mikema63 wrote:I was a tad rude about it. I do appreciate your willingness to do a lot of in depth research and writing when you comment on a topic. I just had class.
Not rude at all.
Sure we can agree on that, just from a purely economic model point of view all else being equal an increase in labor supply reduces labor prices. I simply argue that this in and of itself isn't a reason to prevent all immigration. Just as increasing wages is not a good enough justification for banning women from the workforce or something equally silly. Some markets, like agricultural work, do not have enough labor however so the that effect on wages is reduced.
I also argue that the data on the overall long term effects of immigration ultimately grow the economy and drive up wages in terms of purchasing power. Paired with a robust education system and job retraining program I really do think people will be ultimately better off with some level of immigration than without. Even the people who may initially take a hit on wages.
I also agree that immigrants are far too vulnerable currently and I fully support increasing protections for them.
Indeed, the issue shouldn't be reduce to that of wages as that would ignore other pertinent parts of what's happening in the world. I'll leave this as I just kind of jumped in on the previous discussion to defend the point that immigrants do decrease real wages.
A softer capitalism, in the sense that labor isn't a commodity or in price mechanisms not existing for certain things, is indeed a silly idea. However I think we can create societal systems within capitalism that mitigate the less savory things that can come with a capitalist economy. I support, for instance, a negative income tax which would do a tremendous amount of good evening out inequality and eliminating poverty. Some on the left believe it in inherently impossible to get through these projects but I disagree. I am also skeptical of the "overcoming capitalism" thing as I don't see economic management being centralized as currently possible, though if it were it would certainly be more efficient and offer more in the way of being able to shape our values into the economy rather than having the price mechanisms value everything in ways that aren't all that appetizing.
where labor isn't a commodity? How do you imagine one can have such a reality within capitalist relations? This sounds strange to me as what you seem to want seems to necessarily require non-capitalist relations, yet you want it within capitalism. Must be in the details of what you're conceiving as a commodity and what would denote labor no longer being a commodity because it seems fundamental to the function of capitalism that majority of people submit to the markets and deprived of so much so that they're coerced out of necessity to work for a wage to get money to buy what they need and want.
Indeed, taxing those with more would be good, but don't think that's sustainable when those with the most wealth have the most political power and thus often press against any such goals. It don't sound sustainable because one would largely retain a more powerful class, they would have to be subdued to effectively bring about such a reform which would only happen at intense crisis and with significant threat (people organized against the capitalist class or their representatives in parliament).
I don't see it as an ideological issue. Ideologically I see no particular reason to support capitalism vs. socialism except that the data we have on hand suggests that a great deal of caution should be applied when making change. Sudden upheavals and pushes to entirely reshape the economy all at once have had spectacular failures or in the case of countries like china have just resulted in liberalization in order to improve economic conditions.
IMHO the problem is a technological, analytical, and data problem not an ideological one.
Eh, I find this too much in the realm of not seeing the ideological import in such things as if we just need to get the right facts and data, but simply ignores the framework that gives meaning to facts and data. That makes me skeptical because its quite often many present their views as non-ideological and not value laden but they necessarily are, they simply aren't explicit and self conscious to the nature of their own assumptions.
The very statement "data we have on hand suggests that a great deal of caution should be applied when making change" to me sounds incredibly ideologically loaded yet it's presented purely as fact based out of interpretation of what ever facts you've taken into mind.
And the statement about caution, again makes sense in your apprehension to the possibility of radical changes.
Though that can be a debate in itself where people may speak to the particular difficulties of backwards nations that were largely agrarian leading socialist revolutions and the idea that they ended up merely serving the necessities of capitalist production.
It should be stated that a lot of good has also been done by globalization and trade. Even when it benefits american companies. In south east asia and africa for instance many extremely poor economies have seen massive growth due to support and trade with the west within the capitalist global system. It is absolutely possible to see growth. Over focusing on areas where turmoil resulted ignores the whole picture.
I also question whether it would be different in a communist or socialist world order. Failures in centralized controls on the economy can also result in massive economic problems and being drawn into that world order would also cause upheaval for small countries that don't have any choice but to play along with the world system.
And a lot of bad to, should seek to simulatenously hold the good and the bad, because I have a distate for the one sidedness of all the good which is what I typically associate with liberalism in its percieved win win for everyone as it often serves as an ideological cover of, no capitalist class primarily wins. Like the whole shtick of the UN going to eradicate poverty via free trade, which 'failed' in that it was never clearly meant to succeed, nice rhetorical points about human rights and poverty when largely pursuing profits.https://focusweb.org/node/1253
When two studies last year detailed how the World Bank's research unit had been systematically manipulating data to show that neoliberal market reforms were promoting growth and reducing poverty in developing countries, development circles were not shocked. They merely saw the devastating findings of a study by American University Professor Robin Broad and a report by Princeton University Professor Angus Deaton and former International Monetary Fund chief economist Ken Rogoff as but the latest episode in the collapse of the so-called Washington Consensus.
"[World] Bank researchers have...done extremely visible work on globalization, on aid effectiveness, and on growth and poverty. In many ways, they have been the leaders in these issues. But the panel had substantial criticisms of the way that the research was used to proselytize on behalf of Bank policy, often without taking a balanced view, and without expressing appropriate skepticism. Internal research that is favorable to Bank positions was given great prominence, and unfavorable research ignored. In these cases, we believe that there was a serious failure of checks and balances that should have separated advocacy and research. The panel endorses the right of the Bank to strongly defend and advocate its own policies. But when the Bank leadership selectively appeals to relatively new and untested research as hard evidence that these preferred policies work, it lends unwarranted confidence to the Bank's prescriptions. Placing fragile selected new research results on a pedestal invites later recrimination that undermines the credibility and usefulness of all Bank research." (An Evaluation of World Bank Research, 1998-2005)
That I think rather than a simple, poverty is being reduced, a more skeptical eye is warranted to see what poverty means (as the definition of poverty is loaded) and how simply having an increase doesn't mean that things are all that great, because progress can in fact be substantively fettered by forces. If I just look at the increase but I could compare it to if there wasn't a whole lot of other stuff messing things up, could see that the potential and goals stated show that what progress is thought to be achieved is piece meal and shows a actual lack of commitment to improvement. The supposed we're eradicating pvoerty thing reeks of being a lot more dirty than the good feelings some westerner gets because they think we're helping poor black folks somehow, chairty rather than justice, just like the middle class whites that found MLK distateful because they thought the call for a radical change was too much, putting another man's freedom on a clock, saying they must wait. http://www2.ohchr.org/english/issues/poverty/expert/docs/Thomas_Pogge_Summary.pdf
Are the rich countries violating human rights when they, in collaboration with Southern elites, impose a global institutional order under which, foreseeably and avoidably, hundreds of millions cannot attain “a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care” (Universal Declaration of Human Rights §25)? The Declaration itself makes quite clear that they do when it proclaims that “everyone is entitled to a social and international order in which the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration can be fully realized” (§28). The existing international institutional order fails this test. It aggravates extreme poverty through protectionism and aggressive enforcement of intellectual proprty rights in seeds and essential medicines.
And it fosters corrupt and oppressive government in the poorer countries by recognizing any person or group holding effective power — regardless of how they acquired or exercise it — as entitled to sell the country’s resources and to dispose of the proceeds of such sales, to borrow in the country’s name and thereby to impose debt service obligations upon it, to sign treaties on the country’s behalf and thus to bind its present and future population, and to use state revenues to buy the means of internal repression.
I firmly support limiting abuses as far as a liberal democracy is capable of doing so. But you are right about this, within a capitalist economy capitalist benefit from any policy that causes positive economic growth. That's simply the nature of the system. It is not ideal and is not maximally efficient in terms of seeing economic growth help everyone improve by a lot rather than having one group improve massively with diminished returns for everyone else. However I do think it's an efficient way to organize the economy and produce goods, more efficient than socialism without the technological backbone required to centralize the entire economy and predict supply and demand for every product in every sector.
A capitalist class working as a more defuse organizing mechanism works, even if the benefit they receive from their function is rather more than most people are comfortable with.
Efficiency isn't a good inherently within itself and I think the term economic growth needs to be made more concrete to think about who is really benefiting. Increase in a nations wealth doesn't necessarily improves a countries living standards for example, the US is one of the wealthiest countries in the world and compared to other developed countries is denigrated on many outcomes.
