Monday, October 1, 2012

Capitalism Isn't a Failure, It's a Lie

I had jury duty today.  To pass the time waiting to be called by the judge, I decided to do a little light reading:  Karl Popper's The Open Society and Its Enemies, Vol. 1: The Spell of Plato.

I view everything that Popper has written as highly suspect due to his role as a founding father of neoliberalism.  My views of neoliberalism have morphed over time.  While I still abhor it, I no longer view it as a repudiation of classical liberalism and finally accept it for what Popper, Hayek, Friedman and Mises described it to be: the intellectual and moral successor to classical liberalism merely stripped of its communist fiction.  That is, neoliberalism is everything classical liberalism was designed to be without the alleged "flaw" of collectivism that gave rise to socialism, communism and fascism.

Neoliberalism, known in the US as "libertarianism," is not anti-State.  Indeed, Popper, Hayek, Friedman and Mises were all Statists, only their perfect state does not serve the collective, it only keeps the collective in check.  The purpose of the neoliberal State is to control the collective from which it draws its power so as to benefit the true elite.  The collective serves the neoliberal State, not the other way around.

So, I was pleasantly surprised when Popper rightly noted the Double Truth of Plato's Republic that arises from Plato's deliberate perversion of the word "justice" to mean something other than its common understanding.  Leaving aside the obvious anachronism of Popper's applying the modern day understanding of the word to a work written for the elite of Athens, who may have very well have understood the term exactly as Plato described it, it is remarkable that Popper felt comfortable in laying bear Plato's artifice, which has been duplicated in form by philosophers and theologians for millenia know.

Popper's discussion of Plato has forced me to question my assumption that-- like Friedman, Hayek and Mises-- Popper was a despicable man.  He may have had genuinely good intentions and not realized what he was creating in neoliberalism.

That being said, I note that Hayek did to "liberty" what Plato did to "justice," and yet I am unaware of Popper criticizing him for it.  On balance, I'm led to the conclusion that Popper's criticism of Plato was intended to deflect attention away from the fact that neoliberals were engaged in their own propaganda that relied upon using common words in an uncommon way to manufacture consent.  After all, the aim of Popper's book is not an end to Double Truth but an end to historicism, i.e., romanticizing the past as the ideal and justifying violence by one people against another.

Historicism, after all, is always and everywhere, the enemy of globalism.  The chosen people must rule, they cannot play on a level playing field with their inferiors.

Anyway, these thoughts ultimately led me to the thesis that is the title to this post: Capitalism Isn't a Failure, It's a Lie.

Elsewhere in the blogosphere today, a very earnest Mike Krieger accused Ben Bernanke of lying about Milton Friedman.  (NOTE: all Bernanke did was express an opinion, which may be wrong but cannot be a "lie" because it is not presented as a fact.)  Bernanke actually knew Friedman, and I tend to believe Bernanke's assessment over Krieger's or Anna Schwarz's, who Krieger relies upon to substantiate his argument that Bernanke lied.  The fact is that Krieger's reliance upon Friedman and Schwarz is misplaced because the seminal work they became known for was itself a subterfuge, a sleight of hand that played with numbers to make a fiction a fact.  Specifically, Friedman and Schwarz successfully used M1 data to argue that the Fed caused the Great Depression by not expanding the money supply.  However, what the Fed controlled was base money, i.e., M0, and M1 shrank during the "Great Contraction" even as M0 expanded.  If you think about it, Friedman and Schwarz lied to make a case for expanding the Fed's power to what it is today.

That still doesn't get us to the title of this post, though, does it?

I could not bring myself to respond to the substance of Krieger's post because I've done it too many times in too many places to too many unwitting neoliberals (who champion Hayek's vision of negative liberty without realizing it), but Krieger said something in comments that has been said many times by others:
How can the problem be capitalism when there is no captalism?
If you conclude that what we have today is not capitalism, the next question is when did we have capitalism? Most people, apparently including Krieger, assume a point in history where the ideal of capitalism as expressed in the literature was actually practiced.  However, if they were to actually investigate the reality of that historic era, they'd realize that "capitalism" then was the same as "capitalism" today.  "Capitalism" in reality has never looked much like the idealized capitalism that Krieger thinks he wants.

Okay, if true capitalism does not exist and has never existed, what is the basis for assuming that it will ever be allowed to exist?

What if the "capitalism" we have today is all the capitalism that the elite will allow us to have?  What if capitalism deliberately misdescribes reality to hide the truth from those far away from the machinery of power?  What if capitalism isn't a failure but a lie?

After much consideration, I've concluded that capitalism is indeed a lie.  Yes, it is a far more elaborate lie than what Plato did to "justice" and Hayek did to "liberty," but its nature and purpose is identical: control the masses by presenting fiction as fact.

Update 10/3/2012:  My October 1st comment to Krieger's post is still awaiting moderation.  In the comment, all I do is ask two simple questions.  Here is my comment in its entirety:
Have we ever had what you consider to be capitalism? If so, when was the last time we had it? Thanks.
I hope the wait means he is going to provide a lengthy post in response because I am really interested in what he has to say.