Monday, June 11, 2012


There are many systems. The infinite variability of man manifests in terms of various human systems. Yet many of the systems of man no longer exist, as they have all been replaced by capitalism.
     Capitalism is a system that human beings live under; human beings live in a way that is capitalistic. They can exist that way; perhaps a few can thrive that way. Still, not many really seem to.
     Another mode of looking at systems is that of anthropology, the study of man and man’s variability. All the anthropologist sees are human systems – he does not find the “right” one, or the wrong one. Capitalism is a human system. And of course it is social, so it serves the needs of the persons in it. That, I think, is a thing we tend to forget. In any case, today the whole world follows that system.       
     And yet, there does not seem to be any expert who can give the explanation --- no one that knows why this is happening --- why the whole world is presently following or subscribing to this system. I don't think "they are forced to" is an adequate explanation.
    As we have said, there are infinite different systems, and thus it follows that capitalism should not be considered the only system. There are also many different versions of capitalism. All these have certain similarities, and they all constitute a kind, or a category, of human social system. But there certainly does not exist anywhere any one, necessary, system. Capitalism just came along: there is a particular system or set of systems identifiable today as the system we have (capitalism). Not the only system or the only necessary system, it follows that the variations on capitalism are only some amongst an infinite array of various manifestations of human behavior and human systems. Furthermore, why not make modifications to capitalism? In fact, capitalism is only the name for a family of systems. It changes over time. Sometimes, we read that this change always tends to accelerate. What then? Time goes along at the same speed but "changes accelerates." I suppose we could ask which future we would like to "accelerate" into. If we are going so fact, it could be dangerous. There are potential systems that men can create, and those that are created are actual systems humankind did create. Since the beginning of time systems have surely been created. The beginning of time is certainly something abstract as well. I do not remember it. There is not just one capitalism. There is a different one, these days every five years. Acceleration itself, like "growth," is no solution. It is just a description and we are left with just as much puzzlement. So far, all of these variations are versions of capitalism --- they fit into one general pattern. It is not completely clear that anyone in the scholarly world can delineate exactly what that pattern is. At the same time, the dictionary definitions of capitalism are nonsense, and the science of "economics" has been totally captured by ideological priorities. Or, alternatively: it is simply very difficult to exactly delineate how any human system works, since it is, after all, human.
     So, we are still talking about "systems" here, rather than specifics of capitalism. The infinite possible systems of man are not given or pre-determined, nor is there any logic to it. They are made, they are created. Prior to that, it is not there; they don't exist. Their specific identities, their features and cultural practices, are not given by by any logic – there may be a logic to systems per se, but there is no way of predicting which systems will occur. It is just not a logical thing. And one of them is capitalism. There is no list of cultures, no limit to what systems may occur. The only thing one can say is that we ourselves make them. Mankind simply creates this. Then they exist, and we can talk about them, and capitalist economics is just a human system. It is not special. And yet, it is. Today, everything seems to reduce to capitalism, or capitalisms.    
     Why did this (or these) system (s) win, and replace all the others? Understanding that, investigating that, getting some glimmer of insight to that, should be seen as important. What harm would it do to investigate? Our political leaders should have something more to go on. They need to have more than what we are giving them. There should an attempt to understand.

     Maybe we should introduce a little more variability into capitalism. That is one idea, the idea that intervention is in no way to be eschewed but rather that interventions are normal. We should be a little more open-minded as to variety and let in new ideas. That would be like the idea of creating yet more capitalisms, but it should also be remembered that the core phenomenon (the ideal capitalistic lifestyle, where persons can be most happy) occurs in only a few places. 
     One of them is my bedroom. However, if we speak historically, these places are Italy (12th century, please), Holland (several major cities), England (h.q: London), and the U.S. As to whether Brazil, Russia, or India and China are now to be added to the list is doubtful. In any case it is rather difficult to say where capitalism is successful (other than in the minds and bedrooms of men). It's out there somewhere. There is an ambiguity, isn't there? It is all over, and yet it is not clear where it is. There is also usually a particular city that is central: Venice, Antwerp, Bruge, London. It is clear there is some kind of core-periphery situation.

Capitalism --- it's a bit of an enigma. Of all those who tried to understand capitalism, definitely the person who came closest is Karl Marx. He was a bit negative. Karl Marx was also the first of the capitalist critics, or critics of capitalistic times, capitalistic historical times. He was, I believe, the first “critical intellectual (or theorist)" whose efforts were tied specifically to understanding capitalism, its times and era. (So, he was historical, material, dialectical…) 
     These critical types have pointed out to us serious flaws that may exist within capitalism. Some, like Marx, also choose to believe that the system will fall. (Thus: a belief system that says the human system will fall.) So then you have no more capitalism, and that is how those systems of thought deal with those systems of human life. After the end of capitalism you get something else such as socialism. Then you have gotten rid of your system, altogether. 

Yet it is hard to criticize an abstraction such as a human system. (In other words, a human system, although concrete, is an abstraction to the mind.) Humans, as we said, have their systems. There is, then, only one real flaw, in any human system, including capitalism. That is that it ceases to be (one). Otherwise we cannot say a system is flawed.  If it is a system, it is a system, a way in which humans work out their devices. We cannot really say it is the “wrong” system; it is our system that we had for awhile. You lived under it, you got rid of it, now maybe, under socialism, you are more happy? (note)* But the old system was just the one some persons lived in --- or under.  We do not go up to an Apache Indian and say “your system is wrong.” That would be ridiculous.
     In fact Marx never said that capitalism was flawed, he just said it was doomed. That did not turn out to be correct. But at any rate, it can be argued that he did not say it was a bad system, and if so, it was because he knew you cannot really label a system --- it's abstract (somehow). Maybe the failure of capitalism to die should be a matter of serious concern. Now capitalism, whatever that is, is all we've got. The system does not seem to be doomed. So, who or what is?
     Capitalism is our system. Either we fix it, and make it a better system, or we are the ones who are doomed.


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