The Enlightened Capitalist
Clearly, the enlightened capitalist press wasn’t particularly keen on showcasing the power basis of accumulation. Scarcely had a day passed from the article’s publication that we got an angry email from an asset manager whom we’ll call ‘Mr. X’. Mr. X is an enlightened capitalist, and reading our piece had set him on fire. Small businesses are being looted and taken over by the government while shortages increase and inflation soars at over 60%. Are capitalists profiting from this crisis? No just corrupt politicians and businessmen that collude with state run enterprises all of whom would never survive in a capitalist economy. Mr. X’s emotional email reflects a broader capitalist anxiety. The leading capitalists and their investment organs are taking over larger and larger chunks of our natural resources, human-made artefacts and collective knowledge; they formulate and steer public policy to their own advantage; and they dominate ideology, education and the mass media. Second, the very power logic of accumulation – the need to strategically sabotage others in order to increase one’s own share of the total – forces capitalists to continue and dig their own graves, so to speak. Now, of course, most capitalists, particularly the smaller ones, are unaware of and certainly won’t admit these power underpinnings of capitalism. For politically correct capitalists with substantial money to invest, Mr. X’s fund offers a carefully hedged, two-pronged strategy: buying and holding do-good companies that profit from saving the planet while shorting firms that harm the environment and governments that misallocate the world’s resources. Now, once upon a time there existed a real, undistorted capitalist system as outlined above. So who are the real capitalists? If you haven’t guessed it by now, real capitalists are those who never accumulate. To be a real capitalist, you have to either lose money or break even with enough income to survive. To see real capitalists in action, you need go to their ‘impact investing’ gatherings, where they deliberate saving the world, capitalist style. The mandate of the ‘ethical fund manager’ is simple: leverage the world’s distortions and imperfections by selling short and buying long future variations of inequality, the ups and downs of expected hunger, anticipated ecological degradation and regeneration and other assorted disasters and triumphs – and do it all in such a way that we, your capitalist clients, end up beating the holy average. The problem is that, according to the enlightened capitalist, we don’t live in the best of all possible worlds, but in one of the worst. So in the end, the only way to beat the big unreal capitalists of the distorted world is to joint them.
On Anarchism, Noam Chomsky interviewed by Tom Lane
Though Chomsky has written a considerable amount about anarchism in the past three decades, people often ask him for a more tangible, detailed vision of social change. His political analysis never fails to instill outrage and anger with the way the world works, but many readers are left uncertain about what exactly Chomsky would do to change it. For Chomsky, those principles arise from the historical trend of thought and action known as anarchism. “In Latin America,” Chomsky says, “I talked about many of these topics, and far more important, learned about them from people who are actually doing things, a good deal of which had an anarchist flavor. Also had a chance to meet with lively and interesting groups of anarchists, from Buenos Aires to Belem at the mouth of the Amazon. But the discussions were much more focused and specific than I often see here; and rightly, I think.” As a brief introduction to some of his thoughts on anarchism, perhaps they may inspire the reader to pursue other writings on the subject, and more importantly, to develop the concept of anarchism through the process of working for a more free and democratic society. No one owns the term “Anarchism.” It is used for a wide range of different currents of thought and action, varying widely. In your opinion, what specific realization of anarchism is appropriate in this epoch? I tend to agree that anarchism is formless and utopian, though hardly more so than the inane doctrines of neoliberalism, Marxism-Leninism, and other ideologies that have appealed to the powerful and their intellectual servants over the years, for reasons that are all too easy to explain. Anarchism, in my view, is an expression of the idea that the burden of proof is always on those who argue that authority and domination are necessary. What sort of conception of human nature is anarchism predicated on? Would people have less incentive to work in an egalitarian society? Would an absence of government allow the strong to dominate the weak? Would democratic decision-making result in excessive conflict, indecision and “Mob rule”? As I understand the term “Anarchism,” it is based on the hope that core elements of human nature include sentiments of solidarity, mutual support, sympathy, concern for others, and so on. Anarchism is sometimes called libertarian socialism – How does it differ from other ideologies that are often associated with socialism, such as Leninism? Many “Anarcho-capitalists” claim that anarchism means the freedom to do what you want with your property and engage in free contract with others. Is capitalism in any way compatible with anarchism as you see it? What are the prospects for realizing anarchism in our society? What steps should we take?