“The Soul of Capitalism”
By William Greider
By Richard E. Noble
As a practicing freelance philosopher, I always begin with a definition of terms. In “The Soul of Capitalism” my first questions are; What does Mr. Grieder mean by the word “soul” and how does he define Capitalism? We want to be on the same page here.
The sub-title of this book is, “Opening Paths to a Moral Economy.” So I interpret the Soul of Capitalism to be concerned with its fairness – the fairness of the economic system.
We already know from reading “Who Will Tell the People” that the fairness of the Political System has been corrupted and marginalized to say the least. We also have learned from reading Mr. Greider that the two are impossibly intertwined.
Capitalism, as we all know, has never been much on fairness. George Will, staunch free market Capitalist stalwart, has stated publicly that he would not allow his children to even use the word fair in his home while they were growing up. Capitalism has always been considered more like Mother Nature – the way it is; not the way it should be. It’s like mathematics. It’s supply vs. demand; it’s guns or butter. Its operation, we are told, cannot be denied or interfered with, without deleterious effects.
There are many who consider this to be “fair.” If that is the way it is, that’s the way it is. I would guess that there are many who because of the title of this book will not even bother to pick it up. Because, they believe that Capitalism is the way it is and that by its very nature it is soulless, as is a machine or a hurricane.
But in picking up on this discussion Mr. Grieder is continuing an old philosophical discussion among “The Worldly Philosophers” as Mr. Heilbroner refers to them; Ricardo, J. S. Mill, Marx, Veblen, Henry George, St. Simon, Godwin, Smith, Maithus etc.
Economics was once discussed as “Political Economy.” There are those radical fundamentalists today who claim that there should exist a “Separation of State and Economics.” And that only if this separation is maintained will the natural economic evolution of proper events take place. Any interference by the government will result in disaster.
Those on the other side of this argument claim that the above theory is impossible to substantiate since 1) no such state or condition has ever existed to substantiate the argument 2) when, in the past, such a condition was approached, collapse and failure were invariably the inevitable results 3) and failure and collapse will always be the case with such a scenario because of the basic fallacies of the fundamental principles of the Free Capitalist dogma. Supply vs. demand (even in regard to human beings) and unfettered destructive competition, are the two most obvious in this case.
Mr. Greider on his website refers to his promotion of this book as; Trying to sell hope in hardback.
I’m sure that I am not going to be the first to inform Mr. Grieder that this book does not fill one with a great deal of hope. On the other hand it is encouraging me to think, ever so slightly, in a more egalitarian and economically positive manner. It is nice to know that there is at least one other human being who is still concerned about these matters. Mr. Grieder tells me that there are many, many more and he provides some of their names and email addresses. I have not entertained such utopian thoughts since my junior college days in the 1960s.
Mr. Grieder does suggest in this book that he hopes that it will inspire the younger generation. I hope so too, because I am well aware that this particular member of the older generation is very difficult to inspire.
But if you are looking for positive, practical and sensible economic ideas that are currently working and in practice by a few folks as we speak, Mr. Grieder has pages full of them in this latest book “The Soul of Capitalism.”
My problem is that I have and even deeper cynicism than Mr. Grieder … or Tom Paine or even Karl Marx.
I struggle to believe that the problems of mankind are merely systemic. Sometimes, I think that they are endemic – endemic to all of humankind. I must say that I sometimes believe as did Jesus, Buddha, Confucius, Gandhi and others that first we must find our own soul and then put the seed of that soul into humankind. If we can do that, almost any system will work.
When I said that to my wife, she said: “Yeah right! Tell that to your buddy Adolf Hitler and his Nazi Germany. I think your philosophy is a good rationalization for not doing anything.
So with my wife’s criticism in mind, I recommend reading Mr. Grieder’s book. At least he is trying to do something and actually doing something is better than philosophizing about the virtuous self-righteousness of doing nothing.
One other thought occurs to me with regards to Capitalism.
When J. S. Mill was analyzing this particular problem in his “A Theory of Political Economy” he said something to this effect:
So if we admit that the fundamental rules of economic dogma cannot be denied and that we must conform to them in our attempts at earning money and operating our businesses – competition, supply and demand etc. – well so be it. But after we have conformed to these demands and made our fortunes we are then free to do with our incomes and our wealth as we please and so too are governments who gain their wealth after the fact. There are no economic rules or dogmatic restrictions on how we must spend our money after we have earned it. We are once again in command and fate is once again in our hands.
