Tuesday, October 02, 2012

600-year Arc, Capitalism & Astrology. PART 2.

Part 1 and some interesting comments are HERE.
This post is my attempt to understand a little more about a possible 600-year arc of capitalism. Why? I guess it's to try to decide whether we really are on the cusp of the tail-end of capitalism - or not.

Humans love to predict. From soothsayers of yore studying entrails of an ox, to to day's psychics and astrologers, we've always strained to see beyond our horizons. We feel vulnerable, I suppose, unable to control random events thrown at us by the universe doing what it does best - progressing, albeit very slowly. We think that if we are aware of what's around the next corner we can psych ourselves up to receive it with some measure of equanimity. Prediction, though, isn't reliable, from whatever source it comes. Often those doing the predicting have axes to grind, or a political view to peddle, or other underlying motivations. It's wise to do a little basic research of one's own.

First up, trying to establish how reliable is the theory of the World Systems Analysis school, mentioned by Morris Berman, the writer whose article was quoted in Part 1. Is the "arc" of capitalism really a period of around 600 years: 1500 to 2100?

Where and when did capitalism breathe its first breath?

Tricky question, almost as tricky as "when, and where, will it breathe its last breath?" For brevity and at the expense of total accuracy, I'll concentrate on western development: Britain, Europe and the USA. It has to be mentioned, though, that six hundred years ago the kingdoms of Western Europe compared to Eastern civilisations would have seemed like backwaters, ravaged by continuous wars, disease and plague. Ming China or Ottoman Turkey then led civilization proper. China was the world's most advanced civilization in the 15th century, but stagnated and was overtaken by Dutch mercantilism and the rise of capitalism.

Elements of capitalism were present in the west as far back as 13th and 14th centuries, but not fully-fledged capitalism. Discovery of a sea route to India, put into regular use for trade, together with the rise of powerful French, English and Spanish monarchies, saw new measures established which could be seen as seminal capitalism.

If taken from the 14th century, 1300 - 1400 any 600-year arc of capitalism would have ended already (maybe it has but we just are not aware of yet!)

16th century found ocean voyages and discovery expeditions increasing in scope and danger. Risk factors and potential profits increased. Merchants risking fortunes on unpredictable adventuring needed high levels of support. Governments encouraged them, motivation being increased trade as well as extension of a nation's reach and power i.e. settlements and colonies abroad. Chartered companies were the solution. A charter, granted by the monarch, gave merchant companies a monopoly on trade with a specific region for a certain number of years, and legal power to enforce order in distant places while carrying out business.

Now capitalism began breathing easily!

The Industrial Revolution, from early 19th century onward, brought development of factories, steadily increasing in size, employing large numbers of workers in a single private enterprise.

Now capitalism began its heavy breathing.

The bigger companies and factories became, the wider the divide between workers and employers. Working conditions were bad to horrendous, wages poor, but still a co-dependency had been created. Through the 20th century until today, with boom and bust mini-cycles, capitalism has survived. Whether we are now on the edge of a "bust" period, with capitalism snatching for breath, wheezing away, old and diseased but capable of recovery; or almost at the end of a 600-year arc when the last breath will be drawn, isn't completely clear.

The 600-year arc proposed by researchers doesn't peter out until 2100, so we've around 88 years still to go before the strained last breath of capitalism is experienced, if the calculation is correct.

What of any relevant arcs in astrology?

Some astrologers consider the cycles of the farthest of our inner planets, Saturn and Jupiter, especially conjunctions of these two, to be significant to the topic of capitalism, its rise and fall. Astrologers also rely heavily on the three outer planets, Uranus, Neptune and Pluto and their cycles and aspects to one another for indication of coming events, examining events of the past when similar aspects occurred.

Several outer planet combinations and aspects are possible, many more if including Saturn and Jupiter in the mix, for instance: Uranus/Neptune, Uranus/Pluto, Neptune/Pluto and a few triples too. I find that sorting out astrological cycles and aspects can easily become something of a lucky dip, lending itself to the bending of anything to mean anything. All we have, truly, are best guesses linked to personal experience of what each planet, more often than not, indicates.

Uranus more often than not brings change, Neptune more often than not brings delusion and foggy thinking, Pluto can bring destruction, death and darkness which lead eventually to transformation.

