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#14879604
SolarCross wrote:Regarding the black death, I can see how it would result in crashing rents because while the supply remained the same the demand would have fallen but I don't see how it would cause soaring wages. The black death didn't just kill producers it killed consumers too, consequently demand should have fallen proportionately with supply. No?

Correct. Demand fell as much as supply. But market wages are not determined by the demand for the products of labor or even its productivity. The Law of Rent sets wages, and it says that they are determined exclusively by the productivity of labor on marginal land. So when population is deleted, the worst land falls out of use, meaning that better land, where labor produces more, is now the margin. The landowner can't take more than the difference between production on his land and marginal land, so when the margin moves in that difference is reduced, and more of the product is left in labor's hands as wages.
#14879607
Crantag wrote:I stopped reading here.

I.e., you stuck your fingers in your ears and chanted, "Lalalala I can't hear you."
I explained in detail the basis of my comments.

And I demolished them in detail.
If you want to be really precise here, every damn thing is fixed.

No, it is not. Such claims are false and absurd -- but expected from anyone with a graduate degree in economics.
Sun rays are fucking fixed.

In the relevant sense, yes, they are: the quantity available is not affected by price.
I explained my basis, all you have is insults.

No, I demolished and refuted your claims with indisputable facts of objective physical reality. And if you think I insult you, it is only because what people have to do to rationalize and justify evil is inherently reprehensible.
PS, you know nothing about my educational background, other than that it is much more advanced than your own.

Wrong. I know that it somehow took a child who could know self-evident and indisputable facts of objective physical reality and turned him into an adult who could not. I wouldn't call that advanced, and I think this thread has proved your "advanced" education's inadequacy to the task of engaging me in reasoned debate.
#14879614
The solar rays example is called an extreme case that illustrates the principle. Supply is regardless still effected by utilization capacity.

In solaI suply greatly exceeds demand. With land demand exceeds supply. Same as college education. Land is not antithetical to solar here, however, with respect to relative ratio of S to D.

Ignorance, though, is bliss.
#14879628
I think I've asked you this before Potemkin, but have you read Jean Baudrillaud?

Yes, of course. I agree with his fundamental idea - that we live in an age of the 'hyper-real'. Our lives have become a spectacle - not something to be experienced, but something to be witnessed. After all, the whole purpose of 9/11 was to be a spectacle. I believe Stockhausen called it "the Devil's greatest work of art". We can even go further back - weren't the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki intended to be spectacles, to demonstrate America's new might?

And I never looked back, with short intellectual trips to examine the breakup of Yugoslvia and the orchestrated collapse of the Soviet Union along the way. The National Security State controls far more than people realize, I call it the Military-Industrial-Entertainment-Intelligence Complex. Universal Fascism.

Indeed. The Nazis were possibly the first to understand the importance of spectacle in modern politics....
#14879776
Consumerism and the New Capitalism
Essay by R.Cronk


The traditional cultural values of Western society are degenerating under the influences of corporate politics, the commercialization of culture and the impact of mass media. Society is awakening from its fascination with television entertainment to find itself stripped of tradition, controlled by an oppressive power structure and bound to the credit obligations of a defunct American dream.

For the public at large, the integrating and transformative experiences of culture have been replaced by the collective viewing experience and by participation in consumer trends. The American public has been inundated by an unending parade of commodities and fabricated television spectacles that keeps it preoccupied with the ideals and values of consumerism.

Consumerism is the myth that the individual will be gratified and integrated by consuming. The public fetishistically substitutes consumer ideals for the lost acculturating experiences of art, religion and family. The consumer sublimates the desire for cultural fulfillment to the rewards of buying and owning commodities, and substitutes media-manipulated undulations in the public persona for spiritual rebirth. In the myth of consumerism, there is no rebirth or renewal. And there are no iconic symbols to evoke transcendent truths.

While consumerism offers the tangible goal of owning a product, it lacks the fulfillment of other cultural mythologies. Consumerism offers only short term ego-gratification for those who can afford the luxury and frustration for those who cannot. It exists as an incomplete and inadequately engineered system of values substituted for a waning cultural heritage.

The egocentricity of Western society made it an easy target for the transition to a consumer society. As deceptive advertising and academic nihilism gutted culture of its subjectively realized values, the public was easily swayed onto the path of consumerism. In the midst of a major identity crisis, will America realize the lack of morality and humanitarianism in a world based on media image and the transient satisfaction of ownership rather than the ontological value of the meaningful cultural experience? The reduction of cultural values to economic worth has produced a situation in our 'enlightened' society where product availability, as opposed to survival needs, becomes ethical justification for political oppression.

The hallowed dollar is a cheap substitute for cultural values lost to greed and ambivalence in post-modern America. Economic worth has displaced traditional cultural values defining self-worth. Self-worth is gauged by buying power. The acts of buying and owning reinforce self-worth within consumer society. You can see it in the haughty and demanding attitude of the consumer as he stands before the cashier. No longer does the purchase have to be justified by purpose.

Mass media perpetuates the myth of consumerism as a priority of the New Capitalism. As America settles into its nightly routine of television viewing, corporate profiteers are quick to substitute the lure of material luxury and consumer gratification for the fading spirit. Media advertising sells an image -- an empty shell. Corporate America placates its flaccid public with despiriting pastiche. There is only fraudulent illusion. Instead of Swiss clockworks encased in hand carved hardwood, the consumer is offered a cheap imitation of routed particle board and computer chip technology. Who cares as long as it looks good?

In its duplicitous plot to throttle the public, corporate policy assumes only the self-interested exploitation of the consumer market and environmental resources. Corporate priorities and the business ethic are not intrinsically humanitarian or ecologically sensitive. Within the corporate hierarchy the salaried employee does not have the incentives of the entrepreneurial capitalist. The humanitarian ethic associated with small business (the obligation of the proprietor to his customers) is lost. The consumer is no longer courted by the competition of small businesses. The small business has been crowded out by the corporate capitalist to insure less competition and greater profit.