That the term efficiency is a loaded term in itself.
Because for example, I find it rather 'ineffecient' that many people are without food security, housing, healthcare and so on. THough the issue of centralization versus the supposedly diffuse which I wonder if sets up a dichotomy that obscures the real content of the difference, in that there's a great deal of organization within a 'free market' system. But that's a weird subject in the way that capital is free, it surpasses the nation state in some ways but it also increasingly uses the state to enforce it's own ends and maintain discipline for it's function.
To tackle this point I need to lay out a few things about my own position.
My "long term end goal" as it were is to maximize, across society, economic efficiency. Have the cost of goods, particularly necessary goods like food, shelter, water, etc. be low. Maximize peoples purchasing power across society. Support the development of more and better products, processes, etc.
I also do not believe that the end of the diffuse agrarianism in mexico is ultimately a bad thing for mexican society. It certainly hurts the people who were doing the farming, and I would have preferred to see mexico or the US take point on lifting them out of the situtation rather than just destroying their way of life and leaving them along. However the move away from diffuse agrarianism to a more manufacturing economy makes the real purchasing power of mexico's poor greater. Food is cheaper, and they have access to higher paying jobs than before.
This is a net good, ultimately, for most people in mexico. Even though it directly harmed the farmers. Change always harms someone, even under a communist system farming is better centralized and those farmers would be moved to other sectors. Since the process is more deliberate there is the opportunity to do a better job taking care of those hurt, but they not always did so in the past, and I maintain that capitalism is a more efficient system for identifying these areas and (yes, very ruthlessly) increasing economic efficiency.
The particular mexican worker who lost their agrarian farm in mexico, and the american agricultural worker who sees their wage decrease, are not helped in the short run. However ultimately the whole of mexican and american society is helped in terms of purchasing power, and I do think ultimately that same hurt mexican and american worker can see greater opportunity in the future than they did before the immigration.
Personally, I would make a tweak in which human wants and needs are the goal and then contemplation of how to best materielly satisfy those needs, because I get knee jerk about what I associate with some of them libertarians whose goal is really just a free flow of capital and then they play with rhetoric of it leading to freedom and that. Because the productive expansion of capitalism does allow the best capacity to serve human needs, the tension arises though that it often doesn't meet the needs of many because they don't have actual demand because they're poor.
I think there should be caution over the sense that it's necessarily satisfying human needs.https://monthlyreview.org/2012/07/01/some-theoretical-implications/
To be sure, the wants of the individuals to which capitalism was supposed to cater were the wants of the capitalist individual. But in the earlier phase of capitalist development it could legitimately be assumed that these wants coincided to a large extent with genuine human needs, and that the capitalist mode of satisfying them, all its inadequacy and cruelty notwithstanding, was a great improvement over preceding social organizations in which these needs remained so largely unattended to. Thus, while it was never feasible to overcome the theoretical difficulty arising from the fact that the “autonomous” or rational individual, who provided the principal pillar of the bourgeois defense and justifications of capitalism, was never anything but the product of capitalism itself, still the practical significance of this inconsistency was relatively small in the progressive phase of capitalist development. At that time bourgeois rationality was in fact the historically most advanced form of rationality: the preferences, desires, and “values” of the individual operating in the market were in harmony with the requirements of the individual and of society as a whole.
Under such circumstances it was legitimate to assign secondary importance to the complex relations between human wants and human needs. The elementary nature of most people’s wants—for food and clothing, shelter and sanitation, transportation and literacy—justified the assumption of a far-reaching correspondence between wants and needs. Not that the capitalist order and specifically the capitalist enterprise did not mold and direct the wants and preferences of people under competitive capitalism. But the crucially important difference between competitive capitalism of old and its current monopolistic phase is the manner in which human wants and the nature of the goods that serve to satisfy them are determined. Under competitive capitalism, prior to the emergence of the giant corporation and its giant sales effort, the evolution of wants and the development of the commodities which both shaped and satisfied them was an elemental, quasi-natural process propelled by competitive interaction of all capitalist enterprises and by a conscious effort of none. Just as the price ruling in the market was a datum to the individual firm, so were the physical properties of the commodities which it produced and sought to sell. This is quite different in the case of the monopolistic producer. The purpose of his sales effort is no longer merely to promote the sales of commodities the function of which is to satisfy human needs prevailing at any given time. The purpose of his sales effort is to create wants which will generate the demand for his product. The monopolistic producer is thus not only in a position to manipulate the price and the volume of his output, he can also adapt the physical properties of his product to the requirements of his sales effort. The sales effort, in other words, develops from an auxiliary of the production process into an integral, and indeed decisively important part of it. What can be sold is no longer what is produced; on the contrary, what is produced is what it is possible to sell. In such a setting the molding of human wants and the designing of products to satisfy them cease to be a result of the objectified forces of the market and become the outcome of a conscious manipulative effort on the part of a relatively small number of monopolistic corporations.
The consequence of that effort, as we have already seen in Chapter 5 [The Sales Effort], is an interpenetration of sales and production endeavors. This interpenetration renders the distinction between the two increasingly problematical, and introduces uncertainty and ambiguity into the very concept of a commodity. It can no longer be assumed, as it once could, that the things which are bought and sold in the market serve to satisfy genuine human needs. In any given case, we may only be witnessing proof that some giant corporation has succeeded in generating a perfunctory want. The significance of this can hardly be exaggerated. As long as the need-satisfying quality of commodities could be taken for granted, all that mattered in terms of human welfare were the volume and distribution of output. There was no question about the approximate appropriateness of the physical composition of output.
The distinction of what drives markets is an important one in seeing that whilst capitalist production can overlap with real human needs, it will largely ignore many needs if it doesn't make a profit. Fortunately many markets can be made profitable but production isn't often rationally designed strictly around anything else than profit which can have catastrophic effects for humans. The ultimate concern for the long run of capitalist economy isn't whether it'll last for ever, but rather whether we'll survive it because it's so chaotic and destructive.
But I'll accept your view here of capitalist development helping out in terms of decreasing price of food. But I would note, that Mexico been through some shit with intensifying poverty and that which isn't unconnected to such changes in the economy, the zapatistas and shit emerged out of what NAFTA did to a lot of people, which is expected as that stuff is disruptive as you seem to acknowledge.
It's purely pragmatic. Capitalism works, by and large, as a system. Perhaps another hypothetical system would be just as good or better at organizing the economy and would better reflect our values as a society rather than just being a faceless mechanism that only works to improve efficiency. However what concerns me about socialist projects is that they often intend to simply take over a society and force their system onto the world and just double down when the system doesn't work as intended. Forcing ideals on reality this way is a project doomed to failure and the ultimate fate of any system that centralizes economic power like that.
People have to many limitations and biases for a small group of people to be able to organize an economy. Which is why I think the end of capitalism is technological not political or ideological. At some point we will be able to model and predict supply and demand and efficiently allocate resources with a technological system. Until then capitalism is the best system we have available to us for improving economic conditions.
The ultimate self destroying tendency of capitalism is not it's internal contradictions but that it always tries to expand the resource and production base of society towards it's maximum, and with technological growth that maximum will eventually result in such huge potential supply that many goods will become increasingly cheap to the point where they become essentially free, and capitalism can not act on such functionally limitless supply.
While you never can have an infinite amount of goods there is a limit to how much anyone can consume, and once capitalism moves the efficiency of production past that point it will begin to fall apart.
Is that not what occurred for capitalism as well in it's bourgeoisie revolutions the world over? Took over and attempted to force certain ideals? The case of course being that they introduced humanistic ideals that were at best partially realized because the real basis as Marx saw was based not in rhetoric of rights but in capitalist development. And similarly, the point for a socialist revolution would be to understand and disrupt the law of value. Which is where there would be particular debates of what the implications would be in trying to undo it. The precedent of the USSR, Cuba, PRC and such aren't the best examples in that one could argue that they weren't at a stage to undo the market effectively and you seem aware of this that they went through industrialization and such similarly. But I think its too dismissive to treat the socialist project, at least of the Marxist variant as a simply idealist view, but I get it, we're politically different and you've necessarily foreclosed the possibility I believe though I think at times you write as being open to it, but it seems that you don't actually hold any sense of it being possible except as an unforeseeable outcome for yourself.
