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[P]
A Fable

By pyramid termite in Fiction
Thu Feb 20, 2003 at 07:18:32 AM EST
Tags: Politics (all tags)
Politics

A communist and a libertarian wanted to get some honey from a hive of bees.


The communist approached the hive and said, "Comrades, under the system of communism we believe that 'from each according to one's abilities, to each according to one's needs' is the law of life. Once you have achieved the proper revolutionary consciousness, you will realize that it is your moral obligation to give me your honey, as I need it. I will give you a party card so that when you approach your comrades with your needs they can give them to you."

The libertarian approached from the other side of the hive. "Don't listen to that statist. You have no obligation to him, nor me. However, under free market capitalism, I can pay you for your honey with this 20 dollar bill, a very fair price, and with this 20 dollar bill, you may determine for yourselves what your needs are and who you should buy them from, instead of relying on others to determine them for you."

The libertarian and the communist argued and argued over their philosophies and which one the bees should accept. "There's only one thing to do", the libertarian said, "we will see whether they accept my 20 dollar bill or your party card for the honey."

Each tried to place his token into the beehive to let the bees decide. At this point, the bees came out of their hive and proceeded to sting the crap out of both of them.

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Poll
The moral of this story is
o Economic debates make me break out in hives 20%
o It's no fun having money if you ain't got no honey 32%
o A party card is better than beeing carded at a party 7%
o No matter what system we choose, there will still be some sting to life 39%

Votes: 242
Results | Other Polls

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o Also by pyramid termite


Display: Sort:
A Fable | 87 comments (61 topical, 26 editorial, 0 hidden)
Outstanding. (4.60 / 15) (#1)
by Hide The Hamster on Tue Feb 18, 2003 at 07:23:07 PM EST

You have chosen the lethal combo:
  • Section: Fiction
  • Topic: Politics


  • You are a true sadist and I admire you for it.


    Free spirits are a liability.

    August 8, 2004: "it certainly is" and I had engaged in a homosexual tryst.

    MASOCHIST! (nt) (4.00 / 4) (#2)
    by LilDebbie on Tue Feb 18, 2003 at 07:25:12 PM EST



    My name is LilDebbie and I have a garden.
    - hugin -

    [ Parent ]
    Yes, more likely (3.00 / 2) (#6)
    by hex11a on Tue Feb 18, 2003 at 07:31:55 PM EST

    But you have to admire him for putting his neck (story) on the line ;-)

    Hex

    [ Parent ]

    Well, yes (4.25 / 4) (#10)
    by LilDebbie on Tue Feb 18, 2003 at 07:55:32 PM EST

    I was rather attacking the misuse of the word "sadist."

    My name is LilDebbie and I have a garden.
    - hugin -

    [ Parent ]
    True (4.33 / 3) (#11)
    by hex11a on Tue Feb 18, 2003 at 08:04:03 PM EST

    But he's got us all reading fiction and politics, which could be considered quite sadistic too...

    Hex

    [ Parent ]

    And redundant (nt) (4.20 / 5) (#18)
    by pyramid termite on Tue Feb 18, 2003 at 09:30:15 PM EST


    On the Internet, anyone can accuse you of being a dog.
    [ Parent ]
    I meant sadist. (4.33 / 3) (#15)
    by Hide The Hamster on Tue Feb 18, 2003 at 09:17:11 PM EST

    I am sorry that your mastery of the English language is less than perfect. Might I suggest some leisure reading to help boost your skill?


    Free spirits are a liability.

    August 8, 2004: "it certainly is" and I had engaged in a homosexual tryst.

    [ Parent ]
    Don't forget the Cliff Notes (nt) (3.66 / 3) (#17)
    by pyramid termite on Tue Feb 18, 2003 at 09:29:16 PM EST


    On the Internet, anyone can accuse you of being a dog.
    [ Parent ]
    Analysis (3.33 / 3) (#19)
    by LilDebbie on Tue Feb 18, 2003 at 09:54:35 PM EST

    Let us look at your opening statement:

    You have chosen the lethal combo:

    Now, the reader does not die when reading a story, neither in the real or metaphorical sense, but a story, insomuch as it gets voted down to non-existance, does. Therefore, "lethal," in this context, implies that the "combo" will prove "lethal" for the story. Since, as author, pyramid termite is connected to the stories fate, the "combo" will also prove "lethal" for him. You also imply that the author did this on purpose, making it a self-inflicted "lethal combo." Self-inflicted pain or violence are characteristics of masochists, not sadists. Might I suggest you work on your linguistics and style.

