COMMUNISM & CAPITALISM.
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Compares these economic & philosophical systems. Definitions, practice vs. theory, production, ideology, unions, liberty, injustices, class & social relations, capital.... More...
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Compares these economic & philosophical systems. Definitions, practice vs. theory, production, ideology, unions, liberty, injustices, class & social relations, capital.
The purpose of this research is to examine capitalism and communism, with a view toward offering a comparison and contrast to these two economic and philosophical systems. The plan of the research will be to set forth a working definition of the key concepts to be examined, to provide a frame of investigative reference in which the comparison may occur, and then to discuss in detail the record and features of each system that illustrate differences, similarities, and as it were their pros and cons. For purposes of discussion, working definitions of communism and capitalism are required. The basis of communism is economic. The encyclopedic definition of communism identifies it as a "form of collectivist social economy in which the means of production and distribution are owned and controlled by the community . . . Until the ultimate stages . . . communism
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What is most crucial is that capitalismbe allowed to operate within the natural order of the universe. Tothis extent, classicism may be considered an adumbration on rather thandeparture from the physiocratic economic view. The key point is that unionization was secular, political, andpejorative, according to the capitalists who felt threatened by it. We see already that in whatever part of our country the Trades-Union leaders have succeeded in imposing themselves upon mining or manufacturing operatives, the results are the corruption of our politics, a lowering of the standard of intelligence and independence among the laborers, and an unreasoning and unreasonable discontent . The reason is that private citizens whohave no real stake except patronage in the prevailing system are notmotivated to make production productive. Labour-power is sold to-day, not with a view of satisfying, by its service or by its product, the personal needs of the buyer. He uses the term interchangeably with division oflabor. Only Yesterday. Still, Roemer falls prey to the assumption that he can put arational construction on elements of human behavior that involve emotionrather than reason. Roemerexplains that "self-ownership of productive talents need not be denied toconstruct a convincing argument against the massive inequalities existingin the capitalist world today" (172). . The self-evidentnature of capitalism as exploitative, and an appeal for its destruction,becomes apparent once he explains his position that labor achieves onlysuch value as capital chooses to assign it. New York: Bantam, 1962.Marx, Karl. . Indeed, the USSR has been at pains over most of thetwentieth century to preserve an anticapitalist economic system that Marxfound so reprehensible. appealed to the unskilled, the loggers,the miners, the boomers, the restless migratory men of the West. . In particular, Berger seeks to deal "primarily withthe noneconomic ramifications of the capitalist phenomenon" (1 ). In 1825, Owen purchased the land of the AmericanHarmony Society's Indiana property and "settled upon it his New Lanarkcolony when he took possession. He does not seem to think it necessary to discuss the charm of thelabor of inborn talent but rather refers to the fact that "the environmentinto which one is born is probably far more important for the developmentof one's talents than are one's genes" (171). Talent, it seems, will besubject to public ownership, but beyond the question of as it were freedomand dignity is consideration of what, under capitalism, a talented personreally has that isn't controlled by capital. New York: Schocken, 1965."Owen, Robert." Funk & Wagnalls New Encyclopedia. Thisis why in the instant research reference to capitalism will by and largealso involve reference to the full range of social and culturalinstitutions typically associated with it. . Some communistic societies in Britain, France, and the United Statespredated publication of the Communist Manifesto, sharing inclination if notideology. . Further, the division of labour implies the contradiction between the interest of the separate individual family and the communal interest of all individuals who have intercourse with one another (Marx "German Ideology" 16 ). Withthe assurance that only one never actually a member of the working classcould possess, Marx assumes a worker treasures the charm associated withuse-value labor but discounts any charm or sense of accomplishmentassociated with surplus value. the relationbetween capitalism and the amalgam of values commonly called'individualism'" (8). 199 ).Lord, Walter. Is it at this point that capitalism collapses of its ownweight and realizes Marxist stage theory after all? . . This may occur by virtue of the ability of leaders or the strengthof numbers, and Friedman explains the apparent inequities in economicdealings by citing the interference of government in transactions toproduce an artificial equality of outcome on one hand, and by asserting, onthe other, the general disappearing of class distinctions in the civilizedworld. That is why capitalist societies are less materialistic than collectivist societies (2 -1). Berger's conclusion from this kind of activity isthat "there can be no effective market economy without private ownership ofthe means of production" (19 ). Robert C. "The massive inequality in the capitalist, quasi-fascistdictatorships in many parts of the World is such an instance. A rise in the price of labour, as a consequence of accumulation of capital, only means, in fact, that the length and weight of the golden chain the wage-worker has already forged for himself, allow of a relaxation of the tension of it. "Industrialization," saysBerger, "brings about an increase in social [class] mobility" (58), and heelsewhere adds that "capitalism has shown an unsurpassed capacity toimprove the standards of living of virtually all strata . Without Marx or Jesus. . The plan of the research will be toset forth a working definition of the key concepts to be examined, toprovide a frame of investigative reference in which the comparison mayoccur, and then to discuss in detail the record and features of each systemthat illustrate differences, similarities, and