Total Posts:9|Showing Posts:1-9
Jump to topic:

Paradox in Captialism

Beverlee
Posts: 721
Add as Friend
Challenge to a Debate
Send a Message
10/3/2013 2:34:59 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
The definition of "Capitalism" has what may be a paradox when the theory is compared to Communism.

Capitalism: an economic and political system in which a country's trade and industry are controlled by private owners for profit, rather than by the state.

Communism can be defined objectively, but is most often considered simply "what ever the Soviet Union did." I think a decent objective definition might be:

Communism: a social system in which all property is publicly owned and each person works and is paid according to their abilities and needs.

So, capitalism is a system where trade and industry are privately owned, and NOT owned by the state... and communism is a system where those things ARE owned by the state. We also understand that no system will be 100% communist or 100% capitalist.

The paradox: What happens when a capitalist system grows too strong, and overwhelms the state? When private industry controls the state, how can we say that these private industries have not replaced the old state with a new one?

It seems to me that this might be a paradox: that too strong of a CAPITALIST system would automatically create a COMMUNIST system, because the capitalists will be powerful enough to REPLACE the old governance system. This would blur the lines between what is PRIVATE and what is STATE... because the private entities would control the state, and therefore BE the state... and therefore, the people who run the government would own almost everything... and so communism.
AnDoctuir
Posts: 11,060
Add as Friend
Challenge to a Debate
Send a Message
10/3/2013 2:38:58 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
Indeed, we are but cogs in the machines of the rich. I'm thinking you're a bit pessimistic in thinking we'll never have a truly collectivist society, though.
wrichcirw
Posts: 11,196
Add as Friend
Challenge to a Debate
Send a Message
10/3/2013 2:51:00 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 10/3/2013 2:34:59 PM, Beverlee wrote:
The definition of "Capitalism" has what may be a paradox when the theory is compared to Communism.

Capitalism: an economic and political system in which a country's trade and industry are controlled by private owners for profit, rather than by the state.

Communism can be defined objectively, but is most often considered simply "what ever the Soviet Union did." I think a decent objective definition might be:

Communism: a social system in which all property is publicly owned and each person works and is paid according to their abilities and needs.

To my knowledge the underlined is incorrect. Each worker is "paid" according to their needs, but not their abilities. A doctor has the same needs as a construction worker (food, shelter, clothing) so they are both "paid" the same, although in reality there would be no "pay" because that would imply private ownership of money. They would just receive state handouts according to their needs.

So, capitalism is a system where trade and industry are privately owned, and NOT owned by the state... and communism is a system where those things ARE owned by the state. We also understand that no system will be 100% communist or 100% capitalist.

The paradox: What happens when a capitalist system grows too strong, and overwhelms the state? When private industry controls the state, how can we say that these private industries have not replaced the old state with a new one?

This is an interesting interpretation of Marx's transition from capitalism to communism. Marx is fully cognizant that capitalism is a contradiction for the very reasons you cited here. His solution is that the disenfranchised workers would rebel and destroy the capitalist oligarchy in order to free those assets and make them available for the masses.

You seem to think that such a rebellion would not be necessary. I think the main problem in your interpretation is that Marx advocated public ownership of property, not private ownership by a select few. The revolution would seek to ameliorate this concern.

For example, under your capitalist rule, the capitalists are under no obligation to give anything to the working class, as they do not own the property - the capitalists own the property. In a communist system, property is owned collectively, and administered by the state.

It seems to me that this might be a paradox: that too strong of a CAPITALIST system would automatically create a COMMUNIST system, because the capitalists will be powerful enough to REPLACE the old governance system. This would blur the lines between what is PRIVATE and what is STATE... because the private entities would control the state, and therefore BE the state... and therefore, the people who run the government would own almost everything... and so communism.

No, too strong of a capitalist state would create an extremely powerful institution that held property in its own name, not in the name of the proletariat.

Otherwise, you're essentially paraphasing Marx here in seeing a transition from capitalism to communism...Marx would have turned in his grave to see Russia become communist...he would have envisioned London becoming communist first.
At 8/9/2013 9:41:24 AM, wrichcirw wrote:
If you are civil with me, I will be civil to you. If you decide to bring unreasonable animosity to bear in a reasonable discussion, then what would you expect other than to get flustered?
Beverlee
Posts: 721
Add as Friend
Challenge to a Debate
Send a Message
10/3/2013 4:27:49 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 10/3/2013 2:51:00 PM, wrichcirw wrote:
At 10/3/2013 2:34:59 PM, Beverlee wrote:

Communism: a social system in which all property is publicly owned and each person works and is paid according to their abilities and needs.

