What's Wrong With Communism?

Ivan_Ivanov
Ivan_Ivanov's picture
Posts: 126
Joined: 2006-09-10
User is offlineOffline
What's Wrong With Communism?

This is a question directed mainly to socialists.
I noticed a tendency that socialists completely cut themselves off from communism. They keep saying socialism is not communism, and they want to have nothing to do with countries like the Soviet Union, China, Cuba or North Korea.

I understand that no one wants to support a general disregard for civil liberties that seems to go with every communist country, and I don't expect anyone to do it, but that's only part of the reason why living in such a country sucks.

The other part is poverty, and civil liberties have little to do with it, this problem is in the realm of economics.
So what I'd like to ask is, from a socialist point of view, what is wrong with communist economics?


darth_josh
High Level DonorHigh Level ModeratorGold Member
darth_josh's picture
Posts: 2642
Joined: 2006-02-27
User is offlineOffline
I have very few problems

I have very few problems with communist economics.

The differences are deeper than just that.

Laws. Societal progression. Individual reliability. All of those issues are communism's flaws. (Libertarian flaws as well, but we were discussing communism vs. socialism weren't we. Wink )

I'm trying NOT to strawman here, but it is difficult since we both have our separate misunderstandings of each other's micro-/macro- management ideas. The old soviet union and in certain aspects China were socialist, not communist in nature. We find that both were trying to escape the 'stigma' attached to the other's political ideological nomenclature.

My opinion:

Communism cannot work on a grand scale such as a nation or even entire world because of a decided lack of accountability on the individual's part. Anarchy, community unrest, and greed are still present in the examples of communes that we have now despite their public personas.

Socialism requires individual communities to contribute to the whole, and as long as the individual communities contribution meets accepted standards of the collective then no intervention is needed. However, if a community does not meet their contribution then 'problem-solvers' appointed by the collective are charged with discovering why and rectifying the problem. For instance, if more people are needed to complete the job and make the contribution then more people are sent. If raw materials are needed then so be it. etc. The PEOPLE as a society must select the 'problem solvers' and we aren't talking about people from a specific geographical area or specific demographic either. Whomever gets the job done, makes sure that the job is done.

Likewise, if certain types of people are needed (engineers, nurses, doctors, psychologists, etc.) are needed then they are selected from those in the community that have shown promise or even interest in those areas of expertise then they are used for that purpose.

I could rant all friggin' day and night. lol.

In the interest of shortening this:

Communism = From each according to their ability, to each according to their need.

Socialism = From each according to the need for the whole, to each according to what everyone else gets including needs and wants.

In communism, there could be a 'lucky' surplus. In socialism, there is a planned surplus for future disbursement or emergency.

Since the miserable fucking failures associated with hurricane Katrina and our present alleged 'system' of government, I have seen the benefits of socialism whereas communism fails to address the increased needs of disasters because the communes will only work until present needs are met and then stop. Capitalism will only work when there is money involved.

Hrrumph and Libertarians will only work for weed whilesocialists will examine the benefits versus detriments to the collective. OK that might have been too harsh, but I challenge a libertarian to deny it anyway. lol.

Communism is lazy in my personal opinion.

Atheist Books, purchases on Amazon support the Rational Response Squad server, which houses Celebrity Atheists.


Ivan_Ivanov
Ivan_Ivanov's picture
Posts: 126
Joined: 2006-09-10
User is offlineOffline
Hm, I don't really see how

Hm, I don't really see how most of your post has much to do with my question.

darth_josh wrote:
I have very few problems with communist economics.

The differences are deeper than just that.

But economics is what's responsible for the wealth of the people.

Anything else is mostly cosmetics, it may cause the country to be a not-so-nice place to live, but it will have little effect on the amount of wealth it's people will generate.

 

Quote:
Laws.

How are laws under communism different from those of any other system?

I'm from Poland, and many of the laws over here have remained the same as they were back when we were the People's Republic of Poland.

Quote:
Societal progression. Individual reliability.

Hm, you''ll have to explain what you mean by these.

Quote:
The old soviet union and in certain aspects China were socialist, not communist in nature.

So the failure of those countries was (partially?) because of socialism rather then communism?

Quote:
Communism cannot work on a grand scale such as a nation or even entire world because of a decided lack of accountability on the individual's part. Anarchy, community unrest, and greed are still present in the examples of communes that we have now despite their public personas.

How is the individual less accountable under communism then he is under socialism?

Human nature remains the same regardless of the system, so what specific shortcomming of communism allows the individual to be less accountable, and what specific safeguard is there in socialism that prevents it?

Also, to whom is the individual supposed to be accountable?


darth_josh
High Level DonorHigh Level ModeratorGold Member
darth_josh's picture
Posts: 2642
Joined: 2006-02-27
User is offlineOffline
I thought I did explain my

I thought I did explain my thoughts past the quote where you stopped.

Atheist Books, purchases on Amazon support the Rational Response Squad server, which houses Celebrity Atheists.


Ivan_Ivanov
Ivan_Ivanov's picture
Posts: 126
Joined: 2006-09-10
User is offlineOffline
darth_josh wrote:

darth_josh wrote:
I thought I did explain my thoughts past the quote where you stopped.

Well, I just didn't see how what you said later is relevant.

But what the hell, here we go:

After I stopped you wrote 2 paragraphs explaining how socialism works in your opinion (which doesn't look anything like countries typically called socialist today).

But it didn't answer my original question or any of the questions I asked later.

After that you gave a short catch-phrase description of communism and socialism

After that:

Quote:
In communism, there could be a 'lucky' surplus. In socialism, there is a planned surplus for future disbursement or emergency.

What do you mean? Every country that called itself communist* used to plan it's production in the very manner you describe.

 

Quote:
Since the miserable fucking failures associated with hurricane Katrina and our present alleged 'system' of government, I have seen the benefits of socialism whereas communism fails to address the increased needs of disasters because the communes will only work until present needs are met and then stop.

But wasn't the failure of Katrina a failure of socialism (it certainly wasn't communism, and neither was it capitalism since it was the federal government that screwed up)?

Also where did you get that bit about comunes working only until present needs are satisfied?

For now I'll skip that bit about capitalism/libertarianism as I'd like to discuss the original topic a bit more first.

 

*) I probably should make it a bit more clear at the beginning. I didn't mean any teoretical version of communism/socialism, but systems that are and were in place now and not so long ago, that go by those names.

The whole point is that there is a certain kind of socialists, that when you mention North Korea, Cuba or the Soviet Union in a discussion, they always go: "No, no, no, that's nothing like the system I'm proposing. Look at Sweden, France and Norway instead."

So I wanted to ask what exactly was wrong with those communist countries I mentioned, that they wish to cut themselves off from any association with them so decisevly?

Like I said, I understand not agreeing with political oppression, but that was only a small part of the problem the citizens of those countries had.


darth_josh
High Level DonorHigh Level ModeratorGold Member
darth_josh's picture
Posts: 2642
Joined: 2006-02-27
User is offlineOffline
I'm sorry to take so long

I'm sorry to take so long to respond, Ivan. I hope you're still reading.

You're right. I did stray too far into comparative analysis.

I'll try to stick to just the ones we know about instead of the utopian ideals. lol.

North Korea as a communism failed primarily because of the rest of the world. North Korea as a socialism(or what it wants to be under Kim Jong Il) seems to be failing primarily because they don't have anything in place to right anything that isn't functioning correctly. The 'politics' are all about Il.

China seems successful, but I would hardly call them a comunism or a socialism. It's a programmed capitalism. Should the US have a $200 billion trade deficit with a COMMUNISM? It flies in the face of the definition. China has all of the major problems that any other capitalism has such as: rampant drug use, poverty, violent crimes, inadequate medical care for all of its citizens, poor infrastructure planning with the exception of its major cities, and a desire to 'rule' the world.

The soviet union was close, so close to being able to show the world what a socialism should look like. Unfortunately, a little thing called the cold war and a ridiculous idea called Afghanistan got in the way. Also, there was some misguided idea that the citizens need not be informed regarding the governments interaction with the rest of the world. I'd like to blame Stalin. However, it was the same with the subsequent leaders and their interaction with the rest of the world that was also in question. American paranoia fueled by greedy fundie christians/muslims created the hate.

Stalin was faced with a world war and responded the best that he could. He did well. I don't think he would have been half the asshole that we made him to be post WW2. Too much time trying to keep pace with the western war machines despite the promise of peace would drive any man nuts in my opinion.

That's my take on those.

 

I see the others you mentioned. Sweden, France, Norway, and I'll lump Denmark in there too, as piss-poor examples of socialism because they are still based upon money for services and food. The only pieces they have socialized are the ones that have been guaranteed to work like healthcare and public works.

Atheist Books, purchases on Amazon support the Rational Response Squad server, which houses Celebrity Atheists.


mrjonno
Posts: 726
Joined: 2007-02-26
User is offlineOffline
Communism fails for two

Communism fails for two main reasons

 

1) It assumes human beings are unselfish, while there is some altruism its only for the benefit of close family /where there is low risk (generally there are exceptions but on the whole we are selfish)

 

2) Its a dogmatic and unable to adapt, the capitalist system survived because it can adapt, in a totally free market there would be the  very poor would be left to rot leading to the poor simply shooting the rich (communism). Instead we have a welfare state safety net which allows the system to work

 

All economies are mixed anyway, with market regulation, social security, capitalism also didnt expect the rise of unions (which are in effect companies for workers)


qbg
Posts: 298
Joined: 2006-11-22
User is offlineOffline
What is wrong with

What is wrong with communist economics?  Well, what is communist economics?  It couldn't be central planning conducted from a state because communism is stateless.  In fact, that is what confuses so many people -- communism is stateless; they tend to forget that.  Remembering this, it is clear that the 'communist' state were not communist!  You could even argue that they weren't socialist because the workers were not the ones who had the political power!  What has been the problem is not communism, (or possibily even socialism), but getting there.

