Thursday, May 7, 2015

Does capitalism level the playing field?

marx and Engels thought the capitalist system was bound to, definitely wouldfail. They also specified how it would do so. So, it was bound to fail, and is would, and it was to happen in a certain way. Their theories have not been supported by the history of the world up until now, and I am not the first writer to point this out. In other words, it has not happened, or not in the way that marx and Engels predicted it would, which does not mean it will still not happen. What such a catastrophic failure would look like is another matter. In any case, if it fails, the reality or real explanation for that one will ultimately have to be a bit different from marx and Engels, who, while they adhered strongly to certain explanations, it has been shown by fair Madame History that this must be somewhat wrong… After all, capitalism is still here.  And... what is the explanation?

     Now let me throw you a curve: How are we to understand the miracle of capitalism? We don't have to understand it negatively; we could also have a positive understanding. We should understand what is at the basis or what holds it up. If we fail to understand anything about what is at the basis, we won't be able to understand it. An understanding of the basis, which we could also call a "positive" understanding (of the miracle) is just what we need to know. Otherwise, we shall be back in the position of not understanding at all. We may not understand the whole thing or entire basis, since capitalism is difficult to explain in general. And there are alternate explanations, in any case. But I will suggest that not understanding at all is to be greatly feared. That is not desirable.

     The basis for the existence of large-scale capitalism, in a societal setting, is, I will suggest, difference. We know about, for example, all the different products. We know that you find a variety of different, competing products. There is also a difference in the actors, differences that exist amongst actorswhat are called the economic actors, or agents, or "players." For example, broad classifications of rich and poor, also owners and workers. Whether these distinctions are actually sustained over a long time is just the issue. These persons who are different from one another differ either individually or in groups (i.e. group A and group B). As time goes by, we witness the illusion of a leveling of the playing field. But why say "illusion"? Well, I am pointing out the apparent leveling, and saying that perhaps there is an apparent leveling only. There seems to be a certain leveling of differences, and this comes with regard to capitalistic society. Regarding it as apparent, not real, allows us to remain open-minded about it. At the same time that we investigate this tendency in the direction of reducing difference, we do not have to automatically accept its reality. We are simply trying to retain our skepticism, which may turn out to be helpful.
     With that in mind we can offer the observation that average citizens at some point do seem to realize what they had not fully realized heretofore, which is that they too can enter the field of market play. This had been true for a long time before, but not every member of the public comprehended it. The United States of America is based on freedom. It is, almost from the beginning, engaged in a fundamental process: it gives the citizens more freedom. (You can say "The People" if that feels better to you!) In practice this really translates into freedom to work where one pleases, and other economic sorts of things. You may go into whatever career or job you want, or one may start one's own business, should you want to---and have the energy.
     But this apparent leveling of the playing field does not mean the playing field is level, and, more so, much more so, it certainly could not mean that capitalism has proceeded, historically, in this way. Thus, the basis is both the basis of a level playing field and, at the same time, not. There room for an open discussion of this "level playing field principle." So, here, we return to our 'basis' idea, for we stated just the opposite.

     To frame the situation as it is today, I would like to point out that there is an element in capitalism of the ambiguous. There is a level on which persons are newly seeing the way that capitalism can (alternatively: that capitalism apparently can) dissolve differences. It may seem to be every day  the case that more and more all you need to do is be the proverbial “nice guy.” They get the proverbial, much-ballyhooed “good life.” That may be so, and certainly that is what “they” want you to believe. But all the same: coexisting with that “fact,” that one is free to participate in the glorious capitalistic life, one is free to listen to what I am telling you and understand also just the opposite “fact,” which is a precise idea that capitalism occurs only when the actors are different. How can both things be true? They can, if capitalism proceeds on a basis of (not only difference, but) ambiguity.

No comments:

Post a Comment