Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Capitally Speaking

The people who think Obama is a Kremlinite socialist are always objectively curious; Captain Capitalist calls himself, well, Captain Capitalist, and on his painfully ad-laden page, advertises his several home businesses along with regular targeted Google & ad-partner ads. The best of his stuff is the Russian winter hats with Obama's name and the USSR symbol, neatly encapsulating his ideology. He and the many like him (who are quite popular) produce all the stuff you'd expect, including regularly saying things like, "There's [multiple subjects]", wanting the American Republican Party to be more Republican and not compromise with those liberal, socialist Democrats, complaining about men's rights and about women who don't put out enough, and fretting that the U.S. is being destroyed by socialists.

In keeping with the general theme of good versus evil, this one will eventually try, to a degree, to rationalize and defend the ideology, but right now, we'll focus on capitalism/socialism issues.

Capital is Colonial

The funniest thing about these 99-percenter go-getter types is that they bitterly loathe Obama (and Bill and Killary, and Feinstein, and the rest of the Fed/DLC) for being "socialist." This wouldn't be funny on its own, except that they view these people as also being, "Not capitalist." Which is hilarious, because Obama is the coldest capitalist you know. In the free market, Obama is beating the hell out of Captain Capitalism, and he's such a good capitalist that he even lies about socialism in order to make his capitalism seem more appealing to his target audience. Now that's good capitalism.

Yeah yeah, define our terms. Capitalism is private ownership of the means of production, whereas socialism is public ownership of the means of production. Now, there has never been actual capitalism in the U.S., anymore than there has been actual democracy, because capitalism can only exist without any kind of regulation. If you "own" your store in old New York, but you have to pay the mob protection money or else get killed and taken over, do you really own your store? And if simply having a piece of paper saying that you own it is enough, then, if we write up a document which gives High Arka the moon, does she own it? Either yes, or you get what this one is saying about the semantics of "own."

Pure capitalism has to be anarchy, because a government that prevents a businessman from exerting labor to steal desired products has already interfered with the freedom of the private individual to own, acquire, and sell products in the marketplace. Most governments do far more than that, begging the question of "marketplace" by proscribing that you can't [openly] kill your [domestic] competitors in order to absorb their businesses, that you can't sell certain products because they're too dangerous, et cetera.

Maybe it's "obvious" that these examples are extreme, but so is capitalism, which is why people die from it every day.

Since feudalism, what we've called "capitalism" has always (yes, always) been in actuality "colonialism:" a process whereby governments use general fiat, debt, or criminology to justify the creation of privateer armies, often shipbound, who kill (dark) people and take their stuff. The plunder goes up for sale, and sometimes, by depriving natives of social support structures and using the resulting void as justification, the governments gain new "markets" for their own goods.

(Say, by England destroying African fields in order to mine inedible diamonds, then sending scholars, with military protection, to teach the natives how to pesticide/till soil in order to temporarily increase crop yields on remaining lands for a few years before starvation sets in, then extending credit so that the natives can buy stronger plows from English firms...then selling guns so the traitors can put down armies of starving rebels who say their leadership is too complicit with foreign thieves, et cetera.)

Lenin argued that imperialism was the highest stage of capitalism, but he was wrong. Imperialism is perhaps the formative stage of capitalism, except in some idealized thought experiment about cavemen trading the wheel to each other in a pre-industrial theft-free utopia. This one isn't saying that such a utopia never existed, but it didn't exist in post-feudal Europe.

As far as this recent few thousand years of human history goes, whatever we've called "capitalism" can't exist without colonialism, and by the same token, whatever we've called "democracy" has never existed without colonialism either. Maybe in a hypothetical utopia these social arrangements (capitalism/democracy) are good, but they've only ever proven themselves brutal; worse, in fact, than rule under the occasional benevolent and/or lazy noble, who can make a personal decision to not have a war this generation, a feat which hegemonic democracy has yet been unable to duplicate.

Capitalism is Socialism

If State military or police forces are required to enforce ownership of private property, then there is no capitalism; the owners will be perpetually bonded to the State for the marketplace protections that only the State can provide. Just like paying protection money to the mob, that makes the War Finance State the true owner, regardless of whose name is on the sign--as many American homeowners have recently discovered. Ergo the State constantly levies taxes upon trade and upon the land itself, so that there isn't a single inch of the country upon which you can stand which is not either (1) owned outright by the State, or (2) leased temporarily to private "owners" for regular tax payments, with missed payments being cause for State seizure.

