The History and Nature of Capitalism – Revised Version

March 16th, 2018

Exploring the Nature of Capitalism

… Latest version of the book (17 March 2018)

HTML Version» «EPUB Version:» «MOBI Version:» «PDF Version:»)
(This evolving version includes current additions/alterations since 10th November 2014. The latest update date is shown above.)

This version now includes an additional chapter, “The Nature and importance of Public and Private Credit”. This is a consolidation and reworking of the various footnotes developed in the previous version to address the need for progressive taxation and other processes of redistribution in democratically organized capitalist societies. It is inevitable, of course, that this chapter (and others) will further evolve over the coming months.

Minor revisions/additions occur regularly as new relevant studies appear and are integrated into the text – often as footnotes. When cumulative changes and/or reworking warrant it, the version date is altered to reflect this. All versions are regularly updated to include these changes.

A table of update dates from 01 January, 2016 has been included at the end of the book. Clicking on a date will move you to the update site (in the book). In HTML versions, right-click and select ‘Back’ to return to the list.

Changes are now marked with: {§} (dd/mm/yy). Inclusion of the date of each change enables searching for editorial changes using the date: e.g. ‘(20/03/16)’ will find changes made on March 20, 2016. Where the version (e.g. HTML) enables this, moving the mouse over the mark displays the date changes were made. To facilitate this, the HTML Reader includes several options in the ‘View’ drop-down menu list for searches by date and for accessing both recent changes and all changes made since the last revised version.

(Click here for a free (no-strings-attached) stand-alone Windows HTML Reader written for use in reading articles and books from this site. Includes an updatable copy of The History and Nature of Capitalism (Digital certification costs $500 a year (isn’t capitalism wonderful!), so this application is not digitally signed. You might be asked whether you ‘trust’ the provider when attempting to install it. If you are, click ‘Run Anyway’ to install it.))

For those who need an unchanging text, the version of the book The History and Nature of Capitalism, dated 10th November 2014 ( and earlier versions) can be accessed at the bottom of this page.

The Nature and History of Capitalism

It is said that the aphorism ‘Know Yourself’ was inscribed in the forecourt of the Temple of Apollo at Delphi. Finding out who we are can be an unsettling experience.

Not only do human beings gild memories of experiences in their own lifetimes, they are extremely adept at reinventing those of their historical past. It can be an educative experience to strip away what the French philosopher Voltaire called the ‘fable upon which we are all agreed’.

It’s time we, living in capitalist countries, got ourselves into perspective.

Over the past three centuries, people living in Western (capitalist) countries have increasingly imposed their understanding of reality on others. Now, they are becoming aware of a growing antipathy toward ‘The West’ around the world.

The late Henry Hyde’s view of the problems facing Western countries is not isolated,

Let us begin by accepting there is no single enemy to be defeated, no one network to be eliminated. Al-Qa’eda is but our most prominent opponent, but its outlook is shared by many others who are equally committed to our destruction…

We know now that we have permanent, mortal enemies who will seize upon our vulnerabilities to bloody us, to murder our citizens, to commit horror for the purpose of forcing horror upon us…
(US House of Representatives Committee on International Relations October 3 2001)

For the past decade the West has confronted what it perceives as a growing ‘climate of terror’ around the world.

While estimates vary, it is reasonable to say that thousands of lives have been lost and billions of dollars have been spent in pursuing, capturing and killing those deemed a threat to the security of Western nations.

It is time to take stock. Before continuing to pursue phantoms and shoot at shadows (and, in the process, alienate thousands caught in the crossfire) we need to understand what is producing this apparently burgeoning antipathy toward Western capitalist countries.

Western capitalist nations, over the past several centuries, have attempted to re-organize the world to reflect their understanding of reality. Although we often fail to recognize it, this requires a far-reaching reorganization of people’s lives in non-Western countries. It would be surprising if there was not, sooner or later, a reaction against such activity.


What is capitalism?

What gives people living by capitalist understandings of the world such a determination to reorganize the rest of the world to their understanding?

What is it that has produced in Western people such a deep need to dominate and change the world?

And, what impact does this attempt to reorganize the world have on people living in non-Western regions?


