Marxism/Socialism/Communism

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Sedition1917
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Marxism/Socialism/Communism

Postby Sedition1917 » Mon Aug 18, 2008 9:26 am UTC

Hi, new to the boards but been a fan of xkcd for a long time. Just looking through I can see this subject has been touched on before, but I'd just like to attack it head on.

I'm always interested with why intelligent people disagree with Marx and his theory of Capitalism and the progression of society toward Socialism and then Communism.

I am a socialist myself (Trotskyist) and would be interested to hear some theories beyond the usual "human nature!" and "look at Russia/Cuba/China/North Korea!" arguments.

Thanks.

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Re: Marxism/Socialism/Communism

Postby the_stabbage » Mon Aug 18, 2008 10:52 am UTC

I don't think a command economy works most of the time. Sure, it's pretty decent for military, health care, etc. but I don't think it would work well in agriculture and so on.

I'm also skeptical about the possibility of having everyone on an equal social standing. Society works pretty well with people under and people above.

Also, communist/socialist belief in the concept of History as progress from one type of society, and inevitable progress at that, just seems to me a little far fetched and quasi-religious. The whole belief that there will inevitably be a socialist revolution because of capitalism's flaws hasn't really held up to what actually happened. Marx just doesn't work any more.

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Re: Marxism/Socialism/Communism

Postby Sedition1917 » Mon Aug 18, 2008 11:30 am UTC

Thanks for your reply.

Why don't you think a planned economy works for agriculture etc?

As for everyone having equal social standing, all that would mean would be that people would not be able to make their money off the back of another's labour. People would be paid differently, have different, more important jobs, be better as some things than others. The harder you worked the more you would earn.

As for the history thing, Marx didn't see this progression in history in purely fatalistic terms, he did not believe there will be a "Final Crisis of Capitalism" or that Capitalism will spontaneously fall to Socialism. Otherwise, there would be no need for Marx or any future revolutionaries to voice these ideas.

Marx saw society as a history of struggle between classes that have completely counterposing interests. Today, we can see this in the fact that for the Capitalist class to make more profit, the workers will have to be losing out in some way - lower wages, longer working day, less rights at work, higher prices of commodities etc.

Therefore there is constantly a struggle. Add to this the fact that Capitalism is an incredibly unstable system which periodically faces massive crises (look at the economic situation today) the brunt of which inevitably gets shovelled onto the shoulders of the working class.

We can see that the working class periodically fights back against these attacks and this goes through varying degrees of strength. And with the right leadership, instead of reformists and trade-union bureaucrats, the working class could indeed take power.

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Re: Marxism/Socialism/Communism

Postby Delmieth » Mon Aug 18, 2008 1:07 pm UTC

As for everyone having equal social standing, all that would mean would be that people would not be able to make their money off the back of another's labour. People would be paid differently, have different, more important jobs, be better as some things than others. The harder you worked the more you would earn.


You make an interesting point...

How do you propose this would occur? As in the government would assign different jobs based on personal ability?
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Re: Marxism/Socialism/Communism

Postby Gunfingers » Mon Aug 18, 2008 1:18 pm UTC

I'll start by saying that even if collectivism could be proven beyond doubt to be "better" than the free market i'd still be against it (or at least against its implementation here in the states) because liberties are more important to me than a "better" economy.

Now that i've got that disclaimer out of the way:

Capitalism creates a system where conflict means more for everyone. Conflict between corporations, conflict between employees, conflict everywhere, and they all lead to efficiencies and innovation. These conflicts exist and yet the "lower wages, longer working day, less rights at work, higher prices of commodities" that you predict don't happen. Back in the early 20th century before unions (which are basically little pockets of marxism anyway) came to be Marx might have had a point. Today, however, farmers, electricians, and construction workers all probably make more money than i do (i know the electrician that put in my lights last month did) working in software as a low level supervisor.

Of course, my opinion could be a little skewed as i am the son of a small business owner. I empathize more with the entrepreneur than the "worker" because of that.

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Re: Marxism/Socialism/Communism

Postby Tulevik » Mon Aug 18, 2008 1:53 pm UTC

Sedition1917 wrote: Add to this the fact that Capitalism is an incredibly unstable system which periodically faces massive crises (look at the economic situation today)

This would be true for any type of economy. The laws of Supply and Demand still hold weight whether the system is capitalist or not. If demand for any product rises, people will be willing to pay more for it than before. Were the government to actually set prices, an artificially low price for the sake of making products more affordable will lead to massive shortages should any force, be it internal or external, affect the market.

My largest complaints regarding communism deal with the fact that as a fairly bright, hardworking individual, I won't be rewarded as nearly as much under a socialist system as I would under a more open, capitalist system. From the first complaint, comes another - if I won't be rewarded as well, my motivation will decrease and I'll be less tempted to pursue innovation. Creativity will slowly start to stagnate, and in the coming decades, I wouldn't be surprised to see more free-market societies starting to pass me by.

Also, just a question to get a better understanding of how communism actually works, once a communist government is elected, how hard is it to replace it? Is it simply the matter of voting it away in the next election?

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Re: Marxism/Socialism/Communism

Postby Sedition1917 » Mon Aug 18, 2008 2:00 pm UTC

You make an interesting point...

How do you propose this would occur? As in the government would assign different jobs based on personal ability?


Well the "government" under Socialism is not the top-down, bureaucratic dictatorship of Stalinism or Maoism. It is delegates and representatives, elected by councils of workers, in every town, workplace, whatever, who are immediately recallable and accountable for their actions. Coupled with the complete open books and publication of everything the representatives do, this holds the best possible form of true, workable democracy.

Therefore, in some senses it is pointless saying "This is how this will happen, that is how that will be run" because at the end of the day it will depend upon how the majority decides. But as for that particular question, I would think there would still be interviews etc, held by a selection of workers from a workplace, who would then decide if someone was capable for the job or not. But if a job, like a programmer, required a degree of education more than say, a games tester, then the programmer would be paid more, beacuse the value of their labour power had more value worked up inside of it.

I'll start by saying that even if collectivism could be proven beyond doubt to be "better" than the free market i'd still be against it (or at least against its implementation here in the states) because liberties are more important to me than a "better" economy


What kind of liberties are you talking about though? The liberty to start a business, employ people and make a profit? Yes, you would lose that liberty. But then by enacting that liberty, you are taking away the freedom of the people you employ to earn the full fruits of their labour - because after all, they are the ones generating a profit for you.

Capitalism creates a system where conflict means more for everyone


Three billion people, half the world's population, live on less than two dollars a day! I'm not sure how you see that meaning more for everyone?

Also, there are numerous studies that show the rich are getting consistently richer, whilst the poor are becoming worse off.

Conflict between corporations, conflict between employees, conflict everywhere, and they all lead to efficiencies and innovations.


Capitalism is a progressive stage in history, there is no doubt about that. It revolutionsied production and has made astounding leaps forward.

However, it has now reached a stage where the class structure that it struggles to maintain is caging in and holding back the true power of the forces of production. For example, there is enough food to feed everyone in the world. But every year hundreds of thousands of tonnes get dumped into the sea, or burned because it would not be profitable to fly them to the people who need them.

If, rather than having 100 different brands of almost identical washing powder, you simply made a selection of the best ones and made them affordable to everyone, imagine how much more efficient that would be. How much productive force would it free up to do other things?

If you had all the best scientists in the world working together on a cure for cancer, sharing research notes, properly funded etc, how much quicker do you think we could come up with cures for diseases?

Plus this idea of "competition" under Capitalism just doesn't make sense. Take the transport system here in Britain for example. Once the buses were privatised, the idea that "competition" would make them better was shown to be ridiculous. You never have competing bus companies running the same routes. They can be as late, as irregular and as expensive as they like. If you have to get to work, you don't have a choice!

Also, monopolies obviously destroy this point. And I don't think you'll deny that monopolies are becoming increasingly more prevalent and powerful.

These conflicts exist and yet the "lower wages, longer working day, less rights at work, higher prices of commodities" that you predict don't happen.


At times of crises they most certainly do! Look at Britain today - public sector workers having they pay increases cut, even though they have been below inflation for many years and have hence been pay cuts. that's one example but the same is happening all over the US and many other countries where a recession is starting to kick in. The real rate of inflation, according to the grocer, is 18.5% - even John Major, ex-conservative Prime Minister has admitted it is double figures. The cost of some food has shot up by 110%. People are being laid off with increasing speed.

When economic crisis bites, it is the working class who pay.

Back in the early 20th century before unions (which are basically little pockets of marxism anyway)


God, if only! Unions aren't really Marxist are they? How many unions are there going around calling for the overthrow of the government, the smashing of the state and the introduction of a democratically planned economy? Very few so far! :wink:

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Re: Marxism/Socialism/Communism

Postby qbg » Mon Aug 18, 2008 2:01 pm UTC

Sedition1917 wrote:I am a socialist myself (Trotskyist) and would be interested to hear some theories beyond the usual "human nature!" and "look at Russia/Cuba/China/North Korea!" arguments.

There are the various anarchist objections. For example, trying to get rid of capitalism without also getting rid of the state won't work too well considering that the state and capitalism helped to create each other. A decentralized economy will work better than a centralized one as their would be (much) less bureaucracy to go through. Etc.

Quickly:
Tulevik wrote:
Sedition1917 wrote:Also, just a question to get a better understanding of how communism actually works, once a communist government is elected, how hard is it to replace it? Is it simply the matter of voting it away in the next election?

You DO NOT elect a communist government.

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Re: Marxism/Socialism/Communism

Postby Tulevik » Mon Aug 18, 2008 2:11 pm UTC

qbg wrote:
Tulevik wrote:Also, just a question to get a better understanding of how communism actually works, once a communist government is elected, how hard is it to replace it? Is it simply the matter of voting it away in the next election?

You DO NOT elect a communist government.


Figures. So if one's in place, the only way to really get rid of it is either ANOTHER revolution, or an endless series of reforms, aka Perestroika.

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Re: Marxism/Socialism/Communism

Postby qbg » Mon Aug 18, 2008 2:17 pm UTC

Gunfingers wrote:I'll start by saying that even if collectivism could be proven beyond doubt to be "better" than the free market i'd still be against it (or at least against its implementation here in the states) because liberties are more important to me than a "better" economy.

What is this about a lack of liberty? You can't have (classic) slaves here today anyways...
Capitalism creates a system where conflict means more for everyone. Conflict between corporations, conflict between employees, conflict everywhere, and they all lead to efficiencies and innovation.

