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Home :: Archive :: 2001 :: March ::
Re: Callous Cash Payment Values
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 12.0678  Wednesday, 21 March 2001

[1]     From:   Steve Roth <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 20 Mar 2001 10:08:07 -0800
        Subj:   Re: Callous Cash Payment Values

[2]     From:   Clifford Stetner <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 20 Mar 2001 22:40:15 -0500
        Subj:   Stock Values


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Steve Roth <
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Date:           Tuesday, 20 Mar 2001 10:08:07 -0800
Subject:        Re: Callous Cash Payment Values

Don Bloom wrote:

> I am, first of all, unsure of what is meant by
>"late" capitalism? 20th Century capitalism? 19th and 20th? Is it thus
>opposed to early (15-16th C) and middle (17-18th C) capitalism.

Seconded!

Thirds and fourths by others of more authority:

Samuel Johnson, quoted by Boswell: "No man but a blockhead ever wrote
except for money."

Heminges and Condell, in their introduction "To the Great Variety of
Readers" in the First Folio: "But whatever you do, Buy."

<g>

Steve

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Clifford Stetner <
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Date:           Tuesday, 20 Mar 2001 22:40:15 -0500
Subject:        Stock Values

Don:

>I am, first of all, unsure of what is meant by
>"late" capitalism? 20th Century capitalism? 19th and 20th? Is it thus
>opposed to early (15-16th C) and middle (17-18th C) capitalism.

As I understand it, late capitalism refers to the era of dominance of
multinational banks and corporations.  Marx called the late middle
ages/early modern period the period of "primitive accumulation" when the
bourgeois/proletariat dialectic had not yet supplanted the
aristocrat/commoner dialectic in macroeconomic processes.  I guess
everything in between (characterized by capitalism on a national scale)
is mid capitalism?

>Second,
>I'm not sure when the values of capitalism were remarkably different
>from the way they are now. Were they ever based on anything except
>payment ("cash" would seem to me a factor less typical of late
>capitalism than earlier forms)? Were they ever anything except callous?
>*Could* they ever be anything except callous?

There is a discrepancy in early capitalism between the values that
society claimed, and those that actually drove it.  Few people today
think of usury as ungodly; few think of devoting one's life to
accumulation of personal wealth as ignoble.  Marx said that capitalism
would eventually do away with all other values, both actual and
rhetorical.  Dead or not, Nietzsche left us a model of this sort of
transvaluation of values.  Antonio and the Christians might be a model
of an uncalloused capitalism, but while they win in the play, Shylock
has the last laugh in the real world.

<snip>
>Individual capitalists may be quite generous in their private giving to
>charities, the arts, medical research or whatever, but that has nothing
>do with their "capitalizing." The only value that it ever had (that I
>can think of) is profitable investment of capital. Any other values --
>such as not investing in possibly profitable enterprises because they
>are morally repugnant -- have always been imposed from outside.

When Christians first went into the banking business, they often denied
that breeding metal was ungodly.  According to Weber, the early
Calvinists saw their increasing monetary wealth as a sign of grace.
This goes beyond the later values of charity and green investment with
which the callouses of capitalism have been justified.

>My values coincide with Clifford's in admiring those who put in hard
>work to do something for others and for the good that the end product
>will accomplish.

Doesn't it strike you as something of an anomaly in our culture?  The
hardest thing about being a literary scholar today is that it requires
just as much work as being a stock broker, but you usually end up
working poor, which means sharing the social status of the laborers
exploited by the capitalists and must forgo the respect offered by our
materialistic culture to the 'successful.'  It is, in this sense,
subversive in that one's labor implicitly makes the claim for values
that are not measurable in dollars.  While almost everyone would still
claim that other values continue to exist in the world, such claims are
effectively negated if all one's labor is directed towards materialistic
ends.

>But much of my retirement money lies in the hands of
>capitalists, and while I prefer that they invest the money morally, I
>also prefer that they invest it profitably.

Perhaps one thing that defines late capitalism is that all of our
retirement money lies in their hands whether we choose to invest in the
market or not.  They have done away with pensions; they have done away
with tenure; they have done away with job security, and nowhere more
effectively than in academia.  I'm afraid that your preferences will
become increasingly incompatible as the self destructive principle
inherent in capitalist economics (also identified by Marx) inevitably
makes moral investment increasingly unprofitable.  Not only does much of
the wealth generated by American capitalism depend on sweat shop
exploitation and poisoning of the natural environment, but the
accelerating accumulation of wealth in the hands of the biggest
capitalists will drive the rest of the world into a depression and bring
the whole machine to a crashing halt.

Unless you're a multinational bank, or can afford to drop forty billion
dollars like Bill Gates, I would advise (as I have for some time)
limiting your exposure to the fluctuations of the capitalist markets.

Best of luck,
Clifford
 

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