- Capitalism and Alternatives -

My responses are threefold.

Posted by: Nikhil Jaikumar ( DSA, MA, USA ) on December 21, 1999 at 11:07:48:

In Reply to: MDG: liberal Clark Kent looking for a phonebooth? posted by Stoller on December 21, 1999 at 00:00:10:

: Your good intentions are good---but they are also CHARITABLE. I am interested in a society where everyone HELPS THEMSELVES instead of waiting for liberals (who enjoy some of capitalist society, while impugning the rest) to 'help' them like parents.

Stoller, first of all, thanks for acknowledging our good intentions. (I don't consider myslef a liberal, but I know that you imnclude me under that rubric). Now let me say that I understand your viewpoint that holds charity to be in some way patronizing. I don't see it that way, of course, but I know that many people do. LEt me just say that personally, I don't consider myself superior to anyone in the world, except maybe a few individuals (child murderers, etc.)

If I understand you correctly, you say that in the perfect society, charity will be unnecessary, because if everyone works for themselves, given a societal structure that preserves equality, everyone will have an adequate standar of livving anyway.

My responses are threefold. First of all, I don't know if that system is desirable. A world in which everyone acts out of self interest, frankly, is not one in which I would like to live. Without charity, what becomes of friendship and love? If there is no room for helping each other, what does friendship mean? It's not for nothing that the same Third Theological Virtue is sometimes called 'charity' and sometimes 'love'.

Secondly, even if desirable, is your self-iinterested utopia acheivable? There will ALWAYS be people who suffer (temporarily if not permanently, victimized by circumstances if not by economic injustice. Even in the wealth (United Sttaes, people die from disease, natural disasters, etc.) There weill always be a need for charity, and self interest is not going to cut it. The only thing that can consistently keep teh strong from usurping wealth and power is a strong ethic of altruism. Why do you think that the Pygmies never developed any form of hierarchy? I think it was largely because of tehir religious and cultural values. Thirdly, even if it is desirable and acheivable, it's not the state in which we currently find ourselves. Given that, what is teh best thing for the fortunate and the privileged among us to take? To blithely wait for teh revolution that's always 'just around teh corner'? Or to take the revolution as it comes, but in teh meantime, to do teh ebst we can to help those who have been less fortunate?

I'm sorry, Barry, but I am not convinced that the ethic of altruism can or should eb given up. Self interest would lead to a very, very bad world indeed.

And by the way, although I think it's ridiculous to call you a fascist - ANY of us is mroe of a fascist than you are- I still disagree with you on some things. One of them is this with us / against us dichotomy. Not everyone must be either a fan of laissez-faire capitalist tyranny or Stollerist socialism (mandatory job rotation, fully scoilaized labor, and the like). You have said in thr past, when peopel disagreed with you, "Well, then, I suppose you like X" and proceed to launch a very accurate and devastating critique of capitalsim.But that';s not the point. There is all the world of difference between right-wing capiatlism and yoru mdoel, and as such there is a whole world of space for soemone who agrees with neitehr to put down his bucket. I disagree with many features of your utopia, though of course I dislike capitalism more. That doesn't make me a capitalist. Many people might disagree with you, Barry, including communists and socialists. But that doesn't make them capitalists, any mroe than your disagreeing with me gives me the right to call you a stalinist.

: Don't you get it?

: P.S. As far as 'blathering on a electronic chatboard' goes---why is it OK for YOU to do so, but it's somehow NOT OK for me?

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