Monday, February 21, 2011

Economic Theory-1

It may be proper now for me to say a little about a theoretical alternative among theories of capitalism --- this I would locate in the discourse of economics, and, specifically, international trade. (It is sometimes better to read my blogs chronologically, the earlier blogs first, so maybe I can label some later blogs "Economic Theory-2 or 3, etc., so that the reader can find a thread to follow chronologically.) I arrived at this theoretical alternative within the discourse on economics as a result of an insight into international trade, which is to say the trade in goods between one society and another----perhaps between the rich societies and societies that are much less wealthy.

I think that the correct approach as far as the overall way that capitalism affects our lives is to think of it as a giant public structure. It is, as we know, "global," and, it is a structure that involves all of us in the developed world, and, not only that, it involves the victimized, exploited countries too.

I think that we do not merely need to see economics as the "aggregate"
(aggregate is a favorite economics term, in common use) outcome of the actions of
of individuals. That is just an ridiculous attempt to make it seem as if these individuals are not connected to one another, in the first place, and thus, they are supposedly only involved in their own private, personal self-interest.

But that is just not capitalism. The personal self-interest theory of capitalism is therefore ideological and false (just to give one example of the absurdity involved in all this---there are nations. But I guess the persons who framed economic theory never thought of that).

The personal self-interest or private self-interest theory says that capitlaism is something that it is not, which is to say it is an erronious description. The problem is that a wrong view of that sort leads to eventually to an impasse.
Does "self-interest" exist? Yes, I will admit it does, and, it might be nice to investigate how self-interest works within capitalism. Self-interest exists. It is there existentially. The concept certainly may be defined and elaborated on in dictionaries, and philosophised about and so forth. That does not however mean that it is the main thing or only thing in capitalism. So, once again, the problem is that we have gotten into the wrong ideas about capitalism and we seem to be stuck there.
It's all very ideological. Once again, we can certainly find self-interest, in nature. Of course. We do not want to try to state that it is not there. But we also do not want to state that self-interest is all there is. As as a student of economics at a graduate school, the term came up in a fundamental way, because it was embedded as a core assumption in the theoretical justifications within the course material, specifically the textbooks. I could never make any sense of it. In any consideration of economics, self-interest should not have this central role. This concept should not be a front-line concern. It is not on the "cutting edge" of concerns in any dynamic sense, for self-interest is only one component in capitalism, and not the most dynamic one. Maybe self-interest should be more of a background theme. It isn't the theme we need. So, let's lose it, then.
If we do that, we could come to see capitalism in a new way---a much different way. This is what I have achieved, myself. This also enables us to completely get rid of the standard trope that says "do not interfere in the dynamism of markets" and so on. We come to see capitalism as a public structure. Once we see it this way, it makes no sense to say that a public structure, i.e. capitalism should not "interfere" in itself. To say that capitalism is a public structure is, also, not to say that it is not private in some ways, too. It does not need to be formalized as a public structure. It is one, whether we realize it in theory or fail to and run around believing ideological nonsense. Formally and publicly saying that capitalism has important social components, or that it is a giant public structure, might sound similar to socialism, so, that helps us understand why it was so important to frame capitalism according to an incorrect (superstructural ideology or) theory. At any rate, aside from these important questions of how ideology functions in a society, it does exist, which is to say already, as a social event, not as an exclusively private one.

Now that we have gotten that all straightened out, we can appreciate the possibilities for (and I will say it straightforwarly) intervention. We can appreciated the benefits that can come from intervention. We can now see how powerful intervention could be since intervention is not a problem, once we see capitalism as vitally public. We now see capitalism as only incidentally -- or provisionally -- private or self-interested. We now see that capitalism is a public issue more than some private thing that is somehow "aggregated" by the theorist in order to make sense in theory. The whole notion of capitalism as being "private" is simply ideology. It is the very power of capitalism that made this ideological trope necessary.

In this regard, let me note also that the whole practice of using the terms "public" and "private" strikes me as curious. Economics, after all, is the study of how a society divies up available resources. So, isn't that public? But no, capitalism is "private," the economist says. Yet, as I just said, economics is by definition a matter involving at least two persons, so it ought to be seen as public in any case. So, we get this odd language use of "private sector" and "public sector," which does nevertheless seem to make good sense, once we know what we are talking about. But the problem with these terms is, once again, an ideological one. The terms "public", "social", and "private" seem mixed up in some kind of an ideological stew. Capitalism is actually a spontaniously and informally public system, wherein all kinds of persons operate in markets and trade and create profits.
But we cannot do anything of use in economics if we have been completely captured by ideology. Whic is a depressing subjct. At any rate, seeing capitalism in terms of its public elements is something I am trying to prime the reader for. Seeing capitalism's public aspects is a real possibility. I have been doing it this way for years, but I would appear to be the only one. (Also kind of sad.)
Such an new vision would, certainly, entail finding an alternative to the usual way of seeing things so that instead of always, always, always seeing the private or self-interested elements in the thing, we could get to a more correct view. What would happen is that we would now have an alternative to seeing things as the more normative and orthodox ideology "commands" us.

Therefore we have been trained, by ideology, to frame this whole thing in the wrong way.

Economics---we may also substitute the word "capitalism"---is both public AND private. I should not think this is so very difficult to admit, although perhaps I have overlooked a more compelete discussion of the grandness of American capitalism's accomplishment, in denying just the very thing that was true all along.

(As for the stuff in international trade, I guess that'll have to wait for a later posting on this blog.)

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