* To establish feasibility, it is necessary to include some items in the energy invested term that are normally not thought of as investments. For example, the cost of sequestering such carbon dioxide as will be produced by the energy technology under investigation should be added to the energy invested term because feasibility requires that our society be sustainable (until astronomical events intervene). In this thought experiment, the support of an alternative energy technology would be the sole concern of every citizen.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Capitalism, Marxism, and Dematerialism

Let us review the steps whereby capitalism was defeated by communism in logical argument:

I don’t know if any of the latest statements about deaths and ruined lives under so-called communist rule are true or merely another salvo in an endless war against communism waged by both branches of the American Capitalist Party; but, this much is certain: communism is sustainable and capitalism, because it requires perpetual economic growth in a finite world, is not.  Capitalism requires growth to retire debt incurred by fractional reserve banking, to justify economic inequality by telling the poor they will not grow poorer as the rich grow richer, to provide new jobs for workers displaced by improvements in productivity due to technological progress, and to finance industry in a stock market that would collapse if it did not grow.  None of these is necessary in a communist economy despite the undeniable fact that many regimes that call themselves communist whether they are or not have encouraged economic growth.  (Of course, many (undeveloped) nations should grow economically, but new growth in the poor nations must be accompanied by even greater shrinkage in the rich nations to more than compensate for it.)

It is necessary to divide the community dividend equally among the members of the community for a number of reasons: 

1.         Whatever advantages of intelligence, strength, ability, character, appearance, breeding, or connections one is able to exploit to acquire wealth, they are accidents of birth that are normally disallowed as justifications for worldly success. 

2.         It is impossible to evaluate a person’s contribution to the community until hundreds of years after that person’s death, if then.

3.         Suppose that one potato in the Mark I Economy  represents the amount of emergy that is required to keep one person alive for one day.  The ability of the earth to provide emergy for consumption is already so limited that people are starving to death because we do not share wealth. 

Thus, wealth sharing is reasonable, beautiful, and practical.  However, without wealth sharing, society is vulnerable to very serious problems:

1.         Differences in wealth spawn covetousness, envy, resentment, anger, and, finally, revolution if they grow sufficiently steep or if they are perceived as patently unfair.

2.         If there are differences in wealth, we have materialism with all of the horrible things people do to acquire greater wealth because of greed, because of fear of losing what they have, or to remedy personal poverty.  In Chapter 9 of On thePreservation of Species, I showed that materialism is Pandora’s Box.

Materialism is the perfect transition from the debate between communism and capitalism to the debate between Dematerialism and Marxism:

Let us examine the reasons why Dematerialism has supplanted Marxism:

Marxism was supposed to have remedied the problems caused by differences in wealth; but, inasmuch as it requires people to work to earn a living, it still permits competition for wealth.  Also, it does not address competition for power except by preventing huge concentrations of wealth that make fair competition unnecessary for many aspirants to political power.  Even supposing a meritocracy in the distribution of jobs, political positions, and incomes, almost all of the problems of materialism will arise. 

1.         Dematerialism requires each person to have an equal share of the community dividend regardless of what he does or doesn’t do, which prevents all of the evils of materialism discussed in Appendix II of On the Preservation of Species.

2.         It is important that people who do not work be compensated the same as those who do (except that the portion of their energy budget that was expended solely because of their employment) because most of the workforce will have to be furloughed to reduce the energy budget to that which can be supplied by renewable energy technologies only.  Please see the three energy papers hyperlinked to http://dematerialism.net/ where this is explained and proved. 

3.         Dematerialism avoids punishment of misbehavior as well as punishment of sloth.  People will do something interesting and/or useful because they need to be effective to be happy.  Since Dostoevsky wrote Crime and Punishment 150 years ago, we have suspected that punishment exacerbates anti-social behavior.  Dematerialism lets go of punishment and revenge as well as other irrational and maladaptive behavior peculiar to Western culture or learned during out Era of Evolutionary Adaptedness.
Indeed, Marx, apparently, was not familiar with the Sermon on the Mount and the many fine sentiments expressed there by Jesus.  We could say that Dematerialism is the New Testament of Communism and Marxism is the Old Testament. 

