Kansas City IMC : http://kcindymedia.org/mod/comments/display/10999/index.php
Kansas City IMC

Re: JOIN THE PROTEST - WalMart High Cost...


Thanks for your reply! You’re making me think that there are some reasonable people in KC ;) I’m glad.

>>There are certainly problems with democracy, but I think you'll agree it's better than the dictatorship in the Soviet Union.<<

I’ve thought a lot about that – well, actually about democracy versus monarchy (which, except for the “divine ordinance” part, would be about the same thing -- for the purposes of this discussion anyway). I don’t want to give you the wrong idea – I don’t like either one of them -- but I’m not sure I can say which I think would be better: I mean, on the face of it, it would seem like a dictatorship/monarchy could force _all_ the people to submit to the will of a single ruler. But, in reality, that’s not the way it goes.

Like all governments, the ruling party’s power depends upon the consent of the subjects/citizens. I know the concept of government’s power as coming from “the consent of the governed” is a relatively modern idea, but in reality, that’s the way it has always been: At some point, military power (or the faith of the populous in the divinity of their king) isn’t enough to effectively resist an uprising. Once dissent grows beyond this level, the ruling party’s power is no longer secure. The “injuries and usurpations” (to borrow from one of the most radical, pro-revolutionary documents ever published) may get pretty bad before enough people find them intolerable enough to rise up against power; but at some point, this does become a threat – a deterrent of sorts, which keeps the power of the ruler restrained to some degree.

In a dictatorship, there’s the potential for a lot more people to be oppressed; but one need only overthrow the dictator to elicit a change in power. In a democracy on the other hand, the number of oppressed citizens can only go as high as 50%; but it’s a lot harder to overthrow a voting majority than it is to overthrow a dictator. In a democracy, the oppressive force is far more stable – to the point of being virtually unrestrained in its power. Though the percentage of people who can be oppressed by their ruler in a dictatorship is higher; the intensity of the oppression brought down by the ruling class in a democracy is virtually without bounds.

It’s a tough call; but as I said, I don’t like either of those options.

>>If government dictorship is bad, then so is the dictatorship seen in the structure of corporations.<<

There’s a distinct difference, though: No one can be forced to submit to the will of a corporation. They can’t tax you. They can’t throw you in prison. They can’t even make you shop in their stores! To compare a corporation’s power to the power of government – well, they’re worlds apart; and not just as a matter of degree, but as a matter of substance.

Now, again, I can’t seriously sit here & defend corporate power. Corporations are the creation of governments – they are as isolated from the will of the people as they are because the government sells them protection in the form of a “corporate license”, which limits the liability of the owners to the amount of their investments. I’m a free-market capitalist, which means that I want absolutely no government involvement in the economy. Meanwhile, the corporate license is very likely the single-biggest government intrusion into the economy! Corporations wouldn’t exist in a true free market…which is why it makes me laugh whenever anyone says, “if we had free markets, corporations would rule the world”. Too funny. (Please note that I’m not talking about what the Republicans call a “free” market, which is a really fucked-up doublespeak way of saying, “a market regulated the way we want it regulated”. There’s nothing free about what they call “free” trade.)

Still, the government (even a democratic one), can take away your house & give it to a WalMart. The government can say they think you’re a terrorist, and throw you in jail without ever telling anyone where you are. The government can pass a law that says you can’t be open for business during Thanksgiving; or that you can’t sell beer on Sunday; or that you have to join the army & go off to war. All a business (even a corporation) can do is ask you to buy their products.

Besides, I don’t know whether it’s accurate to describe corporate structure as “dictatorial”. Public corporations are owned by stockholders, who vote to elect a board of directors. That sounds pretty democratic to me. In fact, it’s so democratic, that the Progressives of the 1930’s, while working to break up the “trusts”, longed to model government after the same integrated & efficient system of management that they saw at work in the corporations of the day.

>>What led me to anarchism is the idea of localized democracy. Keep shrinking the number of people who have a say in something to those most affected by it. That may come all the way down to one individual, thus anarchism. <<

Exactly :)

>>[re: sustaining relative equality in spending power] democracy in the workplace. It's no guarantee that everyone will be paid the same, but if the CEO's salary is determined by the employees instead of the other way around, you're much more likely to have more even pay scales. <<

I’m not sure you would. The employees would still have to be offering enough to attract competent management…unless you’re talking about forced labor, which I don’t think you are.

Besides, the problem with that system is inherent: A manager’s role is to look after the well-being of the company – to make sure that it stays in business, which, in turn, makes sure that the employees have jobs. Sometimes, what’s best for the business (i.e., “the collective”) isn’t necessarily the same as what’s best for the employees. (Sometimes not even the majority of employees.)

If the employees control the manager’s pay, I’m assuming they control his or her hiring/firing as well; thus they exercise control over the manager’s decisions. A manager might not be able to make decisions that a majority of employees don’t like, even if doing so is in the best-interest of the business as a whole. In a system like that, businesses wouldn’t stay in business too long; unemployment would be high. Efficiency (in terms of labor and materials) would take a back-seat to the desires of the majority of the employees; and thus resource allocation would suffer. (Inefficiency, by definition, means that resources aren’t being used as effectively as they could be to produce the things we want/need.)

