The Great Svengali

Capitalism is full of unbelievably bad ideas. Businessmen and venture capitalists, on the other hand? Fuckinjj geniuses. Capitalism creates a culture of bad ideas. Let’s make money selling oil, and burn that oil until the atmosphere warms up. That’s the good old global warming philosophy. Trump called it that. Maybe we need some “good old global warming.” Tweet of late Dec., 2017. That’s not fake news. He wrote that, tweeted this message, which is a capitalist bad idea, or is that BAD idea? I don’t know, you should ask genius, don Trump. Or is it DON? Don’t ask me. I wouldn’t know; don’t have enough money.

 

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Money Divides Itself Up

Where Money Divides Itself Up
Where is the economy? Is it in the money? Or is it in the people who are dividing it up? It is a hard question to answer. But the standard idea that appears in our universities strikes me as entirely inadequate. It is that the money divides itself up due to self-interest. They know that people are involved, but they just assume that everyone is self-interested. The weaknesses of the approach are readily apparent. I find myself very clear about it. In any case, what is the use in arguing with the members of the bizarre cult who believe that self-interest answers the question of distribution?
Maybe we should take persons out of the picture entirely. Could it be that the money divides itself spontaneously? No, because it does not have a mind. But then how is it distributed? How is it divided amongst persons, within society? This is a real problem, the problem of how to decide who gets what. Capitalism can only exist if this decision is made. Who makes the decision? In the social setting in which neoclassical economics arose it was getting itself distributed. And capitalism was growing. This is the kind of society that Marshall saw, in which this problem had to be answered. Those Marshall called the “professionals” were out to solve it. What I personally have no sympathy with, whatsoever, is the view that if we come up with some equations that solves the problem. I have a glimpse – I can sort of see how one could think that, but it seems completely deluded.
.What they were really doing was imposing a particular view, and that view was that of the individualist. Capitalism is not individualist, though. But, should one insist on individualism, it becomes a tough problem to solve. Neoclassical economics assumes individualism with no justification.
.Trade relations, by Marshall’s day, had been established. Once relations were established, persons spontaneously began helping each other. Not everybody wants this. The Western individualist instead has an austere, mechanical view. This is his view of how life “should” be. For him, this is how it “must” be. How things must be. These persons had no space in their minds for anything outside of individualism. Yet, they had to confront reality.
.What these persons were confronted with was a developing market reality, and, what was motivating them? I think the real aim is to solve this problem of economics without saying that humans are socially motivated. They are willing to tackle economics matters only so long as human goodness or social feeling is not part of it. One could argue that that wouldn’t be scientific. So, we want to stay closer to science. In one book I saw, in a library, the assertion is that things occur by the “Laws” of economics. There are just Laws out there and it works by those Laws. Interesting that no one says that anymore. It sounds archaic. Somehow.
.My theory is that economics (meaning capitalism) functions because of goodwill, which is totally different from self-interest. One can discern that such a “social” idea could be threatening, to some Erroll Flynn millionaire, slashing his way forth in selfish splendor. But, once again, defer to science. Which alternative explanations exist? How do cooperation and goodwill solve the problem? What does the existence of goodwill explain?
As I indicated above, the money actually was getting divided up, the proletariat were not sinking ever deeper into misery. Something was happening. Capitalism was working. It wasn’t simply a Malthusian death trap. It is a very interesting problem. In trying to get rich, why would anyone share his gains with any other person? By the 1870s, this seemed to be happening. Capitalism was beginning to pay a living wage, instead of just sending its working class to the graveyard. To explain this directly, the scholars of economics would have had to discuss public (Speenhamland laws) or private social behaviors. The neoclassical school, in my view, was simply made up of persons who did not want to think that way. Those who were more oriented towards social policy may have become “socialists.” And this would seem to divide up the economic thinkers rather neatly.
In order to analyze economics, one must find it. How elusive is this? Start with the condition of nature, the conditions found in nature. There are resources; and they have to be divided up. There are two elements of this condition or situation. There are persons, and there is the physical setting the people are in. This called “nature” or “resources.” (t.b.c.)

We are All in this World Together

I was browsing, at the library…
I was casually browsing, at a local library. I picked up a book. I am concerned with the “messages” that affect our lives, and how these come in a package. Books of a society make that package available. If one picks up one’s read in either a l ibrary, or a bricks-and-mortar store, the experience that comes is a tangible whole. In fact there is now a physical representation, on 34th street, involving your experience of Amazon books and New York city.
When books are marketed like this there’s more interaction, which provides a path towards seeing what printers and manufacturers want out of us. It provides a way to understand what the book printers and makers and publishers desire, want, or need to say to us. I was looking at a book, for example, by a certain Brannen. It had the title, “The End of…” Ends of the world. It has a nice pleasant colorful cover. The world may come to an end. Could be, it is possible. All these kinds of books say, basically all’s well. The world goes on; everything’s fine. Books come out, etc. The world works well; we are going to put out some nice books. The ends of the world…Ha!

