- Capitalism and Alternatives -

On the other hand, under the money system...

Posted by: Samuel Day Fassbinder ( Citizens for Mustard Greens, USA ) on August 20, 1999 at 11:21:17:

In Reply to: Deary me... posted by Red Deathy on August 19, 1999 at 15:58:02:

: : I can see why you would need to find that to be the source of their incomprehension. When I follow a thread, seeing the bits where people talk at cross purposes I can perceive areas where both posters are missing eachothers points and comprehensions. People in my experience dont think of work as a necessary evil, but as a necessary means to achieve the results *they* specifically desire. Compulsion by others is not the issue, it is the ability to work toward personal goals - and that is why they ask, in essence, why would I work for that bozo, why cant I work toward my own values and let him do likewise - eg the toymaker.

: Most peopel I know see work as something aside from their won values, as something seperate from their "real" life, as a barrier and condition upon being able to pursue their own goals. If someone wants to make toys for friends, well and good, but if someone agrees to produce toys for the community, then there can be no exceptions.

SDF: Under capitalism, work has been alienated from particular desire. This is because all capitalist business production goes to meeting EFFECTIVE demand, which is not the same thing as human desire. Human desire is an energy within a body, whereas effective demand is merely the measure of so much money that can be collected for one's product. One might make toys because one likes toys; but under capitalism, one makes toys because there is a certain amount of money out there that is chasing a certain number of toys, money that needs to be used purchasing the things for one's survival. One is therefore not really allowed to make toys at one's own chosen pace, or the toys one wants to make, but at a pace, variety, and quality chosen by one's employer, an owner of toy-making capital.

We can blather all we want about how business exist to satisfy customers, but they really exist to satisfy the customer's money, to cash in on the value added to each business by its employees. (Consequently, a business needs only one customer, if that customer is rich enough.)

Capitalism is of course unable to meet everyone's desires, of course, but the "infinite capacity to desire" supposed of humanity by Ludwig von Mises is made into a travesty by capitalism; people go hungry, are homeless, because they do not possess the necessary effective demand for food and shelter, tho' they may deeply desire to be fed and sheltered. On the other hand, people's "desires" are greatly amplified as the commodity culture, advertising, etc. pushes against the mass psyche to make human desires fit the economic realities of "effective demand." People have thus been led to believe that they "want" things they really don't need and aren't any happier for possessing, simply because some vendor wants their surplus cash and has used the powers of commercial persuasion upon them. Moreover, I might desire a Rolls-Royce greatly, but my life would be made greatly worse were I to go into debt to buy one, supposing, that is, that I had the credit rating to borrow enough money to buy one.

What's more, under capitalism everything that anyone does or makes, any object of anyone's desire, is a commodity, for sale to the highest bidder. If there is a government, the rich will buy it. If there is no government, the rich will train security forces and set up gun factories to defend their wealth and "acquire" it from those without adequate defenses. This isn't corruption -- it's follows logically from the capitalist ideal of money as the generalization of all wealth.

And the capitalist system meets desire so unevenly (given its constant groping after effective demand) that the idea of individual desire has been made into a travesty. Most of the public works to pay the rent -- out of all of the desires that their bodies experience as a result of the effect of capitalist advertising upon their senses, they are themselves required to endure the discomfort of tedious, deskilled, and disempowering jobs in order to avoid the greater discomfort of homelessness or starvation or no heat during the winter months. They then might have some surplus cash, but then have to invent desires in order to pretend to choose something at the stores and shopping malls that have replaced cost-free entertainment in many capitalist cultures. Of course, some folks work without hope of having a home, in order to meet even more basic "desires," read Barbara Ehrenreich's article in the February 1999 HARPERS, or for that matter read stories of Auschwitz, of people who dig their own graves in order to live long enough to see themselves be buried in them. Work to meet desires?

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