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Capitalism vs Democracy

It seems like people too easily mix up democracy and capitalism
This is a series of statements for discussion.

Democracy is a type of political system.
Capitalism is a type of economic system.
A democracy does not have to have capitalism as its economic system.
A capitalist economic system does not need a democracy to exist.
Too many individuals equate democracy and capitalism. e.g. "We are bringing democracy to Iraq." when they really mean "We are bringing capitalism to Iraq." A democracy could vote in a religious style economic system as in Islamic countries.
Capitalism is no friend of democracy.
What do you think?

Democracy vs. Republic 28.Sep.2004 00:42

Vystrix Nexoth

Let's not forget "Democracy" vs. "Republic". People often think the United States is a democracy. It is not; it is a republic, where the People elect people to actual power, placing trust in them to represent the People's interests in government. A literal Democracy would entail people directly voting on all matters. Instead of voting on matters (a democracy), we elect a body of people (senators, etc) who in turn actually vote on matters (a republic).

Just thought I'd throw that out there. I agree with the points you make. (I'd also like to mention that the United States does not, strictly speaking, use a Capitalist economic system; it's *mostly* capitalist, but with some aspects of socialism (publically-owned stuff such as the police force) thrown in.)

check out the first couple of lines (on democrisy) 28.Sep.2004 01:07


I intend to keep em up there until Kerry wins and announces the end of the occupations beginning with the one in Iraq.

digging deeper 28.Sep.2004 01:13

thinking aloud

While the economic system of the US may meet the Marxist definition of capitalism it would much more accurately be termed corporatist, or corporate socialist.

While the US may resemble a republic more these days, partially due to spreading the notion that it is, the founding fathers clearly intended this country to be a representative democracy which is quite different from a republic. In a republic, the government has the rights; in a representative democracy the people have the rights. Our country was founded as the latter; whether that still remains is the subject for debate.

Capitalism versus Socialilsm Matters Little 28.Sep.2004 05:24

ignorance is the root problem

In the United States the form of government used to be a constitutional republic, which limited the power of government over the people. In a constitutional republic there are defined rules that protect the individual from the will of the majority. A society in their ignorance can be emotionally driven through the charisma and oratory of a public speaker and his backers to harm the innocent through greed and deceit. Whether the economics are socialistic, communistic or capitalistic matters very little once the rule of law is gone. For the masses the result is chaos and lawlessness, a condition under which the global elite brings in their system of order.

Alexander Hamilton 28.Sep.2004 06:09


Beleived that the masses were incapable of governing themselves and argued that the rich by virtue of destiny or profound right should be the ones to make determinations about policy over the will of any democracy. He was and to this day is idolized by america's political leaders. He had a great impact on the way our political system was formed.

Can capitalism be regulated by a democracy? Yes. Land trusts are a good example.
Is capitalsim democracy? No this can be seen in how presedents like Andrew Jackson were allowed to defy the pronouncements of congress and declair war on the Semenoles, Cherokee, and a host of indegenious peoples without regard to the will of our representitives. This attitude is incouraged as demonstrated by the fact that he wasn't punished, and now resides on our what fifty dallor bill?

Hitler had a point 28.Sep.2004 10:06

Not a Nazi

The details escape me, but Hitler made an important speech to the capitalists in Germany arguing that just as the capitalists didn't believe economic power should be shared equally, as under Communism, political power should not be shared equally either, as under a democracy. While we should all revile the outcome of the argument, it was logically consistent. Those of us who believe political power should be shared equally must logically believe economic power should be shared equally as well.

Then there's the issue of the law of enclosure. . . 28.Sep.2004 11:45

Hal E. Burton

Politics can absolutely rein-in economics. Happens all the time, that's why they don't let GM sell crack to kindergartners (thanks to Michael Moore for that one!).

The are two forms of power, inter-related but not equivalent.

Couple of side-issues -- Why should corporations (and unions, too) which do not have the right to vote, be allowed to exercise political free speech with donations? Secondly, how come Dick Cheney hasn't bothered to vote in most of the recent elections?

And just one more thing. . . 28.Sep.2004 11:54

Hal E. Burton

Equal? What would that be? Who would decide? And that goes for both economics and politics.

People are not equal. Never have been.