Previous versions compressed in zipped files:

«HTML and PDF Versions of EXPLORING_CAPITALISM_THE-BOOK_8th January 2011 in a zipped file»
«HTML and PDF Versions of EXPLORING_CAPITALISM_THE-BOOK-20th May 2012 in a zipped file»
«HTML and PDF Versions of EXPLORING_CAPITALISM_THE-BOOK_23rd November 2012 in a zipped file»
«HTML and PDF Versions of EXPLORING_CAPITALISM_THE-BOOK_16th March 2013 in a zipped file»
«HTML and PDF Versions of EXPLORING_CAPITALISM_THE-BOOK_10th November 2014 in a zipped file»

Bookmark and Share

Capitalism and Christmas: Peace on Earth?
Junk Drawer fillers, Trinkets and Collectibles

December 22nd, 2012
Exploring the Nature of Capitalism

Capitalism and Christmas: Peace on Earth?
Junk Drawer fillers, Trinkets, Collectibles, Fantasy, Resignation, Betrayal and Déjà Vu

Once again, it’s the week before Christmas. This is the time
when we, in the West, get ourselves into a festive mood; it’s “Ho, Ho, Ho, and Merry Christmas to you all!”.

But we won’t look too closely, or our tinsel brightened surroundings will lose their glitter; the despair of those who have found it all too much to bear will seep through and ruin our celebrations; we will see the reality, rather than the fantasy which we all so desperately want to be real.

So, what is that reality which we want to conjure up this Christmas?

… Read More

HTML Version »«EPUB Version: »«MOBI Version: »«PDF Version: »)

Bookmark and Share

We need Capitalism tempered with Wisdom: It is time to stop blaming the victims

December 4th, 2012
Exploring the Nature of Capitalism

Capitalism tempered with Wisdom

I couldn’t possibly enjoy my lifestyle without modern equipment. I live in a very privileged time. I’m not anti-capitalist, how could I be? I live in a capitalist world and I depend on the products of capitalist enterprise.

But, I know that we, as relatively intelligent beings, have a responsibility not only to enjoy life, but also to tailor our institutions and activities to ensure the greatest good for all; to enhance human welfare everywhere.

How appropriate for our times is the observation, made more than 2500 years ago and reiterated by humanity’s sages throughout history:

How much better to get wisdom than gold, to get insight rather than silver!…

Better to be lowly in spirit along with the oppressed than to share plunder with the proud.
(The Proverbs (16: 16, 19))

It would be truly delinquent to abdicate responsibility for our futures to those who have hijacked them; who have placed self-interested greed before human welfare and loudly insist that we are all better off for this.

We have a responsibility to mitigate the social and environmental consequences of the often antisocially driven predilections of a few real-world Scrooge McDucks who have plundered our communities and our environments for their private benefit.

It is not anti-capitalist to question the status quo. It is not ‘socialist’ to suggest that obscene accumulations of ‘wealth’ should be recycled back into the real-world economy of productive enterprise and social wellbeing; whatever might be claimed by those intent on protecting and ‘growing’ their ‘asset portfolios’.

But, I know that they already hold the high ground. They already control the opinion-shaping apparatuses of capitalism.

There is little or no scientifically valid data to support the claim that the wellbeing of the real economy and the social welfare of people requires that those who accumulate wealth should be able to keep it – as much as both the ideologically driven and wealth accumulators of the world might want us to accept this. Most of that accumulated wealth becomes trapped in vortex economic activity.

On the contrary, there is a great deal of scientifically validated evidence that, as Iglesias and de Almeida (2012, p. 85) put it, normal market exchange activity results in a concentration of wealth in very few hands:

…the system converges to a very unequal condensed state, where one or a few agents concentrate all the wealth of the society while the wide majority of agents shares zero or almost zero fraction of the wealth.

… in the low and middle income classes the process of wealth accumulation is additive (and mainly due to wages), causing a Gaussian-like distribution, while in the high income range, wealth grows in a multiplicative way, generating the observed power law tail.

… a frequent outcome in these models is condensation, i.e. concentration of all available wealth in just one or a few agents. This final state corresponds to a kind of equipartition of poverty: all agents (except for a set of zero measure) possess zero wealth while one, or a few ones, concentrate all available resources.

The system on which we rely for our well-being can only deliver a better quality of life for all if it is tailored to that end. Clearly, we need capitalism; but we need it shaped to the long-term benefit of all.

Let’s Stop Blaming Our Victims!