    My name is LilDebbie and I have a garden.
    - hugin -

    [ Parent ]
    Darling. (5.00 / 5) (#20)
    by Hide The Hamster on Tue Feb 18, 2003 at 10:36:30 PM EST

    The word 'you' is in immediate reply with Mister Pyramid Termite's story, the reply is directed at one Mister Pyramid Termite (don't strain your brain, it's still in the second person) by way of the word 'sadist' and general context yielded by Mister Pyramid Termite's selection of Topic and Section. With the lethal combo, he is inflicting a [jocular,] lethal literary experience on the readership. Such a conclusion can be derived explicitally, rather than implicitly as in the case of your ludicrous reflexive conclusion. While a rather self-centered individual would assume I [Hide The Hamster] was addressing the comment reader, the astute, cunning linguists and casual readers of the world will realise that the author [Mister Pyramid Termite] is a sadist.


    Free spirits are a liability.

    August 8, 2004: "it certainly is" and I had engaged in a homosexual tryst.

    [ Parent ]
    The Word You Want... (4.66 / 3) (#25)
    by Juppon Gatana on Wed Feb 19, 2003 at 02:05:00 AM EST

    Is, "explicitly," not "explicitally," which is not a word.

    I actually agree with you entirely, but seeing as how this is a back and forth grammatical and syntactical argument, I couldn't resist. Also, I'm an asshole who derives pleasure from pointing out the tiniest of errors in other people's otherwise correct work.

    - Juppon Gatana
    能ある鷹は爪を隠す。
    (Nou aru taka wa tsume wo kakusu.)
    [ Parent ]
    If you have a penchant for (4.20 / 5) (#33)
    by Hide The Hamster on Wed Feb 19, 2003 at 05:40:28 AM EST

    unwarranted ad hominem attacks, dick and ass jokes, chicken fried steak and cocktease, we could be kindered spirits.


    Free spirits are a liability.

    August 8, 2004: "it certainly is" and I had engaged in a homosexual tryst.

    [ Parent ]
    Well, Yes and No (4.00 / 4) (#39)
    by Juppon Gatana on Wed Feb 19, 2003 at 01:19:37 PM EST

    Separately I care for none of these. When combined, however, they represent the fulfillment of all my greatest fanatsies.

    - Juppon Gatana
    能ある鷹は爪を隠す。
    (Nou aru taka wa tsume wo kakusu.)
    [ Parent ]
    Point of view (5.00 / 2) (#63)
    by gnovos on Fri Feb 21, 2003 at 03:47:45 AM EST

    I believe your opponent in this battle was referring to the expected response that one Mister Pyramid Termite would receive from his readership (observing the fact that Fiction tends to be one of the less than popular areas and Politics tends to bring the particularly harsh and cruel members of teh audience to the forefront) and thus made the valid catigorization of masochist.

    A Haiku: "fuck you fuck you fuck/you fuck you fuck you fuck you/fuck you fuck you snow" - JChen
    [ Parent ]
    Missing poll option (4.14 / 7) (#3)
    by godix on Tue Feb 18, 2003 at 07:25:28 PM EST

    Watching people get hurt is funny.

    AKA Americas Funniest Home Video poll option


    You son of a bitch!
    - RyoCokey

    Ah well ... (3.33 / 3) (#16)
    by pyramid termite on Tue Feb 18, 2003 at 09:24:00 PM EST

    ... it seems as though my little fable is dying a slow death. If anyone wishes to read it in the future, it was in my diary. I'm going to bed now; I hope I won't have any dreams of cigars.

    On the Internet, anyone can accuse you of being a dog.
    It's actually doing pretty well (5.00 / 2) (#35)
    by Rogerborg on Wed Feb 19, 2003 at 06:59:51 AM EST

    Mine went the full 36 hours before autoposting to Fiction.  It's not over until the fat scoop code sings.

    Good luck; it would be nice to see someone else get voted there on merit rather than resection by the Queen Bee.

    "Exterminate all rational thought." - W.S. Burroughs
    [ Parent ]

    Congratulations! (5.00 / 1) (#51)
    by Rogerborg on Thu Feb 20, 2003 at 10:01:34 AM EST

    Welcome to the exclusive club that is the Fiction section.  I'm now half as smug, but delighted to have the company.  Roll on many more.

