- Capitalism and Alternatives -

No thank you. Let us try to rise above the likes of Ms. Faludi.

Posted by: Dr. Cruel on November 03, 1999 at 13:05:33:

In Reply to: Is 'Teacher' ready for a taste of the lash? posted by Barry Stoller on November 01, 1999 at 14:08:12:

: Doc:
: Why indeed. We presume, of course, that people revolt - violently - when oppressed. The historical record would state otherwise. The Nazi regime actually ran a brutal slave labor system, with hardly any unrest...

: Very poor example. Nazi Germany was a state specifically designed to overwhelm, crush, and extirpate all working class resistance.

Doc: Not if you were the "Aryan" working class (thus, ‘national’ socialism - a socialism that exploited a race, rather than an economic group, in the name of the ‘people’). In any case, Jews (or Poles, or Russians, or French, or any other members of the various ‘subject races’ of the Third Reich) did not ‘flock’ to the extermination camps; a rather large outlay of manpower and capital had to be expended to compel them to go. Not so in, for example, Victorian London.

There may be problems with capitalist economies, but getting an eager workforce together is not one of them.

B.S.: Following your Industrial Revolution analogy, you are compelled to say that the Jews at Auschwitz did not revolt---because they were 'excited' by consumer choices and 'eager to leave the mundane and dreary existence of the farms for the opportunities that the new, growing cities offered.'

Doc: Not so. By my example, the Jews did not revolt because they did not have the choice to do so. One of the reasons that camp inmates were kept so malnourished, even when their labor value was at a premium, was that it kept them incapable of offering any resistance. All the sustenance that the authorities allow (in a manner that Marx uses to describe capitalist exploitation) are needed for survival, and so that one might work just hard enough to avoid extermination. The capitalist worker, on the other hand, frequently chooses his labor, tends to be well fed (at least as well as those involved in local agriculture), and has the education and affluence necessary to work towards bettering his condition. It is a period of sudden, rapid growth in such opportunities, followed by just as sudden a stagnation of the same, that leads to frustration and anti-social behavior from the latecomers. It is this suppressed anger that the socialist activist wishes to exploit. Leftists frequently are the elite of those ‘latecomers’ that, were they to have lived under earlier conditions, would have been amongst the ‘capitalists’. I suggest reading a book by Paul Colinvaux, called (I believe) The Fate of Nations.

B.S.: And, yes: the same applies to Stalin.

Doc: Actually, yes. After a failed stint as a seminary student, Stalin turned first to train robbery, then to socialism. It was the latter that finally proved to be his most lucrative career choice.

B.S.: And Stalin purged his socialists just as Hitler purged his ('Night of Long Knives').

Doc: So did Lenin. The SR was done away with during his tenure. Once the revolution was mostly complete, once the new elite had established itself in power, the naturally violent nature of this movement turned itself inward, as those that were extraneous to the ‘new order’ were done away with. This is why, after so open a policy towards the ethnic minorities of the Russian Empire, a later crackdown developed - simply, these new fiefdoms became reassigned to the new Party ‘boyars’, who then went forth and ruthlessly established control over their local Soviet dominions. Many (like Sheverdnadze) rule in a similar fashion today, long after the collapse of the central Party bureaucracy. So also, Milosevic, Tudjman, and other leaders of the fragments of ex-communist Yugoslavia.

B.S.: Which brings us to:

: : Hitler didn't cater to German businessmen - like any good socialist, he nationalized industry.

: Absolutely wrong!

Doc: Again, I instruct the student to peruse the writings of one Albert Speer. This man, more than any other , fought the hardest to free corporate business experts from the control of the central Nazi party apparatus. Inevitably, he was a failure. I believe the book you might find pertinent information on in this regard is Inside the Third Reich, by Mr. Speer.

: Think about the fact that Hitler---between 1932 and 1933, while he was 'on the campaign trail'---never once mentioned Jews in any of his speeches, only the 'Marxist menace.' The business community were very interested in Hitler's position on Marxism---and its corollary, labor 'unrest.'

Doc: And, like any good socialist, loyal to his ideology - he completely reneged on anything said that might get in the way of the "New Order". For similar reasons, Lenin made peace with Germany and allowed the enactment of the NEP - only to help launch the Spartacist uprising, invade Poland, and revoke the NEP as soon as conditions warranted. No one calls Lenin or Deng Jiao Ping "capitalists" merely because they allowed their thralls a temporary and limited break from Marxist orthodoxy (although that might change in time, of course …).

Incidentally, this tendency to say one thing and to do another (quaintly known to unenlightened bourgeois ethicists as ‘lying’) might be one reason why most conservatives seem so impervious to these frequent quotes from Bolshevik texts. Just a thought.

