I’m continuing my reporting on the current installment of Conservative Estimate, the recently founded website that is devoted to demolishing Conservatism.
Yesterday, Mr. George showed that decent humanity can mollify the injustice on which Capitalism is based, but can never remove it.
Today, he shows that the rights of the workers are always superior to the rights of the capitalists in the face-off between them that is created by the injustice at the bottom of Capitalism.
Just a skip over the orange doodle will take you to our account of today’s post.
Mr. George begins by quoting at length from Abraham Lincoln’s State of the Union speech of 1861. Lincoln was ahead of his time in linking the out-and-out injustice of slavery with the approaching of slavery in a new, somewhat hidden, form: wage slavery. As was his way, Lincoln cuts right to the heart of the problem:
It is assumed that labor is available only in connection with capital; that nobody labors unless somebody else, owning capital, somehow by the use of it induces him to labor. This assumed, it is next considered whether it is best that capital shall hire laborers, and thus induce them to work by their own consent, or buy them and drive them to it without their consent. Having proceeded so far, it is naturally concluded that all laborers are either hired laborers or what we call slaves. And further, it is assumed that whoever is once a hired laborer is fixed in that condition for life.Mr. George goes on to point out that the current state of things exhibits an appearance that is precisely the opposite of the truth:
Now there is no such relation between capital and labor as assumed, nor is there any such thing as a free man being fixed for life in the condition of a hired laborer. Both these assumptions are false, and all inferences from them are groundless.
Labor is prior to and independent of capital. Capital is only the fruit of labor, and could never have existed if labor had not first existed. Labor is the superior of capital, and deserves much the higher consideration.
[Abraham Lincoln, Text of Address to Congress, December 3, 1861. http://www.presidentialrhetoric.com/... ad fin. Emphasis added.]
The worker is more important than the capitalist. It is the worker’s activity—not the capitalist’s—that actually produces things. Without the worker to make products, the capitalist would have nothing to sell or trade. He would use up his capital eventually on supporting himself in the style to which he has become accustomed. And then he would die. Furthermore, the worker can exist without the capitalist. He can work some land and feed himself even if no one pays him for his labor. But the capitalist cannot exist without the worker.You can read the whole post here.
Since the worker is superior to the capitalist in degree of dignity and in his ability to exist without the activity of the other, one would think that the benefits of any economic system ought to go by right primarily to the workers, and only secondarily to the capitalists. The current version of capitalism has the roles reversed: in our present hypercapitalist situation, the rights of the superior party are everywhere limited by the inferior party.
And the Myth of Capitalism, like any good sleight-of-hand trick, makes us look away from this obvious truth and fail to notice this patent injustice.
Tomorrow Mr. George will discuss why the capitalist mania for private enterprise is not particularly good for human well being.
I’ll be reporting back each day as a new installment appears.