The latest round of Capitalism Wars may have been kicked off by this post by Anti-Democracy Blog in which he advises us to “dump” something he calls “capitalism”.
Then Michael Anissimov posted an Evolian excerpt in which Jim detected the odor of Communism. Land loved Jim’s response. (And even if you disagree with Jim, you gotta admit he’s pretty lovable.) I thought Fuimus made an excellent stab at some middle ground on the issue:
I don’t know what “capitalism” is. I’ve never seen a “capitalism” in my life. Some people, like dirty smelly commies and much better groomed Sicilian noblemen, say capitalism is something the State can choose to have or have not. I say bologna. Politics is about power. By definition, the ruling elite that maintains the State has power over its subjects. It naturally wants more power, because power is security. The elites want security because they don’t want to end up dead or, worse, end up as common schmucks like you and me. The “ruling elite” and “common schmucks” are constants. They existed in communist Russia, democratic America, and beautiful Habsburg Vienna.
What people like Evola opposed was rule by merchants, because merchant classes tend to be groundless and amoral. Goldman-Sachs execs spilt their time (I imagine) between Manhattan, the Hamptons, Switzerland, London, the Dark Side of the Moon, and elsewhere. They (I imagine), don’t tend to conform to the social mores of Roman patricians or Medieval warrior-aristocrats–such as child-rearing, military service, and religious faith, because of attributes inherent to their profession. On their [own], they make a poor elite. But this is not “capitalism”.
Jim decided this was a teachable moment for us and provided some helpful notes on Capitalism and Entrepreneurial Capitalism in which we find “Capitalism”—a word whose wide usage in English seems to only have been as a response to “Communism”—actually dates back to Bronze Age civilization. According to Jim, double-entry accounting unleashed the great power of capitalism (gaining power and wealth through the use of wealth) by separating ownership of wealth from its management. He ends with the tale of Sarbanes-Oxley which may be slowly returning us to Bronze Age standards.
New International Outlook chimes in with Nietzschean Economics in which he attempts to reframe the discussion in terms of Anthropological Material Drive (AMD), which has at least the advantage of not summoning immediately to mind the images of fat, thick-whiskered, top-hatted bankers huskily plotting in dark rooms thick with cigar-smoke to find new ways to carve up the poor for breakfast.
My own theory of synthesis between the Capitalism-hating Ethno-Trads vs. Invisible-Hand Fetishist Post-Libertarians has to do with the deformities of Big Capitalism™ being caused and energized by Big Statism™; viz., that most of the bad stuff my Ethno-Trad friends rightly detest in the free markets come about not because the state failed to be a brake or a check on the free market, but because the state somewhere along the line actually cooperated with Big Capitalism™ to suppress the normal operation of the free market. As I said, it’s only a theory, but it isn’t getting much traction… the reason for that could be because it’s wrong.
Nick Land digs up Médaille’s 2009 Front Porch Republic piece The “One Salvation” of Ludwig von Mises and wonders whether reactionaries must choose between Mises or Jesus (or Moses) for their economic theories.
Finally, Neoreactionary Poet Laureate E. Antony Gray, aka. @RiverC the Polymath, delivered a fine bit of synthesis with There is No Such Thing as Capitalism over at J. Arthur Bloom’s Mitrailleuse:
In the same sense that the man [Obama] most people elected never existed, the Capitalism most people oppose or approve of doesn’t exist. And the only definition of it which makes any sense cladistically—that is, the practice of the Merchant class being applied to more sections of the economy and even society – is never really used. And if it is used it is used narrowly (to apply only to the Jews for instance) and so isn’t philosophically or analytically useful; it’s just a hammer that is convenient to be used against another thede. Therefore, we need a new term, a new symbol that clearly correlates to this cladistic entity, without confusing it with either a particular ethnic group, Private Control, or simply control by either the Bourgeoisie or those who ‘think like them’.
So repeat with me: Capitalism doesn’t exist. There is no Such Thing as Capitalism. If someone is using the term they’re only using it for effect: and that effect is to manipulate you.
That sounds about right. [Addenda: I just realized I left myself open to the inevitable anti-essentialist accusation again. But words used principally to manipulate should, for the purposes of clear thought, not be considered words. Personally, I like “catallaxy”.]