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The Cult of Market Based Economies

6:03 pm in Uncategorized by cmaukonen

Dear Capitalism - flickr

Imagine if you will a situation where nearly everything is produced locally and trade was used only when necessary.  Where money was used rarely, if at all and giving was normal rather than the exception, reserved only for some special occasion. When one’s status did not depend on one’s possessions.   Where getting something in return for what one gave – either of themselves or what they produced – was not an issue.   Where you engaged in an activity because you wanted to or you know and felt it was the right thing to do, NOT because you expected to make a profit on it. Sounds pretty good, doesn’t it. Well this is the kind of social interaction that was the the norm thousands of years ago in a vast number of areas. it’s as being done – to one extent or another – in various alternative communities.

Then why is is this such a hard sell ?  Why is it so difficult to convince people that there are much better ways on interacting socially and – for lack of a better term – economically.

Well I think I can come up with a few reasons.   For one our market driven capitalistic society and culture to a lot of people is indistinguishable from religion.  And is some cases even a cult. Where gainsaying anything about is is considered heresy.   And suggesting that it should be replace is like being the antichrist.   There are those who cannot even imagine or contemplate doing thing any differently and if asked why not, have no answer.

Why is this so. Well for one thing we are brainwashed – programmed – form a very early age to relate in this manner. That payment of some sort is required for everything we do. How many times have you heard , “You can have a cookie after you (do the dishes, clean your room, mow the lawn etc.)” Some parents even pay their children for getting good grades in school.  I knew one fellow I was in group counseling with where he had totally ingrained this into all his relationships – even with his mother – this type of impersonal business like relationship. He could not understand why he could not get anywhere with women. We told him he was not looking for a romantic realtionship, he was looking for a business partner.  We are not taught to share and give and create with out some sort of reward. Usually monetary.

We are taught from the get go that power and prestige come from possessions and in some cases how we acquire them is not as important as  how may we have and to worship those who have the most and look down on those who have the least. So in a lot of ways it is a cultish religion. Is it any wonder that those who question this and rebel against it are treated like 16th century heretics ?  We replaced feudalism with a system that is nearly as bad. The main difference of which is the we get to choose who our feudal lords will be.

Worst of all this market oriented capitalistic culture is detrimental to the earth and nearly every thing that lives on it.   It runs counter to out very nature. It’s why we have neurosis, and circulatory diseases and immune disorders among other things.  It breeds on and  is the cause of nearly every conflict.  And contrary to the propaganda that those who preach it say, it fosters mediocrity and stagnation of creativity, ingenuity and integrity.

It won’t be easy to change this by a long shot. Changing a mindset that has been programmed into us from the beginning is very difficult.   The first thing is to begin to change our own view. Our own mindset. Stop identifying with  the market oriented commercial world.   We have to deprogram ourselves like we just escaped an Jonestown type cult.

Stop thinking that everything has to have a price.   Learn to value rather than price.   Become a social and economic heretic. Learn to give and receive and create without monetary compensation.

Learn to be human again.


Richard Wolff – Super Star

2:37 pm in Uncategorized by cmaukonen

Karl Marx By Pryere - Flickr

I know a number of Firedoggers have been taking Richard Wolff’s online course on Marxist Economics that Southern Dragon has been directing here.  Though you would not know this from the MSM (no surprises here) but he has become a bit of a celebrity. And in some rather unusual circles as well. According to this piece from the Guardian.

For Wolff is in very high demand these days. Barely 24 hours goes by without Wolff being interviewed on one or more radio stations in America. He even has his own radio show that broadcasts once a week. He has appeared on TV, including on the conservative Glenn Beck show on Fox. He spends many days on the road visiting universities across the US, giving speeches to students and academics alike in lecture halls that are uniformly packed. This year alone he will have three books published. And through all that prodigious output his message is the same: American capitalism is on the way out.

That is not a message that has historically gone down well in America, where cultural hostility to Marxism, socialism and communism has been the norm. But, Wolff says, the great recession has changed all that. Now his phone never stops ringing, and his schedule has him crisscrossing the country from California to Texas to Maine. He even gets speech invitations from Tea Party groups.

Tea Party Groups ?? Well yes and this has a lot to do with the style and message he is giving. Not one of some wild eyed fanatic preaching “All power to the people.” or “Up against the all”. But one of a practical down to earth examination of what is going on and mixed with the humor of Richard Pryor.

But Wolff, who speaks with a strong New York accent, also serves up his radicalism with humour. “I am an economist. I do apologise,” he said, opening his speech in a packed lecture hall at Columbia College to bursts of laughter.