Houston, Texas
July 26, 2007

* In this paper,  the word “communism” refers to any system of wealth distribution that does not depend  upon (i) dog-eat-dog competition or (ii) the hazards of a marketplace in labor , or (iii) any system that favors economic inequality whether dynamic or static and, if dynamic, whether unbounded or not.  By “communism” I mean some system of sharing the community dividend.  I could replace the term “communism” by “wealth sharing” without the loss of very much except the opportunity to show respect for the great communist writers, thinkers, and leaders of the past.  Normally, I think of “communism” as referring to equal or nearly equal wealth sharing.  Varieties of communism are sometimes termed “socialism”, “syndicalism”, “dematerialism”, etc.

16 comments :

  1. " Communism is sustainable" except none so far have been. The only hold out today is North Korea. A country that every winter kills hundreds of thousands of people through starvation.

    Communism can only appear to maintain sustainability at the point of a gun.

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  2. Debt is a requirement otherwise business cant function. Every business, big and small, must borrow from banks to stock their shelves. Nothing kills a store faster than when you go in there and they don’t carry what you want or need. So stores must have a wide array of goods to appeal to people. No business has the funds to stock their shelves, so they borrow to pay for the items on their shelves.

    Abuse of debt isn’t capitalism’s fault. People abuse, period. People cant control themselves, period. That will happen regardless of the system of government. The worst examples of gross over borrowing with no regard to the consequences are governments. Especially socialist inclined governments. Greece, Spain, Italy, and here in Canada the Government of Ontario who have, in just 5 years, doubled our debt to $300B. And counting. Raking up $16B per year in deficit. Most of that money was spent on scandals including the Green Energy Act, and paying out huge increases to public sector unions, like teachers, in order to buy votes to keep the gravy train running.

    Social programs to redistribute wealth never work, and are grossly unfair. As the top 1% of university students if they would be happy shaving 20% off their marks to give to failing students so they don’t fail. That’s what redistribution of wealth does.

    Allowing capitalism to flourish, that growth in wealth will filter down. One only has to look at places as bad economically as Somalia to see this. Satellite dishes everywhere, every home. Lots of cell phones there too. None of that would have been possible were it not for capitalism’s innovations.

    The complaint of the stock market is also misdirected. Yes, markets crash. That’s the self correcting mechanism working to curb greed. Once greed gets the best of the system, it will collapse and correct itself. Planned economies have no correction mechanism for greed, and greed will exist, in fact flourish more, in planned economies.

    History showed us that too.

    Richard

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    Replies
    1. But, fractional reserve banking is not necessary. I believe Ron Paul favored eliminating it, but I am not sure. You understand why fractional reserve banking must be accompanied by economic growth, which will lead to complete collapse eventually and probably very soon.

      Delete
    2. The Reserve Bank has to exist as a control. Thats why it was set up, and in the US set up independent of government. The US had major problems with all their banks, some refused to do business with others. States started their own central banks to facilitate interbank trading, and issued State currencies. It was a nightmare. Hence the US Fed.

      The problem today, as I see it, is the system is getting too big. Too chaotic. Too out of control, and influenced by factors they cannot control. But they are doing what they can to keep the system going -- printing money. It has worked so far only because they are kicking the can down the road.

      Government debt is going to be the downfall of the economic system.

      Richard

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  3. One other serious problem with planned economies, communist systems in particular, is its distinction between wants and needs.

    Needs are basic. People need food, they need shelter, they need to be warm in winters, they need to get around.

    Wants are much different. I need shelter, but I want to live in a home in the country, not a crowded stinking apartment in a city. I need food, but I want good food at expensive restaraunts (not really, I prefer home made food). I need to get around, but I want to do that by car, any car I which to drive, not public transport. I also want hobbies. It keeps my interest in life up, it keeps my skills up. Some businesses start off as hobbies. No hobby is a need.

    Planned economies dictate what needs and wants are. They, by definition, will suspend or even forbid certain people’s wants in order to achieve the planned economy. The danger in that is apparent. Who has the right to dictate to someone else what they can or cannot have in wants?

    History has shown that what happens in communist economies is needs are the lowest one can get, wants disappear, and people live dull unproductive lives.

    Planned economies cant produce innovation which came about from people playing with their wants and make a discovery.

    Wants are a major component on the economy, especially hobbies which employs millions of people fulfilling those wants.

