Sunday, November 25, 2012

Capitalist logic


I'm still mulling over something one of the students in Theorizing Religion said in class earlier this week. We'd been discussing Weber's Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism. I'd given my line on the book - every detail has been challenged, but the argument as a whole continues to resonate because it gets something very important very right about the logic of capitalism. Ordinarily I'd have led us back to Marx's claim that Protestantism is the appropriate religion for a commodity system in which everything, from labor to value, is abstracted. Instead we got on a tangent about Ayn Rand, perhaps because C, the alum who'd covered for me on Monday and was co-leading the discussion Tuesday, mentioned that he thinks she deserves to be taken more seriously than Lang faculty generally do.

Then this student said: True capitalism has never been tried - governments have always interfered. If we killed everyone who's living now and started over, giving everyone five dollars, we'd see.

I was speechless - this was abstracter than I thought anyone was capable of being. C was quicker on his feet. While he appreciated the sentiment, that five dollars sounded like a government handout!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I thought it was interesting, and unlike the Eugene Lang I remember, that as I was left the 12th street building, next to the course catalogues and fliers, I found copies of The Undercurrent.

From the front blurb: "The Undercurrent's cultural commentary is based on Ayn Rand's philosophy, Objectivism."

The cover article: "Be Happy: It's the Law".

To be honest, I was rather shocked to see literature pertaining to Rand and Objectivism in the halls of The New School. If the sparsity of remaining magazines is any indication, it would seem as though there are some students asking, "Who is John Galt?"

-- C.