Overthrowing Capitalism

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Overthrowing Capitalism

Postby Exi5tentialist » Sun Sep 02, 2012 8:59 pm

Well I've certainly been kept busy wasting my time in time-wasting discussions about the hundreds of different ways available to insult and degrade another human being. Can we move on now?

Cut to the chase - when are we going to overthrow capitalism, and how shall we go about it?
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Re: Overthrowing Capitalism

Postby LanceWisely » Sun Sep 02, 2012 9:30 pm

If someone wants to talk about regulating capitalism so that it serves the greater good as much as possible, I'm in. Overthrowing it interests me not at all.
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Re: Overthrowing Capitalism

Postby Exi5tentialist » Sun Sep 02, 2012 9:39 pm

It's more or less overthrown itself already hasn't it? I can't believe the amount of public resources that have gone into propping up the banks. Huge sums of money that would never have been heard of when they were needed for the public services went straight into the financial sector at a day's notice. That and those stupid wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, and now we've got an extended period of cuts to public services because we have supposedly been living beyond our means. The profligacy of capitalism is repulsive. It's time the dying old system was finally put down.
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Re: Overthrowing Capitalism

Postby prude » Sun Sep 02, 2012 9:43 pm

Exi5tentialist wrote:Cut to the chase - when are we going to overthrow capitalism, and how shall we go about it?

What's your opinion on Fidel Castro and Hugo Chavez?
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Re: Overthrowing Capitalism

Postby Exi5tentialist » Sun Sep 02, 2012 9:48 pm

prude wrote:
Exi5tentialist wrote:Cut to the chase - when are we going to overthrow capitalism, and how shall we go about it?

What's your opinion on Fidel Castro and Hugo Chavez?

Fidel Castro - tyrant
Hugo Chavez - don't know. Probably a tyrant.
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Re: Overthrowing Capitalism

Postby prude » Sun Sep 02, 2012 10:41 pm

This is what transhumanists talk about nowadays:

http://www.abundancethebook.com
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Re: Overthrowing Capitalism

Postby Andrew G. » Sun Sep 02, 2012 10:45 pm

False dilemma much? In between "current western runaway monetarist/neoliberal capitalism" and "nominally-communist strongman dictatorship" there is a whole wide ocean of possibilities.

To answer the original question: I would not advocate "overthrowing" capitalism; one should start by weeding out the false and dangerous entrenched ideas that currently dominate, and see what happens.

For example, current policy debate on both sides privileges the issue of "national debt" (a misnomer), or equivalently "government deficit", above every other consideration whatever. This is ultimately pointless (the government does not really control directly the size of its deficit) and dangerous (concern over the deficit debate prevents the government from doing what it should be doing to improve the real economy). These ideas need to be opposed.
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Re: Overthrowing Capitalism

Postby DeeEmarr » Sun Sep 02, 2012 10:55 pm

Capitalism is here to stay.

The market as a means of exchange is not going away. The idea that society could function without it is extremely dubious.

That said, I am certainly all for the idea of weeding out bad ideas that proliferate discussions of economics, particularly in the United States.

Among them: the idea that capitalism has systemic flaws that cannot be addressed without throwing out the whole thing.
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Re: Overthrowing Capitalism

Postby The Atheist » Sun Sep 02, 2012 11:07 pm

Exi5tentialist wrote:Cut to the chase - when are we going to overthrow capitalism,...


A "When hell freezes over" is presently favourite.

Exi5tentialist wrote:... and how shall we go about it?


B When you can call for the 99% to wake up and not sound like a conspiracist; i.e. see A
Go to work, get married, have some kids, pay your taxes, pay your bills, watch your tv, follow fashion, act normal, obey the law and repeat after me: "I am free."

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Re: Overthrowing Capitalism

Postby simpleflower » Mon Sep 03, 2012 1:06 am

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Re: Overthrowing Capitalism

Postby ceepolk » Mon Sep 03, 2012 3:31 am

It would certainly be nicer to pretend that regulation is an option, I agree.

But when big business basically buys politicians and lawmakers to write the rules to their advantage, when corporations are rich enough and powerful enough to throw billions at maintaining the status quo so even class action litigation is just an overhead expense that doesn't really impact the obscenity that is the system that puts getting more money ahead of any person who isn't stuffing all that money into a Cayman bank, well how

I ask again, how

Do you propose that better regulation isn't just a comforting pretend game? What regulation is going to solve the problem? And how are you going to do it in a system that's already been bought by banksters and corporate domination?

The time to solve the problem by regulation was midway through the twentieth century. And I have to adapt Stokely Carmichael here: "In order for regulation to work, the people affected by the regulation have to have a conscience."
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Re: Overthrowing Capitalism

Postby simpleflower » Mon Sep 03, 2012 3:34 am

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Re: Overthrowing Capitalism

Postby Veggos » Mon Sep 03, 2012 5:27 pm

Capitalism is growing more authoritarian and more towards neo-liberalism with every second that passes.

