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  • Capitalism is Opposed to Human Happiness Debate, Volume 2

    A Debate with
    the community of PoliticsForum.org

    Part #26

    Posts #126-#128

    By Rain Rabbit
    Image: By Rain Rabbit, CC BY-NC 2.0

    Post #126

    Date: Fri 13 Aug 2010

    lucky wrote:
    I didn't realize that you were just talking about land. "Capital" typically is more general, and often doesn't even include land. But OK, I'll interpret your "capital" to mean "land" then.

    I believe products are the result of raw resources and labor. Since products are more commonly viewed as a result of capital and labor, I tend to identify capital with raw resources, seeing the "capital" part of the expression as the "non-labor" component. The reason for my preference is that capital, viewed as the "means of production", is ultimately itself the result of raw resources and labor, so it's not a cleanly separable component. A generic term for "raw resources" and practical ownership of raw resources is usually (if not always) in terms of land and land ownership.

    lucky wrote:
    I don't know what you mean by "valid" and "rightfully". Ownership is a legal concept, it's defined by laws, and current law defines private ownership in most countries. In any case, changing ownership ("valid" or not) is "redistribution" by definition.

    What is or is not currently legal is defined by law. But in a discussion like this, we are discussing essentially what the law should be, if it should be anything at all. In making decisions regarding what the law should be, we need to appeal to some other criteria, to determine "validity" or "rightfulness", and this of course is open to debate. But as human beings, we have a capacity for abstraction which allows us to use the concept of validity separately from whether we agree on the validity of specific cases.

    lucky wrote:
    I see. That contradicts the statement you made that you prefer retaining "the free market system" of land ownership. If there is a country that is a monopoly land owning corporation, that's not "retaining the current free market system" in land, it's creating a socialist system of land ownership.

    I should not have said retaining the "current" free market system. After all, I was proposing a change.
    According to wikipedia,
    "A free market is a market without economic intervention and regulation by government except to enforce ownership ("property rights") and contracts. "
    Also, in the second paragraph, it notes that
    "Such an economy in its most radical form does not exist in developed economies, however efforts made to liberalise an economy or make it "free-er" attempt to limit the role of government in such a way."

    So if I were to adapt my proposal to conform with a pure "free market", I'd need to separate the function of land management from the function of enforcing ownership and contracts. The management of the land would then be run by a private corporation, or even several, but enforcement of citizen's ownership of a share of the land would be enforced by government. This would fall within the constraint of a pure free market.

    Alternatively, I can also deny the existence of any non-owning "government" at all, and look at the country (not the "government") as a private land owning corporation, with a multitude of equal share holders (corresponding to "citizens"), probably most residing on this land, which enforces it's rules on the land it owns, much like land owners do today, with private security services. If it is not the only such country, then it is not a monopoly, provided each country cannot prevent any resident from leaving. And by the way, a completely free market would not exclude the possibility of a monopoly.

    lucky wrote:
    Whether citizens are "shareholders" or "citizens" of the state doesn't change that fact - if the state owns it all, it's socialism, not "free market", as far as land is concerned. The first line in Wikipedia says "Socialism is an economic and political theory advocating public or common ownership of the means of production", which is what you are advocating regarding land. There is no "market" if there is just one participant (the state corporation).

    It is a free market provided that the "shareholders" or "citizens" are free to leave, and choose another country. Also, being socialism as defined above does not preclude it from being a free market -- they are not diametrically opposed concepts:
    According to Wikipedia,
    "It [the free market] is the opposite of a controlled market, where the government regulates how the means of production, goods, services and labor are used, priced, or distributed. " In the system I proposed, the people (public) determine these things. Partly as shareholders, and partly as consumers, both well within the traditions of a free market economy. I call that democracy. If it's also socialism, so be it. Hopefully we can go beyond semantic/slogan debates (re. capitalism, socialism, free-market, democracy, redistribution) and deal with the real underlying issues.

    lucky wrote:
    Also, I wonder what if in 10 years the distribution of shares of the state corporation is unequal - would you not repeat the redistribution? Or would you ban trading to prevent it from happening? If you ban trading, that's not "ownership" of those shares, ownership implies the right to trade.

    You can sell your share to the pool -- essentially all the other share holders. And you can buy a share, if you have none. It's more a restriction on trading, perhaps severe, but not a total ban. Ownership is a claim on a portion of the economy, such as its produce. It does not automatically imply, as you suggest, that you can freely trade with whatever you own: People who sell poisons, such as drugs and alcohol, or exotic animals, and I'm sure a myriad of things I can't recall at this time, need special permits to do so. And perhaps the most extreme example is you. You own yourself, and you can rent your self, your time, your skills, as most of us do as employees. But you can't sell yourself. You cannot assent to becoming a slave. Our prohibition is against owning slaves, but voluntarily consenting to be a slave is at least being complicit in this illegal activity. BTW, according to Jewish law and tradition, it is explicit: a Jew cannot voluntarily consent to becoming a slave. So ownership does not automatically imply that you can trade what you own. There are other aspects of ownership.