Some are taller, some shorter. Some have longer lives, some get clipped by Lachesis before they would've spooled out. Some are more creative, some are smarter.

How you gonna divvy all that up?

And setting aside for a minute the "race to the bottom" that seems to be happening anyway in the US of A, do you really want to "equalize" with the folks in Baghdad or Ethiopia?

Corporate rights flow from the rights of their members 28.Sep.2004 13:06


"Why should corporations (and unions, too) which do not have the right to vote, be allowed to exercise political free speech with donations?"

Because groups of people should be able to pool together resources in order to make their voices heard. Political action comittees are corporations, and their primary purpose is to influence elections. Should we ban them? Most think-tanks are organized as corporations. Should we ban their donations-in-kind? If a corporation like Planned Parenthood wants to make donations to pro-choice candidates, should they be prevented? Or, if Ford wants to donate to anti-corporate tax congress critters, why should't they be allowed to?

Corporations receive their right to partake in the political process by way of their members. Their members are allowed to excercise political speech, so they are also allowed as a group to excercise political speech. There is no limit on political speech. There is, however, a limit on voting. You can only vote once. So, quite obviously, corporations are not allowed to vote.

The greatest abridgement of our freedoms over the past decade was not the PATRIOT Act, but rather the McCain-Feingold Campaign Finance Reform Act. Campaign finance restrictions are impossible beyond mandatory reporting rules and limiting individual contributions entirely & equally for all parties. To restrict campaign finance further and successfully means nothing less than the total loss of political speech. It's an excercise in futility.

If we wish to return to a constitutional democracy 28.Sep.2004 13:20


Then we will remove the rights of artificial persons which were never granted them in the first place. Let's not resort to hyperbole. This country did quite well for the hundred years in which corporations had no rights, including no right to free speech or privileges to donate to political parties, candidates, and causes. Of course, if we wish to live in a corporatist state we can continue as we have been and prepare for the consequences. Of course, we would be betraying one of the finer legacies of this country.

"There is an evil which ought to be guarded against in the indefinite accumulation of property from the capacity of holding it in perpetuity by ... corporations. The power of all corporations ought to be limited in this respect. The growing wealth acquired by them never fails to be a source of abuses."
-- James Madison

