- Capitalism and Alternatives -

Yes it does; and it FLOURISHES in even better circumstances

Posted by: Stoller on December 22, 1999 at 18:59:02:

In Reply to: Charity exists even in the harshest of circumstances. posted by Nikhil Jaikumar on December 22, 1999 at 15:48:00:

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

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.)

Your second sentence deconstructs your first. Since the 1970s, the middle-class has been reduced and the working class has been squeezed. Concurrently, the 'Great Society' tradition has faltered. 'Reagan democrats' would have never existed had the economy not been slipping for almost a decade. I maintain that charity has decreased (in the U.S.) as the economy soured (for most people).

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 never said it was. I don't BELIEVE in 'human nature' (too much like religion).

Stoller: 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?

The privileged class will always reject and resist socialism.

: It's ponly logical that in order for the poor to have more, the privileged class must sacrifice much of what they have.

Certainly they must surrender the means of production.

: Expropriation MUST be accompanied by an attempt to inculcate an ethic of altruism and sacrifice, otherwise an elite class may eventually re-emerge.

The 'ethic of altruism and sacrifice.'

You know, I have nothing against that, Nikhil.

My stubborness only arises from my strong belief that an 'ethic of altruism and sacrifice' can ONLY occur after capitalist social relations are overthrown. After the revolution, I would certainly hope that people---no longer forced into jobs they hate; no longer suffering basic privations---would be feeling much more 'ethical' and 'charitable.' Seems altogether likely.

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.

Here's where we part ways.

'The strong' will NEVER surrender the means of production (and all the power that comes from that).

NOTHING will 'change their hearts' and make them VOLUNTARILY give up their privilege and hegemony.

The 'teaching' you advocate CANNOT occur under the hegemony of the capitalist; after all, they CONTROL education (and everything else).

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.' 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.' 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.

: 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.

A really impoverished nation cannot sustain socialism. There may be charity, but if the industrial abundance isn't there, the socialist state will eventually collapse.

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.

: Maybe.

I like that 'maybe'! We're moving forward.

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?

Examples of that might be...?

: At what point does it stop being capitalism and become social democracy?

Mixed economies? Market socialism? The trend of such models is an ever rightward march into the hands of capital again.

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.

Of course you're not.

But clinging to capital, hoping it can be 'tamed,' promoting pacifism, and legitimizing mixed economies can ONLY work AGAINST communism.

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