The Paradox of Democratic Capitalism: Politics and Economics in American Thought


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This is because it is natural in a capitalist system for people to become increasingly narrow in their focus and for individuals to relinquish control in favor of efficiency. Democracy is not an efficient system, democracy requires hard work and extreme intellectual inefficiency. In order for a democratic system to work well everyone has to be equally informed. This leads to redundancy within the system, something that a capitalist system will naturally eliminate.

Capitalism naturally increases efficiency and reduces redundancy.

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So we can see that division of labor creates the ability for "inferior" individuals to form a "superior" whole. The individuals are not truly inferior, they are all superior at their respective tasks, just limited in their scope. This explains, in part, how America has been able to both excel and fall behind at the same time. American society has developed along the path of least resistance generally.

As our economic infrastructure has created a divided and compartmentalized substructure, our social superstructure has followed the same pattern. This has been embraced as the expression of individuality. With our increased expression of individuality our society has also called for increased tolerance. This all facilitates subcultural compartmentalization and differentiation.

Capitalism Redefined : Democracy Journal

Within these social conditions Post Modernist ideology has developed. Post Modernism is essentially the re-embracing of idealism. Post Modernism basically states that there is no objective truth - that truth is in the eye of the beholder. Our social tolerance and political correctness discourage people from challenging the beliefs of others in the Post Modernist view that "all beliefs are equally acceptable. This is one of the reasons why the variety of religions in America has exploded, with America now being one of the most religiously diverse countries in the world.

All religious beliefs are protected as equally valid and beyond challenge. This goes well beyond the issues of religion and individuality though, it goes into people's entire concept of reality and truth. People are able to develop their own private world-view which can be largely detached from reality and they can still function and be successful in society, and our society of millions of such people with different world-views can itself also continue to thrive, or so it seems.

This fragmented condition of society leads to increasing idealism, that is, the lack of rationality and the lack of understanding of concrete truths, which leads to a lack of understanding of why and how things happen in the larger context. With the increasing flexibility of modern society, via television, the internet, gaming and growing subcultures, it is highly likely that people will continue to diverge from each other, and from "the truth", ideologically.

Modern society, created by capitalism, provides individuals with the means to largely define their own reality. Television provides an increasing variety of programming in the name of "choice", which has as its purpose "consumer satisfaction", which is ultimately motivated by profits.

This is what "we" want; this is what "we" are asking for, indeed demanding; More choice! More choice! More variety! Individuals can now choose to expose themselves only to certain types of information and experiences. People form prejudices and then they seek out social reinforcements of those prejudices by customizing their "reality.

This trend is going to continue in the future, growing increasingly more extreme. This will, of course, be defended under the banner of individual choice, which is something that will be market driven by capitalism. And this is how capitalism sews the further seeds for the destruction of democracy.

This is a completely natural process and will surely take place, it is already taking place in fact. This is the paradox of democratic capitalism. This isn't something intentional, its not the product of a plan or agenda, it is simply the result of the process. Diversity of views is not only a natural result of the division of labor in society, but the diversity of views itself also creates a larger market, reinforcing the phenomenon because the diversity of views becomes catered to, and indeed encouraged, by the marketplace.

People will continue to become more specialized in their tasks, meaning that the number of different things that people need to know will continue to be reduced. This ever-shrinking demand for individual scope of knowledge is what provides the opportunity for ever-growing market share of meaningless intellectual distraction. Religion will undoubtedly continue to benefit from this, since religion is at its root idealistic and irrational.


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Religion is a world-view based on fantasy. As people become increasingly detached from reality, religious views can become more strongly embraced and believed.

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Nationalism, religion and ignorance have always gone hand-in-hand throughout history, and now our society has the new human invention of corporatism to boost the influential power of ignorance. These things are not much maligned by the public because the majority of people, out of ignorance, have bought into the American fantasy. While religion may well play a part in all of this, secular irrationality is just as big a problem. Both religious and non-religious world-views become increasingly irrational and separated from reality.

In the future more personalized advertising techniques will be able to reinforce and cater to individual world-views, further allowing and promoting ideological compartmentalization.

Media and politicians will continue to reinforce idealism and irrational world-views based on "faith", "destiny", "Providence", etc. The dominant elements of American society are founded on general ignorance and are strengthened by increasing ignorance, therefore it is unlikely that any institutional effort to correct this "problem" will occur, as it is in fact the institutions that promote the problem in the first place. The problem is rooted in capitalist production itself, and as the title of this article states, the situation is a paradox, because capitalist production is the most productive economic system, and the protection of individualism is inherently "good.

