Home Forum Political Economy Capital as Power: A New Theory of Capitalism

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    • #248066
      Pieter de Beer
      • Topics started: 5
      • Total posts: 31

      i spoke to DenimGod after the  interview was released, specifically about this wierd thing he brought up at the end about CasP offering a form of Economic Vanguardism. Several people in a discord server were very perplexed by this framing. Here is DenimGod’s response:

      “Hey everybody, thanks for listening!

      For some context on “economic vanguardism,” 1Dime is largely an orthodox Marxist and Marxist-Leninist (ML) platform (with some MMT perspectives), and I was trying to angle my comments towards ML listeners. For context, a lot of super-online MLs have an annoying streak of calling effective anarchist organization “vanguardism” because they think that to organize at all is to create a form of vanguard, and they want to make it seem like really existing anarchism is just uninformed Leninism and therefore Anarchism as an ideology is ineffective in the real world and is just childish individualism and blah blah blah. I’ve been accused of being an “anarcho-Leninist” by MLs for that reason – I describe an effective democratic dual power structure and they call it a vanguard because they don’t understand how organizations can exist without being imposed on people. When I said CasP leads anarchists to a form of economic vanguardism, I said that directing my comments to MLs, with the meaning that CasP gives people a new way of organizing more effective dual power structures, which MLs erroneously label as vanguardism. A lot of the nuance of my point is lost to editing unfortunately.

      Anarchist listeners hear “economic vanguardism” and think that I’m advocating for anarchists to unilaterally seize resources and attempt to enforce a party line, but that’s not what I mean, I’m using the term to respond to MLs who call me an anarcho-leninist because I like Rojava. I was also reluctant to even say the straw-man because of the potential for misinterpretations like this, but I didn’t know what other words to use to address the point.

      In terms of what concrete strategy I am advocating for, my interpretation of CasP is it implies organizing an alternative reciprocating economic machine outside of capitalism to provide for peoples’ needs without using currency, which will reduce the expected future revenues and capitalizations of corporations.”

      • #248068
        Jonathan Nitzan
        • Topics started: 40
        • Total posts: 222

        Thank you for posting DenimGod’s response.

        In terms of what concrete strategy I am advocating for, my interpretation of CasP is it implies organizing an alternative reciprocating economic machine outside of capitalism to provide for peoples’ needs without using currency, which will reduce the expected future revenues and capitalizations of corporations.”

        There are endless ways of ‘contesting’ capitalism through alternative forms of autonomous cooperation. The trouble with these forms of cooperation is that they do little or nothing to undermine capitalism and therefore end up being defeated or swallowed by it.

        In our ‘Theory and Praxis, Theory and Practice, Practical Theory‘, we suggested a cooperative alternative, that, if successful, could undermine capitalism by starving the financial market. In principle, this end can be achieved by democratically managed housing and pensions, creating the beginning of autonomous society while siphoning liquidity away from the stock and bond markets. The challenge is to make this thing happen on a large enough scale.

    • #248070
      Pieter de Beer
      • Topics started: 5
      • Total posts: 31

      Instead of posting in a new thread, I wanted to simply continue here with the praxis concept

      In line with the Decapitalization concept I am hoping to get some feedback on an idea.

      The crowdfunding bank, or knab (a reverse bank), is a proposed system that can facilitate several of a community’s services as well as interaction with the outside world. Its primary goal is to take in deposits, perhaps supplemented by an initial, third-party bank or credit union loan, in order to eliminate recurring payments for its members. It does so using strategic funding and purchasing to turn rents or recurring costs, into smaller, one-time costs, known as sunk costs. The process is called decapitalization.

      The knab’s primary goal is to reverse this process, by identifying expected future needs that will be capitalized, and discounting the present value of potential ways to self-provision for those needs, denying capitalists’ claims on earnings from fulfilling them.

      Process
      The most basic mechanism of the knab works like so:

      • The knab receives a request or takes the initiative to identify a recurring cost that could be sunk through the funding of community organizations or the purchase of (re)productive property (e.g. buying a renewable generator to sink the cost of electricity).
      • The knab negotiates a contract with affected parties in which they will agree to continue paying the rent until the loan is repaid.
      • The knab proceeds with the funding/purchase, and the repayment period begins.
      • The parties may refund the knab the income saved to increase its purchasing power.

      Billpay Model
      A knab in a community in which capitalist power is strong can work by structuring itself as a billpay system. Community members would join the knab and agree to pay their bills through its system. By staggering the payment into the knab and the payment of the bills, the knab can use its temporarily-held funds to transparently decapitalize its members.