    "Exterminate all rational thought." - W.S. Burroughs
    [ Parent ]

    its lucky to get here first (3.00 / 3) (#56)
    by sanketh on Thu Feb 20, 2003 at 11:46:46 AM EST

    first, something that piques me. did u really intend that allegory or whatever that someone posted up above.(i am pretty sure u did not). which brings us to the issue of why critics need to read in meanings and not judge the story as it is. i mean, take any critical review of a novel and that thing is so hyped up that u r totally flummoxed when u read it and dont find anything so hyper.

    i think u should have had more meat in the story. right now, it is a plain insult the reader's sensiblity. i can understand if u want to make a point like 'all this politics does not matter anyway' and give a sorta sarcastic touch to the whole thing, but right now, it's too simple.

    so as i said, its lucky to be here, and u r lucky to get so many comments about it and we should be thankful for this collective expression of joblessness.


    == Sometimes I think the surest sign that intelligent life exists elsewhere in the universe is that none of it has tried to contact us.
    [ Parent ]

    Well, sanketh ... (none / 0) (#58)
    by pyramid termite on Thu Feb 20, 2003 at 03:54:45 PM EST

    ... if I were to tell you what the meaning is, it would not only be pretentious, but it would also limit the meaning to only that which I understand. I will say that it is considerably more than "all this politics does not matter anyway" and that I am employed.

    On the Internet, anyone can accuse you of being a dog.
    [ Parent ]
    interpretations (2.50 / 2) (#68)
    by sanketh on Fri Feb 21, 2003 at 10:55:32 AM EST

    do u think that a story ought to be allowed to take on interpretations that its author did not intend? it is an issue that has piqued me for quite some time and critical reviews pain me for that reason, in the sense that they attribute all sorts of intentions to what could have been a fundamentally simple statement. on the other hand, one can say that by allowing a reader to take his meaning from a story, one exploits the power of visualisation in words.

    if u say that readers' interpretations rule, maybe u step into realms like those of poetry. i think it is fundamental that a piece of prose writing should convey what it set out to convey. don't u think so?

    ok whatever u think of all these, i would like to confess that u have caught my interest. i really want to know what other meanings u intended in this story. plus u didn't answer that question about whether any allegory was intended.

    ('jobless' = 'idle' ... sorry if i suggested otherwise.)


    == Sometimes I think the surest sign that intelligent life exists elsewhere in the universe is that none of it has tried to contact us.
    [ Parent ]

    The answers - (none / 0) (#69)
    by pyramid termite on Fri Feb 21, 2003 at 03:54:22 PM EST

    do u think that a story ought to be allowed to take on interpretations that its author did not intend?

    Yes. i really want to know what other meanings u intended in this story.

    No, sorry.

    On the Internet, anyone can accuse you of being a dog.
    [ Parent ]
    Ooops (5.00 / 1) (#70)
    by pyramid termite on Fri Feb 21, 2003 at 03:55:29 PM EST

    do u think that a story ought to be allowed to take on interpretations that its author did not intend?

    Yes.

    On the Internet, anyone can accuse you of being a dog.
    [ Parent ]
    Helllll Yeah! (4.40 / 10) (#24)
    by Sairon on Wed Feb 19, 2003 at 01:35:14 AM EST

    Sting, baby, sting! I must admit, when it comes to political debates, I'm even getting tired of people who are supposed to be on the same side as me. I hope this makes it through the queue!

    Jared

    The moral of the story... (4.72 / 11) (#26)
    by tang gnat on Wed Feb 19, 2003 at 02:42:08 AM EST

    Don't try to screw with a government that actually works, or you'll get hurt.

    Hmm (none / 0) (#75)
    by Vidatu on Mon Mar 03, 2003 at 03:23:33 AM EST


    Work's in the sense of stifling citizen revolt? (force)
    or
    Work's in the sense of providing citizens what they want (media control)



    Insert witty quip here["7734206"]


    [ Parent ]
    [-1 Iraq] (4.79 / 29) (#32)
    by zakalwe on Wed Feb 19, 2003 at 05:39:31 AM EST

    Bah! its obviously a thinly disguised reference to Iraq. A beehive is a despotic monarcy, ruled by a queen bee (Saddam) in control of the honey (oil), and with many defending bees, who are insignificant compared with the superpowers (the libertarian, symbolising the US, and the communist symbolising the more socialist regimes in the rest of the world.

    The bees then must symbolise terrorism, which will be stirred up in the middle east through the intervention of the rest of the world. Individually no more than a pinprick, the vast idealism of such rampant terrorism may nevertheless bring the world to its knees.

    At first glance this might appear to be an anti-war stance, but looking more closely, the event that triggers this is the exporting of foreign thought and ideas (capitalism / socialism) on the hive - not an attack. This leads to the question of how you do get the honey - and in the absence of protective clothing etc, the only way is to destroy the bees. The author is clearly advocating that the entire middle east should be nuked (smoking out the bees) and colonised.

