Anti-capitalism

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Anti-capitalism comprises a wide variety of movements, ideas and attitudes that oppose capitalism. Anti-capitalists, in the strict sense of the word, are those who wish to replace capitalism with another type of economic system.

Socialism[edit]

A man marching against capitalism with Democratic Socialists of America members at the Occupy Wall Street protest event, September 24, 2011

Socialism includes various theories of economic organization that advocate public or direct worker ownership and administration of the means of production and allocation of resources, and a society characterized by equal access to resources for all individuals, with an egalitarian method of compensation.[1][2][3] Socialists argue for cooperative/community or state control of the economy, or the "commanding heights" of the economy,[4] with democratic control by the people over the state, although there have been some undemocratic philosophies. "State" or "worker cooperative" ownership is in fundamental opposition to "private" ownership of means of production, which is the defining feature of capitalism. Most socialists argue that capitalism unfairly concentrates power, wealth and profit, among a small segment of society that controls capital and derives its wealth through exploitation, stifling technological and economic progress by maintaining an anarchy of production.

Socialists argue that the accumulation of capital generates waste through externalities that require costly corrective regulatory measures. They also point out that this process generates wasteful industries and practices that exist only to generate sufficient demand for products to be sold at a profit (such as high-pressure advertisement); thereby creating rather than satisfying economic demand.[5][6]

Socialists argue that capitalism consists of irrational activity, such as the purchasing of commodities only to sell at a later time when their price appreciates, rather than for consumption, even if the commodity cannot be sold at a profit to individuals in need; they argue that making money, or accumulation of capital, does not correspond to the satisfaction of demand.[7]

Socialists view private property relations as limiting the potential of productive forces in the economy. According to socialists, private property becomes obsolete when it concentrates into centralized, socialized institutions based on private appropriation of revenue (but based on cooperative work and internal planning in allocation of inputs) until the role of the capitalist becomes redundant.[8] With no need for capital accumulation and a class of owners, private property in the means of production is perceived as being an outdated form of economic organization that should be replaced by a free association of individuals based on public or common ownership of these socialized assets.[9][10] Private ownership imposes constraints on planning, leading to uncoordinated economic decisions that result in business fluctuations, unemployment and a tremendous waste of material resources during crisis of overproduction.[11]

Excessive disparities in income distribution lead to social instability and require costly corrective measures in the form of redistributive taxation, which incurs heavy administrative costs while weakening the incentive to work, inviting dishonesty and increasing the likelihood of tax evasion while (the corrective measures) reduce the overall efficiency of the market economy.[12] These corrective policies shift the incentive system of the market by providing things such as minimum wages, unemployment insurance, taxing profits and reducing the reserve army of labor, resulting in reduced incentives for capitalists to invest in more production.[13] Marxists argue that the establishment of a socialist mode of production is the only way to overcome such deficiencies. Socialists and specifically Marxian socialists, argue that there is an inherent conflict of interests between the working class and capital which prevents optimal use of available human resources and leads to contradictory interest groups (labor and business) striving to influence the state to intervene in the economy in their favor at the expense of overall economic efficiency.

Early socialists (Utopian socialists and Ricardian socialists) criticized capitalism for concentrating power and wealth within a small segment of society.[14] and does not utilise available technology and resources to their maximum potential in the interests of the public.[10]

Anarchist and libertarian socialist criticisms[edit]

For the influential German individualist anarchist philosopher Max Stirner "private property is a spook which "lives by the grace of law" and it "becomes 'mine' only by effect of the law". In other words, private property exists purely "through the protection of the State, through the State's grace." Recognising its need for state protection, Stirner is also aware that "[i]t need not make any difference to the 'good citizens' who protects them and their principles, whether an absolute King or a constitutional one, a republic, if only they are protected. And what is their principle, whose protector they always 'love'? Not that of labour", rather it is "interest-bearing possession . . . labouring capital, therefore . . . labour certainly, yet little or none at all of one's own, but labour of capital and of the -- subject labourers"."[15] French anarchist Pierre Joseph Proudhon opposed government privilege that protects capitalist, banking and land interests, and the accumulation or acquisition of property (and any form of coercion that led to it) which he believed hampers competition and keeps wealth in the hands of the few. The spanish individualist anarchist Miguel Gimenez Igualada sees "capitalism is an effect of government; the disappearance of government means capitalism falls from its pedestal vertiginously...That which we call capitalism is not something else but a product of the State, within which the only thing that is being pushed forward is profit, good or badly acquired. And so to fight against capitalism is a pointless task, since be it State capitalism or Enterprise capitalism, as long as Government exists, exploiting capital will exist. The fight, but of consciousness, is against the State.".[16]

