Marxism discussion thread

Discussion in 'Politics & Current Events' started by will_shred, Aug 15, 2017.

  1. vilk

    vilk Very Regular

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    I think the idea is less what you've written and more that an individual alone cannot make money by himself, or if he did start writing 100$ Vilk-Buck Notes, he'd still need the society that he is part of to provide those goods and services. Otherwise you've just got a dude sitting in a room full of paper. (and as we know the value of the paper is totally fabricated, based on the equivalent of weather divination, for what that's worth)

    Rich people do not/cannot exist without the comparatively poor people who make them rich, both pragmatically and also conceptually as a matter of contrast/relativity. It's a really simple, basic, almost abstract idea, but it's undeniably true. How much do they owe the poor who allow/make/cause them to be rich? That's a very subjective matter.
     
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  2. wat

    wat SS.org Regular

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    The amount they agreed to work for :steve:
     
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  3. bostjan

    bostjan MicroMetal Contributor

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    As abstract as the idea of paper money is, wealth is the opposite.

    It's all about having resources or not. Back during pre-history in the age of patriarchs, people took what resources they wanted by means of exploration or force. Whoever was first to the well got the most water, but whoever was mightiest threatened to take it away. In early human history, wealth meant protection. If one wanted to be wealthy, one simply had to convince people to build a fortress. Now the mightiest were no match for stone walls, so they needed to trade their might in exchange for essentials like food and water. That's how the most influential leaders became kings and how the mightiest warriors swore fiefdom to those kings. The Europeans who left for the "New World" in the 17th and 18th centuries were looking for their own way to lay claim to resources. I'm not sure what communication breakdown occurred, but there were already several cultures of people living here who lived under a different economic system entirely. Where, in Europe, all of the animals belonged to the king, and all of the weapons belonged to the king, and if you went to war, you fought for the king - in America, if you were hungry, you hunted, and if you were thirsty, you drank from the spring, and if you went to war, you fought for your people with weapons you made yourself. So, the Europeans wanted to control the resources that the native peoples had been sharing for who knows how long. I don't think that the idea of "taking land" was clearly communicated.

    Anyway, up to that point in history, wealth was "land." When the industrial revolution hit full swing, that all changed, because, instead of having stuff come from the land and the value added by manufacture being a rather personal thing attributed to a craftsman, the raw materials were cheap, and the value added by manufacture became the heart of business. People went from eating barley porridge to eating Quaker Oats™ and went from going to the butcher and the cheesemaker to eating Oscar Mayer Hot Dogs™ and Kraft Cheese™ - over the course of a couple generations, everything changed entirely, including how the concept of wealth was implemented. Wealth was no longer strictly tied to how much land a person owned, but was diversified - a wealthy person might own a large plantation, but whoever owned the steel foundry was likely much more wealthy. In the middle class, a wealthier person might simply own more stuff than a less wealthy person, rather than owning a bigger plot of land.

    Today, wealth is even more diverse than ever before. Home equity, job equity, credit lines, mutual funds, stocks, bonds, private business, college education, etc. etc., are all forms of wealth in their own way. Those are all resources, and they can all be used as leverage to obtain other resources, but young people who do not own a home, have no job experience, used their general credit for student loans to obtain degrees that don't precipitate into lucrative careers, etc., are stuck in a rut of little opportunity to obtain wealth. The system of capitalism seems to have failed them, because they worked hard to get through college, like their parents told them to do, and the jobs their parents prepared them to have all went overseas or are no longer relevant. The housing market is a log-jam, creditors are dubious of young people, bonds are paying shit compared to what they paid in the past, and a college degree in communication or whatever the largest percentage of millenials have chosen as a major isn't worth the paper it's printed on to an employer.

    But the fault is not solely with capitalism. The fault is within the culture we've accepted. Just like how forced collectivization during Stalin's time in the USSR led to so many people starving, and it wasn't the fault of Socialism so much as it was the fault of Stalin himself. In that case, there already was a famine - just a general lack of resource availability when it came to food. It was pretty much worldwide, but the USSR handled it in such a way that many people firmly believe those people were starved deliberately. You could say that Stalin's USSR was not an example of socialism, but an example of a dictatorship under the banner of socialism, and you'd have a good case to say that. But also look at Pol Pot's Cambodia! Same shit, but Cambodians, in general, had no idea who their leader was. Reading about Pol Pot, he seemed like he might have genuinely had some twisted form of good intentions, rather than simply being a bloodthirsty asshole. I don't know, though, because it's more complex.

