It is often claimed that because under communism “everyone will earn the same” there will be no incentive for people to work harder. Is this so?
Communism is frequently accused of having a system which promotes laziness and drudgery. They posit that this happens because as in the system everyone is equal and the incentive of people to compete with their fellow man is not there, nobody feels the need to innovate, be creative or productive. And since the state will reward everyone the same no matter what they do, as in a prisoner’s dillema, people will prefer to “defect” from work.
This problem did seem realistic to me when I knew little about it and before I actually gave more thought to it. How indeed do you make people work if they are not going to be rewarded for their trouble anymore than their lazy ass neighbour who sits and watches television all day?
The answer to this problem lies in understanding that reward does not drop down from the non-existent state but that simply the reward of each worker comes from the work they do. One of the core tenets of communism is that the total value of labour, which includes the surplus value which currently goes to the non-working capitalist, belongs to the worker who produces it.
Lets say that I work in a factory making cars with a thousand other people and we make a 1000 cars, each of us ends up owning one. Once I have a car, either I can keep working in the same factory (say because I like the work or because I do not care to learn anything else) or I can move to another job, say making computers.
But what about the people who don’t want to work in the car factory. Don’t they get a car? Of course they do. It’s very easy for a car factory to give one car to each of its workers and after that, the rest of the cars can be given for free for anyone who requests one. And why not? After all, while working at the car factory, I got to eat food for free from the bakers, got the raw material for free from the steel and plastic workers, got to enjoy culture for free from the artists etc ((This does not happen through state allocation but rather through classic supply & demand. I will attempt to tackle this in another post)).
As such, the incentive of people to be productive lies in the fact that they will get to own the result of their increased productivity. Not only that, but people have a large incentive to be more productive because that way they get to work less hours.
If you think that this is an unrealistic scenario and that this can never work you might be benefit from looking at the free software movement.
Why does a Free Software programmer help coding a program when he’s not getting paid for it? Very often it’s because he needs it to do something he can’t at the moment. But why do it for free instead of selling his labour to the highest bidder? It’s because he knows that he will get to reap the results of his labour. Not only that but once more programmers join, he will get to reap the results of their labour as well, while all of them get to work less hours individually.
Furthermore, the Free software programmer knows that there are other free software programmers out there who do the same thing as he, but in their own projects. He gets to reap the results of their labour and they do the same. Similar to my previous example of cars for food, raw materials and art.
But the free software movement is comprised from generally middle class people who can afford to do it as a hobby, generally middle class people or students. Most cannot concentrate their full potential on it because they must put a good part of it on their normal work or school. Imagine what they would do if they could work totally free without worrying about survival. Imagine what any other worker could do if he had the freedom these renegade programmers do.
‘But what about innovation?’ I hear you ask. What’s the point of someone inventing new gadgets, systems or whatnot? I already mentioned that people have an incentive to be more productive as in that way they will get to work less hours. Well, this is what machines do isn’t it? They make people more productive. The workers have thus an incentive to create new and better machinery in order to reduce the time they have to spend working.
Medicine? Art? As is obvious from even our current culture, people who are inclined to those paths generally provide their own incentive. An artist keeps creating despite the fact that in our capitalist culture he cannot make any money of it. If anything, under Communism instead of the pop-culture we have to endure because it’s the only thing that can bring a profit, artists can follow their own muse and create the new and interesting things they should. Instead of medicine and science being driven by profit, with all the known problems of that, it will be driven by need and creativity. A future Tesla will not have to die poor and starving because his exciting new science could not find sponsors or he did not understand economics, but rather will have the necessities he needs to focus on his work as much as he needs.
Of course, it is conceivable that social parasites will manage to find a way to survive within communism. Perhaps they will prefer to hide how little they work, or they will group together and avoid working, I don’t know. The thing is that it’s much more difficult to hide from the people you have to work with who know they will have to pick up the slack. Where in a capitalist corporation the parasite can simply suck up to the boss and get off lightly, in Communism, there is no boss to speak of and the other workers will quickly put them in their place when they discover them, or at worst, ostracise them.
But lets take the worst case scenario, that somehow these parasites manage to survive and hide within a communist system. What is the difference from our current system? Under capitalism we have parasites who not only don’t need hide but are actually the ones who wield all the power. They’re called Capitalists. The rich do not need to work, their money works for them. All they need to do is sit around all day and give orders to the ones who are not as rich as they. The life of the rich is one who does not contribute anything to society and gets to reap all the benefits. And the worst part is that the overwhelming percentage of them do not even need to work to reach that level. They simply are born into wealth.
115 thoughts on “But won’t communism lead to stagnation?”
I can't quote names at the moment but it was intellectuals of those days that pointed out the violence and crime freed slaves created and used it as an empirical argument. They also pointed out to the slaves who could not function as free men. These people did not necessarily mean bad, but they were still wrong.
I do not dispute that. I dispute that humans cannot overcome them sufficiently for the purpose of communism. We have overcome so many other evolutionary instincts, so why not this? And again, this also does not take into account that humans are also by nature cooperative more than they are competitive.
Listen, with all due respect to the idea of equality, the idea of communism simply stinks of conflict with human nature. People will always want to screw other people over. Not all of them, but many of them. Wonderful ideologies aren't going to change that, and this is why I always said of Communism: "Wonderful idea, wrong species".
This is just a further demonstration of wonderful this world could be if humans were "communism-capable". But it seems to me that we just aren't. As your posts delicately express, communism remains beautiful, once more, on paper. I never "misunderstood it" as nefarious, I just recognized the fact that humans are simply incapable of such a wonderful ideology. I wish they were.
Listen, I'm tired of hearing about this "human nature". The only human nature is to eat, shit, fuck and die. Since anything else can and is overcomed, it means that it's not a "nature".
This is happily displayed in looking before human civilization when people lived without screwing each other. The only reason people started having this "nature" is because they were split into classes when private property became mainstream.
So no, communism is not just beautiful on paper, it is actually achievable. If I can avoid this "human nature" so can you and everyone else. To claim that you can't is simply an excuse not to try at all.
I'm sorry, what? People lived without screwing each other? Is this the "noble savage" I'm hearing about? Listen, there are civilizations out there that hasn't reached, well, "civilization" yet, and they REALLY don't just up and get along. We're a competitive species, it doesn't mean we should be, but we, apparently, are. I'm only saying that given this information, I doubt it communism can work, even though I think it should.
I'm sure you can avoid "human nature" to greater extent than most people, and I'm also sure that if most people were like you, then we could live in a wonderful communist regime, but this is simply not the case right now. If you're not an evolution denialist, you would know that biology dictates variation, and in a social, but no eusocial species, like ours, variation leads to different "values" of people, and when I say that, I don't mean "subjective values", I just mean that some people, on average, will be better than others, and some of them, what can we do, will want to exploit the other man's ignorance or weakness. This is just a logical derivative of evolution: those who won't do just that will stay behind those who will. This is not a moral imperative, just a simple extrapolation of observed biology. Since all science is based on such extrapolation, all science could be wrong, just as much.
You're well aware that I never said "not try at all", on the contrary, I try to live up to a somewhat amateur "communist" worldview, but not everyone's as good as you are (or as I am) at it, and frankly, I don't know if I'll ever be able to. It's just very hard to overcome the need (yes, the need) to exploit other people's weakness. To a lot of people, this is nigh on impossible.
