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This diary is a part of a series examining the nature of capitalism. I have been itching to explore not just the economics of capitalism but whether capitalism can ever be fair or just or sustainable. As this group is an anti-capitalist group, I felt the need to get beyond discussions of who owns production and distribution systems. I want to examine why anybody would even see capitalism as righteous. In the mainstream political discourse, if one dares to say that she is not supportive of capitalism, one is a heretic. So, what is this thing that we worship? What are it's values? What makes capitalism so worthy of it's righteous status in our culture?

I didn't really know how to dive into the topic from this perspective. I wasn't interested in starting the examination through an academic lens. I was thinking in terms of having a conversation with one's next door neighbor when you're both out weeding in the garden: is capitalism fair?

Perhaps, the exploration will broaden and deepen from here. I'd love to see that. To get things started NY Brit Expat had the wonderful idea of delving into what was niggling at me by asking questions and generating a dialog.

We share that with you today and ask that you join the discussion that we have started:

NY Brit Expat: When you say that the capitalist system itself is not fair and is not just, what do you mean by fairness and justice? What would consititute a fair and just system in your view?

To me, fairness and justice hinge on those that create things actually controlling the thing they create; so workers should get control over the product rather than capitalists. Another issue that should be discussed is how our notions of right and wrong ( ethics and morality) become conditioned by the system itself.

One more point relates to ownership and property rights that are ensured by the system and how this is then justified and no one ever questions these things.

UnaSpenser: to begin with, fairness and justice, to my mind are concepts which stand alone, regardless of an economic system. That is, if there are 10 hungry people in a room and there are 10 servings of dinner available, the fair distribution is to give each person a serving. It doesn't matter how the meals got there, because food is a basic human need. If someone says, "but I worked harder" or "but I'm worth more" or "but my people contribute more", then they are moving away from fairness. they are willing to deny someone else the foundation of survival when there is enough there to meet every person in the room's needs. If someone needs more for a health reason, then, yes, the group may need to figure out how to redistribute to meet that additional survival need. But, "I think I should get more because " is simply selfish and runs off the track of fairness.  

fairness is when everyone has the ability to meet their basic needs without being obligated to, or compromised by, others. if someone says, "I can see that you need this meal, but I'll only give it to you if you agree to pay me later" or "i'll only give it you if you let me have sex with you", this is not fair. it is extortion, because the person must eat and cannot survive without meeting your demands. your willingness to make someone suffer or give up autonomy before they can meet the basic needs of life is cruel. fairness is a commitment to doing no harm to others and not impeding anyone else's ability to thrive autonomously. (one can be interconnected and still be autonomous.)

justice, to my mind, is a state of being where healing and the ability for everyone to function in society, have been restored, to the greatest extent we are able, after a transgression has occurred. the healing can't be to the fullest extent possible if anyone involved, even the perpetrator, has not received everything we can offer to regain the ability to function in society with fairness. so, justice would focus on returning all relationships to as balanced a state as possible. if things have become imbalanced, justice would demand working toward balance. also, justice is not born from fear. it is born from compassion. transgressions are born from fear. most often, when we make decisions based in fear, we further dysfunction and injustice. our response to a transgression then, must come from compassion for all. compassion which is not extended to everyone is not compassion. it includes treating some as though they are less than sentient than others. if you are treating anyone that you, you have corrupted your compassion and turned it into a tool for your fear.

back in that room: someone steals an extra meal and eats it. justice would demand that we understand why this person committed that transgression. that we work to resolve the issues that led to it so that the transgressor can function without harming or depriving anyone else. at the same time, we would need to figure out how to make sure that anyone who was deprived of a meal gets the needed meal. justice would demand that the one deprived and the transgressor work with everyone else on both the restoration of the transgressor's ability to be part of society and the restoration of the deprived meal. only this will heal the social relationships. functioning relationships rely on trust. trust is the framework. everybody must work to find out why and address all the spots of corrosion in the framework. for the transgressor to steal a meal, there must have been a fear, a lack of trust which led that person to not care how it impacted others and only think of herself. then, the transgression itself bred more distrust. the framework will start to crumble, as it can only take so many weak spots and still bear the weight of social responsibility. it is the responsibility of everyone to to repair the corroded spots in the society's framework.

everyone deserves to eat. When it comes meal time, depriving people of a serving, particularly if that person is aware that that everyone else will getting 10% more than needed by depriving her, is cruel and causes harm. if what someone needs is 1 serving, or 10% of the food, and they demand 11%, they are being unfair. if others agree to meet that demand, an injustice is committed by everyone. it isn't just that someone demanded. even if that person is a bully or holds some kind of power. everyone who acquiesces to an abuse of power is complicit in the injustice.

in capitalism, the foundation of the economic system is this concept of profit. profit means demanding that you receive resources of a greater value than what you contribute. (its gets even more complicated when you start to consider labor structures and that people are demanding to receive resources for someone else's labor. but, I don't want to get into that, yet. that's a symptom of an underlying moral/ethical issue with the basic precept of capitalism.) at the very core of capitalism is this axiom that all we do should produce a profit for us.

there are several problems with this axiom. first, there is a logical concern: it must include the precept that everyone could earn a profit. Otherwise, one would be saying that it's okay for some people to lose. But, to lose in an economic system means to lose the ability to provide for the basics needs of life. back in that room again: if the person who happens to carry the meals into the room demands so much from me for my meal , that I no longer have the resources to get my critical medications, then I will die. but, this is not a consideration in the capitalist construct. transactions don't have to take into account the ripple effects. they are only accounted for as independent transactions. the only time this is not true is when enough people gather enough power to demand that some effects be taken into account. in capitalism, power is measured by control of resources. so, those with control over more resources most often hold all the power when it comes to what will be accounted for. in capitalism, if you happen to be the one holding the tray with the meals, you automatically get more power. it doesn't matter how you landed in that position. It is the rare victory when the "little people" win a dispute over such a thing as the collateral effects of a transaction. this idea that "the market" will correct injustices has already proven itself to be wrong. those with the most resources control "the market." injustices abound. corporations can be deemed too big to fail. or too big to prosecute. that is because justice is not an ethic in the capitalist system. only winning the game of garnering control over resources.

for capitalism to be considered fair, it must assume that there are enough resources and enough equal access that everyone can pursue an unbounded accumulation for themselves without doing harm to others. yet, what we need for survival are resources from the planet: food, water, medicines, shelter, etc. No matter how large the Earth may feel, it is a limited resource. Access to the limited resources it offers is also limited. If that were not so, people would not be hungry or die from illnesses which can be treated. capitalism might pretend to be blind to this illogic, but that does not change the fact that is based on pursuing an unfair and unjust agenda.

When we see that food is accumulated in some places and lacking in others, we will also see that it is accumulated by those who have won at the profit game and lacking for those who haven't. Who wins at the profit game? Those more able and willing to have no concern for the well being of others and to continue to demand more resources be given to them than they are contributing. They see people who are hungry, who don't have warm clothes for the winter, who don't have homes, who don't have access to medical care and, still, they demand more for themselves. They start to have a skewed sense of what they are "due" or "need." They could walk into that room and feel completely comfortable demanding that 90% of the food be given to them, regardless of how that deprives everyone else. What is the characteristic of a person who behaves this way? Someone who has no concern for the well-being of others? A sociopath. What is the methodology they must use to get people to give them more than their fair share? Bullying. Capitalism is sociopathic in nature and to be a leading capitalist, one must be a bully.

We see a disproportionate distribution of food in the United States. While people are starving, the capitalist system will report "good numbers" in their economic analyses. It even has determined that a certain percentage of people unable to provide the basics of life for themselves is "tolerable." This is because, we know, deep down, that capitalism has to have losers. We train ourselves to believe in "competition" as an admirable, desirable thing, even though we know that in competitions there are very few winners and lots and lots of losers. Losing a baseball game may not seem like something to be concerned about when it comes to fairness and justice. But, we are inuring ourselves to the pain of the losers in all arenas. We are training ourselves to accept and tolerate that life has losers. We don't care whether that is fair or just. Capitalism is not about that. Capitalism is about turning us all into sociopaths. When you see the nature of the political discourse happening now, you see sociopathy running rampant.

this profit basis for every transaction we complete with our fellow human beings doesn't take into consideration whether you are taking more than you need, more than what you represent as a percentage of the people in your society, or if you are depriving others of what they need. it is without any morality. the moral code is "getting more for yourself, or your own people, is good" period. it is codified into capitalist laws, that corporations must do what they can to maximize profits for their shareholders. so, when a health insurance company has shareholders, it is their legal imperative to prioritize taking in more resources than they contribute to society, regardless of what this means to the health or suffering of human beings. it is not a system where the incentive is to provide the best care and do the most to reduce suffering. the incentive is to gather in more resources than you give out.

back to our room with 10 people and 10 meals. what is fair about demanding that you get 110% of a serving when you are only 100% of a serving? but, in a capitalist system, one isn't concerned with a fair distribution of food. one is concerned with making a profit. yes, in a room of 10 people, those people might decide to become a clan, knowing there are other rooms of people out there needing the resources of life and that together they might bully that other group better and maybe everyone in the room could make a profit. but, you can't extend that model very far, because at some point, you have to be getting your profit by causing someone else to take a loss. so, you can't decide to include all humans in your clan or else you wouldn't be able to be capitalists any more. if you are concerned with the well being of everyone, you can't prioritize profit. you have to shift to a different system of transactions and priorities. you have start operating as a collective.

so, I've started to discuss right and wrong. I think we could delve more into that.

