If people want to live in a society where the means of production are owned privately, shouldn't they be able to?

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JAFalconF
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Jan 19 2010 06:19
If people want to live in a society where the means of production are owned privately, shouldn't they be able to?

If people want to live in a society where the means of production are owned privately, shouldn't they be able to?

In other words, is it possible in principle for some humans to organize themselves into capitalist societies, while others can simultaneously decide to organize themselves into socialist nations or stateless societies?

I suspect a lot of people think that there is something inherent in the very nature of capital which makes this impossible. If you think this, how can you imagine an escape from capital that is not based entirely on large-scale coercion (probably including mass murder)? If you accept the necessity of this coercion (basically forcing everyone in the world to accept your principles of political organization ), can you call yourself an anarchist?, and if so, how?

Obviously this is very hypothetical.

My take: capitalism can't exist if it is geographically bounded (because of the constant necessity for new markets), therefore the hypothetical capitalist societies would have to use some sort of violence to force open new markets in the non-capitalist societies (i.e. basically what has happened over capital's history). Therefore the hypothetical is probably impossible. The implication is that either revolutionary mass murder is necessary or that long-term autonomous self-organization in a sedentary society is impossible...

Jason Cortez
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Jan 19 2010 09:21

Well I think you are posing a false dichotomy here, capitalism creates the conditions for the slaughter of millions everyday, not just wars, famine and poverty. But also the drive for profit leaves millions dead from 'accidents' at work.
We seek to transform the social existence of humanity, this will require a mass movement conscious of the need for abolishment of capitalism. A better analogy with what you are proposing is if someone wants to go around murdering people to stop them would require force and would therefore be in contradiction of our anarchist principles. But this is a caricature of anarchism, it has nothing to do with notions like 'you can do whatever you want' no one here wants to live in a world where everyone behaves like two year olds. Capitalism must be abolished to safeguard humanity, its time is long past (if it ever had one).

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waslax
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Jan 19 2010 09:40

Who would want to live in a society where the means of production are privately owned other than the private owners of same? Surely not any workers who would be employed by those owners, when they can participate in a libertarian communist mode of production, unless they are seriously misinformed about their alternatives.

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oisleep
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Jan 19 2010 11:24
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If people want to live in a society where the means of production are owned privately, shouldn't they be able to?

yes - if they are able to continue to do so against the force of those who would prefer that the means of production were socialised (and against the force of the internal contradictions which their own activity creates).

Nature doesn't create the situation where means of production are owned either privately or socially it comes about by human activity and violence. There's nothing 'natural' about either a communist or a capitalist society, if you ideologically want one or another then violence has to play a huge part in both creating and sustaining it. Something that both ideological capitalists and communists hold seems to be that once you remove the fetters that is holding true capitalism/true communism back and you eventually get to some 'naturally intended' state of society then everything will just be fine and tick along without any coercion required to maintain it, which is pure utopian nonsesne from both sides.

I'm sure most people on here would recognise this fact however and say that the level of violence/mass murder in a real communist society would be less than in a capitalist one - sure getting rid of the daily horror subjected on the global population and the planet itself by capital would be amazing, but it's impossible to know what horrors would replace this in terms of creating and sustaining any replacement to that type of society

thing is also no one really 'owns' the means of production 'privately' anymore, the credit system is (however negatively and contradictorily) continually facilitating an ongoing 'socialisation' of the means of production,

It is the abolition of capital as private property within the framework of capitalist production itself......It is private production without the control of private property......In the last instance, it aims at the expropriation of the means of production from all individuals

30bananasaday
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Jan 19 2010 11:58

"The proleteriat doesn't wage war against the ruling class because it considers such a war to be just. The proleteriat makes war with the ruling class because, for the first time in history, it wants to take power...One makes war to win, not because it is just."

- Foucault, from debate with Chomsky: http://www.chomsky.info/debates/1971xxxx.htm

petey
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Jan 19 2010 15:33
oisleep wrote:
Something that both ideological capitalists and communists hold seems to be that once you remove the fetters that is holding true capitalism/true communism back and you eventually get to some 'naturally intended' state of society then everything will just be fine and tick along without any coercion required to maintain it, which is pure utopian nonsesne from both sides.

i second this entirely

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oisleep
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Jan 19 2010 16:40

high fives

no scrap that, big tens instead

petey
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Jan 19 2010 17:14

toes too?
(there was to be more to this post, but have been called away)

Boris Badenov
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Jan 19 2010 17:22

is FULL WHAT IF making a comeback or what?

