[lbo-talk] A Crisis of Neo-liberalism or a Crisis of Captialism?" by Christopher Carrico

Wojtek S wsoko52 at gmail.com
Tue Dec 13 08:21:55 PST 2011

[WS:] Do not try logic, it does not work. A belief in the Idea is a form of religion and it it immune form empirical falsification. This is not a personal attack on Carroll and many many others who believe that Capitalism is a coherent system driven by its internal logic. Such a belief is a certain cognitive framework that seems quite popular. In different place it takes the form of neo-classical economic theory, and in different time it took the form of scholasticism or Platonic idealism. You cannot refute Platonism with facts because in this approach facts are considered irrelevant when they contradict ideas.

I have aesthetic aversion to this kind of thinking, so my reactions to its manifestations are driven by aesthetic preferences rather than personal animosities. Philosophically, I am a nominalist - I tend to believe that all abstractions, let alone "systems" are social constructs manufactured for a particular purpose. There is no reality in them, just "make believe." These purposes may be different, ranging from heuristic devices used to analyze complex things, to obfuscations used to cover something up, and to legitimation or delegitimation of particular states of affairs. Talking about "logic of capitalism causing social inequalities or other empirical phenomena" belongs to the same cognitive category as talking about "logic of masculinity and femininity causing superiority of men over women" or the "will of gods bringing calamities to the earth" - which is hogwash that does not need refutation, at least here.

As I see it, most people do not give a flying fuck about 'systemic logic" of any kind in their everyday behavior, let alone act to implement it. They are opportunists muddling through by using whatever is most convenient at any given moment, sometimes aping others, sometimes going along with them, sometimes screwing them, and sometimes engaging in pissing contests with others to show that they "have balls" or bigger dicks, and then providing ex post facto justifications of their behavior with lofty sounding bullshit aka "ideologies" "religions" "codes of honor" or other bigger-than-life systems of ideas.

The rich screw the poor because they can, and maybe to show that they have bigger dicks than most people, not because god or the "logic of capitalism" told them so. Far form being a necessary outcome of some "systemic logic" the set of empirically observable social phenomena labeled as "Neoliberalism" is nothing more than opportunistic behavior of a few lucky pricks who found themselves in a position of being able to take advantage of new opportunities emerging from better communication or transportation technologies or shifting geopolitical balances, and getting in cahoots with politicians and government officials to milk the public coffers and get the regulators look the other way. In essence, business as usual for the past few thousand years - only toys and names change.

It is closer to collusion and conspiracy than to systemic idealism a la Leibniz, Hegel or even Marx. Criminology can do much better job explaining this behavior than economics or philosophy.


On Mon, Dec 12, 2011 at 9:39 PM, Fernando Cassia <fcassia at gmail.com> wrote:
> On Mon, Dec 12, 2011 at 19:09, Mike Hess <mhess126 at gmail.com> wrote:
>> This is the problem with the reformist approach: you can make
>> meaningful change that improves the living standards of the working
>> class', but you don't get to keep it.
> not even in the Nordic countries?
> FC
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