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[Xmca-l] Re: Working for the Few | Oxfam International



Two points in response, Bill.
(1) All the social progress which has taken place under capitalism (well almost all) has occurred thanks only to those struggling against capitalism or other forms of institutionalised inequality, not by those privileged in those arrangements (not seeing this was Hegel's big mistake btw). (2) Capitalism can only be transcended by the self-conscious self-regulation of behaviour. "Collapse" has always and will always mean only war, destruction of social fabric and ... more capitalism and inequality.

Andy
------------------------------------------------------------------------
*Andy Blunden*
http://home.mira.net/~andy/


Bill Kerr wrote:
My contention is that capitalism has these economic characteristics:

1) General increase in standard of living
2) Increasing gap b/w rich and poor
3) Instability: periodic economic crises

If you only talk about (2) without mentioning (1) then it is hard to grasp why people put up with capitalism. Bill and Melinda Gates just talk about (1) and ignore the other aspects. See http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052702304149404579324530112590864

If you can't stomach Bill and Melinda there are other version of this narrative. This video (Hans Rosling, GapMinder) is interesting: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jbkSRLYSojo The historical record suggests to me that provided (1) is maintained then people will continue to tolerate capitalism. Whether capitalism can maintain (1) depends on (3). The crisis of 2008 and the Occupy Wall Street movement suggested to me that it was time to do some serious study of Marx's unfinished project or alternatively other economic theories such as Post Keynesian (Hyman Minsky, Steve Keen et al) which recognise the inherent instability of capitalism. My tentative conclusion is that we just don't understand capitalism and it is very hard to understand. eg. if capitalists can muddle through the downturns by printing more money and the very serious economic downturns can be delayed by 70 years (Great Depression to 2008) then that might be a formula for survival (?) Absurd simplification on my part.




On Wed, Jan 22, 2014 at 11:16 AM, Andy Blunden <ablunden@mira.net <mailto:ablunden@mira.net>> wrote:

    Which means, does it not Huw, propagating a counter-ethic, so to
    speak, since arguments against an ethic are just words, and the
    maxim is always "do as I do not as I say." But an ethic is
    meaningful, I believe only within some collaborative endeavour. My
    relationship to you is meaningful only in connection of what we
    do, as we, together. I believe that "Do unto others as you would
    have them do unto you," is fine as far as it goes, but is
    inadequate to this mtulicultural, fragmented world.

    Andy
    ------------------------------------------------------------------------
    *Andy Blunden*
    http://home.mira.net/~andy/ <http://home.mira.net/%7Eandy/>


    Huw Lloyd wrote:

        Going back to reference to the bubble and social psychology,
        it seems to me that the "super rich" are to be pitied too.  I
        am not sure living in a bubble is such a nice thing,
        especially given the immaturity required to sustain it.

        I don't think it is the super rich which are to be combatted,
        rather it is the inane notion that this is something to be
        admired or desired.  This, it seems to me, is a more
        obtainable and more rewarding exercise.

        Best,
        Huw



        On 22 January 2014 00:07, Andy Blunden <ablunden@mira.net
        <mailto:ablunden@mira.net> <mailto:ablunden@mira.net
        <mailto:ablunden@mira.net>>> wrote:

            But your foundation is active in combatting inequality through
            literacy. "Every step of real movement is more important
        than a
            dozen programmes," as one very serious theorist said.
            Andy
http://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1875/letters/75_05_05.htm

------------------------------------------------------------------------
            *Andy Blunden*
            http://home.mira.net/~andy/
        <http://home.mira.net/%7Eandy/> <http://home.mira.net/%7Eandy/>



            Dr. Paul C. Mocombe wrote:

                At 38 I am differing to my elders on this one...albeit, I
                agree with Andy...too young to be pessimistic, but
        what I have
                seen happen to black america has really disappointed me.


