Re: [OPE] capitalism as an unnatural system

Date: Fri May 13 2011 - 19:45:44 EDT

> Jerry wrote:
> “I hope we can agree then that propositions that capitalism is natural
> and eternal are ideological constructions...”
> Only in the trivial sense that all ideas and ideologies (including
> yours and mine) are created by human beings. But this doesn’t help us
> understand any particular ideological propositions. What are they
> created out of? What is the basis for the notion that capitalism is
> natural?
Hi Paula:
One should not conflate ideas and ideologies - as you seem to do in a
sentence above. It is not trivial to say that the propositions that
capitalism is eternal and natural are ideological: these ideas have
their origin in the class interests of the bourgeoisie. Capitalism
was never natural or eternal; this is a rationalization for capitalist
class rule. In this respect, it is by no means unique: the representatives
of the slave system the and feudal order also claimed that their
modes of production were natural and eternal.
> Likewise, what is the basis for the notion of free
> competition? If you genuinely try to answer this, I think you will see
> that the basis is not ideological, but is material, social, and
> historical.

When YOU try to answer that question, you will see that:
1. unlike the ideological conceptions that capitalism is eternal
and natural which make a claim about what capitalism *IS*, it should
be clear from the HISTORY of the conception of free competition
that it ALWAYS concerned a claim about what capitalism *SHOULD BE*.
2. historically the VERY SAME bourgeois authors who claimed that
capitalism is natural and eternal ALSO claimed that there SHOULD
BE free competition. I.e. it was an IDEAL, which expressed their
CLASS INTERESTS, which they wanted (in theory) to become a reality.
3. there was NEVER a historical period where there was free competition
under capitalism. THere were simply periods in which there was more
or less regulation and 'interference' by the state. As I have
suggested before, this concept had a more specific origin in the desire
by a segment of the bourgeoisie to break-up state-created monopolies
and also diminish the authority of the landowning class.
4. The bourgeoisie itself often departed from this ideal of free
competition to pursue a more pragmatic relationship with the state.
That is, they were more than willing to cast aside this ideological
concept when they thought that some 'interference' and regulation
by the state was in their (national, regional, or temporal) class
interests. In this sense, their identification with this ideal
was less strong than their identification with the ideas that capitalism
is natural and eternal. But, here again, in other historical periods,
the bourgeoisie came to recognize that perhaps capitalism wasn't
eternal after all: this fear of revolutionary change was an important
aspect of the appeal of fascism.
5. For a LONG time, the authors who have been talking about how
we should have free markets, free competition, and free market capitalism
have been RIGHT-WING, often pro-capitalist libertarians. NONE of them
to my knowledge says that capitalism ever was based on free markets and
had free competition. That is, they EXPLICITLY hold it up as an IDEAL
to be strived for.
6. The belief - by some non-historians and ideologues - that monopoly
(oligopolies) arose out of free competition BECAUSE OF increasing
regulation and interference by the state obscures grasping the real historical
process whereby these oligopolies arose more fundamentally out of the
inherent nature of the competitive process and capital. Like many other
'stylized facts' it doesn't bear scrutiny.
In solidarity, Jerry
ope mailing list
Received on Fri May 13 19:46:37 2011

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