- Capitalism and Alternatives -

Not even in the operating room

Posted by: Barry Stoller on January 25, 19100 at 23:25:38:

In Reply to: No bosses. posted by Red Deathy on January 25, 19100 at 17:06:21:

Stoller: If you want to tell me that a Marxist position supports (or accepts the 'geographic' inevitability) of the social division of labor in the communist future, please back up that with relevant quotes. Otherwise, admit, concerning on the topic of the social division of labor, you have parted ways with Marxism.

: No, I think I've just parted company with clear communication to you - all I've ever said is that people should be free to choose the jobs they do, within their communities. After that, dread necessity will make it all happen.

Notice the absence of quotes in all your arguments. You speak in Marx?s name yet you furnish zip quotes to counter the ones I have proffered in this post and this post.

Dread necessity, that's a Morrisian concept. It occurs nowhere in Marx and Engels' writings. Dread necessity: people will do what it takes to deal with problems. People will solve these problem without bosses. People will spontaneously, 'organically' you said here, organize their activities---industrial activities, no less---without centralized direction. People, in other words, will co-operate out of the blue.


That's a slogan for Woodstock, RD, not the dictatorship of the proletariat.

Wanting to abolish authority in large-scale industry is tantamount to wanting to abolish industry itself, to destroy the power loom in order to return to the spinning wheel.(1)

After presenting Engels' 'On Authority,' you finally drop your utopian pretense...

: Or to make such bosses, where needed, elected, and thus removable.

Yes! Now, we're getting somewhere!

Ever been in an operating room during surgery? The presence of authority, of a boss, is unmistakable. There?s noting 'organic' going on there; discipline is what?s going on.

I say rotate jobs because no one should ever have to do all the unskilled work society requires. Plus running the state is a job...

You, ignoring this post time and time again, think that I'm saying that everyone will do ALL jobs.

Since you seem to be too busy or too lazy to read the post I link every other time we debate, let me present it to you now:

SDF [repeating the same argument against the social division of labor that every procapitalist has ever tendered]: Can everyone be a brain surgeon?

It's MISLEADING to infer that I'm advocating that EVERYBODY in the socialist future should be a brain surgeon.

Let's take this WHOLE ISSUE from the top...

Marx and Engels:

Division of labor only becomes truly such from the moment when a division of of material and mental labor appears.(2)


[I]t is necessary to abolish all private ownership of the means of production, it is necessary to abolish the distinction between town and country, as well as the distinction between manual workers and brain workers.(3)

Bukharin and Preobrazhensky:

The most brilliant man of science must also be skilled in manual labor...The unification of education in the unified labor school is by no means intended to exclude specialist training. Our aim is merely to defer specialist training till the last stage is reached...He must perform his quota of labor, must play his due part in producing goods for the human community. He can receive specialist instruction only in so far as he has first fulfilled his fundamental duty towards society.(4)

With one IMPORTANT EXCEPTION: That 'there should be a continuous rotation' in the administration of the state:

[E]very comrade must, after a definite time, change over from one [administrative] occupation to another, so that by degrees he shall become experienced in all the important branches of administrative work.(5)

Let's review:

1. Physical [unskilled] labor is required of ALL citizens.

2. Specialist training (in ONE field) will be available to ALL citizens.

3. In ADDITION to the two categories above, ALL citizens shall be expected to administrate their state.

: No, certainly i do not support hierarchy in any way shape or form, whilst I may accept that some people will dig coal while not ploughing fields, I don't accept that this necessitates hierarchy or even class.

Let's try this example. Some people will administer the state and some people will dig coal. Is that your idea of socialism? Keep mental work and manual work separated?

: [M]y point is simply that rotation will occur, but not through rotas - the only difference is in that you want it to be formalised, and I say there is not point.

Some one is going to 'organically' volunteer to dig the coal? Is that your premise? That things will 'organically' work out because 'dread necessity' will encourage everyone to share the unskilled work along with the skilled? Evenly?

Stoller: To sum: people may share ownership of the means of production; people
may receive equally---or, better yet, according to need. But if one drives the truck while the other picks strawberries, or---returning to Marx's primitive communist society*---if one writes the poetry while the other person picks the strawberries, then someone is getting screwed.

: No, because that person is picking strawberries because they 8like* doing so, just as the poet writes because they like doing so.

'Organically,' I presume. What you are describing is a generic petty-bourgeois utopia---Brook Farm, to be precise:

The country members [visiting Brook Farm] naturally were surprised to observe that one man plowed all day, and one looked out the window all day---and perhaps drew his picture, and both received at night the same wages.(6)

: But permenant bosses are incompatable with a democratic production process, anyway, where they will only be able to carry out instructions mandated by their workforce.

No, permanent bosses could exist with a democratic production process since the democracy only determines allocation of goods. Goods, of course, will, in turn, determine industries but all industries require centralization (bosses). You haven't solved the problem: some people may get the more skilled (desirable) jobs while others get the unskilled (less desirable) jobs.

In your idealistic zeal for 'no bosses,' you do NOTHING to insure that bosses won't become entrenched---'organically.'


* Stoller: Marx is describing primitive communism, public ownership of the means of production, distribution according to need---all the qualities needed, according to you, to support the social division of labor without hierarchy forming.

: No, he doesn't say according to need, he just says it is distributed, doubtless according to rank...

You're beginning to see the light. The 'rank' does not originate from ownership of the means of production or from wages---there are none in his example; the 'rank' originates from the social division of labor.

: Again, there is no statement that it is according to needs - he is after all describing a more feudal society than a primitive communist society here.

Wrong. A community 'based on possession in common of land' (Capital volume one, International 1967, p. 357).

That's NOT feudalism at all.



1. Engels, 'On Authority,' Marx and Engels' Basic Writings on Politics and Philosophy, Anchor 1959, p. 483.

2. Marx and Engels,The German Ideology, International 1939, p. 20.

3. Lenin, 'A Great Beginning,' Selected Works volume three, International 1975, p. 172.

4. Bukharin and Preobrazhensky, A B C of Communism [Party Program, 1919], University of Michigan Press, 1967, pp. 237-8.

5. Ibid., p. 190.

6. Swift, Brook Farm, Macmillan 1900, p. 52.

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