 Remember, communism is a form of socialism, so asking "from a socialist perspective, what is wrong with socialist economics" is silly.

"What right have you to condemn a murderer if you assume him necessary to "God's plan"? What logic can command the return of stolen property, or the branding of a thief, if the Almighty decreed it?"
-- The Economic Tendency of Freethought


Ivan_Ivanov
Ivan_Ivanov's picture
Posts: 126
Joined: 2006-09-10
User is offlineOffline
darth_josh wrote:

darth_josh wrote:
North Korea as a communism failed primarily because of the rest of the world.

I have no idea what you're trying to say here.

Quote:
North Korea as a socialism(or what it wants to be under Kim Jong Il) seems to be failing primarily because they don't have anything in place to right anything that isn't functioning correctly. The 'politics' are all about Il.

It seems you believe the Soviet Union was much better then North Korea, can you name any specific policies that the USSR had and North Korea lacked?

Quote:
China seems successful, but I would hardly call them a comunism or a socialism.

Oh, I agree China a while ago started becoming more and more capitalistic... interestingly, that's when they started becoming succesful.

Quote:
It's a programmed capitalism.

Errr... what does that even mean?

Quote:
The soviet union was close, so close to being able to show the world what a socialism should look like. Unfortunately, a little thing called the cold war and a ridiculous idea called Afghanistan got in the way.

As far as I know, the US also took part in the Cold War, and had a few rediculous ideas of it's own, like Vietnam, and yet Americans were much wealthier the people of the Societ Union. Howcome?

It's also kind of interesting you never mentioned economics at all and that's what I asked for.

If you wish to argue that the shape of the political system in and of itself caused poverty in those countries, go ahead, but don't just assume it.

mrjonno wrote:
1) It assumes human beings are unselfish, while there is some altruism its only for the benefit of close family /where there is low risk (generally there are exceptions but on the whole we are selfish)

Aren't "mixed economies" based on this very assumption as well, the difference beeing that they give much less power to those supposedly unselfish people?

Quote:
2) Its a dogmatic and unable to adapt, the capitalist system survived because it can adapt

Can you give a specific example of one of the countries considered communist I mentioned, not adapting to something?

Quote:
in a totally free market there would be the very poor would be left to rot leading to the poor simply shooting the rich (communism

Countries where communist revolutions happened couldn't be said to have had a completely free market by any strech of imagination.

qbg wrote:
What is wrong with communist economics? Well, what is communist economics? It couldn't be central planning conducted from a state because communism is stateless.

So... what would stop people from just participating in free market capitalism?

Quote:
Remember, communism is a form of socialism, so asking "from a socialist perspective, what is wrong with socialist economics" is silly.

That would be true if it wasn't for the fact that my question was specifically directed at people who call themselves socialist, who say that countries like Sweden, France, or Norway are examples of socialism, and who disassosiate themselves from countries like the Soviet Union by saying they're communist, and not socialist.

I don't find myself to be in a position to tell socialists what socialism means, so if someone gives me a definition, even if it's half-assed like that, hey who am I to object?


Zhwazi
Zhwazi's picture
Posts: 459
Joined: 2006-10-06
User is offlineOffline
Ivan_Ivanov wrote: qbg

Ivan_Ivanov wrote:

qbg wrote:
What is wrong with communist economics? Well, what is communist economics? It couldn't be central planning conducted from a state because communism is stateless.

So... what would stop people from just participating in free market capitalism?

Capitalism couldn't survive in a free market. That's what would stop them from doing that. 


darth_josh
High Level DonorHigh Level ModeratorGold Member
darth_josh's picture
Posts: 2642
Joined: 2006-02-27
User is offlineOffline
I think I remember why I

I think I remember why I quit reading the infidelguy boards.

Sorry I wasn't able to sway the opinions you already wanted, Ivan. lol.

Atheist Books, purchases on Amazon support the Rational Response Squad server, which houses Celebrity Atheists.


Ivan_Ivanov
Ivan_Ivanov's picture
Posts: 126
Joined: 2006-09-10
User is offlineOffline
Zhwazi wrote: Capitalism

Zhwazi wrote:
Capitalism couldn't survive in a free market. That's what would stop them from doing that.

Private ownership of means of production couldn't survive in a free market?

Care to explain? 


Zhwazi
Zhwazi's picture
Posts: 459
Joined: 2006-10-06
User is offlineOffline
Ivan_Ivanov wrote: Zhwazi

Ivan_Ivanov wrote:

Zhwazi wrote:
Capitalism couldn't survive in a free market. That's what would stop them from doing that.

Private ownership of means of production couldn't survive in a free market?

Care to explain?

Ownership is the right to make a decision about something, how it'll be used, and so on. Any system that believes that people have the right to make decisions is a system of private ownership. Fascism and socialism both believe that people have the right to make decisions, much as they may disagree on which people can make which decisions. And because "public" or "government" is a label which changes nothing about the reality of things, there can be no such thing as "public property" or "government property", there will always be someone somewhere choosing how it is used, and for all pratical purposes, it is their property, and because all individuals are private individuals, it is by extension privately owned. And anything can be a means of production. Your body is a means of production. Your mind is a means of production. It is likewise owned, whether by you or not, privately. What contradistincts capitalism from other systems is not the private ownership of property, but who gets to make what decisions.

Socialism is an idea which advocates ownership by the workers. In all the definitions of socialism I have seen this has been the one overriding and consistent goal. State control is advocated pending worker control only because many socialists are hypocrites and don't get that the state is controlled by the hated bourgeoisie, that it is controlled by the bougeoisie by nature, and that co-opting the state does not change it's nature as a tool of the capitalist class.

Capitalism is an idea which advocates ownership by some other group of elites, almost always the politically connected and the politicians and bureaucrats, but in the more benign forms, just by businessmen that are good at what they do.

It is the difference between equality and elitism. Once it's understood that political and economic affairs are both just a question of who owns what, who is to make which decisions, and that the political and economic elite are in almost every case in bed together, the principle can be applied that having the power to decide in the hands of the few is subject to all of the same principles of inefficiency economically as politically. Centralized decisionmaking is inefficient, bueaucracy and management is overhead costs to be realized at both the worker and customer ends, the difference between the value of the product of the worker and the worker's wage is inefficient to the worker, reducing incentive to become a wage-slave and increasing incentive to come into possession of one's own means of production. In a free market power would tend toward equalization, the means of production would fall into the hands of the workers, and you would have socialism. Capitalism doesn't survive the free market.

There's no contradiction between worker control of the means of production and a free market. There's no consistency in control-by-the-elite to abolish control-by-the-elite, a top-down approach to enforcing a bottum-up approach, as it merely trades old masters for new ones. That's the typical failure of socialism as it is normally tried. The free market naturally ends up in the supposedly-contradictory blend of equality and liberty. 


Ivan_Ivanov
Ivan_Ivanov's picture
Posts: 126
Joined: 2006-09-10
User is offlineOffline
Hi there Zhwazi sorry for

Hi there Zhwazi sorry for keeping you waiting.

I tried to tackle what you said from a couple of sides, but in the end I think I agree with what you say, and what I disagree with may be for the most part semantics.

Quote:
Fascism and socialism both believe that people have the right to make decisions, much as they may disagree on which people can make which decisions. And because "public" or "government" is a label which changes nothing about the reality of things, there can be no such thing as "public property" or "government property", there will always be someone somewhere choosing how it is used, and for all pratical purposes, it is their property, and because all individuals are private individuals, it is by extension privately owned.

Right.

However, by "private property" I always understood that a person has come into possesion of it either by creating it, through voluntary transaction, or by original appropriation.

I see the error in my reasoning as there is nothing in the word "private" that implies this, but then I also don't see anything in the definition of "capitalist" that would imply the elites would own the means of production.

I must say I'd be quite heart broken if it turned out there is, I've become quite fond of the "anarcho capitalist" label. 


Zhwazi
Zhwazi's picture
Posts: 459
Joined: 2006-10-06
User is offlineOffline
There's nothing in the

There's nothing in the definition of capitalist that implies it, but common usage of the word does imply it.

You don't have to abandon the "anarcho-capitalist" label, although I've found it useful to do so in many situations where a strawman attack is likely to be elicited by the word capitalist. When talking to anarcho-capitalists and libertarians in general you won't cause much if any confusion by calling yourself an anarcho-capitalist, but if you do so around more "left" anarchists, or leftists of almost any variety, you might wish you'd simply called yourself an "anarchist". There's a left-libertarian movement that's largely trying to reconcile and based on what I've read by "left" anarchists about it, they reguard agorists like me as "left anarchists" also, not too radically different from them, it's largely a matter of "right libertarian" rhetoric tending to piss off/confuse/mislead them. Look into agorism, as it's basically anarcho-capitalism with a few rhetoric and focus adjustments. 


Jacob Cordingley
SuperfanBronze Member
Jacob Cordingley's picture
Posts: 1484
Joined: 2007-03-18
User is offlineOffline
Despite being a Marxist I

Despite being a Marxist I would say that communism has massive flaws. Marx is always extremely vague about what communism actually would be, defining it with broad, speculative characteristics, worker's taking over private property and the dissappearance of the state, which actually seemingly contradict each other.

