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the fallacy of communism

Christofer

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anomaly said:
There is no truth to this statement. I highly doubt Britain's economy is' half' planned, and I know for a fact that France's government does not own all businesses. Are you telling me that France has no fast food restaurants (which would be private businesses)?
Fast food isn't a private business, and just go to the cia world factbook and its in thier. By me saying its half socialist is just another way to speak of thier situation, were the government owns plenty of industries, mainly utilities, but thier are also privatly owned businesses.
 

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Christofer said:
Frances government owns all businesses. England is a half socialism. you should go thier yourself.
I do not wish to be insolent, but you are talking nonsense. Unless you can justify your claims with a coherent argument or at least make some relevant observations about what has been said already in this thread, there's no point in you making any comments at all.
 

Christofer

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Alan Ryan said:
I do not wish to be insolent, but you are talking nonsense. Unless you can justify your claims with a coherent argument or at least make some relevant observations about what has been said already in this thread, there's no point in you making any comments at all.
I admit i was wrong on france, it is just like britain. One reason i did say europe was socialistic, was a book i read, "Economic Ideoliges" which did say that europe is socialistic, but when i checked the publication date, it was 1964.
 

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anomaly said:
You only describe a very basic market. A market itself, a place in which to buy and sell goods, will exist in most any economic system. The free market, however, inevitably becomes an anarchic rush of production to gain profit (which is what the system is run by: the drive, need for profit). If we carry this through, Marx noticed a startling truth: If the capitalist gains, the worker may not do so (thanks largely to the drive or profit...if a capitalist makes a profit, he is then only concerned at either increaing or maintaining this profit...and this may be done by cutting his workforce or paying them less), but if the capitalist loses, the worker always follows him.
A market expresses the economic calculations of supply and demand. It is not an "anarchic rush of production" but an abstraction in which the prices of factors of production, labour, natural resources, and capital goods are determined. Every rational individual in an economy possesses knowledge about aspects of production techniques, sources of supply, etc., only some of which is also known by others. This knowledge is dispersed throughout an economy and is constantly changing. In a planned economy, the information available to the planners is only a tiny fraction of the vast amount which is "trapped" in the heads of the multitude. It's obvious, therefore, that a great deal of the information necessary to economic calculation is inaccessible to a single individual or even to a committee of planners. The market performs this function quite impersonally - i.e. economic calculation: thus a market price summarizes the diverse knowledge of millions of consumers (and producers) as they interact in the marketplace.
anomaly said:
I think you are quite wrong when saying the 'information' needed for economic planning is not available outside the 'free market'. This information can be attained without the 'magic' of the free market. It is simply based on sales, and tendencies of them over periods of time. You put forward the argument that the 'bureacracy' would make people lose incentive to 'use' information gathered. I simply do not see how this is so. Planning will mean that laborers will work less, generally, since the drive for profit is not the main drive any longer (the 'rule' of capital is overthrown). Replacing it is the drive for efficiency (which a 'free' market noticeably lacks). The way to prevent the 'bureacratization' of economic life is to simply limit the levels of the bureacracy. Back when I used to strongly want only socialism, I narrowed these levels to: workplace, local, regional, and federal/national. And the only two levels that would plan things extensively would be the bottom two, working together with the upper levels to do so.
Prices represent information about market conditions and are indispensable signals for the pursuance of economic activity. The price of any product or service etc., is subject to a daily plebiscite of consumers. The very act of buying a commodity at a particular price signals the producer to continue manufacturing and selling this commodity. A producer does not have to know why people buy the goods they do, only that there is a demand for them.

Now the socialist manager cannot perform the economic calculation which is necessary to ensure enough goods are produced to satisfy demand: this is not only because consumers in a socialist economy have no indirect influence over prices, but also because the private manufacturer is no longer a factor in the economy and is not using the knowledge signals we call profits to guide the allocation of resources in efficient directions.

Can you now see why you are wrong to assert that the information which is used in the economic calculation can be aquired outside the "magic" of the free market ? There is nothing "magical" about the process I have tried to describe. However, I would qualify everything I've claimed or implied with the reminder that economics is not an exact science. What's more, I will admit that the philosophical basis of the economic calculation has a fatal flaw - which perhaps I can leave you to point out ?
 

anomaly

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Alan Ryan said:
A market expresses the economic calculations of supply and demand. It is not an "anarchic rush of production" but an abstraction in which the prices of factors of production, labour, natural resources, and capital goods are determined. Every rational individual in an economy possesses knowledge about aspects of production techniques, sources of supply, etc., only some of which is also known by others. This knowledge is dispersed throughout an economy and is constantly changing. In a planned economy, the information available to the planners is only a tiny fraction of the vast amount which is "trapped" in the heads of the multitude. It's obvious, therefore, that a great deal of the information necessary to economic calculation is inaccessible to a single individual or even to a committee of planners. The market performs this function quite impersonally - i.e. economic calculation: thus a market price summarizes the diverse knowledge of millions of consumers (and producers) as they interact in the marketplace.
It seems that unwittingly you've described a very centralized planned economy. In some new theories of socialist economies, panning begins with the individual, the worker, and expands upwards (much the way you claim a 'free' market system works). I too noticed the extremely impersonal nature of central planning, but with a localized planning system, the production planning becomes quite personal neccesarily. Prices can be determined by the labor theory of value. Initially, only quantitive labor is concerned (considering that all labor will be done under similar standards). After the good reaches the marketplace, obviously qualitative labor becomes more important; that is, the labor consumers find socially neccesary (demand, you would say).


Prices represent information about market conditions and are indispensable signals for the pursuance of economic activity. The price of any product or service etc., is subject to a daily plebiscite of consumers. The very act of buying a commodity at a particular price signals the producer to continue manufacturing and selling this commodity. A producer does not have to know why people buy the goods they do, only that there is a demand for them.

Now the socialist manager cannot perform the economic calculation which is necessary to ensure enough goods are produced to satisfy demand: this is not only because consumers in a socialist economy have no indirect influence over prices, but also because the private manufacturer is no longer a factor in the economy and is not using the knowledge signals we call profits to guide the allocation of resources in efficient directions.

Can you now see why you are wrong to assert that the information which is used in the economic calculation can be aquired outside the "magic" of the free market ? There is nothing "magical" about the process I have tried to describe. However, I would qualify everything I've claimed or implied with the reminder that economics is not an exact science. What's more, I will admit that the philosophical basis of the economic calculation has a fatal flaw - which perhaps I can leave you to point out ?
I agree with you here on prices, but I will point out that such a description of prices can be equally true under socialism. In socialism, the demand of products will neccesarily be looked at much more critically than it is in capitalism. In capitalism, capitalists will often misinterpret a low or steady demand-they will, in response to this, increase production, hoping to gain profit. If they do not do things this way, they will inevitably look for other ways to increase their profit, which will prove quite costly to workers.