    Post #117

    Date: Sat 14 Aug 2010

    Hello, Radical,

    CNT-FAI Radical wrote:
    There is no natural form of wealth that has any use without first being labored upon. Even the pear was originally inedible in ancient times, just as domesticated wheat was originally created by man, with selective breeding occuring over thousands of years by nameless farmers. The fields that are currently farmed throughout Europe and North America were originally not fertile at all -- and before there could have been any harvest "from nature," it had to be drained, dug up, and ploughed. Even the air you breathe cannot be taken in without first the exertion of expanding and contracting your lungs. All of these things, whether they have value or not, have absolutely no utility without labor. And, naturally, by the utility theory of value on its own, there is nothing with value that has no labor. The biggest gold deposit in the world could be worth millions, but it provides no utility to anyone, if it is left there unmined.

    Exerting energy in order to take in air (i.e. breathing) is not considered labor, in common usage of the word. In general, exerting energy for one's own pleasure or recreation is not considered labor. Sometimes we even pay for the privilege of doing ("working", exerting energy for) things we like to do. Life in some environments requires more labor than in others, yet the quality of life, the value of the environment in which one lives, is better/higher in environments which require little labor. Farming requires less labor in innately fertile regions, and in fact often depletes fertile areas, reducing their value. Gold has little utility other than people's belief in its value. It is not in principle necessary to dig it up -- if people believed in the value of the gold still in its mine, they could just as well use certificates of ownership of shares of the mine as they use certificates of ownership of shares of the gold as they have been doing for centuries. It's about belief, not labor. Granted that labor was invested to mine the gold to assure people of its presence, but its use as money is so abstract that this labor was only needed because of people's disbelief.

    CNT-FAI Radical wrote:
    Besides, if everything is provided by god, doesn't that give incentive that everything must be equally shared and owned? "God provided this land. Not your laborers who made it useful, planted on it, and harvested from it. Thank god, not labor." Oh, so I guess nobody can own the land, then, right? Nobody can own the forests, the mines, the factories, or anything, because it was all provided by god for humanity to share amply, right? I mean, it would be ridiculous to argue it the other way: "Since god made everything for mankind, only a very few people should be allowed to own everything that the very few possess! And when they say that they labored for it, we shall say that god provided it, and they have done nothing for it, though we take the expense of paying them for nothing. It is natural that if god provided something, I can pick it right up, and own it all by myself, even if it means millions of starving outside of the farm or factory gates."

    Yes, that's my point, that land must be equally shared and owned. But why "everything"? Why exaggerate? Setting up a straw-man? God (or nature, if you like) provided this land. "Thank God". The laborers invested their efforts to make it more useful to man. Thank the laborers. Pay them. Why put these gratitudes in contention with each other? Setting up a straw-man? I certainly don't believe that "Since god made everything for mankind, only a few people should be allowed to own everything that the very few possess." Who are you talking to? In whose mouth are you putting the words that the laborers "have done nothing for it"? Perhaps it is natural that if god provided something, I can pick it right up, but it is certainly arrogant to assume that he provided it for me and me alone. Those who believe in God also believe in tithing and charity, and they thank God for their good fortune, but not without gratitudes and gratuities to the laborers. Their habit of being thankful to God forms a habit of gratefulness that extends beyond God. Thanking God is a statement of humility and appreciation for things they could not have done by themselves, and that extends to thanking workers and others who provide things they could not provide for themselves.

    CNT-FAI Radical wrote:
    Either (a) labor creates wealth, and the common laborers deserve it, or (b) god created wealth, and the common laborers deserve it. I don't see either being reasoned out to "therefore, a very few should have economic domination over the many."

    Who are you responding to? certainly not me! And that's OK, but why pretend this is a response to me?

    CNT-FAI Radical wrote:
    That is incorrect. These "release all inventions you have made" contracts are standard in every single business. They don't even imagine that any of their assembly workers are going to rise to any height. Except with excessive investment in a diploma, (capital, as in a title of nobility) there is no job out there that pays you just to invent or innovate, nor is there any encouragement or opportunity for those who have that type of genius. It's why Charles Babbage died in poverty, why we don't know the name of the inventor of the automatic steam engine, and why the inventor of Windows and MS-DOS was paid $50 thousand for a contract worth $50 billion.

    Your approach to economics is flawed. There is no person who is hired with this clause on the grounds that they will be innovative. It is strictly a matter of the bargaining power of the few over the many in taking away more of the productions of labor. Perhaps the ideas of laborers in inventions, too, are provided by god, just as much as all of the welath in the world?

    There wouldn't be any "release all inventions you have made" contracts, standard or not, if they don't "imagine that any of their assembly workers" are going to invent anything. Your statement that no person is hired with this clause on the grounds that they might be innovative makes no sense! Of course bargaining power is involved, and I don't dispute the need to equalize bargaining power, or even more simply, directly, and accountably, equalize people's claims to raw resources (land), which are essential to life. Examples of injustice cannot be used alone in evaluating a system. They have to be weighed against examples of justice, etc. In my view, in the U.S., injustice occurs, but more often, justice prevails.

