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Nov-04-2011 12:13printcomments

Treating capitalism as the social evil it is

Our raison d’être since our inception has always been to stand up for human rights, for fairness and against injustice—no matter the race, religion, gender or creed. This is the exact opposite of what capitalism stands for.

Robert Clive after the Battle of Plassey
Robert Clive after the Battle of Plassey, which began East India Company rule in India in 1757. (Courtesy Wikipedia)

(CALGARY, Alberta) - Epiphany: noun: “a sudden, intuitive perception of or insight into the reality or essential meaning of something, usually initiated by some simple, homely, or commonplace occurrence or experience.”

Propaganda: noun: “information, ideas, or rumours deliberately spread widely to help or harm a person, group, movement, institution, nation, etc.

I've never been a believer in conspiracies until—in an epiphany—now.

There are three basic ways to control a population: (1) force and violence; (2) divide and conquer; and (3) propaganda. The latter two have been in common use in America for the last century or so. Now, with the OWS movement, force and violence are increasingly being implemented against citizens, adding a divide and conquer strategy as citizens (police) battle against fellow citizens. No one has been killed, yet, but it’s virtually inevitable.

Now we have a person who posts as both Anonymous and “Mark”. First he quotes from the actual Salem-News article:

"The 18% unemployment that young people now face, the crippling student loans and credit card debt that puts them into indentured servitude to the banks before they're even out of school, the bleak future as a Starbucks barista living on their parents' couch, the constant redistribution of wealth out of their pockets and into those of the one percent -- in short the very factors that have driven #OWS residents into these modern Hoovervilles -- were all prophesied in the WTO protests of 1999, the progenitor of the Occupy Wall Street movement."

Then he adds his own comment:

Hey, Obama took over the student loans from the banks, dig? Now it is us taxpayers holding the bag for the irresponsible students who did not prepare themselves with job market skills...they brought it all on themselves, and frankly tough shit, I don't want to pay anymore for these morons. Hopefully they are going to get deadly violent with the police and then their worries, but mostly us taxpayers will be over.

My first observation is that, if this person hates a class of his fellow Americans, it’s clear that, by extension, he hates America.

Second, education has always been the road to upward mobility, to the American Dream. So, in this person’s view, people who have tried to better themselves by getting more education are “morons”?

Let’s explore the education theme a little further before going on to our main theme.

Susan (her real name), has been flying for a regional airline for four years (as of 2009). She had wracked up about $100,000 in student loan in order to get her pilot’s license. (As Bugs Bunny used to say: What a maroon!) She makes just over $20k/year and says that “…by the time I pay it back at this rate it’ll probably cost me well over half a million dollars with interest and fees and penalties.

Then, there’s Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger who successfully ditched his plane on the Hudson River in New York, saving the lives of 155 people on board. He was lionized and, among other honours, invited to speak to Congress where he said:

Flying has been the passion of my life, but while I love my profession, I do not like what has happened to it. It’s my personal experience that my decision to remain in the profession I love has come at great financial cost to me and my family. My pay has been cut 40%, my pension, like most airline pensions has been terminated, so please do not think I exaggerate when I say that I do not know a single professional airline pilot who wants his or her children to follow in their footsteps.”

He probably does not expect to be invited back.

Chesley Sullenberger (Courtesy Wikipedia)

William Black, (U of Missouri, KC) is an Associate professor of economics and law. He asks:

Where do we send our top math and science people? Into finance, they don’t go into science in America, they go to Wall Street. They’ve taken people that could be enormously productive, that’s what we’re short of in America and we take ‘em and we put ‘em in an activity that isn’t simply less productive, but where they’re actually destructive, where they actually, every day they work, they make the world worse.”

Our commenter, above, has fallen victim to #3 where he has been divided from his fellow citizens and conquered by the rich who have their own agenda, apparently unbeknownst to him. He is even leaning to #1 where he advocates violence against his fellow citizens.

He is far from alone in his pathology, as millions of Americans have been duped by propaganda into believing that citizens who don’t agree with the propaganda-induced paranoia are evil people. One commenter on my previous article wrote: “… scum of the earth, may you all join lucifer (sic) real soon

The real conspiracy!

There have always been conspiracies of the rich against everyone else—even Adam Smith noticed it:

People of the same trade seldom meet together,” he wrote, even for merriment and diversion, but the conversation ends in a conspiracy against the public…

Father Peter Dougherty has been a priest for 45 years. He calls capitalism “immoral, it is obscene, it is outrageous, it is really radical evil, it’s radically evil,” and going on to point out that

Capitalism has got built into it what we call propaganda. I’m in awe of propaganda. The ability to convince people who are victimized by the very system to support the system and see it as a good.”

I see this every day in the comments that some people make as they try to defend the indefensible. Such people I refer to as True Believers—people with psychological blinders who have been told or persuaded what to believe by their masters and are unwilling or unable to consider the possibility of any alternatives.

Psychologically, they are like “flat-earth” people—no amount of evidence or argument will ever change their minds until they, too, reach an epiphany—a paradigm shift of seismic proportions.

