Moral imperatives of capitalism ? You’ve got to be freekin kidding me !
I can understand the right wing trolls who show up here from time to time, all preaching the benefits of free market capitalism. Though none of them ever mention any moral or ethical argument. They never mention these words. What I fail to comprehend though, are those supposed progressive, humanist types that constantly bemoan the absence or morality in capitalistic enterprises or why the government – any government – refuses to take action in this direction. Apparently they either have not been paying attention or they are living in some dream world.
Capitalism has from the very beginning been the antithesis of humanity and morality. As is explained in The Invention of Capitalism – Michael Perelman
Smith opposed every aspect of the moral economy. He was appalled that the government had once passed laws regulating the retail corn trade in order to mollify the populace, although much of this legislation was repealed in 1772 (Sklar 1988, 103). For Smith, such legislation was every bit as unjustified as the laws regarding religion (1976, IV.v.b.4o, 539). He claimed that people’s fear of forestalling was no more warranted than anxiety about witchcraft ibid., IV.v.b.26, 534).
And as Yasha Levine summarizes here:
One thing that the historical record makes obviously clear is that Adam Smith and his laissez-faire buddies were a bunch of closet-case statists, who needed brutal government policies to whip the English peasantry into a good capitalistic workforce willing to accept wage slavery…
Yep, despite what you might have learned, the transition to a capitalistic society did not happen naturally or smoothly. See, English peasants didn’t want to give up their rural communal lifestyle, leave their land and go work for below-subsistence wages in shitty, dangerous factories being set up by a new, rich class of landowning capitalists. And for good reason, too. Using Adam Smith’s own estimates of factory wages being paid at the time in Scotland, a factory-peasant would have to toil for more than three days to buy a pair of commercially produced shoes. Or they could make their own traditional brogues using their own leather in a matter of hours, and spend the rest of the time getting wasted on ale. It’s really not much of a choice, is it?…
Faced with a peasantry that didn’t feel like playing the role of slave, philosophers, economists, politicians, moralists and leading business figures began advocating for government action. Over time, they enacted a series of laws and measures designed to push peasants out of the old and into the new by destroying their traditional means of self-support.
“The brutal acts associated with the process of stripping the majority of the people of the means of producing for themselves might seem far removed from the laissez-faire reputation of classical political economy,” writes Perelman. “In reality, the dispossession of the majority of small-scale producers and the construction of laissez-faire are closely connected, so much so that Marx, or at least his translators, labeled this expropriation of the masses as ‘‘primitive accumulation.’’
Perelman outlines the many different policies through which peasants were forced off the land—from the enactment of so-called Game Laws that prohibited peasants from hunting, to the destruction of the peasant productivity by fencing the commons into smaller lots—but by far the most interesting parts of the book are where you get to read Adam Smith’s proto-capitalist colleagues complaining and whining about how peasants are too independent and comfortable to be properly exploited, and trying to figure out how to force them to accept a life of wage slavery.
In conditions of horrible filth and pollution and disease.
Or that capitalists and industrialist have rarely – if ever – been held accountable for their actions. That the state has always worked in consort with them to make damn sure that they never are.
While some multimillionaires started in poverty, most did not. A study of the origins of 303 textile, railroad, and steel executives of the 1870s showed that 90 percent came from middle- or upper-class families. The Horatio Alger stories of “rags to riches” were true for a few men, but mostly a myth, and a useful myth for control. Most of the fortune building was done legally, with the collaboration of the government and the courts. Sometimes the collaboration had to be paid for. Thomas Edison promised New Jersey politicians $ 1,000 each in return for favorable legislation. – A People’s History of the United States, Howard Zinn
Modifying the laws so that they will get off scott free. Those that are taken to task generally only have to pay a fine that amounts to a wet slap on the wrist. Committing crimes that if a private person of modest means were to commit would mean life in prison or death. Do I really have to give examples of this here ? The list would be unbelievably long.
The right likes to give “enlightened self interest” as a motivation to keep capitalists in check but more often than not the motivation entails government corruption, monopolistic price and wage manipulation, elimination of any all competition and the bribery of state official to provide tax money to subsidize their immoral behavior. As well as bail outs and protection from environmental laws, which they work ferociously to eliminate once passed. Laws that are passed only to mollify the populace.
Yet some of the most ardent supporters of the capitalistic system come not only from the religious right but also from the supposed humanist left. An irony that seems to escape these people since capitalism is the most inhumane and immoral social system ever devised. Being now referred to as neo-feudalsim, and apt term as the means and motives have not changed much since the French revolution. I personally fail to comprehend how anyone can claim religiosity and embrace capitalism at the same time. Talk about cognitive dissonance.
And I haven’t even gone into the lies and deceit that has emanated from the media on it’s behalf.
To me expecting the government to hold capitalists accountable for their actions is like the farmer expecting the foxes to hold the wolfs accountable for the chicken coup raid.
So it should come a s no surprise that the current crop of vote suppression laws are aimed at those that are the most enslaved by and repressed by the white capitalist elites. The blacks and other minorities who these elites fear would remove them from power. Or that a significant number of supposed progressives along with the right wing support and embrace elite privilege – mostly if not entirely by whites.
Which brings us to another point. Nearly all the military and wars are for the advancement of and defense of the capitalist elites. No surprises there as the last two major wars began at the depth of a financial down turn that threatened these same capitalists hold on the general public. And in the case of Russia, removed them from power. Or that true democracy has never been their favorite form of government. That many even in this country hated the idea of allowing yeoman farmers and small craftsman any say in the running of or choosing leaders. Or that the police behave more and more like like those of some third world country since their sole purpose is to protect the capitalists from the populace.
So to state that there is any moral and ethical or human conscience involved with capitalist enterprises would be laughable, if it were not so pathetic.