4 Comments

  1. Thank you for this take Matt! It was illuminating for me to hear more about Peterson’s lack in terms of more sophisticated Marxism, and you’ve piqued my curiosity about said Marxism! Speaking of which, you did make one point toward the end about addressing the centralization of power in terms of money collected at the top 1% along with concerns about Davos etc. Peterson touched on this by saying that we ought not be concerned about richer people having more money, but rather more concerned about the poorest people having enough money. On that, first, I’m wondering about the dangers you see coming from top 1% companies and individuals having the power to design the economy. Are they different dangers than those concerns raised by Peterson regarding the centralization of power in the government? Second, what do you make of Peterson’s emphasis on raising the wealth of the poorest through the free market? Supposing Peterson is correct that the poorest are becoming less poor and their lives becoming more livable through the success of capitalism, is that a sufficient reason to be less concerned about the accrual of wealth by the top 1% in the private sector compared with centralization of power in government.

    I realize the questions might already be answered in another of your vids. If so, let me know which! I’m also curious about your proposal of decentralized power and how that works.

    Again, great video. You certainly are holding Peterson a bit more accountable to intellectual rigor than did Zizek. “Read something other than just the Communist Manifesto!” 🙂

    1. Hey James! Thanks for the comment.
      In response to Peterson (and people like Pinker) who argue that global capitalism lifted millions out of poverty, I admit that some of this may be true. On the other hand, I am suspicious of retroactively declaring that pre-capitalist societies lived in poverty simply because they didn’t have a need for money. Local subsistence-based communities were in many cases doing just fine before capitalism came in and commodified or appropriated the basics of life (food, water, shelter, etc.). A person whose community had been on the global periphery of capitalism who then suddenly gets sucked into the modern market economy and makes $2 a day is not automatically better off than when local networks of mutual support allowed them to get their needs met without money. Reading a bit about Marx’s theories of how capitalism produced “value” makes these sorts of dynamics more clear. Commodifying labor (so that workers have to sell themselves to the owners of companies for wages) in effect steals value from those doing the work to produce things in order to create surplus value or profit for the owners. Once a community or region has been swallowed by the capitalist system, people have no choice but to become wage slaves, because basic life needs that had been available via networks of mutuality now cost money. The capitalist economy has only ever been able to grow and produce more profits by generating surplus value from the alienated labor of workers, AND by continually expanding via colonialism to appropriate more natural resources without having to pay for them. At this point, there is no more land and labor left to exploit on the cheap, so the capitalist system has entered crisis mode. In some sense this point was reached way back in the 70s and 80s, when financialization took over to allow faux growth to continue, only now it was fueled by stagnant wages, massive debt, and betting on future income/financial speculation.

  2. Thanks for the reply Matt! Certainly much to think about there. Capitalism’s reliance on growth seems often to be criticized for it’s unsustainability and it seems to be a crucial point I’ve yet to understand.

    I think it is probably obvious to most who have given this arena more thought, but why does capitalism require growth? Is it impossible for capitalism and the free market to mediate the exchange of goods and services without demanding perpetual and impossible growth?

  3. Thanks for the reply Matt! Certainly much to think about there. Capitalism’s reliance on growth seems often to be criticized for it’s unsustainability and it seems to be a crucial point I’ve yet to understand.

    I think it is probably obvious to most who have given this arena more thought, but why does capitalism require growth? Is it impossible for capitalism and the free market to mediate the exchange of goods and services without demanding perpetual and impossible growth?

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