- Capitalism and Alternatives -

No intimidation intended, I just expected better

Posted by: Barry Stoller on January 19, 19100 at 18:43:25:

In Reply to: unintimidated posted by Gee on January 19, 19100 at 11:45:59:

Gee (from this post):

The 'got you over a barrel' argument is intended (i think) to portray the capitalist as a man by the lake side with a rope and the potential worker as a man adrift, in danger of drowning. The 'moral' derived from this is that the rope carrying man is obliged to save the stranger or he is held culpible for his situation - held as cause (thats sneaky - a causal con trick) as if he pushed the man in himself! Thats the allusion to coercion. Were such to be made enforceable law it would be in every mans interest to discard their rope (ability) so as not to be held culpible for the other fellows situation (need). Not a pretty scenario.

Stoller: That overdetermined metaphor is your positive contribution to the point [about capital's powers of coercion] I raised?

: It's the answer it deserves.

Really now, that metaphor was ridiculous! (Close to equalling your 'bog roll' hocus pocus here...)

Let's explore why your metaphor is overdetermined (and inadequate)...

: Capital itself is just 'the money'.


Capital is a thing (money, accumulated profit) on the surface. It is, if we take the time to look under its surface, also an expression of social relations.

Because a (small) portion of society owns and monopolizes all the means of production, the (majority) remaining portion of society must approach the owners in order to survive.

Workers have access to the means of production (which, when merged with new labor, sustains them) only on the owner's terms.

Capital's basic law (as told to the worker): work or starve.

As the labor-power of the workers add value to the means of production (which is but the labor of past exertions, i.e. dead labor), more and more surplus is accumulated by the capitalists. This accumulated surplus is both consumed by the capitalist class and reinvested (so capital reproduction is enlarged with each new circuit of m-c-m).

This reinvestment appears in the form of an increased division of labor (in manufacture) and machinery---which increases labor productivity by reducing the labor time per aliquot commodity.

This process not only reduces skilled workers into semi- and unskilled workers, but reduces their wages as well.

In this way, capital (which is but the surplus of dead labor workers have provided gratis to the capitalist) confronts the worker as something hostile.

This entire situation is not, as you so callowly put it, 'just "the money",' it expresses social relations between those who own the means of production (dead labor expropriated from workers) and those who own only fresh labor-power (sold piece-meal to capital on capital's terms).

THAT explanation gets to the heart of things a bit more clearly---and completely---than some ridiculous fable about drowning in a lake. As a matter of fact, following the rigor of Marxian logic, one could easily assert that it is capital---the accumulation of surplus expropriated by workers---that needs fresh labor (daily) in order to keep from drowning.

In short, what the capitalist owns is not only his / her labor (or 'mind,' to adopt Rand's disembodied terminology), but the labor of everyone else.

Work or starve.

: Capital is not the provider of ability; ability is what makes use of and creates capital.

Labor is.

'Ability' without labor is nothing but asomatous mental activity.

: Do you not see what your model would really do to people? With its essential controls and enforcement?

What you CONTINUE to deny is that capital is 'essential controls and enforcement.'

Work or starve.

Follow Ups:

The Debating Room Post a Followup