Mammon - Far from representing rationality and logic, capitalism is modernity’s most beguiling and dangerous form of enchantment - Yes, OP is autistic.

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Drain Todger

Unhinged Doomsayer
True & Honest Fan
kiwifarms.net
https://aeon.co/essays/capitalism-is-modernitys-most-beguiling-dangerous-enchantment

Perhaps the grandest tale of capitalist modernity is entitled ‘The Disenchantment of the World’. Crystallised in the work of Max Weber but eloquently anticipated by Karl Marx, the story goes something like this: before the advent of capitalism, people believed that the world was enchanted, pervaded by mysterious, incalculable forces that ruled and animated the cosmos. Gods, spirits and other supernatural beings infused the material world, anchoring the most sublime and ultimate values in the ontological architecture of the Universe. In premodern Europe, Catholic Christianity epitomised enchantment in its sacramental cosmology and rituals, in which matter could serve as a conduit or mediator of God’s immeasurable grace. But as Calvinism, science and especially capitalism eroded this sacramental worldview, matter became nothing more than dumb, inert and manipulable stuff, disenchanted raw material open to the discovery of scientists, the mastery of technicians, and the exploitation of merchants and industrialists. Discredited in the course of enlightenment, the enchanted cosmos either withered into historical oblivion or went into the exile of private belief in liberal democracies. As Marx put it, all that was solid melted into air, and the most heavenly ecstasies drowned in the icy water of egotistical calculation.

With slight variations, ‘The Disenchantment of the World’ is the orthodox account of the birth and denouement of modernity, certified not only by secular intellectuals but by the religious intelligentsia as well. In A Secular Age (2007), his leviathan survey of intellectual history, Catholic philosopher Charles Taylor gestured toward a possible recovery of the numinous at ‘the unquiet frontiers of modernity’: the poetry and philosophy of Romanticism, as well as the efflorescence of spiritualities that constitute ‘New Age’. The resurgence of religious fundamentalism throughout the world over the past two generations (even in societies where ‘disenchantment’ was supposed to have vanquished the company of the spirits) is not the only event that casts doubt on the veracity of the disenchantment thesis.

Since the 17th century, much modern history has provided good reasons to show that ‘disenchantment’ is more of a fable, a mythology that conceals the persistence of enchantment in ‘secular’ disguise. Capitalism, it turns out, might be modernity’s most beguiling form of enchantment, remaking the moral and ontological universe in its pecuniary image and likeness. For some of the dissenters from the disenchantment thesis, capitalism perverted the sacramental character of the world. As the poet Gerard Manley Hopkins declared with late-19th-century industrial squalor in mind, ‘the world is charged with the grandeur of God … There lives the dearest freshness deep down things’ – a trace of divine radiance ‘seared with trade; bleared, smeared with toil’. Capitalist enterprise obscures and disfigures the graceful quintessence of the material world.

Weber and Marx themselves pointed, though inadvertently, to an alternative account of capitalism that suggests the tenacity of enchantment. At the conclusion of The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism (1905), Weber announced the twilight of the spirits not with exhilaration but with dread: the disenchanted world, he feared, would degenerate into ‘mechanised petrification’, ruled by ‘specialists without spirit, sensualists without heart’, philistines who believe they’ve attained ‘a level of civilisation never before achieved’. Maybe, he wrote, ‘new prophets will arise’ to herald ‘a great rebirth of old ideas and ideals’. Indeed, Weber wrote in ‘Science as a Vocation’ (1919): ‘We live as did the ancients when their world was not yet disenchanted of its gods and demons,’ adding: ‘only we live in a different sense.’ Where the Christian God replaced the dying pagan deities, ‘we’ had no supreme beings in waiting. In the interim, ‘many old gods ascend from their graves’ and take ‘the form of impersonal forces’; Weber’s intuition that the gods had assumed a modern, ‘secular’ façade – especially in the ‘laws’ of the market that had acquired something like a divine status – suggests that the hegemonic version of ‘disenchantment’ is at least partly mistaken, if not fallacious.

Though renowned for describing religion as ‘the opium of the people’, Marx was emphatic that enchantment had also taken refuge in the capitalist marketplace. While in the Communist Manifesto (1848) Marx identifiedcapitalism as driving disenchantment – immersing those ‘heavenly ecstasies’ in the gelid whirlpool of ‘egotistical calculation’ – he also referred to the capitalist as ‘a sorcerer, who is no longer able to control the powers of the nether world he has called up by his spells’. Rhetorical flair, to be sure; but elsewhere – in his ‘1844 manuscripts’, and in the Grundrisse (1857) and Capital (1867) – Marx called attention to the enchantment of money and commodities under capitalism. Having drowned traditional religion, money morphed, he asserted, into ‘the almighty being’, ‘the god among commodities’, ‘the truly creative power’. This is more than literary grandiloquence; for Marx, money is, in effect, the ontological leaven and foundation of the capitalist world: ‘If I have the vocation for study but no money for it, I have no vocation for study – that is, no effective, no truevocation.’ (In economics, it’s called ‘effective demand’: if I’m thirsty but have no money for water, my thirst doesn’t exist.) Money is not just a medium of exchange; like the God who creates ex nihilo, out of nothing, it becomes the source and arbitrator of ontological validity under capitalism.