I fundamentally disagree that its jsut a technological issue, it is fundamentally political, because for all our technological advancements, they mean bugger all in regards to changing the fundamental capitalist relations that we still exist under. Technology can help push human necessity back and improve our lot, but it won't emancipate us from capitalism and it's markets. Only people who struggle will because as MLK jr said, "Change does not roll in on the wheels of inevitability, but comes through continuous struggle".
I would think it falls a part more because it has such abundance simultaneously as it has such poverty and deprivation. That it becomes hard as those with the least are increasingly pushed into the ground whilst there exists those with so much, it becomes a moral imperative to fuck up that which is necessarily unjust to their existence. There are somethings that simply aren't as amicable to markets such as those that attempt to subvert intellectual property and that online. But such things may serve to create fruitful conditions, but it'll ultimately be people that force a change and a new political program which of course requires the conditions of possibility.
But it may be dubious the extent to which those conditions don't already exist in many places.
I'm a dirty globalist scoundrel. I believe that the world market must and will eventually be unified (which increases economic efficiency and ultimately let's every country produce what it's best at) and the labor market is no exception ultimately.
As I take it Marxists are globalists in the degree that they aren't reactionaries economically.
And take it you're thinking the global economy would be more connected than it already is.
When the world's labor is on par with one another, I would say it'd have already been working towards socialism because it would set the conditions of a global working class that see's its shared interest in fucking off a capitalist class and thus seeking to established a concrete universal humanity due to the dissolution of class distinctions.
mikema63 wrote:My attitude isn't Hopeless really, I think capitalism is a necessary step in the progression of society and will eventually become a less useful tool as time goes on. In the same way that feudalism ended when conditions changed to be such that it was no longer a useful system.
My position on the whole deliberate overthrowing of capitalism with the view of creating a specific sort of system is basically the same as it would be towards a political group that existed in the middle of feudalism and wanted to overthrow it and replace it with capitalism (or what they imagine capitalism would be).
The mechanisms that would support capitalism didn't exist at the time and you couldn't simply conjure them up by overthrowing feudalism. It's an idea whose time hadn't come.
I suppose I'm skeptical of your view in that I get the felt impression that you don't put enough stock int he agency of workers to change the conditions with your emphasis on technology. And I'm kind of wondering what you think of the bourgeoisie revolutions considering that they were a group that actively overthrew monarchs and stuff to pursue their class interest. It being the case that the technology played a role, but ultimately there were social relations and antagonisms that lead to a revolution that overthrew that which was a fetter on new emerging relations and organization of the capitalist class. Similarly, the working class will be required to over throw the capitalist class out of a similar obsoletion of capitalist relations. Though the tension here of course is when is it, and whilst I think it'd help if we had a better background in some other subjects to delineate when and why, I also think it's the case that one doesn't purely predict such things. I can't imagine someone predicting the outcome of the french revolution, the point about philsohpers only interpreting the world and not changing it being quite pivotal in that the world doesn't change because a person had an idea, and ideas themselves often are a reflection of the state of the world and thus can hardly go beyond them except considering the nature of change and how new things emerge from the old. Which is why there's a big emphasis on the contradiction between socialized production but individualized ownership, it being a class relation that needs to be done away with to create a qualitative change in society, rather than that which wants a different world but within the pre-existing order. To achieve certain things, it necessarily presumes other things have to change with it, as things don't necessarily change independently of other things but presume certain conditions for their existence. But it is the case I can't speak to your concern of markets and it being changed myself for a lack of knowledge of how it's often theorized.
Essentially. I'm fundamentally skeptical of the revolution being able to create socialism without whatever societal development we will need to have had to actually support such a system.
Well that makes sense, the conditions of possibility necessarily exist prior.
But it's also the case that the problem's existence in people's minds often is founded on the solution being a possibility. http://isj.org.uk/marxism-and-ethics/
society does not pose for itself tasks the conditions for whose resolution do not already exist’
Like the feminist project simply doesn't come about without industrialization occurring and giving women economic power if even severely exploited. Though the question of course is what are the conditions that are necessary for the dissolution of capitalism. My intuitive point due to a lack of explicit knowledge is that when I see the current capacity of what our societies can do, it seems strange to think that it's too much to think that we could organize society to meet human need.
It's not so much that it's impossible to eradicate poverty but the will isn't there because of the system's function under the law of value where we're alienated from perceiving the social relations that underpin society, but instead feel passive to the whims of market forces. But the market forces aren't simply an illsuion as they're a very real 'illusion' and reflect something very real about our relations and that seems to be the big problem, how to dissolve markets whilst directly satisfying human needs so that they may flourish with a human individuality primarily reserved those well off enough to not be so stuck to the necessity of work.
More or less this is true. I fundamentally come at this with the attitude of what would I like to do, what are the conditions that constrain available options, and from data and study what is the best way to achieve that goal.
I also tend to have a (for lack of a better word) "conservative" approach to what path to take. Take reducing poverty. There are several possible ways to do this from raising the EITC to implementing an NIT to overthrowing the bourgeois and just forcing it. From the available options I consider what is most likely to achieve that goal with minimal risk of horrible back side effects.
EITC doesn't do enough, the revolution can turn into something absolutely unhealthy and I'm fundamentally skeptical of how successful it could be and so I support an NIT not because I think it's the perfect solution (though in this case I consider the NIT to be incredibly elegant policy) but it is a workable policy to alleviate poverty and has very little risk of negative problems.
Yeah I get that, you want certain outcomes without the nastiness, because no doubt conflicts are quite unpleasant. But I would emphasize that there are things that are inherently unpleasant to the present conditions that are made a necessity of how our system functions. I think such policies are good, but that I think what needs to be put into perspective is what the actual goal is and to be honest about what that goal actually reflects for a lot of people. Because for example, the white moderate of the old days was the white liberal who proposed gradualist reform to slavery and what it communicated to blacks was exactly the same condescension that MLK Jr found more disgusting than those that explicitly opposed and hated him. It hides a fascade of being on one's side but in reality wants to maintain the conditions that cause the harm thinking that things will magically get better in time, so not to do anything too rash. http://www.lacan.com/zizrobes.htm
To break the yoke of habits means: if all men are equal, than all men are to be effectively treated as equal; if blacks are also human, they should be immediately treated as such. Recall the early stages of the struggle against slavery in the US, which, even prior to the Civil War, culminated in the armed conflict between the gradualism of compassionate liberals and the unique figure of John Brown:
African Americans were caricatures of people, they were characterized as buffoons and minstrels, they were the butt-end of jokes in American society. And even the abolitionists, as antislavery as they were, the majority of them did not see African Americans as equals. The majority of them, and this was something that African Americans complained about all the time, were willing to work for the end of slavery in the South but they were not willing to work to end discrimination in the North. /.../ John Brown wasn't like that. For him, practicing egalitarianism was a first step toward ending slavery. And African Americans who came in contact with him knew this immediately. He made it very clear that he saw no difference, and he didn't make this clear by saying it, he made it clear by what he did. 
For this reason, John Brown is the KEY political figure in the history of US: in his fervently Christian "radical abolitionism," he came closest to introducing the Jacobin logic into the US political landscape: "John Brown considered himself a complete egalitarian. And it was very important for him to practice egalitarianism on every level. /.../ He made it very clear that he saw no difference, and he didn't make this clear by saying it, he made it clear by what he did."  Today even, long after slavery was abolished, Brown is the dividing figure in American collective memory; those whites who support Brown are all the more precious - among them, surprisingly, Henry David Thoreau, the great opponent of violence: against the standard dismissal of Brown as blood-thirsty, foolish and insane, Thoreau  painted a portrait of a peerless man whose embracement of a cause was unparalleled; he even goes as far as to liken Brown's execution (he states that he regards Brown as dead before his actual death) to Christ. Thoreau vents at the scores of those who have voiced their displeasure and scorn for John Brown: the same people can't relate to Brown because of their concrete stances and "dead" existences; they are truly not living, only a handful of men have lived.
