What is Capitalism and how can we Destroy it? |  Introduction



what is capitalism let's start by asking what does capitalism mean to you here are a few words that often come up profit banks exploitation markets greed wage labor class system supply and demand consumerism commodification these words point out some common features of the world we live in today so we're going to have a look at all of them and more there are some classic definitions of what capitalism is but could we sum it all up in one handy definition here are a few classics by famous writers dead and alive according to Karl Marx the capitalist system is a system of economic production which involves two basic classes of people quote on the one hand the owners of money means of production means of subsistence who are eager to increase the sum of value they possess by buying other people's labor power on the other hand free laborers the sellers of their own labor power and who own nothing else except their own labor power unquote according to max vibe a quote capitalism is identical with the pursuit of profit and forever renewed profit by means of continuous rational capitalistic enterprise marks and baby are probably the two most famous bearded dead white man thinkers on industrial capitalism of all time for a more recent definition here is one from Keith Hart a contemporary anthropologist who studies different forms of capitalism around the world quote that for of market economy in which the owners of large amounts of money or more generally wealth get to direct the most significant sectors of production they do so in the interest of adding to the amounts of wealth they have unquote all three definitions make important points parts definition helps point out the capitalism is a system of power in which power to direct the world comes from owning wealth and property Faber's definition focuses on how our world has become dominated by the ruthless pursuit of profit both hearts and vapors definitions are focused on the activities of a crucial group called capitalists also known as entrepreneurs businessmen and women or owners or managers of the means of production certainly there is no capitalism without capitalists but Marx's definition adds another crucial point here the capitalists are in the minority capitalist systems involve a number of different groups or classes often in struggle with each other however Marx's definition also has serious problems he thinks of just two basic groups capitalists and free paid workers what about the unfree labor of slaves indentured workers prisoners all of which also massively increased with capitalism or the billions of women and children doing unwaged domestic work through its history capitalism has involved many different kind of workers slaves peasants consumers unemployed and other dispossessed people can we group all these together as one class or is it only waged workers the classic Marxist proletariat who really matter another limit of all these definitions is that they focus on capitalism as an economic system but capitalism is more than that capitalism isn't just the economy it shapes every aspect of our lives all our ways of living and relating to each other from love to war even with our closest friends and loved ones and digs right into our deepest dreams and desires actually I think there is no one correct definition of capitalism and it's probably more accurate to think about capitalism in the plural over the last few hundred years there have been many capitalism's or forms of capitalism and sadly there will probably be more capitalism's to come historians debate where the capitalism began in Italy in the 15th century or the Netherlands in the 16th century or perhaps Britain in the 17th century all of these early capitalism's were different from capitalism today and capitalism today is different in London or Nairobi or Shanghai or in the South American rain forests or the Asian highlands and capitalism is not an all-powerful monolith capitalist systems coexist incorporate work with or fight against other systems cultures and forms of life for example with older feudal or tribal institutions or with movements to create different ways of living in whatever form it takes capitalism is not natural or eternal it is constantly changing being remade by human beings and by the bigger world around them the history of capitalism is a history of invention and creativity and of destruction exploitation domination followed shed and Terry and also of resistance and rebellion and struggles for freedom with all these provisos we can use the word capitalism as a shorthand for some key features of how the world is wrong today the aim of this series is to try and understand these basic features understanding them will help us think about how to destroy them and so help free ourselves to live differently to simplify things we are going to look at two aspects of capitalism in the first few episodes we will start rather than narrow and look at capitalism as an economic system this is the traditional province of economics here we will look at how capitalism works as a system for organizing the youths production and distribution of economic goods or commodities here are some key features of capitalistic economic systems market play a central role in making decisions property rights set out who can use and trade goods and so have economic power things animals and people are made into commodities objects that can be owned and traded the state acts as an enforcer of the economic system and helps it spread concentrations of wealth of capital channel power into the hands of capitalist elite the profit motive drives capitalists to continually expand markets in modern industrial capitalism profit very largely involves the exploitation of people who are forced to work but to understand capitalism we also need to look at how these economic structures are dug in deep in ways that affect every aspect of our lives for example capitalism as an economic system can't function unless many people learn often from childhood the rules of markets how to act as buyers and Salas to respect property to see animals the natural world or the people and even ourselves as objects to be bought and sold owned and managed to respect and fear the state its laws police Georgie's and teachers to accept gross inequalities of power and wealth to believe that accumulating stuff is the key to happiness to base our lives around work to highlight this point we could say that capitalism is not just an economic system but also and more deeply a culture or form of life that is a complex web of desires values norms conscious and unconscious rules practices behaviors attitudes that are shared and spread and social groups in which we are born raised and live our lives in later episodes we will look further at these crucial points




Comments
  1. Since I discovered you channel, I have really been loving these lectures, also the Nietzsche series and your discussion of abjection. Are you a teacher by profession? You are a natural.

  2. Why did you say 'white man' thinkers? I anything being implied here? I also noticed you have the feminist-anarchist flag as your profile picture.

  3. Good. I'll watch one of these a night. I will leave one thing. When I was in college, my Anthropology textbook was by Marvin Harris, and it had a definition for capitalism that I have found very useful over the years. I consider it a Weberian "ideal type". It's roughly, 'an economic system in which virtually all goods and services are brought into the market and can be bought and sold.' It has no morality. It could be good or bad morally speaking. In this system, humans can literally be sold (slavery). Sex could be prostitution. Hell, you could legitimately buy your friends. That's the way I think of it. It's not much different than these above definitions. Damn, I started writing this 3 minutes in. Now, he's saying the exact same thing. Lol, good stuff.

  4. A bit slow-paced, but I like how you've used your grown-up words to actually define and categorize words vs ideas and misconceptions of both. I look forward to watching the rest.

  5. Please feel free to comment here on the subject at hand. Please be civil and I will try to do the same. 😉

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