Browsing by Subject "capitalism"

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  • Virta, Ari (2007)
    The research topic of this thesis is late Milton Friedman's (1912-2006) controversial claim that if corporate officials accept a social responsibility other than to make as much money for their stockholders as possible, they yield to a fundamentally subversive doctrine that amounts to preaching pure and unadulterated socialism and undermining the basis of the free society. Logically this claim means that capitalism is a necessary condition for the existence of the free society. The aim of my study is to find out whether and on what grounds Friedman's claim is justified. The method of my study is philosophical analysis of Friedman's claim and its background on one hand, and of capitalism and the role of private property therein on the other hand, to see whether the claim is justified. The main result of my study is that Friedman's claim is justified. The movement of Business Ethics opposing Friedman and the doctrine of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) it promotes seem indistinguishable from one version of socialism, i.e. European social democracy. The opposition between the views of Friedman and the Business Ethicists springs from different approaches to the importance of protecting private property, to the free society, to man’s cognitive capacities, and to the concept of freedom. On the bottom of the controversy is man's problematic relationship with wealth: even though he knows that wealth does not bring happiness, he searches it as if it did – and gets disappointed when it does not. Instead of recognising his own unreasonable expectations as the source of his disappointment he has a tendency to find the reason outside of himself and accuse other people for being malevolent. The main sources used are Milton Friedman's book "Capitalism and Freedom" and his essay "The Social Responsibility of Business Is to Increase Its Profits". The roots of Friedman's claim are in capitalism and liberalism. The main sources about capitalism are Adam Smith's books "The Theory of Moral Sentiments" and "The Wealth of Nations", Ronald Coase's essays "Adam Smith's View of Man" and "The Wealth of Nations", Joseph Schumpeter's essays "Capitalism" and "Capitalism in the Postwar World", Mark Roe's book "Political Determinants of Corporate Governance" and Hernando de Soto's book "The Mystery of Capital". The main sources about liberalism are John Stuart Mill's essay "On Liberty" and Isaiah Berlin's essay "Two Concepts of Liberty".
  • Urbanová, Kristína (Helsingin yliopisto, 2021)
    My thesis examines Herman Melville’s Moby-Dick as an anti-capitalist text. I mainly utilize the theory of capitalism as defined by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels in the nineteenth century, focusing on class relations and the idea of class struggle; that is, the unrest that results from the inherent inequality of classes under capitalism. The aim of the thesis is to demonstrate the plausibility of an anti-capitalist reading of Moby-Dick and show how such a reading sheds light on the famously enigmatic character of Captain Ahab and on his motivations. To achieve this, I rely on social and historioeconomic analysis of the whaling industry to illustrate the usual working conditions on board whaling ships, and then apply my findings to a close reading of the novel. As Ishmael, the narrator, is generally the reader’s point of access, I first analyze his position vis–à–vis the industry he is about to enter, highlighting his inexperience. Then, I demonstrate how any struggle he may have undergone as a result of that inexperience is suppressed in favor of highlighting Ahab, ostensibly supplanting the struggle of the lower–ranking crewmembers with that of their superior. Ultimately, however, I argue that Moby-Dick illustrates the immutability of class dynamics under capitalism, and that it does so mainly through its portrayal of Ahab who, despite being at the top of the Pequod’s social hierarchy, suffers within the larger system that exploits him just as it does his inferiors. Furthermore, the perpetuity of these dynamics is illustrated by the fact that Ahab, despite becoming aware of his condition under capitalism, is unable to transcend the confines of that condition. Though he wants revenge against the whale, the insular nature of his position that arises from capitalist social hierarchies, combined with his self-involved mental struggle, results in an attempt at resistance that is ineffective precisely because of its solitary nature. In Moby-Dick, we then find just one representation of a ubiquitous capitalist system designed to crush individual resistance.