With conflict between corporations, the conflict tends to be solved by eliminating the conflict, tending to oligopoly. In the conflict between employer and employee, efficiency and innovation can be/is sacrificed for keeping the power with the owners.
These conflicts exist and yet the "lower wages, longer working day, less rights at work, higher prices of commodities" that you predict don't happen. Back in the early 20th century before unions (which are basically little pockets of marxism anyway) came to be Marx might have had a point. Today, however, farmers, electricians, and construction workers all probably make more money than i do (i know the electrician that put in my lights last month did) working in software as a low level supervisor.

Unions have helped, but you can go farther than that. When workers don't want their wages to be lowered, the price of the commodities/services becomes inflated causing a de facto wage cut. There are employers that wish their employees work longer than the 40 hour week. There are employers that try hard to make their employees not unionize, etc.
Of course, my opinion could be a little skewed as i am the son of a small business owner. I empathize more with the entrepreneur than the "worker" because of that.

Socialism would help to turn more workers back into artisans...

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Re: Marxism/Socialism/Communism

Postby Sedition1917 » Mon Aug 18, 2008 2:18 pm UTC

My largest complaints regarding communism deal with the fact that as a fairly bright, hardworking individual, I won't be rewarded as nearly as much under a socialist system as I would under a more open, capitalist system. From the first complaint, comes another - if I won't be rewarded as well, my motivation will decrease and I'll be less tempted to pursue innovation. Creativity will slowly start to stagnate, and in the coming decades, I wouldn't be surprised to see more free-market societies starting to pass me by.

Also, just a question to get a better understanding of how communism actually works, once a communist government is elected, how hard is it to replace it? Is it simply the matter of voting it away in the next election?


I think I answered those in the long post above, posted before I read yours. Please feel free to ask again if I wasn't clear enough.

This would be true for any type of economy. The laws of Supply and Demand still hold weight whether the system is capitalist or not. If demand for any product rises, people will be willing to pay more for it than before. Were the government to actually set prices, an artificially low price for the sake of making products more affordable will lead to massive shortages should any force, be it internal or external, affect the market


But the government does not simply set the prices arbitrarily. Same as how it is not set arbitrarily now. Most commodities are sold at their value. Currently, the worker is just not paid for the full amount of labour power they put into the commodity. They have added value to it, but not been paid for that full value.

Under Socialism a worker would be paid for exactly how much value they put into the commodity, based on the cost of labour power, which is in turn based upon the cost of living (not merely surviving, taking into account social and historical standards). I am at work at the moment so can't really go into it deeply, but Marx's Value, Price and Profit is an excellent work for explaining the nature of exploitation under Capitalism.


There are the various anarchist objections. For example, trying to get rid of capitalism without also getting rid of the state won't work too well considering that the state and capitalism helped to create each other.


I quite agree, but generally it is anarchists who argue that you don't need to get rid of the state, you can just become "autonomous".

Marxists quite definitely believe in smashing the state apparatus, but recognise that the state is a tool, a body of armed men (the judiciary, the prisons, the army, the police) who protect the interests of the ruling class. Therefore, under socialism there still will be a state, as it will be the working class in power and protecting itself against the counter-revolutionary attempts of the Borgeouisie. But once there no longer is a borgeouisie, as they have become members of the working class, there is no class structure any more and so no need for a "state". This is what marx talks about as "The state withers away". There will still be organisations and "Government" of course but it will be administrative, not based upon protection of capital.

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Re: Marxism/Socialism/Communism

Postby qbg » Mon Aug 18, 2008 2:22 pm UTC

Tulevik wrote:My largest complaints regarding communism deal with the fact that as a fairly bright, hardworking individual, I won't be rewarded as nearly as much under a socialist system as I would under a more open, capitalist system. From the first complaint, comes another - if I won't be rewarded as well, my motivation will decrease and I'll be less tempted to pursue innovation. Creativity will slowly start to stagnate, and in the coming decades, I wouldn't be surprised to see more free-market societies starting to pass me by.

Actually, socialism could/would open up more doorways for creativity. By working harder you can finish your work sooner rather than create more work for yourself. In a worker run firm, you could get more of a chance to implement any creative ideas you have that would help you with your job. The working day could become shorter leaving more time for you to explore your interests (if you are unable to fully do so at your work).

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Re: Marxism/Socialism/Communism

Postby Sedition1917 » Mon Aug 18, 2008 2:22 pm UTC

You DO NOT elect a communist government.

Figures. So if one's in place, the only way to really get rid of it is either ANOTHER revolution, or an endless series of reforms, aka Perestroika


Sorry, you most definitely do elect a communist government. In the most democratic way! Not one vote every 5 or so years, between two remarkably similar candidates.

Like I said above:

Well the "government" under Socialism is not the top-down, bureaucratic dictatorship of Stalinism or Maoism. It is delegates and representatives, elected by councils of workers, in every town, workplace, whatever, who are immediately recallable and accountable for their actions. Coupled with the complete open books and publication of everything the representatives do, this holds the best possible form of true, workable democracy

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Re: Marxism/Socialism/Communism

Postby Sedition1917 » Mon Aug 18, 2008 2:25 pm UTC

Creativity will slowly start to stagnate, and in the coming decades, I wouldn't be surprised to see more free-market societies starting to pass me


Just a quick point, as I think most of it has been answered, but Socialism in one country most definitely does not work. I agree with trotsky's theory of permanent revolution and internationalism.

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Re: Marxism/Socialism/Communism

Postby Gunfingers » Mon Aug 18, 2008 3:01 pm UTC

So you can attack capitalism because non-capitalist countries are poor (your remark about people living on 2 dollars a day), but it's okay that marxism doesn't help people outside of its own borders? Worldwide capitalism would benefit those poor people in third world countries too. That's why i give to Kiva.

On an unrelated note: any open society is supposed to involve a transparent and accountable government. I doubt the realistic application would be any better than the ones associated with a free market economy.


Edit: i meant to answer this, too.
What kind of liberties are you talking about though? The liberty to start a business, employ people and make a profit? Yes, you would lose that liberty. But then by enacting that liberty, you are taking away the freedom of the people you employ to earn the full fruits of their labour - because after all, they are the ones generating a profit for you.

It's a little disingenuous to say laborers "earn the profit for" the entrepreneur. If you don't think a manager/owner adds any value to a product then you don't understand the intricacies of leadership and management. And that's not even getting into the concept of ownership.

Besides that, yes, that is one of the liberties i'm talking about (no one is forcing them to work for me. They could be entrepreneurs too). Included in that is the ability to acheive financial independence and not have to work at all, or the ability to work as a lone contractor (not employing anyone) or, hell, to start my own little commune like hippies do sometimes.

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Re: Marxism/Socialism/Communism

Postby qbg » Mon Aug 18, 2008 3:26 pm UTC

Sedition1917 wrote:Sorry, you most definitely do elect a communist government. In the most democratic way! Not one vote every 5 or so years, between two remarkably similar candidates.

Trying to implement socialism by voting a communist party into power doesn't work too well. There have numerous radicals that once elected to office become more conservative than the people they replaced.
Marxists quite definitely believe in smashing the state apparatus, but recognise that the state is a tool, a body of armed men (the judiciary, the prisons, the army, the police) who protect the interests of the ruling class. Therefore, under socialism there still will be a state, as it will be the working class in power and protecting itself against the counter-revolutionary attempts of the Borgeouisie.

And how the workers gain control of the state? The concern is that you would be replacing one set of unequal power relationships for another set of unequal power relationships. It becomes dangerously close to state capitalism if not state capitalism itself.

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Re: Marxism/Socialism/Communism

Postby Elvish Pillager » Mon Aug 18, 2008 3:31 pm UTC

Marx was definitely right that capitalism ultimately doesn't work. That's why no countries try to use pure capitalism anymore. The question of whether modified-capitalism can work out in the long run is a much more complicated one.

Some of you might be interested in anarcho-syndicalism. Social change cannot come from the top.
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Re: Marxism/Socialism/Communism

Postby qbg » Mon Aug 18, 2008 3:41 pm UTC

Gunfingers wrote:
What kind of liberties are you talking about though? The liberty to start a business, employ people and make a profit? Yes, you would lose that liberty. But then by enacting that liberty, you are taking away the freedom of the people you employ to earn the full fruits of their labour - because after all, they are the ones generating a profit for you.

It's a little disingenuous to say laborers "earn the profit for" the entrepreneur. If you don't think a manager/owner adds any value to a product then you don't understand the intricacies of leadership and management. And that's not even getting into the concept of ownership.

Why can't the workers own and manage the business themselves? The ownership issue also leads to the property is theft area.
Besides that, yes, that is one of the liberties i'm talking about (no one is forcing them to work for me. They could be entrepreneurs too).

It isn't that they are forced to work for you, it is that (the majority of them) they have to work for someone else. The proletariat class is the class of people who own nothing but themselves; that can make it hard to become an entrepreneur, not to mention that if they tried they would face the same force that drove so many of the artisans into the factories, their inability to compete with what the factory can produce, not to mention they would would be essentially locked out of the industries that require a high degree of capital to operate. Also, considering how the capitalist system depends on the presence of workers, a capitalist society where everyone is a business owner isn't realistic.

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Re: Marxism/Socialism/Communism

Postby Yakk » Mon Aug 18, 2008 3:49 pm UTC

Sedition1917 wrote:Well the "government" under Socialism is not the top-down, bureaucratic dictatorship of Stalinism or Maoism. It is delegates and representatives, elected by councils of workers, in every town, workplace, whatever, who are immediately recallable and accountable for their actions. Coupled with the complete open books and publication of everything the representatives do, this holds the best possible form of true, workable democracy.

The dictatorship of my neighbors? Oh god, that would be horrible.

Therefore, in some senses it is pointless saying "This is how this will happen, that is how that will be run" because at the end of the day it will depend upon how the majority decides. But as for that particular question, I would think there would still be interviews etc, held by a selection of workers from a workplace, who would then decide if someone was capable for the job or not. But if a job, like a programmer, required a degree of education more than say, a games tester, then the programmer would be paid more, beacuse the value of their labour power had more value worked up inside of it.

So if it takes 30 years to be a grand-master under-water behind-the-back basket weaver, you'd be paid a huge amount of money for basket weaving -- while if it takes only 3 years of training to become a grand-master surgeon, during which you save a life every hour you work... The basket weaver gets paid more?

Or if there is one person on the planet who has the talent to do X, and X is really crucial, but it is really easy to learn for that one person -- then that person should be paid very little for doing X?

