Capitalism is Opposed to Human Happiness Debate
Date: 07-16-2010, 12:32 PM
The argument I'm presenting here will hopefully be clear and concise. The only thing I am trying to prove that human happiness is opposed to Capitalism, or any system where the means of production are owned and controlled by a very few compared to the whole of society. My argument is for Socialism: the idea that society better serves the needs of its participants when everyone has an equal voice in directing the economy's productive forces. My argument follows this basic reasoning...
(1) Material existence, though not necessary to happiness, certainly helps better provide for it. You could compare sleeping on a bed versus a rock-hard surface, eating nutritious food versus having to live off of rice everyday, or being able to afford necessary medicine for family members versus having to watch them suffer. It is possible, in any of these cases, that the person who does not have the economic opportunity is happier than the person who does; in a sort of Thoreau-esque, rugged individualism. But, for the most part, each of us would imagine ourselves to be happier with the material existence.
(2) There is an inequality of bargaining power between the Capitalist and the laborer; or the one who possesses the factories and mines against the one who creates, maintains, and works them. They need each other, yes, but the worker needs the Capitalist far, far more. This inequality of need, just like any situation where bargaining occurs, leads to an inequality of bargaining power -- and, similarly, an inequality of outcome. No worker can live without having some tools of production, but the majority of these tools are possessed by a very few. Herein leads to the inequality of bargaining power. This means that the laborer must be content to give away a portion of their production to the sustenance of the Capitalist. And, furthermore, it shall be up to the Capitalist to decide whether to plough the fields or harvest them -- whether or not the workers are able or hungry. Food will be destroyed or dumped into the ocean, for instance, when trying to sell it would lead to price declines or lessened profit.
(3) Take that material existence contributes to human happiness and that inequality of bargaining power leads necessarily to inequality of material existence. If we believe in human happiness as an ultimate end of society, then necessarily, it is within our duty to work towards the equalizing of bargaining power for all participants of society. Naturally, there is no way to have them completely equal, unless each person is an equal possessor of the means of production.
This is not to say that everyone should be paid the same wage. It is only to say that society ought to be reorganized so that no person can live off of anyone else, and that each person has the right to claim the full fruit of their labors. This serves our ultimate purpose of human happiness, since it better provides for each member of society to receive according to their contribution, without being subjugated to a master of economy. Hence, Capitalism is opposed to human happiness.
Date: 07-17-2010, 06:32 AM
You're only seing half the picture like most capitalists: in a communist system people will always wait to do things till another day, because the weather is not perfect today and they're feeling tired. problem is not capitalism, problem is capitalism controling our government. (political prostitution, lobbyists, special interest groups having access and being able to influence government)
Date: 07-17-2010, 07:37 AM
One could easily argue that socialism runs contrary to human happiness. Workers always overvalue their labor. When the worker controls the industry, benefits become primary and production becomes secondary. Production and efficiency are reduced. This creates a reduced supply of the goods described above as promoting happiness. Thus such gooods are harder to obtain and there are fewer such goods to go around. The quality of life for all is then reduced.
Date: 07-17-2010, 08:26 AM
I realize I am just being pedantic, but Capitalism isn't opposed to human happiness. Most of the maladies people cite when criticizing capitalism have very little to do with flaws in the system its self. It's my contention that most of the problems people attribute to capitalism actually arise because the participants in the system are flawed.
Greed is a human flaw, and exists independent of capitalism. No economic system would be immune to the negative impact caused by greed.
I would say that happiness is actually a relative term. The factors that a person use to measure their happiness are usually determined by the culture in which they live.
I don't completely agree with your assertion that economic opportunity and the material existence it provides are essential to happiness. This might be case in western society at the moment, but it is by no means an absolute. I think that greed has driven the manipulation of capitalism by humans resulting in consumerism.
Consumerism is responsible for making economic opportunity such a significant factor in people's determination of their "happiness". When people start buying more and more things they don't need, the value the society places on economic opportunity is inflated. Instead of economic opportunity being seen as simply a tool that can be used to help meet basic needs, it becomes much more.
Anyway, my point is that people will always find a reason to be happy. I think that what makes a person happy is largely dependent upon what they have.
Individual laborers aren't on equal footing with management.
A labor force united into an effective union that actually functions as a union and not a political lobbyist places labor and management on equal footing.
Economic inequality isn't a real problem.
It doesn't matter if the guy next to me has 100 billion dollars as long as I have what I need.
If there are a large number of people who don't have what they need, then that is a problem. Still, the problem isn't really economic inequality. The problem is poverty. In this case it would be more effective to focus efforts on solving the problem of poverty.
I think that greed would be just as problematic for socialism or communism as it is for capitalism. As long as there are people willing to exploit other people for their own gain, there will be abuse of whatever system is in place by people seeking an advantage.
Date: 07-17-2010, 08:56 AM
That is the difference between bourgeois and communist ideology:the first comes from the fact that people are sh*t - only the feelings of fear, hunger and sex ruled them;the second one comes from the fact that people are not bad - the sense of duty, conscience, love of neighbor can prevail in them. Bourgeois ideology is appealing to the animal instincts - communist ideology is appealing to the human to the human origin,that is the bourgeoisie draws people back to the animal - communists forward to the human.