Inequality has always been with us. Ever since we lived in the jungles we had
brute force, brute power, determine the spoils. Civilization was all about moving away from
that situation where brute strength and power determined the quality of life of the members
of our species. That was the theory. To a very large extent we moved in that direction. This is something we should be very proud
of. But we’re very, very far away from having
created social relations between us, a legal framework, a way of organizing economic life
that takes power out of the equation of civilization. Economic surplus is essential for humanity
to develop. If we don’t have an economic surplus we cannot
grow, not just physically but also spiritually; we cannot create new literature, we cannot
create new film, we cannot create new theater. We need to have a surplus in order to be able
to invest it in all those activities that make human life richer. But the question is who controls the surplus? And, of course, in societies that are very
asymmetrical in terms of who owns the means of production – whether we are talking about
slave-owning societies where there’s a few slave owners, or feudalism or capitalism,
where you’ve got 0.1 percent owning most of the productive abilities or machinery and
factories of production in society – they can, in order to preserve their property rights
over those means of production, they use debt, they use political power and they use the
monopoly position that their property rights afford them in order to skew the whole process
of creativity of production in a manner that, for instance, in the case of the media world,
we have 50 channels of rubbish to watch from. We have industries that are dedicated to producing
things that we neither need nor want, destroying the planet in the process. We have billions of people there working like
headless chickens driving themselves into depression and going home and crying themselves
to sleep at night if they have a job. Or consuming antidepressants and becoming
obese and seeing shrinks if they don’t have a job. In the end we have a joyless economy. Even those who are extremely powerful, in
theory, the haves of the world are increasingly feeling insecure. They have to live in gated communities because
they have fear all the have-nots out there that envy their wealth. And in the end, we have developed fantastic
means of escaping need and escaping want which we are not putting to good use because in
the end we are developing new forms of depravity and deprivation. And universalized depression – psychological
depression – which is incongruent with our fantastic advances at the technological level. It’s a very silly way of organizing life.

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100 thoughts on “Joyless economies: Unregulated capitalism, slavery, and feudalism | Yanis Varoufakis”

  1. Former finance ministers from Greece should just shut up and accept they know nothing about economics

  2. People confuse corporatism with capitalism and then they ask for socialism.
    This guy, just like most people, confuses corporatism with capitalism.

  3. Im so sick of seeing Koch vetted milktoast career speakers spew scripted rhetoric on youtube. Every channel that claims to be about spreading ideas eventually slips into this pitfall of accepting polarized political think tank money.

    This is fucking propaganda at its finest. A refined, subtle yet overt coup of free access points to higher knowledge. These places have gone from market places to dumpsters of ideas. All in the name of a selfish lust for wealth and power by their founders. What sort of intellectually dishonest or complete unaware useful imbecile do you have to be to stoop to this vile disregard for principled guardianship over these spaces.. What a disgrace.

  4. Joyless is a bad description. All these economies were slavery. Wageslavery is slavery.

  5. Even though I largely agree with his politics and economics, I don't agree at all with his vision of past human societies, which bears more resemblance with the ideas of John Adams than with anthropological evidence.

    It turns out most hunter-gatherer and tribal societies tend to be much more humane and egalitarian than any large societies found past the invention of large-scale agriculture and the state.

    Just saying.

  6. Capitalism and Democracy are jokes told to slaves my their masters to make them feel better about their pitiful lives.

    In reality what you consider capitalism doesnt even exist. You do realize that pretty much every developed nation is laundering tax dollars directly into their GDP to fabricated their GDP numbers via defense contractors, right? Thats not capitalism, thats not even a free market. Thats using socialism to pretend that capitalism is a legitimate social system because it is so easily abused.

  7. PEOPLE ARE DYING BECAUSE THEY LITERALLY CAN'T AFFORD LIFE AND THE AMERICAN GOVERNMENT DOESN'T CARE. Specifically talking about someone who died because he couldn't afford insulin despite working a full time job. There is something wrong with the current government. The government is not good until every person in the country can afford to live.

