Savage capitalism alert!

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Are you in the market for a 1953 Ford Pisicorre with eight seats? Do you want to use it as a boat taxi?

How about a brand new laptop, with Windows 7 Premium, payable in Cuban pesos?

It’s all listed in Revolico, the Cuban Craigslist.

This glimpse into our future just goes to show that you can push people away from capitalism, but you can’t take capitalism from the people.

1 COMMENT

  1. If there’s a false dichotomy, it’s this. Foisted by the sect of Marx, the marxists.

    According to them, everywhere private property (esp. means of production) is not confiscated outright, where there’s not a “dictatorship of the proletariat” is “Capitalism”.

    That’s the natural state of things. That whatever you produce, or buy with your production, is yours. That you can choose who you share it with. That you choose your activities and how to do them. This predates capital and capitalism, it even predates humans sowing the earth and becoming sedentary.

    It’s as if a sect practicing self-castration tried to label derisively every person who did not perform it, engaged in sex regularly and had children. Not only that most humans would never consent to such a thing if asked outright, also there’s the self-mutilation thing.

    I can say for myself that I would not consent to be enslaved to a despot like that, it’s like self-mutilation, in fact I would fight it. Also I would not consent to any intermediate feel-good steps taking me to such a destination. Do I deserve a label? Does anything that is not theirs deserve a label?

    There’s marxists and the rest of the world, which is presumably saner. So much that even in marxismo’s Latin American franchise, Cuba, they cannot stop “capitalism”, or should I say human society?

    • Exactly!! Talking about capitalism and socialism as “options” is misleading. Capitalism is natural, socialism is a mental construction, an invent.
      Capital acumulation is normal, even in animals. You can find people that decided not to have children and even not to have sexual relations, that´s ok for them, that´s a personal decision, but they can not pretend to impose such a lifestyle to the rest.
      Socialism is like “economic abstinence”

      • “Capitalism” is like “Evolution” in the sense that the words describe both an unavoidable fact resulting from the laws of the universe and the human attempt to understand/harness it. They’re also alike in the sense that there’s a group of pseudo-religious nutcases that try to deny their existence because it makes things too equal (“If evolution was true, then humans are nothing more than talking monkeys!!”) or too unequal (“In capitalism, there will always be poor people!!”), and who try to push their agendas by attacking both concepts on emotional grounds without realizing that no amount of wishful thinking will make the laws of nature go away.

        Even if we ignore money and material possessions, people still have capital. You have your free time, intelligence, knowledge, creativity, etc, etc. The kick is that no human is capable of fulfilling ALL his needs and desires by himself. So no matter what, you still need to trade your capital with someone else, hopefully so you can help him fulfill his needs and he can help you fulfill yours.

        The problem is that capitals are never equal. They’re not equal in the amount each person possesses and they’re not equal in their usefulness, and again, I’m not even talking about money, but about the inner capacities each persona has. So no matter what you do, you’ll invariably end up with a society where some people have lots of useful capital while others have little of it. Trying to avoid the obvious consequence of this by forcing everyone to have the exact same quality of life is like trying to avoid evolution by forcing all babies to be born with the exact same DNA: In the absolutely best case scenario, you’ll kill your whole society.

      • Raúl,

        I don’t have time right now to launch into the 3,000 word rant on how desperately wrong this argument is. So here’s the highly condensed version: Human beings have been on the planet for about 100,000 years. Capitalism has been on the planet for about 200 years. You’re basically arguing that human beings have spent 99.8% of their time on earth laboring under various unnatural systems and just happened to discover the “natural” economic order at around the time the steam engine was invented. This is, on the face of it, absurd.

        Capitalism is a human construct, a recent one at that, and one that even when it works flies in the face of a lot of “natural” instincts that societies have encoded into their way of doing things for many millennia.

        None of which is to say that socialism is any more natural than capitalism. They’re both highly artificial intellectual constructs. “Naturalizing” them is reifying them: a way of shirking moral responsibility for the consequences of human institutions

        • In reality, I have to somewhat agree with Quico. Being free to choose your activity and how you perform it, is natural. Having some sort of private property system is natural.

          Capitalism is a result of having a degree of freedom (and obligations) codified reliably, plus wages, prices, lending at interest (banks for example); in sum financial progress, plus technical advances. “Capitalism” now is not the same as Capitalism in Marx’s times. The future will surely be different from the present also.

          However, Quico, my bet is that freedom, more of it and of a better quality, will be an ingredient of successful societies in the future. My wager for Socialists who still want a dictatorship of the proletariat and State control of the “means of production” is that they will never go anywhere. There will be markets.