    Richard

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    Replies
    1. That should not be a problem with the natural economy (bad terminology)described at http://dematerialism.wikispaces.com/; to wit:

      A give-away economy with no monetary system [is suggested]. Each economic actor¹ notifies directly the enterprises that supply his genuine needs, which, in turn, tell him when the item or items can be picked up or will be delivered depending upon which mode has the lower emergy costs. Clearly, delivery syndicates will need to minimize emergy by solving optimization problems – possibly of combinatorial complexity – by computer, if computers are available in the wake of Peak Oil. Otherwise, emergy consumption is not likely to be minimized, although it may be acceptably low. Being too poor to afford a computer for each economic actor is another case of the poor communities getting poorer; but, even in the worst case, it will not be accompanied by the rich getting richer to exacerbate the situation. These enterprises also report the emergy values of the item or items to each economic actor and to a public servant if the community deems this necessary until people have learned the lesson of minimizing their consumption. Thus, the economy is consumer-planned subject only to the consumer's responsibility (a) to use no more than 1/Nth of the total sustainable dividend of the economy (measured in emergy units) where N is the number of consumers and (b) to reproduce himself only, to pass on his reproductive rights to another, or not to reproduce. Life can be made discouragingly difficult for cheaters.

      When the above was written, I was thinking that, in the wake of Peak Oil, responsible people would voluntarily curb (kerb) their "wants"; but, I see no reason why this might not include some of the items you have enumerated (probably not the second home), provided the emergy limit is observed.

      Now, here is the thing: I want you to think of ways to make a planned economy work because, whether you realize it yet or not, when you have read Why We Need a Planned Economy, you will have seen a rigorous valid proof that market economies are a prescription for
      doom. [more - when I reply to your comments, which I sincerely thank you for.]

      It is probably worthwhile to include the description of how workers provide the goods that you need and want in a natural economy:

      [from http://www.dematerialism.net/wiki.htm#_Toc170283591]

      Local economic enterprises [are] owned by workers in the sense of custodianship. Decisions are made by direct vote – one worker, one vote. It is important that worker ownership not extend beyond the premises of the plant where the work is done. Decentralization not incorporation. Each enterprise integrates the plans of its consumers into a total economic plan for the enterprise and notifies its suppliers accordingly. This must be achieved with negligible energy costs, probably with a computer. The economic actor might organize his or her personal emergy budget well in advance, also with a computer.

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    2. The last part first. Coops exist. And have worked. Algoma Steel was going bankrupt and the union bought it and the company survived, albeit smaller.

      That said, if I start a business, and I hire people to do the work, thats what they are hired to do -- work for me. They can make suggestions to improve the business. They may get incentives for doing that (bonuses). But the business is mine, no matter how big it gets. No one has the right to take my property I own.

      Thats the problem you will face with trying to force all business into co-ops. Remember this is still a free democracy, not a people's co-op (communism by any other name).

      Now that was tried in the USSR, and it failed. Ultimately, someone has to make the final decisions.

      As for wants and needs. Indeed peoples wants will be curbed in the future if we go through a permanent economic downturn. So too will needs. There will be a lot of suffering.

      Think of it this way. You've been told you have cancer and will die in a year. You have two choices. You can take the medical treatment and live a miserable 2 years more with no hair, puking all the time, no energy all the time. Or you can decide to fulfill your bucket list.

      People will make that choice on personal reasons. Me? Id want to fulfill my bucket list. That means fulfilling as many of my wants as I can before the economy goes into the toilet. A Sunset CPR P2 is on that list :-)

      Richard

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    3. Richard, you wrote: That said, if I start a business, and I hire people to do the work, thats what they are hired to do -- work for me. They can make suggestions to improve the business. They may get incentives for doing that (bonuses). But the business is mine, no matter how big it gets. No one has the right to take my property I own.

      *****************************
      Here is a major bone of contention. From my view, you may as well have said, "I bought that slave; he is mine. I shall tell him what to do. What right has he to do otherwise? What right have you to liberate him?"

      Of course, my answer is that it is not only my right but a moral imperative to liberate the wage slave from your employment. As MacHeath said on the scaffold, "What is the murder of a man compared to the employment of a man?"

