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In my Macroeconomics class today, the teacher allowed a 30-minute session for students to debate on the topic of incentives. We started talking about the feasiability of socialism and one kid remarked "Communism is not possible in real life because it does not provide incentives for anyone to work." The other kids kinda nodded in agreement at this.

Well, being the commie that I am, this irked me to no end because it's a commonly uttered line amongst capitalists that is often stated but never supported. People just say it and then that stops the debate right there because people seem to have a pre-programmed "Oh yeah, that's right" reaction and automatically agree without even thinking. I guess that's the power of having a hegemony on the education system.

Anyway, I cut in and said to the student, "Can you back that statement up? I heard you assert it, but what's your evidence?" He said, "Communism is about equal wages no matter what your job is. So if a teacher gets paid as much as a brain surgeon, what's your incentive to work?" At that point, I had to cut across because that was pure Cold War rhetoric baloney. I replied, "Equal "wages"? In philosophy, communism does not believe in wages in the first place, so how would there be "equal wages?" He stopped there and I went on, "In a communistic society, there are no wages because people keep the full value of their labor in the first place. For instance, if you work for 8 hours and you produced $500 in labor value, you get paid $500 because there is no boss whom part of the value must be funneled to. In a communistic society, what you get paid depends on how hard you work. The incentive is the same as the basic incentive of capitalism: if you want to live better, work harder. The fact that you mentioned wages shows you aren't talking about communism, you're talking state socialism."

He didn't answer after that, he just kind of nodded. So did some of the other classmates. After that, we went on talking about incentives based on property where I got into a conversation on public vs. private ownership. I've also seen popular unsupported assertions like, "Socialism is unrealistic because it expects everyone to be altruistic." I'm like, "Says who?"


That's one thing that tees me off about debates on economics, people often run on rhetoric and pay little attention to reality. People go on about how "good" capitalism is and how "brutal" socialism is completely oblivious to the fact that there are peaceful socialistic states like Scandanavia and brutal capitalist dictatorships like Zimbabwe, Zambia, Argentina and Liberia.
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I went on, "In a communistic society, there are no wages because people keep the full value of their labor in the first place. For instance, if you work for 8 hours and you produced $500 in labor value, you get paid $500 because there is no boss whom part of the value must be funneled to. In a communistic society, what you get paid depends on how hard you work. The incentive is the same as the basic incentive of capitalism: if you want to live better, work harder. The fact that you mentioned wages shows you aren't talking about communism, you're talking state socialism."



Have you ever worked on an assembly line? Some jobs on the line may be harder than others which may be difficult to judge, but otherwis you work as hard as the line makes you depending on the speed of the line. Some people may want the line to move faster and others want it to move slower. How can you work HARDER?

How do you compute the value of each person's contribution to the finished product coming off the line? What about the value of the machines used on the line? Your socialism is going to require people making price decisions and what system is going to be used to select those people? Socialism requires too much MAGIC.

umbra
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I hear ya, EP... But it's a common occurrence... The same thing happens for example when Christians claim Islam is a violent religion...


But mostly I find this phenomena in conservative/fundamentalist circles, where members are discouraged from questioning the "facts" that are presented and rewarded for rote recitation of, if not adherence to, the dogma.
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For instance, if you work for 8 hours and you produced $500 in labor value, you get paid $500 because there is no boss whom part of the value must be funneled to. In a communistic society, what you get paid depends on how hard you work.


I'm not sure I understand you, Empty: are you saying there are no wages in communism? Also, you say "you aren't talking about communism, you're talking state socialism", but then go on to call Scandinavia a socialistic state.

Perhaps we are just working from different beginnings. Can you please plainly state what your definition of socialism is,a nd then what your definition of communism is.

Exactly what is it you're supporting? Communism, socialism? Something else?
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Originally posted by UppityNegress:
I'm not sure I understand you, Empty: are you saying there are no wages in communism? Also, you say "you aren't talking about communism, you're talking state socialism", but then go on to call Scandinavia a socialistic state.


