I’m sure many of you have seen this debate many times … and to be honest, I’m bored of hearing it … SO in an effort to end the debate, I’m hoping this post will arm you with the definitive argument which ends all rebuke.
I’ll use an example from a discussion on Reddit, but this reply should work for pretty much any such debate on this topic with a little adjustment … this is just one of the more common debate points you’ll see, which is replied to in such a way as to end not only the specific argument, but the entire debate.
Here is the original argument posted on Reddit (sub-reddit: CapitalismVSocialism):
In case there’s any trouble reading it from the image, it says:
“If surplus value exists, then …” (spelled “than” by the illiterate poster) “… socialist organisations must be able to EASILY outcompete all capitalist companies”
NOW … before I show you the further explanation by the poster and then my reply, I just want to say that if you’re my friend on social media, I hope you can see what’s wrong with their premise already, beyond the spelling mistake.
BUT ALSO, let’s just deconstruct and summarise this for ourselves:
- Surplus value means what?
- after paying staff the LEAST they can get away with paying them;
- after giving customers the least they can get away with giving them;
- after exploiting the greatest amount of resources they can get their hands on;
- after taking the least responsibility possible for the ecological & social consequences of that resource exploitation;
- surplus is what the “owners” take home, without having to necessarily work a single day in that business, and in the case of some company types, without any liability beyond the loss of their shares, no matter the scale and scope of ecological & social consequences caused by the company’s actions.
- assuming communism & socialism could actually coexist within a capital based system (aka capitalism, and thus an oxymoron);
- surplus is what the workers take home, as they are now the owners;
- Socialist Organisations:
- clearly the implication here is that these so called “socialist organisations” are merely socialist versions of capitalist ones, as seen in the next point;
- to the contrary, the reality is that most communist & socialist organisations are political & not commercial in nature, as they operate from inside a dominating system that is not congruent with their own principles … they’re like a seed trying to germinate from inside a large rock with no light, warmth nor water;
- Out-compete capitalist companies:
- following from above, in order for a socialist organisation to out-compete a capitalist one from inside a capitalist framework, it would have to (at first) at least be a commercial organisation as opposed to a political one;
- ignoring the oxymoron of a communist-socialist-capitalist hybrid organisation for a moment, the other problems here are the economic barriers to market entry, and the inherently biased, corrupt & predatory nature of that competitive marketplace … ie – it is no kind of level playing field whatsoever.
So with these things in mind, here’s how they clarified their own initial post:
Again if there’s any difficulty reading the image, it says:
“If socialism is true, then a socialist organisation should be able to out-compete any capitalist organisation, because it has ostensibly dispensed with the exploitative owner, whom is no longer able to extract surplus value.
Instead that surplus value can be diverted to both paying workers more and lowering prices, which will mean that the best workers will want to work at the socialist organisation, and consumers will want the cheaper goods more than anyone else’s.
The fact that it isn’t happening is a problem with socialist theory that it apparently cannot explain, and another bit of inductive evidence that [a] socialist organisation can never produce as much as capitalist ones.
Before modern capitalism the world had less than 1 billion people, today it’s over 7 billion. Do you realise that because socialism cannot produce as much as capitalism that if world socialism were instituted, some fraction of living humanity must therefore die?”
OK … I hope again you don’t need my explanations of what is wrong with all this, and I find it scary to think people as stupid as this are so common … but let’s just break it all down once again.
Ok, let’s just do this in point form again, answering to each new claim in turn (I will try to avoid repeating what’s already been said too much):
- Dispensing with the exploitative owner:
- If workers don’t presently HAVE the economic power required to set aside months or years for planning, while continuing to support themselves and families on lower incomes where they don’t get to “hire help” but instead have to do pretty much everything themselves … not to mention gaining access to the further resources required to design & build such manufacturing (which can only come from those whom already control those resources & have a vested interest ot to give them);
- Youre basically arguing that they somehow instantly manifest all this stuff … please explain that before expecting anyone to have an answer to your assertion … because until you do, your assertion is invalid;
- Diverting surplus value:
- How do we do that if we can’t dispense with the owner?