      With this model, a knab can also grow organically out of a bulk purchasing model (for fulfilling community resource network needs). At first, fulfilling demand for basic services can be done more cheaply using bulk purchasing of the service. The savings from doing this can be used for sunk cost funding.

      Another advantage of this model is the possibility of adding an insurance service. By having members pay a small additional fee, they can insure themselves and the other members against foreclosure or being cut off from services due to an inability to pay. This could be a powerful supplement to existing foreclosure activism.

      Local Banking Model
      A knab which exists in a community in which anti-capitalist market values are strong could issue a local, deflationary currency in order to facilitate local commerce. This would allow the knab to issue loans of unearned money and to exchange much or all of the local legal tender for the new local currency. By holding the community’s legal tender in trust, the community can use alternative currency for internal activities, and legal tender for external activities.

      Another possible scheme which would combine bulk purchasing and issuance of local currency would be to take legal tender for purchases through the knab and return a share of the local currency. The small network of people that use the currency significantly reduces the chances of capitalization, especially if the community members are wary of it.

      Property Ownership and Decisions
      Funding, once given to the knab, should be considered repayable until spent by the knab. Property bought by the knab should be held in a community commons trust and rights to it distributed through loanership. How much each person contributed should not influence the decision of how the funds are used. That should be done on the basis of decapitalization and sustainability. Considerations based on contribution will preserve irrational hierarchies that the communities are looking to eliminate. Decisions should be made democratically or empirically, with aim of the community regaining power over themselves and the ability to self-provision.

      Data Collection and Use
      A knab is possible and desirable in the early stages of a community prefiguration. It is in a good position to collect data for a dynamic resource management system. In a flow network model, the knab’s job is to abstract demand for products or services and fund an effort or purchase

      • #248079
        Summer Soldier
        • Topics started: 0
        • Total posts: 1

        I just came across this from The Case for Community Wealth Building: “… commons management systems can provide an expanding zone of decommodification to buffer against the market.”

        So I wonder what is significantly novel in the idea of knabs that is not present in existing cooperatives (or Community Wealth Building projects) like Cleveland’s Evergreen or the Preston Model. I don’t think an emphasis on removing recurring costs is particularly significant.

        As a further aside I always feel it highly paradoxical that there seem to be so many alternatives-to-capitalism abound (eg “credit unions bigger than Goldman Sach in aggregate”, the mentioned examples, or “1,600 ongoing remunicipalization”, all mentioned in the book), yet they all manage to stay (to me; I could be wrong) marginal in terms of power, with only a vague promise of movement growth to be optimistic about. It does seem like some praxis theory is indeed missing.

        One thing that has been circulating my mind is imaging what to do if everyone at Apple is a CasP-ist, or concrete steps to take so that CasP-ists obtain the socio-economic leverage comparable to Apple in regard with the outside.

        • #248080
          Pieter de Beer
          • Topics started: 5
          • Total posts: 31

          thank you for the response.

          I have not, and would not claim any uniqueness for the idea of a knab. I have not read the book you quoted from, though it will certainly be added to my reading list now. (I assume it is The Case for Community Wealth Building by Joe Guinan and Martin O’Neill ?)

          the only thing i can suggest that might be unique to my knab idea, though i would need to do the requisite reading to confirm or refute this idea of uniqueness, is that it is not a general concept that is simply open to all and sundry. Rather it is a specific institution, created by a specific community, to see to the specific needs of the community that creates it. It might be applicable and replicable in other communities, but a single knab would serve only the community that creates it, and would not seek to scale up beyond that community.

          As stated, I am looking for feedback on the idea, so your input is valued. Thank you again

    • #248077
      Rowan Pryor
      • Topics started: 6
      • Total posts: 47

      I think (very strongly now) that capitalism will be destroyed when and because it destroys the biosphere and the people. The physical feed-back will destroy capitalism. I include biological feed-back under “physical”. This is the same as saying capitalism has an exogenous contradiction with the natural world. Capitalism also has internal contradictions continually, of course, but it has always proven capable of overcoming internal contradictions by looting and destroying more of the biosphere and exploiting new populations. Climate change, the sixth mass extinction and exceeding other planetary boundaries are now among our main dangers. We are now well into overshoot. We are like someone living on their capital and depleting it rapidly. I am talking of  natural capital of course. All of this is known scientifically. None of it is original. I am saying nothing original. All of us here who do not subscribe to the religion of capitalist cornucopianism and who follow the science understand this.

