interest, and once they had a large handful of nukes and the means to deliver them, the game was over anyway.

We kept them playing and in so doing, diverting needed resources that they could ill afford from larger social concerns. Had the resources been devoted to meeting basic social needs they likely could have dealt with pre-digital age inefficiencies by oversupply.

In the current age, central planning has been accomplished by the private sector (Wal Mart, Amazon and other mega retailers) at a scale sufficient to meet the needs of a sizable country. The same technology could be applied in a different way. With live data analysis and just in time inventory systems, there would not have been bread lines at the Soviet state stores, and they would still exist.

The bigger problem for us is that we kept them playing at enormous cost to our own economy. We hollowed out our infrastructure to partially pay for it, and put the rest on the credit card.

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Response to quaker bill (Reply #71)

Mon Dec 3, 2012, 12:02 AM

176. Product of individual greed supported by state violence and terror

 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Luddite

Top down theft and destruction of commons and autonomous self-governance of working people. Feudal system which was created by late Roman empire has been geographically very limited system and from the beginning a failure because of the active resistance and refusal by farmers. Peasants or "primary producers" and their commons were quite free in most places, and besides taxes to church and crown they were mostly free to live as they wanted. As were free craftsmen who owned the means of their production.

The "rational actors" of capitalism are sociopathic thieves and murderers, as what is considered rational is personal greed.

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Response to tama (Reply #176)

Mon Dec 3, 2012, 07:59 AM

198. Again, it was an idea from the 1780s.

Slavery was still legal then. Women and men who did not hold property had no right to vote. Relatively speaking at the time, the "wealth of nations" was fairly enlightened. It attempted to capture what was actually going on in the merchant / tradesman middle class of the day.

Needless to say, things have changed a bit since 1780. One might hope we have learned a few things. Some clearly haven't.

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Response to quaker bill (Reply #198)

Mon Dec 3, 2012, 08:36 AM

199. History

 

Wealth of Nations was written at the time when the long process of enclosure of commons (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Enclosure) was at is height (there were many peasant rebellions against the theft of commons), and shortly before capitalist industrialization started and was faced with Luddite rebellion. Certainly the book has had influence as justification for what was happening, but relatively autonomous working class was rebelling against privatization before it and after it, and their rebellions were suffocated and privatization projects were carried through state violence.

Destruction of commons and guilds was of course prerequisite for class of wage slaves to toil in mines and factories and as servants of the new owning class. Same pattern was followed in colonies. It's a continuous horror story and I see nothing enlightened in it.

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Response to tama (Reply #199)

Tue Dec 4, 2012, 07:17 AM

225. Yes there were alot of bad ideas in the 1780s.

It took a long time and even a war to get past some of them. This one still lingers. Naming it one of the better popular ideas in that era is not praise.

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Response to BrentWil (Original post)

Sun Dec 2, 2012, 07:42 AM

72. We need a new "ism." n/t

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Response to BrentWil (Original post)

Sun Dec 2, 2012, 07:59 AM

74. Capitalism..

... as it is supposed to be done, is a pretty good system.

But in the US and most of the world, you don't really have capitalism at all. Rather than describe what we do have, I'll just call it "crony capitalism". It works for those at the top but not so much anywhere else. And companies, rather than compete the way they are supposed to in a capitalist system, to produce the best product at the lowest price, devote their resources to creating regulatory advantage and monopoly markets.

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Response to sendero (Reply #74)

Sun Dec 2, 2012, 03:14 PM

150. Does capitalism always end in crony capitalism?

Is it the nature of the beast that wealthy corporations and individuals will always devote their resources to creating regulatory advantage and monopoly markets?

I thought that's how it always goes.



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Response to limpyhobbler (Reply #150)

Sun Dec 2, 2012, 04:21 PM

162. I think the US version of capitalism..

.. is about the worst in the world for crony cap tendencies. Is it just that the rest of the world hasn't caught up?

I think there are countries that do better, it is just a matter of not allowing too much corporate influence in govt.

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Response to sendero (Reply #74)

Mon Dec 3, 2012, 12:04 AM

177. How is it supposed to be done?

 

I always prefer discussing historical capitalism as we know it, instead of some utopian idealized "capitalism".

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Response to BrentWil (Original post)

Sun Dec 2, 2012, 08:18 AM

75. Most of the content of your post is largely about the Green Revolution...

which was largely an action lead by non-profits and governments, I don't see what economic systems of any sort, whether capitalistic or socialistic, have to do with it. It was used in countries that were heavily socialist(India) and countries that were largely capitalistic(Philippines).

Its more a triumph of science, engineering, and research than of capitalism.

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Response to Humanist_Activist (Reply #75)

Sun Dec 2, 2012, 08:27 AM

76. Your comment and

"Its more a triumph of science, engineering, and research than of capitalism."

...this comment (http://www.democraticunderground.com/?com=view_post&forum=1002&pid=1914511) equals 100 percent win.

Perspective is a wonderful thing.

