Thursday, October 1, 2009

Capitalism is Egoism

Capitalismo es Egoismo (Capitalism is Egoism) Written on an Advertising Light Box in the City Center of Buenos Aires, Argentina
I found this message written on one side of an advertising light box in the city center of Buenos Aires. This picture is rich in both, high contrast and expressiveness. The Scot Adam Smith (*1723 in Kirkcaldy, †1790 in Edinburgh) believed that rational self interest or egoism as the motive of our actions leads to wealth and prosperity. Thus, he is often referred to as one of the fathers of capitalism, although he never used that term himself. In fact, capitalism is the domination of capital over people, which is just confused with free market economy. Unbridled capitalism, in contrast, makes a few rich and many poor. Argentina is one of the best examples to illustrate that. Adam Smith already pointed out, "No society can surely be flourishing and happy, of which the far greater part of the members are poor and miserable" (The Wealth of Nations, 1776, Book I Chapter VIII).
What are your thoughts?

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10 comments:

Jacob said...

Interesting and perceptive post and very appropriate for the theme!

Bob Crowe said...

That's a lot to chew on. Rampant self-interest at the expense of others seems to be part of our human heritage, tempered in a few places at a few times. Communism failed, at least in part, because it assumed that people could be taught to value the collective over the self. Maybe some of the Western European nations have found some wobbly balance.

But, now that I think about it, to see how Portenos dress on Calle Florida and Avenida Santa Fe, egotism is doing well in BsAs.

By the way, my wife and I are trying to finish plans for our trip down your way in February. After visiting Santiago de Chile, we'll have 3 or 4 nights in Argentina outside of BsAs. We've never been to Bariloche or El Calafate. Would either of them be good for that many days?

Mirela said...

Fantastic shot!

@Bob - I'd say that communism (albeit a wonderful idea) failed because people are, by nature, egoists and greedy :), even though they would never admit it.

I personally like the fact that I work for myself and not for some fat dude in the communist party committee who thinks he knows what I want (and I'm saying this as a person who lived under socialism for 15 years of my life, 15 years in socialism-turning-to-capitalism/capitalism, 2 years in a monarchy-NL and 2 years in the capitalism-US).

Wolynski said...

Capitalism, in the end, is the same thing as what they had in the Soviet Union. To me, communism meant that there is only one employer: the State.
Capitalism is destined to play itself out - it's a temporary state. Because corporations compete and buy each other out, there will be only one winner in the end, and one employer: the Corporation.
Communism and capitalism are different hues of the same color - a means for the few to control many.

RogerB said...

Capitalism is competition, and competition is healthy. If communism or socialism were applied to sports, say running, everyone would have to finish at the same time. The same goes for industry and business - take away the competition and we all grow fat and lazy together.

Prospero said...

There's only one problem with capitalism - we only have one planet.

Martina said...

Besides the political and philosophical aspects: the photo's framing and lighting is great. This would make a great poster was one of my thoughts.

AB said...

I think both Argentina and the US suffer because the lawmakers are firmly in the pockets of the rich. So, of course, the rich get richer. As Joe Stiglitz has pointed out in the newspapers recently, when Argentina has suffered financial crises, the external force of the IMF has forced the politicians to act against the interest of their rich patrons. In the US, no such force has imposed reform on the financial sector. They have received billions from the US taxpayer in return for zero oversight and reform. This is capitalism at its most unjust and inefficient, and it does not bode well for the future. Ask Argentina.

Your EG Tour Guide said...

Hmmm. I confess that I'm not a fan of pure capitalism where the rich have a VERY unfair advantage over the poor and...what really gets my blood boiling...think they deserve it.

bill said...

This is found near Plaza Mayo, correctamente? I lived there until 2010, and used to see it everyday, and it was still there. I'm posting it to my Facebook page!