B.S.: Think about the famous Dusseldorf Club speech (where Hitler addressed the leading capitalists of Germany):


: I may cite an example: you maintain, gentlemen, that German business life must be constructed on a basis of private property... I am bound to say that private property can be morally and ethically justified only if I admit that men's achievements are different. Only on that basis can I assert: since men's achievements are different, the results of those achievements are also different. But if the results of those achievements are different, then it is reasonable to leave to men the administration of those results to a corresponding degree. It would not be logical to entrust the administration of the result of an achievement which was bound up with a personality either to the next best but less capable person or to a community which, through the mere fact that it had not performed the achievement, has proved that it is not capable of administering the result of that achievement. Thus it must be admitted that in the economic sphere, from the start, in all branches men are not of equal value or of equal importance.

: OK, let us now pay particular attention to the conclusion of Hitler's train of logic:


: And once this is admitted it is madness to say: in the economic sphere there are undoubtedly differences in value, but that is not true in the political sphere. IT IS ABSURD TO BUILD UP ECONOMIC LIFE ON THE CONCEPTIONS OF ACHIEVEMENT, OF THE VALUE OF PERSONALITY, AND THEREFORE IN PRACTICE ON THE AUTHORITY OF PERSONALITY, BUT IN THE POLITICAL SPHERE TO DENY THE AUTHORITY OF PERSONALITY AND TO THRUST INTO ITS PLACE THE LAW OF THE GREATER NUMBER - DEMOCRACY (ranting emphasis in original).

: Which compares the 'necessity' for the capitalist's economic supremacy with the 'necessity' for the Nazi Party's political supremacy (Both Alan Bullock AND William Shirer confirm this interpretation).

: Did Hitler later break his promise to the leading capitalists---that he would allow them the economic hegemony they craved---and 'nationalize' their businesses?

: Yes... but mainly NO.

: Some top Nazi officials did get a piece of the action (most notably Goring).

: But to call that 'nationalization' would be analogous to calling a mafia protection racket 'nationalization.' Taxation is more like it.

Doc: One can hardly call a Mafia protection racket ‘capitalism’. In any case, only those who were of the proper ‘blood’ (and were connected politically) could take advantage of this ‘respect for private property’.

The only difference between the property-takings of the Bolsheviks and those of the Nazis were that the first were from domestic landowners and businessmen, the latter from foreign and minority landowners and businessmen. Both distributed the resulting loot to their respective supporters, and both used this means to maintain popularity and power amongst their respective constituencies. When the loot ran out (in communist Russia, when industry had been completely strangled; in Nazi Germany, as the conquests became harder and harder), support correspondingly waned.

Observe. Revolutionary fervor peaks amongst the frustrated elites amongst the outsiders. They use a successful revolution to loot the old elite, distributing the results amongst their members. For a time, there is an exponential growth of affluence amongst this new in-group. Then, the intake of loot stagnates. Not being a capitalist system (where wealth creation is a steady function) the members of the new elite turn on each other, this being the last available means to ‘advance’ in a society with a set level of wealth.

This dynamic causes the purges, the ‘next revolution’. And so on, to an inevitable denoument.

B.S.: As Isaac Deutscher observed:


: When the Nazi façade was blown away, the structure that revealed itself to the eyes of the world was the same as it has been before Hitler, with its big industrialists, its Krupps and Thyssens, its Junkers, its middle classes, its Grossbauers, its farm laborers, and its industrial workers.(1)

Doc: You would be better to portray the "Adenaur facade" in this light. Power in the Nazi heirarchy was held in the hands of Party officials first, the military leadership second. The industrialists were a distant third, and were distinguished in this regard differently from that of a more traditional socialist system only in the fact that they were allowed to exist. In point of fact, these businessmen fulfilled the functions of equivalent bureaucrats and office holders in the Bolshevik system. They were little more than extensions of the political apparatus.
: (For further explication on capital's profiteering role in---and support of---the Nazi state, see Franz Neumann's Behemoth, 1944/1966.) (D.C.: I shall look it up, when I have time.)

: Other points:

: : Revolts and revolutions come about in environments of rising expectations, and are initiated by fit, healthy people - not the apocryphical ‘starving masses’ of Marxist mythology.

B.S.: In Marxist 'mythology,' the proletariat is VERY FIT.

Doc: How can this be, if capitalists only allows the proletariat enough to survive on, and work?

: : The biggest problem for most countries is the increasingly lessened need for their services and goods by the industrialized West.

B.S.: Tell that to Bill Gates.

