- Capitalism and Alternatives -

You're arguing in a circle.

Posted by: Nikhil Jaikumar ( DSA, MA, USA ) on January 14, 19100 at 11:09:03:

In Reply to: You conflate social relations with mode of production posted by Stoller on January 13, 19100 at 11:18:54:

Barry, we don't need to meet capitalism head-on, or fight in on its own terms. We can stab it in the ass if need be. We should ally ourselves with anticapitalist forces, even if they seem "reactionary" (e.g. protectionists rather than globalizers).

: : Barry I agree with Lark. Why must the socialist future be built on the basis of the crimes of capitalism? Our goal should be to REVERSE the misery caused by capitalism, not so supercede it.

: You conflate the social relations of capital (hierachy, inequality, alienation, anarchy of the market) with its mode of production (rationalized, centralized, industrialized, abundant).

And you fall for the Marxist myth of inevitable historical progress. Let's look at the example that precedes industry: AGRICULTURE. Humanity went from a hunter-gatherer (H/G) existence to an agricultural one. According to your progressive interpretation of history, this should have marked a step forward in terms of human standards of living; farmers should be better off than HG's, otherwise the agricultural revolution wouldn't ahve happened.

In fact, that's not true; it's a discredited Western myth. Jared Diamond refutes it in his book "The Third Chimpanzee", on several grounds. 1) Agriuculture proceeded across Europe and teh Mideast at a snail's pace. If it was such a good advance, why didn't mroe people adopt it? 2) Human height dropped significantly on the adoption of agriculture, indicating inferior nutrition due to a carbohydrate-based vegetarian diet. 3) Protein and vitamin intake dropped significantly, as we can see from bone and tooth remnants. 4) The world's remaining hunter gatherer societies have little famine and good overall nutrition (in contrast to agricultural societies) and some have higher protein and nurtritional intake than the industrialized West. 5) they wouild likely have even higher standard of living if tehy hadn't been displaced from the most productive lands, and 6) the worl'ds last hunter gatherer societies either continue to resist agriculture or were forced into it by violence or cap[italisation; very few gave up their lifestyle voluntarily.

What agriculture did was a tradeoff; it allowed you to feed many more people per unit area, at the cost of giving each of them a lower level of nutrition. Isn't it better to have a smaller population in the first place, via contraception, and then to feed them as well as possible?
SO let me ask you'; if agriculture marked a step backward in an objective sense, then why couldn't industrial Fordism have been the same kidn of 'mixed blessing'? Perhaps it benefited only the elites, and not the working classes. You fall into the myth of assuming that the working classes' SOL just kept getting better all the time. As a matter of fact, it didn't. The working classes in pre-industrial Africa were better off than those in industrializing Europe; thsi was attested to by numerous eyewitnesses.

: : The reason that cars weren't available to the people before Fordism is because production was Capitalist, not vbecause it was artisan.

: Nonesense. Cars are available to almost all Americans now---and
capitalism is still here, it's Fordism that has since happened.

Wrong comparison. The only way you could show that the deprivation was not due to capitalism is to show an example of a non-capitalist, non-Fordist society and then to demostrate that cars are not widely available.

By the way, cars are NOT 'available to almost all Americans'.

: : Incidentally, did the East Germans and teh Yugoslavs use assembly line labor when they made cars for the people? I have a hard time be;lieveing that they would use dehumanizing Fordism.

: Of course they did. Do you think they made cars by hand?

There is a long way between Fordism and production by hand, and any numebr of inetrmediate forms.

: : Barry, you criticize, quite correctly, teh capiatlist system for dispossessing peasants, driving towards efficiency at all cost, etcetera. But then you argue that we must incorporate such features into the socialist future. No way. Dispossessing peasants is wrong, and good thngs can't be built on the basis of it. Socialism should give the land back to the peasants...

: What a reactionary sentiment, 'give the land back to the peasants.'

If that's reactionary, fine, so be it. I'm a reactionary. I don't believe that the crimes of capitalism are or were historically inevitable. I believe that they should be stopped and where possible reversed. Some people still call me a recationary because I'm in favor of rent control. Progress is what we choose. We don't have to go down any path unless we, the people, choose it in socialist democratic fashion.

