- Capitalism and Alternatives -

Charity exists even in the harshest of circumstances.

Posted by: Nikhil Jaikumar ( DSA, MA, USA ) on December 22, 1999 at 15:48:00:

In Reply to: A Reply posted by Stoller on December 21, 1999 at 23:03:12:

: As a behaviorist as well as a Marxist, I believe that 'charity' FOR THE MOST PART only occurs in settings conducive to giving freely.

Not necessarily. Charity exists even in the harshest of circumstances. Self interest, on the otehr hand, seems ironically to flourish most among the wealthiest people in the wealthiest countries in the world.
Look at poor peasants in India or Laos giving money to begging monks, or impoverished villagers in nortehrn Cameroon taking care of refugees from Chad. Etcetera...

: Charity---even amongst the most caring of individuals---is sharply curtailed by, say, unemployment.

No, charity had decreased recently in spite of the "growing" economy. (Of course, the new jobs that Clinton loves to talk about are primarily shit jobs in the service industries.)

: IN THE CAPITALIST REGIME, I believe people act primarily out of self-interest.

Yes, but that's a cultural indocrtination, not a part of human nature.

:I do not suggest to the proletariat socialism through sacrifice; the average working person has NO ABILITY to sacrifice ANYTHING.

YEs. But what about the privileged class? It's ponly logical that in order for the poor to have more, the privileged class must sacrifice much of what they have. And I contend that merely taking this by force is a t best a temporary, messy and ultimately futile way to rememdy the situation. Expropriation MUST be accompanied by an attempt to inculcate an ethic of altruism and sacrifice, otherwise an elite class may eventually re-emerge.

:What I propose instead is that socialism is a GOOD DEAL for working people, to IMPROVE their lives.

Yes, but in order to make teh strong accede to it, you need to change their hearts, and so you need to teach them about the importance of self-sacrifice.

: : 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.

: Marx made it clear that some of socialist society's produce will need to go into a 'reserve or insurance fund to provide against misadventure, disturbances through natural events, etc.'(1) Lenin, going over those same words, added 'from the means of consumption must be deducted a fund for administrative expensives, for schools, hospitals, old people's homes, and so on.'(2) For example, the Bolsheviks---once in power---permitted paid maternity leaves OVER FOUR MONTHS LONG, something no 'advanced' capitalist is willing to do 70 years later.(3)

Suppose you ahve limited resources, and suppose teh state can't afford to pay everyone- or suppose they do, but the afflicted people would still like more? There will still be room for charity.

: : 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 to that I say that 'altruism' can only be encouraged by SOCIALISM.


: : 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.

: I strongly believe that reformist and centrist tendencies ultimately support capitalism.

But what happens if the reformists 'reform' capitalism so much that it's no longer recognizable as capitalism>? At what point does it stop being capitalism and become social democracy?

: Although I would enter into specified coalitions with such groups to struggle against capital, I reserve the right to criticise them as I see fit. That way the record is straight when such reformists and centrist later BETRAY the workers---and communists such as I remain willing to further the proletarian revolution without such groups.*

I guess you ahve a point, biut I wish you didn't sue loaded terms such as 'betray'. I doubt taht most 'reformists' are looking to eventually dupe and screw the worlkers. I'm certainly not.

: _______________

: Notes:

: 1. Marx, Critique of the Gotha Programme, International 1938, p. 7.

: 2. Lenin, 'The State and Revolution,' Selected Works volume two, International 1975, p. 304.

: 3. Bukharin & Preobrazhensky, The A B C of Communism, University if Michigan Press 1967, p. 354.

: * See Trotsky's 'On the United Front,' The First Five Years of the Communist International volume two, Pioneer Press 1953, pp. 91-109 for more details.

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