Friday, September 13, 2013

OccupyWallStreet — Our One Demand Is To End Capitalism


OccupyWallStreet Press
Our One Demand Is To End Capitalism
OccupyWallStreet

56 comments:

y said...

"Without capitalism, trade would be truly free"

so they want free trade... but not capitalist free trade...

Dan Kervick said...

What a bunch of fucking idiots. We're seeing the total Paultardization of America. They've re defined Capitalism so that laissez faire doesn't count as capitalism any more.

Tyler Healey said...

"Globalization will continue to send jobs overseas."

This is a bad thing? Aren't poor people overseas more in need of a job than poor Americans?

y said...

it's a bad thing if the jobs overseas are at the expense of jobs at home. Same the other way - its a bad thing if jobs at home are at the expense of jobs abroad.

y said...

Dan, I agree they seem confused. Maybe they read the chapters in Das Capital on 'primitive accumulation' and left it at that.

Tom Hickey said...

The MMT point is that it's possible to have full employment and free trade as long as the importing country makes up for the lost income by providing either more jobs (JG) or more leisure opportunity (transfers).

This way, the emerging world rises without the developed world falling as a result of demand leakage to external saving and falling employment and incomes.

Tom Hickey said...

The real problem is that they don't realize they are confused and are convinced that they have the answers when they don't. Hard to talk to people like that.

Michael Norman said...

Anything taken to an extreme is no good. Capitalism is the elevation of capital and profits over labor and all else. Why is this so good if it's in the extreme? And why, if people express this view, they're labeled fucking idiots? I must be a fucking idiot then.

Michael Norman said...

MMT's concepts and teachings will never become policy because MMT aspires to be apolitical. You can't have policy without getting involved in politics.

Dan Kervick said...

Do they even bother defining the "capitalism" that they want to end?

Tom Hickey said...

I think a whole lot of people agree with that including many of the 1%, who are basically good and sane people that can recognize when things are broken.

The question is how to fix it in context. That is, how to get from here to there and just what is "there."

MMT is the best answer I have seen to this when taken in its full context including institutionalism. It's not just monetary economics and MMT-aligned and allied economists, and their predecessors also, have written on much much more that is relevant in addition to monetary economics. Much of this is still unknown to many in the broader MMT community. And we really haven't yet begun to discuss the big picture that needs to be discussed that relates to getting from here to there both nationally and globally. MMT answers the affordability question about getting from here to there but not so much about the path and goal. This really needs to be laid out in terms of living a good life in a good society and doing it collectively on a global basis, which is the only way to lasting peace and prosperity in a way that is economically and ecologically sustainable.

Dan Kervick said...

At some point, if people are serious about social change they need to move beyond crude and half baked sentiments and enter the realm of concrete details and long term strategies.

The "anti-capitalist" movement has been flailing around doing nothing since the 90's. They never come up with anything serious.

Michael Norman said...

Dan, these "crude and baked" sentiments have worked pretty well for the 1% and the debt doomsday ideologues. Not to mention all of mainstream economics.

You're attacking a group that is more aligned to your own cause than you know.

Tyler Healey said...

If have to choose between Hillary and Paul Ryan in 2016, I may consider renouncing my citizenship and moving to Australia.

Michael Norman said...

"Do they even bother defining the "capitalism" that they want to end?"

I think that cartoon pretty well defines it.

Michael Norman said...

"If have to choose between Hillary and Paul Ryan in 2016, I may consider renouncing my citizenship and moving to Australia."

I've considered the same, Tyler. However, the neoliberal bullshit is everywhere. Australia is going for balanced budgets, spending cuts, fiscal "responsibility," etc.

Maybe only a few, small, Latin American countries like Ecuador, who knows?

Tom Hickey said...

Ecuador is good, but it runs on the US dollar which is a big policy limitation. Also, the US is still actively engaged in undermining what it considers leftist governments in Latin America.

Tyler Healey said...

