An interesting conversation.

Discussion in 'Current Events' started by curiousbrain, Apr 8, 2011.

  1. curiousbrain

    curiousbrain Well-Known Member

    I recently had a conversation with my brother ... it was interesting, as the title alludes to.

    The thesis was that capitalism inside democracy is functional in the long run, while democracy inside capitalism is not sustainable for any sufficiently long duration (whatever that may be).

    To be more specific, a capitalist system functioning under (or inside, to use the previously mentioned term) a democratic government is sustainable because the economic goals and aspirations will always be constrained by what is considered to be "right and proper."

    On the other hand, a democratic system cannot survive if it is slave (or operates inside) to the economic model of capitalism because it (i.e. the people and/or their representatives) will always be subservient to the motives of profit, greed, etc.

    In short, the two are composed of opposite ideals. To this end, we did concede that perhaps the friction between the two elements generated a sort of "social energy" that motivated progress, whatever that may be.

    How this relates to current events is that we (him and I) proceeded to discuss the finer points of what the situation in this country is: does the democratic system still hold control over the capitalist idealism we all (or, most of us) like to believe we have, or have we surrendered the "grand experiment" to greed?

    There was no hard and fast conclusion that we reached, but there were good points as we toured the subject in a reasonably systematic and rigorous fashion. Seemed worth sharing the premise with others, as I found it ... delightfully intriguing.
    Lasted edited by : Apr 8, 2011
  2. TearsInRain

    TearsInRain IE boogeyman

    capitalism and democracy are competing systems

    capitalism is based on hierarchy and will always strive to maintain that hierarchy, against all threats. normally this fails, and we're all the better for it

    democracy is based on equality and tries to maintain a level playing field, which isn't really possible either since equality is mostly a myth, like free-will

    and what idealistic democratic control? this country was founded by genocidal capitalists and religious fanatics and if you look at our history, we haven't really changed much since we came here, until maybe the internet, but that's still too soon to see
  3. satellitedriver

    satellitedriver Moderator Staff Member

    You and your brother can sit on the porch with me any day.
    I will provide the refreshments.

    There was no hard and fast conclusion that we reached, but there were good points as we toured the subject in a reasonably systematic and rigorous fashion. Seemed worth sharing the premise with others, as I found it ... delightfully intriguing.

    Well spoken.
    This is one of the most articulate posts I have ever read, in the Brown Cafe.
    Intriguing, to say the least.

  4. wkmac

    wkmac Well-Known Member

    Capitalism is a troubling word at best IMO. As one who believes in free markets and thus all manner and form of economic action, to take one of the 3 factors of production, the other 2 being land and labor, and making that a central focus seems to me to be inviting unintended consequences. If you took capital out and replaced with labor, the market would still be unbalanced and thus consequences and poor allocation of resources would result.

    Capitalism and capitalist were first coined as terms of dispargement and it's often debated as to who used the terms first. Many claim it was Marx but in 1825' Thomas Hodgskin used the term in his pamplet, "Labor Defended Against the Claims of Capital" in which Hodgskin defended labor and David Ricardo's Labor theory of value against capital.

    Hodgskin's thoughts and ideals might prove some worth in your discussion of capitalism. Another piece that puts forth some ideas on the subject is Gary Chartier's "Advocates of Freed Markets Should Embrace Anti-Capitalism" .

    You are right in that there are not any hard and fast conclusions because each person will hold differing standards that cause differing conclusions. The larger question that being the case, with so many people and so many conclusion, should gov't be placing all it's eggs in one manner or economic basket when so many people would hold so many different baskets if given the free choice?
  5. curiousbrain

    curiousbrain Well-Known Member

    You shame me with your kind words, sir.

    To Mr. Chartier's piece, I offer the following - I'm not sure if this is what I believe or not, it is just what occurred to me as I read through the article.

    He seems to insinuate that capitalism-[2,3] are the result of injustice and imbalance as promoted by government. Assuming an economic environment completely free from political influence (and that's quite an assumption), a competing mechanism of propagation of such injustice and imbalance would be that, regardless of the initial conditions, capitalism-1 will always evolve into some form of the latter two. The only way to prevent that would be to violate the principle of capitalism-1 by imposing some form of control/guidance.

    I liken this somewhat to the initial conditions of the Universe - under the premise of the Big Bang and Inflation Theory, the Universe was once very small; as it rapidly expanded, the perturbations of the initial conditions were expanded to form macro effects, which we now all enjoy looking at - stars, galaxies, so on and so forth. Cellular automata offer another example of initial conditions and their far reaching effects, although I think the analogy is bloated enough.

    Point being, initial conditions are never "perfect" (because that has no inherent meaning, different conditions only produce different results), and I would put forth the idea that an economic landscape is no different. Regardless of the initial conditions, the imbalances of society will always expand into macro effects which we all see as the wealth gap, big business and government collusion, etc.

    To Mr. Hodgskin, I am reading through that and may have a response tomorrow; going hiking and may not finish/process it in the time available to me.
  6. UpstateNYUPSer

    UpstateNYUPSer Very proud grandfather.

