Archives for posts with tag: Adam Smith

The woke left is merciless in their destruction of sacred institutions: marriage and education, obviously; the institution of baby making; and of course, language. In a world where everyone is is a Nazi just for harmlessly protesting against draconian mask mandates, the word has lost all meaning. If everyone is racist, then no one is, and we can all go home. It’s safe and warm at home, and the woke left can’t get you because of Stand Your Ground laws.

It takes a good guy with a gun to stop a bad guy with a chainsaw and a liberal agenda

Now. Marriage is obsolete in that it serves only to legitimize through legal recognition particular and rigid definitions of relationships. Education is classist and functions only to produce efficient workers for the ownership class. Abortion is health care and functions only to provide women control over their means of production. And finally, only racist things are racist. But Blog For Chumps, you might ask, not knowing that a human being with a name and feelings is writing this, how can we know what is and is not racist when the woke left keeps calling helpless truckers Nazis?

I agree. Racism can be hard to point out, but not always – sometimes it is really obvious! When the NFL handles concussion payouts racistly by paying black players less because they are assuming that black people have fewer brain cells than their white counterparts and therefore don’t require as much relative compensation for their loss, that’s pretty heckin’ racist! That was in 2021, after Trump was robbed of his permanent leadership position, and racism in America was supposed to have ended for the second time. I guess we’re still reaching for that rainbow that I don’t see the colour of.

If you see them, you’re a racist

Easy stuff! But like, now climate change is racist? Apparently rich, whiter countries only superficially care about the climate even as poorer, darker countries are literally disappearing into the ocean! It seems like this just might be a world-ending emergency that ought to have an equivalent urgency, but like… the value of bank-owned debt is going down, so let’s focus on that instead. Entire countries can be underwater, either temporarily or on the verge of permanency, but so long as predominantly white countries only have slightly warmer weather, it is politically and socially “no biggie.” Racism!

Also journalism is racist. Again, sometimes very obviously. But not always, because sometimes all racism needs is a mostly white authorship being edited by a mostly white editing team for a mostly white audience, and with all those blind-spots and biases, POOF! You’ve got yourself a racism! What gets labeled as “exotic” or “undiscovered”? Undiscovered by whom? How are stories about race treated? What language gets used? When the authors are a monolith, you typically get the same kind of answers.

How do you think they pronounce ‘pho’?

But Blog For Chumps, you might persist, ruthlessly obstinate in your sobriquet, how can climate change or journalism call someone the N word? If abstract ideas are racist, does that mean we have to actually educate ourselves on how systems work in order to understand why rabid woke mobs keep calling random things racist? Probably. I mean you could take their word for it, I suppose. Who has time for a university degree?

But you don’t have to worry about going into impossible amounts of debt, forcing a lifetime of indentured servitude to your capitalist masters, just to learn about racism, so long as you understand the most racist abstract concept of all: capitalism. It’s capitalism. It’s always capitalism. I just said it like, within the same run-on sentence. You really should have seen this coming.

A fair and reasonable depiction.

Capitalism is all about private ownership and the profit motive. If a business owner is content with their normal amount of sales, they’re not innovating new and exciting logos for their carbonated beverage, and a disaster worse than climate change will befall us all if Apple stops releasing numerically-sequential iPhones until the sun goes out. Capitalists always need more – that’s the profit motive. And the ownership of these businesses needs to be centralized to a minority who make all the decisions because… reasons. I guess maybe to sell the illusion that you too can become a billionaire? With so few of them, it’s a lot easier to learn their names, so we all can aspire to be just like Jim Emerald-Mine Jr.! You too can escape the grind if you just keep that grindset!

How can a violently-enforced hierarchy that exploits and oppresses its lowest rungs to maximize profit be categorized as racist? To understand this head scratcher, we have to turn to a controversial historical economist with an extremist ideology who would have strong criticisms of today’s capitalism: Adam Smith.

Smith teaches us that value comes from labour. When a miner extracts a mineral from a mountain, they are adding value to the rock by turning it into, say, lithium. When the driver takes that lithium from the quarry to the battery factory, they are adding value by changing the location of that lithium to a place where more shit can be done to it. When the factory worker turns that lithium into a battery, they are adding even more value to what was once a far-away rock. If that battery was sold as is, each labourer would get back what they added to the product. With capitalism, the owner of this operation needs money too, so they add what’s called surplus value on top of all this already-established value, and they get that money just for tagging along.