JAFalconF wrote:
If you think this, how can you imagine an escape from capital that is not based entirely on large-scale coercion (probably including mass murder)? If you accept the necessity of this coercion (basically forcing everyone in the world to accept your principles of political organization ), can you call yourself an anarchist?, and if so, how?

overthrowing capital will probably mean violence, yes. It's not something any sane person is looking forward to, but it's pretty much an inevitability. The coercion won't be in forcing workers into working on collectivized farms or some other stalinist scenario of your choice, but in forcing capitalists to give up their current parasitical function in society and in resisting the forces of reaction. If you don't think that's compatible with calling yourself an "anarchist", it would probably help if you defined "anarchist."

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oisleep
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Jan 19 2010 17:31
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The coercion won't be in forcing workers into working on collectivized farms or some other stalinist scenario of your choice

there is a pretty big assumption however that everyone will just magically work the required hours to bring the world's 9bn population up to and beyond 'western' living standards (whilst at the same time those same workers being promised they'll only have to work a couple of hours a day in the new utopia) which then rentaghosts away the problem of what to do with free loaders which has always seemed hugely naieve to me

you could say well if they don't work they don't get access to the means of their own reproduction, although that seems very similar to another mode of organising society

Boris Badenov
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Jan 19 2010 17:58
oisleep wrote:
there is a pretty big assumption however that everyone will just magically work the required hours to bring the world's 9bn population up to and beyond 'western' living standards

The amount of work to be performed will be decided in the workplace, in workers' councils. With "capital-specific" jobs out of the way, everyone will have a chance to contribute to something socially useful, and I can't see why the vast majority of people would refuse to do work that they themselves have tailored to their own needs.
The disparities created by capital will obviously not be solved overnight, but in a society organized along principles of mutual aid and free association we at least have a chance to level them.

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(whilst at the same time those same workers being promised they'll only have to work a couple of hours a day in the new utopia) which then rentaghosts away the problem of what to do with free loaders which has always seemed hugely naieve to me

There will always be "freeloaders," regardless of the mode of production. I'd like to think that no one will be denied access to food, shelter and medicine for whatever reason, but we are of course social beings, and even in capitalism work is still a social process. If someone wants to make no contribution to the society that sustains them, they should be free to do so, but they will have only very little to gain from it.

petey
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Jan 19 2010 18:31
Vlad336 wrote:
everyone will have a chance to contribute to something socially useful, and I can't see why the vast majority of people would refuse to do work that they themselves have tailored to their own needs.

this is good, but is still speculative about the motives of people in a situation that has never been attempted on any scale large enough to give an accurate case study. the devil will be in the details, and how can we know what they would be? (genuine question actually, there may be a way through rigorous modeling, emphasis on 'rigorous') i want to believe it, and contributing to something socially useful would, you'd think, be a stronger motivator than money b/c alienation would be eliminated esp. in a situation where you didn't have to accumulate because the basics were always available.

Vlad336 wrote:
There will always be "freeloaders," regardless of the mode of production. I'd like to think that no one will be denied access to food, shelter and medicine for whatever reason, but we are of course social beings, and even in capitalism work is still a social process. If someone wants to make no contribution to the society that sustains them, they should be free to do so, but they will have only very little to gain from it.

how to measure how much to gain? labor vouchers? after years pondering this i still don't know how you can get past them. again i get to the psychological aspect. maybe in an economy of security the desire to slack would reduced out of simple shame?

Boris Badenov
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Jan 19 2010 19:27
petey wrote:
this is good, but is still speculative about the motives of people in a situation that has never been attempted on any scale large enough to give an accurate case study. the devil will be in the details, and how can we know what they would be? (genuine question actually, there may be a way through rigorous modeling, emphasis on 'rigorous') i want to believe it, and contributing to something socially useful would, you'd think, be a stronger motivator than money b/c alienation would be eliminated esp. in a situation where you didn't have to accumulate because the basics were always available.

