- Capitalism and Alternatives -

Not my intention (technical term)

Posted by: Barry Stoller on January 18, 19100 at 10:20:14:

In Reply to: You've used that word three times already, do you think it bothers me? posted by Nikhil Jaikumar on January 17, 19100 at 15:30:47:

Reactionary socialism: socialism that trys to reinstate precapitalist communalism.

Stoller: 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?

Are you advocating the 'freedom' to retain subsistence production? That's very paternalistic of you---and hypocritical considering that you choose to live in the industrialized U.S. Seriously, if small peasant proprietorship is your idea of panacea, why are you studying science?

: [Marx] didn't have a whole lot of respect for 'primitive' societies ion general, now did he?

Why should he? Subsistence production---the term says it all: enough produced to simply live on. No surplus---no culture, no science, no development.

: When the Penan are forced off their land, it's not individual ownership that's causing their suffering, it's forced industrial development.

But individual ownership did not create enough surplus in which the material preservation of their way of life could be effectuated. That's one problem with subsistence production: it cannot defend itself.

Just saying 'capitalism is wrong' isn't enough. How do we stop it?---that's the point. I agree with Marx that it can only be stopped once capital reaches the point in its development where (1) a massive class of people, dispossessed of land, become proletarianized (thus having nothing to lose by collectivizing); (2) technological development and organizational centralization occurs in which abundance for all is materially assured; and (3) when capital's social relations (subjective conditions) and its internal contradictions (objective conditions)---i.e. market anarchy, periodic crises, immiseration of the masses---fuse into revolutionary possibility.

You seem to think that peasants can band together and defeat capital. Wrong. Because peasant production is predicated upon private property, they will always defend capital's core values. Some are bought off by big capital, others are crushed (with the assistance of those spared). That's the nature of private property itself---individual private property always leads to its own negation, capitalistic private property (monopoly).

And that's why the landless mass (i.e. the proletariat) has a revolutionary historic role (whereas the peasant does not).

Capital didn't fall out of the sky, Nikhil; it emerged out of individual private property.

That's why I believe your ideal of a petty bourgeois 'socialism' is unsustainable.

Stoller: 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 public sector attractive enough that most people 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.

Stoller: 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 punishment. 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 would make it so. Therefore, people would work in the private sector because they WANT to, not because they are COMPELLED to. This would raise freedom to a whole new level. The only people who would work in the 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.

Lenin's N.E.P., in other words.

Lenin proved (if nothing else) that socialism built upon a peasant economy with undeveloped industry bringing up the rear does NOT work!

You reject your own call for 'freedom [at] a whole new level' when you mention all the qualifications above: dissolve them when they reach a certain size, make it difficult to employ people, etc., etc. Why do you presuppose this (petty bourgeois) class won't ever gain influence in and, ultimately, control of the very state apparatus you admit is necessary to control them?

Why not simply abolish classes---and, with them, the need to have a state to oppress one class over another?

There's not much socialism in your socialism, Nikhil; you seem to want some liberal form of social democracy.

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