It was a Christmas miracle!

Now, the labour theory of value isn’t actually how market prices are determined: they’re determined by supply and demand. However, the importance of Adam Smith’s Marxist idea of a labour theory of value comes from how it shows the relationship of profit to labour. If the price of that battery is determined by supply and demand, the profits of the organization still need to supersede the value of the labour added to the original mountain rock (through wages, benefits, etc… the intrinsic value of the labourer to the labour process, i.e. the price of human dignity).

But what if… what if, Blog For Chumps, what if… we cut down on human dignity in a market where prices are determined by supply and demand? If we ignore the value of the labourers, ignore their dignity, then we could make MORE profit. If the price is fixed elsewhere, but the value of labour is lessened, then the surplus increases regardless of how the market sets the price! Capitalism, as established, is built on the profit motive, so the idea of ignoring the dignity of workers is inherent to the process. Crucial to the definition of capitalism, workers are not in charge of making any decisions, so they are necessarily secondary to the primary mandate – to make the owners money.

Of course, someone needs to buy that battery. That’s why Henry Ford decided that maybe the local community ought not to be entirely destitute, and decided to pay his workers a living wage. Talk about a rock bottom moment when capitalism is forced to take care of its workers because its contradictions have gotten to the point where no one has any money except for the ownership class who already get their Model Ts at the corporate rate.

This accident is perpendicular to the road, without an apparent intersection. This must have been before drunk driving laws were a thing.

Luckily for capitalism, it gets to have its cake and eat it too! What if there could be a middle class to buy all the random garbage we keep producing at a planetary expunging rate, and also a class of people that we could mercilessly exploit for profit? Enter racism, stage left.

What if we could move labour to countries of colour, murderously exploit the people there with low wages and inhumane working conditions, and then sell that shit back to white people? Seems like the best of both worlds! We can even utilize dog whistles like saying that these foreigners are taking the jobs of white people, and then the white people here will get angry at them coloured folks rather than the system that makes this method of doing business the most profitable! Remember how Asians took all our manufacturing jobs? They took them. It’s not that corporations moved their operations to where labour is cheaper and has fewer safety regulations, they took them. If we want those jobs back, we have to lower our OWN wages and eliminate our OWN safety regulations! That’s harder to pitch (though they will try!) so capitalists will keep killing Asian people, either by suicide or by explosion, just because the people buying the products made by these dying Asians do not give a single fuck – because, perhaps you’ve noticed the theme, of carefully manufactured racism.

If things are bad, it’s not because of anything we’re doing, it’s because of those funny looking people over there!

Radical Adam Smith fanatic Noam Chomsky argues that capital crossing borders under the guise of corporate personhood, with intra-corporate “trade” crossing the Mexican border unperturbed by any wall, reveals the hypocrisy of this ideology. There is unanimous political agreement that capital ought to be able to cross any border to maximize this exploitative phenomenon. The lithium ought to go to where it is cheapest to manufacture into batteries, and so rich countries need “free trade” deals with poorer countries in order to have the absolute minimal amount of value-added to their product before they sell it. But human persons can’t cross the border; they are told, “Do not come.” It’s equally unanimous. I mean, they do actually want you to come – who else is going to clean toilets on the cheap? They just want you to be desperate. The less value as a person you have, the more worth you have to capitalism. Republicans know that a wall won’t stop desperate people, they just want them to be that much more desperate so that they will complain less about the conditions of their exploitative labour. Or compete with white folks who will then have to accept worse conditions in competition with these desperate migrants and refugees! Wouldn’t it be wild if we convinced those white folks that this was the fault of the family running away from a cartel-backed death squad instead of seeing them as allies against those who would exploit them both? Wouldn’t it be absolutely wild? Such a group would likely fixate on culture war issues like the threats of race and immigration, pedophiles within the LGBT community, and the depiction of women in superhero movies while the policies they implement would focus on tax cuts for wealthy individuals and corporations, anything to make their followers myopically fixate on a hated Other. Surely such tactics would be so obvious that they would never be considered a serious organization.