Democracy in america past present future 28.Sep.2004 15:35


First, im glad this discussion is happening. The discussion is democracy. Without the people of society participating in the discussion of how society will be arranged, we are committed to aristocratic rule, whether in the form of corporations, eco/socio/political elites in representative office, or unelected leaders running the policy spectrum from benevolent monarchs to lying fascists or totalitarians. In order to have that discussion people need to have the information.
On that note: the USA is a democracy, a representative democracy, otherwise referred to as a democratic republic by the framers of the constitution, (framers not fathers: many of the "fathers" of were not involved at the convention and many who were not "fathers" were). The "america as republic, not democracy" debate stems from federalist paper no. 10 (as i foggily recall) where James Madison is arguing for representative government as the best way to avoid factions & the tyranny of the majority he and many other framers feared arising in popular, direct democracies. An important point to remember is that there was NOTHING in the world for the framers to base their creation on except the emerging parliamentary system in England, but even that hadn't been fleshed out so far as to give much guidance about how to organize a country more democratically than a limited monarchy countered in its more extreme domestic totalitarian excesses. There was indeed much debate about what kind of democracy to have in america, or even whether to have one. Hamilton and others avocated a hereditary head of executive and a hereditary aristocratic format for the senate. This was highly disfavored by many more practical aristocrats at the convention more in touch with popular attitudes on government, and as a result Hamilton his crew were largely ignored and ineffectual for the remainder of the convention. Their motivation for advocating extreme aristocracy did persevere because everyone at the convention was an aristocratic elite. This rationalization is the masses are too stupid and uneducated to participate in the discussion of how to arrange society. For this reason education to participate in politics is not included in education.
30 years later Madison wrote in retrospect about the irrelevance of the conventions worries about political parties, factions, and the tyranny of the majority. He was at this point looking back at the ongoing peaceful democratic revolution which contorted the original, and very aristocratic, document into better alignment with a nation of people who behaved as though they lived in a democracy. That experience showed him something like the metaphor of preparing the soil and having faith in the plant's growth. Yes, after that first aristocratic tool of violence is used to force the aristocracy to adopt certain elements of democracy, the rest of the transformation to more genuine democracy is through the everyday behavior of the people themselves, the practice of democracy.
But like the plant metaphor, democracy needs some sort of weed control, either through planting other organisms in the spaces where weeds could pop up, by physically removing weeds, or by spraying the soil with poison. Physical removal is only a stopgap, and endless process: another weed will grow there and will have to be pulled as it threatens the choice plant (if we reign in corporations without providing for a more democratic means of distributing the necessities of life, they will just find new ways to do what they are designed at base to do, get "out of control," and threaten democracy all over again). If we poison the ground poisoning the plant is an inescapable consequence (centralized or state economies do negatively impact democracy by further removing the decisions from the people whom those decisions affect). Democratic economics would have the genesis of necessities distributed where they are needed, both "facilities" and the decision making process about what sorts of things ought to be generated and how they ought to be distributed/shared. Capitalism and its corporations are not democratic and maintaining them will always threaten Democracy. Reigning them in is just as hard as coming up with and implementing alternatives to them. Both need to happen.
Give feed back to your CSA, talk to your friends and neighbors about what your society should look like, how the food you eat should be grown passed out and disposed of, participate in independent media and generate new forms and make them available to people, deluge your local governments with requests proposals resolutions backed by the community those potential policies affect. Drowning representative government with democracy results in the withering of government and the growth of democracy. Maybe most importantly, get the word out of what democracy really is, that its unattached, nay opposed to capitalism, and that our fascist government's campaign of nation building abroad has absolutely nothing to do with democracy. But in all, talk is nothing if we don't act on it, so act! Aristocratic government relies on our inaction and complacency for its survival as such and so omits from "education" the information and skills necessary for a group of people to come together and participate in democracy, that is, the discussion and realization of how society should be arranged. Representative government and the party system are the crudest forms of democracy and are maintained by aristocratic government to distract the people from the real matter of democracy: it is in direct conflict with aristocracy. Thus we live in a democracy, and though it might be a crude or troubled one, all the same, we live in a democracy.
Until now. This election on November 2nd is not our regular election about who can best manage our particular aristocratic democracy. It is a decision between a ridiculously corrupt aristocratic democracy which has some hope of accountability to the people who vote it in and changing America into a fascist state. I'm not using the term fascist for rhetoric or emphasis or as an emotional argument. The current administration is fascist, it has fascist policies, it writes, advocates, and passes fascist legislation, and it pursues all the trademark foreign and domestic policies of fascist states.
This next 35 days are not about a debate of how can we move our democracy to the next level, it is about being able to go forward or going back and having to start all over from the overthrow of a non-democratic government. We already fought our revolution. So do what ever you can to get the fascist and conservative social activists out of power. I certainly advocate voting for third parties as the next step in electoral democracy, even in this election, if you live in a state that's going Kerry anyways that is. Vote Cobb in California. In Oregon voting for Cobb or Nader or whoever will result in George staying in office. Straight up. Oregon on November 2nd is not the place to discuss details of democracy, but whether democracy or fascism. An example of Third Party Politics: If Wallace hadn't been shot, McGovern would have won the 1972 election, the last thing racist, pro-war Wallace voters wanted. Those Wallace votes went to Nixon put him over the top. The shooting is not the moral of the story, third parties undermining their own policies in close, razor's edge national elections is. Cobb in California, Kerry in Oregon. In the particulars of our national electoral organization that is the best thing we could do to foster democracy through that most narrow of democratic avenues, the vote. Unfortunately right now, the most narrow avenue is the only one unblocked by circumstance.
Other points of information tossed onto the table of this discussion: equality does not mean same, it simply means everyone is given the same opportunities to pursue themselves. This of course implies no opportunities to restrict other people's opportunities. This is not impossible nor does it describe an impoverished state, these are the exclamations of aristocratically colonized and dependent minds. Encourage critical thinking, engage in critical thinking. Cynicism is nothing more than an attempt to veil morally reprehensible laziness with humor, no different than race,sex,gender,class,looks,age,able,genetic,species-ist jokes. Try thinking about how to make things work out, pointing out potential flaws is only the first half, the first half you are encouraged to believe is the whole by a system that wants you to need it.
Ok that's enough for now I suppose. Remember there's nothing much in a name, German Fascists used power of the people in their name, why couldn't fascists in America use the name Republican? Talk, go, run we have 35 days and then we might very well have a lot less options. Ignorance is the root problem is absolutely right.

