Buddhist Anarchism

Alleviating worldly suffering along the way.

Re: Buddhist Anarchism

Postby tellyontellyon » Wed Dec 25, 2013 2:22 pm

When the Dalai Lama was asked he put it like this:

Q: You have often stated that you would like to achieve a synthesis between Buddhism and Marxism. What is the appeal of Marxism for you?

HHDL: Of all the modern economic theories, the economic system of Marxism is founded on moral principles, while capitalism is concerned only with gain and profitability. Marxism is concerned with the distribution of wealth on an equal basis and the equitable utilization of the means of production. It is also concerned with the fate of the working classes--that is, the majority--as well as with the fate of those who are underprivileged and in need, and Marxism cares about the victims of minority-imposed exploitation. For those reasons the system appeals to me, and it seems fair. I just recently read an article in a paper where His Holiness the Pope also pointed out some positive aspects of Marxism.

As for the failure of the Marxist regimes, first of all I do not consider the former USSR, or China, or even Vietnam, to have been true Marxist regimes, for they were far more concerned with their narrow national interests than with the Workers' International; this is why there were conflicts, for example, between China and the USSR, or between China and Vietnam. If those three regimes had truly been based upon Marxist principles, those conflicts would never have occurred.

I think the major flaw of the Marxist regimes is that they have placed too much emphasis on the need to destroy the ruling class, on class struggle, and this causes them to encourage hatred and to neglect compassion. Although their initial aim might have been to serve the cause of the majority, when they try to implement it all their energy is deflected into destructive activities. Once the revolution is over and the ruling class is destroyed, there is nor much left to offer the people; at this point the entire country is impoverished and unfortunately it is almost as if the initial aim were to become poor. I think that this is due to the lack of human solidarity and compassion. The principal disadvantage of such a regime is the insistence placed on hatred to the detriment of compassion.

The failure of the regime in the former Soviet Union was, for me, not the failure of Marxism but the failure of totalitarianism. For this reason I still think of myself as half-Marxist, half-Buddhist.
“Don't you know that a midnight hour comes when everyone has to take off his mask? Do you think life always lets itself be trifled with? Do you think you can sneak off a little before midnight to escape this?”
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Re: Buddhist Anarchism

Postby Kim O'Hara » Thu Dec 26, 2013 12:14 am

tellyontellyon wrote:When the Dalai Lama was asked he put it like this:
The failure of the regime in the former Soviet Union was, for me, not the failure of Marxism but the failure of totalitarianism. For this reason I still think of myself as half-Marxist, half-Buddhist.

Ursula Le Guin (one of relatively few SF writers worth reading for her moral insight) portrayed a "communist" state in The Left Hand of Darkness and contrasted it to a monarchy, but she called it not a "communist" but a "bureaucratic" state and showed that most of its evils flowed from its passion for control.
Earlier still, T. H. White took the young King Arthur into an ants' nest in The Sword In the Stone. That was, of course, a monarchy but it was also totalitarian: "Everything not compulsory is forbidden" was the sign above the entrance, IIRC.

:namaste:
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Re: Buddhist Anarchism

Postby smcj » Thu Dec 26, 2013 12:18 am

The failure of the regime in the former Soviet Union was, for me, not the failure of Marxism but the failure of totalitarianism. For this reason I still think of myself as half-Marxist, half-Buddhist.

Sounds like he's a socialist-democrat to me.
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Re: Buddhist Anarchism

Postby Zhen Li » Sat Dec 28, 2013 7:52 am

I don't think there's any excuse for trying to dig old Karl Marx up, I think it is shameful that people still do this. And yet, I used to be a Marxist, so am guilty of it, but I realise that the main flaw most people have in doing this is not understanding the basics of what Marx wrote, but also not understanding the gritty details - all of which one should understand before one commits oneself to an ideology, otherwise one not only does oneself a disservice, but makes one appear extremely lazy to those who have done the work of trying to figure out what the man who was not short in facial hair actually thought.

The other reason is that you better have a good reason, well thought out and water tight, for supporting the ideology responsible for the most deaths in the last century.

While, if you were to come on this board and say, promote Nazism or even fascism, people (possibly mods) will oppose you because that's a murderous ideology (and rightly so), but for some reason, you get the slip (and HHDL does to), for supporting another murderous ideology - even trying to whitewash it by saying that it is in some sense moral. But if we count the numbers of dead from both fascists and communists, communism is ahead by an order of magnitude: Stéphane Courtois' estimate is indisputable at 94 million, as against about 9 from fascism. Whereas for some reason, communism gets the slip, while communism appears to be sort of cool and fun. Unfortunately the whitewashing isn't honest, and ignores the fact that the amorality of Marx's ideology really is indifferent to whether 94 million people died. But before you snap back with a response, please read my argument:
smcj wrote:Sounds like he's a socialist-democrat to me.

This is one of the difficulties of trying to align yourself with an ideology centred around an individual and his thought (in this case Marx, hence Marxism). One can rarely agree with 100% of the ideas of the person whom one is talking about, and everyone ends up reading into the person's thought what one thinks is best personally.

At a lecture I attended by Dr. Rupert Gethin, the President of the Pali Text Society, he compared readings of what the Buddha was like historically to the way in which Jesus was attempted to be viewed as a historical figure: always as a self-image. I'll just give you some of the quotes he provided which I have in my notes:
George Tyrrell, Christianity at the Crossroads, London: 1909, pp. 22 & 49 wrote:The Christ that Harnack sees, looking back through nineteen centuries of Catholic darkness, is only the reflection of a Liberal Protestant face, seen at the bottom of a deep well. ... Whatever Jesus was, He was in no sense a Liberal Protestant.

E. P. Sanders, The Historical Figure of Jesus, Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1995, p. 6 wrote:Virtually everyone has his or her own view of Jesus, and thus has a preconception of what a book on Jesus should say. With very few exceptions, these views are extremely favourable. People want to agree with Jesus, and this often means that they see him as agreeing with themselves.

M. Carrithers wrote referring to a conversation he had with a British Socialist who had converted to Buddhism (sound familiar anyone?):
M. Carrithers, The Buddha, Oxford: OUP, 1983, p. 1 wrote:He told me that in the whole mess of human history this at least - the statue and all it stands for - was something of which we could be proud. He said that he had no use for religion, but he felt that he had unknowingly been a follower of the Buddha all along.

The following books, Gethin described as "Sort of non-scholarly Orientalist fantasy about the ideal Buddha:"
    Batchelor, S., Confession of a Buddhist Atheist, New York: Spiegal & Grau, 2010.
    Ling, T., The Buddha: Buddhist Civlization in India and Ceylon, London: Temple Smith, 1973.
    Bronkhorst, Johannes, The Two Traditions of Meditation in Ancient India, Second edn, New Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass, 1993.
    Gombrich, Richard, How Buddhist Began: The Conditioned Genesis of the Early Teachings, London: Athlone, 1996.

The same thing happens with Marx all the time. I can quote tomes of what can only be described as interpretations of Marx, which will take us around the globe through every possible stream of thought of perspective on any issue, and you will never know anything about what Marx actually thought or described. To save time I'll just refer to His Holiness' statements.

Before I do though, I'll just preface by saying that this by no means means that His Holiness read and misinterpreted Marx - the perspective he is describing is one which is extremely common among what can really only be described as Liberal Progressives, and no one can really be blamed for holding these views. Why am I going to make this response? Because, with no pretence, I do claim to know a thing or two about Marxism (as someone else on this board knows).

