Capitalism A way of organizing economic life based on: – Private ownership of productive property – Profit as incentive – Competition between actors in “free markets” – Prices are driven by supply and demand – Relationship between employer and employee is based on surplus value
Socialism An economic system in which the raw materials and the means of producing and distributing goods and services are collectively owned Based on the belief that everyone should share equally in the goods and services produced by society
Mixed Economies Economies that combine features of capitalist and socialist systems, including both the public and private ownership of property and limits on free-market competition.
"To learn who rules over you, simply find out who you aren't allowed to criticize" -- Voltaire (1694-1778)
In a relatively free society, whose control is based on ideological hegemony, we might say, "To learn what rules over you, simply find out what you are highly discouraged (threatened with severe social ostracism) from criticizing."
We’re gonna deconstruct and criticize CAPITALISM just a little bit
We all already know the benefits of capitalism, right? Let’s list some!
Ideology and the Culture of Capitalism “Naturalizes” a social construct – Economic rules are understood as “the way it is” – Myths are reinforced as “reality” E.g. “Free Markets” – Facilitates social control (through consent) – Wealth is evidence of success, poverty is a sign of failure to achieve
Implications of “Naturalized” Capitalism: Market values trump human values – E.g. Tobacco companies, vacant houses, etc. Produces quiescent workers – Quiescent = “at rest,” someone who is docile, not agitated Public goods become private property – E.g. Enclosure movement, privatization of water, healthcare, etc. Structural problems treated as personal issues – E.g. Poverty, unemployment, etc. Alternative economic arrangements are not even considered – E.g. Healthcare reform debate
Dilemmas of Capitalism Clean air vs. national sovereignty
Dilemmas of Capitalism Clean air vs. national sovereignty Property rights vs. human rights Needs of market vs. needs of people Public health vs. private profit Intellectual property vs. art Trees vs. Jobs
Inequality is an inevitable consequence of capitalism. But the level of inequality we are willing to tolerate is up to us. We are currently experiencing nearly the highest rate of inequality since 1929.
Inequality and Life Chances Working class and poor people are: – Less likely to go to college – More likely to get arrested, convicted, go to prison, and receive the death penalty than upper class people – More likely to die prematurely