I would like a better understanding of your approach towards economics. I consider myself a capitalist. However, I am interested to hear how you all present your points and answer a few questions. I do not want to make some long hateful flame fest and the minute I start seeing this or even get hints of it, I’ll delete this post.
Now, if you are interested, without using strawmen, personal attacks, ideological insults, or anything else aside from reasonable, simple explanations, could you please address the following:
1) What is wrong with private property? How is private property theft? 2) What makes free-market capitalism hierarchical? Exploitative? 3) How can wealth be redistributed in a non-coercive manner? How can redistribution occur without negating the non-aggression principle? 4) Why should an individual’s primary concern be for others instead of himself? 5) How do you eliminate class and capitalism in a manner consistent with the non-aggression principle? 6) How are issues such as racism, gender inequality, religious discrimination, ableism, etc. linked to capitalism? How are these issues addressed under other systems?
I really appreciate anyone who takes the time to answer this. As I said, full blown capitalist and quasi-Objectivist here, but I am legitimately curious. Please maintain civility.
1. Private property should be recognised as distinct from personal property. Personal property is something you’re in possession of and have a personal use for. Private property is something owned by one person which is worked by (an) other(s) for the profit of the owner.
Say I own some land and contained underneath it is coal. I make the investment to get some people to make a mine, dig up the coal and process it. At no point is my labour used in the creation of a product to sell: I do not dig the coal, I do not refine it. Because the land is mine, the coal is mine and therefore I take the proceeds from the sale of the coal and pay the workers a wage. Yet it is the labour of others and not myself that has created the wealth, only through happenstance that I own the land do I take profit from the process of production.
In this sense it is theft though: legal means are in place to defend my claim to the land (judicial and police system) however through my claim the resources are mine to control. The coal is denied to common use based on those who labour for it and those who require it, instead it exists for my personal profit. I can hoard the resource so that I can maximise my personal profit, I can plunder the resource so that it can be of no use for future generations. The argument I take is that this is illegitimate and maintained only through force and coercion (if people do not work for me, they starve. That in itself is a form of force) whilst there is no justification as to why I can claim that land as mine (so I inherited it or bought it, but from whom and how did they acquire it? The world wasn’t made with title deeds. For land to become private rather than the commons requires an individual to claim it, in doing so they prevent its use by others, often through force such as wars.)
2. I think I answered in 1 as to why it’s considered exploitative but for clarity: the labour of the masses functions so that the few can profit from the surplus that labour creates. In this way it is also hierarchic, the owners of private property are a select, elite few who also hold (as a class rather than necessarily as individuals) the political power, they can control, for example, the expectation of minimum wage, holiday time, hours worked in a week, number of breaks in a day etc. Their position is maintained through, say, the police or private security, historically thugs and fascists are brought in to scab or break up pickets and so on. The owners of private property don’t have to work, their lives aren’t as stressful but they do reap the benefits of the labour others put in, tenfold compared to the wage the workers receive.
3. In the sense of transitioning from capitalism to communism, a “non-coercive manner” is unlikely for redistribution. If everybody who owns land relinquishes it to the collective, then fine. If they defend it, especially with violence, then coercion will be used. I am not fussed about maintaining a non-aggression principle, when aggression has been used to achieve and maintain the status quo as being beneficial for the select few.
4. Because if everyone takes that attitude it’s completely non-functional and becomes the “war of all against all.” It is, simply put, a better way to create a well functioning society through being considerate of others. Living within a society that functions better, has fairer distribution of resources etc is fundamentally in the interests of the majority of people. Unless you’re grand-bourgeois and own a massive factory or big chain, the chances are that you as an individual would be better off under a socialist system where people look out for each other, rather than trying to look out only for yourself as an individual but not progressing far up the lander in the grand scheme.
5. You don’t. The non-aggression principle is an idea that inherently favours maintaining the status quo of exploitation and removing any capacity for meaningful change by denying the ability to make it happen. It is produced by the most extreme proponents of the “purest” form of that exploitative system. It makes no sense to be bound by a contradictory, hypocritical ideal.
6. Not to say that they’re inherent purely to, nor that they developed solely out of, capitalism. However systems of othering functions within capitalism to divide the working class and prevent it from organising. Racism is a contradiction supported and maintained (whether through conscious recognition or not) through capitalism because it benefits the super rich to have white people fighting to keep down black people, rather than white and black people fighting to bring down the super rich, for example. Dehumanisation of people from external nationalities is also important for legitimising wars over resources and so on as well. Either they don’t use the resources properly and thus don’t deserve them (manifest destiny) or the people are “barbarians” and need to be “civilised.” External cultures must be brought into heel so that they function within the capitalist system so that their labour and resources may also be exploited.
Gender inequality, along with discrimination based on sexuality, plays into this idea for the nuclear family. People’s sexual and reproductive purpose under capitalism is that they must breed the next generation of workers, through constructing divided labour in which the woman looks after the child that frees up the man to work more hours of the day. The man is viewed as dominant because he primarily is seen as the contributor to the powers of production and the wealthy class is primarily dominated by men in positions of power. This has a knock on effect for the way in which magazines, TV, adverts, etc are constructed. The people with control represent a specific group, therefore they reproduce media that prioritises and values the identity they connect with.
Religious discrimination is a tricky one to cover quickly but broadly I see religious institutions as not being separated from these organisational power structures. Religious institutions become a method of ideological control to construct society in a fashion beneficial to capitalism, and subaltern cultures with religious connection that do not conform to this are oppressed as a result.
Ableism relates to the way in which capitalism is homogenising so that it can produce and continue producing for the minimum effort with maximum profit. People with impairments require a divergence from this homogenous mass that capitalism aims to create - they do not function as a part of the machine, as it were, and therefore their needs are considered to be a burden and extraneous rather than something that can be catered for and resolved, because there isn’t a great profit factor in resolving those issues.
How is it catered for within other forms of society? It’s not something that magically just changes but without the profit factor, without the need to exploit and without the need for infinite accumulation then society doesn’t need to organise itself in a fashion that creates othering and oppression. The greed and selfishness that maintains such power dynamics are, in the grand scheme, a hindrance to building a society which functions positively. While somebody under capitalism my see themselves as benefiting from oppression and therefore propagate it, their incentive to do so outside of the capitalist system is greatly reduced. Domination over media and cultural sources that propagate and instil such systems is no longer by the elite minority, because everybody has equal control in the means of production, and therefore it becomes easier to create counter-culture which is able to change and develop peoples stances so that such forms of discrimination can be broken down.
Now obviously that last part is hypothetical and a bit vague, but it’s 2 am and probably the best you’re going to get from me at the moment. I’m not saying oppression just disappears, but the incentive to maintain it is no longer present, the power structures to reinforce it can be removed, and through struggle, if done properly, people can have detrimental prejudices challenged and broken down.
socialist critique of capitalist value systems etc.