A glimmer of hope comes from south america being largely left-wing, but that's about it. This might sound like an exagiration, but it's not: Europe is one of the last bastions of hope on the world changing for the best. If Europe doesn't change and turns into a racist (amongst europeans see: p.i.i.g.s, north vs south etc and europeans vs immigrants see: Marine Le Pen, Anders Behring Breivik, Golden Dawn etc) and neoliberal, austerity policy, not caring for the wellfare of its peoples shithole then we might ALL be doomed. This is why the left should be supported with passion everywhere that it happens to bloom, and that's what people should do in my opinion.
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Re: Overthrowing Capitalism

Postby MichelleZB » Mon Sep 03, 2012 5:49 pm

Exi5tentialist wrote:Cut to the chase - when are we going to overthrow capitalism, and how shall we go about it?


I searched for a "like" button for this!

I think we should overthrow capitalism ASAP, but not sure how.
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Re: Overthrowing Capitalism

Postby rumblestiltsken » Mon Sep 03, 2012 6:13 pm

I think I agree with the transhumanists, capitalism will eventually be overtaken when we reach a post-scarcity economy. That begins when energy is cheap enough to be essentially free, and then automation makes labour essentially free.

Then we find new economies.

I truly doubt a new economy will be anything like we have practiced in the past. Overthrowing capitalism to replace it with an existing economic model is neither plausible, nor desirable in my mind. Capitalism has flaws, but more people are better off than any other large society economic model that has existed.
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Re: Overthrowing Capitalism

Postby apxeo » Mon Sep 03, 2012 6:13 pm

DeeEmarr wrote:Capitalism is here to stay.

The market as a means of exchange is not going away. The idea that society could function without it is extremely dubious.

That said, I am certainly all for the idea of weeding out bad ideas that proliferate discussions of economics, particularly in the United States.

Among them: the idea that capitalism has systemic flaws that cannot be addressed without throwing out the whole thing.


Just a quick note--the presence of market exchange is not a sufficient definition of capitalism, otherwise every society would be capitalist, even communist ones.
Cogito cogito ergo cogito sum (Ambrose Bierce)
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Re: Overthrowing Capitalism

Postby locke » Mon Sep 03, 2012 6:29 pm

With what economic system do you propose that we replace it?

Socialism empirically devolves into fascism.
Communism empirically devolves into socialism, and has been shown to be stable really only for groups up to about 150 people.

Even if one accepts the premise that socialism can he maintained, it stagnates innovation --disruptive change is impossible to plan or plan for.

Even China has decided that the economic system of socialism failed and are becoming more capitalist.

Name your preferred alternative.
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Re: Overthrowing Capitalism

Postby DeeEmarr » Mon Sep 03, 2012 6:45 pm

apxeo wrote:
DeeEmarr wrote:Capitalism is here to stay.

The market as a means of exchange is not going away. The idea that society could function without it is extremely dubious.

That said, I am certainly all for the idea of weeding out bad ideas that proliferate discussions of economics, particularly in the United States.

Among them: the idea that capitalism has systemic flaws that cannot be addressed without throwing out the whole thing.


Just a quick note--the presence of market exchange is not a sufficient definition of capitalism, otherwise every society would be capitalist, even communist ones.


True. I suppose I am guilty of oversimplification there.

But what exactly does one mean by "capitalism" when one calls to overthrow it?

Or, put another way, what exactly would you change, and what would you leave the same?

It's all well and good to look at the current system and see flaws in it, again, particularly in the United States, but a call to overthrow the system doesn't do much good if we don't know what we want to do once we're done with the insurrection.
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Re: Overthrowing Capitalism

Postby ceepolk » Mon Sep 03, 2012 6:49 pm

rumblestiltsken wrote:I think I agree with the transhumanists, capitalism will eventually be overtaken when we reach a post-scarcity economy. That begins when energy is cheap enough to be essentially free, and then automation makes labour essentially free.


"This begins when energy is cheap enough to be essentially free"

This would be awesome, but when is *that* going to happen? Because I don't believe that it's happening anytime soon. In fact the people who have the cash to research the energy solution that is so cheap it'll be essentially free - look at them. Check those billionaires out. What are they doing right now? I'll give you a hint, they're *not* looking for an energy solution that is so cheap it'll be essentially free. They're dedicated to making sure the energy solutions they have *now* are the only choices available, and they're not cheap, and they're not ethical, and they don't give a damn about anything but the money they make.

I would love it if large scale automation meant that people were provided with the basics and wouldn't have to ever face the risk of becoming homeless or having to turn to crime just to survive. I would love to see what happened when that particular ill of society was gone, and see what happens when people can do what they love to do rather than what they have to do. But I do not believe that we're headed towards that.
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Re: Overthrowing Capitalism

Postby rumblestiltsken » Mon Sep 03, 2012 6:59 pm

I am not sure it is too far off. Renewables have near-zero extraction cost. So does next gen nuclear for at least a hundred years of energy. Once breakeven becomes quicker, I think we will see governments investing in power again.

Like electric cars. Manufacturers have fought against them because oil interests will lose out, and electric is so much more efficient so it costs less/makes less profit per mile. Even with that fightback it is happening, and will be here in the next 10 years on a big scale.

