It's ok to be angry about capitalism

Terminal Blue

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If you live by yourself long ago, how do you eat if you don't hunt/grow food?
Kind of the universal rule of human existence is that if you live by yourself, you're doing it wrong.

Ironically though, early hunter gatherers barely worked at all. They had more leisure time than basically anyone else in human history, because their way of life was extremely labor efficient and they didn't need to support an organized society. Agriculture was the worst disaster in human history in terms of its impact on working hours, but it allowed for a larger population and a more organized society where people afford to specialize beyond meeting basic needs. Even then, because agricultural work is seasonal and industries were relatively small, most people still didn't work as much as people do today.

I never claimed that everyone has to work 40 hours a week for society to function or that the economy needs to grow, but everyone should work to contribute to society.
Why though?

Again, a tiny fraction of the population of a modern industrial economy can accomplish tasks that used to require most of the population. The proportion of people globally employed in agriculture is tiny. Even manufacturing is shrinking out of existence as the majority of the human population moves into the service industry, much of which is itself being trivialized by technology. Bureaucratic tasks which used to require dozens people and elaborate filing systems can be handled by a single computer. You talk about technology making work redundant at some distant point in the future, but it's already happening and it's been happening for centuries.

Sure, work couldn't be eliminated at this point. Fortunately, noone is talking about that. But why is it necessary for everyone to work, other than satisfying some weird moral belief about the Protestant work ethic? Is there nothing people could do to contribute to society other than flipping burgers for minimum wage so that someone else doesn't have to spend 20 minutes making themselves a burger after spending 10 hours in a call centre?

We have peer capitalist societies that work less, why is capitalism itself the cause of people working too much?
Because it is. Before capitalism, you worked when there was work to be done. If someone was employing you, you were probably part of their household and your payment was being fed and given a place to sleep. Capitalism introduced the idea of salaried employment, and consequentially the idea of fixed working hours.

The reason why some capitalist countries work fewer hours isn't because they're doing capitalism better, it's because they have or had countervailing forces (typically, labor organization or socialist politicians) which forced the reduction in working hours. That's the only reason anything that benefits poor people ever happens under capitalism. Jeff Bezos is never going to say "oh, I could lose a couple of zeros off my yearly income if it means those poor workers in Amazon human resource processing camp A get paid holidays". He'll lock them out as soon as they try to unionize and then bus in strikebreakers, because that's how a person (or corporation, more realistically) becomes rich enough to have that kind of power.
 

Buyetyen

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Progressivism is the baggage implied by conservatism. The logic of conservatism is "what we've inherited as a society is good, and we should maintain it". The logic of progressivism is "we should make a better society for the future to inherit." Those are the exact same position, just looking different ways. Anyone who tries to maintain one of those positions without the other is a fool.
How characteristically reductivist of you.

You heckle me because you enjoy it. I obviously am not going to condemn that behavior, but I'll certainly recognize it for what it is. They enjoyment you get from being here is not in argument or conversation, it's just in being the peanut gallery.
Like I said, no use carving on rotten wood. If you engaged in good faith we wouldn't have this problem.
 

tstorm823

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There's been pages about capitalism as a substrate to build a more humane, more socialist society, but you also skipped these.
I am the 18th post of this thread, actively discussing the limitations and failures of capitalism.
But also yes, in 1930 you would have been a nazi.

You can take that two ways (three with your predictable denial, of course, but I mean serious ones). You can have a more forgiving look on Hitler's voters and supporters, realising that, in context, "they weren't worse than this after all" - and it's a way that some people take, making of Hitler a sole cause, an almost alien monster with almost magical hypnotic powers, and forgiving its supporters as some fooled, well-meaning crowd. Or you can have a less forgiving look on people like you, on the extreme right in general, on ultraconservatives, when realising that you're parroting the exact same talking points with the same beliefs, priorities and values. Thing is, surprisingly, nazis were trash even before it became a matter of worldwide war. Even before a mass extermination was put in place. Nazi discourses were already stinky, but were deemed acceptable for the same reasons as Trump's - or Putin's before his war.

If History was truly studied...
It's time for you to study some history: the Nazi's weren't conservative. And I don't mean this in the "they called themselves socialists, that makes them left wing" sense, I mean they weren't the conservative faction. The Weimar Republic at the time of its fall had three major factions vying for power: the communists, the fascists, and the social democrats. The social democrats were in power, they were running the Republic. They were not particularly left wing or revolutionary, as evidenced by the communists trying to physically revolt against them, they were the conservative faction.