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Response to ProSense (Reply #76)

Sun Dec 2, 2012, 08:43 AM

78. I just find his argument silly, if those non-profits did the capitalistic thing, those varieties...

of corn, wheat, rice and other grains would have been patented or the processes to raise them marked trade secrets and they would have then charged hefty prices to allow the governments of countries such as India, to use them. Instead, it was damn near given away, which sounds downright communist, if you think about it.

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Response to Humanist_Activist (Reply #75)

Mon Dec 3, 2012, 12:09 AM

178. Green Revolution

 

has been criminally insane technocratic failure. Poisoning and destroying natural fertility of land with various chemicals, depleting ground water etc. meant gains for a very limited time period with the cost of terrible systemic damage to the carrying capacity of the ecosystem.

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Response to tama (Reply #178)

Mon Dec 3, 2012, 10:37 AM

204. Short term benefit may lead to long term problems, that is true...

but its also true that it helped stave off severe famine in most of the developing world. Now we can focus trying to restore, and even improve, the ecosystem to create a more sustainable system of producing food.

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Response to Humanist_Activist (Reply #204)

Mon Dec 3, 2012, 11:02 AM

206. Wiki

 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Green_Revolution#Criticism

Wiki article is devastating enough without looking for further sources; GR was product of technocratic capitalist globalization against socialist alternative of agrarian reforms and produced more food of lower quality for the global market, but that is very different from local food security and democratic right for self-determination.

But what's done is done and you are correct on what we need to focus. Sadly the change cannot come from capitalist states and generally the ruling capitalist classes, which don't give a dam about food security and quality of life, but only from below. And we do know how to do it and can do it if given chance, but on the scale that is needed, giving chance requires agrarian reform and right to arable land to all willing. Seen mention of agrarian reform in any party program there lately?

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Response to BrentWil (Original post)

Sun Dec 2, 2012, 08:32 AM

77. Yes, Capitalism is much better than Feudalism. And much worse than Socialism.

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Response to DireStrike (Reply #77)

Sun Dec 2, 2012, 08:45 AM

79. Oh, I don't know. Either one can be pretty bad

There's a reason (some) people keep trying to leave Cuba.

OTOH, Russia was a shitty place to live under the Czars, it was a shitty place to live under communism, and it's a shitty place to live now. I'm starting to think political and economic systems matter less than culture.

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Response to Recursion (Reply #79)

Sun Dec 2, 2012, 10:01 AM

90. Have you noticed that none of these "socialist" revolutions were in heavily industrialized nations?

I'm beginning to think that the 20th century, following right on the heels of the capitalist revolutions, was truly too early to try and unite the world in a new system. The revolutions that succeeded simply used the idea of socialism as a stand-in to break the old colonial chains. And some just used it as an excuse to seize power (for example, the weird cult-like khmer rouge.)

Sure, some places made a good go of it. Resource-starved Cuba is still arguably trying to be socialist; certainly they have good health care, at least. Russia, wracked by world wars, civil wars, and capitalist military assaults and hostility, still achieved a ton of industrialization, but never managed a suitable level of consumer goods. Of course, it became a bureaucratic nightmare with no democracy in production(though distribution wasn't too bad), which is the real goal of socialism.

Few people say Marx was wrong in his analysis of capitalism. Yet there remains no well-fleshed-out system for democratic control of production, and I see little effort being made on that front. Nuts and bolts organizational matters are complex, difficult to change and experiment with, and far less romantic than simply overthrowing the oppressors through glorious revolution. Such is the task of the left today, and we are failing miserably at providing a real alternative.

Sometimes I think the greatest crime of the 20th century regimes was their lack of transparency and record keeping. We have nothing but biased and unscientific accounts. All those years and lives wasted, and we lack a clear understanding of even what they tried and how well it worked.

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Response to DireStrike (Reply #90)

Sun Dec 2, 2012, 10:08 AM

93. The basic thought that capital in a capitalist society has to concentrate in the hands of the few is

The basic thought that capital in a capitalist society has to concentrate in the hands of the few is wrong. Moderate reform (such as a progressive tax code, reverse income tax, etc) can fix that. The government has a role in any capitalist system.

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Response to BrentWil (Reply #93)

Sun Dec 2, 2012, 10:23 AM

98. This is a shallow understanding of the underlying economics and politics.

Theoretically, Keynesian methods could indefinitely prolong concentration of wealth and prevent it from becoming terminal. This has never occurred for two reasons.

Firstly, wealth is power. All it takes is one mistake, and it is a very slippery slope, for that power to concentrate too much and become irresistible. It is also much easier for the wealthy to coordinate their power in their combined interests than for the rest of us.

Secondly, limiting concentration of wealth goes against the spirit of capitalism. Look at this poll:

http://www.democraticunderground.com/10021905598
DU POLL: Do you think there should be a cap on how much wealth one individual can accumulate?

Yes, accumulation of wealth should be capped.
53 (23%)
No, accumulation of wealth should not be capped.
171 (75%)


Even here among liberals, there is disagreement with this sentiment. Free Enterprise calls for the right to profit, to no end, it seems. Among the mainstream/sort of capitalist left, even out here on the fringe, this idea is maligned. You have to go out among people who call for the abolition of capitalism to even find support for the idea.