I don't think I'll get to production control tonight.

PS: I'm adding the comment from our Facebook conversation which you suggested I put here:

if we want to honor the sanctity of life, we should never allow a person to starve, be homeless, or die from an illness which we can treat. that is we should honor the basic human right of those who are living to thrive. that includes those whom we feel have committed transgressions. every life deserves every resource we can provide to return to a state of autonomous, interconnected ability to thrive
NY Brit Expat: Fairness and justice are broader than right and wrong to me; the latter are more individual in terms of individual behaviour; fairness and justice seem more global or universal to me ... Isn't that weird; they seem to me to be more like things that I perceive or don't on a societal level. In that it is how we as people or society should relate to each other. Right and wrong I can view in a social way, but I often view them as individual behaviourally oriented. I wonder why I think this is so? Actions can, of course, be fair and just, as can decisions. But it is to me a social relation between people in a social context that I view it. So, what makes for a just society? That all are treated equally w/o reference to gender or false conceptions such as race, or w/o reference to property ownership or power relations. Does fairness relate to everyone being covered independent of ability, but with all needs covered?

UnaSpenser: I can see that perspective: that fairness and justice are on a societal level. The examples I gave were meant to illustrate that by metaphor. the 10 people in the room represent a whole society. it becomes a state when they decide to be a clan. the transgressor could be an individual with power or a system within the society/state. the other rooms are other societies/states and the decision to work together with some of them are alliances.

I, too, see the quality of relationships as key to the definition of fairness and justice. probably something along the line of a Buddhist notion of right relationships. one key to that is that no one should have power over another. one may acquiesce leadership in a given moment or for a certain experience, but one should never give up having power over one's self, one's time, and one's ability to thrive. if access to food, clothing, shelter, medical care and education are not always accessible, one is forced to give up autonomy in order to acquire those things. this means giving others power over you, because you are coerced into a subservient position simply to meet the basic needs of life. power corrupts. therefore relationships where someone has power over another become corrupted. this corrupts society.

for me, a fair society is one where all have unfettered access to what they need to thrive, without being left in obligation to, or compromised by, others. (I am purposefully saying 'thrive' rather than 'survive.' Once can survive with a lot of unnecessary suffering inflicted by others.)

A just society is one in which we address any abuses of power or systems which inhibit that fairness and we return everyone to a state of being able to thrive in society.

I'll have to think more about right and wrong. I don't tend to think in those terms. will you tell me more about what you mean by right and wrong, please?

NY Brit Expat: I have always viewed right and wrong in terms of a moral relationship between individuals; that is, I behave in a certain way towards another person rather than how a society itself behaves which I think relates to justness and fairness.  But societies can then take the individual moral relationship and use it to describe how we must treat each other ... this sometimes takes place in the context of laws and rules. But those do not guarantee fairness and justice in a society which depends upon other things to me. So, a society can guarantee that you have a right of property through the use of law and state power, but that right actually ensures injustice and unfairness in that society.

The question of right and wrong seems to be a different thing; but it does relate in a broader sense as we can have morals underpinning our society to ensure justice and fairness; but this becomes very difficult in a system based upon private property and protection of that property being enshrined in a legal system. We can say that it is right that no one should starve and that it is wrong that some people have many things and some have nothing, but implementing this without threatening the property right becomes very difficult if it is treated as a zero sum game (that is a given amount where anything given to one takes away from the other).

UnaSpenser - Agreed. Implementing true fairness and justice when so much unfairness and injustice is already in place and has been for centuries is another question, altogether. If you start off with inequities, you can't just start by saying fairness requires that each transaction is a zero sum game. One has to start accounting for existing imbalances. One must restore balance first. That is, we must apply justice before we can enact fairness. How do restore justice is always the question that people use to stop the conversation about whether they believe we should work towards justice. It's often the "get out of jail free" card of social responsibility.

Before even trying to figure out how justice could be restored when there is so much inequity in place, we must at least be able to agree on what justice and fairness are and admit that we are not living it. Without these agreements, we have no starting point for any mapping of a journey towards justice. We need to speak the truth about where we are and we need to agree on where we want to go. We need to commit to that mission. Then we can begin to work together to figure out the stepping stones we must place to take the journey. We can't leap to building stepping stones, if we aren't all starting in the same place and seeking the same destination. So, I don't want to get into the itinerary of the journey, yet.

From UnaSpenser and NY Brit Expat: this is the beginning of a conversation. We invite you to think of it as the two people at one end of a table having started a discussion. As we get to talking more and more of you, sitting at the grand table with us are tuning in and listening. Then, you begin to offer your own thoughts and questions......

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Comment Preferences

  •  Human societies started out as (11+ / 0-)

    small bands and tribes of hunter gatherers who were probably closely biologically related. Most of our notions are derived from a sense of the need for people to pull together for mutual safety and support. The idea of a duty owed to others is still tied to notions of kinship. Modern industrial societies have tried to substitute a more abstract notion of nationalism for strict biological kinship.

    Beliefs in any kind of universal human rights to things like food, shelter, medical care and safety really require getting past restrictions based on some form of arbitrary relationship. Capitalism is a system that is based on competition. That inherently presupposes designations of us and them. Justice which recognizes universal human rights is fundamentally at odds with such a system.
     

    •  Re (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      misslegalbeagle
      Beliefs in any kind of universal human rights to things like food, shelter, medical care and safety really require getting past restrictions based on some form of arbitrary relationship. Capitalism is a system that is based on competition. That inherently presupposes designations of us and them. Justice which recognizes universal human rights is fundamentally at odds with such a system.
      "Rights" are a difficult thing.

      It's entirely possible to create a right like "free speech" because your free speech costs me nothing at all.

      However, a "right" to food, shelter, and medical care now forces you to provide those things to other people. So, my "right" becomes your "obligation", pretty much the opposite of a right, since you're forced to go to work and some portion of your week is now devoted to working for other people instead of you yourself.

      I think there definitely has to be a balance somewhere. Someone who takes the time and effort and skill to develop an in-demand skill must be compensated adequately for that effort. It's inappropriate (and in my view, a violation of their rights) to say "Hey, congrats! No salary increase, though, you have to take care of all of these other people."

      (-5.50,-6.67): Left Libertarian
      Leadership doesn't mean taking a straw poll and then just throwing up your hands. -Jyrinx

      by Sparhawk on Sun Jan 13, 2013 at 11:25:06 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  this is within the logic of capitalism (7+ / 0-)

        we are trying to think outside that logic which is actually quite easy for some of us, but quite difficult for most people.

        Donate to Occupy Wall Street here: http://nycga.cc/donate/

        by BlueDragon on Sun Jan 13, 2013 at 11:29:34 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  What logic (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          misslegalbeagle

          At the end of the day, there are people who produce a lot, a little, and some people who only consume.

          The only question here is how to divvy up the results of the producers' efforts.

          This question is a matter of math and not a matter of debate or "different logic".

          (-5.50,-6.67): Left Libertarian
          Leadership doesn't mean taking a straw poll and then just throwing up your hands. -Jyrinx

          by Sparhawk on Sun Jan 13, 2013 at 11:33:36 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  hardly (5+ / 0-)

            first of all, you believe that  some people produce a lot and some people consume a lot.  this is your conclusion based on what evidence?

            i reject the idea that people in a healthy psychological state are selfish.  i reject the idea that people some people are inherently lazy and just want to consume.  

            i think humans are programmed at a genetic level to produce and share.  we evolved over many thousands of years doing just that.  competition as we experience it now is an aberration.

            we get a lot of satisfaction from working together towards a goal.  a lot.

            Donate to Occupy Wall Street here: http://nycga.cc/donate/

            by BlueDragon on Sun Jan 13, 2013 at 11:38:13 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Re (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              misslegalbeagle
              first of all, you believe that  some people produce a lot and some people consume a lot.  this is your conclusion based on what evidence?
              It's obvious. If you don't take as an element of the world that some people and organizations are economically productive and some are not, or merely consume, there is nothing we can possibly discuss.

              It has nothing to do with laziness either. Some people cannot or do not wish to produce due to health issues, retirement, picked the wrong major in college, etc etc. Some companies don't produce because they survive only by government support. There is no perjorative connotation here, but the math is still the math.

              (-5.50,-6.67): Left Libertarian
              Leadership doesn't mean taking a straw poll and then just throwing up your hands. -Jyrinx

              by Sparhawk on Sun Jan 13, 2013 at 11:51:19 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  it is obvious under the system we have (4+ / 0-)

                in place with a certain definition of economic production.

                innovative creators work a long time without producing anything of value and then some of them suddenly produce something that changes the structure around them for the better.  some of them produce nothing of value at all for a lifetime, but we can't tell beforehand who is who.

                mothers raising healthy and psychologically strong children labor two decades without producing anything of value.

                children use far more resources than they produce for most of twenty years.  under your logic, we should just do away with children, period.

                retired people supposedly produced for decades and decades.