Big business is too often the enemy of the people. Behind the butchery of symbolic values by media advertising, the mercantile machine smiles as it folds the green. More than to simply insure a profit, consumerism is the means by which the New Capitalism maintains control of its buying public.

Consumers are only beginning to realize the political power they wield as a collective buying force. This potential has been tested on a small scale by union pickets and grassroots economic boycotts. It is my expectation that in the future, as the public tires of the shallow gratifications and empty promises of consumerism, it will turn to large scale boycotts to control the abusive tactics of corporate policy.

In corporate (monopolistic) capitalism the consumer is a target -- he is acted upon. Controlling interests commodify culture and sell it to a public weaned on media advertising. Selection is reduced, not to what the public wants, but to what it will accept at a greater profit for the stockholder. This includes the availability and variety of commodities as well as their quality. Our choices and freedoms are limited by corporate policy.

As we become acclimated to life around the television set, collectively striving for a media-produced image, our choices are made for us. Choice is reduced to brand name. We sacrifice self-knowledge for consumerism. Consumerism, like communism and fascism, is a secular religion restricting freedom of choice.

Beneath its smug persona lies an insecure America striving to fill an image projected in media advertising. Self-awareness and self-worth have been distorted. We are what we wear. In the New Capitalism's seduction of the television audience, the individuating personality identifies with advertising fantasies and consumer ideals. Who we are merges with roles and images portrayed in the media. Ever so subtly we are losing our ability to act independently of the justifications of consumerism. This constitutes a qualitative loss to the individuation process. The affront on human values by mass media advertising has left a well actualized consumer but a poorly individuated personality.

Something in the essence of perceived reality has been lost to the despiritualization and commercialization of culture. Perception has lost its richness. Extensive exposure to duplicity in media advertising has weakened the grasp of consciousness on subjective knowledge of being (or any meaningful sense of truth). While capitalism has been linked to the origin of consciousness, consumerism and advertising deceit have become potential threats to consciousness.

When the Beatles' anthems of the 1960's started showing up as background music in Nike shoe commercials they lost their value as symbols for the ideological struggles of the era. While the product may have been temporarily graced with the aura of these famous recordings, the songs were drained of their transcendent value in the process. The references to running shoes and advertising overshadow the associations with the cultural flourish of the 1960's.

The affectiveness of the sociocultural symbol diminishes as its exploitation in the media siphons ineffable content to attract the consumer. As its power is depleted by the parasitic deconstruction of the commercial production, the symbol's tentative bond with being is broken. Advertising deceit defiles and defuses the symbol, and corrupts the illusion of a timeless ideal. By associating the symbol with a product rather than letting it exist as the signifier of its framing experiences, advertising robs the symbol of its meaning and sense of truth. The commercial exploitation of culture is widening the rift between ideal and being, between word and truth.

As advertising duplicity invades the ideal realm and appropriates subjective value for product enhancement, the established conventions of language, art and cultural traditions lose their ability to inspire metaphysical truth. This debilitation of the symbol has played a significant role in undermining the ontological ground of Western culture. With the defamation of the sociocultural (aesthetic, psychoanalytic) symbol, the substantiating experiences of culture recede into the shadow.



Copyright © R. Cronk 1996 - All Rights Reserved
#14879917
Crantag wrote:Solar is finite, because the sun is going to burn out in a couple billion years.
Dead breaths I living breathe, tread dead dust, yet we never run out of things to say, and there's always something to see. So you see now, it's not the measurement of each movement, but the measure of ones move, that truly counts. We live for the infinite permutation. Solar may be finite, but solar rays move in mysterious ways.

If one had the massive amounts of data and computer capacity to do so, they could present a future valuation of all
Economic Laplace's demon? What a miserable world, a world where intellectual abstractions determine the value of all things in a living system. Tell me, can economics present a future valuation of our human imagination?

I don't have experience with cryptocurrency
It's the future. You'll become an energy node in an economic 'schematic.' Will it be centralized, decentralized?

Potemkin wrote:I hate to be the one to break this to you, Reichstraten, but that is capitalism.
Actually, indoctrination is part of the human experience. Capitalism is an extension of the human mind. Any 'ism' will involve indoctrination, Reichstraten. Potemkin is coo-coo for commie puffs, he's invested in a myth, thus he's unable to be an objective thinker. Communism and Capitalism involve indoctrination.

Culture is spectacle.
Potemkin wrote:Yes, of course. I agree with his fundamental idea - that we live in an age of the 'hyper-real'. Our lives have become a spectacle - not something to be experienced, but something to be witnessed. After all, the whole purpose of 9/11 was to be a spectacle. I believe Stockhausen called it "the Devil's greatest work of art". We can even go further back - weren't the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki intended to be spectacles, to demonstrate America's new might?
Humans are image-makers and toolmakers. All myths are hyper-real stories. All tools are communication artifacts ("speak softly, and carry a big stick." a big stick is a loud communication tool). After the Greeks abstracted nature from the totality of 'Being,' humans began to play as 'figures' separate from the ground (nature). Language and especially the written word, is a repackaged piece of nature, a kind of human art-form destined to reshape nature in our image. Civilization is a matter of 'mind over matter,' civilized awareness constitutes an environment with its own ground-rules and modes of perception. Lastly, weapons are instinctive extensions of the human mind and the figure/ground dialectic. If the ground is hostile, the figure will react accordingly (and vice versa).

Media: synthesis of technology and capital, grant us the ability to broadcast and 'channel' our human images across the planet. It shouldn't surprise you that the 1945 proposal for Geostationary Satellite Communications came from the mind of a science-fiction writer... Science-fiction writers are fantastic myth-makers.

When Sputnik went around the planet in 1957 the earth became enclosed in a man-made environment and became thereby an "art" form. The globe became a theatre enclosed in a proscenium arch of satellites. From that time the "audience" or the population of the planet became actors in a new sort of theatre.... Since Sputnik the entire world has become a single sound-light show. Even the business world has now taken over the concept of "performance" as a salient criterion.