Once you start factoring in "how important is it to get this task done" and "how hard is it to find people who to this task" ... don't you end up with the market theory of value?

What kind of liberties are you talking about though? The liberty to start a business, employ people and make a profit? Yes, you would lose that liberty. But then by enacting that liberty, you are taking away the freedom of the people you employ to earn the full fruits of their labour - because after all, they are the ones generating a profit for you.

So here is the situation. You have a high-density urban area. There is a parcel of land.

It can be used for parking, it can be used to build a house, it can be used to build a business, or it can be used as a park.

If it is used for parking, some kind of rationing system is required. As it happens, there is a surplus of unskilled labor, so it might be a good idea to have a parking attendant that tracks who should and who shouldn't use the land.

Similarly, there is a shortage of housing in the area. And there is a shortage of business space in the area. And people already living in the area would love to have a park.

Which is the best choice for that parcel of land?

Under the market-price capitalist theory, the answer is simple. The person or being who owns the land looks at the alternatives. If there is a high demand for parking, housing or business space in the area, they will be able to charge more for it. Factoring into that are the costs -- if there is cheap low-skill labor to be a parking attendant, how cheap is construction materials for housing or business, the variability in the expected future market for each, etc etc.

On the other hand, the city might be offering money for park land (note: collectivism here!), as the citizens in the area want more parks. So another option would be to sell it to the city for whatever the city is offering (or can be persuaded to offer).

All of this requires lots of complex information processing about the costs of construction goods, construction labor, maintenance labor and goods, predicting the future, local demand, etc etc. Solving these problems is ridiculously hard -- but, in this case, the owner has a huge incentive to attempt to solve the problem "right".

And, if that individual screws up and solves it "wrong", that individual gets punished, and eventually goes out of business (remember: money itself has an opportunity cost).

Now let's back up. That parking attendant who is rationing out the parking spaces. How much should that parking attendant get paid? How should the parking spaces be rationed out? Does the rationing system have a robust topology? Does it admit exceptions, allowing an individual to override it in the short term?

Three billion people, half the world's population, live on less than two dollars a day! I'm not sure how you see that meaning more for everyone?

Check that number 20 years ago. Notice how it changed.

Examine the areas where most of the absolute poverty in the world was eliminated most recently. Was that massive elimination correlated with something like "opening up of free market activity"? Just wondering.

Also, there are numerous studies that show the rich are getting consistently richer, whilst the poor are becoming worse off.

Cite 3 that you hold to be extremely strong and reliable, so much so that if you found that any 1 of the three had a fundamental flaw or was otherwise a crappy study, you'd be convinced that maybe your position was wrong.

Capitalism is a progressive stage in history, there is no doubt about that. It revolutionsied production and has made astounding leaps forward.

However, it has now reached a stage where the class structure that it struggles to maintain is caging in and holding back the true power of the forces of production. For example, there is enough food to feed everyone in the world. But every year hundreds of thousands of tonnes get dumped into the sea, or burned because it would not be profitable to fly them to the people who need them.

The cost of transporting food should be ignored? Be careful -- you are advocating a system in which the cost of turning wheat into bread was ignored, and led to pigs being fed bread.

Also be aware that feeding everyone in the world, without producing a society that prevents massive population increase, just results in more hungry people. The food production of Africa/India was massively increased -- however, the population grew as fast or faster than the food production went up.

If, rather than having 100 different brands of almost identical washing powder, you simply made a selection of the best ones and made them affordable to everyone, imagine how much more efficient that would be. How much productive force would it free up to do other things?

I'm glad you figured out how to determine which brand of washing powder was the best one. Care to share this source of objective truth?

Figuring out which washing powder is the best, how to make it better, how it should be distributed, what it should be made from, etc etc -- these are hard problems. And preventing inefficiencies from leaking in is also extremely hard.

With multiple sources, each person can choose freely which powder they want. If they don't like scent, prefer lemon, prefer "fresh air" scent, want low phosphate, high phosphate, a box with a metal spigot, a washing liquid with a cap that acts as a measuring device, a washing liquid with a spigot, one with no dyes, one with dyes, one that has additives to reduce the scratching of glass...

And that's a ridiculously simple, small chunk of the economy.

How much research should be put into making the washing substances better? What should be researched?
If you had all the best scientists in the world working together on a cure for cancer, sharing research notes, properly funded etc, how much quicker do you think we could come up with cures for diseases?

Have you looked at the academic research paper mechanism? Do you actually understand academic promotion systems?

*boggle*

At times of crises they most certainly do! Look at Britain today - public sector workers having they pay increases cut, even though they have been below inflation for many years and have hence been pay cuts. that's one example but the same is happening all over the US and many other countries where a recession is starting to kick in. The real rate of inflation, according to the grocer, is 18.5% - even John Major, ex-conservative Prime Minister has admitted it is double figures. The cost of some food has shot up by 110%. People are being laid off with increasing speed.

And my stocks are losing value quite sharply too.

The cost of food is going way up because more people are becoming richer. Huge chunks of the world population are raising themselves out of absolute poverty (100s of millions in the last decade in China alone), and this is increasing demand for raw materials, including oil and other sources of energy.

...

I don't believe in Marxist prophesy because it reads like that -- prophesy. It is a somewhat convincing screed, not something to be taken as a serious prediction. What is more is that it seems to be treated as a religious text, not as an interesting observation that a body of theory was built on that produced concrete predictions that both worked out, and disagreed with competing bodies of works predictions, and avoided producing predictions that didn't work out.
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Re: Marxism/Socialism/Communism

Postby Indon » Mon Aug 18, 2008 5:04 pm UTC

Elvish Pillager wrote:Marx was definitely right that capitalism ultimately doesn't work. That's why no countries try to use pure capitalism anymore. The question of whether modified-capitalism can work out in the long run is a much more complicated one.


I agree here.

Personally, I think Marx made a bold guess which fell short with the development of postindustrialization. Marx thought that industrial economies would reach a kind of critical mass (between unskilled, exploited labor and investor/owners) after which revolution would be the only possible result - the idea of a society built upon highly skilled labor, necessitating a much stronger middle class which blurs the lines between the value-adding labor producer and the value-generating investment owner, is simply something he missed, and this fact obsoletes much of his economic theory.

Now, his sociological work isn't so bad, and the conflict theory is interesting for when you want an alternate take on something, but it isn't something I'd use as a staple of sociological study.
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Re: Marxism/Socialism/Communism

Postby Jahoclave » Mon Aug 18, 2008 6:26 pm UTC

Yakk wrote:
Therefore, in some senses it is pointless saying "This is how this will happen, that is how that will be run" because at the end of the day it will depend upon how the majority decides. But as for that particular question, I would think there would still be interviews etc, held by a selection of workers from a workplace, who would then decide if someone was capable for the job or not. But if a job, like a programmer, required a degree of education more than say, a games tester, then the programmer would be paid more, beacuse the value of their labour power had more value worked up inside of it.

So if it takes 30 years to be a grand-master under-water behind-the-back basket weaver, you'd be paid a huge amount of money for basket weaving -- while if it takes only 3 years of training to become a grand-master surgeon, during which you save a life every hour you work... The basket weaver gets paid more?

Or if there is one person on the planet who has the talent to do X, and X is really crucial, but it is really easy to learn for that one person -- then that person should be paid very little for doing X?

Once you start factoring in "how important is it to get this task done" and "how hard is it to find people who to this task" ... don't you end up with the market theory of value?

That is quite possibly one of the most disingenuous examples I've seen. The surgeon is going to be paid more because there actually is a demand for the surgeon versus weaving a basket underwater. The point is that person with talent X is paid Y and not Y-(Cut For Employer). If persons talents are producing Y then they deserved to be paid Y. Or are you disagreeing with that?

And if you look at Marx's viewpoints on historical development you're not really getting a complete break from Capitalism. It's not some sort of radically new form of an economy. Just like Capitalism still contains forms of feudalism repackaged. You're still subject to demand and supply issues.

I also don't think that Marx's work is some how invalidated by the rise of the middle class or investment. All it requires is a bit of altering, which is something that is capable of being done considering that the way investing works is similar to his model of a company.

The idea of radical revolution of the proletariat has pretty much been dropped out of modern Marxism as well.

Yakk: How is the dictatorship of your neighbors any different from our current republic system other than more elections and less time with recall petitions (and the openness)?

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Re: Marxism/Socialism/Communism

Postby Yakk » Mon Aug 18, 2008 6:52 pm UTC

Jahoclave wrote:
Yakk wrote:
beacuse the value of their labour power had more value worked up inside of it.

So if it takes 30 years to be a grand-master under-water behind-the-back basket weaver, you'd be paid a huge amount of money for basket weaving -- while if it takes only 3 years of training to become a grand-master surgeon, during which you save a life every hour you work... The basket weaver gets paid more?
[...]
Once you start factoring in "how important is it to get this task done" and "how hard is it to find people who to this task" ... don't you end up with the market theory of value?

That is quite possibly one of the most disingenuous examples I've seen. The surgeon is going to be paid more because there actually is a demand for the surgeon versus weaving a basket underwater. The point is that person with talent X is paid Y and not Y-(Cut For Employer). If persons talents are producing Y then they deserved to be paid Y. Or are you disagreeing with that?

So they are using the market theory of value, not the labor theory of value? But that isn't what was described in the post I quoted.

They said explicitly that people got more money because the training was harder. In case you didn't notice, under the market theory of value, the difficulty of learning how to do something has nothing directly to do with how much you get paid for it...

I mean:
But if a job, like a programmer, required a degree of education more than say, a games tester, then the programmer would be paid more, beacuse the value of their labour power had more value worked up inside of it.

Read the quote I was responding to. "The value of their labour had more value worked up inside it". This has nothing to do with how useful the labour is -- just how much "value" it had "worked up" inside of it, because it took more "education" (I don't know in what units...)

If you allow people to trade freely, in labor and in goods, you end up with free market capitalism, not Marxist communism. What I'm trying to figure out is where are you proposing that people be not allowed to trade freely in goods and in labour?

...

This relates to the problem of "how much is something worth". This is not an easy problem, and I see _nothing_ in any of the above Marxist posts that describe how to solve this huge, difficult problem with anything other than hand-waving. You can pretend it is easy -- but if you do, I will call "bullshit" on you.

The entire point of the free market and capitalism is to generate these prices using a large, distributed mechanism that allows each individual to input their opinion on the margin. So yes, if you had a magic method that actually calculated the worth and price of everything, then the costs of free markets and capitalism sure look less worthwhile -- but that is like saying "food is worthless, because if you solved hunger, it would be a waste of so much effort!"

