Philosophy, July 20th

“Our capitalist, who is at home in vulgar economics, may perhaps say that he advanced his money with the intention of making more money out of it. The road to hell is paved with good intentions, and he might just as well have intended to make money without producing at all. He makes threats. He will not be caught napping again. In future he will buy the commodities in the market, instead of manufacturing them himself. But if all his brother capitalists were to do the same, where would he find his commodities on the market? And he cannot eat his money. He recites the catechism: ‘Consider my abstinence. I might have squandered the 15 shillings, but instead I consumed it productively and made yarn with it.’ Very true; and as a reward he is now in possession of good yarn instead of a bad conscience. As for playing the part of a miser, it would never do for him to relapse into such bad ways; we have already seen what such asceticism leads to. Besides, where there is nothing, the king has lost his rights; whatever the merits of his abstinence there is no money there to recompense him, because the value of the product is merely the sum of the values thrown into the process of production. Let him therefore console himself with the reflection that virtue is its own reward. But no, on the contrary, he becomes insistent. The yarn is of no use to him, he says. He produced it in order to sell it. In that case let him sell it, or, easier still, let him in future produce only things he needs himself, a remedy already prescribed by his personal physician MacCulloch as being of proven efficacy against an epidemic of over-production. Now our capitalist grows defiant. ‘Can the worker produce commodities out of nothing, merely by using his arms and legs? Did I not provide him with the materials through which, and in which alone, his labor could be embodied? And as the greater part of society consists of such impecunious creatures, have I not rendered society an incalculable service by providing my instruments of production, my cotton and my spindle, and the worker too, for have I not provided him with the means of subsistence? Am I to be allowed nothing in return for all this service?’ But has the worker not performed an equivalent service in return, by changing his cotton and his spindle into yarn? In any case, here the question of service does not arise. A service is nothing other than the useful effect of a use-value, be it that of a commodity, or that of the labor. But here we are dealing with exchange-value. The capitalist paid to the worker a value of 3 shillings, and the worker gave him back an exact equivalent in the value of 3 shillings added to the cotton: he gave him value for value. Our friend, who has up till now displayed all the arrogance of capital, suddenly takes on the unassuming demeanor of one of his own workers, and exclaims: ‘Have I myself not worked? Have I not performed the labor of superintendence, of overseeing the spinner? And does not this labor, too, create value?’ The capitalist’s own overseer and manager shrugs their shoulders. In the meantime, with a hearty laugh, he recovers his composure. The whole litany he has just recited was simply meant to pull the wool over our eyes. He himself does not care two pence for it. He leaves this and similar subterfuges and conjuring tricks to the professors of political economy, who are paid for it. He himself is a practical man, and although he does not always consider what he says outside his business, within his business he knows what he is doing.” – Karl Marx, Capital

“The produce of labor is apportioned at present in an inverse ratio to the labor – the largest portions to those who have never worked at all, the next largest to those whose work is almost nominal, and so in a descending scale, the remuneration dwindling as the work grows harder and more disagreeable, until the most fatiguing and exhausting bodily labor cannot count with certainty on being able to earn even the necessaries of life.” – John Stuart Mill

“The fact of their using language that implies knowledge is no evidence, because people who are emotionally excited in the ways that we have described declaim proofs, and passages from Empedocles; and those who have just started learning a subject reel off a string of propositions which they do not yet understand; because knowledge has to be assimilated, and that takes time. So, we must suppose that incontinent persons utter their sentiments as actors do.” – Aristotle, The Nicomachean Ethics

“The religious reflections of the real world can, in any case, vanish only when the practical relations of everyday life between man and man, and man and nature, generally present themselves to him in a transparent and rational form. The veil is not removed from the countenance of the social life-process, i.e. the process of material production, until it becomes production by freely associated men, and stands under their conscious and planned control. This, however, requires that society possess a material foundation, or a series of material conditions of existence, which in their turn are the natural and spontaneous product of a long and tormented historical development.” – Karl Marx, Capital