I’m clearly hilariously satirizing the Republican party, but the Democrats aren’t much better. Welfare capitalism is at its core a strategy to ensure that those on the bottom rungs are just comfortable enough that they don’t rebel against the system that determines their lot. It’s the Henry Ford version of capitalism – adding a bit of seasoning to the scraps so that the poors have just enough to still participate within capitalism. Liberals are still very capitalistic, but the Right will still misname welfare spending as socialist because irrespective of how capitalistic it remains, they recognize the anti-capitalist nature of acknowledging basic human rights.

If we admit that we don’t want human beings to die, they might actually thrive and then demand even more rights like decent wages or living conditions! Better to dehumanize them to the point where their deaths are actively sought.

In theory, a free market would require the free mobility of labour equivalent to the free mobility of capital to ensure the invisible hand is determined by market forces appropriately, but because capitalism utilizes racism to maximize the profit motive, we get the Chinese Head Tax and all sorts of other racisms to keep racialized workers desperate enough to accept poor wages. I almost wrote “slave wages” there! Haha that would have been a goof! That would allude that capitalism has been relying on racist machinations for much longer than globalization has been around! I mean, is slavery an obvious example that I didn’t even touch on that highlights the blatant exploitation of a racialized class labouring for the profits of a rich, white minority? Have capitalists been using racism since slavery ended to divide a diversity of workers against their natural class solidarity? The answer, of course, is yes.


Deep breaths.

I mean… if a business was structured in such a way that there was no hierarchy and instead functioned democratically… that kind of a horizontal system would no longer require a necessarily exploited group! I mean, it wouldn’t be capitalist because businesses would be collectively owned instead of privately, but private ownership of the means of production is… kinda racist. It’s not that everything is racist, just the things that propagate capitalism are racist! Mystery solved!

The fundamental aspect of capitalism is supposedly competition. Businesses compete against each other for customers, and it is that competition that keeps the game fair. If one company behaves poorly, customers will take their dollars elsewhere and that company will fail. This keeps companies honest in order to maintain a solid customer base. This competitive drive to succeed among all participants creates a so-called “Invisible Hand” of the market that keeps it fair as companies compete against other companies, and the aggregates of supply and demand will fall into harmony to provide a equitable cost for everyone involved.

However, competition is just a euphemism, or a deliberate deception depending on how cynical you want to be, for the real essence of capitalism: conflict. A “by-any-means-necessary” attitude is taken towards financial gain, and governments must impose very strict regulations on companies in order to prevent them from undercutting their “competition.” Corporate espionage, predatory pricing, monopolization, etc. are all fraudulent, non-competitive methods of achieving victory that are quite illegal (regardless of how frequently they might still happen). This is technically considered government regulation, which pure capitalism would frown upon. If businesses act closer to rival gangs than two opponents having a race, then this illustrates the non-competitive nature of capitalism, because in a race, you don’t win by cutting the Achilles tendon of your opponent. Well, maybe you do, but you’d have a hard time legitimately defining it as a fair competition. Capitalism, left to its own devices, would not achieve harmonious balance, it would devolve into the last scene of The Godfather. Or… whichever scene is the one where Michael has all the other heads of the families killed. It’s near the end, anyway.

Conflict also appears between businesses and employees. Adam Smith suggested in the Wealth of Nations that business owners will try to get as much out of their employees for as little pay as possible, and employees will try to do as little for as much pay as possible. When both sides are attempting to gain exponential financial growth, this conflict is surely to blossom. Problems of course arise when employers hold all the cards, and this one-sided battle will naturally escalate into as close to slavery as the company is socially allowed to get away with.

Smith writes that if there are fewer people around to do the work, then employers will have raise wages and working conditions in order to get employees to work for them; after all, a business will not function without workers. This will allow families to grow and people to immigrate, increasing the population, and allowing wages to be lowered. On the flip side, if there are too many people around, then wages and working conditions will decrease. The Invisible Hand will create balance this way by having people starve to death until the number of people decrease to accommodate a natural wage/workload equilibrium. The problem that Smith is forgetting, outside of this abhorrent solemn acceptance that people are just going to have to suffer and die for this system of economics to function properly, is the unwavering spirit to live that human beings possess. We do not just lay down to starve and die when things are oppressive and tough. A good many Jewish people survived the Holocaust if they weren’t killed outright. Therefore all the oppressive measures will forever remain in place if businesses are allowed to have their way, unchecked. Also, considering the globalization that has occurred since Smith’s time, businesses can now just move their production to parts of the world where the human capital is highest, and can exploit the world to their hearts content.