Brazil may not be neoliberal, Mike, but I'm not sure.

Summers tried to get Brazil to deregulate their banks in the 1990s and they told him to go f-ck himself. Unfortunately, they're presently suffering from high inflation and unemployment.

Art said...

"Tyler Healey said...
If have to choose between Hillary and Paul Ryan in 2016, I may consider renouncing my citizenship and moving to Australia."

Not exactly an escape from neoliberal politics...

Matt Franko said...

Tyler,

IIRC Brazil has cranked its interest rates up to like 9% and see how now you have reported 'inflation' down there...

Brazil is a test tube for MMT right now as far as how raising rates actually CAUSES inflation as the interest income channel is well supplied...

so with their high rates their xfers to non-govt are maxing out which increase incomes to those in a position to benefit......

All I can say if this is why they are sending Summers to the Fed (ie to goose rates...) I think you have to get the hell out of bonds and get into equities to protect yourself...

they will keep raising rates here and the 'inflation' will just keep getting worse as incomes will soar... so they will keep raising rates, etc... and the firms sales will keep going up....

No telling what they are capable of... all we can do is try to stay a half step ahead of their crazy policies...

rsp,

Tyler Healey said...

Matt,

You've pinpointed the place where I get stumped: stagflation. How can Brazil kill their inflation without causing unemployment to rise? Would negative interest rates combined with fiscal stimulus do the trick?

Thanks,

Tyler Healey said...

"Not exactly an escape from neoliberal politics..." - Art

Indeed, but they do have a high minimum wage and the highest median wealth in the world.

Matt Franko said...

Well Tyler what I believe they have to do is #1 throw out the monetarist playbook...

MMT perhaps would recommend a zirp and govt bonds no longer than 90 days...

Then use FISCAL to support full employment via JG as price 'anchor'...

Does Brazil have a lot of $NFA issued? you could multiply the issued $NFA by 9% and get an idea of how much xfers are being injected annually to create incomes down there...

We have like 12T+ out so if for instance they raise rates back up to 5% from like 0+ now, that would result in an increase in annual income of like 600B when our current leading flows are like 4T so that would be pretty substantial increase of xfers....

rsp,

Magpie said...

@Dan Kervick

"They've re defined Capitalism so that laissez faire doesn't count as capitalism any more."

In what way are those guys wrong?

How do you define capitalism?

Magpie said...

@Tom Hickey

"The real problem is that they don't realize they are confused and are convinced that they have the answers when they don't."

Fair enough. What are your answers?

Jose Guilherme said...

How can Brazil kill their inflation without causing unemployment to rise?

Neoliberal economists around here are complaining that unemployment is "too low".

They claim the country's NAIRU is about 6.5% to 7%, while the current unemployment rate is "only" 5.5%. This would put - according to them - a permanent upward pressure on prices and would explain why the Central Bank has been hard put to keep inflation from shooting over the official ceiling of 6.5% a year.

As you can see, neoliberals are alive and well and kicking this side of the hemisphere.

Matt Franko said...

Jose,

Hang in there..

Do you know how much public debt Brazil has issued?

What the policy rate is there right now?

What are the big things that are causing the so-called 'inflation'?

Property? Labor? Oil/Ethanol? Food? .... what are the big price movers?

rsp,

Tom Hickey said...

Fair enough. What are your answers?

In a word, institutionalism. Economics is not a natural science as neoclassical economists think but rather a social science. There are no natural laws operative in the social sciences, since these involve cultural phenomena that are largely institutions, that is creations of human artifice, i.e., artificial and not natural.

The first place to start is the structure of a society in terms of its foundational structure, which in modern societies is class structure and the attendant power structure. The problem with "capitalism" is that it results in a privileged class that wields power based on ownership and control of the means of the means of production and in modern societies controls government through its privileged status.

Ending "capitalism" involves ending the privilege of ownership and management over work, which in turn involves leveling that class structure and power structure so as to eliminate social, political and economic privilege.

