Thursday, November 05, 2009

More of Part of a Worldview: Politics

The capitalist credo/arrangement of “get what you can acquire through any legal means in the market” is a primitive, animal-kingdom-like approach which humans need to transcend by taking competition out of the equation for gaining the necessities of living. Freedoms in acquiring beyond the necessities can be structured into the workings of the economy with upper limits created through taxation, regulation, etc. This allows the freedom to be entrepreneurial but not at the expense of each person’s right to the necessities of living.

An assumption is that no person deserves the necessities of life more than another person. So what there is must be distributed in such a way that all have the necessities regardless of their capability in acquiring them, assuming the society is capable of producing that level of material abundance. So the society or social group cannot have children or adults in poverty or “going hungry,” or without shelter, proper clothing, medical care or education.

People’s flourishing occurs in a political-economic organization of participatory political and workplace democracy. The laws and policies would be guided by the ideal of each person having maximal control and input in their public places of participation. This would be balanced by the needs of an organization to function through timely decision-making.

These ideals should be applied to the present state of society and see how it measures up in any given case. Unlike the conservative orientation which takes history and tradition as the guides to what can be and so is cautious about social change, my view judges the present according to its ideal and asserts where society does and does not measure up and why.

In the US money generally rules so elites with economic and political power maintain a status quo which favors their interests at the expense of the majority. This state is hidden through propaganda and pervasive mainstream assumptions about what is and is not a serious political or economic issue. The media, being large corporate institutions, have a confluence of interests with economic elites and are part of a taken-for-granted structure which promotes the interests of those on top. There is no conspiracy or cabal maintaining the status quo and the participants are mostly sincere in their ignorance of this situation. A pervasive media and political skepticism must be maintained since what is considered an issue or current event or social fact is an outcome of a system structured around maintaining an unequal and anti-democratic power structure.


Arthur Schwartz said...

Yes, Jeff, I quite agree with your argument. Competition and large profits are great provided that basic needs are met. Of course, determining what, precisely, basic needs are will always be an issue. But I think you are right, if I understand you correctly, that the power structure distorts and obfuscates the issues so that an honest discussion about basic needs are never really addressed because their control of media and other centers of influence pretty much determines the text of conventional thinking.

Jeff Meyerhoff said...

Actually, I think competition is generally bad (see Alfie Kohn's classic book "No Contest") but that it is a necessary economic evil for now.

But we agree for the most part. It's funny how America likes to think of itself as a Christian nation (but also secular, plural, tolerant) yet assuring the basic necessities for everyone is not a central political issue. Although the health care struggle is about that.

Arthur Schwartz said...

Thanks for referring me to Alfie Kohn's book; I'll check it out and read it at my first opportunity. However, I long had a motto that if there was no struggle we would need to create it (i.e. motivation is difficult to sustatin without struggle and competition). But I appreciate the argument of cooperation as an alternative. I'll ponder.