...

How do you determine the value of a manager? Are people allowed to decide "I can live on less, and I have an interesting project I want to work on with some of the resources society wanted to give me"? Are people allowed to bargain and trade the resources they have allocated to them, if they decide "I prefer chocolate cake, and I was assigned strawberry cake"? (Or, I was assigned X consumption per year, when I want to consume less, and have more later on)?

Can I swap a beer for a friend's help building a tree house? Can I offer to give someone 10 loaves of bread in exchange for the other person building me a rocking horse? Can I sell rocking horses that I own to other people, in exchange for goods and services?

Yakk: How is the dictatorship of your neighbors any different from our current republic system other than more elections and less time with recall petitions (and the openness)?


Yes. Because the far-away government is heavily restricted in what it allows itself to do (for example, I can take my surplus resources, come up with a neat trick that people are willing to pay me for, and generate more resources to have more fun with), it doesn't know me so I can slip through it's cracks.

I do not want to have even more of my well being determined by how well I schmooze and make good political arguments.
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Re: Marxism/Socialism/Communism

Postby Elvish Pillager » Mon Aug 18, 2008 7:17 pm UTC

Yakk wrote:This relates to the problem of "how much is something worth". This is not an easy problem,

I propose not solving this "problem". I also reject our cultural obsession with trying to give people what they "deserve" (which seems to be what you're getting at with that basket-weaver example.)

I'd elaborate, but I don't know what need you think there is for either of these things.
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Re: Marxism/Socialism/Communism

Postby Jahoclave » Mon Aug 18, 2008 7:26 pm UTC

Yakk wrote:
Jahoclave wrote:
Yakk wrote:
beacuse the value of their labour power had more value worked up inside of it.

So if it takes 30 years to be a grand-master under-water behind-the-back basket weaver, you'd be paid a huge amount of money for basket weaving -- while if it takes only 3 years of training to become a grand-master surgeon, during which you save a life every hour you work... The basket weaver gets paid more?
[...]
Once you start factoring in "how important is it to get this task done" and "how hard is it to find people who to this task" ... don't you end up with the market theory of value?

That is quite possibly one of the most disingenuous examples I've seen. The surgeon is going to be paid more because there actually is a demand for the surgeon versus weaving a basket underwater. The point is that person with talent X is paid Y and not Y-(Cut For Employer). If persons talents are producing Y then they deserved to be paid Y. Or are you disagreeing with that?

So they are using the market theory of value, not the labor theory of value? But that isn't what was described in the post I quoted.

And how valuable is your labor if the product of the labor is something nobody needs? You can build as many widgets as you want but if nobody needs a widget you're not going to make a dime. Think of it as the market value of labor.

They said explicitly that people got more money because the training was harder. In case you didn't notice, under the market theory of value, the difficulty of learning how to do something has nothing directly to do with how much you get paid for it...
So you're saying that engineers and rocket scientists get paid a lot simply because of what now? It couldn't be because there aren't as many of them because it's more difficult to learn and thus we have a smaller supply? Yes, in market theory the difficulty of learning is a factor.

I mean:
But if a job, like a programmer, required a degree of education more than say, a games tester, then the programmer would be paid more, beacuse the value of their labour power had more value worked up inside of it.

Read the quote I was responding to. "The value of their labour had more value worked up inside it". This has nothing to do with how useful the labour is -- just how much "value" it had "worked up" inside of it, because it took more "education" (I don't know in what units...)

If you allow people to trade freely, in labor and in goods, you end up with free market capitalism, not Marxist communism. What I'm trying to figure out is where are you proposing that people be not allowed to trade freely in goods and in labour?

Who said I was arguing for Marxist communism? They're not the same thing.

This relates to the problem of "how much is something worth". This is not an easy problem, and I see _nothing_ in any of the above Marxist posts that describe how to solve this huge, difficult problem with anything other than hand-waving. You can pretend it is easy -- but if you do, I will call "bullshit" on you.

Did I say it was easy?

The entire point of the free market and capitalism is to generate these prices using a large, distributed mechanism that allows each individual to input their opinion on the margin. So yes, if you had a magic method that actually calculated the worth and price of everything, then the costs of free markets and capitalism sure look less worthwhile -- but that is like saying "food is worthless, because if you solved hunger, it would be a waste of so much effort!"

Additional bolding mine. Separate "free market" and "capitalism" and you see how easy it is to do the above in Marxism. You don't have to completely negate the free market. Most economic systems had a free market. It isn't just a property of capitalism.


How do you determine the value of a manager?

Well, part of the problem in determining that is determining how the company is set up. Is it based on sharing the profits equally or on a scale value. Or do you have base salaries and share the profits afterwards. In a sense it comes down to how much people are willing to pay for a quality level of management.

Are people allowed to decide "I can live on less, and I have an interesting project I want to work on with some of the resources society wanted to give me"? Are people allowed to bargain and trade the resources they have allocated to them, if they decide "I prefer chocolate cake, and I was assigned strawberry cake"? (Or, I was assigned X consumption per year, when I want to consume less, and have more later on)?

Can I swap a beer for a friend's help building a tree house? Can I offer to give someone 10 loaves of bread in exchange for the other person building me a rocking horse? Can I sell rocking horses that I own to other people, in exchange for goods and services?

Yes. I do have a problem with your assigning of resources though. Think of it this way. Instead of EXXON owns said land. The employees of EXXON own said land collectively and have decided upon how to have said land developed. Be that by a direct vote or the hiring of mangers accountable to the rest of the group.

I'd also point out that I have additional thoughts on such things as food and housing and fundamental rights, but they're kind of outside the scope of this arguement.

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Re: Marxism/Socialism/Communism

Postby Indon » Mon Aug 18, 2008 7:27 pm UTC

Gunfingers wrote:It's a little disingenuous to say laborers "earn the profit for" the entrepreneur. If you don't think a manager/owner adds any value to a product then you don't understand the intricacies of leadership and management. And that's not even getting into the concept of ownership.

I guess I do see the point of this bit of Marxism, since it's something I've ranted about before.

Basically, the theory is that Management is considered a service, and deserves compensation. Ownership is not.

Any actual work performed by owners could, theoretically, be separated from ownership. In many cases (especially in large organizations) they are - innovation and management are performed by individuals who are paid only for the work they perform, which would be considered a fair compensation.

The problem is, of course, reliably separating ownership from those functions, which is not something that is particularly feasible, at least for our present economy (and any economy in the foreseeable future).

Gunfingers wrote:Besides that, yes, that is one of the liberties i'm talking about (no one is forcing them to work for me. They could be entrepreneurs too). Included in that is the ability to acheive financial independence and not have to work at all, or the ability to work as a lone contractor (not employing anyone) or, hell, to start my own little commune like hippies do sometimes.


In a theoretical scenario in which ownership is separated from services, then you could have all of those same freedoms, perhaps even the freedom to make some money without doing any work - and ideally, you could have all of these things open to everyone more equally than when ownership is rewarded as if it were a service.
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Re: Marxism/Socialism/Communism

Postby Sedition1917 » Mon Aug 18, 2008 8:46 pm UTC

So you can attack capitalism because non-capitalist countries are poor (your remark about people living on 2 dollars a day), but it's okay that marxism doesn't help people outside of its own borders? Worldwide capitalism would benefit those poor people in third world countries too. That's why i give to Kiva.


We live in the age of globalisation. Are you seriously saying those countries are poor through no fault but their own? What about British Imperialism in Africa, India etc. What about the poor countries which are now semi-colonies, with the majority of their industry controlled by Multi-nationals, stripping the country of the money which could be going right back into it, if that industry were nationalised.

Iraq is an example of when they have to do it by force. When the Iraqis supposedly were allowed to “democratically” decide their own constitution, the coalition forced them to include a point which said that 100% of all Iraqi industry must be open for bidding by multi-national companies.

It's a little disingenuous to say laborers "earn the profit for" the entrepreneur. If you don't think a manager/owner adds any value to a product then you don't understand the intricacies of leadership and management. And that's not even getting into the concept of ownership.


Manager is different to owner. If it is a small business, where the owner also worked, that is different again. But the main problem is the big business, the corporations, the boards of directors and CEOs, the finance capitalists.

I can’t explain Marx’s Theory of Surplus Value in full here but briefly:

The capitalist pays for the concrete capital – the machinery, the building, the raw materials – and the variable capital – the worker, by paying him/her a wage.

The worker then turns that raw material into a commodity. The value of the raw material is worked up in that commodity, as is part of the value of the machinery and the building (as a fraction of how many commodities can be produced using them in their lifetime).

Now if the worker were being paid at the full price of their labour power, the price of that labour power would be added to the above and the commodity would cost that final amount. However, then there would be no profit.

But rather than just tacking on an arbitrary amount to create a profit, the capitalist sells the commodity at its true value. He/She just does not pay the worker for all the value they have added to it.

Read Value, Price and Profit for a fuller explanation.

Besides that, yes, that is one of the liberties i'm talking about (no one is forcing them to work for me. They could be entrepreneurs too). Included in that is the ability to acheive financial independence and not have to work at all, or the ability to work as a lone contractor (not employing anyone) or, hell, to start my own little commune like hippies do sometimes.


Well they couldn’t all be entrepreneurs could they, otherwise who would they make their money from? By necessity the entrepreneurs have to be in minority and the workers in the vast majority.

Maybe you could be one of the few to get the American Dream but what about the billions that don’t?

Trying to implement socialism by voting a communist party into power doesn't work too well. There have numerous radicals that once elected to office become more conservative than the people they replaced.


Maybe I didn’t make that clear. I am a revolutionary, not a reformist. I don’t believe we can ever reach Socialism through voting people into power.

I meant in a Socialist and a Communist society there would be the utmost democracy in deciding who represents you.

And how the workers gain control of the state? The concern is that you would be replacing one set of unequal power relationships for another set of unequal power relationships. It becomes dangerously close to state capitalism if not state capitalism itself.


That is completely not true. Can I assume you are an anarchist?

The “unequal set of power relations” is of course completely true. The majority would be in power and for a short time would have to suppress the minority, who would be trying to restore their rule and the subjugation of the working class. This can be seen time and time again as what would happen, in Russia in the Civil War, in Chile with Allended etc etc. So unless the working class is ready to defend it’s gains, to stop the Capitalist class taking back power, Capitalism will come back.

The class interests of the Bourgeoisie and the working class are completely counter-posed and cannot be reconciled. All that have tried have failed – see this happening to Chavez at the moment.