As we understand the system, limiting wealth concentration would be unfair. The wealthy will bring to bear their power and wealth to prevent it from happening. Between these dynamics and others, it is not a long-term solution.

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Response to Recursion (Reply #79)

Sun Dec 2, 2012, 01:53 PM

139. What would Cuba look like

without the heel of American Imperial Capitalism on it's throat for the last 40-50 years?

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Response to DireStrike (Reply #77)

Sun Dec 2, 2012, 02:03 PM

143. Depends how you define socialism

If you are comparing our system to the Soviet Union, I'd say ours is a lot better.

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Response to democrattotheend (Reply #143)

Sun Dec 2, 2012, 02:09 PM

144. Certainly.

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Response to democrattotheend (Reply #143)

Mon Dec 3, 2012, 12:38 AM

181. Depends how you define better

 

which of course leads to multi-dimensional comparison of various aspects, which is more helpful than broad brush statements.

Couple things which may be quite relevant at the moment or not so distant future, Soviet Union federal law gave states right to freely resign from the federation, which law Jeltsin was the first to use and which allowed Soviet Union to cease quite peacefully. US legal status and history makes similar peaceful development much more difficult.

As Soviet system was in reality never fully monetized and industrialized, ordinary people have always been relatively self sufficient and relied on small scale gardening and social capital of informal social networks, instead of being dependent from state and corporations. This "down to earth" independent status of ordinary Russian people has made their way of life very resistant and resilient against the continuous collapses of the state and financial systems.

In comparison, standard American way of life is much less independent and resilient, and as such much more fragile in relation to systemic collapses. That said, I've been positively surprised by American people in local systemic collapses of Detroit and other rust belt cities being able to behave much similarly to Russians, Cubans and develop quite quickly local relatively self-sufficient gardening communities.

But should go without saying that those Americans who put all their faith and hope in Federal State, Corporations and continuity of American imperialism and neocolonialism (and voting Democrats) are tragically mistaken, and sadly that seems to apply to many on this forum.

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Response to tama (Reply #181)

Mon Dec 3, 2012, 10:28 AM

201. This site is Democratic Underground

Designed for those who support the Democratic Party. If you prefer Soviet-style communism you might be more at home on a Communist Party message board.

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Response to democrattotheend (Reply #201)

Mon Dec 3, 2012, 10:36 AM

203. Nah

 

I have no love for stalinism. And I don't see how your reply relates to the content of my post.

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Response to BrentWil (Original post)

Sun Dec 2, 2012, 09:00 AM

81. Your OP suffers from a general failure to define terms. Let's define 'capitalism' first and

 

then we can discuss whether it (or 'capitalists') is\are the enemy.

Otherwise, this OP and the consequent thread is just the tossing around of buzz words and Madison Avenue agit-prop.

Let me reframe the question: "Does a system where the means of production are privately owned produce the best outcome for mankind at large?"

A couple more data points to throw into the discussion, since you mention 'Calorie Intake per Capita'. It has been estimated that some 16 million American children experience at least 1 episode of food insecurity (bluntly translated, 'hunger') per month in the U.S. 1 in 5 American children, it is estimated, lives in poverty. Meanwhile, 1% of the U.S. population controls 40% of its wealth and 10% of controls 80% of its wealth. For those American children (and many of their parents) what you call capitalism sucks plainly and simply. And given the huge potential wastage of human potential -- does an Einstein or Salk lurk among those malnourished children? -- one can rightly question whether capitalism any longer serves the broader interests of mankind.

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Response to BrentWil (Original post)

Sun Dec 2, 2012, 09:10 AM

82. Slavery is not the problem. Slavery has improved the lives of millions.


Does anyone see a problem with the structure of the argument here?

Or is this just me and my useless college education?

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Response to Democracyinkind (Reply #82)

Sun Dec 2, 2012, 10:02 AM

91. Yeah. Strawman Argument But The OP Didn't Make It

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Response to DemocratSinceBirth (Reply #91)

Sun Dec 2, 2012, 10:08 AM

94. That's not the point.

The comparison point of these two arguments is the same - the old correlation-causation issue.

Just because we now have capitalism and things are better now(which is arguable from some points of view, like environmentally), doesn't mean that it is because of capitalism.

The OP also posits a false dichotomy - as if the choice is between capitalism and what existed before capitalism, which is not the case.

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Response to DireStrike (Reply #94)

Sun Dec 2, 2012, 10:12 AM

95. I don't have time to model this and run a regression model...

That said, you can make that argument about any post here. Causation is difficult to prove. On a message board, we are left with assertions.

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Response to BrentWil (Reply #95)

Sun Dec 2, 2012, 10:29 AM

100. And the supporting arguments.

I will leave it to the others on this thread to combat your assertion if they want, since I don't disagree - Capitalism was indeed an improvement over earlier systems.

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Response to DireStrike (Reply #100)

Mon Dec 3, 2012, 12:41 AM

184. Native Americans very much disagree nt

 

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Response to BrentWil (Reply #95)

Sun Dec 2, 2012, 11:07 AM

105. Well, good luck to science in the endeavor of unmasking which material benefits


were "caused" by Capitalism, and which by Imperialism and Industrialization (both independent of Capitalism). Either socioeconomic research will undergo quantum leaps and be able to quantify that question, or we have arrived at a methodological dead end.

