- Capitalism and Alternatives -

Why should you want to know! (correct version)

Posted by: MDG on February 15, 19100 at 13:29:11:

In Reply to: No problem posted by Barry Stoller on February 11, 19100 at 00:54:46:

That's the next line in the Jesus Christ Superstar song, by the way.
: : [H]ow was capitalism founded on liberal principles? Seems to me it was founded on conservative principles: keeping wealth and power in the hands of the wealthy and powerful.

: You eternalize capitalism.

No. I'm saying that as far back as recorded history, there have been rulers and the ruled, the powerful and the powerless, the wealthy and the poor. Capitalism, at least in its larval form, didn't come along until what, the 14th or 15th century?

: The 'wealthy and poweful' have, in fact, not always been the same class. Once they were the feudal monarchs who chained the peasant to the land, directly sucking up his surplus-labor.

I fail to see the distinction; if they were the ruling class then, they are analogous to the ruling class now, even if the method by which they acquire their wealth and power has changed.

: The nascent bourgeoisie united themselves and the peasant masses under the liberal banner of freedom: freedom for peasants to work their own land, freedom for the bourgeoisie to develop industry (and capitalism) THUS freedom for the capitalists to gain hegemony over the peasants (because the socialized labor of the capitalist industry bankrupts the subsistence labor of the isolated peasant in due time) and, after the peasnts have lost their little plots of land to usurers and banks (if not bourgeois legislation for enclosure which speeds up the process), the 'freedom' of peasants from the land, i.e. the 'freedom' to sell the only thing they have left, their labor-power.

That's interesting, and I'll take your word for it for now since a) you seem to have done the research, and b) as I'll shortly demonstrate, it's beside the point vis a vis modern liberalism.

: That, in a nutshell, is the liberal process of 'freedom.'

: So! We see how the bourgeoisie originally had a progressive historical mission---to abolish feudalism. We can also see, soon after, how the bourgeoisie consolidated its gains and turned on its former ally as it insured its class hegemony. One day it's freedom for all, the next it's freedom only for those who can keep their private holdings safe from the rapacious tentacles of large-scale capitalists. The NEW 'wealthy and powerful' free the peasant from the land, indirectly sucking up his surplus-labor as a result of that 'freeing.'

The regrettable fact that some people, once they gathered power for themselves, turned their back on the powerless does not invalidate the original cry of freedom for all; rather, it seems to demonstrate that greed and selfishness are inherent human weaknesses. As the Buddhists say, all power corrupts.

: The small capitalists always perish by the very thing they risk their lives to protect: capital.

Do they always perish? Rapacious capitalists may eat up a lot of small fish, but some small fish remain and reproduce. However, the pure capitalist trend, as evidenced by the world around us, does bear out your assertion. I won't argue with it.

Now, back to liberalism. As I said to Chuck, theorists such as yourself hear the word "liberal" and immediately link to classic definitions of "liberal" and its historical roots. Nothing wrong with that, but nowadays, people who think of themselves as liberals do not reflect on its feudal origins. Instead, they possess a certain set of progressive ideals which are today called "liberal," and which I at least wholeheartedly embrace, such as:

1. Protecting minority rights.
2. Caring for the poor, disabled, and elderly.
3. Preserving and protecting the environment.
4. Animal rights (though some conservatives sign on to this, too).
5. Protecting freedom of speech, freedom from religious oppression, freedom against unwarranted searches and seizures, and
all the other rights in the Bill of Rights.
6. Stopping multinational corporations from plundering the Earth and its inhabitants.
7. Unions and labor rights.


Do any of these goals conflict with your communist philosophy?

To sum up, the term "liberal" today is used as loosely as is the term "fascist" (which is used to label anyone who is far right and intolerant). Thus, you may call me a liberal and it won't bother me. I would argue that those who call themselves "liberal" might also embrace socialism, communism, or anarchism because of their dismay with capitalism, and hence are (as I said many posts ago) your natural allies.

Follow Ups:

The Debating Room Post a Followup