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  1. #1
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    Default capital by karl marx.

    i said i would start a thread on this when i started reading it. partly as a way to shame me into finishing it and partly cos grizzly b said he would help me with it if i found it heavy going. have you read it? did you like it?

  2. #2
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    Have read it.

    Vastly prefer this: http://www.marxists.org/archive/marx...working-class/

  3. #3
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    interesting, will print off some of that now.

    Luka, have you seen the David Harvey online video lectures to accompany Das Kapital? Could be an effective way to read it, watching those as well.

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    i have the book of those lectures to help me baboons yeah.

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    there's been a good discussion going on my facebook wall (as Luka is already aware) which addresses some of the most common fallacies and misunderstandings -- in particular the last lengthy post by SOS, clearly articulates some crucial points in understanding Marx and Smith, and the limitations and falsehoods in our inherited state/market and other dichotomies.

    thought i would post up some of the best bits:

    Sos Nihon
    Much of what goes under the name of Marxism -- "orthodox Marxism" or Marxist-Leninism -- are forms of state-capitalism. Some would argue (myself included) that the most interesting currents of Marxism emerged in contradistinction to this often authoritarian tradition. Harvey is useful too but the best schematic introduction I've found is Harry Cleaver's Reading Capital Politically, which has exerted a justifiable influence among autonomists all over the world:

    http://libcom.org/library/reading-ca...ically-cleaver
    Matthias Georgi
    There is one thing, that I never see addressed: How do you deal with resource management in a non-capitalistic world?
    This is the one thing, that capitalism solves pretty well and communism fails in. It is extremely complex to run a system that optimizes supply and demand.
    Assuming there would be a possibility to run a planned economy by a super sophisticated realtime algorithm, there would be still the problem of motivation.
    Sos Nihon
    Matthias, if you have followed this thread so far, what you call "planned economy" (and wrongly "communism" -- remember that even Stalinists didn't claim their social system was "communist" but a "socialist" state in transition to "communis...m", which never arrived) is, more accurately, a feature of capitalism. Historically, all forms of capitalism have required some kind of state intervention/planning (whether enclosure and destruction of indigenous land/resources, establishment of Foucauldian panopticon at the both carceral and societal levels, or, more specifically in the U.S. case, as a system of military Keyensianism) as well as market mechanisms.

    As for the question of resource-management, most of non-capitalist human history until the advent of capitalism in the sixteen and seventeenth century appeared to be doing just fine, critical as some of us may be about this or that aspect of various systems that existed at the time, from seigneurial feudalism to nomadic hunter-and-gather society. In fact, given the exponentially algorithmic technological development of industrial and consumerist capitalism, tremendous wastes have been generated, as anybody who has given even a superficial glance at the global ecological crisis today know all too well -- and this "waste" is not at the microeconomic level of transactional imbalance in supply/demand within a miniscule economic sector but at the catastrophically colossal level of the world threatening all species, which surely ranks as the worst example of resource management in history. By the way, it might also be worth recalling here that the notion of "algorithm" does not originate within capitalism, as the word itself derives from the name of the medieval Persian scientist al-Khwarizmi.

    Motivation: just as many Soviet workers rightly hated to work under their inefficient bureaucratic state capitalist regime, most of us in liberal capitalist societies hate to go to work at places usually under the control of a corporation that is run on essentially totalitarian principle -- I don't see how this speaks well to the motivational nature of capitalism. Plus there's a strange ideological assumption here -- that motivation toward economic development/efficiency should be an unquestionable good above all others. What if you want to live your life according to a different mode of motivation, such as the spiritual discipline of a monk or the creative expression of an artist or the moral economy of a peasant? One of capitalism's major defects is that it destroys all these various forms of human motivation under the servile dictum of "work or die". A pretty impoverished, to say nothing of repressive, form of motivation if you ask me.
    Matthias Georgi
    Sos: I see what you are trying to say. But still I have the feeling, that you are not offering any solution at all (going back 500 years is not a solution in my eyes). Capitalism is brutal, no question. But so was almost any society with th...eir class systems and suppression of the poor. My point is, that capitalism needs to be fixed not destroyed. Exploitation of natural resources for instance is a mistake in the design of the system. If people had to pay for what we take from nature, the system would regulate this problem by itself.

