Monday, January 26, 2009

Liberal Communist, A Philosophical Misnomer

What do you call a person who happens to not only make a lot of money out of market transaction (or capitalism), but also spend a considerable sum of it for charities or deeply concern with social responsibility?

Think people like Bill and Melinda Gates, Bono, or you --who is working at the heart of capitalism, the firm, but love to buy only fair trade product, deliberately join anti-globalization protest, or sincerely pay the zakat more than legally required.

Slavoj Žižek, in his latest provocative book, Violence, calls them liberal communist.

In his words, they are the true citizens of the world today, who think that they can have the capitalist cake, i.e, thrive as profitable entrepreneurs or workers, and eat it too, i.e. endorse for social responsibility and ecological concern.

I think Zizek is just caught off guard: in the standard myth of capitalist, one can only win in the market only if he/she applies maximum greed. A class of citizen, who bypass the state to effectively channel the resources for redistribution, also does not support the ideal of socialism.

In my opinion, however, nothing's funny about this. Such behavior does not violate the standard argument that people maximize his/her utility by combining their actions --not only the ones with financial reward, like working your ass off in a company, but also ones with non pecuniary reward, like seeing the poor children's utility goes up by giving them scholarship, and at the same time avoiding government, because to them, it is a dis-utility.

I would just call them good guys.

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