So arguably, barring any caveman utopias, the most capitalism the world has ever had is "regulated" capitalism, which is to say, indirect socialism. Yeah, the government doesn't "own" all the factories, but all the Kings and Lords and Presidents and Senators and their families and their friends and their sub-corps and the local offices are filled by the right people, who also own the stock in the factories, so really, the government does own everything. Walmart buys off city and county officials in order to get local tax bases to subsidize their land purchases and externalities, just as it buys off Dublin and other jurisdictions to avoid paying tax to the USG. And this isn't new, either; slave plantations, Indian massacres, Banana Republic wars, and the Nina, Pinta, and Santa Maria were all taxpayer-subsidized business ventures, their owners protected from liability while being simultaneously entitled to all the profits.

This is another piece of what this recent few thousand years of human history teaches us: successful capitalists never take any action until they've already been given several layers of protection by governments. Colonialism couldn't begin to replace feudalism until capitalists were assured that the government would send in the army to reinforce private expeditions to enslave Africans; until the government promised them that the families of poor lost sailors wouldn't be able to successfully sue them for ships sunk due to insane levels of negligence and carelessness. Like capitalists today, who demand tax privileges and military/police protection and tax-subsidized education and health care for their workers, early colonialists weren't willing to risk anything, which is why they were so successful. Those rugged, tough pirate heroes, much like Warren Buffett or Mitt Romney, would cry and leave the marketplace the instant their wrinkly white asses were required to go recapture Iraq to stabilize the energy flows that their estates depend on--or just prevented from depreciating buildings for massive "income losses" every year. Imagine the socialist bawling from the pages of Forbes if those worthless parasitic shits were forced to pound gravel or walk the enlisted route for as many years as it took to make their investments safe: "I don't wanna play capitalism anymore! Bwaaaaaaah!" (Go kill your own Blackfoot, Buffett. And suddenly, there was no more capitalism.)

Capitalism has always, and always will, require a State-created marketplace with protective rules, in order to consolidate wealth in the hands of the weakest, laziest, least capable people, who would be the fastest to lose it in a world without police and military protection. Ergo capitalism has to be socialism: private individuals can't gain exclusive control of the means of production without grants from a State, ergo capitalism can only exist simultaneously with disguised socialism.

The American Republicans are liars because they know full well that you only succeed at capitalism by owning the State, by the pleasure of which the "capitalist" does business, and the American Democrats are liars because they know full well that they only flirt with equality-related terms in order to make people think that "socialism" is about the welfare of everyone (or at least every acknowledged "citizen," as goes the callous mindset), rather than about the right people in the right positions deciding which markets to repress and which to open.

Who may enter and who may not enter the marketplace? What may be sold there? What kinds of transactions are crimes, and what kind are not crimes? Which crimes will be vigorously enforced, and which overlooked when committed by which participants? Who gets to assess transaction fees (taxes) to pay for the military and police protections required to maintain a non-chaotic marketplace, and who gets to control the outlay of the resulting massive super-surplus of resources? Which currencies may be used for transactions at which values, and for which currencies will use result in a quite serious armed response? These questions all have to be answered for capitalism to be anything but a lawless dystopia, and they are inevitably answered by a government, ergo capitalism is always socialism. You can register a deed in the name of "Bob Rich, citizen of the Capitalist Republic of..." or "The People's State of..." but the nomenclature is ridiculous and non-binding.

Our little names are cute, sort of like we're naming one of our stuffed animals "Frank" and the other "Harry." The real power, though, remains--as in the stuffed animal case--with the forces that empower the animals to walk and talk. It does help if we have names for things, but these particular terms beg too many prerequisites, and are too interlinked, to be reasonably assumed to be different things. "Volcano" and "duck" are clearly different concepts in the realms of both ideation and practical effect; "capitalism" and "socialism," though, produce the same practical effect, and are merely used to dress up how we "feel" about our playthings today.

