Friday, March 18, 2011


We live under capitalism.
Capitalism is our system.
What kind of a system is capitalism?
A single word for a thing does not usually say what the thing is. We do have the word "capitalism." But, outside of our possessions of the one lonely word, what is the best description of how it functions?
One one hand, no one seems to be able to do it --- to say what we mean by "capitalism". But, on the other hand, there are the professionals, in the field of "economics," whose very job is just that: to supply that description. They simply provide a false description. So much for that.

To say that we live under capitalism is to say that it is our system. What do I mean by "system," though?

Notice "the system" is a phrase that also often means the political system, the government. Thus, to say that we live under capitalism is a lot like saying we live under a political system.
Then it is also something like a cultural system, and, like culture, capitalism is a fundamental component of how we order things, or of our setting up of a society. Capitalism, like other social institutions, exists in order for the society to function, and ge tthings done ---- it is our way, in our day, of functioning -- or getting things done.
So, what do human beings need to get done? They simply need to find a peaceful as well as enjoyable way of life. Capitalism is about living together, because humans are as social, as are other animals, to a greater or lesser degree, and humans are definitely social animals. Since social animals make their societies together, not alone, capitalism is fundamentally a means by which human beings live together, not alone. And not "privately" or as individuals only. Systems of persons do not operate "by themselves" because they operate through actual consciousness.

Humans cooperate, live together, and coexist through thought and act and intention. Not by invisible hands.

The invisible hand of course is fully explained in Adam Smith's own attempt to provide the same type of explanation or theory of capitalism that we are here looking for, and it explains that sometimes buying and selling various products on the open market can self-organize. Smith describes all sorts of situations in which goods are bought and sold. What he claims is that sometimes the process self-organizes. Sometimes it does not---but in Smith's day, persons found it hard to grasp that the system of buying and selling things ever self-organized. That it could do so came as a revelation. But Smith never said that capitalism always self-organized or that it only self-organized. He only said that it could.
At such times there seems to be an "invisible hand." This is no big deal and Smith only used the clever phrase "invisible hand" once, in the course of the book.

Smith of course was living in a society that was quite different from ours. These capitalistic economic systems for the creation of wealth within human social arrangements were just beginning to become noticeable, and this must have been fascinating. Smith thought about these things and wrote without being a cliched ideologist but rather a philosopher. Smith was in fact a talented professor, of something like ethical philosophy, who endeavored to write a book about the new capitalistic social phenomena he was witnessing.
Since Smith's time capitalism has become not just a curious little system, newly embedded in the larger society, but a way of life; there is a definite distinction to be found involving these two. The later is more like the context for capitalism socially --- capitalism as a way of life, and the former more like a novelty, or a newly arrived system on the block.

And yet, the people refuse to take ownership of it. Dominated by baloney of the so-called "Right" or what I'll call the "non-thinking" faction of our society, the people have failed to govern it and to manage it, properly, and, in this way the capitalist system is about to die.

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