It is not an economic issue as much as a social and political one. Do that and the economics will follow, since all factors will be treated equally rather than privileging one or some over the rest, creating asymmetry that distorted distribution of power and wealth.

There are a number of ways that this might be accomplished and choice among these ways is a political one depending on context. The way that the US might choose could be quite different from many other countries. I don't see a cookie cutter one-shoe-fits-all approach as applicable across all contexts. In other words, just as the problem is institutional, so is the solution.

Moreover, in complex adaptive systems solutions lead to the emergence of further challenges, which call forth different solutions. It's not like there is best answer or a final answer. It's conditional, pragmatic and adaptive.

Tom Hickey said...

(continued)

As I have said many times regarding the US in particular. It's a matter of getting the money out of politics and breaking up the large and powerful institutions that control not only the economy but also the culture.

In addition, the US must back off empire and wind down the military-private sector-governmental complex that distorts the social, political and economic foundation of the nation and world.

I would also can the republican from of government with an elite in control and go to actual democracy as government of the people, by the people and for the people as advertised but which doesn't yet exist and hasn't since the founding.

Then I would explore Adolf Lowe's suggestion as a sociologist and economist to begin with exploring the kind of society that the society collectively wants and then figure out how to create it socially, politically and economically, instead of presuming that economic laws are given "naturally" and are therefore determinative (TINA).

I think that these are the basic starting points.

Tom Hickey said...

Brazil is the key to Latin America and the global South, and so MMT should be putting a lot of attention on it.

Jose Guilherme said...

Matt,

Net public debt below 40% of GDP, public deficit about 2% of GDP. Interbank target rate 9%, inflation over 6%, GDP growth forecast about 2,5% for 2013.

Currency depreciation and wage indexation may be contributing to the relatively high inflation rate, though.

Also, productivity growth has been stuck at very low rates and the government has been unable to provide much neeeded investment in infrastructure - thus contributing to bottlenecks and supply chain strain in the most dynamic parts of the economy, such as agribusiness.

That could be changing soon however - there are high hopes for a program of massive investments in roads, airports, harbours, railways, that the government is going to provide through auctions to private sector firms.

Magpie said...

Tom,

You are right: those guys are confused. So am I.

Explain things to me in a way that even I can understand. Do like those Occupy guys did: propose something concrete. Rightly or wrongly, they managed to do it in seven words: "Our One Demand Is To End Capitalism".

Don't come with long-winded explanations: I am way too stupid to understand them. Don't use terms like "complex dynamic adaptive systems": I wouldn't know one of those if it bit me in the ass.

What is it you propose for us to do?

Dan Kervick said...

Magpie, I would say that capitalism is an economic system based on private property and the free private accumulation of capital. If people are left free to exchange whatever they like, on whatever terms they like, without interference from government, then that means capital is free to flow into private hands, with no other constraints but market conditions. The rich get richer and acquire more and more control of the means of production.

Tom Hickey said...

The tile "end capitalism is our one demand" is correct, but impolitic. It doesn't provide an action step and neither does the copy.

Should be "get the money and influence out of politics."

That's the sine qua non in the US and so far it's a non-starter even tho most of the public agrees with it. It's a non-starter because of the money and influence it buys through legalized bribery, crony capitalism, and corruption, resulting in a privileged class and a double standard of justice.

Dan Kervick said...

If people are serious about changing our society in fundamental ways, then they probably need to start with the recognition that doing so is not a matter of coming up with some slogan that everyone agrees with.

Magpie said...

Okay, I understand why you don't like their proposal: it's impolitic and it doesn't provide an action step. I agree.

Doesn't the same criticisms apply to your proposal ("get the money and influence out of politics").

Magpie said...

"If people are left free to exchange whatever they like, on whatever terms they like, without interference from government, then that means capital is free to flow into private hands, with no other constraints but market conditions."

People have exchanged things for a long time. Certainly, long before capitalism existed; sometimes, as an occasional thing; sometimes, as the norm.