I say, it will be a gallant thing indeed to push towards a communist Utopia (and a world as egalitarian as that would indeed be as such), but I would say it's very presumptuous to assume that everyone, regardless of their potency, can simply rise up to the challenge just because you (or myself, so I'd wish).
You and I are not opposed as to the positive value of a communist worldview, but I'm just skeptical about our species capability to ever achieving it. I'm just not as optimistic as you are, so to speak.
You should read up on how gentile communities lived before farming was invented. You'd be surprised.
You can start here
You should read up on how gentile communities lived before farming was invented. You'd be surprised.
You can start here
In the history of mankind many such argument were put forward. The latest one was how some slaves are meant to be slaves and freedom just does not suit them. These kinds of arguments have been proven patently false.
Humans ideals are not shaped by evolution, they are shaped by memetics, and the memes affecting one's mind can change during one's lifetime.
I too believe that the world is not ready for communism now, but under no circumstances do I think that it can never become ready. It became ready for Empires. It became ready for Capitalism. It can become ready for communism as well.
If you believe that communism should be achieved, then you can at least try to achieve this purpose. I'm not saying you should do everything yourself but even spreading awareness and the mentality which allows people to live in communism is something. Folding your arms and saying "It's human nature" helps noone
Again, I'm sure there's exceptions everywhere, but noble savages weren't always savage. There was always conflict, competition. This is merely a conclusion based on biology, not on politics.
Again, like I said, we don't have any moral conflict, I'm just not as "believing" as you are, based on my pessimism as a result of (an undergraduate, I'll admit) my knowledge of biology. I'm hopelessly amenable to change my mind as new evidence comes up, my friend.
There was competition but nothing of this scale. Nothing inherent in the system. Indeed, barring needs for food or shelter, there was no competition. And the point of communism is that we now can use the productive force achieved with Capitalism to get rid of competition for food and shelter
I do believe you should read the book I linked to. It clears up quite a bit about "human nature"
What does "scale" mean when the population is enormously smaller? When you have more variation, you also have more competition.
Competition is something inherent in biology, not just in the human species. I've yet to find an example of a non-competitive species. This is why I think it's very presumptuous to assume that humans can be non competitive without them being eusocial, the only form of life that's known to allow true altruism (that is, purely and intuitive non-competition).
Again, I'm sure that a lot can be made (for good or for bad) to change the human condition, and I'll be the first born again communist should the situation allow it, but it doesn't seem to be, right now. Right now, I live in a rather socialist state that's up to its arse in corruption (they always accused Jews of being communists, we still have Kibbutzim here, for pete's sake! Do you have any idea how unsuccessful that turned out to be? I do.) – I've seen a VERY valiant attempt at communism. It failed. It failed by people at least as motivated as you are. So why should it work? Because you really want it to? I really want it, too. I really want a lot of other things,that doesn't bring them a step closer to me.
I'm up to my armpits in things to read (mostly academic stuff), though I did read a lot about human nature before college, and I'm sure there's evidence to the contrary, but that does not eliminate the positive evidence that suggests that humans, at least a portion of them, are inherently competitive, and this goes for all organisms on earth.
I'm not saying this to condone competition, I'm just saying that ignoring it is futile and that the best thing we can do is strive to communism, at least for a while, before we are ever able to achieve it.
The more competition does not come from the increase of human numbers, it comes from a system that divides people in haves and haves-not. This came about as soon as humans discovered the way to produce more food per man than one could eat which incidentally allowed for a population increase. But the later is not the cause
Slaves are meant to be slaves? Who made those arguments? Greedy slave owners?
This argument is starting to really disillusion me. You seem to be completely held with wanting something to be true, and thus you're adamantly ignoring my arguments and placing them under populistic attack. I don't deserve this, really.
Human ideals, you'd be surprised, are widely affected by evolution, even though not entirely, they are always subject to biology. That I say regardless of what you OR me desire. The same goes for memes, and this was said by the guy who invented the term, Richard Dawkins.
I'm not folding my arms, and I said so strictly in the previous comments, and I find that comment offensive and out of line. In fact, it's so out of line that I think I'm going to stop writing right now. I don't deserve to be accused of the same atrocity twice.
I've read a meta-analysis in Scott Atran's "In Gods We Trust" that reviews current hunter-gatherer civilizations compared to modern civilizations. Trust me, the noble savage, while not entirely savage, is really miles away from noble. This system of yours didn't pop out of some evil god someplace, it popped out of human nature and the tendency for opportunistic (evolution, says anyone?) human beings exploiting a situation at the expense of fellow individuals. It seems that as soon as the ability to grow and expand, everywhere in the world there grew a system that allowed men to rule over other men, and such men to be competed out of their place.
You're actually arguing that competition is not a biological imperative?
I'm not saying that competition is good moral, but I'm saying it's undeniable.
I am not ignoring you argument, simply countering them and perhaps giving you a view of them that you may have noticed. That it unsettles you is not my fault. You may not have populist ideals but you are making the argument that not all people can be as good as you and me. That may be objectively true, but in a practical sense not. Barring few exceptions, the majority of humans can certainly take on a mentality that is positive to communism.
It was a rhetorical phrase, not an accusation. But you do point out a problem. If you get annoyed or offended by people who have the same goals as you when they don't even mean to, then it's going to be very problematic to discuss or convince people who might be initially outright hostile.
You accusing me wrongly of being indifferent is not your fault?
Enough. We're not even in disagreement and you still manage to get on my nerves.
What can I say. I have to stand by my request for you to read the book I linked to otherwise we'll keep going back and forth with incomplete arguments
I'm arguing that cooperation is a higher biological imperative than competition and that a human has logic in his toolbox to be able to marginalize the later in favor of the former.
I don't know if I should apologize. I do tend to argue strongly but I'm also very thick skinned myself.
I have not accused you of anything. Merely pointed to how your words appear.
Great post as usual db0. Not sure if I want to get involved in refuting the 'arguments' of some of the people here but I might…
Funny, I didn't realize we were all savages in business suits. I've seen more than enough people cooperate and work hard when they don't have to worry about pushing others down to keep their job.
The whole 'human nature' thing is just annoying. As db0 has pointed out, it's been shown that people can work cooperatively without worry of having to lose a job or lose a meal. The 'human nature' argument against Communism is proved wrong daily in every (well, most) family, friendships, and across the internet. People can work together.
Gah. I know that, I never said otherwise. Listen, I gather that the blog's author is adamant about communism and thus is apparently immune to reasoned debate on the issue, but please, don't join him. I know that co-operation is possible, in fact, I'm sure that without co-operation, the human species could not exist. I'm just saying that "everyone competing" is just as unlikely as "everyone cooperating." Someone is going to be an ass and screw the other guys over. It's so ubiquitous in human affairs, that I find it staggeringly naive to assume that in some future society, such things aren't going to happen. I think that communism is a certain ideal that we can only aspire to, but is unlikely to ever be achieved entirely. That said, if I could vote for a communist party that addresses the economical issues a modern society has, I'd vote for it. I've been a socialist in worldview all my life, and communism to me is just the extreme form of socialism. But I've also seen the human world as what it truly is: hopelessly imperfect. And at that, I know that the best thing we humans can do is only to strive for such perfection, and communism, as db0 describes it, is perfect. Let's strive for communism, but let's not be gullible enough to think that it's easy or even likely for mankind to adopt communism to the letter.