To my knowledge the underlined is incorrect. Each worker is "paid" according to their needs, but not their abilities. A doctor has the same needs as a construction worker (food, shelter, clothing) so they are both "paid" the same, although in reality there would be no "pay" because that would imply private ownership of money. They would just receive state handouts according to their needs.


I found that definition here: https://www.google.com...

I only listed a portion. The whole thing read:

a political theory derived from Karl Marx, advocating class war and leading to a society in which all property is publicly owned and each person works and is paid according to their abilities and needs.

This definition would be laughed off the stage by people here. I think you are right, if you are saying that this definition is junk.
Beverlee
Posts: 721
Add as Friend
Challenge to a Debate
Send a Message
10/3/2013 4:35:43 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 10/3/2013 2:51:00 PM, wrichcirw wrote:
At 10/3/2013 2:34:59 PM, Beverlee wrote:
The definition of "Capitalism" has what may be a paradox when the theory is compared to Communism.

Capitalism: an economic and political system in which a country's trade and industry are controlled by private owners for profit, rather than by the state.

Communism can be defined objectively, but is most often considered simply "what ever the Soviet Union did." I think a decent objective definition might be:

Communism: a social system in which all property is publicly owned and each person works and is paid according to their abilities and needs.

To my knowledge the underlined is incorrect. Each worker is "paid" according to their needs, but not their abilities. A doctor has the same needs as a construction worker (food, shelter, clothing) so they are both "paid" the same, although in reality there would be no "pay" because that would imply private ownership of money. They would just receive state handouts according to their needs.

So, capitalism is a system where trade and industry are privately owned, and NOT owned by the state... and communism is a system where those things ARE owned by the state. We also understand that no system will be 100% communist or 100% capitalist.

The paradox: What happens when a capitalist system grows too strong, and overwhelms the state? When private industry controls the state, how can we say that these private industries have not replaced the old state with a new one?

This is an interesting interpretation of Marx's transition from capitalism to communism. Marx is fully cognizant that capitalism is a contradiction for the very reasons you cited here. His solution is that the disenfranchised workers would rebel and destroy the capitalist oligarchy in order to free those assets and make them available for the masses.

You seem to think that such a rebellion would not be necessary. I think the main problem in your interpretation is that Marx advocated public ownership of property, not private ownership by a select few. The revolution would seek to ameliorate this concern.

For example, under your capitalist rule, the capitalists are under no obligation to give anything to the working class, as they do not own the property - the capitalists own the property. In a communist system, property is owned collectively, and administered by the state.

It seems to me that this might be a paradox: that too strong of a CAPITALIST system would automatically create a COMMUNIST system, because the capitalists will be powerful enough to REPLACE the old governance system. This would blur the lines between what is PRIVATE and what is STATE... because the private entities would control the state, and therefore BE the state... and therefore, the people who run the government would own almost everything... and so communism.

No, too strong of a capitalist state would create an extremely powerful institution that held property in its own name, not in the name of the proletariat.

Otherwise, you're essentially paraphasing Marx here in seeing a transition from capitalism to communism...Marx would have turned in his grave to see Russia become communist...he would have envisioned London becoming communist first.

So do I understand that you think that the reason that me and Marx (lol) are wrong is because capitalists won't rule in the name of the workers? (I'm not always 100% sure what a proletariat is)

If so, then that is a catch-22 that sounds more like political party politics... sort of like saying that Republicans aren't capitalists because Democrats are. Since the definition that I put up wasn't very strong, I'm not sure if I agree with this or not. The former capitalists WONT call themselves communists, so you are right about that, at least. It still looks like a similar system, to me, though.
wrichcirw
Posts: 11,196
Add as Friend
Challenge to a Debate
Send a Message
10/3/2013 6:02:41 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 10/3/2013 4:27:49 PM, Beverlee wrote:
At 10/3/2013 2:51:00 PM, wrichcirw wrote:
At 10/3/2013 2:34:59 PM, Beverlee wrote:

Communism: a social system in which all property is publicly owned and each person works and is paid according to their abilities and needs.

