- Capitalism and Alternatives -

You've used that word three times already, do you think it bothers me?

Posted by: Nikhil Jaikumar ( DSA, MA, USA ) on January 17, 19100 at 15:30:47:

In Reply to: The idea of reversing history is reactionary posted by Barry Stoller on January 16, 19100 at 23:20:39:


: 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).

What about freedom of choice?

: : 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.

No, they're not. Science deals with the deterministic, material world, not with the (often arbitrary) decisions made by free-willed human beings.

: : 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).

Yes, I know that Marx said that, I've read his footnote. But he didn't have a whole lot of respect for 'primitive' societies ion general, now did he?

: Lenin:


: 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)

If you think I'm going to be convinced just 'cause Lenin said so, you've got another thing coming. I think that on issues of scientific fact I trust a natural scientist (especially one who went to my high school- just kidding) more than a philkosopher, regardless of what their politicss might be.

: 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.

Not so. When the Penan are forced off their land, it's not individual ownership that's causing their suffering, it's forced industrial development. In this case the incarnation happenes to be private Japanese companies. But if the Japanese government was raping the forests of Malaysia, as they hoped to do in the early '40s, it would be a public incarnation. Forced modernization / industrailization, which deprives peopel of the freedom and the means to live the lifestyle they choose, is wrong no matter who carries it out, wherther it be private companies in Brazil or suppsoed 'socialists' in Tibet.

: 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.

No. Socialized production existed in the past without centralization or industrialization. It can exist in teh future with JUST TEH AMOUNT OF INDUSTRIALIZATION AND CENTRALIZATION WE CHOOSE. (as rational beings capable of choice).

: : 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!

Nope. The state sector will remain dominant, and can impose its will on the private sector.

: Why would ANY 10% not attempt monopolization of the means of production?

Don't give them the opportunity! Dissolve them when they get to a certain size. Make it difficult for them to employ people. make the piublic sector attractive enough that most peopel will want to work there. Hamstring the petty proprietors with stringent labor laws and profit-sharing requirements. Set price controls. Make them pay a labor tax (corvee). And throw the book at them when they break any legal or moral codes.

:Why would your 'good proprietors' be any different from the proprietors of the past?

Because they're smaller, weaker, and we would filter out the bad apples through heavy legal punsihment. In my socialist future, it would actually be MORE FINANCIALLY SOUND for epopel to work in the public sector than the private one- and igf it isn't we woudl make it so. Therefore, people would work in the private sector because they WANT to, not because they are COMPELLED to. Thsi woulkd raise freedom to a whole new level. The omnly peopel who would work in teh private sector would do so out of family loyalty, creativity, or independence- and they would pay a (small) financial price to win these intangible benefits.

: 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.

Do you know what I could say about your Lenin quotes if I wanted to?

: The truth is you defend, romanticize, and idealize the primitive---

In certain aspects, times, and places....

:yet you benefit from the industrialization, centralization, and rationalization you impugn (by living in the USA).

None of us benefits from the pollution, the family breakdown, the environmental rape and destruction, the social turmoil.

: 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?

Bite me. A 'primitive' lifestyle should not eb presecribed for anyone, nor should a 'modern ' lifestyle. People should know thae advantages, the disadvantages, teh tradeoffs both collectove and individual. Then they should make the choice of either extreme, or of some combination in the middle that they freely choose.

: _______________


: Notes:

: 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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