Tuesday, June 03, 2014

Capital and individual effort, or Marx vs. the Marxists

Because the notion of a specific class determinism, while present in Marx's philosophy may not be nearly as important as some make it out to be. Social mobility is a factor in society, whether people like to admit it or not, with people regularly changing their lives for the better. Class, then, is not destiny, and this cuts both ways, with those on the bottom going up and those on the top going down.

What intervenes in society is not the literal circumstance that someone was born into but the force of capital itself. Society is stratified into those who work on the side of capital, and who benefit from it, and those who work for capital, and who are shut out of its benefits. This presents an implicit class system that exists despite social mobility, and that impedes, though it does not stop, the social mobility of individuals. There's a tendency for people who are born into circumstances where their family are beneficiaries from capital to maintain that status, and for those born into the other side to face extra obstacles in rising above their situation, yet these are still tendencies, not written in stone.

However, even if we lived in a world where social mobility was perfect, where people's status in society would be completely determined by their own talents and efforts or lack thereof, there'd still be the force of capital changing things, because it's not dependent on individuals but on the accumulation of money by large businesses distorting the system. Large business is the key here, as the often cited reality of small businesses coming and going, competing with each other, is less a collective factor that distorts the system than the influence of large businesses that have many resources.

Even with perfect social mobility, the winners would win more than the losers, because capital would still distort the benefits and disabilities that people in society would receive.

Additionally, the development of large businesses can't be reversed. The idealization of a world that has returned to small businesses purely is a fantasy. The development of capital itself is, in a sense, natural. The question, though, is who controls that capital. Is it in the hands of private entities, who use its power to enrich themselves and to push for a stratified society, or is it in the hands of the public at large, where instead of benefitting private power its benefits are shared by society at large and thereby work against a stratified system?

Capital, in a sense, can work against the natural tendency that it possesses if it's controlled by society in general as opposed to private hands.

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