August 5, 2011
Economists often have little background in sociology and almost no knowledge of history. Most economists care little about cutting edge work in cultural anthropology. There is an over all failure to understand how the economy works when it is studied in it’s social and historical context. There is even rarely any attempt to draw cross cultural or historical comparisons. The relationship between the direct producers i.e. wage workers and employers i.e. capitalist remains hidden within operating expenses. Investors are never called to task; invest capital with no direct contribution in the production of use vale. Any contribution remains indirect and secondary. Dishonesty, betting, robbery and piracies and parricides are displayed on the news and in our schools as both genteel gentleness and refined benevolence or hardnosed inevitability.
All parts of the economy are justified by the role it plays in relation to the profitability of global markets. A few corporate Avatars decide the fate of the planet. National interests, class and individual interests all suffer at the hands of an international capital that makes abstract decisions independent of the lives impacted.
Individual freedom is offered without the resources either to use or defend that freedom. Yet capitalism has never worked even in the short run. Swinging back and forth from serious economic crisis, only through radical damage control can the society be save in the short run, followed by an unsustainable economic boom that sooner or later implodes to create a news crisis again requiring direct government intervention to save a market fee of government intervention. Big government is created to prevent the growth of big government.
August 8, 2011
While history is a product of human actions, based upon actions and interactions of independent all individual people participating in any kind of social group. The result is a force independent of conscious choices.
Historical forces come together creating a social environment that people react to and adapt to. Each historical setting operates under its own laws, which are products that are unique with that setting. The unforeseen consequences that result of historical deeds performed consciously come back to haunt us as if it were a force of nature.
Until we have better information and a better method of arranging that information to be able to study the results, origins and possibilities we are powerless before the forces of history. Class-consciousness and scientific socialism are just other ways of saying historical sociology. Not just the science of society, but a social science that is historically grounded and empirically variable, but theoretically rigorous. Historical sociology is sociology with a mission. When allied with social activism it becomes a life style of rebellion.
Capitalism sleeps with many wolves in the forest. Capitalism fights against any and all non-capitalist economic systems, fights against socialists, workers forming unions, farmers, self-employed, small business and of course other capitalists.
August 9, 2011
Polanyi: Substantivist Economics:
According to a major tent of the liberal faith labor should find its price through the “free Market”. The creation of money should be subject to the automatic movement of the market. Products should be able to travel freely around the world to be sold without restriction. Money markets in which currencies are speculated on as if they were market commodities bought and sold for a profit, is not absurd but normal. Free trade becomes the standard for policy decisions at the level of government. Human beings sell their ability to work as it were a commodity for what ever any price an employer is willing to pay. This religion becomes real, not because it meets real people’s need but to question the faith is heresy. Government regulations are forbidden except when it is not. Bureaucracies are attacked in order to make them smaller, and in the process laissez faire capitalism in order to eliminate bureaucracy creates the largest bureaucracies in history.
The free market was the creation of direct government intervention eliminating previous institutions of social responsibilities and social relations leaving people mostly workers vulnerable to the whims of the market. Destroying communities, kinship, and cultures all in the name of freedom. Freedom of larger ever larger capital investors and freedom to work or die under condition workers have no real say over. The entire world became a single market controlled at the center. Cultural identity is replace by anomie and despair. People are either raw material for investment in producing products to sell, or consumers who are forced to buy the vey necessities of life. Tradition and social relations mean nothing.
Government was called in by force of arms to force freedom on people who freely choose not to be free. Freedom meant free markets only; all other freedoms were either unnecessary interference or blind superstition. Fee market capitalism became an evangelical movement requiring blind faith or the whole things falls apart. Heretics must be hunted down and brought into the fold.
Yet in the short run a free market left to irrational greed of investors destroys not only the free market but also society in the short run. Thus, from the start direct government intervention and protective legislation undermined the tenets’ of capitalism itself. Yet this was an unorganized spontaneous movement. It came from socialists, conservatives, labor, churches, and concerned citizen and even from the liberal capitalist who hated government intervention and protective legislation. Each party had its own agenda and fought against each other but shared one thing in common they wanted to protect their special issue from the ravages of the free market.
All new legislations happened because of some specific problem generated by a free market. All specific legislation was unique and more or less independent of other protects acts trying to become law. Each Act then was designed to deal with some specific set of problems and was designed at defense of some particular community concern against the danger inherent in both the affects of the market and the methods in place for dealing with the problems as they arise.
Free market advocates called upon government to forcefully impose the freedom of the market on traditional economies in conservative societies. Conventional conservative and radical socialist must be brought under their control via laws protecting capitalist property. But, Free Trade advocates are the first to call on government to save themselves from themselves. Yet they claim there own failures were the result of a non-existing global collectivist plot. Both conservative socialist (traditionalists) and radicals (revolutionary socialists) do it exists but it is the free trade advocates whom more likely than not are the ones responsible for the legislation the hate. If only given a chance free trade would solve each and every problem. However, not even free trade advocates really believe this.