Monday, March 26, 2012

Capitalism, Public or Private?

By definition, technology should accomplish a task by using technical processes, methods, specialization or knowledge. These techniques are ever-evolving so it is no wonder that as they evolve so too will the institutions, things, and methods in which a technology is used.” (Burt Blanchard, “Perspectives”, vol. 1, no. 1, Roosevelt U., Communications Dept.)

Capitalism is “technical” in many ways but it is nevertheless social. Advances in trade are basically mechanical or technical advances, and not social ones. But these technical advances also brought social changes in their wake. That is the part of economics we overlook, the social part. One rare instance of a person actually noticing that capitalism creates social transformation, rather than "alienation" or individualism, is the paper by John de Emilio (It is called "Capitalism and Gay Identity," and he tells me it is from the early eighties). We mistakenly believe capitalism to be “private.” Instead of characterizing capitalism in that fashion, we could just as well say it is public, and just as well say, therefore, that it is social. The ideology needs to be uprooted.

Persons that have a lot of money can do a lot of things. This is one of the perks coming out of the system of capitalism. The question that we must ask is that of how they get it (or, to put it historically, how they got it). Money became as important as it did only because it creates a society ----- because there was a social structure underlying all of this. It is therefore the case that we do not, and never, did get money through individualism. We did not get our capitalistic wealth, nor any benefits of this capitalistic system, through "self-interest," and this alleged self-interested quest after money was in fact just another social activity like all the others. What we are thus faced with is the matter, not only of capitalism, but of ideology.

In the early stages of capitalism, because it was the selfish and greedy types who wanted to get their hands on that money, or on this new technology of trade, including, as the quote mentions, "...processes, methods, specialization," etc., any notions of human social cooperation had to be supressed. Over time, this emerged as the body of "right-wing thought."

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