    CNT-FAI Radical wrote:
    As noted above, multiple times, this so-called buyer-system does not contribute toward scientific development, except in the sense that it might be slightly better than the Dark Ages. Why could the inventor of MS-Dos and the Windows file system not have received, say, $20 billion of the profits he created? In this system, (a) people have an ambition to invent, and (b) they are rewarded for it. This is not the case in your system. Your analysis of the wage as a "bet" does not meet of any the real evidence in our world. And there's no point in "droning the same anthem- division of labour, wages, surplus value, capital, etc.- arriving at the same conclusion, that production is insufficient to satisfy all needs; a conclusion which, if true, does not answer the question: 'Can or cannot man by his labour produce the bread he needs? And if he cannot, what is hindering him?'" (Peter Kropotkin, "The Conquest of Bread," 1892, Chapter 14, Part I.)

    Apparently, you choose to ignore the abundant evidence around you that the "so called buyer-system" (I assume you mean the so-called "capitalist", non-collectivist systems existing in the world today) is thriving and has been the economic engine behind the most innovative and productive societies in the world. If there's any problem with it, it is that its benefits might not have been distributed fairly to everyone. "My" system addresses only this distribution issue, and does not tamper with the natural evolution of efficient economic organs in a free market.

    CNT-FAI Radical wrote:
    Arie wrote:
    That there are unfair deals and patents that perhaps should not have been granted is not a problem with capitalism but with human error, which would occur in any system.

    So things that are good that occur in Capitalism, like competitive trade between equal-bargaining units, should then be considered "part of human nature," and not part of Free Trade. Instead of your reasoning of human nature, I'll take the evidence of history for the past five thousand years of wages -- the monoposony power of a few has always led to the greatest of inequalities, as well as the mass poverty and unemployment of the masses. This is definitely not part of human nature, as poverty and hunger were not known to Africa, South America, or North America until the arrival of the idea of property.

    "Uh, yeah, we have the perfect social order, but somehow, because of human error, more than three quarters of the planet are on the brink of starvation." I do not see the appeal in this argument.

    Again, blanket overgeneralized statements are the grounds upon which straw men arguments are constructed. I never said that all things that are wrong with capitalism are because of human nature, nor that everything that is right with it is(or is not) because of human nature. This is the simple point you are trying to obscure: In order to compare systems of social or economic organization, you have to factor out those thing which they have in common, specifically, human beings and their characteristics. Human error will occur in all of them. They might handle these differently, but they are there. To compare, you have to be able to count, not just discount.

    CNT-FAI Radical wrote:
    Arie wrote:
    The competition between companies is sometimes quite productive...

    Human nature. Not Capitalism, remember?

    Some systems encourage competition and some discourage it. Like athletic competition, it occurs in the context of a game, a set of rules, a system. The competitors get credit for competing, but the system gets credit for defining the playing field.

    CNT-FAI Radical wrote:
    Arie wrote:

    Sometimes it is about obstructing the competition by bettering them in productivity. I believe that's what gave rise to the amazing quick and on-going development of the personal computer, from chips to software, with the corresponding drop in prices.

    Chips like the transistor, which were developed by engineers working under a government-funded research and development contract? You mean computers like, the CPU, invented by Charles Babbage, who died in poverty and watched the majority of his children die from easily-curable diseases? And you mean software like MS-Dos built by Seattle Computer Products, who received almost none of the profits received from this product?

    No, I mean chips that have been developed since then, "light years" ahead of the transistor. The "Central Processing Unit" is not something that would not be "invented" by any number of other "inventors", nor is MS-Dos, whose success was due to circumstance more than its brilliance, and better operating systems were in fact available at the time. That's not discounting the good work that these people did, only putting it in perspective.

    CNT-FAI Radical wrote:
    Your system is only a hundred of how productive it could be. That is because the most productive people are forced to endure the worst of grinding poverty and misery. But the great wealth they create, well, that goes to someone who didn't do anything at all. If we are going to get to a society that is so productive that almost no work is required, it is not going to be through the current society -- which has only beaten down the innovator with miserable exploitation, and punished them solely for the act of thinking.

    There's humor in exaggeration, and this is very funny. Are you kidding? BTW,
    what exactly are you calling 'my' system here? I thought I was very clear about it.

    CNT-FAI Radical wrote:
    You seem like making generalizations about "competition" and immediately attributing it to Capitalism, while the extreme poverty of those who created everything we use is somehow "human error." If that is true, then human error must make up 99.9% of every act of the Capitalists, but I doubt this, seeing as they have maintained their empires reasonably well.

    Did I do that? I don't remember exactly what I was responding to but I was just making a simple statement that competition can be productive. Nor did I attribute "the extreme poverty of those who created everything[?!] we use" to human error. I only attributed the injustice done in some cases to human error, and simply pointed out that this would occur in other systems as well. So you believe that injustice prevails in so-called "capitalist", non-collectivist countries 99.9% of the time? Are you kidding?

