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Anti-capitalism

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Anti-capitalism encompasses a wide variety of movements, ideas and attitudes that oppose capitalism. Anti-capitalists, in the strict sense of the word, are those who wish to replace capitalism with another type of economic system.

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  • ✪ Is Capitalism Moral?

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Many people believe that free market capitalism is selfish, even immoral. They say it's about greed, about a hunger for money and power; that it helps the rich and hurts the poor. They're wrong. The free market is not only economically superior, it is morally superior to any other way of organizing economic behavior. Here's why. The free market calls for voluntary actions between individuals. There's no coercion. In a free market, if I want something from you, I have to do something for you. Let's say I mow your lawn and you pay me twenty dollars. What does that twenty dollars really mean? When I go to the grocer and say, "I would like to have four pounds of steak" He, in effect, says to me, "You want a lot of people to serve you -- ranchers, truckers, butchers, and packagers. All these people have to be paid. What did you do to serve your fellow man?" "Well," I say, "I mowed my fellow man's lawn." And the grocer says, "Prove it." Then I offer him the twenty dollars. Think of the money that you've earned as a certificate of performance. It's proof that you've served your fellow man. People accuse the free market of not being moral because they say it's a zero-sum game, like poker, where if you win, it means that I have to lose. But the free market is not a zero-sum game. It's a positive sum game. You do something good for me, such as give me that steak and I'll do something good for you -- give you twenty dollars. I'm better off because I valued the steak more than I valued the $20 and the grocer is better off because he valued the $20 more than he valued the steak. We both win. Ironically, it's the government, not the free market, that creates zero-sum games in our economy. If you use the government to get a food stamp, a farm subsidy or a business bail out, you will benefit -- but at the expense of your fellow citizens. Isn't it more moral to require that people serve their fellow man in order to have a claim on what he produces rather than not serve others and still have a claim? But, a lot of people ask, what about giant corporations? Don't they have too much power over our lives? Not in a free market. Because in a free market We, the People, decide the fate of companies who want our business. Free market capitalism will punish a corporation that does not satisfy customers or fails to use resources efficiently. Businesses, big and small, that wish to prosper are held accountable by the people who vote with their dollars. And, again, it's the government that can undo this. Take the example of the American automobile industry. It was struggling to survive in 2009. Why? Because they were producing cars that did not please a sufficient number of their fellow men. In a free market, they would therefore have gone bankrupt. The market would have said, "Look, you're done. Sell your plant and equipment to somebody who can do a better job." But when Chrysler and General Motors failed, they went to Washington D.C. and got the government to bail them out. The government bailout essentially meant to them: "You don't have to be accountable to customers and stock holders.' No matter how inferior your product is and no matter how inefficient you are, we'll keep you in business by taking your fellow man's money. When government interferes in this way, it takes the power away from the people and rewards companies that couldn't compete successfully in the marketplace. That may work out very well for politicians, big unions and corporate officers, but it seldom does for the tax payer. That's why a free market system can only work if there is limited government. Limited government means you and I decide which businesses survive. That's the America that our Founding Fathers envisioned -- a limited government that has only a few specifically mentioned -- or enumerated -- powers that are listed in Article I, Section 8 of the United States Constitution. It's this brilliant, limited-government notion that produced the wealthiest nation in history. In a free market, the ambition and the voluntary effort of citizens, not the government, drives the economy. That is: people, to the best of their ability, shaping their own destiny. Sounds pretty moral to me. I'm Walter Williams of George Mason University for Prager University.