One paradigm shift would be an understanding that individuality and individual effort and gain are false chimeras. Adam Smith also noticed this. An ordinary, coarse woollen coat, he wrote

which covers the day-labourer, as coarse and rough as it may appear, is the produce of the joint labour of a multitude of workmen. The shepherd, the sorter of the wool, the wool-comber or carder, the dyer, the scribbler, the spinner, the weaver, the fuller, the dresser, with many others, must all join their different arts in order to complete even this homely production. How many merchants and carriers, besides, must have been employed in transporting the materials from some of those workmen to others who often live in a very distant part of the country! How much commerce and navigation, in particular, how many ship-builders, sailors, ropemakers, must have been employed in order to bring together the different drugs made use of by the dyer, which often come from the remotest corners of the world! What a variety of labour too is necessary in order to produce the tools of the meanest of those workman! To say nothing of such complicated machines as the ship of the sailor, the mill of the fuller, or even the loom of the weaver, let us consider only what a variety of labour is requisite in order to form that very simple machine, the shears with which the shepherd clips the wool.

In modern times, wrote economist John Kenneth Galbraith: “The real accomplishment of modern science and technology consists in taking ordinary men, informing them narrowly and deeply and then, through appropriate organization, arranging to have their knowledge combined with that of other specialized but equally ordinary men. This dispenses with the need for genius. The resulting performance, though less inspiring, is far more predictable. No individual genius arranged the flights to the moon. It was the work of organization—bureaucracy. And the men walking on the moon and contemplating their return could be glad it was so.”

But Adam Smith would have even greater lessons for today wrote Galbraith:

It is too bad that a visit by Adam Smith cannot be arranged to some forthcoming meeting of the United States Chamber of Commerce, the National Association of Manufacturers, the first merged meeting of the two or a gathering of the Confederation of British Industries. He would be astonished to hear heads of great corporations—or great conglomerates or combines—proclaiming their economic virtue in his name. They, in their turn, would be appalled when he—of all prophets—told them their enterprises should not exist.

But the propaganda (also colloquially called Kool-aid) still practices the divide and conquer strategy by duping people into believing that they can somehow succeed with no aid, support or cooperation necessary from their fellow citizens.

Stanford I. Weill has long been a Wall Street titan. He said:

People can look at the last twenty-five years and say that this is an incredibly unique period of time. We didn’t rely on somebody else to build what we built.”

Sanford I. Weill (Courtesy Wikipedia)

Is he actually that deluded or is he just propagandizing for the benefit of the little people who uncritically accept whatever the masters say?

Following Smith’s example, we notice that in order to get to the office every day by auto, Weill depended on a host of inventions and developments from before he was even born (1933). Ditto for a host of people that gave him telephones and airplanes to fly to distant locations on business, and all the computers and electronics he depended on to manage his daily business—not to overlook those who invented and developed the stock exchange itself where he “earned”, his billions with no reliance on anyone else. LOL

Senator Phil Gramm (former vice-chair UBS Investment Bank) in speaking to Congress said, “When I’m on Wall Street and I realize that that’s the very nerve centre of American capitalism and I realize what capitalism has done for working people in America, to me that’s a holy place.”

Indeed, what has capitalism done for working people in America?

From 1980-2000:

  • worker productivity rose by 45%, working people’s wages rose 1%
  • Household debt, up 111%, nearly equalling the GDP
  • Bankruptcies up 610%
  • Incarcerations up 355%
  • anti-depressant sales up 305%
  • healthcare costs up 78%
  • Dow Jones up 1,371%
  • Ratio of CEO pay to workers up 649%

Certainly it is a “holy” place to Gramm, but to a working American who is aware of what capitalism has done and continues to do, the place is clearly unholy!

Phil Gramm (Courtesy Wikipedia)

America is the most anti-union country in the developed world. This, too, is part of the propaganda that people have been induced to swallow—that they are better off on their own, rather than working with others. Divided and conquered.

Let’s consider a couple of counter examples.

In December 2008, the Bank of America declined to renew the credit line of Republic Windows and Doors in Chicago. The result was that Republic laid off all their unionized employees, more than 250 of them—with two days notice and no pay—no one was paid anything owed to them—no severance, no holiday pay, no benefits. Zero. Zilch. Nada.

But the employees had a better idea. They decided to occupy the plant and vowed not to leave until their fair and just demands were met. One protesting employee said: “We understand that perhaps some bad business deals were made, but guess what, we don’t make business deals. We make windows and doors. Why should we be punished?”

During the occupation Bishop James Wilkowski arrived at the plant and said:

I know that you are undergoing a great trial. Your are teaching to our young people that it is just to challenge that which is unfair. I grew up on the far southeast side of Chicago and I saw what happened when all the steel mills disappeared. And I saw the impact it had on families. But this time, we are with you and we will not abandon you.

After six days, the Bank of America caved and met all the worker’s demands. A worker made the announcement to his fellows that the average payout to everyone was going to be just under $6,000. He said:

“But this is more than just about money. It’s about what can be achieved when workers organize and stand up for justice.”

Then there’s the Trody family of Miami who were evicted from their home and had to resort to living in the back of a van. Then the Trody neighbours banded together and helped Trody’s moved back into their house. A man from the bank arrived shortly after to re-evict them and when they wouldn’t budge, called the police. Nine police cars arrived.