For the first time the natural world was completely enclosed in a man-made container. At the moment that the earth went inside this new artifact, Nature ended and Ecology was born. "Ecological" thinking became inevitable as soon as the planet moved up into the status of a work of art.

'Ecology is the simultaneous awareness of the interplay of the total field of processes.'


Noösphere forecast: Spectacles become thought organisms that live inside a human mental process.



Indeed. The Nazis were possibly the first to understand the importance of spectacle in modern politics....
Not true, the Nazis exploited new communications technology by using old political techniques. Historically, many regimes understood the importance of exoteric spectacle. State-craft is role-playing, role playing is theatre, theatre is spectacle. Politics is an ongoing masquerade (art of the put-on), hence uniforms, insignias, tribal allegiance, etc. Hitler wore the German public as his mask. The interplay that follows is merely incidental, a side-effect felt through sensory consent (after-all consent or consentire literally means 'to feel together.') We empower spectacles through attention (tuned in like antennas picking up signals/transmissions).
Last edited by RhetoricThug on 16 Jan 2018 20:38, edited 1 time in total.
#14879928
Crantag wrote:Solar is finite, because the sun is going to burn out in a couple billion years.

It is more than finite, it is FIXED, because its supply is not affected by price.
In economics, all things are scarce.

False. Things are only scarce if more than one person can't get all they want for free. Sea water, atmospheric air, beach sand, etc. are not scarce.
Even sunlight is scarce.

Nope. Land from which to intercept it is.
It is false that land is fixed, under conventional economic consideration.

You will never understand any economics until you abandon that falsehood. The supply of land is fixed because the amount available -- in existence -- does not depend on price.
I am suspecting this line of reasoning is owing to the abdication of a systematic consideration of labor, which Marx proved is the real basis of value under capitalist modes of production.

No, Jevons proved Marx and the classical Labor Theory of Value were wrong. The only real basis of value is the combination of utility (demand) and scarcity (lack of supply).
Marx also already defeated many of the simplistic arguments which still circulate through his work.

But Jevons demolished the whole basis of his analysis, and Henry George burned the wreckage.
However, his work was incomplete, and subsequent Marxist have been left to attempt to piece it together, and this task is the basis of a sprawling academic field in its own right.

Trying to rescue Marx's absurd garbage from the facts of objective physical reality is a fool's game. Which might be why so many socialists are engaged in it.
Yet, you can look to mainstream economics to find what are likely relevant critiques of the 'land value' current, with respect to the rise and fall of Ricardian economic theory.

?? Huh?? Are you serious? The mainstream economics that FAILED UTTERLY to foresee the GFC, and has since FAILED UTTERLY to formulate a constructive response to it? When it was mostly the tiny number of geoist economists who DID pay attention to land value who predicted the GFC, sometimes with uncanny accuracy?

Give your head a shake. Seriously. It's time.
I am beginning to be suspicious as to whether the crafters of the horrible property tax laws in Oregon, which effectively create a condition where it's a pipe dream for any workers to own land (with attendant disastrous economic effects), were fucking Geoists.

You know that has to be the diametric opposite of the truth. The greater the subsidy to the landowner, the more unaffordable the ticket on the landowners' escalator.
#14879932
Millennials are killing capitalism – and that's a good thing
By consuming experiences, not stuff, young people are challenging the doctrine of spending-led growth

Fewer than a third of millennials own their own home compared to more than half of Generation X at the same age. Very few young people are saving enough for their retirement. Perhaps because these great personal financial goals are increasingly out of reach, more young people than previous generations say they save not to accumulate but "to live my desired lifestyle". In 2018, this aspiration will challenge the materialism of their elders.

The evidence is mounting. Millennials already tend to rate work-life balance over pay. Across the UK, the number of people wanting to work fewer hours now exceeds those who want more. It's a world where our needs to socialise, communicate, be entertained and organised are all contained in a single smart device. When growing your own, sharing, making do and even mending are all the rage, spare money is for experiences, not stuff (which you have nowhere to store anyway).

Materialism has always had its critics, and their voices have been getting louder. Added to the ethical case against greed is the fact that the planet can't cope with everyone consuming more goods indefinitely, as well as the psychological and political critique that acquisitiveness messes up society and our heads. From Fred Hirsch's seminal Social Limits to Growth in 1976 and Oliver James's Affluenza in 2007 to James Wallman's Stuffocation in 2013, many writers have railed against the impact of possessive individualism.

Perhaps Tim Jackson, author of Prosperity Without Growth, summed up consumerism most pithily as the process by which "we are persuaded to spend money we don't have on things we don't need to create impressions that won't last on people we don't care about".

Yet these voices have done little to dent the economic consensus for spending-led growth and, until recently, even less to change the way we live. Those in the mainstream argue societies cannot survive without economic growth, and growth only comes from rising demand. That attitude will increasingly feel misguided.

The reality is that we're already surviving if not without growth then with a great deal less. The promise of consumer capitalism, that most of us would get better off year-on-year, has been broken for well over a decade.

Isn't this broken promise of rising living standards precisely what is driving the rise of Donald Trump, the victory of Brexit and the popularity of Jeremy Corbyn? Perhaps, but what happens when the populists also fail to deliver? Human beings adapt to reality. We may rise up but equally we may, as the very British slogan has it, "Keep calm and carry on."

The most difficult challenge for the late-materialist era - one which we've hardly even begun to face - is getting the politics, policy and economics right. We need politicians to tell us the truth, shape our expectations and give us hope. We need new forms of living, working, travelling and eating.

Late-materialist societies won't generate enough tax revenue for paternalistic national public services so we need social innovation to help communities do more themselves. Technology too is vital. It can liberate us from drudgery, transform human productivity and free us to be creative, or it can ensnare us in new addictions, intrusions and widening inequality.

