Is the Experiment of Capitalism Over?

So just recently Greece was yet another nation that is poised to declare it’s insolvency.  I heard on NPR that Greece has a debt that is 115% of it’s GDP.  That is to say that the Greek economy couldn’t even produce it’s way out of debt if it wanted to.  Greece joins the rather short list of Western countries that have a state of insolvency, or bankruptcy if you will: the grand total now is two–the other country is Iceland.

Even I remember the jokes about Iceland.  Everyone was like “Iceland? With the capital no one can pronounce? Reykjavik?”

But I wondered, are these the early seeds of a new economic system that may be about to unfold?  History shows that humanity goes in phases of thought and frankly capitalism has definitely been around for a long time and we have seen its benefits–or have we?  Am I suggesting that I would rather be subject to the whim of some “benevolent dictator”–no, not in the least, but I really do wonder are our great thinkers even attempting to challenge capitalism?

In the 18th century classical economists such as David Ricardo, David Hume and of course Adam Smith challenged mercantilism at its core and began to lay the foundation for what we clearly recognize as capitalism.  To be honest, it sounded great, but I mean, my uppity Negro heritage and spidey antennae are on full alert because I know for a fact that many of the goods that were being exchanged were that of persons who had been miraculously kissed by nature’s sun.

That gross fact aside…

There was actually a shift in how the Western hemisphere did business, and slowly but surely an economy of capitalism emerged, greatly aided by the establishment of the United States in the late 18th century.  Even as the Industrial Revolution kicked into high gear in England and as it spread over to the United States by the beginning of the 19th century aided by Smith’s theories on the “division of labor” and the factory systems, Karl Marx in the 1840s was challenging capitalism and its fundamental ideals.  However, the United States and capitalism won the propaganda war on that one.  McCarthyism sealed the deal in the United States and over a half-century later communism is still a dirty word.

Is this a blog to move us toward communism? No, not at all. In fact I have some issues with communism that are very much aligned with capitalism.  It’s based on the honor system–and historically, have heads of state in the Western world had a good track record? Not in the least bit.  We saw that during World War II when Russians were standing in bread lines just trying to eat and every time we venture out into the ghettoes of our cities and the small towns of America where the clock factory closed, we see where capitalism has gone amok.

Bottom line is greed.

Communist leaders were greedy and clearly so are heads of states, politicians and private business owners a like are all interested in material acquisitions as a sign of being “better than.”

For me this is probably more of an ideological war than anything else.  I’m leveling the charge that we as humanity and a part of a global society must move from this notion of wanton materialism.  It’s a trap of the enemy if you want my honest opinion.  We think that we MUST have stuff in order to be better humans.  No, I don’t even think that it’s even just the idea of being successful, because I would have to agree: in order to be successful in this world one must have things. No, a system has been put in place where the ideology in much of Westernized society is that our human status is elevated, we become better humans when we can acquire the most stuff.

Inherently I have a problem with that, even at a basic level.  We have bought into the mindset of capitalism so much that we have allowed over 1,000,000,000 persons world wide to go hungry.  And that 1,000,000,000 are not all located in underdeveloped third world countries below the equator.

Right. Even think about the politics and propaganda of referring to certain countries as Third world or underdeveloped.

Okay, I know that clip was long and full of left-wing propaganda itself and the push for a Democratic-Socialism was quite strong, but come on now, you can’t say that it was ALL a bunch of hogwash now can you?

Look, I have a big problem with an American economy that will ship these jobs overseas and bankrupt small town America. (As to why these fools still vote Republicans in the ballot box I’ll never know.)  Moreover, we’re beginning to see actual American cities go under.  The story of places like East Saint Louis, Illinois, Gary, Indiana or a Toledo, Ohio and manufacturing towns of Michigan such as Lansing and Flint are all stories we’ve heard of, but when we start hearing about major cities and municipalities having drastic budget cuts such as Detroit (granted that’s a particular milieu unto itself).  And when major cities such as Atlanta are having to threaten the cutting of bus lines of MARTA because of lack of funding from the state (while the Governor wants to spend money to sue the U.S. Government in the class-action lawsuit against the healthcare bill) and entities like Cobb County just laid off 700 workers of their school department–due to budget cuts, I can’t help but wonder is this experiment of capitalism actually working!!!!

I really wonder if we’re just in limbo waiting for the other proverbial shoe to drop and we’re forced to start from scratch how to figure out how to do business globally.  If that’s the case, then time is of the essence.  We can’t afford to wait much longer–seriously I want to know what’s going to happen next.