Contents

Socialism

Socialism advocates public or direct worker ownership and administration of the means of production and allocation of resources, and a society characterized by equal access to resources for all individuals, with an egalitarian method of compensation.[1][2]

Karl Marx, one of the "founding fathers" of anti-capitalist thought
Karl Marx, one of the "founding fathers" of anti-capitalist thought
  1. A theory or policy of social organisation which aims at or advocates the ownership and democratic control of the means of production, by workers or the community as a whole, and their administration or distribution in the interests of all.
  2. Socialists argue for a cooperative/community economy, or the commanding heights of the economy,[3] with democratic control by the people over the state, although there have been some undemocratic philosophies. "State" or "worker cooperative" ownership is in fundamental opposition to "private" ownership of means of production, which is a defining feature of capitalism. Most socialists argue that capitalism unfairly concentrates power, wealth and profit, among a small segment of society that controls capital and derives its wealth through exploitation.

Socialists argue that the accumulation of capital generates waste through externalizations that require costly corrective regulatory measures. They also point out that this process generates wasteful industries and practices that exist only to generate sufficient demand for products to be sold at a profit (such as high-pressure advertisement); thereby creating rather than satisfying economic demand.[4][5]

Socialists argue that capitalism consists of irrational activity, such as the purchasing of commodities only to sell at a later time when their price appreciates, rather than for consumption, even if the commodity cannot be sold at a profit to individuals in need; they argue that making money, or accumulation of capital, does not correspond to the satisfaction of demand.[6]

Private ownership imposes constraints on planning, leading to inaccessible economic decisions that result in immoral production, unemployment and a tremendous waste of material resources during crisis of overproduction. According to socialists, private property in the means of production becomes obsolete when it concentrates into centralized, socialized institutions based on private appropriation of revenue (but based on cooperative work and internal planning in allocation of inputs) until the role of the capitalist becomes redundant.[7] With no need for capital accumulation and a class of owners, private property in the means of production is perceived as being an outdated form of economic organization that should be replaced by a free association of individuals based on public or common ownership of these socialized assets.[8] Socialists view private property relations as limiting the potential of productive forces in the economy.[9]

Early socialists (Utopian socialists and Ricardian socialists) criticized capitalism for concentrating power and wealth within a small segment of society,[10] and does not utilise available technology and resources to their maximum potential in the interests of the public.[9]

Anarchist and libertarian socialist criticisms

Emma Goldman famously denounced wage slavery by saying: "The only difference is that you are hired slaves instead of block slaves."[11]
Emma Goldman famously denounced wage slavery by saying: "The only difference is that you are hired slaves instead of block slaves."[11]

For the influential German individualist anarchist philosopher Max Stirner, "private property is a spook which "lives by the grace of law" and it "becomes 'mine' only by effect of the law". In other words, private property exists purely "through the protection of the State, through the State's grace." Recognising its need for state protection, Stirner argued that "[i]t need not make any difference to the 'good citizens' who protects them and their principles, whether an absolute King or a constitutional one, a republic, if only they are protected. And what is their principle, whose protector they always 'love'? Not that of labour", rather it is "interest-bearing possession ... labouring capital, therefore ... labour certainly, yet little or none at all of one's own, but labour of capital and of the—subject labourers"."[12] French anarchist Pierre Joseph Proudhon opposed government privilege that protects capitalist, banking and land interests, and the accumulation or acquisition of property (and any form of coercion that led to it) which he believed hampers competition and keeps wealth in the hands of the few. The Spanish individualist anarchist Miguel Gimenez Igualada saw "capitalism [as] an effect of government; the disappearance of government means capitalism falls from its pedestal vertiginously...That which we call capitalism is not something else but a product of the State, within which the only thing that is being pushed forward is profit, good or badly acquired. And so to fight against capitalism is a pointless task, since be it State capitalism or Enterprise capitalism, as long as Government exists, exploiting capital will exist. The fight, but of consciousness, is against the State.".[13]