Obviously the devil is in the details, but it's precisely because I agree with oisleep's criticism of starry-eyed utopianism that I'm not going to try to flesh out the exact rules by which a libertarian society might function. Socially useful doesn't mean that most people are overflowing with a great love of humanity or some such horseshit. In my case for example, socially useful would be pretty much what I'm doing now without being massively in debt. And I imagine that is the case for a lot of people, except those who are forced by circumstance to do maintenance work for capital. So socially useful would almost always be individually useful; even socially useful jobs that at first look like torture, say garbage collecting, are in fact individually useful.

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how to measure how much to gain?

what I meant is that freeloaders would only have the basic necessities of life to "gain" from not contributing anything, which would include food, shelter, medicine etc. I can see how someone could raise the objection that if everyone gets all of this for doing nothing, what point would there be in not being a freeloader? But there is of course more to life than not starving and having a place to sleep. The people who are passionate about what they do now would not cease to be so if capitalism were done away with. Some would choose to drop out I guess, but only to do something else that they couldn't under capitalism by force of circumstance or whatever. It's true that today we are forced to work under pain of destitution and so on, but a lot of people simply hate their jobs not the work they do, and the ones that hate their work do so either because it is, like I said, mind-numbing routine maintenance work for capital, or because they haven't been offered the chance to do what they really want to do.
Physical need and fear or shame is not all there is to work, and at the risk of gratuitously quoting Marx, I agree with his notion of "man producing even when he is free from physical need and indeed only truly producing in freedom therefrom."

RedHughs
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Jan 19 2010 20:30

Hmm,

Quote:
If people want to live in a society where the means of production are owned privately, shouldn't they be able to?

If you one were to conduct a poll now, at least in these Benighted States of Amnesia, the majority would "want" such a society. And moreover, holly crap!, they have it! So they certain "able to" live in such a society. You're done.

[mumbles="like Sid Vicious in DOA"]So what was your question. [/mumbles]

WTF does "people want" ever mean?

Years ago, for a project in my 4th grade class, my teachers actually gave us a vote between a system that graded on an A-F "curve" and pass-fail grading. The class voted for the curve even though they were all upset later about the prospect of being graded lower.

The fact that anarchists in general ofter attempt to cook-up some serious arguments addressing the kind of argument in the parent post seems like a testament to the weakness of whatever defines itself as anarchism (Edit: well, some here folks do address these issues, still..). There's this horrible muddle between anarchism as the realization/perfection of bourgeois freedom, with "real anarchism" providing everyone equal "rights" "as long as they respect their neighbor" and anarchism as some form of collective rebellion of the working class, a rebellion which would hurt some neighbors, in the very nature of rebellion. Indeed, it's enough to want to label oneself an "authoritarian communist" because however much revolution will involve collective, non-hierarchical organization, it will certainly impose a social system on a minority. There is no way around this - I think I recall "the dictatorship of the proletariat" as the term for this.

Anyway, a cleverer version of the original post would talk about a "collective" in which everyone is owner, just some own a "bit" more of an owner than others. And from there, with a bit of legal gloss you could re-brand America as "Anarmerica" and be done.

Hopefully, everyone know about democratic preference paradoxes and related results?

I mean, if you have a society without social cohesion, a community without a cohesive means of implementing it's collective decisions (including something like workers/community councils etc), then you're screwed. If there isn't an "empowered" community, who the fucks cares "what people want". When opinions are conducted through official polling means, these opinions are automatically stupid and worthless, not even necessarily through the malfeasance of the poll conductors but through the frame of this passive decision making itself (though such an scheme is generally a recipe for the scum to rise to the top...).

-----------

RedHughs
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Jan 19 2010 20:32

A parable:

A communist society has existed in fat, dumb and lazy way for years and years, perhaps degenerating to the point that's like a prosperous hunter-gathering tribe with a high infant mortality and high post-infancy life expectancy. Most people are generally happy to spend their days gathering and hunting and their nights in revelry, dancing and repeating the old myths of Ludd, Marx, Debord, and Negri.,

One day, an particular ambitious collective member re-discovers the recipe for sugar and spends his days and nights working on sugar production. As first, he gives his product away but then begins to demand labor out of the lazy souls who are most dependent on the white-lightning. Soon, a minority of folks are slothfully adding their extra-labor to his industry (despite him getting ten other helpers, he probably does more himself than all his helpers). The elders notice this and notice the minor damage the sugar run-off does to a nearby stream. Consulting their myth, they come one night and thoroughly smash the sugar production gourds (doing even more damage to the stream with massive run-off). The next day, the boss and his allies confront the rest of the tribe, there's a shouting match and it ends with the boss walking away from the group. Consulting their myths again. The elders put a couple spears in his back as he leaves.

