- Capitalism and Alternatives -

More for RD

Posted by: Barry Stoller on January 15, 19100 at 11:47:57:

In Reply to: For Barry... posted by Red Deathy on January 14, 19100 at 15:39:06:

I'm consolidating your three posts into one.

: Morris' argument does not conflict with Marx's, he states that eventually, in our abundance, we would return to craft production as a form of luxury that we can afford. Remember, Morris independently developed his own model of dialectic, in which future developments would contains recovered elements of past epochs.

Yes, Morris developed 'his own model of dialectic.' I insist it's not Marxist.

Think about Morris' claim in News From Nowhere: '[T]his is not an age of inventions' (Penguin Classics, p. 192). Could anything be further from the progressive spirit of Marxism?

: After capitalism, something new will develop, and while the de-specialisation of capitalism is a necessary stage, as per morris, socialism will allow us to return to something entirely old and new.

Let's see Marx or Engels specifically say that artisan production will return after the proletariat 'organized as the ruling class... increase[s] the total of productive forces as rapidly as possible' (Communist Manifesto, International 1948, p. 30). Really, let's see it. Me thinks that quote might also be more than a 100 miles away...

It is clear that up to now the forces of production have never been developed to the point where enough could be produced for all, and that private property has become a fetter and a barrier in relation to the further development of the forces of production. Now, however, the development of big industry has ushered in a new period. Capital and the forces of production have been expanded to an unprecedented extent, and the means are at hand to multiply them without limit in the near future.(1)

Engels doesn't mention getting rid of the mode of production of capital, or bringing back artisan crafts---he says get rid of the social relations of capital. This is reinforced by Marx's clear criticisms of Proudhon (who might as well be Morris).

: Fordism is the industrial process of saving labour time, at the expense of quality, industrialism simply is the application of machinery to production - without the logic of capital behind industry, it need not take a Fordist approach - hence I was assuming my shoe-workshop to be highly automated, with people using the machines on an ad-hoc basis.

I disagree. I think the whole atomization of tasks (and skill) that mechanized production is characterized by leads logically to assembly-line production. Marx: '[T]he productive power of labor is increased above all by a greater division of labor and by a more general introduction and constant improvement of machinery' ('Wage-Labor and Capital,' Wage-Labor and Capital & Value, Price and Profit, International 1933, pp. 40-41). Recall chapter 32 of Capital: individual private property (artisanship) is transformed into capitalistic private property (monopoly centralization) which is then transformed into socialized property---does not the mode of production remain as before, with only the social relations changing?

As far as 'ad hoc' mechanized production goes, recall Engels' reasoning regarding 'the authority of the steam, which cares nothing for individual autonomy' (On Authority,' Marx and Engels'Basic Writings on Politics and Philosophy, Anchor 1959, p. 483). All mechanization requires centralization and discipline. You're letting Morris' fairy-tales obscure your Marxism here.

: I am not rejecting the industrial revolution, at all, I think its a splendid thing, in part, as per morris' argument, though, once we have gone through it, we may well wish to purchase back some of the wealth we have sacrificed in terms of job satisfaction and personal esteem - artisanship is a luxury. I am not *advocating* a return to such, I simply note morris' logic as to how such might occur, if he is right that personal labour is more pleasurable...

I'm confused by that statement, Bill. 'Once we have gone through' the industrial revolution? Is that possible? Industrialization is the BASIS of socialism's abundance. How could we 'go through' it, returning to artisanship? Please explain THAT to me, that's where I don't follow you...

Moving on to other issues...

: The dictatorship of the proletariat is simply the class rule of the working class, i.e. democracy, and it will last for the five minutes of the revolution (or will we force capitalists to buy shares at gun-point?) It does not mean party rule, or subservience to any form of state.


