- Capitalism and Alternatives -

when will a socialist be satisfied that mankind is 'free'?

Posted by: Gee ( si ) on November 01, 1999 at 14:30:53:

In Reply to: A reflection upon Adam Smith posted by Samuel Day Fassbinder on October 31, 1999 at 18:28:40:

: SDF: At any rate, Adam Smith was not confused about the REAL dictatorship that is the result of the class struggle under capitalism:
: -Adam Smith, from The Wealth of Nations (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1976), pp. 74-76.

It would have hepled to place that quotation withing the context of that chapter (which goes on to explain the rise in living standards resulting) ;

"It seldom happens that the person who tills the ground has wherewithal to maintain himself till he reaps the harvest. His maintenance is generally advanced to him from the stock of a master, the farmer who employs him, and who would have no interest to employ him, unless he was to share in the produce of his labour, or unless his stock was to be replaced to him with a profit. This profit, makes a second deduction from the produce of the labour which is employed upon land. The produce of almost all other labour is liable to the like deduction of profit. In all arts and manufactures the greater part of the workmen stand in need of a master to advance them the materials of their work, and their wages and maintenance till it be completed. He shares in the produce of their labour, or in the value which it adds to the materials upon which it is bestowed; and in this share consists his profit"

Even in this Smith makes the capitalist sounds like a Baron - in 'happening' to own the land, to interpret this is such is to imagine that the wealth of nations was written in support of the very thing you know Smith was critical of - Aristocracy.

A telling sentence is "greater part of the workmen stand in need of a master to advance them the materials of their work" which may appear as if the entreprenuer simply opens a case full of tools and says "go on", but in reality 'materials' include the conception, design and implementation of an idea which is at the root of all creative activity and the sole distinction of the quality of 'entreprenuership' in any field.

Critics of 'capitalism' do a very bad job when trying to present all entreprenuers as static landlords handing out tools to workers and reaping their effort, yet it is the general criticism - perhaps this is why the argument tends to fall on deaf ears - even those intended to be stirred into revolt by it sense that 'something is just not right' about it.

One may restrict the criticism to non-entrepreneurial inheritors of old wealth but even then the criticism has its base in morality, and a personal feeling of injustice rather than in any consequential analysis of economics.

: So, unlike the current crop of apologists for capitalism,

Neither Smith nor following free trade economists can accurately be desceribed as making an apology for nor speakings in *defense* of free trade.


  • knows the REAL limitations upon the "autonomy of the person" as they are imposed upon those who have to sell their labor in order to survive

    A major theme of 'Wealth of Nations' was to describe how the free trade society release people from the great 'imposition' of having to tend daily to gathering food, water, shelter without hope of ever having more - and being at the mercy of every change in weather, every illness and injury, every failed crop/hunt. Whilst a person may be in a state of liberty in such a scenario - the necessity to provide for these things compels his activity even more than the need to labor for income - when will a socialist be satisfied that mankind is free? When no one at all need pursue any activity in which he is compelled by the reality of needing to remain alive and exist? that appears to be the logical end of such a proposal.

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