Capitalism and Its Culture - PDF book Jerome Davis

Capitalism and Its Culture 


Capitalism and Its Culture

We live in a capitalistic era and should uncover and appraise all ascertainable truth about the age in which we live. Sur- prisingly enough, there has been little or no detailed scientific research carried on concerning the general effects of capitalism and the part it plays in the life of the ordinary citizen. Thorstein Veblen, Sidney Webb, R. H. Tawney, Harry Ward, Harold Laski, and others have done notable work in this field, but there are still large areas of virgin territory to explore. It is anomalous that while we are living under capitalism we should know so little about its effects. 

Like the men who were shipwrecked and dying of thirst and then discovered they were floating in the mouth of the Amazon, our society has a tendency to grant funds for research in almost any field except those on the actual effects of capitalism itself ; yet this area may be the most vital and fruitful of all. The following book is not designed to be a complete study of capitalism. No one is more clearly aware of its imperfections than the author. 

To make an adequate study of capitalism would demand a staff of assistants and an appropriation of money equal to the amount spent on “Recent Social Trends.” No American research foundation apparently is willing to finance such a study, nor have students in the field seen fit to deal exhaustively with the subject. Since the author was unable to secure funds for this research, the data are not as complete as he could wish. 

To have delayed publication for further accumulation of statistics is of doubtful expediency at a time when men are questioning as never before the very fundamentals of our social order. It is probably too much to hope that conservatives and those who themselves are responsible for the failure of the research foundations to appro- priate money for studies of capitalism will not now criticize this manuscript because it does not come up to the standards of re- search possible when thousands of dollars are available. 

Under such handicaps mistakes are inevitable, but it is the contention of the writer that these will not change the main argument of this volume, which depends not on any of the individual examples cited but on the trends and mass effects which clearly confront us. This book is written because the times demand it. 

The reader may not like it, the critics may confound it, but our economic order nevertheless needs all the honest analysis any student can give. That this volume will call forth from others a more exhaus- tive treatment of this complex subject is a hope ever present in the purpose of the author. In this volume no attempt has been made to describe all the aspects of the subject. 

An entire chapter has been devoted to the strongest case which the author could make in defense of capitalism. On the other hand, since most 'Americans who live in the capitalistic milieu are daily told directly and indirectly about the advantages of the system, he has not hesitated to devote most of his space to a critical analysis of capitalism and its effect on our culture. 

To some extent, the title of this volume is misleading. Culture is a much broader term than capitalism, embracing all the her- itage of the ages, both material and immaterial, which has been handed down by man. Capitalism is but one of many behavior complexes which make up our cultural heritage. Nevertheless, this volume is concerned primarily with capitalism and its effect on important aspects of our culture. 

This effect is so powerful that its ramifications spread to nearly every phase of life. A can- ning factory in a small town may seem a small thing, yet it definitely relieves the housewife of the necessity of canning her own vegetables and fruit. This may create a new leisure problem. At any event, with the canning factory comes a laboring popula- tion, long hours, speeding up, wage cuts, strikes, unemployment, perhaps riots and even martial law. It is with this complex chain of phenomena, among others, that the writer is concerned. Naturally, an analysis of the going economic order must be critical. In citing concrete instances and naming particular per- sons the author has not intended to censure individuals but to help the reader to understand the workings of a system. 

Abstractions do not sufficiently portray reality. A system may be indicted without necessarily implying that all those who are embroiled in it are at fault. How individuals can escape from taking part in the system as long as the system endures is difficult to see. Any critic is enmeshed in the capitalistic order and is affected by it at a thousand points of daily conduct. 

The fact that all of us participate in its practices and are affected by them is but one more proof of the all-pervasiveness of the capitalistic pattern. Capitalism has had its effect on culture and it is this effect that we have tried to analyze. 

The author is quite aware that many Americans, including those who are in business, are not operating strictly according to the philosophy of the capitalistic system. They are really trying to render service to their fellow men and are not out to get all the profits they can. No matter what eco- nomic system ruled our society, we should still require teachers, doctors, lawyers, farmers, workingmen, and men and women with the hundreds of other occupational skills which make up the complex cooperative effort that provides us with the myriads of articles which we use.


Author: Jerome Davis
 Publication Date: 193
Company:Farrar & Rinehart
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