May 14, 2021 at 8:19 pm #245670
1. Who are “the ruled”?
2. Do they know they are ruled by the “ruling class”?
3. Do they know who the “ruling class” is?
4. Are the ruled the proximate cause of “systemic fear”?
My answers for the U.S.:
1. “The ruled” include at least the 70% of Americans who live paycheck-to-paycheck (i.e., they have no capital), but I would expand them to include the bottom 90-95% of Americans by net worth. We label them consumers, but in finance, they are the consumed.
2. No. They think they are ruled by local, state and federal government.
3. No. They think they are ruled by local, state and federal government.
4. No, other members of the ruling class are.
The false duality of “economics v. politics” serves to hide the existence of capital as power, but it also maintains a pathway to upset the power of capital through state action, if the ruling class creates a financial crisis that results in the suffering of the ruled..
May 15, 2021 at 11:44 am #245671Jeremy Zerbe
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Really glad to see this topic be posted here. I’ve been taking notes for a while now on a CasP conception of class (but have yet to build them into anything comprehensible) and I think this is a great inroad to that conversation.
One potential argument I see here is a refrain I’ve heard elsewhere on this forum that the logic of capitalization effectively “rules” even the ruling class. But because they are the ones with the power to creorder that logic, I think a differentiation must be made to avoid obfuscation of the societal roles of the capital-powerful.
Your paycheck-to-paycheck definition of the ruled seems to align with Mao’s “Analysis of the Classes in Chinese Society” from 1926, when he explains the stratification of the petty bourgeoisie whose upper crust includes those with “surplus money or grain, that is, those who, by manual or mental labour, earn more each year than they consume for their own support.” Worth noting, however, is that Mao identifies even that top level (along with the lower petty bourgeoisie, who “are undergoing a gradual change from a position of being barely able to manage to one of living in more and more reduced circumstances”) as potential allies in the revolution, so long as they are not persuaded by their proximity to the more successful and stable middle bourgeoisie.
Perhaps this definition of “petty bourgeoisie” accounts for this gap between the 70% without surplus and the 95% of lowest net-worth individuals that you highlight? Without getting too productivist (and keeping in mind the divide presented in CasP between “business” and “industry”), I believe that if you looked deeper into who constitutes that gap, you’d find that most work in the realm of business rather than in an industrial capacity—or, if they are in the latter, then generally as low- to mid-level managers.
Your point about systemic fear I think is particularly well-founded. I’d say that the threat of systemic fear quickly evaporates as you move out of the ruling class and those whose work depends on their stability (the middle bourgeoisie, if we’re willing to use that term at this point) since there’s less-to-nothing to lose for those without capital or, as they might call it, “skin in the game.” Lower classes might recognize systemic fear or responses to it, but it all just appears as part of “the game” of an economic order they’re largely not part of.
Excited to see where this line of questioning/thinking goes!
- This reply was modified 4 months, 1 week ago by Jeremy Zerbe.
May 19, 2021 at 6:20 pm #245674Scot Griffin
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I have revisited the real v. nominal duality and believe that it is true if cause and effect are reversed, i.e., the nominal economy/world does not reflect the real economy/world, it drives it, which is the net effect of capital as power mediated through strategic sabotage (I prefer “strategic scarcity”).
In this sense, there are also two societies, the nominal and the real, each with its own class system. Within the nominal world (I think of it as a game world called “the Market”), Finance is the ruler because it controls the banks, the money supply and capital markets, i.e., all the sources of capital, which exists solely within the game world and under Finance’s control unless and until it is emitted as money to purchase goods or services in the real world. (When you deposit money at a bank, it becomes the bank’s money, and you become an unsecured creditor. When you buy stock on an exchange, it is typically held in the name of your broker/financial institution, aka “the street name,” although you have a claim to the shares.)
Within the nominal world, I would argue the petit bourgeoisie are those who possess capital but not enough of it stop working for others (the working rich), as well as those who can stop working but who are likely to consume most or all of their capital within their lifetime. Anybody who has less capital is essentially classless. They are neither citizens nor denizens of the game world as they are consumed entirely by the real world (aka, the company store).
Between Finance and the nominal “petit bourgeoisie” are many other classes defined by the quantity of capital possessed. Each time you pass a certain milestone, you get access to more capital markets and assets at a lower cost. As investors, capital owners essentially have a rating much like a bond rating, only less subjective.
In the absence of war, pandemics and natural disasters, every bad economy is born in the nominal world as a financial crisis and migrates to the real world as Finance stops lending and other capitalists stop borrowing to preserve what capital they have. Every major recession or depression has been driven by a sudden contraction in the extension of private credit, which constricts the money supply in the real world, causing rising unemployment or worse deflation.
That’s why I say the proximate cause of systemic fear, the fear of the potential collapse of the nominal world, can only be driven by citizens of the nominal world, i.e., those with enough capital to participate in the game. While financial crises usually result in “the ruled” paying off debt and not taking on new credit, they downward spiral is always cause by capital owners who make big bets and cannot pay their debts as a result, which can trigger fire sales of financial assets and crash the stock market.
May 21, 2021 at 3:06 am #245675ishi crew
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There is a film called ‘the treasure of the sierra madre’ starring humphrey bogart from long ago. (I had relatives who were somehwat familiar with ‘sierra madre’ in Mexico and up through Texas.