    All my brother and I ever talk about is sports.
  7. bbsam

    bbsam Moderator Staff Member

    Perhaps another vein to explore is the coinsiding existence of capitalism within a communistic society. Although it sounds counter-intuitive to think the two could co-exist, I think that is what we are finding in China right now. In many respects I think they are running into the same problems and I think the problem began when the regained control of Hong Kong. Although the concepts of capitalism were despised, the fruits certainly were tasty.
    But should you want to peruse the subject further, C.S. Lewis in his excellent text on his rational conversion to Christianity (Mere Christianity), was similarly perplexed in that apparently the major religions of the world warn (perhaps forbid?) the practice of lending for profit, which is indeed capitalism at it's core. I concur with others that the conversation is fascinating and when continued could go at the same off on 1000 different tangents only to return to th original question...only to start down yet another path.
  8. bbsam

    bbsam Moderator Staff Member

    What do you and your brother think about the NFL and it's players fighting over billions of dollars within the framework of the sport and the rules committees trying to protect elite players that represent huge dollar signs to the owners and agents. In fact, sports also has a subset of the OP's discussion.:wink2:
  9. bbsam

    bbsam Moderator Staff Member

    I agree. BB seems to have alot of well thought out ideas in many areas.
  10. UpstateNYUPSer

    UpstateNYUPSer Very proud grandfather.

    He has certainly given wkmac a run for his money in the short time he has been here.
  11. Monkey Butt

    Monkey Butt Dark Prince of Double Standards Staff Member

    Interesting topic ... I may not shun Current Events like the plague if you are posting.

    I'm a strong individualist (whatever that may be) and so I tend to think of a holistic system's impact on the individual.
    The government's role tends to be for the common good which means rules and regulations and their effects tend towards a lower overall effect and outcome but a higher mean for the individuals with a tendency towards a normal bell curve for distribution of individual wealth.
    Capitalism/Free Market tends to produce a higher overall outcome but a lower mean for the individual and a flatter distribution to the lower and higher points along the x-axis for the distribution of individual wealth.
    The balance between these two competing influences in our society seems to be what the fuss is all about ... hopefully neither side ever wins.
  12. Monkey Butt

    Monkey Butt Dark Prince of Double Standards Staff Member

    I'm not sure which bb it is that bb is referring too and therefore I must defer my agreement. :wink2:
  13. UpstateNYUPSer

    UpstateNYUPSer Very proud grandfather.

  14. bbsam

    bbsam Moderator Staff Member

  15. moreluck

    moreluck golden ticket member

    I think the original BB is Big Babooba !! :bow:
  16. wkmac

    wkmac Well-Known Member

    Gary comes from a law and theologian background so his opinion is shaped more along the lines of the moral question. I find that just about everyone regardless of economic belief accepts some manner of gov't oversight or action in the economy and it's most often to maintain some measure of balance of right and wrong. Protect against fraud and unwarranted aggressions. I see that as a moral position and not as a matter of economic science. Again, as you rightly pointed out, how many goat trails do we have here? Can any of us even collectively count that high as in not enough fingers and toes.

    I liked your point about the larger universe or the smaller mirco-verse and in the case of the latter, we can effect it eg intervention but left to it's own, it does self organize and it tends to self cleanse and self repair itself. It's lessons of sustainability and best allocations of resources are worthwhile to consider. If it's micro world is externally intervened in, there is an explosive reaction of growth but then the growth faulters unless intervened again. At some point, all intervention fails because the pure scale at which it exists is now beyond support and the collaspe is far, far worse that it would be had no intervention ever taken place.

    Obviously the larger universe I doubt we could effect at all but the same is still true. It also self organizes along certain natural law lines but as you correctly pointed out, the paths are numerous and unlimited. Intervene here and the unforeseen gravitational forces might bring on unintended consequences or a 2nd earth might move in next door. And I'm betting the former would be the most likely result. We may not understand all the laws that govern such actions but on a general point, they do seem to always follow a consistant pathway. Night sky looks pretty much the same night after night in our lifespan. Why don't we as a people follow such consistant path?

    Whether capitalism and democracy can work together as good as that question is, a larger question to me is can real democracy work at all where total transparency in the public sphere is so lacking? Could a lack of transparency or rather full disclosure of information cause wrong choices and thus benefit those who would use capitalism for other means? Is capitalism itself the evil or does it's mixture with the state produce those results? Again, we're right back to numerous choices and numerous perspectives or as you said:

    But then just thinking about it is sometimes the reason for the journey to begin with!
  17. Lue C Fur

    Lue C Fur Evil member

    And BB's posts get to the point without taking up so much space.:funny:
  18. bbsam

    bbsam Moderator Staff Member

    And he has a point. It's so cool.
  19. FracusBrown

    FracusBrown Ponies and Planes

    " A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can only exist until the voters discover that they can vote themselves largess of the public treasury. From that time on the majority always votes for the candidates promising the most benefits from the public treasury, with the results that a democracy always collapses over loose fiscal policy, always followed by a dictatorship.
    The average age of the world's great civilizations has been 200 years. These nations have progressed through this sequence: from bondage to spiritual faith; from spiritual faith to great courage; from courage to liberty; from liberty to abundance; from abundance to selfishness; from selfishness to complacency; from complacency to apathy; from apathy to dependency; from dependency back again to bondage."

    Sir Alex Fraser Tytler ( 1742-1813 )
    Scottish jurist and historian
  20. satellitedriver

    satellitedriver Moderator Staff Member

    Never the twain shall meet.