Capitalism Can Be Cured: Elmar Altvater

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"The Occupy movement protests worldwide against the power of banks. The Indignados in Spain demonstrate against the system that gives them this crisis and high unemployment.. No saying has been criticized more vigorously than Margaret Thatcher's sentence there is no alternative to the present system..

In Bolivia and Ecuador, the governments have anchored the principle of buen vivir (the good life) in their constitutions. This can be understood as an alternative concept to the model of the West and the consumption habits that we know. Cooperatives that manage energy, real estate or other necessities arise everywhere in the world.. We must abandon the ideology of the unchangeability of the prevailing conditions that holds us captive..

We must begin now to radically rethink and reorganize our life and work. We may not fritter away any time.. The necessity was never greater and the chances for a chance were never better than today."

Elmar Altvater is an emeritus professor of political economy at the Free University of Berlin and author of many books on globalization and alternative economics.

to read the interview with Elmar Altvater published 11/25/2011, click on

http://portland.indymedia.org/en/2012/06/416315.shtml

demandside's picture
demandside
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Comments

This appeared in the 6/11 issue of The Nation.

http://www.ikners.com/2012/05/26/beyond-corporate-capitalism-not-so-wild-a-dream-by-gar-alperovitz-and-thomas-hanna/

Alperovitz is the author of "America Beyond Capitaliism" and is currently (I think) is a prof at Maryland.He advocates employee owned companies. The concept is definitely gaining favor particularly in Silicon Valley.

There is definitely a better and more democratic way to form a corporation than the tyrannical method that has evolved up to now.

Combad57's picture
Combad57
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May. 29, 2012 12:50 pm

Capitalism is the worst system ever created (except for every other system ever tried).

rigel1's picture
rigel1
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Jan. 31, 2011 7:49 am
Quote rigel1:

Capitalism is the worst system ever created (except for every other system ever tried).

So let's try something new. Start by stopping the crony board of directors system that's in place today. Start by having a majority of directors from within the company and labor represented.

Start by going back to the spirit of Teddy Roosevelt to stop collusion and actually promote competition. Start by overturning Citizens United and while we're at it get big corporate money out of politics.

What we call "capitalism" today doesn't represent anything of what Adam Smith had in mind.

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Combad57
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May. 29, 2012 12:50 pm

rigel, it is "democracy" that gets the title role in that old Churchillian bon mot. "Capitalism" is part of the economic toolbox, along with socialism. They are designs and techniques that accomplish some goals, and both do better in some areas than the other in what results in a "mixed economy." It is not as if socialism and capitalism were made to compete rather than cooperate to serve the human and ecological needs of living on the earth together.

What you include in "capitalism" includes the personal, private ownership of farms and businesses. In the strict definition, "capitalism" is reserved to the investment of "capital" in the businesses of others, not in the design of worker-owned enterprises we think of as "socialist." That definition is a problem there too, because your Rightwingers think that collective ownership is the same as State Ownership.

It could be, only if "the State" is the most efficient way to organize, fund and deliver what we need or want. When it comes to the Commons, owning the institutions instead of paying investors profits to provide them is how the savings (or profits) are returned to the citizens. The Private Sector cannot do this as well or at a competetive price.

A society of "owners" rather than renters or serfs may be what you think "capitalism" delivers. I could hold that same picture for democratic socialism and worker owned collectives and praise "socialism" as if it were the right economic religion. The big issue is the distinction between citizen/worker owners of their own labor and those who sell their work to the investor capitalist mega-corp "owners" of America. Why economic libertarians or proud self-achievers want to be linked to the Goldman Sachs and Bain Capital examples of criminal greed eludes me.

I think it is time for you Righties to clean up you economic rhetoric and get on the moral side of Wall St. instead of being its pimps. Main St., small business and citizen/owners do not need Wall St. They do need an honest public utility called banks. It has become clear that the private sector cannot be relied on to provide this service.

drc2
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Apr. 26, 2012 12:15 pm

G K Chesterton promoted a third way

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douglaslee
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Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm

Economics changes with the times. Once savings was the elixir; then spending (with John Maynard Keynes) was the elixir. We've suffered in the neoliberal counter-revolution of Milton Friedman's Chicago school. The market was held to be self-regulating and consumers and investors blessed with complete information. Keynes recognized that helping the super-rich with tax cuts and subsidies would lead to exploding inequality and hoarding rather then investing their increased wealth. John Kenneth Galbraith described supply-side economics with the horse-sparrow theory. The horses must be fed so the sparrows can live.

