The Etherealization of Capitalism
Since the aristocratic sovereigns were always in debt, it occurred to the practical middle class Dutch to institutionalize debt and make it the ground of the new economy of stocks and bonds. In institutionalizing debt, and expanding the volume of economic transactions, the Bank of Amsterdam became rich and then became the model for the new national Bank of England in the Anglo-Dutch culture of the Glorious Revolution of 1688. With the Industrial Revolution and its growth of the world economy by orders of magnitude, the demand for currency might have stumbled along with seventeenth century habits and concepts of slavery and sexism, but along with the New World came new expanding economies of addiction-of sugar, rum, tobacco, coffee, and tea. Cornering the market took on a new meaning as information and speed in manipulating “The difference that makes a difference” became the foundation for the generation of wealth in algorithmic trading. Catastrophe trading is a new world that no one now understands; as the early maps of the new world warned when the explorer approached the edge of knowledge: “Here be dragons.” In human culture we are reaching criticality when the Earth will flash with a new economy and a new planetary culture. Nature never throws anything away, but acts like a bricoleur junk artist, using old industrial objects to make new artistic architectures. Such a shift from prokaryotic to eukaryotic cells also came with an integration of the little in the large by matching the acceleration of time in sexual reproduction with an incredibly conservative preservation of mitochondria with their ancient DNA inside the new membrane. In the shift from economics to ecology as the governing science of a new planetary culture, we will also experience another transformation of values. So in the not too distant future the shift from an industrial growth mentality of accumulation in an economy to an ecology of symbiosis will enhance the value of consciousness, a consciousness not just of humans, but of the bacteria in our guts, the whales in the sea, and the clouds-thermodynamic and electronic-on our new horizon. The noetic polity will probably be something like a hybrid crossing of what I called the “Meta-industrial village” in my 1977 book, Darkness and Scattered Light, a university town and a religious order-something more along the lines of Herman Hesse’s Castalia than Wall Street’s idea of New York. Manufacture will through the power of nanotechnologies be scaled down as nature is scaled up with the use and further development of John Todd’s “Living machines,” and Sim Van der Ryn’s and William McDonough’s new symbiotic architecture.
Working for a free and prosperous world
Mr. Dykes is a businessman, free-lance writer and enthusiastic advocate of the free market. Capitalism is, so we are told, “Intrinsically immoral.” “Soul dead, stomach well alive,” was Thomas Carlyle’s estimate of the market system, and all the cultured despisers of commercial civilization are in hearty agreement. “The economic system called capitalism is a system of relationships. It is a composition of markets, and markets are by definition systems of relationships, not purposive bodies. It follows that we can apply the tests of morality to capitalism only by considering the behavior of individuals who operate within it, not as a system capable in itself of being moral or immoral.” “The market,” as John Davenport correctly observes, “Is not an end in itself, but the means to higher ends.” The market is merely an element in a society which transcends and extends far beyond it. From the days of Adam Smith, advocates of the free market have argued that market processes have a strong tendency to equate public benefits and private profits. There is, in a free market, a harmony of interests between the public and the private. Does this imply that the free market, in some way, nurtures or reinforces unjust rather than just behavior? Not at all. The free market economy is the most productive form of economic organization just because it is most consistent with eternal moral principles. He wrote: “One of the most dangerous errors of our time is to believe that economic freedom and the society which is based upon it are hardly compatible with the moral stan dards of a strictly Christian attitude.” In Roepke’s view, “The very opposite of this popular belief is true: the strongest reasons to defend economic freedom and the market economy are precisely of a moral character. It is economic freedom and the market economy which the moral standards of Christianity require, not the opposite economic system. At the same time we have to say with equal force that economic freedom and the market economy re quire these moral standards. One conditions the other.” While keeping in mind that the market economy is only a part or aspect of society, we do contend that capitalism is more than just an economic system of voluntary relationships. Specifically, it is an economic system based on the right of private ownership of property and a free market for goods and services, consistent with the second table of the moral law. The whole idea of a free market implies that the parties to this voluntary exchange will not deceive each other.