this is a VERY important discussion. 28.Sep.2004 16:04

this thing here

perceiving the distinction between democracy and capitalism is so increadibly important.

i think that many in this country seem to view their ability to choose between ford or chevy or honda as a freedom which is equally sacred and important as the right to choose btween kerry or bush or nader or the green party or any other political group. not that it's exactly suprising, given the 400 years of various forms of capitalism in this country, but i fear they are conflated the two, mixing up what benefit belongs to which idea.

but is that really the case. is the freedom to choose between various material products really as imporant the freedom to choose how you want your nation and it's resources to be managed?

of course it isn't.

let's put the question in a blunter way, and ask it to all the "true believers" of capitalism:

is the ability to choose between ford or chevy even freedom?

what i fear the most is a society in which citizens, falsely equating one with another, give up their political freedoms for the freedom to choose between different consumer goods. meanwhile, the fawning voices of the capitalist marketing apparatus keep pumping out advertisement after advertisement in which some new plastic thing or automobile or mop is equated to being free, or offering the consumer some new "freedom". "our new little plastic vacuum cleaner offers you and your family a whole new world of freedom..."

pump those ads out enough, with that kind of specious reasoning, for a long enough time, and why should anybody care if the government is allowed to wire tap their phones for any arbitrary reason, or jail them indefinitely without even charging them or bringing them to trial? "hell, i don't care about my rights. all i need is chance to go shopping at wal-mart. that's all the freedom i need." "americans don't need rights. the people of this country have spoken, and all they want is go shopping for different plastic things."

that's a freaking nightmare in my mind...

imagine china in 10 years. sure, a chinese business person with the right connections might be able to start up any business he or she wants, and they might even be able to keep some of their earnings. just like in the good ol' us of a. but as soon as they practice a religion the party in beijing doesn't like, as soon as they speak out and say that such and such regulation or government official or business competitor is a piece of shit, the secret police come and arrest them, and after a fake trial, they get sent to prison. "you should have been happy making your money. but that wasn't good enough for you, was it..." is that freedom?

imagine if in fifty years time, china and america end up being in the same place: authoritarian governments, yet entreprenurial, capitalist economies.

in china's case, they had to open up freedoms just a bit from what they had in the past. in america's case, we shut down our freedoms from what we had in the past. but we both end up in the same place. and so in both countries, the citizens get to hear the same cruel words: "making money and buying things with it wasn't good enough for you was it. you had to open your mouth. now you'll learn."

but if you go carrying pictures of Chairman Mao... 28.Sep.2004 16:44

Hal E. Burton

Democracy is opposed to capitalism? This is just not so.

One is a political system and one is an economic system and they are intertwined in this society (and many others). I agree that people do conflate the two and I draw a distinction between the necessary intertwining of the political/economic systems that conflation (one of my more favorite words, by the way...). Politics and economy are a means to harness power. Power is not distributed equally and never will be.

Moreover, nobody ever "has the same opportunities as everyone else." My shot at being either a jockey or an NBA star were limited at birth.

Aristocratically colonized and dependent minds? See, you and I and most everyone who reads this IS part of the aristocracy! That's why we can sit around and gas 'bout politics and economics and such. No, the colonies are Iraq and others to which end in 1948 George Keenan, regarded as one of America's greatest foreign affairs specialists, wrote this:

Furthermore, we have about 50% of the world's wealth but only 6.3% of its population. This disparity is particularly great as between ourselves and the peoples of Asia. In this situation, we cannot fail to be the object of envy and resentment. Our real task in the coming period is to devise a pattern of relationships which will permit us to maintain this position of disparity without positive detriment to our national security. To do so, we will have to dispense with all sentimentality and day-dreaming; and our attention will have to be concentrated everywhere on our immediate national objectives. We need not deceive ourselves that we can afford today the luxury of altruism and world-benefaction.

Representative democracy is more efficient, too. Do you really want to spend time on the petty business of running a society? I mean, potholes, for example? This is straight out of the pin-maker story in Adam Smith's "Wealth of Nations" -- specialization allows greater productivity.