It seems progress can be slowed, but not stopped. When the technology is there, nothing can be done to prevent it.

I'm a techno-optimist, obviously.
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Re: Overthrowing Capitalism

Postby locke » Mon Sep 03, 2012 7:19 pm

rumblestiltsken wrote:I think I agree with the transhumanists, capitalism will eventually be overtaken when we reach a post-scarcity economy. That begins when energy is cheap enough to be essentially free, and then automation makes labour essentially free..



I must disagree with the transhumanists on this point. Energy is just one input to cost -- near-zero-cost energy would certainly disrupt industries, reduce costs, and make us all better off, but there would still be scarce labor. Once labor is removed from the equation by automation, there will still be scarce intelligence. Even if scarce intelligence is eventually displaced by perfectly innovative computers, there will be scarce copper, iron, silicon, carbon, etc. There will always be some element of scarcity, and therefore a need for a mechanism by which scarce resources can be allocated efficiently.

Of course, if intelligent machines do all the thinking, working, resource extracting, etc. -- I don't see why they'd "think" they needed to allocate any of those resources to us, so I guess the collapse of capitalism would become moot. ;)


And to answer a prior unanswered question, Capitalism is defined as an economic system characterized by private ownership and control of the means of production. Markets are an emergent property of Capitalism -- not a defining one.
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Re: Overthrowing Capitalism

Postby rumblestiltsken » Mon Sep 03, 2012 7:34 pm

Once you get past a point where physical labour is not needed, you suddenly have billions more minds for intelligence tasks.

An intelligence economy may have similarities to modern capitalism, but it is not the same. Intelligence activities are not productive consistently, there are downtimes and eureka moments. So a market could not value intelligence tasks by time input.

At the very least a new variation on capitalism would emerge.

I think the change will occur technologically far quicker than our society will be able to adjust.
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Re: Overthrowing Capitalism

Postby locke » Mon Sep 03, 2012 7:37 pm

rumblestiltsken wrote:I am not sure it is too far off. Renewables have near-zero extraction cost. So does next gen nuclear for at least a hundred years of energy. Once breakeven becomes quicker, I think we will see governments investing in power again.


Most renewables currently cost more per unit of energy output than oil, which is why they have not taken off:
- Ethanol is not cost efficient without subsidies, and if the entire Earth's surface were planted with corn could not displace hydrocarbons.
- According to physical models of the earth's atmosphere, were the entire world's surface that is amenable to the technology to be covered .in wind farms, we could not generate 10% of current energy consumption -- and it requires large backup plants for when wind isn't blowing.
- Solar technology could be an answer, but even that is constrained by variability of solar output (clouds).
- biodiesel is possible, but its use puts several times more carcinogenic materials in the air than gasoline (petrol).
- Geothermal / hydroelectric / tidal / etc, if maximally implemented could not reach 10% of current world energy use.
- Nuclear could do it, but it isn't zero-cost, merely low-cost, and isn't amenable to variable electricity loads. As such it is used primarily for constant-load energy provision, with natural gas and other quick-start techs used to handle peak loads.

Ultimately, the only technology on the horizon that could, in theory, replace all existing production without displacing the majority of the world's population is fusion -- but it wouldn't be cost-less, merely low-cost, and it wouldn't technically be renewable. There would come a day when the hydrogen was used up.

-- note, I ignore the possiblity of space-based solar arrays with microwave transmission technology, as that would require such large initial cost outlays that it is unlikely to be feasible within our lifetimes.


Like electric cars. Manufacturers have fought against them because oil interests will lose out, and electric is so much more efficient so it costs less/makes less profit per mile. Even with that fightback it is happening, and will be here in the next 10 years on a big scale.

It seems progress can be slowed, but not stopped. When the technology is there, nothing can be done to prevent it.

I'm a techno-optimist, obviously.


If a car costs less to make, it makes more profit per mile -- your statement makes no sense. The price tag you pay for a car depends on the demand for the vehicle, not the amount it costs to make it. Producers are constantly looking for ways to cut costs -- electric hasn't caught on a) because battery technology isn't good enough for long-haul trips yet and create fire and explosion hazards in collisions, and b) because if you need to drive more than a few hundred miles, you're unlikely to find a place to plug in (and it would take so long that you wouldn't want to anyway).
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Re: Overthrowing Capitalism

Postby locke » Mon Sep 03, 2012 7:39 pm

rumblestiltsken wrote:Once you get past a point where physical labour is not needed, you suddenly have billions more minds for intelligence tasks.

An intelligence economy may have similarities to modern capitalism, but it is not the same. Intelligence activities are not productive consistently, there are downtimes and eureka moments. So a market could not value intelligence tasks by time input.

At the very least a new variation on capitalism would emerge.

I think the change will occur technologically far quicker than our society will be able to adjust.



One can only hope :) . I think you've hit the nail on the head. But the key isn't that capitalism would change, merely that something different would be priced. Instead of pricing labor per unit time, some different metric would emerge for allocating resources between people.
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Re: Overthrowing Capitalism

Postby simpleflower » Mon Sep 03, 2012 7:41 pm

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