Friday, June 06, 2003

New World Order
Almost universally, philosophers are or try to be nominalists. People at large, however, are realists and think that words name essences. They imagine, for example, that it makes sense to talk about the human consequences of Capitalism without specifying the which, when, and where of the capitalism in question. That’s unfortunately because it is especially important to check the expiration dates on the concepts we use to think about the world. We’re just now entering an unprecedented period of economic and political history, not only or perhaps not even especially because of drastic changes in technology, but because for the first time we’re going to see what Capitalism is like without the moderating force of effective opposing powers. In the long 19th Century, business interests were opposed by landed money, assorted dynasts, labor unions, socialists, anarchists, and populists. In the short 20th Century, the threat and appeal of Communism and the necessity of mobilizing the populace at large for war likewise limited aggrandizement by corporate interests. As of the current juncture, though mopping up operations may continue for some time, there is no effective organized opposition to corporate power—rioting in Davos doesn’t count.

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