Consumers in a socialist society do in fact have an indirect influence over prices. As I said, initially, prices are determined by the quantitative labor neccesary for the production of a particular good. Once this good hits the marketplace, it is only the consumer which can determine the qualitative value of a good. Prices must be adjusted accordingly, and production will change accordingly. The government, especially a democratic one (even if representative democracy) will use these 'knowledge' signals in a much more unbiased manner than do modern capitalists. As I said, capitalists interpret profits with one thing in mind: more potential profit. Local, regional, and even sometimes the federal government will move resources as needed (and as determined by the consumption habits of the public).

I will admit no such thing. And I seem to have failed to find the flaw you're referring to. What 'economic calculation' are you referring to? The one done under capitalism or socialism? Please explain yourself.
 

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anomaly said:
It seems that unwittingly you've described a very centralized planned economy. In some new theories of socialist economies, panning begins with the individual, the worker, and expands upwards (much the way you claim a 'free' market system works). I too noticed the extremely impersonal nature of central planning, but with a localized planning system, the production planning becomes quite personal neccesarily. Prices can be determined by the labor theory of value. Initially, only quantitive labor is concerned (considering that all labor will be done under similar standards). After the good reaches the marketplace, obviously qualitative labor becomes more important; that is, the labor consumers find socially neccesary (demand, you would say).
I don't think I've "unwittingly" described anything. I have tried, perhaps not as competently as might be desirable, to show that the economic calculation which is performed spontaneously by the market is impossible in a socialist economy because there is no way in which central planners can obtain the vital information ("produce this - not that") that is required in a coherent economy. If demand is taken out of the equation, the signaling mechanism which transmits information about rise and fall in prices cannot function and a centralised planning system must fail as a consequence.

I have of course been assuming a macro-economic perspective - the salient characteristics of which you say don't apply to a localised micro economy. At this level of activity, you allege that prices could be determined by the labor theory of value and that (initially) only quantitative labor is involved in that value. But this idea neglects any consideration of scarcity and must reduce the qualitative difference of labor to quantitative differences. So what you mean by claiming that all labor will be done under similar standards is not clear. What's more, the labor theory of value provides no prediction of price levels unless one already knows the surplus value accruing to the supplier of each commodity.

Assuming that a "community economy" has confiscated at least the means of production and that there is a multiplicity of these micro economies subsumed within a macro economy, how would the small scale be integrated within the large scale ? Think of the vast complexity of the US economy; how would the localised planning systems you have in mind fit into the big picture ? You must remember that a huge number of apparently necessary commodities are produced only because large scale economies of production make them available at an affordable price in a national/continental market.

anomaly said:
I agree with you here on prices, but I will point out that such a description of prices can be equally true under socialism. In socialism, the demand of products will neccesarily be looked at much more critically than it is in capitalism. In capitalism, capitalists will often misinterpret a low or steady demand-they will, in response to this, increase production, hoping to gain profit. If they do not do things this way, they will inevitably look for other ways to increase their profit, which will prove quite costly to workers.

Consumers in a socialist society do in fact have an indirect influence over prices. As I said, initially, prices are determined by the quantitative labor neccesary for the production of a particular good. Once this good hits the marketplace, it is only the consumer which can determine the qualitative value of a good. Prices must be adjusted accordingly, and production will change accordingly. The government, especially a democratic one (even if representative democracy) will use these 'knowledge' signals in a much more unbiased manner than do modern capitalists. As I said, capitalists interpret profits with one thing in mind: more potential profit. Local, regional, and even sometimes the federal government will move resources as needed (and as determined by the consumption habits of the public).
A planned system doesn't operate this way: consumer choice is, as it were, "second-guessed" by the planners. In a market society every individual mind is accorded a role in determining the quantities of monetary calculation. In their consumer roles, all people make monetary bids for the existing stocks of final goods according to their subjective valuations, leading to the emergence of objective monetary exchange ratios which relate the values of all consumer goods to one another. However, once private property in the nonhuman means of production is abolished, as it is under socialism, the process of subjective valuation must grind to a halt. In the absence of competitive bidding for productive resources by entrepreneurs, there is no possibility of assigning economic meaning to the amalgam of productive potential embodied in each of the myriad of natural resources and capital goods now in the hands of the socialist planners
anomaly said:
I will admit no such thing. And I seem to have failed to find the flaw you're referring to. What 'economic calculation' are you referring to? The one done under capitalism or socialism? Please explain yourself.
For the reasons I've given, the "economic calculation" I'm referring to is only possible in a market economy.

Here's the flaw that some see in the logical basis of the calculation problem: if the optimum settings for an economic activity are a mystery that planners cannot penetrate, how can it be known that the market can provide them ?
 
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anomaly

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Alan Ryan said:
I don't think I've "unwittingly" described anything. I have tried, perhaps not as competently as might be desirable, to show that the economic calculation which is performed spontaneously by the market is impossible in a socialist economy because there is no way in which central planners can obtain the vital information ("produce this - not that") that is required in a coherent economy. If demand is taken out of the equation, the signaling mechanism which transmits information about rise and fall in prices cannot function and a centralised planning system must fail as a consequence.
Have you been reading up on the Soviet economy? you seem to contuinually refer to the problems of centralized planning, even though I've consistently agreed that such impersonal planning will always be doomed to failure (as proven by almost every Stalinist nation during the 20th century). With localized planning, changes in production can be made much more quickly, and so demand can be used to determine the required supply. Tendencies can certainly be easily noticed in the sales of any particular good. Realize also that a socialist economy is still a market economy. It is not, however, a 'free market' economy. It is a planned market economy. You also seem to give the market these 'magic' qualities which I referred to earlier. No market can 'spontaneously' adjust to demand of goods. In capitalism, however, demand will inevitably be optimistically viewed, as the drive for profit is the most prvalent drive in capitalism. Or, if you like, as I said, demand will be looked at with a bias. With competition among capitalists, it becomes almost impossible to view sales objectively. With hopes of gaining a profit, surpluses in capitalims become inevitable, as well as deficits, and so with these comes the inevitability of eventual economic recession in capitalism, in which workers are often hurt the most. Regarding prices, as I explain, prices are determined simply by the qualitative value of the labor of any particular good (as decided by the consuming public).

Alan Ryan said:
I have of course been assuming a macro-economic perspective - the salient characteristics of which you say don't apply to a localised micro economy. At this level of activity, you allege that prices could be determined by the labor theory of value and that (initially) only quantitative labor is involved in that value. But this idea neglects any consideration of scarcity and must reduce the qualitative difference of labor to quantitative differences. So what you mean by claiming that all labor will be done under similar standards is not clear. What's more, the labor theory of value provides no prediction of price levels unless one already knows the surplus value accruing to the supplier of each commodity.