    Motivation: capitalism by itself doesn't have any ideological assumptions. it's just a mechanism to deal with goods and services, not more. the point is, our current financial system has some huge flaws, that need to be fixed, for example how banks, debts and interests work. but the principle of a free market itself is a great way of dealing with supply and demand.
    Leo Zhao
    Matthias, i don't think SOS, or Marx or anyone is suggesting that we go "back" to anything, but only that historical evidence shows that capitalism is by far not the only, and by FAR not the best functioning system for large societies. And perhaps especially in terms of resource management capitalism performs very poortly: just one example: a staggering more than 50% of food that we produce today is wasted. The everything for profit mode has shown a complete disregard for everything else: the 5 euro winter slippers i bought which broke after a single day is a good example - a waste of materials, waste of the workers' labor, waste of the consumer's time and money, a COMPLETE waste all around, and because why? because profit is the only thing people care about.

    The only people who think capitalism works live on the half of the exploiting world, ignoring and rationalizing the complete lack of human rights and pandemic, extreme suffering of the exploited other half, who endure and perish en masse under economic, political, and not least of all physical violence every day. Child laborers in S.E. Asia whose legs have atrophied and no longer able to walk due to sitting for 18 hours a day making shoes since age 4. The conflict in the Congo over mineral resources which have so far claimed 5.4 million (conservative estimate) lives in the deadliest war since WW2 (UN) does not get even mentioned in Western media, and thus is not made aware to the vast majority of first world citizens. Consider hundreds of children hacked to pieces with machetes and thrown into the river, because they live in an area with minerals and diamonds, and talk to me about "resource management".

    The problems are entirely foundational, elemental, structural, resides in the basic ideological premises of the capitalist system itself, and can never be fixed by adjusting this or that policy. Perhaps the most pernicious trick of all is capitalism makes itself seem neutral, and makes its ideology seem "natural" and thus invisible. But oh yes there is ideology (just a couple of examples due to time constraints):

    The false exultation of competition over cooperation, so deeply ingrained as to cloud and distort the thinking of even evolutionary biologists such as Darwin, has been largely accepted by most today as "natural"; while in actual nature it is Symbiosis and Cooperation which is the driving factor behind evolution, not Competition (ask Lynn Marguilis).

    The "free market" has always been a fiction in practical terms; in reality no such thing exists. Hereditary aristocracy makes sure that those born into the 1% will always have the vast majority of opportunities, power, human rights, while the rest of the first world have very little, and the rest of the world have none. So the Big Lie of "pulling one self up by bootstraps" is just that, a Big Lie, to the vast majority, regardless of how many exceptional examples are endlessly touted.

    The idea that material possessions make us happy creates both waste and misery for all parties involved. the ideology of personal satisfaction and individual achievement at the expense of everyone else...

    Not only capitalism, but also the ideological bedrock on which capitalism is built, needs to be completely dismantled, soon because we are about to face the disastrous consequences of capitalism, yes even we who live in the first world. The only other perspective is that it is too late, that we have already entered a new dark age of wide spread economic, political, environmental catastrophes on a global scale.
    Matthias Georgi
    Leo Zhao: Sorry, I don't have time for a lengthy response. It's totally true, people are doing bad and horrible things for profit. In my eyes it is too easy to say it is the fault of capitalism. Not capitalism is bad, it is the human nature. It is greed for power. It can happen in any system. And again what system should replace capitalism?
    Regarding resource management, if a system produces a lot of waste, it still can handle supply and demand efficiently. We have a lot of waste, because we produce so much. Apart from the negatives things you said, it shows us one good thing: we could easily live without unemployment and poverty.
    Last edited by zhao; 27-02-2012 at 09:31 AM.

