Dear rn, This thread seems to have aroused considerable interest. Several people have chimed in and their comments are all presented below (in order received). As an introduction, permit me to clarify things a bit by offering a definition of 'capitalism'. The core of capitalism is a certain kind of economic transaction: buying a share of an enterprise with the goal of selling that share later at a higher price. But that's only the beginning. As investors accumulate wealth through such transactions, that becomes their career. They seek always new opportuntities for still more wealth accumulation -- by means of still more profitable investment opportunities. As such opportunties begin to diminish -- and they always do eventually -- then investors enter into poltical activity in order to change the rules of the game. Hence an investment practice evolves into a certain kind of elite political activism. This has been the pattern wherever capitalism has taken hold. I think you may be able to fill in the dots in this picture... In the end, what characterizes a 'capitalist society' is domination by a wealthy elite who run things to their own advantage. Ultimately, capitalism is simply one form of plutocracy -- rule by the wealthy. It is different than aristocracy, and by its very nature a more destructive version of plutocracy than is aristocracy. rkm ============================================================================ From: "Carolyn Ballard" <•••@••.•••> To: <•••@••.•••> Subject: Re: re: Globalization of what? Date: Tue, 15 Aug 2000 11:24:09 -0400 Dear Jan/Rex: Responding quickly to a few of Rex's points.... I believe that lazy language contributes to sloppy thinking & may have led us to accusing 'globalization' & 'capitalism' of crimes they have not committed. As a writer by trade, I am hyper aware of the power of words and their impact. "Lazy language," therefore, is not an idea that I embrace, support or practice. I take the choice and use of my words very seriously. Careful answering of the subject question might help. If I'm not mistaken, 'globalization' only means to make (something) global. Knowing what that 'something' is becomes crucial. Precisely....and I believe that was the exact point I was raising. It seems to me that what we are concerned with here is the globalization of GREED & EXPLOITATION. And again, 'capitalism' itself is not the problem; the problem is exploitation & greed! It's rather ironic for me to encounter this "it's not capitalism but greed" argument again. It is one that my 'significant other' and I have from time to time. And again, I am amazed at how _effective_ the years of capitalist propaganda have been that even intelligent minds cannot see the obvious -- that greed and exploitation are the very foundations of capitalism. Individual self-interest over the interest of the whole, competition over cooperation, profits before people and the commodification of life itself, unrestrained growth over sustained development -- these are some of the most basic premises of capitalism as we know it. They evolved from the underlying assumption of capitalism that human beings, by nature, are acquisitive (greedy) and have only their self-interest at heart. Thus, the other evil that Rex mentions -- exploitation -- naturally follows from that. But the proof is in the pudding, as the saying goes, and proof abounds throughout the world: Greed & exploitation are the NATURE of capitalism. Trying to defend capitalism by saying that greed and exploitation are the real problems is like saying that nuclear weapons aren't the problem; it's the plutonium !! Another idea that pops up from time to time, the notion that we can win if we just get enough people on 'our side', I think misses the mark again. NOBODY WINS UNLESS WE ALL WIN! What we need is honest dialogue between parties committed to finding win/win solutions, willing to be flexible & to hear each other out. I never meant to imply an US vs THEM approach.....far from it. In fact, by forcing people to confront the "what" of globalization (capitalism), an idea that they've at least become somewhat confortable if confused about discussing, I think we _are_ opening up a dialogue across _all_ factional lines. I believe this is the point that Richard et.al. have made time and again: getting the diverse activist leaders/groups to see the connectivity of their causes -- the common enemy. The enemy is not _people_. It is a foolish economic/political ideology. Of course, I could be wrong, but this is what my heart is telling me at the moment. And I sincerely applaud this honest acknowledgement of fallibility.....the sign of a wonderfully open mind !! We are, in fact, all susceptible to wrong thinking, ergo the importance of an open mind to learning and discovering new truths. The closed minds, the minds that have been brain-washed and propagandized for decades, are the great obstacle that we must overcome, if we are to ever achieve a true democratic renaissance. There are layers upon layers of lies that must be peeled away, and this is no small task. The protest movement -- the "in your face" sort of activism -- is part of that process. Writing, I assert, is also part of that process. It is an integral educative process involving many different methods. Bringing the "what" of globalization to the forefront in the public arena is, in my opinion, a next crucial step in that process as well. However, I confess that I could be wrong too, Rex, but that was why I threw the question out there for thought and discussion on the list. So, I thank you for your thoughtful remarks from the heart! I certainly respect the courage of advancing one's ideas. However, like my significant other, you haven't convinced me that capitalism can be made "good" ! [smile] In peace, Carolyn ============================================================================ Date: Tue, 15 Aug 2000 14:02:30 -0400 From: David Creighton <•••@••.