Assuming that a "community economy" has confiscated at least the means of production and that there is a multiplicity of these micro economies subsumed within a macro economy, how would the small scale be integrated within the large scale ? Think of the vast complexity of the US economy; how would the localised planning systems you have in mind fit into the big picture ? You must remember that a huge number of apparently necessary commodities are produced only because large scale economies of production make them available at an affordable price in a national/continental market.
There is simply no way to 'reduce' the qualitative differences of labor to quantitative, since qualitative differences are not determined by the laborer (and thus his quantitative labor) at all. Qualitative value is only determined by consumers (which can certainly be misleading). I am unclear as to what you mean by 'scarcity'. Do you mean scarcity in the production process of materials? Is this problem not eliminated, or atleast drastically reduced, with a nationalized economy, which, without extreme competition prevalent in capitalism, be able to freely move materials where they are needed? When I say that all labor is done under similar standards, I mean that with a nationalized economy, regulation of factories will exist, and so the conditions of labor will be similar, meaning that quantitative value can be used for pricing. Today, a car produced in Mexico may take longer to build than a car produced in the US, we have no standard (because of the free market). With a regulated economy, standards neccesarily exist. I am unclear also as to your referral to 'surplus value' within socialism. Surplus value is only seen in capitalism, since that is the value the capitalist assumes that should go to laborers (laborers always produce more value than they receive). In socialism, we should see surplus value disappear.

There are few items that must be produced by such large scale economies, and so must production, and thus planning, can be assumed by the local planning systems. But those that cannot will neccesarily be done by the federal or regional government (hopefully the latter, since we want planning to be extremely limited at the federal level). The way all this localized planning would fit into the 'big picture' is through a slimmed bureacracy (some socialists say a bureacracy would not be needed in socialism, but I see one as neccesary...but then again I often find myself disagreeing with socialists). That is, the bureacracy would only consist of four levels: the local workplace which would work closely with the next level, the local government; and then the regional government, which would essentially oversee this production, only interfering if a problem is noticed that has not been accounted for, and also for distributing raw materials to local workplaces as evenly as possible. The regional governments will be aided in such distribution by the federal government, which will oversee the work of the regional governments. The regional and federal governments also must assume such larger scale economies of production that you mention. These will, as stated, be limited.


AlanRyan said:
A planned system doesn't operate this way: consumer choice is, as it were, "second-guessed" by the planners. In a market society every individual mind is accorded a role in determining the quantities of monetary calculation. In their consumer roles, all people make monetary bids for the existing stocks of final goods according to their subjective valuations, leading to the emergence of objective monetary exchange ratios which relate the values of all consumer goods to one another. However, once private property in the nonhuman means of production is abolished, as it is under socialism, the process of subjective valuation must grind to a halt. In the absence of competitive bidding for productive resources by entrepreneurs, there is no possibility of assigning economic meaning to the amalgam of productive potential embodied in each of the myriad of natural resources and capital goods now in the hands of the socialist planners
You do yourself much trouble by so separating the consuming public from economic planners. The consuming public, most of whom are laborers, will have a large role in economic planning. I have in other discussions with capitalists described a system of workers in any workplace electing a spokesman from their workplace, who in turns works closely with an 'economist' (who acts as a bridge between these local workplaces and the local government) to determine production changes. This will involves almost all of the consuming public (I think all of them, just I will not be so all encompassing). Consumers have a large role in planning, and planners are also consumers.

AlanRyan said:
For the reasons I've given, the "economic calculation" I'm referring to is only possible in a market economy.

Here's the flaw that some see in the logical basis of the calculation problem: if the optimum settings for an economic activity are a mystery that planners cannot penetrate, how can it be known that the market can provide them ?
Why would the 'optimum settings' for economic activity be a mystery which the planners cannot penetrate? With minor 'tinkering' of production based on sales (which represent demand), this optimum setting will be reached (although it will likely disappear shortly, and that is why this 'tinkering' must happen often). Also, remember that a socialist economy is a market economy.
 

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anomaly said:
Have you been reading up on the Soviet economy? you seem to contuinually refer to the problems of centralized planning, even though I've consistently agreed that such impersonal planning will always be doomed to failure (as proven by almost every Stalinist nation during the 20th century). With localized planning, changes in production can be made much more quickly, and so demand can be used to determine the required supply. Tendencies can certainly be easily noticed in the sales of any particular good. Realize also that a socialist economy is still a market economy. It is not, however, a 'free market' economy. It is a planned market economy. You also seem to give the market these 'magic' qualities which I referred to earlier. No market can 'spontaneously' adjust to demand of goods. In capitalism, however, demand will inevitably be optimistically viewed, as the drive for profit is the most prvalent drive in capitalism. Or, if you like, as I said, demand will be looked at with a bias. With competition among capitalists, it becomes almost impossible to view sales objectively. With hopes of gaining a profit, surpluses in capitalims become inevitable, as well as deficits, and so with these comes the inevitability of eventual economic recession in capitalism, in which workers are often hurt the most. Regarding prices, as I explain, prices are determined simply by the qualitative value of the labor of any particular good (as decided by the consuming public).
I can't recall mentioning the Soviet Union in any of my responses so far; but it is understandable that you are anxious not to discuss centralised planning from the perspective of a macro economy. The only large scale command economy experiments - about which there is ample empirical data - are an embarrassment to the advocate of planned economic activity.

Your claim that a "socialist economy is still a market economy" looks like a paradox or perhaps an oxymoron: it's either a socialist economy or a market economy.

Since "free markets" are the summation of countless conscious, purposive actions, choices, and preferences of individuals, each trying to satisfy various wants and ends etc., there is no other way for the market to adjust to the complexity of these phenomena other than spontaneously.

Your assertions that in capitalism, demand will inevitably be optimistically viewed (with bias), and that it is impossible to to view sales objectively, and that surpluses in capitalism are inevitable, are all made as though they are self-evident truths which do not require the support of any evidence.


anomaly said:
I am unclear also as to your referral to 'surplus value' within socialism. Surplus value is only seen in capitalism, since that is the value the capitalist assumes that should go to laborers (laborers always produce more value than they receive). In socialism, we should see surplus value disappear
We do not need to enter into a theoretical discussion concerning "surplus value" at this juncture. If we simplify and call it the remaining value that the capitalist appropriates as profit after the subsistence costs of the worker have been paid and subtracted from the total value of the product - then it cannot disappear even in the localised planned economy you have in mind. If the costs of production were exactly matched by the selling price of a given commodity and no surplus value was factored into the process, there would no way in which capital could accumulate to fund innovation, development, and investment.

anomaly said:
The way all this localized planning would fit into the 'big picture' is through a slimmed bureacracy (some socialists say a bureacracy would not be needed in socialism, but I see one as neccesary...but then again I often find myself disagreeing with socialists). That is, the bureacracy would only consist of four levels: the local workplace which would work closely with the next level, the local government; and then the regional government, which would essentially oversee this production, only interfering if a problem is noticed that has not been accounted for, and also for distributing raw materials to local workplaces as evenly as possible. The regional governments will be aided in such distribution by the federal government, which will oversee the work of the regional governments. The regional and federal governments also must assume such larger scale economies of production that you mention. These will, as stated, be limited.
This description of the structure of localised planning and its integration with the national economy is an agreeable fantasy. It is not supported by any theory of human action (at least not one that you have made explicit), and in the absence of a price system would produce economic chaos. I fear your trust in the competence of bureaucrats is misplaced: the lack of incentive which is intrinsic to bureaucratic management leads to inertia at best and entropy at worst.
anomaly said:
You do yourself much trouble by so separating the consuming public from economic planners. The consuming public, most of whom are laborers, will have a large role in economic planning. I have in other discussions with capitalists described a system of workers in any workplace electing a spokesman from their workplace, who in turns works closely with an 'economist' (who acts as a bridge between these local workplaces and the local government) to determine production changes. This will involves almost all of the consuming public (I think all of them, just I will not be so all encompassing). Consumers have a large role in planning, and planners are also consumers.
The contingent fact that planners are also consumers is irrelevant to the question of viability and efficiency in the economic system you are trying to defend. ALL of the consuming public could never be involved in any decision about any matter whatsoever - let alone crucial decisions about economic priorities, planning, etc.

