- Capitalism and Alternatives -

Utopian wishes have never cut it

Posted by: Stoller on October 12, 1999 at 12:30:58:

In Reply to: Self-interest just won't cut it posted by Nikhil Jaikumar on October 11, 1999 at 15:02:43:

I am sure that your heart is in the right place. You obviously know that things aren't right in capitalist society and, not surprisingly, you have many skepticisms regarding communist society as it has occurred in the Soviet Union, etc. You want a world in which people do not exploit people and you want a world in which everyone is able to participate in the management of society. Like all communists, so do I.

Our differences are in the means to achieve these worthy goals.

You have a funny notion of the state. At times, you speak of it as if it is this thing outside social relations. At other times, you speak of it ideally, as nothing more than a simple mechanism for counting votes. But the state is the material manifestation of the ruling class. And counting votes is not enough in this society because dollars are votes and that's what we should be 'counting' instead.

: If you make elections fair enough, it's inevitable that the workers' party should win...

'Making the elections fair enough' involves altering the current property relations.

: [W]e can weaken the power of the capitalists by passing liberal legislation, and eventually they may slip out of power.

But the capitalists control all legislation under current property relations. And the problem is not so much whether there is democracy at the ballot but whether or not there is democracy at the work place. Only revolution will change that.

: To change over to a socialist society is going to require that the upper class and a large segment of the middle class give up their wealth, and to do that you need to inculcate in them an ethic of self-sacrifice.

Nothing will 'inculcate in them an ethic of self-sacrifice' except a dictatorship. The wealthy never give up their privileges voluntarily. If the capitalist social relations of production break down, say, in a fit of over-production, then bankruptcy will 'revolutionize' many, but no one is going to give up power just because itís the 'ethical' thing to do. I'm sorry, my friend, but history is the history of class struggle---not polite requests! Consult history---not what you wish would happen!

And only self-interest motivates the reasonable person! Self-sacrifice is ultimately motivated by self-interest! You do want to choose the moment and amount of your 'self-sacrifice' do you not?

: [H]uman rights are not class-based, they are universal.

And who has always determined what is 'universal'? The ruling class! And they will tell you right now with a very straight face that capitalism is a universal human right!

I will respond to your comments about the social division of labor in another post.

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