Re: Private Property and Capitalism

Suresh Naidu (
Thu, 10 Oct 1996 23:15:47 -0400 (EDT)

Okay, okay, I though some people wanted this thread to die, so I switched
it over to private e-mail...but, if the rest of the list is interested,
than okay.....
But, I'm getting three messages, each longer than the first, in reply,
each one of you are addressing points that I'd like to address as well,
but I am a student, and I don't have time..So please forgive the brevity
of my answers.

Suresh Naidu
occaisonal student
math 1a, computer science

Ask not what your brand name can do for you,
but what you can do for your brand name.

On Thu, 10 Oct 1996, David Musick wrote:

> On Tuesday, October 8, 1996, Suresh Naidu wrote several things which I have
> questions about. His statements are in quotes, and my questions and comments
> (mostly comments) follow each quote:
> "My point is that competition cannot help worker conditions, nor can it
> eliminate the authoritarian nature of business."
> Why can't competition help worker conditions? A worker is someone with a
> commodity to sell, namely, their labor. The factory owner or any other
> employer is in the market for labor; they wish to purchase labor. Just as you
> would likely buy a product for the lowest price possible, the employer will
> look for people who will sell their labor for the lowest price that gives the
> employer the highest quality of work they can get for that price. So there is
> a competition among the workers to see who can provide the highest quality
> labor at the lowest price, just as there is a competition between businesses
> to provide the highest quality products at the lowest price.
> But there are a limited number of workers, especially workers who perform
> high quality labor. So there is a competition among employers to attract the
> high quality workers to work for them, rather than someone else. So, they
> offer higher wages then their competitors, to attract the better workers.
> Thus, the competition between workers holds their wages down, while the
> competition between employers for high quality labor tends to raise the wages.
> But, of course, only the workers who are willing to train themselves to
> perform high-quality labor will benefit from this competition between
> employers.
> So, you're right, I suppose; workers who produce shoddy work will not benefit
> from competition, just as businesses who produce shoddy products will not
> benefit from competition. But, and this is very important, people who take
> the time and effort to develop their skills and talents, to better themselves
> and produce high-quality labor and products, WILL benefit from competition.
> People will tend to purchase the products and labor that they offer, rather
> than from someone else. I don't imagine that you deliberately buy inferior
> products at nearly the same price as much higher-quality products. Nor do I
> think you would hire some slothful, sloppy worker who charged as much as a
> very skilled, energetic worker. It is because humans demand quality that the
> system you bemoan exists. And it is because humans demand quality that we
> progress at all.

You are correct when dealing with a high-level industry, such as computer
software. However, in low-skill menial labour, which is usually allocated
to people based on geography or class, not skill. There is a limit to the
number of carpets people can put out in a day. Most of our crap jobs are
given to people in other lands, imposed on them by businesses that buy the
land out from underneath people by striking deals with whatever authority
is already in place. Then they put the people in a state of serfdom.
Businesses don't need to have any respect for the low end producers, just
the high end consumers. Look at the clothing industry.
Even in high tech, there is severe disparity in wages. Some
software companies import top-notch indian programmers, keep them in
"software sweatshops" and pay them INDIAN wages. That strikes me as
grossly unfair, because more highly educated and skilled people are being
manipulated by sleazy managers.

> Remember that our ancestors had little more than rocks, sticks, dirt and
> other plants and animals to use. This was all they had available to them,
> until innovative people started using those resources to create something
> better for themselves. All our technology and wealth, beyond what our distant
> ancestors had, exists because humans created it. Don't expect that workers
> will have any thing more than our ancestors did, unless they earn it. They
> must put forth the effort and create their own wealth, they can't expect that
> those who do create wealth are going to just share it with them. They need to
> provide competitive labor and products, just like all the people who built
> this great enterprise of Civilization have done.
> Civilization was not built by slackers who moaned about the unfairness of the
> world. It was built by people who were willing to improve themselves and
> provide better services and products than others could. It was built by
> people who were willing to put themselves in competition with others, to see
> who could provide the best work and products, by people continually building
> the self-discipline to compete successfully. If some people aren't willing to
> do this, then they don't deserve any more than our ancestors had, because if
> our ancestors hadn't done all the work they did, they would never have had all
> the wealth they created. If people aren't up to the competition, then maybe
> you could throw them scraps from the table of success, but to sit around that
> table they must pull themselves off the floor, with their own effort and their
> own self-discipline. They must earn the right to sit around the table and
> enjoy wealth with the others who have earned the right to it.
> The Capitalist System is not some sort of magic milk machine with teats
> sticking out all over for every freeloader to suck on. It was never meant to
> take care of anyone. The Capitalist System arises because people have things
> they want to sell to each other. One person may build good huts while another
> is good at hunting or growing food, so they make an agreement with each other
> to exchange services. That is all it is. It is simply people trading what
> they have for something else they want. People sell to the highest bidder and
> buy things for as little as possible. To profit from this system of trading,
> you must be competitive with the others engaged in it. Those who can't be
> competitive simply won't find people who are willing to make an agreement to
> trade with them. And there is no reason to expect that anyone *should* trade
> with them, if what they offer is much worse than what others offer. You
> wouldn't buy rotten apples from someone when the person next to them is
> selling fresh apples for nearly the same price.
> The Capitalist System cannot be expected to save Humanity, especially not
> from it's own stupidity and laziness. These are just the hard facts of
> reality. People won't buy inferior products, when better ones are as
> available. Therefore, only the people who can provide better products
> (including labor) than others will be able to secure a trade with others for
> what they have to offer. People have to look out for themselves in this
> world; they can't expect others to just take care of them, especially if they
> have little to offer in return.