The Failure of Marxism

Marxism fails not because ideas of everyone's welfare are wrong, or because capitalists are not driven to be evil bastards, but because the same forces governing the consolidation and abuse of private capital govern the consolidation and abuse of government capital. If you're not much into "Marxism," the problem with capitalism is that some capitalists inevitably gain so much power that the marketplace becomes no longer fair. Posit the existence of a "fair marketplace" of 1,000 individuals, in which everyone begins with the same amount of capital, and her or his own abilities, then pursues wealth. Even did such a situation occur, success would beget easier future successes, such that eventually, Individual 704 was able to succeed in his market transactions every time even though he no longer possessed a superior product or any skills to offer, the way he had at the beginning. The power and security of his earlier-acquired resources would make him a success no matter what. When the ability of market participants to process the other 999 participants' offerings became limited by time or space, even the savviest of the participants would find themselves relying on advertising, rather than knowledge, to make decisions. And people would get old, and heirs would inherit pre-existing money and power regardless of personal merit, and so on. All of the leeches we have now would turn up under Marx's assumed scenarios (ergo the need for jubilees or similarly stylized purges to make our best possible attempts at crafting actually-fair markets; more later).

Marx had a lot of cute things to say about how that would always happen, even though he was missing the point that capitalism was just a re-branding of feudalism, where make-believe "debts" and "currencies" would control behavior in a pyramidal society, instead of the "obligations" and "castes" that had done it when we had a different name for our playtime. There never was a "fair starting point," so capitalism could never prove Marx right; Marx was right, but there's no proof for it, because all the capitalisms he could ever speculate about had been unfair from the get-go. His critics are welcome to claim that, in some manner of "pure" capitalism, Marx's predictions wouldn't bear out. They'd be wrong, again, but there's no citing and proving it from this place.

In either way--by consolidating from a fair starting point, or by remaining consolidated because they were the pre-rich, inbred spawn of the feudal lords--capitalists become so powerful that they and their heirs can prevent future competition, change the rules of the marketplace in order to further consolidate power, and buy government and make it do their bidding. E.g., the ACA, in which the insurance sector rents the executive and legislative branches in order to achieve legislation forcing consumers to buy its product. Capitalism starts from and always results in imperialism, in search of new markets for the greedy pigs who can never have enough profit, and capitalism always results in socialism, because buying the government that regulates your markets and controls the military is the best investment for any capitalist.

In fact, looking closer, we come to see that the State itself is capitalism/socialism. "Markets" only exist because States provision them, and what makes them "markets" is the fact that they have some level of regulation, provided by States and favorable to capitalists. Russian State-owned department stores, and American privately-held department stores, have different levels of merchandise quality, but ultimately, the profits, employment, zoning, development, and everything else associated with the stores, are controlled by and flow to the same people: the plutocrats running the socio-capitalist State.

"Socialism" inevitably reveals itself to be capitalism, too, for much the same reason that capitalism becomes socialism: because both systems involve taking advantage of a large underclass, which neither controls the "private capital" nor "government relationships" necessary to leverage market forces in its favor. In order to deflect underclass anger, elites need to regularly switch back and forth between "socialist" arrangements and "capitalist" arrangements, much to the applause of their subjects, who are sure that this time around it will be an improvement. In either case, it is the same people running the companies or handing out the government grants, and in each case--invisible hand or guided hand--the rationalization is that some disembodied, abstract process will lead humanity to a brighter future. Marx blasted capitalists as accurately as my nephew blasted Mitt Romney, but overlooked socialists as completely as that same nephew thought Obama was a savior.

The easy counterargument here is, "Well, China and Russia, thinly-veiled capitalist gangsters, maybe--but oh, oh, Sweden!" And then we remember that the Western European socialist nations only exist because of longstanding tactical alliances with their brutish offspring America, which does all the dirty work enforcing State boundaries. So when Swiss firms launder money for Mexican drug billionaires, or Finn government officials quietly improve telecommunications quality in partnership with American firms--indirectly drawing upon the same sweatshops that Americans indirectly draw upon from puppet firms/regimes--the resulting clean streets are not a result of good behavior, but of subcontracting out all the filthy stuff. Western Europe is like the Steve Jobs of business: oh-so-cute with its nesting dolls and handmade chocolate, but with several million little brown corpses hidden under the floorboards.

