Skip to main content

I’m continuing my reporting on the current installment of Conservative Estimate, the recently founded website that is devoted to demolishing Conservatism.

Yesterday, Mr. George began his consideration of the the seventh and last Major Myth of Conservative thought, the Myth of Capitalism, which holds that Free-market capitalism is an unquestionably beneficial and moral economic system. He indicated that the reason this belief is utterly mistaken is that Capitalism is an intrinsically immoral system.

Today he shows why Capitalism is based on an injustice that cannot be eliminated.

We take up his argument after the dueling orange fishlines.

Mr. George begins by pointing out that Capitalism is rooted in an act of force on which the whole system is founded. The worker, he says, goes to the marketplace to sell the only commodity he has, his labor. There he meets the capitalist.

The worker names a price for his labor, a price he calculates will feed himself and his family while still providing good value to the capitalist.

The capitalist, however, is not on an even playing field with the worker. The capitalist can support himself, without working, on the money he has accumulated. So he sees that he can afford to offer the worker less money than he requests, because if the worker says No, the capitalist can just scuttle the deal and wait until later.

But the worker cannot wait as long as the capitalist, because he cannot support himself. Eventually he has to give in to the demands of the capitalist. This is a form of force: the capitalist can make the worker do something he doesn’t want to do by making him fear for his survival.

This is the violence at the heart of capitalism.

Mr. George then notes that this use of economic force is usually overlooked by believers in the Myth of Capitalism. But it is characteristic of Capitalism, and it is the origin of the hatred between management and labor.
Every capitalist holds a gun to the head of every worker, whether or not he chooses to use it, and whether or not he even realizes it. If he doesn’t use his advantage, he’s not going to make as much profit as he could. So he probably will use it.
You can read the whole post here.

On Monday, Mr. George will show that Capitalism’s inherent injustice can nevertheless be mitigated by people of good will.

I’ll be reporting back each day as a new installment appears.

EMAIL TO A FRIEND X
Your Email has been sent.
You must add at least one tag to this diary before publishing it.

Add keywords that describe this diary. Separate multiple keywords with commas.
Tagging tips - Search For Tags - Browse For Tags

?

More Tagging tips:

A tag is a way to search for this diary. If someone is searching for "Barack Obama," is this a diary they'd be trying to find?

Use a person's full name, without any title. Senator Obama may become President Obama, and Michelle Obama might run for office.

If your diary covers an election or elected official, use election tags, which are generally the state abbreviation followed by the office. CA-01 is the first district House seat. CA-Sen covers both senate races. NY-GOV covers the New York governor's race.

Tags do not compound: that is, "education reform" is a completely different tag from "education". A tag like "reform" alone is probably not meaningful.

Consider if one or more of these tags fits your diary: Civil Rights, Community, Congress, Culture, Economy, Education, Elections, Energy, Environment, Health Care, International, Labor, Law, Media, Meta, National Security, Science, Transportation, or White House. If your diary is specific to a state, consider adding the state (California, Texas, etc). Keep in mind, though, that there are many wonderful and important diaries that don't fit in any of these tags. Don't worry if yours doesn't.

You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.
Rescue this diary, and add a note:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from Rescue?
Choose where to republish this diary. The diary will be added to the queue for that group. Publish it from the queue to make it appear.

You must be a member of a group to use this feature.

Add a quick update to your diary without changing the diary itself:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary?
(The diary will be removed from the site and returned to your drafts for further editing.)
(The diary will be removed.)
Are you sure you want to save these changes to the published diary?

Comment Preferences

  •  I worked for many employers over the years where (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    rmonroe, OLinda, Kristina40, The Marti, pengiep

    'the constant fear of layoffs' was used to keep us on our toes, watching our backs, reporting bad employees, and in a constant state of stress and anxiety. Unfortunately, these tactics work well, especially on single working in mothers, cause the women were always 'laid-off' first..

    "Time is for careful people, not passionate ones."

    "Life without emotions is like an engine without fuel."

    by roseeriter on Fri Dec 28, 2012 at 04:00:54 AM PST

  •  Perhaps the hardest "sale" to the American people (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Kristina40, a2nite, pengiep

    will be this one. Many people on the left believe that Capitalism can be made to work with a free working class. It never has before. Even in the glory days of unions,  the benefits were mostly limited to white men.

