24 June 2010

On the Moral Depravity of Capitalism in 20 Tweets

I've thought a lot about it & have concluded that market capitalism is actually conducive to evil. It's not just a talking point.

Here's why.

1. The system requires winners AND losers. It is- by design- zero sum. This creates two serious moral problems.

2. The 1st moral dilemma of capitalism is that it demands that its adherents not only have stake in their own wins, but in your losses.

3. That is the seedy underbelly of competition. Winning at any cost. Depriving my opponent of whatever I must, even dignity or life.

4. The other moral dilemma of capitalism creates & perpetuates what is basically a form of mental illness in people with consciences.

5. No person of conscience can enjoy the spoils of wealth/capitalism without some guilt.

6. But that same person also realizes it is impossible to see that everyone shares in the wealth of the system. There MUST be losers.

7. So the natural instinct in a painful situation that seems impossible to change is to go into denial.

8. We disconnect from the humanity of other people. We withdraw into our own small worlds and justify it as fair or right.

9. And we console ourselves by saying if others were as righteous as us, they would have what we do. They must deserve suffering!

10. This entire endeavor puts our souls in peril.

11. Capitalism has serious potential to do damage to our capacity for empathy and compassion. It's a dehumanizing system.

12. I believe our addiction to the system of capitalism requires us to imagine it can bring us happiness.

13. What is the point of desiring excessive wealth, if not that we think it generates happiness?

14. But because of dynamic already described, with each increment of happiness bought, another piece of one's humanity is sacrificed.

15. In other words, it is impossible for a person of moral conscience to become happier through the accumulation of wealth.

16. So this means 1 of 2 things. Either we're a civilization lacking in conscience or we're a civilization lacking in true happiness.

17. What's especially ironic is that the language of capitalism is conflated with the language of liberty and empowerment.

18. But capitalism is actually a very oppressive system. Either you're denied dignity and liberty by being a "loser" in the system...

19. Or you're asked to deny your own human instincts of compassion and empathy for other people by being a "winner" in the system.

20. Either way, by participating in the system, you've given up some of self-sovereignty. 

Series first tweeted by Cynthia Boaz on June 21, 2010.
The Huffington Post
Follow Cynthia Boaz on Twitter: www.twitter.com/cynthiaboaz

This is Cynthia's critique. Here are some other thoughts and comments by others:

- For me, it's important that you do come up with an alternative, Doc, as it would help me to understand exactly what you mean by the immorality of capitalism because I don't see that capitalism is, in itself, immoral. I think it's like a lot of other systems; it can be practiced morally or immorally.
- Competition is also not, in itself, immoral. Every time you play a game with someone there is competition to win and there is a winner and a loser. As long as everyone plays fair, that's not only immoral but is the essence of playing a game.
- Competition in capitalism is a good thing as long as it's fair competition. Fair competition in capitalism induces capitalists to provide the best possible product or service at the lowest possible price so that the consumer will purchase from them. I don't see anything inherently immoral about that.
- One of the first hurdles we come up against in addressing an inequitable system is facing up to our privilege. It's a fundamental difference between progressives and conservatives. No one likes to be reminded of their privilege — whether it’s white privilege, heterosexual privilege, male privilege, or class privilege — because acknowledging that privilege commutes responsibility for that privilege, and the day-by-day, moment-to-moment decision to perpetuate that privilege or know — while knowing the consequences it imposes on others.
- Whether we asked for our privilege or not — acknowledging it, if we don’t want to be responsible for perpetuating it and the injustice it perpetuates, means changing how we are in the world, day-by-day and moment-to-moment.
- If you can rationalize your privilege, and rationalize related inequities on the flip-side, then you don’t have to change how you are in the world; because all is right with the world, no matter how bad it is for somebody else.
- In fact, your privilege — whether it stems from your race, gender, sexual orientation, economic status, etc. — doesn’t even exist. The whole world is suddenly a meritocracy. What you have, you deserve, basically because you have it. And the “have-nots”? Well, if they deserved it, they’d have it.
- Power is conducive to evil. It's not a capitalism-only thing. - I don't think it's necessary (nor considered requisite fairness) for you to devise an alternative, with your alternative being dumping yourself into the GOP or Tea Party. I think critiquing a system for it's own sake is worthy and important, and helps people understand what they are participating in. The analysis is necessary before any consideration can be given to an alternative, and that alternative is certainly not your responsibility (it's ALL of our responsibilities). Frankly, I feel that when the response to this piece is solely to challenge you to state your alternative, that is a clear sign of a person who is not willing to face or consider what you've unveiled. It's a deflection. I think it's a great piece, and I can relate to the growing despondency over our capitalist system I detect in it.


