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Posts tagged ‘capitalism’

The Free Market Will Not Make You Free

One of the most compelling arguments that William Clare Roberts makes in his new book, Marx’s Inferno: A Political Theory of Capital, is that the market dominates not only workers but commodity producers.  Rejecting the moralism of socialism, which suggests that capitalists just need to be kinder and gentler, Marx argues that the subjects of capitalism are not individuals who could make more ethical decisions, but the relations of production.  It is because capitalism is unable to render individuals free that capitalism dominates everyone under its purview.   Read more

(How) Does capitalism incentivize? Part II

Cross-posted from The Prindle Post.

My last post discussed the bifurcated incentivization structure of capitalism: owners profit while workers become disempowered by working harder.  In this post, I want to address an accompanying myth to the myth that capitalism compensates you better for working harder which is that collective ownership divests individuals of motivation to work.

People say that the problem with collective ownership in producing an incentive to work is that no one takes responsibility.  If you don’t own it, you won’t care to maintain it.  But the incentive in capitalism isn’t that you work on a thing because you own it, you work because otherwise, you will starve.  The ideology here is that we are working on our own thing and that we have more investment because it is ours.  This is the case in capitalism for the self-employed and small business owners–the middle class–but the middle class has shrunk considerably. A 2011 Pew Charitable Trust study shows that a third of those raised in the middle class (earning between 30 and 70% of their state’s average income) fall out of it in adulthood.  A recent article on The Washington Post on the cost of college shows that it isn’t college costs that have risen but the purchasing power of the middle class that has shrunk. Read more

(How) Does Capitalism Incentivize? Part I

Cross-posted from The Prindle Post.  

In my youth my parents would defend capitalism by saying that it incentivized work in contrast to communism.  If you thought you could get paid the same amount whether you worked hard or not, you would see no reason to work hard or better.  It isn’t just my parents.  A recent This American Life podcast, “Same Bed, Different Dreams (transcript),” includes a recording smuggled out of North Korea in the early 1980s of Kim Jong-Il saying that North Korean filmmakers have no incentive to make creative and interesting work because of communism.  How did everyone from one of the last communist dictators to my parents come to believe that capitalism incentivizes hard work, creative and inventive work, while communism does not? Read more

The Prindle Post

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