Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Capital, and its contribution to a failure of Enlightenment liberalism

Not the failure o liberalism in general,just the failure of the classical libertarian notion that we're all just individual atoms spinning around, not contextualized in society in any way, just doing our best and getting out of life everything we really deserve in a perfectly just manner. The problem with classical liberalism, both personal and economic, is that no matter if everyone starts out on an equal position, over time economic and personal power will accumulate, and be passed on to the next generation. Even if economic and social status was justly attained, if there was no mechanism for social equalization, there would still be unjust social benefits for the children of the successful and unjust social disabilities for the children of those who are less successful. If the children of the successful, in turn, use their privilege well they'll develop the success gap they were born with even further, and wind up passing on to their kids a potential for social and economic power that will dwarf that of regular people.

Everyone wants to do good for the next generation, but without a mechanism to ensure that people not only start on an equal basis at some time in the past but start on an equal basis throughout each generation, a class based society will form as a matter of course, based not on inherent talent but on inheritance. Eventually, the inheritance of the few in social capital and will block qualified people from attaining all they can and allow the unqualified but privileged to attain more than they deserve. The next generation will have to pay for the previous generation's mistakes or misfortune. Economically, not simply on the personal level but on the level of business external to the individual, the physical accumulation of funds, land, money, stock, inventory, Capital in other words, follows a parallel process.

In the world of economic Capital, access to its beneficial aspects through joining forces, or denial of access to its benefits, becomes a force that as increasingly forms a dividing line in society as the power of Capital accumulates: those who have access can increase their wealth to a much greater degree than those who don't, out of proportion to their actual talents. Those who don't have access correspondingly have a harder time earning what they deserve despite their talent. The first group over time turns into a bourgeois upper class, while the other group turns into the working class. Although there are gradations and divisions in between, fundamentally, those who want to advance in society who don't have access to the benefits of Capital have to choose between staying true to their roots and putting themselves on the side of the managers and owners in order to get what they truly deserve.

A good society, one in which Capital was socialized and where it was turned into social property, would be where the allyship or lack thereof of a person to Capital would not matter. Capital would be possessed by society as a whole, and everyone would have the benefit of having an inside track. A good society would be one that would also put measures into place to ensure that personal, inherited privilege, coming from family or background irrespective of allyship with Capital, would not interfere with one's future, would not push people down or give them an unfair leg up. Socialization of Capital alone would do not completely accomplish this. Instead, the breakdown of the division of labor between management and workers would have to be broken down as well, with the workers enjoying the benefits. On top of that, the educational system and system of hiring would have to be altered to give no person unfair advantage.
To truly ensure a just society, equality of condition has to be maintained throughout time, not just in a beginning period, with the benefits of society beyond those of the minimum, both economic and social, shared and used to raise the sustained initial condition to a higher level than it would be otherwise. With this state of affairs, a person's talent could lead to a truly just position.

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