The Capitalist Pyramid--IWW poster, 1911 (Courtesy Wikipedia)

After confrontations and heckling from the people, the bank rep and all the police left. Eight months later the bank gave up trying to reclaim the house and the family lives there still.

America was founded on revolution and these types of people should be hailed as heroes. Instead of revolting against what they believed to be an unjust tax, they revolted against an unjust and unfair system.

"The salient feature of the current financial crisis is that it was not caused by some external shock,” says the hedge fund billionaire George Soros, “the crisis was generated by the system itself.

Conclusion and the updated Salem-News editorial policy

Chris Hedges, a former New York Times reporter said to Michael Moore in his movie Capitalism: A love story:

Chris Hedges (Courtesy Wikipedia)

Unfettered or unregulated capitalism is about societies that cannibalize themselves. When capitalism is the dominant ideology and as Marx understood it’s a revolutionary ideology, it turns everything into a commodity, including human beings and of course natural resources and it exploits these commodities until they are exhausted and they are destroyed and that is precisely what has happened."

In this vein, the policy of Salem-News is to no longer support what Hedges called “ruthless totalitarian capitalism.” While we do not publish any articles in that vein, we will now no longer even publish any comments that attempt to defend the indefensible. We won’t even acknowledge your comments.

There is no point in crying about your rights under the First Amendment. Those only apply to the government. We are a private enterprise. Just as you know you would be wasting your time in trying to force your local paper to print your letter to the editor, so neither can we be forced.

Our raison d’être since our inception has always been to stand up for human rights, for fairness and against injustice—no matter the race, religion, gender or creed. This is the exact opposite of what capitalism stands for.


Born and raised in Calgary, Alberta, Daniel Johnson as a teenager aspired to be a writer. Always a voracious reader, he reads more books in a month than many people read in a lifetime. He also reads 100+ online articles per week. He knew early that in order to be a writer, you have to be a reader.

He has always been concerned about fairness in the world and the plight of the underprivileged/underdog.

As a professional writer he sold his first paid article in 1974 and, while employed at other jobs, started selling a few pieces in assorted places.

Over the next 15 years, Daniel eked out a living as a writer doing, among other things, national writing and both radio and TV broadcasting for the CBC, Maclean’s (the national newsmagazine) and a wide variety of smaller publications. Interweaved throughout this period was soul-killing corporate and public relations writing.

It was through the 1960s and 1970s that he got his university experience. In his first year at the University of Calgary, he majored in psychology/mathematics; in his second year he switched to physics/mathematics. He then learned of an independent study program at the University of Lethbridge where he attended the next two years, studying philosophy and economics. In the end he attended university over nine years (four full time) but never qualified for a degree because he didn't have the right number of courses in any particular field.

In 1990 he published his first (and so far, only) book: Practical History: A guide to Will and Ariel Durant’s “The Story of Civilization” (Polymath Press, Calgary)

Newly appointed as the Deputy Executive Editor in August 2011, he has been writing exclusively for Salem-News.com since March 2009 and, as of summer 2011, has published more than 160 stories.

View articles written by Daniel Johnson

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Anonymous November 9, 2011 11:53 am (Pacific time)

DJ: "If, in the 17th century, a poll was taken asking people whether they thought the earth was flat or a globe, the globe people would have been overwhelmingly defeated." Well we certainly know that those ancestors of mine knew what was going on and got on those ships to sail to all points west. Suffice, considering a genetic component was transmitted to future generations, we have an informed pollster asking properly/scientifically constructed poll questions. Generally polls are simply a snapshot at that moment, but over time we have a trend. The Occupy movement has been attracting both hardcore anarchists and street criminals. There is never going to be a movement until they realize that it is only through the ballot box that they will be able to change anything in our system, and what they want to change will be interesting to see exactly how that would be worded on a ballot. They will slowly dissolve and continue to harden negative opinions on them by the masses. They should go look for employment, there are jobs out there if you really want to go off the public dime, but lazy people have no desire for independence. In 2013 we will send buses to take them to the re-education camps.

 I know there are criminals involved because I have it on good authority that Charles Manson was seen at the Oakland site.

 I'm a little fuzzy on American history, but is it true the colonists in 1776 became independent of Britain by holding a referendum?

Re-education camps? Stalin will be spinning in his grave. 

Anonymous November 7, 2011 10:59 am (Pacific time)

It may be interesting to revisit the below pollster's website in a few weeks to see how the Occupy Movement is trending regarding favorable/unfavorable opinions. As violence continues to tick up, my guess is that it won't just be winter weather adversely impacting the 99%, or whatever the real % is that they  represent? "36% Say Wall Street Protesters Represent Views of Mainstream America,44%Disagree." http://www.rasmussenreports.com/public_content/politics/general_politics/november_2011/36_say_wall_street_protesters_represent_views_of_mainstream_america_44disagree

 Opinions of the masses don't really count for much. If, in the 17th century, a poll was taken asking people whether they thought the earth was flat or a globe, the globe people would have been overwhelmingly defeated. The occupy movement will be judged on effective results, not what ill-informed people think of it.

