- Capitalism and Alternatives -

Combination vs Competition

Posted by: andy g ( resistance, australia ) on April 15, 1999 at 11:32:06:

Just thought I'd relate some interesting discussions I've been having on the streets while campaigning against capitalism.

There's some liberals who have started some campaigns against both the banks and against multi-nationals or globalisation. I always ask them are they anti-capitalist? Their responses range from "no way!" to being sort of vague and undecided.

A great read is Jack London's "The Iron Heel". One of the ways he argues against petit-bourgeois ideas is via the idea of "combination always being stronger than competition".

Firstly, can we assert this? I think so - and the evidence is that globalisation and monopoly capitalism exist because of this principle - even though the capitalist system is all about competition.

The reason this is an important comcept is that when you're arguing away and you maybe at it for 10 minutes or 4 hours but at the end, they always say (that is if they weren't inspired to join the struggle!):

"socialism/communism a great idea in theory, but it doesn't work in practice." Arggghhh!!!

Now, how do you respond to that?

In the last three years, I must have spoken to maybe 1000 people on this topic. Up until now, I've been talking about how socialism hasn't FAILED yet, it has been DEFEATED (eg Russian Civil War 1918-1921 sowed the seeds of defeat). Socialism has to be won, join the struggle, etc etc etc.

The problem with this, is that I was asking people to choose between making peace with capitalism and joining the struggle for socialism. I was basically saying that co-operation is BETTER than competition.

(it IS but read on anyway!)

As a scientific socialist (Marxist) I've been thinking it might be better to explain that socialism is inevitable if we are to survive as a species (in happiness that is - "The Iron Heel" is certainly a possibility where the ruling class turn to fascism to stay in power).

This is where combination vs competition comes in. People who are against globilisation but not capitalism are basically 'machine breakers' (London's term). A machine breaker is a person who wants to destroy the things that make production easier, and faster, so as to be able to compete more 'fairly'.

When people unite to make things easier (more efficient), this should be supported. But when people are organised in, say, a trans-national corporation (TNC), this is supposedly bad because of the negative aspects of TNC's (monopolies and no nation state controls). Fair enough - the results of this larger combination (TNC) end up in private hands (has Bill Gates reached 100 billion yet?) but the point is combination is stronger.

We've socialised production as this is more efficient, but we haven't socialised the ownership of the means of production (we still live in a class society). People against globilisation but not the institution of private property (capitalism) are walking contradictions. May they resolve their contradictions soon, becuase the world is going down the toilet (the decay of capitalism) and we need all the help we can get.

Someone once said "if you don't struggle, you lose. If you do fight, you might just win."

I say "socialsm - half the fun is getting there."

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