The combination of the Computer and Capitalism has not improved the Human Race. They have created an authoritarian business ethic, that has made most people less important. As a result, they do the smart thing – they identify with this shift in power – so they can get some of it for themselves. And overlook any ethical considerations this involves.
And, most important of all – this change has destroyed people’s ability to understand what is going on. They have become stupid, as the Computer has become smarter.
The Computer is better at understanding Data – and the more of it there is, and the more complicated it is, the better. Precisely what the human mind is not good at. And this what makes Computerized Capitalism so powerful.
The world has become more complex, no question about it. But it could still be understood – if people wanted to. They don’t – they just want to destroy it. Because it has destroyed them.
This, it seems to me, is the central dynamic of our time. A vast orgy of destruction, that no one wants to see. Everyone is saying “I’m not responsible, someone else is;”
Which is simply a lie.
We are, at the same time – the best-informed people in history – and the worst-informed.
How this happened, I have no idea – but this is the situation we find ourselves in.
I am reading Capitalism: A Short History – which describes all the different kinds of Capitalism we have been through. I have reached page 157 of 198 – that describes the Capitalism of our time.
A growing instability of capitalist processes can be discerned, to the extent that these processes have become detached over the last several decades from the restrictive but also stabilizing grounds in which they were once embedded and have, moreover, become internally differentiated. This was illustrated above in the case of two different transitions, first from ownership to managerial capitalism, and then with the shift to capitalism’s current phase of financialization. In the second transition, the investment function has been so powerfully detached from its ties to other functions (such as management of the enterprise or personnel policy) that it has become an independent force, carried away to the point of self-destruction unless the investment function can be recaptured and reembedded.
The key word here is instability. That should set off all kinds of alarm bells – but no alarms are going off.
We have driven off the edge of a cliff, and are in freefall – with a very hard landing in sight. And we can see nothing.
I have taken the following from Capitalism: A Short History:
In the controversies that have surrounded capitalism, state and market are usually regarded as antipodes, and for good reason. Market action and governmental-political action are indeed beholden to different logics, especially in the democratic era. Each one has a different foundation on which its legitimacy rests: unequally distributed ownership rights on one side, equal citizenship rights on the other.
They follow different procedures: there one of exchange, here a process of debate with the aim of building consensus and deciding by majority…The pursuit of particular advantages is the clear goal of market action…Attainment of the general welfare, by contrast, is the aim of politics.
If you overlook the formal language – its not too hard to see that he is talking about one of the serious problems of our time.
We have many of them, and he is helping us to carefully untangle two of them.
The tendency to detach economic action from social contexts, the concentration on goals of profit and growth coupled with a simultaneous indifference to other goals.
Kocka, Jürgen. Capitalism: A Short History (p. 114). Princeton University Press. Kindle Edition.
This book does an excellent job of explaining this, and you should read it, if you are interested in the subject – which I think everyone should be.
This is one of the powerful forces that now drive our world – and we should be aware of it.
And not only that – it is entertaining reading.
I subscribe to Foreign Affairs, but this link will allow to read this article yourself – for free.
It is a review of three books on Capitalism, showing how it has evolved.
I went to sleep the first time I read it – but I went back, forced myself to get interested in it – and it grabbed me!