Within anarchism there emerged a critique of wage slavery which refers to a situation perceived as quasi-voluntary slavery,[14] where a person's livelihood depends on wages, especially when the dependence is total and immediate.[15][16] It is a negatively connoted term used to draw an analogy between slavery and wage labor by focusing on similarities between owning and renting a person. The term wage slavery has been used to criticize economic exploitation and social stratification, with the former seen primarily as unequal bargaining power between labor and capital (particularly when workers are paid comparatively low wages, e.g. in sweatshops),[17] and the latter as a lack of workers' self-management, fulfilling job choices and leisure in an economy.[18][19][20] Libertarian socialists believe if freedom is valued, then society must work towards a system in which individuals have the power to decide economic issues along with political issues. Libertarian socialists seek to replace unjustified authority with direct democracy, voluntary federation, and popular autonomy in all aspects of life,[21] including physical communities and economic enterprises. With the advent of the industrial revolution, thinkers such as Proudhon and Marx elaborated the comparison between wage labor and slavery in the context of a critique of societal property not intended for active personal use,[22][23] Luddites emphasized the dehumanization brought about by machines while later Emma Goldman famously denounced wage slavery by saying: "The only difference is that you are hired slaves instead of block slaves.".[11] American anarchist Emma Goldman believed that the economic system of capitalism was incompatible with human liberty. "The only demand that property recognizes," she wrote in Anarchism and Other Essays, "is its own gluttonous appetite for greater wealth, because wealth means power; the power to subdue, to crush, to exploit, the power to enslave, to outrage, to degrade."[24] She also argued that capitalism dehumanized workers, "turning the producer into a mere particle of a machine, with less will and decision than his master of steel and iron."[24]

Noam Chomsky contends that there is little moral difference between chattel slavery and renting one's self to an owner or "wage slavery". He feels that it is an attack on personal integrity that undermines individual freedom. He holds that workers should own and control their workplace.[25] Many libertarian socialists argue that large-scale voluntary associations should manage industrial manufacture, while workers retain rights to the individual products of their labor.[26] As such, they see a distinction between the concepts of "private property" and "personal possession". Whereas "private property" grants an individual exclusive control over a thing whether it is in use or not, and regardless of its productive capacity, "possession" grants no rights to things that are not in use.[27]

In addition to individualist anarchist Benjamin Tucker's "big four" monopolies (land, money, tariffs, and patents), Kevin Carson argues that the state has also transferred wealth to the wealthy by subsidizing organizational centralization, in the form of transportation and communication subsidies. He believes that Tucker overlooked this issue due to Tucker's focus on individual market transactions, whereas Carson also focuses on organizational issues. Carson holds that “capitalism, arising as a new class society directly from the old class society of the Middle Ages, was founded on an act of robbery as massive as the earlier feudal conquest of the land. It has been sustained to the present by continual state intervention to protect its system of privilege without which its survival is unimaginable.”[28] Carson coined the pejorative term "vulgar libertarianism," a phrase that describes the use of a free market rhetoric in defense of corporate capitalism and economic inequality. According to Carson, the term is derived from the phrase "vulgar political economy," which Karl Marx described as an economic order that "deliberately becomes increasingly apologetic and makes strenuous attempts to talk out of existence the ideas which contain the contradictions [existing in economic life]."[29]

Marxism

Capital: Critique of Political Economy, by Karl Marx, is a critical analysis of political economy, meant to reveal the economic laws of the capitalist mode of production
Capital: Critique of Political Economy, by Karl Marx, is a critical analysis of political economy, meant to reveal the economic laws of the capitalist mode of production

If we have chosen the position in life in which we can most of all work for mankind, no burdens can bow us down, because they are sacrifices for the benefit of all; then we shall experience no petty, limited, selfish joy, but our happiness will belong to millions, our deeds will live on quietly but perpetually at work, and over our ashes will be shed the hot tears of noble people..

