Co-operation in Capitalism

If I have ever met you in person (or if you have frequented this blog for some time now) then you would know that I often extoll the virtues of the selfishness citing Ms. Rand and her essays on Capitalism.

In fact I at one time have had a heart to heart conversation with the founder of an organization whose heart is based on contribution and co-operation, stating that the philosophy behind Capitalism is different from a contribution oriented nature. It’s a muddle anyways, in fact the more you think about it, the harder it gets to really identify between the dark and light. There are ample examples where co-operation has been utilized for filling the coffers of different capitalists.

As a point to prove his case, this founder asked me to read a book … the Evolution of Co-operation. If you think game theory is fun, then you should definitely read this book! It’s highly recommended. I did read through the book, but I think it has taken me a bit long to fully understand it … just around 2 years or so!

Today, as I was reading a blog article on a news article based on that very book, a blog article by CFA Institute, I realized what the founder meant to say. That Co-operation can exist within a capitalistic system. The problem with most systems (and this is possibly the places which Ms. Rand glosses over) is that they have a tendency to go corrupt, to go weak. Socialism and Communism suffer from it and this was faced by Ayn Rand all through out her life.

But the solution to that problem is not Capitalism (as suggested by Ms. Rand), a corrupt Capitalistic system is worse if not the same as a corrupt Communist system.

However, that’s not the point of this post, the point is simple. That competition can occur only if there are implicit co-operative signals within the market. Signals such as agglomeration wherein competitors flock together at the same place such as an expo, exhibition or a khau galli to sell their goods.

Another personal lesson learnt – ideals are just that … ideal. In real life, you have to deal with corrupted ideals.


Hidden ideal

Some time back I was reading a collection of essays by Ayn Rand, ‘twas titled Capitalism: The unknown ideal. I was foolhardy enough to put my status message as so on a professional networking site (LinkedIn). A friend of mine commented on that saying –

let me know how to ameliorate the fact that capitalism is pro-incumbent. Also how do we bridge the rich poor divide..Raising taxes for the rich?

Then started a slew of replies, back and forth. I did not understand why do we have to bridge the rich and poor divide. I soon put the issue to rest and went ahead with my day-to-day life … until yesterday, when a chance discussion with Amol led us back to this issue.

I do not see why do we, as a society have to strive for collective equality (why else would you want to reduce the rich-poor divide?). Amol said, that it is not fair, that some people should have a good life while others do not even have basic amenities. I agree, its not fair. But such is life! How can there not be a divide, if there were no difference between people, then there would have been no difference between you and me. So where would your individualism go? People can’t be equal, they have to be TREATED equally. There is a difference.

I agree, that the country needs infrastructure boosts … so much so that it should support the basic needs of all. But to expect that the rich feel for the poor and give willingly, naaah … I have no such feelings.

On a light note, let me paint a picture for you of what would happen if all people were equal, here’s a song by Groove Armada, check the video out – If Everybody Looked the same.