- Capitalism and Alternatives -

That's a little better, Chuck

Posted by: MDG on December 13, 1999 at 17:23:42:

In Reply to: MDG's Gliberal piffle in Dodge city posted by Chuck on December 11, 1999 at 21:22:31:

: MDG: Anyway, I've got news for you: as Lark pointed out in another post, you'll never get rid of all inequality. You'll never have perfection. From one wage slave to another, you'd better face the facts that human existence will be wrought with inequality and brutality and all those other things people deplore. The best we can do is minimize, as much as possible, the bad.

: MDG: Stating the facts of the situation is not the same as declaring one's support for those facts. Right now it's raining and cold outside; I don't like it, but them's the facts. I hope you see the difference.

: Chuck: What a dodge! You didn't just say 'inequality' exists, you said INEQUALITY WILL ALWAYS EXIST! Look REAL HARD at your first paragraph on this page. Please remember, 'inequality' means the existence of social classes to Marxists. What evidence do you have for the permanence of social classes?

Okay Chuck, if you could manage to restrain the sarcasm, as you've pretty much done here, we can get somewhere. You actually explained some Marxist philosophy. Thank you. So far on this board, when I've asked a question of Marxists, I've only been met with scorn, rather than information. I have no evidence that there will always be social classes, if by that you mean poor, middle class, and rich. However, I think there will always be those in power, and I think power corrupts, and so I think there will always be inequality.

:(I smell a lame 'human nature' argument brewing).

I don't think it's lame to suggest that human beings are not perfect creatures, that our history shows us a inclined to violence and inequality, and that our history depicts a constant struggle against those tendencies. Unless human beings morph into another species, why should we expect the future to be any different from the past?

:And your last sentence in the same paragraph is an out of hand dismissal of socialist revolution - sounds like more LIBERAL PREACHING to me.

Call it what you will. I've never considered myself a liberal, merely a leftist and a green. Please don't jump on the bandwagon some here have tried to get rolling; others have labelled me a liberal, for purposes known only to themselves.

:You don't like inequality but you only want to "minimize" it? Sounds like tacit support to me. And who said anything about 'perfection'?

Wrong. I'd love to see inequality disappear altogether. I'd love to see greed and violence and lying and envy and cruelty, and all the other negative traits of humanity, disappear in their entirety. Since I don't think that will happen, I want to see all those bad things minimized as much as is HUMANLY possible.

: : : Chuck: I'm talking about the abolition of social classes. Marx and Lenin were very clear about 'inequality' and how it will remain for some time as a defect AFTER CAPITALISM IS OVERTHROWN (i.e. the first stage of communism). Consider Marx in the "Critique of the Gotha Programme":
: : :
: : : But one man is superior to another physically or mentally
: : : and so supplies more labor in the same time, or can labor
: : : for a longer time; and labor, to serve as a measure, must
: : : be defined by its duration and intensity, otherwise it
: : : ceases to be a standard of measurement. This EQUAL
: : : right is an unequal right for unequal labor. It recog-
: : : nises no class differences, because everyone is a
: : : worker like everyone else; but it tacitly recognises
: : : unequal individual endowment and thus productive
: : : capacity as natural priveleges .... with an equal
: : : output, and hence an equal share in the social con-
: : : sumption fund, one will in fact receive more than
: : : another, one will be richer than another, and so
: : : on. To avoid these defects, right, instead of being
: : : equal, would have to be unequal. (International
: : : Publishers, p.8, 1986)

Would you mind explaining that?

: : : Or consider Lenin in "State and Revolution":

: : : ... the mere conversion of the means of production
: : : into the common property of the whole of society
: : : ("Socialism" in the generally accepted sense of the
: : : word) DOES NOT REMOVE the defects of distribution
: : : and inequality of "bourgeois right" which CONTINUE
: : : TO RULE as long as the products are divided "accor-
: : : ding to work performed." .... We cannot imagine that,
: : : having overthrown capitalism, people will at once
: : : learn to work for society WITHOUT ANY STANDARD OF
: : : RIGHT; indeed, the abolition of capitalism DOES NOT
: : : IMMEDIATELY LAY the economic foundations for SUCH a
: : : change. (International Publishers, pp.77-8, 1985)

That passage was a little clearer. Does Lenin envision changing human nature itself, then? Little children have an inherent sense of "fairness;" it's fascinating to watch them sort things out among each other. I think if you asked a child (or the grown-up version), if one man works harder than another, shouldn't he be given more reward, the child/adult would say yes. Do you disagree with this and if so, why?

: Chuck: So your suggestion that Marxists are utopians when it comes to inequality has no merit.

Okay. Thank you for educating me on that point.

: MDG: Being rather blissfully ignorant of Marxist theory, I'm sure I never said that Marxists were utopians with regard to inequality. Now, allow me to educate you with a superior form of Marxism:

: Chuck: I said you 'suggested' it. When you said: "you'll never get rid of all inequality .... you'd better face the facts that human existence will be wrought with inequality ..." you unknowingly (or knowingly) threw the revolutionary Marxist project out the window - i.e. you dissmissed communism as an impossibility.

My only point here is that while one may devise a perfect economic system on paper, I have grave doubts about it actually working out as planned in practice. However, I'm open to experimentation; given that capitalism has failed, I've long believed it would be good to give communism a chance (and fuck Stalin for killing it in the USSR).

Follow Ups:

The Debating Room Post a Followup