    "The nation has far to go in increasing access to health care, increasing access to education, reducing the dangers of nuclear war (and nuclear waste), improving air and water quality, reducing hunger, and so on. To the extent that the nation’s leaders avoid the risky issues in favor of safe rewards, the public demands instant gratification instead of long-term diligence, and the media punishes the trial and error so essential to ultimate impact, the list of government’s greatest achievements of the next half century will be short, indeed."
    (Paraphrasing from "Government’s Greatest Achievements of the Past Half Century – Paul C. Light Friday, December 1, 2000")

    There are a LOT of silly things about capitalism. Not mentioning the other types of government is purely because capitalism is the one that matters to us, if you're in the US which is what Big Think is aimed at, as a capitalist country. If you're wondering why he's saying it's unregulated it's because the government was put in place to regulate the country yet nothing has really changed in the past however many years because the government is less and less about actually managing the country and more and more about gaining power. He's making fair arguments and people in the comment section are here are throwing petty insults at him discrediting him on who he is, making ridiculous claims about his preconceived biases, and not listening to his words.

    It hurts me to see people not thinking outside of their bubble to see that there are things wrong with the country they're living in. "I live a fulfilling life so life must be able to be fulfilling for everyone if they tried". Unfortunately that's not how it works.

  8. The economy, like government, and all man-made things, are tools meant to be USED by humans, to BENEFIT society.

    They’re not meant to be worshipped and maintained if they don’t work for us.

    Worshipping capitalism by virtue of the fact that it’s capitalism is absurd and becomes a fundamentalist religion.

  9. Venezuelans have escaped the bonds of wage slavery and everyone has finally brought equality between the rich and the poor!
    Even the unemployed are millionaires there!

  10. Communism? Maybe? The 100 million murdered to enact it in Russia and China may call it Joyless.

  11. Karl Marx said capitalism was a necessary stage in human evolution and would advance society with industrial and technological advancements unseen before, but would eventually cannibalize the society it once benefited.

    Clearly, that's not happening right now…

    It's morbidly fascinating to see how people who cheer on the economic orthodoxy of capitalism rail against the social changes that that economic mode inevitably drives. They blame it on "cultural Marxism" or "postmodernism", as if neither are the direct result of capitalist orthodoxy. The common factor in everything that is permitted in the Overton window — via what was once the "left" or "right" — is that there is potentially a buck in it for investors. Those things not allowed, those things marked as "far" — left and right — are the things for which there is no promise of R.O.I.

    What is most heartbreaking, though, is that the zombified carcass of social democracy now shuffles about in pursuit of this dangled scent of social justice. There is no hope. People are capitalist prawns in the salmon trap of life.

  12. Hehehe I will be holding on to my savagery, now more than ever Yanis! I don't Fuck with your money or anybody else's for that matter, Fucking with my money equals DEATH! End of discussion!

  13. Oh, another guy who knows best what we need and want. People wealthy enough to eat themselves into disease and death is joyless? Why would they do it then? Are you going to forbid that? Are you complaining that instead of starvation, that went through most of history, we now have to deal with diabetes? What an evil world we created, where death comes majorly from lack of self control.

  14. Typical communist bullshit! Life is FREEDOM! Who the fuck are you to tell anyone how to live their life?

  15. Should lazy people have the same quality of life as the diligent? Should the stupid be considered of the same worth to society as the likes of Nikola Tesla? Wasn't this all addressed by Rev Malthus two centuries ago? Will the best not rise to the top – as they've always done (see the Biblical book Proverbs)? If you think Capitalism is the cause of the problem, look at the existing alternatives (before they economically collapse), or the history of the alternatives going all the way back to Roman times.

  16. Capitalism has to go. And we must push for automation communism. get rid of private property and push for personal property. have the workers own the means of production until we can automate it.