Marx expanded on the ontological sorcery of money when he wrote, in Capital, on commodity fetishism. The commodity, he writes, abounds in ‘metaphysical subtleties and theological niceties’. Those ‘subtleties’ and ‘niceties’ arise from the very nature of commodities themselves, divided between their ‘use-value’ – the qualitatively different purposes and uses of goods (shoes for feet, cups for drinking, etc) – and their ‘exchange-value’ – their status as commodities produced for sale to make money and accumulate capital. In order to be exchanged for money, an abstract equivalence among commodities must be established; their incommensurable use-values must be erased and their ‘value’ or ‘worth’ expressed in monetary terms. Thus – like the vocation whose effective existence depends on the size of one’s bank account – ‘value’ is not only assessed but determined in the ontological crucible of money. Money is what anthropologists might call the mana of capitalism: the spirit that inhabits all material things, and whose departure decrees oblivion. Purchase, sale and investment become acts of mercenary divination; Marx describes ‘all the magic and necromancy that surrounds the products of labour’. Commodity fetishism is the equivalent, in capitalism, of the Roman Catholic sacramental system: where the latter conveys divine power and grace through material objects and rituals, the former channels the power of money through the pecuniary transubstantiation of objects.

Marx expected revolution to dispel the venal alchemy of commodity fetishism, as political struggle against the power of money disenchanted the apparatus of fetishism. Simone Weil, the French mystic and radical, long ago offered an explanation for the continuing failure of Marxism to secure its Hollywood ending. Because it envisioned socialism as the dialectical culmination of capitalism, Marxism, in her words, represented ‘the highest spiritual expression of bourgeois society’. Weil observed that, like the industrial bourgeoisie and both its religious and secular ideologues, Marx and his followers subscribed to a disenchanted conception of matter. Marx might have considered his materialism ‘historical’, but if matter – even historical matter – is governed by the immutable and unyielding law of force, then on Marx’s own terms capitalism is insurmountable. Embedded in a disenchanted materialism, Marx’s trust in the forces of history required him to affirm dispossession, proletarianisation, the industrial division of labour, and the mounting concentration of economic and political power – a historical momentum that portended, not the demise, but the entrenchment of capitalist hegemony.

Weil rejected the Marxian theory of modern disenchantment on the grounds that it presumed an erroneous and truncated account of matter, one that rejected out of hand any possibility that matter could convey any spiritual import or power to historical action. The spiritual and material worlds did not, to Weil’s mind, constitute a dualism; they were complementary rather than antithetical or antagonistic, and the corporeal realm could mediate divinity while still structured by the laws of nature. Weil preferred an enchanted or sacramental materialism with its own social theory and political implications. ‘The true knowledge of social mechanics,’ she wrote in Oppression and Liberty (posthumous, 1955), involved a conviction that ‘there exist certain material conditions for the supernatural operation of the divine that is present on earth’. In other words, because matter was capable of conveying the supernatural, she saw Marx’s disenchanted materialism as, in a sense, not materialist enough. There is ‘a divine order of the universe’, Weil insisted, and the historical mediations of ‘labour, art and science are only different ways of entering into contact with it.’

Long before Weil, enchanted materialism found an exponent in Gerrard Winstanley, the leader of the Diggers, the most radical of the movements that appeared during the English Revolution of the mid-17th century. A band of landless men who occupied and cultivated St George’s Hill outside London in the spring of 1649, the Diggers (or ‘True Levellers’ as they called themselves) called for common ownership of land and an end to enclosure – the eviction of farmers and the fencing of the commons, the first steps in what Marx called the ‘primitive accumulation’ that gave birth to capitalism.

Seeing many ‘cheated by false-spirited men’, Winstanley – in tracts he wrote from 1648 to 1652 – sketched an unorthodox theology of communism. He insisted that the nascent capitalist order was not just an injustice but a desecration. God, he thought, permeated all things in radical, panentheist immanence, vibrating and shimmering through the material world like Hopkins’s dearest freshness. ‘The whole creation … is the clothing of God,’ he avowed; He ‘fills all with himselfe, he is in all things, and by him all things consist.’ God, or ‘the Great Creator Reason’, had ‘made the Earth to be a Common Treasury’; ‘the Living Earth is the very Garden of Eden, wherein that Spirit of Love did walke.’ The world was charged with this spirit of Love, communism pulsed through the marrow of creation.

Winstanley envisioned a material version of the Christian fall from grace, whereby man began to ‘delight himselfe in the objects of the Creation, more than in the Spirit Reason and Righteousness’. The Fall into idolatry triggered the emergence of property, class and despotism – ‘civil propriety’, as Winstanley called it, with disdain. Greed induced a mis-enchantment of the world; ‘the Ayre and Earth is all poysoned, and the curse dwels in both.’ By occupying St George’s Hill, Winstanley and his comrades had commenced a crusade against the ‘disturbing devil’ of enclosure, or agrarian capitalism metastasising through the English countryside. Winstanley called for English men and women to revive the original communism and reclaim the common treasury of the holy earth. Imbued with the spirit of love, True Levellers would ‘restore all things from the curse’, building a beloved Eden of enchanted communards on the ruins of enclosure. (Alas, the curse remained. Driven from St George’s Hill and silenced in the wake of Oliver Cromwell’s Protectorate, Winstanley eventually joined the Society of Friends and became a respectable corn merchant in London.)

In his masterpiece The World Turned Upside Down (1972), the historian Christopher Hill tried to turn Winstanley into a proto-Marxist, arguing that his merger of God and ‘Reason’ indicated he was ‘struggling towards’ insights conveyed more credibly in ‘non-theological materialisms’. Yet there is no reason to characterise Winstanley in this way other than Hill’s own assumption that religion is an impediment to revolution. Winstanley’s sacramental sensibility galvanised him to political action and afforded him a keen discernment of the iniquity of capitalism.