      The novel zoonosis pandemic caused by SARS-Cov-2, which I find CasP theoreticians strangely unexercised about, is really the latest phenomenon of destructive capitalism. Not fully sustainable any more by merely plundering and destroying nature, capitalism perforce turns to catabolically mining people, not just for their labour with ill health and deaths from industrial diseases as side effects, but directly mining their health for profit and in the process spreading more disease. Capitalism everywhere mines order and turns it into (net) disorder. When there is not enough order left in nature for all manifestations of the profit drive, the order or complexity built up in large human populations must itself be mined for profit and leave disease disorders and death in its wake. If it is unfair to say CasP theoreticians are strangely unexercised by the COVID-19 pandemic I am open to correction on that point.

      It is not an accident that the COVID-19 pandemic has minted new billionaires at a record rate.

      “Covid-19 hasn’t stopped the spread of billionaires, who multiplied at an astounding rate over the past year. A record 493 people joined Forbes’ World’s Billionaires list this year—meaning the world on average gained a new billionaire every 17 hours since Forbes last took a snapshot of billionaire wealth on March 18, 2020. The previous record for most new billionaires in a year was 290 in 2015.” – Forbes.

      There have been paths to “billionaire-dom” other than the COVID-19 pandemic in the pandemic period. However,

      “Forbes found 61 new billionaires from the healthcare field this year (for year 2021)—and at least 40 join the ranks thanks to their involvement in the global fight against the Covid-19 pandemic.” – Forbes.

      No doubt some join the ranks of billionaires because inflation makes it easier to reach that status.

      “COVID-19 highlighted inequalities in our societies. Half the global population lost income during the pandemic (1). By 2022, global unemployment will exceed 200 million workers (2) and 150 million people will be pushed into extreme poverty (3). Low-income and low-skilled workers shouldered the brunt of job and income losses (4). Meanwhile, the 2,365 world’s billionaires, enjoyed a 54% boost in their wealth during the pandemic, equivalent to an increase of 5 trillion dollars (5). To put these numbers into perspective, the wealth increase of the 10 richest men over the pandemic ($540 billion) could pay for everyone’s vaccines globally.” – Seven Pillars Insitute.

      The pharmaceutical and other corporations have no incentive to end the pandemic. Indeed, they have every incentive to prolong the pandemic, make everyone as sick as possible and ensure that the endless profit-producing, non-sterilizing vaccines which permit endless reinfection remain the only “control” method. This is a strategy (“leaky-vaccines-only”) which will ensure, intentionally or not, the forced evolution of more and more contagious and lethal variants. Virology and epidemiology are clear on these points.

      One would have thought that enough capitalists, in the competition of capitals, would have considered that having a fit and healthy workforce would lift their profits and capitalizations in the mid to long term. This hasn’t seemed to be the case. Short-termism has completely ruled the roost. Like a householder burning the furniture and then dismantling the internal walls to burn and keep warm in winter, the capitalists have been content to burn out labour by burning the bodies and minds of workers with COVID-19, a pulmonary and vascular disease which attacks every organ in the body and leaves serious long-term sequalae (long covid) where it does not kill. Already 2 million to 3 million people in the UK have varying degrees of long covid, for example. The leaky, non-sterilizing vaccines are progressively failing and each booster generates less protection for a lesser time span. The end point of this process, without a radical circuit-breaker, is clear. It will be interesting. in a grim way, to see how capitalism and broader society perform when a large mass of the population is too sick to work and too sick to consume anything except health care up until the point of complete impoverishment.

      Either capitalism in its rituals and calculations is very short-term biased or else the major capital “players”, not just pharmaceuticals, consider that lost labour is going to be indefinitely replaceable, either by new recruits such as immigrants or by automation. (Is the health and pharmaceutical sector now showing higher differential profits (as a ratio) and/or higher differential  growth which latter could, I assume, yield higher absolute profits with higher differential profit ratios?

      Getting back to the original point, neither of these main trends, specifically the mass destruction of the environment and the mass destruction of human health, all for profit, are sustainable. The external contradictions will sink capitalism, unless there is a very dystopian alternative which dialectically becomes utopian for a self-chosen few. The “traditional” left view of the future has been of the necessity of either socialism or barbarism. A third possibility would seem to be a highly automated economy, abolishing the need for all labour other than the most highly skilled techs and crafts. If most labour is to be abolished, most humans (about 90%) will become surplus. In that case it makes sense to slowly kill them for profit during the transition. Single and repeated SARS-Cov-2 infections will kill more and more people, fast or slow, and the high mortality rates and decline in life expectancy are already showing up in the data.