The communists in this system sided with Joseph Stalin. Not in the abstract sense, they were literally allied with Stalin, and should they fail in their efforts to make Germany communist, they were content with an outcome where the Weimar Republic collapses and Stalin drives in to conquer the nation. They went so far as to say they'd rather the Nazis take power than the Republic stand another day. Their militant wing was Antifaschistische Aktion, Antifa, the anti-fascists. But the important thing to understand was that they weren't organized to fight just the Nazis, they were formed to fight the Republic. In the eyes of a Stalinist, capitalism is (at best) a transitional system on the path to socialism, and any sufficiently developed capitalist system was fascism. Stalin himself directly called the social-democratic factions of Europe moderate fascists. One of the biggest reasons Germany was taken over by actual fascists is because the left wing chose not to distinguish between conservatism and fascism. And now you follow in their footsteps, and think yourself wise.
I honestly don't have strong beliefs on what is feasible or not in our society (materially and culturally). But what I know, is that we cannot trust our current "common sense" consensus.
Some number of posts ago I said to Silvanus that there are pragmatists, idealists, and contrarians here. This is contrarianism. Completely distinct from where people align on any sort of political spectrum is the motivating force that drives them to their position, and I could not have ever expressed the contrarian midset more cleanly or succinctly than "I don't have strong beliefs, but I know that we cannot trust "common sense"."
I'm not too big on UBI because humans are gonna human
For what it's worth, I'm pretty down for UBI, also because humans are gonna human. The vast majority of people want to work, a modest UBI doesn't change that. Some people are miserable horrible people that are a genuine drain on society, but those people are already letting society carry them one way or another (before the peanut gallery chimes in, I am not saying people who aren't working are a drain on society, I'm saying people who are self-entitled drains on society already don't work, not just lay-abouts but also things like robbers).

Absent is not wrong about volunteerism or different avenues of productivity, people definitely want to contribute and do so often with or without gainful employment. My disagreement is on the role of capitalism in those endeavors. Capitalist systems have enabled more people to exist outside of the concerns of their own sustenance, not fewer.
 

Absent

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If you live by yourself long ago, how do you eat if you don't hunt/grow food?
Living by yourself wasn't necessarily an option. We're talking societies. And many are tighter, leaving much less room than ours to the idea of individualism (for the better and the worse, as tight networking can be as oppressive as solitude, and some activities requiring isolation -such as literature- can be misunderstood or frowned upon).

But, again, we must distinguish between "doing things" and "working", and the same activity can be labelled as either depending on context, mindset, motivations, representations, etc. "Working" is a culturally specific way to frame a task, and humans have shown alternatives.

We have peer capitalist societies that work less, why is capitalism itself the cause of people working too much?
You've seen in this thread how many meanings "capitalism" can have. European socialism, for instance, is a capitalist system - simply a regulated one. And in some contexts, capitalism means "the ideology of absolute de-regulation". Absolute de-regulation is very predatory, and this is what sets up abusive systems of dependencies and power differentials, modern forms of slavery, etc. But there's a lot of leeway within a capitalist framework, a lot of different ways to organize, a lot of possible values systems. One can be in favor of "capitalism" as a background basis yet against "capitalism" as an absolute de-regulation ideology. Unfortunately it's the same word with different meanings.

Some of what I said above applies. Advancing society requires more working that just living with your needs. If you want to enjoy fancier leisure activities (than just like socializing, dancing, very simple games, etc.) like say video games or bowling or what-have-you, those things need work for them to be available. I'm not too big on UBI because humans are gonna human (have to put in safe guards to protect us from ourselves), just like the main character from Office Space; if I had the option to do nothing, I would do nothing.
Our material society requires a lot of activity and a lot of production, that's indeed a cause of skepticism about universal basic income (how would all the activity slots be filled). But there's also two things to take in consideration :

First, there's the whole other can of worm of "growth", growth as a questioned implicit value. Our culture values it a lot, as a self-evident thing, and a false universal (other cultures don't, and they pay a price that we cannot anymore as few of us would give back our tech and material comfort). The thing is, it is being debated in itself, and degrowth movements are a thing. There are a lot of people considering it the only rational route. So it's thinkable.

Secondly, I do not trust you on doing nothing. i used to think the same about myself (often qualifying myself as lazy, and unashamedly so, as, sub-culturally, so were a lot of my fictional models), and I must confess that, given freedom, I've sometimes turned out the equivalent of workaholic : volunteering beyond schedules, for all the important things that had to be done, that had meaning, even when annoying to do. Actually much more than those who did it as a "job", with a salary and a "welp, look at the clock, am done" mentality. And I know that, in my field, volunteering burn-up is a thing (can you imagine that).

The (cultural) need for activity, for satisfaction, the sense of responsibility, a lot of factors drive people beyond contracts and salaries. It's a matter of personality and individual values, of course, but individual values are also the reflection of collective, cultural values. There are a lot of alternate conditions that motivate productive activities, and we tend to lose sight of them, by framing our world around coercitive work. Anyway, what I'm saying is : don't take as self-evident that you'd stay idle and unproductive. You or others. We tend to be surprising in that regard. And this image of idleness is also a product of our coercitive work as it's the other side of its coin (if you're "forced to work", you also feel forced to value and exploit the moments of allowed idleness).

