- Capitalism and Alternatives -

'He who dies with the most toys wins'

Posted by: bill on November 16, 1999 at 10:32:52:

In Reply to: rich and famous posted by Gee on November 15, 1999 at 18:23:39:

: : If one watches the "Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous" - identification of the protagonists is almost invariably in terms of possessions, ownership, ie. Having. If it is ever Doing, it is in the context of vacationing or consumption - Never Production.

: I would concur as far as rich but unproductive inheritors, actors, musicians etc go - but not for the productive rich - people who work businesses regardless of income/wealth - they still speak of doing - although its very telling that the media prefers to portray them simply as having, as if the doing were not a necessary pre-cursor to having.

Perhaps...but the media present these figures -corporate heads included - in images this class wishes to present to the public - the concerned exec - surveying the New York skyline from the 47th floor, the correspondance via cell-phone from a beach in Hawaii, etc. These are the Decision Makers. It is NOT presented as a group process. An example of the Other way would be GNU-Linux. Unfortunately I can't see how this "Other Way" could be extended throughout society.

: : While these are descriptors of economic activity, they have certain consequences when applying rationality to a social system. The problem with the equation, is that it completely disregards the world consequences of tieing an economy to a wheel of Desire.

: As a tool for thinking about why prices are what they are it does ignore consequences as such - my mjor point has always been simply that LTV does not provide a frame work for calculation of 'exploitation'.

I think that is correct...to a point. The LTV provides a basis or ground upon which exploitation may be realized. The creation of surplus value derived from labor is of itself not necessarily exploitative, or alienating. It all depends on who gets to decide on the disposition of that surplus labor. Thus it becomes a matter of "freedom" and "choice" vs expropriation.

: : It reminds me of the question neither of us answered some weeks ago: "What do you do about a spoiled child?"

: Yes I recall - I wondered what a socialist would do about it.

This is nastily complicated. At this stage of cultural history it is probably necessary to exert Authority (always understanding that this means threat of force) to tell the child (public) "NO!"

In a culture that emphasizes desire (to make it run) the values so shaped make the task nearly impossible.

"I can imagine it, therefore I want it. I want it, therefore I should have it. Because I should have it, I need it. Because I need it, I deserve it. Because I deserve it, I will do anything necessary to get it."

This value system is NOT a human universal. It is historical and arises out of the relationship each person has with the internal dynamics of a socio-economic system.

The pressing need at this historical moment is to realize the consequences of our actions and develop a greater sense of community.
Otherwise we are liable to get hit HARD on the back of the head by A- violent revolutions around the planet in the name of "I Want Mine" or B- The destruction of the planet's life support system.

Barry would claim that A- "You can't destroy the Master's house by using the Master's tools" - as well as B- you can't bring about a value change without first providing the environmental grounds for that change.

I hope he's wrong.

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