  • Ehnström, Elvira (Helsingin yliopisto, 2022)
    Caryl Churchill is a renowned playwright whose plays concern a wide range of social and political issues. In her plays Far Away (2000) and Escaped Alone (2016) Churchill brings forth depictions of ecological disaster which complexify the relationship between humans and their nonhuman environment. In this thesis, I argue that the plays in question offer a new perspective on the division between humanity and the nonhuman environment, which prompts the reader to question their own anthropocentric view of human exceptionalism. The plays’ bizarre events and absurdist form criticise the arbitrary division between human and nonhuman animals, underlining the intrinsic value of all beings and the nonanimated environment. It is evident that the plays are part of the Theatre of the Absurd, in their deviation from traditional conventions for narration and plot, as well as in the untraditional depiction of humans and the nonhuman environment. Utilising the typology of animal representation by Greg Garrard (2012) it becomes clear that nonhuman animals are increasingly depicted as anthropomorphic and certain groups of humans as increasingly zoomorphic in Far Away. Furthermore, the importance of the effects of the capitalist economic system in the climate crisis is prevalent in both plays. In Far Away, the characters work under a capitalist government which does not value human wellbeing. Escaped Alone, on the other hand, depicts ecological catastrophes as instigated by entities strongly connected with the capitalist system. Thus, both plays reveal the significance of capitalism as a driving force in ecological destruction, as well as its negative impact on individuals. Escaped Alone emphasises the individual perspective on the climate crisis by offering a female perspective and showing the characters as resilient despite the looming catastrophes. By depicting the ecological crisis as a complex and multifaceted issue, Churchill establishes her plays as works of deep ecology.
  • Moisio, Sami Mikael (2019)
    This reflections article is a comment upon Rhys Jones’ paper (in this issue) which deals with the geographies of the governance of the future. I suggest that the constant production of governmental imaginaries dealing with the future should be understood as “future work” that is an essential dimension of a broader phenomenon of “territory work” whereby processes of re-territorialization and de-territorialization come together. The active attempt to “know” and cope with the future should be understood as an essential constituent of all governing activities without which the rationality of governance would lose much of its meaning. Governance of the future, as it occurs in governmental practices and associated imaginaries that translate the future into a governable object, is an essential dimension in the ongoing remaking of territories of wealth, power and belonging. This process merits more geographical examination and commentary.
  • Sandberg, Maria; Klockars, Kristian Erik; Wilén, Kristoffer (2019)
    Scientists agree that changes in the organization of human society and economy are needed to stop the degradation of the natural environment. The most commonly proposed solution, green growth, has been increasingly criticized, but the offered alternative of degrowth has remained a marginal undertaking in academia and in practice. This article further develops the argument for degrowth. The article conducts a comparative analysis of the normative foundations of green growth and degrowth using frameworks from critical social theory. The analysis shows that green growth and degrowth work toward different normative ideals that are justified in different ways. The analysis shows that degrowth has a stronger normative justification than green growth and therefore, should be preferred. The article contributes to the debate about green growth and degrowth by establishing normative grounds for focusing efforts for environmental sustainability on degrowth rather than green growth. (C) 2018 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
  • Hyötyläinen, Mika (2022)
    The article explores the experiences of people displaced from work by the introduction of labour-saving technology in Finland. Interviews with 13 unemployed individuals are used as data. The study is underpinned by a Marxist interpretation of potentially emancipatory technology under capitalism reduced to an instrument for reorganizing skilled workers into an exploitable, precarious cadre of surplus and abstract labour. Loïc Wacquant’s thesis on advanced marginality is used as a theoretical framework to unpack and understand the little-studied experience of being displaced from work by technology. The interviewees share a sense of growing alienation and social exclusion. Feeding these experiences are capricious changes in skill-demands and deskilling under automation and robotisation of work. The experiences are exacerbated by digitalised, vertiginous and isolating job-seeking and employment services that cast responsibility on the unemployed individual. While the participants of this study were not on the brink of acute or extreme socio-economic marginalisation, their experiences are rooted in the very same social, economic and political dynamics as advanced marginality. The findings of the study help anticipate the risk of advancing marginality faced by displaced workers, if social policy reforms are not carried out in the short term. In the long term, the findings support the argument that studies on labour-saving technologies and unemployment pay closer attention to the particular role of technology under capitalism.