I think I might have voted for communism too fast. Are you saying that communism states that everyone gets the same reward no matter how much they work, or if someone works harder, he gets more cars? I do think people should co-operate, and maximally so, but I think eliminating competition is bad for everyone. What is probably right is to *limit* competition so that not all means are okay in a competitive society (say, killing the opponent). But I really don't think that giving the same reward to a hard worker and to a lazy worker is fair to the hard worker (or deserving to the lazy one). If i misunderstood you (and I admit I re-read the post to make sure), please correct me.
The blog's author is not adamant nor immune about anything. I tackled human nature in my latest post if you wish you can see what I wrote over there an comment if you have any disagreement
There is no "reward" in communism, at least not in the sense that you know it know: money.
The "reward" you get by living in a communist society is absolute freedom. Freedom to do anything you wish, whenever you wish, without worrying about your survival.
Other than that, I don't know what kind of "reward" you're looking for.
PS: There's no point in "voting" for communism. You cannot vote yourself to socialism
I don't think it'd be so bad, in and of itself, for a system to allow people to survive, be entitled to services, and whatnot, without deserving it. In fact I find the argument a little annoying when it's used against things like a single-payer health program, and your basic social safety nets. I see it as a considerably greater evil for a system to deny these necessities. It causes clearly more suffering, for one thing–living without enough money for food and shelter, as opposed to having to produce a little more–if nothing else, the extra effort put in would be sufficiently spread out that you're not violating anyone's human rights.
I made no prediction of the same date, as I said, a scientific report was issued (forgot from what group but it's international and highly respected) which said if humanity continued consuming and producing at the rate it is, and continued its means of production and all that (ie turning the world into a desert through profit-driven agriculture), then by 2030 we'd need two planets to support us. There was no prediction on my part. He likely read the same report.
EDIT: Of course in capitalism the loser dies. Not all the time but the less money you have the shorter your lifespan. Losing a job can mean losing a house and becoming homeless and dying of starvation. Or not being able to afford medical care. Or safer equipment. Etc, etc.
Solution: Reduce the power of their weapon. If people refuse currency period the power of money will be weakened more and more.
EDIT: Nevermind about being pressed for time.
So…insult the person because you disagree with them?
I am not at all being rude. Nor do I intend to get into a debate but discuss these things.
However, you kicked yourself with your own words. "If it was lucrative enough". Yes, people will tear eachother down for money, but when their needs are met and they need only ask for what they want and work together for it, there is little need to screw eachother for anything 'lucrative'. Especially when you are without a culture that tells you that you do not have everything you need, because you've just got to have more stuff!
As db0 pointed out, competition doesn't mean you have to compete to survive when…wait a second, you'll survive anyways. We have such intense competition now because it IS a savage world and we have to compete to survive. As that wouldn't exist under Communism, there's little point arguing that people will want to push others down to get up because the need will simply not exist. And as db0 pointed out, competition need not be harmful and can be channeled elsewhere.
Thank you, o self-appointed guardian of ethical debate. I've so far managed to reach an agreement with the blog's author, and my problem was with the fact that he accused me of not working for the greater good because of some "human nature excuse" I yanked out of my ass. If you were less busy trying to provoke "those evil unsubstantiated skeptics" (obviously, a person you entirely made up), you could have noticed that. Unlike you, it appears that the author is not immune to reasoned debate, and has since answered my questions and convinced me of his original argument.
The difference between dull assaults like yours and the author's demeanor is that discussions are produced in one case and pointless flaming is produced in the other. Please, for your sake and mine, address my arguments and not my "tactics". I assure you, I have none. I'm only interested in learning and enjoying an informed discussion, not in "convincing anyone I'm right" or harass the readers and author of this blog.
Oh, lovely. You tell me to respect your words, don't follow through, then insult me. And I did answer your argument, where you asked elsewhere. I will refrain from doing so again if all you can offer to others is rudeness. Neither have I said anything of the sort of you. It seems what you accused me and db0 of you are doing the same. If you want to debate, by all means debate but enough with the insults.
Lucrative doesn't just mean money, lucrative means power. Power is an offshoot of money, not vice versa. Without the trust inherent in currency, money is useless paper.
Again, I perfectly agree that people would have no reason to screw each other open if they're rewarded enough, but the problem remains that people want to be rewarded extra if they work extra, and if everyone gets the same thing, people will automatically want to be rewarded extra for extra work (even if everyone gets a thousand cars, a guy who works harder will want to get two thousand, just to give an exaggerated example).
The problem is that humans, like all metazoans that are not eusocial, are competitive by nature. This nature is not some conspiracy designed to make it okay to screw the lower classes, it's simply a reality that good communists must take into consideration, and me as well as you guys would do so. I'm only agitated by the fact that you guys seem to think it's absolutely logical that people will not compete with each other so long as everyone gets what they need, I'm saying it's unlikely because humans are animals and animals vary in capability and are selected because of competition. This is true all over biology, and we are no exception.
This is not just about survival per se, as you put it, but "outsurviving" even in replenished societies, people want to outdo their peers, it's how the human brain is programmed, and you can't "de-program" something like this, not without understanding the genetic component of human psychology, and in any case, there's no future in it, because not competing is overruling a basic principle in biological evolution: selection. The first society that WILL compete with us will outcompete us, and communism, beneficial as it is to the people who are its votaries, will be extinct. I'm saying you have to amend communism so it will fit this natural principle, so that the communist regime won't collapse due to its inherent repression of a natural proclivity that all animals share.
I think that Communism won't have a chance BEFORE the world stops being so savage. I think that in a future world where technology solves most of the material issues of today, communism is the better than anything else: if everyone has what they need and more, then the best we can do is distribute the wealth in a positive fashion, but before that – the battle for survival will stump any ideology, and it pains me to say it and I do not condone it in any way, it's merely a prediction I make due to what you and I know of human nature.
That said, the last few lines you wrote are absolutely true, but to enforce communism in a world that's overpopulated, misgoverned, and currently unable to solve all its material problems is too brave and too soon. I would suggest that we will cautiously inch our way into communism by first co-operating as much as possible to solve our problems as heterotrophic and psychological animals, before we can settle down into a communist utopia (indeed!) and let all people enjoy what would be free in today's money anyway (on account of it being so cheap, it might as well be given away)
Okay, our discussion is interesting, and I'm afraid that trying to convince you of prejudging me too quickly (see your first comment about me) is futile, and at any rate, I enjoy our discussion and so far, it seems informed and balances, so I apologize for any inconvenience and let us resume our discussion from this point on.
People. let's not get in a flamewar here. You two are more similar than you are opposite.
Yvette: You're seeing insults where you shouldn't. There's no point in trying to make the other person look bad in the eyes of the invisible internet audience. That just breeds friction.
Freidenker: You're getting too annoyed too easily. Only a few comments ago you declared that I'm immune to reasoned debate and now you're doing the same to Blue.
Both of you, assume that the other person is not deliberately trying to insult or demean you and continue as such. Engage the points of the other, not the tone.
Thank you for being polite this time, I appreciate it and will return the favor.
Unfortunately I'm pressed for time so will have to come back to this, however:
Yes, people will still be competitive. However, there is no reason competition has to result in another person being screwed. Competition can and does exist in far more civilized and rational ways, like simply working harder to compete or games or other competitions. Again–no one has to die, and therein is a key difference between Communism and capitalism. The loser doesn't die.
