What is “late capitalism” anyways ?

Have you heard this term, “late capitalism” ?

It popped up most recently when a friend forwarded a link to the latest hand-wringing agitprop vis-a-vis Bitcoin, now with even more “carbon footprint” and a dash of “peer-review” for extra thooper dooper legitimacy.i Anyways, since I fancy myself something of a capitalist but haven’t the faintest clue what might be “late” about the whole business, I figured that said same friend, being a fairly open-minded (if left-leaning) sort of fellow, might be able to explain this seemingly intentionally vague term to me.

Here’s the conversation that transpired :

Bob McKenzie : Can you explain what “late capitalism” is to me ? Preferably like I’m 5-years-old ? I’ve seen it a few times lately, most recently in that bitcoin energy-use article you sent last week. Thanks in advance. P.S. This is blog fodder!ii
Doug McKenzie : “Late stage capitalism” is a Marxist term that refers to the post-war period, including modern day. It implies that the current economic model of capitalism is going to come to an end. People see a story about someone taking an Uber to the hospital because an ambulance is too expensive, and will comment that this is the manifestation of late stage capitalism.

BM : In this theory, when is capitalism supposed to have started ?iii
DM : Industrial Revolution. Key turning point in most Marxist literature.iv

BM : What was the Ventian Empire if not capitalist ? Or the Roman Empire ? Or the Ancient Greek ? Or the Ancient Hebrew etc.
DM : Modern industrialized capitalism is differentiated from those models. Not to say that they weren’t capitalist in their own rights.

BM : Sounds… academic. Or at least “No True Scotsman.” How am I supposed to debate that lol.
DM : *shrug*

BM : It’s like loving/hating electric cars when you really just love/hate Elon Musk!v
DM : I vote hate.
BM : “If you have hate in your heart, let it out!”vi

Now I get it! Don’t you ? Since capitalism isn’t at all what historically-blindered (or just plain narrowly-read) Marxists imagine it to be, and since capitalism really began with agriculture lo these many years ten millennia when opportunities for trade created opportunities for specialisation in food production, its alternative isn’t so much “from each according to his abilities, to each according to his needs” so much as it’s the Noble Savage ideal expounded most eloquently, ignorantly, and famously by JJ Rousseauvii (not to mention Virgil). Jean-Jacques, recall, never set foot in the New World, so he hadn’t the faintest clue that the moon wasn’t really made of cheese, but did that stop him and his equalitarian adherents, including Hot Karl ? Of course not. Like the left-wing newspapers, JJ just gave the people what they wanted. Simple as that.viii

There’s no “late capitalism.” There’s just the thief yelling “thief!” and the late-to-the-partyists crying about assholes with needles in their balloon store. So it goes, I guess.
___ ___ ___

  1. The “grist” article in question was sent to me on May 17th, the same day it was published and a full two days before Qntra picked up the scoop. BB busted napping ? Bam! []
  2. Sometimes I ask at the end, but sometimes I like to be forthright and just tell my sparring partner at the beginning that the cameras are rolling. I mean, the cameras are always rolling regardless but sometimes you have to “leak” your own sextape to Pornhub just to be sure, y’know ? []
  3. If ambulances being “too expensive” is some sort of commentary on “capitalism” then I’m horribly misunderstanding the government’s (typically monopolistic) role in emergency service provision. If anything, it’s Uber’s ability to undercut both the taxi and ambulance monopolies that serves as a testament to capitalism’s democratic fruits. But what do I know, I’m just a daddy blogger, right ?  []
  4. What kind of two-bit Jew was Marx supposed to be if he couldn’t tie in socioeconomic structures predating the spinning jenny and commoditised clocks into his hair-brained theories ? I thought “the chosen people” were one of the “people of the book” and whatnot ? I call scam. I want my money back.  []
  5. And goodness knows I love/hate Elon Musk. []

  6. clayton bigsby []
  7. While Wikitardia attempts to dispel the “fake news” of Rousseau’s philosophy, Britannica keeps the story straight. Thank goodness for scholarship! It’s really worth every penny. []
  8. You see it’s not that newspaper owners are themselves left-wing nutjobs hell bent on twisting the world into their distorted lens in a grotesque effort to sway popular opinion (though you won’t get very far trying to explain this to a right-wing nutjob), it’s that newspaper readers are predominately left-leaning, which means that it’s in the newspaper’s financial interest to feed the meek the lines they want to hear. “You shall inherit the earth!!1″ Hey, why not, this tagline has been selling memberships for two millennia, why stop now ? If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

    Other media outlets and communication streams have different skews of political orientation, but print just happens to skew left, just as the Internet, believe it or not, skews right. How else could Agent Orange have crushed Shillary despite the all the phone polls to the contrary ? Weez a buncha racists up in hurrrr (h/t to Seth Stephens-Davidowitz). []

8 thoughts on “What is “late capitalism” anyways ?

  1. spyked says:

    > You see it’s not that newspaper owners are themselves left-wing nutjobs [...], it’s that newspaper readers are predominately left-leaning [...]

    This is actually a very strong point, but I’m curious what you specifically mean by “readers are predominantly left-leaning”. I doubt most of e.g. Guardian audiences have (formed) opinions of their own on many of the matters discussed in The Guardian, leaving a huge “just the facts” gap for the newspaper to fill on said matters. After all how does the shutdown relate to me?

    • Being left-leaning (or right-leaning) has rather little to do with the facts or opinions presented in newspapers and much more to do with the influential political figures grabbing headlines at a particularly impressionable age and the reaction thereto. So it is that most left-leaning American folks who were raised in the Republican period of the 1970s-1980s (and who were also likely the last generation to glean their news primarily from print) has lead to a preponderance of western newspapers twisting sinistral in the post-cold war era.

  2. BingoBoingo says:

    It was a combination of slow news day and retards burying the lead too many times with enviro-whinerism. Some stories immediately get written up, others require prodding in the form of retard press getting the narrative too wrong.

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