- Capitalism and Alternatives -

Responding to a rather dull post

Posted by: Barry Stoller on December 15, 1999 at 21:18:28:

In Reply to: Waterlogged dead hands. posted by MDG on December 15, 1999 at 16:47:33:

: I agree that there are naturally occurring schedules of reinforcement, and residual ones stemming from human activity.

'Residual'? Like methods of payment is a minor thing?

Interesting. Earlier in your post, you impugned materialism, now you admit to having an expensive hobby.

: So now you're my shrink? I thought we were analyzing socialism.

YOU brought it up.


When everyone decides WHAT sort of commodities and services are desired (instead of having the 'profit motive' of a minority decide such matters), many negative qualities regarding (unskilled) work will be effaced. Example: does the majority of people desire owning individual automobiles enough to spend a constituent amount of their own time working in a car factory to make cars available for everyone? If so, the work performed will be tangible goods that society clearly wants.

What about the desires of the minority? I'm a scuba diver. The gear I really want costs far more than I can afford. But how many other people dive? Will there be enough people working in the diving gear factory to make it for ourselves?

And I answered you:

A truly democratic (socialist) society will decide collectively what its labor priorities are. Unlike THIS (capitalist) society where immiserated proletarians crank out vast piles of luxuries they will never enjoy for the 'liberty-loving' bourgeoisie and their boot-licking labor aristocrats to enjoy.

If enough people want something (in a collective economy), then the level of productivity will exist to met those demands; if there are not enough people, then the level of productivity will be too low to sustain the demand.

Consider how the organic composition of capital ('capital' being investment in a socialist economy) determines productivity. If a 1000 people want to spend their free time making scuba gear, great (that's unalienated labor)---but they will also have to spend some of their free time getting the raw materials and making the machines that make the scuba gear. Since the abolition of alienated labor, there will no longer be wage-slaves who 'just happen' to do these tasks in the first place.

So, to answer your question directly (and I believe in being direct, as you no doubt noticed), a lot of luxuries would probably get nixed in a collective economy. On the other hand, you wouldn't be compelled to print the collected works of Lenin for me if the majority of NONALIENATED workers said to hell with that!


: Since you bring it up: I do reject materialist, i.e., a preoccupation with material things rather than intellectual or spiritual matters. This does not mean I reject earthly pleasures... And on a further personal note, diving to me is a deeply spiritual activity, especially at night, when one is enveloped by the warm ocean, drifting past murky coral formations, and occasionally glimpsing the glow of a phosphorescent critter. You ought to try it sometime, Barry -- it's awe inspiring.

Let me get this straight: you reject 'materialism' in favor of the 'intellectual or spiritual.' There's a big distinction for you on that point---eh?. As it turns out (proving Marx was correct when he posited that the mode of production determines the level of consciousness), some material things are necessary for you to get 'spiritual.'

Now, some fat cat capitalist will tell you (seriously) that HE needs a 40-room mansion with a view of the Pacific ocean crammed full of 17th century furniture to get 'spiritual.'

The only difference is that you can justify YOUR possessions while you may reject his.

MY point is that SOCIETY AS A WHOLE should make these determinations.

: Who's to say that if we voted in socialism, the Frenchy Gort Cruels wouldn't weigh their options and decide to accept it, perhaps with the goal of changing things over time via democratic means?

Have you taken to drink also?

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