    CNT-FAI Radical wrote:
    There are a billion regulations, from wages, to environment, to price-fixing, to union rights, etc., etc.. These are all confirmed proofs that, with perfect liberty and on their own, the Capitalist will do everything that they can to oppress the laboring people, without a single thread of conscience to their thought. The wide amount of restrictions should not be taken as a sign of a good social order -- they are a symptom of the inherent class conflict between those the few who own and the many who work.

    They are not "proofs", since whether they are needed or not is still a huge, open debate. And without laws, the "laboring people, without a single thread of conscience to their thought" would direct their labors to more productive activities (more productive for themselves) like stealing and cheating. Could your thinking possibly be one-sided and biased? Could it possibly be more one-sided and biased?

    CNT-FAI Radical wrote:
    Arie wrote:
    If a "capitalist" gains by creating shortages and withholding introduction of productive machinery, so would the "workers" if they were the ones in charge, for the same reasons: The mechanics of supply and demand don't change. Whatever a "capitalist" (or "worker", for that matter) does which is unethical, should not be done.

    Yes, the mechanics do change. This is like saying "So, you replace the rule of a king with the rule of the people. They still rule in exactly the same way." It is, in fact, exactly the opposite. The purpose of putting the people in charge, whether in politics or economics, is because they are far more responsible in their decision-making, especially in terms of environment, community, society, war, imperialism, poverty, starvation, etc., etc., etc.. It is because the worker lives in a community where they must see the artificial famine and winter they create that they have a personal interest and a moral character that prevents this type of catastrophe. And if the common people don't rule, who do you expect to make decisions? God appears to be the worst absentee landlord in the history of humanity. The common people are those who are best capable of making decisions in their own interest; I would not expect anyone else, especially someone who represents god, to make better decisions, or at least, to make decisions with an eye according to the interest of the people.

    The people, common or uncommon, are those who are best capable of making decisions in their own interest. That's what a "capitalist" does, and that's what "workers" or "common people" do, or would do. They both live in the same world, and I agree that the "capitalist" should not be immune to the harm created by the production he owns. Nor should the workers. Often, workers are at odds with environmentalists because they believe in "working for a living" above what they call "tree hugging".

    CNT-FAI Radical wrote:
    (a) Why should someone benefit from the work of others? You call it ownership, but be realistic: ownership of productive property, like a deed to nobility, is the right to live off of the work of others, and nothing else.

    No, its the right control what you own. For example, if you created this productive property, and therefore you own it, why could you not decide what to do with it, and what deals to make in renting or selling it? It's not "benefitting from the work of others" as it is benefitting from your own work, if you made it. If you bought it, then presumably you made a fair exchange for it, possibly with money earned from other work. The issue is not ownership of productive property but whether the exchanges for ownerships and other dealings were fair.

    CNT-FAI Radical wrote:
    (b) As I have pointed out much earlier, all philosophy of Distributivism (of capital) has not been able to produce a society based on equality of bargaining power. This philosophy has failed, with the homestead and the artisan movement, with independent agriculturalists whether in Russia or Canada. Redistributing a little land here and there, or setting up professionals, has not been able to offset the fact that the vast majority of important production is done collectively. Since workers do not have the capital to invest in their own cooperative, it tends to happen instead that capitalists buy up mines and factories, which workers could hardly afford. Nowhere is there any reason or sign for believing that widely distributing the land or the means of production to a few "smaller capitalists" will produce significantly larger bargaining power for the worker. There is more, but not much more. And in the end, the great vast majority of society is still left to beg a very few, though it is technically "more than before," for the right to bread. Wherever it has been practised, it has not worked to change bargaining power significantly, nor has it worked to even sustain itself.
    As I pointed out earlier... It's been done a million times, it's failed a million times.

    I was not talking about "distributing the land to a few smaller capitalists", but to virtually everyone, via shares. If the workers have a share, and hence some minimal income, they have less critical need for "larger bargaining power", and they have the option to say "no" to work, which is significant bargaining power. The kind of distribution I was proposing has never failed, because it's never been tried, to my knowledge.
    Man has tried to fly "a millions times", and "failed a million times", until recently. It has to be done right.

    CNT-FAI Radical wrote:
    I have only asked one simple question: what form of social organization provides the greatest benefit to every participant of society? Yes, I know that investors "lead corporations," like kings "lead nations." The question is not "do they deserve absolute power for their contributions?" The question is, "Hey, isn't there a better way of doing this?"

    Yes, and I've expressed my opinion on what a better way would be.

    CNT-FAI Radical wrote:
    You bring up "human error" to defend the problems of Capitalism. But I cannot bring up "human characteristics" that have existed for millions of years? I am not arguing for what is natural, but for what is most accomodating to human nature. The collective and the commune has been practised everywhere, from France to Mexico, in ancientest times to today. A massive corporation that owns everything, with everyone being told that they have an equal share, sounds like the worst nightmare to come out of George Orwell's 1984. In contrast to libertarian collectivism, your system of the massive corporation does not seem accomodating to the inherent characteristics of human nature, such as the desire to socialize and collectivize, as well as to control the world that you directly experience.