We could be entering an era of unprecedented human flourishing. Unlike money, possessions or power, I can have more love, friendship, caring and fun without you having less. Beyond populism, young people need a cause that is both realistic and visionary. And 2018 will be the year we understand the huge benefits of late materialism.
http://www.wired.co.uk/article/millenni ... ce-economy
#14912419
Karl Marx 200th anniversary: The world is finally ready for Marxism as capitalism reaches the tipping point
The philosopher predicted that centralisation would lead to revolution and give birth to a post-capitalist society – globalisation has led us to that point

Two hundred years ago on 5 May 1818, Karl Marx was born in the German town of Trier on the banks of the river Moselle. Serendipitously, at the start of this bicentennial year, I found myself invited to a wedding in what used to be called Karl-Marx-Stadt, since renamed Chemnitz, in the former East Germany. Communism may have formally collapsed with the downfall of the Soviet Union, yet it has not been extinguished.

The world’s most populous state and rising superpower, China, is officially communist, albeit nominally. And socialist ideas remain prevalent throughout the world. The resurgence of socialism could be seen in the Chavismo new left wave of Latin American politics (admittedly now in the process of being rolled back). In the US, self-proclaimed socialist senator Bernie Sanders could well have been as unlikely an occupant of the Oval office as Donald Trump – if the Democratic National Committee had not conspired against him.

In the UK, unapologetic socialist Jeremy Corbyn swept to the leadership of Her Majesty’s opposition, appointed Trotskyist John McDonnell as shadow chancellor (McDonnell recently told the Financial Times that their aims for Britain are socialist), pronounced socialism as no longer a dirty word to a delirious conference, before garnering 40 per cent of the vote in the general election. In France, Jean Luc Mélenchon performed respectably in the first round of the French elections, commanding nearly 20 per cent of the vote. In Greece, the left-wing Syriza government remains in power – even though its manifesto has been crushed by international finance capital. Its former finance minister and firebrand Yanis Varoufakis describes himself as a lapsed Marxist. His recent essay penned in The Guardian cites Marx’s analysis as both the key to understanding our present predicament and the way out of it.

Millennial capitalism
In 2015, socialism was the most searched word on Merriam Webster’s online dictionary. Socialism does not carry historical baggage for a younger generation left behind by the iniquities of capitalism. A Harvard study found that a majority of millennials reject capitalism and a third are in favour of socialism. This is what might be called the revenge of Marx; the rehabilitation of one of the world’s historical philosophers. Marx inverted Hegelian doctrine into dialectical materialism, affirming that it was material relations that were responsible for consciousness and social relations  –  not the other way round. In 2011, back when it was still unfashionable to confess to being Marxist, Oxford University literary theorist Professor Terry Eagleton boldly decreed that the bearded prophet had been right after all. Eagleton is no longer alone.

A slew of books herald the end of capitalism, in the words of economic sociologist Wolfgang Streeck, and announce that we are entering the epoch of Postcapitalism, according to the gospel of journalist and author Paul Mason. The most dangerous philosopher in the West, Slavoj Zizek,  according to The New Republic magazine ,  is communist; one of his recent tomes, Living in the End Times, conjures up the apocalyptic sense of the death throes of capitalism.

Of course, it wasn’t meant to be like this. Marx’s ideas had apparently been discredited with the collapse of communism and consigned to Trotsky’s dustbin of history. Hadn’t history proven that communism was not a historical inevitability? Then came the 2008 financial crash and the demise of political economist Francis Fukuyama’s ‘end of history’. A decade of austerity was the death knell for the ideological vacuum. The fall-out has seen a polarisation between authoritarian nationalism and progressivism; between dystopia and NOT dystopia, if you like.

Neoliberalism​ always presented itself as depoliticised, in that the free market is akin to an all-enveloping atmosphere and as irresistible as a force of nature. Its allocation of resources and outcomes supposedly only required mere supervision through technocratic managerialism. In reality, it could not have been more ideological, operating through the corporate capture of the state and hollowing out of the institutions of civic society. Global capitalism appeared to be indomitable and impregnable, in so far as it was the hegemonic system. Yet at the same time, the delayed reaction of a series of political earthquakes, in the form of the Arab Spring and a wave of authoritarian populism, has exposed its vulnerabilities. Even if these events have not challenged the fundamental basis of the system, its neoliberal globalisation variant is under attack.

Mao Zedong’s description of capitalism as a paper tiger seems as pertinent as ever. Marxism bequeathed a rich legacy of thinkers, ranging from Lenin and Trotsky to the Frankfurt school, as well as the likes of Antonio Gramsci, Fredric Jameson and Alain Badiou. It was once unthinkable to break with Marxist orthodoxy on the left. Until, as American Marxist Marshall Berman relates in his modern classic All that is Solid Melts into Air (taking its cue from the famous phrase in the Communist Manifesto), a group of disaffected French post-structuralists and postmodernists, namely Michel Foucault, Jacques Derrida and Roland Barthes, did just that. Disillusioned by the defeat of May 1968, when an uprising against De Gaulle resulted in his party emerging even stronger than before, they broke ranks.

The ruling class
Marx was familiar with the methods of the ruling class. He was often on the run from European authorities, eventually finding refuge in the relative tolerance of London where he divided up his time between his smoke-filled home (Soho then later Kentish town), the British Library and watering holes. His rebellious life  –  immersed in the struggles of the 19th century, from the 1848 revolutions to the Paris commune  –  lent itself, naturally, to the counterculture of the late 20th century. And now to the glamour of the big screen. A new Marx biopic – The Young Karl Marx  from I Am Not Your Negro director Raoul Peck  –  has been released. Marx’s starting point, outlined in his 1844 letter For A Ruthless Criticism of Everything Existing to fellow philosopher Arnold Ruge, is a philosophical tabula rasa comparable to a Cartesian wiping of the slate clean. This position of ‘Kritik’, adopted by the young Hegelians, gradually evolved into praxis for Marx. Hence, in Theses on Feuerbach (1888), Marx states “the philosophers have only interpreted the world, in various ways; the point, however, is to change it”.

