Are You Free?

in #hive-12231529 days ago (edited)

Still most people associate capitalism with democracy and freedom, even in this time of late stage capitalism when it should be abundantly clear that capitalism promotes the very opposite of freedom. Still many people talk about corporatism as if it isn't capitalism functioning as intended. And still many people see "the government" as the only institution capable of infringing on their freedom, when in fact their government has since long been bought and paid for by the oligarchs the capitalist economy is bound to produce.


Eugene_Debs_1897_small.jpg
source: STORE NORSKE LEKSIKON

"I thank the capitalist masters for putting me here. They know where I belong under their criminal and corrupting system. It is the only compliment they could pay me."

Words from Eugene V. Debs, who didn't get to speak on election night on November 2, 1920 because he was imprisoned in the Atlanta Federal Penitentiary; he was put there for speaking out against the draft during the Great War. You see, Eugene Debs was opposed to America's involvement in that European war because he rightly believed that this would benefit America's arms manufacturers, business interests and Wall Street only. Debs knew, and experienced first hand, that capitalism is a system of suppression for the 99%, more than a century before Bernie Sanders would campaign for the presidency as a democratic socialist, and he knew that war was and still is a racket decades before Major General Smedley Darlington Butler wrote his famous speech and booklet War is a Racket.

War is a racket. It always has been. It is possibly the oldest, easily the most profitable, surely the most vicious. It is the only one international in scope. It is the only one in which the profits are reckoned in dollars and the losses in lives.

A racket is best described, I believe, as something that is not what it seems to the majority of people. Only a small "inside" group knows what it is about. It is constructed for the benefit of the very few, at the expense of the very many. Out of war a few people make huge fortunes.
source: Google Docs

By that description I'd say that capitalism itself is a racket as well. Out of capitalism a few people make huge fortunes, and therefore under capitalism a few people are free at the expense of the unfreedom of the very many. I marvel at the ability to be deceived of those who, even in these times, blindly buy in to the idea that capitalist free markets go hand-in-hand with freedom for the masses. I mean, how retarded does one have to be to still buy that oldest of capitalist lies?

"They have always taught and trained you to believe it to be your patriotic duty to go to war and to have yourselves slaughtered at their command. But in all the history of the world you, the people, have never had a voice in declaring war, and strange as it certainly appears, no war by any nation in any age has ever been declared by the people. [...] The working class who freely shed their blood and furnish the corpses, have never yet had a voice in either declaring war or making peace. It is the ruling class that invariably does both. They alone declare war and they alone make peace." - Eugene V. Debs making the speech in Canton, Ohio, on June 16, 1918, that led to his indictment.

The "ruling class" in Debs' truthful statement is the capitalist class of course, and they - the capitalists - soon made his words treasonous under the Sedition Act of 1918, and all this made it so that he ran for the presidency from a prison cell. The capitalist class can not afford true free speech, nor a truly free press; even now Julian Assange is prosecuted as a traitor for letting out the truth. So, don't kid yourself into thinking that capitalism has one iota to do with freedom, or justice for that matter. Here's a short video that explains how capitalism is antithetical to positive as well as negative freedom. And here's a link to the September 22, 2019 Washington Post article on Eugene V. Debs that partly inspired this post: The socialist who ran for president from prison — and won nearly a million votes.


Are You Really "Free" Under Capitalism?


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I think one of the problems is the lack of clear definitions for terms like democracy and markets. People throw around words with reckless abandon, carelessly conflating contradictory concepts with wild abandon.

Markets are freedom. Democracy is antithetical to freedom. Socialists promise counterfeit freedom if you just obey their dictates. Government intervention that supports corporate cronyism is called "free market economics." It's a madhouse.

I think one of the problems is the lack of clear definitions for terms like democracy and markets.

True.

Markets are freedom. Democracy is antithetical to freedom.

Not true.

See @elguille 's response as well; what is freedom?

Socialists promise counterfeit freedom if you just obey their dictates.

Not true. What is socialism?

Democracy is the political manifestation of the bandwagon fallacy, a false choice, and an artificial zero-sum game. It is not the exercise of freedom. Any yahoo with an opinion carries as much weight as the studious member of society, creating an incentive for ignorance since effort has no reward, as demonstrated in public choice theory. It is antithetical to freedom in every way, despite the veneer applied by the political class to lure us into granting them an assumption of legitimacy as they plunder us.

Note that I used the term socialists, and was referring to those self-professed socialists who demand political authority over others. Namely, all of the ones clamoring for power now. As for socialism, no one seems willing to nail down the philosophy. "Public ownership of the means of production" seems to be generally accepted, but various social programs are usually bundled in, and everything is to be administered democratically by a class of technocrats. No, thanks!

I have no argument against any form of voluntary cooperative, syndicalist venture, communal society, mutual aid program, etc. where participation is voluntary. Heck, by market principles, if it's better, it should win out in the market for consumption and production.

Thanks for this response!

Any yahoo with an opinion carries as much weight as the studious member of society, creating an incentive for ignorance since effort has no reward, as demonstrated in public choice theory.

Yes, the "yahoo" can vote too; one person, one vote, that's democracy and the ultimate equal playing field. No one ever said that growing towards a functional democracy is easy, and since you mention public choice theory you know that capitalism is one of democracy's major stumbling blocks. If we want to have a real level playing field, one in which social choice theory would be the defining mechanic, socialism is the way to go; material or economical democracy is a first requirement for a functional democracy. That whole idea of voluntarism is bogus, can't ever work in a system in which there'll always be a materially based power-hierarchy...

capitalism is one of democracy's major stumbling blocks. If we want to have a real level playing field, one in which social choice theory would be the defining mechanic, socialism is the way to go

Not at all. The more under control of the democratic political process, the more the problem of rational ignorance in public choice is magnified.