Knowledge of the fact that rational economic activity is impossible in a socialist commonwealth cannot, of course, be used as an argument either for or against socialism. Whoever is prepared to adopt socialism on ethical grounds, on the supposition that the provision of goods for human beings under a system of common ownership of the means of production is achievable, or whoever is guided by ascetic ideals in his desire for socialism, will not allow himself to be influenced in his endeavors by mere refutation of the economic arguments.
 

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Alan Ryan said:
I can't recall mentioning the Soviet Union in any of my responses so far; but it is understandable that you are anxious not to discuss centralised planning from the perspective of a macro economy. The only large scale command economy experiments - about which there is ample empirical data - are an embarrassment to the advocate of planned economic activity.
Centralised planning is simply illogical. If we nationalize an economy, how much sense does it make to plan that economy using only a few people? The reason I mentioned the USSR is because you seem to like bringing up centralised planning, perhaps knowing that it was a massive failure in practice. I make it clear that modern socialists nearly unanimously call for localized planning.

AlanRyan said:
Your claim that a "socialist economy is still a market economy" looks like a paradox or perhaps an oxymoron: it's either a socialist economy or a market economy.
A market economy is simply one in which items are bought and sold. It makes no difference how items are produce or whether this production is planned. A socialist economy, using this definition, is most certainly a market economy. Most economies, dating back to ancient times, have been market economies (atleast those in the west...other cultures have used other varieties).

AlanRyan said:
Since "free markets" are the summation of countless conscious, purposive actions, choices, and preferences of individuals, each trying to satisfy various wants and ends etc., there is no other way for the market to adjust to the complexity of these phenomena other than spontaneously.

Your assertions that in capitalism, demand will inevitably be optimistically viewed (with bias), and that it is impossible to to view sales objectively, and that surpluses in capitalism are inevitable, are all made as though they are self-evident truths which do not require the support of any evidence.
You give the market these 'magic' qualities again, saying that the 'market' will 'spontaneously' adjust to 'complexities'. An economy is man made, only man can adjust to such 'complexities', and man cannot do so spontaneously. I did not say it is completely impossible, but rather nearly impossible, for the capitalist to view his sales objectively. He will view them with a bias, he will view them optimistically, otherwise he surely would be no good businessman. All of this is because there is a constant drive (the only drive) in capitalism to make a profit. the capitalists thirst for it certainly makes it difficult to view his company's sales objectively. He seemingly must view them subjectively. Supluses are inevitable (or deficits..though capitalism usually produces surpluses, I think) in capitalism. This is because of the capitalists drive for profit. The capitalist interprets his demand poorly, always thinking a profit for him may be a possibility. The very existence of surpluses is proof that sales are viewed optimistically. If a capitalist does not produce such large quantities of goods, he may not make as much profit as a capitalist who does. The marketplace is a place of risks, and the capitalist who does not take these risks (of overproducing) is the one who will lose. The existence of recessions are proof that surpluses exist. It was a surplus (combined with low worker wages) which was one thing that led to the Great Depression (I'm expecting the usual libertarian response here...).




AlanRyan said:
We do not need to enter into a theoretical discussion concerning "surplus value" at this juncture. If we simplify and call it the remaining value that the capitalist appropriates as profit after the subsistence costs of the worker have been paid and subtracted from the total value of the product - then it cannot disappear even in the localised planned economy you have in mind. If the costs of production were exactly matched by the selling price of a given commodity and no surplus value was factored into the process, there would no way in which capital could accumulate to fund innovation, development, and investment.
True, but I simply point out that it would not be the capitalist alone who appropriates surplus value. Communism aims to take surplus value out of the equation, but socialism, as one of its many flaws, does not do this completely. It is true that in socialism, because of the existence of capital, capitalists themselves must still exist. Profits, however, will be divided between those involved in production (the capitalist, laborers) differently. Also, the 'capitalist' in socialism is simply the entrepeneur, he does not himself own capital, the state does. we cannot say for sure how this profit will be divided up between all parties involved, since this brand of socialism has not existed yet (and may never exist).

AlanRyan said:
This description of the structure of localised planning and its integration with the national economy is an agreeable fantasy. It is not supported by any theory of human action (at least not one that you have made explicit), and in the absence of a price system would produce economic chaos. I fear your trust in the competence of bureaucrats is misplaced: the lack of incentive which is intrinsic to bureaucratic management leads to inertia at best and entropy at worst.[/QUOTES]
A 'theory' of 'human action'? Explain yourself. How is a price system absent? I recall explaining one, but perhaps you didn't like it. The bureacracy is one reason I do not claim to be a socialist. I fear it may gain too much power in socialism, but I am simply trying to explain the socialist point of view here. But, if done correctly, the power of these bureacrats and thus the neccesary extent of their competence may be able to be limited. In order to do this, some form of democratic elections must exist so that the bureacracy can be controlled easily by the people. However, I see only the power of this bureacracy as a possible problem; I do not see any lack of incentive. Surely, this lack of incentive you refer to must exist on the factory level. With the continued existence of wage-labor, incentive shall be the same as it is now. Or perhaps you mean the incentive to create new ideas and thus progress? I've ideas about this, if this is what you mean.


The contingent fact that planners are also consumers is irrelevant to the question of viability and efficiency in the economic system you are trying to defend. ALL of the consuming public could never be involved in any decision about any matter whatsoever - let alone crucial decisions about economic priorities, planning, etc.
A larger percentage of the people will be laborers, no? And so they will have an active role in deciding the worker-planner from their factory, who shall work closely with the 'economist' I described and with the local government in local planning. That is not important as far as planning priorities go, but we must remember a few things: 1. The planners will not be blind as far as economics go, and with localised planning and the important role of local factory planning, sales (more importantly, their tendencies) can be viewed from factory to factory. The priorities then should be easily determined (what to produce, what not to produce); 2. The public in democratic socialism shall have complete control over the government levels of planning, and so if planners appear to have done a poor job, they can be replaced every few years. However, one reason I do not like this aspect of bourgeois elections in democratic socialism is that it leaves the door open for a capitalist to run, and if it does not do that, a one party system exists. So either the system has a chance of becoming ractionary, or it has a chance of becoming tyrannical. This certainly is, in my view, a major flaw in socialism.

