- Capitalism and Alternatives -

Please help me perfect The 'Box Analogy'

Posted by: andy ( resistance, australia ) on October 16, 1999 at 12:15:02:

Dear all,

I'm trying to perfect a short analogy that is as clear as possible in explaining that capitalism is all about stealing. This is what I've come up with so far. If anyone has any improvements or can spot some mistakes, please reply or email me direct. Ta.

The Box Analogy

Imagine all that's produced in one country, in one year, could fit in a box.

All the wealth that is produced in that country in one year is also in the box (wealth comes from production - its not as if you can walk down the street and find nuggets of gold).

Suppose you're a millionaire (but you could be anyone) and you take your money down to the bank and put it in one of those fixed-term-deposit-with-a-low-interest-rate accounts. Not the most profitable of investments but you're guaranteed a return on your investment.

You then go home and do nothing for one year. You may eat and sleep and go to the toilet, but you certainly don't do anything productive.

At the end of the year, you go back to the bank and you take out more money than you put in. Good for you - you just made a profit! and the activity you have just engaged in would be generally called "investment".

But hang on, you just received a part of the box (a portion of all the wealth that is produced in one country, in one year).

Who made the part of the box (your profit) that you took home? YOU certainly didn't - you were at home doing nothing productive. Also, did you ask the person that DID make the wealth if you could have part of the results of their hard work?

No you didn't ask the worker who made the product - its called stealing.

The argument goes that the worker is "free" to sell their labour power to the boss - and this is actually true if the analogy is confined to the boss and worker within the same company. But the fact that workers are COMPELLED (ie either physically or ideologically forced) to sell their labour power IN GENERAL is much more clear with the above example.

Because of the fact that you own capital and the vast majority of the people of the world do NOT own or control the means of production (and therefore don't own any capital), people with capital (capitalists) exploit this fact by not actually doing the work themselves but allow workers to hire the machinery for a wage (so the worker doesn't starve & can survive) and the capitalist then sells the products the workers make and can afford to then let their profits grow by "investment".

You have a choice to make. Do you ignore the reality and aspire to be a capitalist (which is understandable because they teach you to aspire to be one of them) - or do you fight with all your energy to replace capitalism with a society based on human needs and co-operation (ie socialism).

That's the only true 'free' choice in the 'free' world.

Welcome to capitalism, class society and (hopefully) class struggle.

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