Communism, at least in it's original definition, is not state socialism. The original definition of communism (the one I was working with) is a stateless society with collective ownership and decision making. Communism is also supposed to be a postmonetary society, money doesn't exist in a communist society. Clearly, that hasn't occurred and was certainly not what was going on in the Soviet Union. The Soviet Union had what is called "state socialism" (a state goverment attempting to enact socialist measures).

There is an ideological split between Marxist socialists and Anarchist socialists. Marxists believe that socialism is a stage between capitalism and communism in which the goverment (consisting of the workers and running through direct democratic processes) guides the economy and society into a communist society. Anarchist socialists believe this stage is unneccessary and believe that government is inherently an exploitative class of management that takes money away from the workers. Anarchist socialists believe that a communist society can be evolved into without the aid of government; they believe a socialist society can run on direct democratic councils and decentralized networking.

Now when you talk about "wages in communism", I assume that you think I mean "communism" as in what the Soviet Union and China had. Many socialists then and to this day criticize it more as state capitalism than socialism. Instead of having a capital-owning class of managers owning labor like in a capitalist society, it was a government class owning industry and handing out wages according to what it said you needed.

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Perhaps we are just working from different beginnings. Can you please plainly state what your definition of socialism is,a nd then what your definition of communism is.


I just did above. Smile

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Exactly what is it you're supporting? Communism, socialism? Something else?


I'm a Pan-Africanist anarcho-socialist/syndicalist. But I have many Marxist leanings also. I support decentralized socialism.
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Originally posted by umbrarchist:
Have you ever worked on an assembly line? Some jobs on the line may be harder than others which may be difficult to judge, but otherwis you work as hard as the line makes you depending on the speed of the line. Some people may want the line to move faster and others want it to move slower. How can you work HARDER?


Well in jobs like that, I can see your point. Maybe you can work "longer" for more pay.

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How do you compute the value of each person's contribution to the finished product coming off the line?


How do you compute the value of a person's work in a capitalist system to guage how much to pay them per hour?

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What about the value of the machines used on the line? Your socialism is going to require people making price decisions and what system is going to be used to select those people? Socialism requires too much MAGIC.

umbra


Not at all (that last sentence is a rather broad accusation, there are many different types of socialism, not just mine). In a Socialist-Syndicalist system, price decisions are made pretty much the same way they are now. The only difference is, the price is determined by each company with coucil decision instead of executive decision. The people are trained to make price decisions with job training. That's why I think making accounting classes mandatory is a good idea.
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How do you compute the value of a person's work in a capitalist system to guage how much to pay them per hour?


They aren't concerned about the value of the work, what matters is the minimum they can offer the worker on the basis of supply and demand for labor. So the more desperate the workers are in competing for jobs the better for the capitalists. The capitalist intends to keep as much value as possible.

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The people are trained to make price decisions with job training. That's why I think making accounting classes mandatory is a good idea.


Now doesn't this make an unpredictable feedback loop. My intention of advocating mandatory accounting is so consumers behave differently. But if consumers alter their behavior that will affect what the businesses can sell, so that impacts their manufacturing and price decisions.

This is why the system is an interactive power game which is virtually impossible to manage. This socialism assumes these socialist managers are more competent and less corrupt than capitalist ones. It will become a bureaucracy of people playing office politics.

umbrarchist
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Originally posted by umbrarchist:
They aren't concerned about the value of the work, what matters is the minimum they can offer the worker on the basis of supply and demand for labor. So the more desperate the workers are in competing for jobs the better for the capitalists. The capitalist intends to keep as much value as possible.

umbra


Sounds like a pyrmaid scheme. Razz I'm not just saying that, that's the same logic that pyramid schemes use for incentives (except they offer no fixed income).

I say a communist business would actually produce more incentive to work than a capitalist business because salaries would be higher. On average, capitalist workers receive about 10% of their actual labor value. In a communist one, they would receive 100%.

Yes, human incentive is always important. What's more entycing than getting to "keep what you kill" so-to-speak?


