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    So, Labour are going to reform the bonus culture in The City.

    Hello? Didn't they know what it was and the dangers beforehand?
    Didn't the Northern Rock fiasco show all what was happening with unpayable debt from the USA?

    Who pays for the loss of £billions to patch the damage? We the tax-payer and health and education services users.

    No more boom and bust?
    Many businesses have already gone bust, unemployment is rising fast . . .
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    Labour can't win - they're criticised when they impose restrictions on the forces of capitalism, then they're criticised for not doing it sooner when the crap hits the fan. It is capitalism (that's 'actually existing capitalism' for the libertarians) which needs to be the subject of critique.
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    (Original post by Oswy)
    Labour can't win - they're criticised when they impose restrictions on the forces of capitalism, then they're criticised for not doing it sooner when the crap hits the fan. It is capitalism (that's 'actually existing capitalism' for the libertarians) which needs to be the subject of critique.
    They are rightly criticised for not understanding Capitalism.
    It rewards individualism, which is an incentive for traders to understand the market and what's likely to happen.
    This will encourage insider dealing and masking of "toxic loans" from people who have more information.
    You hardly need an econometrics model to predict what checks and regulations there need to be in place, though aforesaid model will plag up unusual trading patterns just like they use on our credit cards.
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    (Original post by NJA)
    They are rightly criticised for not understanding Capitalism. It rewards individualism, which is an incentive for traders to understand the market and what's likely to happen. This will encourage insider dealing and masking of "toxic loans" from people who have more information. You hardly need an econometrics model to predict what checksa and regulations there need to be in place, though aforesaid model will plag up unusual trading patterns just like they uise on our credit cards.
    And I guess that George W. Bush's administration should also be criticised for not understanding capitalism?
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    (Original post by Oswy)
    And I guess that George W. Bush's administration should also be criticised for not understanding capitalism?
    Absolutely!
    Though really they (or rather the intelligent members of the administration) do understand, it's more that they have too many friends in the financial institutions.
    They would rather gamble and hope all goes well than stop them making a lot of ca$h for a short while.
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    (Original post by Oswy)
    Labour can't win - they're criticised when they impose restrictions on the forces of capitalism, then they're criticised for not doing it sooner when the crap hits the fan. It is capitalism (that's 'actually existing capitalism' for the libertarians) which needs to be the subject of critique.
    I entirely agree with you. Capitalism needs more trade liberalisation and privatisation and less state interventionism. Ideally, it needs to collapse again - like it did when the Berlin Wall came down.
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    (Original post by Oswy)
    Labour can't win - they're criticised when they impose restrictions on the forces of capitalism, then they're criticised for not doing it sooner when the crap hits the fan. It is capitalism (that's 'actually existing capitalism' for the libertarians) which needs to be the subject of critique.
    Ultimately, I don't think either particularly need critiquing. Labour will get a kick in the pants regardless of what it does these days, that's no problem really. But equally, to pretend that the current economic issue is any great problem is, to mind, ridiculous.

    Yes, it's a somewhat less cheerful time than we've been having of the last while: but nobody is starving, nobody is dying; the worst thing that could happen is that the nouveau bourgeoisie will have to shop at Tesco instead of Waitrose.

    To take this minor problem and call it a crisis seems to be well within the socialist habit. I recently visited the Solidarity ("Scotland's Socialist Movement"; Tommy Sheridan's new clothes) website to find this amusing introduction under the title of "market madness": "Banks in liquidation! The Nationalisation of major financial institutions! Mergers and takeovers! Capitalism in meltdown!"

    Somehow I think Capitalism will yet survive.
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    (Original post by Collingwood)
    I entirely agree with you. Capitalism needs more trade liberalisation and privatisation and less state interventionism. Ideally, it needs to collapse again - like it did when the Berlin Wall came down.
    Less state interventionism? Eh? It was deregulation that got us into this mess in the first place.

    IMHO, deregulating the banking process was like making rape legal in the hope that rapists would stop raping people. However, unlike rapists, bankers have millions of pounds of lobbying money >_>
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    (Original post by Gremlins)
    Less state interventionism? Eh? It was deregulation that got us into this mess in the first place.

    IMHO, deregulating the banking process was like making rape legal in the hope that rapists would stop raping people. However, unlike rapists, bankers have millions of pounds of lobbying money >_>
    We here, actually, have the twin ironies of deregulation and regulation at the same time. Greenspan keeps interest rates at 1%, actually below interest rates, creating an inflationary spiral. At the same time, deregulation actually meant looking the other way when fraud was occuring. The government let corporation make massive profits, while allowing for a complete reduction in liablity, as long as they kept the bubble going to keep people happy with easy debt and constante credit binging.
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    (Original post by Gremlins)
    Less state interventionism? Eh? It was deregulation that got us into this mess in the first place.