Marx was definitely right that capitalism ultimately doesn't work. That's why no countries try to use pure capitalism anymore. The question of whether modified-capitalism can work out in the long run is a much more complicated one.


Marx didn’t think so. He was quite clear that the crises of capitalism could not be “fixed”. Look at the tendency of the rate of profit to decline for one. Though there are many counter-veiling tendencies, none of them can stop it or cancel it out.

The dictatorship of my neighbors? Oh god, that would be horrible.


Not really what I said but…. Not a fan of democracy then? What system would you implement?

So if it takes 30 years to be a grand-master under-water behind-the-back basket weaver, you'd be paid a huge amount of money for basket weaving -- while if it takes only 3 years of training to become a grand-master surgeon, during which you save a life every hour you work... The basket weaver gets paid more?


You can do that if you want. But who is supposed to be paying you here? If you are working by yourself then you can have whatever you can make from it. But if you are working in an under-water behind-the-back basket-weaving factory (assuming one exists…) then you get whatever value you add. Simple.

Or if there is one person on the planet who has the talent to do X, and X is really crucial, but it is really easy to learn for that one person -- then that person should be paid very little for doing X?


No, it would be based on the average socially necessary labour time to create that commodity – in this case knowledge or education.

Same reason why someone being deliberately slow or lazy wouldn’t get paid more because it takes them longer to make something.

Once you start factoring in "how important is it to get this task done" and "how hard is it to find people who to this task" ... don't you end up with the market theory of value?


You end up with Marx’s labour theory of value. The exploitation by the capitalist class has just been removed and workers gain the full fruits of their labour.

…Which is the best choice for that parcel of land? Under the market-price capitalist theory, the answer is simple. The person or being who owns the land looks at the alternatives. If there is a high demand for parking, housing or business space in the area, they will be able to charge more for it. Factoring into that are the costs -- if there is cheap low-skill labor to be a parking attendant, how cheap is construction materials for housing or business, the variability in the expected future market for each, etc etc.

On the other hand, the city might be offering money for park land (note: collectivism here!), as the citizens in the area want more parks. So another option would be to sell it to the city for whatever the city is offering (or can be persuaded to offer).

All of this requires lots of complex information processing about the costs of construction goods, construction labor, maintenance labor and goods, predicting the future, local demand, etc etc. Solving these problems is ridiculously hard -- but, in this case, the owner has a huge incentive to attempt to solve the problem "right".


No… the owner has a huge incentive to solve the problem profitably. There might be a demand for cheap council housing but that wouldn’t turn as big a profit as luxury apartments. So the luxury apartments get built. Which is why there is a massive shortage - in Britain at least, not sure about US what with more cheap land etc – of affordable housing and a massive excess of luxury apartments.

In socialism, probably the people who lived in the area, whose lives it had a direct affect on would decide, or their local representative. And if he or she started making decisions people didn’t like, recall them and hold them accountable!

Examine the areas where most of the absolute poverty in the world was eliminated most recently. Was that massive elimination correlated with something like "opening up of free market activity"? Just wondering.


Is it eliminated!? Or is it these people now have slightly better paid jobs?


Cite 3 that you hold to be extremely strong and reliable, so much so that if you found that any 1 of the three had a fundamental flaw or was otherwise a crappy study, you'd be convinced that maybe your position was wrong.


http://www.mlive.com/business/index.ssf ... ng_ri.html

http://taraqee.wordpress.com/2008/02/12 ... -ppp-data/

http://www.jrf.org.uk/knowledge/finding ... prsum3.asp

http://www.globalissues.org/article/26/ ... -and-stats

The last one, point number two, coming from the Human Development report 2007 by the UN –

“More than 80 percent of the world’s population lives in countries where income differentials are widening”

The cost of transporting food should be ignored? Be careful -- you are advocating a system in which the cost of turning wheat into bread was ignored, and led to pigs being fed bread.


Did I say that? No, I said that something being necessary and something being profitable are two different things. The NHS runs as a service, it is not supposed to turn a profit. Services don’t need to make money. Feeding people should be a service, not a business.

Also be aware that feeding everyone in the world, without producing a society that prevents massive population increase, just results in more hungry people. The food production of Africa/India was massively increased -- however, the population grew as fast or faster than the food production went up.
[/quote][/quote]

Mental. So you are advocating starving parts of the world’s population because otherwise they’ll produce more kids and want more food? Greedy fucking Africans eh?

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Re: Marxism/Socialism/Communism

Postby Yakk » Mon Aug 18, 2008 9:17 pm UTC

Elvish Pillager wrote:I propose not solving this "problem". I also reject our cultural obsession with trying to give people what they "deserve" (which seems to be what you're getting at with that basket-weaver example.)


Actually, it was a direct attack on "X was trained more, so gets paid more".

The "value" problem goes far far beyond salaries.

As a trivial, toy example: do you feed Pigs with Wheat or Soy? Without something resembling prices and the "cost" of producing each, this is an insanely hard problem. You have to understand the entire transportation infrastructure, ecological impact, impact of changing which one, etc etc.

Price ends up being a measure of the marginal trade-off that you should make between consuming X and consuming Y.

A classic example of Prices done wrong is when, in Russia, the price of Bread ended up being lower than the price of the Wheat needed to make the bread, so pig-farmers where buying Bread to feed their pigs -- which effectively wasted all of the economic effort put into turning the wheat into bread, as pigs didn't mind eating wheat at all.

Jahoclave wrote:And how valuable is your labor if the product of the labor is something nobody needs? You can build as many widgets as you want but if nobody needs a widget you're not going to make a dime. Think of it as the market value of labor.

Except, of course, that you ignore the value of every other input. If person A can make cool toys, but requires 100 square km of land to do it, while person B can do it in his back yard -- both have the same "price"?

Or do you invent a value for the 100 square km of land out of thin air, and then subtract that off of what person A's labor produces, to work out how much it is "worth"?

I see amazingly complex, tricky problems that are being utterly ignored.

So you're saying that engineers and rocket scientists get paid a lot simply because of what now? It couldn't be because there aren't as many of them because it's more difficult to learn and thus we have a smaller supply? Yes, in market theory the difficulty of learning is a factor.

But it doesn't determine the value. It is really hard to become a semi-pro baseball player, yet you get payed shit-all. It is really hard to become the 10th fastest swimmer in the world, but you get paid shit-all.

Additional bolding mine. Separate "free market" and "capitalism" and you see how easy it is to do the above in Marxism. You don't have to completely negate the free market. Most economic systems had a free market. It isn't just a property of capitalism.


So you want it to be illegal to ... what?

Defer consumption of resources or rewards allocated to you?

Trade your goods for other goods, and sell what you trade for for yet more goods?

Defer your consumption of resources in order to attempt to generate more productivity in someone else, and make a deal for a cut of the increased production?

Well, part of the problem in determining that is determining how the company is set up. Is it based on sharing the profits equally or on a scale value. Or do you have base salaries and share the profits afterwards. In a sense it comes down to how much people are willing to pay for a quality level of management.

In market capitalism, the company is set up to maximize the profits for the owners, which means maximizing the worth of the inputs while minimizing the costs of the inputs. How one goes about doing this is, well, random and up to the people who want to attract investment from individuals who want to not-consume resources allocated to them and instead invest it in increasing the production of other people, and getting a share of the resulting increased production.

Under what set of goals would the success of the marxist company be measured? To whom would it justify it's use of resources that could otherwise be consumed on their projects? What happens if the decisions are wrong or wasteful? What happens if they succeed beyond the expected amount? How is it determined which individuals work at on which projects?

Are people allowed to decide "I can live on less, and I have an interesting project I want to work on with some of the resources society wanted to give me"? Are people allowed to bargain and trade the resources they have allocated to them, if they decide "I prefer chocolate cake, and I was assigned strawberry cake"? (Or, I was assigned X consumption per year, when I want to consume less, and have more later on)?

Can I swap a beer for a friend's help building a tree house? Can I offer to give someone 10 loaves of bread in exchange for the other person building me a rocking horse? Can I sell rocking horses that I own to other people, in exchange for goods and services?

Yes. I do have a problem with your assigning of resources though. Think of it this way. Instead of EXXON owns said land. The employees of EXXON own said land collectively and have decided upon how to have said land developed. Be that by a direct vote or the hiring of mangers accountable to the rest of the group.

Did I mention EXXON? I could have sworn I didn't mention EXXON.

I mentioned bottles of beer. I asked explicit, concrete questions, which you responded with by naming a particular company that I wasn't asking about.

I'll repeat my questions:
Are people allowed to decide "I can live on less, and I have an interesting project I want to work on with some of the resources society wanted to give me"?

Are people allowed to bargain and trade the resources they have allocated to them, if they decide "I prefer chocolate cake, and I was assigned strawberry cake"?

(Or, I was assigned X consumption per year, when I want to consume less, and have more later on)?

Can I swap a beer for a friend's help building a tree house?

Can I offer to give someone 10 loaves of bread in exchange for the other person building me a rocking horse?

Can I sell rocking horses that I own to other people, in exchange for goods and services?

Which of the above should be illegal? None of them? Naively, you seem to want to make investment in other people's productivity that generates a return on said investment illegal. I'm asking you, explicitly, which of the above steps should be illegal.

Sedition1917 wrote:Not really what I said but…. Not a fan of democracy then? What system would you implement?


I want my democracy to be as abstract, hand-off, and far away from me and mine as it can reasonably be. I don't want it to be fiddling around with the details of my life.

Small scale democracy ends up dealing with small scale problems. I'd rather democracy have large, abstract problems to deal with, so it can never identify me as a particular individual.

You can do that if you want. But who is supposed to be paying you here? If you are working by yourself then you can have whatever you can make from it. But if you are working in an under-water behind-the-back basket-weaving factory (assuming one exists…) then you get whatever value you add. Simple.

So you disagree with the person I was disagreeing with, who said a computer programmer should get paid more because the computer programmers training was harder, and mentioned no other reasons.

Glad we agree.

You end up with Marx’s labour theory of value. The exploitation by the capitalist class has just been removed and workers gain the full fruits of their labour.

That requires a perfect pricing of all non-labor inputs. How do you do this perfect pricing again? I missed that chapter.

No… the owner has a huge incentive to solve the problem profitably. There might be a demand for cheap council housing but that wouldn’t turn as big a profit as luxury apartments. So the luxury apartments get built. Which is why there is a massive shortage - in Britain at least, not sure about US what with more cheap land etc – of affordable housing and a massive excess of luxury apartments.

Then the government can simply make an offer for cheap council housing? Once the price of that is high enough, it will be cheaper than luxury apartments.

