11 Responses

  1. William Falberg August 15, 2011 at 7:49 pm |

    @Jeff White
    Wow! Someone finally raised the bar for an intelligent discussion of economy! Thank you. I’ll do my best to follow your reasoning but I’m not an economist, so have some mercy.
    You point out an aspect of capitalism I haven’t considered in isolation: the barefoot-in-the-jungle, survival-of-the-fittest, predatory nature of trade and trading. I don’t know which came first, the market or the government, but they must have evolved together through the ages as co-dependent entities in a world of mercantile chaos. I can’t recall any period in that span of time when the merchants were both proprietors and regulators until the Companies Act of 1862 in Britain and the Federal Reserve Act of 1913 in the US made it possible for corporate attorneys to usurp governing authority by the clever application of Law in a democratic republic ruled by Law under Constitutional authority. When the Law became sovereign, corporate lawyers became the well-paid mercenaries of a financial oligarchy responsible to themselves alone, outside the law.
    Capitalism, as I understand the term, is an economic system deriving its credibility by consent of all concerned. Corporatism, as I understand it it, is a political system deriving its authority through fiscal coercion. Democracy is a political system deriving its authority from the consent of the governed to incorporate a sovereign entity . Capitalism, as practiced in a democratic society, was never intended to be a walk in the park. It’s tough, but fair, and capitalists stand responsible for their actions where corporations are nameless, vaporous apparitions that can hide behind the laws that were meant to protect humans from violation of their personal sovereignty.
    It should be self-evident that incorporation-by-registration is a corruption of capitalism, designed by non-capitalists to concentrate the assets of others into the hands of an un-elected, unrestrained entity with the potential to financially rival the sovereign itself; and to do so without personal risk civilly or criminally. Yes, corporations can “die” but the people behind them feel no consequences. They’re not liable. That immunity, in itself, promotes a reckless disregard for social consequences the corporation might cause. Corporate culture rationalizes treasonous actions as “serving the stockholders’ interests”. This social leveraging would not be possible without the corporate veil of personhood.
    So, no, corporations are not subject to all the same economic laws and contradictions inherent in the capitalist system. They exert their financial power over government to write laws favoring themselves and eliminate contradictions by assimilation.
    Incorporation is obviously a powerful tool in the capitalistic system, but *good* only when its use is limited to serving the general citizenry of a duly incorporated and ratified government. In other words; if private corporations were subject to the same limitations citizens demand for ratification of a government they would be treated legally as public utilities. To my recollection, nobody ever ratified the Federal Reserve Bank. The same reasoning should apply across the board to all corporations.
    Granting corporate charters to a capitalist is like giving nuclear weapons to a child. It’s really stupid; but you can’t blame the child. In my opinion it takes the collective wisdom of an entire nation to function as one adult in matters of economy and I believe capitalists would kill each other off to the point of extinction without an “adult” in the room: a sovereign entity to settle disputes and represent the consumer, not rule them.

    Capitalism without a governing authority is therefore brutal, but having tried a number of flawed economic “isms”, what new “ism” would you prefer?

  2. William Falberg August 15, 2011 at 2:58 pm |

    Hi Chris, I think you’re confusing capitalism with usury. Capitalism can shrink according to demand. Usury must grow and assimilate like a demented VAMPIRE PONZI BORG to live. But fear not; when humans become extinct they, too, will die.

    Corporate usurers with the super-natural power to create money from nothing and cloud men’s minds are worse than anything sci-fi could imagine, aren’t they.

  3. Jeff White August 15, 2011 at 2:52 pm |

    William Falberg said:

    Capitalism in the hands of humans is a good and fair system of conducting trade, but “Corporate Capitalism” introduces fictitious persons as immoral, immortal, and highly leveraged competitors with no regard for human values.

    This is a common misconception – that corporations, not capitalists, are responsible for the ills of the system. A moment’s reflection, however, will dispel this misconception.

    1. Capitalism was not all that “good and fair” a system prior to the mid-nineteenth century when corporations were just beginning to become dominant, and most businesses were still sole proprietorships or partnerships.

    2. Corporations are separate legal entities from people, but in actual practice they cannot exist without people. In fact, everything corporations do is done through human agents. The only reason corporations are legally separate is to shield their owners from personal legal liability for the harm they cause.

    3. Corporations are just a convenient way for (human) capitalists to carry on business. They are subject to all the same economic laws and contradictions inherent in the capitalist system that apply to any unincorporated business. “Corporatism” is just another form of capitalism.

