- Capitalism and Alternatives -

The self-employed plumber is not your enemy, Barry

Posted by: Nikhil Jaikumar ( DSA, MA, USA ) on November 11, 1999 at 11:41:18:

In Reply to: Barry vs. Nikhil posted by Barry Stoller on November 09, 1999 at 17:11:42:

Well, Barry, I can see that the WAY to get my POINT ACROSS is evidently to USE LOTS and LOTS of CAPITAL LETTERS.....(j/k)

: : Barry, I haven't read much Marx, but from the little I have read, you seem to go, 1) further than Marx, and 2) further than the leading Marxist party today, the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M).

: No, I'd say (unlike so many fair-weather socialists) I do take seriously this idea...

You haven't answered my question. You claim that to be a socialist one must follow your model, but it goes much further than the leading communist party in the world today ever has. Are you denying that the CPIM is communist?If so, I'd say that's pretty silly. I mean, they have popular support numbering in the millions; they currently rule over about 100 million people, and they have a reputation as the most financially, ethically and ideologically honest party in the nation. Even if you don't agree with their prinnciples, ought you not at least to respect them for having been able to go against the popular fashion of the day and show that communism is relevant and that communists can indeed win power and use it to better people's lives. The CPIM, icidentally, is fervently committed to teh electoral process, and is bitterly opposed to militants of both the left and the right, which earned them the hatred of Maoists worldwide.

: : Marx said that his ideal was a society where a man can work a few hours at the factory in the morning, then go fishing, hunt a few ducks, read Plato in the evening, etcetera.

: All I'm doing is taking that idea SERIOUSLY.

: The idea is job rotation.

No, not exactly. Marx didn't say that the factory worker be REQUIRED to do any of these things. Even if some measure of job rotation was required, Marx certainly wasn't saying that the worker do all these things one day, then teh next day he do another bunch of three-hour shifts inb entirely different jobs, et cetera....The reason I don't argue mroe forcefully against your idea of job rottaion is, 1) because I agree with it to a limited extent, and 2) because in your formulation, it frankly baffles me. How many different 'jobs' exist in society? Is the job of 'bus driver' different from 'truck driver', or can one guy, by fuflifiling his bus driving shift, also fulfil hsi train driving shift? Is every worker going to work at every single job in society? If so, I bet that he could do each job only about once a year, or at most once every few months. How long are teh workers going to be trained fro each job? Is the training going to be worth it? Suppose a guy is allergic to detergents? Does he still have to work in a laundry? Suppose a guy doesn't believe in driving cars. Does he still ahve to work as a mechanic? Is tehre any room for job specialization? At all? IS every guy going to be a mechanic on tuesday, a cook on Wednesday, an atomic scientist on Thrusday, a carpenter on Friday....

If you want the idea to be put into pracxtice, you are going to have to confront these dieas someday. Funny, i always though Marxism (and Comnmunism) were about freeing workers from bondage, giving them teh freedom to work in a manner that THEY chose and that THEY found fulfilling. But in your world, would a man who, let's say, wants to be a farmer, knwos lots about farming, loves the life of a small farmer, going to be required to spend only 1 day a month on teh farm> Will eh ahve to work at jobs he doesn't liek for teh other 29 days? that doesn't sound like a happy life to me, Barry. Communism is of valeu because it makes the most destitute live more prosperous, happy and fulfilling lives. But if you force them to work at what they consider drudgery, they ain't gonna be happy. If I was them, I woudl see my new situation as no better than before. That's not Communism, Barry. I don't knwo what to call it, but it's not communism. Communism is not about drudgery, or tedium, or being forced to work at some job day after day, or being prevented from doing the job you love. When you call it that, you sully the name of communism.

: If there were 'some professions' exempt, then hierarchy, privilege, and abuse of power would occur afresh. If someone ONLY does the science, then it follows that somebody else must take up the slack in dish-washing, sewer-work, farming, etc. I don't plan to be that person in YOUR socialistt utopia, Nikhil...

