- Capitalism and Alternatives -

One more feather to go

Posted by: Joel Jacobson ( none, USA ) on April 08, 1999 at 13:25:08:

In Reply to: 5 ways to pluck a chicken OR more on the opinion/fact posted by Copenhagen on April 06, 1999 at 11:08:28:

: I have just scanned some of Joel's more recent posts, in them, he denies that words like 'exploitation', 'clean environment', 'sustainability' etc can be used meaningfully in thwe debating forum. They are he says creatures of 'mere personal opinion'. I must admit that i fail thew see the cogency of his argument. I will say why in the whirlwind tour of linguistic philosophy that follows.

This is not quite my argument. I do think words like sustainability can be used in conjunction with socially meaningful arguments . . . however, they require human beings giving value judgements. Where I took issue was with those using such terms and then simply waltzing past them as if "clean" were a specific measureable standard found in nature without any human value systems defining it. And as my post goes on I think you'll see that you and I are not so far apart.

: For our purposes, there are two types of objectivity that that a descriptive sentence can have (i think i read this in a book by John Greenwood, though whether he is the originator of this, i know not):
: 1) linguistic objectivity
: 2) epistemic objectivity

: A description will be linguistically objective if it makes a claim about an entity and attributes properties to it. So the description will be true or false or accurate or inaccuratte according to if the entity has the attributes described.

: So the sentence 'Joel is being exploited' will be true iff joel is actually being exploited.

Maybe so. But many here have already explicitly stated their approval of propaganda, and, thus, pretty much any language they use will be of a solely personal, and not social, nature.

: A description will be epistemically objective if its truth or falsity can be determined either rationally or empirically. Mathematical descriptions are obviously epistemically objective as their truth or falsity can be determined frok deduction from self evident axioms and rules of derivation.

: 'Joel is being exploited' is epistemically objective as it can be empirically evaluated whether Joel is actually being exploited.

Okay, I know there have been many posts to read in this debate on exploitation. So, I'll give you a rundown. I don't even accept the term as having any validity outside of individuals exploiting other individuals, and in this sense I do not think I am capable of being exploited at all. However, if I were to somehow trick a severely handicapped person into performing work for me on a regular basis then I would consider that "exploitation".

But, the exploitation most are referring to here is derived in this manner:
a) the M-C-M analysis, something I consider prima facie true, but completely misleading and even intellectually dishonest when combined with
b) the concept that all value comes from labor; this arrogates "value" to the application of physical movement to material goods. And this I will never accept, and here's why: Let's say we have two people. Currently, they are producing one apple each. Now, let's say one of them discovers a new way of producing apples and is able to hire the other to work for him. The new mode of production allows the "worker to produce 20 apples with the same amount of labor as in the old mode of production, and the two come to an agreement that they will split the total product produced. Let's say additionally that in the agreement the new capitalist acquires from the new worker his plot of land and owns all the land. The "capitalist can choose to either work the same amount as before, and with this agreement he will net 30 apples to the worker's 10 apples.

But has the worker been "exploited"? The term "exploitation" when we look at the more detailed definitions refers to a relationship where one person loses at the expense of another. This certainly has not taken place. And, additionally, we have prima facie shown now that not all "value" is produced by labor except under the following analysis:

a) all value is produced by labor
b) therefore, if we apply labor in the "like" amounts we produce "like" value
c) now in the before and after scenario we have exerted the same amount of labor
d) therefore, 20 apples = 1 apple; a hopelessly ridiculous conclusion.

But, still most in this room dogmatically adhere to this M-C-M analysis of conclusion and, thus, "explotation" no longer has any argumentative or informative nature (these are the social functions of language) and simply represents the subjective psychological disposition of the speaker. Add to this the tentative nature of our ability to know our own psychological states and we have a completely non-public use of language. At that point we all might as well pack up and go home as we are not longer having a meaningful social dialog but simply babbling to each other.

: Here the meaning of the word 'exploited' is derived from conventions of linguistic usage.

We wholeheartedly agree, it appears, on the conventional nature of, but only of, socially meaningful language. However, in it's usage on this room the word "exploited" has been twisted beyond any socially meaningful usage and simply is a public manifestation of a psychological inner state of the person speaking this word.

: We can all look to the relevant data and see if what is being done to Joel actually measures up to the social meaning of 'exploited'. Of course we may not all agree as to what makes for exploitation, the use of the term not being subject to different degrees of understanding. But there is intersubjective meaning, if there was not, i could not say 'exploited' and have you understand anything meaningful by my utterance.

Yeah, I think by referring back to the socially meaningful usage of "exploitation" we might be able to salvage this word. But, terms like "socialism" and "capitalism" were expressly designed as propaganda terminology and have as much socially informative or arguemenative relevance as terms like "kike" or "nigger".

: Now to get back to what was said in the debate room, we can esablish by an examination of the evidence whether something constitutes 'exploitation' or a 'clean environment'. Whether these things are so is not just a question of a personal opinion, but are in fact open to rational debate via an assessment of the evidence avaliable.

I hope so. But it won't happen as long as many here continue to apply ridiculous and logically untenable references to words such as "exploitation". To the majority of us, and etymologically speaking, "exploitation" only refers to a situation where one particular person benefits on an on going basis because another particular person lost out and, addtionally, underhanded or uneven conditions existed. If one of these requirements is missing than the term is being misused and possesses no social relevance, but is merely an external manifestation of an internal psychological state. Going back to my "handicapped" example as this case representated a pure transfer of benefit from one person to another under uneven conditions, however, if it only occur one time I would consider the term "exploited" as sounding unnatural or forced and use the word "trick", instead.

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