Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Some thoughts about Capital

I am currently reading the autobiography of Fidel Castro, pub. 2005. Castro amazingly predicted a worldwide financial collapse based on the way the USA just kept printing up more and more money. Fidel keeps referring to the USA as the "empire." And regarding brutality, the hypocrisy of our nation taking the moral high ground while promoting terrorist attacks against Cuba for 55 years, is appalling. Castro's viewpoint, based on ethical values and honor, has really opened my eyes about who the terrorist really is, and what is Capital.

Castro says that capital is the product of your labor. In other words, capital is the food that farmers grow, and the land that produces food. Capital are the sweaters made in Irish villages, and embroideries made by Hmong grandmothers. Capital is what we produce by our labor, which is equal to wealth.  Does that make every knitter a capitalist? What is a Capitalist, anyway?
cap·i·tal·ist   [kap-i-tl-ist]
1. a person who has capital,  especially extensive capital,  invested in business enterprises.
2. an advocate of capitalism.
3. a very wealthy person.

So, I’m right.  #1 says anyone with capital.  So it would include a whole cottage industry of women that knit sweaters, right?  Is their stock if knitted sweaters, and their storehouses of yarn, and their sheep and their meadows, the means of production of all those sweaters, are all capital?  If so, then are those Irish village knitters capitalists? 
According to this dictionary meaning, the answer would be YES. 

Let’s see what the dictionary defines as capital. 
cap·i·tal     [kap-i-tl] Show IPA
4. the wealth, whether in money or property, owned or employed in business by an individual, firm, corporation, etc.
5. an accumulated stock of such wealth.

So number 4 requires that the cottage industry knitters must be in the business of making sweaters.  In other words, they intend to sell the sweaters, or use them as barter. 

The reason I am pondering these facets of meaning, is that we usually think of capital as something had by only rich people living in mansions. 

But the concept of capital being the products of my own labor personalizes it and gives me a sense of control of my own capital. 

Suddenly I see the classical capitalists as climbing on the backs of the workers who they depend upon to produce capital for the benefit of the few. 
I realize that no one can be truly poor if they can produce capital as the fruit of their own labor.  Even if you live in a rammed earth home with a flimsy thatch roof, if you can produce spinning tops or handspun fabric or woven baskets or rubber tire sandals, you have wealth and capital. 

So now, what is Capitalism?
Here’s the same online dictionary again:
cap·i·tal·ism   [kap-i-tl-iz-uhm] Show IPA
an economic system in which investment in and ownership of the means of production, distribution, and exchange of wealth is made and maintained chiefly by private individuals or corporations, especially as contrasted to cooperatively or state-owned means of wealth.
Origin: 1850–55; capital1  + -ism

Note:  public service and co-ops are excluded from this meaning of Capitalism even though state owned businesses and co-ops may produce capital commodities.  As such, then capitalism is dedicated to the greedy enrichment of the one at the expense of the many. 

The Capitalists hate the Communists, right?  Here is how our information is whitewashed.
As seen in this dictionary passage, the word “capitalism” originated in the mid 1850’s.  Please give credit where credit is due.  It was Karl Marx who coined the word in his book, The Communist Manifesto in 1848. 

Marx defined Capitalism as an economic system in which subjective moral value is separate from objective economic value. Subsequently, economics became divorced from ethics.  I’ve noticed that in many investor friends; it seems like perfectly moral and upstanding citizens of the community can invest in the most toxic and destructive industries and never have a flicker of a qualm about how they made their profits. 

So in Capitalism, the capitalist is the one who buys up all the land where the sheep graze, take ownership of the livestock, and provide wool for the knitters who work for a pittance to provide the capitalist with sweaters to export.  The capitalist figured out that he could get more money if he bought a million Irish sweaters, and sent them in a packing container to Boston, rather than selling them locally where the market was already saturated with home knitted sweaters. 

Before the capitalist arrived, all the village knitters labored together for the benefit of the whole village.  Once the capitalist takes possession of the means of production, knitters work for the capitalist and the capital wealth is transferred out of the village into the coffers of the capitalist.  Oh yeah, Ayn Rand; I bet it makes you HOT just to think about transferring all that wealth from the worthless peons who let it happen.  I think I’m starting to understand what Marx and Castro were talking about. 

Which begs the question of how did the capitalist wrest the means of production away from the villagers in the first place? 

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