Humans evolved in a million year economic recession. This recession was caused by two basic problems driven by a combination of envy and failure to coordinate. These two problems are best summed up as the double coincidence of wants and the tyranny of cousins.
The double coincidence of wants is a problem in barter where in order for a trade to take place two people must coincidentally want exactly what the other person has. For example; let us say that I want meat, and have only cheese to give you. But you want bread and not cheese, and have only vegetables to give me. A problem exists here because you do not want what I have, and I do not want what you have. This problem makes trade impossible unless one of us accepts what the other person has, despite not wanting it, or we find some sort of intermediary person that wants to facilitate the trade.
The double coincidence of wants problem inhibits economic activity by stopping trade from occurring. All barter economies suffer from it, and it is the reason no ancient tribal society ever build microchips, jumbo jets, or other sophisticated technologies. Without money trade can never develop to the point of complexity necessary to facilitate the long supply chains that complex technologies require.
The Tyranny of cousins
The tyranny of cousins is a problem where, in tribal societies, your cousins can simply come into your dwelling a take what you have. If for example, you kill an animal, your cousins (and other members of your tribe), may simply steal your surplus meat without asking. This is a problem because it destroys the ability of people to accumulate the capital necessary for mass production to occur. Without property rights, all capital is destroyed by the theft of ones tribal members. Thus, no economic progress, or production on a large scale can occur. All of this requires surplus capital.
Native Americans are often glorified by the left for living is a state without property of any kind. The lie here is implicitly asserting that this was a voluntary arrangement. It was not. It was enforced by the violence of theft. The fact that it become a "norm" is simply testament to the human ability to internalize justifications for power. When you cannot prevent people from taking your possessions you psychologically internalize the abuse of theft and create a moral code out of generosity. You become excessively generous because you must.
The members of your tribe are many; you are only one, and guns have not yet been invented. A strong man, or a man with many violent friends, can take whatever he wants. Thus, the tribe is always socialist and patriarchal. And no, the last two are not contradictions in ancient societies. Tribes were both egalitarian AND male dominated.
The double coincidence of wants problem is abolished by money while the tyranny of cousins is abolished by property. Money facilitates trade between parties by creating a medium of exchange that everyone desires. Property inhibits envy by enforcing a clam on something with a police force. Capitalism can be defined as the gradual encroachment of property concepts into every aspect of life. As property concepts expand, violence decreases. By delegating the function of enforcement to a police force social relationships are formalized — that is, a ritual, or game, takes the place of guns or bombs. You have something I want. I could take it from you, or we could work out a game/ritual for deciding who gets it. This converts a contest of violence into a game of strategy. It transforms the system from one where muscle is evolutionarily adaptive to one where intelligence is genetically advantageous.
This is a persistent self-enforcing system of ritual. It is cultural in origin. It enforces itself through its necessity; humans prefer non-violence whenever possible. Capitalism can be defined as a European, and mostly British system of rituals. Considering that Europeans engaged in hundreds of years of continuous warfare due to the divided geography of their continent, it makes sense that this system would come out of Europe first.
As capitalism expands violence decreases.
Back in Quote Note # 290 I wrote;
"I think of capitalism as being a great alienating machine composed of dozens of social technologies with the tech consisting of turning countless social relationships into property.
Patents (property in ideas)
Trademarks (property in creativity)
Real estate (property in land/ houses)
Title (property in objects)
Contract (property in agreements)
Marriage (property in sex for men and resources for women)
Constitutions/Tort (property in rights)
Slavery (obsolete property in humans)
Futures (property in hedging risk)
Stocks (property in corporations)
Votes (equal property in government)
Bonds (property in debt)
Vouchers (property in services)
Insurance (property in risk compensation)
Money (property in other people’s work)
Capitalism is PROPERTY. Moreover, as more and more things are be defined as property capitalism expands its dominion into every aspect of life. Capitalism not only is property, it is the expansion of what constitutes property."Moreover, unlike feudalism, capitalism is distinguished by only allowing humans to be owners, and never to be property. Feudalism allows a person to own both things and people, while capitalism allows only the former. In capitalism you can own but, never be the thing owned. This is an historical accident of democracy giving people equal rights through an equal vote (equal property in government). Without democracy one would have "feudal capitalism," that is, a system of hyper-capitalism where ownership of people is also lawful.
Since all other forms of property allow accumulation except votes, voting is a form of misaligned property. Unlike stock, a person may own only one vote, and it is not transferable. Neocameralism aligns voting with the market by replacing votes with shares. The "equal property" of democracy is in fundamental conflict with the accumulative property of capitalism.
So our current system can be thought of as "democratic capitalism." Seen in this light, feminism is an extension of the democratic capitalist imperative, since it attacks sexual ownership (traditional marriage) by outlawing marital rape, (contract enforcement of sexual ownership).
But I digress.
Tribal societies have extraordinary levels of violence. In summary; capitalism ends that by formalizing all relationships. Formalization is identical to creating a "game" of economics where all outcomes are known in advance and enforced by a neutral third party police force.
The Prisoner's Dilemma of Capitalism
Any society that abandons capitalism gets overrun by the society that doesn't, since capitalism generates a large taxable surplus that is used to build weapons of war. Thus, every civilization is in a type of prisoners dilemma because of enemy armies. If you don't have capitalism then your ability to defend yourself is crippled and you can be invaded. Any society that has capitalism is militarily better off than one without, even if the socialistic preferences of some citizens of each nation would prefer socialism. One may think that Europe is an exception to this rule. But Europe is not really socialist. It is socially democratic, and the American military provides them with national defense.
Ultimately, the basis of capitalism are the militaries of the world and human genetic predisposition to xenophobia. If ones tries real socialism, (communism), then one cripples his economy and leaves himself open to invasion. An example of this is North Korea, who one suspects compensates for tremendous weakness with a lot of bluster and atomic weapons. North Korea has to have border guards watch each other to prevent them from defecting to the South. In the advent of an invasion it would not be surprising if most of their military surrendered to American forces.
One might think it could be possible to abolish capitalism by abolishing xenophobia. After all, without armies it would be possible to abolish property and money successfully. But this could only be done with genetic engineering, and genetic engineering faces the same problem that maintains capitalism: the prisoner's dilemma. Basically, any culture that genetically engineers its own population to no longer be xenophobic is then conquered by the one that doesn't. The remaining xenophobic people of the Earth carve up the land and nation of the "enlightened" people through conquest. They then genocide, interbreed with the conquered peoples, or both. If they interbreed, (which is inevitable) the genetic absence of xenophobia migrates back to the conquering culture. The conquerors are then less xenophobic than their neighbors and less able to defend themselves. They in turn are conquered by more xenophobic societies, and so on and so on. The level of xenophobia then returns to the equilibrium level worldwide after multiple conquests over several centuries.
As a process, civilization advances and violence declines as more relationships are formalized. Additionally, civilization is indistinguishable from the suppression of leftism. Suppression of leftism prevents the return of the million year recession, and prevents the conquest of a people by outside invaders. There is no escaping civilization itself. Thank God.
Oh, but you can destroy your own civilization in the attempt.
The point of all of this is to help the reader understand the nature of capitalism, why it is never going away, why anti-xenophobia is suicidal, why violence has reduced historically, and how formalization accomplishes that. Progress is equal to the expansion of formalization of relationships through property rights. Civilization is identical to suppression of leftism.