When it's done occasionally, why should the act of exchanging qualify a society as capitalism? Jacob agreed on working 7 seven years for Laban, in exchange for Rachel’s hand. I share the bananas I’ve found with you, but now we are best friends for ever, and allies. I scratch your back, you scratch mine.

But even when exchange is the norm, capital is not a set of things: it's a social relation. It includes private property, sure. But it includes other things: freedom to dispose of your property any way you wish, for instance. The right to appropriate the benefits achieved by means of the use of said property. The existence of a mass of people who do not own similar property.

Say, English landlords had the nominal property of the land. That didn't make land capital. They were limited in their rights. For one, landowners were obliged to keep peasants/serfs in that land: to let them use it for their own purposes (amongst others, to live in them, build their houses, and raise their own crops). They couldn't just evict their peasants from "their" huts. They couldn't deprive peasants from "their" own subsistence crops. Nominally, landowners had to provide security, justice and public order. Peasants and serfs had to follow landowners during wartime.

In order to become capitalists, landowners had to eliminate all those anachronistic features: now, you work for me, what you raise is mine and mine only; my only obligation to you is to pay you for the work you did.

An artisan, say a shoemaker, may own some stuff (a hammer, some forms, some leather, some glue, dyes, nails, some scissors): it doesn't mean this stuff is capital. The artisan is certainly no capitalist.

If those institutions are not present, I can't see why exchange by itself would be "capitalist".

Matt Franko said...

Look at the top of the pyramid there is a bag of metal on top and the humans are all under it, this is no longer the case technocratically but most among us do not realize this and continue to operate under falsehood as Warren describes it "under a gold standard mentality"...

Remove that bag of metal from the top of the structure and the whole thing collapses.

Magpie good points about human exchange.

Right now, at all levels humans are still operating as if the medium of human exchange is scarce like the metals were and we can even 'run out of it'. This is false.

Defeat this falsehood and EVERYTHING changes.

We do not have an adequate vision of the magnitude of the changes that will take place within humanity if we overturn this basic falsehood...

Taxes will not 'function to regulate aggregate demand' for one thing... I believe this is a false projection... and we will not need 'a guy at the door with a 9mm' (except maybe for VERY FEW on the fringe)...

Taxes ARE functioning to 'regulate aggregate demand' right now, under the false 'gold standard mentality', but if we can throw this yoke, they will NOT function to regulate aggregate demand anymore... taxes will collapse from current levels... the WHOLE THING changes... BIG.

People will 'demand' that govt inject enough currency so that all desired exchange can/will take place. Either thru govt purchases or transfer payments...

No one will even care what 'the deficit' or 'debt' is...

We will still have price stability except when faced with supply shocks in real terms (droughts/natural disasters/resource depletion/bad govt policy). Govt can plan ahead for these occurrences, prevent bad policy...

Think about a humanity where no one believes we can 'run out of money' it is a humanity MUCH different than we see before us now...

rsp,











Matt Franko said...

Tom,

Looking at the pyramid iaw Batra's 4 classifications:

(again, start with everything is depicted as being UNDER gold which is false...)

The "We rule you" is the Acquirers...

The "We fool you" is the Intelligentsia...

The "We shoot you" is the Warriors...

The "We feed you" is the Laborers

But that "We eat for you" level does not fit in... this must be another tip-off of some sort... evidence of deceiving or something...

Two things wrong with that picture: 1. the gold at the top
2. the "We eat for you" level...

I understand 1 but not 2...

rsp,

Matt Franko said...

Another thing:

The picture has at the top a bag of gold and then to the right of the bag it equates this bag to the word "capitalism"...

So the OWS people say "we want to end 'capitalism'" where this term is equated to a bag of metal in the diagram...

I would look at it rather as my 'mission' to work to end "the gold standard mentality" rather than to end something termed here "capitalism"... rsp,

Matt Franko said...

Mis-spoke above the structure is NOT a pyramid... some sort of vertical structure...