The communism we saw last century was different from anything Marx envisaged. The control and distribution of property including capital by the workers as a whole actually necessitated a state, and an extremely strong state. We can also see that because none or very few of the revolutions that took place were popular, this state had to employ force to maintain itself. The end products in general were paranoid police states, where the level of power the state required was enough to corrupt even the originally well-meaning leaders and paved the way for sociopaths such as Stalin to come to power.

In terms of economics I also see a massive problem with entirely state-controlled economies (something I was actually very much in favour of until very recently). The problem is that despite even a democratic state being the public sector, you inevitably get a separation of the people from the state. The workers might collectively own the means of production by means of a state but the state becomes distinctly separate from them, controlling the capital and thus controlling workers. This is even more the case in the communist dictatorships than in Atlee's Britain (which for those of you who aren't familiar with this was a democratically elected socialist (Labour Party) regime in the post-war years which nationalised whole loads of industries and created the NHS) as there is even more of a cleavage between people and state in dictatorships.

On the otherhand private companies are the biggest exploiters of workers. The solution as I see it is co-operatives in a strongly subsidised and controlled market. The problem with capitalism is not the market but the buying and selling of labour power and alienated labour. Markets if given free reign are dangerous, if they are controlled they are dynamic and fruitful. There is an alienation of labour in both the state owned economy and the privately owned economy because the workers sell their labour power (out of necessity) to an authority, producing something that they do not take joy in. The co-operative allows workers to own and control the means of production, take joy in their work and not be in direct competition with fellow workers. What makes this even more appealing is that we already know it can work. Co-ops exist and work already. Controlled markets are also common throughout the developed world and they work. A communist society has never existed to a level that it has worked successfully and benevolently to its people, nor has anything suggesting the possibility of it working on a large scale ever existed. We know that the bourgeoisie of the capitalist epoch grew out of already existing merchant classes and economies (i.e. an economy that worked differently from the feudal economy of land and title, but that co-existed with it). So it makes some kind of sense that a future society will grow out of a pre-existing type of economy that already co-exists with the main one. 

Of course this is speculation to a certain degree and I could rant about it all day. But I do think it solves the major problems with both communism (and other post-capitalist utopian possibilities) as well as capitalism itself.


Ivan_Ivanov
Ivan_Ivanov's picture
Posts: 126
Joined: 2006-09-10
User is offlineOffline
Zhwazi wrote: There's a

Zhwazi wrote:
There's a left-libertarian movement that's largely trying to reconcile and based on what I've read by "left" anarchists about it, they reguard agorists like me as "left anarchists" also, not too radically different from them, it's largely a matter of "right libertarian" rhetoric tending to piss off/confuse/mislead them.

That's why I usually say I'm in favor of free market capitalism, and explain that what we have now is hardly a free market.

You're right, it seems that some of them are allergic to the c-word, but most people I've met were willing to hear me out, even if they didn't want to agree with my stance. 

Quote:
Look into agorism, as it's basically anarcho-capitalism with a few rhetoric and focus adjustments.

Will do, thanks. 


Ivan_Ivanov
Ivan_Ivanov's picture
Posts: 126
Joined: 2006-09-10
User is offlineOffline
Jacob Cordingley

Jacob Cordingley wrote:
There is an alienation of labour in both the state owned economy and the privately owned economy because the workers sell their labour power (out of necessity) to an authority, producing something that they do not take joy in.

This seems to be your central objection to both systems, can you explain how it leads to economic problems like massive shortages and very poor quality of goods that you could see in communist states?

Also, do you think alienation of labor under communism is a problem to the same extent as it is under capitalism?

If so, why do you think capitalist econimies didn't suffer such shortages and made better goods?

Quote:
The solution as I see it is co-operatives in a strongly subsidised and controlled market.

If your solution really is better then what we have, why the need for subsidies and forced regulation?

Quote:
The problem with capitalism is not the market but the buying and selling of labour power and alienated labour. Markets if given free reign are dangerous, if they are controlled they are dynamic and fruitful.

This is a very interesting thought, especially since you said it's not the market that's the problem. Can you give any examples of dangers that alienated labour in a completely free market leads to?

And since you said that regulated markets are succesful, can you give a specific example of regulations that are in place today that inhibit alienation of labour?


Jacob Cordingley
SuperfanBronze Member
Jacob Cordingley's picture
Posts: 1484
Joined: 2007-03-18
User is offlineOffline
Ivan_Ivanov wrote: Jacob

Ivan_Ivanov wrote:

Jacob Cordingley wrote:
There is an alienation of labour in both the state owned economy and the privately owned economy because the workers sell their labour power (out of necessity) to an authority, producing something that they do not take joy in.

This seems to be your central objection to both systems, can you explain how it leads to economic problems like massive shortages and very poor quality of goods that you could see in communist states?

Also, do you think alienation of labor under communism is a problem to the same extent as it is under capitalism?

To answer your first question. For one thing there are massive problems with command economies (please bare in mind here that I'm not an economist but a philosopher) especially when such economies are put under pressure. These economies are controlled by one elite group of individuals (the state) in response to the needs of the state. Where there is great pressure, as during WWII and the Cold War the needs of the state is war and so the state demands certain machinery to be manufactured at the expense of consumer goods. At the same time command economies are bad at generating wealth, primarily because it lacks the versatility of the market economy, lack of consumer goods is one reason (again especially under pressure because artillary isn't bought and sold but used directly by the state). At the same time there is a similarity between command capitalism and market capitalism, that is that neither are inherently welfarist, the elites of both economies would be better off paying workers the bare minimum, in order to squeeze out all the profit possible. This brings me on to the second question: Yes Alienated Labour is just as much a problem under the communist economy as under the capitalist, both sets of workers are making products which ultimately do not belong to them (although the state capitalists product is theirs by technicality only) both involve gruelling and repetative labour. 

 

Ivan_Ivanov wrote:
If so, why do you think capitalist econimies didn't suffer such shortages and made better goods?

This of course is one of the benefits of the market economy (please note when I say market economy I do not mean the same as market capitalism (which we might also call regular capitalism)). Markets are better able to respond to the requirements of the consumers through a process not dissimilar to natural selection; the best and cheapest products sell whilst others fail and do not survive. My problem with market capitalism is the capitalism. Capitalism makes the market's form of natural selection as violent and bloody as the biological natural selection of genes. We are human beings, altruistic by our nature and not to the detriment of our survival in the natural world but actually to our advantage, our altruism is a key to our survival, perhaps the key to why we have civilisation and society and moral frameworks. There is no justification, based on any morality for treating the economic structure of our society (which is of course the most important factor in our manufactured environment) as if it were the cut-throat world of nature. My problem with capitalism is on an ethical level, it inflicts itself upon people's lives in a way that traps them into a lifetime of gruelling and essentially lonely slog. This brings me on to the next point...

Ivan_Ivanov wrote:
Quote:
The solution as I see it is co-operatives in a strongly subsidised and controlled market.

If your solution really is better then what we have, why the need for subsidies and forced regulation?

I think the market is a fantastic thing, productive and versatile and responsive. However it is also a dangerous force when let to run free. If left to its own devices the consequences can be disasterous: poverty, resulting in crime, psychological problems and a whole host of problems caused by poverty. During the 1980s, Thatcher's government in the UK set about dismantling Britain's welfare state and setting the market forces free. The result was extreme poverty, rioting (quite rightly but not desirably). The same things have affected the worst off in American society where there is much more of a free market. America has high levels of poverty and lack of opportunities for those in its worst off communities, and we might even associate the turn towards increased religiosity as resultant from this (subject to further study). The same principle here would exist if it were co-operativism operating in a free market. The bigger co-operatives would force smaller co-operatives out of business by offering lower prices and gaining monopolies over whole areas of industry and commerce, not only is this kind of competition unfair it means that people's lives can be ruined, people lose their incomes whilst others benefit from it. In this country to a certain extent the markets are controlled in such a way that small businesses stand some chance against larger corporate opposition. However, my old corner shop didn't stand a chance when a new Tesco Express opened nearby. The need for rules and regulations doesn't just stop there...

The workplace is probably one of the most, if not the most important parts of an ordinary person's life. We spend most our day there, but, except for a minority of people, most of us have very little control within that workplace, we are wage slaves, making someone elses product under someone elses authority and being paid enough to keep us mildly content while the owner sells our product for a much larger amount of profit than he himself deserves. Co-operatives are not all democratic, there are many that aren't. Co-operatives however lend themselves more to democracy than a business owned by one man (or a family or wealthy shareholders). How is it that a person can choose his political leaders and have a say in the governing of his country, state, local region or town but is ruled and dominated by his boss almost entirely. Co-operatives are common property of all the people who work in them, to have them dominated by an elite defeats the object of them existing. There must be a rule in such a possible state for there to be some level of democracy in every co-operative whether it be direct or representative (say for the larger ones). There also have to be regulartions on membership size to income ratios (to ensure that everyone has access to a decent wage) and to the market to ensure that co-operatives don't go out of business or at least provide decent benefits to its membership (i.e. subsidising the smaller co-operatives).  

 

Ivan_Ivanov wrote:
Quote:
The problem with capitalism is not the market but the buying and selling of labour power and alienated labour. Markets if given free reign are dangerous, if they are controlled they are dynamic and fruitful.

This is a very interesting thought, especially since you said it's not the market that's the problem. Can you give any examples of dangers that alienated labour in a completely free market leads to?