— Karl Marx, 1837.[30]

Karl Marx saw capitalism as a historical stage, once progressive but which would eventually stagnate due to internal contradictions and would eventually be followed by socialism. Marx claimed that capitalism was nothing more than a necessary stepping stone for the progression of man, which would then face a political revolution before embracing the classless society.[31] Marxists define capital as "a social, economic relation" between people (rather than between people and things). In this sense they seek to abolish capital. They believe that private ownership of the means of production enriches capitalists (owners of capital) at the expense of workers ("the rich get richer, and the poor get poorer"). In brief, they argue that the owners of the means of production do not work and therefore exploit the workerforce. In Karl Marx's view, the capitalists would eventually accumulate more and more capital impoverishing the working class, creating the social conditions for a revolution that would overthrow the institutions of capitalism. Private ownership over the means of production and distribution is seen as a dependency of non-owning classes on the ruling class, and ultimately a source of restriction of human freedom.

Fascism

Fascists opposed both international socialism and free market capitalism, arguing that their views represented a third position. They claimed to provide a realistic economic alternative that was neither laissez-faire capitalism nor communism.[32] They favored corporatism and class collaboration, believing that the existence of inequality and social hierarchy was beneficial (contrary to the views of socialists),[33][34] while also arguing that the state had a role in mediating relations between classes (contrary to the views of liberal capitalists).[35]

Barter

Barter is a system of exchange where goods or services are directly exchanged for other goods or services without using a medium of exchange, such as money. It is distinguishable from gift economies in many ways; one of them is that the reciprocal exchange is immediate and not delayed in time. It is usually bilateral, but may be multilateral (i.e., mediated through barter organizations) and, in most developed countries, usually only exists parallel to monetary systems to a very limited extent. Barter, as a replacement for money as the method of exchange, is used in times of monetary crisis, such as when the currency may be either unstable (e.g., hyperinflation or deflationary spiral) or simply unavailable for conducting commerce. Bartering could be considered a social starting point towards an anti-capitalist system, by negating the need for a medium of exchange.

Wage slavery

Wage slavery refers to a situation where a person's livelihood depends on wages or a salary, especially when the dependence is total and immediate. It is a pejorative term used to draw an analogy between slavery and wage labor by focusing on similarities between owning and renting a person.

The term wage slavery has been used to criticize exploitation of labour and social stratification, with the former seen primarily as unequal bargaining power between labor and capital (particularly when workers are paid comparatively low wages, e.g. in sweatshops), and the latter as a lack of workers' self-management, fulfilling job choices, and leisure in an economy. The criticism of social stratification covers a wider range of employment choices bound by the pressures of a hierarchical society to perform otherwise unfulfilling work that deprives humans of their "species character" not only under threat of starvation or poverty, but also of social stigma and status diminution. It has been argued by some centre-left and left leaning activists that the economy of the contemporary United States constitutes a softer form of wage slavery, in which conditions are not grinding, but nonetheless not conducive to individual economic progress.