The end.

Boris Badenov
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Jan 19 2010 20:35

good story Red, especially the ending, but why would the recipe for sugar become lost and how is everyone fat if they're no sweets to munch on?

petey
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Jan 20 2010 04:10
Vlad336 wrote:
it's precisely because I agree with oisleep's criticism of starry-eyed utopianism that I'm not going to try to flesh out the exact rules by which a libertarian society might function.

and it's precisely because i agree with oisleep's criticism that i think we must

Vlad336 wrote:
Socially useful doesn't mean that most people are overflowing with a great love of humanity or some such horseshit.

no-one said it did, and i agree with the examples you've given.

Vlad336 wrote:
But there is of course more to life than not starving and having a place to sleep

exactly. so, again, how would the take of the freeloader be measured?

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Jan 20 2010 12:01
vlad wrote:
The amount of work to be performed will be decided in the workplace, in workers' councils. With "capital-specific" jobs out of the way, everyone will have a chance to contribute to something socially useful, and I can't see why the vast majority of people would refuse to do work that they themselves have tailored to their own needs.The disparities created by capital will obviously not be solved overnight, but in a society organized along principles of mutual aid and free association we at least have a chance to level them.

But can't you see the massive tension that's in place here between the two things that are always promised

1.On one hand any communist society (which would have to be worldwide for it to have any possible chance of survivial) would have to raise the living standards of the 9bn people that will be on the planet to at least that of 'western' living standards. Now, regardless about whether there is the level of natural resources (energy, food etc..) to do this, the level of work that would be required in transforming these resources to supply that massive increase in living standards for roughly 7-8bn people is absolutely monumental.

2. On the other hand, and as your post above, demonstrates - there seems to be this idea that in a communisty society, we'll all just decide ourselves how much work we want to do and that work itself will be tailored to our own needs, and it will be this delightful fanciful artisany and romantic freeplay between our mental and physical faculties involving a few hours work a day and all fairly blissful

Now I may be simple, but if you want to deliver (1) then the amount of work involved to do so will be monumental, and yes i know there's mass amounts of wastage and unnecessary work in capitalist society that would be dispensed with, blah blah blah, but I do think there's far too much faith put in this counteracting the massive and potentially impossible task of achieving (1). Sure, if you don't deliver (1) then there's scope for all this relaxing and lounging around doing a couple of hours work a day when we feel like it, but not achieving (1) is pretty much the point of a communist society in the first place

Quote:
There will always be "freeloaders," regardless of the mode of production. I'd like to think that no one will be denied access to food, shelter and medicine for whatever reason, but we are of course social beings, and even in capitalism work is still a social process. If someone wants to make no contribution to the society that sustains them, they should be free to do so, but they will have only very little to gain from it.

right so in a worldwide communist society, say 25% of people decide that because there's no coercion for them to contribue to the massive task of achieving (1) and they won't be denied access to the means of their own reproduction as a result, they just decide to laze around all day, living off the labour of others (exactly like what capitalists do). So that's 2.25bn people refusing to work because there's no downside to them not doing so - are the other 6.75bn people therefore expected to put in even more work to make up for the freeloaders? (taking us even further away from the fanciful vision of labour envisioned in (2) above). Will this freeloading class effectively become the capitalist class of communism, living of the labour of others? Or will some of the other 6.75bn get together and say this isn't on, why should we do all the work day in and day out, and these cunts are sitting around all day doing nothing. If the view is that the rest of the population would just accept that they have to let other, able bodied/minded people, leech of their labour then aren't we just back to a similar situation as capitalism again, yet on the other hand if they say this isn't on and demand that the freeloaders/freeriders work to get access to the means of their own reproduction, then this also sounds very similar to the dymanic at place under capitalism, i.e. if you don't work you don't eat/live.

I'm not trying to be contrary for the sake of it here, but it does seem to be gaping hole in the utopian communist logic

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Jan 20 2010 12:50
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right so in a worldwide communist society, say 25% of people decide that because there's no coercion for them to contribue to the massive task of achieving (1) and they won't be denied access to the means of their own reproduction as a result, they just decide to laze around all day, living off the labour of others (exactly like what capitalists do).

