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Capitalism vs. Democracy (nytimes.com)
24 points by ChristianMarks on Jan 31, 2014 | hide | past | web | favorite | 23 comments

Can tell he came from France... You can't have a democracy without capitalism, if you remove capitalism you instead have to put in place a committee, if someone in the committee eventually makes a grab for power (at some point this will happen), then you have a dictatorship...

It's happened tons of times throughout history, no matter what people want power. If a society values money the most (as in a capitalist society) one will strive to make money and in turn products. If the society values position, then one will strive to gain status, and so on with military, strength, etc.

The point being, regardless of work, it's fairly clear though a remedial understanding of history (Rome, Russia, North Korea, Greece), capitalism doesn't destroy a society nor does it create a gap. The gap is always there, it simply changes form. If for example the average worker has a home, food, water, essentially a stable life they will still complain because they want MORE.

This will always happen, I know very few people who don't want more. I suspect that this is the root of it, the root of all statements such as "Capitalism vs. Democracy.."

It's pathetic, it's as if these authors sole goal is to destroy democracy and instantiate communism.. We've seen that in the past and it doesn't close the gap between rich and poor it makes it worse. For when you remove the hope that work can make you rich, you put in place instead a status (or military, strength, etc.) based market, where the "wealthiest" in the society are those with that instead of currency. Unfortunately, that change in efforts towards status, or what have you, forces greater despair. As time goes on the society eventually will lose all hope and collapse...

/end rand

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chicago_school_of_economics http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Austrian_School

“/end rand”


Edit: I do find the Randian (or more likely “rant” typo) discourse somewhat polemic. You merely substitute dysfunctional fundamentalist / absolutist system A for fundamentalist / absolutist system B.

Having read the article, I see no such hint of abolishment or abandonment of the capitalist system.

What I do see however, is the notion that such fundamentalism should be tempered with balancing laws or cultural restraints.

Surely this isn't such an apocalyptic notion, is it?

“/end rand”

You could have left it at that, and it would have been a perfect reply.

I did originally.

I worried the HN crowd would have frowned on it.

Something to be said about the negative impacts of surveillance society on the censorship of the self I am sure. ;)

If you are going to make bullshit claims at least don't back them up with provably false accusations about wealth gaps being worse in non-capitalist countries.

The wealth gap in Russia increased at astonishing levels after the fall of the USSR.

What those who want to make your point do is say that this doesn't matter since the "pie" is larger under the capitalist system, so the gap doesn't matter as much.

Still not true, but at least not as easily shown to be false as your "clear remedial understanding of history".

My point had nothing to do with wealth gaps...

My point was that people want power any way they can get it, with a capitalist system it's much more about hard work than who you know, your name, your status essentially. Other systems simply trade one out for the other, as in, e.g. mostly who you know and less about how hard you work.

I am not arguing about wealth, I am arguing about hope, happiness, and fairness. If I work harder and receive more there is a form of symmetry work = money = food, shelter, happiness. On the other hand if work doesn't mean I receive more or I receive very little for my increased work, it changes the equation. The latter system supports not working that hard because that benefits you more than working hard.

Now, discussing directly the wealth gap, wealth is a sign of how hard you work, how intelligent you are, and in corrupt systems how many people you know. Thankfully, in a capitalist system since work translates into wealth you can often MINIMIZE the corruption, or at the very least its better than a system where a committee/laws redistributes wealth. My point there being, a fair distribution of wealth should be based off market pressures because it is more likely to be a fair distribution, sure that means some people lose, but those people are the ones who don't want to work, don't have the intelligence to make money and don't have friends to support them. In that case, they are free to join a church or local community center, which are also supported in capitalist nations.

All that being said, I don't actually feel that my claims are "bullshit," perhaps I misrepresented them, but there is evidence to support my argument... That would be the two schools of economics at the bottom of my original post.

“I am not arguing about wealth, I am arguing about hope, happiness, and fairness. If I work harder and receive more there is a form of symmetry work = money = food, shelter, happiness.”

However, this hypothetical loop you outline is clearly neglecting the hidden scaffolding of privilege and agency.

While it might seem perfectly logical as a theoretical standpoint, it also hides a tremendous complexity of “value”, something typical in hypercapitalist perspectives.

When reducto ad absurdum appropriates “value” to equivalency with “monetary wealth”, we might as well yield to Burger King slogans that allow us to experience “value” through a kid's meal.

Value of culture is obviously subjective. To use your example, I value a culture that can see the value of the populace. To feed a person without privilege or agency, and expect nothing in return, is not something that fits into your Utopian feedback loop.

One can only wonder how many other cultural values may not fit into the same loop.

“That which is not good for the bee-hive cannot be good for the bees.”

with a capitalist system it's much more about hard work than who you know, your name, your status essentially

You must not have seen a list of 1%ers lately.

Schools of economics are not evidence. Especially those two. And even more so when you speak of democracy and those two schools. Chicago boys had their Pinochets and when many who proclaim the views of the Austrian economists decry universal suffrage.

Yes, in Eastern Europe the "wealth gap" was very small during the communism. We all had money. Actually we all had plenty of money... too bad that it was only useful to wipe our ass with it.

On the other hand, some people had POWER. It didn't matter that they only had three times as much money as you and an apartment only twice as big as yours. They had to make only one phone call to get something they wanted while you, the simple wo/man had to stay in line from 4 a.m. in order to buy "luxury" products like milk.

... but "the wealth gap was smaller". So what?

And now no one has such insane power and no one goes with out food or housing!

it actually isnt, if you read any political theory there is actually a lot of truth in what hes saying. capitalism needs democracy in order to function and vice versa, the only exception to that ever being china - and theorists are still divided on that issue.

That's a pretty damn big exception, not sure how anyone can make that claim you made with a straight face when the "exception" is composed of 20% of the world population...

> Can tell he came from France...

And you certainly sound like the stereotypical ignorant North American.

Do Canadians sound this way as well?

If not then you sound pretty ignorant yourself.

so what's France? Is France capitalist or socialist?

its capitalist with a socialist face

Every time I read something about economists arguing I remember the old joke

"The definition of "waste": a busload of economists plunging over a precipice with three of the seats unoccupied."

...defies left and right orthodoxy by arguing that worsening inequality is an inevitable outcome of free market capitalism.

Let's fix that:

...defies left and right orthodoxy by arguing that worsening inequality is an inevitable outcome of UNRESTRAINED free market capitalism.

The greed that is pure free market capitalism needs some bounds, else the inequality gets out of whack like it is right now.

If this[1] is what "increasing inequality" looks like, I welcome it.

[1] http://annualletter.gatesfoundation.org/~/media/Annual%20Let...

That particular graph has several issues. The first of which is the lack of scale. It's set up so the tail ends nicely around $100 dollars a day when in reality it should extend over 2 orders magnitude to the right. When talking about inequality, if you can say "most of humanity" exists in this hump orders of magnitude away from a select few that represents a problem.

"[D]efies left and right orthodoxy by arguing that worsening inequality is an inevitable outcome of free market capitalism."

Huh? How does that defy left orthodoxy? Edsall might want to pick up some Leftist works... Maybe something from that little known author Karl Marx.

You probably won't find any references to "free market capitalism" in Marx, since the "free market" marketing label was only added by supporters of capitalism to distract from the socialist critique in which the system organized and managed to serve the interest of capitalist called "capitalism" was named.

Treating "free market capitalism" as if it is a meaningful term defies left orthodoxy, arguing that it is something other than ideal defies right orthodoxy.

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