Back to humans gonna human, the reason why we even need a concept like money is because humans will take more than they need (or fairly be entitled to). Even with money, we have a large percentage of people that live beyond their means as it is and rack up debt they really have no business racking up.
Money is yet another can of worms, and its reason to be is actually to manage debts. To pass them around easier. But you are wrong about "human nature". First of all, "taking more than entitled to" is largely cultural. You have cultures like ours that encourage this mindset, and others that shame it (actually, our culture does both, it's complicated and awkward). Cultural values get internalized, through education, socialization, mythologies, etc. And then they are applied. You could say that "second natures" weight much more than "natures". Whether greed-is-good or greed-is-bad, and how deeply these conflicting viewpoints get internalized, is largely a matter of the environment. What it presents as cool, ridicule or shameful. What feedback it gives to that. When you glorify material wealth and yet chastise greed, of course, it gets hard to avoid complicated double binds. Anyway.

[Another thing I forgot to stress out is : do not underestimate the power of debt, of its notion and feeling - it didn't and doesn't require money, and it's a very strong psychological pressure, for better or worse, even when you try to free yourself or to free others of that sentiment.]

Cultures always define "humans" (human nature) around their own values, always present their values (and their type of organization) as natural, universal and true - as opposed to the fake, counter-natural, absurd systems of other cultures. But their very diversity relativizes it all. The diminishing of this diversity (through global cultural conquests) is a sad thing, because we lose illustrations of mankind's actual range of possibilities. And so, we reduce our freedom, we believe more and more strongly in essentialist there-is-no-alternatives. Deconstruction is precious.

But yeah, it's also all very theoretical. As organisations tend to emerge rather than being thought out in advance and applied, there's a lot of unpredictability in that. Also a lot of inertia, you cannot suddenly decide for different structures, values, organizations, representations - it simply doesn't work (the French Revolution killed a king's kingdom to give birth to an emperor's empire, and you also see all the wonky hybrids stemming from colonization efforts). And I honestly believe that, while structural and cultural changes are urgently needed, we simply as a whole don't possess the ability to redefine ourselves fast enough. I think we're doomed, in practice.

But still, at the theoretical level, I think we must keep in mind how vastly diverse the possibilities are (were?), and how many of our constraints are (were?) imaginary. Human possibilities are richer than we realize when we're too much immersed in one culture and its image of itself.
 
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Silvanus

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I won't bother with the details, but what would be a 'major' strain then? An increasing number of people are dependent on the work (not just goods) of a stagnant working population. Sure, they will never let the costs rise endlessly, but that means closing down services.
Alternatives to closing down services: making a slight increase to the taxes on the extremely wealthy, capital gains, corporation tax.

All of these social expenditures are well within the means of Western governments to fund without touching services. Untold billions are piled into shareholder bank accounts every year, and then sit idle for decades without having the tangential benefit of stimulating the economy.
 

Silvanus

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It's time for you to study some history: the Nazi's weren't conservative.
In some ways they weren't-- they aimed at a radical reimagining of social life and political structure. In other ways they were-- they lionised German imperial past, advocated returning to the entrenched social norms of the past, and strongly supported sectors of society that were popular among the right wing (such as the military complex).

There's a reason the Nazis gathered significant support from German conservatives of the time.

And I don't mean this in the "they called themselves socialists, that makes them left wing" sense, I mean they weren't the conservative faction. The Weimar Republic at the time of its fall had three major factions vying for power: the communists, the fascists, and the social democrats. The social democrats were in power, they were running the Republic. They were not particularly left wing or revolutionary, as evidenced by the communists trying to physically revolt against them, they were the conservative faction.
đŸ˜‚

This is tremendously historically specious. And I have indeed 'studied some history', I have a degree in modern history.

Firstly, there were quite a few more factions vying for power during the Weimar period. The KPD, SPD and Nazis were three of the most prominent (at least from 1930 onwards), but also Zentrum and various lesser nationalist and conservative parties. Zentrum ended up being tremendously historically significant in the direction of the country, through von Papen.

Secondly, the SPD wasn't "conservative" merely by dint of being in power beforehand. German conservatives and nationalists fiercely opposed it, and flocked to the NSDAP and other nationalist parties precisely in order to oppose what they saw as transformational politics of the SPD and KPD that threatened their established power and position.
 
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Phoenixmgs

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The idea that no-one should have to work is a straw man. Obviously, no-one's advocating that everyone can stop working.

In the old days, people were generally self-employed - craftsmen, farmers, etc. although there was also a sizeable class of labourers who needed to take work from other people. To an extent people worked what they wanted to: and many just made enough to live comfortably, because that's what they wanted from life. Some studies suggest our ancient and medieval forebears may have worked significantly fewer days of the year than we do.