  17. να τος ο Βαρουφάκης ρε φίλε… ελπίζω μην πάρουν και τον Τσίπρα να μιλήσει θα μας κάνει ξεφτίλα με τα αγγλικά του..

  18. At 53 seconds… Not as far as you may think. It's just that the people who have the answers are shadowbanned, both socially and economically terrorized so that your opinion can be accurate and high school debate team bullshit discussions and political talking points can still exist.

    Big stink here and the rest of the world don't want people like me to take away their petty games and they're subtle weaponry of which continues to protect the Brute Force bullshit.

    Lizard brain R-complex still ruling the day.

  19. At 1:07… grow spiritually? But spirituality is fake as fuck nonsense that equates to nothing more than a stagnating mental prison.

    Big stink, yet again.

  20. Overall, this videos intent and message are noble. So I give it a thumb up even though I have answers for all of this and whenever big stink and the rest of the world are ready to come down out of their Pious moral Ivory Towers and accept that a degenerate intellectual like myself might just have these answers,.. on a silver platter with a fucking bow on it, no less. When the world is ready to start helping me manifest these patches for our so-called civilization; I'm ready when you are.

  21. COMUNISM is the worst control of means of production by incompetent burocrats that destroy society to keep in power. See Lenin, Stalin, Mao, Castro, Chaves/Maduro…

  22. While I agree with most of what he says, the very first statement he makes is incorrect. For the vast majority of human's 200,000 year existence, before about 12,000 years ago when the neolithic revolution occurred, human society was overwhelmingly egalitarian with basically no inequality. I can even reference BigThink to back me up:

  23. The only people that force you to do anything is the government you idoits. You don't have to ship at Wal-Mart or Cosco you choose to

  24. Socialism is the epitome of Collectivist Tribalism… the exact opposite of Laissez-faire Capitalism. The former advocates control, the latter freedom. Which do you prefer? Under the former system, you are given no freedom to choose and no freedom will be granted.

  25. No wonder the economy of greece collapsed then, he sounds like a socialist and he was an economic advisor to greece as well. Not to mention he doesnt understand economy very well, i watched his ted talk which was one long misconception about economy.,

  26. Mega success is not possible without the unpaid labor of those that came before us. In those instances where existing infrastructure can be used to harvest excessive wealth they do owe an extra tax. But, we need to be VERY careful how we treat individuals, because the socialist perspective while inevitable with the near "completion of work" it is far more capable of creating misery for us all then capitalism is. Capitalism lets people fall through the cracks, socialism can widen them to fit us all.

  27. This is a lot of words to say absolutely nothing. Capitalism is what has ended poverty for most of the world. That is predicated on those who rake risks being allowed to keep the spoils of their investments, which would include the means of production, which they either bought or invented to begin with.

    Furthermore, all thr "ailments" he points to (while conveniently ignoring the much worse ailments of previous generations), are the results of individual choice. Therefore the only way to counter these ailments would be to eliminate personal choice.

    Those things which many believe are responsible for a lack in quality of life are primarilu the result of failed government policy which removes personal choice. Government seizes assets through force (called taxes) and then pours it into subsidizing what they 'know' is best… which often isn't.

  28. What is alarming is the commenters, the majority apparently degenerate fascist guard-dogs, terrified by any threat to the elite. "only those who have no power say that having too much power is not fair." (david boson), is one of the more interesting.

  29. More regulations again? How many times throughout history do we have to deal with more bureaucratic bullshit until we all learn that it is just a waste of time and money?😥

  30. If there were a kind of global elections on that matter, I would rather vote for a few 'owners of the world', establishing rules, ☝in case those were The Progressive Leaders, – conserned about how to bring humanistic to the rest of population, promoting development of the humanistic versus biological 'drivers' of human development… I would prefer few progressive leaders, rather then to spread the power among more wide range of 'middle' good-philistines((… There must be the Personalities in the forefront, who would show and promote the top-range of personaldevelopnent opportunities and wisdom, to drive the civilization to progress and humanitarian well-being… not to stay for ages in middle-good, but constant swamp with no impulse for development…

  31. I feel that Yanis Varoufakis is the Noam chomsky of our generation.
    He is just so on point with his criticism of capatalism and how it could be tweaked.
    Sadly the vast ammount of brainwashed dummies out there instanty think "soviet socialism" when ever they hear someone say that capitalism may be flawed in any way…

  32. Opinions are like assholes everyone has one. There is no perfect system of government.
    you will always have someone who wants to control it at the expense of everyone else.

