- Capitalism and Alternatives -

Burger King

Posted by: Joel Jacobson ( The Fast Food Snydicate, Utopia ) on March 22, 1999 at 12:29:16:

In Reply to: Wittgenstein. posted by Red Deathy on March 19, 1999 at 18:10:39:

: Fact remains, if I own the roads into Lancaster, can charge rent on their use, since its my property and I can do with it as I please. the rest of you have to put up or shut up. Anyone tries to build alternative roads, I smash them with my wealth.

Absolutely untrue; see the very end of the post..

: : You mean profit? There is no such thing as "surplus value" it's mere metaphysical make-believe.

: ISTR that I prooved to you why we must ahve a notion of Value (money being a commodity itself is just a commodity of the same value as the original product, inflation can change prices without affecting value...etc.)

Now you're even misreading Marx. He never thought of value as a theory but as a concept without even any need of justification; I feel the same way. Value is based upon our internal preference curves and not some metaphysical social value taht is unseen and unmeasured. The whole "extraction of surplus value" was a sophisticated, and I believe sincere, attempt to derive "ought" from "is". Marx, when he makes the distinction of 'alienation' from 'theft', is still just imposing his value system upon what he saw in society. That's great as this is what we all do. However, Marx used a dialectical method to beguile his readers into thinking he had found the 'objective' set of values taht evetually would manifest itself and proclaim its dominance over all the 'ideologies'. And, finally, you're pretty much putting the kibbosh on your whole arguement since no one person needs any objective valuation system, of which Marx admitted that his was unmeasurable and unknowable, to ascertain their internal value systems. I mean, it almost seems as if you're saying taht I have to have some external value measure to judge my internal desires as if I had to justify or quantify it to someone else (if that last part rambled it's because I honestly believe I'm evaluating something simply doesn't make any real assertations about anything of meaning).

: : Actually, they need to evolve. And yes there would be limits on violence. The Icelandic Sagas are perfect examples of markets supplying law-enforcement.

: I don't really rcall Nordic communities as being free-market orentated, the were-guild has a class system built into it.

That's why they left Norway to go to Iceland; they felt they knew a way to make a better life for themselves, as individuals and family units. But now, you have a good point, but one which undermines the whole dialectical idea of idealistic or materialistic classifications. Much of what we see under democracy, republics, feudal 'systems', etc. have many common characteristics. I think it's highly falacious to make distinctions between things like 'feudalism' and 'capitalism'. Our naming and classifying of these 'systems' has very limited relevance in our social, cultural and economic analyses. Simply naming during some period 'x-ism' and then trying to extrapolate alll its "essential" characteristics is futile and naive. It puts our analyses into little square boxes and blinds our eyes to all the different potential manners in which we can interpret how people interacted in these past ages. For details go to http://www.best.com/~ddfr/Academic/Iceland/Iceland.html

: : First, the term "capitalism" is pure idealist definitionism.

: Sorry, but this is amateurish, masturbatory school-boyish sophistry, hows about I abolish the universe, logically? By this token democracy doesn't exist, America doesn't exist, economy doesn't exist. Capitalism is a mental construct, however it is a reififed mental construct, as can be found as SDF points out, through the M-C-M ritual.

The whole M-C-M construct itself is pure sophomoric, definitionistic gibberish completely ignoring any conception of the nature of the myriad of unplanned rules and customs, present in all these so-called systems, taht allow individuals to function with any degree of certainty in relation to an absolutely overwhelming number of pieces of information. Marx himself admitted that the concept of "value" he was referring to was invisible and unmeasureable. So, if it's without any relation to our everyday decisions, by being invisible and unmeasureable, then what good is it? Well, to someone attempting to claim that 'value' is solely based upon applying labor to the material world it provides a foundation upon which to base a theory of 'alienation'; that's its value. But for an honest and open-minded approach to analysing history, institutions, and culture it is almost irrelevant. In short, the whole M-C-M analysis is a projection of your and SamD's value systems and not an objective fact.

And, no 'democracy', 'capitalism, 'socialism', etc. don't "exist" as specific or particular 'system' classifications. Rather, they are references to the participation of people in a certain socially relevant actions, which are made relevant, in turn, by the valuations taht individual people give them. They are referencing what we are engaged in and not some "form of existance" as there are many more parallels between these "systems" then there are distinctions between them. Such classifications only have the most broad and non-analytical purposes and are simply unable to provide for deep and meaningful evaluation.

: : Second, "crisis" is a value judgement by the speaker of the term; what you speak of as "crisis" may be nirvana to someone else. So I guess it's up to you to give a detailed analysis of what will happen instead of alluding to vague generalities such as "crisis".

: Erm, most peopel accept that there was a crisis in the thirties, in '68 and again in '73- overproduction (I beleive you called it misapplication of resources, trying to deny structural causation) leads to a fall in profits, credit crisis, unemployement, and bankruptcy- yes many capitalists benefit, which was my point, but many don't, and most workers don't, because they are thrown out of their jobs in oth failing and 'succeeding' firms.