And since you said that regulated markets are succesful, can you give a specific example of regulations that are in place today that inhibit alienation of labour?

I will answer this tomorrow. I'm tired and I have to be up early tomorrow.


Zhwazi
Zhwazi's picture
Posts: 459
Joined: 2006-10-06
User is offlineOffline
Jacob Cordingley

Jacob Cordingley wrote:

This of course is one of the benefits of the market economy (please note when I say market economy I do not mean the same as market capitalism...My problem with market capitalism is the capitalism. Capitalism makes the market's form of natural selection as violent and bloody as the biological natural selection of genes.

What do you think of hyper-entrepreneurial markets? The entrepreneur owns his own means of production and doesn't have his labor alienated, and it doesn't depend on the whims of a "capitalist" class and their handing out of "jobs", just the demands of the consumers. It would be more difficult for a belligerent warmongering government to take control of also.

Quote:
I think the market is a fantastic thing, productive and versatile and responsive. However it is also a dangerous force when let to run free. If left to its own devices the consequences can be disasterous: poverty, resulting in crime, psychological problems and a whole host of problems caused by poverty.

I said earlier in the thread that I find this an unlikely result of a freed market, which would tend toward mass entrepreneurship and cooperatives instead of bureaucratic and elitist corporations. A society not dependent upon the "jobs" given out by the elite, and which responds to consumer demand directly would have no problems getting people sources of income and the amount of income they deserve.

Quote:
The bigger co-operatives would force smaller co-operatives out of business by offering lower prices and gaining monopolies over whole areas of industry and commerce

I don't believe this to be true. Co-operatives are not corporations. A branch of a corporation could never break off and become it's own corporation by it's own efforts and profitability (that would just make it more valuable to the corporate owners). In the case of co-operatives this wouldn't be true. Without the corporatist centralizing effect of the state, there comes a point of negative return on being bigger than the other guy. Size alone does not create efficiency along a linear trend. Even if a monopoly should come about, and prices be arbitrarily raised, it would be in the best interests of any portion of the co-operative to break away and undercut the rest of the co-operative to get all the customers, bidding the price back down. If my reasoning is flawed please point out where, but I don't believe bigger co-operatives could drive smaller co-operatives out of business just using the market.

Quote:
There must be a rule in such a possible state for there to be some level of democracy in every co-operative whether it be direct or representative

Assuming the truly free association of a truly freed market it wouldn't be necessary to have this. A co-operative mismanaged somehow would give less income than a well-managed one, and the better managed co-operative would tend to attract those workers. Under capitalism we don't see this because the centralizing effect the state has on the market limits the number of options for the worker, there's no reason that I see to assume this would continue to be the case in a market dominated by co-operatives.


Ivan_Ivanov
Ivan_Ivanov's picture
Posts: 126
Joined: 2006-09-10
User is offlineOffline
Jacob Cordingley

Jacob Cordingley wrote:
This brings me on to the second question: Yes Alienated Labour is just as much a problem under the communist economy as under the capitalist, both sets of workers are making products which ultimately do not belong to them (although the state capitalists product is theirs by technicality only) both involve gruelling and repetative labour.

Ok, but you seem to show alienation of labour as the root of all economic problems. Could explain how it leads to any economic problem?

Quote:
(please note when I say market economy I do not mean the same as market capitalism (which we might also call regular capitalism)).

What's the difference?

Quote:
Capitalism makes the market's form of natural selection as violent and bloody as the biological natural selection of genes.

I think that's an oversimplification of what free market capitalism is. You can only arrive at this conclusion if you look at the problem very narrowly.

It may seem cruel when a mom and pop store has to close down when they can't compete with the prices of a supermarket, but don't you think it's even more cruel when poor people have to pay high prices to buy basic necessities of life in this very mom and pop store?

Don't you think it's even more cruel to put a gun to their heads and force them to pay to keep a store in business, that has ceased to provide a valuable service, and is now essentially wasting resources?

And it's not like the owners of the store are forced into poverty, if they are outcompeted. If people pay lower prices for grocieries (and notice this now includes the ex-store owners themselves) they have more money left to spend on other things, and that translates to more opportunities for enterproneurs like them.

Quote:
I think the market is a fantastic thing, productive and versatile and responsive. However it is also a dangerous force when let to run free. If left to its own devices the consequences can be disasterous: poverty, resulting in crime, psychological problems and a whole host of problems caused by poverty.

Ok, so could you show how a free market leads to poverty?

Quote:
During the 1980s, Thatcher's government in the UK set about dismantling Britain's welfare state and setting the market forces free. The result was extreme poverty, rioting (quite rightly but not desirably).

Hm, as far as I can tell Thatcher pretty much left the education and healthcare system alone, so I'm not sure what you mean by dismatling the welfare state. I'd be grateful if you could provide examples of what you mean, and show how they lead to poverty.

Quote:
The same things have affected the worst off in American society where there is much more of a free market. America has high levels of poverty and lack of opportunities for those in its worst off communities,

Truth be told I'm sceptical of that.

I've been to the States and had worked a minimum wage job there. It sucked donkey balls, I admit, but the thing that hit me is how easy it was to save money over there (after 2 months I had something below 3000$ in my pocket).

With money saved you get to pick an choose any kind of training course to boost your skills, and boost your income as a consequence.

Sorry, I'm a bit sceptical about the lack of opportunity thing.

Quote:
In this country to a certain extent the markets are controlled in such a way that small businesses stand some chance against larger corporate opposition.

It's actually debateble if the laws favor the little guy, but the question is why do you think the little guy should be protected?

The industrial revolution has put millions of manual workers out of their jobs, but it has brought a previously unimaginable amount of wealth to the people. While the effects are not as drastic with Walmart vs your local grocery store, it's really the same mechanism.

 

Quote:
we are wage slaves, making someone elses product under someone elses authority and being paid enough to keep us mildly content while the owner sells our product for a much larger amount of profit than he himself deserves.

If it were that simple then there would hardly be any wage workers, everyone would just open their own little business.

The reality is that the business owner bears uncompareably larger risks and responsibilites then his workers. If the business gues under, the workers will be only out of their jobs, it's really not that much of a problem to find a new one if you have skills and experience.

The business owner on the other hand will not only lose his source of income, but will also have liabilities to pay. If you're a wage worker, you work a few hours a day, and the rest of the day + weekends is yours, a business owner has to worry about all sorts of shit 24/7.

If you knew any business owners, maybe you'd have an idea how stressful their work is, and how arrogant the idea that they don't deserve the fruit of their work and risks is.

 

About them co-operatives.

If they really are a better model, why do you think they haven't become dominant in our economies? If they really are better they should heavy easily outcompeted normal companies.


Zhwazi
Zhwazi's picture
Posts: 459
Joined: 2006-10-06
User is offlineOffline
Ivan_Ivanov wrote:About

Ivan_Ivanov wrote:

About them co-operatives.

If they really are a better model, why do you think they haven't become dominant in our economies? If they really are better they should heavy easily outcompeted normal companies.

Should have. Enter state, corporatism, bribery, favoritism, elitism, public schools, limited liability, tax advantages, et cetera, and you tend to get a market controlled by a relative handful of people.

What we have today is not a product of free market, and is not to be defended as if it were the product of a free market.


Ivan_Ivanov
Ivan_Ivanov's picture
Posts: 126
Joined: 2006-09-10
User is offlineOffline
Zhwazi wrote: Should have.

Zhwazi wrote:
Should have. Enter state, corporatism, bribery, favoritism, elitism, public schools, limited liability, tax advantages, et cetera, and you tend to get a market controlled by a relative handful of people.

What we have today is not a product of free market, and is not to be defended as if it were the product of a free market.

Good point, but it's not like the relative handful controlls the market completely, or even mostly.

There are still lots of little and medium sized businesses, why aren't mos, or at least a significant part of them co-operatives?


Zhwazi
Zhwazi's picture
Posts: 459
Joined: 2006-10-06
User is offlineOffline
Ivan_Ivanov wrote: Good

Ivan_Ivanov wrote:
Good point, but it's not like the relative handful controlls the market completely, or even mostly.

Actually yes. 

Quote:
There are still lots of little and medium sized businesses, why aren't mos, or at least a significant part of them co-operatives?

Because of the same centralizing effect working on a smaller scale. 


Ivan_Ivanov
Ivan_Ivanov's picture
Posts: 126
Joined: 2006-09-10
User is offlineOffline
Zhwazi wrote: Because of

Zhwazi wrote:
Because of the same centralizing effect working on a smaller scale.

Could you elaborate on this a bit?

I can easily see how corporations can use their money to influence politicians to give them advantages over other businesses... but on a smaller scale?


Zhwazi
Zhwazi's picture
Posts: 459
Joined: 2006-10-06
User is offlineOffline
The same way gravity works

The same way gravity works between the Sun and Moon but at the same time holds entire galaxies together and pulls them together.

Most of the effect on the smaller scale I would attribute to the mindset people have out of school. Do what everybody else is doing, get a job with a company that'll hire you and offer good benefits, go to college so you can get thousands of dollars into debt so you're dependent upon your boss, et cetera. Someone with that mindset, one which is generated by public schools and schooling hysteria and such as created by the state, will tend to start up a company just like every other company, where they own it and manage it exclusively, and they hire people for a wage or salary to work for them, and almost everybody else will have the mindset that they should work for them.

It's the self-fulfilling prophecy that "this is the way it is and the way it will stay".

