Has "Super-Capitalism" Outmoded Democracy?

Heard some interesting commentary this morning on the Leonard Lopate show by former Secretary of Labor Robert B. Reich on why he thinks “super-capitalism” has outmoded democracy.

He posits that Americans are increasingly disengaged from the democratic process and people are more concerned about prices than creating a stronger social fabric… So the question we beg is…

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  1. qwickone says:

    Maybe it’s because with all the crap the Bush administration is responsible for right now, I’m not really proud to be an American.

  2. nardo218 says:

    This is new? The idea that people care more about their day to day lives than overgrown boys’ games far away?

  3. kelbear says:

    The question in the poll is “leading”. It primes you by first telling you by first pointing you towards someone who says that capitalism is beating democracy, leading you to agree as if it were after-the-fact. Plus the poll is on a site called “The Consumerist” so there’s bias #2.

    Biases can be subtle on the individual, but on the resulting numbers the influences become apparent.

    Always take web polls with a grain of salt. That said, even being aware of the potential bias, I would assume that most will fall into the second category anyway.

  4. nardo218 says:

    This is new? The idea that people are more concerned about their day to day lives than overgrown boys’ games far away?

  5. Ben Popken says:

    @kelbear: Hello, blog, not Gallup.

  6. Buran says:

    How about giving people some respect and not using the demeaning “consumer” label? How about calling us “buyers” or “citizens”?

  7. yahonza says:

    Well, I have to say this seems like a positive trend to me. I am for a minimalist government. The fewer things decided on by the government, and the more decided on by the market, the better.

  8. axiomatic says:

    I submit that I answered “I am a consumer” but wish I could have said “I am a citizen.”

    I can’t pick “I am a citizen.” though because I am MUCH more disgusted with politics than I am with consumerism, however my desires as a consumer seem to have MORE political weight than my political desires as a citizen. So in truth, I can only pick “I am a consumer” because there is no current political party that represents me.

  9. Maurik says:

    People have to realise democracy is a METHOD of choosing government. Super-Capitalism is an IDEOLOGY.


    A government chosen in a democratic fashion can exhibit Super Capitalistic traits, as it can with communist traits as well as minarchist traits.


    The real question is, what is super-capitalism, is it fascism (which by definition is; the Government working with corporations) or is it free-market anarchism (the government not at all involved with corporations). BOTH would result in growth for companies, yet one will lead to an oligopoly of larger companies and the other a more spread out field of smaller companies.


    The post talks about Americans being disengaged from democracy, which is true in a sense since the method of choosing government in the United States, is somewhat flawed (two party system and voting power of each state).


    The poll which is currently at results:
    Citizen: 61.5% (40 votes)
    Consumer: 38.5% (25 votes)


    It is stange to see this, especially as it is primarily a US oriented website. People from the US are not actually citizens, this is a term made by recent US governments: note that the early consitution does not mention citizenship. It’s a shame that many people believe their right to “live” has to be authorized by the state, thus making one a citizen.


    (I was going to write a conclusion, but I’ll leave it open ended.)

  10. Beerad says:

    @Maurik: Well, to be a wee bit picky, a government might be able to exhibit socialist traits, but it would be hard to exhibit communist traits by definition (unless it’s a very short-lived government).

  11. B says:

    @Maurik: I think both choices would end up with monopolistic situations. Either the big corporations use the government to stomp out smaller competition, or they grow to become monopolies, unchecked by government interference.

  12. mbrutsch says:

    I would have rather had a third option, such as “I am a person”. I consider myself neither a citizen (despite paying the IRS for that privilege) nor a consumer (although that’s the only way to live in the US).

  13. Jaysyn was banned for: http://consumerist.com/5032912/the-subprime-meltdown-will-be-nothing-compared-to-the-prime-meltdown#c7042646 says:

    Is “Super-Capitalism” newspeak for fascism?

  14. yahonza says:

    @Maurik:
    Fascism = “the Government working with corporations?”

    That would pretty much make all governments fascists.

    From the horse’s mouth (i.e. Mussolini’s):

    “Anti-individualistic, the fascist conception of life stresses the importance of the State and accepts the individual only insofar as his interests coincide with those of the State, which stands for the conscience and the universal will of man as a historic entity…. The fascist conception of the State is all-embracing; outside of it no human or spiritual values can exist, much less have value…. Fascism is therefore opposed to that form of democracy which equates a nation to the majority, lowering it to the level of the largest number…. We are free to believe that this is the century of authority, a century tending to the ‘right’, a Fascist century. If the nineteenth century was the century of the individual (liberalism implies individualism) we are free to believe that this is the ‘collective’ century, and therefore the century of the State.”

  15. yahonza says:

    @Maurik:

    Fascism = “the Government working with corporations?”

    That would pretty much make all governments fascists.

    From the horse’s mouth (i.e. Mussolini’s):

    “Anti-individualistic, the fascist conception of life stresses the importance of the State and accepts the individual only insofar as his interests coincide with those of the State, which stands for the conscience and the universal will of man as a historic entity…. The fascist conception of the State is all-embracing; outside of it no human or spiritual values can exist, much less have value…. Fascism is therefore opposed to that form of democracy which equates a nation to the majority, lowering it to the level of the largest number…. We are free to believe that this is the century of authority, a century tending to the ‘right’, a Fascist century. If the nineteenth century was the century of the individual (liberalism implies individualism) we are free to believe that this is the ‘collective’ century, and therefore the century of the State.”