What I think should be held in mind overall though is that no argument is actually being advanced by merely quoting the opinion of someone who is held in high esteem, that is an argumentum ad verecundiam. Rather, the actual content and structure of their words should be what one evaluates - a quotation when arguing is only used in order to present a thought which is not one's own, which itself makes a valid and useful point in the discussion. Yes, in a public forum, such as in a democratic election, quoting someone of high esteem in a particular field relevant to the topic at hand is a convincing strategy, but an argument it does not make (and only goes to show another weakness in democracy).
HHDL wrote:Of all the modern economic theories, the economic system of Marxism is founded on moral principles, while capitalism is concerned only with gain and profitability.

He is correct with regards to capitalism. But at least in capitalism morals can be held in the mind of an individual when he or she goes about their free actions, and their choices in the world. Marxism on the other hand, is not only not founded on moral principles, but views them merely as constructions of the existing stage of materialist development. Thus, prohibitions against depriving others of property are considered merely bourgeois morals, rather than universally immoral. Similarly, if one aligns oneself with the morality of the proletarian revolution, morality is defined only in terms of common ownership and socially direct labour. Thus you can more or less justify anything under the sun in order to advance the class interests of the proletariat - that people have biological or innate negative reactions to these is merely considered Pavlovian conditioning into Bourgeois morality, and thus must be done away with. There is absolutely no reason to restrain oneself from a violent overthrow of the bourgeoisie under this logic. I have been friends with life-long Maoists who were shocked that I could suggest having some restraint with regards to killing bourgeois capitalist roaders, as if I was the immoral one. Yet, as we all know, if their life were threatened in the same way, they would not be held back from negative reaction. You can brainwash people into doing anything, but morality still remains grounded in natural sentiments, and property is vitally important to these sentiments as all Buddhist codes of morality tell (non-dual forms are not codes of morality).
Marx and Engels, Collected Works, Vol. 25, London: Lawrence and Wishart, 1987, p. 87 wrote:We therefore reject every attempt to impose on us any moral dogma whatsoever as an eternal, ultimate and for ever immutable ethical law on the pretext that the moral world, too, has its permanent principles which stand above history and the differences between nations. We maintain on the contrary that all moral theories have been hitherto the product, in the last analysis, of the economic conditions of society obtaining at the time. And as society has hitherto moved in class antagonisms, morality has always been class morality; it has either justified the domination and the interests of the ruling class, or ever since the oppressed class became powerful enough, it has represented its indignation against this domination and the future interests of the oppressed.

That is, there is not "morality" as such, there are "moralities." Each morality is used and disposed of as it serves the currents and tides of history - an amoral and impersonal process, devoid of the moral choice or personal decision and intention that qualifies Buddhist notions of morality and karma. Indeed, suffering and exploitation can even be a good thing if you twist your logic in this way:
Marx, New York Daily Tribune, 25 June, 1853 wrote:Sickening as it must be to human feeling to witness those myriads of industrious patriarchal and inoffensive social organizations disorganized and dissolved into their units, thrown into a sea of woes, and their individual members losing at the same time their ancient form of civilization and their hereditary means of subsistence, we must not forget that these idyllic village communities, inoffensive though they may appear, had always been the solid foundation of Oriental despotism; that they restrained the human mind within the smallest possible compass, making it the unresisting tool of superstition, en­slaving it beneath traditional rules, depriving it of all grandeur and [what Marx is really only interested in here:] historical energies . . .
We must not forget that these little communities were contaminated by distinctions of caste and by slavery, that they subjugated man to external circumstances instead of elevating man to be the sovereign of circumstances, that they transformed a self-developing social state into never-changing natural destiny and thus brought about a brutalizing worship of nature, exhibiting its degradation in the fact that man, the sovereign of nature, fell down on his knees in adoration of Hanurnan, the monkey, and Sabbala, the cow ...
The question is, can mankind fulfil its destiny without a fundamental revolution in the social state of Asia? If not, whatever may have been the crimes of England she was the unconscious tool of history in bringing about that revolution. Then, whatever bitterness the spectacle of the crumbling of an ancient world may have for our personal feelings, we have the right, in point of history, to exclaim with Goethe: 'Sollte dim Qual uns qudlen,/Da sie unsre Lust vermehrt:" ['Should we be grieved by this pain that increases our pleasure?']

Sure, there's many things one can agree with Marx with on this one, and for the most part colonialism is the only way a lot of countries could avoid continual moral degradation. Independence doesn't really exist for the third world - they move from de jure dependence with colonial overlords, to de facto dependence under the rule of the IMF and World Bank, or development grants and so forth. The world is all America's now, as it was once all Britain's.

But the point here is the Goethe quote. This is the concept which Marxists call "the worse the better," because the more degraded, exploited and punished a people, the closer they are to taking up arms in violent proletarian revolution. We must remember that this has ironic implications for HHDL, whose country, under Marx's logic, would be better as the socialist haven on the roof of the world where the lamaist feudalism is stamped out, than one ruled by morality and the tranquil peace of Dharma. Ask yourself: which do you prefer?

This also means that there are higher civilizations and lower civilizations, ones which are more advanced in the materialist historical current - and these ones should replace and deplace the older ones. Marx really was a classic imperialist - while opposing imperialism at the same time. Kołakowski writes:
L. Kołakowski, The Main Currents of Marxism: Its Rise, Growth, and Dissolution: Volume I: Founders, Oxford: OUP, 1978 p. 349-50 wrote:It should be noted that Marx's historical appraisal of human actions in terms of the part they play in bringing about liberation had nothing to do with a moral judgement: the crimes of the British imperialists were not palliated by the fact that they brought the day of revolution nearer. This is also the viewpoint of the whole of Capital, in which moral indignation at the cruelty and villainy of exploitation is found side by side with the conviction that this state of affairs was helping on the revolution. Increasing exploitation was bringing about the downfall of capitalism, but it did not follow that the workers who resisted it were acting 'against history'. However, their action was progressive not because it improved their lot and this improvement was good in itself, but because it helped to develop the workers' class-consciousness, which was a precondition of revolution.
Marx and Engels is believed in the rights of a higher civilization over a lower one. The French colonization of Algeria and the D.S. victory over Mexico seemed to them progressive events, and in general they supported the great 'historical' nations against backward peoples or those which for any reason had no chance of independent historical development. ...
Thus the martyrdom of history would not be in vain, and future generations would enjoy the fruits of their predecessors' sufferings.

Thus, allowing suffering now, is viewed as an assurance of future prosperity. Not actually because it's a simple calculation of delayed gratification, but because allowing suffering now is not actually immoral, since that which is moral is the ends of the cult of humanism, i.e. socially direct labour and man's emancipation from the bonds of capital through violent proletarian revolution.
HHDL wrote:Marxism is concerned with the distribution of wealth on an equal basis and the equitable utilization of the means of production.

Anyone, please explain to me how this works.

The difference between Marxism and Capitalism, is that Capitalism is described functionally, whereas Marxism is described in terms of ultimate goals. Beyond a functional explanation, the goal is nothing but an empty hope or sentiment. This is why most Marxist states spent their time explaining the problem away by saying that the goals are going to be achieved with the proper functioning of their "transitional society," I thought that this could be solved through "experimentation" in such a society, which is the Maoist school of thought. I quickly came to my senses and ceased being a Marxist and a Maoist after I realised that not only is this futile and will lead to many more deaths than those which Mao caused, but is not even what Marx meant in the text from which Lenin contrived the notion of the transitional society. I will briefly explain this problem, by explaining its origins and Marx's actual thinking on the matter -- which itself appears to be more sceptical of its existence or practicality than any so called Marxist in the world.

This comes from the comment of Marx in the Critique of the Gotha Programme, in which Marx states:
Marx and Engels, Collected works, 1874-83, p. 16 wrote:Between capitalist and communist society lies the period of the revolutionary transformation of the one into the other. There corresponds to this also a political transition period in which the state can be nothing but the revolutionary dictatorship of the proletariat.