  33. And the haves convince the have nots that you, and everybody else with have a brain, are leftist or water melon or jews or kuffar or sinner or redneck or communist or kaffer or muslim or space cowboy

  34. It finally makes sense why the Greece was/is so poor. They picked this know-nothing to lead their finances. How about learning economy 101 before leading a country? Isn't that a novel idea?

    I know that communist manifesto gives an illusion of knowledge and do-goodery, but one should try and find out the basics of the basics of economy, just to be on the safe side. More so if you plan to lead economy of a country and even more if you should be given a face time on Big Think.

  35. The problem is over-regulated capitalism, delegation of individual responsibility and a lack of education (due to the former). Capitalism is the most fair system in the world and if the average citizen wasn't a selfish asshole we'd have more Elon Musk style companies over private banks or tax-subsidized big oil.

  36. Actually hunter-gatherers lived very peaceful egalitarian lives. The powerful could not dominate others with brute force

  37. comes across as a 'silly' presentation that sounds more like he's trying to sell me something (like that life sucks, I guess) – most of the people in 'my world' are happy with they're lives – not buying, find a different ear

  38. More people are able to have more and live a happier life with unregulated capitalism. The problems you have with capitalism is when the government starts putting its nose in the business of business. The people who cry that it is unfair are the people who are not willing to work hard enough for what they want to achieve. Then whip out the victim card saying that it isn't fair that they don't have the same amount of success as rich person "A".

    Instead of finding out how to make a better mousetrap these people cry that isn't nat fiar that the good mouse trap works so well. Look at How Europe has treated successful companies in the past. Microsoft. They made too good of an operating system that it was not fair that they tied their own browser to the operating system they must separate it. Even though you could already download and install Mozilla. Look at google now they are saying that Google has to much share of the search and that people are too dependant on it. SO they have to look for ways to extort money out of them by making up new laws that will "Redistribute the wealth". You are wrong that unregulated capitalism is bad. It has made more people rich than any socialist or communist government ever dreamt.

    Then you have this Former Finance minister of Greece. IS that the company that is having to be propped up by the EU because it is so far in debt? And you want to take the advice of someone who cant handle their own finances?

  39. Excellent summary. You don't have to be a Marxist to agree with Yanis' analysis of the trouble we are in.

  40. Religion can help people find purpose and help each other. Even with the scary extremist terrorists, there are great acts of good that religion does.

  41. Most of the disadvantages coming with today's capitalism result from giving the power of regulating it to only a few. And only the government and its corpo friends take advantage of that. So the title is wrong: its regulated capitalism that makes people less happy than they could be in unregulated capitalism

  42. Totally unregulated capitalism is a terrible idea yes, but all of this "inequality" talk doesn't mean anything. We should strive for a system that allows for upward mobility. We live in such a a system. Not everyone born poor will stay so and not everyone born rich will stay so. What's that saying? Equality of opportunity and not equality of outcome? I'm poor. Very poor, but I don't want a system that pays the same for excellence as it does for incompetence. I want a system that rewards innovation and hard work. I don't want everyone to end up equal regardless of what they do. That doesn't make any sense whatsoever.

  43. Andrew Yang for US president in 2020. He doesn't have all the answers, and he's not a savior, but he would help us get started moving in the right direction. $1000 a month for every American and affordable healthcare, these two solutions alone would put power back in the hands of people. People would still be responsible for finding work and meaning in their life, but $1000 a month would certainly take the edge off for millions. And it would send billions of new money into local economies, creating a multiplying effect on new and existing local businesses. If there's another candidate who has ideas that would get America headed in a more positive direction more quickly, please let me know. I don't see one. for answers to many of your questions.

