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Proletariat
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True Democracy
Aug 3rd, 2013 at 12:01am
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A truly democratic society, i.e. a society with equally distributed political power, would be one in which the methods of production are owned neither by the government (Communism) and neither by a small capitalist minority (Capitalism). The reality of human society is that ownership = power. The minority who owns things (land, methods of production, resources, etc…) ultimately decide how these things are used and through the usage of these things determine the lives of the majority who own practically nothing and work for wages.  That is the political and economic reality of human society. The owner class owns the media (and resultantly shapes culture), owns education (shapes our worldview), owns the workplaces (shapes our daily lives and salaries), owns resources (owns our society itself). The workplace needs to be democratised and only then can true democracy flourish.

Libertarianism calls for the workers to make individual contracts with their bosses and to determine and shape their own lives as individuals. But it ignores the tremendous leverage that those who own things have over those who work for wages. It ignores the fact that we, as individuals, have next to zero say with how the world’s resources are used and how wealth is distributed. It ignores the fact that libertarianism will never leverage the power between a CEO (who shapes the lives of thousands of people) and a grocery store clerk (who has practically no bargaining power and isn’t even truly in control of his own life).

A democratic and prosperous society would be one in which entrepreneurism is allowed to flourish and is financially awarded but not one that allows entrepreneurs to exploit the common man. Entrepreneurs could become CEOs, managers, etc…. and make significant sums of money doing so. But they could not make decisions about their workplaces without the democratically established consent of their workers. That way factories would be owned by factories and law firms for example would be administrated by owners and law partners but these owners could only suggest decisions to the workers who themselves would ultimately have power to decide whether or not to implement these suggestions. That way the common man would be in control of his own work, his own life and his own society. Certain rules could be established to prevent the majority of workers from screwing over their fellow peers but generally speaking, workplace democracy would flourish. The government would be reduced to a minimum, to set some basic labour laws, give social security, administer an army, etc….  Those who own things and those who work for wages would be put on practically close to equal footing and a true democracy, for the first time in history, would be established.

Thoughts?
  

"You are horrified at our intending to do away with private property. But in your existing society, private property is already done away with for nine-tenths of the population." -Karl Marx
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Crystallas
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Re: True Democracy
Reply #1 - Aug 3rd, 2013 at 12:52am
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Libertarianism is the non-aggression axiom, in a nutshell. Anything that conflicts with the NAA, is in direct conflict with libertarianism.

Your statement includes aspects that are compatible with libertarianism, but not exclusive to, or attached to libertarianism.

I think you want to talk about economics, combating different concepts of micro and different concepts of  macro, which really isn't possible, since both exist and the other can not be ignored if one bias choses the side with one favorite, ect.

Also, another assumption that is not tied to, or true for libertarianism, is that libertarians are pro-democracy. The view of being pro-democracy can be compatible with libertarianism. The trends of most libertarians today do not support the concept of democracy, because the minority gets ignored and mocked. The two wolves and the one sheep vote on what to eat, ect.
  
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LibertariCAN
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Re: True Democracy
Reply #2 - Aug 3rd, 2013 at 1:29am
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Let's look at the main pillar in your foundation here:

You said:

Quote:
The reality of human society is that ownership = power.


This is something that Marx (and others in that line of thought) granted to be true in their works, but I never saw a proper definition of power, nor did I see a concrete base of reasoning for the statement of owenrship=power.

How do you define power? Do you mean economically speaking? Do you mean in terms of force? I know your posts elaborates on HOW this power is used, but first you must more accurately define what you mean by power and provide a concrete foundation for the rest of your statement.

Most of the time, when people get into an undefined discussion of power, this sort of statement comes up as well, like the one you made:

Quote:
A democratic and prosperous society would be one in which entrepreneurism is allowed to flourish and is financially awarded but not one that allows entrepreneurs to exploit the common man.


What do you view as exploitation? Some say exploitation is simply when one benefits from the work of another in ANY way. Others say that in order for exploitation to occur, certain abuses must occur as well. What do you define as exploitation when you talk to us about the "reality of human society"?

On another note: True democracy as a concept is morally and practically flawed, and if that is one of the main ideals behind your statements, then your foundation is rotten.
  

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Proletariat
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Re: True Democracy
Reply #3 - Aug 3rd, 2013 at 2:30am
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Crystallas wrote on Aug 3rd, 2013 at 12:52am:
Libertarianism is the non-aggression axiom, in a nutshell. Anything that conflicts with the NAA, is in direct conflict with libertarianism.


