From topic: Right wing conservatives are evil? Well, I have evidence that they are.
Chiroptera responded to me:
Yes, and Medievel European society could not exist without a strong centralized Church. But European society moved beyond that and is much better for it. Medievel Japanese society could not exist without the warrior samurai class. But modern Japan has moved beyond that and is much better for it.
My response and the basis of this topic is:
What kind of society do you envision that we could move on to and how could it work if people didn't own things?
This is a reply to Chiroptera for a post in the other thread.
Chiroptera response to my question was
I don't understand your question. We both agree, it seems, that past societies were communist and that they worked pretty well.
Only in extremely small groups of people, maybe not much larger than 40 or 50 people, possibly smaller. And it was not a very high standard of living by modern standards and life was brutally short. Do you think it possible, short of some sort of huge human die off, that we would ever again have people living in small communes of related people, isolated from most everyone else?
Supply of what? Demand for what? For food? It hasn't been til modern times that we have had more than spotty excesses of food. Supply exceeding demand usually causes price drops and reductions in production until things balence out and prices can stabalize. But without property/money ( money is a sort of property ) that's kind of a moot point.
quote: nly in extremely small groups of people, maybe not much larger than 40 or 50 people, possibly smaller.
That's purely a communications bandwidth problem. The internet solved it.
quote: And it was not a very high standard of living by modern standards and life was brutally short.
Of course, but that is BECAUSE they had low technology, not BECAUSE they were organised on a communist basis.
quote: Do you think it possible, short of some sort of huge human die off, that we would ever again have people living in small communes of related people, isolated from most everyone else?
No - but then, that would be Communitarianism, not Communism.
quote: Supply of what? Demand for what?
quote: For food? It hasn't been til modern times that we have had more than spotty excesses of food.
Right. but it IS the modern day.
quote: Supply exceeding demand usually causes price drops and reductions in production until things balence out and prices can stabalize. But without property/money ( money is a sort of property ) that's kind of a moot point.
Yes, and shows manifest flaws in the system. Remember we are talking not about demand, but effective demand. Thus, during the infamous famine in Ireland, Ireland was a large exporter of grain to England. People were starving becuase they had no money, and thus did not exercise effective demand - despite the fact the food was there.
Human lives could have been saved, were it not for capitalism.
That vignette highlights how divorced the notions of property-based society are from real life as it is lived. Property relations have superceded human relations; indeed, property can be endowed with human rights in a perverse act of illogic. The economy is supposed to be a tool humans use to live in this world, but it has become both the means and the motive for vast quantities of human suffering.
This message has been edited by contracycle, 04-12-2005 10:59 AM
quote:And it was not a very high standard of living by modern standards and life was brutally short.
Yes, I agree, that if you measure the standard of life by how many people own gameboys and CD's and how cheap gasoline is, then our society has a pretty high standard of living. But is that really all there is to it? I was raised to believe that one's standard of living isn't measured by one material possessions.
And I agree that until recently life expectancy was short. In fact, it was slightly shorter than the current world average. But brutal? What do you mean brutal? And again, what place does quality of life play? Do you advocate quantity over quality?
At any rate, I read a lot of conversations between people who extol the advance of modern medicine, the conquest of traditional diseases, and how they would not want to live in a past age. Fair enough, but a fair question would also be: would someone living in a past age want to live in modern America? Why would you automatically assume so? I spent some time in a very poor African nation, where even the middle class, although supplied with all if it material needs, still lived in conditions that we affluent American would consider poverty. Yet it is common for people to come to the US to work for a while, but then once they see what American life is like voluntarily return home.
Again, your assumption that Western society and the Western lifestyle is automatically superior to all others is unfounded. You talk about "high standard of living" -- having spent time in another country and can compare how people live, I would say that your measure of "standard of living" does not include such things as community and well-developed social relationships. I can only assume that you are focusing on material goods, which is predictable for someone championing "property".
Although day to day living, people in hunter-gatherer and other types of societies lived in bands of at most about a couple of hundred people, there was far more interaction with neighboring groups than people realize. Trading networks extended over huge geographical areas, and the megalithic culture, I think, shows how complex such societies can really be. This idea that primitive peoples lived in "tribes" isolated from one another is a myth -- do you believe that they were any more isolated than, say, peasants living in Medievel Europe?
At any rate, I agree that true communism is not possible in a world with 6 billion people all squashed together. That is one more reason why I advocate a much, much smaller population.
At any rate, do you have any reason to believe that American society is superior to any others besides your own personal preference? What objective standards do you propose applying to compare them? Are there any objective standards at all? Furthermore, should your own preferences and comfort really justify a system that cannot exist without the povery that exists in your own coutry? Or the exploitation and enforced misery of the majority of the world's population?
Supply of food, shelter, clothing. Demand for food, shelter, clothing.
