15 September 2010

Not your Wall Street Adam Smith


...the understandings of the greater part of men are necessarily formed by their ordinary employments. The man whose whole life is spent in performing a few simple operations, of which the effects are perhaps always the same, or very nearly the same, has no occasion to exert his understanding or to exercise his invention in finding out expedients for removing difficulties which never occur. He naturally loses, therefore, the habit of such exertion, and generally becomes as stupid and ignorant as it is possible for a human creature to become. The torpor of his mind renders him not only incapable of relishing or bearing a part in any rational conversation, but of conceiving any generous, noble, or tender sentiment, and consequently of forming any just judgment concerning many even of the ordinary duties of private life... But in every improved and civilized society this is the state into which the laboring poor, that is, the great body of the people, must necessarily fall, unless government takes some pains to prevent it.

So, we often forget or never knew (were never told, etc) that Smith was keenly aware of the downside of the system he propounded...and as a moral philosopher I would imagine he would be somewhat distraught at how his words have selectively been used to bludgeon the common man into understanding that his poverty must clearly be an indication of that person's personal failings, his/her inability to succeed in such free market competition.

Capitalism IS a moral hazard and Smith knew it.

But read this passage over and over and see how this system eats away at all of our humanity--in every aspect of being we are reduced to parts of a human and our thinking follows suit. I've argued before as well that we have this same model in our sciences and it creates narrow men and women that do not think beyond their imaging machines. There is no longer a big picture in any field of human endeavor.

Unless you are a Capitalist--unless you hold the keys to the kingdom of avarice. Then the big picture is quite clear.


This from Digby--I'm not sure what to say about the fact that even the people that are in positions of leadership in government are just as ignorant as the industrialized masses. Other than to point to it as another degradation of the human. And to posit that this too is a wonderful tool for the Capitalist. Manage the "leader" who will manage the masses with her "prole" views. As an aside: if you are a woman how do you feel that the major representatives (at least in the spotlight) of your gender are Sarah Palin and Michele Bachmann, and that the GOP and it's "base" wants all of you to be pin-up girls (or pornographic "moms"--this is the new tag line--GOP, the Party of MILFs).

And then there's this from the Party of Tea--how are folks so proud of their narrow ignorance?

And I really have no idea what to make of this.


  1. I agree, and in starting to read the book about the history of milk, all of this becomes shockingly clear. Not only does capitalism create narrow, ignorant, unhappy people, but it creates a standard of non-quality care in terms of our personal health. It necessitates unnatural and unhealthy choices for the sake of convenience.

    I think most of us are trapped as "laboring poor." Most of our jobs are mind-numbingly narrow, not just lower class. We don't think. We sit in offices trying to make our CEOs even richer, distracted by illusions of "career." Sure, there are exemptions, there are people out there doing good things and calling it "work." But most of us are taught to blindly accept that what we're doing is good.

  2. Don't tell me there's a website for MILF! Give me a break. Probably built my the GOP.