From what i gathered from vlads other posts, he was basiclaly saying that people who for no good reason (ie they aren't parents with very young children, oap's, carers, disabled etc etc) refuse to work should only get access to basic foodstuffs, medicine, shelter, and other neccesary services. Obviously thats a pretty crude view of things not an exact blueprint, i'd guess thered be different levels of support for individuals with children who take such a view or those suffering with depression.
Certainly overall though thats the way i'd see it and the way most people on here would. In effect people who chose not to work for no good reason would be on the equivalent of benefits. I'm not really sure why this is a gaping hole in communist logic exactly. We're not hippies, so we think everyone should try and contribute to society and if they don;t they shouldn;t get an equal stake in it, likewise we're not mental authoritarians, so we wouldn;t starve people to death for being anti-social and lazy because thats not the sort of society we'd want to live in.
Sure there'd probably be an anti-social minority who chose not to work and lived off benefits, but i think it'd be a pretty small number of people. I mean work itself would be radicaly transformed, you'd have control of your job and workplace via a co-operative, you'd have shorter hours and longer holidays and you'd have equal access to all goods and social or leisure services in society. I'm not really sure why you think 25% of people physically and mentally able to work would choose not to do so.

radicalgraffiti
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Jan 20 2010 13:11

if there are enough people who don't bother to work that it becomes a big problem then it wouldn't be difficult to stop providing for them altogether, but since we think that the proportion of people who didn't work would be much lower than that then it makes more sense to use less server sanctions and simply provide only the basics to people who won't work. Of cause if people are even more motivated to work and the proportion of none workers sufficiently low then it could be that it isn't worth the effort of keeping track of who works and who doesn't.
But there's really no way to find out what proportion of people will work with no coercion, so it doesn't make sense to say "this is how things will be...". And there's no way we can make detailed predictions because these things will be decided by the workers them selves based on the conditions they are faced with, not by following a set of instructions laid down by us.

I don't really see how this is such a big problem? or how its utopian.

petey
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Jan 20 2010 13:47
cantdocartwheels wrote:
Sure there'd probably be an anti-social minority who chose not to work and lived off benefits, but i think it'd be a pretty small number of people. I mean work itself would be radicaly transformed, you'd have control of your job and workplace via a co-operative, you'd have shorter hours and longer holidays ...

this is part of what i was aiming at above (and didn't spell out sufficiently). this situation of immediate involvement - the opposite of psychological alienation - would produce a qualitatively different experience of life (which i think we're all agreed on) which would produce a different set of priorities, including a different attitude towards work which would reduce the number of freeloaders but not of course eliminate them (humans aren't robots) and how to deal? there could be the 'social pressure' method, but i don't really like the sound of that. so - labor vouchers?

cantdocartwheels wrote:
... and you'd have equal access to all goods and social or leisure services in society.

er ...

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Entdinglichung
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Jan 20 2010 14:03
JAFalconF wrote:
If people want to live in a society where the means of production are owned privately, shouldn't they be able to?

No

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Jan 20 2010 14:28
cantdocartwheels wrote:
From what i gathered from vlads other posts, he was basiclaly saying that people who for no good reason (ie they aren't parents with very young children, oap's, carers, disabled etc etc) refuse to work should only get access to basic foodstuffs, medicine, shelter, and other neccesary services.

Right just to clarify then:-

If i decide not to work in a communist society i'd get access to basic foostuffs, medicine, shelter and other necessary services and if i wanted more than this i'd be 'coerced' by the system to work for it

if i decide not to work in the UK at present, i'd get access to basic foodstuffs, medicine, shelter and other necessary services and if i want anything more than that i'm coerced by market logic to work for it.

Don't get me wrong I'm not saying it's a bad thing that there is an element of coercion involved in incentivising people to work in a post capitalist society, but I do think there seems to be a huge hesitation from anarchists & communists in just coming out and admitting that there will be some kind of coercive pressures involved which would encourage people to work - instead we tend to get this wishy washy utopian story about how we can all just turn up when we want, work on and in the manner we want, work a few hours then go home. I'd prefer folk faced the fact that if society is to reproduce itself in a progressive manner it needs to work to achieve this, ergo the same is true at the individual level (for those who are able)

Quote:
I'm not really sure why this is a gaping hole in communist logic exactly.

the gap in the logic was the part of my post that you didn't respond to, i.e. the tension between the supposed benefits to humanity (raised living standards for 7-8 billion people) and the supposed transformation of the labour process itself where we can all choose when & how to work, do it for a few hours a day, decide what and when we want to make stuff etc...

