ckaihatsu wrote:You're basically describing *capitalism* as it exists, and I'm emphasizing the system's inherent dynamic towards *income inequality*, and/or *deflation*.
No, you are either conflating economics and capitalism or assuming a false dichotomy between capitalism and socialism. I said socialists know they are incompetent to solve the problem of economics. Capitalists are too, but they don't know it.
Capitalism does aggravate income inequality, but the effect you describe:
Wealth becomes locally concentrated and stagnant while *ownership* of wealth is rewarded with interest and rent payments, instead of going to socially needed production and/or wages for the workers actually doing the requisite work.
is an over-generalization. The success of capitalism is precisely that it DOES direct purchasing power to productive investment (though not wages) better than competing systems such as socialism and feudalism.
I'll *readily* acknowledge the real distinction between *productive* / equity capital, and non-productive *rentier* capital, as I covered at-length at this thread at RedMarx:
https://www.tapatalk.com/groups/redmarx ... t1241.html
OK, so why don't we make the distinction explicit by using "producer goods" to mean productive capital, "privilege" to mean what you call rentier capital, and "purchasing power" to mean the undifferentiated fungible assets that could be devoted to either one?
That said, though, a key (revolutionary and otherwise) leftist argument is about what governmental spending priorities (policies) actually *go to* -- the bourgeois government's quasi-collectivization of funds (tax receipts) *do* primarily go to non-humane empire-building activities like military warfare and corporate welfare, to generally benefit the demographic of private property owners, against the interests and well-being of the working class.
That's a valid enough historical observation, but it doesn't address the theoretical economic issue I'm talking about. Governments can choose not to engage in military adventures and corporate welfare. They CAN'T choose not to benefit landowners exclusively when they spend tax revenue on desirable services and infrastructure. They CAN'T choose not to benefit IP monopolists when they confer IP monopoly privileges. They CAN'T choose not to benefit banksters when they enable banks to treat loan proceeds as newly issued money.
These government funding priorities are *elitist* because they don't (necessarily) build up infrastructure in common, like the Internet and expressways,
That infrastructure is common only in name, as it exclusively benefits landowners who own the locations from which it can be accessed.
nor do these status quo politics strive to overcome the material inequalities that result from capitalist economics' inherent functioning.
There is a difference between the choices that particular governments make and the inherent effects of institutions.
Capitalism's inbuilt system of *exchange values* become the prevailing economic concern, over that of parallel *use* values, as for satisfying unmet human need.
No, exchange value is based on use value (utility) at the margin.
Only in the overgeneralized abstract -- scarcity can be alleviated only by those who can *afford* to purchase goods and services that they need, while those who *don't* have the required money aren't even formally counted as 'demand' within the context of capitalist economics.
But the existence of more products means less money is required to afford them. There is a problem with increases in production being taken as land rent, but that problem does not alter the fact that relieving scarcity by production is the basic point of economic activity, and investment in producer goods is a contribution to it.
The reality-based principle that I'll invoke here is that regarding *revenue* -- if both capital and labor are objectively required for the production of goods and services in the economy then why isn't there an even-handed *co-management* of asset owners and workers over the resulting *revenue* -- ?
Because as I already explained, the balance of bargaining power is broken by privilege: legal entitlements to benefit from the abrogation of others' rights without making just compensation.
Consider a simple example: Landowners own all the land in a certain area, and rent it out to tenant farmers. A tenant farmer with no capital but seed corn can grow ten bushels of corn in a year on an acre of land, of which he has to pay five in rent, eating the other five. A tenant farmer who also has a horse can grow 20 bushels a year, paying five in rent, eating four (he doesn't have to work as hard), feeding eight to his horse, and having three left as a surplus.
Now, a particular tenant farmer who has acquired two horses arranges to rent two acres, and hires another tenant to work the other acre in return for wages of six bushels of corn, paying five in rent, feeding eight to the horse, and keeping one bushel as profit. The hired employee now has a surplus of two bushels (he only eats four now, remember), but socialists claim he is somehow being exploited by his employer because the horse enables him to double his production, but he only gets to keep two more bushels out of the additional ten. They ignore the fact that his employer actually makes him better off, and it is the five bushels in rent taken by the landowner in return for nothing that places the hired farmer at a disadvantage, not his employer, who only provides him with an opportunity he would not otherwise have.