Anonymous November 6, 2011 6:34 pm (Pacific time)

Daniel I like Bernie Sanders, he is the type of individual who provides proof positive why our system of government works better than any other government on the planet. Have you ever had the opprotunity to plug in to not just small town America, but even our larger cities? We are constantly paying respect to all of our citizens; far more than the super rich which seems the stereotype you have. Maybe if you spent some time in the states and saw for yourself rather than read what others say, who have their agendas usually not too friendly with reality, for they too most likely never get out into the heartland. America is doing fine, and we will resolve the current problems. We have had far more severe difficulties to deal with. Of course getting a change in at the Whitehouse is a must, for if not:

My predictions:
1. Impose 80,000 pages of regulations on business so they can’t expand or hire. DONE
2. Get the people that are out of work to protest and/or riot. DONE
3. Have the police put pressure on the demonstrators and try and break them up and make them madder. DONE
4. When the police can’t handle the problem, call out the National Guard. YET TO BE DONE
5. When the National Guard can’t handle the problem, impose Marshal Law. YET TO BE DONE
6. When Marshal Law is imposed, the people lose all their rights as long as it is enforced. YET TO BE DONE

In my opinion, this is where we are heading under our great leader. It won’t be by accident either, unless he is shut down.
He will be removed, and prosecuted, hope you are around in about 2 years.

 I think it's time to upgrade Lincoln. In a democracy, all you have to do it fool enough of the people all of the time. That's the current situation. There's the American Dream and the American Illusion. You're in the illusion. I'll requote from the article:

From 1980-2000:

  • worker productivity rose by 45%, working people’s wages rose 1% 
  • Household debt, up 111%, nearly equalling the GDP 
  • Bankruptcies up 610% 
  • Incarcerations up 355% 
  • anti-depressant sales up 305% 
  • healthcare costs up 78% 
  • Dow Jones up 1,371% 
  • Ratio of CEO pay to workers up 649% 

Greatest government on the planet?  

And, btw, that's Martial law, not Marshall law.  You're welcome! 

COLLI November 6, 2011 6:19 pm (Pacific time)

Why do you avoid addressing the real problem i.e. the entities behing the off-course evil you rail against . . . the disease rather than the symptom? Yes, to name names is quite dangerous but until you do you will accomplish little to derail the train full of explosives heading for that brick wall. You are most certainly on the right track but slightly off target and remember, a miss is as good as a mile!

There are deeper issues at stake, here, where the names are largely irrelevant. Hope to get it out in the next week or so. 

Douglas Benson November 6, 2011 8:29 am (Pacific time)

Oops ,I seem to have gotten the wrong group .It was the deacons for defense and justice that armed themselves . Peace

Anonymous November 6, 2011 11:04 am (Pacific time)

Ask any occupy protesters you meet, and you’ll likely hear the usual talking points: “We’re the 99% and we need to let our voices be heard;” “The government only represents the top 1% and ignores the rest of us.” The rhetoric is designed to create a sense of victimization, and to a certain point, it is effective. But then ask your local occupy protester some very basic questions about our representative government and you’ll  likely find that the discussion falls apart. Simple questions, like “who has been elected to represent you in your state legislature?,” or “Who is the Mayor of your city?,” or “Who are your U.S. Senators?” will likely take the conversation over a cliff. And if naming their elected officials isn’t sufficiently challenging, try asking your occupy protester “How does legislation get created?,” and then prepare for a very dismissive, if not angry response. The point here is that the occupy protesters can scarcely tell you anything about the design and functioning of our American representative governmental system, yet they are nonetheless quite sure that it has “failed.” And whether they realize it or not, they are pushing for something on the order of a “direct democracy,” a system of government that the world mostly rejected several centuries ago in favor of representational government.

The lessons of history don’t matter to the occupy protesters. And their lessons in basic American civics – if indeed they ever learned basic American civics – don’t matter either. They want what they want, whether it fits with the U.S. Constitution or not. Thus we have a “movement” that has brought about costly damages to both private and public property – and multiple instances of sexual assault, public urinating and defecating, and allegations of rape. And it’s all for the cause of – what? – abandoning our Constitutional form of government?

Indeed, it is “unprecedented” for a U.S. President to align himself with this type of anti-constitutional movement. How much longer will America remain aligned with him? Does anyone else see a problem with a President who encourages mob violence, or is it just me?

You haven't figured it out yet, have you?. Your constitutional form of government has imploded. It no longer works. You have, instead, what Warren Buffet calls "a billionaire-friendly Congress". Or, as Nobel economist Joseph Stiglitz recently wrote:

 "Virtually all U.S. senators, and most of the representatives in the House, are members of the top 1 percent when they arrive, are kept in office by money from the top 1 percent, and know that if they serve the top 1 percent well they will be rewarded by the top 1 percent when they leave office. By and large, the key executive-branch policymakers on trade and economic policy also come from the top 1 percent. When pharmaceutical companies receive a trillion-dollar gift—through legislation prohibiting the government, the largest buyer of drugs, from bargaining over price—it should not come as cause for wonder. It should not make jaws drop that a tax bill cannot emerge from Congress unless big tax cuts are put in place for the wealthy. Given the power of the top 1 percent, this is the way you would expect the system to work."