However, this does not suit capitalism, because in capitalism employees work to create additional wealth for shareholders. The average employee wants a good life holistically, of which work is just a part - for many, it's just the thing they need to do to enjoy the rest of their life. Therefore overall they just don't have the same motivation to bust a gut, especially when the primary beneficiaries of their efforts are shareholders. Capitalism is a society where shareholders have disproportionate social, economic and political power. Therefore, from laws and social attitudes to the way workplaces are set up, capitalists push for a society which drives employees to work: preferably longer and more intensively for less pay. This was then the origin of socialism in the 19th century, as workers pushed back.

There are ways in which capitalist work drive is good for society. If everyone works harder, that means we as consumers of other people's goods and products get stuff more efficiently. But it also drives exploitation and harassment of workers: stress, invasive workplace monitoring, lack of regulations and safety, unpaid overtime, tyrannical bosses, and much more. From my perspective, it's not hard to see that the overall desire of shareholders is to systematically strip workers of as much power as possible so to set the conditions of work entirely to suit themselves. They are assisted in that politically, often successfully, by appealing to the rest of society as consumers to help them quash worker power. Hence also individualism: encouraging the public to see a striking worker as an inconvenience to them, rather than see a striking worker as a fellow worker who should be shown solidarity for facing the same issues/risks of exploitation.
Much of this is not a requirement of capitalism. And other systems aren't inherently devoid of the same or other exploitations either.

Kind of the universal rule of human existence is that if you live by yourself, you're doing it wrong.

Ironically though, early hunter gatherers barely worked at all. They had more leisure time than basically anyone else in human history, because their way of life was extremely labor efficient and they didn't need to support an organized society. Agriculture was the worst disaster in human history in terms of its impact on working hours, but it allowed for a larger population and a more organized society where people afford to specialize beyond meeting basic needs. Even then, because agricultural work is seasonal and industries were relatively small, most people still didn't work as much as people do today.



Why though?

Again, a tiny fraction of the population of a modern industrial economy can accomplish tasks that used to require most of the population. The proportion of people globally employed in agriculture is tiny. Even manufacturing is shrinking out of existence as the majority of the human population moves into the service industry, much of which is itself being trivialized by technology. Bureaucratic tasks which used to require dozens people and elaborate filing systems can be handled by a single computer. You talk about technology making work redundant at some distant point in the future, but it's already happening and it's been happening for centuries.

Sure, work couldn't be eliminated at this point. Fortunately, noone is talking about that. But why is it necessary for everyone to work, other than satisfying some weird moral belief about the Protestant work ethic? Is there nothing people could do to contribute to society other than flipping burgers for minimum wage so that someone else doesn't have to spend 20 minutes making themselves a burger after spending 10 hours in a call centre?



Because it is. Before capitalism, you worked when there was work to be done. If someone was employing you, you were probably part of their household and your payment was being fed and given a place to sleep. Capitalism introduced the idea of salaried employment, and consequentially the idea of fixed working hours.

The reason why some capitalist countries work fewer hours isn't because they're doing capitalism better, it's because they have or had countervailing forces (typically, labor organization or socialist politicians) which forced the reduction in working hours. That's the only reason anything that benefits poor people ever happens under capitalism. Jeff Bezos is never going to say "oh, I could lose a couple of zeros off my yearly income if it means those poor workers in Amazon human resource processing camp A get paid holidays". He'll lock them out as soon as they try to unionize and then bus in strikebreakers, because that's how a person (or corporation, more realistically) becomes rich enough to have that kind of power.
I used living by yourself as a concept more than humans actually did that. Same principle goes for small villages. And early hunter gatherers lived as comfy and long lives as we do now?

You're not getting basic human nature. If say you only need 20% of the population to work and you only have 20% of the population work, you think there's gonna be no issue in that actually working out? Having everyone work 1/5th a normal workday vs 20% working a full days will eliminate the major issues that will crop up if you do the later.

And you think other systems don't have some of the same issues or completely different issues you have to build in safe guards against?

For what it's worth, I'm pretty down for UBI, also because humans are gonna human. The vast majority of people want to work, a modest UBI doesn't change that. Some people are miserable horrible people that are a genuine drain on society, but those people are already letting society carry them one way or another (before the peanut gallery chimes in, I am not saying people who aren't working are a drain on society, I'm saying people who are self-entitled drains on society already don't work, not just lay-abouts but also things like robbers).

Absent is not wrong about volunteerism or different avenues of productivity, people definitely want to contribute and do so often with or without gainful employment. My disagreement is on the role of capitalism in those endeavors. Capitalist systems have enabled more people to exist outside of the concerns of their own sustenance, not fewer.
I wouldn't be wholly against a modest UBI, but wasn't sure exactly how much UBI Absent (or anyone for UBI) is advocating for. The problem in the US with a modest UBI is that I don't think it would work that well considering based on how housing is built/developed, you can't really live on the bare minimum. I definitely think it's a cultural thing to where I feel UBI in the US wouldn't work out nearly as well as other countries.


