fredag 27 april 2007


One of my best friends is an unreconstructed Marxist. She is always going on about the evils of “Capitalism”, but what exactly does she, or anyone else for that matter, mean by this term?

“Capital” refers to goods set aside for the production of further goods – the fisherman’s net or the artisan’s tools, for instance are capital. So humans have been employing capital since the Stone Age. And markets have also been around for about the same length of time. Money is merely a medium of exchange, to avoid the need for bartering actual goods. So what is this “Capitalism”?

Clearly, our systems of economic organisation are not good for the environment and often lead to extremes of wealth and poverty, but what precisely is the problem? Is is our tax systems? It is joint-stock companies and the privileged position they enjoy? It is systems of land tenure? Everyone occupies land, but could there be something wrong with the legal and fiscal framework under which land holdings operate? My friend advocates “common ownership”, but how would this work and would it really help the situation? After all, it is a legal fact that the Sovereign owns all the land in England and holds it on behalf of the nation, but in practice, there is no difference between freeholding and absolute ownership of land. Under “common ownership”, how would land be allocated, by whom and on what terms?

It seems that in economics, there is a laxity in the use of terms and definitions that would not be tolerated in the physical sciences, and perhaps that is the problem, as nothing can ever be systematically analysed.

1 kommentar:

Anonymous sa...

From what I know, capitalism is meant to be the way for the individual to make his own living- the richer get richer and the poorer get poorer. It has its plus sides in theory, but recently I can't help but see it in a negative light.

I know this is a bit of a different focus on the term, but capitalism is meant to create the individual from the mass. Communism is meant to create equality although in practice it has its flaws. The thing is I don't see capitalism creating the individual. I see it as isolating and flawed. Advertising etc creates an image which is taken to be the desirous, and if you do't go along with the crowd, you are isolated. Many people go along with the crowd, and then the individual is lost to the power. The isolated individual is an outsider who is shunned or made fun of.

Take football, for example. It is a major economy. I think football is an interesting and clever sport, but it has way too much money pumped into it when it is only an entertainment source. We see greedy managers and players in their surreal worlds playing with their admirer's money when it could be spend on either the viewers playing football themselves, or giving a decent wage to teachers or nurses who are educating or easing the pain of others. Like I said before, the richer getting richer and the poorer getting poorer.

It seems to me that the big money is in the wrong places. Fashion is another example of wasted money but I wont go into that.

Capitalism represents a flawed and false view of freedom.

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