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What does capitalism rely on?

+4 votes
i recently noted that capitalism relies on ("runs on") convenience. Funky@ added "work ethic." years ago Bornagain@ noted the foundational character of how the english language uses the verb "to be" as problematic.

more as a game than anything else, what are the things that you see as foundational to the-badness-around-us (i guess emphasizing capitalism, though someone was arguing to me that capitalism and christianity are too linked to effectively parse separately, but maybe that's a point for another time) and how do you figure? (and if you want, how do you reject it/them in your daily life?)

here's the link, though it doesn't add much... https://anarchy101.org/22243/does-current-crisis-inspire-make-radical-changes-your-life

edit: oh, i guess i should say that i don't think i agree that capitalism rests on the work ethic, since the work ethic can work against it as much as for it. i might put in the place of that something like... addiction? an unthinking need for something that fills one gap while draining everything else in our lives... can be closely related to the work ethic, obviously.

here are some older questions that are along similar lines: https://anarchy101.org/12600/is-the-state-necessary-for-modern-capitalism?show=12600#q12600

asked May 28 by dot (52,050 points)
edited May 28 by dot
Not really an answer, but the capitalism is deeply intertwined with Christianity is one of the Eurocentric or dominant accounts of the origins of capitalism. In my quest last summer to discovering the different theories on the development of capitalism. I realized the Ottomans should receive the same amount of credit as England and the Dutch does. The person you were talking to should include Islam if including Christianity. The "beginning" of capitalism took place smack dab in the middle of Dutch Revolt/80 years war and the crumbling of Christendom. England and the Dutch were almost entirely dependent on the Ottoman Markets for metals and textiles, and other materials from the Ottoman Empire itself.

I've to read an anarchists pov on the development and origins of capitalism. The afaq uses Karl Polanyi's theory.

Anyways, capitalism is like a somewhat elaborate illusion.

A work ethic is like an addiction or capitalism is?
i hear ya dot, work ethic may not be a pillar upon which capitalism is built. i just see it as a huge aspect of capitalism's perpetuation and expansion.
i think funky is totally correct when he says "many possible answers", and it does rely on lots and lots of things in it's current state.

However, i feel more than anything else it relies on work (or "slavery") and a huge consumption of resources coming from the natural world. Many have commented on how when you use fossil fuels you have "mechanical slaves", it's honestly pretty impressive how much mechanical work gets done based on oil, coal, gas, etc. alone.

Edit: I feel that one of the most important "things" that capitalism relies upon is alienation. Capitalism can't exist without mind control, it would get destroyed by emotion and animal energy pretty fast without it. Alienation is how the mind control gets accomplished. A lot of life in the late stages of capitalism feels like looking through a glass window outside of a store, reality is not real.

2 Answers

+2 votes
given the wording of this question (what does it rely on)... wow, many possible answers.

the ability for the powers that be to control public opinion - aka "manufacturing consent", at the risk of being labelled a chomskyite - is huge imo. the very concept of "the american dream" is a perfect and ubiquitous example.

it is interesting, however, to see how the social media era has the potential to impact that. i have almost nothing but disdain for it and the surveillance environment and celebrity culture it encourages. but when i see so many phone videos of cops doing what they do, leading to serious and intense responses, i have to admit that it has the potential to be a real factor, especially in the current context of the coronavirus pandemic and blatant public institutional oppression. i have zero confidence that anything i personally desire can or will come out of it, but i surely see the possibility for something more than the typical demonstrations/counters and the ultimate acquiescence and on with business as usual.

folks burning down a cop shop in minneapolis...?  haven't seen that much in the U.S.
answered May 29 by funkyanarchy (12,220 points)

Sorry to be so late the party, and I don't think ill generate many more comments with my addition, but I want to make it anyway, just for fun and for practice.  I very much second @funky's chomskyian idea of manufacturing consent, though I don't often couch it in such terms.  I call it something like 'controlling the narrative', 'moulding our dreams'.  The media, but also our education and socialisation, reinforce many of our behaviours that themselves reinforce capitalism, and indeed the many non-capitalist yet still anarchically-undesirable structures.

Also feeding into this is our self-mollification; the ways our justifiable anger and discontent are redirected into channels that at the most cause only temporary roadblocks for the machines of capitalism, and at the least serve only to exhaust the energies of those involved in them.

I may add more as my medically slowed brain chews over this topic.  Thanks for reading, if you did.  Its good to be back (I hope).

+1 vote

it seems to me what is foundational are things like (to name just two) slavery, and a fundamental misunderstanding of the natural (complexly problematic term) world.

the things capitalism rely on to keep going include convenience, inertia and the like.

do these distinctions make sense?

since i might be who dot is referring to re: Christianity, i take Zubaz's addition to heart, i don't know much of that history. my take on the intertwinement of capitalism and Christianity, to clarify, is about how the anti-nature/hierarchical/only-the-next-world-matters position of Christianity (and all religions of the book?) make it possible for slavery and the destruction of this world, which are the basis of capitalism. it's not that nature-based peoples never did bad, but that they had limits. Christians don't seem to have limits, not when the kingdom of heaven is the goal. and for that matter, having a goal ie linear time, i would say is also foundational to the mess were in.
answered May 29 by nettle (260 points)
Capitalism has proven it can exist without slavery though, and inertia is just as much of a problem for capitalism as an aide...I think a legitimate part of being an anarchist involves doing nothing, inertia is more of a personal issue that isn't always an issue. There are times In my life where i wish I listened to the screaming voice in my head telling me not to do something. I would say that capitalism relies on putting things off to the future instead, it makes me so mad sometimes the extent this is true.