    IMHO, deregulating the banking process was like making rape legal in the hope that rapists would stop raping people. However, unlike rapists, bankers have millions of pounds of lobbying money >_>
    Are you suggesting that making rape legal would work?
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    (Original post by Gremlins)
    Less state interventionism? Eh? It was deregulation that got us into this mess in the first place.
    So you claim - I'd be interested to see this substantiated when the world's governments actively encouraged the banks' activities leading up to the crash.

    On the other hand, the anti-interventionist lot actually predicted the crisis years ago - http://mises.org/story/986

    IMHO, deregulating the banking process was like making rape legal in the hope that rapists would stop raping people. However, unlike rapists, bankers have millions of pounds of lobbying money >_>
    Absent interventionism, banking is just a contract, not an assault. Central banks, on the other hand, are machines for counterfeiting money, defrauding the public and transferring the balance to the rich.
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    (Original post by Collingwood)
    I entirely agree with you. Capitalism needs more trade liberalisation and privatisation and less state interventionism. Ideally, it needs to collapse again - like it did when the Berlin Wall came down.
    We at least agree, it seems, that it is capitalism which is the issue.

    Beyond that, it must be frustrating for right-libertarians such as yourself to see the response to capitalism's (at least apparent) failings being addressed through greater intervention, not less (echoes of the 1880s it seems). For those of us on the left, the current problems and consequent intervention is simply evidence that the increasing degree of freedom the markets had been given over the last decade or two was misplaced. Regardless of the merits of our respective positions, however, it is the voice of libertarianism which is now a little further away from actual political discourse as a consequence of what has happened.
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    As you seem to have brushed aside my sarcasm, I still really dont like this use of the word 'capitalism' to mean 'the status quo'. It is extremely misleading. For instance, the world was a very much more laissez faire place in Marx's day than it is now, so if we accept capitalism as meaning today's status quo, was Marx wrong to use this word to describe his own status quo as he had no way of knowing if it would be the same as the situation in September 2008 (and in fact has turned out not to)? Or is it a purely relative term, meaning any status quo - in which case, wont the future communist society Marxist historicists believe in be capitalism, too? I hate to bang on about what is, afterall, a point of semantics, but when people abuse words in this way they take the first steps on the road to making the entire language meaningless and any rational discussion of anything impossible.

    Anyway...

    (Original post by Oswy)
    For those of us on the left, the current problems and consequent intervention is simply evidence that the increasing degree of freedom the markets had been given over the last decade or two was misplaced.
    I dont think this follows, regardless of one's political stance. Fascism arose as a political force, but this clearly doesnt mean that anti-fascist views were therefore misplaced.

    As you have said you believe that intervention is the way forward, I would be very interested to hear you explain why without reference to historicism.

    Regardless of the merits of our respective positions, however, it is the voice of libertarianism which is now a little further away from actual political discourse as a consequence of what has happened.
    Arguably so, but I dont think there was much voice for libertarianism before. Given that the banking system is neither fully contract-based nor fully collectivist, political discourse could have gone either way - the way it went merely reflects the pre-existing prejudices of the people whose voices are influential on such matters.
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    (Original post by Collingwood)
    ...I still really dont like this use of the word 'capitalism' to mean 'the status quo'. It is extremely misleading. For instance, the world was a very much more laissez faire place in Marx's day than it is now, so if we accept capitalism as meaning today's status quo, was Marx wrong to use this word to describe his own status quo as he had no way of knowing if it would be the same as the situation in September 2008 (and in fact has turned out not to)? Or is it a purely relative term, meaning any status quo - in which case, wont the future communist society Marxist historicists believe in be capitalism, too? I hate to bang on about what is, afterall, a point of semantics, but when people abuse words in this way they take the first steps on the road to making the entire language meaningless and any rational discussion of anything impossible.
    My position is that 'capitalism' relates to the presence of commercial and industrial activity in which private parties use capital for their profitable ends. This isn't a particularly contentious characterisation, nor a particularly Marxist one. 'Capitalist society' is one where these processes constutute the dominating economic and social form in production (and consumption). I think it is absurd to suggest that capitalism operating under 'restraint' is no longer capitalism (private parties are still very able to pursue profit for their own ends, so it's still present). I also think that it's a little one-dimensional to think of capitalism and capitalists being universally opposed to state intervention. There may easily be many instances where some capitalists gain advantage over others through state intervention and who thus support it on an ad hoc basis. How can this be so? Because the capitalist is not, ultimately, for or against state intervention, but is only for whatever is profitable for them at any given moment in time in any given situation. While superficially we might expect the capitalist to oppose the state and its activities 'on principle' the reality of 'actually existing capitalism' is more complicated. You may believe that the 'good' capitalist is committed to free markets and fair contracts but I'd suggest this is a naive error. The 'good' capitalist is one who looks after his own profits in whatever way his capital can secure them and he has no actual loyalty to political philosophy, even though you might wish this to be the case. Capitalism is ultimately about making profit, not about making profit fairly or in a way that fits a particular philosophical criteria.
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    (Original post by Oswy)
    My position is that 'capitalism' relates to the presence of commercial and industrial activity in which private parties use capital for their profitable ends. This isn't a particularly contentious characterisation, nor a particularly Marxist one. 'Capitalist society' is one where these processes constutute the dominating economic and social form in production (and consumption). I think it is absurd to suggest that capitalism operating under 'restraint' is no longer capitalism (private parties are still very able to pursue profit for their own ends, so it's still present).
    Do you really? I would be interested to know why, because this is something that very distinguished scholars disagree with you on:

    ""Even much more recent warnings [about Socialism] which have proved dreadfully true have been almost entirely forgotten. It is not yet thirty years since Hilaire Belloc, in a book which explains more of what has happened since in Germany than most works written after the event, explained that `the effects of Socialist doctrine on Capitalist society is to produce a third thing different from either of its two begetters - to wit, the Servile State."" - Hayek

    for you to simply assert it without any pretence at substantiation is rather presumptious.

    I also think that it's a little one-dimensional to think of capitalism and capitalists being universally opposed to state intervention. There may easily be many instances where some capitalists gain advantage over others through state intervention and who thus support it on an ad hoc basis. How can this be so? Because the capitalist is not, ultimately, for or against state intervention, but is only for whatever is profitable for them at any given moment in time in any given situation. While superficially we might expect the capitalist to oppose the state and its activities 'on principle' the reality of 'actually existing capitalism' is more complicated. You may believe that the 'good' capitalist is committed to free markets and fair contracts but I'd suggest this is a naive error. The 'good' capitalist is one who looks after his own profits in whatever way his capital can secure them and he has no actual loyalty to political philosophy, even though you might wish this to be the case. Capitalism is ultimately about making profit, not about making profit fairly or in a way that fits a particular philosophical criteria.
    To refer back to your original definition: "'capitalism' relates to the presence of commercial and industrial activity in which private parties use capital for their profitable ends". There would seem to be a self-contradiction here, then, if you want to go on to claim that obtaining money by taxation, 'unfair contracts' etc. (ie. not 'their' capital, nor 'commercial') is capitalistic.

    On the issue of "capitalists" (which I take to mean "rich people" judging by the context) - libertarians entirely agree. Criticism of rent-seeking businessmen has been a long-running theme in most of the more well-known books espousing libertarianism.
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    (Original post by Collingwood)
    Do you really? I would be interested to know why, because this is something that very distinguished scholars disagree with you on:

    ""Even much more recent warnings [about Socialism] which have proved dreadfully true have been almost entirely forgotten. It is not yet thirty years since Hilaire Belloc, in a book which explains more of what has happened since in Germany than most works written after the event, explained that `the effects of Socialist doctrine on Capitalist society is to produce a third thing different from either of its two begetters - to wit, the Servile State."" - Hayek

    for you to simply assert it without any pretence at substantiation is rather presumptious.


    To refer back to your original definition: "'capitalism' relates to the presence of commercial and industrial activity in which private parties use capital for their profitable ends". There would seem to be a self-contradiction here, then, if you want to go on to claim that obtaining money by taxation, 'unfair contracts' etc. (ie. not 'their' capital, nor 'commercial') is capitalistic.

    On the issue of "capitalists" (which I take to mean "rich people" judging by the context) - libertarians entirely agree. Criticism of rent-seeking businessmen has been a long-running theme in most of the more well-known books espousing libertarianism.
    Not sure what you're arguing here, tbh. I stand by my reference to capitalism essentially being defined as the use of capital by private interests for their profit through commerce and industry. You've not offered a counter definition.
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    (Original post by Oswy)
    Not sure what you're arguing here, tbh. I stand by my reference to capitalism essentially being defined as the use of capital by private interests for their profit through commerce and industry. You've not offered a counter definition.
    As usual you just ignore everything and restate your initial position...

    To put it more simply, I don't necessarily disagree with that definition, but it shouldnt be difficult for you to realise why 40% taxation/GDP, extensive government control of banking and other industries &c. does not meet it.

    I disagree with your characterisation of any country you subjectively decide to be more than 50% 'capitalist' by your definition has a system that is not just 'more than 50% capitalist' - the maximum extent to which the evidence can support characterising that country as capitalistic - but your favourite phrase "actual existing capitalism". Rather, it is "actual existing more than 50% capitalism" - but then this doesnt do nearly so well at trying to claim without the need to provide substantiating evidence that capitalistic countries have state-fuelled credit expansions leading to cyclical recessions.

