Can I be an anarchist and desire wealth as well?

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flaneur
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Jun 11 2009 13:51

This reminds me of Strumpet City; you've Yearling, supporting Larkin whilst being a part of the federation of businesses that is locking out the workers. The paradox is mind boggling.

Boris Badenov
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Jun 11 2009 15:06
Angelus Novus wrote:

If you have a pension fund or a savings account, you are exploiting others. What makes you distinct from a capitalist is that you aren't able to live exclusively by means of such exploitation.

Again, that is not what class exploitation means in capitalism. The idea that what differentiates a worker from a capitalist is a degree of exploitation rather than the possibility to do it in the first place, on a class basis, is ludicrous imo. If I take candy away from a baby I'm not exploiting it. If I rob a bank, I'm not exploiting all the people whose savings I just took. Why is having a "pension fund" any different?

Quote:
An individual can't get rid of the whole system, which is precisely why all this idiotic moralist posturing about whether capitalists "can" be anarchists is so ludicrous.

you said that if the capitalist made up his mind to "get rid of the whole fuckin system" that would obviously be a noble decision and would basically mean he was an anarchist. I'm saying even if he did make up his mind to do that, it would mean nothing, because doing away with the whole fuckin system is not something that happens out of the blue if enough people will it, it is the product of a struggle against capital and its social reality.

Quote:
Wow, so they can exploit themselves on the market by engaging in a self-managed capitlaism? I had no idea this is what you advocate.

lol, your attempts to twist my words are getting more and more hilarious. Obviously I'm not advocating self-managed capitalism, but if the workers had control of one place of production, that would obviously be a step in the right direction imo, because it would speak volumes to other workers as to what's possible. It would be useful insofar as it would make others intensify their struggle, occupy their own workspaces, with the intent of "doing away with the whole fuckin' system."

Quote:
How many wage-laborers have recently decided to "do away with the whole fuckin' system"?

I don't know. Let's see how many new members libcom acquired during the past couple of months. It would be a stretch I know to use that as an indicator of how many workers have recently decided that they've had enough, but the point is whatever their number, it probably is far greater than that of capitalist would-be anarchists (which I would venture to assume is 0 in fact), given especially the current economic situation, where thousands are getting laid off each day (in this part of the world anyway).
Oh but wait, that does not conform to some post-marxist bullshit you read about how the proletariat is no longer the revolutionary agent. Guess that means capitalists can be anarchists afterall. Seriously guy, get real, and stop this nonsense.

Quote:
We're back to my favorite discussion on Libcom: why do class-struggle fanboys always assume workers have an interest as workers in opposing capitalism?

Because their material situation constantly drives them towards a revolutionary direction. Because when your liffe is absolute shit, you're gonna be much more motivated to try anything that might make it better. When your life's okay (as a petit bourgeois) or pretty fuckin great (as a full-blown capitalist), it's all down to philosophical preferences.
And you can take that to the bank.

Skips
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Jun 11 2009 16:05
B_Reasonable wrote:
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buena_exposiva wrote:
I was wondering would it go against anarchist ideals for one to want to desire greater wealth
Quote:
Rob Ray wrote:
The whole point of being an anarchist is to want more - otherwise why on earth would you take the side of the smallest movement around against the entire might of capitalism? As long as you're on the right side when it counts, earn away dude.
Quote:
Rob Ray wrote:I didn't say earning a wage was good, I said it was better than being a capitalist

buena_exposiva:
Conclusion: if you end up earning enough to not need to work anymore (e.g. become a successful football player) you can remain within "anarchist theory & practice" if you simply say that you have retired. If anyone accuses you of being too young to retire then counter it by saying they are (i) ageist, (ii) siding with the bosses to make you waste more of your life in wage slavery, (iii) attacking the rights of all ex-worker pensioners who live off the profits of capitalist speculation.

Female football players earn significantly less then males. So retiring will be hard for her. She should become a doctor I reckon.

Yorkie Bar
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Jun 11 2009 16:09

Pensioners aren't (necessarily) capitalists because they don't manage any capital. They may live off surplus value; that doesn't make them capitalists. They are still dispossessed, in that they have nothing to sell.

