What is uneconomic under capitalism does not become economic under socialism.

Mark Jones markjones011 at tiscali.co.uk
Fri Dec 13 13:35:34 MST 2002


Barry Brooks wrote:

> Why would one expect there to be no difference in what
> is uneconomic when the capitalism needs a profit and
> socialism doesn't.
>
> Both systems do need to have functional investments,
> but they have different definitions of functional.
>
> Even a perpetual motion machine could be economic in a socialist
> economy. And,
> the arts can flourish, etc. so long as basic production, maintenance,
> stewardship are being cared for.  If it is popular and is choosen over any
> competing uses of its inputs then any project is the right thing to do.
> Personal short-term profit can and should be left out of
> non-personal investment
> planning.
>
> The market is useful, but the without the need for profit the
> market would be a
> different beast.  Let's not let the tail wag the dog.  With
> socialism the market
> can be a useful tool instead of being a destructive dictator.
>
> We have seen what the right thing to do leads to with profit as a
> guide.  Who

Barry, you are misconstruing me. David Walters also thinks I am somehow
pro-market because I argued that what is uneconomic under capitalism may
also be uneconomic under socialism, perhaps even more so. Jurriaan thinks
the same of me, and seems to approve. I'm gonna reply to his own adept
postings in a minute. If he or anyone thinks I am in favour of markets or
believe in market socialism or anything of he kind, they are wrong.

But here are 2 preliminary points.

First of all, profits are not, as you seem to suggest, an addition to the
price which the consumer woud other wsie pay for a product. This idea, that
capitalism 'forces' us to pay, thereby becoming 'uneconomic compared to
socialism' which doesn't 'add on' profits--is wrong. It is not Marxism.

The whole point of Marx's laborious excavations in Volume I of Capital was
to show the opposite: capitalism does not derive profits by adding something
to the price. That's not how it works. What the capitalist boss does is he
makes workers work part of their time for nothing, and then sell what they
make in that unpaid time, for the normal price. That's where the profit
comes from--the unpaid labour of the workers. This means, from a marxist
point of view, socialism is in principle neither more nor less profitable
than capitalism. They are on a level playing-field at the get-go. The price
of any product is genuinely determined by its true cost of production.
Profit is not a kind of tax on the consumer; the source of profit is
different. Proft arises in the production process itself, not afterwards at
the point of sale. It arises for a simple reason. Under capitalism,
everything is a commodity, even the worker's capacity to work. The price of
the worker's capacity to work is the wage, and this price is also determined
by the true cost of production of the worker him/herself. The wage is
enough, and not more, to buy the necessaries of life in a particular
society, at a given level of development. Capitalists constantly seek to
increase productivity because that way they get the workers to produce more
commodities for the same amount of wages. More productivity = more profit
for the capitalist.

What is 'unprofitable' for a capitalist to manufacture, is so either because
there is no market for the product, ie no-one wants it, or because someone
else is manufacturing the same thing or its equivalent, cheaper than he can
(I say he because capitalists are still mostly men).

If in a socialist state, lets call it Xanadu, Factory X is told to make
Widget Y because it has been decided (somehow, either by bureaucrats or by
workers' democracy or however) that society needs Widget Y, then fine. But
if Widget Y is *not* being manufactured in a nearby capitalist state,
Slumville, because there's no market or it's unprofitable, then why,
actually, or how, can it suddenly become profitable to make Widget Y in
socialist Xanadu? It cannot. It is being manufactured in Xanadu because of
different social priorities, or because of some perceived need which the
market somehow doesn't signal. It does not become more economic under
socialism, and in fact socialism inevitably tends to be overall less
economic, more unprofitable, than capitalism, because so many production
decisions are made for reasons other than profitability.

If you think about this, it can have pretty dire, albeit unintended,
consequences for the poor folks living in socialist Xanadu. It means the
workers there are having to spend more time working, making things which
just don't get made in neon-lit Slumville, because they're not profitable
and because there is no effective demand in the market for them. They may
not mind doing this because they believe in the cause, but they still end up
doing more work for less. This can result in well-known unpleasant
comparisons. In cheery old Slumville the guys are burning gasoline like
crazy driving their SUV's to the casinos and whorehouses down on the res. In
browned-out Xanadu the pious workers are riding zero-emission
potovoltaic-powered bicycles to the Party branch meeting. Who feels like a
winner here? You get my drift.

My second point is this. What the marxists are really arguing--the bottom
line--is this. Capitalism's magic depends on the endless abuse of long
suffering Mother Nature. The guy in the SUV drives at the same speed whether
his tank is full or threequarters empty. His engine can't tell how much fuel
he has left. It keeps revving up as long as the driver has his pedal to the
metal, which he always has, and as long as there is some--any--fuel in the
tank. Then the fuel runs out. At that point, unless he can buy some more,
the SUV driver has gone in a second from being in the Promised Land of
plenty to being stuck a long way from anywhere with two tons of rusting
useless junk. At that point, the SUV driver might think the guy on the
bicycle who just rang his bell and passed him by, had a point afer all.
Let's hope the guy on a bike is going to the res to organise a union among
the casino workers.

It is hard to believe that capitalism can be so dumb as to behave like
this--to drive flat out on empty--something which no normal driver would do.
But capitalism is exactly this dumb, has proved it many times in history and
is about to do so again.

It is really extremely dumb for American capitalism to drive with its pedal
to the metal into the brick wall of Oil Depletion, but that is exactly what
it's doing. The genius plan of its rulers is to get out of its little local
difficulty by occupying Iraq and brazenly stealing the last major world
reserves of oil to fuel its SUV habit. How dumb is that? It's unbelevably
fucking fumb but it's happening right in front of our eyes. It is said that
the Washington elites are mesmerised by fear of a terrorist nuclear attack
on them and that's what's driving the Repugs in their crazed push for total
war in the Middle East. Isn't that just dumber than dumb? They are so dumb
they have made Washington--the world capital of capital--a place where they
themselves are afraid to be, and their solution is to talk about nuking the
enemy first (but they don't know where the enemy even lives!). They long,
they crave, they tremble with desire, to whack Iraq, but they are
shit-scared to do it, paralysed with fear of what might come after. What a
shower of shit those people really are, how pathetic, contemptible and
worthless, what gutless cowards these chickenhawks and their minions are,
and how completely fucking clueless they all are.

You cannot underestimate the comical, tragic, absurd, cosmic stupidity of
capitalism, a stupidity born of the blind gropings in the dark of its own
mother and father, Greed and Fear. This is why we need to wake people up
fast enough to get the wheel out of the hands of the loony driver, and not
be afraid to tell people that burning Mother Nature while having a good but
really short time before becoming extinct, is a dumb thing for Homo Sapiens
to be doing.

Mark










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