- Capitalism and Alternatives -

I doubt that.

Posted by: Nikhil JAikumar ( DSA, MA, USA ) on January 10, 19100 at 10:25:08:

In Reply to: Corvee is slavery posted by Gee on December 29, 1999 at 14:43:10:

: : Not so; slavery implies 1) that you have no control over what you do for teh majority of the time,

: No it doesnt - there are no time barriers between slavery/non slavery. its either/or.

I doubt that. The Africans who were captured and brought over to America often were expecetd to donate a certain amount of labor to the chief of tehior village. In fact, the same system persists today in much of West Africa. Are they really slaves? Do you really want to suggest that they were no worse off spending their lives cutting cotton and being flogged to death than they were in their home villages?

: : 2) that you are working for the benefit of others and not yourself, and

: Thats the intent of any 'corvee'. Something whihc benefits 'society' means it benefits individuals in it, not equally, not all of them.

As a member of society, you benefit from the work that you do for society asa whole. If you think forced labor is slavery, then how do you explain that slavery is illegal under human rights law today, while forced labor (with certain limitations) is legal?

: 3) that you were not "compelled" to work as a result of your own actions. (e.g., hard labor for criminals is not unjust because they've committed specific actions to merit the punishment.)

: The corvee merely criminalises prior innocent people in order to 'justify' its force. "they are implicitly denying soem of teh goods of society to others, and are thus harming equality" For instance.

That type of argument reminds me of someone who onbce said that the reason marijuana was criminalized in the US was to keep down the black man. In both cases, I'm a bit skeptical. I doubt that MJ was abolished strictly out of racism, and I know that I'm not instituting this notion of economic crimes merely to hurt innocent people. In both cases, the behavior is declared criminal before the fact, so you can't regard it as discriminatory; if peopel choose not to commit the behavior, they won't be punished. As Gilles Perrault said, ea bourgeois stripped of his poesesessions is no longer a bourgeois.,

: Sidestepping doesnt avoid the paralell with any kind of slavery as defined in history. It does create classes too - those forced to labor under the 'corvee' and those in receipt of the work (see your #2 above)

No, because teh net effect is to reduce everyone to nearly the same level, not to broaden social differentiation.

: : Yes, tax is force; on the otehr hand, how teh hell do you think existing property relations are defended? Behind every 'NO TRESPASSING' sign is teh implied threat of guns and prisons. The implied threat that, as the old song says, "Anybody caught trespassing will be shot on sight."

: I have always wanted a socialist to have the honesty to admit that they simply want other fingers on the triggers, but that the principle of results by force will be extended.

Good point. But it doesn't render your own argument any stronger, in fact it weakens it. If you concede that property laws are based on the threat of implied force, then you can no longer criticize the force implicit in state socialism.

: : Perhaps a better examp[le, free of the idea of 'scale', is teh following; light is a wave, and a particle, but not both at the same time.

: Therefore non-contradictory. Only if it were two things of distinct identity at the same time would it be a contraditction. Lets wait on what physicists do to unify these theories before suggesting contradiction.

It is both 'at the same time', in the sense that it appears to change its nature omn teh basis of which experiment you choose to do; which is clearly a logical impossibility. Science has learned to live with minor contradiction.

: : I disagree. You do not have the right to abandon your child;

: I said abdicate - there was no 'right' invoked by the parent - they merely ran for it. hence I tend to agree with you on this.


: : caring for teh poor is not a 'chosen' obligation; it's simply an obligation.

: By what standard? and if said carers chose not to? what then?

Well, like you just said, parents have no right to abandon tehir child, so let's reason analogously...

: : REally? I suspected you would quote Ben Franklin's contemptuous dismissal pf those who woudl trade 'security' for freedom.

: I like the quotation - but a man may submit himself as a slave for a little comfort, as long as he does not submit his unwilling neighbour to the same fate (by a majority vote for instance)

: : Well, I don't know. I defined freedom as the achievement of a self-defined fulfilling life, and I think that grape pickers and sweatshop workers, by and large, aren't living what tehy would consider a fulflilling life.