                Donate to Occupy Wall Street here: http://nycga.cc/donate/

                by BlueDragon on Sun Jan 13, 2013 at 11:57:51 AM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  Re (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  BlueDragon
                  innovative creators work a long time without producing anything of value and then some of them suddenly produce something that changes the structure around them for the better.  some of them produce nothing of value at all for a lifetime, but we can't tell beforehand who is who.
                  And I submit the right way to handle all of this is the market. If people produce useful stuff, they get paid for it. If they don't, they can avail themselves of whatever social welfare we have available.
                  mothers raising healthy and psychologically strong children labor two decades without producing anything of value.
                  The question is: what of value do those children produce? If the answer is nothing, then nothing of value was gained by society as a whole. If they are economically productive, then the mother's efforts were an investment for future growth.
                  children use far more resources than they produce for most of twenty years.  under your logic, we should just do away with children, period.
                  Nope, same as the above. Children are expected to be productive in the future: it's an investment.
                  retired people supposedly produced for decades and decades.
                  They did, and they were compensated for it while they worked. Now, however, they are not productive. The question is what to do about it. In some manner, resources need to be redirected to these people for them to survive as I describe earlier.

                  (-5.50,-6.67): Left Libertarian
                  Leadership doesn't mean taking a straw poll and then just throwing up your hands. -Jyrinx

                  by Sparhawk on Sun Jan 13, 2013 at 12:05:31 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  i submit that economic competition (3+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    NY brit expat, JayRaye, northsylvania

                    is not the way to decide such matters because humans are very bad at recognizing the value of ideas/creations in the beginning, especially now that we have a very complex civilization in which most of us are anonymous.

                    everyone needs to be guaranteed a minimal level of what you call 'social welfare' precisely because it is impossible to know ahead of time which innovators will invent/create the most valuable 'products.'

                    Donate to Occupy Wall Street here: http://nycga.cc/donate/

                    by BlueDragon on Sun Jan 13, 2013 at 12:11:17 PM PST

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  If you are arguing... (0+ / 0-)

                      ...that we need a certain minimal level of social welfare (maybe even not-so-minimal), I completely agree, my "left libertarian" position notwithstanding.

                      However, the argument here as I understand it is that capitalism is a fundamentally flawed system and that we really need to have a system of "from each abilities, to each needs".

                      I do not concur with this idea for a variety of reasons, mainly because it de-incentivizes producers and assumes as a "right" the proceeds of other people's hard work.

                      (-5.50,-6.67): Left Libertarian
                      Leadership doesn't mean taking a straw poll and then just throwing up your hands. -Jyrinx

                      by Sparhawk on Sun Jan 13, 2013 at 12:21:17 PM PST

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  i prefer to sidestep that phrase (5+ / 0-)

                        as it is too overdetermined

                        'from each. . .' has received too much mindless criticism to even be the basis for a discussion.

                        this group is not an a priori marxist group.  i think a lot of different options which haven't even yet been described are possible.

                        i accept most of marx in so far as i understand his theories, but i also accept that there can and should be new analytical frameworks which can offer insight.

                        i do not think this group has had enough internal discussion to recognize an ideology beyond 'anti-capitalism' which all the active members probably agree to as a starting point.

                        marx was one genius.  i think we can hope for others too, especially with seven billion people now on the planet.

                        Donate to Occupy Wall Street here: http://nycga.cc/donate/

                        by BlueDragon on Sun Jan 13, 2013 at 12:27:00 PM PST

                        [ Parent ]

                        •  thank you, as I am not a Marxist and I have not (2+ / 0-)
                          Recommended by:
                          NY brit expat, JayRaye

                          used the "from each...." line.

                          When I ask the question is capitalism fair and just, I'm not asking it as a relativist question. It doesn't matter, for the purpose of this discussion whether any other system is more or less fair and just.

                          I'm trying to get us to look at this thing we worship and ask some fundamental questions about it.

                          If we conclude that, "hey, I'm fine with the premise of everything being based on whether profit is generated" then, fine.

                          But, if we conclude that there is a basic unfairness, injustice or unsustainability of that foundation, then we are best served to consider what about is problematic and try to address those things.

                          Others here have ready answers for how address these problems. I don't. I want to look at the fundamental unfairness  and ask, would we prefer something which is fair and just? If so, let's write that down as the sine qua non of the system we would create. Now, let's start building a system. As every brick in that system is about to be laid in, we must first ask ourselves "does this maintain fairness and justice and sustainability?" If not, we can't lay that brick.

                          •  Most systems so far, (4+ / 0-)

                            from feudal societies to capitalist and communist ones, disadvantage people who are not aggressive. People who want stability, an honest day's work for an honest day's pay, or who work to the best of their abilities for the benefit of all, are considered serfs, takers, and drones by those who wish to exploit them. I think any of these systems start to collapse when the exploited realise how badly they are treated and begin to investigate alternate systems. This process is in its early days on a global scale because developing countries would like to see the rewards that the Western world has accrued, first by exploiting their own workers and resources and then those who are purportedly converting to capitalist ideals: a form of ponzi scheme. I am an anti-capitalist because it is unsustainable, but the search for better models and possible solution is, for me at least, ongoing. I am waiting for one that treats sociopathic behaviour as the disease that it is.

                            "We are monkeys with money and guns". Tom Waits

                            by northsylvania on Sun Jan 13, 2013 at 02:16:49 PM PST

                            [ Parent ]

                        •  Actually... (1+ / 0-)
                          Recommended by:
                          JayRaye

                          Marx wasn't the author of the "from each according to their abilities.." quote.

                          It predates Marx. I don't recall the name of the original source off hand. If anyone wants to know, I have a book I can check as a reference, but this was not from Marx, if what I've read is correct, and I have reason to believe it isn't.

                          "In times of universal deceit, telling the truth will be a revolutionary act." -George Orwell

                          by ZhenRen on Sun Jan 13, 2013 at 05:16:28 PM PST

                          [ Parent ]

                          •  **"...have NO reason to believe" nt (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            JayRaye

                            "In times of universal deceit, telling the truth will be a revolutionary act." -George Orwell

                            by ZhenRen on Sun Jan 13, 2013 at 05:18:11 PM PST

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  Okay... found the source (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            JayRaye

                            It was in the notes to Graeber's book, Debt, The First Five thousand Years.

                            Notes for Chapter 5, Page 404 of the hardback, for anyone interested.

                            Graeber writes that

                            ...the phrase was a "slogan current in the early French worker's movement, first appearing in print in the works of socialist Louis Blanc in 1939. Marx only took up the phrase in his Critique of the Gotha Programme in 1875, and even then used it in a rather idiosyncratic way: for the principle he imagined could apply on the level of society as a whole once technology had reached the point of guaranteeing absolute material abundance."
                            Graeber's usage of the phrase in the text, he writes, is more in line with Kropotkin's usage in his work Mutual Aid, which, I gather, is more within the context of situations in which persons, according to their abilities (which could pertain to various scenarios, and to groups large or small) could give to others what is needed to fulfill requirements. In other words, mutual aid, wherein no one is keeping records of each and every exchange and transaction, but sharing according to what happens to be at hand, according to abilities/needs, in a given circumstance. These capabilities would change according to resources, age, or simply chance, and needs would change for the same reason.

                            Anyway... grappling with this cited difference, but it seems to me there is more than one usage of the phrase.

                            Graeber:

                            "Starting, as I say, from the principle of each according to his abilities, to each according to his needs," allows us to look past the question of individual and private ownership (which is often little more than formal legality anyway) and at much more immediate and practical questions of who has access to what sorts of things and under what conditions. Whenever it is the operating principle, even if it's just two people who are interacting, we can say we're in the presence of a sort of communism."
                            This is a less formal, less specific usage, it seems.

                            "In times of universal deceit, telling the truth will be a revolutionary act." -George Orwell

                            by ZhenRen on Sun Jan 13, 2013 at 06:08:42 PM PST

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  **"operative principle" n/t (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            JayRaye

                            "In times of universal deceit, telling the truth will be a revolutionary act." -George Orwell

                            by ZhenRen on Sun Jan 13, 2013 at 06:11:33 PM PST

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  Oh damn... my vision causing problems (0+ / 0-)

                            The year Louis Blanc wrote that is 1839, not 1939. I'm prone to typos, sorry.

                            "In times of universal deceit, telling the truth will be a revolutionary act." -George Orwell

                            by ZhenRen on Mon Jan 14, 2013 at 11:26:51 AM PST

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  Confirmed by wikipedia (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            JayRaye

                            "In times of universal deceit, telling the truth will be a revolutionary act." -George Orwell

                            by ZhenRen on Sun Jan 13, 2013 at 06:57:45 PM PST

                            [ Parent ]

                      •  A very basic thing that you need to understand (7+ / 0-)

                        these people are only redundant in the context of a capitalist economic system where earning money for whatever skills you have is based upon exchange value and not upon the fact that what you do is needed for the society as a whole; people contribute in many ways, it is not only in their jobs as inputs into the production process. An obvious example is childcare in the family, where mothers and grandparents help care for the next generation ... that is a major contribution, but because it has limited exchange value in that someone can make a profit off of it, wages in the field are low, it is only partially subsidised by creches by the state and for the wealthy they can bring in nannies, but generally it falls upon the women in  the family.

                        That is the nature of the system, it is the valuation of the system in terms of profitability that is relevant rather than whether people contribute to social well-being that is important.

                        "Hegel noticed somewhere that all great world history facts and people so to speak twice occur. He forgot to add: the one time as tragedy, the other time as farce" Karl Marx, The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte .

                        by NY brit expat on Sun Jan 13, 2013 at 12:36:21 PM PST

                        [ Parent ]

                        •  I find it problematic that people have to have (6+ / 0-)

                          what others deem a purpose in order to be considered worthy of thriving.