My point was simply that the case for Capitalism is best made with arguments that are inherent and discreet to Capitalism. Or else...

Nazism considerably bettered the material conditions of the majority of Germans as compared to the "free market" under the Weimar Republic.

How is this a convincing argument for Nazism? It isn't, as long as further considerations, such as...

- How did this improvement come about?

- Which Germans constituted the "majority"? Only certain political and ethnic factions? What were the guiding principles in distributing this improvement in material conditions?

- What baseline is this improvement based on?

- Who decided upon the mechanisms of the distribution of said material improvements? The people?

- Whose labor ultimately accounts for the improvements? What is the relation of the people who produced the improvement to the distribution of benefits thereof?

...aren't taken into consideration. In my humble opinion, the mere fact that conditions have bettered (for some) is not an argument in itself if questions like the ones above are left out. In fact, I'd argue that my estimation of any socioeconomic system depends far more on these kinds of questions than on the mere observation that material conditions have improved (for some).

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Response to Democracyinkind (Reply #82)

Sun Dec 2, 2012, 10:06 AM

92. Actually it hasn't, even those not enslaved....

When a community (labor) is that cheap, it hurts the development of an economy because there is no real reason to look for efficiencies. It also destroys your non-slave labor market. One of the reasons the North didn't want to expansion of slavery into the territories had nothing to do with a moral issue. It had to do with how it effected white workers.

In slave holding societies, the relationship between slavery and paid labor has always been a problem. This is well documented in the text that survive form Ancient Rome, for example.

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Response to BrentWil (Reply #92)

Sun Dec 2, 2012, 10:12 AM

96. So your argument

"One of the reasons the North didn't want to expansion of slavery into the territories had nothing to do with a moral issue. It had to do with how it effected white workers. "

...is that labor and high wages are a good thing? Capitalist America doesn't agree with that concept. In fact, they fight it by spending millions to keep minimum wages low.

FYI: The word is "affected."

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Response to ProSense (Reply #96)

Sun Dec 2, 2012, 10:24 AM

99. There Were Both Moral And Economic Arguments Against Slavery. They Weren't Mutually Exclusive.

I am always suspicious of the agendas of the folks who make the latter argument. However I don't think that's what BrentWil is doing.

One of the definitions of politics is the rational and deliberate pursuit of the good life. I don't care if Money Boo Boo has four McMansions as long as your average Joe has a job that provides him dignity and self satisfaction, enough food to eat, a nice place to live, good schools to send his kids, a safe and clean neighborhood to live in , and quality medical care if he or his family gets sick.

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Response to DemocratSinceBirth (Reply #99)

Sun Dec 2, 2012, 10:55 AM

104. I made no

"I am always suspicious of the agendas of the folks who make the latter argument. However I don't think that's what BrentWil is doing. "

...accusation. I simply pointed out that the labor/wage argument contradicts the OP claim.

There are other points of contradiction, here:
http://www.democraticunderground.com/?com=view_post&forum=1002&pid=1914880) and http://www.democraticunderground.com/?com=view_post&forum=1002&pid=1914511

I agree with your other point, but it's not a point the OP is making.

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Response to ProSense (Reply #104)

Sun Dec 2, 2012, 11:09 AM

106. The Economic Argument While Somewhat True Always Bothers Me.

Of course it will be better in the short term for me to ,say, commandeer someone to do my laundry for free rather than paying him or her but it's not a long term economic strategy nor is it moral.

The argument you get from neo-Confederate apologists is that the Civil War was fought for largely pecuniary reasons and not moral ones. Lots of people, even back then, absolutely hated slavery.

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Response to BrentWil (Reply #92)

Sun Dec 2, 2012, 10:15 AM

97. But Lincoln Saw Slavery Dying Out As A Result Of Its Own Contradictions

Most slaves were deliberately kept in a state of illiteracy. The tasks needed to move a society forward rely on an educated populace.

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Response to BrentWil (Reply #92)

Sun Dec 2, 2012, 10:53 AM

102. While I agree with your macroeconomic points...


there are plenty of macroeconomic arguments against capitalism as well.


There is simply no sense in denying that the material conditions of millions of people (let alone their political and societal capital) where bettered by Slavery.

If the structure of this argument is solid and convincing, then both Capitalism and Slavery are great systems.

My post tried to point out that the relative benefits of Capitalism should best be argued in a way that is inherent and exclusive to Capitalism. (Hayek and the lot would suggest the "Freedom" and "Liberty" paths... Even the classics like Ricardo and Smith might prefer that route, depending on the reading).

The argument about improving material living conditions, apart from its lack of discredtion which I critized above, is misplaced anyway. Industrialization and Imperialism account for them just as much as Capitalism ever could.

When I read the OP title, the kind of things that came to my mind were:

- Whose material conditions? Whose not?

- How where those material rewards distributed? Fairly? Equally? Democratically? Meritocratically?

