- Capitalism and Alternatives -

Barry Lovers

Posted by: Stuart Gort ( USA ) on October 01, 1999 at 11:18:19:

Thought I'd bring this one forward with your consent, McSpot.

Barry writes::

::Reading books is not exclusively the task of intellectuals!

Very true. But subordinating experience to theory isn't particularly smart. It is, however, the obvious standard practice of many Marxist intellectuals.

::Only a capitalist society where education has a price tag placed upon would produce such an elitist view. As far as thinking is concerning, I'm not telling you how to think, Stuart, I'm merely telling you how I think.

Barry, if you want me to know how or what you think just tell me. I haven't the slightest interest in wading through Skinner to get to know you better. I imagine you've spun some insights and conclusions of Skinner's studies into your ideology in order to bolster your credibility. That's laudable if it holds up to scrutiny. But if 90% of the population does not hold the means of production and that fact saps workers of incentive and motivation, how did this country become the single largest economy on the planet? How is it that capitalism created such a massive, comfortable middle class with nothing but disgruntled, unmotivated workers?

::Yes, exactly. The tyrant of the working class is the bourgeoisie who needs to be stopped, with force (since sweet talk hasn't worked too well). In your specific case, you are a petty bourgeois who historically has been known to side with labor once the monopolies have squeezed you dry...

Save it, Barry. People who are fond of pigeon-holing other folks with the jargon of their chosen brain soap strike me as completely close minded. Get a job.

::When your eight employees have had enough of giving up their surplus value to you and get
the chance to work for themselves, then you may find out just how hard they are willing to
work---without the threat of starvation hanging over them, that is.

Gee was right to question your planetary origin. There isn't a single word reflective of reality as it exists for my employees or me in that sentence. "Surplus value" in your paradigm is what the market and me decide it is. Accepting your paradigm, surplus value are my wages due for the $120,000 of capital (proceeds of my labor) and four unpaid years of research and development which I put at risk for the sake of realizing gain. In my paradigm, "surplus value" does not exist. When hiring each employee, the employee and I agreed to trade money for labor. Both parties agreed to the contract and each party was free to accept or reject the contract. There was no surplus to negotiate. The concept of surplus value is formed in order to synthesize a moral argument in favor of collectivists. This structure has grown to include the moral imperative of theft of property and reparations to a disenfranchised "proletariat". This is such an amazing dissociation from the day to day relationships people have with each other in this country. I reject it out of hand.

My employees have exactly the same opportunity I did to save a portion of the proceeds of their labor (I certainly pay them enough to do this), invest into their own clever idea, and prosper as I have. You think I was born with capital, Barry? I hold only a high school diploma and have received nothing from anyone except talent from God, a work ethic from my parents, and a job from my previous employers. I taught myself aerodynamics, composite structural engineering, and CAD/CAM to make this business work. I read a few books on the way.

These employees are quite far from the fear of starvation. Is this how you are? Presuming the general population of this country lives with an underlying fear of starvation? You know, Barry the only possible sane rationale for using this kind of rhetoric is to project such a fear on to others in hope of garnering fear-based support. It is only barely sane at best and insidiously unscrupulous at worst.

::One of the things that may induce them to rid themselves of you is the fact that once capitalists like yourself cease to profit (perhaps due to monopoly practices of other capitalists) you do 'bail out'---leaving your workers (and their corresponding needs as represented by the commodities they produce under your command) high and dry. Production for people, not profits (as the
slogan goes)...

Actually, my previous point was that I would never have invested my money and time into this venture solely for the privilege of placating the "proletariat". Nor would the many manufacturers we service with our propellers. Now that this business has grown though, I do feel an obligation to consider the interests of those people who I employ and have a great desire to manage this business well for the sake of all. At any rate, in a collectivist system, this entire industry would disappear - and the jobs that attend it. Forgive me if that sounds familiar. It's the same pertinent point you ignored last time.

::Number games bore me, Stuart.

Yeah, Barry, I know. It's because numbers tend to be empirical evidence. If forty bucks a week from a guy making minimum wage turning into four and a half million bores you, I suggest your altruism is false. But these facts are not questionable and a man can be well tended by capitalism if only he will apply and maintain a modicum of financial prudence from his youth through adulthood.

::Besides, what's really important isn't what people 'make,' but rather what they do.

No sir! It is exactly opposite. People can do any number of useless things but it is what they make that creates wealth. Digging stuff out of the ground and fashioning it into something useful is what creates wealth. Only that! If someone "makes" money in the stock market it is only because he has given capital to someone else to do that.

::As long as their labor is a product up for sale to guys like you who own all the means of production, they will not really be doing what they want, now will they?

I bought the "means of production" with the proceeds of my labor which accrued while in the employ of someone else. Answer that, Barry! Your whole ideology is built on a presumption of an insurmountable caste system - yet I exist as an example to the contrary. Am I an aberrant example? No, millions of people have done exactly what I have.

As to my employees doing what they want; find me where it's written that life entitles one to get what one wants without striving for it. I wanted what I got but obviously it was a wanting that motivated me to great sacrifice.

Doesn't your ideology just boil down to a simple desire to get what you want - when you want it? Isn't the "means of production" just a euphemism created to obscure covetous interests? Isn't the concept of "surplus value" a contrived moralistic construct?

::When progressives maintain that the Soviet Union, etc., didn't 'get socialism right' the
capitalist defenders love to gloat: 'Qualifications, qualifications!' Right? Now it's their turn to

::Here's my take: There's nothing aberrant going on in Russia. The lawless land grab, the
violent separation of the people and the means of production, that's precisely what is required
to produce capitalism; later, once a landless proletariat is fully established, then---and only
then---will 'civil' law become established (protecting the new property owners). What's
fascinating about Russia is that we can see---in all its hideous clarity---the rapacious
development of capitalism as it has always been in all other lands.

Your take fails to mention the inevitable vast, satiated middle class.
I wonder why?

::Now, Stuart, how about a little reading to round out your anecdotal observations? After all,
observations from the minority perspective do have their limits.

::1. No more than 10% of the American population have access to the means of production (i.e. work for themselves). Source: Business Week, 28 November 1994, p. 34.

"Access to the means of production" you say? What could that mean, Barry - entitlement to the means of production perhaps? Did the article say those words or did you impose your rhetorical spin on an otherwise innocuous fact? Regardless, every American has the same opportunity to work for him or herself as I did. In America, success can come to anyone who doesn't talk himself out of it. And Barry, you are one big talker.

Stuart Gort

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