If I'm a reactionary, then Daniel Ortega, Namboodiripad, Mugabe, Gandhi, Cardenas, and Sankara were all reactionaires. As a matter of fact, Lazaro Cardenas, the great Mexican leader in the '30s, reversed the policies of the evil Porfirio Diaz and dissolved the big estates, giving the land back to the peasant communes that havd been part of MExican tradiution for years. Was that reactionary? In a sense, because it restored the status quo ante. But it was also a great thing to do. If reactionary means restoring things to teh way they were before the capitalists stole it from teh peopel, then it's a label I'm proud of.

:Only large-scale, mechanized agriculture can feed the world's poor;

Not so. There are PLENTY of poor countries that are self sufficient in food. I don't see them using Fordism (as if assembly line productionw was really applicable to growing wheat anyway). If Guinea Bissau can do it, why can't the rest of us? Anyway, the type of argiculture you support would very likely destroy much of teh natural environm,ent. The problem we have is one of distribution, not production. LEt's first distribute food according to need, not wealth, and then slowly start reducing our population.

: only industrialized high productvity can create the surplus necessary for socialism.

No, peasant socialism has thrived in a number of societies; Nicaragua would still be peasant-scoialist today if it wasn't for American terrorism. You make a big thing out of the fact that most of my examples were eitehr killed or forced to their knees by International Capitalism. But I don't see YOUR model, the Bolshevisk, allive and well today either. If Niocaragua's defeat means that the Ortega-Cardenal model is false, and that as the Spartacists told me once "liberation theology is a lie", then the overturn of Soviet socialism says the same about Leninism. (Let';s abandon any pretence that China is still Marxist). In fact, in neither case does the equation hold true. The collapse of teh USSR is NOT why I believe LEninism is wrong. A good ideology is not rendered bad because its chief sponsor was defeated, nor vice versa. Jesus Christ died on the cross after all, and he was right. If Leninism was right, it remains right even after teh Berlin Wall fell; and if Sandinism is right (as I believe), it remains right even after CIA fascism defeated them. Liberation theology is not a lie.

:You argue for some kind of feudal socialism; if such was possible, then socialism would have sprang FROM feudalism (instead of capitalism). Each mode of production carries the seed of the next---this is the lesson of dialectical materialism you ignore.

You're arguing in a circle. Convince me of the truth of dialectical materialism first, THEN I'll follow you along into its implications. But as my sympathies lie with teh Sandinitas, as opposed to Marxism per se, I have no particular reason to agree with you at this moment in time.

: : You argue that pre-assembly line production allowed goods only for an elite. But if that was so, then capitalism would have decreased inequality, amking the standard of living fro workers better, vbecause now they could afford to buy cheap goods. But that's simply not true. Teh standard of living fro workers was higher in the pre-industrial age, when there was a lot less inequality and a fairer society.

: Arguing for feudalism again? Idealizing the primitive? The standards of living for feudal serfs was MUCH LOWER than the standard of living is for workers in developed capitalist nations. Who are you trying to

See my post above. The myth of historical progress was wrong when it came to agriculture- why may it not be wrong when it comes to industry?

: : If pre-capitalist production only allowed teh needs of the wealthy to be satisfied, while industrial production allowes for mass production (according to you) then teh implication is that inequaity must have been rampant in all pre-capitalist societies. Hwoever, that just isn't true.

: Then the French Revolution must have been about raising hell. Where does your history come from? Feudalism better than capitalism? Are you crazy?

The French REvolution was a philosophical revolution, not an economic one. It was about ovberthrowing a particularly evil manifestation of monarchism and introducing principles of human rights. If you think that the French Revolutiona automatically proves that South Africans, or Congolese, or Indians, or Native Americans, were better off after they were murdered, robbed and ensalved in teh name of 'industrial progress', then I have to ask you what YOU"RE smoking,

(Incidentally, Soviet scholarship nonwithstanding, African production in the pre-industrial era was NOT feudal; it was collectivistic.)

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