“Accept the fact that the achievement of your happiness is the only moral purpose of your life, and that happiness – not pain or mindless self-indulgence – is the proof of your moral integrity, since it is the proof and the result of your loyalty to the achievement of your values. Happiness was the responsibility you dreaded, it required the kind of rational discipline you did not value yourself enough to assume – and the anxious staleness of your days is the monument to your evasion of the knowledge that there is no moral substitute for happiness, that there is no more despicable coward than the man who deserted the battle for his joy, fearing to assert his right to existence, lacking the courage and the loyalty to life of a bird or a flower reaching for the sun. Discard the protective rags of that vice which you called a virtue: humility – learn to value yourself, which means: to fight for your happiness – and when you learn that pride is the sum of all virtues, you will learn to live like a man.” – Ayn Rand, Atlas Shrugged

“The more one calls his own, he says, the less others will be able to possess. This is not true where all property rests on a labor title and no other property do, I favor. It is only true of the increase of property through usury. But usury, as has already been shown, rests on privilege. When the property of one increase through an advance in the productivity of his labor, the property of others, far from decreasing on that account, increases to an almost equal extent. This year A produces 100 in hats and B 100 in shoes. Each consumes 50 in his own product and exchanges the remaining 50 for the other’s remaining 50. Suppose that next year A’s production remains the same, but that B’s, with no extra labor, rises to 200. In that case A’s remaining 50, instead of exchanging for B’s remaining 50 as this year, will exchange for 100 in B’s product. Under private possession, unaccompanied by usury, more for one man means, not less for another man, but more for all men. Where, then, is the privilege?” – Benjamin Tucker, Instead of a Book

“Perhaps it will be claimed in answer to this that the laborers, being voters, are responsible for any monopolies that exist, and are thereby debarred from pleading them as an excuse for violating the liberty of their employers. This is only true to the extent to which we may consider these laborers as the “fools” persuaded by the capitalists who are the “scoundrels” that “violence (in the form of enforced monopoly) is a friend of the workmen”; which does not make it less unbecoming in the scoundrels to rebuke and punish the fools for any disastrous consequences that may arise out of this appalling combination of scoundrelism and folly.” – Benjamin Tucker, Instead of a Book

“Alone permanent or relatively eternal in men is humanity, which steadily developing, grows richer in passing from one generation to another. I say relatively eternal, because, our planet once destroyed – it cannot fail to perish sooner or later, since everything which has begun must necessarily end – our planet once decomposed, to serve undoubtedly as an element of some new formation in the system of the universe, which alone is really eternal, who knows what will become of our whole human development? Nevertheless, the moment of this dissolution being an enormous distance in the future, we may properly consider humanity, relatively to the short duration of human life, as eternal. But this very fact of progressive humanity is real and living only through its manifestations at definite times, in definite places, in really living men, and not through its general idea.” – Michael Bakunin, God and the State

“But the knight-errant, let him explore the most hidden recesses of the universe, plunge into the perplexities of the labyrinths; let him, at all times, not be afraid of even impossibilities; in the barren, wasteful wilderness, let him defy the scorching rays of the solstitial sun, and the piercing chilling of the nipping frost. Lions must not frighten him, phantoms must not terrify him, nor dragons dismay him; for, in searching after such, engaging with, and getting the better of all difficulties, consists his true and proper occupation. It being my fortune then to be of this last order, I cannot, consistent with that, avoid engaging in whatever I deem to be part of the duty of my calling; and for these reasons, though’ I knew, that encountering the lions was in itself an act of the greatest temerity, yet it immediately belonged to my profession: I am very sensible that true fortitude is placed between the two extremes of cowardice and foolhardiness, but then, it is better valor should mount eve to an over daring hardiness, than be debased to pusillanimity; for, as the prodigal is more likely to become truly generous than the miser, so will the over courageous sooner be brought to true valor, than the coward to be courageous at all; and in undertaking adventures, I assure you, Don Diego, it is much better to overdo than underdo, and much better does it sound in the ear of him to whom it is related, that a knight is daring and presumptuous, than that he is pusillanimous and faint-hearted.” – Miguel de Cervantes, Don Quixote

Published by jim

Curator of things...

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