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  • Capitalism is Opposed to Human Happiness Debate, Volume 2

    A Debate with
    the community of PoliticsForum.org

    Part #11

    Posts #051-#055

    By Gigi Ibrahim
    Image: By Gigi Ibrahim, CC BY 2.0

    Post #51

    Date: Thu 22 Jul 2010

    I see a lot of happy capitalists...


    as measured by health wealth and education... Not at all distorted by the league of American billionaires, in fact, I feel happier right now just thinking about the fact that many billionaire live somewhere within 3000 miles of here.

    Post #52

    Date: Thu 22 Jul 2010

    Also, I'm not sure what you mean by the "exploitation theory." Unless you're maintaining that Capitalism somehow returns all the surplus value generated by labor to all workers in the exact measure that they produce, its virtually impossible to see how Capitalism can be construed as anything but "exploitative," pretty much by definition.

    Surplus value is an empty concept because it ignores the value of intellectual labor. A person, a capitalist, who brings together disparate elements into a productive capacity adds value by that act. Even if all you do is lend out your money, you have to lend to the right people, that is, those who will use it a profitable manner, otherwise they won't pay you back. That requires research, which is labor. Even if all you do is hire people to do your intellectual labor, to manage your affairs, you have to hire the right people, or they'll blow it all on unprofitable, socially useless endeavors. So again, we have intellectual labor. Warren Buffett, for example, is worth $47 billion because that is the combined market value of his intellectual endeavors to this point.

    as measured by health wealth and education...

    ? Suska, that map measures self-ascribed "satisfaction with life." http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gross_domestic_pr

    Post #053

    Date: Thu 22 Jul 2010

    i stand corrected

    Post #054

    Red Barn...
    Date: Thu 22 Jul 2010

    I see a lot of happy capitalists...

    Well, you're not seeing them in the USA. We rank 23rd on your own happiness chart - far below countries with more social programs, more stringent regulation of trade and far fewer loopy Libertarians. Nor are you seeing them in newly Capitalistic Russia, which clocks in at number 167, several slots below Rwanda.

    KPres wrote:
    Surplus value is an empty concept because it ignores the value of intellectual labor. . . etc, etc . . . Warren Buffett . . . etc, etc.

    None of this makes a particle of sense.

    Of course intellectual labor is labor. Who "ignores" it? And this has nothing whatever to do with Warren Buffet, anyway. Warren Buffet's billions are the very definition of a "surplus."

    No points for you, I'm afraid.

    Post #055

    Date: Fri 23 Jul 2010

    CNT-FAI Radical wrote:
    It is an interesting model, but there could be difficulties here. First, there is the concern that some would have more shares than others, which would result in some being able to live off of the many. Second, it seems too centralized; for a Socialist society to flourish with liberty, such "corporations" should be spread out, small, and based on the geography or tendencies of the local people.

    These are not difficulties with the model, but with some specific instantiations of it: Specifically corporations in which the maximum amount of shares permitted per person is greater than the minimum (perhaps much greater if not completely unlimited), and corporations which don't meet some preset maximum size.

    CNT-FAI Radical wrote:
    I am in favor of a system where all have an equal right to society's productive forces. Not an equal right in that they can withhold it from others, but an equal right in having a voice in directing such property.

    As pointed out earlier (by lucky?), we ourselves are part of society's productive forces: Does everyone have an equal right to us?

    CNT-FAI Radical wrote:
    An ideal Socialist ideal, for the most part, would probably be many, independent, autonomous workers' cooperatives, each ruled by the democratic vote of their workers. They would either cooperate or compete with each other, according to what each preferred, but something in between is likely.

    Choosing "worker's cooperatives" rather than "corporations" implies that only workers have a right to rule.

    CNT-FAI Radical wrote:
    With no industry governed by a boss or a few stockholders, there is no one with isolated economic power.

    This is also true with a corporation in which each worker owns an equal share.

    CNT-FAI Radical wrote:
    Similarly, a workers cooperative could not become too large, since the economy favors specialization. The largest workers' cooperative in the world, the Mondragon Corporation, will always split its cooperatives in half when they start to expand the line of their commodities. The idea is to encourage specialization of skill and technology, so that each cooperative, dependent on its own income, will become best at the industry or commodity it sells. This is one of the underlining points that has led to a 98% business success rate over five decades (compared to the 50% success rate in the United States over five years).

    If this is a successful model, than I suspect it will catch on. But I don't think you can say that a worker's cooperative could not become too large: The splitting of cooperatives you referenced is a volitional act, not one that would necessarily happen naturally.

    CNT-FAI Radical wrote:
    With each cooperative in need of others for resources, and with each cooperative made up of equally empowered workers, there no longer stands any person with the power to exploit. There is no longer anyone who can live off of the labor of others, control land without the peoples' consent, and create artificial hunger to boost prices.

    You can say pretty much the same thing of corporations in which each member owns an equal share and the size of each corporation is limited. The main difference is that the "cooperative" emphasizes power to workers, and corporation emphasizes power to owners -- who might or might not be workers.
    To expand on this difference, your implication is that if someone owns shares and is not a worker, he is exploiting others, or the work of others. Doesn't this view, the emphasis on work, ignore the value of raw materials, or at least denies any inherent right to own the ground you stands on, the air you breathe, or even your own self?

    CNT-FAI Radical wrote:
    There have been an endless variety of schemes that people have developed in order to revolt against the inequality of bargaining power that comes with Capitalism.

    This inequality of bargaining power predates capitalism. You are using the term capitalism to represent opposition to labor and consumer unions. I don't think capitalism is opposed to labor and consumer union, but rather to mandated labor and consumer unions.

    CNT-FAI Radical wrote:
    There are both worker and consumer cooperatives, communes and collectives. The Homestead Movement, for instance, sought free land for workers, so that they would not be dependent upon a Capitalist just to work. But, all the tiny plots of the Homestead Movement were either integrated into or consumed by monopoly Capitalism.

    They were not consumed by an ideology, they were consumed by people with power. The central issue on which there seems to be some agreement here is that power should be distributed: At least political power, which in my view includes economic power (or at least not easily separated from it) but I'm sure there's disagreement on this point.

    CNT-FAI Radical wrote:
    It is necessary to create a wide, popular movement determined to guarantee an equality of voice in economics, just in the same style and trend as we achieved an equality of voice in politics (or, at least, a better equality).

    I agree.

    CNT-FAI Radical wrote:
    The problem in both systems is how a few controls everything. I am not advocating a new form of Capitalism, where someone else controls everything.

    The economy ought to be organized according to small, decentralized, worker-managed firms within each industry. Every cooperative is self-governing, autonomous, and free in every respect. In this respect, no cooperative can dominate over its workers, since they each have a democratic voice in organizing the cooperative. And likewise, with many decentralized cooperatives, there is not a likelihood of any one 'syndicate' becoming all too powerful over the others.

    I don't see why a distribution of worker's cooperatives would be better than a distribution of corporations in which each participant holds an equal share. Nor do I see any cooperative or corporation not managed by workers, unless you don't consider management to be work.

    Nor do I see why any attempt to do this is fundamentally different than the failed attempts you cited -- they were not created to "benefit the very few" nor to provide "questionable benefits", and some advocated a "wide popular movement determined to guarantee an equality of voice in politics", but they didn't. I think an interesting question is how would you prevent your proposal from having a similar fate? It could be an open question for now...

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