                          I don't think there has ever been a time in history where the human race was at risk of extinction because there were too many lazy, undeserving people around.

                          Yet, we base our entire worldview of how a society must be structured on a pre-set resentment that people will cheat us out of whatever it is we think we worked so hard to "earn."

                          I'd really like to dig at that and shatter this fear-based core which informs so much of how we treat each other.

                          •  Re (0+ / 0-)
                            I find it problematic that people have to have what others deem a purpose in order to be considered worthy of thriving.
                            That's fine.

                            You don't need a purpose at all. You don't need anything of the kind.

                            However, why should I give you any kind of money or other item of economic value if you don't have a "purpose" and won't produce any corresponding value for me?

                            I don't deem anyone "worthy of thriving" or "not worthy of thriving". I just look at whether they provide value that I consider useful.

                            (-5.50,-6.67): Left Libertarian
                            Leadership doesn't mean taking a straw poll and then just throwing up your hands. -Jyrinx

                            by Sparhawk on Sun Jan 13, 2013 at 07:25:49 PM PST

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  spoken like a true capitalist (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            JayRaye
                      •  It does not de-incentivize producers (4+ / 0-)

                        In the anarchist organized regions of Spain during the Spanish Civil War, it was found that incentive, innovation, and production increased, compared to years before under capitalism. People expressed that they had a keener desire to go to work, since there weren't lords and bosses telling them what to do at every turn. They were happier in the work environment. Decisions were collectively and democratically made.

                        Under authoritarian systems (such as capitalism), with constant supervision and lack of freedom, and a rather totalitarian dictatorship of the corporation over its employees, people tend to loath work. Surveys in the US reveal that a majority of Americans hate their jobs.

                        As to your reference to appropriation of "other's hard work" as if there is some way to accurately place a value on how much of one person's work is attributed to that single person, Kropotkin argued that is nearly impossible to determine, since the work of one person (who may have special knowledge or training) derives from the accumulation of work of generations before, in which systems of knowledge and training, and thus the schools which follow, were created by countless individuals too numerous and varied to track. And also one must try to calculate the value contributed by society that allows such a person to go to the school, and the funding of the school system itself, and all the help to that single individual over his or her lifetime to bring that person to the skill levels he/she has learned.

                        And the value of work by countless lesser skilled laborers, done to keep society functioning while, say, a doctor went to school, rather than work in a coal mine or rubbish collection, must also be calculated, because people don't live in isolation, in a vacuum. The whol society contributes to that single individual's training.

                        And it certainly isn't fair to have a society based on social Darwinism, in which some people get to go to school for better training because they're simply far richer than a worthy, smart person from a ghetto. As Kropotkin so well phrased it, "The wealth of the wealthy springs from the poverty of the poor." The wealthy exist at the expense of the poor. One comes from the other.

                        This is why such thinkers as Kropotkin theorize that the value of the coal miner's labor is exactly the same as a doctor's, because each allow the other to succeed. In fact, it could be argued that the most unpleasant forms of crucial labor, such as rubbish collection, or cleaning sewers, should be compensated MORE, not less.

                        In summary, there is no accurate method by which to calculate with any realistic certainty how much of a single person's labor, resulting from his or her training, is attributable exactly to that single individual. Your entire concept of remuneration is illusory.

                        By the way, I notice you call yourself a "libertarian leftist". As someone who has an interest in anarchist, and libertarian thought, I must add that there is nothing at all liberating about laissez faire capitalism, where exploitation from hierarchically based corporate structures allow complete domination of the workers' lives. That is not freedom. That is not liberty. The use of the word libertarian, which began in France during the 1800s, described anarcho-socialist concepts of liberty from the authoritarianism of the state, as well as from wage slavery, and hierarchical relationships. Thus, your use of it is considered incorrect and misleading. It is a misnomer, a corruption of the meaning of the term.

                        "In times of universal deceit, telling the truth will be a revolutionary act." -George Orwell

                        by ZhenRen on Sun Jan 13, 2013 at 02:38:30 PM PST

                        [ Parent ]

                      •  "The proceeds of other people's hard work" (1+ / 0-)
                        Recommended by:
                        JayRaye

                        You mean like the proceeds of the hard work of Mitt
                        Romney? A thief doesn't have the right to the proceeds of his hard work.

                      •  "proceeds of hard work" (1+ / 0-)
                        Recommended by:
                        JayRaye

                        You mean like the proceeds of the hard work of Mitt Romney? A thief does not have a right to the proceeds of his hard work.

                    •  Re (0+ / 0-)
                      is not the way to decide such matters because humans are very bad at recognizing the value of ideas/creations in the beginning, especially now that we have a very complex civilization in which most of us are anonymous.
                      So you think that you (or some government agency) are better than other people at determining the value of things than average people walking down the streets?

                      (-5.50,-6.67): Left Libertarian
                      Leadership doesn't mean taking a straw poll and then just throwing up your hands. -Jyrinx

                      by Sparhawk on Sun Jan 13, 2013 at 06:02:40 PM PST

                      [ Parent ]

                  •  The market to which you refer (5+ / 0-)

                    could not exist without the wage slavery of workers.

                    But when people are treated as if bags of rice, as mere commodities, in which their labor is purchased in the market in the same manner in which manure is purchased for fertilizing fields, then the "market" is not anything resembling freedom, unless humans being treated as things seems like freedom to you. And of course, by this system, the real value of labor is not compensated, but rather stolen by the producer class.

                    People are not "free" to change jobs anytime they like. Jobs, when thrown to the vicissitudes of the rise and fall of a market economy, create a situation in which people are treated as if they are an expendable element, while the upper echelons of society insulate themselves as much as possible from such market inequities. Wealth tends to generate more wealth, while poverty tends to generate more poverty. It is extremely difficult to rise out of poverty once one ends up in that condition.

                    Thus, the market is only "free" for a small segment of society, and for everyone else, it is servitude and slavery. The market, presented as some sort of great leveler of society, is an illusion.

                    And Donald Trump is not a superior being... LOL.

                    "In times of universal deceit, telling the truth will be a revolutionary act." -George Orwell

                    by ZhenRen on Sun Jan 13, 2013 at 03:15:35 PM PST

                    [ Parent ]

              •  First place, you are basing all this on a monetary (9+ / 0-)

                system of exchange.  Who says what artists produce is worth more or less than those who produce luxury clothes or football stadiums? Who determines that the value of basic vegetables is more or less than steaks? then there is the relationship between the producer and consumer under capitalism.  The value of the goods the producer produces requires consumers. Who gets to consume what is not only based on their laziness, inability, greediness, etc. but on how much money they have to purchase goods.

                The government support that we provide to airlines is only necessary because there are competing airlines who refuse to merge into one cooperative airline and we have to pay for th absurdity of flying several half empty planes from several airlines at the same time to the same destination so the companies won't fail in this "free market" system.  

                If this seems absurd, so do the positions you are raising. The real absurdity is that all of this is based on the presumption of a money economy rather than real value or real efficiency to meet people's needs.

                •  It is also a classic example (5+ / 0-)

                  of a profound inability to think out of the box.

                •  Other than money... (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  misslegalbeagle

                  ...and market-based mechanisms, how do you propose to figure out the value of different things? I submit that the value of something is what someone is willing to pay for it. It's a simple and efficient calculation.

                  How would you do the calculation?

                  (-5.50,-6.67): Left Libertarian
                  Leadership doesn't mean taking a straw poll and then just throwing up your hands. -Jyrinx

                  by Sparhawk on Sun Jan 13, 2013 at 12:11:04 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  It resources are distributed (6+ / 0-)

                    on the basis of need, there is no need for quantitative valuation.

                    •  "to each according...." can actually happen in (6+ / 0-)

                      an economy that thinks more about communitarianism and common-pool resources in the context of minimizing exploitation rather than trying to create metrics for "fairness" in a system that privileges property rights

                      Warning - some snark above‽ (-9.50; -7.03)‽ “If someone has a tool and is trying to negate your existence it would be reasonable to reciprocate in kind with your own tool.” - Dalai Lama XIV (sic)

                      by annieli on Sun Jan 13, 2013 at 12:15:15 PM PST

                      [ Parent ]

                    •  Re (1+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      misslegalbeagle

                      How do you determine "need"?

                      And if there is surplus, how do you allocate that?

                      And if there is a deficit such that everyone's needs can't be met, how do you allocate that?

                      The idea that you don't need numerical valuations is nonsense, and it's not a lack of "out of box" thinking to recognize that fact.

                      (-5.50,-6.67): Left Libertarian
                      Leadership doesn't mean taking a straw poll and then just throwing up your hands. -Jyrinx

                      by Sparhawk on Sun Jan 13, 2013 at 12:25:27 PM PST

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  Surpluses and decicits (6+ / 0-)

                        are artificial economic constructs. Need can be determined by a community setting standards through a democratic process.

                        You compulsive need to label anything that doesn't fit with your personal prejudices as nonsense is classic rigidity.  

                        •  Yeah (0+ / 0-)

                          They're 'artificial' economic constructs until your trading partners refuse to trade with you because you haven't paid your bills.

                          (-5.50,-6.67): Left Libertarian
                          Leadership doesn't mean taking a straw poll and then just throwing up your hands. -Jyrinx

                          by Sparhawk on Sun Jan 13, 2013 at 05:33:17 PM PST

                          [ Parent ]

                      •  an adequate supply of food (8+ / 0-)

                        shelter, education and medicine is pretty easy to define.

