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...

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