We’ve lived so long under the spell of hierarchy—from god-kings to feudal lords to party bosses—that only recently have we awakened to see not only that “regular” citizens have the capacity for self-governance, but that without their engagement our huge global crises cannot be addressed. The changes needed for human society simply to survive, let alone thrive, are so profound that the only way we will move toward them is if we ourselves, regular citizens, feel meaningful ownership of solutions through direct engagement. Our problems are too big, interrelated, and pervasive to yield to directives from on high.
—Frances Moore Lappé, excerpt from Time for Progressives to Grow Up

Monday, September 28, 2015

Quote: Capitalism

Click here to access article by Peter Radford from Real-World Economics Review Blog.

I loved this article not because it contains any great insights--because it has none--but because it concisely expresses a quintessential liberal position in the political spectrum of the US. 

The term "liberal" as used here has a history behind it. It is the democratic ideology tacked onto capitalist ideology which early capitalists originally used to enlist the support of workers in their struggle to overthrow the rule of monarchy and aristocracy. Since their successful revolutions across the Western world, they have continued to use this ideology to justify the rule of this tiny class over the large mass of workers. 

Pure capitalists always needed workers as managers, scientists, highly skilled technicians, and other professionals, especially ideologists, to manage their societies in their interests. These people became known as the "middle class". They enjoyed higher remuneration, many perks that come with salaried positions, and other privileges such as social contacts with capitalists that were denied to workers. Thus, they have been thoroughly co-opted to serve the ruling capitalists in their efforts to exploit workers and the environment. Nowadays we see them very active as propagandists trying to cover over the many cracks of capitalist rule, trying to defend the latter's rule as social and economic conditions for middle class people especially in the US continue to decline along with deteriorating conditions for most workers.

However in the past few decades which saw the advances in technology especially in automation, the rapid development electronic technologies enabling almost instant means communication and processing of data, and the advances of artificial intelligence, capitalists' need for large numbers of middle class people has been declining. This is reflected in the increasing costs of advanced education necessary to train such people, and the number of university graduates with large debts who work in low paying jobs.

Hence, the need for liberal middle class ideologists (notice he describes them as "on the left") to continue their efforts to reassure everyone that the system can work if only we can all make greater efforts to salvage some vaguely defined ideal state of capitalism.
...it behooves us on the left to remember that we have the antidote to capitalism at hand. It is a force that allows us to constrain capital and make it work for all of us and not just the ownership class. And it is a force that allows us to accomplish the redistribution of the fruits of economic advance without risking the loss of that advance.
I kept waiting for his great insight about this "force", but left with only an exhortation that we need to make greater efforts to curb the ravenous capitalist appetite for more wealth and power.