    I didn't "bring up human error to defend the problems of Capitalism" but to emphasize that they occur in every system and need to be factored out when making comparisons. "My" system of everyone having an equal share of raw resources does not preclude socializing, "collectivizing" and controlling the world that you directly experience. These depend on operational details of land management that should be allowed to evolve naturally. The only constrain of "My" system is that everyone has a share of the land. BTW, "My" system falls in the category of "Georgism", but "Georgists" can disagree -- I'm presenting my preferences.

    CNT-FAI Radical wrote:
    Company A is a smelting refinery managed by its workers. Company B is a mine that digs up ore. They trade with each other. At no point, ever within these cooperatives, is someone going to say "But wait, he made that, and I have no right to use it, and how dare he take from me what I willingly traded to him in an equal position of bargaining!" The regard to other workers who created it has been given: they were paid according to the value that they created. Nowhere does this occur within Capitalism.

    ? Either this actually occurs constantly in Capitalism, or I don't understand what you are saying.

    CNT-FAI Radical wrote:
    I was making a response to your argument of "spreading out capital" as a means of alleviating the problem of inequality of bargaining stations between society's participants -- but if you meant shareholding, that's something else. Either way, what's the difference between saying every worker should have an equal voice in the decision-making process of where they labor and saying every worker should receive an equal amount of shares in some company or another? In my understanding, you seem to be simply applying terms of modern Capitalism with those of traditional Anarchism and Socialism.

    Bingo! The point is to go beyond the slogan words. The point is that you can describe one system within the context or concept frame of another, so you don't have to be so "radical". But there are still fundamental differences between our views (regarding the value of work, raw resources, and capital ownership, for example).

    CNT-FAI Radical wrote:
    I have already cited the statistics and the books written by these economists. Citation of evidence is not "an appeal to authority." It is an appeal to evidence. Those quotes are summaries, in my opinion, of the presented evidence, which I also showed. If you disagree with the summary of the evidence, investigate it, and tell me why.

    Somehow, I don't trust that your evidence is balanced, unaffected and not selected by your preconceived biases. I've spend enough time responding to you, saying why I disagree. I'm the one best capable of deciding how to spend my time.

    Post #128

    Punkerslut (using the alias CNT-FAI Radical)...
    Date: Thu 19 Aug 2010

    Hello, Rugoz,

    Rugoz wrote:
    Don't understand why workers should have no bargaining power. In most industrialized countries you've got a guaranteed minimal income (very basic of course), but workers usually earn more.

    This is true, but the same applies to slaves, who are guaranteed basic sustenance for life, but often more than this. Especially in the case of the personal servants of the upper class. Either way, the lack of bargaining power should be clear from the social organization: the workers, possessing nothing, except at the permission to work for the capitalist, must submit, or beg for a living, while living in the most meagre situation. The Capitalist, on the other hand, is not subject to this situation. Of course not, it is the very opposite, and the Capitalist knows this very well. That is why during the 1920's, millions of immigrants from Europe were brought to the US as indentured servants. It was by bringing in those who were extremely poor and would accept anything, that workers unions were crushed, as they made the perfect replacements for organized workers. Likewise, such an introduction of underpaid labor always depresses wages, which is why most developed nations, like the US and most of Europe, rely on immigrant labor in the lowest paid occupations.

    Rugoz wrote:
    About the capital stuff. In the end individuals or companys will always need investment (credit/shares). Nobody will give you any money without some kind of return (interest rates/dividends).
    Now of course workers generate capital but its often the business model which decides how productive this capital is. E.g. the search engine of altavista was as good as the one from google,
    but google's clean and simple interface made it a success.

    Do you really think some CEO made that decision? CEO from Altavista: "Hey, let's get an involved interface." CEO from Google: "Hey, let's get a clean interface." ? Nope, it did not happen like that. Chances are that both produced numerous prototypes from their software engineers and programmers, after doing intensive software specification and design (UML, use-case scenarios, actor-object interaction, state diagrams, digraphs or transition diagrams, class diagrams, etc., etc..). And before any of this is even brought to the table, you're talking about statisticians analyzing market trends as much as software developers researching market trends, whether it's the open-source field or reverse-engineering products of competitors.

    So, all it took for the CEO was to say, "According to the skill and ability of our professionals, or according to their labor, let's go with the sound business plan." That's a CEO does. If you're a worker, would you accept a significant increase in wages and autonomy at work, if it simply required democratic decision-making with your co-workers? And since the majority of society works to live, it seems like such a transition would be at the great, vast benefit to the common people.

    Rugoz wrote:
    Of course some workers may have had that idea. Actually a problem google (and other tech companies) face are employees which leave the company when they have a good idea and start their own business.

    I am not saying that people who own business, and make inventions, should not be rewarded for them. In fact, I argue for the very opposite, since much of our current technology was developed by exploited workers. The invention of the automobile engine has never been paid for -- Nikola Tesla was ripped off by Edison. The automatic boiler, MS-Dos, and the railroad are among similar inventions with this problem. Charles Babbage lost most of his children to the grinding, miserable poverty of his existence, and depressed by such a loss, must have put off inventing for some time. For an inventor to make anything out of their invention, even today, they need capital.