I agree that swing state voters should go Kerry. I doubt seriously though that any third party is going to do very much to alter the system as it stands; certainly not this time through.

P.S. Scratch the surface of a cynic and you'll find an idealist!

appropriate name 28.Sep.2004 16:50

for an empire builder

"Our real task in the coming period is to devise a pattern of relationships which will permit us to maintain this position of disparity without positive detriment to our national security."

Indeed, let's all support Kerry to maintain the empire. Surely empires have never fallen in the past...

Democracy AND capitalism 28.Sep.2004 18:20

Derek Maddox

I don't think that a truly democratic government (republican or direct) can exist in a society that doesn't also embrace a capitalistic economic system.

A capitalistic economic system must, by definition, advocate the private ownership (including corporate) of the means of production, with the relative value of goods and services determined by the free market laws of supply and demand. Every consumer, by making his or her individual choice of where to spend their money, participates actively in a captitalist society by at the very least contributing to the supply/demand equation.

Active participation in the economic system, coupled with a sense of responsibility for one's own well-being, drives a person to participate actively in the political system that is best suited to guarantee individual freedoms: democracy.

As I see it, capitalism and democracy are inextricably linked.

Morally right isn't the same as "in power" politically... 28.Sep.2004 19:10

Hal E. Burton

Hell, empires fall all the time in historic terms. Question is, do they fall when you're in 'em? If not, really, who cares, use 'em! Who are you looking out for? yourself? your kids? an ideal that nobody knows about because most of the world is more worried about whether they are going to have enough to eat today?

Simple fact, the USA system, as it is, is loaded. You can pretend it is not, but it is. Your best bet is to move for incremental change. And that's Kerry. A vote for a third party candidate is going to be ignored, that's all. Look at the demographics and you'll see...most are dems or reps and the numbers for any, ANY alternatives are miniscule. Take a drive to Iowa if this isn't enough to convince you. The country isn't like Portland.

As I said on earlier threads, read Veblen, read Ricardo and learn their rulebook. Beat 'em at their own game!

". . . move for incremental change . . ." 28.Sep.2004 19:40


how exactly is it that,

in America 2004,

a 'vote' (****taking Diebold/ES & S/Florida fully into consideration****) for Kerry/Edwards fits the above description?

fresh rephrase 29.Sep.2004 05:27


From: "piet" <pensievepiet@n...>
Date: Tue Sep 28, 2004 12:33 pm
Subject: Cause of inflation?

Tom Greco: "Banks do not lend out their depositors' funds, they lend
out brand new money."

Vader Cats: Still no prob when done against collateral or certified
commitment to realistically calculated and acceptible risk.

Tom Greco: "Interest does not fight inflation, it causes it." ----

Vader Cats: As yall (may already) know I like to refer to the
historical periods when private and public monies where clearly
differentiated (Beckerath's work parked at among other places, your
very own site Tom!) and held each other up (via the freedom for folks
to switch, set them off against each other, thus keeping both kinds on
their toes so to speak, like the genders in a functional marriage).

'Overemitted' monies (in an attempt to escalate the scale of economies
clear into outer space) devaluate stuff (in terms of themselves,
theyinflate real values and steer toward profits for and expansion of
the elitisms that perpetrate such schemes) but would preferably and
prudently not be the only ones available and accepted. The skew shows
soon enough bycause of the parallel/competing ones relative to and
alongside 'm in the business off sticking a number on (*often
arbitrarily and shiftily demarkated) chunks of reality (*in any case).

Shameless project(ion)s like wars, privilege protecting bailouts and
speculation hypes, in short all manner of depravity and greed burdens
all the the more to the extent one has chosen limit and/or finds
oneself to the vehicle these vices are expressed and conveyed in;
exactly then when we have only one money left to choose from and will
tempt the (s)elect few to run a money mint overtime that much easier.
Centralization invites secrecy but were this not the case, we will
still be 'intercoursed' without (the right to switch to and substitute
with) alternatives for this deeply entrenched institutional schizophrenia.

A giant golden . . . 29.Sep.2004 09:52

Hal E. Burton

I don't suppose any vote counts for very much, but it is the tool we've got at our immediate disposal. Otherwise, you can petition, protest or do like "The Yes Men" or Michael Moore (might as well have some fun and few laughs, eh?).