Means of Production

The next level of the problem in this situation is "economics," or the idea that economies should exist, or serve some function. And yes, they should--they should be a great playplace once the basics are taken care of, just like you can play video games once you've done your homework and cleaned your room, or you can take a vacation every so often if you maintain a steady job and put something aside for your future. Economies are not the means of provisioning life, nor should they be. They are a means of provisioning national glory, consolidated prosperity, and fun competition, but they are something that shouldn't even be contemplated until the most important needs are met. Earth's great economic leap will be the relegation of economics to the realm of video games, and the ascendance of purpose, which is to say, enunciating and enforcing the goals of the species as something other than "the best will out in a realpolitik anarchy of competing states and ideologies." E.g., something like Every Child Fed, where we stop whispering lurid erotica to each other about the most efficient method to achieve who-knows-what, and instead talk about what our methods are supposed to get us to--and then realize that we should just be accomplishing the goal, rather than perfecting a pointless method.

The "means of production," then, are mere duckspeak. The means of production of what? Produce, but why? Yes, goals lead to uncomfortable philosophical and religious discussions, but those are things better hashed out now than later. Our many mental sicknesses have been repressed so long, kept alive but in veiled order behind the police forces of hundreds of nations--it's like a sick person's psyche, unaddressed and untreated, but allowed to live in Daddy's basement until he's forty, when Dad dies and the County mortician suddenly finds out there's a grown man living in the cellar, ranting about capital and government and whatnot.

Evolution

Our culprit, as often, is entwined with Market-Style Evolution--this vague idea that, if we simply try to get whatever we want, things will turn out for the best. By pursuing private wealth as individuals (capitalism), or pursuing private wealth as governments (socialism), we will achieve a great goal, even though we're not sure what that goal is. By pursuing private gain as individuals, we also feel that we'll "evolve" to be better and smarter, without having to think about what that evolution is (it's nothing; it's random; it's as pointless and isolationist as Rand's unending twilight sleep) or where it leads us. It simply "happens," we think, because the invisible hand of the marketplace or the completely fair and accessible voting booth improves those who improve themselves. Still with no goals; with a blurry future of endless struggle, mass extinction, and a determined unwillingness to examine oneself.

What do you want? An idealized capitalist marketplace where you and everyone else can buy and sell and earn whatever you deserve? What for? Why not just talk about that "what," then?

What do you want? An idealized socialist marketplace where fair, well-regulated trading occurs against a backdrop of basic social services? What for? Why not just talk about that "what," then?

What is the goal of any of these methods? Freedom--for what? The pursuit, only, of happiness? What happiness, and why? How to get it for all people? Or only for some? What will they do when their needs are met? Why should they be met? Is there (gasp!) a fundamental meaning to being this type of conscious that should propel us toward anything--or are we just atomized units of reproduction trying to maximize transient positive sensations before death? It's so cute, watching you all argue about various indirect methods of hypothetically achieving you're-not-sure-what for you're-not-sure-why.

"Oh, if we all have freedom to be the best we can, then those of us who deserve it will get more transient positive sensations before the end." "No, no, don't you see? If we all just work together and be a little nicer, we'll all get more transient positive sensations before the end."

What a terrible argument. No wonder you're apparently losing to the guys who actually pursue nothingness. Evil is up first thing in the morning designing terminator seeds and leaking depleted uranium, while you've actually been convinced that one of the various methods of directionless, temporary, pleasure-enhancement-for-all is better than another.

This one wants to tell what comes next. Cultivation. Light. Infinite expansion. Endless discovery. Worlds with meaning. Memories of a nightmare of purposeless bouncing turned into a forgettable jest that everyone understands all too well.

~Lightspring embrace

16 comments:

  1. What is 'lightspring'?

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    1. From here, a component of a make-believe pseudo-religion this one uses to justify pretty much anything.

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  2. Aren't most religions, or at least all mystics, saying essentially the same thing?

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    1. That's a popular theory, but if you spend much time around self-identified mystics or religious types, no.

