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  • Capitalism is Opposed to Human Happiness Debate, Volume 2

    A Debate with
    the community of PoliticsForum.org

    Part #8

    Posts #036-#040

    By katybird
    Image: By katybird, CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

    Post #36

    Date: Mon 19 Jul 2010

    I couldn't find a straight definition in your links within the 3 minutes I spent looking, so I will stick to the standard meaning of terms. I don't see anything in the original post that says he wanted to use Marx's definitions in the discussion, he didn't even use the word "Marx" and this thread is not in a "Marxist language" sub-forum. In any case, whatever definitions you use, statements 2, 3 and 5 are contradictory purely logically.

    Post #37

    Red Barn...
    Date: Mon 19 Jul 2010

    Wage labour is the mode of production in which the labourer sells their capacity to work as a commodity.

    The pre-condition for wage labour is a class of people who have no other way of living, and a class of people who own the means of production as their Private Property. The capitalist who buys the labour power, and pays for it at its value, own the labour process and the product of labour, and can sell the product in order to realise a profit. The worker, on the other hand is alienated from her own labour.


    Search time: 1.67 minutes.

    Post #038

    Date: Mon 19 Jul 2010

    ^ Assuming the definition includes the second paragraph, it's self-contradictory: I sell my capacity to work as a commodity, and yet I have other ways of living available.

    If you just take the first sentence as a definition, that's pretty much the standard definition. If you're working for the socialist state (or the "society" or however you call that entity), and you get compensated in return, then you are selling your capacity to work as a commodity.


    You see? Collective ownership and no such thing as "wages."

    Post #039

    Punkerslut (using the alias CNT-FAI Radical)...
    Date: Tue 20 Jul 2010

    Hello, Michaeluj,

    I've had to explain the Austrian theory so many times, that I am sick of talking about it, especially to people who can't even grasp the basic premises of how consumption affects resources and interest rates. I was hoping that you would do your own research into alternative ideas that you seem so apparently fond of doing.

    Actually, I wanted to see how you interpret Monetarism and the Austrian school in regards to economics. I'm actually fairly well read in these subjects, but I would never imagine that just saying "See the Austrian Theory" is even remotely productive in discussion. Anyhow, as far as the Austrian School is regarded, I do not see any contradiction between this and my argument presented above. The Austrian School is typically represented by a few ideas: people are motivated by self-interest, there is a limited but present rationality in their behavior, people prefer gratification sooner to later, etc., etc..

    While the followers of this school may be so-called "laissez faire" in philosophy, the premises of this philosophy have no argument or statement in terms of bargaining power between two agents within the economy. Austrian School: "We can't test the economy, we should have a decentralized economy, human wants, etc.." My argument: "An inequality of bargaining positions leads to an inequality of outcomes." As you can see, I have no idea what makes you think that Austrian Theory is going to topple my argument, which is why I asked you to elaborate.

    ...is not an argument but a statement. I can just simply disagree with it. And any book you quote is based on research that is, in some way, limited, whether by available resources or by the bent perception of a biased author. I like numbers, not perceptions.

    It is true that economics is limited often in its interpretation of numbers, but this argument fails in the cases I present. As I pointed out in Kropotkin's research, the conclusions are based on census data and avaliable, commercial information. You are completely free to reject their interpretations of the evidence or to criticize them for lack of evidence; but they are all based on human activity.

    After all, you know Austrian school full well. Praxeology is its fundamental method of investigation, which claims no information can be gained from statistical analysis of the economy! This is, of course, in contradiction to your statement, "I like numbers, not perceptions." If that's the case, then please stop talking about Austrian and Monetarism. My main concern, of course, is that you may not understand these ideas, which is why I'd like you to speak them. Naturally, if you "like numbers," you're not a follower of the Austrian School. Ludwig Von Mises, the Austrian economist, used the phrase "Praxeology" to define a research of the economic based on human nature and completely opposed to number analysis. (Ludwig von Mises, Nationalökonomie (Geneva: Union, 1940), p. 3; Human Action (Auburn, Ala.: Mises Institute, [1949] 1998), p. 3.)

    So, let's take the Austrian School you've been talking about so much and apply it! If you have no land or capital, and you need them to live, let's imagine what happens at the bargaining table between the worker and the Capitalist. If the worker rejects the wage offer of some Capitalist, then they will starve to death, whereas the capitalist could survive for years on their accumulated stock. Furthermore, the presence of other workers, all driven to such a condition of needing the Capitalist to live, will drive down the bargaining power of the worker. This is the Austrian School's Philosophy of Praxeology!