    We're fools whether we dance or not, so we might as well dance.

    by PowWowPollock on Fri Dec 28, 2012 at 04:25:22 AM PST

  •  Capitalism produced... (3+ / 0-)

    ...the computer you're typing on, right?

    Preparing for the Mayan doomsday prophecy by hastily trying to get in the good graces of snake-bird god Q’uq’umatz

    by dov12348 on Fri Dec 28, 2012 at 04:32:12 AM PST

    •  Capitalism produces nothing and does nothing -- (6+ / 0-)

      certainly not evil. Human beings perpetrate evil, both actively and passively, by abusing their own kind or standing silent while abuse happens.
      If other creatures abuse and devour their own kind we don't call it evil because we presume they don't know what they are doing. And, since apparently some humans don't know what they are doing either, we can question whether their injurious behavior is evil, but that is another matter.

      Capitalism is a process, a systematic approach to how real assets are to be used in the future, rather than on the spot. As such, capitalism requires the ability to think in a linear fashion and plan ahead, mostly so that what isn't consumed on the spot doesn't go to waste, as do the leavings of the predator.

      Humans exploiting their own kind as if they were natural resources to be consumed is not capitalism. However, since accumulation and planning ahead produce a significant surplus that can be targeted for theft, it is possible that capitalism promotes human predators more than would otherwise survive, if the assets produced were less. If so, then human exploitation, aka human husbandry, is an ancillary development or bi-product, if you will, which should be addressed independently. Don't blame capitalism for the fact that more thievery can be sustained.
      Blaming private property rights might make more sense. Because it is, after all, the exclusive use of nature's resources, absent an concommitant obligation to share the fruits thereof, which coerces some people into subservience in the effort to acquire the necessary sustenance. Ownership is the culprit, if one is needed. Ownership is the culprit, especially when we recognize that owning things has been touted as an acceptable substitute for human rights, which are being violated left and right.

      We organize governments to deliver services and prevent abuse.

      by hannah on Fri Dec 28, 2012 at 04:54:07 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Hannah, I love you :) (0+ / 0-)
      •  Beautifully stated, hannah! (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        banjolele, hannah

        Capitalism - as with most isms - is a tool, not a system, despite its masquerade to the contrary. In its classical sense it meant the aggregation of industrial capital to fulfill the purpose of adding infrastructure and enduring productive capacity to the economy. Today most "capitalism" is financial in nature. It is institutionalized hoarding, anti-industrial and parasitic. It is this way because tax policy, controlled by the financial elites, has aimed most of its incentives at producing what we have today. Now we're so constrained in our thinking that in most minds the only tool in the box is a hammer, thus all problems must be nails.

      •  Nicely said in part. (0+ / 0-)

        But I shouldn't own the pen I bought?  

        Preparing for the Mayan doomsday prophecy by hastily trying to get in the good graces of snake-bird god Q’uq’umatz

        by dov12348 on Fri Dec 28, 2012 at 06:12:58 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Is it necessary to own the pen to use it to write? (0+ / 0-)

          Ownership is a largely useless attribute.  We are presumably secure in and on property we own, but that's an illusion when others don't respect the claim. And if parents, who are presumed to own their children, fail to care for them according to standards that satisfy the state, the children will be removed. There is much distress in the land because wages are not sufficient to sustain both workers and their off-spring.

          We organize governments to deliver services and prevent abuse.

          by hannah on Fri Dec 28, 2012 at 09:32:34 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

    •  and fascism produced the designs (0+ / 0-)

      for the rockets that got us in to space....
      What's your point?

      "I took a walk around the world, To ease my troubled mind. I left my body laying somewhere In the sands of time" Kryptonite 3 doors Down

      by farmerchuck on Fri Dec 28, 2012 at 05:43:08 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Actually, no (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      pengiep

      The original electronic computer was produced by a British Post Office employee to break the German code, which was produced mechanically so could only be broken by rapid multiple iterations.

      The theory that these digital machines work on was derived by a guy named Norbert Weiner at MIT during the same period of time while working for the Navy developing tactics for convoys in the North Atlantic.

      The first one that actually worked like this was built in the Pentagon, in the basement. It was called UNIVAC I and was a tube machine so big that it filled several rooms. One day it failed and a Navy Electronics Technician (He might have been an IC Electricians Mate, they worked on Computers in those days) crawled inside the machine to figure out why and found a cock roach shorting out a connection. That's where we get the term "bug" for a flaw in the program.