~J.

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buena_exposiva
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Jun 11 2009 20:25
sickdog24 wrote:
B_Reasonable wrote:
Quote:
buena_exposiva wrote:
I was wondering would it go against anarchist ideals for one to want to desire greater wealth
Quote:
Rob Ray wrote:
The whole point of being an anarchist is to want more - otherwise why on earth would you take the side of the smallest movement around against the entire might of capitalism? As long as you're on the right side when it counts, earn away dude.
Quote:
Rob Ray wrote:I didn't say earning a wage was good, I said it was better than being a capitalist

buena_exposiva:
Conclusion: if you end up earning enough to not need to work anymore (e.g. become a successful football player) you can remain within "anarchist theory & practice" if you simply say that you have retired. If anyone accuses you of being too young to retire then counter it by saying they are (i) ageist, (ii) siding with the bosses to make you waste more of your life in wage slavery, (iii) attacking the rights of all ex-worker pensioners who live off the profits of capitalist speculation.

Female football players earn significantly less then males. So retiring will be hard for her. She should become a doctor I reckon.

That is a great idea B_Reasonable. I could make enough money and retire early and go travelling and buy all the expensive make up I want. I use that ageism argumen quite a lot by the way wink. However Im a girl and small and football is a no no for me.

Sickdog24 are you out of your mind, being a doctor and seeing lots of blood. Hell no!!

B_Reasonable
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Jun 11 2009 20:26

So that means to become a kosher retired ex-worker, and not a capitalist, you mustn't choose a SIPP, right? Self Invested Personal Pension

Yorkie Bar
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Jun 11 2009 20:43
B_Reasonable wrote:
So you're saying if you don't have a pension and instead successfully save up your money to become a capitalist, you become a capitalist?

Well, obviously.

B_Reasonable wrote:
Didn't really think that one through, did I?

No, no you did not.

~J.

B_Reasonable
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Jun 11 2009 21:36

BigLittleJ:
So only workers who are "forced" to have a pension (Rob Ray's point above), over which they have no control, remain workers whilst those who choose to have a pension, especially one over which they have control, become capitalists upon retirement? This must mean that Class Struggle Anarchists need to be careful as to which worker's struggles they support because if they include demands for better pensions - and surely the best pensions are the one's that the worker's have the greatest control over - then they are effectively struggling to become capitalists?

tsi
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Jun 11 2009 23:54

Okay, so the fundamental class antagonism of capitalist society is somewhat diffuse. (I do think that the extent to which it is diffused is being vastly overstated by the post-marxist crowd here, but that's another issue)

What does this (rather obvious) fact prove about the relevance or existence of said class antagonism and its' relevance to capitalism & communist revolution???

Yes, pensions are funded by the exploitation of other workers. So what?? It's not as if workers' struggles for benefits have ever been centered around the demand "extract surplus value from other workers and give it to us". It's just simply the case that this is the only way that capitalism can meet the demands of workers in struggle, and it's looking like it can't even do this very well at this stage of the game.

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frenzy
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Jun 12 2009 00:04
BigLittleJ wrote:
Communists seek to abolish value.

Actually, they seek to abolish exchange value and keep use value.

BillJ
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Jun 12 2009 00:38
frenzy wrote:
BigLittleJ wrote:
Communists seek to abolish value.

Actually, they seek to abolish exchange value and keep use value.

Communists do seek to abolish value, which is the opposite of use value. Exchange value is simply the form of appearance of value, in an act of exchange. Exchange value expresses the already intrinsic value of a commodity (there are different interpretations of this, but all would agree that communists want to abolish value).

Use value (value in use) simply refers to the usefulness of a particular thing. This is a transhistorical category, while value is a historically specific one (read: capitalism).

Zeronowhere
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Jun 12 2009 10:45
Quote:
Use value (value in use) simply refers to the usefulness of a particular thing.

Hm, doesn't use value refer to the material body of a thing? "A commodity, such as iron, corn, or a diamond, is therefore, so far as it is a material thing, a use value, something useful."