Living by yourself wasn't necessarily an option. We're talking societies. And many are tighter, leaving much less room than ours to the idea of individualism (for the better and the worse, as tight networking can be as oppressive as solitude, and some activities requiring isolation -such as literature- can be misunderstood or frowned upon).

But, again, we must distinguish between "doing things" and "working", and the same activity can be labelled as either depending on context, mindset, motivations, representations, etc. "Working" is a culturally specific way to frame a task, and humans have shown alternatives.


You've seen in this thread how many meanings "capitalism" can have. European socialism, for instance, is a capitalist system - simply a regulated one. And in some contexts, capitalism means "the ideology of absolute de-regulation". Absolute de-regulation is very predatory, and this is what sets up abusive systems of dependencies and power differentials, modern forms of slavery, etc. But there's a lot of leeway within a capitalist framework, a lot of different ways to organize, a lot of possible values systems. One can be in favor of "capitalism" as a background basis yet against "capitalism" as an absolute de-regulation ideology. Unfortunately it's the same word with different meanings.


Our material society requires a lot of activity and a lot of production, that's indeed a cause of skepticism about universal basic income (how would all the activity slots be filled). But there's also two things to take in consideration :

First, there's the whole other can of worm of "growth", growth as a questioned implicit value. Our culture values it a lot, as a self-evident thing, and a false universal (other cultures don't, and they pay a price that we cannot anymore as few of us would give back our tech and material comfort). The thing is, it is being debated in itself, and degrowth movements are a thing. There are a lot of people considering it the only rational route. So it's thinkable.

Secondly, I do not trust you on doing nothing. i used to think the same about myself (often qualifying myself as lazy, and unashamedly so, as, sub-culturally, so were a lot of my fictional models), and I must confess that, given freedom, I've sometimes turned out the equivalent of workaholic : volunteering beyond schedules, for all the important things that had to be done, that had meaning, even when annoying to do. Actually much more than those who did it as a "job", with a salary and a "welp, look at the clock, am done" mentality. And I know that, in my field, volunteering burn-up is a thing (can you imagine that).

The (cultural) need for activity, for satisfaction, the sense of responsibility, a lot of factors drive people beyond contracts and salaries. It's a matter of personality and individual values, of course, but individual values are also the reflection of collective, cultural values. There are a lot of alternate conditions that motivate productive activities, and we tend to lose sight of them, by framing our world around coercitive work. Anyway, what I'm saying is : don't take as self-evident that you'd stay idle and unproductive. You or others. We tend to be surprising in that regard. And this image of idleness is also a product of our coercitive work as it's the other side of its coin (if you're "forced to work", you also feel forced to value and exploit the moments of allowed idleness).


Money is yet another can of worms, and its reason to be is actually to manage debts. To pass them around easier. But you are wrong about "human nature". First of all, "taking more than entitled to" is largely cultural. You have cultures like ours that encourage this mindset, and others that shame it (actually, our culture does both, it's complicated and awkward). Cultural values get internalized, through education, socialization, mythologies, etc. And then they are applied. You could say that "second natures" weight much more than "natures". Whether greed-is-good or greed-is-bad, and how deeply these conflicting viewpoints get internalized, is largely a matter of the environment. What it presents as cool, ridicule or shameful. What feedback it gives to that. When you glorify material wealth and yet chastise greed, of course, it gets hard to avoid complicated double binds. Anyway.

[Another thing I forgot to stress out is : do not underestimate the power of debt, of its notion and feeling - it didn't and doesn't require money, and it's a very strong psychological pressure, for better or worse, even when you try to free yourself or to free others of that sentiment.]

Cultures always define "humans" (human nature) around their own values, always present their values (and their type of organization) as natural, universal and true - as opposed to the fake, counter-natural, absurd systems of other cultures. But their very diversity relativizes it all. The diminishing of this diversity (through global cultural conquests) is a sad thing, because we lose illustrations of mankind's actual range of possibilities. And so, we reduce our freedom, we believe more and more strongly in essentialist there-is-no-alternatives. Deconstruction is precious.

But yeah, it's also all very theoretical. As organisations tend to emerge rather than being thought out in advance and applied, there's a lot of unpredictability in that. Also a lot of inertia, you cannot suddenly decide for different structures, values, organizations, representations - it simply doesn't work (the French Revolution killed a king's kingdom to give birth to an emperor's empire, and you also see all the wonky hybrids stemming from colonization efforts). And I honestly believe that, while structural and cultural changes are urgently needed, we simply as a whole don't possess the ability to redefine ourselves fast enough. I think we're doomed, in practice.

But still, at the theoretical level, I think we must keep in mind how vastly diverse the possibilities are (were?), and how many of our constraints are (were?) imaginary. Human possibilities are richer than we realize when we're too much immersed in one culture and its image of itself.
The living by yourself was more for concept to break it down as basic as you can get.

