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View Diary: Socialism is like total equality y'know. (70 comments)

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  •  Think of it this way -- (1+ / 0-)
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    shaharazade

    Why would Marx want to begin the new society on meritocratic principles?  One simple answer would be that he wanted to reward those who did the most to create this new society, and as an incentive for everyone else to do the same.

    "It takes great courage to see the world in all its tainted glory, and still to love it." Oscar Wilde

    by Cassiodorus on Mon May 13, 2013 at 07:58:33 PM PDT

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    •  One problem: (6+ / 0-)

      Who decides which persons are deserving of greater merit, and which behaviors should be incentivized?

      One would need a state to do this, it seems. I'm thinking of the peasants in Bolshevik Russia whose agricultural produce was appropriated for urban workers who were considered more deserving and vital, and the peasants were left to go hungry, deprived of the fruits of their own labor.

      And who decides which qualities have more merit? The person who provides levity to the workplace with humor, even if they are less energetic, may be just as vital to a functioning team as the most productive worker. The strong person endowed with brute strength has a place along with the person with a brilliant intellect.

      So when we begin to reward some behaviors, who decides which ones have more merit?

      "In times of universal deceit, telling the truth will be a revolutionary act." -George Orwell

      by ZhenRen on Tue May 14, 2013 at 12:44:32 AM PDT

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      •  To determine merit there must be a purpose (1+ / 0-)
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        zett

        toward which activity is directed. The relative merit then would be in the contribution toward enactment of progress in the direction of the purpose. Many purposes can be imagined. If simply focused on the machine of production with a goal of more then those who contributed the most to creating more would be perceived as being most meritorious. If focused on the health of the whole system, as best we can understand it, processes that produce enough with less work might be seen as meritorious. making or teaching others to make music or write poetry might be seen as valuable if it related to a purpose. It gets more complicated with more complicated purposes.

        Love = Awareness of mutually beneficial exchange across semi-permeable boundaries. Political and economic systems either amplify or inhibit Love.

        by Bob Guyer on Tue May 14, 2013 at 06:51:26 AM PDT

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        •  This could open the door (4+ / 0-)

          to elites deciding to give themselves more merit and thus more rewards, creating a hierarchy of merit. So, I'm wondering how this would be decided, and by whom?

          It could make people feel manipulated, as if a grand orchestrator were moving them about like pawns in a chess game. Too much like capitalism, and the overarching state.

          "In times of universal deceit, telling the truth will be a revolutionary act." -George Orwell

          by ZhenRen on Tue May 14, 2013 at 08:15:25 AM PDT

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          •  This is a practical problem. (0+ / 0-)

            I"m sure there's a solution.

            "It takes great courage to see the world in all its tainted glory, and still to love it." Oscar Wilde

            by Cassiodorus on Tue May 14, 2013 at 08:35:57 AM PDT

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            •  Imagine... (5+ / 0-)

              A group of workers self-managing an industry. They are discussing and forming consensus on which work and which persons will be afforded more merit, and yet each person (presumably) has an equal voice in deciding this scale by direct democracy.

              Will they willingly and democratically decide that some members are more valuable than others? And if this is true, will this lead to some members having a greater influence in decision making, if their decisions/work/contributions produce more in the workplace?

              See where this leads? If we reward merit, do we reward better decision makers? Give them more authority? Once we go down this path, the whole thing unravels into hierarchy. And hierarchy is not compatible with consensus, unless it is a body of elites forming the consensus.

              "In times of universal deceit, telling the truth will be a revolutionary act." -George Orwell

              by ZhenRen on Tue May 14, 2013 at 08:48:54 AM PDT

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    •  You still haven't explained how defects, as Marx (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      AoT

      calls (what you call) meritocratic principles can be something he was interested in as the foundation of a new society. In the preceding paragraph of the Critique, Marx writes that making the distributional rights "proportional to the labor they supply" (original emphasis) "tacitly recognizes unequal individual endowment, and thus productive capacity, as a natural privilege. It is, therefore, a right of inequality, in its content[.]" This does not read to me like an endorsement of meritocratic principles, which in the very next paragraph Marx calls "defects."

      Nor is this a uniquely Marxist perspective. John Rawls, observing that the distribution of natural assets--what Marx called "unequal individual endowment"-- is arbitrary, writes in A Theory of Justice "no one deserves his place in the natural distribution of assets any more than he deserves his initial starting place in society."

      Without having to get to socialism (although not inimical, I think, to social democracy), much less a higher stage of communism, Rawls presents justice as fairness as a frameowork for reconciling, in lexical order, liberty, a fair equality of opportunity, and the difference principle.

      Shalom v' salaam; peace and wholeness

      by another American on Tue May 14, 2013 at 06:10:21 AM PDT

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      •  As I read it (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        AoT, socindemsclothing

        giving incentives to build socialism was for Marx only a temporary measure.

        "It takes great courage to see the world in all its tainted glory, and still to love it." Oscar Wilde

        by Cassiodorus on Tue May 14, 2013 at 08:54:35 AM PDT

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        •  Incentives, at least as (0+ / 0-)

          I understand them, do not equal an endorsement of, or interest to found society on, meritocratic principles. But we may have taken this conversation as far as it can go.

          Shalom v' salaam; peace and wholeness

          by another American on Tue May 14, 2013 at 09:07:18 AM PDT

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