  • Janasik-Honkela, Nina Margareta (2017)
    Since the time between the world wars, the language of emotions has been dominated by the discourse of therapy, starting a style of emotional expression and practice. Somewhat paradoxically, at the same time as a new professional group emerged with authority to pronounce on all matters emotional as part of the unfolding of modern emotional capitalism, the categories of psychic suffering have witnessed a veritable emptying out of emotions. Currently, the emphasis is placed, rather, on various kinds of lack of behaviour. For instance, “melancholy” as an existential category for strong and energy-intense reactions to all kinds of loss, has been squeezed into the clinical category of “depression,” literally meaning “pressing down.” Negative emotional states have, however, recently appeared in many self-tracking activities, including in the “datafication” of emotions in the form of the Finnish application Emotion Tracker. In this article, I ask whether this introduction of self-tracking into the context of health care and the workplace has written any differences into the current practices of emotional capitalism. My findings suggest that by placing itself in the opaque middle ground between professional psychology and ordinary life, Emotion Tracker creates a new space where the rich tapestry of melancholy is again allowed to figure
  • Chinchilla Mora, Leonardo (Helsingin yliopisto, 2021)
    While eco-fiction has found a vast audience in contemporary literature reception, it is oftentimes ‘sidelined’ as a genre that is not taken seriously due to its dystopian world depictions and ‘improbable’ happenings (Ghosh 11). Nonetheless, I argue that ‘improbability’ is not an issue for Kim Stanley Robinson’s New York 2140 (2017) as it represents the perpetuation of twenty-first-century patterns of behavior over the years, magnified by the year 2140 by menacing rising waters that submerge downtown Manhattan. Further, it is my contention that this novel represents a reformation of the capitalist system rather than its eradication since it portrays a diverse cast of characters slowly realizing that the elitist capitalist system is threatening their lives as it only sustains profit, and it depicts the transformation of such a capitalist system into a capitalism that resembles a welfare state with progressive taxation and active citizen involvement. This thesis analyses more specifically the role of community engagement, finance restructuration, and eco-sensitivity awareness as aspects that Robinson deems essential for a reformation of a capitalist system. Moreover, I ground my claim that this shift towards a reformed capitalism follows Merchant’s concept ‘radical ecology:’ “the cutting edge of social ecology [since] it pushes social and ecological systems towards new patterns of production, reproduction and consciousness that will improve the quality of human life and the natural environment” (Radical 9). In terms of methodology, this thesis lies at the intersection of three movements – ecocriticism, blue humanities, and social ecology– as they all are part of the narrative world of New York 2140. In the analysis here provided, the subthemes of place-connectedness, community resilience, financial objectives, commodification of causes, and even gender roles in capitalism are addressed as forming part of Robinson’s envisioned changes for the capitalist system. By analyzing Robinson’s novel, readers can not only visualize the shortcomings of the ongoing capitalist system, but also they can identify key factors that are needed to swirl the direction of that economy into one that benefits more people, perhaps even before arriving at such drastically-altered world (i.e., before the year 2140).
  • Obeng-Odoom, F. (2019)
    The intellectual marginalisation of Africa is often explained in terms of the lack of human capital. However, the peripheralization and systemic neglect of excellent research published in Africa problematise the human capital thesis and, ironically, demonstrate that the appeal to ‘Southern theory’ is not a panacea either. Although these perspectives are quite distinct, both seek to explain, and ultimately redress, Africa’s intellectual marginalisation apart from, not as part of, Africa’s marginalised position in the world system. The growing gulf between the use of knowledge produced in Africa and that in the metropole as well as little metropoles in the continent is patterned after global inequalities–not just differences in levels of human capital or the underappreciation of African knowledge systems. The historical and continuing concentration of the instruments of knowledge production in the hands of elites, the inferiorisation of the contribution of Africans, especially women, and the peripheralization of African outlets of production and dissemination have been central to the creation and persistence of this intellectual marginalisation. Creating structures of dependence and imitative research neither critical of, nor confrontational to, power imbalances is one outcome which, in turn, further legitimises the status quo because its resulting knowledge is unlikely to challenge the hegemony of the global north. This knowledge hierarchy reinforces the privileged status of knowledge produced in the north, while seeking to undermine the potential transformative power of southern knowledge. If so, merely seeking to develop ‘Southern theory’ is an ineffective alternative to the human capital thesis. © 2019, © 2019 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.