Also, since we were discussing Engels for a second there, this may be relevant, "But I was sick of it all even before I began work; huckstering is too beastly, Barmen is too beastly, the waste of time is too beastly and most beastly of all is the fact of being, not only a bourgeois, but actually a manufacturer, a bourgeois who actively takes sides against the proletariat. A few days in my old man’s factory have sufficed to bring me face to face with this beastliness, which I had rather overlooked."

Yorkie Bar
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Jun 12 2009 11:11
B_Reasonable wrote:
BigLittleJ:
So only workers who are "forced" to have a pension (Rob Ray's point above), over which they have no control, remain workers whilst those who choose to have a pension, especially one over which they have control, become capitalists upon retirement?

It's not a question of being "forced" to do anything, and I don't agree with Rob Ray. It's a very simple question: do you manage/control capital? Yes or no? To the extent that you do, you are a capitalist. It really isn't complicated.

Quote:
This must mean that Class Struggle Anarchists need to be careful as to which worker's struggles they support

It means that communists should advocate that workers make concrete demands rather than leftist demands. In practice we support struggles generally because as an expression of workers self-organisation they have content that goes beyond their form, and that content could lead to concrete demands even if it is expressed initially through leftism.

Quote:
surely the best pensions are the one's that the worker's have the greatest control over

No, the best pensions are the ones that meet workers concrete needs most effectively. Asking for control over capital merely exchanges one alienation for another.

~J.

BillJ
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Jun 12 2009 22:16
Zeronowhere wrote:
Quote:
Use value (value in use) simply refers to the usefulness of a particular thing.

Hm, doesn't use value refer to the material body of a thing? "A commodity, such as iron, corn, or a diamond, is therefore, so far as it is a material thing, a use value, something useful."

I'm afraid you have misread Marx here. Let me try to clarify. First, according to Marx, "the usefulness of a thing makes it a use-value." That is, anything which is useful to somebody is a use-value. The use-value of a thing is "conditioned" by its physical properties. It "has no existence" apart from these properties: "It is therefore the physical body of the commodity itself ... which is the use-value or useful thing." He is pointing this out to differentiate it from value, which is determined by abstract labor-time, something which is not a physical property of a commodity. For example, the use-value of a screwdriver has no existence apart from its material properties which make it suitable for driving screws, while its value has absolutely nothing to do with this. It's value is not a physical property of it, one could examine every aspect of a screwdriver and never find anything in or on it called "value" (the closest you could get is a price tag!).

What you quoted does not support your claim. First because clearly at the end of the sentence he identifies a thing being a use-value with it being a useful thing: "a use-value, something useful." He's equating the two.

Marx is trying to show that a commodity has two aspects, use-value and value. It's material existence as a thing of use determines it as a use-value. The abstract labor "contained" in it determines its value. By your reading, one would say that the use-value bookshelf is "wood." And it would therefore be the same use-value as every other thing made of wood, i.e. chairs, whatever. If this is what the concept of use-value denoted, it would be totally worthless as a concept.

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Khawaga
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Jun 13 2009 02:49
BillJ wrote:
For example, the use-value of a screwdriver has no existence apart from its material properties which make it suitable for driving screws,

Or it could be used to stab someone.... The point being that use-value is nothing inherent in the object at all, it's all in the eye of the beholder.

Marx wrote:
If commodities could speak, they would say this: our use-value may interest men, but it does not belong to us as objects. What does belong to us as objects, however, is our value. … We relate to each other merely as exchange-values (Capital 243)
Zeronowhere
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Jun 13 2009 18:28

I don't think we actually have any disagreement on this issue. Basically, use-values are things that satisfy human wants.

Quote:
Actually, they seek to abolish exchange value and keep use value.

"When, at the beginning of this chapter, we said, in common parlance, that a commodity is both a use-value and an exchange-value, we were, precisely speaking, wrong. A commodity is a use-value or object of utility, and a ‘value’. It manifests itself as this twofold thing which it is, as soon as its value assumes an independent form of appearance distinct from its natural form—the form of exchange-value." [continuing after quoting this] "Thus I do not divide value into use-value and exchange-value as opposites into which the abstraction “value” splits up, but the concrete social form of the product of labour, the “commodity,” is on the one hand, use-value and on the other, “value,” not exchange value, since the mere form of appearance is not its own content."

