Sunday, February 20, 2011

When does capitalism benefit society?

What makes for a good capitalistic society? And what makes a capitalistic society not a good one---what makes that kind of a society no good?

The answer is so obvious. But we do not know because ideology has obscured our understanding of this.

A good capitalistic society is one that has a good government taking care of it.

That is a very simple explanation. To understand this, it is not necessary that you be a PhD. Capitalism without government is impossible. A silly, unreal idea. We nevertheless hear such silliness more and more, because these modern day Republican corporatists, or public labor thieves, for example the Governor of Wisc.?---only understand the ideology, not the real economics as it is.

The question is that of when capitalism benefits the society within which it is contained---the society that it dwells within. It benefits that society when some over-arching force is doing its job. Things is(?), you cannot assume that it just happens automatically, which is the silliness.  They'll say, "through the magic of the market," right? What are the possibilities for our understanding what this overreaching, over arching force is that must be there? First of all, it could be nature. There could also be a temporary period where society is stable and successful because of market forces pure and simple (I do not really think so but for the sake of argument we'll offer that it is a possibility). Or, again, the overall benefit we are talking of can come about because it is the government that is the over-arching force. It can happen in any of those ways but in each case there is always something "outside," so to speak. Capitalism is never autonomous. There is some "other" factor we have to take into account. It is not "just capitalism". We do not know here, however, what it is that we mean by "just capitalism" or "mere capitalism itself."

So, these boundaries are what need to be explored. This is to say that there is always something "outside of the market." Again, there seems to be a smaller "market" versus the bigger market situation, which seems a matter of context and casting or something; and I have never seen a serious discussion of what is actually meant by "market." It is a bit difficult to stipulate that a given phenomenon is outside capitalism or whether it is within capitalism, or the same for the word "market": outside of, or within?---markets? Is there a market for the stars in the sky?

Our thesis is that something else outside of mere capitalism itself has to govern capitalism. But really....Should that be so hard to understand? Capitalism exists within society but is somewhat less than society. In other words the terms are not coterminous: capitalism is a socially-linked system of human affairs, we can say. Therefore, not mere individualism. Therefore, not the mere aggregate of the individuals. But it is not totalistic either, because it is, we can say (using Bart Kosko's "fuzzy logic") "a bit smaller" than society.

Somehow it has to be "a bit smaller." "Society" is the biggest designation. It means the totality of human relations, in some human population. Now, I admit, capitalism is big too. I do say that "capitalism is social," but still, "capitalism," it turns out, should not be confuted with "society." But at the present juncture in history, capitalism is a bit pretending it is---pretending that it is just as big as society, hence I hear from the dean of my continuing education English comp. class telling me that IU has a good "product." Even hospitals, today, are the market system or market syndrome.

But, in the words of John and Taupin --- "it's impossible."

Or, as Buddy Holly said, "that'll be the day that I die." Or that we die.

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