With capitalism in mind we need to establish two things: an exact-as-possible start date to work from - and this for me remains nebulous. Also needed, clarification of which planet(s) are most likely to be involved when investigating capitalism. I can see why astrologers prefer Jupiter and Saturn in this respect. Jupiter = expansion, excess. Saturn = business, the law. A conjunction of the two planets could clearly relate to capitalism - and the cycle of those conjunctions might well show how capitalism progresses. But I think that if capitalism were "on its last legs" we'd have to see Uranus or Pluto prominently indicated at the time Jupiter and Saturn were conjoined or in harmonious aspect - otherwise the indication might just point to capitalism rolling along, booming and busting, in mini-cyclic fashion within a wider arc.

I'm grateful to commenter "mike" at Part 1 for referring me to a blog Astrology and Yoga by astrologer Adam Smith. In a post for 20 September 2012 he wrote, regarding capitalism:
We have seen the archetypal boom and bust, peaking in 2010 with the Jupiter-Saturn opposition, which brought us to the brink. Our present Jupiter-Saturn cycle is the last in Earth for another 600 years, and the present economic tumult is the world saying goodbye to the Industrial Revolution and dog-eat-dog capitalism.

Not to be forgotten are the Uranus/Pluto square (90 degree aspects), seven of 'em, I think, occurring exact at certain points in 2012 to 2015. Bearing in mind that there's up to a 5-year span between 2010 (Jupiter-Saturn opposition) to 2015 (the last Uranus/Pluto square), at some point in this time span we'll see.....what....? Something highly significant relating to capitalism. Whether it'll be its absolute end doesn't strike me as clear-cut at all, but a definite re-jigging or hiccup is coming.

Conclusion - We can't be 100% sure that a 600-year arc is the accurate measure for capitalism's "lifetime"; even if it is near enough correct, the arc's starting point isn't 100% clear. A fair amount of latitude, wiggle-room, needs to be allowed as to calendar years involved, if credence is given to the theory that capitalism is ailing and about to die.

Helpful information on capitalism found HERE and HERE.


India Rebelde said...

Very interesting post, and I agree with some things you mention ...

I believe that human beings must always be above anything material, but we are clear that the capitalist system is not and never will be so ..

Interesting blog post and better, I stay and follow you.

Greetings Caribbean

Fatima Dos Santos

Twilight said...

India Rebelde ~~ Hi there!

Thank you for your thoughts on this - from the beautiful Caribbean! My envious - and kind - thoughts back to you!

Well, I think the capitalist system can work in favour of more everyday people if it's properly regulated and balanced - but now it has become wildly unbalanced and soon likely to become untenable if nothing is done to apply balancing effects. Let's hope someone will apply the brakes soon.

Many thanks for your visit, and your support. :-)

Wisewebwoman said...

It is a failed experiment, T, we see the detritus all around us and getting worse.

I see where today Obama has retained the right to seize without charge anyone perceived to be a "terrorist" that lovely catch all bogeyman word.

To maintain the status quo at all costs.

Capitalism (Oligarchy) won't go down without a lot of blood being shed.


Chomp said...

No doubt on two things: 1) The Party of Capitalism is over, that they may understand it or not...; 2) Capitalism has been, notwithstanding what its Army of supporters and defenders may say, the Biggest and most Succesful Machine of Destruction of civilizations and nature ever manifested all along human history...

But as I have said, it is difficult for an alternative group to impose in some way to masses and circumstances, and especially to the forces of the ruling elite, and therefore consequently change the situation without any blood or witout any destruction, in a way or another...

This is **theorically** possible - teh change without a destruction in soem way - but it happened so few times all along history...

What happened the most is a fall of a System and of a ruling elite and, only **after this** has happened, new possibilities openly arise and do manifest...

Twilight said...

Wisewebwoman ~~ It's failing, for sure, WWW. not sure it could be seen as an experiment though. I see it more as an inevitable development of an historical pattern, but the pattern has continued to expand beyond its natural boundaries.

I don't think capitalism needs to go down completely, at least, not yet. It needs restrictions to be placed on it. But because, in the USA in particular, a corrupt political and electoral system is in place there's no mechanism for that to happen.

It's not a pretty picture.

Twilight said...

Chomp ~~ Change without destruction - that's what we have to hope for, but it seems like a vain hope as things stand at present.

Some unexpected event, environmental or otherwise could bring things to a point where change would become inevitable. Even that scenario would be undesirable though because it'd probably involve loss of life somehow, somewhere.

You're right, the system itself will have to implode, and take some of the oligarchs down with it.

