Alleviating Problems or Symptoms?

I haven’t written in a couple of days. This is mainly due to a lack of stuff going on in my head. However, not too long ago I watched a video on RSABlogs that really peaked my interest. It’s an interesting video in that it looks/questions the intentions of many “cheritable” companies. For example, TOMS shoes, is a company who’s 1:1 marketing have helped it rocket into prominence. It takes social and corporate conscience to a new level. A lot of companies have done similar things. It’s a new type of capitalism. However, the Slavoj Zizek thinks this is all capitalist BS. There is no good capitalist.

He believes that capitalism doesn’t address the social problems. Further, if Charitable Capitalism (CC from here on) addresses anything, it addresses the symptoms. Further yet, he seems to believe that CC hides the malevolent characteristics of capitalism. I think his system of belief would be true if two things were true: 1) That capitalism was actually a bad system 2) “capitalist” nations are really capitalist nations.

I think that capitalism in its purest form is bad. 1 Slavoj; 0 Dan. We find examples this when we look back in history. Capitalism created some of the groundwork for the innovation found in the 19th century but it also left a scorched path of destruction in the from of toxic sewage, tenement housing and pseudo-feudal ownership (i.e. mining towns). These sorts of conditions are fruitful for the companies making the products (and their investors) but horrible for those that were basically enslaved by the companies. As the government started reigning in the business practices of these companies, things began getting better for all. This was a slow project but it has so far worked wonderfully. Pure capitalism, as Slavoj believes, is not the greatest system. A quick glance at communist, though, gives the same answer. Communism doesn’t for similar reasons. Instead of a private monopoly, you find a government/”public” monopoly. Prices cannot be stabilized (relative to the market) and innovation can die.

So how is it that Slavoj is wrong? It’s true that pure capitalism is bad, but pure capitalism doesn’t exist in industrialized countries. Industrialized nations, the capitalist archetype, are more or less mixed economies. They have more in common with “socialist” thought than capitalist. Think about the US government. They tax you for policing the streets, protecting you from fires, enforcing parking limits, your social security and unemployment insurance etc. These are not things a purely capitalist country would do. Capitalism is a “hands-off” endeavor. Mixed Capitalism is what really is the case in the world.

Slavoj overlooks (possibly on purpose) that most industrialized countries are not purely capitalist but he also seems to miss a distinction. Capitalism is a system not a group of businesses or even a . Capitalism is an open economic platform that individuals can use at for their own purposes. Communism is a closed economic platform that is very well regulated by the government and many times, the government is the only one that can take advantage of the platform. Individuals are the ones that have chosen to tie in ethical issues into their companies. Sure, it could all be a marketing scheme, but nevertheless, it is the individual who has made the choice to build their company in that way. Its not a system/platform enforced requirement.

What does this mean? I mentioned that capitalism is bad in pure form and I have shown that most capitalist nations are more socialist than he makes them out to be. It’s obvious from his video, that he is interested in communism, but as I have mentioned above, that is also not a good path to go down. I have to disagree with Slajov that capitalism, in its present form, is bad. When the platform is open, but regulated, it leads to a much more vibrant economic culture.

Slavoj is misguided in thinking that all that we can do is alleviate symptoms. In many cases, these companies have to target the problem if they’re going to stay in business. This can happen because of system enforced requirements or consumer requirements, or just social requirements.  Just because the system is taking a long time to correct problems does not mean that it, in fact, is not correcting them. In short, the current system is much more favorable than the other known possibilities.

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