- Capitalism and Alternatives -


Posted by: Red Deathy ( Socialist party, UK ) on March 22, 1999 at 18:00:53:

In Reply to: Burger King posted by Joel Jacobson on March 22, 1999 at 12:29:16:

: Now you're even misreading Marx. He never thought of value as a theory but as a concept without even any need of justification

Correction, he felt he didn't need to proove it, if it worked, it worked...

:I feel the same way. Value is based upon our internal preference curves and not some metaphysical social value taht is unseen and unmeasured.

OK, I'll leave it at this, at least you accept that tehre is a notion of value, distinct from price, thats all I need.

:The whole "extraction of surplus value" was a sophisticated, and I believe sincere, attempt to derive "ought" from "is".

No, its an answer to a strange paradow- if we are paid teh value of our labour, then when a capitalist sells teh good, he should have no profit, because all he should have if the cost of producing it: since this doesn't happen we must assume we are not paid the value of our labour, but teh value of our labour power as a commodity on the open market. Its not 'ought' but rather 'why'?

: no one person needs any objective valuation system...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.

1: You're confusing use value with exchange value- use values are indeed indivual, unique and multiform, however, exchange is an interpersonal affair, and thus we must use an interpersonal means- teh beauty of money is that it has no quality of its own, except that it is infinitely exchangeable for manydifferent goods.

: 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

I sincerly doubt that it was a capitalistic community, mercantilistic I can beleive, since the vikings were great merchants, and much capitalist ideology is based around its mercantilist roots. Further, I accept that All 'isms' hitherto have been impure, but what you look to is teh 'dominant' system, and we can find some surprisingly sharp breaks twixt different modes of society. I recomend Phillipe Arre's 'The Hour of Our Death' as an example.

: 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.

Right, so capitalists don't in fact spend money to invest in production in roder to create money? In Grundrisse Marx notes that Value appears where price isn't, as an effect of teh negation of price, its 'value' to us lies in explaining teh system that underlies capitalism, and showing its general motions. What you are suggesting is mystifying, irrational solipsism as a replacement for analysis of the real world.

: 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.

Hehehe- thats the best explantation of Hegel's Doctrine of Essence I've ever seen. Congratulations. Oh, and the doctrine of teh identity of opposites. Keep going.

: 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.

Erm, but the crisis was world wide, we blaim OPEC over here. The point is, that capitalism keeps having tehse crises, and NEVER escapes them, and can never eliminate them. And imagine if that crisis had struck under anarcho-capitalism- teh deaths! You should see teh CHart for teh Rate of Profit in G7 countries for teh past fourty years. Noticeably, Germany and France didn't move to Monetarism, and they thrived after '68 and '73.

: 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.

Right, so you admit that monopolies can exist under anarcho-capitalism, thank you.

: 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.

1:So long as that co-ercion exists the vast majority aren't free, hence it can't be a real Anarchy.
2:The whole point of socialism is that it is based around human and social values.

But at least you don't reject teh idea that we are compelled to work for capital.

: 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.

No, its nothing to do with conspriracy- the system requires that the relative poverty. It is not the work of 'evil' conspiratorial capitalists, rather, it is many capitalists working in tehir own interests. you wouldn't call teh Board of GM a conspiracy, would you?

: 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.

OK, I cannot afford to go to teh cinema, (really), that sucks, I can't afford beer, and thus can't go out drinking in company, that sucks. here's your experiment- try living on #5 a week (excluding rent). Or, as another experiement, lets get together, and abolish capitalism,a nd try living co--operatively, without money. See if we feel better for it.

: 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.

I agree, if everyone is poor, then peopel do not feel dehumanised by their poverty. Marx's theories were a social theory.

: 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.

I think that 1.5 million prisoners disguises the unemployement stats a little. Even when Britain had 'Full employement' and had to import carribean workers (hieght of the post-war boom) tehre was still unemployement, in some areas.

: 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.

They don't conspire, simply its the way the system works, should workers become scarce wages start to go up, profits start to fall, and production is cut back until profitability is restored (eitehr that, or workers are replaced by less expensive machines), or immigrants are found. No consipricay there.
I agree on the Values point, but that again shows why Anarcho-Capitalism cannot be a bastion of freedom.

: 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.

It has that effect.

: 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:

I don't make a distinction, as I have said before, the above is exactly my point, except that its human beings that are tret as commodities on teh market, that teh market is anti-human, anti-social. It is important to note that Labour is a commodity just like any other, once we do, a lot of propaganda goes by the way side.

: 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.

Erm, no They are not distinct by the terms of the wage relation, they are distinct based on ownership, or non ownership of the means of living, based on that they enter into all other relationships. However, teh capitalist enters teh relationship as a human, teh workers as a living commodity.

: 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.

But they don't, because a skilled worker sacked at 50 is doomed not to work again, at least not at the old wage. And further, constant revolutionising of teh relations of production leads to constant social upheaval. Would you want to lose your house?

: 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 . . . ; )

Because my arguments are based on a social consciousness, a collective cultural being, even a relatively rich worker is diminished by the system of production. Capitalism is anti-social. We cannot have social justice as long as we have capitalism.

: 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.

Erm, there is a capitalist system. Lets call it the market system- do you beleive the market system exists?

: 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.

Correct, except that Justice Bob has been hired for $1,000, and thus completely walks all over Justice Jim, if only in terms of time avaialable (Bob puts in time times teh hours of law work, jim cannot keep up, continue negotiations, unless the employee pays up). Wealth would out.

: 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.

Except that rich emplyers would still have more money that union agitators, and would win most of their cases.

: 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.

No, all I would need to do would be to spend enough money to make it look an unsound investment to compete with me. And as for government, I'm not talking about money, I'm talking about power, here, and these firsm would become governments without teh slightest hint of democratic contraint.

BTW- The private Law thing doesn't work because it always assumes a law-enforcement firm, should I have , as a Chemical producer capitalist, a private enforcement branch, not in competition with others, I could use lethal force fairly quickly, and efficiently. In fact, its cheaper for me to cut out the middleman.

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