The System

Posted on January 25, 2012


As the curtain closes on the first act of the Occupy protests the outcome has been, if nothing else, to open up a lively debate on the merits of the Capitalist system. “The question is not whether capitalism must be reformed. It is how.” Says Time magazine in their article How to Save Capitalism, which does not answer the How To part very well at all.  Meanwhile the Economist magazine debates the finer points of State Capitalism versus Liberal Capitalism in their Special Report but fail to properly define either and get nowhere.   The overall mood of all this is encapsulated nicely in the opening comments from the first article… “As the global economic crisis enters its fourth excruciating year, just about everybody who can be blamed for the downturn has been blamed. Irresponsible bankers. Greedy corporate executives. Incompetent regulators. Bickering politicians. Underpaid Chinese workers. Overpaid Greek workers. George W. Bush. Ben Bernanke. Angela Merkel. Credit-rating agencies. The euro. Spendthrift American consumers. After the worst financial disaster since the Great Depression of the 1930s, there has been no shortage of vilification to go around. With another grim year likely ahead and no ready solutions in sight, a new target has arisen in the public’s crosshairs: capitalism itself.”

I would like to add the thought of Pirsig to all this… a meditation on The System from his book Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance.  After participating in the Capitalism debate it is well worth a read, it puts everything into perspective…

“People arrive at a factory and perform a totally meaningless task from eight to five without question because the structure demands that it be that way. There’s no villain, no ‘mean guy’ who wants them to live meaningless lives, it’s just that the structure, the system demands it and no one is willing to take on the formidable task of changing the structure just because it is meaningless.
But to tear down a factory or to revolt against a government or to avoid repair of a motorcycle because it is a system is to attack effects rather than causes; and as long as the attack is upon effects only, no change is possible. The true system, the real system, is our present construction of systematic thought itself, rationality itself, and if a factory is torn down but the rationality which produced it is left standing, then that rationality will simply produce another factory. If a revolution destroys a systematic government, but the systematic patterns of thought that produced that government are left intact, then those patterns will repeat themselves in the succeeding government. There’s so much talk about the system. And so little understanding”

Perhaps the problems around us are more to do with greed and envy and the competitive way we see the world.  Tomorrow make your mission, just for one day to see how it pans out, to practice contentment.   Just sit for five minutes and be content.

Posted in: AntiGreed, Capitalism