The freedom to amass Capital breeds inequality and exploitation

Allowing people to accumulate is one of the main reasons why there is such a difference of power in the world. You’re granting the freedom to take freedom away.

Image by Annemarie Vriends via Flickr

A new member of the audience has asked me to expand on a previous comment I made where I mentioned in passing the phrase that is the title of this post. I think this warrants some expansion.

When we are talking about Capital we are talking generally about non-trivial means of production, factories and the like. These are things which the owner has no capability to use himself but has rather used the laws of private property to prevent others from using themselves.

The sole reason why any person would ever want to withhold a productive facility from being used freely, is if he wishes to force the people who would work there, to be exploited. What, in effect the Capitalist is doing is preventing the use of the factory which creates the passive coercion necessary for people to accept exploitation. To simplify this example, think of it as a person moving into an oasis and buying up the land the water rests in. That person then gives the people who live around the oasis the choice to either work 16 hours per day for him in the nearby coal mines or die of thirst.

Giving people the freedom to “buy the water” so to speak, is what allows them to exploit other people.

The inequality of this accumulation rises naturally in this situation. Under Capitalism money is power and Capital is the only way to turn money into more money. The more Capital one owns, the more money one makes. And when one has more power over other humans, this is inequality. This inequality is what skews all market exchanges and makes them unfair. Unfair to the benefit of those who have the Capital of course. There is a reason why the poor get poorer and the rich, richer and this is it.

It is this inequality that creates the misery in our society, not the bogeyman of the state or the caricature evil of organized religion. Both of these are toothless if no person in life has power over another person. Take away the state and leave the relations of Capitalism intact and almost immediately, new lords will arise, either through force of arms, or through force of ownership.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

I just realized I need to read Marx's Capital

We are always told that Marx’s economic analysis is obsolete and not worthy of consideration but in truth, it is as current as ever. just very very ignored.

I have already realized how important it is to be able to undestand Capitalism before you can argue for the need for socialism. That is because one needs to be able to show that Capitalism is flawed, breeding exploitation and inequality and against that Economists Engineers Capitalism proponents will be more than glad to argue.

One of the most classic and basic arguments I hear to this regard is that the Labour Theory of Value is obsolete and irrelevant. That Marx got it all wrong and that Neoclassical economics and especially the Austrian school have shown that it’s all about the Subjective Value. I have already made a small attempt to prove that the LTV still plays a role (imho the most important) and that have actually a dualist system with both Subjective and Objective values.

I was truly under the impression that Marx has somehow missed the subjective value of the equation and thus his argument seemed easy to refute and dismiss. That was, and I’m ashamed to admit, due to neoliberal propaganda. We’ve had it shoved into our heads by modern economists that Marx has already been proven wrong and he didn’t even get the basics right and the like.

It’s all bullshit. Marx understood very well the existence of the Subjective Value and that too was a very crucial part of his explanation of Value. I only realized this by watching an introduction to The Capital by prof. David Harvey who has been teaching the first volume of it for 40 years(!). Just from introductory session I understood that Neoclassical economics did not disprove Karl Marx, they simply ignored him.

This course is also the incentive I need to actually get down and read The Capital for myself and I believe that with the help of these lectures, I will be able to understand and digest the content much better.

I also suggest that many of you take the time to at least watch the introductory session. It clocks at around 2 hours but I believe it’s worth it at least to hear about it outside from the usual derogatory and propagandistic descriptions. Capitalism is the system that is affecting our lives day in, and day out and yet, so very few of us actually bother to understand how it works. The Capital is not a propaganda piece, it’s a attempt to find the rules that govern our current socioeconomic system, you can read it and make up your own mind on if a socialist alternative is required or not.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

The "Risk" in Capitalism is nothing more than a scare tactic

Loosing money
Image by Pulpolux !!! via Flickr

The most common argument I hear when arguing for the exploitation theory with Anarcho-Capitalists is the concept of Risk which supports the idea that the Capitalist deserves a share of the profits, even though he is not putting any labour in, himself. The argument usually goes somehow like this.

  • Me: ‘The Worker is being exploited because he’s not receiving the full results of his labour’
  • AnCap: ‘The Capitalist deserves part of the profit because he took the risk with his capital to start the company. If the company fails, the Capitalist has lost his money.If the company does well, he deserves to be rewarded for taking such a risk’

As I have to deal with this a lot, I think it might be worth writing my objections to the concept and how it does not counter the exploitation theory.