I try to keep meanings as simple as possible and only attach private ownership to capitalism. Any system needs built in safe guards and regulations. Unfettered capitalism is as bad as unfettered [insert system of choice]. Just because we are currently using capitalism and things aren't as good as they could be doesn't mean switching to some different system is the solution or cure, or that capitalism is wholly responsible. That's what I don't get about people blaming capitalism.

I know I would do "nothing" as I did nothing during the times I've been unemployed. In a much more long-term situation, I would probably help out in some regard at some type of community thing or otherwise, but I definitely would be "taking" more than I'm "giving". Also, there's a lot of type "dirty" jobs that people just wouldn't volunteer to do.

When you don't have to pay for something (whether money or just basic bartering), you'll tend to take more. Even if you know you should only take X amount, one day you'll take X+1 because why not and convince yourself it's ok and then X+1 then becomes your new X and then you do another X+1 again and the cycle continues. I know I wouldn't massively take/buy more if I didn't have to pay for stuff but I would definitely take/buy more stuff. I'm definitely one of those people that would still be driving like the same car (though probably with more features) if I was rich. I'm not one that cares about things like status symbols and bullshit like that. And with that general attitude, I definitely feel I'd be having too much, not egregious but still too much. And at least in the US culture-wise, I'm way towards the non-materialistic side of the materialistic spectrum so most people would be worse than me in that regard.
 

Absent

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In some ways they weren't-- they aimed at a radical reimagining of social life and political structure. In other ways they were-- they lionised German imperial past, advocated returning to the entrenched social norms of the past, and strongly supported sectors of society that were popular among the right wing (such as the military complex).
"I am the most revolutionary conservative", Hitler boasted. But yes, things get blurry with all "the future is the past" kind of discourses.
 

Ag3ma

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Much of this is not a requirement of capitalism.
Whether or not they are "requirements" isn't the point. It is how a capitalist society is likely to end up if capitalists are left free to run their businesses as they choose.

You keep pointing out that capitalism is basically private ownership of business. Every time the government tells businesses how to operate or taxes them (and so on), this is infringing on the theoretical freedom of business owners to do with their private property as they see fit: it is generally anti-capitalist even by your own definition. Indeed, businesses clearly resent regulations, taxes and so on, hence why they invest so much time and effort into lobbying the government to not tax or regulate them.

That then is the point: what prevents capitalism from mass exploitation and resultant misery is that other forces in society restrict it - which is to say make it less capitalist.
 
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Ag3ma

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It's time for you to study some history: the Nazi's weren't conservative. And I don't mean this in the "they called themselves socialists, that makes them left wing" sense, I mean they weren't the conservative faction. The Weimar Republic at the time of its fall had three major factions vying for power: the communists, the fascists, and the social democrats. The social democrats were in power, they were running the Republic. They were not particularly left wing or revolutionary, as evidenced by the communists trying to physically revolt against them, they were the conservative faction.
If you're going to criticise other people over history, get your own right.

There were several conservative parties in Weimar Germany, chief of which was the DNVP. The Nazis effectively took power because so many voters of the old conservative parties like the DNVP abandoned them and flocked to the Nazi banner instead. And indeed, in those final fateful moments, it was the conservatives (Zentrum and the rump of the remaining others) that gifted Hitler the keys to the realm.

The SPD only took about a quarter of the vote, which meant that it had to form coalitions to govern. As the communist KPD always refused coalition governance with the SPD, it was forced to join with moderate (e.g. Zentrum) and non-aligned parties. This meant it could not advance a major left-wing agenda, otherwise it would simply collapse its own governing coalition. It is not remotely useful in any way to call the SPD "conservative", because it definitely was not.

Whether the Nazis were conservative is at best dubious. But what the Nazis did very successfully was to appeal to conservatives, hence why German conservative voters flocked to them: hitting the right buttons of nationalism, traditional social values, traditional social hierarchy, etc.
 

XsjadoBlaydette

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Corporate lobbying as a direct example of the inevitable undemocratic harms actively encouraged by capitalism, summarised by an easily digestible fluff man for those who need that kinda thing in their life right now;


-

R. Wolff's New Yorker accent is a pleasant accompaniment for the kinda words they saying.

 
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tstorm823

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IThis is tremendously historically specious. And I have indeed 'studied some history', I have a degree in modern history.

Firstly, there were quite a few more factions vying for power during the Weimar period. The KPD, SPD and Nazis were three of the most prominent (at least from 1930 onwards), but also Zentrum and various lesser nationalist and conservative parties. Zentrum ended up being tremendously historically significant in the direction of the country, through von Papen.

Secondly, the SPD wasn't "conservative" merely by dint of being in power beforehand. German conservatives and nationalists fiercely opposed it, and flocked to the NSDAP and other nationalist parties precisely in order to oppose what they saw as transformational politics of the SPD and KPD that threatened their established power and position.
The SPD lead the Weimar Coalition which included Zentrum, a coalition that was largely responsible for writing the constitution of the Weimar Republic, which inherited a bunch of the political structures from previous incarnations of Germany. The SPD in power was an explicitly reformist party. Reform is changing something in order to improve it, yes there is change but it's ultimate goal is to preserve the thing itself. To quote Joe Biden, "Nothing will fundamentally change." It's not coincidence that conservatives policies are often stated as reform bills, reformation is the conservative alternative to revolution.