It really is time to ensure the well-being of all, not merely the absurd wealth of a few at the expense of the rest. As the US President Franklin D. Roosevelt, in a Message To Congress Reviewing The Broad Objectives And Accomplishments Of The Administration. June 8, 1934 explained during the 1930s ‘Great Depression’:

These three great objectives: the security of the home, the security of livelihood, and the security of social insurance–are, it seems to me, a minimum of the promise that we can offer to the American people.

… Read More

HTML Version »«EPUB Version: »«MOBI Version: »«PDF Version: »)

Bookmark and Share

Capitalism: How Expediency morphs into Reality

October 4th, 2012
Exploring the Nature of Capitalism

Capitalism: The art of successful business and politics (morphing expediency into ‘reality’)

Yesterday I witnessed an intriguing display of a common human aptitude for merging expediency and reality. A contender for the most powerful political position in the world, the United States presidency, apparently intuitively recognized what ‘needed to be said’ to gain an advantage, said it, and believed it! (This, coupled with a healthy dose of ‘Gish-Galloping’, can be extremely hard to counter in a time-regulated debate.)

Through much of the debate, he was neither ‘lying’ nor prevaricating; he really believed what he was saying. The problem is that I had on a number of previous occasions seen and heard him saying very different things, and he clearly believed those just as surely as yesterday he believed what ‘needed to be said’. And, this morphing of expediency into ‘reality’ did not disadvantage him. I woke this morning to a news item in which I was told that 65% of voting Americans declared Governor Romney the ‘Winner’ of the first presidential debate.

So, is Governor Romney unique in his ability to morph expediency into ‘reality’, or is this a common talent in the world in which he lives, one which many ‘successful’ people have?

I would contend that this is an ability common in both politics and business; one which enables those who have it to live confidently and comfortably in a constantly shifting reality; a reality determined by expediency. And, it seldom works to the disadvantage of those who possess it.

In both business and politics, over many years, I have personally, and disconcertingly, witnessed this time and again. At first I was bemused by it, unable to comprehend how apparently intelligent, rational people could change their positions so radically from day to day, month to month and year to year. Then I became angry, sure that such people were inveterate liars who considered me too stupid to see the inconsistency in their positions over time. It took me a long time to realize what was actually happening.

I think the penny dropped (to use an antiquated sterling expression) while I was doing fieldwork on a Pacific Island. I had lived on the island about ten years before and had, as anthropologists are wont to do, kept notes of my findings there. On my return I decided to explore some of the same issues I had studied previously. It was not long before I found that people were saying and doing things which were often diametrically opposed to those they had said and done during my previous stay. A lot had changed over the ten years, and people had adapted to the changes.

Because I was a little disconcerted to find often radical shifts in their behavior and understanding, I decided to discuss it with a few of them. I went through my previous notes, identified the people, understandings and situations which seemed now to be contradicted, and raised the issues with those concerned. To my surprise most of those with whom I spoke told me that I must have been mistaken: they had never believed or done those things of which I was now ‘accusing’ them. I didn’t press matters since some people were clearly upset by my suggestion that they had changed their positions over time, but they had!

Over many years I have come to realize that it is common for human beings to live in a ‘reality’ which minimizes strain and accommodates what is expedient. Some are more versatile in their ability to adapt their reality to fit their circumstances than others. And this, very often, makes them appear inconsistent or even untruthful to those of us with less talent for living in a kaleidoscopic reality. But they are not lying! They are merely telling the ‘truth’ of the moment.

Some, like Governor Romney, seem to display a chameleon-like ability to change their reality to fit their surroundings with remarkable agility.

This can provide a significant advantage in business negotiation! People might find you ‘unreliable’ but they also find it almost impossible to challenge your version of reality. Self-doubt creeps in as those with whom you deal attempt to come to terms with your changing reality and, in business, the one who hesitates is very often the loser!

In politics I have witnessed this effect over many years:

  • At one time or another, Saddam Hussein was champion of modernity, democracy and the West; and arch enemy of all.
  • At one time Iraq was a beleaguered nation in need of modern weapons and military training; and at another, a possessor and supplier of weapons of mass destruction (they didn’t exist, but there are still large numbers of people in Western countries whose reality requires that they did).
  • At one time the mujahedeen were an oppressed people in need of military aid; at another, they were members of the Taliban; morphing into Al Qaeda; arch enemies of all that was rational and true (they aren’t, weren’t and never will be, but large numbers of people in Western countries share a reality in which they are, were and will be).