See also

References

  1. ^ Newman, Michael. (2005) Socialism: A Very Short Introduction, Oxford University Press, ISBN 0-19-280431-6
  2. ^ "Socialism". Oxford English Dictionary.
  3. ^ "Socialism". Encyclopædia Britannica. 2008.
  4. ^ [1] Archived July 16, 2010, at the Wayback Machine
  5. ^ Fred Magdoff and Michael D. Yates. "What Needs To Be Done: A Socialist View". Monthly Review. Retrieved 2014-02-23.
  6. ^ Let's produce for use, not profit. Retrieved August 7, 2010, from worldsocialism.org: "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2010-07-16. Retrieved 2015-08-18.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  7. ^ Engels, Fredrich. Socialism: Utopian and Scientific. Retrieved October 30, 2010, from Marxists.org: http://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1880/soc-utop/ch03.htm, "The bourgeoisie demonstrated to be a superfluous class. All its social functions are now performed by salaried employees."
  8. ^ The Political Economy of Socialism, by Horvat, Branko. 1982. Chapter 1: Capitalism, The General Pattern of Capitalist Development (pp. 15–20)
  9. ^ a b Marx and Engels Selected Works, Lawrence and Wishart, 1968, p. 40. Capitalist property relations put a "fetter" on the productive forces.
  10. ^ in Encyclopædia Britannica (2009). Retrieved October 14, 2009, from Encyclopædia Britannica Online: http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/551569/socialism, "Main" summary: "Socialists complain that capitalism necessarily leads to unfair and exploitative concentrations of wealth and power in the hands of the relative few who emerge victorious from free-market competition—people who then use their wealth and power to reinforce their dominance in society."
  11. ^ a b Goldman 2003, p. 283.
  12. ^ Lorenzo Kom'boa Ervin. "G.6 What are the ideas of Max Stirner? in An Anarchist FAQ". Infoshop.org. Archived from the original on 2010-11-23. Retrieved 2010-09-20.
  13. ^ "el capitalismo es sólo el efecto del gobierno; desaparecido el gobierno, el capitalismo cae de su pedestal vertiginosamente...Lo que llamamos capitalismo no es otra cosa que el producto del Estado, dentro del cual lo único que se cultiva es la ganancia, bien o mal habida. Luchar, pues, contra el capitalismo es tarea inútil, porque sea Capitalismo de Estado o Capitalismo de Empresa, mientras el Gobierno exista, existirá el capital que explota. La lucha, pero de conciencias, es contra el Estado."Anarquismo by Miguel Gimenez Igualada
  14. ^ Ellerman 1992.
  15. ^ "wage slave". merriam-webster.com. Retrieved 4 March 2013.
  16. ^ "wage slave". dictionary.com. Retrieved 4 March 2013.
  17. ^ Sandel 1996, p. 184
  18. ^ "Conversation with Noam Chomsky". Globetrotter.berkeley.edu. p. 2. Retrieved 2010-06-28.
  19. ^ Hallgrimsdottir & Benoit 2007.
  20. ^ "The Bolsheviks and Workers Control, 1917–1921: The State and Counter-revolution". Spunk Library. Retrieved 4 March 2013.
  21. ^ Harrington, Austin, et al. Encyclopedia of Social Theory Routledge (2006) p. 50
  22. ^ Proudhon 1890.
  23. ^ Marx 1969, Chapter VII
  24. ^ a b Goldman, Emma. Anarchism and Other Essays. 3rd ed. 1917. New York: Dover Publications Inc., 1969., p. 54.
  25. ^ "Conversation with Noam Chomsky, p. 2 of 5". Globetrotter.berkeley.edu. Retrieved August 16, 2011.
  26. ^ Lindemann, Albert S. A History of European Socialism Yale University Press (1983) p. 160
  27. ^ Ely, Richard et al. Property and Contract in Their Relations to the Distribution of Wealth. The Macmillan Company (1914)
  28. ^ Richman, Sheldon, Libertarian Left, The American Conservative (March 2011)
  29. ^ Marx, Theories of Surplus Value, III, p. 501.
  30. ^ Marx, Karl. "Letter from Marx To his Father In Trier". Marxist.org. Retrieved 15 March 2016.
  31. ^ Immanuel, Wallerstein (September 1974). "The Rise and Future Demise of the World Capitalist System: Concepts for Comparative Analysis" (PDF). Comparative Studies in Society and History. 16 (4): 387–415. Retrieved 20 July 2012.
  32. ^ Philip Morgan, Fascism in Europe, 1919-1945", New York, Taylor & Francis, 2003, p. 168.
  33. ^ "The Doctrine of Fascism". Enciclopedia Italiana. Rome: Istituto Giovanni Treccani. 1932. "[Fascism] affirms the irremediable, fruitful and beneficent inequality of men"
  34. ^ John Weiss, "The Fascist Tradition", Harper & Row, New York, 1967. pp. 14
  35. ^ Calvin B. Hoover, The Paths of Economic Change: Contrasting Tendencies in the Modern World, The American Economic Review, Vol. 25, No. 1, Supplement, Papers and Proceedings of the Forty-seventh Annual Meeting of the American Economic Association. (March, 1935), pp. 13-20.

Works cited

Further reading

External links

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