The Romantics criticised industrial capitalism as a kind of demonic enchantment

Winstanley’s sacramental materialism found later exponents in the Romantic movement, which inherited the sacramental imagination from Christianity. Some of the best-known passages in Romantic poetry exhibit this sacramental quality: William Blake’s ‘auguries of innocence’ that enable him to perceive ‘Heaven in a Wild Flower’; William Wordsworth’s awareness of a ‘presence’ or a ‘sense sublime … Whose dwelling is the light of setting suns, / And the round ocean, and the living air, / And the blue sky, and in the mind of man’. Romantics discerned this world of wonders through ‘imagination’ – a perceptual and rational as well as creative faculty, a kind of vision that enabled the visionary to see more keenly into reality. ‘How can we sing and paint when we do not yet believe and see?’ as Thomas Carlyle asked. Imagination was, Wordsworth explained, ‘reason in her most exalted mood’.

Relying on imagination, the Romantics criticised industrial capitalism as a kind of demonic enchantment. ‘Commercial nations, if they acknowledged the deity whom they serve, might call him All-Gold,’ wrote the poet Robert Southey; indeed, Mammon was ‘a more merciless fiend than Moloch’. ‘Rapine, avarice, expense / This is idolatry; and these we adore,’ Wordsworth wrote of mercantile London. In an early poem, ‘Mammon’, Blake confessed his attraction to the demon: ‘I took it to be the throne of God.’ Mammon was the owner and manager of the ‘dark Satanic mills’ that despoiled England’s green and pleasant land. Like Winstanley, Blake perceived cosmological defilement as well as venality in Lucifer’s factories, a contagion of ‘the spirit of evil in things heavenly’ that turned the world into a ‘Babylon … in the waste.’

In the second quarter of the 19th century – after the Luddite rebellion of the 1810s, the Peterloo Massacre of 1819, and the rapid acceleration of British industrial development – ‘Tory radicals’ such as Carlyle and John Ruskin translated the epiphanies of Diggers and Romantics into the new genre of social criticism. In Sartor Resartus (1833-34), Carlyle wrote of the need to re-tailor ‘the Mythus of the Christian Religion’; the gospel, he asserted, must be re-clothed ‘in a new Mythus, in a new vehicle and vesture, that our Souls … may live.’ Like Winstanley’s, Carlyle’s unorthodox gospel portrayed the world as both a source of sustenance and a portal onto divinity: ‘the Universe is an Oracle and Temple, as well as a Kitchen and Cattle-stall’. Yet there was an insidious new ‘mythus’ that stalked the world: ‘the Gospel of Mammonism’, as Carlyle decried it in Past and Present (1843), a counterfeit evangel proclaiming the ‘miraculous facilities’ enabled by money. Mammon’s gospel had rendered people ‘spell-bound’ in ‘horrid enchantment’; ‘invisible Enchantments’ suffused the ‘plethoric wealth’ churned out by the immiserating factories.

Carlyle’s friend Ruskin rooted his Romantic view of capitalism in a robust imagination of mercenary mis-enchantment. An art critic and historian, Ruskin was mostly known to his contemporaries as a prophet against industrialism: the second volume of The Stones of Venice (1851-3) brought us one of the earliest invectives against mechanisation, and Unto This Last(1862) – one of the greatest (and most vilified) artifacts of social criticism of the Victorian era – inspired not only the Arts and Crafts movement but trade union and Labour Party rank and file.

Marking the stark antagonism between the necessities of capitalist competition and Christian charity, Ruskin observed in Unto This Last that he ‘knew no previous instance in history of a nation’s establishing a systematic disobedience to the first principles of its professed religion’. Ruskin traced the national apostasy to a mis-enchantment that wrought human and ecological devastation. Throughout the five volumes of Modern Painters(1843-1860), he espoused a heterodox sacramental ontology and humanism, praising the ‘ceaseless, inconceivable, inexhaustible loveliness, which God has stamped upon all things’ – especially human beings, whose souls were ‘a mirror of the mind of God’. To Ruskin, capitalism violated earthly beatitude. Devoting their ‘Mammon-matins’ and ‘Mammon-vespers’ to ‘the Goddess of Getting-on’, capitalist societies, he remarked in The Political Economy of Art (1857), worshipped ‘the great evil Spirit of false and fond desire, or Covetousness, which is Idolatry’. (In Unto This Last, Ruskin compared economics to witchcraft and alchemy.) In The Storm-Cloud of the Nineteenth Century (1884), Ruskin’s prescient account recorded the pervasive ecological despoliation of the ‘visible Heaven’ of the atmosphere: clouds infected by ‘bitterness and malice’, and the earth polluted into a hellscape of ‘Blanched sun, – blighted grass, – blinded man.’

From early 19th-century Transcendentalists to the 1960s counterculture, American thinkers have also spoken against capitalist mis-enchantment. Though alienated from organised Christianity, Henry David Thoreau possessed a vivid sense of the holy and sacred. ‘The earth I tread on,’ he wrote in his journals, ‘is a body – has a spirit – is organic – and fluid to the influence of its spirit …’ The market economy profaned the spirit he saw animating the earth. Condemning his pious and enterprising neighbours who lived near Walden Pond, Thoreau focused his fury on one devout yeoman in particular who worshipped ‘the infernal Plutus’. As the farmer was a devotee of pecuniary metaphysics, ‘fruits are not ripe for him till they are turned to dollars’.

With the development of American capitalism after the Civil War, a number of Populists, Social Gospelers, and Arts and Crafters continued the critical tradition of mis-enchantment. Ignatius Donnelly, a popular firebrand and autodidact, promoted a producerist cosmology that echoed Carlyle and Ruskin. The myriad forms of energy and matter were, he asserted, ‘God’s glorious stamp’ on creation; confounding this emblem of divinity, bankers idolising gold ensured the ‘survival of primeval superstition’.

