- Capitalism and Alternatives -

Ayn Rand got a lot of her 'facts' from Everest

Posted by: Barry Stoller on November 17, 1999 at 19:10:43:

In Reply to: From you? Oh goodie! more on Rand posted by Gee on November 17, 1999 at 10:13:53:

: The quite embarrassing snobbery the self appointed university 'intellectual' elite, and your own denigration (paperback? ooh, stings!, she should have written in hardbacks only - that's much classier) aside...

No, Rand's 'scholarship' earns denigration.

In her review of John Rawls' Theory of Justice ( 'An Untitled Letter,' Philosophy: Who Needs it [1973], Signet 1984, p. 109), she admitted that she didn't read A WORD OF IT---and then proceeded to review the book based on a review of it.

That's the sort of 'scholarship' that gets a big, fat F on any campus.

Other points:

: To accept this is also to accept equal income as arbitrary.

As I argued here, unequal pay (whether Soviet-style or capitalist) is ALSO arbitrary. After all, the worker has no real control over his / her productivity---since that productivity is largely contingent upon the tools and machinery that the worker uses. And the bosses provide the tools and machinery.

: People don't 'deserve' to get run over, but people who choose to do nothing are not to expect a living provided for them by others - that's all I read into it. Itís little different from your socialist assertion that those who don't work with socialism get nothing from society.

Check in here, here, and here to see the bankruptcy of the 'we get what we deserve' capitalist ideology demolished.

Socialism---as you correctly observed---has nothing to do with granting anyone a free ride. It posits that those who don't work will not eat---which is the SAME idea here in capitalist society except for the exemptions granted to capitalists, their trophy wives, and their heirs.

: In its principle true [that 'all trade is voluntary therefore equitable'] - but we know its quite complex really - choice between alternatives is a driver, but the point is that such choice is not someone's obligation to provide you.

Binswanger and his Randian voodoo economic henchmen are absolutely out to lunch when they assert that 'all trade is voluntary therefore equitable.'

Listen up:

They never address the concept of socially-necessary labor time.

Indeed, It's obvious they NEVER READ Marx's intricate discussion of it in Capital. Maybe they read a REVIEW of it, eh?

Put simply:

Socially-necessary labor time is the average time required to produce a commodity.

A nation with obsolete technology must sell the goods it produces for the same general price that a nation with the most up-to-date technology uses. If a country using obsolete technology can produce, say, only one computer per hour, it must price that computer comparably to the computers produced in the country that can produce, say, ten an hour. No customer will buy a computer ten times the price of other (comparable) computers simply because it took ten times as long to produce.

In the sales room, the market will only acknowledge six minutes as the socially-necessary time to produce a computer.

The disparity of labor-time between countries will likely occur in many other industries as well, and the technology that makes computers will, in general, reflect this disparity.

Using computer manufacture as a general example, the technologically underdeveloped nation manufacturing and selling commodities must, in order to be competitive, surrender 54 minutes of labor-time EACH time they trade with nations that are more technologically developed. If six of the developed country's labor minutes is worth an hour of the less-developed country's labor, each hour of labor that the technologically developed nation trades with the technologically underdeveloped nation requires the latter to pay the former nine extra hours in order to avoid a trade deficit.

Of course, the technologically developed nation does not want to trade efficient labor-time for less efficient labor-time---they will accept raw materials instead of computers. In this way, value is exchanged between nations, perhaps voluntarily (eat or starve is a 'personal' choice), but NOT equitably.*

And we see how trade inequities perpetuate trade inequities.

All Rand et. al. do is provide a flimsy screen to block the obvious ADVANTAGE Western nations already have---and will CONTINUE to have.

Moving on...

I said---way back when: 'Only individual self-interest motivates superior performance' and you ask 'What else does?'

You're right. I've shed my intentional community hippie ideology since then.

Nevertheless Rand deserves censure for eliding the 'freedom to, freedom from' distinction. Ignoring that the interests of the minority who own all the means of production might be significantly different from those who ONLY own their labor-power (which they must sell piecemeal to survive), she posits a generic, uniform 'self- interest.'

Socialism IS self-interest for those who have no access to the means of production.

: You'd think universities, where the derision for any non-left figure of history you expressed above is seen as being strongest, would be the last place for objectivist to go party!

Ever heard of Yale?

And what backwater did Qualye attend?

The all universities are 'liberal' thesis is crap.

And so is Rand.


* See Marx, Capital, International 1967, volume 1, pp. 559-60 and volume 3, p. 238 for further exegesis.

Follow Ups:

  • McGuru Dr. Cruel November 19 1999 (3)
    • McPropaganda Samuel Day Fassbinder Citizens for Mustard Greens USA November 21 1999 (1)
      • DING! Dr. Cruel November 24 1999 (0)
    • Apt Stoller November 19 1999 (0)

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