I think as the world approaches a breaking point–we have till 2030 until we need 2 planets, if you believe the recent scientific report. I do–there will be no choice but to turn to a system that places human life over profit.
Just to note that I too, do not believe that communism can be used now. The world is simply not ready for it. The world will become ready for it when Capitalism starts exploiting the working class more and more and the class division grows larger.
We shouldn't really attempt to force communism on people, this is not possible anyway other as "socialism from above" which is doomed to failure. What we should be doing is realising that communism is the superior system that we should be striving to and strive towards it as much as possible. My way is to spread awareness of Communism and Epicurism, of which the later I consider a necessary stepping point. Others prefer to agitate the workers and making them struggle for their rights.
What I don't like is people deciding that communism is unattainable and thus not helping at all. I'm not saying that you do mind you.
Have you read my latest post on this?
This is exactly what db0 cleared for me after I inquired about "friendly competition". It is possible for people to compete and enjoy (and society as a whole, too) the fruits of competition without anyone being hurt. Natural science backs this claim up very well with the natural phenomenon of playing games, which is exactly that: competition and improvement of skills without anyone being hurt.
I'm not sure if in capitalism the loser dies, but it's much more likely that "losing in capitalism" means losing a lot than in losing a game. Bankruptcy can be worse than death. In Israel, anyway.
You know, it's interesting you say 2030, the reason I'm finding this debate so fascinating is because some Israeli blogger who supports laiszze-fairre and I had a hot discussion (in which I was, obviously, on the side of socialism). He said that the technological revolution is going to lead to the extinction of most of the human race except those who are creative and wealthy – and that includes him. And the the working class is doomed to failure because it can be replaced by robots. Let's leave for a moment the megalomaniac bald assertion that guy made, you and he made both a prediction to the same date. I wonder what you and/or db0 think about this.
Having read through this dialogue, I feel the need to contribute here.
"If everyone in the world comes into a Tolerant/Altruistic society, then there will be, barring alien civilizations, no other society to compete with it and overcome it." – This statement is exactly why communism cannot ever be a widespread reality. The entire world needs to be converted or else it is in competition and can't survive. Having reached a state where people exist in communistic harmony, it is almost plausible that communistic existence can sustain itself but there is no chance of ever reaching that initial state from the current one.
The other problem I have with the communist argument is that it allows people the "Freedom to do anything you wish, whenever you wish, without worrying about your survival." But what happens when there are not enough people creating food to meet the needs of the people? Capitalist economics says the price for goods produced by those people will go up and more people will be attracted to food-making but there is no mechanism to correct for these imbalances that I can tell.
Of course, these issues are large-scale. I will cede the point that small societies of people can live together in a communist fashion and be perfectly happy and sustainable but it would need to be laid out delicately to establish how the group survives and interacts with each other and the rest of the world.
Unfortunately this blogger is an exemplar of the cancer of the system. A bourgeois person living the good life and assuming that this is because he is better than the others. When the workers demand that they get to keep what they produce, this person will be the first to cheer the police and the army when they will be slaughtering them.
When the earth reaches a level that the working class, the proletariat, cannot take it anymore, people will demand change, and when this change does not happen from the politicians, they will attempt to bring it themselves. If this happens by the "rise of the robots" where the upper class expects us to slowly get down and die, then…there's going to be trouble.
It is no surprise that Anarcho-Capitalists (or "Libertarians" as they are wrongly called in the US) and Objectivists seem so cruel and generally happen to be upper-middle to high class. I plan to write more on this subject in the future as well.
not necessarily. Capitalism spread the ideas of its undoing. The more exploited the workers become, the more they will start to unite and push back, and the more of them will discover the ideas of Marx and Engels. With the widespread use of the Internet, their voices will not be able to be silenced and their organisation will be more powerful than ever before.
And struggle breeds socialists who stick together and help each other, not capitalists. Eventually, the exploited masses will have had enough and will attempt to grab the means of production, when this happens, it is quite probable that the flame of revolution will catch up all over the world and everyone will rise up together. This is what the Russians were expecting in 1917, and when this didn't happen, it is why they were defeated by Stalin's counter-revolution
My stance with him was that I will do whatever I can be the upper-middle class (or as close as I can get) of the variety who won't let him have his way, and that if I'll ever be able to, "my robots will kill his". He sees uninnovative workers as some useless human cancer, and nothing I posited against him changed him mind. I noted to him that variation is the ultimate means of innovation and success, but he just wouldn't listen. He's sure that anyone who is innovative like him (he designs robots) will get to live in the "capitalist Noah's ark". Frankly, I find the idea of workers being enslaved by powerful capitalists not only startling, but also not entire unrealistic. Capitalists ARE about exploiting weaknesses, and you can't say stuff like that haven't happened before. What can egalitarians such as us do except fight it with their own weapon?
When people don't have enough food, they can simply start working towards it. If I'm going to starve and I know I can prevent it by joining a farm, I will certainly do that. But do not forget that we are at a level already where our food production already exceeds our demand 6-fold. The only reason people are starving today, is because it is not profitable to feed them.
You cannot defeat capitalism in its own game. It's been tried before and it has failed multiple times.
In order for one of us to be able to compete with the capitalists, he must become a capitalist himself, thus he must exploit workers.
The only thing I've considered is forms of cooperatives, but even that, depends on if the cooperative can be more competitive than a corporation and I don't think it can, because ethics get in the way…
Again, I apologize. Both to you and to Blue
It's not problem. It's very difficult to get me riled or insulted anyway but thanks anyway. For my part, as I said, I tend to argue aggressively but I'm never angry or trying to be insulting…well, baring elitist Objectivist pricks at least 🙂
In the end, you have seen that it's easy to be misunderstood in the interwebnets. A thick skin helps to get past those initial hurdles and figure out that the other person is not so bad afterall 😉
Thank you, I apologize as well. We got on with the debate (that I didn't want to get involved in) a while ago anyways.
I'm sorry, I got a bit annoyed with the way you continued to accuse me of "holding my hands because humans suck", and I hope you'll cut that out, because frankly, I seriously considered pulling out of the debate, even though I'm extremely interested in it. I know it's a bit whiny of me, but I did say more than once that I'm not suggesting anything of the like you accused me of, and I tire of being continuously "abused" in such a way, so please, if I'm wrong, by all means, correct me, but refrain from assaults, miniscule as they may seem to you, on my personality.
Now that I'm done whining, let me ask you this:
suppose everyone is aware of the fact that people will get everything they want from other producers. This is incentive enough for everyone to work because everyone will be materialistically rewarded. "You stick to your end of the deal, and you'll get everything the other people produce for free". See, that makes biological sense. You scratch my back, I scratch yours.
I have two problems with that:
A.People of the same trade compete with each other, this is so ingrained in human behavior that the only ever hope we have is to try and maintain it. I'm sure that in a communist world, there is going to be lawlessness and prosecutors who fight against that, but still – on the whole, people will constantly have to drown a basic urge they have: to be better than the other guy. In fact, clinical depression (something I sadly have personal acquaintance with, results often from the fact that you feel inferior or not good enough. To suppress the need to compete and win is dangerous)
I think communism could work just fine if you allowed people incentives to work harder or to be innovative.