Quote:
I mean work itself would be radicaly transformed, you'd have control of your job and workplace via a co-operative, you'd have shorter hours and longer holidays and you'd have equal access to all goods and social or leisure services in society. I'm not really sure why you think 25% of people physically and mentally able to work would choose not to do so.

again this is the other part of the tension and logic gap i was referring to, everyone having control of their job, shorter hours, longer holidays etc.. but at the same time this is all supposedly going to deliver an increased standard of living for 7-8bn people up to and beyond current western living standards whilst at the same time dealing with the multitiude of environmental & resource problems facing humanity (not to mention whatever horrors the revolutionary transition period, which would likely last generations, would visit on humanity)

Jason Cortez
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Jan 20 2010 14:53

am not sure what you mean by "raising the living standards to that of the west" you seem to be implying some sort of communist version of of existing society for the rest of the world but communism is the transformation of social relations, so whilst ending poverty and creating free access to health care etc is necessary aping the life style of 'western consumption' isn't.

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Jan 20 2010 15:17
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am not sure what you mean by "raising the living standards to that of the west" you seem to be implying some sort of communist version of of existing society for the rest of the world but communism is the transformation of social relations, so whilst ending poverty and creating free access to health care etc is necessary aping the life style of 'western consumption' isn't.

well first of when inititally used it i put western in inverted commas to lazily show I wasn't meaning it as a straight aping of western consumption, but more of a shorthand for a certain level of civilisation in regards to the average living standards (social, economic, cultural etc..) of an 'ordinary' person under capitailsm today

but i presume you agree that a communist world would not, or should not, be tolerable of huge differences in living standards like we have at the moment, both within and between different parts of the world

and i presume you'd agree that for workers in the western world, the likilihood of a massive degradation of their tangible 'living standards' under communism would be something that would not be tolerable either (you can't eat a social relation), as it would likely lead to a huge reaction against said revolution/transformed society and kill it off before it even had a chance to take root

so therefore any revolution/transformed society would have to show to people in the west that their lives, on balance, would be vastly improved under communism for it to receive their support. Now this isn't just a crude aping of western consumpion, but a realisation that no matter the horrors of capitalim in the west, it has through it's propelling of productivity growth vastly improved the absolute living standards of those in the western world, and some kind of balance betwen retaining a lot of the fruits that capitalism has delivered whilst doing away with the wastage would need to be reached, but certainly not one that threw us back hundreds of years in terms of generally accepted living standards of ordinary people in the here and now

So for any revolution and the resultant society it produced to maintain the continued uncoerced support of 'western' workers, that society would need to deliver them a standard of living at least comparable if not better than what they had previously enjoyed - if this is achieved then it would also have to be delivered globally to 9bn people if global inequalties were to be wiped out.

Boris Badenov
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Jan 20 2010 17:23
oisleep wrote:
1.On one hand any communist society (which would have to be worldwide for it to have any possible chance of survivial) would have to raise the living standards of the 9bn people that will be on the planet to at least that of 'western' living standards. Now, regardless about whether there is the level of natural resources (energy, food etc..) to do this, the level of work that would be required in transforming these resources to supply that massive increase in living standards for roughly 7-8bn people is absolutely monumental.

the problem currently is not so much that people don't want to work, it's that they can't. Yes it will be a monumental task to repair the damage done by hundreds of years of capitalist wars and exploitation, but the only alternative is to do nothing.
The resources are there, and I think that matters as it dispels any malthusian fantasy that with the current number of people today there must be poverty and famine. Yet with the current levels and conditions of work we could feed the world's population two or three times over by midcentury* It does not follow that anyone should ever have to starve for whatever reason, even laziness, or that anyone will have to be worked to death so that a few idle drones can sit around doing nothing.

Quote:
On the other hand, and as your post above, demonstrates - there seems to be this idea that in a communisty society, we'll all just decide ourselves how much work we want to do and that work itself will be tailored to our own needs, and it will be this delightful fanciful artisany and romantic freeplay between our mental and physical faculties involving a few hours work a day and all fairly blissful

This is a caricature. Nowhere did I suggest communism would be a medieval arts and crafts utopia. But yes we will decide how much to work just like today capitalists and the state decide for us. Or do you think that's going too far? Whether it will be fairly blissful it remains to be seen, just like the exact number of hours, but if work is not tailored to human needs to what should it be tailored then?