Risk does not exist once the Return of Investment has been made

We start on the situation where the Capitalist has wealth but not yet bought any means of production. He decides on a venture that he assumes will be able to make a profit and builds a factory to produce the product. At this point, we assume that his risk is that he might have judged wrongly and there might actually not be any margin for profit so he will end up not making up his investment on the factory.

Lets assume however that he was right and the new company does make a profit. This profit of course comes from taking part of the surplus value created by the workers and our Capitalist would claim that this is warranted since he deserves to make back his investment.

But the Capitalist will not stop there. When ROI has been made, and all his investment has been returned to him in the form of profit over time, the capitalist will continue to exploit the workers in order to continue making more money, over his initial investment. At this point, this exploitation cannot be claimed to be justified because of the risk, as there is no more “risk” to speak of. Even if the company were to go under, the Capitalist will leave with as much wealth as he came in.

You may claim that the Capitalist is worse off because he has not grown any richer from this venture and because present wealth is of more value than future wealth, then he has come out at a loss. Fine, I say, how much money does the capitalist deserves before the factory passes over to the workers? Two times his investment? Five? Ten? Of course for the Capitalist, the answer is that it is never enough. Any wealth the company makes is deserved because of the initial “risk”.

But any worker can see how absurd this is. The profit the capitalist has taken over the years from all the workers of the factory has paid the initial investment many times over, but the worker still does not own anything. Even though the workers have done all the work to make this company productive, they do not deserve to own it at any point simply because the capitalist was the one who had the money at the start.

The worker is taking a risk as well

Apologists of risk like to point out that the worker is not taking any risk at all, and this is why his wage is reduced. If the company fails, only the capitalist has lost any money (which as I pointed out above, will not be true after a while) while the worker can simply go out and find another job, keeping all the money he made from wages.

But how true is that? Does the worker really not take any risk? Of course he does. First of all, the worker is usually paid at the end of the month for the work he put during. If a company is facing financial troubles then it’s quite probable that wages might be pushed back one or more months during which the workers must use their savings to survive. They will be pressured to do this “for the good of the company”.If the company ends up failing after all, the workers have now lost their wage(s). That is a risk. The AnCap will claim that this is illegal and so on but the worker will not get paid either if the capitalist goes to jail. This very real and practical risk of the worker is never rewarded like the risk the Capitalist takes.

But that’s not the only loss the worker has. He might have moved areas simply because he wanted to get this job. He might have left a more secure job in favour of the new one which failed, and any number of other risk factors. None of these are worth reward by AnCap thiking however, as the only thing that counts is the chance of the capitalist losing his investment.

The reward is big, the risk is low.

The AnCap will claim that the Capitalist deserves huge rewards simply because he’s the one taking the huge risks. But if these risks are so large why doesn’t the capitalist share them in order to avoid stressing himself? Why does he not allow the workers to share the risk (which they already do anyway). The answer of course is because the rewards are much much higher than the risk which is generally low. We’re not talking about gambling here where you have, say, 1 in 36 chances to make 36 times your money. We’re talking about a situation where “market research” allows you to foresee where the ball will go to (and you have something like 1 in 10 chance to judge that incorrectly) and where the reward has no upper limit.

It is no wonder then that the Capitalist takes “risks” and doesn’t want to share those “risks” with anyone. If I am in a casino and I have 1 in 10 chance to not make 10 times my bet, then we’re not talking about risk anymore, especially not when I can simply put 10 different bets and assure that whatever happens, I’ll get out much 90 times wealthier.

Of course, the real risk in this situation does not fall on the capitalist, it falls on the system as a whole. Because when such a chance opens, every capitalist jumps onto the table and bets. And since only 1 in 10 can ever lose money, the casino soon runs out of money and goes bust. Replace “casino” with economy and you basically have the reality of a capitalist crisis.

“If the risk was low, then the workers would take it themselves.”

The AnCap of course will counter my above point as such: ‘Well, if the risk is so low, why don’t you take it yourself then? The fact that the workers don’t band together to pool the resources and take the risk is proof that they do not want it and that it’s not as low as you claim.’