That being said, one person is not going to make the difference–despite what your teachers told you in class–but one person can start to make the difference.  Granted we’re dealing with mega-culture here, but I believe we must find moral compunction to stand against the injustices that pervade our everyday lives.  Hell, if the Tea Partyers can actually get this much attention, I’m quite sure that there are those of us who can stand up and make a difference and be heard.

In the famous words of Horton, the elephant who hears a Who:

A person’s a person, no matter how small.”

Once we begin to realise that, then perhaps our ideologies will shift.  But as long as we’re convinced that there are those who are “less than” then as humanity, we will be the cause of our own demise.

Keep it uppity and keep it truthfully radical, JLL

7 thoughts on “Is the Experiment of Capitalism Over?

  1. Great post. I am currently taking a course on post Soviet Russian society, and we talk greatly about what you have mentioned here. From what, i have learned, Russians fell hard for the consumerist culture propagated by the West, and they have a love of satisfying personal pleasure, and extravagance to match their western counterparts. Business tycoons and oligarchs have been jailed, fled the country and corruption within the government and law enforcement is rampant, all for the sake of money. It’s almost funny because it seems Russia has gone from being a communist system, to being a capitalist system on steroids (or perhaps they haven’t mastered the art of hiding their corruption as well as other western nations?).

    Anywho, there’s a book that we’re reading in class called Homo Zapiens, and I think you should check it out. The author’s name is Victor Pelevin and he is considered to be one of the top writers in Russia right now. The book is translated into English and is a quick and easy read, but offers interesting perspectives on the profession of advertising and consumerism.

  2. Great post!

    The video has been around awhile. It’s well done and worth the 20 minutes for students of every age.

    OT, Glenn Beck ($32M earnings 2008) does not endorse this video. Many of the Teapeople endorse Beck et al.

    On a show since Pres. Obama has been in office, nuttyBeck declared that the video was connected to some sort of plot by this president to destroy capitalism and specifically the democratic republic of the U.S. of America.

    Thanks Uppity, keepin’ it radical.

  3. man, this post was GREATNESS! I have been feeling the same way, the wanton materialism and narcissism in America is getting more sickening by the day. Forget it inside the black community, where people in the projects sport $700 Gucci shoes, while one is free to spend their money how they please, that 700$ could of been used somewhere else maybe like getting your ass out the projects, and relieve the people who are paying for you!..I don’t believe capitalism is over per say since it is a system built to fluctuate but I do believe we are a nation in danger due to greed.


    Warren over at the University of Albany
    UA U KNOW!

  4. Look at you talking about the Economy. Well you won’t have to worry about Black Women getting mad at you for this one.

  5. I’m no economics expert—hell, it was one of the only two subjects I ever failed in high school—but it’s hard for me to imagine any real structural shift occurring in this climate. Even FDR, at a moment where the entire system could potentially have collapsed around him, worked to preserve the existing system rather than remake it. (The safeguards he helped create have been systematically undone in the last couple of decades, but that’s another matter.)
    Because of the history you allude to above, economics as an issue is almost as emotional and raw as race, in a way. Because “capitalism” and “communism” became such loaded buzzwords during the Cold War, they’ve come to define for many people what America IS and IS NOT on the most fundamental level. You knock capitalism, for many people it’s like spitting on their flag and then kicking their puppy.
    Whether you agree with what Obama’s done or not, he has not done anything to challenge the existing capitalist system. But look at the hysteria created by the relatively tepid measures he’s initiated. You’ve got millions convinced that we’re living under Stalin Reincarnated.
    He wouldn’t of course, but hypothetically, if he even *hinted* at holding a conversation about the issues you raise, I believe we’d finally see armed revolt in the streets.
    I don’t know how I feel about capitalism versus anything else, but I do know that it’s impossible to have a serious discussion about it.

    1. @ Marbles

      I actually disagree. Much like the shift from mercantilism to capitalism, it was done without a glorious revolution. And the ENTIRE length of the Cold War folks were convinced that a post-communist Eastern Bloc wouldn’t have happened without serious bloodshed and look what happened–relatively peaceful. I don’t think it’s necessarily an issue of the right climate to exist, because if we always waited for the right time to do something, we’d be waiting a lifetime. However, I was really just throwing a notion out there as to what’s possibly next? is there a move forward to something new or will see a retrogression of economic practices.

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