It is, however, this very consequent egalitarianism which is simultaneously the limitations of the Jacobin politics. Recall Marx's fundamental insight about the "bourgeois" limitation of the logic of equality: the capitalist inequalities ("exploitations") are not the "unprincipled violations of the principle of equality," but are absolutely inherent to the logic of equality, they are the paradoxical result of its consequent realization. What we have in mind here is not only the old boring motif of how market exchange presupposes formally/legally equal subjects who meet and interact on the market; the crucial moment of Marx's critique of "bourgeois" socialists is that capitalist exploitation does not involve any kind of "unequal" exchange between the worker and the capitalist - this exchange is fully equal and "just," ideally (in principle), the worker gets paid the full value of the commodity he is selling (his labour force). Of course, radical bourgeois revolutionaries are aware of this limitation; however, the way they try to amend it is through a direct "terrorist" imposition of more and more de facto equality (equal salaries, equal health service...), which can only be imposed through new forms of formal inequality (different sorts of preferential treatments of the under-privileged). In short, the axiom of "equality" means either not enough (it remains the abstract form of actual inequality) or too much (enforce "terrorist" equality) - it is a formalist notion in a strict dialectical sense, i.e., its limitation is precisely that its form is not concrete enough, but a mere neutral container of some content that eludes this form.
Folks don't want charity, that spit on that shit, they want justice and charity ain't justice and what is unjust is the conditions that bring the wrongs against them, that have people in such poverty in the first place, something inherent to capitalism, that thinkers as far back as Hegel tried to reconcile why such abundance co-existed with such poverty. This is the difference in the logic, and why I think such reforms are unsustainable in the long term, which isn't a rejection of their implementation, I like such people being supported and being better positioned for it. But I don't think it comprehends what the problem is in the first place and thus necessarily doesn't see a solution because its unconcerned with what underpins the problem but only wants to moderate and mediate it. Which I understand, its why i used earlier the example that the problem fo immigration wasn't to be solve through policy. And I can accept the moderation and mediation on it's terms, but I do think it needs to be frank about not being a solution but a band aid that will forever wait for something else to solve the problem. Where as it's the likes of someone like John Brown that ain't waiting for someone else to tell them that now the time is right, the very idea that the time to do something is always not now, necessarily restrains people from looking to do something about the source of the problem. Which isn't easy task either and I reckon may often overlap with some of the political programmes that people propose, although they too often see that as the end goal unto itself and not setting conditions for something more and to always be pushing further. The point here isn't to strictly advocate some violent organization, but to put things in relation to one another so as not to be as impotent as those that only speak of revolution but effectively do nothing but not as restrained as those whose highest aspirations is charity forced from the capitalist class whilst effectively maintaining their dominance.
I approach this problem from, essentially, a scientific perspective. It's not that I dislike dialectics or devalue philosophical ways of regarding these problems, but I'm personally attracted to a more data and experimentally driven methodology wherever possible. I appreciate that ultimately when we get down to the values we organize our beliefs around it's purely the realm of philosophy, and I do appreciate the value of using marx's dialectic as an analytical tool, but I'm less convinced that it can be a prescriptive one.
This is a repeat of history and speaks to how the same problems emerges because whilst everything changes, everything stays the same Haha
This, would be an excellent read in response to this and I would crudely state that you seem in the vein of the Machists. Leninist Dialectics and the Metaphysics of Positivism
I don't know how readily relevant it may seems, but it seems most appropriate to this distinction you make of being scientific which I think might be helped by exploring the philosophical views that may distinguish the scientists Lenin had to lay a smackdown on for the danger their views had if they were to be influential for understanding dialecticalism. Which is in fact why Evald Ilyenkov revists this debate because he seems to reassert dialectics in its true sense which wasn't prevalent in the USSR and in fact made him a target for censorship. Even if you read it, you might find some sympathy in the Machists and have a means to make more explicit your views in rejection Ilyenkov's characterization of them alongside his interpretation of Lenin's view. It just seems to me that what ever dialecticalism is meant to be thought of, that it seems necessarily truer than the world view of the mechanists.
I think if you can't see the prescription in Marx's implicit philosophy, then it's not his thought or works but the way you think which can necessarily only see so much within his work. In that it would appear to me that Marx is readily misinterpreted for a lack of background knowledge for the philosophy that is implicit in a lot of his work. Which is why I'm pretty poor in regards to Marxism in that I've spent a lot of my time trying to tangle with certain perspectives before engaging many primary sources.
I think another Ilyenkov work
might interest in you in that I have a faint memory looking through the forum in referencing Hume's Is/Ought or Fact/Value distinction to which it seems asserted, that like Hegel, his philosophy is able to reconcile the two so that they become one, the means becomes one's end in some way.
But the gap between is and ought, whilst a necessary step for distinction and self consciousness, isn't the height of what some people seem to be able to think and have gone further.
It's a quandary and ultimately no amount of scientific study will get you or me out of the fundamental conflict between our values and goals and just the inherent societal architecture which constrains what we can do. It is tempting to simply philosophize some other architecture that matches your values better but this is an extremely dangerous thing to take too seriously without very deep consideration indeed. It's all well and good to speculate about what "post-capitalism" will look like and how it will work but it's quite another to take those speculations and actually enforce them in the real world.
I am more or less content to tinker with capitalism and push policies that will ultimately make it easier for parts of the economy to transition out of it as those sectors become so highly efficient and well managed that the price mechanism is no longer a useful method of organizing it. I am, in that way, rather conservative about dynamiting the whole thing and trying to implement some grand vision.
Indeed, because it's not a matter of compiling the right amount of facts but in large part the very world view one uses to interpret those facts.
Its the case that I think Marxism is one of the best ways to better conceive of the world away from the one-sidedness of abstractions. But these are just words that don't resonate because one can't instill knowledge into another, its a internal journey where they feel and think out the object of study. But I state it in that it poses that there's something to be found there. That Marxism is necessarily concerned with the concrete
as opposed to the highly abstract.
And speculating post-capitalism may be more in the vein of utopian socialists who want to play with the alienated dreams they have more so than consider the present world as it is and consider how one works from what is to what one ought to be.
So regardless of any goal, I would suggest you maintain a curiosity for Marxism because there's a lot to uncover there.
This is an important point. I do not think we would be benefited as a society if all the marxists decided I was right about everything all along and got with the program. We need conflict in ideas to keep us honest, to hold us to carefully analyzing our own beliefs and positions, and to consider things in a way I couldn't because of the constraints of my beliefs and values (which goes both ways of course).
It is actually a serious criticism of communism in my view (at least so far as it was implemented) that it always seemed incredibly defensive and desperate to silence all such criticism. I think communist countries stagnated and became rigid because they became so involved in the philosophy that they would accept no reality proving them wrong. Lysenkoism would be the extreme example of this. Evolution was inconvenient to the soviet conception of communist ideals and philosophy, so they rejected evolution instead of reanalyzing their own attitudes and belief. This is extremely dangerous in my view.
Anyway more to your specific point, I think it's all to the best that people struggle for their beliefs, beyond it ultimately behooving us to support these views from a societal health perspective I think struggle is what gives peoples lives meaning (in a broad sense of struggle) and it bring change, often much needed change.
Hmm, the line about keeping us honest sounds possibly too confined to the realm of ideas.
There are ideas that are an expression of real world conflicts that are irreconcilable, that aren't resolved and harmonzied through reason. Although I guess there can be the sense in which theres pieces of truth in different view points, but this is I'm beginning to think that there's a distinction between some that grab from here and there and those that really synthesize. I think of Proudhorn who I have the impression epitomizes the sort of moderate middle class type.https://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1847/poverty-philosophy/ch02.htm
Let us return to M. Proudhon.
Every economic relation has a good and a bad side; it is the one point on which M. Proudhon does not give himself the lie. He sees the good side expounded by the economists; the bad side he sees denounced by the Socialists. He borrows from the economists the necessity of eternal relations; he borrows from the Socialists the illusion of seeing in poverty nothing but poverty. He is in agreement with both in wanting to fall back upon the authority of science. Science for him reduces itself to the slender proportions of a scientific formula; he is the man in search of formulas. Thus it is that M. Proudhon flatters himself on having given a criticism of both political economy and communism: he is beneath them both. Beneath the economists, since, as a philosopher who has at his elbow a magic formula, he thought he could dispense with going into purely economic details; beneath the socialists, because he has neither courage enough nor insight enough to rise, be it even speculatively, above the bourgeois horizon.