I personally believe that the non-aggression axiom is really oversimplified and not that good of a moral code to go by in the first place as a society. The NAA essentially holds that a capitalist could walk into an impoverished country and open up a sweatshop straight out of Dante’s Inferno in which the otherwise starving population would “voluntarily” choose to work. (I put the word voluntarily in quotes because they did not have any actual alternatives in the first place worth considering) That same axiom holds that if these horrifically exploited workers, through the use of some force on the capitalist, took over this sweatshop and set out in operating it themselves would then be the bad guys. I am not a revolutionary by any means and I believe we can build a better society without force but simply saying no force= a good society is, in my humble opinion, deeply flawed.

Crystallas wrote on Aug 3rd, 2013 at 12:52am:
Your statement includes aspects that are compatible with libertarianism, but not exclusive to, or attached to libertarianism.


Both libertarian and statist ideas have their place in a good society I would say. 

Crystallas wrote on Aug 3rd, 2013 at 12:52am:
I think you want to talk about economics, combating different concepts of micro and different concepts of  macro, which really isn't possible, since both exist and the other can not be ignored if one bias choses the side with one favorite, ect.


I am mostly trying to get your critiques of my views of a better society.

Crystallas wrote on Aug 3rd, 2013 at 12:52am:
Also, another assumption that is not tied to, or true for libertarianism, is that libertarians are pro-democracy. The view of being pro-democracy can be compatible with libertarianism. The trends of most libertarians today do not support the concept of democracy, because the minority gets ignored and mocked. The two wolves and the one sheep vote on what to eat, ect.


Democracy should be limited as not to infringe on personal rights by codified rules/laws, yes. Absolute democracy isn’t the answer. As for the sheep and the wolf, isn’t a perfect, stateless “free market”, at times negotiation between a sheep and a wolf on working conditions, salary, etc…?

  

"You are horrified at our intending to do away with private property. But in your existing society, private property is already done away with for nine-tenths of the population." -Karl Marx
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Proletariat
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Re: True Democracy
Reply #4 - Aug 3rd, 2013 at 2:44am
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LibertariCAN wrote on Aug 3rd, 2013 at 1:29am:
Let's look at the main pillar in your foundation here:

You said:


This is something that Marx (and others in that line of thought) granted to be true in their works, but I never saw a proper definition of power, nor did I see a concrete base of reasoning for the statement of owenrship=power.

How do you define power? Do you mean economically speaking? Do you mean in terms of force? I know your posts elaborates on HOW this power is used, but first you must more accurately define what you mean by power and provide a concrete foundation for the rest of your statement.


I googled “define power” and got “the ability to do something or act in a certain way”. Clearly a CEO who can outsource work at will and increase/ decrease wages at will has far more power than a grocery clerk who most of the time can not even bargain to be paid above the minimum wage, despite the fact that both are theoretically equal citizens granted equal voting power.

Furthermore, owning things allows one tremendous power in not only “acting a certain way” for their own benefit but power in “acting in a certain way” to alter the lives of others. Owning skills (e.g. being an engineer, lawyer, etc…) gives you limited power in controlling your own life (e.g. asking for a raise, moving to a better company,etc…) but not much in terms of controlling others. So, let’s say power is the ability to control one’s own life and the ability to shape and dominate the relations one has with others. Powerlessness is the inability to do so and taking the passive and obedient role in relations with others. And yes, Marx would probably agree.


LibertariCAN wrote on Aug 3rd, 2013 at 1:29am:
Most of the time, when people get into an undefined discussion of power, this sort of statement comes up as well, like the one you made:



What do you view as exploitation? Some say exploitation is simply when one benefits from the work of another in ANY way. Others say that in order for exploitation to occur, certain abuses must occur as well. What do you define as exploitation when you talk to us about the "reality of human society"?

On another note: True democracy as a concept is morally and practically flawed, and if that is one of the main ideals behind your statements, then your foundation is rotten.


Let’s, in line with the earlier part of my comment, say that exploitation is a person using their greater power or leverage to, with or without direct physical force, dominate and dictate their relations with another. With, of course, the intent of this relation being to further the interests of the powerful regardless of how it affects the powerless. E.g., my earlier Dante’s Inferno example would be a good example of exploitation. And yes, I believe in a limited democracy.


