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Tragedy & Hope: Capitalism

Das Kapital Pynk

"History repeats itself, first as tragedy, second as farce." -K. Marx

I have heard the saying over and over from the younger generation behind mine say, “if you can make one dollar, you can surely make a million dollars.” And the truth is, yes. As a salesman, I have learned if you provide a service or a tangible good to a willing buyer, the real art of the deal is how your product or service gives the willing buyer the competitive edge over your competitors in your market. 

But what life has taught and marked me comes down to this: to make any profit by selling your service or product, your pitch should be told through a story, making the deal come natural and undemanding. 

How will your service or product spark an emotional desire upon the willing buyer? If you are gifted with a silver tongue and can paint sublime portraits upon the canvas of this would-be-buyer through the world of his/her imagination, the viable hook to propose the needed advantage; this is where lies the rub to obtain the green and prized crisp dollar. Of course, this would not matter if the world we resided in; the economic structure was not upon capitalism. 

I will not go into the depth of Karl Marx’s book, Das Kapital however, I aspire to guide you, Pynk Elephant, to understand fundamentals or even illuminate your pynk mynd how capitalism works. If you comprehend capitalism then, the coming blogs reviewing the book, Tragedy & Hope, by Carroll Quigley will be easy to understand.  

Professor Quigley, who taught American History and was a theorist of the evolution of civilization in the mid 20th century at Georgetown University, is better known for his speculating theories on global elites who are (in his time, the book published in 1966) aiming to run the world. 

To not deviate from our point of this blog, capitalism is an economic system motivated by profits determined by a price system (Quigley, 26). As the bottom line, the quote stated in the introduction has merit. Under capitalism, the late professor said,

“the commercial capitalist sought profits from the exchange of goods, the industrialist capitalist sought profits from manufacture goods; the financial capitalist sought profits from manipulation of claims of money (securities, stocks, bonds- PG); and the monopoly capitalist sought profits from manipulation of the market price and the amount sold such that his profits would be maximized.” 

39.

Well, if maximizing profits was the end game for the capitalist, then, in theory, the rich would get richer as the poor would get poorer.  But this was not the case in the mid 19th century, and it was under this fictional perception, Karl Marx penned down his volume, Das Kapital. His goal was to demonstrate how the blood (capital-labor) of the worker was usurped by the vampire known as the capitalist (The big boss). 

Unfortunately, Karl Marx’s desire to start a revolution among the proletariat (working class) and peasants (farmworkers, whom society saw as the uneducated) to go against the bourgeoisie (middle-class) and capitalist( Business owners, the cream of the crop); and to see capitalism as evil, failed flat.

 Not only did capitalism did not make the rich richer or the poor poorer, but the opposite. Capitalism moved capital wealth from the rich towards the poor, raising the standard-of-living of the less fortunate up in society. Capitalism gave birth to urban cities; the creation of new jobs and growth was now obtainable for anyone who desired employment. 

Capitalism also led a mass exodus from the inlands of European countries towards cities for people to work in factories, allowing those of the lesser class to rise from the peasantry or proletariat class into the bourgeoisie class. Even more, under capitalism, if you had an idea and capital to fund your venture, you can become a capitalist as well. Due to capitalism, the world got a chance to unshackle itself from the old feudalistic mentality of ranks of Kings, Aristocrats, nobles, and peasants to rise by own merit, climb the ladder of success not because of birth but because of economic status. 

At the turn of the 19th century, capitalism helped individuals raise their standard of living, many able to purchase lands, products, and even luxury goods their parents only dreamed of one day. And because of capitalism, this shifted how a nation/state conducted commerce and business with each other.

But in the macro sense of economics, capitalism shifted countries/nations to rethink how they can continue to provide the citizens of their respective abode, this new “normal,” the new standard-of-living they had embraced. Each year, with the rising wage of the time, prices of goods being at a fair market price led individuals to purchase many goods as it birthed the consumer we know today. This created a quandary: the individual is comparing his/her success in material wealth, their standard of living to the previous year, and if the individual did not obtain new material wealth, under capitalism and the bourgeoisie mentality, the individual had a bad year. 

The ‘new’ standard of living for the individual had become the luxury standard of living, meaning peasants and proletariats, bourgeois and even the capitalist began to live off of credit to portray a façade of success to impress one another. 

This led bankers to have leverage over society, as more people indebted themselves to obtain their wants, fetishes as Karl Marx would call it, bankers would use the art of usury (‘interest rate’ it would later be called) as a mean of keeping society indebted to banks which would later lead nations/countries to be indebted to them as well. Bankers corrupted the beauty of capitalism. 

As a country/nation in the 19th-20th century, the capitalistic economy had become almost dire to obtain the energy, materials, or chemicals to make the products, goods, or even lands people wanted. And this is why, understanding capitalism in a synopsis I am providing you -the pynk mynd, it will become clear why nations went to war before the first great war (WWI). Why economic depressions occurred, including that of 1929 (the great depression), and the ensuing rise of dictators, the second world war, and then eventually the cold war between the superpowers of the United States and U.S.S.R. 

In the coming blog, I will provide an overview of one of the blocks I found fascinating from reading Tragedy and Hope. I think it will help your pynk mynd understand how Europe and the United States were before 1914, the reason for wars before 1914 and why WWI occurred. For this, of course, you will need to:

Thynk Pynk!

Reference: Quigley, Carrol. Tragedy & Hope. New York: The Macmillan Company, 1966. Print.

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