    Anyway, the paper money is just a symbol, and it's honestly not fair to have some people work harder with no chance of reward.
     
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  4. vilk

    vilk Very Regular

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    That's all true, but consider this:

    If a Mighty King has water and walls, what good are they if there's no one thirsty or seeking protection? I mean, they're good enough to protect and nourish the king... but also I mean like it turns into a chicken-egg situation: where'd the walls come from? Did the king build them himself?

    If everyone were rich, who will dust your mantle? Another rich guy? What's his incentive to dust your mantle if he's already rich?

    I know I know, it's such a dumb, basic idea that it hardly warrants writing it. But the rich need poor people in order for "rich" to have meaning and also more pragmatically to live the lifestyle that they do.

    I'll tell you what though, poor people are fucked if we start making really, really good robots. Or maybe, in an opposite way, we can all be rich? But not the robots, obviously.
     
  5. tedtan

    tedtan SS.org Regular

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    Being rich is just having an abundance of resources, so I would disagree that there is a need for the poor in order for the rich to exist. Though the more and more people that are being born the fewer the resources there are to go around.

    As for the rich people who have servants on staff, there are plenty of people who will do what others want in order to fit in with them. This is psychological, so I can see a situation in which everyone is rich and one rich diva type gets their mantle dusted by an equally rich person with a psychological need to please others in order to fit in. Resources, and the lack thereof, are not the only means of motivation/coercion/control.
     
  6. Drew

    Drew Forum MVP

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    Is that an attack on communism or capitalism? I honestly can't tell. :lol:
     
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  7. bostjan

    bostjan MicroMetal Contributor

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    That was my point, though. At the time, people were abundantly thirsty and needing protection. If you built a castle in modern New Jersey, you'd be wasting your time, obviously.

    There's no paradox here. It's clear: the king was the guy who held control of the land, and he held control of the stone and the wood used by his subjects to build the castle.

    This is the biggest fallacy going around these days. The rich are equated as people who need other people to do everything for them. No. Rich people are the people who hold control over resources. People do things for the rich people in exchange for resources that the hired people find scarce and the rich people find abundant.

    Rich and poor are opposites, just like you need to have the Joker in order to have Batman, or whatever pop culture reference you wish to insert here.

    The idea of collective ownership is often misconstrued as everything belongs to everyone, but that won't work that way and it's not even how the idea was ever intended by intellectuals. It's an idea that everyone pool resources and then people take what they need. If I'm a carpenter, then I take the hammer and nails and sawblades. If I'm a baker, then I need the ovens and mixers and sacks of flour. If I'm the carpenter, and I take the sacks of flour, then something went wrong with the system.

    In real life, how socialism has generally worked, is that instead of the servant going to work for the wealthy guy in order to get the food and clothing and shelter needed to survive, the same guy would go to the government. And...in times of famine, that government has told that poor guy that he's going to starve, because they already allocated all of the food resources to comfortably feed the government bureaucrats, the military, the factory workers making weapons for the military, ..., all the way down to the guy licking Stalin's boots clean every evening. Because there were not enough resources to give out to everyone, and the poor guy was deemed less necessary to keep around than all of those other people. It happened in the USSR during Golodomor in 1932-1933, and in Cambodia during 1975-1979, and presently in North Korea. The government had limited resources, and too many mouths to feed, so it rewarded it's favourite people with enough food to remain comfortable whilst the people the government deemed "unnecessary" got nothing to eat until they starved or until the famine was over.

    In capitalistic societies, the wealthy were in control of the resources, so there were simply more distribution points, meaning each starving individual had more opportunities to make an appeal. That's why there was less starvation in the West than in the East in the 1930's. We still had famine, but people were not being collectively punished for political reasons. If you were able to swing a hammer, you could barter that resource of labour in exchange for food. Your socialist comrade at that time was expected to swing his glorious hammer or sickle whether the government wanted to feed him or not.

    You see, there is no advantage for the commoner in having the political and economic powers combined into one entity. It just makes it so that those who are rewarded political also get rewarded financially and the converse statement is also true.

    So what can the commoner do to get the resources he or she needs to function in society? I mean, there's no one answer for that. It just depends on where that person finds meaning and what that person hopes to accomplish.
     
  8. Andromalia

    Andromalia Pardon my french

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    You have to take into account that, somehow, socialist doctrines have evolved, shockingly, since the writing ot The Capital. Sure, you will always find someone telling you it must be the book, just the book and only the book, but then you can put them with the various religious nuts and get to serious things.

