- Capitalism and Alternatives -

More moore essentialism

Posted by: Red Deathy ( Socialist Party, UK ) on March 30, 1999 at 11:35:33:

In Reply to: More essentialism posted by Joel Jacobson on March 29, 1999 at 16:15:14:

OK, where was I, I hope the previous post got through- had problems posting it, if not i'll go back and re-do teh relevent sections, however, on to Loon-Ninny.
:Instead, of conditions determining ideas, ideas determined conditions.

And where did the ideas come from? Where did Lenin's desire for Socialism come from?

Think of it this way- how do you know you are called Joel, why aren't you called Armourofgod Jacobson? Caleb Jacobson? Ivan Jacobson?

If ideas aren't shaped by the world around us- where do they come from? Likewise desire.

: In order for Marx's theory of historical materialism and its socialist culmination to be true then it must first prove itself false. Not very philosophically tenable. Even more evidence against historical materialism.

Why must it prove itself false?

: I've never questioned the fact, merely its relevance. If this division makes me as an individual better off then it's a good thing.

But if it makes thgem worse off? What if someone 'some mute inglorious Milton' is denied the opportunity to use their potential because of teh division of labour? But if you do accept it, then you must accept teh consequent results of that division of labour, namely class, and ideology.

: Isn't that pretty much what I claimed you were saying?

Well, in terms of Bill, I should point out that I understand determine three ways:
I usually use it in a sort of mix of the later two, mostly the third meaning.

: What you're tring to do here is rely on presuppositions taht "social class" is a relevant source of social analysis and then quickly substituting your particular conception of "social class" as the definition of said "classes". Whenever you say "social class" you are making a token reference to "the relation to the means of production".
And from that relationship springs a whole way of life. And in teh ninteenth century it was plain that ones social class came with a relationship to the means of production with it- it was anathema for aristocracy to 'go into trade'. Its quite clear that class differences must rest upon something- and teh only obvious something is the productive system.

: a) taken a commonly used term "social class" that contains certain important connotations relating to social analysis.
: b) have applied your view of "the relationship to the means of production" as determinate to "social class".
: c) brought back the reference to "social class" as a token reference to "the relation to the means of production"
: d) taken the nominal and instrumental reference "social class" and twisted it into a meaning that supports your particular viewpoints and opinions.

No, I've looked at class, how it manifests itelf in teh world, and then sought out a cause for it. Or was it just post hoc ergo propter hoc that all aristocrats owned vast stretches of Land, that capitalists wwere in trade, that working class folk were waged, that peasants worked their lords and own land?

: All you've done is proclaim you particular conception of "social class" as the definition of "social class". I can never disprove this as it's merely your token reference as gleaned from your particular opinions. Okay, then "social class", using your definition, is largely irrelevant to social analysis. so, let's quite talking about irrelevant things, shall we?

1:You can disprove it, if you find another method of delineating class, there are several.- Income type (the ol' ABC's thang), by consumption, by genetics- your choice.
2:Why is it irrelevent to social analysis? Eh? Peoples material interests depend upon their relationbship to the means of production (else how do they eat?), people's lives depend upon whether they are waged or not- how can it be irrelevent, because yousay so?

People enter into the relations of production (i.e. human relations) on the basis of their relationship to the means of production. How can that be irrelevent?

: "Master" is a definition of your particular mind. I completely understand your particular mind's particular conception of it but fail to see its relevance ot either myself or most others for any sort of "social class" referenced by your particular mind.

Master signifier is a technical term- Gold used to be the master signifer of money (or silver), the signifier which affixes meaning, which is itself without slippage of meaning. And agin, why can you see no use? Surely, since everyone relies upon their means of getting food, its pretty samned important?

: Yes, this is completely true. And why, in my opinion, workers such as myself are treated much better than workers 200 years ago. But you are still not advocating any sort of positive social course of action.

Such as yourself, perhaps, workers in Mexico, or in other undeveloped nations aren't as lucky, and I know of enough workers getting badly screwed over here. My positive source of actions is to abolish the wages system, as I may have noted, so that people's livlihoods aren't probne to teh vicissitudes of the labour market.