- Against what baseline is this material improvement measured? Which historic contrafactuals constitute the baseline?

- What did those material benefits consist of? How was their existence and distribution perceived and discussed by the people who noticed the cange?

And I'd love to contribute to the historical points about the antebellum slavery debate, yet my post is already to long. You should make an OP out of that point... I would totally chip in there

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Response to BrentWil (Original post)

Sun Dec 2, 2012, 10:50 AM

101. Capitalism is just greed by another name.

 

Is this the new line for pushing Ayn Rand? Reminds me of the line from 'Wall Street' that greed is good.

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Response to BrentWil (Original post)

Sun Dec 2, 2012, 11:18 AM

107. Yes and no. Capitalism should be a tool, not a religion.

For innovation and invention, nothing can compete with capitalism.

But for taking care of basic needs... it needs some work and some degree of control by the people.

Much like not every problem requires a hammer, not all social benefit can best be delivered by capitalism.

Mostly agree.

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Response to lumberjack_jeff (Reply #107)

Sun Dec 2, 2012, 11:38 AM

110. I'll disagree partially........

AT ONE TIME innovation and invention was the hallmark of capitalism. Nowdays? Not so much. That's why white_wolf had it right above. It was an economic/political/social system that at one time was progress over what came before. But today the problem is NOT one of accumulation, but one of distribution. Capitalism is a great system for accumulation, but leaves a LOT to be desired on the distribution side.

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Response to socialist_n_TN (Reply #110)

Sun Dec 2, 2012, 12:20 PM

113. The fault for that issue lies with government regulatory choices.

Government enforces ridiculously long patent and trademark protection, while also allowing uncompetitive mergers and acquisitions.

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Response to lumberjack_jeff (Reply #113)

Sun Dec 2, 2012, 01:54 PM

141. That's the "political" part of the system at work.........

The economic accumulates wealth and power then buys the political which reinforces the social. This includes laws and regulation that perpetrates the system. It's set up as a never ending cycle to reinforce the purpose of the system which is concentration of wealth and power. Notice it's CONCENTRATION of wealth and power, NOT distribution of wealth and power. And because of this political part of the you'll never be able to break the cycle of concentration by the ballot box. It will take revolution.

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Response to lumberjack_jeff (Reply #107)

Sun Dec 2, 2012, 12:24 PM

114. What great innovation has capitalism made in recent decades?

Computers and the internet were developed as part of government programs. What has capitalism given us recently? A dozen new models of the Ipad?

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Response to white_wolf (Reply #114)

Sun Dec 2, 2012, 12:52 PM

118. And a

dearth of bad advertising and violent video games promoting the MIC where the NRA leaves off.

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Response to 2naSalit (Reply #118)

Sun Dec 2, 2012, 12:54 PM

120. And they aren't even good video games.

Call of Duty is a terrible first-person shooter.

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Response to white_wolf (Reply #120)

Sun Dec 2, 2012, 01:12 PM

124. I wouldn't know

I don't play them but I've seen a few ads. I've seen enough of the war machine in my distant past that I don't find anything about it entertaining. I find it more than alarming that such violent imagery is now considered entertainment and that its purpose appears to be to desensitize the general public to the horrors so that they can be more accepting of the concept of killing on all levels... Works well with the "dumbing down" and gutting of education programs. Emotional appeal is a very strong drug. Great promo stuff for the MIC and their allies.

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Response to 2naSalit (Reply #124)

Sun Dec 2, 2012, 01:16 PM

125. Oh it's pretty blatant propaganda, especially the campaign modes.

The military is glorified. The most blatant example was a game that came out several years ago called "America's Army" which really was developed by the military as a recruiting tool. I really don't have much respect for military recruiters.

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Response to white_wolf (Reply #125)

Sun Dec 2, 2012, 01:20 PM

127. It certainly does

promote the idea that we must have our will foisted upon the rest of the planet... "or else we'll blast you into the great beyond, meanwhile we will take possession of all your resources and leave you to fend for yourselves on slave labor and hopefully you'll starve to death soon. Oh, and here are some guns to help you in ending your existence." That seems to be our self-appointed purpose in the world anymore. Sad.

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Response to 2naSalit (Reply #124)

Mon Dec 3, 2012, 01:10 AM

186. Assassins Creed III

 

Enjoyed that very much, situated in American Revolution and the main character is native American. Great game on political history and philosophy and very good eye candy, but also lot to criticize.

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Response to tama (Reply #186)

Mon Dec 3, 2012, 12:38 PM

211. See, Assassin's Creed doesn't bother me that much simply because it is clearly fictional.

While games like Call of Duty are as well, they still openly praise the U.S. military.

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Response to white_wolf (Reply #211)

Mon Dec 3, 2012, 01:23 PM

215. Though fictional

 

I was positively surprised by the games approach to political and historical content.

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Response to white_wolf (Reply #114)

Sun Dec 2, 2012, 01:32 PM

131. DU?

Just sayin'

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Response to lumberjack_jeff (Reply #131)

Sun Dec 2, 2012, 01:39 PM

133. DU falls under the internet category.

Besides a political message board is hardly innovation. People have been discussing politics for centuries and it isn't like DU is the first online political forum.