In fact we may already be past that stage, and some could argue that we passed it long ago.

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The Paradox of Democratic Capitalism: Politics and Economics in American Thought

But, at any rate, a population of people wholly ignorant of reality is not fit for self government. It is doubtful that these problems will be addressed in American society because the majority of people are part of the problem. Irrational and ignorant views are embraced by the majority and reinforced by the establishment, thus most prospects for a domestic resolution to this problem are improbable.

A resolution to the problem would require the overthrow of the American establishment by a minority, which is not likely and thus the most probable outcome is the development of a distinct ruling class which will continue to be supported by the ignorant majority. As individuality and luxury become increasingly important to Americans, responsibility will continually be voluntarily given up to leadership. People become increasingly confused and frustrated by their own ignorance and simply give up control to others out of convenience.

This scenario is similar to that proposed by Plato in his B. A view of the effects of division of labor, however, was provided by Adam Smith in his work, The Wealth of Nations.


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  • In Book V Smith put forward a chilling, and perhaps all too accurate, depiction of the effects of the division of labor:. In the progress of the division of labour, the employment of the far greater part of those who live by labour, that is, of the great body of the people, comes to be confined to a few very simple operations, frequently to one or two.

    But the understandings of the greater part of men are necessarily formed by their ordinary employments. The man whose whole life is spent in performing a few simple operations, of which the effects are perhaps always the same, or very nearly the same, has no occasion to exert his understanding or to exercise his invention in finding out expedients for removing difficulties which never occur. He naturally loses, therefore, the habit of such exertion, and generally becomes as stupid and ignorant as it is possible for a human creature to become.

    The torpor of his mind renders him not only incapable of relishing or bearing a part in any rational conversation, but of conceiving any generous, noble, or tender sentiment, and consequently of forming any just judgment concerning many even of the ordinary duties of private life. Of the great and extensive interests of his country he is altogether incapable of judging, and unless very particular pains have been taken to render him otherwise, he is equally incapable of defending his country in war.

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    The uniformity of his stationary life naturally corrupts the courage of his mind, and makes him regard with abhorrence the irregular, uncertain, and adventurous life of a soldier. It corrupts even the activity of his body, and renders him incapable of exerting his strength with vigour and perseverance in any other employment than that to which he has been bred.

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    His dexterity at his own particular trade seems, in this manner, to be acquired at the expence of his intellectual, social, and martial virtues. But in every improved and civilized society this is the state into which the labouring poor, that is, the great body of the people, must necessarily fall, unless government takes some pains to prevent it.

    Who can know what may become of all this? Today it is not just the poor who are impacted by division of labor. Now that capitalism has spread the division of labor to all sectors of the economy, it affects everyone. Instead of our government taking pains to prevent the ill effects of division of labor upon society, these ill effects are embraced by the dominant institutions of our society in order to consolidate power. It's definitely not certain that our civilization will come to ruin, in fact a new and more powerful society may be formed, much like complex multi-cellular organisms are "superior" to independent single cells, so too an ignorant, yet highly specialized, American society dominated by a ruling class and living through a multi-media fantasy may become an even more potent economic and military power house.

    The Paradox of Democratic Capitalism: Politics and Economics in American Thought The Paradox of Democratic Capitalism: Politics and Economics in American Thought
    The Paradox of Democratic Capitalism: Politics and Economics in American Thought The Paradox of Democratic Capitalism: Politics and Economics in American Thought
    The Paradox of Democratic Capitalism: Politics and Economics in American Thought The Paradox of Democratic Capitalism: Politics and Economics in American Thought
    The Paradox of Democratic Capitalism: Politics and Economics in American Thought The Paradox of Democratic Capitalism: Politics and Economics in American Thought
    The Paradox of Democratic Capitalism: Politics and Economics in American Thought The Paradox of Democratic Capitalism: Politics and Economics in American Thought
    The Paradox of Democratic Capitalism: Politics and Economics in American Thought The Paradox of Democratic Capitalism: Politics and Economics in American Thought
    The Paradox of Democratic Capitalism: Politics and Economics in American Thought The Paradox of Democratic Capitalism: Politics and Economics in American Thought
    The Paradox of Democratic Capitalism: Politics and Economics in American Thought The Paradox of Democratic Capitalism: Politics and Economics in American Thought
    The Paradox of Democratic Capitalism: Politics and Economics in American Thought

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