.
This sort of marketing provides me with information, and no less so than do the words. These are messages, you could say. Both are messages. They are the words in the book, arranged by the clever writer and the marketing, arranged by clever publishing firm. These are in the package, together. The marketing aspect, including the “buyer experience,” contains a message. And so does the stuffy, official content. Both are together. There is one package, and many.
Why should we think any differently? The book has content. It has something to say , in words. That’s the text. We call that the argument. That is one argument, one message, one transmission. A particular book’s content/argument is just one “message.” An individual, any individual in the course of life, gets millions of messages. That’s all the society does, is to send messages. And do you think the recipient of all of the messages keeps the marketing and the content separate? Or is the “marketing” a cultural element, mixed with other cultural characteristics?
It must be hard for persons to admit the truth of this. But it is about time that we face up to the way we receive the messages transmitted to us, within U. S. culture.
But why bother to say “U. S.” culture? It probably has been no different at any time in history since Gutenberg’s press. But the U. S. has been organized as a democracy, and its people are subject to these forces. They will have a job to do, in the next election. We have a responsibility to carry out a certain mandate.
Intellectuals should possess a broader understanding of cultural forces. Come off the high road; get your feet wet.

 

ssages, that affect our lives, and come together, in a pckge, w the book.

The New, Modern, Sleek Writing Style

The College of Arts and Sciences. That’s where you can find some top professors who excel at what they do. And they try to be as profound as possible. The country, however, has gone another way. Our US/America wants things simple, and modern, and sleek. Newspapers feature – from a new breed of intellectuals now – a kind of “abbreviated” writing. The writers use unexamined assumptions. They offer vague approximations. They accept whatever kind of unexamined assumptions works, to flesh out their style. What they are writing is the current, new style. Over at the university, there is another style of scholarly practice, but it must certainly be  dying. Anyways, who was been reading? The fact is they are not getting read. There is no great number of people reading. And so, it has been having no influence for some time now. Time – and the society – moves on.

    There is this older kind of text, then, and this one attempts to dig into details, but in a meaningful way; it attempts to notice all of the distinctions, but with maximum precision. US/America is a capitalist country. Increasingly, the only thing we can discern that matters is money, and the country where this is happening is finally responding to the market and it is moving towards a different kind of writing. The old forms of scholarly excellence are clearly being replaced by younger, abbreviated forms of intellect and these are less precise. The new trend. Scholarship is in decline. In capitalism the entire society is a market. It is that society that is implicated (different from saying the individual) in this phenomenon, that of a market demand. It is a social demand, or trend, but not merely individual. There are those sitting in high places – gatekeepers of the culture you can say – who are now forced to give in. For this is the commercial demand of the society.

    Excellent scholars exist – like jewels in lotuses. But lonely jewels. No one is listening to them. No one is praying to them anymore.

++

All the mainstream economics jargon in the books looks at markets as if the phenomenon were somehow a kind of individualism, but a moment’s reflection should suffice, and a reasonable person will no doubt discern that what we call “economics” exists socially. But we are not supposed to say that; and this is not in the books, so the book will put emphasis on the individual economic actor, unconnected to others. That view is contrary to reality. Why is there this project to reduce the kinds of things called “economics” to an individual level? It is astounding, once you see through this! For example: How can a market be one individual? Or only individuals? But we the books look like they thing the entire market is only individuals. It isn’t true! Why this brazen mistake? In my view, which I do not think is crazy, a whole society is now choosing to lower its standard, in regard to a certain kind of writing. That is not the decision of one individual. And if we look over at the individuals, then what we can see are a few remaining “old-fashioned scholars,” and their editors perhaps, who would like to extend the “ancien regime.” All that is left are a few tottering old kings, then. Markets are not individual.

 

The only way to describe the “science of economics” is as a pernicious ideology.