You may want to specify exactly what 'liberty' workers are deprived of, since your statement is vague and ambiguous.
The liberty to do what they would be at liberty to do if that liberty had not been removed by privilege: use land and other natural resources to support themselves; deal with their fellows by mutual consent using money without having to pay interest to banksters for exercising their privilege of creating it; use the knowledge and ideas that have entered the public domain without paying monopolists for permission to do so; etc.
The *expropriation* of labor power / value *is* real, though, because the price received by ownership for the products of labor-power is always greater than what is paid to those workers *for* that labor-power.
First of all, that claim is just objectively false. If price were always greater than labor cost, no firm would ever take a loss, let alone go bankrupt. Second, you incorrectly assume there is no production input to be paid for but workers' labor. Third, you incorrectly assume that labor earns the full exchange price of what is produced, and wages less than that amount constitute "exploitation." See above for the refutation of those claims.
 Labor & Capital, Wages & Dividends
I'm not going to read long, ill-considered and uninformed tracts, sorry. If you think you have something relevant to say, quote the relevant passage.
Roughly speaking -- the capitalist 'superstructure' obviously favors private property owners, and moreso on the *rentier* capital side of things, which is then comparable to the conditions of past feudalism and slavery, since direct expropriation of labor's fruits was enabled simply by pre-existing asset ownership.
See above. Owning an asset that consists of others' rights to liberty enables exploitation. Owning an asset that only offers additional opportunity does not.
The more *modern* definition, in today's world of commodity-fetishism, has to do with labor's own collective reproduction of its labor-power, going-forward, compared with how many more hours they / we work for the business owners, with the business owners pocketing the difference.
You have obviously never worked in business, let alone owned one.
In other words, the baseline is that labor has to exist more-or-less steadily going into the future, and the number of hours of work for the sustenance and reproduction of that global labor force is easily calculable -- basically wages -- which *should* imply a limited number of work hours, limited to that material sustenance and reproduction going-forward. But capitalism doesn't stop there -- it *expropriates* the *extra* labor hours worked that are *not* needed by the laborer him- or herself.
Who is doing the expropriating in the above example, the employer who increases the worker's wages by his contribution, or the landowner who takes them in return for nothing?
So effectively it's just as bad a form of class exploitation as feudalism or slavery was, as in the expropriation of a serf's farming goods based on a set proportion of crops or on labor-days in the week versus Sunday's productivity for the serf himself (with unpaid *domestic* labor by the womenfolk).
Yes, the requirement that workers pay landowners full market value just for PERMISSION to work effectively enslaves them. It is only massive government intervention in the form of minimum wages, welfare, labor standards laws, union monopolies, public education and health care, etc. in advanced capitalist countries that prevents the enslavement of workers by landowners.
It's not 'either-or', it's *both* --
No, it is not, as explained above. The employer INCREASES the workers' wages; the landowner reduces them. I'm not sure there is any clearer or simpler way to explain that to you.
you're trying to create a false dichotomy between the _political_ and _economic_ aspects of oppression and exploitation, respectively.
It's not a false dichotomy. Profiting by relieving scarcity is completely different from profiting by imposing it. The latter is oppression and exploitation, the former is not.
No, I'm *not* making any erroneous assertions that only workers make material inputs into the production process, but it's important to note that *all* material and value derive from labor-power -- all commodities / assets, throughout all of class history, could not have been created unless *someone* toiled to produce them.
No, it's completely irrelevant. The fact that A paid B to produce something does not give anyone else any claim to it whatsoever. The fact that B was a worker does not give any other worker any claim to it whatsoever just because he is also a worker.
Once created by laborers and expropriated by property-owners,
Paying someone the market rate to produce something is not expropriation, stop lying.
such assets and goods and services can accurately be called 'dead labor'.
No, they cannot. Labor is human effort devoted to production. It cannot be alive or dead.