Of course the Occupy movement sounds disorganized. That's because there are so many things wrong with the U.S, and its government, that it will take a bit of time for them to get a focus. But they will. 

Mike November 6, 2011 10:40 am (Pacific time)

For those of you who advocate for a replacement of our form of government, that will not happen any time soon. Look at local news stories on the OWS movement below. Capitalism, the free market, socialism, communism, and any other "ism du jour" can be found in America on a micro level, but our form of Constitutional Republican government will not even come close to be challenged by the current movement. The political situation in America is certainly strained and divisive, but the super majorty are all on the same page when it comes to assuring that nothing changes our form of government. If the Harper government came to power because of "default", then just what does that mean in the final analysis? Daniel, maybe you could provide your definition of socialism and how your interpretation works within an economy that recognizes merit and talent reagarding societal rewards?
#OccupyWallStreet: The Rap Sheet, So Far ( At link, just click on the 151 (and growing) links that go to news

organizations in regional areas of stories) : http://biggovernment.com/jjmnolte/2011/10/28/occupywallstreet-the-rap-sheet-so-far/

 Here's Bernie Sanders, Senator from Vermont who calls himself a “democratic socialist”. What does that mean? He says: “The function of government is to represent middle-income and working people rather than just the wealthy and the powerful. You know, one of the things we have done here is we have become very religious in worshipping greed. We put on the front pages of magazines guys who have made billions of dollars, we ignore the cops, the firemen, the teachers, the nurses who every day are doing so much in improving the lives of people. We have to change our value system.” 

Anything wrong with that? 

Anonymous November 6, 2011 9:11 am (Pacific time)

So Dan are the Canadian people also politically illiterate by voting in conservative leadership? As far as your suggestion: "Socialism can work and there are lots of examples of it." Could you provide some examples? Regarding Marx/Engels, I am amazed at how people have so many interpretations of their writings, and what happened in the USSR, Cuba, and some other 3rd world locations. But then again, opinions are a dime a dozen, but recounting actual historical facts is when we expose the ignorance and agenda of those ethically challenged.

Here in Canada we currently have and have previously elected socialist governments. As for elected conservatives--Harper got his majority by default, because the Liberal party self-destructed. We don't have black and white politics like Americans. Lots of variety across the political spectrum.

I know that interpreting Marx can be like interpreting the bible but Marx did predict communism in Germany first and Russia was a de facto feudal society until only a generation or two before the Revolution. If you have alternate facts, I'd like to hear them.

Douglas Benson November 6, 2011 4:32 am (Pacific time)

I find it kind of funny that Dan is now supporting the disobeyers .We are watching history repeat itself again ,welcome back to the 30s and 40s. The powerfull have been chipping away at the new deal for a long time while we slept . Now the giant is again stirring as it becomes clear that we are all in the same boat and being played for suckers . We have squandered what was paid for in blood sweat and tears by our lack of vigillance . Now we start all over again with a new movement and its going to get bumpy . I would also like to point out that AZ isnt assaulting protesters ,guess why? It might have a little something to do with the trained millitia group armed with AR 15s .Its a sad state of affairs when the only citizens willing to protect and defend our constitutional rights are a bunch of neo-nazi's . The thugs with a badge are fine with crushing dissent when they cant fight back. Its a whole new ball game when liberty has teeth . Ask the freedom riders how many racist pigs were willing to die to protect segregation . Im out .

COLLI November 5, 2011 3:52 pm (Pacific time)

Russia tried the method Marx recommended and it lasted what . . . 75 years? It ended that relatively short run with insufficient food for the people on store shelves to be purchased at any price, a monetary system that was in the toilet, and an extremely fragmented country. We are headed the same way right now. So, it appears that the paths of Communism and Capitalism eventually arrive in the same toilet. I still say that you are spending far too much time examining that loaded gun laying on the table and virtually no time at all examining the mental and moral stability of the people around that table with the craxed look in their eyes. That gun, of it's own accord, lie there for infinity and never harm anyone or anything but put it in the hands of someone with no morals, ethics, or mental stability and it at once becomes destructive. You are completely ignoring the human element in the equation and based your obvious research skills you could do that aspect of this theme considerably more than fair justice. We actually have more than one human aspect that needs researching: The maniac with the crazed eyes who would grab the loaded gun and the other people around that table (those making the Baa-Baa noises) who never lift a finger to stop him from picking up the gun. Now that research would be far more meaningful if truly trying to get to the source of the problem and potentially find what needs to be done to resolve it.

Calling Russia a communist state is part of the propaganda that the capitalists started peddling in the 1920s. Any sign of workers cooperating or working together in the 1930s was ruthlessly condemned as a step towards communism. The American people then, and still, are not very politically aware. Recall when Obama ran for office. He told "Joe the plumber" that he just thought that wealth should be spread around a bit more fairly. He was vilified as a socialist. This political ignorance is behind most people's hatred and fear of unions. Set up a union and the next steps are socialism and communism--Just like in Russia. And people eat it up with a spoon.

