Happy Mortal

This life, well-lived.

Capitalism vs. Capitalism

One Cent - 3 A few years ago, Americans would have chuckled about Chinese capitalism. They would have pointed to the instability of the Shanghai Stock Exchange as proof that communists don’t know how to run an economy. Who’s laughing now?

To be honest, I’m a little confounded that the (not so) free market of American capitalism has shot itself in the foot like it has. Then I rethink that confusion and realize that our capitalism is not so different from theirs, but that not so different has enormous ramifications.

Both China and America sport government control over the economy. Both countries manage their economy for profit (or, to be specific, they manage their economy by turning resource into capital). Both have great natural resources. Where’s the difference?

One is corporate, the other is corporate. Wait… What does that mean?

In China, corporate refers to the governing posture. Decisions are made with the many in mind. China has yet to change that definition like America did. In America, corporate does not even refer to people. It doesn’t refer to the many. Instead, corporate America refers to businesses not people. That is the irony of American business. Once something has become incorporated (literally within bodies), it ceases to be human.

The American business model has managed capital for the express purpose of protecting corporate America (not people).

In a way, China is beating us at our own game: capitalism. Staunch capitalists will say that capitalism is the only economy (actually, they tend to think of capitalism as a way of governing) that protects the human spirit. The sad truth is that American capitalism gave up on human beings a long time ago. In that sense, the current collapse of our economy is not the failing of American capitalism, it is it’s culmination.


  1. “The sad truth is that American capitalism gave up on human beings a long time ago.”

    If I wanted to mail American capitalism a letter what address would I put on the front? If I wanted to ask it a question, who would be its spokesperson? What does American capitalism really want? What is its favorite color? Did American capitalism put out a little too much on the first date with Chinese capitalism?

    The Big Other is so magical. It is nothing, but, boy, does it have personality.

  2. The big other is magical, by definition. It’s also nothing. And that’s kind of the point. We’ve outsourced ourselves, our belief, our will, and intellect to an effigy of burning ether. Capitalism is an idea; it’s an idea that has so permeated American culture that it’s hard to harbor any other belief. That’s why it was so terrifying in the cold war to see an other. There wasn’t supposed to be an other. There was only supposed to be us. Capitalist us. Capitalist US of A.

    When I say that American capitalism gave up on human beings a long time ago, I refer to the “giving up on the self” that is the inevitable shadow of the American Dream.

    American capitalism is an idea that we have tried to hold so absolutely–an idea that we (the generic, patriotic, fully outsourced, melting pot we) were forced to hold absolutely when confronted by the other of communism. Capitalism is an ideology that functions as a means to turn resource into capital.

    In our case, throughout the history of our country, capitalism has done this. But the goal is not capital for the sake of the people, it is capital for the sake of capital.

  3. Exactly.

    Though, I don’t know that I would chalk capitalism up to turning resource into capital. It’s not enough to turn lion cubs into circus animals. You then have to put on show after show, whipping them around the ring and putting your head in their mouths. You have to force them to breed. You need three generations of circus animals jumping through rings of fire. Then you call for a bailout when one of them bites off your head.

  4. Ha, what we thought was a tame beast…

    So, does this mean we finally agree on something?

  5. Free market capitalism died in the 1930’s in the US.
    Funny, back then they tried to blame the collapse on the ‘industrialists’, too.

    What we learn from history, is that people don’t learn from history! -Buffet

  6. Technically corporations are created to protect people. They have to pull the ‘personal’ out to protect the person. If I start an ice cream business that is incorporated then joe blow who decides that my ice cream frost bit his tongue can’t sue me for my house, car and savings. The inc. protects me. He can however sue my company.

    We live in a society of fear. I don’t think capitalism is over. I think maybe corporations are us trying to protect us from ourselves. Have we given up on us?