Or for a more economics-based example, a small company can hire a good dedicated tax specialist that'll get them every exception and deduction they can possibly get, while a sole proprietor will probably just go to H&R block. He may qualify for all the same exemptions but won't get them because he doesn't have someone that knows the business and what can and can't qualify as well as someone hired just for that purpose. 


qbg
Posts: 298
Joined: 2006-11-22
User is offlineOffline
qbg wrote: What is wrong

qbg wrote:
What is wrong with communist economics? Well, what is communist economics? It couldn't be central planning conducted from a state because communism is stateless.

So... what would stop people from just participating in free market capitalism?

Would you rather work for someone that take a good chunk of what you produce (this chunk is called profit) or would you rather keep that chunk?

 So, they could participate in capitalism, but it wouldn't be very sucessful...

"What right have you to condemn a murderer if you assume him necessary to "God's plan"? What logic can command the return of stolen property, or the branding of a thief, if the Almighty decreed it?"
-- The Economic Tendency of Freethought


Ivan_Ivanov
Ivan_Ivanov's picture
Posts: 126
Joined: 2006-09-10
User is offlineOffline
qbg wrote: Would you rather

qbg wrote:
Would you rather work for someone that take a good chunk of what you produce (this chunk is called profit) or would you rather keep that chunk?

So, they could participate in capitalism, but it wouldn't be very sucessful...

What do you mean?

Working for someone that takes a chunk of what I produce, and keeping it for myself, are both examples of free market capitalism. 


Ivan_Ivanov
Ivan_Ivanov's picture
Posts: 126
Joined: 2006-09-10
User is offlineOffline
Zhwazi wrote:

Zhwazi wrote:
It's the self-fulfilling prophecy that "this is the way it is and the way it will stay".

Again, good point and I agree that a lot of stupid things in our society are happening becuase of this attitude.

Still, I remain unconvinced about the efficiency of co-operatives. I'd be happy to be proven wrong, if it happened on a free market, thing is our Marxist friend wants to force them on people.

My argument was just a different way of asking "If there are only a few examples of functioning co-operatives, how do you know they will be succesful on a large scale, and on what grounds do you want to force people to subisidize them?".


Zhwazi
Zhwazi's picture
Posts: 459
Joined: 2006-10-06
User is offlineOffline
Quote: What do you

Quote:
What do you mean?

Working for someone that takes a chunk of what I produce, and keeping it for myself, are both examples of free market capitalism.

He means the "rent" that the owner of the means of production you use takes out of your earned income. The capitalist's "profit" is money your efforts contributed to that you didn't get.

Quote:
If there are only a few examples of functioning co-operatives, how do you know they will be succesful on a large scale, and on what grounds do you want to force people to subisidize them?

I don't want them to be subsidized, but other than that, basic reasoning. The elimination of bureaucracy would contribute to their efficiency. The fact that they don't rent, they own, the tools they use means they'll be more likely to take good care of them. Their income is more directly related to their performance, meaning they'll have a good incentive to work better/smarter/harder, they'll be able to experiment and learn what works better and what doesn't with more direct feedback. It's similar to Mises calculation argument against what-he-called-socialism, the better your information, the less guesswork you're using, the more efficient and productive your consequential actions will be. A boss paying you a wage gives you a best-guess price and doesn't change it as your productivity goes up except once a year or so because it's expected.

Co-operatives have none of these problems. I personally think they'd be outnumbered grossly by sole proprietors but a sole proprietorship building a bridge doesn't seem as likely.


Ivan_Ivanov
Ivan_Ivanov's picture
Posts: 126
Joined: 2006-09-10
User is offlineOffline
Zhwazi wrote: He means the

Zhwazi wrote:
He means the "rent" that the owner of the means of production you use takes out of your earned income. The capitalist's "profit" is money your efforts contributed to that you didn't get.

Right but it doesn't matter if I sign a contract with a capitalist that will allow me to work on his equipment in return for me letting him keep the profit, or if I buy the equipment myself and work on it, or if I buy it with a few other guys and we start a co-operative.

None of those contradict free market capitalism, so what is his (and your) point? 

 

Quote:
Co-operatives have none of these problems. I personally think they'd be outnumbered grossly by sole proprietors but a sole proprietorship building a bridge doesn't seem as likely.

If you're right it's really fine by me, as long as no one is forced into it.

I don't wish to argue about what sort of business model would be adapted in a completely free market, because I think it's beyond what I can know, or even reasonably guess.

Ultimately my point is that if co-operatives really are better, there is no need to subsidize them or enforce any regulations, they will form on their own. 


Zhwazi
Zhwazi's picture
Posts: 459
Joined: 2006-10-06
User is offlineOffline
Ivan_Ivanov wrote: Right

Ivan_Ivanov wrote:
Right but it doesn't matter if I sign a contract with a capitalist that will allow me to work on his equipment in return for me letting him keep the profit, or if I buy the equipment myself and work on it, or if I buy it with a few other guys and we start a co-operative.

None of those contradict free market capitalism, so what is his (and your) point?

None of them contradict "free market", but "capitalism" implies wage labor to be the dominant form. There is such a thing as "free-market anti-capitalism". A cooperative is not "capitalistic" like wage labor is. I know it's an awkward redefinition for someone that equates capitalism with free market (I had to get over that too), but if you take a moment to try to understand the wierd definitions you'll see the point that's trying to be made.

Quote:
If you're right it's really fine by me, as long as no one is forced into it.

Of course not, that's not what I advocate. But I only speak for myself.

Quote:
I don't wish to argue about what sort of business model would be adapted in a completely free market, because I think it's beyond what I can know, or even reasonably guess.

It's not beyond what we can reasonably guess at all. Certainly our positions would have to change if we saw it put into practice and it didn't turn out as we expected, but that doesn't mean we can't guess with a reasonable level of certainty. A corporation has institutional inefficiencies that would make them less competitive than co-operatives.

Quote:
Ultimately my point is that if co-operatives really are better, there is no need to subsidize them or enforce any regulations, they will form on their own.

That's my prediction. I never said they should be subsidized or regulated.


Ivan_Ivanov
Ivan_Ivanov's picture
Posts: 126
Joined: 2006-09-10
User is offlineOffline
Zhwazi wrote:

Zhwazi wrote:
None of them contradict "free market", but "capitalism" implies wage labor to be the dominant form. There is such a thing as "free-market anti-capitalism". A cooperative is not "capitalistic" like wage labor is. I know it's an awkward redefinition for someone that equates capitalism with free market

I don't equate capitalism with a free market, and I don't equate it with wage labour either.

I'm perfectly aware that there can be, and indeed what we mostly have now is un-free market capitalism.

Yeah sometimes I just say 'capitalism' to keep it short, but when I see there might be a danger of misunderstanding I do specify what I mean by adding 'free market' to it.

Quote:
Of course not, that's not what I advocate. But I only speak for myself.

Then there is nothing we can argue about, I agree with you completely.

Quote:
It's not beyond what we can reasonably guess at all. Certainly our positions would have to change if we saw it put into practice and it didn't turn out as we expected, but that doesn't mean we can't guess with a reasonable level of certainty.

Maybe we can, but I don't feel I have enough knowledge to deal with it.

Quote:
A corporation has institutional inefficiencies that would make them less competitive than co-operatives.

You don't have to tell me about institutional inefficiencies of corporations, I've seen more then enough of them at the place I work at, and I haven't seen all that much either.

These things are virtually identitcal to beaurocracies we had during the communist years.

I'm just not convinced co-operatives are such a hot idea. If it turns out I'm wrong, sweet!


CrimsonEdge
CrimsonEdge's picture
Posts: 499
Joined: 2007-01-02
User is offlineOffline
Communism only works in

Communism only works in communities/time periods that are not effected (affected?) by an outside source. Great communisms would consist of the eskimos, some native american tribes, and I'm sure a shitton of other tribes that did not trade with others... or if they did, it was not with a currency.

Introduce a currency in which one lives by and communism falls apart. In order for communism to be successfull there needs to be a nationaly high income coupled with a miniscule number of people in the country. This also requires everyone to work, usually unequally, which is one reason why communism just doesn't work on a national scale.

Communism in small, rural communities where there is minimal trade with the outside world? Absolutely. On a national scale? Absolutely not.


Ivan_Ivanov
Ivan_Ivanov's picture
Posts: 126
Joined: 2006-09-10
User is offlineOffline
You didn't say a word of

You didn't say a word of explanation why communism can't exist if there's currency used for trading, or why it can't work on a larger scale, or why anything you said is true.

 Also, are you aware that I mean communism as specifically countries like North Korea or the Soviet Union, not any kind of theoretical communism?


CrimsonEdge
CrimsonEdge's picture
Posts: 499
Joined: 2007-01-02
User is offlineOffline
Ivan_Ivanov wrote: You

Ivan_Ivanov wrote:

You didn't say a word of explanation why communism can't exist if there's currency used for trading, or why it can't work on a larger scale, or why anything you said is true.

Also, are you aware that I mean communism as specifically countries like North Korea or the Soviet Union, not any kind of theoretical communism?

 

I didn't say a communism can't exist if there is a currency used for trade. I stated that it won't work. The reason it won't work is because carrots aren't worth as much as medicine or a physical exam. What I mean by this is that you have people with very specialized fields of study, such as medicine (wich would be required for any country to flourish), getting payed as much as farmers and garbage men.

In essense, introducing a currency, as a means of trade, reduces the want to work for ones check as no matter how hard or little you work, you sitll get the same amount of money, especially if you're somebody like a garbage man. If one continues to use a bartering system purely based on goods then the need for work is more apparent and it is obvious for the greater good. Again, in the state of the world we live in now, this would only work in small, isolated areas where little to no currency is used.