And the monetarists have shown how it was related to incompetent and politically-motivated bungling of monetary policy. The first being the attempt of the central board of the Fed to wrest power away form the regional banks and the other two from presidents, especially Nixon, putting pressure on the Governors to continue expansion of monetary policy even though the whole economy was awash in liquidity. My pont, was though, that they were "crisis" because human beings like you and me made value judgements that they were "crises" and sought out and found ways of eliminating what we classified as such and tried mitigating the effects of similar phenomena in the future. This is why the USA moved from fiscal to monetary policy; piecemeal trial and error discovery in action.

: : But it's not inevitable. See above.

: No, after each crisis one of my rivals goes under, I buy him out, complete with cheap stock, or I merge with another competitor to stay in the running myself. This means that competition leads to concentration of wealth. But big firms, once they are established, can smash small firms, and without a state to stop it, they would do so.

Absolutely untrue; see below for details.

: : Read the history of trust-busting and you'll find that the type of monopoly you're referring to is impossible without psychologistic non-market forces. Contrary to revisionist historians companies like Standard Oil were prevented by the marketplace from engaging in such behavior. A perfect example of this is the case of Dow Chemicals. The only supplier for several chemicals was a German cartel that declared a price war on the miniscule Dow. By the end of the price war Dow had acquired 30% (or so) of the world market in those particular compounds. Companies taht behave in the manner you are reffering to, like Apple Computer, simply shoot themselves in the foot.

: Stagecoach seem to be doing pretty well thank you very much, they own most of the bus firms in this country, and in lancaster they have a monopoly. atm we have 'competition laws' (I coulda sworn the market could do that for itself, why are they felt to be necessary?) to stop firms doing that.

First, a single producer in the particular market does not mean anti-competitiveness. Often, it simply means taht the producer in question is the most efficient provider of a service or product. Per the example I gave above firms without political support actually lose market share when they act anti-competitively. We call this spontaneous order. Second, often the 'competition laws' and other political measures themselves actually lend to anti-competitive behavior. Just another example of the irrationallity and impotence of 'collective' behavior. Finally, see the very end of my post.

: Relative enough to enable co-ersion,

Oh come on. What you're decrying is that unless someone adds value under the current system they don't have the right to eat. Can you please describe any situation for me, exluding beaureaucrats, aristocrats and politicians, where this doesn't take place. The whole "extraction of surplus value" analysis simply is advocated by those who think "it's not fair" that the capitalist should be able to live comfortably without applying their physical labor tot eh material world to produce value; that's fine but it's simply their judgements and value systems speaking and not some "objective" fact.

: and to make sure that teh labourer feels less than human,

You keep on agreeing that there is no super-consipiracy to keep society "capitalisitic" and I quote you "no one is in charge not even the capitalists". However, your continued allusions, such as these, to conspiracy-like motives belies your true feelings and beliefs.

: and excluded from society. Any inequality in wealth breeds social disatisfaction.

Where? That's your value judgement and opinion (which is fine), and not some objective fact. What you're saying is that I would be better off producing one apple then producing eleven apples while only keeping ten. That's great, but if you feel like such you should propose something we can implement, evaluate, and which people will actually want to implement. Evaluation which will be the active and dynamic result of value systems imposed upon by our opinions and judgements and not some objective overlying set of foundations that we can refer to.

: ANd I forgot, under anarcho-capitalism, without a state absolute poverty would be the limit (unless the rich create 'charitable' workhouses, which would be the rich guiding the lives of the poor, very un-anarchic.)

Simply untrue. This relates to your complete misunderstanding of how prices are determined through supply and demand. Actually, Marx realized this, based on that he admitted taht price does not equal value and profit does not equal surplus value, and felt taht 'relative' poverty was the only measure truly addressing the whole worker vs captialist wage relation; later in life he didn't even accept 'absolute' poverty as valuable at all, I presume since it went against his theory. The 'law of increasing misery', in absolute terms, is simply without any foundation. Only in relative terms does it retain even a semblance of meaning. Again, addressed at the end of this post.

: : Why? Where? This is just speculation, which I feel is pretty much empirically falsified.

: Can you show me a single country without unemployement?

That's not even relevant. Obviously, when I graduate I might spend a month or two evaluating job offers and picking the one I find best suited to my values. But if you're refering to cyclical (and not overall) unemployment then the USA current has 0 unemployment and countries in history have even had over-employment.

: Here's an experiment for you, decrease unemployement,

I hope you're not saying "just increase employment". The whole point of most of my posts is that we just can't go around making attempts to do all these different things without a great many of social ramifications extraneous to our specific attempt. We can't "just decrease unemployment".

: if wages don't rise, I'm wrong, because if there is more work than workers available, wages go up, thus a small pool of unemployement is *needed* to keep wages down.

First, this relates to a fundamental misunderstanding of the labor markets. Skilled labor is simply not 2x unskilled labor, as Marx naively assumed. Second, employability is not necessarily related to pure skills, contrary to the naive assumptions of those who think education is the panacea for all the world's ills. Moral values are a major issue necessary to finding hireable workers and schooling cannot supply this. To my employers, 50 high school graduates without real skills @ a combined $250 per hour could still probably do the work I do for my boss at $15 per hour. Finally, unless you can show how capitalists conspire to keep "surplus" populations of workers then the whole point is moot anyway.

