- Capitalism and Alternatives -

The idea of reversing history is reactionary

Posted by: Barry Stoller on January 16, 19100 at 23:20:39:

In Reply to: the idea of inevitable historical progress is a myth posted by Nikhil Jaikumar on January 16, 19100 at 15:38:43:

The capitalist mode of appropriation, the result of the capitalist mode of production, produces capitalist private property. This is the first negation of individual private property, as founded on the labor of the proprietor, But capitalist poduction begets, with the inexorability of a law of Nature, its own negation. It is the negation of negation. This does not re-establish private property for the producer, but gives him individual property based on the acquisistions of the capitalist era: i.e., on co-operation and the possession in common of the land and of the means of production.(1)

This I believe.

You perhaps misunderstand me when I say that capital has had a progressive historical mission (dynamic technological developments, centralization and rationalization of the means of production, etc.). I do not dispute its concomitant destructive properties! I merely point out that capital's mode of production (as contrasted with its social relations) is necessary for THE NEXT STEP, the transformation of capital's social relations into socialist social relations predicated upon the mode of production created by the industrial revolution. In other words, I expressly reject the idea of socialist abundance based upon atomized private holding of the means of production (peasant economies).

: Certainly, we all agree that in many ways we are better off today than people were in the past (due primarily to science and technology, not to improved 'techniques of production'...

Huh? 'Techniques of production' ARE improvements in science and technology.

: Many tradoitional societies, particularly in Africa- with apollogies to Marx- showed collective owenership of the means of production...

This is not news, NJ. Engels' The Origin of the Family, The State, and Private Property was based on Lewis Morgan's anthropological discoveries that communal property preceded 'recorded history.' That's why Marxism posits that communal property is possible. But Marx and Engels' insisted that FUTURE communal property would be predicated upon industrialization (which negates individual ownership of the means of production).


The great centralized state is a tremendous historical step foward from medieval disunity to the future socialist unity of the whole world, and only via such a state (inseparably connected with capitalism), can there be any road to socialism.(2)

Industrialized activity---as I pointed out here and here---cannot be atomized or decentralized. That is why the OLD form of communal property must progress---from feudalism into capitalism into socialism.

: Barry, you're only seeing teh overall global trend when you look at teh course of suffering, and refusing to see the fact that while the overall advance may be there, still there were many places and tiems when the course of historical progress brought more misery and suffering to people than they had previously experienced.

You misunderstand me COMPLETELY. Once again: the mode of production capital uses and the social relations of capital are TWO DIFFERENT THINGS.

Of course, I know of the miseries of capitalism! Of course I impugn them! But those miseries are NOT the result of industrialization and centralization and rationalization---those miseries are the result of the individual ownership of the means of production.

You're a smart lad; can't you understand this distinction?

I call for communism to ERADICATE the miseries of capitalism. But as a Marxist, I believe that we cannot do this by simply returning to individual private property realtions. Property (of the means of production) must be SOCIALIZED. And that means bringing into the socialist future the industrialization, centralization, and rationalization that capital employs today.

: You said yourself that 10% is still owned by smallholders. I want to preserve that, and socialize the rest. Just so we can have a window for teh loners, teh individualists, etc.

A 'window' for the reemergence of capitalism, you mean! Why would ANY 10% not attempt monopolization of the means of production? Why would your 'good proprietors' be any different from the proprietors of the past?

Stoller: Yet---as Frenchy has pointed out and not without good reason---you are attending Harvard here in the MOST 'advanced' country in the world.

: Frenchy can go suck an egg. I'm debating with you here, and I don't see why you would agree with Frenchy. I SAID that modernization, on balance was good- but not everywhere, always, and in every way.

Stoller: Now why is that if primitive society is so great?

: See above.

That's a dodge.

The truth is you defend, romanticize, and idealize the primitive---yet you benefit from the industrialization, centralization, and rationalization you impugn (by living in the USA). If you thought that the primitive was so great, you wouldn't be here, would you? You'd be hunting and gathering in some timeless village community, wouldn't you? Or is hunting and gathering good for 'some' people, but not really good enough for you?



1. Marx, Capital volume one, International 1967, p. 763.

2. Lenin, 'Critical Remarks on the National Question,'Collected Works volume 20, Progress 1964, p. 46.

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