Social Gospelers articulated a similar remonstrance in a more Christian idiom. George Herron spoke for many when he declared that material goods were ‘sacraments of grace’, and that labour and technology were media through which ‘God creates and unfolds the power of men’. If all material reality was sacramental – conveying the grace and power of God – then human making, rightly conceived and performed, was as legitimate a path to righteousness as the more ritualised forms of sacrament. Affirming this ontology, W D P Bliss claimed that George Pullman’s exploitative company town outside Chicago was ‘a devil’s sacrament’, a moral and metaphysical depravity. In Socialism and Character (1912), an important work of socialist theology, Vida Dutton Scudder avowed that ‘the material universe … is a sacrament ordained to convey spiritual life to us’. She contended that God is so present in nature and society ‘it is easy to confuse Him with the very world which He inspires’ – the idolatry into which capitalists fell, worshipping the creation rather than the creator.

Peter Burrowes, a representative voice of the Arts and Crafts intelligentsia, marvelled at craftsmanship in 1904 as ‘the sacrament of common things’, while Horace Traubel, another prominent practitioner, saw ‘God woven in tapestries and beaten in brasses and bound in the covers of books’. Industrial technology, they thought, dehumanised production and deprived men and women of sacramental agency; it posed, in Mary Ware Dennett’s view, ‘a religious problem’ as well as a social question.

‘The task of our generation … is one of metaphysical reconstruction’

William James also echoed Romantic anti-capitalism. In ‘On a Certain Blindness in Human Beings’ (1899), he lamented the ‘jaded and unquickened eye’ of disenchanted moderns, caught up in the scramble for riches. In The Varieties of Religious Experience (1902), James wrote of his alarm at the extent to which acquisitiveness had cancered ‘the very bone and marrow’ of his generation, and he offered ‘saintliness’ as the existential antidote to avarice. Saintliness, to James, was neither callow nor sanctimonious; the saint dwelled in a ‘rapture’ or ‘ontological wonder’ at the beauty and vastness of the Universe – ‘rapt’, he wrote, ‘to the mere spectacle of the world’s existence’.

These religious indictments of capitalism found, in the 1960s, a later generation of exponents. Of all the era’s Left-wing mystics – the Catholic monk Thomas Merton, the poets Kenneth Rexroth, Allen Ginsberg and Gary Snyder, among many others – it was Theodore Roszak in The Making of a Counter Culture (1969) who gave the richest and most cogent alternative to the myth of disenchantment. In Where the Wasteland Ends (1972), Roszak developed a more ambitious account of how radicals needed to enlist the wisdom of older, premodern beliefs, accentuating ‘visionary splendour and the experience of human communion’.

Pointing toward the Romantics, Roszak urged readers to take up the ‘battle cry of a new Reality Principle’: a ‘sacramental consciousness’ more vivid than its ‘objective’ (but not erroneous) antagonist. Politics, he admonished, ‘is metaphysically and psychologically grounded’ – our conceptions of the world and our place within it determine both how we structure communities and how we seek and allocate power. By reducing the world to inanimate stuff that could be understood and manipulated only by experts, ‘disenchantment’ or ‘objective consciousness’ served the interests of business and professional elites – ‘the technocracy’, in Roszak’s shorthand. It allowed them to establish what he called a deadly ‘monopoly of the sacramental powers’. ‘Disenchantment’ disempowered the people; but in organic farms, rural and city communes, cooperatives, free clinics and ‘open universities’, as well as in a mélange of genres and traditions – poetry, Gestaltpsychology, Catholic mysticism, Hindu and Zen Buddhist spirituality, Native American animisms – Roszak saw the human and spiritual lineaments of a sacramental, ‘visionary commonwealth’. The restoration of a ‘sacramental vision of nature’ would discredit disenchantment and ‘the technocracy’, and usher in a more humane, democratic and green political economy. As one of Roszak’s visionary vanguard, the economist E F Schumacher, wrote in Small is Beautiful (1973), ‘the task of our generation … is one of metaphysical reconstruction.’

With ecological as well as economic calamity looming today, understanding and addressing the ontological assumptions of capitalist modernity is imperative. Indeed, ‘metaphysical reconstruction’ must lie at the basis of any revolutionary struggle in our day – in fact, it’s necessary for the survival of the species. If it’s long past time to deny that ‘there is no alternative’ to capitalism, the time has come to renounce the parochial secular dogma of ‘the disenchantment of the world’. The pre-modern belief in the enchantment of the world – modernised in Romanticism, blending scientific rationality with Hopkins’s conviction of God’s worldly grandeur – offers a more humane and generous account of our place in creation, and it provides the most compelling foundation for opposition to capitalism.

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Very florid prose. One can’t read passages like “pecuniary transubstantiation“ without giggling a little.

Mind you, this is the kind of thing that humanities professors write, and this is what they teach. If people are standing around, scratching their heads and wondering why the kids are messed up, that’s because they haven’t examined the curricula.

Take this, for example. An essay that argues that capitalism has replaced spirituality and even trespassed into the realm of ontology, providing explanatory power for the matter and creative forces of the world. A form of mystic socialism is conjured up as a foil to this, if only to entrap people in another, even more predatory form of technocracy with its own equally empty spirituality.

