- Capitalism and Alternatives -

I would be willing to dig ditches, build houses, and clean bathrooms again

Posted by: Nikhil Jaikumar ( DSA, MA, USA ) on December 20, 1999 at 20:41:46:

In Reply to: ...with good reason posted by Stoller on December 20, 1999 at 18:02:07:

: This is where you go wrong. To promise 'voluntary work' or to expect it is utterly utopian. As this debate board AMPLY DEMONSTRATES, some people will 'voluntarily' do ALL the skilled work and 'voluntarily' leave all the shit work for someone else.

Yeah right Barry. i really appreciate that after having called for some form of corvee, I'm now branded as a devious shirker. I've cleaned bathrooms before; I've done volunteer work in building low-income housing; I've dug ditches and worked in fast food. I would be willing to dig ditches, build houses, and clean bathrooms again (as for the fast food, I think outfits like that should be done away with). But let's not pretend that my contribution to conwtructing the house was of teh same order as that of teh professional carpenter who was supervising me. And likewise, while everyone can be trained in basic medical care (the 'barefoot doctor' model), not everyone is going to be equally qualified to be a brain surgeon. Frankly, I wouldn't WANT to be a brain surgeon. I would probably do a lousy job and accidentally kill a few patients. So who would really be served by teaching me to be a brain surgeon at massive expense? No one.
Volunteer labor is something whose potential cannot be overestimated. The railroads in Burkina Faso were built with voluntary labor under the communist Sankara regime.

: What I'm concerned with is that NO ONE should porter 'for the day.'

What ARE the specifics of your plan? Suppose someone WANTS to paint houses, are you going to tell them not to? How much free time are you going to allow, Barry? I hope you're not planning to go beyond teh 40 hour workweek.

: : I for one would refuse to take a turn in the abatoir...

: I'm sure you would. And so would Lark, and so would MDG, and so would...

Let me ask you a question Barry. Let's say a Hindu refuses to work in an abbatoir for religious reasons. He's willing to do some other shift, but not the slaughterhouse. Would you force him to work tehre? If so, you're interfering with his relationship to his God, which is unforgivable in my book. Just as I would not force a conscientous obejctor to fight, I wouldn't force a Hindu to work in a slaughterhouse.

: Stoller:
: No, my misinformed friend, the SOCIAL DIVISION OF LABOR is what's anti-humanistic.

: : Why? Socially divided labour still retains the fullness of human engagement with life-activity, a professional porter - such as worked at our college halls - is a multi-facetted and skilled task, that engages mind and spirit, particularly if the subject is willing [dream on]. To rotate jobs is to replicate the fractioning of the human spirit of productive division of labour. Not everyone can be a doctor.

: Arguing against detail divison in the shop to argue FOR the 'productive' social division of labor is opportunism and elitism, RD. I'm ashamed of you. Under the axiom 'not everyone can be a doctor' falls the understanding that MANY PEOPLE become (only) housewives, janitors, cashiers, etc., etc. You entertain the notion that someone will be a 'career' porter (like at your college) because portering is a 'multi-facetted and skilled task.' That is reprehensible! Please stop calling yourself a Marxist in public!

Here's a flat-out question. CAN everyone be a doctor? Does everyone WANT to? SHOULD everyone? WHO would be helped by making everyone a part-time brain surgeon?

: Stoller:
: Without job rotation, specialized elites will form (such as 'representatives').

: : Only if you have political structures that allow them: but if we break the link between work and income, then professionalisation would not matter.

: Heard that one from the CP before, no thanks. One guy gets $10 an hour to program computers, another guy gets $10 an hour to mop floors? Fuck that, pal.

So the CP isn't communist now? I see.

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