                Dr. Paul C. Mocombe
                President
                The Mocombeian Foundation, Inc.
                www.mocombeian.com <http://www.mocombeian.com>
        <http://www.mocombeian.com>
                www.readingroomcurriculum.com
        <http://www.readingroomcurriculum.com>
                <http://www.readingroomcurriculum.com>


                -------- Original message --------
                From: Andy Blunden
                Date:01/21/2014 6:36 PM (GMT-05:00)
                To: "eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity"
                Subject: [Xmca-l] Re: Working for the Few | Oxfam
        International

                David, you are quite correct that agreement on
        fundamentals of
                theory is
                by no means necessary for collaboration (though on the
        xmca
                list this is
                feasible). In a sense, the very meaning of
        "collaboration" is
                that such
                disagreement on fundamentals is suspended. Nonetheless, in
                raising the
                proposal on this list your are inviting collaboration on
                formation of
                the concept of this project, and I have accepted the
        invitation by
                criticising your concept of the proposal. You have
        propsed the
                writing
                of an article countering the narrative of Ayn Rand
        that "the
                ultra-wealthy are the engines of advancement and
        prosperity
                and the
                saviors of society" and to argue instead that "the gradual
                shift in
                political control of the economy over the past 50
        years by the
                ultra-wealthy has reached a kind of tipping point in
        which the
                gains in
                disparity are so dramatic as to overwhelm any sense of
        actual
                self-interest." My response is "Well, hello!" This is
        hardly news,
                David. This has been argued (correctly) for several
        centuries. The
                wealthy have always been a class of parasites; social
        progress has
                always been only in the teeth of opposition from all
        but a few
                of that
                class. I would argue that it is better to enter some
        actual
                project
                aimed against capitalism and ineqaulity and
        participate in the
                argument
                about strategy and tactics. Being 68, after 50 years
        of such
                participation, I accept a somewhat arm's length
        participation,
                but the
                protagonists (wether real or imagined) are those actually
                engaged in
                that struggle in any formm about how best to further that
                struggle. Not
                the *generalities*, in my view. But I am pleased that
        you are
                taking up
                the battle and I wish you well. All I can do is offer my
                reflections on
                your object-concept, as others have and will.

                Andy
------------------------------------------------------------------------
                *Andy Blunden*
                http://home.mira.net/~andy/
        <http://home.mira.net/%7Eandy/> <http://home.mira.net/%7Eandy/>



                David H Kirshner wrote:
                >> It would appear ...
                >>    >
                > Doesn't appear that way to me.
                > In fact, it's not clear to me, contrary to Andy and
        Paul,
                that in a practical endeavor one has to come to terms with
                foundational issues, at all.
                > The fact that social psychology may not have the
        foundations
                right doesn't imply that it has no insight to offer,
        or that a
                make-shift frame of reference can't provide a stable
        enough
                foundation to move people forward (collectively and
                individually). Indeed, isn't that the necessary way
        forward in
                any practical endeavor, given the absence of fully
        worked out
                foundational perspectives (and given the need to
        address the
                world as we find it, without the theorist's option of
                restricting the domain of inquiry within tractable
        parameters)?
                > David
                >
                >
                > -----Original Message-----
                > From: xmca-l-bounces@mailman.ucsd.edu
        <mailto:xmca-l-bounces@mailman.ucsd.edu>
                <mailto:xmca-l-bounces@mailman.ucsd.edu
        <mailto:xmca-l-bounces@mailman.ucsd.edu>>
                [mailto:xmca-l-bounces@mailman.ucsd.edu
        <mailto:xmca-l-bounces@mailman.ucsd.edu>
                <mailto:xmca-l-bounces@mailman.ucsd.edu
        <mailto:xmca-l-bounces@mailman.ucsd.edu>>] On Behalf Of Dr.
                Paul C. Mocombe
                > Sent: Tuesday, January 21, 2014 6:12 AM
                > To: eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity;
        ablunden@mira.net <mailto:ablunden@mira.net>
                <mailto:ablunden@mira.net <mailto:ablunden@mira.net>>
                > Subject: [Xmca-l] Re: Working for the Few | Oxfam
        International
                >
                > Andy and david,
                >
                > It would appear that any counter - narrative would
        have to
                be anti-dialectical and counter-hegemonic, I.e.,
                anti-individual, anti-capitalist, anti-humanity...
         Can such a
                counter - narrative come from a humanity, including us
                academics, subjectified to reproduce individual
        wealth, upward
                mobility, and status at the expense of the masses of poor
                around the world, paradoxically, seeking our bourgeois
                lifestyle? >
                > I ask because,  it would appear that the earth,in
        marxian
                terms, as a class for itself, has been begging for
        humanity to
                change the way it recursively reorganize and reproduce
        it's
                being-in-it over the last 100 years, but we consistently
                refuse.  Instead, turning to dialectical measures,
        fracking,
                carbon credits, neoliberalism, etc., to attempt to
        resolve our
                problems and maintain the protestant ethic and the
        spirit of
                capitalism as an "enframing" (heidegger's term) ontology.
                >
                > I am not a pessimistic person, but it appears that
        in this
                case we are all dead we just do not know it yet.
                >
                >
                > Dr. Paul C. Mocombe
                > President
                > The Mocombeian Foundation, Inc.
                > www.mocombeian.com <http://www.mocombeian.com>
        <http://www.mocombeian.com>
                > www.readingroomcurriculum.com
        <http://www.readingroomcurriculum.com>
                <http://www.readingroomcurriculum.com>