Between capitalist and communist society lies the period of the revolutionary transformation of the one into the other. There corresponds to this also a political transition period in which the state can be nothing but the revolutionary dictatorship of the proletariat.(2)

Will that be only 5 minutes? Let's check in with Engels now:

Of late, the Social-Democratic philistine has once more been filled with wholesome terror at the words: Dictatorship of the Proletariat. Well and good, gentlemen, do you want to know what this dictatorship looks like? Look at the Paris Commune. That was the Dictatorship of the Proletariat.(3)

Hardly 5 minutes was the Paris Commune...

And, finally, let's wrap up your perverse defense of the social division of labor, 'geographic' or otherwise...

Stoller: If artisanship is really the answer, Bill, how come socialism didn't emerge out of feudalism? You are forgetting the ABCs of dialectical materialism...

: I thinking you are mistaking my argument - artisanship is not 'the answer', it may well be the product. Socialism couldn't arise from feudalism, because it would require abundance to create socialism - 0nce we have that abundance, we can abolish the working class once and for all.

But once we have socialism, can we abolish the industrialization that created abundance?---that's the issue. To return to artisanship would be to roll back industrialization---and, with it, it's natural preconditions of division of labor in manufacture, assembly-lines, mechanized labor, etc., etc. You seem to think that industrial abundance will perpetuate itself, without human labor; that's utopian, in my opinion.

Because I envision a need to retain to the division of labor in manufacture in order to keep abundance, I propose the abolition of the social division of labor in order to equitably distribute both skilled and unskilled work.

: Cobblers, even skilled work involves boring repetition to some degree, and some people on super-market checkouts are skilled labour- Staff at Aldi memorize prices, rather than scan, and hence get £7 an hour. Sewing is a skilled activity, as is weaving, and I'll bet both can be cripplingly dull. Skill is not index of pleasure in a task. Being enslaved into doing any job is wrong.

Agreed---which makes your stubborn defense of the social division of labor perverse and unMarxist:

The existence of classes originated in the division of labor, and the division of labor as it has been known up to the present will completely disappear.(4)

It should be clear that Engels is referring to the social division of labor here... classes preceding capitalism (and with it, the division of labor in manufacture) and all...

He continues:

The form of the division of labor which makes one a peasant, another a cobbler, a third a factory worker, a fourth a stock-market operator has already been undermined by machinery and will completely disappear. Education will enable young people quickly to familiarize themselves with the whole system of production and to pass from one branch of production to another in response to the needs of society or their own inclinations. It will therefore free them from the one-sided character which the present-day division of labor impresses upon every individual.(5)

Quite clearly, he is referring to abolishing the social division of labor---they very thing you advocate as a 'geographic' necessity.

You defend the idea of a career porter in contradistinction to this explicit statement:

[I]n time to come there will no longer be any professional porters or architects, and that the man who for half an hour gives instructions as an architect will also push a barrow for a period, until his activity as an architect is once again required. It is a fine sort of socialism which perpetuates the professional porter!(6)

And this:

What characterizes the division of labor inside modern society is that it engenders specialized functions, specialists, and craft-idiocy.(7)

You waffle when I present these quotes to you---yet you also defend the social division of labor. Your stance is inconsistent. Because the social division of labor, as Engels put it, CREATED CLASSES your defense of it is also suspect.

: [I]f someone finds portering to be a pleasant job, who am I to stop them doing it? No-one would be forced to porter, if they did not please to do so.

And if EVERYONE rejected the porter's job but still wanted portering done, then it will have to be assigned, won't it?

Equally assigned, I believe, is the consistent Marxist take on the issue.

You've seen my quotes to defend my position.

Now let's see yours.


1. Engels, Principles of Communism, Monthly Review 1952, p. 13, emphasis added.

2. Marx, Critique of the Gotha Program, International 1938, p. 18, emphasis added.

3. Engels, Introduction to Marx's The Civil War in France, International 1940, p. 22.

4. Engels, Principles of Communism, Monthly Review 1952, p. 17.

5. Ibid.

6. Engels, Herr Eugen Dühring's Revolution in Science, International 1935, pp. 228-9.

7. Marx, The Poverty of Philosophy, International n.d., p. 121.

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