as it were their pros andcons. Leaving aside the individual trauma associated with jobloss or underemployment of skilled workers in "secondary," service-sectorjobs, one advantage is that in the economy as a whole, wage inflation isheld in check. It is not too much to say that capital itself hasfostered the deindustrialization of its domestic economy, in pursuit of thebenefits of surplus value. Roemer is farmore cogent when he sticks to discussing the vagaries of "what publicownership of the farms and factories means . Or is the tension of political economy, in which capitalism points out thefailure of communism and communism capitalizes on the palpable failures anddegeneracies of capitalism, the real point? . This distinction is useful because traditional comparisons ofcommunism and capitalism have involved comparisons of entire ways of lifethat were presumed to have been "natural" to the societies affected by oneeconomic system or the other. More important, he assumes on behalf oflaborers that charm has a place in their labor, even as he ignores thepossibility that labor's objective is to ascend to the dazzling heights ofthe bourgeoisie. Similarly the case withreference to communism, which has myriad associations of tradition,culture, and context. According to Berger,"Industrial socialism is characterized by the ongoing interaction of twodistinct forms of stratification, a class system and a system of politicalpatrimonialism . New York: Laurel Editions, 1971.Ricardo, David. This state of affairs has consequences aside from the obvious loss ofjobs by American workers. The ills and injustice of capitalism are demonstrable, but it alsoappears that the idea of the rewards of capitalism holds an emotionalappeal that will not be denied. This capital flight can take many forms.Bluestone and Harrison remark that when major corporations shift capitalwithin the United States, whether from Harrisburg to Houston or within therevitalization economy of New England, the effect is to introduce lower-paying jobs where there may formerly have been no jobs (i.e., in ruralHouston) or higher-paying jobs (i.e., in New England factories). Ed. In the controversies on this subject the chief fact has generally been overlooked, viz, the differentia specifica of capitalistic production. . . Capitalism and Freedom. The natural price of labor is that price which is necessary to enable the laborers, one with another, to subsist and to perpetuate their race, without either increase or diminution . winners and losers abound. Marx expectedcapitalism to produce ever greater and sharper class conflict. To put it another way, despitethe benefits of capitalism, there also exist severe problems. A key question for China's future is therefore whether economic transition out of a nexus with capitalism, and into pure socialism, is either useful or desirable (Chang 2222). . To see howit can and indeed has occurred, it is necessary to mention the greatachievement of capitalism: the industrial economy, which feeds and is fedby the private ownership of the means of production. The politically conservative response is to provideeven more business, tax, and capital-investment incentives at thegovernment level in order to persuade major capital expenditure to remainin the country. Owen paid one hundred and fifty thousanddollars--not nearly the value of the property, it is said" (Nordhoff 76).It was at New Harmony that "Owen determined to put it [his cooperativetheories] into practice in the US" ("Owen" 227). The judgment of which category of society is more materialistic waswritten before Donald Trump started signing everything with his own greatname, before the dynamic events in Eastern Europe in 1989 unleashed ashopping spree of erstwhile communists in the department stores of WesternEurope, and before Charles Keating, in the throes of the bankruptcy ofLincoln Savings & Loan (for which he blamed federal regulators), "had tosell his yacht, his place in the Bahamas, his wife's diamonds" (McCombs 6). Ironically, evidence also indicates that stage-theory socialist progress has been most successful when the private economy has had some discretion. Ingeneral, Berger finds, like Marx, that capitalism does indeed create aclass system; unlike Marx, he "cannot agree with many of Marx's particular[negative] characterizations of such a system" (8). Tucker. It follows therefore that in proportion as capital accumulates, the lot of the Tabourer, be his payment high or low, must grow worse (Marx "German Ideology" 645). . of Southern California. . They criticizes government programs aimed at redressing presumedeconomic injustices. Robert Owen, a Welsh industrialist, "urged the establishment ofcooperative communities, in which the members would conduct their ownagriculture and industry, living communally and sharing the production oftheir labor" (228). Is one rigidity balanced against the other, inasmuch as thecommunist movements in the United States and Europe contain in their party-proper structure the seeds of their own impotence when they are measuredand tested against the conservative and also democratic and anarchiccapitalist/western societies? Investment money is applied out of the countryrather than inside it, and although company and stockholders obtainimmediate economic benefits of significantly cheaper offshore labor, thedomestic economic system of which that company is a part does notparticularly benefit. In 19 5, Debs, fabled Mother Jones, and"nearly 2 others whose only bond in communism was a hatred of the system"(Lord 151), formed a national industrial trade union, known informally asthe Wobblies. Debs, can be seen as anelement of the transformation of communism in America from reformist tofrankly political in nature. Moreover, the impact of technological and organizational changes in both manufacturing and services seems to have tended to eliminate (or downgrade) those jobs that fall in the middle of the skill (and wage) spectrum (Bluestone and Harrison 95). For Marx, only radical transformation,indeed destruction of what he sees as the central fact of the society canaddress its problems. The purpose of this research is to examine capitalism and communism,with a view toward offering a comparison and contrast to these twoeconomic and philosophical systems. Instead of class conflict escalatingtoward revolution, it has become increasingly institutionalized" (64-5). "Instead of catering to skilled workers [as the SamuelGompers faction did], the I.W.W. The key to apositive confrontation appears to be an absolute acceptance of capitalismas