a few remarks

Chris Matthew Sciabarra cms10 at SPAMis2.nyu.edu
Wed Sep 8 18:13:39 MDT 1999



Though I've tried to bow out of this discussion because of the demands of a
tough work schedule, I feel like Al Pacino in "Godfather 3" -- "you pull me
back in..."

So... briefly...

>Charles: No, the burden of proof is on those who assert the price mechanism
>can work,  because , in fact, it has not worked in history.
>(See , for example. _Capital_, on the problems with the market in actual
>history). Capitalism doesn't work.

Chris:  Markets work.  Even Marx recognized the remarkable productive power
and progress that comes from markets, that is, from individuals producing
and trading on the market.

>Hunters and gatherers planned for 100's of thousands of years. That is a
>much longer success record than the market.

Chris:  I have no doubt that socialism could bring an advanced industrial
society back to the level of hunters and gatherers.  So, maybe it could
work, after all!

On War Communism:
>Charles: This is , excuse the expression, **((*)%$^^ing outrageous.
>Capitalism, trying to keep the price mechanism in place, commits chaos on
>socialism, and you claim it as test of the ability to plan. Get out of here !

Chris:  Even Lenin recognized that war communism was a failure... and he
introduced the NEP to try to bring back prices and markets in an effort to
jump start the economy.

>Charles: Define "individual contexts". The individual context is the social.

Chris:  I just mean "individual context" as in -- each individual, endowed
with sociality for sure, has their own context of knowledge, capacities,
experiences, goals, and purposes.

>Charles: I think you are thinking of central planning incorrectly. There is
>no reason in principle that it must be based on one way communication, i.e.
>orders.

Chris:  Command economies almost always degenerate into "orders" -- because
they dispense with the institutions that provide for transmission of
information about relative scarcities.  And as I've pointed out, systemic
shortfalls are almost always met by extra-political means -- as in the
"black" market.

>Charles: This is straight up bourgeois economist lying. You might as well be
>Milton Friedman. Give me a break.
>Jim Craven predicted this.

Chris:  Come on, Charles.  I've not accused you of lying; we are
interpreting similar facts based on vastly different theoretical contexts.
Friedman's "critique" does not even come close to the kind of critique
offered by those such as Rothbard and Rand.

>Charles: You deny central conclusions of Marxist economics. There is no
>synthesis of Marxism with what you are saying. It is like a synthesis of
>Marxist economics and essentially anti-Marxist economics: an impossibility.
>Your thesis is irreconicilably antagonistic to Marxism.
>You sound like Ayn Rand :>)

Chris:  I've been called worse.

>Charles: I don't think Marx thought  the capitalists do not intend the many
>negative consequences of their actions. The capitalists know quite well that
>their wealth and power depends upon the poverty and weakness of billions of
>people.

Chris:  In some circumstances, certain capitalists know that there is a
zero-sum game involved; but Marx's overall point is that the system
operates "behind people's backs" -- meaning that everybody goes about their
business, and an anti-social result emerges that may not have been a part
of any person's intentions.

Anyway, that's all ... back to work for me...
Chris
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Chris Matthew Sciabarra, Visiting Scholar
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