That whole idea of voluntarism is bogus, can't ever work in a system in which there'll always be a materially based power-hierarchy...

Markets do not create a power hierarchy. Voluntary exchange is mutually-beneficial. It is in the realm of politics that we see an inevitable zero-sum game. Markets mean choice, and people are free to choose how they will associate with others, including by means such as communes and syndicalist co-ops.

How can you object to the idea that all human interaction should be voluntary? The only alternative is coercion, and that is decidedly unjust and unequal. Modern capitalism is not the consequence of free markets creating a power elite, but political power allowing market actors to avoid the need to engage in open competition for voluntary customers.

How can you object to the idea that all human interaction should be voluntary?

I don't. What I said is that under capitalism all human interaction CAN NOT be voluntary because of the power hierarchy that's inherently associated with any system that's based on the accumulation of private property. Yours is the eternally fallacious argument of anarcho-capitalism. And no, coercion is not the only alternative...

You assert that a wealth disparity is an inherent power disparity that precludes voluntary consent. How is this so?

I contend that political power disparity invariably includes threat of violent coercion, and claims of socialist equality are false. I see political power wielded for personal gain at the expense of others every day. It is a zero-sum game despite the perpetual rhetoric of its adherents. I also see market offers based on mutual benefit every day despite the distortions of politics in the market.

You assert there is an alternative to the coercion/consent choice. Why do you believe this is a false dichotomy?

Not only capitalism is a fraud when we speak about the artificial freedom it causes but freedom itself is not a very well defined concept. Erich Fromm spoke about freedom from some external entity (negative freedom) and freedom to do something (positive freedom), which problematizes the concept of freedom and instead of reducing it more, makes it more complex. Furthermore, Foucault talked about how humans are not actually very solid entities, questioning how free we really are in society. We are mostly an intersection of institutions and other people and as such we actually don't have much freedom and freedom may not be valued with simple moral frameworks. So, freedom is quite complex and kind of pointless. It is mostly an appeal to emotion based on a fictional view of humanity, it is mostly a humanist narrative motivated by the survival of stablished structures of power.

Thanks for this great response @elguille!

We are mostly an intersection of institutions and other people and as such we actually don't have much freedom and freedom may not be valued with simple moral frameworks. So, freedom is quite complex and kind of pointless. It is mostly an appeal to emotion based on a fictional view of humanity, it is mostly a humanist narrative motivated by the survival of stablished structures of power.

This I agree with wholeheartedly. Freedom is overrated and most people simply see it as "being able to do what I want when I want", which is an oversimplification of a very complex idea. But then again: capitalism thrives with the oversimplification of most ideas...

.....even in this time of late stage capitalism when it should be abundantly clear that capitalism promotes the very opposite of freedom

We're in the late stages of communist collapse . Yaaaay!
(starting 1913 in the US, with the fed reserve).

Central banking is communism through back door.

When the issuance of money is centralized, so is the means of production, by extension.

Imagine how great the world would have been without this collectivist illness thats been infecting the quasi free market.

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and all with acute victim mentality issues

So the USA was communist before 1913? Or when was it communist? and when did its communism collapse?

Communism = The centralized means of production.

IF the central bank is in control of the money supply, debt, and interest rates - then all roads _must lead , eventually, back to the central bank - ergo... the centralized means of production.

Forget labels - see what the dynamic is.

Communism is not centralized means of production. In theory it is the opposite: expropriate the means of production from the economic and political elite in order to enable workers to produce what they need and keep their production without getting exploitated. Anyway, we do have seen authoritarian so called "communist" regimes which are indeed centralized in many ways.

On the other hand, capitalism as the defense of private property and free market in theory offers descentralization, through personal freedom, as you say. However we do see that capitalism tends to the concentration of wealth in the hands of a few, thus concentrating power, means of production, the capacity to expropriate personal work from vulnerable workers that don't own capital but only their bodies and capacity to work. Without going too far look at the whales in steemit/hive. They hold lots of power and get to decide what content is rewarded the most and what projects survive. So even though we do have the freedom to post whatever we want and profit from it, the whales rewards condition the production of content. I've seen producers going out of steemit/hive because the didn't get any rewards at all, or I've also seen people making certain types of content just to get more rewards, even though that content is not what they like.

So, centralization does not come from communism or capitalism. It comes from hierarchies that are sustained with power. Power can come from violence (dictatorships came from violent revolutions), capitalist relations of production (which is solidified violence from primitive appropriation), statism (government's monopoly on violence), simple difference in talent or force, etc. Centralization is always a possibility because concentration of power is always a possibility in groups of humans.

So the dynamic of centralization is seen everywhere. Maybe because there are more capitalist countries, we see it way more on capitalism and of course the few communist regimes do show centralization as well.

You are correct - but communism on scale cannot be achieved without massive bureaucracy - ergo more and more centralized with each layer. (hence crony capitalism and oligarchy, with bigger government).

Theory and reality are different that's very true.

Capitalism is the closet thing to a 'natural system' than any other (minus the corruption through monopoly - caused by bureaucracy)

decentralization with free market capitalism and minimal government of any kind, is the best way forward, imo.

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