Pope Slams Capitalism, Inequality Between Rich And Poor In New Years Message
#31
Fleeting Shadow Wrote:You seem to have ignored the end of my post.

It is possible to conceive of any economy in which all commerical enterprises are cooperatives (i.e. a socialist economy) but in which the government does very little to regulate the competition between them and has no anti-trust laws etc.

On the other hand, capitalist economies do not necessarily have to experience much - or any - competition. This may drive you crazy, but many left-wing Marxists disparagingly refer to the system of the old USSR as 'state capitalist'. This is because the capitalist (i.e. capital provider) in every enterprise (in this case, the USSR government) owned the fruit of the labourers in that enterprise. There was no worker ownership or self-management.

An economy with competing commercial enterprises is not a socialist economy, and a cooperative necessarily needs capital before it can do anything.  Where is that allocated from?

True, a capitalist economy does not need to experience competition, but that's only when consumers are satisfied with a product and price thanks to market forces, and see no need for alternatives. That's a good thing.  Socialism tries to achieve the same thing, but it cannot, because there is no rational price mechanism!  It necessarily end ups in the hands of the state.

Left wing Marxists who criticize the USSR are twice as foolish as the regular socialist, since by rejecting private property and market forces, there is no means to their end except state control of prices.  The regular socialist is foolish because the state has no rational means to control prices.  
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#32
(01-02-2013, 07:34 AM)ImpyTerwilliger Wrote: http://distributistreview.com/mag/

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This
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#33
(01-02-2013, 07:55 PM)PeterII Wrote:
Fleeting Shadow Wrote:You seem to have ignored the end of my post.

It is possible to conceive of any economy in which all commerical enterprises are cooperatives (i.e. a socialist economy) but in which the government does very little to regulate the competition between them and has no anti-trust laws etc.

On the other hand, capitalist economies do not necessarily have to experience much - or any - competition. This may drive you crazy, but many left-wing Marxists disparagingly refer to the system of the old USSR as 'state capitalist'. This is because the capitalist (i.e. capital provider) in every enterprise (in this case, the USSR government) owned the fruit of the labourers in that enterprise. There was no worker ownership or self-management.

True, a capitalist economy does not need to experience competition, but that's only when consumers are satisfied with a product and price thanks to market forces, and see no need for alternatives. That's a good thing.  Socialism tries to achieve the same thing, but it cannot, because there is no rational price mechanism!  It necessarily end ups in the hands of the state.

No. What I'm trying to point out, Peter, obviously very inarticulately, is that there is no reason to assume that a free market and a capitalist mode of production go hand in hand. They often don't. And when they don't, this doesn't make the market any less free or the mode of production something other than capitalist.

For example, let's say a small publicly listed corporation develops a successful business model (be it based on a genuinely good product, an shrewd expansion strategy, a clever marketing campaign involving lots of naked women, whatever). It gains a serious foothold in the market, becoming bigger. It starts to corner the market, eventually not only neutralising competitors but tying contractors and service providers into a bind, and buying up all the primary resources required to make its product. It establishes a virtual monopoly for itself (without the aid of wicked bureaucrats). The ensuing absence of competition has arisen in a relatively 'free market' scenario. Result: happy shareholders. On the other hand, let's say that by the edict of some government agency, this company was just singled out as the only entity with the right to provide the product in question. The ensuing absence of competition has arisen in the context of government intervention. Result: happy shareholders. A company doesn't suddenly become 'socialist' because its owners have cronies in high places. Both scenarios take place in a capitalist context.

Secondly, I am suggesting that socialism does not mean centralised control of everything. Socialist ideas preceded Marx by quite a long time. (And even Marx himself - who had very little to say about socialism at all - was attracted to socialism because he hated the state and ultimately wanted to destroy it. I'm always amazed by the confidence with which people say things like 'Marx wanted state control of everything' and was 'collectivist'. Such people have never bothered to seriously examine the thinker they are criticising.)