"Second: only a vir obscurus who has not understood a word of Capital can conclude: Because Marx in a note in the first edition of Capital rejects all the German professorial twaddle about “use-value” in general, and refers readers who want to know something about real use-values to “manuals dealing with merchandise”—for this reason use-value plays no part in his work. Naturally it does not play the part of its opposite, of “value,” which has nothing in common with it, except that “value” occurs in the term “use-value.” He might just as well have said that “exchange-value” is discarded by me because it is only the form of appearance of value, and not “value” itself, since for me the “value” of a commodity is neither its use-value nor its exchange value."

Which is pretty much quoting Marx saying what BillJ said, but eh, what the hell. Might as well make it clear that the word 'value' being in use-value does not make it something produced by the division of 'value' into 'exchange-value' and 'use-value'.

dave c
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Jun 13 2009 07:44
Quote:
I don't think we actually have any disagreement on this issue.

Just a note: this issue has been discussed in more detail here, starting around post #74: http://libcom.org/forums/thought/value-and-price?page=2

BillJ
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Jun 13 2009 19:07
Zeronowhere wrote:
I don't think we actually have any disagreement on this issue. Basically, use-values are things that satisfy human wants.

Yes I think you're right. The disadvantages of internet discussion...

B_Reasonable
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Jun 13 2009 21:44
Quote:
tsi wrote:
Okay, so the fundamental class antagonism of capitalist society is somewhat diffuse. (I do think that the extent to which it is diffused is being vastly overstated by the post-marxist crowd here, but that's another issue)

What does this (rather obvious) fact prove about the relevance or existence of said class antagonism and its' relevance to capitalism & communist revolution???

Nothing. As I understand it, the theoretical basis for 'capital as subject' is not based on the degree of diffusion but it does help to explain it.

Quote:
tsi wrote:
Yes, pensions are funded by the exploitation of other workers. So what?? It's not as if workers' struggles for benefits have ever been centered around the demand "extract surplus value from other workers and give it to us". It's just simply the case that this is the only way that capitalism can meet the demands of workers in struggle, and it's looking like it can't even do this very well at this stage of the game.

Neither have capitalists' demands been centred around: "extract surplus value from workers and give it to us" - in tends to be free enterprise, lower taxes etc. Not that it makes any difference to the exploited workers.

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Quote:
B_Reasonable wrote:
So that means to become a kosher retired ex-worker, and not a capitalist, you mustn't choose a SIPP, right? Self Invested Personal Pension

BigLittleJ (in a roundabout way) wrote:
Well, obviously.

Quote:
B_Reasonable wrote:
This must mean that Class Struggle Anarchists need to be careful as to which worker's struggles they support?

BigLittleJ wrote:
It means that communists should advocate that workers make concrete demands rather than leftist demands.

Quote:
B_Reasonable wrote:
surely the best pensions are the one's that the worker's have the greatest control over

BigLittleJ wrote:
No, the best pensions are the ones that meet workers concrete needs most effectively. Asking for control over capital merely exchanges one alienation for another.

In the UK, SIPPs have been introduced to encourage more workers to take out pensions and counteract decreasing coverage - much of it due to the mis-selling resulting from financial deregulation in the late 80s. Continuing distrust of financial institutions, coupled with the fairly widespread knowledge that simple index trackers etc. historically outperform managed funds, means that increasingly workers see that managing their own capital meets their "concrete needs most effectively" so the best pensions can be seen to come from when one "exchanges one alienation for another".

So when communists "advocate that workers make concrete demands rather than leftist demands" they may well be supporting workers becoming capitalists. In given circumstances, that might be the right thing to do but it shows the limitations of class struggle's Disneyfied workers=goodies capitalist=baddies dichotomy.

Quote:
Anselm Jappe wrote:
"...the modern individual is truly a "man without qualities," able to assume a multitude of interchangeable roles..."

Source

Yorkie Bar
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Jun 14 2009 01:14

Anything an retired worker who has become a capitalist can do, a capitalist can do. So anything concrete workers can get by demanding capital, they can also get by straight off demanding it from the capitalists who already control the capital in question: the efficiency of financial tools is not really the issue, as these can be wielded by anybody.