You do know what luxury apartments do, right? They provide incentives for people to make decisions that generate surplus value. If you remove all luxuries as being "unworthy", you end up with people who are generating "enough" surplus value deciding "naw, I won't work any harder -- I have enough".

In socialism, probably the people who lived in the area, whose lives it had a direct affect on would decide, or their local representative. And if he or she started making decisions people didn’t like, recall them and hold them accountable!


Once again, generating a popularity contest that impacts my life at a high-detail level. Instead of being able to make deals with individuals, I'm forced to play politics.

Is it eliminated!? Or is it these people now have slightly better paid jobs?


The absolute poverty of < 2$ per day living (the traditional cut-off is, btw, about 1$ to 1.50$), is eliminated. And yes, these people have better paying jobs.

http://www.mlive.com/business/index.ssf ... ng_ri.html

This study ignores the difference between inflation on low and high end goods -- aka, the wal-mart effect -- in which over the period studied the rate of inflation on low end goods was lower than on high end goods. Ignoring this market split results in ... a miscalculation of the amount of change in wealth that the poorest 20% of households actually experienced.

As such, the conclusion of the study has a fundamental flaw. As I requested you to generate studies that you had so much confidence in that if I managed to find a single fundamental flaw, that you'd be convinved that your position was wrong, if I manage to substantiate the above claim, will you indeed decide your position is wrong?

Just curious. I want to see if you agree with the stakes before I go find some citations.

Mental. So you are advocating starving parts of the world’s population because otherwise they’ll produce more kids and want more food? Greedy fucking Africans eh?


No. I'm advocating spending effort increasing their infrastructure and economy so they can stand on their own two feet, rather than just shipping in huge amounts of food aid. I quite strongly suspect that generating a healthy economy will be a far far far far far far far more efficient way to prevent starvation and hardship than simply shipping food in.

Then again, I'm not presuming I have infinite resources to solve this kind of problem.
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Re: Marxism/Socialism/Communism

Postby DougP » Mon Aug 18, 2008 9:42 pm UTC

A key point that has been briefly mentioned in this thread is that communism (in my opinion, though the occasional authoritarian communists are still around here and there) has to be democratic, or else its just plain old authoritarianism. That is to say, that a key argument in many (most?) modern communists is that communism implies a democratic economy, which is to say democratically controlled factories/businesses, etc.

Coming from the United States where people beat their chests quite regularly in favor of "democracy" politically, we are a culture which is amazingly at odds with the idea of a democratically controlled economy. People want to have the ability to control others economically, and at the same time participate in a system where they are politically equal. A communist would argue (in my opinion) that you can not be politically equal unless you are also economically equal, and that the two are actually tied together such that you can not be "equal" in terms of just one or the other, but you are either equal or unequal in both.

People argue that competition is absolutely necessary for an economy. Why is, then, not important politically? People are willing to accept that they have to have some give and take in terms of the government, that cooperation is ultimately the best solution. However, suggesting that cooperation should be the basis for the economic system gets you branded as a "pinko" or whatever derogatory term people might use. I'd suggest that I know that I personally get a hell of a lot more accomplished when I am working WITH people, rather than AGAINST (in competition), with them.

Political authoritarianism is largely derided by most of the world as being a bad system, and I think that given that line of thought, its probably only a matter of time (how much time, who knows), before people apply that logic to economics as well.

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Re: Marxism/Socialism/Communism

Postby qbg » Mon Aug 18, 2008 10:16 pm UTC

Sedition1917 wrote:
Trying to implement socialism by voting a communist party into power doesn't work too well. There have numerous radicals that once elected to office become more conservative than the people they replaced.

Maybe I didn’t make that clear. I am a revolutionary, not a reformist. I don’t believe we can ever reach Socialism through voting people into power.

I meant in a Socialist and a Communist society there would be the utmost democracy in deciding who represents you.

Okay; my "you DO NOT elect a communist government" was WRT implementing socialism.
And how the workers gain control of the state? The concern is that you would be replacing one set of unequal power relationships for another set of unequal power relationships. It becomes dangerously close to state capitalism if not state capitalism itself.

That is completely not true. Can I assume you are an anarchist?

Yes, that is my influence.
The “unequal set of power relations” is of course completely true. The majority would be in power and for a short time would have to suppress the minority, who would be trying to restore their rule and the subjugation of the working class. This can be seen time and time again as what would happen, in Russia in the Civil War, in Chile with Allended etc etc. So unless the working class is ready to defend it’s gains, to stop the Capitalist class taking back power, Capitalism will come back.

Yes, you are going to need to defend the revolution; anarchists are well aware of that, it is that they wouldn't doing using the (you'd have former) capitalist state. A data point would be the Spanish Revolution of 1936.
The class interests of the Bourgeoisie and the working class are completely counter-posed and cannot be reconciled. All that have tried have failed – see this happening to Chavez at the moment.

The state is the Bourgeoisie's creation; I don't see why you need to hack into something more usable for the working class when you could replace it with something better.
The dictatorship of my neighbors? Oh god, that would be horrible.

Not really what I said but…. Not a fan of democracy then? What system would you implement?

The concept of "tyranny of the majority", though often used to the wrong ends, is a bit true. Minorities versus Majorities is on that subject.

Side note on theory of value:
Supply and demand subjectively affect the price while labor and other inputs objectively effect the price. If the price is too low the commodity will not be made because the cost of production is greater than the price of the item, and if the price of the commodity is too high it opens up the door way for others sell the same thing at a price closer to its natural price. Production is basically InputGoods + Labor = OutputGood; the LTV basically uses this equation to trace all products back to nature, and thus says that the value of an item can be determined by the labor going into it and its composing parts. There is of course an averaging effect on the value of an item; walking by and finding a diamond doesn't mean the diamond is worth next to nothing; being able create diamonds for pennies would however.

Extra note:
So people are better off in third world counties today than there were before; people in the Soviet Union were better off near its end than near the beginning, does that mean we should turn adopt what the Soviet Union did?
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Re: Marxism/Socialism/Communism

Postby Sedition1917 » Mon Aug 18, 2008 10:24 pm UTC

Except, of course, that you ignore the value of every other input. If person A can make cool toys, but requires 100 square km of land to do it, while person B can do it in his back yard -- both have the same "price"?

Or do you invent a value for the 100 square km of land out of thin air, and then subtract that off of what person A's labor produces, to work out how much it is "worth"?

I see amazingly complex, tricky problems that are being utterly ignored.


I've answered it a number of times! Socially necessary labour time. If this toy can be made quicker, better, or with less resources then that becomes the mark against which others are measured. Same as why doing something slowly does no increase the value of our work.

How one goes about doing this is, well, random and up to the people who want to attract investment from individuals who want to not-consume resources allocated to them and instead invest it in increasing the production of other people, and getting a share of the resulting increased production.


Sorry, I literally cannot understand any of that.

But it doesn't determine the value. It is really hard to become a semi-pro baseball player, yet you get payed shit-all. It is really hard to become the 10th fastest swimmer in the world, but you get paid shit-all.


Yes, but as has already been pointed out, if there is no need or demand for what you are doing, you will not earn any money for it. If society decides democratically that professional sport is very important for whatever reasons then those people would be paid more.

Are people allowed to decide "I can live on less, and I have an interesting project I want to work on with some of the resources society wanted to give me"?


Yep.

Can I swap a beer for a friend's help building a tree house?


As long as you don't go on to then sell the treehouse, yep.

Can I offer to give someone 10 loaves of bread in exchange for the other person building me a rocking horse?


You can pay someone to do something for you, obviously. But you will have to pay them at the true value of their labour power.

Can I sell rocking horses that I own to other people, in exchange for goods and services?


Is this not the same as the treehouse question?

I want my democracy to be as abstract, hand-off, and far away from me and mine as it can reasonably be. I don't want it to be fiddling around with the details of my life.

Small scale democracy ends up dealing with small scale problems. I'd rather democracy have large, abstract problems to deal with, so it can never identify me as a particular individual.


I don't know what image you have but this kind of democracy would give more freedom to people than ever before in human history. It will give everyone the economic freedom and the time to pursue a wide variety of interests. Freedom isn't getting up and going to a job you hate for 8 hours a day for most of your life to get fuck all.

So you disagree with the person I was disagreeing with, who said a computer programmer should get paid more because the computer programmers training was harder, and mentioned no other reasons.

Glad we agree.


Yeah, like I say, based on the training and the demand for it.

That requires a perfect pricing of all non-labor inputs. How do you do this perfect pricing again? I missed that chapter.


The cost of the concrete and variable capital that has gone into making those non-labour inputs. Based upon the socially and historically defined amount that a worker requires to live comfortably enough to reproduce his labour.

Then the government can simply make an offer for cheap council housing? Once the price of that is high enough, it will be cheaper than luxury apartments.

You do know what luxury apartments do, right? They provide incentives for people to make decisions that generate surplus value. If you remove all luxuries as being "unworthy", you end up with people who are generating "enough" surplus value deciding "naw, I won't work any harder -- I have enough".


Yeah, what are the incentives for the government under capitalism to do that? The government is alreading farming out as much as it can to private companies.

Where did I say that we should remove luxuries as being "unworthy"? I am all for luxuries. But how about we sort out the whole feeding, clothing and sheltering everyone first. After that the sky is the fucking limit. The difference is those luxuries will be available ot everyone, instead of a tiny percentage.

Once again, generating a popularity contest that impacts my life at a high-detail level. Instead of being able to make deals with individuals, I'm forced to play politics.


Yes you are! You aren't an island, you are part of a society. Your needs do not come before others', so get used to it!

This study ignores the difference between inflation on low and high end goods -- aka, the wal-mart effect -- in which over the period studied the rate of inflation on low end goods was lower than on high end goods. Ignoring this market split results in ... a miscalculation of the amount of change in wealth that the poorest 20% of households actually experienced.

As such, the conclusion of the study has a fundamental flaw. As I requested you to generate studies that you had so much confidence in that if I managed to find a single fundamental flaw, that you'd be convinved that your position was wrong, if I manage to substantiate the above claim, will you indeed decide your position is wrong?

Just curious. I want to see if you agree with the stakes before I go find some citations.


Well a very pernickty point, but I notice you fail to mention the other three studies?

No. I'm advocating spending effort increasing their infrastructure and economy so they can stand on their own two feet, rather than just shipping in huge amounts of food aid. I quite strongly suspect that generating a healthy economy will be a far far far far far far far more efficient way to prevent starvation and hardship than simply shipping food in.


Good, so am I.