                >
                > <div>-------- Original message --------</div><div>From:
                David H Kirshner <dkirsh@lsu.edu
        <mailto:dkirsh@lsu.edu> <mailto:dkirsh@lsu.edu
        <mailto:dkirsh@lsu.edu>>>

                </div><div>Date:01/21/2014  2:50 AM  (GMT-05:00)
                </div><div>To: ablunden@mira.net
        <mailto:ablunden@mira.net>
                <mailto:ablunden@mira.net
        <mailto:ablunden@mira.net>>,"eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity"
                <xmca-l@mailman.ucsd.edu
        <mailto:xmca-l@mailman.ucsd.edu>
        <mailto:xmca-l@mailman.ucsd.edu
        <mailto:xmca-l@mailman.ucsd.edu>>>

                </div><div>Subject: [Xmca-l] Re: Working for the Few |
        Oxfam
                International </div><div>
                > </div>Andy,
                > I suppose social psychology's unitary and a-historical
                ascription of the human sense of material well-being as
                relative to other people (rather than as relative to
        one's own
                past) gets it wrong from the start. Still, I think it
        provides
                a way to understand the individual pursuit of wealth,
        carried
                to its limits, as anti-social and destructive; an
        effective
                counter-narrative to the libertarian ideal of the
        individual
                unfettered by societal constraints. We badly need a
                counter-narrative to regain some kind of political
        leverage
                for ordinary citizens.
                > If anyone would like to help pull that together in
        the form
                of a paper, please reply, on-line or off-.
                > Thanks.
                > David
                > dkirsh@lsu.edu <mailto:dkirsh@lsu.edu>
        <mailto:dkirsh@lsu.edu <mailto:dkirsh@lsu.edu>>