Ah yes, ad hominems, the all-purpose tool for winning an argument....Barry, if I was opposed to dishwashing I wouldn't have volunteered to wash dishes at a homeless shelter. If I was opposed to toilet work, i wouldn't have gotten a part-time job last year cleaning toilets. if I thought I was too good for carpentry wok, I wouldn't ahve volunteered to work for Habitat for Humanity 30 hourrs a week.

As for farming, most farmers don't seem to find it 'unrewarding drudgery'', especially in the US. One of the basic things wrong with teh capitalist system is that it forces farmers to stop farming by dispossessing their land, encouraging cash crops instead of food crops, and all the rest of it. I'm all in favor of extensive farm subsidies as well as food subsidies for urban dwellers. Most farmers in, say, Nicaragua would probably not like it if they were forced to work at some random urban job for 29 days and tehn farm fro only 1 day. Who are you, or who am I, to tell them that they have to work 29 days a week soing something tehy don't like?

I am in favor of requiring something like 1 day each week of volunteer labor from everyone. (Scientist and writers included). But 4 days a month is a far cry from 29 days a month. And if you don't believe taht quantitatibve differnces add up to qualitative ones, then think about what makes an 8-hour day different from a 16-hour day. There are real differences. that's what the labor-led struggle for an 8 horu day was all about. Do you believe that wasn't important?

: BTW, the (original) Bolsheviks took job rotation seriously, too. See Bukharin & Preobrahensky's A B C of Communism (Party Program of 1919) which Lenin ENDORSED at the 8th All-Russia Congress of Soviets (1921), speech published in Selected Works volume 3, International 1975, pp. 437-63.

So? Maybe the Nicaraguans did things differently. Why should I believe teh Bolsheviks over the Sandinistas? Especially since the Bolsheviks were also anti-clerical to a fault,a s compared with Cardenal in Nicaragau? If it's a good idea, I'll accept it, but i don't care if it was said by teh Bolsheviks por whoever the f---else.

: Such an egalitarian idea was why Stalin had all the (original) Bolsheviks SHOT!

: You have stated that you're a student of the 'hard' sciences AND that you'd like to write a book.

: Funny how YOUR socialist utopia has certain exemptions for those TWO 'occupations.'

Goive me a break, Barry! Your cheap ad hominems are making me laugh? YI'm sure you ahve better grounds for disagreeing with me tahn this. As a matter of fact,if you read my post again, you woudl see, I talked about "peasant farmers, hermits, small self-employed people, small farmers and others who do not employ/exploit others...." Example: if a plumber works for himself, and doesn't hire anyone else, and is not in turn hired by a boss, then I think he should be left alone, because I don't see that he's exploiting anyone. And if you added up all the plumbers, hot dog salesmen, small farmers, carpenters, mechanics, and all the other SELF EMPLOYED people who DO NOT EMPLOY OTHERS, then that wouldn't make a fucking dent in the American property system. Those guys are not your enemy, Barry. Your enemy, and mine, are the big-time capitalists, those who are trying to crush the small, individualistic petty proprietor (to borrow a phrase from you). If we nationalized the bigtime capitalists, and left the petty proprietors alone, they would be but a drop of private enterprise in a socialist ocean? Why get rid of teat drop[? Let's have that drop of private ownership for variety's sake, and to give those people, who might be unhappy working for others, a break. Isn't it a bit arrogant to say that thsoe self-employed people are exploiting themselves/ kind of like saying that suicide is murder, you know?

: Am I to believe that if you were studying, say, LAW, your socialist utopia would NOT have certain exemptions for LAWYERS?

Hello! My utopia DOESN'T ahve an exception for ME. I just said that everyone should be required to work 1 day per week for the common good., That includes me. But i am NOT going to telkl them what to do the other six days. As from 'private control', all I said was taht scientists should eb free from control by the government or private enterprise. How is thatany different from basic freedom of thought?

: (Thomas More wouldn't like that---on the other hand, HIS utopia had SLAVES!)

Yes, and so, I believe, did Kim Il Sung's....

: What I see is that you envision a socialist utopia in which ALL the advantages the BOURGEOIS WORLD grants you NOW will be TRANSFERED.

barry, if you can't see teh differences by now then I just wasted an entire post for nothing. So it goes....

: Other points at a later time.

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