what Ayn Rand in a flourish of romantic rhetoric refers to as "theunknown ideal." It began, however, as an ideal model of natural law. Theencyclopedic definition of communism identifies it as a "form ofcollectivist social economy in which the means of production anddistribution are owned and controlled by the community . And what if the system or ideology of communism is imposed upon asociety that is not allowed to discover the delights of communism overcapitalism by means of the historical determinism of Marxist stage theory?In this regard, Revel's analysis of the conservative nature of thecommunist party in France (one could say in Lithuanian USSR and Albania andChina) inures, ultimately, to the benefit of the overtly conservative andrigid capitalist political structure in the country. In this case, however, Wachtel argues, the supranationalapproach has the same effect as capital flight; it withholds authenticcapital from the economy as a whole. Labour- power is only saleable so far as it preserves the means of production in their capacity of capital, reproduces its own value as capital, and yields in unpaid labour a source of additional capital (Marx "German Ideology" 618). Ricardo, a classicist after Adam Smith, took the view thatdistribution of output in the form of land, capital, and labor occurred inproportion among many social classes, as a scientific, impersonal fact. The practical result is that no one moves for fear of moving in the wrong direction (Revel 5 ). . Dagobert Runes. Production of surplus-value is the absolute law of this mode of production. Thus do the Friedmans enshrine capitalism as the bastion ofopportunity of which all may partake but that, alas, some few who lackability or talent may not realize. The massacre in Tienanmen Square in Pekingnotwithstanding, the communist economic system in China has from the timeof the revolution in 1949, seen some form of private enterprise. one may assert the obverse as well: that inthe rigidly zero-sum structure of capitalism is contained such a strongimpulse to self-preservation that it will, in pursuit of the maintenance ofits power, seek protections from the very governmental structures it claimsto despise? As Berger puts it, Socialist ideas of one kind or another have penetrated, "infected," the consciousness of significant strata in the capitalist societies, creating problems of legitimacy as well as policy. New York: Norton, 1978.McCombs, Phil. Unionreforms, far afield of Brook Farm, could affect reality. Official deviations from communist theory in favor of "the tail of capitalism" demand ideological inflection, but China's often bleak economic reality suggests that the market-driven economy, particularly at the smallest unit of entrepreneurship, can serve as a mechanism of economic reform. "The German Ideology." The Marx-Engels Reader. communism involves various degrees of abolition ofprivate property" ("Communism" 358). 18. Free to Lose: An Introduction to Marxist Economic Philosophy. The Capitalist Revolution: Fifty Propositions About Prosperity, Equality, & Liberty. What happened to many of the organizers, in fact, was that while they were unable to convert the nation's workers to socialism, they themselves became gifted American trade unionists (146). . The Romance of American Communism. Wachtel notes the poverty of contemporary liberalpolitical thought in addressing this type of capital flight except byproscriptive measures. Marx's analysis of capitalism is an examination of the consequencesof hope deferred. On the whole, he simply denies the creation of class as a meaningfulcategory in a discussion of capitalism. For the French Left, politics is anything that one may wish to call it, except action. Direct subsidy of business by government, nostrings attached, is perfectly acceptable. Headvocates competitive capitalism as the best "system of economic freedomand a necessary condition for political freedom" (4). He contrasts this with the situation insocialist/communist societies, which are putatively classless but whereinupward mobility relies upon such psycho-sociological factors as personalinfluence, party loyalty, and family history. But Bluestone and Harrisontake the view that this may not be productive to the economy as a whole, asFriedman would claim: On the one hand, high-tech developments are creating some relatively high-wage jobs (many of which are taken by well-educated immigrants to the area). He calls this, indeed, an "economistic fallacy" of historiographyand philosophy, and he develops a kind of deconstructionist approach topolitical, social, economic, and other categories of history, naming whathe sees as fundamental to an analysis of political economy by also namingwhat others have mistakenly seen as fundamental: Realistic thinkers vainly spelled out the distinction between the economy in general and its market forms; time and again the distinction was obliterated by the economistic Zeitgeist. Chicago: U of Chicago P, 198 .Friedman, Milton & Rose Friedman. A modification of industrial socialism through theintroduction of market mechanisms will encounter political limits, whichare caused by the resistance of the patrimonial elite defending its vestedinterests" (185; 189). and the pictureof inner man and society induced by life in a market economy necessarilyfollowed from the essential structure of a human community organizedthrough the market" (Polanyi 1 ). . . The deindustrialization of the Americaneconomy, as expressed in the shutdown of many manufacturing or basic-industry plants, has resulted in the most profound kind of alienation oflabor: job loss. Further, in their analysis of capitalism, communisttheorists locate persistent and pernicious situations of power andsubservience. For self-interest will intrude. On the other, a large number of low-wage jobs are being generated in the retail trade and service sectors of the economy. It would seem to follow, therefore,that in order to evaluate any economic system, one must first look at thecontext in which that economic system finds expression. The response of employers to threats from either government or labor,indeed, appears to have been to discharge entire work forces rather thanattempt to find comity with them. [E]xtralegal arrangements continued to interfere with the freedom of individuals to enter various businesses or professions, and social practices unquestionably gave special advantages to persons born in the "right" families, of the "right" color, and practicing the "right" religion. . Forexample, when he wants to demonstrate the pure rationality and