AlanRyan said:
Knowledge of the fact that rational economic activity is impossible in a socialist commonwealth cannot, of course, be used as an argument either for or against socialism. Whoever is prepared to adopt socialism on ethical grounds, on the supposition that the provision of goods for human beings under a system of common ownership of the means of production is achievable, or whoever is guided by ascetic ideals in his desire for socialism, will not allow himself to be influenced in his endeavors by mere refutation of the economic arguments.
Another flaw of socialism: I'm not so sure it is even possible for the means of production to be held in common with the existence of capital. With the existence of a state, the means of production will be foremost controlled by the state, won't it? Common ownership of the means of production is, in my estimation, only possible in capitalism. Also, I have argued against this assertion of yours before. Rational economic activity is certainly not impossible in socialism. Like I said, it will be attained, but then, with differences in consumption, it will be lost (and will continue this way, since planners consistently alter production to meet with altering demand).
 

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I think this discussion has now arrived at a juncture where it risks becoming circular, so I've confined my response this time to just two or three points.
anomaly said:
You give the market these 'magic' qualities again, saying that the 'market' will 'spontaneously' adjust to 'complexities'.
It was a surplus (combined with low worker wages) which was one thing that led to the Great Depression (I'm expecting the usual libertarian response here...).
Your repeatedly assert that "magical" is more or less synonymous with my use of the word "spontaneous" in describing the way in which a free market makes use of information. This is not correct. The mechanism by which the market acts as a price signaling system by synthesising the diverse knowledge of millions individuals as they act in the market, can only be described as a spontaneous transmission of information. There is simply no other way of representing the actuality.

I'm not sure what the "libertarian" response to your allusion concerning the Great Depression might be: if I mentioned the enormous bubble of speculation which, after bursting in 1929, produced a severe deflation of the economy - would that count as a "usual liberatarian" point of view ?
anomaly said:
A 'theory' of 'human action'?
What I refer to is the the individual choices in response to personal value judgements that ultimately determine market phenomena - supply and demand, prices, the patterns of production, and even profits and losses. It is individuals who, by their actions and choices through competitive bidding for money, products, and services, actually determine prices. Thus, economics is not just the study of materials goods, services and products, but also a study of human action. The "science" of human action consists in the application of a focused reason and logic which recognizes a regularity in the sequence and relationships among market phenomena. I assumed you might be familiar with these concepts which are associated with the Austrian School of economic theory.
anomaly said:
A larger percentage of the people will be laborers, no? And so they will have an active role in deciding the worker-planner from their factory, who shall work closely with the 'economist' I described and with the local government in local planning. That is not important as far as planning priorities go, but we must remember a few things: 1. The planners will not be blind as far as economics go, and with localised planning and the important role of local factory planning, sales (more importantly, their tendencies) can be viewed from factory to factory. The priorities then should be easily determined (what to produce, what not to produce); 2. The public in democratic socialism shall have complete control over the government levels of planning, and so if planners appear to have done a poor job, they can be replaced every few years.
You have implied several times that while I have criticised the viability of a nationally planned economy, I have not tried to evaluate the small scale planning system that you believe is a viable economic alternative. (I also infer that such a localised system as you propose, would combine humane production values with a measure of social justice ?)

Despite your able advocacy on behalf of small scale planning, I am not convinced by your thesis and see only a distinction without a difference - so the same objections apply to the "little economy" proposition as were severally suggested against the macro version.
 

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Alan Ryan said:
I think this discussion has now arrived at a juncture where it risks becoming circular, so I've confined my response this time to just two or three points.
This is probably a very good idea. Feel free to do so in the future, as my ranting could very well makes this discusion quite circular.

Alan said:
Your repeatedly assert that "magical" is more or less synonymous with my use of the word "spontaneous" in describing the way in which a free market makes use of information. This is not correct. The mechanism by which the market acts as a price signaling system by synthesising the diverse knowledge of millions individuals as they act in the market, can only be described as a spontaneous transmission of information. There is simply no other way of representing the actuality.
So you simply refer to the actions of simple consumers? Buying, selling, that sort of stuff? Along with this, supply and demand, too, you include in this 'spontaneous' transfer of information. Is this not simply a way to exemplify the role of consumers? It matters little, though, as this process, I maintain, simply cannot be spontaneous. Consumers purchase, companies must interpret these sales, and, often, as I pointed out, the capitalist does this poorly. With the inevitability of recession in the capitalist economy, it seems this transfer of information has little importance, describe them as you may.

Alan said:
I'm not sure what the "libertarian" response to your allusion concerning the Great Depression might be: if I mentioned the enormous bubble of speculation which, after bursting in 1929, produced a severe deflation of the economy - would that count as a "usual liberatarian" point of view ?
No, actually. Most libertarians I have ever spoken to on this forum blame the depression somehow on the government. Speculation was simply part of the misinterpretation I've been speaking of that capitalists seem to do so often. The capitalists saw that sales were high, and so they lowered salaries combined with increasing production (and of course this high speculation was due as well to those good twenties sales).

Alan said:
What I refer to is the the individual choices in response to personal value judgements that ultimately determine market phenomena - supply and demand, prices, the patterns of production, and even profits and losses. It is individuals who, by their actions and choices through competitive bidding for money, products, and services, actually determine prices. Thus, economics is not just the study of materials goods, services and products, but also a study of human action. The "science" of human action consists in the application of a focused reason and logic which recognizes a regularity in the sequence and relationships among market phenomena. I assumed you might be familiar with these concepts which are associated with the Austrian School of economic theory.
This seems obvious enough.

Alan said:
You have implied several times that while I have criticised the viability of a nationally planned economy, I have not tried to evaluate the small scale planning system that you believe is a viable economic alternative. (I also infer that such a localised system as you propose, would combine humane production values with a measure of social justice ?)
Yes, economically, socialism seems to work fine (the test, however, will be when and if a democratic socialist state is actually created). In the political arena lie the problems of socialism. Perhaps you could explain what 'measure of social justice' you have in mind?

Alan said:
Despite your able advocacy on behalf of small scale planning, I am not convinced by your thesis and see only a distinction without a difference - so the same objections apply to the "little economy" proposition as were severally suggested against the macro version.
But the 'little' economy version, as you put it, simply cannot be compared to centralised planning. Centralised planning assumes that the federal government (a socialist might say a vanguard) can plan all actions of the economy. That is, centralised planning means the central government must know the needs of all citizens, the production capabilities of local factories, regional concerns, etc. This is simply an impossible task. Localised planning I greatly prefer because it hands the mechanism of the economy over to the people, on a local level in which they can control it. Planners, if local, will be far more aware of local concerns, obviously. There is simply no comparison.
 

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anomaly said:
So you simply refer to the actions of simple consumers? Buying, selling, that sort of stuff? Along with this, supply and demand, too, you include in this 'spontaneous' transfer of information. Is this not simply a way to exemplify the role of consumers? It matters little, though, as this process, I maintain, simply cannot be spontaneous. Consumers purchase, companies must interpret these sales, and, often, as I pointed out, the capitalist does this poorly. With the inevitability of recession in the capitalist economy, it seems this transfer of information has little importance, describe them as you may.
The market acts as an information processor: this transfer of information is of the first importance since it is used by every consumer and producer to ascertain the aggregated results of supply and demand or the current state of the market. I assume you have made the connection between this definition of an unregulated market and the idea of the "invisible hand" ?
anomaly said:
Yes, economically, socialism seems to work fine
Really ? Where ?
anomaly said:
Localised planning I greatly prefer because it hands the mechanism of the economy over to the people, on a local level in which they can control it. Planners, if local, will be far more aware of local concerns, obviously. There is simply no comparison.
Note your use of the word "control" - the hallmark of a "planned" market, and for all the reasons which I will not rehearse again, not a viable enterprise - unless perhaps you're planning to run a subsistence economy in which only the absolute primary needs of the local population are satisfied.

