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It is called "plutocracy"

It is called "plutocracy"

Posted May 17, 2013 10:54 UTC (Fri) by man_ls (guest, #15091)
In reply to: Strongbox and Aaron Swartz (The New Yorker) by theophrastus
Parent article: Strongbox and Aaron Swartz (The New Yorker)

Capitalism is probably the best form of national government, except when it runs unrestrained.
So capitalism is now a form of government? I thought it was just an economic system, and that democracy was the best form of government. Government by the rich (those holding the capital) is called "plutocracy", money has not yet had the opportunity to exert power without the aid of those holding it.

Perhaps we should just readjust our democratic expectations.


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It is called "plutocracy"

Posted May 17, 2013 15:34 UTC (Fri) by theophrastus (guest, #80847) [Link]

can you imagine a form of government based upon socialism? i think a representative democracy can be either socialist or capitalist. of course, the proper terminology for the states is that it's a republic.

It is called "plutocracy"

Posted May 23, 2013 13:16 UTC (Thu) by Seegras (guest, #20463) [Link]

> the proper terminology for the states is that it's a republic.

Off-Topic: Why do they use these imperial units of measurement then, and not the republican (metric!) ones? ;)

It is called "plutocracy"

Posted May 27, 2013 21:16 UTC (Mon) by nix (subscriber, #2304) [Link]

Imperialist British pressure, obviously!

yrs,
a totally metricated Englishman

It is called "plutocracy"

Posted May 17, 2013 15:37 UTC (Fri) by nybble41 (subscriber, #55106) [Link]

> So capitalism is now a form of government?

Capitalism is an economic system, but it implies a form of government which generally upholds private property rights. That in turn implies that there are constitutional limits to the power of the majority, or whoever else is in charge, which protect individuals from having their property arbitrarily confiscated for public use (or for the private use of others). This is obviously judged on a sliding scale; governments are more or less compatible with capitalism depending of how much they respect private property rights. The nature of government implies that property rights are not always respected (e.g. taxes and the monopoly on force).

A pure democracy would not be compatible with capitalism (or rights in general) because it would make individual rights subordinate to the will of the majority.

It is called "plutocracy"

Posted May 17, 2013 15:55 UTC (Fri) by man_ls (guest, #15091) [Link]

That is a very strange view of democracy. In democracies at any point in History, public rights always trump private rights, or else it would be impossible to collect taxes (as you correctly state), build roads (for which land has to be confiscated), set rights of way (for which private rights have to be overridden), gather an army or practically anything else that a government does. In fact the government prints money and grants (or at least administers) property rights.

In a democracy it is up to the people's will (and the designated government) to define up to which point private interests have to bend to the public benefit. Obviously private citizens have to respect the rights of other private citizens, but those rules do not apply to the government, even in the US. Individual rights always have to subordinate to the will of the majority, no matter what they tell you. If in the US a communist party were to win the elections, you would have collectivized property in no time -- nothing in the US constitution precludes it (and even if it did it would be ammended).

It is called "plutocracy"

Posted May 17, 2013 17:39 UTC (Fri) by nybble41 (subscriber, #55106) [Link]

The idea that you have rights independent of the will of the majority is incompatible with the idea that rights are defined by the will of the majority. The U.S. government (and most other western governments) fall somewhere in between; they endorse the idea of private property in general, but allow that right to be violated in (more or less) specific, uniform, and well-defined circumstances. Taxes are permitted, but (as originally envisioned) they must be applied uniformly, and only exist to fund the government's enumerated powers. Confiscation of property for public use is permitted, but only with "just" compensation. The default state is that the majority does not have the right to take your private property for its own use, with narrow exceptions.

> If in the US a communist party were to win the elections, you would have collectivized property in no time -- nothing in the US constitution precludes it (and even if it did it would be ammended).

The Constitution could certainly be amended, though the requirements for an amendment are higher than simply winning elections; amendments must be ratified by three-fourths of the state governments. I doubt fully collectivized property would be considered legal under the current Constitution, however, due to the 5th Amendment:

> No person shall ... be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.

Sorry for the off-topic

Posted May 17, 2013 20:24 UTC (Fri) by man_ls (guest, #15091) [Link]

The default state is that the majority does not have the right to take your private property for its own use, with narrow exceptions.
I would rather say that what can be "private property" is defined by the majority, and even that definition allows for exceptions. For example: beaches cannot be made private in Spain by law because we recognize that collective property is better for everyone. Streets are recognized as public property everywhere, and only the lots assigned to housing can be traded. You cannot own other people, or exotic animals, or dangerous pets without a license. And so on. The same is true for all money, which is even printed and distributed by the government. And money used for any purposes not approved by the government will be readily frozen or even confiscated. Some examples: drugs, gambling, trading with disliked foreign countries, weapons dealing, or terrorism.
No person shall ... be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.
This is a debate for a different forum, but think that "due process of law" is defined by the government, and "just compensation" is a rather weak concept.

I just wanted to point out, which is in line with the main article, that the democratic State is far-reaching, and this is not only theory; this is practical use and has been for centuries. However our government is not yet "capitalist" but "democratic", at least in theory.

It is called "plutocracy"

Posted May 17, 2013 16:44 UTC (Fri) by Funcan (subscriber, #44209) [Link]

Realistically, moneyed interests already have a far greater influence on our government than the man in the street. Even millions strong public protests have very little effect on government policy. We're therefore in some sort of hybrid democracy/plutocracy, and since it appears that every capitalist society is heading towards the same thing to some degree or another, is it not unreasonable to describe this as 'capitalist government', if it is a unique sort of government that comes from, and only from, a capitalist society?


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