- Capitalism and Alternatives -

It offers the possibility of democratic control

Posted by: Samuel Day Fassbinder ( Citizens for Mustard Greens, USA ) on April 18, 1999 at 16:41:19:

In Reply to: Why Is The Government So Great? posted by R. Jenkins on April 17, 1999 at 10:12:50:

: : 1) Eventually we will have no planners, that's what worker self-management means. Burkina Faso, Yugoslavia, Nicaragua, etc. provide some instructive examples.

: I don't know a lot about third world countries, so I can't argue there, except to say that these are third world countries, so I wouldn't be pointing at them as success stories.



-slogan of the Ministry of Truth in George Orwell's 1984

Actually, NJ was talking about worker self-management. They're doing a similar thing with Total Quality Management, in thoroughly-industrialized countries. Is that bad? Or is it only okay because TQM has become a standard work culture in many corporations?

: : 2) there is no evidence that collectively run farms would be less efficient at producing food. India's food productivity went up in the decades following independence, in spite of (or perhaps because of?) land reform. Even the US has on occasion defended land reform, so I really wouldn't try and defend the estate / cash crop mode of production, it puts you in some very bad company. (Salvadoran death squads, Pakistani slaveholders, etc.)

: I wouldn't defend forcing collectivley owned farms, it puts you in some bad company(China, the USSR, etc.).

SDF: I wouldn't defend forced industrialization either, it puts you in the same company, since both of the above countries used force to introduce electricity into their countries' frontiers. Does that mean that industrialization is itself an inherently bad thing? Think carefully...

: I'm not arguing about the actual production of food, I'm arguing about creating more wealth/seeds with that food. Without generating wealth from that food, you will only have enough for one growing season, then you'll be out of luck. People farming solely for themselves is kinda absurd, since we had that little industrial revolution, don't you agree?

SDF: People farming for themselves means a certain amount of autonomy. Autonomy, for those too young to remember it, is the freedom from having certain powerful others fuck with your life. There's something to be said for controlling one's own destiny in the face of globalist economics -- it's for instance something I would ideally like to have. In the future, perhaps, people will farm only for Monsanto, since Monsanto will own the patent on the seeds.

Oh yes, and BTW, there's no guarantee that this "industrial revolution" thing will promise the utopia of prosperity forever. After all, there is such a thing as "carrying capacity." Please read the attached links here.

: : :The people that own places worked very hard to get them,

: : Hahahahaha! so i suppose the workers who slave away in the hot sun aren';t working hard, while the landowners are breaking their backs in air-conditioned comfort. tell you what, why don't you try a stint as a grape picker in california and then tell me if it's an easy, jerk-off job. There is no justifianble reason why the bourgeois elite should jhave sole ownership of the emans of production, exacting a profit while contributing nothing to the production of the good.

: I'm not saying that the farmers don't work hard, but many a time the one of the farmers owns the farm.

SDF: Why shouldn't ALL the farmers own ALL the farms?

: There is no reason that we should create a lower class elite

SDF: "Lower class elite" is an oxymoron, here being used in defense of the "upper class elite," which is a redundancy. What is it, Jenkins? Are some people inherently better than others, thus deserving a better life chance?

: to screw up the process of farming etc. Even if the head guy doesn't actually produce the good, he doesn't pocket the profit. Revenues go to paying the workers etc, profit goes to improving a facility, buying new equiptment, giving the workers a raise, etc. Profit is not a bad thing.

SDF: Profit goes to extending control over the system when it is placed in the hands of capitalists. This isn't a "bad thing," much as Marx wouldn't criticize capitalism as "bad" and in fact praised it as "good" for replacing the precapitalist systems in (for instance) India. It's just the logic of capitalism, it deserves neither praise nor condemnation.

: : : and the government stealing it and dividing it up IS theft.

: : Loaded terms, i could just as well say that the capitalist stealling a portion of the workers' labor, in teh form of profit, is commiting an act of theft. In fact, I think i will. Property is tehft, but some forms of property ownership are mroe unjust and unfair than others, e.g. capitalism.

: Ahh, ol' whats his name, the commie anarchist(oxymoron?). If property is theft, then the lower class which you so admire is also stealing from us upper and middle bastards.