The other thing here that has my attention is conflating conservatism and nationalism in the context of a united Germany that had only existed for a few decades, and which retained a lot of independence between the states even during the period of the German Empire. Hitler's nationalism abolished the legislatures of those states, that was the transformational politics, not what the SPD was doing.
 

Ag3ma

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The SPD lead the Weimar Coalition which included Zentrum, a coalition that was largely responsible for writing the constitution of the Weimar Republic, which inherited a bunch of the political structures from previous incarnations of Germany. The SPD in power was an explicitly reformist party. Reform is changing something in order to improve it, yes there is change but it's ultimate goal is to preserve the thing itself. To quote Joe Biden, "Nothing will fundamentally change." It's not coincidence that conservatives policies are often stated as reform bills, reformation is the conservative alternative to revolution.

The other thing here that has my attention is conflating conservatism and nationalism in the context of a united Germany that had only existed for a few decades, and which retained a lot of independence between the states even during the period of the German Empire. Hitler's nationalism abolished the legislatures of those states, that was the transformational politics, not what the SPD was doing.
It is not useful to march into a debate and demand everyone accede to your personal, non-standard definitions in place of the standard meanings as understood in general discourse.
 
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tstorm823

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It is not useful to march into a debate and demand everyone accede to your personal, non-standard definitions in place of the standard meanings as understood in general discourse.
In the time period were are discussing, many of these words were new, in vogue, and subject to propaganda. Parties all over the spectrum had socialist in their name because that was seen as a good thing. If I tried to make a serious argument that the Nazis were really the socialist worker's party, you'd have a few things to say about that. You'd look at what the nazis did and make an assessment for yourself. Why not treat the SPD the same way? They did little to make the Weimar Republic more socialist, the got into armed conflict with the communists, and they largely followed in the footsteps of Otto Von Bismarck, who they had cooperated with during the era of the German Empire.

Edit because I can't help myself: "But historians say conservatives were bad!" Historians say Lyndon Johnson was a good president, their opinions mean nothing.
 

Silvanus

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The SPD lead the Weimar Coalition which included Zentrum, a coalition that was largely responsible for writing the constitution of the Weimar Republic, which inherited a bunch of the political structures from previous incarnations of Germany. The SPD in power was an explicitly reformist party. Reform is changing something in order to improve it, yes there is change but it's ultimate goal is to preserve the thing itself. To quote Joe Biden, "Nothing will fundamentally change." It's not coincidence that conservatives policies are often stated as reform bills, reformation is the conservative alternative to revolution.
This is not how political conservatism is understood throughout modern history. What they sought to "preserve" was the democratic order-- and if you're classing that as conservative, you'd not only be classing all mainstream parties from Europe to South America as conservative, you'd also be covering a large swathe of radical socialists.

German conservatives and nationalists viscerally opposed the SPD.

Zentrum, meanwhile, was a conservative/ Catholic party which had a brief alliance of necessity with the SPD, as right-wing and left-wing parties often have in Germany (Grand Coalition anyone?). And then, when it came to it.... their alliance ended and Zentrum handed the keys to power to Hitler.

The other thing here that has my attention is conflating conservatism and nationalism in the context of a united Germany that had only existed for a few decades, and which retained a lot of independence between the states even during the period of the German Empire. Hitler's nationalism abolished the legislatures of those states, that was the transformational politics, not what the SPD was doing.
That aspect was transformational-- though he sold it as a return to a mythical past, and a method of preserving social hierarchies and power structures. Conservatives and nationalists flocked to it specifically as a method of defending against another kind of transformational politics they viewed as a threat to their entrenched wealth and power-- socialism and communism.

Hence, the Nazis (and Italian fascists before them) created and funded what were effectively violent street gangs explicitly to target unionists, social democrats, and communists. And they did so with the financial and political support of German and Italian conservatives and nationalists.

Historically, you absolutely cannot just equate wanting to preserve democracy with conservatism, and all transformational politics with the opposite. Its far, far more complicated than that-- and very often precisely the opposite.
 

Absent

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These are sad days for me. France is going through an intense constitutional crisis, for probably good reasons, and the outcome has very little chances to be good whichever it is. But that's not even the problem, I feel used to that. The problem is that I see people I love, whom I consider very close to each others, very emotionally opposed on these events. And this is distressing. Both for personal reasons (their conflicting hopes and fears means one will be distressed and bitter no matter what happens - also it further prevents me to wish for anything), and for philosophical reasons (if such situations can make similar people diverge so much, there's really not much hope for any cultural convergence at any scale).
 