Okay, call me one of those crazy idealists, but what about if people
worked to better each other rather than only themsleves. Science
innovations could be shared by the entire commune. Everybody is working
for the benefit of all. I think cooperation can produce the
best item for the lowest price, simply because everyone contributes what
they can. Of course, this requires a bit of social conscience, but I'm
hoping we as a species get out of this greed rut and into something

> Yes, there is a great deal of "unfairness" within reality. But that is
> simply a result of reality not being uniform. Reality will never be fair; all
> we can do is just do the best we can with the resources we have available to
> us. This has always been true, even before humans evolved.

When other humans make it unfairer is what gets me

> >>>
> "What I propose is this:Anarcho-syndicalism, as advocated by Rudolf
> Rocker and Noam Chomsky, souped up into a hi-tech version by yours truly.
> Private property is abolished, as the only way to hold
> private property is by right of force, and since there is no need for a
> government to keep people in check, that would be abolished as well. Most
> crime comes from poverty, and the rest can easily be dealt with by
> citizens. Okay, ask me questions."
> ...
> "equal access to resources
> to do with as you will, provided it doesn't harm
> anyone else's access or human rights. This needs
> some elaboration, which I will provide if asked."
> Are you serious about abolishing private property? Do you think everyone has
> a right to the work of others? Lets say I spend a great deal of time and
> energy building a house to live in. Since you are advocating abolishing
> private property, this would mean that after all my work, I most likely
> wouldn't even get to sleep in the house since there are so many people out
> there who would just love to sleep in my house for me. People who don't want
> to build their own houses would just wait for others to build houses and then
> just move in when they're done. The builders of the houses would never get a
> place of their own, they would realize that continuing to build houses was
> futile, since they'd never get to live in one, unless they forcefully kept
> others from invading their work.
> Or what about a farmer? They spend long hours each day tending their fields.
> Are you really suggesting that everyone else should be allowed to just come
> in like a swarm of locusts and take that food and not give the farmer anything
> in return? If so, then why would people want to farm? They could just let
> other people do it and then take the food from them when it's ready.
> What sort of resources are you suggesting we allow everyone equal access to?
> My computer is a resource which I spent many months paying for with my labor.
> Are you suggesting I invite the whole neighborhood over to use it? When would
> I get a chance? If everyone is supposed to have equal access to every
> resource, then it would be very difficult to make anything. If someone was
> making a pot out of clay, for example, then the clay they're using is fair
> game for anyone else to come along and take from them, since it's a resource,
> even if they're in the middle of using it to make the pot. Are you *really*
> suggesting that they allow people to just take their work from them, rather
> than block equal access to resources?

No, people would all need to do something, but there is an
element of compassion and interdependence. The farmer supports the builder
of houses with
food, while the builder of houses builds for the farmer, who possibly has
enough to support a computer engineer, who would help hook the houses up
to the net. It is mutual cooperation, instead of feeding parasites.
Everybody puts their produce towards each other, without wanting
than they need. Of course, as the technology level increases, the general
level of everybody will increase, until humanity has fulfilled the
extropian vision of ascension. Cooperation would work so much better than
competition, because you get much more voluntary work.

> >>>
> "Unless (gasp) the workers ran the mill themselves. Operating a mill
> better tends to mean "how much wages can I take away without reducing the
> output of my workers. "
> If the workers really *can* run the mill themselves, then why don't they get
> together and decide to do just that? Why can't a group of people all agree
> together to run a business? Most likely, the workers are not competent to run
> the mill themselves or are not capable of working together effectively enough
> to run a mill that can compete with other ones. If it was more profitable to
> run a mill where every worker runs the thing together, on equal footing, then
> it would out-compete the ones which don't use this strategy.
> By the way, an increasing number of businesses are realizing that they do
> better when the employees have feedback into how the business is run, and
> they're using strategies such as profit-sharing to give their employees a real
> interest in helping the company do better. If these ways of doing business
> are more profitable than other ways, then eventually, there *will* be
> businesses that are run by the workers.

My eventual goal, after university(nobody told me it would be this
difficult!), is to start a software co-op.

> Suresh, I know you haven't explained your ideas in any detail, so I don't
> wish to attack them, since I'm unclear on what they really are. But what
> you've given so far, about not allowing private property and allowing equal
> access to resources doesn't make any sense to me, for the reasons I indicated
> above. Please explain your ideas in more detail; put them forth into the
> memetic competition, and let them be tested. Give us equal access to the
> resources of your mind and stop hoarding your ideas from us, after all you
> don't own your own mind, that would be private property. :-)
My fundamental moral principle is that all forms of coercion are bad,
government and private property are pretty much the two biggest forms of
coercion I can think of. You know about government coercion, but who backs
up your right to property if not government. You and your superior
firepower. Blatant application of force.

See above, but I can recommend some of the reading I draw on to formulate
my views.

Noam Chomsky, definitely on my most admired list.
If who want a quick synopsis, the Chomsky Reader is a good summary.

Rudolf Rockers "Anarcho-syndicalism"

Mikhail Bakunin

emma goldman
Various activist magazines. When one learns of the injustices perpetuated
within capitalism, one learns to hate it with a passion.

> - David Musick