Capitalism’s Creature Compendium

Presented in the following section is a selection of qualities exhibited by the system of capitalism-as-usual. Since capital flow fundamentally emerges from human existence, it is only natural that its dynamics might express some life-like qualities, just as the observable effects of breathing express the presence of life in us. We breathe; our breathing permeates our internal systems and perpetuates our life; our continued life perpetuates our ability to breathe. Similarly, capital flows throughout an economy. When it isn’t flowing (i.e., when it’s sitting stagnant in accounts), it can be thought of as “dying”, or “evaporating” under the weight of inflation. When capital sits it decays in value over time, so it is “inclined” to move, and does so in various creature-like ways, with our compulsory assistance, of course. 

Each of the following qualities in this non-exhaustive list may be found interacting with the real economy in various and innovative ways, of which we have compiled a few examples for illustrative purposes. To varying extents, each feature resembles a creature-like aspect of capital flow dynamics, which is the shared reason they are collected together in this section. Hopefully, the cumulative impact of their diverse effects might expand the common notion of what exactly capital is (hint: it’s surely not like bars of gold being traded) and how exactly it behaves in the present environment

Without further ado, the Creature Compendium

  • Parasites
    • If a parasite can be classified as an organism that survives at the expense of its host, we can certainly find innumerable parasites in the global economy. Both businesses and individuals must constantly be on the lookout for parasites in their local environment, but they aren’t always as straightforward to detect as it may seem. For example, a salesperson, paid on commission, might display obvious parasitic intent (especially when tasked with the sale of totally unnecessary goods), but an overly-demanding family member who is a continual cause of missed shifts, travel expenses that would otherwise be saved or invested, wasted food, or lost productivity can be an even more insidious financial parasite, as difficult as this truth may be to swallow. 
    • Remember, everyone has a personal financial profile by default, and one’s personal finances are akin to one’s economic “body.” Only you can know how to pick off the parasites and fight for your own financial health.

  • Symbiotes
    • Remember, in symbiotic relationships, the symbiont/symbiote is the constant beneficiary in the relationship, while the host may or may not derive benefit. Capitalism, today, is itself the symbiont in its relationship with us. We, humans and all that we have constructed—with capitalism’s leverage—are the host. In order for capitalism to survive, we are required; we alone provide the consumption activity upon which capitalism feeds. Capitalism is invested in our survival only insofar as we continue to be alive to the extent that we can consume and provide the host with enough scaffolding for it to persist. Consider the ramifications of this when you consider your future
    • Human behavior provides much more than the bare-minimum level of activity to sustain the emergence of capitalism. In fact, humans provide for capitalism such an abundant “food” supply that capitalism is encouraged to grow and expand its forms and activity wherever humans are to be found. Remember, capitalism is an emergent property of trade between individuals. Increased trade, as well as the mechanisms for trade (i.e. novel financial instruments; derivatives) will result in a commensurate increase in the available economic space within which pure capitalism may and will, grow. New capital that becomes available in new markets is the very soil within which capitalism-as-usual grows. The symbiont grows along with the human economy. 
    • Symbiotic involvement scales widely within national economies. If a nation-state attempts to design a closed, controlled economy with tight restrictions and tight coupling of policy with process, the resultant effects are extremely difficult to anticipate and frequently disrupt the usual order. Considering all of the fundamental effects of capital flow (e.g. wealth inequality, patrimonial capitalism, unwitting phishing, etc.)  capitalism-as-usual inevitably leads to shifts in demand for resources, new economic competition among and between new entrants and the State, and unpredictable, destabilizing threats to the instantly-outdated and pseudo-controlled economy, which will never ultimately resist the changing times or foreign influence. Leaders, beware. Though there are persistent obstacles to opening up to international trade, globalization itself provides nations with a broader perspective from which they may analyze their domestic industries, and the corresponding increases in coordination, transparency and institutional resiliency that come from globalization are valuable tools to help mitigate the harms of our permanent collective symbiont, capitalism-as-usual.  

  • Tentacles
    • A surprising amount of economic behaviors exhibit a tentacular-like motion as they feel out the ever-shifting economic landscape. Cash streams of capital flow drift and migrate over time, seeming to “investigate” new configurations according to the novel evolution of new opportunities across a shifting economic landscape. The pulse of capitalism-as-usual dictates that higher profit opportunities are more desirable, so capital flows are always “searching” for opportunities to connect, expand, and multiply their economic effects, crawling around through accounts and economies like tentacles of economic activity, uncanny and seemingly otherworldly—until you get used to them and realize how closely these tentacles resemble ourselves. We are a curious and exploratory species, of course, our financial dimension will relate to some degree, it’s just unfortunate that capitalism-as-usual has failed so many for the benefit of so few. Hopefully, it’s not too late. We can still choose to direct our tentacles elsewhere, for other reasons. The LOPSIII model, for one, provides for precisely this opportunity. LOPSIII businesses have much more constructive tentacles. 

  •   Vampirism
    • Vampirism very closely resembles parasitism, but we think it’s important here to make the distinction because vampires occupy a class of parasites that all display a particular shared quality—allure. In economic behavior, allure imposes an influence on participants that is extremely difficult to quantify and evaluate. Sometimes, a parasite, e.g. the manufacturer of a non-essential luxury good targeted at the consumer surplus of a historically low-income demographic, can adapt to display an alluring impression. This is textbook vampirism. Draw the victim in close, close enough so that they are essentially sacrificing themselves to something they think they want to have, or worse, that they think they need. To be an effective vampire is a mastercraft in deception. Many firms excel at this practice, as do many individuals.
    • One would be wise to exercise extreme skepticism and caution when confronted with an alluring vampire-thing. Commercial allure is always by design, the consumer is always the victim, as well as the phool who purchased at retail price.

Though capital flow seems so creature-like in so many ways, it is an intangible system of ideas that we, humans, perceive and attribute atop of the base existence of money as it flows in the human psycho-economic system. Case in point: an animal (cat, crow, ant, octopus, etc.) can easily perceive the sensory details of our physical currency (probably much better than we can in most cases,) but how could they possibly be able to perceive the extended, emergent, conceptual relationship that transcends the physical money and is expressed in our complex, computerized global economy? Active participation requires at least a near-human-level understanding of society and what is required to live in said society independently (a trait, admittedly, not even all adult human Americans have.) Do your best to observe and objectively assimilate the sometimes-surprising behaviors of capital flow, for the more we improve our collective understanding, the more we stand to benefit and the less likely we are to be exploited by our own capitalism, our permanent companion. Be mindful of your future.

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