Friday, March 4, 2011

Friday, March 04

Our way of life, the capitalistic social form, is fundamentally based on transaction. We live under the rubric of capitalism; to obtain any wealth in this system one must interact. The essential thing that one must do is interact.

To sell some product is to interact. And also, to sell one's labor-power is interaction, so there is always interaction. That's my thesis here.

But standard economic theories usually begin instead by stating capitalist wealth to be private, or that the means of production are held privately. You all know these statements because they are the common trope. They seem to be staking a claim for what the topic of discussion can be about. I'd say that they want it to be about the action of isolated, private individuals. They frame these actors or trading persons or traders - those who are actually doing the trades, the deals - as being concerned with their own self-interest. That seems clear. They say those persons are only trying, or purely trying, to achieve private/personal goals.

But we are not obligated to follow them there. Instead, let's look at it (capitalism) as interaction. "Interaction" and "rational self-interest" do not seem to me to be same. Thus, I would see them as contrasting descriptive terms.

One gets one's wealth by earning it under capitalism. I agree that something occurs on the individual level. The individual does something, in order to get money. However, let me suggest that in most cases earning that money (or making that moolah) is NOT self-interested. We can see that it involves other persons, such as one's boss. How about one's client? --- or one's customer? --- one's political constituency, maybe? Why de-emphasize this interactivity?

I agree with the statement that one gets one's money, or wealth, as a result of one's own actions (by contrast with other methods such as hereditary land holdings or one's privilege as a member of a nobility). But those actions are nevertheless relational. Capitalistic acts of individuals are more productively and usefully to be understood as relational acts, not mere individual acts. Therefore, what I think is that to buy and sell is to interact.

So I see interaction. I see relation. What I do not see is "private" capitalism.

I am the author of a new view, or a new window, on economics.

1 comment:

  1. the last paragraph save the subsequent very short ones, which is to say the paragraph containing more than one line, was edited, March 21.

    It is part of an ongoing effort to sort out what we mean by "self-interest" vs. community interest within economic theory. It is, at once, a matter of what the economic situation on the ground is, and what we think that it is: the two are always together in this particular scholarly field. There is never, in my work, an economic "fact" not impinging on our interpretation of that fact. Shades of "Heisenberg Principle" in physics and all that. What we think has effects, and what we think in relation to economics (again: the actual material phenomena as well as the theory of economics) on what we think about. There is no absolute separation and somehow the merging of subject and object occurs in a unique way in the field of economics ---- or, in terms of what "economics" invokes for/in/about/concerning the total subject matter of what concerns humanity today.