Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Hey! How about this as a possible root of our problems here in America, and it's one that even tea-baggers and libertarians should be able to agree on: Any time any organization reaches a certain level of size and power, that organization will start to turn its efforts towards maintaining that power rather than doing the thing that it was created to do in the first place. We see this with governments, we saw this with the Catholic Church, we saw this with Unions, we're seeing it now with the Democratic Party*.
This the real reason why Democracy is such a good thing - because it breaks things down into individual units.

I'm not going to argue for or against the idea that the best way to run an economy is pure capitalism. It seems to be so. Unfortunately, economies do not exist in vacuums, they are part of the larger societal picture, and in that sense, pure capitalism is pure poison.
A society is the result of a group of people banding together for their mutual good. At its heart, the sought after good is protection, but in any society worth a damn, it goes well beyond that. Capitalism operates on the principle that self-interest will always lead to efficiency, which while debatable, isnt really the point here, except for that self-interest part.
See, in order for a society to work, a certain level of self-interest must be put aside for the collective good. But when a society's economy operates under the aegis of pure capitalism (or that ideal, however diluted your actual capitalism may be) then that idea of self-interest tends to bleed out into the rest of the society's thought processes. Enough cross-pollination, and pretty soon your society has decided that "collective" activity is a bad thing.
Capitalism is a terrific way to make money. It sucks as a way to run just about everything else.

Which brings me to an interview of Michael Moore conducted by Naomi Klein.
...democracy can't be being able to vote every two or four years. It has to be every part of every day of your life.

We've changed relationships and institutions around quite considerably because we've decided democracy is a better way to do it. Two hundred years ago you had to ask a woman's father for permission to marry her, and then once the marriage happened, the man was calling all the shots. And legally, women couldn't own property and things like that.

Thanks to the women's movement of the '60s and '70s, this idea was introduced to that relationship--that both people are equal and both people should have a say. And I think we're better off as a result of introducing democracy into an institution like marriage.

But we spend eight to ten to twelve hours of our daily lives at work, where we have no say. I think when anthropologists dig us up 400 years from now--if we make it that far--they're going to say, "Look at these people back then. They thought they were free. They called themselves a democracy, but they spent ten hours of every day in a totalitarian situation and they allowed the richest 1 percent to have more financial wealth than the bottom 95 percent combined.
Granted, democracy probably wont work as well as Authoritarianism will in terms of making a profit or getting big projects done, but I dont see any one in America advocating the Chinese social system, and they are able to carry out massive projects pretty much just by having whatever passes as Emporor there these days decide to do so. If China decides to go green, then America will have to work very, very hard not to be left behind in the dust on this.
That America has not initiated a Manhattan Project-like effort to get create an alternative energy source or sources when the middle east (and our dependence on their oil) has been the primary source of security problems in this country is further proof of my theory on large organization. Is the military/industrial complex really keeping us safe? I dont think so.

* * *

basically: Republicans seem to feel that the market and profit are more important than the public they are supposedly serving. Those who advocate reform of the current system feel that the good of the public should come before the profits of the marketplace.
At this point Republicans will counter that the profits of the marketplace translate into good for the public, but I would argue that this is only true if money is the most important thing, i.e., that money can buy happiness.

* Republicans do it too, of course. Nakedly.

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