                        if we have a true deficit in any category, we can decide what to do in context at that point.

                        i am not convinced we have a true deficit.  we certainly have a distribution problem.

                        charles eisenstein points out that we might have up to an 80% excess production capacity on this planet at this moment for goods.

                        this is not the accepted message.  scarcity is the accepted message, but if we have so much scarcity, why do we produce so much garbage in the form of products which are meant to break or wear out almost immediately?  that fact alone suggests that we have excess capacity.  hoarding as a psychological disease suggests we have excess capacity.

                        i think the scarcity we are likely to experience in the future has to do with the destruction of global resources via over consumption and overproduction of garbage products in everything from cars to appliances to clothing.

                        Donate to Occupy Wall Street here: http://nycga.cc/donate/

                        by BlueDragon on Sun Jan 13, 2013 at 12:34:12 PM PST

                        [ Parent ]

                      •  need is a very easy thing to determine (6+ / 0-)

                        it is what is needed for human beings to not only survive but to enjoy life, it is not only subsistence and reproduction but more. We have no difficulty producing food, the problem is that the system is such that much of it is wasted, what is produced is not wanted or needed and it is not distributed to all those that need it.

                        Deficits in this day and age are a thing of the past, we can easily meet people's needs outside the context of a system based upon profitability which not only skews what is produced, but who gets it and how much of it they get. You need to think outside the box a bit more.

                        "Hegel noticed somewhere that all great world history facts and people so to speak twice occur. He forgot to add: the one time as tragedy, the other time as farce" Karl Marx, The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte .

                        by NY brit expat on Sun Jan 13, 2013 at 12:39:33 PM PST

                        [ Parent ]

                        •  the idea of deficits is a holdover (4+ / 0-)

                          from earlier emergency times and we seem to be obsessed with memories/experiences of deficits.

                          i agree, we can easily see that we no longer have deficits if we stop wasting.  indeed, the pressure to waste is an indication that we have surpluses.

                          the pressure to stimulate the global economy by destroying whole systems through war so that we can rebuild them is strong evidence that we are living in an age of surplus but we do not recognize this simple fact.

                          can everyone have granite counter tops and/or should they?  nope.  they are a ridiculous waste of resources and not all that beautiful or practical as counter tops.

                          we are wasting everything around us in an orgy of hatred for the truly beautiful.  

                          real beauty around us will satisfy us far, far more and the carrying cost for the planet will be tremendously reduced.

                          one good set of furniture for a lifetime which can be passed on to other generations will satisfy us much more than millions of garbage sofas.

                          Donate to Occupy Wall Street here: http://nycga.cc/donate/

                          by BlueDragon on Sun Jan 13, 2013 at 12:46:30 PM PST

                          [ Parent ]

                          •  I agree completely! (5+ / 0-)

                            actually on everything, still have my parents' bedroom set from 1940 and it is in beautiful shape; we are destroying everything to keep a system whose sole purpose is making profits in control because we are afraid to move beyond the imaginable. So, even when we know that the system is destroying everything that is important, we are afraid to think of other things as we have been conditioned to think w/in very small boxes. Breaking people's belief and fear is one of the hardest things we on the left have to contend with.

                            "Hegel noticed somewhere that all great world history facts and people so to speak twice occur. He forgot to add: the one time as tragedy, the other time as farce" Karl Marx, The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte .

                            by NY brit expat on Sun Jan 13, 2013 at 01:06:24 PM PST

                            [ Parent ]

                      •  right now I need a projection tv (0+ / 0-)

                        and I think it would be appropriate if someone else gave it to me.   I've been telling my girl friend how great it would be if I set one up to watch movies.  Who can argue with that?  

                        Someone better buy it for me... like, right now.

                        To you, I'm an atheist. To God, I'm the loyal opposition.” ― Woody Allen

                        by soros on Sun Jan 13, 2013 at 09:37:59 PM PST

                        [ Parent ]

                  •  why do we have to "value" things? (3+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    NY brit expat, BlueDragon, JayRaye
                  •  I would pay for libraries. (4+ / 0-)

                    I would not pay for wars. Obviously the value of wars is more important to my government and yours, but that is the problem with mixing "what makes a profit" with "what benefits society as a whole". Capitalism in a complex Western country with a hierarchical government is just as bastardised as Marx was in Stalinist Russia.

                    "We are monkeys with money and guns". Tom Waits

                    by northsylvania on Sun Jan 13, 2013 at 02:22:14 PM PST

                    [ Parent ]

            •  who is a producer is not simple (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              JayRaye

              The guy who inherited a factory may take credit for producing what the people working for him produced even though he expended no effort.

              Frankly its the money people who take all increases in productivity as of late.

              fact does not require fiction for balance (proudly a DFH)

              by mollyd on Sun Jan 13, 2013 at 01:52:28 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

        •  Its within the logic of any economy ... (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          isabelle hayes

          ... granting everyone a right to a level of basic goods and services imposes upon society the obligation to provide at least that level of basic goods and services, and that means that SOMEBODY has got to do it.

          One thing that is inimical to capitalism is priority of needs. Under any capitalist (money controlling access to durable productive resources to produce goods to earn more money) system, the relative urgency of homelessness and yachtlessness is determined by how lucrative it is to meet each need.

          Under any sane priority of needs, homelessness is a more urgent problem than yachtlessness.

          Indeed, that is a fundamental flaw in unfettered capitalism as an economic system ~ more fundamental than fairness or justice. A money-goods-money circuit has no intrinsic incentive to pursue what is required to maintain the survival of the system within which it finds itself. And even a fair and just system that cannot see to its own viability is only fair and just to the point that it collapses through failure to take care for its own viability.

          In addition of course to institutions support for more effective individual action, the needs of system viability imply constraint on individual action. It is in the required constraint that the real and perceived fairness and justice of the system is important, since maintaining that constraint over the long term requires maintaining the legitimacy of the system, and if a system perceived as fair and just, those are ground for increased legitimacy.

          Support Lesbian Creative Works with Yuri anime and manga from ALC Publishing

          by BruceMcF on Mon Jan 14, 2013 at 10:18:08 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

      •  there are rights that imply no obligation (7+ / 0-)

        from the person, those are called human rights and that is what we are discussing. Those are rights that exist because you are a human being.  I have always taken Marx's maxim seriously "From each, according to their abilities; To each, according to their needs." We cannot ask more from people than they are able to give and they are entitled as human beings to food, water, shelter, etc. If the system creates permanent employment, these people are still entitled to these things. If they are not receiving them, the system is unfair in my book. As a society, we are more than the sum of our parts, as human beings we are more than inputs into a production process and consumers of goods and services which is how the capitalist system treats us. One of the reasons that Marx argued that socialism should take place in an advanced capitalist economy was that we have ample abilities to produce things and high levels of ability mean that we can be more than inputs, we do not need to have everyone working 40+ hours a week to produce needs and wants; people can study, they can learn, they can create art and handicrafts, they can fish, they can do any number of things if their income was not dependent upon showing up for work. With the creation of the social welfare state, we are not letting people starve to death anymore or putting them in workhouses, but those people are living in poverty. With the erosion of the social welfare state, people that are redundant to the capitalist system are living on pennies while there are billionaires ... why should some starve or live so poorly while there are others sitting upon massive amounts of unearned wealth? That is the moral question that links to a system that is inherently unfair and we need to discuss can it ever be fair as it is based upon wealth inequality or should we produce a fairer system.

        Now, let's discuss positive rights versus negative rights which is how the SCOTUS has interpreted rights and you will see that even the right to vote, reproductive rights, the right of freedom of speech mean that the state needs to provide access to these rights if rights are to be more than on paper and have meaning; if you have the right to vote then that must be facilitated rather than inhibited that costs money. It is far more complicated than you think especially when the notion of civil (constitutional) rights being used refuses to address inherent inequalities

        "Hegel noticed somewhere that all great world history facts and people so to speak twice occur. He forgot to add: the one time as tragedy, the other time as farce" Karl Marx, The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte .

        by NY brit expat on Sun Jan 13, 2013 at 11:40:55 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  i agree we all have these rights (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          NY brit expat, allie123, JayRaye

          to breathe, to eat, to have shelter and medicine, but honestly think that framing this in terms of rights gets us caught in a moral argument that i don't want to have.

          i want to have a survival of the species argument.

          Donate to Occupy Wall Street here: http://nycga.cc/donate/

          by BlueDragon on Sun Jan 13, 2013 at 11:44:14 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  I think that will be a good discussion (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            BlueDragon, JayRaye, northsylvania

            we can have it tonight or you can write a piece from that perspective. I am fine either way ... I think it is up to people here and what they want to discuss! :)

            "Hegel noticed somewhere that all great world history facts and people so to speak twice occur. He forgot to add: the one time as tragedy, the other time as farce" Karl Marx, The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte .

            by NY brit expat on Sun Jan 13, 2013 at 11:47:39 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

          •  because that is what truly faces us (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            NY brit expat, JayRaye, northsylvania

            a survival emergency, not that the survival of the poorest is not an emergency.  it is just that when we frame this question in terms of how all of us can survive, it has more power in my opinion.  and it is capitalism which has put us in the position of threatening the survival of all of humanity and most of the life on the planet.  

            for me this is the most potent discussion to have right now.

            only when we have passed this emergency do we have the luxury of discussing the rights of everyone.

            this makes the argument a practical one.  how best to structure human civilization so that we all do well so that we maximize survival for all?

            i used to think that 7 billion people was an impossible crisis, but i do see one upside to it: there are seven billion minds which can create potential solutions.  however if we waste the vast majority of those minds, we are doing ourselves no good.

            so we have to rely on the best trained minds in the most physically secure environments to come up with solutions.