Corporations and American Life

There is a big, daunting question that we have to ask, and it is about the American system, America.  It is perfectly possible that the current system will just stop functioning. This can happen. The more the people of the U S. stick to outdated economics (there is a semi-official thought pattern called “economics” that in my view is a false system of thought. I developed my view over ten or fifteen years), the faster and worse such a daunting crisis will be. It will come, and this has been my view for longer than I have had my economics theory. So, maybe it is: Not if, but “When”? These thoughts patterns are like the American institutions, institutions like for example the corporations. I speak of them and of economics thought patterns surrounding their existence. It is all part of the established way of American life and thought. This is unfortunate. We are stuck on it, and it is past the time when these habits of the mind, habits that we are stuck on, are even working. They need to be questioned and they need to be dropped. It doesn’t seem that difficult, but what if the U. S. continues to be obstinate, stupid, and entrenched? Our economic propaganda is going to turn on us. In time, this set of peculiarly American, entrenched assumptions and institutions will no longer work. We had better believe that that can happen, but somehow it is not in the “American way” to question our “peculiar institution.” Not slavery. I do not mean slavery this time, because that one everyone does question.

But in this country nobody believes such “economics” is less than correct or appropriate. They do not believe in changing their views. This is very serious. There are certainly many reasons. The first being as follows: that capitalism has lasted longer than anyone thought possible. Sure, there are such reasons, but the American thought patterns are too narrow? Why are they so intent on supplying that laundry list, rather than using a brand of detergent not endorsed by the major corporations?

We are depending on the world views of a few persons, controlling what “Salon” magazine says are: “10 giant corporations that control, either directly or indirectly, virtually everything we buy.” That is not competition.

That is not diversity.

It’s dumb, and not a good way of preparing for the future.

 

Fit to be printed…and Tied

What is the real feeling I am getting, this trip in Manhattan? As I know it is one very central place, and what is happening is that institutions interact. They cohabit the place. The place: the urban setting.

The New York Times and the Wall Street Journal are located in the heart of New York. What it is they feel is “fit to print” I don’t know. But whatever it is it does not even reflect their own city.

And the Wall Street Journal’s editorial page? Such garbage!

There is some difference that one may feel, between the social milieu (“atmosphere” is a word I use here) and our narrow, propagandistic thought-doctrine. What I am saying is that we are not being true to our own system.
     There is the thought system of capitalism and the reality of capitalism.

Economic Theory Contribution for my reader

The influence of Standard Oil executive, Henry Flagler, is still palpable in St. Augustine today. He is largely responsible for the “look” of the town. In the 1800’s Flagler built two hotels across from one other. These properties became the playgrounds for wealthy East Coast socialites, who came for the warm weather in the winter months. One hotel now houses City Hall and the Lightner Museum

Here is a man doing much business. His activities seem connected to Rockefeller. Isn’t it Standard Oil that Rockefeller was in charge of? I think he owned it. But maybe the shareholders do. But here is a man destroying the environment, creating an oil empire, a monopoly, as we know, and doing whatever else those capitalists actually do. But then again he subsidized a nice city, which, after all, is a place for persons to live. Making a nice little Florida community. This does not destroy anyone. Arguably.

This represents what I think of as the two sides of capitalism, or two faces of capitalism, and this is called, in my system, the hybridity of it. That is why this system is so resilient and survived. Long-lived.

To understand, you need to be able to make the connection to people’s lives. This is key. This seems to be the trick to my system of thinking about capitalism. I wonder if I can get other persons to see it the way I do!

http://www.theladyisatramp.net/the-florida-files/

An American Treatise

We need to make it possible for interesting coincidences to happen. It needs to happen, to be able to happen. Stuff that is totally “by accident,” like an idea; or, a hit song. But for that we need an “unregulated” world. OK, so that is a valid idea and this we need.

Accidents need to be to happen, really. But what does this have to do with economics? I have no idea really.

What we need is to learn about economics. But for real this time. As it is, economics is a basic mystery. There may be certain complex reasons that this particular ignorance spot exists in the culture, but also it is p ossible to inquire into that. Is it time to do it?

Once we know more, once we inquire more, then – I am sure – it will no longer be so “unregulated.”

University jobs (a short excerpt)

Most things we know are right there before us. We know it in the immediate sense, or you can say, in the moment. In addition to that kind of knowledge there is the claim that there is something else to know beyond the immediate. This claim is usually made in the universities, but many things do not work that way. If we look at how many things work we see that what we know right away, up front, without getting into any problems or having any worries or doubts, it is quite a lot of our total experienced cognition as humans. So, the idea still comes up, when it comes up, that there is a further, or a deeper, level. Why not? Additional knowledge is possible beyond the things we know in the moment, beyond what we know in the immediate sense. But all of it is still rather far away from seeing “red” while knowing it is “red.” What red “really” is doesn’t matter.