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Response to white_wolf (Reply #133)

Sun Dec 2, 2012, 01:48 PM

137. Earlg and Elad will be surprised that their work product is simply a gov. project.

The infrastructure here is unique, novel and innovative.

This is like saying there's nothing innovative about the automobile because roads predated them.

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Response to lumberjack_jeff (Reply #137)

Sun Dec 2, 2012, 01:51 PM

138. DU is a very well put together website, but isn't something that hasn't been done before.

EarlG and Elad didn't create something brand new. They refined a concept that already existed and made it better, but that's not the same as innovation.

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Response to white_wolf (Reply #138)

Sun Dec 2, 2012, 01:56 PM

142. Sure it is.

Innovate (v)
1 Make changes in something established, esp. by introducing new methods, ideas, or products.
2. Introduce something new, esp. a product.


What qualifies as innovation? Fire? The wheel? Electricity?

A community-moderated message board is an innovation. They did it because they felt that it would increase usability and thus market share.

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Response to lumberjack_jeff (Reply #142)

Mon Dec 3, 2012, 01:17 AM

188. Market share? nt

 

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Response to tama (Reply #188)

Mon Dec 3, 2012, 01:31 AM

190. Yes, it is a business. nt

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Response to lumberjack_jeff (Reply #190)

Mon Dec 3, 2012, 01:41 AM

192. Not really

 

There's no monetary profit motive that I know of and no selling of commodities for profit. It takes donations and gives room for adds to cover the costs for running this place, and the legal framework may be that of private enterprise.

I give you that that DU participates in the market share of Internet adds, but that's that and all the rest is just social "market" of ideas and discussions.

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Response to lumberjack_jeff (Reply #137)

Mon Dec 3, 2012, 01:16 AM

187. Though this is privately own

 

by "Benevolent Dictators" instead of member owned, I'm not aware of owners having profit motive but motive of social conscience; and distrubuting more power to members than I've seen on any other similar forum. Kudos.

This is not a capitalistic innovation any more than Linux is; on the contrary we are speaking about social innovations and motives and gift economy.

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Response to tama (Reply #187)

Mon Dec 3, 2012, 10:53 AM

205. The admins have families to feed.

This isn't a hobby for them. It's a business that is in alignment with their values, but it's still a business.

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Response to lumberjack_jeff (Reply #205)

Mon Dec 3, 2012, 11:03 AM

207. OK

 

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Response to white_wolf (Reply #114)

Tue Dec 4, 2012, 10:36 AM

228. Ok - how about these...

steam engine, railroads, telegraph, photograph, phonograph, oil exploration and refining, automobile, assembly lines & automation, electricity, light bulb, telephone, inflatable tire, airplanes, elevator, air conditioning, television, photocopy, anesthesia, plastics, semiconductors, robotics, DNA sequencing, 3D printing.

I could name hundreds if not thousands if I had the time.

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Response to BrentWil (Original post)

Sun Dec 2, 2012, 11:28 AM

109. Look up green revolution

Most of it was funded by foundations and governments. I don't see much of a link to capitalism, more like socialistic funding.

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Response to Progressive dog (Reply #109)

Mon Dec 3, 2012, 01:19 AM

189. Do look it up

 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Green_Revolution#Environmental_impact

As an argument for sane and beneficial policies Green Revolution ain't. It's an argument against short sighted and alienated technocracy.

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Response to gulliver (Reply #111)

Sun Dec 2, 2012, 12:00 PM

112. Is this about

Liu and Hanauer view democracy not as a machine, but as a garden. A successful garden functions according to the inexorable tendencies of nature, but it also requires goals, regular tending, and an understanding of connected ecosystems. The latest ideas from science, social science, and economics—the cutting-edge ideas of today--generate these simple but revolutionary ideas:

True self interest is mutual interest. (Society, it turns out, is an ecosystem that is healthiest when we take care of the whole.)

...democracy or capitalism?

The book's premise seems more in line with these points: http://www.democraticunderground.com/?com=view_post&forum=1002&pid=1914880) and http://www.democraticunderground.com/?com=view_post&forum=1002&pid=1914511

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Response to ProSense (Reply #112)

Sun Dec 2, 2012, 12:28 PM

115. It's about democratic, government-tended capitalism

But it covers a lot of ground in a very small book. A lot of its core ideas are based on Complexity Economics which is informed by complex systems theory and evolution. One of the more trenchant ideas is the one in your quote above "True self interest is mutual interest." From a scientific and evolutionary perspective, a strong economy is not just about competition as traditional capitalism might say, but it also is about cooperation and valuing the prosperity of others.


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Response to BrentWil (Original post)

Sun Dec 2, 2012, 01:37 PM

132. Capitalism quickly reaches the limits of growth.

We are at that limit, and economies based on continuous exponential growth are dysfunctional. The problem we face is that we do not have a structural model for its replacement

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Response to Warren Stupidity (Reply #132)

Sun Dec 2, 2012, 01:41 PM

135. The problem that we face is that we do not understand the problem

 

That doesn't leave us a whole lot of ground to go on.