To go on further, I'll give a real world example.

In the U.S. we have a problem with welfare. In short, people amass a large amount of children, put them on their welfare card, and get a check which to live by. When you introduce a way to earn free money, most people will take the free money over working for it.

Also, since you aren't talking about any sort of theoretical situation, I'll put some more real world examples into the mix.

1. Natural Disasters. Absolutely devastating if they happen on an industrial part of a country, or even a large farming community. 

2. War. War takes people out of the work force by either forced recruitment, volunteers, or death which, in the long run, lets less people work which, in the long run, brings down the gross national income of the country... not including funding the war.

3. Strikes/Revolts/Uprisings. Stuff like this happens. People get tired of a system they seem unfair and will usually rise up against it. You'll probably see something like this happen with people in jobs that require more skills than others. I.E. Doctors. 

Just to name a few. Take out a national currency, seperate people into groups (probably done from small town to small town), and have them each fend for themselves in regards to how much they produce. If one group is having some problems or has suffered a disaster, then the more productful groups share some of their goods with the less productful. This would work untill a War or MAJOR disaster happened.


Jacob Cordingley
SuperfanBronze Member
Jacob Cordingley's picture
Posts: 1484
Joined: 2007-03-18
User is offlineOffline
Zhwazi wrote: Jacob

Zhwazi wrote:
Jacob Cordingley wrote:

This of course is one of the benefits of the market economy (please note when I say market economy I do not mean the same as market capitalism...My problem with market capitalism is the capitalism. Capitalism makes the market's form of natural selection as violent and bloody as the biological natural selection of genes.

What do you think of hyper-entrepreneurial markets? The entrepreneur owns his own means of production and doesn't have his labor alienated, and it doesn't depend on the whims of a "capitalist" class and their handing out of "jobs", just the demands of the consumers. It would be more difficult for a belligerent warmongering government to take control of also.

Of course, he is not alienated from the product of his labour, nor the profit of the labour, but it does not account for alienation from your fellow man, nor the brutality of selective pressure. I can certainly see how it is better once wage-labour is eliminated, but I can't see it as an ideal. There are big problems here also, what you get is every man for himself. Driving out competition, huge risks, loss of income, and perhaps even being force into wage-labour by the victor of any given conquest. It seems something akin to a Hobbesian state of nature and Hegel's account of the master/slave relationship. You would inevitably end up with a rising oligarchy and provide a force by which such an oligarchy could easily come to power through.

I also fail to see how a free market would actually lead to this. Perhaps if you had a free market where every man begins on an equal footing then such an entrepreneurial market would be possible, but the fact is that this is not the case. If you were to free the market the rich corporations would be given the power. You already have the elites. These have existed since before the capitalist period. Those who were active in the early mercantile markets and the aristocracy started with an advantage.

 

Zhwazi wrote:
Quote:
I think the market is a fantastic thing, productive and versatile and responsive. However it is also a dangerous force when let to run free. If left to its own devices the consequences can be disasterous: poverty, resulting in crime, psychological problems and a whole host of problems caused by poverty.

I said earlier in the thread that I find this an unlikely result of a freed market, which would tend toward mass entrepreneurship and cooperatives instead of bureaucratic and elitist corporations. A society not dependent upon the "jobs" given out by the elite, and which responds to consumer demand directly would have no problems getting people sources of income and the amount of income they deserve.

This has already been addressed.

Zhwazi wrote:
Quote:
The bigger co-operatives would force smaller co-operatives out of business by offering lower prices and gaining monopolies over whole areas of industry and commerce

I don't believe this to be true. Co-operatives are not corporations. A branch of a corporation could never break off and become it's own corporation by it's own efforts and profitability (that would just make it more valuable to the corporate owners). In the case of co-operatives this wouldn't be true. Without the corporatist centralizing effect of the state, there comes a point of negative return on being bigger than the other guy. Size alone does not create efficiency along a linear trend. Even if a monopoly should come about, and prices be arbitrarily raised, it would be in the best interests of any portion of the co-operative to break away and undercut the rest of the co-operative to get all the customers, bidding the price back down. If my reasoning is flawed please point out where, but I don't believe bigger co-operatives could drive smaller co-operatives out of business just using the market.

You may have a point here.

Quote:
There must be a rule in such a possible state for there to be some level of democracy in every co-operative whether it be direct or representative

Assuming the truly free association of a truly freed market it wouldn't be necessary to have this. A co-operative mismanaged somehow would give less income than a well-managed one, and the better managed co-operative would tend to attract those workers. Under capitalism we don't see this because the centralizing effect the state has on the market limits the number of options for the worker, there's no reason that I see to assume this would continue to be the case in a market dominated by co-operatives.

I'm going from how some co-operatives operate today. You also have a good point here. One thing I would say for both this point and the last is that it can't hurt to be prepared for changes that may occur. Before 1998 there was no minimum wage act in this country but by convention there was, there is a parallel with this, but perhaps in the case of a sudden depression workers may have been forced to work for pittance as in the earlier years of capitalism. The minimum wage is a desirable thing as is democratic co-operative workplaces, and limits to the extent by which a co-operative could out-do another. These things might be a given normally but given any change they might not be.


Zhwazi
Zhwazi's picture
Posts: 459
Joined: 2006-10-06
User is offlineOffline
Jacob Cordingley wrote: Of

Jacob Cordingley wrote:

Of course, he is not alienated from the product of his labour, nor the profit of the labour, but it does not account for alienation from your fellow man, nor the brutality of selective pressure.

I don't understand what you mean by either. Please elaborate.

Quote:
I can certainly see how it is better once wage-labour is eliminated, but I can't see it as an ideal.

It is probably that I'm more individualistic. Hyper-entrepreneurialism is of course just a prediction that I believe will come true, I see it and co-operative enterprise the same status as both ideal, but for different things.

 

Quote:
There are big problems here also, what you get is every man for himself. Driving out competition, huge risks, loss of income, and perhaps even being force into wage-labour by the victor of any given conquest.

Driving out competition is easy for a centralized corporation which can simply buy more tools and employees to increase output, however it isn't the case when it's individuals competing. An alliance of entrepreneurs would be practically almost indistinguishable from a co-operative, and would be subject to the same forces. When the market is already so decentralized, I doubt it would come to be that competition is easily driven out. For that reason too, I don't see huge risks predominating in an economy without corporations dominating. Much of the huge risk in entrepreneurship is having already been muscled out by corporations and not finding out until you compete with them. Loss of income would be a potential problem under any situation, but less so a hyper-entrepreneurial economy. I can certainly see some benefit to forming co-operatives to reduce risk of loss, but if people choose to take that risk, that is their business, and it may turn out they are more successful that way.

Quote:
It seems something akin to a Hobbesian state of nature and Hegel's account of the master/slave relationship. You would inevitably end up with a rising oligarchy and provide a force by which such an oligarchy could easily come to power through.

There is a chance of this under any system, however I believe the constant breakaways would quickly fracture any such oligarchy.

Quote:
I also fail to see how a free market would actually lead to this. Perhaps if you had a free market where every man begins on an equal footing then such an entrepreneurial market would be possible, but the fact is that this is not the case. If you were to free the market the rich corporations would be given the power. You already have the elites. These have existed since before the capitalist period. Those who were active in the early mercantile markets and the aristocracy started with an advantage.

A good case can be made for an anarcho-syndicalist-style takeover of the largest firms, which would leave those "elites" with almost nothing. And as I predict it would happen there is a good chance of this happening.

Quote:
I'm going from how some co-operatives operate today. You also have a good point here. One thing I would say for both this point and the last is that it can't hurt to be prepared for changes that may occur. Before 1998 there was no minimum wage act in this country but by convention there was, there is a parallel with this, but perhaps in the case of a sudden depression workers may have been forced to work for pittance as in the earlier years of capitalism. The minimum wage is a desirable thing as is democratic co-operative workplaces, and limits to the extent by which a co-operative could out-do another. These things might be a given normally but given any change they might not be.

A problem with the minimum wage is that it may create unsatisfiable financial obligations on a co-operative, which might then have to be dissolved. I'd hate to see that happen and in many cases those working in the co-operative may prefer to accept lower-than-standard wages to the ending of the co-operative and not making anything at all, or having to go into another co-operative in the same boat. If it is possible for them to get more income in another co-operative they would naturally tend to go to the other co-operative, but if no co-operative anywhere (or few enough that it may be practically so) can meet the minimum wage it may prevent some people from finding work.


Jacob Cordingley
SuperfanBronze Member
Jacob Cordingley's picture
Posts: 1484
Joined: 2007-03-18
User is offlineOffline
Zhwazi wrote: Jacob

Zhwazi wrote:
Jacob Cordingley wrote:

Of course, he is not alienated from the product of his labour, nor the profit of the labour, but it does not account for alienation from your fellow man, nor the brutality of selective pressure.

I don't understand what you mean by either. Please elaborate.

This I've taken from Marx' 1844 Manuscripts (sometimes called The Economic and Philosophical Manuscripts) in specific section he calls Alienated Labour. It's late over here but I will try to explain in more detail next time I'm on. In the meantime search for this work, I'm sure it'll be available to read on the internet.

Zhwazi
Quote:
I can certainly see how it is better once wage-labour is eliminated, but I can't see it as an ideal.[/quote wrote:

It is probably that I'm more individualistic. Hyper-entrepreneurialism is of course just a prediction that I believe will come true, I see it and co-operative enterprise the same status as both ideal, but for different things.