One could continue with this game, but why bother. Suffice to say that for most human beings, reality is molded by expediency. In both Western politics and business, a talent for facilely shaping reality to coincide with expediency is of enormous advantage. How does one argue with or ‘expose’ someone who ‘really believes’ a constantly shifting reality and is able, convincingly, to present anyone who challenges that reality as an enemy of truth?

Bookmark and Share

Capitalism: Sovereign Debt, Quantitative Easing (QE) and the Vortex Economy

June 27th, 2012

Exploring the Nature of Capitalism

Where Has All the Money Gone?

Winter has come; the last leaves have blown from the deciduous
trees; their bare branches are silhouetted against a threatening, grey sky. There is a chill wind blowing squalls across the property. The chores are done, it’s time to go inside, stoke up the fire and… ?

So here I am, sitting at my desk, trying to find a reason not to succumb to the common early winter depression to which human beings so easily fall prey. And this year that is not as easy as usual.

In the simplistic models to which too many politicians and economists are addicted, pumping money into the economy through financial institutions should result in increased lending at cheaper interest rates. This should stimulate both consumption and productive enterprise. That increased activity should result in:

  • job growth,
  • consequent reductions in unemployment rates,
  • generation of new wealth, itself recycling into the economy,
  • resulting in ‘a take-off into self-sustained economic growth’
  • and consequent communal and individual wellbeing.

It sounds so logical – inevitable even! Yet, it hasn’t happened!

Here we are, half way through 2012, and unemployment levels in
Western countries have grown, not shrunk. Investment has stalled. There are increasing numbers of destitute people thronging the highways and byways of our cities – and even our country towns.

Nations are teetering on the brink of bankruptcy, and banks are still under threat! And all this was supposed to have been prevented by the wide range of ‘stimulus packages’ devised by our brightest economists and implemented by compliant governments. What on earth has gone wrong?

… Read More

HTML Version »«EPUB Version: »«MOBI Version: »«PDF Version: »)

Bookmark and Share

The Consequences of Capitalism: Is that a Road-Train behind those lights?

March 26th, 2012

Exploring the Nature of Capitalism

I was planting a couple of Silky Oak seedlings this morning, taking advantage of recent rain and the balmy early autumn climate to give them a good start before winter sets in. With a little luck, they should provide a pleasant background to my other plantings in the area (one should, they say, plan for one’s old age!)

Although I’ve had fairly frequent showers over the past few months, a dam which supported wildlife early in summer is now dry and a hole I dug for one of the seedlings was completely dry only 2-3 cm below the surface.

Knowing that, although we’ve had a couple of reasonable years, the odds are high that the next few years will be very dry, I extended the irrigation system to include them.

As I worked, my mind wandered to other things (as the minds of we elderly are wont to do!).

  • Why is it so hard for human beings to grasp the idea that their actions are affecting the planet on which they live (see The Exploited Planet)?
  • And, why is it that even if we knew how to guarantee a reasonable quality of life for all people on the planet (see Community Costs Are Production Costs), any democratically elected government which attempted to implement the necessary policies would be voted out of office?

Of course, I think I already know the answer to both questions!

First, the problem:

As a species we are unbelievably short-sighted.

Perhaps that is because we are still evolving into an intelligent species – not having got there yet, we can see problems, even devise solutions, but we can’t implement them!

Our curse (and possibly our future epitaph) is that we can see the consequences of our actions, but we can’t stop ourselves from producing those consequences.

Only a few short years ago it seemed inconceivable that Western nations would ever develop shale oil reserves, oil sands, tar sands or, more technically, bituminous sand. But we are!

Only a few short years ago, it seemed inconceivable that we would question the logic and necessity for minimum wages and conditions, old age pensions, unemployment benefits, free education and health care – but we are (see The removal of social costs from production and financial activity costs in Western economies has produced its inevitable consequence)!

Have we lost sight of the consequences of the directions we are taking?

I don’t think so – I think, rather, that we are unable to stop ourselves from heading there, even as we know that result! (See Public apathy over climate change unrelated to science literacy )

We are like moths flying into a flame;

like young rabbits running into the headlights of an approaching vehicle.