It's not a regular *Marxian* approach, but it *does* correspond to reality
No, it does not. Privilege is a dominant factor in reality. Depending on the country, the rents of privilege may absorb half or more of GDP.
and makes the point, as I stated above, that though both labor and ownership have inputs into the productive process, only ownership alone *controls* the resulting revenue, which is a clear imbalance that then ripples (socio-political) inequality through the whole process, and society.
No, the business owners control the revenue because they are the cause of production. The product is rightly owned by its producer: the one whose action causes the product to exist rather than not exist. That is the owner, not the worker. The worker is merely another production factor employed by the owner.
Well, 'collective ownership' wouldn't *quite* be the correct term to describe such a society, but it *would* be *casually* descriptive, in the sense that no one would be an 'owner' / controller of anything large-scale potentially any more than the next person.
Not necessarily. Sometimes one person can build up a production system to a large scale.
Hmmmm, we're not on the same page here -- the dependent variable isn't 'identity', or even 'personality', but rather something more like 'personal social experience', and possibly 'personhood'.
But they aren't socially determined either. All experience passes through the lens of the individual's genetic constitution. This is utterly obvious to anyone who has ever been a parent to more than one child. However much you may try to treat them the same, they are different from birth.
And none of these conceptions are so dependent on *genetics*, as you claim, because genetics doesn't adapt quickly enough to the vicissitudes of class-based social life.
Genetics is what gives us our greater or lesser abilities
to adapt quickly: some are fast adapters, others struggle. It's genetic, and largely linked to the "Big Five" traits known as neuroticism, agreeableness and openness, all of which are known to have strong genetic components.
So it really is 'nurture', rather than 'nature', which is most deterministic of our 'selves' as we grow up and develop, and consciously integrate more-fully into larger social life as adults.
Get back to me when you have raised some kids. Marx's pre-modern view of the human psyche as determined by modes of production has been proved flat wrong by psychological research.
Yeeeeaaaaahhhh -- again, this is a monumental misnomer.
In what way?
You seem to be using an individually-constrained, *psychological*-type definition of 'personal identity', or 'personality', when the *point* of the social-reality-determines-our-being argument is that we have more *in common* with each other, due to society-regulated *socialization*, rather than us each being unique butterflies or whatever due to miniscule differences in genetic makeup from one to the next.
But the individuality of identity and how genetics colors individual experience of the social milieu is just established empirical fact. Marxist zombies still engage in a rear-guard action to try to rescue Marx's theory of human nature from brutal physical facts, but their efforts are doomed to failure.
No, you're missing the point -- the advent of *collectivized full automation* of productive machinery / means would mean that individual material desires would *more easily* be satisfiable, compared to conditions today, so it would be a paradoxical combination of more-enabled *individualization*, as through personal selection ('consumption'), with more-enabled *collectivization*, by combined consent, particularly over socially-necessary *productive* ('production') processes.
That's never been the case yet, though it might happen in the future. I would venture that such productive powers would lead to a more individualistic society as people were freed from the need to please or even deal with others in order to live.
As an illustration, consider a feasible scenario in which technology progresses and brings about a world in which everyone has their own advanced 3D printer, thanks to capitalism's markets. These 3D printers of the future can produce *anything* designed, whether organic or inorganic -- the only catch is the *feedstock* required, and so a radical-type populistic social norm prevails that values these feedstocks, and their ready production, as much as the planet's *water* supplies.
Again, that's landowning.
Private ownership is at a loss to proprietize and commodify the natural resources that go into these feedstocks,
Don't you believe it. The something-for-nothing guys are nothing if not relentless.
because now that's all that *anyone* needs -- a few basic ingredients from nature, subjected to fully-automated machine processes that spit out the required array of feedstocks, for *anyone* to use and individually benefit from, similar to the treatment of water today.
You think private interests aren't trying to get even more ownership of water resources?
You're merely making assumptions / idealism-type constructions about human capabilities --
It's not an assumption. It's anthropological and psychological fact.
you just admitted that 'success' and 'status' are dependent on larger empirical material conditions, but then you ignore your own heightened consciousness, to baselessly reiterate your 'human nature' line.
It's not baseless.