historicityof his argument, he asserts that "charges against Communism made from areligious, a philosophical, and, generally, from an ideological standpoint,are not deserving of serious examination" (Marx "Manifesto" 489). Friedman and Friedman develop the idea that the vicissitudes ofunfettered competition of self-interests in a free market is far morepreferable than the fetters that government controls on self-interest willprovide. In other words, capitalismwill remain the last best hope of those who wish to come out in a positiveposition in a zero-sum game--at least as long as the institutionalcommunists also insist on a zero-sum approach to fixing everything that iswrong with capitalism. or should the idea of capitalism be discarded before anycomparison is made? Government-sponsored social goals, onthis view, corrupt the purely economic competitive equation and negate theprinciple that is developed in the Friedmans' Free to Choose, that allcompetition and cooperation between forces in the private economy must bestrictly voluntary and not coerced by government. Vol. Marx discounts totally the emotional appeal that property might havefor the proletariat, referring to "bourgeois claptrap" (Marx "Manifesto"487) on-one hand and the coming "supremacy of the proletariat" on the other(488). Works CitedAllen, Frederick Lewis. "The Petty Private Economy in China: Capitalism Within a Socialist System." Abstract. . . For purposes of discussion, working definitions of communism andcapitalism are required. Yet 1989 saw a liberalization of Soviet-styleeconomies and the repudiation of communism altogether in Eastern Europe.As The Washington Post put it in early 199 , referring to events in EasternEurope, "What we are seeing is the manifestation of disastrous failure--thefailure of the Soviet system" (Kaiser 23). The Trades-Unions and International Clubs have become a formidable power in the United States and Great Britain, but so far it is a power almost entirely for evil (Nordhoff 13). How communism has been "infected" with capitalism is easy toidentify; one need look no further than the map of Eastern Europe for themost current evidence. On the face of it, the communities here reported seem to fall into two groups: 1) those like Amana and Oneida and Harmony and Bethel, which are plainly religious in foundation, and type of leadership; 2) those like the Icarians, Cedar Vale and Prairie Home (Kansas), which are apparently "secular" in style and atmosphere . Still, the fundamental point, that a more or less unbridled competition ofinterests inures to the benefit of the political culture, is made withreference to an unfettered freedom on the part of both labor and capital tochoose whether to compete or not. According to Marx, exchange does not determine social relations, butsocial relations will determine exchange values. Most economic fallacies derive from the neglect of this simple insight, from the tendency to assume that there is a fixed pie, that one party can gain only at the expense of another . Vol. Meanwhile, society has progressed so that perceived socialinequities are only perceived: Of course, in the economic sphere as elsewhere, practice did not always conform to the ideal . But just as little as better clothing, food, and treatment, and a larger peculium, do away with the exploitation of the slave, so do they set aside that of the wage-worker. When he died, the old guard staged a comeback, electing the incompetent and colorless Konstantin Chernenko as Andropov's successor (Kaiser 23-4). . New York: Pantheon, 1982.----------------------- 34 Some data indicate that skilled or semi-skilled workersin basic industries who are laid off experience significant income loss:"92 percent of the affected workers suffered an annual income loss, withover 2 percent losing more than $3, ." Those who move from jobs in themanufacturing sector to those in the service sector may suffer annual wagelosses of up to 2 percent, according to studies cited by Bluestone andHarrison. And even inthe democratic capitalist states, principally of Western Europe, NorthAmerica, and Japan, it is probably the case that significant inequalitieslast in families for generations" (Roemer 171). 337-338.Polanyi, Karl. Adam Smith's flash of genius was his recognition that the prices that emerged from voluntary transactions between buyers and sellers--for short, in a free market-- could coordinate the activity of millions of people, each seeking his own interest, in such a way as to make everyone better off (13). Berger puts forward a theory of what he calls"economic culture," wherein he explores "the relation between the relationbetween capitalism and capitalism and democracy and . . Curiously, although Adam Smith and David Ricardo, two eighteenth-century British commentators, were among the first to study capitalismsystematically, it remained for the anti-capitalist nineteenth-centuryGerman expatriate living in England, Karl Marx, to designate the term as itis now commonly understood. The encyclopedic definition of capitalism (orfree enterprise system) is almost its antithesis, inasmuch as "its mostdistinctive single feature is private ownership of most capital [i.e.,wealth used to create more wealth], particularly the factories and otherindustrial production facilities (i.e., means of production)" ("Capitalism"129). The market price of labor is the price which is really paid for it, from the natural operation of the proportion of the supply to the demand; labor is dear when it is scarce and cheap when it is plentiful. Other commentators challenge the shrine. . . History shows thatproperty forms have evolved in ways far more complex than anyone, blindedby his own historical experience, can predict" (173). on the contrary, they include the whole range of values that men hold dear and for which they are willing to spend their fortunes and sacrifice their lives . It is the virtue of a free society that it nonetheless permits these interests full scope and does not subordinate them to the narrow materialistic interests that dominate the bulk of mankind. It was in a preindustrial society, ironically,that the first meaningful communist revolution occurred; could the samething happen in a programmatically post-industrial society? In this sense, class in industrial socialism is farmore like feudalism and aristocracy than like the dictatorship of theproletariat envisioned by Marx. This presents a challenge for the communist system, which is officially antithetical to private enterprise. Specifically, the conflicts created whenlabor serves the interest