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Response to NoOneMan (Reply #135)

Sun Dec 2, 2012, 01:46 PM

136. Really there are plenty of bright people and many understand the problems.

But we have enormous institutional inertia that precludes moving toward a sustainable post growth global economy. It is the political will that is lacking not understanding.

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Response to Warren Stupidity (Reply #136)

Sun Dec 2, 2012, 01:53 PM

140. But these people you speak of are not normally in politics

 



You have to believe a special school of economics and pander to certain constructs of civilization to get a brainwashed populace to vote for you. This creates a real divide between people who have a power to change things and people who know what kind of changes need to be made.

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Response to NoOneMan (Reply #140)

Sun Dec 2, 2012, 02:13 PM

145. We aren't disagreeing on that.

I said it is a political problem, not a lack of understanding. It is a huge political problem, in that there doesn't appear at this time to be any viable political solution. At least in this country, there are zero major political parties even willing discuss the problem and the available solutions. Instead the rightwing in this country has successfully hijacked the political discussion, diverting it away from the fundamental structural problems we face, so that instead we have elections over anything but the choices available to us to implement a post capitalist restructuring of a democratic society in a sustainable economic system.

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Response to Warren Stupidity (Reply #132)

Mon Dec 3, 2012, 01:31 AM

191. Hmm

 

Better to say we don't have top-down structural model for "another world"; or rather top-down structural model widely accepted. Socialist theory has to offer many competing structural models, but on the field of general political philosophy current climate is less than enthousiastic about any and all top-down models and keeps on doing bottom-up grass roots revolution. Which in fact is not philosophically very different from Trotsky's ideas about continuous revolution.

Instead of top down structural model we have various practices of horizontal democracy and most importantly self-confidence and ability take initiative and action without waiting top-down structural model to tell us what to do.

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Response to tama (Reply #191)

Mon Dec 3, 2012, 07:02 AM

195. Trotsky was an authoritarian mass murderer. Nt.

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Response to Warren Stupidity (Reply #195)

Mon Dec 3, 2012, 07:20 AM

196. Yup

 

But so were also Jefferson and Lincoln and so many other "great men" in thought but occasionally also monsters in their actions.

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Response to tama (Reply #196)

Mon Dec 3, 2012, 03:32 PM

219. Washington springs to mind.

He executed soldiers whose only crime was demanding their pay. If you are going to condemn Leon Trotsky you must also condemn George Washington.

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Response to white_wolf (Reply #219)

Mon Dec 3, 2012, 05:57 PM

223. Ah, that Conotocaurius

 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Town_Destroyer

In truth, I'm tired of condemning anyone, even as I'm all for not forgetting any crimes of "Great Men" that deserve no admiration. I was for a while a member of a trotter group and liked some of his ideas in regards to socialist theory, but I've never ceased to be anarchist.

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Response to BrentWil (Original post)

Sun Dec 2, 2012, 01:40 PM

134. The same could be said of any religion.

It's not the religion itself, but the atrocities done in its name.

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Response to BrentWil (Original post)

Sun Dec 2, 2012, 02:32 PM

146. A good read about American capitalism around the world

http://www.wanttoknow.info/johnperkinseconomichitman

It has been several years since I have read this, but it was a good read.

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Response to BrentWil (Original post)

Sun Dec 2, 2012, 02:45 PM

147. Capitalism has a propensity

to encourage greed if it is not regulated. Capitalism as practiced by the American railroad robber barons led to unfettered greed and obscene hoarding of wealth for wealth's sake. FDR's New Deal introduced checks and balances which made American Capitalism manageable and unique, and fueled not only growth in the USA, but around the world.

The greedy neoconservatives have spent the past 50-60 years attempting to dismantle the New Deal, and have almost succeeded. As it stands now, yes capitalism IS the enemy as shown by the recent meltdown of the worldwide economy.

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Response to BrentWil (Original post)

Sun Dec 2, 2012, 03:14 PM

149. Only if you can overlook the millions of lives it has destroyed.

See the slave trade, famines, and The Scramble for Africa for some of capitalism's fruits.

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Response to BrentWil (Original post)

Sun Dec 2, 2012, 03:21 PM

152. At the expense of billions nt

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Response to BrentWil (Original post)

Sun Dec 2, 2012, 03:24 PM

154. Capitalism is simply a system of currency control and circulation,

 

it is neither good nor evil in itself. It is the so-called financial industry that was created around the system that is evil.

Capitalism hasn't fed more people, hasn't invented anything, and doesn't determine policy. People have done all that.

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Response to BrentWil (Original post)

Sun Dec 2, 2012, 03:29 PM

156. HUHH? Seen the lastest Child Poverty Rate in the U.S.??

 

The 2011 American Community Survey (ACS) data show an increase in the rate of children living in poverty in the United States between 2005 and 2011. Among the 50 largest U.S. cities, 44 experienced increases in child poverty rates. Detroit, Cleveland, Miami, Milwaukee and Memphis, Tenn., had the highest rates of children living in poverty, while Virginia Beach, Va., San Jose, Calif., San Francisco, Seattle, San Diego, Mesa, Ariz., and Colorado Springs, Colo. had the lowest rates, according to an analysis by the Annie E. Casey Foundation and the Population Reference Bureau.

