Morality of capitalism essay contest


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The US dollar stayed the same from until when the tax was enacted. The monster Roosevelt took us off of the gold standard. Wars all around the world could not be waged if real capitalism had survived because the government could not finance them. It is not capitalism my friend, capitalism works better than any system, it is the governments intervention income tax not money standard that destroyed America.

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3 thoughts on “Free market capitalism and morality”

Free market capitalism and morality. It has become increasingly difficult to make a case for the morality of markets even though free market capitalism has been unequalled in reducing poverty and discrimination, and in creating opportunities for social and economic advancement. The left has hijacked the moral high ground because the proponents of free markets have been incapable of mounting a credible defence for the benefits that free markets provide at both individual and societal levels. The recent financial crisis and the various market-rigging scandals have compounded the commonly held view that market behaviour is inherently immoral and divisive, even if it produces desirable outcomes.

The idea that free market capitalism is a mechanism to advance social order and decent humane relationships is considered outlandish. In reality, any attempts to modify the functioning of free markets through policy interventions and mould them into some ideal normative model invariably result in suboptimal outcomes compared to a market left to its own devices.

The root cause of the problem that free market capitalism faces is that modern society tries to assess the functioning of markets by attributes that are used to evaluate the morality of individual behaviour. In order to think about the morality of markets, or lack thereof, we need to consider morality as a two-dimensional construct. The second dimension is concerned with outcome-based morality, e.

2013 ‘Morality of Capitalism’ Essay Competition

Clark and Lee define these two sides of morality as magnanimous morality and mundane morality respectively. Magnanimous morality refers to behaviour that most people associate with true moral conduct. Although magnanimous morality may represent the highest virtue, it has problems in the wider economic context because such selfless altruistic behaviour is by necessity limited to a small group of benefactors and beneficiaries. As the benefactor is not expected to earn a return from his good deeds, and because the beneficiaries are supposed to be known to the benefactors, these acts of kindness can probably be found in small homogenous communities that tend share a similar ethnic or religious background or worldview.

Indeed, it can be argued that since magnanimous morality may foster the emergence of tightly knit, even closed social groups, it can become an isolating and divisive force within wider society. However, the concept of magnanimous morality has a strong hold on how we judge behaviour and it is incorrectly applied to judge the functioning of markets. Markets cannot operate under the conditions of magnanimous morality. They are mostly characterised by negative virtue or mundane morality. It is the profit motive, regardless of the positive market outcomes, that causes the critics to condemn market-mediated activity as selfish and immoral.

He generally, indeed, neither intends to promote the public interest, nor knows how much he is promoting it […] By pursuing his own interest he frequently promotes that of the society more effectually than when he really intends to promote it.

Yaron Brook - The Morality of Capitalism

John Naughton: At the moment, the world is obsessed with Facebook. But as you tell it, Google was the prime mover. Shoshana Zuboff: Surveillance capitalism is a human creation.

It lives in history, not in technological inevitability. It was pioneered and elaborated through trial and error at Google in much the same way that the Ford Motor Company discovered the new economics of mass production or General Motors discovered the logic of managerial capitalism. Surveillance capitalism was invented around as the solution to financial emergency in the teeth of the dotcom bust when the fledgling company faced the loss of investor confidence. Operationally this meant that Google would both repurpose its growing cache of behavioural data, now put to work as a behavioural data surplus, and develop methods to aggressively seek new sources of this surplus.

The company developed new methods of secret surplus capture that could uncover data that users intentionally opted to keep private, as well as to infer extensive personal information that users did not or would not provide. And this surplus would then be analysed for hidden meanings that could predict click-through behaviour.

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The surplus data became the basis for new predictions markets called targeted advertising. Here was the origin of surveillance capitalism in an unprecedented and lucrative brew: behavioural surplus, data science, material infrastructure, computational power, algorithmic systems, and automated platforms.