of private property are the core of all socialand economic problems. On this view, in a comparison of (for example) capitalismand communism as economic systems has to be made in conjunction with theinstitutions, embedded in the marketplace, that drive those systems. The interests of which I speak are not simply narrow self-regarding interests . . As they put it, "We mustunderstand also the intimate connection between political freedom andeconomic freedom" (7). . The Friedmans continue elsewhere, The key insight of Adam Smith's Wealth of Nation is misleadingly simple: if an exchange between two parties is voluntary, it will not take place unless both believe they will benefit. Ed. New York: Academic, 1977.Revel, Jean-Francois. Friedman adumbrates on this subject in his opposition tominimum-wage laws, saying that minimum wage laws actually increase povertybecause of their government mandate. Andinstead of wedding itself to the established order [as Gompers did], itrepudiated capitalism completely" (Lord 151). This may come as a surprise to immigrants living in what areunkindly called rat holes owned by what are kindly called slum lords, butthe Friedmans do not appear to view this as something that can be usefullyadded to their discussion. Social inequity caused by the very existence of private property isthe chief villain of all society. Suddenly, too,the company operating abroad is subject to the government controls of theforeign country. In this view, institutions both capitalist and communist tend towardself-preservation, not to say ossification. Any objection, however, is answered with the assertion that the source ofthe objection is bourgeois. The Holy Grail of socialism has attained a state of such ineffable purity that there is no place for it anywhere in the present social situation. Only if one seesthe frame of institutions in which economic activity occurs will thephilosophical, moral, and indeed market implications of an economic systembecome clear. 5.Chuang, Suo-Hang. Division of labour and private property are, moreover, identical expressions: in the one the same thing is affirmed with reference to activity as is affirmed in the other with reference to the product of the activity. Moreover, when an abstraction suits his purpose, Marx uses it. And for one glorious moment--during the brief life of the CIO--they brought genuine worker politics to the American labor movement. Roemer is quite ascategorical in advocacy of public ownership of means of production and allfruits of labor as Friedman is in advocacy of absolute capitalism. Nordhoff cites theEuropean influence on trade unionism in the United States, stating that"the spirit of the Trades-Unions and International Societies appears to mepeculiarly mischievous and hateful" (Nordhoff 12). Indeed,one of the hallmarks of the decline of the Soviet empire has been therevelation of patronage-related corruption that appears to have beenendemic to the Soviet system for years: In the last half-dozen years of Brezhnev's rule, corruption spread throughout the official establishment. Theultimate point that Polanyi makes is that the structure of a societydetermines the character of its economy; economics as such does notdetermine what happens in a society. It is the unequaleconomic relationship between classes that determines their unequal socialrelationship, and it is this injustice that Marx seeks to address, byexposing the normative political tenets of capitalism as fraudulent ratherthan fundamental. As they put it, The central defect of these measures is that they seek through government to force people to act against their own immediate interests in order to promote a supposedly general interest. 199 ).Nordhoff, Charles. The whole of the Union of Soviet SocialistRepublics, for example, was predicated on Marxist economic analysis andphilosophy, which in turn was predicated on criticism and analysis ofeconomic capitalism. . The obstacles of whichFriedman speaks as either surmountable or disappearing. . By Milton Friedman's lights, the new benefits were indeed showered onthe workers of the world, and specifically by the capitalism andcapitalists to which they owed their experience of an upwardly mobile life. However much the market price of labor may deviate from its natural price, it has, like commodities, a tendency to conform to it (988- 989). "On Wages." Treasury of Philosophy. This goes to what has become a currentfundamental problem facing American business, which is the problem ofAmerican international competitiveness and entry into foreign markets.Here, capital seeks government's help in managing the governments offoreign countries. Tucker. But Western ideas, including values directly linked to the culture of capitalism, continue to "infect" the socialist societies, creating comparable problems of legitimacy and control (193). Implicit here are such social problems as mass poverty, unemployment,urban congestion, homelessness, and other negatives of society that havebeen attributed to capitalism. What Marx discovered, indeed, was that in fact economics never obeyedthe laws of a rational economic universe but was instead, as his evidenceshowed, a largely irrational process that devolved upon the exploitation oflabor by capital on one hand, for the purpose of accumulation of capital onthe other. There appear to be economic advantages and disadvantages tocapitalism in widespread deindustrialization, just as where are withindustrialization. New York: Basic, 1986.Bluestone, Barry, and Bennett Harrison. As unfair, as stratified, as patentlydisobliging as a zero-sum game of capitalistic activity may seem, yet thereis among those who perceive the "game" of capitalism the hope that they maycome out with the sum rather than the zero. "Whenever sociology, anthropology, or history deals with matterspertaining to human livelihood," Polanyi notes, "the term economic is takenfor granted. New York: Norton, 1978.