Communism, in the Marxian sense, is a revolution of people from the bottom up. That's why Marx predicted it first for Germany. Russia, on the other hand, was a totalitarian dictatorship from the outset. The population of Russia had been feudal serfs only a generation or two before. The people were politically illiterate and their experience for centuries was to be ruled, so the change from TSar to Lenin/Stalin reflected the later Who song, "Meet the new boss, same as the old boss." Socialism can work and there are lots of examples of it. But it requires a politically educated population. People are not, by nature, democratic in inclination. 

Tariq Khan November 5, 2011 3:08 pm (Pacific time)

Thank you Daniel for your reply. I did read "Free Market Fallacy" when it was published. It is an excellent piece. I was merely trying to make a distinction between "state capitalism" which is what we have today in all Western world and "Capitalism" which does not exist. When I criticised "government", I did not mean that it has a role. It does but a limited one. Governments should arbitrate disputes between citizens (but not make laws to give privilege to one class of citizens over the other), it should protect us both from aggression by maintaining a suitable military to defend its territories from outsiders and police force to deal with violent aggressors from within. And that's it. That is the role of government. Anonymous001 - honest governments and honest companies are not possible without "honest money". Governments don't have money of their own, so they have to get it. They get it by taxing us or borrowing. It does its borrowing through central banks which were created specifically for this purpose. There is a limit to raising money in taxes. So governments borrow which effectively is taxing future generations except the vast majority of people don't realise it. Not only that but they also fix the cost of their borrowing, thus making it cheap for them to borrow. Governments would not have to borrow if the projects that they undertake were popular, we would be willing to pay for them. Consider wars, if the government said we are going to invade so and so and we will have to raise your taxes for it, how long do you think that would government would last. They will instead borrow and then use its puppets in the media to convince us that war is necessary and we go along with it because we are not paying for it, or so we think. This is the system now all facilitated by central banks, private banks and large corporations who all stand to benefit enormously out of all of this. Since the government, or its central banks, fix the cost of borrowing, usually in their favour, there can be no free market. Private entrepreneurs when given the choice of financing between the private equity markets, where they will have to share the profits and dilute their own holding, or borrowing from banks at a fixed and low interest rate (deliberately fixed below what the free market would dictate), they would opt for the latter. It is natural but it also encourages mal-investment, so projects are undertaken that would never have been profitable at the true free market cost of capital. We see a boom in the economy fuelled by cheap money and then a bust when these projects fail to deliver. All markets are now manipulated if not completely rigged. Equity markets would have collapsed in 2008 if the FED hadn't pumped money into the market through its agent banks. The price of gold and silver would have sky rocketed and the dollar would have collapsed by now. Governments have borrowed so much money that what we call money today has become debt and the only way to maintain this debt is to have even more debt. It's a ponzi scheme that is collapsing around us. As I said it is a rigged game, there is no free market around us. This game will continue and suck the life out of all western economies as long as the fractional reserve banking and by extension the lender of last resort, the central bank, exists. This is what the founding fathers warned us about when they drew up the constitution.

Anonymous001 November 5, 2011 12:17 pm (Pacific time)

Dan, I have reasons for not using my name. At least I am not making up a name, eh? You are asserting the capitalism is a social evil, yet you have provided no named alternative.

You have not defined what is specifically evil about the system of economics commonly called "capitalism" yet espouse that there is something superior. You intimate that there is something "superior" to it, yet leave your readers to guess what the Utopian system is.

I am not trying to harangue you, but to make sure that you understand that you confuse even reasonably well-educated readers with what you are writing. Could we say that the government's role in the markets has failed?

David Korten wrote: "My claim is that we do not have a market economy, but a capitalist economy. Capitalism and the market are presented as synonymous, but they are not. Capitalism is both the enemy of the market and democracy. Capitalism is not about free competitive choices among people who are reasonable equal in their buying and selling of economic power. It is about concentrating capital, concentrating economic power in very few hands, using that power to trash everyone who gets in their way. … This is not a market, and definitely not a democracy. The basic principle of democracy is "one person one vote" and and in the capitalistic society, we have "one dollar one vote." [Who is David Korten? See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_Korten]

Michael Lerner wrote in The Politics of Meaning, "Corporations care very much about maintaining the myth that government is necessarily ineffective, except when it is spending money on the military-industrial complex, building prisons, or providing infrastructural support for the business sector."

Now, if you adopted these viewpoint, that capitalism is about the concentration of welath in a few hands and that big business strives to demolish government controls except when it directly benefits business, then I think most would agree with you that "it" , i.e., capitalism, presents a social evil.

However, most people take the most basic root of capitalism to mean: "It is generally defined as the economic system where the means of production are privately owned, operated for profit from investment, and in competitive markets." [See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Capitalism]

Under this simplistic definition, what is damning about it? Do YOU think that government should be in control of the means of production? Do YOU think that investments should not be directed towards profitable enterprises?

If you read the Wikipedia page listed about on "Capitalism", it points toward the U.S. and Canada as being "Social market economies". Indeed, I don't think you could find ANY economic system existing on earth today that is not contained within the various types of "capitalism" as provided on that page.

I assert, and not meant to be a personal attack, that your understanding of what you are writing needs further refinement.