                >
                >
                > -----Original Message-----
                > From: xmca-l-bounces@mailman.ucsd.edu
        <mailto:xmca-l-bounces@mailman.ucsd.edu>
                <mailto:xmca-l-bounces@mailman.ucsd.edu
        <mailto:xmca-l-bounces@mailman.ucsd.edu>>
                [mailto:xmca-l-bounces@mailman.ucsd.edu
        <mailto:xmca-l-bounces@mailman.ucsd.edu>
                <mailto:xmca-l-bounces@mailman.ucsd.edu
        <mailto:xmca-l-bounces@mailman.ucsd.edu>>] On Behalf Of Andy
                Blunden
                > Sent: Tuesday, January 21, 2014 12:13 AM
                > To: eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity
                > Subject: [Xmca-l] Re: Working for the Few | Oxfam
        International
                >
                > I certainly hope so, David, or at least, I hope to
        read and
                participate in acting out the opening chapter of that
        narrative.
                >
                > I do think that the "99%/1%" narrative was a project
        doomed
                to failure however, as it conceived of itself as a linear
                expansion which would somehow bypass social and
        ideological
                differences. It did not conceive of itselfr as a
        project at
                all. Just a mesage about the one true world which
        everyone had
                to come to. Truly magical realism. The plot lies
        implicit in
                the opening chapter, but it is always far from easy to
        see how
                the plot will unfold itself though the multiple
        story-lines
                entailed in this conundrum, Andy
                >
------------------------------------------------------------------------
                > *Andy Blunden*
                > http://home.mira.net/~andy/
        <http://home.mira.net/%7Eandy/> <http://home.mira.net/%7Eandy/>

                >
                >
                > David H Kirshner wrote:
                >  >> The operative narrative, at least in the U.S.
        context,
                dictated by Ayn Rand, is that the ultra-wealthy are the
                engines of advancement and prosperity and the saviors of
                society. What is in their best interest is in all of
        our best
                interests. We very badly need a counter-narrative.
                >> Andy, is this practical project something that can be
                undertaken and completed in real-time as a theoretical
        project?
                >> David
                >>
                >>
                >> -----Original Message-----
                >> From: xmca-l-bounces@mailman.ucsd.edu
        <mailto:xmca-l-bounces@mailman.ucsd.edu>
                <mailto:xmca-l-bounces@mailman.ucsd.edu
        <mailto:xmca-l-bounces@mailman.ucsd.edu>>
                >> [mailto:xmca-l-bounces@mailman.ucsd.edu
        <mailto:xmca-l-bounces@mailman.ucsd.edu>
                <mailto:xmca-l-bounces@mailman.ucsd.edu
        <mailto:xmca-l-bounces@mailman.ucsd.edu>>] On Behalf Of Andy
                Blunden
                >> Sent: Monday, January 20, 2014 11:06 PM
                >> To: eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity
                >> Subject: [Xmca-l] Re: Working for the Few | Oxfam
        International
                >>
                >> David I have plenty of experience with desparate
        measures
                over teh
                >> past
                >> 50 years, and I have come very late to "the broader
                theoretical project." It is absolutely essential that the
                practical project and the theoretical project are one
        and the
                same.
                >>
                >> Andy
                >>
----------------------------------------------------------------------
                >> --
                >> *Andy Blunden*
                >> http://home.mira.net/~andy/
        <http://home.mira.net/%7Eandy/> <http://home.mira.net/%7Eandy/>