            Donate to Occupy Wall Street here: http://nycga.cc/donate/

            by BlueDragon on Sun Jan 13, 2013 at 11:50:18 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  I agree, I was just responding to what (3+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              BlueDragon, JayRaye, UnaSpenser

              I thought was an inadequate framing of the idea of rights ... the discussion can be addressed that way, but as you said it traps us in a discussion of rights rather than fairness and justice which we were addressing in the link which I think is a different discussion than one of rights ... that is why we didn't address the argument in that construction when we were talking.

              I agree that the idea of maximising survival for all and not just a small few who are either lucky to be born in a wealthy country is an excellent way of looking at it. I have always found the idea that a piece of land is claimed as being owned by someone ridiculous and someone's claim to property is considered paramount as opposed to someone's survival demonstrates the lack of fairness inherent to a system which is based upon private ownership.

              "Hegel noticed somewhere that all great world history facts and people so to speak twice occur. He forgot to add: the one time as tragedy, the other time as farce" Karl Marx, The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte .

              by NY brit expat on Sun Jan 13, 2013 at 12:01:08 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  i don't think it is an inadequate framing at all (3+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                NY brit expat, JayRaye, UnaSpenser

                i just think that practically, under the system that we have all been trained in -- the capitalist system -- it is hard to discuss rights in this way.  it is not the framing.  it is the indoctrination that the majority have swallowed which is in the way.

                to put it another way: it is impractical in the long run to be unfair.

                if everyone perceives his/her rights as equal, all will contribute without resentment.

                this is the framing that the right wing uses with a great deal of success.  they have convinces about 50% of Americans that helping others is unfair to those who get less help while the help they do get is invisible to them.

                Donate to Occupy Wall Street here: http://nycga.cc/donate/

                by BlueDragon on Sun Jan 13, 2013 at 12:15:36 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  It is a problematic framing because (2+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  BlueDragon, JayRaye

                  rights are a liberal construct; they are useful for some things but the discussion goes way beyond a discussion of rights. We can limit the discussion to it, but it would be an inadequate discussion for the left. It would be fine for liberals, but we need to go beyond it.

                  "Hegel noticed somewhere that all great world history facts and people so to speak twice occur. He forgot to add: the one time as tragedy, the other time as farce" Karl Marx, The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte .

                  by NY brit expat on Sun Jan 13, 2013 at 12:40:54 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  we need to think of rights (3+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    NY brit expat, JayRaye, jarbyus

                    as the right of succeeding generations to have a decent life as in the native american idea of planning for seven generations.

                    then rights becomes a larger moral discussion which takes into account the rights of the entire ecosystem, not just the individual.  

                    my rights end where they impact the ecosystem's right to not so much be in balance, but continue in some viable way.

                    Donate to Occupy Wall Street here: http://nycga.cc/donate/

                    by BlueDragon on Sun Jan 13, 2013 at 12:49:24 PM PST

                    [ Parent ]

      •  Most people have people in their lives (4+ / 0-)

        to whom they make commitments that involve helping them no matter what. The question is how far they are willing to extend that. It has nothing to do with productivity.

      •  You still think like a capitalist... (0+ / 0-)

        You say that people will be forced to work to provide for others. That is what we have now...people are forced to work to make profits for capitalists. Not forced to work? You don't get unemployment if you don't work. Capitalists work too? I doubt if even you believe that.

        Nobody will be forced to work. If you don't work you don't eat. The difference with capitalism is that everybody who can work will work. There won't be any Mitt Romneys or George Bushs, or Walton family, etc.

        All work will be for the benefit of society, not for the benefit of a few who claim to have special talents for making profit, i.e., stealing other people's work.

  •  Hey Una - been waiting for this dialogue.Will read (7+ / 0-)

    & get back with comments.

  •  Piece cross-posted at (8+ / 0-)

    "Hegel noticed somewhere that all great world history facts and people so to speak twice occur. He forgot to add: the one time as tragedy, the other time as farce" Karl Marx, The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte .

    by NY brit expat on Sun Jan 13, 2013 at 11:16:51 AM PST

  •  No. And it's not even (6+ / 0-)

    beneficial.

    I could settle for a Mixed Economy with exceptionally robust regulation, so long as there were mechanisms to suck the oxygen out of every effort to buy public opinion with propaganda. And we'd still have to establish fair, secure, reliable, verifiable elections...

    The Class, Terror and Climate Wars are indivisible and the short-term outcome will affect the planet for centuries. -WiA "When you triangulate everything, you can't even roll downhill..." - PhilJD

    by Words In Action on Sun Jan 13, 2013 at 11:19:34 AM PST

  •  i prefer to think of these relationships (6+ / 0-)

    as structurally inclined towards survival of the community.  i don't think fairness gets us very far in our current environment.  we have been trained to think of fairness as an abstraction which is regularly violated and that is okay.

    i prefer to think of this as the opposite of 'survival of the fittest' which is what capitalism is based upon.

    we need to think of the issue as 'survival of the community.'  what benefits the individual benefits the community in the long run.

    in the long run, we are stronger when everyone is maximally strong.

    and i do think we are trained to be sociopaths under capitalism.

    Donate to Occupy Wall Street here: http://nycga.cc/donate/

    by BlueDragon on Sun Jan 13, 2013 at 11:26:32 AM PST

  •  ACM schedule (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    JayRaye, BlueDragon

    next Sunday: NY Brit Expat on triple-dip recessions and economic crises and deliberate creation of economic decline

    URGENT:

    We have NO volunteers beyond next Sunday, we need people to do the last weekend in January and then thereafter. Can you write a piece? We cannot continue unless people are willing to write something.

    If you can write for the last weekend in January and thereafter, please respond to this post or send a private message to NY brit expat on dkos or send an email to our group email account: dkanticapitalistgroup@gmail.com

    "Hegel noticed somewhere that all great world history facts and people so to speak twice occur. He forgot to add: the one time as tragedy, the other time as farce" Karl Marx, The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte .

    by NY brit expat on Sun Jan 13, 2013 at 11:45:58 AM PST

    •  i'm still struggling with a lot of illness (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      NY brit expat, JayRaye, UnaSpenser

      i want to contribute, but have sooooo little time left after survival necessities.  bringing the posting time up really helps me to at least get here to discuss.

      Donate to Occupy Wall Street here: http://nycga.cc/donate/

      by BlueDragon on Sun Jan 13, 2013 at 12:18:08 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  at this point, I am seriously close to begging (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      JayRaye, BlueDragon

      please, please, we need volunteers ... w/o volunteers to write there is no series and no group, please, can you volunteer to write something? It is not hard, it does not have to be perfect, please!

      "Hegel noticed somewhere that all great world history facts and people so to speak twice occur. He forgot to add: the one time as tragedy, the other time as farce" Karl Marx, The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte .

      by NY brit expat on Sun Jan 13, 2013 at 12:21:32 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  expat, (3+ / 0-)

        I have a diary in mind.

        Problem is, looks like I will be working weekends again, starting next weekend!

        WE NEVER FORGET Our Labor Martyrs: a project to honor the men, women and children who lost their lives in Freedom's Cause. For Dec: Life so cheap; property so sacred.

        by JayRaye on Sun Jan 13, 2013 at 12:38:24 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  if you have something in mind (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          BlueDragon, JayRaye, northsylvania

          you can still write, we can monitor discussion and you can check in when you are able; discussions often go past the date anyhow. I am certain that I am not the only one that checks yesterday's discussion to see what people are saying. Think about it, perhaps we can work something out, I love your posts!

          "Hegel noticed somewhere that all great world history facts and people so to speak twice occur. He forgot to add: the one time as tragedy, the other time as farce" Karl Marx, The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte .

          by NY brit expat on Sun Jan 13, 2013 at 12:45:30 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

      •  i have one suggestions beyond (4+ / 0-)

        what i wand to write.

        my formal marxism training is minimal.

        could  we do a series which uses something like

        Reading Marx by David Harvey

        which takes us through Capital with help?

        I would be really motivated to watch all these videos if I knew I could come here and discuss them.

        What do you think?  It wouldn't require writing a diary so much as posting the video for the week and asking a couple of questions to discuss the chapter.  We could fit this into open spots during weeks we had no regular volunteers and gradually work through the whole  thing?   There are thirteen chapters.

        I think we have members who are really knowledgeable who could help the rest of us, but they might be bored by something so basic.

        Donate to Occupy Wall Street here: http://nycga.cc/donate/

        by BlueDragon on Sun Jan 13, 2013 at 01:08:10 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  We would have to get permission (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          BlueDragon, JayRaye

          from David Harvey to do this or Richard Wolfe who has similar videos; I am certain that they are copyrighted and we cannot post them w/o permission.

          There are enough people here with an excellent knowledge of Capital to do pieces, we had discussed doing this, beginning with topics in Capital and have already had a piece by Justina; Geminijen, me, Justina and others have taught and wrote on it. We can do it, we just need to organise it ... pieces can be written and planned, but we also need to discuss what is happening in the real world. I am always afraid of turning too much inwards and not dealing with the real world, so we can intersperse the pieces with other pieces so that we do not lose track of what is happening beyond theory. What do people think?