He wants to be the synthesis – he is a composite error.
He wants to soar as the man of science above the bourgeois and proletarians; he is merely the petty bourgeois, continually tossed back and forth between capital and labour, political economy and communism.
To help compliment this class basis of this sort of positionhttps://www.marxists.org/archive/trotsky/1938/morals/morals.htm
If an ignorant peasant or shopkeeper, understanding neither the origin nor the sense of the struggle between the proletariat and the bourgeoisie, discovers himself between the two fires, he will consider both belligerent camps with equal hatred. And who are all these democratic moralists? Ideologists of intermediary layers who have fallen, or are in fear of falling between the two fires. The chief traits of the prophets of this type are alienism to great historical movements, a hardened conservative mentality, smug narrowness, and a most primitive political cowardice. More than anything moralists wish that history should leave them in peace with their petty books, little magazines, subscribers, common sense, and moral copy books. But history does not leave them in peace. It cuffs them now from the left, now from the right. Clearly – revolution and reaction, Czarism and Bolshevism, communism and fascism, Stalinism and Trotskyism – are all twins. Whoever doubts this may feel the symmetrical skull bumps upon both the right and left sides of these very moralists.
Although I do wonder about the variations within the middle class which does find many expressions politically.
Well as noted above, I would say that they weren't involved in philosophy enough and strangled it with great thinkers like Ilyenkov. So it was indeed the case that a dogmatism was prevalent, the veneer of communist principles via symbols and saying the right words but the content of it was entirely gone. Those who were arguably true to Marx's work were condemned as they revealed the propaganda of that the soviet state hadn't achieved socialism, because it served an important part to speak of their progress and superiority on that basis. Everyone suffered for the severe restriction that strangled the life out of USSR life. I mean, someone like Evald Ilyenkov still held onto the dream of creating the socialist man and world for many years even after Stalin I hear, which is what also makes him so tragic a figure along with others that still saw that much needed to be done.
If I'm reading this properly your criticism seems to be that when I say something is good for the economy it isn't necessarily good for everyone in the economy.
I don't think this is without merit but I think we have to look at every case and look at whose being helped and hurt but I think it's pretty clear that in just about all cases anything that makes a commodity cheaper, particularly vital ones like food in the case of agriculture, it gives everyone who uses that commodity more purchasing power. Which I think is a good thing. Excess resources that were tied up in these commodities and the less efficient more expensive production processes are now freed up to be put to other uses and make other commodities cheaper and grow the economy. This seems to me to be categorically classifiable as a good thing for most people.
Certainly we could imagine a case where a commodity is only used by a few people and their is some terrible human cost in bringing the price down that means on net things are worse with the cheaper commodity. I suppose blood diamonds would fall into this category, or child labor and unacceptable working conditions. However I don't think the particular case of immigration in america is one of these, though obviously many are taken advantage of and we should absolutely expand on those protections.
Indeed, in regards to improving production of food is an example of pushing back human necessity. Which is what allows the redistribution of workers to other industries and such as less labour is required for food production.
But as mentioned far above, there is an important distinction that should always be aware so that profit and stuff doesn't just naturally assume it's meeting human needs and wants because it often doesn't. It's easy to speak of the productive capacity when it overlaps but there can be an ignored spot of when there is a gap due tot he motivation for profit actively going against human need. The gap between demand and 'actual' demand, which speaks to the limits of market mechanisms and considering human demand in that many people may want something but the market doesn't respond because those without money don't get to have an input.
But improving productive capacity with fewer people having to do it is improvement and a necessary part of pushing back human necessity sot hat we may have a abundant world in which we can spend time doing other things. Though its the case that the working class must necessarily devote its time to working for a wage and aren't exactly fulfilling the liberal arts college ideal in many cases. Because even if they get a decent education and such, they still on the grind to work at such long hours. Never have humans worked so hard as under capitalism, which has been a great boon but it's the case that production for productions sake or actually profit, is irrational to serving human values. And thus the idea is that we need to take conscious control over this shit or we're gonna mess ourselves up for good.
I hear you on this, I do, but this is true of literally anything that is positive for a capitalist economy. The capitalist class always benefits from the growth of a capitalist economy and there is no policy I could proscribe that will simultaneously work well in a capitalist system and not provide some sort of benefit or extra income of capitalists. However I do think this particular policy of immigration and many of the policies I would press do benefit more than just the people who own capital goods.
I agree, though a bit with the above, making explicit is important so that the positive notions is simply presupposed so that policies can ride on the connotation that whats good for the capitalist is good for the worker, losing sight when their interests in the short or long term don't rationally coincide. As this is useful in making people less conscious of things because they can't make an informed decision for everything being framed in such an abstract way that it becomes difficult to advocate their self interest which may be shared with others. Which is may be partially why I liberal rhetoric with markets can have such an optimistic win win view on things :\
Cheaper labor is good for business in the same way anything that goes into the production process more cheaply is good for business. There are a lot of factors around wages that set them and so I don't think the Marxist belief that wages will always fall is necessarily true, but I do support things like the Negative Income Tax to relieve the conflict between labor being a vital commodity whose price we cannot allow to simply inflate endlessly and destroy the system and the fact that laborers and their welfare are literally the point of any society.
In the abstract they may be the point of society, but the logic of markets don't really give much care to workers and their wellbeing primarily, but only secondary to the some extent that their wellbeing overlaps with other self interests in the maintenance of capitalist relations and production.
Well I would think that workers should see that their goal isn't to simply get a 'fair days wage
'. The whole tension of what is a justifiable wage seem again within the realm of purely mediating the issue, which is what many unions end up functioning as which has its benefits as certainly prefer workers strongly based. But again, a conscious awareness of the limits of this issue is important, in thinking beyond just asking for a decent wage and thinking of the relations. Not being content with what is merely presented to one's self as the task and problem but instead choosing to think about what the coordinates of what one can do. The radical freeodm being, not the choice between select options provide but instead arguing to choose the very limits of what one wants to choose. Which is a point to the freedom of any system that its freedom to do certain things within set limits. But those limits can lose their relevance when the problem that is messing things up can't be addressed within those limits. And an awareness of that may not lead one to agitate to change those relations and problem, but i do think its a hell of a lot better a person does it consciously. It being better that one could be in the same objective conditions but it's better for say a patient to have informed consent than things be one sided when they make a choice.
The main problem here is not that I am overly worried about hurting our "masters" too severely it's that we live in a capitalist world economy and as you say protections here have to be calculated to protect both workers and the economy on which those workers rely on to exist and eat and everything else. Marxists may chafe at the fact that we make these considerations but they are necessary ones just as in a socialist world economy there would be it's own set of considerations around policies that protect the economy or those policies from breaking down.
Well reason I brought up the opposing unions in a relative sense that people fundamentally oppose the interests of workers under such a pretense, workers are meant to be pressed down further and further under such an idea. But if one prompted policies through the state that was in the interest of workers I think that's a good think. Though I think ideas of what is in the interest of workers would necessarily diverge in the details of many issues when the conflict between workers and capitalists comes closer and then pushback would occur.
For all the nay-saying around how these considerations are just us being enslaved to capitalists capitalism has raised peoples living standards, even the living standards of the very poorest. I do think we as a society can do better by these people of course.
However from my point of view when you have a socialist economy and world system I could rewrite all these criticisms to fit it. Why must all our protections be made in the lens of preserving the power structures of the people in charge of the economy? Our highest aspiration should not be their kindness in the wages and support they give us, we should fight for our right to be free and not adherent to socialism's strict values.
The truth is we will never be free in some grand philosophical sense, we will always in some way or another be subservient to the economy, society, and political power structures. This is not a special feature of capitalism, it is an outcome of an immutable and rather unfriendly reality where we must struggle to survive and have been given no special regard by nature.
It isn't strictly in the lens of the ruling class, which is why I speak to making the distinction of when things diverge in who they serve rather than have it obscured by not emphasizing class relations.