To my knowledge the underlined is incorrect. Each worker is "paid" according to their needs, but not their abilities. A doctor has the same needs as a construction worker (food, shelter, clothing) so they are both "paid" the same, although in reality there would be no "pay" because that would imply private ownership of money. They would just receive state handouts according to their needs.


I found that definition here: https://www.google.com...

I only listed a portion. The whole thing read:

a political theory derived from Karl Marx, advocating class war and leading to a society in which all property is publicly owned and each person works and is paid according to their abilities and needs.

This definition would be laughed off the stage by people here. I think you are right, if you are saying that this definition is junk.

I've found that wikipedia is a great starting point. Granted, in a substantive debate you're probably going to be dinged for using it...still the links in there are great when it comes to further reading, and they usually have excellent quotations from relevant sources to substantiate whatever is in there. Wikipedia on communism:

Communism (from Latin communis " common, universal) is a revolutionary socialist movement to create a classless, moneyless,[1][2] and stateless social order structured upon common ownership of the means of production, as well as a social, political and economic ideology that aims at the establishment of this social order.
http://en.wikipedia.org...

So do I understand that you think that the reason that me and Marx (lol) are wrong is because capitalists won't rule in the name of the workers? (I'm not always 100% sure what a proletariat is)

If so, then that is a catch-22 that sounds more like political party politics... sort of like saying that Republicans aren't capitalists because Democrats are. Since the definition that I put up wasn't very strong, I'm not sure if I agree with this or not. The former capitalists WONT call themselves communists, so you are right about that, at least. It still looks like a similar system, to me, though.

Your vision and Marx's vision is similar, but Marx goes a step further. Marx fully sees the capitalist takeover you envision and your "paradox", but he does NOT call that "communism" - your paradox would be, to Marx, the end of the usefulness of capitalism to human history, but NOT the start of communism. The reason why he thinks this stage of capitalism is so detrimental to human development is because of how he describes the mechanics of capitalism, that while it enriches human society overall (especially the capitalist), it alienates the worker from the worker's labor (think of a clock maker whose job now consists of making only one specific gear in that clock), and any sort of benefit from the labor (cost marginalization), thereby marginalizing the worker until there's nothing left to marginalize. This vision is not specific to Marx...it is something you'll see in any business 101 class, that any business is run for profit, one key aspect of which is to marginalize costs...labor is almost always by far the largest cost to marginalize. This marginalized population of workers (proletariat = workers) would then rebel against the capitalists, which at this stage (i.e. your paradox) have become the undisputed rulers of society.

A somewhat shortened version of the above: Marx describes a historiography involving hunter-gatherers, evolving to what he calls "oriental despotism", then to monarchs, then capitalists - what you're describing as "communism" Marx would actually describe as the end of capitalism. The final step, according to Marx, would be a proletarian revolution to overthrow these capitalists, and replace the concept of private property with public ownership of all assets. Marx sees this as only being possible after a certain level of material wealth had been attained by capitalism.

As far as party politics and such are concerned, that all depends on your interpretation of current politics and such. As it stands, Marx's ideology is divorced from such considerations.

I find Marx to have been very good at describing capitalism, and his version of history is certainly interesting. A lot of modern scholars like Gramsci and Foucault owe a lot of their ideology to the fundamentals of Marxist thought. "Communist" politicians like Stalin and Mao, however, did not really follow anything close to resembling Marx's version of communism though...they mainly used it as a basis to extend power (permanent revolution) and as an ideological basis to demonize the Western bourgeois, thereby establishing the "righteousness" of their own rule.
At 8/9/2013 9:41:24 AM, wrichcirw wrote:
If you are civil with me, I will be civil to you. If you decide to bring unreasonable animosity to bear in a reasonable discussion, then what would you expect other than to get flustered?
wrichcirw
Posts: 11,196
Add as Friend
Challenge to a Debate
Send a Message
10/3/2013 6:04:44 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
Anyway, the only reason I can talk about this is because I went to Berkeley, amicably called by many of its residents as the People's Republic of Berzerkely. =)