Yes, the USSR called itself socialist. The USSR also called itself democratic. It also called itself republican. Modernist heretics call themselves Catholic. Does anyone take those claims seriously? Either words mean something or they don't. The fact is that the first thing the Bolsheviks did upon seizing power was to destroy the only real socialist insitutions that actually existed: the soviets. An economy run entirely on cooperative lines is a socialist economy as the first socialists would have understood it. So I won't apologise for using the word to mean what it originally meant, however disconcerting this may be to those whose support for laissez-faire capitalism demands that alternatives be demonised.
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#34
Fleeting Shadow Wrote:For example, let's say a small publicly listed corporation develops a successful business model (be it based on a genuinely good product, an shrewd expansion strategy, a clever marketing campaign involving lots of naked women, whatever). It gains a serious foothold in the market, becoming bigger. It starts to corner the market, eventually not only neutralising competitors but tying contractors and service providers into a bind, and buying up all the primary resources required to make its product. It establishes a virtual monopoly for itself (without the aid of wicked bureaucrats). The ensuing absence of competition has arisen in a relatively 'free market' scenario. Result: happy shareholders. On the other hand, let's say that by the edict of some government agency, this company was just singled out as the only entity with the right to provide the product in question. The ensuing absence of competition has arisen in the context of government intervention. Result: happy shareholders. A company doesn't suddenly become 'socialist' because its owners have cronies in high places. Both scenarios take place in a capitalist context.

The problem with your two scenarios is that you are neglecting prices and the consumer.  The company in the first example can only gain its foothold in the market by offering a superior product at a superior price which benefits the consumer.  It's "virtual monopoly" could only happen by specialization and continually offering something great at such a low price that people want it to corner the market.  If it actually did manage to buy up all the primary resources and shoot up the prices, then the product's demand would go down and the company would face immediate bankruptcy. After all, it only got there by reducing it's margins so finely, that competitors found something more productive to do.  Basic laws of supply and demand apply. 

Shareholders could not be happy in your second scenario since the lack of a rational price mechanism doesn't tell us how much things are worth relative to other things. 

Quote:Secondly, I am suggesting that socialism does not mean centralised control of everything. Socialist ideas preceded Marx by quite a long time. (And even Marx himself - who had very little to say about socialism at all - was attracted to socialism because he hated the state and ultimately wanted to destroy it. I'm always amazed by the confidence with which people say things like 'Marx wanted state control of everything' and was 'collectivist'. Such people have never bothered to seriously examine the thinker they are criticising.)

Yes, the USSR called itself socialist. The USSR also called itself democratic. It also called itself republican. Modernist heretics call themselves Catholic. Does anyone take those claims seriously? Either words mean something or they don't. The fact is that the first thing the Bolsheviks did upon seizing power was to destroy the only real socialist insitutions that actually existed: the soviets. An economy run entirely on cooperative lines is a socialist economy as the first socialists would have understood it. So I won't apologise for using the word to mean what it originally meant, however disconcerting this may be to those whose support for laissez-faire capitalism demands that alternatives be demonised.

Socialism is the necessary stepping stone to the Marxist utopia.  It's idea of cooperative ownership is where everything collapses though, because of its lack of ability to rationally allocate human production to satisfy human needs. Thus the state intervenes by necessity, whether Marx likes it or not. 
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#35
A little like capitalism in that way, eh?
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#36
(01-02-2013, 10:53 PM)Crusading Philologist Wrote: A little like capitalism in that way, eh?

Not at all. The exchange of private property is the most rational way to allocate goods. 
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#37
(01-02-2013, 10:51 PM)PeterII Wrote:
Fleeting Shadow Wrote:For example, let's say a small publicly listed corporation develops a successful business model (be it based on a genuinely good product, an shrewd expansion strategy, a clever marketing campaign involving lots of naked women, whatever). It gains a serious foothold in the market, becoming bigger. It starts to corner the market, eventually not only neutralising competitors but tying contractors and service providers into a bind, and buying up all the primary resources required to make its product. It establishes a virtual monopoly for itself (without the aid of wicked bureaucrats). The ensuing absence of competition has arisen in a relatively 'free market' scenario. Result: happy shareholders. On the other hand, let's say that by the edict of some government agency, this company was just singled out as the only entity with the right to provide the product in question. The ensuing absence of competition has arisen in the context of government intervention. Result: happy shareholders. A company doesn't suddenly become 'socialist' because its owners have cronies in high places. Both scenarios take place in a capitalist context.

The problem with your two scenarios is that you are neglecting prices and the consumer.  The company in the first example can only gain its foothold in the market by offering a superior product at a superior price which benefits the consumer.  It's "virtual monopoly" could only happen by specialization and continually offering something great at such a low price that people want it to corner the market.  If it actually did manage to buy up all the primary resources and shoot up the prices, then the product's demand would go down and the company would face immediate bankruptcy. After all, it only got there by reducing it's margins so finely, that competitors found something more productive to do.  Basic laws of supply and demand apply.   