Once jobs are created and more people pay into social security, the deficit will gradually decline, Robert Kuttner (American Spectator) pleads. How can we unite people against the neoliberal myths and remedy the short-term and long-term demand problem? Ralph Nader urges supporting Rep. Jesse Jackson's bill for a nationwide $10 minimum wage. Ending the Bush tax cuts and ending criiminal wars would be important steps.

demandside's picture
demandside
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Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm
Quote drc2:

rigel, it is "democracy" that gets the title role in that old Churchillian bon mot. "Capitalism" is part of the economic toolbox, along with socialism. They are designs and techniques that accomplish some goals, and both do better in some areas than the other in what results in a "mixed economy." It is not as if socialism and capitalism were made to compete rather than cooperate to serve the human and ecological needs of living on the earth together.

What you include in "capitalism" includes the personal, private ownership of farms and businesses. In the strict definition, "capitalism" is reserved to the investment of "capital" in the businesses of others, not in the design of worker-owned enterprises we think of as "socialist." That definition is a problem there too, because your Rightwingers think that collective ownership is the same as State Ownership.

It could be, only if "the State" is the most efficient way to organize, fund and deliver what we need or want. When it comes to the Commons, owning the institutions instead of paying investors profits to provide them is how the savings (or profits) are returned to the citizens. The Private Sector cannot do this as well or at a competetive price.

A society of "owners" rather than renters or serfs may be what you think "capitalism" delivers. I could hold that same picture for democratic socialism and worker owned collectives and praise "socialism" as if it were the right economic religion. The big issue is the distinction between citizen/worker owners of their own labor and those who sell their work to the investor capitalist mega-corp "owners" of America. Why economic libertarians or proud self-achievers want to be linked to the Goldman Sachs and Bain Capital examples of criminal greed eludes me.

I think it is time for you Righties to clean up you economic rhetoric and get on the moral side of Wall St. instead of being its pimps. Main St., small business and citizen/owners do not need Wall St. They do need an honest public utility called banks. It has become clear that the private sector cannot be relied on to provide this service.

In theroy what you say above makes perfect sense. The only problem in the real world it will never work. Sorry, what you lefties keep forgetting in your drive to give the government more power is that those elected officials are out for themselves just as much as any capitalist. Their number one goal is to get re elected. Their number two goal is to get as much power as they can for themselves. And you lefties just refuse to accept those realities and are playing right into their hands!

There is a theroy that says Democracy has a shelf life, that by its very nature it can never last too long. Once the "have nots" and those who perceive themselves as "have nots" figure out that they can vote themselves tax dollars out of the public till into their own pockets, the whole system collapses. Look at Greece, Italy, Spain, and Ireland to see examples of how that is played out. At times it has looked like we in the US were heading in the same direction. The election of 2010 at least slowed that process down.

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mauiman58
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Jan. 6, 2012 6:45 pm

Well done, drc2. It seems what you have done here is introduce an element of morality into this concept of capitalism to replace the predation that exists in the current system.

Way back in the 1930s Einstein rejected capitalism as it had never evolved from it's predatory stage. He was a pretty smart boy who may have found this new concept to be more amenable.

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Combad57
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May. 29, 2012 12:50 pm

"There is a theroy that says Democracy has a shelf life, that by its very nature it can never last too long. Once the "have nots" and those who perceive themselves as "have nots" figure out that they can vote themselves tax dollars out of the public till into their own pockets, the whole system collapses. Look at Greece, Italy, Spain, and Ireland to see examples of how that is played out. At times it has looked like we in the US were heading in the same direction. The election of 2010 at least slowed that process down."

Big corporate and the banksters aren't feeding from the public trough now?

ADM, GE, Northrup Grummond, General Dynamics, Diebold, Haliburton, Dell, Apple, Cargill, Citi, Boeing, Wellpoint, KBR, Pfizer. Take a look at U.S. trade policy and tell me they haven't bought this congress.

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Combad57
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Quote Combad57:

Big corporate and the banksters aren't feeding from the public trough now?

ADM, GE, Northrup Grummond, General Dynamics, Diebold, Haliburton, Dell, Apple, Cargill, Citi, Boeing, Wellpoint, KBR, Pfizer. Take a look at U.S. trade policy and tell me they haven't bought this congress.