The gold at top provides a top load to put the whole structure in compression...

This compression is key to enable the structure to withstand horizontal forces (wind load, etc..)... but also places larger requirements on the lower levels of the structure...

The humans ('laborers') themselves at the bottom are acting as "compression members":

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Compression_member

But the other levels have actual architectural columns as the compression members... while the humans themselves on those levels are not acting to "carry the load"...

Not sure its fair to say that Warriors, Intelligentsia, Acquirers dont carry any of "the load" at all...

perhaps this level "we eat for you" actually carries no load... but who ARE they????

rsp,

Bob said...

"We eat for you" represent the wealthy, who do not have to work to survive.

I believe Tom nailed down the basic starting points. It's more persuasive to me than a vacuous 'end capitalism' slogan.

Matt has provided a glimpse of the economic narrative that could prevail if MMT prescriptions were adopted.

Where is the movement that would seek to achieve both of these changes?

Dan Kervick said...

Magpie, I think that in some sense capitalism has always existed as one form of economic organization, but that with the rise of industrialization, it became vastly more important and comprehensive, becoming the dominant form of economic organization. That was in part because of the rising importance of machinary, buildings, tools, etc. in the productive processes. But it was also because the new importance of capital was combined with the new classical liberal emphasis on non-interference by government in the freedom to contract. So rather that a government or church or some other expression of a long view of the common good prescribing comprehensive rules for the organization and conduct of industrial processes, the rules were increasingly made by whomever happens to have acquired ownership of the means of production. They are the ones who make "free" contracts with labor, which labor can either take or leave. The terms of those contracts usually have it that labor just provides a service in exchange for a wage, but accumulates no ownership in the expanding means of production. The enterprise is always building or acquiring additional capital, but it is all owned by the owners of the enterprise.

The liberal emphasis on laissez faire and the freedom to contract were, and remain, a precondition for triumph of capitalism, not a solution to it.

The solution is empowered democratic government in which people actually choose the society they want and the rules for organizing it, and do not leave most of those rules up to private contracts.

F. Beard said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
F. Beard said...

The government-backed credit cartel is the source of that pyramid since the rich not only get to keep their cake but use it as collateral for loans of new purchasing power that dilute the purchasing power of everyone else.

Otoh, the use of shares in Equity (common stock) as private money is an ethical form of endogenous money creation so there's really no excuse for our government-backed banking system.

Tom Hickey said...

Okay, I understand why you don't like their proposal: it's impolitic and it doesn't provide an action step. I agree.

Doesn't the same criticisms apply to your proposal ("get the money and influence out of politics").


Magpie, that's my bottom line. Nothing else will work unless that is done before hand. Whatever would be done would just be reversed later. I don't see any possibility of accomplishing the end of capitalism, whatever that would mean practically without it.

As far as I am concerned, if OWS is going to get behind one thing, ending the corruption and cronyism must be it to be successful in anything else. Otherwise, it's pissing into the wind, and swimming upstream into the torrent of money.

Tom Hickey said...

But that "We eat for you" level does not fit in... this must be another tip-off of some sort... evidence of deceiving or something...

According to Batra, the laboring class has not been smart enough or organized enough to hild leadership in the past. so after a revolution, control rather quickly passes out their hands into one of the other classes. Labor leaders, for example, one established become part of the establishment and act against the interests of workers as they make deals for them. They do enough to get reelected in unions but not enough to make a real difference after they have been absorbed into the establishment. They they too become crooked or seek power for themselves in the system.

googleheim said...

The answer is going to be one day all nations will be sovereign and not require any outside help ... they will be able to make the food they need, create the jobs they want, and print anything ... including money in 3D ... yes three dimensions. You will be able to make 1 Avogadro unit of transistors in 1 single beaker ( vis a vis Dr Richard Smalley ) and this means that you will not need semiconductor factories moving from Arizona to Singapore when you can have them Zambia or Nepal. The information and intellect will be WWW and food will not be scare.