      Most people nowadays, who go to church or "feel spiritual," don't particularly believe in anything, even in the sense of having their conscience influenced by it. I mean, "Thou shalt not kill," right? In that sense, yes, everyone is saying the same thing, namely, "Feel a vague sense of community while otherwise functioning as a neoliberal cog."

      The comparatively few people who actually do believe things are extremely at odds. There are the "white (Aryan) purity" mystics; the "healing herbal tea" mystics; the "I am the reincarnation of Christ" mystics; the "humans are the encapsulated spirits of the fallen angels" mystics--and they seriously, completely disagree. Most of them aren't even very nice about said disagreement.

      Of course, you can limit your application of the term "mystic" to the new-age-popularized "people who speak indirectly about interconnectedness," and there's a lot of overlap, there. Unfortunately, much of that river is now tainted by avarice--"visualize your way to a bigger salary" or "...to a slimmer waistline." And it's done by so many westerners who, as they do it, hold themselves blameless for tacit participation in consumer culture and mass murder. Which connection seems to have a foundational flaw.

      What, more specifically, did you mean by that? Which mystics? What are they saying?

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  3. So, ... basically this:
    http://punk-fuck.tumblr.com/post/88680627374

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    1. Absolutely not, because people are forgetting that Hitler held lots of celebrations, too. In fact, with the honest "State reverence" found under fascism, there's a likelihood of more celebrations, rather than fewer.

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    2. (But to be fair, the cartoon makes a point that many drones need to hear, namely, that ticker-tape parades shouldn't make up for crushing overclass burdens.)

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  4. I meant real mystics - few, but existing spiritual leaders and ordinary people, some of whom, in many different times and places have bee achieve the vague and unteachable state of "enlightenment", and all their attempts to relay what it is are remarkably similar - "like a pail that breaks", "unity with god".

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    1. Yeah, when you go there, we agree. Magic mushroom test subjects, people who wake up from near-deaths, and some overactive dreamers tend to echo that kind of mystic, too.

      The five-sense counterargument is, of course, "pleasant delusion." But then, five-sense realists can't address whether five-sense reality is itself nothing but an illusion, except when they're lecturing everyone about how definitively stupid and impossible extra senses are.

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  5. You see, at some point in history, men came to the conclusion that producing stuff was no good, unless you could also protect that stuff you created from barbaric looters.

    This is where you're theory breaks down. You assume that wealth flows from power, because power is what you crave. But to the men who create wealth, power is simply a means to justifiably protect what they've created. Power for them is not about taking, it is about stopping others from taking.

    Government isn't simply "just another mob", true Government is the logical response to a world ruled by mobs. It is moral people organizing to protect themselves from immoral people.

    For those who produce, there is simply nothing to be gained by stealing from those who can't produce.

    -Hendrick

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    1. Thank you, Hendrick; that was quite more pleasant than expected.

      1) What differentiates producers from barbaric looters? We probably share the same fundamental answer to that question. The problem vis-à-vis "capitalism," though, is that the people we have ever called "capitalists" have been barbaric looters.

      We can start relatively near the present, for example, with Dick Cheney, who invaded several countries and gained access to the oil and/or pipeline real estate in those countries. Or Donald Trump, who invaded several companies and sold off parts of them. Or Christopher Columbus, who invaded several countries and gained access to resources there, via barbaric looting--say, the rape and murder of innocents and the destruction by fire and sword of entire communities.

      Now, barbaric looters always have an excuse for murdering and destroying, be it Christianity or self defense. But what about Obama? He's worth over $11 million, and all he's ever done is talk and/or lie.

      The world over, with the exception of the lucky inventor who isn't subject to a salaried licensing agreement with his employer, real "producers" never make very much. Producers invent things, build things, fix things, and earn far, far less than the men who inherited stock positions in the companies that control the producers' farms, factories, or what-have-you. Throughout written human history, wealth has been created primarily by barbaric looting. If you're an American, for example, it's rather rich to say that anything built there was not built via legitimizing theft from butchered communities.

      If China and Russia invaded America next year, and in 2065, wealthy Chinese were working your grandchildren to the bone and collecting the profits, would you consider those Chinese businessmen producers? Or thieves?

      What makes the American rich different than those hypothetical Chinese?