I certainly see why someone can see that. I do believe the individual is extremely important in anything. I also believe that we as humans are social creatures also. One man cannot build a city, or even a building for that matter, all civilisation is built by mass co-operation (sometimes forced, sometimes volutary). I think it is also safe to say that humans in general enjoy working together co-operatively which is why a co-operative is the best division of labour for the happiness of the greatest number.  I do see no problem with some individualistic enterprise, especially when it comes to arts, crafts and specialist trades and there will always be room for that, perhaps even little cafes or shops. But I do not see it as a realistic outcome of a free market, nor a desirable one on a large scale (for reasons I've already mentioned)

 

Zhwazi wrote:
Quote:
There are big problems here also, what you get is every man for himself. Driving out competition, huge risks, loss of income, and perhaps even being force into wage-labour by the victor of any given conquest.

Driving out competition is easy for a centralized corporation which can simply buy more tools and employees to increase output, however it isn't the case when it's individuals competing. An alliance of entrepreneurs would be practically almost indistinguishable from a co-operative, and would be subject to the same forces. When the market is already so decentralized, I doubt it would come to be that competition is easily driven out. For that reason too, I don't see huge risks predominating in an economy without corporations dominating. Much of the huge risk in entrepreneurship is having already been muscled out by corporations and not finding out until you compete with them. Loss of income would be a potential problem under any situation, but less so a hyper-entrepreneurial economy. I can certainly see some benefit to forming co-operatives to reduce risk of loss, but if people choose to take that risk, that is their business, and it may turn out they are more successful that way.

I get your point about alliances of entrepreneurs being indistinguishable from co-operatives, and I agree with it. However a result of such a market might not create oligarchy through alliances but through takeovers. For example if you have a competition between two hardware shops, each owned and run by an individual man, there are several factors involved in the battle. Let us say that one man's shop is much better placed and gets more customers, the other man still gets some customers and makes a living. The first man however is earning more. The first man decides that he can lower his prices. He now gets more customers from the second mans shop because they want the same hardware cheaper. The second man cannot afford to compete, but sees no viable way of staying open. The first man has won the battle, what he can now do is offer to buy the second man's hardware shop. But the first man cannot run both shops by himself, so he can then offer the second man a wage in exchange for working in the first man's new (second man's old) shop, he isn't going to share the business because all of it is now his personal property. What we have here is a move towards corporate oligarchy no matter how small the microcosm and this can keep growing until we end up where we are today again.

Another thing: Correct me if I'm wrong. What you seem to have been saying is that freeing the market will naturally lead to individual entrepreneurialism. I do not see how this would get rid of the corporation, I can only see it strengthening corporations. In order for you to have your kind of economy you have to have a radical change, either by revolution or through the legislative means exactly the same as I do. Freeing the market will only strengthen corporations but clearly what both of us propose involves weakening them to a point where they cease to exist and the economies can be placed in the hands of the people.

Zhwazi wrote:
Quote:
It seems something akin to a Hobbesian state of nature and Hegel's account of the master/slave relationship. You would inevitably end up with a rising oligarchy and provide a force by which such an oligarchy could easily come to power through.

There is a chance of this under any system, however I believe the constant breakaways would quickly fracture any such oligarchy.

Quote:
I also fail to see how a free market would actually lead to this. Perhaps if you had a free market where every man begins on an equal footing then such an entrepreneurial market would be possible, but the fact is that this is not the case. If you were to free the market the rich corporations would be given the power. You already have the elites. These have existed since before the capitalist period. Those who were active in the early mercantile markets and the aristocracy started with an advantage.

A good case can be made for an anarcho-syndicalist-style takeover of the largest firms, which would leave those "elites" with almost nothing. And as I predict it would happen there is a good chance of this happening.

I'm not familiar with this doctrine. Would you care to elaborate?

Zhwazi wrote:
Quote:
I'm going from how some co-operatives operate today. You also have a good point here. One thing I would say for both this point and the last is that it can't hurt to be prepared for changes that may occur. Before 1998 there was no minimum wage act in this country but by convention there was, there is a parallel with this, but perhaps in the case of a sudden depression workers may have been forced to work for pittance as in the earlier years of capitalism. The minimum wage is a desirable thing as is democratic co-operative workplaces, and limits to the extent by which a co-operative could out-do another. These things might be a given normally but given any change they might not be.

A problem with the minimum wage is that it may create unsatisfiable financial obligations on a co-operative, which might then have to be dissolved. I'd hate to see that happen and in many cases those working in the co-operative may prefer to accept lower-than-standard wages to the ending of the co-operative and not making anything at all, or having to go into another co-operative in the same boat. If it is possible for them to get more income in another co-operative they would naturally tend to go to the other co-operative, but if no co-operative anywhere (or few enough that it may be practically so) can meet the minimum wage it may prevent some people from finding work.

A way round this problem is that there can be state requirements for the size of a co-op to be somewhat proportional to it's income i.e. it may not overhire or underhire within certain guidelines (based upon the current economic situation of the state's economy and subject to change). There will always be firings when they are needed in any organisation, hopefully not too drastically. Of course there should always be a safety net of dole payments.

I wasn't actually meaning to go into minimum wage arguments in the paragraph you quoted, I was talking more about being prepared to help people out in times of uncertainty, but it is an important point to touch on.

Thanks for replying, even though we come from two different angles there is actually a lot we have in common, and it's very interesting to talk about hypothetical economics.


Ivan_Ivanov
Ivan_Ivanov's picture
Posts: 126
Joined: 2006-09-10
User is offlineOffline
CrimsonEdge wrote: I didn't

CrimsonEdge wrote:
I didn't say a communism can't exist if there is a currency used for trade. I stated that it won't work. The reason it won't work is because carrots aren't worth as much as medicine or a physical exam. What I mean by this is that you have people with very specialized fields of study, such as medicine (wich would be required for any country to flourish), getting payed as much as farmers and garbage men.

But eliminating currency won't solve this problem one bit. You'd still have to pay everyone the same in terms of carrots and medical services instead of dolars, or pay them differently, but then the whole equality aspect of communism goes out the window.

 

Quote:
Also, since you aren't talking about any sort of theoretical situation, I'll put some more real world examples into the mix.

Thanks, but that's not what I asked for.

Soviet Union, North Korea, Eastern Europe, what is/was wrong with them?


Jacob Cordingley
SuperfanBronze Member
Jacob Cordingley's picture
Posts: 1484
Joined: 2007-03-18
User is offlineOffline
Ivan wrote: Thanks, but

Ivan wrote:

Thanks, but that's not what I asked for.

Soviet Union, North Korea, Eastern Europe, what is/was wrong with them?

Sorry, we've been having another debate. I'll answer this question: Human Rights abuses, the rise of sociopathic dictators, too strong a state.


Ivan_Ivanov
Ivan_Ivanov's picture
Posts: 126
Joined: 2006-09-10
User is offlineOffline
Jacob Cordingley

Jacob Cordingley wrote:
Sorry, we've been having another debate. I'll answer this question: Human Rights abuses, the rise of sociopathic dictators, too strong a state.

Economically, what's wrong with them economically, that's what I asked in the original post. Of all those things I can agree that a strong state will lead to economic problems, but then thing is socialists want a strong state too, so how is the welfare state some people argue for better - economically - then the countries I mentioned.


Jacob Cordingley
SuperfanBronze Member
Jacob Cordingley's picture
Posts: 1484
Joined: 2007-03-18
User is offlineOffline
The problem economically is

The problem economically is that the state not only controlled it but entirely monopolised it. Yes, socialists favour strong states, but only relative to what exists today, i.e. a capitalist market that is given free reign to run amock. I would say an economy that is regulated to make sure that people are happy, is not the same as an economy that is controlled, monopolised and manipulated by the state. All I'm after is balance.


Ivan_Ivanov
Ivan_Ivanov's picture
Posts: 126
Joined: 2006-09-10
User is offlineOffline
Jacob Cordingley wrote: I

Jacob Cordingley wrote:
I would say an economy that is regulated to make sure that people are happy, is not the same as an economy that is controlled, monopolised and manipulated by the state. All I'm after is balance.

Then you have to show that this balance doesn't introduce the same problems as a completely state controlled economy, but on a smaller scale, that it solves any percieved problems of capitalism, not to mention that you have to show what those problems are (in both capitalism and communism) and what they are caused by.

All of this should be shown economically, not philosophically. 


Jacob Cordingley
SuperfanBronze Member
Jacob Cordingley's picture
Posts: 1484
Joined: 2007-03-18
User is offlineOffline
I'm no economist I must

I'm no economist I must admit, but I will try and explain it in layman's terms (because that's probably all I'm capable of doing without the correct economic jargon. First, I want to justify the philosophical approach to this issue.

The purpose of any economic system is trade, particularly in goods and resources that benefit people's lives. One question which we have to take into account in any situation is an ethical one. We can discuss the justifications for morality or whatnot elsewhere. I will put it bluntly and matter-of-factly: we have moral responsibilities to the interests of sentient beings, particularly human beings. Let us start with a very basic Utilitarian principle: "The greatest good for the greatest number" coupled with Mill's harm principle (or a consequentialist approach). We have an obligation to find a state of affairs (in this case economic) which benefits the most people, not just the rich and powerful. We have to argue it philosophically too because it is concerned with the field of ethics.

