- Capitalism and Alternatives -

Again, who is the plumber exploiting?

Posted by: Nikhil Jaikumar ( DSA, MA, USA ) on November 11, 1999 at 18:01:04:

In Reply to: Maybe they are posted by Stoller on November 11, 1999 at 16:21:09:

: : 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)

: It's tempting to disregard any post that starts out flaming like this...

: But the SUBJECT MATTER is important---and there are other people reading...

sorry, I couldn't resist.

: Nkihil:
: Barry, I haven't read much Marx, but...

: This will become more evident as the debate progresses...

who's flaming now?

: Nikhil:
: 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...

: Nonetheless, if their Communist Party permits exemptions and exceptions to occur a bureaucracy WILL form---eventually.

: The bloody Stalinists had 'millions,' too...

No, but they weren't democratically elected year after year, while teh CPIM are.

I might add, on the subject of the 'bureaucracy'. My grandparents lived down the street from Jyoti Basu, Cheif Minister of Bangla and General Secretary of the CPI-M. They testified that he lived in a very modest house and lived a very frugal and ascetic lifestyle, and also listened closely to what his constituents had to say. The CPI-M essentially changed the laws in the states they ruled to favord workers and especially labor unions over bosses. In Bangla today workers have teh legal right to surround and harass their boss if they are getting unfairly treated- as it should be. So much for the idea that legal refroms can't tip the balance of power.

: Stoller:
: The idea is job rotation.

: Nikhil:
: 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....

: Please see Engels' famous architect / porter paradigm, second paragraph from the end of chapter 7 in Anti-Dühring. Which, BTW, was written very late in his life.

: Job rotation IS a definite feature of Marxism.

Yes, but coercion is not. Marxism is about increasing the feredom and options available to the worker. Are you going to deny that?

: Nikhil:
: 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.

: Replace 'farmer' with 'senator' and say that again.

There is a qualitative difference bewtyeen a farmer and a senator, stemming from the fact that the senator directly affects far more people in far more significant ways than an individual small farmer does. (Yes, I know, we all affect each other, interdependence, etc. But you get my main point.)The senator is directly responsible to the people and accountable to them; that is the essence of government. The farmer is not responsible to anyone in that sense; he is entitled to much more freedom than the senator is. It's quite possible to be a hermit farmer, living self-sufficiently off teh land, or nearly so. Lots of people do it. Lots of peasants thrive outside the cash economy. While the very notion of a hermit senator is a contradiction in terms.

: Stoller:
: 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 socialist 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.

: But YOU are deciding your level of service, Nikhil---NOT SOCIETY AS A WHOLE.

YEs, as it stands in the non-socialist economy, we each decdie our own level of service. I believe that the state shoudl require from everyone a certain minbimum level, but if some people wish to work more, then they should be able to. I am proposing that a certain, fairly low level of community labor be required from everyone. You are also making a suggestion, albeit a different one. Obviosuly society must amke the decsiion, but I can offer my suggestions to 'society' and have them voted on- can't I?

: Nikhil:
: I am in favor of requiring something like 1 day each week of volunteer labor from everyone. (Scientist and writers included).

: Shouldn't those determinations be left to SOCIETY AS A WHOLE?

Yes. Each of us needs to make individual suggestions though, and the people's government can vote on them. I also think that liquor stores should be closed on Sundays- obviously taht decision, too, is up to the state to make. But i can make my suggestions, and if I like, can push vehemently for them to be adopted as state policy. Good God, that's what democracy is all about!

: Stoller:
: 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.

: I think I went over that before. In our economy, there is ALWAYS an employee. Distribution, Nikhil...


: The 'self-employed' is also a statistical minority. No more than 10% in America (Business Week, 28 November 1994, p. 34).

That's my point, Barry! Only 10% of Americans are self-emnployed. And of those , probably only a minority do not employ otehr workers. So why not leave that small minority who are neitehr employees nor bosses to live their own lives? It wouldn't affect the large-scale system whether you did or didn't- but it would mean a lot to those people, tehir happiness and their freedom. But if only 5% of Americans fit into this category, their petty property is NOT going to prevent your utopia from coming about. Thanks for making my point for me.

: Nikhil:
: Those guys are not your enemy, Barry.

: Well... history has shown that the petty proprietor has been (as C. Wright Mills put it) able SHOCK TROOPS in the battle against labor.

They were USED, Barry. The capitalists lied to them and used them by spreading propaganda against socialsim; and they were put off by people like your precious Bolsheviks who said that they could be no part of a socialist state, and that tehy were 'the enemy'. Compare this with a certain Captain Sankara in Burkina Faso who stated unambiguously that all peasant farmers, oppressed women, landless laborers, working class people, unemployed people, petty proprietors, shopkeepers, and compassionately minded intellectuals were 'friedns of the people' and that the socialist revolution was for the benefit of all of them against the bigtime capitalists and the comprador reactionaries. I believe he ws better at getting popular support than the Bolshies were- he was eventually assassinated though but that's another story....

: Think about the peasant's response to the Russian Revolution.

Think about Lenin's slogan: Peace, Land, and Bread.

:Think about American small businesses opposition to health benefits.

Maybe some of those 'small businessmen' aren't so 'small' or innocuosu after all. In which case what I'm saying doesn't apply to them. I specifically said that businesses that employ other people (excepting family members and maybe one or two employees) are not part of my designated 'exception'. My exemption basically stems from the fact that
my socialism has the goal of disestablishing productive property while leaving personal property intact. In these marginal cases, the line between productive and personal property becomes hard to draw. So we should leave some leeway, to make sure that personal property is not being infringed. Once the businesses get a little bigger, hwoever, tehy are clearly soleley productive property and can be legitimately socialized.

: Property owners---whatever the size of their concern---will always be uncertain comrades.

So you only want 'certain comrades'? People who agree with you? Isn't some measure of disagreement healthy?

So what if small business people have at times been hired as 'shock troops' by the Establishment? That doesn't make them immoral, any more than American soldiers who fought in Vietnam were immoral. The immoral people were the ones who sat in the corridors of power plotting tehse schemes. They are the enemy, Barry, not teh soldier and not the plumber.

: When you read more Marx you will see that his ENTIRE SYSTEM is based upon LANDLESS workers who have NOTHING TO LOSE but their chains (labor-power expropriated by the capitalists).

There was communism before Marx, and there was Communism after him. You can agree with some thsing Marx sid and not with everything. Who agrees with everything Newton wrote today, or Darwin?

: I'm sorry, but---again---I assert your communism is a petit-bourgeois one.

: Nikhil:
: ... I just wasted an entire post for nothing. So it goes...

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