  16. harumph says:

    as devo said in the 70’s, we live in a corporate feudal state. it is much truer now than it was back then.

  17. harumph says:

    @yahonza: that’s the point, corporations are now the government, they just don’t put it like that.
    whatever entity is acting in the role of government has never shrunk, it just has a different face. you are not any freer than you ever were and they have no plans for you to be freer. they just want you to think you are while sucking you dry.
    recently the supreme court handed down decisions upholding free speech rights for corporations and narrowing free speech rights for individuals. what direction does that trend indicate?

  18. yahonza says:

    I just can’t agree with that. I don’t even know where to begin, but you may as well have just said that black is white.

    I’ll start with just two problems with what you write:

    1) I am a lawyer myself, and most people have little understanding of what the Supreme actually decide. Are you saying that there is a case that specifically says that tehre are things that corporations may say that individuals may not? Becuase I suspect you are conflating entirely different situations.

    2) In what sense am I (or you) not free? And people from what place or time in history or geography are more free than you or me?

    I could go on, but I can’t even get past those two points.

  19. B says:

    @mbrutsch:
    We are all individuals.
    I’m not.
    Shhh.

  20. yahonza says:

    @harumph:

    I just wrote a long reply post, now it seems to be lost in space, which seems to happen here a lot.

    Anyway, I could not agree with you less.

    To begin with, the idea that we are somehow less free today than we were in the 70’s is bizarre to me. I have been around long enough (43 years) to remember the seventies well. And the eighties. and the nineties. and this decade. My opinion, there is no sense in which we live in a less free society.

    So please tell me what year or in what place people are more free than you and me today. AS a point of reference, until a few years ago, this very exchange we are having would have been impossible.

    Second, as a lawyer, I am sure you have misunderstood whatever supreme court opinions you are referring to. IS there an opinion that specifically says corporations may say things that individuals may not? Or are you just conflating completely different decisions about completely different issues?

  21. ancientsociety says:

    People are “disengaged” from the “democratic process” because the majority of us realize that what we want, as citizens and taxpayers, makes very little difference to the decision-makers.

    We realize that our government, from top to bottom, has become filled with cronyism and nepotism. That no matter what “party” you vote for they are ALL made up of the same career politicians who are financed by the rich and big business and hence only have their best interests in mind.

    So, in the end, it doesn’t really matter if you see yourself as a “citizen” or a “consumer” – either way you hold very little power in “super-capitalism”

  22. krom says:

    But the problem with this survey is that it reflects what people *think* they are rather than what they are *in practice*.

    That, and the sample base is skewed towards intellectuals.

  23. Galls says:

    This concept is over a decade old.

    All

    This

    Guy

    Is

    Doing

    Is

    Repeating what he read in a book called No Logo by Naomi Klein. Who in turn was just documenting the process by which marketing and shopping has replaced the public space. Which in turn in was predicted and warned against by some philosopher at the beginning of the industrial revolution.

    But you should read No Logo and not this know it all, know nothing.

  24. Galls says:

    Oh and I forgot to add that the theory is correct in every was shape and form.

  25. swalve says:

    This seems to be a false dichotomy.

  26. andrewsmash says:

    Considering I can’t afford to play in this “pay to participate” system, I’ll have to choose “C” – a Victim.

  27. Phuturephunk says:

    Anyone who answered ‘consumer’ over ‘citizen’ should be ashamed of themselves. If you did that, you’re part of the problem.

  28. I picked citizen. I don’t think I “identify” with being a consumer at all. If I were to make a list of things that describe me I’d list my nationality before stating that I’m a consumer.

    I think that how I identify myself is a separate issue from what I’m most worried about and/or what I usually worry about.

  29. mac-phisto says:

    i was contemplating this very idea the other day (seriously, GET OUT OF MY HEAD!!!).

    “super-capitalism” or neo-feudalism as i prefer to call it, hasn’t outmoded democracy. in fact, democracy is its biggest friend. corporations prefer democratic states for their liberal access to government & markets, safety & stability. there are also less noble reasons such as their susceptibility to greed & corruption.

    political capital is an important resource for these corporations & it is harvested just as wheat from a field or oil from a well. nothing has really changed within our political system – the “iron triangle” has always been composed of the legislature, bureaucracy & special interest (in this case “big business”). the only real change has been the players.

    the rise of the MNC (multi-national corporation) has twisted the relationship between government & business since historically domestic business has received preferential treatment over foreign business. in today’s environment, foreign corporations are able to manipulate our laws by masking as domestics & businesses that were once considered “american companies” are american in name only.

    that is the pickle. whose interest should our government protect? the company headquartered in omaha that moved all of its production to indonesia or the german company that manufactures their products in the u.s.? one claims “citizenship”; one acts as a “citizen”.

  30. Balisong says:

    I guess I considered the question the wrong way. I was thinking more of in a world-view, in which I am far more of a consumer than people in other countries, who probably value their citizenship more than me. I also considered how I, as the average citizen, would be viewed by government, corporation, other people in the world. I just equate american with consumer and overthink simple questions, doesn’t mean I went out and bought an SUV during my lunch break.

  31. astrochimp says:

    Ich bin ein Berliner (persönlich).