On Being in Economics

Featured Image by Jax Ko

A Philosophical Foundation for the Critique of Capitalism

Everything in the world that is bought and sold using currency can be defined by its market in the economy. Every aspect of life is commodified for the marketplace, from drinking water to wiping our ass. How we sleep, what we eat, how we clothe ourselves, on and on are the commodities and products traded with currency. More people are embedded in the marketplace than ever before, which is the natural progression of capitalism, although the progress of human civilization can be traced tens of thousands of years before today’s dominant model of democratic capitalism was introduced. The systems humans create are never perfect and are always replaced. The time is coming soon for the death of capitalism simply because it is old. Emerging from the west in the 1500’s, its core principles of resource exploitation are incompatible with global principles, and in a new technological era, there are innumerable solutions to global demand for food, energy, and housing.

Fewer and fewer people who do not trade the products of their existence with money dwell on the Earth. These few are “off the grid” and learn how to live in harmony with the Earth — with high technology or old world pagan tradition — and therefore circumvent the encroaching marketplace. But the force of the marketplace has made such a world where simply dwelling in it is being taken off the table. Earth is human property, yet it does not belong to the people: the paradox of democratic capitalism. Merely one hundred years ago, if you were born in Papua New Guinea, you hadn’t a clue about capitalist notions, you simply dwelled in your environment, and you ate from the table of God.

Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? – Matthew 6:26

This viewpoint, purported by Jesus, came long before housing market bubbles or stock market crashes. Jesus objected to the role that currency was beginning to play in our lives as a moral code. But in biblical times, ass-wiping was still free, worldwide, so the commodification of everything God-given was in the distant future. It is perhaps this world that he envisioned, and perhaps he had hoped to eschew its progress. Concerning any remnants of Jesus’ values in the marketplace, you know that the energy companies would invoice the birds for perching on their power lines, if they could.

Massive corporations are developing a legal framework to interrupt the natural process of life (such as food and water) and want people living in nature to foot the bill, by playing their role as consumers. Capitalists claim that these resources need management, which is true, but their conclusion tends to be, essentially, that bottling water in plastic and growing genetically modified crops on massively machined farms is more responsible than maintaining healthy natural water streams and forests, home energy and water retention systems, and home grown food. We are told to consume products wrapped in plastic off of shelves, to consume energy from overhead power lines, to play with our time-wasting gadgets walled off from our neighbors, and to show up to work for fifty years to enable this drudgery, or else your credit will deteriorate and you’ll be arrested for living on the street, addicted to drugs because that is the only thing keeping you warm at night. The corporate solution diverts natural streams and stakes unlimited claim to vast resources while keeping you busy so that you won’t be able to retake those resources.

The big three markets are housing, energy, and food. These are the building blocks of life. A capitalist caveman would prevent you from using fire without trading him something, and of course, that would make eating more difficult. So a market for cooked meat would emerge. But actually it is clear archaeologically that early man freely shared the only resources to food and energy they had: animal products and wood-fire; and for those who lived as members of the clan, a relatively equal share was provided for each member. This is because each member had a specific role to play and the fruits of their labor could only be gained from cooperation.

Early man also warred with competing clans. Throughout all of time, humankind is rarely cooperating — politics began out of family alliances and intertribal relations. Agriculture enabled the commodification of food as populations grew rapidly and increasingly stationary, thanks to food crops and the development of astronomical calendars. Humankind organically modified their environment, not using a laboratory or great technology (that we know about) and learned how to genetically alter food and animals with breeding techniques. By biblical times, government, technology, and currency had emerged the etheric ruler. Economics were already replacing God.

Economy is a word with simple etymology. While it was coined in ancient Greece to mean, basically, “household management,” it has an interesting literal definition. Eco means nature. Nomy means laws. Economy means the “laws of nature.” Let’s look at the word we contemporarily relate to the laws of nature. Ecology means the study of nature. Economy purports to embody the laws of nature yet everything it does goes against the grain. Ecology only claims to study nature, yet the knowledge of that ancient study more accurately correlates to natural laws thanks to consistently going with the grain, observing every movement.

Food, energy, and housing, these are the natural desires of all living beings, not to mention loving, safe relationships. The bird flies anywhere she wants to freely roost with her family, wherever makes the most sense, and feeds them whatever Earth provides her. Although these are truly given to humans by nature, economists have enabled a society that can only survive if it profits from these naturally given things.

The advancements under capitalism have enabled these basic desires to be met relatively easily (so long as everyone is comfortable with debt and a lifetime in the work force) so that now the economic system needs to invent desires, to keep the growth of the economy at a constant.

Human desires are so advanced, not only have we miraculously conquered the barrier of air flight forever, it is simply not enough to fly in the air and arrive some place safely. Comedian Louis C.K. points to this in a routine about complainers of airline services and the moderate inconveniences of flight saying, “You’re flying through the air! You’re like a Greek myth right now! … The Wright Brothers would kick us all right in the cunt if they knew.”

Housing is exactly the same. Being safe, warm, and with our friends and family is simply not enough. All the things that go into that household are what define us, how we describe who we are, what we believe in, and how successful we are in the marketplace.

In my next piece, I will discuss gentrification, and from there homelessness. I want to reiterate, in case my position is still obscure to you, that I view political-economy as the natural laws governing all humans. Therefore my concept of economics stands in contrast to democratic capitalism, which is currently at the precipice of becoming thinly veiled plutocracy. Although I believe in free markets, I feel that it should actually follow the laws of nature. It should serve the sciences and achieve a higher philosophical position. So I leave you with a quote from Pope Francis in 2002, when he was Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio.

Let’s not tolerate the sad spectacle of those who no longer know how to lie and contradict themselves to hold onto their privileges, their rapaciousness, and their ill-earned wealth.

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