                >>
                >>
                >> David H Kirshner wrote:
                >>   >>    >>> Andy,
                >>> Sometimes, in order to create a counter-narrative
        that can
                be effective in the here and now, one has to step
        outside of
                the broader theoretical project. I guess, for some,
        this would
                constitute a distraction from the real work, perhaps a
                violation of the true mission of that scholarly
        endeavor. For
                others, it might be a legitimate (even if imperfect)
        effort to
                apply what one has come to understand from the larger
        project.
                For others, still, perhaps simply a political activity
                undertaken with theoretical tools, but with little actual
                relation to the theoretical project.
                >>> Perhaps these are desperate measures that these
        desperate
                times call for.
                >>> David
                >>>
                >>>
                >>> -----Original Message-----
                >>> From: xmca-l-bounces@mailman.ucsd.edu
        <mailto:xmca-l-bounces@mailman.ucsd.edu>
                <mailto:xmca-l-bounces@mailman.ucsd.edu
        <mailto:xmca-l-bounces@mailman.ucsd.edu>>
                >>> [mailto:xmca-l-bounces@mailman.ucsd.edu
        <mailto:xmca-l-bounces@mailman.ucsd.edu>
                <mailto:xmca-l-bounces@mailman.ucsd.edu
        <mailto:xmca-l-bounces@mailman.ucsd.edu>>] On Behalf Of Andy
                Blunden
                >>> Sent: Monday, January 20, 2014 10:29 PM
                >>> To: eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity
                >>> Subject: [Xmca-l] Re: Working for the Few | Oxfam
                International
                >>>
                >>> Well, that's the project I have been collaborating in
                since I was a teenager, David, but it has its
        challenges, too,
                you know.
                >>>
                >>> First off, these observations about social
        psychology and
                well-being:
                >>> The point is to have a unit of analysis and one
        which is
                as valid for making observations about psychology as
        it is for
                social theory. And in general, this is lacking for
        what goes
                by the name of "social psychology." People do not of
        course
                govern their behaviour by evidence-based
        investigations of the
                likely results of their behaviour.
                >>> People don't set out to "grow a bigger economy" or
        "have
                more wealth than someone else". The thinking of an
        individual
                has to be understood (I would contend) within the
        contexts of
                the projects to which they are committed. That is the
        reason
                for the relativity in the enjoyment of wealth (which
        is itself
                of course relative). People make judgments according
        to the
                norms of the project in which they are participating,
        and that
                means semantic, theoretical and practical norms.
        Understanding
                the psychology of political economy is as of one task with
                that of building a project to overthrow the existing
        political
                economic arrangements and build sustainable
        arrangements. That
                requires a multitude of projects all willikng and able to
                collaborate with one another.
                >>>
                >>> That's what I think.
                >>> Andy
                >>>
---------------------------------------------------------------------
                >>> -
                >>> --
                >>> *Andy Blunden*
                >>> http://home.mira.net/~andy/
        <http://home.mira.net/%7Eandy/> <http://home.mira.net/%7Eandy/>

                >>>
                >>>
                >>> David H Kirshner wrote:
                >>>   >>>     >>>      >>>> I've been sketching out in my
                mind, but not yet had time to research and write, a paper
                tentatively titled:
                >>>> The Psychology of Greed: Why the Ultra-wealthy are
                Despoiling the
                >>>> Planet, Tanking the Economy, and Gutting our
        Culture In
                the Quest
                >>>> for More
                >>>>
                >>>> The premise is that the psychological metric of
        our sense
                of material well-being is not accumulation, relative
        to our
                own past wealth, but the comparative measure of our
        own wealth
                in relation to that of others. (I believe this is a
                well-established principle of social psychology.) So, for
                example, instead of trying to grow a bigger economy which
                requires a large and healthy middle-class (this is
        what would
                provide more actual wealth for the ultra-wealthy),
        they are
                eroding the middle-class as quickly as they can--a
        strategy
                that maximizes disparity.
                >>>>
                >>>> The major thesis (in the U.S. context) is that the
                gradual shift in political control of the economy over the
                past 50 years by the ultra-wealthy has reached a kind of
                tipping point in which the gains in disparity are so
        dramatic
                as to overwhelm any sense of actual self-interest.
        Hence, we
                see increasingly irrational and self-destructive
        behavior by
                the ultra-wealthy (e.g., the fraudulent housing bubble
        that
                created what U.S. economists refer to as The Great
        Recession).
                The conclusion, of course, is a call to action to take
        back
                control of our political systems so we can set more
        rational
                policies for the economy.
                >>>>
                >>>> I don't know if this thesis extends so easily
        beyond the
                U.S. situation to the world, but if this project
        appeals, I
                would welcome a collaborative effort--perhaps even one
        that
                somehow encompasses the whole XMCA listserv as co-authors.
                >>>>
                >>>> David
                >>>>   >>>>
                >>>>     >>>>       >>>>        >>>   >>>     >>>      >>
                >>   >>    >
                >
                >
                >
                >
                >
>