•••> Reply-To: •••@••.••• X-Accept-Language: en MIME-Version: 1.0 To: •••@••.••• CC: lanigan <•••@••.•••>, Jan Slakov <•••@••.•••> Subject: Re: rn: re: Globalization of what? I went to school back before the neoliberal cultists all-but eradicated Keyensian economics and one of the "truisms" of that time (actually still is, just not party line) is that "Capitalism tends towards monopoly." Anyone who has played the board game of that name knows how that works; it's the rationale for Rockefeller Sr's famous aphorism, "Competition is a sin." Sorry so brief, deadline today, more soon, cheers, David Creighton ============================================================================ Date: Tue, 15 Aug 2000 11:33:33 -0700 From: frank scott <•••@••.•••> X-Accept-Language: en MIME-Version: 1.0 To: •••@••.••• Subject: Re: rn: re: Globalization of what? The definition of capitalism, for those who really want to understand it as well as be able to capsulize it in a word or two ( almost impossible) can be found in three volumes by Karl Marx...(Das Kapital)...failing that interest or available time on the part of the searcher (like me, having only read excerpts), there is a publication called Monthly Review, out of NY, that I find offering the best analysis of capitalism and the modern world... As to the greed part, it leads to confusion, since greed doesn't really define capitalism, but is more a kind of personal epithet...nevertheless, the emotional impact of the word is strong, and there certainly is an abundance of greed within capitalism....however, we should be careful, because many capitalists- and some even truly rotten people-were and are quite generous with their wealth...they can afford to be, but how is a person greedy if he-she gives money away and generally acts like a bleeding heart, at least in public and with an abundant bank book? Are those of us who don't give away money ( because we have little) being greedy, if someone in our wage-salary bracket does give money away, out of some sense of social or religious responsibility that does not involve changing society AT ALL, but does give to charity, etc?? This is part of the confusion that can happen around capital and greed being linked...the accumulation of profit, which is basic to capitalism, did not involved the invention of greed, which even the bible (and that book got all its concepts from pre-literate society) mentions, etc etc etc....so... if it helps a person to think that greed is bad and capitalism is bad, it is understandable that the two are linked...but I think it is a mistake to equate the two as being essential, since they really aren't... one is a social manifestation of the development of political economics, involving much that we don't yet understand, except that it is a force which is destroying much of what we need to survive- the earth and its people!- and needs to be opposed/transformed/changed...by the other, a personal sense of community and cooperation that can hardly be greedy, but could be without greed and still screw up the planet and its people... Lastly, a capitalist could be a nice, generous person and an anti-capitalist could be a nasty, selfish creep...but that wouldn't change the fact that the nice person and the creep were part of a system that needed radical change...none of this may answer the question posed by the poster who said the problem is greed, not capitalism, but I hope it offers some additional thought... and of course, the primary problem is capitalism, not greed! fs ============================================================================ Date: Tue, 15 Aug 2000 13:49:44 -0500 To: •••@••.••• From: Mark Douglas Whitaker <•••@••.•••> Subject: Re: rn: re: Globalization of what? II Mime-Version: 1.0 I agree with Rex. However, taking the same task as Rex, above in looking for win/win situations, for me the issue is organizational: how do we frame durable institutional forms that generate localism and inclusivity that would include many parties? For instance, instead of blaming 'capitalists' it is actually a relation of consumption, organizational pressures for widened economies of scale are connected with with a great deal of aid in everyone's daily lives: depoliticized and ambivalent consumption patterns support 'capitalists'; particular frameworks of finance; particular organization and use of science; and the organization of an unrepresentative state political feedback that sets this up in the first place. Urban sprawl as well eats up landscape and agricultural areas. I suppose a short blurb easy to remember would be what would our economic consumption patterns and our political consumption patterns (parties, state feedback) look like, in a sustainable society? It's an easy 'out' to take over Marxist narratives about 'what is wrong,' focus on economic reductionist perspectives that localise 'blame' with one aspect of society, manufacturing/extraction organizations. However, it's painting ourselves into a tight corner: we miss out on working toward sustainability if we only consider