Doug Henwood/Mark Jones exchange (from LBO-Talk)

Craven, Jim jcraven at
Tue May 2 15:10:58 MDT 2000

The classical "Homo Oeconomicus" Model is enployed to tautologically "prove"
that capitalism is the only "eternal" and "most efficient" system
"possible". Starting from the a-priori assumptions that human beings are
"innately" driven to greed, selfishness, egoism and to  "maximize" (later
satisfice) profits, pleasure and incomes and to "minimize" risk, pain and
costs, coupled with the assumptions that human beings are innately perfectly
"rational" (later bounded rational), calculating (can figure costs and
benefits, costs and revenues, profits, pleasure, utility, risks),
self-centered, materialistic, acquisitive, status obsessed, materialistic,
etc, the tautological syllogism goes something like this:

1. Human beings are innately or by "nature" greedy etc....
2. That system which recognizes/harnesses/celebrates "human nature" rather
than denying or suppressing "human nature" is that which is the most stable,
efficient and eternal system
3 Capitalism recognizes, celebrates and harnesses rather than denies and
suppresses "human nature"
ERGO Capitalism is the most efficient, "natural" (in accordance with "human
nature") eternal of all possible systems.

It is all a contrived and tautological syllogism. According to Homo
Oeconomicus, Mother Teresa was some kind of masochistic slick hustler with a
unique "ultility function" maximizing grace points in heaven rather than
rupees and material possessions on earth (as are all martyrs who choose to
knowingly give up their lives for a transcendent cause).

So we get the classical butcher, baker and brewer of Adam Smith "showing"
how greed and selfishness and profit/utility/pleasure/market share
maximization and
derivative total cost/risk/pain minimization lead to unintended SOCIAL
outcomes and efficiencies (quantities and varieties of goods and services,
inventions/innovations, jobs, incomes, drugs to cure diseases, housing, food
etc) better and more efficiently than if the greedy/selfish individuals had
violated their "human nature" and decided to consicously act as social
beings in social ways.

The sad thing is that all of this shit is still the standard fare in all
textbooks in economics and other disciplines. I was with Dave Colander last
week and he told me that his new 4th edition of his Economics has been
totally sanitized so that nothing radical or even resembling anything
radical could be in it. He told me that he had asked for me to be the final
technical editor on the 4th edition as I was on the 3rd edition and was told
that "I thought too much like him and pushed him too far to the left" in my
reviewing. And no doubt the assholes who said that are jumping up and down
about how poor Elian is being sent back to Cuba to be "brainwashed" (as
opposed to being kept in the U.S. to be really brainwashed through academia
and media far more pervasive and sophisticated than anything that could be
dreamed up in Cuba if they were so inclined.).

Just like religious programming, the faithful will swear that indoctrination
had nothing to do with what they believe and how they act; they claim it is
divine revelation or it was in them all the time; of course they dismiss the
fact that they have known nothing else but what they profess to be the
revealed truth and have never acted or been taught to act in any way other
than how they typically behave --which is how the system rewards them to
behave and/or punishes them
when they behave otherwise.

And it's all summed up as "Human Nature" (to sanction/teach/justify acting
in inhuman ways for inhuman purposes).

Jim Craven

James Craven
Clark College, 1800 E. McLoughlin Blvd.
Vancouver, WA. 98663
(360) 992-2283; Fax: (360) 992-2863
blkfoot5 at
*My Employer Has No Association With My Private/Protected

-----Original Message-----
From: Charles Brown [mailto:CharlesB at]
Sent: Tuesday, May 02, 2000 12:22 PM
To: marxism at
Subject: Re: Doug Henwood/Mark Jones exchange (from LBO-Talk)

>>> "Ulhas Joglekar" <ulhasj at> 04/29/00 11:59PM >>>
It would be inaccurate, IMO, to say that GREED is the driving force of
capitalism. This would amount to saying that the basis for capitalism is
human psychology. Supporters of capitalism have always claimed that
capitalism is rooted in human nature. Henry seems to share that view even
when he is critical of capitalism.

CB: Greed is not human nature. It originates with class society.


Further, a world war today would be a nuclear war and would involve
destruction of humanity. Socialism today has nothing to gain from a world


CB: Henry said "foreign war" not world war.


----- Original Message -----
From: Henry C.K. Liu <hliu at>
To: <marxism at>
Sent: Sunday, April 30, 2000 8:45 AM
Subject: Re: Doug Henwood/Mark Jones exchange (from LBO-Talk)

> It is a fundamental truth that GREED, the driving force behind
> capitalism, is self destructive. It is the nature of greed to escalate
> toward suicidal ends. The very defintion of risk is built on danger.
> As long as capitalism prevails, war is inevitable.  Yet war is the
incubator of
> revolution.  No revolution has ever been born without being delivered by
> war.
> >
> Henry C.K. Liu

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