:Respectable bankers say that here.

Absolutely true, but not in the way you think. What has occurred is taht there is no real manner to determine monetary policy ex ante. So, a small amount of cyclical (not overall, as I showed above) unemployment is a rule of thumb used by said bankers to show them that the economy is not overheating due to over-expansion of the money supply. But, the whole problem is that the money supply is a result of political and not market action and thus does not have the discipline of the profit motive. Bankers only say this as a means of evaluating the current effectiveness of political systems' performance of monetary policy. It has no relation to a desire to keep wages down.

With that last comment I am not saying taht producers do not want to get the most labor for the lowest wage, but taht the phenomenon you are referring to doesn't have anything to do with paying less to workers, but instead evaluates something extraneous to the particular wage exchange. But trying to get the most for the least is what we all do and has no special and particular meaning for the 'wage relation'. If you keep on trying to make such a distinction here's what you're saying:

Set A (capitalists) is distinct from Set B (workers) because Set A has a certain particular characteristic, say x (getting the most value for the least value). Set B has that exact same characteristic but you are still trying to make the distinction based on x. So, B=A-x AND B=A, which is simply logically untenable unless x=0, which runs absolutely contrary to everything you're claiming.

: : The whole structure of the arguement was destroyed by the term "relative". And this automization takes place over time which allows populations to stabilize and adjust.

: No, it cna be very fast, entire generations thrown out of work (a factory buys new robots, throwing several hundred skilled labourers out of work). this si further disguised- 5,000 get thrown out of work, but 2,000 are created elsewhere, the media presents the net figure (3,000) and makes 2,000 unemployed workers disapear. It still means poverty and misery, and it means that more work can be done with fewer people, meaning some of the population becomes surplus to requirements.

Hey, I'm not saying that unemployment doesn't happen as the economic structure continually evolves. But I can't see how you can complain, with any real intellectual honesty, if their whole lives, and everyone else's, are better off through the continual readjustment and improvement of the manners of producing. I know this arguement verges on rule (or institutional) utilitarianism, which I marginally sympathize with, but I can't see any real harm in saying taht people generally like to live more comfortably as opposed to less so.

: Even if 1 in 10 goes from rags to riches, 90% of teh population is gonna be stuck in its class of origin.

Yes, but this statement is merely your personal value system and opinion (which is fine), and not based upon some objective evaluation of "social classes". Your arguements throughout this whole debate room are really against the wage relation, division of labor, and what Marx called "surplus value" and bear no relevance to how well off the workers are in terms of absolute well-being. I could see a future for humanity involving 'wage relations', that would make you unhappy, where even the poorest drove BMWs and Jaguars, and another one without the 'wage relation', that would make you happy, where a small number of human beings operated in a tribal unit barely scratching out the means of existence. I think you're going to have a hard time convincing most of the 'workers' that the second is more desireable. Who knows though, with a little behavior modification . . . ; )

: : "fair" and "freedom" are value judgements encumbent upon human beings to give them meaning.

: Humans have.

Yes, and there are as many different conceptions of them as there are different value systems. No one can claim absolute objectivity. And the "capitalist" value system doesn't claim objectivity because there is no such thing as "the capitalist system" except in the minds of people who want to completely replace every value and moral claim in existance with the one they personally find most pleasing.

: No, but I could pay justice Bob $1,000 Dollars to seize Jim's house (worth $5,000) for going on strike

First, why would Bob agree to this? He could simply seize Jim's house for himself and immediately gain $5,000 in wealth. So we can already count you out of the equation and simply make this an issue between Bob and Jim. Second, then Jim would hire Justice Mike for $100 to stop justice Bob. Okay, so now we have Bob and Mike verging on a state of war over Jim's house, but wouldn't this lead to shooting? Almost never. Bob and Mike would always (it's pretty logical to assume) lose profitibility by actually coming to blows. The loss of life and subsequent increased labor costs (by being a very hazardous employer) would soon put them out of business.

What to do? Well, in order to avoid bankruptcy, they would have to go to some arbitrator that both agreed upon. As courts and arbitrators are economic goods just like food producers entreprenuers would see profit opportunities in fulfilling the market for justice. Judges and courts that developed the best reputations for fairest arbitration would have the highest profit margins. What soon would happen is taht bodies of rules would develop taht would make this sort of situation moot and pointless. The Bobs of this world simply would lose money and go out of business or change the operating practices of their firms.

As to your Lancaster example the same could be said. The marginal costs for such "smashing" would go as follows: The profits are high enough, through high prices resulting in high profit margins, in which place another corp would buy up terriory to capture said profit potentials and protect their property according to the Jim/Bob narrative. Or the profits margins are not that high in which case the prices are not that high, in fact, probably quite lower than you currently are paying for under government control. It always strikes me as astounding taht people see the government paying for something and then immediately think it's totally free. That's called anthropomorphism or animism.

Here are resources, much more comprehensive than my analysis, detailing the theories of private law enforcement:




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