    From this, we can learn several valuable lessons:

    1. Pyramid Termite is a genocidal monster
    2. Bee's have links to terrorism and must be stopped!
    3. Analogys can be interpreted lots of ways
    4. I really should be working instead of wasting my time writing this


    Exploits (4.61 / 13) (#34)
    by alfadir on Wed Feb 19, 2003 at 06:25:00 AM EST

    I'll just add a quote that came to mind..
    Under capitalism, man exploits man. Under communism, it's just the opposite.
    -- John Kenneth Galbraith


    In Sov..... (4.73 / 15) (#36)
    by rdskutter on Wed Feb 19, 2003 at 10:06:49 AM EST

    oh fuck it.


    Yanks are like ICBMs: Good to have on your side, but dangerous to have nearby. - OzJuggler
    History will be kind to me for I intend to write it.[ Parent ]

    I love it. (4.66 / 3) (#45)
    by drivers on Wed Feb 19, 2003 at 08:40:24 PM EST

    It reads just like a discordian koan.

    Bees... (4.84 / 13) (#47)
    by thom2 on Wed Feb 19, 2003 at 11:44:33 PM EST

    ...give us beeswax and honey. To communicate, they dance. And yet they die when they sting.

    The answer is all there. You just need to think about it a while...

    This is what qualifies as fiction? (3.33 / 6) (#49)
    by trane on Thu Feb 20, 2003 at 08:47:35 AM EST

    Lame, transparent, boring parables?

    While something like the transporter story (short, clever) gets shot down?

    bah.

    You don't like it? (5.00 / 3) (#50)
    by Rogerborg on Thu Feb 20, 2003 at 09:57:21 AM EST

    Write your own.  There is no cabal.

    "Exterminate all rational thought." - W.S. Burroughs
    [ Parent ]

    You have your vote (3.33 / 3) (#52)
    by trane on Thu Feb 20, 2003 at 10:08:25 AM EST

    I maintain my right to bitch about it.

    As Kurt Cobain sang, "I'm not the only one, bahahahaha I'm not the only one, bhahahaha I'm not the only one, bhahahaha I'm not the only one."

    [ Parent ]

    besides, you liked the transporter story iirc...nt (5.00 / 1) (#53)
    by trane on Thu Feb 20, 2003 at 10:11:53 AM EST



    [ Parent ]
    I *did* like it (5.00 / 1) (#54)
    by Rogerborg on Thu Feb 20, 2003 at 10:37:28 AM EST

    But I also thought that it was flawed and too clever for its own good.  I enjoyed reading it, and was disappointed - but not surprised - that the author didn't take advantage of the edit queue and editorial comments to actually edit it into a form that would have been voted up and read by more people.

    Why not write your own version of it and submit it?

    "Exterminate all rational thought." - W.S. Burroughs
    [ Parent ]

    Well (none / 0) (#65)
    by trane on Fri Feb 21, 2003 at 04:29:29 AM EST

    I thought it was pretty perfect. I couldn't think of a change I could make to make it better..."dumbing it down" for the k5 fiction-reading audience seems like such a cop-out.

    [ Parent ]
    Actually.... (5.00 / 1) (#55)
    by squigly on Thu Feb 20, 2003 at 11:32:30 AM EST

    I see it as a parody of lame transparent boring parables.  If I got the wrong end of the stick, I apologise for my +1

    [ Parent ]
    a lame transparent parody of lame transparent...nt (none / 0) (#67)
    by trane on Fri Feb 21, 2003 at 04:37:35 AM EST



    [ Parent ]
    You just made my day (none / 0) (#77)
    by p3d0 on Sun Apr 06, 2003 at 04:02:46 PM EST

    (...and in the name of shameless self-promotion, here is the aforementioned transporter story.)
    --
    Patrick Doyle
    My comments do not reflect the opinions of my employer.
    [ Parent ]
    your link (none / 0) (#79)
    by PickleFeature on Tue Apr 15, 2003 at 10:24:32 PM EST

    i wanted to read the story that is referenced and it was a dead link, it said "story cannot be found." is there another way to read it? thanks!


    A day without sunshine is like. . .night.

    [ Parent ]
    Link works for me (none / 0) (#80)
    by p3d0 on Thu Apr 17, 2003 at 02:57:19 PM EST

    I don't know what's going on. I'm using IE; are you using a different browser?