    4. As a corollary to point 2: Corporations are amoral – that is, the morality of their behaviour is the morality of the people running them. A corporation will have no more and no less regard for “human values” than the capitalists and their agents who control them.

    5. Corporations survive the deaths of their various investors, but they are not “immortal”. They can be wound up, put into receivership, or forced into bankruptcy, and their corporate status can be revoked by the state.

    The problem is still capitalism itself, not corporations or any of the other tools that capitalists use to facilitate their plunder of the earth and their self-enrichment. As David Harvey said, above,

    Does anyone believe it is possible to find an honest capitalist… any more? Yes, they do exist. But only as a minority that everyone else regards as stupid. Get smart. Get easy profits. Defraud and steal! The odds of getting caught are low. And in any case there are plenty of ways to shield personal wealth from the costs of corporate malfeasance.

  4. Chris Rodgers August 14, 2011 at 6:08 pm |

    If Capitalism ever did work it certainly doesn’t now and would eventually always run into the limits of our planetary ecosystem. In Capitalism as we know it, the economy must continue to grow. I understood as a child that my ant farm was a limited environment, at least limited in space. As a young adult I viewed the photos of the earth from outer space and was never again comfortable when economists or the government talked about how much the economy had grown each year and who’s goal seemed to be increasing incomes for all and therefore more consuming/buying each year.

    My point is that I have always known in my gut that there is only so much in the way of material, space, air and water on the planet and it doesn’t matter how great our technology is. Even technology is made out of material, therefore takes up space and often uses huge amounts of fresh water while at the same time needing air, land and water in which to dump its waste.

    Capitalism requires growth and that simply isn’t possible any longer. Capitalism wasn’t inclined to restrain itself in order to keep functioning longer, before things got this bad. In fact it won’t stop until it runs out of “stuff” to sell or people to sell “services” to or oil for energy. It can’t. Corporations are a major element of this but Capitalism in general has the same requirement for growth. And we need to live with zero growth now.

  5. William Falberg August 14, 2011 at 10:28 am |

    Well said and entirely correct; with the exception that David’s use of “capitalism” would have been more meaningful if he had qualified it with “corporate”.

    Capitalism in the hands of humans is a good and fair system of conducting trade, but “Corporate Capitalism” introduces fictitious persons as immoral, immortal, and highly leveraged competitors with no regard for human values. It is the global nature of unrestrained corporatism that drives out civic and cultural integrity in sovereign societies. I say we “charter” them to death. Starting with the USA.

  6. stefan August 14, 2011 at 6:01 am |

    “these mindless rioters” This is plain classism.

  7. sheila lockwood August 14, 2011 at 4:05 am |

    I still believe in ‘the raising of consciousness’ as a vital element and as stated- other countries are ahead of us in this respect–the fereral gangs here are consumed by consumerism as are most of society—maybe this is the stage for change–the increased opportunity to get the wheels in motion—unfortunately Cameron is set on a different route–more repression, more stamping on the vulnerable.

  8. Will Morgan August 13, 2011 at 11:28 pm |

    But there is nothing new in all of this. Moreover, the collaspe of society we are witnessing could and was predicted by those who have always known that private greed unchecked by any better impulses would bring us to ruin. Every period of history where the arts and the economy flourished is a counter-example to the gross stupidity of running a society on greed alone. Start by asking the Bankers themselves if they are happy. Even the poor whom they have victimized are happier.

  9. elseif August 13, 2011 at 5:25 pm |

    Thatcher was following Milton Friedman who believed that socialism eventually leads to mass enslavement. He thought Chiles dictator Pinochet was doing the right thing by torturing people in order to liberalize markets. He was heavily influenced by Ayn Rand’s ideas that altruism is evil and selfishness is good.
    The rot we see in capitalism/government is mainly because of Milton Friedman. A clever man no doubt but probably a functioning psychopath whose ideas only purpose was for the benefit of Milton Friedman.
    His ideology at least made him incapable of performing his function – you cannot be an economist if your only concern is yourself.

  10. Ian Cunningham August 13, 2011 at 6:37 am |

    Society existed to protect the poor from the excesses of the rich when Thatcher declared there was “no such thing as society” the bedrock was laid for todays ‘feralism’.

  11. Margaret Voit August 12, 2011 at 11:28 am |

    Thank you for the term “feral capitalism”. I have been searching for a term to define this time in the world, you hit the nail. Your writing is clear and tells us what is going on.

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