The hard push for socialism in the US is, for the most part, history repeating itself. These same arguments we’re hearing today were aired over a hundred years ago, and for much the same reasons. Namely, the destitution of the working class. Millennials are consistently blamed for ruining this, that, and the other thing by not buying or patronizing enough of whatever it is, but the thing is, Millennials are broke. Call it one too many degrees in underwater basket weaving if you want, but they’re broke, and that makes them easy to manipulate and whip up into a frenzy of self-righteous anger.

Financial liberalization has enabled a wealthy parasite class to reap the benefits of unearned increase through speculation and securitization, taking advantage of asset value bubbles. With the outsourcing of America’s manufacturing industry, much of America’s workforce is now engaged in managerial, clerical, service industry, legal, or research and development work. Many of us are over-educated and under-employed. A kind of malaise has descended upon us. In David Graeber’s book Bullshit Jobs, he decries forms of work that are seen as unnecessary even by the people doing them. People commute long distances and sit in an office to collect a paycheck for ticking boxes and filling out forms that seemingly have no purpose. And, in the end, the ultimate goal of all this labor is to make enough money to buy plastic baubles manufactured in developing countries, just to demonstrate our wealth to others (what Thorstein Veblen called conspicuous consumption).

Empty consumerism and vanity have replaced dignity and purpose, leading to a new and hollow form of spirituality centered on monetary value. We can see the results. The decline of the nuclear family. The waning of religion. The atomization of individuals and the severing of the ties that bind them to anything other than the state, and the subsequent collectivization of the populace and submission to state bureaucracy. Our media and news are a cavalcade of immorality and excess. We are sold humanitarian wars, clean coal, sensible bureaucrats, and other oxymorons akin to virginal sex. We are expected, against all common sense, not to notice or to criticize these trends.

Can capitalism be rehabilitated, or will it inevitably collapse into an authoritarian state-socialist hell as people grow dissatisfied with their withering living standards due to being plundered by banker parasites?
 

Unassuming Local Guy

Friendly and affectionate
kiwifarms.net
I only read about a fifth of this, but in any halfway decent writing you should be able to tell what the author's basic point is almost immediately. I have no idea what the hell this guy is saying. If I had to guess I'd say it's standard leftist protection; he's saying capitalism has become the new state religion and that's bad and scary and we're all gonna die unless we make it illegal to keep your own money.
 

mr.moon1488

True & Honest Fan
kiwifarms.net
Capitalism, and Communism both are shit materialist systems that will always devolve into petty squabbles for control of resources. Eventually, a singular faction will always win out, and it will always be the faction with the least positive societal values as they are willing to expend the greatest effort and ignore any rules towards the goal of gaining control of the resources the society is built upon.

It's almost like if you're not a schizo, you can state the crux of your stances on an issue in one paragraph or less
 

Drain Todger

Unhinged Doomsayer
True & Honest Fan
kiwifarms.net
Stop trying to make Marxism happen. It's NOT going to happen.


Think for a minute about how insipid modern life actually is. People get up in the morning, attend to their hygiene and dress themselves, get behind the wheel of a dangerous conveyance that could crush them into a ball of crumpled metal and ravaged flesh with but a moment's inattention, sit in a soulless and drab cubicle or stand behind a counter for hours on end in a ritual akin to self-imprisonment, and then drive home and collapse in bed. They do this on a continuous basis from the moment they become employable to the moment they retire. The reason why they torture themselves like this is so they can waddle into a giant superstore and buy plastic junk with a credit card so some rich banker can skim interest off the top. This plastic junk is made by actual, literal children slaving away on assembly lines on the other side of the planet, loaded into giant container ships burning the filthiest fuel imaginable, and then trucked to Walmart, where it is purchased, used for maybe a year until it is no longer in usable condition, and then, it gets tossed in a landfill.

Modern civilization takes the limited natural capital of our planet and destroys it in order to convert it into the fictitious capital of money. The entire process is little more than a ritual exalting the value of an abstract notion of what constitutes "work".

Bernard London wrote an essay called Ending the Depression Through Planned Obsolescence, emblematic of this sort of ideal:


People everywhere are today disobeying the law of obsolescence. They are using their old cars, their old tires, their old radios and their old clothing much longer than statisticians had expected on the basis of earlier experience.

The question before the American people is whether they want to risk their future on such continued planless, haphazard, fickle attitudes of owners of ships and shoes and sealing wax.

What the people can afford is very different at a time when the majority are gainfully employed than it is in a period when perhaps ten million are without gainful employment. The job of modern management is to balance production with consumption – to enable one large group, like the factory workers in the cities, to exchange the products of their hours of labor for the output of farmers. The prevailing defeatist assumption that depression and unemployment must continue because we have too much of everything, is the counsel of despair.

Society is suffering untold loss in foregoing the workpower of ten million human beings. The present deadlock is the inevitable result of traveling along blind alleys. Chaos must unavoidably flow from an unplanned economic existence.

In the future, we must not only plan what we shall do, but we should also apply management and planning to undoing the obsolete jobs of the past. This thought constitutes the essence of my plan for ending the depression and for restoring affluence and a better standard of living to the average man.

My proposal would put the entire country on the road to recovery, and eventually restore normal employment conditions and sound prosperity. My suggested remedy would provide a permanent source of income for the Federal Government and would relieve it for all time of the difficulties of balancing its budget.

Briefly stated, the essence of my plan for accomplishing these much-to-be-desired-ends is to chart the obsolesce of capital and consumption goods at the time of their production.

I would have the Government assign a lease of life to shoes and homes and machines, to all products of manufacture, mining and agriculture, when they are first created, and they would be sold and used within the term of their existence definitely known by the consumer. After the allotted time had expired, these things would be legally “dead” and would be controlled by the duly appointed governmental agency and destroyed if there is widespread unemployment. New products would constantly be pouring forth from the factories and marketplaces, to take the place of the obsolete, and the wheels of industry would be kept going and employment regularized and assured for the masses.