A good example would be the Workers' Communes in Spain and Ukraine during the 1930's. The workers' communes that successfully ran an anarcho-communist society in Spain and Ukraine. The only reason they didn't last is because the commune in Spain was forcefully annexed by the Spanish fascist government backed by the Germans and the Italians. The Ukraine commune was absorbed by the powerful Soviet Union. Those workers' communes actually worked more productively in their short time than any capitalist system (even our own current one). That's incredible.

Neoliberal third world natons like Chile and Argentina have high economic growth due to Neoliberal "incentives" (which includes downsizing, low job security and low wages which keeps workers on the ragged bare edge of existence to encourage them to fight tooth and nail for raises and exploit one another to get paid more) causes this. Does that mean anything for the mass population? No. The economic growth is centralized in the hands of business owners and industrial elites (they keep costs down by paying workers less and increase profits by keeping 95% of the labor value capita). Then you have Social Democratic states like Sweden and Norway that have low GDP growth but high GNI and high Real GDP per capita.
[quote]On average, capitalist workers receive about 10% of their actual labor value. In a communist one, they would receive 100%./quote]

If they receive 100% of the value of their labor, am I correct in assuming that in an anarch-socialist state there are no compulsotroy taxes? If so, how do you propose people like the handicapped, elderly, ill, and orphans survive? What becomes of free public education, civil projects, and other state sponsored services which rely on taxes to pay the laborers?

Also, you say salaries would be higher in communist businesses, but if there is no centralized structure, what is to stop entrepeneurs from paying an extremely low "incentive" in exchange for a job. If I can get away with pying someone half of what I'm supposed to, what's my incentive to not do so, thus increasing my own profit? You can say workers will strike, but if every entrepeneurs gets this idea into their heads, there really won't be many alternatives. Unions can form, but then who regulates that union to stop them from becoming as greedy as the entrepeneurs. Would they not become a coercive force, then once you get unions and more bureacracy, it seems to start defeating one of the purposes of communism in the first place.

I can see communism or socialism working in small settings, but try to implement it on a national level and there's just way too much difficulty and becomes counterproductive when compared to capitalism. The fact that it has never in modern history succeeded on a national level seems to verify this.
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Originally posted by UppityNegress:
If they receive 100% of the value of their labor, am I correct in assuming that in an anarch-socialist state there are no compulsotroy taxes? If so, how do you propose people like the handicapped, elderly, ill, and orphans survive? What becomes of free public education, civil projects, and other state sponsored services which rely on taxes to pay the laborers?


In a Marxist socialist system with a democratically run government composed of the workers, they could be government-subsidized. With Syndicalism they could be funded by trade unionism.

You are right that the anarcho-socialist system has the hardest time answering this question. In a system with a very minimal government, the money could come from public federal reserves (like a public piggy-bank).

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Also, you say salaries would be higher in communist businesses, but if there is no centralized structure, what is to stop entrepeneurs from paying an extremely low "incentive" in exchange for a job. If I can get away with pying someone half of what I'm supposed to, what's my incentive to not do so, thus increasing my own profit? You can say workers will strike, but if every entrepeneurs gets this idea into their heads, there really won't be many alternatives.


How can an entrepreneurs pay low wages when they do not have control of wages? You are still thinking like a capialist. Razz No individual person "owns" business, so wages cannot be raised or lowered without consulting workers' councils first. No individual owns the business, they are all equally invested and thus their equal ownership cancels each other out. It's democracy pure and simple.

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Unions can form, but then who regulates that union to stop them from becoming as greedy as the entrepeneurs.


Labor laws.

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Would they not become a coercive force, then once you get unions and more bureacracy, it seems to start defeating one of the purposes of communism in the first place.


You're right, but I don't see how this can happen since unions can't buy out other businesses. Property is owned collectively.

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I can see communism or socialism working in small settings, but try to implement it on a national level and there's just way too much difficulty and becomes counterproductive when compared to capitalism. The fact that it has never in modern history succeeded on a national level seems to verify this.


State socialism DID succeed on a national level. Quite well actually. In the Soviet Union's 72 year-lifespan, it brought Russia from being a post-feudal society with absolute monarchy (it was where France was in the 1600's) to having half the GDP of the US, 2/3 of our nuke program and having a higher average Real GDP per capita than the US. Nobody can deny that the average Russian and the average Chinese lived better economically under state socialism than Neoliberal capitalism. This is nothing to scoff at.