: This is a common misconception most have of Marx. He particularly ridiculed the Malthusians who thought this very thing. High wages do cause unemployment if wages rise faster than worker productivity.

Not in the short term, but in the longer run, since they have cut into profits, and these days probably exacerbated a consumer boom, it would cause unemployement.

:But historically wages have pretty much kept in line with productivity. Where Marx's concpetion of "crises" comes from most modern economists, myself included, are quite mystified. Marx's economic analysis was right on par with the earliest marginalists (i.e. Menger and vBawerk) in its analysis of how prices manifest themselves. I can only think one thing:

Well, its pretty much the contradiction that capitalism is predicated upon scarcity, or another way, is tied to the law of no profit no demand- that is that the sum of production cannot exceed available marketable wealth, unfortunately, since wages come out of profits, and must be kept low, the consumption of workers is necessarilly constrained. Since competition forces producers to produce more and ever more, eventually they exceed this effective demand, and the market mnust constrict, temporelli, in order to reassert scracity.

: Marx thought that cyclical expansions and contractions, which broaden, not deepen, would bring wide dissatisfaction with private property and other functions that socialists equate with "capitalism". He thought workers would band together and establish "socialism", thus, doing away with "exploitation" and the business cycle. Additionally, Marx's conception of the reasons for the crises remain dubious. Much of the business cycle can be traced directly to poor monetary policy on the part of central governments and politicians who gain directly from this monetary policy.

Erm, the thirties slump hit all countries, regardless of policy. further, much different policies were purseud in the nineteenth century, and further, why is there a pattern to slumps and crises? Why is it regular?

: Further, due to inconsistencies in the labor market (e.g. language barriers) and political machinations some sort of business cycle might be expected. But, "regular crises" just doesnt' seem to bear out, unless the term is utilized in a ridiculously loose sense. Frankly, Marx's prophecy regarding the coming of "socialism" just doesn't bear out from his hypothesis of historical materialism.

The thirties hit world wide, '68 and '73 were world wide, UK productivity for the past forty years has pegged US productivity, almost exactly, up and down, in tandum. Marx missed some of the escape routes (Britain exported 10% of it workforce in teh 1880's to escape a slump). We're yet to see if he's right.

: Again, in order for "socialism", as Marx construed it, to come about, then historical materialism must be false.

You've not proved that at all.

: concept of your particuloar mind which can be neither proven or disproven; it is based upon your particular viewpoint, for which I can never present evidence against, or you for.

Yes you can, you can show that the relationships I describe don't exist, or you can show that this relationship has no bearing on someone's life, life expectancy, educational attainment, culture or values.

: All I'm saying is that 'the wage relation' is grossly unable to give a comprehensive social analysis.

But you never say *why*.

:Deriving from this, if you want to keep on applying 'wage relation' as the basis of "social class" then said class is mostly irrelevant. Okay, then let's get off this "social class" (token reference: wage relation) stuff and get on to ideas about how we can change our world for the better.

Social class is only the *beginning* of social analysis. At this level its mostly an indicator of trends.

: More evidence of the complete nominalism (anti-essentialism) of productive and relevant "social class"analysis. "Capitalism" is not a Hegelian essence (which cannot be proven anyway). No, references to "capitalism", by most, are completely token labels applied nominally to convey ideas to others. This particular word could cease to exist tomorrow and my ideas would remain unchanged. I do suspect taht you'd be in a quandry until you guys came up with a new term and developed it into a reference with the "loaded" connotations conveyed by "capitalism".

All the above paragraphs says is that 'Capitalism' is a word.
: Which is waht I just said only without all the verbiage. I
No, relationship to means of production is slightly broader than 'wage relation' or relations of production, and it is rooted in empirically verifiable activity.

:understand your particular conception; however, I'm looking for tools to analyze society and introduce social change, and your particular mind's definition of "social class" simply does not provide such a tool. We can go on refering to "social class" as determined by the "relation to the means of production". But, then, "social class" would be largely irrelevant for social analysis.