Within anarchism there emerged a critique of wage slavery which refers to a situation perceived as quasi-voluntary slavery,[17] where a person's livelihood depends on wages, especially when the dependence is total and immediate.[18][19] It is a negatively connoted term used to draw an analogy between slavery and wage labor by focusing on similarities between owning and renting a person. The term wage slavery has been used to criticize economic exploitation and social stratification, with the former seen primarily as unequal bargaining power between labor and capital (particularly when workers are paid comparatively low wages, e.g. in sweatshops),[20] and the latter as a lack of workers' self-management, fulfilling job choices and leisure in an economy.[21][22][23] Libertarian socialists believe if freedom is valued, then society must work towards a system in which individuals have the power to decide economic issues along with political issues. Libertarian socialists seek to replace unjustified authority with direct democracy, voluntary federation, and popular autonomy in all aspects of life,[24] including physical communities and economic enterprises. With the advent of the industrial revolution, thinkers such as Proudhon and Marx elaborated the comparison between wage labor and slavery in the context of a critique of societal property not intended for active personal use,[25][26] Luddites emphasized the dehumanization brought about by machines while later Emma Goldman famously denounced wage slavery by saying: "The only difference is that you are hired slaves instead of block slaves.".[27] American anarchist Emma Goldman believed that the economic system of capitalism was incompatible with human liberty. "The only demand that property recognizes," she wrote in Anarchism and Other Essays, "is its own gluttonous appetite for greater wealth, because wealth means power; the power to subdue, to crush, to exploit, the power to enslave, to outrage, to degrade."[28] She also argued that capitalism dehumanized workers, "turning the producer into a mere particle of a machine, with less will and decision than his master of steel and iron."[29]

Noam Chomsky contends that there is little moral difference between chattel slavery and renting one's self to an owner or "wage slavery". He feels that it is an attack on personal integrity that undermines individual freedom. He holds that workers should own and control their workplace.[30] Many libertarian socialists argue that large-scale voluntary associations should manage industrial manufacture, while workers retain rights to the individual products of their labor.[31] As such, they see a distinction between the concepts of "private property" and "personal possession". Whereas "private property" grants an individual exclusive control over a thing whether it is in use or not, and regardless of its productive capacity, "possession" grants no rights to things that are not in use.[32]

Communism[edit]

