- Capitalism and Alternatives -

There is a significant moral and economic and practical differemnce between petty proprietors and real full-blooded capitalists.

Posted by: Nikhil Jaikumar ( DSA, MA, USA ) on January 11, 19100 at 15:32:48:

In Reply to: Capitalism's lunch: the small capitalist posted by Stoller on January 11, 19100 at 10:35:31:

: Now, I'm going to presume that a business man such as yourself knows what RATIONALIZATION is---and how it reduces overhead expenses. Add to rationalization the INCREASED PRODUCTIVITY (read: cheaper production costs per aliquot commodity) of large-scale industry and you must agree that human needs are better met by centralized, large-scale production (more goods per labor-time expended).

: The peasant and the small proprietor, according to Marxist theory, is a superannuated, atavistic form of production that must be swept aside in order to make room for the fully rationalized, high-productiveness that socialism needs in order to satisfy all human needs.

`OK, since you're the expert on Marxist theory, I defer to you on this one. But many socialist and communist regimes (call them marxist or not, as you wish) have taken quite the opposite tack. The Sankara regime in Burkina Faso, and the Sandinistas in Nicaragua, both made ALLIANCES with the petty proprietor, becuase they identified the bigtime capiatlists as their common enemy. Does this not make more sense than trying to "purify" the communist movement by expelling all the petty bourgeois.

The morally detestable actions that we both descpise are more commonly committed by large capitalists than by small proprietors. This is no accident. The large, faceless corporate structure allows people like General Motors to disguise and deny tehir responsibility for teh deaths of innocent victims.

I would hesitate even to call petty proprietors 'capitalist'- many small proprietors have little economic security, relatively low salaries, and actually contribute something of value (engineering expertise, etc.) to the running of the enterprise. They do not ;live off their investments as do the bigtime capitalists. It's true, tehy do take a biggger share of the proceeds of tehir enterprise than they should, in a fair world,. But what they take is often not a whole lot, not remotely co\mparable withteh obsecne sums that CEO's in this country make. (I hate the term CEO, by teh way. It's a military term that implies corporate heads are ,military and respectable, instead of being exploitative leeches.) Example: my cousin is a co-owner of a recently started textile factory in Bangalore. he pays significantly above the industry standard. Until very recently he didn't even have health insurance. I think that petty proprietors should not be seen as the enemy. I think people like my cousin shoudl be alloed to run their businesses as lieutenants of the State, or at least should be fairly compensated when their business is nationalized.

Now, what's my stand on General Motors? You mean the company that willingly chose to let innocent automobile users die so taht they could make more money? Throw the book at 'em. Dispossess them of all their assets. Forbid them from ever running a business again. Let them cool their heels in prison for a while. Blacklist them. And at the end of it all, tell them that it's only socialist mercy that keeps them from hanging from the highest gallows in America.

There is a significant moral and economic and practical differemnce between petty proprietors and real full-blooded capitalists. Last year there was a man who owned a small mining company, who recently had hired a geologist and sent him down to Colombia to investigate mineral deposits. While he was there, he was kidnapped by the MArxist-Leninist FARC rebels, and held for ransom. He was not physically harmed. His family couldn't really afford teh sum, I think. Immediately, the owner of teh company flew down to Colombia, went into the jungle, and spoke with the FARC. He offered to take his employee's place so taht teh geologist could return home in freedom. The owner stayed in the FARC prison for several months, until his friends were able to scrape together enough money to free him. The geologist, as you can imagine, was ecstatic on seeing his employer, saying that the owner had literally saved his life.

Do you really think the owner of GM, or W.R. Grace, or Sbell, would willingly become a hostage to save one of their employees? I don';t think so. Some petty properiteor, at least, are good people ythat we should have on our side as we battle the lareg capitalists.

Follow Ups:

  • Nyet Barry Stoller January 11 19100 (0)

The Debating Room Post a Followup