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  • Back to index of Communism Versus Capitalism
  • Communism Versus Capitalism

    Francois Tremblay


    Image by U.S. War Department
    Image: "The Attack Begins in the Factory" by the U.S. War Department

         Punkerslut's case consists of two main parts :

    1. Statism (or in this particular case, communism) is more capable of elevating a person's status.
    2. Statism gives one the right to the wealth of one's own labor.

         Since I have already asked questions on all relevant points, I will take over from Mr. Punkerslut's answers.

    1. Is statism more capable of elevating a person's status ?

         He has made a melodramatic appraisal of the supposedly dismal state of capitalist countries, but his appraisal had little evidence to support it. On the other hand, I provided all the statistics available on the relationship between economic freedom and prosperity, as well as other factors. It is hard to look at three-digit GDP per capita in statist countries, and five-digit GDP per capita in semi-capitalist countries, and see them as similar.

         Since statism is easily defeated on this point, the only avenue possible here for Mr. Punkerslut is to compare two particular cases in the hopes that they will be more eloquent in the minds of the readers. The United States and Cuba may be equal in many things (although not in prosperity), but according to Fraser Institute's Index of Human Progress, Japan, Switzerland, Iceland, and even Sweden and Canada all have better health care than both ! The factors included here are life expectancy, infant mortality, baby mortality, and adult mortality.

         As for the Business Week article, Mr. Punkerslut seems to like quotes, so here is one from Noam Chomsky (in a speech on January 9th, 1997), who says about that very article that :

    "In large measure, that's an effect of policy decisions which were directed to these ends, including the criminal assault-criminal in the technical sense-on labor rights in the '80s which happens to be reviewed rather well in the same journal".

         And he also states, in the same paragraph, about a related article :

    "For example, Business Week in late 1995, reported with wonder that the new Congress "represents a milestone for business. Never before have so many goodies been showered so enthusiastically on America's entrepreneurs.""

         Hardly a condemnation of capitalism ! Mr. Chomsky is here attacking the corporatist system which permits corporations to use political power in order to levvy more profits, and he thinks that article is support for that.

         The argument of brutality is also difficult to defend. Asking him what form of brutality is not a crime under capitalism, his answer is to talk about feudalism, which has nothing to do with the subject, and to use the word "slavery". What kind of slavery ? Mr. Punkerslut must make good on his promise and identify what brutality he thinks is inherent in capitalism.

    2. Does statism stand the comparison on giving people the fruits of their own labour ?

         Mr. Punkerslut has failed to fully address the subject he himself raises. The subject is whether capitalism is the most favourable system for one's life, and his objection on "the right to the wealth of one's own labor" must be applied on this comparative basis.

         What are we to make of this objection when capitalism is the only economic system which acknowledges man's right of action and property ? And more importantly, when the only alternative is to take away the fruits of man's labour ? Either by taxation and redistribution (in statism), or by burdening people with defending their rights (in anarchy), all other economic systems are less efficient than capitalism in doing so. If capitalism is "wage slavery", then statism can only properly be called "slavery without wage" !

         What is Mr. Punkerslut's bold programme ? To replace man's freedom to choose with :

         * Laws forbidding people from getting wealthy from other people's labour. This logically implies that subsistence labour is the only possible option, pushing back society to pre-industrialization levels. In defending his lark, Mr. Punkerslut has stated that it means "that no means of production are to be privately owned". If we assume this obtains, then how are these "means of production" to be used ? Blank. Because of this, are we to assume that Mr. Punkerslut supports Tragedy of the Commons situations, and that "means of production" are to be exploited and then destroyed ? Blank. If he does not think this will happen, how does he expect that all laws of nature will suspend themselves for his programme ? Blank. Why should "means of production", and no other goods, not be owned ? Where is the dividing line ? Blank. All these questions, fatal to the proposition, remain unanswered.

         * Laws coercing everyone to work. How can anyone still claim to promote rights after saying this ? At least we should be glad he doesn't want children to be forced to work either. No word about everyone else - including the disabled, mothers, old people... and everyone else who, for some reason, cannot or does not want to work - but Mr. Punkerslut wants to be the supreme ruler on who gets to slave away and who doesn't, apparently.

         But never mind. We also get the silly bromide that "managers and CEOs [...] do no productive work, only exploitative work". However silly this is, they keep repeating it. So I must ask : is Mr. Punkerslut really contending that somehow, by some miracle (or state intervention), the corporative model that we know today, with CEOs and administrators, has survived despite being highly inefficient ? How could a non-productive job even exist ? Never mind that the work of a CEO, especially in a small company, is day-in-day-out, constant work. Such absurd attacks against individuals and their jobs are the statist's stock-and-trade, and a fine rhetorical replacement for actual arguments.

         The final point, that workers are not paid all the wealth they produce, is obvious : there is, after all, such a thing as corporate profits. Surely Mr. Punkerslut knows this, since he quoted an article about them. Surely he also knows that corporate profits are actually used to the growth of the corporation that makes them, amongst other things. If he wants to make a point here, he must actually point out something about those profits which is dubious. Positing their existence has nothing to do directly with the subject.

         I will now let Mr. Punkerslut counter and conclude.

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