          "Hegel noticed somewhere that all great world history facts and people so to speak twice occur. He forgot to add: the one time as tragedy, the other time as farce" Karl Marx, The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte .

          by NY brit expat on Sun Jan 13, 2013 at 01:36:42 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  interspersing sounds fine to me (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            JayRaye

            and can help fill in gaps.

            we can post links without permission, right?

            but I am looking for a way to have a fallback that requires nothing extra from anyone beyond posing a question or two and commenting.

            I don't  think we should get too technical or removed either.

            Donate to Occupy Wall Street here: http://nycga.cc/donate/

            by BlueDragon on Sun Jan 13, 2013 at 01:45:09 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  this is their intellectual property (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              JayRaye

              we could publish the videos, but we would need to write around them explaining what is there so that it would not be a copyright violation.

              "Hegel noticed somewhere that all great world history facts and people so to speak twice occur. He forgot to add: the one time as tragedy, the other time as farce" Karl Marx, The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte .

              by NY brit expat on Sun Jan 13, 2013 at 02:03:33 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

          •  they're available on Youtube /nt (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            JayRaye

            Warning - some snark above‽ (-9.50; -7.03)‽ “If someone has a tool and is trying to negate your existence it would be reasonable to reciprocate in kind with your own tool.” - Dalai Lama XIV (sic)

            by annieli on Sun Jan 13, 2013 at 10:37:51 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

      •  well, let us know how to go about it. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        JayRaye

        i would love to write about Marx.

    •  too soon for me, I have some other writing to do (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      NY brit expat, BlueDragon, JayRaye

      but perhaps in February /March

      Warning - some snark above‽ (-9.50; -7.03)‽ “If someone has a tool and is trying to negate your existence it would be reasonable to reciprocate in kind with your own tool.” - Dalai Lama XIV (sic)

      by annieli on Sun Jan 13, 2013 at 12:43:06 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  that would be great, if you can give (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        BlueDragon, JayRaye

        a date that would be amazing!

        "Hegel noticed somewhere that all great world history facts and people so to speak twice occur. He forgot to add: the one time as tragedy, the other time as farce" Karl Marx, The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte .

        by NY brit expat on Sun Jan 13, 2013 at 12:43:59 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  OK Una - read the diary and found it interesting. (5+ / 0-)

    I have two questions at this point:  1)what is your solution in real life to the problem of the person or outside thief who takes more than their share.  How do you in your system deal, specirfically with such a person? one person has already been deprived of their share or everyone has been deprived of a partial share. What does the group say to the person who take stoo much.  How does that person make restitution? Why did that person take extra?  It is an excellent dilemma to start the discussion and has also led to the downfall of the socialist ideal as being unrealistic becausewe lieve in societies of limited resources.  Marx, incidentally, saw that this would not be a problem in advanced societies where technology would make sure there was enough for all.  But I really want your answer to this problem.

    2)Ipersonally like Marx because he lives in the world of the material and not the world of "shoulds".  Instead of using words like good and evil or abstract goals, he analyses human interactions in the realm of what is really in people's self interest.  He believed that the great majority of us would prefer a collective society in which we all survived and possibly flourished to a society where an individual had no limits on their right to accumulate, even when it was at the expense of others.  This gets you into the queston of individual vs. collective rights.  Anyway, I think if you can give me a clear realistic way of solving the first problem, it would go a long way into solving the second problem.

    •  in communal societies (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      NY brit expat, JayRaye

      those people were exiled or killed.  we need to think of similar 'solutions.'

      i think in a healthy society, people would understand that this sort of stealing is life threatening to the group ultimately and to themselves in the short term.

      the deterrent would be knowing that you are living in an equation and that this equation inevitably leads to certain results.

      Donate to Occupy Wall Street here: http://nycga.cc/donate/

      by BlueDragon on Sun Jan 13, 2013 at 12:01:35 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  This is an excellent idea! (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        NY brit expat

        Would be a good review for me. Maybe every other week and we would get thru it in 6 mo's.

        Probably good to start or end with the Manifesto.

        WE NEVER FORGET Our Labor Martyrs: a project to honor the men, women and children who lost their lives in Freedom's Cause. For Dec: Life so cheap; property so sacred.

        by JayRaye on Sun Jan 13, 2013 at 01:32:35 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  1. what if someone stole a meal? (4+ / 0-)

      You have to establish reconciliation practices. You can do this at a community level. I can't really detail out a specific system, because it would always have to be in context and something which the community crafts and consents to.

      In general, the person who stole the meal must be confronted, but with the intention of understanding, rather than punishing. The suffering from the lost or partial meals has already occurred, so you can't change that. You can, however, see if there is a way to ameliorate the suffering by providing the meal now. Figuring that out should involve everyone, including the perpetrator.

      My first tai chi instructor would always say, "when you find you're in the wrong position for the next move, look back two steps to figure out where you went wrong. You didn't make the mistake just now, you set up this problem back there."

      This is true in life. If someone steals a meal, that act is the result of something else. It didn't just spontaneously happen for no reason whatsoever. So, justice would demand that everybody understand how this person came to be in a state of mind that he would steal a meal. And to address whatever issues are illuminated via that process of understanding. I don't think it matters whether the person is from within the group or comes from the outside. If someone is committing a harmful act, they have likely been suffering themselves beforehand. Compassion and fairness and justice would require that this person's needs be addressed and that we try to offer healing.

      Going further with this would be challenging, because there could be innumerable reasons for someone taking the action to steal the meal. Each might result in a different course of action for reconciliation. What if the person was starving due to an illness no had yet recognized she had? What if the person had been subjected to coercion by someone else who was threatening her if she didn't steal the meal? What if the person suffered from a mental illness? Or had PTSD? What if it was a vindictive act because the person she stole the meal from had done something she found offensive?

      One of the fundamental issues I have with our society is that we base our legal "remedies" for offenses on a penal system, rather than a reconciliation system. We have these set punishments for a given crime and it never takes into consideration that there is social responsibility for how people are driven to "bad" acts. It's all part of the hyper-individualism. No matter what society throw at you, you're solely responsible for how you respond. Even though there is so much love for the story of Les Miserables, we don't actually heed the message of the story. We are a nation of Javerts treating everyone like Jean Valjean every single day.

      •  this is right on (4+ / 0-)

        but in a depersonalized society, we have no good methods for reconciliation.  they can be invented.  south africa came up with some good models.

        we can invent more.  

        the transitional period will be the hardest of course.

        after we set up a rational economic system, we won't have nearly the same level of sociopathic incidents.

        but even dolphin pods have sociopaths who they have to exile.

        Donate to Occupy Wall Street here: http://nycga.cc/donate/

        by BlueDragon on Sun Jan 13, 2013 at 01:20:47 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  yes, we have to be willing to struggle through (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          BlueDragon, JayRaye, NY brit expat

          a transition.

          Australia has been doing a lot of work introducing reconciliation into their justice system.

          We can always try things and phase things in. What if the victim of a crime had the option to choose a reconciliation process rather than a penal process? That would be a start. (and far less costly than keeping people in prison.)

  •  These diaries are really awesome! (7+ / 0-)

    thanks. I'm still reading it but wanted to say hi and thanks. I like the way you explain it so that anyone can understand.

  •  can't stay but I'd like to (4+ / 0-)

    recommend that  one look at John Roemer's work on the distribution of justice and the existence of (post-capitalistic) socialist exploitation. Also it would seem in the context of dialectical/historical materialism, that the path through modes of production provides some direction, although I noticed a recent feeding frenzy resulting in a banning of someone identifying themselves as a CPUSA-type Marxist-Leninist, although there must be a subtext somewhere for that

    Warning - some snark above‽ (-9.50; -7.03)‽ “If someone has a tool and is trying to negate your existence it would be reasonable to reciprocate in kind with your own tool.” - Dalai Lama XIV (sic)

    by annieli on Sun Jan 13, 2013 at 12:01:15 PM PST

    •  That person was not even close to (4+ / 0-)

      CPUSA.

      He was a pretender, probably a troll.

      He said that the goal of "commies" (seriously, he used that word to describe his group) was to kick all of the rich people out of the country.

      Said he was from the CP of OK. His Web site is pretty crazy also.

      (Note: the CPUSA supported the election of Pres Obama, that person thot Obama was one of the rich that should be kicked out of the country.)

      WE NEVER FORGET Our Labor Martyrs: a project to honor the men, women and children who lost their lives in Freedom's Cause. For Dec: Life so cheap; property so sacred.

      by JayRaye on Sun Jan 13, 2013 at 12:21:53 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Hmmm, (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    BlueDragon, northsylvania

    How do capitalists thrive? By exploiting the workers! By hanging on to outdated imperialist dogma which perpetuates the social and economic differences in our society!

    The solution?  Establish anarcho-syndicalist communes,  were the members take it in turns to act as a sort of executive officer for the week. But all the decision of that officer must be approved at a bi-weekly meeting by a simple majority in the case of purely internal affairs but a two-thirds majority ...

    Okay, homages to Monty Python aside (I do love The Holy Grail), the simple fact is capitalism is the most successful economic system yet devised. The question isn't really one of whether we should have capitalism, the debate is one of agreeing on the role of government in a capitalist society. Even the foremost modern capitalist thinkers, like Friedrich Hayek, thought pure laissez-faire was a bad idea and believed the statet had a role in ensuring worker safety,  guaranteeing educational opportunities for all and providing basic access to health care, etc.