          In that sense “Capitalism” as used by marxists, and our restricted definition of Capitalism are naturally useful and understandable to human beings. In that very sense Socialism, meaning economic totalitarianism, is an aberration, a form of castration.

        • “Capitalism is an economic system in which the means of production are privately owned and operated for profit, usually in competitive markets”

          Quico, first of all I think we have to be clear about what capitalism is all about. Above I quote a wikipedia (not academic) definition. I would not be able to say that “privately owned means of production operated for profit usually in competitive markets” exist just 200 years ago. I have read typical capitalist stories in The Bible.

        • I can see your point here, but I have to think the barter system in pre-monetized economies really fits the definition of “capitalism” as well. It’s impossible to confuse it with the capitalism of today, but it sure wasn’t socialism. And just because they are different doesn’t mean they aren’t the same thing, in essence. Just because the first man to throw a spear at his prey didn’t have a concept of quarks and muons doesn’t mean he knew nothing at all about physics. Modern physics, like modern capitalism, has been gradually built up, based on concepts that have been around a long time.

          ‘Socialism is like “economic abstinence”’

          I love it! (Does that make “safe sex” the equivalent of a well-regulated economy?)

          • Yes. Saying that capitalism exists since industrial revolution started, is equivalent to say that science exists since Descartes wrote The Discourse of the Method.

          • With regard to “safe sex”, it is an euphemism. Sex is never “safe”. Like in business, you have to take risks. When economic players start asking for “safety” to do business, the economy dies. Like “safe sex” a “safe business” no preña!!

        • I’ve noticed a common confusion regarding capitalism in past debates, and I’m seeing it here. There’s “Capitalism” as an economic implementation, and then there’s just “capitalism”, the study of how risks are weighed in order to obtain value.

          When chavez speaks out against Savage Capitalism, he speaks against the economic implementation that leads to greater and greater inequality, and it seems to be the Capitalism to which you are referring. When Raul speaks about capitalism, I’m guessing he’s talking about how even in pre-human nature, and even in pre-life chemical crucibles the members in most natural sets attempt to optimize value and risk ratios. Evolution is just a direct example of this generalized concept of capitalism.

          A third trending definition of capitalist is the one I support: an economic implementation based on the almost undeniable principles of capitalism, while doing away with the greatest weakness of Savage Capitalism, poverty.

  2. Sorry, but, even agreeing on that, that is not an argument for capitalism. It is natural to kill the children that are not yours if you get a new wife, or to wipe a population that you don’t like and is using resources you also need. Watch the male lions and their prides, read some of our history.

    Human Rights are also a mental construct, but I’d take that convention rather than the natural alternative.
    The value of economic and political systems is not related to whether they are natural or not.

    • Of course, inter-society violence should be put into a different basket as intra-social violence.

      Even today it’s uphill for the freest and most progressive societies on earth to forswear war, to drop all justification for conquest, or to treat foreigners on an equitable footing.

      Human rights are an artificial construct. So everything in society. Including warfare, carried out usually by governments.

      Natural in my case means that it can be taken into practice readily inside a society, where most people readily understand and accept the basics of how it works as well as associated ethical system. Without the need of constantly making threats to members of society (or carrying them out), without the need of a totalitarian doctrine, which’s implementation takes enormous expenditure, suffering and above all, confusion of the victims.

      Not “natural” as the state of things twenty thousand years ago all over the world.

    • Disagree. Saying that Human Rights are a mental construct means that it would have been possible to “construct” any other thing. No way. When other “mental construct” like the “right to get your property” or “the right to kill you” or “the right to torture you” is openly practiced in any given society for most of its members drivin to social destruction, you have the evidence that there were no choices for “another mental construction”

      • Well, had exactly that for thousands of years. It was bad, but it sorta worked. many of the civilizations with no HR lasted thousands of years. hell China is doing well now without that specific construct.

        Don’t get me wrong. To me the declaration of HR is the closest thing to a sacred document that I have, but it is a construct. We could have one that allowed blasphemy laws or torture.

        And, in other example, it is only natural for companies to grow big and buy anybody else, consolidate and mature. Should we abolish antitrust lwas because they are unnatural? I do not think so.

        • Guido, as with the two angles on capitalism, there are two angles on “Human Rights”. You seem to be saying that Human Rights, the document, is not needed. I think Raul refers to the actual right to live mentioned in the document, the concept. If you think about it, it’s the right to live on which all of evolution of life is based, as are the right to grow, reproduce, etc.. Just because a society did not write a document to list these does not mean their society is not based on them.