Note that there is not a "transition society" in Marx's thinking, a society is a very peculiar thing in Marxist thought which consists of a superstructure over a particular mode of production. A period of revolutionary transformation is actual transformation, from capitalism to communism. Note that Marx uses the term society only to modify two other nouns: capitalist and communist. There is no "transition society." The dictatorship of the proletariat is the gear by which the machine of revolutionary change occurs in the shift from A to B, it is not a society with its own culture (a la Lin Biao). This idea comes from Lenin's State and Revolution:
Lenin, Selected works, Vol. 2, Moscow: Progress Publishers, 1970 p.349 wrote:The transition from capitalist society--which is developing towards communism--to communist society is impossible without a "political transition period", and the state in this period can only be the revolutionary dictatorship of the proletariat.

Lenin is trying to explain the transformation by putting something palpable there, where what is really just the withering away of A, where B takes its place. Since we're talking Marxism, I'll make my point clearer on this one... by quoting Hegel:
Hegel, Science of Logic: Volume One: The Objective Logic, Book One: The Doctrine of Being, section 777. wrote:In thinking about the gradualness of the coming-to-be of something, it is ordinarily assumed that what comes to be is already sensibly or actually in existence; it is not yet perceptible only because of its smallness. Similarly with the gradual disappearance of something, the non-being or other which takes its place is likewise assumed to be really there, only not observable, and there, too, not in the sense of being implicitly or ideally contained in the first something, but really there, only not observable. In this way, the form of the in-itself, the inner being of something before it actually exists, is transformed into a smallness of an outer existence, and the essential difference, that of the Notion, is converted into an external difference of mere magnitude. The attempt to explain coming-to-be or ceasing-to-be on the basis of gradualness of the alteration is tedious like any tautology; what comes to be or ceases to be is assumed as already complete and in existence beforehand and the alteration is turned into a mere change of an external difference, with the result that the explanation is in fact a mere tautology. The intellectual difficulty attendant on such an attempted explanation comes from the qualitative transition from something into its other in general, and then into its opposite; but the identity and the alteration are misrepresented as the indifferent, external determinations of the quantitative sphere.

The point from the Marxist point of view (which I held for many years), is that the political is rooted in the economic, and you can't just transform the political and expect the economic to follow suit. Mode of Production = Class Division = Class Antagonism = Political Domination. You can't have the one without the other, and so the dream that you can simply wither away capitalist society and polity with some kind of transitional state, without actually transforming the capitalist mode of production, is pure fantasy. But if you transform the mode of production upon which capitalism is founded, then capitalist society and polity will wither away, and if that mode of production is communist, then the state will completely disappear and not transform as the manifestation of the dynamics of that mode of production. I am not claiming that Marx believed communism comes about through the instantaneous transformation of the capitalist mode of production, he no doubt would have been realistic, but the point is that theoretically, even within the difficult logic of Marxism, the idea of revolution without transforming the foundation of capitalism first, is bankrupt.

The issue with people who don't understand Marx (including most Communists) when talking about how to transition to communism, is that they explain an alternative arrangement within the logic of the law of value, whereas Marx's model assumes the abolition of the law of value. For example, in Contribution to a Critique of Political Economy, Marx responds to John Gray's 1831 proposal for a national bank which issues certificates equivalent to labour time in exchange for stocks of the nation's commodities. Therefore, in theory you could exchange one certificate for a commodity which required one day of labour to make. Of course, for Marx, labour is the determinate of value, (if you don't understand Marx's labour theory of value, please stop reading and go and get Vol. 1 of Capital) so it would seem normal to make such a suggestion. This is Marx's own critique (and this idea is still proposed by people who have no idea how economics works, such as Ithaca Dollars or Brixton Pounds):
Marx, Critique of Political Economy, B. Theories of the Standard of Money wrote:But as Gray presupposes that the labour-time contained in commodities is immediately social labour-time, he presupposes that it is communal labour-time or labour-time of directly associated individuals. In that case, it would indeed be impossible for a specific commodity, such as gold or silver, to confront other commodities as the incarnation of universal labour and exchange-value would not be turned into price; but neither would use-value be turned into exchange-value and the product into a commodity, and thus the very basis of bourgeois production would be abolished. But this is by no means what Gray had in mind – goods are to be produced as commodities but not exchanged as commodities. Gray entrusts the realisation of this pious wish to a national bank.

But if goods are produced as commodities, then they will unavoidably be exchanged as commodities. The labour is social only inasmuch as individual labour is alienated. From the Marxist perspective, you can either say an hour of labour counts as around an hour, or not as labour at all since it's not directly social. Moreover, the value and the price of two commodities which took an hour to produce will most likely be different. E.g. if there's no use-value for your commodity, it doesn't matter if you spent a month making a tonne of dousing rods, since there's no market for them, there's no value in them. You can't just wish commodities to be one value, and you can't wish all labour to be of one value, as Marx puts it:
Marx, Critique of Political Economy, B. Theories of the Standard of Money wrote:The dogma that a commodity is immediately money or that the particular labour of a private individual contained in it is immediately social labour, does not of course become true because a bank believes in it and conducts its operations in accordance with this dogma. On the contrary, bankruptcy would in such a case fulfil the function of practical criticism.

This is because the national bank would be continually short of goods because the advanced producers would create a black market, and the state regulated sector would keep regressing. When the state attempts to coerce the black market into compliance, the advanced producers will leave (i.e. brain drain, entrepreneur drain). Those who are forced to remain inside the state will be able to get away with producing as little as possible, since one hour of lousy work is as equal to one hour of Stakhanovite work. There would be no more incentive to work. Moreover, production would be useless and retarded, one hour of production of a useless widget would only be worth as much as one hour of production of a valuable one, and thus there would be no investment in efficient production since it wouldn't produce a cent in returns. A lot of these characteristics (although they don't fit Grey's model to a T) can be seen in actual attempts at communism.

If you read Marx's book which is available online through that link (and there's no reason why you shouldn't read all of Marx's work, he's a smashing writer), you will see that he argues quite coherently that those who want to get rid of money, must get rid of exchange-value, which requires getting rid of commodities, which requires getting rid of the capitalist mode of production.

So, attempts to achieve fair distribution and an "equitable utilization of the means of production" and wealth, must have a realistic system and notion of the requirements for how to actualise that program. Treatments of revolution which are political rather than transformative of the means of production, as Lenin's and Mao's were, are criticised by Marx as follows:
Marx, Critique of the Gotha Programme, Chapter 1. wrote:Right can never be higher than the economic structure of society and its cultural development conditioned thereby. ...
Do not the bourgeois assert that the present-day distribution is "fair"? And is it not, in fact, the only "fair" distribution on the basis of the present-day mode of production? Are economic relations regulated by legal conceptions, or do not, on the contrary, legal relations arise out of economic ones? Have not also the socialist sectarians the most varied notions about "fair" distribution?

Thus he argues that whatever standards the Gotha Programme set for measuring fair distribution were under the capitalist logic - under capitalist logic all distribution is fair, you get socially determined value for value. They treat the state as an independent entity, instead of treating it as a product of society and the means of production, believing that fairness doesn't depend on the foundation - but on the superstructure. How do you have communism then without a labour-money scheme and what does a transformed mode of production look like?
Marx, Critique of the Gotha Programme, Chapter 1. wrote:individual labor no longer exists in an indirect fashion ... but directly as a component part of total labor. ...
the labor employed on the products appear here as the value of these products, as a material quality possessed by them. ...
What he has given to it is his individual quantum of labor. ...
Within the co-operative society based on common ownership of the means of production, the producers do not exchange their products; just as little does the labor employed on the products appear here as the value of these products, as a material quality possessed by them, since now, in contrast to capitalist society, individual labor no longer exists in an indirect fashion but directly as a component part of total labor. The phrase "proceeds of labor", objectionable also today on account of its ambiguity, thus loses all meaning. ...
Accordingly, the individual producer receives back from society -- after the deductions have been made -- exactly what he gives to it. ... The same amount of labor which he has given to society in one form, he receives back in another.

