What is capitalism

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What is capitalism

  1. 1. Capitalism 101
  2. 2. The history of capitalism as it has operated in the last two hundred years in the realm of Western civilization is the record of a steady rise in the wage earners' standard of living. The inherent mark of capitalism is that it is mass production for mass consumption directed by the most energetic and far- sighted individuals, unflaggingly aiming at improvement. Its driving force is the profit motive, the instrumentality of which forces the businessman constantly to provide the consumers with more, better, and cheaper amenities. An excess of profits over losses can appear only in a progressing economy and only to the extent to which the masses' standard of living improves. Thus capitalism is the system under which the keenest and most agile minds are driven to promote to the best of their abilities the welfare of the laggard many.
  3. 3. To Mobilize and Transform • Critical-Utopian • Understanding-Empathetic
  4. 4. Continuum of Control Social Control (democratic, local, popular, state?) to Capitalist Control (corporations, state, financial)
  5. 5. Iraq- Neoliberalism • Privatize economy • Allow foreign investment • Free trade • Allow repatriation of profits • Flat tax
  6. 6. Neoliberalism • No more “outside” to capitalism - no more communism, or trade union movement • Capitalism becomes the sovereign • Neoliberal subjectivity - the competitive commodified self • Chile 1973 to Iraq 2003 - 30 years of building this kind of state-person combination - Where did it come from?
  7. 7. What is Capitalism? • “accumulation for accumulation’s sake, production for production’s sake – Marx Capital • 1750 Sheffield steel works
  8. 8. What is Capitalism? • Means of production owned by minority – Investment • Wage Labor • Primitive Accumulation • Investment innovation - Finance capital Markets Amsterdam stock exchange
  9. 9. What is Capitalism? • Is the US unique? – Mobility, cultural egalitarianism, immigration, popular sovereignty • Ethos – sensibility, social imaginary, spirit of capitalism rationalization-differentiation, freedom, individuality
  10. 10. 3 moments - 3 theories • Classical (anarchic?) Capitalism – Adam Smith • Managed Capitalism – John Maynard Keynes • Neoliberal Capitalism – Fredrich Hayek, Milton Friedman
  11. 11. Capitalism Growth and Crisis • Why expanding system? – Competition between capitalists – Logic of investment • Where to invest surplus? Barriers? – Labor – Markets – Materials – Financial mobility • Crisis - 1848,1929, 1973, 2008 – System stops - surplus of labor and capital side by side – Lack of wealth in motion – So move it around find new investment opportunities
  12. 12. Mountaintop coal mining at Hale Gap, VA. Can it Go Forever?
  13. 13. Keynesianism (popular control or capitalist survival?) • Depression • Labor Movement • Public expenditures • WWII - nationalized economy • Women in the labor force • After War - how to absorb surplus? – Armament race, imperialism, public spending, marshall plan – Urban crisis
  14. 14. 1970s - Fall of Keynesianism • 1950s 60s von Hayek - ignored • But 1973 crash • Extra petrol dollars, dollar off gold standard • Seen as opportunity for class revitalization and neoliberal practices • New York – Financial take over
  15. 15. Neoliberal State • Human Welfare reliant on private property and free trade • Labor • Markets - Loans, IMF • Growth of Finance Capital
  16. 16. Class project? • Concentration of Wealth – 1970s top 1% got 7-8% of income – 2000 they got 16% • Accident? – Right wing NGOs - moral majority – Take over of Republican party • Money from Where? – Dispossession – Privatization – Financial expansion
  17. 17. Do we like it? • Logic - competition vs cooperation • History – Disparity of wealth – Poverty/ life expectancy • Subjectivity
  18. 18. Ethics/ Effects of Neoliberalism • Inflation adjusted percentage increase in after-tax household income for the top 1% and the four quintiles, between 1979 and 2005 (gains by top 1% are are reflected by bottom bar; bottom quintile by top bar) "Aron-Dine, A. & Sherman, A. (January 23, 2007). New CBO Data Show Income Inequality Continues to Widen: After-tax- income for Top 1 Percent Rose by $146,000 in 2004."
  19. 19. But…
  20. 20. Who Decides? • Ethos- subjectivity • Control over the surplus • Form of economic relationships

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