      It is inconsistent with a person's "unalienable" {non-transferable) right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness to be employed or for employment to be necessary to live. According to Deci and Ryan, autonomy is a prerequisite for happiness.

      You may start a company but not on the basis you would like; and, certainly, you may not acquire wealth or power by virtue of having started an enterprise.

      I am afraid that, from my point of view, it is to be determined only whether people who indulge in such anti-social behavior should go to jail or not. The decision has already been made as to the rectitude of my position otherwise. It is not open to discussion nor am I a liberal.

      Delete
    4. Ive heard the argument many times. Working stiffs are slaves. Saying so doesnt mean its true. Slaves were considerably different in many ways, the first is freedom. People who work are free to quit and find other means of employment. You dont like your job? Then go find one you do. Some people really like their jobs. I was a firefighter for 22 years. Loved it (not the internal politics, and not the union). Id do it again. Ive also been self employed writing software for companies. (I wanted to do that and spent the $ getting formal education. I took the risk.) I even worked for a company to automate them, then got let go when it was all done (I sued and won).

      At no time in any jobs Ive done did I feel like a slave. I was hired to do a job, I got paid (sometimes less than I thought I should have gotten), I got some of my wants in the mean time, able to pay for comfortable needs in the mean time.

      Slaves have none of that. Not even close.

      Sure many people hate their jobs. That isnt the fault of the system. They may think they're slaves, but really they are their own slave.

      The question becomes at what point does government step in and tell a business owner who is successful that he must give the business over to the "slaves" in a free and democratic society?

      Even if the system collapses, I would never advocate that people cant start and own their own businesses, and hire people at fair market driven wages.

      Richard

      Delete
  4. That should not be a problem with the natural economy (bad terminology)described at http://dematerialism.wikispaces.com/; to wit:

    A give-away economy with no monetary system [is suggested]. Each economic actor¹ notifies directly the enterprises that supply his genuine needs, which, in turn, tell him when the item or items can be picked up or will be delivered depending upon which mode has the lower emergy costs. Clearly, delivery syndicates will need to minimize emergy by solving optimization problems – possibly of combinatorial complexity – by computer, if computers are available in the wake of Peak Oil. Otherwise, emergy consumption is not likely to be minimized, although it may be acceptably low. Being too poor to afford a computer for each economic actor is another case of the poor communities getting poorer; but, even in the worst case, it will not be accompanied by the rich getting richer to exacerbate the situation. These enterprises also report the emergy values of the item or items to each economic actor and to a public servant if the community deems this necessary until people have learned the lesson of minimizing their consumption. Thus, the economy is consumer-planned subject only to the consumer's responsibility (a) to use no more than 1/Nth of the total sustainable dividend of the economy (measured in emergy units) where N is the number of consumers and (b) to reproduce himself only, to pass on his reproductive rights to another, or not to reproduce. Life can be made discouragingly difficult for cheaters.

    When the above was written, I was thinking that, in the wake of Peak Oil, responsible people would voluntarily curb (kerb) their "wants"; but, I see no reason why this might not include some of the items you have enumerated (probably not the second home), provided the emergy limit is observed.

    Now, here is the thing: I want you to think of ways to make a planned economy work because, whether you realize it yet or not, when you have read Why We Need a Planned Economy, you will have seen a rigorous valid proof that market economies are a prescription for
    doom. [more - when I reply to your comments, which I sincerely thank you for.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Quite right, Richard, and a good thing too, as we do not like the type of Communism that has failed so far. But, I do not mean sustainable quite in that way. What I mean is that there is nothing built into Communism's intrinsic characteristics such that collapse is inevitable. In the past, it was always something that might as well have been left out of every implementation of Communism.

    On the other hand, David Delaney's four aspects of Capitalism that require growth are intrinsic characteristics of US American Capitalism. Certainly, not every type of lending, technological innovation, and capital stock trading is bad or harmful; and, probably, an implementation of market Capitalism that does not require economic growth is possible; but, it is not at all clear that Capitalism can avoid economic inequality. While it is true that the rich get richer, it is also true that the poor will be better off in each successive year provided that the economy exhibits sufficiently robust growth. If the economy does not grow, the rich will continue to get richer, as money makes money, but the poor will grow poorer and poorer until most of the population has descended to the status of essentially a feudal serf. This state of affairs can endure for a short time under Draconian repression; but, eventually, the masses will rebel and, after that, who knows?