In short, this is "socially direct labour," wherein the law of value has been abolished and whereby one's societal contribution isn't assessed by quantity of production. You don't have to sell your labour, or buy stuff with money, while not at the same time being a subsistence farmer, because all work contribute to society's overall production as a whole. So both your labour and your product are socially direct - i.e. nothing indirect, no money intervening (i.e. no C-M-C).

For Marx, this only happens because equality of principle (equality is what Marx holds to be the "principle" of capitalism), is "at loggerheads" with practice (i.e. capitalism produces unequal results because one person makes a profit in an exchange of labour value and the other doesn't, exempting that he holds shares in his own company). Whereas in communism, it's no that people are being more ethical and moral as His Holiness has been lead to believe by who know whom, but that social conditions have changed such that the contradiction of practice and principle in the capitalist mode of production has been eliminated. The contradiction is that labour in capitalism is unequal in individual cases because the law of value works by socially necessary abstract labour time, thus one's labour is only equal to another's if it matches perfectly that socially necessary abstract labour time requirement, whereas in communism they are measured equally because the law of value has been abolished, they are both socially direct labour. Thus people in communism, according to Marx, are remunerated according to the actual amount of work they do.

But at the same time that Marx made this absolutely clear, he also made absolutely clear that the law of socially direct labour "does not become true because a bank believes in it and conducts its operations" accordingly. You can't just impose a fiat, law, or simply agree as a group in a commune or kibbutz to count all labour equally. You must ground these changes in the mode of production, not the reverse - not from political will or societal agreement, but from practical materialist transformation. For instance, if you and your friends decide to declare that the labour of a nurse and surgeon are equal, there will be a black market of surgeons (and the process I repeated above will occur, a la USSR).

Thus, one has to make absolutely clear what the social relations are wherein labours are counted equally.

I want anyone who supports communism on this forum, even if HHDL says he supports it, to make clear those social relations. They will quickly realise that they are facing a task of metaphysical proportions, wherein they must establish equality in a world wherein none actually exists. Not only can two labours only be equal to one another on average, but two human beings also can only be equal to one another on average, because there will always be someone more capable or less capable than someone else. And a world wherein no equality actually exists and wherein all relations as regards labour are always fundamentally unequal, is one wherein what Marx calls capitalism is actually the only mode of production that not only can exist but always did exist.

So, as regards the rest of what HHDL says, the main flaw which Marxists will point out with it is that he is looking at a "feeling" or a "sentiment" of benefiting others, or compassion, which one might associate with a movement which targets the proletariat. But one must be careful in conflating the two, because Marxist revolution is largely this impersonal force which has no moral impetus. I actually addressed this issue in a previous post on this thread: what system maximises Buddhist qualities and values, what makes life easiest for the most number of people, and what is most likely to be congenial to the Sangha? It's one wherein one recognises the way society and economics have always worked, and maximise their benefit to society - and the model wherein that is best assured is one in which the government has the highest incentive to maximise the pleasantness of the polity. This is really completely irrelevant from the Marxist perspective - pleasantness has no effect on Marx's Teutonic brow because he saw himself as a scientist observing, describing, and predicting the objective and scientific materialist development of history - whether it is pleasant or not had absolutely no bearing on his prescriptions or judgements.

The model which WILL ensure the highest incentive to maximise the pleasantness of the polity is one wherein the ruler has an interest in such, so you have to make mechanisms whereby the ruler will have such interest. These I have formulated, and I can formulate again, but in case anyone wants to crack a whip at me because I am criticising Marx, as being some kind of "establishment" apologist, I am nothing of the kind - I am further from it from Marx, who was drunk with the food of the establishment (i.e. progressivism). I will restate this model again if anyone is interested, each time I restate it I make it clearer to myself too.

Now, for those who have been reading this reply, you will see that for the most part I have accepted Marx's premises, and that I only object to argument in as much as he doesn't provide one, i.e. for an alternative to the "law of value." But the question is then, does the law of value actually exist? That is, does value come from socially abstract necessary labour time? There are lots of answers and responses to this online, but my objection is rather simple and has to do with a contradiction I found in Capital and was never able to reconcile with myself - and which eventually broke the straw in the camel's back for me and led me to give up Marxism: So, for Marx, values have magnitude both in money and in labour time. Because of this, Marx talks about the sum of values being equal or unequal to the sum of prices. Since Marx holds that the two sums are equal, and that the production of value precedes the receipt of value, prices in their totality are not only equal to, but determined by, the total value produced. Do I need to say more? This magic is the sort of thing which Marx gets away with because he writes tomes and tomes. Prices are determined by the producer's will to make a profit, nothing more, nothing less. Value is a conscious or unconscious judgement about the importance of a good for the maintenance of life and well being, it is purely mental. The kind of imbuing of commodities with an imprinted socially direct labour which Marx talks about is actually the kind of fetishism he attributes to the very thing he is critiquing. Marx is a magician and fetishist of the highest order by this account, and no Buddhist who understand dependent origination and lack of inherent existence (svabhava) can accept the idea that one's labour value is imbued into a commodity as if a spirit of a savage's deity is imbued into his idol.

The final pillar of Marxism which still, for some reason, stands among the less well read Marxists is that of dialectical materialism. The only people in contemporary leftist scholarship who still believe in this are the Analytical Marxists, most of whom no longer exist because the criticism against their ideas was so coherent, and it became resoundingly obvious that their interpretations were far too simplistic. The only decent attempt at apology was Gerald A Cohen's Karl Marx's Theory of History: A Defence, which was a good read but I think most scholars of Marxism more or less agree that even Marx gave up advocating this even in the 1850s, as you can see in some comments he makes in the Grundrisse on the impossibility of simply technological determinism, wherein technology will necessitate revolution.

The real flaw in the thesis of historical materialism in my impression is to assume that there is a distinct phenomena called "capitalism" which is distinct from any alternative in economic arrangements. Which is to say, capitalism, even as Marx describes it in Capital, just happens to be the normal economic relations of all historical epochs, even hunter gather societies exchanged with a mind to exchange and use values - which I suspect is why Marx stopped going on about the idea of Communal->Slave->Feudal->Primitive Accumulation->Capitalism->Communism sometime during the 1850s. Engels never quite caught on, and I doubt Marx ever would have voiced his doubt at the theory which his life for the past 30 years had been devoted to. This is to say, one can't treat the normal state of affairs as a specific state of being, out of which you can escape through an alternative called communism, just like we didn't actually escape out of feudalism through an alternative called capitalism - it was still going on, whenever one was exchanging one good for another, be it with another producer in a town, or with one's lord, i.e. grain in exchange for protection.

Thus, one might even say, there's not even such a thing as capitalism. Yes, reality is remorseless, but there's not a choice. You can't just label people who live in remorseless reality as making a dogmatic choice, as if they had some say in the matter. You might as well say, you want to abolish the weather, by saying that those who currently live according to it are abiding by and have chosen the dogma of "weatherism," as if we had a choice of creating and dwelling in a different state of affairs where rain and sun are gone and instead you have perpetual fertility and warmth - as always, details of how to do such will be suspended until you have handed over power of the state to the dictator with the beard. The more you try to give power to people, the more people will die and fight for it. They will fight one another and they will fight for power just for themselves. We must return to sanity, across to the shore behind us, and not to the shore of Utopia in front of us, which we will never reach, and which lies across a sea filled foaming with blood.