---. But, enlightened as they appear in rejecting sectarian religious tendencies, and as emancipated as they were in regard to formal religious institutions and practices, most of the second type also found their initial inspiration in the pursuit of primitive religious virtue (Nordhoff xviii-xix). DAI 5 (1989): 7A."Communism." Funk & Wagnalls New Encyclopedia. Capital flight and the dreamsof enterprise unfettered by government brings its own problems to would-bebusiness expatriates, however. The Livelihood of Man. What the Friedmans speak of unkindly is government interference infree economies. Let us first see how a content of cultural anthropology enters intothe content of capitalism. Thus it is that deindustrializationwithin America involves intentional capital flight of those in control ofthe basic-industry economy. Be it noted, Ricardo is moved to observe in passingthat when the market price of labor falls below its natural price "thecondition of the laborers is most wretched" (Ricardo 99 ). This is Marx's entree into social polemics,reformism, and revolution, and he uses his theory of capital accumulationto bridge the gap between the lot of the poor laboring class and therecognition of such by the wealthy capitalist class. They seek to resolve what is supposedly a conflict of interest, or a difference in view about interests, not by establishing a framework that will eliminate the conflict, or by persuading people to have different interests, but by forcing people to act against their own interest . What he objects toare government controls on what should be free-market activities. In the United States, thecharacter of communism was religious in its initial phase, reformist in itssecond phase, and political in its modern phase. Yet whenhe wants to prove that machines have aggravated the class struggle, heclaims that they contribute to the loss of what can only be described asthe philosophical "charm" a worker's craft might hold for him (479). New York: Basic, 1982."Capitalism." Funk & Wagnalls New Encyclopedia. Of particular note is his recognitionthat the ambiguities of so-called civilized exploitation, which does nottake place with outright robbery and plunder, actually comes to the samething. we're pastall those inconvenient categories of class. 6.Friedman, Milton. Allen remarks that during World War I "the labormovement had been steadily gaining in momentum and prestige . An additional 6 percent of the original sample had no "covered" earnings in 1972, despite the fact that they neither retired nor became disabled. He views capitalism in particular asthe product of a system of government that is grounded in freedom;communism is grounded in something very like slavery. Whatever thetruth about alliances and rivalries within the union movement, the unionmember could be equated with the communist in the popular imagination.Gornick's description of the kind of challenge communists were making toAmerican capitalism is revealing: They fought for the eight-hour day, the minimum wage, worker compensation, health and welfare insurance. What is central to Friedman's discussion of capitalism is that he isan advocate rather than a describer. As notedin a study of petty entrepreneurs in the PRC, [B]etween destruction of feudalism and achievement of the socialist ideal lay Marxist stage theory, and the PRC has been unable to escape Marx's dictum that authentic socialism derives from a mature capitalistic society that collapses of its own weight. But what of the collectivist solutions to the problems wrought bycapitalism? This is the major reason why the measures have so often had the opposite of the effects intended . To put it another way, capitalism, or theprivate ownership of the means of production, has been a beneficialeconomic system inasmuch as it has allowed political freedom and growth.When the private sector, which is to say private property interests, isthreatened by government intervention and policy, then political freedomsuffers as well as the integrity of the capitalistic system itself. But all methods for the production of surplus-value are at the same time methods of accumulation; and every extension of accumulation becomes again a means for the development of those methods. As Allensays of what happened to the promises made by industry and government toorganized labor after 1918, "Peace came, and hope was deferred" (39). But in your existing society,private property is already done away with for nine-tenths of thepopulation; its existence for the few is solely due to its non-existence inthe hands of those nine tenths" (Marx "Manifesto" 486). . The Communistic Societies of the United States. How capitalism has been infected with communism isperhaps more difficult to discern, for convinced capitalists such asFriedman seem intent on denying that such a thing could occur. His aim is augmentation of his capital, production of commodities containing more labour than he pays for, containing therefore a portion of value that costs him nothing, and that is nevertheless realised when the commodities are sold. As Marx analyzed thefruits of capitalism and individualism in nineteenth-century Britain, theBritain of Dickens's workhouses and debtor prisons, small wonder thelinkage should be seen as nefarious. The formation of the Socialist Party in the United States in 19 1,bringing together as it did a number of socialist factions and including aMarxist faction under the leadership of Eugene V. Until theultimate stages . or does any of it matter, and is the play the thingafter all? Anunfettered market, on this view, will check its own excesses. Is capitalism by thisreckoning more defensible than communism, or is communism a perfect ideathat simply cannot be realized? These measures are therefore countered by one of the strongest and most creative forces known to man--the attempt by millions of individuals to promote their own interests, to live their lives by their own values. Dachas and automobiles replaced ideological fervor; economic performance waned, food shortages and drunkenness grew worse . Gradually, politics, sociology, and even psychology were seen inmarket- and economy-related terms, and in western societies as a whole,there came to be an "identity of market and society . Wachtel refers to a "strike of capital" (19 ), which refers on onehand to capitals relocation from one region of the United States to anotherin pursuit of cheap labor, but also to the movement of capital investmentand manufacturing labor entirely offshore. . Tucker. The analysis itself, then, would seemto hold. It is employed loosely, relying for a frame of reference nowon its scarcity connotation, now on its substantive connotation" (19). From the Manifesto: "You are horrified at ourintending to do away with private property. The definitions seem simple enough, but in a larger sense they arecomplicated by an almost anarchic assortment of philosophies, opinions, andhistories. In TheLivelihood of Man, Polanyi takes the whole of economistic (his word)thought to task for viewing the whole of society through a filter of themarket. Thegovernment had encouraged collective bargaining, elevated Samuel Gompers toone of the seats of the mighty . [I]t is not hard to understand the