You seem to be the only person stumbling over my point. My article on "Why Occupy Wall Street" fell into the hands of a very senior business writer who, after he read it, sent me an email: "This is the closest yet I have come to understanding what the OWS is all about. Thanks for writing it." I don't use his name to protect his privacy, but you would know the name if I dropped it. I'm working on a piece which should be out next week which will tie some of the themes I've been developing, into a meta-theme. 

Anonymous001 November 5, 2011 10:49 am (Pacific time)

Dan, you can't just use your own disjointed writing over and over as support when challenged. At some point, you might need to find contemporaneous sources and maybe even interview some experts in the field.

If there is something specific you don't understand or agree with, say so. If you find my writing "disjointed" I suggest it is your own intellectual limitation. If you used a real name in your posts, I might feel a little more charitable towards you. 

Anonymous001 November 5, 2011 9:20 am (Pacific time)

I am not pretending anything, Dan. I am asking questions in order that you help clarify the record of what you mean to be saying. Think "Socrates".

 See ”Why Occupy Wall Street” for a detailed explanation.

Anonymous001 November 5, 2011 9:17 am (Pacific time)

Dan, the issues that are destroying us relates to the Gigantic Ponzi schemes that has taken over the U.S. government spend (borrow) and eventually tax. It is THAT consumption along with the bankers ability to LEND other money that should never have existed that is at the heart of our current economic collapse. Had the government remained under control and had banks not sold us out in order to "create" the facade of an ever-expanding GDP, we would still be seen as the greatest economy ever. [Don't get me started on the shifting of our national resources to the China, the socialistic-communistic entity that we should be fighting to assure its eventual demise as an economic system rather than propping up...] So, while you rail against a boogeyman that is really not as inefficient as you proffer it to be, can't you agree that it allowed the for the improvement of the U.S. for centuries? "These are not the droids you're after..."

Anonymous001 November 5, 2011 8:22 am (Pacific time)

DAn, so what you are admitting is that the system of capitalism that we experience in the U.S., i,e., the one you are railing against, is not really capitalism, since it is devoid of existing in a free market?

Are you just pretending you don't understand?  See my reply to Colli, below.

COLLI November 5, 2011 3:47 am (Pacific time)

It is not Capitalism itself that is evil as it is simply an economic methodology and not an entity. When corrupt individuals such as the huge International Banking conglomorates that own and run The Federal Reserve and Wall Street gain control, we should not expect that they are looking out for our best interests. Quite the contrary, we are viewed as cash-cows to be milked dry at every opportunity. I hear where you are coming from Dan but I think you are just a bit off target. Delve deeper to see who and what is behind the Federal Reserve (who sets our economic policy), Wall Street (the actual milker), and our politicians (from both parties via re-election campaign contributions and donations to both political parties).
Yes Dan, it certainly appears that Capitalism is the great evil but in and of itself it is not. Examine the people and entities aiming the gun . . . not the gun itself! Colli

 I see your point, but you haven't looked deeply enough yourself. Marx pointed out the evil of capitalism when he said: "Everything which the economist takes from you in the way of life and humanity, he restores to you in the form of money and wealth.” (Marx’s emphasis) Capitalism is evil because it is not an economic methodology, but it is a philosophy behind economic activity where everything is commodified, including human beings. As Chris Hedges describes the reality:

“Unfettered or unregulated capitalism is about societies that cannibalize themselves. When capitalism is the dominant ideology and as Marx understood, it’s a revolutionary ideology, it turns everything into a commodity, including human beings and of course natural resources and it exploits these commodities until they are exhausted and they are destroyed and that is precisely what has happened. We have allowed all of the restraints that were never heavy enough in a capitalist system, to be lifted and built into capitalism is a self-destructive quality, a form of self-annihilation and that is what we are undergoing at this moment. It’s a form of collective suicide in a way, because the ramifications of this economic collapse are going to be played out far beyond the economic sphere. It’s going to deeply disrupt the social, cultural as well as the economic life of ordinary Americans.

Our children, and certainly our grandchildren are going to face a world that we cannot really imagine right now, but it's going to be horrific, all because we have followed the path of capitalism and everyone who has been a naysayer through the decades as been marginalized. One of the worst people for the human race was Ronald Reagan who, in the service of the rich, really dug down and let capitalism's destructive aspects really dominate. He never lived to see the poisoned fruit of his work, but he will have visited a real horror on his grandchildren. 

I'm not being pessimistic or alarmist, but as you will see as I continue to develop this theme is coming articles, I'm describing an almost inevitable reality. I believe it can be headed off or perhaps ameliorated, but it's like the old nuclear Armageddon clock coming up to midnight. It's an earth-survivability clock and are up to the last few minutes.

Because capitalism is only concerned with commodities and consumption, it does not look ahead and even the rich are going to be roasted. Small justice, there.

  You should reread Why Occupy Wall Street to be reminded of how the rich foisted capitalism on everyone else for their own benefit alone. 

Anonymous001 November 4, 2011 11:37 pm (Pacific time)

Dan, you virtually have a degree in economics but cannot "define" what capitalism means? How about the role of finance? Can you give us anything to put your diatribe into perspective rather than have us feel that you see the only economic system that has flourished IN HISTORY as a boogeyman? Please?

