Reply to Cockshott

Robert Peter Burns rburns at chaph.usc.edu
Sat Feb 3 15:11:06 MST 1996


On Fri, 2 Feb 1996, Paul Cockshott wrote:

> This will tend to lead to a situation where capital rich co-ops
> can exploit capital poor ones via sub-contracting agreements.
> 
> You do not abolish capital as a social category merely by changing
> who owns it. It arises out of the logic of a monetary economy
> with large scale industrial production. This was the whole
> thrust of Marx's critique of political economy. His book Capital
> is one long polemic to this effect.
> 

It seems that Paul favors near absolute equality and the abolition
of money.  This I find implausible as anything like an appropriate
immediate goal for socialists, politically speaking.  Obviously
I think there should be a lot more equality than we have now.
But I am doubtful about the efficacy of doing away with material
incentives altogether.  More importantly though, as I tried to
point out in a previous post on Labor Accounting, it is not at
all clear to me that abolishing money and markets is going to
be of much use in achieving the degree of egalitarianism Paul
favors, nor in ensuring that some producers don't exploit others.
I did not find Paul's reply to that post at all satisfactory.
If we remunerate according to labor time, this still leaves 
inequalities in skill, effort, difficulty of task, etc, and
so labor collectives that work skillfully and hard at difficult
tasks will be exploited by labor collectives that work poorly
and lazily at easier tasks.  Basing socialist economics on
the generation of near-universal socialist virtue in the aftermath
of a victorious revolution is unpersuasive to say the least.
More importantly, as a political program it has no prospect of
success.  Market socialism, by contrast, is objectively feasible, 
has a much better prospect of attracting working class support, and 
would do a great deal to eliminate exploitation and inequality based
on differential capital ownership.

Peter
rburns at scf.usc.edu


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