Structurally, capitalism does not work as well as you are purporting it does. Look at Chile, Argentina, Colombia, Peru, Mexico, Niger, Ethiopia, Chad, Niger, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Indonesia, Mauritania and the Central African Republic. All shining examples of capitalist organization. 1% of society control and owns everything while everyone else is starving and fighting one another.

We can even look at the US where 40 million people have no health care, 40 million have inadequate care, bosses get paid 190 times what you get paid for doing a fraction of the work, and jobs are being outsourced and downsized everyday. The global economy has stagnated under laissez-faire capitalism (inflation has being skyrocketing since the 1960's), billionaires are multiplying like rabbits but the rest of us are fucked. The environment is in shambles and we're constantly fighting other countries for natural resources for the gain of corporations. You should really check out some articles on economic stagnation the more capitalistic Western nations become. The economy was safer under Social Democracy than it is now.

Wow, messianic capitalism to the rescue.

Let's compare that to countries with more socialist infrastructure like Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, Finland, Iceland, Denmark and the former Yugoslavia. The short-lived anarcho-communist societies set up in Ukraine and Spain produced more in their short life spans than ANY capitalist company town every built.

State socialism fell apart due to political reasons (Western aggression and a resurgent capital class due to privitization policies), not so much economic. State socialism is not neccessarily a bad idea, it had bad leaders and was tried in countries that were poor to begin with (but did miracles for their economy in a short time). I still think decentralized socialism in a rich first world country would operate better.
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Sounds like a pyrmaid scheme. Razz I'm not just saying that, that's the same logic that pyramid schemes use for incentives (except they offer no fixed income).

A good example would be the Workers' Communes in Spain and Ukraine during the 1930's. The workers' communes that successfully ran an anarcho-communist society in Spain and Ukraine. The only reason they didn't last is because the commune in Spain was forcefully annexed by the Spanish fascist government backed by the Germans and the Italians. The Ukraine commune was absorbed by the powerful Soviet Union. Those workers' communes actually worked more productively in their short time than any capitalist system (even our own current one). That's incredible.


Yes it's a Pyramid scheme. Bill Gates is currently at the top. I have a Linux book, copyright 2001, that talks about the planned obsolescence of computer software. Technology makes the society and the accounting much more complicated. Were those communes FARMS? Consumerism and planned obsolescence changes the entire game.

umbra
quote:
Originally posted by umbrarchist:
Yes it's a Pyramid scheme. Bill Gates is currently at the top. I have a Linux book, copyright 2001, that talks about the planned obsolescence of computer software. Technology makes the society and the accounting much more complicated.


That could actually work for the advantage of socialism (the part about techonology upgrading society). Many people complain that socialism eventually communism can exist on small scale, but not on large scale because it's so decentralized (if it's not an authoritarian form of socialism). I don't see why communism would not work on a large scale, we don't live in the days of Marx where people communicated by telegraph and rode cart horses and walked. Communism can work on a national scale with postmodern technology: mass networking, the Internet, mass media, etc.


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Were those communes FARMS? Consumerism and planned obsolescence changes the entire game.

umbra


Yes, but keep in mind this was the 1930's back when 70% or more of Europeans were farmers. It could work in an urban environment today with modern technology.

I don't see why planned obscelesence would be any more of a problem for socialism or communism than for capitalism. Marx pointed out (quite rightly) that socialism would work better in a highly advanced society with postmodern technology. Socialism is harder in areas with less technology due to the problem of mass communication between labor unions over long distances (direct democracy is easier with Internet mass networking).
Structurally, capitalism does not work as well as you are purporting it does. Look at Chile, Argentina, Colombia, Peru, Mexico, Niger, Ethiopia, Chad, Niger, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Indonesia, Mauritania and the Central African Republic. All shining examples of capitalist organization. 1% of society control and owns everything while everyone else is starving and fighting one another.

Are those countries in the state they are in because they are capitalist or because of other reasons like corruption,civil war, tribal/ethnic problems, ect ???

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