That was a typical Wolff line. He went on to describe the inherent instabilities of capitalist business cycles with a parallel to a crazy roommate. “If you lived with with a person as unstable as this economic system, you would have moved out a long time ago,” he quipped.

Wolff’s inspiration for his speaking style is the famed comedian Richard Pryor. Wolff was a huge fan, and he studied Pryor’s delivery and technique and how he addressed taboos around race, sex and swearing. Wolff decided he would do the same but by tackling what he says is the true American taboo: the country’s political and economic system.

“What I do is half economics, half performance art. … I say the political sex words, the dirty political words, and they like it. They like a little radicalism. They have been waiting. They want this,” he said.

Wolff’s critique is simple: American capitalism is dying in the face of stagnant wages, fewer jobs, greater debt and larger numbers of Americans being forced to work ever longer hours for ever less money.

And his message is clear. American capitalism is dying and will be replaced by something more equitable. Read the rest of this entry →

It’s the same old song…….

10:05 pm in Uncategorized by cmaukonen

I’m really not very good at doing large projects from beginning to end.  Small or medium sized ones yes. So I will break my projects down into small, easily handled components or parts. I do this for computer programs and electronics and most all else.  I just cannot handle “large” all at once, I guess.

I like my music and art that way as well. Even books. I will read a novel as long as the chapters are not too long and involved.

I enjoy small groups of people too. Once the group gets to big, I guess I loose track of what it going on and have a hard time keeping up.

I was reading this piece by Sam Smith in Progressive Review about music and movies and the RIAA and MPAA and all.  The main thesis is that downloading has little to do with why the music business is in a ditch. Giving charts and graphs and links to prove the point. Most of us know this is the case. As most of us are aware the creativity in the arts is fading as well.  He did hid a chord with me on this one paragraph that he quotes from one of his books.

Over lunch one day, I asked journalist Stephen Goode how he would describe our era. Without hesitation, he said it was a time of epigons.

An epigon, he explained to my perplexed frown, is one who is a poor imitation of those who have preceded. The word comes from the epigoni — the afterborn — specifically the sons of the seven Greek chieftans killed in their attempt to take Thebes. The kids avenged the deaths by capturing Thebes – but they also destroyed it. They were generally not considered as admirable and competent as their fathers.

Being around epigons is like being trapped at a bad craft fair where everything you see seems to have been made before, only better….

In anthropology class, I was first introduced to the notion, revolutionary for its time, that progress was not inevitable, that there can be an ebb as well as a flow to cultures. In one American archeology course we studied the steadily improving design of a tribe’s pottery. As time passed, the browns and the blacks and the whites and the zigs and the zags became ever more intricate and appealing. But then cultural entropy set in and it all started to go the other way, the art a poor imitation of its predecessors. In short, the tribe forgot what it once had known. Like the tribe, we have also have forgotten much about ourselves.

Like in the 1950s and 1960s we would joke about how the Japanese products made of plastic were cheep imitations of the real thing.  Even Frank Zappa had one side of his album Absolutely Free themed about Plastic People.    Just take a look and listen and see just how much today is truly original and how much is just a mediocre to poor rehash of what has gone before.

And this is especially true in the political arena. The arguments, protests and even the politicians themselves are poor, plastic imitations of what has already gone on.  Still rehashing the same old ideas and the same old arguments over and over and over again.

With the right becoming gross caricatures of Nixon and Goldwater and Agnew and Billy Graham, and the left becoming highly educated technocrats in the vain of Frederick Winslow Taylor. Far too pragmatic and practical for anyone’s good.  From an educational system that indoctrinates them into being useful workers or capitalistic authoritarians.   So both sides firmly believe that that is the ultimate goal.

What I find so amazing is that everyone is doing the level best to perpetuate this system they have been brain washed into accepting as the ultimate in economic and social objective, when the events of the last 10 years or more prove beyond any doubt that it simply does not work and may even destroy civilization itself. The only real difference being in whose rules each wants to have everyone else follow.

The concept of private ownership of everything and the worker/boss – servant/master arrangement needs to be replaced with one that is more just and more equitable. One based on cooperation and community ownership. Such as Student directed learning.  And The Commons project.   Plus all the work being done in cooperatives and community based agriculture.  Putting less time and energy into perpetuating a system that is by definition, doomed.

To to this we must first un-learn all that has been taught to us over the years concerning work and ownership and community.  Even to the organization of our educational system down to the class room level.

Otherwise we are condemned to repeat this current process out Ad infinitum as our economy and society crumbles around us.