- Capitalism and Alternatives -

Property and the market

Posted by: borg on May 24, 1999 at 15:31:19:

In Reply to: Erm... posted by Red Deathy on May 23, 1999 at 22:11:38:


: I beleive in abolishing the state, but to do that means abolishing capitalism first, because as a system it creates the state.

Not something I'm in favor of, but let's look at reality:

To abolish capitalism, I think you'll have to abolish
the *concept* of property in the minds of the people of
a given area. In the uS this would be much more difficult
than in most of the other western democrazies where the
concept is less liked and adhered to.

Aristotle predicted that without private property in land (as in Plato's utopian-communist Republic), "every one will use the word 'mine' of one who is prospering... however small a fraction he may himself be of the whole number." [T]hose who labor much and get little will necessarily complain of those who labor little and receive or consume much.... [T]here is always a difficulty in men living together and having all human relations in common, but especially in their having common property.... Indeed, we see that there is much more quarrelling among those who have all things in common..... "Great light would be thrown on this subject if we could see such a form of government in the actual process of construction," he concluded. (Politics)

An opportunity to see just that presented itself in 1620, when the Pilgrims established a system of "farming in common" and "keeping common stores" at Plymouth Colony, Massachusetts. Recorded Governor William Bradford:

"[T]he young men that were most fit and able for labor and service did repine that that they should spend their time and strength to work for other men's wives and children, without any recompense. The strong, or man of parts, had no more in division of victuals and clothes, than he that was weak and notable to do a quarter the other could; this was thought injustice...."

The result of this American communist experiment was famine, in which half the settlers starved to death within two years, reported Bradford:

"So the colonists began to think how they might raise as much corn as they could, and obtain a better crop than they had done, that they might not still thus languish in misery. At length after much debate of things, the Governor (with the advice of the chiefs amongst them) gave way that they should set corn every man for his own particular, and in that regard trust to themselves..... And so assigned to every family a parcel of land....."

As Aristotle predicted, "[W]hen every one has a distinct interest, men will not complain of one another, and they will make more progress, because everyone will be attending to his own business."

Bradford confirmed this prediction:

"This had very good success; for it made all hands very industrious. So as much more corn was planted than otherwise would have been by any means the Governor or any other could use, and saved him a great deal of trouble, and gave far better content.... The women now went willingly into the field, and took their little-ones with them to set corn, which before would allege weakness, and inability....

"By the time harvest was come, and instead of famine, now God gave them plenty, and the face of things was changed, to the rejoicing of the hearts of many, for which they blessed God. And the effect of their particular planning was well seen, for all had one way and other pretty well to bring the year about and some of the abler sort and more industrious had to spare, and sell to others, so as any general want or famine has not been amongst them since to this day.

"The experience that was had in this common course and condition, tried sundry years, and that amongst godly and sober men, may well evince the vanity of that conceit of Plato and other ancients, applauded by some of later time; -- that the taking away of property, and bringing in community into a commonwealth, would make them happy and flourishing; as if they were wiser than God. For this community (so far as it was) was found to breed much confusion and discontent, and retard much employment that would have been to their benefit and comfort. (History of Plymouth Colony)

Captain John Smith reported similar experiences at Jamestown in Virginia:
"When our people were fed out of the common store, and labored jointly together, glad was he [who] could slip from his labor, or slumber over his task he cared not how, nay the most honest among them would hardly take so much true pains in a week, as now for themselves they will do in a day: neither cared they for the increase, presuming that howsoever the harvest prospered, the general store must maintain them, so that we reaped not so much corn from the labors of thirty, as now three or four do provide themselves."

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