- Capitalism and Alternatives -

A lesson in thedialectic of historical materialism

Posted by: Barry Stoller on January 16, 19100 at 01:44:09:

In Reply to: You just deleted all my data! posted by Nikhil Jaikumar on January 15, 19100 at 11:48:45:

: 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?

Because yours is a foolish argument; the proof to support my claim is apodictic.

Compare the native Americans' (HG) mode of production with that of feudal Europe. Sure, the Native Americans worked less hours, sure they lived 'collectively' (within some definite hierarchal circumscriptions)---but that mode of production did not create enough SURPLUS to engender or support the next historical step, which was the agricultural revolution.

Am I defending this mode of production and social relations? Only in that agricultural advances were necessary to create the surplus necessary to engender the NEXT historical step, capitalism.

What---am I defending capitalism?

Yes, over feudalism. And feudalism over 'primitive' HG society.


Because only industrialization (which arose from capialism but IS NOT capitalism) laid the material foundation for socialism---i.e. modern socialism.

To want to reverse all this history and cozy up with some preindustrial fantasy is to deny REALITY. Your 'socialism' of individual private property wants time to reverse, NJ. That's not possible.

You think that individual private property is the highest form of social equality. Maybe it was---but capital nonetheless came along and transferred that individual private property into capitalistic private property (i.e. socialized production, but controlled by a minority). That's a fact. Because the primitive societies you idealize did not create surplus, they could not defend themselves from capital (for a host of reasons). That's another fact.

Now, the dialectic of historical materialism posits that capitalistic private property---like individual private property before it---is a STAGE in the development of man's economic relations.

Capitalistic private property---centralized, rationalized, abundant (but usurped by a minority)---engenders the NEXT stage of economic developement, the next form of property: centralized, rationalized, abundant property BUT FULLY SOCIALIZED in its property relations.

Capitalistic production is ALREADY socialized, it's the property relations that are not. And that is what communism aims to change.

What's progessive about capital, however, is that it centralizes the means of production---the means of production that it transformed from individual (peasant) property into abundant production through the exponential technical advancements of the industrial revolution (controlled by capitalism, but is NOT capitalism) HOWEVER egregious the social relations of capital are. Once all this abundance---the means of production capitalists control---has been thoroughly rationalized and centralized, then socialism's fundamental material preconditions have been fulfilled. THAT is the progressive role capital plays: to take atomized private property of the means of production (which supports only a meager existence) and to industrialize and centralize them (supporting much more abundance)---so socialism is then materially prepared to redistribute the means of production (and its abunadance) collectively.

And because capital has wrested private property of the means of production out of the hands of many, socialism, in its turn, will only have to wrest that private property out of the hands of a few. As Marx put it:

The transformation of scattered private property, arising from individual labor, into capitalist private property is, naturally, a process, incomparably more protracted, violent, and difficult, than the transformation of capitalistic private property, already resting on socialized production, into socialized property. In the former case, we had the expropriation of the mass by a few usurpers; in the latter, we have the expropriation of a few usurpers by the mass of the people.(1)

Now, NONE of this to say that capitalism didn't destroy another mode of production and an entire way of life. Some primitive communities were / are vastly more 'equitable,' 'fair,' 'less alienating,' than modern society---no doubt. On the other hand, much of the primitive was / is harsh: slavery, famines, etc., etc. NONE OF THIS MATTERS HOWEVER. For history is not something we can reverse.

Your 'socialism' wants to reinstate individual private property again. That's regressive. Hence, Marxist terminology calls your beliefs reactionary. It's not an insult, NJ, it's just a technical term.

You idealize the primitive, NJ. Many times you have claimed that primitive society is superior to modern society. Yet---as Frenchy has pointed out and not without good reason---you are attending Harvard here in the MOST 'advanced' country in the world.

Now why is that if primitive society is so great?



1. Marx, Capital volume one, International 1967, p. 764.

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