But is power dangerous? Only when it is disputed. Tyrannies are monarchies disputed, as democracies are republics disputed. But power put in the hands of an able and capable king, is the kindest thing you can give to a nation, and can only be done with the utmost acknowledgement of the inequality of humans, and the superiority of this one individual human - he must be one whom others recognise as ideal to rule. Indeed, I don't believe that they need to be better than the average CEO, but to that end I believe the average CEO is far more adept at governing than even the oldest democracy (after all, just look at the state of Greece). Surely of all ‘rights of man’, this right of the ignorant man to be guided by the wiser, to be, gently or forcibly, held in the true course by him, is the indisputablest. If this were not so, then there would be no abbots in monasteries, just as there would be no leaders of animal herds. Leadership is a quality which we really ought not to treat with as much pittance as we do, and we must not be blind to the fact that we are in fact ruled not by sound monetary handling, but an aristocracy of the moneybag, and so long as we accept democracy it will be so.

But alas, a long reply it has been, and under all speech that is good for anything there lies a silence that is better. Silence is deep as Eternity; speech is shallow as Time.
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Re: Buddhist Anarchism

Postby tellyontellyon » Tue Dec 31, 2013 9:26 pm

Hiya Zhen,
That was a very long reply to say that you support having a monarchy.... i think that is what you were getting at?
Anyway, I can't go along with the idea that we are free under capitalism... it seems to me that if you are stuck in a low wage or unemployed then you are not all that free really.

But I can see your confusion, and it is quite understandable. My point is that we have never actually seen a Marxist society. Marx thought that democracy was essential for socialism to work. He said that democracy is the road to socialism.

I think you are getting things mixed up with Stalinism.
After the 1917 revolution in russia, the Bolsheviks were really counting on a socilist revolution in Germany. When that failed to happen, they found themselves very isolated and lacked the productive forces to make a socialist system work. Also, something like 20 or so capitalist countries sent troops and money and equipment to promote a bloody counter-revolution. Russia was already in a desperate condition after years of war. It was under these very unfavourable conditions that the first attempt at real socialism failed. The system degenerated into a militaristic/bureaucratic bonapartist state.
Trotsky's book The Revolution Betrayed explains this well:
http://www.marxists.org/archive/trotsky/1936/revbet/

Stalinist forces were very efficient in murdering the best genuine Marxists, they even threatened to kill Lenin's widow. Lenin had a stroke a few short years after the revolution and eventually died in 1923 I think?

Once this bureacratic caste held power, there was no way back for Russia. There was a sort of a planned economy, but it was planned from the top, real Marxism involves the whole of society in economic planning and is certainly not a one party state.

In places like China there was a Stalinist style bureacracy from the very start.

If you are interested in a genuine Marxist view on China, you could look here:
http://chinaworker.info/en/

Anyway, without wanting to sound argumentative, we have to compare like with like. Nearly all countries live under capitalism now and many people in those countries are extremely poor. The rich get richer at the expense of the poor. Capitalism seems to be an unstable and chaotic system that can work against the interest of the mass of society. Capitalism was a great leap forward, but now it is holding us back. Importantly, it has shown itself to be incapable of facing up to the looming environmental disaster.

Socialism/Marxism doesn't mean Gulags and a lack of human rights. It just means democratic planning and use of the worlds resources in a rational way, democratically decided by all its people.

*btw you confuse private property with personal property. Private property is the means of production, i.e. factories, rail network banks etc. That is not the same as your personal stuff.

** Morality... as a Buddhist I don't believe anything is eternal, everything that we can experience is the result of causes and conditions... this must include morals.

But while we are on the question of morals, who in society sets the moral tone? Who makes the rules and punishes the wrongdoers? Who have the power to tell society what's what?

Here are some stats from the uk. Only a very small percentage of ordinary people in the UK go to private/independent schools (5% ish?)
But the people with the money.............
http://www.suttontrust.com/news/news/th ... g-figures/

•High court judges were most likely to be independently educated, with 70 per cent from independent schools in 2007 and 74 per cent in 1989.
•Politicians are the least likely to be privately educated, with 38 per cent from independent schools in 2007 and 46 per cent in 1974 (the last time a Labour government was in power). They also have the largest proportion of leading members from state comprehensives: over a third were from these schools in 2007.
•Three in ten of current Labour ministers were privately educated, while one in four went to grammar schools; 44 per cent of the Conservative shadow cabinet were privately educated.
•The biggest decline in independently educated people was among FTSE 100 chief executives: in 1987, 70 per cent were from private schools; by 2007 this figure had dropped to 54 per cent.
•However, this latter figure applies to a smaller number of people as so many chief executives of FTSE companies are now non-British and were thus educated abroad. Just under a third of CEOs are currently from abroad, compared with less than one in ten 20 years ago.
•Journalists and medics were most likely to come from grammar schools, with about a third of the figures in the top 100s coming from selective state schools.
•High court judges were most likely to be educated at Oxford or Cambridge, with 78 per cent from Oxbridge in 2007 and 87 per cent in 1989.
•Medics were the least likely to be educated at Oxford or Cambridge, with 15 per cent from Oxbridge in 2007 and 28 per cent in 1987. The biggest falls in Oxbridge educated leaders were among politicians and chief executives.


:soapbox:
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Re: Buddhist Anarchism

Postby Zhen Li » Tue Dec 31, 2013 11:48 pm

tellyontellyon wrote:That was a very long reply to say that you support having a monarchy.... i think that is what you were getting at?

No it wasn't, and I don't blame you for not reading the reply.

The point was that Marxism is unintelligible. A person with an IQ of 90 couldn't understand it, but neither could a person with an IQ of 190. Both, however, could parrot Marx, and with the appropriate ASL translation so could a chimp.

(Similarly, if you just parrot Trotsky, you're not actually arguing on your own terms, and you're not doing any service to yourself or your ability to deal with the argument at hand. All I ask is that you be open minded and argue as yourself. I was a Marxist for many years, and when I see someone parroting popular ideologues I spot it very instinctively. Don't even get me started on how both Lenin and Trotsky, who you seem to support, were both mass murderers with no morals or scruples in their own right.)
tellyontellyon wrote:Anyway, I can't go along with the idea that we are free under capitalism... it seems to me that if you are stuck in a low wage or unemployed then you are not all that free really.

If you want to debate this issue, the terms need to be defined. What is freedom?

Political freedom? Economic freedom? Freedom to dance? Freedom of speech?

Without defining that, this statement doesn't really tell me anything.

Also, while you're at it, you should probably also give your definition of capitalism.
tellyontellyon wrote:But I can see your confusion, and it is quite understandable. My point is that we have never actually seen a Marxist society. Marx thought that democracy was essential for socialism to work. He said that democracy is the road to socialism.

I think you are getting things mixed up with Stalinism. ...

I appreciate your attempt to re-educate me. If you read my above post, you will see that I understand the distinction you are trying to make. I don't blame you if you don't have time to read it, but please do me a favour before trying to argue that I claimed "X," when in fact I claimed "Y." This is called a strawman argument.
tellyontellyon wrote:Also, something like 20 or so capitalist countries sent troops and money and equipment to promote a bloody counter-revolution.

Fundamentally, this did not succeed because the progressive mindset is on the same spectrum as the Marxist mindset. As you said, they're both democrats.

A little excerpt from Herbert Hoover's biography of Woodrow Wilson:
Hoover, Herbert, The Ordeal of Woodrow Wilson, New York: McGraw-Hill, 1958, p. 116 wrote:During the Armistice all of the Allied and Associated Powers were involved in supporting attacks by "White" armies against the Soviet Government. In Siberia, the United States and Japan were supporting the White Army of General Kolchak. From the Black Sea, the British and French were supporting the White Armies of Generals Denikin and Wrangel. The Allies, including the United States, had taken Murmansk on the Arctic to prevent large stores of munitions, sent to aid the Kerensky regime, from reaching the Communists. Later the British supported a White Army under General Yudenich in an attack directed at Petrograd from the Northern Baltic.