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Now I may be simple, but if you want to deliver (1) then the amount of work involved to do so will be monumental, and yes i know there's mass amounts of wastage and unnecessary work in capitalist society that would be dispensed with, blah blah blah, but I do think there's far too much faith put in this counteracting the massive and potentially impossible task of achieving (1). Sure, if you don't deliver (1) then there's scope for all this relaxing and lounging around doing a couple of hours work a day when we feel like it, but not achieving (1) is pretty much the point of a communist society in the first place

Even under capitalism there is scope for relaxing and lounging around, and I don't recall saying anything about "a couple of hours if we feel like it." As for updating the infrastructure of "third world" countries to "first world" levels, it will be a hard task indeed, but not so monumental once the murderous and corrupt governments that keep these places poor and on the brink of starvation are destroyed. Increasing the living standard of the entire world population could in fact be achieved, in part of course, instantly by removing the possibility of starvation. A monumental task, perhaps, but not an impossible one. The amount of work will by definition be less or at the very worst the same as it is now, although conditions would be radically transformed (which is no small detail imo).

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right so in a worldwide communist society, say 25% of people decide that because there's no coercion for them to contribue to the massive task of achieving (1) and they won't be denied access to the means of their own reproduction as a result, they just decide to laze around all day, living off the labour of others (exactly like what capitalists do).

To think that a quarter of the world population are at heart parasites who would want to do nothing but laze around all day just because they can is the worst kind of capitalist fear-mongering. I believe the entire line of reasoning goes something like "if there is no one to tell the people what to do and put them to work, in other words if hierarchy as we know it is destroyed, most will cease to work altogether and there will be anarchy," which probably predates capitalism and is as old as the state itself (and no less false for that reason). As I've said above if human nature can be at all defined it is the desire to create to alter our environment to interact with others and test our ideas and initiatives against theirs. Work that is free from the fear of destitution and death is work that nearly anyone would embrace. Today most people who are unemployed and not looking for work feel lost and defeated; they are certainly not anti-social megalomaniacs who want to enjoy the fruits of others' work. There are in fact very few people who fit such a description, and even they are not incurable.
In any case, as I've already mentioned even with current work levels we could feed the world population many times over, so yes even if the ridiculous scenario which you propose in which a quarter of the world population decide to "drop out" comes to be, no one would have to work themselves to death to maintain these supposed selfish individualists.

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So that's 2.25bn people refusing to work because there's no downside to them not doing so - are the other 6.75bn people therefore expected to put in even more work to make up for the freeloaders? (taking us even further away from the fanciful vision of labour envisioned in (2) above). Will this freeloading class effectively become the capitalist class of communism, living of the labour of others?

Capitalists are not people who live of the mercy of the working-class. They control all of its labour and enjoy its fruits exclusively. The "freeloading class" will first of all not be a class for reasons I've explained, but even if it would be, they would have little say in how society is being run, simply because they have chosen to exclude themselves from the production process altogether. If you used to be an engineer but you now prefer to live like a monk/bum, you will obviously not get to vote in how the workplace of practicing engineers is run. So no, no chance of the freeloaders becoming the new capitalists (which without a market, a system of waged labour, and money, wouldn't even be possible in any meaningful way unless by capitalists you simply mean "leeches," which again is a bit simplistic)

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Or will some of the other 6.75bn get together and say this isn't on, why should we do all the work day in and day out, and these cunts are sitting around all day doing nothing. If the view is that the rest of the population would just accept that they have to let other, able bodied/minded people, leech of their labour then aren't we just back to a similar situation as capitalism again, yet on the other hand if they say this isn't on and demand that the freeloaders/freeriders work to get access to the means of their own reproduction, then this also sounds very similar to the dymanic at place under capitalism, i.e. if you don't work you don't eat/live.