  44. I'm sorry, but you were Minister in a country in debt and asked for change without repaying those who lend you the money… That's not right.
    I know it might be counter-intuitive, but you should first become an economical power and THEN change the system… From the top.

  45. Last paragraph of chapter XI of the first book of "The Wealth of Nations", by Adam Smith;

    "His employers constitute the third order, that of those who live by profit. It is the stock that

    is employed for the sake of profit which puts into motion the greater part of the useful labour

    of every society. The plans and projects of the employers of stock regulate and direct all the

    most important operations of labour, and profit is the end proposed by all those plans and

    projects. But the rate of profit does not, like rent and wages, rise with the prosperity and fall

    with the declension of the society. On the contrary, it is naturally low in rich and high in poor

    countries, and it is always highest in the countries which are going fastest to ruin. The interest

    of this third order, therefore, has not the same connection with the general interest of the

    society as that of the other two. Merchants and master manufacturers are, in this order, the

    two classes of people who commonly employ the largest capitals, and who by their wealth

    draw to themselves the greatest share of the public consideration. As during their whole lives

    they are engaged in plans and projects, they have frequently more acuteness of understanding

    than the greater part of country gentlemen. As their thoughts, however, are commonly

    exercised rather about the interest of their own particular branch of business, than about that

    of the society, their judgment, even when given with the greatest candour (which it has not

    been upon every occasion) is much more to be depended upon with regard to the former of

    those two objects than with regard to the latter. Their superiority over the country gentleman

    is not so much in their knowledge of the public interest, as in their having a better knowledge

    of their own interest than he has of his. It is by this superior knowledge of their own interest

    that they have frequently imposed upon his generosity, and persuaded him to give up both his

    own interest and that of the public, from a very simple but honest conviction that their

    interest, and not his, was the interest of the public. The interest of the dealers, however, in any

    particular branch of trade or manufactures, is always in some respects different from, and

    even opposite to, that of the public. To widen the market and to narrow the competition, is

    always the interest of the dealers. To widen the market may frequently be agreeable enough to

    the interest of the public; but to narrow the competition must always be against it, and can

    serve only to enable the dealers, by raising their profits above what they naturally would be,

    to levy, for their own benefit, an absurd tax upon the rest of their fellow-citizens. The

    proposal of any new law or regulation of commerce which comes from this order ought

    always to be listened to with great precaution, and ought never to be adopted till after having

    been long and carefully examined, not only with the most scrupulous, but with the most

    suspicious attention. It comes from an order of men whose interest is never exactly the same

    with that of the public, who have generally an interest to deceive and even to oppress the

    public, and who accordingly have, upon many occasions, both deceived and oppressed it."

    A few lines here and there should be retextualized to take into account the global nature of today capital, but one can get the gist of it thinking globaly instead of locally.

  46. .Since another socialist hasn't given us an ethical path to socialism,  here is another Solution:

    A logarithmic income tax that stays within districts and states; States set a minimum wage adjusted annually to keep Pace with inflation. States set up retirement plans and medical coverage for their citizens.  A national VAT ( with an exception for food and shelter) for a reasonable UBI; a tax on publicly traded companies, a luxury tax and a tax on capital gains from Wall Street goes to International infrastructure, nuclear power and policing the world, to be budgeted by the House and Senate.

  47. Mark Hamilton & Yanis need to have a secret personal meeting! They could talk about the Melian Dialogue, a fulcrum era of history when man lost his weak grip on acheiving civilization, among endless other things!

    We have a solid plan that from now on lets our species correct our course, to finally live the rich & joyful lives we are born for.

  48. says the guy who is being protected by these "sily capialist armies" from turky conquering his country and enslaving the population

  49. Excellently laid out….if one were to reason on the points being made without being prejudiced about the person making the case it would be crystal clear, Capitalism as its practiced today needs to change…every human creation crumbles & corrodes with time & needs to be redesigned better…capitalism is no exception.

