Vox Populi… (Part 1)

It has been said that “the customer is always right”. That seems to make sense- after all, in a Capitalist society, supply-and-demand (with the emphasis on the “demand” part of the equation) is the driving force of the economy. Companies, corporations, businesses, entrepreneurs- everyone caters to the consumer. Naturally this sounds like an excellent system- the people demand a product or service and the companies develop and create it. Simple, efficient, and like most things in the Capitalist system, deeply, deeply flawed.

It has also been said that “the voice of the people is the voice of God”, essentially an earlier, Roman version of “the customer is always right”. The problem with that phrase however (and indeed, the entire supply-and-demand theory) is that humans are far from divine. Supply-and-demand looks great until we look at the things we demanded over the past ten-thousand years or so. Slaves, narcotics, war, segregation, excess, genocide, nuclear arms- just to name a few. Let’s use war to study the issue a bit more. Humans love war- we can’t get enough of it. Since the dawn of time we’ve been trying to find quicker and more efficient ways of clubbing each other. Obviously with such a massive demand for war, there are those who- like the good Capitalists they are- make a living off of conflict. They sell mercenaries, arms, guns, knives, mines- anything and everything to anyone willing to pay for it. Naturally, this only intensifies the horrors of war, it perpetuates the violence and weakens the chances of peace and diplomacy. If guns are used to slaughter minorities, or if grenades are pushed into the hands of child soldiers- who cares? If weapons are demanded, then they are supplied- the voice of the people is the voice of God!

Now obviously we can see that this is horribly wrong. Now I am not attempting to argue that any demand is wrong- humans have, after all, basic needs. Catering to humanity’s baser appetites doesn’t satisfy them, it only creates a greater hunger. Regulations? Regulations are an interference with the free market system- a form of “corruption” as Milton Friedman is attributed with saying.

Is supply-and-demand such a great idea? I submit that we cannot have our every whim met, that to supply every human demand would be the equivalent of granting a three year-old’s every wish. Anyone even remotely familiar with human history can tell you that we as a species have a difficult time figuring out what’s good for us.

Quite simply, we can’t always get what we want.

13 Responses to “Vox Populi… (Part 1)”

  1. August 26, 2009 at 8:53 pm

    There are just two flaws with your argument:

    1) With or without more advanced weapons, Man will wage war.

    2) The advent of more modern and efficient means of waging war has actually reduced the number of casualties, especially civilian ones.

    Now, if one could eliminate the demand for war, that’d be something wonderful indeed.

  2. 2 trotskyite
    August 26, 2009 at 9:17 pm

    Granted man would continue to wage war with or without weapons, however it’s probably safe to say that man would be less tempted to go to war without a cheap, immediate supply of weapons. As far as advanced weapons- I’d have to point out that we seem to be killing more people with tanks and machine-guns than sticks and stones. (Though what I’m really trying to get across here is that the supply-and-demand system is flawed).

  3. August 26, 2009 at 9:24 pm

    I don’t see where supply and demand are flawed. That’s just a basic system, like gravity or entropy. It is the nature of the demand that is flawed.

    To use economic metaphors, you seem to want to address this with Reagan-esque trickle-down, supply-side ethics, when – unlike real economics – a Keynesian demand-side approach is what I think is called for.

  4. August 26, 2009 at 10:37 pm

    Trotskyite, I’m living in a war, and jonolan is right. Nobody is tryng to carpet bomb Kandahar; the precision of laser-guided weapons and the like makes that unnecessary. The casualties in this war are a fraction of what they would have been during, say, World War II. If you want to go further back in history, consider Ghengis Khan. The most sophisticated weapon of his day was probably the compound bow. His armies eradicated whole populations. His hordes were even more destructive than carpet bombing. The better we have gotten at war, the fewer people who have needed to die in it.

  5. 5 trotskyite
    August 27, 2009 at 12:39 am

    In response to Jonolan; I’m not calling for anything remotely Reagan-esque or trickle-down. I’m trying to point that that since human demand is flawed, the supply-demand system is also flawed, creating more problems than it solves.

    In response to Alamanach; grated, however we must also consider that such weapons as mustard gas and the two notorious atomic bombs were certainly more destructive than the hordes of Ghengis. Even the weapons we haven’t used- our nuclear weapons- certainly have the potential to wipe out more lives than the combined armies of the Mongolians, Huns, and Crusaders.

  6. August 27, 2009 at 4:36 am

    With the propaganda unleashed about political ideology that is so confusing that it is amusing, I believe it becomes necessary to define what is so blatantly misrepresented so as to add light onto the ignorance of “IDEOLOGY”
    The definition of “Fascism” ” The dictatorship of the Capitalist Class!”
    When the threat of an overthrow of “Capitalism” becomes apparent it becomes necessary to do away with any pretense toward democracy.
    “Fascism” signals the end of the right to freedom of speech! Freedom to assembly! The end of civil rights! , Etc. The strict enforcement of “Law and Order”
    Nazi philosophy is that part of fascism that is “Racist and bigoted!
    “Socialism” is defined by having a nation that is ruled by “The Dictatorship of the Working Class!” This “Proletariat dictatorship was regarded as necessary to keep the former capitalist class from regaining power and overthrowing the dictatorship of the Working Class!”
    “Communism” is defined as that which is built on a foundation of socialism.
    Under communism you have a planned economy that has created the material conditions of enough abundance to allow the distribution of goods and services to be equally distributed to all of it’s citizens without discrimination. “From each according to their ability! “To each according to their need!” Under communism cooperation replaces competition. Under a system of “material cooperative abundance” a new type of human nature will be born out of this type of secure environment. A social scientific being that becomes their own leader and their own follower and does not need a political government or state apparatus to tell them what to do. Consequently the “State Apparatus” withers away and you only have an administration of things, … not an administration of people.

  7. 7 trotskyite
    August 27, 2009 at 6:05 am

    Well said, Comrade.

  8. 8 trotskyite
    August 27, 2009 at 6:16 am

    Though exactly what “propaganda” are you referring to?

    • August 27, 2009 at 8:57 am

      “propaganda” that is not based on the scientific understanding of social change!
      If you are truly A Dialectical Materialist you will be able to distinguish the difference between propaganda designed to mislead and that of social scientific understanding.

  9. 10 trotskyite
    August 27, 2009 at 6:35 pm

    I know the definition of propaganda, Comrade, I was wondering if you were referring to a specific event…

  10. August 28, 2009 at 7:03 am

    When it is suggested as you seemed to on your piece at the top of this page that “supply would never be able to satisfy demand!” and when it is inferred that it is the nature of humanity to never be satisfied you are saying that human nature is static and can never change. This is “propaganda” that the spokesman for the market economy spreads to make people think that “the nature of the human species is that of greed that can never be satisfied.”
    I am sure you are aware that people reflect their surroundings and under conditions of scarcity their attitudes will be that of competitiveness so they can grab that what is scarce and survive and have status. Under the conditions of material abundance the nature of all living things change to that of being cooperative and social.

    • August 28, 2009 at 10:03 am

      When dealing with human nature and the desire to take by force what is not theirs to begin with, there is no such thing as “material abundance.” Man’s material desires grow and/or shift to accommodate any abundance.

      A phrase that comes to mind to describe this is, “keeping up with the Joneses.”

  11. 13 trotskyite
    August 28, 2009 at 8:33 am

    I would be surprised if Human nature changed dramatically enough for self-interest not be humanity’s natural tendency. Even humans born into wealth and an abundance of material resources have proven themselves to be greedy, often greedier than those who live in what we would define as poverty.

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