Saturday, January 13, 2007

Teamwork & the Honest Devil

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Teamwork, in the capitalist world, is upheld as high moral virtue only insofar at it benefits the ends of a particular individual. Teamwork gets the job done with more efficiency; that much is true. However, should the focus of the teamwork vary from the goals of the capitalist i.e. establishing trade unions or initiating class action law suits, then said capitalist will suddenly retreat behind the drawbridge and moat of individualism. They like having it both ways. Who wouldn’t?

Those at the economic apex of our society enjoy the influence they have to manipulate the labor force in any direction they wish. They are in luck. Fortunately, most working class people don’t know when, how, or if they are being played. Few of us understand the intricacies of markets, interest rates, and even fewer of us have any sense of the grand-scale political lobbying efforts of international corporations. In their defense, the working people just can’t keep up with the round-the-clock technology, politics, and planning that capitalism puts into getting them to be more productive for less money. This is precisely why socialism is popular among academics; they have the available leisure, as part of their vocation, to study the material that history has provided.

For those of you in the capitalist world who don’t think that your economy is planned, you are in for a huge shock. It is quite carefully crafted, just not by anyone who has your best interest in mind. My employers are good people, but they regularly attend seminars designed to educate bosses on how to motivate employees without additional money or benefits. These courses train personnel managers how to threaten their employees without actually saying what they really mean i.e. work harder, shut up, or get fired. These courses instruct employers as to the legal limits of their coercive tactics and the loopholes available in labor law to avoid prosecution. So there is planning going on, and lots of it.

I don’t mean to say that businesses should operate without a plan to succeed. That would be economic suicide. The question is how exactly to define ‘success’ and what burdens will society be willing to endure to promote a successful business atmosphere. It should also not be implied that persons unsuitable for certain jobs or unwilling to conform to job requirements should be kept on the payroll no matter what. (This huge mistake the American unions kept repeating.) Yet, workers overall must have some legal protections, and that lazy numbskull, being of the labor force, should have those available to him as well. Like it or not, he is part of the team.

Socialism is teamwork that is from the beginning designed to benefit the whole team. It’s not as rigid as its detractors would have one imagine. It is also a human endeavor, subject to the vagaries of human application and malfeasance. Not every team ‘wins’ the game. Yet, at least, it is planned with the best intentions, and if planned properly, can rebound easily from disaster. It’s not perfect or necessarily more successful, just nobler in my humble opinion. Socialism doesn’t lie to me.

They say “The road to Hell is paved with good intentions.” Yet, what could be worse than no intent at all other than for selfish profit? After all, the capitalist imagines his intention is ‘good’, too! Whose version of Hell would you prefer? In the capitalist’s Hell, he gets to be the Devil. Do you want to give anyone that much power? Should anyone be able to act without a restraint, check, or balance to that power?

The greatest fear I have of Socialism is that the masses, in their messianic quest for that Utopian panacea, end up falling for an even worse sort of Devil than any form of capitalism currently offers. We saw this happen the USSR and China with Bastard Stalin and Asshole Mao. We see American Labor being run by corporate criminals and pacifiers no less morally reprehensible than those corporate forces they were hired to offset.

Either way, a regulated and cautious approach keeps the system honest and well maintained when serving humanity with the common good foremost in mind. A unified call for honesty would be nice start to a Great Revolution, if not provide for one hell of a revolution in its own right. Can we keep the Devil honest? Probably not. But we can restrain him and make him work a little for our best interests rather than merely just his own.

Vigilance!

Kol Tuv

3 comments:

Hrafnkel said...

I have a longer comment brewing, but I need clarification first. When you say:

Socialism is teamwork that is from the beginning designed to benefit the whole team. It’s not as rigid as its detractors would have one imagine. It is also a human endeavor, subject to the vagaries of human application and malfeasance. Not every team ‘wins’ the game. Yet, at least, it is planned with the best intentions, and if planned properly, can rebound easily from disaster. It’s not perfect or necessarily more successful, just nobler in my humble opinion. Socialism doesn’t lie to me.

Do you mean that every team member benefits equally? Or just that every member benefits in some way from the enterprise concerned?

Shlomo said...

Excellent question.

The difference is that in socialism we begin with the intent to benefit every worker/citizen. In capitalism, that benefit may or may not exist but where it does it is an unintended and unevenly applied consequence.

Hrafnkel said...

Thanks for your added input. Would you confirm that I am properly interpreting you in the following:

In Aronovitzian Socialism, potential future benefits definitely exist and the division of them among every concerned group member is equal.

In other words, if Mo set up a window washing company, and hired Larry and Abbot, the money earned by Larry and Abbot from their various customers would be pooled and then equally divided three ways. Yea or nay?