- Capitalism and Alternatives -


Posted by: Stoller on December 12, 1999 at 17:27:36:

In Reply to: Marxism and Spiritualithy posted by Bernard Flapdoodle on December 11, 1999 at 21:36:08:

: Finally, a defendable (but I think crude) analysis of Marx would allow one to put him in the same cycle of consumption that is ruining the planet. That is, Marx thought the workers should get more--a bigger slice of the pie, more salary, more things. That is, the workers should have the same rights of consumption that the bourgeoisie has. A program of LESS consumption all around was never even on Marx's radar screen, but we all know that's what we need, together with a RADICAL change in WHAT we consume and HOW we consume it. (Example, we have to get rid of all these damn cows. We probably have to all become vegetarians. Marx never said that but lots of people know it's true.)

I think you miss a bit of Marx here.

Marx was interested in production for HUMAN NEED in contradistinction to production for PROFIT.

This is not simply a quantitative difference, it is a qualitative one.

Although Marx, as you said, only mentioned environmental issues peripherally (it accompanied his critique of U.S. slavery, did you know?), I believe the ENTIRE Marxian construct IS ecologically rational.

: Many books and articles have been written on synthesizing Marx and Skinner, the father of Behaviorism. Skinner's views on the "empty vessel" (or "tabula rasa"--"blank slate") view of human beings ran so deep that he even said that our capacity for language was a learned skill. Marx said this as well, conflating language acquisition with society. Both Marx and Skinner wrong. All human beings learn language and speak it in creative ways every day. The capacity for language acquisition, therefore, goes beyond what Marx imagined. Speaking a natural aspect of what it means to be human, just like having arms and legs instead of wings and beaks.

Marx and Skinner---and you can add Wittgenstein to your 'wrong' list---merely pointed out that language was contingent upon social CONTEXT. And the 'creative way' that language is enlarged 'every day' occurs in social settings.

: But the point is we're nowhere near the point of PRODUCTION. That's been moved to Malaysia, Thailand, China. There's almost nothing we can do because, really, the corporations don't need us to do anything except BUY what the wage slaves MADE. What the hell can we do, go on strike?

: That's where the class analysis comes in, and is Karl Marx's singular contribution to philosophy. We as First Worlders are quickly becoming simple consumers; it's the people in the Third World who are making everything--our shirts, our toys, even our high-tech equipment. We just have to sit back and buy it like good little consumers.

Not quite ONLY consumers.

We First Worlders are also working---but in the circulation sphere. As I pointed out here, one of the primary distinctions between 'working class' and 'middle class' can be seen as the divide between laboring in the production sphere and the circulation sphere. AND because---as Marx explicitly pointed out---the circulation sphere does not actually CREATE any added value to the commodity of the production process, the 'middle class' laborers in the circulation sphere can only add to the strain of surplus appropriation of the (production) laborers who, in fact, do create value.

Nice post. Don't be a stranger.

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