To even things up a bit, workers have come up with their own solution: unions. Unions were invented to create an opposition to the tyranny of management. Within a capitalistic system, unions are a definitive necessity to avoid the inevitable slavery that allowing management to have absolute power would produce, but this is replacing slavery with strife. Unions are not designed to work with management, but against it. Allowing either side to “win” this capitalistic conflict would either bankrupt the company financially or morally. Within capitalism, for it to be “fair”, workers and management need to be forced into an eternal struggle wherein neither side can emerge victorious.

If we are trying to avoid this union/management rivalry, the government can regulate businesses to provide humanistic working conditions and wages, which again is outside of pure capitalism.

To further show the all-encompassing nature of conflict within capitalism, we come to the remaining participants of the economic system: the patrons. The very essence of supply and demand is that customers will try to get the best product for the least amount of money, and businesses will try to get the most money for the cheapest product. This means that businesses will cut corners to provide substandard products, and use guile and propaganda to persuade the masses to purchase their products regardless. Businesses work under the mantra to buy from the lowest bidder and sell to the highest one. This creates inferior, often dangerous products, that only through government regulation can be reigned in. The “Buyer Beware” practice of the past proved fatal, as all businesses will invariably take the cheapest route, and when that route involves lead, for example, and consumers have no other alternatives, it is up to an overseeing, regulatory body to make sure companies do not put literal poison in their products.

As in all conflicts, there are losers. What capitalism fails to take into account, either through apathy or ignorance, is what to do with those losers. The only solution capitalism offers is to try again within the same framework. Pull yourself up by your bootstraps. But those who lose in a conflict will always be starting again with much less, and in a dog-eat-dog system that is just a set-up for further failure.

Alternatively, a government which provides for those who slip through the cracks, such as through a welfare system or other social programs, could potentially salvage the losers from the depths of the capitalistic war.

There are social costs to capitalism as well: We are alienated from our neighbours by having our typical everyday social interactions with strangers taking place within the realm of conflict. It’s why both people on either side of the Starbucks counter hate each other. The division of labour, though it cuts costs and increases production, means that the people we depend on are strangers a thousand miles away, rather than those who live within our community. Friends and families are often torn apart over issues of money because each transaction will always be tainted with self-interest and greed; the fundamental tenets of capitalism.

Capitalism also prioritizes short-term gains over long-term problems. We destroy the environment, our planet, for the sake of a few dollars. We create economic bubbles by creating and profiting off of a market of debt. We lay off employees to save a few bucks, and then go under completely because we now deliver a shoddier product (eg. the entire state of Michigan).

There is planned obsolescence, where new products are designed to either break or go out of style so that the consumer will have to purchase a new one. Repairing items now is more expensive than a new purchase, furthering this drive to consume more, and in the end, waste more.

There are so many more examples of the inherently flawed aspects of capitalism. I am probably missing some key elements already, and I’m not even bothering to cover distinct examples of companies doing atrocious things for the sake of profits, or how governments subsidize big businesses to the point where even calling it capitalism is a joke. Some argue the capitalism works because it plays to our human nature: self-interested and savage, and that any other system we try would inevitably follow the same patterns. I disagree, but getting into what I believe constitutes human nature is a tangent that will be discussed in a future blog.

Some might argue that without capitalism we would not have the advances in our society that we all enjoy, that it is because of the promise of wealth and fame that people are inventing things. But studies have shown us that money as motivation is actually counter-intuitive to the creative process, and only works for menial, brainless labour. What is necessary for inventive creation is freedom, and capitalism works as a barrier to that freedom because of the walls that those we are in conflict with place in front of us. How much better would computing technology be if Microsoft and Apple didn’t manhandle the market so that no new contributors could participate? How would the electric car be doing if the oil and gas industry didn’t have their say?

As we have seen, the only way for capitalism to “work” is with heavy government regulation and social programs to make sure that we don’t devolve in corporate feudalism and gang wars. And by that point you’re already basically at socialism. So why bother?

Many people assume that philosophy is actually pretty useless. It can really only get you a job teaching philosophy, and its practical uses are pretty much nil. You can’t eat it; it can’t move you about on four wheels, or even two wheels, so why bother?

