Stingy and miserable are common outcomes of Capitalism. Capitalism, as an economic system, is concerned with gain, and loss. By definition, the word ‘capital’ means ‘of or pertaining to the head.’ It is the top, the commander, the leader, the chief. Whatever a culture equates with being the chief leader, that is their capital, their head commander. If number of goats is the measure, then goats represents capital. Capital can refer to money, or any kind of resource or asset that can be exchanged for other resources or assets. Money as a current common denominator is exchanged for services or products. But the barter system has been used for ages throughout the world long before ‘money’ came onto the scene.

Capitalism tends to operate on the notion that more is better than less, and gain is better than loss. More or less and gain or loss are both skewed through the lens of social and cultural norms and comparisons. One looks around to see if they have more or less than others, if they have gained or not according to the norms of the day. The fear of less and loss compels many to acquire more than they need. But, then, capitalism is based on more; it is not based on enough. The idea, the ethos, is to accumulate capital. And yet, the resources that make capital what it is, are limited. There is only so much gold; there is only so much oil. There is only so much land. There is only so much forest.

In an society in which information and knowledge has value, it can become a commodity of exchange, a resource and an asset. If there is some merit in the notion that the one who has the gold makes the rules, then those with information and knowledge have an advantage. Information becomes capital. Science fiction writers have created dystopian fantasy worlds in which water is scarce and becomes….expensive. Scarcity works for capitalism. In this dystopian scenario, water is like gold, and the one with the water, the capital, makes the rules, and sets the price. This scenario plays out largely in a ‘supply and demand’ economic system. The word ‘economic’ has a meaning more along the lines of ‘home management’ than it does the acquisition of capital. But, is supply and demand an effective, healthy way in which to manage one’s home, be that personal, national or global? There is problem enough with the notion of ‘demand.’ It’s not inconceivable that a model of ‘supply and demand’ can be replaced with ‘availability and request.’

In an effort to build and maintain capital, the most capital, people become not just greedy, but stingy, and miserly. Miserly is a lot like misery. For the masses, unbridled capitalism breeds misery. Even the wealthy are not well often suffering with anxieties, depressions, relationship conflicts, various physical health problems and a general malaise, a lack of joy. There can be a great deal of attachment to and identification with capital. To have less or loose it all, has been the precipice of suicide from which many have jumped. The error in thinking that prompts suicide tends to be what is referred to as black and white thinking and either/or thinking. If I am not the best, I am the worst. I am either the most, or the the least. If I have lost all my capital, then my life itself is worthless. Life is more a continuum between extremes. There are many shades of gray between black and white. There is more to life than money or capital. You may have lost your head, but that doesn’t mean you have lost your heart.

One of the common extremes in today’s political world is that between capitalism on one side and socialism on the other. Neither one, in the extreme, is necessarily healthy. Middle ground is often the optimal place for most populations. The continuum between miserly and generosity, or between scarcity and abundance, or between joy and misery are also subject to evaluation via gradation and degrees, if even this evaluation of gradation is based on cultural norms, which themselves are not the best baseline to use. Abundance for any tribe of indigenous people is a lot different than abundance for any modern city dweller capitalist. Likewise, scarcity will have it’s own social/cultural/physical gradations.

Look at the continuum as a graph in which one can move from left to right or right to

left:

Miserly

Generosity

Miserable

Joy

Frugality

Extravagance

Scarcity

Abundance

In terms of political leanings one can plot a continuum between capitalism and socialism, but a more poignant continuum is between ‘me’ and ‘we.’ Capitalism leans towards me and socialism towards we. From a capitalist perspective, socialism is turning the world upside down, the ‘m’ in ‘me’ flipping over and becoming the ‘w’ in ‘we.’

If one were to plot this continuum on a bell shaped curve, there will be those more towards the extreme left and right, one, or maybe two, and very rarely three, standard deviations from the average mean, which is the middle. Statistically, about 70% fall within one standard deviation, what is considered the middle range. About 20% extend to 2 standard deviations beyond that, and about 10% extend into the range of 3 standard deviations away from the median range. Even in the most socialistic or capitalistic setup, there will be standard deviations from the middle ground, and a small percentage at the extremes.

In any given population, there will be those who are ‘deviants.’ Those who deviate too much in either direction are considered outcasts. The joyous generous person is often as much an outcast as is the stingy miser, a threat to the status quo of the middle ground. And yet, it is often those deviants who move that middle ground left or right. Most people feel very good when they themselves are generous and joyous, when abundance is more present than scarcity. This is often apparent during natural or national crisis when people ‘come together.’ There is generosity of help and an abundance of hope. The miserable miserly stingy capitalist ‘me’ is replaced, if even temporarily, with the more joyous, generous, abundant and even extravagant socialist ‘we.’

When deviation from the norm moves the norm left or right, you have a ‘skewed’ bell shaped curve. For example, a population can have ‘normal’ move towards degeneration and retardation or normal can move towards regeneration and excellence. What is normal is average for a given population. Below average is less than and better than average is more than. Of course, it always depends on perspective and what is being measured.

In the common bell shaped curve, the standard deviations become a smaller and smaller percentage of the population. In a skewed bell shaped curve, the larger population moves away from the established norm and creates a new norm. For example, there is a continuum between one extreme of ‘me’ and the other extreme of ‘we.’ Me is dominated by exclusiveness. We is dominated by inclusiveness. Exclusive me-ness is more an expression of individual consciousness. Inclusive we-ness is more an expression of collective consciousness. Populations move towards ‘we’ as normal, during crisis, and towards ‘me’ during complacency.

We

Me

Inclusive

Exclusive

Collective

Individual

A continuum along the bell shaped curve is generally with ‘less’ to the left and ‘more’ to the right. To the left is generally negative numbers, and to the right, positive numbers. But, it need not necessarily be confined in that way. In the above samples, it is more about moving ‘towards the bright’ or ‘towards the dark.’ A continuum can be represented both horizontally and vertically as well.

The Wecentric Life

Inclusive

Collective

Abundance

Joy

Generosity

Exclusive

Individual

Scarcity

Misery

Stingy

The Mecentric Life


Out of mysterious spacious nebulae we emerge in time, a seed in the soil of matter, nudged along through geological time by animating intelligence beyond comprehension leading to a semi-conscious species able to ‘take over’ the progress from misery to joy.

Stingy and miserable is an option for anybody, as is generous and joyous. One can emphasize the individual exclusivity of ‘me.’ Or, one can emphasize the collective inclusivity of ‘we.’ It just depends on which destination (destiny) you choose and to then navigate your mind and body, your feet, and heart, in that direction.

We either make ourselves miserable, or we make ourselves strong. The amount of work is the same.”

-Carlos Casteneda


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