The rabbit metaphor is an apt one. As the various viruses which have been released over the years to control numbers have become decreasingly effective, rabbit numbers in my neck of the woods have begun to grow. Rabbits are not mindless breeders of offspring. They think about where their burrows should be located, looking for the least obvious, most protected places to which they can retreat.

They care for their young, and try to ensure adequate food and water. They nurture their young, teaching them to be alert to danger. But they can’t help themselves. They continue to exploit their environments until life becomes barely sustainable.

How unfortunate are the limitations of rabbit brains!

In important ways, our brains have served us little better than those of rabbits!

Our one advantage is (or should be) that we know that it is a vehicle that is approaching behind those headlights. We know that if we keep moving toward them, we are going to become road-kill!

So, why don’t we get off the road?

The answer(s):

There’s plenty of time!

Why forego the pleasures of running down the middle of the road when the vehicle is still so far away?

Nobody knows for certain that the vehicle will hit us. It might veer away before it reaches us; it might slow down and stop; it might turn out that being run down is a blessing not a catastrophe. Who knows?

So down the road we run, and the lights are getting brighter. We can even hear the sound of the tires on the road, but it’s not time to change direction yet!

Humans with rabbit brains!

There isn’t plenty of time – we’ve probably already run out of it!

And why should I care?

The seedlings are planted and looking good.

I’m on high ground.

I’m planting fire resistant trees like the silky oaks around the house and out-buildings.

I’m well protected from wild storms and floods.

I still have a lot to do to insulate myself from prolonged drought, but perhaps it won’t get that bad: after all, we got through the last prolonged drought with minor problems!

Perhaps my dogs and I can eat all those rabbits and hares around the property and start on the carp in the irrigation dam if we have to!

Who am I kidding? If that’s a road-train behind the lights then I guess there’s nothing I can do about it.

AND, OF COURSE, IT WILL ALL BE YOUR FAULT (don’t we always have to find someone else to blame)!!

For a few of the many indications of where we are heading in the near to medium future see:


Bookmark and Share

Capitalism: global restructuring, sovereign debt, benign bloc politics, safety nets and New Year’s resolutions

January 17th, 2012

Exploring the Nature of Capitalism

It’s a brand new year, the wrapping is only half off and it’s more than a little scary!

It’s time for New Year’s resolutions.

Let’s face it, we’ve lost control. Unregulated internationalized capitalism is in the driving seat, and it is demanding that countries, communities and individuals subordinate themselves to its needs and interests .

As countries find themselves with unmanageable sovereign debt , they are being subjected to ‘structural adjustment’ to make them more accountable – and vulnerable – to an internationalized capitalism which has gained the whip hand.

It now demands that we accept our lot; that we reduce our lives and our vision to its horizons; that we accept that we are nothing more than a malleable, expendable ‘workforce’ for its activities and a ‘consumer base’ for its products.

As this happens, you and I are similarly being ‘adjusted’ to the requirements of an unregulated capitalist world .

It’s time to take back control of our communities and our individual lives.

It’s time to make capitalism the servant and not the master of countries, communities and individuals.

… Read More

HTML Version »«EPUB Version: »«MOBI Version: »«PDF Version: »)

Bookmark and Share

Capitalism, the Spirit of Christmas, a Bleak New Year and a hollow feeling in the pit of the stomach

December 17th, 2011

Exploring the Nature of Capitalism

‘Tis the week before Christmas!

Apparently we’re not buying enough, not eating enough, not traveling enough, not decorating enough, not getting into the Xmas Spirit!

How on earth are we going to be able to afford Christmas this year? The credit cards are already ‘maxed out’. It’s going to be a tough new year!

And this was supposed to be a time when people stepped back from crass materialism, re-examined their lives, re-ordered their priorities, and shared their loaves and fishes.

Did you know that, in the US  and, yes, if you live in a Western country, almost certainly in your neck of the woods as well!:

While the top 1 percent have seen their incomes rise 18 percent over the past decade, those in the middle have actually seen their incomes fall.

For men with only high-school degrees, the decline has been precipitous—12 percent in the last quarter-century alone. All the growth in recent decades—and more—has gone to those at the top.

