- Capitalism and Alternatives -

You don't want it to end, Gee

Posted by: Samuel Day Fassbinder ( Citizens for Mustard Greens, USA ) on July 07, 1999 at 17:22:27:

In Reply to: where will it all end posted by Gee on July 07, 1999 at 12:13:23:

: : Today you might be thinking that the personal choices available to the individual under capitalism are vast and glorious. Coke or Pepsi,

: People dont exist in a box selecting fast moving consumer goods. you seem to have missed out choices you can now make about where to live,

SDF: This isn't a choice directly established by capitalists, it's not a consumer choice. In fact, capitalism was established by the creation of enclosure laws and vagrancy laws, which practically forced the people into the cities, and into the factories, whereas their choice of where to live was elsewhere.

: what kind of career to pursue

SDF: So, you've decided to join the NBA and play pro basketball, Gee? What a great choice! I can see you'll be an instant success. Can you make a shot with someone's hand in your face? Are you 6' 10" or higher? Or perhaps you'd like to pursue a career in corporate finance? Can you produce a CV showing you've spent your entire life preparing for such a career? So you'd like to be a college professor. Written a marketable dissertation yet? You've got extensive documentation of your ability to teach apathetic teenagers? Or maybe a career in brain surgery is for you. Paid the bills for medical school yet?

The point is that under capitalism, the "choice of a career" is occluded by all sorts of coercive limitations based partly on preparation costs, partly on your suitability in satisfying a capitalist's need for profit, and it also bears consideration that the alternative to making such a "career choice" is, for many, a boringly-deskilled job designed by corporate Taylorists.

: what people to associate with etc.

SDF: This is a choice coerced by the placement of you and these other people within capitalism.

: I do understand that people are hugely affected by upbringing, that as a child such choices are very limited and that as an adult a person has been highly influenced - but I do not subscribe to the determinist view of man, as helpless of whatever breeze might affect him.

SDF: Our choices are LIMITED by the above determinations.

: As for the many dieoff links, there is a counter for each on www.cfact.org - yes you can try to brush them aside as 'mouthpieces for corporatism' or whatever, but not without evidence that the research in completely wrong. reading one site and then the other is an amusing excercise in contradiction and confusion. Believing one over the other without scrutinising the actual research is an excercise in faith.

SDF: I've already seen plenty of corporate obfuscation before, I'll look at it again.

: : It should also be seen that the choice of a consumer society is a choice that has been prepared in advance.

: All of what you can choose to buy is on a menu resultant from other peoples activities, including jobs and towns to live in - and thats the case whatever society you live in. Would you rather live in a naked tribe at the mercy of nature where choice is entirely dominated by 'survive or die' hour to hour? That seems far worse.

SDF: I'm sure it would also be worse to die on a medieval torture rack or freeze to death in the depths of Siberia or suffer from malaria in a Cambodian jungle or to be forced to work in a Chinese sweatshop. So what? I was making a point about choice -- bringing up alternatives nobody wants is just more advertising for the "choice" we are required to accept.

: : You didn't choose to be born, you didn't choose to be born to your parents, and you didn't choose to be born into your current social reality within capitalist society.

: Nor is your life predetermined -

SDF: If I had wanted to say as much, I would have said it in those terms. My argument is that capitalism, not life, presents the illusion of a choice.

: you will do things for reasons, reasons are not the same as causes. nor do you reserve the right to coercively change what other people do just because you choose not to like the way things are going.

SDF: This "coercion" line is a straw figure -- people "coerce" others all the time, and frankly I think you should go about your life objecting loud and clear every time everyone coerces anyone else. Let's see how many friends you make.


: : Already we read of rumblings about overpopulation.

: Especially in the 60s and 70s, kinda panned out in the west after that. still waiting.

SDF: The stakes get higher with each advance in humanity's numbers. The notion that overpopulation was not a real problem when the world held three billion people does not automatically imply that it isn't a problem today with the world at six billion people.

: Were just so darned adaptable and our technology is getting so darned powerful would you dare draw a ceiling upon mankind as a species?

SDF: There are severe logistic limitations to human conversion from oil-based sources of fuel to non-oil-based sources of fuel, many of them having to do with the fact that the present-day economy is run not for the sake of long-term sustainability but instead for short-term profit, as we would expect with a capitalist system. Is it really just ME that is "drawing a ceiling upon mankind as a species," or is it those who would insist that every government enforce the rules of corporate capitalism within its borders?

: Would you dare set a date for extinction at this rate? 100 years a thousand a million, billions?

SDF: Extinction: another straw figure. Is there anything on dieoff.org that discusses the extinction of the human species?

: : But, in assuming that humanity will continue to exploit capitalistically forever, we play a high-stakes game against the forces of entropy.

: If we can add an assumption that space is not a no go area then the time frame is incredably long. If we are to save natural resources - then whom for?

SDF: So what you're saying is that, instead of saving the rainforests of Brazil (since we don't really know who will use their genetic pools for the future of medicine, or for the future of the planetary ecology), we should chop them down so that they can be "farmed" (such farming usually lasting about one crop, since the soil fertility of despoiled rainforest is about nil). 'Cause that's what's happening today.

: How many generations of a static man?

SDF: Another false dilemma, either "static" life, or the despoilation of natural resources. One of the main limitations capitalism presents upon human choice is that the choices pro-capitalists see for humanity (and enforce upon everyone else BTW) are limited by pro-capitalist ideology.

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