Interesting thoughts...

Gong Show Rant

This G8/G20 boondoggle is infuriating.  There are fences all the way up to Huntsville, a police state in downtown Toronto, and a ridiculously ugly $57,000 kiddies swimming pool for the media on the shore of Lake Ontario.  The billion dollar price tag for this charade is insane.  The politicians deem it a necessity...we have to have these meetings for the world's super-elite, and put the cost of it on the working classes.  Make a fuss about it and the Cons will ignore you, as they always do.  How do we know whether it's going to be worth it or not yet?  Indeed.

Harper figured that having the G20 meeting in downtown Toronto would showcase Canada's financial prowess, even though all the bankers and investors are taking the next couple of days off because Bay Street is now a militarized zone and they fear for their lives from the yet-to-appear throngs of insane, violent protestors.  I hope that they do show up and deaths occur...if only to justify the (holy shit!) billion dollar price tag.  Harper is a fucking idiot....what the hell were he and his strategists thinking?  Not about much other than themselves, once again, apparently.

And it's all happening in this shithole of a city.  I've been here two weeks too long already.  I keep giving southern Ontario extra chances to change my mind on what a crappy place it is, but this trip is another FAIL.  Gotta get somewhere?  Well, just hop in a fucking car and sit in some fucking traffic in this ugly city.  The people are all self-absorbed, stressed, rude, and high-strung.  Anyone I know here who is decent is not from here.  Everyone else will have a 'conversation' with you, but the entire chat is truly spent enduring Ontarians talk about themselves, their awesome lives living in a shithole, and how the rest of Canada including where you are from is worth ridicule since it isn't here.  Really?  Is it possible you people can talk more about yourselves, please?  My ears aren't bleeding enough yet.

I got the old, "You're from Manitoba?  Oh I'm so sorry." bullshit line more than once here, or "You're from the West Coast, oh I couldn't live there; it rains all the time".  Yeah, shut up you Ontario asshole. It's all a joke to you and the universe that revolves around your ego, isn't it?  Screw you!

I've been trying to get people to look me in the eye as they pass by, no luck yet.  And don't get me started on this disgusting humidity, still more tornadoes, and even an earthquake to top things off. I'm counting the minutes until I get out of here.

I remember now why I always go to Montreal and not Toronto when I end up in the East.  It's because people are actually real there and they honestly care about other people.  And they don't incessantly talk just about themselves all the time.  It's obvious the Ontario factor rots everyone's brains here, including the politicians.

Once again, I reiterate the solution to the spiralling G8/G20 expense 'crisis', why doesn't the cabal of greedy old white men just collectively buy an island nation in the middle of the Pacific and have their meetings there whenever they feel they're warranted?  They can build their Dr. Evil lair there and blow smoke up each other's asses as much as they want, out of the public eye, away from protestors, and with as much security as they feel their inflated egos need.  Leave the rest of us alone like you do the other 363 days a year, you fucks.

16 June 2010

BU2B (Brought Up To Believe) - Rush

(written by Neil Peart)

I was brought up to believe
The universe has a plan
We are only human
It’s not ours to understand

The universe has a plan
All is for the best
Some will be rewarded
And the devil take the rest

All is for the best
Believe in what we’re told
Blind men in the market
Buying what we’re sold
Believe in what we’re told
Until our final breath
While our loving Watchmaker
Loves us all to death

In a world of cut and thrust
I was always taught to trust
In a world where all must fail
Heaven’s justice will prevail

The joy and pain that we receive
Each comes with its own cost
The price of what we’re winning
Is the same as what we’ve lost

Until our final breath
The joy and pain that we receive
Must be what we deserve
I was brought up to believe