The reason why workers do not take the risk themselves is that the capital that is required to have such a low risk is far beyond their capabilities to save. The known low risk investments have already been claimed and the Capitalist who owns them will request far more than the workers can ever accumulate through labour. The not so well known investments require money to simply discover them. Without this market research, your chances in the capitalist roulette are not 10 in 1 anymore but 1 in 10, and unlike the capitalist, you only ever have one chance to bet.

The only chance the worker or a cooperative then is left with, is to stumble upon an opportunity which has not been tapped already and thus the cost to enter it is low enough. This is how almost all recent self-made capitalists achieved it, from Bill Gates, to Steve Jobs to Larry Page. But this is about as practical for the majority of workers as is playing the lottery.

To get back to our casino example. Imagine a casino where the minimum chip costs as much as a well-off worker can make in a lifetime. Not only that, but if you have enough money, you may be able to bribe the croupier to tell you where the ball will land. When you win, you get paid with the money of people who are not playing. A well-off worker would be hard pressed to simply afford the minimum bet and even then he will still not have enough to bribe the croupier.


I hope I have provided you some arguments on why the candy of “risk” that the Capitalist will use at every opportunity is flawed. For me, this does not even begin to defeat the theory of exploitation as the the risks of capitalism are negatively proportional to the Capital one has.

I will leave you finally, with one quote from the Barefoot Bum who helped me round out this piece

If risk is all-important, why can’t the people get together and spread out the risk, instead of concentrating the risk in some capitalists, and allowing them to have tremendous power as a reward for taking risks?

That’s basically what socialism does: Take all of these differentials — risk, surplus value, political power, etc. — and spread them out to all the people, instead of concentrating them.

If it was a good thing to take political power concentrated in the king or the oligarchy and spread it out among the people in a democracy, why shouldn’t it be a good thing to take economic power concentrated in the capitalist oligarchy and spread it out to the people?

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Exploitation cannot be obscured in time

Hans-Hermann Hoppe tries to prove that Marxian exploitation is impossible because of the concept of time preference. This is a refutation.

In my recent travels in the Anarchist reddit, more and more I stumble on Anarcho-Capitalists who insist on pointing to articles in their classic haven, Apparently, the place to be is you’re a progressive capitalist. Due to the quantity of such links I obviously cannot read all of them (indeed I still have quite a lot of Marxist material to go through) but now and then I’m pointed to an article that just challenges.

So I have decided to start a little series which will contain all the refutations I write on articles. I hope to eventually have a nice collection of posts I can instantly post as counters to such links.

Today I was pointed to a rebutal from some guy called Hans-Hermann Hoppe on why the Marxian concept of exploitation is wrong and how the consequences of movements based on marxism are also wrong and disastrous. I will not attempt to refute the whole analysis but rather I will try to attack the central small core concept it is all based.

After a few paragraphs providing a short introduction of “the hard-core of the Marxist belief system”, and then a brief explanation of the Marxian exploitation theory, Hoppe finally goes to the offensive

Now what is wrong with this analysis? The answer becomes obvious once it is asked why the laborer would possibly agree to such a deal. He agrees because his wage-payment represents present goods, while his own labor services represent only future goods, and he values present goods more highly. After all, he could also decide not to sell his labor services to the capitalist and then reap the full value of his output himself. But this would of course imply that he would have to wait longer for any consumption goods to become available to him. In selling his labor services, he demonstrates that he prefers a smaller amount of consumption goods now, over a possibly larger one at some future date.

On the other hand, why would the capitalist want to strike a deal with the laborer? Why would he want to advance present goods — that is, present money — to the laborer in exchange for services that bear fruit only later? Obviously he would not want to pay out for instance $100 now, if he were to receive the same amount in one year’s time. In that case, why not simply hold on to it one year, and receive the extra benefit of having actual command over it during the entire time? Instead, he must expect to receive a larger sum than $100 in the future, in order to give up $100 now in the form of wages paid to the laborer. He must expect to be able to earn a profit — or more correctly, an interest return.

Now this immediately falls afoul of an assumption: That the worker does indeed value present goods more than future goods. This however is begging the question: “Why is the worker valuing present goods more?”. The answer is of course need. The only reason a person would prefer to have less money now rather than more later (and that “later” can be as short as 1 hour from now) is because they have an urgent need that they cannot ignore until later. That urgent need can only ever be food or shelter.