I don't know enough about the system to be able to comment sensibly, but it doesn't seem that we're quite at the implosion stage yet. A few more years of life in it yet if nothing untoward happens in the meantime - maybe 10 to 15 to go?

mike said...

I'm not a big fan of the extreme capitalism in practice today and it seems that the average person isn't either. I don't think that each of us understands our part in this ugly machination that continually feeds upon us. Capitalism wouldn't exist without consumers. We all want better returns on our 401K, which puts pressure on the 401K managers to insist companies seek increasing profits. We each want a good car, newest cell phone, food on the table at the lowest price, etc. Walmart and Target sell goods made in third world or newly industrialized countries for a reason...Americans want a bargain and will go elsewhere, if the price is cheaper. Many of the goods we purchase have questionable origins: terrorist gasoline, blood diamonds, sweatshop clothes, illegal immigrant harvested fruits and vegetables, etc.

We consumers are not willing to abstain from our own capitalistic consumerism to allow a change. It's a love-hate relationship that will not change unless we are each willing to do with less and pay more for products made in our own resident nation. Capitalism as we know it could end tomorrow, if we collectively quit feeding it.

On the other hand, I remember something from one of my college classes: capitalism continually increases quality and decreases cost through competition and encourages technological improvements by rewarding the inventors and investors, bringing a higher standard of living for all (that can afford it).

Chomp said...

You said right, a vain hope of passed years and the reason is what I tried to explain, the practical difficulty for the ones who want or need the change to find a space, a sufficient space, to operate explicitly and impact the masses...

Twilight said...

mike ~~ You've encapsulated the situation clearly there.
Yet, there is a kind of "chicken and egg" situation too.

Taking our own town as example (pop. around 24,000). I'm pretty sure that if Walmart hadn't come here years ago and made it impossible for local traders to survive, people would have happily shopped and maybe paid a little more to support their locals. Walmart ruined so many small businesses. Same goes for other big chains.

Our choices are taken away, this is key to it. Then, soon, monopolies emerge. Who knows how many actual corporations there are in the world - less than some might suppose - with tentacles everywhere and monopolising everything.

That's what capitalism becomes when left unfettered.

We, the consumers and voters are at fault also, I do ageee, but it's partly from necessity.

If employers - all employers paid fair wages and offered decent work contracts consumers wouldn't be forced to seek the cheapest goods, and the Walmarts etc. wouldn't thrive nearly as well.

The whole thing is out of balance, and so far out of balance now that it'll be hard if not impossible to fix, short of eventual revolution.

Twilight said...

Chomp ~ Yes - we're in a bind. "They" have us exactly where they want us.

Eventually though, something will change and provide a way forward. I don't know how or when, but it will happen, it's the nature of things.

mike (again) said...

I won't belabor the point, but I'll use your own words:
"Taking our own town as example (pop. around 24,000). I'm pretty sure that if Walmart hadn't come here years ago and made it impossible for local traders to survive, people would have happily shopped and maybe paid a little more to support their locals. Walmart ruined so many small businesses. Same goes for other big chains."

Your local citizens DID willingly make a choice...they shopped at Walmart! The locals took the small businesses out.

Twilight said...

mike ~~ I can't really argue with that, Mike. If too few people had shopped at Wally World it wouldn't have survived - or at least it would never have grown into the monster it is now.

Two things though: people aren't seers. They couldn't possibly have foreseen what has happened. Walmart wasn't nearly the monster it is now when it first moved into this town, and certainly when Sam Walton first created the company.
It's easy for us to criticise the people, knowing what we know now.

It's a little like cigarette smoking. People of past decades didn't know the dangers. We do. If they'd known what we know many wouldn't have smoked - ever.

As much as I know what you're saying is true, I also don't feel quite comfortable blaming "the people" for it all. There has to be more to it.

Chomp said...

Yes it is true, a way out **must be found finally, a way to give way to the energies of the ones who need change... And to find the necessary, proper space without which absolutely nothing can be achieved but only mere dreams...
And the dreams of change some of us played with in passed decades and the **real changes are two far different things...

But gut says that this way out will not be as passed years would have thought or dreamt, it will not be a re-editing of old ideologies... Nor the dreams of peace-and-love or the free-for-all or other visions...

It is necessary it may be something new and unprecedented...

Twilight said...

Chomp ~~ Hi! sorry for the delay in publishing your comment - I've just found it among a list of comments awaiting moderation in a corner of the new Blogger interface.

"Something new and unprecedented" - yes, this is something I think about sometimes. Uranus in Aries now- near future could well be the time when we'll experience this.