- Capitalism and Alternatives -

Now you know how Dan Qualye felt (complete)

Posted by: Stoller on February 23, 19100 at 11:53:51:

In Reply to: Hmmmm, let's see....d-y-a-l-e-k-t-....no, wait d-i-y-e-l-e-...no, here it is d-i-e-l-e-t-r-i-c...no, I've got it........ posted by Frenchy on February 22, 19100 at 10:35:11:

Stoller: To ignore the role of material development upon social development is to see only a frozen image of social relations that are, in actuality, constantly in transition.

: Good one. Unfortunately I don't think of capitalism as including the power of kings to do as they please. When I refer to capitalism it always includes the idea of the rule of law, the right to private property, the singularity of the individual vs. the collective, the idea of subsidiarity, etc.

Capital does require laws, specifically laws to protect private property, hence the state.

I will qualify your next point, however. The ideology of capital promotes singularity over collectivity, but capital is, in fact, characterized by collectivity. After all, it is socialized labor-power (albeit privately appropriated and owned) which really set capital to task. And once the early competitive era of capital becomes the late monopoly era of capital, capital is almost exclusively characterized by socialized capital. Shall I reel off a list a mile long of recent mergers to prove my point?

: Besides, as Igor Shafarevich writes in 'From Under the Rubble' (Alexander Solzhenityn's collection of essays written by Russian intellectuals, Little Brown, 1974), there is nothing 'new' about socialism and in fact is one of the very oldest patterns of social organization dating back to Mesopotamia, the Incas and even some of the more esoteric Catholic sects such as the Cartharists.


: The real development in social organization seems to be not another form of communism but rather capitalism.

What sets Marxist communism apart from early forms of communism---real and rhetorical---is that Marx insisted that capitalism was historically necessary to produce the abundance (i.e. industrialization) that socialism requires. Only abundance can make the necessity of appropriating elites obsolete. (Earlier forms of communism simply made scarcity equitable.)

Capitalism destroys private ownership of the means of production (peasant livelihood) by making socialized labor and merger conglomerates the norm for production; then socialism follows through on that centralizing logic by destroying what remains of private ownership, transforming the socialized labor-power of society into public property. That's dialectics.

Returning to your opening statement...

: Unfortunately I don't think of capitalism as including the power of kings to do as they please.

No---one doesn't think of capitalism and monarchy as contemporaneous. Nevertheless, that's how it started: capital didn't fall from the sky, it evolved from feudal society for hundreds of years, eventually growing so strong that it took on the feudal monarchs and won (through revolution). And, likewise, one doesn't think of socialism evolving from certain particular characteristics of capitalism---but it does... Every time a cartel merges with another one, centralizing the means of production and bringing more of society's labor-power under one planned directive, the essential material preconditions of socialism are forming... That's dialectics.

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