SDF: To a much lesser extent. We're not fools, we know the curve of the distribution of wealth in capitalist countries.

: The reason that the lower class doesn't want property to be legal is because they wan't what the upper and middle class have, without having to climb the ladder.

SDF: The current system grants enormous advantages to some and disadvantages to others, in the "ability" to be born to fortunate parents, in the ability to get a good education, to get a loan, to get past the various "glass ceilings" limiting promotion to certain classes of people, to avoid entanglement in the legal system, to be in a business with the possibility of promotion. There is no simple "ladder" that more than a few people have the opportunity to climb, and since the majority of the people have to accept working-class roles under any possible arrangement of a class system, anyway, defense of the class system is self-fulfilling at best.

: Again, profit is not pocketed, it goes back into the business.

SDF: Profit becomes part of the process of capitalist accumulation, whereby the rich extend their control over all of society. The rich are such benevolent overlords, of course, that they will never do wrong (LOL!)...

: : : Why should banks be public property? Can't someone working for a profit give you a better interest rate for your savings than the government can?

: : Um, I don't follow this argiument. So I'll just elaborate my point. When banks were nationalized in india the reason was to make credit accessible to poor people who would never be granted loans by a profit-owning bank. these people were bad credit risks, they were so poor it would take them a long, long time to pay back a loan. So no banker interested in profit would bother ending to them. The government, on the other hand, is not interested in amking a profit, and can therefore be counted on to do the right thing. basically, teh government has altruistic motives, while a profit-seeking individual will ahve selfish motives, therefore it si very unlikely taht a profit-seeker will do the right thing.

: The government will always do the right thing...where have I heard that before...think about the USSR, N. Korea, Vietnam, Cambodia, China and several other places where complete trust was placed in the government.

SDF: Look, if at one place you argued "I don't know a lot about third world countries, so I can't argue there," so why all of a sudden do you think you know everything about "third world countries" here? "Actually existing socialism" was an attempt by pre-industrial countries to establish industrialism without establishing capitalist elites. What they succeeded in doing, however, was in perpetuating the pre-existing dictatorships in each country where it was tried. The USSR was an extension of czarist Russia, the PRC an extension of imperial China. So "actually existing socialism" has about as much chance of coming to the United States, today, as does feudalism or pagan theocracy.

: Think gulags, and the slaughter of millions of innocent people.

SDF: Such as the Turkish slaughter of Armenians, the Rwandan mass killings, what Genghis Khan did, the various imperial Russian pogroms, etc., all of which were common in pre-industrial or not-yet-industrialized cultures.

: In commie party states, the richest of the rich get into the party, allowing the sinfully rich to get richer and screwing everyone down the latter. I know that this isn't what you want, but party states are the only way that communist states have come into existence.


What if the government, which is supposedly not interested in anything but the people, runs out of money because they made stupid loans to people that can't pay off the loans for fifty years?

SDF: You mean when such governments are run by pseudo-libertarians such as the Reagan Administration bunch, which had as its main goal the creation of a generalized ideological antipathy to government? Sounds self-fulfilling to me -- if you don't like government, get elected and behave stupidly...

: No credit=chaos, as we have seen with the Japanese banking crisis. Also, what if the lovely lower class wants to open a savings acount to acumulate more money(this is a respectable move in any society) with the little that they have? If the banks give them lousy interest, they will have no incentive to do this.

As i have said before, the government is not selfless. All politicians in any society have personal reasons for being in the government, which is why we have so many scandals.

SDF: So we run government by initiative.

: The government is power hungry,

SDF: And corporations aren't? Why do you think they're doing this McSpotlight thing anyway? Because McDonald's ISN'T power hungry?

: and does not have to abide by any laws

SDF: WRONG! Governments do have to abide by their own laws. That is what the system of checks and balances was about -- please go back and read THE FEDERALIST PAPERS.

:, making it all powerful, whereas an individual has to abide by laws and is not all powerful. Now, who do you trust?

SDF: I trust my vote for a government that I elected more than I trust some alien corporation whose stated reason for existence is to suck the wealth out of me and my environment for the sake of its shareholders. Government is not great; however it offers the possibility of democratic control, a possibility not offered in a world ruled by other people's businesses.

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