  

"You are horrified at our intending to do away with private property. But in your existing society, private property is already done away with for nine-tenths of the population." -Karl Marx
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Crystallas
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Re: True Democracy
Reply #5 - Aug 3rd, 2013 at 3:00am
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Proletariat wrote on Aug 3rd, 2013 at 2:30am:
I personally believe that the non-aggression axiom is really oversimplified and not that good of a moral code to go by in the first place as a society. The NAA essentially holds that a capitalist could walk into an impoverished country and open up a sweatshop straight out of Dante’s Inferno in which the otherwise starving population would “voluntarily” choose to work. (I put the word voluntarily in quotes because they did not have any actual alternatives in the first place worth considering) That same axiom holds that if these horrifically exploited workers, through the use of some force on the capitalist, took over this sweatshop and set out in operating it themselves would then be the bad guys. I am not a revolutionary by any means and I believe we can build a better society without force but simply saying no force= a good society is, in my humble opinion, deeply flawed.


The NAA is actually very complex. The issue is most people read the bold print, ignore the rest. ie: Google, find the wikipedia entry, walk out as if they understand how complex NAA is. Thus, why I just pointed out what libertarianism was, in a nutshell. Not a subjective view, but an objective position on libertarianism.

Proletariat wrote on Aug 3rd, 2013 at 2:30am:
Both libertarian and statist ideas have their place in a good society I would say.


As long as you understand the key difference. One deems to design(central planning, which is also idealism, utopian), while the other is voluntary with no design or insert-type society(non-utopian).

Proletariat wrote on Aug 3rd, 2013 at 2:30am:
I am mostly trying to get your critiques of my views of a better society.
The views presented were highly subjective. If this is the type of society you want to voluntarily associate yourself with, you are free to be, so as long as you aren't violating/coercing others.

Proletariat wrote on Aug 3rd, 2013 at 2:30am:
Democracy should be limited as not to infringe on personal rights by codified rules/laws, yes. Absolute democracy isn’t the answer. As for the sheep and the wolf, isn’t a perfect, stateless “free market”, at times negotiation between a sheep and a wolf on working conditions, salary, etc…?


Now your mixing anarchism and libertarianism while continuing the analogy. Like I said before, the "free market" perspective is compatible with libertarianism, but it is not tied to libertarianism. The same as statelessness is not tied to libertarianism, but compatible, and follows strains of anarcho-ideology. I'm trying to give you the correct answer to your statement, however, clarification is necessary. What I can apply, subjectively of my own view and opinion, wouldn't necessarily apply strictly to libertarianism. Therefore I prefer to be as objective as possible, until clarity is reached. You see, the problem we have here, is occasionally a new member comes in, asks a question that has been asked many times before(and they ask from a different position, than being any form of libertarian). The person continues the discussion with many demagogued views(strawmen) as if their perception matched the representation. The topic simply goes into circular logic, nobody likes each other very much, and nothing was gained or expanded on. Just the same cherry-picked facts, no progress, no discovery. Which is a total shame for anyone who honestly comes here to discuss such matters, and not troll the site with a view that they believe to be epiphany to the rest of us, when many here have already dissected each point multiple times. I'm not willing to throw you into that predjudice just yet, but I share that insight with you, so maybe you can understand where I, and maybe a few others here, come from.
  
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Re: True Democracy
Reply #6 - Aug 3rd, 2013 at 4:19am
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Crystallas wrote on Aug 3rd, 2013 at 3:00am:
The NAA is actually very complex. The issue is most people read the bold print, ignore the rest. ie: Google, find the wikipedia entry, walk out as if they understand how complex NAA is. Thus, why I just pointed out what libertarianism was, in a nutshell. Not a subjective view, but an objective position on libertarianism.


You're right, I gotta do some more reading on it. But, in your opinion and from your understanding of the NAA, who, in regards to the NAA, is acting morally/immorally in my hypothetical scenario?

Crystallas wrote on Aug 3rd, 2013 at 3:00am:
As long as you understand the key difference. One deems to design(central planning, which is also idealism, utopian), while the other is voluntary with no design or insert-type society(non-utopian).


Yeah I think I understand. I also do not necessarily reject the label "statist" for myself, I think the state can be a wonderful/horrible thing depending on how and by who it's used. Just like libertarianism can lead to some wonderful relationships and some awful ones, e.g. my dante's inferno example.

Crystallas wrote on Aug 3rd, 2013 at 3:00am:
The views presented were highly subjective. If this is the type of society you want to voluntarily associate yourself with, you are free to be, so as long as you aren't violating/coercing others.