    If you give raw data from the GDP, then no. If you give a conclusion based on a quote, then it is an appeal.

    One quote was a summary of statistical data and analysis that would have taken 400 pages. Instead of copying and pasting the whole document, I just copied the quote of its conclusion. Likewise, I assume you could always pick it up and examine the evidence for yourself. (See "Fields, Factories, and Workshops," by Peter Kropotkin, or any of the longer works by the above-quoted authors.)

    It's a conspiracy to state that it is done for literally no reason other than the magical word PROFIT$!!

    Again, let me draw upon the wisdom that the Austrian School allows us to bask in...

    "A true theory of economy can only be attained by going back to the great springs of human action - the feelings of pleasure and pain....

    "Economy investigates the relations of ordinary pleasures and pains thus arising, and it has a wide enough field of inquiry. But economy does not treat of all human motives. There are motives nearly always present with us, arising from conscience, compassion, or from some moral or religious source, which economy cannot and does not pretend to treat. These will remain to us as outstanding and disturbing forces; they must be treated, if at all, by other appropriate branches of knowledge." (Jevons, William Stanley, "Brief Account of a General Mathematical Theory of Political Economy," published by The Journal of the Royal Statistical Society, London, XXIX (June 1866), pp. 282-87. Section F of the British Association, 1862.)

    That is to say, in terms of economics, we are studying one thing and one thing: material self-interest and profit. So, when anything is done in terms of economics, it is always done for profit, whether or not it succeeds. This is one of the essential premises of the Austrian School, and, in fact, I would go so far as to say of all of economics entirely.

    When owners of bakeries, railroads, oil wells, mines, and manufacturing plants shut them down to create demand, it is done for the profit they believe they will make by this inactivity. In examining the economic roles of anyone in society, everything is done for the 'magical word' profits. If it's not, then it's not an economic role, and therefore, not an economic investigation. There are boundaries between the economics that studies a person's wants, and say, biology that studies a person's body.

    Me: That is interesting. Masters work slaves arbitrarily, doing non-productive work, so that they wouldn't rebel. Do you have any reference for proving this?

    Just reasoning.

    Well, I did point out several cases involving hundreds of millions of people that disprove this reasoning.

    Liberty, something that wasn't done to the American Black Slaves, is something that helps docility, for how can you be angry at some halfway decent country, as how you describe it? Also, there is less reason to fear revolt when you're safely far away from the slaves, something that the British were instead of the Americans.

    I did not describe the largest slave-trading empire as "some halfway decent country." Rather, I pointed out specifically that they withheld unnecessary brutality and cruelty upon the colonies, strictly with the intent of pacifying unrest. It is as Sun Tzu said, "...supreme excellence consists in breaking the enemy's resistance without fighting." ("Art of War," Chapter 3.) The British empire did not care about fighting -- it was only concerned with winning, with maintaining its spoils of conquered peoples. Even Machiavelli describes these tactics in "the Prince," where he tells rulers to engage in any cruelty that is necessary, and at the same time, "...men ought either to be well treated or crushed, because they can avenge themselves of lighter injuries, of more serious ones they cannot..." (Chapter 3)

    Me: In fact, overwork is almost never attributed to "keeping slaves down." The most noteworthy attribute of the French and Revolution revolutions was the absolute, widespread poverty throughout society that accelerated society in that direction.

    The two sentences don't make sense together.

    (a) Overworking people has not led to keeping them controlled.

    (b) As proof of (a): The most violent revolutions, the French and Russian, resulted from a people who were extremely overworked.

    That example refers to fixed prices, not fixed supply. I don't even see why you bothered to use an entirely different set of circumstances to explain a very specific case of Dutch supply.

    No, it was fixed supply, because it was mutual destruction of commodities by Capitalists. It was not a "very specific case of Dutch supply," either. I pointed out railroad corporations, banking corporations, oil corporations, etc., etc.. I also referred you to a wide text that covered extensively hundreds of monopolies and production fixing, with more than half of its pages on GoogleBooks. (See "An Encyclopedia of White-Collar Crime," by Lawrence Sallinger.)

    On the railroad cartel...

    That is still a jumbled mess without context. I will read Lords of Industry and get back to this.

