Essay talk:Reply to Vlad Draconis PenDragon's anti-capitalistic remarks

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Printable version: Nathan Larson (talk) 09:46, 26 November 2012 (MSK)

His further comments:

One of the things that intrigued me the most about Gen. Hammond, when I read about him, was that he described himself as an anarchist-communist. There really aren't that many of us out there, so seeing another was very pleasant.

One of the things I had a hard time getting Rob to understand last night was that Anarcho-Communism ISN'T a proposed economic system. It's a lack of belief in the need for an economic system, and the belief that ANY economic system is inherently flawed, injust, illogical, and morally wrong.

It's a LACK of system. Because to have a system, you MUST have regulation. Look at capitalism for example. (Capitalism as Rob defines it is not capitalism as I define it, btw; likewise socialism is not either.) The ideal that most libertarians seem to have of capitalism is that without regulation, with a truly "free market," free of all regulation, liberty is possible. The problem I have with that is that without any regulation, capitalism is simply an opportunistic pursuit of self-interest in the form of "capital" or profits. So, according to the primary principle of capitalism (the pursuit of profits for oneself), it is perfectly acceptable to change the governmental system to guarantee increased profits, which then destroys the free-market by adding regulation to it. Capitalism is inherently canniblistic. I could see it being a good idea, if ALL capitalists were idealists, who had the best interest of the entire system in mind; but capitalism is, at it's core, an individualist thing, and the individuals who practice campitalism almost invariably don't give a damn about the system. If they can increase their profits by sacrificing the stability of the economy, they will. Because what happens to the company in question after their retirement from it is irrelevant to the individualist capitalist. Capitalism only works on a large-scale, without sacrificing the free-market, if almost noone practicing it is individualistic.

That's one of my biggest logical problems with it. In order for it to work, the capitalist has to care more about the people than about thier own bank account, and there aren't many capitlists who do. Case in ppoint: outsourcing. Thats problem 1

My reply:

Just as a side note, the term "capital" is used differently in finance and in economics. In finance, capital refers to money used in business, investing, etc.; in economics, it refers to capital goods, which are goods produced by the application of labor to land, and which are used to produce consumer goods rather than being consumed directly. An example would be a tractor; it's produced by applying labor (e.g. machinists' labor) to metal (part of the land). The tractor does not satisfy wants directly, but it is used to produce food that will satisfy people.

The term "investment" is also used differently in finance and in economics. In the former, it refers to putting money into ventures with hope of making a profit; in the latter, it refers to using resources to produce capital goods (rather than for consumption). E.g., if our economy has a certain amount of labor available, we could either invest it in infrastructure (a capital good that will be helpful in the long run) or we could use it to produce consumer goods for immediate consumption. Disinvestment occurs when we let the capital goods get used up (e.g. if we let the roads get a bunch of potholes rather than repairing them, because we care more about short-term consumption than long-term consequences).

Both communist and capitalist countries have to concern themselves with capital and investment, as the terms are defined by economists. For that reason, I don't know why capitalism is called "capitalism", other than that people who support capitalism say that it's the only system that is effective at increasing our wealth capital goods. They also say that capitalism is superior at producing consumer goods, though.

How do you define "economic system"? A system is a set of connected things or parts forming a complex whole. Any state of affairs in which people are cooperating, then, is a system, even though it might be self-organizing. If the cooperation involves the use of economic resources (i.e. resources whose availability is limited), then it's an economic system.

Even if people don't care about what happens after they retire from a company, they still have a pretty long career in the meantime. Suppose that over the course of a 40-year career, they have to make sure that the company keeps chugging along. 40 years is a pretty good run. Google's only been around since 1998 (15 years), and they've accomplished quite a lot with the original founders still in charge. Even if its decline starts today, and it ultimately goes under in 2038, Google still will have done more for the consumer with the amount of resources it had at its disposal than any communist system or any cooperative owned by the lower-echelon workers.

Usually what I read about those cooperatives and communist systems is that either some small group of leaders takes over, and it turns into a republic (with all the disadvantages of a republic), or the workers end up having to spend a lot of time in meetings, which isn't all that fun or productive. E.g. it sounds like the people at AK Press have to sit through a lot of group discussions, in addition to their pretty heavy work load. A worker-owned cooperative is a democratic system, is it not? And you've said that democracy fails because it's either a plutocracy or an idiocracy.

There are a fair number of anarcho-communists on the Internet. I thought Mikey had a bunch of zines published by those guys.

Nathan Larson (talk) 00:00, 7 November 2013 (MSK)