triumph of conservatism in French politics. New York: Harper & Row, 1959.Berger, Peter L. Ed. and given the workers some reason tohope that with the coming of peace new benefits would be showered uponthem" (39). [T]he sphere of capitals exploitation and rule merely extends with its own dimensions and the number of its subjects. In other words, no one in a free society will benefit unduly at theexpense of another. New York: Harcourt Brace, 1979.Gornick, Vivian. This is the thesis he develops: "By relying primarily on voluntaryco-operation and private enterprise, in both economic and other activities,we can insure that the private sector is a check on the powers of thegovernmental sector and an effective protection of freedom of speech, ofreligion, and of thought" (3). The best efforts of the CCP could not change the fact that prerevolutionary China was hardly at mature capitalist stage, the Great Leap forward and Cultural Revolution notwithstanding. But communisttheory cites an entrenched social system, which becomes a symptom of anequally entrenched economic system, and it finds that inequities andinequality of opportunity based not on talent but on position (usuallyfinancial) within the system have been institutionalized and in factdescribe the system. For example, it is useful to note that, although these twoterms are names associated with economic systems, they are associated witha whole range of social and cultural systems as well. . they transform his life-time into working- time, and drag his wife and child beneath the wheels of the Juggernaut of capital. They identified the economy with industry rather than business; with technology rather than ceremonialism; with means of production rather than titles to property; with productive capital rather than finance; with capital goods rather than capital--in short, with the economic substance rather than its marketing form and terminology (Polanyi 6). When subjective values (bourgeois, capitalist, reformist, liberal)confront ideology or indeed the facts of redistribution of property to theproletariat, revolutions become complicated and historical necessitybecomes a function of cadres of power. But what happens when the industrialeconomy itself is at risk? Private talent subject to the same litmus tests astractor mechanics becomes talent that is subject to influence-peddling;this was discovered in Eastern Europe after World War II. The publication of The Communist Manifesto in 1848 coincided with therevolutions throughout Europe that year. Specific kinds ofcultures exhibit to greater or lesser degrees and in one form or anothereconomic systems that express (or fail to express, depending on thepolitical structures involved) the ideals of those cultures. The Deindustrialization of America: Plant Closings, Community Abandonment, and the Dismantling of Basic Industry. . On the one hand, the communist Party itself is conservative, in that it preserves itself intact despite Budapest, Prague, de Gaulle's return to power in 1958 and the student revolt in 1968 . The Manifesto also presented ananalysis of and challenge to the system of free enterprise then prevailingin Western Europe and North America at that time. Emblematic of Ricardo'sattitude is his discussion of the character of wages, which he connectswith the concept of labor as a fundamental economic operant: Labor, like all other things which are purchased and sold, and which may be increased or diminished in quantity, has its natural and its market price. In an industrial capitalist society, says Berger, upward mobility isbased on performance or production that involves the use of capital andmeans of production. All of this occurred at a time of declining industrial output andincome into the USSR. How an economistviews a society determines as well how the economy of that society will beviewed. It is the purchasers whomake the decision, as operatives within a rational, Newtonian economicuniverse that obeys a set of fundamental principles. . So far from a 2 th-century economy was the PRC that the CCP wrestled with competing demands of pure socialism, residual Asian feudalism, and incipient capitalism, and for 4 -odd years private enterprise has persisted in China in some form. American aerospace-industry employees who lost their jobs in theearly 197 s were but one instance of the trend: [T]hose forced to take menial jobs in restaurants, hospitals, and various other sectors where they could not use their aircraft industry skills lost, on average, 26 percent of their former income levels (even before accounting for inflation). New York: Basic, 1977.Kaiser, Robert. Cambridge: Harvard UP, 1988.Wachtel, Howard M. . Nor is the "system" of communism by any means set in stone--inpractice if not in theory. Andropov [Brezhnev's successor] was told that virtually the entire ruling group that he inherited from Brezhnev had been compromised by serious corruption . . "'Fair shares for all,' they say, "is the modern sloganthat has replaced Karl Marx's, 'To each according to his needs, from eachaccording to his ability.'" This notion of fairness has resulted in thecurtailment of individual liberty: "It has proved impossible to define'fair shares' in a way that is generally acceptable" (Friedman and Friedman134-6). In general, heappears to believe that the less governmental interference in what ought tobe purely economic affairs, the better for capitalism and for society as awhole. He is scornful of economic theorists who enunciate "thisantagonistic character of capitalistic accumulation" but who "confound" itseffects with its causes and in general maintain that "the antagonism ofcapitalist production [is] a general natural law of social wealth" (Marx"German Ideology" 646). Or is the idea of communism imperfect fromthe outset? Or is there no answer? Friedman,however, appears to dismiss out of hand the suggestion that in point offact, economic exchanges between parties occur in an atmosphere tinged withpower, with one party frequently and demonstrably less powerful than theother. Evidently American-governmentinterference is only a bad thing if it imposes regulations or quid pro quoon affected enterprises. Thephysiocrats' discovery of the utility of the laissez faire economic system,as a function of natural law rising above mercantilistic interests of thestate, may be said to parallel to an extent the Newtonian conception of theuniverse, which emerged more or less concomitant with classical economics.Simply put, the Newtonian universe (i.e., all of nature) obeyed certainlaws --of motion, mechanics, gravity--irrespective of human intervention.Similarly, physiocratic economics appears to have held that economic lawswould obey their natural course if government would refrain fromintervention. Roemer's Free to Lose seemsa direct response to the Friedmans. New York: Norton, 1978.