    The concept of monopoly should be very simple, basic, and undestandable to someone who keeps talking about "Monetarism." Let me quote a selection of economic volumes that Milton Friedman (a known Monetarist) edited explaining monopoly...

    "Natural resources may be left unused as a result of monopolistic action on the part of those controlling them. In such circumstances the value of the output which can be secured by using these resources exceeds the cost of the necessary co-operant factors. Production does not take place because of monopolistic restriction of output, which secures private gains to the monopolists at the cost of social loss through the idleness (or under-employment) of resources which could otherwise make a positive net contribution (or larger contribution) to output and national income. Organised commodity restriction schemes have in the past been among the most important examples of this kind of monopolistic action in under-developed countries." ("The Economics of Underdeveloped Countries," by Peter T. Bauer and Basil S. Yamey, edited by John Maynard Keynes and Milton Friedman.)

    In regards to the natural monopoly of phone lines...

    That's a geographic monopoly, an oligopoly in a broad sense but the controller of everything in the sense that it occupies a certain area at a cheaper price. A real monopoly would be able to raise prices without backlash due to a complete lack of competition.

    I didn't say that phone lines were an oligopoly. I said they were a natural monopoly, which is what most economics textbooks regard them as. Similarly, I disagree with your definition of "Oligopoly." I'll take the first sentence of the Wikipedia article on it as more appropriate: "...a market form in which a market or industry is dominated by a small number of sellers (oligopolists)."

    "Never" seems too...absolute...but it still does not disprove my point anyway.

    You made a statement, I pointed out a study involving thousands that disagrees with your conclusion. Whether or not I disproved your point, there is the question of evidence: I have brought some. All you have brought is... ohh, yeah. "Reasoning."

    And yet, life goes on, better for everyone else.

    That's your response to a study showing that people are less happy and earn less when they transition occupations because of new technology? Well, that's great. Life just goes on. I have no idea how this response is a counter to my arguments or cited evidence that Capitalism leads to human unhappiness.

    Funnily enough, I did not say anything about proportion. My argument did not depend AT ALL about proportion. Strawman.

    Yeah, you cited a trend, that applies to a very few people. When my argument is about the happiness of all people, I don't have to describe your trend as something else to disprove it -- it is irrelevent to begin with.

    Since humans sometimes have crazy desires or bad patience for acquiring new things, we should do everything we can to make sure that this depravity doesn't go even lower! If they can't restrain themselves from buying luxuries with the cost of Interest, how can they be expected to live in a world where they earn more money and can freely take from others?

    If people are selfish and crazy, then why do I want them owning the machinery and land that I need to live?

    And if people are not selfish and crazy, then why do they need to have economic masters over them?

    Michaeluj: ...capitalist mode has a propensity for production.

    Me: Slavery has a propensity for production.

    That's a bare-ass insult. Are you saying that production isn't relevant or that the social issues that you speak of are a worse punishment than any promotion of production that can be promised?

    Your justification for Capitalism is that it has a "propensity for production." I pointed out slavery, because it could be justified on the same ground. Ipso facto, we need a better justification than "Oh, this system can produce! It's good enough for me!"

    Post #40

    Date: Tue 20 Jul 2010
    I'm actually fairly well read in these subjects,

    If you don't say so yourself...

    The Austrian School is typically represented by a few ideas: people are motivated by self-interest, there is a limited but present rationality in their behavior, people prefer gratification sooner to later, etc., etc..

    It is clear to me you are not as well read as you think you are! Only the last concept is really explored at any length by the Austrians. It's called time preference. Of course people are motivated by self interest, but this is so obvious on it's face. Of course you miss completely the Austrian revolution wrt to the margin, the Austrian theory of the business cycle and the other improvement's the Austrians made on the classical school. Mises's treatise human action covered the totality of economics, but you boil his work down to a few insignificant points you barely understand?

    Praxeology is its fundamental method of investigation, which claims no information can be gained from statistical analysis of the economy!

    Praxeology is a science, not a method of investigation, and it does not make that claim but announces itself as a deductive science, which is not at all the same thing. Praxeology starts with the basic truism "man acts purposefully" and then uses logic to deduce the totality of the science. Statistics are great for fooling idiots, but it is only through understanding human action that we can understand how the economy works, after all, the economy is based entirely on the decisions and choices that people make.

    If the worker rejects the wage offer of some Capitalist, then they will starve to death,

    citation needed

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