  • von Pfaler, Lauri (Helsingin yliopisto, 2020)
    This thesis investigates the history and consequences of the post-WWII naturalisation of capitalism. It draws centrally on social history of political thought, an approach to intellectual history developed by Ellen Meiksins Wood and Neal Wood, and situates the transformations that turned economic history into neoclassically-oriented historical economics ‒ the most fundamental example of naturalisation in the period under investigation ‒ in their wider socio-political context. The aim is to understand the politics of concept-formation and discipline reconstruction. The thesis presents the commercialisation model, the central naturalising account of the origins of capitalism. It equates capitalism with trade, markets, and towns, and explains its emergence circularly by capitalist phenomena and dynamics. Capitalism becomes universal, a naturalised and expected development that is only impeded by political or cultural fetters. In contrast, the thesis claims that capitalism is a historically specific arrangement of social relations, norms, and practices. The characteristics that are both specific and have been historically central to it are account for by a brief history of their unintended emergence as a result of class conflicts in the medieval English countryside. The thesis then considers the absence of capitalism as an analytical and historical concept in the specialised discipline of the economy. Thereafter, it presents the building blocks of historical economics: an abstract concept of the market as an information processor, reified notions of information and choice, and mathematics. All emanate from post-WWII economics, and the origins of the first three are traced to the twentieth-century struggle against collectivism and Marxism. Next, the thesis situates the construction of historical economics, a universalising and increasingly ahistoricist field, in the socio-historical context from 1950s onwards, emphasising important similarities with neoliberal thought and Friedrich Hayek. Two disciplinary developments are shown to be crucial. The first, cliometrics, is constituted by the direct use of neoclassical economics to study history. The second, new institutional economics (NIE) is a product of the 1970s. NIE claims to be more realistic and historical than neoclassical economics, but shares its naturalising impulses with the former. It is actually a more powerful tool of naturalisation because its framework allows the explanation of the social in terms of the economic. The transformations had profound implications for the understanding of capitalism. The theoretico-methodological framework ensures that historical economics projects aspects that are historically specific to capitalism onto non-capitalist historical contexts. Consequently, the latter is portrayed as qualitatively similar to the former in a way that re-embraces and refines the older commercialisation thesis: markets and private property are naturalised; relative price changes become the motor of history; and capitalism ‒ or a variant of its conceptual ‘place-holders’ ‒ is argued to only have alternatives that end in tragedy. Finally, the policy implications of naturalisation are assessed.
  • Minkkinen, Panu (2013)
    The essay explores the political theory of the so-called ‘early’ Walter Benjamin, especially in light of James Martel’s two recent books on the subject. The essay asks whether Max Weber would qualify as a ‘plotter’ in the ‘Benjaminian conspiracy’ that, for Martel, is at the heart of his anarchist politics. It does so by close-reading Benjamin’s posthumously published fragment ‘Capitalism as Religion’ from 1921 that specifically draws on Weber. A theoretical kinship is identified between Benjamin’s idea of pure means that Agamben also considers as a key element in the redefinition of politics and Weber’s notion of capital and violence as ‘ends in themselves’ in economic and political action respectively. Violence as the ‘end in itself’ or the Selbstzweck of politics represents the Nietzschean undercurrent of Weber’s politics that Benjamin may well have felt an affinity to.