You are shallow, indeed, if you view freedom as a choice between Ford and Chevy. "Buy, Buy, Buy," urges society. "Be a conformist non-conformist. Be a materialistic rebel. Wear this brand of clothing." (See doublethink.) Such self-expression is fully compatible with the System and provides an outlet for any budding revolutionary feeling. Will socialism stifle individuality? Yes, if you identify yourself by your jeans, your brand of cola, the things you buy.
Ah, this node was cooled on Everything 1 as well. Double cool.. dig it!

As for the nature of capitalism... simply put, capitalism is the wage-labor relationship and the baggage it brings. It would be correct to say that the capitalistic society that was say, 19th century England, was not very consumerist. However, consumerism is an integral part of the new capitalism (detailed by themusic in hypercapitalism.) What do you think would happen to the economy if the populace abandoned consumerism for, say, Tolstoy-esque Christian asceticism? Not that I advocate such an extreme course.

As for socialism, any argument directed against state or public ownership I usually ignore. Socialism is not necessarily statism. Look into syndicalism.

(And why am I always confused as a Marxist?)
Capitalism does not urge one to define one's purchases... capitalism is simply man's natural state of freedom, before he limits himself through governmental or social mechanisms and as a resault, it neither says that one should or should not define one's self through one's purchases, it only indicates a state in which man is free to either define himself through his purchases or not, by his choice.

In capitalism, it is true, however, that man is defined by his purchases (or the lack thereof) as, by definition, in capitalism a man may choose what he buys and what he doesn't by, and any choice that a man makes, is a step towards defining the man who makes them.
"Capitalism is simply man's natural state of freedom."

I think I've quoted it correctly. Now, if anyone can throw their mind back to a time before capitalism transformed the face of the earth.

Maybe that was before the agrarian revolution that forcibly expelled pesants from the land--the commons--upon which they had subsisted for generations without the need for money, and the entire society built with the bricks of buy, sell,profit and capital. Before enclosures, created by the British Parliament, captured as it was by interests inimical to the peasants.

And today? IF YOU DON'T BUY, YOU DIE. Its as simple as that.

And who can think outside this box? Advertising has long been the most effective thought police the world has even known. Not only is there so little else to think about, we hardly have the apparatus to think about it with.

Capitalist institutions are so big, so total, that old bug-a-boo, hated in certain governments of Right and Left, that there is no hope for individuals in the face of these behemoths.

Only the much dispised unions, and government regulation, these 'limiting governmental and social mechanisms,' that are our only hope.

In Canada, there have been various experiments with public ownership, public sector, crown corporations, and public agencies because we have believed, unlike many, if not most, Americans, that the welfare of individuals is not best handled exclusively by the private sector.

A word of advice for everyone skeptical of capitalism:

If you don't want to buy, don't.

What is this blabber about the thought police? Name one corporation that would arrest you if you didn't buy their products. Even Microsoft doesn't do that. Capitalism may not be "man's natural state of freedom", but it definitely is better than socialism or worse yet, communism. You talk about advertising and marketing, but remember, those are only suggestions. You can't force someone to buy a product unless they want to.

Call it the stupidity of the average consumer. But if these people are smart enough to convince someone to buy their products, good for them. I never fall for ads. I make my own choices. And no, it isn't "mind control". You fell for their marketing. They never forced you to buy their products. the masses are not being "manipulated". If you people are going to be pissed off about "choices", then that's just too bad.

Public ownership? State enterprises??? Canada?!? themusic, have these Canadian experiments in socialism succeeded? Or have they failed and ended up being sold into private ownership?

Let me ask you, have you ever tried to make a call using a public phone in France? Probably not, because you'll realize just how inefficient government-maintained corporations tend to be. Formerly government-controlled British Airways was plowed under by the better service and pricing of private airlines. Been to China recently? Then you'll see, first-hand, how utterly crap state enterprises are. And it isn't a portion. All of them failed completely and ended up being sold to private owners. There is absolutely no way public ownership will ever be better than privately-owned enterprises, and it has been proven by countless examples. Didn't the Soviet Union collapse? Didn't China abandon communism? Or was I mistaken?

Think whatever you want, but if you're pissed at capitalism because it has turned into consumerism, complain about consumerism, not capitalism. And consumerism isn't as permeated into American society as some Marxists would like to think.

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