Only freedom and equality will matter, and basically that means the Framer's of the USA constitution will be on the hook not tax payers.

Will the constitution bring the ability for all nations to feed, work, and enjoy at the expense only of their own sovereignty.

That is the question !

Magpie said...

@Dan Kervick

"The liberal emphasis on laissez faire and the freedom to contract were, and remain, a precondition for triumph of capitalism, not a solution to it."

Don't get me wrong: I'm not saying otherwise. In other words, I agree with this.

"The solution is empowered democratic government in which people actually choose the society they want and the rules for organizing it (...)"

I also agree with this. However, is this feasible or is it a non-starter, as Tom Hickey says?

"(...) and do not leave most of those rules up to private contracts."

Further, can democratic government be empowered (as you want), without changing the current property structure?

After all, governments are not really democratic because that's functional for the working of capitalism. That's how I understand this:

"The liberal emphasis on laissez faire and the freedom to contract were, and remain, a precondition for triumph of capitalism"

Malmo's Ghost said...

"The solution is empowered democratic government in which people actually choose the society they want and the rules for organizing it..."

What people? 50% plus 1 are "the people"? Good luck in that being workable.

In a balkanized country like ours, "the people" are a hodgepodge of disparate beliefs/ideologies. Consensus is a pipe dream.

F. Beard said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
F. Beard said...

Occupy's one* demand should be to end the government-backed counterfeiting cartel, the banking system, and replace it with a Postal Savings System that neither extends loans nor pays interest.

This back and forth between fascism and socialism is boring. If we don't break out of the loop in favor of ethical money creation then why should God not be bored with us?

*Ending government backing for the cartel would also include restitution with new fiat to the entire population because (you know?) justice requires restitution for theft including penalties.

Dan Kervick said...

"Non-starter" in what sense, Magpie?

In one sense, everything that is different from the consensus way of doing things right now is a non-starter. Significant social change requires years of gradually changing people's minds.

Malmo's Ghost said...

"Significant social change requires years of gradually changing people's minds."

That's good, and I completely agree. Still, there are no guarantees that meaningful social change will ever come to pass. Nevertheless I'll let my fideistic side keep me in a hoping state of mind.

Tom Hickey said...

"The solution is empowered democratic government in which people actually choose the society they want and the rules for organizing it (...)"

I also agree with this. However, is this feasible or is it a non-starter, as Tom Hickey says?


Again the starting point is ending the rampant corruption and cronyism by getting the money and influence — privilege if you will — out of government.

Is this feasible? This is one of the few things upon which an overwhelming majority voters agree. If this is not possible I don't know what would be.

Until this happens the ideal of a "government of the people, for the people and by the people" remains a slogan in an inspiring speech.

Tom Hickey said...

MG : "The solution is empowered democratic government in which people actually choose the society they want and the rules for organizing it..."

What people? 50% plus 1 are "the people"? Good luck in that being workable.

In a balkanized country like ours, "the people" are a hodgepodge of disparate beliefs/ideologies. Consensus is a pipe dream.


DK: In one sense, everything that is different from the consensus way of doing things right now is a non-starter. Significant social change requires years of gradually changing people's minds.

Both are significant. First, what is happening in evolution and development in general is testing boundaries. Secondly, what's happening in the world right now since the American experiment is testing the boundaries of liberalism — social, political, and economic. Thirdly, what's happening is globalization, which involves the extension of the American melting pot to the rest of the world.

Boundaries are clashing as different perspectives, attitudes, traditions, and worldviews meet in ways they haven't before, other than in the frequent wars arising from such differences.

This is going to be long process of development made more necessary and more difficult by geographic and demographic shifts taking place.

How it is going to play out is anyone's guess. But one thing is sure. The process will be characterized by a clash of interests, and wealth and power will play big roles. This will also provoke reactions from the have-nots, who are much more numerous and stepping onto a level that they have never stepped before.