    Does it not seem advantageous, to both inventors and to society at large, that all productive property is managed collectively? In the first case, it genuinely provides the avenues for self-development for those who want to invent, as society will have every benefit in fostering such brilliance -- the common people will be led to such a policy by their self-interest. And, in the second case, the difficulty of capitalism and exploitation is removed. Inventions no longer exist to inhibit the worker and the consumer, like the "1-Click Purchase" patent by Amazon, which was legally granted to completely destroy any other online businesses. Nor would these new electronics and cellphones be manufactured in miserable conditions where child laborers are exposed to chemicals and unsafe conditions. Rather, these new inventions will exist for the benefit of the whole of society.

    My argument for collectivism and libertarian Socialism, in terms of invention, is simple: society, benefiting from invention, has more of an incentive to motivate and enable anyone with a new idea, while at the same time removing exploitation from those who allegedly "benefit" from technology under Capitalism.

    Hello, lucky,

    lucky wrote:
    Then this whole thread makes no sense to me. You present your ideas how the the current structure of companies should be abolished, how all companies should operate, who should own what, who should get profits, who should have the right to manage what, how everybody should be able to "claim the full fruit of their labors", etc. And then you say there would be no laws. You've been talking about laws the whole time, otherwise I don't know what you're talking about. In one place you said "shouldn't we ask what system best serves this purpose?" and now you say there should be no system. You talk of ownership, yet you say there should be no laws. The concept of ownership is a legal one, ownership is all about laws against other people using something.

    Where have I talked about laws? Where have I talked about legislation, and the courts to enforce it, or the police, and the bullets to back up their threats of law enforcement? No where.

    It is quite possible to say that workers should be the possessors of all society's tools of productions without believing in a government. Why should one require the other? Is it possible for one person to own a factory, without a government? Why, sure. Is it possible for a group of people to collectively own a factory, without a government? Oh, no, apparently not, because that can only be done by laws! Really? What about the occupation of the Lipp factory in France, 1970's, or the current occupations of factories in Ireland and France, because fo the recession, or the occupied, Argentine factory in the movie "the Take"? What about the factory and mine seizures of the Italian Syndicalists in the 1920's (covered by the written material by Amadeo Bordiga)? Or Mexico, 2006, where workers seized the means of production without orders, authority, or law, in the city of Oaxaca? The Paris Commune of 1871 or the Revolutionary periods of Russia (March-November, 1917 and 1905), the Spanish Civil War in Barcelona or the Free Territory in the Ukraine? These are all just a handful of examples where the workers themselves expropriate the means of production and operate it for themselves, without law, authority, or government.

    And the concept of ownership has existed long before governments. In fact, there is no point or purpose to any government whatsoever, except where ownership and property have been firmly established. How do you expect there to be laws about ownership, where people do not have the idea of ownership?

    CNT-FAI Radical wrote:
    Arie is correct about my interpretation of "negotiating independent cooperatives."

    lucky wrote:
    This again makes no sense. Arie talks about one "cooperative" hiring workers from another for an agreed upon payment, without sharing profits from capital with them, something you call "living off others". You said that all workers should always share the profits from the capital they work on. You present opposite views, and then you say his view is your view.

    Where workers receive the whole of the fruit of their labor, there is no exploitation. And this is only done where they are their own masters and workers. The fact that one cooperative trades another object to another cooperative is not exploitation because the workers receive the whole of the exchange value of the commodity. That's the definition of exploitation: to take from others without contributing. Where the workers are receiving everything they produce, there are none who take from without contributing, as such commodites are traded for an exchange value.

    There was one section where Arie described my vision, and another section where Arie described Arie's own vision. They are distinct sections. Allow me to quote a simple selection from 1918 on this style of Libertarian Socialist Organization...

    Sylvia Pankhurst wrote:

    A system of society in which the land, the means of production, and distribution are held in common.

    Production is for use, as and when required, not for profit, exchange or sale.

    The organisation of production and distribution is by those who do the work.

    Each workshop is an autonomous unit working the general welfare and mutual harmony with the other workshops producing the like utility, also with those from whom the raw material is received and to whom the finished articles are transmitted. (Emphasis mine.)

    Communism is a classless order of society in which all shall have leisure and culture, and all shall be secured from want.

    ("Education of the Masses," by Sylvia Pankhurst, Dreadnought Pamphlet No. 1, 1918, 16 pages, published by The Dreadnought Publishers, 152 Fleet Street, E.C.4.)

    Do not focus on the word "Communism" and what you may think you know about it. Focus on the substance and the content of the definition.

    lucky wrote:
    as I understood it would generate much worse results in terms of productivity than capitalism or even the normal state-monopoly-on-capital socialism.

    Well, let's see... According to the book "Making Mondragon: The Growth and Dynamics of the Worker Cooperative Complex (Cornell International Industrial and Labor Relations Report)" by William Whyte, a federation of worker cooperatives has a 98% business success rate, over a period of between 10 and 60 years. Whereas in United States Capitalism, it is only 50% after a few years (US census Bureau). Or, allow me to quote the situation in Revolutionary Spain...

