Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Beyond Capitalism

There are things in this world best not chosen by profit. I do not think the food that was most profitable for the food company is necessarily the best to eat. I would, instead, prefer the healthiest food I can afford. I do not believe that the care we should receive at a hospital is about the insurance cards (or credit cards) in a wallet. I believe we should all receive the same care. I do not feel that education will best benefit humanity if it is only shared with the richest. I feel education is a right we should all have access to.

Few people (in my personal discussions) argue these points. Education, representation, access to safe food and water; these are things in the western world we take for granted. But should we?

There are some things we may want done without a profit motive. Sometimes we easily agree that the right choice will simply cost more. As individuals we can make the choice to invest that little extra. But what about, as a society?

As a society we hold to ideals of profit and growth. They are inherent through our entire system. If something won't be profitable, it simply won't be done. If it won't make money, you won't find the resources to do it. This is where the problem is. Things, like education and health, have value beyond dollars. They pay back to all of society over time, but not in a neatly ammortizable and deterministic way.

My assertion is that we need to think beyond profit. We need to be able to account for the value of human-vitality and new-thoughts because we need to make choices that encourage a better future.

But for many people, the term "anti-capitalist" is heard as "communist". Communists and capitalists have had a century of war. Thus any doubt of capitalism, or the 'virtues' it instills, is a further attack in a long war. Indeed, any mention of "capitalism" seems to imply you are an outsider to it, and thus an immediate enemy.

This needs to change. We need to be able to use words meaningfully. If we want to discuss the future, then we have to discuss ideas beyond the present. We have to use words and phrases (like "beyond capitalism") to discuss what could come next. We need to be able to talk about ideas openly, without McCarthyism fears turning words to dust.

Something will follow today. The world of the future will be different from our world. Get over it. And then imagine what you might want that world to be.

The alternative is that other people will chose your future. Other people will see you as a source of profit for themselves, or a threat to their profits, and they will react accordingly. Shall we talk about a better future, one beyond profit motives? Or would you like to pretend that discussing capitalism makes me your enemy?


Bart said...

Interesting post. I'm wondering what could be 'beyond capitalism', but not communism.

About profit. I, for myself, would like to have at least some sort of profit for what I do. It may not always be in the form of money, but then it would be in the form of a good feeling, a special experience, or other non-concrete things. If I do something, or have to do something and it doesn't give me any of the above, so no profit at all, I really wouldn't want to do it. If there's no profit, why would I do it?
So, what do you mean, when you talk about 'a better future, one beyond profit motives'?

I Dive At Night said...

Bart, I've travelled the world and can tell you that regardless of socio-political-economic realities, people of all cultures fall in love, raise families and hope to grow old enough to spoil the grand kids. Things get done, even when dollars aren't being waved to get them done. Alas, I (and I think you) grew up in a culture that brainwashed me/us into thinking that money was the point. Not people, not love, not kids, but money.
When I say "profit motives" I am refering to a pure motive of money.
I am sure that we can find better reasons to do things. I don't need to fear you or fight you because the basics of life are not in short supply. However if you believe our culture, we should always be in competition. Anything you earn is something I didn't earn. And supposedly I'm supposed to fight you for it. But I'm not going to, because I think people are more important than things. I think people are more important than money.
Not one of us will get through life on our own. We need other people in order to survive and thrive. The question is, should I share with you, or compete with you? I think it's pretty clear which one is best.
Put another way, capitalism believes that the money should be controlled by individuals. Communism believes that money should be controlled by a strong state organisation.
Beyond capitalism, the value of actions should be based on the benefits of their outcomes and no one should need money.
But long before we get there, we have to loose the fear of talking about it.

So Bart, what did you think of the nutrtion articles? Can you understand where I say food isn't something that should be chosen for maximum profitability?

Bart said...

I think I have not read your articles on nutrition. Are they the ones of Feb 2010?

For what you write about food in this article, I agree that food that is most profitable for a food company is not necessarily the best food. But anyways, I don´t buy my food because it is the most profitable to a certain food company. I just buy the food I like to eat, whether or not it is most profitable for the company, that´s irrelevant to me. So I also choose the healthiest food that I like.

But I have the idea you mean something different here. Do you mean that food should just not be made (huge) profits on? In such a way that it becomes too expensive for poor people? And you´re also against speculators speculating on food prices going up and thus raising the price of food?
I would think that if food prices go up, it will be more profitable to be in the food business. More people in the food business will result in more food produced and thus more mouths fed.
So, in that respect I don´t think I agree with you. I think if food is chosen to be created for profitability it will lead to more food being created and thus less starving.

I Dive At Night said...

Bart, the world does not lack for food. We produce enough now to feed everyone, however our current systems and techniques are not sustainable. Each year there is less farmland and more desert.
Earlier I wrote a draft blog post that I hadn't published yet. To help answer your comment I've finished and published it.
Earlier articles on food and nutrition describe my own experiences curing chronic illnesses. I've gotten rid of allergies, asthma, and arthritis and I believe it is due entirely to food.