Can't comment on all of the above companies, but you'll never see me in favor of any government bailouts. The left is upset with the large salaries made by the CEOs of bailed out companies, and they do have a point if the CEO in question was at the helm when the ship went down.

Sorry I do not feel like I can comment on trade policy, I just don't have an opinion there.

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mauiman58
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Since the money controlling congress is also voting themselves from the till through tax subsidies and loopholes what collapses is democracy, replaced with fascism, disguised as capitalism. The people can't vote for money for themselves corporations can and do. The corporations can also disenfranchise any voters that stand in their way. Whatever the American system is, it is not Smithian.

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douglaslee
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Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm
Quote douglaslee:

Since the money controlling congress is also voting themselves from the till through tax subsidies and loopholes what collapses is democracy, replaced with fascism, disguised as capitalism. The people can't vote for money for themselves corporations can and do. The corporations can also disenfranchise any voters that stand in their way. Whatever the American system is, it is not Smithian.

Huh?? There are a lot more "have not" voters out there than voters who support corporations.

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mauiman58
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Jan. 6, 2012 6:45 pm

No, I was ready to sign the commitment papers after about five of these little delusional gems. You love "capitalism" whatever it is for giving you everything. It is your God.

I was trying to point out that "capitalism" is a technical term in economics for the use of investment capital and its utility in a market beyond personal ownership or family businesses. It can be 'designed' to recreate Scrooge's London or to have something like Ike's America of broadly shared Middle Class prosperity. But, unfettered private ownership will design itself into powerful elites and masses left out. It will not see the need or value of debt forgiveness and real social mobility as it protects its narrowing circle of great wealth.

I suggest some light reading from that humorist, Matt Taibi, whose accounts of Wall St. and Goldman Sachs will have you rolling in the aisles. He gets in a lot of great jabs at Obama and really hates Rahm. So, I am not trying to lead you where you will hate what you read. I think you will enjoy and agree with enough from Taibi to come back with some much better questions and rejoinders.

And, isn't capitalism why we have so many homeless and hungry people? Doesn't it have something to do with pollution and other wasteland effects? But relax. You are not in a discussion with people who are the same as on the conservative training tapes for dealing with liberals. You are going to have to get to know us better, and it can start with the idea that the things you think capitalism has given you are pretty good things. We like peace and prosperity, and I demure from the idea that simplicity means austerity. I think there is a place for oppulent feasts as well. It's just that "the good things in life" tend not to be for sale.

Is the real question that divides capitalism from socialism for you akin to a preference for individual or team sports? If you like teamwork, where in the process do you agree to play as a team rather than exercise any personal reservation or dissent?

BTW, capitalism is why we cannot attend Major League Sports unless we know some princely businessperson whose tax write-offs allow him to have the tickets. In the good old Ike days, the Average Joe could take the kids to the game and not check the bank account. Of course, real and legitimate "capitalism" would never allow its good name to be smeared by the current 'conservatives.' This corporate rape is worse than "capitalism." And, it does not bring any of us anything good.

drc2
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Apr. 26, 2012 12:15 pm
Quote drc2:

No, I was ready to sign the commitment papers after about five of these little delusional gems. You love "capitalism" whatever it is for giving you everything. It is your God.

If you want to know who my God is ask me. I will tell you. Don't you dare tell me who my God is. Let's make a deal. I will let you speak for your beliefs and you can can let me speak for mine. Fair enough?

Okay, so specifically how is what I said not true? Pick one or two of my "gems" and explain how they are not ass deep in capitalism. Don't be shy. Let er rip. But please be kind to poor lil Rigel. Remember mean spiritness is a conservative thing. You wouldn't want to be caught acting like a conservative would ya?

BTW. Captialism is exactly why we have major league sports. Investors discovered that they could make money by hiring players to play a sport for the entertainment of others. They are capitalizing on an opportunity. It's made hundreds wealthy and provided jobs to thousands of others.

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rigel1
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Jan. 31, 2011 7:49 am

Not really. Major League Sports were "fan-based" rather than something a few rich guys thought up. Baseball was popular. It is true that the "owners" tended to be a bunch of skinflint hardasses, but at least at the beginning they cared something about the game other than it being a profit source. They just reflected the sense of "ownership" that made unions the enemy, and as "bosses" and "owners" they screwed the people who made the game worth watching.

The present generation of tv exploiters and stadium civic fraudsters hide their profits in "costs" while they allow our money as "consumers" to fund their expensive toys. What they have done to player salaries may appear to have enriched the latter, but it is not so for the average player. The fans are paying through the nose.

