Updated: Dec 18, 2019
Whenever there’s a buzzing new social panic (now it’s “not ENOUGH sex” . . . ) conservatives blame “liberals” by which they mean leftists and socialists. (Of course sometimes they blame “leftists and socialists” when they really mean liberals.) And no matter the social problem, we liberals, leftists, and socialists blame capitalism - or the excess of it.
But the term “capitalism”, as used in general discourse, is a vaguely looming label draped over a dynamic complex of relationships, institutions, technologies, conditions, laws, and beliefs.
No wonder we’re so often befuddled and overwhelmed!
It’s only somewhat clarifying to focus on the core elements of capitalism. These center around the ability of a tiny few to make inordinate profits from wage labor by the rest of us. But, as obnoxious as that may sound, capitalism with wage labor is indisputably an improvement over slavery and has allowed for an infinity of progress and freedom compared to other forms of domination.
Meaningful human relationships which promote productive creativity ought to be what we are striving for, but we have so little claim to understanding the actual forces driving us whether they are dynamics of our cultural political economy or somehow intrinsic to our biological existence.