- Capitalism and Alternatives -

You just deleted all my data!

Posted by: Nikhil Jaikumar ( DSA, MA, USA ) on January 15, 19100 at 11:48:45:

In Reply to: No, I'm not; your history is wrong posted by Stoller on January 14, 19100 at 20:29:23:

First of all, Barry, you deleted the important part of my post; the part where I offer evidence that teh agricultural revolution marked a step backwards in terms of average health standards. Why is that? I, like everyone else, can only argue about things that I know a little about. I know very little about the russian revolution and its history, so if you've noticed, I never have said bad things about Lenin- I simply don't know enough to confirm or deny. When I try to talk about something that I do know a little bit about, if only from having read a very interesting book, you didn't even respond. How come?

: Wrong. The petty proprietors and peasants---as a class---cannot initiate a developed, abundant socialism without the leadership of the proletariat---because petty proprietors and peasants cling to individual private ownership of the means of production (a predicate OF capitalism). Fighting capital 'on its own terms,' as you call it, is actually the private property 'socialism' you endorse. Revolution is NEVER on capital's 'own terms.'

When I say "fighting capital on its own terms", I mean using the same industrial and centralized structures that capitalism established. Traditional societies (soem collectivist, some not) deserve our support in their battle against the capitalist. Tell me, Barry, when logging companies force the tribal Penan in malaysia out of their land, which side are you on? Do you think that they ought to be forcibly dispossessed and forced to give up their traditional HG lifestyle, and become squalid wage slaves? Or do you uphold their right to live in the amnner they desire? I know which side I support. The Penan deserve their land, and the freedom to choose how to live; so do the San, teh Pygmies, and anyone else whose freedom and rights were stolen by capitalism. I want to return them their rights. I want to take things back to teh status quo ante. I'm not going to say "Capitalism stole your rights, now we'll take over, but your stolen rights are still not going to be restored." If capitalism was wrong to do something, shouldn't we try to rectify and undo the damage that they did?

: : 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.

: True.

False! What the hell! You just deleted the evidence that i supplied! That was a rhetorical question, dammit. Now you made me look like a fool for asking a question that proves your point. I wish you'd at least left my arguments intact, in which I tried to show that the agricultural revolution was NOT an adbvance.

: Surplus only came into existence when agriculture supplanted the Hunter / gatherer mode of production.

No. Remembr Marshall Sahlins' phrase "the original affluent society" used to describe the hunter gatherer lifestyle. The San of southern Africa worked only 3 hours a day to procure shelter, food, birth control herbs, water, etc. The rest of teh time was theirs to do as they wished. Their population was kept under control by herbs which had contraceptive properties. Their diet gave them 93 grams of protein daily, more than in the modern West, and adequate calories and vitamins. The San continued with this lifestyle, resisting the pressure to convert to agriculture, until the Boers and British forced them off their land. If agriculture was such an advance, don't you think that they would have adopted it more willingly?

:Surplus, in its turn, revolutionized society, producing culture---and your beloved religion.

False yet again. Religion was prevalent in all hunetr gatherer societies, perhaps mroe so than in the agricultural ones. Colin Turnbull describes the religion of the Pygmies as all-encompassing, governing every aspects of social relations.

:Now, obviously, this limited surplus wasn't enough for all members of society (the mode of production being too primitive), so surplus was appropriated by a minority...

You keep saying this, but Jared Diamond proves that the model of progress is flat WRONG when it comes to the agricultural revolution, and plenty of people from the African explorers to Kosambi to William Blake show that it's equally WRONG when it comes to the industrial revoilution. (It may be true under certain circumstances, but not everywhere and always.)

: The whole Marxian paradigm, to make a long story short, is that industrialization has made it possible for surplus to be abundant, abundant enough for all members of society---once the (capitalist) social relations that oppilate industrialization's productive potential are swept aside and new (socialist) social relations are installed. THE MODE OF PRODUCTION STAYS THE SAME. Therefore, your desire to return to a preindustrial mode of production (peasant subsistence farming) is a move backward (hence reactionary).

Well, given that you didn't address Jared Diamond's points, I have no especial reason to believe that being a "reactionary" (your definition) is such a bad thing.

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

: Wrong again. According to Jane Holtz Kay's Asphalt Nation (University of California Press 1997, p. 22) only 9% of Americans have no cars (and 2% are in prison).

Fordism (the sweatshop mode of production) is alive and well in Saipan, isn't it- and how many people THERE have cars?

: Stoller: 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.

: The crime of capitalism is not its mode of production; its crime is its social relations.

The crime of capitalism (among many others) is the fact that it forcibly deprived people of their human rights, tehir free choice of lifestyle, and their land. I don't care whether you describe that as A or B; it's still wrong and evil.

: The U.S.S.R. proved peasant socialism doesn't work! The insurmountable hardships of installing socialism in a nation not satisfactorily developed by capital for abundance to be produced is the primary reason the 1917 revolution failed.

Fine. But come on, if teh Soviet experiment was doomed from teh beginning then how come it took seven decades to collapse? Don't you think that if they'd done things better at a few critica;l junctures they might still be around today?

:Maybe you should stop taunting the Sparts and engage them in some discussions about dialectical materialism sometime...

Why? What I'veheard from them doesn't convince me. Maybe you can convince me. But so far you haven't.

: Stoller: 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.

: Your history is perverse. You cite the Sandistas as some kind of proof that peasant socialism works. They don't even exist.

Yeah? Where are YOUR models? THEY don't exist either. Lenin statues are in ruins. Trotsky died with an ice axe in his brain. The Bolshevik Revolution fell to a bunch of fascist oligarchs. If success or failure in this world determines truth and morality, then neither the Bolsheviks nor the Sandinistas were right. Of course, following that lie of reasoning leads to a 'might is right' slippery slope. Teh Sanidinstas were right in spite of being defeated. If you like, you can make the case that the Bolsheviks were right in spite of being defeated. Success or defeat is no guarantee of correctness. Jesus Christ died on teh cross, but he was right.

Follow Ups:

The Debating Room Post a Followup