- Capitalism and Alternatives -


Posted by: Nikhil Jaikumar ( Eviction Free Zone, Massachusetts, USA ) on March 29, 1999 at 15:02:29:

In Reply to: Quicky. posted by Red Deathy on March 25, 1999 at 14:39:34:

Ashish: In the Communist Manifesto, Karl Marx describes ten steps towards establishing Communism. The ten tenets of Communism, taken directly from the Communist Manifesto, are listed below, along with my analyses, views and comments.

Red: Actually, I think you'll find in Engels' Prefface to the English Edition of the Manifesto, a repudiation of those 'reforms'- they were in fact written with the revolutionary situation in Germany of 1848 in mind, as such they represent a policy of the working class suing state power to establish capitalism in 'backwards' Germany. Later communists repudiated those dmands, and recognised them as the transitory policies they were, so you'll forgive me if I skil them, because they are no longer relevent.

A: About the abolition of child labour. Marx is specifically talking about the child labour of his times. But we may consider child labour conditions to have not changed significantly. In theory, I agree with the abolition of child labour; but in practise, is it not better for a child to work and at least earn enough to survive, than to die of starvation due to lack of employment?

R: Erm, surely teh point is to abolish such threats of poverty so that they don't need to work.

N: Also, no evidence suggests that children hired by slavemasters or factory owners are any better off starvation-wise than those who don't.

R: look, the Goal of communists is not in those demands, they were, in Trotsky's later term 'transitional demands'- the demands of Communism is that we abolish property, and hold all the goods of society in common, fully democratically controlled, and with the Abolition of Money.

N: Actually, Red, I would regard the 10 Points to be a major step forward, and I would be satisfied if we as a society could accomplish them. As Nehru said, democracy and socialism are merely means to an end, the end being human happinness. If we can achieve human happineness, then I don't really care that much whether every factory and field is commonly owned.

: : In communism, those wanting to practise capitalism cannot do so, because the former is based on the concept of controlling others' actions, which is absurd in itself. On what basis do the advocators of communism ascribe to themselves the right to arbitrarily control and restrict the actions of others?

: But isn't capitalism based on exactly that premise, except the control occurs in the form of getting others to work for you.

N: Not only this. What gievs capitalists the right to arrogate to themselves certain goods produced by society, when it can be shwon taht they do not contribute a necessary input (except insofar as they act as technicians or engineers). If I go and jerk off in front of an auto factory then does that mean I have helped to amke the car? No, nor does the capitalist who merely contributes money.

: : "From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs."

: : Firstly, about the part regarding each person working/contributing according to his needs.

: No, you're misunderstanding the second point 'to each according to their needs' means that everyone recieves the food, clothes, housing and goods they need, they do not recieve according to how much money they have, or according to their rank nor title. They do not recieve according to their work- an Invalid who cannot work still needs food and clothing. Likewise, back to child poverty, Children will not need to work, because they would recieve enough for their needs.

: :No one should be forced to work more than he desires.

: EXACTLY! I entirely agree. And with the Abolition of the wages system, work would become entirely voluntary.

N: Well, I question this. Somehow I think that some jobs are unpleasant, no one really wants to do them. Cleaning bathrooms, for example. the only way you can get people to clean bathrooms is to 1) create a class of professional bathroom cleaners, which is a degrading lifestyle or 2) demand that everyone cleans bathrpooms, let's say, 1 day a month. The secodn seems fairer to me, speaking as one who has a part-time job in college cleaning bathrooms.

: :Doesn't how much he wants to work matter more than how much he can work? There are people who simply do not like working, for their own reasons (whatever they may be). It is completely irrational to apply this communist ideal, which would entail forced labour of such people.

: No one never works, what most people don't like is employement, being forced to work for an employer, with voluntary work, everyone can find something they can do for their fellows, including acting, writing, washing the dishes, cleaning teh house, making food- most people's hobbies are work.

N: Interesting. i hadn't thought of taht. Voluntary labor has certainly worked spectacularly on occasion, e.g. teh contruction of the Kaya railroad in Burkina Faso, also look at America's all-volunteer military. But Red, are you willing to bet teh future of society on teh premise that everyone is willing to work? Isn't that a bit reckl;ess?

: :Also, one almost never works at one's maximum capacity, except in emergencies, etc. And no one would like to be forced to work using his reserve force all the time. Besides all this, there is the simple difficulty of deciding who will determine each individual's ability.

: Each individual would determine their ability, and how much work they can do, under voluntaristic labour.

We'll see if this works. I still have an open mind...

: : Turning to the part about each getting enough as his needs. Why should a hard worker have to part with his justly earned wealth to satisfy a lazy man's desires?

: Because that worker will only have worked hard because they wanted to, because they enjoyed that work in itself, and because they could. lazy folk would be disliked.