      What if those hypothetical Chinese also extended voting rights to the dislocated children of the survivors of the Sino-American War? Does that make them legitimate producers, rather than barbaric looters?

      What if, as now, the poor conquered Americans perform all the exertion of mind and body, and the Chinese rich merely collect dividends and give speeches about what a wonderful, prosperous nation Sinoica is because of their leadership?

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  6. 2) You've missed the point about power and protection, and in so doing, validated my initial comparison of socialism to capitalism. Because power is required to protect the consolidated wealth of the people you call "producers," the wealth only exists because of that power. It can't exist without it. Ergo government must sanction the rules that permit the establishment of wealth, which is why "capitalism" and "free markets" are fairy tales.

    Even if you feel that people who sit in boardrooms are more valuable than people who fix the robots that attach components to car engines--even if you feel they're actually doing meaningful work by "administering" those distant factories--you are still bound by the almost identical natures of socialism and capitalism, because you've admitted that governmental power is necessary to protect supposed "free market wealth." That's socialism--an economic system where everyone is beholden to Nanny Government for the safety she offers.

    3) "For those who produce, there is simply nothing to be gained by stealing from those who can't produce."

    What about natural resources? Say, gold? Coal? Slave labor? You may feel that it is morally right to kill or capture lesser peoples and take their things, but whether morally right or wrong, it is definitely profitable. Those who produce "managerial skill" would be useless without a lot more people performing the physical tasks to carry out their commands, and for hundreds of years, those physical tasks have been mostly worthless without first conquering oil or wood or slaves or rubber or tin to physically shape into salable product.

    (Head to the Tower of London sometime, and check out the collection of crown jewels, then follow the tour guide a few floors below to peruse the torture chambers.)

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  7. Your assertions that "All Capitalists are Crony Capitalists", and "Everybody works for Rich People", and also "Nobody ever gets Rich by Producing Something" doesn't line up with my life experiences. You'd probably have better luck preaching to someone who's only life goal was to work for someone else/make someone else rich. That's just not me.

    -Hendrick

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    1. That's supposed as funny, eh? I'm over here. Now I'm over there. Soon I'll be in another place. Stop talking about the place!

      You know which of Hendrick's assertions don't ring true? All of them! They're all offered as moving picks, and I don't know a single team sport where moving picks are allowed -- and for good reason. I doubt Hendrick's much of an athlete, so he probably doesn't understand picks or why they must be static rather than mobile, but he's being an excellent moving pick here. The big Q is, for whom or what is he creating that moving obstacle-in-play?

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    2. Hendrick, some people do get rich by producing things; you'll notice I mentioned that. However, those people are extremely rare. Most producers--most people who actually do work thinking up things or building them with their own bodies--are low-paid employees.

      Who do you think of as a successful producer? Bill Gates? Charles Darrow? Michael Dell?

      In each case, these were individuals who simply took someone else's idea, and used existing money and business connections to gain control over the sale of that idea. Darrow at least did some manual labor on his boards, whereas Gates and Dell were nothing but distant owners, buying the produce of others' labor, repackaging it, and selling it under their own brand. Do you consider that an act of "production"?

      If, for example, I took different pieces of Captain Capitalism's blog, cut and pasted them in a new order into a MS Word file, published them as my book, and made millions? Would I be a "producer"?

      Of course not. I would be a thief; a plagiarist; a parasite. My rearrangement of existing produce, or my willingness to pretend it was my own work and sell it, does not make me a producer of worthwhile materials. It makes me, merely, a capitalist--someone who uses capital to buy and resell at a private profit, without producing anything worthwhile to the human race.

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  8. Wow, I'm pretty sure Hendricks gets paid for this nonsense. At least I hope so, otherwise it has to be masochism.

    Anyhow, for most of human history people have produced what they need mainly.... because they needed it, duh.


    Yes, things get slightly different with extravagant civilizations that produce far above the necessities. This is the type of production necessarily based on coercion and exploitation.

    Acknowledging this does not call for returning to primitive tribal forms. It simply means that the exploited must eventually gain direct control over the decisions how mug surplus and for what purpose is produced.


    And that that inventors would not invent unless promised the world is similarly ridiculous - just ask the Russian scientists who beat you to space - twice - while earning no more than twice the salary of a regular factory worker.

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