My remark about "a measure of social justice" was an inference: in other words, I assumed it was implicit in your description of the "little economy" and expect you to explicate the social and political benefits which are "intrinsic" or by-products of the localised planned economy.
 

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Alan Ryan said:
The market acts as an information processor: this transfer of information is of the first importance since it is used by every consumer and producer to ascertain the aggregated results of supply and demand or the current state of the market. I assume you have made the connection between this definition of an unregulated market and the idea of the "invisible hand" ?
Exactly. The 'spontaneity' of the free market you describe seems quite similar to Smith's concept of the 'invisible hand'. Isn't it true that this is often used as an argument for libertarianism? that the market (due to this 'invisible hand') will regulate itself (which has proven untrue in the past)?

Alan said:
Really ? Where ?
Theoretically only. Like I said, we are awaiting the first truly democratic socialist state with localised planning. But do to the changing economic currents of socialism (from emphasis upon central planning to local planning), I think we may see one in the relatively near future.

Alan said:
Note your use of the word "control" - the hallmark of a "planned" market, and for all the reasons which I will not rehearse again, not a viable enterprise - unless perhaps you're planning to run a subsistence economy in which only the absolute primary needs of the local population are satisfied.
You do not explain your reasoning here. Why, simply because of the control the people have, must the economy become a subsistence one?

Alan said:
My remark about "a measure of social justice" was an inference: in other words, I assumed it was implicit in your description of the "little economy" and expect you to explicate the social and political benefits which are "intrinsic" or by-products of the localised planned economy.
Perhaps you are referring the fact that many wages will be raised, and there will be a system of economic redistribution? I figure that each and every wage must be atleast a living wage, which vary depending on the country one is in.

Since we've discussed socialism thoroughly (relatively), shall we move on to communism? If you wish to move on to this topic, begin it by writing your initial thoughts and opinions of communism.
 

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anomaly said:
Theoretically only. Like I said, we are awaiting the first truly democratic socialist state with localised planning. But do to the changing economic currents of socialism (from emphasis upon central planning to local planning), I think we may see one in the relatively near future.
Alas for theory ! There's probably a circular definition buried in this assurance: it might be said that the first "truly democratic state" will be identified by the characteristic of localised planning, and localised planning is an attribute of the "truly democratic state". Where do you expect to see one in the near future ? Cuba ? Venezuela ?
anomaly said:
You do not explain your reasoning here. Why, simply because of the control the people have, must the economy become a subsistence one?
Control referred to one the delights of a bureaucracy: subsistence to the level of "sophistication" to which a localised planning system could aspire.
anomaly said:
Perhaps you are referring the fact that many wages will be raised, and there will be a system of economic redistribution? I figure that each and every wage must be atleast a living wage, which vary depending on the country one is in.
"The fact that many wages will be raised....." You have made a number of unsubstantiated assertions and elevated them to the status of "facts".
anomaly said:
Since we've discussed socialism thoroughly (relatively), shall we move on to communism? If you wish to move on to this topic, begin it by writing your initial thoughts and opinions of communism.
I think this thread is played out - but if you want to begin an examination of the theory and practice of communism, I'll add my two cent's worth to the discussion if you wish.
 
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Alan Ryan said:
Alas for theory ! There's probably a circular definition buried in this assurance: it might be said that the first "truly democratic state" will be identified by the characteristic of localised planning, and localised planning is an attribute of the "truly democratic state". Where do you expect to see one in the near future ? Cuba ? Venezuela ?
No, A democratic socialist state is simply one with both democracy and socialism. It doesn't matter whether that particular socialist nation uses centralised or localised planning (although, for the reasons we've been discussing, I do hope they choose localised planning). Venezuela and Bolivia seem the two likeliest candidates as of now, but only time will tell if such guesses prove correct. I do not think Cuba will become democratic anythime soon. After Castro dies, I fear his brother Raul may not have enough support to succeed him, so, eventually, Cuba will be occupied by the US (or a puppet government will takeover which is controlled by the US).

Alan said:
Control referred to one the delights of a bureaucracy: subsistence to the level of "sophistication" to which a localised planning system could aspire.
You seem quite willing to ignore the role of the public in the system. You place far too much importance upon the bureacracy. Remember, the bureacracy will be as limited as possible.

Alan said:
"The fact that many wages will be raised....." You have made a number of unsubstantiated assertions and elevated them to the status of "facts".
The minimum wage should be a living wage, as I said, and so lower to middle class workers will see a rise in wages. Also, with the redistribution system, total income will most certainly rise, for the proletariat only, of course. Don't confuse things here. The bourgeoisie (essentially entrepeneurs) will still make more than a factory worker. I really am not sure how the socialist expects profit to be eliminated if such inequality still exists.

Alan said:
I think this thread is played out - but if you want to begin an examination of the theory and practice of communism, I'll add my two cent's worth to the discussion if you wish.
This thread, surprisingly, has become only an examination of socialism. I've mentioned communism several times, but we have not examined it. I'm sure I'll encounter some familiar arguments from you.

Communism is, as defined by Engels, the system that emerges once the state has withered away. The state equals official (absolute) hierarchy, and so must be eliminated. Along with this hierarchy must go economic hierarchy, class hierarchy. And so profit (money) will be eliminated. I used to say that capital was abolished under communism, but this is only true if we use the Marxist definition of capital. In Marxist terms, capital is simply, essentially, accumulated profit. So, from a Marxist point of view, capital is abolished under communism. But, if we use the bourgeois definition of capital, capital simply becomes any human creation used to facilitate future production. If we begin from the title 'capital-ism', the Marxist definition, implying a profit hungry, hierarchal society is a much truer definition. From this simple defintion of communism, and unlimited number of questions about the 'inner workings' of the system may be asked. I'll, of course, leave that to you.
 

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anomaly said:
This thread, surprisingly, has become only an examination of socialism. I've mentioned communism several times, but we have not examined it. I'm sure I'll encounter some familiar arguments from you.
The possibility that an argument may be familiar does not mean it may not be cogent. Indeed, its very familiarity may be due to its cogency. It's not a good idea to prejudge what others might say: far better to begin with an open mind and respond to another's opinion with dispassionate probity.
anomaly said:
Communism is, as defined by Engels, the system that emerges once the state has withered away. The state equals official (absolute) hierarchy, and so must be eliminated. Along with this hierarchy must go economic hierarchy, class hierarchy. And so profit (money) will be eliminated.
I've edited your opening statement so that some immediate questions can be addressed: we can come back to your other points later.
First; can you explain why the bourgeois (or capitalist) state must necessarily "wither away" before communism can emerge ?
Next; why must the "official hierarchy" be eliminated, and how will this be effected ?
Next; you claim that class, status, and economic differences will be (in that totalitarian word) "eliminated" - how will this be accomplished ?
Finally; money in a communist state is also expected to be superfluous to requirements - so what will take its place as a means of exchange ?
 

