Sunday, January 24, 2016

On Proudhon by Karl Marx January 1865

P. J Proudon's The Philosophy of Misery, or the System of Economical Contradictions (1846) contains a long section on competition which attempts to show that because the aims of communism are hostile to competition, communism is utopian, that it is merely a dream. (We quote from the English Edition of 1888)

" competition is as essential to labour as division, since it is division itself returning in another form, or rather raised to its second power.. competition is in a word is liberty in division and in all the divided parts (Page 223) Competition is a principle of social economy, a decree of destiny, a necessity of the human soul.. (p229) " Man rouses from his idleness only when want fills him from anxiety; and the surest way to extinguish his genius .. is to take away from him all hope of profit and of social distinction which results from it (page 234) competition on its useful side should be universal and carried to its maximum of intensity. (page 251).

"Can competition in labour be abolished ? It would be as well worth while to ask if personality, liberty, indivudual responsibility can be supressed (page 258) there can be no question of destroying competition, as impossible as to destroy liberty: the problem is to find its equilibrium,
I would willing say its police (page 261)

" They ( the communists) say : emulation is not competition. But emulation is nothing but competition itself. There is no emulation without an object: just as there is no passional initiative without an object, and as the object of every passion is analogus to the passion itself, woman to the lover, gold to the miser, crown to the poet - so the object of industrial emulation is profit. Why substitute for the immediate object of emulation, which is personal welfare, that far away and almost metaphysical motive called general welfare, especially when the latter is nothing without the former and can result only in the former.

"My sole reply to him ( the communist) shall be : In denying competition you abandon the thesis: henceforth you have no place in the discussion.

The question is the solution of the problem of competition - that is the reconciliation of egoism with social necessities: spare your moralities (page 225-6)

But if they the ( the communists) now fall back upon the hypothesis of transformation of our nature, unprecedented in history.. its is nothing more than a dream... a contradiction given to the most certain economic sciences; and my only reply is to exclude it from the discussion (page 228)

Man may love his fellow well enough to die for him; he does not love him well enough to work for him"

Because of its hostility to competition " Communism is the very denial of society in its foundation" and the communists are "incessantly confounding matters of reason with those of sentiment" (page 283)

The above may have been written by the great annd fearless revisionist Marxist Ota Sik himself.

But let us see how the unrepentant Communist Karl Marx replied to the Philosophy of Misery in the Misery of Philosophy (1848) and we will see the aptness of his reply to the present day philosophers of misery, the solemn, long faced, mournful and miserable ideologists of market socialism.

"M Proudhon begins by defending the eternal necessity of competition against those who wish to replace it with emulation. Competition is emulation with a view to profit. Is industrial emulation necessarily emulation with a view to profit, that is competition ? M Proudhon proves it by affirming it. ( page 163)

"If the immediate object of a lover is a woman, the immediate object of industrial emulation is the product and not the profit."

"Competition is not industrial emulation it is commercial emulation. In our time industrial emulation exists only with a view to commerce. There are even phases in the life of modern nations when everybody is seized with a sort of craze for making profit without producing. This speculation craze which recurrs periodically, lays bare the true character of competition, which seeks to escape the need for industrial emulation (page 165).

The distinction between competition and emulation is of crucial importance. "Competition is not industrial emulation, It is commercial emulation" " The immediate object of industrial emulation is the product and not the profit".

This distinction between competition and emulation is blurred by all varieties of opportunism. It is easy to see why revisionists should wish to blurr it so as to make competition appear as a category of production as such instead of being mere a category of the commercial system.

On the other hand there are some so called anti revisionists who represent Stakhanovism, for example as a system of competition instead of industrial emulation. Thus revisionism and petty bourgeois Utopianism blur this vital distinction.

Bu it is clear that industrial emulation, in which the object is the product, is entirely different from , and of infinitely more significance in the development of the productive forces than, competition, whose object is profit made on the sale of the product.

As for Proudhon's good and bad sides of competition which recurs in modern revisionism, and the notion that what is required is to abolish the bad side of competition, while maintaining and developing its good side;

" They all want competition without the lethal effects of competition. They all want the impossible, namely the conditions of bourgeois existence without the necessary consequences of those conditions (page 213)

The "bad side" is an integral part of the competitive relationship.The is no possibility of retaining the competitive relationship while eliminating is "bad side".

Proudhon saw it as a necessity of the human soul that only competitive struggle for profit roused man from his innate tendency to idelness and stagnation.

This notion also recurs as a fundamental part of political economy of modern revisionism. The effect of the bourgeois system is represented as the cause of the bourgeois ( or market socialist ) system in human nature.

Marx commented;

" the bourgeois man is to them the only possible basis of every society; they cannot imagine a society where men have ceased to be bourgoeis (213).

"M. Proudhon does not know that all history is nothing but a continuous transformation of human nature" (page 165)

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