---. [W]ithin the capitalist system all methods for raising the social productiveness of labour are brought about at the cost of the individual Tabourer; all means for the development of production transform themselves into means of domination over, and exploitation of, the producers; they mutilate the Tabourer into a fragment of a man, degrade him to the level of an appendage of a machine, destroy every remnant of charm in his work and turn it into a hated toil; they estrange from him the intellectual potentialities of the labour- process in the same proportion as science is incorporated in it as an independent power . That is, he says that perhaps thetruly talented individual ought to receive some fruit of the labor of thattalent, but only if the "slate" of private property were wiped totallyclean. These thinkers emphasized the substantive meaning of economic. . "All or nearly all socialistideologies," says Berger, "and Marxism above all, have criticized thisallegedly nefarious linkage of capitalism and 'individualism'; socialism,by contrast, is an ideal of collective solidarity and unselfish morality"(191). Let us assume that private ownership inures to the benefit andperpetuation of an industrial economy that in turn inures to the benefit ofmost persons participating in it. . Official and popular American reaction to communism wouldappear to have much to do with the way communism evolved in the UnitedStates in the period. Was it this, rather than anticipation of socialistutopia, that spurred strikers in the 192 s to demand "a new industrialorder, the displacement of capitalistic control of industry (or at least oftheir own industry) by government control; in short, something approachingsocial regime" (Allen 39-4 ). . Vol. Historical necessity demandsa rethinking. Russia's 1917 revolution appears to have been the touchstone of afinal break between reformist-only and wholly politicized Americancommunism. The Good Years from 19 to the First World War. The trouble, of course, is that a positive positionis a capitalist position is a position of power is a position of patrimonyis a position achieved at the expense of others. However, the rapid rise in the economic and social position of various less privileged groups demonstrates that these obstacles were by no means insurmountable (133-4). Free to Choose: A Personal Statement. Ed. . Newlycreated jobs in a new region-may be created as lower-paying than theircounterparts in mature economies. "The effect of minimum wage istherefore to make unemployment higher than it otherwise would be" (18 -1).He appears to argue that employers threatened with the possibility ofhaving to pay existing workers increased government-mandated minimums willdischarge some workers in order to avoid increased labor costs. A larger part of their own surplus-product,always increasing and continually transformed into additional capital, comes back to them [workers] in the shape of means of payment, so that they can extend the circle of their enjoyments; can make some additions to their consumption-fund of clothes, furniture, &c., and can lay by small reserve-funds of money. New York: Philosophical Library, 1955.Roemer, John E. He sees thecapitalistic class system as far fairer than a feudal one, and one which isfrankly related to the ownership or control of the means of production onone hand, and the exploitation of the benefits of education and anirrevocably industrialized economy on the other. . This is where cultural anthropology and communism collide. "The End of the Soviet Empire: Failure on a Historic Scale." Washington Post National Weekly Edition (1-7 Jan. . Though no one could predict the anarchy implicit in a dictatorshipof the proletariat or the inevitability of the emergence of a ruling cadreof patronage to facilitate the revolution, Marx fails to address theworking-class's tendency to seek the property and values of the middleclass. "Society and Economy in History." The Marx-Engels Reader. Wages are therefore held in check, andcapital escapes unconscionable labor costs. "The Unrepentant Charles Keating." Washington Post National Weekly Edition (12-18 Mar. He also gives expression to theview that economics should be separated from the political arena whereverpossible, on the other hand, he acknowledges that there is a de factoconnection between economics and politics that can be positive if it issupportive and has no strings attached to the support. The labor union reform movement of the late 19th century in theUnited States, which coincided with postwar national development on onehand and with mass immigration from Europe on the other, was perceived bycontemporary commentators as communistic in nature. His insistence that "laws of political economy express theestrangement of the worker" (Marx "Society" 73) and that an alteration ofthe economic facts of existence will resolve the estrangement puts him inthe awkward position of being logically unable to address the consequencesof a revolution of values concomitant (or not) with an economic revolution. U. As a practical matter, countries inwhich communism has been adopted as the prevailing economic system, themeans of production and distribution have been and are officiallycontrolled by the state. Those in this category either had no wage income at all during the year or worked in jobs not covered by social security, mainly in the federal government (59-61). According to Ricardo, labor may be held dear or scarce, for example,chiefly by those who purchase it--in this case, those whom Ricardo refersto as producers and incidentally as capitalists. Thisexpectation has been falsified. "Manifesto of the Communist Party." The Marx-Engels Reader. Thus it is that Milton Friedman extolsthe virtues of free capitalism as an emblem of a free society, and viceversa, while Marx excoriates the unbridled activities of capitalism assomething that makes some persons freer than others. The Money Mandarins: The Making of a New Supranational Economic Order. Just as capital defines thevalue of labor, then, it defines the value of government intervention. Robert C. . The basis of communism is economic. . It was this tension, in large part,that appears to have precipitated the tremendous upheavals in China andEastern Europe in 1989. Robert C.
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