    For someone who often goes on about complexity and criticises opponents for "one-dimensional thinking" what you do is a rather wild generalisation, and one that you should realise necessarily distorts the facts.
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    (Original post by Collingwood)
    As usual you just ignore everything and restate your initial position...

    To put it more simply, I don't necessarily disagree with that definition, but it shouldnt be difficult for you to realise why 40% taxation/GDP, extensive government control of banking and other industries &c. does not meet it.

    I disagree with your characterisation of any country you subjectively decide to be more than 50% 'capitalist' by your definition has a system that is not just 'more than 50% capitalist' - the maximum extent to which the evidence can support characterising that country as capitalistic - but your favourite phrase "actual existing capitalism". Rather, it is "actual existing more than 50% capitalism" - but then this doesnt do nearly so well at trying to claim without the need to provide substantiating evidence that capitalistic countries have state-fuelled credit expansions leading to cyclical recessions.

    For someone who often goes on about complexity and criticises opponents for "one-dimensional thinking" what you do is a rather wild generalisation, and one that you should realise necessarily distorts the facts.
    I'm not ignoring your points, just being honest and saying I don't understand what you're arguing [shrug]. Still, you seem, eventually, to accept my definition of capitalism, one which, interestingly, does not depend on so-called 'free markets' (even if markets of some kind are a regular feature of capitalism). This is important because many right-wingers, especially right-libertarians, talk as if capitalism is defined by free markets. As for your most recent post? Most people, in my view rightly, believe that the global economy is essentially capitalistic and that capitalism is the dominant economic and social force in most countries of the world today. The nature of capitalism in this real-world context is reasonably understood as 'actually existing capitalism' whereupon, in actuality, it involves regulation, corporatism, monopolies, cartels, corruption and state intervention of varying kinds. Looking at capitalism historically these elements appear to emerge as capitalism emerges, they seem to be an inevitable dimension of how capitalism operates in the real world. It's all very well trying to argue that these are unwarranted and alien forces which corrupt capitalism but that's not an easy argument to sustain. The definiton of capitalism we've agreed on (at least I think we've agreed on) doesn't actually exclude the involvement of regulation, corporatism, monopolies, cartels, corruption or state intervention (e.g. capitalism which involves monopolies is still capitalism). Nor, on the historical evidence, do we see the operation of capitalism on any scale which does not directly or indirectly involve such forces.
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    The problem isn't the bust, the problem is the boom. But generally people are too high on the mania and start making excuses like how it's different this time, how it's a new paradigm, how it will last forever etc. etc. but it never is or does.
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    (Original post by Oswy)
    I'm not ignoring your points, just being honest and saying I don't understand what you're arguing [shrug]. Still, you seem, eventually, to accept my definition of capitalism, one which, interestingly, does not depend on so-called 'free markets' (even if markets of some kind are a regular feature of capitalism). This is important because many right-wingers, especially right-libertarians, talk as if capitalism is defined by free markets. As for your most recent post? Most people, in my view rightly, believe that the global economy is essentially capitalistic and that capitalism is the dominant economic and social force in most countries of the world today. The nature of capitalism in this real-world context is reasonably understood as 'actually existing capitalism' whereupon, in actuality, it involves regulation, corporatism, monopolies, cartels, corruption and state intervention of varying kinds. Looking at capitalism historically these elements appear to emerge as capitalism emerges, they seem to be an inevitable dimension of how capitalism operates in the real world. It's all very well trying to argue that these are unwarranted and alien forces which corrupt capitalism but that's not an easy argument to sustain. The definiton of capitalism we've agreed on (at least I think we've agreed on) doesn't actually exclude the involvement of regulation, corporatism, monopolies, cartels, corruption or state intervention (e.g. capitalism which involves monopolies is still capitalism). Nor, on the historical evidence, do we see the operation of capitalism on any scale which does not directly or indirectly involve such forces.
    I think that you guys are now just talking at cross purposes. You're attacking 'capitalism' - by which you mean the existing system of corporatism, intervention, state regulation, subsidization, intellectual 'property' rights, lobbying, 'free trade' agreements, the military-industrial complex etc etc. Collingwood is defending 'capitalism' - by which he means a system of free, voluntary and uncoerced trade. If you want to stick to your definition of capitalism as a historical phenomenon, as distinct from the theory that's fine, as long as you're aware that us libertarians oppose it about as strongly as you do. You could say that we're free market anti-capitalists.

    (Incidentally I'm sure you realize that in taking your definition as you do, you lose the right to say that the USSR and China were not 'really' communist states by the same logic.)
 
 
 
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