B.As opposed to societies who are more warlike, more intra-competitive, a communist society will be weaker. Strong competition, as evolutionary theory clearly shows, is an enormous evolutionary engine. Communist societies as a whole will simply evolve more slowly, ceteris paribus. I'm not saying that don't have to evolve, I'm just saying that they will evolve slower than more competitive societies. To me, the idea that everyone helps each other and gets things for free is a wonderful idea, and the crux of communism. But suppressing competition and denying the fact that humans are not naturally equal (I'm sorry, but mental retards aren't equal to you and me and I can't play the guitar like Dave Matthews, no matter how much I practice) is dangerous. We must be aware of our differences, encourage our strong to be productive, allow them to enjoy it, while still taking a portion of their wealth to allow a dignified existence for those who can't fend for themselves, and above all: we must encourage the lazy to work and that means, not to give them the possibility to get what they need without breaking a sweat. You do that, and your economy will fall because the lazy will refuse to work and the industrious will refuse to work for their sake.
A communist world will have to take into consideration the limits of the human species. Once it does that, it's more than a wonderful, truly utopic ideology, it's also feasible.
I'd like to end this reply with the mention of Kibbutzim. I'm sure that you've read a lot about communism and are very learned about the subject, but I, on the other hand, grew up in Israel, a socialist country that's has "pockets of communism" till this day. A Kibbutz is a communist settlement par excellence, no two ways about it. Do you want to know how successful, how egalitarian life in the kibbutz is? The dream died, and not because people didn't try enough. It just couldn't work. People became too greedy, people became to shallow, people wouldn't pitch in and people spat on the weak and favored the strong. Politics got involved and the communist ideal was in tatters. This is something that's happened in countless experiments in Israel for the past 60 years.
So, have some consideration of my "biases" before you think I'm nothing but a nay-sayer. If you've witnessed an idea fail again and again for centuries, you might think twice before thinking it's the next big thing.
I'm not saying it's impossible, I'm willing to say it could just might work if it's tuned for human behavior, but you will be downright dishonest if you say I have no reason to be skeptic about its chance to succeed, unless real, informed changes in the way the regime works are made.
By the way, most of the kibbutzim today survive almost entirely because of privatization. The ones that aren't in economical tatters are surviving because of free-market competition. They're nothing but rural communities with a proud past.
Db0, show me how this could work with human nature, and I'll follow you to the rallies.
And I've seen others who screwed each other over if it was lucrative enough. Does this disprove your idea? No. Does your anecdote disprove mine? No. You wanna know why? Because I never said that people don't co-operate, I said that humanity as a whole, as an metazoan species, has competition in its nature. Competition can be restrained, can be modulated to improve society, and a communist worldview which recognizes this is doomed to failure. So, now will be a good time to stop writing replies that begin with "Funny, enter snarky remarks here" and begin addressing my questions. Please, this is the first time you and I engage in online debate, and since we come from totally different worlds which we're both not familiar with, I ask you a degree of courteousness before eliminating my arguments using made-up anecdotes.
Honor my arguments, and mostly so if you refute them using evidence and reason.
Competition doesn't have to violent and it doesn't have to be a "zero sum game". This is why there's "friendly matches" and at that, this is why we have games. That's how you can reap the fruits of competition without hurting anyone and all parties gain from it because everyone improves their skill. No one has to die, no one has to lose.
You deny this chance to improve, and you weaken the society. Let the communist play, let the communist improve his own situation and don't let the communist slack off. Give them a reason to work harder that will come directly to them, because we have selfish components ot our personality and repressing these needs will do no good for the individual or society as a whole. Give them "worker of the month bonuses". Give them an extra car off the factory, give them an extra fancy meal. Don't treat them as though they're not special, because, well, they are, and treating them otherwise is enormously unjust.
Don't throw him to the wolves if he lost his job or is having a rough time, but coax him into working, coax him into being valuable to everyone else. THAT'S co-operation. Otherwise, it's just parasitism, and as you said yourself, parasites will find a way to have others work for them, and a just society must fight against it.
Why do you think that this might cause a problem? People who want to do the same trade are welcome to do so. They are under no fear of starvation if not doing well and indeed they will be able to work to their own rhythm and be as creative with their trade as they wish. The incentive we have for competition today is not because of human nature but because the system forces people to be as competitive as possible or go out of business.
Sure, there can be some kind of friendly competition, like a game, but nothing life & death as under Capitalism.
Again, I will point to free software. There's quite a few "competing" programs out there, even for whole desktop environments but they do not make anyone depressed or angry. Indeed they simply give more choice to people and allow everyone to be happier as they have what they prefer.
The argument of not allowing people to survive without working generally comes from people with a wrong sense of justice. These same people who rant and rave against aliens who get to live on the safety net (always assuming that they are simply lazy) don't have any problem with the non-working capitalists who not only do not have to work but also wield all the power.
This can't work without having a self-sustaining community already. To do that, you either have to grab the means of production from the people who have them (and part of those needs to be agricultural) which will trigger the same reacting from the state as any other revolution, or you have to have an agrarian society. An agrarian society living in communism alone becomes irrelevant and obsolete in the grand scheme and also prone to corruption from future generations who have not chosen this lifestyle.
Not exactly, there's two things that describe a society. Tolerance and Individualism. Their combination gives 4 society types. Tolerant/Individualistic, Intolerant/Individualistic, Tolerant/Altruistic, Intolerant/Altruistic.
Emulations and research has shown that Tolerant/Individualistic and Intolerant/Altruistic are the most competitive on an evolutionary scale. However this only makes sense if they have to compete with other societies and have a chance to become extinct. Indeed this is why Communism or something similar, which is Tolerant/Altruistic cannot not get hold even if it manages to appear in one society. It is outcompeted.
This is why Communism needs to happen internationally. If everyone in the world comes into a Tolerant/Altruistic society, then there will be, barring alien civilizations, no other society to compete with it and overcome it..
Under communism you also lose the need for the grand state beaurocracy and army which steals tens of thousands of manhours every day for unproductive purposes. All these people can easily reduce the workload for everyone and there is no need for "long hours".
Secondly, it is freedom when you know the needs of your society and voluntarily put aside your artistic aspectations until you can get your basics in order. If there is a demand for food, people will pool their resources to resolve this problem which affects everyone. It is in their best interests and thus they have the incentive.
Thirdly, compared to advanced machinery or tools, food is simple to produce. By removing luxury goods which are duplicated and nobody needs (but are convinced to buy them due to advertising anyway), a lot of industrial potential is freed which can be put to food production.
Societies have very often shown their willingness to cooperate to achieve a grand purpose many times now. That they will do it again for something as elementary as food or shelter is a given.
Once again you don't realize that we already have a food surplus. Your scenario is strictly hypothetical and attacks a communism that attempted to realise itself from scratch.
"When people don't have enough food, they can simply start working towards it."
When this occurs, the people no longer have the freedom to do whatever they wish without a worry about survival – this IS worrying about survival.
Actually, I think under a Communist society it would make sense that communities would require able members to contribute to the workload or simply not support them. Contribute being the key word. This of course is not my viewpoint when it comes to Capitalism.
And this is why Communism requires an industrialized society before it can take over. It needs food and shelter to be easily available. This is why communism in the agrarian societies of Russia and China could easily be undermined
I never said that Communism cannot work with friendly competition, nor did I claim that competition is necessarily bad. What I did claim is that it's not "human nature" that is preventing communism to come about. Indeed I do believe that if there is an urge for competition it can be channeled in ways that do not create inequality and do not harm the system.