Doc: Mr. Gates is busily arranging something of that sort in China, where busy hackers are attempting to ‘compete’ with his overpriced products. He is, I believe, reminding them that their services are unnecessary - with the help of some State assigned internal security troops, of course.

: : Technology and mechanized production methods has made the sweatshop obsolescent...

B.S.: The sweatshop is obsolescent? Doc:Yes, as is obvious to anyone who lives on the East coast, where scores of empty ‘sweatshops’ dot the landscape. Such institutions have migrated to the poorer areas of the world, and will likely inevitably be replaced by more mechanized means of production in the future.

B.S.: Ever heard of Nike? Purdue Chicken? Kathy Lee Gifford Fashions?

Doc: Yes to all three. Be aware that this style of employment was once ubiquitous; what will those employed in such pursuits do when sneakers are stamped out in robotic factories? When textiles are manufactured in automated plants? They will not quietly migrate back to the farms, sir.

: : The problem is not that workers are being consigned to one discrete task, but to no tasks at all (except, if you consider this a ‘task’, the cashing of their dole or welfare check).

B.S.: If the workers are not doing any tasks 'at all,' pray tell, Doc, WHO is manufacturing Nike sneakers, WHO is dressing chickens, and WHO is sewing Kathy Lee Gifford Fashions?

: Bosses?

Doc: If misery is the only lure for those who make sneakers, dress chickens, and sew clothing, WHO keeps them at their machines? The capitalist Gestapo? Come now. You know as well as I that many of the jobs you mention are competitive … It is actually difficult for people to get them - especially those in foreign countries. Lower standards of living, a population who views the tired old consumer goods of the West as ‘new and exciting’, people looking for a means out of the ‘rich and spiritual’ culture that enslaves them - all these are contributing factors to the popularity - the popularity, mind you - of these jobs. They wouldn’t exist otherwise, as those selfsame empty mills in New England attest.

B.S.: Wait! Here comes the best part:

: : The parts assemblers in Malaysia and Indonesia often are women; for them, it is a way to escape from a predominantly patriarchal society...

: What a consolation! Now they get their starvation rations direct!

Doc: The workers at these plants do not starve. They profit more at factory work than in the duties of their indigenous culture. They would not otherwise work at assembly, nor sew. To acknowledge that would interfere with the argument for becoming their task-masters by ideological divine right, as is the case of those who rule over the peoples of Vietnam. Or, worse still, the Marxist ‘comrades of tradition’ behind the old movement of Mr. Pol Pot. The Taliban has similar aspirations, without the heavier stress on Mohammed; the women there are also benevolently relieved of the exploitation - indeed, on pain of death - that a paid wage earner must suffer.

: Strawberry pickers in California make more than doctors in the socialist-leaning oligarchy of Mexico...

B.S.: I don't know about Mexico's 'socialist-leaning' tendencies---but if you substitute Mexico for Cuba, I can say that you are making a very specious comparison.

Doc: (…without acknowledging that I speak the truth, of course. An article in the New York Times was most informative)

B.S.: In Cuba, a worker would require less wages. Many of the 'costs of living' such as medical care, child care, etc. would be provided gratis by the big, bad state. On the other hand, an American worker would have to turn to the 'free' market to fill these vital needs (whether or not he or she had enough money). Who is to say which 'wage' is less?

Doc: In Afghanistan, all the needs of people are cared for. No one need worry about having their souls corrupted by affluent Western ways. In the old mill towns you (presumably?) despise, a similar ‘womb to tomb’ attitude was extended to the laborers who worked for the local sweatshop owners - pre-built housing, company stores, company functions, etc. The drop in the quality of such ‘managed care’ seems to reflect quite well the conditions in that ‘state-capitalist-society-to-be’, Cuba. No doubt, the connection is purely coincidental.

: : One finds, sir, that when facts are derided as nothing more than ‘stacks of cards’, the result is something less than a winner. Perhaps, if you thought to play the game of economics by rules with a stronger empirical basis, you’d find yourself with a better ‘hand’. For myself, I’d rather bet on what I have.

B.S.: 'Stronger empirical basis'? And what evidence did you proffer?
Doc: The above, sir, I should think would suffice. In any case, I would not insult your intelligence by claiming that you were not aware of the veracity of my statements.

: Note:
: 1. Deutscher, Stalin: A Political Biography, Oxford University Press, 1966 edition, p. 567.

P.S. A side note: If you wish to claim that there are conundrums within the system of capitalistic commerce that need resolution, you would find a more considering ear. One does not wish to see the return of the robber-barons, nor of ‘rule by Pinkerton’. But if the alternative is what you describe as preferable, one need not puzzle too deeply to see why your sort suffer from so much opposition from us ‘lumpen proles’.

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