What he describes is nothing less than diabolical. Essentially, he advocates for the destruction of accumulated wealth and the consumption of more natural resources in order to force people to work, pay taxes, and so on (i.e. make the market more liquid).

This sort of planned obsolescence is something that we actually do see in modern society. For instance, clothing stores destroy billions of pounds of unsold merchandise every year.


All of these reasons for destroying perfectly fine clothing are, to put it bluntly, incredibly stupid — not to mention wasteful. According to statistics from the World Resources Institute, it takes 2,700 liters of water, or the amount of water a single person drinks in two and a half years, to make a single cotton shirt. Synthetic materials like polyester may require less water and land than their organic counterparts, but they’re even worse for the environment. In 2015, polyester production for textiles released 1.5 trillion pounds of greenhouse gases in 2015. HuffPost reported that 26 billion pounds of clothing — from consumers and corporations — ends up in landfills every year.

Aquifer depletion and soil erosion threaten our agriculture, and yet we throw away 1.3 billion tons of food globally each year.


There are literal islands of garbage in our oceans.


Electronics are growing more disposable and less repairable.


Aside from the wholesale destruction of our environment, all of this, taken together, represents the ritualized creation and destruction of wealth and the dilution of living standards for a large number of people. Herman Daly had a term for this. He called it Uneconomic Growth.


Globalization via export-led growth is the new philosopher’s stone of the IMFIBRD-WTO alchemists. Nations can all turn their lead into gold by free trade. With the revival of alchemy comes a return to the logic of Mercantilism: wealth is gold, and the way for countries without mines to get gold is to export more goods than they import, and receive payment for the difference in gold—the alchemy of trade. The way to export more than you import is to reduce wages, and to externalize social and environmental costs, because that keeps prices of your exports competitive. Low wages also prevent your laboring class majority from buying imported goods and thereby dissipating the trade surplus. The way to keep wages low is to have an oversupply of labor. An oversupply of labor can be attained by easy immigration and high birth rates among the working class. Globalization requires, therefore, that for a nation to be rich, the working-class majority of its citizens must be poor, increase in number, and live in a deteriorating environment! Behind these absurdities is the further contradiction that under globalization it no longer makes sense to speak of “nations” (only corporations); nor of “citizens” (only employees). Truly, globalization is accelerating the shift to an era of uneconomic growth, a time when, as John Ruskin foresaw, “That which seems to be wealth may in verity be only the gilded index of far-reaching ruin".

Is this not essentially what we see in first-world countries? Tons of immigration and outsourcing, the dilution of wages, and an economy that explicitly rewards shareholders before employees. Home ownership being delayed. People in debt up to their eyeballs everywhere.

All of these things have a common cause. One single culprit. And the name of that culprit is neoliberalism.




I only read about a fifth of this, but in any halfway decent writing you should be able to tell what the author's basic point is almost immediately. I have no idea what the hell this guy is saying. If I had to guess I'd say it's standard leftist protection; he's saying capitalism has become the new state religion and that's bad and scary and we're all gonna die unless we make it illegal to keep your own money.

That was exactly my point. It's a convoluted article that beats around the bush and uses way too many five-dollar words. Most people won't be able to divine the point of that essay, and yet, that's the kind of crap that dominates academia.

Capitalism, and Communism both are shit materialist systems that will always devolve into petty squabbles for control of resources. Eventually, a singular faction will always win out, and it will always be the faction with the least positive societal values as they are willing to expend the greatest effort and ignore any rules towards the goal of gaining control of the resources the society is built upon.

It's almost like if you're not a schizo, you can state the crux of your stances on an issue in one paragraph or less

Okay then. I can condense it way, way down.

The IMF, World Bank, G20, WTO, Trilateral Commission, Bilderberg Group, and the rest of these crooks want absolute control over every aspect of our lives. The goad they use is money. The means by which they employ this goad are financial liberalization, tons of immigration, the dilution of the bargaining power of the wage laborer, and the homogenization of global society into a single melting pot from which they intend to skim off the top. Capitalism and Communism are both puppeteered by the same forces.
 
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Assman

kiwifarms.net
What compels you to do this shit? You seemed to have gotten a clue since your humble beginning of doomposting walls of text about COVID as some totally unqualified fat sperg ferry operator on a site for laughing at people. You even dunked on an even bigger retard in the @BoxerShorts47 thread and won over some supporters. Then you plop out a TLDR stale turd about how capitalism is the root of all evil.

Come on nigger.
 

TheProdigalStunna

I'm not giving back the documents
True & Honest Fan
kiwifarms.net
Since this is Kiwi Farms, I'm well aware that saying anything remotely negative about capitalism, or that Marx said anything remotely of worth, will immediately get you marked with "commie bad". This post will mostly go unread just as the opening post has.

The birth of capitalism is admittedly an interest of mine, particularly in its relation to religion. For what it's worth, I do think that the emphasis that it could have only happened under the Protestant Reformation, and Calvinism in particular, is somewhat overstated (this is a common talking point among tradCaths). Markets and systems of finance clearly existed before the Protestant Reformation, especially in the Italian peninsula. Now, could that development have happened without some rebellion towards official Church teaching (i.e. usury, just prices)? That, I'm not so sure of, and I do think that the Church and Throne definitely had a vested interest in preventing merchants and financiers from getting out of hand. Even then, these systems of commerce and finance played a largely auxiliary role to the feudal relations of pre-modern Europe. This is another important point: merchants in virtually all pre-capitalist societies were despised.