    Tom Wetzel wrote:
    Another industry that was totally re-organized was hair-cutting. Before July 19th, there had been 1,100 hairdressing parlors in Barcelona, most of them extremely marginal. The 5,000 assistant hairdressers were among the lowest-paid workers in Barcelona. The Generalitat had decreed a 40-hour week and 15 percent wage increase after July 19th - one of the Esquerra's [the heavy-Liberal and mild-Socialist in office] attempts to woo worker support. This spelled ruin for many hairdressing shops. A general assembly was held and it was agreed to shut down all the unprofitable shops. The 1,100 shops were replaced by a network of 235 neighborhood haircutting centers, with better equipment and lighting than the old shops. Due to the efficiencies gained, it was possible to raise wages by 40 percent. The entire network was run through assemblies of the CNT barber's union. The former owners became members of the union(38). (From "Workers Power and the Spanish Revolution.")

    When it comes to business, why should the inventor of the computer, the railroad, the automobile engine, and the railroad have no idea on how to implement these devices profitably? It seems, on the contrary, the complete opposite, with a Capitalist-dominated government decreeing some wage increase that destroyed industries, while the workers themselves had to fulfill the so-called "entrepreneurial ability" by themselves organizing business as they saw most profitable.

    lucky wrote:
    Although now I think he doesn't have a coherent system in mind, just slogans, since he contradicts himself about the basic laws of his world.

    Just because you have not heard of an idea before does not mean that it is "just slogans" and that it contradicts "laws of his world." For example, I'll look up Wikipedia right now. Collectivist-Anarchism: "Collectivist anarchism (also known as anarcho-collectivism) is a revolutionary[1] doctrine that advocates the abolition of the state and private ownership of the means of production. Instead, it envisions the means of production being owned collectively and controlled and managed by the producers themselves."

    See, now that wasn't so hard, was it? Perhaps you haven't noticed that I've referenced communities, multiple times already, where such a system was implemented with unbelievable success. Again, read the book "Homage to Catalonia" by George Orwell, if you need a believable, primary source.

    Hello again, Rugoz,

    Rugoz wrote:
    I meant that workers actually have bargaining power and are not the helpless slaves as people here portray them.
    People also get a minimal income without working, even if they refuse to work at all (at least where I live).

    All of the legal reforms you referencing, such as minimum income and unemployment insurance, are laws that have been made to curtail the absolute, excessive, violent abuses of the Capitalist class. OSHA did not enact safety regulations, just as something to do, but because mine companies were not using safety equipment, allowing their own people to die in miserable, awful conditions. So, those laws that you are referencing, without them the Capitalists would reduce human life to absolute, slavery-like conditions. And even today, there are sweatshops in foreign companies where sexual abuse is rampant, factories that improperly dispose hazardous waste in the ocean and streams, and price-fixing schemes between capitalists. Even with all that regulation, you haven't been able to turn the heart of Capitalism toward any noble or good endeavor, and wherein it seeks profit, it is by taking from others.

    So, yes, there has been some progress, but it's not as you're portraying it. Minimum wage laws, abolishment of child labor, and safe equipment laws are not the result of "Enlightened Capitalism." They are restraints upon the beast, to prevent its worst excesses from being inflicted upon the people. It still consumes human life, but simply not as much. However, they are proof of the innate inability of Capitalism to serve the interests of humanity, as even these regulations have not prevented abuses -- as there has never been a period in any industrial nation of full employment, though no nation lacks willing workers or useful capital.

    Rugoz wrote:
    So it is not allowed for anyone to own capital outside the company you currently work at? That would be the logical conclusion.
    If you establish a new firm you will only get credit from other companies which are owned by their workers.
    I don't see any benefit here. There will still be workers (or capitalists, this seperation is stupid anyway) who own more of the company then others,
    because some can save more of their salaries.

    New firms are not established by single workers, but by collective and cooperative efforts of the worker-managed firms. After all, when McDonalds opens up a new restaurant, are they going to pay people $0.15 an hour to save on costs of investment? No, that'd be ridiculous. If people aren't that stupid when taking orders for making hamburgers, why would they be that stupid when they're the complete owners and masters of their entire world?

    Hello, Cecil James,

    Cecil James wrote:
    I agree with some of this. However, it assumes that production and human happiness are diametrically opposed. This can be the case but I would argue that it's more often not the case.

    Who said that? Worker-managed cooperatives are productive. Don't see a contradiction there. On the other hand, Capitalism is not productive. AGM, who represents Siemens, Alstrom, Areva, Schneider and Japanese firms Fuji, Hitachi, Mitsubishi Electric, Toshiba and Japan AE Systems, was fined $513 million for organizing to fix production and prices. ("Vote call by Siemens shareholders," BBC.)