    Most current european socialists nowadays want a state-controlled market economy where the role of the state is to ensure a fair market, which "free market" has a notable tendency not to do.
    One notable need for a fair market is customer information, which capitalistic companies dislike immensely (see OGM companies lobbying for *not* having to specify there are OGMs on products packaging) as a lot of them do their business by fooling their customers about the value or benefits of their goods. (Yes, including Apple. Thoses prices, dudes, they're a tax on ignorance )

    About the only thing that stays true for "pure" old marxism is that, borders have to be abolished for a simple reason: so that the hoiders of wealth can't just refuse to participate by leaving for another country. In american-understandable terms, it means Apple and Microsoft paying their taxes in the US, not in the caiman islands.
    Some kind of worldwide tax system is needed at this point. Tax evasion by companies in France only is estimated at 80 billions € per year. That's about 250 times as much as what the french rightists spend their time crying about: the poor "exploiting the welfare system".
    Of course, as we currently have a right wing governement, the latter is way more important and advertised than the former.
     
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  9. bostjan

    bostjan MicroMetal Contributor

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    The US has the Caiman Islands, but the EU has Ireland. Rich people will always find a way to get out of paying their taxes, will always horde their money, and will always be richer than people like us who don't do those things.
     
  10. Andromalia

    Andromalia Pardon my french

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    The tax evasion and fiscal heavens thing are, paradoxically, a byproduct of (more or less) world peace. If Luxembourg had the same legislation in the 17th century, they'd have been invaded long ago.
    Besides, I don't really get the point of Ireland, specifically: I lived there gor 3 years, when you look at education, equipment and infrzstructures, it's the closest thing to a third world country I've seen. They legalised abortion *two months ago*.There's nothing in it for the irish people.
    I don't want the rich to become poor, I want the money to be used efficiently for the good of the greatest number of people possible. Ironically, the rich wouldn't even notice a dent in their lifestyle: you can't wear two pairs of shoes at the same time or eat 18 times per day.
     
  11. bostjan

    bostjan MicroMetal Contributor

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    You're not totally wrong, but 10 out of 10 rich people disagree. :lol:
     
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  12. Andromalia

    Andromalia Pardon my french

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    Probably, but utlimately it dosn't matter since they are the minority. All that remains is making the majority vote for itself instead of voting for the rich to their own detriment. That, unfortunately, takes more time and money to build than to destroy. (which is why right wing governements slash education budgets: they need gullible voters, not educated ones)

    One of my requisites for democracy being the enlightened vote: that you know what you vote for, and that you get what you voted for. I don't know a lot of countries where that is the case. Probably Iceland and a few Nordic countries. In most other places a majority of the politicians are just simply lying 100% about the benefits of their programs.
     
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  13. bostjan

    bostjan MicroMetal Contributor

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    There will always be more stupid people than we would like.

    ...and that will always be one of the two main problems with democracy.

    Every and any state system that tries to make everyone forcibly equal always ends up with one person much more equal than everyone else.

    As for me, I just go on trying to survive. While the rich people get the other less fortunate people involved in doing their fighting for them, I just try to stay out of it. Dying for oil, dying for freedom, dying for democracy, dying for food on the table, dying for a place to call home - none of that matters to the dead, who have no need for food, energy, freedom, nor housing. For the rich, it pays double duty in bringing in more resources and having fewer people needing some of those resources. As the Khmer Rouge said, "To destroy you is no loss. To preserve you is no gain."
     
  14. zappatton2

    zappatton2 SS.org Regular

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    I tend to be pretty centre-left on most things, a Marxist by no means, but one thing that gets to me is the complete lack of nuance that comes with discussing progressive political options. On the one hand, ensuring quality public services and a higher baseline in the standard of living for the lower end of the income demographic is not equality of outcome, nor is it absolute, communistic State Control, yet it always seems to be portrayed that way.

    On the other hand is the idea that the wealthy do not in some way benefit from a progressive taxation system. Yet, a well funded civil society, with infrastructure and strong social programs, sees a direct benefit in terms of lower crime rates, a better educated population, and a safer and better equipped environment within which to invest.

    I know it's beside the point to someone who regards taxes as little more than theft on their wealth, but all the countries I'd be inclined to actually live in would all be the ones to take a pretty huge chunk of my paycheque to invest back into civil society and infrastructure. And I'd be loathe to call them "Marxist" in the absolutist way that term tends to get used.
     
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