    I am prepared to prove that perpetual economic growth in a finite world - with no possibility of extensions into outer space – is impossible; but, I hope and trust that no such proof is needed for you, me, and other members of the Peak Oil forums. With this point given, it is clear that, despite everything being done that can be done to support Capitalism, Capitalism is not sustainable, which is what I meant in the blog post.

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  6. Richard,

    I mean that you are right about the non-sustainability of Communism so far. The systems of Communism we have seen so far including North Korea have collapsed or will collapse. They have tried to match or surpass the rates of economic growth we have seen in the West; and, in some cases, they have succeeded. But, Dematerialism entails economic shrinkage in over-developed nations followed by a more-or-less steady-state economy.

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  7. Let me enter the quote from Norbert Weiner that appeared in "Some Unintended Effects of Computers" http://www.dematerialism.net/computers.html

    But a person working without a computer cannot compete with a person who uses one. As far back as 1947 Norbert Weiner [3] anticipated this difficulty when he wrote that “... any labor that accepts the conditions of competition with slave labor [Weiner is referring to automation and computers as slave labor] accepts the conditions of slave labor, and is essentially slave labor. The key word of this statement is competition.” A few lines later he wrote, “However, taking the second [industrial] revolution as accomplished, the average human being of mediocre attainments or less has nothing to sell that is worth anyone's money to buy. The answer, of course, is to have a society based on human values other than buying or selling. To arrive at this society we need a good deal of planning and a good deal of struggle - which, if the best comes to the best, may be on the plane of ideas, and otherwise - who knows?”

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  8. Coda:

    "Technological innovation has got to be one of the most over-rated features of modern society," exclaimed the patient old man upon, once again, being frustrated by a zip-lock bag.

    In *Erewhon* [Samuel Butler], all scientific inventions and technological innovations beyond a certain date, roughly 150 years earlier, were to be placed in Museums set up for that purpose and no further use was to be made of them.

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    Replies
    1. If you remember, technological innovation was one of the drivers of economic growth. Some workers tend to be no longer needed and jobs have to be found for them in growth areas of the economy. For example, automobile craftsmen have been replaced by robotics; but, they can get good jobs delivering pizza. Take out pizza must be a growth business. (One of the founders of Domino's is now the athletic director at Michigan.) By the way, Richard, I have added Education to my website, although I still call it Dematerialism and Energy. See http://www.dematerialism.net/ .

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  9. Now, Richard, you said you don't believe in anything; but, I find in you a staunch believer in the principal unproved tenets of the Randian right, i. e., atheistic Capitalism*. For example, one of the first tenets goes something like this: "Every system of distributing wealth other than according to market principles will end up in (i) reduced standards of living, (ii) a corrupt privileged class composed of the planners or those who control them (Some pigs are more equal), (iii) a working class that is so dissatisfied that civil liberties must be suspended, including freedom of religion, and Draconian punishments instituted to repress dissent, (iv) etc.



    Please do not pretend that whatever reasons you have for believing this are scientific or even based on valid empirical evidence. When it comes right down to it, how many data points do you have and how trustworthy was the methodology employed in collecting them? But, you aren't going to believe this any more are you? At least, you are going to take it with the proverbial grain of salt to leave open other possibilities. There's more to the doctrine, of course; but, that's the tenet I would like to see added to the corpus of mythology today.



    * In my Truthseeker article, which was in serialization, I denounced Christianity, but principally because it was shilling for Capitalism. Of course, what I attacked was the falsity of the tenets Christianity's doctrine, every one of which will eventually be overthrown by science and replaced by another falsity as in the past. What surprised me about Ayn Rand was her expectation that she could defend Capitalism without Christianity. The strange thing is that the Jesus of the Sermon on the Mount is clearly a Communist. See G. B. Shaw's preface to Androcles and the Lion or http://www.dematerialism.net/On%20the%20Separation.html or http://www.dematerialism.net/schreiner.htm .



    Tom Wayburn, Houston, Texas



    Thomas Wayburn, Houston, Texas
    http://dematerialism.net/
    http://eroei.blogspot.com/
    http://dematerialism.wikispaces.com/
    http://modrr.net/

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