- Capitalism and Alternatives -

Please, guys, it breaks my heart to see socialists arguing.

Posted by: Nikhil Jaikumar ( DSA, MA, USA ) on December 12, 1999 at 17:24:04:

In Reply to: Here's a problem (or two) for Lark posted by Barry Stoller on December 11, 1999 at 21:26:06:

Please, guys, it breaks my heart to see socialists arguing. I think tehre's too much mudslining going on here. I'm going to wade in and suggest some of my own ideas, so I'm sure tehre's going to n=be more mud slung, but what the hell....

: 1. Lark believes that the socialist revolution is made by individuals, not parties.

Well, I think it CAN be made by parties, but just as often it's made by unorganzied people coming together in solidarity.

: 2. Lark claims the working class, due to it's 'anti-intellectualism and fascistic behavior,' is not capable of initiating the socialist revolution.

: 3. Lark questions whether or not 'freedom fighters' even need politics (ideology).

: 4. Lark refutes the existence of a proletariat class as well as a bourgeois class, claiming instead that the 'socilaists/liberal/anarchists/communists/environmentalists/etc.' will face off against everyone who 'oppose[s]' them.

I agree. You can have reactionary working class people, and you can have bosses who believe in socialist ideology (e.g. Don Pepe Figueres).

: 5. Lark has taken a stand AGAINST what he calls 'absolute' equality, arguing instead for the Rawlsian conception of justice in which 'the distribution of wealth and income need not be equal.'(1)

You pulled that out of context. Rawls advocates whatever society maximizes the standard of living of teh most destitute. In my opinion, that's another way or ruling out any inequalities other than those which are absolutely necessary to boost social production to teh point where the poor get more. In other words, just enough to get peopel to produce more, and nothing above that limit. that means no capitalist ownership, no luxuries whatsoever, no privilege. For my part, I regard socialism as whatever acheives the best deal for teh most destitute- and that woudl be what Rawls describes. I don't see how you,a s a Marxist, can stand for anyything otherthan teh best imaginable deal for the working class.

: 6. Indeed, Lark confirms this premise and has come out into the open so far as to say: '[C]omplete freedom of income isn't my dream.'

: So---UNEVEN incomes is part of Lark's 'socialism.'

This is what I believe about incomes;

1)First of all, incomes should be ENTIRELY discretionary, i.e. used for nonessentialls. ALL essentials (food, shelter, health care, education, some leisure time, etc.) should eb separate from ability to pay. You should be able to live a decent life without making any money whatsoever.
2) People can be paid SLIGHTLY unequal incomes, but this should eb based on how much you contribute to society, not on how effectivbely you can finagle the workers. Inequalities should be small, and to some extent could be based pon the old Soviet model of paying people according to how amny peopel depended on them. In other words, a truck driver should get paid a lot because people depend on them for their vegetables in the morning, and lots of people would be up shit creek if the truck driver didn't deliver.

(Barry, if you like divining my hidden motives- two of my friends' fathers are truck drivers.)

3) People who have done a lot for social betterment should, if they want, be rewarded by slightly higher incomes. For ecxample, i think Daniel Ortega deserves a good pension, don't you?

4)Small farmers, scientists, artists, plumbers, and other self-employed people should be able to operate (if they want) in a private market, but should also be given the opportunity to receive state sponsorhip. This freedom from social ownership is necessary because many of these people are loners, who like to work on their own, or just rely too much on specialization or creativity to rotate their jobs daily among a large collective.
5) Everyone shoudl be required to work at janitorial work, house building, road repair, etcetera for at least 8 hours a week. Such labor need not be paid, it shoudl be donated to society.
6) as a result of 5), some very unpleasant jobs such as cleaning bathrooms, digging ditches, etc. would be done away with as lifetime careers.
7) The bigtime capitalists, our common enemy, must be opposed.

: 7. Agreeing that job rotation would be beneficial, Lark nonetheless would subordinate that program (as explicated here) to something he calls 'liberty in the workplace.'

See above. I think this is what lark means.

: 8. When I questioned what 'liberty in the workplace' means, Lark described it as people 'performing DIFFERENT tasks,' insisting that 'taking an interest in DIFFERENT tasks is not the same as establishing a hierarchy with status and authority.'

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