N: More to the point, because he has human rights as a human being. We are entitled to the necessities of existence, regardless of anything else.

: : This would mean that the state, in other words the ordinary taxpayer, would be compelled to take on the financial burden of all people not generating enough wealth to earn their living, through their choice or otherwise.

: 1:Communism means the abolition of money, also the abolition of Taxes, therefore, and actually of the state, Once , when asked out of Sixty Million Germans how many owuld be members of the state, Marx replied 60 million.

N: yes, the public ("state") must provide for them, if it wants to eb called a civilized institution. The dog-eat-dog world went out with the australopithecines, we are humans and not dogs.

: : However, simple logic will lead to the conclusion that since they don't work, they cannot earn a living, and hence must either die, or survive on the charity of others. Do they have the right to demand from working, contributing members of society, enough wealth for their existence?

N: Who decdies who "contributes" to society? You? Me? Red? As afr as I can see, the capitalists contribute nothing to society, an immigrant grape-picker in California provides more of a useful service than DuPont, he is an honest worker and should be rewarded by teh government. "Working to support oneself" has no meaning, since it si dependednt on teh arbitrary price the market sets on your labopr. the value of one's labor should be determiend rationally, not by teh irrational mechanism of the market.

: What if they are sick, or disabled? People are entitled to a share in the communal wealth. Its about ending charity, which usually comes with disgusting moralistic strings attatched, and setting everyone up as a member of society. no-one would not work, because not working means not being a part of society, and means utter tedium.

N: No, charity si good, charity will always be necessary, even in a socialist state. To resttae my old example, if hurricane A hits commune B then commune C must be charitable....

: : But state sponsored morality is hypocrisy. The state should not, and justly cannot, force the worker to part with his earnings so as to support non-earning people.

N: No. "Non-earning" cannot be defined by teh amrket, also the state has a duty to be moralistic. Why is it OK for teh capitalist to take part of the workers' produce but not OK for the government?

: But it wouldn't because tehre would be no state, and no taxes, no earning.

N: There will be no State, but tehre will be a government of democratic working people.

: :i.e. when each individual will want to work in proportion to his ability, and each individual's work will generate enough wealth so as earn for him enough to satisfy his needs (material as well as otherwise); then society will have achieved an ideal state of development.

: That is exactly what the idea means, and we can do it.

N: No, we cannot rely on each workers' labor to support himself, because the market rewards workers irrationally and arbitrarily.

: : This is my one of my basic grudges against Communism: that it denies the basic human right to own property, and do what you like with it, which is a very essential right of all people.

: No, as they also point out in the same section, they are only abolitioning the Bourgeois conception of property- once property is abolished, everyone will own everything- the commune would have no claim to your tooth brush, but it is right that property upon which we all depend, like factories, should be owned commonly.

N: Correct, also no one is denying teh capitalist the right to profit by hsi won labor, we are denying him teh right to hire and exploit otehrs in an overlord relationaship. society can ahve no superiors and inferiors.

: For instance, you would not 'own' your home, except in the sense that it is the place where you live, and thatb people should respect that,a nd recognise it as 'your house'. property becomes bad when it is used negatively, to deny people use- if you owned a house you didn't live in, is it right to deny its use to a hoimeless person? No. You would have 'property' in the sense of the use of goods, but not property in the sense of denying people the use of goods.

N: Very true.

: : Communism assumes, and wrongfully so, that by earning anything, particularly property, through his own labour, more than he has at that time, he is denying another from similarly earning, and thus improving his life conditions.

N:No, the pie is not a fixed size, but it is finite. It can grow but only up to a point, as it grown tension for resources increases. The economy si a balloon, it acn stretch but only up to a limit. Money has value only because it si exclusive, thsi si why inflation drives prices down.

: But most property is not owned by them as 'earned it', much property is stolen, gained by force, deception, or exploitation.

N: Correct

: : This is another basic (warped) assumption of Communism: that there is only so much wealth in the world or nation

: Communism does not hold that. The workers create the wealth, but the owners of the factories expropriate the wealth, we want all the created wealth to be shared out. The exploiters only own teh means of production, teh means of making wealth, and can use this ownership to make them as own nothing work for them, and make wealth for them.

N: See balloon analogy above.

: : Anyone wanting more wealth has simply to work enough to generate it for himself.

: But them as work hard merely make more wealth for others to enjoy, that they cannot enjoy themselves.
: : This is another mistake Communists make: they equate capital with capitalists. Whereas this is not justified. Capital is simply money, one of the essential factors of production. It can be owned by anyone, not just by big industrialists.

: No, capital is money invested in production, money spent to make more money, and anyone who lives through spending money to make more money, whose living comes simply from ownership of factories, is a cpairtalist.

N: Yes, this is why "state capitalism" is not capitalism, teh produce is used for teh good of teh public and not for profit. How can you ahve capitalism without capoitalists? State capitalism is far superior to teh private kind.