The Communist Manifesto itself was not merely a political and economic tract. It is a call to arms, as well as a work of canonical sublimity and literary fecundity; by turns poetic, inspired and visionary. Author and journalist Francis Wheen’s biography describes the Damascene moment at which Marx anoints the word ‘proletariat’. It descends on to the page like a thunderclap across the landscape, presaging the revolutions to come of the 20th century. In the wide-ranging debate Die Judenfrage, or The Jewish Question, Marx posits that the liberal definition of freedom is limited. The motto of ‘Liberté, Egalité, Fratérnité’ of the French revolution is just that  –  a good slogan. To take one example, equality does not relate to power or wealth but merely denotes equality before the law.

Marx formulates that consciousness is generated by the mode of production, in a classic inversion of the Hegelian system. He defined alienation as the quintessential state of mind and being under capitalism, corresponding to the economic relations of commodification, exploitation and oppression. It is a state of mind that is little understood by the billions who experience it daily. Thus, bourgeois society is predicated on economic individualism, private ownership and self-interest. The relations between individuals, including intimate relations, are thus egoistical. Pure self-interest becomes the prime driver of not just economic processes but all relations. Under capitalism, every entity, no matter how sacred, can be transformed, exploited and sold for profit. This is what Marx meant by the intrinsic process of commodification. And it is this limitless commodification which extends into every sphere, including sex, the body and relationships.

Online pornography, social media and dating apps are merely the latest extrapolations of this relentless commodification. Furthermore, social roles and relations are engendered by historical modes of production. Thus, the agrarian, feudal world corresponds to the social strata of monarchy; aristocracy and the church dominating and exploiting the peasantry. Similarly, the industrial, urbanised world corresponds to the social structure of the bourgeoisie exploiting the proletariat. In a memorably thunderous passage in The Communist Manifesto, Marx extrapolates this connection between social and economic relations to define free trade: “It has resolved personal worth into exchange value, and in place of the numberless indefeasible chartered freedoms, has set up that single, unconscionable freedom  –  Free Trade. In one word, for exploitation, veiled by religious and political illusions, it has substituted naked, shameless, direct, brutal exploitation.”

Marx outlined the history of mankind as the history of class struggle in which the classes are opposed in a dialectical paradigm. Thus, we move from antiquity with the duality of slave owner and slaves to the feudal age of lord and serf to the capitalist age of the bourgeoisie and the proletariat. It is these same unsustainable contradictions that Marx later proposes will bury capitalism, when the burgeoning proletariat become the ‘gravediggers’ of the bourgeoisie. This ‘final’ stage will usher in communism, completely transforming and reconfiguring the previous relations into a classless society. Marx outlines that communism, in abolishing private property, also abolishes alienation and wage bondage, leading to worker emancipation and, by extension, universal emancipation. Nevertheless, Marx subscribes to the enlightenment belief in the rationality and logic of mankind to create a narrative of progress. The bourgeois capitalist system is perceived as a necessary step in this progression, enabling the transition from a feudal, agrarian society into an urban, industrialised one. Thus, the bourgeoisie is portrayed as having played a revolutionary role in transforming the world. In its propensity for upheaval and turmoil, capitalism never ceases to alter the world.

The dialectical materialist analysis of the history of class struggle played out in the contradictions of Marx’s own life. Whether in his marriage to the aristocratic Jenny Von Westphalen, or his friendship with industrialist Friedrich Engels, which enabled the genius of Marx and offset the penury of his journalism and political activities. Some of the most switched-on uber capitalists and masters of the universe concede that Marx’s basic analysis of capitalism has never been improved upon. Trump billionaire backer and donor Peter Thiel states that the breakdown of the status quo points either towards libertarianism or Marxism. Billionaire investor Warren Buffett infamously once said: “There’s class warfare, all right, but it’s my class, the rich class, that’s making war, and we’re winning.”

Concentration of wealth
The Marxist critique of capitalism hinges on its innate tendency towards concentration and centralisation of wealth. In Capital Volume 1, Marx fleshes out the M-C-M circuit (in which M is money and C is commodities). This circuit guarantees the expansion of capital, providing the economic basis of capitalism as a mechanism for limitless capital accumulation. The resulting crises of overproduction and capital accumulation are resolved through the enforced destruction of productive forces, the conquest of new markets and more thorough exploitation paving the way for more extensive and destructive crises. Fracking might be viewed as the ultimate metaphor for this process, whilst Uber is emblematic of the same hyper-exploitation.

French economist Thomas Piketty’s work, updating the original title to Capital in the Twenty-First Century, using a large amount of historical data, has further corroborated Marx’s theories on the concentration of wealth. Unsurprisingly, several decades of neoliberalism have been the greatest testament to how a deregulated capitalism, red in tooth and claw, siphons wealth to the top 1 per cent or even 0.1 per cent. Recent figures show that the wealthiest eight billionaires in the world (whom you could fit into a people carrier) have as much wealth as the bottom half of the global population, or some 3. 5 billion people. Astonishingly, the equivalent figure was the 62 wealthiest billionaires in 2016. Back in 2010 it was more than 300. This is how rapidly wealth is being sucked up to the top  – this may be termed the vacuum-up effect as opposed to the myth of trickle-down economics.

Whilst Victorian capitalism was dominated by small-to-medium-sized companies, the middle decades of the 20th century witnessed a shift to statist capitalism. In effect, the Soviet Union and the People’s Republic of China represented variations on this theme. Since then the age of globalisation has been ushered in with multinational corporations straddling the globe – many of them larger than the states they operate in. The movement of vast pools of capital on a global scale is historically unmatched. Mega mergers seem to be rarely out of the headlines. In other words, the centralisation Marx predicted 150 years ago is panning out.

There is a one-way trend towards the control of capital by an ever smaller number of players. Neoliberal doctrine emphasises the virtues of competition. Yet the reality of deregulated free markets, most evidently in financial services, has been monopoly, cartels, collusion and rigging. This is evidenced by the big four dominance in every sector from banking, accountancy, magic circle law firms, to high street supermarkets, energy companies and privatised utilities. The contradictions of the system have now attained a new level of absurdity.