If the worker has the capability to feed and shelter himself until he could reap the future value of his product, he would certainly do so. Indeed, when people have enough money to survive, very often they invest their money as well or start their own business. The problem however is that not everyone has this luxury. The vast majority of humans can never leave the working class and move to the capitalist or petty-bourgeois because they start at the condition where their basic needs are not fulfilled and because they do not own any means of production.

This is not an voluntary choice. This is a choice based on passive coercion. It is beneficial for the Capitalist who can select a low wage for the starving worker, but it is not beneficial for the worker who might only get a present value enough to simply sustain himself until the next day.

But lets look at this another way. Hoppe claims that a worker benefits because he receives present goods which he values more, in return to losing future value goods. There is another function in society which does the same however: Credit.

With credit, I can receive current goods in return of losing goods in the future. The difference of goods I lose is not too large usually but is enough to put me back a bit, making me poorer in the long run. True, I only get credit when I have such a need where current goods are more valuable in utility.

Now consider a hypothetical human who enters adulthood without any wealth. The only way for him to survive to the next day is to take 10$ credit for the food he will eat and the place he will live. That does not give him any real value other than his continued existence to the next day, where he will be actively poorer by the 2$ interest he was charged. So once again he has to get 10$ credit for the next day and so on, yet becoming more indebted as his debt increases by about 2$ per day.

Notice that I said, that this is the only way he can survive as well. That means that he has no choice but to fall more and more in debt daily until eventually it’s time to pay the piper. This situation should immediately strike us as wrong. Is it fair that our sample human’s only choice is to put himself more and more into debt without a way out? Of course not.

Lets take this example and apply to a worker’s position. The worker comes out to the society and has no other way to survive but to get a job from a Capitalist. The capitalist will, as Hoppe claims, provide him with 10$ upfront in order to create for him a widget he sells for 12$. The worker uses his money to survive until the next day, where he again has to make another widget, enriching the capitalist by another 2$, and so on.

What is the difference between our hypothetical human and the worker? In both cases, they only get to survive from day to day, while the creditor or capitalists becomes richer, without doing anything, by 2$ per day. The only difference between them is that the workers settles his debt daily by producing a 12$ widget and giving it to the capitalist, while the hypothetical human accumulates debt. But the end result is the same. At the end of 10 days, the human will have to come up with 20$ (the creditor does not care how. Perhaps sell his organs) to pay back. The end result is a 20$ richer debtor/capitalist.

But like the situation we put our hypothetical human was unfair, so is the situation we are putting workers every day. The scenarios were simple but the basic premises remain no matter the wage. Time-shifted or not, Capitalism is exploiting the worker by putting them in the unfair situation where they have to take the “credit” or starve. This “mutually beneficial” relationship assures that the worker will always remain poor while the Capitalist will enrich himself without doing anything. Indeed, this continued exploitation, will only ensure the Capitalist will be able to put more future workers in the same exploitative situation by taking control of the means of production so that they have no choice but to work for him.

Hoppe also asks why would the Capitalist borrow his money to the worker if he’s not going to become richer in a year? Why indeed. By himself the capitalist would not become any wealthier than his original 100$ and  as time passed, if he did not labour himself, his 100$ would decrease as he fed and sheltered himself. But the capitalist is not content to work like everyone else, he wants to become richer and not work at all, a societal parasite. He will look towards the immoral way of exploitation.

The “clean capitalist” who is mentioned in the article, does not escape this moral stigma simply because he didn’t get to inherit his fortune like most capitalists. Once you have capital, you always have 3 options.

  • Do nothing. Use the money that you saved to retire or have a luxurious life
  • Become a capitalist and exploit workers.
  • Bring other workers to your business without exploitation. As long as they work with you, they own what they make and they get an equal share of the surplus value. This is the only mutually beneficial way.

Hoppe continues:

Now what is wrong with Marx’s theory of exploitation, then, is that he does not understand the phenomenon of time-preference as a universal category of human action. That the laborer does not receive his “full worth”, so to speak, has nothing to do with exploitation, but merely reflects the fact that it impossible for man to exchange future goods against present ones except at a discount.

And this is simply untrue. First of all, the capitalist does not give the worker present goods. How many times have you been paid on your first day of work for what you’re going to do in the coming month? Never of course. The wage always comes at the end of the working period where the surplus value has already been created, even many times over. But yet, you do not gain the full value of your work even though you gave the capitalist “present goods” each day in the previous month in exchange for “future goods” at the end of the month.

