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Old December 11 2012, 08:13 PM   #21
Location: Kentucky
Re: Scientist declares “Earth is F**ked" --Discuss?!

newtype_alpha wrote: View Post
gturner wrote: View Post
Central and South America weren't capitalist (by our example), as they had a ruling class or ownership class which excluded the vast majority of people from membership. They're closest to French merchantilism under the old monarchy.
Technically that's an oligarchy, but even if you're correct I don't see mercantilism (or oligarchy) and capitalism as being mutually exclusive. One is sort of the evil cousin of the other, sort of like socialism and communism.
No, they are very, very different. Communism is a cousin to the oligarchical system, if not exactly the same thing. The self-annointed rulers get the perks and decide who is allowed to work, who is forced to work, and what work will be done, while the peasants stand in line for bread at empty bakeries.

Adam Smith started studying capitalism because England was getting rich (something that was historically unprecedented for them) and nobody could explain exactly what had changed, because it certainly had nothing to do with anything the nobility had done. What had happened is that they lost control of the populace, giving up on keeping them in their rightful place working the land and deciding to just go ahead and tax them. Some of the third world is now going through social changes that England went through in the 1600's. Much of the rest is still stuck reliving France in the 1600's, where to own a piece of land or start a business requires a team of well-connected lawyers, lots of bribes, and winning the favor of government ministers.

When American businessmen set up shop in such counties, they have the financial resources to do so, and just assume that that's "how business is done here." But if their product is going to compete with a firm controlled by a powerful local family, even that isn't enough to open up a market. The problem is that those countries aren't really capitalist. They aren't designed to support free-markets or competition, and aristocratic families are granted generations-long monopolies in things like the soap business, which is run as a fuedal fiefdom. They never face threats from free-market competition, only from other more well-connected families whose patronage might buy more favor with various ministers, or who might prove a more useful ally of those high-up.

Neither are they GUARANTEED in the West. The difference is we have an "investor class" that controls most of the money and has the incredibly odd ability to use that money to buy MORE money and increase their power without actually DOING anything. Remember, monopolies of various types are also common features in capitalism.
We are all the investor class. Most Americans own stock. Prior to that, what we invested in was our own land and business, and we've been doing that almost since we stepped off the boat. The freeing of ordinary people to take part in capitalist enterprises (as opposed to having a closed and tightly-guarded 'capitalist class') is what marks the transition from medieval European fuedal systems or socialist systems to our modern economy. Marx and Engels used to call America the "graveyard of communists" because every agent they sent here from Europe disappeared, to be found later running a shop or business. What they'd been rebelling against was the period's European system of closed shops and a system people were largely limited to doing whatever their father did.

And it had a fuckton of oil revenues to hand out. And even with the Baath party's unmitigated greed and the Jaba-the-Hut lifestyle of Saddam's family, they still refrained from imposing a centrally planned economy and allowed Iraq to be maintain an otherwise totally free market.
Um, no. They weren't all that far from Soviet communism and even controlled food distribution. A third of the population worked for the state. All the oil revenue was used as patronage almost everyone in government was corrupt, and nothing happened without approval from the local branches of the Ba'ath party. Trying to teach Iraqis how to conduct business after decades of state control drove our military coordinators nuts. The country was close kin to Libya and Syria, also socialist states.
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