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Re: Marxism/Socialism/Communism

Postby Elvish Pillager » Mon Aug 18, 2008 11:19 pm UTC

Yakk wrote:As a trivial, toy example: do you feed Pigs with Wheat or Soy? Without something resembling prices and the "cost" of producing each, this is an insanely hard problem. You have to understand the entire transportation infrastructure, ecological impact, impact of changing which one, etc etc.

Price ends up being a measure of the marginal trade-off that you should make between consuming X and consuming Y.

If a trade-off is only marginal, not getting it perfect is certainly an acceptable loss if it lets you avoid all the problems of capitalism. 8) (Or with communism that uses money, or whatever all we're talking about now.)

As to the particular example, I imagine you'd make that decision based on whether the soil near your pigs was more suited to wheat or soy (to minimize the waste inherent in transporting the food). I am not a farmer, so I don't know what exactly "more suited" entails, but I believe a farmer could make a usable judgment on that without thinking "Could I make more money in the long run by growing and selling wheat or by growing and selling soy?"
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Re: Marxism/Socialism/Communism

Postby frezik » Mon Aug 18, 2008 11:56 pm UTC

Sedition1917 wrote:If this toy can be made quicker, better, or with less resources then that becomes the mark against which others are measured. Same as why doing something slowly does no increase the value of our work.
. . .
Yes, but as has already been pointed out, if there is no need or demand for what you are doing, you will not earn any money for it. If society decides democratically that professional sport is very important for whatever reasons then those people would be paid more.
. . .
Where did I say that we should remove luxuries as being "unworthy"? I am all for luxuries. But how about we sort out the whole feeding, clothing and sheltering everyone first. After that the sky is the fucking limit. The difference is those luxuries will be available ot everyone, instead of a tiny percentage.


Then I fail to see how this gets us a functionally different system than what we have now.

Supply and demand tends to work very well. So well that we should just assume that it's doing its job unless we have good evidence otherwise. Economists have, in fact, come up with several areas where market forces alone don't bring about the best result, such as externalities, monopolies, and imperfect information (such as lemon cars). We can and often do have things in place to resolve these problems.

Let's return to the example of the factory owner. We know that the owner, under a free market system, adds more to the profit than is necessary to pay the workers, keep the factory running, and maybe enough for the owner's own basic food and shelter. But what happens to the money then? It's unlikely that the owner will stuff it into a mattress (modern economies have built-in disincentives towards such hoarding, like keeping at least a few percentage points of inflation). If he expands his factory, he'll end up paying more workers. If he buys a yacht instead, he'll indirectly pay the workers who built it. If he stuffs it in the bank, the bank makes investments with that capital, which will eventually end up paying more workers one way or another.

I fundamentally disagree that the workers are being "exploited" in any of these scenarios. Looking at real world situations, factory work is often infinitely better than any other available alternatives (which ranges between "nothing" and "prostitution"), and capitalism at least provides the opportunity to move upwards without the bottom-end being particularly bad.
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Re: Marxism/Socialism/Communism

Postby Maseiken » Tue Aug 19, 2008 12:07 am UTC

I've already posted my opinions in the [ur=http://forums.xkcd.com/viewtopic.php?f=14&t=26397&st=0&sk=t&sd=a&start=400l]Annoy Tigion thread[/url]
(That's the last page, my opinions are somewhere around the 6/7th. Yes, I could post them again, but that would involve lots of doing things
Which I can't really be bothered doing right now.
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Re: Marxism/Socialism/Communism

Postby Sedition1917 » Tue Aug 19, 2008 12:10 am UTC

Then I fail to see how this gets us a functionally different system than what we have now.


Because the removal of the class system means that things are being run directly for need rather than for a profit. And in removing the profit motive and the capitalist class, the workers earn the full value of their labour power, rather than a fraction of it.

We know that the owner, under a free market system, adds more to the profit than is necessary to pay the workers


Sorry, he doesn't add anything. The surplus value is added by the labour power expended by the workers he employs.

But what happens to the money then? It's unlikely that the owner will stuff it into a mattress (modern economies have built-in disincentives towards such hoarding, like keeping at least a few percentage points of inflation). If he expands his factory, he'll end up paying more workers. If he buys a yacht instead, he'll indirectly pay the workers who built it. If he stuffs it in the bank, the bank makes investments with that capital, which will eventually end up paying more workers one way or another.


Ok, apart from the fact that a lot of this is not true (if he expands his factory, more people will be employed but will still be exploited at the same, if not greater level. if he buys a yacht, he will indirectly pay the workers less than the value they added to that yacht. and same with the bank, yes workers might get jobs from investment but who is the one making the profit, the money from nothing?) it is not his money to invest! He has taken that from workers who are the ones that have expended their labour power in order to add value to a commodity.Taking that surplus value as profit and investing it to make more capital is theft, pure and simple!

I fundamentally disagree that the workers are being "exploited" in any of these scenarios. Looking at real world situations, factory work is often infinitely better than any other available alternatives (which ranges between "nothing" and "prostitution"), and capitalism at least provides the opportunity to move upwards without the bottom-end being particularly bad.


I'm not sure if I have ever heard a more ridiculous statement. I have already shown how workers are being exploited. To say that factory work is ok because it's better than not having a job or prostitution is the most empty argument I have ever heard. Shooting myself in the leg is better than in the heart or head. Does that make it a good thing?

"and capitalism at least provides the opportunity to move upwards without the bottom-end being particularly bad."

Yeah, living on less than $2 a day - that's not particularly bad! Get over it!

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Re: Marxism/Socialism/Communism

Postby TheStranger » Tue Aug 19, 2008 12:13 am UTC

Some nice arguments made in this thread, much of what I would have said has already been covered by the resident economists.

qbg wrote:Socialism would help to turn more workers back into artisans...


Why would we want that? Modern production is based on mass production, there isn't really a place for a large number of 'artisans'.

Sedition1917 wrote:Under Socialism a worker would be paid for exactly how much value they put into the commodity, based on the cost of labour power, which is in turn based upon the cost of living (not merely surviving, taking into account social and historical standards). I am at work at the moment so can't really go into it deeply, but Marx's Value, Price and Profit is an excellent work for explaining the nature of exploitation under Capitalism.


How well do those calculations work in a post industrial society? We are moving away from a society composed mostly of 'workers' as would have been understood in Marx's time.

qbg wrote:Actually, socialism could/would open up more doorways for creativity. By working harder you can finish your work sooner rather than create more work for yourself. In a worker run firm, you could get more of a chance to implement any creative ideas you have that would help you with your job. The working day could become shorter leaving more time for you to explore your interests (if you are unable to fully do so at your work).


I'm not sure how it is where you work but I don't really see a way that one could 'finish sooner', unless you were being paid per unit produced.

You also seem unfamiliar with the the Toyota Production System or other aspects of lean manufacturing

Elvish Pillager wrote:Marx was definitely right that capitalism ultimately doesn't work. That's why no countries try to use pure capitalism anymore. The question of whether modified-capitalism can work out in the long run is a much more complicated one.


No 'pure' implementation will work, any system will necessarily have a mixture of elements.


qbg wrote:Why can't the workers own and manage the business themselves? The ownership issue also leads to the property is theft area.


What is stopping them? All they need is enough money to cover the startup costs.

qbg wrote:It isn't that they are forced to work for you, it is that (the majority of them) they have to work for someone else. The proletariat class is the class of people who own nothing but themselves;


This is, increasingly, a minority in society. Anyone who has a savings account or retirement fund is... in a sense... an 'owner'.

qbg wrote:that can make it hard to become an entrepreneur, not to mention that if they tried they would face the same force that drove so many of the artisans into the factories, their inability to compete with what the factory can produce


Yes, that is true... an individual artisan cannot compete with a factory when it comes to supplying a large demand, it is better suited to the production of high end (or luxury) goods.

qbg wrote:not to mention they would would be essentially locked out of the industries that require a high degree of capital to operate.


Yet those industries are the foundation of modern society... unless you want to go back to the 1700s.

Jahoclave wrote:That is quite possibly one of the most disingenuous examples I've seen. The surgeon is going to be paid more because there actually is a demand for the surgeon versus weaving a basket underwater. The point is that person with talent X is paid Y and not Y-(Cut For Employer). If persons talents are producing Y then they deserved to be paid Y. Or are you disagreeing with that?


Since the employer is covering the cost of materials, the production facilities, shipping, and sale then yes, they do deserve a cut.

Elvish Pillager wrote:I propose not solving this "problem". I also reject our cultural obsession with trying to give people what they "deserve" (which seems to be what you're getting at with that basket-weaver example.)


This isn't a problem that can be ignored, or hand waved away.

Sedition1917 wrote:We live in the age of globalisation. Are you seriously saying those countries are poor through no fault but their own? What about British Imperialism in Africa, India etc. What about the poor countries which are now semi-colonies, with the majority of their industry controlled by Multi-nationals, stripping the country of the money which could be going right back into it, if that industry were nationalized.


Yet those same industries would not exist in the first place, were it not for multi-national corporations. The problem does not lie in the multi-nationals, but rather in the local governments that are not stable enough to allow native corporations to take root.


Sedition1917 wrote:Manager is different to owner. If it is a small business, where the owner also worked, that is different again. But the main problem is the big business, the corporations, the boards of directors and CEOs, the finance capitalists.


You make it sound as though the heads of corporations are not doing anything, that they are just soaking up money.


Sedition1917 wrote:Now if the worker were being paid at the full price of their labour power, the price of that labour power would be added to the above and the commodity would cost that final amount. However, then there would be no profit.


Why wouldn't there be? You just take all the costs and bundle them together (the base cost) then add as much on top of that as the market can carry.

Sedition1917 wrote:But rather than just tacking on an arbitrary amount to create a profit, the capitalist sells the commodity at its true value. He/She just does not pay the worker for all the value they have added to it.


Then where does the money used to pay the worker? This has always been one of the main points where communism losses me.


Sedition1917 wrote:Well they couldn’t all be entrepreneurs could they, otherwise who would they make their money from? By necessity the entrepreneurs have to be in minority and the workers in the vast majority.

Maybe you could be one of the few to get the American Dream but what about the billions that don’t?


Owning a company isn't the American Dream, working hard and getting paid for it is.

Sedition1917 wrote:Maybe I didn’t make that clear. I am a revolutionary, not a reformist. I don’t believe we can ever reach Socialism through voting people into power.


Yet the only way for Socialism to come about would be through direct competition with Capitalism... unless you are going to try guns (well you'd have to compete with Capitalism then to)

Sedition1917 wrote:I meant in a Socialist and a Communist society there would be the utmost democracy in deciding who represents you.