The British and French exerted great pressure on Mr. Wilson for Americans to join in a general attack on Moscow. General Foch drew up plans for such an attack. Winston Churchill, representing the British Cabinet, appeared before the Big Four on February 14, 1919, and demanded a united invasion of Russia.

Then, the western powers realised that they couldn't afford anything of the sort, they were all bankrupt actually, except England - who would have become bankrupt were she to follow through support for the White Army to the end.
Hoover, Herbert, The Ordeal of Woodrow Wilson, New York: McGraw-Hill, 1958, p. 118 wrote:We have also to... [consider], what would actually happen if we undertook military intervention. We should probably be involved in years of police duty, and our first act would probably in the nature of things make us a party with the Allies to re-establishing the reactionary classes. It also requires consideration as to whether or not our people at home would stand for our providing power by which such reactionaries held their position. Furthermore, we become a junior in this partnership of four. It is therefore inevitable that we would find ourselves subordinated and even committed to politics against our convictions.

There it is, clear as day.

For the American progressives, the bugles of change had sounded, and in fact, even though the US didn't recognise the USSR until 1933, at the start they were very sympathetic to the Soviets. The US did have troops in the USSR, but not with the intention of winning anything. It's all a show, a spectacle to help keep public opinion enthralled. Fundamentally, the US needed the USSR, and when conflict really came to a head, they fought on the same side. All progressives oppose reactionaries and ally with each other, wherever they arise.
tellyontellyon wrote:Anyway, without wanting to sound argumentative, we have to compare like with like. Nearly all countries live under capitalism now and many people in those countries are extremely poor. The rich get richer at the expense of the poor. Capitalism seems to be an unstable and chaotic system that can work against the interest of the mass of society. Capitalism was a great leap forward, but now it is holding us back. Importantly, it has shown itself to be incapable of facing up to the looming environmental disaster.

What does it mean to "live under capitalism?"

What's the alternative? Is it this?:
tellyontellyon wrote:Socialism/Marxism doesn't mean Gulags and a lack of human rights. It just means democratic planning and use of the worlds resources in a rational way, democratically decided by all its people.

Please explain how this works.

I have already addressed claims like this in my previous post. You're not saying anything coherent when you say that this is an "alternative" to capitalism. You're just going to be translating one form of capitalism, which works to a degree although it is stifled by democratic government, to another form of capitalism, which is going to work even less - unless you have some magical new plan which will change my view.

Unless you explain how this WORKS you are not saying anything meaningful.

What IS the way to use resources in a "rational way," explain the procedure by which democratically all the people of the world decide how to manage them.

What do you really think is better management? Having 7 billion people vote on the best computer processor should be arranged? Do they all vote on how to place the integrated circuits? Do they vote on what type of silicon to use? Do they all vote on the best way to write the arithmetic logic unit? Do you have any idea how stupid that sounds? The solution of capitalism to this problem is simple: division of labour. It's the only way that works.
tellyontellyon wrote:btw you confuse private property with personal property. Private property is the means of production, i.e. factories, rail network banks etc. That is not the same as your personal stuff.

No, actually, not even Marx says this. Have you even read Marx? Where do you get these ridiculous ideas?

Everything is owned by someone, either as an individual or as a collective (i.e. corporation) upon agreement of the parties who own a share - all I believe in is recognising who owns what and formalising it, i.e. recognise who owns what. There's primary and secondary property. Primary property is that which has no enforcement by a higher authority, i.e. countries. Secondary property is that whose ownership is enforced by a higher authority, i.e. the owner of the primary property via policing. Whoever controls what, and can enforce their control over that, owns it.
tellyontellyon wrote:Morality... as a Buddhist I don't believe anything is eternal, everything that we can experience is the result of causes and conditions... this must include morals.

Morally, if you support Marxism, you can't be a Buddhist at the same time, because Marxist revolution implies stealing property from those who own it, violating the precept against stealing, and implies killing those who oppose the revolution, since revolution is violent, violating the precept against killing.

You have just tried to deny the existence of property to wind yourself out of this conundrum, but you do yourself a great disservice and act extremely immorally in doing so.

All anarchists, Marxists, and libertarians fundamentally deny the existence of certain types of property to excuse stealing. Only either the status quo, or formalising relationships in a reactionary reset avoid these issues.

In the end, any Buddhist political proposal must not violate the moral principles of Buddhism, it doesn't matter how causally conditioned you think morals are - in the present world, Jambudvipa, stealing and killing are wrong. Period.
tellyontellyon wrote:Here are some stats from the uk. Only a very small percentage of ordinary people in the UK go to private/independent schools (5% ish?)

There's one explanation why that country is going to the dogs. If you live there I'd suggest emigrating while you still can.
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Re: Buddhist Anarchism

Postby tellyontellyon » Thu Jan 02, 2014 6:20 pm

Hiya Zhen Li,
I'm not going to get into a debate with you over whether I deserve to be called "immoral" or not by you. I'm not really all that holy or good. I do a little practice when I can, but I could certainly do a lot more. Looking at some of the things I have done in my life I would have to say I was far from being a good person.

You clearly have your own opinions about Marxism and what it is or isn't. They are not the same as mine or others, but I can't help wondering if your connections with Maoism have given you a particular view of things. I consider Maoism and Stalinism to be very distorted ideologies, and I am glad you have abandoned them.

You seemed to show some curiosity about what I mean by 'Marxism' and 'Capitalism' and what a democratically planned economy would be like in practice. Well... this view isn't something I have invented myself 'off my own bat' as people say, so you will have to rely on this book:

http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/socialism21/

It was written by Hannah Sell. The link will take you to the first page and you can click/read on from there If you are really interested.

I'm not going to get into a big debate with you. I'm not bright enough perhaps?
I'll just rely on people like Hannah Sell for her positive view of Marxism, and people like the Dalai Lama for his positive opinions on Marxism and Buddhism. I guess Dumbo's like me have to rely on the views of others sometimes.

You are obviously smart enough to figure these sort of things out for yourself, so I won't bother you any further.

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Re: Buddhist Anarchism

Postby Zhen Li » Thu Jan 02, 2014 7:38 pm

tellyontellyon wrote:I'm not going to get into a debate with you over whether I deserve to be called "immoral" or not by you. I'm not really all that holy or good. I do a little practice when I can, but I could certainly do a lot more. Looking at some of the things I have done in my life I would have to say I was far from being a good person.

Good, because I did not make an argument that you are immoral, nor did I bring deserving or not into the question. I get a very strange feeling, and I hope you understand why I get this feeling, that you are not reading my reply very carefully, or you are just glossing it briefly and not getting into it in detail. It can indeed be rather frustrating when this happens, but I shall simply reply as best I can and keep plodding on in the hope that perhaps you will read something I say at some point. This would be very helpful in debating these issues, because, if you have not noticed, most people in this thread have either dismissed out of hand the possibility of debating the matter with me on equal footing, openly wishing to propose their case while ignoring completely what I have to say, or have read what I wrote and not actually address any of my premises, either by formulating straw men, or by arguing that the debate should not occur in the first place. This has made the thread of particularly poor quality in terms of argumentation, serving to be more of a soapbox than anything.
tellyontellyon wrote:You clearly have your own opinions about Marxism and what it is or isn't. They are not the same as mine or others, but I can't help wondering if your connections with Maoism have given you a particular view of things. I consider Maoism and Stalinism to be very distorted ideologies, and I am glad you have abandoned them.