For the love of Bob! *WHY?* It provides a powerful tool, and a good schematic by which to begin analsysis.

: And this is simply deductive reasoning from faulty premeses (i.e. historical materialism). And your particluar references to "superiority of the rich, inferiority of the poor, the need to keep on the bosses good side, seniority, wage differentials, contempt for the unemplyed" are references your particular mind constructs to supports your "exploitation" theses.

But these are ideas in common currency (or actual practises, such as keeping on your Bosses good side- I mean, how many people hate their boss and want to tell them where to get off?) and spring from these relations.

: Any one of these social interactions can be construed differently than does your particular mind. I "keep on the bosses good side" because I like my boss (I've liked all my bosses) and want a work environment where I can have fun with people I genuinely enjoy working with.

I was referring to circumstances where one doesn't like ones boss, and must remain on his good side. regardless, its a bad idea to get on their bad side.

: When you decry "keeping on the bosses good side" as evidence of somthing wrong you are foisting your particular opinions upon the rest of us.

OK, man, try this scientific experiment:
1:Piss your boss off, insult them, whatever.
2:Find out how unemployement feels.

: And they're not. When capitalist A outbids capitalist B for labor the wage relation phenomenon described actually works in reverse to your hypothesis. When the tort system rewards ridiculous damages to people for minor grievances against businesses this is not analyzable from your "social classes". And, please, don't go on about the legal class (another nominal social class, really) existing for the organization of "the ruling class". The only foundation you have for this claim would be deduction from the hypotheses of historical materialism which is also simply a claim by Marx but without any evidence of primacy, and, about which I have shown ample evidence refuting. "The relation to the means of production" simply possesses no evidence as claim for the primacy of all social analysis.

*Sigh* Any claim against bosses would be considered too high by some. Capitalists only bid for workers in rare circumstances (such circumstances are covered by the theory). Give me an analysis of such a tort case, and teh Legal practise and teh law behind it, and we'll see- the legal system is predicated upon certain ideas about property and individuality which suit it to teh interests of one class over another, but I've not read enough to make any detailed commentary- make a post about such tort cases and I'll discuss it.

: Good, we agree. But it doesn't change the essentialist notion of your particular "wage relation" conception.

Well, of course in cases where the wife was entirely dependant upon the husbands wage... ;)

: So, what. You still haven't proven that this means they have to do one thing or another. Wihtin any society we have to "work in order to eat". You have added the word "capitalist" in order to change the analysis but it remains pretty much the same: "working for capitalists in order to eat" is equivalent to "working in order to eat". If "working for capitalists" makes me better off than "working" then you have made absolutely no point about the relevance of "social class" or anything else.

But they don't have to work in ordfer to eat- which is exactly the point, and its the 'work for capitalists' which puts in a condition, a barrier to eating, which means it can be denied us. having to 'work for' defines our position in life and in society, and makes the difference between us and a hunter gatherer society. Working for a capitalist may make you better off, today, but for society in general,a nd for many others, it makes them worse off. Being the slave of a good owner was better for American Black slaves than working for a bad owner, but slavery was still bad- and being a slave was always better than a prison.

Being porr shortens your life, harms educational prospects, damages self esteem and social life, I am about examining the causes of poverty.

If you had to work a plot of land to eeek your living, would you consider that relevent? Why is it irrelevent if you must sell your labour power to a capitalist?

: What are you going to claim next? That food coerces you into having bowel movements. I mean B (bowel movements) do follow from A (eating food).

No, but if I needed someones permission to shit I'd be unhappy about it...

: Not unless you show how it means something relevant. People every day go to work, put in their eight hours, and go home and forget about it until tomorrow.

Which itself is a significant sociological fact, why do folk want to foet eight hours of their lives every day?

: Tell them they're exploited and they'll laugh at you. Tell them they should give up half their current well-being in order to be "liberated" and they'll think you a dangerous nutcase. Again, your analysis is analytically true given your premises, but entirely irrelevant when applied common-sensically.