Couldn't I say that if you wanted to live in a libertarian society, you are free to do so without co-ercing others? Wouldn't my hypothetical society force itself on your life as much as your society would on me?

Crystallas wrote on Aug 3rd, 2013 at 3:00am:
Now your mixing anarchism and libertarianism while continuing the analogy. Like I said before, the "free market" perspective is compatible with libertarianism, but it is not tied to libertarianism. The same as statelessness is not tied to libertarianism, but compatible, and follows strains of anarcho-ideology. I'm trying to give you the correct answer to your statement, however, clarification is necessary. What I can apply, subjectively of my own view and opinion, wouldn't necessarily apply strictly to libertarianism. Therefore I prefer to be as objective as possible, until clarity is reached. You see, the problem we have here, is occasionally a new member comes in, asks a question that has been asked many times before(and they ask from a different position, than being any form of libertarian). The person continues the discussion with many demagogued views(strawmen) as if their perception matched the representation. The topic simply goes into circular logic, nobody likes each other very much, and nothing was gained or expanded on. Just the same cherry-picked facts, no progress, no discovery. Which is a total shame for anyone who honestly comes here to discuss such matters, and not troll the site with a view that they believe to be epiphany to the rest of us, when many here have already dissected each point multiple times. I'm not willing to throw you into that predjudice just yet, but I share that insight with you, so maybe you can understand where I, and maybe a few others here, come from.


I understand, I am simply trying to see how other people's subjective views fit into my subjective views of what a good society for the working class should look like. My limited understading of libertarianism and the views of some libertarians hasn't exactly given me the image of it being the most pro-worker ideology in the world but hey, I still have a lot to learn about it.
  

"You are horrified at our intending to do away with private property. But in your existing society, private property is already done away with for nine-tenths of the population." -Karl Marx
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Crystallas
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Re: True Democracy
Reply #7 - Aug 3rd, 2013 at 4:51am
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Proletariat wrote on Aug 3rd, 2013 at 4:19am:
In regards to the NAA, is acting morally/immorally in my hypothetical scenario?


Anyone that would be forced in(or not have the power to opt out), would be violated. Individuals that do not want to be part of the system, do so for a reason. And those that do, is because you either; fufill their needs, wants, and motives through the best interests of each other(determined by the individual, and not others determining for them), or you brainwash them somehow with either strong tactics or very mild tactics.

Now, on other grounds, other than libertarianism(again, compatable, but not tied to): The economic standing of someone who gains ownership, must also be done without violating the NAA. Here we could get into economic law(not theory) of how the two most important factors could be easily ignored. The economic law of scarcity, and the pricing system. These are more commonly referred to as the law of Supply and Demand. However, the law of supply and demand only describes what happens within scarcity. The law itself(when I use the word law, I mean natural law. A law we have no authority over, can't falsify by writing legislature, or manipulate without an incredible amount of unintended consequences, much like the laws of physics) has given us a great deal of guidance on how to apply action in a society through the use of the marketplace. Human behavior in a marketplace of scarcity is extremely violent, contributes to enormous amount of theft, and is highly immoral without the means of peace we call the pricing structure.

The issue with ownership today, in a world where capitalism exists nowhere, and has not existed without the incredible manipulations of different ruling classes in a few lifetimes now. The special classes(which libertarianism is against, due to getting special treatment from the power of the state, more power the state has, the more power the privileged classes have, ect) would have normally been subject to the natural economic law of the marketplace. They would have failed, if they would have violated others. Instead, they are protected, and those who are weak, are not allowed to compete in the marketplace, unless they magically can afford the special permission(licenses, permits, credentials) to start their business.



Proletariat wrote on Aug 3rd, 2013 at 4:19am:
Couldn't I say that if you wanted to live in a libertarian society, you are free to do so without co-ercing others? Wouldn't my hypothetical society force itself on your life as much as your society would on me?
Mine isn't a society, and it is not forced onto you. I can not stress this word enough to anyone who is studying libertarianism, but the word non-utopian is quite a bit to wrap your head around. It's something you have to really think through. Without an understanding of utopian vs non-utopian, libertarianism makes little or no sense. Unfortunately, with new generations being raised with/by computers that work off a user giving a command, and the unit processing the command, the deep distinction is going through a period where individuals do not experience such concepts on a socio-developmental level.
  
