Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Work in Progress (Economics)

     If we look at what is presently being said about capitalism, if we look at the current discourse, there is a discussion often about “private ownership,” often ownership of “the means of production," or, alternatively, of "the means of production, distribution and exchange."     {footnote}
      These kinds of statements are completely normal. They're perfectly ordinary, common. It no longer resonates to me, however. In consequence I need to look it up in order to remind myself, and refresh myself about what the so-called normal in the matter of "private ownership." I cannot keep those statements in my head because my theory does not agree anymore.
     In the so-called "normal" that which is “privately owned” is usually “resources.” Actually, the notion of resources that are privately owned is hard to convincingly assert. Let's take banks. What is "privately owned" exactly? Not the money, right? As so it goes, the more one examines.
     My ideas have thrown the whole normative structure into controversy/perplexity----and in fact we will find that a great untruth is being propagated here. Capitalism associated merely with individualism (or private ownership) does not exist. Although some say this, that does not make it true. I can confidently assert that it is a false understanding, and, thus, I have come to understand that it is wrong to characterise capitalism as individualism. To make that characterization seems to me to make a necessary as well as an exclusive connection between capitalism and private ownership.
     But it isn't true, and this is why I think  that there is a great untruth that has been propagated here. Once we have understood this, there is the question of why this would have happened. It is such a glaring mistake. It is such a great misapplication of human understanding to the human world. We must understand why this is; what is happening; why is this? Why is there such an untruth extant?
     Regardless, there is in fact the extensive literature, which is embedded into the society (the U.S.), and which is therefore "ideological," and that associates capitalism and individualism and implies that, in thinking about capitalism, we should necessarily and only connect it to individualism, and, therefore, this also implies that there are no social elements there! The result is that every day we are using the wrong set of ideas. At the same time, this wrong understanding is now completely established; it is second-nature to all of us. So, again, we have these two issues before us, namely the fact of what happened and the appropriateness of our asking why the sociality of capitalism would need to be denied in this manner.

     Whatever the reasons (for these equations that connect capitalism to the private and not to the public),  though, we can still reveal now that the idea is wrong. Once exposed, how indeed can the ever-so-common assertion that capitalism is necessarily connected to the private sphere and only to the private sphere stand? We can look more closely into this.
     It is astonishing that this idea have been allowed to pervade intellectual life if, after all, human beings live in society? No one can say that society is not social. But to say that capitalism is not social is fine and dandy. I am not saying capitalism does not have its well-known individualistic elements. Of course capitalism has those elements, whether we call it "private" or "individualistic," etc. And we can find them. Let clarify that. There is private property, which would be property owned strictly by some individual. Of course this the fact. But it is not the sole fact. It is fine with me if you say that that is a feature of the world we inhabit; it is. Again, each person usually has a sum of money and it is probably in a bank or in some other financial institution. But a ssoon as you explore a little you find the social element. In the case of banks, it would be lent out or invested somehow by that bank, not simply held by the indivual person, unless it is held as cash in a safe. Capitalism is not some sort of hyper-individualism and the sin of individualism here, what should be condemned or rejected, is not some sort of individualism as a reality, but rather it is a philosophical sin, a great theoretical mistake.

     Even in the preceding paragraphs all sorts of social themes can be found or “unpacked.” To say  that capitalism is “individual” or that it is strictly private is simply ludicrous. So, why are we still doing it?And, why did we ever do it? In the sense of reality as opposed to publicity, capitalism has many social elements.  Curious, then, that we deny these.
(from an ongoing writing project: questions to worldcitizenjs@gmail.com)

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