- Capitalism and Alternatives -

Calhoun & Hardin

Posted by: bill on November 22, 1999 at 10:39:12:

In Reply to: er... posted by Samuel Day Fassbinder on November 19, 1999 at 10:24:28:

: : bill:
: : Too simplistic. Everybody wants a "BETTER" anything. You have to show whyproduction lines of inequality should be halted. Are you going to appeal to "efficiency"?

: SDF: Society will be better for all in terms of the real security that will be provided for all, and the satisfaction in human relationships all will experience under socialism (not to mention the increases in material prosperity that will be made available for the first time to most of humanity), when capitalist competition is no longer the driving force of their lives.

: : This "capitalism creates its own gravediggers" notion, though, appears to me to be completely unproven.

: : bill:
: : No. In the sense that "class war" and dialectics is not completely proven.

: SDF: Let me be more clear about this, and perhaps hedge on it and rewrite it a bit. It is clear that capitalism will provide the means of its own undoing -- this will occur, however, not through any inherent tendency of capitalism to create socialists as proclaimed by cheerleaders of the "coming revolution" (which I hoped unsuccessfully to discuss HERE), but rather through the tragedy of the commons, that capitalist competition practically requires social destruction of the resource base, toward the chronic creation of crises of overproduction, in the name of capitalist competition.

I meant to reply to your previous postings of Craig Calhoun's analysis. It is indeed provocative. I don't know enough about Marxian theory to understand:

1. How class consciousness evolves.
2. How it becomes transformed from a collection of individuals wanting a larger slice of fetish pie to a collective redetermination of pie values - a necessity for a socialist consciousnrss.

(I do feel that alienation plays a role - but it must be perceived as alienation - in the sense that one does not "feel" poor or exploited unless or until he/she becomes conscious of alternatives)

Is there a good book on the psycho/social conditions attending the rise of historical mass movements?

: I have always asserted that capitalism will have an endpoint somewhen down the line, but that it is difficult to see from here what will replace it, and that it is not clear that there will be any socialists at all to see the last days of the global capitalist system. The whole thing could just collapse of its own accord, and be replaced by feudalism once more, fascism perhaps, or maybe just chaos. Capitalism may die and there might be nobody around to dig its grave.

: We can always hope otherwise -- but retreat into fantasies isn't an appropriate use of utopianism.

I generally agree - so long as they represent a "retreat".

I have a bit of a problem with Garrett Hardin. It is his socio-biology (which might be a surprise - coming fom me). It's a little...well too vulgarly Darwinian.

Aside from the questionable mechanical inheritance pattern of multiple child production - there is the whole matter of a seeming biological premise as represented by:

"What is the utility to me of adding one more animal to my herd?"

But for those who have argued against my "fairness" gene on the basis of cultural patterning - why does not this same criticism apply here?

Why couldn't the sentance just as easily read:

"What is the utility to me of adding one more animal to OUR herd?"


I remember your posting about the fate of Easter Island - the presumed loss of timber to religious practice. In this case the destruction of their world would not have been due to individual self-interest - but to collective stupidity.

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