It seems plausible that the higher level, the university knowledge, exists. But explicitly starting through the consideration that much knowledge is just “right there” is a good way to evaluate these additional claims to knowledge to separate them from the immediate level. After all, all the other stuff may be there to create jobs. In a society that relies so much on jobs, there might be the condition where something (like pretense of deep knowing?) could become valued merely for that very reason. This could happen; we are stuck with a society that depends on jobs. If the structure of society depends on jobs, whatever it is that creates jobs eventually becomes considered in a favorable light, regardless of the real knowledge (if any) being encountered or discovered. Thus. the institution of universities might become an end in itself. And consider that the idea of additional knowledge beyond the immediate is essential, for any such job to even exist. What is really going on? What kinds of knowledge come, then, from the institutions of the university?

Are they doing anything aside from showing all of us how well they can spell and use the comma?

In other words, we can say that these jobs produce a kind of smooth speech. Is that all? But what, then, if that is 99.5% of it? Then we could give Einstein and Freud a break, but then we would also be able get on with the job of creating of all those jobs that society needs. Or thinks it needs. How to account for all of “the rest of it”?

How lopsided are social groupings under capitalism? What is the social value of, say – a bad musician? How many heavy metal groups does society really need? These are some questions. Should we have so many T.V. weathermen? Or do you not need one? Or do you need only one for each area? To know which way the wind blows? Every circus needs a clown, but does every T.V. station need a weatherman?

(Obviously I am going over the top, and far exceeding my original concept, ‘a short excerpt.’ Maybe I should have quit while I was ahead. Or, maybe one of my readers can write the next part; your contribution will certainly be valued. If it has any real value, that is to say, outside the immediate?…)

Capitalism’s Foibles, in Various Stripes

 

Capitalism is not just of one kind. There were several books that came out on that theme about five years ago. This is the theme of multiple capitalisms. And many persons have noted the progressiveness of capitalism, which is to say that the kinds are also in reference to time. These changing kinds or periods have been occurring since Adam Smith wrote “Wealth of…” and Schumpeter also mentions this fact, characterizing capitalism as changing. Capitalism, therefore, is “progressive.”

Regarding the kind of capitalism we have now, there are many things that are being done at present that are absurd. We act in certain specific ways. There are general characteristics by which we call a system capitalist and there are specific characteristics to specific styles or periods of capitalism, and at the present time we are following the absurd practice of completely ignoring the practice of giving, in favor of only selling things. It is perfectly human to do both. Some things are sold, and others (including things you use at the job for example) are given. It is absurd to ignore one and only acknowledge the other. We have an intolerance of the idea of giving anything without being paid, and if this is not balanced by acceptance that there are many things that are given things, we for example end up with no friends, and why is that? It is because everyone knows you cannot buy friendship. Well, that is true. So, in the present capitalism, why have friends? What good would that do? And few persons in the society do today. Even such small acts of friendship or affection that may have occurred between customers and shopkeepers are more rare. We buy more things in a completely impersonal way. For instance, at McDonalds. In we go. We have no personal involvement or contact with the clerk who takes our order. The same goes for fancier places, although the higher the prices, the more they pretend to be your friend. That is just fake friendliness; that is what happens in this stage of capitalism. This comprises just one absurd characteristic of the present kind of life we lead under the general class of capitalist systems.

Also, in this system that places the most value on selling things we never stop at a reasonable number of such things. No, we want to sell more and more. If a company does not continually increase its sales, it might be a target of take-over. It also has to sell more and more while charging less and less. If it cannot do that, it is said not to be competitive!

This does not sound crazy to us because we believe the “folklore” about capitalism that is the topic of Thurman Arnold’s 1937 book. These particular beliefs and behaviors, which is to say using certain ideas and valuing particular sorts of behaviors, made one kind of sense when they were first practiced, but  they make another kind of sense today – or, perhaps they make no sense. Capitalism is quite the expert at switching one thing for another. This happens in a variety of ways, including ideologically.

Another characteristic of capitalism that is especially prominent today is that it wants to have specific products on the shelf that you can choose from. We have many, many examples of any one sort of product, all very similar but with slightly different features. The makers love to throw all these varieties at us. For example, you cannot just eat potato chips anymore. They come in twelve different flavors. And capitalist production goes on whether on not you need the product, and whether or not it does anybody any good or not. And whether it does earth’s environment any good or not. So, there are many things about capitalism that are quite off-the-charts absurd, but the system nevertheless continues. We do not dwell on these absurd aspects very much. Rather we seem to accept this particular way of life. Who cares about the absurds? The food still works for us, and capitalism has not killed us – not yet.