I was only a Maoist for the briefest period of being a Marxist. For the most part I would be what they call a "Marxian," i.e. primarily focused upon Marx's writings themselves, and upon the structure and function of his politics and economics.

But, you do claim to appreciate both Lenin and Trotsky. In fact, there's little difference between their ideology and Stalin's. In fact, Stalin merely identified himself with Leninism, and his ideology is a very natural outgrowth of Leninism. Could you point to ways in which it isn't?
tellyontellyon wrote:You seemed to show some curiosity about what I mean by 'Marxism' and 'Capitalism' and what a democratically planned economy would be like in practice. Well... this view isn't something I have invented myself 'off my own bat' as people say, so you will have to rely on this book:


http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/socialism21/

It was written by Hannah Sell. The link will take you to the first page and you can click/read on from there If you are really interested.

I'm not going to get into a big debate with you. I'm not bright enough perhaps?
I'll just rely on people like Hannah Sell for her positive view of Marxism, and people like the Dalai Lama for his positive opinions on Marxism and Buddhism. I guess Dumbo's like me have to rely on the views of others sometimes.

You are obviously smart enough to figure these sort of things out for yourself, so I won't bother you any further.

You're not really doing the thread any service by not trying at all.

It doesn't make a thread, let alone a debate on any issue whatsoever, to ask people to read a book, the points of which you can perfectly easily write here.

You are not dumb. You are perfectly capable of doing this, as you know.
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Re: Buddhist Anarchism

Postby tellyontellyon » Sun Jan 05, 2014 1:00 am

This video is a few years old now, but I think it is relevant to the problems we are facing. Problems that will continue to repeat themselves and continue to cause misery. The impending environmental disaster in itself is reason enough for fundamentally changing how we use the worlds resources.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qOP2V_np2c0
“Don't you know that a midnight hour comes when everyone has to take off his mask? Do you think life always lets itself be trifled with? Do you think you can sneak off a little before midnight to escape this?”
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Re: Buddhist Anarchism

Postby Zhen Li » Sun Jan 05, 2014 2:24 am

I listened to hours of David Harvey lectures back in the day, I'm familiar with his narrative and have worked through it and understand why it can't be true. Fundamentally, the critique of Marxian economics I gave above addresses the bases of his analysis. I don't actually believe you want to read my reply to it though: do you?

Because, personally, I have the feeling you won't challenge your own views. But I really encourage you to. Challenging our own views is what Buddhism is all about. Ultimately it's the abandonment of all views, but in particular, abandoning the view of the self is something which I think challenges most people's world-views.

If you are interested though, do ask. I mean this with all sincerity.

Likewise, if you are repeating stuff I've already convinced myself the falsehood of, it's not going to win me over. To do that please address the specifics of my argument.

I think this is fair for both of us right?
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Re: Buddhist Anarchism

Postby tellyontellyon » Sun Jan 05, 2014 9:30 am

Hiya Zhen Li,
Yes, I think we are not going to agree on the Marxist view of the economy. I don't want to get into a deep debate about it either. There are plenty of debates like that going on all over the world at the moment with cleverer people than me taking part.
Personally, the idea that Capitalism has been progressive but has had its day, and is now holding us back, makes sense to me. Marxian economics seems to give the best explanation of the recurring economic crises'. It seems obvious to me that not paying people enough to purchase the value of the goods and services that they produce through their labour... well, it's got to mean either a lack of demand, or an unsustainable build up of debt. It seems obvious to me that in practice the profit motive is at odds with the needs of the environment.

Even if you don't agree with the solution, we would be fools not to see that Capitalism is part of the problem. :(
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Re: Buddhist Anarchism

Postby Zhen Li » Sun Jan 05, 2014 6:20 pm

Alright, well I'll just keep the discussion as simple as I can. Just one point at a time.
It seems obvious to me that not paying people enough to purchase the value of the goods and services that they produce through their labour... well, it's got to mean either a lack of demand, or an unsustainable build up of debt.

So, David Harvey argues that wages have fallen or remained stagnant.

Statistics can be misleading.

This is only true if you look at household incomes. Here's a link to the US Census Bureau statistics for household incomes, 53,467 to 71,274 only 33%:
http://www.census.gov/hhes/www/income/d ... R_2012.xls

Actual wages are only paid to individuals, so fundamentally that's the only way to tell whether wages are stagnant or not. Here are the US Census Bureau stats for individual wages:
http://www.census.gov/hhes/www/income/d ... R_2012.xls

As you can see, individual incomes have almost doubled in the past 45 years, 14,810 to 28,281, 90%.

Family incomes have remained stagnant because family sizes have fallen from 2.89 to 2.54.

Does that make sense?
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Re: Buddhist Anarchism

Postby tellyontellyon » Sun Jan 05, 2014 6:45 pm

He's talking about wages as a percentage of GDP, i.e. as a % of the value of what has been produced.

He wasn't specifically talking about 'wages' or even 'real (cost-of-living adjusted) wages' either. Though they have taken a nose dive too in recent years.
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Re: Buddhist Anarchism

Postby Zhen Li » Sun Jan 05, 2014 9:46 pm

He wasn't specifically talking about 'wages' or even 'real (cost-of-living adjusted) wages' either. Though they have taken a nose dive too in recent years.

If they have taken a nose dive then the numbers would have declined, however the numbers have increased (even Harvey says they are only "stagnant," not declining - but I'll explain next why this isn't true also). Therefore they have not taken a nose dive.
He's talking about wages as a percentage of GDP, i.e. as a % of the value of what has been produced.

Yes, I see that he does in fact say as a share of national income. I missed that part.

For information on wages as a percentage of GDP you can look at the Economic Report of the President:
http://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default ... sident.pdf

You can see on p.62 that they calculate this using labour's share of nonfarm business income. Here's roughly how that works:

Average hourly wage has been stagnant, p. 380. Average hourly earnings in 1982 dollars increased only 4% from 1963-2012.

While productivity increased, p. 382. Output per hour increased 37% from 1963-2012.

That, plus increasing outsourcing through free trade would alone prove me entirely wrong and explain why wages as a percentage of GDP have declined. In fact, if you look at p.61 again you'll see that the White House seem to be Marxist now too, since they more or less agree with this assessment.

This of course requires a measurement of wages that has remained stagnant. The issue with the measurements in the Economic Report of the President is that the average hourly earnings is calculated as follows, "Current dollars divided by the consumer price index for urban wage earners and clerical workers on a 1982–84=100 base." That's CPI-U-X1.

For many years it has been known that the CPI-U-X1 overstates inflation by 1.1%. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boskin_Commission and further explanation here: http://www.econlib.org/library/Enc/Cons ... dexes.html

Adjusting average hourly wages as per the Economic Report of the President by reducing annual inflation according to Boskin's approach each year from 1963-2012, and we get the CPI-U-RS: http://www.bls.gov/pir/journal/gj10.pdf

The average hourly wage increase as per Boskin shows a 40% increase, i.e. it increased more than productivity. This means that people, on average, are doing better today than in 1963. This is pretty self evident, people really are better off today economically and technologically.

This also means that in Marxist parlance, the capitalists are in fact being squeezed by labour. This might not be the case either however, since productivity is calculated using a price index which may be understated. Overall, if wages are determined by the marginal productivity of labour, then rate of growth in aggregate prices should be equal. So you'd need to make a minor adjustment in productivity growth for a bit less than that in wage growth.

The reason the Economic Report of the President hasn't shifted to CPI-U-RS is because they feared it would reduce the Social Security cost-of-living benefit increases. This would really piss a lot of people off who are nearing retirement. So, the numbers are inaccurate for political reasons.