As to the causes of inflation, yes banks can lend (some) money they don't have, but are restricted by the feds. There are other causes that are more insidious -- not least of which is the deficit that is currently being run-up and will have to, eventually, be paid down.

Interest doesn't cause inflation, it's rent. If you want to rent some money when you haven't got any there's a charge for it. (This is, in fact, Ricardo's big contribution to economics -- discussion and definition of rent.)

clarifications and info (long) 29.Sep.2004 17:36


as for capitalism being a necessity of democracy: not everyone in a capitalist system is able to participate. it fundamentally relies on some people with wealth whom others must go and give themselves to in order to get what they need to survive. there are all kinds of fancy ways of veiling this and euphemisms and rationalizations, but in capitalism not everyone can participate equally because the first premise of capitalism is inequity. Why is that the amount of currency you have determines whether you are worth keeping alive? no money, no life. to get money to have life, you must give pat of that life to the rich. how is it that heredity or success at creating things ("riches") means other people should give you a part of their life or die?

as for capitalism not neccessarily being opposed to democracy: the distinction between politics and economics is largely exagerated. you would say the discussion of how survival needs shall be shared is not a discussion about how society should be arranged? (economics, politics) My comments are trying to point out that capitalism and democracy can only coexist so long as democracy only develops to the point of successfully sheilding aristocrats from demands for greater social equality, so that the basic system persists: some people still have power over those unjustly deprived of the determination of their own lives. paying people a wage so they can then give it back as rent simply veils the conditions of slavery because the slaves are given the "freedom" to choose where and what their hovel will be. but their is still no escaping our birth into perpetual indebtedness to the aristocracy.

why are we all so ready to try and try and try to rationalize this system? this reluctance to entertain the idea that the current arrangement may not be the best for most people, where des it come from? its not hard to see how many things dont work so well with this system, indeed it takes some effort to ignore them and try to reconcile them back into the "its OK" catagory of experience.

oh yeah, and yes, i do care deeply about the potholes i encounter on my daily commutes, the biased traffic control systems which kill my neighbors known and unknown, . I care about those bags of trash my neighbors and i keep sending up to the landfill, at leaast enough to realize its easier to compost everything but packaging than to try to ignore it and maintain denial about the consequences of my actions. participation in neighborhood politics is the same sort of inescapable responsibility as cleaning up the meal dishes i dirty so i can continue eat the next meal. the greater productivity from specialization argument looses steam when were all too stupid and uneducated to be productive at all. the gretest productivity comes from collaboration between specialties which requires generalist education to communicate and inspire insight followed by the freedom to pursue passions developing and deepening specialties.

colonization in reference to the mind has to do with being socialized within an aristocratically organized and governed system where the people are taught ways of thinking and acting that better fits them in with the designs and neccessities of maintaining that system. these are largely unconscious and pervasive aspects of our intelect and behavior expressing themselves subtly and everywhere so as to minimize detection though contrast. the privilege of being assured food during the day by virtue of waking being alive in america that day is as much a blind-loyalty building tool as the socialized belief that it is a right. I absolutely conceed that those participating in this discussion are the minions and executives of aristocracy, but to take that as an excuse not to talk about it and try and change it is folly.

as for equality: and the hockey player and NBA stars ability to be an intellectual with the time + resources to frequently post on indymendia (sorry but thats my only knowledge of your acomplishments) were limited at birth. Perhaps it has to do with having the athletic ability and drive to go pro that was environmentally encouraged. Either way eqality is not same. equality is not same equality is not same. equality doesnt have to do with innate abilities or any of that, it has to do with envronmental opportunities. if those athletes were from the global south, their opportunities to pursue their own development would be/are restricted by a global white supremecist culture. not equal. if you happened to live in iraq or were an iraqi right now, you would not likely have the ability to post to indymedia. not equal. again, why are we all so ready to commit to the impossibility of a more desirable reality? its not like we have anything else to do but live free.

in brief cynicism is lame because it is idealism afraid to take responsibiility for its beliefs and afraid to take strength from its own passionate vision and instead chooses counterproductive intellectual dilletanttism typically (trying? why?) getting in the way of other more genuine idealists working on makingtheir vision a reality. way cooler to talk about when were going to meet and decrease our reliance on capitalistic modes of survival and increase our practice of democracy.

