Saturday, November 16, 2013
Our Liberal founding fathers, Socialist and Agrarian Justice!
Much has been said about our founding fathers in recent years. The Tea Party has all of the sudden become historical scholars. They have become the defenders of our Country and our Constitution. Glenn Beck is their proverbial historical professor. Unfortunately their knowledge is fairly limited to specifically what their Fox News comrade regurgitates.
In 1797, Thomas Paine wrote a pamphlet called “Agrarian Justice“. It was his last great pamphlet and it was addressed to the French legislature, itself in the throes of revolution. While he addressed the pamphlet to the French legislature, he meant the plan in it to be universal, as he said in his accompanying letter.
The plan contained in this work is not adapted for any particular country alone: the principle on which it is based is general. But as the rights of man are a new study in this world, and one needing protection from priestly imposture, and the insolence of oppressions too long established, I have thought it right to place this little work under your safeguard.
Paine starts his proposal by discussing poverty. First of all, he says poverty is not natural:
“Poverty, therefore, is a thing created by that which is called civilized life. It exists not in the natural state. On the other hand, the natural state is without those advantages which flow from agriculture, arts, science and manufactures.”
Paine decries the disparity of income just I have and many other liberals have today:
“Civilization, therefore, or that which is so-called, has operated two ways: to make one part of society more affluent, and the other more wretched, than would have been the lot of either in a natural state.”
***I am sure you get the point of that, more over when you look at the
Socialism part in the past! ***
What are the progressive aspects of last century’s socialism? And from where did the original ideas come? These are extremely relevant questions in light of the international economic and political upheavals.
Modern socialism was born alongside capitalism and in opposition to it. When the basic features of industrial capitalism first came into existence — in the early 1800’s — people instantly recognized that drastic changes needed to be made: the large industries that emerged created dehumanizing conditions for the majority of people — forcing people to work twelve and fourteen hours a day for starvation wages — while a tiny minority were becoming fabulously wealthy. This is not what most people had fought for in the English, American, and French revolutions.
The “utopian socialists” in the early 1800s tried to correct these social inequities by proposing grand schemes that, if adopted by governments, would help harmonize society. These reformers, however, soon learned that those in power wanted little to do with their ideas. They also learned that “alternative economic models” set up next to the large capitalist enterprises were soon crushed by these corporations, due to the superior wealth encapsulated in the giant machines the capitalists owned, as well as the state machinery that the corporate elite controlled.
The Utopian’s failure was partially due to a lack of understanding. At the time, people were attempting to grasp what was happening to society; capitalist industrialization was happening at a lightning pace, with little preparedness or understanding from the majority of people. Blind economic forces seemed to be advancing uncontrollably.
In fact, modern socialism can be theoretically reduced to correcting the economic contradictions that inherently exist in capitalism. Marx listed these contradictions in his Capital; the “socialist solution” is merely the correction of these fundamental problems of capitalism.
For example, in capitalism’s embryonic stage, the capitalist ran a small shop, where perhaps he sold wagon wheels. But as capitalism evolved, a thousand times more goods were produced after the whole town was organized to make wagon wheels, each person performing a different, very small task, but all working cooperatively to produce the final product. The profit, however, went to one person — the owner, or owners. The result was that wagon wheels were immensely cheaper, and those who could not afford the high cost of the factory-approach of production — machines, labor costs, and raw materials — were pushed out of the market.
Eventually, those capitalists unable to compete evolved into workers, while more and more money was needed to purchase the giant machinery and infrastructure needed to stay a competitive capitalist; through this dynamic wealth increased at one pole and decreased at the other.
This shows a fundamental contradiction of capitalism: all of society is organized to produce goods and services; workers work “collectively” to build products, i.e., they work “socialistically,” but the vast majority of the wealth produced goes to a small minority of non-working, very wealthy shareholders. Thus, to correct this problem, the wealth produced by society should be distributed to those who create it, not funneled into the pockets of the rich. This would require transferring the vast majority of the productive machinery from private ownership of a few to the control of vast majority.
***Not many people know about the paper "Agrarian Justice." It's like many want it to be not known!
Well it sure seems like it to me! Like going from High school into college and finding out,
hoover wore a dress! That points to a selective education and missing out on a lot. Why?