- Capitalism and Alternatives -

(Class) Morality and rights

Posted by: Barry Stoller on January 31, 19100 at 13:21:23:

In Reply to: Socialism is better than capitalism because it respects and furtehrs the eternal values and rights of man. posted by Nikhil Jaikumar on January 30, 19100 at 20:34:03:

: : Rights and morality and laws are dialectical, historical, social.

: No, because if you concede that, they your advocacy of communism has no leg to stand on. You argue that communism is 'better' than capitalism. Obviously, otherwise we wouldn't be advocating for it to replace capitalism. I agree with you in principle. But WHY is it better? We need a STANDARD by which we can measure socialism and judge it to be better than capitalism.

: In my opinion, this standard is FAIRNESS, LIBERTY< EQUALITY, BROTHERHOOD, all the eternal values that you brush off as mere artifacts of the social relations of your time. Socialism is better than capitalism because it respects and furthers the eternal values and rights of man.

Perhaps you misunderstand me. I do not 'brush off as mere artifacts' the values of ANY social relations. I simply acknowledge that they can---and must---change with class struggle. I believe the interests---'values,' if you will---of the proletariat are superior to the interests of the bourgeoisie. But that's only because I am a member of the proletariat!

As I said before:

Libertarianism and postmoderism, I believe, has given the modern left little to brag about. They criticize capital like the professionals they often are, but they have offered few practical solutions. Because of this, today's left is more fragmented, indecisive, academic, and downright untenable than it has been since the early 1960s when Marxism enjoyed its widest (American) consideration.

The reason, I believe, is that the left has relinquished its superior moral ground, the simple confidence to proclaim one set of values as being more valid than another. 'That's a value judgement' has become a pejorative statement. It has been a long time since any credible figure of the left has asserted, as Lenin did, that 'There is no such thing as abstract truth. Truth is always concrete. Yet the ability to assert a value simply and strongly, I believe, is exactly what this new era of monopoly imperialism demands!

Freedom to or freedom from? Libertarianism, I believe, is best left to the right wingers who cannot make any distinctions between positive and negative freedoms. To posit only one freedom is to imply---erroneously---that all (class) interests in society are the same. Postmodernism, I believe, is best suited to the arcane and academic world of career philosophy. To suggest that freedom is a 'personal affair,' as the postmodernists often do, is to concede morality to the 'free market,' a definite retreat and a signal for inaction.

As long as there will be values, there will be value judgments!

But I do not need to invoke any eternal, absolute verity to support the interests of the working class (and, hence, myself). The fact that, for example, public ownership of the means of production, abolition of hierarchy, and a democratically planned economy ARE the interests of the working class and that I'm a member of the working class is all the validation I need.

I know the interests of the bourgeoisie are different from mine. Ditto their values and their morality (same difference). They HAVE to be, their sense of right and wrong is inexorably linked to private property of the means of production, hierarchy, and market anarchy. Communists aim to change those social relations and to replace them with other social relations. When that happens, the former class rulers will have THEIR interests denied.

Again, I do not need to invoke some eternal, absolute verity to support this denial of the bourgeoisie's former 'rights.' (They'd deny it, anyway.) I only need to know that the proletariat's rights, morals, values, etc. are DIFFERENT, belong to the proletariat. Hence the whole preoccupation with the 'freedom to and freedom from' distinction.

One can seek ideological rationalizations favoring one class over another until the end of time.

Consider your argument with JD here. He's got morality on his side, you've got morality on your side. One must choose. The moderator in the sky is not going to settle the issue.

: And if we can't prove that, then capitalism and socialism are on an equal moral footing. In such a world, power = morality. And you know as well as me which side has the power.

There is no impartial referee available for mediating irreconcilable class differences.

Power does equal morality. The ruling ideas of each epoch belong to the ruling class.

Sure, capital has the power (and a monopoly on morality broadcast from every organ of 'public discourse' in the land) today---just as the feudal monarchs did once upon a time. Things change. And so does morality.

: The next time you make a criticism of capitalism I'll endeavor to show why you have an implicit morality in your statement that presupposes moral laws and rights that are innate, and that take priority over what ever economic system may rule the day.

I'm sure you will endeavor a lot, NJ, but I'll still assert that I'm simply siding with the interests of the proletariat. If I interpret those interests incorrectly, that changes nothing: the proletariat---as a class---continues to define its interests everyday. And each day changes a little... And so will my views---as all views must evolve...

: Or let's make it simpler. Try and answer the question, Why is capitalism wrong? without making reference to moral absolutes.

It's wrong because it is the class rule of the capitalists---and I'm a proletariat. Period.

Now, David, asks...

: [D]oes this mean that since we live in a bourgeois society, I am morally justified in exploiting workers and perpetuating class relations?

He understands me completely.

To answer your question, David: You are 'morally justified' as long as your (capitalist) class is in power.

Communists aim to change that.

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