      https://www.dailykos.com/stories/2022/1/5/2072827/-Life-insurance-CEO-says-pandemic-death-rates-for-18-64-year-olds-are-the-highest-we-have-seen-ever

      https://www.abs.gov.au/statistics/health/causes-death/provisional-mortality-statistics/latest-release

      https://www.webmd.com/lung/news/20210423/covid-study-deaths-months-after-infection

      I think it is important to assume bad faith on the part of the elites, or villainy if one wants to term it that, not just incompetence or short-sightedness. The capitalist elites have to be assumed to be deliberately engaging in social murder or democide for the purposes of differential profit at least and for the purposes of depopulation and an automated tech “utopia” at most. Along with fighting for sustainability and democratically managed housing and pensions (very good ideas), we also need to fight for public and social preventative medicine instead of the current pharma-dominated model which is to deliberately infect and physically and mentally degrade the health of the entire population for profit from the current endlessly administered, leaky, non-sterilizing vaccines.

      For the record, I do support the use  of these mRNA vaccines but as part of a global effort to vaccinate the world AND the use of all other measures to eliminate COVID-19. This means TTIMQ (Test, trace, isolate, mask, quarantine). This is sometimes called the Vaccines Plus strategy. The vaccines and the Pharmas that make them need to be socialized. The state paid for much of the precursor research and then the pharmas got handed the IP for free and proceeded to deny vaccines to the third and second worlds and to inadequately supply the first world. To my mind they are deliberately killing people: 25 million excess deaths globally and counting. Plus long covid cases are now in the hundreds of millions, maybe half a billion already. It’s a totally unsustainable model for running any kind of civilization.

      • This reply was modified 2 weeks, 5 days ago by Rowan Pryor.
    • #248087
      Rowan Pryor
      • Topics started: 6
      • Total posts: 47

      Is there no CasP analysis/research yet of the intersection of the Covid-19 pandemic and capital as power? Or have I missed it?

      Eric Topol has asked:

      “How can you go from sequence of a novel virus to 2 vaccines with 95% efficacy and safety (>75,000 participants in RCT trials) in 10 months and not, in 2.5 years, go after pan-β-coronavirus and nasal vaccines with the same aggressive (OWS) template?” – Eric Topol, Twitter.

      (Eric Topal bio from his own site – “Founder and Director of the Scripps Research Translational Institute, Professor of Molecular Medicine, and Executive Vice-President of Scripps Research. As a researcher, he has published over 1200 peer-reviewed articles, with more than 290,000 citations, elected to the National Academy of Medicine, and is one of the top 10 most cited researchers in medicine. His principal scientific focus has been on the genomic and digital tools to individualize medicine—and the power that brings to individuals to drive the future of medicine.”)

      It’s a very good question he asks. We can look at possible answers from non-CasP and rather mundane perspectives to more CasP-type explanations (and research?) about corporate Big Pharma motivations. Thus:

      1. Initial serendipity. A lot of groundwork research pre-existed as a jumping off point. Progress is now slower.

      2. The new requirements are technically harder or even biologically impossible.

      3. Not enough funding now by Pharma &/or Govt.

      4. Big Pharma are happy where they are. Endless boosters for endless infections will be a continuing money spinner. They have no incentive to find a full cure. Only new state action and state funding will work.

       

      Technical and biological hurdles (impossibilities) may be an issue of course. One, not in the know, can’t be sure. However, it seems to me Marx and Veblen would have recognized immediately the key possibilities of class-based, capital-based exploitation and sabotage being involved. Can CasP theory and research methods address this and extract any insights and findings? That is my question. Tell me if I am off-target in raising this and I will stop harping on it.

    • #248111
      Rowan Pryor
      • Topics started: 6
      • Total posts: 47

      In other words, my short question is this. Can we already see differentially improved profits and capitalisations accruing to a sub-set of corporations  (mainly but not only pharma and medical) as most of the economy worsens from the chronic and ever-widening economic and human damage of the COVID-19 pandemic?

    • #248112
      Scot Griffin
      • Topics started: 23
      • Total posts: 161

      In other words, my short question is this. Can we already see differentially improved profits and capitalisations accruing to a sub-set of corporations (mainly but not only pharma and medical) as most of the economy worsens from the chronic and ever-widening economic and human damage of the COVID-19 pandemic?

      see here: https://capitalaspower.com/casp-forum/topic/costly-efficiencies-working-paper-critical-feedback/

      • #248113
        Rowan Pryor
        • Topics started: 6
        • Total posts: 47

        Thank you Scot. It is a sign of my poor search skills and impatience that I did not find that paper. I will go to that thread, read the latest version of it and formulate a reply. It may take several days for me to come through with a reply. Whether it will be useful from an academic and technical CasP angle, I don’t know.

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