If i recall correctly it has a scene with 2 people in Mexican desert–gold prospectors—one found and has gold, the other has water. They are walking north to Texas (and i’ve done a similar walk a few times and i’ve seen old , sometimes still semi-active gold mines from mexico through california to alaska) .
There is very little water in those deserts and you have to know where to go. (I could figure it out —find some water every 5-20 miles–springs from the desert mountains— or plants. )
Off and on, the two people make a deal or market transaction. The person with water sells it for gold to the other person who is thirsty.
Then a few hours later they make the opposite deal–the person who now has the gold says he is thirsty, and the gold is too heavy, so he buys the water; and so on. The movie may end unhappily–i forget–i was maybe 6 when i saw it. The ‘nominal’ (gold) ended up abandoned in the desert, and the ‘real’ (water) was all gone –drunk , or spilled and evaporated.
Alot of people down there were bounded by but to a large extent not part of the ‘finance economy’–they grew their own food, found wild fruits and some fish, made their own clothes etc.
They had some market transactions and cash—but sometimes not really welcome.
People wanted them to do ‘agricultural work for cash’–ranging from growing vegetables for export to opium , ‘tourism’, smuggling, and become part of consumer society–build roads, make little stores that sold coca-cola and food imported from USA, and cut down the remaining small beautiful forests to sell the timber.
May 22, 2021 at 12:58 am #245679Scot Griffin
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I recall seeing The Treasure of the Sierra Madre when I was a child, as well. I was a big 30s and 40s film buff growing up, but I preferred lighter fare from actors like Cary Grant and Katherine Hepburn. Heck, I even loved Shirley Temple movies. I was a kid, after all.
One of the major reasons I believe companies like Amazon, Apple, and Google are rewarded with high earnings multiples is because they have created platform-proprietary markets where they stand between the buyer and seller, in many cases “capitalizing” a portion of the profits of “non-financialized” segments of society, just as finance capitalized these companies by trading their shares on secondary stock markets. Capital’s power is fractal in nature.
At the end of the day, one cannot survive in modern society without money, and controlling one’s access to money is thus the most coercive power there is today. There are merchants who clearly must believe that the alternative to selling through Amazon is dying in a desert.
May 23, 2021 at 11:16 am #245687ishi crew
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“capital’s power is fractal in nature’.
to me that may summarzie the entire issue. ‘eureka—all problems solved with one formula’
(my view is the formula and variants actually has been known a long time under many different names .)
just saying that should get you 2 PhDs and tenure in depts of (neoclassical) econ and political econ0my (casp) .
i’d even say the same for every other U dept—
(every phd test has the same questions answered by ‘fractal’ )—–
just different words for fractals and related math objects—‘real or nominal, or neither n/or both’.
people are basically living in a tower of babel speaking lanaguages as mutually unintillegible as tree language and mountain language and few realize they have them.
its sort of like the current and forever mideast conflicts.
all the langauges have power—but somewaht different.
‘sapir whorf’ pcp.
math people i think are still undecided on really how to describe fractals (similar to defining capital).
the descriptions do become like river valleys and watersheds populated by different competing and warring tribes flowing into different oceans .
this is my basic view or theory and i wonder to what extent anyone else thinks it is similar or related to their view.
also i’m theoretically big into applications—-eg turning nominal things into reality—eg go from e = mc2 to a bomb you can sell or use.
i wonder what application exist for CASP ( neoclassical econ has many, often trivial but pay bills; and somec astill create variants hpoping to be the next einstein, walras, arrow, samuelson, arthur, etc.).
most casp appluicatiomns to me look like data collection and regressions—-cuve fitting—what biologists except a few primarily did up to 1970’s.
biotech people still do this. the real cuurrent theory looks the fringes of phyics/math/logic—as does some recent econ theory—some of whose ideas are used in casp as analogies (and much bioology theory began with analogies.
(in a sense the applications that interest me are related to ideas like anarcho-communism or related variants–libertarian socialism, green politics…
people i know or knew into those view their application as getting tenure ,selling books, or status—power .
thats sort of what i want to but maybe a different kind of power for people , crew, tribes or species with my religion ‘ishi crew’.
ishi is on wikipedia. in a sense there may never be a universal theory beyond the phrase. get particular quicvkly.
(i havent been able to sell many equations—i actually tried for awhile on street along with music—right/left brain recipe.)
‘whole food for a whole person’. so my applications are near zero —ajnd maybe there wont be any, or no0ty until someone invents a new kind of fire, water, internet , or a-life—one with super powers able to makew super/in/stit(ut)ions
i likely should have stuck with even though i made very little cash. you go for more cash doing something you dont really like for me was a recipe for failure.
but some people get alot of success using that approach if they can play the market well—-it may be in large part a zero sum game —–
for which i think there is a technical term and related to fractals , physics and numbers.
this is sort of what i work on but doing it alone for free isn’t much fun. all the people i come across doing related things basically are happy either alone or else with people they know doing what they basically already do (or practicing their own religious faith)—probably wise. a cat can’t learn a fish’s tricks for life under water easily.
(i wonder if 1 air = 2 waters? have to do the chemistry).
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