In terms of income equality, America lags behind any country in the old, ossified Europe that President George W. Bush used to deride. Among our closest counterparts are Russia with its oligarchs and Iran.
(Joseph Stiglitz, Of the 1%, by the 1%, for the 1% Vanity Fair, May 2011)


Income and wealth disparities become even more absurd if we look at the top 0.1% of the nation’s earners — rather than the more common 1%. The top 0.1% — about 315,000 individuals out of 315 million [in the US] — are making about half of all capital gains on the sale of shares or property after 1 year; and these capital gains make up 60% of the income made by the Forbes 400.
(Robert Lenzner ‘The Top 0.1% Of The Nation Earn Half Of All Capital Gains’ Forbes, Nov 21, 2011)


The vast majority of subprime mortgages — the loans at the heart of the global crisis — were underwritten by unregulated private firms.

These firms had business models that could be called “Lend-in-order-to-sell-to-Wall-Street-securitizers.”
(Barry Ritholtz ‘Examining the big lie: How the facts of the economic crisis stack up’ Washington Post November 20, 2011)

But, spare a thought, and, yes, a little sentiment too, for the millions of homeless, jobless, stressed people who have no idea where the next meal is coming from.

Thomas Jefferson was right, and I’m certain that there would be sadness in his voice as he contemplated 2011:

…they have divided their nations into two classes, wolves and sheep. I do not exaggerate. This is a true picture of [the Western World]. …man is the only animal which devours his own kind; for I can apply no milder term to the governments of [The West], and to the general prey of the rich on the poor.
(Thomas Jefferson, 1787)

No! this is not a call to become a wolf, and No! this is not a call to mob violence and ‘Western Spring’ revolution – that’s been tried before – unless you’re as old as I am you probably don’t remember the 1960s.

As the saying goes “The more things change, the more they stay the same”!

Let’s be genuinely revolutionary! Let’s start with ourselves.

We don’t have to consume to be happy (or if we do then we are really messed up!)

We don’t have to give large, expensive presents to show that we are ‘successful’.

We don’t have to travel to the ends of the earth to assuage our boredom.

We don’t have to respect and admire those who have turned wolf – even those who dress up in sheep’s clothing!

Let’s see them for what they are. People who, with no apparent empathy, readily strip the assets and well-being from fellow human beings. Who take their ‘earnings’, ‘invest’ them in large mansions, absurdly swollen bank accounts, stocks and shares and safety deposit boxes, and, all-too-often ostentatiously display their wealth – often through ‘philanthropic activity’.

Let’s learn to despise them for what they really are!

What? This is not the ‘Spirit of Christmas’?

Then what is the ‘Spirit of Christmas’ for you?


The Sweat Shop is the Destination – unless you’re protected!;

Economic Activity as Non-Social Activity and

Conglomerates and the progressive modernization of poverty

for discussion of what it means, and will increasingly mean, to live in a truly deregulated,  internationalized capitalist world.


Rage, rage against the dying of the light!


Bookmark and Share

Capitalism, Renewable Energy, Ennui and the Fabled Ostrich: this is as good as it gets!

November 12th, 2011

Exploring the Nature of Capitalism

We have reached the high water mark in our responses to climate change in Western countries.

Bold initiatives, contemplated over the past several years, such as:

  • subsidies to encourage the deployment of solar panels on house roof tops;
  • schemes aimed at making green house gas emissions costly, or at least of building the cost of emissions into production costings;
  • a range of re-forestation, biochar and similar programs to sequester carbon;
  • A range of CO2 ‘Capture and Storage’ projects

are now in retreat.

In Western countries, politicians who clearly disbelieve and dismiss the reality of climate change; who assume that claims of environmental damage resulting from capitalist activity are ‘socialist’ conspiracies, are winning political office. As they do, the first tentative advances made by their predecessors are being dismantled.

… Read more»
Bookmark and Share

9/11 and the nature of capitalism: “The once-distant prospect of terrorism has become an inescapable reality”

September 9th, 2011

Exploring the Nature of Capitalism

It is now 10 years since the events of 9/11, but the date and the events remain fresh in the minds of Western people everywhere.

Another year has passed and, once again, we have remembered the tragedy of September 11th 2001. But, this should not just be a time to remember the dead, it should also be a time of serious reflection.