    Try pasting this text into your address box: http://www.kuro5hin.org/story/2003/1/29/1068/10300
    --
    Patrick Doyle
    My comments do not reflect the opinions of my employer.
    [ Parent ]

    You posted that story, right? (none / 0) (#81)
    by leviramsey on Thu Apr 17, 2003 at 08:21:52 PM EST

    After an article is killed, only the poster of the article can see it.



    [ Parent ]
    Thanks (5.00 / 1) (#82)
    by p3d0 on Sat Apr 19, 2003 at 11:06:13 AM EST

    I didn't know that. I wonder why that is?
    --
    Patrick Doyle
    My comments do not reflect the opinions of my employer.
    [ Parent ]
    Try this one (none / 0) (#83)
    by p3d0 on Sat Apr 19, 2003 at 11:09:27 AM EST

    You can find almost the same story in a diary entry I made here before the fiction section had been created.
    --
    Patrick Doyle
    My comments do not reflect the opinions of my employer.
    [ Parent ]
    What have we done? A suggestion. (1.50 / 2) (#59)
    by Jman1 on Thu Feb 20, 2003 at 04:22:37 PM EST

    I was all for a fiction section.  I thought it would be a great addition.  But I think this story demonstrates a problem with a fiction section on k5.  Maybe you (k5 users and Rusty) disagree, which is fine.  Just ignore this.
    <p>
    The problem is, I envisioned works of fiction meeting somewhat higher standards than your daily throwaway postings.  This fable is something that could have been written in 5 minutes by anybody.  I'm shocked that it got voted up, but it makes me understand something: Fiction submissions should be scored differently than other submissions!  Fiction works could require a higher threshold, or perhaps be a totally different sort of thing...  a monthly feature, perhaps.
    <p>
    Maybe I'm just a fiction snob, but I think it'd be really great if k5 had some kickass fiction every now and then, and if it weren't heavily diluted by stuff like this.
    <p>
    pyramid termite, I'm not trying to be harsh or anything, just speaking my mind.  

    good idea (2.00 / 1) (#78)
    by eudas on Tue Apr 15, 2003 at 06:23:33 PM EST

    could different sections have different posting threshholds? would it be difficult to code into scoop? is it already there?

    eudas
    "We're placing this wood in your ass for the good of the world" -- mrgoat
    [ Parent ]

    What have we done? A suggestion. (2.80 / 5) (#60)
    by Jman1 on Thu Feb 20, 2003 at 04:23:02 PM EST

    I was all for a fiction section. I thought it would be a great addition. But I think this story demonstrates a problem with a fiction section on k5. Maybe you (k5 users and Rusty) disagree, which is fine. Just ignore this.

    The problem is, I envisioned works of fiction meeting somewhat higher standards than your daily throwaway postings. This fable is something that could have been written in 5 minutes by anybody. I'm shocked that it got voted up, but it makes me understand something: Fiction submissions should be scored differently than other submissions! Fiction works could require a higher threshold, or perhaps be a totally different sort of thing... a monthly feature, perhaps.

    Maybe I'm just a fiction snob, but I think it'd be really great if k5 had some kickass fiction every now and then, and if it weren't heavily diluted by stuff like this.

    pyramid termite, I'm not trying to be harsh or anything, just speaking my mind.

    You want better fiction? (4.60 / 5) (#61)
    by j1mmy on Thu Feb 20, 2003 at 05:24:41 PM EST

    Write it yourself.

    You can't expect anyone here to live up to your "standard." None of us know what your standard is, and I, for one, don't care. I've enjoyed a number of the fiction pieces posted so far and I'm sure more will be written in the future that I enjoy and you do not.

    [ Parent ]

    I'm disappointed (none / 0) (#64)
    by Menard on Fri Feb 21, 2003 at 03:53:38 AM EST

    That this nonsense gets voted up and the stuff that's at least actually fiction and not half-assed political satire dies so quickly. At the same time, I guess the people have spoken and all that jazz.

    [ Parent ]
    The people can change their tune... (none / 0) (#66)
    by trane on Fri Feb 21, 2003 at 04:35:38 AM EST

    ...maybe...nah!

    [ Parent ]
    Cherub Rock (5.00 / 1) (#62)
    by phraggle on Thu Feb 20, 2003 at 07:39:22 PM EST

    Who wants honey as long as theres some money?