Most don't luagh at me actually. And I'm not asking them to give up any well being, add to it, yes, but not give it up. You still haven't proven irrelevency.

: No,,,,it,,,,,wasn't. And I gave several more, too, in this post. I can produce a wealth of such as several history books have been written with the purpose of discrediting historical materialism. History does not show one-to-one relationships between changes in the modes of production. Europe was christianized without such and Islam swept across the Middle-East in the same manner.

Erm, theres book suggesting Christianity was rather good for Kings in certain areas,a nd a lot of conversions had political reasons...
All you're trying to disproove is the mechanical version of Marxism. And yes your example was wrong, Holland was prtestant in the 17th Century, as was England.

: Historical political movements in China moved across the landscape without any such changes in productive processes. And let's say there actually was a one-one relationship. You still couldn't prove primacy. Do you want me to go on?

I don't have to proove primacy, per se, merely that a conflict between the two causes massive social disruption, and that since productive relations predate the idnividual, their actiosn will necessarilly be constrained by them.

: It ends up being the same thing. Instead, of having to prove an essence exists you just have to say it's "becoming" or "a movement" and, voila, you don't have to prove anything. So, you've gone from Platonic essentialism to Hegelian essentialism. Big deal, it's still the same old essentialist, metaphysical mysticism.

Except if we materialise Hegel, what it becomes is an idea in our minds, gleaned from reality, which I'm sure you can't dispute being reasonable.

: BTW - this is what I was refering to with my "after Kant" comment, taht offended you on another post. Before Kant, philosophers tried all sorts of elaborate reasoning to prove metaphysical essences. After Kant, they didn't even bother to apply reason but simply created systems with the option that individuals could "take it or leave it". such was Hegel's and Marx's. Yours and Hegel's claims of essences, becoming, negation, and such are completely your metaphysical speculation. Pretty much like Liebnez, et al, sans the attempts at providing allegorical reasons. I can never disprove your assertions as they are entirely based upon you particular opinions; but, unfortunately, you obfuscate your opinions by referring to them as facts. This makes it quite hard to dialog and produce reasonable results.

I can be disprooved by you demonstrating that what I claim takes place doesnot take place, that my categories are false, that my deductions are fualty. Anyway, I'll e-mail you on this point anotehr time- it might help if we share a text, and I think I've foun one to go over together....

: You are trying to sneak in the M-C-M analysis which simply relates to your particluar value system and is not some objective analysis. Basically, the M-C-M analysis says taht the worker's don't get the full benefit of their labor and this just is simply a value judgement of yours, which I can neither confirm or deny. But, of which, I disagree.
Do you accept that capitalists spend, or invest money, only in order to make more money? Isn't that the basic premise of a capitalists? DOn't all capitalists, including our friends in Mesowhatevia, spend money, only to make more money? Do, or does not, this empirically verifiable action take place? Do capitalists invest capital, or not? Reagrdless of how the extra money is generated, is that true or not?

: While analytically true, it is of minimal relevance to social analysis. So, let's stop talking about things of minimal relevance and, instead, advocate real policy decisions that will make a difference in today's real world. Shall we?

Well, if you do accept it, doesn't it allow us to identify capitalists, and try and examine their interests,a dn their activity? I mean, if M-C-M weren't true, then teh Law of No Profit No Production wouldn't be true, and then we'd be in a different ball game. M-C-M contains no value judgements, no points about Surplus value, nothing except capitalists spening money, in order to make more money.

: Additionally, "the means of production" refers to anything that adds to social value. This includes asset allocation, distribution, labor, ascertaining consumer's desires, etc. But I've covered all this in a post I'm making the same day as this one. When you say "means of production" you are falling into the same problem that the classical economists did. They limited their analysis to widgets in a make-believe world with social value already assumed. In reality, anything that adds to social value is a part of the process of producting that same social value.

The means of production is anything I can use as a means by which to procude an object, use values (which I assume equates with social value) is a factor, but means means a means to an end, if the end is a commodity, its a means fo producion. You're mistaking production process for the means of production.

We really must start making shorter posts man...

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