the manufacturing side of economics important: because what we are dealing with is a framework of consumption patterns that maintain certain power relations, in a feedback relationship. Plus, as for state structural issues, there are issue of political inclusion of various groups and equality, because various state structures lead states to be highly unrepresentative and to work against local democratic consensus in preference of highly despatlized ideological 'left and right' issues,' For me, the issues are how to gain some purchase on the politics of highly unrepresentative states, how to frame a more sustainable finance (when the present organization of it is very degradative, to the environment as well as to human locality and community; when our informal political choices are so poor. Consumption. States. Finance. and Science. Science? The power of applied science is being used in certain directions that is unsustainable. If we are concerned with the interactions between the environment and social relationships, inequity issues, and working towards sustainability, taking over 'blaming capitalism' is only one part of the puzzle. Other parts like state structures, the organization of education, citizenship, and finance--i.e, what would sustainability LOOK LIKE--leads to a more strategic sense of what to do. Regards, Mark Whitaker University of Wisconsin-Madison =================== Dear Mark, I fear you fall into a trap similar to the 'greed' vs 'capitalism' false dichotomy. Capitalism is _not simply about methods of production. That was a reductionist theory on the part of Marx, and has nothing to do with this current dialog. Consider for example the US Constitution, which has everything to do with our "state structures", "finance" and just about everything else you've mentioned. That constitution was written, as Jerry Fresia elucidates in "Toward an American Revolution", by an illegitimate wealthy elite -- if not capitalists, then proto-capitalists. rkm ============================================================================ Date: Tue, 15 Aug 2000 16:22:25 -0400 From: lanigan <•••@••.•••> To: Renaissance Network <•••@••.•••> Subject: What sort of capitalism? The reason I don't see 'capitalism' itself as the culprit is because I have a good friend who borrowed a fair hunk of capital from me (at no interest & no pay-back schedule) so he could stay in business as a small general store owner/operator. His employees often make more than he does. He is a capitalist, but he is not greedy! He has no desire to globalize! I joined this list because I want to contribute to & support effective ways to globalize a responsible, self-directed citizenry. I suspect that most of us do (including Carolyn Ballard). But I don't see how we can change irresponsible, greedy capitalists, if we don't "watch our language" & our attitudes toward those who differ. I don't see how a head-on collision between two inflexible positions can result in anything but catastrophe. Meeting a fixed position with another (like "capitalism is the problem!") tends only to harden each stance. I can't ask another to consider changing if I am unwilling to change myself. All capitalists are people. All people have hearts. Some have built big thick walls around their hearts. If we throw rocks at them (because we have a wall around ours, too), they are likely to make their walls thicker. If we let them know that our main concern is health & happiness for every one (excluding no one, even formerly greedy capitalists) & invite them to help us find a win/win solution for us all (& all our progeny) in a sustainable world, I think we have a much better chance. "Capitalism", "communism", "growth" & "community" are all words that cover such a wide range of possible behaviors, they really do need modifiers, to avoid being confusingly ambiguous. We are all one. We share one sun. Working together is so much more fun! Rex Barger, Hamilton, Ontario ===================== Dear Rex, Neither you nor your friend, by virtue of that interest-free loan, are capitalists. If you had invested in his company for the _purpose of selling your interest later at a profit, then to _that extent _you would be a capitalist -- but not your friend. I believe all of us on this list believe in win-win solutions... and as Carolyn pointed out, we are aiming to change a system, not make enemies of any particular people. Nonetheless it is easy to be so pollyanic about 'win win' that we are unable to change anything... > We are all one. We share one sun. Working together is so much more fun! Would this have been your response to Hitler in 1939? This is not such an absurd comparison as you might suppose... check out "Rogue State - A Guide to the World's Only Superpower", William Blum's excellent new book. rkm ============================================================================ Richard K Moore Wexford, Ireland Citizens for a Democratic Renaissance email: •••@••.••• CDR website & list archives: http://cyberjournal.org content-searchable archive: http://members.xoom.com/centrexnews/ featured article: http://cyberjournal.org/cj/rkm/Whole_Earth_Review/Escaping_the_Matrix.shtml A community will evolve only when the people control their means of communication. -- Frantz Fanon Permission for non-commercial republishing hereby granted - BUT include and observe all restrictions, copyrights, credits, and notices - including this one. ============================================================================ .