    Or to add realism... (3.88 / 9) (#71)
    by riptalon on Fri Feb 21, 2003 at 06:30:09 PM EST

    This certainly deserves the category fiction since it portrays the propaganda images of these two ideologies rather than their true nature. I assume you mean marxist, or some derivative thereof, when you say communist, as this is the common misusage. Similarly I assume you are using the american definition of libertarian, where liberty is very narrowly defined. A more accurate depiction of this senario might be:

    A marxist and a captialist want to get some honey from hives of bees. The marxist attacks a hive and subjugates the bees forcing them to produce honey for the state. The marxist tells the bees this is for their own good and everyone will benefit eventually. In addition the bees are given enough necessities to survive, so they don't become too rebelious.

    The capitalist attacks a hive and seizes control of it. The bees are given the "choice" of starving to death or working to produce honey for the capitalist. The capitalist tells the bees this is for their own good and everyone will benefit eventually. In addition the bees are "paid" a small fraction of the worth of the honey they produce in order that they can obtain enough necessities to survive, so they don't become too rebelious.

    It can be seen that the only difference between capitalism and marxism is the faked choice that capitalism presents the workers. Of course in a way marxism provides the same choice since you can aways "choose" to be put up against a wall and shot rather than working for the state in a marxist system. From the point of view of the workers however these systems are virtually indistinguishable since the ultimate result is the same, work for your conquerer or die. True, capitalism sometimes provides a limited "choice of masters" but this no real compensation for being a slave in the first place.

    You will notice I have sneakily replace libertarian with capitalist in the above example. This is because "libertarianism" is just a rather deluded version of capitalism where the crucial roll of the state in creating and maintaining capitalism is ignored. The state quite literally puts the capital in capitalism, since only by force, can people be deprived of the means to support themselves, and so be forced into slavery. While it is possible to have a state without capitalism the inverse is not true.



    Spoilsport (nt) (3.66 / 3) (#72)
    by pyramid termite on Fri Feb 21, 2003 at 09:54:36 PM EST


    On the Internet, anyone can accuse you of being a dog.
    [ Parent ]
    There is at least one difference (4.75 / 4) (#73)
    by Alan Dershowitz on Fri Feb 21, 2003 at 10:12:23 PM EST

    There is a crucial distinction between communism and the state-controlled capitalism you substituted for laissez faire capitalism. In practice, capitalism provides a high standard of living. (That might not have been the case had you left alone the term "libertarian", which almost certainly meant a laissez faire capitalist in the fable. Those systems tend not to work as well.)

    I suppose one could argue that you are still a "slave", but under what system do you not have to work to sustain your existence? If you are making a living working for "The Man", is that better or worse than eking out a self-sustained existence in a cave? Even under Stalinism-communism people lived in houses they did not build, ate food they did not raise, and took advantage of services they did not have the ability to provide for themselves. In the United States people fared even better, and if they didn't, at least they had the freedom to vote, or move to another town, county, state, or even out of the country to suit their liking. That some people chose not to do this does not mean they were slaves. It means they either were bound by obligations outside the realm of government or business (e.g. family), or simply weighed the value of moving lower than staying.

    It is true that some people, such as African Americans have not enjoyed many of these choices. It is also true that over time black slavery was abolished and civil rights acts were passed; the Soviet Union over time collapsed due to bureaucracy and corruption.

    Lastly, I'm not sure what you mean about government taking by "force" the means you have to sustain yourself. The entire reason for trade, and hence capitalism is that through trade one can aquire that which one cannot produce themself. People in the USA at least, pay taxes as a means of ensuring that these goods can be aquired with minimal chance of having said goods promptly stolen, which also insinuates that people are willingly trading (not having "stolen") a portion of their income to enhance their life.

    [ Parent ]

    I don't see it (4.16 / 6) (#74)
    by riptalon on Mon Feb 24, 2003 at 07:35:16 PM EST

    In practice, capitalism provides a high standard of living.

    On what do you base this? A high standard of living for who? The small number of capitalists at the top of the pyramid, certainly. But for everyone else it must reduce their standard of living. Capitalism works by paying workers a fraction of what the products they make are worth and then selling them back to them at full price to realize a profit. How this can be seen as anything other than exploitation is beyond me?

    I suppose one could argue that you are still a "slave", but under what system do you not have to work to sustain your existence?

    Well that is the point isn't it? The system. Why is there any need for a "system", capitalist or marxist, if people are just working to sustain their existance? Of course there isn't. The system exists to force them to work, not for their own benefit, but for the benefit of their masters, the corporation or the party.

    the Soviet Union over time collapsed due to bureaucracy and corruption.