Is that an ideal case? The same holds true for a Capitalist system (as in Capitalism works best in a democratic system).

Sedition1917 wrote:The “unequal set of power relations” is of course completely true. The majority would be in power and for a short time would have to suppress the minority, who would be trying to restore their rule and the subjugation of the working class. This can be seen time and time again as what would happen, in Russia in the Civil War, in Chile with Allended etc etc. So unless the working class is ready to defend it’s gains, to stop the Capitalist class taking back power, Capitalism will come back.


This runs into issues when you pay some individuals more then others, which recreates so called 'bourgeoisie' class.

Sedition1917 wrote:Not really what I said but…. Not a fan of democracy then? What system would you implement?


One as far removed from my life as possible.

Sedition1917 wrote:You can do that if you want. But who is supposed to be paying you here? If you are working by yourself then you can have whatever you can make from it. But if you are working in an under-water behind-the-back basket-weaving factory (assuming one exists…) then you get whatever value you add. Simple.


Isn't that the way it already works.

Sedition1917 wrote:No, it would be based on the average socially necessary labour time to create that commodity – in this case knowledge or education.


Again, how exactly is this different from how it stands now?

Sedition1917 wrote:In socialism, probably the people who lived in the area, whose lives it had a direct affect on would decide, or their local representative. And if he or she started making decisions people didn’t like, recall them and hold them accountable!


So an individual is not allowed to decide what to do with their own land?

Sedition1917 wrote:Is it eliminated!? Or is it these people now have slightly better paid jobs?


Wouldn't that eliminate poverty? If people now have more money with which to buy food (and pay for other goods / services) then I would say that yes, their poverty has been elevated (though not completely eliminated).

Sedition1917 wrote:Did I say that? No, I said that something being necessary and something being profitable are two different things. The NHS runs as a service, it is not supposed to turn a profit. Services don’t need to make money. Feeding people should be a service, not a business.


I'm not following you there. Are we talking about the government running food production? That sounds like an exceptionally bad idea (didn't the USSR go through that with bread lines and rationing? Didn't they discover that when farmers were allowed to grow some of their own crops for personal use / sale that those plots became the most effective?)

Sedition1917 wrote:Mental. So you are advocating starving parts of the world’s population because otherwise they’ll produce more kids and want more food? Greedy fucking Africans eh?


The point is that just "giving" food isn't the answer, because in doing so you strip away the need for local production.
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Re: Marxism/Socialism/Communism

Postby Sedition1917 » Tue Aug 19, 2008 12:28 am UTC

I'm heading to bed now but will try to respond to the other points tomorrow. But just quickly:

Then where does the money used to pay the worker? This has always been one of the main points where communism losses me.


Because commodities are sold at their value, i.e based on how much value is worked up in it from the concrete capital and variable capital, but the worker is only paid for a fraction of the time they worked. By being pais every week or month, it seems like you are being paid for all the work being done during that period. But if you were being paid the full value of your labour, where has the profit come from?

Under Feudalism, a serf would work the master's land 5 days a week, for example, and then have two days to work his own land. Similar to what is happening now, but more obscured.

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Re: Marxism/Socialism/Communism

Postby CFT » Tue Aug 19, 2008 12:32 am UTC

the_stabbage wrote:Also, communist/socialist belief in the concept of History as progress from one type of society, and inevitable progress at that, just seems to me a little far fetched and quasi-religious.

Why quasi-religious? You have prophets(Marx, Lenin), battle between good and evil(Class struggle), and a prophecy that predicts Armageddon that will result in good winning and utopia(Dictatorship of the proletarian). Take Christianity and subtract trinity you will get Marxism. It's just a godless religion.
Compare to capitalism: Have you ever seen a picture of Adam Smith? There is no hero worship. And there are competing views about capitalism, it keeps changing and adapting to reality. A Marxist, like all religious people, expects reality to adapt to his/her theory.

There are no true capitalist societies today. All have regulation that was learned from experience. For example we regulate banks as a result of the great depression. And even that the regulator has failed recently, it will learn from its mistakes and adapt to reality.
However, regulation has its dangers. You are smart enough to figure one out for yourself:
Sedition1917 wrote:Once the buses were privatised, the idea that "competition" would make them better was shown to be ridiculous. You never have competing bus companies running the same routes. They can be as late, as irregular and as expensive as they like.

When the buses got privatized, the regulator prevented competition from happening. This is probably because the operators of the bus lines used their influence and money on the regulator. This is a very good argument against regulation, but it does not work at all against capitalism because capitalism call for no/minimal regulation. If the bus companies competed with each other, then service would have been a lot cheaper and efficient.
Marx wrote his theory to match conditions in the 19th century. Back then conditions for working class were really bad. Today we have a large middle class and labor unions. But Marxist theory refuses to adapt to the new reality.
qbg wrote:Unions have helped, but you can go farther than that. When workers don't want their wages to be lowered, the price of the commodities/services becomes inflated causing a de facto wage cut.

A capitalist doesn't cause inflation, he accepts it as a part of reality. Note that rich people don't like inflation: It cuts their saving, and reduces the value of loans people owe them. But what is the alternative? There is a limit of how high the salary can be. If your factory has higher expenses than income, you will not be able to pay the workers. You can't legislate that away.

Sedition1917 wrote:Well the "government" under Socialism is not the top-down, bureaucratic dictatorship of Stalinism or Maoism. It is delegates and representatives, elected by councils of workers, in every town, workplace, whatever, who are immediately recallable and accountable for their actions. Coupled with the complete open books and publication of everything the representatives do, this holds the best possible form of true, workable democracy.

Do you mean a kibbutz? Then I have bad news for you. Many kibbutzes fail, and even the successful ones have adapted some capitalist ideas. But their biggest problem is their grandchildren. Many of them don't want to continue the communal life. This is where Marxism fails: It isn't designed to work with people. It looks more like it is designed for robots. People have emotions and desires. They prefer taking a loan from a bank, and paying very high interest for decades so they can have a house they can call their own. In a kibbutz, people originally gave all of their salary to the kibbutz, and received food and clothes etc(I'm not sure exactly of the details here, but I don't think they used cash. Today this have changed and I think people also get an allowance). When they grew old, they discovered that they don't own the house they live in, and they don't have any property to leave for their children when they die. But most importantly their grandchildren no longer share their ideals. The founders of the kibbutz were a homogeneous idealistic group, willing to make sacrifices for the community. They were selected for this quality, but most people aren't like this. Not even their own grandchildren, who grew up learning Marxist principles. This is why every large scale Marxist experiment must violently crush dissent. Indoctrination doesn't work.

Sedition1917 wrote:Look at Britain today - public sector workers having they pay increases cut, even though they have been below inflation for many years and have hence been pay cuts. that's one example but the same is happening all over the US and many other countries where a recession is starting to kick in. The real rate of inflation, according to the grocer, is 18.5% - even John Major, ex-conservative Prime Minister has admitted it is double figures. The cost of some food has shot up by 110%. People are being laid off with increasing speed.

When economic crisis bites, it is the working class who pay.

Again, a capitalist does not cause crisis. He accepts them as part of reality. Crisis also happened to all variations of Marxism as well, Stalinist/Maoist/Kibbutz. You can't just decide that under your system there won't be any crises. When "recession kick in" the workers pay even under Marxism.

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Re: Marxism/Socialism/Communism

Postby frezik » Tue Aug 19, 2008 1:28 am UTC

Sedition1917 wrote:I'm not sure if I have ever heard a more ridiculous statement. I have already shown how workers are being exploited. To say that factory work is ok because it's better than not having a job or prostitution is the most empty argument I have ever heard. Shooting myself in the leg is better than in the heart or head. Does that make it a good thing?


Mexicans often go to great lengths so they can be "exploited" in US factories (dodging boarder guards, forging paperwork, etc.). You should ask them if they feel particularly bad about their position.

It's not just relativism, either. A minimum wage job in the US is substantially better than the average job in Mexico. Admittedly, this is partially because the US has adopted a few aspects of socialism (like minimum wage laws), but I don't see this as a strong argument for a full planned economy, either.

"and capitalism at least provides the opportunity to move upwards without the bottom-end being particularly bad."

Yeah, living on less than $2 a day - that's not particularly bad! Get over it!


What kind of economy can you have when your government lacks stability? Communism never seemed to help any of them much, either.

Poor countries and people existed well before capitalism became a working theory, and has helped many countries to raise themselves out of poverty.
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Re: Marxism/Socialism/Communism

Postby TheStranger » Tue Aug 19, 2008 2:01 am UTC

Sedition1917 wrote:Because commodities are sold at their value, i.e based on how much value is worked up in it from the concrete capital and variable capital, but the worker is only paid for a fraction of the time they worked. By being paid every week or month, it seems like you are being paid for all the work being done during that period. But if you were being paid the full value of your labor, where has the profit come from?


Actually the exact 'value' of a commodity is not a 'set' value. It's a value relative to the rest of the market for that commodity (you cannot charge significantly more then the competition for the 'same' product, and you cannot charge under the production cost of the item). Within that there is a fair amount of flexibility.

If, say through process improvement, one company is able to make their product for less then a competitor then they can charge less. In doing so they can charge between slightly less (less then the market but more then production) or significantly less (pass the price decrease directly onto the final cost of the item).

That gap, between production cost (which includes the labor) and the final market price is the 'profit'. What a company does with that profit is often quite varied. Some of it may get pushed back onto the employees in the form of a wage increase, some can be used to pay of creditors (if the company has any outstanding loans), some of it can be straight saved for further use, and some will be used to expand the company (new equipment, training for employees, expansion into new markets, expansion of production facilities, and development of new products or production technologies).

Under Feudalism, a serf would work the master's land 5 days a week, for example, and then have two days to work his own land. Similar to what is happening now, but more obscured.


It's actually quite different, as now I own my property... and my labor is mine to sell as I see fit (as long as I can find a buyer). Where as a serf was bound to his lords property, and does not have the freedom to seek employment elsewhere.
Last edited by TheStranger on Tue Aug 19, 2008 2:04 am UTC, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Marxism/Socialism/Communism

Postby Jahoclave » Tue Aug 19, 2008 2:03 am UTC

Dear Yakk, I refer you back to my previous post as it did answer your questions and you just refuse to answer that. After all, my Exxon Example actually demonstrates exactly how a lot of those things would be worked out. If you're going to get all pissy and ignore everything I say then there's no point to even attempting to try and explain a viewpoint.


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