But this has nothing to do with present of future goods nonsense. It’s all about who controls the means of production and who is starving. The only reason the worker cannot make surplus value for himself is because the Capitalist controls the way to make it and will not let him use it unless he agrees to be exploited. And the more people that are exploited, the wealthier the Capitalist becomes and the more means of production he gets to control, turning yet more people to exploitation and concentrating the wealth to the few.

I will not bother to counter the rest of the speech as it basically rests on the assumption that it has demolished Marx’s theory of exploitation. I hope I have adequately shown you how it has simply tried to obscure exploitation behind concepts of time and avoid the hard moral questions that undermine capitalism.

I’m not an economist expert or even a Marxist scholar so it’s quite possible that I am missing some fine point or argument from either side. However if this is indeed the only argument they have to declare Marx’s theories obsolete, then it’s no surprise that their system sounds so hollow.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

When 90% percent don't want Capitalism anymore, it has to go.

Pro-Capitalists claim that a social revolution should not happen unless everyone agrees to it. I point out the absurdity of such a proposition.

An Industrial Worker capitalist class critique
Image via Wikipedia

I was recently sucked into a conversation with Libertarians which I found after they linked to me. I know I really shouldn’t have done that but some times I can’t resist. Unfortunately I can’t really continue commenting there because the comment form they have there is slow, ugly and buggy and it generally not good for having a comfortable conversation.

As is classic, the main argument that was raised there was that the “Free Markets are the best ev4r”. Anything wrong with the world is blamed on the government and everything good on the “Free” Markets. This is based on the idea that anything that moves towards deregulation does well but anything that moves away does bad. As an example for that, the US was proposed which apparently for the last 30 years has been moving towards socialism (I kid you not, the greatest push towards neoliberalism in the history of the US and the world was actually a move toward socialism).

Other than the usual strawmen like equating communism with USSR and failing to grasp how it does not require a state another argument was put forward:

So again, you do not care what the other 10% want, you will forcefully take from them what they have earned for yourself.  You are blaming them for your own failures.  I have no desire or need to exploit anyone else in order to get what I want out of life.  I wish to treat everyone as equals while knowing full well that we are not all equal.  Some people have more desire, more ambition, more knowledge, more energy, more perseverance, and more skill than others.  I know where my faults lie and I know what I am capable of doing and I know that I am not equal to everyone else and not better than them either.  I am my own man, with my own desires, and I want to fulfill those desires without the need to force other people to shares them with me.

Indeed, I do not care what the 10% want because what they want can only be achieved by exploiting the other 90%. When the majority of the world wants to move to an egalitarian system where nobody is exploited, nobody had to starve and nobody has to work where they do not want, why should we care that we don’t spoil the party of those 10% who are living the good life?

Apparently for the Libertarian, having the vast majority of the people in abject poverty is fine and dandy as long as some of them have theoretically the chance to rise to the top. He assumes that the majority of the wealthy have risen to the top from the lower classes but that’s just just untrue. The majority of the people are born into their position and there’s a small minority that manages to rise above their class. The later examples have more to do with luck than it has to do with skill. Yes the people who become wealthy from poverty, have to have skill, but there’s much more hard-working, skillful people who cannot rise,  not because they are worse, but because there’s simply not enough room at the top.

But for a Liberatian that’s alright. As long as those 10% of humanity have absolute freedom, he can simply assume that their position is deserved. And anyone who dares to disagree must be a lazy bum who is simply not hard-working, skilful or competitive enough to achieve it. This reminds me of the common U.S. American arrogance where they assume that their position as world power was deserved because of how hard-working and skilful as a whole they are.

So yeah, I have no qualms in taking the means of production from the 10% who owns them and forces the rest of humanity to wage-slavery. I have no qualms in wishing for a better society where everyone has a chance to happiness instead of the minority who just happened to be lucky. And yes, prosperity today has much more to do with where and from which you were born than with how hard-working or talented one is.

Making happiness and life-fulfillment a lottery is simply selling humanity short.

The thing that is telling about Libertarians is how little they understand the system they support. The “Free” market is equated with Capitalism and all together is provided as a panacea.

I answered for you because I knew you couldn’t. You proved it too. “Seizing the means of production” is that not force? You still fail to understand free markets. I do not support coercion by force of the state, that is not a free market and it is not capitalism. On the other hand you support the idea of force, workers forcefully taking over the means of production from the owners of that production.