Over the same period, the national percentage of children living in poverty — or below 100 percent of the federal poverty level (FPL) — rose from 19 to 23 percent, or an increase of about 3 million children from 2005 to 2011. The 2011 federal poverty level was about $23,000 for a family of four.

Las Vegas, Jacksonville, Fla., Arlington, Texas, Indianapolis, and Wichita, Kan., had the biggest increase in rates of children living in poverty between 2005 and 2011.


THREE MILLION additional children living in poverty-- how is this a huge endorsement of capitalism??

Answer: it's not.

Suggestion: Distiniguish between our particular brand of dog-eat-dog capitalism (re: Bain Capital and Wall St. Casino gambling) vs. what is practiced in other nations, Germany, for example where workers actually have some rights.

http://www.aecf.org/Newsroom/NewsReleases/HTML/2012Releases/USCitiesSawPovertyRateIncrease.aspx

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Response to BrentWil (Original post)

Sun Dec 2, 2012, 03:31 PM

157. There's a world of difference between "trade" and "markets," and "Capitalism"

Increased trade and stable markets have done plenty to improve the lives of people. Capitalism, on hte other hand, is actively harmful to both of those things; it's a parasite philosophy.

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Response to BrentWil (Original post)

Sun Dec 2, 2012, 04:02 PM

159. REGULATED capitalism is just fine.

UNregulated capitalism is an unmitigated disaster.

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Response to Zoeisright (Reply #159)

Mon Dec 3, 2012, 07:22 AM

197. Actually it isn't.

Capitalism requires exponential growth. That is no longer "just fine".

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Response to BrentWil (Original post)

Sun Dec 2, 2012, 04:06 PM

160. And capitalism has easily ruined just as many lives as it has improved.

The problem is that capitalism needs to be kept tightly reined or it will naturally tend to ruin most while ultimately enriching only a few.

Regulate hell out of it - we've barely scratched the surface of it.

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Response to BrentWil (Original post)

Sun Dec 2, 2012, 04:10 PM

161. That's like saying 'water is healthy'.

Sure-- you need to drink water. But being submerged in it for a few minutes will kill you.

Well-regulated capitalism works well. Unrestrained capitalism is absolutely destructive.

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Response to BrentWil (Original post)

Sun Dec 2, 2012, 04:31 PM

163. "The comfort of the rich depends upon an abundant supply of the poor." Voltaire

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Response to BrentWil (Original post)

Sun Dec 2, 2012, 05:04 PM

165. Global Warming canceled your parade.

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Response to BrentWil (Original post)

Sun Dec 2, 2012, 05:41 PM

167. In general I agree, but with two stipulations. First full participation is essential

The first problem with calling what we have capitalism is how few of us actually possess any capital and the second might be that so few of us know the difference between money and capital. At any rate the second requirement for functioning capitalism is rational regulation such that predation is discouraged. Simply put we can not have predators trying to trap every single consumer into bad deal after bad deal.

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Response to BrentWil (Original post)

Sun Dec 2, 2012, 08:23 PM

169. I don't agree.

I think capitalism is/was a waypoint on the road between feudalism and a more equitable system that we seem to have gotten stuck at.

I'm ready for a post-capitalist system.

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Response to BrentWil (Original post)

Sun Dec 2, 2012, 10:16 PM

173. Big business is a problem.

Last edited Sun Dec 2, 2012, 11:02 PM - Edit history (2)

"Too big to fail" wasn't an issue during most of the past century of industrialization. But now look at BP, the big banks, and Wall Street. Did they feel any pain for their bad behavior? Not much. Today it pays to be bad, and limited liability makes it worse.

Also, some people believe that humans have already developed and refined plenty of useful "stuff" (the landfills are choking) and thus "endless innovation and growth" capitalism has become outdated and often destructive.

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Response to BrentWil (Original post)

Mon Dec 3, 2012, 12:15 AM

179. Unchecked it evolves into monopolies.

 

That's why they broke them up in the early 20th Century. Now? Not so much.

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Response to BrentWil (Original post)

Mon Dec 3, 2012, 12:40 AM

183. And stolen the lives of billions. eom

n/t

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Response to BrentWil (Original post)

Mon Dec 3, 2012, 09:38 AM

200. Capitalism brought misery, cultural displacement and exile for numerous peoples.

 

The Cheviot sheep in the Scottish Highlands & Islands would be a good example. Far from the only example of course. Before someone starts calling these improvements, it was chiefly to service the debts of the local elite, to buy more land and support their lives of luxury in London. Scottish Highlanders that worked elsewhere where quick to return and where willing to resist exile, cultural displacement and misery. Much of the Highlands has been turned into a green desert for the rich to shoot stag. Robbed of much of its native people and culture.

Capitalism will take everything including the soil and minimals you stand on and in the end leave you as they found you only worse by all accounts. They also believe a culture is only valued in its gold.

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