the debate about this election is simple for me: election choice between fascism (not rhetoric!) and democracy. Im fairly certain no one here actually thinks Kerry has award winning or even stomachable plans for foriegn policy or economics. the choice is between a guy with awful policies who is potentially accountable and a guy with awful policies and a crew friends who advocate torture, the labeling of domestic political dissidents "terrorists," and straight up imperialism. and for all those out there who tink a fascist government is all the better to overthrow and replace with something better than Kerry, the German Communists used the Worse is Better argument in 1932, and since they were all legally murdered, the german communist party, which of any national communist party should be the biggest, has never recovered. As for the details of greater or lessor elements of democracy in representative government, i would love to talk about it on Nov 3 if its still relevant.

An excellent point about interest being a form of rent, but then rent is another example of sugar coated slavery with pretty jewelry we wear to increase our performance quantifications in order to get better favors from our owners. like sex slaves. capitalism is institutionalized, veiled, and falsely rationalized aristocracy and thus absolutely opposed to the growth or long term health of democracy. pax

Reply to "notquick" 29.Sep.2004 18:43

Derek Maddox

I really must take issue with your statement: "not everyone in a capitalist system is able to participate. it fundamentally relies on some people with wealth whom others must go and give themselves to in order to get what they need to survive."

You, and many whose posts I've read in these forums, seem to equate "capital" with "cash". While it is true that cash is a form of capital, it is not true that all capital is cash. Capital is the means of production. Inventory, equipment, and personnel are also capital.

Everyone in a capitalist society gets to participate. No one "gives" themselves to someone else in order to survive. They may sell their services, their labor, their ideas, in order to survive. But it is an exchange, and that exchange is based on a mutual agreement as to the value of the goods and services exchanged.

The value of goods and services in a free market are determined by the laws of supply and demand. If a person in a capitalist society is poor, then there are a couple of reasons that might be to blame. It might be that they have no skills or services to offer the marketplace that consumers of skills and services are willing to pay for. Or that the skills they offer are worth very little because there is an abundance of supply.

Or it could be that they have poor marketing skills. It is incumbent on the offeror of goods and services to inform the consuming community of the availability of the commodity. So, if an individual has marketable skills but is ineffective in communicating the availability of those skills, then they will be unsuccessful in realizing the value of those skills.

We must remember that ours is a marketplace of goods and services. And every single breathing human being has some service, some set of skills, to offer in the marketplace. The question is what value will be placed on those services or skills.

So, it comes down to the fact that every individual has the capacity to provide skills and services, and to hone and develop those skills and services to make them desirable in the marketplace. The same independent spirit that makes that economic exchange possible is embodied in the democratic ideal of political philosophy.

still not quite convinced 30.Sep.2004 11:22


first, supply and demand are based on and only applicable in an economic environment where there is a scarcity of basic needs, like food, shelter, medicine. the conditions of scarcity are falsely maintained in order to maintain the supply and demand rationale of some people over others. For instance, an agricultural system that uses 10 calories of energy to produce 1 calorie of food manufactures scarcity. (check out permaculture, a developed methodology for designing functional and indefinitely selfperpetuating ecosystems in which humans are actually integrated for an alternative method of manufacturing the need-items.)

second, no matter how many words we use to blur and distract from it, there is a fundamental handicap to the person who does not have their basic needs met yet when bargaining with someone who does, ie someone who will not die if they fail to make a deal. this leads to the needful getting less for their time, the person without basic neediness can hold out for a better value without threatening survival. This in itself obstructs the idea that capitalism is somehow a liberal (as in the source of the term, idea facilitating universal liberty, ie freedom of action unlimited by the actions of others, whether government or civilian). That peoples' whole purpose to develop themselves is to make themselves more valuable to the economic system is a pretty narrow conception of human potential and drive. Nor do i think the drive to succeed in capitalism so you have more than most people who dont have enough is a very mature cultural goal if we wish to live in happy societies. Also you would do well to include the actual relationship of most people born into the capitalist system when you talk about what causes some people to have "economically valuable" character traits and other to lack them (if youre going to continue to insist that there are no other character traits or aspects of humanity which are worthy of valuing period). for example racism is a tool used to devide the working class and results in a cultural stigma about work ethics, the fate of money and time and resources invested into "minority" communities and winds up meaning, in the capitalist market, that if you are born balck or anything other than white, anything you have to offer is less valuable than the white male next in line who offers as close to exactly the same skills as possible (since every individual is unique and so there is no such thing as exchanging individuals while maintaining the same skill)