    The Soviet Union collapsed because of the cold war not because of "bureaucracy and corruption". Capitalism has far too much bureaucracy and corruption of its own to go throwing stones at marxists. In fact the economic growth of the Soviet Union tended to be higher than that of the United States (4.8 percent compared to 3.4 percent as an example). However the Soviet Union was starting off from a much lower level since Tsarist Russia was relatively poor and backward.

    This was a problem since they needed to defend themselves against an enemy which controlled, directly or indirectly, the majority of the worlds resources. This resulted in them spending a much greater fraction of their GDP on defense to try and keep up with the United States and hence a much smaller fraction was available for luxuries. Fundamentally the systems in the United States and the Soviet Union were not really that different, and the winner was decided before the race started by their initial economic strength and the resources they had access to.

    I'm not sure what you mean about government taking by "force" the means you have to sustain yourself.

    I agreed that from the perspective of the United States, which has always been a capitalist country, and was capitalist even before it became independent, the force involved in capitalism is somewhat less obvious. But then that is the point of capitalism, to obfuscate the coersion necessary for the exploitation involved. A clearer example that can be used to understand the nature of capitalism is the case of the United Kingdom, since it used to be a feudal society and underwent the transition to a capitalist one around 1650-1750. Prior to this change the average person worked the land and the majority of their labour was for their own benefit. They were forced to pay taxes to the Church (about 30 percent of the food they grew) but the nobility recieved little, other than status, from the land they had title too.

    Eventually greed caused the elite to see if they could "improve" the utility of the peasants by increasing the level of exploitation. However it is difficult to exploit peasants because all they have is the food they grow and since they grow their own food, taxing them for more food doesn't help the elite. There is only so much even the most glutenous person can eat, and there is no one you can sell the food to. The only way to significantly increase the level of exploitation is to seperate the peasants from the land so they have no way of supporting themselves. Once this is done the elite can force them to work as hard as they like, as they will control the access to all the food.

    The Enclosure acts were the "legal" mechanism used to take land from the peasants and give it to rich landowners. This forced the peasants to "choose" between starving to death and working directly for the landowners for wages. At this point you also introduce the concept of unemployment which had previously not existed. The excess peasants, not need to work on the farms of large landowners, where herded into the cities to work in the new factories that were being built.

    This whole process employed a considerable amount of "force". Not only in taking the peasants land but in controlling the resulting discontent. The formation of a police force and a standing army date to this time. In fact army units were regularly garrisoned right next to factories so volatile was the situation. After all many factory workers, who were working up to 18 hours a day in appaling conditions, could remember a time when they only had to work a few hours a day outside planting and harvest time. The surprising thing is that within a generation or two most people no longer realised that it had ever been different.

    In the US the people having their land taken away where the Indians (who of course don't count), and they were mostly killed rather than enslaved. But the overall effect is the same. All the capital was appropriated by force into the hands of a small elite and everyone else must work for them. It is interesting to note the apparent contradiction of millions of Indians being wiped out at the same time as millions of African slaves are being imported. Of course the reason that the Indians weren't enslaved was that they had grown up almost free, and so weren't used to obeying anyones orders. The slaves from west Africa on the other hand had grown up in very hierarchical societies like those in Europe and so were much more suited to be slaves.

    The entire reason for trade, and hence capitalism is that through trade one can aquire that which one cannot produce themself.

    This is a fundamental misunderstanding that is encouraged by capitalists to hide the true nature of capitalism. In reality there is little in the way of a realationship between trade and capitalism. People have been trading goods for thousands of years and with the exception of the Roman Empire and the present era it has had nothing to do with capitalism. Capitalism is a system of production in which a small number of people "own" all the capital (land, mines, factories etc.) and everyone else is forced to work for them or starve. Economists like to totally ignore production and just talk about trading goods in the "market" since it is during production that all the exploitation takes place.



    [ Parent ]
    OK. (5.00 / 4) (#76)
    by Alan Dershowitz on Thu Mar 06, 2003 at 07:24:59 PM EST

    1) I base my statement on the fact that the USA has the fattest, longest living, and dare I say wealthiest poor in the world. Additionally: I own a car. If I had to make one myself, I wouldn't have one. Therefore, I assume that trade increases my standard of living.

    2) You defeated your own point by admitting that growth was larger in the soviet union due to them starting out worse due to the Tsardom. Additionally, growth doesn't mean anything in this case, because it is not connected to standard of living; Soviets were literally "worked" to death, which I'm sure contributed to this production spurt. Furthermore, just what were they producing? Any good Russian history text can tell you: nothing! Nothing of any value anyway. Production was done in ways that looked good on paper, at the expense of producing useful goods.