    Worker-cooperatives are productive to feed their members. Capitalists are unproductive because it increases prices in the basic supply and demand schematic. Noww... if production is counter to human happiness, then Capitalism is the best system in the world! Instead, I've spent quite a few pages here talking about it is unproductive and inefficient, citing numerous examples about how it is neither productive nor does it seek to meet the needs of the people. Rather, collectivism where everyone has a direct voice in the means of production is more productive and has been able to better serve the interests of society's participants. Since this has been the argument since page one, hhmmmmm.... how does this assume that productive is counter to human happiness? Could you elaborate?

    Hello, Michaeluj,

    Michaeluj wrote:
    I just want to add that slavery provides no material benefit to the slaves while capitalism provides increased material benefit to the workers, despite both being 'prone to production'. Thus, capitalism cannot be compared to slavery in terms of material benefit.

    Show me one slave that lives off of nothing. Can't do it. Doesn't matter if you call their ragged clothing and bowl of rice as "wages" or "income," because it is essentially the same thing. If Capitalism increased the material benefit to workers, as opposed to slavery, then why are Capitalists producing material in factories and sweatshops manned by forced labor, like in Burma and China? Why are Capitalists funding coups to establish feudal or slave-like conditions? Hell, some slaves live very long, healthy lives, especially servants of the rich. Let me show the child workers of Capitalism...

    Sylvia Pankhurst wrote:
    All sorts of manufacturing work was carried on under crude and brutal conditions. The children thrust into premature and excessive labour, suffered from occupational diseases and malformation. The Nottingham lace workers were afflicted with eye troubles. The pottery workers from lead paralysis and collic in the glazing departments, and injury to the lungs in the scouring rooms. The glassblowers from blindness, rheumatism, and other ailments. The mining children had the hardest lot of all, and were so tired by their toil that they often, had to be led or carried home from the pits and usually fell asleep before they could be put to bed. They were frequently injured by falls of coal or rock, or by the tubs and machinery. Their work being mainly to push or drag the tubs along the narrow workings, was excessively arduous; they became dwarfed, bowlegged, crippled and otherwise deformed, suffered from curvature of the spine, abcesses and boils on the head from pushing the coal tubs with it; and on the back from getting it scraped on the rocks as they bent to their load, and from carrying coal on the back. They contracted heart trouble through excessive exertion, lung trouble through the lack of ventilation in the mines, eye trouble, rheumatism, boils from working in salt water, rupture and disease of glands and joints. (Pankhurst, Sylvia, "Education of the Masses," 1918)

    As you can see, the actual liberty and living conditions, whether called wages or allotment, may actually be identical situations. What did Capitalism do to help these children have increased material benefit? Nothing. And everything we have today is from restricting Capitalism more and more, from the abolishment of child labor to the abolishment of dangerous conditions in mines. These were not welcomed by Capitalists. They called it what the US government called it: COMMUNIST REVOLUTION. So, why have you suddenly adopted the ideals of increased benefit for the workers, when it has mostly or only been established by those who called themselves Communists, who were themselves, trying to implement Communism? (Jack London, Jacob Riis, Upton Sinclair, CNT-FAI, etc..)

    "Increased material benefit." Oh, yeah, you mean revolutionary Communism. How is this tactic and history, developed by revolutionary socialists and communists, necessarily opposed to the idea of Capitalism being opposed to human happiness? Either you'd have to make a case that child labor and dangerous machinery was removed by economic forces and not laws, or you'd have to argue that the condition of the worker today is worse off because of it, since so much employment has been diverted from those who would have taken the jobs. (The Monetarist idea.) Or, the alternative to these: human happiness should not be considered when organizing a social order.

    Hello, lucky,

    lucky wrote:
    You can't have private ownership and periodic democratic redistribution. It's one or the other. The definition of ownership is that something is not taken away from you. If you democratically redistribute it, you have to violate ownership.

    The definition of ownership is that something is not taken away from you? You mean, like taxes? Or what about eminent domain? Hey, what about how Britain Capitalists are founded on stealing land from Wales, Ireland, and Scottland, and how about land of the United States government that was stolen from the Native Americans? For some reason, you seem to think property rights matter and are signifciant, when it is only 1 or 2% of the population that has these rights; but when it comes to the great vast majority, they have no property rights. Even when there was no private property, every human being had a common right to the earth, just as much as one has a right to live, since one must take from the earth to live. And if the people didn't have a common right to the earth, then they didn't have a right to live off of it, or, in fact to live at all. So, when all of the earth is most securedly the common, communal property of every human being, how can some Capitalist come and grab one lot as his own, without my permission? After all, my ancestors treated the whole world as one common property, and if I inherit the property of my fathers and my mothers, then all of the world is my one common property...

    ...oh, but you don't care about property traditions established through humanity over the past few million years. Rather, just what has happened recently, and, most conveniently, to those who have established such property rights. Apparently only some property is worth recognizing. The property of the Native Americans? Nope. Property of Catalans to Spain? No. Property of Corsicans to Rome? No. Property of Basques to France? No. Property rights recognized for one, and not the other. If you really believed in anything resembling a system of true property rights, you'd have to believe that Capitalism is the system absolutely most opposed to any type of real property for the masses.

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