Herodotus was writing, in the
Book I of his
Histories, about the Persians:
There are many reasons for their horror of debt, but the chief is their conviction that a man who owes money is bound also to tell lies. (translation by Aubrey de Sélincourt).
They were right: conditioning the individuals through debt is much more efficient than conditioning them through explicit imposition of rules by the state. So, the Persians' insight is that any debt-based system will still appear flashy even the next day after its ruin; briefly, that the capitalism is built on bubbles and insidious slavery.
Histories can be read on the Internet Classics Archive at MIT (currently buggy: the Book I is truncated) or on eBooks@Adelaide.
Some principles should be positioned at the start of any nation's constitution:
1. Limit of individual power: no individual can, at any time, own more resources than the amount necessary for a human to live a full-length life in dignity (say, a lifetime of average wages).
2. Limit of state power: all the state transactions and decisions are public records accessible for any of its citizens at any time.
In fact these are the two facets of a single principle: keep ourselves reasonably distanced from the two extremes where our (lack of) intelligence may lead, and, this way, from the harm, even without being aware of it, we can do to others.
3. Qualified voting: each of the state-wide decisions have to be taken by counting votes from authenticated qualified voters directly (not through representatives). Qualified voters are citizens who pass a minimal test of familiarity with the matter they're voting about. Qualified voting should happen as often as necessary. The Internet is an appropriate medium for this process.
Yep, brick and mortar parliaments are obsolete. Welcome virtual parliaments.
What, none of these is written yet in your country's constitution? Hold them as objectives to be reached in your lifetime and, at least, boredom will avoid you.
This would be a good starting point for a humanist society, don't you think?
So, if the free, unregulated, market lets the prices balance, then why the fundamental need for marketing? If the market is free, why do you have to market it further?
This is not a paradox at all,
marketing are wrapper names for
planning. The out-of-fashion socialist state planning, based on society statistics, is replaced with the
pro-active planning by the biggest carnivores in it.
It sounds now reasonable to me that the administrative failure of classical (state planned) socialism was due to the lack of the appropriate computing power at the time.
There's an article, written yesterday in Financial Times, pondering over Ségolène Royal, Nicolas Sarkozy and France's fears of international competition and globalisation. It is part of a long series of irritating articles writing on nothing but giving an impression of general knowledge on world issues.
Let's take for example, globalisation. The newspaper says about both candidates:
But neither really questioned the dominance of the state not merely as an engine of spending but also as the prime source of regulation and security in the life of French citizens. as if questioning that is implicitly a must for anybody who wants to run a country.
Who is going to be the prime source of regulation and security if not the state? Some private company? The bloggers? The newspapers? Your own gun? Anybody is working for its own profit one way or another except the state servants (that is, the state). The state is the pragmatic glue of the society, it is the intersection of all the citizens' paths.
It's childish to expect that the market will regulate the society as it is childish to expect that the state, without being actively in check by the citizens, would serve them well.
Left unregulated, the market evolves into a small number of dictatorial-state-like monopolies. Left unchecked, the state evolves in a dictatorship of the stupidest over the rest of the society. There has to be a theorem somewhere in mathematics which states this.
Globalisation means this: your saved money migrate in places where they can get more profit to those who manage them. The picture is like this: you get your 2% interest on your savings, while the managers of your money get a lot more if allowed to "globalise" them (that is, to exploit some other economy's relative disfunctionalities). Globalisation is using the mobility of resources to serve the richest, as usual. But no matter how rich you are, you are still part of a society, and that society needs a state to protect the citizens from guys like you.
Having a powerful state at the core of your society, and keeping it in check continuously, is the ultimate protection against the unlimited capitalism I can think of. The state is the citizen's servant and has to stay so.
What's unlimited capitalism? It's the nightmare where education is a for-profit business, health is a for-profit business, research is a for-profit business and your security is handled by private, for-profit, companies.
For-profit means for-somebody's-profit : always try to locate who is that specific somebody, and then re-read the phrase containing "for-profit" in it.
Unlimited capitalism is the worst pest I have encountered in my life, and I think that the only fix to it is limiting each and every person's total wealth to the one needed to live a (statistically) normal life, fix which can only be applied by the state (that collection of servants which must implement the working conventions of your society).
Competition. I will never agree I was born to be part of a competition. History is full of competitions and says every participant wasted his own and his neighbours time with it. The result is more or less the same: a mess.
Competition only has a meaning when resources are not enough to reasonable satisfy everybody. But the humanist approach would be to focus on creating resources, or on consuming them more efficiently or on diminishing the number of the consumers of those resources. So don't be in a hurry to have children, they will be forced competitors from birth.
And again, competition is competition-against-somebody and competition-for-something. Whenever you read "competition" try to locate the "somebody" and the "something" part. Usually those who propose/sustain the competition are those who estimate they have some advantage over the competitors. Financial Times is an unwitting exception.
The world has now 946 billionaires, congratulations, these are the guys you were living for during the last decade. Not just you, your government too, most probably.
Some of these guys earned last year 100000 (a hundred thousands) times more than you. That is only possible if somebody from your public administration helped, intentionally or not, but democratically nevertheless, certainly in a non-violent way. Which means your administration is not public enough. Which means you're not paying attention enough: that's partly why education, health and research is underfunded in your neighborhood.
When was the last time you checked if your state administration (parliament representative etc.) uses commercial software when there is a workable free software replacement available?
Next time when your education/health/research minister says there are no funds, you should ask him what operating system is his public office using.