- Capitalism and Alternatives -

Why should you care if you're smarter?

Posted by: Samuel Day Fassbinder ( Citizens for Mustard Greens, USA ) on July 22, 1999 at 18:56:47:

In Reply to: There is no reason to learn under socialism. posted by Jason on July 22, 1999 at 17:28:35:

: : : Come on, why the hell would I go to college and receive an advanced education if I wouldn't be receiving some form of reward down the road?

: : SDF: To learn something maybe?

: There is no reason to learn under socialism. There is nothing in it for me!

SDF: How do you know? Have you lived under socialism yet?

: Under capitalism, learning empowers me to actually change the world and see the direct results.

SDF: That may be true, but it would be true not merely of capitalism but of any social structure. Learning empowers you to change the world, if you have access to the resources you need to change the world.

On the other hand, under capitalism, you don't need to know anything to change the world, you could be as dumb as a rock as long as you have money. And sadly enough, this is the jaded realization that dawns upon many who go to college in the US today, that such an understanding of money renders them clueless as to why they are going to college, why they would want to learn anything. It's too hard, it's easier to make money and spend it (for such people) than it is to think. Wouldn't it just be easier to marry rich, if earning money is one's only goal in life?

: There is much more satisfaction in that than the warm and fuzzy socialist idea that I'm "creating the world".

SDF: The idea that you are creating the world with your labor has no necessary connection to socialism (however you may conceive it as a social system, a means of organizing labor), it's a basic tenet of philosophy. You would be creating the world with your labor under capitalism, fascism, or feudalism, or if you were working for an agricultural empire such as existed in classical Rome or China or Czarist Russia. There is, furthermore, no contradiction between "creating the world" and your goal of changing the world and seeing the direct results.

: : : Makes more sense just to mop floors the rest of my life...

: : SDF: Is there nothing to say for job satisfaction? One of the things we can learn from reading Karl Marx is that our labor is alienated. In doing things, in making things, in working with the things and people of the world, Marx argued, we MAKE THE WORLD.

: Well, doens't that just sound so sweet and perfect... like heaven on earth... awww!

SDF: It's not supposed to be. In earlier societies, people had to work furiously to "make the world" to protect themselves.

: :In doing these things under a capitalist system, he further argued, we MAKE THE WORLD FOR SOMEONE ELSE, and that someone else is the owner, who hires the boss to tell us what to do. Thus the satisfaction we might get from the act of working is nullified, replaced by an external reward, which is the pay someone else gives us for following his or her orders.

: Under the capitalist system, one receives direct credit for their labor.

SDF: Having nothing to do with intrinsic job satisfaction. That was my point; people don't like their jobs under capitalism because they're just something to do for money.

: The employee doesn't make the world for the owner... he/she "makes the world" for the customer or client to whom the company provides a product or service. The owner receives the profits for organizing the labor and doing the job better than the competition.

SDF: I think you're confusing ownership with management here. Managers organize labor. Owners receive the profits. Managers organize companies to compete. Owners don't have to do any job at all, they can just move money around. It's not the same thing. If you are the owner of a company, you are not necessarily its CEO.

: : : I'll be just as rich as a brain surgeon or an engineer who went through 12 years of schooling under the communist system!!!

: : SDF: And they'll be much smarter than you. Do you think there's no pride in that?

: Why should I really care if I'm smarter? Under socialism, I might as well have a big parade every day of my life and not give two s**ts about anybody else!

SDF: Capitalist society views "big parades every day" as marketing tools, and social concerns under capitalism are wasted money that could otherwise go toward making a profit for the businesses that contribute to them. Corporations like Nike really give two whatevers about anyone else, yeah right. There is nothing about capitalism that compels any of its participants to exhibit social concerns.

This leads us up to your first question, which was a really good question IMHO. Why should you care if you're smarter? Does it really have anything at all to do with capitalism? Was it your goal in life to be stupid?

: : SDF: But as a mere owner, you don't create wealth. The people who build your restaurant or company, the people who make your products and maintain your buildings, THEY create the wealth.

: As the "mere" owner?!?! Let's see... the owner ONLY hires the contracting firm to build the infrastructure and the employees who make the products or provide the services and maintain the building. They create wealth for themselves,

SDF: Nope, they create a business for the owner, in exchange for money. And it is merely because the value of money is maintained by a social convention, and because deviations from that social convention are feared in the form of "inflation" or "deflation," that the exchange of labor for money actually gets anything at all for the workers. The reality of life under capitalism is that owners only have to pay workers enough for these same workers to survive. If workers are earning more than that, it is because they have some sort of other power or organization (like a union, or government protection, or a cartel) that allows them to demand more money than the bare minimum necessarily for survival, not because they continually create something fabulous with their labor.

: and as the organizer of it all,

SDF: Management organizes. Ownership profits. If I had enough money, I could pay someone to hire a contracting firm, and what's more, if I were to do so, I would preferably pay somebody who knew who the contractors were and how not to get ripped off.

: the owner(s) take the profits to grow the company further, which continues to benefit the employees, customers, and holders of equity.

: :BTW, you claim to be a capitalist. A capitalist, by definition, is somebody who profits off of the labor of others. Who do you employ, and how much profit do you make off of their labor?

: By saying I'm a capitalist, I'm saying I believe in the capitalist and democratic systems. However, I am an investor and therefore benefit from the growth of the companies I own shares in. I don't employ anybody directly since I have to active participation in the operation of the firm. The profit I make is the increase in the stock price and the dividends the company pays its shareholders. BTW, I also work for a grocery store where my labor directly benefits the customers of the store and therefore the owner. You could say the owner is profiting off MY labor, which is true, but I also profit through the compensation the owner pays me for my labor.

SDF: Are you required under capitalism to play this game that you describe above, or could you just quit work and divest your investments and play a "socialist" game at some point, if you so desired? My point is that capitalism is a powerful system because it advertises itself as the only game in town.

To organize another system, whether you want to call it socialist or anarcho-syndicalist or whatever, one has to put together an entirely new society. It isn't just a choice.

: : BTW, how much is Gates paying you to post here? If he's not paying you, then why did you post here at all, giving Microsoft free advertising? Perhaps you did it because it's a form of labor you like to perform?

: Bill Gates is paying me nothing...

SDF: Then you're getting a raw deal, advertising his business with no compensation. You deserve better.

: I was merely giving an example of how capitalism works to create wealth for more than just the CEO or founder of a company. Perhaps it is a form of labor I like to perform, but granted, it wasn't very difficult to mention Microsoft and that labor isn't really worth compensation.

SDF: But you're doing more than that, you're praising Gates to the skies, and since he's incredibly rich, he doesn't really need your praise except to deflect attacks made upon his business, that it's a monopoly that should be attacked with anti-trust lawsuits.

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