- Capitalism and Alternatives -

Try putting a little more effort into your next post

Posted by: Barry Stoller on March 03, 19100 at 11:53:17:

In Reply to: This post will get me into trouble posted by David on March 02, 19100 at 11:04:39:

Stoller: I would nevertheless like to remind critics of the Soviet Union that ...America's history is characterized by slave labor (Africans), ethnic genocide (Native American), rampant imperialism [Mexico, etc.], and the restriction of individual freedom (indentured servitude, lack of political representation for women, etc., etc.).

: Yeah, it is a fucking shame, isn't it? I don't condone the massive amounts of human rights violations this country has committed, not only in it's infancy but also in recent history. What I do condone however are the multitudinous freedoms and rights that are afforded to Americans, that is, the ability to condemn those violations that have gone on in our history with out being persecuted. America derives its strength from the freedom of people to criticize its government and speak freely. It keeps the politicians in check and brings issues to light.

Have you not just condoned the massive human rights violations of America's past by pointing out America's present ability to grant people the freedom to criticize its government? Believe me, David, those Native American tribes and those Africans in chains criticized the government, too---not that it did much for them.

You miss the point.

Stoller: Speaking internationally, democracy came into the world by anything but democratic means. That has been the nature of all social revolutions.

: But Barry, aren't you glad that it is here?

My point exactly as I extrapolated it to the U.S.S.R. Remember: to fairly compare the U.S.S.R. with America, we must align their productive chronologies. To compare with the U.S.S.R. in 1989 is to compare it to America in 1850.

Stoller: 'But America's crimes are all in the distant past!' cry defenders of America (and capitalism). What else could they invoke as justification?

: WARNING: Please keep all open flames away, this straw man is quite dry and liable to catch fire.

If that is the case, you fail to demonstrate the strength of your position by knocking my 'straw man' down. All you have done is to CLAIM that you can. The rest of your post doesn't live up that assuredness.

Stoller: And in time, the social forces of production increased, permitting abundance to flourish. This, in turn, permitted more abundance to go around. The widespread material comfort, in turn, produced political revisions which allowed less repressions and exploitations.

: Dare we hope this trend continues?

Let us not think that development can continue indefinitely within each production epoch. If that were so, then the 'trend' of improving social gains could be inferred from the slave societies of ancient Egypt! Material advancement---and the resulting social advancement---will progress within political systems---but only so far. Social relations will impede material progress at some point as long as classes are antagonistic. That is why revolutions occur.

Consider Engels:

Only when the mode of production in question has already a good part of its declining phase behind it, when it has outlived its day, when the conditions of its existence have to a large extent disappeared, and its successor is knocking on the door---it is only at this stage that the increasing inequality of distribution appears as unjust... [I]f...the division into classes has a certain historical justification, it has this only for a given period of time, for given social conditions. It was based on the insufficiency of production; it will be swept away by the full development of the modern productive forces.(1)

But my point was that the 'trend' of material abundance---regardless of political systems---improves within each production epoch. The U.S.S.R. of the mid-1980s was a MUCH more progressive culture than it was in, say, 1936; I posit that given the SAME period of develop that America has enjoyed, it would have SURPASSED the level of abundance and, in its trail, freedom.

Stoller: In short: the higher the level of production the higher the level of political (and cultural) freedom.*

: Alright Barry, for arguments sake, I am going to cite ancient (democratic) Athens as an example of an underdeveloped free nation.

As Chuck pointed out, that is a ridiculous claim.

: Now, to invoke the name and wisdom of capital's dominatrix, Ayn Rand, she wrote a nice little article on what she called the "Monument Builders," those people -- monarchs, pharohs, despots, and emperors -- who's reign constructed massive monuments to their greatness and the prestige of the nation. She likens those great monuments to mausoleums and claims they are not monuments to greatness but to disparity, because they were built by slaves. She claims the great monuments are those like the sky scrapers of New York that were built by individuals for their own glory.

You'd do better finding a smarter procapitalist to quote. New York skyscrapers were NOT built by 'individuals,' they were only designed and financed by individuals. Workers did the building. And workers did the building because workers, possessing NOTHING but their own labor-power, must sell labor-power piecemeal to the capitalists (who then own the labor-power of millions) because the capitalists 'just happen' to own EVERYTHING ELSE. The primary difference between a slave and a wage-slave is that the slave is fed and sheltered by his master while the wage-slave must do that himself.

: I think another item to point out is that the U.S. government did not enslave people, it was the plantation owners that enslaved them.

That's saying plantation owners were not beholden to U.S. law.

: [T]he U.S.S.R. had the advantage of being established AFTER the industrial revolution...

That's most inaccurate. Russia in 1917 was only partially industrialized. 80% of its population lived on peasant farms. Consider how many Americans presently are required to do the agricultural work of the nation (around 7%).

: Damn Barry, you are SO right! Those quacks, what fools they are for choosing to defend a system that has the greatest amount of individual rights and freedoms and offers its populace the highest standard of living ever seen. Where even the poorest of the poor are in luxurious conditions compared to those poor bastards in Burkina Faso where 80% (10 million) engage in subsistence farming and there is a 77% illiteracy rate.

The above demonstrates that you failed to grasp ENTIRELY the historical perspective of my argument.

Sorry, David, you've had better days and better posts in the past.


* 'In acquiring new productive forces men change their mode of production; and in changing their mode of production, in changing the way of earning their living, they change all their social relations. The hand-mill gives you society with the feudal lord; the steam-mill, society with the industrial capitalist.' Marx, The Poverty of Philosophy, International n.d., p. 92.


1. Engels, Anti-Dühring, International n.d., pp. 170 & 316.

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