Merriam-Webster describes capitalism as: an economic system characterized by private or corporate ownership of capital goods, by investments that are determined by private decision, and by prices, production, and the distribution of goods that are determined mainly by competition in a free market .  There is, of course, no free market, such being believed by most  to be a "system" that exists without external coercion by governments when, without a government,  there would be no market of any description.

Anonymous November 4, 2011 7:47 pm (Pacific time)

Actually, all this talk of "isms" is silly to its full extent. Whether capitolism, socialism, etc..it doesnt matter. What matters is the hearts of men. Any "ism" can be controlled by evil hearts. We are not in a battle of "isms" but a battle between good and evil.

Anonymous001 November 4, 2011 4:39 pm (Pacific time)

So you cannot define what it is that you rail against, and you cannot therefore define what its alternatives are... Yet you know how bad it is because, gosh darn it, it is just bad and evil. It seems this website would not exist and the fees generated by ads would not exist if it were not for that dastardly economic system. Tariq Khan - if we had an honest government and honest companies, would the system still be so bad?

Anonymous November 4, 2011 4:35 pm (Pacific time)

I, too, have watched Michael Moore's "Capitalism: A love story". I think it was misnamed and should have been "Not a love story" because there is no room for genuine humanity within the capitalist mind.

Let me add, as well, that capitalism and democracy, contrary to the prevailing propaganda, are NOT compatible. I paraphrase here, but one of the people he interviewed was Steve Moore (no relation) on the editorial board of the Wall Street Journal. Moore said that he didn't particularly believe in democracy and that capitalism was MORE important than democracy, acknowledging that you can have one or the other, but not both. On this point Michael Moore had commented somewhere through his documentary, that Americans worshipped freedom, but were willing to accept a dictatorship every day when they went in to work.

I agree with your assessment. For a little more background, you might find my ”Interview” with Adam Smith of interest.

Tariq Khan November 4, 2011 2:43 pm (Pacific time)

Powerful piece Daniel. Most of us have come to recognise much of what you say in this article. We are all experiencing an epiphany of a kind since the financial system tilted badly in 2008. But I think you need to distinguish "capitalism" from "state capitalism". The process Adam Smith described in the making of the coarse coat is capitalism at its best - producing things that we all need through voluntary social co-operation.

But whenever the government gets itself involved in this process it corrodes and corrupts this very essential fibre of economic activity - voluntary co-operation - and redirects productive capacity by force and coercion to the fulfilment of their own agenda. Politicians and governments then corrupt this process by granting legal privileges to a group of people that no one else enjoys - that is how banks have become so powerful that they control government and politicians. It was a privilege that was granted to them through the fractional reserve system in 1913 by the creation of the Federal Reserve and earlier in 1816 (Carr v Carr, I Think) by courts in England who allowed bankers to misappropriate depositors money for their own use.

We have now dishonest politicians being run by dishonest corporations all enabled and glued together through dishonest money, also created out of force, that we now call dollars, euros, pounds, yen, etc. Banking of course is not the only industry where this happened. One can add the armaments, power and utilities, agriculture, railroads, oil and gas, etc. to this list but by far the banking industry is the real cancer that runs through the body of capitalism.

Capital used to be our excess of production over consumption, i.e., our savings or put another way "a sacrifice of future consumption". Banks and governments have destroyed this notion of capitalism and have converted the system into a system of entitlements akin to socialism, but socialism where the wealth of the poor or middle classes is taken by force through the tax system and given to the rich, which are now euphemistically called "bail outs". The 1980 - 2000 statistics that you quote thus make sense in this context.

The solutions is actually quite simple although it will bring a lot of hardship in the short run. Let the banks fail - no more bail outs. Do away with the fractional reserve system and close the FED - no more QE or printing money. But sadly as is the nature of these things, the elite will do anything to preserve the system, even take us to all out to wars. This is to be expected. All we can do is become aware and find our own epiphany and wake up from the slumber. The greatest threat to the established order is the truth that they do everything they can to hide and suppress.

When Smith wrote, there was no such thing as capitalism,  he was referring to production with mercantilism. The term capialism was not coined  until the early 1850s

The role of government is important and your description of it is simply the way capitalists describe it to keep people thinking that capitalism is better and something they should be supporting. See my Free Market Fallacy

Anonymous001 November 4, 2011 2:19 pm (Pacific time)

If you are going to rail against a system of economics, could you first please define what it is?  Maybe provide the alternatives that exist?  Perhaps act as a reporter?  And I love the "new and improved" comment policy.  Thank you for putting blinders on all your readers from honest input from your readers.  Makes good sense in a world where thoughts and ideas are meant to broaden our minds.

Thee is no generally accepted definition of capitalism, so I didn't waste any time trying to give a precise definition. For a more generalized discussion See my Free Market Fallacy.  

Blinders? What that policy means is that we will not publish ad hominem attacks. Anyone who wants to post in defence of capitalism will also not be posted; there is no defending the indefensible. Otherwise, fair and thoughtful comments are always welcome. 

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