- Capitalism and Alternatives -

I think this will wrap it up...

Posted by: Barry Stoller on October 07, 1999 at 10:30:19:

In Reply to: Anecdotal observations are my life posted by Stuart Gort on October 06, 1999 at 12:11:24:

: ...unsubstantiated figures from an obviously biased source...

Are you actually familar with the Luxembourg Income Study? Where are your citations to refute it?

: Too bad you failed to state the criterion that establishes a baseline for defining middle class in that study.

The baseline was the same for each country. Just like all surveys.

Now on to the main points:

: Did I relinquish my right to own my labor when I decided to employ others?

No, they must relinquish their labor-power in order to be employed by you.

Stu: 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...

Barry: Under pain of homelessness and starvation! The 'free contract' would only be valid if the workers surrendering their labor power to capital actually had access to some of the means of production.

: Your rhetoric is ridiculous. I had a new guy who was supposed to start working for me
today and he simply didn't show up. No call. Nothing. Am I to assume he was too weak
from hunger to make it in or call me? I assume he found a better gig and hadn't the
decency to let me know about it so I could fill his position sooner. I expect you're
applauding at the moment but even this fellow had all the access he needs to the means of production. He just needs to work hard, save, and purchase it.

Again, another anecdote. You are incorrigible!

You are claiming that 'this fellow' had 'all the access he needs to the means of production.' That access is contingent upon you (representing capitalism as a whole) hiring him! Perhaps you do not see capital (the labor market) as a whole. When 'this fellow' goes down the road to another job, again the terms will be set by the employer. What is the difference between an employee and an employer? The means of production. To say that a worker has access to the means of production because he or she can ask for a job is brazen prevarication.

: Is that the moral position you are taking - that I should turn my company over to the
employees in a magnanimous gesture of democratic principle? Fine! They will all get one vote for every $10,000 they invest. I get 12 votes for my $120,000 and another 16 votes for the years I spent researching and developing when I could have made money in my former trade instead. Is that fair?

Is democracy magnanimous---or is it fair? It cannot be both.

What you are advocating is not democracy. You are advocating what Anthony Jay famously called 'psephocracy'---the democracy of accumulation. 'Each dollar is a vote' is nothing more than a predetermined oligarchy. To advocate oligarchy is to turn your back on the universal ideals of democracy. Anyone who advocates true democracy during 'off hours' and totalitarian dictatorship during work hours is no friend of democracy!

Now your petty bourgeois perspective is out in the open. And now you know why I advocate the abolition of your bloodsucking, reactionary class!

Perhaps my forthrightness may shock you. Unlike you with your fiction about how working people have access to the means of production because all they need to do is go ask for access, I will follow Marx's example:

The Communists disdain to conceal their views and aims. They openly declare that their ends can be attained only by the forcible overthrow of all existing social conditions. Let the ruling classes tremble at a Communist revolution.(1)

: You know what amazes me, Barry? That people can disparage me for my religious beliefs (not you - not yet) and yet hold fast the pie-in-the-sky premise that man is actually capable of pure self governance - that he can conceive of, implement, and maintain a system whereby the ills that have plagued mankind for his entire history are eliminated.

Spoken like a true supremacist! To say that 'man' is not capable of 'pure self governance' is to repudiate the bourgeois illusions of democracy in favor of... outright dictatorship. At least you admit that class interests are irreconcilable! But the 'ills that have plagued mankind' bit is another prevarication: capitalism has not always existed. We need to remember that to envision the day of its withdrawal.

: I mentioned the Vanguard S&P 500 Index Fund. The management fee is approximately .1% per year. That's it!

No that's not 'it.' Where did the investment money come from? Surplus value. And who has surplus value? You must be joking if you are attempting to say that the vast working class has surplus value to play the stock market; no, the vast working class is sliding further and further into debt each passing day just trying to make mortgage, pay medical costs, and eat. But even if you are not joking, you disregard the salient fact that one of the reasons that living standards are high here in America (for all classes, relative to class) is because we're all getting a piece of the action from the surplus of 'Third World' labor, many of whom do not eat regularly.

: Be certain you are evaluating the long term performance of the S&P though. You may stumble across stats from only the last 20 years. If you use those numbers your impressions might be skewed a bit because they would indicate a 17% annual growth rate...

More of your 50-year scheme! Who was talking about pie in the sky?

: I hated working for other guys because of the lack of creative input.

Here's something to ponder. Why is it that 'creative input' is only possible when people become bosses? For every boss, there is a wage-laborer. There's no way out of the dilemma within the capitalist mode of production.

: ...I cannot provide people with challenging and stimulating work when there are propellers that need to be sanded.


The difficulty originates because of the division of labor---especially the detail division of labor in the workshop. As Adam Smith put it, because of it, a worker 'becomes as stupid and ignorant as it is possible for a human creature to become.'(2) But this atomization of skills is mandated by the profit imperative. And the profits resulting from this degrading skill atomization do not go to those who are degraded, the workers---the profits go to those who cause the degradation, the capitalists.

: I was in the process of evaluating various employee [health] programs available to me as a small business but since you made me feel like a feudal lord for considering their well being maybe I'll just give that up for a new moat.

Is that supposed to be funny? Pray your workers never hear such words!


1. Marx & Engels, The Communist Manifesto [1848], International 1948, p. 44.
2. Smith, The Wealth of Nations, Modern Library edition, p. 734.

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