We are at a point (only over the last 50-60 years or so) where it is certainly reasonable to imagine such a situation. To achieve anything like that though we need to change the paradigm of how we approach the problems.
The barriers to such a scenario basically fall into four categories,
existence of the commodity
First is the existence of some commodity, food, shelter, energy, health care, knowledge. We are close to a state where it is technically possible for an abundence of all to be available. But this is a very, very recent change. For example, when I was born there were almost NO antibiotics. It was still likely that a simple cut would lead to death, that every summer I faced the very real possibility of getting polio, that child birth would lead to the mothers death.
The second area is communications. It's only been in the decade that we have had communications that were pervasive enough to even know where supply or demand existed beyond a very local area. As communications improves it will be possible to track both and to allocate resources as needed.
Knowing where resources are needed doesn't mean much if there is not a transportation system adequate to meet those needs. Again, in the last half century, we have seen a steady growth in transportation. When I was born there were no interstate highways, only limited air travel and commodity transportation tightly held by a few distributors like the Great White Fleet and the India Company.
Finally there is the issue of perception. This will likely be the greatest barrier. To make use of the things outlined above we need a major change in perception. We need a commitment to the idea of everyone having what is needed.
Editeded because the computer screwed up spallang.
This message has been edited by jar, 04-12-2005 10:34 AM
No, it was a "that's all the land would support without technology and/or farming" problem. Early societies were always scrambling around for food and lived nomadically. It wasn't until they started farming that they stayed in one spot and started creating civilizations.
I'm not sure what you mean when you talk about communism and what you define as property under communism.
What I meant by standard of living wasn't about property, but about availability of food, water, shelter, medical care and lifespan, though modern life can be less than ideal in other ways like crime, pollution, politicians :) and stress from being packed in too tight together.
Again, your assumption that Western society and the Western lifestyle is automatically superior to all others is unfounded.
I wasn't automatically saying that the western lifestyle is superior in any way (in fact I never even mentioned it), I was saying that true communism hasn't been practiced by societies that began farming.
I agree with you that less people would be better for everyone except for those that would be leaving! :D
Again I have never said that the US has the best society. I do think capitalism (being reinbursed for what you do according to your contribution) works better than communism ( get what you need (maybe) no matter what your contribution is to society) as long as capitalism is regulated so that it doesn't trod too heavily on the working class. Capitalism is not perfect by any means and it can get quite ugly, but the alternative doesn't seem very attractive either.
Well one BIG problem with trying to take care of the whole world is the existing countries and nationalism, regionalism, competing religions, etc. It's very hard to deliver needed items into many countries because local warlords or the current government want the goods for themselves. You would have to almost have one world government staffed only with altruistic people to truly provide for everyone. Not sure this is possible.
That said, if those problems were dealt with, we still have to figure out how to motivate people without giving them anything in return except for the basics. This would work for some truly altruistic people, but the majority would want an extra chicken in the pot, or even better another big SUV in the driveway if they toil harder than their neighbor.
In the not too distant future though I see some big problems. Our population is already straining our abilities to provide food and water for everyone. If we double our population we may not even with technology be able to provide for everyone even if we tried. I feel that we might see more resource wars in the future (not just about oil, but water, fishing rights and fertile land).
This message has been edited by kjsimons, 04-12-2005 11:48 AM
Our population is already straining our abilities to provide food and water for everyone.
Not true. The US alone have the capacity to produce enough food for the entire world several times over every year. The reason we are not producing as much is because of economic reasons. What do you think would happen if food become cheaper than dirt?
The third world countries, who coincidently also have the highest pop increase rates, will definitely have problems. However, the world overall will not suffer the fate that Malthus predicted.
I think it's worth pointing out that neither communism nor capitalism have yet been tried out in a modern mass society.
Capitalism (in its strict, textbook, Adam Smith incarnation) is in fact anathema to big business, who prefer massive government subsidies, pernicious advertising, etc. which have no role in capitalism per se.
Capitalism requires the existence of informed consumers with access to perfect information and workers with perfectly fair bargaining power. Such consumers have never and will never exist. If they existed the US economy would be screwed, because it exists solely on the basis of the ignorance of consumers and the weak bargaining power of workers.
Well that would take me more than an afternoon to properly peruse that site! It might take me a couple of months of afternoons to properly digest it. :) So as to narrow down the task, was there any of his writings in particular that think would be the best for me to review?
As far as this:
Why would it be limited to basics?
I suppose it wouldn't have to stop at the basics, but where do you stop? Does everyone get a Maybach or a Ferrari, or do we all take the bus? Does everyone get a four bedroom 2400sqft detached house or do we all live in 900sqft apartments? Do we all get to eat fillet mignon or do we eat soylent green? I don't think we can give everything to everyone, there are limits.
This message has been edited by kjsimons, 04-12-2005 01:08 PM