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Alan Ryan said:
The possibility that an argument may be familiar does not mean it may not be cogent. Indeed, its very familiarity may be due to its cogency. It's not a good idea to prejudge what others might say: far better to begin with an open mind and respond to another's opinion with dispassionate probity.
We'll see how it goes. But surely you can understand the frustration I feel when I argue against a point, and my counterpart ignores my argument and makes the same erroneous claim a second time (this has not happened with you, rather with others). You, however, seem rather bright, so we may be able to avoid such occurences.

Alan said:
I've edited your opening statement so that some immediate questions can be addressed: we can come back to your other points later.
First; can you explain why the bourgeois (or capitalist) state must necessarily "wither away" before communism can emerge ?
We can both accept that the state is itself a form of hierarchy, a source of 'superiority', and thus can be seen as a form of class (surely political inequalities will be seen if economic inequalities disappear). A state simply cannot exist.
Alan said:
Next; why must the "official hierarchy" be eliminated, and how will this be effected ?
I'm glad you've picked up on my saying the official hierarchy must disappear. Human beings will always have their personal measurements for who is 'better', but such superficial 'hierarchy' will have no material effect. What are you asking when you say 'how will this be effected'? Do you mean how will this be brought about?
Alan said:
Next; you claim that class, status, and economic differences will be (in that totalitarian word) "eliminated" - how will this be accomplished ?
Note that these too will only officially disappear (materially disappear). People still may think of themselves as having higher 'status' than others, but these will have no material effect. With the abolition of capital (using Marx's definition), class really has no measurement. If we eliminate material inequality, class becomes irrelevant, as does 'status'. With the abolition of capital, individual economic differences also are eliminated. Now, if you are asking by what action will these things be eliminated, the answer is a revolution.
Alan said:
Finally; money in a communist state is also expected to be superfluous to requirements - so what will take its place as a means of exchange ?
Why do we need a means of exchange? That was money's purpose, and with its elimination, so too will the need for a means of exchange. The economy will be what you might call a gift economy. Production strictly for human use. With the abolition of private property, the rule will become, as Marx said so long ago, 'from each according to his ability, to each according to his need'.
 

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anomaly said:
We can both accept that the state is itself a form of hierarchy, a source of 'superiority', and thus can be seen as a form of class (surely political inequalities will be seen if economic inequalities disappear). A state simply cannot exist.
This seems to boil down to the suggestion that if economic inequalities are eradicated, the state will disappear - though I'm not sure what you mean by your qualification in parenthesis. I think you should move these opening points beyond rhetoric into some fundamental propositions about the state and society which I can examine.
anomaly said:
I'm glad you've picked up on my saying the official hierarchy must disappear. Human beings will always have their personal measurements for who is 'better', but such superficial 'hierarchy' will have no material effect. What are you asking when you say 'how will this be effected'? Do you mean how will this be brought about?
Yes, I mean just that: by what specific means will the "official hierarchy" be eliminated/made redundant/superseded/etc. (I leave to you the choice of euphemism for this operation). Are we talking about purges here, exile, or mere suppression ?
anomaly said:
Note that these too will only officially disappear (materially disappear). People still may think of themselves as having higher 'status' than others, but these will have no material effect. With the abolition of capital (using Marx's definition), class really has no measurement. If we eliminate material inequality, class becomes irrelevant, as does 'status'. With the abolition of capital, individual economic differences also are eliminated. Now, if you are asking by what action will these things be eliminated, the answer is a revolution.
A "revolution" in which everything must change, so things can stay as they are ? You have so many suppositions here that I must press you for evidence that any of them are true. Let's start with the presumption that it's a sensible idea to eliminate all economic differences: first, is it possible ? second, how can it be justified ? You must produce reasoned arguments that will address my skepticism.

anomaly said:
Why do we need a means of exchange? That was money's purpose, and with its elimination, so too will the need for a means of exchange. The economy will be what you might call a gift economy. Production strictly for human use. With the abolition of private property, the rule will become, as Marx said so long ago, 'from each according to his ability, to each according to his need'.
A "gift economy" ? Is this some variety of barter ? When is production not strictly for human use ? At a certain level of abstraction, all production is for human consumption. Abolition of private property ? You must explain your theory of natural rights so that I can understand the assumptions on which you make this proposal: it's no use quoting Marx, he's not arguing the case, you are.
 
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Communism fails because it is an opinion, not a system. Gang rule is not compatible with democratic ideals.
 

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Alan Ryan said:
This seems to boil down to the suggestion that if economic inequalities are eradicated, the state will disappear - though I'm not sure what you mean by your qualification in parenthesis. I think you should move these opening points beyond rhetoric into some fundamental propositions about the state and society which I can examine.
The state represents polictical inequality, correct? So what good is it to simply eliminate economic inequality, and yet keep the state? The era of representation, as I like to say, must come to an end. To better continue this discussion, I think I need your definition of 'the state'.

Alan said:
Yes, I mean just that: by what specific means will the "official hierarchy" be eliminated/made redundant/superseded/etc. (I leave to you the choice of euphemism for this operation). Are we talking about purges here, exile, or mere suppression ?
Simply saying 'it will occur by purges, exile, and suppression' simply does not do us justice. Purges of whom, by whom? Exiles of whom? Suppression of whom? The best answer for how communism will come about (to simplify the title of the transition) is revolution. The proletariat must rise up and overthrow the bourgeoisie. Only when the bourgeoisie, as a class, is eliminated can communism (the end of official hierarchy) occur.

Alan said:
A "revolution" in which everything must change, so things can stay as they are ? You have so many suppositions here that I must press you for evidence that any of them are true. Let's start with the presumption that it's a sensible idea to eliminate all economic differences: first, is it possible ? second, how can it be justified ? You must produce reasoned arguments that will address my skepticism.
Why isn't it possible? If the people rise up collectively, cannot they overthrow capital collectively? The possibility of communism is only something that practice, not theory, can prove. But, I will say that in many precapitalist 'primitive' societies, there was little if any economic inequality. In hunter-gathering society, for example, the society shared the spoils of the hunts. The idea becomes justified if we keep in mind that the division of labor, which is so rigid and strict today, will become much 'fuzzier' under communism. A person, for example, may be a doctor and a streetsweeper. Once we understand this idea, we see that the people as a whole will do roughly equal labor. We also can see that the loss of an individual (due to laziness, as you might say...an individual who simply does not want to work) will result in a net loss in productive capabilities for the whole, and so society will suffer (which includes, or course, the individual not working).