    There are different flavors of capitalism practiced around the world. For example, the governments in some latin american countries with large Catholic populations have structured their capitalism to favor single breadwinners (generally males) and established labor laws that make it hard to fire them (often resulting in large youth unemployement). Other European countries, especially those with relatively homogeneous ethnic makeup, have very generous social programs and much higher taxes to pay for those services that suits their cultural norms for what constitutes "justice" and "fairness" (e.g. Denmark). Here in the US, with our wide mix of cultural values, it is much more challenging to come up with a paradigm that everybody can agree on.

  •  Basic necessities should be considered a basic (3+ / 0-)

    human right. And yes, we do have certain obligations to one another, just as members of a tribe do.

    Hopefully we will get to point when we look on each other as all members of the human tribe.

    We now have a minimum wage that cannot even support basic necessities of life: food, shelter, clothing, healthcare, education. One or more of those necessities the worker will have to do without while The Corporation accumulates more and more wealth.

    And not just more, but a greater share of the wealth, leading to greater control over every facet of life and culture, and public discourse, etc.

    Clearly, something is wrong. The question is: how great can the ruling class share grow before something has to give?

    Perhaps when the top 1% owns 99% of the wealth?

    WE NEVER FORGET Our Labor Martyrs: a project to honor the men, women and children who lost their lives in Freedom's Cause. For Dec: Life so cheap; property so sacred.

    by JayRaye on Sun Jan 13, 2013 at 12:33:46 PM PST

    •  And suppose we really step outside the box (3+ / 0-)

      and throw out half of Marx's statement. Suppose we as a society decide that we are obligated to give everyone around us the basics of life, just for the pleasure of their company on this earth.

      Without demanding anything back at all! Yes! we will demand nothing in return.

      People are free to work for more, if they want to but are not obligated to.

      We give them The Right To Be Lazy (http://www.marxists.org/...)!

      For anyone to want to work for more income, jobs would have to be interesting, and, yes, fun.

      Obviously this plan would not work in a society like ours where the "job creators" want the most work for the least pay making the biggest pile of crap to sell at the highest price possible.

      WE NEVER FORGET Our Labor Martyrs: a project to honor the men, women and children who lost their lives in Freedom's Cause. For Dec: Life so cheap; property so sacred.

      by JayRaye on Sun Jan 13, 2013 at 01:24:48 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  when i finally post (6+ / 0-)

        what i want to write about Eisenstein's "Sacred Economics," you will see that this is essentially what he proposes because we live in a state of grace he calls the gift society.

        we all accept the gift of life from the planet without realizing it.

        free air, free sunshine, free water and free food from the earth to us for thousands and thousands of years.  we have commodified damn near everything and now believe there is scarcity.  

        we are on the verge of creating the first real scarcity of water on this planet through the global climate crisis.

        capitalism destroyed this equation and in the process is destroying the planet.

        Donate to Occupy Wall Street here: http://nycga.cc/donate/

        by BlueDragon on Sun Jan 13, 2013 at 01:34:54 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  I very much look forward to this. (4+ / 0-)

          Never heard of Eisentein before, sounds intriguing.

          Capitalism teaches us to not trust each other. That "lazy welfare queen over there" might be getting to much for too little effort!

          And meanwhile, as our attention is on the "welfare queen", the Capitalist robs us all blind, and destroys our earth in the process.

          But Marx, while being correct about everyone getting what they need, sets us up to oppress each other by demanding work in return for necessities.

          Suppose we simply give incentives for work, instead of demanding work? A few might be content to live very simply and don't care to work for more. Perhaps they make a contribution without work. Perhaps they play music on a street corner, or fly kites in the park. Suppose I'm on my work and I see them, life for me is a little bit more interesting. Sure nicer then what I see now. Hungry people in the park begging for food.

          WE NEVER FORGET Our Labor Martyrs: a project to honor the men, women and children who lost their lives in Freedom's Cause. For Dec: Life so cheap; property so sacred.

          by JayRaye on Sun Jan 13, 2013 at 01:52:25 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

      •  that "job creators" argument was (3+ / 0-)

        recently employed by Cameron. How do these people actually think that wealth can be created without human labour to produce it or w/o human beings consuming the goods they produce. This is a real inversion of reality. That is a piece I will be writing soon, that meme really pisses me off!

        "Hegel noticed somewhere that all great world history facts and people so to speak twice occur. He forgot to add: the one time as tragedy, the other time as farce" Karl Marx, The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte .

        by NY brit expat on Sun Jan 13, 2013 at 01:39:12 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  this is where I would like to see us shift (5+ / 0-)

        our entire worldview of how societies "should" be structured is based on this fear-based, pre-resentment of all THOSE people out there who will cheat us out of whatever it is we think we've so hard to earn.

        Because there are so many historical examples of societies which have collapsed because of rampant laziness.

        People are naturally drawn to participate in life. If we leave them be and let them follow their own callings, we will have beautiful relations and live in peace. When we start off treating each person, each baby that comes into the world with this presumption that if we don't force them to follow a certain path, they will just end up being moochers we are really demonstrating self-hate. That we have no faith in human nature. That we don't trust ourselves, much less anyone else.

        Any being which is born deserves a right to thrive regardless of what that  being does for anyone else.

        What if, that person who sits around just thinking for 40 years, suddenly stands up and announces that she has figured out how to have a perpetual, zero-waste, zero-harm energy system? And, what if, that person could never have gifted us with that had she been forced to go to school, get a job, raise children, be "productive"?

        You can't presume that what you see as laziness is necessarily bad or deems that person unworthy of thriving.

        You can't presume to know the meaning of life or why each of us is here.

        What if that "lazy" person is actually a conduit to some metaphysical being which is sending healing energy into the earth? But, if that "lazy" person dies or gets too sick, that metaphysical being can't send that healing energy?

        Do I think that's a real possibility? No. But, I also don't know everything. I don't possess the answer to life, the universe and everything. Ok. 42. Still, I don't even know what the answer means! So, who am I to sit in judgement of others? My imagination probably can't even conjure up all the possibilities of what this whole life on Earth business is about.

        Why do we base the way we start thinking about structuring our societies on a presumption of negative judgement? Why do we assume that "bad" acts occur just because a person is "bad" rather than that the person is a product of everything all of us are building together?

        I really want to smash this whole idea that everyone has to "contribute" or "be productive."

        •  This is a beautiful statement. (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          NY brit expat, UnaSpenser

          I can't even reply, it just makes me want to think for awhile.

          WE NEVER FORGET Our Labor Martyrs: a project to honor the men, women and children who lost their lives in Freedom's Cause. For Dec: Life so cheap; property so sacred.

          by JayRaye on Sun Jan 13, 2013 at 01:59:17 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  Contribution does not mean (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          JayRaye

          working in factories, it means contributing to the well-being of the community in whatever way you can or want to, there is no prescribed definition of contribution. We do what we can and how we want to do it. Teaching, reading, learning, creating art and music, cataloging reality is a contribution, we as human beings are more than inputs, we can go beyond the limits imposed by a system that requires those w/o property to work like dogs for those that have wealth. I have no problem with the idea of contribution as I know that we do it every day on a very basic level, we need to move away from what the capitalist system deems as contribution to the idea of contributing to each other and humanity ... I think you are trapped in what the system deems as a contribution which is why it is rubbing you the wrong way.

          I may be wrong, but that is what I am seeing.

          "Hegel noticed somewhere that all great world history facts and people so to speak twice occur. He forgot to add: the one time as tragedy, the other time as farce" Karl Marx, The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte .

          by NY brit expat on Sun Jan 13, 2013 at 02:01:34 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  no matter how you define it, it is a (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            JayRaye, jarbyus

            contingency. that is, we have something which we use to determine if a person is worthy of thriving.

            To my mind, everyone is worthy of thriving regardless of anything.

            If that person is causing harm, they are not thriving and we all need to help address that.

            But, this notion that they must be contributing, however you define it, still makes their right to thrive contingent.

  •  Another tack (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    JayRaye, northsylvania

    I thoroughly agree that our present system of capitalism is doing tremendous harm to a concept of democracy that has been designed and promulgated by - capitalism.  

    In all our past wars against "communism," we have been told that we are defending democracy whereas in reality we were defending a system that is fundamentally the opposite of capitalism. In doing so, we overthrew elected governments, spent billions supporting dictators and systematically violated our own Constitution.

    In defending capitalism under deliberate false pretenses, we also laid the groundwork for the doctrines we now know as "too big to fail" and "too big to prosecute," which are other names for contempt for law and perversion of justice.

    Capitalism has done a lot for us materially, but as far as ethics and morals are concerned, it has been the most dismal of failures.

    Don't believe eveything you think.

    by boguseconomist on Sun Jan 13, 2013 at 02:12:17 PM PST

  •  The best systems (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    annieli, isabelle hayes, JayRaye

    Are ones that mix the availability of goods through the free market with an obligation to serve basic human needs.  

    I always laugh at how the expansion of a safety net would decentivize the need to work.  If that were the case no one in Scandanavia would have a job.  The WPA programs would have been met with a collective shrug and there would be no labor movement as people would simply stay at home and collect a check.  

    At the very minimum the United States should subsidize four years of education and have some sort of universal healthcare system.  

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