    I'd recommend you look into the "Tsardom" of Queen Catherine the Great. That offers a much better comparison to capitalism in Russian society. It has its warts too, but it was also a period of unprecedented growth and social improvement in Russia.

    The difference is that in the USA, I could keep what was mine, and so I worked harder for it. In the Soviet Union, I worked harder under threat of death, and "owned" nothing. Thats about as different as systems come.

    3) I don't know where you learned about serfdom, but their lords kept everything the serfs made, save tithes and approximately 1/7 of all produced, or one days production out of 7. The transition from the slavery of serfdom to the slavery of unchecked capitalism (which you will note I also said was bad) was not as clear-cut as you make it. I'd also point out that in the USA, Russia and Great Britain, industrial revolution spurred the birth of a middle class. There may have been horrible and long working conditions (still usually less than 24 hour serfdom), child labor and the like (which are of course all bad) but where are these countries now? With Russia excepted for obvious reasons, the USA and GB are doing pretty damn good compared to either the industrial revolution, slavery or serfdom. Thats my point.

    Specifically, the enclosure acts you talk about occured following a period after the King had to give in to peasants to avoid further uprisings. The period in which the gentry did not have control of peasant land is insignificant. These laws took back the authority the lords previously had over the land, after a short and judicous (for the nobles) hiatus.

    Again, I admit that the indians and african americans have not been graciously helped by capitalism. This is a racism issue. You even made my point for me. No one even tried to convert these people, they were just killed and enslaved. I suppose you could chalk this up to capitalism (or if you are jewish, polish or crimean, chalk it up to communism) but I seem to recall other systems exploiting people too. People suck. Its a fact. You case is a little stronger in with Africans, because they were exploited for capitalism. Well, slavery is a LOT older than capitalism. I don't see any existing political system it hasn't existed under.

    Finally, your description of capitalism is a semantic argument. If thats how you _define_ capitalism, then I cannot argue with you. If thats how you define capitalism, then yes capitalism is bad. I don't and only demagogues define it the way you do. I'd call what you described, at best "despotic capitalism" or at worst "laissez faire".

    I don't disagree that production is owned by a few. Thats probably your best point. I do disagree that there is not at least implicit acceptance of this relationship. I don't care a whit about running a mine. I do like things made out of metal. So, I buy things that are indirectly from a mine. The mine worker is doing what he does so that he can make enough money to survive. Its fair to say that if he was more capable, he wouldn't be working in a mine. You couldn't necessarily say that in early industrial revolution Great Britain, but you can say that in modern Great Britain. If I were an Objectivist, I would argue that the mine worker in the USA today benefits more than the wealthy because he isn't the one innovating--he just takes advantage of new inventions, reduced work days, improved working conditions etc, in spite of his lack of ability to create these things for himself.

    and of course you ignore that fact that in the USA anyone can become a seller instead of a buyer, provided they have the initiative. This works in theory because it bears out in practice. It's so easy that people are making a living out of reselling junk on E-Bay.

    I left one of your earlier points for last. Yes, it is all about the "system". I disagree that people are barely eking out an existence under capitalism, and this is easily demonstrated by the wealthiest and most materialistic nation on Earth. What's your recommendation? If you say Anarchy, forgive me if I laugh out loud.

    [ Parent ]

    This product is licensed, not sold... (none / 0) (#87)
    by spammacus on Sat Sep 27, 2003 at 12:12:23 PM EST

    The difference is that in the USA, I could keep what was mine, and so I worked harder for it.

    That's true now, but it's starting to change. We need to be careful of this.



    -- "Asshole, deconstruct thyself." - Mr. Surly
    [ Parent ]
    The moral of the story is... (2.00 / 1) (#84)
    by basic reality on Sun Apr 20, 2003 at 06:48:05 PM EST

    ...violent revolution in defense of one's livelihood.  
    or
    ...live and let live.
    or
    ...fill in the blank.

    Great story.  It's like the I Ching.

    --
    In the end we are all children, walking through this strange land between birth and death. None of us knows much. The best we can do is stay close and hold ha

    Very funny (2.00 / 1) (#85)
    by csole on Fri Jun 13, 2003 at 07:48:53 AM EST

    I liked the story :)
    ------- Children are inheritable: If your parents didn't have children, neither will you.
    Bee-strike (2.00 / 1) (#86)
    by jonsg on Thu Aug 28, 2003 at 05:04:55 AM EST

    ...and then the worker bees went on strike, demanding shorter flowers and more honey...

    A Fable | 87 comments (61 topical, 26 editorial, 0 hidden)
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