So here's the point: What if the social conditions changed to such an extent that 'status' and 'success' were completely *obliterated* -- ? -- !
As in the ant society? Would we still be human?
Nothing that any person could do, because of prevailing abundance, could *not* be done by the next person -- the only differentiation remaining would be that of *willingness*, so that all anyone could say would be 'Well, I didn't want to go in that particular direction.' Everyone would have their own, individualistic 'successes' and 'status', but so would *everyone else*, as direct consequences of fully self-realized lives, and perhaps that reality alone would obliterate the conventional, social-group-type norms of 'status' and 'success' -- in short, there would no longer be 'leaders' and 'hangers-on' / followers, because no one would want to waste their *own* time on the coattails of anyone else.
While unfamiliar with that cultural product in particular, I think I get the gist of what you're saying -- unfortunately you're too dismissive of *social* improvements that are due to *technological* advances, such as cell phones and email, that take the inconvenience and drudgery out of socially-crucial activities like coordination and cooperation. (I would personally put the nascent driverless cars in this category, too.)
We don't know where technology is going to go, and Marxist claims of certainty and inevitability are groundless, risible, and roundly refuted by their consistent record of failure to date.
Well, what's 'productive', exactly -- maybe higher-level artistic and engineering creations -- ?
Relief of scarcity.
Your response is too casual and facile. My point stands that less gruntwork for everyone means a more-empowered *self-determination* for all individuals.
That's how it has worked out so far; it does not resemble Marx's predictions; and we could do a lot better if socialists and capitalists could be persuaded to give up fighting over their false dichotomy.
I *don't* disagree with this -- can we agree that 'privilege' is currently based upon the pedestal of 'capital ownership'?
No. See above. Your use of "capital" nomenclature is not an aid to clarity. Privilege is based on law, and is not necessarily something that can be owned at all (though the privileged typically want to own it somehow). Consider white privilege under Jim Crow. Nothing to do with capital ownership.
Well, this contention isn't fair, due to prevailing income inequality --
No, it's only unfair because of the prevailing injustice of the capitalist privilege system. Some
income inequality is just.
ownership of strong equity values, made from capital gains, has *nothing* to do with 'earned rewards'.
Very little, true, because returns obtained by earning can be competed away; returns to privilege cannot.
It's closer to a 'good bet' within casino capitalism, or ownership of a good expert-system automatic algorithm that tips the scales with faster-than-human buying and selling, 24/7/365.
Ownership of superhuman AI is not a privilege. Being able to outcompete others is not a privilege. Being legally entitled to benefit from the abrogation of others' rights is a privilege. You don't seem willing to come to grips with the difference between winning the competition to produce and winning the competition to take without producing.
Nope -- this is pure supposition on your part.
No it's not. That's how our remote ancestors actually lived under the conditions you specify.
Even today we already see solid evidence for the existence of your dreaded, ideologically-undesired 'altruistic' behavior on the part of millions and billions of people, as into disaster relief or everyday charitable activities.
Now who's engaging in pure supposition? I have nothing special against altruism. I just don't think it's very practical or natural as a human motivation.
The expansion of the conventional 'public sector', to *de-*privatize much material-economic activity, could yield a reality of the model 'communist gift-economy', where the private sector just couldn't *compete* with freely-given, massively parallelized cooperative inputs, for anyone's free-access, as we *already* see in the open-source software movement.
Software (information) is naturally abundant. Land and goods aren't. You think the communist model is an ideal. I beg to differ.
If you acknowledge *family* at all you'll see the most-regular social institution of pay-it-forward altruism -- why should *anyone* sacrifice their *own* time and life for an infantile creature that's only going to increasingly assert its own individuality, rebuffing its benefactors, as it grows up -- ?
Because Darwin says that's what will exist rather than not exist. The existent wins the contest of existence.
So the only thing remaining in this calculus is the dimension of *scale* -- a worldwide 'human family' attitude is *certainly* realistically realizable, if only we could decisively, collectively do away with the institution of private property ownership, once and for all.
Nonsense. It's not private property that divides people. It's privilege, and the associated massive, systematic, institutionalized injustice.
