Capitalisms and capitalism

Posted: 6 August 2012 in Uncategorized
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Daniel Little is absolutely right: there are many different capitalisms.

He defines the differences in terms of values:

We might imagine that there are three “attractors” that define a modern capitalist political economy: the values associated with the market and independent decision making by corporations and entrepreneurs; the value associated with the establishment of regulations protecting the common good and the safety and health of the public; and the value associated with securing the welfare of the whole population, involving a social security system and a willingness to redistribute income and wealth through taxation.

My own view is that there are different sets of conditions and consequences of capitalist economies. There are capitalisms that are more equal and others that are less equal; capitalisms that are more private and unregulated, others that are more state-oriented and regulated; and so on. That is, capitalism does not exist in a vacuum: it is overdetermined by (and, in turn, overdetermines) different economic, political, and cultural conditions of existence.

But, for all their variation, the different kinds of capitalism do have one thing in common: they are all based on a fundamental “ripping-off,” the appropriation by one group (the capitalists) of the surplus-value produced by one group (the direct producers). In other words, all capitalisms are defined by class exploitation.

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