Monday, July 15, 2013

Integral anti-capitalism

Layman Pascal started an IPS thread by the above name. My responses to questions to date follow:

"How would you tend to distinguish between CAPITALISM and BUSINESS (or MARKETS)?"

I'll start by referencing the IPS "integral global capitalism" thread, which also links to our prior Gaia thread on the topic. In this post I also linked to the IL conscious capitalism post which said: “If you shop, have a job, or own any investments, you're a capitalist. But are you a conscious capitalist?

For one this presumes that if you engage in markets and business or exchange money you are a capitalist, which is an erroneous and revealing assumption. Cannot one do all those things without engaging in capitalism? One most certainly can. Just because money or capital in involved doesn’t make it capitalism. Technically capitalism means private ownership of the means of production. Whereas we can make money, shop, have a job, engage is competitive markets but the workers can own the means of production and operate the business democratically. Co-ops are but one example, the Mondragon Corporation being the largest. This is Marx's move from capitalism to democratic socialism. I'd add that some of the most democratic and happiest countries have some degree of democratic socialism, like Iceland, Norway, Denmark and Sweden.

There are of course transitional phases from one system to another. Jeremy Rifkin's projects moves in that direction with his notion of "distributed capitalism" based on emergent peer-to-peer technological models. He is explicitly developmental in his approach, showing the relationship of evolving consciousness with energy regimes and communication tech. He's working with the EU to implement his Third Industrial Revolution and they are making significant progress.

Another approach is from integrally-informed economist Christian Arnsperger. He wrote a guest post on called "integral economics" and has since started a website called "eco-transitions." We also have an IPS thread on this work. He also figures prominently in the "progressive economics" thread. A few of his quotes from the latter thread follow:

"It might—to take a hard and sensitive issue—show us that along certain lines of moral or psychodynamic development, Soviet Russia in the 1960s, or Cuba in the 1970s, was clearly superior to the United States of the 2000s in the sense that, for instance, Soviets and Cubans had developed a more communal attitude in some sectors of social life (though by no means in all…) and also that communist principles implied that basic social provisions, lodging, health care, etc., were to be provided freely to all citizens, regardless of their ability to purchase these things on markets—something the less evolved US mentality makes unthinkable.”

“Such [interior] work is an integral part of what economics is about, namely, to contribute to not only a positive description of how today’s capitalism works but also to a critical description of how tomorrow’s economy ought to work if it’s to be a support for the conscious evolution of all of us (or as many of us as possible) along all (or as many as possible) developmental lines….[a] theory or paradigm [that] respects the necessities of emancipation-fostering methodological pluralism…. This would imply an economics that’s constructively critical of material reductionism and of capitalist, growth-oriented and wage-employment-oriented, competition-driven markets.”
I'm with him that we need to create a new economic paradigm that not only provides a critique of capitalism but transitions beyond it, a paradigm more in line with integral principles.

"What holds capitalism in place? Merely its strength and bulldogs... or something more insidious? What is it that inhibits the development of post-capitalist psychology in individuals and groups?"

It is a complex question with complex answers. Recall Wilber saying the following in Excerpt A:  "It is not the consciousness of men that determines their reality but their economic-material realities that determine their consciousness" (34). He of course qualifies it but agrees that the economic system is an incredibly strong factor is shaping the consciousness of most of society's individuals. So one of the strongest reasons people support those who oppress them is because they have to make a living. Making minimum wage or not much beyond is better than starving to death. And the latter is not just a fanciful hypothetical but a daily reality for many Americans, not only the poor but increasingly the middle classes as well. It's hard to have an ideology when you're working overtime and/or a second job to make ends meet for your family.

Given the above, many of us do not have the time or energy to be educated about political issues and/or to get involved in that process. Which is of course the plan of capitalists, for they realize an uneducated, overworked, underpaid workforce with the apparent freedom to vote and much more easily manipulated with ads and political framing. Hence it is the ideology of those in power, generally those with the most money and want to keep it that way, that program us with scientifically proven linguistic techniques specifically designed to get us believe in something that is against our own self-interest, i.e., getting out of the cycle of poverty or slave wages. There has been a lot of research on framing and according to Lakoff the Republicans have been on to this for a long time and have manipulated public opinion to vote for policies that further enrich the already rich and further impoverish the the poor. And obviously they don't explain the reality of that process but lie in their political frames and spin the story that their agenda is all about opportunity and jobs and lifting the poor and middle classes. But it is well-designed lies that have been exposed time and again but the programming is so strong and insidious that those so programmed refuse to accept the cognitive dissonance of facing that they've not only been lied to but that the very things they think they support are what's holding them down.

Now of course integralites also buy into this false story that if you just try and work hard enough and are smart enough you too will succeed financially and become healthy, wealthy and wise. Thing is, most of us integralites have grown up in more upper middle class households and already started on third base, to use a well-worn metaphor. We don't realize that many others don't even start at home plate but never get the opportunity to even get into the game. I'm reminded on a few commercials on MSNBC, where kids that don't have enough to eat cannot learn well, so even though they're given the equal opportunity of an education it's not sufficient. Their parents are both working low-wage jobs and still don't have enough to buy adequate food to feed their families. Also lower-class schools have inadequate supplies or enough teachers, their budgets being slashed by Republicans lying about a shortage of funds yet unwilling to get those funds via reasonable taxes from those who can afford them. Again, part of the plan to keep lower and lower middle classes under- or uneducated to perpetuate the cycle of wealth flowing to the top. We privileged integraites never had to experience this so we unconsciously buy into the program and enable it thinking if we just educate leaders about integral ideas it will flow down to the masses, when in reality just gives leaders better tools to keep the lie going.

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