  6. #6
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    Eliazar de la Tierra
    Well. First of all, without having tried to read through the Kapital, I think that Marxism encompasses a political system if it is supposed to be anything but a Utopian story, as it is based on a special category of rights and whatnot. Seco...ndly, if I am informed correctly, Socialism is a necessary stage towards Communism (which was thought to emerge quite a long time after Socialism which is paving the way) and though not seen as an optimal system, I think that Marx and Engels did envision it something like it turned out in the end. Perhaps they didn't think it was quite that brutal and definitely not such a complete failure. However, the way the Socialist countries behaved was eventually inevitable given that the economic system is based on force.

    On the economic aspects of Socialism/Communism – first of all, Marx failed (like al the Classical economists) to resolve the price issue. But without prices, a proper allocation of goods is a very difficult thing to do. And just producing anything you feel like will most likely lead to a very big catastrophe very soon. I think that it is not coincidental that a black market, which determined the price of goods following demand and supply, was alway flourishing in Socialist societies, and that Lenin saved his project by a reverting to several Capitalist reforms after the awesome War Communism had such great success.

    True enough, the 19th century factories might not have been the most awesome places to work in, but on the one hand, I am not so sure if it was so much better before, and then you have to take into consideration that it was a revolution in society coupled with an incredible explosion, so it is eventually a wonder that everyone even got fed after the population was more or less unstable for hundreds of years due to a lack of food. And now, in the developed world, living standard has quite improved.

    As for the thought that Socialism just sucked because the Soviet Union was a feudalistic country before – Japan, for example, was an isolated, feudalistic country for just about as long and they managed to become one of the world's greatest economies under Capitalism. Also, Western and Eastern Germany started out roughly the same, yet the West thrived under Capitalism while the East had to build a wall to stop the people from fleeing.

    And then the necessity of the State. The State is essentially Anti-Capitalist and in no way needed in a Capitalist society. It is, furthermore, the intruder that causes most of the problems we see today, especially the disrespect of property rights (like lately in the Amazonas region, were for „the greater good“ or whatever they decided just to flood Indian communities), warmongering, colonialism, genetic technology, atomic energy, and so on. While some might pretend they are Capitalists, it's quite ridiculous to say for, say, a banker who works with money which is a 100% government controlled commodity nowadays. Free markets can exist, but naturally not if the state takes part in the economy with 50 to 75 %, as it does now in most societies of the First World. Socialism, on the other hand, depends on the totalitarian state, as the system is not based on voluntary cooperation and the natural rights of every human being, but arbitrary allocation of everything.
    Bobby Bisto
    do you really think the free market is an infalliable way to distribute commodities? do you even beleive the government controls money
    what are the downsides of a 'free market' for healthcare services to give an obvious example? why where there massive food riots in 2008?
    was it to do with state intervention?
    Matthias Georgi
    Coincidentally had another fb discussion about capitalism/communism and learned, that we can have both open markets and communism: http://umarvadillo.wordpress.com/201...lamic-trading/
    Eliazar de la Tierra
    Bobby: There is a state monopoly on money (you have to accept legal tender as money and are not allowed to use other stuff) with central banks determining both the amount of money they offer, the amount banks need to keep as reserve when creating credit from nothing and the interest rates for which money sells - seems a lot like the state controls the money.

    Matthias: A real free market is in no way a hindrance to the emergence to alternative or parallel systems, so yeah, you can have pretty much anything you like with them (as long as it is based on voluntary cooperation). That's also the mayor difference with state controlled systems (like the economic system we have today or the failed socialist experiments), which cannot allow any alternative to the status quo.
    Bobby Bisto
    central banks are not synomous with the state.
    not all of them are independent but many are. that doesnt mean the state has no input but it does mean they are not synonomous with the state. nor does the state have direct control over the value of the national currency.
    Bobby Bisto nor does the state determine the amount of liquidity in the economy. it tries to influence all these things but to say it controls money is an enormous overstatement.

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