“Our whole social environment seems to us to be filled with forces which really exist only in our own minds.”
– Emile Durkheim
Capital: “of or pertaining to the head,” from Latin capitalis” – ‘of the head,’ hence ‘capital, chief, first.’ From Pre Indo European(PIE) root kaput– ‘head’).”
Social: “from Latin socius – ‘companion, ally.’ From PIE root sekw– ‘to follow.’ “
Capital vs. Social
The square boxing ring of the battle between capitalism and socialism is the same as the one between ‘head’ and ‘heart.’ The head represents capital whereas the heart represents social. The head is ‘I’ and the heart is ‘Us.’ The head is ‘me’ and the heart is ‘we.’ As life would have it, the head does not exist without the heart, nor the heart without the head. And, as life would have it, the pendulum swings from one to the other through cycles of time. There are phases and stages of development in which the social sea rises, and then recedes as the capital wave rises, which then recedes as the social sea again rises. There are cultures in which the heart may rule the head for a while, and those in which the head rules the heart. There are families in which the same dynamic occurs. Who is the head of a family, who the heart? Capital vs. Social is Head vs. Heart.
Despite the often glorification of the head, the chief, there is more substance in the social, in the heart, often acknowledged by the phrase, ‘let’s get to the heart of the matter.’ It is sometimes said that it’s lonely at the top meaning there is no companion, no ally, no social, when one is the chief. Even the most staunch capitalist will concede that without social, there is no capital, in the same way that without ‘demand’ of the consumer, there is no need to ‘supply’ by the producer. Production is predicated on consumption. The capitalist chief, the head, aims to produce consumption by the social collective, the heart, through mediums of communication designed to encourage and reinforce various hungers, i.e., hungers for power, control, health, wealth, love, happiness, all of which are ‘sold’ in the marketplace of commodities and ideas. Sophisticated strategies are employed by the head of production to persuade, convince, cajole, plead, manipulate and ‘conquer‘ the heart of consumers to demand what they have produced. If the heart of consumers changes its demands, the head of production will change supply to meet the demands.
The social heart certainly yearns for connection and togetherness, collaboration over competition. The capital head is not necessarily opposed, entirely. It’s a matter of degree. In most any household, there is often a struggle amongst husband and wife, parents and children, between competition and collaboration. The competitive head vs. the collaborate heart. The irony is that all competition (head) occurs in the context of social (heart) and is, as it were, sanctioned by heart. Competition can become an avenue of collaboration, with the aim of elevating skill through comparison. It inevitably results in a ‘winner’ and a ‘loser.’ The value of the (masculine) capital skill in question is predicated on the value placed by (feminine) social heart of any particular desired outcome, whether that outcome be physical strength or intellectual prowess, territorial acquisition or educational development. The outcome could as well target compassion, justice, fairness, opportunity and cooperation. Just as all men and women are born of the womb of woman, so too all masculine capital ventures are born in the feminine social milieu of the times. That men, in general, are so exceedingly influenced by women is but one indicator in the scheme in which the feminine social does not just sanction but encourages the masculine capital, to do its bidding.
Men, as representative of capital, in general, abhor the notion of being enslaved or dependent, and yet find they are bound by various social constraints and expectations. This conflict between capital freedom and social limitations is one of the factors contributing to resistance, opposition and defiance. For example, in modern political terms, there is resistance, opposition and defiance towards both capitalism and socialism, each being considered ‘evil’ by the other. In family systems, the head of the household may resist the heart of the household, and the heart of the household may defy the head of the household each seeing the other as ‘wrong.’
This genetic tendency towards the conflict of capital vs. social, head vs. heart, masculine vs. feminine, is predicated on the use of the word ‘or‘ instead of the word ‘and.’ For example, that you might be a capitalist or a socialist is rigid and fixed whereas that you might be a capitalist and a socialist is fluid and adaptable. There is no law of nature which requires one or the other; and, in fact, nature is much more a continuum between polarities. The contiuum of temperature ranges from extreme cold to extreme hot. Where is the demarcation between cold and hot? At what point is the temperature ‘hot’ and at what point ‘cold.’ The same could be said for capital vs. social. If capital is cold, and social is hot, the aim is for warmth, which is a blend of both. But, alas, there are degrees of warmth and the pendulum does swing, if not between extremes, then between the range of warmth, more to less, less to more.
The importance of social is, perhaps, best illustrated with one’s own experience. An individual capitalist, the chief or head, or any single seemingly ‘independent’ person, isolated from others, alone, without mediums of communication with others, soon begins to feel ‘bored‘ and as though they are losing their mind. This is so because the mind is formed in the relationship crucible of the social body, which ranges from neighbors to galaxies. All are born into a preexisting multi-dimensional social world, which is internalized in the mind as ‘my world.’ What emerges in the capital head is ever unfolding just as the social heart matures, unfolds, becomes ever more capable of expressing through the head of I, the heart of Us.
This emergence can be aided by adopting use of ‘and‘ instead of ‘or‘ in any number of articulations. Try it. Replace ‘either/or’ with ‘both/and.’ For example, ‘you’re either with us or against us’ becomes, ‘you are both with us and against us.’ which is an apt statement for any familiar social group such as a ‘family,’ large or small. The umbrella of ‘family’ encompasses polarities, conflicts and arguments of the individuals within the family. It’s not together or apart, it is together and apart. Polarities co-exist. For example, we may experience the linear progression of day to night, night to day from our limited narrow perspective; but, in fact, from a larger perspective, both day and night occur simultaneously. As the world spins on its axis, half the world is ever in the light of day, while half the world is ever in the dark of night. At the same time it is summer in the northern hemisphere, it is winter in the southern hemisphere. At the same time infants are being born, elderly are dying. At the same time many marry, many also divorce. Life is not either linear or simultaneous; it is both linear and simultaneous. As one expands their comprehension of integrated polarities, capital or social becomes capital and social, I and Us.
You can exercise this comprehension of polarities by pondering the loss in a win, and the win in a loss. Consider a runner who enters a race, and wins. What did they also lose? Perhaps they lost some self-doubt or fear. Consider a runner who enters a race, and looses. What did they also win? Perhaps they won a renewed sense of determination, or humility. Ponder the ‘wins’ in your life, and simultaneous ‘losses’; ponder the ‘losses’ in your life, and simultaneous ‘wins.’
“To be a good loser is to learn how to win.”
– Carl Sandburg