You're making it sound as though *all* labor is *necessarily* socialized, when that's *far* from the reality
No, but relief of scarcity helps everyone.
-- much corporate wealth, for example, just sits stagnant and is *not* available for any potentially productive usage whatsoever.
I'm much more concerned that most of it is by its inherent character a legal entitlement to take rather than a power to produce.
The 'primitive accumulation of capital' dynamic continues unabated and *balkanizes* ownership into endlessly subdivided specialized scales of magnitude, the *opposite* direction from societal *collectivization*
Marxists are permanently unable to understand economic processes like accumulation and increasing inequality because they refuse to distinguish between rightful and wrongful ownership.
Well, these well-guided or otherwise socialist-nationalist developments did *not* happen in political incubators -- there were overarching socio-political developments, like imperialist Western invasions, that surrounded them, so you're taking the historical results to be necessarily *correct* outcomes,
If by "correct" you mean inevitable.
and you're placing all blame on those nascent national reconfigurations themselves (and/or their particular guiding ideologies),
Not all, but most.
which boils down to a 'might-makes-right' mindset, since the strongest player in each geopolitical contest ultimately prevailed, with the left-leaners being 'losers'. That's what you're saying.
No, I'm saying they were all losers because they were intellectually weak, and thus inherently incompetent to address their nations' economic problems: they could not relieve scarcity.
So you'd prefer to see the political-collectivist aspect take a back-seat to the existing status-quo *economic* aspect --
No, I'd prefer to see complete abandonment of both the Marxist political-collectivist aspect and the status-quo capitalist aspect.
that's just being ideological,
That's a strange thing for a Marxist to be accusing anyone of...
and is also apologizing for Western imperialism and its military invasions.
No. When did the West invade socialist China? Oh, no, wait a minute, that's right: it was socialist China that invaded, conquered, and colonized Tibet. When did the West invade or attack Venezuela, hmmmm? Socialists need to man up and own their failures.
Might-makes-right, according to you.
No, right makes might.
You really think that the difference between equity capital and rentier capital is so great as to be like a *valid* form of capitalism ('equities'), and an *invalid* form of capitalism ('rentier') -- ?
I do indeed, and I've proved it, if by "equity capital" you mean ownership of producer goods and by "rentier capital" you mean ownership of privileges.
What happens if productive equity investments suddenly yield more than expected or planned-for, thus generating a material *surplus* -- ?
We are happy.
Where would that surplus *go* -- ?
To those who were willing and able to pay for it.
Unless *every cent* of gains was automatically, immediately plowed-back into more equities, there would be an empirical *need* for inactive piles and hoards of rentier-type wealth that would just be sitting there.
Nonsense. Surplus production cannot be converted into privilege, let alone somehow automatically morphing into it.
You seem to think that you can just personally summarily pick which is 'good' capital and which is 'bad' capital,
I have told you how to tell the difference. You just refuse to do so.
to fuel your custom ideology where only *productive* capital exists.
That's the idea. No more taking by owning privileges.
What about *capital goods*, like bank loans -- ?
Banksters' privilege of creating money de novo as loan proceeds is not a capital good.
Then you have an objective need for the existence of *rentier*-type capital, for availability to *equity*-type activities, as with any type of financial leveraging.
No. Owning a privilege of creating money to charge interest on it is not the same as saving money and charging interest for its use.
So then what's your solution here -- how *should* land be managed, or co-managed, especially within the framework of productive equity-type investments?
Everyone should have free, secure tenure on enough of the available advantageous land of their choice to have access to economic opportunity, and those who want to deprive others of more than that should pay the market rent for the extra to the community of those thus deprived. Basically a land value tax with a modest, universal individual exemption.
Land isn't worth *shit* in productive terms unless it's been worked-on by some kind of labor -- it needs tilling, planting, watering, fertilizing, pest control, harvesting, etc.
No, that's just objectively false, as proved by the astronomical market value of raw, unimproved land in advantageous locations. You are blatantly contradicting yourself by claiming that land is useless until someone has used it. But... why would anyone use it unless it were already useful, hmmmmmmmmm?
I already won, junior.