Indeed, we're material beings and have limits of what is possible due to that, but one can change the limits and the limits of those don't have to be playing with the settings based on capitalist relations. The point here being that what you say sounds like it's trying to treat socialism and capitalism as the same due to certain limits of material existence. But I feel like this functions as a shield of capitalism by saying, well how is socialism any better, they have the same problems? But you're also speaking of how things can be different within capitalist relations through policy, but then don't you think socialism would have differences that are substantially in the interests of workers as opposed to capitalists. If they aren't so different, due to have similar material limitations, then you should be indifferent to socialism as worse or better over capitalism.
Though of course I'm aware that you have your reservations, of centralization, violence and so on.
But I would emphasize that changed power relations in society sounds pretty worthwhile. Something that even if just an ideal, is aspired to in socialist views and values rather than the normalization of workers being so severely subdued to the authority of their bosses.
But then might say why can't those power relations be expressed in a capitalist society like worker democracy and such, well the point would be that if one implemented certain changes, you've disrupted capitalist relations and changed something essential to it that it can no longer the same thing with a minor tweak but is qualitatively different. Workers are actively suppressed under capitalism for the function of capital, and a large interest of socialists is in regards to workers power.http://d-scholarship.pitt.edu/10867/1/VWills_ETD_2011.pdf
As an illustration, Marx describes how in the French Revolution, the rights which could aid workers, such as the right of association, were subordinated in practice to the right of bourgeois property:
During the very first storms of the revolution, the French bourgeoisie dared to take away from the workers the right of association but just acquired. By a decree of June 14, 1791, they declared all coalition of the workers as “an attempt against liberty and the declaration of the rights of man,” punishable by a fine of 500 livres, together with deprivation of the rights of an active citizen for one year. This law which, by means of State compulsion, confined the struggle between capital and labour within limits comfortable for capital, has outlived revolutions and changes of dynasties. Even the Reign of Terror left it untouched. It was but quite recently struck out of the Penal Code.
Nothing is more characteristic than the pretext for this bourgeois coup d’état. “Granting,” says Chapelier, the reporter of the Select Committee on this law, “that wages ought to be a little higher than they are, ... that they ought to be high enough for him that receives them, to be free from that state of absolute dependence due to the want of the necessaries of life, and which is almost that of slavery,” yet the workers must not be allowed to come to any understanding about their own interests, nor to act in common and thereby lessen their “absolute dependence, which is almost that of slavery;” because, forsooth, in doing this they injure “the freedom of their cidevant masters, the present entrepreneurs,” and because a coalition against the despotism of the quondam masters of the corporations is – guess what! – is a restoration of the corporations abolished by the French constitution. (Capital, MECW 35:730-731)
Bourgeois opposition to the attempts of workers to exert social control on production further reveals the practical contradiction between formal bourgeois freedom and the real freedom workers struggle for within capitalism, in struggles that necessarily point beyond capitalism for just this reason. While the capitalist defends “sacred” bourgeois freedom, he is at the same time also perfectly willing to defend the real unfreedom of the worker, the “complete subjection” of the laborer to capital.
And agreed, not free in the sense of not being empirical beings with real world needs. But how those needs are met and organized is inherently social and based in our relations.
Because the economic system and how well it produces goods is the constraint on everything else and all peoples maximum benefit in material terms. What good is a society that promises workers everything but prioritizes it over producing food?
It's all well and good to be concerned with the state of the working class, and a laudable goal to improve their conditions. But the power to improve them must ultimately come from material production. Cheaper food improves the conditions of the working class. More purchasing power improves the conditions of the working class. Ideological commitment to improving the conditions of the working class that requires an economic system that can't properly organize the economy to produce things does not help the conditions of the working class.
I don't think workers are promised everything, what workers can be promised would be in direct relation to their condition. But what's going on in my mind that production doesn't inherently translate to benefiting the working class. It's straight forward enough when food production helps food scarcity, this is a progressive side of capitalism. But my point is that the connection should be made explicit, as I get skeptical of the way in which the class conflict might be smoothed over by being abstract.
Because look at how general your quote was
Immigration is a valuable thing, from a practical standpoint, for a capitalist economy.
But I think you went into detail on what you thought were the benefits in an earlier post where you thought that immigration did depress real wages and such but in the long term it worked out due to purchase power and industrialization of agriculture and such. So you do give detail and I agree in the progressiveness of production of agriculture which does help meet human needs and push human necessity back.
Capitalism doesn't have a goal. It isn't a system deliberately set up to mechanistically meet some particular value like marxism. It's an emergent system which because of how it works benefits people who own capital goods but it doesn't do that because it was built to it does that because capital is an extremely important part of the operation of the system and the people who control it benefit from that happenstance.
For all your pressing this idea that economic growth being beneficial is a pure abstraction it is a concrete reality. We are as a society better off than we were a hundred years ago because the economy grew from what it was then. Economic growth is the name we give for the increasing production efficiency and capacity of the economy. More goods at lower prices is a concretely valuable thing for the working class. To dismiss this is as much to throw yourself into purely abstract considerations of class conditions as it would be for me to throw myself entirely into some abstract libertarian mindset.
Capitalism is an amoral system indeed, but I would specify that due to such social organization, certain values necessarily arise in conjunction with it. Capitalism didn't arise strictly out of some technological necessity, there were bourgeois revolutions and corresponding values to legitimize itself. Private property isn't enshrined by an amoral system, but by people who exist within such relations, a class that personifies the system most acutely as a ruling class. Capitalism doesn't have any motive because it's not an agent, but there exists a capitalist class that within the real world organization of capitalism are driven to pursue profit to irrational consequences.
I wouldn't consider economic growth as an abstraction, there is such a thing as real productive growth in things. But I do consider the way in which it's conceive is highly abstract, in that the capitalism makes very abstract sentiments very real. And we could be more concrete to what we mean benefits the working class, I mean, it certainly nice that I can buy a mass produced polo shirt from a store that was made by sweat shop labor from some woman in south east asia who is thoroughly subdued for the purposes of capital. And we could in spite of her exploitation speak to the progressive side of her exploitation, although I think a big part of it being progressive is that it serves to create the conditions that one can break away from such exploitation.
But I agree, it can be to the benefit of many people to have such ready access to material goods, but as that basic need is met, new needs become a priority and so on and so on.
And this is where what is good for the working class is of course relative to what is happening for workers and their conditions. But overall I agree in that I don't dismiss that it's good that someone can access food and I haven't got any things in mind to dig into the possible details of how such a tendency might intersect with other issues to complicate it if possible.
This is simply not true. Many countries in Africa and south east asia have seen tremendous economic growth that has benefited the US as well as them. Increasing efficiencies in the world economy are disruptive true, and they put people out of less efficient industries and small agrarian farms, but ultimately this is a good thing. For all that we should definitely push for things that help people get through that turmoil they and their children ultimately benefit from the higher availability of goods and services.
To reiterate an early point, for all you seem concerned that I'm blinding myself with abstractions you have taken the abstract conclusion of marxism that capitalism must always harm people in poorer countries and let that guide your beliefs when in reality our increasingly globalized economy has lifted millions of people out of dire poverty and continues to improve peoples conditions around the world.
Looking this up to check the numbers literally 1.1 billion people have been lifted out of dire poverty (>$2 a day income) since 1990. This is a real tangible improvement in the conditions of the worlds poorest people. Not an abstraction blinding me from the truth that capitalism only helps the people who own capital.
I think this is the case where you see a benefit but what I think of is that the benefit came at a great cost. For example, there are places where we pat ourselves son the back because we send money to countries but whilst it seems positive, its not put in conjunction of how we opened up their countries and take more wealth out of those countries than we're putting in. http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/2017/05/africa-poor-stealing-wealth-170524063731884.html https://solomonappiah.com/2015/01/05/thomas-pogge-who-is-responsible-for-global-poverty/
Governments of developed economies rhetorically promote development, send some overseas development aid (ODA) to poor countries and preach trade as a way to alleviate global poverty but at the same time implement international regulations which widen global inequality which leads to trans-generational poverty. While world leaders use the mass media as their mouth pieces to broadcast their presupposed benevolent intentions; the same media does not adequately capture the practical outcomes of such rhetoric and regulations—thus not exposing what lies behind the veil of such rhetoric.
The devil is in the details, the image of such benevolence is a ruse as far as I can tell.
