- Capitalism and Alternatives -

You're dealing off the bottom of the deck

Posted by: Stoller on December 20, 1999 at 20:44:07:

In Reply to: What do you hold greater? freedom or equality? posted by Niblet the Space Chicken on December 20, 1999 at 15:37:29:

: The biggest issue that needs to be decided with any social system is what is to be held to be most important - freedom or equality, for surely to hold one higher is to degrade the other.

You speak of freedom as if it has a uniform, absolute quality. As I explained here, that is a mistaken assumption. When 'freedom' is defended in capitalist society, 'freedom' means the freedom for a minority of capitalists to monopolize the means of production; which means that those who do NOT have direct access to those means of production (the great majority of workers) are 'free' only to accept whatever deal the capitalists offer---or starve.

: The higher the freedom in a particular system, the less equal there will be (depending on what gauge you measure equality - money, intellegence, physical attributes). Example - two people pursue the same role in society (which they are completely free to do), but due to some personal attribute one of them is better at that role, and as a result that person is held in higher esteem and may even recieve greater rewards than the other (they are not treated equally because one is better at their job than another).

You make the error of positing that two people 'are completely free' to 'pursue the same role in society.' That is a NUMERICAL IMPOSSIBILITY. The entire edifice of social relations under the capitalist regime is predicated upon a FEW bosses and A LOT of workers. If everyone was 'equally capable' of being a boss, and became one, capitalism could not function; capitalism MUST HAVE wage-laborers.

It is evident that capitalism CANNOT PERMIT equality of opportunity. For example, 75% of American jobs require no education above a high school level (1); consequently, only 25% can afford college tuition.(2) Coincidence---or social engineering?

: Equality, if that is the goal of the society, reduces freedom.

Only the 'freedom' of the capitalist minority to exploit the majority of workers.

: Also, if the roles are not assigned with care, genius for a paricular role can be crushed under the weight of performing a task which that individual is not suited.

That is MY complaint with capitalism! 'Roles' under the 'free market' ARE NOT 'assigned with care.' Indeed, to keep productivity sky-high, skills are RATIONED---by the anarchy of the market, no less. Thus 'genius for a paricular role' IS 'crushed under the weight of performing a task which that individual is not suited' EVERYDAY.


1. Business Week, 1 September 1997, p. 67.

2. Statistical Abstract of the United States 1996, table 243, p. 160.

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