One thing that a lot of people don't understand, especially Americans, is that the way industrial capitalism really took off in the 19th century was a distinct break from the way virtually all societies were run, and it was not universally appreciated. While I think Karl Polanyi does over-exaggerate certain things, it is no mistake to call it a Great Transformation. Most people are surprised to learn that private property in the strict sense is a relatively recent invention, monetary transactions were very few rather than the basis of all social relations, commons played an important role in all societies, and that wage labor was not the norm until really the 20th century, and before then was almost universally hated from all sides. This shift will inevitably uproot the social basis of societies, and will most certainly create a corresponding "double-movement" against it. No social framework like capitalism will so reliably produce discontent wherever it is introduced. One thing that critics of capitalism are most certainly right about is that the loneliness we feel nowadays is basically exclusive to modernity and is largely the result of a hyper-individualistic society with a high division of labor and fragmented families and communities. Conservatives are well aware of this fragmentation and try to revive feelings of Gemeinschaft to act against it, despite allying with the very forces that create it.

Socialism, then, is in many ways a reactionary movement because it is seeks to reconstitute those sames bases of pre-capitalist societies with many of the benefits of the industrialized world. It's largely about the process of having your cake (the lack of alienation, economics of reciprocity, hallmarks of the past) and eating it (clean water, food security, modern medicine, things that basically did not exist before capitalism). There was once a remark I read from a commentator, with which I agree, that the way young people have taken to socialism has less to do with a redress to poverty but rather a creation of a new world that acts as an antidote to the loneliness and purposelessness that seems to be omnipresent under modernity. The problem is that Socialism also has a very weak definition of Gemeinschaft. A society bound together as the children of God is a much stronger one than one tied together solely on the "brotherhood of man". It is no mistake that virtually all secular intentional communes fail while religious are more likely to succeed.

As for the article itself, I think Eugene McCarraher gets a little carried away as many of the romantic Catholic types are wont to do. I've read a few other articles by him (not his book, which is around 800 pages), as I have ran around in that whole tradcath scene, and his romanticism can blind him. I distinctly remember him at one point saying he rejected that scarcity and homo economicus as two principles of economics, two principles that I think are largely legit. And I think his conceptions of the pre-capitalist past is a little too rosy and ahistorical, which one would expect from someone who uses the English Romantics as his guide. I highly doubt that European peasants were all little William Blakes who took Catholic sacramentalism to the level of animism and pantheism in all things. Not to mention that the praise you get from the guilds from these types is pretty ahistorical as well. Workers, tradesmen, and work itself were basically despised in the middle ages, not as an indignity suffered to the worker but rather a sign of the moral inferiority of those participated in it. One thing that both Socialism and Capitalism share is that both see work as a fundamentally good and honorable thing, which was a distinct break from the past. And in any case, all these quaint little tradesmen with their arts and crafts still exist. Also, he gets a little carried away with Commodity Fetishism, a pretty simple concept that commodities appear to possess qualities of their own while masking the relations of production that went into them, by turning it into some weird sacramental nonsense. Also, German Romantics > English Romantics. Give me Sturm Und Drang, no wandering lonely as a cloud.

With all that being said, capitalism defenders are 100% unequipped with answering many of the moral and social dilemmas that accrue under capitalism. By and large, economics has become totally untethered from any notion of human needs and desires, and it's beginning to show. People want a secure, purposeful life, and no amount of economic growth can account for that. A few have tried by highlighting some of positive benefits of not just the prosperity but the principles behind capitalism as possessing moral qualities (Tyler Cowen, Deirdre McCloskey). While I found them entertaining and would love to believe them, they were also completely disconnected from "actually existing capitalism".

Lastly, I'd like to ask my fellow Kiwis who had such a knee-jerk reaction to the OP to humor me and answer a few questions.
1. Would your rather work for yourself or receive a monetary payment by working form someone else?
2. How do you foresee people reforming close communities under the current economic paradigm?
3. Why are rural communities floundering while urban communities flourishing under the current economic paradigm?
4. Why does globalism happen? Why do companies outsource?
5. Do you think that the very rich genuinely share your interests?
6. Like it or not, Socialism as a viable alternative has returned from the grave. Why is that?
 
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Meat Target

A&H gave me Tourettes
kiwifarms.net
He's right in premise: unfettered capitalism, and more recently, woke capitalism makes a society of hollow consoomerist bugmen, who consider nothing sacred (except maybe junk like their vidya games and funkopops).

But he's wrong in conclusion. Socialism is a proven death cult.
tumblr_om0eae4HSL1uaxri9o1_500.jpg
 

Y2K Baby

The Codex of Ultimate Wisdom???
True & Honest Fan
kiwifarms.net
Since this is Kiwi Farms, I'm well aware that saying anything remotely negative about capitalism, or that Marx said anything remotely of worth, will immediately get you marked with "commie bad". This post will mostly go unread just as the opening post has.

The birth of capitalism is admittedly an interest of mine, particularly in its relation to religion. For what it's worth, I do think that the emphasis that it could have only happened under the Protestant Reformation, and Calvinism in particular, is somewhat overstated (this is a common talking point among tradCaths). Markets and systems of finance clearly existed before the Protestant Reformation, especially in the Italian peninsula. Now, could that development have happened without some rebellion towards official Church teaching (i.e. usury, just prices)? That, I'm not so sure of, and I do think that the Church and Throne definitely had a vested interest in preventing merchants and financiers from getting out of hand. Even then, these systems of commerce and finance played a largely auxiliary role to the feudal relations of pre-modern Europe. This is another important point: merchants in virtually all pre-capitalist societies were despised.

