- Capitalism and Alternatives -

Stuart's understudy?

Posted by: Barry Stoller on December 07, 1999 at 21:47:01:

In Reply to: rosy histories posted by Gee on December 07, 1999 at 11:07:41:

Answering for Stuart, Gee has some things hed like to say. . .

: To bring in Rand yet again, I believe she did say that an inventor of the caliber of Edison could not have been rich enough even as a billionaire compared to the wealth he created. That those as he, and those who invented and organized the necessary production of goods are mankind's greatest benefactors.

What a shame. Instead of actually READING Capital, Gee has opted instead to read paperback novels and economic comic books. Yes, the Prometheus thesis again and again: capitalists are the fire-creating gods that no one---*sniff*---appreciates. HOGWASH. Capitalists can only 'create' fire when some low-wage workers are compelled---by lack of property in the means of production---to rub the sticks together for them! And for the 'favor' of 'creating' this fire, the capitalists will then 'share' a WHOLE fraction of what the workers did! Wow. What a bargain.

Moving on to other, equally silly points. . .

People have been motivated to 'create businesses and even whole industries' long before businesses and industries (as we know them now) existed. Labor has been collectivized since the beginning of human relations.

: Are you suggesting some 'righteous' socialist ethic in operation in precapitalist societies? I would sooner suggest the relative bleakness and harshness of life is an encouragement to be productive too - as can be fear of tribal overlords and your local Baron.

Gee suspects that I am 'suggesting some "righteous" socialist ethic in precapitalist societies,' but he is reading his own prejudices into socialism (again). His prejudice is that socialism must be spontaneously voluntary---or nought. This, not surprisingly, is a handy straw man to defeat with the tired human nature thesis.

However, all I said was: Labor has been collectivized since the beginning of human relations. There is nothing 'righteous' or 'ethical' about collectivized work. People (even savages) have done it ONLY because it is MORE EFFICIENT than individual, atomized labor.

: I contend [prerecorded collectivized labor] is was never a rosy socialist paradise, nor that the motivations were what you would call 'noble'.

Where, pray tell, did I use the word NOBLE? Or ROSY? All I said was that hierarchy and property relations---as discovered by Morgan (and subsequently corroborated a thousandfold since his time)---have NOT ALWAYS characterized relations between people.

You assert that the 'profit motive' is the creator of wealth (like so many other pro-capitalists). Then why the EMPLOYEES, Stuart? And do not those employees who receive no 'profit motive' CREATE MUCH WEALTH (for their bosses)?

: This is probably better worded as 'gain motive' rather than something so specific as profit. In this light you can consider the motivation of millionaires and paupers alike.

Changing 'profit' to 'gain' is hardly a breakthrough. Lumping the 'motivation' of millionaires and paupers so cavalierly is intellectual violence or bankruptcy---or both. Their 'motivations' are NOT AT ALL the same.

Millionaires---to borrow the terminology of behaviorist B.F. Skinner---are 'motivated' by POSITIVE reinforcement (millions), specifically variable-ratio schedules (characterized by frequent responses). Paupers, on the other hand, are 'motivated' by AVERSIVE reinforcement (hunger), specifically fixed-interval schedules (characterized by infrequent responses). (For more information, see Ferster & Skinner, Schedules of Reinforcement, Appleton-Century-Crofts 1957.) I'd say there was a world of difference in their 'motivations.'

Inventors are almost never those who profit from inventions.

: Except for Dyson (vacuums), The fellow who invented clockwork radios, the fellow who invented rubiks cubes (remember them!), and more 'exceptions' minor and major than can properly be called exceptions.

Oh, wow, am I impressed. Three whole examples. Who invented the military-industrial complex? Better still: who PAID for the military-industrial complex?

Which leads us to Gee's most incoherent statement OF ALL TIME . . .

Plus, as Marx observed: 'Science, generally speaking, costs the capitalist nothing, a fact that by no means hinders him from exploiting it. The science of others is as much annexed by capital as the labor of others.' Think of the incredible amount of industry R & D that is SUBSIDIZED by taxpayers. . .

: Given that capital pays all taxes how is the capitalist incurring costs of 'almost nothing'?

That's right, folks---Gee stated: capital pays all taxes.

Is this EVIDENCE that Gee has NEVER seen a paycheck in his life?

I throw the rest of such a silly post into the trash.

Stuart, of course, can do much better himself.

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