That might as well happen within the community. But that is up to the workers to decide for themselves, not for me. If they wish to awards such bonuses to each other, then nobody is stopping them. You have to remember thous that there is no central authority which decides who gets what. If such measures are good to have, they will be organically created, similarly to how wikipedia rewards and rules were.
The problem comes when those bonuses start to create inequality which erodes the basis of communism. As I explained above, people have reasons to work hard and innovate even without third party reward, because their reward is their own productive work. Special people get to reap their own special fruit. And once again, if their community feels that they should be rewarded, they can.
This was never what I was talking about. Furthermore in communism one cannot "lose his job". I think you're too predisposed to how capitalism works and somehow merge that with Communism. These two are totally different. You cannot imagine an egalitarian society and then simply imagine it working with the rules of inequality.
Yes, there is an issue with making people want to work but. A) People want to work anyway. People feel the need to be productive by default.
B) People also want to be doing what they want when they are being productive. And communism is the system that allows you to do that. This, by itself is the coaxing people have . They can do whatever they like to be productive.
Wonderful! The first paragraph is spot on.
However, if you put workers who have the right spiritual status to work hard and to know that they reap their own rewards next to workers who have that AND the possibility of personal reward, I predict that the latter would produce more. This creates a whole range of problems, and the foremost is that communism will be weakened with that kind of competition AND without it. This is a problem I do not know how to resolve. Even if workers "didn't enjoy the sweat of their own brow" and only receive as any one else does, regardless of how much effort they put, and they're perfectly okay with that, there' still the problem that this eventually leads to less private incentive, even for innovation. People don't want to merely create and improve things because they like being creative, they like doing this stuff because it makes it better *for themselves*.
That said, communism will endure no matter what, and I'm not sure how this can be resolved.
I don't see it's a problem. As long as the rewards are not creating inequality as I mentioned, they wouldn't affect the system. It might simply create this friendly competition you were looking for. Why would I be jealous of the worker who manages to get public praise for being quicker than everyone else? Indeed I would be happy as that person creates less work for me to do.
But I never proposed that. If the workers do not keep their own labour products, who does? There's no capitalist to take the surplus value. There's no government to redistribute it.
The incentive is always there because people always keep their full labour products.
Not absolutely true. Many people are being creative for the sake of it. For example artists. But yes, many others like doing stuff because what they do rewards them. However only under communism are people rewarded with anything that they produce, and this is the incentive to be more productive and innovative. You reduce your own hours and you get a better product.
Why are food and shelter so easily available in an industrialized society? Industrialized society requires more people living in more urban areas, thus creating a larger need for infrastructure and support from people outside of the urban areas. This also means more people engaged in food creation, transportation and infrastructure maintenance – not to mention a greater need for leadership and planning.
An industrialized society is complex and requires people to fill many roles with varying degrees of power. How many people with complete freedom to do what they want will spend long hours growing and preparing food or filling potholes on the highways while their peers are becoming artists and philosophers?
Just as I would cede the point that communism could work in small settings, I also believe that can only work in agrarian societies where the potential roles of people are simple and needs are more easily met. Russia and China's failures were not because they were agrarian societies but because they (a) too large and (b) tried to industrialize. And in both cases, the complexity of their societies led to a "leadership class" of privileged people who took advantage of the communist attitudes of their people.
I am not satisfied with your argument. "When people don't have enough food, they can simply start working towards it" is capitalism and in contradiction of your thesis that communism allows people the freedom to do what they wish without having to worry about survival.
Your idea works much better in a technological world. If innovation can lead machines to do most of the work, workers will have to work a lot less and still have abundance of all they desire.
I believe that you and I are finally in accord. I think most of what's unclear to me is how to create a communist regime that's just, now that the principles are apparently coherent. People will want to be specially rewarded, and that means that people with power are going to be the ones rewarding them. You have to create a balancing system that means that no boss is too powerful and no worker fails to enjoy his extra work. That way, the only difference between communism and today's capitalism is simply much less government funded greed.
I think it just might work, but the details are the ones that scare me. My grandparents lived in the soviets, Israel's still suffering from the effects of its own communist attempts… I think communism is a wonderful idea, but it seems to fail miserably once people actually try to fulfill it. Now, me? I'm not strong enough to believe in an idea after it fails so many times. I wish it didn't, but I have to tell you, the bad history with humans trying to implement communism disheartens me. Now, I simply try to make the best of the situatina, pushing towards a hypothetical communist ideal, but rather dreading the "revolution" and itsconsequencs.
If you work for extra hours you work for less hours? That doesn't make sense, people will always want to work more if it rewards them somehow, and if they don't work much and that's their reward, then they won't get any rewards Oo. This is a bit confusing, I admit.
I also wonder what would people do once they finish getting what they produce. I imagine a car factory worker getting his car and then immediately lose the incentive he formerly had: getting a car. Of course, everyone gets everything for free, but some people are more greedy than others, many won't do with a car. You work hard and then you keep getting a better car, now that i understand I think a good way for your system to work is by annulling people's rights to get stuff for free unless they pitch in, as a sort of "punishment for the lazy" . This will make everyone work because their work is the price they pay for enjoying the communist regime, and without doing that work, they don't contribute to the dream, and thus aren't allowed to enjoy it. Of course, special clauses can made so that people will always get an amount of food or housing, but not, say, cars or computers. I think that a good communist regime will be extra aware of the psychology of the working class, that people work so that no one is left behind or more ahead than he should be.
"From each according to his abilities, to each according to his needs." – Karl Marx
There will always be those people who require less of society than they have to offer. It is a segment of these people who will always be in competition with the socialists. As you stated earlier, as long as competition remains with us, communism's full glory can never be realized.
Not at all. In very small communities perhaps, but these small communities end up being overtaken by imperialism. Communism will only be realised internationally and for that industrial production is necessary and already exists
Their revolutions had already failed when they tried to industrialize. Yes, they were too large but that was only a problem because they did not have the industrial capacity to support this size. They also failed because of foreign imperialism and a lack of communist understanding in the larger population.
This subject is too large to discuss here so I suggest we drop it.
Being more productive does not necessarily mean working longer hours. It can also mean working faster or smarter. People who obviously want to work more than what is needed can be doing it for two reasons.
1) They're bored and this is their hobby. Thus they do not expect any reward for it, in the same way that I don't expect any reward for playing videogames. Doing it is its own reward
2) They wish to help others with reducing the time others need to work. This will not always be possible as for example a car factory cannot work with just one person, but even when it is, the reward is simply the expected praise and love from their fellows.
If someone does need to work more, and this is conceivable if the necessary hours are reduced enough through communism, then one can always pick up a second job. But at this point people are not working for the rewards (unless the second job will provide them with something extra) but because they need to work. Thus they are certainly not lazy.
Communism realized does allow them this freedom. What it does not allow them, which I'm guessing you are thinking, is the freedom to have luxuries while others are perishing from starvation. For this is the only possible outcome when food production is insufficient but people still want to do other stuff.
Under capitalism of course it's even worse, where we have overproduction of food, but people are still starving by the thousands.
I do not see the contradiction you speak of. People working to achieve something they do not have is not a characteristic of capitalism in any possible understanding. It is a way of life.
You are trying to posit the hypothetical scenario of lack of food as the only practical reality and then try to argue from there that communism somehow is not free. But your scenario is both unrealistic and also against the basics of Communism which requires a society industrialized enough so that such issues will not come up to any severity, before it can be used.