Let’s say a manager knew of a new automated assembly system that could improve productivity, reduce costs, and make the company more competitive. However, it would also make 30% of the current employees unnecessary. No way a worker-run business would go for that; though doing so would make for a more efficient use of resources – the labor power of that 30% of employees would be freed-up for use somewhere else in the economy. They could be producing goods that otherwise wouldn’t have been produced before, thus fulfilling the wants/needs of a larger percentage of the population. (As a bonus, this would cause the price of this newly-created “bumper crop” of goods come down, making them more accessible to those with less spending power.)

It’s hard to see sometimes, but inefficiency hurts those with less spending power. It’s true that, in the short-run, some workers are hurt by no longer being needed in their current jobs; and it’s important to remember that. But in the end, once those laborers are working somewhere else in the economy, more goods are being produced than were being produced before, and more of the needs & desires of the society are being met.

I honestly believe that the free-market capitalist model is the one that results in the most efficient use of resources; and its increases in the efficiency of resources use that makes goods & services more accessible, and creates a higher standard of living for everyone.

Now, please don’t compare the system we have here today to the system I’m talking about trying to create. The two have almost nothing in common. Government intrusion into the economy is rampant. $300 Billion in corporate welfare last year alone; not to mention (again) the issue of limited liability protections…and the list goes on & on. Most of the anti-social tendencies of corporate businesses are made possible by the limited liability the government extends them. What we have today is more akin to “mercantilism” than “free-market capitalism”. I think it sucks too.

>> what if the current employees of a corporation want to make it a democratic one? Who prevents that from happening? The government.<<

I’m not sure I know what you mean – how the government prevents this from happening – but that’s irrelevant to what I’m saying anyway. (I’d still like to find out, though.)

I didn’t make myself very clear; but what I was talking about was, in an anarcho-capitalist system, there would be nothing preventing you from running a democratic workplace. The problems I mentioned above might make it unsuccessful, but there’s certainly nothing preventing you from trying. (Hell, I even hope you’d succeed! I’d love to see a business whose employees were enlightened enough to run the business competitively. There’s nothing anti-capitalist about that at all.)

>> I'm not going to force democracy on you, but if the majority of the employees in your company want democracy, then the government should not be allowed to prevent them.<<

Amen. ;)

>> I know you're going to say, "Whoa man, this violates the capitalist's Rand-given property rights!" Well, there are no rights but the rights a society deems necessary for the well-being of its people.<<

:) Actually, I’m going to surprise you: I completely agree with you. (As I’ve said, I think you guys have let the Republicans fool you into thinking that what they’re doing is “capitalism”. It’s not. It’s mercantilist bullshit, and I’m as opposed to it as you are.)

In my mind, rights are exactly what you said they are: Those things that we _need_ to extend people the freedom to do, in order to make society work. It all starts with the right to life (…not in the sense of the abortion debate – that’s a completely different story!) We have the right to life because, like all animals, we have a strong biological instinct to survive. You can’t ask somebody to ignore that instinct. It’s really hard to do. If society were based on rules that prevented people from sustaining their own lives, it wouldn’t last too long. Thus: the right to life.

The right to liberty follows from that: I need to be free to do the things I need to do in order to sustain my life. Again, a society that restricts liberty beyond that point is a society that’s doomed to fail. (A true democracy is a good example – Let’s say there’s three of us in the society. We’re all hungry, but don’t have any food to eat, so we take a vote & decide that YOU’RE LUNCH! In a true democracy, this would be perfectly acceptable…which is why a true democracy would never work as a sustainable society: There’d never be any peace – people would never willingly submit to such an intense restriction of their liberty – and that wouldn’t make for a very stable society.

Property is the other half of the “sustaining life” equation: You can’t be sure of your own survival, if you don’t have the right to obtain & secure the things you need to survive. Consider how widespread the problem of stealing and hording rations was during the (inevitable) famine in the early Soviet Union. People don’t give up their right to property when it’s infringed so far as to call into question their ability to sustain their life. Thus, the right to property. (There’s another argument that could be made, showing how a right to property stems from our right to liberty, but I think this one is sufficient on its own.)

…and, by the way, I personally think Rand is kind’a silly. I’m not a Randian, or, as I like to call them, “Randroids” – most of them just repeat the dogma; instead of actually thinking for themselves…kind’a like so many of the people in the Indymedia community, unfortunately.

There's a pretty good (I think) discussion thread about the source of rights on the Bureaucrash site, if you're interested. I'll link to it here:


(...please realize that a couple of the "Randroids" I mentioned have posted to that thread; one in particular w/ screen-name "jason_somer". I think I handled him pretty well, but keep in mind that his view is far from the majority view within libertarian circles; and even further from it in anarcho-capitalist circles. He's a jackass.)

So, do you still believe that I’m thinking of anarchism as an end in itself?



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