Capitalists presently invest in existing money, be it financial instruments, housing or debt, in order to make profit. In fact, this financialisation of the economy has superseded the traditional profit-making processes of manufacturing. Unlike manufacturing, this financialisation does not create value. Instead it creates asset bubbles of financial and housing speculation, which eventually burst, as happened on a seismic scale in the 2008 crash. Since the 1970s there have been a series of escalating market crises  – yet even this volatility is profitable for hedge funds.

So if late capitalism is economically, socially and ecologically unsustainable, not to mention bankrupt, then whither to from here? One of the obtuse criticisms of Marx has been the lack of a blueprint, despite the fact that a participatory, truly democratic society would need to emerge organically rather than following a roadmap. Marx posited revolution as “the driving force of history”. The overthrow of the existing state and the dissolution of property would lead to liberation extending to the dissolution of the bourgeois conceptions of family, marriage and all nation states. This liberation from national barriers would then bring everyone into connection with the production of the whole world for the pleasure of their consumption.

Under communism, Marx daintily describes how one would be able to hunt in the morning, fish in the afternoon, rear cattle in the evening and criticise after dinner (naturally). Communism would appear to truly represent the end of the history, or at least the end of history, as class struggle :  “Communism is the riddle of history solved and it knows itself to be this solution.” Marx formulates that human emancipation can only be achieved by going beyond the bourgeois framework; material emancipation translates into spiritual and sensuous emancipation. Only the resolution of the material modes of production, beyond the paradigm of economic individualism, private property and self-interest, can liberate consciousness and revolutionise social relations  –  such that there is the capacity, the capability and propensity for free behaviour and genuine ties between individuals based on love, warmth and affection, rather than purely calculating and cold self-interest.

Alternative future
The exultant victory lap of all-singing, all-dancing capitalism has been remarkably brief; the unipolar moment of American triumphalism short-lived. Only recently, US defence secretary Jim Mattis announced that the era of great power politics has returned. Undoubtedly, a set of progressive ideas is coalescing amongst the new left  –  a green economy, public and democratic control of the economy, full automation. This 21st century manifesto is embodied in such books as Inventing the Future. The critical question remains of the vehicle necessary to bring about this transition.

There is no doubt that 21st-century global capitalism is far more sophisticated and resilient than that of pre-revolutionary Tsarist Russia. The transition of capitalism to an alternative political and economic system will likely play out over a protracted period, even if it is catalysed by revolution. Much in the same way that feudalism evolved into capitalism through the dual industrial (economic) and French revolutions (political), in which the bourgeoisie superseded the aristocratic order preceded by the 17th-century English civil war.

Or to leave the last word to Marx: “No social order is ever destroyed before all the productive forces for which it is sufficient have been developed, and new superior relations of production never replace older ones before the material conditions for their existence have matured within the framework of the old society.”
https://www.independent.co.uk/news/long ... 34241.html
#14914596
Millennials are getting disgusted with Capitalism.

Many are taking a close look at socialism. I propose that, instead, they take a close look at reforming capitalism by limiting the growth of corporations and by limiting the wealth and income of individuals.
. . I propose that the really rich learn to compete for status points on the basis of how much they can give away or by bragging about how much they pay in taxes to the Fed. Gov. This is instead of how many mansions, yachts, and private jets they own.

In Thailand there is a 7% VAT tax on most every manufactured thing you buy, but it is not the main tax the Gov. relies on. I pay no other taxes [except maybe to own a car and for gas]. My wife owns 4 acres of land with a house and out-buildings; she pays zero taxes on this land. She tells me that the wealthy pay most of the taxes and the mass of the people only pay the VAT tax, gas tax, etc.

As I see it, the Thai Gov. sucks money from the wealthy at the top of the economy and spends it on the Army, police, courts, infrastructure, education, paying Gov. workers, etc.; and on various welfare payments for the poor and the elderly, etc. This last part and some of the other Gov. spending feeds money into the economy at the bottom. Then the natural processes of capitalism cause it to rise up thru the economy to the people at the top. Then the Gov. taxes it away from the top people and feeds it back to the bottom people where it starts to rise again. It is a never ending process. This seems like a good model for the US after the next non-violent revolution [like the New Deal revolution of the 30s].

I propose that Millennials aim to freeze the below system into American life with a series of Constitutional Amendments. I outline some examples here.
1] Some way be found to isolate the US economy from the rest of the World in so far as profits earned in the US are traceable. That is, not allow bookkeeping to hide profits overseas. What this would be I don't know. I will here assume that this has been done.
2] Have Corporate profit taxes be graduated, like personal income taxes are now. The top rate would be 90%. This keeps comp. from growing too big. That top rate is on corps. that are too big to be good for the nation as a whole, i.e. the people as a whole. I'm intending that there be a big jump between the rate normal size corps. pay and that top rate.
3] Have an inheritance tax on the really rich but exempt family farms up to some size or dollar value [this last for western ranches that are huge].
. . This tax would have 2 brackets. The low one for most rich people and a really high one for people who are filthy rich. The idea is to keep an aristocracy from developing as it has now.
4] Have a tax on wealth, i.e. on net worth over some number, maybe about $33M. Evaluate the value of a wealthy person's stock shares every night and average them over the year. The same with Bond holdings and cash in the bank. Land values don't change that much, so evaluate twice a year.
. . This tax might have a low rate of around 10% for net worths over $33M [= 1500 x $20,000] up to $100M [=5000 x $20,000] and a high rate of 50% for net worths of over $100M/family. The insanely rich can give their wealth to distant relatives or to charity to avoid paying the 50% rate. [Note that at 50% per year in a decade everything over 33M would have been taxed away.]
5] Have a graduated personal income tax. The highest rate would be 90%. Between 0 income and 3 times the poverty level the rate is 0%. Then there would be several (5 to 8) brackets between this level and that top level (90%).
The top rates are all set by/in the Constitution, so they can't easily be cut.
6] The various tax rates and brackets are indexed and are changed every year.
. . a] The basis of all the tax brackets and the minimum wage is the poverty income level, which itself is indexed to inflation and recalculated every year.
. . . The key idea here is that there are contrary forces acting on the setting of the poverty level. The wealthy may want to rise the poverty level because this also lets them keep more of their income and have more wealth because the brackets all go up as the poverty level is raised. The poor would want to rise it because it increases their wages & income. But, raising it also has effects on the Gov. It always reduces its income tax revenues (raising the brackets means some of the incomes are part of a lower rate bracket, so less revenue), it increases its outgo for welfare. It increases the minimum wage. Ideally, the fiscal conservatives would try to keep the poverty level as low as reasonable to keep the Gov. from spending too much. OTOH, if the Gov. deficit is too much then the tax rates may have to be raised (but never the top rates).
. . b] For example, the beginning of the wealth tax *high* bracket is 5000 times the poverty level. Now poverty for a family of 2 is about $20,000/yr; 5000 times this is $100M. At a 2% rate of return the interest income on $100M is $2M/year, this seems like plenty for 2 people to live on.
. . . . The yearly income top bracket [rate = 90%] starts at $4M/yr, which is 200 times $20,000.
7] There might also be a VAT tax and cigs tax, whiskey tax, etc.

