- Capitalism and Alternatives -

And ending the string

Posted by: Barry Stoller on January 26, 19100 at 22:12:59:

In Reply to: rounding off some points posted by Gee on January 26, 19100 at 14:17:37:

: So in proportion to their equivalents both have grown together, but in absolute terms to volume of 'cash' differential is greater.

Marx: 'Our wants and pleasures have their origin in society; we therefore measure them in relation to society; we do not measure them in relation to the objects which serve for their gratification. Since they are of a social nature, they are of a realtive nature' (Wage-Labor and Capital, International 1933, p. 33).

Industrialization has made abundance possible (socialists like this); the social relations linked to it (capitalism), however, socialists reject.

: Because you have linked the value of a skill to whom values it (a kind of STV incidently) then all we can say is that skills are changing, unless we try to apply some objective measure.

Skills, like the revolutionary development of technology inherent in capitalism, will always grow and change. This is why Marx envisioned job variation as concomitant with industrialization (Capital volume one, International 1967, pp. 486-88). However, we seem to be using the word value differently at times: I define value as the cost of a commodity's reproduction; you (and I followed your without clarifiying my distinction) define value as employ or use.

Nice try getting me involved with the STV, though...

: I imagine that would depend upon how their peers in the same roles are rewarded, observe the apparent arrogance of dismayed footballers only getting 70% of their colleagues enormous salaries - we think its crazy, but they see it from a different viewpoint.

Good point.

: What motivates people is a key issue and as we know the jury is still out regarding a definitive universal theory of motivation.

Agreed. I can only say with confidence that differing social relations will produce differing incentives...

Stoller: Marx considered [the principle 'to each according to work'] flawed, transitional. He was no utopian dreamer, he knew that communism must emerge out of the capitalist society, with much of the capitalist ideology intact. Hence, the 'first phase.'

: I think he is right about that with regard to relatively fast revolutions, bt how about a (genuine) cultural revolution over time? That seems to be a pre-requisite for RD.

New social relations obviously will change culture. Where I differ with RD is that he thinks culture can change in about 5 minutes.

: What people don't realize is that once its considered ok to have government run their lives in any way, or demand largesse from the tax bucket, they have also invited anyone to do so by discarding the principle which would have barred government, and can no longer bar anyone, from doing so.

Yes---but my point is that some projects---highways, railroads, defense---cannot possibly come about from market conditions, they're too expensive for any one capitalist (or firm) to risk...

Stoller: Only 25% of American jobs require any skill above a high school level.

: What was it 50 years ago and hat will it be 50 years from now?

Good questions, maybe you can furnish the answers. My point will always be the here and now, though; 75% unskilled jobs is too much by my measure.

Engels: '....English historians up to 1850 are the proof that it was being striven for, and the discovery of the same conception by Morgan proves that the time was ripe for it and that indeed it had to be discovered.'

: This still implies the principle I stated above, and its consequence - that determinism, that notion that if you removed enough people then the village idiot would have to become Einstein - plainly impossible.

Well, perhaps if society was a small village an Einstein would not emerge, but there's billions of people on the planet.

: One only knows after the event those people who came into being and changed things.


: As this conception of history has not shown the future to satisfaction.

Again, agreed. Understanding the dialectics of historical materialism is not a method of 'predicting the future' (contrary to the claims of some very imperious, silly Marxists). It can only guide activity when objective conditions seem most propitious. Example: only a fool would attempt to install (Marxist) socialism in a primarily peasant country like China (circa 1949)...

: I would say the greater risk is in assuming 'someone will do it' rather than not, though.

Agreed. Revolutionary Marxism is not about waiting for things to happen; it's about making things happen (the dreaded 'vanguard' everyone is so upset over)---but only when the objective and subjective conditions are propitious.

: Indeed, and I did make an earlier post suggesting that the time was still too soon. Capitalism is not out of breath yet - if indeed it will become so at all.

Well, we could debate that one forever without either of us yielding an inch...

Stoller: No conception? You deny Mary control over her investment and her rate of profit.

: Not me, perhaps it is denied to her by fact of her non conception (of that which is innovated).

I'd say her lack of power was the real reason.

Stoller: Would capitalists accept the same terms? How about I, the worker, telling the capitalist that he /she will receive the sort of work I want to do, maybe they have no 'conception' today what that may be just yet? No? Then why expect it of Mary?

: They do accept it. They have to accept it whenever new innovations are made - commercial history is littered the with bodies of those who thought themselves to big to need to accept it.

Few laborers are hired to innovate; the overwhelming majority are hired to perform very specific, unskilled tasks under very specified conditions.

: Also add that those with ability can become capitalists, and that this may be one of the ptimary motivations for many.

I never denied the exceptions (or their motivations). I only said that they're statistically insignificant. Obviously a minority of people find capitalism a very jolly affair.

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