I prefer the ownership model of the Green Bay Packers where the franchise is not going too move unless the citizen/owners of Green Bay decide they don't want to have it there any longer. When that heat wave hits Green Bay in January, let me know. I think every community ought to get the profits of its franchise and be able to enjoy the "home team" knowing that it is not going to leave town or leverage a sweetheart bonanza on the taxpayer bill.

I don't think capitalism has anything to do with why their are breweries or wineries. And, nobody I know wants "socialism" to mean State produced Beer. It would be nice to have affordable real beer and wine, and "capitalism" could help if the distribution of wealth were more equal. All it does now is let the wealthy price the good stuff out of my budget.

The rest of your list is laughable, and were you putting us on with it, the post would be more fun and wittier.

As to "your God," when you praise anything for being what has given you all the blessings of your life, why not just admit that it and your God are One. It is the source, not some metaphysical projection you use to domesticate its secular crudity. I think capitalism is a secular concept of limited economic utility, but important use. It does not deny the utility of socialism and neither define the balance of contexts where collective v. "private" ownership models work better or worse.

In other words, my economic theories are not independent from my appreciation of something bigger. I don't think there is anything magical in economics and that our humanity is always worth more than what the buyers/sellers of the soul offer.

BTW, when wineries and other producers of artisan and indigenous value go "corporate," their products tend to decline in quality. I would say it is the dedication of those who produce the quality product, not the profit motive or other purported incentives of capitalism that matters. If "capitalism" were the magic that made it all great, they would not have to maintain high standards of quality at higher costs than their competitors. They would not see quick profit chasing succeed as it does in your beloved 'capitalism.'

drc2
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Apr. 26, 2012 12:15 pm

Chiming in from Beer City USA, a frontier of social and cultural change (change is good to a liberal, bad to a conservative).... while the status quo is destroying the biosphere...

I was working on a construction project where live entertainments and local craft beer will be served. The GC bragged to the owner that he was a capitalist and all I could think was what a pompous shallow greedy man that was....no shit sherlock, we live in the USA where ya can't not be a capitalist to a degree.

I more recently thought that the 99% should be for 93%.....the 99 for 93....the top 1% gained 93% of the income during the last three years so they should pay 93% tax on it... we could and perhaps should petition for such. Look at the history and it's not so absurd. The conservatives always seem to want to regress, so let's bring back the tax rates of the 50's

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MEJ
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Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm

Check out the graphic novel, "UPGRADE" on Amazon for free download. Set in the future, it gives a chilling vision of a corporate controlled world, where every aspect of life is moderated by industry, capitalism gone wild. It goes to a creepy extreme where new products are forced on the public through manditory "upgrades". It's satire, both funny and freaky, but so much of it rings true.

The world could really end up this way if industry is left unchecked.

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practical
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Jun. 22, 2012 5:47 am
Quote drc2:

rigel, it is "democracy" that gets the title role in that old Churchillian bon mot. "Capitalism" is part of the economic toolbox, along with socialism.

Well I was quoting Rigel, Not Churchhill. Capitalism has created a lot of cool things. Including your hand held device and that nifty computer you are using right now.

Capitalism is why Magic Johnson is still alive.

Capitalism is why the U.S. can feed itself and a large portion of the world.

Capitalism is why we have birth control and have not yet bred ourselves out of existance.

Capitalism is why we can go coast to coast in a few hours rather than a few months.

Capitalism is why we can enjoy a beer or wine with dinner.

Capitalism is why you can watch Thom Hartmann on that high def flat screen.

Capitalism is why you can drive a Prius instead of a Yugo.

Captialism is why you can go to the movies and be entertained by a bunch of rich capitalists that claim they are "progressives."

Capitalism is why I can attend a major league baseball game.

Captialism is why our lifespan is now longer 45 years.

Need I go on? Before we rush to ditch capitalism we need to look around and notice how our lives are enriched by it. I couldn't imagine the dark,dingy world we would have without it.

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rigel1
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Jan. 31, 2011 7:49 am

Currently Chatting

Who Should an Economy Serve?

The top one percent own half of all the world's assets. In stark contrast, the bottom fifty percent of the world owns less than one percent. According to the 2014 Global Wealth Report from Credit Suisse, global inequality has surged since the 2008 financial collapse. The report explains that while global wealth has more than doubled since the year 2000, the vast majority of overall growth has gone to those who were already wealthy.

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