      The internet was developed by The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, DARPA, as a defense against widespread communications failures caused by atmospheric atomic bursts. Subsequent to Watergate, a large number of liberal Democrats were elected to the congress, many of whom were policy wonks. One group of them, including Al Gore, were called the "Atari Democrats" because they wanted to give you the internet. They succeeded.

      All of these things were shared with industry who immediately set about trying to avoid paying the taxes that made them possible. In order to advance that cause, they created the myth we are discussing.

      "If I pay a man enough money to buy my car, he'll buy my car." Henry Ford

      by johnmorris on Fri Dec 28, 2012 at 08:09:04 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  There's more to it. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Sparhawk

        The parts, raw materials, paint, shipping, assembly, warehousing, retail, repairs, even cafeteria meals for the workers, etc. etc.  Substantially capitalism.

        Preparing for the Mayan doomsday prophecy by hastily trying to get in the good graces of snake-bird god Q’uq’umatz

        by dov12348 on Fri Dec 28, 2012 at 08:29:32 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  During the War (0+ / 0-)

          all of that stuff was produced under contract to the government and prices were dictated by John Kenneth Galbraith at the Office of Price Controls. Capitalism was put on hold for the duration of hostilities. After the war, it was severely regulated until the 1970's. Then the wheels started coming off. The Free Market bullshit is a propaganda program brought to you by capitalists.

          "If I pay a man enough money to buy my car, he'll buy my car." Henry Ford

          by johnmorris on Fri Dec 28, 2012 at 03:44:14 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Look about you. (0+ / 0-)

            The majority of everything that keeps you alive was brought to you by capitalism.

            Preparing for the Mayan doomsday prophecy by hastily trying to get in the good graces of snake-bird god Q’uq’umatz

            by dov12348 on Fri Dec 28, 2012 at 04:49:35 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Bullshit (0+ / 0-)

              everything that keeps you alive was brought to you by an industrial society. Capitalists are not necessary to that effort. That we let them run it is both unfortunate and inefficient. There are several other models of industrial out put. In about half of the European countries, capitalist enterprises are severely regulated, as they used to be here. In China, they are virtually non existent. In Japan, they are subservient to the state. We in North America are the only people simple enough to let them have their way and we suffer for it. And we have not been this stupid until relatively recently. Your apology for their greed is touching but mistaken.

              "If I pay a man enough money to buy my car, he'll buy my car." Henry Ford

              by johnmorris on Fri Dec 28, 2012 at 08:07:40 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  So you say. (0+ / 0-)

                We can agree to disagree.

                Preparing for the Mayan doomsday prophecy by hastily trying to get in the good graces of snake-bird god Q’uq’umatz

                by dov12348 on Fri Dec 28, 2012 at 08:16:02 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  I think you don't understand (0+ / 0-)

                  the difference between industrial activity and ownership of capital. What we're disagreeing about is whether or not the ability to melt steel is dependent upon a particular level of individual wealth. We worked metal long before we divided ourselves into owners and workers. Capitalism is a system of subservience. Its not a necessary precursor to industrialism.

                  "If I pay a man enough money to buy my car, he'll buy my car." Henry Ford

                  by johnmorris on Fri Dec 28, 2012 at 09:10:02 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  I disagree with your basic premise. (0+ / 0-)

                    It's not a system of subservience.  If it is, it's not capitalism.  Perhaps we're working with two completely different definitions of it.

                    Preparing for the Mayan doomsday prophecy by hastily trying to get in the good graces of snake-bird god Q’uq’umatz

                    by dov12348 on Fri Dec 28, 2012 at 10:13:39 PM PST

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  At the moment (0+ / 0-)

                      our wages have been flat or falling for 40 years. Our unions have been hollowed out as our manufacturing capacity has been exported to the 3d world by the owners of capital. While doing this, they have systematically purchased our government at all levels to make it virtually impossible for us to defend ourselves against the onslaught. That's Capitalism as it is practiced and it is a system of dominance by owners that makes workers subservient. What's your definition?

                      "If I pay a man enough money to buy my car, he'll buy my car." Henry Ford

                      by johnmorris on Sat Dec 29, 2012 at 11:32:28 AM PST

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  Here's mine. (0+ / 0-)

                        Capitalism is an economic system based on the recognition of individual rights, including property rights, in which all property is privately owned.  It implies a separation of state and economics, in the same way and for the same reasons as the separation of state and church.

