T Nation

You Are A Capitalist


Since every human pursuit requires the employment of capital and the delaying of consumption in order to bring that capital about every person who works (produces marketable goods) or saves the fruits of his labor for future consumption must be considered a capitalist.

In fact, it is impossible to even produce labor without delaying consumption: learning a trade or going to college requires delaying consumption in that we give up entering the work force and the subsequent wage we would expect from said employment and thus also the consumption that that wage allows.

We do this only because we expect a higher utility (that is greater possibility to consume) from the investment of out time and energy in the future.


I guess everyone that dislikes paying taxes is also a Republican :wink:

Our political views aren't defined so much by an individual philosophy in a vacuum, but by how we prioritize that philosophy in context of competing philosophies.

Nobody likes paying taxes, but some are more willing than others to do so, to accomplish other political objectives that they consider important.

Capitalism yes, but at what cost?


No, most dems don't like paying taxes either. The difference is that dems are still willing to vote for other people to pay their share.


Human actions and their consequences are all that matter in regard to human ideals.

The fact that people do employ their own labor and also save their income to reinvest in labor saving devices is all the proof that one needs to see that human action is inherently capitalistic.

Even the idea that the State can force someone to pay taxes is tied to this idea. Every politician saves labor by making someone else do all the work -- at the point of a gun that was produced by capital markets.


I have to ask "To what end" followed by "Does the end justify the means". In some cases it is yes, others no and the answer is subject to change depending on circumstance.


I am not sure what you mean but suffice to say every one values ends subjectively.

Human beings generally do not like to labor. If this were not true then we would always work and never stop to consume the fruits of our labor. We would work only for works sake. Furthermore, we would never seek out ways to save labor -- i.e., produce more with equal or less effort.

In so far as every human being has different desires for consumption every human being will only labor until his utility (ability to consume) is satisfied beyond his capacity (physical and psychological) for labor.

A further point: it is only our ability to consume that decides how much we will produce. We do not produce stuff merely for something to do but so that we can consume it. In that regard we tend to only produce in proportion to what we consume. For example, a factory owner does not stock his warehouse full widgets that he does not expect to be consumed. He takes a risk just by producing these widgets in the first place.


From where exactly did you derive this unique definition of "capitalist?"


it's consistent.

capitalism has not emerged in the 16th century, as we all think it has, it's actually as old as humanity.
so a capitalist is basically a human.

makes sense.


Explain volunteer projects like Habitat for Humanity. People build houses for others and expect nothing in return. They don't get to sell the houses they build. hey don't get to live in them. They don't get to rent them out.


uhh.. okay. I guess that makes sense if we all agree that misappropriation of memes and well-defined words to serve our own purposes is cool.


From observing what humans beings do in their day-to-day existence.


Well, doesn't all learning happen the same way?

Copernicus provided ideas to Kepler; he in turn provided ideas to Galileo; who in turned provided ideas to Newton; who in turn provided ideas to Einstein. Ideas are always incomplete and waiting to be revised and extended by future generations.

It is only up to logic to decide if they are true or not.


Interesting... but...

The word "capitalist" has been well-defined by 400 or so years of political and cultural evolution. To take it and attempt to completely redefine it as a process, with no other relevance than the fact that you can use the word "capital" in its description is just silly.

You might be able to say something along the lines of; "capitalism is a useful tool for all people because...." That makes some sense.


But, you are not providing ideas.

You are simply redefining a word to suit your needs.


But they are employing capital to bring about these goods which could have only happened how?

They are also delaying their own personal consumption to bring about consumption for someone else. Parents do the same thing, albeit for different reasons.


Yes, but I am redefining it because human action requires it.

The employment of the private means of production is capitalism. It cannot merely refer to the ownership of the means of production because ownership does not mean anything without the ability to use it (employ it, save it, or consume it).


Well, nobody can fault you for not being ambitious.


Lets say that my end is the safety and comfort of my family. There are various means to that end, but not all of them can be justified. Whether or not they can be depends on personal and social norms and values. Closer to the core are my own ethics which define what I am willing or not willing to do to meet that end.

Not necessarily true. Some people have varying degrees of altruism as it applies to work. I for one have a very strong psychological need to produce. Given a task to do or the option to pass on it, I will take a task every time, and occasionally just make shit up for the sake of doing something, rather than just sit idle.

Which does not account for obsessive compulsion, or the inability to realize when enough is actually enough. Some people, given the opportunity, will work themselves literally to death.

Then how does generational wealth occur, like Gates, Mellon, Carnegie or Rockefeller sized estates? Those guys were responsible for more production in one lifetime than even the most lavish or opulent of lifestyles could consume. Not only their own, but all that derived a living in their employment.

I think I get what you are trying to define, but what you are trying to define is somewhat polyhedral in the scope of human nature. It would have to encompass everybody from a socially defunct do nothing, which no amount of reward or suffering can motivate, to apex producers who literally change the world when their ideas become actions.

Thats a lot of ground to cover.


You still must decide on your own when it is okay to stop laboring to consume what you have produced.

There is still always point where one must to stop working otherwise he would never eat, for example.

If OCD were the norm humans would not be here.

If you mean that the wealth that Gates, et al, have produced further than they can consume you are looking too closely at need versus want. I don't need to consume a Yacht for my existence but there are a whole other myriad of capital goods that must be produced to bring about yachts and therefore we cannot stop production until that aim is achieved if that is what we want to achieve. This goes for all end goods that require lots of capital to develop.

Not to mention most of the income produced by Gates, et al, is reinvested and consumed by other capital enterprises not personally consumed by these people.


at this point, it could be useful to remind our wild gorilla that a capitalist is indeed someone who privately own capital goods (factories, industrials machine, raw materials, etc) and/or natural ressources (land, cattle).

not someone who "delay consumption" or "save the fruits of its labor".

and no, it's not a "marxist definition".
it's just the definition.

yes, i know, it's inconvenient.
it means that you can't systematically equate capitalism and economy or confuse market and exchange.

the naturality / normality argument is so old and tired that using it, not matter the topic, is suspect in itself.