One thing that a lot of people don't understand, especially Americans, is that the way industrial capitalism really took off in the 19th century was a distinct break from the way virtually all societies were run, and it was not universally appreciated. While I think Karl Polanyi does over-exaggerate certain things, it is no mistake to call it a Great Transformation. Most people are surprised to learn that private property in the strict sense is a relatively recent invention, monetary transactions were very few rather than the basis of all social relations, commons played an important role in all societies, and that wage labor was not the norm until really the 20th century, and before then was almost universally hated from all sides. This shift will inevitably uproot the social basis of societies, and will most certainly create a corresponding "double-movement" against it. No social framework like capitalism will so reliably produce discontent wherever it is introduced. One thing that critics of capitalism are most certainly right about is that the loneliness we feel nowadays is basically exclusive to modernity and is largely the result of a hyper-individualistic society with a high division of labor and fragmented families and communities. Conservatives are well aware of this fragmentation and try to revive feelings of Gemeinschaft to act against it, despite allying with the very forces that create it.

Socialism, then, is in many ways a reactionary movement because it is seeks to reconstitute those sames bases of pre-capitalist societies with many of the benefits of the industrialized world. It's largely about the process of having your cake (the lack of alienation, economics of reciprocity, hallmarks of the past) and eating it (clean water, food security, modern medicine, things that basically did not exist before capitalism). There was once a remark I read from a commentator, with which I agree, that the way young people have taken to socialism has less to do with a redress to poverty but rather a creation of a new world that acts as an antidote to the loneliness and purposelessness that seems to be omnipresent under modernity. The problem is that Socialism also has a very weak definition of Gemeinschaft. A society bound together as the children of God is a much stronger one than one tied together solely on the "brotherhood of man". It is no mistake that virtually all secular intentional communes fail while religious are more likely to succeed.

As for the article itself, I think Eugene McCarraher gets a little carried away as many of the romantic Catholic types are wont to do. I've read a few other articles by him (not his book, which is around 800 pages), as I have ran around in that whole tradcath scene, and his romanticism can blind him. I distinctly remember him at one point saying he rejected that scarcity and homo economicus as two principles of economics, two principles that I think are largely legit. And I think his conceptions of the pre-capitalist past is a little too rosy and ahistorical, which one would expect from someone who uses the English Romantics as his guide. I highly doubt that European peasants were all little William Blakes who took Catholic sacramentalism to the level of animism and pantheism in all things. Not to mention that the praise you get from the guilds from these types is pretty ahistorical as well. Workers, tradesmen, and work itself were basically despised in the middle ages, not as an indignity suffered to the worker but rather a sign of the moral inferiority of those participated in it. One thing that both Socialism and Capitalism share is that both see work as a fundamentally good and honorable thing, which was a distinct break from the past. And in any case, all these quaint little tradesmen with their arts and crafts still exist. Also, he gets a little carried away with Commodity Fetishism, a pretty simple concept that commodities appear to possess qualities of their own while masking the relations of production that went into them, by turning it into some weird sacramental nonsense. Also, German Romantics > English Romantics. Give me Sturm Und Drang, no wandering lonely as a cloud.

With all that being said, capitalism defenders are 100% unequipped with answering many of the moral and social dilemmas that accrue under capitalism. By and large, economics has become totally untethered from any notion of human needs and desires, and it's beginning to show. People want a secure, purposeful life, and no amount of economic growth can account for that. A few have tried by highlighting some of positive benefits of not just the prosperity but the principles behind capitalism as possessing moral qualities (Tyler Cowen, Deirdre McCloskey). While I found them entertaining and would love to believe them, they were also completely disconnected from "actually existing capitalism".

Lastly, I'd like to ask my fellow Kiwis who had such a knee-jerk reaction to the OP to humor me and answer a few questions.
1. Would your rather work for yourself or receive a monetary payment by working form someone else?
2. How do you foresee people reforming close communities under the current economic paradigm?
3. Why are rural communities floundering while urban communities flourishing under the current economic paradigm?
4. Why does globalism happen? Why do companies outsource?
5. Do you think that the very rich genuinely share your interests?
6. Like it or not, Socialism as a viable alternative has returned from the grave. Why is that?
Dumb nigger.
 

Robert James

Spooky months over time for turkey.
True & Honest Fan
kiwifarms.net
I only read about a fifth of this, but in any halfway decent writing you should be able to tell what the author's basic point is almost immediately. I have no idea what the hell this guy is saying. If I had to guess I'd say it's standard leftist protection; he's saying capitalism has become the new state religion and that's bad and scary and we're all gonna die unless we make it illegal to keep your own money.

They are very smart and can use big words somewhat correctly, Money bad, Communism is Marxism and capitalism hate fuck baby, Marxisim good, and the point that the article should of focused on.

Capitalist killed god to infuse their economic system with his blood. Effectively people treat capitalism not only as a form of religion but that it actively seeks out to destroy faith and mysticism outside of it's own confines. The old argument that the American dream is no different than heaven, or that being able to make your own wealth is a myth. Which considering non religious people have the same part of their brain activated when they see an add for a company they like as religious people have activated when they see religious iconography is a relatively decent point. Combine this with the current run of Lifestyle brands and bugmen treating a marvel release as a lifetime event and you could have a relatively intelligent argument against capitalism bastardization of faith through consumerism.

The issue is like all marxist intellectuals the author is too concerned with reminding you how intelligent they are and too focused on explaining the simplest concepts in the most grandiose way possible to actually make a point.
 
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