                        Personally I would not defend this "purist" model though.  I want objective and rational government regulation.

                        The US is mixed - has elements of capitalism and government controls.

                        Preparing for the Mayan doomsday prophecy by hastily trying to get in the good graces of snake-bird god Q’uq’umatz

                        by dov12348 on Sat Dec 29, 2012 at 11:46:19 AM PST

                        [ Parent ]

  •  No single system works over the long term. A (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    The Marti

    mixed economy mitigates the weaknesses and evils of each.  A democratic government is responsible for getting economic gears to mesh.  When there is sand in the gears, as there certainly is now, government must respond appropriately or the economic machine stalls and then becomes defunct.  The shadow economy of barter and unregulated trade is the only alternative for individuals, but it cannot sustain a nation.

    Building a better America with activism, cooperation, ingenuity and snacks.

    by judyms9 on Fri Dec 28, 2012 at 04:51:43 AM PST

  •  that's not even close to an accurate model. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Kvetchnrelease, 1918
  •  eh the fact is (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    katiec, The Marti

    that 'free market captialism' is not really what the GOP and conservatives think it is. In fact I think it amazing Smith hasn't risen from the grave to smack the GOP into next week for abusing his ideas

    •  That's true. But he never came up with (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      duhban

      a good solution to corporations jumping the national ship in search of cheap labor.

      He just used faith in the Invisible Hand, ie, patriotism.

      So much for that.

      •  well remember too (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        katiec

        that Smith lived in a different time, a time when 'gentlemen' (ie people who would today be our wealthy and well to do) lived with a much different code of ethics. When calling someone a liar or unchariable among many other things would be fighting words (or more apporiately dueling words)

        Thus to Smith such a possiblity was unthinkable and unforunately he was wrong.

  •  That's why I write about an anti-Ayn Rand (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    The Marti

    form of Capitalism, one which smacks of altruism.

    It all depends on how one runs one's businesses, and where one ranks profits on the true scale of goals for that business.  Certainly one would be negligent not to care about profits, but profit does not have to kill people and make people suffer.

    In addition, a capitalist's very business, the very product produced to maintain the business, can also be a beneficial product, which advances some human cause in some way.

    Then there is the dirt cheap store, with the cheap warehouse with contracted labor that gets abused.

    Suddenly I see.....

    Buy Aldus Shrugged : The Antidote to Ayn Rand, and tear Ayn and the GOP new orifices. ALL ROYALTIES BETWEEN NOW AND JANUARY 31, DONATED TO THIS SITE, DAILYKOS!! @floydbluealdus1

    by Floyd Blue on Fri Dec 28, 2012 at 05:08:14 AM PST

  •  One of my favorite lines: (4+ / 0-)

    What's the difference between Capitalism and Collectivism?

    In Collectivism, man exploits man.
    But in Capitalism, it's the other way around!

    Seriously, it all depends on who is running things.  An entire nation of people can be abused in one fell swoop under a Collectivist economy.

    Buy Aldus Shrugged : The Antidote to Ayn Rand, and tear Ayn and the GOP new orifices. ALL ROYALTIES BETWEEN NOW AND JANUARY 31, DONATED TO THIS SITE, DAILYKOS!! @floydbluealdus1

    by Floyd Blue on Fri Dec 28, 2012 at 05:09:59 AM PST

  •  Capitalism can be mitigated only by labor power, (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    a2nite

    both at the ballot box and in the form of unions.  "Good will" is extracted from capitalists and managers ONLY when they are forced into it by power built up by labor organization, which is why current American capitalism is so much worse a model than its European counterpart, which even itself is in some serious present danger because of the austerian idiocy (or is it?) on the part of their economists, central bankers, and the Germans.  

  •  The universe is like that too (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    nextstep

    In a hunter/gatherer society, you have to find food every day or die.

    Survival in many cases is about doing things you don't really want to do. Even without capitalism or 'capitalists', someone has to get up every day to mine the iron, run the power plants, tend the water pipes, and grow the food necessary to keep civilization running. Presumably most of these people would rather be playing golf.

    It's not 'fundamental violence', it's just the way the universe works.

    (-5.50,-6.67): Left Libertarian
    Leadership doesn't mean taking a straw poll and then just throwing up your hands. -Jyrinx

    by Sparhawk on Fri Dec 28, 2012 at 06:33:31 AM PST

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site