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Re: True Democracy
Reply #8 - Aug 3rd, 2013 at 9:33am
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“A democracy is always temporary in nature; it simply cannot exist as a permanent form of government. A democracy will continue to exist up until the time that voters discover that they can vote themselves generous gifts from the public treasury. From that moment on, the  majority always votes for the candidates who promise the most benefits from the public treasury, with the result that every democracy will finally collapse over loose fiscal policy, (which is) always followed by a dictatorship.”-Alexander Tyler 1887


The thought of constructing a democracy within a business enterprise is pure lunacy and would thus doom the business to bankruptcy.  Are there rare occurrences where this has worked in a business? Sure, probably.  But when you turn over control of a enterprise to majority rule then you would quickly have those on the bottom, which would make up a majority, earning as much as the owner at the top.  The workers would agree to make (just to throw out numbers) $100,000 for their unskilled physical labor and they would all vote for the CEO to make $50,000 since he just sits in his office all day.  Without the financial incentive to be in business the owner would either shut down the business or sell the business off.  The workers, making so much money, would also vote themselves more leisure time, probably a new wave of hiring to spread the workload and in a very short amount of time complete dry up the financial assets of the company. 

If you look at the historical evidence of union labor you will see the same type of democracy at work.  The unskilled union laborers only care about themselves and their financial security when voting for union contracts and are easily swayed by their wealthier union bosses.  They do not have the interest of what is best for the business long term nor the environment nor any thing else in mind when voting democratically.

I dare say that the last thing we need in an effort to promote liberty and libertarianism is more democracy.
  

Keauxbi
"Anarchism is not a romantic fable but the hardheaded realization..."--Edward Abbey
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Re: True Democracy
Reply #9 - Aug 3rd, 2013 at 9:51am
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Proletariat wrote on Aug 3rd, 2013 at 2:44am:
I googled “define power” and got “the ability to do something or act in a certain way”. Clearly a CEO who can outsource work at will and increase/ decrease wages at will has far more power than a grocery clerk who most of the time can not even bargain to be paid above the minimum wage, despite the fact that both are theoretically equal citizens granted equal voting power.

Furthermore, owning things allows one tremendous power in not only “acting a certain way” for their own benefit but power in “acting in a certain way” to alter the lives of others. Owning skills (e.g. being an engineer, lawyer, etc…) gives you limited power in controlling your own life (e.g. asking for a raise, moving to a better company,etc…) but not much in terms of controlling others. So, let’s say power is the ability to control one’s own life and the ability to shape and dominate the relations one has with others. Powerlessness is the inability to do so and taking the passive and obedient role in relations with others. And yes, Marx would probably agree.

Let’s, in line with the earlier part of my comment, say that exploitation is a person using their greater power or leverage to, with or without direct physical force, dominate and dictate their relations with another. With, of course, the intent of this relation being to further the interests of the powerful regardless of how it affects the powerless. E.g., my earlier Dante’s Inferno example would be a good example of exploitation. And yes, I believe in a limited democracy.

First off, I do agree with you to a degree. Rich people and big businesses certainly have too much control over the economy. Especially in areas such as the media which is essentially run by a handful of companies. Which explains why all you see and hear is BS. Either BS about celebrities or BS about how Iran is evil.

That said, let me address some of the details of your post. As for the CEO who can change wages "At will" this is not actually accurate. If a CEO suddenly changed wages however he liked then he would lose a lot of his workers. Imagine if I as CEO (in a condition without the minimum wage) lower your wages from 7.25 to 3 dollars in one day. What do you think would happen? Do you think that the people working for me would say "well, nothing we can do!" or do you think that my competitors would gobble up most, if not all, of my employees? The forces of the markets (through such mechanisms as competition) determine the wages, not any one CEO. That is why even in a monopoly structure you do not see companies paying their workers too little because competition would spring up if they did, they couldn't keep up the low pay indefinitely.

As for your example of "exploitation" let me just say this. You said there are NO alternatives open to these people, right? So if the "exploiter" didn't arrive those people would have no job of any sort and would starve to death? So tell me again how the sweat job situation is worse... if this improves their lives then it appears to be a benefit, and not a negative situation. Sure the wages might not be great but any wage is better than no wage. Indeed, without the sweat job many people would starve to death or turn towards prostitution to simply survive. Why would you want to relegate people to such a miserable condition?

Also, as the country develops thanks to the "exploitative" sweat jobs and other investments you gradually see an improvement in quality of life as well as working conditions. This happened EVERY time. Look at Britain, the United States, Germany, and now China. They industrialized and started off with terrible conditions but now everyone is better off thanks to the initial investment. It takes time but Capitalism truly is the best situation in the long term.
  
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