Re: Capitalism, Private Property, etc (was Re: Sweatshops)

From: Michael Lorrey (
Date: Thu Apr 19 2001 - 07:17:05 MDT

Travas Gunnell wrote:
> --- Michael Lorrey <> wrote:
> > Mark Walker wrote:
> > > >
> > > > Show me one good reason why the community should
> > own my computers.
> > > >
> > > You're switching gears on me Michael. Your
> > original position was that there
> > > was an inherent contradiction in socialism, but
> > now it seems that you are
> > > saying (merely) that there is no good reason for
> > socialism.
> >
> > The contradiction is that socialism decries the fact
> > that the
> > corporation siphons a part of the laborers
> > productive output to pay
> > management and capital, as if this confiscation is
> > some sort of
> > injustice. It then goes on to presume that it is
> > perfectly alright for
> > society to confiscate the productive output of the
> > laborer. The best
> > arguments it can make for such confiscation hinge on
> > 'repaying the past
> > generations' for the labor they invested in the
> > current infrastructure,
> > while they ignore that this is the ENTIRE purpose
> > for which the cost of
> > capital serves. Is this clear enough?
> It is clear that you not only don't "understand them
> [the ideas of anarchism] far better than the poor
> individuals who wrote that page", you don't even
> understand the most basic precepts of anarchism. From
> the introduction of the FAQ:
> ----
> However, the meanings of words change over time. Today
> "socialism" almost always refers to state socialism, a
> system that all anarchists have opposed as a denial of
> freedom and genuine socialist ideals. All anarchists
> would agree with Noam Chomsky's statement on this
> issue:
> "If the left is understood to include 'Bolshevism,'
> then I would flatly dissociate myself from the left.
> Lenin was one of the greatest enemies of socialism."
> ["Anarchism, Marxism and Hope for the Future", Red and
> Black Revolution, no. 2]
> Anarchism developed in constant opposition to the
> ideas of Marxism, social democracy and Leninism. Long
> before Lenin rose to power, Mikhail Bakunin warned the
> followers of Marx against the "Red bureaucracy" that
> would institute "the worst of all despotic
> governments" if Marx's state-socialist ideas were ever
> implemented. Indeed, the works of Stirner, Proudhon
> and especially Bakunin all predict the horror of state
> Socialism with great accuracy. In addition, the
> anarchists were among the first and most vocal critics
> and opposition to the Bolshevik regime in Russia.
> -----
> Requoting from my original post (which you obviously
> didn't read):
> ---
> B.3.1 What is the difference between private property
> and possession?
> Anarchists define "private property" (or just
> "property," for short) as state-protected monopolies
> of certain objects or privileges which are used to
> exploit others. "Possession," on the other hand, is
> ownership of things that are not used to exploit
> others (e.g. a car, a refrigerator, a toothbrush,
> etc.). Thus many things can be considered as either
> property or possessions depending on how they are
> used. For example, a house that one lives in is a
> possession, whereas if one rents it to someone else at
> a profit it becomes property. Similarly, if one uses a
> saw to make a living as a self-employed carpenter, the
> saw is a possession; whereas if one employs others at
> wages to use the saw for one's own profit, it is
> property.
> While it may initially be confusing to make this
> distinction, it is very useful to understand the
> nature of capitalist society. Capitalists tend to use
> the word "property" to mean anything from a toothbrush
> to a transnational corporation -- two very different
> things, with very different impacts upon society.
> ----
> In other words, the "community" won't "own" your
> computers unless you give your computers away.

I've read the 'anarchist FAQ' several times. This 'qualification'
delineating 'posession' from 'property' still follows the contradiction
I point out: that the state or the community can confiscate the output
of the individual's labor when it is in excess of what that individual
needs to survive. If I save up money to buy a second house which I then
rent out to others, I am utilizing the fruit of my own labor.
Confiscating the fruits of that labor, preventing me from investing my
savings thusly, is slavery.

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