adress these things and your thesis about the compatability of capitalism and democracy will be much stronger, though i encourage you to consider advocating just a simple exchange economy rather than one based built by people with illegitimate power in order to enroll people in the idea that they are actually legitimate. Indeed much of what you are talking about isnt not necessarily capitalism, but simple exchange economy. lending banks with interest-earning loans are the key element of capitalism but are not necessary in every instance or example of exchange economy. I also suggest investigating "solidarity economics" as an alternative to capitalism including exchange economy. youre obviously smart, so pursue the contradictions and flaws in the things you see or others sugest are there. if you really dont see those cracks at all after genuinely setting aside your predisposition and thouroughly looking for them, at the least dont tell people they didnt have experiences they have lived through. i have experienced economic discrimination based on circumstances outside my control because my belly cannot afford to hold out for a better deal on behalf of my body so forgive me if i reply strongly when people say its my fault for not fitting into the system, that it could never be the systems fault for not including me because (the person saying this to me) fits into it fine.

dont get distracted from my first two points please. pax

Your basic presumption is wrong 30.Sep.2004 17:10

Derek Maddox

Actually, I completely disagree with several things you say.

First, I refuse to accept the fact that there are "illegitimate" or valueless members of an economic system. Yes, we as a society value some skills more than others. But this is based solely on the supply for those skills. The services offered by a street sweeper are not as valuable as those offered by a heart surgeon, simply because there are hundreds of times more people who are qualified to be street sweepers than to be heart surgeons. If we suddenly found ourselves hip deep in heart surgeons, the price of bypass surgery would drop through the floor.

I will agree with you that in some cases, scarcity is artificially maintained. But these are the exceptions, not the rule. These cases prop up the dairy industry and some other segments of the agricultural economy by dint of government intervention in the free marketplace. Outside of agriculture, can you name a particular set of skills, services, or goods which are held scarce by some artificial (that is, non-market) force?

Another point on which I disagree with you is the purpose for self improvement. You sound like a reasonably educated person. You should be familiar with the continuum of basic needs. You can't start working toward fulfilling the higher needs of social interaction and self-actualization until the basic survival needs have been satisfied. Until you reach the point that your basic survival needs are taken care of, it is incumbent upon an individual to improve their lot to the point that they have some service, skill, or goods to offer the marketplace that are valued highly enough to allow them to satisfy the basic survival needs. Once past that point, then we should certainly be trying to improve ourselves for some object other than purely profit-oriented reasons.

Next, the laws of supply and demand do not only apply to basic human needs. What economics text have you been reading? Every exchange, whether at a macro- or micro- level, are governed by how valuable the thing being exchanged is, and the more offerors there are, the lower the value.

Finally, what have banks and loans got to do with a capitalist system? Again, you sound like a reasonably educated person. Capital does not equal cash. Banks are NOT required for a capitalist system to work. Capital is the means of production. Period. Buildings, equipment, inventory, and, yes, cash all qualify as means of production. On what basis do you make the statement that banks and interest bearing loans are essential for a capitalist system to exist?

I participate in hiring personnel for my company all the time. I can assure you that I couldn't care less whether an applicant is black, brown, white, or purple with pink polka dots. If they can write tight Java code, they're hired. I'm after a skill. I'm happy with anyone that can provide that skill, and will pay the same rate to any person offering that skill, up to the point that my need for programmers is satisfied. Of course, if I place an ad to fill one position, and I get 40 applicants, then I know that I can offer less and still end up finding a qualified candidate. Supply and demand applied to programmers.

You've got a pretty pessimistic attitude. The whole premise of the American system, that attracts immigrants by the thousands even today, is that if you're willing to work hard and improve yourself, you can end up wealthy. And immigrant after immigrant proves that point over and over.

Step into the sunlight, my friend. Things are much better than you've painted them in this great land.