: : The whole purpose of work is to increase capital; the issue is whose. This is the root trouble: - Communists consider capital to be basically bad. What they seemingly don't realise is that no economy can run without capital. They assume that any capital belongs automatically to the capitalists. State owned capital is, however, still capital.

Yes, but it's nonprofit capital, hence the difference.

: Correct, hence communists talk of state capitalism, but in a society without money, the only capital would be human capital, the labour of the people.

: : There is a mistake made here: it is the labourers' labour that is a commodity, not the labourers themselves.

: Marx actually says that in 'Capital', we well our Labour power, not ourselves, hwoever, we cannot seperate ourselves from our labour power, and so must tag along with it while it works.

: : Machinery has been invented, developed and used for good of mankind. By its very definition, machines are made and used either to (a) increase the speed of production, thereby finishing more word in the same amount of time, and (b) to increase the quality of the produce. Particularly in today's context, with the world population being what it is, it is irrational to want to try and do without the aid of machines. Division of labour is equally necessary, for self-evident reasons.

: We don't want to do away with machines, we want to do away with a relationship to machines, whereby folk are impoverished, rather than enriched, by their introduction, rather than m,aking work easier, machines have increased work for some,a nd increased unemployemnt for others.

: :However, times have changed, and world worker conditions have definitely changed drastically for the better. For instance, contrary to popular opinion, according to Mr Morita, many assembly line workers find their job quite interesting and challenging.

: And children sewing footballs for nike enjoy it? Children blowing their hands of making fireworks enjoy it- in some area Capitalists have realised that moral is an important part of work,a nd have improved consitions, in others we still have the same conditions as Nineteenth century England.

N: Uh, no, let's be honest here. I wouldn't ever work for a boss if I had my druthers, while I would work for a government taht i ahd helped elect. Would you really do differently?

: : Today, because of technology, even factory workers have to be educated and able to specialise, have to learn more skills and faster. The education of labour will increase their so-called cost of production. However, I beg to disagree with Marx; the price of a commodity is not equal to its cost of production, since commodities are sold for a profit.

: No, thats the whole point: the profit on selling a commodity is thedifference between the value of the workers labour power as a commodity, and the Value of the work they do (So if my skills are worth 3,a nd I do work worth 10, the capitalist is pocketing the rest.) we are paid the value of our skills on the labour market (as a commodity, as you ahve admitted above) and not the value of the work we do.

: : Of course, in the beginning, this cannot be effected except by means of despotic inroads on the rights of property,

: No, it can be done democratically, because teh working class is teh majority.

: : By saying this, Marx has in effect admitted that the action he is advocating here is (a) neither correct nor justifiable; exactly as he has himself said here, the Communists' abolition of private property is despotic, which is what Communism is

: By despotic he means not giving the Owners a say in the matter, just as the capitalist rule our society undemocratically (Liberal democracy being insufficient in many areas). Simply the vast majority of people cease to recognise bourgeois property rights.

N: Despotic only compared to an ideal system, democratic when compared with the bourgeois system.

: ; and (b) not going to be appreciated by a large section of the society, or at least by a substantial minority. By admitting this, he is actually establishing the fact that he has no right to take the action he is saying should be taken.

N: No, he has a moral right, jsutified by eternal and immutable Human Rights, law, divine authroiuty, whatevre. Transecndent truths and rights exist, stoning homosexuals is not right even if the amjority decides in afvor of it, nor is exploiting child labor.

: Actually, Marx says, somewhere nearby that comment, that it must be the action of the working class itself, or 'the immense majority acting in the interests of the immense majorty.'

: : Now if the change under contemplation is so drastic as that of one to a Communist State, then in my opinion, the number of people required to want the change should be very, very high, perhaps even 100%. This is because as I said earlier, this system controls others' actions; if all private property is to be abolished, then it is logical to think that all should have to agree for that to happen.

No way, the exploited calss support is enough.

: So we should give capitalists a vetoe, I think not, but there are people in India wanting to make the change to Socialism/Communism through the legislatures:

: World Socialist Party (India)
: 257 Baghajitan 'E' Block (East), Calcutta, 700 086, India

: And you can find out more about their,a nd ours', Ideas, at our Website.

N: No, don't follow teh WSM, join the CPI (M), they''ve done a great jpob in Kerala, if I moved to India I would join them.

: : Secondly, it will follow and adhere to the principles of democracy. Democracy is the most just and the best political system, since, as already mentioned, it gives the maximum amount of freedom to the maximum number of people. Democracy stands for basic human values like equality, liberty, justice and maximum participation in political processes- 'government of the people, by the people and for the people'.

: Which is not liberal democracy, which is government by some people, for the people, which is different.

Leberal democracy si a loose term, call it Bourgeois Democracy as opposed to People's or Participatory Democracy.

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