The Myth of Capitalism: an ardent capitalist decries monopoly

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Haven’t read Tepper. Does his rejection of Piketty actually entail a rigorous critique of the interest/growth inequality r > g? Because without that any critique would seem to me to be blowing smoke from a rather surprising orifice.

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What I don’t understand is how we’ve arrived at an “all or nothing” approach to capitalism vs. socialism. In the US, at least, you can’t have anything close to a nuanced and detailed discussion without being labeled either a Marxist or Gordon Gecko from the fringes of both sides.

Seems to me that a balanced position with lessons taken from post-Soviet era communism and social democratic European states combined with regulated western capitalism would be the best approach.


It sounds like they differ more on the remedy than the general disease, and that on the latter Tepper focuses more on corporations while Piketty is more concerned with individual and family wealth. In either case, though, anti-competitive behaviour is baked into late-stage capitalist society.


Yes, but both the far left and the robber barons hate it when people bring that up. It undermines the false dichotomy where both of them get to present their ideology as the only alternative to the unacceptable opposite.

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The point of Piketty is to get a solid macro-economic lens on structured wealth and income distribution inequality at global and national levels. If Tepper isn’t speaking to the determinants of wealth and income distribution I don’t see the relevance of the commentary and/or comparison between the scholars.

Like I said, Tepper’s doing so in the context of corporations rather than individuals and households. Apple hoarding its wealth in treasury or gambling it on derivatives rather than putting it back into the American economy is as much “r > g” behaviour and concentration of wealth as anything Piketty describes, so I doubt they’re far apart on the general root of the problem.

Their divergence is based on their focus. Piketty sees a global wealth tax as the main way to break up concentrated wealth, where Tepper (from what I’ve read so far) sees more aggressive anti-trust action and regulation as a means to that end.


What I’ve read of Piketty is his view is global with a critical eye towards traditional aristocratic generational wealth - which makes sense as he’s French after all. Tepper may be looking at the issue from a corporate/business standpoint. Same issue, different perspectives.


And different prescriptions. Tepper’s seems more feasible than Piketty’s cat-herding solution, although it’s never going to be 100%, either; while Western liberal democracies might possibly rein in their multinational corporations with new anti-trust regulation, that’s not going to happen in crony capitalist authoritarian states like China or illiberal democracies like Hungary.

ETA: then again, maybe a wealth tax is just as feasible in liberal democracies:


You can’t have balance when one side has their thumb pushing down on their side and refuses to take it off, or even admit it’s there in the first place. That has been the lesson I learned from the last 30 years.

I personally think the best approach is Kropotkin style libertarian-socialism with Bookchin’s libertarian municipalism as the basis for governance. We know the old is broken, let’s try something new. It’s not like M-L was the only alternative to capitalism.


Something that makes it even harder is there is no one-size fits all solution. Regional differences in the way markets are viewed, what constitutes “the market”, historical events that influence the population’s attitudes, regional conflicts, political differences, variations in what shapes economic output, etc…all of if has to be considered otherwise it won’t work.

What works for China, for example, will not work in Denmark, Australia, or India. There are so many variables that influence what the right mixture of capitalism/socialism/xxx-ism will work for that country, region and population. I think everyone is pretty much united on the problem but I just don’t see how a grand unified theory of remediation can work.

Not to mention there’s not a lot of room for error. The forces aligned against putting any kind or restrictions on the global corporatists currently controlling things are very powerful and won’t sit still and watch their power erode willingly.


The link to the John Siman review is broken, because Naked Capitalism had to pull the post. The author of The Myth of Capitalism John Tepper, freaked out and he and Wiley threatened copyright infringement: read this

Maybe both approaches are needed to be effective (while/if there is still time).
From what I understand there once was aggressive anti-trust laws and corporate regulation yet wealth was still highly concentrated.

I can’t recall if I made these notes from Jane Anne Morris or the POCLAD people but some interesting options that used to be common in State regulatory codes included:

  • Prohibit corporations from owning stock in other corporations.
    Much of anti-trust law becomes unnecessary and superfluous.
  • Prohibit corporations from being able to choose when to go out of business.
    No voluntary dissolution. This stops dissolving when it comes time to pay taxes, government loans, creditors and pensions, insurance, toxic clean-ups and so on.
  • Make shareholders liable for corporations debts.
    Shareholders should allocate stock to local areas they know something about instead of risky and toxic projects.

Curiously the following were all once law too:

  • No corporate participation in democratic processes in any way.
  • No corporations have constitutional or intrinsic rights.
  • Corporations are prohibited from any civic, charitable or educational donations.
    It warps the economic fabric of community.

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