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Can A Capitalist Economy, by Definition Non-Democratic, Successfully Co-Exist With Democracy? (With apologies to...

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Jun 9 in Banking by Virginia (4,094 points)
edited Jun 12 by Virginia

to all those who are tired of questions about capitalism...)

But there is an American economist, retired professor from Amherst College, who says NO. He claims the skewed economics will just buy the political system. Marianne found this fellow, Richard somebody I think, anyway he has written about the Mondragon worker/owner companies...he says capitalism is failing, and the worker owner companies are more compatible with democracy.

Is he correct, or is there a flaw in the ointment here somewhere?

2 Answers

Marianne Jun 9

I am afraid that capitalist systems are aiming too much at big and fast profit, performance at all cost, "being and appearing", while neglecting mutual respect, sustainability, fair play, human and environmental rights, or dealing with overpopulation in a respectful way.

Glory, success and ownership - i.e. dominance, control over others, wealth and privileges - count much more than real democracy. In too many cases, power and wealth, spiritual lead - or extreme abdication, too many sacrifices, or too much piety and devotion - can become addictive, and ambitions too extreme. This is one of the absurd or pervert parts of human nature, and it is also the chemistry of the brain's reward system, which drives actions, reflections and intentions.

Too much power, too much wealth, too much control, too many privileges, too much boredom, or too much suffering, too much abstinence, etc., can compromise the inner balance, lead to excesses and "drive people crazy".

And it is the same with systems and ideologies; they will automatically go on crash course, as soon as they are shifting into extremes.

And in all the cases, fighting human misery (after having dealt with emergencies) should not just address the symptoms of the "disease", but the very roots, which involve attitudes, "traditional" principles and values, superstitions and false beliefs.

Why, for instance, must "the cobbler's children go barefoot" ?

Who among us did not happen to yield to temptation - when our dosis of treats and "guilty pleasures" seemed to be lacking, too small or too rare - like eating the whole bar of our preferred chocolate, instead of the dosis of 10 % ? All the more if you had to follow a boring diet for weeks? The same applies to many kinds of drinks even if they have been created by certain green fairies - lol.

:O:ermm::angel::) 

Virginia Marianne Jun 9

Marianne, if I understand correctly you have mentioned what I was thinking too; and that is, capitalism encourages some of our worst human flaws - such as greed, fear, rage... 

For that housing company in Iowa that was plundering the elders, I was wondering, "Well maybe this is just one isolated instance of a company gone rogue, and not really typical." But looking around with eyes of awareness now, I now think it's more that capitalism rewards the worst within us...throwing the inner balance off and driving people crazy, as you mention, and then defining that insanity as "success."

Karl Marx saw that something was wrong with capitalism - but it seems that he did not really understand WHAT was wrong, and he certainly did not know what to do about it. 

                                                                           * * *

But maybe humankind is ready for something better now. I was reading about a region in Italy where 40% of the businesses are worker/owner; I wonder if those businesses retain the innovation, creativity - the wholesome aspects - of capitalism.

Marianne Marianne Jun 12

You are perfectly right, Virginia - efforts in this regard go on since long, but too many people want more comfort, more wealth, more success, more holidays, more fun, more action, more beauty - or more serenity; it is the constant quest for recognition, for real happiness, for feeling well, for satisfaction or for something we are calling love.

I also hope that the best points of the different systems can be selected, and that too human weaknesses can be dealt with without "disasters" and without abuse.


Virginia Marianne Jun 12

May your hopes come to be, Marianne...life can be so heart-rending.

Marianne Marianne Jun 12

Yes, Virginia - I know that all of us can doubt a lot with what we see every day, but there are sometimes some brightenings ...

Nature gives the best example of biodiversity, although certain rules of ethics need to be respected. I think that certain behaviours, still unusual, often hidden and non-accepted "trends" or patterns might be a consequence of the malfunction of our society, of overpopulation, depletion and wasting - from pollution to physical and mental intoxication, over coercion, violence, shortage and false or fake beliefs, stereotyping, to educational rules or performance requirements against health and nature(s), which can backlash against society, environment and or moral "considerations" ...

Virginia Marianne Jun 12

Those are good points, Marianne...more and more, I realize that something to look at is, just what are we capable of, at this time? Society is changing, and evolving...and there is no use asking people for what they are not (yet) capable of...

I do think the American democracy was a wonderful dream, in 1776, a wonder for its time. Free enterprise capitalism was its economic system, which had evolved out of medieval feudalism...but are we ready to move on now, to a more workable economic system? 

I don't know...but I hope so.

Marianne Marianne Jun 12

Well said, Virginia, I hope that too.


Starchild Marianne Jun 16

Virginia and Marianne, I think you both raise good points and concerns. But I get the sense that like many people, you may be referring to the kind of large-scale economic activity that exists in the world today (large corporations, etc.) as capitalism. I believe this is a common misconception. An untaxed, unregulated garage sale, or lemonade stand run by a child, is more capitalist than a company like Google, General Electric, or Monsanto.  Often when people complain about "capitalism" what they are really complaining about are things like materialism, greed, hunger for power, etc.

Virginia Marianne Jun 16

Starchild, those are wonderful points that you make...do you have a reference of some kind, that explains more about the difference between true capitalism and the materialism, greed, etc.? That makes all kinds of sense to me...

I REALLY am coming to believe we need another economic system...but maybe what we need is one that is actually capitalist...

Marianne Marianne Jun 18

:)<3

Starchild Marianne Jun 18

Thank you Virginia! Here's a link to a piece on the online site of my favorite magazine, Reason, which addresses the topic:

http://reason.com/archives/2012/02/03/corporatism-is-not-the-free-market

For a more in-depth look at what "real capitalism" or true free markets might look like, I recommend the book "Healing Our World" by Dr. Mary Ruwart:

http://www.ruwart.com/product/healing-our-world

Starchild Marianne Jun 18

Oops, thought I was replying to Virginia, but it posted as a reply to Marianne. Anyway, thank you both of you for your positive feedback!

Virginia Marianne Jun 18

@ Starchild ty for the links...very interesting idea that our economic system is NOT really capitalism at all, but corporatism...and after looking up the Ruwart book on Goodreads, I put it on my reading list; it gets very high reviews there.

I loved his word zaxiebax, "a metallic sphere, like the Washington Monument"...!

Marianne Marianne Jun 18

No problem, Starchild, you have cited some pertinent points.

I can only add that extremism is what's harmful, as strategies, projects, ideologies, decisions, etc., need to be dosed carefully.

Virginia answered already ...


Starchild Jun 16

Yes, to the extent that voting in the democracy respects people's economic freedom, and does not involve using government force to restrict individuals from making their own peaceful choices over how to use their own time, money, body, and property. Capitalism is simply the freedom to engage in mutually consensual trade (buying/selling/bartering) without outside (e.g. government) interference. What you choose to do with that freedom, to the extent you may possess it, is up to you. Just as what you choose to do with any object or tool or freedom you possess is up to you. Free speech for instance can be used for friendly chat and rational discourse, or for personal insults and offensive comments ("hate speech"), and a weapon can be used to injure or kill someone, or to defend yourself or others from being injured or killed.

Virginia Starchild Jun 16

You make some very meaningful distinctions, Starchild, thank you!

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