The late Henry Hyde, then chairman of the U. S. Committee on International Relations, explained its consequences clearly:
With the September 11 attacks on the United States, the once-distant prospect of terrorism has become an inescapable reality for all Americans. The impact of this assault is greater than the tally of physical destruction, greater even than the tragic loss of life. The images forced into our lives are permanent ones.
The realization that human beings are capable of performing such deeds forces us to accept that evil still exists among us, especially in our modern era when many had hoped it might be abolished altogether…

But what does this mean?

  • Are we now to live in permanent fear in our own country and adopt a defensive crouch as part of our national character?
  • Do we remake our country and communities into fortresses?
  • Must we sacrifice our entire foreign policy agenda in order to address this suddenly urgent problem?

Events, since that day, demonstrate the truth of Henry Hyde’s observation:

The realization that human beings are capable of performing such deeds forces us to accept that evil still exists among us…

Our response to the tragedy compels us to ask those questions once again:

  • Do we now live in permanent fear in our own countries?
  • Have we adopted a defensive crouch as part of our national character?
  • Have we remade our countries and communities into fortresses?
  • Have we sacrificed our foreign policy agenda in order to address what has become a perennially urgent problem?
  • Have we, in responding to the perceived terrorist threats of the past ten years,
    • forfeited our freedoms,
    • and created hidden, poorly regulated institutions to root out both real and imagined threats in our own countries and communities?
  • Have we trampled on the rights and freedoms of other countries and communities in our determination to protect ourselves from new assaults (whether real or imagined), not only to intercept and frustrate them, but to eliminate new threats at their source?

If the answer to any or all of these is ‘Yes’ then we have headed down a dangerous path.

Henry Hyde’s vision of the future might well be mild compared to that which we will bequeath our children and their descendants.

Bookmark and Share

Capitalism and parables: It’s all about gardening!

July 17th, 2011

Exploring the Nature of Capitalism
(Access book of the previous category: The History and Nature of Capitalism)

Look around you – wherever you live – and you will see the result of uncontrolled capitalism. It is rampant. It has out-competed all other forms of material need and want provision and, in the process, has choked communities and fouled environments.

Thoroughly regulated and subordinated to the requirements of communities, it can be a positive, very effective means of material need and want provision. Unregulated and internationalized, it rapidly grows into a rampant ecological and social disaster.

The problem is not capitalism, it is us!!

Read more.…

Bookmark and Share

Global Capitalism and the Torrent of Garbage

April 21st, 2011

Exploring the Nature of Capitalism
(Access book of the previous category: The History and Nature of Capitalism)

Everywhere, human beings are generating more and more waste.

We might talk about recycling. We might even indulge in a limited attempt at it (I have a special roadside bin provided by the local council in which various kinds of ‘recyclable’ materials are placed), but the amount of waste dumped into landfills grows each year.

No matter how much recycling we indulge in, the simple fact is that corporations extracting resources to feed the industries we demand, are entering a boom period. The future, for them, is record profits and rapid expansion! Recycling is barely a blip on their rose-tinted horizons.

In this post we examine some of the solid waste difficulties being experienced around the world.  We all understand what is causing the problem:

Capitalism requires us to continue to consume at an ever-expanding rate:

If we don’t:

  • our economies will falter,
  • people will lose their jobs,
  • our futures will be bleak.

If we do:

  • our economies will be ‘healthy’
  • we will have full employment,
  • and our futures …

And, Garbage is the least of our problems!

In the early 21st century forested, pastoral, agricultural and horticultural regions of the world are facing serious:

  • agricultural chemical pollution,
  • water-logging,
  • salinity,
  • over-grazing,
  • deforestation,
  • land erosion,
  • desertification,
  • increasingly erratic climatic conditions,

… Read More
(Download free HTML Reader)

HTML (zipped ‘.htm’ file) Version
Kindle (zipped ‘.mobi’ file) Version
Ebook (zipped ‘.epub’ file) Version
Ebook (zipped ‘.pdf’ file) Version

Bookmark and Share

Exploring Capitalism – Revised version of Book

March 23rd, 2011

Exploring the Nature of Capitalism

A revised version of the book The History and Nature of Capitalism, dated 23rd March 2011 has now been posted here and can be accessed below.

This revision includes an addendum examining the nature of exchange and reciprocity and the importance of these in understanding the nature of capitalism.