First of all, labour as a social process means it is no one's labour in particular. Right now each of us, individually works for a wage and for a boss so the mentality of "this is my labour that guarantees my piece of the pie" is, although clearly deluded, a natural consequence of the capitalist work ethic. Thinking of labour as an alienated something that someone else might leech off of if you're not careful is something that can only exist in capitalism.
Second of all, how exactly would you calculate the amount of work spent on producing food, housing and medicine, that is in excess because of the freeloaders? I guess you could look at how many of the "leeches" used to be food growers, builders and doctors (which as I've said betrays a capitalist conviction that labour is individual and individually responsible), but I bet not many of them, even in the ridiculous scenario where they are more than 2 bil., are any of those highly valuable and respected professionals who have now decided to live like hippies on the edges of society for absolutely no reason at all. I doubt therefore that if the basic necessities that are "wasted" on the freeloaders ceased to be wasted, the amount of labour for everyone else would drop significantly (or even noticeably).

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I'm not trying to be contrary for the sake of it here, but it does seem to be gaping hole in the utopian communist logic

I think you are being contrary for the sake of it, given that your objections have so far evoked only "worst-case scenarios," but that is perfectly fine. I see nothing wrong with playing devil's advocate.
As I've said, I see nothing utopian about a world where work is tailored to people's needs and not to either profit or the machinations of some mad bureaucrat; nothing utopian about abolishing starvation forever, and nothing utopian about abolishing the capitalist work ethic that prevents us from actually enjoying what we create in this world.

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* Niek Koning and Martin K van Ittersum, "Will the world have enough to eat," 2009.

petey
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Joined: 13-10-05
Jan 20 2010 17:25
Vlad336 wrote:
if human nature can be at all defined it is the desire to create to alter our environment to interact with others and test our ideas and initiatives against theirs.

hand
(we should probably start another thread about this)

Vlad336 wrote:
Work that is free from the fear of destitution and death is work that nearly anyone would embrace.

i agree completely; just to turn it around a little, the motivation would be the immediate personal investment in the work, and the understanding of its value to self and others. but work within such a social environment (one free from fear of destitution, and one motivated immediately, not by answering to a profiteer) would involve an enormous psychological rupture from what we have now and there must be some prospective examination of the effects [/hobbyhorse]

Boris Badenov
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Jan 20 2010 17:34
petey wrote:
Vlad336 wrote:
if human nature can be at all defined it is the desire to create to alter our environment to interact with others and test our ideas and initiatives against theirs.

hand
(we should probably start another thread about this)

I knew someone would object to that wording. Just remove the phrase "human nature" altogether if it makes your materialist hairs stand on end; I wasn't referring to some Platonic ideal anyhow, as I'm sure you are aware.

martinh
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Jan 20 2010 19:22

The society I want to see will have production organised by the workers involved. I imagine that people would put themselves forward for particular work groups based on aptitidue, skill etc, and would then agree with their workmates how work was going to be organised. TBH, I think far more people than now would work, simply because we would value things that matter and not rely on the market. For example, childcare and caring would be valued - people doing them would be regarded as contributing useful "work" whereas now they are not counted and demonised by the press. Lots of jobs would disappear or just be done as hobbies (professional sportsman for example). This would be possible because the leisure time to train etc would be sufficient as a lot of work will have been abolished (state bureaucracy, advertising, marketing, competing shops. etc).

And people currently " on the sick or disability" would be able to contribute, according to their abilities, thus making them feel like more valuable members of society.

As oisleep hints at, some things would remain luxuries and access to them would have to be rationed in some way. TBH it's up to a future society to work that out.

Regards,

Martin

petey
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Jan 20 2010 19:44
Vlad336 wrote:
petey wrote:
Vlad336 wrote:
if human nature can be at all defined it is the desire to create to alter our environment to interact with others and test our ideas and initiatives against theirs.

hand
(we should probably start another thread about this)

I knew someone would object to that wording.

damn i fell for it

Vlad336 wrote:
Just remove the phrase "human nature" altogether if it makes your materialist hairs stand on end.

those hairs are few. my skeptic hairs though are bristling

syndicalistcat's picture
syndicalistcat
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Jan 20 2010 20:38
Quote:
"The proleteriat doesn't wage war against the ruling class because it considers such a war to be just. The proleteriat makes war with the ruling class because, for the first time in history, it wants to take power...One makes war to win, not because it is just."

the problem with this line of argument is that humans want to feel that what they do is justified and not immoral. so a form of working class politics that justifies stripping the capitalists of their assets is helpful to bolstering the will to do so. domination and exploitation are forms of injustice, so, yes, in seeking to eliminate them is a "just war".