I tackled this above. Yes, some people would undoubtedly lose interest in car manufacturing once they get a car but they will still need to be doing something in their life. Perhaps car making will be a good enough job to continue doing it. Perhaps they will find simply another job that fits them more. This is not a problem.
That is not my statement. My statement is that competition can be both reigned in and also pushed toward other purposes that do not conflict with Communism.
The only way Communism cannot be realised is as long as Competition is the driving force of societies and progress.
Why would these people be in competition with Socialists? If they require less than they offer, then they're surely content.
Something like this. It doesn't even have to be something official. People living with the lazy people will be exerting pressure to them to do their societal duties, similar to the way your wife or husband is pressuring you to do your part of the house chores. Fear of ostracism would probably be best incentive not to be lazy. And as I mentioned above, even if you did have just a few parasites, it does not harm the overall system.
Definitely. This was the understanding of Marx from the start. Communism needs Capitalism before it to have set the industrial infrastructure required. Communism is not possible in an agrarian society at all, and the Russian and Chinese histories have proven how true that was.
Why? I don't understand why you insist on this system. To have "people in power" is contrary to the system of communism outright. I believe that people will find Positive Freedom to be its own reward and the only further reward that can be given is Kudos or public praise.
if there are people who wish to be rewarded by extra material goods, they will certainly be in the minority and the others should not care abotu it. But if they are in the majority and jealousy is abundant, it means that they system is still disfunctional.
No. The difference is that in Communism there is no "Boss". You are trying to think of something like a Capitalism with a lot of checks and balances. This does not work. You need to think outside of the Capitalist box to understand how it can work.
The situation those attempts happened is what possibly led them to doom. There was not enough industrial infrastructure before, people did not even know what communism is and they were assaulted and opposed by imperialist capitalists as soon as it seemed as a succeess. Do not assume that communist attempts simply failed of their own accord as if they are inherently faulty.
Unfortunately to understand this, you have to read the history of such movements and also what Communism requires before it can work. It's not quick but if you want to learn, there's no other way and it is definitely worth it for a seeker of truth.
PS: For the record, I have read not even 1% of the Marxist material before I understood even as much as I have now. I still have a lot more to go but this is an example of how a little can go a long way.
But don't you see how incredibly narrow the circumstances for creating this form of society are? The Bolshevik revolution came close in a single country but even then, you admit that the people were not well-informed enough about communism to reach its full conclusion. How are the people going to be properly informed on a global basis?
And in the Bolshevik revolution, another problem is that leadership was required to coordinate the rise and revolt of the workers and then those leaders did not relinquish their power once it had been attained. A global revolution would require greater leadership at many more levels and for all of those people to use their power appropriately and then relinquish it. The world simply does not have enough George Washingtons for this to work.
Once again, you are theoretically correct but misunderstanding everything we know about human nature when dealing with the practicality of it.
Me and you and everyone else who believes that communism is a superior system needs to keep informing other people. The Russians did not have global instant communication in their disposal, we do. Most Russians were illiterate. We're not.
You should not compare the situation in a country just coming out of Feudalism and attempting a revolution which required Capitalism before it with our current world
The only reason why the Bolsheviks needed to lead was that most people didn't know the first thing about socialism and thus were looking towards the people who were revolutionaries from the start. The Bolsheviks did not actually need to do anything to coordinate the rise and revolt of the workers, this happened orgnanically. They only led the vanguard, and me and many other Marxists do not agree that such a vanguard is even necessary.
Oh not this argument again
My argument is not that it is human nature for people to compete. My argument is that it is human nature that large groups do not generally coordinate themselves without leadership and people who lead are often reluctant to relinquish their leadership.
I am not saying that it is impossible for leaders to emerge and relinquish power when necessary. Washington was a perfect example in the US. He clearly could have become our country's Napolean had he chosen but he relinquished power appropriately. But we are talking about leadership of the world, continents, nations and communities all being proper stewards of their power and history has not shown that to be the norm on average.
Read 'Animal Farm' by George Orwell. My guess is that this is a more likely outcome in most attempts at communism than the one you are hoping for.
Given the world as it stands today, I do not believe that the world's workers can rise up and grab the means of production and run a sustainable society without some form of leadership. You and I will have to disagree on this point.
When people who empower this leadership are self-realized and not simply sheep, they can force the leader to relinquish it by simple fact of not obeying his orders. This was what happened in barbaric societies.
Once people understand when a leader is going the wrong way, then those people can stop following them. It is only because people have been brainwashed to blindly follow orders why leaders can hold on to power.
And this is another kind of mentality we need to spread.
As it stands today, I would agree. It is our duty however to help make the world such that it is more open to communism. Not simply stand idle or support a flawed system
At the heart of this debate is the idea of fairness. Socialists tend to look at fairness in terms of what is fair for people to receive from society. Capitalists believe that fairness should have to do with both how much a person contributes to society and how much they receive from it. You and I will never see eye-to-eye on this and neither will many other people.
Believe it or not, there are people who believe that they are slighted by society when society does not reward their contributions commensurately and are not at all content to receive only what they require when contributing far more than that to the greater good.
I happen to think that it will be futile but wish you luck in your attempts. I believe we have reached our impasse.
Actually no. There's many types of "socialists" so it's not easy to say what all of them want.
What communists consider fair however is that no person should have no power over another, no matter how much wealth or reward the later has accumulated.
The capitalist fairness never has to do with how much a person contributes to society. It has to do with how much wealth one has, for the ones with more wealth, under the capitalist system, get the reward, no matter if they do not contribute anything.
What is contributing "far more to the greater good"? Accumulating wealth? If contributing to the greater good can only be achieved through communism, then these people are obviously not doing that.
What you meant to say is that some people feel slighted when they do not receive more, the harder they work. But this is not true under Capitalism either. The people who receive more, are the ones who do the easiest jobs, or no work at all (but simply let their wealth work for them).
The people with the most difficult, dangeour and unwanted jobs, who do contribute the most to society, are rewarded the least.
Furthermore, under communism only do people who work harder get the full fruits of the labour, for they get to keep the surplus of it as well, unlike capitalism where it does not matter how hard the worker works. Their surplus is always skimmed by the capitalist.
"What is contributing "far more to the greater good"? Accumulating wealth? If contributing to the greater good can only be achieved through communism, then these people are obviously not doing that."
I do not believe that the greater good can only be achieved under communism.
"What you meant to say is that some people feel slighted when they do not receive more, the harder they work. But this is not true under Capitalism either. The people who receive more, are the ones who do the easiest jobs, or no work at all (but simply let their wealth work for them).
The people with the most difficult, dangeour and unwanted jobs, who do contribute the most to society, are rewarded the least."
I disagree. [Capitalist] economics says that people are paid based on the value they provide. If the job requires no skills or resources but is important to society, then society will pay what is necessary as incentive for people to do them and no more than that. If a position requires that someone have more skills or resources (such as personal wealth) to perform it, then there is added compensation for the fact that fewer people are available to perform the role – even if there is no work involved. In this way, resources are put to work where they are most needed by society. Supply and demand is not a perfect system or a perfectly fair system but it works – especially in more complicated societies.
"Furthermore, under communism only do people who work harder get the full fruits of the labour, for they get to keep the surplus of it as well, unlike capitalism where it does not matter how hard the worker works. Their surplus is always skimmed by the capitalist."