  50. It's far, far more joyless living in a massively government controlled socialist economy than living in a vibrant capitalist economy that creates wealth.

  51. Since when are the rich growing increasingly fearful and hiding in gated communities? Perhaps the greatest success of the entrenched wealthy in the US is that they managed to create a society that venerates and celebrates wealth and idolizes the entrepreneurial. Which brings with it the idea that that is the ultimate pursuit of modern life, the ability to consume.

    Gated communities become more popular in countries where the law isn't effectively protecting people, but it is not on the rise throughout the world by any means. Society is more peaceful, at least in the west at home, than it has been for millennia, despite the inequality.

    Although modern lifestyles have caused an explosion in stress, depression, anxiety etc it is perhaps unfair to blame this entirely on inequality. It affects the middle classes as well as the lower classes for a start. The middle class American housewife taking antidepressants is a well known stereotype. It is more to do with people being busy and being overly concerned with trying to appear as successful and perfect as people on TV. Social media exacerbated that but it already existed. Films like American Beauty were made explicitly mocking this as modern reality, before the spread of social media.

    Capitalism has empowered even the poor to engage in indulgences that are, by historical standards, excessive. Excessive sugar, excessive entertainment, excessive consumption in general. Using it to feel good is an issue of human nature, not just the additional stresses of inequality.

    I don't mean to support or defend inequality and I don't think it should have been allowed to get to where it is, but trying to blame everything on wealth inequality stops people from actually solving the problems. When you blame everything on something that is inherent to society it makes it seem like you can't do anything about it, which isn't true. Or that to do something about it requires class warfare through some sort of socialist uprising, which isn't true either. Sudden attacks on the wealthy via populist left wingers has almost never had a good impact throughout our history.

  52. Perhaps the first reason that one considers to listen to dr. Yanis Varoufakis is: "he is very, very intelligent person", and knowledgeable, but opponent have far better weapons, e.g., predatory capitalism has it build in…it will drain you dry and skin you to the bone before let you go…

  53. The self-proclaimed marxist wants to reengineer society …
    Sounds great, lets give it a try!
    What possibly could go wrong?
    Oh right, … communism.
    smiles (depression no longer permitted by the state!) –>
    chaos –>

  54. "civilization was all about moving away from brute power", until we arrived at the idea of a free market economy based on voluntary transactions between consenting trading partners, in a global legal environment that guarantees personal freedom and the rule of law. also known as laissez-faire capitalism. the next logical step in the great journey is obviously to give power to politicians to restrict and dictate and regulate the free market, the root of all evils, in order to bring about an imaginary state of perfect economic equality for all. with force if necessary. obviously.

  55. So im less happy for living in the wealthiest country in the world even though our economic setup is what has almost destroyed abject poverty by comparison to what it used to be decades ago. makes sense

  56. The US is the worst of the silliness compared to the rest of the Western Industrialized world. We make up the need for wars to distrait and suppress the majority, going into huge debt, foregoing K-12 education, health care, higher education, infrastructure, and more. If el Trump takes us into war with Iran, you will see resistance in the streets that put WW I and Vietnam protests off into the gutters.

  57. Oh God! XXI Century and we're still listening to this marxist bullshit. Look, the biggest mean of production you can have is your brain.

  58. This is Marxist dribble, yes it has a grain of truth, but a joyless economy ?? Go to a local football match, go to a local nightclub, go to a social group, see if you do not see people enjoying themselves. Has socialism worked so well everywhere, hardly, it does not accommodate human nature and the various differences in Human beings, levels of motivation in particular, also levels of competence, it assumes that hierarchies can be defeated, well that's crap !!

  59. The brute force physical power has simply been replaced by the power of the wealthy elite, not at all different from the jungle. The wealthy elite control everything and if one has no money, one is simply devoured by the elite.

    Nothing has changed.

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