Thus, if you calculate wages as a % of GDP using accurate figures, the numbers increase or remain stable.
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Re: Buddhist Anarchism

Postby tellyontellyon » Sun Jan 05, 2014 10:29 pm

The other point David Harvey makes is that capitalism is international and that it 'solves' its problems by moving them around. So a problem 'solved' in one area or sector is just shifted onto somewhere or someone else. David mentioned Europe, South America, the PIIGS, UK, China, India etc. etc.
So please take these into account in your calculations.

Some overall or average figure is no good either. Please show how the distribution of wealth has progressed.

Also there have been massive cuts in social security and public spending. This means the 'social wage' has been cut dramatically.

For my part, and I suspect for most working and middle class people, the idea that we are somehow all better off than say 10 years ago would strike people as at odds with their own experience. Especially as they have lost their job.

I'm not an economist or good with maths, as I said. I just put my faith in marxist economists and the opinion of the Dalai Lama. (That is pretty un-Marxist of me for sure :crazy: )


But you seem to like working out figures and statistics, so have at it!

BTW hope you are right that we are actually all better off... I'll let my friends in Greece know... they will be very pleased. :smile:
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Re: Buddhist Anarchism

Postby Zhen Li » Mon Jan 06, 2014 12:30 am

There are a number of things I can address with your post, but since I am trying to change my habit of replying to everything to keeping it focused, I will only address one issue at a time.
The other point David Harvey makes is that capitalism is international and that it 'solves' its problems by moving them around. So a problem 'solved' in one area or sector is just shifted onto somewhere or someone else. David mentioned Europe, South America, the PIIGS, UK, China, India etc. etc.
So please take these into account in your calculations.

In Harvey's writings he calls this the "geographical displacement of crisis." It's a good idea and it influenced my thinking for a few years, from about 2009-2011.

What this means is that firms shift labour to countries where workers have lower wages because labour is too expensive in their own country, thus they can still make a profit and avert crisis until the deregulated countries have higher costs of labour. When the cost of labour is too high everywhere, then a recession will occur and the capitalists will then lower their prices to increase demand, causing them to sell at a loss, or they will cut wages, causing lower demand and thus over production. A depression for Marx is the period in which excess production is sold off and demand rises again.

The problem with this is that it has never historically happened. Overproduction cannot occur because production occurs only when demand exists. If people have wages which are too low to match demands, there is still money in the market even in the steepest deflation that can be used to buy "overproduced" commodities, thus, it is impossible that prices cannot be set low enough to match demand at any point in time to clear "overproduced" commodities. If a business does have prices which are higher than demand will allow, they only do this when they are speculating on imminent rise in market prices, i.e. it is an investment in future inventory. If surplus stock needs to be sold, nothing stops them from cutting their prices. If prices are cut, they will suffer a loss, meaning the business bid too high on future selling prices. This is not a problem of overproduction but rather cost-price differentials. This error is caused by malinvestment into unprofitable lines. This means that rather than a crisis occurring in the market, there will be a balancing out because of the underproduction in a different part of the market.

Since a crisis has never happened according to the Marxist prediction (they occur for different reasons), Marxists keep arguing that crisis is "averted" or "displaced" temporally or geographically -- rather than accept that it might be possible that it isn't really a feature of the economy. This is Harvey's approach. That's why Marxists are always on the prowl for empirical data to confirm their theories, and using wages as a share of GDP to confirm this is an example of such an attempt that has failed due to the inaccuracy of the data.

The only other way to prove this theory is to prove that the premises must be true. If the premises must be true, and the argument is logical, then the conclusion has to follow. These premises include things like the "law of value." Marxists are people who accept the premises, and see that Marx's argument is logical, and therefore accept the conclusions. When they see that the conclusions don't fit observations of the world, they try to explain it away with theories of displacement rather than reinvestigate the premises. What I did around 2011 was investigate the premises, find them faulty, and concluded that the conclusions do not follow.

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Re: Buddhist Anarchism

Postby Kim O'Hara » Mon Jan 06, 2014 2:26 am

tellyontellyon wrote:The other point David Harvey makes is that capitalism is international and that it 'solves' its problems by moving them around. So a problem 'solved' in one area or sector is just shifted onto somewhere or someone else. David mentioned Europe, South America, the PIIGS, UK, China, India etc. etc.

This - http://blog.ted.com/2013/02/13/who-controls-the-world-resources-for-understanding-this-visualization-of-the-global-economy/ - is fascinating in its own right but it is also relevant because its shows just how amazingly concentrated the wealth, and therefore the decision-making power, is. The linked TED talk is well worth a look!

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Re: Buddhist Anarchism

Postby Zhen Li » Mon Jan 06, 2014 3:06 am

Hardly from promoting Marxian economics, the article claims:
it is very well possible that it is [endangers] market competition and financial stability.

The main reason there is so much centralised control is because of over regulation which keeps small competitors out, and bailouts which prop up failed banks and reward idiotic banking practices.

The short term time preference of democratic regimes is the cause of this. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Time_preference
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Re: Buddhist Anarchism

Postby tellyontellyon » Wed Jan 08, 2014 12:22 am

Well, if products are being sold at a cost less than it costs to produce them, then that means the company would lose money. That would mean that the producer could not attract investments/loans etc.... so they would go bust.

You are right that 'markets' always have more money.... but 'markets' actually consist of a relatively small percentage of people, mainly rich investors. I'm more concerned with the end users of those products, the ordinary people who suffer.

Of course, producers don't keep on producing when their products can't be sold for a profit... so a crisis of overcapacity is another way of looking at it.... those producers will eventually go bust.

David Harvey wasn't just talking about moving labour or companies around when he was talking about capitalism moving its problems around. One way of solving its problems is just to destroy capacity... i.e. close factories, sack workers, they even destroy produce ... like when the EU stored food millions of tons of food until it went rotten just to keep prices high in the market. I heard something about a Japanese company that took grain out to sea to dump it... though it might have been an urban myth?

Anyway, 'demand' here means economic demand.... not the real needs of ordinary people. There are people who have desperate need in this world: homes, food, medicine etc. but because they are poor they don't produce the economic demand... the corps don't want to reduce prices to sell to them because they want to keep prices and profits up. It is shameful that some child in a third world country can work all day producing trainers and shoes, but can't afford to buy shoes for themselves.... that's capitalism.

I simply don't accept your assertion that there has never been a crisis of over production/capacity. I think we are in one right now.... but of course capitalist economists will avoid giving that explanation ... they blame it on the weather, or sun-spots or the alignments of the planets etc. , but they generally work for big firms or simply havent been educated in marxian economics or understand it... that is why they got taken by surprise... that is why they are desperate to come up with an 'explanation' of these 'black swan' events that don't point the finger at the profit driven capitalist system itself.

Marx thought that, overtime (unless distorted by monopolies etc) , supply and demand would tend to average out. Even though there are fluctuations, generally, production would be increased to meet demend. This means that the profit that a firm makes actually comes from paying the worker less than the true value of their labour.
The worker must contribute more value to the company than they are being paid... or why would the company employ them!

So the worker is ALWAYS making a net contribution to the company, but the 'investor' has only contributed the value of their investment... which they can recieve back over and over again in profits... and eventually even sell their shares and get back their original investment.... for doing basically nothing. It is working people who make and do everything in society. Working peopel are the wealth creators, the capitalists are just feeding off of our backs. I say, capitalism is a form of theft.

A revolution doesn't have to be violent, just look at the 'purple' revolution in Europe. Revolution only means that the economy and the lives of ordinary people are taken out of the hands of the capitalists and into the hands of the workers.
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Re: Buddhist Anarchism

Postby smcj » Wed Jan 08, 2014 1:30 am

Just to be clear, this is a discussion about samsara, not Dharma.

Please feel free to continue. :popcorn:
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