- Capitalism and Alternatives -

Liberalism and Reform

Posted by: Barry Stoller on February 16, 19100 at 14:24:34:

In Reply to: Why should you want to know! (correct version) posted by MDG on February 15, 19100 at 13:29:11:

You said to Chuck in this post:

: But since we have capitalism now and for the foreseeable future, don't you think we should make it as humane as possible, or would you rather just let some suffer and die under it while you hatch plans for an alternative system which may never come into being?

That's eternalizing capitalism.

: 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.

No, that's an error. All we really know for sure is that some modes of production, because they produce less than what the entire society needs, can only distribute the surplus of society to a minority. Industrialization CAN produce enough for all; only the obsolete social relations (capital) attending that mode of production (industrialization) stand in the way. We do NOT know that power held by an overwhelming majority would corrupt: it hasn't ever happened (yet).

: 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...


I failed to complete my thought on liberalism.

Liberalism, as I see it, started off progressive (abolishing the strict feudal social division of labor, granting equal property rights to all citizens, initiating the industrial revolution, and, last but certainly not least, instituting capitalism as its dominant social relations). After its historical mission was accomplished, it set about protecting its social relations. To do so---as the contradictions of capitalism (overproduction, immiseration of the colonial masses, monopoly centralization, etc., etc.)---threatened its own survival, liberalism turned to redistributive measures to placate the masses (in the developed countries). These include:

: 1. Protecting minority rights [Johnson].
: 2. Caring for the poor, disabled, and elderly [Roosevelt].
: 3. Preserving and protecting the environment [Nixon].
: 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.
: 7. Unions and labor rights [Wilson, Roosevelt].

You'll notice how each of these administrations faced a class crisis prior to enacting the legislation that addressed these concerns...

Your goal:

: 4. Animal rights.

In the future, I'm sure.

The one goal of yours, however:

: 6. Stopping multinational corporations from plundering the Earth and its inhabitants.
: etc.

Forget about it as long as capitalism exists!

: Do any of these goals conflict with your communist philosophy?

They're all fine goals---and need to be extended further than capital will ever extend them.

Nonetheless, there are OTHER class goals that capitalism will NEVER address:

1. Alienated labor.

2. Monopolization of the means of production.

3. Commodification of everything.

4. Hypertrophied social division of labor (hierarchal leadership).

5. Imperialist threat of world war three.

Only communism will solve these problems!

Some other points from your other post...

: In other words, if one doesn't favor slitting the throats of the ruling class, one has therefore abandoned all political action. No wonder the post-Russian Revolution was such a bloody, authoritarian mess.

Ditto the American Revolution---which introduced democracy to the world. Ask General George what he thought about small, incremental reforms.

: I have a strong suspicion of any ideology which relies on convoluted, seemingly intentionally arcane, rhetoric.

Sounds like anti-intellectualism to me. The prevailing ideology of the ruling class is working...

: I will fight to protect the liberty of even the wealthiest; this does not conflict with wealth redistribution or a radical restructuring of society -- it only means that I'll blow up any guillotines which the revenge driven seek to erect.

After you fight for the liberty of the wealthy, MDG, the wealthy will reward you by offering you a job.

: As for being a utopian: guilty as charged. I believe in striving for the best of all possible worlds, even if perfection may never be achieved. Why strive for less (or as you might put it, why think small?).

I know your heart is in the right place, but all you're really doing is propping up capital with your small, incremental palliatives. The road to hell is paved with good intentions.

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