Three other ideas that should be frozen in are:
8] The Gov. shall have a single payer system for health care for all.
9] The Gov. shall have a Soc. Sec. system for the elderly, etc.
10] The Gov. shall have a jobs program like MMT suggests that will hire every person who wants a job and can do some job. It will pay enough to be over the poverty level. More for some better qualified people doing work that requires more training or education. This is instead of many welfare programs and a Universal Basic Income system. Then the Gov. could eliminate many Gov. bureaucrat jobs. Many single mothers might work as daycare workers in daycare centers and take care of their own children as a result.

All of these numbers are a “rough draft” of the ideas. They may need to be changed. After they are set they are frozen into the Constitution. This keeps the rich from getting Congress to change them to benefit themselves. I want to freeze them because I have seen in my lifetime how the rich have chipped away at the New Deal until it is almost all gone now. Only a few policies remain mow, like Soc. Sec., the 40 hour week, and the minimum wage (which is now inadequately low).
#14914944
Steve_American wrote:Millennials are getting disgusted with Capitalism.

Many are taking a close look at socialism. I propose that, instead, they take a close look at reforming capitalism by limiting the growth of corporations and by limiting the wealth and income of individuals.
. . I propose that the really rich learn to compete for status points on the basis of how much they can give away or by bragging about how much they pay in taxes to the Fed. Gov. This is instead of how many mansions, yachts, and private jets they own.

In Thailand there is a 7% VAT tax on most every manufactured thing you buy, but it is not the main tax the Gov. relies on. I pay no other taxes [except maybe to own a car and for gas]. My wife owns 4 acres of land with a house and out-buildings; she pays zero taxes on this land. She tells me that the wealthy pay most of the taxes and the mass of the people only pay the VAT tax, gas tax, etc.

As I see it, the Thai Gov. sucks money from the wealthy at the top of the economy and spends it on the Army, police, courts, infrastructure, education, paying Gov. workers, etc.; and on various welfare payments for the poor and the elderly, etc. This last part and some of the other Gov. spending feeds money into the economy at the bottom. Then the natural processes of capitalism cause it to rise up thru the economy to the people at the top. Then the Gov. taxes it away from the top people and feeds it back to the bottom people where it starts to rise again. It is a never ending process. This seems like a good model for the US after the next non-violent revolution [like the New Deal revolution of the 30s].

I propose that Millennials aim to freeze the below system into American life with a series of Constitutional Amendments. I outline some examples here.
1] Some way be found to isolate the US economy from the rest of the World in so far as profits earned in the US are traceable. That is, not allow bookkeeping to hide profits overseas. What this would be I don't know. I will here assume that this has been done.
2] Have Corporate profit taxes be graduated, like personal income taxes are now. The top rate would be 90%. This keeps comp. from growing too big. That top rate is on corps. that are too big to be good for the nation as a whole, i.e. the people as a whole. I'm intending that there be a big jump between the rate normal size corps. pay and that top rate.
3] Have an inheritance tax on the really rich but exempt family farms up to some size or dollar value [this last for western ranches that are huge].
. . This tax would have 2 brackets. The low one for most rich people and a really high one for people who are filthy rich. The idea is to keep an aristocracy from developing as it has now.
4] Have a tax on wealth, i.e. on net worth over some number, maybe about $33M. Evaluate the value of a wealthy person's stock shares every night and average them over the year. The same with Bond holdings and cash in the bank. Land values don't change that much, so evaluate twice a year.
. . This tax might have a low rate of around 10% for net worths over $33M [= 1500 x $20,000] up to $100M [=5000 x $20,000] and a high rate of 50% for net worths of over $100M/family. The insanely rich can give their wealth to distant relatives or to charity to avoid paying the 50% rate. [Note that at 50% per year in a decade everything over 33M would have been taxed away.]
5] Have a graduated personal income tax. The highest rate would be 90%. Between 0 income and 3 times the poverty level the rate is 0%. Then there would be several (5 to 8) brackets between this level and that top level (90%).
The top rates are all set by/in the Constitution, so they can't easily be cut.
6] The various tax rates and brackets are indexed and are changed every year.
. . a] The basis of all the tax brackets and the minimum wage is the poverty income level, which itself is indexed to inflation and recalculated every year.
. . . The key idea here is that there are contrary forces acting on the setting of the poverty level. The wealthy may want to rise the poverty level because this also lets them keep more of their income and have more wealth because the brackets all go up as the poverty level is raised. The poor would want to rise it because it increases their wages & income. But, raising it also has effects on the Gov. It always reduces its income tax revenues (raising the brackets means some of the incomes are part of a lower rate bracket, so less revenue), it increases its outgo for welfare. It increases the minimum wage. Ideally, the fiscal conservatives would try to keep the poverty level as low as reasonable to keep the Gov. from spending too much. OTOH, if the Gov. deficit is too much then the tax rates may have to be raised (but never the top rates).
. . b] For example, the beginning of the wealth tax *high* bracket is 5000 times the poverty level. Now poverty for a family of 2 is about $20,000/yr; 5000 times this is $100M. At a 2% rate of return the interest income on $100M is $2M/year, this seems like plenty for 2 people to live on.
. . . . The yearly income top bracket [rate = 90%] starts at $4M/yr, which is 200 times $20,000.
7] There might also be a VAT tax and cigs tax, whiskey tax, etc.