This being the case, can we not redistribute or spend this wealth in any manner we choose? Who is to say that now that we have our wealth and have earned it according to the rules, we cannot dispense with it in any manner we now choose? We can give it to the poor; we can buy land for the landless; we can cure the sick; or we can use it to conquer the world; or gamble it away at a Casino or a stock market. At this point we are once again in control of our economics and our economics are not in control of us.
So then if governments and individuals choose to use their economic wealth to compensate for what are the obvious inadequacies of our hard and fast and oftentimes cruel economic system who is to say otherwise?
Books by Richard Edward Noble. Click on covers below for more info and purchasing instructions.
Classic Tragic Novel
Bloggin' Be My Life
"Bloggin' be My Life" contains a selection of some of my more popular Hobo Philosopher blogs.If you enjoy reading this blog, you should love Bloggin' Be My Life.
It's All About Love
It's All About Love is ... all about love. This is the 2nd book of poetry from The Bard From Chelmsford off Arlington. Every poem in this book comes with a prose introduction. If you enjoy poetry this is a simple choice. Have fun!
A Little Something
Traditional poetry from The Bard From Chelmsford Off Arlington with some poignant prose introductions. If you enjoy any type of poetry, you will enjoy this volume. Thanks.
Bits and Pieces
The Hobo Philosopher - My first book using the Hobo Philosopher brand. Featuring a variety of writing styles and ideas. Look for the Thoughtful Hobo on the cover.
A Baker's Dozen
The Hobo Philosopher: My Second book of Fiction, Creative Non-Fiction and Short Stories. All varieties of short stories - lots of laughs!
Cat Point - and Them Dang Oyster People
Cat Point is the sequel to "The Eastpointer." Both books contain humorous tales about life in a fishing community on the Florida Panhandle. Lots of laughs.
Won 1st Place award for humor in 2007 from Florida Press Association. More wit, wisdom and humor from the yet to be world famous author, R.E. Noble
A Summer with Charlie - Lawrence
Fiction - Salisbury Beach, Lawrence, Mass. Featured in Merrimack Valley Magazine July /Aug. issue 2010
Travel, Humor, Commentary on migrant farm work and illegal immigration still very pertinent today.
"Just Hangin' Out Ma"
Thank God for the Street Corners of Lawrence, Mass. Anecdotes and humorous escapades about growing up in an industrial mill town in the 40s,50s and 60s.
This is the sequel to "Just Hangin' Out, Ma"
That Old Gang of Mine
This is # 3 in my Lawrence Hometown series. The series is about growing up in the 40's, 50's and 60's in an industrial mill town. Sorta like a Huck Finn goes to vist Uncle Ralph, the bus driver, who lives in a big, rundown city. Lots of fun.
Honor Thy Father and Thy Mother
Classic tragic novel written from child's perspective. Deals with abuse, poverty, unemployment. Pulls no punches.
Noble Notes on Famous Folks
Humorous, satirical notes on everybody from Constantine to Bill Clinton. Inspiration: Willy Cuppy.
America on Strike
History - documented survey of labor strikes in America
Mein Kampf - An Analysis of Book One
Who are the American Nazis - the Liberals or the Conservatives?
MY NAME IS RICHARD EDWARD NOBLE. I AM A FREELANCE WRITER AND I HAVE PUBLISHED 12 BOOKS:"THE EASTPOINTER" - SELECTIONS FROM AWARD WINNING NEWSPAPER COLUMN - "A LITTLE SOMETHING" - POETRY WITH PROSE -"HONOR THY FATHER AND THY MOTHER" - A NOVEL ABOUT GROWING UP IN THE NEW ENGLAND MILL TOWN OF LAWRENCE, MASS, "HOBO-ING AMERICA" - A WORKINGMAN'S TOUR OF THE U.S.A. - "A SUMMER WITH CHARLIE" - THE STORY OF A YOUNG SAILOR'S LAST DAYS AT SALISBURY BEACH, "NOBLE NOTES ON FAMOUS FOLKS" - HUMOROUS ANECDOTES ON FAMOUS FOLKS IN HISTORY,
"AMERICA ON STRIKE" HISTORY BOOK - A SURVEY OF LABOR STRIKES IN AMERICA; "A BAKER'S DOZEN" A BOOK OF HUMOROUS SHORT STORIES; "JUST HANGIN' OUT, MA" - GROWING UP IN THE 40'S, 50'S AND 60'S IN LAWRENCE, MY HOMETOWN, "TENEMENT DWELLERS" - SEQUEL TO JUST HANGIN OUT, MA; MEIN KAMPF - ANALYSIS OF BOOK ONE - HISTORY. CAT POINT - AND THEM DANG OYSTER PEOPLE - SEQUEL TO THE EASTPOINTER
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