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Communism; Capitalism; Different name, same consequence?

 

 

 

Communism; Capitalism; Different name, same consequence?

 

   

    In the following paper I would trace the impact of Marxs main arguments to their manifestation in the lives of Molly James and Balbina Duque. The way in which their lives are shaped by, and in turn, exemplify the human cost and outcome of Capitalism. As a personal insight, I would go on to argue that in each of Marxs complaints against the system, he offers none other than the same bottom-line condition packaged as a seemingly socialist sweeter pill to swallow. In other words, I would follow through Marxs claims of how it ought to be, to show the outcome as one and the same with that of Capitalism; claiming humans will be humans will be humans, what ever kind of ism you choose to call it.
The story of Molly James and Balbina Duque portrays the story of Capitalism at its end, and its beginning, respectively. In New Jersey, Capitalism has lifted a city into manufacturing their own stability and security. Though low on savings, Molly managed to raise and support a family on her hard-labor job. But those times are over; as profit maximization kicks in, molly and her friends are abandoned. Now the fresh promise of Capitalism reaches hopeful Balbina; offering her a chance to be exploited until a cheaper source is found in a few decades. For Marx, that would be a clear-cut manifestation of the natural rise and demise of the Capitalist system. With profit-maximizing principles of exploitation deeming the workers reward as far away as possible from the actual worth of their labor, Capitalism is digging its own grave.


    It becomes an interesting case to analyze Marx against since we have Molly in the supposed post- Capitalist stage: where unemployment and discontent of the exploited majority supposedly leads to revolution while it clearly does not. While Balbinas predicament shows once more the promise of the system in a chronic of a death foretold manner overshadowed by Pattersons demise.
Granting from the start that Mollys misfortune and Balbinas short-term pleasant illusion are direct products of the Capitalist system, we acknowledge that Marx does not complain in vain. Yet when you recognize something is wrong, the tough part is always describing how, if at all, it could be made better. In other words, yes, Capitalism is an exploitive system where benefits are not shared equally. Yet Capitalism is a human product, pointing us towards the question of are humans an exploitive creature just playing out their nature to its natural equilibrium Let us consider Marxs suggestion as to how it all ought to be, juxtaposing those adjustments with the reality communist conditions create. The following analysis must be broken down to a few cardinal aspects of the nature of labor: power, motivation, and distribution of benefits.
Sure, all are equal. Yet someone needs to operate the machinery and someone needs to hire new workers Obviously the former becomes weaker and more expandable than the latter. It is there that the first illusionary flakes begin to chip off of the idealistic communist claim. That is, arent the factory foreman and the comrade commissar eventually in the same position? If a worker is consistently late, it is up to both to set them back in line; if it doesnt work, it is up to both to let that worker go. Pushing it to


   the next step: if two equally qualified workers apply for a single job, but one is the Foremans or Commissars nephew the answer is unfortunately obvious. Now extrapolate the micro into the macro and we can see that on a larger scale the same holds true. Namely, the state is gone and the Party takes its place, yet just as the head of state, someone must head the party. That is, call it what you want, but as long as it comes down to people holding privileged positions, the condition is one and the same.
Sure, Marx talks about re-educating the people, making sure they do not hold self-interest. Yet painful as it may sound, is it not a bleak modal of a human that does not choose the welfare of their relative over that of a stranger? Philosophically speaking, I would claim that as long as we are each restrained in our own bodies, it is a self-contradictory notion to expect that being to abandon any self-regard for the good of the whole. That is, can we expect the communist worker to not want to be a commissar?
Or is the minister of agriculture any weaker than the Commissar of agriculture with all the perks involved? Contemplating those notions cannot avoid raising a strong semblance to Orwells animal farm since it seems that pigs, with all best intention, would still be pigs
Concluding that the distribution of power remains the same under Communism as it is under Capitalism, we can turn to evaluate individual motivation. Both Molly and Balbina are more than willing to work long hard hours to provide for themselves and their families. They take on that hard labor since it pays more than an easier job. Now how would their motivation be affected by removing that factor and deeming all jobs equal?


   Why would anyone falling short of a full-fledged masochist take on that laborious demanding job? Here we see that unless tyranny commands the two, neither Molly nor Balbina would have chosen that job. Furthermore, if the two were not rewarded based on their effort and/or overtime, where would the productivity of the plant plunge to? On the strictly individual aspect, both might feel exploited if they give in an extra effort that goes unnoticed and un rewarded. Furthermore, none of the two would need to worry as for their childrens education and profession, since theyd be better off finding the simplest least demanding job if all rewards are the same. Now consider the personal sense of reward versus exploitation: Molly was proud to dedicate three decades of her life to the plant, feeling her effort was paid off by over-time and long term employment. For Balbina, the job is her "answered prayer". How would a system blind to their willingness to put extra-effort for extra-reward benefit their impoverishment?
Again extrapolating from the micro to the macro we can see that a nation-wide communist system would have to find a way to reward personal merit, or else all merit slips away. If either Molly or Balbina or their children could go on a long journey to become doctors and be rewarded the same, why go on the journey? Idealism rides a long way cut shorter by hungry mouths to feed.
Concluding that distribution of power would be the same, and motivation probably even lower in the communist case, the answer as to the distribution of benefits begins to present itself. That is, while power remains in the hands of those in charge, and motivations dying unless properly rewarded, how different would Mollys and Balbinas


   fate be under a communist system? Molly was able to support a family, a house, and a car, for three decades on the low wages of the capitalist system; Balbina is in a further back starting point. Yet Molly was able to buy all she did thanks to the Capitalist structure making her car affordable. Balbina has not yet ripped the fruits of the system in early stages of development in Mexico. Yet the only difference a communist system could bring into their lives is stricter means of power distribution and weaker motivation.
Marx rages over the fact that profit-maximization deems workers as commodities. Molly certainly felt that way as her employers made a cost-benefit calculation and decided to give her job to Balbina. However, let us consider the alternative: say both Molly and her co-workers as well as Balbina and her friends owned the means of production. In this case both factories would collide head on over the same market. The socialist mandate would have obligated them to coordinate their prices; raising Balbinas quality of life while lowering Mollys. Furthermore, simply in order to stay in business both would have to go down to the lowest prices possible, stripping away former factory profits and proceeding to bite off employee profits to a condition not far from the one theyre in. If prices were to be maintained high, so would the price of Mollys car and Balbinas rice: leaving them again in the same struggle
To conclude, while Mollys and Balbinas situation seemingly echoes Marxs arguments against Capitalism, a deeper analysis of the alternative reveals the human source. In other words, Marxs complaints are against the self-interested wretchedness of people, whatever you make them call their system. We have granted from the start that


   Marx was right to blame their hard existence on Capitalism, yet have exposed to the core the unavoidable semblance of Communist conditions as long as its run by humans.


Ohad Maiman