Silvanus

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These are sad days for me. France is going through an intense constitutional crisis, for probably good reasons, and the outcome has very little chances to be good whichever it is. But that's not even the problem, I feel used to that. The problem is that I see people I love, whom I consider very close to each others, very emotionally opposed on these events. And this is distressing. Both for personal reasons (their conflicting hopes and fears means one will be distressed and bitter no matter what happens - also it further prevents me to wish for anything), and for philosophical reasons (if such situations can make similar people diverge so much, there's really not much hope for any cultural convergence at any scale).
How do you feel about Macron's gov using mechanisms such as this to bypass the legislature for the pension reform and other stuff, out of interest?

Looks to me like the equivalent of a US President issuing an executive order. The same frameworks don't really exist in the same way here in the UK... although some of the votes here in the UK Parliament end up as rubber stamping procedures.
 

Absent

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How do you feel about Macron's gov using mechanisms such as this to bypass the legislature for the pension reform and other stuff, out of interest?
Oh I'm suitably horrified. But I'm swiss : I'm used to live in a democracy, so my standards are a bit different.

Macron has always been a little twat. His whole electoral campaign was structured around self-contradictions (he would hold a discourse in one location and run to another to hold the opposite discourse, people would only register the most agreeable one) and the only thing that has been constant since his election is his open contempt for anyone who isn't a billionaire. He's an absolute joke. And almost all french governments have used this bypass mechanism two or three times in their resective 5 years tenures, but Macron's has used it a dozen times within a couple of months. He hilariously doesn't give a damn. Right now he's enforcing with it a law that is rejected by a large majority of the population, and the french people are starting to get a bit fed up with that.

The issue is that France's democratic tools are quite weak and politics are very person-centered. For all its bragging about French Revolution and the Republic, this country still loves its kings and emperors - its protocols and decorum have little to envy to British monarchy, and its presidents centralize in practice a lot of power. Which is ridiculous, seen from here - a country where political decisions are regulated by direct democracy (all year long, we're consulted in near constant "referendums" and "initiatives" votes on policies directly, in addition to the elections) and where the political star-system is dissolved in consensual parliamentarism. I criticize Switzerland a lot, but when it comes to democratic devices, it's clearly next level. Alas it's populated by humans, so of course, the democratically chosen policies are moronic - but what I mean to stress is that they are democratically chosen, and only the population can be blamed. In France, on the opposite, decisions and policies are easily hijacked by megalomaniac presidents. The population doesn't have many tools to react with, apart from sticks and stones (or patience and vote five years later). Also, for demagogues, it's very easy to blame "the elite" for decisions and consequences, whereas in Switzerland, as I said, we can only blame ourselves, the voters, for most policies.

Also, the political supply is rather poor. That's the main current issue with these revolts. In this all-or-nothing system, the population has to topple the power in order to alter its course. But then, it has to elect an alternative, and it's hard to choose any valid one in their current gallery of monsters. So, the disagreements around me is on whether the revolt is worth the risk of letting even worse people rise to power. Which may very well happen. As this political star system favors the worst loudmouthes.

So of course, in the absolute, Macron is abusing the french system, and he should be ousted. I'm not sure it's an option though, and the available self-proclaimed remedies may be worse than the evil. And maybe not. I'd be quietly curious to see how this will turn out, if it wasn't for the tension and suffering I notice on the side of some of my most beloved humans.
 

Ag3ma

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In the time period were are discussing, many of these words were new, in vogue, and subject to propaganda.
This post is basically nothing more than an extended attempt to dodge the issue.

No, the Nazis indeed were not socialist. That's because there's a generally accepted meaning for socialism. In the same way, the SPD were not conservative under exactly the same logic, that there's a generally accepted meaning for conservative.
 

tstorm823

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Historically, you absolutely cannot just equate wanting to preserve democracy with conservatism.
That there's a generally accepted meaning for conservative.
You cannot equate any policy with conservatism, the accepted meaning of conservative isn't any particular set of policies, it is relative to the time and place you are describing.
a
: disposition in politics to preserve what is established
b
: a political philosophy based on tradition and social stability, stressing established institutions, and preferring gradual development to abrupt change

Preserving established institutions and preferring gradual development, is that not what I was describing in the SPD?

What is established changes in every place and every time. You can't call someone in 19th-20th century Germany conservative based on how their positions aligned to 21st century politics in the US or UK, that's not how that word works. The Online Etymology Dictionary has a good article for it:
They phrase the modern political usage as "antagonistic to change in the institutions of a country", and quote Russell Kirk saying: " Strictly speaking, conservatism is not a political system, and certainly not an ideology. ... Instead, conservatism is a way of looking at the civil social order. ... Unlike socialism, anarchism, and even liberalism, then, conservatism offers no universal pattern of politics for adoption everywhere. On the contrary, conservatives reason that social institutions always must differ considerably from nation to nation, since any land's politics must be the product of that country's dominant religion, ancient customs, and historical experience."