- This is why communist & socialist organisations are political not commercial, as they cannot even gain entry to the market to even attempt what you’re saying;
- But you’re also arguing that once they enter the market (assuming they can), that the entire rest of the playing field is level, and it’s just one system against another … what utterly ridiculous nonsense!
- Workers and consumers changing choices:
- See above, where is that choice? They’re not even being offered the chance to make it, and it’s a monumental effort to make that change from inside the status quo, so it would take vastly more resources to get started than any other equivalent new organisation, because it isn’t a level playing field for new paradigms (as you suggest it is to the contrary);
- Can’t explain:
- Can & just did, despite your entire case being a straw man argument;
- Population increase & supply of goods:
- You’re getting the achievements of capitalism mixed up with the achievements of SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY … capitalism has not invented a single thing you’re taking credit for here … science is responsible for 100% of all technology, and not one single valid science (economics is not one, it’s a joke) is based on ANY principles of capitalism … ie – if you remove capitalism from the world, there is not one single scientific theorem that changes, not one single piece of technology that ceases functioning, and not one single thing that couldn’t have also been achieved by science under ANY alternative system, so long as that system provides the resources required … science doesn’t care one iota where the resources came from, it just uses them;
Your argument essentially comes down to one single fallacy:
That the coexistence of capitalism and scientific discovery is anything other than completely coincidental. Capitalism has discovered nothing of value whatsoever … just like religion & hierarchical government, it is one thing only … a system of control.
NOW … my own reply on Reddit was as follows:
Again to aid reading:
“With all due respect and courtesy to the poster (I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt that your post was written in good faith and not disingenuously):
your premise is false because it assumes no entrenchment of the status quo, and an otherwise level playing field … and is thus a straw-man argument not requiring a reply beyond that simple observation;
this is pretty typical of pretty much every single argument ever put forward in defence of capitalism … I’m yet to see any exceptions;
the only valid critique of the principles of communism and socialism that I can see, are that:
they [communism and socialism] cannot coexist with any property/trade/currency-based economics, as the two sets of principles [capitalism vs. communism/socialism] are mutually exclusive … ie – ALL property/trade/currency-based economics IS capitalism, so you can have slightly communist (sharing) and socialist (caring) flavoured versions of capitalism, but there’s no such thing (nor ever has been) a purely communist nor socialist nation in which any form of capital (property/trade/currency) exists … as the moment these things exist, you therefore have some form or another of capitalism.
In fact, no nation named “communist” has ever actually been a remotely communist nation, and capitalists either understand that and are arguing disingenuously, or they don’t know it and they’re arguing ignorantly. All the examples you know (USSR, East Germany, China, etc.) were all dictatorships … and the principles of dictatorship are mutually exclusive with both communism and socialism, hence they cannot coexist, and thus if you have a dictatorship, you do not have communism or socialism. [Though as per previous comments, you may possibly have a slightly communist or socialist flavoured dictatorship].
These are self-evident and inarguable facts, regardless of what anyone says to the contrary … and I’m stunned more people don’t see these basic truths and aren’t embarrassed to argue against them … but hey, that’s people for you, they get taught something, then their brain switches off all further analysis as it becomes a “belief”.
IF you want to argue that communism and socialism cannot work, your argument stands in direct contradiction to every known fact about evolutionary biology, behavioural psychology, and the intra/inter-species symbiosis of every single ecosystem on the planet dating back millions of years … put simply, you would not even exist, nor would any other multicellular organism, nor would any ecosystems exist, if your statements had any factual basis. Such statements also completely contradict a great deal of the anthropological studies of our own species.
- If you want to see a society that is truly caring (socialist);
- If you want to see a society that is truly sharing (communist);
- If you want to see a society of abundance & plenty (non-debt);
- If you want to see a society of sustainability (non-scar city);
- If you want to see a society of beauty (inner & outer);
- If you want to see a society of justice (non-biased);
- If you want to see a society of high technology (science based);
- … and you want these things SIMULTANEOUSLY …
… there’s only 1 viable answer without first requiring: all people agree at the outset and work together forgetting all past grudges & ideological differences (which I personally think is highly unlikely) …
AND THAT ANSWER is in a society of:
- heart (empathy) & science (reason) based;
- non-hierarchical (anarchic);
LAW ECONOMICS AND POLITICS.
… and for which purpose: I give you Open Empire.