- Capitalism and Alternatives -

A real argument?

Posted by: Samuel Day Fassbinder ( Citizens for Mustard Greens, USA ) on May 13, 1999 at 18:16:00:

In Reply to: or call a spade a brush posted by Gee on May 12, 1999 at 18:09:10:

: : I've already blown Gee's anarcho-capitalist utopia out of the water, by showing that in the absence of government the landlords would hire their own armies to force tenants to pay the rent

: You presumed they would, you also presumed than the renters would be stuck to the floor unable to leave.

SDF: I presumed that in a market that was "at capacity," there would be nowhere to leave except the great homeless outdoors, since all of the housing in such a market would have "no vacancy," and that people would not voluntarily choose to live outdoors if they were forced out by their landlords.

: : I've already shown that Gee's anarcho-capitalist formula is no solution for problems of sexism, racism, classism, driving personal and global politics today; Gee's solution was to denounce such problems as "bad," then refuse to discuss them further.

: Bull, what I actually said is that individualism doesnt magically cure anything, but that removing the collective mindset which lumps people together according to 'minority groups' or other meanigless characteristics is part of the problem.

SDF: Actually I remember you claiming that racism was "bad" as the final answer to my challenge to you to find its solution. It also seems to me that treating the victims of racist systems as if they were unaffected by racism is no solution, it's merely denial.

: : Gee's anarcho-capitalist formula furthermore holds no hope whatsoever for the destitute millions of the world who live in slums and other degraded areas,

: Whom you seem to regard as hapless and unable, who must be tended to by others in order to reach any higher.

SDF: Are we to chat idly about the possibility that the 1/6th of the world that suffers from chronic malnutrition might not be able to start their own successful retail businesses?

I also suggested that those more able should organize collectively in order to demand a fair share of the pie, the one they baked, so that they might live. That's what the PT, Red Deathy's socialist utopia, etc. are all about.

: : He challenged me to read his guru Julian Simon's big book; I read it so well that Gee gave up the thread.

: I waited for it, so where did it end up - I only page down so many times. I find the fact that you regard your piece as so triumphant I had to 'give up' as an amusing indicator of your way of thinking about other people.

SDF: Actually I seem to remember arguing that Simon's THE ULTIMATE RESOURCE II plays a shell game with the problem of resource scarcity, that the idea that we can overcome one resource shortage by substituting something else for that resource ignores the other resource shortages created as a result of substitutions. In arguing thusly, I was merely repeating an argument by Herman Daly.

: Every post to me from you has carried the same tiresome 'look arent I great and he only said....' nonsense.

SDF: No, only my above post.

: These do not form a means to discussion or even a worthwhile argument.

SDF: Actually my above post got your attention rather nicely, and since I discussed the issues in that post, your response is indeed worth an argument, which is not always or even usually the case.

: I will have to agree with crimson tide, oddly, you are manipulative in the way you report your exchanges with others and it does you no favours.

SDF: And I'll say, Gee, that you're manipulative in the way you use your "friendly style of humorous banter" in order to avoid the central contradictions of anarcho-capitalism. Get used to the idea that yourself, me, RD, etc. are "manipulative." We want to win arguments.

Look, I'll explain my motivation. RD's socialist utopia offers me everything I could possibly want, within the possibility that we, all of us, humankind, could lovingly share all we have produced. The fact that RD is suggesting something that's nearly impossible does not make it any less attractive to me. Anarcho-capitalists, OTOH, are offering me what? The right to own property? If you added up all the property I own, I would still be deep in the red. Liberty? I've already got all the liberty I can earn in this land of business and money, and it leaves me, every evening, free to roam the concrete jungle, completely alone in my narcissistic, solipsistic, thin version of community motivated mostly by the frivolous escapism it calls "entertainment" to avoid the "jobs" it admits it dislikes. I'm free, but I'm not free to live in a society that pursues any meaning to its communal existence. I felt "freer," though less socially connected and less materially comforted, living in a forest away from civilization altogether, than in the capitalist version of the society I presently dwell within.

Against the will of its leaders, technology has changed human beings from children into persons. However, every advance in individuation of this kind took place at the expense of the individuality in whose name it occurred, so that nothing was left but the resolve to pursue one's one particular purpose... the only reason why the culture industry can deal so successfuly with individuality is that the latter has always reproduced the fragility of society.
-Max Horkheimer and Theodor Adorno, from Dialectic of Enlightenment

: : Sorry Gee, the successful capitalists like it that way. That's what's causing the current era of mega-mergers. It's as Chomsky says: socialism for the rich, laissez-faire for the rest of us.

: As one involved in communication you may note that capitalism means the *private* ownership of the means of production.

SDF: Please elaborate for me what this notion of capitalism, aside from its being an incomplete notion of capitalism, has to do with communication. I'm lost here.

: Consider this in the light of govt manipulation and claims on property before blaming private ownership.

SDF: Why not blame property altogether, as RD does, or at least examine critically its presuppositions? Nothing makes property "natural," it's a cultural invention.

: : To defend individual rights to property is to defend the big businesses that currently hold it.

: Therefore may I assume that were a 'clean slate' to be made possible that individual rights to property is quite acceptable, and that your critique of todays actuality is very similar to a libertarians critique.

SDF: No clean slate is possible. Everything civilized and human is part of history.

Follow Ups:

The Debating Room Post a Followup