There is no ethical dissent under capitalism


It’s early in the day as yet but we’ll run with this as idiot statement of the day:

There is no ethical dissent under capitalism

The background is the Colin Kaepernick story, with Jay Z having signed a deal with the NFL to do something or other. So, with Kaepernick not having an NFL job – up to you whether you think it’s because of his activism or just whether he’s not quite a good enough player – we’ve that Jay Z deal to provide some cover from the activists. That, at least, seems clear enough.

There Is No Ethical Dissent Under Capitalism

That’s actually the headline of the original piece. And as a piece of intellectual dribble it’s hard to beat. The very point of capitalism and the associated markets being that it allows opting out and thus dissent, ethical or otherwise.

The Amish, for example, decide that for ethical reasons they’ll not take part in modern capitalism – the consumer kind at least. And to be honest I’ve never actually heard of the domestic appliance salesmen hunting them down and forcibly installing fitted kitchens. That capitalism does indeed, in its global form, provide $1 t-shirts made in sweatshops. Just as there exists clothing firms who deride all that for ethical reasons and make, domestically, your shirt out of organically sourced unicorn tails stitched by union labour. You know, the ability to make ethical choices and dissent from the ruling hegemon?

It’s yet more proof of the omnipresence of capitalist realism that, when going out to protest and subvert the system, ostensibly good actors like Jay-Z and Kaepernick can see no alternative other than to align with the very system they claim to want to change. The system engenders dissent, seamlessly absorbs it through the willing and eager collaboration with the dissenters themselves, and nothing ever changes.

And yet, of course, everything does change if and when everyone changes their buying habits. The capitalists are only interested in the profits, recall? Therefore if profits are to be made by employing union labour union labour will be employed. If profits are to be made by not having a colour bar – as baseball used to and now doesn’t – then there won’t be a colour bar.

The actual great joy of both capitalism and markets being that they are entirely amoral. Meaning that we get to make ethical choices, voice ethical dissent, within them. Precisely because ethics are entirely orthogonal to the economic system that’s why it allows their expression.

Leave a Reply

2 Comment threads
0 Thread replies
Most reacted comment
Hottest comment thread
2 Comment authors
Chester DrawsQ46 Recent comment authors
newest oldest most voted
Notify of

Employees are under contract and paid to serve their employer’s interests not their own. Furthermore if an employee is using his/her employer’s time to do something other than what they are contracted to do, or whose actions detrimentally affect their employer’s business, he/she is in breach of contract.

I think this is generally the case whether the employer is a capitalist or not.

Chester Draws
Chester Draws

Jay-Z and Kaepernick can see no alternative other than to align with the very system they claim to want to change.

I think someone needs to explain to the Guardian about revealed preference.

Kaepernick had no problem with capitalism when he was receiving insane amounts for throwing a ball around. He has no problem taking money to front a campaign for shoes.

Meanwhile the concept that a mainstream rap artist — a medium known for its love of bling and gloating how much money they have — is anti-capitalist is just stupid.