Sunday, April 29

Marx is playing with me...again (part 1)

In the Communist Manifesto, Marx wrote that capitalism is nothing but exploitation.

I had never thought about it in that way before. The buyer is trying to get the lowest price from the seller and the seller is trying to get the buyer to pay as much as possible. The buyer is trying to wrestle away the good or service for as little value as possible and the seller is trying to get as much money out of the buyer as he can.

In that way, I imagine he would say that we're not interacting with our fellow humans as people anymore but just as possible deals from which we could profit acting only for our self interest.

I'm not saying whether it's good or bad, but is there another way possible?

The next time I want a cd, should I walk up to the register and ask the clerk what the store would like me to pay for it? That would still be exploiting me since the store would want as much as possible, I guess. Perhaps then the clerk would ask me what I would like to pay. Then there wouldn't be any exploitation. But how would any exchanges ever happen in a timely fashion? (Just imagine checking out at a grocery store that way.)

Perhaps, acting for the benefit of society? Should I walk into the music store and pick a cd of a company that is teetering on the edge of bankruptcy and buy whatever cd they're selling regardless of whether it's absolutely terrible music (which might be why they're going out of business) or if I even want it, just because they need it to be sold? I guess it'd be worth a little sacrifice here for the benefit of the record company and all their employees. I'm sure society would be better.

A little sacrifice here and a little sacrifice there. Where is the line? Do I end up completely acting out of sacrifice for someone else? For everyone else? If we are no longer acting for ourselves, but for society, then ultimately, wouldn't we be little more than each other's slaves (with a smile)? The individual wouldn't be important at all; each of us might become quite disposable. We would lose our humanity just as easily, perhaps even quicker, that way.

Communism tries to enforce its happy thoughts as reality. One of my professors and I were talking after class about this. He basically said something about people in China who make $2 per day want tv's too. I replied that value can't be conjured up out of thin air. Communism always has nice plans as how to distribute goods and money, but it can't come up with ways to make stuff better than capitalism can. In the communist tv factory, the people who work their butts off would be paid the same as the lazy folks. There isn't much of an incentive to work hard.

Karl Marx, of course, said simply that to suggest that people wouldn't work hard in a communist society would be silly. If you're working in the communist tv factory, or anywhere for that matter, what do you think about to keep yourself motivated? The needs of all the people for tv's that are now being filled. So then, as you're not working for your self-interest, you're working for other people's interest, how can you be working to fulfill your own potential (that is unless it's working for other people's needs)? Fulfilling one's potential is what communists always put as the highest achievement.

Capitalism doesn't give it to you, but it gives you the means with which to make it possible. Your life is yours, and yours alone, to use, to exploit, or not.

It seems to me that the difference between capitalism and communism is that capitalism runs on reality, and communism runs on nice ideas and dreams. Communism seems to be a system that is based on what should be, things that could have been but aren't, ideas of what can be but have no way to be measured. Any system to be used in reality can't be based on what isn't.

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