The difference is this - in demanding capital, workers alleviate their own alienation by taking on the alienation of being capital-owners. Whereas, in demanding what they actually need from capitalists without demanding how capital should be managed to meet their needs, they alleviate their own alienation without becoming capital-owners or capital-managers. This is a step towards overcoming alienation, rather than just a step from one to another, softer and fluffier, form of alienation.

Quote:
it shows the limitations of class struggle's Disneyfied workers=goodies capitalist=baddies dichotomy.

It's not a question of who the goodies and the baddies are. (Nor is that really the dichotomy - the role capitalists play in the class struggle is actually rather minor.)

Think of it as a murder mystery. The person who does the deed isn't the most unpleasant suspect - that would be too obvious. It's the character in the story who has the motive, the means, and the opportunity. Now, I've argued that proletarians are the only class with the means and you haven't contradicted me. I've argued that we also have motive, and you haven't contradicted me there either. All that remains is for us to find or make our opportunity.

~J.

B_Reasonable
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Jun 14 2009 23:33

Workers demanding better pensions, through greater control, are unlikely to see the sense of your idea for a concrete demand of getting the capitalists to try again - in order to save the workers sullying themselves with the addition capitalist alienation.

Just one more thing... The murderer blames the bad situation they find themselves in on the actions of the victim. Actually, the situation is maintained by a set of social conventions (that had been initiated by the victim), but which the murderer had internalised and become an essential part in their perpetuation. The murder doesn't improve the situation as it doesn't address those social conventions.

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JimN
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Jun 15 2009 13:20

Just because a worker has accepted deferred wages paid into a pension scheme doesn't mean that they become a capitalist when they retire and start drawing a pension from said deferred wages.

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cantdocartwheels
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Jun 15 2009 14:40
JimN wrote:
Just because a worker has accepted deferred wages paid into a pension scheme doesn't mean that they become a capitalist when they retire and start drawing a pension from said deferred wages.

Yeah its a pretty weird suggestion to make. I mean by that logic everyone who has a bank account (ie everyone) is a capitalist because they earn interest*, which would obviously be complete nonsense. All in all its a symptom of a decidedly backwards way of looking at capitalism, wherein capitalism is perceived solely as a system of value rather than as a social and economic relationshuip between ruler and ruled.

Anyways given that this thread was answered within a couple of posts its clearly time this thread went up the hill to bedfordshire.

*edit: revols dole example is pretty apt aswell

Yorkie Bar
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Jun 15 2009 15:28
B_Reasonable wrote:
Workers demanding better pensions, through greater control, are unlikely to see the sense of your idea for a concrete demand of getting the capitalists to try again - in order to save the workers sullying themselves with the addition capitalist alienation.

You're changing the subject. Do you see the sense of it, or am I wrong, and if so why?

Quote:
Just one more thing... The murderer blames the bad situation they find themselves in on the actions of the victim. Actually, the situation is maintained by a set of social conventions (that had been initiated by the victim), but which the murderer had internalised and become an essential part in their perpetuation. The murder doesn't improve the situation as it doesn't address those social conventions.

It's an analogy ffs - I'm not advocating workers literally murder capitalists. Nor am I claiming only the workers can 'murder' the capitalist class as a whole. What I'm saying is that only workers can 'murder' capital. And capitalism is the set of social relations, of which workers are an essential part, so this 'murder' would indeed improve our situation.

~J.

Angelus Novus
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Jun 15 2009 19:58
JimN wrote:
Just because a worker has accepted deferred wages paid into a pension scheme doesn't mean that they become a capitalist when they retire and start drawing a pension from said deferred wages.

I will buy you a book of your choice (but under 20 Euro) if you can find a post on this thread asserting that workers drawing a pension are capitalists. (not counting the clearly humorous post about retired football players)

I really, really, really wish people would read exactly what other people write on this forum, and ask for clarification if a formulation seems ambiguous. This is not the first thread where people have drawn inferences from what other people write and then respond to those inferences, rather than responding to what other people write.