Any class dealing with sociological issues like economics, psychology, even basics like history and philosophy, were inundated with Marxist ideology. I'm not a fan necessarily, nor would I say that I'm well-steeped in the ideology, but I am familiar with a good bit of it.
At 8/9/2013 9:41:24 AM, wrichcirw wrote:
If you are civil with me, I will be civil to you. If you decide to bring unreasonable animosity to bear in a reasonable discussion, then what would you expect other than to get flustered?
Beverlee
Posts: 721
Add as Friend
Challenge to a Debate
Send a Message
10/3/2013 7:04:11 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 10/3/2013 6:04:44 PM, wrichcirw wrote:
Anyway, the only reason I can talk about this is because I went to Berkeley, amicably called by many of its residents as the People's Republic of Berzerkely. =)

Any class dealing with sociological issues like economics, psychology, even basics like history and philosophy, were inundated with Marxist ideology. I'm not a fan necessarily, nor would I say that I'm well-steeped in the ideology, but I am familiar with a good bit of it.

Cool!

So what I'm hearing is that Marx felt that Capitalism would end when the working classes revolted - and instituted a society that was stateless? Essentially, the capitalist super-elite would just rule the state until it was a powerless figurehead.... and that would make removing them from power impossible because they were never elected in the first place, right? So instead of elections, they would violently rebel. I get that.

My deal was that we were talking about how the USSR was a "state capitalist" system today - where the state marginalized the workers instead of private industry. I thought: That sounds familiar, I bet that sounds a lot like what is going on here in the US. The problem is that everyone thinks that capitalism means that ONLY private industry can exist, and I'm not sure that it does. There stops being any difference between government and private industry when Private Industry controls the state.

If we JUST focus on that statement: There isn't any difference between the state and private industry if these private powers control the state. Is that something that you would agree with?
wrichcirw
Posts: 11,196
Add as Friend
Challenge to a Debate
Send a Message
10/3/2013 7:43:40 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 10/3/2013 7:04:11 PM, Beverlee wrote:
At 10/3/2013 6:04:44 PM, wrichcirw wrote:
Anyway, the only reason I can talk about this is because I went to Berkeley, amicably called by many of its residents as the People's Republic of Berzerkely. =)

Any class dealing with sociological issues like economics, psychology, even basics like history and philosophy, were inundated with Marxist ideology. I'm not a fan necessarily, nor would I say that I'm well-steeped in the ideology, but I am familiar with a good bit of it.

Cool!

So what I'm hearing is that Marx felt that Capitalism would end when the working classes revolted - and instituted a society that was stateless?

Yes.

Essentially, the capitalist super-elite would just rule the state until it was a powerless figurehead.... and that would make removing them from power impossible because they were never elected in the first place, right? So instead of elections, they would violently rebel. I get that.

Yes...not sure if he said that part about "powerless figurehead" but I actually think you're very much on the ball with that assertion. IMHO what you are describing is Wall Street and "the market". My own theory is that they are the "new Senate", and that Washington DC is somewhat anachronistic.

My deal was that we were talking about how the USSR was a "state capitalist" system today - where the state marginalized the workers instead of private industry. I thought: That sounds familiar, I bet that sounds a lot like what is going on here in the US. The problem is that everyone thinks that capitalism means that ONLY private industry can exist, and I'm not sure that it does. There stops being any difference between government and private industry when Private Industry controls the state.

Fascism was to my knowledge state-controlled capitalism, so there's some precedence for this concept of "state capitalist" societies. I would say that currently the US is still very much largely private, and that the nationalization that took place in 2008-2009 is very, very small compared to most countries of the world, developed or developing.

If we JUST focus on that statement: There isn't any difference between the state and private industry if these private powers control the state. Is that something that you would agree with?

Yes. The idea is that at this point, anyone that is not "private industry" would be left out of the governing process. They would literally have nothing better to do than to rebel or die trying.

I think we can do better than to reach this eventuality, without having to entertain Marx's communist utopian vision. I think private property is still very important in determining development and advancement in human civilization, and to do away with the concept would be detrimental to human development. Rather, I see the need for some sort of basic welfare system in addition to private property, a socialist system if you will, but much, much more basic than what we have today.

My rationality of this is that, following Marx's own historiography, we STILL have hunter-gatherers today (I think of Wall Street as carnivorous), still have despots today (corporations), still have monarchs today (customer is king), and will still have capitalists in the future.
At 8/9/2013 9:41:24 AM, wrichcirw wrote:
If you are civil with me, I will be civil to you. If you decide to bring unreasonable animosity to bear in a reasonable discussion, then what would you expect other than to get flustered?