Shareholders could not be happy in your second scenario since the lack of a rational price mechanism doesn't tell us how much things are worth relative to other things.   

Quote:Secondly, I am suggesting that socialism does not mean centralised control of everything. Socialist ideas preceded Marx by quite a long time. (And even Marx himself - who had very little to say about socialism at all - was attracted to socialism because he hated the state and ultimately wanted to destroy it. I'm always amazed by the confidence with which people say things like 'Marx wanted state control of everything' and was 'collectivist'. Such people have never bothered to seriously examine the thinker they are criticising.)

Yes, the USSR called itself socialist. The USSR also called itself democratic. It also called itself republican. Modernist heretics call themselves Catholic. Does anyone take those claims seriously? Either words mean something or they don't. The fact is that the first thing the Bolsheviks did upon seizing power was to destroy the only real socialist insitutions that actually existed: the soviets. An economy run entirely on cooperative lines is a socialist economy as the first socialists would have understood it. So I won't apologise for using the word to mean what it originally meant, however disconcerting this may be to those whose support for laissez-faire capitalism demands that alternatives be demonised.

Socialism is the necessary stepping stone to the Marxist utopia.  It's idea of cooperative ownership is where everything collapses though, because of its lack of ability to rationally allocate human production to satisfy human needs. Thus the state intervenes by necessity, whether Marx likes it or not. 

Peter, I didn't mention prices or the consumer because they were not relevant to the point I was trying to make... unsuccessfully again, it seems. Despite my long-winded posts, my point is rather modest: the distinction between capitalism and socialism is different from the distinction between regulated and unregulated markets. I really don't see what is so mind-bending about this.

With regard to your second point, I'm not sure if I understand what you are saying. How does everything 'collapse' under cooperative systems? Do cooperatives not have the ability to 'rationally' allocate resources? Surely that's just not true. There are many successful cooperatives operating under a variety of models. Or have I misread you?
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#38
(01-02-2013, 11:13 PM)PeterII Wrote:
(01-02-2013, 10:53 PM)Crusading Philologist Wrote: A little like capitalism in that way, eh?

Not at all. The exchange of private property is the most rational way to allocate goods. 

But, we could say that, whether Mises likes it or not, the state must intervene in capitalist economies. This is true not only because capitalism depends upon the modern unitary state to crush social institutions and customs that interfere with market logic and the "rational allocation of goods," but also because the state, through welfare programs, covers up some of the worst abuses of the system without fundamentally challenging it.
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#39
Indeed. The Free Market ( :incense:) was the product of perhaps the most radical programme of state-led social engineering in centuries of European history. Ancient systems of social relations were shredded by acts of raw state power in what Polanyi called 'the Utopian endeavour of economic liberalism to set up a self-regulating market system'. Commercial life was to be abstracted from the social context in which it had always been naturally embedded, and 'emancipated' from all traditional, communal, moral, and political control, and then enshrined in its own isolation. This whole project was unnatural and harmful. What liberal ideologues did to the poor people of England, and to English society generally, in order to achieve this was unspeakable. And, the pattern is being repeated now on a global scale by organisations like the WTO, IMF, etc, largely at the behest of the U.S. Government, perhaps the last Western power to actually believe its own 'Enlightenment' propaganda in this regard.
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#40
Fleeting Shadows Wrote:Peter, I didn't mention prices or the consumer because they were not relevant to the point I was trying to make... unsuccessfully again, it seems. Despite my long-winded posts, my point is rather modest: the distinction between capitalism and socialism is different from the distinction between regulated and unregulated markets. I really don't see what is so mind-bending about this.

I thought your definition of capitalism was incomplete, in that if surplus value is going to be the property of the capital provider, this necessarily implies the ability to exchange goods without outside interference.  After all, if someone else controls your private property, it's not private property. 

Quote:With regard to your second point, I'm not sure if I understand what you are saying. How does everything 'collapse' under cooperative systems? Do cooperatives not have the ability to 'rationally' allocate resources? Surely that's just not true. There are many successful cooperatives operating under a variety of models. Or have I misread you?

If everything is owned collectively, then who decides how resources are allocated?
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