: And the effort which needs to be coerced out of others in order to relieve the grape pickers may make those others lives' not what you would "consider a fulflilling life. "

No, because no one will fall below teh level of teh grape pickers. We're going to narrow teh range of inequality, not reverse it.

: :Rawls, the great theorist on freedom and equality, states that freedom can be infringed if the infringement leads to a greater increase of freedom somewhere else.

: Very utilitarian. Would you trust your neighbour to decide you fate thusly?

No, because we are trading freedom for freedom, not for 'utility'. Hence it is not utiliatrian. Rawls preserevs two great principles, freedom and equality, which are incommensurable with each other and are both superior to any idea of utility.

: : Therefore, a mild abridgment of freedom

: is the wedge that defines the principle that such freedom only exists if 'allowed' by whomever holds the power. It is not 'free', it is different scales of unfreedom.

By that logic no one is ever fere, because we all have obligations...

: : First, I would suggest that the migrant workers' penury is, indeed, caused by otehr people;

: You would need to show this as their culpibility in migrants migrating in the first place, as well as all other factors of their poverty. can you really draw a causal relationship?

I think correlations can be drawn between poverty and inequality.

: : Because if you have a supply of medicines or food, etc., and you must decide how to distribute it, you must decide on some system for allocation; shall it be by need, by money, by age, by loyalty, etc. In this way a talent fro making mnoney is incompatible with doing what is best for the poor

: Youre forgetting that the talents for making medicine are also to be taken into account - the choices those makers wish to excercise in distributing their own produce. Thats too easily forgotten - and its the key.

But is it so unlikely that a socialist state could have a good medical industry? What about Cuba or Scandinavia?

: : Look at GM's calculated decsiion to allow people who drive its cars to die in fires;

: Every car manufacturer would therefore be 'guilty' whenever it produces a car *without* EVERY single latest safety design. Wanna buy a compact for $100k? I agree with you on GM, but whatch how its interpreted. Is GM a case of willful fraud or disregard? Probably. Is Toyotas decision not to have side impact bars on one new model the same? No - that was to make it affordable to its buyers - sure you could force them - and they'd sell no cars at all, people would have no private transport, misery, backwards move, etc etc. (and besides - do 'public' transport have *every* safety feature?)

GM made a calculated decision to accept a few deaths, they decided it was better that peopel should die than that tehy should lose money. I can't think of anything more atrocious.

: The absolute welath in society is not what we should look at, rather the wealth of the least well off class. They are the only class whose prosperity we ought to make our guiding line.

: Using that logic - if every nation on earth was like Ghana is now, but one nation was like ethiopia in 1985 - then the Ghanaians should be made to suffer?

The increase in suffering for teh 'rest of teh world', in raising the standard of living of ONE country, woudl be marginal.

: : But unless people are exposed to different viewpoints, I don't see the point of saying that they are free. Teh end result is teh same. People must eb informed, ergo educated, to be really free.

: Again - at the cost of doing so, and of people who want to do something else with their own lives rather than met endless obligations.

Even if they do lose a bit of freedom, the gain for teh destitute mroe than counterbalances it.

: : In the case of right wing terrorists, I think that specific actiosn such as bombing hospitals and raping children would clearly reduce their claim to any rights or consideration.

: Same with those left wing terrorists who murdered German bank chief years ago then?

YEs, I don't much approve of teh Baader Meinhof gang either, but bear in mind that there are differences bewteen semi-judicial assassinations, which punish specific peopel for specofoc crimes committed, and the kind of random, fear-spawning targeting of civilians that right wing movements seem to prefer. Though the VietCong did engage in teh latter, for exampel, most fo tehir killings tended to be of the former variety. Assassination and terrorism, although they're both generally bad, are not morally equivalent; teh latter is much worse.

: : Although to be frank, if it comes to making a choice between who si to get scarce medications, jsut being a Nazi would put someone pretty far down on my list.....

: Right - so you can appreciate the problem - you discriminate personally between the people (inc yourself) who would receive your effort.

Follow Ups:

  • I don't Gee si January 10 19100 (0)

The Debating Room Post a Followup