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THE Capitalism Thread Pt. 4

Discussions about the economic and financial ramifications of PEAK OIL

Re: THE Capitalism Thread Pt. 4

Unread postby ralfy » Sat 09 Dec 2017, 22:18:34

vtsnowedin wrote:Quite the opposite. With 330 million people and vast natural resources the American economy can do quite well by itself and capitalism would be the engine that provides plenty for everyone not just subsistence.
But of course the experiment will never happen as we crave our coffee imported from Brazil and our cocaine from Columbia.


So, it's not quite the opposite. LOL.
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Re: THE Capitalism Thread Pt. 4

Unread postby ralfy » Sat 09 Dec 2017, 22:23:05

Tanada wrote:
That is demonstrably false. People on this thread constantly conflate Conspicuous Consumerism with Capitalism. They are not and never have been the same thing.

Capitalism is at its root simple and basic commerce. You do not need growth to exchange goods and services with your fellow humans, you just need to want to exchange and be willing to negotiate the means of exchange. Cash makes it easier than barter, but either system is simple Capitalism. What most of the hateful rhetoric is directed at is conspicuous consumerism, trying to keep up with the Jonse's instead of stopping when you have enough. If your iPhone 7 works well why do you need an 8 or 9 or 10? Just because Billy down at work got one? What kind of a messed up belief system is that, based solely on envy what your fellow man has instead of what you actually need?

Even conspicuous consumerism can work in a world of stable resources instead of growth, but to do that requires that someone else has less for you to have more. People tend to frown on that unless they are in the getting more at others expense portion, and the more they get the more people have to be on the losing end to balance things.

So in a growing economy everyone can get more at the same time and in a stable resource economy some can get more at the expense of those who lose. Unfortunately Marx and Engles did not understand the distinction and for 150 years their readers have been convinced that even in a growing economy the poor have to get poorer for the middle and upper class to grow wealthier.

The great boon of fossil fuels was that everything could grow at once, the poor in North America are vastly wealthier than the wealthiest Monarchy of the last thousand years before fossil fuels.

Growth on a finite world has finite limits. Once those limits are reached if conspicuous consumerism continues than the equation will once again balance by taking from the powerless to give to the powerful. That was reality before fossil fuel powered growth and will be the reality in the future, but it is not the reality today while energy remains abundant.


The two work hand-in-hand because the capitalist system referred to is free market capitalism. That involves competition, which means the drive for profit maximization. That in turn requires not only ever-increasing consumer markets but increasing consumption per capita. Hence, a growing global middle class:

The rise of the global middle class

which is not sustainable due to limits to growth:

Limits to Growth was right. New research shows we're nearing collapse

of which peak oil is part.
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