Commentary on Political Economy

Saturday 3 September 2011

The Society of Capital - An Explication

Friends who visit this site will have become familiar with the expression 'The Society of Capital'. At first, this phrase may sound like an oxymoron - "capital" is "privatistic" by definition, the whole notion of capital entails the "private ownership of the means of production", so how can it form a "society"?

The answer lies in the notion of "private ownership". What does that mean? It means that some people have property rights over social resources - resources that are always social because we are not "individual human beings" but we are rather "species-conscious being human" - to the exclusion of other people. Therefore, these "owners of capital" decide how when and what social resources are utilised and to what end.

So it turns out that "private property" is really a "political" form of the organisation of social resources, including social labour. That means that even "private property" needs its "society" - it needs to organise social resources in a way that does not interfere with its "remaining" private property. Every time a social crisis occurs that requires the "socialisation" of resources - which means the "democratic consensus" of the vast proportion of the persons in a society - the State that takes charge of this crisis (the Crisis-State) has to ensure that those resources are "re-privatised" as quickly as possible so that the delusion or illusion of "private ownership" and "market competition" can be maintained - this is what is at the heart of the Gold Standard mythology, as we saw below.

The reason why the Crisis-State has todo this is that it decides for and on behalf of the minority who already own most of the social wealth or social resources and determine the political composition of the Crisis-State, down to whether Obama gets to be re-elected next year.

But here the problems start for "the society of capital"!! Because there is a clear and obvious contra-diction between the needs of "society" and the needs of "capital". Society requires that certain measures be adopted to prederve its "reproduction". But capital requires not just the preservation of the "society", but also the reproduction of "the society of capital" - in other words of a society that preserve the "private property rights" of some of its members. But when these property rights themselves place the "society" at risk (!), then there is a deadly threat posed to society as a whole! This is what we call "systemic risk". And here below is a brilliant example of how the Crisis-State is caught in a bind every time it wishes "to discipline" private corporations when these "private" corporations pose a "systemic risk" to.... "the society of capital", that is to say, to a "society" whose very "survival" is dependent on the decisions of "private owners"! Here is the article from MarketWatch: (Contradiction, conflict of govt. punishing systemically risky banks)

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