Communism, Marxism, and revolutionary socialism disagrees with capitalism and economic liberalism on a fundamental basis, in that communism advocates communal ownership over all means of production and economic decision-making of a society, with the abolishment of private property and government. Friedrich Engels, one of the founders of modern socialist theory, advocated the creation of a society that allows for the widespread application of modern technology to rationalise economic activity by eliminating the anarchy in production of capitalism.[33][34] Marxism argues for collective ownership of the means of production, the elimination of the exploitation of labor,[35] and the eventual abolition of the state, with an intermediate stage, of indeterminate length, in which the state will be used to eliminate the vestiges of capitalism. Some Communist states claimed to have abolished capitalism, although by definition these countries are state capitalist. [36][37]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Newman, Michael. (2005) Socialism: A Very Short Introduction, Oxford University Press, ISBN 0-19-280431-6
  2. ^ "Socialism". Oxford English Dictionary. "1. A theory or policy of social organisation which aims at or advocates the ownership and control of the means of production, capital, land, property, etc., by the community as a whole, and their administration or distribution in the interests of all. 2. A state of society in which things are held or used in common."
  3. ^ "Socialism".Merriam-Webster Unabridged Dictionary
  4. ^ "Socialism" Encyclopædia Britannica. 2006. Encyclopædia Britannica Online.
  5. ^ [1][dead link]
  6. ^ Fred Magdoff and Michael D. Yates. "What Needs To Be Done: A Socialist View". Monthly Review. Retrieved 2014-02-23. 
  7. ^ Let's produce for use, not profit. Retrieved August 7, 2010, from worldsocialism.org: http://www.worldsocialism.org/spgb/may10/page23.html
  8. ^ Engels, Fredrich. Socialism: Utopian and Scientific. Retrieved October 30, 2010, from Marxists.org: http://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1880/soc-utop/ch03.htm, "The bourgeoisie demonstrated to be a superfluous class. All its social functions are now performed by salaried employees."
  9. ^ The Political Economy of Socialism, by Horvat, Branko. 1982. Chapter 1: Capitalism, The General Pattern of Capitalist Development (pp. 15–20)
  10. ^ a b Marx and Engels Selected Works, Lawrence and Wishart, 1968, p. 40. Capitalist property relations put a "fetter" on the productive forces.
  11. ^ The Political Economy of Socialism, by Horvat, Branko. 1982. (p. 197)
  12. ^ The Political Economy of Socialism, by Horvat, Branko. 1982. (pp. 197–198)
  13. ^ Market Socialism: The Debate Among Socialists, 1998. pp. 60–61"
  14. ^ in Encyclopædia Britannica (2009). Retrieved October 14, 2009, from Encyclopædia Britannica Online: http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/551569/socialism, "Main" summary: "Socialists complain that capitalism necessarily leads to unfair and exploitative concentrations of wealth and power in the hands of the relative few who emerge victorious from free-market competition—people who then use their wealth and power to reinforce their dominance in society."
  15. ^ — Lorenzo Kom'boa Ervin. "G.6 What are the ideas of Max Stirner? in An Anarchist FAQ". Infoshop.org. Retrieved 2010-09-20. 
  16. ^ "el capitalismo es sólo el efecto del gobierno; desaparecido el gobierno, el capitalismo cae de su pedestal vertiginosamente...Lo que llamamos capitalismo no es otra cosa que el producto del Estado, dentro del cual lo único que se cultiva es la ganancia, bien o mal habida. Luchar, pues, contra el capitalismo es tarea inútil, porque sea Capitalismo de Estado o Capitalismo de Empresa, mientras el Gobierno exista, existirá el capital que explota. La lucha, pero de conciencias, es contra el Estado."Anarquismo by Miguel Gimenez Igualada
  17. ^ Ellerman 1992.
  18. ^ "wage slave". merriam-webster.com. Retrieved 4 March 2013. 
  19. ^ "wage slave". dictionary.com. Retrieved 4 March 2013. 
  20. ^ Sandel 1996, p. 184
  21. ^ "Conversation with Noam Chomsky". Globetrotter.berkeley.edu. p. 2. Retrieved 2010-06-28. 
  22. ^ Hallgrimsdottir & Benoit 2007.
  23. ^ "The Bolsheviks and Workers Control, 1917–1921: The State and Counter-revolution". Spunk Library. Retrieved 4 March 2013. 
  24. ^ Harrington, Austin, et al. 'Encyclopedia of Social Theory' Routledge (2006) p.50
  25. ^ Proudhon 1890.
  26. ^ Marx 1969, Chapter VII
  27. ^ Goldman 2003, p. 283
  28. ^ Goldman, Emma. Anarchism and Other Essays. 3rd ed. 1917. New York: Dover Publications Inc., 1969., p. 54.
  29. ^ Goldman, Emma. Anarchism and Other Essays. 3rd ed. 1917. New York: Dover Publications Inc., 1969.pg. 54
  30. ^ "Conversation with Noam Chomsky, p. 2 of 5". Globetrotter.berkeley.edu. Retrieved August 16, 2011. 
  31. ^ Lindemann, Albert S. 'A History of European Socialism' Yale University Press (1983) p.160
  32. ^ Ely, Richard et al. 'Property and Contract in Their Relations to the Distribution of Wealth' The Macmillan Company (1914)
  33. ^ Socialism: Utopian and Scientific at Marxists.org
  34. ^ Frederick Engels (1910). Socialism: Utopian and Scientific. C.H. Kerr. pp. 92–11. Chapter III: Historical Materialism
  35. ^ Cuba: Historical Exception or Vanguard in the Anticolonial Struggle?.  speech by Che Guevara on April 9, 1961 "The people are weary of being oppressed, persecuted, exploited to the maximum. They are weary of the wretched selling of their labor-power day after day — faced with the fear of joining the enormous mass of unemployed — so that the greatest profit can be wrung from each human body, profit later squandered in the orgies of the masters of capital." - Che Guevara, Marxist revolutionary, 1961
  36. ^ Friedrich Pollock, "State Capitalism: Its Possibilities and Limitations", Studies in Philosophy and Social Science, IX, 2 (1941), 200-255.
  37. ^ Tony Cliff, State Capitalism in Russia (1955)

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]