Are Capitalism and Racism Conjoined Twins Inexorably Linked?


There are very specific things about racism and Capitalism that don’t necessarily have to go together, but does Capitalism necessarily depend on and/or create an underclass? If so, must that underclass be something near borderline subsistence at best and without security? Is that only not the case when some there’s at least some socialism or something else? Similarly, does Capitalism depend on or necessarily create scarcity (real or artificial)?

My view is that a mostly capitalist economy with strong regulations, including a living wage minimum wage, and a strong safety net, including single payer healthcare, can be a viable system. Capitalism does necessarily create scarcity, but that doesn’t have to mean a mostly capitalist economy creates scarcity to the degree that people can’t survive comfortably in the “underclass.”

In other words, I’m not too worried about scarcity of BMWs, Rolexes, and multi-million dollar homes. I’m worried about making sure that an honest 35-40 hour work week yields enough money to get by, save up for a reasonable amount of leisure spending, and save up for retirement, and that those who are unable to work or currently unemployed are adequately cared for.


I should add, part of the big problem here is that we do have socialism for corporations and the wealthy. We’ll pump a couple trillion into the stock market to preserve wealth, no sweat. That’s not free market capitalism. We’ll give loopholes and handouts to the rich, no big deal. We’ll give sweetheart no bid contracts out like candy, sure. We’ll let big corporations lobby the fuck out of Congress to buy policy, sure thing.

If we redirected that money and attention to the bottom of the pyramid and let it lift all ships, we’d have a much more functional economic approach that I would still describe as mostly capitalist.

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The essence of capitalism is the drive for profit and growth; all else is subsumed to it. What you are describing is naturally what capitalism must come to-- a capture of any regulatory apparatus that would inhibit profit and growth, once sufficient power to do so is achieved.

I just want a world where human rights come before profit, not the other way around.


You would love this Milton Friedman guy.

This is somewhat tangential, but how possible is that in the real world? Is Scandinavia like the max? Capitalism ?= inequality in wealth. Inequality in wealth = inequality in power. Power = more wealth. Will a perfectly free market inevitably tend towards a corrupt version with monopolies and government capture?

I don’t know. Has there ever been a perfectly free market anywhere?

Freedom to sell one’s labor freely is an important human right and entirely consistent with maximizing profit. I don’t believe human rights and profit are incompatible; they’re more reinforcing than anything.

Yes and that’s what has happened, my view is that we need a reset and better regulations, which include separating money and power as much as possible so the system doesn’t end up back in this spot in 50 years.

Dunno. I’m sure not like all aspects of any large society, but there are probably interesting examples of essentially free markets that have either been stable or tended towards something else. I can’t think of anything off hand though.

The Nordic model seems to be working better than anything else, no? At least in terms of happiness among the population combined with economic strength.

A perfectly free market with no regulations should always trend towards government capture by the top 1% or so. If you regulate that out of it, I believe it could work. Keep in mind as well that eventually it stops being a free market, and starts being socialism for the power holders in the system. When large chunks of the economy are too big to fail, the risk-reward calculus gets radically altered.

So you could argue that fully unregulated free market capitalism is impossible to sustain, and will always eventually collapse on itself one way or another.

OK where is this magic world where labor is sold “freely” and not under coercion of pain and death?

My view is roughly that there’s never been such a thing as a free market, because there’s always some compromising factor, be it as little as asymmetrical information or as large as “if I don’t sell my labor, I’ll die, so I have to take what I can get.”

And other people better at it than me, going back even 150 years, have called that this is the inevitable endpoint of capitalism. The world cannot sustain infinite growth. And we have plenty of money now, it’s just not distributed properly. Forbes estimated in 2012 that there was at least $22 TRILLION stored in offshore tax havens-- and that was before the Panama Papers and the Paradise Papers. (Did you know the journalist who broke the Panama Papers was killed by a car bomb in Malta? Happens all the time, I’m sure.)

What we have is wildly unsustainable and we must meet the moment with something better.


I agree, I’m just saying that we can do that without abandoning capitalism altogether. We need guardrails and a safety net.

The response to anyone seriously advocating “free market capitalism” should just be “fuck you.”


Said the fox to the hen.

What benefit or progress does capitalism provide toward this outcome, other than “it’s what we’re already doing?”

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Everything else that’s ever been tried is worse ainec?

I know you grew up with Cold War propaganda, so I’m trying to cut you some slack, but:

  • Capitalism is literally setting the planet on fire. What’s worse than that?
  • Name a country that tried to move past capitalism and failed, and failed for a reason other than the US Empire and its allies interfered with the government, be it through economic sanctions, covert ops, funding mercenaries, or outright war (or some combination thereof).