If Socrates was a real person, he might have said that “the unexamined life is not worth living”. It is better to critically analyse yourself and your surroundings as it will lead to a more fulfilling existence than not doing these things. John Stuart Mill, someone who is definitely a real person, said:

It is indisputable that the being whose capacities of enjoyment are low, has the greatest chance of having them fully satisfied; and a highly endowed being will always feel that any happiness which he can look for, as the world is constituted, is imperfect. But he can learn to bear its imperfections, if they are at all bearable; and they will not make him envy the being who is indeed unconscious of the imperfections, but only because he feels not at all the good which those imperfections qualify.

It is better to be a human being dissatisfied than a pig satisfied; better to be Socrates dissatisfied than a fool satisfied. And if the fool, or the pig, is of a different opinion, it is only because they only know their own side of the question.

Being able to think critically, not only about yourself but about the world, can have some practical effects as well, such as the ability to engage in political debate or understand social issues that might pertain to your community or yourself. But perhaps this is a little too pretentious. There are those who would argue that the simple life has its own merits, and that being able to enjoy a cold beer and a football game is the greater experience over fretting over the validity of escapism.

If one accepts that scientific pursuit is of value, such as finding out which elements make up a rock on the moon, then perhaps one might expect there to be value in questioning why there are rocks on the moon in the first place. Martin Heidegger’s question, “Why are there essents (translation: things that exist) rather than nothing?” is described as being the original philosophical question. Why even is there a universe wherein rocks and moons can exist? If curiosity in regards to the material universe is valid outside of the drive for profits, then it follows that curiosity in regards to other aspects of the universe is equally valid.

Maybe a materialist would argue that there cannot be anything other than an empirical universe and so to question why things are is meaningless, but Karl Jaspers raises an interesting counterpoint:

“If by “world” I mean the sum of all that cognitive orientation can reveal to me as cogently knowable for everyone, the question arises whether the being of the world is all there is.”

 It is a little naïve and narcissistic to think that only what we can experience with our heavily flawed sensory organs, or comprehend within the limits of our human intellect, is all that there can possibly be within this universe. Friedrich Nietzsche puts it even less politely:

“Would it not be rather probable that, conversely, precisely the most superficial and external aspect of existence—what is most apparent, its skin and sensualization—would be grasped first—and might even be the only thing that allowed itself to be grasped? A “scientific” interpretation of the world, as you understand it, might therefore still be one of the most stupid of all possible interpretations of the world, meaning that it be one of the poorest in meaning.”

 I do appreciate a man who flat out calls science stupid.

But maybe you reject metaphysics. Maybe this is all there is, or you subscribe to the belief that if we can’t experience it, or it doesn’t materially affect the universe in such a way that we can measure it, then it is, again, meaningless and pointless to discuss. Of course this doesn’t take into account that we could possibly experience it in some way outside of our sensory or intellectual selves (for example the accumulation of Karma, perhaps, which affects us but not in a way that we would ever be able to materially measure) but let’s just ignore that point for now. Let’s say this is all there is.

Do you think that it’s important to discuss what’s good and bad? Or even to come up with an idea as to what “good” even means? Heidegger agrees that there is no imminent practical use of philosophy, but says, “We cannot do anything with philosophy, [but] might not philosophy, if we concern ourselves with it, do something with us?” Adam Smith was a philosopher of economics, from whence we obtained capitalism which now dictates how our entire world is run. Karl Marx and John Maynard Keynes have offered their own views on the economy which have affected the world in their own significant ways as well. The philosophy of René Descartes dictates how we view our sense of self: as a discrete subject separate from the rest of the universe. Philosophy can change entire paradigms.

But maybe changing the world still isn’t good enough. You want a practical job that’s not a professor. Something with prestige. Plato argues that philosophy isn’t only practical, but it is the ideal for leadership. He advocates that any type of ruler should be a philosopher in its most literal sense, as a lover of knowledge. A lover of knowledge would endlessly pursue it, and in doing so would be able to apply any knowledge gained to the society underneath him or her. With knowledge as one’s passion, the love of power would not exist, and there would be a disdain for rule that the philosopher would possess: another quality for governance that Plato found necessary.

So start a revolution based off of The Republic, and then your philosophy major can finally net you a ballin’ career path… which, um… upon reflection, still doesn’t actually pay all that well.