If there is a single defining feature of Western capitalism, it might well be the peculiar definition of exchange which lies at its core. If we can get that definition of exchange into perspective, it will help us to get capitalism into comparative perspective.

… Read the book
Download free HTML Reader
HTML Version» «EPUB Version:» «MOBI Version:» «PDF Version:»)

Bookmark and Share

The History and Nature of Capitalism: The Book

January 11th, 2011

Revised Version has been posted for this book:

… Read the book

HTML Version» «EPUB Version:» «MOBI Version:» «PDF Version:»)

It is time to draw the threads together and present the articles in this blog series on capitalism as an integrated whole. The result is a book entitled The History and Nature of Capitalism which includes rewritten versions of 9 of the Capitalism blog entries, linked through a wide range of clickable footnotes (obviously this is all designed as an ebook (a hard copy version would make for a very unwieldy book)).

I have reworked each of the articles to take into account ideas developed in later entries and, also, to address issues which have emerged in the course of this rewriting. I reserve the right, as I return to the text from time to time, to alter anything I decide needs further reworking.

I think this is one of the real virtues of the ebook format – nothing needs to be set in stone (or paper) and so mistakes, careless language, loose thinking, and material which is being misunderstood or misinterpreted can be addressed over time. If major changes are made I’ll signal this by posting a new version showing the revision date.

The book, like the earlier blog entries, has been written using the Complete Home Library application’s HTML editor. This application is available for download (sorry, I have only written a Windows version of it).

A library of the blog entries is also available for download, for use in the application. To access it, select ‘Download demonstration libraries’ from the Help menu in the main Complete Home Library screen. From the HTML page which is accessed, select the library ‘Anthropology and the Western World (updated 8th October 2010)’ and download it to your computer desktop. Leave it on your desktop, the application will unpack it if it is already running or will unpack the downloaded file when you next run it.

The download versions of the book below, present the complete set of writings in a form which will allow you to follow footnoting to other sections of the book without having to be connected to the internet. If you move to other sections, and want to return to your place in the book, right-click and select the option ‘back’, this will return you to your previous location.

I have left the ‘Comments’ option for each of the chapters so that, should something occur to you while reading, or should you have suggestions for improving the content, you can provide feedback for each section. To comment on the whole book, please use the Comments option below. I assure you that I do take into account the ideas of others in developing mine.

Spring has arrived in my neck of the woods, the lawns are growing so fast you can almost see the grass getting longer, and there is much to do in the garden so I’ll concentrate on that for the next couple of months (and, yes, I will find time to take the boat out once in a while (life is hell!)). But, I will be back.

The next series will focus on the present impact of capitalism, both on people and on our environments. I look forward to sharing ideas with you then.

… Read the book

HTML (zipped ‘.htm’ file) Version
Kindle (zipped ‘.mobi’ file) Version
Ebook (zipped ‘.epub’ file) Version
Ebook (zipped ‘.pdf’ file) Version
(with clickable footnotes – if you’re using a PDF Reader which recognises them – Try Foxit Reader if your’s doesn’t)

Bookmark and Share

Capitalism and a Commoditised World

September 7th, 2010

Exploring the Nature of Capitalism

The posts to this blog category have been reorganised as a book entitled The History and Nature of Capitalism which includes rewritten versions of 9 of the Capitalism blog entries, linked through a wide range of clickable footnotes (obviously this is all designed as an ebook (a hard copy version would make for a very unwieldy book)).

The book can be accessed from here: The History and Nature of Capitalism: The Book

We, in Western communities, live in a commoditised world. In a manner never before seen in human society, Western peoples convert anything and everything into money-making commodities – objects which can be exploited for profit – and believe that it is ‘natural’ to do so. Vast financial and promotional industries have grown over the past three hundred years, driven by and dedicated to the commoditisation of the world.

The Western need to accumulate money inevitably results in more and more of the forms of activity, interaction and organisation which people perceive as important to themselves, being exploited for profit. The consequence is the commoditisation of society.

To understand the nature and consequences of this burgeoning commoditisation of everything around us, we need to ask why we feel such a deep need to accumulate material wealth; to make everything around us a source of material profit.

… Read More

HTML (zipped ‘.htm’ file) Version
Kindle (zipped ‘.mobi’ file) Version
Ebook (zipped ‘.epub’ file) Version

Bookmark and Share