The “Free” Markets you’re wishing for cannot work without a government force behind them. Otherwise there would be nothing to stop criminals or enforce contracts. It is this state force that the Capitalists who controls all the wealth and power will seize and increase, for their own interests. It is this state force that the Capitalist will use to bust unions who “illegally go on a strike”. The idea of Libertarianism is simply Government protection only for the rich (more than it is now that is). It is not a problem to force starving people in brutal “voluntary” contracts and then use the government to enforce them. That is the coercive force that the “Free” Markets use.

When this force is rejected by the majority of the human wage-slaves, they will revolt and attempt to seize the means of production. The “non-coercive” Libertarians will immediately claim that they are assaulted, even though what is simply happening is the majority rejecting the minority’s rules, and will send the state to intervene. This, for the Libertarian is fair game for they are only protecting their “rightful property” after all.

This has been the history of revolution everywhere however. The oppressed majority rising up, without force and demanding equality, and the minority using the state machine to put them into their place. First it was the slaves, then it was the peasants, and now it’s the proletariat. And in every case, the minority was, in their own minds, in the right.

But when the vast majority wants to play a new game, there is not reason to keep playing the old one, simply because the ones who were winning already don’t like it. When there is a difference on what is “right” between the vast majority of the working class and the small minority of the bourgeoisie, I do not see why the small minority must have its way.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

How much are we all to blame for the situation in the 3rd world?

The developed nations are living the good life while billions are starving and homeless. This article explains why we share part of the blame.

Countries fall into three broad categories bas...
Image via Wikipedia

Another day, another argument. This time a socialist from reddit is taking exception to my previous article where I explained how the developed nations have taken summarily the role of the bourgeoisie against the 3rd world which is becoming the world’s proletariat. Specifically his argument seems to be that workers do not share any of the blame for the situation in the world but that it’s rather only the fault of the Capitalists.

He then asks for proof to the contrary and this is what I hope to tackle today.

Because you are accusing me and millions upon millions of other workers of exploiting other workers. I think its quite understandable that you prove to me that a link exists between the poverty of the oppressed workers in the third world and the relative prosperity of those in the first.

Alrighty then. Here we go.


There is ample evidence today to know that the nations we call “the 3rd world” today, did not become so by themselves. If you look at any of those nations’s history, all of them have been at some point in their past colonized by an imperialistic nation. Those nations that engaged in Imperialism as the ones we call today “developed”. The cost of this “development” was the supreme exploitation of others through slavery, taxation and outright theft. This not only slowed down the development of these nations but it outright put them quite a bit back, paving the way for the miserable people living within to be used as cheap labour by our current breed of exploiters.

But what does this have to do with workers? I claim that any person who benefited immensely from the atrocities of his ancestors, shares a moral responsibility to make up for it. To deny this is to claim that the son or grandson of a brutal dictator who plundered his way to wealth, deserves all his inheritance.

Our standard of life is high because our ancestors ruthlessly plundered the wealth of whole nations for their own benefit. This wealth through inheritance and supply-side economics eventually enriched the whole society.

This is not to induce guilt. I see no point in feeling guilty for the sins of the fathers since there was nothing one could do to stop it, neither does guilt invoke action. However our moral responsibility remains and will remain as long as those nations remain woefully inferior to ours. I wish to dispel the unbased notions that the western nations deserve their superior standing because we’re somehow better than everyone else.

The exploitation trickles down

The Capitalists of today prefer to outsource their factories and other means of production to undeveloped nations so that they may get the biggest surplus value possible. This surplus value, created with the labour of the extremely exploited nations does not even have a chance to improve their own lives even a bit through supply-side economics, but rather it is transported across the world.

The developed world nations are thus getting all the surplus value created by the exploited nations and then use that extra material wealth to create yet more exploitation and wealth. The definition of a Capitalist. And summarily, that is what we are. Our western societies as a whole have the wealth (initially achieved through imperialism), which they invest in order to make more wealth for themselves.

The worker that lives in that society gets to enjoy to surplus value along with everyone else. He may still be exploited but in a much smaller degree than any other time in history. This is why the Capitalists can successfully argue how you can just get a better job, or get retrained to a more lucrative position and whatnot. In our society, Capitalism retains the impression of functionality only because it floats on the foam of the blood of everyone outside it.