As click-through rates skyrocketed, advertising quickly became as important as search. Eventually it became the cornerstone of a new kind of commerce that depended upon online surveillance at scale. The success of these new mechanisms only became visible when Google went public in JN: So surveillance capitalism started with advertising, but then became more general?

SZ: Surveillance capitalism is no more limited to advertising than mass production was limited to the fabrication of the Ford Model T. It quickly became the default model for capital accumulation in Silicon Valley, embraced by nearly every startup and app.

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It has spread across a wide range of products, services, and economic sectors, including insurance, retail, healthcare, finance, entertainment, education, transportation, and more, birthing whole new ecosystems of suppliers, producers, customers, market-makers, and market players. I am fascinated by the structure of colonial conquest, especially the first Spaniards who stumbled into the Caribbean islands. Back then Columbus simply declared the islands as the territory of the Spanish monarchy and the pope. The sailors could not have imagined that they were writing the first draft of a pattern that would echo across space and time to a digital 21st century.

The first surveillance capitalists also conquered by declaration. They simply declared our private experience to be theirs for the taking, for translation into data for their private ownership and their proprietary knowledge. They relied on misdirection and rhetorical camouflage, with secret declarations that we could neither understand nor contest.

Towards a more enlightened kind of capitalism

Google began by unilaterally declaring that the world wide web was its to take for its search engine. Surveillance capitalism originated in a second declaration that claimed our private experience for its revenues that flow from telling and selling our fortunes to other businesses. In both cases, it took without asking. Page [Larry, Google co-founder] foresaw that surplus operations would move beyond the online milieu to the real world, where data on human experience would be free for the taking. As it turns out his vision perfectly reflected the history of capitalism, marked by taking things that live outside the market sphere and declaring their new life as market commodities.

We were caught off guard by surveillance capitalism because there was no way that we could have imagined its action, any more than the early peoples of the Caribbean could have foreseen the rivers of blood that would flow from their hospitality toward the sailors who appeared out of thin air waving the banner of the Spanish monarchs. Like the Caribbean people, we faced something truly unprecedented. Once we searched Google, but now Google searches us.


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Once we thought of digital services as free, but now surveillance capitalists think of us as free. This duality set information technology apart from earlier generations of technology: information technology produces new knowledge territories by virtue of its informating capability, always turning the world into information.

The result is that these new knowledge territories become the subject of political conflict. Now the same dilemmas of knowledge, authority and power have surged over the walls of our offices, shops and factories to flood each one of us… and our societies. Surveillance capitalists were the first movers in this new world.

They declared their right to know, to decide who knows, and to decide who decides. JN: So the big story is not really the technology per se but the fact that it has spawned a new variant of capitalism that is enabled by the technology? We have no formal control over these processes because we are not essential to the new market action.

Instead we are exiles from our own behaviour, denied access to or control over knowledge derived from its dispossession by others for others. We are the native peoples now whose claims to self-determination have vanished from the maps of our own experience. While it is impossible to imagine surveillance capitalism without the digital, it is easy to imagine the digital without surveillance capitalism. The point cannot be emphasised enough: surveillance capitalism is not technology. Digital technologies can take many forms and have many effects, depending upon the social and economic logics that bring them to life.

Surveillance capitalism relies on algorithms and sensors, machine intelligence and platforms, but it is not the same as any of those. SZ: Surveillance capitalism moves from a focus on individual users to a focus on populations, like cities, and eventually on society as a whole. Think of the capital that can be attracted to futures markets in which population predictions evolve to approximate certainty.


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This has been a learning curve for surveillance capitalists, driven by competition over prediction products. First they learned that the more surplus the better the prediction, which led to economies of scale in supply efforts. Then they learned that the more varied the surplus the higher its predictive value.

This new drive toward economies of scope sent them from the desktop to mobile, out into the world: your drive, run, shopping, search for a parking space, your blood and face, and always… location, location, location. The evolution did not stop there. It is no longer enough to automate information flows about us; the goal now is to automate us. These processes are meticulously designed to produce ignorance by circumventing individual awareness and thus eliminate any possibility of self-determination.

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