Of course you can't just go about putting anything which seems free and fair in place and expect it to work. As in biology you have to have an evolutionarily stable strategy (ESS), something that will work and not break down in an instant. This may be fair or unfair, economically this doesn't matter. But if we had a choice between two ESS's (bear in mind human beings have the capability to control the future by artificial conscious selection) then should we pick  one that is ethically sound over one that is not so? Even if the ethical one is not quite as good at producing profits, would that be a good enough reason not to choose it if it were an ESS?

I will now look at the Economic strategies that have been mentioned and look at them critically.

Capitalism:

So far I have not dealt fully with the problems that Capitalism throws up economically, only ethically. I will attempt to show that it onle appears to be an ESS in the short term but cannot survive in the long term. Before the 1930s it was thought that Capitalism was a fundamentally weak system. There was constant fluxuations between boom and bust ending in the Wall Street Crash of 1929 and the depression that followed into the 30s. The reason for this was quite simple. In the non-disposable goods there might be a boom in sales, say in some kind of electrical good like a telephone. Once everyone had a telephone, there would be no more demand for it, the manufacturer would be forced to shut down leaving workers impoverished and out of work (bear in mind this would probably happen in parallel with various non-disposable goods industries). With people out of work they would be less able to afford the disposable items (like food) and this would have a knock on effect on those industries who would struggle to cope with the losses in profits.

There has then been a useful adaptation. This is called in-built obsolescence, meaning that products are not manufactured to survive for long periods of time. They could if the wanted produce light-bulbs that lasted forever, but then they would run out of a market for lightbulbs. In parallel the cultural invention of the teenager (a young person with different tastes and interests to their parents) has accelerated the evolution of consumer products, whether it be clothes, mobile phones, glasses, even music in adaption to an ever changing market. Products will become fashionably obsolete if they haven't already become physically obsolete. The problem with this is waste. An unstable system is propped up on an unstable environmental crutch.   

In both the new and the old forms of Capitalism there is another environmental problem coming from the need of retailers to attract customers by having full shelves. This is overproduction. In the past this would have also been coupled with the problem of the loss of a market once they had sold to everyone. In both forms of capitalism, the boom and bust and the environmental crutch there is a vast amount of waste created although more so now.

Command Economy:

By this I mean the state run economy. The problem with this is that it is unflexible to supply and demand and can be used to suit the purposes of those in charge very easily since it is entirely controlled from one place. It can however prove very effective economically, generating revenue to be pumped straight back into it. If it were carried out wholly benevolently in peace time it would be fine, for all involved, and would probably work much better. The problem is there is no way of guaranteeing benevolency, just as you couldn't guarantee that a dictator would be benevolent (which could actually be a good thing) the problem is checks and balances.

Co-operativist markets:

Here you have what is in my view the best alternative. It is workable, responds to the market as easily as the capitalist market. It is also an ESS, like capitalist markets since the ESS part of capitalism is the market. The command economy is also a form of capitalism, but one without a market.

In my model there has to be state control over the managing of the market. By this I mean not necessarily restraining it, but preventing the damaging side effects of any ruthless competition and setting laws for the management of co-ops, wage-member ratios, minimum wages and codes of practice for democratic rule dependant on the size of the organisation.

I haven't quite worked out the environmental implications of it. In theory it could be as bad as capitalism in in-built obsolescense. However, being more democratically organised it has a greater capacity for benevolence than the ravaging of the environment we currently see by powerful corporations for short term gains.

 

 


rational_terp
Posts: 42
Joined: 2007-07-17
User is offlineOffline
darth_josh wrote: Stalin

darth_josh wrote:

Stalin was faced with a world war and responded the best that he could. He did well. I don't think he would have been half the asshole that we made him to be post WW2. Too much time trying to keep pace with the western war machines despite the promise of peace would drive any man nuts in my opinion.

 

I just cannot leave this statement without a response.

Stalin established a system of state terrorism in the Soviet Union against its own people long before WW2. It resulted in millions of deaths. Just look at the Great Terror 1937/38, the intentional created famine in the Ukraine in 1932/33, the Gulag system, the show trials, ... Using the term "half the asshole" is an insult against his victims.

And since you mentioned WW2: In the years before the war he managed to kill the entire leadership of his own army.


Ivan_Ivanov
Ivan_Ivanov's picture
Posts: 126
Joined: 2006-09-10
User is offlineOffline
Jacob Cordingley

Jacob Cordingley wrote:
Even if the ethical one is not quite as good at producing profits, would that be a good enough reason not to choose it if it were an ESS?

Well, while I agree that taking responsibility for the well beeing of another person is ethical, I disagree that forcing this responsibility on others is.

I also don't understand how you determine wheter or not a system is ESS.

Quote:
Before the 1930s it was thought that Capitalism was a fundamentally weak system.

Could you give a source for that?

Quote:
There was constant fluxuations between boom and bust ending in the Wall Street Crash of 1929 and the depression that followed into the 30s. The reason for this was quite simple. In the non-disposable goods there might be a boom in sales, say in some kind of electrical good like a telephone. Once everyone had a telephone, there would be no more demand for it, the manufacturer would be forced to shut down leaving workers impoverished and out of work (bear in mind this would probably happen in parallel with various non-disposable goods industries). With people out of work they would be less able to afford the disposable items (like food) and this would have a knock on effect on those industries who would struggle to cope with the losses in profits.


I'm affraid your diagnosis is incorrect.
The boom-bust cycle was never en element of a free market economy. As a widespread phenomenon it started around the late 18'th century, and it can always be traced to artificial manipulation of the money supply.
Basically when the money supply is artificially expanded, people are lead to believe there is more wealth then there really is. People buy things they otherwise wouldn't, and entrepreneurs invest in projects they otherwise wouldn't, at this point you have a boom.
But when the amount of real wealth gets verified, people see they've bought beyond their means, and that the new investment shouldn't have taken place and gets liquidated, at which point you have a bust and a recession.
In the late 18'th century various governments started playing around with the monetary system. Private banks were given local monopolies on creating currency, this in turn lead to expansion of the money supply and the boom-bust cycle.
The whole system has reached a culmination point with the establishment of the Federal Reserve (or other national banks in other countries), which had the power to control the money throughout the entire land. This has caused the problem to grow in an unprecedented rate, and finally resulted in the Great Depression.

The mechanism you described couldn't possibly cause a boom-bust cycle, because there is no reason why temporary employment and production would lead to a recession.
If you assume you have a stable economy, and suddenly a person comes up with the idea to make a telephone that everyone wants to buy.
Even after he would have sold it to everyone, and would now have to shut down his new business, it would not cause any problems to people employed outside his business, as for him and his employees, if they had no idea how to further develop their business, they would simply return to what they did before they started making telephones.

Quote:
There has then been a useful adaptation. This is called in-built obsolescence, meaning that products are not manufactured to survive for long periods of time. They could if the wanted produce light-bulbs that lasted forever, but then they would run out of a market for lightbulbs.

Really?
I don't know what kind of light bulbs you use, but it has been years since the last time I changed mine.
Also, what about things we by that are vritually indestructible, like screwdrivers, hammers, wrenches... unless you loose one there probably won't be a reason to buy another one for the rest of your life, yet there still is a market for them.

Built in obsolescence is a myth as far as I know, there are goods of high quality, which you hardly ever have to replace, they only cost more.
I agree that they are less available then they were in the past, and that we're constantly beeing served with goods of poorer and poorer quality, but the reason for this isn't anything inherent to the free market, it's because of inflation.
Because of rising prices producers are forced to either rise the price of their product, or cut their costs, and one way of doing this is decreasing the quality of their merchendise.
The process is fairly slow so you won't see this happening on a year-to-year basis, but after a decade or two you start to see the difference.

Quote:
It can however prove very effective economically, generating revenue to be pumped straight back into it.

What do you mean by that?

Quote:
The problem is there is no way of guaranteeing benevolency, just as you couldn't guarantee that a dictator would be benevolent (which could actually be a good thing) the problem is checks and balances.

The main problem is what you described as inellasticity to supply and demand.
More specifically, the problem is that without prices from a market system, that show the availability and need for goods relative to eachother, there is no rational way to the determine what goods should be produced, and where to allocate resources.

Quote:
In my model there has to be state control over the managing of the market. By this I mean not necessarily restraining it, but preventing the damaging side effects of any ruthless competition and setting laws for the management of co-ops, wage-member ratios, minimum wages and codes of practice for democratic rule dependant on the size of the organisation.

But this causes the same problems command economy does, tough maybe to a smaller degree.
If you enforce minimum wage laws for instance, this will distort the price of labour, causing the co-operatives to hire the type of workers who are not the most efficient under current market conditions, and also causing unemployment.
Wage-member ratios, if I understood correctly what you mean by this, would have a similiar effect, only this time because of the cap on the amount of money they can earn, they will not know how much a certain kind of work is more valuable then the other, and therefore won't know if they should requalify.


Kimmerling
Posts: 3
Joined: 2008-01-19
User is offlineOffline
like a loaf of bread

Why do we always describe these things like they are absolutes? When you bake bread you don't just use flower, right? So why would we act like one government is just capatalist, another is just communits, and so on. All foms of government are like a loaf of bread, they have several ingredients.


FulltimeDefendent
Scientist
FulltimeDefendent's picture
Posts: 455
Joined: 2007-10-02
User is offlineOffline
Communism is a Religion

Replace Jesus with the Proletariat and the Kingdom of Heaven with pure communism, and you can see how communism is essentially messianic. It's structurally very similar to Christianity.

“It is true that in the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king. It is equally true that in the land of the blind, the two-eyed man is an enemy of the state, the people, and domestic tranquility… and necessarily so. Someone has to rearrange the furniture.”