This simply isn't going to happen. For all that american manufacturing jobs have gone down and we started this discussion with the particular case of unskilled immigrants the american economy produces goods that require extremely skilled labor. Our economy is geared to these high end goods and it's incredibly unlikely that you could reduce the wages of these skilled workers to be the same as unskilled people in other countries. The economy is far more complex than just looking at labor as if it's the same thing everywhere and completely interchangeable. The agricultural labor market is completely different than the labor market for engineers and cheaper agricultural labor will not hurt the wages of engineers.
Indeed, there are many high skilled jobs and its why the ford factory in my city closed down whilst they retained the research and development section. And I can see the point but not everyone is able to end up in such lines of work and my thought goes to how the third world isn't necessarily promoted in it's development in many cases but actively restrained to be the factory machine of the developed world. But I would have to look into that more of the ways in which they have their productive capacities developed but within certain limits, leading to an uneven economic development because it's not necessarily guided with enough national self interest.
mikema63 wrote:My view isn't a purely gradualist one but I can certainly see from what I've written so far that it would be a reasonable conclusion.
I do not so much believe that capitalism ending will be a gradual affair so much as it could be if we have that as a goal and work towards it while putting out policy that allows such a transition. Left on it's own to the devises of americas current broken political system will lead to a catastrophic failure which has no guarantee of bringing us anything I would want to see.
If it came down now the most motivated political forces will create alt-right hellholes in many places in the US for instance, there simply isn't a serious marxist group that would hold any sway even if I thought they were guaranteed to be successful.
Captialism, if I am right about how eventually goods will begin to be so efficiently produced that they can not be profitable could do many things upon that time. Artificially reduce supply which would reduce purchasing power and hurt people. Concentrate all power into a totalitarian situation. Outright collapse. etc.
I want to push a policy package that begins to pave the way for spreading purchasing power through NIT programs, taxing excess consumption (consumption beyond say $100,000 a year as an example) which would reduce luxury consumption and shift production towards creating more and cheaper necesary goods that everyone uses. Creating a system that would allow (in some far future date) for the control of those goods that become so efficiently produced as to be unprofitable to other systems of control and distribution. To fund the development of science and technological progress further. To change our power grid to something more sustainable in the long term. Advance globalization and global institutions to help manage an increasingly global economy. Etc. etc.
This isn't, in my mind, a purely gradualist just let it happen sort of program. It's a deliberate set of policies to make way for a particular end goal. It simply accepts capitalism as the vehicle it is towards the development of an ever more efficient globalized economy that will let us transition to the next stage of economic management system if we do it correctly. It could also all turn into hellish shit if we screw it up.
I do, as you say, have an aversion to radical conclusions, and a lot of that has to do with my personal attitudes and methodology for looking at the world and policy. When two programs would meet the same goal I take the less risky one, when those risk differences are large enough I will even take the policy that is less ideal in outcome. Revolution, is an extremely risky thing by nature, all evidence is that ideological revolutions often fall into the same sort of rigid idealism that the USSR did.
Hmm, my impression of revolutions is that they often entailed a dictatorship as power has to stabilize after such chaos and can't be straight forwardly a liberal democracy because there isn't yet an established hegemony. But I think there are many revolutions that served great ends, imperfect but did a great deal for their people when put in relation to what they came from for example. As such countries are often thought of in isolation based on certain ideals with little regard that they had to develop out of old conditions.
Though it is indeed risky, as its chaos turned into opportunity for someone.
When I say gradualism what I speculate is that you don't have a worldview that applies the sort of qualitative leap that comes from a built up tension.
So for example
(something I thought you might appreciate with your expressed interest in biology)
Gould's most significant contribution to evolutionary biology was the theory of punctuated equilibrium, which he developed with Niles Eldredge in 1972. The theory proposes that most evolution is characterized by long periods of evolutionary stability, which is infrequently punctuated by swift periods of branching evolution. The theory was contrasted against phyletic gradualism, the popular idea that evolutionary change is marked by a pattern of smooth and continuous change in the fossil record.
This same idea is thought applicable to other parts of reality, revolution would be the puncture, the build up being withheld by fetters for so long that the potential is forced into existence and leads to a significant qualitative difference. Emerging into a new form but not somehow independently of its previous things but emerged from it but still new.
I do not, per se, want a revolution without a revolution. I do not see capitalism as a thing that must be overcome but the most ideal system that is possible given the conditions of the world now which will eventually advance us to a point where it is no longer a useful tool. I see the next system as a conclusion of capitalism not a reaction against it. This is not revolutionary thinking.
The same way the conditions of feudalism led to the development for the beginning conditions of capitalism is not revolutionary. It's simply the progress of economic efficiency leading to new systems being possible and better than the last. Feudalism didn't fall because serfs got sick of it and invented capitalism, feudalism invented capitalism (or more correctly the conditions under which capitalism could exist).
Indeed, it set the conditions, and thats what socialism is thought to be for capitalism.
Which has certain conceptions of what it'd necessarily entail based on the essential parts of capitalism, which as I take it is it's relations which underpin the entire economic system. Which is why private property becomes such a focus for the commies, and talk about workers running production themselves.
And much like feudalism, I imagine the problems of capital will press upon people and have them explode. Tensions that are always there but can only be passified effectively with enough prosperity. I like to think of Obamacare as being the moderate reform thats opening up hell for the US because a lot of anger is pouring through at local senators and shit over it in some states. Capitalism emerged in conjunction between the real world conditions and peoples actions based within the tensions of those relations.
I am not offering a program of emancipation because I fully believe that in either system someone will have power over you. Whether it's organized by the capitalist who owns the factory you work in or the beuro or syndicate or whatever that runs it makes little difference. You are still benefited or not by their kindness and your life within it becomes just the values vs cost of having you labor within that system. In either case you, I, and everyone are held tightly within the political, social, and economic system that we live in.
The only progress I can offer is the progress of production increasingly making goods more available and life easier. For all we are slaves to the systems we live under at least capitalism can progress production to the point that overeating is a more serious problem in our societies than famine.
It is a point in the USSR's favor, in fact, that it was able to rapidly industrialize. That is something that would be important to me to see in a political system. However they failed to move from that initial industrialization to the more complex consumer economy that is necessary to develop production further, which is a point against it.
I guess i just find it an unsatisfactory conclusion even though I don't have the answer in that it does feel like it precludes the possibility of something. But then I guess I to have my own cynicism and don't foresee some socialist revolution in the US or something.
That's just unfair.
I'm a massive left winger on a lot of social issues. We should always strive to improve the conditions of justice within a society. It is where someone says that blowing the system up and trying to force a material and economic ideological system on reality that I balk. It isn't that I think they must "wait another day for justice" but that we can improve the conditions of justice of people within a system that we know wont fall into the brutal totalitarianism that we saw in the communist projects of the past. Perhaps now we have some idea of how to introduce true communism that will work and wont fall into these failings, and by all means it is your right to fight for it. But I will continue to support justice in ways that I think will actually work in reality just as you will.
Justice was not served by the terrible things that happened in the USSR, or other failed socialist regimes.
I gotta push buttons mike
But what if it was impossible to achieve certain outcomes within that system? This is where I often assert that people can't aspire for certain ends within the limits of capitalism or at best they may qualify their possibility in a restricted form. I see their brutality as an expression of their conditions and I think even after a completed revolution shits pretty messy just by the nature of power relations stabilizing. And when one over turns a previous power it's necessarily a despotic, and it would presumably be most despotic against the ruling class.
In such revolutions can see clear lines where many people were quite satisfied with changes in society, that it becomes like people outside appraising the country, the class and political divides show themselves.
But I won't shit on the point of improving things in peoples lives, I mean, I don't think racism will be eradicated under capitalism but it can certainly be improved upon although i tend to think a lot of things that would agitate for racial justice are classist in content. Similarly when working class women organize on something and assert their interests it might seem gendered but it'd be class based as they are working women and reflect issues based on that. eh, theres a strange relation between what sometimes seem like moderate reforms that really, require radical means. Quite often movements that seek to address one problem increasingly find themselves developing a larger political project because its not one single problem. But I am thinking of someone did something like pissed off the war on drugs policy and maybe some other punitive laws in the US, might go a long way to first steps on improving somethings. Which isn't revolution but wouldn't be insignificant to many lives. That sometimes people are dismissive of things that make a world of difference in the lives of some because they think from so large a perspective as to make that difference insignificant.