So what does this have to do with the worker? The fact that we are participating in this scheme means that we are at least partly responsible. By consuming the products created by such exploitation we are endorsing the continuation of this tactic. The Capitalist would not make a profit when people refused to buy shoes made by 13 year old girls and thus such a practice would eventually stop. Same for horrible conditions, wages and whatnot.

This would have two possible results

First, the capitalist would increase the working conditions and payment of his workforce to a point comparable to us if he wanted to sell in this market, at which point it cannot be considered exploitation from a national scale. This would have the effect of course that the prices of those goods would not be able to remain as low for everyone. Is this a worthy price to pay for equality and a clean conscience?. I say yes, but our friend has a different opinion.

Why should workers suffer in any way, to let the boss profit? Should not the workers in the importing nation demand to the government that only products produced by unionized workers earning an acceptable wage be imported? Yes I say, and let the capitalists take the cost! Not the workers!

But such an action would have the same effect. The only difference in the second case is that you involve the government (with all it’s impotence and protectionism of the Capital) to do what you should and could have done yourself. The end result will be the same though. The prices will raise and the “workers will suffer”.

The second option would be that since the Capitalist cannot make a profit from transporting and selling the cheap products to the developed nations anymore, he would instead attempt to sell them to the local population. To be fair, this option would probably be a possible outcome of the first scenario since the cost of transportation would decrease the profit too much.

So what happens then? First of all, the wealth that this nation produces does not leave it. It means that, at least, the lives of those societies are enriched, in a similar way that a worker reaps the rewards of his own labour. Certainly, the money goes mostly to their capitalist bosses but, at the very least, supply-side economics guarantees that the wealth which is kept in that nation is at least spread around.

Then, it also means that local businesses for the developed nations will start popping up again. Since the profit margin drops when having to transport and the worker costs in the developed nations are as high as here, Capitalists will prefer to invest in local businesses. This will boost the production of each nation in turn (as opposed to the current system where all the factories are outside) and increase the proletariat.

And finally, the last effect will be, unfortunately, increased exploitation. Once Capitalists cannot buy cheap labour in China and sell it expensively in Germany, the natural course of Capitalism will assert itself. Exploitation will increase. Wages will drop. More working hours will be demanded etc. The standard stuff with which Capitalism undermines itself and raises the awareness of the working class.

With one difference from the current situation. It will be universal. The workers of the world will be exploited at an equal degree. No more will the Indian see the American earn 10 times as much by doing half the work. No more will the French consider his countrymen superior because they happen to have a much better lifestyle than the Egyptian and thus “must be doing something right”. The workers of the world will go through the same struggle and become for once, internationally, comrades.

And when that happens, Capitalists of the world beware!

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Why feminism is simply fighting the symptoms, not the cause

No socialism without feminism
Image by Labour Youth via Flickr

Quoth the Barefoot Bum

I say that feminism and anti-racism are absolutely necessary and central to communism and socialism. But I also say that communism and socialism are also absolutely necessary and central to feminism and anti-racism.

I couldn’t agree more.

However I can expect the reaction of feminists or people targetted by racism when they hear this. Moral indignation that someone might propose that the problem is not what it appears to be. That somehow everything will be alright if we manage to convince enough people to treat women and non-whites equally.

But this is simply treating the symptoms of the disease, not the cause.

Women started becoming a second class citizen as soon as farming came around. Before that time, there was no sexism against women for their house duties were equaly important as the man’s. The man simply owned the tools and skills of the food production while the woman owned the tools and skills of the household.

The problems started occuring when private property came about through the increased production of farming and subsequently slavery. The man thus started owning more and more property (the tools of his trade) while the woman kept owning the same. And because mostly the tools of the man could be used in trade, he started owning the wealth. Thus the role of the woman was marginalized as she was not creating any wealth, and after enough generations, she ended up being treated as inferior.

This is all simplified but it is a historic fact that male sexism and the mistreating of women appeared as soon as private property became the norm. The only reason why women have now started to reclaim some of their equality is because Capitalism has forced them to enter the workforce, and like all exploited people, this exploitation is what is raising the awareness of their inequality.

This inequality is not because of some innate feeling of men to be sexist. It is because men have been the only ones until now who have been creating wealth. And the ones with the wealth wield the power. Thus the women, who were not wielding any power, ended up being considered inferior organically, just because it looked that way. Now that this is changing with more women becoming workers, feminism is becoming more powerful.