Alan said:
A "gift economy" ? Is this some variety of barter ? When is production not strictly for human use ? At a certain level of abstraction, all production is for human consumption. Abolition of private property ? You must explain your theory of natural rights so that I can understand the assumptions on which you make this proposal: it's no use quoting Marx, he's not arguing the case, you are.
It's no barter system. Take the base societal unit, the commune (in communism). In the commune, one does not work for just to satisfy one's own needs, but rather the needs of the community (the two become, as explained, quite inseparable). Labor will be done by the commune as a whole, and goods will be distributed based one one's needs. A nice way of explaining it is 'from each according to their abilities, to each according to their needs'. Production today is not strictly for human use, but rather for profit. Profit is needed to consume under capitalism. As for the abolition of private property, let us use the agrarian commune to explain things. The land in an agrarian commune would be today private property, correct? It is communal property under communism. We must separate private property from personal property. The firm in capitalism is private property. The means of production, in other words, exist mostly as private property today. Someone owns them. Such would not be the case under communism. But personal property, such as one's clothes, are not communally owned in communism. Perhaps that clears things up. The distinction between private property and personal property is essential here.
 

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anomaly said:
The state represents polictical inequality, correct? So what good is it to simply eliminate economic inequality, and yet keep the state? The era of representation, as I like to say, must come to an end. To better continue this discussion, I think I need your definition of 'the state'.
I think this discussion needs a logical structure. At the moment it is quite directionless - with you making various assertions about a variety of political and economic proposals, and me responding on an ad hoc basis.

Before we can get to grips with concepts of political/economic equalities, the bourgeoisie, the proletariat, private property, "revolution", etc. etc., we need to go back to fundamentals and examine the assumptions on which these sort of concepts are based. At the very minimum, we should look at where the political philosophy and economic rationale of Marxism "comes from" - in terms of:

a). the Marxist theory of human nature.

b). the Marxist theory of history.

Now since you are making a case in favor of communism (isn't that what you are doing ?), you have the initial burden of explaining the philosophical basis of your plan of action.

I look forward to seeing what you have to say about human nature and history from a Marxist perspective.
 

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Alan Ryan said:
I think this discussion needs a logical structure. At the moment it is quite directionless - with you making various assertions about a variety of political and economic proposals, and me responding on an ad hoc basis.

Before we can get to grips with concepts of political/economic equalities, the bourgeoisie, the proletariat, private property, "revolution", etc. etc., we need to go back to fundamentals and examine the assumptions on which these sort of concepts are based. At the very minimum, we should look at where the political philosophy and economic rationale of Marxism "comes from" - in terms of:

a). the Marxist theory of human nature.

b). the Marxist theory of history.

Now since you are making a case in favor of communism (isn't that what you are doing ?), you have the initial burden of explaining the philosophical basis of your plan of action.

I look forward to seeing what you have to say about human nature and history from a Marxist perspective.
You shouldn't assume that I am a Marxist. If you've talked with Marxists before, you'd know that I'm quite at odds with most of them. Most true Marxists see socialism as a neccesary transitional stage. I, and many others, do not. Luckily, for this conversation anyway, I agree with the Marxist view of human nature. I do not neccesarily agree with the Marxist view of history, however.

The Marxist view of human nature is really quite simple. Now, what you obviously believe is that man is naturally greedy (correct?). Marxists, however, say that so-called 'human nature' is societally formed. We adopt these 'natures' to survive. Why are men so greedy under capitalism? They are greedy because they must be to survive under capitalism. That is really human nature: to survive. Man can, however, survive in a number of ways. Capitalism makes survival neccesarily based upon greed, but mankind could certainly survive in a society based upon cooperation. In fact, to argue down another avenue, communism will give most people more, materially, than they have now (if we consider that communism will exist throughout the world). communism is, therefore, in the majority of the people on earth's self interest.

Now, on history, you expect me to argue in favor of dialectics. Conflict between two opposing sides has always existed in history. Well, has it really? Can we be so terribly black and white? I don't think so. Rather, history describes mankind's tendency to better themselves over time. We gain more liberty, more freedom, more equality as time goes by. The fall of Rome can be seen as a very good division in ancient history from morem odern history (since mankind really had to start over, atleast in the West). We went from the darkness of middle ages and its feudalism to colonial Europe and its mercantilism to the empires of Europe and The US and its capitalism. The imperial age, however, is ending. In the 20th century, we saw the vast empires of old Europe become newly liberated nations. The Phillipines, once part of the American empire, is now liberated. We've seen, over the past 1500 years, mankind continually improve itself. It is quite logical to believe that it will continue to do so.
 

Alan Ryan

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anomaly said:
You shouldn't assume that I am a Marxist. If you've talked with Marxists before, you'd know that I'm quite at odds with most of them. Most true Marxists see socialism as a neccesary transitional stage. I, and many others, do not. Luckily, for this conversation anyway, I agree with the Marxist view of human nature. I do not neccesarily agree with the Marxist view of history, however.

The Marxist view of human nature is really quite simple. Now, what you obviously believe is that man is naturally greedy (correct?). Marxists, however, say that so-called 'human nature' is societally formed. We adopt these 'natures' to survive. Why are men so greedy under capitalism? They are greedy because they must be to survive under capitalism. That is really human nature: to survive. Man can, however, survive in a number of ways. Capitalism makes survival neccesarily based upon greed, but mankind could certainly survive in a society based upon cooperation. In fact, to argue down another avenue, communism will give most people more, materially, than they have now (if we consider that communism will exist throughout the world). communism is, therefore, in the majority of the people on earth's self interest.
No, I haven't assumed that you are a Marxist: in fact, I've had the suspicion that you might be presenting a case for communism as a kind of mental exercise. For all I know, you could be a college student "trying out" various political philosophies before synthesising a world view by selecting from the spectrum of political beliefs that appear both rational and congenial to you.

You begin your opening statement about the Marxist view of human nature with a supposition about mine. But my views are not being examined here (except perhaps indirectly); the focus is on Marx.

I claim that all political doctrines are founded in a theory of human nature and disputes commonly reflect differences over what this nature is. Thus it seems that communism must assume that the aggressive, acquisitive, competitive, and power-seeking impulses of men are not "natural", but entirely result from the mutability of social conditions.

You say (if I might paraphrase and amplify) the Marxist view is that man is a social animal and human nature is not created by a "mystical agency" or simply by biological imperatives, but it is formed by man's social environment. I would go a little further and suggest it is a sine qua non (in Marxist thought) that man is neither inherently good nor evil: his nature is plastic and will be moulded by the social relations and the material circumstances in which he finds himself.

If we add what I have claimed to what you've said, I think we have the basis for a conversation about human nature. Unless you intend to modify anything in this prologue, I'll assume that it's OK to proceed without further quibbles ?

For the time being, I suggest we leave the Marxist theory of history out of the discussion: we can come back to it later if you're not fatigued by my pedantry before that.
 

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So? That doesn't Mean Communists are wrong...In the Communist Parties (Past and Supposed to be) There is discussion About that stuff, and that is why many parties, like the Soviet Communist Party, were divided into bitter right and left factions, and fought each other. But that fallacy proves that some views are wrong, but It doesnt mean communism is wrong, because as One Russian Communist Stated "Marxist-Leninism is a Science, and so must adapt to the changing times", or in this case, changing thought.
 
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