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Tojiah
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Jun 15 2009 21:05
Angelus Novus wrote:
I will buy you a book of your choice (but under 20 Euro) if you can find a post on this thread asserting that workers drawing a pension are capitalists.

In post #56, you say:

Angelus Novus wrote:
If you have a pension fund or a savings account, you are exploiting others. What makes you distinct from a capitalist is that you aren't able to live exclusively by means of such exploitation.
...
We're back to my favorite discussion on Libcom: why do class-struggle fanboys always assume workers have an interest as workers in opposing capitalism?

Basically, you are presenting workers as merely unsuccessful capitalists. They have yet to muster the funds to become capitalists. Oh, if they could only save up enough.

Angelus Novus wrote:
I really, really, really wish people would read exactly what other people write on this forum, and ask for clarification if a formulation seems ambiguous. This is not the first thread where people have drawn inferences from what other people write and then respond to those inferences, rather than responding to what other people write.

Or you could try and make yourself clearer, assuming that is your goal. You seem to be well aware of what people's misconceptions are, so you might want to write with that in mind.

B_Reasonable
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Jun 15 2009 23:53
Quote:
BigLittleJ wrote:
Quote:
B_Reasonable wrote:
Workers demanding better pensions, through greater control, are unlikely to see the sense of your idea for a concrete demand of getting the capitalists to try again - in order to save the workers sullying themselves with the addition capitalist alienation.

You're changing the subject. Do you see the sense of it, or am I wrong, and if so why?

I thought I was rounding the point off, rather than changing the subject. I interpreted you as saying that it was possible to avoid having to distinguish between demands for worker self-managed pensions versus capitalist-managed pensions because it would always be possible to demand that the capitalist deliver the same efficiency as the workers could. Theoretically, of course, that is possible but recent experience would not lead most workers to see it as a preferred concrete demand.

I asked the original question, about distinguishing self-managed pensions, because I was interested to know whether a Class Struggle Anarchist would be concerned about its more capitalistic nature and, more generally, whether you'd have a preconceived general rule about it. I'm still not sure whether you have a general rule about it (not that I think you should have one) but you have clearly stated that you have a general rule about making concrete rather than leftist demands.

I agree with one of your earlier posts that, "In practice, we support struggles generally because as an expression of workers self-organisation they have content that goes beyond their form". However, I am not convinced that demands made of capitalists can ever go beyond the system so whether they are concrete or leftist should something that is driven by the desire to maximise the opportunity to challenge capital social relations (including abstract work) rather than a preconceived general rule.

I can conceive of a situation where it might be a marginally more emancipatory experience for people to be involved in a dispute where they were managing their own pension capital rather than simply demanding that capitalists do it for them. And, if such a situation were to occur, I don't think there is an inherent problem with people playing the role of capitalist in addition to their role as worker etc.

Angelus Novus
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Jun 16 2009 06:17

treeofjudas, perhaps some italics might assist your reading comprehension:

tojiah wrote:
Angelus Novus wrote:
What makes you distinct from a capitalist is that you aren't able to live exclusively by means of such exploitation.

Hope that helps.

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Tojiah
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Jun 16 2009 06:39
Angelus Novus wrote:
treeofjudas, perhaps some italics might assist your reading comprehension:
tojiah wrote:
Angelus Novus wrote:
What makes you distinct from a capitalist is that you aren't able to live exclusively by means of such exploitation.

Hope that helps.

Actually, put in the context of that entire quotation:

Angelus Novus wrote:
If you have a pension fund or a savings account, you are exploiting others. What makes you distinct from a capitalist is that you aren't able to live exclusively by means of such exploitation.

you will readily find that my conclusion, namely:

tojiah wrote:
Basically, you are presenting workers as merely unsuccessful capitalists.

follows directly. Thank you for pointing out this wonderful new technology called italics, by the way. Pretty neat. I should use it more often.

Angelus Novus
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Jun 16 2009 07:46

treeofjudas,

no, your reasoning is completely faulty.

If I say: what distinguishes an amateur football player from a professional is that the latter makes a living from playing, it does not follow that an amateur football player is a failed professional.

Hope this helps.