          To counter your examples, think mafia. The mafia’s killing not only of a wrongdoer but also of all the wrongdoer’s family demonstrates that they are well aware that right to life was being violated.

          • Exactly. Mafia behavior is a good example. Despite the violence, they don´t think that killing people is a human value.

          • No, exTorres. We need the document, and we need to improve it. Even having it our govts still commit terrible crimes and abuses. There is no “right” to life or reproduction in nature. If you are a lion cub and your father was driven out of the pride by another lion, tough shit for you. The new alpha male is going to kill you.

            Precisely what is great about modern democracies is that you have a set of rights just because you exist. Not because you have two testicles, or not because you came out of the right womb, or because you have land. That does not happens in nature.

            There are many parallels in human civilizations, but nowhere there is a right to freedom of speech. That is just not natural.

            And, why neither of you have answered about the anti turst laws?

          • Guido,

            I’m not speaking against the document. It’s a good thing. I’m just pointing out the difference between the document and the concept it represents. Just because the document does not exist does not imply that the concept it represents ceases to exist. Also, if others disrespect it, does not mean the concept isn’t there. Rather than counter what I am saying, your lion example supports it. It is analogous to the mafia example.

            Modern democracies are applaudable in having put to paper what were concepts all along. But, the document is not what defined people’s right to life. The whole premise of the Human Rights document is that it is supposed to contain a list of rights that are ours by the mere fact of being human, not because anyone is granting them to us. If those who wrote it had decided to include things that don’t really match the concept of human rights, such as killing or torturing, the document would have probably failed politically, but the concepts of right to life and non torture would not have ceased to exist.

            I’ll give you a concrete example. Do you believe that just because women weren’t allowed to voice their opinions that they didn’t have the right to do so? The point I’m making is that they had the right all along; men (and women) were just not letting them.

            Regarding anti-trust laws, they relate to businesses. I’m not sure where to go with that. I am under the impression that anti-trust laws exist for market reasons of fair play and opportunity, not related to Rights.

          • Extorres, my point, simply is that it is absurd to use that something is “natural” as an argument for its validity. if capitalism is good or not for society, does not depend on whether it is natural or not.

          • Guido,

            I had been replying regarding “human rights”, not regarding “natural”, but the same point applies. You’ll notice some people are referring to “natural” as meaning in nature, others may use it to mean that it is the state to which all returns if humans don’t interfere with mental constructs. Personally, I am of the stance that there is nothing human beings can do that is strictly unnatural; it’s very arrogant to think we can rise above nature being that we are mere animals on the planet. But I’m not even saying that my position is the only right one on any of these discussions, just that it seems people are using different definitions of the words in the discussions and not even understanding each other.

            Regarding capitalism, remember that there is the economic implementation of a system some like to call Capitalism, then there’s the word simply used to describe the study of markets, risks, values, etc.. Capitalism is natural in the sense of physics. Even in the strictest communism, capitalist principles apply. Even before the word was coined, capitalism existed. For example, the max/min Calculus problem of wolves and rabbits in the forest, where the more wolves leads to fewer rabbits which leads to fewer wolves which leads to more rabbits which leads to more wolves, etc., the principles of capitalism are in play.

            Note the words carefully: that capitalism is a natural undercurrent in no way implies that Capitalism would be good for society. In fact, Capitalism, as has been attempted so far, fails in reducing inequality and preventing poverty. Thinking that anyone can create a system that will leave out the princples capitalism is not realizing how like the laws of physics capitalism is. Thus, I support a new form of Capitalism that still adheres to the undeniable principles of free market capitalism, but eliminates the weakness of current implementations by eliminating poverty and reducing inequality through UCT.

            It really boils down to semantics. I was merely pointing out the differences.

        • When we use such an examples as a proof that we could have built “another mental construct” we are taking the exemption as the rule.
          We have had more violence before but this does not mean that the “right value” was to kill the other. Such an state of things would have driven to the extintion.
          Even animals don´t behave that way.
          If you look without overestimating cultural differences you will find impresive coincidences among civilizations. Without that coincidence, it would have been imposible to travel around the world. Travel from Italy to Japan would have been like going to another universe with other physical laws, without gravity or without light for example.
          Human Rights, as we know it, are just a formalization of things that mankind have considered the “right things” from the begginings.

  3. I would say that all mental constructs are also natural, and that any attempt to separate something human from nature is a missunderstanding of the word “natural”. You would have to be more specific. In accordance with our instincts? In accordance with the exisiting ecosystem…? What do you mean by “natural”?

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