People do not receive the full fruits of their labor under this system. Regardless of their labor, they are rewarded with their basic needs being met. And the surplus is not "skimmed" – it is earned by those who provided the resources necessary for the worker to do his job.
Let's take the example of an automobile factory. The factory did not come into existence because the workers got together and built it. There was someone who designed a car that they thought people would want. There were people who took their money (the value society rewarded them from other areas) and built a factory to build the cars. There were people who engineered a process by which materials for the factory could be transported to the factory. There were people who created the production process through which the cars could be produced efficiently. There were people who found the best ways to transport the cars to the public. And then on an ongoing basis, there are people who keep the process running smoothly and make sure that all of the various workers from those producing the the cars, to those delivering the resources or transporting finished goods are all working together. There is intangible value in design, leadership and organization as well as the very tangible value of people who worked hard to create excess wealth used to provide an environment where the worker can work.
Given all of this, what right do the workers have to say that their labor is solely responsible for the cars that are produced at the factory? This is not to say that the final tally is always "fair" but capitalism rewards value created – not effort expended.
And obviously this is not happening. The people who do the nastiest and most necessary work are paid the least. Most raw resources are taken from 3rd world nations from people being paid peanuts. Most products are created in 3rd world nations simply because the worker costs are low.
It's not "society" that pays the workers, it's the capitalist employer, and the capitalist will always pay the least possible amount.
It's exactly this kind of deluded thinking about Capitalism that annoys me about his apologists. In a world where it os obvious that people are exploited, you insist that living on 2.50 a day is what they deserve.
But why this is fair is beyond me. That someone was born into wealth and as a result he gets rewarded for it by not ever having to work but also wielding all the political power does not make it fair. That the poor cannot afford to acquire the skills or resources to be included in the "fewer people available" which get all the wealth does not make it fair.
No. Resources are put where they can make more money for the capitalist. That is why more resources are put into research for beauty products instead of disease prevention. The rich can afford to be beautiful, but the poor cannot afford to be healthy.
You reasoning is perfectly circular. You assume is resources are put somewhere, it is because that is needed by society. And it is needed for society because resources are being put there.
Supply and Demand certainly works, but capitalism is not the only system that can use it. Indeed, I would argue that is because of Capitalism that supply and demand cannot work.
Btw, please read and follow the comment policy. If we're going to have a long discussion I'd rather have it in a way that it's readable. Use blockquotes and a new comment for each different quote you're tackling
Err no? They own whatever they make? This is the most basic aspect of Communism?
First of all, the people who provided the money for the initial investment did not necessarily work for it. That is the common delusion of Capitalism who assumes that the people with the wealth must somehow deserve it.
The people with the wealth on the vast majority of the time have inherited it. And on the chances that they haven't, it's quite possible that a) it's government subsidized b) they didn't work for it. Their money did.
And even if these entepreneurs put their money, eventually the factory gives them back their ROI. Do then the workers get to own the factory that they helped make productive? Of course not.
Now that this is out of the way, let's continue to your example. All the people who helped design this factory and the cars, obviously deserve part of the production, I never claimed that only the ones building cars deserve to be rightfully compensated for their labour. Everyone who provided labour for the factory deserves to own the fruits of his labour.
The only difference is that you believe that the people who have the more wealth, always deserve to get more wealth. Thus the workers must get less, and the leaders must get less and the innovators must get less, so that enough is left over to go to the people who did nothing else than provide the money.
In effect, Capitalism only rewards those who have money. Not those who create value, the workers.
"Communism or something similar, which is Tolerant/Altruistic cannot not get hold even if it manages to appear in one society. It is outcompeted.
This is why Communism needs to happen internationally. If everyone in the world comes into a Tolerant/Altruistic society, then there will be, barring alien civilizations, no other society to compete with it and overcome it."
This is your statement and I contend that it will never happen because there will always be competition.
Then you misunderstood me. I did not mean competition in general but external competition to communistic society. As in the case of having only one nation revolt into communism while surrounded by capitalist nations and depending on them for supplies.
In a theoretical world with endless resources, where everyone was living in a first world nation, perhaps. In our current world no. When one is starving, he gets whatever job he can get, no matter the strings attached. Thus he is coerced by the societal structure into accepting exploitation. This is not voluntary any more than me pointing a gun at your head and threatening to work in a factory for cents in an hour, or else. The fact that you are free to chose the factory does not make my gun pointing any less immoral.
Also the workers are not compensated for their time and productivity, they are exploited out of the true value they create. In effect, because the alternative is starvation, the workers have to accept to work for a small percentage of their contribution.
Maybe you haven't picked up on the subtle clues but I do not believe in communism. But I enjoy a debate about its merits with someone who is willing to have a thought-out and rational debate.
This is not about believing in Communism, it's about knowing what you're challenging and not arguing against strawmen.
Furthermore you need to be clear. You do not believe in Communism because you think it's inherently flawed or because you think it cannot be achieved?
"In effect, Capitalism only rewards those who have money. Not those who create value, the workers. "
This is patently untrue. Bill Gates wasn't born rich. Sam Walton wasn't born rich. Andrew Carnegie wasn't born rich. These people created enormous value in society and were compensated. Of course there are examples to the contrary but pure capitalism rewards those who create value either through their hard work or good investments.
In the example of the car factory, the workers are not slaves. They are compensated for their time, efforts and productivity. If this were not the case, then they could go elsewhere to work. Employment is a voluntary relationship.
You really don't understand the problem of scarcity. How do the steel mill workers give away the excess steel? First come first serve? Or perhaps they have to decide whether they think building cars is more merited or building trains is better. How can they know? Do they vote?
We live in a world of scare resources and it's impossible for everyone to have what they want. There aren't enough of any finished good for everyone to have as many as they wanted (or in most cases even one).
The free market isn't the only way to solve the problem of scarcity, but the problem does exist and it at least needs to be acknowledged. What do you propose would solve this problem and what should be that system's goals? Efficiency? Fairness? Something else?
Perhaps you could direct me to other resources that would support that argument.
This article is obviously a very simplified explanation of this aspect of Communism. Do not expect detailed solutions in 500 words. In order to find out how exactly Communism proposes to deal with issues such as these, you need to read Marxist writings yourself. I will try to find you some kind of link or reference but you can also look yourself on the Marxists.org archive.
I'm not claiming that there's enough for everyone. It is better however for some not to have a second, third or tenth car so that 1 million others can be fed. There is certainly enough food and shelter for everyone so we can certainly put our resources to distribute it. From then on, we can put our resources to finding ways to making enough stuff for everyone. If that means going into space and mining asteroids, so be it. It's not done for profit so who cares?
Late response, but this is false insofar as people can only pay for what they have the means to pay for; nobody who's in need of disease prevention pays for beauty products in priority. The fact is, the people who are truly in need tend to have so little money that they're barely considered on the market. The "demand" in supply and demand is only the demand of those who have the means to pay. People whose lack of money prevent them from having access to most goods are simply not considered by the market; if you have no money, you don't influence the market at all. If you have as little as the most needy on this planet do, you barely register.
Indeed. The word you're looking for (in case you weren't aware of it)
is “effective demand” and is the primary reason I consider that
Do you mean disease prevention or medicine? Because when I think of "disease prevention" that usually means costly research into fancy, costly drugs.
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