The point is certainly a legitimate, that's not IMO debatable. What is debatable is whether or not I'm correct. Which is why I have no intention of vanishing communists from the dialogue. I believe that I'm right but I do not know it.
Which is the worst of it that one can't make a comparison between the ultimate truth and ones thoughts. Best means is certainly through action as set out in pragmatism, though pragmatism has issues with its individualist sense of consciousness.
Then our disagreement is largely about what the existing conditions are, above and beyond whatever philosophical or value differences we might have.
The philosophical stuff can be a bit abstract but i do think it holds great relevance to how one thinks and thus the sense they give to the more practical tasks.
I'm not against violence and it's not necesarily the violence of the revolution that I would oppose. Though all else being equal I prefer non-violent approaches.
I certainly agree that less than savory things get done to support the current system. Our support for saudi arabia being a prime example of one that I dislike greatly but is generally necessary because so much of what we have now relies on secure oil supplies. (though I also maintain that in the case of oil communist countries would be pushed to the same dilemmas since oil is a vital resources whatever your economic system).
The legitimacy of violence is largely pragmatic for me. It is a necessary thing that I dislike and wherever there are other options I will go for those. But so much hinges on a secure oil supply that the devastation of an unsecured one outweighs the terrible things that we allow to go on. This purely utilitarian take on violence that I have is not one many would find palatable, but it is what it is.
eh, I see the legitimacy of violence not purely in it's function but in it's purpose. And it can be tempered by that purpose because inappropriate means can disrupt achieving one's ends, but of course we aren't necessarily that coldly calculated and detached. Would lose a humanist base to decision making if get too caught up in it I guess.
Violence is necessary for any political system at some level. Communism is by no means a non violence political system. Even ignoring the revolution it's clear that the communist project can lead to quite a lot of war and violence. The USSR was so good at it that it was an existential military threat to those same capitalist governments for whom you claim war is necessary.
Past that particular criticism, I simply disagree that war is fundamentally necessary to capitalism. The progress of capitalism has also been a progress of reduced wars. The global capitalist institutions of the post WW2 era have reduced the scope and number of wars drastically. Our economies are so tied together that even long time rivals like China and the US are afraid of actually going to war. For all the fear mongering over the south china sea neither side is interested in open conflict and I firmly believe the conflict will be solved by mutual negotiation between china and the other countries in the south china sea.
Indeed, and the world was made all the better for its bourgeoisie revolutions just as cascading socialist revolutions would presumably be an improvement to. Wasn't there someone who said one of the world wars wouldn't happen because of trade? I'm asserting that China and US are entering some massive war. But the idea that trade necessarily guarantees peace surely has qualified limits otherwise why is war happening at all in many places? This seems to treat trade as a win win and is too optimistic to my view in which war can often be incited due to economic interests, entire countries fucked up because some other country with bigger economy or bigger army wanted something. Though I guess in many of those cases it occurs particularly when someone doesn't want to play ball, trade or we'll fuck you up sort of deal. But should see that a lot of trade things aren't permanent and things change, allegiance are brittle to the circumstances and whilst trade helps foster some relations, it doesn't eradicate possible conflicts.
It's not, but in a unified global market their own interests are against the destabilization that war would bring in the global market. I am not positing that capitalists are more just than anyone else, they aren't. However to argue that the people with political power, or even the people in a direct democracy, would be any less prone to war is simply untrue. If the US was a direct democracy rather than a representative one with heavy interest representation of business and capital I hesitate to imagine what sort of nonsensical wars many Americans would decide to get into. Half the country seems to want to invade NK over a war of words, a literally disastrous scenario for everyone capitalist and worker alike.
Except I would point out that many agitations are often cultivated in conjunction to perceived political and economic interests at times. I mean, looking at the US, sure they;re not warring with China, but fuck me US been jumping into a lot of 'wars' through the years that its just normal for US politicians to talk about blowing the fuck out of countries and have people cheer. That which you denigrate of the populace felt need for war doesn't emerge from no where but is promoted as part of American identity, the whole ironic joking about spreading freedom with pictures of missiles and stuff. There's a self awareness to what a bastard the US government is, but not really in a personalized fashion where folks get to see the consequences as the US did with the televised images of the Vietnam war. But America of course doesn't go into war out of just reasons as you note. Though I guess you'd speculated how such conflict would not exist if socialism won out and the reasons would be based on ideas of how capitalist competition underpins the necessity of war.
The same could be said of communism. The USSR seemed hellbent on exporting the revolution through war when countries seemed unprepared to do it themselves. However I wouldn't claim that it is necessarily true that communism requires war, anymore than I think it's fair to overgeneralize and claim that capitalism does just because at times it has. Every political system that has ever existed seems to have required war at some point or another in order to defend itself and this is no less true of communism. However I do not think that makes war a specifically necessary thing that is required to be periodically practiced for the system to exist all else being equal.
Though we both acknowledge that it requires one across the world to be implemented.
Indeed, the USSR even whilst serving its own geopolitical interests at times was beneficial to some states that simply didn't want to bend over for the US or some other western power. I wouldn't frame it as defend itself as much as assert itself, attacking government in Latin america wasn't defensive, it was also because it undermined the assertion of capitalist interests from the US in those countries. One necessarily wishes to expand itself.
This isn't wrong, but this is as much a criticism of all states, societies, and political systems generally as it is of capitalism specifically. Communism required just as much enforcement, if not more draconian enforcement than you see in modern capitalist states.
One could argue that this was a matter of necessity for communist states against capitalist "elements" or whatever but that doesn't free them from having this same criticism applied to them.
It occurs to me that you may not be a communist per se but some other kind of non soviet type socialist so this criticism may not apply but it's hard for me to imagine what political system you might create that doesnt have enforcement structures within it.
Of course, and until one establishes a hegemony that crude force is applied in such unstable transitions. It's just that I don't put violence that maintains capitalist interests on par with violence of workers seeking to resist capitalism. In that i'm necessarily partisan on the matter as any sensible person should be. Less they play the absurd role like someone who wonders whether to condemn an abuser or their victim because they were both violent towards one another. Though of course everyone feels themselves the victim by their own standards of right and wrong often based in class.
I'm no expert in moral philosophy either. I generally see most moral statements as just statements about how people feel about things and they usually don't seem all that grounded in anything hard.
I disagree, in that I don't think morality is so superfluous and see morals have a very real world significance. That there are abstract things that are but reflections of the reality and relations within it.
It's not so much that I fear the pain of the revolution, it's that I'm not sure that the ideological belief in a certain economic system is possible to actually enact and I don't rate the success as high.
If I believed that via revolution there was a 100% of creating the beutific ideal that the communists claimed they could reach then I'd go for it. However real life examples show that the success rate is rather lower than that and the failed communism can be far worse IMO than the successful capitalism.
Well I guess I reject that in that i'm not after a beautiful ideal and im sure you can see thats an unreasonable standard that would only result in impotence because nothing has such a guarantee and if applied universally one would aspire for nothing because one is so attached to an abstract ideal over attempting to create it in an imperfect reality. Its a severe aversion to error where I probably, as risk averse as I am, would say that one might reject something because it has a 30% probability thinking of it purely of it in terms of probability. But losing sight that that 30% could be quite significant depending on how badly you wanted that thing, if that was your probability of surviving something, it suddenly doesn't seem as significant if it was probability for something didn't want. And I think the comparison with a 'successful' capitalism I worry is distant from what underpins such success, that I tend to think that those most harmed by it and suppressed don't really ponder, mm whats the chance but it becomes an increasing necessity to resist rather than something one ponders.
I'm all for being challenged in my ideological beliefs. It would be a shame to never be challenged and never actually get a chance to consider your own fundamental beliefs.
(also: finally done! Feel free to only adress relevant points and ignore others because if we keep exponentially responding to one another we are going to crash pofo's database at this rate.)
meh i didnt really give much as I rushed it, and alot of the time I think what I felt inside was, I see that you have a politically different view and just wanting to leave it at that but then driven to comment in some sense.
I don't think it turned out as fruitful as I thought in that i lost track of what ideas I wanted to get across. Although the ones about lenins debate with the machists and the wealth taken from Africa might be interesting in themselves.