Three other ideas that should be frozen in are:
8] The Gov. shall have a single payer system for health care for all.
9] The Gov. shall have a Soc. Sec. system for the elderly, etc.
10] The Gov. shall have a jobs program like MMT suggests that will hire every person who wants a job and can do some job. It will pay enough to be over the poverty level. More for some better qualified people doing work that requires more training or education. This is instead of many welfare programs and a Universal Basic Income system. Then the Gov. could eliminate many Gov. bureaucrat jobs. Many single mothers might work as daycare workers in daycare centers and take care of their own children as a result.

All of these numbers are a “rough draft” of the ideas. They may need to be changed. After they are set they are frozen into the Constitution. This keeps the rich from getting Congress to change them to benefit themselves. I want to freeze them because I have seen in my lifetime how the rich have chipped away at the New Deal until it is almost all gone now. Only a few policies remain mow, like Soc. Sec., the 40 hour week, and the minimum wage (which is now inadequately low).


What is the median income in Thailand vs. the US? What is the median old age pension? Disability payment?

Why would Americans want to change the US system to one that would make them dramatically poorer? Because someone else has more, and poverty would be preferable if it was more equal in outcome? No thanks.
#14915243
Reaper,
I didn't specify any numbers for Soc. Sec.
Besides that, this will not be implemented for 40 years plus or minus 20 years. I said after the problems with Global Warming have been resolved. I and I assume you will be dead by then. The world will be a much different place then. Human life may be very hard.

If this disutopia doesn't happen then Millennials can adjust the numbers however they want. Whatever they can afford.
The idea is to keep comp. from being too big to fail, but big enough to buy the Congress and laws they want.
Also, to keep multibillionares from sucking up the wealth and buying Congress.
The idea is to put in place structures that will avoid massive income and wealth inequality. Keep it more like it was way back when the Constitution was written [but without all the other junk like slavery and no gay or women's rights].
Back then the open frontier meant that you could go west to Kentucky and get land cheap. Now everything is already owned.
#14915255
Steve_American wrote:Reaper,
I didn't specify any numbers for Soc. Sec.
Besides that, this will not be implemented for 40 years plus or minus 20 years. I said after the problems with Global Warming have been resolved. I and I assume you will be dead by then. The world will be a much different place then. Human life may be very hard.

If this disutopia doesn't happen then Millennials can adjust the numbers however they want. Whatever they can afford.
The idea is to keep comp. from being too big to fail, but big enough to buy the Congress and laws they want.
Also, to keep multibillionares from sucking up the wealth and buying Congress.
The idea is to put in place structures that will avoid massive income and wealth inequality. Keep it more like it was way back when the Constitution was written [but without all the other junk like slavery and no gay or women's rights].
Back then the open frontier meant that you could go west to Kentucky and get land cheap. Now everything is already owned.


Where your argument falls apart is the bit about billionaires sucking up all the wealth. You were talking up Thailand's System as being better. I assume the US has far more super-wealthy people and yet the median standard of living is much higher. There is no fixed amount of wealth or income to suck up. That’s why capitalist economies, with their higher inequality numbers still produce much better outcomes for almost all citizens.
#14915260
Potemkin wrote:I hate to be the one to break this to you, Reichstraten, but that is capitalism.

Tutankhamen's tomb revealed the most disgusting culture of narcissistic consumer gratification, was the New Kingdom capitalist according to your book Potemkin? One of the first things the Bolsheviks did on taking power was to order a small fleet of Rolls Royces for the central committee members.
#14915576
Reaper wrote: "Where your argument falls apart is the bit about billionaires sucking up all the wealth. You were talking up Thailand's System as being better. I assume the US has far more super-wealthy people and yet the median standard of living is much higher. There is no fixed amount of wealth or income to suck up. That’s why capitalist economies, with their higher inequality numbers still produce much better outcomes for almost all citizens."

- - - - - - - - - - - - - -

On any given day there is an almost fixed amount of wealth. So, at the end of each day it is possible for the wealth to have sucked up more of the wealth generated that day.
. . Also, What you say was more true before Reagan changed the system. For the last 35 years US wages have been almost flat while Corp. profits and the top 0.05%'s incomes have skyrocketed. So, capitalism has not done much for that average American for the last 35 years.

Thailand is a developing nation. It started from further down at the end of WWII than the US did. For the last 30 years it has been growing fast than the US has.
. . Also, Thailand has a capitalist economy. Capitalism there is more regulated than in the US though.
#14915837
Rich wrote: "Tutankhamen's tomb revealed the most disgusting culture of narcissistic consumer gratification, was the New Kingdom capitalist according to your book Potemkin? One of the first things the Bolsheviks did on taking power was to order a small fleet of Rolls Royces for the central committee members."

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

"Tutankhamen's tomb revealed the most disgusting culture of narcissistic consumer gratification, ... "
If I may point out that I see this situation more as --- the tomb revealed that the wealthiest in New Kingdom Egypt had a culture of narcissistic consumption to gratify themselves.

The way you wrote it it sounds to me like the mass of the people were or could be included in that "narcissistic culture".
#14916018
Rich wrote:One of the first things the Bolsheviks did on taking power was to order a small fleet of Rolls Royces for the central committee members.

Yes, and Hugo Chavez spent half the Venezuelan discretionary budget on Cadillac Escalades, Rolexes, and those expensive black t-shirts with metallic inked designs. Right?

This is the kind of story that dumb rich dickheads tell one another so that they don't feel like superficial scum parasites. "Everyone is a superficial parasite!" they gleefully tell one another.

But it's simply not true. Being a superficial parasite is a sign of severe social damage. And fortunately for humanity, not everyone has been this damaged.
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