But Feminism is not going to remove the strain of sexism from the world, for the Capitalist system demands it. Women will always need to give birth and many of them still give up their careers once they get married. This means that there are more men working, creating wealth and thus wielding the power. And as long as the manhood wields on average more power than womanhood, sexism will exist.

Communism however takes this distinction. There is no wealth, and thus there is no power. The duties of the man, of creating products and bringing food, once again become equal to the woman childbearing. Women staying home to raise their children (or men doing likewise) are not weakened because this kind of work, is still work, even if it does not create wealth.

That is not to say that Feminism cannot achieve victories as it is. This is a given since Capitalism will eventually equalize men and women in its exploitation. But as the Barefoot Bum says, you will only have replaced being exploited for being a woman, to being exploited for being poor. Same shit, different name.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

The Bourgeois Nations

How come there are some nations where it seems that there is no class war anymore?

Map of Developed Countries according to the CI...
Image via Wikipedia

An argument I hear often in defense of Capitalism is how there is no more class struggle anymore and thus Communism has proven obsolete. How Capitalism has been shown to work and has only minor malfunctions.

This line of argumentation seems to strike immediately true to anyone living in a developed, or first-world nation. Aren’t we really, with some exceptions, living better than ever? Many of us work just 8 hours and then can go home and play with our playstation for the whole afternoon. We get at least 20 days of vacation per year and have enough money to travel the world. Even our poor can survive somewhat decently due to social security. Isn’t this really the proof that Capitalism does work?

Well, no.

What such a view of the world misses, is the amazing privilege the developed nations have. We are the minority who gets to enjoy the wealth of the whole world while living the easy & good life. The vast majority of the world lives in abject poverty and constant struggle. It is the citizens of 3rd world countries who are forced to do all the labour, with maybe a subsistence wage, so that we can get cheap goods.

In effect, we have turned the majority of our 1st world population into the bourgeoisie. Certainly we’re not all the same. We have also petty bourgeoisie and urban haute bourgeoisie and a minority of actual proletariat. The rest of them we have outsourced.
We are a nation of haves. We find it easy to have more. Our minimum wages can feed indian families for months. We are born into middle class and it’s almost impossible to fall below it.

And like the original bourgeois, we wield all the power. We have sent our corporations far and wide to mine the labour power of other nations so that we may reap the results. If those countries decide to attempt socialism and kick our exploiting corporations out, either we send in our armies, or we fund dictators to take them down and give us back our stuff.

Oh, and we consider ourselves magnanimous as well. For if we never went there, those people would be living even worse! At least our corporations pay them 9 cents an hour instead of 4. Nevermind that those nations are mostly poor because our ancestors robbed them blind during the age of imperialism. Now it’s different. We’re doing them a favour.

And this is who we are. There is no class division in our society because we are a society of bourgeois. We have turned the struggle of people into a struggle of nations, with our own nations firmly at the top. And thus, Capitalism seems just fine and dandy and anyone who says otherwise is simply someone living in the past.

But like the aristocracy of old, we cannot see our own privilege. We are born and raised on the assumption that we deserve everything we have. Haven’t I laboured hard to get as much money as others make in a year? Don’t I deserve this pair of Nike shoes a 11-year old girl made in exchange for a loaf of bread? Don’t I work my necessary 8 hours a day while others work 16? Of course I did. We deserve everything we make don’t we?

Well, no.

Does the slave owner deserve to live in wealth, even if he occasionally buys gifts to his property? (hint: We call it humanitarian aid)
Does the artistocrat deserve to live in wealth while living from the work of his feud?

If you answered these questions in the negative, perhaps you can see why Capitalism does not actually work as well as you might have thought. In the same way that Aristocracy does not work as well as the aristocrat throught and slavery as well as the slave-owner thought.

But even if you do not see the inherent unfairness in this system, do not worry, like all exploiters our time will come unless we recognise and change what we’ve become. Sooner or later, the proletariat we have outsourced will massively revolt and denounce our rule. It will claim our factories and farms within their own land and then we’ll figure out that we can’t eat “services”.

And when this happens, I assure you, the “humanitarian” and “liberal” majority who suddenly discovers the other side of the coin of the revolution will demand army intervention to get back our property. And then the true face of the bourgeois will reveal itself in it’s most ugly form.

So next time, before you declare Communism obsolete, look around and attempt to see who’s the exploiter. If you can’t tell, it’s you.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]